Major Building ~ The Noah Major Family: Book Two

Chapter Seven

I suppose that now would be a good time to tell you a bit about Frank and Stan. They continued to live here on the lane in the house they had built, using the building process for one whole season of the television show Frank starred in and Stan was the primary photographer for his segments. They would spend weeks at a time traveling or working on a project house or building they were filming at. Frank had done some instructional videos, some while he was still in college, and Stan had been his videographer since. They had been married here while in their third season and Frank's show was one of the longest lasting ones on the home improvement network, going on seven years. Frank and Stan would often travel on network business, appearing on other network shows, going to home shows across the country making personal appearances, sometimes guesting on the talk show circuit, and even appearances on national news shows as a segment commentator if the story warranted it or he had to promote a new season or a new video. He was often recognized out in public, but around town, it was rare that a fan would interrupt him, at home he was just Frank Major, one of Noah and Chris's boys. Jake and Jordan were their sons and while Jordan was still in his teens, at least, Stan was at home almost full time with the boys. He was the oldest of the two brothers and when he turned seventeen he had already graduated college and had been with my brother John for 2 years. They loved working on old cars and had completed two before they had graduated high school with Phil helping and advising along the way. Jake was the younger brother and had only been 9 when they came to live with Stan and Frank.

Jake was smart, so smart that he was able to help Jordan with his high school homework and help him bring his grades up, so much so that Jordan was able to graduate with honors and a great scholarship to a local college where John was also going. Jake had a very casual way about him. He was emotionally outgoing, and it seemed like he had never met someone he didn't like. He was about to graduate high school when he started coming around the office I had at the building company I owned with Uncle David and our partner Dillon. Sometimes he would spend his time there with Dillon in the workroom, sometimes with me in the office, working on estimates from the plans for a project we were bidding on, and sometimes he was out in the field with David, visiting the various construction sites.

He is very well liked and often has some pal with him. He has so many friends it is sometimes hard to remember who is who, as there is no pattern as to who or when a friend accompanies him. Since his fathers' let him get his driver's license he seems to be able to come over a lot, but it wasn't a free reign, he has to check in with them at specific times during the day, and they have always asked this of both of the boys. About a month after these visits started Jake was starting to come alone for his after-school visits. He and I had always been close, maybe a little closer than with my other nephews, but nothing noticeable. They all swam like fishes and many were good divers, like Jake, but he had never singled me out like he had been doing the last month. This one day, about a month before the end of school, and his graduation, he came and sat in the chair across from me at my desk and asked if I thought he was gay.

I was surprised by the question, and I told him that no one could tell another person's sexual orientation just by looking at them, and I didn't care if he was gay or not, he was and always would be my nephew and I loved him, as all his uncles loved him, unconditionally. He admitted that some of his schoolmates had always assumed he was, just because he had two dads and his older brother was married to Uncle John. He had never really given it any thought, but he really thought about it when he entered puberty and he realized he enjoyed seeing all the various guys dressing and showering at the pools or the fitness center. What got him off was the male form, no matter how much he tried to fantasize about females.

He had done a lot of research and he decided it didn't make any difference to him, he just didn't know how to be gay. He didn't know if he should dress in tighter clothes or change the way he walked or what, he had seen many guys he admired, inside the family and from outside the family both, but nothing that stirred him beyond a jerk off session or two. He didn't know how to find that connection that so many others in the family had, and since I was the oldest of his gay uncles, and he and I got along so great, he thought he'd ask me how to be gay. I was a little unsettled by his "confessions", but I was determined to put this young man at ease, if I could. I went around to the front of my desk and took the seat next to his after closing the office door. I told him that it wasn't a requirement that he fall in love at his age, after all, look at the Gramps, they didn't find each other until they were in their thirties! Many of his neighbors didn't find each other until their twenties, while some knew at a much younger age. There was no set rule about finding your true love, and I didn't think changing the way he dressed or wore his hair was the way to find a partner, he should be himself, so he was sure it was him that was fallen in love with, not his clothing. He thought about that for a few moments and he sincerely thanked me for the words of encouragement. He told me he would also be talking with his dads and he thanked me for putting up with him for the last two months.

He told me he was going to travel with his dads this summer, but he'd like to be able to come to the office when he was home. I told him he was going to have a great time this summer, but whenever he had the time he was always welcome at the office and workshop here. He hugged me goodbye, as he usually did, and he was gone for the time being. I talked to Phil about it all when our boys were doing their homework that evening and he told me he thought I had handled it better than he would have. That Summer, after graduation, Jake was on the road with his dads and from the few calls and lengthy letters and emails, at first, he was having a great time. After the start of August, he was getting bored with the traveling and felt he should be home, getting ready for his freshman year at college. I didn't know just what preparing he had to do, but I called Frank and Stan one day and offered to have Jake stay with us if they were to be on the road much longer. Frank said he had noticed that Jake wasn't as enthused about the traveling and filming as he had at the beginning of June and he said he'd ask Jake if he wanted to spend the rest of the month with us. Jake did, and we drove to Bradley Airport in Connecticut to pick him up. He took his luggage up to the guest room, with Pedro and Bradley helping to get him settled into his room and bathroom while Phil and I started dinner.

The next day he slept in, but by the afternoon he was out riding with his younger cousins showing them the riding trails and making a few suggestions about their riding skills. He told me later they were both good riders, but he had made a few suggestions to make it easier on both the riders and their mounts. The boys listened and tried his suggestions and they all had a better time for it. Later that day he took them to the swim center and they had a great time. They were allowed to use the diving boards and Jose joined them there. Jose helped Pedro get to the end of the diving boards and they both helped Bradley with his diving technique to the point he was much more comfortable on the boards after their coaching and the added encouragement from Jake. Jake didn't spend the rest of his summer with his cousins though. He spent a lot of time reading books from the sophomore reading list(he was entering college as a sophomore) and visiting the workroom at my business and talking with me in the office. He seemed content with his life and wouldn't you know it, when his dads returned to help him move into his dorm (he'd elected to live in the dorm for at least his first year)he met his roommate, Alan, for the first time in person.

They had emailed and even phoned each other during the summer, but Alan was from Delaware where his dad was some big deal in banking and he wouldn't let his son travel on his own, even the short flight to where we were. He seemed to be very controlling and Alan told us he had always been like that and that was why he had pushed himself at the private school he had attended to graduate a year early and taken all AP classes to be able to enter college as a sophomore as Jake had done. He thought that would cut his dependence on his father to only three more years.

His mother had died of cancer only three years ago and he had no siblings so there were no buffers between his father and himself. Stan and Frank didn't meet the father then, he had just dropped Alan off in front of the dorm and taken off. The boys helped each other get settled in and then Jake's dads drove them to an Italian restaurant we all liked in Amherst and treated them to dinner. There Alan learned a lot more about Jake's family and he couldn't believe how many uncles and cousins Jake had. He thought it must be neat to have that large a group of relatives to hang with. Apparently, according to Frank and Stan, it was infatuation at first sight for the two lads. Besides being the youngest on the Amherst College campus, they were supposedly the smartest too. They were great study buddies and often competed for grades in the classes they shared. They each wanted a career in education, hoping for high school or college level teaching positions. Alan wanted to teach in the science field while Jake was more interested in becoming an English teacher. They ate their meals together and got to know each other really well and by the middle of September Alan was coming home with Jake for the weekends. Jake took him horseback riding and then swimming after. Alan got to meet a lot of Jake's relatives and he was really pleased to be included in these weekends. He got the whole tour and was pleased to meet all the uncles and the aunts and cousins too. By Thanksgiving he had been included in the family's plans and he had informed his father he wouldn't be going home for the long weekend, he'd be spending the holiday with his roommate's family, his father wasn't really concerned, but at Jake's urging Alan had checked with the executor of his mother's estate and was told that he didn't need money from his father, he had plenty in his trust that could pay for his college education many times over if need be. The executor told him he would start sending him expense money right away, so Alan didn't have to depend on his father for spending money and his tuition would be paid by the trust from then on, he just hadn't been told Alan had graduated high school already.

After the Thanksgiving break, the guys got right into cramming for the upcoming finals for the semester. The boys studied hard and, in the evenings, they studied together after dinner and soon they were quizzing each other. The day before Christmas break was the day of their last tests for the year and in celebration, they went to the Italian restaurant in town that Jake's family often frequented. The meal was great, just what they needed to help them unwind, and when there was no check presented Jake got nervous, as he had never had to wait that long before for the tab to be presented. Eventually, their waiter stopped and asked if there was anything else he could get them, and Jake told him they were just waiting for the bill. The waiter told him that the bill was taken care of, and with a generous tip, he might add, by the gentlemen at the table in the corner. Jake stood to see who was there and he saw his Grandfathers sitting there enjoying their own meal. He thanked the waiter for his service and then gestured to Alan to join him in thanking the Grands. They went over and sat for a while and thanked the men for their dinner and talked about their finals and when they would be leaving the campus for Christmas break.

They told them they were done, and that they were packed and ready to be picked up the next day. The grands offered to drive them back that night when they were finished, and the boys were excited that they would be able to start their break 12 hours early. They arranged to meet at the dorm entrance in an hour and the boys left to gather their things. They put their bags just inside the front door and Alan used the time to place a call to his father. His father hadn't bothered to even let Alan know he was overseas, and he brushed off the hurt in Alan's voice by saying he'd make it up to him someday. Jake instinctively put his arm around his roommate's shoulders and told him all would be OK, he'd spend the whole break with him and not just the weekend as they had originally planned. The Grands were right on time and the boys got their luggage stowed and got in the car and they were off. The Grands drove the long route home, talking to the boys and learning all they could about Alan. They had a great time together and they made plans for a horseback ride the next day. Frank and Stan were both home and were finishing their late dinner when Jake and Alan were dropped off. It was the perfect time to arrive as the two dads were getting kind of mushy, thinking they had the house to themselves for the night. They had arrived home the day before, taking their Christmas break to coincide with Jake's break from school until after New Year's. They had gone through the house and cleaned this and straightened that and made love in several rooms today. They knew Alan was coming for the weekend and had planned accordingly, but then Jake pulled them aside while Alan was in the restroom and filled them in on Alan's father's last-minute trip to Switzerland, leaving Alan to spend the holidays alone with no warning. His dads told him to invite Alan to spend the whole break with them and Jake proudly said he had already, and Alan had accepted his invitation already, but it wouldn't hurt to ask him themselves, he really admired them, and it would mean so much more coming from them, their son told them.

They did just that when Alan returned from the bathroom attached to the bedroom he had been using on those weekends Jake brought him home, and he was welcomed to spend any amount of time with them he wanted to. The dads wanted them to help pick out a tree from the pine grove down the lane tomorrow and they'd all decorate it together in the evening. They decided to go cut the tree in the morning, since the boys had a date to go riding in the early afternoon. They all said their good nights and went up to their beds.

I only know this because Jake came to the office to say Hi two days later while his brother Jordan took Alan out shopping for Christmas presents, where Jake was supposed to be, but he figured this talk could be more important than any present, plus he still had five shopping days before he had to present any presents. He got right to the point as soon as we each took a chair in front of my desk after I closed the door. He said he thought he was in love with his roommate, but didn't know how to make the first move. I looked him in the eyes and asked him why he thought he was in love with Alan.

He told me he thought of him all the time, especially when they were apart. He even admitted he had wet dreams about Alan. I asked what he intended to do about it and he said that was what he was doing here, asking me what to do! I told him to think about it for a moment, did he want to make a romantic gesture, or cut right to the chase and jump his bones. He sat and thought a bit and said sex could be fleeting, while romance could last a lifetime. I suggested they find some time by themselves over the holidays and he make the first move when he felt the time was right. He thanked me for making him stop and prioritize his thoughts and he left after giving me a big hug.

I learned later that Jake made a shopping trip into Springfield and returned home before the others. He decided to prepare dinner as he knew no one had been home that afternoon. He started by preparing a salad and laying out some salmon fillets to thaw. After the salad was prepared and, in the fridge, he made a Hollandaise Sauce for the Salmon, after it had baked. He couldn't decide on vegetables, but after searching through the freezer he found a bag of Sweet Potato Fies and a bag with a mixture of sweet peas and summer corn and decided on those. He expected Stan and Frank no later than 6 pm and he was pretty sure his brother, Jordan, would be dropping off Alan soon.

He was crouching down, looking in the lower oven at the salmon he had slowly roasting in there when he heard someone behind him saying, "Boy, that smells good, what are you cooking?" He spun around and there was Alan with a big grin on his face and several bags from the stores at the mall in Holyoke. Jake told him what was planned for dinner and Alan thanked him for preparing one of his favorite meals. Alan left to put his purchases under the tree and then he came back to the kitchen and asked if there was anything he could do to help, and Jake had him set the table. Alan told him about the shopping trip with Jordan, and having to wait in line for his purchases to be wrapped. They laughed and joked and were in a great mood when Frank and Stan came in a few minutes later. They had been out to the community college in Holyoke where Stan held a semester-long course in TV production every Spring. This year he was incorporating Frank into the course and he would do a segment of the course covering on air presentation. The four sat down to a great meal and were finished about an hour and a half later, with all of them pitching in and cleaning up the kitchen.

After the clearing up the men went to their study to work out particulars of their course on the computer there and that left the young men to go to the fitness center. They jogged over there, and Jake signed Alan in as his guest. He had brought Alan here before, but this would be the first time they had actually stayed for a workout. While using the weight benches and spotting for each other Jake noticed Alan chubbing up as he pumped iron. He was standing by Alan's head, ready to catch the bar should the weights shift, or Alan lost control. He realized that the way he was standing Alan could look right up into the crotch of his shorts, and up the loose-fitting tank top he was wearing. He was getting a little chubbed himself, watching his roommate's sweat trickle into the cropped hair of his armpits and the mound growing in Alan's shorts. Just as he was going to suggest they move to another exercise station Joe came up to say hello.

He and Dillon were in the gym area with Dillon working out as Joe either spotted for him or schmoozed with the patrons of the center. He hadn't known the young men were home from school already and he and the guys chatted for a while, with Dillon coming over after he had done his time on the rowing machine. As Dillon and Joe left, so Dillon didn't cool down too much, they shook Alan's hand, and each gave Jake a hug as they moved on. Alan looked at Jake as Joe and Dillon walked away and said, "How can you let those guys hug you like that?" Jake was stunned, he never had heard Alan say anything like that before, Alan had been around his family for months and seen a lot of hugging between the male members of his family many, many times. He was crushed, he thought he had found his one true love and here he was, days before Christmas, right here in the fitness center, making homophobic comments.

He stood there with his mouth hanging open, on the verge of tears when Alan added to his comment, "Man, those guys are so hot, don't you just want to take them and throw them down and lick every damned muscle on them?" Alan was still staring at  Joe and Dillon as they walked away as his words sunk into Jake's consciousness. His emotions were running wild, the crush he thought he had on his straight roommate, he actually had a chance, if what he just heard was true. He looked in Alan's eyes and said, "Dude, they're like my uncles, that would be so gross, no matter how good looking they are!" Alan looked like he had something stuck in his throat as he realized what the problem was, he'd just inadvertently come out to his supposedly straight roommate, and then he thought his roommate had come out to him. He looked over at Jake and said he thought they had to talk.

They went to the locker room and toweled off their sweat and jogged back up the lane to Jake's home. They sat out on the back-yard patio wall after getting their coats on. The moon was almost full and there were thousands of stars overhead. It was only 40 degrees though, so when they sat on the cold stones of the low wall they naturally gravitated to each other's warmth. They sat close and looked at each other, wondering how to explain themselves to each other, when Jake remembered what I had told him about taking charge and spill his heart out.

Jake told Alan that he loved him, that he felt about him what he had never felt for anyone ever before, he just hoped that Alan could someday feel the same about him, but if not, he would understand, and he'd settle for his friendship. Alan didn't hesitate in telling Jake that he felt the same way, and he had from the moment they met in the dorm room that first day, but he felt intimidated by his hunky dads and then he got to meet his incredible family and friends and he couldn't understand how Jake could ever love him when he was surrounded by all the good-looking men he was. Jake took his cold hand and told Alan he thought he was the good looking one and then Jake got bold and kissed Alan on the lips. They both groaned, and they ended up in a clinch, right there on the stone wall of the patio, in 40-degree winter weather, sharing their body heat through their mouths, under the star-filled sky. Jake's dads were in their bedroom when the guys went in together and after going upstairs they both gravitated to Jake's room on the opposite end of the hall from his Dads'.

The next morning Stan and Frank noticed Jake's door was completely closed and Alan's door was wide open, and his room was empty. They exchanged knowing glances as they went downstairs and started the coffee maker and prepared a hearty breakfast for four. When the two seventeen-year-olds came down a few minutes later they were holding hands and seemed a little dreamy still. They were blushing a little and still holding hands like they didn't want to ever let go, but as they sat next to each other to eat they did, but only for as long as it took for them to eat. After their meal, they told Jake's parents that they were officially a couple, and they foresaw no reason why they shouldn't remain a couple for the rest of their lives. The Dads congratulated them and teased them about waiting so long to open up to each other,as  according to them, they could see the attraction that first day.

The Christmas holiday actually started with Noah and Chris's open house on Christmas Eve. Everyone made it a point to stop by and spend some time and visit. Evan and Chuck were living in the spacious basement apartment with their young son Edward and they, of course, were much more than just employees. They kept the nibbles flowing throughout the evening and their son Ed seemed to blend in with all the other children. They arrived a little behind Jake's dads, but that was only because they had stopped at the gazebo, so Jake could get another taste of his new boyfriend's mouth. They walked up the lane together, gazing up at the star-filled sky as they went. Others were on the lane, walking in the same direction and holiday greetings were exchanged as they all gathered in the big open space of the first floor of Noah and Chris's home. No one missed the two roommates holding hands throughout the evening and subtle congratulations were offered from all.

The holidays were a good time for everyone that year, and after, the two new lovebirds had to return to their campus and their dorm room. They were fairly isolated at the end of their hall and their friends rarely stopped by, so with the permission of their residence adviser they pushed their beds together and they continued their new practice of sleeping together. Nothing else changed, they continued to study together just as they had done, but the change was that now they were both much more relaxed and their grades, already the best of their classes, increased. During the last semester of their sophomore year, they decided they really didn't like dorm life and they resolved to move out for their last two years.

They both had their courses under control and started working on their masters during the summer while they stayed with Jake's parents. Also, that summer they both turned 18 and Frank and Stan took them with them on a trip they had to make for some interviews Frank was committed to doing on various television shows. The boys had a ball at the taping of the Ellen Show and they were even asked to come on stage to meet her after the filming. The trip was 15 cities in two weeks and it created a bond between the two couples that remains today. After the trip, Frank had to go for a network conference and the boys and Stan flew on home. During the next several days they toured a few apartments in Amherst and the pickings were dismal. Then Frank returned home, with a new contract allowing him to spend most of the next year at home, with the network making arrangements for him and Stan to film segments locally, he said he thought that apartment living would be too similar to living in the dorms, especially in a college town. He stated that he had thought of doing another house in the neighborhood to rent out as an income property. So, their focus changed, and they spent time searching through the internet for a suitable single-family home. It was pretty tough going and that weekend the Grands made a generous offer to the two young men. They offered to let them use the third floor, as it was just sitting there. They could have meals with the family if they wanted and they would have their choice of bedrooms, each with their own baths, and there was the study up there with computers and internet access. Frank and Stan had offered them the same deal at their house, only they would have been there, you know, with the dads right there. It just wouldn't be the same as being on their own, creating their own space and responsible for their own needs. That was the same reason they felt they had to politely refuse the Grand's offer.

About that time, I became aware of a house for sale near the entrance to the lane we all lived on. A couple we knew slightly had come in to see me about building a small house on land they owned on the other side of town from where we lived. They wanted some idea of what a smaller house would cost before putting theirs into a realtor's hands. I showed them some of our many plans and they both picked the same one. I worked up the figures on that design and the type of foundation they wanted and showed them the final cost, barring any changes to the plan or fixtures made along the way. They conversed briefly and then asked how long it would take to accomplish. I explained that most of the house they picked was modular and it would only take about three months total from order to move in, accounting for the changes they wanted to be made and the upgrade in the finishes they wanted. They signed our contract and while they were there I phoned in the order for the modular and requested the few changes they wanted. They then left for Dad Noah's realty office, next to his real estate management office.

Noah and Fred met with them and Noah followed them to their home to write up an appraisal and a recommended sales price after viewing the home. The husband of the couple had worked for Dave until his retirement about 3 years ago, and now that the wife was due to retire they didn't want to have that big of a house with two floors and a basement to care for. They wanted a small one-story home to come to when they weren't traveling. The husband had kept the home in great condition and had modernized it throughout the years. It had four bedrooms on the second floor and three bathrooms including the master bath. The first floor had a big open floor plan with kitchen, dining and living room all sharing the space and a half bath off the kitchen hall. That small hallway had a large pantry cupboard and the stairs to the unfinished, but dry basement, it also led to the attached two car garage that had a workshop in the back of it and room for the riding mower they were including in the sale along with the three-year-old appliances in the kitchen. The price they were thinking of asking was extremely reasonable, and Noah thought he knew just the right occupants for the house. He offered the owners exactly what they wanted for the house and he actually took out a check and wrote them a big deposit. They all signed the contract to sell and Noah called Rich and they arranged a closing date for a week from then. The couple was pleased as they had a trip that they wanted to take and now they could add a cruise to the trip and they could always stay with one of their children until their new house was complete. They'd be moved out in two weeks or less. They thanked Noah and he took many pictures to show his prospective tenants.

That night after dinner Chris and Noah stopped by Stan and Frank's and showed the pictures of the interior to Jake and Alan who were staying for the weekend. Jake and Alan really liked the interior shots and asked if it was a townhouse or a house and how far away was it and could they afford it? They all took a breath and Noah explained it was a single-family home with a two-car garage, three and a half baths and four bedrooms, one of which could be used as a study room. It was close to here and about 8 or 9 miles to their school. The price was $900.00 a month, including all utilities and cable and internet. Snow removal and yard maintenance would be provided also as well as trash pickup.

The price was what they would have spent on the dorm and having everything else thrown in was actually making the house cheaper than the dorm. Their only added expense would be food and having the time to cook it. They said in unison that they'd take it. Jake asked when they could see it and Chris said there was no time like the present. Noah made a call and then they all went for a walk. The other four laughed like crazy when they realized it was the house across from the entrance to their lane, they all (except Alan) had driven or walked by this house every day of their lives. The owners were expecting them and graciously allowed them to take a tour of the place. The boys loved it and the grands were pleased that the plan Noah had come up with had worked, and the boys would be close to home, yet on their own. They looked in the backyard and saw the more than generous space was nicely landscaped and totally fenced in. Alan turned to Jake and asked if he could have a dog, and Jake said he could, as long as it was a border collie, as one of the females at the old barn had a litter a few days ago, did he want to go pick out one before Marty gave them all away? They thanked the grands again and told Frank and Stan they'd see them shortly and they took off for the barn to choose a puppy.

The boys did very well in their final exams and they shared the honor of having the two highest GPA of the whole school. They spent the summer going to tag sales and garage sales, estate sales and store closeout sales. They had the use of my pickup whenever they wanted, as long as they left me one of their cars to use. They worked on the material for their masters during their time set aside every day for studying, and they played with the manuscript for a book they were working on for fun. They had the house the way they liked it around the first of August and they hosted an afternoon cookout for the whole family the first Saturday in the month. They were a little nervous, but everything worked out well and they got a lot of nice plants for the house and the flower beds as housewarming gifts. They had asked for no presents, but everyone knew they wanted plants, so they got loads of them. By Labor Day they were ready to return to school as Juniors and they were still the youngest in their class. They studied hard, but they had set an alarm clock in the study, set to go off to remind them to eat.

On Sundays, they spent a lot of the afternoon cooking three different meals and putting them up in containers so all they had to do was heat up leftovers for the rest of the week. Sometimes they would vary the menu a bit by adding something quick to fix or they would accept the open invitation to share Frank and Stan's meal or they would all go somewhere else for dinner. They continued this routine for the whole school year, and then they repeated the previous year's Summer schedule, with not as much emphasis on furnishing the house. As a lark, they submitted their novel's manuscript to a publisher just before they started their Senior year the last week of August. They had each met with their advisers and they were both on track for summa cum laude and possibly receive their masters at the time of graduation, they had so much work done on them. They continued to study hard and devote as much time on their Master's work as they could.

By Halloween, they were ready for a break and they spent some time decorating the outside for the kids in the neighborhood and then had fun handing out candy to the little imps. They slept in that Saturday and then had a late breakfast (or and early brunch) and went to the study to start their work for the next week. They booted up their computers and then checked their emails. They dealt with their regular e-mails and then Jake told Alan he should check the email account they had set up just for the publisher, as they had submitted their manuscript under an alias. Alan did and let out a Whoop! It seemed that the publisher was eager to set up a meeting as they wanted to publish the book! They laughed and hugged and laughed some more. The book was about an older gay man who lived alone in the country and he had never had a lover to make a home with, so after retiring from his teaching job he started to get really lonely in his big old farmhouse in the country and by various means he found himself fostering several children who through their antics kept him active and his brain agile, but the best part was the love that grew between them all, add the sudden appearance of an old friend who had been carrying the torch for him for years and the growing love they developed for each other, as well as the children and you ended up with a cross between THE BIRDCAGE, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN, and THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

The guys didn't really know what to do next, so they called Frank and Stan and asked them to come over. The men arrived, wondering what had the boys so excited, and once they had the full explanation they recommended the lads call Uncle Rich. Jake did that and explained that they needed legal advice, but they had classes Monday that they couldn't miss, could they meet today at some point, here at his and Alan's house? Of course, Rich answered, he wasn't doing anything right then, he'd drive over. They all sat and talked over the situation after Rich had been brought up to speed and he had a chance to see the email from the publisher to the fictitious author they had created. The email suggested a substantial advance and that they saw the possibility of selling the screen rights after publication.

Uncle Rich sat and thought for a while and then asked when the boys had planned on getting married. They sat and looked at Rich and then at each other and asked why he had asked that. He said it was merely a monetary thing, he thought a married male couple who were still in college would probably have a better chance of getting top dollar for their writing and it wouldn't hurt tax wise either. The guys didn't like the idea, but they were smart enough to see the truth of the matter. The Dads told them they could have a civil ceremony that weekend and a more formal ceremony later. The boys saw the reason in that too and agreed to their proposal, so to speak. Uncle Rich called Karen at home and was told she was at her office in the municipal building, catching up on some filing as she had lost a clerk just that week. Brian, her husband, gave Rich her cell number and Rich called her, hoping to catch her before she went home. He talked to her for a few moments. He told her they were both 18 and for legal purposes he was recommending they marry this weekend and she told him she could not only issue their license to marry, but there was a justice of the peace that lived right next to her and she could have her come to her office to perform the ceremony, if they could be there in about a half hour she thought everything could be accomplished. There were several phone calls made while the boys were upstairs changing into better clothes and exchanging kisses, when Alan stopped and said they didn't have any rings!

Jake kissed him again and reached into his bedside table and removed a small box he had been hiding for a year and a half from Alan, never having the nerve to ask for his hand, but knowing they would marry someday, probably after graduation. He handed the box to Alan and he opened it and smiled. He closed it and put it in his pocket, then had a good attempt at coating each of Jake's tonsils with the saliva from his own tongue. The Dads were yelling up to them to get a move on, and they hurried down to be driven to the clerk's office at the municipal building. When they arrived, they filled out the forms and produced their IDs. Karen issued them their marriage license and then introduced them to the Justice of the Peace who would perform the ceremony. She asked where they wanted to do this, and Uncle Rich said that the garden at the Library, just down the street was ready for them all. They all drove there and there was most of the family grouped in the beautiful garden that Ben and Mark had worked so hard on, in memory of Miss White, the librarian who had befriended Ben years ago.

The ceremony was brief but endearing, the boys, sorry, young men, were nervous, but so happy we all felt it in the garden. After she pronounced them legally married the justice of the peace signed the marriage certificate and left for her next appointment. The Grands then invited everyone over for a barbecue reception and we all ended up at the patio by the pool house, celebrating the newlyweds. Jordan teased his younger brother about his "shotgun wedding" and everyone laughed, until Uncle Rich said there was a really good reason for this happening today and the guys planned on having a more formal ceremony later. He then took the newlyweds aside and they planned their strategy for responding to the publisher. On Monday they would go to his office with one of their laptops with the email on it and together they would compose the response. They would meet as soon after their classes as possible to hopefully reach the person at the publishing house in person by phone, if not then they would answer by email.

That Monday the newlyweds rushed about after their last class was over. They split up and Jake went and checked their on-campus mailbox and Alan went to the cafeteria and picked up some sandwiches for their late lunch they would eat on their way to Uncle Rich's office. They met in the parking lot and then made their way back home and proceeded down the next lane to the parking lot in front of the office buildings. Uncle Rich and Aunt Julia met them just inside and ushered them into the conference room after they further congratulated them on their marriage. The guys thanked them and then everyone got down to business. Aunt Julia asked if they still wanted to remain anonymous and when they said they thought they did, that they really wanted to teach and since the novel they wrote wasn't intellectual, but more mainstream entertainment, they thought they should hide their identities. Their legal advisers didn't think so.

They had let Rich have a copy of the original manuscript and he and Julia did think it had redeeming social value, much the same as MRS. DOUBTFIRE or TOOTSIE had, even THE BIRDCAGE. It had a gay-themed protagonist, it had him rescuing children no one else wanted, they functioned as a family and learned how to function in today's society, becoming productive and exemplary members of their community. The book showed the love growing between the two main adult characters, and the fact that these were two 55-year-old men was endearing, even considering Jake's upbringing and the male couples surrounding him. They both thought that it could stand as their doctoral thesis. Jake and Alan took this all in and after a quiet conversation between the two they agreed to not be the anonymous authors they had planned on being, but Jake asked if they couldn't use a pen name, instead of their own names, in case the book became a hit, they didn't need a lot of publicity, they still had a year and a half of school to go through and they really wanted teaching careers. They settled on a name, Jake Alan, a bit of both of them, and Rich pulled the phone to the table and placed a call to the publishing company, using the name on the email account the guys had created to attach to the manuscript when they submitted it. He asked for the woman named on the return e-mail and so began the process of getting the book published.

The figure wasn't huge, $20,000.00, but Julia thought it was promising. They hashed out how they would handle promotion tours (nothing until after graduation), and book signings(the same ) publicity about the authors,(they would agree to only be identified for now by their first names, and no mention of the town they actually lived in. They revealed they were recently married, to each other, and that was it. They had asked that the college they attended not be announced in any way, as they didn't want anything to interrupt their last year and a half of school. The publisher was sure the book would be a big hit and told the guys that it would be included in the titles offered to the movie-making machine as soon as the contracts were all signed, and the advance check was deposited in their account.

So that's how Jake and Alan became the media sensation of the year. Not much was revealed about them at first. The book jacket photo on the back was purposefully kept grainy so there was a resemblance, but not an accurate depiction of the authors. Their bio only stated they attended school in the Northeast and were anticipating graduating soon. It did say they were newlyweds and they were part of a very large supportive family. The book was picked up by a major studio for a huge sum and the guys had retained creative control. They would also receive a percentage of the gross, which in time would make them multimillionaires. They spent their last year and a half of school working in relative obscurity to maintain their high grades and a GPA that was off the roof. They turned 19 the week after they graduated with Summa cum laude degrees and a shared valedictorian honor, their shared speech was hilarious and touching, just as their book was. The book had been the number one seller in fiction for five months when the picture started finally filming and they made several trips to Upstate New York where the filming was happening. They were consulted several times on changes the producer or the studio wanted to make, and they stuck to their guns on some and gave in or redefined others, always for the better. The movie premier was where they made their first public appearance, as it occurred the day after they graduated with their masters on the day they received their 4-year degrees (BA Arts for Jake and BA Science for Alan). As they were preparing to return to their seats they were called back, and they were presented with the current bestseller list, and there was their book, at the number 1 spot. Their summer after graduation was hectic.

They had personal appearances scheduled by the studio and the publishers. They were invited to appear on virtually every major morning show and all the late-night ones. When they arrived to appear on the ELLEN show the producer assigned to them recognized them from when Frank and Stan had them with them on their media blitz two summers ago. She couldn't believe it, and they searched their video file and found a clip from the Dad's appearance where they introduced the youngsters who were standing just below the stage.

In the green room before filming Ellen herself came and visited, helping to make them less nervous, she asked if she had met them before and the production assistant produced the clip and showed Ellen the footage from two years ago. They talked for quite a while and then it was time for the show to begin. They were the lead interview and they were surprised when they were told they were the only guests and clips were being shown from the movie and some others they had come across. Then they were introduced to thunderous applause.

They were shocked to see the audience once they were seated, there were the Gramps with Graham, Zach, Ross, and Sam, the Dads, Jordan and Tommy, and Phil and I had flown out with Pedro and Brady, Frank and Stan. After everyone settled down Ellen asked who the cheering section was, although she said she recognized Frank and Stan she asked Jake and Alan to introduce everyone. You could hear the pride in Jake's voice and Alan's too as everyone was introduced and there were several chuckles when Jake introduced some of the youngsters as his uncles and some as nephews. Alan added that he had the hardest time figuring them all out, but you couldn't ask for a better family to marry into. Then the fun began. The "other clips" were some home movie clips the Grandads and his Dads had supplied and then there were newer ones from when Alan had started coming home with Jake. Then came the photos from their civil ceremony at the library garden, then footage Stan had shot of their wedding in the chapel last summer when they had a chance to do things right, the way they would have the first time if they had had the time. About halfway through the show the focus shifted to the movie and out walked Kevin Klein and Tom Selleck, the two actors who portrayed the retired teachers, parodying their "affair" from IN and OUT, a hit movie from years ago. Jake and Alan admitted that they had written those characters with them in mind and the two older gentlemen thanked them for that. Then, with about 15 minutes to go 10 of the children from the movie were brought out as scenes from the movie played in the background. It was a great show and we all got to meet everyone after.

After the California trip the guys were off for the summer, well, except for a book signing here or there. They really poured themselves into the work on their masters and with the help from their college advisers they had everything completed and submitted to the proper committee by the second week of September. They agonized over the whole process involved in obtaining the title of Dr., and after several weeks of worry, they each received notice that they would be awarded their final degrees at the end of the current semester, just before Christmas, at a ceremony honoring mid-term graduates. Their relief was palatable, and their Dads threw them a huge party, renting out Rob and Glenn's restaurant for a night and letting them deal with the cooking. It was a great party, and everyone congratulated the youngest Doctoral Graduates Amherst had ever produced. It came as no surprise then that Amherst College offered them both positions for the next year as full professors. What was a surprise was that the young men had spent any free time they had writing a sequel to their first novel.

By the end of the year the professors were again asked to do some talk shows and since they had spent many hours getting ahead in their prep for the next semester they told the studio they would do five, but two one week and three the next. It all worked out for everyone, the studio and the film had renewed exposure and the guys got to push the new upcoming sequel. The studio called them after the first of the year and told them that the movie had nominations for both the golden globes and the Oscars. All involved were nominated, along with them as the authors of the original book. They were over the moon and told anyone who would listen that no one had a more productive hobby than they did.

The book came out through the same publisher about a week into the new year and it really took off. The sequel featured the same "family", this time concentrating on some of the children and how they progressed through life and how even as adults they still relied heavily on their dads. The book was as big a hit as the other was and the same studio paid enormously for the rights to bring it to life on the screen. The same stars were contracted to reprise their roles and Jake and Alan had again retained creative rights and the sequel even topped the original in box office sales.

But before the new movie was even a reality there was the award season to be gotten through. The guys had their teaching commitments to keep so filmed scenarios were done with them by the film studio and when the big night for the Golden Globes came we were all at the Grands house watching on the very big screen TV they had installed for the night. The film had several nominations and they swept the awards in every field. Tom and Kevin shared the best actor award and they each thanked Jake and Alan for thinking of them and the guys took the award for best original material. Even the supporting awards were won by several of the young actors and the director award was followed by the topper of the evening, the Best Picture award. Every winner thanked Jake and Alan for supplying the right material at the right time and for all their assistance in making their work better than they thought they could accomplish on their own. The Oscars were a little different, as the boys were encouraged by the College to attend and they prepared their classes ahead of time, so the students wouldn't be put out by their absence. That night we all again gathered at the Grands to watch Jake and Alan walk the red carpet and the brief interviews at a couple of stops along the way They were warmly greeted by Tom and Kevin and Ellen and the studio had them front and center for the whole night. The awards went exactly like they had gone at the Golden Globes, but they actually had to speak in person when they were awarded their Oscar and again say a few words when the movie was awarded Best Movie.

A lot of people in town knew that Jake and Alan were celebrities now and there were some problems, but they usually involved "outsiders" camping out on their lawn, hoping to see them or meet them or photograph them. It truly became unsafe for them, so they decided to finally put their wedding present from the Dads to use.

They combined it with the two acres they had received from the Grands for their graduation and they built their own home on four acres of secluded land the was at the far end of the extended lane, with big iron gates leading to the house. It was a fully fenced property, the first in our neighborhood, but necessitated by their celebrity. Stan and Frank had had a few uninvited guests over the years, but nothing like what was happening to Jake and Alan. To speed things up I ordered a prefab, with their input all along the way, customizing it to their wants. Until the new house was ready they moved into Frank and Stan's house and put a big sign on the front lawn of their rental saying; "We're sorry, Jake and Alan have moved. We don't know where. No, you can't come in, sorry." Alan said they should have done that months ago, as in a month there was only a fraction of visitors still stopping outside the house.

When the new house was finished the guys spent a few months furnishing it and then held a big housewarming party to show it off. There was nothing ostentatious about it, in fact, the only things different were the huge yard and the big iron fence and gates to get in the property. They had security cameras installed and they were monitored by the same company that monitored the whole neighborhood. The boys had a viewing room in the basement that would rival any small theater and, in a niche, there were the awards they had garnered sat.

That summer they would both turn 20. Frank and Stan couldn't be prouder but there was one cloud over the young men. Never in the years since they had sent him off to college at barely seventeen or the year of notoriety since the publication of their book and the success of the movie had Alan heard from his father and stepmother. He had kept them informed all along the way, trying to phone, but never hearing back, he tried to keep in touch by email. They never responded to his invitation to the formal wedding or to visit when he and Jake were anywhere near his former home in Delaware. When the amounts earned by the boys from the book and the movie were published he received a note from his father suggesting that since he was now wealthy he should consider paying his father back for whatever he had spent on his upbringing. Alan was furious, and Jake tried to calm him, but Alan upset was not to be trifled with and he sent his father a silver dollar coin, telling him in an unsigned letter that that was the extent of his father's input in his life since his mother had died and any other funds had been supplied by his mother's trust after she had passed. If he or his stepmother needed any more he suggested they contact his lawyer.

There was no further contact with his father and just after the second movie was released Alan heard through his father's lawyer, contacting Uncle Rich, that his father had suffered a fatal heart attack, brought on by some party drug his 23-year-old stepmother had been supplying him with. She was being charged with murder and the reason for this was not only were the drugs found to have been bought and supplied by her, but everyone she knew had been told by her that his will had been changed to benefit her, rather than his natural son, Alan. It seems there was a son from the marriage, a stepbrother Alan knew nothing about.

The prosecutor for the state of Delaware, in his department's investigation, determined that the father had never changed his will, and had made no separate arrangements for his new wife or son. Rich asked the other lawyer what was going to happen now. The lawyer responded that the stepmother had pled guilty and would be incarcerated for the remainder of her life and the boy would remain in the care of the state, as there were no relatives coming forward to claim the 3-year-old. The estate left to Alan was estimated at close to two million. Rich had asked where the boy was currently staying, and he was informed the lad was already in the care of the state and in a home waiting for a foster placement. He and Rich exchanged contact information and then Rich called Alan and asked him to come over for a meeting. When Alan and Jake went to Rich's office he ushered them into his office right away, stalling those waiting for him. He explained what had happened and then told Alan he had a 3-year-old stepbrother.

Alan was a bit shocked to say the least, especially about the stepbrother. They had never even hinted he had a half-brother. He wondered who he looked like, he wondered what his name was, he wondered if he was cute, he wondered if he should at least go see him. Jake asked what he was so quiet about and Alan said he didn't know exactly, the fact that his father was so gullible to be taken in by his ex-file clerk, the fact they had excluded him from their lives, the fact he had a half-brother he had never seen, he just had to take it all in and become comfortable with it all. He and Jake left for home and there were Alex and Art, walking away from the gates. They stopped the car and asked their nephews to hop in and they'd visit for a bit. The boys eagerly accepted the ride up to the house and the four of them sat around the table, the boys wanting to know when the next book was coming out.

Jake and Alan said they didn't know, they hadn't had much time to plot it all out yet, but why were they so eager to know? The boys explained that they saw the books and the movies as a telling of their lives and they wanted to know how it was all going to end. Art said, "After all, look what's happened since we got rescued from that place, look what has happened to Pedro and Jose and Brady, we never had it so good, and we have really good dads now and a big family, we feel love and so are able to return that love, do you understand how good that makes us all feel? Jake responded that he felt the same when he first came to live with Frank and Stan, with Jordan, it was like being reborn in a better than ever dreamed of life.

Alan was silent throughout this, but he was absorbing what was being said. After the boys had finished their iced tea they thanked their cousins and left, saying they heard Billy was baking that day. Jake laughed as he walked them out, but when he returned to the kitchen Alan was sitting there with tears streaming down his cheeks. He went and knelt down next to him, cradling Alan in his arms. He rocked him and asked if the news of his father's death had finally hit him, and Alan sniffled that no, it wasn't his father he was upset about, it was his half-brother. How could they just put him in a home and expect him to be raised by strangers? What were his father and that drugged out bitch he married thinking? He looked Jake right in the eyes and asked, "Are we ready for a three-year-old? Could we possibly do it and not screw up the kid? Who would take care of him while they were both teaching?" Jake responded, still holding Alan tight and said," We've always said we wanted children, those extra bedrooms upstairs are proof we are physically ready, and I think we have a bunch of advisers all around us if we need help. I think if we asked Miss Loretta might just have room for him at the daycare, I was there for almost three years before I could enter real school, and look what a good job she did for me! If you want your half-brother here, in our lives, we'll go get him, now."

And that's just what they did. Alan phoned Uncle Rich and got all the pertinent information, like the name of the social worker handling the case of his half-brother (Norman, he found out his name was)and the contact information for the lawyer. Jake, meanwhile, had called their studio contact in New York and after a few pleasantries explained that they had to go to Delaware on a family emergency and they needed to know if there was any way the studio could help. The studio rep arranged for a helicopter to pick them up on their front lawn and take them to the airport, where a private jet would be ready for them. It would take about an hour and a half total flying time to get them to the airport nearest where they wanted to go. Jake then called the lawyer and arranged for him to meet them at the airport, they were coming to pick up Alan's half-brother, and they intended to return with him that same day.

The lawyer said he'd meet them with a car and the keys to the house. He'd call ahead to the state-run home and arrange for Norman to be ready. In half an hour they had their ride waiting on the front lawn and they were off. While Jake had been making arrangements, Alan had called his in-laws to let them know what was going on and they encouraged him by saying no matter what, he was doing the right thing. They would call around, while they were gone, and see who might have things a barely 3 year old could use. He thanked his in-laws for this and they both said that he was one of their sons now and there wasn't anything they wouldn't do to help him. He thanked them and told them they'd see them later, he didn't know when, but they hoped it would be today. They grabbed a small bag and left for the lawn to catch their ride. All the connections went smoothly, and they were met by the lawyer as arranged. He had the custody papers all finished except for Alan's signature. As they drove through the streets of Wilmington to the home, Alan signed them, and they reached their destination shortly after. Norm was just a little kid and he didn't know all that was happening, but when Jake and Alan walked into the room he was waiting in he ran right to Alan and hugged his legs sobbing. Alan picked him up, hugging him tight and started getting weepy himself. They sat on a chair and Alan waved Jake over to him. He introduced Norm to Jake and then he got a good look at the boy. With some surprise, he realized Norm looked a lot like he had at that age. He asked Norm how he knew who he was, and Norm replied that his Daddy always said he looked like Alan, so he must be Alan, his big brother, come to save him. Alan and Jake assured him they were, and they were going to take him on an adventure.

But first, they wanted to see if there was anything of Norm's still in the house he had shared with his parents. This wasn't the home Alan had grown up in, apparently, his father and stepmother had sold that and bought a much newer McMansion. The lawyer had presented Alan's custody papers to the state-run facility and they had released Norm to Alan and what amounted to a grocery bag of clothing that had been taken from the house when the stepmother was arrested, and Norm was taken into the custody of the state. The lawyer presented the key to Alan and they entered the house.

It was gaudy as hell and there was not a thing on the first floor they could even think about keeping for themselves or for Norm. They went to the second floor and there Norm pulled them to his room. It was the smallest room in the house, but Norm had his favorite toys there and plenty of clothes. These were all gathered up and taken downstairs. Then they went back up and Norm showed them his daddy's room. There were several nice watches and they packed those all up and some cash in the back of a dresser drawer, about $20,000.00. The lawyer made note of everything.

There was a desk in the corner and in it were envelopes of papers and documents and these were turned over to the lawyer also. The next room was the wife's and here the gaudy was stomach turning. They did look through the small chests on the dresser and there seemed to be a lot of jewelry in them and they also were turned over to the lawyer. Norm walked over to a picture on the wall and said that was mommy's secret hole. The lawyer walked over to it and swung the picture out and there was a wall safe hidden behind the picture. The lawyer said he'd have that opened and have that and the entire house inventoried for probate, since the house, thankfully, was only in the father's name., and with the wife's confession to drugging him it didn't look like she'd have any claim to anything in the house or the garage.

That's the next stop they made. The four-stall garage had 4 nice cars in it and Jake suggested the lawyer contact the Auto Auction Center in Pennsylvania, that was one of the auto auction places his brother Jordan used. The lawyer thanked him and noted the information in his pad of notes. With what they wanted noted by the lawyer Alan made one last trip through the house and found a wedding picture of his parents and one of Norm's parents and he took those too. The lawyer thanked them for taking the time to do all that and Alan said they had to get Norm's stuff, so they had to go there anyway. The lawyer dropped them at the private aviation terminal and there they met the co-pilot who escorted them to the private jet. Jake carried Norm up the stairs and asked him if he was ready for that adventure and Norm grinned at him and nodded his head. They picked three seats next to each other and put Norm in the middle for now. Upon takeoff, Norm held his breath until the two big guys started tickling him which caused him to laugh and take the tension out of him. He climbed up on Alan's lap to look out the window once the fasten seatbelt light went out and the steward brought them a round of drinks and some very good sandwiches, it was six in the evening. About an hour later they were at Bradley Airport and being shown to the helicopter, with the steward rolling the cart with Norm's things on it so the guys could each hold one of Norm's hands and Jake holding their "necessity" bag which now held those expensive watches. The helicopter ride was loud, but short, and they showed Norm where they lived from the window and then they were there, on the front lawn again. They all thanked the pilots and then exited onto the lawn where Jake's Dads were waiting to meet them.

They all settled in the kitchen and Jake set about heating the casserole his dads had brought with them and Alan took Norm up to the room next to theirs upstairs and helped him arrange his collection of stuffed animals and toys on the shelves and the bed where Norm wanted his favorite two bears. They'd deal with the clothing later, but Alan had thought to take some out of the bags and lay them in a dresser drawer for tomorrow and also some jammies for Norm to wear to bed that night. He then took him back downstairs to eat and the Dads stayed with them for a while and then they bid the three goodnight and they went home after inviting them for dinner the next night. They spent time cleaning the little mess in the kitchen and putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher before taking Norm upstairs and giving him the grand tour, so he could find them if he needed to in the night, and showing him the bathroom attached to his bedroom in case he needed the toilet during the night. They put a night light on in the bathroom and a small one in his bedroom, so he wouldn't be frightened in the dark if he woke in the night. They told him if he needed them, to come to their room right next door.

That first night he was a little afraid, but this was so much better than that other place, and he was with Alan, and now Jake too. He liked them both a lot. He did get up to use the toilet once, but he liked his new bed a lot too and he was happy to have his bears back. He snuggled right back in bed with the bears and slept the sleep of the innocent for the rest of the night. In the morning he woke when he felt the bed move and he grinned up at Jake and Alan who were each leaning on a different side of the bed. They asked if he was ready to get up, or did he want to sleep all day? Norm giggled and said he wanted to get up. They each grabbed an arm and hoisted him up and over to the bathroom door where they proceeded to teach him how to shower and to dry off well after. The three then went to the kitchen to see what they could scrounge up for breakfast.

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