“I’m Jimmy. The guys call me JD. You can call me either, I don’t mind, but you don’t have to call me sir. Does Liam make you call him that?”
Mack shakes his head. “No, si . . . JD. He’s told me before I can call him Liam, but my parents want me to call him Mr. Westbury. I think that’s odd though because Noah’s my brother and Liam’s his dad, so I call him sir.”
“You must be excited to see Noah tomorrow?”
Mack nods. “He can’t ski or snowboard though. Quinn said he’d go with me.”
“I’ll go too,” I tell him. “Turns out I quite like snowboarding.”
“It’s fun,” Mack says. He quiets as soon as Betty Paige enters the foyer. There is no mistaking the chemistry between them. If Liam doesn’t keep a watchful eye on these two, he’s going to become a grandpa sooner than he’s expecting. “Hey.” Mack’s voice has completely changed to a soft tone.
“Everyone’s going swimming,” Paige says as she points towards the pool. “Do you want to go?”
Mack doesn’t say anything for a bit but finally nods. It’s hard for me to say, but I think the poor guy looked Paige up and down before he could find the right words to reply. Yep, Liam is in for a world of trouble.
“Paige, give Mack and me a few, and we’ll meet you all at the pool.”
She smiles and walks away. I place my hand on Mack’s shoulder and give him a fair shake. “Don’t even think about it.”
“What?” he asks with wide, startled eyes.
“Her. You. Doing things to make Liam kill you.”
Mack hangs his head. “I’m thankful to be here, but she’s hard to be around sometimes.”
“It’s called hormones. You’ve got to get a control on them because the result of acting on them before you’re ready could end very badly.”
“Yeah, I told Mr. Westbury I’d respect his rules, and I will. She,” he pauses and points. “Makes it very hard.”
I make a mental note to say something to Jenna in the hope she’ll say something to Josie about the temptations of having both these kids living in their house. Maybe Josie will tell Paige she needs to take it down a notch or two before these teens find themselves in a situation they can’t get out of.
With my hand still on his shoulder, I signal for him to follow me. When we get to his room, I leave him there but before I go, I tell him if he needs to talk, I’d be happy to lend an ear and offer some advice. I leave out the part where I’m probably the last bloke he should ask for advice, especially considering I was having sex, drinking, and partying at his age. As a father of a teenager though, I’m pretty sure I can offer words of wisdom. At least, I hope I can.
When I wake, my hand reaches for Liam, only to remember he and most of the crew decided to rent snowmobiles the day before and planned to leave early in the morning. Elle found a brochure for a diner, out in the middle of nowhere and only accessible by sled, dubbed the best breakfast in New England. She jokingly suggested they go, and the guys jumped on the idea. With Noah having to stay back, I decided I would stay with him. Besides, sometimes a mom just needs a little time with her baby boy.
I find Noah sitting in one of the oversized chairs with a mug of coffee resting on the table next to him. The fire is roaring, emitting so much heat we can easily walk around in pajama shorts or a pair of thin fl
annel pants. He doesn’t hear me walking behind him, which tells me he’s deep in thought. The closer I get to him I can see why. He’s holding Ollie, who is awake and looking wide-eyed at Noah.
“Good morning.” I ruffle his hair, much like I’ve done his entire life. “I see you found a friend.”
“Morning,” he says. “I woke up with Peyton and found Katelyn out here. She looked like she wanted to go with everyone, so I volunteered us to watch Oliver. I hope you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind.” I smile softly at my son and then head into the kitchen to pour myself a cup of coffee and grab a muffin. “Do you want a muffin?” I holler out to Noah.
“Blueberry if there is one.”
I take two and set them each onto their own plate and into the microwave for thirty seconds. Once they’re done, I add a bit of butter, grab forks, and carry the small plates with one hand and my coffee in the other.
“I see all those years as a waitress are paying off,” he says as I head toward him. He reaches for a plate and fork and thanks me.
“You’re funny.” I sit down and curl my legs up underneath me and start picking at my breakfast. “I’m surprised Peyton went this morning.”
“It wasn’t without a lot of urging, that’s for sure.”