Alton, Bobby, and Clyde. Kid A, kid B, and kid C. Although, since Bobby was short for Robert, it was possible that hadn’t been a deliberate point on the part of their birth parents.
The twins’ names were a bit of unintentional prophesy, perhaps, since Bonnie and Clyde would have been apt, had one of them been a girl. Nash’s chest heaved with a weary (but happy…definitely happy) sigh as the pair rolled a striped ball and a bead-filled polka-dotted cylinder toward a looming tower of wooden blocks.
He winced when the structure tumbled to the hard floor, making an “infernal racket”—the adjective was the downstairs’ neighbor’s word, not Nash’s. They’d had a few more choice (and exaggerated) words, probably pulled straight from a thesaurus—or maybe they had one of those word-of-the-day calendars and liked to put it to good use—but the childless couple below wasn’t home at this time on a weekday, so screw ’em.
The boys whooped, celebrating their direct hit, and an alphabet block sporting a “u” and a corresponding unicorn adorning an adjacent side rolled to a clattering stop at Nash’s feet where he stood next to the open refrigerator. He nudged the block, sliding it back toward the twins with a smile.
“Thanks, Daddy!” Clyde snatched the block and ran back to the pile where Bobby was already rebuilding.
Meanwhile, Alton painstakingly pounded out scales on the piano—or rather electronic keyboard, so they could control the volume despite the child’s forceful efforts. The commotion didn’t seem to faze the six-year-old at all. No doubt he was used to it. Usually he was in the thick of it.
Grampy raised his phone, clearly accessing the built-in camera as he scanned it back and forth, taking in all the action.
“Not ready to raise the white flag yet, Grampy?” Nash knew the answer, but it would be fun to hear Grampy’s reply.
Emmitt’s grandfather chortled and shook his head. “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought…”
He said the words like he was quoting something. It did sound a bit like the beginning of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets Nash had been forced to study years ago. He’d have to look it up later to understand the reference.
Nash placed a fresh glass of juice on a coaster near Grampy’s seat. The old man grinned, reveling in the pandemonium that was their new life. It was no surprise that Grampy enjoyed the chaos. Heck, he fanned the flames every chance he got. But there was a method to his madness, encouraging creativity, sparking their imaginations. And he knew how to rein it in when necessary. He loved to sit at the table playing a board game with the kids as they wound down during their after-dinner quiet hours. All in all, Grampy was an invaluable role model for a new parent who’d been thrown in at the deep end.
Back at the kitchen island, Nash took a deep breath, then a sip of his Earl Grey tea, and tension eased from his shoulders as he the pleasant, citrusy, magical brew did its job.
He didn’t even notice the “music” had stopped until Alton asked, “What’s for dinner?” as he stood right by Nash’s elbow.
“Do you want to help?” Nash asked. Alton’s dark head bobbed. He’d taken over from Grampy as a most-willing sous chef, while Grampy dealt with twin control. “Great! We’re making honey-garlic chicken, rice, sautéed green beans, and glazed carrots.”
Alton dragged the step-stool over, and Nash set the little boy to snapping the beans while he cleaned and sliced carrots. Grampy queued up a string of classic Disney songs, and they bopped and sang “The Bare Necessities” as they worked.
Nash jumped and put a sticky hand to his chest when Emmitt murmured, “Planet earth to Nash,” right in his ear.
“Pops is home!” Alton yelled.
“Aw,” Bobby whined. “Is it quiet time already?”
“Not yet,” Emmitt said. “I’m home early.”
The twins cheered and resumed building a trio of block towers. A Tonka truck stood ready for the demolition phase of the project.
Nash lifted his chin for a kiss, and an eyebrow inquiringly. Surgery days ran late more often than early.
Emmitt delivered the perfunctory kiss. “Had a cancellation.” Which was all the explanation Nash would get, thanks to HIPAA. “But I’ve been free for hours.”
“Oh?” Nash gathered ingredients to make the sauces while Emmitt popped a couple raw carrot slices into his mouth.
“I knew early this morning that I’d have half the afternoon free, so I scrolled through Zillow.”
“Ah.” They’d discussed the possibility—likelihood, really—of selling the condo and buying a single-family home. While they’d originally thought continuing to live in the condo was doable, three children sharing one bedroom was a stretch anyway, and the boys were…well…on the rambunctious end of the disposition spectrum, so it wasn’t really the best environment for them—or the neighbors. “Did you take a preliminary look at some, then?”
“Yes.” Emmitt blew out a breath and leaned against the counter. “Thank you for understanding.”
That Emmitt had looked without him? Nash shrugged. “No biggie.” Considering they would either have to take everyone with them or arrange for Percy and Opal to come sit with Grampy and the kids, it made sense for one of them to narrow it down before a joint tour for the final decision. “Find any with potential?”
“One,” Emmitt said. “And ‘potential’ is certainly the key word, because it’s pretty rough.”
“Sure we want to deal with that?”
“It’s a five-bedroom Victorian with over thirty-six hundred square feet in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.”
“Seriously?” Nash put the bowl he’d been stirring aside to focus on Emmitt’s words. He’d reconciled himself to the idea that they’d have to live in the suburbs. “Capitol Hill?” That was just a bit north of where they were now. Emmitt would still be nearby his office and the hospital, and they would still be close to all the entertainment venues and amenities that had drawn them each to downtown Seattle in the first place. They wouldn’t be giving up anything of value.
“Thought you’d like that.” Emmitt’s grin spread. “It would need repairs and renovation first, though. It’s been converted into a multi-family residence, so we’ll have to hire a contractor to reverse that.” Emmitt shuddered. “Not to mention the landscaping.”
Nash bounced on the balls of his feet. With five bedrooms they could have a guest room again if the twins shared a bedroom. But, he grimaced. “Do I want to know what something that big costs.”
“Probably not.” Emmitt laughed. “It seems outrageous given the condition, but we’d be paying for the location and the space. And really…” He bopped his head side to side. “After rolling in the estimated renovation expenses, it’s on par with this condo.”
“It sounds fantastic. I want to see it.”
“I hope you don’t mind,” Emmitt said. “But I’ve arranged another viewing for us this evening. I’ve already called Percy. He and Opal will be here at six-thirty, and we’ll meet the agent there at seven.”
Mind? Nash threw his arms around Emmitt’s neck. Heck, no, he didn’t mind. The house sounded like it would be the best of both worlds—a big home with a yard for the kids, and gardening opportunities for Grampy, all without giving up everything they loved about living in the city. “I kind of want to crack open a bottle of bubbly.” But that would probably jinx them.