“Next one is for Oliver. And the next. And we have one for Ezra. Again, for Oliver. And the final one is for Ezra.” Harrison looks at me and smiles. “Looks like your name is going to be Oliver Powell-James, little buddy.”
“Ollie for short,” Elle says.
“Ollie . . . I like it,” I add. “Welcome to your family, Ollie.”
We spend the next hour or so passing Oliver around and posing for our first family photo. The girls are bummed they can’t post our picture on social media but understand the rules. When it’s time to leave, Quinn is the one who picks up Ollie’s carrier.
“Your dad can carry him,” I say as I run my fingers over his shaggy hair.
“I know, but I want to.”
“Are you okay with all of this?”
He nods and pulls me into a one-armed hug. “I think this is amazing. This little guy has no idea how lucky he is. The girls and I had the best life growing up, and Oliver is going to be so loved.”
“You’re going to the best big brother, Quinn. And when the time is right, the best father.”
Quinn chuckles and rolls his eyes. “Do we have Ollie because you’re ready to be a grandma?” His eyebrow goes up in question.
I shake my head. “Not at all. From the moment I held him and heard his story, I knew he was put in my life for a reason. Even if Nola, Elle, and Peyton come to me tomorrow and say they’re having babies, that would just make life even much better.”
“Okay, just wanted to check.” He winks at me, reminding me of his father. If Oliver turns out to be like my James men, his future spouse will be very lucky.
By the time we get to the hanger, Oliver is awake, and the girls are cooing up a storm. I’m almost jealous that I have to share him with anyone. I was the same when the twins were born. My parents and in-laws wanted them all the time, and I never wanted to give them up. Of course, that changed when the cuteness of having newborns wore off, and I longed for a five-minute nap that didn’t include puke on my shirt or a pail of dirty diapers that needed to go out. I had Mason though, and as soon as he came home from work, he took his dad duty to the next level, which allowed me to be human for a bit. I’m confident Harrison is going to be the same type of dad to Oliver. I also have a feeling that Elle and Quinn will be over a lot. Maybe even Nola.
Harrison, Quinn, and the ground crew get the plane loaded, and by the time I’ve given up supervising my guys, I find that the twins and Nola have Oliver out of his carrier and are taking turns holding him. I don’t know how long I stand there, watching them. I have no doubt they’ll make amazing mothers when the time is right for them.
When Harrison’s arms slip around my waist, I lean into his chest. “Look at them.”
Quinn passes by us and heads to his sisters and the love of his life. The only one missing from the picture is Noah. Suddenly, my hand flies to my mouth in disbelief.
Slowly, I shake my head as hurt and anger pools within. “I completely forgot about Ajay in all of this. He should be here. My grandbabies should be here to meet their . . . well calling Oliver their uncle just seems weird to me.”
Harrison holds me tighter. “They went to North Carolina for the holidays, but I’ll text him and let him know that we’re somewhat close if he and Jamie want to come up after Christmas with the kids.”
“I’ll call Jamie later. I want to talk to Evelyn and let her know that Grandma and Grandpa didn’t forget about her and James.”
“I’m sure she knows.” Harrison takes my hand and leads me farther into the plane. The pilot speaks over the intercom and tells us we’re about to start our journey. I’m tempted to ask the girls to hand Oliver over to me, but I know my request will fall on deaf ears. At this point, I’ll be lucky if I get to hold my son again until we’re back in California. Something tells me Oliver is going to win over every female member of our family, the guys as well.
In all my life, I never thought I’d fly across the United States with a newborn. When Quinn was born, the band traveled via charter bus. Being on tour with an infant was never ideal, but I always thought it was better than being on a plane where the air pressure could hurt Quinn’s ears. When he was fussy, I’d walk around the bus with him. Again, not ideal, but it worked. Also, having JD and Liam on board helped. We took turns holding him, much like the way the twins, Nola and Quinn, are doing now with Oliver. I swear, every time I look over, Oliver is resting in someone else’s arms, and Katelyn is intently focused on the group. I have a feeling she wants the baby back in her arms, and honestly, I don’t blame her. I’d like to hold him too. I want to bond, even though, as foster parents, we shouldn’t. Oliver’s placement with us could be temporary. His mother or father could come back and say they want him, and we’d have to let him go. I’ve been down this road before with Quinn, and was so thankful when Alicia gave up her rights. Although, that really never stopped her from meddling in my life or trying to ruin Quinn’s. The thing is, knowing what I know—what Katelyn and I know—we’re willing to do it all over again to give Oliver a chance at a good life.
I must’ve lost track of time or stopped paying attention to everything around me but my children because when our pilot tells us, we’re starting our descent, I’m surprised by how quicky the flight went. And at some point, Katelyn had curled up with a throw blanket and fell asleep. Before the pilot reminds us to remain seated, I get up and make sure everyone has buckled up. It’s really a ploy to check on Oliver, even though I know he’s in good hands. I find him snuggled in his seat, asleep. But it’s his hands that bring a smile to my face. Both Peyton and Elle are holding onto his tiny little hands. This little boy has no idea how loved he is right now.
“You guys good?” I whisper to Quinn and Nola. She has her head on his shoulder, and looks up and nods at me. When I make it back to Katelyn, I slide in behind her and kiss her lightly on the space between her shoulder and neck. She hums in delight. “We’re about to land.”
Katelyn sits upright, stretches, and reaches for her seat belt. “Where’s Oliver?”
“He’s with the twins. It’s a picture-perfect moment. They’re all holding hands.”
In a flash, Katelyn throws the blanket off her lap, releases the lap belt, and makes her way to where the twins are seated. I never take my eyes off her and know I did the right thing by telling her when I see her hand cover her mouth. She comes back with me with tears in her eyes. “They’re perfect.”