The Texas Tycoon's Baby

By: Crystal Green

While glancing up at Tyler, Zoe pulled on his shirtsleeve. She had a playful look on her face.

By the time Ty got around to talking, Chet had already guessed the news.

“We are pregnant,” his brother said.

From the other side of the room, Jeremiah gave one of his victory whoops, and everyone congratulated Tyler and Zoe at once.

But no one seemed more excited than Eli, who got out of his wingback chair and enveloped Tyler, then Zoe, in a hug.

Chet watched his father, smiling. Eli was about four months sober now. He attended his AA meetings while his sons attended their Al-Anon gatherings on a regular basis.

It was all working out for the Barrons now, but who would’ve guessed it all those months ago?

“How far are you along?” Mina asked Zoe.

“Three months. We want to wait until the birth to see what the sex will be, though. It’ll be a nice surprise.”

Chet slipped his hand into Mina’s. That hadn’t been the route they’d traveled. Soon after he’d proposed to her, they’d gone to their first doctor’s appointment together, and they’d found out Colin’s disposition. Chet had gone a little nuts afterward, shopping for baby boy stuff until Mina had told him that he was likely to fill a semitruck before he got through.

He’d even had a hand in putting the final touches on the day care center at the resort, and during its grand opening, Mina had been there, proud as could be as they’d looked upon what they’d created as partners.

And they were that in the truest sense of the word. She’d come back to the Group, opening the resort with Chet, staying on right up until she’d been ready to give birth. Now she was taking time off to be with Colin.

Actually, Chet had cut back on work, too, finding that there was no need for all the business trips he’d been engaged in. Not when he had so much to come home to every night.

Near a silver beverage service that had been brought in for their gathering, Eli used a ladle to transfer some of Lizzie’s Woodland Punch to plastic party glasses. The little girl put herself in charge of giving everyone the drink for a toast to Ty and Zoe’s pregnancy.

As Eli held his punch aloft, he led the salutation. “Here’s to my sons,” he said, his voice scratchy. “Miracles, every one of them. And here’s to my new daughters, too.”

“Here, here,” said Mina’s dad, clinking cups with his wife, then kissing her on a blushing cheek.

“And,” Eli added, bending down to Lizzie, “here’s to the traveling band we’ll soon have if my sons and daughters keep going at the rate they are.”

Lizzie probably didn’t know what a traveling band was, but she joyfully clinked with Eli, anyway. It was obvious the old man adored her, especially in the ladybug-decorated early spring dress she’d chosen for today.

As everyone started throwing around possible names for a traveling band, Chet noticed that Colin had gotten heavy-lidded, so he rose from the love seat, pressing a kiss to Mina’s forehead.

“I’m going to walk him around a little, get him to sleep.”

“You do that, Daddy.”

She smiled at him with such love that he could barely contain himself. But Colin was such a sound sleeper that Chet would be able to spend a lot of quality time tonight with his wife.

And many nights afterward.

Chet walked his son through the halls, past the ballroom and the windows with their flowery views of spring.

Finally, he came to the lounge.

To the new portrait that hung over the mantel.

The Barrons had commissioned an artist to recreate the original painting, with Eli, Aunt Florence, Tyler and Jeremiah posing so stoically in it.

But there’d been some additions.

Now the portrait held more Barrons, including Abe, Chet’s mom…

…and Chet.

He didn’t feel like a ghost anymore, and he knew that, in time, he was going to have a picture of his own family in a place of honor in his home. Colin would see himself in it, along with any future brothers and sisters, and he would know that he had always been accounted for.

Always wanted.

He heard footsteps behind him and turned to see Mina entering the room. She came to him, slid her arms around his waist, rested her chin against his arm so she could look down on the baby, who was slumbering away.

They could’ve made for a beautiful portrait right now—a family who’d made it through bad times to get to the good.

A family united forever and always.

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