“We wanted to come see you when you were in the hospital, but Seb…. He thought it would be best if we didn’t.”
Hudson nodded. He shoved his hands into his pockets, regret filling him. “He was right. It would have been too difficult. It was hard enough having him there.” Hudson cleared his throat. “He wouldn’t leave my side.”
Thomas nodded his understanding. “I expected no less of him. Thank you for saving his life. I don’t know what we would have done without either of you.”
Unable to stand the heartache in Thomas’s face, Hudson pointed to the bag behind him. “I made you my Cornish pasties.”
Thomas’s eyes sparkled, and he grinned like a little boy. He put the armrest with the controller down and moved to the table to take the bag and place it on his lap. With a deadpan expression, he met his wife’s gaze.
“If the boys ask, these were never here.”
Hudson laughed, watching as Thomas headed for the kitchen, calling out over his shoulder, “Especially Ethan. That boy eats more than the other two combined. I swear he has a black hole where his stomach should be.”
“He’s a growing boy,” Julia cooed, following Thomas into the expansive country-style kitchen. She took the bag from him and placed it on the island counter.
Thomas let out a snort. “Growing boy my butt. Darling, he’s thirty-six and almost as big as Seb.” He wrapped an arm around her waist and tugged, lifting his face for a kiss, which his wife happily gave. Hudson all but melted, leaning against the counter and wondering how Julia and Thomas did it. They’d been through so much—losing everything, watching their boys have to work before they were of age, working through Ethan’s selective mutism and social anxiety, through Thomas’s condition. How had Julia and Thomas Hobbs survived all that and still looked at each other as if they were falling in love for the first time?
At the first crisis that hit them, Hudson and Seb had crumbled under the weight. Hudson cleared his throat, fidgeting from one foot to the other.
“How do you do that?” he asked softly. Propriety scolded him for being so intrusive and brash, but he was desperate to know.
They turned to him, Julia’s hand on Thomas’s shoulder and her expression tender.
“How do you forge ahead, never losing yourselves or the love you have for each other, after… everything?”
No question what Seb would look like when he got older—Seb and Ethan were both the spitting image of Thomas Hobbs. At sixty-five years old, Thomas was a handsome man, with a square jaw and green eyes that sparkled with life and mischief. His once-black hair was now salt-and-pepper, and although some of his leg muscles had deteriorated over the years due to his condition, he was still a tiger Therian, strong-bodied and strong-willed. Much like Ethan refused to allow his condition to define him, Thomas refused to be defined by his Therian Acheron Syndrome. Life had never been easy for the Hobbs family, but they endured, always together.
“Son, love is a precious gift, but love alone isn’t enough to weather the storms in life. You know as well as I do that life can be hard, messy, infuriating, terrifying, and unfair, and love will certainly help ease the pain,” Thomas said, taking Julia’s hand in his. “But unless you use that love as a foundation to build on, you’ll get swept away in the maelstrom.”
Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.