The Lernier Family
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 25: Kyle's English Class

Jeff watched Rick and Kyle throwing the football back and forth.   He could see how the 15 year old boy idolized his father.   He wished that his own children could look at him with the same admiration and love that he saw on display in Kyle's face.  

His thoughts went back to the court battle he had with his ex-wife.   He had been given joint custody of his three girls.   His lawyer had advised him not to push the judge to terminate her parental rights since the judge had a history of ruling against every father who had entered his court.   The judge had been doubtful of the evidence presented to him of his ex-wife's neglect and abuse of their children.   He had sternly reprimanded the social workers who offered testimony against his ex-wife and had asked how much money I was paying them to testify on my behalf.   In the end, the judge had granted him joint custody of the children.   The judge had also lectured he and his ex-wife that if they showed up in his court again with a change to the custody agreement that he would terminate our parental rights and put the children in foster care where they could lead normal lives without the emotional abuse we were inflicting upon them.  

His ex-wife hadn't tried to change the custody agreement but had done her level best to turn his girls against him.   They spent every weekend with him but they came grudgingly and with an attitude that he found hard to deal with at times.   He had gone out of his way to make sure they had everything they ever wanted but it still wasn't enough.   In fact, the oldest daughter, Jolene, had accused him of trying to buy their love by giving them so much stuff.   He had been extremely hurt by her comment and had to leave the room before he could speak without choking up in front of them.   Jolene was a senior in high school and would be 18 years old soon.   Jolene had made it clear that once she turned 18 that she wanted nothing to do with her father.   He had responded that he still loved her and if she changed her mind, she would be welcome in his home.   Jolene had indicated that she wouldn't be changing her mind.  The two younger girls, Caroline – 15 and Marie – 14, had adopted their sister's attitudes as well.   He had tried everything to reach out to them and to establish a better relationship with them but to no avail.   With Jolene's announcement, he had just about given up any attempts to make things better.

He was brought back to the present when Kyle ran over to him and asked, "Jeff, do you want to join us?"

Jeff smiled, "Sure.   Thanks for asking."   He trotted out onto the field.   Rick had driven them over to Lee District Park.   Jeff glanced over to where Glenn was running soccer drills with the younger boys.   Todd and David were assisting him.   He loved seeing how these two families worked together not just in sports but in everything else they did.   He particularly was aware of the closeness of the two couples.   Each couple was like the nucleus of an atom with valence electrons that allowed them to tightly bond with the other couple and the children of both families.   The children were very fortunate to effectively have four parents to watch over them.   He knew what that was like because the four men had become like his adopted brothers.   They watched over him just as they watched over their own children.   He knew he could count on them to be there for him.

He turned to see Kyle running down the field towards Zach who was retrieving a soccer ball that had managed to end up in the parking lot.   He watched as Zach kicked the soccer ball over to Todd and Glenn and follow Kyle.

When the two approached, Jeff smiled and said, "Looks like you've been recruited by Kyle as well."

Zach laughed, "Yes, Kyle can be pretty persuasive when he wants to be.   Are you going to ask Ashley to join us?"

Kyle looked over to where his sister was seated on the grass with a book listening to her music.   He grinned, "I can try."   He ran over to the edge of the playing field and tapped her on the shoulder.

Ashley looked up and turned off her music, "What?"

"Come play football with us," Kyle said.

"Why?" she asked giving Kyle a look that said, "This had better be good!"

Kyle said, "I'll help you with your homework if you'll play with us."

Ashley thought for moment and then said, "You've got a deal.  You get to help me with math and science."

Kyle nodded his head, "Okay."   He reached down and took her hand to help her up.   She dropped her book on the ground and let Kyle lead her onto the playing field.   As he neared Jeff and Zach, Kyle grinned, "I even got Ashley to join us."

Jeff looked at Kyle in surprise, "How did you manage that?"

"I promised to help her with her homework if she would play ball with us," Kyle said.

Jeff laughed, "Way to go, Ashley!"  

He high fived Ashley who laughed and said, "Kyle offered to help me so I wasn't about to turn him down."

They spread out across the field as directed by Kyle.   Rick threw a pass to Kyle who ran down field to snatch it out of the air.   He threw it to Jeff.   Jeff caught the ball and in turn threw it to Ashley who threw it to Zach.   As he waited for the ball to come to him, Jeff's thoughts returned to his own children.   Why couldn't his children be as pleasant to him as the Lernier children were to him?  

Ashley shouted at him as she threw the ball to him, "Jeff, head's up!"

He looked up just as the ball hit him in the chest.   Reflexively, he brought his arms up and hugged the ball to his body.   He smiled at Ashley and shouted, "Thanks for the heads up!"

They played on the ball field until the sun started to dip below the horizon.   The warm autumn afternoon quickly turned cold now that the sun was gone.   They gathered up their things and headed back to their vehicles in the parking lot.   Jeff rode with Cameron and Skye in the back of Todd's Ford Explorer.   He turned to the twins and asked, "How did soccer practice go?"

Skye responded, "Great!   Uncle Glenn and Daddy always do a great job of getting us ready for our games."

Cameron said, "Our next game is on Saturday morning.   Will you come see us play?"

"Sure, Cammy," Jeff replied.   "Is it at Island Creek Elementary School like last week?"

"Yes, it is," Cameron said.   "Tomorrow, we are going to Kyle's football game.   I like watching Kyle play."

Jeff agreed, "I do, too, especially since they have won the last four games."

Zach said, "Kyle's team is doing very well.   I wish I could go tomorrow but I have a game of my own."

"We will record your game so we can watch it when we get home from the football game," Todd said.   Todd reached over and rubbed Zach's inner thigh until Zach covered his hand with his own.

Zach grinned, "I wonder what you have in mind, Babe."   He glanced over at Todd.   Seeing Todd's expression, Rick's pants got very tight in a hurry.   He knew they were going to have a good time tonight!

As the children marched past me into the house, I said, "Time for homework, baths and then it's bedtime."  I pointed at the twins and said, "JJ and Josh, upstairs and into the bathtub with both of you."

Zach and Todd walked in the door with Cameron and Skye.  Zach asked, "May Cammy and Skye stay over with you tonight?"

I looked at Zach and could see why he was asking us to watch the twins for them.   I laughed and replied, "Yes, we will watch the twins for you.   Go on home and enjoy yourselves!"

Zach grinned and took his husband by the hand.   Zach led Todd out the door and across the lawn to their own home.   Cammy asked, "May we take a bath with JJ and Josh?"

I looked at Cameron and said, "Yes, on one condition.   No splashing water everywhere.   Last time you boys had a bath together, there was water all over the floor and out into the hallway."

Skye said, "We promise not to splash water out of the tub, Uncle Glenn."

"Okay, go on upstairs with the twins," I said.

Rick came back into the foyer from the kitchen, "I'm starving.   What is there to eat?"

I looked at my husband and laughed, "You are just like your boys!   All of you are always hungry!"

Rick walked over and pulled me into his arms, "But you love us anyway."

I smiled up at him and leaned closer to kiss him passionately as I placed my arms around his neck.   "Yes, I love you very much."   I released him and took him by the hand, "Come with me and I will fix you a cheese quesadilla.   The rest of the boys will soon be asking for a snack so I might as well make enough of all of you."

Rick laughed, "You make it sound like such a chore."

I turned around and said, "I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm complaining because I'm not.   It just amazes me how much food we go through every week."

"You shouldn't be amazed at all since you have three older brothers," Rick said.

"That's true but I wasn't cooking for them all the time.   My Mom did that," I replied.   "Will you go up and help the boys with their bath while I make the quesadillas?   I don't want them making a big mess in the bathroom."

Rick responded with a smile, "Yes, I'll go up and help them out."   Rick wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me close.   Our kiss lasted for what seemed forever!   He let me go and said, "That is just a preview of what's to come later tonight!"

I laughed, "Okay, Babe.   Seeing Zach all boned up must have given you big ideas about tonight!"

Rick blew me a kiss as he left the kitchen and said, "Yes, it did!"

I pulled out the flour tortillas and the shredded cheddar cheese out of the refrigerator.   As I put the quesadillas together, I thought about the crazy, sexy man I married!   I had always heard that married couples settled into regular routines and soon grew bored of each other but stayed together because of their children.   It hadn't worked out that way for me and Rick.   Every day was a new adventure!   We both loved having sex and lots of it!   Somehow, we never got bored of making each other happy.   Of course, it helps that we are both crazy about each other and are always looking for new ways to show our love for each other.  

My mind took me back to last year when we moved into our new home in St. Catharines.   We had taken the children out of school for a few days during October so we could celebrate Thanksgiving with my family.   Mrs. Reed had sent us off for a night on our own while she watched the children.   Rick and I decided to return to one of our favorite places – The Charles Inn.   We checked in to our room – the very same one we had on our visit to the Charles Inn!    It had been a very magical evening for us.   The memory of it not only made me remember how much I loved my husband but made me extremely horny!

I was brought back to reality by the sound of four boys coming into the kitchen.   Cameron and Skye raced to the table and took their seats followed by JJ and Josh.   Cameron asked, "May we have some chocolate chip cookies and some milk?"

"Sure, but you need to eat something besides sugar before you go to bed," I said.

I handed each boy a plate with a quarter of a quesadilla on it.   JJ exclaimed, "My favorite thing to eat!"

It wasn't long before the quesadillas were gone!   I pulled out the cookies and some milk and served them to the boys.   Rick came into the kitchen and looked at the boys and asked, "Where's my quesadilla?   Did you boys eat them all?"

Josh grinned and said, "Yes, Dad, we ate them all but you can ask Daddy to make you another one."

I laughed, "Well said Josh.   Do you want chicken and hot sauce in your quesadilla?"

"Yes, please," Rick replied.   "The other children want a quesadilla, too."

I nodded my head, "I expected that as well.  I have already made theirs.   Will you tell them to come into the kitchen to eat them?"

Rick left the kitchen and returned with the three older children.   After we ate our snack, Rick said, "Since we are all here, let's say our prayers together then the little guys can go to bed while the rest of you finish your homework."

We said our family prayer and Rick and I took the boys upstairs to their beds.   We knelt with the boys in their room to say their prayers.   After we tucked them into bed, Rick pulled me into our bedroom and locked the door.   He said, "We can check on the other children after I have my way with you!"  I started to protest but Rick covered my mouth with his – effectively silencing me!

Later, I went downstairs to see how the homework was going.   I walked into the family room and found all three of them working on their homework.   Kyle looked up from his book and said, "Daddy, can I talk to you and Dad?"

"Yes.   Do you want to talk here or do you need to come upstairs to our room?" I asked.

Kyle stood up and said, "Can we go upstairs?"

I nodded my head and followed Kyle upstairs so our room.   I sat on our bed next to Rick while Kyle sat at the foot of the bed.   Kyle said, "Will you promise not to get mad?"

Rick asked, "What's this all about, Kyle?"

"First, will you promise not to get mad?" Kyle asked urgently.

"Okay, we won't get mad," I said.

Kyle said, "I told off my English teacher, Mrs. Worrell, today.   I told her that her entire course outline for this quarter was stupid and that we had already read all of the literature she was assigning us and that we didn't need to repeat what we had already done."

I looked at Rick and back to Kyle, "So what was her reaction?"

"She said that I didn't know what she was going to teach and that I would learn something new from her," Kyle replied.   "I proceeded to tell her everything she was going to do including the study of symbols in each of the assigned novels.   The rest of the class agreed with me.   She got really angry and sent me to the principal's office."

"Why didn't we get a call from the school?" Rick asked.

"We were out most of the day with the boys.   I haven't checked to see if there are any messages," I responded.   "Let me check."   I left our bedroom and went downstairs to the office.   Sure enough, the light was flashing on the answering machine.   I pushed the button and listened to the message from the school.   I returned to our bedroom and said, "There is a message from school asking us to meet with the school counselor, Mrs. Worrell and the chair of the English Department to discuss what happened today.   The appointment is for tomorrow morning at 9 AM."

Rick looked at Kyle and asked, "Why did you decide to tell off your teacher today?"

"I was tired of repeating the same material we covered in both eighth and ninth grades.   We read the same stories and answered the same questions.   I told her that I came to school to learn something and that she wasn't doing her job.   Repeating the curriculum from previous years was an easy way out for her.   She didn't want to put in the time to make new lesson plans and prepare new material so she used what she had on hand from last year.   My friends told me that Mrs. Worrell had moved up with them as their English teacher and that it was their third time in her class.   She never changed the course material.   In fact, most of them were turning in the same assignments they had from the prior two years," Kyle said.   His disgust was very evident in his expression and in his tone of voice.

"Did your classmates put you up to being their spokesman?" Rick asked.

"No, I did it on my own.   I was angry because she wasn't putting any effort into the class and I didn't want to waste my time going over the same materials.   I hated the novels the first time I read them and the analysis of the symbolism, etc., etc., and etc., was extremely stupid the first time," Kyle said vehemently.

"I think we got why you did it.   What do you think we should say tomorrow when we meet with your teacher and the rest of the school people?" I asked.

"I want you to tell them that I need to be put in a different class with a new teacher.   Mrs. Worrell is not a good teacher and I don't want to be in her class anymore," Kyle said.

"Are you willing to give up orchestra and drama in order to get out of her class?" Rick asked.

Kyle said, "I don't want to give up those classes.   I really like them."

"Do you remember the discussion we had with your counselor about your schedule?" I asked.

"Yes, I remember.   She said that I would have to take my physics class on-line if I wanted to fit in the two elective classes and that my schedule couldn't be changed unless I gave up one of them," Kyle said.

"Okay.   Given that fact, have you decided which of the two classes you are going to give up so you can be moved to a new English class?" I asked.   "You could dump both classes and then you could take physics during regular school hours instead of on-line."

Kyle looked at me and shook his head, "I don't want to lose drama or orchestra.   I am doing fine in the on-line physics course and I don't want to change my schedule.   There is another English class taught at the same time."

"Isn't that class already full?" Rick asked.

Kyle nodded, "Yes, it is.   My friend, Anson, is in that class."

"What are the chances that you will be able to get transferred into that class?" Rick asked.

Kyle didn't answer but his face showed his frustration.   Finally, he said, "I don't know."

"Kyle, we aren't trying to make you mad.   We just need to know where we stand so when we meet with the school tomorrow, we have a plan of action.   We don't want to walk in there without knowing what we want.   We will support you the best we can, Kyle, but we have to know what our options are," I said.

Rick asked, "Would you consider staying in the class if Mrs. Worrell gave you different novels to read and analyze?"

Kyle said, "Maybe.   Why?"

"It may come down to the fact that you can't get into another class without losing the two elective classes you have chosen.   If that is the case, you will be staying in the English class you have now.   I want to know what changes you think should be made so you will feel you aren't wasting your time," Rick said.

"You could ask Mrs. Worrell if you could be her teacher's assistant during that class period.   I did that for a couple of my teachers in high school," I suggested.

Kyle looked at me and asked, "What would a teacher's assistant do?"

"I don't know if they have such a thing at Edison but at my school I helped correct assignments and prepared materials for the teacher's other classes," I responded.

Rick said, "Kyle, I want to ask you a question and I need you to think about your answer before you give it to me.   Was there a better way to handle the situation with your English teacher?"

Kyle thought about it and responded, "Yes, Dad, there was a better way.   I could have talked to you and Daddy about the class and asked for your help with the school to get to a better solution."

Rick smiled, "That is what I wanted to hear from you.   I want this to be a positive learning experience for you.   I am glad you have started to self-advocate when you need something; however, let's improve your methods for any future issues that may arise.   There are other ways you could have handled the situation like going to the teacher after class or after school instead of confronting her in front of the entire class."

"I could have gone to the counselor and asked for her help with the teacher as well," Kyle said.

"Yes, that is true, too," Rick responded.   "Kyle, I want you to make a list of strategies for dealing with situations like this one.   There are no wrong answers here because different situations will call for different strategies.   What is important is that you have them and can choose the appropriate plan of action to fit the circumstances."

Kyle said, "I will make up that list tonight."

"Good," Rick responded.   "Have you finished your homework?"

"No, but I am almost done," Kyle said.   He stood up and came over to give us both a hug.   "Thanks for not getting angry with me for what I did today."

"You're welcome, son.   We are here to listen to you and to help you learn from your experiences," Rick said with a smile.

Kyle grinned, "You are the best Dads a guy could have!"

"You had better say that," I said with a laugh.

Kyle gave us both a kiss on the cheek before he left to return to his studies.   I looked over at Rick and said, "You handled that very well, Babe."

Rick smiled at me, "I had a good teacher."   He leaned over and kissed me.

The next morning, we entered the school and went to the main office.   We were soon escorted into a conference room where we were introduced to Mrs. Worrell, Ms. Duffy and Ms. Short.  We waited for Kyle to join us.   We had a nice discussion and Kyle decided to stay in the class but would study a different set of novels instead of the ones Mrs. Worrell had chosen.   She agreed to change her lesson plans and would work with the students to improve the class.

As we stood up to leave the conference room, Mrs. Worrell came over and said, "Thank you for coming today.   I'm sorry I got upset with you, Kyle."

Kyle said, "I'm sorry I called you out in front of the class.   I should have met with you after class."

Mrs. Worrell said, "I am glad we have been able to work out our differences.   I am glad to have you in my class, Kyle."

Mrs. Worrell left the room.   Kyle gave us each a hug and then left for class.   Ms. Duffy said, "Thank you for meeting with us today.   I am the faculty sponsor for the Gay-Straight Alliance here at the school.   Would you consider encouraging Kyle to join us?"

Rick said, "We can mention it to him but I want Kyle to make up his own mind about it."

"That is all I am asking you to do.   I have talked to Kyle a couple of times.   He told me he had two Dads and that he loves you very much.   I think that he could really help some of the other students understand that being gay or having gay parents is okay," Ms. Duffy said.

"Like I said, we will mention it but we want Kyle to make his own decision about whether to join the Gay-Straight Alliance or not," Rick said.

We followed Ms. Duffy out of the conference and left the office.   "Rick, I am not sure I want Kyle to join the Gay-Straight Alliance," I said.

"Why not?" Rick asked.

"Because I don't want Kyle to become a target for harassment," I replied.   "I know that at other schools students who have joined the Gay-Straight Alliance have been subjected to bullying and other forms of harassment."

Rick nodded his head, "I understand your concerns, Glenn.   That is why I want it to be Kyle's decision.   Only he knows what his fellow classmates are like and what they are likely to do if he joins the Gay-Straight Alliance group at the school."

Kyle went back to English and entered the classroom.   The substitute teacher was sitting at Mrs. Worrell desk.   The teacher looked up and acknowledged Kyle's return to class.   His name was Mr. Smith.   He had retired from teaching at the end of the last school year but he filled in occasionally as a substitute teacher.   Kyle knew Mr. Smith as Coach Smith since he was the assistant football coach for the Junior Varsity.   Kyle had just settled into his seat when the bell rang indicating that the period had ended and it was time for the next class.   Kyle stood back up and started for the door of the classroom.

Mr. Smith said, "Kyle, may I speak with you?"

Kyle smiled at Coach Smith, "Sure, Coach"   Kyle walked over to the desk and waited.  

Mr. Smith looked up at the handsome young man standing in front of him, "So tell me what happened during your meeting with Mrs. Worrell."

Kyle looked away from his coach and said, "I'm going to stay in this class."

"That's a good thing, Kyle.   I was afraid you were going to be suspended," Mr. Smith said.

Kyle's gaze returned to his coach, "I'm not happy about being in this class, Coach, but I will do my best."

"That's what I want to hear.   You are our best wide receiver and we can't afford to lose you over a temper tantrum," Mr. Smith said.

Kyle looked down at the floor, "I'm sorry, Coach."

"Kyle, you are a natural leader.   You need to remember that your peers will follow you and because of that you have an added responsibility to set a good example for them.   What you did yesterday was a topic of conversation during practice.   Did you forget that there are seven of your teammates in this same class?   You showed a high degree of disrespect for Mrs. Worrell and they all witnessed it.   I don't think that is the kind of behavior we want to encourage.   What if one of them does the same thing you did but ends up suspended from school or worse expelled?   You need to make sure they know that what you did wasn't acceptable behavior for any student and especially not for a member of our football squad," Mr. Smith said sternly.   "Look at me when I am speaking to you, Kyle."  Kyle looked up and met Mr. Smith's eyes, "Kyle, I have a great deal of respect for you.   You have a lot going for you, young man.   You are smart, good looking and have a great personality.   As an added bonus, you have a rock solid family who supports you.   I assume both of your Dads were here today?"

Kyle nodded, "Yes, they both came to talk with Mrs. Worrell and the counselor."

"I thought so.   Don't take them for granted, Kyle.   I have seen how much they love you and want you to succeed.   Don't' let them down.   Now run off to your next class before the bell rings," Mr. Smith said as students started filtering into the room for the next class.

Kyle left the room and hurried to his Spanish class.   He walked in just as the bell rang.   Mrs. Rivera looked over at him as he took his seat.   "Bienvenido, Kyle.   Estoy muy agrecida que llegaste a tiempo."   ("Welcome, Kyle.   I am glad you arrived on time.")

She continued to address the class in Spanish.  Mrs. Rivera was a diminutive woman standing at 5 ft. (152 cm.).   She had jet black hair, dark brown eyes and beautiful smile.   She loved to laugh and always had something fun to do during class.   She was a native of Columbia and had come to the United States as part of an exchange program.   She was teaching Spanish at the high school while the teacher she replaced taught English at her school in Columbia.  

Señora Rivera, as she liked to be called in class, was one of Kyle's favorite teachers.   She spoke only Spanish and insisted that the students do the same.  Kyle listened carefully to how she pronounced her words and tried to say them the same way.  

Last summer, his Dads had decided to start teaching them Spanish at home.  They were not only learning to read, write and speak it but also studied the culture, customs, etc., of the countries where Spanish was spoken.   Daddy cooked meals from those countries to introduce the family to different types of cuisine to be found around the world.

As a result, Kyle's understanding of Spanish had grown significantly over the summer months.   He wanted to speak as fluently in Spanish as his Dads did.   Uncle Zach and Uncle Todd were learning Spanish at the same time as he was which made Kyle feel it was okay to speak up and make mistakes because he listened to them making the same ones as himself.  

Señora Rivera stood at the front of the class and said, in Spanish, "Please note the homework assignment on the board.   You will need to do research on the internet to find Latino music.   Choose some music that you like and write up a brief biography of the artist and bring in a sample of their music to share with the class."   This was a great assignment for Kyle since he had already been listening to a lot of Spanish music at home.

Caroline and Marie Dunn were having lunch together in the school cafeteria when they saw a group of football players file.   Caroline said, "Look, Marie, there is that cute boy you like."  

Marie looked over and saw him in the lunch line.   "I found out his name from my friend Kim."

Caroline waited expectantly but when Marie didn't volunteer his name she asked, "What's his name?"

"He is Kyle Lernier.   Kim's boyfriend, DaVonte is on the J.V. football team with him.   DaVonte says Kyle is one of their best players," Marie said.

"Did you ask Kim to see of DaVonte would introduce you to him?" Caroline asked.

"No.   I didn't ask.   I'm not sure he will want to have anything to do with me since I'm a freshman.   He's a sophomore just like you, Caroline," Marie said.

Caroline thought for a minute, "Doesn't Dad work for a Lernier family?"

"Yeah but their kids wouldn't go to Edison," Marie said.

"Maybe they are related," Caroline said.   "What are we going to do this weekend?   I hate going with Dad every weekend.   It is so boring!   I would rather be with my friends!"

"Maybe we can see if we can find out where Kyle lives and get Dad to drive us by his house," Marie said hopefully.   "You know what?   I think we should ask Dad if we can invite some of our friends over.   They could help us find out more about Kyle."

The two girls continued to talk about Kyle and their plans to ferret out any information they could find about him.

Jeff was waiting for Rick and Glenn when they returned from the school.   He greeted them as they got out of their car, "Good morning!"

Rick said, "Good morning, Jeff.   What brings you here?"

"I need to talk to you about something," Jeff said.   He followed Rick and Glenn into their home and sat down at the kitchen table with them.

Rick asked, "What's on your mind?"

"I want to put a security detail on the children at their schools," Jeff said.   "Things are getting so out of hand with the anti-gay stuff that I'm concerned about the bullying and harassment they might be subjected to at school."

"That is the reason we are planning to home school the twins, Jeff, but the older children seem to be okay at their schools so far," Rick said.

"I'm with Jeff on this one, Rick.   Most of the teachers here are anti-gay and wouldn't necessarily stop someone from bullying our kids," I said.

"But our children aren't gay," Rick protested.

"We don't know that for sure but that is beside the point here since they have gay parents," I said.

"How would it work, Jeff?" Rick asked.

"I don't know, yet.   I was just thinking about their safety after hearing some of the anti-gay statements made by teachers on the news last night.   If you give me the go ahead, I will do some further investigation into what we can do to protect the children while they are at school," Jeff said.

Rick said, "Okay, look into it and get back to us."

Jeff nodded his head and stood up, "Thanks for hearing me out.   I know I may sound a little paranoid but after what I heard last night I think it would be prudent for us to be proactive about making sure the children are safe."

"Thank you for looking out of us, Jeff," I said.

"It's my job, remember?" Jeff said with a smile.

"Yes, it is but I appreciate what you do," I said.

Jeff left us and I turned to Rick and said, "I saw some of those comments posted on the internet this morning.   One of the teachers stated that he wouldn't stop students from beating up a gay student because they are sinners and deserve to suffer for their sin."

Rick said, "I saw that as well.   It was pretty shocking to hear that from an educator.   It does make me stop and think that maybe we should reconsider our decision to send the older children to public school."

"The public school teachers are simply following the example of our public officials who spew out anti-gay policies and statements without thinking of the impact it has on their constituents.   It emboldens government employees to discriminate against gays and their families instead of treating everyone with respect and dignity," I said.

Rick said, "I agree but what concerns me is the safety of our children."

"You know that Zach and Todd have been pressuring me to take them out of the public schools," I said.   "Todd thinks that between the four of us we can teach our children much better than the public school system."

Rick sighed, "Yes, I know, Glenn.   We have been over this ground many times and we have always come down on the side of allowing the children to choose between being home schooled and attending public school."

"I think it is still the right thing to do but that may change if things continue to deteriorate with regards to the treatment of gays in this country," I said.

Rick looked at me and said, "Glenn, let's not go there right now.   I know you want us to move our family to Canada and I haven't forgotten my commitment to living in St. Catharines during the summer."

I put my arms around his waist and said, "Since we bought the house in St. Catharines, I have been much happier just knowing that at least part of the year I can live in a country where I am treated like every other citizen and I don't have to live in fear.   I am trying to be patient, Rick, but the more virulent the verbal attacks become the more likely there will be violence against gays.   I worry about us, our family and our friends."

Rick placed his hands on either side of my head and kissed me.  He pulled back and gazed into my eyes, "We will be alright, Glenn."

Garth was driving north on I-95 at that moment.   He glanced over at his lover to see how he was doing.   Phil had received the call early this morning from his parents' caregiver that his dad had passed away during the night.   Since Phil had moved in with him, Garth had paid for a caregiver to live with his parents.   Phil's sister had refused to care for them or have anything to do with them.   This left Phil with the responsibility for arranging for their care.   He and Phil had driven to New York every other weekend for months now to check on Phil's parents and to give the caregiver, Mrs. Piper, a weekend off.   Mrs. Piper was a widow who had applied for the job when they had put it in the paper and on the internet.   Garth had helped Phil interview the applicants and to check out their references.   Mrs. Piper was a retired nurse and had children living in the area.

Phil pulled down the sun visor and looked into the mirror.   His eyes were still red from crying.   He remembered how he had thrown himself into Garth's arms after the phone call and had been nearly inconsolable for quite some time.  Phil's love for Garth had grown tenfold over the last few hours.   He already loved Garth but Garth's loving arms had comforted him and his soothing voice helped him get his emotions back under control.   Garth had called the office and let everyone know what was going on and that he and Phil would be making the trip north to make funeral arrangements.  

He looked turned to look at the love of his life.   He said, "Thank you for everything you have done for me, Garth."

Garth smiled, "You are most welcome.   It is the least I can do for my sweetheart."

Phil smiled, "Does this mean that we are more than just friends with benefits?"

Garth laughed, "Yes, I think we can say that now.   I am not promising to retire anytime soon so we can't start celebrating the fact that we are taking our relationship to a new level."

"I love you, Garth," Phil said.

Garth expression grew serious, "Yes, I know.   I have known that you love me for quite some time now."

Phil looked at Garth in surprise, "Am I that transparent?"

"Yes, you are Phil.   I think I knew you were falling in love with me the first time we had sex," Garth said.   "I was just afraid to enter into another relationship so I told you I only wanted sex and nothing else.   To be honest with you, Phil, I fell for you the moment I laid eyes on you."

Phil looked over at Garth and smiled, "I wondered why you started flirting with me so soon after we met!"

"Well, now you know," Garth said.   "It feels good to finally tell you the truth.   When I retire, I want us to get married, Phil."

Phil's joy filled his heart and he asked, "Does this mean we are engaged?"

Garth laughed, "I guess it does.   However, don't expect me to buy a diamond engagement ring!"

"I don't need a ring because I have you," Phil said.   His grief over the loss of his father having been washed away by the happiness he felt now that Garth had finally admitted that he loved him.

Later that evening, we had just settled in for the night.   The twins were in bed and the older children were watching a DVD in the family room.   Rick and I had gone up to our room for a few minutes of alone time when my cell phone rang.   I picked it up from my dresser and looked to see who was calling me.

I looked over at Rick and said, "It's Robbie."   I answered the call, "Hey, Robbie!"  Robbie could be heard crying into the phone.   "What happened, Robbie?"

"It's Justin," Robbie said in between sobs.

Prev To be continued . . .