Chapter One

 

LOGAN TRUDGED through the snow to the Roasty Bean, ready for a hot drink, a sit, and some quality time with his godson, Dylan, and his good friends. His daughter, Sarah, who usually spent alternate weekends with him, was with her grandparents this time, and he was at loose ends. That wouldn’t be true for much longer.

Stop it, he told himself. Be good. Be focused. The guys will… help. Give advice. Something.

“Logan! Logan, is that you?” Dirk was there, coming up behind him pushing a covered stroller.

“Yeah. Come on. It’s cold.” He waved and grinned, already feeling better.

Dirk increased his pace, catching up with him easily, and Logan helped the guy maneuver his stroller into the coffeehouse. Little Melinda, Dirk’s preschooler, remained fast asleep, not even seeming to notice the switch from cold and damp to beautifully warm. Sweet baby girl.

Zack waved to them from the far side of the counter as the door closed behind them. “Hey, guys! The usual?” he asked.

“Can I have mine with whiskey?” Logan teased.

Zack’s eyebrows went up, and Dirk gave him a look. “Has that got something to do with Sarah not being with you today?” Dirk had only been coming to the Teddy Bear Club for a few months, but he’d picked up on the routine pretty quickly. Sarah’s school let out early on Fridays, and she was almost always with Logan.

“Nonsense. She’s with the grandparents.”

“That’s good of you—letting them have her on your day. I know how precious time with her is.” Dirk pulled the cover away from the stroller to check on Melinda before parking it behind his chair and sitting at the big round table where they met every Tuesday and Friday.

“It’s my mom’s birthday. They’re having a spa day and then a slumber party.” Logan went to pay for his coffee. “Where are Dev and Aiden?”

“Apparently Dylan is cutting teeth and being ugly. I told them to come anyway and I’d work my magic on him, so they still may show up.” Zack gave him his change.

“Oh, my poor godson!” He grabbed his phone and texted Dev immediately.

bring me my baby boy

you’ll be responsible

yep

seriously—teething

bring him

t-e-e-t-h-i-n-g

do eeet He wasn’t taking no for an answer.

lol k u asked 4 it

He had. More than anyone understood. God. He shook himself and went over to sit next to Dirk, whose little girl was still asleep. Hopefully she’d wake up before Aiden and Dev arrived because Aiden’s Lindsay wasn’t going to be happy Sarah wasn’t here today—she had a bad case of hero worship going for the older girl. Linds would be even sadder if Melinda was out of commission too.

Dirk gave Logan a warm smile as he took a seat. “I didn’t make it on Tuesday,” Dirk said, “so I’ve been looking forward to this all week.”

“Yeah? Me too,” Logan agreed. “Seriously. I’ve been busy, but I really needed this today.”

“I like that we can come even without the kids, that we get to be teddy bear dads even if we don’t have the teddy bears with us.” Dirk shook his head. “I’m not sure that came out like I meant it.”

“Well, mine is growing up on me, that’s for sure.”

“I can’t imagine Melly being ten. I want to freeze her right where she is. Or maybe take her back to when she was a baby. It feels like forever ago and not long enough at the same time.”

“Yeah, I know.” Logan sighed deeply, shook his head. God, he needed to talk to the guys. Everything anyone said brought his mind right back to his situation.

“You okay, man? That was a huge sigh.” Dirk gave him a sympathetic look.

“No. No, I’m really not.” He shocked himself with the admission. He didn’t know Dirk all that well. Not like he knew Aiden, Dev, and Zack.

“It didn’t seem like you were. What’s up?” Dirk sounded honestly curious, and his expression was sympathetic. The guy really was easy to talk to.

“I—” Logan opened his mouth to spill everything when the newlyweds, Aiden and Dev, walked into the shop. “My godson! More teeth!”

Dev looked a little haggard, testament to how badly the teeth-cutting was going. He handed Dylan over without a word, and Logan took him happily. He adored his godson.

Aiden gave him a wry grin. “You want to spend the weekend with us, looking after McFussypants here?”

“You be nice to my baby boy.” Logan nuzzled in, enjoying the lovely baby scent and bouncing Dylan easily.

Dev chuckled as Aiden got the girls out of their coats and then carried baby Bee over to the play area while Linds ran to join Zack’s twins, Marci and Missi. Melinda woke up at the sound of the other girls squealing, and Dirk grabbed her before she could start crying.

“I play too, Da!”

Goodness, such a pretty girl. Logan loved her dark curls and eyes.

“Of course you can.” Dirk set her down again, and she rushed over to her friends. Dirk shook his head. “She always has a tiny moment of panic when she wakes up, but then she’s bright and eager. She doesn’t even need coffee.”

“Everyone needs coffee,” Zack, who had come over to join the group, asserted in mock outrage.

Dylan started fussing, and Logan put his knuckle on those sore gums. Dylan had quite a few teeth already, so he had to find the place where the new tooth was coming. It took a moment, but when he found it, Dylan calmed down for him immediately, those big blue eyes gazing up at him.

“Sweet baby boy.”

“Everyone seems to have the magic touch but me.” Dev looked a little put out, but Logan knew his friend didn’t really mind. When Dev had first joined their dad meetings, he’d been on edge from being responsible for his sister’s abandoned baby boy. Dylan had clearly picked up on that and been overly fussy with Dev, while Logan and Zack, in particular, were able to calm him. Dev was fine now that he and Aiden were together but occasionally backslid when a minor crisis occurred.

“You’re the Jeanette-whisperer.” Logan winked at the barista, who was busy filling their orders. “I know you get the best coffees.”

Dev grinned. “Is that your way of asking me to go see why your coffee isn’t here yet?”

Aiden came back over and studied Logan. “What’s wrong?”

“What do you mean?” He went for innocent.

Dirk, Zack, and Dev all turned to look at him, and Aiden snorted. His best friend knew him well.

Aiden raised a single eyebrow, the annoying ass. “Something’s wrong. Spill.”

“I….” Logan took his coffee and sat, baby Dylan in his arms giving him comfort. “I’m going to foster a set of triplets. They’re two days old. I’m supposed to pick them up Monday.”

There. He’d said it out loud. He’d gone through the foster-parent classes without telling anyone because he knew he could do this. He could.

Maybe.

Oh God.

All four of them stared at him openmouthed, clearly stunned.

“I-I wanted to foster a kid, maybe a teenager, so I took the classes and finished them Wednesday. They called me this morning.” Three newborns—two boys and a girl. He didn’t even have a car seat, let alone three, but those babies needed a home, and he was available. Maybe it was meant to be. He’d only just finished the classes, and they’d warned him that it could be months or even years, though it was likely to be sooner. Sooner had won out in a big way.

Aiden pulled himself together first. He came over and hugged Logan tight. “Congratulations! I didn’t even know you were looking to foster.” Then Aiden laughed, gave him a wink. “I have to tell you, though, three newborns are not a teenager.”

“No. No, they’re not. I haven’t….” He sighed, staring into Aiden’s eyes. He’d been as shocked as his friends were now when he got the call for babies instead of an older kid. And so soon after completing the courses and paperwork. “I have no idea what to do.”

“Of course you do,” Aiden insisted. “You’ve done this before. And you’ve got, what? Three days and four friends right here to help you.”

His other friends all nodded and made noises of agreement.

“Lists,” Dirk suggested. “The first one should be a list of lists. Then you fill them all out, and then you start crossing things off as you do them.”

“You’re obviously going to be good with newborns,” Dev noted, nodding at Dylan fast asleep in his arms. And sure, Dylan wasn’t quite a newborn, but he’d only been a few months old when Dev started bringing him to their meetings, and he was still little. Not as little as newborn triplets, though. Logan didn’t know if Dylan had ever been as small as those three.

“You guys should see them. They’re beautiful, tiny little redheads.” The social worker had texted him a picture. He was pretty sure they’d known that all he needed to do was see them and he’d say yes. Which might have been dirty pool, but the babies clearly needed care. A home. He didn’t know the circumstances behind the mother not being able to keep the babies, but they needed immediate care, and the social worker had told him that if his fostering led to adoption, that would work well for everyone all around. Adoption. Him with three babies of his own. It was a reach from expecting to foster an older kid or two, but he wasn’t running away screaming from it either.

“You’re in love already,” Zack accused.

“Who would have thought the big bad lawyer was such a softie?” Dev asked.

“Are you taking time off work?” Dirk wanted to know.

“I’m taking a six-month sabbatical. Then I’ll find a nanny, I guess.” He wasn’t sure if six months would be long enough. Or if he could do without a nanny before then. He imagined he’d find out pretty soon after picking them up.

Aiden gave him another hug, then sat back. “So, what does Sarah think of this development?”

“She loves it. She hates it. She hates me. She loves me.” And that had been in the short amount of time that she’d known.

Aiden huffed out a laugh. “That sounds about right.”

“So you just had to go and top me, eh?” Zack shook his head. “I have twins, so you go and get triplets.”

They all laughed at that, and Dirk pulled a notepad and pen out of the back of his stroller. “What? I like paper for lists. It’s more satisfying crossing stuff off than putting in a little tick on an electronic one.”

“I…. You guys think I can do this?” Their easy acceptance made him flush with pleasure. The fact that they were all ready to jump in to help reinforced what good friends they were.

“Of course we do.” Aiden patted his shoulder. The others all nodded and voiced agreement. “And we’ve got your back.”

“I am going to kick your ass for keeping it all a secret, though,” Zack said. “We’re your friends, dork.”

He didn’t have an answer for that, except that he’d thought he’d have time after he finished the courses to bring it up. Who could have guessed they would have tapped him right away? Obviously not him.

“All right. Two and a half days before you have newborn triplets. Let’s get these lists made. You have stuff to buy, and some of it has to be in place before those babies show up.” Dirk put “list of lists” at the top of the first piece of paper, then wrote “furniture” before turning the page over and writing “furniture” at the top of it. “Crib. You putting them all in one?”

“I don’t think I’m supposed to, right? Zack?” Lord, he needed a changing table, clothes, car seats, diapers…. Help. Dirk was right. He needed lists—lots of lists.

“Yeah. They won’t all fit in one as they get older anyway.”

“So three of everything.” Aiden waved at Dirk, who wrote it down, and like that broke the dam, all the guys began calling stuff out, Dirk writing like a man possessed.

“Aiden and I have all the newborn girl and boy clothes you could need. It’s all boxed up for charity. It can be yours.”

“Thanks, Dev.”

Aiden’s eyes twinkled. “Not that we can’t go shopping for a few new things….”

“Oh, Melly would love to go shopping for baby clothes. In fact, I think she’ll be fascinated by the whole baby thing. We’ll be able to help you out with childcare,” Dirk offered.

Aiden nodded. “You’re going to need a lot of support at the beginning.”

Dev snorted, making little Dylan jerk in Logan’s arms. “And the middle and the end. But you were all here for me. I’m totally going to pass it on.”

“I’m happy to help,” Aiden added.

“I have to run the Bean,” Zack said, “but you know I’ll help as much as I can.”

“Thank you. All of you.” Logan was so scared. Unbelievably. He was giving up his life, his job, possibly his relationship with his daughter, for three babies. Three babies without anyone to love them. There was no way he could have said no. It wouldn’t have been right.

“You’re a great dad,” Aiden reminded him.

“A wonderful goduncle,” Dev added.

“And a good man with amazing friends, if one of them does say so himself.” Dirk looked at him with a warm smile and admiration in his eyes.

“Well, I…. Okay, let’s do this. I’m ready.” More ready now than he’d been twenty minutes ago anyway. Their support made a huge difference.

“All right.” Zack lifted his coffee mug. “To new beginnings.”

“To….” Aiden tilted his head. “Do the babies have names?”

“No.” And suddenly he was frozen. Completely frozen.

“Poor wee things. You’ll discover their names when you meet them.” Dirk patted his hand. “Breathe, okay? We’re all here for you. I’ll definitely help. Melly loves babies.”

“Thank you. All of you.” He sat there quite stunned for a moment, but then he took a deep drink of his coffee. “Really. I couldn’t tell them no. I couldn’t turn them away.”

“See? You’re a good man. And once you have them, you’ll be too busy to worry about anything. Do you want some support when you go pick them up?” Dirk asked.

“What are you going to do? Hire a car?” Dev asked. “Why don’t you borrow our van? Dirk, you can drive him.” Dev was so sweet. They all were.

“It’s spring break so I totally can. And you’ll have the car seats by then.” Dirk sounded confident about that. “We’ll bring Melly—she can fuss over them. What time do you need to be there?”

“At 9:00 a.m. Are you sure? I appreciate it.” Logan’s hands began to shake. He was really doing this. He didn’t know if he was mildly crazy or totally nuts.

Dirk took his hands and squeezed them, warming them. “Hey. You can do this.”

“I’m insane.”

“Yep.” Zack’s hands landed on his shoulders, massaging his tight muscles easily. “And a really, really good man.”

They all laughed, and that had their girls running over to see what was going on.

“Daddy, why are you holding hands with Mr. Logan?” Melly asked.

Logan hadn’t even realized Dirk was still holding on, but he knew it was helping him keep it together.

Dirk answered easily. “I’m helping Logan calm down. He’s got three babies coming to him on Monday, and we’re going to help him pick them up.”

“Babies? Real-life babies?” The little girl’s eyes lit up like it was Christmas.

“Yeah, two boys and a girl.” Logan opened his phone to the picture of them again and showed it to her.

Melly squealed, the noise happy. “They’re so pretty!”

“About time my little Unicorn had some regular boy company here,” Dev noted. “He’s surrounded by girls.”

Aiden snorted. “We still outnumber them, love.”

“Oh. Right. I hadn’t considered that.”

That had them all cracking up.

Maybe. Maybe with the bunch of them, Logan could do this.

Maybe.

Probably.

Maybe.

He hoped.