Say You Won't Let Go (Page 23)

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“I don’t know because she has up until the last second to change her mind. The longer we give her to think…” Russ explains, and I nod.

My eyes meet Emily’s, and I force a smile. “I’ll never let go of her, just like I wouldn’t you. Trust me?”

A tear drops. “Yes.”

“I love you.”

“I love you.”

We walk the fifty feet into the room to see the Mia’s birth mother, Darlene, clutching her stomach. Tears fall from her eyes, and I can see the heartbreak across her face. She may only be sixteen, but right now, she looks much older.

The judge explains the details of the adoption and allows a chance for questions. Darlene asks if she can say something, which he allows.

Emily’s hand clenches mine, and her body shakes slightly.

Darlene wipes her face and looks between us. “I know you’ll give her the life she deserves. I wish I could be the mama she needs, but I can’t. I hate the idea of givin’ her up, but I know it’s the right thing—” She sobs and then manages, “If she ever asks about me, will you tell her I loved her and that’s why I let her go?”

Emily is out of her seat and pulling the young girl in her arms. They both cry, holding on to each other. “I’ll tell her how brave you are. I’ll tell her how strong you are. I’ll tell her how her beauty comes from you,” Emily promises. “I’ll love her for the both of us. She’ll have two mamas who will always do what’s right for her.”

She nods. “I’m ready.”

Darlene signs the papers, and it’s official. Mia is our daughter.

When she leaves the room, Emily bursts into tears, only this time, they are from joy.

* * * *

“Congratulations!” the room erupts with shouts and cheers and applause as we walk in.

Emily gives me a smirk and laughs. “I can’t believe you.”

“We needed to officially welcome Mia to our crazy clan.” I nudge her.

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Our family rushes forward, giving hugs and gushing over our daughter.

“Welcome to fatherhood.” Wyatt chuckles. “Girls are a whole different world, man. They’re scary as hell. And she’s about to be five.”

Wyatt’s little girl is a handful, but it isn’t surprising considering she’s a Hennington and the first granddaughter. His mama spoils the shit out of her, and they’re paying for it now.

“I’m glad to be in the fatherhood club.”

He grins and slaps my shoulder. “I’m glad you are, too. You know, between Felicity, Hannah, and now Mia, we’ve basically created a whole new generation of our childhood,” Wyatt muses.

“I really hope Trent is retired by the time they hit their teens.”

“Right? Can you see him having to pick up his nieces and daughter?”

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We both laugh.

Trent walks over and lifts his chin. “What’s so funny?”

Wyatt tells him what we were joking about, and his face falls.

“How the hell are you two laughing? I’ll be callin’ your asses to get them out of jail.”

“Let’s just hope they’re nothing like their mamas,” I say, not wanting to think of my daughter and jail at all.

He bobs his head up and down. “Especially with the boy crap. I’m not even going to entertain some little shit cowboy trying to date my daughter.”

“Damn right,” I agree.

“We know what their little pea brains are thinkin’ about,” Trent adds.

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Don’t we ever.

“So, we’re in agreement to beat any little grabby bastard who comes near our girls?” I ask.

“Yup,” they both say in unison.

“Deal.”

“Well, look what the cat dragged in.” I smile and clap Wade’s hand as we shake.

He smirks. “I figured you might need someone to come kick your ass since Emily said you were being a jerk.”

I don’t believe him for a second. If anything, I’ve been giving her whatever she wants to keep her calm. Adopting Mia was scary as hell. She’s this beautiful baby that needed us, but we were terrified to love her and lose her.

“Wade!” Emily screams and rushes toward him.

“Shit,” he grumbles.

“Come meet your goddaughter.” Emily winks at me and then she’s dragging him away.

We thought it was only natural that Wade be somewhat of a protector of Mia. He’s the reason we’re together. I owe him everything.

Zach walks over after extracting himself from a conversation with my father. “Thanks for saving me,” he jokes.

Since retirement, my father is a world of fun. He’s getting older, and I’m pretty sure Mama drives him crazy. His whole life was spent working on the farm, and now he gets to listen to her stories all day. He practically begs to come hide at my house.

“He’s just tryin’ to keep Mama and her friends from talkin’ to him.”

“The older they get, the worse they are,” Trent notes.

Our mothers are all best friends and the world’s biggest meddlers. Sometimes they use their powers for good, other times…not. They also like to take credit for anything they can. If you ask them, they’re the reason we’re all married. Not that we played a part in it—it was all them.

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“Look at this.” Presley smiles. “The Hennington and Townsend troublemakers all together.”

My sister should talk. “Because your group was so innocent?”

She rolls her eyes. “We were following your lead.”

Zach laughs. “Right. I love you, but you’re crazy.” He wraps his arms around her, resting his head on her shoulder. She visibly relaxes just being around Zach. It makes me happy seeing her so content.

“Cayden and Logan here?” I ask. I haven’t seen my nephews. Then again, they’re at the age where they’re chasing the girls.

“They will be. They both have baseball and then Logan needs to walk his girlfriend home,” Presley explains. “Another thing for me to worry about…”

“What?” Wyatt asks.

“Them havin’ sex.” She shudders.

To me, the boys are still eleven-year-olds coming to the farm for the first time, but they’re the same age as the girl who just gave us Mia. Scary to think this baby could’ve come from my nephews. Time moves so fast, and if you blink, life can pass you by.

“You were their age,” Trent reminds her.

“Shut up. I was a good girl.”

He shrugs as Zach bursts out laughing. “Baby, you were very good.”

“Gross, man. That’s my sister.”

The party continues for a while until all our parents head out. We head back to the deck where the kids are running around, chasing chickens, and I’m reminded life is good.

For a long time, I wasn’t sure I’d marry, have kids, or be anything more than a rancher, and here I stand with everything and more.

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I glance at Emily with Mia in her arms. A love so intense that it takes my breath away washes over me.

My feet move toward them, and I kiss them both. “What was that for?” Emily asks with a soft smile.

“I’m just happy,” I tell her.

Her eyes brighten. “Yeah? Why is that?”

There is no shortage of reasons, but I choose the ones that I know will make her smile.

“Let’s see. I have the most gorgeous and talented wife.”

Emily grins. “Good reason.”

“She is about to win a Grammy for the song about how perfect I am.” I nudge her.

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She giggles. “Was it? I thought it was about someone else…”

Yeah, right. “Nice try.”

“We both know you’re my world.” She bats her eyelashes. “What else are you happy about?”

My throat goes dry, and it becomes hard to speak. “That we can hold on to her forever.”

“We don’t have to let go,” she says with tears in her eyes.

Emily lifts Mia up on her shoulder before pressing her lips to her head. My hand rests on Mia’s back, and I kiss my wife. “No, darlin’. We sure don’t.”

THE END

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