Home > Waiting On The Rain (McKinneyWalker Brothers #3)(8)

Waiting On The Rain (McKinneyWalker Brothers #3)(8)
Author: Claudia connor

 

Eating cookies. Wish you were here.

 

Luke stepped back and took an approving look at the finished product. The crowd was gathering, ratcheting up the noise around him with festive chatter and laughing.

“He’s going to kill you when he gets back,” Hannah said, coming beside him.

“Worth it.”

“Okay.” Hannah looked around. “I’m going to give the girls a few more minutes to pass out their petals and then give the signal for Zach and Nora to come out.”

Stephen joined them with his arms full of toddler. “Damn, sorry I missed the finishing touches.” He had Nora and Zach’s son Will on one arm and his own son Mitchell sleeping on his shoulder.

“Where’s Ava?” Luke looked around, realizing she wasn’t there and that he’d expected her to be with his sister.

“She didn’t want to come out. I tried,” she added firmly.

“I’ll get her.”

“I don’t think she wanted to fight the crowd,” Hannah added with a hand on his arm.

“I’ll fight it for her,” he said, already heading back inside.

“Well,” was all Hannah said, sharing an equally curious look with her husband.

There were only a handful of guests still inside. Two women holding babies, a younger man standing over a kid in full out melt–down mode. And Ava. He wasted no time making his way over.

“Show’s outside.”

Ava jumped at the sound of his voice and he cursed himself. He’d often been told he moved like smoke. “Sorry.” He dropped into the seat beside her. “Hey.”

“Hey.”

“Come on. I don’t want you to miss this.”

“It’s okay, really—”

Nope, it wasn’t okay. And he couldn’t really say why it bothered him so much to see her sitting alone but it did. “Come on.” He stood, pushing his chair all the way in, making sure it was out of her way. “They’ll be coming out any second and I don’t want to miss the look on my brother’s face when he sees his truck.”

“Then you should go. I can’t just run out there. You’ll miss it.”

“Neither of us will miss it. Trust me.” He wrapped his hand around her upper arm, gently, just to give her a nudge.

She stood, feeling around for her cane. He picked it up, held it to her left hand and put her right hand around his arm, again like an escort. He led her faster than she might have liked but time was of the essence. “I’ve got you. I promise. There’s a clear path to the door. I’ll tell you when we get there.”

He pushed out the swinging doors and the cool night air rushed at them. The volume had risen with the anticipation and the crowd had split to make a path down the center for the bride and groom.

“Nice job,” someone called out to him with a nod to Zach’s truck.

The onlookers had split into two sides, leaving a path for the bride and groom. He led Ava right down the center of it and to the left, taking a spot at the end between the decorated truck, and Nick and Mia.

“They’re going to kill you,” someone else said.

“I take it your work was a success,” Ava said.

“I’d say so. I’m particularly proud of the giant, blow–up penis on the roof. And I might have filled his suitcase with condoms, after I zipped–tied them closed.”

“Nice.”

“Yeah. Oh, and we’ve got these.” He reached into his pocket for the paper cone he’d snagged for her, a bit smashed now. He gave the opening at the top a quick reshaping then touched the flower filled cone to Ava’s hand. “It’s rose petals. To throw at the happy couple, I’m told.”

She took it, sniffed and smiled. “I’m not sure I’ll hit the mark, but thank you.”

He looked around at the boisterous crowd, most had come out with drinks still in their hands. “You’ll do as well as anyone here. I’ll tell you when.”

She turned her head, and hit him with a smile so sweet he missed his brother’s initial exit. But the crowd whooped and cheered and Zach and Nora jogged hand in hand under a shower of pink and red petals.

“Okay, now!”

Laughing, Ava flung out petals, missing the happy couple by several feet.

“How’d I do?” she asked him.

“Perfect.”

Zach paused at his truck, threw out some good-natured curses when he saw what had been done, then scooped his bride up into his arms and stuffed her into the front seat. With a wave and a couple of laughing threats aimed at his groomsmen, he rounded the hood, joined his bride and they were off.

“Whew!” Hannah said. “Good times, but I’m exhausted. We need to get these little party animals to bed.” Mitchell was now awake and crying a pitiful, weary cry.

“Okay,” Ava said. “I’m ready. I just need to get my purse.”

“I can get it,” Hannah said. “I’ve got to grab the boys’ bags.”

“I’ll get the car.” Stephen strode off.

Hannah touched Ava’s arm. “You want to come with or wait here.”

“Um…” Ava shifted, brushing her arm against Luke’s. “I’ll wait here.”

Hannah’s eyes met Luke’s, silently confirming he’d wait here with Ava and he nodded. Weird, he thought, to be silently communicating with his sister.

“Okay. I’ll be back in five and Stephen will be here with the car. Need anything else?”

“I don’t think— Oh! The to-go bag of cookies. They’re on the table.”

“Got it.”

Luke watched his sister, a mother, a wife, walk swiftly back inside and felt a wave of pride. Then he turned back to Ava and felt something else. She shivered beside him and he angled his body to block hers from the wind. “I should have gotten your coat.”

“I didn’t bring one. Didn’t expect it to be this cold. Guess I should have.”

It’d been a warm day for early March but it had to be in the fifties now. If he’d still had his jacket on he’d have given it to her. “You sure you don’t want to wait inside?”

“No. It’s fine. By the time we get in there it’ll be time to come back out.”

They were so close. Almost as close as they’d been dancing, but they weren’t touching.

“Thanks for the dancing and the cookies,” she said. “It was fun.” Her lips curved a little, but her eyes still focused just beyond him.

“Yeah. It was,” he said, surprising himself that he meant it. He wasn’t even touching her, and his pulse was pounding. Her lips were so rosy, looked so soft. He wanted to find out if they were as soft as they looked. He wanted to taste her.

“And thanks for hanging with me,” she said. “And saving me from looking so pitiful your sister felt she had to babysit me.”

“Me, too. All of it. The hanging, the looking pitiful.”

She breathed out a little laugh and smiled. “I doubt you ever look pitiful.”

“You’d be surprised.” His heartbeat ticked off the seconds. The urge to touch her was so strong, he stuck his hands in his pockets. This was the most he’d felt in way too long. Well, make a plan, Walker. If you want to see her again, make a plan and make it fast.

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