I spotted Jax chatting with Zack, both of them now able to sit back and enjoy the events without micro-managing the races anymore. It practically ran itself now.
His wife, Juliet, had a three year old flipped over her shoulder as she spun him around out in the field. She and Jax started taking in foster kids a few years ago, much braver than I would be, that was for sure. I could only imagine how hard it was to have to give the kids up when it was time for them to move on.
Their thirteen year old son, Hawke, stood a few yards away, tossing a football back and forth with my son Kade, while my little sister, Quinn, sat on the grass, ear phones hanging around her neck and drawing pictures in her notebook as she kept an eye on my 6 year old daughter, A. J.
Since Quinn was nearly fourteen now, and old enough to babysit, we'd started keeping her pretty busy. Unfortunately, she'd also started requiring that we pay her, too.
Dylan and Hunter were...
Where were Dylan and Hunter?
I glanced left to right, and then all around me, which I pretty much did every twelve seconds of my life, counting kids and assessing that everyone was in one piece. I finally found Dylan sitting on a blanket with some of her friends.
At twelve, she definitely had her mom's spunk, but she was also burdened with her father's disregard for rules. Hopefully it wouldn't get her into as much trouble as it had him.
Hunter strolled over and pulled his headphones off his neck, nudging Dylan's shoulder as he handed them to her. Without a word, she took them and put them on, as if they'd done this a hundred times before, and she slowly began to bob her head to whatever song he'd wanted her to listen to.
I couldn't help but smile.
Hunter was very different from Kade. Hell, he was different from me, Jared, and Jax, too. He was quieter, gentler, and he took notice of things the rest of us didn't see. And while I used to suspect that Kade's connection to Dylan was stronger, I was slowly starting to understand that maybe-just maybe-Hunter's connection to her went deeper.
She took off the headphones, handing them back up to him with a smile and nodding her head as if giving him the go-ahead. They were working on a video yearbook for their middle school and collaborating on music, so whatever he'd found must've gotten her approval.
I crossed my arms over my chest, watching him just stand there, his feet shuffling nervously as he struggled to find his game.
Not like his dad. I was born ready.
But before he got a chance to say anything, a football came racing toward him, knocking him in the arm. I let out an aggravated breath and watched as he stumbled backward. He righted himself and shot a glare to the field where Kade stood laughing at him. The football had clearly come from him.
A few of the girls around Dylan giggled, as well, and I could see Hunter's chest heaving. He was angry, but he wouldn't do anything.
He never did.
I locked my jaw shut, every muscle tensing. Kade needed a kick in the ass, but unfortunately, Fallon disapproved of abusing the children.
As the boys had gotten older, they got along less and less, and while Fallon and I used to intercede and deal with the situations, trying to make peace, we eventually decided that they needed to work it out themselves. Hunter would learn nothing if we constantly ran to his aide, and punishing Kade only made Hunter feel weak.
Hunter's entire body was stiff, and I could tell he wanted to react, but I could also tell he was embarrassed. People were laughing at him, and as usual, others' rallied in his brother's corner.