Free Spirit

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Bonus 2

Four Years Later

Paddy

I rested my head against the inflatable wall, my body sinking into the enormous ball pit while I took a much-needed rest. The happy squeals and screams of small children filled the air as they explored the ocean themed playland.

Miles flopped down next to me with a heavy sigh. “I’m gonna need to see my chiropractor tomorrow,” he grumbled.

“Tell me about it,” I chuckled.

“You’re only thirty,” he muttered, rolling his eyes. “Try going down fucking slides all day with kids climbing on your back when you’re my age. Then you’ll have something to cry about.”

“Cmon, man,” I laughed. “I thought you said fifty was the new thirty on your birthday.”

“I was full of shit, Paddy.”

A man in a lobster costume came flying down the slide, landing in the middle of a sea of blue and white balls.

“Please tell me I’m not high,” Miles sighed.

“You’re not,” I laughed.

Miles rented out a playland for the twins’ fourth birthday, which they shared with their cousin. The three boys were born on the same day. Ethan and Evan Maines and Theodore Teddy Wallingford-Yargey were best buddies.

The movie Alexis wanted to work on was delayed due to the pandemic. They started production when Teddy was three months old. We hired a nanny to go on the set, and Alexis was able to fulfill her dream without being away from our son for extended periods of time. When the movie was finished, she opened her own salon.

My mom appeared at the bottom of a twisty slide with my daughter in front of her, her excited squeals warming my heart. Two years after Teddy was born, we welcomed Isla. My daughter was a carbon copy of her mother. Blonde hair and blue eyes, and the same untamed free spirit.

“Daddy!” she screamed, breaking free from my mother’s arms before charging through the balls and jumping on top of me.

“Hi there, beautiful girl,” I said. “Are you having fun?”

She nodded her head, grinning from ear to ear.

“Here comes trouble,” Miles warned a second before three boys came crashing into the ball pit.

My son popped up first, his curls bouncing as he charged at Miles. “Uncle Miles! The Jungle Beetles are here! How did you do that?”

“Uncle Miles has connections, buddy,” I laughed.

“They’re gonna sing all their songs, Daddy.”

“That’s awesome.”

“Teddy!” Ethan yelled. “C’mon!”

“Those boys are a handful,” my mom laughed.

“No kidding,” Miles agreed. “I wish they’d share some of that energy with me.”

“Have you seen Alexis lately, Mom?”

“Yes. I got her some gravy from the snack bar, and she brought a jumbo bag of Hawkins Cheezies. She’s all set.”

“I should probably go check on her,” I said.

“C’mon, baby girl,” my mother called, holding out her hand. “Let’s go down the slide again.”

I smiled as I watched my daughter walk away with my mother. My parents were in their glory with all these kids.

Our third child was due any day. Another girl. I was hoping I could convince Alexis to have one more. Maybe we’d get another boy before we called it quits.

“Do you think you’ll have a fourth?” Mikes asked, echoing my thoughts.

“I hope so.”

Miles and Hannah didn’t have any more kids. After the twins, they decided they were finished. Hannah was in her mid-thirties and Miles was fifty. I couldn’t really blame them.

“Oh fuck,” Miles muttered.

Balls went flying when a grown man tumbled from the end of the wide slide, popping up a moment later with a goofy grin. “Paddy Wagon! I’ve been looking all over for you, dude!”

“How’s it going, Osk?”

“I can’t complain,” he chuckled, pushing his sweaty bangs out of his eyes. “Your wife offered me a cheezie with gravy on it, man. Fucking gravy! On a cheezie! I tried to say no, and she started bawling her eyes out. So I ate it. Fucking disgusting!”

“Yes, it is,” I agreed, pushing myself up. “I better go check on her.”

“Good luck, Paddy Wagon,” he laughed, shaking his head.

I climbed out of the ball pit and headed to the food court area. Alexis was sitting alone at a table, shovelling gravy soaked cheezies into her mouth. And crying.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked, taking a seat next to her.

“Nothing,” she sobbed.

“You’ve got a little gravy on your chin,” I whispered, grabbing a napkin and wiping her face. “Now why don’t you tell me what all these tears are about?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know why you’re crying?”

“I like being pregnant.”

“Okay,” I said slowly. “That’s good.”

“But this pregnancy is almost over!”

“That is true,” I agreed gently, sensing I was on shaky ground, and I would be wise to choose my words carefully. “But then we’ll have another baby girl.”

“I want to have another baby, Paddy,” she whispered, glancing over her shoulder as if it was some big secret.

“We can probably do that, sweetheart.”

Her face fell, giant tears rolling down her puffy cheeks while she shook her head vigorously. “You don’t understand, Paddy.”

“I really don’t, babe.”

“I want to get pregnant again for all the wrong reasons.”

“I’m not following you,” I said, rubbing the back of my head.

She glanced over her shoulder again before leaning in close to my ear. “I want to get pregnant for the sex.”

“We have great sex regardless of why we’re having it, Alexis.”

“I know. But when I’m pregnant, I’m so horny. I can’t get enough of your cock.”

“I am aware, honey,” I said quietly. “But I don’t think a children’s party is really the place to have this conversation.”

“I know!” she howled. “I’m a terrible mother!”

“No, you’re not.”

“Really?”

“Really,” I assured her, fighting against the laughter trying to burst from my chest. “Why don’t we go round up our kids and find a seat for the concert?”

“Okay.”

We settled on a couch in front of the stage with our children snuggled between us. I wrapped my arm around my wife, leaning over to kiss her softly.

“Thank you,” I whispered.

“For what?”

“For loving me and making a family with me.”

“Thank you for loving me,” she whispered. “And for waiting so patiently for me.”

“I would’ve waited forever for you, Alexis. I love you.”

“I love you, too, Paddy.”

“Mommy, I think you peed your pants,” Teddy whispered.

“Did your water break?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she laughed. “Sorry, Teddy. I think we’re gonna have to leave early. But you can stay here and finish your party with Nanny and Papa.”

“Three times, and you still can’t tell when you’re in labour, Lex,” Hannah said.

“You’ve never went into labour, Hannah,” she snapped. “Zip it.”

“Let’s go,” I said, handing Isla to my mother. “If history is any indication, we don’t have much time.”

“I think you better call 911!” Alexis cried. “She’s right there! She’s coming out!”




“She’s beautiful,” Hannah gushed, peeking over my shoulder at the baby while the paramedics loaded Alexis into the back of the ambulance.

“You guys make cute kids,” Osk said. “But don’t do that again. Babies should be born in the hospital. Not at a kid’s birthday party. Like, the little farts are gonna be traumatized for life.”

“They didn’t see anything,” Madeline said. “Sometimes, babies come quickly. Alexis has a history of precipitous labour.”

“Alexis should keep her legs closed,” Cleo announced loudly.

“Cleo,” Hannah hissed. “That’s not appropriate.”

“I thought Mrs. Patterson went into a nursing home,” I said.

“She still chats with Cleo on social media,” Lucy said.

“I can tell,” I muttered.

“We’ll bring the kids up to the hospital later,” my mother said. “Once you get Alexis and the baby settled.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

“Does she have a name?” Cleo asked. “Or are we just calling her baby?”

“We haven’t decided yet,” I said.

“Ridiculous,” she mumbled.




“Mommy!” Teddy cried, climbing up on the bed.

“Hey, buddy,” Alexis said. “How was the rest of the party?”

“The Jungle Beetles were awesome!”

“I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

“Why don’t you all sit on the bed, and I’ll take a picture,” my mom offered, handing Isla to me.

Once the kids were settled, I climbed in next to my wife.

“Welcome to our family, baby Pam,” Teddy whispered.

“I think I’m done,” Alexis announced.

“I second that,” I said, leaning over to kiss my wife. “I think our family is complete.”

“I love you, Paddy.”

“I love you, too, Alexis.

“Make an appointment to get snipped.”

“Yes dear.”

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