Takes place after the series
There was nothing wrong with a barbecue in someone’s backyard. It was a tried and true tradition that a lot of people loved. But for Braeden, it wasn’t quite enough. He wanted pizazz. It was what he’d given to everyone the year before for Father’s Day, and he hoped they’d return the favor in spades. He should’ve known better, though. His friends weren’t nearly as awesome as he was.
All that meant was that he’d have to take things into his own hands.
He knew for a fact that Gabriel didn’t have any games planned for the barbecue, which was just a disgrace. It was a good thing he’d picked up a pinata and a bunch of plastic airplane-sized bottles of booze. All Gabriel would have to supply was a bat and a blindfold, two things Braeden already knew his friend had at his house.
Braeden also had pieces of paper and a bag of candy for each of the adults in attendance. On their papers was a word they couldn’t say that they’d have to pin to their shirts. Every time they said the word, they had to put a piece of candy into the jar. Whoever had the most candy left at the end of the game won what was in the jar. He’d learned that game from Andi’s baby shower, though none of them could say the word baby during that party. It was harder than he thought, especially when people kept trying to trick him into saying the word. He would have been fine if it wasn’t for that damn Justin Bieber song.
Between those two games and the shenanigans he planned on bringing to the party, Braeden figured things would be a hell of a lot more spirited than what Gabriel had planned. It wasn’t as good as the dance-off he’d had the year before. Or the raucous game of “Who Am I?” he’d organized, but it would do in a pinch.
“Can we go now?” Andi asked from where she stood at the front door, one daughter on her hip, the other standing by her side.
“Yeah, I think I’ve got everything in the car except my beautiful ladies.”
Andi rolled her eyes, but in that playful way she did when she wanted to be annoyed with him, but she couldn’t because he was just too damn charming. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t be mad at him or annoyed with him for long. He knew exactly how to fix things between them, and it wasn’t just with orgasms, although those did the trick more often than not.
Before Andi could say anything else, he picked Penny up and walked through the front door. He waited for Andi and Ruby, then locked the door behind them. The drive to Gabriel and Savannah’s house wasn’t a long one. They all lived in West Seattle now, within a few blocks of each other. If they didn’t have two small children and a bunch of stuff, they could have walked over. He’d had a house a bit further away that he’d bought with a family in mind. But having twins changed everything, and he and Andi realized quite quickly that they’d needed a bigger house. One closer to their friends and family.
Once at the Archer house, he waited for his girls to run inside before grabbing the pinata and the basket of items from the back of his SUV. Andi had taken the potato salad he’d made with her, but he’d wanted to deal with the rest. This was where the party was at, and he wanted everyone to know.
With his arms full, he pushed the front door open with his hip and walked inside; he shut it with a quick hit of his behind, then walked further into the house. It was mostly quiet, with the squeals of little kids coming from the backyard, so he made his way through the house until he reached the open patio doors.
“The party has arrived!” he yelled as he stepped onto the shaded concrete. Even though he couldn’t see very well, he knew the area almost as well as he knew his own house, so he carefully weaved his way around furniture and toys to find a spot to set down his basket.
“Oh no. Braeden, what did you do?” Savannah asked from the large round table that sat in the middle of the space.
“Gabriel said he didn’t plan any games, so I did it for him.”
“I hope that pinata isn’t filled with candy,” Brooklyn said from the seat next to her sister.
Braeden laughed. “Don’t worry my lovely sister from another mister. This pinata isn’t for the kids. They’re all too young to enjoy it anyway. This bad boy is for us, and it’s filled with booze.”
“Now that’s my kind of party game,” Gabriel said. He was standing next to the grill, an apron that said Kiss the Cook covering his clothes.
“I figured you’d be interested in that one, and I also have another game. Even though this one does include candy, it’s adult’s only candy.”
While they all looked at him skeptically, he explained how the game worked then passed out the candies and words. Almost everyone seemed game to play except Declan, which wasn’t that big of a surprise. The man was practically allergic to fun. It didn’t matter, though. Braeden had a way to get his friend to play the game even if he didn’t want to.
“You all know how much I love fun and games. I want us to enjoy the day, and while hamburgers and weenies and beers are great and all, they’re pretty boring in the long run. I’m happy I get to spend the day with all of you, but I’m hoping by the end of it, our stomachs will hurt because we laughed so hard. Is that too much to ask?”
“No, it’s not too much to ask,” Brooklyn admitted. “Declan will be happy to play. Won’t you?”
Declan opened up his bag of whiskey hard candies and looked straight at Braeden. “Sure…pops,” he agreed before throwing one of the candies into his mouth.
“Dude, you’re supposed to put the candy into the jar.”
“Sorry, pops,” he said before throwing another candy into his mouth, then one into the jar Braeden had set in the middle of the patio table.
Braeden rolled his eyes and pretended to pout for a minute, then gave Declan a huge shit-eating smile. Before his brother-in-law could react, Braeden was in his lap, placing kisses all over his angry face. Once Declan realized what was happening, he shoved him onto the ground, which had everyone erupting into fits of laughter.
“Did I forget to tell you? It’s also National Kissing Day. Enjoy the fun I’m trying to bring to celebrate the fruit of our loins day, or I’ll force you to celebrate kissing day again.”
“Father isn’t your word, Braeden,” Savannah reminded him.
“No, but it’s yours. Go ahead and put one of those boozy chocolates in the jar,” he told her. “Now, Declan dear, are you going to behave, or do I need to grab my lip balm from the car?”
Declan glared at him while the rest of their friends and family laughed. This was precisely what he’d hoped for when he’d put together his games for the day. He wanted the laughter and the love and even the scowl he got from his brother-in-law. For so long, he’d felt like he’d end up alone. Now that he hadn’t, he wanted to revel in it all. His friends would just have to deal with the craziness.