Katie - Ten Years Later
Katie was laying on a lounger by the pond at the back of the house, keeping a close eye on her 2 year old daughter, Lilah. Luckily, she had four extremely overprotective brothers looking out for her too. The pond was full of kids from the nine families that now lived at Skyheart. Cash had been hesitant at first to allow married hands to work the ranch, but Katie had convinced him it would be good for all of them to have more people around, more women and children, to help make their home a community.
Hank turned out to be the first hand to get married. They built his house a little way from the big house and bunkhouses so he and his wife could have privacy. More hands followed until nine of them had wives and children. Since there were over two dozen kids on the ranch now, Katie decided to put her college degrees to use and got a teaching license for Montana. Two of the wives helped with teaching, while everyone else helped with everything from childcare to home maintenance.
Ruby still stubbornly refused to let anyone else cook in his kitchen, so, when they weren’t having meals at their houses, most of the families would join the hands for dinner in the big house. It created a warm, loving, slightly chaotic and crazy environment, but everyone loved it. Some of the locals from town joked that Skyheart had turned into a commune, which made Katie and Cash laugh. Yes, they homeschooled the kids that lived on the ranch and almost every family grew some food in their gardens, but twice a week, Ruby still drove into town for supplies, usually with three or four wives coming with him to pick up things the families needed. Basically, they had all turned into one enormous family, coming together and helping each other.
“Hey, angel.” Katie glanced up at the handsome man she was lucky enough to call her husband.
“Hey, cowboy.” Cash grinned, lifting Katie up, making her laugh. He sat down on the lounger and tucked Katie snuggly into his side.
“Where are the girls?” Cash asked. Katie had become extremely close with the other Skyheart wives, so it was rare to see a wife (or Ruby, for that matter) alone without another woman.
“Carrie, Alexis, and Skye are down in the pond. Heather and Hailey aren’t feeling well, so they’re taking a break inside to rest,” Katie told Cash.
“You know, my bet’s for them to go into labor the same day, but Hailey to deliver first. Are we getting close?” Cash asked, eliciting an eye roll from his wife.
“And you know I think it’s super weird you guys bet on when we’ll have babies and even if I did support your weird gambling, I’m not going to help you cheat by giving you inside information.”
“C’mon, angel, I have a streak going! I’ve accurately predicted the last three Skyheart babies.” Cash nuzzled into Katie’s neck, giving her soft kisses up to her jaw. “You sure you won’t tell me?”
“Are you trying to bribe me with sex?” Katie asked.
“Depends, is it working?” Katie laughed, gently running her fingertips over Cash’s bare chest, causing goosebumps to form, even in the summer heat.
“I’ll let you know if it’s working tonight,” Katie whispered, lightly biting down on his earlobe. Cash groaned and tried to discreetly adjust himself inside his swim trunks.
“You’re evil,” Cash stated.
“Only a little,” replied Katie with a grin. “Aren’t you supposed to be helping Rocky with the grill?” Cash sighed and got up.
“Yeah, yeah. How’re our munchkins doing?”
“So far, Jack has helped Lilah swim a few feet and Jamie, Robbie, and Rocky are keeping all the little boys away from her.”
“Those are my little men,” Cash said proudly, “protecting their baby sister.” He leaned down and kissed Katie before heading over to the grill, where Ruby was happily bossing everyone around. Katie looked out at Skyheart, at all those people who had originally welcomed her all those years ago to the newest members of their family.
Katie smiled, watching her children play. Jack and Jamie, named after Katie’s big brother, were only fourteen months apart. The twins, Robbie, named after Ruby’s birth name, and Rocky, were born two years later. Lilah had been a wonderful surprise, but Katie had an extremely difficult pregnancy, and after she was born, Katie and Cash decided they were done with little Buchanans.
Katie never pretended the scars of her past didn’t affect her life and especially her parenting. When her boys were old enough, they were taught to be respectful towards everyone and never raise their hand in anger towards a woman. Katie made sure they knew to never hurt or bully those weaker than they were and to always protect those who need it. She also taught them that hurtful, derogatory words could do just as much damage as a punch.
Jack was the only one who could truly understand his Mama had been badly hurt before marrying his Pops. Soon, though, the other boys would be old enough to hear her story. They had all seen the scars Katie no longer bothered to hide; she didn’t see them as flaws anymore, but as proof she was a survivor.
The Skyheart parents had also started self-defense training for all the children when they were old enough. While the little boys saw their classes as a fun way to release energy, the parents knew the lessons were truly for their daughters. They wanted their girls to know how to protect themselves, even if they were never in a dangerous situation. Katie also made sure every one of the little girls knew how special and loved they were, and that no one could take away their self-confidence and strength as long as they remembered to always love themselves more than they needed someone else’s approval.
“Mama!” a little voice cried out. Katie looked over and saw little Lilah toddling over to her, Jamie holding her hand. She stood up, smiling, and knelt, opening her arms as Lilah threw herself into them. Jamie gave Katie a brief hug before running back to the pond. Katie sat back down, cradling Lilah in her lap.
“Getting tired, baby girl?” Lilah just nodded, curling up in her mama’s lap and closing her eyes. Katie just smiled, wrapping her arms around her daughter and kissing the top of her head.
Katie looked out across Skyheart, seeing the hands laughing with Ruby, and Cash and Rocky (or as he was simply known now “Gramps”) working the grill as they snuck food off the tables Ruby had set up. She watched the children playing in the pond with their friends and parents.
Katie sighed deeply, a smile covering her face. She was with the people she loved and who loved her. She was with her unconventional but wonderful family. She was at Skyheart, the only place she felt completely safe and utterly at peace. Katie was finally home.
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