Reckless (Chestnut Springs Book 4): Chapter 30

Winter

Summer: What. The. Fuck. Is this a wedding gift?

Winter: Lmao. It’s the reason I was pissed you weren’t doing a formal gift opening. I wanted to see your face.

Summer: Where did you get this?

Winter: I found it in a box a long time ago and took it.

Summer: THIS IS THE ORIGINAL PAGE?

Winter: No. It’s the exact ad you had of Rhett taped to your wall, but blown up, printed, and stretched on canvas. The original is in an envelope taped to the back along with a travel voucher.

Summer: We can’t stop laughing! It’s so big! I don’t even know where I’m going to put this. This is the best gift ever!

Winter: Hahaha. I’m so happy you both love it. I’d like to suggest above your bed. For old time’s sake.

Summer: I am dead. You killed me. Best ever.

Summer: *photo of Rhett standing beside the print grinning and giving a thumbs up*


“Okay, Vivi. Say Dada.”

Sitting in her highchair, Vivi picks up tiny pieces of banana and stuffs them in her mouth. Watching me. But not babbling. Lately, when Theo is out, I’ve started trying to get her to pick up the word. Theo missed milestones during the time he didn’t know about us, and I know that makes him sad. Melancholy. He won’t allow himself to feel that though. He’s perpetually happy, and that shit is going to catch up with him one day.

It’s not normal.

Da. Da,” I try again.

She smiles and points at me. “Mama.”

My responding grin is automatic. Mama. Sometimes I feel like I need to pinch myself. I wanted this so badly for so long that it hardly feels real.

“Where is Dada?” I turn slowly, taking in the whole room, which has Vivi responding in kind. Her little fingers grip the sides of her tray as her tiny body rotates in place.

She says a bunch of words, but they don’t mean shit. I’ve strung more coherent sentences together after way too much tequila.

But I go along with it anyway.

“Oh, you think so?”

Happy babbling is her response.

“He’s at work right now, just across the back lane at Aunty Summer’s gym.”

A tiny hooting sound.

“You miss him? Honestly, same. It’s weird. And confusing.”

A hum.

“Well, because he’s so handsome, my brain stops working when he’s around. And he’s so sweet my heart forgets it’s been broken so badly in the past.”

She tosses a piece of banana on the floor and the wet slapping noise it makes has Peter skidding out from wherever he was sleeping to hoover it up.

Deaf my ass.

“Da!”

My head whips back to Vivi, but she’s pointing at Peter.

I decide I will never tell Theo that I’m fairly certain she said dog before Dad.

“Dada? We should go visit him? Vivi, that’s such a marvelous idea.”

So, that’s what I do. I grab my gym bag and our baby, taking along my broken brain and mended heart, and head out the back door to see Theo.


“Why right now?”

“Because I need to work out.” I tighten the straps of the carrier on Summer’s shoulders.

“But . . . right now?”

“Yes, right now.”

I wasn’t lying when I said I missed Theo this morning. And then things became awkward with Rob and my dad, so we barely talked. And quite frankly, I’m feeling a little sensitive where Theo Dale Silva is concerned.

“I’m training right now.” She gestures over to Rhett and Jasper, who are chatting in front of a bunch of stackable boxes that I know she makes them jump on to.

“Pfft.” I snap the clip shut over her shoulders. “They don’t count. Plus, Vivi told me she wants to hang out with you for a while.”

Summer looks down at her niece and smiles, her voice changing to this sweet baby tone she only uses with Vivienne. “Oh, well, why didn’t she just say that first? There is no one I’d rather hang out with.”

Vivi grins, her two bottom teeth jutting up like a jack-o’-lantern mouth, and she lets out a bubbly laugh.

“Even Theo is booked up though. We’re always busy from now until around dinnertime. You just . . .”

I zone her out and scope the place for Theo. I know he comes here in the afternoons to work. I’ve never thought twice about it, but he seemed on edge when he walked out of my house today.

He didn’t kiss me. He just said, “I have clients. I’ll be back to make you ladies dinner.” He winked, but then he left. And my mind did that thing it does where it imagined all the places he might go, and who he might be with, and what if he meets someone less complicated and insecure than me?

And who could blame him for wanting that?

So, I decided the best way to ease my mind was to come see for myself that he was at the gym. Working. And not banging some hot twenty-year-old with symmetrical breasts.

“Are you looking for Theo?”

“Yes.”

“He’s over there.” Summer tilts her head toward the opposite corner of the turf area where Theo is staring at his watch as some hot twenty-year-old with very big, very even breasts pushes a metal sled with heavy plates across the floor.

“Do you train playboy bunnies here too?”

Summer snorts. “No, but with all the athletes who train here now, I’d be lying if I said the female clientele hasn’t taken on a different vibe. It used to be the old ladies at their Zumba classes gawking. Now, I have girls who drive out from the city to train here several times a week.”

“Well, huh.” I glance down at my fingernails, trying to decide what color I’ll do next. Perhaps green, to go with how I’m feeling right now. “I’m sure that’s great for business.”

“Winter . . .” There’s a warmth to my little sister’s voice. “Are you—”

“Jealous?” I whisper-shout. “Insanely. Are all his clients so hot?”

Summer laughs. She straight out laughs at me and my spiral. “Win, I’ve never seen you so fired up over . . . anything. This is adorable.”

“Shut up.” My lips twitch.

“I’m just so happy!”

“Summer, go be sentimental somewhere else. It makes me uncomfortable.”

Her head tips back and she barks out an even louder laugh, not at all offended by me, before she goes back to torturing her new husband and their family friend with her niece in her arms.

And me? I do the routine Theo set up for me. Today might not be proof of it, but I feel better every time I come here. A little calmer. A little more confident. A little more in control of my life.

From the leg press, I peek at him, wondering if I should have said hi. I decide that seems more insane than this already is.

When I complete another set, I give another glance around the edge of the plate I press my feet on. He hasn’t noticed me, which is fine. He looks focused. Perfectly professional. I take a break from spying when his hands touch the woman’s shoulders to adjust her position.

That’s how my entire workout goes—rap blaring in my earbuds, eyes wandering to Theo Silva and then wishing they hadn’t.

I find myself tired of my covert operation and give up on being discreet. I’m laid out on The Bench doing my final set of crunches when Theo approaches.

He crouches beside my body, one warm hand over my knee, hot breath against the shell of my ear as I keep my gaze fixed on the ceiling. “Excuse me, ma’am? I’d like to remind you to sanitize this bench. Last time you used it”—his voice drops lower—“you came so hard that you soaked my face.”

My cheeks redden. “That joke gets less funny every time.”

“No. It doesn’t.” His stubble brushes against my ear.

“What are you doing? Aren’t you working?”

“Yeah, but then I saw you. Didn’t know you were here. And I wasn’t going to keep going without coming over to say hi to my girl.”

I turn and finally make eye contact. “Am I?”

“Are you what?”

“Your girl?”

“That’s what I keep trying to tell you. I need to get your hearing checked. Take you and Peter to the vet once and for all.”

“I just didn’t know if we were like . . . a thing thing. Like in public and stuff.” My hand waves around nervously as I completely skip over his joke.

“Oh. Hmm . . .” He settles back, peering around the gym. And I look away, that mean little voice in my head saying See? I told you.

His firm fingers grip my chin and turn my face back to him. “Winter, we are a thing. We are the thing. We are it.”

And then he kisses me. In the middle of the gym. When he should be paying attention to the girl with the even boobs.

He finds me.

He kisses me.

He belongs to me.

I thought I had that once when I didn’t.

But the man who is kissing me now? Out in the open for longer than is appropriate?

He is not the same man.

He’s a better one.

His tongue takes one final swipe through my mouth before he pulls away, glittering onyx eyes hyper-focused on my face. “I’m off at seven. Then we’re going out.”

“Out?”

“Yeah. Dinner. A bar. Something. A date.”

“A date?”

He smiles, pushing to stand over me. “Yeah. We haven’t done one of those yet, have we? Wear a slutty dress for me.”

“Are we having tequila again?”

He turns away with a rumbling chuckle. “Sure, Tink. I’ll lick it off you when we get home,” is what he calls back.

Loud enough that people stare. And I don’t even mind.


“One dance.”

How did I let him talk me into coming here after our beautiful steak dinner? The Railspur is a big country bar in town. It has elevated western vibes with industrial fixtures and warm wood finishings. It’s also packed.

“Theo.”

He said he wanted to show me off. That’s how. And I fell for it. Hook, line, and sinker.

“Winter.”

“It’s a country bar. I don’t know how to”—I point at the busy dance floor—“whatever that is. Do you?”

“Two-step?”

“Yeah. You don’t even seem that country to me.”

His face scrunches up. “I grew up on a ranch. I ride bulls for a living. What more do you want from me?”

“I don’t know. You’ve always got combat boots and a tight T-shirt on. And flannel or whatever. Where are the Wranglers? Where is the cowboy hat?”

“That’s my uniform at work. Part of the sport. I don’t have to dress that way all the time. Should I pick up a twangy Texas accent and start keeping a piece of hay between my teeth? Should I learn to play the banjo?”

I shudder. “No. Please don’t. That kid from Deliverance really ruined the instrument for me.”

He shoves his hand out at me. “Let’s go.”

He’s already dragging me toward the crowd of people. I know our friends are here too, because they just “happened” to be at the bar when we came after dinner. Summer, Willa, Sloane. All the boys. Apparently, Mondays are the new Friday.

“Okay, fine. One dance. But only because you refused to let me pay for dinner.”

He scoffs, flipping me to face him. One hand lands at my waist and the other gently grips my fingers. He’s so effortless. So soothing.

“Hold up. I paid for dinner so you’d have sex with me later.”

So ridiculous that he makes me laugh.

So fucking charming that we stay for more than one dance. We stay until I’m breathless and giddy, and my hair feels damp at the nape of my neck.

He pinned me, he dipped me, he kissed me. He showed me off.

I’ve never felt as cherished as I do in the middle of a busy dance floor surrounded by people I don’t know with Theo’s hands all over me.

I’ve also never felt so horny, because Theo can dance. His skills on the dance floor are so impressive they make me seem like I can dance too.

“Where did you learn to dance like this?”

He smiles, a faraway look in his eyes. “My parents. They were always dancing. My dad was a great dancer.”

“Yeah? You don’t talk about him much.”

He pulls me closer. “He died riding bulls. I still plan to win a championship like he did—that’s my goal. But I think if I let myself talk about him too much, I’ll start wondering what the fuck I’m doing getting on a bull who wants to kill me dozens of times every year.”

I suspect it’s more layered than that. I suspect Theo has his own set of daddy issues, has markers to hit to feel worthy of his father’s legacy. Because based on all the internet research I did after I found out about the pregnancy, his dad was one of the best. A legend. One of the first Brazilian riders to really make a mark on the North American circuit.

“Is he why you became a bull rider?”

“Yeah. I was like his shadow. I always wanted to do everything he did.”

“How close are you to making it to the finals this year? After this time off, are you too far behind in points?”

His head tips down as he tries to get a good look at my face. “Tink, why does it sound like you know a thing or two about the WBRF?”

My lips curve up against his chest. “There may have been some Google research performed at one point or another.”

I feel the deep rumble in his chest. “So . . . internet stalking.”

“Research.”

“Right. Sure. That sounds far more academic, way less deranged.”

“I’m not deranged.”

“Is that why you were stalking me from behind the leg press today?”

Oh my god. Cringe.

“Shut up, Theo.”

“Saw a little flash of blonde hair and blue eyes from between all those metal machines. It was adorable. Are we going to call that research too?” I groan against his chest. “Smart, pretty, but not stealthy.”

I straighten. “New rule, you only train people who are less pretty than me.”

His eyes do a dramatic roll. “That’s everyone, Tink. You’ve ruined me. Don’t you get it? I only see you. You’ve got all my attention. Every last bit of it.”

“Me?”

“Yeah. You and your snarky one-liners. And the way you’re grumbly in the morning until I bring you a coffee. And that goofy voice you use when you talk to Vivi. How sweet you are under all that professional indifference. I even like it when you stalk me. Makes me feel special.” He winks.

I roll my eyes and try to bite down on a smile. “I’m not sweet.”

“You are. I’ve tasted you. And now I want to again. Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Options

not work with dark mode
Reset