“You need to take the batteries out. Why doesn’t she stop crying?” I whined, hearing baby C scream for the hundredth time since we got her home? That one was faulty, or she needed to be placed back on demo mode, I thought as I rolled over with my sandpaper eyes to retrieve her from her bassinet.1
“Babies cry,” is all Everly offers as she shuffles up the bed and yawns. I peer at the clock. She wasn’t even asleep for forty-five minutes this time. It was 2:20 am!
“You need to get that one checked. Something is wrong with her,” I tell Everly as I hand her over. Everly flops out a boob while the baby opens her mouth like a fish enjoying my funbags, and Everly won’t let me touch them either. I eye the baby with jealousy. 3
My balls were so blue, and I knew I was never getting laid again at this rate, and here Everly was flopping those big juicy titties out in front of me every two seconds. Does she not know how full my balls are? They need emptying. Everly eyes go to me for a second, I wonder if she knows what I am thinking.
I lay back down and just shut my eyes when another started screaming. Oh, how I took sleep for granted! It had been our first night at home, and I was already exhausted. No way I could survive this for? Wait, how many years do babies cry for? I groan, and Everly snickers, and I swear if she says one more time, you’ll get the hang of it, I will… I will… I will do absolutely nothing because I can’t!
“Go to sleep, please! I need sleep,” I whine, pulling the pillow over my head. Everly nudges me with her knee, and I sigh, rolling back out of bed to retrieve baby A this time.
I hand her over, and Everly tries to get her to latch. I watch my funbags deflate as the baby gulps down the goodness.
“You may need to make a bottle. My supply isn’t very good,” Everly tells me and I nod while walking toward the door.
“Can you make me a cup of tea too, please?” I yawn, going to the kitchen. I squint at the formula can, checking the scoops and mls before fixing a bottle just as I am about to walk out of the kitchen. Baby B wakes with a loud scream, then I remember I still hadn’t made the tea.
Torn, I look between the kettle DWUDK=IN the hallway when Everly calls out.
“She is fine. It won’t hurt her to cry for a minute or so,” she sings out. I was halfway through making the tea when the crying stopped. A sigh of relief leaves me. This is my life now, it will be filled with diapers and bottle changes, and the smell of dirty diapers in the air was getting on my nerves. It was torture, blissful torture, but still, torture.
Walking back into the room, Baby B had fallen back asleep in the bassinet, Baby A and C had fallen asleep in her arms, and Everly had her head back resting on the headboard, also asleep. “Looks like I made myself tea,” I whisper, walking into the room. I place the mug down, propping more pillows under her arms, so they don’t slip out. Everly had become a baby pacifier, and I wasn’t waking them. Laying down, I closed my eyes, but paranoia had me opening them every two seconds and
flicking the lamp on, paranoid one would slip out of her arms. Giving up, I drink the tea, watching them sleep and sticking my finger under Baby B’s nose every two seconds to check she is still breathing. 2 Again I tried to sleep, yet that nagging voice in my head had me flicking the lamp on, and I decided to try detach them from her. I unlatch one, only for Everly’s eyes to fly open. “Did you make my tea?” she asks, glancing around before spotting the empty mug.
Marcus was on his way to come to get me. I finally figured out the last name to go with the middle name I chose. I just hoped Everly liked the names I picked. Each one had a link to someone special to us, or more importantly, each name was inspired by the strongest women I have ever met or wished I could meet. When he texts to tell me he is here, I climb off the couch, passing Baby C to her and kissing her and Everly’s head. “Everyone should be here soon for the baby’s name reveal. I am hoping to get back before they get here,” I tell her, and she nods.
Everything seemed to come so naturally to Everly, and despite the chaos, our lives have been of late. She held it together well. We had so much to do and to get ready. The Hotel was opening up soon. Everly had the council meeting next week, and she was officially changing the laws on the rogues. Court cases and investigations were still ongoing, and I spent half the morning on the phone or checking emails. Until Nixon was caught, I didn’t want to be away unless necessary, so John came over early this morning to sit with her.
Everly and I discussed briefly this morning the need for a bigger place, so dad was getting the packhouse ready. Everly wanted extra room so our fathers and Ava could remain with us to help with the kids, and I wasn’t saying no to any help. One night had taught me this was going to be exhausting. Walking to the elevator, I press the button leaning against the wall and shutting my eyes. I was on the nod when the doors opened up to the underground garage. Marcus was leaning against the hood, waiting for me. He wasn’t happy about not being able to kill the other one responsible for hurting Zoe, yet he understood it was her choice. I don’t know if I would have made the same decision as her.
I would have wanted revenge, but it showed what sort of person she was. Despite hurting herself, she didn’t want to hurt another or kill Amber, though death I believed was too kind even for that girl.! “You look like shit,” Marcus comments as I open the car door and slide into the passenger seat. He moves to the driver’s side and hops in.
“Thanks for taking me. I didn’t trust myself to drive.” I yawn while covering my mouth. He nods, starting the car and driving toward Dion’s jeweler’s.
“Derrick had Clarke removed from the city, and the other scumbag. Deacon is also under investigation for corruption within the council,” Marcus tells me. 1
“Good. I spoke with Alpha Daxon earlier. He doesn’t want Nixon’s land. So we decided to leave it as neutral territory,” I told him. “More housing for the rogues then,” Marcus says while navigating around a roundabout.
“How is Zoe?” I ask him.
“She says she is okay,” Marcus says with a sigh. “Nightmares?” I ask.
“No, guilt. She feels bad for Macey having to kill Carter. Even though Macey told her it wasn’t just because of her, I think Zoe knows it was.” Marcus tells me.
“Macey loves Tatum, and they are good together,” I tell him, but yeah, I could not imagine being in her shoes and killing my mate, that would be torture.
“Think it is just knowing Macey did it for her. Anyway, hopefully, today will take her mind off it. I have to pick them up after I drop you back,” Marcus tells me.
We pull up along the road and climb out. I was excited to see the bracelets engraved and nervous about the names. Marcus knew two of the names and even tried to help me pick a name suited to the middle name I was stumped on. It wasn’t usually a middle name, and nothing seemed to go with it until I found something perfect.
The bell rings as we step inside, and Dion looks up. “Just waiting on that last name. The other two are done,” he tells me, getting to his feet and pushing his glasses up his nose.
“Summer,” I tell him, and he nods, walking out the back to do the last engraving.
“Summer?” Marcus asks. “Everly’s mother’s maiden name. It’s also the name she used to go by before I found her. It seemed fitting to go with the other,” I tell him, and Marcus smiles. “I can’t wait to see her face when she hears them,” Marcus chokes up. He knew the meaning behind each name. All names from women I found inspiring, and each held a special meaning to not only me, but I knew they would hold dear to Everly too. Dion takes about twenty minutes before he returns, using the polishing cloth on the last one, he sets them in a little box and bags them for me after I check them. Satisfied, we left and headed back home, yet the trip was taking way too damn long. I was excited to show Everly, but these damn roundabouts.
“Seriously, why do they have so many roundabouts along this straight? Someone needs to complain to the council,” I growl.
Marcus raises an eyebrow at me. “You designed this road to stop the hooning. You are the damn council. Complain to yourself.” Marcus laughs, and I roll my eyes.
I anxiously waited for Valen to return while going over bridal magazines with Ava. Dad was making me coffee while I sat and pondered what names he chose. Valarian sat on the floor, watching his sisters squirm in their swings. Every noise they made had him jumping to give them their dummies or hushing them. All morning he had been passing diapers and following me around, wanting to help, wanting to cuddle and touch them. They were his prized possessions until the diaper changes. Then he was nowhere to be seen. 1 Dad had just set my coffee down on the coffee table when the door opened and Valen walked in. I eagerly looked over the back of the couch toward the entry. “Evie,” Valen says, leaning over the couch. He pecks my lips, looking down at the magazine sitting open in my lap.
“Finally going to start planning?” he asks and I nod. “Show me,” I tell him, reaching for the bag in his hands. He shakes his head, “Grab the girls and bring them into the room first, then you can see.” He tells me, and I pout before hauling my ass off the couch and over to the baby swings. I grab baby A, and Ava passes me Baby B while Valen grabs Baby C. I was glad to be rid of the baby alphabet and couldn’t care less what he named them at this point, as long as they had names. Real names. I follow Valen into the room, and he places the baby on the bed, and I place the other two beside her, peering over his shoulder as he rummages through the jewelry bag,
“Away, you will see in a minute,” he says, shooing me. I growl at him and sit near the bedhead, watching as he clasps each one in place. When he was done, he glanced at me nervously.
“Come on, they can’t be that bad. Now let me look,” I whine at him. Valen moves aside and motions to them. I hop up, going over to examine the gold bracelets on their wrists. My lip quivers as I pick up the first one’s little wrist. I blink back tears, moving to the next. And the last one damn near broke me. “You like them?” Valen asks nervously, and I peer up at him. “Love them,” I whisper, and he smiles, stepping closer and wrapping his arms around me. I squeeze him tight, resting my head against his chest. “Their names are perfect,” I tell him, looking up at him, and he kisses my nose.
Hearing the door moments later, I smile, hearing voices echoing throughout the place as Macey, Tatum, and Taylor arrive, along with Zoe, Marcus, Casey, and Kalen. Scooping the girls up, Valen took two while I grabbed Baby C.
“I think her name is fitting. She is definitely a troublemaker with all her crying,” Valen comments as he walks out to greet everyone. They all chatted excitedly while dad made himself handy in the kitchen.
“Dad!” I call to him, and he looks over at me. “Come sit,” I tell him. He stops what he is doing. He goes to sit with Kalen on the ottoman. “No, next to Macey,” I tell him. Valen moves across to where Zoey is sitting with Marcus and hands her one baby. “Can I look?” she asks all excitedly, clapping her hands before taking her from Valen. “You can look,” Valen tells her. Zoe does and she falls quiet for a second and nods, choking a little before looking up with tears in her eyes. “Well, what’s it say?” Macey asks impatiently while trying to peer over my father’s shoulder. “Summer Zoey Solace,” Zoey chokes as I hand the next baby to Kalen. He smiles as he looks at her bracelet.
“Now, I said I wouldn’t name her after you, but I added a spin on it,” Valen whispers to me.
“Everlyn Valarie Solace,” Kalen states before leaning down and kissing the top of her little head. Valen turned to my father before passing her over while dad shook his head, tears streaming down his face. He already knew before even looking. “Your mate sacrificed herself for her grandchildren, and none of them would exist if she didn’t,” Valen tells him. Macey peers down at the bracelet, softly brushing her thumb over the back of bubs hand.
“Five remarkable women and I couldn’t think of any better way to honor them,” Valen tells them.
“Well?” Zoe asks, and Macey sniffles. “Claire Macey Solace,” she stammers, and Tatum grips her shoulders. “Our village,” I tell them. “Our family,” Valen adds.