“Stop eating all the candy,” I tell Clay. He’s our little ten-year-old son and his job today is to help me stuff the piñata for his brothers’ birthday party.
Tristan and Troy are turning four today. They’re the twins that we adopted a few years ago when they were just babies. They had a pretty sad start in life, but we took them in until the adoption could be finalized last June.
“Lemme! Lemme!” Harry, our three-year-old, says as he grabs candy to stuff into the papier-mâché container.
“Gently,” Cam reminds him as he puts the last bit of frosting on the cupcakes for the party. When they’re all together on the serving tray, it looks like a big T-rex. That’s the theme of this birthday party. Cam has spent the past two days carefully preparing this treat for the celebration. He’s an amazing cook and baker.
“Now.” Tristan nudges his brother Troy who goes in for a cupcake.
Cam expertly moves the serving tray out of reach of the boys before they can sneak a treat from him. “I told you two. Not until after the party.”
“Please,” Tristan tries, giving Cam what I call his charmer’s smile. I’m pretty sure he’ll grow up to get whatever he wants in life. Even though he’s only four, he has a gift for influencing people.
There’s a knock at the door and Jonah is racing to answer it. He’s our seven-year-old that we adopted from foster care when he was just two. He’s had some health problems but he’s doing so much better now than when we first found him.
It doesn’t matter if my boys grew in my womb or my heart, I love them all just the same and I know Cam feels the same way. Our house is noisy and loud with five boys all ten and under. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Even on chaotic days like today.
Lincoln and Lucy are bustling into the house with Lyla and Leo, their twins. Lottie is toddling after them, looking sleepy. The twins race to the playroom with Jonah to see his newest game level.
A couple of years ago, Cam bought him a game that lets him design levels for his friends to play and he’s still making new ones. We’re pretty sure that Jonah will grow up to be our little game designer.
Lincoln greets Cam warmly and the two of them start talking shop.
Lucy just rolls her eyes and laughs. She’s eight months pregnant these days and waddles with every step.
I push out a chair for her to take a seat in and she reaches into the candy bowl, pulling out one of her favorites. She unwraps it and pops it into her mouth.
“Not fair! She got candy, Mom!” Clay insists. He looks so much like his uncle did at his age. Sometimes, I see photos from Cam’s childhood and it’s like looking at Clay. He was so delighted when I suggested naming our first son after his twin brother.
“Pregnant ladies get candy. It’s in the rules,” Cam answers. “Now, go help Harry into a clean shirt. The party is starting in just a few minutes.”
The next few hours pass in a blur of chaos, candy, and cupcakes. I take dozens of photos of the kids and smother them with love. It’s still hard for me to believe that just a few years ago, I was homeless and alone in the world. Now I have an amazing brother, a sexy husband, and five precious boys to call my own.
After the party, the guests have left, and I wrangle the boys up the stairs and into their nighttime routines. I put them all into bed which isn’t hard tonight. Because of the day’s festivities, they’re all exhausted and drop right off to sleep.
I go through the rooms, checking on each boy. I adjust the covers over Jonah who likes to sleep with one foot out. I make sure that Clay has a glass of water near his bed, just the way he likes and that the twins have their favorite stuffed animals with them. I pull the books from Harry’s bed because he’s our little bookworm. He’s not old enough to read but he’s constantly thrusting books at his brothers and demanding they read to him.
By the time I make it back down the stairs, an hour has passed, and Cam is wiping down the kitchen counters. Somehow, he’s managed to restore order to the yard and the house in the time I was gone.
“How are you, mama?” He asks with that smile that still melts my heart all these years later. Despite the passing of time, we love each other just as much as the day we got married. Actually, I think we love each other a little more.
Love is a funny thing. It’s a bubbly, tingly feeling in the early days. Then you start to go through real life together and it changes. It deepens and matures. It’s no longer just about the bubbly tingles.
It’s a million little things that once you’d never considered love. Like keeping the lawn mowed every week and taking the kids to soccer practice together and planning birthday parties and having quiet date nights at the kitchen table just the two of you.
“Good,” I purr, accepting the mug of hot tea that he pushes into my hands. He always knows just what I need at the end of a long day. Cam takes time to check in with me, read my mood, and provide for me.
“The boys are going to be talking about this for the next four months,” Cam says. “You really outdid yourself on this one.”
“We outdid ourselves,” I gently correct. Cam was there with me through every part of the planning stage. It’s just one more thing I love about this man. He never leaves me alone in anything.
He always wades into the nitty gritty details—whether we’re talking about fun stuff like party planning or hard stuff like toilet training. He’s there and he’s present, a pillar of strength his family can lean on.
“What if we add one more?” I whisper. I’ve always told him that I want a half dozen. Since Harry’s birth, we haven’t mentioned it again. We’ve been too busy chasing around five boys.
Cam perks up. He’d give me anything I ask for. If I told him I wanted a castle, he’d start researching how to build me one right now. He loves me fiercely and would lay the world at my feet with only a command from my lips. “Boy or girl?”
“I love our big, messy family. But it still doesn’t feel quite complete yet. I can’t explain it but we’re missing one. I want to go for another adoption.” Adoption is a complicated process. Sometimes, it’s hard and it’s heartbreaking. But it’s always worth it in the end when you bring home the little one that’s meant to be yours.
He crosses the kitchen floor to pull me into his arms. “Let’s do it then. I love your big heart.”
I rub his back for a moment then trail my hands lower. In my most seductive tone, I tell him, “There are big things of yours I like.”
He laughs and scoops me up into his arms. He carries me upstairs and we spend the rest of the night making love to each other. When I finally drift to sleep next to my husband, I can’t help but feel like the luckiest woman in the world. This man has been my constant protector and faithful provider. He always takes care of me and our children and I know he always will.
I knew a one night stand with my grumpy boss wasn’t the best idea…but I didn’t think it would lead to a surprise pregnancy with this sexy firefighter.
If you enjoyed Camden and Journey’s story, you’ll love Derek and Wynter in The Firefighter’s Forbidden Fling. Pre-order The Firefighter’s Forbidden Fling for a sweet, sexy firefighter romance.