Authors: Diana Fisher
2014, Diana Fisher
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author/publisher.
I would like to give a very special thank you to my editor, Genevieve Scholl
at Big Bang Book Services for your editing, cover design, and formatting services. You truly are amazing and I can’t thank you enough for all your help. Without you, I would be lost. You have helped me turn this dream into a reality and I can’t thank you enough. Thank you, Warren Schmidt, for your insights about farming and all the long talks. I’m sure it didn’t seem like you helped me much, but you did more than you know by just being you. Gail Fischer, Tammie Olson, and Brittney Klein, thank you all for being there when I needed you the most. Your friendship means a lot to me and I cherish the time we spent together talking about this book and about life in general. Mom, thank you for giving me life and watching my back when I need to be watched. You are the best mom I could ever have and I thank heavens every day that you are a part of my life. To all my friends and family in North Dakota, Wisconsin (and beyond), and my military family around the world, thank you all for your support and love. I could never ask for better people in my life than the ones I have because I am already blessed with the best. Your support and encouragement has given me the courage to fulfill my passion and dream. Thank you all for being a part of my life.
holding the new pair of black cowboy boots, I couldn’t be more proud or think of a better way to spend my money. They were ones Emmer drooled over every time we went to Billings. Every time, no matter what our city mission was, even if we had to go way out of our way, we always had to stop at Buck’s Western Wear and Gear. And the fifteen times we were there, I saw her looking over the boots. Most women wouldn’t see anything special about those boots, but with her, they were black, simple, and…..her. The best two hundred and fifty dollars ever spent.
Today was her day. Today, she would be graduating
High School and there wasn’t anywhere else I would rather be. From what she was when she first came to live with us to now, I have seen her change so much. Not just into a beautiful woman, but one I knew I wanted to be with the rest of my life. No other woman would complete my world except for her.
Emmerson Cogwell stood at her bedroom window with her golden hair pulled up into her ponytail as usual.
Her dark blue tee shirt hung from her shoulders, hiding the painful past she endured in the life before living with us. As usual, her jeans were fitting to her strong legs she built up working beside me since the day I met her. On her dresser, her books and magazines were piled around the photo of her matching heart, the large dark gray horse splattered with the lighter gray spots. Hanging on the wall was the picture of her and I, her sitting on my lap, legs over mine, and her head on my shoulder as I just held her and let my love cradle her.
That photo of us was one I bought from the proofs of our family photos and I wanted to keep it, but with that look she gave me, those aqua puppy-dog eyes, she had me. I framed it in a nice wooden frame and let her have it. Why not? After tonight, after her graduation party, I was going to tell her just how much I loved her and wanted her to be in my life. I even had a spot on my wall for when she moved down to my place with me.
For now, that photo was just fine hanging on that wall of her bedroom. After tonight, it would have its permanent place on my living room wall where I made a spot for it just yesterday.
Her head turned slowly as the tear dripped from her chin. Crying? No, this wasn’t a day I wanted to see
tears on her face. Anytime she had tears, I felt worthless. She was the only woman I would ever feel like that when she was crying. Most men were uncomfortable with tears, but I hadn’t been until I had seen Emmer cry. I hated it. I hated seeing her crying because she endured enough before she lived with us. That pain she lived in, that horror, I never wanted her to go through that again.
Honey…..You have to get ready!” My mom’s cheerful voice drifted down the hall. “Emmer, I am serious. We have to leave in a little bit.” When the short, wispy light brown haired woman looked around the doorway, her smile instantly fell and those greenish tinted hazels opened wide. “Honey, what’s wrong?”
Emmer’s thin, beautiful pink lips pressed toget
her as her sparkling aqua eyes turned to me. Her chin quivered as she held back as much as she could. “Ben’s not outside.”
Setting the boots on the foot of her bed, I walked over to her
and caught her in my arms as the dams broke free, releasing the fury of salty waters. Cupping the back of the blonde silky strands, I pressed her tight to my chest. Graduation should be the best day of any kid’s life, exciting and scary. I knew Emmer was going to have a hard time with today, but I hadn’t realized that it would bring her back into the fear she once had when she first came to live with us.
“Honey, it’s okay. Today is going to be so good. It’s the day you walk across that stage and get what you worked so hard for….” My mom’s
gentle hand rested on Emmer’s back, carefully rubbing and trying to give the crying girl some comfort.
“I don’t want to go, Connie
. I don’t.” Her arms wrapped around my waist, removing as much space between us as she could. Every once in a while, Emmer fell back into her past, especially when anything came to her being the center of attention. And now, graduation was something else that was a day for her and she hated it.
“It’s okay, Tyke. Everyone will be there.” I had to talk her down. I had to talk her into going
, as much as I would rather we just stayed at the ranch and let it pass as we did her birthday, but this was her graduation and she had to be there. My parents weren’t going to let her get out of this one.
“I overheard you talking to Rob about having to go somewhere so you aren’t going to be there.” When those eyes came up to me, I felt everything rush through me. My
heart slammed hard and the hunger to kiss her swirled inside my stomach. But I couldn’t, not yet. Tonight, I would. Tonight, I would finally kiss her and I wasn’t going to ever stop.
“Would you rather me be there?” I didn’t have anything to do. There would be no way I would ever miss her graduation, but I made some excuse to my younger brothers about not being
able to be there. And why not? From what I understood, the second oldest Huck boy, Marc, wasn’t going to be there either.
“I need you there.” Her voice softened as the tears trickled down her face. If that wasn’t enough to make me drop everything in the world for her, I didn’t know what would be. Yes, she was the only woman who brought me to that, to being so…whipped.
Her tears, her smile, her eyes just got me to fall at her feet each and every time.
“Alright. If it means you stop crying and get ready
….” Brushing my fingers against the peachy velvet of her cheek, my eyes staying locked on hers. I took her all in, admiring everything that was at my fingertips. She was my weakness, my strength, and everything in between. And soon, she was going to be my morning, my evening, and everything that my day consisted of. “And I have these for you to wear.”
Motioning to the boots on
her bed, I smiled as the warmth filled through me. This was perfect. Absolutely perfect; and I couldn’t think of anything else that would or could make this day any better. Tonight would, but that was after her little bon fire party.
Regaining her tears and her composure, Emmer straightened up and turned to the boots. Her eyes shot open wide as the loud squeal came through the air. “Paul!”
“Emmer!” Like I said, the best two hundred fifty dollars, and one lie, spent. How could I not feed her a line so I could get to the store without her there? She always went to Billings with me, but I had to lie to her just that one time to get her to stay home. And that whole trip, I never felt sicker for doing it. I hated it. I hated the lie I fed her, that she had no idea I went to Billings, but seeing her all lit up, all happy to get those boots, it was worth it.
“Those are beautiful.” Mom gasped as she reached out
, taking them from my Palomino goddess. “Let me put a little treatment on the leather first. It will take me just a few minutes. Finish getting ready because we will have to go pretty soon.”
With my mom walking out with the boots, Emmer’s bright eyes turned back to me as her hands wrenched tightly in front of her. I could tell she loved me just the same as I did her. That look was never given to another man and I was glad. I was glad to have that love of hers. This was more than just me saving her life four years ago. A lot more.
“A little help here!” Marc’s voice filled the house as the struggle caused the screen door to slap hard against the house and the heavy clumping on the porch echoed through the kitchen and down the hall to Emmer’s room. “Stop! Just….Be a damn horse for once!”
Stepping closer to her, I cuppe
d her cheek in my hand as she cuddled into it. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. She did feel the same about me, and tonight I was going to let her know how I felt. And tonight, I wouldn’t have to stop myself from kissing her, from holding her, and from letting my love of her free for everyone to know. Tonight, I would be free from the lies and the torturous nights of lying in my bed alone with my thoughts consumed by her. “Let’s get you graduated, and then tonight….”
“Jackson’s going to have a kitten with Rob’s friends over.” Rolling her eyes, she let out her breath
as she came closer to me. Her head rested against my chest, taking in the thumping of my heart, the heart that only she could get to beat.
“Don’t worry about
Dad. I will take care of him. And Rob’s friends are your friends, Emmer. Just don’t go falling in love with any of them tonight.” The thought slapped me a little. No, she would never fall in love with one of my brother’s friends. Her love was for me. She would never love someone as much as she loved me.
“Greg will be here.” Pulling from me as if she didn’t care, the little s
nicker came out playfully. Greg, the one who stole her first date from me. But in the end, I got him back. I was the one who brought her home that night. I had to. Drenched from the rain and looking absolutely perfect, I had to take in all that beauty. No one else would ever see her as what she was, what I saw her as.
“He just better keep his distance from you.”
That night was one that kept me going at night when I couldn’t have her there. It was the night I saw everything Emmer had to offer and became extremely jealous to have another man ever see. Not on my life would another man lay eyes on that goddess. She would be mine someday and that day was coming very soon…Tonight, as a matter of fact.
“Paul!” Her eyes rolled over to me as she batted her long lashes. “You’re the only one for me.”
My heart pulverized every muscle in my chest. That was what I was hoping for, waiting to hear from her lips, and wanting for this past year. She had been all I could think about since last summer and the only woman since that I wanted anything to do with. I just had to wait until she graduated and then….tonight, tonight she would be mine.
! I need some help!” Marc’s voice interrupted again as the battle with the damn horse filled through the whole house. Ben was fighting back, trying his hardest to get in and with that damn horse. It was easy. Ben muscled everyone except Emmer. Whenever it came to Emmer, that damn horse was a teddy bear. Something Emmer had with Ben and me. Putty in her hands.
“You better go and save your
.” Motioning to the door, I smiled while taking in the scent of the soft body wash mixed with a little horse. Her scent was the best scent in the world and it was a scent that was only her. One I would never get tired of smelling either.
“No! No! You get out!” Mom’s voice mixed in with laughter coming from my two youngest brothers.
“I love you, Paul. I do.” Her eyes glistened as she gave me one last look before retreating to the hall.
the picture of us on the wall, I couldn’t help but smile. That photo would soon be hanging in my house just down the little dirt road from my parents and Emmer would be crawling in bed with me every night. Soon, but I just had to wait until tonight after her party.
him out!” My mom’s voice intensified the laughter from the two youngest and curses from the second oldest. “Who didn’t lock the screen door?”
“That would have been Paul
,” Will, the youngest of all the kids, offered. My baby brother. The one who offered the truth all the time when it came to Emmer and Ben. Being the youngest, he sure did like seeing Dad and Emmer go at it just to watch the big man cower down to a kitten to her. We all did, but I think Will enjoyed it more than anyone.
Making my way out, I looked at the chubby cheeked one that resembled my mom the most with the
hazel eyes that had more of a green tint to them. Will’s dimples were showing and he made no attempt at helping Emmer contain her animal.
The second from the youngest
had his phone out, recording the eighteen hand tall horse in the kitchen in the search for his apples and Emmer. That was Rob. He always had to capture the best moments in the Huck household and always brought them out when the timing was just right. Hell, he must have just gotten out of the shower as he stood there with no shirt on, his jeans hanging low on his hips, and the water dripping from his lighter brown hair. The laughing mostly came from him, but that was Rob. No matter what, he brought those little videos out to catch Emmer trying to sweet talk her way out of being in trouble with Dad.
It wasn’t that Will and Rob had it out for Emmer, but they were the ones
who developed that strong sibling sense with her the most. I think it was all because the three had gone to school at the same time so they spent the most time together. After Rob graduated, he went on this year to college, but came home every weekend just to hang out with Emmer…..and to get her to help him with his homework.
Marc lunged across the kitchen to catch the glass bowl of apples before it fell on the floor. His tie whipped over his shoulder and his deep burgundy dress shirt bunched up in the back. The rather large horse turned quickly in anger over his apples getting taken away
, knocking my second oldest brother into the island table.
“Emmer, get him out!” Mom clutched the black leather boots to her chest as she backed into the far corner as Ben’s large black eyes turned to her. With his ears perking forward, loud grunts came from him
as he was likely wondering what she was keeping from him. “Emmer, please! He’s…..He’s….Coming after me!”