Stone Cold Cowboy

By: Jennifer Ryan

“I kind of need it. It won’t take long.”

They walked out and locked up the house. Sadie went down the new porch steps Rory put in yesterday. She turned back and smiled at the pretty bushes and flowers she’d planted along the porch.

“It’s a really great house.”

Luna draped her arm over Sadie’s shoulders and stared back at the freshly painted house with her. “Yes it is. Sure you wouldn’t rather live here with Rory?”

“No. His place is the home he’s worked his whole life to hold on to. Mine is with him.”

“Fair enough. Let’s go.”

They chatted about school, diner gossip, and Sadie’s plans to reveal her surprise to Ford. They pulled into the driveway behind several cars and trucks she didn’t recognize, except for Dane’s.

“What is going on here?” Sadie glanced at Luna, who valiantly held back a smile. “Luna, what is going on?”

“Just come with me.”

“Who’s here?”

“You’ll see. No more questions, just come on.”

They hopped out of Luna’s Jeep and walked through all the cars and trucks to the front porch. Luna led her inside, through the house, and out to the open back door. Luna whistled to get everyone’s attention. The crowd gathered on the back patio turned as Sadie stood in the doorway, staring out at everyone, the pretty lights strung over the patio, casting a soft glow as the sun set, the barbecues lined up along the back, the picnic tables set with pitchers of wildflowers, lemonade, beer, and champagne among the pretty white and yellow dishes. A huge sign hung at the back of the patio. The crowd was filled with familiar faces from the diner, the entire Bowden family, including Rory’s buddies Gabe, Blake, and Dane with their wives and children. Everyone yelled what the sign said, “Congratulations!”

Sadie pressed her hand over her racing heart. Rory stood with Dane and Bell, Kaley sitting on his arm against his chest, her arm hooked around his neck. He spotted Sadie and handed Kaley off to Bell and made his way through the crowd and up the steps to take her hand and pull her close. “Surprised?”

“Rory, honey, what is this?”

“Our engagement party.”

“You did all of this for me?”

“I had some help.” Rory tipped his glass of beer in the direction of his brothers and grandfather, and Luna standing as far away on the opposite side as Colt.

Luna rushed forward with a glass of champagne for her.

“Um . . .” Sadie didn’t take it. She opened her mouth to say something but closed it, not knowing if she should say anything about the baby in front of all their friends.

Colt moved in, holding out a glass of lemonade.

Luna narrowed her gaze on Colt. “A celebration calls for champagne.”

“She can’t have that,” Colt whispered, handing Sadie the glass of lemonade and withdrawing back to Ford and Grandpa Sammy.

Luna’s eyes swept over her and landed on Sadie’s belly. Sadie stared up at Rory. He smiled like a lunatic.

“Oh my God, you’re pregnant.” Luna slapped her hand over her mouth after blurting that out. A hush went over the crowd. Everyone stared at her, waiting for her to confirm Luna’s words.

Rory took over. “Thank you everyone for coming tonight to celebrate this very special occasion. Yes, Sadie and I are getting married. That’s reason enough to celebrate. I mean, she said yes. To me.” That earned a laugh from everyone. “That alone made me the happiest man alive.” He bent and kissed her softly, then pulled back, smiling like she’d never seen. So bright. So open. So filled with love. “So you can imagine how I felt when we found out we were expecting a baby, too. I mean, a guy like me doesn’t get that lucky. But with a woman like Sadie in my life, man, I’ve got happiness, the blessing of a child on the way, a long and happy life to look forward to, and love like I never thought possible.” Rory stared her in the eye. “I love you so much.” He kissed her again, and they lost themselves in the moment.

Everyone cheered and sipped their drinks. Luna mouthed a silent apology for outing her about the baby. Sadie only smiled. After all Rory said to her, she didn’t care that everyone found out about the baby before she had a chance to announce it herself. After all, these were their friends, the people who shared their lives and were the happiest for them.

Rory hugged her close and she whispered in his ear, “Thank you for this. I love you.”

“You and the baby are the best part of my life. I wanted everyone to know and see how happy you make me. How happy we are together.”

Before the barbecue got under way and she greeted all their guests, Grandpa Sammy stepped forward, held up his glass, and toasted them. “Welcome to the family, pretty girl. Welcome home.”

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