Page 9

 Emma Chase

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“Why is your wife’s pregnancy the second coming but Chelsea’s screws me over?”
It’s not that I really care, but his thought process is usually entertaining.
“Because I don’t have six starters already sitting on the bench. I mean, damn, Riley’s a senior so she has half a foot out the door—and you’re already replacing her.” He holds up an open hand. “That being said, if anyone should have dozens and dozens of kids—”
“I think we’ll stop at seven,” I interrupt.
“—it’s you and Chelsea. Congratulations, big guy.”
“Thank you.”
“When is Chelsea due?” Sofia asks.
“She’ll be twelve weeks on Sunday. Due date’s in June.”
“They might end up sharing a birthday,” Brent comments. “Maybe, after they’re born, we should set them up. If they get married we’d be related.”
“They might be the same sex, genius.”
He shrugs. “That’s legal now.”
“Yeah,” I snort, “and there’s nothing creepy about an arranged marriage.”
Brent holds up his hands. “All I’m saying is if we had listened to our parents, me and Kennedy would’ve been enjoying relationship bliss a long time ago.”
“If either of you needs a babysitter, Presley’s always looking to make extra cash when she’s up here,” Stanton volunteers.
Presley is Stanton’s seventeen-year-old daughter with his high school sweetheart, Jenny. She lives most of the year in Mississippi with her mother, stepfather, and two little brothers. Between those two and Samuel, Presley could practically run her own day care at this point.
“Oh, I’m so excited!” Sofia claps her hands. Then to her husband, she says, “It’s all happening just like we talked about.”
“Talked about?” I ask.
Stanton nods. “Sure. Samuel’s out of the baby stage and we’re not having any more . . . ”
Sofia finishes his sentence—because that’s how they roll.
“. . . so we’ve been waiting for you two to get on the ball so we can get our baby fix on . . .”
“. . . and then give ’em back,” Stanton drawls.
They both nod.
Sofia raises her glass. “To our next generation—may they be smart, talented, and beautiful, just like their parents.”
We all drink to that.
Now that I’ve let the cat out of the bag, it’s time Chelsea and I tell the kids.
This should be interesting.
The six of them sit around the table . . . looking guilty. Why? They remind me of inmates lined up in cell block B, hoping the COs don’t find the contraband taped under the toilet. My eyes narrow at each of them, and I wonder what it is I don’t know.
“So, we wanted to talk to you tonight because we have some exciting news,” Chelsea says, taking my hand on top of the table.
Interrogations will have to wait for another time.
“Are we going on vacation to Aruba?” Riley asks, wide-eyed.
“No,” I tell her.
“Florida?” Rory tries.
“It’s not a vacation, guys,” Chelsea says, much to their disappointment.
“Are we getting another dog?” Regan hopes.
“No,” Chelsea and I say at exactly the same time.
“Guys—shut up and listen.” Raymond always was the helpful one.
Chelsea’s eyes dance from child to child, and you can almost feel their anticipation. “Jake and I are having a baby!”
At first, no one speaks. Or moves.
Then Raymond ventures, “Are you, like, adopting?”
“No, honey,” Chelsea answers. “I’m pregnant.”
Riley’s the first to pop up from her chair and hug us. “Congratulations, guys, that’s awesome.”
“I really wanted another dog,” Regan says, gravely disappointed.
Rosaleen leans forward. “Did you guys go to the doctor’s to get pregnant? Like Jackie Barbacoa’s two moms?”
“No . . .”
She thinks on that. While Rory wants more clarification.
“Then how did this happen?”
Chelsea glances at me, then shrugs at the kids. “The old-fashioned way.”
Rory’s hand goes to his stomach. “I’m gonna puke.”
That’s when they all start talking at once—except for Raymond, who sits back silently. Dazed.
“What’s the old-fashioned way?” Regan asks.
“Wow,” Rosaleen comments.
“No, I’m seriously gonna puke.”
“What’s old-fashioned mean?”
Ronan stands on his chair. “I’m not gonna be the littlest anymore? I get to be the boss of someone?”
“That’s right,” I tell him.
He pumps his fist. “Yes!” Then he starts marching around the table chanting, “I’m gonna be a boss, I’m gonna be a boss . . .”
While Rory sprints to the umbrella stand in the corner—gagging.
“Huhhh, huhhh . . .”
“Somebody tell me the old-fashioned way!” Regan yells.
And Rosaleen gets fed up. “It’s when the man and woman fall in love and the man puts his penis in the woman’s vagina and nine months later a baby comes out of it.”
Regan looks at me like I’m a monster.