Brush just before five. There was plenty of daylight left, so if I had to hunt my wife down, I would. But I’d hunt for her in the pitch black with only my other senses to rely on if that was what it came down to. The urge to find her and keep her was stronger than my own self-preservation at this point.
I parked and started for the barn, deciding that was the best place to begin my search. If Saoirse wasn’t in there, maybe Lock or Connell could point me to her.
Before I could get there, a mini ATV came out of nowhere, cutting off my path. To avoid getting run over, I had to jump back a few steps.
Caleb and Hannah Kelly blinked up at me from their little vehicle. Hannah was grinning and giggling. “Uncle Luca!” she squealed.
“Hey, Hannie,” I greeted while rubbing my chest to get my startled heart under control. “Fancy meeting you here.”
“I have a bow.” She opened her hand and held it up to show me. “Put it on, please.”
Seeing no other choice, I took the bright-pink bow from her. She watched me carefully and with an edge of menace until I slid the clip into my hair.
“Good?” I tipped my head to the side to give her a good look.
She nodded. “I love it, Uncle Luca!”
Caleb had his arms crossed and a deep frown on his chubby little face. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to talk to your Aunt Saoirse. Have you seen her?”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “She’s my wife.”
His lip curled into a snarl. “I heard my mommy say you made Aunt Sershie sad.”
Hannah nodded. “Aunt Sershie cried.”
I’d known I’d made her sad. I wasn’t even surprised she’d cried. But there was something about these kids delivering the news that was a dagger to the heart.
“I’m here to tell her I’m very sorry for making her sad. Think you could tell me where she is?” I asked as calmly as I could.
Caleb jutted out his chin. “Are you going to make her cry again?”
“I really hope not.”
The kid looked me square in the eye. “Aunt Sershie is on Mars, and she forgot her phone. Sorry.”
“Mars, huh? Maybe I’ll wait for her to come back.”
He chuffed. “You gotta go home now cuz we don’t have a bed that’ll fit you. They’re all way too big for you.”
Then he put his mini ATV in gear and stepped on the gas, zipping away while Hannah squealed and waved at me over her shoulder.
Apparently, Caleb was going to be my nemesis. I could live with that until I got Saoirse back. Then, I’d spend some time winning our nephew over. He’d be an Uncle Luca fan before he turned six, and I’d convince him I wasn’t fucking small.
I found Lock in the barn. If he was surprised to see me, he didn’t show it. We shook hands in silence, and he waited for me to speak.
“I’m told Saoirse has left for Mars.”
Lock grunted. “You had a Caleb run-in, I take it.”
“He’s not pleased with the state his aunt arrived in. She put on a brave face for him, but he’s not stupid.” Lock folded his tree trunk arms, sending the distinct message he wasn’t impressed with me either.
“I’ve come to fix the mess I made. I would have been here sooner, but I’ve been with my sister in the hospital.”
The hardness in his gaze softened a fraction. “How is she?”
“Doing as well as can be expected. She and Nellie will be going home tomorrow.”
He lifted his chin. “Glad to hear that.”
“Look, Luca. My wife and I don’t have secrets from each other, which means after Saoirse unloaded on Elena, Elena unloaded on me. The origins of your marriage won’t go any further if that’s how you want it. To be frank, I don’t give a damn how things started between you. What I care about is where you go from here.”
I nodded in agreement, unsurprised Saoirse had spilled everything to Elena. I was glad she had someone to confide in.
“That’s what I care about too. That’s why I’m here.”
Eyeing me, Lock wrapped his thick fingers around the end of a shovel. “I’m sure Saoirse has shared some of the ugliness she grew up witnessing. I got out, went away to college, and she was left in the middle of it. If she’s gun-shy about marriage, she has every reason to be. If you’re not able to understand her reticence, you’re not the man for her.”
His blunt tone made me grimace. “I do understand it. I’m here to tell her I do.”
His fingers flexed around the shovel. “Don’t let her get away with making excuses out of fear. If you allow her to convince herself she doesn’t deserve what she really wants, she’ll live with regret forever. I know because I almost did it to myself, and I would have been nothing without Ellie.”
“I don’t even know if she wants to see me, but I’ll try, man. I’ll keep trying.”
“She’ll want to see you,” he gruffed. “You’re going to need to get on a horse to find her. Remember how to ride?”
“Uh…” I scratched the back of my neck and scanned the horses in the stalls behind him, landing on my old friend, Barney. “It’s like riding a bike, right?”
Lock pushed out a rumbling chuckle. “Sure. That’s one way to look at it.” He started toward Barney, but before I could take a step to follow him, he spun back around and leveled me with a hard stare. “One more thing. If I ever hear about you yelling at my sister the way you did a few days ago, you will deal with me. I’m not a violent man, but when it comes to my family, I don’t play games. Got me?”
“I got you, Lock.” I didn’t look away from him. “Give me time, and I’ll show you you don’t have to worry about Saoirse with me. That’s never going to happen again.”
He nodded once. “Good. Now, help me get Barney set up and I’ll point you toward Saoirse.”