Jay's Loelife: A GA Exclusive Epic-logue - 3. Life as a Family
Life as a Family
Oregon is nice and all, but it’s not Denver.
The rental house is beautiful, but it’s not home.
The plan was always to drive back to Colorado with the twins, but now that the girls are cleared to travel, the plans are changing. Infants are harder than we ever imagined. Taking them on a road trip is no longer appealing which is why Loren’s on the phone, chartering a plane to take us from the McMinnville Municipal Airport to Denver while simultaneously finding a local pregnant mom of twins to give everything we brought to Oregon, including the minivan Seamus hooked us up with.
Three days later, we’re descending into Denver with two screaming girls. I can't get off the plane fast enough. Listening to them wail for the entirety of our ninety-minute flight was like having your heart stabbed. Nothing we did to calm them worked. There were no special Dad tricks.
I hold Maci against my chest as she screams and disembark as fast as possible. The moment my foot hits the tarmac and the sun hits her skin, her cries quiet and her eyes blink close. Maeve doesn't calm down until we're at the SUV.
And the realities of life with not one, but two beans prove we never knew what we were walking into.
The laughter starts small, but soon I can’t keep it in. Loren’s standing next to the weight machine, all sweaty from working out and swaying a crying Maeve back and forth.
“We really thought we’d bring a set of four-week-old girls to the gym and workout as if it’s just another day?” I ask, still laughing because I never thought I’d see Loren holding a tiny baby at the gym.
Loren smiles proudly, unperturbed by how different his sacred gym time looks. “It is just another day.”
And this is why I love my husband. Life continues. Whatever we did before the girls, we now do with the girls. I really believed Loren would need a little more coaxing into fatherhood, but he’s a natural. I never doubted him.
Once Maeve is calm, he sets her back in her saucer chair and picks up where he left off in his workout. Does it bother him how many guys are smirking at us because we have a mini daycare set up in the gym? Not one bit. Everyone’s been great, supportive even. In fact, a few minutes after we arrived, the guys surprised us by playing Baby Einstein music. A far cry from the typical gym selections.
Loren puffs his chest out and continues to work his hot dad bod.
Before the girls, when I thought of what having a kid with Loren looked like, holding a baby against my chest while doing Bulgarian split squats was not it. Instead, I watch as Loren does push-ups over Maci, kissing her sweet face on each downturn.
“This is how we build confident girls,” he reminds me.
At thirty-one days old, every other thought revolves around the wellbeing of the girls.
Despite the pure exhaustion, I leave the gym happier than I’ve ever been. Loren takes one look at me and grins. He knows he hangs my moon. Life can’t get any better than it is right now.
The envelope Cole gave us is waiting on the coffee table. Now that we’re home and settled, it’s time to get back into the flow of things. I set the bottles on the kitchen island and prepare them for the hungry hippos while Loren finishes unloading the dishwasher.
We sit side-by-side on the sofa and watch as the girls go crazy, racing each other to the bottom of the bottle. It’s like their little bellies weren’t exploding milk like Old Faithful a few hours ago.
Loren lifts Maci to his shoulder and starts burping her. She’s adorable. Her little lips part as her head lolls to the side. They’re still so tiny. They haven’t yet grown out of their preemie clothes. Most people think it’s too early to tell who they look like, but to me, they look so much like Loren. It’s uncanny.
With his free hand, he pats the manilla envelope. “There are requests from some really reputable reporters, people I think would do a good job creating a piece on us and the girls. But I think we should use Josh.”
His words rip me from my happy little daydream, where everyone I love looks like Loren. Will the real Loren Patrick please stand up?
It’s funny. The mighty Loren, who holds millions in the palm of his hand and can snap his fingers and get anything he wants. More importantly, he who has me wrapped around him like wisteria choking a mighty oak. And yet he’s insanely jealous of a reporter.
“I thought you hated Josh?”
“Just ’cause I think he’s a sleazy snake waiting to strike the second I turn my back doesn’t mean he’s bad at his job. In fact, he’ll do a great job because he wants to impress you.”
“Or, and I know this is a crazy concept to you, but maybe it’s because he’s a respectable reporter who is good at his job.”
Loren makes a big show of letting me know how much he doesn’t believe me. When he finishes scoffing and rolling his eyes, he moves on. “On another note. I’ve thought about my parents. I really don’t give a flying bleep about them, nor do I care to give them the time of day they’re looking for. They need air to survive, and I don’t plan to give it to them. I have a friend who is an actual investigative reporter. He’s good at what he does. He once moved to Chicopee, Massachusetts for three years to report on the Chicopee triple murders—”
Ah, yes. His podcast friend, Rob Stone. He bought the Airstream Loren renovated after the pop-up camper.
I remember hearing about the case of Jackson Jones, who was arrested and sentenced for the murders five separate times. Each conviction was appealed and then overturned for prosecutorial misconduct, at which point he was retried, convicted, appealed, overturned. Rinse and repeat. Rob Stone spent three years uncovering some hard truths about the way systemic racism played a big role in Jackson’s conviction. He also found damning evidence that set Jackson free after twenty-years in prison.
“Anyway. He’s cool, and he’s good at what he does. I don’t think he’d have to dig deep to uncover stuff your PI may have missed during his quick, superficial search. Possibly stuff my parents would rather keep buried.”
Knowing what Loren’s parents did to him and his brother, and what I dug up with minimal effort, I’m sure there is a whole smorgasbord of misconduct waiting to be brought to light. If it weren’t for the statute of limitations on minor crimes, they might actually see jail time when Rob is done with them.
“I guess that leaves the last order of business—”
“No.” Loren cuts me off.
“No? You’re the one who—”
“I’ve changed my mind.”
“Is there a reason why?”
“I don’t want someone else watching the girls. If we can’t take care of them on our own or with the help of our village, then we don’t need a nanny.”
I bite the inside of my cheek to keep from grinning. He was so sure that being dads would look a certain way. Somewhere around the house, he has a bullet-pointed plan detailing exactly how things would go once the girls arrived. I’d be surprised if any of them are checked off.
Lucky for him, I have no objections. I’m content keeping the girls close.
“So …” I drum my thighs. “Are you meeting Rob Stone in person?”
“Probably.” Then he realizes what I’m saying, and his eyes widen. “Ohmygod. You loooove him.”
I shrug him off. “Whatever. He’s hot, he solves crimes, and saves innocent people from death row.”
“Mhmm. Maybe I should meet him while I’m away for business next week. I’d hate for you to be tempted.”
I set a sleeping Maeve down on the other side of the sectional, lift an equally out-cold Maci from Loren’s shoulder and set her next to her sister, then push Loren down and stretch out on top of him, pinning his wrists above his head.
I kiss the side of his face and down his neck. “You don’t seriously think I’m tempted, do you?”
“I don’t know,” he moans. “He’s a real-life Kim Possible. He even wears utility pants and black shirts. Like you said, he’s hot, solves crimes, and saves people from death roohhh.”
I nibble at the base of his neck and slide my fingers under his shirt and over his stomach. He presses his hips against me, begging for more, so I flick his pants open and quickly push them down. It’s been five weeks since we’ve done anything sexual, not since the girls were born.
He pulls me tight against him and we make out like we did when we first started dating. And just like when we first started dating, we don’t even get our pants off before we both cum against each other.
“Do you feel better now?” I ask, still lazily laying on top of him.
“Fuck yeah.” Loren smacks my ass then shoves me to the side so he can pick up the sleeping girls. “Let's do that again tonight when the girls are down. But this time, let’s be naked.”
I drag myself out of bed the next morning feeling oddly refreshed and highly satisfied.
“Are you sure you don’t need me to stay home?” Loren asks as I grab his carry-on from the back of the SUV because he refuses to leave the backseat where he’s pouting at Maci and Maeve.
I set the bag down and laugh. “This is an important meeting. Go. The girls and I will be here to pick you up in two days.” I extend the handle on his luggage in an effort to coax him out of the SUV. “You’re going to miss your flight.”
“Tell Dad to stop rushing me. It’s my first time leaving you sweet beans and it’s not easy.” He sighs dramatically. “And remember it’s two against one with me gone, so you girls be good for Dad, okay? Make sure he FaceTimes me so I can see you.”
Eventually, Loren crawls out looking like his Tamagotchi died.
I wrap my arms around him and kiss his pouty lips. “You’re such a wonderful dad.”
Loren slumps against me. “No one tells you how attached you get.”
“That’s a good thing,” I remind him. “This is how it’s supposed to feel when you leave your babies.”
Loren looks at me with big, insecure eyes and a neon sign above his head: Affirmation required.
“You are not capable of doing to the girls what your parents did to you. Don’t let their lies become your truth.”
“I know I’m nothing like my parents. But when all you know is what you’re shown, it’s a surprise when things like being a good parent come naturally. It takes some getting used to, is all.”
“Prepare for a lot of self-discoveries.”
With the encouragement that he’s not his parents, knowing he can leave his girls and still be a great father, Loren grabs his luggage.
Once he’s gone, I turn to the twins. They are wide awake in their car seats, still as tiny as can be, but more alert with each passing day. “Well, it’s just the three of us,” I tell them.
A few minutes later, we’re on our way home. I don’t care how protected they are in their expensive, state-of-the-art car seats. I drive slower, more cautiously than ever before. The drive is twice as long but the girls are asleep, so I don’t care.
When we arrive at home, there’s a box at the door. After setting the girls inside, I check it out.
“Nana sent a care package,” I whisper to the sleeping beauties.
I rip it open and cringe. It’s not Mom’s fault everything she sent is hideous. Loren and I are spoiled. Every day another package arrives from one small shop or another, each item cuter than the last. The girls have an endless supply of the very best clothes.
Personally, I’d dress the girls in whatever, but Loren is very particular. A big part of his brand is fashion. Once he and I were serious, Loren became something of a personal stylist, always picking game day outfits. Now he has the girls, and they are an extension of him.
I hold the hideous jumper up. “What do we do about these?”
Once the girls are awake, we take a picture of them wearing the clothes and send it off to Mom. A few days later, I put the girls back in the outfit and pick up Loren from the airport.
He takes one look at the girls and shakes his head. “There are people here,” he says under his breath, as he takes one of the girls out of the stroller and hugs her tightly.
“But my mom bought them.”
“Yes, and you said you would protect the girls from your mother. So….”
Loren turns to the crowd of onlookers. I can tell he wants to say ‘take a good look because Jay is never dressing the girls again’, but he knows my mom will see it now that she has an Instagram. It’s his fault if you think about it. It’s the only way for her to stay in the loop.
He bites his lip and lets the girls get photographed in the worst outfit in history.
“The internet never forgets,” he tells me as we drive away. “Remember that.”
Loren takes the girls and meets with Rob Stone while I’m conveniently away in California for an endorsement campaign. He thinks he’s being sneaky, but I follow Rob Stone on Instagram and he shared a candid of the girls being cute as hell with Loren in the background chatting with what I assume are a few followers.
I say nothing.
When I get home, he’s got the twins on the floor, naked. He looks flustered and his shirt is covered with a mustard-looking stain. Two equally stained onesies lay in a heap not far away.
Loren visibly relaxes when he sees me, the relief in his eyes abundantly clear. “Today has not been a good day. The girls have been crying nonstop. Nothing I did helped. Three minutes ago, they shit everywhere. I’m not joking when I say it shot out of their diapers with the force of a cannon.” He nods at the tangled mess of soiled diapers nearby.
I kneel next to the girls. “Here, let me.” Loren doesn’t need to be asked twice. He runs to the bathroom, dumping his shirt in the trash on the way. I smile down at the girls. Loren did a decent job cleaning them up, but there’s proof of the drama on the back of their necks and in the tips of their wispy, brown baby hair. “Poor girly beans. Do your little bellies hurt?”
They squirm on their backs like overturned beetles until I pick them up and take them to the tub. When we finish and everyone is dressed in fresh clothes, we head to the living room.
Loren looks at the girls cautiously, then at me. “That was gross. Like, absolutely disgusting. I gagged.”
“Karma does that to a person.”
“I saw you and the girls met up with Rob Stone.”
Loren’s lips form an ‘O’.
Loren bats his eyes innocently. “It happened to be good timing.”
“You just didn’t want me to meet Rob Possible.”
Loren’s smile grows until he’s laughing. “Can I tell him you said that?”
That’s a big no.
“What did he say?” I ask, changing the subject.
Loren sobers a bit. “That it could take a while. He’s in the middle of an informational dig right now, but said he would work on it as he goes.”
“Realistically, what are we looking at? Three or four months?”
“I asked the same question. He said it’s impossible to know. It depends on what he finds and how hard the dig is. I don’t think three to four is realistic. I have a feeling we’ll be holding tight for the better part of a year.”
“How do you feel about that?”
Loren gives a tight smile. “Like a lot of time to regret asking for the truth.”
The stress of Rob Stone looking into Loren’s childhood hangs over him like a dark, thunderous cloud. On the outside, he smiles for the camera and coos at the girls, but at night, when it’s just us, the worry seeps out. I hold him tightly and listen attentively as he shares the what ifs that weigh heavily on his soul.
Months pass, but nothing seems to take his mind off what’s brewing in the background. If anything, it gets worse. The only time he hears from Rob is when there is a question that needs to be answered or clarified. Loren answers as best as he can. Each question leaves Loren more curious than before.
I hate seeing him like this, so I coordinate with his team, pull a few strings, and plan a summer he’ll never forget.
The girls are seven-months old when we load them into the MC Chassis motorhome Freightliner graciously loaned us for the summer. A far cry from the pop-up camper we used during our first trip all those years ago or the Airstream Loren renovated two years later, the one Rob Stone won off the auction.
The girls are so little that hosting Cousin Camp isn’t a realistic option this year. Instead, the entire crew joins us on the road.
Cousin Camp: Roadtrip Edition.
With a mob of kids, we convoy east. The girls are all smiles as they sit in their car seats, which are perched in the custom captain's chairs. Their hair is in the cutest barely-pig tails. Loren approved. He’s been watching quite a few hair tutorials as of late.
I reach across the console and take his hand. He looks up, one hand on the wheel, and smiles.
“Is this what you thought we’d be doing this summer?” I ask.
He chuckles. “Not at all. I didn’t think we’d do anything like this for a few years still. Maybe once the girls were walking and talking.”
“You think we should wait?”
“Nah. I’m excited. The girls might not remember this, but I will and so will everyone else.” Loren squeezes my hand. “I’m glad we’re doing this.”
I-70 isn’t much to look at, but it will get us to our destination quickly. We drive behind Seamus and Matt in their new motorhome. We’ve all gone camping, but this is the first trip of this kind. Aidan and Carson were excited when we left. Carson was bubbling like a live wire, clinging to his older brother.
A truck stop exit sign passes by and then Loren’s phone rings. He looks at me and grins. Still Aidan’s favorite after all these years.
He connects the car to the speaker. “Yo Spudy. What’s happening?”
“Can I ride with you guys?”
“What could possibly make you want to ride with us? We haven’t even been on the road for an hour.”
“Uhhh. Carson is driving me nuts.”
“You’d have to sit with the girls,” Loren says in warning. “You’d be on baby duty and it’s almost feeding time.”
“I’m good with the girls. I feed them all the time.”
Loren and I look at each other and laugh under our breath. Has he fed them? Yes. All the time? No.
“If it’s okay with your dads, we can meet at the next exit.”
A few minutes later, Aidan steps out of the motorhome. Carson chases after him across the Love’s parking lot. “Can I come, too? Pweeese!”
Aidan looks at us with wide, cartoon eyes. For the love of God, say no!
“How about you ride with us after the next stop?”
Carson sticks out his bottom lip and mopes back to his parents. Before stepping into the motorhome, he gives one last pleading look over his shoulder. That mop of messy auburn hair and those big sad eyes are tempting, but Aidan came to us because he needs a little space. I gently shake my head. Carson’s shoulders slouch as he disappears into the motorhome.
The big kids scream with glee as they use the strung-together inner-tubes as a water jungle gym. The younger kids, exhausted from the sun and nonstop activity, cling to their parents mercilessly. Maci and Maeve, well, they just woke up from a nap. With messy, dilapidated pigtails and sleepy brown eyes, they sit happily on the laps of Matt and Seamus on the other side of the campsite and accept bribes of sweet potato medley.
“Tell me that wasn’t the best decision you ever made?” Lars asks as he leans in close to Loren. No matter where we are, those two end up huddled together. They can’t help it. Something in their DNA draws them together like super magnets. Maggie and Milo are the same, always next to each other. We’re starting to see it with the little beans, too.
Loren is watching the girls with great contentment. Their gaze is moments from finding ours. When they spot us, Loren waves. The small gesture excites them, and their squeals echo across the campsite. Matt and Seamus hold them tight as they wiggle themselves into a dad-induced frenzy.
He turns to me and holds my eyes for a moment, then smiles. “Second best decision. I am glad someone was able to change my stubborn mind. Having the girls opened my eyes,” Loren says, letting his gaze wander back to our two little miracles. “Knowing our parents were trash didn’t stop their actions from ingraining lies in me. I’m quick to judge myself harshly when I mess up as a father. I am realizing how terrible they were. To think I worried I might actually be capable of doing what they did. Thank God those inhumane thoughts have never crossed my mind. I can’t even fathom it.”
“I get that,” Lars says. “I had similar fears, even before I knew the truth. Maggie and Milo healed a part of me. I wish our past wasn’t what it is, but in a way, we owe it for what we have today. I’m not thankful to our parents, but I am thankful you and I were strong enough to make the best of a shitty situation.”
Loren taps his hard cider against his brothers. “Here, here.”
“Does this mean you’re not waiting to find out what Rob Stone has uncovered?” Courtney asks. “Now that your parents dropped the defamation suit?”
Loren scoffs. “Normally, I wouldn’t give a second thought to them slithering away into the night again, but it’s fucking suspect they dropped the lawsuit six months into Rob’s investigation. He hit something and I wanna know what it is.”
Lars raises his brow. “What the fuck could he have found that is worse than abandoning your child on Christmas?”
Loren takes a long pull from his drink and relaxes back in his chair. “I haven’t a fucking clue.”
You probably have a crazy and hectic schedule and find it hard to keep up with everything going on. We get it, because we feel it too. Signing up here is a great way to keep in touch and find something relaxing to read when you get a few moments to spare.
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