Authors: Tina Leonard,Rebecca Winters
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Fiction
Capri’s expressions was adorably confused. “Footballs.”
“Sure. A pink one for Sara and a regular one for Carter.”
“Nerf or stuffed?”
“Stuffed. Nice and soft, for their first catches.” He grinned.
“Don’t feel left out. I got you one, too. But I’m not telling you what color
She glanced toward her box. “You got me a football.”
“Was there something you would rather have had?”
She shook her head. “I guess a football is fine.”
“Good. Merry Christmas. Now, on to bed.” He herded her toward
the hallway that led to the bedroom, but she kept glancing back toward the
“It’s beautiful, Seagal. Thank you so much for doing that. I
didn’t feel like it was Christmas without the tree up. And I just ran out of
time before I could get it put up.”
“It’s not like you didn’t have anything better to do.” He
finally got her into the hall—but he didn’t get her into her bedroom before
she’d spied that the door to the nursery was closed.
“Why is that door shut?” Capri demanded.
“To keep the warm air out here in the hall,” Seagal said,
knowing very well his quick-thinking wife wasn’t going to buy that lame
She went to the nursery, pushing open the door. “Oh, my
It was a baby wonderland, if he did say so himself. He waited
for Capri’s reaction to the amazing nursery that had bloomed in her absence.
“Did you do all this?” she asked, moving into the room, gently
running her hands over the two new white cribs.
“The nursery I cannot take credit for. I wouldn’t know the
first thing to buy babies.”
“Footballs,” she said, smiling, moving to touch the soft
blankets in each crib and the mobiles hanging overhead.
“Okay, I wouldn’t know the first
thing to buy babies. Mrs. Penny and your mother had a
little baby shower in here. I guess that’s what you’d call it. The folks from
the Boo in the Night Society, the Honeymoon Hotel, the Wedding Diner, Mosey
Montgomery’s Etiquette and Cotillion, the Wed & Bed B&B, and even the
sheriff’s Murder, He Votes club came by. It was a houseful.” He smiled. “The
Murder, He Votes guys put together the cribs and hung the curtains, fixed
mobiles and baby swings. The heavy lifting.”
He watched his wife continue to walk around the room, examining
each bit of baby paraphernalia with a smile. It was good to see Capri happy.
Ever since he’d come back to town and figured out a way to move into the house
with her, it seemed she hadn’t smiled much. Of course, she hadn’t felt much like
smiling, maybe—she’d once said she felt as if she’d swallowed a Christmas
turkey—and she’d been anxious about the babies once the doctor put her on bed
It was good to see her smile.
“The ladies weren’t sure what colors you wanted. They left
receipts for everything, in case you wanted to swap any of the—”
“It’s perfect.” She turned to him, her eyes shining. “Nothing
will need to be swapped. I’m so grateful for all of our friends.”
He started when she said
couldn’t remember Capri speaking of them as an “our” in the past couple of
weeks. It felt good.
But he didn’t want to spook her, so he merely said, “If I don’t
get you in bed, I’m going to get in trouble with Doc.”
She looked around the nursery one last time. “Thank you,
Seagal. Even though you’re not admitting that you did any of this, I’m pretty
sure you had a hand in it.”
He warmed under her appreciation. “Well, I did take a lot of
pictures. Your mother is going to start a baby photo album for you.”
Capri smiled. “Thank you. For everything.”
He nodded. “You’re welcome.”
She didn’t say anything else as she walked past him down the
hall. He glanced around the nursery one last time, taking in all the amazing and
beautiful things their friends had bought for the babies.
He so badly wanted to be here every night of the babies’ lives,
watching over them, taking care of them.
He turned off the light and closed the door.
When the babies finally came home two days before
Christmas, Seagal was amazed by how much different the house felt. The house
“You can’t believe the difference,” he told Jack. “It’s like
the house is magical now or something. It’s beautiful. I thought it would be
panic and craziness—and it is—but mostly, it just feels so awesome.”
Jack raised a beer to him in the Wedding Diner. “Makes you
think, doesn’t it?”
Seagal wasn’t sure he’d been doing much thinking. Right now he
was more into
With the babies and Capri,
everything was open and new and exciting. “The divorce will be final the day
after Christmas. Yes, the court does have office hours that day, despite the
holiday season. I’m going to have to face a Grinch in a black robe and sign off
from my marriage.”
Jack stared at him. “You’re going through with it?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“I don’t know.” Jack looked at him. “Do you?”
“I don’t think so. My wife hasn’t indicated there’s to be a
change in plans.”
“You may have to help her with that.”
Seagal winced. “Capri isn’t easily swayed. For instance, she
threw me out for the afternoon. She told me that she didn’t need a bodyguard,
she needed sleep, and while the babies were napping she was going to sleep like
a rock, and I was going to leave the house or she was going to sue the
department for harassment.”
Jack laughed. “Did she really threaten to call the chief? And
“I don’t think it was an idle threat.” Seagal sipped his beer.
“How am I supposed to change her mind?” He’d done everything he knew how to do,
which was nothing more than continue being her husband. “I love her so much. I
just don’t think Capri feels the same way.”
“Oh, I think she does.” Jack glanced around the pink-and-white
walls of the Wedding Diner. “Kelly says she thinks Capri loves you madly. But
things were kind of rocky from the beginning. At least that’s what Kelly
Seagal blinked. “What else does Kelly say?”
“That Capri feels like she stole you from Daisy.”
“And that you never got over Daisy.”
“That’s even dumber,” Seagal said. “If I wanted to be with
Daisy, I would be.”
“You can’t really tell that to a woman. They don’t understand
the difference between attraction and true love.”
Seagal shook his head. “I never thought about Daisy again after
Capri asked me out. That’s the truth.”
“I know,” Jack said. “But women don’t really get that.”
Seagal pondered the information for a moment. “It shouldn’t
matter. I’m a married dad. My ‘hot’ quotient for the ladies has hit rock
“Dude,” Jack said with a laugh, “if anything, it’s made you
even more attractive to the ladies. They love a steady-Eddie kind of guy.” He
shrugged. “Deep down, wives know this stuff. It gets to them. They don’t like
feeling less attractive to the opposite sex than their husbands are.”
“This is the most existential crap I’ve ever heard you spout,”
Seagal said. “You’re actually starting to bring me down. Your job is to make me
feel better, give me hope, not talk a bunch of philosophical egghead
“It’s true,” Jack said. “Ask her.”
Seagal drank his beer, waved for another. “You want me to go
home, ask Capri if she feels I’ve got more options with the opposite sex than
she does, and that will fix my marriage.”
“I’m saying try to see it from the chick’s point of view.”
Seagal looked at his partner. “Look. First thing, if I called
Capri a chick, she’d hand me my head. I’m just treading water with her.”
“All right. Listen, just take on some of the Venus angle, okay?
Women think differently than we do. They worry about stuff we never dream they’d
worry about. Do I have to draw you a diagram?”
“Yes,” Seagal said.
Jack shook his head. “Right now I can assure you Capri is
worried about baby weight. Lumps and bumps. Leaking breasts.”
“I wish I could see leaking breasts,” Seagal said morosely.
“Capri does not let me in the room when she’s nursing. If I go in there, she
wraps up like a mummy.”
Jack laughed. “Too much info. Why is your skull so thick?”
“I don’t know.” He guessed it was, because Jack seemed to get
it and Seagal sure didn’t. “I’ve got to go. I’ve got a cruiser going around the
house every five minutes while I’m gone, and if Capri looks out the window and
sees it, I’m toast. She’s fed up with the case. She says she wants her life
back, and the best way to make that happen is to get me out of the house.”
Jack nodded. “Probably right.”
“Thanks. Help me some more, why don’t you.” He tossed tip money
on the table.
“What if there’s never a lead in the case?” Jack asked. “Your
divorce is final soon and you’re out on your ear. Then what?”
Seagal knew the pressure was on. Christmas Day was his last day
to be under the same roof with Capri and the children—she’d made no bones about
it. “I have a pretty good idea what’s happened. It’s a local job—some of the
Bridesmaids Creek loose cannons have too much time on their hands. They were
making a handoff and decided Christmastown was the best place to do it. And
there were Capri’s big, beautiful Christmas arrangements, with vases big enough
to hold stash.”
“How do you know this?” Jack asked.
“Daisy sort of told me.” Seagal leaned back in the pink vinyl
booth. “When she came to the hospital to see Capri, I looked out the window as
she left. She rode off on the back of Taylor Kinsler’s motorcycle.”
“Oh, that’s bad,” Jack said. “Nothing good can come of
“Nope. He’s been spoiling to get in trouble for years. Things
haven’t gone well for him at rodeo, mainly because he doesn’t like to work hard,
which is a shame because his father, Judge Kinsler, is one of the
hardest-working men I’ve ever known. I heard through the grapevine that Taylor
picked up a bit of a weed problem when he was on the circuit. Probably thought
it made him look cool to the ladies.” Seagal shrugged. “Him and his boys are
trouble, always have been.”
“The Bad.” Jack nodded. “I remember when Taylor and his friends
called themselves the Bad in high school. They loved having a bad rep. Even in
football, they wanted to make a blood sport out of it. It wasn’t about winning
for the team—it was about who they could hurt.”
Seagal nodded. “I guess nothing’s changed, except sometimes bad
kids grow up to be criminals. It’s a slippery slope.”
“And Daisy’s mixed up with them?”
Seagal shrugged. “Daisy likes all the guys. You know that.”
“Yeah, but she’s never been bad. She’s more like—”
“Edgy.” Seagal got up from the booth. “I can’t worry about
Daisy. She’s a tough girl—she can take care of herself.”
“Shame. All that beauty and an angel face going down the road
“Yeah, but it’s not your problem, either. Unless you’re into
bad girls. I’ve got to head back. It’s one of my last nights at the hacienda.
I’m praying for a miracle, or I’ll be in Judge Kinsler’s court. This Santa’s
probably going to be sent right out on my sleigh, unless my wife experiences
some kind of epiphany.”
“Remember what I said,” Jack called after him. “Women are
different from men!”
Seagal waved as he absorbed Jack’s nonsensical advice. Of
course women were different from men—Jack was a softhearted knucklehead. And not
as wily with women as he thought, or he’d have figured out that Kelly was all
On the other hand, Seagal would take any advice if it would win
his wife back. It was the only Christmas gift he wanted.
* * *
, Seagal was still giving Capri space. He’d
texted her once, and she’d texted back not to rush to return. That sounded like
wife code for “I’m really enjoying the peace and quiet,” so he drove around
Bridesmaids Creek’s courthouse another time, looking at the bright Christmas
lights and decorations around the square.
Wasn’t the season supposed to be about hope, about
He parked his truck across from Capri’s shop and shut the
engine off. Though it was dark outside, he had a fairly good view of her store.
There were lights on under the pink-and-white-striped awnings that most shops
had over their storefronts. He remembered Capri had ordered the new awning when
she took over her grandmother’s florist shop—it was the one thing she’d
She’d said there was no reason to change what was working.
Not long after that, Capri had said she thought it would be
better if they separated. He’d been working in Dallas, polishing his résumé and
putting in some extra training hours.
She’d gone from an assistant in the Bridesmaids Bouquet shop to
owner and manager when her grandmother had died. He knew things had been tough
for her. He’d agreed to the separation, figuring maybe she’d feel better in
time. Months had passed, and still she didn’t call—though he hoped desperately
that she would. Capri had taken the lead in the beginning of their relationship;
it had stood to reason he’d be in good shape if he let her take the lead when
she’d processed whatever she was going through.
But she never called.
Seagal leaned back, glancing around the square. He’d missed it
here, more than he realized. Last Christmas he’d been gone most of the holiday
season. Same thing this year, until he’d heard about the drug ring. Capri’s shop
had come up as a possible place the drugs were being hidden—and then her
brother, Beau, had called, dropping the earth-shattering bomb on him that he was
going to be a dad.
Seagal had requested a transfer with lightning speed—and bent
every department ear he could find about letting him be assigned to his
Maybe he’d made matters worse.
Sudden tapping at his window startled him. He rolled down the
window to glare at Daisy.
“What are you doing out at this hour?” he demanded.
She laughed. “Is eight o’clock late in your world now,
He wasn’t going to fall for her obvious reference to his
not-wild lifestyle. “What can I do for you, Daze?”
Daisy’s smile was sweet, angelic. Just like Jack had said.
Only, Jack was stupid.
And I’m not.
“Get tired of changing diapers?” she asked. “Is that why you’re
sitting here alone in the dark?”
“I doubt I’ll ever tire of changing diapers. Good times, as far
as I’m concerned.” It was the truth. He loved spending time with his daughter
and his son. Diapers were no big deal—just part of taking care of babies. He
glanced over at her ride to change the subject. “Nice bike.”
“Yeah.” She glanced at her super-hot-pink motorcycle with
pride. “A girl’s gotta have wheels.”
“I guess.” He wouldn’t classify those as just any old wheels.
“I’m going to have to shove off.”
Daisy looked at him, full-on sex appeal in her tight black
rider duds. She hadn’t worn a helmet. Her long brown hair was tousled and sexy
from the wind. She looked wild and free, and he got why the guys dug her—he had,
too, once upon a time.
Before he’d realized he could actually have Capri Snow, the
smartest, cutest, most uptight girl in the town.
“I’m glad you came back to Bridesmaids Creek, Seagal.”
“Don’t see why you’d care, Daisy.”
She shrugged. “You’re a nice guy. There aren’t a lot of men
like you around.”
This conversation was starting to sound a bit dangerous, like
it might be all about stroking his ego. He didn’t have an ego these days; it was
totally invested in Capri and his kids. “Plenty of nice guys. Though I hear
you’re not always spending your time with the best.”
She frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Saw you ride off the other night with Taylor Kinsler,” he said
Her frown turned into a sexy smile. “Jealous, Seagal?”
He started to say no, not by a long shot, but she leaned over
and kissed him on the lips. Seagal drew back as if he’d been struck by a snake.
“Not cool, Daze,” he said, started his engine, and drove away.
* * *
Mrs. Penny said, “right on the mouth.”
Capri blinked. “Are you sure it was Seagal?”
That was a dumb question, and she knew it. Nobody drove a truck
like Seagal’s. She wasn’t surprised he was still staking out her store, either.
He was determined the drugs were being trafficked through her shop, no matter
how many times she told him it was impossible.
Mathilda nodded. “I could see clear as anything with the new
streetlights. The only reason I’m telling you, Capri, is so you’ll know that
Seagal took off like the wind immediately. Daisy would have had to throw herself
into the truck bed to catch him.”
The two women sat in the formal room, in front of the pretty
Christmas tree Seagal and her mother had decorated. The colored lights glowed
softly, catching against the silver and gold ornaments. She and Mathilda were
going over the Christmastown event, trying to figure out what could be improved
for next year.
“It doesn’t matter.” Capri didn’t want it to matter, but her
heart ached. She had two beautiful children; she was a mom. There was no time in
her life for stressing about Daisy Donovan anymore.
“You know how she is,” Mathilda said. “She’s always been
Seagal had once loved fast. Capri sighed. “I was never fast.
Sexy is not what men see in me.”
“True,” Mathilda said, with her customary forthrightness. “I
think Seagal sees something he likes better.”
Capri considered her husband as she looked around her beautiful
formal room. “Sometimes I don’t think we were really all that well-suited. He
hated this sofa, for example, and I loved it.”