“Aubrey wants to leave when the kids release for winter break. I know you’re leaving early. I’ll wait until after Christmas.”
I shake my head. “Mack can spend Christmas with us. I think Noah would really like that. I know Paige would.”
“Are you sure, Liam? I know I have no right asking you to help us.”
He has every right. He raised my son for me.
“We’re family, Nick. As much as I hate it, my son looks at you as a dad. I’ll never ask him to stop.” I place my hand on Nick’s back. “Are you sure Mack is okay with missing Christmas with you, Aubrey, and Amelia?”
“He already knows his mom and sister are leaving and wouldn’t be here. I think spending the vacation with your family will be a good thing for my son.”
“Okay, then.” I tell him when we plan to leave and that I’ll make sure all Mack’s arrangements are handled so he doesn’t have one more thing to worry about. I also tell Nick to get the address of the place we’re staying from Josie so he can send Mack’s presents there.
We stay for another hour, not really talking about anything. I stick to my limit of three beers and end up driving Nick home. He could’ve driven, but the risk isn’t worth it. By the time I get home, my wife is curled up on the couch with a blanket over her legs, and our daughter is up in her room, hopefully asleep. However, I’m guessing she’s texting with Mack.
Josie smiles when she sees me and sets her book off to the side. I sit down and she puts her legs on my lap, making it easy for me to nestle into her neck. “I love you, JoJo.”
“I love you too. Is everything okay?”
I nod against her neck and place a few kisses there. Ever since I met Josie Preston, I have never loved another, and I can’t imagine not having her in my life. After a long moment, I finally sit up and look at my wife. She’s the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.
“Mack is coming with us.”
“Yeah, I know. I talked to Nick earlier.”
I shake my head and look deep into her eyes. “He’s spending Christmas with us.”
“Nick found me at the tower. He told me you called. We started talking, and he said that Aubrey is taking Amelia to South Africa. They’re moving at the end of the week.”
“What?” Josie chokes out.
“Nick said it’s been a long time coming. Aubrey wants to go home, but Mack is doing really well at BHS, and he doesn’t want to take him away from any opportunities. They’re not happy.” I pause to kiss Josie. When I pull away, I rub my hand through my hair. “Nick wants to make sure Amelia gets settled. He wants to check out the area Aubrey is moving to and asked if Mack could stay with us.”
“And you said yes?”
I nod. “Of course I did. I may not want an Ashford dating my daughter, but I’m man enough to put my issues aside. As much as I hate admitting this, Nick was there for Noah when I wasn’t. Nick needs some help, and he came to me which I’m sure it took a lot for him to do. I’m not going to be a jerk about things. Besides, if Noah ends up with us, he’ll want Mack there too.”
“And Paige will be happy.”
I groan and bury my face once again. “I need to lock her up.”
Josie pushes on my shoulder and slightly turns so she can look at me. “What if they’re soulmates? What if they’re just like us?”
“Then, I hope they communicate and don’t make the same mistakes I did.”
“Liam, we both made mistakes. We were eighteen. I thought I was doing what you wanted.”
“Which is exactly what I don’t want Paige or even Mack to do. If these two are meant to be together, they need to each follow their own path until they can forge one together. I don’t want Paige to give up a future to follow Mack or vice versa. And I definitely don’t want her to come home pregnant, without him by her side—still to this day, that haunts me. Learning what you went through because I couldn’t communicate my feelings to you—I’ll never forgive myself. I don’t want that for Paige or Mack. We’ve been there, JoJo.”
She cups my cheek with her hand. “You’re a good man, Liam Page. And a damn good father. I’m very proud of you right now.”
I smile and tilt my head enough to kiss her palm. “I’m still going to put the fear of God into that young man though, because he and Paige are about the same age when we started having sex. I’ll be six feet below the ground before he touches my baby.”
Josie laughs. “Ah, there’s my husband. I was wondering where he went.”
“He took a trip down memory lane, and do you want to know what he found?”