At some point during the night, the twins had joined us in our bed – one on either side of us. I awoke to find Josh running his fingers through my hair. He giggled, “Your hair is just like mine, Daddy. Only it stands up all by itself!”
I smiled at our son and responded, “Does it now?”
Josh nodded his head, “Yes, it does.”
JJ’s head popped up behind Rick’s head and I saw him playing with Rick’s hair, making it stand straight up so it mirrored mine. JJ grinned, “Now you look like twins!”
I laughed and said, “I guess we look like you two!”
JJ nodded and kissed Rick on the cheek. Rick’s eyes opened and he turned his head to look at JJ. He smiled and said, “Good morning, JJ.”
“Good morning, Dad. Josh and I decided that you and Daddy look just like us,” JJ said.
“We do?” Rick asked in mock surprise making his eyes go as big as saucers.
JJ nodded his head and replied very seriously, “Yes, Dad. You look just like me and Daddy looks just like Josh.”
“How do you know?” Rick asked grinning at JJ. “Who told you we look alike?”
JJ giggled as he replied, “Dad! You know we look alike. You said so yourself. I heard you.”
Rick laughed and said, “You are right, little buddy. I am glad you were paying attention when I said it.”
Josh said, “We know we look the same as you and Daddy because I have the same color hair and eyes as Daddy and the same face shape. JJ has the same color hair and eyes as you and he is taller than me just like you are taller than Daddy.” Josh put his head next to mine and said, “Look, you can see we look the same.”
Rick leaned his head to one side and gave us an appraising look, “Yes, you do look the same.”
I laughed and said, “Rick, don’t you dare say anything else. I know what you are thinking!”
Rick kissed me lightly on the lips, “How do you know what I am thinking?”
“I just know that look,” I responded bringing my hand up to cup his cheek and I kissed him back. “You were going to start teasing me!”
Rick gave me a wicked grin, “Guilty as charged!” He pulled me closer to him and whispered in my ear, “You do act like a two-year old sometimes.” Before I could react, he covered my mouth is his and gave me a passionate kiss.
JJ looked over at Josh and said, “See our Dads love each other very much.”
Josh replied, “I know. They kiss each other all the time. Uncle Zach and Uncle Todd kiss each other, too. They do it because they are married.” Josh managed to sound like a little professor delivering a lecture to his class.
I laughed, “Okay, boys. Your Dad and I love each other very much and yes, we are married to each other and so are Uncle Zach and Uncle Todd. What is all of this about?”
JJ said, “We decided last night that we want to grow up and get married to someone we love just like you married Dad because he loves you. You know, just like in your wedding pictures downstairs.”
“We want you to grow and be happy, JJ. I am sure you will find someone who loves us just as much as Dad loves me” I said.
Josh said, “We also decided that we will have twin boys just like us.”
Rick said, “I am sure you will have children just like yourselves if that is what you want.” Rick paused and then asked, “Are you boys hungry?”
The twins chorused, “Yes!”
Rick laughed, “I thought so. Okay, help me up so we can go downstairs and eat.”
The twins complied quickly with Rick’s request. They had him up in a flash and were rolling me out of bed as well! Everyone should have the experience of being rolled out of bed by two very enthusiastic two-year old boys! We made our way down to the kitchen where we had a nice breakfast before the twins abandoned us for more interesting activities like morning cartoons!
Rick looked at the clock and said, “We need to get showered and dressed for our appointment with our lawyer.”
I nodded my head, “Yes, we need to be about our business today.”
Rick pulled me into his arms and said in a husky voice, “I need some assistance in the shower. Do you know anyone who could help me?” He nibbled on my ear as his hands roamed over my body.
I moaned in pleasure and managed to say, “I am certain we can find some poor chap to help you out.”
We went back upstairs to our en suite and enjoyed a long, hot shower together.
Zach and Todd came over with the boys and were waiting for us in the kitchen when we came downstairs, again. This time we were showered, shaved and dressed alike in khaki pants, dark blue golf shirts and black penny loafers. We both hate dress shoes with laces!
Zach smiled, “You look great guys!”
“Thank you, Zach,” Rick said. “We appreciate you guys coming over to watch the boys for us.”
Todd replied, “Cameron and Skye love being here with the twins. Don’t worry about us. Go take care of your business and we will hold down the fort here at the house.”
I kissed Todd on the lips and said, “We owe you a night out with Zach.”
Zach smiled, “That would be great, Glenn.”
I turned and kissed Zach as well, “Thank you for all you do for us, Zach.”
Rick said, “We love you guys.”
Zach hugged Rick and said, “We love you guys as well. Now go and we will be here when you get back.”
Rick hugged Todd and then took my hand and we walked out the door to the garage. Rick said, “Let’s take the corvette this time.”
Rick pulled off the car cover and folded it up and put it on top of the workbench at the back of the garage. We climbed in and Rick clicked the garage door opener before he started the engine. The engine roared to life and Rick looked over at me with big grin on his face. Rick loves his little red, corvette!
“I am glad we kept your corvette, Rick,” I said.
“I am too, Glenn. She is a member of the family,” Rick said as we backed out of the garage. “Do you remember how we lost Peyton and Angie that time we went to the beach?”
I replied, “I do remember that and the look on Peyton’s face as we passed them. You were just lucky that cop didn’t nail you instead of Peyton!”
Rick laughed, “It served him right for dating my ex-girlfriend.”
“Speaking of Peyton, we haven’t heard from your cousin, lately,” I said.
“Maybe he and Jonathan are really busy with school,” Rick said.
“That's probably true,” I said. “I think we should have the boys draw some pictures for them and we can write letters to send with the pictures. You know how the boys love Peyton and Jonathan."
Rick reached over and squeezed my hand, “You are always looking out for others, Glenn. It’s one of the things I love about you.”
It took us about 45 minutes to drive to our lawyer’s office. Rick parked the car and we walked inside. The receptionist immediately showed us into his office. As we entered, Phillip Short stood to greet us. He was just the opposite of his last name. He stood at 198 cm. (6’6”) with wide shoulders and a slender waist. It was obvious that he worked out. He had jet black hair flecked with gray, hazel eyes and a crooked smile. His nose was crooked where it had been broken at some point in his life. He shook our hands and said, “Thank you for coming on such short notice.” His deep bass voice had a nice tone to it that made you want to sit and listen to him talk.
Rick and I sat down in the chairs in front of his desk as he returned to his place on the opposite side. He opened a folder on his desk and pulled out a sheaf of papers and passed it across the desk to Rick. “The county is offering to settle your civil suit. You will find the details in that stack of paper. You will want to take some time to read it and then I will answer any questions you might have.”
Rick said, “Is there a room where we can have some privacy?”
Phillip said, “You can stay here while I use the office next door to make a few phone calls. If you need me, just tap on the door.” He stood and left the office.
We read through their offer and when we were finished, I looked over at Rick and asked, “What do you think?”
“I think we should accept their offer with a few modifications,” Rick said. “I want some of Grandpa’s lawyers to look this over and work with Phillip to draft up some language for our counter proposal,” Rick said.
“I agree,” I said. “Their offer is a good one but it doesn’t do enough to protect us from having the same thing happen again.”
We discussed our options and then called Grandpa. We talked over what we were planning to do with him and he told us to go ahead and contact his lawyers. We tapped on the door to the office next door. Phillip joined us and we went over what we had decided to do.
Phillip smiled, “I thought that would be your reaction to their offer. I am glad you are looking at a counter offer. I will reach out to your Grandpa’s lawyers.”
We stood up and Phillip walked us out to our car. He said, “I will call you in a day or so.”
“Thank you for working through this with us,” Rick said.
“Not a problem, Rick. You are paying me very handsomely to represent you. It is the least I can do for you,” Phillip said with a smile.
As Rick drove us home, I asked, “Do you think the county will go for it?”
Rick nodded his head, “I think so. Our lawsuit isn’t about the money. We want the county to put in place appropriate safeguards so what happened to us won’t happen to anyone else.”
I nodded my head, “But I do want out names cleared. Those falsified reports need to be pulled out of our files and destroyed.” I looked over at Rick and asked, “Do you think we should start the adoption process over again?”
“I don’t know,” Rick responded. “It depends on where we end up with this lawsuit and with the criminal charges against the county employees involved with the falsified reports.”
“I think Mrs. Reed has already made up her mind to move to New York,” I said.
Rick nodded, “I think you are right about that.”
I thought back to the conversation we had with her last week. She had already found a home to rent on Long Island. She had asked us to move in with her until the adoption process was complete.
“Do you think we should move to New York with her?” I asked.
Rick said, “I do. I can work remotely most of the time now. I can travel down from New York on the train when I need to be at the Pentagon.”
“The house is in Hauppauge, New York. She said it’s near some friends of hers who helped her find the place. Apparently, they know the owners and are giving her a break on the rent,” I said. “She sent me a link so I could see photos of the house.”
When we arrived at home, I found the house on-line and printed off the photos of the rental unit and showed them to Rick. He said, “It looks like a nice house.”
“I looked up the address to see where it is located. It’s really close to the Long Island Expressway so it will be easy for us to get around the island. Rick, I think it will be good for us to move away from here after everything that has happened,” I said.
Rick said, “We need to talk to Zach and Todd about this. I want to know what they think.”
We walked into the family room where Zach and Todd were watching a DVD with the boys. Rick asked, “Zach and Todd, may we speak with you for a moment?”
Zach said, “Sure.” He stood up and turned to help his husband get up from off of the floor. Cameron and Skye moved the floor pillows around to make themselves comfortable after their Dads left. I gave Cameron the thumbs up sign and said, “We will send them back right away.”
We walked into the kitchen and sat down around the table. Rick said, “We want to get your opinions about moving to New York.”
Both Zach and Todd looked shocked. I said, “We aren’t talking about a permanent move. Let me explain.”
I outlined what Mrs. Reed had proposed to us about moving to New York and living with her and the children until the adoption process was finished.
Zach asked, “Then you would move back here?”
“That would be the plan, at least for now,” Rick said. “We need to get away from here for a while after all that has happened.”
Todd nodded his head in understanding. He looked over at Zach, “Do you think we could join them in New York for a few months?”
Zach smiled, “I knew you were going to ask me that question. Yes, I think it would be good for us to move there, too. We can find someone to house sit for us here. There are plenty of military guys with families that would jump at a chance to rent our house while they are stationed at Fort Belvoir for training.”
“Would we live with Rick and Glenn or would we rent our own place?” Todd asked.
Zach said, “Let’s see. It’s a six bedroom home. Mrs. Reed will be in one room. Two more rooms will be taken by us and Rick and Glenn. We could put the twins in one room with two sets of bunk beds leaving Kyle and David to share a room and giving Ashley her own room. I think it would be workable but we need to discuss it with Mrs. Reed. I am sure we could find a home nearby to rent. That might be the better option. It would give us two homes instead of one.”
I said, “I think we could go in with you on the rent so you can get a big enough place for all of us to stay over like we do here.”
“I like that idea better, Todd,” Zach said. “I really like having our own space.”
We walked into the study and I fired up the computer and started searching for rentals near the house Mrs. Reed had found. I found several and printed them out for Zach and Todd.
Zach said, “We will check into these. I think living on Long Island will be a nice change for us as well. I was thinking that Rick and I could share an apartment downtown during the week and spend our weeks at home.”
“Or we could buy a small plane that we all could learn to fly. That way you could fly down every morning and return every night. The airport is just a few miles from Hauppauge in Islip,” I said. I showed them MacArthur Airport on the computer screen. “What do you think about that?” I looked from Rick to Zach and back to Rick.
Rick looked at Zach and said, “I have always wanted to learn to fly. Are you up for it, Zach?”
Zach said, “Sure, why not.” He smiled, “If I can play hockey, I certainly can learn to fly an airplane. Todd, are you okay with me learning to fly?”
“Sure as long as both Glenn and I get to learn how to fly so we can all pilot the plane. One other thing, the plane has to be big enough to carry the eight of us plus the Reeds. It would have to be able to carry 12 people – two pilots and 10 passengers.”
“That makes sense,” I said with a big grin. “I can’t wait to tell Uncle Dave that we are going to buy an airplane!”
Rick laughed, “You planned this all along, didn’t you Glenn?”
I gave him an impish grin, “Yes and no. Yes, I planned from the time Mrs. Reed told us where she was planning to live and extended her invitation for us to live with her and no, because I didn’t have a clue where she was going to move her family.”
I looked at Zach and Todd and saw that they were getting excited about moving to Long Island with us. I was happy they had decided to join us in New York. I love the Reeds but I would have been totally lost with Zach, Todd, Cameron and Skye. Rick noticed my expression and asked, “What’s wrong, Glenn?”
“Nothing is wrong, Babe. I am just so happy that Zach and Todd are coming with us,” I replied. “We need to call Grandpa and let him know what we are planning to do.”
Zach nodded his head in agreement, “Yes, let’s call him right now.”
I picked up the handset of the desk phone and dialed Grandpa’s number and then pushed the button on the phone so switch the call to the speaker. We heard it ring one more time before Grandma answered it, “Hello,”
“Hi Grandma. Is Grandpa there,” I asked.
“Yes, he is. I will put him on,” she said.
Grandpa came on the line, “Hello boys.”
Rick said, “Grandpa we have a couple things we wanted to talk to you about. Zach and Todd are here with us.” Rick outlined our plans to move to New York and then the plans to buy a plane.
Grandpa said, “I understand why you are moving to New York and I also understand why Zach and Todd are moving with you. However, I can’t see how the plane will save you time, let alone money. Buying the plane is not the problem. It’s the upkeep and the costs of flying it.”
“Grandpa, I was thinking it would make it possible for the guys to spend weekends at home with us and still make it to work on Monday mornings,” I said.
“Okay, where will you store the plane during the week?” Grandpa asked.
“We can leave the plane at National Airport at Manassas Regional Airport during the week,” I said. “I have the list of costs here.” I pulled a piece of paper out of the top drawer of the desk. “I also have looked at several different planes. That is what we wanted to talk to you about. If we buy a small plane, it will hold only two people. If we buy a small jet, it will hold from 12 to 18 people depending on which one we buy.”
Grandpa said, “Have you thought of starting a charter flight service between Long Island and Washington?”
“No, we hadn’t thought that far ahead. We were just discussing the possibilities of owning a plane,” Zach said.
“Here is an idea for your consideration. I propose that all four of you become trained jet pilots. You should also consider training Jeff and a couple of others who work for you. They could run the charter service during the week and take weekends off when you fly home to Long Island,” Grandpa said.
We looked at each other and then Rick said, “Let us talk it over and we will get back to you.”
Grandpa said, “You might also consider purchasing more than one plane as well.”
Todd said, “You have given us a lot to think about, Grandpa.”
“Good. I have done my job. Talk to you boys later,” Grandpa said.
“Bye, Grandpa,” we chorused.
After the call ended, Rick said, “Wow! I think it’s a great idea. What do you guys think?”
Zach smiled, “I like the idea but I won’t be able to spend a lot of time flying planes. My schedule is pretty booked between hockey practice and our games.”
“Zach is right about that,” Todd said.
I knew Zach and Todd were right. “I’m sorry, guys. I thought it would be a great idea.”
Rick put his hand on my shoulder, “It’s okay, Glenn.”
Todd said, “We still have our sailing boats, guys. We need to decide how we are getting them to Long Island.”
Zach said, “That’s easy – sail them.”
I looked over at Zach and grinned, “I think we should do just that.”
We spent the next few days making arrangements for our move. Rick and I helped Mrs. Reed get things packed up for the movers. Rick and Kyle went into Kyle’s room to pack thing up while I helped David in his room.
Kyle said, “I am glad you are going to live with us, Dad. It will be like that time we lived with you after Mom and Dad died.”
Rick said, “Yes, it will be a lot like that except this time your Grandma will be living with us.”
“Grandma told us that you are going to adopt us when we get to New York,” Kyle said.
“That is why we are going to live with you in New York, Kyle,” Rick said. “Your birthday is coming up in a few weeks. What do you want for your birthday?”
Kyle thought for a moment, “I want you and Daddy to become my real Dads. I love Grandma but I want you and Daddy to be with us forever.”
Rick blinked back the tears that suddenly found themselves clouding his vision. He cleared his throat and said, “Daddy and I love you very much Kyle.”
Kyle threw himself into Rick’s arms and hugged him tightly. Rick noticed how physically solid Kyle had become. He stood at about 5’ (156 cm.) now but his shoulders had broadened and he was quite stocky. Kyle pulled back and Rick looked into his hazel eyes and said, “Kyle, you seemed to have grown quite a bit in the last few weeks.”
Kyle smiled, “Grandma says that I am about to shoot up because my hands and feet are getting so big. I want to be as tall as you Dad.”
Rick said, “We will have to wait and see if that turns out to be the case. I will love you no matter how tall you get to be.”
“I know, Dad, but I want to play basketball and I will need to be tall like you,” Kyle said.
Rick smiled, “I think you might think about playing football, Kyle. Right now, you seem to have more of the body type for blocking and tackling.”
Kyle looked at Rick in surprise, “Do you really think so?”
Rick nodded, “Yes, I do. If you want, we can start throwing the football around a bit and I can start to teach you some plays.”
Kyle’s face lit up with enthusiasm, “I would really like that.” Then his face fell, “But what will I tell Daddy when I tell him I am going to play football?”
Rick thought for a moment, “Let me tell him, Kyle. I know he wants you to play soccer but I think it’s time you tried out other sports, Kyle. Don’t worry about Daddy, okay?”
Kyle nodded his head, “Thanks, Dad.”
“You’re welcome, Kyle. Did you remember to put some clothes for the trip to New York in your suitcase?”
“Yes, I put in several pairs of pants, t-shirts, socks and underwear,” Kyle said opening his suitcase for Rick.
Rick nodded his head in approval, “Good. I am glad you listened to your grandmother’s instructions.”
They finished packing the boxes in Kyle’s bedroom.
Meanwhile, I helped David pack his things. “David, did you put your clothes in your suitcase?” I asked.
David looked at me and didn’t answer. I knew he heard me but I also knew he hadn’t processed what I said. David is autistic and doesn’t handle change very well. This move was going to be very difficult for him. I wondered what we could do to ease the transition. We had talked to Mrs. Reed about it but none of us had an easy way to grapple with the situation. Keeping many of David’s things with him while we travelled and then making sure they made into his new room would help – we hoped. I repeated my question.
David’s eyes finally focused on me and David answered my question, “Yes, I packed my clothes, Daddy.”
I walked over to where his suitcase sat on the floor. I opened it and checked it contents. Everything was neat and orderly. He had labeled each stack of clothing and packaged them by tying string around them. The level of organization in the suitcase reflected how David’s mind worked – very methodical and organized.
I remembered the initial meetings we had with his social worker and with the school psychologist. They had gone over with us all of the details of David’s autistic behaviors and how we should respond to him. It had been a very revelatory meeting for us. Neither of us had experience with autistic people in our lives. Those first few months with David had proven we could provide a warm and loving environment for him. He had thrived despite losing his parents in a car crash. When we met with the school, they expressed their amazement at the changes in David. The school psychologist asked us what we were doing and we responded that we weren’t doing anything special other than showing him love and understanding.
When Mrs. Reed left the nursing home and was ready to take the children to live with her in their new home, David cried and wouldn’t speak to her. We finally sat him down with us and asked him what was going on. I still remember the look on his face and his words:
“Dad and Daddy, I want to stay with you. You love me. Grandma doesn’t understand me and doesn’t love me like you do. I won’t live with her,” David said.
Rick said, “David, we are going to live just down the street from you. You can come visit us every day if you want. It’s just that your grandmother is your legal guardian and you need to live with her along with Kyle and Ashley.”
David looked at us and then burst into tears. I put my arm around his shoulders and he clung to me as if his very life depended on it. “David, we love you and we aren’t going away. We promise you that we will still be part of your life.”
He stopped crying and looked up at me and asked, “Do you promise to let me stay overnight with you and Dad as often as I want?”
I looked over at Rick. Rick responded, “We promise to let you stay with us whenever your Grandma says it’s okay. But you have to promise to listen to her and do as she asks.”
David nodded his head and said, “Okay.”
I was brought back to the present when David said, “I have already packed everything and I labeled every box with a list of its contents and wrote it down on this list.”
He showed me a list. I took it from him and read over it. I looked up at him and said, “Very well done, David. Thank you for being so organized.”
David sat down next to me on the floor of his bedroom. He put his arms around me and hugged me. “I am so glad you are going to live with us, again. Grandma is just as excited as we are that you are coming to New York with us.”
“Dad and I are excited as well and so are the twins,” I replied.
David said, “I can’t wait to play with them in our new house. Grandma says that I get to help babysit them.”
I smiled, “That’s correct but only if you want to do it.”
David replied, “I want to because they love me. They don’t make fun of me or think I am different. They like the same things I like. I want to be with them.”
I said, “Since we are done in your room, let’s go see if we can help Ashley with her room.”
We walked down the hall to Ashley’s room. Mrs. Reed was helping Ashley pack boxes when we entered the bedroom. Mrs. Reed looked up at us and said, “Good, someone to help me tape up these boxes.”
She handed me the packing tape. I began taping up the boxes while David walked over to where Ashley was putting her stuffed animals in an empty box. She looked up at David and asked, “Do you want to help me?”
David nodded his head and began helping Ashley. He pulled a notebook out of his pocket and made notes on it about what was going inside the box. By the time we finished packing Ashley’s room, Rick and Kyle walked in and announced that Kyle’s room was done.
Mrs. Reed smiled and said, “Let’s move on to the kitchen and front room.”
We spent the rest of the day packing and managed to finish before dinnertime. Mrs. Reed locked up the house and followed us over to our house where they were going to spend the night. The movers were schedule to arrive in the morning and Mrs. Reed would drive with the children to Long Island.
The next morning, we were up with the sun. We had breakfast and then we met the movers at the Reeds home. Within a few hours, everything was packed up and the movers were gone.
Mrs. Reed turned to us and let out a deep sigh. She said, “I am glad that is done.” She smiled weakly and said, “We had best be moving out.”
Rick looked at her with concern, “Are you sure you are up to driving to New York.”
“Yes, I am. I’m stronger than you think,” she said. “Let’s go.”
We climbed into our cars and caravanned north. Zach and Todd didn’t come with us this time. The initial excitement of moving had worn off and they weren’t sure this was the direction they needed to go as a family. As we drove up Interstate 95, I thought back to the conversation we had with them last evening after everyone was in bed asleep.
Todd said, “Zach and I are rethinking our decision to move to Long Island.”
“I thought about that after we talked about Zach’s schedule that things might not work out for you to come with us,” I said.
Zach looked very sad, “We want you to go with you but I can’t live without Todd. Moving to New York would separate us even more than we are now.”
“We understand,” Rick said. “We want you to be happy and won’t ask you to do anything that will endanger that.”
Todd had tears in his eyes, “You don’t know how hard it is for us to say “no” to you.”
I stood up and walked around the table and put my arms around Todd. “It’s okay. We will be back after the adoption goes through.”
Todd nodded his head, “We know you will be back but it gets pretty lonely with Zach on the road with his team. It has been so wonderful these past two years.”
Rick said, “We have changed our minds about renting out the house. We plan split our time between New York and here. It doesn’t make sense for me to rent an apartment when we have a perfectly good house for me to live in right here.”
Todd’s face brightened and he smiled, “Hurrah! I was hoping you guys would change your minds about renting out your place!”
Todd stood up and hugged me and kissed me. He then walked over to Rick and hugged and kissed him as well. Zach pulled all of us into a group hug. When he released us I pulled him to me and kissed him on the lips and said, “I love you Zach.”
Zach smiled, “I love you, Glenn.”
“Let’s get your suitcases packed so you will be already to go in the morning,” Todd said.
“We plan to stay with the Reeds until we have to return to St. Catharines,” Rick said. “After we get things settle there, we will return home for a few weeks before going back to New York.”
Zach nodded his head, “So you will be working remotely then?”
“Yes, that is the plan,” Rick said.
We walked into our bedroom and I pulled out our suitcases. Zach sat on the bed and watched as I got out the clothes we planned to take with us. Todd pulled out our matching white Speedo swimsuits and held them up. “I think they should model these for us.”
I laughed, “Okay, but only after everything has been packed.”
We finished up and then we stripped down and pulled on the swimsuits. We posed for them as Todd took photos. Then we started to make out while they watched. Rick said, “I think we need to invite them to join us.” He looked over at Zach and Todd who were obviously turned on by our display of affection.
Zach laughed and said, “I thought you would never ask!”
They stripped down and moved over so we could join them on the bed. Todd looked over at me and said, “I have dreamed about us doing this for some time.”
Rick smiled and said, “We have to have some rules first. We only fuck our husbands but everything else is okay.”
Zach nodded his head, “We are all in agreement since we have been in a monogamous relationship from the beginning. We don’t want that to change now. It’s just that watching you two fuck makes us so horny.”
Rick said, “It’s the same with us, Zach.” The rest of the evening was absolutely fantastic!
Rick looked over at me and said, “A penny for your thoughts.”
I grinned, “I was just thinking about last night”
“I thought that might be the case,” Rick said.
“How did you know that?” I asked.
Rick reached over and grabbed my package, “This is how I know.”
I laughed, “You have to admit it was pretty good.”
He released me and said, “It was very hot!”
Josh asked, “What was hot, Dad?”
Rick grinned and looked into the rearview mirror at his son, “Your Daddy is hot, Josh.”
Josh asked, “Why doesn’t he open the window if he is hot?”
I laughed and replied, “I will do that.” I rolled down the window and let the wind rush past me.
JJ complained, “Daddy, the wind is blowing too hard back here.”
“Alright, I will close the window,” I said.
We made good time and soon arrived at the Hauppauge House. The boys christened it the Hauppauge House to distinguish it from the River House. We pulled into the driveway and piled out of the car. Mrs. Reed opened the door and let us in. The boys went running from room to room exploring the new house. Kyle, David and Ashley followed in their wake. They seemed excited to be in a new place but not quite as exuberant as the twins.
Mrs. Reed said, “We need to drive over to the school and register the children for school. I think classes start on Monday.”
I asked, “Do you want us to come with you?”
“No, but will you stay here and direct the movers when they arrive,” she said.
“Sure. We will make sure things make it into the right rooms,” Rick said.
We unloaded her car first. She called her friends who arrived just as we finished taking everything inside. She introduced us to them. “Rick and Glenn, this is Michael and Trish Gansel.”
Michael looked to be in his late sixties or early seventies. He was tall with pure white hair. He wore hearing aids and he talked too loudly. He shouted, “Glad to meet you fellows.”
Trish said, “I’m sorry. Michael can’t hear very well and he thinks shouting makes you hear him better.”
“That’s quite alright,” Rick said.
Trish turned to Mrs. Reed and said, “Maude, let’s get your grandchildren in the car. The school isn’t far from here.”
Trish soon had everyone in their car and they left for the school leaving us to deal with the movers who showed up about an hour later.
We helped the movers unload the truck and they were gone before Mrs. Reed returned. Rick and I had arranged the furniture in most of the rooms and were constructing the beds. We were in Kyle’s room when Kyle walked into the room.
Kyle smiled and said, “I am going to like going to school here.”
“How do David and Ashley feel about their schools?” Rick asked.
David and Ashley chorused, “We like it.”
They all stood and watched as we put the box springs and mattress on the bed frame. “Your bed is all ready for you, Kyle,” Rick said.
Kyle hugged Rick and said, “Thank you, Dad.”
I looked at David and Ashley, “We made your beds for you. Now you need to unbox your things and put them away.”
They each hugged me and said, “Thank you.”
The twins came in with Mrs. Reed. JJ said, “Mrs. Reed brought us some doughnuts and milk!”
She laughed, “They seem to have a nose for treats!”
I smiled, “I know they do.”
Josh said, “Mrs. Reed says we have to ask you if we can have a doughnut.”
Rick smiled and said, “You both may have a doughnut.”
JJ shouted, “Yeah!”
They tore back down the hallway followed by Kyle, David and Ashley. Mrs. Reed said, “Thank you so much for getting things set up for us.”
“You’re welcome,” Rick said. Mrs. Reed left us to finish making Kyle’s bed.
As we finished, I looked over at Rick and asked, “Are we doing the right thing, Rick? I mean I know we love the children but are we the right parents for them?”
Rick walked around the bed and pulled me into his arms and put his hand under my chin and looked deeply into my eyes. “Babe, the children love you and me very much. You can see it in their eyes and in their actions. I know that you love them as much as I do.”
I nodded my head and said, “It’s not that I don’t love them because I do. I am just thinking about the challenges that lie ahead of them. I want to be there for them and to be able to give them the counsel and advise they need at the right times. How will we know what to do and when?”
“I think we will know because we have learned to keep our communication lines open. Just like earlier today. Kyle came to me and talked about his desire to play football,” Rick said. “As long as we keep communicating between ourselves and each of them, I think we will know when we need to do something or when we just need to listen.”
“I am glad he talked to you, Rick. Kyle and I had talked about it earlier and I am afraid I let own personal bias against football guide my actions instead of what was best for Kyle. I will have to apologize to him now for not listening to him. He tried to convince me that football was better for him than soccer,” I said.
Rick smiled, “I know how much you hate football, Glenn, and I am not surprised that you tried to discourage Kyle from going out for the football team.”
“It’s not that I hate it, Rick. I’m just worried that Kyle will get seriously hurt,” I said.
“That’s why they wear all those pads and a helmet, Babe!” Rick declared.
“I know but he still can get hurt pretty badly,” I insisted.
Rick said, “Yes, he can still be hurt but you have to acknowledge Kyle’s logic in joining the football team. Remember what Kyle told you? First, it will give him the opportunity to work out and tone up his body. He said his number one goal was to get physically fit and joining the football team would help him accomplish that goal. Second, the football team will give him a ready-made support network at his new school. You know he’s right about needing to make new friends and to become integrated at his new school.”
“I know all of those things and yes, they are good things but it still doesn’t stop me from worrying about any injuries Kyle might have because of playing football,” I said.
“Why don’t we wait and see how things go? I have told Kyle that his grades come first. If the grades drop below a B average, Kyle knows that he will be off the football team. He also knows if he gets injured that he will be off the team as well. I have warned him to follow the coach’s instructions and not to do anything extremely stupid,” Rick said. “Are we good?”
“I guess,” I said with resignation. I could see that Rick supported Kyle’s desire to play football and that nothing I said was going to change his mind. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at Rick’s position given that he played football himself in high school.
Rick kissed me and said, “Everything will be alright, Glenn. Stop worrying about it.”
I nodded my head and sighed, “Okay, I’ll try.”
Rick smiled and kissed me, again.
We left Kyle’s room and made our way to the kitchen to see if any of the doughnuts had survived!
We entered the kitchen and found Kyle talking to Mrs. Reed. “Grandma, I want to play football. Please sign the permission forms. Please!”
Mrs. Reed looked up from the forms and asked, “Has Kyle talked to you two about playing football?”
We nodded our heads and I looked over at Rick and said, “The ball is in your court, sweetheart.”
We sat down next to Kyle and Rick said, “Yes, Kyle has talked to us about playing football.” Kyle looked at Rick with a hopeful expression on his face. “We have discussed the positives and negatives of playing football.”
Kyle said, “I have written up a contract between me and you, Grandma, laying out the rules.” He handed her a piece of paper.
At the top of the sheet, Kyle had written, “Football,” followed by a list of goals. Mrs. Reed read the out loud, “Goal number one, get physically fit by exercising and lifting weights as directed by the coach. Goal number two, develop friendships and become part of the social scene at school.”
At this last, Mrs. Reed glanced up at Kyle. “I am not sure that the social scene the football team will provide you is the one I want you to be in, Kyle. There seems to be a lot of sex, drugs, and thrill-seeking that goes on among members of football teams.”
Rick spoke up to defend Kyle, “Kyle and I have talked about the dangers of becoming intoxicated with the jock culture that comes with being on the football squad. I think that Kyle can handle being on the team and still keep his head focused on what is important.”
Kyle said, “Grandma, read the terms of the contract.”
Mrs. Reed read them, “I will be removed from the team if I don’t abide the following conditions: One – all grades must be A’s and B’s. A “C” grade will constitute cause for removal from the team. Two – involvement with drugs, alcohol, partying, or any other inappropriate activities will constitute cause for removal from the team. Three – Injury of any kind will also constitute removal from the team.”
Rick said, “I think the last one should be contingent upon the severity of the injury. If it is a minor one such as broken finger, Kyle should be allowed to continue to play football. If it is a head injury or a broken leg, then he will be off the team.”
Kyle looked over at Rick with gratitude. “I wrote it down the way you told me to do, Dad. Thank you for making it a little more flexible.”
Mrs. Reed looked at the bottom of the paper and saw four signature lines with names under them. She said, “This agreement will be between you, me, and your Dads. Is that correct, Kyle?”
Kyle said, “Yes, Grandma.”
Mrs. Reed asked, “Who gets the final say regarding injuries?”
Kyle looked at me and asked, “Can we make it a group decision?”
I returned Kyle’s gaze and said, “You know that any injury is unacceptable to me.”
“I know Daddy,” Kyle replied. He looked down at the table and his shoulders slumped.
Mrs. Reed said, “I think that the three of us will consult with each other before a decision is made regarding injuries. However, once our decision is made, you must abide by it, Kyle. I will not tolerate arguments of any kind. Do I make myself clear, young man?”
Kyle smiled and said, “I understand, Grandma.”
“I want you to sign your agreement first. Then the three of us will sign it before I will agree to sign the permission forms,” Mrs. Reed said.
The agreement was signed and the forms completed. Mrs. Reed handed them to Kyle who hugged his Grandma. “Thanks, Grandma.”
We stood up from the table. Kyle put down the paperwork and hugged Rick, “Thank you, Dad.”
Then he hugged me, “I promise I won’t get hurt, Daddy. You’ll see.”
I kissed him on the cheek and said, “You had better not get hurt.” I smiled and gave him another hug.
Kyle gathered up his paperwork. The smile on his face said it all. He was a very happy boy! As Kyle left the kitchen, I turned to Rick and said, “I think we made the right choice this time.”
Rick nodded his head, “Yes, I think we did. Don’t you agree, Mrs. Reed?”
“Yes, I think we did the right thing,” Mrs. Reed replied. “We met the football coach earlier today when we registered Kyle for 9th grade. Coach Kelly seems like a really good guy. He connected right away with Kyle. I think Kyle will be just fine at his new school. David and Ashley are registered at Hauppauge Middle School in 6th and 7th grades. I think they will adjust pretty quickly to their new school as well. Ashley was very pleased to find out that 6th grade is at the middle school and not at the elementary school like it is in Fairfax County.”
We heard the doorbell ring. I looked over at Rick and said, “I bet that’s our bedroom furniture.”
Rick nodded his head in agreement. “They said they would deliver between 12 noon and 6 PM today.”
We walked out into the foyer and Rick answered the door. There were two guys standing there. They both wore uniforms from the furniture store where we had purchased the bedroom furniture for us and for the twins. The younger one looked like he was stoned out of his mind. He had dark hair and a sallow complexion. He just didn’t look healthy at all! The older one was a balding man with blond hair and a mustache. His watery blue eyes gave Rick an appraising look and said, “We are here to deliver your furniture, Mr. Lernier.”
Rick said, “Good. Let me show you where I want it placed.” The men followed Rick upstairs to the bedrooms. “I want the twin beds in here,” he said indicating the twins’ bedroom. “The rest goes in here.”
The delivery men left the house and quickly unloaded four dressers – two for Rick and I and two for the twins. Then they unloaded the bunk beds and king-sized bed for me and Rick. Rick and I helped them move the furniture upstairs. Ricked signed the delivery documents and the men left.
The twins came into their room as we were assembling their beds. JJ said, “I like our new beds, Dad.”
“You helped us pick them out so I am glad you are happy with what you chose,” Rick said.
Josh asked, “May we have them arranged like we have them at home?”
“Sure Josh,” I said. We finished putting the beds together and moved the furniture around so it was in the same configuration as what we had at our other house. The twins helped arrange their clothes in their dressers and to make their beds.
When we finished, JJ and Josh both gave us a hug. JJ said, “Thank you for putting our room together for us.”
“You’re welcome,” Rick said.
We left the boys in their room and tackled ours. It wasn’t long before we had the bed put together and made. We made short work of putting our clothes away and then I locked our door and pulled Rick to me.
Rick kissed me and asked, “What do you have in mind, Mr. Lernier?”
I grinned, “I think we need a shower, Mr. Lernier.”
Rick nodded his head in agreement, “I think that a shower is a great idea.” He led me to the en suite and we quickly stripped down and stepped into the cascading water. Of course, we enjoyed ourselves very much!
Later that evening, I looked into Rick’s eyes as he held me in his arms. “I am glad we have a few days to get the children acclimated to their new surroundings before school starts.”
“I think we should do some exploring tomorrow to help ourselves and the children get acquainted with our new home,” Rick said. “I was looking at some of the tourist information on-line and I think we should go to Port Jefferson and take the ferry across to Connecticut.”
“I think we can do that after we get our adoption paperwork started,” I said. “I think Mrs. Reed has already set up an appointment to meet with Suffolk County social services.”
Rick said, “I hope this time we don’t run into the same issues we did with Fairfax County.”
“We will have to wait and see,” I said.
Rick pulled me closer to him and kissed me, effectively cutting off any further conversation. When we surfaced for air, Rick looked into my eyes and said, “I love you.”
I replied, “I love you, too.”
Rick grinned, “I intend to show you just how much I love you.”
I laughed and replied, “Okay. How much to you love me?”
Rick answered my question in a very physical way! He left no doubts in my mind that he loves me very much!