Why I Love Bodyguards copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
Five months later-
Burke paced along the front porch of the farmhouse, wiping his sweaty palms against his thighs. It was silly to be nervous about seeing Cathal and the kids especially since he’d visited them in Montana two weeks ago shortly after Margret had her baby. The state took custody of the baby girl then the social worker helped with getting Cathal named as guardian.
They were still going through the adoption process to make it official, but their lawyers said it was pretty much a done deal. Just had to wait for the meeting with the judge who would sign the papers. It was set up for a month from now, so they would all go back to Helena for the meeting.
He was nervous because this would be the first time they came and saw all the changes he had made while they were gone. There was another barn down by the stables for the horses Cathal was bringing with him. He’d had another wing added to the old house so that the kids would each have their own room, though he knew that Bucky and Buddy would probably share one until they were older.
A nursery had been put in right next to the master suite where Jacqueline would sleep until she was old enough to have her own room. And hadn’t that been a shock when Cathal had told him that he was going to name the baby after Burke’s mother. Burke had been so choked up, he couldn’t do anything except nod. He waited until they got back to Cathal’s place to show how happy that had made him.
“Is there anything else you need before I leave, sir?”
Glancing over his shoulder, he saw his foreman standing at the end of the porch. “No, Mason. I’m good. Thanks for everything you’ve done to get everything ready in time. I know it wasn’t easy.”
Mason shrugged. “When you told me you were bringing your family here, and I met Mr. McKinley and the kids, I was more than happy to do it. It’ll be nice to have kids at the farm again.”
Burke studied the sadness that seemed to edge Mason’s expression. As much as he wanted to know what caused it, he wasn’t sure it was his place to ask. All he knew was Mason had come looking for a job shortly after Burke had bought the farm and once he saw how well the man knew his job, Burke had to hire him. Mason hadn’t disappointed him yet.
“You don’t mind that Cathal is my partner, not just the head of my security?” He didn’t know why he asked when Mason hadn’t commented about it at all.
“Do you love each other and those kids?”
Burke nodded, though he stayed silent because he couldn’t find the words to explain exactly how much he loved Cathal and the kids.
Mason shrugged. “Then I have no problem with you. My parents were run out of their hometown down South because Mom was black and Dad was white. When I listened to them talk about all the trouble they had because they were different races, I swore to myself that I’d never treat anyone like their choices are wrong. Hell, as long as no one is being hurt or forced, why the heck should I care who you’re living with? My job is to take care of the farm for you and that’s what matters to me.”
Burke nodded, happy that he wouldn’t have to deal with Mason not accepting what Cathal meant to him. He wasn’t the type of guy who believed that everyone else had to be supportive of his life. But Mason hadn’t been willing to deal with them then Burke would’ve fired the man, no matter how good a foreman he was.
“I appreciate it, Mason. You can head home. They should be here soon and we’ll get the animals settled. The kids will be responsible for their horses, but if you want, you can have them help you with the chickens, cows and goats.” Burke held out his hand and Mason strolled closer to shake it.
“I’m willing to take their help,” Mason said before he moved away. “I’ll see you tomorrow for breakfast?”
“Yes. Jessica will have it ready by six for you and I. Unfortunately, I have to go to the city for the day.”
He wasn’t happy about that, wanting to be able to stay until the kids were settled, but he was in the middle of a major acquisition and needed to keep an eye on the lawyers working the deal.
As Mason left, Burke caught sight of a truck pulling into the driveway. He tensed for a moment then forced himself to relax. There was another truck behind the first one and he remembered that Randy was driving the second truck. He jumped off the porch then walked to where he could direct Cathal to the new barn.
Once the truck and trailer was parked just the right angle to get the animals out without too much problem, he went to the driver’s side and tugged open the door. Cathal tumbled out into his arms. Burke embraced the man, crushing him against his chest then taking his mouth like he needed to taste Cathal to breath.
Cathal buried his hands in Burke’s hair while whimpering, but he opened to Burke’s demand and Burke swept his tongue in. As much as he wanted to lose himself in the taste and sound of Cathal, he couldn’t. They still had animals and kids to move in.
They broke apart and Burke stepped back, only to find himself mobbed by Randy, Elisa and the twins. He hugged each of them then took Jacqueline out of her car seat.
“Hello, little lady. Are you ready to see your new home?” He glanced up to look at the rest of his family. “Elisa, why don’t you take her and the twins inside? I’ll help Randy and Cathal get the horses bedded down for the night.”
Why I Love Bodyguards copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
The fact there wasn’t any hesitation in Burke’s voice when he said yes warmed Cathal’s heart. He never thought Burke would deny them, but it was nice to hear him say they were welcomed to come live at his place.
“Are you bringing the animals as well? I’ll have them start building a new stable for your horses since mine is pretty much full. But that’s all right. There’s more than enough land to build whatever we need.” Burke sounded happy. “When would you be coming?”
“Not for another three months or so. Have to wait until Margaret has the baby. I’ve already let her lawyer and the state know that I’ll take it when it’s born.”
“Right. I talked to my lawyer and he said that since you have guardianship of the other children, it shouldn’t be hard to get her to turn over this child. If she gives you problems, offer her money. I’ll pay whatever you want.”
“I’m not going to buy the baby. It will be part of my family, Hilton, and shouldn’t be treated like an object.”
The endearment said with just the hint of Burke’s British accent, caused Cathal to shiver.
“I know you don’t want to buy the child, but if it’s the only way she’ll sign away her parental rights, then we have to do what we can to insure the child comes to us.” Burke sighed. “Money doesn’t mean anything to me, but I know what that baby means to you.”
Cathal closed his eyes, rubbing his chin. “You’re right about it all. Just the thought of it makes me angry. That she would consider getting money for her children breaks my heart.”
Burke hummed in agreement. “So I have three months to get another stable built for your animals. Maybe once the kids are out of school, you can all come to the farm and we can see if there’s anything else that needs to be done to make it just right for you. Did you want to keep your apartment in the city or will we be using mine when we have to come in?”
He thought about his place and how it had been his home for five years, yet in many ways it had become a place for him to sleep and not live. “We can move all my stuff to the farm and just use your penthouse when we come to the city. It makes sense because it’s bigger, so there’ll be room if we bring the kids with us.”
“Last time I talked to Randy, he hadn’t picked a university. Has he decided now?”
“He’s narrowed it down to schools on the east coast, but not which one yet. Randy said he wants to go to one of those because he’d be closer to us.” Cathal smiled.
“Your father did a good job raising those kids,” Burke said. “Of course, that doesn’t surprise me. You turned out pretty good yourself.”
Chuckling, Cathal shook his head, knowing Burke couldn’t see him do that. “I’m not sure about that. He’ll make a decision about school in a month or two. At least we don’t have to worry about money for that. I started putting a little bit away from the moment Randy was born. I had a feeling my sister wasn’t going to be able to take care of it for him.”
“I’m willing to help out if you need me to, and don’t say it’s not my responsibility. If you and I are a couple, then your family is my family. And I have the money to pay for their schooling. I’ve got more money than I can spend in my lifetime. Let me use it to help the kids out.”
The sincerity in Burke’s voice made Cathal pause when he was about to tell Burke ‘thanks but no thanks’. It was true. They were a family already and families helped each other. He didn’t have the right to deny Burke the chance to use his wealth to do things for them.
“I won’t argue. I’ll tell Randy he can pick any university he wants and not to worry about the cost.”
“Thanks.” Burke groaned.
Cathal shifted on the couch. That sound made him hard, but he wasn’t going to do anything about it while he sat in the living room. The twins had a habit of waking up and wandering around a few hours after they went to bed. He usually stayed up until after he put them to bed the second time. So there wasn’t going to be any phone sex tonight.
“You should head home, Hilton. Get some sleep,” he ordered.
“I will in a few minutes. Have some last minute contracts to look over and sign for Rebecca to get out in the mail first thing in the morning.”
He could hear paper rustling in the background. If he had been in New York, he would’ve been at Burke Pharmaceutical headquarters, in his own office, waiting for Burke to leave for the night. Yet as he sat on his father’s sagging old couch in sweats and a stained T-shirt, Cathal realized he didn’t miss the city all that much. Well, he missed his job and Hilton, but he didn’t pine after the rather lonely life he’d lead there.
It was nice having the kids around him throughout the day. Getting them breakfast in the morning before dropping them off at school. Making sure they had dinner, did their homework and chores before they went to bed at night. He absorbed their unconditional love and it showed him how much he had been missing all those years by isolating himself from his family.
“I miss you,” he said, his voice deep and harsh.
“I miss you too,” Burke admitted. “Let me know when Randy’s graduation ceremony is and I’ll make sure to fly out for that, though I do plan on visiting sooner. I have a few business trips that I have to take in the next month, but I’m having Rebecca clear a week next month and I’ll be out to see you.”
“I can’t wait.”
This little excerpt is from Search & Rescue, a story I’m writing for an Amber Allure PAX. It’s due by Sept. 1st, so it will definitely be out some time later this year.
Search & Rescue copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
An insistent ringing broke through Keaton’s dream and he groaned as he rolled over, not even opening his eyes as he grabbed his phone off the nightstand.
“Goodwin,” he growled into the phone.
“I need you and Kaiser at the airport asap. There was an earthquake in Colombia and they need search and rescue there to look for survivors.” His boss, Connor St. Lawrence, ordered him.
“Yes, sir. We’ll be there in thirty minutes.”
After hanging up, Keaton tossed his phone on the bed then jumped out from under the covers. Kaiser sat in the doorway, staring at him expectantly.
“Yes, we’re going. I have to get dressed. Go get your leash.”
Kaiser barked once before dashing from the room. Keaton smiled at how eager his companion was. They hadn’t been gone on a mission for several months and they were both getting a little antsy. He tugged on his jeans and a long sleeve T-shirt before putting on socks.
As he stalked from his bedroom, he scooped up his phone. He sent a quick text to Grace to let her know what was going on and have her come feed the rest of his animals while he was gone.
Downstairs, Kaiser sat next to the door, leash in his mouth. Keaton chuckled as he took Kaiser’s harness down from where he hung it after their last training session. He stuffed it into the backpack he’d taken from the front hallway closet. The backpack held two dog dishes, treats, and toys Kaiser loved playing with. After grabbing his to-go duffle that held several changes of clothes, their passports, and toothbrushes. Everything he would need for an extended stay. The search and rescue group Keaton worked with would provide food and water for them.
He took the leash from Kaiser, but didn’t worry about hooking it to Kaiser’s collar. He’d stay with Keaton until ordered otherwise. They went outside to the truck and Keaton motioned for Kaiser to jump in the back. The dog settled on the seat, his bright gold eyes studying Keaton, trying to figure out what was going on by the small changes in Keaton’s expression or voice.
“Don’t worry, boy. It’s not time yet.” He patted Kaiser on the head before tossing their bags onto the floor.
After he slid behind the steering wheel, he started the engine then backed it out of the driveway. His phone rang as he turned in the direction of the airport.
“Where are you going and for how long?” Grace, his sister, asked.
“Colombia. Connor said there’s been an earthquake. I don’t know anything else about it. So I have no idea how long we’ll be gone. You know where all the food is. Can you take Josie back to your place? She’s about to give birth and I’d like you to keep an eye on her. This is her first litter.”
“Of course. Can I have one of her pups?” Grace chuckled, though Keaton knew she was worried about him.
“It depends on how many she has. I’ve got a waiting list for them, but we’ll see. If there’s enough, you can have one of this litter. Camilia is pregnant as well. I’m hoping I’ll be back before she gives birth.” He rubbed his eyes, running on adrenaline at the moment. He’d crash once they were up in the air. It was one of those nights when he was glad he had Bluetooth because he wasn’t awake enough to handle his phone and drive.
“Awesome. I’m not surprised you have people waiting for Josie’s pups. She’s one of the best search and rescue dogs I’ve seen in years.”
A hint of pride swelled in his chest. “Thanks. If I can, I’ll call you when we land. Maybe Connor has an idea about when we’ll be back, but since I don’t know how bad the earthquake was, I can’t begin to guess.”
Grace sighed. “No problem, brother dear. The kids and I have your back. You know they’ll spoil Josie rotten. Take care and call me when you can. Love you.”
“Love you more.” He ended the call.
Kaiser stuck his head over the back of the seat then licked his ear. Keaton chuckled, but didn’t say anything. He got some music going on his radio and just tried not to think too much about what waited for them in Colombia. He and Kaiser were one of the best search and rescue teams around. All the teams in the group he was part of were considered some of the highest trained and most successful in the country.
He kept his attention on the road, which was deserted at that time of night except for the semis hauling loads across the country. This wasn’t the first time they’d been called out late while the rest of the world slept. There was always a rush to get out of the house and on their way to whatever the most recent disaster was. Both he and Kaiser loved the searching part of their job. Keaton wasn’t so thrilled about the times when they arrived too late, and he’d seen Kaiser mourn as well.
“We ready for this, Kaiser?” He spoke aloud.
The dog gave a soft woof from where he laid on the backseat.
“It’s our first time back since the accident,” he muttered, rubbing his hand over the scar on his left wrist. He didn’t know what would happen if he got trapped again, but he couldn’t turn down a mission. Not if it meant helping save lives.
Why I Love Bodyguards copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
Four months later-
Cathal dropped on to the couch then let his head drop back to rest on the cushions. God, how had his father taken care of four kids by himself. Hilton had to return to New York after the funeral because of business meetings and the information his private detective had discovered about his parents’ murder.
They talked every night and text often during the day while Cathal managed to keep the security parts of Hilton’s world on track. He’d hired good men and his second in command was capable, but Cathal didn’t like being away from Hilton for so long.
“Are you thinking about Hilton?”
He opened his eyes to see Elisa standing next to the couch. Holding out his hand, he smiled as she took it before curling up against him.
“Yeah. I am. I miss him.” He laid his cheek on the top of her head.
“So do I. I know he wasn’t around long, but he was still pretty great. We only have one more month before school’s out. Randy’s already got some acceptance letters for colleges. Once he decides where he wants to go, we’ll figure out how long it’ll take us to pack up this place and move.”
Easing Elisa away from him, he looked down at her. “What do you mean move?”
She shrugged. “We don’t really have a reason to stay here, plus your job isn’t here. I’ll miss my friends, but I can fly back to visit them during the summer or they can come visit me. The twins might complain for a little while, though they’ll be too interested in exploring the farm. We’ll have our horses as well.”
“Are you sure? Why would you want to leave the place you grew up in and move to a different state where you wouldn’t know anyone?” Cathal asked.
“Why wouldn’t I? Without Pops, this isn’t really home anymore. This certainly isn’t your home and you left here because it wasn’t where you wanted to stay for the rest of your life. I don’t see why you should be forced to come back here when your entire life and the man you love is in New York.”
“We talked about it and decided that we should all move. Of course we’ll have to wait until Mom has the baby and you get custody of it.” Randy sat on the other side of him. “I’ve been accepted at some East Coast universities. I can pick one of them to stay close to all of you.”
Glancing between his niece and nephew, he grunted. “You talked about it?”
“Yep. Even discussed it with the twins. They were very interested in the farm and seeing a cow being milked among other things. Once we reassured them that their ponies would be coming with us, they were more than happy to move.” Randy paused for a moment then said, “Hilton will let us bring the animals, won’t he?”
Cathal didn’t have to check with Burke because he knew exactly what his lover would say. “Yes, he will. If there’s not enough room on his farm, he’ll just buy a bigger one so that you can keep your pets.”
“He’d really do that?” Randy’s eyes widened.
Laughing, Cathal nodded. “You have no idea just how rich Burke is. The man really can buy most of Montana without blinking. Buying another farm or land to add to his farm is no big deal for him.”
Randy and Elisa fell silent, obviously trying to grasp the idea of Burke’s worth. Cathal admitted to himself that he didn’t even have a clue how much Burke had. All he knew was that the man didn’t spend hardly any of his money. Mostly because Burke didn’t have anyone to spend it on. He was going to have to be careful that Burke didn’t spoil the kids.
“Thank you both for being willing to leave your home.” Cathal hugged both of them. “Now go on to bed.”
“Tell Hilton we said hi,” Elisa said as she left the living room with Randy right behind her.
“I will,” Cathal promised.
He waited until he heard their doors closed before he picked up his phone and dialed Burke’s number.
“Hello,” Burke answered. “Have a long day?”
“Not necessarily long, just busy. Why are you still at the office?” He scrunched down on the couch, closing his eyes again as he listened to Burke laugh.
“How did you know I was here?”
He chuckled. “Because no one but me has the guts to tell you to go home when it’s time to quit for the day. I might have to break out the big guns and call Herb. He’ll take my request seriously and bug you until you leave.”
Burke moaned. “Please don’t encourage him. He’s been in my office every day since I returned, asking when the kids will be at the farm so he and Chuck can go up there to see them. He wants to feed the cows and ride the horses again.”
“Darling, I knew we created a monster when they were here.” Yet he couldn’t help be glad about that. Herb tended to get too caught up in his experiments and Chuck did his best to get him to relax, but it didn’t always work. If being out at the farm helped with that, then Cathal would drive the man up there himself.
“Yes. Actually I told Chuck to drive him up there this weekend. Gave them keys to the house and the code to the gate. Herb will be in heaven with all the chickens, pigs, sheep and goats.” Burke hummed and Cathal imagined his lover stretching, all that gorgeous skin glowing in the low light. Of course, he wouldn’t be naked in the office.
He cleared his throat. “Well, I have some news.”
“The kids have discussed it and come to a decision.” He stopped.
“What kind of decision?” Burke sounded worried.
Cathal took a deep breath then let it out slowly. “Would you like five kids and me living in your farm house in upstate New York?”
Why I Love Bodyguards copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
“You know I never really thought about how eggs came to be in the grocery store,” Herb said as he stood near Chuck.
“Where did you think they came from?” Burke started washing the eggs off while Cathal grabbed an empty carton to put them in.
Herb shrugged. “I didn’t think about it. They just showed up there. It wasn’t important to me how they got there but now that I’ve seen the chickens, it makes me think.”
“Uh-oh!” chorused through the kitchen from three different mouths. Cathal could just imagine what Herb was thinking.
“I want chickens.”
“We can’t raise chickens in the city, love.” Chuck patted Herb’s ass. “Why don’t you go get cleaned up? Dinner’s ready.”
Once everyone settled at the table, Cathal and Burke helped the twins get their burgers just right. When the boys were eating, Cathal leaned back in his chair to stare down at his plate. He wasn’t really hungry.
Burke covered his hand, drawing his attention. “You need to eat something. It’s going to be a long day, plus you need to set an example for the kids.”
He glanced over to where Randy and Elisa sat, who were pushing around their food. Meeting Burke’s gaze, he nodded. He picked up the burger and took a bite. After he ate a little bit, he noticed that the older kids were eating.
“Hey would I be able to ride one of the horses before we leave?” Herb asked, and Cathal wanted to give him a hug for breaking the silence.
“You’ve never been on a horse,” Chuck pointed out. “I’m not sure it’s a good idea.”
“I’m not an idiot. I’m sure I can figure out how to ride without too much instruction.” Herb glared at his husband.
“Umm…it takes more than an hour to learn how to ride, but I think we could probably get you hooked up after the service tomorrow.” Cathal looked around the table. “Maybe we could all go out for a ride after we get home. I think Pops would like that.”
“Yay!” Bucky yelled.
Elisa and Randy nodded. Chuck rolled his eyes, and Cathal could tell it wasn’t something the detective really wanted to do, but when he saw how excited Herb was about the ride, Chuck sighed and agreed.
“You know, Herb, if you enjoy riding and would like to continue when you get back to New York, I own a farm in Upstate New York. I keep a few horses up there for the weekends I want to get away.” Burke smiled.
“Why haven’t I ever been up there?” Cathal questioned.
Burke shrugged. “I never made you work the weekends. Usually, one of the other guards is with me.”
“You have bodyguards?” Randy’s eyes were huge.
Cathal chuckled. “I’m head of security for him. He’s a billionaire, Randy. The man could buy and sell pretty much the entire state of Montana and not miss the money.”
He grunted when Burke kicked him.
“Don’t exaggerate, Cathal. I’m sure I could only afford half the state. It is one of the biggest in the country.” Burke winked at Elisa who giggled.
“How many homes do you own?” Herb took a huge bite of his burger.
Scrunching up his face, which caused the twins to laugh, Burke thought then said, “I’m not entirely sure. I own quite a few rental properties along with my private houses. I’d have to talk to my financial lady to know for sure.”
“Which one is the one you consider your home?” Cathal had to ask. He had an idea of how many estates Burke owned, but he wasn’t sure which one Burke would hang on to if he had to sell them.
“There are two. The family estate in England and the farm upstate. I find that it reminds me of my childhood home in many ways, so when I’m not able to fly over there, I head to the farm.” Burke reached out to cover Cathal’s hand. “Maybe once we have everything worked out here, you and the kids would like to come visit there.”
“Yes. Can we, Unca Cathal?” Buddy yelled.
Herb frowned. “I’ve never been on a working farm.”
Chuck cupped Herb’s chin, turning his face toward him. “You really need to work on not inviting yourself places, honey.”
“What do you mean? I was just saying that I haven’t ever been on a working farm. I’d love to go visit Mr. Burke’s and see what it’s like to have chickens and horses. Oh, wait. Do you have cows? Mr. McKinley’s father didn’t have cows. I’d love to milk a cow. Wouldn’t that be interesting? I’ve seen shows on that sort of thing.”
“Herb.” Chuck’s voice held a tone of warning.
“Don’t worry, Chuck. You and Herb are welcome to visit the farm whenever you want. I’m usually up there on the weekends when I don’t have meetings or engagements in the city.” Burke looked at Herb. “Any time you wish to come. I must admit I don’t have a lot of friends visiting me there. Most of my acquaintances want to go to Italy or the French Rivera. Some place far more romantic and exotic than Upstate New York.”
“You’d let us come and stay?” Bucky climbed down from his chair and walked over to Burke, holding his arms up in the air.
Cathal’s heart skipping a beat as he watched Burke pick the little boy up and settle him on his lap. Bucky wrapped his arms around Burke’s neck then rested his head on his chest. Burke rubbed Bucky’s back.
“Yes, sir. You and your brothers and sister are more than welcome to come to my farm anytime you want. If necessary, all of your horses and animals can come to stay as well. I have more than enough room.” Burke met Cathal’s gaze. “There’s room for all of you in my home.”
He understood that Burke was really saying there was space in his heart for Cathal and his family. Cathal got that and he would have to sit Randy and Elisa down once school was over and find out what they wanted to do. Though his heart said to grab on to Burke and never let him go.
This is the cover for my August 17th release at Amber Allure. It’s part of the Winter Games Pax. Losing Sight of the Target is about a biathlete and the mysterious man he meets right before he heads off to the Olympics.
We got the cover for the next GRL anthology, An Unconventional Chicago. It fits perfectly with the other two anthologies. Also, it’s up for pre-order at Totally Bound. Check it out here. All the stories in this anthology is set in a contemporary alternate universe version of Chicago.
Then there’s the amazing cover I got for the single release of No Bravery, my story in the anthology. All the single covers are awesome and fit our stories perfectly. Here’s mine.
And one more cover…lol. This is for Walking in the Rain, Book Five of my Rags to Riches series. I adore this cover. The guy on the cover really portrays Dayton VanHooren, one of the main characters, perfectly.
Okay…so here are all the new covers I’ve received lately. I hope you love them as much as I do.
Have an awesome 4th of July. Be safe and have fun.
Why I Love Bodyguards copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
Cathal and Chuck burst into laughter while Herb glared at Burke. Chuck wrapped his arm around Herb’s waist.
“Come on, honey. Let’s go get the kids. We’ll get them fed and settled. I figure you’ll be back to the house in another hour or so. Here’s our keys. We’ll see you back at your place.” Chuck handed Cathal the keys to their rental before he dragged Herb out of the funeral home.
“You shouldn’t tease him like that,” Cathal told Burke who shrugged.
“I wasn’t the one who compared taking care of kids to keeping plants alive.” Burke grinned. “God, I wish we could be there when the twins meet Herb. I’m almost afraid it might be like gas and fire.”
Cathal shook his head. “I guess we’ll find out when we get home.”
More people approached, so he greeted them, letting Burke get a hold of Randy about sending Herb and Chuck to pick them up. Burke told him that he’d told Randy not to let the twins run roughshod over Herb.
By the time the hour was over, Cathal was exhausted. All he wanted to do was go home, climb into bed and curl up under the covers. Sleeping until the funeral was over sounded like a great idea, though he knew he couldn’t do that. The kids needed him to be strong, in case they couldn’t make it through.
“Let’s go see the kids,” Burke said as he cupped Cathal’s elbow to escort him outside. “Why don’t you give me the keys and I’ll drive us home?”
“Do you know how much I love when you say that?” He leaned into Burke’s side for a second before he climbed into the passenger seat.
Once Burke slid behind the steering wheel, he twisted to look at Cathal. “You love when I say home?”
Cathal nodded. “It makes me feel good that you consider my family home yours.”
“Of course I do. I love you, Cathal, and that means loving wherever you live, whether it’s here in Montana or in New York.” Burke touched his cheek lightly before starting the car. “I think you need to lay down for a little bit before we head back.”
“Hmm…” Cathal closed his eyes as he leaned his head against the seat.
He didn’t know if he dozed off or not, but he didn’t remember any of the trip to the house. He did remember waking up to the feel of lips on his and a hand on his leg. Blinking, he looked up into Burke’s eyes and smiled.
“I could really get used to be awaken like that,” he murmured.
Burke winked. “Come on, honey. Let’s go inside. The kids are waiting and I don’t hear any screams so the twins haven’t tied Herb to a chair to shoot their Nerf guns at him.”
“How do we know he hasn’t tied them to chairs and is experimenting on them?” Burke took his hand as they walked up to the door.
The laughter that greeted them when they entered surprised Cathal.
“Hello,” he called out.
“We’re in the kitchen,” Elisa yelled.
Burke took his jacket and Cathal’s to hang up while Cathal headed back to see what was going on in his house. When he got to the kitchen, he found the kids and Chuck standing on one side of the table while Herb stood on the other. He frowned when he saw how dirty Herb was.
“Herb offered to go collect the eggs,” Elisa told him.
“Apparently he didn’t realize that there would be chickens in the coop with the eggs.” Randy shook his head.
Cathal shot a glance at Chuck who was biting his bottom lip and shaking his head. “Herb, where did you think eggs came from?”
“Don’t act like I’m an idiot, Cathal. I know eggs come from chickens. I just didn’t know you owned the chickens. I was expecting to be able to collect them without having to fight a herd of them off.” Herb waved his hand at his dirty clothes. “Those birds are aggressive and dangerous. I can’t believe you let children gather those eggs.”
Burke snorted then grunted when Cathal elbowed him in the stomach. He walked around the table to touch one of the scratches on Herb’s cheek.
“Thank you for risking your life to get the eggs, even though the twins should’ve done it. They get paid an allowance to gather them.” He glanced over at Bucky and Buddy. “What do you two have to say to Dr. Davidson?”
The twins dropped their chins and whispered, “We’re sorry.”
Herb patted Cathal’s hand then chuckled. “I accept your apology and maybe now you can show me how I should’ve handled those fowl.”
“All right, boys. Now go do what you’re supposed to do. We’ll get dinner finished.” Cathal smiled as the boys each took one of Herb’s hands and led him out into the back yard. He looked at the other three. “That wasn’t very nice of you. I would expect it from the boys, but you are all old enough to know better.”
Randy and Elisa ducked their heads, but Chuck burst out laughing.
“Man, he was so eager to go and get them. I couldn’t ruin his enthusiasm.” Chuck shrugged. “I’ll baby him tonight at the hotel and he’ll be fine tomorrow.”
“Fun’s over. Let’s get dinner done while they’re out back. We don’t need them trying to help out.” Burke had rolled up the sleeves of his shirt then wandered to the refrigerator. “We’ll have hamburgers. I made sure we’d have some thawed by the time we got back.”
All of them working together got their meal almost finished when Herb strolled in, holding a basket of eggs. He was still dirty, but the smile on his face told him how proud he was. Cathal took them from him then thanked him.
“Where are the boys?”
“They wanted to stay out and play with Roscoe. I didn’t see the problem.”
“I’ll go check on them,” Elisa muttered, slipping past them toward the back.
Why I Love Bodyguards copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
He positioned himself close to the casket so he could talk to each person who came for the visitation. It seemed like the whole town came out to say good-bye to his father. Guilt surged through him when he realized he didn’t know his father and how far apart they had grown. Simply because he thought his father had hated him. When the truth was, his father had known there was no chance of true happiness for Cathal in Sunburst and he was willing to let his only son go then have him go the way his daughter had.
He winced as Zinnia threw herself in his arms. Burke growled low in his throat and Cathal couldn’t help but smile over at his lover. He patted her back once then gently shoved her away from him, not caring how she seemed to cling to him.
“I’m so sorry about your father. He was a good man. And now you have all those children to take care of. You’re going to need a woman to help you, especially since your sister is in jail.” Zinnia fluttered her eyelashes up at him and rested her hand on his chest.
“Zinnia, give him some space.”
Glancing up while stepping closer to Burke, he watched a slender blond haired man take a hold of Zinnia’s arm and ease her from Cathal. There actually was a look of sympathy in the man’s eyes like he understood what Cathal thought and felt about the woman.
“I’m Tim, Zinnia’s husband. It’s nice to meet you, though I wish it wasn’t under these circumstances.” Tim held out his hand and Cathal shook it. “Your father was a good man.”
“I appreciate that and everything that Zinnia and you have done for me over the years.” Cathal waved his hand vaguely to encompass something, though he wasn’t sure what.
Tim nodded. “Of course. You and Zinnia were friends. It makes sense that we’d do what we could while you were gone. I understand that you and your friend will be taking over care of the children now that your father is gone.”
Cathal looked over to Burke whose narrow-eyed glare pinned Zinnia where she stood. He reached out to lay his hand on Burke’s arm. “Yes. We’ll have to figure out whether we’re moving back to New York or staying here, but I’m not going to dump them with strangers.”
“Certainly not.” Burke covered Cathal’s hand with his. “No matter what it takes, we’ll do it. Those children have had a rough life, though they were lucky to have their grandfather and uncle to be there for them. They deserve the best we have to offer, even if we have to change our lives to do it.”
Tim smiled. “Mr. Burke, I’m glad to meet you. Zinnia doesn’t realize who you are, but I do and the fact that you’re willing to move out to Sunburst for Cathal and the kids is very impressive.”
Burke shrugged, but Cathal could see his lover thaw a little. At least toward Tim. “We all do whatever we must for the people we love, right?”
“Right.” Tim grimaced as he shot a quick glance at Zinnia. “Well, we’ll move on. I’m sorry for your loss.”
Cathal inclined his head then stepped a little closer to Burke. “It’s kind of hard to hate him, huh?”
Burke grunted. “Damn. I really wanted to find something about him that would piss me off, but I can’t. I feel sorry for him with her as a wife.”
“She’ll get over her fascination with me once we’re gone.” He bit his lip.
Before Burke could ask him about that, more people approached them to talk about his father. He was pleasantly surprised when each person took the time to stop and chat with Burke as well. Cathal knew they wouldn’t be rude to Burke, but he never expected them to act like they were really interested in what Burke had to say.
After a while, Burke looked at his watch. “I’m going to have to leave to pick the kids up.”
“We can do it.”
They both turned to see Herb and Chuck approach them. Cathal hid his smile when he saw the exasperated look on Chuck’s face.
“Herb, I don’t think Burke or McKinley would want a stranger to pick up their kids.” Chuck rested his hand on Herb’s shoulder while flashing a grin at Cathal.
“Why not? We’ve taken care of your cousin’s kids once. I’ve got like two PH.Ds and you’re a detective. How hard can it be to take care of four kids?”
“We watched them while their parents were in the next room. That doesn’t count as babysitting.” Chuck shook his head. “Being intelligent has nothing to do with it.”
Burke gave Cathal an evil wink. “Maybe we should have Herb and Chuck pick them up.”
Chuck glared at Burke, but Herb got such an excited look on his face that Cathal didn’t have the heart to say no.
“All right. I send Randy a text to let him know that you’re going to be picking him and Elisa up from school. Here’s the keys to our SUV. It has the twins’ car seats in them.”
“Twins?” Herb was practically jumping up and down. “I’ve always wanted to study twins. Do they read each other’s mind? Or answer each other’s sentences?”
“You can ask Bucky and Buddy when you see them.” Cathal tossed his keys to Chuck. “Ask them if they’re hungry. If they say yes, take them back to the house and feed them. You can bring them back here when they’re done.”
Chuck caught the keys then growled low. “I don’t appreciate this. You know he’ll be bugging me to have our own kids after this.”
“Hey, if he wants his own after spending time with the twins, then he’s ready to be a dad.” Cathal laughed. “I can’t say I can see it though. He’s a little more absent-minded than a parent should be. I would love to meet any child that could survive being brought up by Herb.”
“I’ll have you know I’ve managed to keep several plants alive at my office. I water them every day.” Herb lifted his chin with a huff.
“Oh well…there you go. You’ll have no problem with the kids. They’re very much like plants.” Burke snickered.
For the moment everything is calm. I have some catching up to do, but I do plan on getting the installments done on time this week. lol I have some covers to share with you and some edits that need to be done. But I’m going to do my best to get everything taken care of.
Have a great Monday.