Katie, Cash, Ruby, and Rocky got off to a very early start the next morning, leaving Skyheart around 4am. Katie and Cash had actually managed to do something productive the night before, with Katie reserving two rooms at the hotel the hands usually stayed at on their weekends off.
Cash had managed to find a moving company willing to bring Katie’s belongs from Chicago to Montana, promising delivery before Christmas. When Katie tried to ask how expensive that must have been, Cash just cut her off by pinning her to the bed (or wall or desk) and kissing her until she forgot the question. Even thinking about last night brought a blush to Katie’s cheeks.
“Uh-oh, someone was being naughty last night!” Ruby called out from the backseat of the truck in a singsong voice. Katie just blushed harder and glared at him.
“Oh, hush, Ruby. Let the kids have their fun,” Rocky said. This time, both Cash and Katie blushed, their eyes meeting in the rear view mirror, Cash driving while Katie sat in the back with Ruby.
“Would you shut up?” Katie hissed at her best friend, making Ruby laugh.
“Oh, sugar, you know I don’t mean anything by it. My two favorite people in the world are happy. What more could I ask?”
“I’m not one of your favorite people?” Rocky gasped in fake indignation. “Why, Ruby, how could you?” Ruby laughed, leaning forward and hugging Rocky around his seat.
“Of course you are, honey,” Ruby reassured Rocky. “But, let’s face it, you’re always happy. I’ve been dealing with that moody man child for years, until an angel of light walked through our front door and chased all his clouds away.”
“You should start writing poetry, Ruby. That was beautiful,” Cash said dryly, making everyone laugh.
The ride to Billings was long, but the four people in Cash’s truck barely noticed the distance, talking and laughing, singing along to the radio and planning for Christmas Day.
Once they reached Billings, they split up. Ruby needed to go to the mall, wanting to pop into random stores to find gifts. Katie had learned Ruby never planned gifts ahead of time, he just waited until he saw the one. Rocky was stopping by the hardware store. In his spare time, Rocky liked doing woodwork. He made all sorts of things and was secretly carving Katie her very first Skyheart Christmas ornament.
Katie and Cash were stopping by a furniture store to look at new beds (Cash wanted to officially share a room with Katie and he thought a new bed would be a great way to start off). They also planned on looking for artwork they could hang on the walls, although Katie’s Christmas gift to Cash was artsy photos of the ranch and their ranch family she’d taken and had enlarged so they could also be used to decorate the house.
“All right,” Cash said, “let’s say...three hours? We can all meet up at the McDonalds for lunch and then trade off shopping partners. Since I know Ruby’s already planning on stealing my girl.” Ruby just replied by sticking his tongue out, causing all of them to laugh.
“Okay, I have a feeling Katie and Ruby will be shopping longer than Rocky and me, so we’ll go ahead and check into the hotel. Oh, and I’ve got reservations at that fancy steak restaurant at six, so you guys definitely have to be back by then. And Ruby, go ahead and use the ranch credit card if you find decorations you like.”
“You sure?” Ruby asked. “They might be a tad...flamboyant.” Cash just smiled at Ruby, his love for his pseudo-adopted brother shining in his eyes.
“I don’t mind. Like we’ve been saying, this is a new beginning. We’ll make our own Christmas traditions while still respecting the traditions of our parents.”
“I like that a lot, Cash,” Rocky said, nodding approvingly. “Your folks would be real proud, seeing you make your own traditions with your family. Even if we are a little odd.” Ruby slung his arm over Rocky’s shoulders, grinning.
“Nothing odd about us, Rocky, honey. This here is a true modern family. We’ve got our cheerful grandpa.” Rocky elbowed Ruby, both of them laughing. “Okay, okay, our cheerful...uncle? Then we’ve got our bossy patriarch, his fantabulous big brother, and our very own Madonna.”
“Madonna as in loving mother figure from the Bible?” asked Katie, raising her eyebrow. “Or Madonna as in the sex symbol singer?”
“Uhh...”. Rocky paused. “Both? You could be a sexy mother figure who sings!” They all laughed as Cash glanced at his watch.
“All right,” he said, “time to get moving. Remember, noon, McDonalds.”
“Sir, yes, sir,” Ruby cried, saluting, before sauntering off towards the mall.
“That boy...”, Rocky said, shacking his head. “I love him, but he’s certifiably insane.”
“Aren’t we all?” Katie asked dryly, causing Rocky to chuckle and kiss her cheek.
“I’m off,” Rocky said. “See you two soon.” Katie and Cash watched Rocky for a moment, then turned to each other.
“Lead the way, cowboy.” Cash grinned, taking Katie’s hand in his as they walked to the furniture store.
“It’s...really green,” Katie said, her voice devoid of emotion. She was staring at the couch, her head tilted to the side and her mouth pursed. “I mean, like, really green. Like a leprechaun threw up on it green.” Cash just laughed, grabbing her hand and leading her away from the monstrous couch.
“All right, definitely not that one,” Cash said, looking around the store. “Those white ones over there are nice.” Katie walked over to the two big, white couches Cash had pointed out.
“They’re really pretty,” said Katie, smirking. “But you do know the hands would destroy these in less than a minute.”
“True,” Cash nodded. “Plus, white furniture with kids is probably a bad idea.” Katie rolled her eyes.
“Cash, I’m not pregnant.”
“Yet,” he said stubbornly. Katie couldn’t help herself and started laughing.
“Uh-huh. Well, you are quite persistent,” Katie said, still laughing. Cash wrapped his arms around her from the back, gently settling his hands on her lower abdomen.
“What about those?” Katie pointed to a variety of blue couches in different shades. “We could have the darker couches in the living room with white pillows. The lighter colors in the family room on the second floor, maybe with those pretty floral pillows of your mom’s. Plus, the blue and white would already match Skyheart’s curtains. What do you think?” Katie turned to look at Cash.
‘I’ve never decorated a home before,’ Katie thought nervously. ‘What if I’m terrible at it? What if he hates it? Oh, god, what if-’
“Whatever you’re thinking, stop,” Cash said, interrupting her internal monologue.
“You’ve got that look where you’re second guessing everything because you don’t think your decisions are good enough.” There was a pause, then Katie looked down at her feet.
“I think... I think it’s going to take me awhile to stop the negative thoughts. Those aren’t really wounds you can heal with stitches.” Cash slid a finger under Katie’s chin, gently lifting her head so she was looking him in the eye.
“I know you’ve got miles to go, angel,” Cash said quietly. “But whenever you start having those thoughts, tell me. I’ll help you through them.” Katie gave Cash a trembling smile, then wrapped her arms tightly around his waist. Cash hugged her back, gently rubbing her back.
“Thank you,” Katie said, swiping at her cheeks. “Thank you for being there. Thank you for asking to understand and just listening when I need to ramble like a crazy person.” Her face was pressed against Cash’s chest, so she felt his deep, rumbling laughter through her cheek.
“Not crazy, angel. Healing.” Cash lifted Katie’s hand and kissed the back. “And I love the blue couches.” Katie laughed at that, pulling back slightly and kissing him.
“Okay then. Blue and white. Oooh, that could be the color scheme we go with for the master bedroom too!”
“I love it, angel,” Cash said, twining their fingers together. “Now let’s go find pieces to fill our home.”
‘Our home,’ Katie thought with delight. ‘Ours. God, I love this man.’
Cash and Katie slowly walked through the store, each finding little additions to add to their home. Their Skyheart.