A Forever Kind of Love(Kinds of Love Book 1)(8)

By: Krista Lakes

“This is Laura,” Carter told them as a young woman came out to stand next to him. She was probably only a couple of years younger than Mia. Her dark red hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and her green eyes sparkled as she smiled at the kids.

“Hi,” she greeted them. She stepped forward and made sure to shake each of their hands as if they were adults. It made Mia like her instantly since she treated her kids with respect.

“Laura will be your boss,” Carter informed them. “If she says jump, you just jump. Don't even ask how high. That's how in charge she is.”

“Yes, sir,” all three children replied like miniature soldiers. Grayson even did a pretend salute. Mia could only imagine he'd seen it done like that in a movie.

Laura chuckled and knelt down in front of Grayson.

“I have a little brother and sister about your age,” Laura told him. Her green eyes met his, and her face went serious. “If you're going to help me, I need to see your muscles.”

Grayson frowned, not understanding. He looked over at Mia, but Mia just shrugged.

“Like this,” Alexander explained, flexing his arm and showing his bicep. Grayson copied the movement and made a growling noise as he made his muscles bigger.

Laura reached over and felt the muscle. “Whoa! You might be too strong,” she said, looking impressed.

Grayson grinned at her and puffed his chest out with pride.

“Okay, then.” Laura stood up and put her hand on Grayson's shoulder to guide him toward the large barn. “Let's head into the stables and get started. We have a lot to do today.”

All three children willingly followed Laura through the large double doors. Mia hung back for a moment.

“Mr. Carter?” Mia approached him, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. Now that they were alone, she was suddenly nervous. She wasn't good with very attractive men and never knew how to behave around them.

“It's just Carter,” he told her with an easy smile.

“I just wanted to thank you again,” Mia said quickly. She smiled nervously. “Thank you for giving my boys another chance.”

“You're welcome.” He smiled again, easy and confident as he leaned toward her slightly. “Want to see what they're up to?”

“I'd love to.” She grinned and nodded as they started walking together toward the open barn doors.

“So, how did you get to be in charge of the trouble makers?” he asked as they approached the entrance.

“I'm their social worker,” Mia explained. “They were assigned to me.”

“You seem to care an awful lot for a social worker,” Carter remarked. He paused slightly by the door and held it open for her. She looked over at him. He had an open face and an honesty to his eyes that told Mia he didn't mean any harm by the comment.

“I do care a lot about them,” she said slowly, doing her best not to be defensive. She probably cared more than she should about them, but that wasn't something he needed to know. “They're good kids.”

“You say that a lot,” he replied.

Mia glared at him for a moment. “That's because it's true. They are.”

He nodded as they entered the barn.

The smell of horse and hay was stronger inside. The stalls were large and spacious with plenty of storage room off to the side. Mia didn't know much about horses, but she knew a stable like this had to be top of the line. It was nicer and certainly bigger than her apartment.

Inside, Grayson was already up to his elbows in soapy water leaning over what Mia assumed was a watering trough. He had on yellow gloves that were about six sizes too big, but with a grin to match as he scrubbed. Alexander and Lily were in one of the stalls, both with shovels. Despite the smell coming from that particular stall, they both were laughing.

“Make sure to get all of it,” Laura advised, standing off to the side and observing.

Mia leaned against the door frame and watched her kids. They were happy, and it made her heart swell. This was going to be good for them. All of them. They wanted so badly to please, and here, they could really feel useful.

“They look like they're going to do a good job,” Carter said, watching the kids work under Laura's watchful eyes.