Sitting in the rocking chair, I hold both girls on my lap as I read them their favorite bedtime story. Their heads are tucked under my neck, and when I finish the book, I press kisses to their heads and shut the book.
“Okay, sweet girls. It’s bedtime.”
Holding them tight, I lift them up, and Emily holds her hand to my mouth.
At first I’m not sure what she says, but looking down, I find Grace asleep in my arms, Emily trying to shush me. I set her on her feet, and she goes racing past me in her princess nightgown to her brand-new toddler bed. Laying Grace in her matching bed, I pull the safety rail up and press a soft kiss to her forehead, tucking her elephant in next to her.
Moving around the bed, I help Emily get under the blankets, handing over her hippo. Kissing her stuffed animal on the cheek, she burrows under the blankets, and I kiss her forehead.
“Good night, baby. I love you.”
Making sure to switch on their nightlight, I leave the room, pulling the door closed behind me. Striding down the hallway, I peek into our bedroom looking for my wife, but she’s not in there. Making my way out to the living room, I find her sitting on the couch, a cup of tea in her hands. When she hears me enter the room, she turns to look at me over her shoulder.
“They go down okay?”
“Yeah, Gracie fell asleep during story time, and Em went down fine. I think they’re wiped out from all the excitement of today.”
Plopping down next to her, I settle my hand on her flat stomach, unable to believe another baby is in there. Stella rests her hand over mine and takes a sip of her drink.
“You ready for bed too, Stell?”
She shakes her head. “No, I’d like to sit here and enjoy the quiet with my husband, if that’s okay.”
Kicking my feet up on the coffee table, I lean back into the cushions and close my eyes, glad that today was such a good day but relieved it’s over.
“Do you want to wait to tell everyone?” I ask.
She rests her head on my shoulder. “Yeah. Your mom’s birthday is next month. I figure we can surprise them then.”
“Sounds good. Have you been feeling okay?”
She nods. “Yeah, I’ve been fine. No morning sickness, so hopefully it’s a sign that we aren’t having another set of twins.”
“Don’t even joke about that.” I laugh, my hair wanting to turn gray at even the thought. I love my girls, and I can’t wait for another baby, but two sets of twins?
They’d run us into the ground.
“I have an ultrasound scheduled for next week. You’ll be there, right?”
Moving around, I look into my wife’s beautiful brown eyes, giving her a sincere smile before reaching out to cup her cheek.
“Three years later and you still don’t know that I’d go anywhere for you.”
Giving me a smirk, she reaches up for a kiss, and I inhale the sweet scent of her shampoo.
“I love you, Jace Miller.”
“I love you more, Stella Miller.”
She finishes her tea a little while later, and we go to bed together, walking through the house hand in hand. She stops to check in on our birthday girls, then comes into the bedroom, telling me they’re both sound asleep.
Stripping out of my clothes, I stride to the bathroom in just my boxer briefs to brush my teeth, walking back into the bedroom minutes later. Stella goes into the bathroom and I pull the blankets back, climbing in. She joins me a few minutes later and settles herself on my chest.
Pressing my lips to her forehead, I brush her hair off her face. It doesn’t take long before we both fall asleep, today being the best day we’ve ever had, in more ways than one.
Seven months later, our family is complete when Ava Gabrielle Miller comes into this world, all six pounds, fifteen ounces of her. A full head of dark hair, blue eyes, and already wrapped around her daddy’s finger. Grabbing the camera Stella bought me those years before, I snap a photo much like I did when the twins were born.
Stella holding all three of them on her lap, Emily and Grace in complete awe of their baby sister. The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life is them all together.
And all because of a country bar in Nashville that my brother made me go to.
A leap of faith.
And without knowing it, my life was forever changed for the second time.
The first time, I lost two of the most important people in my life. I was young and scared, and from the second I became a police officer, I knew I had to spend the rest of my life protecting people, helping them.
Now I get to spend the rest of my life loving and cherishing my family.
I wouldn’t have any of them if I hadn’t gone down the path I did, and while every day hurts not having Bryan and Casey by my side, sharing in this life, I have to believe that finding justice for them is the reason I have all of this. They had a hand in making me the person I am today.
A father. A husband.
And the happiest man in the world.
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