Our little cabin in the woods has never been noisier. When they were younger, I could’ve sworn Ryker, River, Roman, and Robin had broken the sound barrier regularly.
That was before I knew what the next generation was capable of doing. Every last one of them has the Prince family’s hazel eyes and sense of adventure.
And, somehow, each of them has a name that begins with the letter R. Without repeating, to boot.
When one of the young Princes—I think it’s Ryder—pushes another—I’m almost certain it’s Rylan—they nearly knock one of Eleanor’s vases. Luckily, I’m still quick on my feet. I manage to capture both kiddos and the vase before they all crash to the floor.
My one word, spoken in an eerily quiet tone, has the effect of silencing the room. More than a dozen pairs of eyes turn to me waiting to hear what their punishment will be.
“Have I told you all about Remington Prince?”
There are a few eye rolls from amongst the oldest of the bunch, but they join their siblings and cousins in sitting on the ground around a rocking chair. I sink into the seat with only a little “oof” as one of my hips protests my latest daredevil tactics.
With all twelve grandchildren settled on the floor, I whistle for the latest member of the family to join us. Rex comes racing in and hops into my lap with wild abandon.
A couple of years ago, Eleanor and I longed for the pitter-patter of feet here in our cabin. So we adopted the Irish setter mix to complete our little family. Now, we can hardly remember what our life was like before he joined us.
Rex slobbers all over my face earning a chorus of giggles and whoops from the peanut gallery.
“Okay, settle down.” I can’t help but laugh myself. “Now, how does this begin?”
“A long time ago,” Rachel, the oldest and the one who made me a Pop-Pop, answers.
“That’s right.” I stroke my beard. “A long time ago, my great-grandfather—and all of your great-great-great-grandfather—Remington Prince was a trolley operator in San Francisco …”
I tell them the story I told their fathers when they were growing up. And even though they’ve heard—and lived it—thousands of times, my boys Ryder, River, Roman, and Robin find their way to the floor along with the women who have made their lives full.
Besides, the story is different now. We have a proper ending.
I tell them about how Tabitha found Remington Prince’s journal and brought it back to our family. And how Ryker fell immediately in love with her. Then they went on to have two children, Ryder and Reese.
I tell them about how one piece of Remington’s gold was made into a necklace that Helen gave to Matilda’s great-great-grandmother. How Roman recognized that necklace on the bubbly Matilda. And how they had Renee, Ryan, Ruth, and little Robbie, the youngest of them all.
I tell them about how Robin was so busy trying to run away from his feelings for Daphne, he ran right into a frame that had Remington’s map attached to the back. And how once he stopped running, they made Rylan, Rosie, and Ronan.
I tell them about how Penny was smart enough to put all three pieces together. And how River was smart enough to fall in love with her before Rachel, Rebecca, and Reggie came along.
And I tell them about how we couldn’t have found the gold without a brave, brilliant woman named Eleanor. How she helped an old man realize his heart could fall in love and know happiness again.
“And did they all live happily ever after?” Renee asks.
“They did.” I reach out for Eleanor’s hand.
“Even without the gold?” Ryan asks.
“They found something better than gold.”
“Action,” Ryker says.
“Adventure,” River adds.
“Intrigue,” Roman says.
“And true love,” Robin finishes.
“Those are the very best treasures of all.” Eleanor plants a kiss on Robbie’s chubby cheek and cuddles him close. “There is no gold more valuable than our family.”
As I look around at the family Amy and I started and how it’s grown, I have to agree. I’m not just a lucky man. I’m blessed.