Priorities - Book Two

Chapter Twenty-Four: The Camping Trip (Continued)

(A Crossover with Still Another Chance)

Author's Note: When doing a crossover between two stories, every effort is made to keep the stories interconnected yet separate. In some cases this isn't prudent to the story line. The chapters, Priorities Book II Chapter 24 and Still Another Chance 11, have some areas that are virtually identical, but different in many areas. Both authors contributed to the creation of the entire chapter. Please read both stories, you will come across many differences; some more subtle than others.

 

[Author's Note: With the exception of a common word or two, conversations which take place in this chapter in French, will be presented in English for the ease of the reader.]

Twin boys entered the lives of the Duchamps, Noel and Leon. Maurice and Brian headed back to Rapid City so Maurice could pick up some items that he wanted with him in Cody. Eric, from Cody, was caught experimenting with another boy and had been kicked out by his father. He was adopted by one of the owners of Another Chance. but showed signs of fear to any further experimentation. His birthday was on Wednesday, 27 July 2017. The next day, the boys went on a camping trip where they added three to their number. Luke and his two twin brothers, Matthew and Mark, were hiding in the cabin at the lake.

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Roger woke up early on Friday morning to a slight moan. Turning his head, he saw Phoenix still apparently asleep, but lower, inside their conjoined sleeping bags, a telltale lump moving up and down. He smiled, knowing that Eric is well on the way to recovering from his fears.

He kissed his husband who, even though he was still deeply asleep, hugged him tighter. Roger then fell back to sleep knowing all was well in their world.

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Henri and Marine were at their kitchen table talking early, to be able to have a conversation before the twins got out of bed. "We have much to prepare for in the coming week, Henri," Marine espoused, "Roger's old room needs to be redone to accommodate two boys instead of one. Where will they sleep while the work is being done?"

"Don't worry, Mon Ami. You know how things happen. Everything will work out."

"I know, but now I'm a mother… I am allowed to worry," Marine replied with a smile.

They sat to eat their croissants, fruit, and drink their café au lait when Henri's cellphone chirped, indicating an incoming text message.

            Maurice: Please contact me when you're awake.

Moments later, Henri replied: I've been awake for over an hour. If you wish to talk, you may call.

A few seconds later, the telephone rang and Henri answered it. "Thanks for having the consideration of texting first, Maurice. What can I do for you?"

"Well, this may seem like an odd idea, but… Brian and I had a talk last night about the twins."

This piqued Henri's interest so he replied, "Yes, what about?"

"Well, we thought that maybe, it would be a good idea for them to be able to spend some time with Roger before he comes home. I know they just came to you, but… what do you think about them going back to Cody with Brian and me on Sunday and staying with Roger and Trevor until they return on Wednesday?"

Henri gave some thought to it and replied, "I will need to discuss this with Marine, and if she approves, call Mr. Miller, our attorney. He will most likely need to contact Mrs. Masterson since the boys, who are technically wards of the state, would be leaving the state for a couple of days. I will check and let you know, hopefully, later today."

"That sounds good; those two boys are really precious."

Henri smiled, "Yes, they are. I'll talk to you later." Then he ended the call.

He explained to Marine what was said and she smiled. "You said it would work out."

About that time, two rambunctious 11-year-olds, clad only in their white briefs, came running into the kitchen.

"Bonjour, Mama. Bonjour, Papa." They said in unison. Noel went to Marine and Leon went to Henri giving them kisses on the cheek and morning hugs. As one, they switched and did the same for their other parent. "We're hungry."

The family sat and enjoyed a typical French breakfast together. The first of many to come.

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Nick turned to his husband who was lazily sipping on a cold drink while basking in the sun in their villa. He turned his head and said, "It's been nice being away, but I really miss Trevor and Roger."

"I know, my love, but we'll be going home on Sunday, and they'll be back on Wednesday. We need to make sure their wedding gift is completed. I left the final touches to you, since you'd just have changed things I'd had done when you got home," he laughed.

"You're right. I know what Trevor and Roger like far better than any interior designer who'd never met them. But I still miss them."

About that time, they heard the ring of a telephone. Everyone knew they were on honeymoon. Bobby went to find his cellphone and when he did, he saw that he'd missed a call from his father.

Returning to Nick, he told him that Nate had called and if so, it must be important so he decided to call him back.

Bobby dialed, putting the call on speaker, "Hi Dad, what's up?"

"Well, there's been some developments I thought you should know about. Two of them, actually."

"What sort of developments?" Nick asked.

"Well…" Nate paused, "Roger had to be rushed to the hospital…"

Before Nate could continue, Nick exclaimed, "Oh No! What happened?"

Laughing Nate continued, "Well, if you'd let me finish I would have told you… but, he got bitten by an insect and had a severe allergic reaction. He was in the hospital overnight and he's fine now. Trevor was beside himself with worry, and once Roger was brought to a room, he was beside his husband the entire time."

"Thank God, what's the other development?" Nick asked.

"Well, how should I put this… Marine has twins."

"She's pregnant?" Nick exclaimed in question.

"No, but nonetheless, she has twins. Her cousin passed away and her twin boys, eleven-year-olds, are going to be living with her and Henri. I haven't met them yet, but if it works out, they'll be coming here on Sunday to stay with Trevor and Roger until we head back on Wednesday morning."

"Thanks for the update, Dad. Anything else?" Bobby asked.

"Only one thing, remember the money we donated to the Home?" Nate inquired.

"Yes," Bobby replied hesitantly.

"Your son took the liberty of making one investment decision for you, and me for that matter. The net result was, with the investment he made, and the programmed exit from it, he's made back for us all of the money you, he and Roger, and me gave to the home in less than 48-hours, and then some. That boy is simply amazing. He told Brock Radcliffe about the deal and from what I understand he made back twice what he donated."

"You're right, he's an amazing boy. We'll talk to you on Monday when we get home, Dad. See you on Wednesday. We love you, and tell Trevor and Roger we love and miss them." Bobby ended the call.

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George Miller sat back after receiving the call from Henri Duchamp. He then picked up his phone and dialed. Within a few moments it was answered, "Masterson… how can I help you."

"Mrs. Masterson, this is George Miller. I just received a call from Henri Duchamp. I didn't think there'd be a problem with his request, but I felt it prudent to run it by you, since it involves the twins, who are technically still wards of the state. The Duchamps would like to give Leon and Noel the opportunity to meet their brother, Roger, prior to his return from Cody, Wyoming. They told me they needed to have some work done in the boys' room and this would afford them a couple of days so the boys would not have to be sleeping in the room while work is being performed. They'd be staying at the Another Chance Boys' Home in Cody. It's a fully accredited group home for homeless teenage boys."

Mrs. Masterson listened to the request, but wondered, "Why is Roger there?"

"First off, the family that runs the home have been friends of the King family for over a year. The group home is one of the places they've donated money to. Secondly, they were there for Trevor and Roger's wedding."

"Well, I appreciate you thinking of me, but, the temporary custody order signed allows the Duchamps full parental authority. Basically, if a parent could authorize their natural child to do something, then they can authorize the twins to do it. My only concern is that they are provided for and kept safe."

"Thank you, Mrs. Masterson, that's how I interpreted the order as well, but in cases like this, it's better to have CPS on your side, instead of against it. I will inform Henri and Marine that, if they feel it would be safe for the boys to go, that they may."

After ending the call, he called Henri and gave him the news.

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Henri called up to the boys, "Noel, Leon, please come down so I can talk to you."

Moments later, the clomping of four feet was heard running down the stairs, the boys burst into the room with smiles on their faces. Henri asked them to take a seat.

"Boys, I need you to pack some things, you'll be leaving early Sunday morning to go to Cody, Wyoming."

Noel looked at Henri, his eyes wide, for a moment before bursting into tears and running from the room. Henri watched him go with surprise for a moment before turning to Leon.

Leon was sitting there, tears running down his face. He swallowed hard and asked, "W... w... why do you want us to leave? We thought you wanted us to stay here. Did we do something wrong? Just tell us and we'll promise never to do it again!"

Henri was dumbfounded. It took him a moment to realize how what he'd said could have been misinterpreted. He moved over, sat next to Leon and wrapped an arm around the boy. "Mon Petit Garçon… We're not making you leave… let us go to your brother and I will explain it better this time."

Henri stood and Leon reached up to him. Henri lifted the boy up who wrapped his arms and legs around his new 'Papa,' burying his head on the man's shoulder. Henri carried him up to the bedroom the boys had been sharing. He set Leon on the bed then sat next to the boy. He pulled Noel into his arms and hugged the crying boy.

Then with one boy on each side, his arms wrapped around their shoulders, heads buried into his side he explained…

"I am very sorry if I wasn't clear enough before. What I meant to tell you is that your brother, Roger and his husband Trevor are visiting in Cody, Wyoming. Mama and I thought it would be good for you two to have the opportunity to visit with him alone for a couple of days. In the meantime, we can have your room worked on to make it more comfortable for both of you since it was originally designed for Roger alone."

The two boys looked up with their reddened eyes. Noel then choked out, "S-s-so you're not sending us away forever?"

"Non, mon petit choux. Mama and I want you to live with us until you're grown and decide to start a life for yourself. You are our family and we love you."

Next thing Henri knew he had two boys hugging him from opposite sides. Henri didn't even worry about the tears running down his face as he saw Marine standing in the doorway in much the same condition.

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Trevor and Roger were relaxing on the shore of the lake as Patrick got out of the water and was looking around. He called out to the boys still swimming, "Do any of you see Jake?" The only response he received was many of the boys shaking their heads. Patrick started calling out to Jake, hoping that he wasn't under the water. Then he called out to Matthew and Mark, relieved a little when they didn't answer either. As he started looking for them, the boys in the water started coming out, some looking under the surface before they did. The boys in the canoe came to the dock; Luke started worrying since Patrick was yelling for his brothers as well as for Jake.

The boys were nowhere to be found around the cabin, so Patrick got dressed. He didn't feel like traipsing through the woods naked. As he finished dressing, Luke ran up to him, "You start looking for them and once I am dressed, I'll join you." Patrick started heading toward one side of the lake as Trevor and Roger left, heading in the opposite direction around the lake.

 Trevor and Roger returned after looking for Jake and the twins, finding Patrick's group back with the missing boys. Trevor started working on making lunch for the guys.

Roger remarked, "Do you think Eric and Phoenix will be back in time to eat?"

"I'll make enough, just in case." About that time, Xander volunteered for he and Tim to make lunch.

Shortly after he started, he saw Eric's 'car' returning, Trevor welcomed the two back, "I thought you'd be back for lunch so I planned to fix enough for the two of you, but Xander and Tim took over the grilling, so I asked them to cook enough. Did you have fun with your grandparents?"

"We sure did, and Grandpa approved of me," Phoenix blurted out. Eric laughed and nodded his head.

The rest of the day, the boys swam and made plans for Saturday. Before going to bed, they made a campfire and cooked marshmallows. Patrick had a private chat with Luke and explained the situation. Luke was a little upset but agreed to have a chat with all three boys. Patrick explained what he had in mind and Luke agreed that it might be beneficial. Patrick approached Trevor and Roger next. Jake chatted with Matthew and Mark, while some of the older boys told stories.

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The next morning, Phoenix and Eric decided to start the fire for breakfast. Things started getting away from them and the fire was much larger than they anticipated. As the boys woke up, they commented about the blaze, then ran to the tree line. Trevor walked over with a couple of strong sticks, pulled a log out of the grill, into the sand, where he then smothered the fire. He looked at Phoenix and chuckled, "You should have seen the first time I tried fixing breakfast for Dad and Daddy. Fortunately, it never combusted, but you should have seen the smoke. At least this wasn't in a house."

Trevor assisted them, but let Eric and Phoenix fix breakfast. Several boys commented about how they liked Trevor allowing others to do it, even though he bought almost everything. Trevor just played it off like he was just being a friend, nothing special.

As they ate, Luke suggested that they get dressed and take a hike to enjoy being in the woods. Tim suggested, "Make sure your legs are completely covered. You may even want to tuck your pants into your boots. I don't know about these woods, but Wyoming does have ticks, which carry some severe diseases. After the hike, I suggest that we partner up and check each other for ticks, just to be safe."

Mark looked at Jake and assured, "Matthew and I will be sure you don't have any ticks."

"And I will check both of you out."

Once everyone was dressed, Tim checked the younger boys to be sure their pant legs were tucked into their boots. He figured the older boys were smart enough to take care of themselves. Xander smiled as he thought about the kind of dad Tim will be. The more he got to know about Tim, the more he was happy that Tim wanted to date him.

Patrick approached the three boys. "When we get back from our hike and have made sure no one has any ticks, Luke, Trevor, Roger and I would like to have a chat with you three."

"About?" Matthew asked.

"It's OK, they just want to talk with us about what we were doing yesterday. They're not mad, but think it would be a good idea if we all talk,"

"Since Jake says it's OK, then I say it's OK," Mark declared.

The boys returned to the lake and stripped. They made sure everyone was checked and no ticks were found. Once they were certain of that, Patrick grabbed Jake's hand, Matthew and Mark followed. They went some ways from the camp, where Luke, Xander, Trevor, Roger and Scott were waiting. Jake was a little surprised to see Scott had joined them, but he also thought Scott might be helpful. "You boys sit on the log please," Patrick requested. "I'm going to start by saying that none of you are in trouble, but we want to discuss this with you before you get too carried away."

"We remember what it was like when we were your age. We all wanted to try things that we saw older boys doing. I'm glad that Patrick was my first kiss, and first of everything else, but I also wish that I would have waited longer. All of us are growing up too fast."

Trevor explained, "There is nothing wrong with what you boys did, but you may want to hold up doing such stuff. Have fun being a kid and just playing for a while longer."

"Don't give up your innocence just yet," Luke added. "What we are trying to say is, while there is nothing wrong with loving one another, when you get older, you will wish that you waited, just be friends and play with toys for now."

"Are you disappointed with us, Lukey?" one of the twins asked.

"Never, no matter what you do, or don't do, I will never be disappointed with you two. I love you guys. But I hope you don't try growing up so fast."

"Why did you boys go so far from the cabin?" Xander asked. "If it was because you thought any of us would be upset… first, you were wrong to think we would be upset, and second, that should have suggested not to do it."

Jake looked down, "That is why we did. We're sorry."

Xander lifted Jake's chin up, "It's OK, Little Dude, but know that we were once your age. In the future, please come talk to any of us, first. We will never get mad because you ask questions. Understand?"

Jake gave a smile and held his arms out for a hug. Xander complied. Roger finished up the chat, then the boys went back to the cabin and Trevor started fixing lunch. The rest of the day went fast and their last night sleeping at the lake was upon them quickly.

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After spending the night Friday night, doing what lovers do, Maurice and Brian spent their time packing up those items Maurice wanted to bring back to Cody. Brian loved the fact that Maurice explained about his life and the importance of things he had and some of the history behind some of the items.

Once the task of packing was complete, Maurice prepared a light lunch, which the pair shared, along with a nice bottle of wine. They discussed how they would prepare for the return trip to Cody, the next day.

As they were finishing, Maurice's phone began to ring. He answered it and Brian watched as Maurice began a conversation in French. He could tell that Maurice was puzzled at first, but in the end, was very pleased at what was being discussed.

When the call ended, Maurice explained that it had been Henri on the phone and he had confirmed that the twins would be going to Cody with them.

They left Maurice's and went out to do some sightseeing. They spent the bulk of the afternoon with Maurice showing Brian the sights. When they'd finished, they headed to Chez Henri for dinner.

When they arrived, they were greeted by the twins, dressed in suits. Their 'hosts' showed them to a table and wished them a good meal. Brian couldn't get over how cute the pair were. He was looking forward to spending the time with them, getting to know them better on their way to Cody.

As they were eating, Henri stopped by the table. He took a seat and asked Maurice when he was planning on leaving for Cody.

Maurice explained that they were going to pack up the SUV with his possessions early Sunday morning and should be hitting the road well before noon. Henri said he'd have the twins ready to go by ten that morning, receiving approval from Maurice that it would work into his schedule perfectly.

Shortly afterward, Noel and Leon came back to the table and took seats.

The brothers were all smiles. Brian asked if they were excited about their trip.

"Oui! We cannot wait to meet our brother!"

Noel interrupted his brother before he could continue, "Do they have horses?"

"They have many, I bet that Roger can arrange for you to go riding before you go home on Wednesday."

This was met by more excitement from the boys. They talked for a bit longer then Maurice told them he'd see them Sunday morning.

The boys went and, in turn, gave Brian and Maurice hugs before walking them to their car, waving as the couple headed home.

"Those two are so precious." Brian gushed as they were leaving. Maurice could only agree.

Arriving back at Maurice's, they sat on the couch and watched some television cuddled together. When their program was over, Brian winked at Maurice, took his hand and led him to the bedroom.

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