The Lernier Family
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 15: Eddie and Jamie

Eddie watched as Rick and Glenn pulled their car into the garage.   He was glad to hear that Josh was going to be okay.   He glanced at his watch and noted that it was nearly 3 AM.   It had been over seven hours since Rick had called him to tell him that Josh was having a seizure and to let the paramedics in when they arrived.   He had accompanied the paramedics inside and had seen Josh's little body wracked with convulsions.   He had never seen anything like it before in his entire life.   It scared him and made him realize how fragile life really is.   He had returned to his post and called Jamie.

"Jamie, Josh is in bad shape," Eddie said.   He stopped to get a measure of control over his emotions.   He had become very close to the Lernier family over last year or so since they hired him to head up their security team.   He had a special bond with their twin boys and seeing one of them suffering like he saw Josh a few minutes ago had him really upset.

When he didn't say anything more, Jamie asked, "Do you want me to come over and spend the night on watch with you?"

"Yes," was all Eddie managed to croak before the dam broke and his tears escaped streaking down his face.

Jamie could hear that Eddie was crying and knew he was really hit hard by what he had seen.   Jamie said, "I will be there in a jiffy."

Trying to get control of himself, Eddie laughed, "Nobody talks like that anymore, Jamie."   It was a running joke between them because Jamie used all kinds of sayings that were old fashioned or unknown to today's kids.

Jamie replied, "I got you to laugh though; and that's what is important right now."

Eddie smiled despite the jumbled up emotions that were playing inside his head.   He had seen several of his friends die on the battlefield from horrendous wounds.   He had seen many terrible things during his time in the military but seeing Josh lying on the floor with his limbs flailing about uncontrollably was, to him, much more gut wrenching than anything else he had ever witnessed.   He couldn't believe how soft he had become.   Maybe Jamie could help him to understand why he was such a basket case.   But then he watched as the paramedics loaded the frail little body into the back of ambulance; however, he was puzzled when the ambulance didn't leave immediately with sirens wailing and lights blazing.   He left his post and approached the driver.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"The boy has had another seizure.   We can't move until he can be safely restrained," explained the paramedic.

Eddie nodded that he understood and walked towards the house.   Just as he reached the door, it opened and Rick came out carrying JJ in his arms.   Eddie said, "Do you need me to help you with JJ?"

"Yes, will you carry his blanket and his teddy bear?   He says he needs them since Josh isn't here to keep him company," Rick said.

We walked the short distance to Zach and Todd's house.   Zach was waiting at the door to take JJ from Rick.  Eddie handed JJ's blanket and teddy bear to Todd who had joined them in the foyer.   Eddie shared the information the driver had given him with the three men.

JJ wrapped his arms around Zach's neck.   Zach said, "We will keep you safe until your Dads come home with Josh."   He gently rubbed JJ's back.  

JJ looked at his Dad with eyes wide with fear.   Rick leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.   "It will be alright, JJ.   I promise."

JJ's expression relaxed and Eddie could see the sweet, innocent faith he had in his Dad's words.   JJ nodded his head and said, "Go help, Joshua, and bring him back home soon."

Rick smiled, "That's my boy.   I love you, JJ."   Rick gave JJ another kiss on the cheek.   He looked at Zach and Todd, "Thank you for watching JJ for me.   I will call you as soon as we know anything."

Todd said, "Don't worry about JJ.   We will be fine."

They closed the door behind us as we left.   Rick looked at me and said, "I'm scared, Eddie.   I don't know what is going on with Josh and what scares me even more is the fact that I can't do anything to help him."

Eddie nodded his head, "I know the feeling."   Any further conversation was cut off by the wailing of the siren as the ambulance pulled out of the driveway and sped down the street.

Rick said, "I will let you know what's happening."

Eddie impulsively stepped closer to Rick and wrapped his arms around the big man.   "Go take care of your family, Rick.   I will keep an eye on the place as I always do."

Eddie released him and Rick nodded his head unable to speak.   Eddie could see that Rick's eyes were bright with tears.   Eddie said, "We have got it covered here.   Go help Glenn.  He and Joshua need you."

Rick turned towards the garage to get his car while Eddie returned to the guard shack near the gate.   He closed the gate after Rick left.   As he sat watching the security monitors, he was amazed at the deep feelings he had for this family.  

He had grown up on the streets of New York City.   His parents had disowned him when they found out he was gay and had kicked him out of their house.   He had been 15 years old at the time.   He had lived on the streets until he was old enough to sign up for the military.   During his time on the streets, he had developed a tough guy image and had a reputation for being mean as a snake.   He carried that reputation into the military.   Eddie had excelled at security and policing duties.   His superior officers knew they could trust him to get the job done and that it would be done right.   Just before he left the military, he had met Rick.

Rick worked as a defense contractor at the Pentagon.   His firm specialized in developing and maintaining computer security.   Eddie had been assigned to one of Rick's projects and had grown to respect the man.   Rick was a man of integrity and dedication.   Eddie recognized someone he could trust with his life, a fellow marine.   Eddie believed that once you were a marine, you were always a marine even when you leave the service.   However, when Rick offered him the job of chief of security, he had initially turned it down.   Eddie thought he was destined for bigger and better things.   After a couple of months of job hunting and not coming up with any better alternative, Eddie had reconsidered his position and had approached Rick about his job offer.

Eddie asked, "Is that job offer still valid?"

"Yes, it is, Eddie," Rick said.

"I have changed my mind.   Will you still have me?" Eddie asked.

Rick smiled, "Yes, I am glad you decided to take my offer."   Rick had gone over the details of the position and then asked Eddie how much he wanted to be paid for his work.   Eddie had laughed at first but when Rick insisted that he name a figure, Eddie had jokingly named a princely sum.   When Rick agreed, Eddie tried to back off of the dollar amount.

Rick had looked him in the eye and said, "I intend to pay you what you are worth, Eddie.   You have set the price for your services and I won't pay you a penny less."

Eddie had tried to stare him down but had ended up nodding his head in agreement.   "You are one stubborn guy, Rick Lernier."

Rick laughed, "I always get my way, Eddie.   You will learn very quickly that I am a very demanding employer.   I am always fair and I will never try to take advantage of you but I do demand that you perform to the best of your abilities."

Eddie smiled, "I am glad to be working for you, sir."

Rick laughed and said, "Do not call me, "sir," ever, again.   I am Mr. Lernier or Rick to you but never "sir."   Okay?"

Eddie nodded his head, "Yes, I think we will be just fine."

He had begun his new job the following week and had never regretted his decision to work for this wonderful family.   Rick had turned over the job of hiring security guards to Eddie with the condition that they pass an interview with all four of property owners.   Eddie agreed that they had the veto power over the final hiring of the men on his security team.

Rick, Glenn, Zach and Todd had always treated him with kindness and respect.   In fact, their boys had informed him that he was part of the family now.   They would come out to the guard shack while he was on duty to bring him lunch or snacks.   They were always curious about what he was doing and kept him company from time to time throughout the day.   He looked forward to seeing Cameron and Skye leading JJ and Josh out to talk to him.   Cameron and Skye said they were on a mission and that they were following orders from Glenn and Todd to make sure I was okay.   They were always asking questions which he patiently answered for them.  

In addition, Zach and Todd had made it clear that he was welcome in their home at any time, day or night.   The best thing about these two families was that they were gay and they completely accepted him for being gay as well.   That was something he had never had from his own family or even from anyone in the military for that matter.   He had to hide his sexuality from his military friends for fear of being booted out of the marines.

Eddie's thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a car pulling up to the gate.   He looked out and saw that it was Jamie.  He pushed the button to open the gate and waited as his fiancé parked his car and joined him in the guard shack.

Jamie smiled, "Sorry I took so long to get here.   I stopped by the local 7-Eleven and picked up some snacks and a soda."

Eddie kissed him and said, "Thanks, sweetheart."

Jamie said, "You are welcome.   Any word about how Josh is doing?"

"No, not yet," Eddie said as he broke into a bag of pretzels.

They sat in silence for a few minutes before Jamie asked, "Do you want to talk about it?"

Eddie looked at Jamie in surprise.   "Talk about what?"

"You were very upset when you called me.   Do you want to talk about it?" Jamie asked, again, looking into Eddie's eyes.

Eddie glanced away before answering Jamie's question.   "I seem to have become an emotional basket case lately.   I have never been one to wear my heart on my sleeve and it really bothers me that my emotions are so near the surface."

Jamie took Eddie's hand in his, "Babe, it's called being in love.   I have worked hard to get you to let me inside your heart.   You have such a thick wall around your feelings and emotions that you were almost incapable of connecting with anyone.   Remember?"

Eddie nodded, "Yes, I do remember.   I felt like an automaton as I mechanically went about life not feeling anything.  When Rick and Glenn introduced you to me, I thought they were crazy to think that we would even be compatible in any way.   You are so open with your feelings about me that it scared me to death when I saw you were starting to fall for me."

"You were a challenge for me," Jamie said.   "I knew that if I could reach through your cool aloofness and find the real you, I would find a fantastic man with a huge capacity to love."

Eddie smiled, "Well, you were right.   But how do I learn to control my emotions, Jamie?   I have never felt so helpless.   I have always been the master of my emotions."

Jamie smiled, "Maybe I can help you."

Eddie laughed, "How can you help me when you can't even control your own emotions?"

Jamie suddenly became serious and he reached up and turned Eddie's head towards him until he could stare directly into Eddie's blue eyes.   "The answer to your question is that we work together as a team to help each other.   You are not alone anymore, Eddie.   You and I are going to work this out so that we both are better at controlling our emotions.  It's called being in a loving and caring relationship with your soul mate.   It means participating in an equal partnership where we share in each other's joys and help carry each other's burdens."

Eddie ran a hand over his short-cropped blond hair and sighed, "I know you are right, Jamie.   However, it is such a huge adjustment for me.   I feel myself changing and it unnerves me.   Before I met you, I thought I knew myself pretty well.   Now, I am not so sure I know who I am."

Jamie leaned forward and kissed Eddie on the lips, "You are my lover boy, my best friend, and my soon-to-be husband.   That is who you are!"

Eddie smiled, "That is the most unnerving thing of all!   I never imagined I would be able to marry the man of my dreams.   I have suppressed my feelings for other men for so long that I am not sure how to express myself now that I am free to be who I am."

"Just be yourself," Jamie said simply.

"But that is the million dollar question," Eddie said his confusion showing in his voice.   "Who am I?"

"Maybe we can discover who you are together," Jamie said earnestly.   "I want to be walking by your side, holding hands as we figure out who we are as a couple and as individuals.  I have never felt so much love for another person as I do for you, Eddie.   The intensity of my love for you is like an inferno that threatens to engulf me.   Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would find a wonderful man who loves me and who would want to be with me for the rest of my life."

Jamie didn't get any further because Eddie pulled him into his arms and covered his mouth with passionate kisses.

Jamie pulled back and Eddie asked, "What's wrong?"

"You are still on duty, sweetheart," Jamie said.   He cupped Eddie's cheek with his right hand, "I love you but I don't want you to get fired for messing around with me on the job."

Eddie looked into his lover's eyes and nodded, "You are right, Jamie.  Thank you for thinking of me and stopping me from going any further.   I don't have any self control when I am around you!"

Jamie smiled, "That's a good thing at the proper time and place."   Jamie paused to playfully run his hands up and down the inside of Eddie's thigh.   "You had better get used to be looked after by me because I intend to make you the happiest man alive!"

"You already have done that," Eddie said taking his lover's hand and raising it to his lips.   "I love you."

"I love you, too," Jamie said.

Their conversation turned to their plans to move in together.   They both lived in apartments with roommates and they wanted to get a place of their own.   Jamie wanted to live in the city but Eddie wanted to live close to work so he wouldn't spend so much time commuting to work.

Later, Eddie and Jamie sat with their arms around each other as they watched the security cameras.   Eddie knew that the other guard on duty had probably seen more than he wanted to see since there was a camera trained on each guard shack.   He hoped that Jeff wouldn't be angry at seeing two gay guys kissing, especially while he was on duty.

At the guard shack a few yards away in Zach and Todd's gated driveway, Jeff Dunn had watched Eddie and Jamie in the security camera.   He knew that they were engaged to be married and didn't begrudge them their happiness.   He had been hired by Eddie soon after Eddie had accepted the position with Rick and Glenn.   He had answered a help wanted advertisement and had been interviewed by Eddie and all four of the men who owned the two homes he was now responsible for protecting.

During the interview, they had made it very clear that they were gay, married and had families they needed to protect.   He had been very surprised at first that they were gay.   None of them really acted "gay" when he met them.   He figured that as long as they minded their own business, he was okay working for them.   He needed the job badly since his ex-wife had taken everything he had in the divorce including their children.

She had painted him in the worst possible light during the court battle.   As a result, the judge had given her complete custody of the children and had limited his visitation rights to one supervised visit a month.   His child support payments were pretty steep and he had very little money left over at the end of every month despite the generous wages he was receiving from Rick and Glenn.   He had never mentioned to them how hard things were but he appreciated the fact that they always sent a meal out to him while he was on duty.   Zach and Todd had placed a small fridge in the guard shack and stocked it with soda, water bottles and a variety of snacks.  

Over the last few months he had given up many of the things he used to take for granted – cable, a gym membership, etc., and he had stopped buying food so he would have enough money to pay for the insurance on his car.  He had made every one of his child support payments but had only been able to see his children for 4 or 5 hours one Saturday a month.   It angered him that he was doing his best to support his children but was denied the privilege of seeing them or attending their events because of the restraining order his ex-wife had been able to get from the police.   It was probably justified because he had built up so much hatred against her that she had a right to fear for her life if he ever caught her alone on the street. 

Eddie's background check had uncovered the restraining order and his altercation with his ex-wife's boyfriend.   Eddie discussed it with him and knew all the particulars.   Eddie had insisted that he get a psychological evaluation before they would hire him.   He had complied with the request and he had passed the interview with flying colors.  

He was hesitant to speak to Eddie about his financial troubles.   Eddie seemed so happy and he didn't want to detract from that happiness in any way.   But he needed to talk to somebody.   He needed to let them know he didn't have enough money for food or that he had received an eviction notice this week.   He didn't have anyone else to turn to but his boss and co-workers.

He watched as Eddie and Jamie left the guard shack to walk the perimeter of the grounds.    When they approached Jeff's duty station, he came out and greeted them.   "Next time, guys, get a room!   I was beginning to wonder if I had gone to a peep show watching you two on camera!"

Eddie's face turned red from embarrassment.   "I'm sorry, Jeff.   We didn't mean to cause any trouble."

Jeff smiled, "It's okay.   I saw that Jamie stopped you before you went too far."

Jamie smiled, "Someone has to have a level head around here."

Eddie didn't respond but nodded his head in acknowledgement.   Jeff said, "Always listen to your better half, Eddie.  I learned the hard way after it was too late."

Jamie asked, "What do you mean?"

Jeff told Jamie about his failed marriage and the fallout from the divorce.   He stopped short of telling them how tight things were financially.

Jamie, sensing that Jeff was holding back something, asked, "How are you doing in the finance department?   From what you have said, your ex-wife has pretty much left you penniless."

Jeff tried to avoid the question by changing the subject, "Have you two finished your wedding plans?"

"Jeff, I am not going to let you not answer me," Jamie said.   He placed his hand on Jeff's arm, "Please don't be offended.   I can tell from your expression that things are not going well.   What can we do to help?"

Jeff looked into Jamie's eyes and saw the sincerity of Jamie's offer to help.   He sighed and then related to them how badly things were going for him.   At the end of the narration, Jeff said, "Rick and Glenn have been more than generous with me, but I don't know where to turn to next."

Jamie looked at Eddie before asking, "Would you consider sharing an apartment with someone?"

"I would but I am too old.   Most people who are looking to share a place are young college kids and they don't want some old guy like me hanging around to spoil their fun," Jeff said.

Eddie asked, "You aren't old, Jeff.   You are only 37 and you are still in good shape.   I know for a fact that everyone here thinks you are a great looking guy.   I am sure if you asked them, they would tell you themselves."

Jeff smiled.   He remembered an incident a few months back:

Jeff prided himself in his good physical condition.   He was 188 cm. (6'2") tall and weighed 81 kg. (180 lbs.).   He worked out three times a week and did cardio work the rest of the week.   He had to let his gym club membership expire after the divorce and was very happy to accept Rick and Glenn's offer to use their workout equipment when he got off work.

Zach and Todd were great guys and treated him really well but Zach was gone a lot and Todd spent most of his time with Rick and Glenn so naturally their house had become the favored gathering place for both families.   Despite feeling welcome in their homes, he still felt lonely and at times very depressed as he observed the tight-knit families and how much they loved each other.

At one point, he had overheard Rick and Glenn talking about him.   He had entered the room but they hadn't seen him when he heard his name mentioned.   He had stopped in his tracks and listened.

Glenn said, "Jeff is really sad.   Have you noticed how depressed he seems today?"

"Yes, I have noticed.   I wish there was something we could do to help him.   He is a great guy," Rick said.

"Not to mention the fact that he's good looking," Glenn said grinning.   That comment had earned him a slap up the side of the head from his husband.

"Stop that or I will be forced to send Jeff off to get uglyfied so you won't be tempted by his good looks," Rick said laughing.

At that point, Jeff had made his presence known.   Glenn blushed as he realized Jeff had heard him but he grinned at Jeff and said, "I think you are a stud, Jeff."

Jeff had laughed, "Thank you, I think.   I just hope the girls think so, too."

Glenn grinned and said, "I am sure they do."

"Rick, you don't have to worry about Glenn being tempted by me because I am definitely not his type," Jeff said laughing and then he said, "Thank you for trying to cheer me up.   Everyone should have an employer who looks out for their employees' best interests like you two do for us."

 Glenn responded, "You are not just an employee, Jeff.   You are part of our family.   We care about you and want you to be happy."

Jeff had tried hard to control his expression but failed.   There were tears in his eyes as he managed to say, "Thank you, Glenn.   You don't know how much that means to me.   I need to take off now.   I will see you guys tomorrow."

He didn't have anywhere else to go but he knew if he stayed, he would end up unloading all of his problems on them and he wasn't ready to confide in them, yet.

Jeff's attention returned to the present.   Eddie and Jamie were still standing there and Jamie asked, "Are you okay?"

Jeff nodded his head.   "Yeah, I'm okay.   You guys go ahead and finish checking the perimeter.   I will keep an eye on the cameras."

Jeff watched the two lovebirds leave, holding hands as they went.   He returned to the guard shack and looked at the monitors as he settled into his chair to wait for their return.   He thought, "Those two seem so happy, maybe I should ask Rick and Glenn to line me up with some cute young guy.   Maybe this time, I can get things right."

Eddie glanced back and saw that Jeff was watching them as they walked away.   He turned back to Jamie and said, "I feel sorry for Jeff.   He has had such a run of bad luck."

"I wish there was something we could do to help him out," Jamie said.

"Maybe there is.   I think we should talk to Glenn and Rick in the morning.   They always seem to be helping other people.   I am sure they will know what to do to help Jeff," Eddie said.

They made their way around the property until they returned a while later to the guard shack where they had started.   Eddie opened the door and led Jamie back inside.   He made a quick check of the security monitor and saw that everything looked okay.   He pushed the intercom button to Jeff's post and asked, "Did we miss anything."

Jeff gave them a thumbs-up sign and said, "Everything is good here."

Eddie said, "We didn't see anything either.   I will check back in with you in a few hours."

"Sounds good," Jeff replied.

Eddie and Jamie spent the rest of the night trying to think of ways to help Jeff.   Meanwhile, Jeff was worrying about what he would say to Rick and Glenn.   He had decided he needed a better paying job and would have to leave their employ.   He just didn't see any other way around it.   They had been very good to him; but he was at a point where he had no hope of getting out of the financial predicament he was in without finding a better source of income.

The alarm went off, again, waking Rick and I.   Both of them were still completely exhausted.   They were afraid to really sleep since they needed to give Josh his medication on schedule.

I looked at Rick and said, "You stay in bed and get some sleep.   I will get up with Josh and give him his medicine.   It's time for his breakfast so I will keep him entertained while you get some sleep."

Rick managed to smile and ask, "What about you?"

"I will get some sleep after I wake you up.   That way, you will be fresh and rested instead of both of us being totally exhausted," I replied.   I kissed him on the lips and then I tucked the blanket around him and left him to sleep.

I walked down the hall and entered the twins' bedroom.   Josh was still asleep.   I sat down on the rocking chair next to his bed and looked at his angelic face.   He looked so peaceful.   Josh must be having a good dream because a hint of a smile played at the corner of his lips.   I hated to wake him up because he had to be just as tired as me and Rick.

As my mind ran over the events of the last 12 hours, I felt very blessed that our little Joshua had survived the night.   I still shuddered at the memory of my defenseless little boy held rigid by the convulsions that wracked his body as if megawatts of electricity were running through him holding him frozen in place.   Then his limbs would begin flailing wildly about him with his head thrown back and his teeth tightly clenched.   The whole scene was still vividly etched in my memory.   I don't think I will ever forget my beloved child suffering such torment.   We still didn't know for sure what had caused the seizure but we trusted the doctor's advice to keep his temperature down so as to avoid a repeat occurrence.

I gently brushed my fingertips against the smooth skin of Joshua's cheek.   I said softly, "Joshua, it's time to wake up."  After a few moments, he stirred and opened his eyes.   "It's time to take your medicine, sweetheart."

I reached over and picked Joshua up and held him on my lap.   Joshua snuggled into my arms and I rocked with him for a little while.   "Joshua, we need to give you your medicine.   Do you want some pancakes for breakfast?"

Josh nodded his head but didn't respond to my question.   I stood up with him in my arms and I carried him downstairs to the kitchen.   I sat him down at the kitchen table and retrieved his medicine.   I gave it to him and then I went to work making pancakes for him.

I sat him on my lap and I fed him his pancakes with a glass of milk.   Josh is big enough to eat on his own but I wanted to comfort him by holding him on my lap.   (Okay, it was more to comfort me than Josh!)   Josh didn't protest as he usually does when I try to do things for him.   Josh is very independent and likes to do things for himself.   I put the dishes in the sink and then we went into the family room and we curled up in Rick's big rocker recliner with a comforter.  

The next thing I knew, Rick was shaking me awake.   "Glenn, it's time for Josh to have his medicine."

I opened my eyes and looked up into my sweetheart's face.   "I am sorry.   I fell asleep with Josh in my arms."

Rick grinned, "I know."   He showed me his camera and the pics he had just taken.

"No fair, Rick.   You have to delete those pics!" I exclaimed.

Rick laughed, "No way!   I think we deserve to have a few good pics of you and Josh sleeping in my chair."

Josh was awake now and he stretched and then reached his arms up towards Rick.   Rick put his camera down on the lamp table and then took Joshua from my arms.   "Good morning, Josh.   Are you feeling better?"

"Yes, I am.   I am still hungry.   May I have more pancakes?" Josh asked.

Rick smiled, "Yes, you may have more pancakes but you need your medicine first."

I watched them disappear into the kitchen.   I especially appreciated the sight of Rick's bubble butt, his Speedo underwear accentuating his perfect body.   I was so horny I was having trouble controlling the impulse to run after Rick and ravage his body.   I knew that we would have to wait until after the twins were in bed tonight before I could satisfy my desires for him.    Oh, well, anticipation of what will come tonight will have to keep me going the rest of the day.

Fortunately, Rick keeps us both in good physical condition.   We have a gym in the basement with all of the weightlifting equipment we need.   We go out running most every morning.   Our morning runs are my favorite because I love running behind him, the scenery is so tantalizing from that vantage point!   I can't get enough of his gorgeous body!   Yes, we are still very much attracted to each other even after all these years!

I dragged myself out of the chair and up the stairs.   I showered and got dressed before I returned to the kitchen to see Joshua demolishing the last of the pancakes.   "I would say that Josh is back to normal," I remarked.

Rick grinned, "I agree with you.   At least his appetite seems to be back to normal.   I gave him the antibiotic the doctor prescribed.   Josh doesn't like how it tastes."

Josh spoke with his mouth full, "It's yucky!"

"Don't talk with your mouth full, Josh," I reminded him.

Josh swallowed his food and said, "I am sorry, Daddy."

"It's okay.   Next time, remember to finish eating what you have in your mouth before you start talking," I said.   I leaned over and kissed the top of his head.   "I love you, Josh."

"I love you, too, Daddy," Josh said smiling at me.   "When can I go play?"

"When you have had your bath and get some clean clothes on your body," Rick responded.

Josh looked at his Dad, "Do I have to have a bath?   Can't I just change clothes?"

Rick smiled, "No, you need a bath, Josh."

Josh finished his pancake and then jumped down from the table.   He walked over to Rick and took his hand.   "Dad, will you help me get a bath?"

"Yes, I will, Josh," Rick replied and led Josh back upstairs.

I called over to Zach and Todd's house to let them know we were doing okay and that the boys could come over now that we were all up and about.

A few minutes later, Cameron, Skye and JJ bounced into the kitchen followed by Zach and Todd.

JJ ran directly to me and climbed up on my lap.   He put his arms around my neck and kissed my cheek.   "I missed you Daddy.   Is Josh okay?"

I looked into JJ's eyes and said, "Yes, Josh is okay.   He is upstairs getting a bath."

JJ jumped off of my lap and I heard him run up the stairs.   Cameron and Skye followed JJ.   I heard them shouting, "Josh! You are home!"

I could hear Rick trying to calm them down a bit.   They soon returned to the kitchen.   The boys were asking Josh all kinds of questions about the hospital.   I could see that Josh was getting upset.   I said, "Boys, I think you need to leave Josh alone for a while.   His visit to the hospital was not a nice one.   Can't you see how upset he is because you are asking questions about it?"

Josh came over and climbed on my lap.   He clung to me and buried his head in my chest.   I smoothed his hair and said, "It's okay, Josh."

Rick said, "Boys, I think you should go into the family room to play for a bit.   Josh will be along in a few minutes."

Cameron led the boys into the family room.   We overheard him telling Skye and JJ, "Let's not ask Josh about the hospital anymore."

Zach smiled, "That's my boy!   Cammy always takes charge and makes sure everyone is okay."

Todd agreed, "Yes, he is just like his father!"

"I don't deny it," Zach replied putting his arm around Todd's waist.   He leaned over and kissed his husband on the lips.   "However, I make sure that Todd has an equal say in everything we do."

Todd nodded his head, "Yes, you have been a good husband to me."

"Were the doctors able to diagnose the reason for Josh's seizure?" Zach asked.

Rick replied, "Not really.   Dr. Lee told us he believes that it was febrile seizure brought on by the fever.   He gave us direction to keep the fever down and to give him the antibiotic he prescribed."

I said, "We need to call our pediatrician and take Josh in to see her today."

Rick nodded, "I will make the call."   Rick pulled out his cell phone and made the call; setting up an appointment for 2:30 PM this afternoon.

He had just finished the call when we heard the doorbell ring.   Rick walked into the foyer and opened the door.   Jamie, Eddie and Jeff were on the doorstep.   Eddie asked, "Can we come in?   We would like to talk to you about something that has come up recently."

Rick raised his eyebrows in surprise.   He nodded his head and beckoned them to follow him.   They entered the kitchen and joined us around the kitchen table.

Eddie asked, "How is Joshua?"

"He is doing okay, now.   We have an appointment to take him to the pediatrician later today," I replied.

Rick asked, "Are you going to tell us what is going on?"

Eddie nodded and began.   "First, I owe you an apology for asking Jamie to stay with me last night while I was on duty.   I know it wasn't proper and I am offering my resignation as your chief of security."

Rick looked at Eddie and then glanced around the table.   His gaze returned to me and I nodded my head to let him know it was okay to go ahead.   He looked back at Eddie, "We accept your resignation, Eddie."

Zach started to interrupt but Rick cut him off, "Zach, please hear me out before you say anything."

Zach leaned back in his chair but I could tell he was upset that Rick hadn't discussed this with him prior to accepting Eddie's resignation.  Rick continued, "Glenn and I saw Jamie with you last night and I want you to know that we are not accepting your resignation based on what happened last night.   Yes, it was improper and I am glad you acknowledged it."

Everyone around the table was staring at Rick, especially Eddie and Jamie.   Finally, Eddie asked, "Then why are you accepting my resignation if it is not because of my infraction against company policy?"

I took over from Rick, "We have decided to give you and Jamie an early wedding present.   We have found an apartment complex near George Mason University in Fairfax City that we want to buy.   We need you and Jamie to manage it."

Jamie looked at Eddie with his eyes as big as saucers.   The look on Eddie's face was priceless.   Rick continued, "We are also setting up a scholarship fund for each of you at George Mason University.   It will be yours until you have completed your college education including any graduate degrees.   After you are done, the scholarship funds will be used to pay the tuition costs for gay students attending George Mason University."

Eddie and Jamie were completely dumbfounded.   Zach and Todd laughed at their expressions.   Todd said, "Congratulations!"

Zach said, "Rick and Glenn did the same thing for us when we got married.   I am happy to see them do the same for you two."

I smiled at the happy couple and said, "Of course, this is all contingent upon a wedding that is scheduled to happen in a couple of weeks from now."

Eddie finally started to recover from his surprise.   He said, "I don't know what to say."

I replied, "All you have to say is, "Thank you."  We consider you both members of our family and we always take care of family."

"Of course, we will draw up a contract between us and you as a couple regarding the management of the apartment complex, etc.   We are offering you the same thing we offered Zach and Todd when they were first married.   You will manage the apartments and will be paid for doing so.   You will perform all the maintenance and upkeep on the apartments and in return you will become part owners in the property," I said.

Jamie asked, "Why are you doing this for us?"

"Because we want you to be able to pursue your dreams, just like Zach and Todd have done.   You can't do that if you are always worried about where the next meal will come from or how you are going to pay the rent," I said.

"But that still doesn't answer my question?" Jamie insisted.

Rick looked Jamie in the eyes, "Didn't you hear, Glenn.   You are part of our family and we always take care of family."

Jamie stared back at Rick uncomprehendingly.   He couldn't believe that Rick and Glenn had decided to adopt him as a family member.   His parents had disowned him when he came out to them as being gay.   That is why he related so well to Eddie.   They both had been disowned by their families and had no one else to turn to now except each other.

Zach smiled and asked, "You still don't believe it's true, do you, Jamie?"

Jamie nodded his head in wonder.   "I can't believe what I am hearing."

Eddie, who had been listening carefully, asked, "Are you guys for real?  No one has ever given me anything.   Not even in the marines did I ever get anything without having to work hard to get it."

Eddie and Jamie weren't the only ones having a hard time believing that we were serious about our wedding gift.   Jeff sat next to the incredulous couple with an expression of complete astonishment.   He knew that these two families were very close but what he had just heard totally blew his mind.   The fact that Glenn and Rick had set up scholarship funds for Zach and Todd and were doing the same for Eddie and Jamie was purely amazing.   However, the offer of part ownership in an apartment complex and a place to live rent free was beyond his ability to comprehend, especially since Eddie and Jamie were not related to Glenn and Rick by blood.   He had come inside the house with Eddie and Jamie hearing Eddie telling Jamie that he expected Glenn and Rick to fire him for dereliction of duty last night.  

Jeff couldn't decide if these guys were candidates for a straight jacket in the local nut house or if they were on some sort of drug and they would come to their senses once its effects had worn off.

Todd said, "They are deadly serious, Eddie.   It is no joke.   I promise you that.   It took me and Zach a while to adjust to the idea of being landlords.   Managing an apartment complex is no picnic in the park.   Don't make the mistake of thinking you are looking at living on easy street.   Believe me when I tell you that you will earn every penny you get from managing those apartments."

Zach confirmed what Todd said, "Just wait until you have to evict a family for not paying their rent and they have nowhere else to go.  It's pretty heartbreaking and it makes you feel like you are a monster of some kind."

Jeff asked, "Who will be your head of security?"   He was curious despite the fact that he had made up his mind to quit and move on to a better paying job.

Rick looked at Jeff, "You will be if you decide you want to stay on after Eddie leaves."

The offer of a promotion caught him off guard.   He hadn't expected it!   There were several other guys who seemed to be close to Rick and Glenn and he thought they would be asked to take Eddie's place.   He didn't know how to answer since he had been planning to give his two week notice.

When Jeff didn't answer, Eddie spoke up, "Jeff, can we tell them what is going on in your life before you answer?"

Jeff looked over at Eddie and nodded.   Eddie began to narrate what Jeff had shared with them last night.   When he had finished, Eddie looked at Jeff and asked, "Did I leave anything out?"

Jeff nodded his head silently.   There was a brief silence in the room before Rick spoke, "You came in to tell us you were going to leave our employment.   Is that not correct?"

Jeff, again, nodded his head.   "The only way I know to get out of current situation is to find a better paying job."

Rick had a very serious look on his face.   "I think that getting promoted to security chief would constitute getting a better paying job.   Don't you agree?"

"Yes, it does," Jeff said.

I asked, "Have you considered taking your ex-wife to court to get the child support lowered or to get joint custody of the children?"

"I have thought about it but the divorce lawyer left me penniless.   I spent every cent I had in the bank fighting my wife and lost everything in the end including the right to see my children without having a social worker present," Jeff said.

Rick said, "With the purchase of the apartment complex, we can offer you a place to stay in addition to the increase to your wages as security chief.   However, with the increased benefits, I think that we would ask you to oversee the security at the apartment building as well as the two homes here."

Jeff's eyes widened in surprise, "Do you mean to say that I would have an apartment rent free in the same complex as Eddie and Jamie in addition to my salary?"

"I believe that is what I just said," Rick said trying to hide a smile as he watched the multitude of conflicting emotions cross Jeff's face.   He looked over at Glenn who didn't even try to hide his broad smile.

Jeff looked at Glenn and then at Rick, "You guys are totally serious aren't you?"   Jeff already knew how much Eddie made as security chief and when he added the cost of the apartment to it, he knew that Rick and Glenn were offering to nearly double his current salary.

Rick said, "The increased salary isn't free, Jeff.   It comes with increased responsibility not only for our two homes but for a large apartment complex.   It will be a demanding job.   That is why we are offering you the apartment as part of your compensation package."

I said, "Why don't you sleep on it and let us know tomorrow what your decision is?"

Rick nodded his head, "That sounds like a good idea.   Here is the address of the apartment complex.   I would like all three of you to stop by the apartments and look them over.   Eddie, I want you to work with Jeff to develop a security plan and give me an estimate of how many additional people we will need to hire."

Eddie said, "Yes, sir!"

Rick grinned, "I think we have already spoken about not calling me, "sir," haven't we, Eddie?"

Eddie apologized, "I'm sorry, Rick.   It's just that I am very much overwhelmed by your generosity."

I said, "We have asked the current manager to show several apartments to you.   He will be leaving at the end of the month so we will need you two to move in before we leave for St. Catharines."

Jamie said, "Does it matter which one we choose?"

"No, but you should consider that you may be living there for a while so don't choose a one bedroom," I said laughing at Jamie's expression.   "They have 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments as well as studio apartments.   If I were you two, I would choose one of the 3 bedroom apartments."

"The same goes for you, Jeff.   If you plan to have your children visit you or stay with you over the weekend, you will need to choose a larger apartment as well," Rick said.

Jeff was still shell shocked by the new job offer.   He nodded his head and said, "Okay, I will remember that."

From Jeff's expression, Rick could tell that Jeff had something else on his mind.   Rick asked, "What else is bothering you, Jeff?"

"Your job offer is more than enough to help me out of my current situation; however, I don't know how I will ever be able to change the divorce decree and the child support arrangements," Jeff said with a sense of hopelessness caused me to walk over and put my arm around him.

I said, "We have a couple of good family lawyers who might take your case pro bono.   Why don't we call them and see what they say?"

Jeff nodded and I took his hand and pulled him to his feet and led Jeff into the study and closed the door.   About 30 minutes later, we came out of the study.   Jeff turned to me and said, "Thank you, Glenn."

He was smiling but his eyes were full of tears as he hugged Glenn.   Rick came over and jokingly said, "Hey!    Hands off my guy!"

Jeff let me go and laughed, "I wouldn't dream of trying to take your guy away from you, Rick.   He is the best!   You are a very lucky man, Rick.   I wish I had found a spouse as wonderful and kind as Glenn."

Rick put his arms around my waist and gave me a quick kiss on the lips.   "Yes, Glenn is a very lucky man.   I am glad he found me!"

I laughed, "See how he is?"

Jeff replied, "Yes, I know that he loves you very much and that he treats you very well."

I nodded my head in agreement.   Jeff turned to Zach and Todd, "I also know that you two are very much in love with each other.   I have watched how you treat each other.   I wish my marriage had been as solid as yours.   Watching you guys has taught me how much I have to learn about being a loving husband and father."

Zach and Todd both smiled, "We work hard at it every day," Todd said.

Eddie said, "We agree with you, Jeff.   These guys are the best people we have ever met."   He paused and looked at his sweetheart, "Are you ready to go, Jamie?   We should run over to the apartments before we go to my place."

Jeff said, "I will follow you over.   I want to check out the new place."

Scott and Alonzo were sitting arm in arm across from us in our family room.   They only had eyes for each other.   It reminded me of when we first met.   Rick smiled at me before he leaned over and gave me a kiss on the lips. 

That seemed to get the guys attention since Scott remarked, "Guys, get a room!"

Alonzo snickered loudly.   He turned to Scott and said, "As if we haven't been doing the same thing all night!"

Scott blushed, "That's true but I couldn't help giving them a hard time."

Alonzo said, "Thank you for having us over for dinner guys.   You said you wanted to talk to us."

Rick said, "Yes, we do.  We have a business proposal we want to share with you."

Scott's eyebrows shot up and his face showed his surprise, "What kind of business proposal?"

"We are willing to provide the capital necessary to start a health clinic or something of similar nature if you two would be interested in running it and turning it into a profitable venture," I said.   I paused to let them ask questions.

From their stunned expressions, I knew we had to give them some time to absorb the information we had just given them.   I continued, "Scott, I know you have strong marketing skills and you seem to have a good head for business.   Alonzo, you are a nurse and have a lot of medical knowledge.   You have said several times that you hate working for Georgetown Hospital because you have to always be careful not to let on that you are gay.   Has that changed?"

Alonzo shook his head, "No, that hasn't changed.   I have applied for jobs at other hospitals in the area but nothing has panned out so far."

Rick said, "We would like to help you two start a new business if that is your desire.   Otherwise, we are willing to set up a scholarship for you to take classes so you can switch careers."

Alonzo glanced at Scott to see what his reaction was to our offer.   Scott said, "I am very happy where I am but there is not a lot of potential for advancement.   I do enjoy marketing but it's not what I had envisioned myself doing for any great deal of time."

Alonzo asked, "Why are you offering to do this for us?"

Rick said, "This is our wedding gift to you.   We gave the same wedding gift to Eddie and Jamie.   In addition, they will be managing an apartment complex for us.   We are willing to look at looking into other real estate opportunities but we weren't sure if that would interest you guys.   That is why we offered to help you start your own business."

Scott asked, "Can we think it over and get back to you?"

I said, "Certainly, Scott.   We didn't expect an answer tonight.   However, we would like to know before the wedding.   My Grandpa Scarborough will be holding a company board meeting in St. Catharines the day before the wedding and we need to let him know what we plan to do."

Scott looked puzzled.   He asked, "What board meeting?"

Rick and I explained how Grandpa Scarborough, Uncle Stan and Aunt Sharon, and my cousin's wife's parents, The Mitchells, had formed a corporation and that we, their children, were members of the board, etc.   We explained how things worked and what we wanted to do for them.   When we finished, I asked, "Do you understand how things will work if you decide to work with us?"

Scott nodded, "I wondered how you could stay home and home school the twins with only one income.   Now everything makes sense."

Alonzo said, "We are honored that you would trust us."

Rick said, "Alonzo, you and Scott have become like family to us.   We believe in taking care of family and we consider you part of our family."

Alonzo's eyes were bright with the tears as he struggled to control the strong emotions that flooded through his being.   He finally spoke, "I don't know what to say."

Scott put his arm around his fiancé.   "I am just as overwhelmed by your generous wedding gift.   Alonzo and I have not come out to our families, yet.   Alonzo's family is very Catholic and mine are devout Baptists.   We are afraid that we will be disowned by both families."

"In fact, I have had some second thoughts about getting married because of the fears I have regarding my family," Alonzo said.

Scott nodded, "I have had some of those same doubts but we love each other very much and we want to include our families in our wedding plans."

I looked at them in surprise, "You mean you haven't invited them, yet?"

Alonzo looked at the ground, "No, I have been too afraid to even talk to them about it.   Like I said before, I haven't even told them I am gay.   They think I am dating a girl."

Scott blushed for a few moments and then his expression changed.   His expression hardened and his eyes flashed with anger.   He said, "I haven't said anything to my family about my personal life.   I stopped talking to them about who I was dating years ago.   I figured since I am an adult, I don't need to ask their permission anymore.   I haven't lived at home since I was 19 years old and I am not about to start talking to them about any of my personal business now that I am engaged to be married.   I have lived overseas since I graduated from college because of their interfering ways.   It has taken this long to get them to accept the fact that I never intend to return home other than to visit them briefly."

"Do you intend to invite them to your wedding, Scott?" I asked tentatively, not wanting to upset him but I was still curious to know what his plans were.

Scott thought for moment and then said, "No, I don't want them at our wedding.   I want our wedding to be a memorable occasion because we are happy not because of all the hatred and name calling that will happen if I invite them.   My parents are some of the most prejudiced people I know.   They hate everyone:  blacks, Hispanics, Jews, gays, other Christian denominations, you name it!"

Alonzo smiled, "But they must have had some good points, too, Scott, because they raised you and you are the most wonderful person I know."   Alonzo raised his hand to Scott's face.   He turned Scott towards him and looked into his eyes, "There is no way that your parents are completely evil, sweetheart.   They loved you and raised you to love and respect others.   I think you should give them a chance to show that love to you, again.   They may surprise you."

Alonzo held Scott's gaze for what seemed an eternity before he slightly nodded his head.   "I will consider it, Babe, but only because you have asked me to and not because of anything they have done for me."

"I plan to send an invitation to my parents but I know they won't attend the wedding.   They have disowned me and probably won't even open the envelope but I won't be the one to give up hope.   I will keep reaching out to them until they decide that they can let me back into their lives," Alonzo said.

Scott said, "Lonny, you are much too kind."

My ears perked up at that, "Lonny?"

Alonzo blushed, "It's Scott's name for me.   He thinks Alonzo is too formal."

Scott laughed, "I felt like I was addressing the king every time I said, "Alonzo," so I decided Lonny would be Alonzo's nickname from now on."

Alonzo smiled, "Scott is the only one who calls me, "Lonny," so I let him.   I know he loves me very much and calling me Lonny seems to make him happy."

Scott took Alonzo's hand, "Yes, it makes me very happy to know that I am the only one who gets to call him Lonny."

Rick looked at me and smiled, "Do I get to tell them my pet name for you, Babe?"

I quickly replied, "Absolutely NOT!"

Rick laughed, "Okay, sweetheart.   I won't tell."

"Where are you guys going to live after you get married?" I asked.

Alonzo said, "Scott's place.   He bought a nice brownstone house in the District.   It doesn't take very long for either of us to get to work so it has been really nice."

"Lonny moved in with me last weekend," Scott said.   "We have spent the last few days cleaning out his apartment and moving the last of Lonny's stuff."

"It sounds like you guys are all set then," Rick said.

Scott smiled, "Just about.  The only thing missing now is the wedding ring on our fingers and a marriage license showing we are married."

We spent the rest of the evening talking with them about their wedding plans.   When we bid them farewell, Alonzo turned to me and said, "Thank you for everything."

Scott echoed his sentiments, "Yes, thank you for introducing us."   He put his arm around Alonzo's waist and pulled him close.   Scott smiled and said, "Lonny is the best thing that has ever happened to me.   I will always be grateful to you guys for bringing us together."

As we watched them pull out of the driveway, Rick said, "There goes one very happy couple."

"Yes, they are," I agreed.

Rick took my hand and led me back inside.   We quickly turned out the lights and headed upstairs to our bedroom.   We checked in on the twins to make sure they were sleeping soundly.   Rick closed the door and pulled me into his embrace.   I melted against his chest and inhaled deeply.   I love the scent of my man!   Rick lifted my chin so he could kiss me.   At first, it was a gentle kiss, full of love and tenderness.   As his hands explored my body and lifted my shirt over my head, his kisses turned more urgent.   His passion soared as did mine as we helped each other strip out of our clothes.   In one swift motion, Rick swept me off my feet and carried me to our bed.   The hunger in his eyes sent chills of anticipation up and down my spine.   I knew from past experience that tonight would be a night we would long remember as I submitted to his demanding kisses as he took me to the heights of bliss.   Every part of my body responded to Rick's caresses igniting an uncontrollable firestorm of passion for this man who I called my husband.   I ran my hands over the muscles in his shoulders and back.   Then moved on to caress his perfectly sculptured gluts and pulled him closer to me.   Rick responded by capturing my mouth which I opened to his invading tongue.   From that moment on, the blazing conflagration of our combined passion left a memory of blinding haze of joy and pleasure.

Later, I enjoyed the afterglow of our lovemaking as Rick held me in his arms.   I looked into his eyes and whispered into his ear, "I love you, Rick."

Rick kissed me tenderly and replied, "I love you, too, Glenn."

I put my head on his chest and listened to the steady rhythm of his heart.   When his breathing had slowed indicating he was asleep, I gently untangled myself from his arms.   I kissed him gently on the lips as I pulled the sheets over him and walked down the hall to the boys' room.   I wished I could stay with my lover boy but I still worried about Josh.   I leaned over Josh and placed my hand on his forehead to check his temperature.   He felt normal to me.   I sat down on the cot next to his bed and reached over to set the alarm.   I needed to give him another dose of his medicine in a couple of hours. 

We took Joshua to see the pediatrician who found he was doing okay.   She told us to keep giving him the antibiotic and the fever reducers and to call her if anything changed.   I moved a cot into the twin's room so Rick could get a good night's sleep.   That way I could monitor Joshua and give him his medicine during the night.   Ten days later his antibiotic was gone and we took Joshua in to the pediatrician, again, who declared him to be healthy and told us we could stop giving him fever reducers.   She advised us to monitor him very closely for the next few months.  

I was so glad to move back into our bedroom and so was Rick!   Ten days of getting up in the middle of night to administer medication had made both Josh and I very cranky in the mornings.   The only saving grace had been Todd's willingness to watch the boys during the afternoon while Joshua and I took a nap on the king-sized bed in our master bedroom.   

As I took down the cot in the twin's room, Josh looked up at me and asked, "Can we still take naps?"

I nodded, "Yes, we can if you are still tired in the afternoon.   However, I think that you won't be tired after getting a good night's sleep.   You and JJ have never been very good at taking a nap in the afternoon."

"That was when I was little.   I am a big boy and I like taking naps now, Daddy, because I get to spend time with you," Josh said smiling.

I laughed, "Josh, I think we should wait and see how you are feeling tomorrow afternoon.   You have never been one to sit still for very long.   When you agreed to take a nap with me, Josh, I knew you must be very sick.   Why don't we plan to spend some time together every afternoon doing whatever you want to do?   How does that sound to you?"

Josh replied, "I like that idea."   Josh held up his arms signaling that he wanted to be picked up.   I leaned down and took him in my arms.   He kissed me on the cheek and said, "I love you, Daddy.   I am glad you took care of me when I didn't feel well."  His sweet expression of love and appreciation brought tears to my eyes.   "Why are you crying, Daddy?   Did I make you sad?"  Josh asked.

"No, Josh, these are tears of happiness.   I love you, Josh," I said.   I kissed the top of his head and then put him down.   I turned to see that Rick was standing in the doorway.   I knew he had overheard the conversation between me and Josh because I could see the tears in his eyes.

Rick came into the room and picked up Josh, "I am glad you are feeling better, Josh."

Josh hugged his dad and replied, "I love you, Dad."

"I love you, too, son," Rick replied with a smile.

Josh asked, "May I go play, now?"

Rick put Josh down and said, "Sure, Josh.   The other boys are in the family room."

We heard Josh's footsteps on the stairs and soon heard the other boys asking Josh what he was doing upstairs.   Rick came over and put his arms around my waist and gave me a tender kiss.   He looked deep into my eyes and said, "Thank for everything you do for us, Glenn.   You have always been there for me and the boys.   I love you more and more every day, sweetheart."

Prev To be continued . . .