The Creed Legacy

The Creed Legacy by Linda Lael Miller Read Free Book Online

Book: The Creed Legacy by Linda Lael Miller Read Free Book Online
Authors: Linda Lael Miller
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Western, Cowboys
five bedrooms in that house, besides the master suite, and almost as many bathrooms. Brody planned on filling those bedrooms with rambunctious little Creeds, ASAP, but there was the small matter of finding a wife first. He was old-fashioned enough to want things done in their proper order, though, of course, when it came to babies, that first one could come along anytime, as Davis liked to say, whenever there was a wedding. Invariably, he’d add that the others would take the customary nine months, and Kim would punch him playfully in the arm.
    Kim and Davis had a solid marriage, the kind that lasted. The kind Brody wanted for himself, only with kids.
    He smiled to himself, there in the gathering darkness of his new house. If she could have heard that thought, Kim probably would have said they’d had kids—him and Conner and Steven.
    They’d been a handful, Brody reflected. Most likely, keeping up with two boys year-round, and a third when the school term ended, had been plenty of mothering for Kim. Either way, she’d never complained, never withheld love or approval from any of them, no matter how badly they behaved, but she’d been strict, too.
    Chores and homework and church on Sunday were all nonnegotiable, and so was bedtime, until they all reached their teens. Scuffles were permissible, even considered a part of growing up country, but they had to be conducted outside.
    Of course, Davis usually refereed, though he was always subtle about it.
    Bullying, either among themselves or out there in the bigger scheme of things, was the biggest taboo. It was the one infraction that would guarantee a trip to the woodshed, Davis told them.
    None of them had ever wound up there, but they’d sure gotten their share of skinned knuckles and bloody noses interceding when kids at school picked on somebody.
    Brody roped in his thoughts. Quieted his mind. Carolyn Simmons popped into his brain. She had a way of doing that.
    Which was a waste of thinking power, since that woman had about as much use for him as a stud bull had for tits.
    And who could blame her, after the way he’d done her?
    He leaned against what would be a wall, someday, and took off his hat. Lowered his head a little.
    He’d never set out to hurt Carolyn, and he’d meant it when he apologized. He’d been young back then, and foolish, and when the call from his most recent girlfriend, Lisa, came late one night, her voice full of tears and urgency, he’d panicked.
    It was as simple as that.
    “I’m pregnant,” Lisa had told him. “The baby’s yours, Brody.”
    After she’d calmed down a little, she’d gone on to say that she wasn’t cut out to raise a baby by herself, and she wasn’t about to hand an innocent child over to a rodeo bum like him, either. No, sir, she wanted her child to have a mom and a dad and grow up in one house, not a series of them. If he didn’t marry her, pronto, she knew an attorney who handled private adoptions.
    Brody hadn’t discussed the matter with Conner, or with Davis and Kim, because he’d been estranged from all of them during those years. In fact, he’d made damn sure they weren’t around before he showed up on the ranch, badly in need of a hideout, a place to lick his wounds.
    And he sure as hell hadn’t brought the subject up with Carolyn. He hadn’t known what to say to her. So he’d simply packed up his gear, within an hour after hanging up with Lisa, and loaded it into his truck.
    Carolyn, still flushed from their lovemaking earlier in the evening, had been smiling in her sleep when he leaned over and placed a kiss as light as a whisper on her forehead. Except for a note, hastily scrawled and left next to the coffeemaker on the counter beside the back door, that kiss was all the goodbye he could manage.
    There was no way to sugar-coat it, then or now. He’d skipped out on her.
    End of story.
    All during the long drive to San Antonio, where Lisa was living at the time, though, it had been Carolyn haunting

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