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“Marriage and fatherhood look good on you.”
Caleb grinned at Kennedy and automatically dropped a kiss to the downy black fuzz of his infant son’s head where it emerged from the baby sling. “I didn’t know it was possible to be this happy. There’s a part of me that keeps expecting to wake up from a dream to find I’m still next door. Still waiting for my shot.”
Porter slapped his shoulder. “Got the girl and the family in one fell swoop. You’re living it now.”
Kennedy extracted her hair from Caroline’s chubby grip. “Just you wait, little brother. Pretty soon you’ll be waking up at all hours, wondering why the heck he won’t sleep, and you’ll be firmly aware of the reality you’re living in.”
“Oh, you never know. Micah might be a better sleeper,” Pru put in. “Bailey wasn’t bad so long as we kept her awake enough to really fill up on a feeding.”
Flynn’s laugh rang out. “Oh, darlin’, I do believe you’ve got some revisionist memory clouding that lovely head of yours. There were at least six months we didn’t get more than a couple hours of sleep at a time.”
“I meant after that. Once we figured out why she wasn’t sleeping.”
Emerson slid in beside Caleb, slipping her arm around his waist and pressing close. “I feel like we’re going to need a cheat sheet for how to do that. This one already shows signs of wanting to snuggle more than eat.” As if to prove it, Micah turned his little face into Caleb’s chest, blinking up at him with his mother’s eyes. Caleb thought his heart might just explode with love for them both.
This was his life now, discussing breastfeeding and childcare with his sisters and their spouses, as everyone milled around the back deck and yard, while burgers cooked on the grill and Mooch ran around with Athena’s boys, Jesse and Dylan. He loved every minute.
This cookout was the first big family visit since the baby was born. Emerson wasn’t yet up to long hours in the car, so everyone had come to them for the day, showering love and family and bringing enough food to fill the fridge and freezer for two months. His wife—that would never get old—who’d been so used to doing everything on her own, had cried with gratitude.
“Man, I’m taking notes,” Kyle said. “I don’t know the first thing about babies. Another six months doesn’t seem like enough time to learn.”
Abbey leaned in to kiss his cheek. “You’ve got the husband thing down pretty well. You’ll do fine.”
Kyle beamed at his wife. “You make that easy.”
So many years wasted there, but at least they’d finally found their way to where they should’ve been all along. Caleb supposed things usually had a way of working out in the end.
“You might miss the road when you get to diaper duty,” Xander laughed.
“Nah. The staff maybe,” Kyle conceded.
“Speaking of staff, has anybody heard from Griff now that he’s working with Wyatt on that big restoration job?” Porter asked.
“You mean you haven’t been watching the show?” Emerson asked.
Caleb rolled his eyes and laughed. “DIWyatt is now a watch party event in our house.”
Logan looked over from flipping burgers on the grill. “Are y’all that big into home improvement?”
“I mean, that’s fun,” Emerson conceded. “But we’re totally watching the sparks between Wyatt and Deanna.”
Kyle’s brows shot up. “Wyatt’s got a thing with my publicist?”
“Has to,” Fiona declared. “They’re electric on screen.”
“All those long looks when they think the other isn’t watching.” Ari clasped her hands over her heart and sighed. “And you know he wants to do whatever he can to bring that house back to glory, just for her.”
“It’s a hell of a house,” Kennedy said.
“It’s a money pit, is what it is,” Athena pointed out.
Porter shrugged. “Nobody buys a house like that unless it’s a labor of love.”
“You think they’ll actually pull off the transformation?” Kennedy wondered.
As Micah began to fuss, Emerson automatically reached for him, sliding him gently free of the sling and cuddling him close. “It’ll be a showplace if they do.”
“Speaking of, there’s a new episode that just dropped,” Fiona said. “Entertainment while you nurse.”
“I’m down for that. Logan, how are those burgers coming?”
“Five more minutes.”
It took more like fifteen for everybody to troop inside, grab a plate, and fix their dinner, but eventually Emerson settled in her rocker, the baby nursing under a blanket. The rest of the family sat, sprawled, or perched around the room as Fiona queued up the latest installment of DIWyatt.
The house was in that worse-before-better phase, but Caleb was starting to see some progress. A lot of the blight had been stripped away or ripped out, and there were signs that the restoration portion would soon begin. They sat through the updated tour and the one-on-one candid camera segments where Wyatt, Deanna, and other crew talked about one project or another.
Deanna was in the midst of one of these when Wyatt popped into the frame. “I want to show you something.”
She went brows up as he extended a hand to her. “Okay.”
Even Caleb couldn’t deny the chemistry as she reached out to take it. Across the room, Fiona and Ari stomped their feet and squealed.
The scene cut to another room. Caleb wasn’t sure which. There was no audio here, and the shot wasn’t as clean and dead-on as most of the other footage, as if someone had set this camera up, but it wasn’t quite ready to use yet. Certainly Wyatt and Deanna didn’t seem to know it was there.
Caleb wasn’t sure what he was looking at. Just the very edge of something wooden showed in the frame. But clearly, it meant a lot to Deanna. She covered her mouth with her hands, her eyes full of emotion as she stepped out of the shot, hands extended toward whatever the thing was.
“What is that?” Pru asked.
“A bed?” Kennedy suggested.
“A dresser maybe?” Porter offered.
As she came back into frame, her lips clearly forming a thank you, tears began sliding down her cheeks.
“Oh, hell. That can’t be good,” Xander said.
“Ten bucks he panics,” Kyle predicted.
“He’s not going to panic,” Emerson insisted.
And he didn’t. Faced with Deanna’s tears, Wyatt reached out and pulled her into a hug, wrapping around her as she spoke words they couldn’t hear and her shoulders shook. He tipped her face up, wiping away her tears with his thumb before dipping his head and kissing her.
Fi and Ari leapt up, fists pumping in the air. “Called it!”
So they had. It looked like the next of Joan’s boys was ready to fall.
I hope you enjoyed this last little glimpse of Caleb and Emerson and baby Micah! If you’re fresh off finishing Let It Be Me, you’re probably desperate to know exactly what it is that Kyle did. I suggest you head on over to Our Kind of Love post haste to find out! If you’ve already read Kyle and Abbey’s story and your interest is piqued by the glimpse you got here, feel free to jump ahead to Wyatt and Deanna’s book, Don’t You Wanna Stay.
Thanks for reading!