It's so sad. This is the last chapter of the story. Thanks for all the support.
One and a half months later
"They've gotten so big." Dave said as he picked up one of the babies. "How do you tell them apart?"
Steph smiled. "You have Mr. Aaron Drake Levesque. He has a small birth mark behind his right ear."
"And this is Austin Douglas." Paul said as he pulled the infant from his wife's hands. He grinned at his friend. "Want to try your hand at holding both?"
Dave shook his head as he laughed. "I don't think I'm coordinated enough for that."
"It takes practice." Steph agreed as she got up to answer the door.
"That's probably Jayden." Paul said as he gently rocked the baby. "Is it going to be weird with both of you here?"
Dave shook his head as he watched her walk into the room.
"Paul, give her the baby." Steph said as she bounced in behind her friend.
Jayden immediately started shaking her head. "That's okay." She said waving him off.
"Nonsense. You haven't held them once since they've been born." Steph admonished as she pushed the baby on her friend.
"They've only been home for two weeks." Jayden protested as she gingerly cradled the infant in her arms.
Dave laughed at the look on her face. "They're little aren't they?'
She nodded. "And wet. I believe that's your job Daddy." She said as she happily handed the baby back.
"They probably both need to be changed." Steph said as she gathered her second son into her arms. "We'll be right back."
"You look nice." Dave said quietly once they were alone.
"Thanks." She smiled at him sadly. "It's been awhile. Almost like you've been avoiding me." She said hesitantly.
He frowned thoughtfully. "No, not avoiding you, but not searching you out either. Ball's in your court."
"Hey" Randy said walking into the room. "Door was open…" He trailed off as he studied their faces. "Why do I always walk in when you're in the middle of a serious conversation?" He asked.
"Because it's the jobs of the kids to interrupt adults at the worst possible time." Dave teased raising his eyebrows in amusement.
"I'm not a kid." Randy protested half-heartedly.
"Could have fooled me." Dave laughed as he got up and wondered toward the kitchen.
Randy studied Jayden's sad face. "Did I mess anything up?" He asked softly.
She shook her head as she stared off into space.
"So, do you still want to celebrate?" He asked hesitantly after several minutes had gone by.
Smiling she stood up to join him. "That sounds like a very good idea."
"Where's the babies?" Laney asked as she bounded into the room.
"Didn't you spend a whole week with them, just last week?" Randy asked as he pulled her into a headlock.
"So?" She taunted landing an elbow to his stomach. "I am the number one babysitter you know."
"Well as long as you don't have any of your own I might allow it." He teased.
"She damn well better not." Mark said as he walked up to them.
Laney rolled her eyes. "Aunt Mandy, will you please tell Daddy I'm old enough to date."
She shook her head as she glanced at mark. "I'm not getting involved in this."
Mark slapped a hand over his daughter's mouth before she could respond. "Jayden this is my sister Amanda. Mandy, this is Jayden Anderson."
Mandy's eyes widened at the name. "I can't believe I finally get to meet you." She said holding out her hand. Nobody but Jayden noticed how pale she got.
"You know each other?" Shawn asked as he looked between the two.
"We met in a chat room a couple years ago and we've been corresponding since." Jayden explained.
"What kind of chat room?" Randy asked speculatively.
Jayden smacked the back of his head. "Get your mind out of the gutter." She admonished as everyone laughed. She hung back as the group gravitated towards the kitchen. "You don't look anything like your brother."
"Thank goodness." Mandy gave a strained laugh. "I appreciate you not telling them the truth about how we know each other." She said quietly.
"If this is uncomfortable for you I can leave."
Mandy shook her head. "It's going to be nice to have another friend here." She smiled bravely. "Oh don't they look so cute in their little outfits." She cooed as Paul and Steph joined everyone in the kitchen.'
"They look like elves." Laney observed as she took the baby from Paul. Arms empty he turned to where the food was spread out.
"Is everyone here?' Steph asked as she greeted the newcomers.
"John and Journey aren't here yet." Randy pointed out, his mouth full of nuts. He swallowed hard when Jayden elbowed him in the ribs.
"Steph, I want you to observe this." Jayden called to her friend. "Little boys never grow up."
"At least not Randy." John agreed as he came through the door. He walked over to Steph. "He looks like an elf." He commented as he flicked the pointy hat.
"See I told you." Laney called out.
"They do realize they're going to traumatize those poor babies don't they?" Journey asked as she walked over to Dave.
"They're not even two months old." He drawled as he slung an arm around the little girl at her side.
"Now that everyone's here can we eat?" Randy asked.
Mark turned to stare at him. "What have you been doing for the last five minutes?"
"This is just snacks. I'm waiting for the turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy." He nearly moaned at the thought.
"Don't you eat when you're home?" Mandy asked laughing.
Randy pretended to think about it. "That would mean I'd have to cook."
Paul shook his head and gestured for everyone to head to the dining room. Jayden hung back keeping an eye on Dave. Slipping up behind him she claimed the chair next to the one he had chosen.
"Before we eat." Paul started, ignoring Randy's groan. "I just want to say a few words. These past months have been some of the hardest and most challenging I've ever gone through. As a result this Christmas is very precious and I am happy that I get to spend it with all my family."
Jayden tuned him out as she nudged Dave to get his attention. "Hey, I just want to make sure you're okay with us and about everything that happened." She murmured.
He shrugged. "There is no us and I didn't have any say in what happened. It would be pointless to be angry." He turned back to what Paul was saying.
Jayden frowned in frustration. "What did you mean when you said the ball was in my court?" She asked tugging on his arm again.
He sighed as he turned back to her. "You were the one that decided we couldn't continue. I'm not going to chase you. If you want anything to happen you need to make it happen."
Jayden gritted her teeth as he turned away from her again. She poked him hard in the shoulder.
"Hold up a minute Paul." He called out. "Jayden has something to say to me."
She stared at him in anger. "You are the most stubborn, impossible and down right ornery man alive." She spat out.
"I believe that's a fair assessment." He nodded for Paul to continue.
Jayden slapped her hand on the table. "Would you like to go to dinner with me?" She asked in a rush.
"As a friend?" He inquired turning to look in her eyes. The rest of the table held their breath.
"How hard do I have to hit the damn ball before its back in your court?" She snapped.
He smiled. "I would like to go out with you." He answered. She collapsed in her chair as everyone called out encouragement.
Everyone turned back to Paul, pretending not to notice the bright red blush on her face.
"I just want to say that my sons are thoroughly blessed to have such a large family they can count on and go to. They will never be without love." Steph wiped the tears from her eyes as Paul finished.
"What kind of drugs did they give you during your surgery?" Mark teased. "You've become very sentimental in your old age.
"Actually." Shawn spoke up before Paul could comment. "I think this is the perfect time to be talking about love and family. I've been thinking a lot about this and waiting for the right time. " He pushed his chair back and took something out of his pocket. "And what better time than with our family surrounding us." He knelt down. "Amanda Calloway. Will you marry me?"
Keeping reading as Shawn and Mandy prepare for their wedding. Will her past interrupt the ceremony? Remember back to the first story. She left her job as a nurse under unusual circumstances. And how does and she and Jayden know each other. Will Mark be the lone elder with out love or will he find himself a date for the wedding. And what's up with Randy and John's sister?
Stay tuned for Lonestar Love.