All I Want
A Farmers’ Market Story #3
[Charlie Wainwright & Meg Carmichael]
This couldn’t be happening…not to him!
For Charlie Wainwright, the only way to live is according to plan. But a corporate layoff and one hot night with Meg Carmichael has thrown him off course. He doesn’t know how to handle the pretty goat farmer, much less the news that they made more than conversation that night.
Suddenly Meg is pregnant, and Charlie wants to do the right thing. Meg and all she’s hiding don’t belong in his world, and his suits and ties don’t belong on a farm. But a promise to do what’s best for the baby might show them what matters most…
Other Books In the Series:
CHARLIE WAINWRIGHT STOOD at the entrance to his brother’s vegetable barn, phone in hand, many, many curse words in his head.
He was about to send his third where are you? text in fifteen minutes but then saw Dell’s head appear, along with a much smaller, darker head leaning against his shoulder.
“You ask for my help and now you’re late? See if I help you again,” Charlie called, keeping the curse words in his head only for his niece’s benefit.
“Mia’s not feeling great. She was going to watch Lainey even so, but the terrible twos are alive and well.” Dell approached, and Charlie had to admit the guy looked exhausted.
“She isn’t two yet.”
“Close e-da…darn-nough.” Dell handed the little girl off to Charlie and then opened up the barn.
“Hey there, Sugar Snap,” Charlie greeted his niece. Maybe he said it quiet enough so Dell couldn’t hear, because maybe Lainey had climbed under every last tough-guy facade he’d ever had since the day she stopped spitting up breast milk.
“Chawie.” She slapped him on the face, her greeting of the moment.
“Lovely,” Charlie muttered, bouncing her till she giggled while Dell loaded up his market truck with vegetables for the day. “So, what’s Mia down with? Not flu season. Sure she’s not just sick of you?”
Dell grinned as he shoved the last pallets of vegetables onto his truck bed. “Nope. Not nearly sick of me.”
Charlie grimaced. His screwup younger brother’s happiness and business success over the past few years were a little salt on the wound right now. He could deal with being wifeless and childless, usually, but with the company he worked for being bought out and rumors that layoffs would happen next week, well, work and success were all Charlie had. The very real threat he could lose them was…terrifying.
But he wouldn’t lose. Couldn’t. Didn’t. He was the best man for the job, even if the company buyout meant cuts were coming. Most likely to people as high up as he was.
Not thinking about that today. Today was helping Dell at the farmers’ market. He’d worry about work at work.
Right, you’re so good at setting boundaries like that.
He flipped Lainey upside down and she screamed with delight. When he brought her back upright, Dell was grinning at him. “What?”
“Nothing. Just never expected you to be Mr. Doting Uncle. Good thing, though, as you’re going to be an uncle twice over soon enough.”
Charlie’s eyebrows shot up. Dell had been married for almost four years now, and his and Mia’s farm business was booming. It shouldn’t be a shock, but even with years to tell Charlie otherwise, he’d still been of the mind-set that he was better off than Dell.
Charlie had attended a challenging school, escaped their tiny farming community hometown. He was a vice president of National Accounts, the youngest one his company had ever had. He lived in an expensive apartment, drove a nice sports car and had a solid retirement plan. He had investments.
But for the first time, maybe because he knew his job and all that success he’d worked so hard for was on the line, he looked at Dell and realized his brother had come out on top.
“Blank stare all you got?”
“No.” Charlie forced himself to get over his own problems for a minute. “Man, congratulations. Really. Although Mia’s the one doing all the work. Don’t know why I should be congratulating you.” Gotta get a dig in, right?
“Same old Charlie,” Dell said, shaking his head as he took Lainey back into his arms. “I’m going to take her to Mom. You want to start up the truck and meet me out front?”
“Sure.” He took the keys Dell handed him. “Number two, huh?” Three years younger, many years wasted and Dell was way out in front.
“We haven’t told the folks yet, but God knows Mia’s blabbed to Cara and Anna, so it’s my turn. Cara’s pregnant too.”
“No sh—” At Dell’s finger-to-neck motion, Charlie changed where he was going. “No way.” Mia and her sister pregnant at the same time. Every person he knew who hadn’t made much of himself until long after him, happy and procreating.
Dell rolled his eyes. “She said the F-word the other day,” he grumbled, ruffling Lainey’s feather-fine hair. “Clear as you please. Right in the middle of the grocery store. Needless to say, I was not hailed as a hero that night.”
“Right,” Charlie said, feeling uncharacteristically tongue-tied. “Well.”
“Babies everywhere, man. Watch out. It’s in the air and it might be catching.” Dell slapped him on the shoulder before heading up toward their parents’ house.
Charlie climbed into Dell’s truck and turned the key in the ignition. The feeling weighing down his arms, twisting in his chest, it was all very new. Something he’d never experienced before, so it was hard to pinpoint, hard to label.
His career was being threatened. He had no wife, no serious girlfriend, no chance for kids anytime soon. He had things, but the intangibles, success and love and contentment…well, if he lost his job, they would all be missing.
His chest squeezed tighter, arms feeling heavier. He had a bad feeling it all meant one thing.
Charlie Wainwright was a failure. And that was something he’d never been.