One of the joys of having a few days off is being able to spend it with friends and family, and that is exactly what I’m doing now. Ainsley and I rented a convertible and are driving up the California coastline, enjoying the serene beauty.
I look over at my soon-to be-wife, with the wind blowing in her hair and the sun shining down on her, and wonder how I got so lucky. Never in a million years did I expect to fall in love with anyone at my age. Yet here I am about to marry this woman and become a father. To say my life changed as soon as I became a Renegade would be a massive understatement.
Reaching for her hand, I bring it to my lips and kiss it softly. When she smiles, every part of me lights up with happiness.
“Would you ever want to live here?” I ask her over the road noise and the radio. She reaches forward to turn it down but keeps our hands together.
“I don’t know. I’ve always been an East Coast girl.”
“There’s no humidity here.”
“True, but your job is in Boston.”
“It doesn’t have to be,” I remind her. I’m still uneasy about Wes being her father and have talked to my agent about a potential trade. If one does happen, it’ll be after next season when I can have solid numbers under my belt. However, being selected to the All-Star Game was a serious boost to my career and definitely something that other teams could use to their advantage in negotiations.
“We’re a family, Cooper. We go wherever your career takes us.”
“And what if I decided to stop playing baseball?”
Ainsley lifts her sunglasses and rest them on her head and does the same to mine. “Without crashing the car, look me in the eye, and tell me that you want to quit baseball.”
I try to, but I can’t. Quitting baseball is the last thing I want, but I want her to know that the option is there.
“Besides, Twenty-Five, I happen to enjoy watching you in your uniform.”
I’ve had many nicknames throughout my years, but twenty-five is by far my favorite. She doesn’t call me it often, but when she does, it’s an instant hard-on for me. “Is that so?”
“Yeah, it is.”
“Does that mean you’re going to start coming to our games?”
“I am,” she says as she puts both our sunglasses back down. “And I’m going to be as big as a whale when I do it, so you may want to get me two seats. Better yet, a recliner would be nice.”
I laugh wondering what Ryan Stone would think if I put in a request for a recliner, then I remember his wife is pregnant, too.
“You know, I could always see if you can sit in the luxury suite with Hadley?”
Ainsley shakes her head. “Nah, I’d be too busy being a fan girl and comparing bellies. I’ll rough it with Daisy.”
I continue to hold her hand even after she falls asleep. It seems that her stomach has grown in size ever since we found out we’re having twins. The best part is that the babies are active, and when I talk to them, they like to kick. Ainsley says it doesn’t hurt, but I can’t imagine it feels all that great, either.
After the game, Ainsley told me about her run-in with my father and how Mike came to her rescue. I’ve thanked him, but it’s not enough, and I plan to make sure he knows how appreciative I am once we get to Disneyland.
I wake Ainsley when we pull into the hotel, which is located in Disney. When she told me that she had never been to Disney World, even after living in Florida her whole life, I knew we had to fix this.
“Holy Batman,” Shea yells as she gets out of Ethan’s car. “Unc, do you see this place?” The Davenports’ car pulls in behind us.
“I do, Shea, and I think everyone here now knows you’ve arrived.”
“Come on, Flower,” she says to Daisy, which is what Shea calls her aunt. “Mickey Mouse is waiting for me.”
As Ainsley and I get out of the car, Shea continues to prod anyone who might be willing to take her to Disney now as opposed to later. Our plan is to get dinner and be there in time for their nighttime parade before tackling the entire park tomorrow. If I had any reservations about hanging with the Davenports, those were squashed when Mrs. D accepted the both of us with open arms and handed Ainsley two blankets for the babies.
“I think I’m going to skip the parade,” Ainsley says after we check in. From the second I opened the hotel door to our suite, she’s been curled up in bed.
I crawl in next to her, pulling her back to my chest. “Are you feeling okay?”