WILDER:The Mountain Man's Babies(7)

By: Frankie Love

“Are they alive?” I ask, trembling on the words I can’t believe are my own.

“Just get to the hospital. I’ll meet you there.”

I slam my hands against the steering wheel. Then I turn on the engine and wonder what is left of my family.

The funeral is frigid. Snow is still on the ground and I wish there were something to make it melt away, to make all of the last few days fade into oblivion.

Most of the time I’m grateful my parents, rest their souls, died the way they did. They were in a fatal car wreck, just like Jasper and Tracy, a tragic coincidence, but they were dead on arrival.

Tracy and Jasper were in surgery by the time I arrived at the hospital. Twelve hours later, they both died on operating tables, in the same wing of the hospital. Their bodies broken, their hearts stopped, and yet they were just across the hall from one another.

And now they are buried beneath the snow, and my mind works to memorize every detail of our lives together because their babies are going to need me to remember.

“Wilder,” Jaxon says, as we head to our vehicles after the service. It’s just such a fucking waste. “The girls are at our cabin. You gonna be okay to drive?”

I nod, needing to be alone for a few more minutes. Knowing it’s the last time I’m gonna be alone for a real long time.

Harper is spoon-feeding Briar and Finn when Jax, Buck, and I arrive. Rosie is stirring a pot of soup on the stove, and the children are in various states of play. Some are crawling, some are swaying in a swing, and some are stacking Duplo blocks.

“Hey boys,” Harper says, setting crackers on my niece and nephew’s high chair trays. “You look like you could use a drink.”

Jaxon nods and grabs us beers from the fridge.

“Did it go okay?” Rosie asks, pulling out a warmed loaf of bread from the oven.

I nod tightly. “It was cold as fuck. Sad as fuck too.” I look around the room at all the kiddos and apologize for my language. We all talk shit, but we try to keep it clean around the kids.

“It’s okay, Wilder. We know you’ve had the worst week out of anyone.”

I look over at Briar and Finn. “Not anyone. Those two lost their parents. How am I supposed to explain that to them?”

As Rosie ladles soup into bowls she answers me, “That isn’t something you need to worry about for awhile. Right now, you just need to focus on making sure they are loved and taken care of.”

I take a long pull from my beer. “That’s the hardest part, though. I’m in so far over my head.” Being the only family these two have, they are now in my care. I am their legal guardian. Their parents’ will plainly stated they were to be mine, which is no surprise. I’m their godfather... but also now their parents’ replacement.

Jasper and Tracy are gone. Fuck.

“The thing is,” Buck says, squeezing my shoulder, “you’re not in this alone. We all have your back.”

“And we’ll help with childcare for as long as you need,” Harper adds. “You already have an ad with a nanny agency. I’m sure they will find you someone in no time.”

I nod, numb to my reality. “They’re just so small.” We all turn to look at the six-month-old twins. I am going to do everything within my power to be the man they need.

“You can take a few months off work,” Jaxon adds. “The reality show won’t start until summer anyways when the ground is dry and good for building, that’s a good four months away.”

I raise my eyes to the ceiling, trying to keep my head on straight. They’re right of course. I have them to help me through this, and a job that will be waiting for me once the dust settles.

“It’s gonna be okay, Wilder,” Harper says, lifting Briar from the highchair and handing her to me. “Just take one day at a time.”

Rosie takes Finn from his chair and wipes his face clean with a washrag before setting him in my other arm. “See, you have two arms, you can take care of two babies.”

I swallow, wishing like hell I had a woman to help. And it’s not the babies I’m talking about needing help with. I mean I wish I had a woman who was here to hold me like I’m holding these two.

Because damn, I could really use some tender loving care right about now.

Chapter Six

Meeting Wilder changed my life.

I walked out of the hotel room, swiped power-red lipstick on in the elevator, and went back to the conference room where our interview was held.

The producer, Janice, who had escorted me out looked surprised to see me, but I was all-in, all business, and not leaving without the gig.

I could do this.

Heck, I’d unabashedly gone door to door asking for old furniture I could reupholster when I still hadn’t landed my first gig out of college. I’d knocked on the doors of design firms and gave them my pitch, desperate to break in the field. I could certainly muster up the courage to meet with this Los Angeles television crew.

This isn’t necessarily a job I was made for – but I want to see my sister with her jaw agape. I want to make it on my own, without anyone’s help.

And I did.