Sensing she was being watched, she spotted the crowd over to the side. The rather large biker group that was there for the trio kids. She had been seeing them for a bit over a year. Watched how they interacted, argued with the refs at games, encouraged the kids with their activities. On the hotter days, brought an extra cooler of water for the other parents.
The group was still looking at the bleachers. Offering a smile to them, she turned back to her brother. The one that had always caught her eyes, usually had a baby in his hands. Some lucky lady had all the luck. Seeming more quiet than the others. At her guess, just shy of six-foot, he had a swag that just made her think, hmm yes baby, when she saw him. Which was twice a week.
Attention back on the field, she refocused her attentions where they needed to be. She was damaged goods and knew it. A small knock on the bleacher seat, she looked down at the man that should be in an eye-candy wall calendar. "Have a minute?"
A small nod, she jumped down. Cut off jean shorts-literally, spaghetti-strap shirt, she landed beside him. Walking a few paces from the others, "I'm Alex. Glorified Uncle to three of the terrors on the field and most the others in our group."
Smiling, "Raleigh. Sister to just one terror on the field."
Alex returned her smile. "Bobby, he's good. Been watching him for a while."
"He is. Did you need something? I noticed your family looking here a bit ago."
"Little guy in the yellow shirt. His enthusiasm. The mum-crowd thought it needed our attention for the cuteness overload." He wasn't going to mention that the kid was wearing the club's JD bracelet. A charm that the VP's wife put into the backpack for foster kids. Kids that needed supplies to make it through their first week of uncertainty when their reality and stability changed. "Been noticing you for a while. Well, you and Bobby, but never had the guts to come say hello."
"Hmm. What changed this time?"
"Honestly? Your smile. That and I usually have a munchkin attached to me that makes it a bit weird."
"So I've noticed."
"Took a notice huh." Alex smiled.
Oh be calm my heart, Raleigh thought. Returning his smile, "kind of hard not to. Your group is highly enthusiastic. Not to mention, eye catching." She nodded over to where Kent was waving his foam finger to the kids. "The grandfather is entertaining. More than once I thought he'd fall out of his chair."
Alex laughed, "me too. I don't want to make you uncomfortable-"
"You don't," she rushed out.
"-would it okay if I came over to talk to you again?"
His smile wouldn't relax, damn she was beautiful. "You can join us as well. It's just family."
Looking at the group of over a dozen, "mighty big family."
"We put the fun in dysfunctional, for sure. It's pretty unique." He quickly pulled out his wallet, handing her a business card. "Just in case, my cell is on the bottom."
"Just in case?"
A small shake of his head, "everyone needs a friend. A drink, a sitter, a friendly ear. Even late night boredom chats."
"Do that a lot?"
"Offer your card and late night chats?"
Rubbing the back of his neck, now uncomfortable, "no, I don't. You are here with your brother. Never seen Bobby show up with a parent-figure. Not pushing into your private life, never seen you with anyone either. It is just an offer of friendship. One I'd like to follow up on Raleigh. I'll let you get back to practice and your brother. I just wanted to finally, you know, just say hello."
With a small smile, he went back to his group. Two of the cousins had left, their devil of a Nonna as well. Going to Jessica, "we'll see what happens."
"That good huh?" The former FBI agent turned trainer smiled at him.
"We'll see what happens. Small chat and offered my business card. She got nervous at that point."
Jessica nodded. "It's a start. Not 100% on the tattoo, but I'm pretty sure it's my symbol. The same as in all the Red Ruby books. Her arm sleeve has images as well of the story." She went to the ice chest and pulled out two waters, "give it time."
"It got gloomy over here. What did I miss?"
"We have a new lead."
Raleigh gathered up her younger brother. His sports supplies now in the trunk. "Do you have school tonight Sis?"
"This is taking forever! All you do is read!"
"Have to read to know what I am doing. Have to know what I am doing so I can get us to a better place." Arm over his shoulders, "you looked great out there."
"It was a good practice today. I'm still having problems with throwing, Jake is going to ask his uncle to help me."
She nodded, "yeah, I'm not much help in that area."
He laughed, "points for letting me tackle you though."
"For real, right! All is fun until you start seeing stars." She laughed.
Alex leaned back against the playroom wall. A spot he had chosen for both looking out for the club house; dually watching out the kids while allowing them a sense of privacy. He held Summer in his arms as she sucked down her bottle. His sister in law made some cute freaking kids. His life for theirs any day.
He watched Kirk flirt with his new wife, while his son was in the playroom focused on an intense battle royale. Happy that the man had found his happiness and settled down now. Like himself, he had made himself available to take care of his nephews. Carina was special. Smart as a whip, but kept herself underground- off the books to avoid being found. Shortly after becoming Kirk's Old Lady, it was revealed she was the lost cousin to the Italian mafia. Alex enjoyed watching them. Not in a stalker sense, but knowing his friends were happy. He watched Kirk undo her jeans and rub his hand over her lower abdomen. Zero shits given about who saw, he wanted her pregnant.
Looking over to his brother in law, James and his wife. The club moved out here, some five years ago. James needed a place to raise his boys, a better deaf-school for Jared. Finding this, the club moved with him. The club captains had been by his side since they brought the boys home from the hospital. Distraught by the loss of his sister, Alex went down a path he'd never forgive himself for. James retired from the DEA. Shortly after, so did Pat, his cousin. Moved into his new home, met his hot neighbor, Lisa Gavin. Homicide and the town's medical examiner, there was no denying their instant attraction. His brother in law became the laugh of the group. He had lost his balls and his heart to the Pix and her son Jake.
James' construction contract had him working on a new cul-de-sac, new development. Shortly after Lisa led the crew to take down a serial killer, they moved in. Obviously, most of the club captains did as well. Alex, lived out of random bedrooms and the garage. Available when needed, for any need. James reached over and slid his hand under her shirt, rubbing over her top. Something he did often, he was a breast man. Alex looked into the playroom quickly, no eyes.
Didn't take long for the club to settle down to the new pace of things. Donald, the club Pres, opened up a new club house. Much better than their previous one, with one exception. No loose women. Lisa drew the line for drugs and had her fair share of KO for anyone that harassed 'her men', didn't matter which gender. The club Queen ran a tight ship. All the better for it.
Those who still had badges, most of them DEA got pulled for a job. Not the first or last. Within days of returning Donald, moved an older couple in with them. Kent and Sarah White. The club instantly took to them. They were along in their years and accepted the roles of being honorary grandparents to the assorted grandchildren. Loving parents to them all. That is when Pres met sweet as can be Alicia and her daughter Lacey. The woman didn't have a mean bone in her body. While Lisa was dramatic in her temper, no holes barred, she'd pull out her glock and aim for kneecaps, Alicia just gave a look. Her quiet demeanor calmed Pres down, settled his dark thoughts, made him smile again.
A while back, the badges, one that Alex didn't have, went out on a job. Donald ran across the cousin of his first wife, Jessica Jamison-Fisher. A petite red-head woman with bigger balls than anyone else in the room. She led a FBI team, shadow ops. Off the books. Missing Persons. Basically, the woman offered herself as bait and extraction for abducted persons. Those that messed in human trafficking. After the last large bust, she officially retired from the field, training capacity only.
Her team had one request of JD MC, join them. If the call was made, the MC would answer the call to rescue the abducted so they could return back to loving arms, to their families.
Alex, stayed back with the family. Watched his brothers leave, time and time again. Held their wives and children. Calmed Sarah and Kent when needed. For over a decade, after he cleaned his own shit up, his own focus was solely on the kids. His eyes, her eyes. Shifting Summer up to his shoulder, he patted her back until she passed air. He faithfully felt his sister's presence. Making sure he missed nothing, he felt if he saw it, so did she. Lisa got up and came towards the playroom. "How is she doing?"
"Perfect. She's perfect."
Smiling, she ran a hand over her daughters back. "In her favorite uncle's arms, of course she's perfect. Want me to take over so you can visit?"
Shaking his head, "nah. I'm good. Another 20 minutes and we'll be closing shop anyways." A chin jerk to the main table where they sat, "almost gave us peak at the package again. Don't know if you want to let him know or not."
Shaking her head as she smiled, "not worried about it. My husband has no shame and you have all seen me feed my children enough. I got over it.
A small laugh, "his fault."
"I know. Modesty blankets are an apparent no-go with this crowd."
Alex smiled, "his fault. Not ours. If it means anything, it's beautiful watching you feed them."
"I appreciate that and you. Thanks Alex."
Accepting the kiss she placed on his cheek, "always." She looked into the playroom where her two toddlers played, twins, Anthony and Autumn. Smiling, she ran a hand over his arm before going back to James.
"Did you brush your teeth?"
"Ugh! Why do you always ask that? You know so did! I even left toothpaste on my face this time!"
Smiling cheekily, "so I see. Next time, add some eyes and you'll have a clown face."
Bobby rolled his eyes at her lame joke then went in and washed his face. Returning, he gave her a side-hug. "Love you sis. Don't stay up too late."
Looking down at her books, "I'll try not too. My eyes are burning already."
"Then give it a rest. You've been studying for hours. There's always tomorrow."
"Smart. Alright, done for the night. Go tuck in. Love you Bobby."
After her teen-brother went to bed, she took some time to clean up their one bedroom apartment. It wasn't big, but worked for the two of them. He took the bedroom, she took the living room. There wasn't much. Emptying her pockets, she found Alex's card.
She had enjoyed their few minutes of chit-chat. The moment the card was handed over had changed that. Didn't matter that she had been drooling over his physique for what seemed like forever. Her own nervousness triggered. Before she could calm it down, he had gone back over to his family, speaking to one with red hair.
In a normal life, it would be nothing. But she hadn't had a normal life. Thankfully, Bobby didn't remember much of it. Now it was just the two of them. Remembering the smile she received from Alex, her heart warmed. It had been genuine. Sighing, she sat down picking up her phone. Reading the number off the card, she sent over a text: It's Raleigh. Yes, I'd like to be friends. Apologies for making things weird today.
Setting it down, she ran her fingers through her hair and scratched at her scalp. Why did she always make things weird. Another moment, her phone chimed. 'Apologies not needed, you were fine, I promise. Didn't intend to make it weird.' A second message popped up, 'my nephew mentioned Bobby wanting help with the ball. Any time he is ready or available, not a problem'
Smiling at his reply, she was grateful his nephew remembered. Replying to him, 'thank you. Guess this qualifies as the late night chit-chat'... Whatcha doing?'
Him: hahahaha… of a sorts. We're a tight family. Just got home from dinner. You?
Replying: put down the books for the night. My eyes are tired
Him: apologies, I took a guess that you were of legal age
Raleigh laughed at his reply: I am.
Him: thank goodness. How awkward that was… alright, give a mouse a cookie- what schooling?
Her: Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Him: that's fantastic! How long before it's completed?
Her: 96 weeks, about ¾ done now. I'm excited. Just a lot of information.
Him: any specialised areas?
They spent another hour talking before she had to call it. She was tired. While talking through text was easier than in person, it was him. It was Alex, the same man she saw twice a week sitting with his family. Arms usually around a little one or sitting beside the grandparents enjoying himself. She knew better. Texting the wrong was just as bad as in person. With the wrong person, blowing out a breath. Deciding she wouldn't allow herself to go there. She laid down on the couch, double checking her alarm was set for school in the morning.