Texas Lullaby (Texas Montgomery Mavericks Book 7)

BOOK: Texas Lullaby (Texas Montgomery Mavericks Book 7)
9.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

When Fate tosses you in the deep end, it’s time to sink or swim.

Texas Montgomery Mavericks
, Book 7

Lydia Henson’s four-year-long engagement to Jason Montgomery is about to end in a Texas wedding everyone is anticipating. She’s come to accept Jason doesn’t want children. She can live without children. She can’t live without the man she loves.

Jason has never wanted a family. At least, that’s his story and he’s sticking to it. The falsehood is less emasculating than the truth. Yet when tragedy on the eve of their wedding lands Lydia with her sister’s children to raise, Jason finds himself surprisingly calm in the midst of the chaos.

Everything he swore he didn’t want seems as natural as breathing. But just as he gathers the courage to grab for the golden ring, another unexpected twist threatens to tarnish what could have been a shining future.

Warning: Sticky fingers and dirty diapers can change a couple forever.

Texas Lullaby

Cynthia D’Alba


As this is the last book in the Texas Montgomery Mavericks series, I have so many people to thank. First, of course, to my editor Heidi Moore, who took a chance on an unpublished author seven books ago. She’s been with me every step of the way.

To Angela Campbell and Sandra Jones, who served as critique partners on many of these books…thank you from the bottom of my grateful heart.

To the D’Alba Diamonds. You ladies rock as my street team. You are always supportive and gracious with your time and reviews, reposts and retweets. You are a big part of my life, and I thank you for being there. A special shout-out to my Diamonds who took time to read the early chapters of this book and give me feedback on my twins. Thank you Delene Yochum and Paula Farrell. Your comments were very helpful.

To my husband, who’s learned to wash clothes and make his own dinner. Thanks, babe. Now, about the vacuuming and dusting….

And finally, to my very dear friend, Susie Wilson Williams, who asked me to use her granddaughter Ellery in a book. This one is for you. I threw in your daughter’s name too!

Chapter One

“I’m worried about my sister. She and Jim should be here by now.”

As always, the sound of his fiancée’s voice made Jason Montgomery’s heart swell with love. He leaned over and put his arm around the back of her chair. “I’m sure they are just running behind schedule. It was probably tough for Meredith to get her and Jim and those three kids packed and on the road.”

Lydia Henson rested her head on Jason’s shoulder, tiny wisps of her brunette hair tickling his cheek. The scent of lilacs and lavender from her perfume swirled around him. He inhaled, letting the intoxicating aroma fill his lungs.

“You’re probably right.” Lydia chuckled. “Between my sister’s kids and all the Montgomery children, there are going to be a lot of short people running around at our wedding tomorrow.”

The excitement in her voice when she spoke of children drove a stake into his gut. By accepting his marriage proposal, she’d accepted not having a family. His adamant stand of not wanting children was a well-known fact, and something that wouldn’t change.

“And that doesn’t bother you?” he asked.

“What? Rumbustious kids at our wedding and reception? Of course not.” She looked into his eyes. “I love my nieces and nephew. And I adore all the ones on your side. But you and I aren’t cut out to be parents, and I’ve accepted that. I knew when we started dating that you didn’t want children. And I appreciate your being so bluntly honest about it. The long and short of it is I’d rather spend my life with you and no children than spend my life with anyone else…period.”

“I love you.” He leaned in to kiss her but was interrupted by someone banging on a water glass with a knife. Resting his forehead on hers, he sighed and then looked in the direction of the noise. Dressed in a gray suit with a blue tie, his brother, Travis, stood directly in front of the head table where Jason and Lydia were sitting, a wide grin splitting his face.

Travis lifted his water glass. “To my brother and his soon-to-be wife. Caroline and I wish you all the happiness we’ve found.”

Twenty glasses filled with wine, water or iced tea were lifted in a salute, along with shouts of well-wishes.

Cash, Jason’s youngest sibling, stood. “I second that. And I have to say, it’s about time you made an honest man out of my brother, Lydia.”

Jason playfully elbowed Lydia. “Yeah.”

Lydia laughed along with the rest of the Montgomery clan, as well as her parents. At three years, it had been a long engagement.

Jason looked around the room at all the Montgomerys gathered for tonight’s wedding rehearsal dinner. He was the last single adult Montgomery male. All his siblings had married, as had his cousins. If the smiles and contented expressions were any indication, marriage agreed with all of them. He was looking forward to joining their married ranks.

And now the next generation of Montgomerys had begun arriving. He adored his nieces and nephews. There wasn’t much he loved more than spoiling them rotten and handing them back to the parents to straighten out. But he’d known for years that fatherhood wasn’t in his future.

Every woman he’d ever dated had been sure she’d be the one who’d change his mind, sure that Jason would want children with her. It didn’t work that way, at least not for him.

He’d long ago accepted his fatherless future. If any woman could have changed his mind, it would have been Lydia Henson. However his siring children, or rather
siring children, was based on biology, not emotion, something no woman could alter.

And it was something he’d never shared with anyone for any reason, not his siblings, not his parents, not even Lydia. Since she and his sister-in-law were the main medical care providers in town, he’d also made sure nothing appeared in his chart here. He loved his small town, but information that could be considered juicy had a tendency to find its way into the gossip mill. News of his infertility could make him the object of pity or jokes, neither of which was acceptable. So far, his past medical diagnosis had stayed in Austin, where it had originally been made.

He glanced over at the love of his life. She was as beautiful tonight as she’d been ten years ago when they’d met. Maybe she had a few lines around her eyes that hadn’t been there, but she’d earned those honestly with laughter and smiles. Her chestnut-brown hair was coiled into a fancy twist right now, but later, he’d pull out the pins and let the thick waves wrap around him. As Lydia chatted with his mother, her jade-green eyes flashed with happiness and contentment.

He’d met Lydia back when he was in law school and she’d been a medical resident. He and his date had been brought into the emergency department after a car accident. Hell, right now, he couldn’t even remember what his date’s name had been that night. The minute he’d laid eyes on Dr. Lydia Henson, he was a goner.

But not so for the good doctor. Her hours at the hospital had been ridiculously long. Residency and then establishing her very successful private practice had taken a toll on their relationship. Needless to say, they’d had their ups and downs over the years they’d been together.

Then, last September, they had parted ways over the issue of children––her for, him against. In a moment of frustration, he told her she should go find a man to marry who wanted children. He’d been more than a little shocked when she’d agreed with him and walked away. He’d been sure they were done. And for a while, they were. But they hadn’t been able to stay apart.

The rustle of Lydia’s dress jerked him from his memories. She shoved her chair back and stood. “I know the bride isn’t supposed to give toasts at her own rehearsal dinner, but what the heck. It’s my wedding, right?”

“You go for it,” Jason said with a pat on her cute butt.

“To Mom and Dad. You were always there for me and Meredith. You moved us to military bases I’ve never heard of in countries I’d never heard of, but what a great life you gave us. My sister is late, as usual, but if she were here, I know she’d be stomping her feet and lifting her glass in agreement. I love you both.”

She turned to face Jason’s parents. “To Lane and Jackie. You welcomed me into your home from the first day Jason brought me there. You’ve made me feel like family.” She turned to face Travis and Caroline at the front table. “And thank you to Travis for marrying Caroline and keeping my great partner in town.”

Travis lifted his water glass in acknowledgement and Caroline grinned.

Then she looked down at Jason and smiled. “My life hasn’t been the same since you were carted into my emergency department all those years ago. I love you. I can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together.”

Lydia lifted her glass. “Ladies, to the men we love.”

The women in the room stood, tapped their glasses together and drank before retaking their seats.

Jason rose. “Well, hell. How am I supposed to top that?”

The gang chuckled.

“I’m not going to try.” He looked at Lydia. “You are my love. My life.” He leaned down and kissed her. “Now that my brother’s broken tradition and started all the toasts before dinner, I suggest we eat this wonderful meal so we can get to the desserts.”

Jason sat and Lydia leaned over. “We’ve killed as much time as we can waiting for Meredith and Jim.” She glanced toward the two empty seats and back to him. “Maybe the kitchen can hold their food in a warming area so it’ll still be edible. Think I should call her again?”

“It’s only been a couple of hours since y’all spoke. It’s a good what? Four- or five-hour drive down from Wichita? They were making good time. I expect them to walk in any minute.”

“You’re probably right. I haven’t seen Levi since he was born. I bet he has grown so much.”

Hearing the pleasure in her voice as she spoke of her new nephew dug a pit in his gut. Raising children had been a major point of contention between them. He wished things were different for him, for them, as far as children went. But things were what they were, and he’d given up childish things like wishing for the impossible when he had been ten.

Some things were just not meant to be. His fathering children was one of those things. He had been blessed with parents who’d been wonderful role models for how to raise a family and it sucked that his option for biological children had been taken from him. Still, he’d rather others believe him too selfish to have kids than have to tolerate their pity if they discovered his gun wasn’t loaded.

They finished the salad course and still no Meredith and Jim. The wait staff removed the salad plates and set thick filet mignon before each guest. Jason had just cut into his when a waiter handed him a note.


Meet me outside. Now.

Mark Singer

Jason frowned as he read it. What could the sheriff want with him?

“Everything okay?” Lydia asked.

“Singer is outside and wants a word with me. Probably can’t make the ceremony tomorrow and wants to wish us well. I’ll be right back.”

The Whispering Springs county sheriff was standing in the hotel hall just outside the private dining room. Hat in hand, Singer wore a serious expression that did not change when Jason held out his hand.

“Mark. Good to see you. What can I do for you?”

Singer shook Jason’s hand. “I hate to do this to you tonight, but I’m afraid I have some bad news.”

Jason braced himself for whatever the sheriff had to say. “Okay. What’s the problem?”

“An accident report from Gainesville came across the wire an hour or so ago. No names, just location. State police called me about five minutes ago to notify the family.” Mark slid the brim of his hat through his fingers as he turned it. “I’m sorry, Jason. It’s Lydia’s sister and her family.”

“How bad?”

“I don’t have all the details, but it’s bad. I was told to find the family and get them as quickly as possible to the North Texas Medical Center. I thought it might be better if you could bring them out here instead of me delivering bad news in front of the whole group.”

Concern and apprehension dug dual trenches through his gut. For a man who didn’t wish for things, he hoped that
meant a broken leg or two and nothing worse.

“Lydia is going to be crushed.”

Mark nodded. “Yep. I know how close she is to her sister.”

“Wait here. I’ll get them.”

Jason headed back into the reception, his heart chugging like a freight train.

“What was it?” Lydia asked as he neared her chair.

Jason hesitated, fully aware that he was getting ready to blow apart the world of the woman he loved.

“The sheriff needs to see you and your parents outside for a minute.”

She frowned. “Why?”

Jason shook his head. “Mark can explain everything.”

Lydia rose slowly as realization formed in her eyes. “It’s Meredith, isn’t it?”

He hated being the one to break her heart with bad news, but he loved her enough to give her an honest answer. “Yeah. I’m sorry, babe. Go get your parents and take them out. I’ll be right there.”

A shadow fell over her face as she nodded.

She quietly took her parents out the side door but their actions, however subtle, did not go unnoticed by the rest of the Montgomerys.

“What’s going on?” Lane Montgomery asked.

Jason blew out a long breath and then squatted down between his parents’ chairs. “Something has happened to Lydia’s sister. A car accident. Don’t know how bad. Singer was sent here by the state police to find the family.”

A loud cry came from the hall. Jason rose and hurried out. Lydia’s mother clung to her, weeping in noisy gasps. Her father stood at rigid attention, his military background evident in his posture.

“I’m so sorry,” Singer was saying. “I don’t have a lot of information beyond what I’ve provided.”

“Can you fill me in?” Jason asked.

“Drunk driver hit their van a little ways outside of Gainesville. Report I got was that the husband was dead at the scene. The wife and kids have all been taken to North Texas Medical Center. I don’t have any information on their condition.”

Those dual trenches were now deep caverns trying to cut him in half. If he felt this way, he could only begin to imagine what Lydia and her folks were going through.

Jason raked his fingers through his hair. “Damn.”

“I know.” Singer’s solemn expression said everything.

“What can we do?” Jason’s father asked.

Jason whirled toward his parents, unaware until now that they had followed him into the hall.

“I don’t know. Not yet. I guess the first thing is we need to find out how badly Meredith and the kids are injured.”

“Let me get Caroline,” Jackie said. “Maybe she can call up there for the family. Lydia is too upset. Caroline will understand all the medical jargon to translate for the rest of us.”

Jason nodded. “Good idea. In the meantime, I need to talk to Lydia.”

Jackie headed back into the reception, and Jason went over to where Lydia stood with her arms around her mother’s waist to support the older woman.

“Let me,” he said, slipping his arm around her mother. “Come on, Ida. Let’s find you a place to sit down.”

“My baby,” she wailed. “And her babies.”

“I know, I know,” he said in what he hoped was a calming tone.

Jason’s dad was standing beside Larry Henson, his arm around the older man’s shoulders. It was clear Larry was trying to remain strong for his family, but the shaking of his body and his ashen face said that the news was taking its toll.

The doors to the private dining area opened and various Montgomery family members flowed out into the hall.

Ida’s body went limp in a swoon. Jason tightened his hold, and Travis hurried over to sweep Mrs. Henson up into his arms. “I’ve got her,” he said. “See to your bride.”

Jason found Lydia near the entrance to the dining room. His sister-in-law Caroline had her arm around Lydia’s shoulder as they talked. He crossed to his fiancée, put his arms around her and hugged her close.

“I’m sorry, babe.”

“I know.” She gave him a quick hug, took in a shuttering breath, stiffened her spine and stepped back to continue her conversation with Caroline. “Neither of us are great at throwing around our weight to get what we want, but I really need you to do that now. Call and badger everybody until we know what’s going on.”

BOOK: Texas Lullaby (Texas Montgomery Mavericks Book 7)
9.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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