The Lernier Family
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 16: Double Weddings

We drove north from Washington, DC, to St. Catharines, Ontario, a week before the weddings.   We followed Zach and Todd in their Lincoln Navigator and the two happy couples drove up together in Eddie's Ford Explorer.   Jeff rode with us in our new Range Rover.   Rick and I decided to pick up the new vehicle just for this trip.   We like the new features in the Range Rover including the entertainment package.   We rotated driving.   That way each of us took a turn entertaining the twins.   Josh and JJ are good little traveler!   We checked into the Holiday Inn – St. Catharines Conference Centre where Grandpa Scarborough had made reservations for the entire family.

The next morning, we met in the private dining room Grandpa had rented for the week.   The twins entered the dining room and saw the breakfast buffet.   JJ turned around and said excitedly, "Daddy, they have lots of pancakes!"

"I am sure they do, son," I responded.   "But you have to give Grandpa and Grandma hugs and kisses before you get to eat."

JJ looked at me like I had totally lost it, "Dad….I know!"   The twins made their way over to my parents' table.   My Mom smiled as each of them gave her a kiss on the cheek.   They tried to escape my Dad but he caught them and held both on his lap until they had given him a hug and a kiss, too.   He tickled them until Mom said, "Don, stop before you make a big mess."

Dad responded, "Okay, you two, I will let you go only if you promise to get your Dad's to help you with your plates."

Josh said, "Okay, Grandpa, we promise."

Rick and I joined them.   I kissed Mom and then hugged my Dad.   "I am so glad you came.   I have missed you both."

"We have missed you as well," Mom said smiling at us.   "Come here, Rick.   I need a hug from you."

Rick did as he was asked and he smiled, "I am happy you made it."   He hugged my Dad and then looked at the twins and said, "Come on, boys.   Let's get your breakfast."

We helped the little guys get their plates and filled our own at the same time.   We rejoined my parents at their table.   Josh sat next to Dad, "Grandpa, will you help me cut my pancakes?"

"Sure, grandson," Dad replied smiling at Josh.

JJ, not to be shown up, asked Mom, "Grandma, will you help me?"

Mom laughed, "Of course, dear."

As we ate, more and more of our family members joined us until the room was filled to capacity.   Jeff stood in the doorway looking lost until I waved him over to our table.   I introduced him to my parents, "Jeff, this is my Mom and Dad, Eva and Don Nielsen.   Mom and Dad this is Jeff Dunn."

Dad stood up to shake Jeff's hand, "Nice to meet you, Jeff.   Grab a plate and help yourself to the buffet."

Jeff smiled, "Thank you, Mr. Nielsen."

"Please call me "Don" or Dad but not Mr. Nielsen," Dad said.

"Okay, Don," Jeff replied.   "I will be right back."   Jeff made his way over to the buffet tables.  

Mom said, "He seems like a nice man, Glenn."  

"He is, Mom.   He has had a pretty rough time of it with his ex-wife," I said.

"Yes, I remember you told me about that," Mom said.

Rick said, "He is our chief of security."

"Good," Dad said.   "I am glad that you still have someone protecting you boys from all the crazy people south of the border.   I wish you would move home, Glenn and Rick.   People here are much more accepting of gay families."

"I have tried to convince Rick to move here but he's not ready to do that, yet," I said.

Rick looked across the table at Dad, "I am concerned about finding a job, Dad.   I want to be able to support my family."

Mom said, "Rick, you have enough income from the family business you shouldn't need to work."

I didn't look at Rick.   He probably thinks I enlisted my parents to help persuade him to move to Canada.   Rick must have read my mind because he took my hand and squeezed it.   "Glenn and I have discussed this issue at length.   Yes, we do have enough income coming in from the family business to live comfortably.   It's just that I can't see myself sitting home all day."

Dad smiled, "The reason you don't want to move here is more about leaving behind your family than it is about the money, isn't it?"

Rick nodded his head, "As long as we live close to my sister and her family, I can hold on to the hope that someday we can close the chasm that separates us."

Jeff sat down next to Rick and started to eat.   He listened intently as we continued our discussion.

"We understand your desires to be reunited with your family, Rick," Mom said.   "However, you need to put the needs of your immediate family first.   With the growing hostility towards gays in the United States, we fear for your safety and that of your family.   We have heard a lot of the vituperative statements made by politicians, religious leaders, law enforcement, judges, and many others that worry me."

Rick nodded his head, "Yes, things are getting pretty ugly and it will get worse before it gets better.   Our enemies won't be happy until they have changed the laws to make it illegal to be homosexual.   One pastor we know of even called for the death penalty to be imposed on homosexuals."

"That attitude is the main reason we are home schooling our children," I said.   "We thought of sending them to a local pre-school for a few hours a day so they could be with other children their age but most of the pre-schools are fun by religious organizations.   The few exceptions didn't meet our standards so we decided that we would teach them at home.   Todd and I enjoy teaching both sets of twins."

Josh interrupted our conversation, "May I have more pancakes?"

I nodded my head, "Yes, Josh, you may.   Let me help you.  JJ, do you want more pancakes?"  

He said, "Yes, please."

I took Josh over to the buffet table and refilled his plate as well as my own.   (Yes, I know, I shouldn't have taken the extra helping of sausage and eggs!)   Rick is always monitoring what we eat.   In fact, Rick looked at my plate and raised his eyebrows in surprise.  "What?" I asked.

Rick frowned, "You know, "what," without me telling you, Babe"

I was about to get defensive when Mom cut in, "Rick, Glenn's allowed to splurge once in a while as long as you keep him exercising properly and he limits his caloric intake the rest of the time."

I stuck my tongue out at him which made the twins laugh.   Rick grinned, "Okay, but only this once.   I don't want you to get fat.   I refuse to have a husband with his gut hanging over his belt!"

I protested, "I have never had even so much as an inch of fat on my body, ever."

"And you won't if you watch what you eat and get plenty of exercise," Rick said.   Rick ruffled my hair.   He knew this would irritate me because I had spent a great deal of time getting my short, blond hair stand up in perfect spiky rows.   Instead of giving him the satisfaction of knowing he had got to me, I stuck my tongue out at him, again.

Rick laughed.   Then he leaned over and kissed me.   "You love me and you know it!"

I grinned at him, "Yes, I do love you and that is why you are the only one who can mess up my hair and not die for taking such liberties!"

Jeff laughed, "I love watching you two because it is so obvious that you love each other."   He turned to my parents and said, "Don and Eva, your sons are great guys."

Dad replied, "Yes, we do – that is when they behave themselves."

I frowned momentarily, "We always behave, Dad.   It's just that sometimes we behave poorly!"

Rick added, "But you love us anyway!"

Dad sighed in resignation, "Yes, we love you despite our better judgment."

The boys finished their pancakes.   Josh looked around the room and said, pointing to a nearby table, "There they are.   JJ, Cameron and Skye are sitting with Eddie, Jamie, Scott and Alonzo."

We looked over and saw that Josh was correct.   I looked around for Zach and Todd and found them at the buffet tables.   "Boys, you can go over and sit with Cameron and Skye."

Josh and JJ climbed down and scampered over to where the twins were sitting.   I turned back to my parents and asked, "When are we going to have our board meeting?"

Mom responded, "Grandpa said we are going to meet after breakfast.   We will have to leave the room so they can clean up and rearrange it for our meeting."

Grandpa had decided that we should hold a board meeting since the entire family was here for the two weddings.   He said it was a good time for everyone to meet the two couples and introduce them to the family corporation.   Eddie, Jamie, Scott and Alonzo had spoken with Grandpa last week via conference call as we went over the legal papers for the purchase of the apartments, business ventures, etc.   Jeff had been present as well since he was our chief of security.   Grandpa had insisted that he accompany us to St. Catharines.  

After finishing breakfast, I turned to my parents and asked, "Do you mind if we circulate around the tables to talk with the rest of the family?"

Mom said, "Go ahead, Glenn.   We will keep an eye on the twins for you while you visit."

Rick said, "Thanks, Mom."

We stood up beckoned for Jeff to join us.   We led him from table to table introducing him as we went.   All of my brothers and sisters were there as well as my cousins, aunts, and uncles.   In addition, our friends from Atlanta and Minneapolis were there as well.   We enjoyed catching up on the news and seeing how their families had grown!    

When we got to the table where Robbie and Adam were sitting, we were surprise to see Justin.     We greeted each of them with a hug and kiss.   Robbie and Adam were doing well.   They had gotten married right out of high school.   Sitting between them were three children.   Robbie turned to the children, "Say, "Hello," to Uncle Glenn and Uncle Rick."

They chorused, "Hello."   I said, "Hello.   Let me see….."  I put my finger on my chin while I thought for moment.  Then I pointed at each child as I said his name, "You are Brian, you are Justin and you are Robin."

Each of the boys smiled as I named them.   Rick asked, "How old are you boys?"

Robin held up three fingers and said, "We are three."

Adam smiled, "The triplets are three and a half."

I said, "That right.   They are almost exactly one year older than our boys.   Their birthday is a week before the twins' birthday, isn't it?"

Robbie nodded, "Yes, it is.   Where are the twins?"

I pointed to the table where they sat with Robbie's brother, Zach.   "They are with Cameron and Skye."

Adam said, "I am very happy that Zach and Todd live so close to you.   I know that Todd loves your family very much."

"We were sad to see them move to Washington, DC.   They lived next door to us when Zach played for the Marlies.   We spend a lot of time with Ben and Janice and their family," Robbie said.

"We were hoping to convince you guys to move to Toronto or at least St. Catharines," Adam said.

Rick looked at me, "Are you sure you didn't tell everyone here to help you convince me to move to Canada?"

I grinned, "No, I didn't but I am very happy they are on my side."

Rick frowned at me.   Robbie said, "You won't regret moving to Canada, Rick.   It is a wonderful country and we are very happy here.   Toronto is a great city to live in with its outstanding night life and wonderful people."

Adam echoed his husband's sentiments, "We came here to attend the University of Toronto and decided to make it our permanent home."  

"Didn't your parents move here as well?" I asked.

"Yes.   Both sets of parents are here now.   That is why we want Zach and Todd to move back to Toronto since the rest the family is here now.   There is no reason for them to stay in the United States," Robbie said.   "I know that Zach loves playing for the Capitals but I am sure if he really wanted to come home that he could work a trade with a hockey club here or even better, yet, he could change careers so he wouldn't have to be away from home so much."

Zach and Todd came over with the boys.   Robbie and Adam jumped up and hugged their brothers.   We pulled two more tables over so we could all sit down and talk with Robbie and Adam.

Todd exclaimed, "You two look great!"  

Adam replied, "Of course, we look great because we look just like you two; only younger."

We all laughed because it was true.   Robbie is Zach's younger brother and Adam is Todd's younger brother.   When Robbie and Adam got married, they took the same last name as their older brothers: Anderson-Ingram.   At the time, Robbie had said, "We want to make sure everyone knows we belong to the same family."

Jeff looked puzzled so we explained to him the relationship between the two couples.   He smiled and said, "Okay, now I understand."

Zach looked at Justin and asked, "How are things going?"

Justin responded, "Pretty good, now.   I moved in with Robbie and Adam a few weeks ago."

"We're sorry that things couldn't be worked out between you and Brian," Todd said.

Justin smiled weakly, "It's better this way.   Our divorce was final last month and he has returned to India."

I asked, "Why did Brian decide he had to return to India?"

"His parents were killed in car crash leaving his younger sisters with no one to care for them.   His grandmother insisted that he had to return home to become the head of the family," Justin said.

"But why didn't you go with him," Rick asked.

"Brian didn't want me to suffer because of the severe homophobia in their society.   He refused to even consider taking me with him to India.   He didn't give me a chance to try and convince him.   He moved out and filed for divorce.   He left the country as soon as our divorce was final," Justin said.   "We moved here a little over a year ago.   In fact, we helped your cousin, Keith and his family, find a place in Minneapolis just before we moved to Toronto.  We bought a place near Robbie and Adam.   Things were going really well until Brian's family informed him that he needed to return to India and take over the reins of the family business."

"Thank you for helping Keith out.   They have told me several times how much they appreciated your help," I said.

Justin smiled, "It was only a small token of what we owe you and Rick.

I thought back to our college days at the University of Minnesota-Twin Falls.   We had all been housemates at the time:   Zach, Todd, Robbie, Adam, Justin, Brian, Mark, Brandon, my cousin, Ben, and I.   I had a lot of wonderful memories of my time there.   Thinking of Mark and Brandon reminded me that I hadn't seen them, yet, this morning.

"Are Mark and Brandon here?" I asked.

Zach replied, "Yes, they are at the table near the door."

I looked towards the door and saw them.   I waved at them and Mark smiled and waved back.   Their daughter, Giselle, sat between them.   Mark's parents were there as well.   "I am glad they were able to make it."

Robbie asked, "Jimmy and Donica are here, too.  They are over at the buffet table."

I looked around to see Jimmy helping his daughter with her plate.   Donica carried a baby on her hip as she filled her plate.   It made me happy to see how our friends' families were growing.  Ben had called me last night to let me know they were going to be arriving late in the morning from Toronto since he had a business meeting he couldn't reschedule.   I was very excited to see all of our family and friends.   We managed to talk with most everyone before we went upstairs to get ready for Grandpa's meeting.   Grandpa informed us before we left the dining room that we would holding our board meeting in that dining room at 11 AM in order to give the hotel staff time to clean up breakfast and rearrange the room for out meeting.

We entered our suite with the twins bouncing into the room excitedly.   JJ asked, "May be watch cartoons, Dad?"

I laughed, "They know that you are the one that won't let them watch cartoons, Babe.   It's up to you."

Rick looked at JJ and said, "Okay, but only until we go back downstairs for our meeting.   Do you have your books and games ready?"

"Yes, Dad, we have our entertainment backpacks right here," Josh said pointing to the backpacks that sat just inside the door to our suite.

Rick responded, "Good.   You can go ahead and turn on the television in your room."

We heard a knock on the door and Rick turned to open.   Seeing Jeff, Rick said, "Come in, Jeff."

Jeff smiled and asked, "Am I bothering you?"

"No, of course not," Rick said.   "Please come inside and make yourself comfortable."

Rick and I made ourselves comfortable on the couch.   Rick put his arm around my shoulders and pulled me close to him.   Rick looked across at Jeff who had chosen to sit in the loveseat.   He saw that Jeff had a puzzled look on his face and asked, "Jeff, you look like you have a question.   What's up?"

Jeff hesitated for a moment and then asked, "Why I am being asked to participate in your company's board meeting?"

Instead of answering his question directly, Rick asked a question of his own, "Who do you work for?"

"I work for you and Glenn as well as for Zach and Todd," Jeff responded; more than a little confused at the question.

"Let me ask the question a different way.   What company pays your salary?" Rick asked.

"MST, Inc.," Jeff said.

"MST, Inc., stands for Mitchell, Scarborough and Turner, Incorporated," Rick said.

Jeff looked at me and said, "Your Grandpa must be the Scarborough that is in the company name."

"Yes, he is the chairman of the board of directors.   My Uncle, Stan Turner, is the Chief Executive Officer and Kerry's Dad, Joseph Mitchell, is the Chief Financial Officer," I said.

Jeff said, "I remember meeting them this morning but I didn't know who they were.   I mean I didn't know they had anything to do with the company meeting.   But I still don't understand why I was invited to the board meeting."

"All of the security chiefs from our various operations are here with us.   Grandpa wanted all of you here to participate in the various meetings he has set up for today and tomorrow," Rick said.

Jeff's eyes widened with surprise.  "I wasn't aware that was more than one security operation."

"MST, Inc., has quite a few business ventures that our friends and family have gotten involved with over the years," I said.

"Like the business proposal you made to Scott and Alonzo?" Jeff asked, a look of comprehension crossing his ruggedly handsome face.

"Yes," Rick replied.   "I think that Grandpa wants to combine all the security operations into one.   He mentioned something about it being a subsidiary company to the main one.   I don't know all the details but it sounded like a good idea when he explained it to us last week."

Jeff smiled, "I had no idea what I was getting into when I agreed to be your chief of security."   He paused for a moment to get better control over his emotions and then continued, "Thank you for helping with my custody battle with my ex-wife.   I heard from my lawyer yesterday that the private investigator has turned up enough evidence against my ex-wife that he is pretty certain I will get full custody of my girls."

"Has a new court date been set?" Rick asked.

"Yes, it has.   It's set for three weeks from now," Jeff said.   His anxiety was very apparent in his voice despite his best efforts to control it.

"Don't worry, Jeff.   Everything will work out alright," I said.

Jeff smiled weakly and replied, "I hope so."

"Jeff, will you keep a close eye on Justin for us?   He has been suicidal in the past and we are a little concerned that his divorce will send him over the edge, again," I said.

"Robbie and Adam talked to us about their concern for Justin's well being," Rick said.  

"Do you think that I could help him since I recently went through a nasty divorce myself?" Jeff asked.

"We don't know but you could ask him if he wants to talk about it," Rick said.

Jeff asked, "Can you give more information about Justin?"

"Sure," I replied.  We related to Jeff what we knew about Justin.

"Thanks for filling me in.  I will be very sensitive about how I approach things with Justin," Jeff said.  There was knock on our door.   Jeff said, "Don't get up, I'll get the door.   You two look so comfortable."

Jeff opened the door and before he could ask who it was, two children ran past him into our room and pounced on us.   Egan and Diane attacked us with hugs and kisses.  

Egan said, "We missed you at breakfast this morning.   I was looking for you everywhere!"

"We missed you, too, Egan," Rick said.  

Diane said, "Where are the twins?"

"They are in their room watching cartoons.   You can join them if you want," I said.

The two children quickly disappeared into the twin's bedroom.   Keith and Kerry joined us followed by Jeff.   We stood up and hugged Keith and Kerry.

"It's good to see you two," Keith said.

"We have missed you and the boys," Kerry said.

We have missed you as well," I said.   I held Kerry at arm's length and gave her a knowing smile.  "You are expecting, again, aren't you?"

Kerry blushed and smiled, "Yes, I am.   I had hoped I wasn't showing too much."

I released her and said, "You don't but you can't hide it from me.   I know you too well."

Kerry laughed, "Oh, Glenn, I have missed you so much.   I had forgotten how observant you are."

Rick said, "Please sit down and make yourselves comfortable."  Jeff pulled over the desk chair while Keith and Kerry took the loveseat.   "Keith and Kerry, this is our new chief of security, Jeff Dunn."

They both smiled at Jeff.  "Jeff, welcome to the family.   I am Glenn's cousin and this is my wife, Kerry."

Jeff nodded his head, "Nice to meet you and thank you.   I didn't realize I was being adopted into the family when I agreed to take the job."

Keith said, "We lived next door to Rick and Glenn for many years and we have always treated our security people like they were members of the family."

Kerry said, "Don't worry, Jeff.   You will adjust pretty quickly.   I know that Rick and Glenn are wonderful guys and will do everything they can to make you feel comfortable."

Jeff smiled, "Yes, I have seen them in action already.   I am just a little overwhelmed by their generosity."

Keith said, "They are that.   Personally, I think they are too trusting sometimes but they have always managed to surround themselves with good people."

I said, "I agree that I used to be too trusting sometimes but just ask Rick how much I trust government officials or nosey neighbors."

"That is not at all," Rick said.   "I happen to agree with him about the lack of trust we have in our government officials to do the right thing.   They are more concerned about themselves and abusing the power entrusted to them than they are about doing what is right."

Keith's expression grew solemn as he remembered when the twins had been taken from Rick and Glenn.   "I'm sorry.  I shouldn't have said you were too trusting."

"It's okay, Keith.   I think we have put too much faith in the general goodness of the people.   Rick can testify that I don't trust anyone when it comes to our children.   That is part of the reason we will be home schooling the twins.   I don't think I will ever fully recover from what was done to us by Arlington County.   It appears that Fairfax County is also in the process of discriminating against us because we are gay men raising a family."

Kerry asked, "What is Mrs. Reed going to do if the family court won't allow you to adopt her grandchildren?"

"She was going to stop the adoption process in Fairfax County because it is so biased against gays that there no way we could be given a fair evaluation.   Mrs. Reed plans to move to New York with the children and then we will file the adoption paperwork with the family court there," I said.

Jeff asked, "What was the reason they used to deny the adoption petition?"

"Moral grounds," Rick said.   "They claim that we aren't morally suitable and therefore unfit to adopt the children."

"Won't they try to take away the twins next?" Keith said.   "It sounds just like what happened in Arlington County."

"We don't know what they will do next," I said.   "It's just another reason why I want to move here.   I'd much rather live in St. Catharines than live in fear all the time that the state is going to try to take my children away from me."   I glanced over at Rick.   His face showed that I had hit him hard this time.   I don't think he had fully considered the implications of the negative comments in the social workers write up about us being morally unsuitable to raise children.

"Has the court even heard the petition, yet?" Kerry asked.

Rick answered, "No, but the home assessment and all of the other interviews were positive except for a comment on each one that stated we weren't morally suitable to raise children because we are a same sex couple.   They wouldn't even acknowledge the fact that we are legally married and that we have been in a committed relationship for a long time now.   According to them, we can't provide a stable home environment for children because our marriage is not recognized by the state of Virginia.  A copy of all the paperwork was provided to our lawyer after we filed a discrimination and defamation of character suit against the county as well as a suit regarding the establishment of religion clause due to the introduction of the morally suitable clause into the court system."

Kerry asked, "Have you seen Cory and Nancy?"

"Not yet, but I expect that they will be at the board meeting," I said.  

Rick's watch beeped letting us know that it was time to return to the dining room.   "Let's go, guys," Rick said.

We collected the children and we made our way back to the dining room.   We entered it and found that it had been completely rearranged.   Long straight tables had replaced the round ones and they were lined up in rows facing a portable podium that had been brought in and placed at the front of the room.  Keith and Kerry spotted Cory and Nancy and made their way over to talk to them.      We joined Zach and Todd after dropping off the twins in the back corner of the room where the rest of the children were gathered.  

The back corner had been divided off with sound barriers to form a separate room with a television set.   We saw that the younger children were watching a DVD and that there were a variety of board games for the older children.   JJ and Josh quickly sought out Cameron and Skye and sat down next to them to watch the DVD.

Keith, Kerry, Cory and Nancy joined us at our table.   We stood up and hugged Cory and Nancy.  "It is so good to see you two.   How are the girls?" I said.

Nancy smiled, "I am glad we could make it.   They are doing really well.   We left Randy with the rest of the children.   We will have to get together after the meetings and let our children get to know each other better."

"The twins have really grown since we saw you last summer," Cory said.

"That they have," Rick said smiling.

Grandpa, the Mitchells, and the Turners sat at the head table next to the podium.   As Grandpa stood up, we took our seats and listened as he brought the board meeting to order.   "Good morning!   I am glad everyone made it safely here.   We have quite a bit of business to conduct."

He welcomed the newest members of our circle of friends – Eddie, Jamie, Scott, Alonzo, and Jeff.   Then he went on to share the financial statistics of the company.   He congratulated everyone their hard work and praised us for the successes we had seen over the last 12 months.  

Then he said, "We are proposing a reorganization of the company and we want your approval before we move forward."

We listened carefully to the proposal.   At different times, Uncle Stan and Joe stood up and took over the narration of the changes we were being asked to consider.   Each of us had a folder in front of us with the details which they asked us to look over. 

Grandpa said, "Let's take 30 minutes to answer your questions and then we will ask for your vote of approval."

We peppered him with questions.   Some of which, Grandpa answered while others he passed off to Uncle Stan and Joe.   At the end of 30 minutes, Grandpa asked, "Are there any other questions?"

There was silence in the room.   Grandpa said, "It looks like there aren't any more questions.   Let's move onto the voting part of this meeting"   He explained the voting procedure and we held the vote.   It passed unanimously as we expected it would.   Grandpa said, "Good.   Now that you have approved our proposed changes, we think it is time that we begin training our replacements."   He outlined how he thought this would work.   Grandpa said, "I won't be around forever and we need to ensure that there is continuity in the leadership of our family business.   I want you to think about which of you would be the best family members to begin training to take our places running this company.   I know that most of you have graduated from college and are pursuing your dreams.   From that perspective, this company has served its purpose.   However, we need to ensure that your children also have that same opportunity."

Uncle Stan stood next to Grandpa and said, "We know this is a lot to think about.   We have planned a few hours for you to talk among yourselves.   We will adjourn this meeting until 3 PM this afternoon."

There was an excited buzz in the room as everyone started talking at once.   I looked at Rick and asked, "Who do you think should become the chair of the board?"

Rick thought for a moment and then he said, "If it has to be a family member, I would recommend Keith.   He is very good with people and should be able to handle the job of the chairman of the board.   I think Uncle Stan should continue as Chief Executive Officer.   I don't know who could adequately fill his shoes at the moment."

"I agree with you but I think someone should be shadowing him to learn the ropes," I said.   I thought for a moment about whether I dared breathe a word about the idea that had just popped into my head.   I decided to go ahead and spit it out.   "What about you, Rick?   You could shadow, Uncle Stan."

Rick looked at me in surprise.   He didn't respond for so long I thought maybe I had made him angry at me for suggesting it.   I started to speak when Rick put his finger in my lips and he shook his head.   "Let me think for a minute before you say anything more about it."

Rick took my hand in his and then he turned me around to face him.   "I don't think it would be a good idea for me to shadow Uncle Stan unless it could be worked out that I could do it remotely."

I looked into his eyes and saw that he was seriously considering it but had identified the one thing I hadn't thought about – moving to Selma, NC, was completely out of the question.   "You are right.   There is no way we could move to Selma or anywhere in North Carolina.   They are too homophobic there.   I wouldn't feel safe living there after everything that has happened with your family."

Rick raised his hand to my face and lightly ran his fingers along my jaw line, "I can't put you or the twins in danger by moving to North Carolina."

I nodded my head in agreement.   I looked down the table at Keith and said, "Then maybe Keith would be the better one to shadow his Dad."

Rick agreed, "Yes, I think that would make more sense given the circumstances but Keith doesn't want to live in North Carolina any more than we do.   Keith and Kerry want to move back to Atlanta."

"I know.   Most of their friends still live in Atlanta.   I liked living in Atlanta but I want to live somewhere that recognizes our marriage and we have the same rights and privileges under the laws as heterosexual couples.   I am so mentally and emotionally battered by the hatred and negativity directed at gays in the United States.   I want us to move to a place where I don't have to worry about my safety and that of our family; a place where we can raise our family without the fear of the government stepping in to destroy our lives," I said looking into Rick's eyes.

Rick nodded his understanding, "Glenn, I am tired of the constant onslaught of gay bashing that has become the norm but I am not ready to move just yet."

Hearing his response started me to thinking of the many discussions we have had about this subject.   I knew he would respond that way but I had hope that one of these days Rick would be ready and we could move to a better place to live.   I admit that I led a very sheltered life growing up on the Canadian prairie.   I had never been harassed or bullied by anyone at Kincaid Central School and even when I moved into town to attend high school I had never been subjected to such vindictive and malicious behavior as I had experienced in the United States.   Yes, there were some haters among my peers, but for the most part everyone left me alone.   It helped that my cousin, Ben, and his teammates on the hockey team had taken me under his wing.   No one dared say or do anything to me about being gay for fear of becoming the subject of the hockey team's wrath.

I am glad I decided to attend college in the United States because I met my husband, Rick, at Georgia Tech.   However, my happiness with Rick has been counterbalanced by the religious bigotry of supposed "Christians" and their twisting of the government's responsibility to protect its citizens into one of persecuting those citizens who don't fit into their definition of upstanding, moral people. These "Christians" make a mockery of the United States' Declaration of Independence where it states that every man has certain unalienable rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  In addition, they trample on the Constitution of the United States by establishing Christianity as the state religion.   The first amendment states it very clearly – "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."   What is even more disingenuous is their claim that they are not discriminating against gays or establishing a religion because they are only codifying into law a "definition" of marriage so it can't be challenged as discriminatory or unconstitutional.

Rick touched my arm, "Earth to Glenn."   He waved his hand in front of my face.  I blinked and turned to look at him.   "You left earth's orbit there for a moment, Babe."

"I am sorry, Rick, I was thinking about some of our discussions about moving to Canada." I said smiling at my sweetheart.

"I thought you might be thinking up something new to try and convince me that now is the time to move," Rick said smiling.   "Please be patient with me, Glenn.   Every time we visit your family, I get more and more comfortable with the idea of moving here.   I really like St. Catharines but I could never live in Swift Current.   It's too small and it's out in the middle of nowhere!"

Nancy overheard Rick's comment and walked over.   "You are right about Swift Current being a small town but it's a good place to raise a family.   Just look at us.   We turned out okay, don't you think?"

Cory laughed, "Yes, you did turn out just fine."   He wrapped his arms around his wife and kissed her.   That's when I noticed that my sister was pregnant, again.  

Nancy noticed the look of surprise on my face and laughed, "Yes, brother dear, I am expecting another child.   You have to remember that Randy is over a year old now.   We already know it's a girl and have picked out a name for her:  Jessica."

Rick pulled Cory into a big hug and said, "Congratulations!   I knew you were good for something!"

Cory laughed, "Thanks, I think."

Nancy laughed as well, "Yes, Cory is good for many things."

The color rose in Cory's cheeks as Nancy went on to list some of those things!   Finally, Nancy stopped and then said, "Most of all, he loves me very much."   She kissed him on the lips and took his hand.   "I am starving.   Please take me to lunch, sweetheart."

Cory grinned, "She is always hungry.   You wouldn't believe how much she ate yesterday."

"I would believe it.   Remember she lived with us when she had the twins?" Rick asked grinning at Nancy.

Nancy stuck her tongue out at Rick causing Rick to laugh.   "Rick, have you forgotten that I never get angry?   I just get even!"

Rick grinned, "I look forward to it!"

I took Rick by the hand, "Rick, stop teasing my sister.   You know she will always win.   I haven't forgotten what she did to you the last time you started teasing her."

The memory of it had all of us laughing.   Nancy smiled sweetly, "I do think I did pretty well that time."

Rick was blushing furiously, "Yes, you did."

Zach grinned as he asked, "Dare we ask what Nancy did to Rick?"

Before anyone could answer, Rick said, "No, absolutely not!"

Nancy laughed and turned to Cory, "Let's go eat.   I think I have embarrassed Rick enough already."

Rick looked at me and said, "Don't even think of telling anyone what she did to get even."

I meekly said, "Yes, dear.   Don't you wish she could come live with us, again?"

Rick gave me the "look" that said "forget it!"  I laughed, "But you have to admit you love her like I do." 

Rick smiled and said, "Yes, I do love your sister and yes we did have many fun times when she lived with us."

We picked up the children and made our way across the street to Boston Pizza.   We found that Mark and Brandon were already seated so we asked the hostess if we could join them.   She and a couple of the wait staff moved some tables around to accommodate us.

Mark and Brandon hugged us.   Mark said, "You guys look great!   I can see that Rick is keeping you fit and trim, Glenn!"

I laughed, "Yes, he has been a real slave driver when it comes to working out on the weights and running every morning."

Rick said, "You have got that right, Babe.   I can't have you getting fat on me!"

Brandon gave me the once over from head to toe before he said, "I think you look even hotter than you did when I met you, Glenn."

I blushed at his compliment.   Brandon laughed at my discomfort.   I still wasn't used to his blatant flirting.   I knew he was completely committed to Mark so I shouldn't let it bother me.

Rick and Mark laughed, "Brandon, you did it again."

He grinned broadly, "I love it when you blush, Glenn.   You look so cute!"

Keith said, "He is rather good looking isn't he?"

"You would agree since you look just like him," Brandon said laughing.   "In fact, the first time we met you and Kerry I thought it was Glenn who was making out with Kerry.   I was so totally floored I didn't know how to react because Glenn has never shown any interest in girls."

"You were rather speechless that day," Keith said grinning at Brandon.

"But as soon as you opened your mouth to speak, I knew you weren't Glenn.   Your Southern accent gave you away," Brandon said.  

Kerry said, "I am glad you and Mark were able to help us find a place."

"It is like Glenn told us when he helped us out, you are part of our family and we take care of family," Mark said.

The hostess asked, "Are you ready to order?"

We found our seats and soon placed our order.   We had a great time visiting with our family and friends.   It reminded me of our college days when everyone would pitch in for beer and pizza and we would party until the wee hours of the morning.

Later that afternoon, we met, again.   It turned out that everyone thought Rick or I should take over Grandpa's place as chairman of the board.   Rick has the better head for business.   I knew Rick would never agree to take on the chairmanship unless I refused it.   I asked everyone to consider Rick and explained my logic to them.   By a unanimous vote, Rick was selected to shadow Grandpa in preparation for taking over from him should he be unable to continue in that position.  

It was decided that we would wait to decide who would shadow the Mitchells and Turners as officers of the corporation.   Grandpa suggested that we hold another meeting at Christmas time to make our decisions about corporate officers.   We all agreed and then Grandpa adjourned our meeting and told us to go have fun.  

The big day had finally arrived!   We were all seated in the church waiting for the two couples to enter the sanctuary.   The guys had taken the marriage preparation course with Reverend Riegger.   They had opted to spend a couple of days with the Reverend instead of spreading out the various classes over a couple of weeks.   At the end of each day's classes, the guys had met us for dinner.   Listening to them talking about what they had learned reminded us of our sessions with Reverend Riegger.

My thoughts went back to their last day of classes, when Rick and I had retired for the evening.   The boys were snug in their beds and we finally had a few minutes to relax and enjoy some time alone.

Rick took me into his arms and said, "I am very glad we were married in the church, Glenn.   Those sessions with Reverend Riegger helped us develop a firm foundation for our marriage relationship."

"I am glad that the guys are doing the same.   I am especially grateful that Reverend Riegger is still around to perform the wedding ceremony for them," I said.

"I am, too," Rick said.

My thoughts were brought back to the present when everyone stood up as the wedding march started playing.   It was time for the best men to make their entrance.   Zach and Todd came in first and stood on one side of the dais.   Then Rick and I came in on stood on the other side.   The two happy couples came up the aisle.    Scott and Alonzo took their place between Zach and Todd while Eddie and Jamie took theirs between me and Rick.   They were followed by the ring bearers, Cameron and Skye for Scott and Alonzo, and JJ and Josh for Eddie and Jamie.    JJ took my hand while he clutched the pillow with Eddie's ring tied on it in his other hand.   I glanced over to see that Josh had taken his Dad's hand and still had the pillow with Jamie's ring tied on it.   I had been afraid that the twins would drop the pillows or worse, yet, they would lose the rings before the ceremony was complete. I looked across to the other side of the dais to see that Cameron and Skye had also taken their fathers' hands as we had shown them during the rehearsal last night.

I breathed a sigh of relief that everything was going as planned.   Reverend Riegger began, "We are gathered here today to unite in holy matrimony these two couples.   They have completed the requisite classes and have shown that they are ready to take a vow of commitment to each other."

As I listened to him continue the ceremony, my mind was taken back to that special day when Rick and I were married in this very church.   I glanced over at Rick and smiled.   He smiled and I knew he was also remembering that special day.

I returned my attention to Reverend Riegger.   I was happy that both couples had chosen traditional wedding vows.   The two couples had decided to recite their vows at the same time.   When they had finished, Reverend Riegger said, "You may now exchange rings and kiss your spouse."

Rick and I helped the twins untie the rings on their respective pillows and then watched as they carefully presented the rings to Eddie and Jamie.   They exchanged wedding bands and then kissed each other at the same time as Scott and Alonzo.

Reverend Riegger announced to the congregation, "I present to you Scott and Alonzo Dickerson and Eddie and Jamie McGuire.   You may come up to the front of the sanctuary to congratulate the newlywed couples."

After the ceremony, we traveled to the Stratford White House for the wedding reception.   It brought back many happy memories for me and Rick.   We spent the evening dancing, eating and enjoying the company of our friends and family.   During a break in the dancing, the two newlywed couples joined me and Rick at our table.

Eddie said, "Thank you for everything you have done for us."

"We will never forget how you helped us to find each other," Jamie said.   "This is the happiest day of my life."

Scott seconded Jamie's sentiment, "Yes, this is the happiest day of our lives, too.   I never would have believed that I would fall in love with another guy but I did and I am so glad that Lonny feels the same way about me."

Alonzo smiled at his husband, "Scott is the best thing that ever happened to me."   He looked over at us and said, "I owe Zach and Todd a lot for introducing me to you guys and I owe you guys for helping me find Scott."

Zach and Todd came over and hugged the two couples.   "Congratulations to the happy couples!" exclaimed Zach.

Todd smiled, "We wish you the best of everything life has to offer."

We chatted with them for a few more minutes.   Then the newlyweds returned to the dance floor.

Scott pulled Alonzo into his arms for a slow dance.   He kissed Alonzo and then started nuzzling his neck.   Alonzo whispered into Scott's ear, "When are we going upstairs to our room?"

Scott nibbled on Alonzo's ear and said, "Whenever you want to leave, Babe.   Some of our guests have already left to go to their hotels."

"Let's go up after this song is over," Alonzo said.   "I want to be alone with my husband."  

He gave Scott a grin that made Scott's heart skip a beat.   Scott never tired of seeing that grin.   It still amazed him that he had found his soul mate after so many years of searching.   He had traveled the globe and not found anyone that made his heart race.   He returned Alonzo's grin and led him off the dance floor as the song ended.   They passed Eddie and Jamie who looked at them for a moment and then they both grinned.

Eddie said, "We will be right behind you.   We will see you in the morning.   The plane leaves Hamilton pretty early so don't oversleep."

Scott nodded his head and proceeded to lead his husband out of the reception room and upstairs to their suite.   He and Eddie had decided to honeymoon together.   At Rick's suggestion, they had booked a flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they were to meet their cruise ship.   Rick had insisted on paying for both couples as part of their wedding gift to their friends.   Scott was excited to be spending time alone with Alonzo.  

He didn't mind having Eddie and Jamie along since there would be plenty for them to do as a couple.   Alonzo had never been on a cruise and neither had Eddie or Jamie.    Scott had been on several and knew they would have a blast, especially since this cruise catered to gays.   He had gone on a gay cruise once before and had enjoyed a brief liaison with a handsome young man that had fizzled out once they were both back on land.

Scott opened the door to their suite and turned to pick up Alonzo and carried him across the threshold.   He looked into his husband's eyes and said, "I have always wanted to do that."

Alonzo laughed as Scott returned him to his feet.   "I love it."   Alonzo threw his arms around his sweetheart and they shared a very passionate kiss.   They helped each other out of their tuxedos.   They showered together, washing each other and increasing their state of arousal.   They quickly dried off and moved to their bedroom to consummate their marriage on this extraordinary day.

Scott pulled Alonzo close and looked into his eyes, "Lonny, I love you.   Thank you for marrying me."

Alonzo responded, "I love you, too."   Alonzo kissed Scott tenderly on the lips.   He pulled back and asked, "Where are we going on our honeymoon?"

Scott grinned, "It's a surprise.   You will find out tomorrow.  All I can say is that we have a flight to catch in the morning."

Alonzo smiled, "You and Eddie have been so secretive about it.   Jamie and I are practically going crazy with curiosity."

 Scott laughed, "I would have thought that you would have more patience than Jamie since you are much more mature that he is."

"Thanks, sweetheart, I didn't realize I was getting so old," Alonzo said laughing.

"Well, we are ten years older than Jamie," Scott said.

"Well, that is true.   Jamie is really sweet though and he and Eddie make a cute couple," Alonzo said.

"I agree.   However, I am glad you waited to find me," Scott.

"So am I," Alonzo said.   "I didn't ever dream I would find anyone who loved riding motorcycles as much as I do."

Scott nibbled Alonzo's ear before responding, "Yes, we do love our crotch rockets."

Alonzo laughed, "You are so bad, Scott!"

Scott protested, "I am not!"

"Yes, you are!" Alonzo insisted laughing at Scott's pretense at being insulted.   Alonzo reached down to massage Scott causing Scott to moan in pleasure.   "Are you ready to do it, again?"

Scott answered by covering Alonzo's neck with kisses.

Meanwhile, in the suite across the hall, Eddie and Jamie who had finally managed to escape were just closing the door.   Eddie pulled Jamie into an embrace and then helped his new husband out of his clothes.   Eddie slipped out of his tuxedo and then led his lover boy to their bedroom.  

Jamie snuggled against Eddie's chest.  "I love you, Eddie."

Eddie gently kissed his husband and said, "I love you, too."

Jamie said, "Thank you for being the man you are.   You have made my dreams come true."

"So does this mean I get to be Prince Charming?" Eddie asked jokingly.

"Yes, it does," Jamie said.   "You came into my life and saved me from being lonely."

"I didn't know what I was missing until you came into my life, Jamie.   I thought I had it all figured out and then I met you and my whole world was turned upside down," Eddie said.   "I have never been one to be very sentimental but you have helped me to find my heart, again.   It had turned to stone the day my parents kicked me out of their home but you turned me back into a living, breathing thing, again.   I still don't know how to manage all of the emotions I am feeling."

Jamie put his hand up to Eddie cheek and gently kissed this giant of a man who he had married this morning.   "We will manage them together, sweetheart."

Eddie's eyes glistened with unshed tears, "That's sounds so wonderful.   When you agreed to marry me, I didn't believe we would ever make it this far.   I have never had any luck with relationships and feared that somewhere along the way; you would change your mind."

"Eddie, you are stuck with for the rest of your life," Jamie said looking deeply into his lover's eyes.

Eddie pulled Jamie closer to him as he kissed him.   Their passions flared and soon overpowered them as they shared their love and desire for each other.   As they lay sated in each other's arms, Eddie stared into his lover's face and said, "I will always cherish you."

That same evening, Mrs. Campbell was entertaining a number of prestigious guests from the area in her home.   She had invited a mixture of people from different social circles.   There were several judges and lawyers as well as the mayor of Alexandria City.   To keep the General happy, she had invited the commandant for Fort Meyer and a couple of the General's military friends.   She also invited her sister and her grown children.   Mrs. Campbell's family was very prominent in the area.   She came from what people called old money.   In her younger days, she and her sister had rubbed shoulders with only the best and the brightest of the jet set.   To some extent, this was still true.  

She had planned this party a few weeks ago when she heard about the discriminatory behavior of the family court employees working with her adopted sons, Glenn and Rick.   They weren't really adopted but they were as good as adopted because she and the General had taken them in when they needed a home and had grown very close to them.   Their twin boys were the light of her life.   In fact, she and the General had recently changed their wills to leave everything they owned to the twins.   She knew that Glenn and Rick didn't need the money but she wanted the twins to be well provided for in the event something happened to their Dads.   She and the General hadn't shared this information with Glenn and Rick.   Neither had they told the boys they were going to pull some strings with the family court.   Two of the family court judges were related to Mrs. Campbell – one by marriage and the other was a cousin.   Both of them were in attendance this evening.   She had also invited a very close friend who worked for Child Protective Services in Fairfax County.

As she greeted her guests, she kept careful watch on the two judges.   After dinner, the group had assembled in the music where Mrs. Campbell's niece played the piano for them.   The General and his friends had retired to the basement to examine the General's gun collection.   Several of the lawyers had left as they had other appointments leaving the judges and Mrs. Campbell's sister and family.  

She started to implement her plan.   Her cousin, Judge Nicholas Bell, asked her about the photos on her mantel.   "I thought you and the General didn't have any children.   Who are those handsome young men in the photographs?"

"Those are my adopted sons, Glenn and Rick," Mrs. Campbell answered.   The others in the room stopped their conversations to listen with interest.   She stood up and walked over to the fireplace.   She pointed to each photo as she said, "This is Glenn and his husband, Rick, and their twin boys, Jared James and Joshua Glenn."  She heard a sharp intake of breath and turned to see who it was but failed to identify the individual.

Judge Bell asked, "Did I hear you correctly?"

"Yes, you heard me correctly, Nicholas.   My adopted sons are gay and were married in St. Catharines, Ontario, while they were living with me and the General," Mrs. Campbell said.

Her sister asked, "I knew you had taken in the two boys but you never mentioned they were married.   How could you allow them to live in sin under your roof?"

Mrs. Campbell asked, "Maxine, is it a sin to marry the one you love?"

Her sister replied, "It is if it's a guy marrying a guy."

Mrs. Campbell replied coldly, "The how do you explain your ongoing relationship with your girlfriend, Maggie?"  Maxine froze.   She hadn't expected her sister to out her in front of her family and her guests.   She didn't know what to say.   "Yes, Maxine, I have known about you living with your girlfriend since James died.   It's kind of hypocritical of you to condemn my boys when you, yourself, are living with another woman."

Maxine's daughter, Emily Rushin, gasped and covered her mouth with her hand.   Her husband, John, put his arm around her to comfort her.   "Mother, is it true?" she asked.

Maxine slowly nodded her head.   "Yes, it's true, dear.   I have been very lonely and Maggie is a great comfort to me."

Mrs. Campbell picked up the photo of the twins.   "These are my grandsons.   Their Dads are in the process of trying to adopt three children who were placed in their home for three months when their parents died.   They lived in Arlington County then and the family services people asked them to be foster parents until a permanent home could be home for them.   They eventually were placed in the care of their grandmother.   Since that time, the children's grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and has petitioned the Fairfax family court to allow my sons to adopt her grandchildren."

Emily Rushin looked away from her aunt's piercing gaze.   She knew exactly who these men were.   They were the gay couple she had interviewed a few weeks before and had recommended that the adoption petition be denied due to moral considerations.   She didn't know how her aunt knew about it but she knew without a doubt that her aunt was in possession of all the facts.

Mrs. Campbell turned to Judge Bell, "Nicholas, what would you think if a gay couple such as my sons brought a petition to adopt children?"

"I would weigh the situation based on it's merits," he replied.

"Meaning you would summarily dismiss the petition?" she asked with a slight edge to her voice.

"No, I would evaluate all of the facts before making a decision," he replied.

"So would you reject their petition based on discriminatory statements made by social workers and child protective services solely based on the fact that my sons are gay?" she asked pointedly.

"No, I would want to have the children evaluated by a child psychologist and other professionals," he said.

"Would witnesses to the good character of my boys sway your opinion of them?" she asked.

"That would depend on who the witnesses were and what kind of a relationship they had with the petitioners," he replied.   "Why are you asking all of these questions?"

"I am asking you these questions because my sons' petition to adopt the three children I have spoken of is on the docket to be considered in your court.   The problem is that my niece has placed derogatory and utterly false statements in her documentation for submission to the court for evaluation," she said staring straight into Emily Rushin's eyes.

Nicholas said, "Those are pretty serious accusations.   Are you sure?"

"Yes, I am.   I have seen the documents with my own eyes and I have read the report filed by Emily.   She condemns my sons for being married to the one they love and states that the children would not be living in a healthy environment living with gay parents," Mrs. Campbell said angrily.   She continued, "Those boys have lived in my home and have given me and the General more "Christian" service than anyone we have ever known.   They have good hearts and would give you the shirt off of their backs to help you.   They are the most upstanding people I know."

The other judge, Rachel Alston, spoke up, "Have your sons filed a discrimination suit against the county?"

"No, but they are in the process of doing so.   They asked me and the General for advice and we told them to sue the county and the individuals responsible for the discriminatory remarks including defamation of character," she responded, again, looking directly at Emily Rushin.

Rachel said, "Ask the boys to hold off until I have had some time to check out a few things.   I think this situation can be resolved fairly easily."

Emily looked surprised, "What do you mean?"

"I intend to speak with your supervisor and to several others at the court to ensure that our people are not discriminating against well qualified individuals based on their own religious beliefs," Rachel responded.

Mrs. Campbell said, "Thank you, Rachel, but I am afraid things have already gone too far for a simple resolution."   She paused and looked at Emily, again.   "Isn't that so Emily?"

Emily's face showed her shock and anger at being called out in front of her family.   She didn't respond to her aunt's question but glared at her.

John turned to his wife, "What is she talking about Emily?   What have you done?"

Mrs. Campbell said, "She has already falsified reports claiming that my sons are abusive parents as are their friends, Zach and Todd Anderson-Ingram.   She has contacted Child Protective Services to immediately remove their children from their homes.   There is a warrant for my sons' arrest based on the false accusations made by Emily about what my sons have done to abuse my grandsons.   Emily did this in retaliation for the lawsuit that has been filed by my sons against her and the county.   Isn't that what you have done Emily?"

Emily face contorted in anger as she answered, "Yes, I wanted to make sure that their families are torn apart and that they pay for trying to ruin my career.   I want them to rot in prison as the devil's spawn they are!   Yes, I falsified the reports and I am the one responsible for taking down those vile sinners who are perverting their children with their evil ways."

Maxine stared in horror at her daughter, "How can you be so vindictive and hateful?   I didn't raise you to treat people like this nor did I teach you to lie to force people to do what you want."

Emily turned on her mother, "You aren't any better than they are; living in sin with Maggie."

"Emily, our church doesn't condone homosexual behavior but we don't accept lawbreakers and liars either.   Doesn't falsifying your reports and making false accusations constitute breaking the law?"

When Emily didn't respond, Mrs. Campbell said, "Mr. Williams, Mrs. Davis, Mr. Sheppard and Mrs. Evans please join us."

At the mention of Mr. Williams name, Emily's face went white.   The four named individuals entered the room along with two police officers.   Mrs. Campbell introduced everyone.

Mr. Williams announced, "Emily, as of this moment, you are suspended and relieved of your duties with Fairfax County pending a further investigation."

"You can't do that Mr. Williams," Emily said.

"I can and I have already done so," Mr. Williams said.   "I am the director of Child Protective Services and disciplinary matters are handled by me.   Also, I have delivered copies of your forged documents to the police.   I have informed the police of the false accusations against these men.    Hopefully, we can get the information to the appropriate authorities before any damage is done to these families based on your desire for vengeance."

"How did you find out about the falsified reports," John asked.

"When Emily filed the new reports with CPS, Mrs. Davis called me about them.   She remembered talking to a friend of hers from Arlington County about a similar situation that occurred there involving a gay couple.   We called Mr. Sheppard and Mrs. Evans in Arlington County and were surprised to find that it was the same gay couple who moved from Arlington County to Fairfax County.   We were even more astonished to hear that one of their own social workers had nearly succeeded in destroying this family using the same tactics Emily was using; namely falsifying documents to enforce their own religious beliefs instead of objectively evaluating the circumstances."

John looked over at this wife in disgust, "Why did you do it?"

She looked at John in shock.   She had counted on his support and thought he would take her side.   "Can't you see why I did it?   I wanted those children to grow up in a normal home with the same opportunities as other children.   There is no way those children will ever be afforded a stable home environment by those horrible men."

Mrs. Campbell said, "To me, you are the horrible person here.   You are a monster who's only thought in life is to satisfy her own need to exercise power and authority over others.   I see a cruel and absolute dictator whose sole purpose in life is to make other people as miserable as she is."

John said, "This time, your aunt is correct, Emily.   You have some serious thinking to do."

Emily gave her husband a sly smile, "No, I won't be thinking about it at all since I haven't done anything illegal."

Mr. Williams said, "That is where you are wrong.   You have fabricated evidence with malicious intent.   You falsified documents that would have led to the incarceration of innocent men and caused the removal of their children from their custody to be placed into foster care.   Your intent was to do harm and to retaliate against them.   You have proudly confessed to your crime in front of all these witnesses.   In addition, every word that has been spoken here this evening has been recorded for use as evidence in a court of law."

Mr. Williams nodded to the police officers who arrested Emily and took her from the room in handcuffs.

Mrs. Campbell turned to Mr. Williams, "Thank you so much for helping me stop my niece.   She has always been difficult to deal with.   In her mind, there is only black and white.   Isn't that so, Maxine?"

Maxine nodded her head, "Yes.   Emily has always insisted that everyone follow her rules no matter what the consequences."

Mrs. Campbell said, "Thank you, Mrs. Davis, for following up on what you saw in those falsified reports.   If it hadn't been for you, my sons would be going to jail and my poor grandsons would be traumatized, again, at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them."

Mrs. Davis said, "I was only doing my job, Mrs. Campbell."

"No, dear, you went beyond the call of duty to ensure that the right thing was done to prevent a great wrong," Mrs. Evans said with a smile.

"Yes, Mrs. Davis, you are to be commended," Mr. Sheppard commented.   "You can work for Arlington County any time.   That is if you get tired of working for my friend, Mr. Williams."

Mr. Williams smiled, "Yes, thank you for your hard work, Mrs. Davis."   He looked around the room.   "I give you my apologies for interrupting your evening."

Nicholas said, "Thank you for doing your best to ensure that these families are not harmed."

Rachel agreed, "Yes, I am glad you were able to prevent a great tragedy from happening because of one person's hatred for others."

Mr. Williams took his leave as did Mrs. Davis.   Mr. Sheppard and Mrs. Evans joined the gathering and visited with the other guests.   Mrs. Evans shared her experiences with Glenn and Rick and their wonderful twin boys.   Mrs. Campbell sat near the fireplace and reflected on all that had transpired during the last few days.   She was glad that Mr. Williams had contacted her about the accusations against her adopted sons.   What she hadn't shared with the group for friends and family at her home tonight was that she and Mr. Williams, Teddy as she called him, had dated for several years before she met the General.   Even thought things had not worked out between them, she and Teddy were still very close.   The General had always respected her desire to maintain a warm relationship with Teddy and she was grateful for her wonderful husband's wisdom in maintaining cordial ties with one's closest friends in life.   How little had she known that the day would come when Teddy would help her save her family from being destroyed by one of her own blood kin; someone who had spent many weekends with her dear aunt and had brought much comfort to her childless state.  

It hurt her deeply to see Emily led out of her home in handcuffs.   She had never been confronted with such a difficult choice.   She knew she had to save her sons and their boys from the evil designs of her niece but at the same time she wanted to shield Emily from the consequences of her actions.   In the end, she had come to the realization that she needed to protect her two grandsons whose lives would be shattered by the events Emily had set in motion.  

She only half listened to the others as they talked.   The emotional impact of what had just happened left her totally exhausted.   She leaned back in her recliner and was soon fast asleep.

The morning after the double weddings, Rick looked into Glenn's eyes and smiled, "What would you say if we bought a house in St. Catharines?"

I looked at my sweetheart in surprise, "Are you saying we can move to St. Catharines?"

Rick laughed, "No, but we can at least buy a place so we can live here during the summers.   I am not quite ready to move here permanently, Glenn."

"But we can stay here every summer?" I asked excitedly.   I couldn't believe that Rick was agreeing to buy a home in Canada.  We had talked about it often since the Arlington County incident a little over a year and a half ago.

"Yes, we can stay here every summer," Rick responded with a broad smile.   Glenn was acting like a kid at Christmas.   He loved how Glenn's eyes shone and how happy he was at Rick's decision to buy a home in St. Catharines. 

I said, "Thank you."   I gave Rick a great big kiss.

After we surfaced for air, Rick exclaimed with a grin, "I would have told you sooner if I knew you were going to kiss me like that!"

I kissed him, again.   "You are the most wonderful man in the whole word, Rick Lernier."

Rick said, "We can begin house hunting after breakfast."

"We don't have to go house hunting, Rick.   There is a house for sale just down the street from Uncle Carl and Aunt Hannah's house on Guy Road.   I think it will meet our needs, especially if it is to be our summer home," I said.

Rick smiled, "I saw that house for sale and I thought it would perfect for us.   It was seeing that house that made me think that maybe it's time to buy a home here.   We come here several times a year anyway so it makes sense for us to get our own place."

I kissed him, again.   "Rick, I love you."

Rick pulled me close and held me as tears of happiness rolled down my cheeks.   He waited patiently for me to recover from the strong emotions I was feeling.   "I am sorry, Rick.   I can be such a cry baby sometimes."

Rick smoothed my hair and gently rubbed my back.   "I knew that they were tears of happiness, Glenn.   I am glad that you are happy."   He tenderly kissed me and I melted into him.

Prev To be continued . . .

A Note from Russ:

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