Montgomery Ink Bites Cookbook - Carrie Ann Ryan

Chapter 1

JUST A BITE

Austin

My kid wasn’t supposed to be graduating from high school. How was that even possible? Wasn’t he just some ten-year-old sitting on my step wondering what the hell was going to happen next?

I shook my head and leaned against the doorway as I watched Leif and Sierra pack for the trip.

“Are you going to keep getting so emotional, Dad?” Leif asked, pushing his hair from his face. He’d decided to go with some new age teenager haircut that had his hair way too long in the front, and he looked like some boy bander that I didn’t understand. He also used lingo that I kept having to ask what it meant. I had to wonder when the word ‘cool’ wasn’t so cool anymore. Nothing reminded you that time changed and you were getting old like a teenage boy in your house.

“I’m not getting all reminiscent over some shit,” I growled, glaring at Leif.

My wife laughed, tossing her mane of hair back over her shoulder. “You are getting a bit growly. And I thought it was my job to get all emotional and weepy over the fact that our baby boy is getting all grown up and about to be an adult in the real world. Soon you’re going to have to wash your own underwear routinely and everything.”

She went to her tiptoes and messed up Leif’s hair. Our son just rolled his eyes and then proceeded to mess up his hair even more. Or maybe he was just putting it back into some form of style. It wasn’t like I was a master in style. I had never been. I was a tattoo artist who tended to forget to get a haircut until I buzzed it all off. I always kept my beard, though, since Sierra loved it.

But the kid had a way with the girls at school, so maybe he was on trend when it came to his wild hair.

“I wash my own underwear,” Leif growled, his cheeks reddening. “And seriously, Mom, you taught me how to do laundry when I was like thirteen.”

Sierra beamed at the use of the word “mom.” It didn’t matter that it had been nearly eight years with Leif in our lives, that my son had shown up right around the time that I had fallen for the love of my life. It still felt new, as if we were figuring out who we were together.

Leif had come into my life when everything had changed, and I couldn’t be prouder of the kid. He’d lost almost everything, and I hadn’t even known he had existed until he had just shown up, and now that he was here, our lives were completely different.

He had started calling Sierra “Mom” after the wedding, and even more often after the formal adoption papers had been signed. Sierra was his mom, and I was his dad, even though I hadn’t been there the first ten years of his life. But I wasn’t going to lose any more time.

This weekend would be all about Leif and making sure he got to visit the schools that he could potentially go to around Colorado and up into Wyoming. Later, we’d be traveling to California, Oregon, and Washington to look at some out-of-state schools. My bank account whimpered at that thought, but if Leif wanted to go to school out of state, then we would find a way. We always did.

“Okay, I think we’re mostly packed,” Sierra said as she patted the suitcase. “And remember, I taught you how to do laundry and make your own food when you were younger. So you can take care of yourself and not have to eat ramen and wear dirty underwear for the rest of your life.”

“I would just go without underwear, duh.” Leif rolled his eyes as Colin ran into the bedroom and jumped on Leif’s bed.

Colin was five years old and could do somersaults off the thing like he was a pro gymnast. It was honestly a little scary, and when Colin proceeded to do just that, both Sierra and I held out our arms, trying to catch him, but Leif was the one who did with a wide grin.

They looked so much alike. It was a little startling to see how much of the Montgomery genes were in both of them. Leif tossed Colin over his shoulder, upside down, and my youngest son just giggled, kicking his feet up in the air.

“What did we say about jumping on the bed?” Sierra