In a way we defied logic as the closeness we shared over the last day made it seem as if our years apart were minuscule. Although we still were strangers in some regards, we looked forward to getting to know each other all over again. We both still loved one another and really, nothing else mattered.
Oh, and we had a kid together. A cute, wonderful, spunky kid I couldn’t wait to get to know as well.
We talked about a plan for us before heading to the main house. Rea put on a pair of tight shorts to thrill me for the day and I sighed thinking we really need to get a place together soon. But first, my stomach grumbled with the need for Chelsea’s cooking. What I wouldn’t pay to utilize her as my personal chef. Cooking for myself never interested me but now with a family to look after, I might just make it my new hobby.
By the time we entered the kitchen two lone plates sat on the kitchen island appearing as if they had been there awhile. By my wrinkled clothing, they obviously knew I spent the night and neither of them batted an eye when I walked in behind Rea.
Lena and the rest of the kids were seated around the long dining table coloring in coloring books and talking to each other about the movie they watched last night. When my daughter saw me standing inside the door her little eyes lit up, and she ran to hug me. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world. “Good morning momma and poppa P.”
Turning to hug her mother, I watch Rea’s eyebrows raise, “Poppa P?”
Lena returned to her place at the table as I just shrugged. “I let her decide what to call me.”
Rea rubbed her finger on her forehead, another telltale sign she was thinking almost the same as when Lena turned her head. After a second’s thought, she snapped her finger and narrowed her eyes at me, “Poppa Pirate?”
I raised my hands in front of me, “It was her idea. I just let her get away with it.”
She tried to keep the stern look on her face but it morphed into a small smirk making me realize I wasn’t necessarily in trouble. “She already has you under her spell, doesn’t she?”
I shied away from her and went over to the coffee maker by Chelsea. “She might.”
Chelsea laughed, “Well that didn’t take long.”
Nodding to Brandt for help, I asked, “You’ve got two daughters, maybe I should take lessons from you on that.”
He shook his head vehemently, “No use. My daughters can talk me into anything. There isn’t much you can learn from me in that regard.”
Chelsea nodded in agreement and we all laughed. “Well, it is about time you two came out of the pool house. Your food is already cold. Here let me reheat that for you.”
I felt bad Chelsea went through all the trouble to make such a nice breakfast and now it was cold. “Sorry. You should have come and got us. We’ve been up for a couple of hours.”
Rea reached behind me for a coffee cup in the cabinet to my back giving me a knowing wink. From the dining table, we heard Lena, “See Uncle Brandt I told you.”
Confused, I looked at him and he shrugged. Lena’s little pouty lip pushed out as she sighed in frustration talking to no one in particular. “I came in to get you Momma and you kept telling me you were coming. You said it like five times.”
Silence so deafening engulfed us to the point you could hear the crayons scrape against the paper with ease.
My eyes lit up when the bombshell dropped. Rea’s face flushed red as she buried her head in my shoulder shielding her embarrassment. Brandt and Chelsea both stifled a laugh and when I looked at Brandt he smirked, “Sorry man. I sent her to get Rea before I saw your car still outside.”
I groaned, “Ah maybe you can teach me how to be more covert when you have a kid in the house.”
He roared his laughter glancing in Chelsea’s direction, “Yeah, but you’re not going to get much Intel from me. Try having four nosy kids. I had more privacy on the tour bus.” Chelsea blushed and Rea shook her head slowly back and forth still with her face firmly planted into my shoulder.
After we ate breakfast, Rea stayed back to help Chelsea with the kids, and I went to retrieve my phone from the pool house before leaving. Brandt sat on the lounge chairs of the deck watching the tide. He beckoned me over while I joined him enjoying the cooler air of the day before the heat was set to hit again.
“Sorry to do this to you Logan but I need to know.” His face grew serious making me nervous. “You still aren’t planning on treating my baby sister as a revenge fuck, now are you?” Brandt’s blue eyes pierced my own. His jaw locked not giving away any emotion and I could tell how determined he was to look after his sibling.
Looking him square in the eye I eradicated his fears, “There is no way I could ever hurt your sister. I love her. To be completely honest, I have loved her for the past seven years, and now that she is back in my life I will do whatever it takes to keep her.” When my gaze didn’t falter, he nodded believing my answer.
“So, what are your intentions with my sister.” I laughed at his sheltering way of handling things.
“You were always so overprotective of her.”
He agreed, “Her and the rest of my girls. That includes Lena and I don’t want either of them hurt.”
Turning to the sound of the crashing waves in front of me, I was glad he was there to look over them when I couldn’t be. “And I want to thank you for that. It couldn’t have been easy raising a daughter by herself and I’m glad you were around for both of them. But I’m here now. They are my family and I’ll be taking over.”
“I’m not sure if I can give it up. I love those two.” Brandt replied honestly.
“Not as much as I do.” Brandt smiled and conceded hearing the conviction in my voice.
“What are your plans if you don’t mind me asking? They are set to fly back to New Hampshire today,” he inquired.
“We changed flights to later and made the reservations for three. I already talked to Louis and I can work from there for the next couple of weeks while Lena finishes school. I think it is time I get to know your parents a little better. Besides, there is a certain question I want to ask your father.”
Brandt shot me a knowing smile and turned to shake my hand, “Hey really? I mean that is great. I wouldn’t want anyone else for her.”
I laughed, “Thanks, that means a lot to me knowing that you approve.”
“What happens after next week?” I was still reeling from his total acceptance of me into his family.
“Well, your dad got an offer to sell the business and Rea was trying to talk him out of it. I don’t think she’ll advocate for him to turn down the offer anymore. I want her back here with me. There is no way she will be living anywhere but in my house. Well, when I get one. My apartment is going to be cramped for a little while, but we’ll make do.”
Brandt’s smile widened, “Why don’t you stay in the pool house while you are looking for a place to live. You never know what you will find in the housing market and the whole family would love to have you all here.”
“Hey thanks. I might just take you up on the offer. I want a big house. One with lots of bedrooms.”
“Does it mean there will be more little Stennets running around?”
“Yep, except they will be Halversons by that time.”
“Well, take your time. It would work out great if you could be here for a little while.” The way he said it made me think there was an ulterior motive.
“Are the rumors true? Are you going back on tour?”
He looked grim but nodded, “Yeah. Chelsea and I discussed it but the kids don’t know yet. The new album will be released soon, and we need to tour to promote it. It will be strange touring again for the first time in seven years. I would love to take them all with me but the road is no place for kids. They will come and visit at times. Like when I am close to the Midwest so they can stay at the Moltke’s side but really, I am torn. I will miss them something fierce.” He looked it too. This decision weighed heavily on him.
“Well, I’ll be here. It could take months to find a house.”
He gave a little grin, “Thanks man. I’d feel better if you guys were close to help with the kids while I’m gone. And Chelsea would feel a hell of a lot safer with you coming around.” It was heartfelt. He was letting me protect his family while he was away. His trust in me was sincere and I felt honored.
Going down to the pool house I sized it up to see what items I could bring from my apartment when the door opened. Rea smiled at me as she asked, “Hey, I thought you were leaving. Don’t you need to pack?”
I nodded my head, “Yeah I just had a quick talk with Brandt. He wants us to stay here while we are looking for a house. He is leaving on tour and likes the idea of us helping with the kids.”
She looked at me unconvinced, “Us? Or rather he likes the fact he has a military professional watching over his family.”
Shrugging I declined, “Ex-military. I haven’t been in the army in almost two years.”
Laughing, she wrapped her arms around my neck. “Logan, you have been keeping his family safe for years. Funny how you never saw it that way?” She kissed me on the lips and walked into the bathroom while I stood pondering what she said.
I always looked at myself as a gofer. A person to be told what to do but in the end, I was more like Rea than what I thought. The guys never took me seriously because I didn’t take myself seriously. I felt I had to leave to find out what I wanted in life and in all reality, my life was with them. Most certainly the black-haired vixen who consumed my every thought.
I flew across the country to be a hero when I was already a hero in her eyes.
Rea always looked up to me. She always made me feel like a hero to her, but I never saw it. I smiled and sighed thinking I could have avoided this all along had I just had the forethought to talk to her. At least I was certain, I was never letting her go from now on.
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