And sitting, hugging Juliet’s back, was their son, Hawke, now seven.
“I’ll call him today,” I told Jared. “The house needs to be prepared.”
Jax and Juliet had finally decided to settle back down in Shelburne Falls in Jared’s old house next door to ours. It had been almost nonstop travel and work for them with nonprofit organizations setting up schools all over the world for the past several years. Hawke didn’t slow them down, either. When he was one, they carried him in their backpacks. Now he sped ahead, carving out the trail before them.
However, they’d become more and more homesick and were determined for us all to raise our children together. Hawke loved his cousin Dylan and wanted to get to know Madoc’s boys more.
So they were coming home, and Fallon, Addie, and I were taking it upon ourselves to get the house ready, since it hadn’t been cleaned in forever and needed to get stocked with food. All I worried about now was keeping a good eye on Dylan trying to make use of the tree to go hang out with her cousin.
I wiped the sweat off my forehead and puffed out my shirt, trying to get air in.
“I can’t wait until he’s born.” I groaned, talking about our son. “I’m dying to get back on your bike. I miss the wind.”
Jared leaned down on his elbows, his eyes smirking at me. “Me, too,” he whispered. “We need a date night. And soon.”
I fanned myself harder, thinking about our last date night. Jared and I jumped each other any chance we got, but once in a while we made time for just the two of us to get out for the night away from the house. It usually ended with us in the backseat of his car.
Some things never changed.
The sliding glass door opened behind me again, and I heard Dylan. “Kade, do you want to go swimming?”
I turned around to see Madoc’s son walk off away from her. “Leave me alone,” he snarled. “I don’t hang with girls.”
Her eyes fell, and my heart broke a little. I was about to go to her, but Hunter—Madoc’s other son—came up behind her. “I’ll go swimming with you,” he offered.
She paused and then offered a little smile with a nod, taking one last look toward the hallway where Kade had disappeared before following Hunter back outside.
I knew Lucas was out there with them, so I didn’t worry.
I shook my head at Jared and breathed out a laugh. “You do realize that Hawke, Kade, Hunter, Dylan, and Quinn will all be in high school at the same time, right?” I said, foreseeing a very tumultuous future ahead of us. “For at least two years out of the four?” I reminded him.
Quinn was the oldest at eight. Hawke was a year behind her, and Dylan, Kade, and Hunter were only a year behind him.
“Relax.” He grabbed his jacket and slipped it on. “I don’t think anyone can get in as much trouble as we did.”
Looking at him, I mused about all the years of ups and downs and how much crap we’d both put each other through.
We got into so much trouble.
High school would’ve been more fun for me if I’d met Jared’s challenge sooner, but who knows? Maybe we wouldn’t be here otherwise. I wouldn’t trade any of it, because no matter what happened before or what would come next, I would always choose him.
Jared was my home.
My throat ached as I swallowed. “I’ll love you forever, Jared Trent,” I whispered, my eyes pooling with tears.
He reached out and ran a finger down the computer screen, and I knew he was tracing my face.
“And I’ve loved you forever, Tatum Trent.”