Texas Redemption(138)

By: Linda Broday

“Makes two of us, darlin’. We’ll face our fear together.”

“What assurance do I have you’ll not up and leave on me?”

“The word of a Johnny Reb. Does that mean anything?”

“What about the ugly whispers? Can you face those?”

“They best not let me hear ’em.” He itched to give the gossips a dose of the Brodie Remedy.

“Gossip is hard to silence. They may run us out of town.”

“Let ’em try. Let’s get married right now, this very day.”

“Spit and thunder, you’re not in any hurry, are you?”

“I’ll make an honest woman of you,” he growled. “My name hanging on the end of yours will solve most problems. They’ll think twice before opening their big mouths.” At least folks would know who looked out for her. “Anything else?”

Sweet Jezzie, he prayed not. Her naked body was doing things beyond his control. No telling what would happen if he denied the urge much longer. He inched a finger up and down her long legs in sensual, tiny circles. He yearned to fill every lonely nook and cranny inside this beautiful lady with his love.

“Just one more thing. This honest woman business…I can’t build a life on lies.”

“Then it’s about time you went home.” His grin came from the place where old memories died and new ones were born. “To make it perfectly clear…you’re accepting my proposal?”

“Aye, aye, Sir Pirate.” Laurel ruffled the hair on his neck and drew him near. Her throaty whisper made him tremble. A little thing he predicted would never change. “I love you, Brodie Yates. Don’t you be forgetting it.”

“I’m sure you’ll remind me a few thousand times.”

“We’ve spent a lifetime thinking of what might have been. I prefer focusing on bright tomorrows, not to mention moonlit nights we’ll share.”

“Umm, moonmist. Knew that scent was familiar.”

Laurel slid from beneath the nuzzling assault on her neck.

“You said that was the musky aroma of moonbeams bathing an aroused woman. Impossible in broad daylight.”

He massaged the tips of her breasts between forefinger and thumb. “You certain?”

“Adeline…Hannah…” Her breathless words trailed.

“They can wait.”

Several hours later Laurel wiggled into the saddle atop Smokey. Adeline and Hannah rode in the buggy. A horde of flutters whipped her stomach into froth.

“Thought you learned what happens to little girls who insist on rubbing a man the right way.” Snake rattles on his worn Stetson hissed. Brodie looped the reins around the horn and wrapped her in the security of his arms.

“What will I say to my family?”

“The truth. Quit worrying. I’m right here with you.”

Miles passed until at last they wound down the lane through tall sycamore and pine. Rounding the last bend, Laurel glimpsed the house. Adeline and Hannah climbed from the buggy. Blue Boy abandoned the porch, racing for her.

She slid from the saddle and ran to meet the dog. “Blue, I’ve brought someone special. This is Brodie.”

Brodie dismounted and rubbed the dog’s droopy ears. “Hey, fella.”

“Everyone, look who I found,” Hannah said.

A woman stepped onto the porch, shielding her eyes from the sun. Laurel slipped her palm inside Brodie’s.

“Saints be praised. Hannah, you gave us such a fright when you disappeared. I saw it happening all over again.”

“Two men abducted me, but Laurel fought them. It’s her, Mama.”

“Laurel? Our Laurel?”

Brodie gave Laurel’s hand a reassuring squeeze.

“Yes, it’s me, Mama.”

“Hannah, get your papa from the barn.” Tears streamed down the aged face Laurel had so often dreamed about. Mary James gathered her lost daughter close. “I can’t believe it, child.”

Laurel had tears as well. “Many nights I laid awake, my soul dying bit by bit, willing myself back here. Now I am.”

“Baby girl, rest on my shoulder. Soak up all the love I saved special for you. Everything’s right as rain now.”

Long-deprived senses soaked up the aromas of vanilla and fresh-baked bread. She had come to the birthplace of her roots. She snuggled into the soft haven, barely aware of footsteps.