Curtis Walker watched as all seven of his boys walked in through the back door of their family home, each of them dressed nicely in their pressed jeans, white button downs, boots and their cowboy hats. His heart swelled with pride as they made their way through the kitchen and into the living room. He was happy to see that Zoey and Vanessa had joined them as well, although the two ladies were dressed in pretty white sundresses. With Mother’s Day just a couple of weeks away, he’d had to work a little magic to get a photographer who was willing to take the pictures and have them developed so quickly. He knew his boys would be more than a little irritable by the end of the day, but as far as he was concerned, this was worth it. Anything for his sweet Lorrie was worth it.
Now, if they could just pull it off before she arrived home. They only had a few hours to make this happen.
“All right. They’re all here,” Curtis said gruffly to the photographer. “Let’s get this show on the road.”
Two weeks later… Mother’s Day
As the oldest, Travis was voted as the one who would be responsible for putting this event together and for the last few weeks, Zoey had been offering her help. To her surprise, Travis had accepted and diligently put her to work. She’d even had the honor of talking to him one on one a couple of times, which had been both exciting and stressful at the same time. Kaleb found it amusing.
Despite the fact that Travis’ brothers thought of him as the one with the least amount of emotion, Zoey saw a side of him that she didn’t even know existed. When it came to his mother, there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do to make her happy. Then again, they were all that way.
Zoey had listened to each of the brothers give Travis hell about how over the top his little get-together seemed, but she figured that’s because they would be in charge at some point and they knew they’d have to compete with what he’d done. Travis continued to surprise her at each and every turn in the process, and it was clear, he only had one objection in mind. Making his mother happy. This was her day.
Zoey and Kaleb arrived at the tent that had been set up behind the Walker’s sprawling ranch house before anyone else, but within minutes of their arrival, Kaleb showed her the text Travis had sent.
Five minutes. Be there or I’ll personally kick your ass.
She couldn’t help but laugh. There was no doubt in her mind that each of the boys would be there and on their best behavior to boot. Their love for their mother was a tangible thing and seeing it made Zoey’s heart hurt. Just that morning, Kaleb had taken her to her mother’s gravesite so she could spend a little time with the woman she missed more than anything in the world. Holidays like these were hard for her, but Zoey tried to reassure herself that her mother was looking down on her and her father each and every day, and without a doubt, her mother knew how much they loved and missed her.
Travis’ truck pulling into the driveway diverted her attention. Behind him was Zane and V and she hoped the others would get there soon. Curtis had texted not long ago letting them know that they were on their way back, which meant they had little time to get everything together for their arrival.
“Is there anything we can do to help?” V offered as soon as she approached. From where Zoey stood, everything had been taken care of. From the long table set up with eleven place settings, the catered food set up on another table just behind it, and all of the decorations placed throughout, she figured they couldn’t be any more ready than they already were.
With the exception of the entertainment. Travis’ idea, but a good one if Zoey did say so herself.
“I think we’re good. I just want to make sure we get the lights turned off before they come up the driveway,” Travis answered and Zoey turned to see him behind her.
This was supposed to be a surprise. Curtis had taken their mother out for the day, giving her some excuse about the boys having to take care of something with the resort. They weren’t trying to hurt her feelings, but Kaleb had informed her of what Lorrie normally expected from them on Mother’s Day. Generally, they’d each arrive separately throughout the day, armed with small gifts, but it was very rare for them all to be together at the same time. Strange, considering they were all close to home, but, unfortunately, life usually got in the way. Not today. Today was about Lorrie Walker and Zoey was so excited to be a part of it.
A few minutes later, the rest of the brothers joined them and Zoey heard Travis’ sigh of relief. Now, if their parents’ would arrive they’d be in business.
Zoey was impressed with what Travis had managed to put together in such a short period of time, with very little help. He’d had a tent set up, food catered in and he’d even hired a band, only they hadn’t shown up yet. Over the top for sure, but Zoey liked the idea and she knew Lorrie would love it as well. Zoey knew they’d all have to gear up to see Lorrie cry, which she knew they didn’t handle very well. Not even if they were tears of joy.
“Who’s that?” Brendon asked, pointing to the car pulling down the driveway.
“Cheyenne Montgomery,” Travis told him, a mischievous grin on his handsome face and Zoey watched as Brendon’s eyes brightened.
“Are you serious?”
Travis nodded before glancing over at her. This was sure to get interesting.
Zoey couldn’t help but watch the brothers and their reaction to the festivities. Even without the arrival of the guest of honor, she knew they were excited. Although Travis had handled most of the setup, they’d each had a hand in the gift that they were going to present to their mother. Even though they managed to give their father hell, she knew they’d have done it all over again if it meant their mother would be happy.
Zoey watched as the new arrival climbed out of her car, all pretty dark hair and long legs. Obviously, Braydon and Brendon had noticed her as well and surprisingly, they were both much too quiet. Unusual for the two of them, especially in the company of a pretty woman. Zoey watched the woman walk toward them, a guitar in one hand, her car keys in the other and a huge smile on her face. Definitely pretty.
“Hey,” Travis greeted the woman with the guitar.
“I’m so glad you came.”
“Anything for you,” the woman said jokingly.
To Zoey’s surprise, Ms. Montgomery didn’t sound at all flirtatious. She sounded as though she knew Travis and Zoey wondered from where. Considering this was Cheyenne Montgomery, world famous country music star, it was clear that Travis knew her personally. Otherwise, Zoey had no idea why she’d show up to this little shindig.
“Cheyenne, meet my brothers. Sawyer, Ethan, Kaleb, Brendon, Braydon, and Zane. And this is Zoey, she keeps Kaleb in line. And this here is Vanessa, we call her V. She’s solely responsible for Zane.” The group laughed and Zoey glanced back and forth between them all. Everyone shook Cheyenne’s hand, but the twins had yet to say even two words.
Once everyone was situated, including Cheyenne who was assisted by Sawyer because the twins didn’t seem to know what to do with themselves, the rope lights that encircled the tent were turned off and the night closed in on them. They didn’t need to hide because the lack of light in the country allowed for complete darkness to surround them. Not five minutes later, a pair of headlights headed toward them on the dirt driveway that led to the house. Everyone got quiet and Zoey held her breath as they waited patiently for Curtis and Lorrie to get out of the vehicle. Once they could see them turning toward the house, Travis flipped on the lights and even from where they were, Zoey could see the expression of wonder on Lorrie’s face.
Curtis took his wife’s hand, leading her toward the group and each of the boys greeted their mother with a hug and a kiss to the cheek. When it was Zoey’s turn to greet her, she couldn’t stop the tears from falling.
“Oh, honey. I’m so glad you’re here tonight,” Lorrie whispered as she pulled her in close. “No one can replace your sweet mama, but I’m honored that you are a part of my family.”
Zoey couldn’t speak, but she nodded her head, overwhelmed with the love she felt from this sweet, amazing woman. When Kaleb pulled her into his arms, she went quietly, soaking up his warmth as everyone got situated. A second later, the soft sound of a guitar drifted in the air around them and Lorrie turned in a circle as though trying to find where it was coming from.
“Oh, my word. Is that…?”
“Yes, Mama, it is,” Travis answered proudly as Lorrie moved over to the woman seated on the other side of the tent. The guitar silenced and murmurs ensued as Lorrie was introduced to the woman, apparently her favorite singer according to Sawyer.
A few minutes later, everyone was seated at the table after getting their food and although Cheyenne had tried to resist, she was also included, sitting right next to Lorrie. Food was eaten, conversation was flowing and above all else, love was felt as it enveloped the entire group. The love felt by this family was overwhelming in its intensity and Zoey knew without a doubt that Curtis and Lorrie were directly responsible for this beautiful family.
It didn’t take long for the boys to finish their meals and they continued to talk while the women finished, their patience for what was to come next obviously wearing thin. Zoey found it amusing how excited these grown men were about presenting their gift to their mother. These strong, masculine cowboys were putty in their mother’s hands and quite frankly, it was the sweetest thing Zoey had ever seen.
“Ready?” Travis asked a few minutes later after Lorrie pushed her plate away, still chatting away with Cheyenne.
“For what?” Lorrie asked, turning to look at Travis.
Zoey wondered whether the eldest Walker brother was going to give a speech the way he had at the fiftieth wedding anniversary party they’d attended just the year before. Interestingly enough, he didn’t. All heads turned to see Travis move across the room, retrieving something large that had been sitting discretely in the corner. Zoey smiled.
Without words, Travis moved closer to his mother, removing the cover that was hiding the gift. Travis didn’t even get to say anything before Lorrie’s tears began falling, a beaming smile on her beautiful face.
“Oh my,” Lorrie whispered. “It’s beautiful.”
There on a large canvas was a picture of all seven brothers, each wearing brilliant white button downs and cowboy hats, acres of land and a cluster of old oak trees backlit by crystal blue sky as the backdrop. Their images frozen in time for all to admire. Every single one of them with a smile on their handsome faces. A smile for their mother.
Zoey couldn’t help but admire the picture just as she had the first time she saw it, remembering that day and how effectively the photographer captured each of them brilliantly. Zoey knew there were more images, but this was the one the boys decided to gift their mother with. According to Curtis, she’d always wanted a picture of her boys together and this had been the perfect gift.
Lorrie’s tears continued to roll down her cheeks while each of the boys embraced her with Curtis close by. Zoey sent up a silent prayer for this amazing family. No matter what they encountered, they always had this love to fall back on and Zoey knew from experience just how it felt to be loved so unconditionally by her parents. Her mother might not be there physically, but she was in her heart just as she always would be. She was doubly blessed to have the opportunity to share the same sort of love with this family as well.
Zoey moved in closer, as did V, and both women hugged Lorrie in turn.
“Happy Mother’s Day,” V whispered.
“Thank you, honey. It’s a blessing to have all of you here with me. With the two of you here,” Lorrie smiled, tipping her head toward her and V, “it feels complete.”
V pulled away and Zoey moved in to hug Lorrie as well.
“And maybe one day soon, we’ll be celebrating this day for you as well.”
Zoey knew no one else heard Lorrie’s words, but she blushed anyway. She smiled to herself and her eyes met Kaleb’s behind Lorrie. He winked at her in return. Yep, hopefully one day soon she’d be sharing this day with Lorrie. Resisting the urge to touch her still flat stomach, Zoey’s heart fluttered in her chest.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Travis, Sawyer, Kaleb, Braydon, Brendon, Ethan, Zane, Zoey, and V