The Blakes can’t resist having a little friendly competition before the wedding.
Teri-Lyn loved the energy on the ranch, which was bustling with family members and good friends. The grandkids were having a good time with the exception of Jake, who spent most of his time dodging the affection of Patton and Nina’s daughter Gabby. They argued most of the time but it usually ended with her trying to give him a hug which he hated.
She loved it when the boys were that age, they didn’t want affection from anyone but their mama. She remembered the first pretty little girl who came to the ranch to see if she and J.J. could do homework together. She wanted to throttle her when she flashed that seemingly innocent smile and tell her to keep away from her oldest baby who was twelve at the time. Jake had a few more years before the girls came calling but she did have Morgan for reinforcements this time. John Jacob said that the two of them would be swatting girls off the ranch with brooms for years to come.
She pulled up to the field decorated for the paintball game just in time to see her competitive brood trash talking each other and getting ready to wage war. Tyler, who was in charge of the event, launched into a lengthy speech about conduct and safety. J.J. and Tate heckled him while Sam, Isabelle and Summer were busy accessorizing. Channing, the consummate attorney, was collecting injury disclaimers from everyone.
“If anyone is having second thoughts, now is the time. We don’t want to make any hospitals runs before next Saturday.” Tyler said into the bullhorn.
“I have a few objections. Some of us are more skilled than others and there’s a definite disadvantage.” Bo yelled out.
“Like who?” J.J. huffed.
“Your wife. Sam is some kind of crazy sharp shooter.” Bo replied.
“Summer is a professional gamer. She should be disqualified.” J.J. fired back.
Channing looked up from the clip board. “Fine they won’t be on the same team.”
“Cassie’s a ringer and shouldn’t be teamed up with either of them. I heard she’s a paintball champ.” Tate added.
Teri-Lyn took a long look at Cassidy, who was studying the map of the playing area. She did look like she’d done this before.
“Are we going to be finished in the next half hour? I have a pedicure appointment.” Michelle checked her watch.
“We’ll probably be here for the rest of the day. But I promise to try to put everyone out of their misery by dinner time.” Tyler winked.
“I’m out.” She shook her head and gave him a kiss. “Fight the good fight for both of us.”
Teri-Lyn looked over at Morgan, who was helping Seth get ready. She wasn’t dressed for the game. “Morgan, you’re not playing?”
“She’s sitting this one out.” Seth blurted out.
“I’m going to give Avery and Wyatt a break from watching the boys.” She smiled.
“Funny how Wyatt jumped at the chance to babysit.” Seth’s jaw ticked.
“That’s because the co-babysitter is cute as a button.” Isabelle quipped.
The men all looked at her like she’d said something blasphemous. John Jacob and Bo Sr. pulled up and joined them.
“You should have seen him jogging with me and Avery the other day.” J.J. laughed.
“Wyatt doesn’t jog.” Bo scratched at his beard.
“Oh I know. He was trying to impress her. I thought I was going to have to carry him back to Bo’s place.” J.J. mused.
“We need to have another talk with Captain Hot Pants.” Channing leafed through the disclaimers, double checking the signatures.
“Just make sure they don’t go off on any long walks.” Jared inspected his paint gun.
“Or anywhere near the stables.” Tyler chimed in.
“Why don’t we just tie them up until the wedding?” Teri-Lyn shook her head. Wyatt had already received two stern warnings and he still couldn’t stop smiling at Avery. “Morgan, want some company? I don’t think I want to witness this massacre.”
“Mama I was counting on you to be the impartial judge. I think there’s a few cheaters amongst us.” Tyler pouted.
“Sorry baby. Morgan and I can catch up while we take the boys miniature golfing.”
“OK, Daddy. You and Bo can officiate.”
“What makes you think we’re not participating?” John Jacob bellowed.
The crowd went silent.
“Daddy, come on. You and Bo need to save all your energy for the bachelor party. We’re going to be out until midnight at least.” Tyler suppressed a smile.
“Well, think again.” John Jacob nodded at Bo Sr.
“I’m in the mood to kick some ass.” Bo Sr. chuckled.
It had officially gotten insane. She had to draw the line.
“Mr. Blake, can I talk to you for a minute?” Teri-Lyn wiggled her index finger at her husband, who happily walked over to her.
“Yes, dear.” He smiled at her.
“You’re not really going to play, are you?”
“Yes, I am.”
“You hurt your back trying to get Jack’s toy from under the couch the other day.”
“That toy was in a really odd place. I don’t know how Jack got it back there.”
She caressed his arm. “Ty was just kidding with you. I can assure you that you haven’t lost a step and have nothing to prove.”
“Remember that conversation we had about feeling old?”
“Gotcha.” She knew that look in his eye. His motivation for playing was the same reason she played tennis with the ladies. John Jacob had to give her aspirin and rub her down with heat rub cream that night. “Just be careful and take it easy on them.”
“I make no promises.” He winked at her, then turned to his brood. “Bo and I have Sam, Cassie, Summer and Isabelle against the boys.”
“I’ll have the heat rub ready.” Teri-Lyn laughed, linked arms with Morgan and walked back to the truck.
I hope you enjoyed the pre-edited excerpt! Release date September 21st!
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