“Yeah. Whatever.” His eyes go back to his phone.

I know he’s trying to act like he doesn’t care, doesn’t want to know why his mother wants to see me alone, but I know he does.

I stare at him for a moment, feeling an ache so deep in my chest that it would take a miracle to get it out.

Leaving Storm, I walk to Tiffany’s room and push open the door, letting myself in.

Her head is turned, and she’s staring out the window.

She looks so small in that big bed.

She moves her eyes over to me when she hears me enter.

“Hey.” She smiles. “Dr. Munson talk to you?”

“Yeah, he did,” I say gently as I sit down on the chair by her bed.

“You didn’t tell Storm?”

“No.” I shake my head.

“Thank you. I want to be the one to tell him…you know?” She blows out a breath. “But I wanted to talk to you first because…well, I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for us—bringing us here, accepting Storm into your family.”

“You don’t need to thank me.”

“I do. You are a good person, Jake Wethers, and don’t let anyone ever tell you any different. God, back in those early days, you used to terrify me.” She laughs softly. “All that natural confidence and arrogance is intimidating. Yet I still wanted to be close to you. Same with Jonny. Moth-to-flame syndrome with you two. Most girls had it around you both.”

I let out a chuckle. “Not most. All.”

“And there it is.” She laughs again. “I’m glad you’re happy. You picked real well with Tru. She’s amazing.”

“She picked me, not the other way around. And trust me, I’m the lucky one.”

“You’re both lucky.” She smiles again, but then she starts to cough.

Bringing a tissue to her mouth, she coughs into it. I see small speckles of blood on it.

“You need me to get the doctor?”

“No. Just some water.”

I hand her the cup, and when she’s finished, I take it from her.

“Would you grab that envelope for me, over on the table?” She points to a brown envelope by the flowers on the table in the corner of her room.

Getting up, I go over and get it. Sitting down, I hand it to her, but she pushes it back into my hand.

“These are for you, if you want them. I talked to Bob, and he agrees with me. You and Tru have everything to offer Storm. Bob’s old, and of course, he’ll be in Storm’s life, but I want Storm to have a family, a real family, the one thing I never gave him.”

“You gave him a family,” I counter.

She gently shakes her head. “I gave him the best I could, but I never gave him his dad. That was the biggest mistake of my life. If I could change it, I would. But if you want to…I want you and Tru to adopt him.”

I pull the papers from the envelope, seeing the wording at the top.

“Bob sorted it out with his lawyer for me. We’ve taken all the necessary steps, and I have signed all the papers. They just need your and Tru’s signatures now, and then it’ll be legal and binding.”

“Does Storm know about this?”

“He will when I talk to him. I wanted to talk to you first and make sure you wanted him—”

“I want him,” I say without hesitation.

“And what about Tru?” she asks. “Will she be okay with this?”

“Tru loves Storm. You don’t need to worry. Adopting Storm is something Tru and I have already discussed.”

I see the relief flicker through Tiffany’s eyes.

“So, we’re agreed then.”

Putting the papers back into the envelope, I hold them to my chest. “Yeah, we’re agreed.”

She exhales. “Good. Now, would you mind getting Storm for me, so I can speak to him?”

“Sure.” Getting up, I cross the room.

When I reach the door with my hand on the handle, I turn back to her. “Thank you,” I tell her sincerely, “for giving me back…” My words choke in my throat, and I blink the tears away.

“I know,” she says, bringing my eyes back to her. “I just…I wish I hadn’t been that scared kid all those years ago. I wish…Jonny had known him.”

Yeah, me, too.

But wishes are no good now.

Now, we make the best of what we have. And I have Jonny’s son to take care of.

Giving Tiffany a small nod, I press down on the handle and leave the room, my fingers curled around the envelope.

One Week Later

Tiffany passed away two days after she’d given me the adoption papers. Storm, Marie, and Bob were with her when she passed.

This week has been beyond difficult for Storm. But Tru and I have made sure that he knows he has us, that we aren’t going anywhere.

The adoption is in process. I’m having my lawyer work hard to push it through quickly.

Storm came to stay with us the night Tiffany died, and then he asked if he could stay the next night.

He’s been here ever since. I think it might have been too difficult for him to go back to the place where they lived together during these last couple of months. And I think my kids help take his mind off of it, keeping him busy. He and Billy have been spending time in my home studio. He’s been helping Billy with learning how to play the guitar.

Marie is still staying in the house I rented for them. She hasn’t told me her plans yet, but I know, at some point, she will go back to Queens, back to her bakery. At the moment, her presence is a familiarity for Storm, a needed tie to his old life, so I’m hoping she’ll hang around a little while longer.

We had the funeral service this morning. It was small and intimate.

As Tiffany hadn’t had contact with her parents since Storm was born, we’d asked Storm if he wanted to let them know about her death and invite them to the funeral, but he’d said no.

So, it was just me, Tru, Storm, and Marie at the funeral. Tom, Lyla, Denny, Simone, Stuart, and Josh came, too.

We didn’t take the kids to Tiffany’s funeral. They stayed home with Tru’s mom and dad.

And that’s where we are now. Everyone came back to our house for some food, not that many of us feel like eating though.

I’m in the kitchen, pouring myself out a finger of whiskey, when I hear movement behind me.

Glancing over my shoulder, I see Marie. She has a pinched expression on her face. Marie and I aren’t what I would call friends. I’ve felt an animosity from her since the day we met, but she’s important to Storm, so I make nice with her.

“Is Storm okay?” I ask her, putting the bottle down.

“He’s fine—well, as fine as he can be. He’s with the other kids in the game room.”

Picking up my glass, I turn to face her. “You want one?” I gesture to my whiskey.

“No.” She shakes her head. “I was…look, can we talk?”

“Sure. Go ahead.” I take a sip of my drink.

She glances around the kitchen, as though she expects someone to walk in at any moment.

“What I want to talk about…is…delicate. Is there somewhere private we could talk?”

“Outside?” I nod in the direction of the garden.