“Is everything okay?” For a while, I’ve had sinking suspicion that something is going on. I don’t want to prod into my son’s life, but I also don’t want him to suffer in silence.
“It’s not what you think.” Noah adjusts a sleeping Oliver so that he can eat his muffin. I offer to take the baby, but Noah refuses. “Peyton and I are solid, and there isn’t anything wrong outside of our marriage or with us working together, although the guys do like to give me shit because my wife gets paid to tell me when I suck.”
“I’m sure she doesn’t use those words.”
Noah laughs. “No, she doesn’t. Even when Peyton’s delivering bad news, she does it in such a positive way we don’t realize she’s telling us we’re horrible,” Noah pauses and takes a bite of his food and washes it down with coffee. “I’m on edge, and maybe she is too, because of me, due to some things going on with the guys. Julius’s wife wants a divorce and plans to take the kids back to Los Angeles, and Alex and his girlfriend broke up, which is messing with his head a bit.”
“You can’t shoulder everyone’s burden,” I tell him. “Your dad used to do that. He’d worry about Harrison or Jimmy, and then he’d start to second-guess himself. He feels like their happiness is his responsibility.”
“Yeah, I get it. Speaking of—” Noah looks at with his eyebrow cocked. “Nick and Aubrey?”
I nod slowly. “I didn’t see that one coming. Did you?”
“Definitely not. A little heads up would’ve been nice though. When I came down the escalator at the airport, I saw Peyton and then Mack. He was in my arms, crying before I could even move out of the way from the people behind me.”
“Nick wanted to tell you. It must’ve slipped his mind.”
“So, what’s the story? Mack only said that his mom is leaving.”
“Your dad knows more than I do, but the gist is, Aubrey wants to go back to South Africa and wants to take the kids but agreed to let Mack stay in Beaumont.”
“Wow,” Noah says with a shake of his head. “And then this guy.” He looks down at Ollie and smiles. “Peyton talked a mile a minute on the drive back on how excited she was for her parents and how it all seemed so perfect to welcome him into the family.”
I watch my son with Oliver for a long moment and wonder if I should ask him about what’s on my mind. Noah glances up and looks at me oddly.
“What?” he asks.
I shrug. “Just wondering.”
He shakes his head slowly. “I know it’s on your mind and Katelyn’s too, and it’s not that we don’t want to have children. We do. We’re not careful at all, but it just hasn’t happened. If it does, great. If not . . . well, I don’t know. We haven’t really explored other options, but the doctors have warned us that Peyton may not be able to get pregnant because of the accident. She has a considerable amount of scaring.”
My hand covers my mouth. I should’ve known there might be issues from the car accident. I think deep down I had hoped that things would’ve just been back to normal for Peyton over time. I didn’t want to think she and Noah wouldn’t be able to have children.
“Well,” I start to say before I become choked up. “When the time is right for the both of you, it’ll happen. Just know, you have a family around you for support, no matter what happens.”
“Thanks, Mom.” He looks down at Oliver and says, “Have you and Dad thought about adding to the family?”
I blanch. “Oh, no. Not gonna happen. Your sister is a handful, and I feel that once she graduates, your dad will suggest we move to California. I get the feeling he wants to be there and really focus on keeping the band relevant. Besides, I’m ready to be a grandma.”
Noah laughs. “But is Liam Page ready to be a grandfather?”
Now it’s my turn to chuckle. “I think there are days when yes he is. But then Betty Paige says something off the wall and scary, and he’s reminded that he has a teenager at home.”
“Mostly about Mack and how much she loves him and so forth. She’s been very vocal about her feelings, which I’ve encouraged. Your father squirms though. He remembers what he was like at Mack’s age and doesn’t want to think . . . well you don’t need the details of your parents earlier years.”
Noah smirks. “You’re right.”
Oliver starts to fuss, and I instantly get up, but Noah stands and starts walking around the room with him. It takes a few minutes, but Ollie quiets down and snuggles into Noah’s neck. My son is a natural with Oliver and is going to make an amazing father someday.
Noah, Oliver, and I spend the rest of the morning and into the afternoon sitting by the fire and playing board games. It’s well after lunch when the front door opens, and multiple voices carry through the entryway. I get up and greet everyone and try to listen to what they have to say, but it’s near impossible.
“I take it you had a good time,” I say as Liam stops in front of me. He buries his cold face into the crook of my neck, making me squeal. I slap his chest and push him away. “You’re freezing. Go sit by the fire.”
Liam laughs and starts telling me about the ride, although I can’t really keep up because multiple conversations are going on simultaneously.
“Where’s Oliver?” Katelyn asks when she comes into the room. Her nose and cheeks are rosy red.