Five pairs of eyes were fixed on the leather jacket that hung on the banister. Daddy had come to home last night, they knew that much. His coat hung it its spot and his black cowboy hat rested on the coat. Four of the five waited to charge upstairs. The eldest Annie was doing her best to hold them off. Just past her thirteenth birthday, she was more conscious than her siblings. Daddy wasn’t in his room, he was in Mom’s room. She knew because she had caught Daddy a couple of times sneaking back to his own room. Annie for years watched her parents’ live together but maintain separate bedrooms. Uncle A.J. and Uncle Nick thought it was very funny. She once heard Uncle A.J. ask Dad, “Who do think you’re fooling?”
“Anybody down there?” Kevin yelled as he opened his bedroom door. A series of shouts, yells, and giggles along with the sound of stampeding feet headed upstairs.
Cass stood at her door and watched the brood over come their father and drag him to the floor. The boys were always too rough, “Boys… Boys… take it easy on Daddy!” Cass shouted above all the racket. She had to laugh at the tangle of bodies in the hallway. Kevin smack dab in the middle. She walked over and began calling names. “Annie, Cody, Cameron, Cassidy, and Jesse!”
All five snapped to attention followed by “Sorry Mom-s”
“Mom is no fun,” as Kevin grabbed his eldest boy. “Cam, are you ready for the rodeo?”
“Yes sir,” Cameron helped his Dad up.
Kevin tousled Cody’s hair, “What about you? Maybe next year?”
“Maybe,” as he latched onto his father’s leg. “Annie wants to do barrels and poles… Mom said no.”
Kevin chuckled; Cody was his third child and he was very attached to his older sister. They had a special bond much like Gary and Cass did. “What about you pumpkin?” He looked at the stamped duplicate of Cass, his little Cassidy. Kevin wanted to name her Cassandra when she was born with that flaming red mane like her mothers. Cass said one Cassandra was enough; he named her Cassidy instead. “Like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid baby,” he whined until he had won.
“No, I just like Ferdie,” she grabbed onto one of his fingers.
“Well, what is not to like about that ornery old steer of your sisters’?”
“Daddy!” Annie whined. “Don’t pick on Ferdie just because he’s old. Why are you here anyway? Mommy didn’t tell us you were coming and she always tells us.”
“Well I didn’t know he was coming, it was a surprise.” Cass began to move her children down the stairs for breakfast. It wouldn’t take little minds very long to put the puzzle together if they weren’t kept busy.
“Who gets the surprise this time?” Cameron asked hoping it was himself.
“Probably Jess, he’s the baby,” Cassidy pouted.
“Not a baby,” Jesse stamped his tiny Justin enclosed foot into the linoleum. Kevin smiled at his little cowboy. He was outfitted in a hat that was eight gallons to big for him, a hip holster, his green plastic pistol, and one pair of Pampers.
Jesse was lucky he was able to keep the pistol that Kevin had bought him. Cass wasn’t pleased reminding Kevin that guns weren’t toys.
“Yes you are, you still wear diapers,” Cody began to tease.
“Yep, baby Jesse James Richardson, the diaper cowboy,” Cameron joined in.
“Boys don’t tease your brother,” Kevin put a stop to it before it really could get started. Cody and Cameron who were eight and almost seven respectively, could be hell on wheels with their younger siblings. “The surprise is for your Mom, it’s our Anniversary.”
“Don’t you have to married to have an anniversary?” Annie spoke and shot Kevin a nasty little look.
Kevin was taken aback slightly; this was not the Princess he knew. Cass had warned him. Last week she had told him on the phone that his princess was growing up. He didn’t quite get it until Cass literally spelled it out for him. “P-E-R-I-O-D.”
“Oh!” he groaned. “Shit Cassie, she’s growing up on us.”
“Yes she is Kevin and I’m sure the other four will too.”
“Hey someone is here!” Cameron shot out the front door. “It’s grandma!” he yelled as kids poured out of the kitchen, leaving Kevin and Cass alone.
“Did you know she was coming early?” Cass leaned towards the kitchen window, watching her children get whipped into a frenzy, they loved their grandma Richardson.
“Nope,” Kevin stood behind her, he wrapped his arms around her and hugged her. The radio was on in the kitchen; they swayed slightly to the tune. Again Kevin had asked Cass last night if she would marry him and again she had told him no. Kevin finally put it all together before he had come out here, but this time he was prepared. He had a plan. He knew she should say no and he knew why, finally. He had never been with another woman besides Cass since he had stepped foot on this ranch to claim his first-born child. At first people questioned, but Kevin really didn’t give a shit. He loved Cassandra Jo Collins, rancher, and only his Cassie.
Kevin had enlisted his mother’s help, secretly of course. Old words haunted Kevin for a week, the words she spoke when she found out she was pregnant with Cam, then Cody, then Cassidy, and finally Jess. “Only if I’m very, very, drunk Kevin.”
For the last eight years Kevin and Cass were known as the Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell of their generation with a twist. They lived together, loved together, had a family together, they just never married. They maintained their own homes, but Cass’s ranch was much larger now. Kevin had bought the acreage surrounding the ranch. Between the two of them, they owned the entire valley now. Cass was a little pissed at Kevin at first because he had land-locked her. When she saw that her name was listed on all the deeds as well as his, she never brought it up again. The ranch was now a productive and profitable horse ranch, not a cattle ranch. Tigress and Titan were the resident producers still. The farm in Kentucky was the other half of the successful enterprise. They were making a name for themselves in horse circles. Kevin was still making records and producing as well. They were a team and everyone knew it. Kevin always referred to Cass as his ‘Life Partner.’
Kevin smiled as he watched his over animated mother charm his children outside. “We should do something with the house. Every time someone comes it’s cramped.”
“You’re not touching this house,” Cass leaned back and kissed his cheek. She loved the way his beard and goatee scraped against her skin, still. He shaved once, she was miffed for days at him.
“Look out, here she comes and the kids are heading the other way.” Kevin moved away from Cass. He poured three cups of coffee and set them on the table. “You ready babe.”
“I’m ready honey,” Cass laughed. Kevin was still like a child when his mother was around. When Anne found out that Cass was pregnant with Cameron, she was overjoyed then she gave Kevin her two cents on the entire situation and informed him that they had better get to the alter, “Tim will do the service for you.”
Cass saved Kevin the trouble and informed Anne and the rest of the family that was gathered in Lexington that there would not be a wedding because they weren’t getting married. Later that evening, Kevin and Cass sat out in the barn together. “Well that went over like a turd in the punch bowl at a Sunday reception.” Cass never laughed so hard in her life. Kevin didn’t care he was deliriously happy, they were having another baby.
Kevin was just as contented with each succeeding pregnancy. Birth control never worked, no matter what they used. His mother once suggested abstinence, she couldn’t tell who looked more upset, Kevin or Cass. They had tried everything from condoms and birth control pills to IUD’s; they all failed eventually. Kevin would smile and when Cass finally calmed down he would tell her, “Cassie, It’s a blessing.”
Kevin was there every time she delivered except for Annie. Cass would never forget when Kevin arrived at the hospital with a catcher’s mitt when she was due to deliver Jesse. He showed up smelly and sweaty with dirt streaked all over him. He was coaching the boys’ little league team and she paged him to meet her. There wasn’t enough time for her to wait for him. In the delivery room, he flashed a smirk at Cass, as he stood between Cass’s legs, which were already in a set of stirrups. He pounded his mitt with his free hand, “Come on baby! Slide this one home, this is old news for you.”
Cass laughed then and got even later. She locked him the corral with Ferdie. Kevin was scared to death of Ferdie. Cass laughed her ass off as Kevin tried to get away from the steer. Finally, when Kevin stopped running. Ferdie went up to him and dropped his head. “Scratch his head stupid that is all he has ever wanted from you anyway.” Cass giggled as she went in the house to feed her family.
“You hairy beast,” Kevin tickled him behind his ears. “All this time I thought you wanted to stomp me to death.” From then on, they were amicable. Ferdie could get a scratch if he wanted one, but Kevin wasn’t going to talk to the damn thing like the kids did.
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This is a work of fiction.
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