Travis Walker sat on the bench, feeling like he was eighty years old when in fact he was only forty-one.
The reason for him feeling twice his age?
Oh, he blamed it on the munchkins. His munchkins. All five of them.
Granted, only four of them were running wild on the jungle gym, acting like heathens. Those rotten monsters. Five-year-old Kate was doing a decent job keeping the other three in line, so at least there was that. Of course, three-year-old Kade wasn’t fond of his stand-in babysitter—how he saw his older sister most of the time—so he liked to pout. Two-year-old Avery, well, she was a free spirit, the sort who could go with the flow. So much like Gage, she was. And Haden, he was a going to be a hell raiser, that one. The youngest, Maddox, who would be one in a little more than a month, was sitting at Travis’s feet, shaking a fire truck like it had done him wrong.
“What in Hades are you doin’ out here all by yourself?”
Travis peered over his shoulder to find Kaden and Keegan, two of his many cousins, strolling over, presumably to save the day.
Yes, that was a huge sigh of relief that escaped Travis, but he wouldn’t let anyone know it.
“I’m a glutton for punishment,” he admitted.
“Where’s Kylie and Gage?” Kaden asked as he took a seat, smiling down at Maddox who instantly pulled himself to his feet to greet the man, bouncing like his legs were pogo sticks.
“They went shoppin’,” he grumbled.
“Clothes shoppin’? Mattress shoppin’? Car shoppin’?” Keegan probed.
“Grocery shoppin’,” Travis admitted.
Keegan snorted. “More like they were hopin’ for some alone time.”
Travis glared at the man, but immediately schooled his expression. Keegan was his savior, the man all these rugrats thought hung the moon. The last thing he wanted to do was piss him off and have him running for the hills.
But Keegan was also right. Gage and Kylie had wanted some alone time. And that was likely why he had a burr in his butt. Not because they were alone. That was something they all angled for from time to time. More that he wasn’t at home where he could sneak a peek at the two of them because holy hell when those two were tog–
“Uncle Keeg! Uncle Keeg!” Kade came running, arms flailing like a banshee.
“What’s up, lil man?”
“Come play with us!” he insisted.
Keegan’s movements were dramatic when he planted his hand on his chest. “Me?” His hand gestured toward the jungle gym. “On that?”
Kade nodded ecstatically.
“For real? You want me to join in the fun?”
More enthusiastic nodding.
Keegan pretended to consider it. “I don’t know. You think I’ll get stuck?”
“If you do, we’ll pull you out,” Kade promised.
Like they’d done the last time.
Yeah, thank God for Keegan Walker. The man was his saving grace.
Meanwhile, back at Travis’s house…
“Oh, my God,” Kylie sighed, turning the lights down low. “This is … heaven.”
“Won’t argue with you there, baby,” Gage said. “Now come here.”
Kylie headed for him, getting situated on his lap, sinking into him and the luxurious leather recliner while they settled in for popcorn and a movie. In a house that was free of kids, for at least two more hours.