Home > Glow (Brewed #3)

Glow (Brewed #3)
Author: Molly McAdams

For Amanda, Amy, and MarLee.

 

 

A giggle crept up my throat as Hunter pulled me onto his lap.

The sound soft and low, but in the stillness of the night, I was sure it could be heard for miles.

Each whisper.

Each brush of our lips.

Each fierce beat of our hearts.

All of it was so magnified out here. It’d always been that way in our little corner of peace and perfection, on the far side of the Dixon’s peach orchard.

I pressed a slow, lingering kiss to his lips before pushing myself up again to look at him. Propped up on a mess of blankets in the bed of his truck. A hint of a smile playing on his lips, hands gripping my thighs where I straddled him as he studied me.

There were times we came out here just to talk and laugh about everything and nothing. There were others we struggled to even get our seatbelts off as we tore at each other’s clothes.

Tonight was different.

It had been calm and mostly silent. This intoxicating energy had surrounded us that I wanted to linger in. It was full of promises and hope and a future that was within our reach.

My fingers lazily trailed along his chest before I rested my palm over his racing heart.

Our eyes met when I asked, “Hunter Lee Dixon, when are you gonna marry me?”

A devastating smile burst across his face, his dimples flashing and about doing me in, even after all this time. “Figured we should probably graduate first.”

“That’s a month away,” I said dismissively even as I fought a smile that rivaled his.

“And it’d probably be a good idea for both of us to be eighteen.”

“That’s . . .” I rolled my eyes as I thought, a laugh bursting from me when he tickled my sides, “less than four months away and so not a factor in this discussion.”

A sharp laugh left him as he slid his hands over my hips and wrapped them around my back, pulling me closer to him. “I’d say it’s an important one.”

“But it doesn’t help my argument!”

He pressed a soft kiss to the tip of my nose. “And what argument is that?”

“That I’ve known I wanted to marry you since I was five years old, and I’m ready.”

Hunter’s gaze danced around my face, his eyes saying that he felt the exact same way.

“I want to be completely yours,” I continued.

“You are.”

“Not when we have to sneak out at night to be together,” I said earnestly. “I want the life we’ve planned out millions of times.” I sat back up and reached out, trying to touch one of the budding branches. “This orchard and helping your parents with their ranch.” My stare returned to see his dark with want. “I want a home with you. I want to start a family with you.”

He sat up and crushed his mouth to mine, swallowing the rest of my words and my startled gasp.

“We will,” he said against the kiss. “I will give you all of that.” One of his hands curled against my cheek as he leaned back to search my eyes. “I will give you everything at the right time for us.”

I let my forehead fall against his as dejection washed through me.

I knew he was right in holding off on marriage and babies, but my five-year-old self would’ve playground-married Hunter. And I knew without a doubt that I could marry him the day I turned eighteen and not regret it for one second for the rest of my life.

“Mads,” he murmured softly and tipped my head up. “You’ve always wanted to go to A&M and have a roommate and live in a dorm.”

I nipped at his lips. “Perfect roommate.”

His chest moved with a muted laugh. “This time next year, if you decide you’ve had enough of dorm life . . . I’ll drag you to the nearest church the minute after I get a ring on your finger.”

An unrestrained smile crossed my face. “Promise?”

“I’ve been dreaming about marrying you for as long as I can remember . . . hell yeah, that’s a promise.”

 

 

“Jesus, Cays, look at you,” I said proudly as I gave my younger brother a little shove. “You show back up in Amber and, six months later, you’ve got your girl and now you’re getting a ranch?”

He ducked his head, a soft smile tugging at his mouth. “Can’t believe it.”

“I can.”

He cast me a sideways look. The one he sometimes wore like he didn’t think he was worthy of whatever he had. Worthy of praise. But it quickly faded as his excitement took over again. “You think Emberly will want it?”

“Cays . . .” A short laugh left me. “You know she will.”

A smile was his only reply, but it quickly fell as he pointed at me. “You keep switching the subject, but I’m not letting this go. I wanna know who she is.”

Amusement poured from me as I fought a smile of my own. “Already told you. It was a chicken.”

He gave me a dull, disbelieving look. “Man, I’ve been scratched by chickens before. There’s no way in hell you’re gonna get me to believe that that”—he flicked the back of my neck, just above the collar of my shirt—“was from a damn chicken.”

I lifted one of my shoulders in response as the night before flashed through my mind. “They didn’t wanna go in the coop last night,” I lied smoothly.

After nearly a decade, it was second-nature to lie about this. About her. To deflect, even though I didn’t need to anymore. Even though I should probably come clean.

Habits and all that.

“You’re so full of shit.” Cayson’s eyes were dancing as he continued. “Half the hearts in Amber are about to break. But it was only a matter of time before you gave in to one of the women throwing themselves at you and begging for forever.”

Just then, Emberly barreled out of Brewed—the coffee shop and bar she owned with her mom—and jumped into my brother’s arms.

I hadn’t even realized we’d made it there yet.

Cayson had asked me to meet him at his and Emberly’s condo, just a few blocks from Main Street and Brewed, so he could tell me about his meeting with Mrs. Lange. About how she and her late husband had wanted him to have their ranch. How she already had the paperwork drawn up to sign it over since she was moving out of state.

He’d been floored and excited, of course. But he’d called me because of that look he’d given me a minute before—that feeling of unworthiness.

“I didn’t do anything to deserve this. I didn’t work for this,” he’d told me as we started the walk to Brewed.

We’d grown up on a ranch. My dad had owned a peach orchard and business that were now mine. We knew about working hard for what you had.

But Cayson had worked harder than anyone I knew to get where he was in life. He still worked so damn hard. Receiving a gift from people who adored him and had been thankful for his presence in their lives didn’t change that.

But right about the time I’d told him that was when he’d seen the scratch marks my shirt couldn’t hide. All thoughts about the ranch had drifted away as he’d started interrogating me on who had put them there, all with that excited taunting that was just so Cayson.

I rubbed the back of my neck as images from the night before played in my mind again. My blood pounded and the corner of my mouth ticked up in a smirk I fought to suppress as Cayson and Emberly spoke excitedly about his news just feet away.

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