Tyler and Michelle arrive!
Tyler Blake got to work on the snowman as soon as he and Michelle arrived. He was delighted to get away with her for a long overdue vacation but looked forward to spending time with the other couples in the family too. Married life had been treating him well. Some days it seemed like madness with his racing schedule and her filming her cooking show while keeping a watchful eye over the bookstore. But he’d do whatever he needed to keep her happy, even if it meant working at Reed Bradley Books in his spare time. Sure he mostly stayed in the office or stocked the shelves. Michelle said he was too much of a distraction when helping customers. They were more interested in smiling at him than making a purchase.
Michelle’s cooking show was extremely popular and she received tons of mail from viewers. She loved engaging with her fans and often replied to correspondence personally instead of relying on the production staff to do it. But her enthusiasm changed when she received an email from someone claiming to be a relative of her birth mother. She tried to dismiss it as some wacko who’d probably gotten a hold of her bio somewhere.
Tyler didn’t see it that way. What kind of person pretended to be a long-lost relative as some kind of joke? And what if this person were telling the truth? He’d talked to Sam about it and she vowed to get to the bottom of it. He was hoping they could forget about it while on vacation but that’s all he could think about the past few days.
“Something hot and sweet for my hot sweetie.” Michelle smiled as she came towards him with a thermos. “It’s my special hot chocolate.”
“Thank you baby.” He kissed her.
“So, how’s Mortimer coming along?” She poured some of the hot brew into the thermos cup and held it up to his lips for him to sip.
“He’s almost finished. All we need to do is decorate him.” Tyler took a long red scarf out of his jacket pocket and draped it around the snowman’s neck. “I put in a secret compartment for snowballs.”
“Why on earth would you do that?”
“Let’s face it. A snowball fight is inevitable.” He smirked. “My money’s on Seth being the instigator.”
“I have a feeling you’re going to goad him into it.” She laughed. “Continue.”
“C.J. will be the first person to notice the dimensions are off. Tate’s going to pretend he’d not interested all the while eyeballing the surroundings. Bo’s going to be out for revenge for that time I pushed him into the pool. J.J.’s going to yell at everybody to behave but he’ll have something up his sleeve.”
“You know this trip is supposed to be about romance.”
“I could practice making babies with you in a shoe box. The snowy locale is a bonus.” He grinned.
“Let’s finish up and take a walk through town? Sam says it’s really picturesque.”
“OK.” He put his arm around her.
* * *
Sam was right about the town. The main street of the ski community was idyllic, like it had come to life from an oil painting. People draped in warm winter gear perused the quaint shops and chatted boisterously with each other in the eateries. He got a map of the various terrains he could ski at the information station. The trick would be getting Michelle to join him. She loved snow but she wasn’t fond of falling all the time. He vowed to find an easy trail that wouldn’t be too hard for her to navigate.
He tried to purge his mind of thoughts of that email but he couldn’t. Michelle seemed to have something on her mind too, she stopped in front of a crystal figurine store and squeezed his hand.
“I have to tell you something and before I do, you have to promise it won’t ruin our vacation.” She said.
“How can I promise something like that? Now I’m worried.”
“Nothing to be worried about.” She bit her lip. “But I received another email today.”
“I was checking my messages in the house while you were working on Mortimer and saw it.”
“Why didn’t you come and tell me as soon as you read it?”
“Sam had come into the kitchen to get something to drink, so I showed it to her. I told her we were here to have a good time so I convinced her to let me forward it to Kendrick. Besides it’s not like they emailed me a picture of a gun and threatened to kill me. It was the same thing about wanting to meet and talk. Look at that.” She pointed to a swan in the window display of the shop. “I think Teri-Lyn would like that.”
“We’re not changing the subject.”
“I told you, it’s probably some nut. The same thing happened to my parents. Some mysterious aunt appears out of nowhere and disappears into thin air again. I really hope my parents didn’t pay her off. They wouldn’t have told me if they did but the idea of someone trying to extort money from people who did nothing more than love me and gave me a good life makes me ill. I don’t want to see our family to go through that.”
“I don’t like the idea of someone out there thinking they can mess with you. It’s cruel if this is some sick attempt to manipulate you in some way.” He pulled her close. “But… what if it’s not? What if it is a blood relative who wants to get to know you? I saw the look on your face when you read that first email. For a moment, you were curious.”
“Where were all these people when I was being put up for adoption? I find the timing a little too suspicious for me.” She sighed.
“We read incredible stories every day about people finding each other after many years of being apart. I know what you’re saying. If there’s something nefarious going on, Sam and Kendrick will handle it. I just want you to be prepared if it’s something not so terrible too.”
“I have you. I have the Blakes. I have all the family I need.”
“But you don’t want to start a family now?”
He sensed that she was hesitant about starting a family, although she would never admit. For the moment they could cling to busy schedules, being young and enjoying their lives. But he worried that she still had residual feelings about being alone in the world until Thomas and Odessa adopted her.
“You’re still racing and we’re always on the go.”
“If it’s the racing thing, I can stop. Retire. If that’s what you want.”
“Why would I want you to stop? You’re good at it. I know you. You get bored quickly. If this was a passing phase you’d be on to basket weaving by now. I enjoy seeing you happy. Just like I’ll be proud of you when you take your place at Blake Enterprises. I see you talking to J.J. and Bo. Building things is in your blood and it’s only a matter of time before you become a part of the family business. You nearly jumped in the air when Jared handed you those plans for Mackenzie’s doll house, a small project that has now morphed into creating a scale model of the entire ranch. We are right on target with our life plan.”
“Basket weaving? Really?”
“And you don’t fool me either. I saw the look in your eyes when Mackenzie was born. It got you to thinking about fatherhood.”
“It changed the way I look at so many things now. Avery was different, she was a teenager when she came into our lives. I could handle that better.”
“If you call brow beating every male that gets near her, including Wyatt, handling it well, sure.” She laughed. “You’re going to make a great father someday.”
“And you will be a fantastic mom. You have great maternal instincts. You’re pretty good at soothing me.”
“You’re easy. A nice meal and a tummy rub and you’re as right as rain.” She smiled.
“You always knew the way to my heart.” He kissed her on the nose.
“I know.” She giggled. “Whatever Regency finds out about the mystery person, we’ll deal with it together. Now let’s finish exploring and get back to the house. J.J.’s one stipulation is that we all have dinner together every night.”
“I can live with that.”
Tyler continued walking around the charming town with Michelle, feeling good about their talk. He loved her and he was grateful every day that he’d come to his senses after all that running and took a chance on love. He couldn’t wait for the inevitable snowball fight and the ski challenges. They were grown men who had families of their own but they were also the same boys who used to drive their mama crazy with their antics around the ranch. He could live with being crazy, fun Uncle Tyler a little while longer. When the time was right, he and Michelle would make their contribution to the growing Blake clan.
Hope you enjoyed the second excerpt! Next couple’s story coming soon!
Copyright © 2016 Rhonda Laurel. All Rights Reserved.