“He looks like an Ollie to me,” Peyton says. “And Oliver fits when you say all our names together.”
“Does he have a middle name?” I ask.
Katelyn shakes her head. “Oliver Powell-James is already a mouthful. No need to add any more. But he won’t officially be Oliver until the adoption. Right now, the state refers to him as Baby John Doe, but Harrison wanted to make sure we called him something else because Jimmy—”
“Do not tell Jimmy the baby has his initials. You’ll never hear the end of it,” I tell Katelyn.
“Exactly what Harrison said.”
Betty Paige and Mack walk into the room. I look for signs they were making out but see nothing. Mack sits on the floor in front of Peyton, and they start talking quietly. You can clearly see the adoration they have for each other. Paige sits next to Josie and eyes me warily.
“Um, Aunt Jenna, what’s in your arms?”
“A baby,” I tell her as I hold him up for her to see. Her eyes go wide.
“Who had a baby?”
“Well, I kind of did,” Katelyn says. “We are fostering until we can adopt him.”
Paige moves closer to me and gets a better look at Oliver. “What’s his name?”
“Oliver,” I tell her.
“Where’s his mom?”
“She can’t take care of him, so we’re going to,” Katelyn answers. I’m not sure how you explain to a teenager that someone abandoned their baby. I know the safe haven laws don’t call it abandonment, but it still feels that way to me, especially when I’ve wanted another baby for so long.
“It’s sad that his mom left him,” Mack chimes in. “But it’s good that you have him, Miss Katelyn. He’s a lucky boy.” It makes me wonder if his statement is some sort of reflection or jab at his mom for wanting to move out of the country.
“We’re the lucky ones,” Katelyn replies.
The door opens again, and this time it’s Eden. It takes her a few minutes to get her gear off, but she's in shock when she comes into the room until Paige fills her in. Within an instant of learning that the baby I’m holding is not staying with us, she’s next to me, making the most adorable sounds at Oliver.
“Peyton, don’t you want one?” her sister asks.
All eyes are on Peyton while we wait for the answer. I know everyone is excited for her and Noah to start a family, but I also respect why they haven’t. Peyton is young and just starting her career. I’m sure she wants to make a name for herself with the Pioneers before she goes out on maternity leave. Unlike Noah’s job, she doesn’t get an off-season because she works with management when it comes time to recruit. From what Katelyn has told me, Peyton is always watching game film of college kids, looking to see who might bring new life or fill a void in the team. Her job isn’t to just break down Noah’s game, but the whole team and make them better.
“We do when the time is right,” she says to everyone, mostly eyeing her mother and sister.
“Until then,” Josie says, “You can play with this cute little boy.” She reaches for him, and I reluctantly hand him over. I know I have to share, but I don’t want to. It’s selfish, I know. Maybe it is time for Jimmy and me to explore adoption.
Leave it to Harrison to change the dynamic of our lives. I don’t blame my mate for doing what his missus wants, to be honest I’d move heaven and earth to give Jenna everything she wanted, but a baby is another story. For whatever reason, we couldn’t have a second child. We tried a lot, which honestly is the best part, but there were a few miscarriages, a lot of tests, and a load of doctors saying there’s nothing wrong with either of us. Their answer was IVF, which basically means they take my swimmers in a cup and do what they have to do with them. But for Jenna, those drugs would’ve taken a toll on her both emotionally and physically. Even so, I would’ve held her hand, held her hair back when she was throwing up and given her the jabs. In the end, she decided not to go through with it. Jenna has always told me she’s happy with our life, just the three of us, but watching her tonight, I know she’s not being completely truthful with me.
My mates and I are hanging out in the kitchen with a clear view of the ladies as they go completely gaga over the newest member of our family. The house Josie rented for us is massive and is an open plan, which I’m not a fan of because I like walls. Walls mean I can hang our gold and platinum records, as well as our awards. They mean I can show off all the women in my life by displaying their photos, artwork, and the kindergart
en finger painting Eden did for me. It’s of our tour bus, with her standing in front, holding my hand. At least, that’s what she told me when she gave it to me before we left on tour years ago. Still, this house rivals anything I’ve seen. Jenna kept saying there was a hot tub, but that’s an understatement. There’s an indoor pool with a grotto and a way to go outside and enjoy the freshly falling snow with your missus. It’s romantic as hell, but more importantly, each of the bedrooms are far away from each other, so when the mood strikes, and, let’s be honest, it’s going to strike, we’ll all have privacy.
Eden, Betty Paige, and Mack walk into the kitchen. They’re raiding the fridge and talking with each other, not caring that their fathers are all within hearing distance of them. I eye them for a minute, amused by the fact that Mack is here. He’s my focus right now and how he moves around Paige. Liam must be shitting his pants right about now.
“I don’t get it,” I say as soon as the kids leave. “Aren’t you worried about Mack and Paige?”
Liam pales and tips the can of beer he has in his hand. It’s from a local brewer called 14th Star Brewing Co. and was recommended by the bartender at the lodge. He hooked me on their beer, Valor, and I went out earlier today and bought as much as I could of all their products. What I really like about them, aside from the taste, is that two friends who served in the war started the company after one came up with the idea on the battlefield.