The Lernier Family
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 48: Sisters Are Forever Friends

The next morning, Nancy awoke in Cory’s arms.  She felt her strength returning so her body didn’t feel completely drained, as it had the night before.  She knew the feeling was illusory, because it always happened the same way each time she had a crash-and-burn incident with her MS.  The doctors told her she would experience bouts of weakness; but, would recover after a period of time.  However, they also told her things would get worse each time, not quite returning to her former strength, until a time would come when she wouldn’t recover.  She had felt so weak and dizzy last night.  Cory had practically carried her back to their room.  Despite feeling stronger, she knew she wouldn’t be back to full strength for weeks. 

She worried about Cory and the girls, knowing her time was limited with them.  She could feel it in her bones.  Call it a premonition of things to come, or what have you, she intended to make the most of the time she had been given to be with her husband and girls. 

She had already told Cory she wanted him to remarry.  She didn’t want him to live the rest of his life alone, after she passed.  The girls would need a mother to watch over them.  She knew they would be well cared for after she died because her brother-in-law, Kelvin, and his husband, Marty, had assured her they would watch over the girls for Cory, while he went to work.  They both worked from home, and had helped with the girls since they were tiny babies.  The two couples shared many things in common, such as the same wedding anniversary.  The two couples had a double wedding in St. Catharines, in the same church where her mom and dad had been married. 

She thought back to that wonderful day.  Cory had looked so handsome in his tuxedo, as did his brother and his partner.  Her father had given her away that day, walking down the aisle with her, tears streaming down his cheeks; but, a big smile on his face.  The memory of putting her arm through his, as they walked down the aisle arm in arm brought tears to her eyes.  She missed her father, despite their occasional differences of opinion.  She loved him very much.  She brushed back her tears, not wanting to start the day with an emotional low.  It was going to be a difficult day, without adding more emotion to it.

Cory stirred, then opened his eyes.  He met her eyes, and smiled.  “Good morning, sweetheart.  Are you feeling any better this morning?”

She answered, “Yes, I’m feeling much better; but, I know it will be a while before I get my strength back.”

“Are you sure you’re up to helping your mother, today?” Cory asked.

“Yes, I’m up to going over to help her; but, before you say anything, I promise not to overdo it.  I know my limits, especially after last night,” she said, putting her hand to his cheek.  “Please, don’t worry about me.  I’ll be okay.”

Cory said, “I do worry about you, sweetheart.  I love you so much.”

She said, “I know; but, promise me you’ll find someone after I’m gone.”

Cory frowned.  “We’ve been through all of this many times, Nancy.”

“Yes, we have,” she paused.  Then giving Cory an evil grin, she said, “Kelvin said he would line you up with a couple of guys, if you don’t find a nice girl to help you raise our girls.”

Cory laughed.  “I’m not gay, so it won’t do any good to get Kelvin involved.”

Nancy said, “I know you only have eyes for me; but, I think if the right guy came into your life, you wouldn’t hesitate to marry him.  You told me yourself, you messed around with guys during high school.”

Cory said, “I did, but I’m not gay.  I like girls, not guys; unlike Kelvin, who has never given girls a thought.  He’s always been gay.  I spent most of my time protecting him from being bullied, and covering for him with our parents.  However, you might be right about Mr. Right coming into my life; but, that isn’t happening any time soon, because I’m very happily married to the most wonderful woman in the world.”

Nancy kissed him, tenderly.  “You are the light of my life, Cory.”

They cuddled for a little while longer, knowing it wouldn’t be long before their girls would join them!

Cole woke up in Jeff’s arms, with Jeff kissing the back of his neck.  He could feel Jeff’s cock pressing against his back door.  Cole thrust back against him, relaxing his muscles to allow Jeff to enter him.  Jeff whispered in his ear, “You’re so sexy.”

Cole turned his head, meeting Jeff’s lips.   Jeff pulled out, rolling Cole onto his back.  Cole lifted his legs, spreading them wide, as Jeff reclaimed his husband.

 Jeff looked deeply into Cole’s eyes.  “I’ve never been so happy in my life, Babe.  Thank you for agreeing to marry me.”

Cole’s body shuddered with waves of pleasure, as Jeff used every technique conceivable to let his partner know how much he loved him.  Every fiber of his body burned for Cole, and he wanted Cole to feel the same way about him.  He had never felt this way about his ex-wife.  Yes, sex with her had been good; but, it was nothing compared to how his body reacted to the man writhing in ecstasy beneath him.  Now, he knew true love made the joining of their bodies a unification of their souls as one, turning their lovemaking into something sacred and sublime.

Cole saw the love shining in Jeff’s eyes and pulled his head down to him, locking their lips together.  Jeff’s steel pole drove deeper into him, causing him to whimper into his lover’s mouth.  He wrapped his arms and legs around Jeff.  Their rough and wild lovemaking was everything he had ever dreamed of.  His happy ever after dreams had come true!

Afterward, they lay in a tangle of arms and legs, exhausted from their energetic coupling.  Jeff raised his head to look into Cole’s eyes.  “I love you more than life itself.”

Cole’s eyes shone with unshed tears, and his voice cracked with emotion, as he said, “You are my life, Jeff Scott Dunn.  You have made my dreams come true.”

Jeff kissed him deeply, stretching himself out on top of Cole; so they touched bare skin to bare skin from head to toe, claiming his lover’s body as his.  An hour later, Jeff’s alarm went off, signaling their honeymoon was about to begin!  He reached over to turn it off. 

“Babe, it’s time to get up.  We have a plane to catch,” Jeff said, brushing his lips against Cole’s forehead.

Cole’s eyes opened, and he smiled at his husband.  “I was having the most erotic dream.”

Jeff laughed, reaching down to massage Cole’s very hard male member.  “I couldn’t have guessed what you were dreaming about.”

Cole kissed him, then said, “Let’s take this to the shower, where you can provide me some relief.”

Jeff got up, pulling Cory to his feet and into his arms.  Their kiss was deeply passionate.  When they came up for air, Jeff led his husband to the en suite.  As Jeff carefully washed Cole’s beautiful body, he couldn’t help thinking how fortunate he was to find his soul mate. 

Cole noticed his expression and asked, “What are you thinking, Babe?”

Jeff smiled, and replied, “I was thinking how I found the perfect man to be my soul mate.”

Cole said, grinning, “I think that’s my line.”

They kissed under the warm spray of the shower.  Finishing their shower, they dressed each other, and gathered up their gear.  They made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.  They stood in line to check in their baggage.  Their excitement shone on their faces.  The airline employee checking in their luggage looked at them, and said, “Let me guess, you’re newlyweds.”  Jeff looked at her in surprise.  She quickly added, “It’s obvious you two have eyes only for each other.”

Jeff asked, “Are we that obvious?”

She smiled, and nodded her head.  “Congratulations!  I hope you enjoy your honeymoon.”

Cole said, “Thanks.”  He took Jeff’s hand in his, as they made their way to their gate.

Later that same morning, Mom looked over at Ashley, and lifted the framed cross-stitch down off of her bedroom wall.  “My twin sister made this for me, many years ago, and I have always treasured it.  I want you to have it, Ashley.”

Ashley smiled at her grandmother.  “Thank you, Grandma; but, shouldn’t it go to Aunt Nancy, or to one of my cousins.”

Mom said, “No, I have other things I want to give them.  I want you to have this to remember me and your great aunt.  We have been great friends all of our lives.  I have watched how close you are to your brothers.  It seems to me you are a forever friend to them.  That is what made me think of giving this to you, Ashley.  Each of the boys has a very special relationship with you.  They ask you for advice and they always seek out your company.  I can think of no other person who better exemplifies a forever friend than you, my dear.”

Ashley blushed at her praises.  “I just like being around my brothers, Grandma.  They are great guys.  I know I can always count on them to cheer me up when I’m down.”

Mom nodded her head.  “Like I said, you’re all great friends.  That is good.”

Ashley took the framed cross-stitch and put it in her backpack.  “I’ll hang it up in my room when we get home.”

Mom said, “Good.  Let me show you some of the art work I did, when I was your age.”  Mom pulled out an old sketch pad out of a box.  She opened it up and flipped through its pages, pointing to each sketch, or chalk drawing, to explain what the assignment had been that particular day in her art class.

Ashley said, “You’re a pretty good artist, Grandma.”

Mom smiled, and said, “Thank you, Ashley.  That’s very high praise coming from you.  You’re a much better artist than I ever was.”

Nancy joined them in Mom’s bedroom, seating herself next to her on the bed.  “I remember looking through your sketch book, when I was a little girl.”

Mom smiled at her daughter.  “Yes, I thought you might take an interest in art, if I showed you my feeble attempts at being an artist.”

Nancy laughed.  “I’m a terrible artist.  I do much better at math and science than art or music.”

Ashley said, “I like math and science, too; but, I also like art and music.  I’m not as talented as Kyle in the music area, though.”

Nancy said, “But, he’s not as talented in the art department as you are.”

Ashley grinned.  “That’s true.  Kyle is lucky to be able to draw stick figures.”

“Kyle is in good company, because I can’t draw, either,” Nancy said, looking up to see Cory standing in the doorway.

Cory confirmed her statement.  “I can attest to that fact.”

Nancy looked up at him, and smiled.  “Neither can you, sweetheart.”

He grinned, boyishly.  “I never said I could.”

Randi and Jessica pushed past their way past their father, entering the room.   Their girls crossed the room to their mother.  “Mommy, Jessica won’t share her toys with me.”

Nancy smiled, patiently, down at them.  “Which toys are we talking about?”

Randi pointed to the doll in Jessica’s hands.  “She won’t share her Barbie doll.”

Nancy asked, “What happened to your own Barbie doll?”

“I left it in the car,” Randi admitted, sheepishly.

“Then, why don’t you ask Daddy to help you get your doll out of the car?” Nancy asked.

Randi turned to look up at her father.  Before she could ask, Cory said, “Let’ go get your doll.”  He smiled and stretched out his hand to her.   She ran across the room and grabbed his hand.  The two left the room.

Jessica looked up at her mother, with a mutinous expression on her face.  “I didn’t want to share my doll.”

“I know, little one.  That’s why I suggested Randi find her own,” Nancy said, smoothing Jessica’s hair.

Jessica asked, “You’re not mad at me for not sharing?”

“No, sweetheart, I’m not mad at you; but, there are other times when you should share,” Nancy said.

Jessica smiled.  “I know, like when I have a candy bar and Randi doesn’t.  But, this time, Randi had her own doll.”

Nancy said, “That’s correct.  Maybe, you two should play together and share each other’s dolls.”

Jessica thought this over, and nodded her head slowly.  “I guess that would be okay.”

The doorbell rang, and Jessica said, “I’ll get it, Grandma.”  She raced from the room. 

A few minutes later, Gary appeared in the doorway.  “Good morning, Mom.”

She smiled at her oldest son, who looked so much like her husband, they could have been twins.  “Good morning, son.  I’m glad you came, today.”

Gary asked, “Where are Dad’s clothes you want me to take home?”

“They are in Dad’s closet.  Please take all of his suits.  I don’t think they’ll fit anyone else in the family,” she said, pointing to the walk-in closet.

Gary opened the door to the closet and flipped on the light.  He looked at his father’s suits.  He stuck his head out of the closet, and asked, “Are you sure you want me to take his suits?”

She nodded her head.  “Yes, I’m sure.”

He pulled them off the rack and looked closely at them.  “Mom, I wouldn’t be caught dead in any of these suits!”

Nancy laughed.  “I don’t know why you wouldn’t wear Dad’s suits?”

Gary walked out of the closet with one of the suits.  It was a light blue, checkered, polyester affair.  “This looks like it could be used as a costume for a 70’s show.  Maybe you should donate them to a local drama department.”

Ashley said, “It does look rather dated.”

Gary said, “You haven’t seen the worst of them yet.”  He turned and grabbed another suit and showed it to the women.  “This one is even worse.”  It also was polyester, but this one had broad navy blue stripes alternating with tan ones.

Nancy said, “I could see Dad wearing that one with platform shoes and long hair.”

Mom grinned.  “The shoes are in the bottom of the closet.  He was wearing that suit when I first saw him.  I thought he looked like a weirdo in that outfit.  I told him he couldn’t ever wear it again.”

Gary said, “I can see why.  I think we should get rid of all his suits.”

Mom said, “I’m okay with that.  Take a look at the rest of his clothes.  You’re welcome to take anything you like, so long as what you don’t want is bagged up before you leave.  I want to donate the clothes to the Community Care clothing program.  I’m sure there is someone who can use the clothes.”

Gary said, “I’ll bag up all of his clothes, because I have plenty of my own.  Jessica tells me I have too many clothes, now.”

Mom said, “Dad’s clothes won’t fit the other boys; so, go ahead and bag them up.  The bags are in the bottom drawer next to the kitchen sink.”

Gary left the room, returning a few minutes later with the bags.  Rick and I followed him upstairs.  “Can we help?” I asked.

Gary said, “Sure.  Here’s a bag.  Mom wants all of Dad’s clothes bagged up and donated to the Community Care clothing program.”

Rick and I entered the walk-in closet with Gary.  We had all of Dad’s clothes bagged up in short order.  We each grabbed a bag and hauled it outside to Gary’s car.  As we passed our teenagers, Rick said, “Hey, guys!  Please go upstairs to your grandma’s room and grab a bag of clothes.  Bring them down to Uncle Gary’s car.”

Jack, Kyle, Purev and David jumped up from the couch, where they were watching a movie, and made their way upstairs.

Mom looked up as the three boys came into her room.  She smiled, and said, “Your Dads must have sent you for the rest of the clothes.   They are in the closet.”

Kyle said, “We’re taking them out to Uncle Gary’s car.”

Mom nodded her head.  “Thank you for helping out.  Getting those clothes out of here will help me a lot.”

The boys each grabbed a bag and hauled it outside.  Rick said, “Thank you, boys, for helping.”

Purev said, “Sure.” 

Kyle asked, “Is there anything else we need to bring down?”

Gary said, “I think that’s all of them.  I’ll run these over to the community centre.”

Jack asked, “Dad, may I drive?”

Gary said, “Sure, son.”

Jack grinned, taking the keys from his father’s hand.

Rick looked at the tall, gangly youth, with his short brown hair and blue eyes.  “Do you mean to tell me you trust him with your car?”

Gary laughed.  “Yes, I do.  Jack is actually a pretty good driver.”

Rick said, “Kyle has his learner’s permit.  He does pretty well.”

Kyle said, “Dad is the only one who will drive with me.   Daddy says I make him nervous.”

Jack laughed.  “Uncle Glenn sounds like my Mom.  She always tries to be a backseat driver whenever she’s in the car.  I got my novice 1 license last month.  I’ll get my novice 2 license in about 5 months.”

Gary said, “Miriam will get her regular license at the end of the school year.  She’s a cautious driver, which makes Jessica very happy.”

Kyle asked, “How long does it take to get a regular driver’s license?”

“It takes 9 months on a learner’s permit, then 6 months on a novice 1 license, followed by 12 months on a novice 2 license,” Gary said.

Kyle said, “I’ve got my learner’s permit and can’t get my actual driver’s license until I have 45 hours of driving time with another licensed driver.”

Jack asked, “How close are you to getting your hours in?”

“I’ve got 40 hours of driving time; but, I need 10 more hours of night driving to satisfy the night driving requirement of 15 hours,” Kyle said.

Rick said, “We’ll have let you drive part of the way home, since we’ll driving at night.”

Kyle said, “Thanks, Dad.”  He looked over at me, for approval.

I shrugged.  “If it’s okay with your Dad, it’s fine by me.”

Jack climbed into the driver’s seat, while Gary walked around to the passenger’s side.  “Are you guys coming?”

Kyle said, “Sure.”  The three boys climbed into the backseat of Gary’s car. 

As they pulled out of the driveway, I turned to Rick.  “Are you sure Kyle’s ready to drive in the dark?”

Rick put his arm around my waist, pulling me close to him.  He said, “Yes, I’m sure.  Don’t worry about him, babe.  Kyle’s a good driver.”  He kissed me, before taking my hand in his and leading me back inside the house.

We entered the house and walked into the kitchen.  Jessica and Miriam were seated at the table, having a cup of coffee.  The two women looked so much alike, they could have been twins.  Jessica looked up, and smiled.  “There’s coffee in the pot on the stove.”

Rick said, “Thanks.  I’ll put some water on to boil for your hot chocolate, Glenn.”

I put my hand on his arm.  “No, babe, I’ll warm some water in the microwave.  It’s faster that way.”

I walked over to the kitchen sink, opened the cupboard just to the right, and retrieved a couple of coffee mugs.  I handed one to Rick and filled the other with water from the tap.  I placed it inside the microwave and turned it on.  Rick filled his cup from the pot on the stove, and sat down across the table from Jessica and Miriam.

Rick said, “You both look more beautiful every time I see you.”

Miriam blushed at his comments.  “Thanks, Uncle Rick.”

Jessica laughed, her eyes sparkling with merriment, and said, “Flattery will get you everything.”

Rick grinned.  “That’s true; but in this case, I wasn’t just trying to flatter your vanity.”

Jessica looked at her daughter, then said, “You’re Uncle Rick is the most dangerous type of guy.   They know just how to turn a woman’s head to get what they want.”

 Rick’s grin broadened, and said, “I have the same effect on the guys, too.”

Miriam looked at me, and asked, “Is that how Uncle Rick got to you?”

I smiled at Rick, then turned back to Miriam.  “Yes, I couldn’t resist his charming personality and good looks.”

Jessica winked at Rick, and said, “You have to be careful around men like your Uncle Rick, because they’ll sweep you off your feet, and before you know it, you’re like putty in their hands.”

Miriam giggled.  “Isn’t that what Dad did to you?”

Jessica laughed, and said, “Yes, that’s exactly what your Dad did to me.  That’s why I’m warning you to be careful.”

Rick asked, “Are you dating anyone special, Miriam?”

She glanced at her mother, before answering.  “Yes, and no.  I think he’s special; but, Mom and Dad don’t approve of him.”

The microwave chimed, and I retrieved my hot water, placing the cup on the counter.  I took an envelope of hot chocolate from Mom’s cupboard, and emptied the contents into the hot water.   I stirred it with a teaspoon, before sitting down next to Rick.

I said, “I think your parents are just trying to protect you, Miriam.”

Miriam gave me a rebellious look.  “But, I have no intentions of marrying Scott.   We’re just dating.”

Jessica said, “We know that, Miriam.  We just want you to be careful.”

Rick said, “I have to agree with mother on this one, Miriam.  Please be very careful who you decide to date; because you may end of marrying them.”

“You sound just like my Dad,” Miriam said, giving a sigh of resignation.  “Are all parents just alike?”

“That’s because all parents want to protect their children,” I said.

Exasperated, Miriam said, “But, I know what I’m doing.”

“I’m sure you do, Miriam; but, don’t discount what your parents are saying,” I said.

Cory joined us in the kitchen.  He looked at Miriam, and said, “Grandma has something she wants to give you, Miriam.”  Miriam breathed a sigh of relief, as she escaped from the kitchen, glad to bring the conversation to an end.  Cory looked at Jessica.  “What was that all about?”

Jessica said, “We were just telling her to be careful who she dates.”

Cory laughed.  “No wonder she was happy to escape.”

Jessica smiled.  “Yes, she was rather put out when her uncles sided with us regarding her current boyfriend.”

“Well, we didn’t exactly agree with your assessment of her boyfriend; but, we did caution her to be careful and to listen to your advice,” I said, clarifying Jessica’s statement.

Rick said, “We have some of the same concerns about who our children are dating, as well.  So far, we haven’t had to worry too much.”

I said, “Well, that’s not quite true.  Kyle was dating a girl who belonged to one of the most homophobic churches around.  Thankfully, she broke things off with him.” 

Rick said, “But, she still managed to introduce him to the missionaries from her church.  Kyle can be so trusting sometimes and doesn’t recognize when someone is recruiting him to join their cause.”

Cory asked, “Which church was it?  There are several anti-gay churches I can think of.”  I named the denomination, and he said, “Yes, we’ve recently seen their missionaries in our neighborhood.”

Jessica said, “We’ve seen them in our neighborhood, too, and I told them we weren’t interested in their church.”

Cory said, “Our neighbors belong to that church.  They seem pretty nice.  Of course, they haven’t tried to convert me to their religion.”

Rick said, “We’ve seen people from several different churches, knocking on doors in our neighborhood the last few months.  Some of them have left their literature for us to read.”

Cory asked, “Which church do you attend?”

“We attend the United Church of Christ.  Our pastor is gay and married to a really nice guy,” I said.  “We’ve really felt welcomed there.  I direct the choir and we perform Handel’s Messiah every Christmas.”

Cory smiled, and said, “Somehow, I’m not surprised they put in you in charge of the music.”

I nodded my head.  “Just the choir.  I don’t choose the music for the regular church services.  Pastor Wilson likes the music to match his sermon; so, he makes the music selections for most Sundays.”

Rick said, “As a family, we’ve decided to attend church services every Sunday.”

“We also study a chapter or two from the Bible every night, as a family,” I added.  “Mrs. Reed made us promise to ensure we continued to take the children to church and to study the Bible, after we adopted them.”

Cory said, “You’re doing a great job raising them.  I’m really impressed with each of them.”

Rick said, “I give all the credit to them.  All we’ve done is give them a lot of love.”

Cory asked, “When do you plan to return to Virginia?”

“We’ll be leaving early tomorrow morning,” Rick said.

Jessica said, “We’re leaving tomorrow, as well.”

I asked, “Do you know the date for Miriam’s graduation?”

Jessica said, “She graduates on June 28th.”

“The children get out of school on the 21st, so we’ll have a week to make the drive to Swift Current,” I said.

Jessica smiled.  “We would love to have you stay with us.”

“Plus, Mom will have moved back by then,” I said.

We chatted about Mom’s impending move, while we waited for Gary and Jack to return.

Mark sat at the kitchen table with his mother.  She was ranting and raving about the evils of homosexuality and the bad influence his friends were on him.  He really didn’t want to make her upset; but, he couldn’t continue living with her and her anti-gay attitudes.  She had even threatened to send him to a special therapist to cure him of being gay.  His mind went to his conversation with his Dad earlier in the day, as he blocked out his mother’s tirade against gays.

Mark had called his Dad because his mother had been harassing him about being gay again.  “Dad, I can’t take it, anymore.  Mom won’t stop calling me names and harassing me.”

Clay said, “Are you ready to tell her you want to live with me?”

“Yes, I am.  I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’m certain I won’t be happy living with Mom in Texas,” Mark said.

“So, you’re okay with me sharing the recordings you made of your mother’s harassment?” Clay said.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” Mark said.

“I want you to be absolutely sure, Mark, because once I share them with my lawyer and start the paperwork to get full custody of you and your sister, I won’t stop.  I want us to a family again; but, if we can’t, I won’t let your mother bully you or Michaela.”

Mark said, “I’ve talked to Michaela and she’s okay with it, as well.  She doesn’t like the way Mom is treating me.  I want to tell her I’m moving in with you, Dad.”

Clay said, “That’s not a very good idea, Mark.  You should wait until my lawyer has filed the paperwork.”

Mark asked, “Can he do it, today?”

Clay said, “I’m sure he could.  Let me call him, first, and I’ll call you back.”

His Dad had ended the call.  Mark waited, impatiently, for his Dad to call him back.  Michaela came into his room.  “Hey, what’s going on?  I heard you talking to Dad a minute ago.”

He looked up at her, and said, “I’ve told Dad I want to live with him, instead of living with Mom.”

Michaela gave him a sad look.  “I’m sorry Mom is treating you so poorly.  I don’t know what’s gotten into her.  She never used to be like this.”

“Well, I’m not going to stick around to let her abuse me, anymore.  I think she’s taking out her anger at Dad on me.  I’m tired of being the dog she kicks because she can’t get to Dad.”

His cell phone rang.  He answered it, “Hey!”

Clay said, “It will be done within the hour.  Her lawyer has offices just down the street from mine, and he promised to hand carry it to your mother’s lawyer.”

“Good!  I plan to tell her this afternoon,” Mark said.

“I don’t think it will go over very well, Mark,” Clay said.  “I think you should be prepared to leave there immediately after telling her, because she could get violent.”

Mark said, “Will you be around this afternoon?”

“Yes, I’ll be here, if you need me to pick you up,” Clay said.  “Be careful, son.  She is still your mother.  Don’t be disrespectful when you talk to her.”

Mark said, “I’ll try, but I can’t promise you anything.  She’s been treating me like dirt, so I find it very hard to treat her any differently than she does me.”

Clay said, “Try not to lower yourself to her level, Mark.  You’re a better person than that.”

Mark said, “Okay, Dad.”

“I love you, son,” Clay said, ending the call.

His mother said, “Mark, are you listening to me?”

He had tuned her out, since she had launched into her usual tirade against gays.  He met his mother’s gaze across the table from him, and said, “I want to live with my dad.”

Janelle’s eyebrows shot up.  “What brought this on?”

“You’re insistence on moving us to Texas,” Mark replied.

“Why don’t you want to move to Texas?” she asked.

“Because you think I won’t be gay, if we move from here.  You blame my friend, David, and his dads for putting ideas in my head.   You are so homophobic you refuse to accept the fact I’m gay.  You think you can convince me I’m straight, by taking me to Texas, where you can control who I have as friends, while you shove your views down my throat,” Mark responded.

Her expression hardened.  “I’m not letting you stay with your dad.”

“You don’t have a choice,” Mark said.  “I’ve already spoken to Dad about it and his lawyer is filing papers to get full custody of both of us, because of your religious bigotry.   You’ve created a hostile environment for me and Michaela.  I’ve recorded your tirades against gays and your threats to send me to religious camps and conversion therapists to correct my homosexuality.  I gave them to Dad, so he knew just how much you hate me, because I’m gay.”

“I don’t hate you, Mark.  I think you’re confused and don’t know what being gay really means.   I’m sure you’ll be fine living in Texas,” Janelle said.

Mark said, “I’m not going with you to Texas.”  He pulled his cell phone from his pocket and called his father.  “Dad, you were right about Mom.  Please come pick me up.”

Janelle’s face turned bright red with anger.  “How dare you call your father?”

“I have every right to call my father.  Your divorce isn’t final, and won’t be for another year.  He has just as much right know what is going on in my life, as you do,” Mark said, staring down his mother.  He stood up and said, “I’m going to pack my stuff.”  He left the kitchen and climbed the stairs to his room.

Hearing him on the stairs, Michaela left her room and walked into Mark’s room.  “I heard you call Dad.”

“Yes, I called him, because Mom believes I’m confused and is trying to convince me I’m not gay,” Mark said.

Michaela said, “I’m going with you.  I don’t want to be here, either.”  She left his room and returned a few minutes later with a duffel bag.  “I’m ready to go.”

Mark looked at his sister in surprise.  “How did you manage to pack so fast?”

“I figured you wouldn’t be able to work things out with mom, so I packed my things while you talked to her,” Michaela said, smiling at him.

He quickly finished packing his own duffel bag.  He hefted his, to test its weight.  “Mine is pretty heavy.  How about yours?”

He walked over to pick up Michaela’s duffel.  He looked at her, and grinned.  “It’s a lot lighter than mine.”

“That’s because I don’t plan on being away for very long,” Michaela said.

He looked at her in confusion.   “Why do you think that?”

“I think Mom and Dad will get back together,” Michaela.  “That is why I want to go with you.  I want to force them to think about what they are doing.”

Mark said, “I wondered what you were up to, when you decided you were going with me to live with Dad.”

Michaela said, “Let’s hope my plan works.”

The doorbell rang, heralding their Dad’s arrival.  The two of them picked up their duffel bags, and made their way downstairs.  Mark saw his father standing in the doorway. 

Janelle said, “If you don’t leave, I’m calling the cops.”

Clay said, “I’m leaving, Janelle, and I’m taking my children with me.  Your lawyer already has a copy of the new custody arrangement I’ve submitted to the judge.”

Mark and Michaela entered the foyer.  Mark said, “We’re ready to go, Dad.”

Janelle turned to see both of her children with their duffel bags.  “Where are you going, Michaela?”

“I’m going with Dad.  I don’t want to live in the same house with you.  You have been so hateful to Mark since we came home from the Campbell’s.   I used to think you were the best mother a girl could have; but, you’ve destroyed the trust I had in you.  You’ve told us you love us; but the way you’ve been treating Mark tells me you’ve lied to us.  You only love us when we do what you want, Mom.  If we dare do something you disapprove of, then all bets are off.  That’s not how a real family works, Mom,” Michaela told her mother.  She turned to her Dad.  “At least Dad has come to his senses, and knows what unconditional love means.  He’s accepted Mark for who he is, where you have not.”

She walked past her Dad and out the front door.  Janelle stared at her daughter’s retreating back.  She was completely stunned by Michaela’s little speech.  She never dreamed her daughter would leave her.

Clay said, “Let’s go, Mark, before your mother calls the cops on me.”  Mark went out the door, as instructed.  Clay turned to Janelle, and said, “I wish we could get back together, Janelle.  I don’t want this divorce; but, I understand I don’t deserve to have you after what I’ve done.  I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me, someday.  I love you, Janelle.”

Janelle heard his words, not wanting to let go of her anger; but, she knew she still loved him, despite everything that had happened between them.  She met his gaze, and replied, “I love you, too; but, I’m not ready to get back together.  I still have nightmares about what happened.  I wake up in the middle of night, begging you not to hurt me.”  She stopped, her eyes blinded by her tears.  She continued, “Do know what it’s like to be hurt by the one you love, the one who vowed to love and cherish you when we were married?”

Clay held her gaze, as he replied, “No, I don’t, Janelle; but, I do know about the deep sorrow I feel, knowing I destroyed the thing I treasured most in this life.  I grieve every minute for the love we shared, the closeness of being madly in love with you.  I’ve spent many long hours thinking about what I did and why I did it.  Living alone these past few months has been pure hell for me, Janelle.  I’ve even thought of ending it all, because I have nothing left to live for without you.  Even the children wouldn’t talk to me, until recently.  They would come to my apartment, but it was like I wasn’t there.  They made it clear they were – are- still angry with me.  Mark started talking to me when you decided to move to Texas.”  He stopped, hoping he wouldn’t ruin any chance he had of reuniting their family by what he was about to say.  “I’ve asked the court for full custody of the children, because your anti-gay views have created a hostile environment for our children.  I admit I was as homophobic as anyone could get; but, I’ve learned, through hard experience, that gays are wonderful people.  Thank you for asking Rick and Glenn to help me find a new job.”

He turned to leave, but she touched his arm, stopping him.  She said, “I won’t fight for custody of the children, Clay.  I’ve got a lot of issues I need to fix, before I can be a proper mother to them.  I’ll talk to my lawyer, tomorrow.”

Clay resisted the urge to pull her into arms, to comfort her.  He felt a surge of remorse, knowing he was the cause of her pain and suffering.  He knew she was seeing a therapist to work through the trauma of his violent attack on her.  Instead, he nodded his head in acknowledgement of her agreement to give him full custody.  He turned, and walked out the door, closing it behind him.

He walked the short distance to his car, and climbed into the driver’s seat.  He looked over at Mark, then over his shoulder at Michaela.  “Your mother has agreed to give me full custody; so, we’ll be moving your things into my apartment.”

Mark smiled, and sighed with relief.  “I’m glad she isn’t going to make it hard for us.”

Michaela’s lower lip trembled, and tears started running down her cheeks.  “I thought she loved us.”

Clay got out of the car, and opened the back door, sliding in beside his daughter.  He pulled her into his arms, smoothing her hair, trying to comfort her.  “She still loves both of you.  She has to work through some things, right now.  She needs some time to recuperate and heal.  I haven’t given up hope, Michaela.  I still love your mother and she loves me.  I’m asking you to be patient with us, as we figure out where to go next.”

Michaela pulled back from his embrace, and nodded her head.  “I’ll be alright, Dad.  I know Mom needs a lot of emotional support and she’s working with a counselor.”

“I think we can work together to help her heal, by giving her some space to work on herself without worrying about you two,” Clay said.

Michaela smiled, and said, “At least, she and Mark won’t be arguing all the time.”

Mark said, “Thankfully!”

“Okay, let’s go home,” Clay said, climbing out of the backseat, to return to the driver’s seat.  He put the key in the ignition and started the car.  He drove the short distance to his apartment and parked in his assigned space.  He and the children climbed the steps to his second-floor apartment.  They quickly stowed their gear, and returned to the front room.

Clay looked at his children, and said, “Welcome home.  I hope you’re okay with living in an apartment, instead of townhouse.”

Michaela’s eyes were red from crying.  “I’m sad we had to leave Mom.  I want you and Mom to get back together.”

Clay said, “I want that, as well, Michaela.  I still love your mother very much.  I’m the one who created this mess, when I attacked her; and I’m the one who will have to work the hardest to fix it.”

Michaela looked at her father.  “What can we do to help Mom want to come back to us?”

“I wish I knew, Michaela.  I think we’ll have to think about it and do some brainstorming to figure out what we can do,” Clay said.  “Plus, I think a lot of prayer will help, too.”

Michaela said, “I’ve been asking God to help you and Mom.”

“Thank you, Michaela,” Clay said.  “I have faith that things will work themselves out.”

Mark said, “I hope so.  I’m tired of being the target of her anger.”

Mark’s phone rang, and he fished it out of his pocket.  “Hey, David!”  He stood up and walked down the hall to his bedroom.  “When are you going to be back home?”

“We’re leaving in the morning, so we’ll be home late tomorrow night,” David said.

“Finally!” Mark exclaimed.  “I’ve missed you.  I’m so horny, just thinking about you.”

David laughed, and said, “I’m horny, too; but, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow.”

Mark said, “I’m living with my Dad, now.”

“When did that happen?” David asked in surprise.

“Today.  I told Mom I wasn’t going to live with her, or move to Texas,” Mark said.

“I bet she was angry,” David said.

“She was; but, there wasn’t anything she could do about it, because I had already talked to Dad and made arrangements for him to pick me up,” Mark said.

“I can’t believe the change in your Dad, Mark.  He went from being the most homophobic person I know, to one who accepts us for who we are,” David said.  “Maybe, your mother will have a change of heart, as well.”

Mark said, “Maybe, but I’m not waiting to find out.”  He paused, then changed the subject.  “Gabriel wants Purev to call him.”

“Purev’s on the phone with him, now,” David said.  “Purev really misses Gabriel.”

“I know,” Mark said.  “He has called me every night to tell me.”

David said, “Well, we’ll both be home tomorrow night.  I’ll call you when we leave.”

Mark said, “If it’s really early in the morning, send me a text message.  I don’t like getting up early.”

David laughed, and said, “I know.  Okay, I’ll send you a text when we leave for home.”

Mark said, “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” David said.  “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“Bye,” Mark said, ending the call.  He walked back into the front room, rejoining his Dad and Michaela. 

Michaela looked up at him.  “Was that David?”

“Yes, he’ll be home tomorrow night,” Mark said.  He looked at his Dad.

But, before he could say anything, his Dad said, “I know, you want to go over to David’s house.”  He smiled at his son.

“Yes, or, even better, may he come over here?” Mark asked.

Clay nodded his head.  “Yes, he may come here, as often as he likes.”

Mark walked over and hugged his Dad.  “Thank you, Dad.  I love you.”

Clay said, “I know you do.  I just wish your mother would remember she loves me, despite what has happened.”

Michaela said, “I know she will, Dad.”

Mark sat down beside his sister, and put his arm around her shoulders.  “Thank you for coming with me.  I know you really didn’t want to leave Mom by herself.”

Michaela said, “No, I didn’t want to leave Mom; but, she has to learn she can’t expect me to stand by, while she yells and screams nasty things at you, Mark.  You’re my brother and she has no right to be so abusive.  No one deserves to be treated that way.”

Mark said, “You’re a great sister.  I love you.”  He kissed her on the cheek.

Michaela smiled, and said, “I’m glad you finally realized just how great I am.”

Mark grinned.  “Yes, sisters are wonderful; but, brothers are even better!”

Michaela stuck her tongue out at him.  “Don’t be obnoxious, Mark.”

Mark said, “That’s just comes with being a boy.”

Michaela laughed.  “Alright, you can be obnoxious; but, only when I tell you to be.”

“Deal,” Mark said, as they shook hands to seal the agreement.

Clay laughed.  “You guys are really something else!”

Michaela said, “Are you sure you want us to live with you, Dad?”

Clay didn’t even hesitate, before answering her.  “Yes, I am absolutely certain I want my children to live with me.  I just wish your Mom would come back, as well.”

They chatted for a while, before Clay asked, “Are you ready for some ice cream?

Mark said, “Yes.”

Michaela nodded her head.  “Me, too.”

“Well, let’s go to Dairy Queen for a chocolate dipped cone,” Clay said.

They left the apartment and drove over to the local DQ.  Clay sat at the table with his children, happy to have them with him; but, his heart felt heavy because his wife was missing from their little happy band.

Caroline sat on the bed across from her sister, Marie, texting their older sister, Jolene.  Jolene’s message flashed up on her screen, “I can’t believe Dad married a guy!!   Sick! Sick!”

Caroline sent back, “He’s happy with Cole.  Much happier than he ever was with Mom.  We like him.  You should give Cole a chance!”

Jolene responded, “Never!”

“Why are you so hateful?” Caroline texted back.

The phone rang in her hand.  “Hey!” she said.

Jolene said, “Why do you think I’m hateful?”

“Because all you do is spout hate whenever we talk about Dad,” Caroline said.

“That’s because he treated Mom so badly,” Jolene said.

“You’ve got that wrong, Jolene,” Caroline said.  “Mom never really loved Dad.  All she wanted was his money, and when she found out he had none, she was already pregnant with you.  Her parents made her marry him, even though she wanted to get an abortion.”

Jolene shouted into the phone, “That’s not true!”

Caroline quietly responded, “You know it’s true.  You’ve heard mother shout it at him many times and she still screams about it.”

Jolene was silent on the other end of the line.  “I guess you’re right.  It’s just he left us with Mom, when we needed him most.”

“No, you chose to stay with Mom while we decided to stay with Dad,” Caroline said.

Marie said, “Put her on the speaker, so I can hear, too.”

“Marie wants to talk to you,” Caroline said, putting the phone on speaker mode.

“Hey, Jolene!” Marie said.

“How’s my baby sister?” Jolene asked.

“I’m good.  Caroline’s right, you know.  Dad is very happy with Cole.  I think you’d like him.  He treats us like were royalty and spoils us rotten,” Marie said.

Jolene asked, “Do you really think so?”

“I do, Jolene.  I think Dad and Cole are so cute together,” Marie said.  “They are so in love with each other, it makes me happy to see them together.”

“Maybe I’ll have to invite myself over for dinner, sometime,” Jolene said.  “I think I need to check Cole out for myself.  I’m not sure I trust your judgment.”

Caroline laughed, and said, “That’s true, Marie can be so gullible sometimes; but, this time she’s right about Dad and Cole.  They are very good for each other.”

Jolene said, “I miss our nightly talks when you were still at Mom’s.  We had some of the best discussions.”

“I miss them, too,” Caroline said.  “Maybe we could have a sleep over when we get home tomorrow night.  We’re staying at our friends’ house, while Dad and Cole are on their honeymoon.”

Jolene asked, “Who are you staying with?”

“With the Lerniers,” Caroline said.  “You remember Kyle, don’t you?”

Jolene laughed.  “Yes, I remember you had a huge crush on him.”

Marie guffawed.   “She still does!”

Caroline protested, “No, I do not!”

Jolene said, “It’s okay, Caroline.  We can talk about it tomorrow.  You had better ask the Lerniers if it’s okay for me to stay overnight with you.”

“I’m sure they’ll be okay with it.  They’re the coolest dads,” Caroline said.

Jolene asked, in surprise, “Do you mean they’re gay, too?”

“Yes, they are.  Dad works for them,” Caroline said.

“So, Kyle’s dads are gay,” Jolene said.

“Yes.  I think you’ll really like them, too.  Kyle’s dads have even taken me out driving, when Dad is busy.  I’ve almost got all of my hours behind the wheel,” Caroline said, proudly.

Jolene laughed.  “Oh, no!  I guess I’d better stay off the streets when you’re out driving.”

Marie said, coming to her sister’s defense, “Caroline is a very cautious driver.  It’s Kyle who scares me.  He likes to drive fast.”

“How do you know he drive’s fast?” Jolene asked.

“His dad says so,” Marie said.

Jolene said, “I’ll take you driving, Caroline.”

“Thanks, Jolene.  We’ll see you tomorrow night,” Caroline said.  “We’ll call you when we get into town, and I’ll text you the address.”

“Great!” Jolene responded.

Caroline ended the call and turned to her sister.  “I hope we can convince Jolene to be nice to Dad and Cole.”

Marie said, “I’m sure we can.  She agreed to stay overnight, which she has never done before.”

Caroline smiled.  “I’m glad she’s coming over.”

“Me, too,” Marie said.  “We’d better talk to Kyle’s dads.”

With that, the two girls made their way downstairs to do just that!

Prev To be continued . . .

A Note from Russ:

Community Care of St. Catharines -

Saskatchewan Driver’s license information:

Virginia’s driver’s license information:

Music for this chapter:

Yazoo – Only You -