Hunter: Once Gawky, Once Cocky (musc)

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It was the third weekend of December and the Hardy Christmas Party was in full swing. Every year, the doors of the Hardy manse were thrown open for a lavish, formal extravaganza with dinner and dancing. Sean and Wendy invited their friends and employees annually for a night of holiday cheer and good tidings.

It was not really a party for young children. A babysitter was hired for the evening and the Hardy children were sequestered in the guesthouse with an array of movies and entertainment to keep them occupied.

But this year, the oldest Hardy child was deemed old enough to participate – even though he didn’t really want to.

A fortysomething blonde woman, smartly dressed in a knee-length skirt and cashmere turtleneck, came up to Wendy and embraced her. “Your home is beautiful, Wendy. I love the trees out front, and the centerpieces, my goodness. I cannot believe you just gave birth!”

“Bebe, you’re so sweet,” Wendy reciprocated with a chuckle. “I had a lot of help. Sean made most of the calls this year.”

“Where is he? I haven’t seen him.”

“Oh, I think he’s checking on the kids.”

“I’m sure everyone’s been asking about them, but how are the twins? Please tell me they’re healthy. We must catch up.”

“I’d love that. They are! Thank you for asking. I never get tired talking about them. If I disappear for a while, it’s because I’ll be with them. It’s hard to tear myself away.”

Bebe smiled, nodded knowingly and took a sip of wine. “Wendy, I brought my daughter, I hope you don’t mind.”

“Not at all! Oh, excuse me, I just heard the front door open.”

As Wendy excused herself, Bebe turned and caught sight of her other host, Sean Hardy. She was a happily married woman and was a decade older than he, but he still made her heart flutter, just a little. He wore a well-tailored black suit, white shirt and a bright green tie, and he was so tall, so unbelievably handsome in it. Sean was still a relatively young man – mid-thirties – and it was hard to find any flaw with him. With the face of a god, a body that looked like it belonged in the Louvre, a successful multimillion-dollar business and a beautiful, happy family, Sean Hardy was a man in his absolute prime. His chest looked like it measured sixty inches in the suit jacket.

He saw Bebe and smiled a kneebuckling smile. My God, his dimples. “Bebe, my friend,” Sean said, extending his hand. “How are you? And how’s Bill?”

“Bill’s fine, he’s so sorry he couldn’t come. Business,” she said, with a shrug, and Sean nodded with understanding.

“It gets us all, doesn’t it?”

“Sure does. I brought our daughter in Bill’s place. Didn’t want to waste a perfectly good plus-one!”

“Oh, where is she? I’d love to introduce her to my son. He’s so bored right now,” Sean laughed. “Maybe they could pass the time together.”

Bebe had completely forgotten that Sean Hardy had a son her daughter’s age. So much attention was focused on the new babies – three in three years – that the oldest one sometimes got lost in the clutter. Sean must have been quite young when his first was born…she did the math in her head…God, 21 or so?

“She’s over by the band.” Bebe craned her neck. “I don’t see her…when I find her, I’ll send her your way. Just look for the girl with legs like a colt.”

“Oh, she’s tall?”

“Not to you,” Bebe said with a laugh. “But for a thirteen-year-old girl, she’s got some pretty long gams.”

“Sounds like you have a model on your hands.”

“You know, people tell me that! She’s so thin too. Maybe we’ll try it out one day. It seems like something she’d like.” Bebe leaned in and mock-whispered, “She loves attention.”

Sean laughed. “What teenage girl doesn’t? As long as you keep a close eye on her, I can’t see what it could hurt.”

A half-hour went by. Sean was occupied by his guests, or his children. He had been summoned to the kitchen by the catering staff to open a particularly difficult jar – it was no secret that he was the strongest man in the house – when he spotted a pretty, leggy, and extremely bored young girl.

Sean unbuttoned the collar button of his shirt and loosened his tie. Couldn’t keep a neck that big covered for long, it got far too uncomfortable. He sidled up to his son, who was looking at the pictures of his younger brothers on the mantle. “Hey big gun, see that girl over there?”


“Go over and introduce yourself. She’s your age.”

A sigh. “Do I have to?”

Sean smiled. “Yessir. This is your homework for the evening.”

Another sigh, bigger. “Fine.”

Sean watched to make sure the two connected. He spotted Bebe and directed her attention over to the meeting that was taking place. Both parents smiled.

The boy walked up and looked at the girl, who returned the gaze expectantly. He was suddenly intimidated – she was tall. Taller than him, in fact. He was 5-8, and he stole a quick look down at her feet expecting to see her cheating with heels, but she was wearing flats! And when he looked back up at her face, he noticed how pretty she was. Big, soulful eyes, a perfectly shaped face, and the most beautiful mouth. She looked almost like a doll, like some painter’s vision of how a girl should truly look. He was suddenly very self-conscious, and a little embarrassed – and he never got embarrassed.

The girl felt gawky, like a giantess. Her undeveloped body had no womanly curves to speak of, and she felt like a clothes hanger around all of the grown women at the party. This boy, he was nice-looking, but he was shorter than her. She was used to that – everyone was shorter than her. Her Dad told her that one day the boys would catch her, that she would marry a tall man, but she didn’t believe him at this point.

She smiled at him, and he smiled back shyly, a delicate smirk forming across his lips to hide the braces that he hated so. His shirt and tie hung on him, far too large. He didn’t have the shoulders or the chest to fill it out. She could have stuck two fingers down his shirt collar. His belt wrapped halfway around his waist, cinched tightly, and he had razor burn above his lips.

“Are you gonna say something?”

He shook his head slightly. “Wha?”

“You’re staring at me. Are you going to be polite and say something?”

“Oh, I…I’m sorry.” A deep red filled his cheeks.

She laughed and he saw that she already had perfect teeth. “It’s okay.”

“I’m Hunter.” He extended his hand, the way he saw his Dad do, like he was meeting a business associate.

She was surprised by the gesture, but returned it. “My name’s Katie. Katie Snow.”

“This is my house,” he said next, not quite sure of how to continue the conversation.

“I know. Big. It’s pretty.”

He almost blurted out “Just like you,” but restrained himself. Instead, he chose a different topic. “Where do you go to school?”


“Oh. I go to Kennedy.”

“I know that too, I’ve seen you play football.”

This excited him. “You have?”

“Yeah. You’re good.”

This really excited him. “Thanks!”

“You’re welcome.”

“What do you do at Eastman?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, like, I mean…I play football. What do you do?”

“Oh, right. I-”

The band kicked in and drowned out her words. She smiled, a little surprised at the influx of noise, and waved goodbye hurriedly to head over to her Mom. That was it. Hunter stood and watched her make her way through the crowd of people.

“I don’t think she liked me much, Dad,” Hunter said with slight dejection as he sipped punch and returned to his father’s post. He felt so short next to his Dad, only coming up to mid-chest. Why did he make him so tall again? Jeez, when will I get my height?

Sean clamped a hand on his son’s shoulder and squeezed it affectionately. “Well, there’s plenty more chances. I’m sure she likes you plenty, bud. I thought you’d like having someone your age to talk to. Just give her some time.”

“Thanks,” Hunter shrugged. “Maybe next year. She knew who I was, I felt bad that I didn’t know her.”

“He’s kind of awkward, Mom,” Katie whispered to Bebe as they looked over at Sean and Hunter.

“Oh, but look at his father, darling,” Bebe said with a knowing smile, sizing up the boy alongside the silhouette of ultra-masculinity that was his Dad. “Just give him some time to marinate. I think he’ll turn out very nicely.”

“Maybe. He just stood and stared at me for a few seconds. It was weird.”

“He was nervous. That’s because he thinks you’re cute.”


“Well, you are! And he does, trust me. He’s a thirteen-year-old boy, he’s noticing how cute you are.”

Katie shuddered with embarrassment.

Two years passed. Once again, Bill Snow was out on business right before Christmas. Once again, his daughter took his place.

Katie stood and nibbled on a cheese square while listening to the band, which was now a softer brass quartet instead of an electric-guitar driven rockfest.

“Hi Katie.”

She turned at the sound of the voice, but this time she was the one doing staring.

Hunter had kind of…transformed. He was much taller now. She was 5-10 and wearing kitten heels and he still had a couple of inches on her, so he was probably around six-three. But not only was he taller, he was wider as well. His shirt and tie looked exquisite on him now. He had a thicker neck, stronger chest, bigger arms…

“Just give him some time to marinate.” My God, he really is becoming his father.

“Are you gonna say something?,” he said with a sly smirk. He had initially adopted the expression just to hide his braces, but it quickly became his trademark and he kept it.

“Uh, uh, sorry, hi. Hi, Hunter.”

He smiled. The braces were gone and his teeth were beautiful and straight. His skin was clear now, well-maintained, no sign of razor burn or acne. Even his hair was shinier and thicker. He had one foot in the door of adulthood and it was suiting him well.

“I haven’t seen you in a while,” she said. “You’ve grown up a little.”

“Yeah, I just turned fifteen. You’ve grown up a little, too.”

He hadn’t meant to imply that it was because of the very healthy-sized rack she had grown, but that was how she took it, and she blushed.

“Oh no, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…not that I’m staring, I just meant, you look…” The confident mask melted off, and Hunter stammered once more.

“Thanks,” she interrupted with a laugh before he could dig himself a bigger hole.

He was desperate to change the subject. “Where are you going to high school next year?”


His eyes lit up. “Me too!”

She smiled. She had already known it was where he was going. “I’ll be watching your football games.”

“Do you cheer? You seem like you’d be good at it.”

“No, no, I’d like to, but I can’t. I’d miss too many practices. Modeling stuff.”

“Oh, right, I heard about that. You must like doing that.”

“I really love it.”

“Do any girls give you crap?”

She gave a sly gaze. “Excuse me?”

“Y’know, some girls are really jealous, and you’re so pretty – do they give you crap about modeling?”

Katie ignored the question. “Oh, so you think I’m pretty?”

She had meant it to be a pointed question, one that would disarm him. She was reading him as a jock that wanted to be confident and cocky, but she knew she could go toe-to-toe with him. Her Dad was a football player, she knew the mentality and she knew how to handle it.

So, she was surprised at his absolutely earnest and honest response.

“Yeah, I think you’re really pretty. I think you’re just about the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Her expression lost its edge. This wasn’t a boy who wanted to prove his superiority. This was a boy who wanted to compliment her. He wasn’t saying she was hot or bangin’ or sexy, titles you get with makeup and clothes. He was saying she was pretty, naturally pretty, and he was totally sincere about it. It blindsided her.

“Wow, th-thank you. Thank you, Hunter.”

The next year, Katie wore big-girl heels. She put on a gorgeous cocktail dress – her body looked almost fully developed at just 16 – and the lightest touch of makeup to accentuate her stunning natural beauty. A little mascara, a touch of gloss. She tousled her long blonde hair in the mirror. Size 2 with a D-cup and a stomach to do your laundry on.

“You look amazing, Kate-Kate.”

“Thanks Daddy.”

She just had a feeling something was going to happen at the party and had begged her parents to take her. She saw Hunter around school but it was hard to talk to him. Their paths didn’t intersect a lot.

But she didn’t see Hunter at the party, either. She was too nervous to inquire about his whereabouts, but she wanted to see him up close, just talk a little.

God, what’s wrong with me? Do I like this guy?

Two hours went by and her parents wanted to leave. Katie headed out into a snowy, moonlit night with Bebe and Bill behind her. Her heels clacked down the brick sidewalk of the mansion.

“Dad, where’s our-”

She turned to ask her father where their car was, but her parents weren’t on the sidewalk. She could see them inside through the windows. In their place on the walkway was Hunter, looking quite grown up now, his head framed with moonlight like a halo.

“Hunter,” she squeaked, suddenly nervous.

“Hi Katie.”

“Where have you been tonight?”

“The babysitter cancelled last-minute and our nanny is sick. I was watching my brothers. Put on a suit and tie for nothing,” he shrugged. “But, I…I wanted to see you. My Dad told me you were here and I asked him to keep your parents inside.”

“You did?”

He walked to her and she was staring up at him. The changes were almost eerie – over the course of three years, that slightly awkward boy had metamorphosed into a muscular and exceedingly handsome young man. It was like he was transforming into his father right before her eyes. His jaw was sharp and square now, his eyes sparkling with the same sweet mischief that Sean’s had. And he was so tall – no longer 5-8, that was for sure. He had sprouted almost a foot to six-and-a-half feet, with shoulders wide enough to sit on and a big, powerful chest that pulled his shirt tight.

God, her Mom was right. Her Mom was so right.

“Oh God, you’re shivering. I’m so sorry, I didn’t know it was this cold out here.” He whipped off his jacket without a thought – it was the first year he’d worn one at the party, and it had been tailored to fit his genetic-lotto teenage body. He wrapped it around her shoulders and she looked up at him, stunned by the gesture. No boy had ever given her his jacket. She could see how big his arms were now, with only the white dress shirt’s sleeves covering them. Hunter had the body of a grown man. How could a 16-year-old look like this?

He pulled her into an embrace, wrapping those large arms around her thin body and rubbing his hands up and down her back to keep her warm. She rested her head on his chest, then warmed her hands by slipping them into his pant pockets. She looked up into his face, framed by snowflakes falling around it that gently dusted his black hair.

“Thank you. You’re so sweet. This is like…like a movie,” she laughed instinctively. Nervously. Ugh, Katie, you idiot. “Okay, that was dumb, sorry. What did you want to talk to me about?”

He stepped back, looking at her, how gorgeous she was. Not even the jacket could hide her svelte figure and beautiful young breasts. Hunter had never been so nervous in his life. He opened his mouth and shut it again, knowing he could make this all happen with a thought.

But he wanted it to be real, desperately. He had never wanted anything so much.

“I wanted to ask, to ask...if you would go out with me sometime. Like, on a date.”

He saw her eyes light up, and her mouth slowly form a big grin. “I’d love that.”

“I’d love that too,” he said a little too quickly, with such boyish enthusiasm that she giggled at him. He was adorable, really. He had that whole manly jock thing going on at the surface, but he was so much more than that.

Hunter’s eyebrows raised up and his green eyes shimmered in the moonlight. He was very handsome, she saw, and getting handsomer every year. The way his features complemented each other was wondrous to behold.

And his lips…

“Can I kiss you?”

Her eyes got wide as saucers, and she went speechless. But she nodded, and he delicately leaned down, with one hand on her waist and the other lightly caressing her neck. And their lips touched, beautifully, like two matching puzzle pieces interlocking.

And suddenly, Katie wasn’t cold anymore.


“And that’s how Mommy and Daddy met,” Hunter whispered to Burke, whose eyes were heavy with sleep. The boy was nestled in Hunter’s lap, his upper body propped up against his Dad’s right bicep, with the rockhard muscle acting like a makeshift pillow. Hunter stroked back his son’s dark hair and looked at the tiny face staring up at him. “That night, we would have laughed if someone told us that one day we would have you,” he said, poking Burke’s belly on the word ‘you.’ “You make us so happy. So unbelievably happy.”

“Happy,” the boy repeated groggily.

“Go to sleep, B-boy,” Hunter said with a kiss to his son’s forehead. “You’ve had a long day, champ.”

“I never get tired of hearing you tell that story,” Katie murmured softly from her hospital bed.

“Babe, I didn’t know you were up.”

“I didn’t want you to know,” she smiled. “I wanted to hear the story. I love that story.”

“I love it too. Still can’t believe you married me after that first impression.”

“Morbid curiosity. I wanted to keep seeing how you looked every December,” she said with a wicked grin.

He gingerly reached over, not waking the now-sleeping Burke, and grasped Katie’s hand tightly. “How are you feeling?”

“Like I’ve been pulled in two. I’ve felt better,” she laughed, and he smiled. “I’m so tired. But I feel wonderful. I feel like a mother. Have you gotten to see them more?”

“Yeah. They’re so small. I can’t believe how small they are.”

“And I can’t believe we have four children.”

“I know,” Hunter said softly, followed by a low whistle. “Well, the fun starts now.”

“Tell me.”


“I know you know already. Tell me if they have your…thing.” She laughed with a gesture of her hands. “That voodoo you do.”

It was a very, very long pause. She almost interrupted it, before he said, quickly: “No.”

“No what?”

“They don’t. None of them do, unless it’s progressed somehow. Our baby girl was a pound-and-a-half, I beefed her up to four pounds. But yeah, I thought about altering them…and I could. Kate, I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Is it bad? I’m kind of relieved, on one side, but on the other I’m afraid, afraid Burke will fight with them and change them if he gets mad, his siblings…his own brothers and sister…I just worry…” He trailed off. “I hate this shit sometimes. I just wish I was normal.”

“No you don’t. You really don’t. You wouldn’t have any of this. Don’t say things like that, I know they’re not true, and you know that too.” He felt her hand grip his as tightly as it could. “It will be fine, your siblings have been okay. I believe in us and our abilities. We can handle it…it might wind up being more of your responsibility but I’ll do my best to help and understand. I promise. I mean, we’ve come this far. Ain’t no stoppin’ now!”

He laughed and there was a long pause as he gazed at her lovingly, that stunning girl he’d kissed in the snow, the mother of his children, the love of his life. She completely enraptured him; the one woman – the one person - who could humble him. Not even his mother held such power over Hunter. Katie had just given birth to three children and she still looked sensational, still was joking with him. She amazed him. What a ride it had been, and would continue be. He wanted to call her parents right then and thank them for creating her. My Kate.

“We need to talk about names.”

“Huh?” His thoughts were interrupted.

“Names. We have three children who don’t have any names at the moment.”

He nodded and exhaled. “Names.”

I’m sure she likes you plenty, bud. Just give her some time.


Hunter hadn’t planned on changing anybody this night. He had just met his second, third and fourth children and his mind was in a million different other places. Katie had fallen asleep, his Mom was with Burke, and the triplets were currently in the care of the doctors monitoring them. And suddenly, Hunter Hardy had a few seconds to compose himself.

He walked out into one of the small waiting rooms, placed his head in his hands and wiped the tiredness from his eyes. No sleep tonight, or for the next year, really. He was jubilant, first and foremost. His happiness had a slight tinge of fear, of uncertainty, but he tried to push those thoughts out of his head and focus on the blessings that were being heaped upon him. 4 children before the age of 30 wasn’t something he had particularly wanted, but here they were, his incredible offspring, and they filled him with such bliss that he already couldn’t imagine life without them.

But good God, he was already so tired.

“Dude, are you Hunter Hardy?”

Hunter sighed just a little and looked up to see a teenage kid, probably 17 or 18. He was leaning in toward Hunter, two empty chairs away. When Hunter looked up and nodded wearily, the young man’s eyes widened considerably. “You are! Oh man, what’re you doing here?”

Is that an honest question? Really? “Oh, y'know, just watching my children be born,” Hunter said, trying to hide the sarcasm in his tone. “What about you?” He almost asked if the kid was waiting for his own parents, if he was getting a younger sibling.

“Waiting for my girlfriend, man. I’m a Dad tonight. Having a little girl.”

Holy shit. “Oh. Uh, wow, congratulations.”

“Thanks, dude. It’s a trip.”

“Uh, yeah, sure is. Do you mind me asking how old you are?”

“Seventeen. I know I’m real young. I didn’t really want to be a Dad yet, I didn’t think I was ready, but she wouldn’t take my money. And I’m gonna do the right thing, man, I really am. My parents are helping me out.”

“Wouldn’t take your money? What does that…”

“Y’know, for an abortion.”

Hunter wondered why the hell the kid chose to mention that fact during casual conversation. Didn’t really seem like a subject that just gets brought up, but okay…

He looked well off, some rich kid who had knocked up his girlfriend and thought he would buy his new daughter’s love. The more he talked, the less Hunter liked him. His name was Ethan Tyson. His parents owned a Porsche dealership three miles away and had never talked to him about condoms. He had a completely unearned sense of accomplishment and was thisclose to being a totally self-centered brat.

So, as Hunter heard Ethan’s smooth teenage voice start to show glimpses of a huskier, deeper bass, the quarterback wasn’t at all surprised to find himself changing someone on what should have been his night off. The grey Abercrombie polo shirt began to get tighter as Ethan’s chest started growing…then his shoulders, then his arms, then his back.

The boy was getting older. His eyes began to show signs of crow’s feet, his hairline started to recede at the temples. His cheeks got darker as whiskers appeared, set to grow.

Ethan’s prattling amused Hunter, who watched with interest as always. The kid just kept talking. “She told me about the baby before fifth period geometry, shitty huh?” The voice was a rough, gravelly rumble now. “I mean, she coulda at least waited until the end of the, of the, the…um, the…whoa…” Ethan had caught sight of his bicep straining in its shirt sleeve. The engorged muscle slowly grew bigger, enlarging from the size of an orange to a big pumping cantaloupe. Ethan watched, mesmerized. Small tears appeared in the fabric, then the seams began to pop as his now-enormous arm freed itself from its confines.

“Changing,” the young man muttered. He formed his hands into fists and opened them, closed them and opened them again. Veins forced his skin outward painfully. His fingers got wider and flatter, and his hands felt like hard rough plastic to the touch. Hair sprouted across the back of his palms and fingers as calluses and cracks and scars mottled his skin. Twiggy forearms became as thick as tree branches, and just as strong.

“Arms, my arms,” Ethan said with pride, checking out the bodybuilder-sized guns he now sported. He moved them around with joy, running his enormous hands up to his chest right as it expanded outward magnificently. Two rounded pectorals burst forth from the flat plane, and as they grew, they got more square and symmetrical, with striations in the muscle visible through his shirt’s open collar. The upper muscles puffed out so far and wide that they forced his narrow shoulders to start widening, simply to make room for all the mass Ethan was packing on.

His pecs had a solid two-inch overhang, jutting out like square granite cliffs. They matched his bulky and buffed arms perfectly, enormous and vascular, a laborer’s body. Shoulders flared out large and looming, taking every muscle in his back with them. Ethan craned his neck to one side as he felt the shirt begin to rip from the force of his growth. His lats heaved with power, and his traps were like mountains connecting to a neck that was twice as wide and half as long as it had been.

“Different, different now, changing,” Ethan repeated to no one but himself, caught up in a world that consisted solely of him and his body. He was looking as wide as a barn door. His waist was considerably thicker than it had been - and still growing, snapping his leather belt and bursting the waistline of his shorts - but his back was still so broad that he managed to have a considerable taper despite his thick, adult waistline.

One massive hand gripped onto his exploding, clothed cock like it was a steel bar; the other was flicking a very hard nipple that was clearly visible through the translucent grey mesh. Ethan moaned with excitement. His balls got so large that he had to move his legs further apart to accommodate them, his dick expanded several inches longer down the side of his leg. His thighs were now so wide that his shorts barely had enough room in the leg openings for them, and his calves had tripled in girth so quickly that the muscles cramped from the sudden rush.

He was a very large, wide man, and looked wider because his once-lanky body had shrank four inches to a manageable, and compact, 5-9. Ethan’s face was no longer teenaged. Lines of age set onto his skin, as weathering took its toll. His nose reddened slightly but also got smaller on his face as his jaw became thick and wide, like the rest of his body. He had a very pronounced bone structure, burning hazel eyes under a very pronounced brow. His lips thinned with intensity, and he grew a trim beard that matched his shortly-cropped hair – brown at the roots, almost blond at the tips.

The Abercrombie duds were also gone. Instead of a grey polo, adult Ethan wore a tight, plain white t-shirt with a collar that was barely wide enough to accommodate his thick wrestler’s neck. If his jaw hadn’t been so wide and chiseled, the neck would be wider than the head, but his broadly masculine face offset it and instead of looking like a giant, he looked like a superhero. The white tee was ridiculously tight, just like Ethan liked it. His waist was actually about 35 inches, but when his Atlas-like shoulders and lats were showcased by tight clothes, he looked so fucking sexy. His board shorts were now loose-fitting and light-washed jeans, with considerable wear on the knees and numerous tears. Mud was splattered on the cuffs. And instead of Puma kicks, Ethan wore shoes he had never given a second glance to before – steel-toed workman’s boots, laced up to his shins.

On his new pants, there was no hint of the wads of cum that had been all over his shorts. Ethan stretched his muscular, masculine body and smiled as he looked down on it. His teeth were too white – bleached, a necessity after years of early morning coffee. But they were straight, and they looked good. He blinked a couple of times and then looked back up Hunter, finally exhaling.

“Sorry, Mr. Hardy, had a little rush there for a second.”

“No problem, Mr. Tyson.”

“Oh, hey, please. Call me Ethan.”

“Well then, call me Hunter.”

“You got it.”

Hunter sized up Ethan. Of course, he was handsome, militaristically, like a cartoon GI Joe with arms as big as his head. Very sharp features, angular and manly. He looked like a man who loved to work, who spent all day at physical labor and then still went to the gym after he had punched out. The laugh lines and the forehead wrinkles, maybe from too much sun as a teenager, actually looked really good on him.

Ethan Tyson was a construction worker now, and a damn good one, on his way to being the foreman. He was only 26 but a tremendously hard worker and an asset to his crew, and people usually assumed he was in his thirties. He would be at construction sites before the sunrise, where he worked until the late afternoon, and then he’d go to the gym for cardio and free weights to hit any muscles that needed it that day. And then he’d drive his truck home and see how his pregnant girlfriend was doing. He doted on her.

“I came from the site as soon as I heard,” Ethan said with an excited smile. “I’m pumped to be a Dad. I wish I could be in there but there isn’t enough room for me. I didn’t expect a baby, and as soon as I heard she was pregnant, I thought I wouldn’t be ready. Twenty-six. I know I’m real young. We’re not married yet either. But now, now that she’s almost here, I AM ready. You know that feeling?”

“Oh, very well.”

“I thought so. I think every man has it. I wanna get a tattoo of her name, right here,” he said, grasping part his massive upper arm. “And above it, I’m gonna get her little handprint, on my shoulder,” another motion, to the spherical deltoid topping his hunky physique. “I can’t wait to call my folks when she arrives. We need another girl in the family.”

“So do we. I have five brothers and one sister, and the first grandchild was a boy too!”

“Well, at least the Hardy name will be continued, huh?” Ethan cracked a very jocky grin.

“That’s for sure. Hey man, my best friend had his first at 21. 26 is a cakewalk. You’ll do great.”

Ethan smiled but couldn’t respond before a nurse appeared in the door. “Mr. Tyson?”

Ethan’s head shot up at the sound his name. “Yeah?”

“There’s someone that we think you’d like to meet.”

Ethan’s face glowed as if basking in sunlight. He eased onto his feet and the nurse stared at his arms, which were perfectly accentuated by the sleeves. He had a big grin on his face as he waved at Hunter, before disappearing down the corridor to meet his wanted, and well provided for, new baby daughter.


Neil walked in with Lachlan holding his right hand and Leighton holding his left. He gripped them both tightly. As he was ushered to the private ward, the first person he saw was Wendy Hardy with Burke.

He hugged her tight. “Mrs. Hardy, it’s been so long!”

“Oh, it’s Wendy, Wendy, dear,” she said, placing a hand on his arm maternally. “You have children of your own now, we’re long past Mrs.”

She sat down in the ward’s chair and reached for the youngest Blue. “You must be Leighton,” she cooed, and as the boy settled into her lap, he nodded confirmation. “You look just like your Daddy. I’m Wendy.”

“Hi,” the small voice rasped. Lachlan smiled as he watched his brother, and the expression did not go unnoticed by Neil. It made him smile too.

“And how old are you, Mr. Lachlan?”

The small chest was held high and proud. “I’m seven!”

“Going on eight,” Neil said with a hand on Lachlan’s shoulder. “He’s growing up so fast, I can hardly believe it.”

“One day I’ll be as big as you, Dad.”

Neil grinned competitively, remembering his 2-inch height advantage well. “Oh no, I’ll keep growing too, you’ll never catch me.”

“Nuh uhhh.” Lachlan shook his head with a big grin.

“Seven, wow, you’re about the same age as my youngest.”

Lachlan remembered playing with Wendy’s youngest, vaguely. “Her name’s Hailey, right?”

“Hailey, yes. She’s a cutie, isn’t she?”

Lachlan shrugged indifferently, which caused Wendy to laugh out loud. “You relish that casual attitude while it lasts,” she said to Neil. “My boys used to be like that. Now I can’t keep count of all the pretty girls I see traipsing around my house! And where is your wife?”

“Morning sickness,” he frowned. “Baaaad morning. She felt great last night, then, wham.”

They were interrupted as Hunter rushed into the ward and gave Neil a huge bearhug. It lasted a long time.

“How are you?”

“Best I’ve been in my whole life. Come meet them. They’re amazing.”

The Blue boys were left in Wendy’s care; Bebe was there too. Neil walked into the hospital room and saw Hunter scoop a baby into his arms. “Hunter Sean Hardy, Junior. The firstborn triplet.”

“He’s got that mouth of yours already and he’s a day old. Hi, little guy,” Neil said as he rubbed the underside of his finger across the wrinkly new skin. “Welcome to our world.”

“He was two pounds. I boosted him up to six.”

“Wait, they don’t have…”

“Nope, none of them. Maybe because they’re premature. Maybe it’s only passed on once. We don’t know.”

“That’s so weird. I don’t know what to make of it.”

“It’s already been good. This little dude was having some kidney problems that I could fix immediately. They’re all healthy as can be now. Come meet the other two.”

Katie held two babies and looked utterly at peace. “They’re all so quiet. Well, at the moment.”

“This is my daughter,” Hunter said, touching the infant’s head with the same tenderness that coated his tone. “Lily Kathryn. She was the smallest.”

“The first girl in our group. No pressure, huh? Hi, Lily.”

“We originally had Diana picked out but she just wasn’t a Diana, she was a Lily, a little flower. We wanted something really girly, something pure, pretty and sweet.”

“Like she’s gonna be.”

“Hope so. No softball pitchers here,” Hunter joked, and they all laughed. Neil looked at the other bundle in Katie’s arms. The blanket was blue. He was the second male triplet, Hunter Junior’s sure companion.

“And who is this handsome guy?”

Katie grinned up at Hunter. “Well, we talked about naming him William, after my Dad. It just didn’t seem right, though. He doesn’t seem like a William or a Billy. Hunter was insistent that Scott be the middle name. I wanted a family name, something meaningful, and so did Hunter.”

Hunter leaned down and picked up his son, then placed him in Neil’s surprised grasp.

“This is Neil Scott Hardy. He’s named after you.”

Neil’s tongue tied for several moments as he stared into the tiny face. “You…you guys, you shouldn’t have! Burke’s middle name is already Neil, that was more than enough, I mean, I…thank you. You shouldn’t have!”

“Oh please don’t make us change it, it’s the only one we agreed on for him.”

Neil laughed. “I would never. He, he has my name...their names are Hunter and Neil, I love it, I love it.”

“That was on purpose. I want him to be as good of a man as you. I want them to be as close as you and I are,” Hunter said as he held baby Hunter. “Brothers.”

“Brothers,” Neil said, holding in tears ably. “Brothers. Best friends.”

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