The Lernier Family
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 3: Wedding Plans

The next morning I woke up to Rick's wonderful smile.   When my eyes opened, I looked straight into his eyes.   I looked at him for a moment before he spoke, "Did you know you look so peaceful when you're asleep?"

"You know it's because you've made me so happy, Rick," I replied smiling back at the handsomest guy in the whole world.

"I love making you happy and you love doing the same thing for me.   That's why we have such a great relationship," Rick said as he pulled me closer to him.

"I love how your body feels in the morning," I said.   "You are so warm and relaxed.   I can't help but snuggle closer to you."

"The feeling's mutual, lover boy," Rick said grinning at me.   My heart skipped a beat seeing that grin.   I've seen it many times before and I knew where Rick was headed.   Let's just say we didn't get out of bed for another hour or so!

We finally climbed out of bed and helped clean each other up in the shower.   For once, we didn't run out of hot water before we finished showering!   I'll have to remember to ask Mrs. Campbell what size water heater they have here so we can make sure to get one just as big in our new place!

We made our appearance in the kitchen to find Mrs. Campbell visiting with Kerry and Katie at the kitchen table.   Looking us over, Kerry said, "It's about time you two love birds showed up!   It's nearly 10 o'clock!"

"Is it that obvious?" I asked as Rick put his arm around my waist and pulled me close.

Katie responded, "Yes, it's very obvious that you two are in love.    You two remind me of Keith and Kerry right after they got engaged!"

"Mom!" Kerry exclaimed blushing beautifully.  "We weren't that bad were we?" Kerry asked her mother.

"Yes, dear, you were!   In fact, every happy couple I've ever met has had that look," Katie replied.

Mrs. Campbell chimed in, "Yes, I've seen it many times over the years and you two definitely have the look!   Have you set a date, yet?"

"No, we haven't talked to my parents, yet, about setting a date.   We've decided to ask my Mom and my sister, Nancy, to help plan the wedding," I responded.

Rick said, "The sooner the better!   I don't want to wait any longer.   It took me five years to finally figure out what I wanted.   Now that I know I don't want to wait."   Rick hugged me and let me go as we sat down for breakfast.

"I will call my Mom after breakfast so we can figure things out," I said.

As we ate, the women made lots of suggestions.   Finally, I said, "You all have lots of great ideas but I need to write all of them down so we can choose the best ones!"

Katie laughed, "I'm sorry if we are overwhelming you with information.   It's just that we don't get to help plan a wedding every day, especially one as wonderful as your wedding is going to be, Glenn."

Kerry looked at me pointedly and said, "Now that you're done eating, you had better make that phone call."

"Yes, Ma'am!" I exclaimed as I cleared my dishes and put them in the sink.   Rick was right behind me as we moved into the sitting room to make our phone call.

Mom picked up on the first ring, "Hello, Glenn!"

"Hi, Mom.    Do you have time to talk now?" I asked.

"Sure.   I've been waiting for you to call about your wedding plans since you told us you were engaged," Mom said laughing.    "I figured you would get around to calling me sooner or later."

"Well, Mom, this is that call.  Rick and I would like you and Nancy to help plan the wedding," I said.

"I hoped you would ask us to help you.   I've already made up a list of things that need to be done.   Have you two picked a date, yet?" Mom asked.

"No, but we want to be married as soon as possible," I said.

"Okay, how does two or three weeks from now sound to you?" she asked.

I looked at Rick and asked, "Two or three weeks from now okay with you?"

"Yes, if we can get everything ready by then," Rick responded.

"Rick says it's okay with him," I replied to Mom's question.

"Okay, now that's settled.   Where do you want to be married?" Mom asked.

"We want to be married in the same church where you and Dad were married.   Do you think they would allow us to do that?" I asked.

"I've already checked into that for you because I had a feeling you might ask about it.    They do allow gay weddings and have a gay congregation that attends there now.   You will need to meet with the priest and take the marriage discussions," Mom said.

"When are the classes, Mom?" I asked.

"You will need to call Reverend Riegger at this number," she answered giving me the phone number.

"Okay, we'll call him and then call you back," I said.

"Bye for now," Mom said.

I hung up and turned to Rick, "Are you okay with a church wedding?"

Rick thought for a moment, "I guess I'm okay with a church wedding.   I never imagined that a church would ever allow two men to be married."

"You're right about that, especially here in the United States.   You have to admit that we, Canadians, are certainly more progressive than the puritanical Americans who have control not only of your churches but your government, too.   It's funny how Americans always make such a big deal about the separation of church and state but it doesn't seem to hold true when it comes to gays does it?" I said.

"I won't argue with you about that, Glenn.   But you have to admit though that in some states things are getting better," Rick replied defensively.

"Okay, I'll grant you that there are a couple of places here and there that are more tolerant towards gays but we are still second class citizens here," I said.   Seeing that Rick was getting a little upset with me I apologized, "I'm sorry, Rick, I shouldn't have started that conversation.   Can you forgive me?"

"Yes, I forgive you as long as you make it up to me later," Rick said with his usual mischievous grin.   

"You've got a deal!   Now, I want to be married in the same church where my parents were married.   Mom says we have to call and set up an appointment to meet with the parish priest and attend some marriage classes.   Are you okay with doing that, too?" I asked hoping I wasn't pushing things too fast and too far for Rick's comfort.

I didn't have to worry because Rick smiled at me and answered, "I'm okay with whatever makes you happy, Babe."

I wrapped my arms around Rick's neck, "I love you Mr. Lernier!"   I leaned in and gave him a very passionate kiss. 

When I released him, Rick said, "Wow!   I'll have to do that more often!"

I didn't' respond but kissed him, again.   When we surfaced for air, Rick asked, "Are you going to call the church about the wedding?"

"Yes, I'll make the call," I said.

I dialed the number Mom had given me.   After a couple of rings, a deep bass voice answered the phone, "This is Reverend Riegger.   How may I help you?"

"Hello, Reverend.   This is Glenn Nielsen," I said.

"Hello, Glenn.   Your mother told me you would be calling me.   First, congratulations to you both," he said.

"Thank you, Reverend," I responded.

"I'm glad you have chosen to be married in our church.   I remember when I married your parents.   They made such a beautiful couple," Reverend Riegger said.

"I didn't know you married my parents!" I exclaimed.

"Yes, I did.   So, when do you want to be married?" he asked.

"In the next two to three weeks if that is possible," I said.

"Let me get the calendar out to see when the chapel is available.    It looks like we can have the wedding exactly three weeks from today.   That will give you time to have the marriage classes before the wedding.   Is that acceptable to you?" Rev. Riegger asked.

I covered the phone with my hand and asked Rick, "Is three weeks from today okay?"

Rick replied, "Yes, if that's the earliest date available."

I got back on the phone, "Is that the earliest available date?"

"Yes, the church is booked every day between now and then.   Unless, of course, you want to hold your wedding at night then the church is available 17 days from today," he responded.

"Okay, let's go ahead with three weeks from today.   How long does it take to get a marriage license?" I asked.

"You can get the license anytime between now and then.   You can fill out your paperwork on-line.   Then you print it off and take it with you to the city clerk's office with two forms of identification and they will issue you the marriage license at that time after you have paid your fees, of course," Rev. Riegger answered.

 "When do the marriages classes start?" I asked.

"They are every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 9 PM.   You will need to attend four of them.   Do you think you can be here for the next class?" Rev. Riegger asked.

"Yes, I think we can.   I will have to call my Mom back and let her know what our plans are now that we have a date," I said.

"Good.   Tell your mother, "Hello," for me," he said.

"I will.   Thank you for your help, Rev. Riegger," I said.

"Thank you for calling us.   I look forward to seeing you both," Rev. Riegger said.

"Good-bye," I said.

"Good-bye," he said.

I turned to Rick and said, "We will need to leave in the morning so we can be there for the next class.   Do you think that's okay since we just got here?"

Rick said, "I'm sure it's okay with the Campbells.   But don't we need to check with your aunt and uncle to see if it's okay to stay with them?"

"Yeah, I didn't think about that.   I'll give Uncle Carl a call," I said.

I hit the speed dial number on my cell.   Aunt Hannah picked the call, "Hello, Glenn.   We've been expecting you to call.   Your mother called us a few minutes ago.   Rev. Riegger has already called to let us know that you've set a date for your wedding.   Congratulations, Glenn!"

"Thanks Aunt Hannah.   Would it be okay for us to stay with you for the next three weeks until the wedding?" I asked.

"Yes, we've already set up the spare bedroom for you.   When are you coming?" she asked.

"We plan to leave in the morning so we should be there before supper time," I replied.

"We will plan on having dinner ready for you when you get here," Aunt Hannah said.

"Thank you for letting us stay with you.   We'll see you tomorrow.   Bye," I said.

"Good-bye and give Rick a hug for me," Aunt Hannah said.

Rick pulled me into an embrace, "Now that you've made all the arrangements let's go tell everyone else what's going on."   Rick took my hand and led me back into the kitchen.

Kerry looked up as we came into the room, "Okay, spill it!   When's the wedding?"

Rick said, "Three weeks from today.   And we are leaving in the morning for Canada so we can take the marriage discussions with the reverend."

Kerry smiled, "That's great!   I know you will enjoy the discussions.   Keith and I really liked meeting with the priest at the church.   I think it helped us quite a bit actually."

Katie said, "Yes, I'm glad you're going to meet with the reverend.   I know you two have been together for years now but that doesn't mean you can't benefit from those meetings."

"I agree with you Katie," Mrs. Campbell said looking over at the two us as we held hands.

Rick responded, "We also agree."   He squeezed my hand as he said it.

I looked at him and smiled, "I'm engaged to the most wonderful guy in the world!   He always knows how to make me happy."

All three women laughed at my statement but Mrs. Campbell was the only one to speak, "You are so much in love it just tickles me to see it.   Always remember to keep that feeling alive in your relationship you two.   Don't forget how it feels to be madly in love with your spouse and you will always be happy."

We left the women in the kitchen to find Keith and Joe and let them know the news.   As we walked outside, Rick asked, "Did you remember to call your mother back?"

"No, I forgot.   I'll do that while you talk with Keith and Joe," I said.   I quickly called Mom to fill her in on the details.   Of course, she already knew everything because Aunt Hannah and Rev. Riegger had already called her.  

"Hi, Mom," I said.

"Hello, Glenn.   I'm glad you called me back.   I've already heard from Rev. Riegger and he's given me the wedding date.   We've already made arrangements for the wedding reception to be held at the Stratford Whitehouse in Stratford, Ontario.   Do you remember your cousin's wedding?" she asked.

"Yes, I do," I replied.

"It's the same place where they had their reception.   Aunt Hannah made all the arrangements since she already knows all of the staff there.    The reception will be from 7 to 9 PM that evening.   She has booked a suite for you and Rick for the weekend of the wedding.   The rehearsal dinner will be catered by them as well."

"Wow!  Mom!  How did you and Aunt Hannah manage to fix everything up so quickly?   It's been less than 30 minutes since I got off the phone with Rev. Riegger!" I exclaimed.

"It's really very simple, dear.   We already had all the arrangements made a couple of weeks ago when you told us you were engaged.   We just didn't know the date," she explained.

"But I don't remember telling you that we wanted to be married in St. Catharines," I said.

"You didn't but Rick mentioned it when I asked him about it," she responded.

"I'm amazed Rick remembered our conversation about it," I said smiling at the thought of Rick writing down a note somewhere so he would remember.   I've found his notes in the oddest places.   I think he intentionally puts them there just so I will find them.

My Mom's voice over the phone brought me back to the present.   "Don't forget to tell Rick about the Stratford Whitehouse, okay, dear?" she asked.

"Okay, Mom.   I love you," I said.

"I love you, too, dear," she said as she ended the call.

I walked outside to find Rick talking with Joe and Keith.   As I approached, Rick turned and grabbed me around the waist pulling me close to his side.   "Did you fill your Mom in on all the details?" he asked.

"No, I didn't tell her anything.   She already knew about the wedding date and filled me in on everything she's already arranged for the wedding reception and the rehearsal dinner," I said letting the amazement I felt show in my voice.

"Your Mom is truly a great lady, Glenn.   I'm glad she has everything under control," Rick said.   "I'm glad to be part of your family Glenn."  

Keith said, "We're glad you finally decided to become part of the family Rick.   You two have been together a long time already.   Kerry and I were wondering why you took so long to pop the question!"

"I was too unsure of how I was going to handle being in the Marines and married to a guy so I waited until I got out," Rick explained.   "I'm so glad I can finally be true to myself and not pretend to be someone I'm not.   It really caused me a lot of mental anguish trying to reconcile my commitment to the Marine Corps and my commitment to Glenn."

Joe said, "Katie and I are very happy to see you two finally tying the knot.   We will be driving up with Keith and Kerry a few days before the wedding.   Keith and I were just planning out a little vacation for us."

"You have to see Niagara Falls while you're in St. Catharines.   The view of the falls from the Canadian side is totally awesome!   I would recommend dinner in the Skylon Tower.   The restaurant revolves so you can see the falls and the surrounding countryside," I said.

Keith said, "We have already planned to visit the falls.   Is there anything else?"

Rick replied, "Yeah.   I liked Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake.   Of course, being a marine, I was very interested in the military history of the fort."

"When are you leaving for St. Catharines?" Joe asked.

Rick said, "Tomorrow morning.   We have to meet with Rev. Riegger tomorrow night for our first marriage discussion."

Joe looked surprised, "You are planning a church wedding?"

I answered Joe's question, "Yes.   Rev. Riegger's church accepts gays.   Their congregation is more progressive in that regard.   Mom called him to make sure they would marry us before she gave me the number to call.   He married my parents so she felt she could talk to him."

Joe said, "I'm happy for you Glenn.   I was afraid you would have a civil service at the town hall instead of having your union blessed by the church.   Have you two talked about attending church?"

"No, we haven't.   I'm not sure I'm ready to participate in any kind of organized religion," Rick said.   "I've agreed to the church wedding to make Glenn happy not because I've suddenly decided I need to have some kind of religious experience."

"I'm sorry, Rick.   I didn't intend to offend you with my questions," Joe said.   "I haven't forgotten about the situation with your family and the damage that their religious zeal has done.   I hope the day will come when you will be able to forgive them and return to the church whichever one that might be."

Rick relaxed a bit.   He is very sensitive about religion and has refused to even discuss the topic since his parents disowned him based on their religious beliefs.   They even went so far as to attempt to do us bodily harm because their church taught them that all homosexuals should die to prevent the spread of their heinous sin against God.

Rick replied, "I don't foresee that happening any time in the near future.   I'm still very bitter over the extreme behavior engendered in my parents because of their religious beliefs."   His tone of voice reflected that bitterness.   "Your family and Glenn's family are the only family I have now.   When we needed you, you came through for us.   I will never forget everything the Scarboroughs and you have done to make sure me and Glenn are safe and have what we need."

Joe said, "We did what we had to do given the situation.   In reality, Katie and I did very little.   Most of it was taken care of by your grandfather, Glenn.   You're very fortunate to have such an advocate.   He certainly knows how to get things done!"

Just then Egan came running towards us from the side of the house, "Glenn and Rick, have you seen the playground in our backyard?"

"No, we haven't, Egan," I responded even though we had seen it the day before, "Do you want to show us where it is?"

Egan's face just beamed with excitement, "Yes, come with me."   He grabbed Rick and I by the hand and tried to pull us along.

Rick looked at me and laughed, "It seems we need to move a little quicker before Egan runs out of energy!"

"Okay, Egan, we'll race you to the backyard!" I exclaimed as Rick and I started to race Egan.   We intentionally stayed just a step or two behind him so as to allow him to win.

"You win, Egan!" I exclaimed picking him up and giving him a hug.  The playground was surrounded by a chain link fence.   I put Egan down as I opened the gate.   The playground consisted of a swing set, a teeter-totter, and a castle with multiple slides and climbing stations.   It is really pretty cool!

Egan grabbed Rick's hand and pulled him towards the castle, "The castle is the best.   Come see."

We played with Egan until he decided it was time for a snack.   "I'm hungry.   Can we go in for a snack?"

"Sure," I said.   We followed the little guy back to Keith and Kerry's house and joined him at the kitchen table.

I looked around the kitchen and decided to do some exploring.   I hadn't paid much attention yesterday to where everything was kept.   After opening a couple of cabinets, I found the pantry.   It was well stocked.   I was pleasantly surprised to find there was a package of chocolate chip cookies on the top shelf.   I took it down and opened the package.   I found the plates and glasses.   I got the milk out and poured a glass of milk for each of us and put a couple of cookies on each plate.

Egan exclaimed, "This is a great house to live in!   It comes with cookies and milk!"

Rick smiled at Egan's excitement, "Yes, you're right, Egan.   This is a great house to live in.   What is the best thing about living in this house?"

Egan looked at Rick like he should have already known the answer.   "Don't you know?" Egan asked.

He paused to give Rick time to answer.   Rick looked at me and I just shrugged.   I was as clueless as he was.

Egan said with much dignity, "The best thing about this house is my family lives here."   Egan pointed at me and Rick, "You and Glenn are family, too, and the best thing about the big house is that you are with your family."

Rick smiled at Egan, "Thank you, Egan, for explaining that to me.   You're right.   The best thing about any house is that your family lives with you.    And you're also right about Glenn being my family."   Rick leaned over and gave me a quick kiss on the lips and whispered in my ear, "I love you."

"I love you, too," I said taking his hand in mine.

"See, I told you that you and Glenn are a family just like my Mom, Dad and my little sister make a family with me," Egan said as he finished his last cookie.   "Can I have some more cookies?"

"Sure, you can have two more," I replied as I placed the cookies on his plate.

Joe and Keith joined us in the kitchen at that moment.   I retrieved two more plates and glasses from the cupboard.   "Would you two like some cookies and milk?" I asked.

Keith answered, "Yes, please.  I can see that you guys have already had some."

"Yes, Egan wanted a snack after playing outside so we helped ourselves to some milk and cookies," I responded.

Joe said, "The Campbells have thought of everything.    They have stocked the house with every conceivable item a family with small children would want.   They have been more than generous by opening their home to all us."

Rick said, "We will have to find some way to thank them for their hospitality."

Joe asked, "Do you boys want to drive around a little bit to see some of the neighborhoods?"

Keith answered, "Sure, Dad.   We'd like to get started looking for house to buy."

I chimed in, "Yes, Grandpa agrees with your suggestion that we buy a couple of adjoining lots and tear down the old homes and build a couple of new ones."

Rick said, "How many lots would be need to build a home like the Campbells?"

Joe thought for a minute, "It depends on where you decide to buy.   If it's in the Crystal City area, you will need to buy six or seven lots because the lots there are small.   It would be the same if you bought in the District of Columbia or in Alexandria City.   If you buy in Fairfax County, you would need only one or two.   Of course, the same is true if you buy in Maryland somewhere."

Rick asked, "Where do you suggest we start looking?"

"As I've said before, Katie and I prefer Virginia with Fairfax County being the first choice with Arlington County as our second, then Montgomery County, Maryland.   However, if you are looking for place that is friendly towards gay people, then the District of Columbia may be your best choice," Joe said.

"Is the District safe place to live?   I've heard there are a lot of murders there," Rick asked.  

"Yes, there are good neighborhoods and there are bad ones just like anywhere else," Joe said.

By this time, we had finished our snack and were ready to take a look at the homes in the area.   Joe went over to the big house to let the women know we were leaving and that we were taking Egan with us.   We piled into Joe's car with Egan in his car seat in the back.   I got sandwiched between the car seat and Rick.   I didn't mind since it gave Rick and excuse to put his arm around me while I leaned against his chest.

Joe showed us how to get to the freeway and into the District.   He pointed out the best way to get to where we wanted to go.   We found a couple of nice brownstone homes for sale near Dupont Circle.   Joe made a quick stop to let Rick out to grab a brochure from each one.   Later, Joe drove us back across the Potomac River into Arlington County.  

"Joe, how do you know where you're going?" I asked.

"It's easy in the District.   I always look for the Washington Monument.   It's that tallest building in the District and you can find your way back to the National Mall by driving towards it.   However, everywhere else you will just have to learn the roads.   When we lived here, we had to keep a map in the car with us at all times so we could find our way around.   I remember the first time Katie drove me to the airport she ended up over next to the capitol building instead of back home in Crystal City," Joe said laughing at the memory.   "Many of the roads curve around and double back on themselves.   You will learn them soon enough."

Keith said, "Let's stop at that Safeway store and get maps for all of us."

Joe pulled into the Safeway parking lot and Keith and Rick went inside to buy maps of the area while I waited in the car with Joe and Egan.

They soon returned with a couple of map books.   I looked at the one Rick had purchased, "Wow!  There are a lot of detailed maps in here."

Rick agreed, "We asked the store clerk which map was the best one.   She said the ADC maps were the most user-friendly for new arrivals to the area.   I asked how she knew I was new to the area and she said, ‘Your accent gives you away.'  I don't have an accent do I?"

"Yes, you do just like I do only your accent tells me you're from North Carolina!" I responded laughing at Rick's hurt look.   "Now you know how I feel every time someone asks me if I'm British!   Can't they tell I'm a Canadian?"

Keith said, "No, most people around here haven't heard of Saskatchewan either!"

Joe said, "Well, that may have been true in Atlanta but here in DC you'll find people are pretty well aware of the many different nations of the world and their cultures.    You all will enjoy living here.   Katie and I enjoyed visiting all the embassies during their open houses.   You really should plan to take advantage of the many cultural events that take place here."

Joe drove to the Crystal City area of Arlington County.   "This is our favorite place in Virginia.   We lived there as newlyweds."   Joe pointed to an apartment building behind the fire station on South Hayes Street.   "We lived on the third floor on the end.   We could see the Washington Monument from our balcony.   It was especially great on the 4th of July because we could watch the fireworks from our balcony."

Joe drove into the neighborhood next to the fire station and showed us several homes that were for sale.   Again, we stopped and grabbed the brochures from each one.   The homes here were extremely small.

Egan spoke up, "Grandpa, can we stop at the fire station?"

Joe responded, "Sure, grandson.   We can stop for a minute after we take a look at some homes here."

Joe pointed to some new construction, "See how they have demolished two of the old homes and are constructing a much bigger home on the two lots?"

"Yeah, I can see how nice the new house will be when it's finished," Keith replied.

Joe drove around the neighborhood and returned to the fire station.   We all got out and I took Egan by the hand and walked into the fire station.  One of the firemen walked over and introduced himself.

"Hi, I'm Fireman Barry.   How can I help you?" he said.

Before any of the adults could say anything, Egan spoke up, "Can I sit in the fire engine?"   Egan pointed to the big fire truck parked inside the station.

Fireman Barry looked to us for approval.   Keith said, "Nice to meet you.   I'm Keith."   The fireman shook Keith's hand.  

Fireman Barry looked at Egan and said, "Well, young man.   You are more than welcome to sit in the big fire engine."

As we approached the fire engine, Fireman Barry pointed out all the features of the truck including how many feet of houses it carried, the water pressure gauges, how the ladder worked, etc.

Egan's eyes were wide with wonder as we walked around the truck, listening intently to the explanations provided about each piece of equipment on the truck.   Lastly, Egan was lifted up into the driver's seat of the big truck.

After a few moments, Egan was ready to get down.   As Keith lifted him down from the truck, he said, "Thank you very much for taking the time to let Egan see the fire truck."

"You're welcome.   We like having visitors, especially ones Egan's age," he said.

We said our good-byes and returned to Joe's car.   Next Joe drove us through Alexandria City.   Joe acted as a tourist guide pointing out the historic homes and streets as we went.   We finally arrived back at the Campbells.

Joe asked, "Did that give you some ideas of what kinds of homes are available?"

Rick responded, "Yes, that was a big help.   I'm not sure what we want but at least we've seen some of the neighborhoods.   Thank you for taking us on the tour."

"Yes, thank you for showing us around the area," I said, echoing Rick's appreciation for Joe's help.

As we got out of the car, I asked Egan, "Which house did you like the best?"

"I liked the new house being built," he said.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because it's next to the fire station and I want to be a fireman when I grow up," Egan said very seriously.   "If we lived next door, I could visit the fire station any time I wanted and ask the firemen how things work and see them go out on the fire trucks."

"Well, we will have to talk to your Mom and Dad about that neighborhood then," I said smiling at the thought of Egan running off to the fire station whenever he wanted.   Kerry wouldn't like that!

Egan and I joined the rest of the guys as we went over to the big house.  While we were gone, Mrs. Campbell had taken Kerry and Katie to the farmers' market at the Alexandria City Hall.   They returned with all kinds of fresh produce and bottled jams.   As they were showing us what they had bought, the General rolled into the kitchen in his wheelchair.

"I hope you were able to find some decent places you can investigate later.   I'd like to show you my gun collection.   Follow me downstairs," he said.

Rick's eyes lit up with excitement, "Let's go Glenn.  This I've got to see."   Rick took me by the hand and led me down the hall towards the elevator where the General waited for us.    Keith and Joe joined us as well.

The General continued, "I had special display cases built for my gun collection.   I also had a shooting range built in the basement so I could shoot my guns without having to try to get on a shooting range.   Most of them won't let me handle a gun because of my age and my physical condition.   Having my own private shooting range is the best thing we added to the house other than the elevator!"

The General rolled off the elevator and down a long, broad hallway.   Again, I was struck by the richness of the décor.   He turned right down another hallway and stopped in front of a big, heavy metal door.   It looked like the door to a safe.

The General confirmed this, "My gun collection is housed in a specially built safe I had installed."   He turned the locks to the appropriate combination and the door swung open.   He rolled inside and we followed.

We were totally stunned by the vastness of the space!   The gun collection took up three entire walls!   The General had more guns than any gun shop I'd ever seen.   The General rolled over to one of the display cases and pointed to a pair of dueling pistols.

"These pistols were used for dueling during the early 1800's.   They have been passed down from father to son in my family for generations," he said.   He pointed to a samurai sword, "That sword was given to me when I was stationed on Okinawa."

He led us from gun to gun explaining its history and how it came into his possession.   At the end, he turned and asked, "Would you like to shoot any of the guns?"  

"I'd love to," Rick said enthusiastically.

The General smiled, "I knew I could count on you!   How about the rest of you?"

"I would like to as well," I said.   Both Keith and Joe nodded their heads in the affirmative.

The General rolled over to one of the gun cases and opened it.  "Why don't you select the firearm you want to shoot and follow me to the shooting range?"

We each chose a weapon and followed the General out of the vault and across the hall to the shooting range.   As we entered, we saw the General had unlocked another much smaller safe where he kept the ammunition.   He handed out the ammunition to each of us along with a pair of ear plugs to protect our hearing.

The shooting range had 6 firing stations.   We each chose one while the General distributed paper targets to us which we clipped to the line and ran them down to the other end of the shooting range.   We spent the next hour shooting at the targets trying out the different guns we had chosen.

After shooting the all the rounds of ammunition I'd been given, I got up and walked around to Rick's station and watched him shoot.   His aim was dead on every time.   I looked at the stack of targets he'd used and found that each one was a bull's eye.

When he finished, he sat the gun down and turned to me with the biggest grin I'd seen on his face in a while.   "I love shooting guns!" he shouted at me.

I nodded my head in acknowledgment.   "I know!"

When we finished, the General gave us instructions on how to clean the guns.   We gathered up the spent shells and added them to the recycling can the General had pointed out to us.   As we returned the guns to the vault, I said, "Thank you for letting us shoot the guns today."

"You're welcome, Glenn.   I'm glad to see your boyfriend hasn't lost his touch with a gun," the General noted as Rick came over to me.

"Thanks, General.   I'm glad I still know how to shoot a gun!" Rick exclaimed beaming from ear to ear.

What is it with Marines and guns?   I'm happy that the General shared his collection with us.   I know Rick was ecstatic. 

The General said, "Rick, I hope you're as good in bed as you are on the shooting range!"

Rick laughed at the General's comment, "Let's say I've never had any complaints."

The General looked over at me, "Well, Glenn?"

I was blushingly furiously.   I finally managed to answer, "He's even better in bed than on the shooting range!"

The General laughed, "I thought so.   Glenn, you do blush rather prettily.   Don't let me bother you.   I'm just a dirty old man who loves to embarrass you young people.   The fact that Rick's a marine tells me all I need to know about his sexual prowess.   I'm sure he keeps you very happy and satisfied in that department!"

I just looked over at Rick hoping he would rescue me.   The grin on Rick's face told me I wasn't getting any help from him.   "You're right about that General," Rick responded for me as he put his arms around my waist and kissed me.

The General's laughed even harder at my discomfort when Keith said, "Hey guys, get a room!"

Rick broke off his passionate kiss and whispered in my ear, "I love you, Babe."

"I love you, too," I responded as he took my hand and led me back to the elevator.   We arrived back in the kitchen just as dinner was being placed on the table.

I hadn't realized how hungry I was until then.   We all washed up before sitting down to the table.   The General said grace and we attacked the delicious meal placed before us.

After dinner, I played the piano as I had the night before.   And like last night, the General fell asleep listening to the music.   Rick and I helped Mrs. Campbell get the General get into bed and then we said good night to everyone before retiring to our own room.

Rick and I packed our bags for our trip to St. Catharines in the morning.   We set our alarm for 6 AM so we could make an early start.

Rick started teasing me, "So, I'm even better in bed than on the shooting range am I?"

"Yes, you are!   However, you seem to be out of practice lately.   Maybe your skills aren't as good as they used to be," I said provocatively.

"We'll just have to do something about that won't we," Rick responded.   It didn't take long for us to strip off our clothes and jump in bed.   Rick looked me in the eyes and pulled me close to him, "I love you, Glenn.   Let me show you that I love you."   Rick made love to me in such a way that left no doubt that he loved me very much.  

Afterwards, I lay awake contemplating how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful man as my life partner.   Rick embodies all of my dreams of the perfect husband.   Someone who is kind and gentle yet at the same time is strong and masculine.   He thinks of all the little things.   He is always there for me.   Rick is calm and reserved which is a perfect foil for my tendency towards being loud and boisterous.   Oh, did I mention slightly high strung?   Rick knows how to calm me down and keep me sane.   I just hope I can always be there for him and make him as happy as he has made me.

After awhile, I laid my head on his chest and fell asleep listening to the steady rhythm of his heart.

Prev To be continued . . .