I sing in a low, off-key voice . . . until the sound of a lone giggle floats down the hall and under the door. Then it’s joined by another.
Until there’s a full-blown chorus of chuckles going on in the living room.
And Regan’s high-pitched voice informs me, “We can hear you singing One Direction!”
That’s when I remember . . . the fucking baby monitor. I shake my head and laugh at myself. Then I look down into my son’s dark, pensive gaze.
“We’re never going to live this one down. Ever.”
I’m working from home today—because if I’ve learned anything after raising kids, it’s the moment you let your guard down, the second you make plans that don’t revolve around them, they screw with you.
I’m at my desk, halfway through the final read-through of a motion for dismissal, when the door opens, and Chelsea pops her head in. She’s every bit as hot in her late forties as the day she opened that front door and literally took my breath away. I’m a lucky bastard.
I stand up, grab my jacket from the back of my chair, and follow her out. We stop in the den, where Robert and Vivian are stretched out on the couch, watching TV and feeding each other popcorn. They’ve been a couple since middle school—it’s not really that surprising since they were practically attached at the hip before they were even born.
I don’t know if they’ll be together for eternity, like they say they will. They’re young, and life is so very unpredictable. But I know they’ll be friends for the rest of their lives.
“Your mother and I are going to the hospital. Are you coming?”
My son takes after me in build and personality. He’s stubborn and rebellious, but there’s a playfulness to him that I never had—because his childhood was a hell of a lot different from my own. And I’ll never stop being grateful for that. He has his mother’s eyes and her steely but kind resilience. I’m grateful for that, too.
He shakes his dark head. “Nah, but call me after the baby’s born—we’ll come then.”
I take three steps toward the front door, stop, and turn around. “Don’t screw around while we’re out of the house.”
It might seem like an awkward thing to say to my kid—and it is. But I’m a realist, and believe it or not, so are teenagers.
Vivian grins mischievously. “Come on, Uncle Jake—would we do that?”
Vivian is the spitting image of her mother—tiny and pretty, with golden-brown eyes that glow with a soft inner light. But her personality is all her father. And I’ve known Brent Mason for thirty years.
“Yes. You would totally do that.”
She giggles and buries her face in my son’s shoulder. I point my finger at him. “But don’t. Seriously. Ronan’s on his way back from school—he can come home at any minute.”
Robert holds up a placating palm. “Relax, Dad. It’s all good. Tell Rory and Lori I said good luck.”
From the doorway, Chelsea says, “See you later, kids. There’s juice in the fridge.”
As we walk down the front steps, my brow furrows at my wife. “Juice? Did you just meet those two? We should be locking down the fucking liquor cabinet.”
She shrugs. “The real stuff is hidden in our closet; I replaced all the bottles in the cabinet with water months ago. If they’re in the mood for a cocktail, they’re going to be disappointed.”
She pokes my ribs. “This is not my first rodeo, Mr. Becker.”
At the hospital, Chelsea and I sit in the waiting room of the maternity floor, drinking bad coffee. Lori’s parents head down to the cafeteria, and about fifteen minutes after they go, Rory McQuaid comes barreling through the double doors, his expression tired but completely elated.
Chelsea squeaks, jumps up, and tackles her nephew. And my smile is so broad, my cheeks ache. After Chelsea eventually relinquishes her hold, I give a back-slapping bear hug of my own.
Rory smirks the same smirk that changed my life.
“She’s great. You guys can come back—they’re ready for visitors.”
We follow him into the cheery hospital room, where his wife reclines against a mountain of pillows. Lori grins when we walk in, her cheeks joyously round. She’s a high school teacher—and so gorgeous she must have to beat those teenage bastards off with a bat. Rory met her when she was a character witness for one of her students—who was also Rory’s client. It wasn’t love at first sight—but it was damn close.
Yeah, Rory is a criminal defense attorney at my firm. He’s sharp, committed, tough—and he has a partiality for defending juvenile cases. He’s not a partner; hasn’t gotten McQuaid added to the firm name just yet . . . but I have no doubt in a few years, he will.
Chelsea lifts the sleeping bundle of baby from the bassinet. She gazes down at him with so much love and sighs, “Oh, honey . . . he’s beautiful. He looks just like you, Rory.”
Lori teases, “We’re really hoping he takes after me personality-wise.”