The Lernier Family
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 9: New Parents

The twins had fallen asleep in our arms after feeding them when Nancy came into the room.   I smiled and said, "Good morning, Nancy.   I hope we didn't wake you."

"No, I was already awake," Nancy answered cheerily.

Rick said, "I'm glad to see you up and about."

Nancy smiled, "I'm feeling much better.   In fact, I'm going to meet Cory this morning for breakfast."

I asked looking at her curiously, "Do we get to meet Cory anytime soon?"

Nancy laughed, "Yes, I promise you will get to meet Cory soon!   I just wanted to have the twins before getting more involved with Cory.   He is part of the research team at the university and this will be our first official date.   He's asked me out before and I have always put him off."

Rick asked, "Does he know that you are our surrogate mother?"

"Yes.   I explained that to him when we first met.   He's okay with it and actually has been a very big support to me," Nancy replied.   She smiled and continued, "He has really watched out for me.   It's kind of funny in some ways because he has acted as if he were my husband – waiting on me hand and foot all day!   At first, it really bothered me but I grew to appreciate it towards the end of the pregnancy."

"Good!   He has already won points with me!" I exclaimed grinning at my little sister.

Nancy nodded, "Cory's acceptance of me being your surrogate is a big thing for me.   I don't want a relationship with anyone who can't be supportive of my family especially when it comes to you two."   She paused for moment then asked, "Glenn, did you find it really easy to talk to Rick when you first met him?"

"Yes, I did once I stopped drooling over his gorgeous body," I said.

Rick laughed and confirmed what I said was true, "Glenn was completely speechless the first time he saw me.   Keith had to tell him to pick up his jaw off the ground before he embarrassed himself."

I interjected defensively, "You would have been speechless, too, Nancy if you had unexpectedly seen this drop dead gorgeous stud walk into the kitchen totally naked."

Nancy laughed, "You are probably right, Glenn.   Rick you have to admit you are very handsome and could have any man or woman you want.   When you and Glenn are out running, I have seen heads turn and heard the comments they have made."

Rick blushed at her comments and said, "I don't intentionally try to show off my good looks."

Nancy and I laughed.   I said, "That is what adds to your charm, sweetheart.  You don't have to put on a show for anyone.   You are beautiful on the inside as well as on the outside."

Nancy nodded her head in agreement, "Why I asked if you found you could talk to Rick about anything when you first met is because Cory is so easy to talk to that I have found myself pouring out my soul to him from time to time not to mention that he's tall and very good looking."

Rick grinned and interjected, "This sounds pretty serious if you ask me."

Nancy chose to ignore Rick's comment and continued, "Cory is so different from all the other guys I know.   He listens to me and then he will ask intelligent questions that help me to clarify my own thinking.   Of course, I don't do all the talking.   He's told me about his family and many other things about himself but he doesn't try to monopolize the conversation."

I asked, "So do you think there is a possible future with Cory?"

 Nancy thought for a moment before answering, "At first, I wasn't sure but now that we have spent so much time working together and have become better acquainted there might be a chance that we could have a very close relationship."   Nancy looked over at Rick, "You know, Rick, you are the standard that I measure guys against."

Rick looked surprised, "Why me?   I'm nobody special."

"You are very wrong about that my dear brother-in-law.   I have observed how you treat Glenn and the relationship you two have is something every couple should have.   You forget that I saw how Ian treated Glenn and I hated him for it.   I was much younger then and didn't know what to do or say to help Glenn avoid being hurt but I certainly know now.   Not only do you treat Glenn right, you are so kind and gentle with the twins.   You change the babies' diapers, feed them and rock them to sleep.   I also know that you take your turn getting up with them in the middle of the night.   You are a good husband and father despite what you might think."

Rick was blushing from my sister's praise, "I still don't think I am anything out of the ordinary, Nancy.   I treat Glenn the way I want to be treated and he treats me the same.   We have an equal partnership and we work together to maintain it.   As for the children, we agreed before we started a family that we would share equally between us the responsibilities for raising our children including changing the diapers, etc."

"But that is exactly what I am talking about," Nancy said earnestly.   "You treat each other as equals and you work together to make each other happy.   My last boyfriend was as self-centered as they come.   The whole relationship was about him.   Mom tried to warn me but I was blinded by his good looks and his money.   I thought that maybe I could be happy if I married a man who could take good care of me from a materialistic standpoint and that we would grow to love each other over time.   I was very wrong!   He treated me like another toy in his collection!"   Nancy's eyes flashed and her disgust was very evident on her face at the thought of being treated like someone's piece of property.

I said, "I'm glad you didn't marry him then.   Nancy, a relationship like ours takes time to develop and a lot of hard work.   Remember when Rick and I first came home how sometimes we were still unsure of each other?"   I paused looking at Nancy to see if she remembered and Nancy nodded her head in the affirmative.   "You asked me then if Rick was the right man for me and I said, ‘Yes he is!' but then I added that we needed to work together to make it work."

Nancy said, "Yes, I remember what you said then and I can see that you both have worked at making your relationship what it is today."

Rick said, "We are still working at it.   One thing we have learned though is that we have to be completely and totally committed to each other.   Some of the things that have caused us trouble wouldn't have been solved if either of us wasn't sure our relationship was worth the effort."

Nancy nodded her head, "That's true with Mom and Dad's relationship as well.   Glenn and I saw that when Dad disowned Randy for being gay.   Mom didn't agree with Dad at all but still stood by him.   She told me at the time that things would work out for the best and that we needed to be patient with Dad."

My thoughts went back to that horrible time in our family as I listened to Nancy, "Yes, you are correct that Mom and Dad have had to work at keeping their relationship together as well.   I think every couple that has a good relationship has learned to work together to better themselves and their partners."

Nancy said, "That's true.   I will let you guys know when I am bringing Cory home to be the family."

Rick said, "We look forward to meeting him.   From what you have told us about him, I am sure we will get along very well."

Nancy said, "I'll see you guys later."   She left the room and we heard her open and close the front door.

Rick smiled at me, "I love your sister, Glenn.   I am glad we chose her to be our surrogate."

"I am, too," I said returning his smile.   "You kept your promise and made the right choice for us after we talked over what we wanted.   This is one of those times that I am glad that I have learned to trust your judgment, sweetheart."

We both got up and we carried our little charges back to their cribs to sleep.   We returned to our room with our arms around each other.   Rick undressed me and pushed me down on our bed and quickly stripped off his own clothes and joined me.   He pulled me close and kissed me very passionately.

When we finally came up for air, I said with a smile at my lover boy, "I wonder what you have on your mind this morning?"

Rick grinned broadly but instead of answering my question he proceeded to show me exactly what he had on his mind.

Later that morning, Rick lay awake with Glenn sleeping in his arms, his head on Rick's chest.   Rick thought back to the moment the twins were born.   He remembered how nervous he felt when the doctor had handed him the scissors to cut the umbilical cord.   Then he remembered feeling overwhelming joy as he held the twins in his arms for the first time.   Rick's feelings about the miracle of his two little babies overwhelmed him.   He had always dreamed of having sons to teach how to play ball and to go camping and fishing and all of the things boys like to do with their fathers.   When he gazed into the faces of his two fine sons, he realized that his dream had come true.  

At that moment, Rick felt an old wound heal over that he never really acknowledged existed deep in his soul.   He finally felt whole, again.   He had grieved for the loss of his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Angie, but he had never realized that he was still grieving for the loss of their child, the child that Angie had refused to keep and had destroyed by having an abortion.   He would never be able to forgive Angie for destroying their child!   She hadn't even asked him if he wanted to keep their child.   Angie's hatred for him and his unborn child still stung after all these years.  

Tears formed in Rick's eyes as he remembered the feeling of completeness and joy that he felt sitting there next to Glenn in the hospital room holding his newborn sons.   He didn't understand why the tears were there but he knew it was because he was very happy!

Rick thought to himself, "Glenn and the twins are the best things that have ever happened to me.   I now have a complete family.   I guess I have achieved the American dream:   married with two kids and a home of my own.   I even have a great job that allows me to be home during this very special time."

Rick's thoughts were interrupted when he felt Glenn's fingers gently wipe away his tears.

"Why are you crying, sweetheart?" I asked worriedly looking Rick in the eyes.

"Don't worry, Babe.   They are tears of joy not sorrow," Rick responded quietly as he took my hand in his and raised it to his lips.   "I'm so happy I'm crying."

I smiled in relief as I snuggled even closer to my lover boy.   "You had me worried there for a moment that something was very wrong," I said as I gently bit Rick's nipples.

Rick moaned as I caressed his chest with my hands and moved my mouth to that very tender and sensitive spot on his neck that always gets Rick very excited.   We discovered very early in our relationship that each of us had very sensitive areas on our bodies that increased our pleasure during our lovemaking.   One of Rick's is at the base of his neck next to his shoulder.

I stopped for a moment and pulled back to look at my lover and asked, "Are sure you are able to perform, again, so soon?   You know what they say about men as they get older - they have problems getting it up more than once a week!"

Rick smiled and replied in his best old man's voice, "Who are you calling an old man?  I am not even out of my twenties, yet, you young whippersnapper!"

I laughed, "I am glad you remembered that I am a year younger than you so that means you are an old man!"

"Of course, this means I will have to teach you to respect your elders!" Rick exclaimed as he rolled me onto my back.

"Just how do you propose to teach me to respect such an elderly gentleman such as yourself?" I asked staring up at my lover boy as he knelt between my legs.

Rick's grin widened as he responded to me, "I believe I have already answered that questioned."   He captured my lips in a passionate kiss as he made love to me a second time.

We lay exhausted in each other's arms enjoying the intimate feel of bare skin against bare skin.   I whispered in Rick's ear, "I have to admit that you do pretty well for such an elderly man."

Rick laughed, "I do don't I?"

I laughed with him, "Yes, you do.   I think that you are a keeper alright.   You are the best lover boy ever!"

Rick replied, "Good!   I was getting worried that I had lost my touch!"

At that moment, we heard the doorbell ring.   We looked at each other wondering who it could be.   Then it hit me, "I forgot to cancel my violin lessons for today!"

I quickly got of bed and threw on my clothes and rushed downstairs to open the door.   I opened the door to see one of my students standing there waiting.  "Come in, Jamie.   If you will go on into the music room, I will join you momentarily."   I looked over the tall, handsome young man as he passed by me.   Jamie's curly black hair stuck out from under his cap in rebellion at his attempts to tame it and his sparkling green eyes matched his jacket.  He was slight of build but I knew that he did a lot of swimming to keep in shape from our previous conversations.   He smiled showing dazzling white teeth and a dimple in his left cheek. 

Jamie pulled off his gloves and asked, "How are you, Mr. Lernier?"

"I am doing very well, thank you," I replied as I closed the front door.

I turned to see Rick coming down the stairs.   Rick said, "I'm happy to see you Jamie.   How are you doing?"

Jamie replied with an appreciative smile as he gave Rick the once over as he moved to my side, "I'm good, Thank you, Mr. Lernier.   How are the twins?"

"They are doing well.   I do have to admit that we aren't getting as much sleep as we used to before they arrived," I said grinning at my partner.

Jamie smiled, "That's what I have heard is the norm when you have newborn babies in the house."

Jamie turned to walk down the hall towards the music room.   I have to admit I love watching him as he walked down the hall with his very tight fitting jeans leaving very little to the imagination!

Rick caught me watching Jamie and smiled whispering in my ear, "Looking only, no touching!"

I didn't reply to Rick's reminder but turned my head and gave him a quick kiss before following my student.   I closed the door behind me as I entered the music room.

Jamie had already shed his jacket and was tuning his violin as I approached him.   He asked, "Mr. Lernier, how long have you been with your partner?"

"We have been together for nearly eight and a half years now.   Why?" I asked looking at him curiously, wondering why he asked.

Jamie hesitated before answering, "My parents think that all gay men do is have sex with everyone they meet and that they never have stable relationships.   However, you and Mr. Lernier seem to be very happy and are in a long-term relationship; you even have two children!"

"Well, Jamie, your parents have bought into the false propaganda that has been spread throughout the media by those who hate gays," I replied still wondering where this conversation was heading.

"Do you think that my parents hate gays, too?" Jamie asked earnestly looking very much like a frightened puppy dog.

"I don't know your parents so I can't say if they hate gays or not.   You are the only one who can determine that since you know them," I responded as I was beginning to guess where Jamie was taking this conversation.   I observed that Jamie had started shaking.   I reached over and removed the violin from his hands and tuned it for him.   I handed it back to him and asked, "What are you trying to say Jamie?   I can see that you are very nervous about something."

Jamie nodded his head and looked at the floor, "I am gay."   His voice was barely above a whisper.

"Am I the first person you have told that you are gay?" I asked suspecting that Jamie had just come out of the closet for the very first time.

"Yes, you are the first person I have ever told," Jamie said still shaking as he finally looked up at me.

"Jamie, please sit down and give me the violin before you drop it," I said indicating the chair behind him.

Jamie sat down gratefully and handed me his instrument which I stored safely in its violin case.   "I have been afraid to tell anyone that I'm gay.   My parents are so devoutly religious that I am sure they will disown me when they find out I'm gay."

"Why do you think they will disown you?" I asked taking a seat next to Jamie.

"My Dad's the minister at our church and he has given many sermons about the evils of homosexuality and how we must stand up and fight to make sure it doesn't spread throughout the land.   He's warned of the dangers of allowing gays to be part of our communities.   He's preached over the pulpit that God will strike anyone dead that becomes a homosexual," Jamie said looking like he was going to be struck dead at any moment.   It made me disgusted with supposedly Christian people who whip up so much hatred in their congregations that violence against one of God's children is considered not only okay but encouraged by those who claim that God loves all his children and that all are welcome to come to Him.

The fear I saw in Jamie's eyes made me want to hug him.   I resisted the urge and asked, "Can I share what you have told me with my partner?"

Jamie didn't answer but nodded his head.   I left the room and found Rick in the kitchen, "Rick, can you join us for a moment?"

Rick looked at me in surprise, "Why?   I thought you were giving Jamie a violin lesson."

I replied, "That was the intended object of his visit today but he has shared some things with me that I think you can better help him with than I can."

Rick followed me back to the music room.   I could tell by the look on his face that he was mystified by my remarks.   I put my arm around his waist and stopped Rick for a quick kiss.   I said, "I love you."

I released him and we entered the music room and found Jamie still sitting where I had left him.   I turned to Rick, "Jamie has just informed me that he is gay."

Jamie nodded his head but didn't say anything.   Rick smiled, "Well, it's about time.   I've known you were gay from the moment I first met you, Jamie."

Jamie looked terrified and said in a panic stricken voice, "How did you know?   Is it that obvious?"   His voice squeaked as his fear increased.

Rick looked over at me, "Did I say something wrong?   I didn't mean to offend you, Jamie."

Jamie responded before I could reply to Rick's question, "No, you didn't say anything wrong but I don't want my parents to find out that I am gay until I'm ready to move out on my own.   Your comments led me to believe that I haven't been careful enough about hiding who I am."

I shared with Rick what Jamie had told me about his very religious parents.   As Rick listened, a look of comprehension crossed his face, "Now I understand why you asked me to join you."

Rick recounted for Jamie what had happened when his parents found out that we were a couple and the subsequent break with his family.   He finished by saying, "You have every reason to be concerned about your parents.   If they react to you the way mine did to me, you need to be extremely careful.   If you ever need any help, please don't hesitate to call us."

Jamie nodded his head, "I will.   Thank you telling me about your family.   Do you think my family will react the same way?"

Rick said, "I don't know for sure but I think there's a pretty good possibility."

Jamie looked pretty upset, "I want to be myself and stop pretending to be someone I'm not.   Why do I have to be on my guard all the time wondering who is going to try to beat me up or hurt me in some other way?   Why won't people just accept us for who we are?"

Rick responded, "There are many reasons.   One is that people fear what they don't understand.   Another is that they are taught to be cruel and inhumane by their parents and society at large.   They learn intolerance as part of their environment.   Anyone who doesn't conform to their ideas of normal is to be persecuted and ostracized.   We are treated like many other minorities only worse because those very same minorities who suffered so much at the hands of others are some of the first ones to persecute us."

Jamie sat in silence for a moment digesting what Rick had said.   "Do you think there will ever be a time when gays can be safe and not feel threatened?"

Rick thought for a moment, "I don't want to sound pessimistic but I don't see that time coming anytime in the near future.   In fact, I see it getting worse because we are demanding to be treated equally.   The majority will always do it's best to oppress those they feel are inferior to themselves."

I asked, "How old are you, Jamie?"

"I turn 21 this week," Jamie responded.   "Why?"

"Because it makes a big difference if you are under age when you start telling people you are gay.   Many parents try to put their gay teens into therapy or special programs to cure them of the disease of being gay.   In fact, they claim they can remove all gay tendencies and turn gays straight."   I paused then asked, "Do you have a job?"

"Yes.   I'm working as a cashier at Giant Food store near my parents' house," he replied.

"Do you still live at home?" I asked.

"Yes, I do but I have enough saved to put down a deposit on my own apartment.   The only problem is that I can't afford to live on my own.   I will need at least one roommate and maybe two in order to make ends meet," Jamie said worriedly.

"Have you tried finding roommates?" Rick asked.

"Yes but I have been so paranoid about being found out that I haven't been able to bring myself to seriously consider having roommates without knowing how they will treat me once they know I'm gay," Jamie replied.

"There's an easy answer to that problem – tell them right up front that you are gay and that they must be respectful of you and anyone else that visits your apartment," I said.

Jamie nodded his head, "I guess I can do that now that I have finally told someone I'm gay.   I needed to be able to talk openly about being gay with someone and you two are the only people I know who are gay."

Rick put a comforting hand on Jamie's shoulder, "I'm sure that we are not the only gays you know.   You just haven't looked close enough to know who they are."

Jamie looked surprised, "Do you really think that there are others I know that are gay, too?"

Rick answered with a smile, "Yes, I do."

"Thank you for listening to me," Jamie said.

"Sure thing," Rick said as he turned to leave the room.

We continued with the violin lesson.   As Jamie was leaving, he turned to me and gave me a quick hug.   "Thank you for being there for me.   Knowing that I can talk to you and Mr. Lernier is a big help.   I will let you know how things go with my parents when that time comes."

"Good luck, Jamie, and be very careful who you tell you are gay until you are ready to handle the opposition and persecution that will come your way as a result of coming out of the closet," I said looking Jamie in the eyes.   "Do not under estimate how bad things can become if you are not careful."

Jamie nodded and made his way to his car that was sitting in the driveway.   I slowly closed the door wondering if there was any way that Rick and I could help people like Jamie who face such obstacles their lives.   I had read about rescue centers for gay teens and I remembered that my cousin, Roger, answers phones on a gay suicide hotline.   Rick and I had manned the phones with Roger when we visited him in Raleigh, North Carolina.   Roger kept track of his successes and losses.   The successes brought him great happiness but the losses were very tragic and heartbreaking.   I had asked Roger why he kept working there when he took the losses so hard.  

He answered, "I do it because I can make a difference.   There are so many gays who need to hear a friendly voice and to be told that they are okay.   Many of the guys I talk to have become my good friends.   I won't give up trying to help them."

I wandered into the kitchen deep in thought.   I jumped when Rick said, "A penny for your thoughts."

"I was just thinking about how we could help guys like Jamie," I replied looking up at Rick as he took me in his arms.

"I was thinking the same thing a few minutes ago.   What do you suggest?" Rick asked smiling at me.

"Let's talk to Grandpa about it.   I'm sure he can think of something or at least help us clarify our own thinking around the subject," I replied.

A couple of weeks later, we were, again, rocking the twins to sleep in the nursery when Nancy joined us and announced, "Guys, I'm bringing Cory home to meet you tonight."

Rick smiled, "Are you bringing him home for dinner or are you just bringing him by the house to meet us before you two go out for the evening?"

Nancy thought for a moment, "We could come for dinner if that's okay with you two."

I said, "We would love to have you come to dinner with Cory.   It will give me an excuse to cook a fancy meal for us."

Nancy said, "Glenn, you don't have to cook a big meal for us.   Just your normal good cooking will do for tonight."

I replied, "I want to do it, Nancy.   It won't be too fancy though.   How about a roast with mashed potatoes and gravy like Mom makes?"

Nancy nodded her head, "That sounds good.   I'll give Cory call and let him know we have plans for dinner."

Rick said, "Thank you for trusting us not to embarrass you, Nancy.   I know I hated bringing girls home to meet my Mom and Dad because Mom would make them feel like they were being interrogated with all of her questions."

Nancy laughed, "Is that what happened when you took Glenn home to meet them?"

Rick looked over at me and laughed.

I said, "You laugh but it wasn't funny."   I looked over at Nancy, "Yes, his mother played the role of interrogator when I met her.   She actually liked me at first.   That is before she knew that Rick and I were a couple."

Rick had turned melancholy at the mention of his mother's reaction to finding us sleeping naked together in Rick's bed.   I remembered how hurt Rick was by his parents' reaction to finding out their son was gay and not only gay but that we had been sleeping together in their home the entire time we were there.

Nancy seeing the sadness in Rick's face quickly apologized, "I'm so sorry to remind you of them, Rick.   Can you forgive me?"

Rick responded, "That's okay, Nancy.   I've got to get over the hurt I feel inside.   I know that they will never change and it's better for me if I accept that fact."

I looked over at Rick weighing carefully what I was about to say, "Rick, you have two beautiful sons that need to know about their grandparents – both sets of grandparents.   I know that you don't want to remember them as they were the last time we saw them.   Do you think you could write down the things that you used to do with your parents before you met me?   You know like going to air shows with your Dad and spending time with your extended family at family reunions."

I watched as Rick pondered how to respond to my question.   I continued, "I could help you put together a scrapbook about your childhood.   We could put in some pictures and write up a paragraph or two about what was so special about it."

Rick finally looked over at me.   I could see reflected in his eyes the deep sadness that was always present when we spoke of his family.   That look always pulled at my heart strings and made me want to pull him into an embrace and kiss away the sadness.   I regretted saying anything about Rick's family.   Maybe I should have waited until a better time.

Rick's voice sounded like it was coming from a long distance as he began speaking, "I guess we could put together something like that for the boys.   They will need to know who we are.   The Lernier family has a long and proud history.   I don't want them to miss out on that history despite my feelings for my family."

I breathed a sigh of relief, "Thank you sweetheart.   I know how hard it is for you to think of your family."

Rick looked across at me and said, "I know that you want the best for our boys so I am agreeing to do what you ask.   However, please do not pressure me to do anything more.   I do not want to remember them or talk about them anymore than I have to in order to accomplish the task of putting together a brief history for the boys to read when they are ready to hear about the Lernier family."

 Nancy said, "Can I help put it together?"

Rick answered, "Yes, I guess that would help since Glenn and I suffered so much at their hands that I don't think we can be very objective when we write something about them."

Nancy responded, "Good.   I will stop by the craft shop and pick up some supplies and we can begin tonight.   I want Cory to know what you two have been through together if that is okay with you."

I nodded my head, "It sounds like things are pretty serious with this Cory fellow.   I hope he's prepared to meet the family!"

Nancy laughed, her eyes twinkling with merriment, "Oh, he's prepared alright!   I've warned him to be on his best behavior."

Rick smiled, "We look forward to meeting him then."

Nancy stood up and left the room.   A few minutes later we both stood up and took our precious little ones to their room and placed them in their beds.   Rick pulled me into his arms and gave me gentle kiss.

"I'm sorry if I sounded a little gruff when you asked me to help you with the boys' scrapbooks," Rick said apologetically.

I looked into Rick's eyes, "its okay.   I know how hard it is for you to talk about your family.   Thank you for humoring me."

Rick took me by the hand and led me down the hall to our bedroom.   I sat down on our bed while I watched Rick open our closet and pull out the big trunk he had placed there.   He took his keys out of his pocket and unlocked the lid.   I have seen most of the things Rick has placed in the trunk over the years but I never looked through it on my own or asked Rick why he put certain things in his locked trunk.   I felt that Rick would tell me what was in his trunk when he was ready to share it with me.   It appeared that today was that day.

Rick sat next to me on our bed and pulled the trunk closer to him and reached in to pull out an old tattered shoe box.   He took the lid off and sat the box on his lap.   I could see that the shoe box was filled with old photographs.   Rick lifted one of them out of the box and handed it to me.   It was a photograph of his parents holding a baby boy and a blond-headed girl about 8 or 9 years old.

"Rick, where did you get these photographs?" I asked in amazement.

Rick replied, "Keith gave them to me a few years ago.   Apparently, my Dad dropped them by your Uncle Stan and Aunt Sharon's house with a note asking them to pass them on to me.   I haven't looked at them until now.   I didn't want to be reminded of my parents so I locked the photos up in my trunk."

"Did the note say anything else?" I asked hoping that maybe his Dad had given an indication that they wanted to be reconciled to their son.

Rick sat in silence for a few minutes before answering.   "Yes, it said that he had saved these photos from being burned by my mother," he replied his voice cracking with emotion.

I put my arm around Rick's waist and hugged him, "I'm so sorry, sweetheart."   I tenderly wiped away the tears that were falling down his cheeks.   Rick leaned his head on my shoulder and cried.   I held him until he pulled back from me.  

"I'm okay now.   Sometimes I wonder if things would have turned out differently if Mom hadn't walked in on us," Rick said sadly.   "I wanted to tell her that I loved you but I didn't want her find out the way she did."

"I have often thought about how things could have been better," I said.   "I still feel like it was my fault that your parents disowned you because I forgot to lock the door that night when we went to bed."

Rick put his arm around my shoulders, "We have talked about this many times and I thought we had already settled it that you are not to blame for my parents reaction to finding out that I am gay."

"We have talked of it often.   However, like you, I have wondered if your parents would have been more accepting of us if your mother hadn't seen us in bed together," I said turning to look Rick in the eyes.

Rick smiled, "Well, we will never know.   Let's look at these photographs before I change my mind."

Rick stood up and he dumped all of the photographs out on the bed.   We started looking through them together.   Rick sorted them into different piles:   baby pictures, grade school, secondary school and college.   There were many photos of Rick in his football jersey.   I couldn't help admire his good looks.   Of course, he was real stud in high school just as he is now!  There were photos with him posing with his favorite cars and there were many taken with my cousin, Keith.  

Rick picked one up and said, "This is my favorite photograph."   He handed me an 8X10 photograph.   It was a photograph of Rick in his scout uniform standing next to his parents shaking hands with another man wearing a scout uniform.   It was obvious that it was an awards ceremony of some kind.  

I looked up at Rick and asked, "What was the occasion?"

Rick smiled, "That was the day I was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout.   See this man right here?   This is my scoutmaster.   He was the one who encouraged me to join the Marine Corps.   He really cared about us and we knew that we could count on him to be there for us."

"Can we put this one in the scrapbook?   I would like our boys to know that you are an Eagle Scout.   Isn't that the highest award you can receive in the boy scouts?" I asked.

"Yes, it is.   I really worked hard to earn it before I turned 18 years old," Rick said.   "Here is another one of my favorite pictures."   He handed me another photo.

This one showed a Rick standing next to couple who looked as if they had just been married.   "Is this your sister and her husband?"

"Yes," Rick replied.

 "Don't they live near here?" I asked hoping Rick wouldn't get upset with me for asking about his family.

"Yes, she used to live in Bowie, Maryland," he replied not looking up at me.

I took the hint and didn't say anything more about it as we continued to sort through the photographs and decided which ones to include in a scrapbook for the boys.   I couldn't help thinking that maybe we could reach out to his sister since we lived so close.   I didn't dare even mention it right now but filed the information away for later.   Meanwhile, we finished looking at Rick's photos and I put them away for use in putting together the scrapbooks for the boys.

Later that evening, Nancy and Cory joined us for dinner.   Nancy heard the doorbell ring and practically ran to answer it.   A few minutes later, Nancy led a very handsome young man into the kitchen and introduced him to Rick and me.   I looked him over as Rick shook his hand.   He was the same height as Rick with thick, wavy blond hair, deep blue eyes, a Roman nose and a wide mouth with perfectly white teeth and a deep tan.   He wore a tight fitting shirt that showed off his physique.   He had broad shoulders and looked like he worked out as I could see his muscles flex as he moved.   Cory reminded me of one of those California surfer guys you see in those vacation magazines.   Boy!   Nancy sure knew how to pick the great looking guys!  

Cory reached over to shake my hand, "Nice to meet you, Glenn."

"I glad to meet you as well.   Nancy tells us you are from California," I said.

"Yes, I grew up in Buena Park near Knott's Berry Farm.   I spent most of my free time at the beach.   My friends and I used to catch the bus to Redondo Beach hauling our surf boards with us," Cory replied.

"I wondered if you spent any time at the beach," I said smiling at him.

"That would be me and my friends.   In fact, I wanted to make surfing a career but my parents were pretty set on sending me to medical school," Cory said.

Rick said, "Dinner is on the table if you will follow me into the dining room."

We followed Rick into the dining room and we sat down with Rick and me on one side and Nancy and Cory on the other.   We had a nice meal accompanied with pleasant conversation.  

I asked Cory, "What do you plan to do after medical school?"

"I want to do research in the area of infectious diseases.   I've looked into working for the Mayo Clinic after I finish doing my residency," Cory replied.

Rick said, "Where do you think you will do your residency?"

"I have a couple of options.   I want to move back to the west coast so I've looked into several hospitals in Southern California as well as in the Seattle area," Cory responded.   "Southern California would be my first choice since I love to be on the beach.   I've enjoyed living here because I can get to so many different beaches in a couple of hours."

Just as I finished eating, I could hear that the boys wanted to be fed.   We have baby monitors set up all over the house so that we can hear when the boys are awake.   I got up from the table, "If you will excuse, I will go retrieve the boys.   Rick will you help me?"

"Sure," Rick said standing up from the table.   We carried our dishes into the kitchen and went upstairs to get the boys.

We brought the boys back into the dining room with their bottles to feed them while we had dessert.  

After dinner, we retired to the music room where Nancy and I entertained the men with music.   Nancy played several pieces on the piano and I did the same on the violin.   I looked over at Cory as he held J.J. (short for Jared James).   J.J. seemed very content.   I could see that Cory would be a good father from how he seemed to take to our little one.   Josh had fallen asleep in his father's arms.   In fact, Rick was almost asleep himself.   I quietly got up and walked into the kitchen to get my camera.  I walked back into the music room and snapped a shot of Rick and Josh asleep in the rocking chair.   Neither one of them stirred!

Cory smiled, "That should be a great addition to J.J.'s baby album!"

"Yes, it will.   I've already put together a ton of photos of the boys in their albums.   I have also kept a daily journal of their activities and achievements.   While they are sleeping, I manage to keep up with the house work, exercise and do some writing.  Of course, I still give violin and piano lessons to help out with the expenses," I said.

Nancy finished playing and came over to sit next to Cory on the couch.   "Glenn has really become Mr. Mom!   He does a great job with the boys."

"I have decided to teach myself how to become a chef.   There are a lot of on-line courses and of course there are lots of cooking shows," I said.

Nancy said, "Glenn, you already know how to cook so it shouldn't take much for you to become a gourmet chef."

"Thank you, Nancy.   I've talked to our friend, Adrian, who owns his own restaurant.   He thinks I could learn most of what I need to know on my own but recommends that I attend a culinary school if I'm really serious about it," I said.

Cory asked, "Do you want to open your own restaurant like your friend?"

"No, I was thinking more along the lines of a catering service that specializes in preparing meals for those who don't have time to cook.   Since moving here, I have seen so many couples where both work and have very little time to cook.   One of our neighbors was complaining about having to eat out all of the time or bringing home take-out food.   My idea is to provide gourmet meals for working professionals like them.   I think starting out small and trying it out on some of our neighbors would give me some experience and we would see if I could still keep up with the boys' activities, etc., at the same time.   My number one priority is to be here for the boys," I said.

Rick said, "Glenn wants to stay at home with the boys until they start school."

Nancy looked over at Rick and smiled, "How was your nap?"

Rick laughed, "I did sort of drop off there for a while didn't I?"

Nancy replied, "Yes, you did!"

Cory asked, "Rick, what are your career plans?   Do you like the company you work for now?"

"I like working for my company.   The company is a defense contractor and the owner is a former Marine like me.   I liked being a marine and this company allows me to still work closely with the military but without the threat of being discharged because I'm married to a guy," Rick said.   "Most of my co-workers know I'm gay.   My boss is very supportive of me and even authorized me to take two weeks off to help with the twins when they were born."

Cory exclaimed, "Wow!   I can't believe that a defense contractor allowed you to take off for having a baby!   There aren't very many companies that will support their gay employees that way.   There are still a lot of misperceptions out there about gay parents that cause people to oppose allowing gays to adopt children."

"Yes, we know.   We have experienced some discrimination from state workers who bring their religious bias to work with them," I said.   I glanced over at Rick before continuing, "I know that we agreed that building a home here would be the best for our children but I am still not completely sure we did the right thing by moving here.   We have wonderful neighbors and I love the community but the state government of Virginia is not at all gay friendly.   We go out walking with the boys most every night and most of the neighbors we've met are very open and friendly."

Cory asked, "Where would you move to if you decide this isn't the place for you?"

Rick answered, "We wanted to build a new home in the District of Columbia but the schools there are not very good.   We considered moving to Maryland but my work is at the Pentagon which is located just a few blocks from here.   I love being able to walk to work every morning.   What's even better is the fact that I can come home for lunch with Glenn and the twins and still make it back to work on time!"

Nancy said, "I like your home here.   It's just what you wanted and Keith and Kerry are next door."

"Yes, we are very happy with the house and we do like having my cousin and his family as our neighbors.   Cory, you will have to come back some other time so you can meet Egan.   He's our favorite little guy and his little sister, Diane, is a lot of fun, too," I said.

Nancy agreed, "Yes, Cory, I think we need to plan to another time to meet the rest of the family."

Cory smiled as he put his arm around Nancy's shoulders, "I'd love to meet your cousins, Nancy.   How about doing something this next weekend?"

Nancy replied, "That sounds good.   What do you two think?"

Rick said, "Saturday would be a good day to go to the zoo.   There is a new baby panda to see."

"Yes, let's plan a trip to the zoo.   I know that Egan will love to see the baby panda," I agreed.

Nancy said, "I'll give Keith a call."   She pulled out her cell phone and placed a call to our cousin, Keith.

"Hey!   Keith!   Are you up for going to the zoo this Saturday?" she asked.

"Sure, sounds like fun.   What time should we go?" he asked.

Nancy looked over at Rick, "What time should we leave for the zoo, Rick?"

Rick responded, "Let's plan for 9 AM."

Nancy answered Keith, "Rick says we should plan for 9 AM.   Is that okay?"

"Yes, I'll put it on the calendar.   I know the kids will be very excited to see the pandas!" Keith said.

"Cool!   Cory will be joining us as well," Nancy said smiling at her boyfriend.

Keith laughed, "So we finally get to meet the boyfriend!"

Nancy laughed as well, "Yes, you finally get to meet him!"

"I'll tell Kerry.   She will be very excited to meet Cory.   We'll see you on Saturday," Keith said.

"Bye," Nancy said.

Nancy ended the call and said, "We are all set for Saturday."

Cory said, "Why do I get the feeling that everybody is checking me out?"

Nancy laughed, "Because they are doing just that.   I have a very protective family and they are making sure you measure up."   She put her arm around Cory's waist and gave him a quick kiss.

Rick looked over at Cory, "Don't worry, Cory.   Glenn and I have already decided we like you a lot so we will vouch for you!"

Nancy laughed, "Well, Cory, you have won over the two most critical people in my family.   My brother and his husband have been most vocal about making sure you meet their criteria for someone I should be dating."

Cory laughed, "I'm glad I passed their test!"

Nancy smiled, "I knew you would."

Cory smiled as well, "Rick and Glenn thank you for dinner.   I need to be going."

"You're welcome, Cory," I said.

Rick stood up and placed J.J. in my arms.   He shook Cory's hand and then followed Nancy and Cory out into the hallway.   He returned a few minutes later.   "Nancy is going with Cory to help with some of his research at the lab."

"I like Cory.   He's very good looking and he seems to really be in love with Nancy," I said.

Rick agreed, "Yes, he's certainly smitten with her and she is just as much in love with him!"   Rick took J.J. back from me and we took the boys upstairs for a bath.   I love watching Rick give our boys their baths.   He is so gentle with them and he talks to them as he makes sure they are completely clean.   My job is to put on their diaper and clean pajamas for the evening.  

After the boys were ready, we placed them in their play pen to play with their baby toys in the study while Rick and I checked our e-mail and then spent some time talking about our finances and our plans for the rest of the week.   We spent the remainder of the evening playing with the boys until it was time to feed them, again, and put them to bed.  

With the boys asleep in their beds, Rick said, "Let's relax in the Jacuzzi tub."

"Now that sounds like fun!" I exclaimed as we both quickly stripped out of our clothes and jumped into the Jacuzzi tub in our en suite.   Rick lighted the candles and turned on the music before climbing in next to me.   The jets of hot water worked their magic as I relaxed in Rick's arms.   There is nothing better than being in your lover's arms!  

"I love being in the Jacuzzi with you," Rick said as he ran his hands over my body.  

"Hmm!" is all I could say as I enjoyed the sensation of Rick's hands caressing my skin.

Rick nibbled on my ears and I turned my head to kiss him.   He gently bit me on the neck.   Talk about being totally turned on!   Rick continued his ministrations until we were both very ready to make love to each other!   Rick stepped out of the tub and then helped me out.   We dried each other off before Rick led me back into our bedroom.  

Rick said, "May I invite you to join me?"   Rick pulled back the comforter and the top sheet and climbed into our bed and waited for me to join him.   I took a moment to admire the Adonis who is my husband from his beautiful face all the way down to his perfectly shaped toes.  

"You look good enough to eat!" I exclaimed.   I got in beside him and ran my hands over his newly shaved chest.   "I miss your hairy chest but I like you this way, too.   I like how my hands seem to glide over your skin."    I leaned closer and kissed my lover boy.

Rick said, "It was your idea to shave off all of our body hair so I hope you like it!"

I looked into Rick's eyes, "You didn't complain when I rubbed the baby oil all over your body last night!"

Rick grinned, "No, I really enjoyed it.   In fact, you can do it again tonight!"

I rolled over and reached for the baby oil sitting on the nightstand.   I straddled my lover boy and started rubbing baby oil into his skin enjoying the feel of Rick's muscles under my hands.   Rick moaned with pleasure.   I continued until I had massaged every part of Rick's body.   Rick rolled me over on my back and began to make passionate love to me.  

At the height of our passion, the boys started to cry.   Rick collapsed on top of me and kissed me deeply.

When we surfaced for air, Ricked asked, "Whose turn is it to stay up with the boys?"

"Mine," I said and pulled Rick down for another kiss before getting out of bed and pulling on some clothes before padding down the hall to the boys' room.  I turned on the light and went over to J.J.'s bed and picked him up.   I felt his diaper and found it needed changing.

I placed him on the changing table and kissed the top of his head.   He gurgled and waved his arms back and forth as I changed his diaper.   "J.J. we need to get you on a normal sleep schedule," I said to the little guy as I picked him up and headed downstairs to get a bottle of baby formula.   I warmed the bottle and tested it on my forearm to make sure it wasn't too hot.   I took J.J. back upstairs to his room and sat down in the rocking chair to feed him and hopefully get him back to sleep.   I burped J.J. after giving him part his bottle.  

I gently rubbed his back and patted him occasionally until he relaxed and we got the gas out of his stomach.   I laid him back in my arms and saw that he was till wide awake.   "Jared James, it is time to sleep not for staying up all night," I said looking at the little one in my arms.   J.J. just gurgled some and took the bottle I offered him. 

I continued to feed J.J. stopping every so often to burp the baby.   As I fed him his bottle, I couldn't help smiling at the little guy.   He looks so much like his daddy.   Yet, I could see Nancy in him as well.   Thus far, J.J. seems to have his Dad's disposition – very calm and even tempered.   Josh, on the other hand, looked and acted a lot like me – mostly very happy but very high maintenance, at least it seemed that way to me.   J.J.'s dark hair had continued to grow and his eyes are brown just like Rick's.   Josh's dark hair had all fallen out and fine blond hair was growing in its place.   In fact, Josh's hair is so fine he almost looks bald!    Josh's eyes have turned a brilliant dark blue.   Both boys have deep dimples in both cheeks.   J.J. had his father's nose and mouth while Josh had Nancy's nose and my mouth.   Both had the same face shape as my mother.   The photographers in the mall had begged us to bring the twins inside to take a photograph of them.   Admittedly, they are very good looking babies.   We acquiesced and had the boys' picture taken.   The photos were totally awesome!   The shop owner asked us if he could display them in his establishment.   Rick and I agreed if we could get a discount on the price of the photos we wanted to purchase.   We struck a deal so now there are two huge portraits of my boys hanging in the window at the mall!

By the time J.J. finished his formula, his eyes were starting to get heavy.   I held him in my arms with his head on my shoulder as I gently rubbed his back.   Again, I felt him relax and burp.   It wasn't long before I could tell J.J. had fallen asleep.   I carefully placed him in his crib and then tiptoed over to check on Josh who was sound asleep.

I quietly returned to our bedroom to find Rick snoring softly.   I climbed in next to him and he rolled over and put his arms around me, pulling me closer to him.   I looked to see if he was awake and found Rick was still asleep so I laid my head on his chest and soon joined him in slumber.        

Saturday arrived and we had a very excited young man running up and down the stairs as we got the twins ready for their first real day out since we brought them home from the hospital.   Egan kept asking, "Are we ready, yet?"

My answer was always the same, "Not yet, Egan.   Remember, we have two babies to get ready not just one."

Egan asked, "Can I help?"

I smiled at the excitement Egan was just barely managing to contain at the prospect of going to the zoo.   "Yes, Egan, you can help.   Can you bring me the twins diaper bag so we can make sure we have everything?"

Egan scrambled down from his perch on the arm of the rocking chair and made his way over to the side of the room where the diaper bag was stored.   He picked it up and brought to me.

"Thank you, Egan," I said smiling at him.

Rick entered the room to help finish getting the twins ready, "Egan, are you helping get the twins ready?"

"Yes, Rick, I am supervising Glenn.   Daddy said I would make a good supervisor because I am good giving directions," Egan said.

Rick laughed, "So what directions did you give Glenn?"

Egan stood up straight and tall, "I told Glenn he needed to make sure the baby's diaper was dry and watched as Glenn put on Josh's clothes."

Rick asked, "Did Glenn do it right?"

Egan reported, "Yes, he did everything correctly."

I asked, "Egan, how do you know I did it right?"

"I know because I have watched my Mom dress Diane many times and you did it the same way," Egan said in a tone of voice that left no doubt that he knew what he was talking about.

Rick said, "Thank you, Egan, for your help this morning."   He looked over at me, "What still needs to be done?"

I smiled at my love and pointed to the baby carrier, "You can put J.J. in his car seat.   I'm almost finished getting Josh dressed."

Rick walked over to J.J.'s crib and lifted him up and placed him in his car seat and buckled him in.   I finished with Josh and did the same thing.   We took the baby carriers downstairs where Keith, Kerry, Nancy and Cory were waiting.  

Diane was walking around the kitchen.   The toddler came over and pulled on my pant leg and asked, "Can I have a cookie, please?"

I glanced over at her mother, "You can if your Mom says you can."  

Diane looked over at her mother.   Kerry answered with a smile, "Yes, baby, you can have a cookie."

I reached into our cookie jar and took out a chocolate chip cookie and handed it Diane.   Kerry gently reminded her, "Diane, what do you say to Glenn?"

Diane looked up at me and said, "Thank you."

"You are welcome," I replied.   "Does anyone else want a cookie?"  

Right away Egan appeared in the kitchen doorway, "Can I have one, too?"

I looked over at Kerry who nodded her head, "Yes, Sir Egan, you may have a cookie."

I handed him a cookie and then I passed the cookie jar around to the adults.   Cory said, "These are great cookies, Glenn."

"Thanks, Cory.   They are my mother's recipe," I said.

Nancy smiled, "I thought they tasted familiar.   I wondered if you were getting some of her recipes from her when you called her yesterday."

"I was but not the chocolate chip cookie one.   I already had that one.   She gave me her recipes for a couple of different soups she used to make for us as kids," I said.

Rick asked, "Did you get the ham and hominy one?"

"Yes, I did.   I made sure I got that one," I said smiling at my husband.  "I know how much you liked it when Mom made it for us the last time we were home."

Nancy said, "Hmm…that sounds good.   I haven't had ham and hominy for years.   You will have to make it for us so Cory can try it, too.   Mom used to cook ham and hominy for us along with zucchini squash."

Cory looked a little dubious, "Are you sure it will taste good?   I have heard of hominy grits and I hate grits!"

"No, it's not grits.   We don't like them either.   Mom always said that grits were for poor people to eat and we weren't poor," Nancy said.

"That's right!   Mom did say that whenever someone asked her if she liked grits!   I wonder if Grandpa and Grandma Scarborough like to eat grits." I asked.

Nancy laughed, "Probably not since Mom doesn't like them."

Keith spoke up, "No, they don't eat grits.   My parents don't either.   I remember my Mom saying the same thing about grits as Aunt Eva."

Kerry confirmed what Keith was saying, "Yes, I've heard her say that about grits.   I like grits but Keith doesn't like them so we don't have them very often."

Rick looked at the clock and asked, "Are we ready to go?"

"Yes, we're ready," replied Keith.  

We headed out the door to our cars.   We caravanned over to the National Zoo.   Rick pulled into the upper parking lot since it is closest to the Panda House.   We paid the parking fee and found a parking spot.   The day was bright and sunny if a little cool. 

Rick and I loaded the twins into the double stroller.   We have the kind that lets you snap in the car seat so you don't have to transfer the babies to a different seat.   Rick pushed the stroller while I held Egan's hand to prevent him from skipping out into the middle of the parking lot he was so excited.

Egan looked up at me, "Glenn, have you ever seen a panda bear before?"

"Yes, Egan, I have.   Remember, we came here last year to see the panda bears?" I asked.

Egan thought for a minute, "Yes, I do remember now.   I guess I forgot."

Luckily for us, there wasn't a line to get into the Panda House.   I lifted Egan up onto my shoulders to he could get a better look at the baby panda.   Diane had the perfect view point from her father's shoulders as well.  From the Panda House, we went to the Elephant House.   As soon as we entered, the strong stench of the animals hit me pretty hard.

Egan said, "It stinks in here.   Can we hurry?   I don't want to be here."

"Okay," I said, completely in agreement with Egan.

Cory and Nancy walked hand in hand slightly ahead of me and Egan.   As I watched them, Cory leaned over and gave Nancy a quick kiss.

Seeing them holding hands, Egan looked up at me and asked, "Are Cory and Nancy going to get married?"

I responded, "I don't know, Egan.   I hope so because I really like Cory.   He's nice."

Egan said, "I think he's nice, too.   He talked to me and asked me if I liked being a big brother."

"You are a great big brother, Egan.   You take good care of Diane," I said.

We eventually reached Amazonia at the bottom of the long hill that is the National Zoo.   The warmth and humidity of the exhibit soon had all of stripping off our jackets.   I took the blankets off the boys so they wouldn't get overheated.   Egan and Diane enjoyed the hands on exhibits and the docent's explanations of the kinds of things that are found in the Amazon region of South America.  Egan's favorite exhibit is the huge fish tank holds giant fish found in the Amazon River like the arapaima.

Diane liked the rainforest exhibit with its birds and many different kinds of plants.   Diane kept pointing to the birds and saying, "Look at the pretty birds."

By the time we finished with Amazonia, it was close to lunchtime.   So we headed back to our cars and returned home.   I left chili in the crock pot to keep warm and had turned on the break machine so we would return to freshly baked bread to go with our chili.   Of course, I cooked up some macaroni and cheese for Egan and Diane since the chili was too spicy for them to eat.   For dessert, I served homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream.   It was plain fare but it hit the spot.

Cory pushed his chair back from the table and said, "Glenn that was a great meal.   I have not tasted a better apple pie."

"I am glad you liked it," I replied.   Everyone else echoed Cory's approval.   We cleared the table and moved into the family room where Rick had started a fire burning.   The family room is our favorite since it is so cozy and warm.    The room extends along the back side of the house with French doors that open out on to the deck.   The floor is covered with a nice thick beige-colored carpet.   (We have nice hardwood floors everywhere else in the house except in the bathrooms of course).  We left the walls a soft off-white.   Across the back of the house and on both sides the windows are nearly floor to ceiling with lunettes at the top.   At one end are little shelves with cubby holes for tubs filled with toys.   This is our playroom for the twins with toy boxes that double as bench seats dividing it off from the rest of the room.   Egan and Diane quickly made their way to the toys and proceeded to build miniature city out of Lego blocks.

At the other end of the room, the adults scattered to the various comfortable couches, rocking chairs and recliners that Rick had arranged around the fireplace.   Rick had brought down the boys' playpen from their room and set up next to us and had placed them in it to play with their toys.   Of course, they mostly looked at their mobiles and tried to swat at the various shapes that hung above them.  Cory and Nancy had chosen the loveseat while Rick and I had chosen the recliners on either side of the playpen.   Keith and Kerry were seated together on the couch opposite Cory and Nancy.  

Cory looked around at the art work Rick and I had chosen for this room.   "I really like the paintings you have up in this room.   Are they all originals?" he asked.

Rick responded, "Yes, they are.   Our brother-in-law, Shawn, painted most of them."

Nancy pointed to the painting that hung over the fireplace, "That one is a painting of Shawn's village on the Pacific Coast of British Colombia.   Shawn is a member of one of the First Nations of Canada and his paintings reflect much of his heritage.   If you look closely, you can see several of his village's totem poles."

Cory stood up to take a closer look, "I can see two men holding hands near one of the totem poles.   The details of their faces are amazing."

I said, "That is because they are Randy and Shawn.  Shawn painted himself and my brother into the scene of his home village on Cormorant Island.   They have been married for over nine years now.   Has Nancy shared with you what happened when my parents found out they were a couple?"

Cory looked at me and smiled, "Yes, she has told me how your father reacted.   She has made it pretty clear that I need to be accepting of her brothers and their partners."

 Nancy smiled as well, "I was pretty direct about that wasn't I?"

Cory laughed, "Let's just say you hammered that point home in the first few minutes after we met."

Kerry said, "Good for you Nancy!   It never hurts to let your man know where you stand on things!"   She grinned at her husband who nodded his head in agreement.

"Kerry has never been shy about expressing her opinions and making sure I know exactly how things are going to be," Keith said smiling at his wife.

Kerry was quick to note, "Don't think for an instant that Keith is a henpecked husband because he's NOT!   He is just as vocal in his opinions as I am!  What's more he gets his way at least 50 percent of the time if not more!"

Rick and I nodded our heads in agreement.   Rick said, "We can attest to that fact.   We have lived close to Keith and Kerry for many years now and they make a very good couple."

Cory said, "Your houses look almost exactly alike.   Nancy tells me that you bought several lots and knocked down the old houses and built two new ones."

Keith said, "That's correct.   Our houses are a lot like because we sat down together and talked about what features we all wanted in a home.   There are some small differences like the huge Jacuzzi tub that Rick and Glenn had installed in their master bath.   We opted for a regular bathtub."

Rick said, "Would you like a tour of the house, Cory?"

"Sure if it's not too much trouble," Cory replied smiling at Rick.

Kerry said, "Keith and I will stay and watch over the children while you go with Cory and Nancy."

I said, "Thank you, Kerry."

Rick said, "Let's start with the foyer and go from there."   Rick explained how we had drawn up the plans for the house.    "On the main level, we have the kitchen, dining room, music room, family room and a formal sitting room which I think you have already seen."

Cory said, "That's correct I have."

Rick led us upstairs, "There are a total of five bedrooms up here.   Here is the master bedroom.   On summer evenings, we like to sit outside on the balcony through those French doors."

Cory said, "I like the way you have laid out your room with a fireplace and a little sitting area for reading at one end and the bedroom furniture at the other.   I also like the big four-poster bed.   I hate tiny beds!   I have stayed at some hotels where my feet hang over the end of the bed because I'm so tall."

"We like having the fireplace in the room.   It's really been nice to sit around the fire with the twins in the evening and relax.   Since the fire is actually natural gas it makes it easy to maintain and we don't have to worry about all the mess that comes with a wood-burning fireplace," I said.

Cory agreed, "It's pretty convenient to be able to flip a switch and have the fire start instead of having to take the time to start the fire.   My friends have a wood-burning fireplace and they have a lot of trouble with it drawing air properly.   They have to open their doors or windows to get the smoke to go up the chimney."

As we left our room, Nancy said, "This is my room."   She opened the door.   Her room is decorated with many bright floral patterns on the walls and the four-poster bed is hung with curtains that could be drawn around the bed to keep out the cold air.   Next Rick led us down the hall to the twins' bedroom.

"This is the nursery.   Eventually, we plan to move one of the twins into the guest room next door but for now we will keep them together," Rick said.

The nursery walls were a pale blue with a train wallpaper border around the top.   There were also several wall hangings showing scenes from nursery rhymes with matching curtains on the windows.   The twins' baby cribs were placed on one side of the room next to each other with their dressers on the other next to the changing table.

Cory smiled, "This reminds me of my parents' home.   When we were little, our playroom was decorated in a very similar manner."

Rick led us down the hall past the guest room to the study.   "This last room we have turned into our office."

There were two office desks in the room along with filing cabinets, computers, etc.

"Rick works from home sometimes so we have everything he needs to do his job," I said.

Rick then led us back downstairs to the basement.   "Down here we have the recreation room, home theater, weight room, laundry room and storage room."

When Cory saw the pool table, he said, "Nice!   We will have to play pool sometime soon."

"The pool table doubles as table tennis as well," I said.

Nancy said, "I like the home theater with its huge screen and nice comfortable seats."

Cory walked to examine the home entertainment center at one end of the room.   Rick said, "We have almost every piece of equipment for playing music, watching movies, playing videos games, etc."

Cory smiled, "Sweet!!   Do you two play video games?"

I laughed, "Of course!  We will have to challenge to a competition next time you're over."

Rick turned to Cory, "Let warn you ahead of time.   Don't let Glenn talk you into betting against him.   You will lose every time!"

Cory smiled, "Thank you for the warning.   I will make sure I don't bet anything so if I lose only my pride will be hurt."

"Rick you spoiled my fun!   Now I will have to beg Cory to play against me," I said laughing.

Nancy said, "Cory, listen to Rick.   Don't let my brother lure you into playing against him!   I, too, have lost many games playing against Glenn."

Cory laughed, "Boy, Glenn, you sure have a reputation for being ruthless!"

"Not so much ruthless as merciless!" I exclaimed.

Rick said, "There is not much difference, sweetheart!"

"Well, maybe you are right about that," I admitted smiling at my lover boy.   "However, you always seem to get even somehow!"

Rick grinned, "Yes, I do and don't you ever forget that!"

Rick led us into the weight room.   "We have all the equipment you could ever need to keep in shape.   Weights, exercise bikes, treadmill, stair steppers, Nordic track, and anything else you might want."

The walls were covered with mirrors just like in the gym with a flat screen TV mounted on the wall and a small sound system in one corner.   

"I like to watch the news in the morning as I work out," I said.

"We go out running in the mornings before I go to work," Rick said.   "It gets the blood pumping and keeps me from getting fat.   Glenn's cooking makes it difficult for me to keep trim and fit."

"It's not my fault!   I don't put the food in your mouth!" I exclaimed.

"True.   However, you do know how to cook some wonderful meals," Rick said.

We checked out the rest of the rooms in the basement and headed back upstairs to join the others.

Cory asked, "How many square feet is your home?"

Rick answered, "4,300 square feet of living space.   That doesn't include the three car garage or the tool shed.   We have a Jacuzzi outside as well as a swimming pool."

We entered the family room to find Keith and Kerry reading stories to Egan and Diane.   They paused in their reading when we entered the room.

Egan looked at Cory and said, "Daddy is a good storyteller.   Cory, are you a good storyteller?"

Cory said, "I used to be but I don't get very much practice anymore.   Would you like me to tell you story?"

Egan grinned, "Yes, please."

Cory sat down next to Egan on the floor and began to tell a story about a dog named Rover.   Egan and Diane listened intently to the adventures of Rover.

While Cory told his story, Rick and I retrieved the twins from their playpen and held them on our laps so they could see Cory and the kids on the floor.

When Cory finished his story, Nancy said, "I've never heard that story before.   Where did you hear it?"

Cory said, "I made it up just now.   I used to tell my little brothers and sister stories every night before they went to bed.   I have very fond memories of those evenings when they were gathered around me to hear my stories."

Cory stood up and sat next to Nancy on the loveseat.   We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and enjoying each other's company.  

As evening approached, Cory and Nancy left us to go over to the university to check on one of their experiments.   Keith and Kerry returned to their home.

Rick said, "Let me cook dinner for you tonight, dear."

"Okay," I said wondering what Rick had in mind.

About an hour later, Rick called me to join him in the kitchen.   I had finished feeding the boys their formula and they had fallen asleep so I left them in their playpen to sleep.

I walked into the kitchen and stopped in surprise.   Rick had set the kitchen table with a beautiful table cloth, candles, and a small bouquet of fresh cut flowers.   Where he managed to get the flowers I didn't know.  

"Wow!   When did you have time to get flowers?" I asked in amazement.

"While you were feeding the babies, I made a quick run to the store," Rick answered.

"I didn't even hear you leave," I said.

Rick laughed, "Good.   I wanted you to be surprised.   Come sit down."

He pulled out my chair and helped me get seated.   He brought out a nice garden salad.   Then a steak and baked potato with steamed broccoli.   For dessert, he had made brownies and topped them with vanilla ice cream.

As we finished eating, I said, "Thank you for the wonderful meal and the great company."

I walked around the table and kissed my lover boy.   Rick stood up and we cleared the table and I helped him clean up the kitchen.   We took the boys upstairs and bathed them and put them into their pajamas.

Rick brought their playpen upstairs to our room as we relaxed around our fireplace and enjoyed being with our boys.

"I think Cory is going to ask Nancy to marry him," I said.

"Why do you think that?" Rick asked.

"Cory asked me if he could help plan a surprise birthday party for Nancy next week," I said.

Rick looked at me in surprise, "When did he ask you that?   I thought Nancy was with him almost every second of the day today!"

"He pulled me aside while Nancy and Kerry were helping Diane and Egan get their stuffed panda bears at the zoo gift shop," I replied smiling at Rick.

"Where was I?   I don't remember that," Rick asked still not believing me.

"You were talking with Keith about going to a basketball game Saturday night," I answered.

Rick thought for a moment, "Yes, I remember that conversation.   Okay, so he asked you to help plan a birthday party.   That doesn't mean he's going to pop the question."

"No, it doesn't but Cory said he wanted to give Nancy a very special birthday present," I said.

Rick laughed, "I think we should wait and see what happens.   How many people does he want to invite?"

"He said there are about a dozen people from the university and of course, Keith and Kerry," I replied.   "Nancy's birthday is on Wednesday so he has already asked her out for dinner that night.   So he will come and pick her up around 6 PM and take her for nice drive around town while we get things set up here."

Rick said, "Sounds like you and Cory have everything already worked out between you."

"Not quite.   I still need your help to get everything ready without Nancy suspecting that anything is going on," I said.  "Will you agree to help me?"

"Alright, I'll do it for a price," Rick said as he grinned very broadly and reached over and started rubbing the inside of my thigh.   "I think you know what the price will be," he continued as he leaned over and gave me a kiss.

As he drew back, I grinned back at him.  "I'm more than willing to pay the price for your assistance."

Rick's grin got even wider, "Good.   It's settled then."

It wasn't long after we had the boys settled in their room asleep that Rick demanded payment!

The days flew by as I made preparations for Nancy's birthday party.   Fortunately, we had an extra refrigerator and a half empty freezer in the basement where I could store all the pre-prepared food I had put together.   Keith and Kerry also kept some of it at their place.   On Wednesday, Cory collected Nancy at the appointed time.   Before Cory climbed into the driver's seat, he gave me the thumbs up sign.   I watched them drive off and turn the corner before I went back inside to start setting up for the party.

I called Keith and Kerry to let them Nancy was gone and it was safe for them to come over.   Egan came running into the kitchen moments later.

"Do I get to help with the birthday cake?" Egan asked excitedly.   "Mommy said you would let me help decorate it!"

"Yes, I did.   Climb up to the table and I will bring the cake over with the icing," I said.

I couldn't help but be excited as I worked with Egan to frost the cake and then add flowers and writing that said, "Happy Birthday, Nancy!"

"Egan, I think you managed to eat as much frosting as you put on the cake!" I exclaimed looking at Egan's face.   It was covered with pink and blue frosting as were his fingers.

"Let's get you cleaned up so you don't get sticky frosting everywhere," I said.

I pulled over the step stool to the kitchen sink and Egan climbed up so he could reach the faucet.   We managed to get him clean without getting water everywhere; which sometimes happens when we are having a good time goofing around.

Rick had brought everything upstairs from the freezer and refrigerator.   We defrosted it or put in the oven to warm it.   Soon, our guests started to arrive.   Most of them parked down the street at the church or further down the block so their cars wouldn't give away the surprise.   We had talked with the church pastor on Monday and asked his permission to use his church's parking lot for the evening.   He agreed and we called everyone to give them directions as to where to park.

I escorted everyone into the music room they would not be heard or seen because of the extra insulation we had put inside the walls for the room.   We had brought in round tables and arranged the chairs around them to accommodate everyone.  Rick had placed two long tables against one wall where I had the food spread out for everyone to eat.  We put up a big banner that said, "Happy Birthday, Nancy!" across one end of the room.   There were many balloons tied to every chair and fresh cut flowers placed in the center of every table.   I glanced around the room one last time to make sure everything was in its place.   Satisfied, I closed the door after the last guest had arrived and then sent a text message to Cory that we were ready.   A few minutes later Cory and Nancy returned.

Nancy said, "But I thought you were taking me out for dinner."

I could hear the disappointment in her voice.

"I'm so sorry, Nancy," Cory said as he entered the house.  

I came into the foyer and said, "Nancy, I want you to hear the new composition I have written."

Nancy wasn't very happy but she acquiesced to my request and followed me down the hall to the music room.   I opened the door and then stood aside to let Nancy enter first.

Everyone in the room shouted, "SURPRISE!" as she came into the room.

Nancy, now smiling, turned to me and said, "Glenn, how did you manage to pull this off without me knowing anything about it?"

"It was Cory's idea and he did all of planning," I said smiling at Cory.

Rick joined me and placed his arm around my waist, "Happy Birthday, Nancy.   Won't you come in and join the party?"

Cory led Nancy to the front of the room and sat her down at the head table.   Kerry stood and said in loud voice that carried to the back of the room, "On three everyone, One, Two, Three!"   Then everyone started singing "Happy Birthday" to Nancy.

Rick instructed everyone to help themselves to the buffet.   Soon everyone was seated again, each with a plateful of food and their favorite beverage.   The buzz of conversations filled the room as our guests talked among themselves and enjoyed their meal.

As everyone seemed to be finishing with their meal, Cory stood up and got everyone's attention.  "Thank you everyone for being here tonight to celebrate Nancy's birthday.   I want to give Nancy her first gift of the evening."   He pulled a small velvet jewelers box out his of pocket and opened.   I could see that it held a diamond ring which he removed from the box.   Cory knelt down in front of Nancy and presented the ring to her, "Will you marry me?"

Nancy's face lit up with happiness as she answered him, "Yes, Cory I will marry you."

A cheer went up from the crowd, "Hurrah! Hurrah!" and shouts of "Congratulations!" filled the air.

Cory slid the ring onto Nancy's finger and stood up pulling her to her feet and proceeded to kiss her.   This brought lots of whistles and cat calls from our guests.   Nancy blushed from all the attention and Cory looked like the happiest man on earth.   Everyone lined up to congratulate the happy couple.

I leaned over and whispered in Rick's ear, "I remember when you proposed to me.   When it dawned on me what you were going to do, I was thinking I hope he doesn't kneel down to ask for hand in marriage!   Then you did just that!   The whole restaurant burst into applause, remember?"

Rick replied, "Yes, I remember it very clearly.   I was never so nervous in all my life."

"But you knew what my answer was going to be before you asked so why were you so nervous?" I asked looking at Rick.

Rick said earnestly, "There was always a chance you would say, "No," and I didn't know if I could handle being rejected by you."

I laughed, "You know now that I would never have told you "no!"   In fact, I have a hard time telling you "no" when you are so sweet and charming!"

Rick grinned from ear to ear, "You love me and you know it!"

I leaned over and kissed him, "Yes, I do love you very much."

We got up from the table and mingled with our guests.   Later in the evening, I caught Nancy and Cory alone in the kitchen.

"Congratulations, Nancy," I said and gave her a quick hug.

Nancy said, "Thank you, Glenn for hosting my birthday party."

I smiled, "You are welcome.   Have you called Mom and Dad?"

"No, I haven't called them, yet." Nancy said.   "Cory and I will call them in the morning."

Cory said, "I really nervous about talking to them since I have never met them."

Nancy said, "Don't worry, Cory.   Glenn and Rick will vouch for you.   That will be enough to make Mom and Dad happy."

I said, "Yes, we have already told them about you."

Nancy did a double take, "You did?  I haven't said anything to them about Cory.   I should have known you would rat me out!"

I grinned, "Sorry, Nancy.   I promised Mom that I would call her every week.   She especially asked to know about you and what you were doing.   I told her you had met a wonderful man who treated you like royalty."

At this point, Cory started blush.  "You look so handsome when you blush, Cory," I teased.

Nancy laughed, "Yes, you do look very handsome, Cory."

"I know you haven't had time to think about a date for the wedding but do you have an idea of when?" I asked.

Nancy said, "Yes, I have thought about it a lot actually.   I want a June wedding and I want to be married at The White House in Stratford where you and Rick had your reception."

Cory smiled, "You have told me a lot about the place already so I assumed that would be where you wanted to be married."

Nancy put her arm around Cory's waist, "Glenn, you see why I love Cory so much?"

"Yes, I do.   In fact, if I wasn't already married, I would be running after Cory myself," I said laughing as Rick put his arms around my waist.   "Fortunately, I am very happily married."  I leaned back against Rick's chest enjoying the warmth of his body.

Rick said, "Welcome to the family, Cory.   It's nice to have another brother-in-law join the family."

After all our guest had gone home, we took turns feeding the babies and taking care of them as we cleaned up after the party.   Keith returned to help us after helping Kerry get the children off to bed.

Rick said, "Thank you, Keith for helping us out tonight."

"You are welcome.   We had a very nice time tonight.   Kerry and Nancy have already started the wedding planning.   In fact, she and Nancy have decided to spend all day tomorrow looking for a wedding dress."

"I guess that means I'll be babysitting Egan and Diane tomorrow," I said smiling.

"Would you mind doing that for us?" Keith asked.

"I love babysitting them.   Tell Kerry to drop them off when she is ready to go," I said.

We finished cleaning up and bid Keith good night.

I collapsed on the couch in the family room and said, "I am totally exhausted."

Rick sat down next to me and pulled me onto his lap, "You have a right to be wore out.   You have been going non-stop for nearly week getting ready for this event."

I just nodded my head and leaned my head against his chest.   Rick held me in his arms while I started to relax.   I must have fell asleep because the next thing I remember is being lifted up off the couch and carried upstairs to our bedroom.   I wrapped my arms around Rick's neck and whispered in his ear, "I love you."

Rick replied, "I love you, too."   He put me down on our bed and helped me get undressed and tucked me into bed climbing in beside me.   He pulled me into his arms and kissed me.

Rick said, "Good night sweetheart."

I woke up to the sound of the boys crying.   I clamored out of bed and walked down the hall to the boys rooms.   As I entered their room I glanced at the digital clock on their dresser.   It said 2 AM.   I turned on the lights as both boys were awake.

I said soothingly, "Okay boys, Papa's here.   It's time to turn the volume down a bit."   Rick and I had talked it over and decided that the boys should call Rick Dad or Daddy and that they would call me Papa.   That way we would know who they were talking to and it would help reduce confusion.

I picked up J.J. first and carried him to the changing table.   As soon as he was in my arms he stopped crying.   He grabbed my fingers as I undressed him so I could change his diaper.   Josh had stopped crying when his brother did.   Already we had noticed a connection between the two boys.   When one was happy, so was the other.   When the other was unhappy so was his twin.   I had mentioned this to Rick a few days ago.   We researched it on the internet and found that it was very common for twins to have an affinity for how the other was feeling.

I finished with J.J. and returned him to his crib and retrieved Josh from his.   I made quick work of changing Josh and returned him to his bed as well.

I said to the boys, "I'll be right back with your bottles.   Now don't make any more noise or you will wake your father."

I went downstairs to the kitchen and warmed their bottles.   I tested the formula's temperature by putting a drop on my wrist.   Finding them to be the right temperature, I returned to the waiting boys.   I put the bottles on the nightstand next to the rocking chair.   I picked up Josh and gave him his bottle.   He hungrily sucked on the nipple of the bottle.

I looked into his eyes and said, "Slow down, Josh.   You know that drinking your bottle that fast will give you a tummy ache."

I pulled the bottle from his mouth for a moment and laid him on my shoulder and gently rubbed his back until we got the air out of his stomach.

"There, isn't that much better?" I asked as I returned the bottle to Josh's mouth.

Josh drank his bottle at a much slower pace after that.   Soon he was drifting off to sleep.   I burped him one more time before putting him in his crib.

I picked up J.J. who gurgled at him, "Thank for waiting little one.   You are so patient while your brother is so much the opposite."

I gave J.J. his bottle which he drank slowly.  He grabbed my finger and held on to it for a few minutes.   "You are so much like your Daddy," I said as he finished his bottle.   I burped him as I did Josh.   I held him there as I rocked back and forth.   I felt him relax and soon he fell asleep.   I returned him to his bed and turned out the lights.

I returned to our bedroom and climbed into bed.   Rick pulled him into his arms and whispered, "Thank you for taking care of the twins.   I know how tired you are."

Rick kissed me.   "I love you," Rick said as I snuggled close to him and put my head on his chest.

"I love you, too," I replied sleepily as I drifted off thinking how happy I felt to be in Rick's arms.

After Nancy got engaged, Rick and I noticed how she seemed to be floating on air all the time.   She was always humming to herself or singing one of her favorite songs.   Of course, Cory started spending a lot time at the house which gave us the opportunity to get to know him better.   One evening late in March, we asked Nancy and Cory to watch the twins for us so we could go out on a date.   We decided we would take a walk around the neighborhood with our ending point being 23rd Street in Crystal City where there are a number of very good restaurants.   It was still a little cool so we dress in sweaters with a light jacket to keep the wind from giving us a chill.

We left the house and walked hand in hand for a few blocks in silence.   When we reached the big mansion on the corner, we met an elderly lady out walking her dog.

Rick asked, "Pardon me, Ma'am, do you know who lives in this house."   He pointed to the mansion in front of us.

The lady nodded her head, "No, I don't know her personally but I do know that she's the General's mistress.   He built her the house to keep her happy so she wouldn't rat him out to his wife.   He used to come over frequently to see her but it's been quite a long time since I've seen his car in her driveway."

I said, "Thank, Ma'am.   We are still rather new to the neighborhood and trying to get to know our neighbors."

She reached out her hand, "My name is Millie Wheelwright.   I have seen you out and about when I have been out walking Mitsy."

Rick said, "Nice to meet you.   I am Rick Lernier and this is my partner, Glenn Lernier."

She smiled, "Glad to meet you.   I live a few blocks from here near the park.   I've seen you out walking with your babies in their double stroller.   How old are they?"

Rick smiled, "The twins are almost three months old."

"That's wonderful!   Congratulations!  I just love little ones.   I look forward to seeing you again," she said as she continued on her way.

I looked at Rick, "I wonder if the General she referred to is the same General that we know?"

Rick laughed, "It might be.   We will have to find a way to ask the General about it sometime."

Walked a few more blocks and turned down 23rd Street.   Rick asked, "Which restaurant do you want to go to?"

"I'm in the mood for Italian food.   Does that sound okay to you?" I asked.

"Sounds good to me," Rick replied.

We reached our favorite Italian restaurant, The Portofino, and Rick held the door of the restaurant open for me to enter and the waiter, seeing us, quickly came over, "How are you this evening, gentlemen?"

"We're doing well, thank you," I responded.

The waiter whose name was John asked, "Would you like your usual table?"

Rick answered, "Yes, please."

John showed us to our table.   "I will be right back with your beverages," he said as he retreated to the kitchen.  He returned with a cup of Rick's favorite wine and a glass of ice water for me.   He placed some fresh bread and garlic butter on the table.   "Are you ready to order?"

Rick nodded and gave him our orders.   Rick turned back to me and asked, "Are we going downtown to the Cherry Blossom Festival tomorrow?"

I thought for a moment, "If it's warm enough to take the twins out for the day, yes, I think we should go.   There will be tons of tourists but I love the cherry blossoms around the tidal basin.   They smell so wonderful and I love seeing the monuments."

Rick smiled, "You always like to see the monuments.   I like going to see them at night.   It adds a whole new dimension to them.   You could say they seem to speak to me; especially the Lincoln Memorial.   There is almost a feeling of reverence inside the statuary hall where Lincoln sits looking out over the mall.   It's just not the same going there during the daytime."

I said, "I agree with you but it's easier to see the cherry blossoms during the daylight hours."

Rick said, "You are right about that.   We need to pick up some baby carriers for our bikes so we can ride them downtown."

"We'll have to one that looks like a mini trailer until the twins can sit up by themselves," I said.

"Or we can wait until there a little older and just buy the kind that strap onto the rear of our bikes, one for your bike and one for mine," Rick said thoughtfully.

"Let's think about for a bit then.   I'm not quite ready to take the boys out on bike rides, yet.   I think they are still too young.   The twins' two-month check up is on Friday.  We are scheduled to see Dr. Read at 9 AM," I said.

"Thank you for reminding me.   I want to be there for their check up.  I like Dr. Read.   She is very down to earth and always gives us practical advice," Rick said.

"It's hard to believe that the boys will be two months old tomorrow.   They have been growing so fast over the last few weeks," I said.

Rick said, "I was worried about Nancy at first.   She seemed really down after the babies were born."

"That's called the baby blues (or post-partum depression).   It happens to all women after they have their babies.   Remember, they talked about that during our birthing classes," I said.

"I'd forgotten about that," Rick admitted.   "She seems very happy now though."

"Yeah, Cory has made a big difference in her life.   I'm very happy for them.   Nancy told me that it will be much easier for her to leave the boys now that she has Cory.   Part of her depression was caused by her thoughts of leaving the twins," I said.

"I wondered about that," Rick responded.   "In fact, it had me rather worried.   I kept thinking that maybe we had made a mistake in asking her to be our surrogate."

"Nancy and I talked about it for a long time yesterday while you were at work.   I think things will work out just fine," I said smiling at my sweetheart.

We continued to talk of other domestic things until our meal arrived.   After dinner, we walked back to our home to find that Nancy and Cory were reading stories to Egan and Diane with Keith and Kerry each holding one of the twins.

When Cory finished reading his story, Egan announced, "Cory and Nancy have some good news."

Rick smiled at Egan and asked, "And I suppose that you are going to tell us what it is?"

Egan shook his head, "No.   I promised not to tell."

Nancy laughed, "You kept your promise Egan so I will tell Rick and Glenn myself."   Nancy looked over at us and said, "Cory is going to do his residency at the UCLA Medical Center."

"Congratulations!" I exclaimed.

Cory said, "Thank you Glenn.   It's where I wanted to go.   I'm glad I was accepted there.   While I'm doing my residency, I can still do medical research.   I have already talked with the research guys there as well as the hospital administration.   I am really excited."

Nancy laughed, "Excited isn't the word I would use for it."

Cory blushed, "Okay, ecstatic, overly enthusiastic, totally pumped, come to mind."

Nancy agreed, "Yes.   Those words are much closer to reality than simply excited.   We have talked it over and we are going to move up the wedding date so we can move to Los Angeles before Cory has to report for work."

I was more than a little surprised, "So what date have you set now?"

"April 30th," Nancy said calmly.

"What?  That's only a month away.   Have you told Mom and Dad?" I asked.

"Yes and they agreed that I should move up the wedding date.   We called Cory's parents as well.   Mom and Dad encouraged us to have the wedding in Los Angeles so Cory's parents can be there," Nancy said.

Cory said, "My parents are going to help us with all the arrangements.   We plan to pack up all out things and drive out to Los Angeles in two weeks."

I looked at Rick, "Will your work let you off long enough to help them drive out to L.A.?"

Rick shrugged, "I don't know but I can ask about it on Monday."

Nancy said, "Rick, don't jeopardize your job to help us move.   We would love to have you and Glenn join us for the cross country drive but don't' do it if it will cause problems at your work."

Cory said, "My Dad and little brother are coming into town next week to help us pack.   I'm trying to talk Nancy into flying out to L.A. ahead of us so she can work with my Mom on the wedding arrangements."

I asked Nancy, "If we can arrange to go with Cory, will you fly out ahead of us?"

Nancy looked from Cory to me and back to Cory, "You two are conspiring against me.   Yes, I'll go if you and Rick can arrange to drive out with Cory."

We spent the rest of the evening making plans to help Nancy and Cory get ready for their move.   After getting the twins down for the night, Rick and I spent some quiet time alone in our room in front of the fire. 

When I came out of our en suite, Rick was sitting naked on the floor with his back against the couch.   Seeing that he had already stripped off his clothes, I did the same and walked over and straddled Rick's lap and placed my hands on the smooth skin of his chest.   I looked deep into his eyes, "Rick, I want you make me yours right here in front of the fire."

Rick grinned, "That's exactly what I had in mind."

I began caressing the muscles of his chest and abdomen as I rocked back and forth on his lap.   Rick moaned in pleasure.   I leaned over and kissed him and he wrapped his arms around me.   He whispered huskily in my ear, "You are all mine tonight, Babe."

I whispered back, "Are you completely sure about that?"

Rick pulled back and looked me in the eyes, "Absolutely, positively sure."   Before I could reply, Rick captured my lips and gave me one the most passionate kisses I have ever had.   The fires of our passion for each other were not only burning inside us they were fast becoming raging infernos that threatened to overwhelm us.  

We lay in front of the fire completely spent from our lovemaking.   The warmth of the fire added to the warmth I felt from Rick's body on top of mine.   Every fiber of my body felt connected to Rick's.   I don't have the words that fully describe how it feels to be so close to the one you love.   It's not just a physical connection but deeply emotional one that ties us closer together as a couple.

Rick rolled us over until I lay on top of him with his arms wrapped around me.   He lifted my face to his and gave me a gentle kiss.   "Thank you for being my sweetheart," Rick said.

I started to say, "I love you, too" when Rick put his finger to my lips.   "I'm not done, yet.   I am so grateful that I found you and that you married me.   You are the best thing that has ever happened to me.   I want you to know that I love you with all my heart."

Rick wiped the tears of happiness from my face.   I said, simply, "I love you."

Prev To be continued . . .