I skipped last week’s prompt, mostly because I couldn’t come up with anything for it. But, I’ve had something simmering in my head since I saw the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt yesterday. We have a busy day(ok, we’re busy through Monday), but I’m going to try to get it down before we have to get going.
“I do know how to cook, you know?” Alaina said. “You don’t have to hover.”
Declan laughed from behind her. “Trust me, I know you can. We probably wouldn’t have survived if I’d had to do the cooking.”
She looked over her shoulder and smiled at her older brother. They may bicker, but she was so grateful to have him in her life, especially after their mother had died and her stepfather hadn’t stuck around. He’d sacrificed a lot to finish raising her, and that’s something she’d never forget. “I’m sure you would have figured it out.” She went back to stirring the bowl in front of her. “And I’m sorry I couldn’t make it back for the wedding.”
“You could have,” he said, but she didn’t hear any censure in the words. “If you would’ve accepted my offer.”
She closed her eyes. He had offered to pay for her ticket back to Texas for the wedding. But, after everything he’d done for her, she couldn’t accept more from him. “No, I couldn’t,” she said softly.
She felt him behind her then, and his arms wrapped around her. “I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done for you. Don’t ever forget that.”
She smiled ever as tears welled in her eyes. She had missed her big brother, even as much as she loved it here. “You know Uncle Niall and Aunt Eileen are glad you, Eva, and Dani were able to make it for Christmas. They were afraid something might come up.” Not that she was sure what. She didn’t even know exactly what her brother did, except install security. But, she didn’t understand how that had gotten him shot–twice–over the summer.
“I said we’d be here. I wouldn’t have broken that promise unless I couldn’t help it. You know that.”
She did. and she didn’t say it, but she was even happier he was here. She liked being here in Ireland with her father’s family, but she’d missed Declan. He took a step back but didn’t go far. “Now, before Aunt Eileen comes in and kicks me out of the kitchen, what’s this I hear about some friends that will be joining us.”
Alaina could feel her face warm, but she kept her gaze on the ingredients she was measuring. “I’m sure she told you, they’re friends of Sean’s.”
“Yes. She also told me one of them has been paying an awful lot of attention to you.”
That actually wasn’t Sean’s friend. It was his younger brother. “They don’t have much in the way of family, either. Braeden helped raise Caelan, just like you. They’re going to spend the holidays here. I don’t know what else there is to know.”
“How about how you feel about him?”
She turned to him then and tried to control her flush, though that was nearly impossible. “I feel that I’m a grown woman now, and what I feel is my business.”
He scowled for a moment then burst out laughing. “Yeah, that’s pretty much exactly what Eva told me, too.”
“I like your wife, Declan.”
His smile was soft as he said, “Yeah, I do, too.” He took another step back and said, “I’ll get out of your hair now. Go see if Dani’s back from the barn with Uncle Niall yet.”
The whole family had taken instantly to Declan’s new stepdaughter, and Alaina was especially happy her brother had found this happiness. He deserved it, maybe more than any of them. And she hoped she could find it one day, too.
I don’t know how far this will go, but I’ve been thinking about writing a novella about Declan’s sister since I wrote Protecting the Heart, even though this series was only supposed to be a trilogy. So, I may work on this once I finish Defending the Heart.