Until Ashlyn Page 32

Chapter 7

Ashlyn

Hearing my cell phone ring, I reach my hand out and pat the bedside table until I find the offensive piece of junk, squint one eye open to hit the answer button, and put it to my ear. “’Lo,” I breathe, half asleep as Dillon tucks his head into the crook of my neck and wraps his arm tighter around my middle, pulling my back closer to his chest.

“Angel girl.”

“Papa?” I bolt upright in bed, accidentally elbowing Dillon in the stomach, making him grunt and mutter something I can’t make out. Pushing my hair out of my face, I look at the time, and ask, “Is everything okay?” It’s after ten in Alaska, where my mom’s parents live, which is late for them to be calling.

“I just got off the phone with your mama.” Oh, God. I plop myself back down on the bed and squeeze my eyes closed, feeling Dillon move away from me, then see the light turn on through my closed eyelids. “She told me you ran off and got married to your boss. Is that true?”

“Papa,” I sigh. I love my mom’s parents, but they are a little bit crazy and a whole lot in-your-business, and have been that way since I can remember.

“Hold on, woman!” Papa shouts as the phone is jostled on his end. “I’m asking her. No, she hasn’t answered yet. I just asked the damn question. Hold your horses. No, I’m talking to her. Dammit, give me the phone back,” he barks, and the line goes silent for a moment. Opening my eyes, I sit up, finding Dillon up in bed. His back against the headboard, the sheet down around his waist, and his eyes looking at me intently.

“You better tell me that your mama was pulling my leg and that you did not get married to a man I have not met or approved of!” Memaw shrieks in my ear, making me wince.

“Memaw—”

“You did, didn’t you?” she asks before I can answer. “You got married and didn’t even think to call me and your papa?”

Staring into Dillon’s eyes, I whisper, “I did get married.” I watch as his face softens and his eyes darken. Leaning over, he pushes my hair back over my shoulder and kisses my neck, causing my eyes to slide half-mast. Scooting closer to him, I tuck myself into his side, resting my cheek against his chest and listen to Memaw shout.

“I can’t believe this! Frank, can you believe this?”

“I ain’t got no choice but to believe it,” Papa mutters, and I fight back the laughter I feel bubbling up inside of me.

“What the hell happened to the good old days, when a man would ask a woman’s family for consent to date her?” she grumbles, and this time I can’t fight the laughter I feel, so I press my face into Dillon’s chest and let it go. “Are you laughing?” she asks in disbelief.

I laugh harder, asking, “Would you like him to pay you in cattle for my hand in marriage, Memaw?”

“That would be a start, though, I do think you’re worth more than a few head of cattle,” she mutters dryly, making me giggle.

“What the hell are you talking about cattle for, woman?” Papa shouts from a distance, and I tilt my head back to look at Dillon, wondering if I should put the phone on speaker so he can hear for himself what real crazy people sound like.

“Nothing,” she snaps. Then whispers, “When did you get old enough to get married, baby girl?”

My laughter dies in my throat and my eyes fill with tears. “I don’t know,” I whisper back, listening to her pull in a ragged breath.

“Please tell me that he makes you happy,” she pleas quietly, and my eyes close tight.

“I promise you he makes me happy,” I say, feeling Dillon’s fingers still on my side, where he was drawing lazy patterns, and then his lips at the top of my head press there.

“Well… I guess I got no choice but to be happy for you then, do I?”

“I would like you and Papa to be happy for me. I’m really sorry I didn’t tell you, but things have been a little crazy around here.”

“I bet.” She sighs, then mutters, “Hold on, your granddad is biting at the bit wanting to say something. Darn it, Frank, let me let the darn phone go before you strangle me with the stupid cord!” she shouts, and I laugh once more.

“Angel, is your young man there with you?”

“Yes, Papa.”

“Put your phone on speaker so I can say something to him.”

“Papa,” I sigh, knowing what’s coming and not really wanting to subject Dillon to it.

“Now, angel girl,” he demands, and I reluctantly put my cell on speaker and hold it out between Dillon and me.

“Okay, he can hear you.”

“You there, young man?” he asks, and Dillon smiles, kissing my forehead.

“I’m here.”

“Good, now you listen to me, ’cause I’m only going to say this once. If you hurt my girl, I will fly my old ass to Tennessee, kidnap you, bring you back to Alaska, and let the bears have your cold, dead body. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?”

“I understand,” he says with a smile on his handsome face.

“You better take care of her.”

“I will,” he agrees adamantly while looking straight at me. The soft look in his eyes making my stomach fill with butterflies.

“Good, now I expect to hear that you two are planning a trip out to see us soon.”

“I’ll make it happen,” Dillon agrees, and I lean farther into his side.

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