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April 25, 2024

Contemporary Romance

Hellos and Happily Ever Afters

Book 13 in the Untouchable Series

This series must be read in chronological order, to avoid spoilers

For my beautiful children, you love to hear the stories of how Mommy met your Daddy, Dad, Pop, and Papa. You love the funny stories about fighting that Daddy should never have told you or the stories about dancing that Papa teases me with or how Dad coaxed me into singing with him.  Pop says your favorite stories are the ones that tell you we are human, that we love, and have loved, and will always love you.

I get that. Family means security and safety. It means having people in your corner always. It means companions on the journey to chase your dreams and helping them achieve theirs.

Hello seems like such a simple word, my darlings. But every hello that led me to your fathers is also the beginning of the happily ever after we’re building every day. You’re a part of it, Izzy, Josh, Charlie and our new arrival. You are the continuation of the story, our work in progress—our happily ever after.

Are you ready to hear what happens next?   

Hellos and Happily Ever Afters

Book 13 in the Untouchable Series

Hellos and Happily Ever Afters

Excerpt

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Prologue

Papa Don’t Preach

Archie

A few years earlier

I eased into the nursery. Josh was awake, but Frankie was still asleep. I wanted her to stay that way. Josh had been a bit of a demanding baby, not settling unless his mother held him. Jake had actually walked with him for two hours the night before, but it hadn’t worked until the little one just made himself too tired.

“I know,” I told him as I unbuttoned his baby snood to check his diaper. At six weeks old, Josh was not sleeping through the night yet, and we rotated one of us getting up with him. With five of us in the house and Jeremy to spell us when we needed a break, it meant that Frankie could get regular sleep. “I’m not your mother. Totally respect the desire and the hustle to only get her cuddles, but you’re going to have to go with Papa for now.”

Though she’d been nursing with Josh just like she had with Izzy, she was also pumping so that we could all take turns feeding too. As terrified as I’d been when Izzy was this little, she taught me a lot about being quick, efficient, and to keep a running dialogue.

“Besides, we like it when Papa changes us. I never forget to cover you up cause cold air on a penis…” I shook my head. “Fair warning, that doesn’t get better when you’re older and if it’s icy hands—yours or anyone else—just hard no.”

Josh let out a half-grunt then a little toot of a fart. Excellent. Izzy used to struggle with that part, Josh did not. Jake liked to flex that he got the farting from his side of the family.

Frankie did not disagree. Pretty sure it wasn’t the compliment Jake took it as, but it was still entertaining. Once I’d secured the fresh diaper and zipped him back up. I scooped him up carefully from the crib.

Josh had been almost eight pounds when he was born. He hadn’t lost any weight which was good. He was already longer than when he’d arrived.

“You’re going to grow like a weed,” I said as I got the prepped bottle out of his fridge and set it in the warmer. “Probably all the sports talk. Then again, Daddy and Dad are very competitive. Pop and me, not so much.”

I almost snorted at myself.

“Okay, rephrase, Papa is competitive too just in different areas.”

Josh scrunched up his little face like he was gonna yell, but instead a yawn escaped. I chuckled.

“Yeah, it’s not even two in the morning. You managed a whole four hours, I’m very impressed. I’d like to see us work that up to six, but we have time.”

When his bottle was ready, I settled in the rocking chair. It was Frankie’s favorite. The first time she’d sat in it when she’d been pregnant with Izzy, her whole face lit up. I didn’t care if I had to buy the company to keep them making these. It was doable. Anything was doable to keep that happiness on her face.

“So this is a current blend of the finest mother’s milk you’re ever going to get. Very fresh. She pumped this after you went to sleep and we set it up here for you.”

A pair of blue eyes stared up at me steadily. Izzy’s had changed to a shade much closer to green by this age. So far, it didn’t look like Josh’s had any intention of changing.

“The trick is,” I said. “To make her laugh while she’s pumping and you get an endorphin boost. Sometimes, she’s really sleepy and I kind of wish that also worked as an enticement for you, but you seem to be the fussier connoisseur in the house.”

Another difference between Josh and Izzy. Izzy didn’t mind who took care of her, she settled equally between all of us. Josh was greedy for mama.

I was greedy for her too. I got it.

“Now, here’s how we’re going to do this. I’m going to set you up, you’re gonna eat and doze, then go back to sleep. Then in about four hours, you can wake up again and I bet Mama will be right here.”

Teasing the nipple of the bottle against his lower lip, I gave him a moment. At first, we’d worried the bottle nipples were too different from Frankie’s and that was why he wouldn’t latch. Then she fed him from a bottle so that wasn’t it.

His little face puckered but he closed his lips on the nipple and gave it a half-hearted tug.

“That’s not working for me there, little man. Put some effort into that suction. You want the milk, I know you’re hungry or you’d already be asleep again.”

He pushed one of his little hands up toward me and then bounced it against the bottle. The frown puckering his forehead deepened and his little face flushed.

“Nope,” I told him, keeping my voice even. “We’re not doing that. No crying for mama. Mama needs to sleep and you’ve been keeping her awake a lot. She’s all curled up with Daddy and Dad right now and we’re going to let her stay there. You have Papa and Papa has you.”

I gave the bottle a little wiggle, teasing his lips with the nipple again. The milk dribbled a little from the corner of his mouth, then vanished as he latched onto the bottle and began to nurse.

Oh, I wanted to do a victory dance. Instead, I just kept rocking as Josh ate.

“That’s a good boy,” I said. “What shall we talk about? Since apparently, all you needed was a little man-to-baby talk here. Hey, I know, let’s talk about Jeremy and how great he is. You’ve got all of us, but you also have Jeremy. Grandpa Jere—he’s going to be your best friend. Before I met your mother, he was always mine.”

Still was.

“Anyway…” I continued, rocking Josh slowly as he nursed. His frantic sucking had slowed and now he was half-asleep. At this rate, he’d be sacked out again as soon as the bottle was done. “Rule number one, never lie to Jeremy. Even if you think we won’t like it or he’ll be disappointed, never lie. He will always have your back, even if having it means smacking you upside the head verbally. He’s really good at it.”

end of excerpt

Hellos and Happily Ever Afters

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Hellos and Happily Ever Afters

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