The most important thing to the Hunters for generations still rang true. When the Hunter family had moved from their small farm to Park Trails five years earlier, the townspeople immediately took notice to how devoted they were to each other and generally complimented Jacob and Abigail Hunter on their strong bond with their children. However, quite a few families saw them as a bit clueless when it came to the modern attitude of Park Trails.
Jeff was the oldest Hunter child. At age sixteen, he was tall, broad-shouldered, and black-haired — the splitting image of his father. However, he had his mother's dark gray eyes and goal-driven personality. Jeff was in more extracurricular activities that anyone could keep count of being heavily involved in sports, clubs, community ventures, and a wide variety of hobbies to keep him busy.
Krystal was fourteen, two years younger than Jeff, and a freshman at Park Trails High. Apart from her father's deep blue eyes, she mostly took after her mother in appearance with long, dark red hair and fair skin that freckled when she was out in the sun too long. She was a polite girl and an aspiring musician, but was eager to shed her 'country girl' label and fit in more with the people of Park Trails.
Aly was the opposite of her older sister. With black hair and blue eyes, the twelve year old resembled her father more than any of her siblings. Aly was a spirited and outgoing girl who loved anything dealing with sports, horror movies, and video games. She also had a bit of a temper and often got in fights.
Nathan would often be described as the most intellectual Hunter despite only being nine years old. He took after his mother with his dark red hair, freckles, and dark gray eyes framed behind a pair of glasses. Nathan was wise beyond his years and could even be sarcastic at times, but his awkwardness was noticeable.
Benny, being a little over two years of age, was the only Hunter child born in Park Trails. The toddler resembled his father and eldest brother in appearance and was well on his way to becoming quite mischievous.
With five very different children, the Hunter parents managed to handle the handful...plus one extra. Craig Ullman was Jacob's nephew and he had lived with them ever since he was a baby. The boy was the same age as Jeff and had no memories of his mother. Craig had always been reserved and a bit grim, but was best friends with Jeff despite their clashing personalities.
Jacob sighed in relief as the timer on the oven finally went off. While cooking had always been a favorite hobby for him, feeding such a big family was always a task. Jacob thought about how many plates were going to be needed. Jeff, Krystal, Aly, Nathan, and Craig would all probably be hungry, Benny would likely eat with Abigail, and there was always a chance that Jeff's friend, Rodney, would drop in.
Jacob made his way into the living room to see Krystal wincing in pain as Benny tugged on his older sister's earrings. Grabbing the energetic toddler with one arm, Jacob used his free hand to examine the red-haired girl's ear. There was a bit of blood, but it was nothing too serious.
"I'll tell your mom to look at it some more when she gets home," he told her. "Until then, just put a hot towel over it. The food's done, so come eat when you get ready."
"Alright," Krystal replied as she began rummaging through her pockets. "Hey, where's my phone?! Benny!"
Benny responded by blowing spit bubbles and Jacob fought back the urge to laugh. Krystal rolled her eyes and began searching for her phone as Jacob put Benny on his shoulders and walked outside. Craig and Aly had just beaten Jeff and Nathan in a football game when they noticed his presence.
"Hey, Old Man!" Jeff taunted as a grin appeared across his face. "Do you want to get in the next game? I only lost because I went easy on Craig and Aly."
"Did not!" Aly said. "You're just looking for excuses!"
"Maybe tomorrow, Jeff," Jacob told him as he handed Benny over to him. "The food's ready if you're all hungry."
Jeff and Aly rushed into the house and Craig followed behind them without a word. Jacob noticed Nathan slouched against the tree with a look of frustration on his face as he tossed the football up in the air and failed to catch it.
"Stupid ball!" he yelled out. "Why aren't I good at this?!"
"Nate," Jacob said clearly. "What's the matter, son?"
Nathan dropped the ball on the ground and approached his father. "I'm not good at any sports. I had Jeff on my team and I still lost!"
"Hey," Jacob started as he put a hand on Nathan's shoulder. "Practice makes perfect, but if you're not interested in something, it's gonna be harder to pick up on it. You're a smart boy and you can choose whatever suits you. Understand?"
"Yeah," Nathan agreed. "I definitely don't care about sports. I don't see why everyone gets so crazy over them."
Jacob nodded his head and led Nathan inside the house. The other kids were already seated. Jeff and Craig were sitting by one another discussing their plans for the night, Krystal was texting and not paying attention to anything else around her, and Benny was sitting in Aly's lap tugging on her dark hair.
"Hey, Mr. Hunter!"
A teenage boy with olive skin, light brown hair, and a large smirk on his face strolled into the kitchen and took a seat on the other side of Jeff.
"You just get here, Rodney?" Jacob asked.
"Yes, sir," the boy answered. "You know I couldn't stay away from my favorite 1950's family for too long."
Jacob let out a laugh. People all over Park Trails often said the same thing as Rodney, but he didn't think they were that old-fashioned. However, when compared to wealthy families like the Aldridges or the LaSayles, Jacob could see why people would think so.
"Who is Drake?" Aly asked Krystal as she glanced at the screen on her sister's phone.
Krystal frowned as her face reddened. Aly was always sticking her nose in her business.
"Are you texting Drake Aldridge-Stone?" Jeff asked.
"Why?" Krystal said. "Does it matter?"
"The guy's a prick," Rodney interjected. "Just like everyone in his family."
"And everyone in your family isn't one?" Krystal shot back.
Jeff and Craig snickered as Rodney set back in his seat. Rodney's family, the Dunbars, were not exactly liked by most of Park Trails and with very good reasons. Before the conversation could resume, the door opened and Jacob saw his wife walk in with something curled up in a red blanket in her arms.
"Hey everyone!" Abigail Hunter greeted. "Sorry it took so long for me to get back, but I found something on the side of the road!"
The kids gathered around to see what she had. Abigail slowly unwrapped the blanket and a small ball of golden fur came into view.
"Doggy!" Benny said as he pointed at the puppy.
"He was the last one in the box," Abigail explained. "There was no way that I was going to leave him out there. He's definitely lucky that I came when I did."
"Lucky, huh?" Nathan said as he gently picked up the puppy. "I think he's a golden retriever. Dad, can we keep him?"
All eyes turned to Jacob and he sighed. Having a dog would mean another mouth to feed, but he had promised the kids for years that he would get them a dog and at least this one was free.
"You can keep him," he finally said. "But you all have to pitch in and help take care of him."
Nathan smiled as he continued cradling the small puppy. "Mom, you said he was lucky you found him, right?"
"That's right, Nate," she answered. "Do you have an idea for a name?"
"How about Ace?" he suggested. "What do you guys think?"
"Cool with me," Jeff answered.
"Me too," Aly added.
"I wish he were a girl," Krystal stated. "But, he's a cutie either way. I like the name."
"Whatever you do, just don't get him neutered!" Rodney remarked. "That's the worst fate imaginable!"
Nathan ignored his brother's inappropriate friend and turned to Craig. If there was anyone's opinion he valued, it was his. Craig pushed his dark brown hair away from his deep blue eyes and nodded his head at his younger cousin.
"Ace is a good name," he told him. "We'll all take good care of him..."