Page 24

 Emma Chase

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She pokes my ribs. “This is not my first rodeo, Mr. Becker.”
At the hospital, Chelsea and I sit in the waiting room of the maternity floor, drinking bad coffee. Lori’s parents head down to the cafeteria, and about fifteen minutes after they go, Rory McQuaid comes barreling through the double doors, his expression tired but completely elated.
“It’s a boy!”
Chelsea squeaks, jumps up, and tackles her nephew. And my smile is so broad, my cheeks ache. After Chelsea eventually relinquishes her hold, I give a back-slapping bear hug of my own.
“I’m proud of you, kid.”
Rory smirks the same smirk that changed my life.
“Thanks. I’m pretty proud of me, too.”
“How’s Lori?” Chelsea asks.
“She’s great. You guys can come back—they’re ready for visitors.”
We follow him into the cheery hospital room, where his wife reclines against a mountain of pillows. Lori grins when we walk in, her cheeks joyously round. She’s a high school teacher—and so gorgeous she must have to beat those teenage bastards off with a bat. Rory met her when she was a character witness for one of her students—who was also Rory’s client. It wasn’t love at first sight—but it was damn close.
Yeah, Rory is a criminal defense attorney at my firm. He’s sharp, committed, tough—and he has a partiality for defending juvenile cases. He’s not a partner; hasn’t gotten McQuaid added to the firm name just yet . . . but I have no doubt in a few years, he will.
I kiss Lori’s cheek. “Congratulations, sweetheart.”
“Thanks, Jake.”
Chelsea lifts the sleeping bundle of baby from the bassinet. She gazes down at him with so much love and sighs, “Oh, honey . . . he’s beautiful. He looks just like you, Rory.”
Lori teases, “We’re really hoping he takes after me personality-wise.”
I tap Rory’s shoulder. “Karma’s a bitch.”
He nods, chuckling.
I stand next to Chelsea and look at the baby in her arms. Smooth skin, long dark lashes, fucking adorable little face. Now this—this is love at first sight.
“Hi, baby,” Chelsea coos. “I’m your grandma.”
Gran-MILF is what I like to call her. Weird . . . but so true.
“Do you have a name for him yet?” she asks.
Lori glances at Rory—a special, secret kind of look. “We do. We’ve had it for a while now. Rory picked it and I thought it was perfect.”
When they don’t say anything else, I ask, “Are you gonna tell us or do we have to guess?”
Rory looks up into my eyes. And says quietly, “Becker. My son’s name is Becker McQuaid.”
I stare back at him, until my eyes start to burn. And I just know Chelsea is tearing up next to me. I look down at the baby again, through a blurry gaze.
Then I walk up to Rory, clearing my throat. “You’re gonna make me cry, you little shit.”
His mouth quirks. “That was my evil plan all along, old man.”
I hug him. Hold him tight—because I’m honored.
“Thank you, Rory.”
He hugs me back and says against my ear, “Thank you, Jake. For everything.”
A few minutes later, Lori’s parents come in—then Regan and Ronan show up, bickering about the route Ronan drove to get them here. Not long after that, the whole brood descends, to welcome our newest addition.
Are you wondering about the others? Where they are, how they turned out? Today’s your lucky day, because I’m going I’ll tell you.
Riley lives in LA. She started her own business—party planner to the stars. She’s not married, but she’s been living with the same guy for the last ten years. Considering I moved my ass in with her aunt before we were married, Chelsea and I had a whole lot of nothing to say about that. The guy’s . . . okay. I don’t hate him—wouldn’t say I like him, either. He makes Riley happy, so, at least for now, I won’t have to kill him.
I’d like to tell you that Raymond’s first crush dream came true—that he and Presley Sunshine Shaw dated, fell in love, and lived happily ever after. But they didn’t.
Turned out, four years—in teen years—was just too big of a hurdle to climb.
Presley became an attorney, like her father—and she married a lawyer, also like her dad. They live just over the Virginia state line, on a horse farm that reminds Stanton of his parents’ place in Mississippi.
Raymond ended up majoring in computer science—no surprise there. His last year of college, he did an internship with a bunch of other brainiacs in Silicon Valley. One of his fellow internshippers was a pretty little thing with dark hair and big brown eyes, who thinks Raymond hung the moon. She said he was the first man she ever met who was smarter than she was. I’m still getting used to the idea of someone referring to Raymond as a man—not sure when that happened. They’ve been married about two years now, and the only thing that gets them more charged up than a new iPhone is each other.
Rosaleen followed in the footsteps of her mother, Rachel. She married her college sweetheart and started having kids not long after. She’s got three little girls and counting. They’re bouncy, blond, and beautiful and remind me so much of her, it hurts. Her husband’s a well-paid campaign consultant and they live only a couple miles away in a house bigger than ours.
Regan is a speech therapist in Alexandria. She just finished her graduate degree and shares an apartment with her best friend from high school. She’s young and gorgeous and having a good time dating every guy she meets. She swears she’ll never settle down because she’ll never find a guy who can measure up to me.