The next couple of days go by in a blur. Laura said she could finish her classes virtually, and I told her I wasn’t returning to New York without her and Jack. She was more than happy to agree with my stipulation. I feel bad that she won’t get to work at The Crooked Spine. But if she wants to work at a bookstore, I will buy her one.
We spent the last forty-eight hours packing up everything they wanted to bring, which was much less than what I expected. Laura packed a few suitcases of the things they wanted and needed for about two weeks, like clothes, shoes, toys, bathroom stuff, etc., and Charlotte will mail the rest of their clothes. I told her I had everything she was missing, or we could buy it together. We aren’t going to be in my condo for long anyways. I’m buying my girl a house and letting her go crazy, filling it with whatever she wants. I’m hoping eventually, that will include another little hockey player. But I’m just happy we are finally together again, for good this time.
Jack is so excited about the move; he hasn’t stopped asking me about what’s in New York and what we could do there. He is already building a list of activities he wants to do when we finally settle in, and I couldn’t be happier.
After my confrontation with Coach, I contacted the general manager immediately. There is no update yet, but they are interviewing players and discussing with the team’s board of directors whether to keep or get rid of him. I think it’s more of a formality at this point, at least, I hope. I wasn’t the only player to file a complaint. Our team is a family, and it always will be. If you fuck with one of us, you fuck with all of us.
Costy and Reed flew back yesterday, and I was sad to see them go. Yet happy to have alone time with my girl and Jack. I can’t thank them enough for coming with me and being at my side, but that’s who we are. We would do anything for each other. I can’t wait to be back with my team when we fly home this afternoon. I know it seems fast, but we know it’s right. It’s where we are supposed to be, together.
I’m sitting in Jack’s bed and can’t help but to try to imagine everything that has happened here. What does he dream about? Does he have nightmares? Which toys are his favorite? Although according to him, they all are, as there’s an entire suitcase dedicated to his toys. I can’t wait to learn everything about him.
“Are you okay?” Lu asks, drawing my attention to where she leans against the door frame.
I wonder how long she’s been standing there. “More than okay. You guys have everything you need?”
She walks over to the bed and spreads my legs enough for her to settle between them. “Yeah, we are ready to go.” Her head leans against my chest, and she looks straight at me. “Last chance to turn back.”
“Never. I am never letting you and Jack go again. So really, this is your last chance because I’m not going anywhere.” Wrapping my arms around her waist, I pull her in tighter to me.
She nuzzles into my grasp. “Neither are we.”
Looking down at her, I remember I never gave her the necklace I got her.
“Stay here! Don’t move an inch. I’ll be right back!” I tell her and quickly wiggle out from behind her and fly out of the room before she can question it.
I race downstairs, scooping my keys off the counter, and out the front door to my car where I stashed the small box. I’m shocked that I didn’t ruin the surprise gift or even remember it until now. I wrap my hand around the velvet box and return the way I came. When I reach Jack’s bedroom again, she is in the exact place I left her. I tuck the box behind my back and squeeze myself between her and the head of the bed.
“What are you up to?” She asks, giggling.
“This is for you,” I tell her, placing the box in her lap. Grabbing her hips, I pull her as tightly against me as I can as she lifts the lid.
“Oh my god, Alec!” She gasps. Her voice is quiet. “It’s beautiful.”
My heart jumps, “You like it?”
“I love it. Thank you,” she says, looking up at me with watery eyes.
“Good. Can I put it on you?” I ask as I’m already reaching for it.
She nods, and I carefully remove her current necklace and replace it with mine. Four heart-shaped gemstones cascade down—starting at the top is her birthstone, then mine, Jack’s, and her mom’s. I clasp the chain together and pull her flush against my chest.
The quiet lasts for a second before Jack bursts into the room through the open door, looks at both of us, and screams as he dive-bombs on top of us. We all laugh, and I can’t help myself but start tickling Lu to keep those laughs bubbling out.
“Get her!” I shout, and Jack joins in with me, tickling her silly. She writhes and eventually manages to escape us, running out of the room.
“That was fun!” Jack shouts and throws himself back on the bed, sprawled like a snow angel. “I can’t wait to see our new house.”
“Well, we’re going to stay at my place for a bit, and then we’re all going to pick out our new house together.” He exhales with a big smile on his face. “I’m so glad you found us. I love you, Daddy.”
My heart fucking explodes with love. “I love you too.” He rolls his head to face me. “Even in the rain?”
He catches me off guard by sharing this with me, as he’s only ever said it to Laura. I know it’s their thing. My eyes well with tears, and I answer him with the fullest heart, “Even in the storm.”