Target for Love Ch. 20byJazzMatthews©
"Thank you so much for allowing us to have our wedding here, Mrs. Ryan."
Susanna Ryan bustled around, her good-humored nature filling the Georgia country kitchen. It was the most beautiful spring wedding ever. Grant and herself were joined together in the Ryan peach orchard. It was a private affair, intimate family and Ducky attended the ceremony. Some of the people Alexa had invited didn't wish to attend due to the fact they had higher expectations for her marriage.
Things had settled down since those many months ago. Thomas Olivier had been found and tried along with Lionel Prescott for conspiracy and attempted murder. They were doing their damnedest to implicate Grant, but on the beseeching of his daughter, Emmanuel Harden stepped in and swayed the authorities away from the accusations by convincing them that he wouldn't allow a man who nearly killed him to marry his daughter. And with his type of influence, they believed him.
As for the secret, he had yet to tell anyone of it, deciding that it was best to wait several years down the line to even mention it again.
The wedding was not only the celebration of Alexa becoming Mrs. Grant Ryan, but a joyous celebration of family. Hers was now extended. Two young men who were now like brothers to her and two new grandparents who were gentle, yet strong. Most of all, she had her father, which was confirmed by the DNA test they had done four months ago in December.
Life was finally going their way at last.
Susanna began to mold the bottom layer of her crust for a pie. "There ain't nothin' to it, darlin'," she replied with her soft, affectionate voice. "It's tradition now for my boys to be married down here at home where everyone can see. And you can call me Granny, darlin'. You're family now, so you should get used to the idea."
All this time, it was still hard to believe. She had only been married for three hours yet it was only four hours before that she was only her father's daughter. Now she was Grant's wife. She shook her head. "Yes, of course. Just hard to imagine my being married at so young an age."
"That's because thangs are different for you now," Susanna explained. "You have a baby to worry 'bout."
The baby. It was just four months since the baby's conception and Alexa thought it was such a joy to have the likeness of Grant growing inside her everyday. Her hands caressed her stomach, smiling down at her little bundle.
"Along with a husband," she mused as she turned her gaze to the window. Outside, in the bright, spring sun, Alexa saw her new husband laughing beneath the shady grove of trees. He was facing the house while his two brothers looked toward him, clearly laughing as their broad shoulders shook.
They were handsome men. It made her heart flutter each time she looked at them together. Although they seemed and looked just alike, each brother had their own personality. Graham only slipped into his grating southern accent when he was around closer acquaintances. With Grant and Gage, it was an everyday thing.
Her father wasn't outside. She hadn't seen him since the wedding. While she stayed in the kitchen with Susanna, her father, along with Grant's grandfather, Conrad Ryan, was in the living room, deep in thought and discussion over a game of chess and politics.
Alexa could have leapt out of her skin if she hadn't been aware of the cinnamon smell that greeted her when Susanna was near. It felt like home already.
Susanna glanced out the window to where Alexa's gaze was captured.
"I can't believe that man out there is mine," she said breathlessly as she glanced down at the golden band circling her finger.
Susanna chuckled lightly as she placed a comforting hand on Alexa's shoulder. "It's hard to believe you married Grant," she confided. "I didn't believe it would be Grant who would be the first down the aisle outta my boys."
She went over to the stove to pull out a pie and placed it on the stovetop. "The expectation was for Graham to settle down first. The two oldest ones, though it would have been a contest, I was certain Gage would come to his senses sooner than Grant."
She walked over to the window again to take the cooling pie to place on an oven mitt on the table. "You're the first gal either of those boys brought home. Grant has never been good with gettin' a good woman."
Susanna smiled as she placed the pie she had just taken out of the oven to set upon the windowsill. "But you're the one to set that boy right. You were able to tame him in areas not many others could. Not even me."
Alexa blushed at those words, and not a moment too soon. Grant chose that moment to look at her and their gazes connected. The love radiated from him in that brief, searching gaze before he lifted his glass of Jack Daniels to her in salute.
She nervously smiled at the flutter that took place in her stomach as she watched that beautiful male return her affection with a heart-thumping, sexy grin. He said something to his brothers and they suddenly turned to look at her also, both of them smiling as stupidly as their brother.
Unsettled by how much attention she was receiving, Alexa ducked out of sight, returning her attention to Susanna. The elder woman was covering a pie with Saran wrap. "There's your fresh peach pie, straight from our orchard," she beamed with satisfaction. "You may take it with you when you leave and I'll make sure your daddy and your friend have theirs before they leave tomorrow. Grant told us that your honeymoon is driving distance. Where is it, if I may ask?"
"Now that's a matter between me and my bride," Grant declared from the backdoor. He sauntered in and instantly hauled Alexa against him. Susanna gave him a playful glare. "I'm still your grandmother. I have a right to know where my boys are."
Grant grunted, wanting to fight his grandmother's demanding, tell-me-now-or-you're-in-trouble gaze, but this was the first woman in his life to ever intimidate him. He sighed. "It's tradition for a Ryan to take his bride up to the Tennessee cabin and make love to her 'til she can't walk straight."
Gage chortled as he lifted his Smirnoff mockingly. "I'll toast to that. Hell, that's fair game for anyone now. Why start with a wife?"
Graham slammed his hand into the back of Gage's head. The glare his older brother gave him placed a chill into Alexa, but Graham stood up to that scowl as if he was greeted by a smile.
"What the hell's your problem, dumbass?" Graham chided. "You're embarrassin' the bride actin' like the idiot you are."
Gage sighed discordantly, throwing a glare toward his youngest brother. "From the looks of thangs, she ain't got nothin' to be embarrassed about." He diverted his green gaze to Grant. "I gotta hand it to you, bro. At least one of us is gettin' laid tonight."
"Out!" Susanna suddenly yelled. "Get out, Gage. You boys know I don't tolerate fightin' or that kinda language in my kitchen. And just for that, no pie."
Being denied Granny Susanna's homemade peach pie was like death itself. It was enough to make even a man like Gage Ryan want to repent every sin from the past ten years of his life.
"Aw, Granny, don't do that to me."
Susanna had a thoughtful look on her face before a mischievous smile displayed. "I might forgive you, if you tell me about this lil' miss of yours I've been hearin' about."
Gage understood that everyone knew about the fighting between him and Summer Eddington, but only Grant had the suspicion of something deeper.
"There ain't nothin' to tell," Gage disclosed sullenly.
"Like hell," Graham huffed. "Where is she? I thought she said she was comin'?"
She did. That was before they got into an argument a few days before all because he had offered her a ride down to Georgia.
"She had somethin' else to do." Gage shifted his feet uncomfortably. "I think I'm gonna take a walk." And he disappeared out the backdoor again.
Graham shook his head. "I think I'm gonna follow him." Before he closed the door, he said, "Damn, he's got it bad."
Susanna left the same time Gage did, slipping into the living room to rest in her rocking chair to watch the progress of the game and to enlighten the two men on her views in current politics. The newlyweds were left to themselves in the country kitchen that smelled of home and love.
Grant grasped Alexa's hips to bring her into him. He lowered his forehead to hers. "Did I tell you how beautiful you look today?"
Alexa smiled. "All through the ceremony and afterwards. Didn't you hear the million times I said thank you?"
Grant shrugged. "Was busy with the thought of how you're finally mine."
"I never thought I'd end up with a man like you."
"But you have me," Grant replied, "as I tend to have all of you tonight."
Alexa's smile widened. "All of me?"
"Mm-hmm," Grant purred softly into her ear. "Take you 'til I can't stand it anymore."
"Is that right?"
Grant's strong arms encompassed her, drawing her tighter into his arms and never wanted to let her go. "Trust me, my darlin'. Makin' love to you for the rest of our lives is a vow I'm damn sure gonna keep. That I promise."