Creed, p.37
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       Creed, p.37

           Kristen Ashley
 

  I loved that.

  Loved it.

  I looked back at Brand and his face was red, not from embarrassment, from trying to keep his mouth shut.

  I burst out laughing.

  * * * * *

  Creed

  Thirteen months later…

  Creed shut the door on the rental, his other hand curled around the handle of the cooler.

  He moved through the trees into the grass, feeling the warmth of the sun shining on his head and beating through his tee.

  He walked through the grass, his mind registering the cool of the turf on his bare feet.

  Something you didn’t get in Arizona.

  Something you got in Kentucky.

  He lifted his head from his study of the grass, his eyes took in the scene and his body rocked to a halt.

  Brand was in the lake, screwing around, able to entertain himself just as he was skilled at entertaining others. He was happy to be swimming on his own.

  Kara was in her bikini at the side of the lake, feet probably sunk to the ankles in mud. Still, she was smiling and bouncing in the water, a giggling, squealing Jesse in her arms.

  Sylvie was sitting at the end of the pier in shorts and a cami, her tanned legs over the side, her arms behind her, weight in her hands, head tipped back to the sun. The huge rock that he’d placed a diamond encrusted band under in Vegas two months after she moved to Phoenix blinking in the rays.

  As he suspected, neither of his kids had a problem with him making Sylvie his wife. They also didn’t blink when told they were getting another sibling. Brand had two new people to jabber to and Kara had two new people to love.

  They were happy.

  Sylvie was happy.

  So was Creed.

  He forced himself to come unstuck and started moving again thinking what he thought when Kara was put in his arms. When Brand was set there. When he tucked his and Sylvie’s bundled Jesse close. When he studied his Sylvie, sleeping in sheets filled with rose petals.

  He was thinking his Dad would like one fuckuva lot all the love that Creed had created, but better, earned.

  “You got him?” he called to Kara as he put his foot up on the pier.

  “Yeah, Dad,” Kara called back and shit, she was growing into her beauty. A year, two, he was going to be fucked.

  God, he hoped the kid in Sylvie’s belly was another boy.

  Please, God, he prayed, let it be another boy.

  He moved down the pier and saw Sylvie had twisted, her torso just slightly but her neck all the way around. Her arms were still behind her. The diamonds he gave her twinkling. The green at her neck sparkling.

  Every day, every single day, she wore his green.

  Every day.

  She smiled at him.

  Warmth that had nothing to do with sun radiated down the pier and saturated him all the way through.

  Creed smiled back.

  There she was, his woman wearing his ring, his green with his baby in her belly sitting at the end of their pier.

  His Sylvie.

  His dreamweaver, able to weave dreams doing nothing but sitting on a pier and smiling.

  The way it always was.

  The way it always would be.

  He stopped at the end by his wife and put the cooler down. She instantly flipped the top open. Creed bent and rolled up his jeans.

  When he got them up, he settled at the end of the pier with Sylvie, his feet in the water and he saw hers were covered to her ankles, her watery toes painted a bright pink, the same color that was on her nails. His feet were covered up to the tops of his calves.

  She handed him a frozen Snickers bar, he took it and she tore into hers.

  Pregnant, his woman could eat. He’d never seen anything like it. She consumed everything in sight.

  She also didn’t slow down and she was nourishing two so she needed a lot of energy.

  Then again, not pregnant, his woman could eat.

  She just ate like she lived, consuming life and enjoying the fuck out of it.

  It was one of the myriad reasons he loved her.

  Creed ripped open his candy bar and slid his arm along Sylvie’s shoulders.

  She leaned into him, head to his shoulder and bit hard into her Snickers.

  Creed followed suit and his eyes moved to the lake.

  They were back in Kentucky because they told the kids a little of their history and Kara and Brand were curious about where their Dad came from, something, for obvious reasons, he had never shared much about. Something, because of this, they’d always been curious about.

  Now they were in the lake that, since they could cogitate, they’d seen on their father’s back.

  Creed didn’t want to come and Sylvie kept her mouth shut even though he knew she didn’t want to come either. She did this so he wouldn’t put his foot down and not come and therefore not give this to his kids.

  Sitting there, eating a frozen Snickers bar, holding his pregnant Sylvie on the spot where he gave her her first green, practically on the spot where she gave him her virginity, his three kids splashing around him, he wondered why the fuck they hadn’t come sooner.

  “We need a dog,” Sylvie said through frozen chocolate, caramel, nuts and nougat.

  She had said this repeatedly since approximately seventeen hours after moving into his house in Phoenix.

  “Gun would hate a dog,” he replied, having said this repeatedly since approximately seventeen hours after she moved into his house in Phoenix.

  “You spoil that cat like she was your child,” Sylvie bitched and bit off another hunk of candy bar.

  “Does she depend on me to eat?” he asked.

  “Creed.”

  That was all she said.

  That meant yes.

  “Does she depend on me to keep a roof over her head?”

  “Jesus,” she muttered.

  “Does she depend on me for affection?”

  “Partially. She also depends on me, Kara, Brand and now Jesse,” Sylvie returned.

  Creed ignored that.

  “Does she depend on me to enforce rules so she gets along in our household?” Creed kept going.

  “Like Gun follows rules,” she mumbled.

  Creed ignored that too.

  “So she’s like another child and if a dog’s gonna make her unhappy, we’re not gettin’ a fuckin’ dog.”

  “Jesse loves dogs.”

  “Jesse’s gonna have to wait until he has the body coordination to feed it to get one.”

  “You’re so strict,” she muttered.

  “I’m a Dad. That’s what Dads are.”

  She pulled slightly back so she could tip her head to look at him.

  When her green eyes locked with his, quietly, she said, “Creed, I want a dog.”

  To which Creed immediately replied, “When we get home, I’ll get you one.”

  She grinned.

  Creed bent his head and kissed her.

  Her lips tasted partly of Snickers but mostly of sun…

  And Sylvie.

  * * * * *

  Thirteen hours later…

  Creed stood beside the bed in the dark.

  Sylvie was in it, on her side, her legs curled up.

  Jesse was in his Diamondback pajamas on his back, tucked to her front with her arm around him. He had his arms over his head, his legs splayed out, his little fist tucked against Sylvie’s lips.

  Carefully, Creed pulled the sheet up to his wife’s waist before he turned to his bag, dug into the bottom and pulled out the envelope and the flashlight.

  Silently, he left the room, the hotel and got in their rental.

  Then he drove.

  He entered from the south side and parked where his research told him it would be.

  He shut down the ignition and sat in the car.

  “Understand why I gotta do this,” he said into the car.

  As ever, over the years when Creed spoke to his father, Brand Creed didn’t reply. And as ever, over
the years when Creed spoke to his father, he hoped like Christ his father heard.

  And this time understood.

  Creed got out, turned on the flashlight and illuminated the headstones as he walked until he found it.

  Bissenette.

  He turned off the light, shoved it in the back pocket of his jeans, ripped open the envelope and sprinkled the grass with its contents.

  Jesse’s hair. Not the first that had been clipped, that was pressed in a frame that sat on Sylvie’s nightstand.

  But it was his.

  Jesse’s.

  A Jesse made by Sylvie and Creed.

  Once the hair was out, Creed rumpled the envelope and, for the first time in his life, he littered by throwing it at the base of the headstone.

  He stared at the grave.

  Sylvie’s father had died of a heart attack at an age too young for a good man to leave this world but way too late for the man he was.

  “I win, asshole,” Creed whispered.

  Not surprisingly, there was no reply.

  Creed didn’t need one nor did he wait for one.

  He turned on his boot and went back to his family.

  * * * * *

  Two years and four months later…

  “It’s good you have a big table,” Knight muttered and Creed looked from the stove to the man standing, hips to the counter, bottle of beer in hand, surveying the scene.

  He looked over his shoulder.

  Outside he could see Brand and Adam with Charlene’s new man. God only knew what they were doing but, not surprisingly, whatever it was, Adam was smiling and Brand’s mouth was moving.

  Inside, Anya was chasing after Theo, Leslie, Kat, Jesse and Rayleigh, Creed and Sylvie’s petite, wild, curly blonde-haired daughter and Kasha, Knight and Anya’s second girl.

  Anya had company. Sylvie’s white, west highland terrier was jumping around, panting and barking at Anya and the kids.

  Kara was sitting in an armchair, phone glued to her ear, talking either to a girlfriend or one of her, God help him, boyfriends.

  Yes, he said one of.

  Jesus.

  Charlene and Sylvie were on the couch, gabbing.

  He looked at Knight who was still looking through the full house, his expression not giving anything away.

  “Sylvie says you’re not big on holidays,” Creed muttered as his eyes went back to the stove.

  “Wasn’t.”

  Creed looked back to Knight at his answer.

  “Wasn’t?” he prompted.

  “Got three women in my house who go wild for every holiday. Swear to Christ, Creed, even when the red, white and blue M&Ms make their appearance for the Fourth of July, they act like Uncle Sam swooped in and personally asked them to watch the fireworks at the White House with the President. It’s impossible not to be big on holidays with those three dragging me in their wake.”

  Creed grinned back down at the stove.

  Knight was totally fucking full of shit.

  Not about the part where he didn’t give a shit about holidays. He probably didn’t.

  He gave a shit about his girls and he’d do anything that would make them happy. Even eat red, white and blue M&Ms and take them to see fireworks.

  “Kara!” he called. “You wanna give your Dad a hand?”

  “Be right there, Dad!” she called back.

  Translation: She’d get off the phone when the turkey was on the table.

  He turned his head and pinned his eyes on Sylvie.

  “Baby? Preparations are coming to a head. You gonna help out?”

  She had her hand on her enormous, again pregnant belly and her eyes on him.

  When he stopped speaking, her mouth moved to say, “Who did you marry?”

  No help there.

  “I’ll help, Tucker,” Anya offered.

  “Me too,” Charlene pushed up from the couch.

  Creed looked back at Sylvie and lifted his brows.

  She grinned and leaned down to snatch Kasha up in her arms and give her a snuggle.

  Right.

  Again.

  No help there.

  Knight moved out of the room and as he did, he tagged Rayleigh, swung her up in the air and made her laugh.

  No help there either.

  A miracle occurred when, fifteen minutes before the food would be set on the table, Kara got off the phone and joined them in the kitchen.

  Seventeen minutes after that, the table was covered in food and surrounded by people, some of the kids were sitting on stools at the bar, others were in highchairs.

  It was not surprising when Brand piped up and asked for a chance to run his mouth.

  “Dad, can I say the blessing?”

  Creed jerked up his chin. “Have at it, son.”

  Brand, Anya and Charlene all looked to their laps.

  Sylvie’s eyes went to Creed.

  “Dear God,” Brand started. “Thanks for health and food and family and friends. Oh, and love, I guess. Amen.”

  Creed’s firstborn son lifted his head and reached immediately for the potatoes.

  Creed watched Sylvie’s shoulders start shaking.

  He grinned at his wife.

  “Mommy! I wanna sit by Adam!” Jesse shrieked.

  Sylvie shot out of her seat.

  His wife spoiled the dog and her son.

  Creed spoiled the cat and his sweet little Ray.

  Both of them, in different ways, spoiled Kara and Brand.

  Kara and Brand spoiled all of them.

  The perfect family.

  Finally.

  Creed drew in a breath and grabbed the platter of meat.

  * * * * *

  One year and nine months later…

  Creed sat at the end of their pier, jeans rolled up, feet in the water and he stared at the moonlight glinting on the lake as Sylvie burrowed her shoulder into his side.

  He wrapped his arm around her.

  When he did, Creed remembered the first time she did that, in the woods when he told her he intended to be Creed.

  He felt his lips tip up slightly and curled his wife closer.

  She didn’t put her feet in the water. She curved them under her. Since he’d just finished making love to her, she was wearing nothing but her panties and his tee and he remembered the last time he had that, too.

  Vividly.

  Years, the memory of his Sylvie finally becoming all his at the age of eighteen had been bittersweet.

  Now it was just sweet.

  She snaked an arm around his gut and shoved closer even as she asked, “Do you think we should get back to the hotel?”

  “Kara’s got ‘em, baby,” Creed muttered and he was right. His girl would look after the kids. All of them, even Brand, were with her in their adjoining suite.

  “You wanna stay,” she murmured.

  Yeah, he did. He always did. Every year, when they came back and he brought his Sylvie out here in the moonlight, he wanted to stay as long as they could.

  So they did.

  “Yeah,” he answered softly and she snuggled closer.

  His Sylvie.

  Their spot.

  Their lake.

  Their pier.

  No more bitter, just sweet.

  Yeah, his Sylvie, weaving dreams.

  He drew in a deep breath and felt every millisecond of its release as he stared at the water, holding his woman pressed close.

  He did this a while.

  Then he was done doing it and he turned into her. She knew his intent and she tipped her head back to prepare.

  Creed took her mouth.

  Then he moved her to the blanket he spread on the pier.

  There, again, he made love to her.

  And when he did, Tucker Creed finally gave Sylvie Creed everything she wanted.

  Because when they made love in the moonlight on their pier, he planted inside his wife, his Sylvie, baby number four.

  Thus proving, yet again, Tucker Creed could also weave dreams.
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  The Unfinished Hero Series will continue with the story of Raid.

  ####

  About the Author

  Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana but has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

  Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multi-generational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland and existed amongst the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

  Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

  And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

  Discover other titles by Kristen Ashley:

  Rock Chick Series:

  Rock Chick

  Rock Chick Rescue

  Rock Chick Redemption

  Rock Chick Renegade

  Rock Chick Revenge

  Rock Chick Reckoning

  Rock Chick Regret

  The ‘Burg Series:

  For You

  At Peace

  Golden Trail

  Games of the Heart

  The Colorado Mountain Series:

  The Gamble

  Sweet Dreams

  Lady Luck

  Breathe

  Dream Man Series:

  Mystery Man

  Wild Man

  Law Man

  Motorcycle Man

  The Fantasyland Series:

  Wildest Dreams

  The Golden Dynasty

  Fantastical

  The Three Series:

  Until the Sun Falls from the Sky

  The Unfinished Hero Series:

  Knight

  Other Titles by Kristen Ashley:

  Fairytale Come Alive

  Heaven and Hell

  Lacybourne Manor

  Lucky Stars

  Mathilda, SuperWitch

  Penmort Castle

  Play It Safe

  Sommersgate House

  Connect with Kristen Online:

  Official Website: www.kristenashley.net

 
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