He didn't make it far before I stepped in front of him and picked him up, tossing him across my shoulder. He laughed, loud and wild. "Dad!"

"Are you going to brush your teeth?"


I watched Dallas helping Max and Abby out of the cabinet. The three of them were giggling and Dallas fluffed around with Abby's coat buttons. She was dressed like a little snow angel in white cashmere that was more expensive than a small child required. But whatever.

"Bro if you don't brush your teeth, you'll have stank breath and no girls will wanna kiss you."

"Dad," Lucas laughed as I jumped up and down with him still over my shoulder.

"And your teeth will fall out and you'll look gross."

"Okay okay I'll brush my teeth old man."

I put him down on the ground and pointed at the stair case. "Go and brush."

"Brush your butt old man!"

I stared at him as he laughed so hard that he almost couldn't walk upstairs. Kid insults were so stupid that I couldn't help but be amused. I turned back around to find Max standing in front of me. He gave me a wide smile and pointed at his mouth. He was missing his two front teeth. The first one out of the three to have a visit from the tooth fairy.

"I brushed Dad! Even my gums because the dentist said gums need cleaning too."

I held out a palm for him to slap. "You're the man, Max. You wanna go and throw your suitcase down the stairs? I'll put it in the car."

"Okay, Dad!" He shouted as he ran around me. He'd barely hit the top floor when I heard him and Lucas bickering over who was going to throw their suitcase down the stairs first. Lucas couldn't help but be competitive about every single damn thing that went on in this house.

Dallas had stood up and fixed Abby's beanie on her head. My little girl was so much like her mother. Beautiful. Too beautiful. It literally terrified me because when I looked at her, I knew that I would kill anyone who ever hurt her. And that wasn't just a fatherly threat. I'd legit serve time for that girl. Nothing had ever been more important to me. I never thought that I could love someone more than I loved Dallas. But I was wrong. Loving my children was so intense that it scared me.

It was a vulnerability like I'd never felt. I would do anything to keep them safe. All of them. But she was my little girl and I'd do whatever she needed. Even if that required hiding a body where no one would ever find it.

"Daddy," Abby skipped towards me and smiled. "When we go to the snow, can we please build an Olaf. Like in the Elsa movie? And can we please have a pet reindeer?"

I looked at Dallas behind her. "Can we? Do you think a reindeer would survive Texas heat?"

She narrowed her stare and looked outright confused. "We're not getting a pet reindeer."

"Killjoy," I scoffed and scooped Abby up. She gave me that big wide eyed stare, pleading that I take her side. As much as I wanted to give her whatever she wanted, I knew that I wouldn't go against Dallas. Team work and a unified front. All of that. Not to mention it was a fucking reindeer. Bit out there. So I bopped Abby on the nose and kissed her cheek. "How about we visit the reindeer? Might be able to give them some carrots. A sleigh ride if Santa is about?"

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