Thursday: October 26, 2028
4:37 PM; CLINSTONE, THE MASON HOUSEHOLD, DINING ROOM
“Gentle, Char,” Jacob reminded as Charlotte darted around him.
Elijah glanced over at his father before lifting his eyes back to Bo’s face. “Why do you stand the way you stand?” he asked.
Bo hiked Pollux up on his hip, tilting his head in the Mason boy’s direction. “Which way?”
“Like this.” Elijah tucked his hands behind his back.
“It’s just the most comfortable for me.”
“It hurts my shoulders.”
“Yeah, it kind of does that sometimes,” Bo agreed with a nod. “But it gives my hands a place to be. No unneeded fidgeting or movements.”
Elijah shrugged. “Curiosity,” he said. Bo snorted.
“Child, my God,” Alice muttered as she walked into the dining room, a cake plate in her hands. “Remind me why we’re loading her up with more sugar when she’s already packed with energy?”
“ ‘Cause the extra sugar tires her out,” Jacob said.
“Nothing tires her out,” Alice corrected. Jacob only chuckled. Jensen walked into the dining room, setting a second cake plate on the table. Castor trailed happily behind him, his blue puppy held to his chest. Jensen reached down and scooped up the toddler, pushing up the boy’s glasses as soon as Castor was settled on his hip.
Jacob held a lighter out in Alice’s direction. “Here you go, Momma.”
Alice snorted, snagging the lighter from his grasp. She lit the candles on both cakes—eighteen in all, nine on each—and set the lighter down on the table. “All right, darlings. Time to sit so you can hide your faces in shame.”
Jacob laughed. “The singing isn’t that embarrassing.”
“Daddy, no one likes the birthday song,” Katie said beside her father.
“I’m cool with skipping it and going straight for the cake.”
“Me, too!” Charlotte agreed.
“Dear Lord,” Alice muttered. “Make a wish and blow out the candles, baby,” she agreed, hooking an arm through one of Jacob’s. Charlotte sat on her knees on her chair, closing her eyes for a moment before blowing out her candles. Elijah did the same for his own.
Alice smiled faintly, pulling away from Jacob. She reached between her eldest set of twins and grabbed the knife from the table. She held it out to her husband. “Here you go, Dad.” Once he took the knife, Alice bent down and picked up Eve, who carefully wrapped both arms around her mother’s neck. Noah stood much closer to Katie, two fingers wrapped around two of hers.
Jacob pushed himself away from the wall, moving to stand between the twins. “Which piece do you want?”
“This one,” Charlotte said.
“Middle. Of course.”
“I’ll take an end piece, Daddy,” Elijah said, tilting his head back to look at his father.
Jacob smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “See? That’s why I never call you the difficult one.”
While most children would be nearly offended at the comment, Charlotte grinned. She was the difficult one, and she was damn proud of it.
11:02 PM; CLINSTONE, THE MASON HOUSEHOLD, FRONT DECK
Bo and Jacob sat on the stairs, staring off into the nothingness of the night. It was warm that night, something that left Bo in his usual flannel and beanie and Jacob in a t-shirt.
“I’m getting old,” Jacob said, setting his beer down beside him.
“You’re not old.”
The lieutenant chuckled. “Katie’s graduating high school in May, the two dorks just turned nine, and my other two dorks are gonna be four next month. It’s fucking crazy.” He cleared his throat. “Allie’s gonna be fifty-one next year. How’s that for perspective?”
“I don’t know, Jake. You’re growing old with the family you always wanted. It really doesn’t get much better than that,” Bo said.
Jacob smiled softly. “Yeah, I know.” He look back over his shoulder as the front door opened. “Hey, babe.”
“Hi. Whatcha gossiping about?” Alice asked, stepping outside and closing the door behind her.
“Oh, you know, the usual. Girls and their cooties and which boys are the cutest,” Jacob said. Bo snorted.
Alice laughed, laying a hand on Jacob’s shoulder as she sat down beside him. She pressed a kiss to his cheek. “The kids are all finally asleep. Noah’s in our bed.”
“I’ll move him after I shower,” Jacob said. He grabbed his beer and wrapped an arm around Alice’s shoulders. “When do you take over for Pitman?”
“January 2030,” Bo said. The lieutenant nodded. “Nothing’s going to change, Jake. I’m still going to be me.”
“Yeah, I know. But I still gotta worry about you,” Jacob said. He turned, pressing a kiss to the top of Alice’s head.
“It’s appreciated,” Bo assured. He reached out and patted Jacob’s leg. “Thank you for always caring.”
Jacob smiled faintly. “You betcha, Blondie.”
Enjoying the story? Consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!
Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi!