This piece features Gabe and Allison working on building their new home.
The ringing of hammers against wood echoed in her ears as Allison Coleman darted out of the path of the approaching tractor.
Her young brother-in-law, Rafael, gave her a sheepish grin as he slowed down the big green beast, lowering the front bucket just slightly to reveal another load of shingles. “Sorry. Didn’t see you there.”
She resisted making a smart-ass comment about his driving, instead shaking a finger at him before scooping up the buckets she needed to return to the horse lean-to. The excursion took her far enough away that on the return trip she paused to admire the cabin, now clearly visible all at one time.
The area was a beehive of construction. The Coleman clan had come out in full force to help with a modified barn-raising—or at least the older boys and their wives were all in attendance. They’d taken a Saturday break from their springtime chores to help her and Gabe add onto the little cabin where they’d been living for just over a year and a half.
The exterior walls had been vertical within an hour of them starting, the roof shortly after that. Now half the crew worked to finish the exterior while others were completing the interior wiring and drywall.
It was astonishing how fast the clan could accomplish something when they set their minds to it.
Allison swung her head to the side to offer a smile to Jaxi. Her sister-in-law was dressed from head to toe in sturdy work gear, her three-month-old baby snuggled up tight in a fabric contraption strapped to her chest. At her side, eighteen month old Lana clung to Jaxi’s hand, her big blue eyes staring up at Allison as she earnestly sucked on her thumb as if it was the most important thing in the entire world.
Temptation was impossible to resist. Allison knelt and opened her arms, her heart fluttering as Lana came forward willingly to be picked up.
As the little blonde bundle of happiness snuggled against her, Allison grinned even wider, answering Jaxi with the only possible response. “It’s supposed to be crazy—it’s family.”
“True.” Jaxi pulled off her cowboy hat and ran a hand through her hair before replacing the sturdy straw head-covering. “I made some sandwiches—they’re in the kitchen when we need them, because that crazy family is going to be done with the walls and roofing sometime in the next forty-five minutes, and then they’ll turn into a ravaging horde.”
“Beth brought watermelon and cookies, and Gabe’s mom said she’d be over with potato salad once she was done her morning chores.” It was one thing she’d learned over the time of being married to Gabe—having family involved was a serious social event in terms of food. It was never just one or two people stopping in for a cup of coffee. And that was just fine by Allison.
There was nothing she liked better than being surrounded by people who loved her.
Like the blond haired man striding his way up the gentle slope toward them, his shirt undone at the neck, fabric stretching over muscular shoulders and the familiar bulge of his biceps. Gabe had his cowboy hat on like usual, and that expression on his face that never got old. The one that said he couldn’t believe she was there.
The one that said he was never going to let her go.
“That is one fine man you’ve got,” Jaxi teased. “Just watching him move makes me think all sorts of naughty things.”
“Go on with you.” Allison bumped their hips together gently, so as not to wake the baby sleeping in the Snuggly. “You got a Coleman of your own. ”
“I do indeed. Vintage Coleman from head to toe, but that doesn’t mean I can’t admire the one you snagged as well.” Her satisfied grin flashed so fast Allison couldn’t hold back a burst of laughter, which of course set Jaxi off as well.
“I hope you’re laughing with me, and not at me,” Gabe warned as he came to a stop at Allison’s side, slipping his arm around her back to ease her and the little girl she held against his strong chest.
Lana immediately reached up and patted him on the head, setting off the laughter again.
Gabe smiled good-naturedly before tweaking her nose. “That’s my own fault for playing doggies with you last time you were over.”
“I think you were having just as much fun as she was,” Allison taunted.
“Of course I was. I get to be a rancher all the time.” Gabe bent down to stare earnestly into Lana’s face. “It’s only on special occasions that I get to be a doggie.”
Lana smiled, showing off her gap-toothed grin.
Gabe straightened up and focused on Jaxi. “Blake asked if you could come—the twins put their handprints in the concrete we poured, which is fine. But now they want to add foot prints and maybe other body parts. There might be some stripping going on.”
“Sweet mercy. Three years old, and they’ve already got him wrapped around their little fingers so hard he doesn’t know up from down.” Jaxi took off in a rush, calling over her shoulder. “Lana, you stay with Auntie Allison and be good girl.”
Allison didn’t even try to hide her amusement. “Blake really cannot say no to those girls, can he?”
“Who could possibly say no to his best girl?” His right hand gently cupped her face as he kissed her, Lana cradled between them. “And Blake’s got four girls to try and keep happy.”
“And one boy. Lordy, that poor child is going to be the most mothered male on the face of the planet.” Allison watched as Jaxi disappeared into the construction area, her endless energy inspiring and a little overwhelming. “She never stops, does she?”
“Hmmm?” Gabe brushed his thumb over her cheekbone, staring into her eyes and ignoring everything going on around them. “Forget about Jaxi. How are you doing?”
That inner bit of excitement flared again even as she adjusted Lana into a more comfortable position. Every time Allison thought about what was happening, it was like opening a brand-new present. “I feel good. Much better than this morning.”
“Hopefully that won’t last too much longer. The morning stuff, that is.”
She hoped so too. She eased away slightly, slipping her fingers into his as she tilted her head toward the cabin. “By the way, I’m okay with us letting people know.”
A deep chuckle escaped him.
Gabe helped her over a rough patch of ground, tucking his head beside hers to whisper, “The instant we started talking about adding rooms to the cabin, I think everyone in the clan assumed you were pregnant. I think it’s pretty safe to say they know.”
He was probably right, but…
“How come they don’t say anything?” Allison tugged him to a stop before they reached the actual cabin. “I mean, there’ve been plenty of opportunties, but no one’s asked. Not Jaxi, not even your mom.”
His eyes sparkled. “No one would dare take away the fun of us getting to announce it.”
She squeezed his fingers before letting them go, rearranging Lana on her hip more comfortably as she headed into the house and he left to rejoin the crew doing something to the windows.
Inside the cabin, her familiar living space was both bigger and brighter. They’d torn down the wall between the small living room area and the new construction, a wide passageway leading off to the two new bedrooms. That would give them a space for the baby and a spot for Rafe to stay with them when he needed to. Thick timber cut on their property had been used in the supports, and the new results fit in perfectly with the cabin Gabe had constructed years earlier.
“Well, that turned out nice.”
Allison turned away from admiring the changes to greet her mother-in-law. “It’ll be good to have extra room.”
Dana nodded slowly, her lips twitching as if she were fighting temptation with every bit of her willpower.
It was impossible to resist any longer. “You’re dying to ask, aren’t you?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” The older woman’s smile grew wider. “But if you’d hurry up and share any news you might have, it would make it easier the next time I go to town. Not saying anything is just about killing me.”
Gabe was going to gloat so hard about being right.
It was impossible to be in more than one place at the same time, but damn if Gabe didn’t want to try.
Swinging a hammer and working with his cousins to make the house even more of a home—he had to be in the middle of that. To put a bit of himself into the four walls that would protect his family.
The other part of him wanted to wrap around Allison and protect her. Not only from feeling sick and miserable, but from the other fears that had crept in along with the joy of finding out about the coming baby. The sadness that struck at not being able to share the thrill with her own mom.
So he did both, best he could, splitting his time between working and poking his head into the cabin to keep an eye on her. Daniel Coleman had taken control of the construction project, offering a knowing wink at Gabe before lining up tasks for all the cousins who’d come out to help. Then he’d given specific jobs to each of his adopted pre-teen sons.
Gabe couldn’t think of a more appropriate way for the walls to go up than under the loving hands of family.
As expected, cheers of delight and good-natured teasing accompanied their impromptu announcement over the lunch break. Hours later they sat in their new living room, Allison curled up at his side on the couch as he stroked his fingers over her shoulders.
She sighed happily. “It’s like a whirlwind hit our part of the world and left behind the perfect house for us.”
“The Coleman clan pretty much is a whirlwind, I agree with you there.”
He slipped his fingers under her chin and tilted her head back so he could touch their mouths together tenderly.
It never got old. Not the kissing, not the lovemaking. He brushed her lips again, butterfly soft.
She changed position and then crawled into his lap, knees straddling his thighs as she ran her fingers through his hair. “Thank you for making this happen.”
“I got the easy part.” He dropped his hands to her hips, caressing carefully. “It took two days to add the extension. It’s going to take you a whole lot longer to build the more important part.”
The changes in her body were subtle, but he loved seeing everyone of them.
Her expression grew more serious. “Are we ready for this?”
“It’s a little late for second thoughts,” he teased. “We changed the roof line. If we take it down now, the shingles are gonna look awful funny.”
Allsion snorted. “Angel boy, you’re nuts.”
He leaned their foreheads together, his thumbs rubbing gently on her waistline. “We can do this. I expect we’ll make mistakes, and we’ll have to learn all sorts of new things, but we’re good at that. The learning bit. And we’re good together.”
She let out a long slow breath, nodding slowly. “It’s a huge change. One minute I’m really looking forward to it, and then the next minute it terrifies me.”
“Well, we’re not having twins, so we don’t have to worry about convincing two little people they aren’t allowed to put their butt prints in concrete.”
“Poor Blake.” She covered her mouth with her hand, hiding her laughter. Then she nodded and leaned in to kiss him all over again. Which was just fine by him.
They had a whole new house to fill with memories, and with laughter, and most of all…
With family. Every crazy bit of it.
Copyright © 2013 by Vivian ArendReturn to Six Pack Ranch Vignettes