That was a strange day for both Alan and Norm. Jake couldn't have been happier, judging by the miles wide smile he was sporting as the three visited the neighbors on their way down the lane to the riding center and beyond. They encountered someone outside at just about every house and Phil and I were outside having a game of catch with Brady and Pedro. We hailed the trio as they walked the lane with Norm between the two young men, holding onto their hands. The trio stopped, and we were introduced to the little fellow and we offered coffee for the adults and freshly baked buns for the children with milk of course. We visited, and heard of their whirlwind trips the day before, and while our boys showed Norm their game room, we asked what their plans were for Norm and we were told they had obtained guardianship of him and intended to raise him.
I asked if they had thought of Miss Loretta's daycare and they said they had and would call her on Monday to see if she had room for him. I went to the kitchen phone and picked out her number from the speed dial menu and pushed the button. We were chatting as Phil was encouraging Jake and Alan to ask Uncle Rick about adopting Norm, just to cover all the bases and give Norm the security he needed, after losing his parents and being put in that institution for two weeks until the lawyer had verified Alan's existence and whereabouts. I asked Miss Loretta to talk to the guys and she agreed to, so I put Jake on and explained I had her on the line.
He spoke to her for a while and then Alan did, and she agreed to take the 3-year-old into daycare starting Monday. The boys came rushing back to the kitchen with Norm telling us all what treasures he had seen in the playroom and then they said their thanks and continued on their walk. They saw Helen and Terry working on their flower beds and Helen was thrilled they had Alan's brother with them and in talking with them she agreed with Phil that adopting Norm would legally be the best option for him, and them, especially if some relative of the mother eventually tried to claim him. They thanked her for her advice and Terry said she thought there was a surprise for Norm at the old barn on the other lane so they ended up there. Marty and Mike were spending some time in the barn doing Marty's morning chores together when they arrived, and Marty pointed to the last stall and told them they better hurry, they were going fast. Alan and Norm fell in love at first sight as they saw the remaining three puppies from the last litter that Jake and Alan were going to look at last month, but never got around to it. They selected a pretty female they named Daisy. She was housebroken, and leash trained Marty assured them, and she would learn her name soon. He gave them her papers and they tried to pay him for her, but he said the family owned all the animals, so he couldn't take their money. Marty supplied a leash for Daisy and a bag of food until they could get to the store. They all thanked him profusely and started their trek back home. By the time they'd reached the woods between the two lanes it became apparent that Norm had had an exhausting day already, and it was just noon. Alan had the bag of dog food, so Jake lifted Norm up over his head and settled him on his shoulders. That woke little Norm up a bit and he wrapped his little arms around Jake's head and laid his head on Jake’s as they walked home, Daisy on her lead and staying close. When they arrived inside the gates Alan let Daisy off the lead and she still stayed close to Norm when he was put on his feet. They set up Daisy in the kitchen and pulled out some bowls for her water and food. They used an older bath mat for her bed, in a little-used corner of the big room and after she had some water she went to the patio doors and stood there. Jake knew what that meant, and he praised her and let her out into the yard. She gave one bark to come in when she was done, and Jake gave her a treat. She then went to her bed and crashed. That was what Norm was doing in his bedroom, but just like all the Major boys, he wasn't taking a nap, he was just resting.
Jake and Alan prepared a light lunch and they were just setting the table for it when they heard giggles coming from upstairs. It pleased them, hearing the joyful noise, but they wondered what he was so happy about. They crept up the stairs to peek in Norm's room and they laughed out loud at what they were seeing. Daisy was on the floor with Norm and they were both lying down, but Daisy was laying on Norm's chest, licking his chin like crazy. Apparently, this was tickling Norm and he was enjoying the heck out of it. The two older guys laughed along with Norm and told him he should go and wash up for lunch and to take his dog down to the kitchen. He hopped up off the floor and went into his bathroom and using the small stool he could reach the faucets and he washed his little hands and face, hopping down and drying his hands and face off he called to Daisy too, "Come on, let's go eat"! Daisy had watched his every move and she scurried to keep up with him as he reached the stairs. He wasn't quite able to just pick her up and carry her on his arm like he had seen both Jake and Alan do, but he just reached down and hugged her to him and toddled down the stairs with her. The older guys passed him on the way, making sure they were both alright, and they were there to catch them at the bottom and carry them into the kitchen. Daisy was set on her bed and told to stay, and the three humans sat for their lunch. Later that afternoon as the two men graded their student's work, Norm played with Daisy in the corner of the study. He was trying to get her to play with some of his toys, but she was more interested in him and the teddy bear he had with him, which was just about her size. They paused in their work and discussed what to do with Daisy when they went to Frank and Stan's for dinner in a while. They decided that they really needed one of those large cages for her, especially for when they had to work, and Norm was at Miss Loretta's. The only rooms they could close her off in were the bedrooms and the bathrooms. Then Alan thought of the laundry room on the second floor, it had a tile floor, in case of an accident, and they could put her "bed" in there with her. They tried a trick they had heard about somewhere and they put the t-shirt Norm had worn all day onto an old bed pillow they had and put that on her mat. They redressed Norm and cleaned up themselves before the new family went down the lane for a dinner with Jake's dads. They had a good time and a good meal before going home to see how Daisy had done on her own in the laundry room. She had weathered their absence very well apparently because when Jake peeked in the laundry room, Daisy was curled up on the t-shirt pillow fast asleep.
There were no incidents that Saturday night and the next morning they fed Norm and his dog, putting Daisy in the laundry room after she had a chance to be outdoors to do her business. They took Norm to church and because it was the early mass there weren't too many family or friends there, but the ones they encountered were charmed by Norm and he tried to wave to several of them throughout the mass. After church Jake and Alan fixed them all some breakfast and they let Norm play with Daisy until she indicated she needed to go outside again. Once that was taken care of they placed Norm in the borrowed child seat and back to the laundry room Daisy went. They shopped for a dog cage for Daisy and other accessories she'd need, and they invested in a dog house for her because they knew that eventually, she would be more comfortable out there in good weather. They then went and got Norm the supplies Miss Loretta had suggested he'd need for daycare at her place and then they went to the hardware store and picked out a doggy door and an outdoor kennel for the dog.
Her dog house would fit inside the kennel at one end and if it rained while they were away from home she'd have shelter in there. Before going home, they stopped at the grocery store and shopped for the week ahead. By this time Norm had gotten used to the carts and when he saw them he raised his arms up to be lifted into the built-in seat. He wasn't sure what some of the things in the grocery were, but the guys seemed to know what they wanted, and they assumed Norm would let them know if he didn't like something they had picked out. Following their set routine, they prepared several entrees for the week, making only minor adjustments for Norm being with them now. There were a few side dishes they could prepare ahead of time and they did that too, again taking into consideration they had another mouth to feed. Norm was fascinated that they could cook food and he wanted to know what they were doing at every step. They were very good teachers and they enjoyed having Norm absorbing everything they told him. They didn't have time for a horseback ride that day, but they vowed they'd do so soon, they just had to get into a new schedule.
They talked to Norm a lot about Miss Loretta and her daycare and about the children they knew who went there and all he could do and learn there. They told him that Jake had gone there and look at him now. Norm looked at the food splattered Jake over from head to toe and was he an adult, they just knew he'd be laughing like mad at that.
The next morning, they both took Norm into Miss Loretta's daycare and saw him settle in. They showed him on the clock when they would return and with hugs all around they were off to the college. Their day dragged on and on until they both left the college to pick Norm up. Part of their office time was spent with one or the other phoning Uncle Rich and finding out their options as he saw them and telling him to start the adoption process. They also gave him permission to handle all the legal aspects of handling the estate left to Alan. They also checked in with Uncle Sean and asked him to set up a trust for Norm, as there was no mention of him in his father's will and they wanted to make sure he would be provided for in the future. While on the phone with Uncle Sean he mentioned that the film rights to the sequel had been settled and they had garnered a million more than for the original movie, with the same percentage deal worked out. The contract only needed Rich's approval, and since he had drawn up the document in the first place he was sure there would be smooth sailing on that. He went on to say that their accounts showed that their ready cash exceeded a million and their trusts and investments totaled over 35 million to date. They were pleased, and they resolved to find some free time to continue working on book three.
When they were able to pick up Norm a little early they were not ready for the reception they received. He ran to them and hugged each one, telling them he missed them all day long, could he stay a little longer and keep playing with his friends? His friends were Noah and Chris, Walt and Billy's three-year-olds, who spent two or three days a week at Miss Loretta's depending on their parents' workload. Now they didn't know what to do, let him play with his friends, or drag him home to watch them work and fix dinner? They were saved from making that decision when Billy came in to pick up his boys and invited Jack and Alan to bring Norm to the old barn to see the ponies. They warned him about the puppies and he said he had that covered, Walt was allergic, and their boys knew they could play with them there at the barn, but they couldn't take one home. The three adults talked and caught up as their boys played and then it was really pick up time as other parents arrived to claim their own child, or children.
The three men and the three boys bade their goodbyes to Miss Loretta and walked down to the barn to see the ponies. Norm was surprised to see them there, he hadn't even noticed them really the other day, he had had only eyes for the puppies and his own Daisy. He was just as happy as his new friends to get to sit on one of the ponies. They had a fun time with the adults leading them around the indoor ring on their mounts, pretending they were cowboys. The kids had a great time and the adults got to visit and exchange experiences. Jake and Alan learned a lot from Billy that afternoon and they continued to become even closer as time went on, their shared experiences as dads of young ones cementing their already strong bonds. Walt would sometimes say, when the two couples were all together, with their boys, that the three doctors often learned as much about parenting from Billy as they did from practical experience with their own children, as he spent much more time with their boys, even taking them to the riding center when he had students to train there.
Uncle Rich called a few days later, telling them that the adoption notices had been placed in papers in Delaware and after these notices had been run there was no reason to not proceed with the process up here and make them Norm's official parents. After the notices were placed and no response was heard from Norm's mother's family the adoption went through and Norm became the legal son of Jake and Alan. There was a party at the Grand's house to officially welcome Norm to the family and everyone was happy for the new family. Norm was a little confused at first, he had just gotten used to having these big brothers and now he was being told they were his new dads. It was funny to hear him address them at first, but he adapted soon, and everyone settled into their new life.
The third book in the series took a few months longer, but Alan and Jake were having so much fun with Norm that having free time to write it competed with the time they needed for their work at school, running their household and spending time with Norm. This third installment of their saga was also snapped up by the same film studio and the movie again swept the awards in all the major categories. The guys again were feted in Hollywood, but this time they had a son to share some of the spotlight with. Norm was a hit on Ellen as he basically stole the show. When the three walked out on stage he broke free from his dads and ran up to Ellen, saying "I see you on TV a lot! Are you going to talk to my Dads?" He was a big hit and was very unfazed by his sudden celebrity. The three of them were asked to be on several shows after that and when the taping was too late for Norm many hosts offered afternoon tapings to accommodate his schedule. By the time their promotional tour was over the young family was more famous than ever, and their security was becoming a problem for all on the lane. It was decided by vote that the lane would be reconfigured. The original access would be kept for the businesses, but the residential portion of the lane would have a new origination from the main street and this would be gated. Although the gate would be operated by remote control, there would be a guard station at the gate and it would be manned twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Alan and Jake insisted on paying for all this, as well as a security guard to patrol the lane every hour. They didn't want to move, and no one on the lane wanted them to have to. They all figured the notoriety would die down eventually.
The fact that Norm had been on TV did nothing to change him, except he now had some new friends, and when he returned to Miss Loretta's and his friends it was back to normal very quickly for him. Miss Loretta had let the other children watch him on daytime TV and he did get to say Hi to them all and wave to them, he had missed seeing and playing with them. He fit right back into being at home and among all his new family and friends. His dads had contemplated moving onto the campus in housing offered by the college, but they had built the house they lived in, they had friends and family all around them, and they loved the town and the people who lived there. They decided to try something else. They told the studio and publishing house publicity agents they were moving and that due to the fans and curiosity seekers they were not announcing where they were moving to. They bought a piece of property in Amherst, off the beaten path, and made the house and access road to the property secure and secretly rented it out to another member of the faculty and her family to live in. Then they waited to see what would happen. It worked a charm. They had "sold" their house to a company (theirs) and now there wasn't a way for the public to find them on paper. Things did calm down and the other residents of the lane were happy about that, but now they all pitched in to pay for the security teams as they not only liked the service, but their insurance premiums had dropped dramatically.
Fortunately, Noah and Chris had foreseen something like this happening, but they thought it would happen on their lane first, because of their wealth and the unique nature of the buildings there. Before anyone outside of the town residents made the connection between the lanes and their inhabitants to Jake and Alan, they had instituted the same security measures, gates at each end of the lane and security at each end and an hourly patrol. The only regular visitor was the mailman and he was not only known to the residents of both lanes, he had been dating Miss Loretta for years and was always included in family gatherings she would attend.
The situation with outsiders trying to gain access to the famous authors was contained before anything really disastrous happened and with their sneaky diversion working so far, they settled into family life with their son. Everything settled down at home and the neighboring lane. During this time the third film came out and it too was a big box office hit. The book and movie both won several awards and the two older actors each garnered supporting actor awards (these sequels focused on the lives of the children of the family). The authors were lauded again and this time around no mention of where they lived was made in the press or on the air. They were asked to take Norm to California to be once again on Ellen, but the guys absolutely refused, citing security issues and a day later Ellen herself called and they worked out an agreement where she would meet them wherever they wanted, and she would have a film crew with her to tape a segment. They, in turn, invited her and a guest to spend a weekend with them and then they could use the network's affiliate station in Springfield for the interview, or the studio that Stan and Frank used which their network maintained.
Since she had connections with that network also, that was what they agreed upon. Ellen and Portia would spend the Fourth of July weekend with Alan and Jake and they would film a sit-down interview on that Monday. The weekend arrived and when Norm was home from daycare he was told they were having company for the weekend. Their guests were transported by the studio helicopter to their front lawn. They arrived in time for the family dinner which the guys had started from their pre-cooked meals when they brought Norm home from preschool. They greeted their guests and Norm first went to the pilot and co-pilot and said his hellos and then looked at the two women and went to Ellen for a hug and he told her he knew her from TV and she, in turn, introduced him to her wife. They all gathered pieces of luggage and then entered the house. They visited as Alan and Jake set the table and served up the meal. After everyone had dinner they all got their guests settled in the spacious guest room and its private attached bathroom. Once all were settled and they had a chance to freshen up, the men led everyone on a walk down the lane.
Various houses were pointed out to them and they were taken to the other lane for a walk there as well. After Norm had given good night kisses he and Daisy went to bed and the adults sat around the family room chatting. Jake gave Norm about 15 minutes to get settled in his room and then went up to tuck him in. He rejoined the adults and they explained about the two lanes and the family members and friends who inhabited the homes. Ellen was eager to see the family and they explained they would all meet at the Grand's house the next afternoon at the annual 4th of July picnic. They had a very pleasant visit, and everyone got to know each other much better. The next day they went to the barn and they rode in the indoor ring with Norm sharing first Alan's saddle, then Jake's. They cleaned up a bit and then strolled up to the Grand's house. The gathering was a huge success and Ellen got to renew her acquaintance with Frank and Stan and re-met the Grands. Everyone got to meet them and both ladies were very gracious. It didn't take long for them to fit right in and soon it was time to eat. A good time was had by all and soon it was time for the fireworks.
They could have had their own, but they had a spot on the other lane, past Alan and Jake's house they could go to and still see all the pyrotechnics from the town's display, but much more privately. A basket was packed with snacks and off they were, through the woods to the other lane. When they arrived at the spot, there were Kevin and Matt and Jose just settling in on their blanket. Introductions were made all around and everyone enjoyed the show. Saturday the women had made arrangements with Beth and Mary and Terry and Helen for an outing and they returned about 4 pm, just in time to shuck corn for the dinner the guys had begun to put together. Another fun evening for everyone and then Sunday the males all went to church and put on a big breakfast for their guests when they arrived home.
After breakfast, Ellen asked Alan and Jake what they thought of filming some segments here, some at the barn, maybe at the gazebo, with that spectacular view in the background. They agreed it would make great TV, but they had the privacy of everyone who lived here to take into consideration. Ellen then suggested they use Stan, just Stan, to film them in conversation at the gazebo, not out in the lanes. Then he could do a segment in one of the houses if the lighting was right. The guys thought that would work, so they called Stan. He teased that he needed a day off, and they laughed at him, because they never had seen him without some kind of camera on him. He agreed and asked if they wanted a nice day shoot or an evening one with the sunset behind them for the gazebo segment. They chose the daytime option for the lighting and so that's what they did. The segments were sent to the network's affiliate for editing and shown on the next Tuesday, after the houseguests had returned to California. It was a big hit, and everyone had enjoyed their visit. After the interview aired the guys had some thinking to do.
They had realized that what they enjoyed most was their writing together, but they also knew that they loved teaching. They came to a decision around the end of July and they informed the president of the college as soon as they could get a meeting with him. They outlined their ideas and wants, and the president knew if he didn't agree he would lose not only one, but both of them from his faculty. They produced the manuscripts for their new projects and he was suitably impressed and called for their department heads to join them. The upshot of the meeting was the guys would each teach a freshman and a senior class in their fields, hold a manuscript writing seminar once a semester, and would devote as much time as possible to produce two textbooks, one for English composition and the other a beginning college level text for the science department. They would remain members of the faculty and would receive ten dollars a year as salary, a figure suggested by them. All campus resources were open to them and each would have an assistant assigned to them, one of their choosing, and a secretary and one office they would share. Cutting their class loads from fifteen each a week to about six each was a huge relief in itself, and a donation made by them of a 10-million-dollar trust went a long way to getting everything they wanted out of the college. They spent the rest of the summer collaborating on the textbooks and a fourth and final book in their series. The publisher had asked for a completed manuscript by Christmas and they knew just the direction they wanted to steer their fictitious family for the last installment of their saga.
The class "plans" were easily adapted from what they had used in the past, and they each made sure to make them as "up to date" as possible. That and choosing their assistants and a secretary occupied most of August and any spare time was spent with Norm or developing their outline for the new sequel to their novel. By the end of the first week in September, their shared office was established in an unused corner of the main library on campus. This building was midway between the English and Science departments and it made it easier for students to find them during their office hours. Their secretary was a super-efficient young woman whose husband was a grad student working on his doctorate in the history department.
She was completely computer savvy and had no problem working off the computer files they gave her access to, but only for their college work and the textbooks. Their assistants were a couple of students working on their doctorates and both assistants and their secretary were older than Jake and Alan. They all had some good laughs about that and they all eventually became close friends. They hadn't taken Norm to the campus during the school year, but if they had to be on campus during vacation times he often accompanied them and he became a mascot at the office and eventually the library where he was often heard telling anyone who would listen about his Uncle Ben and his library and how it was better because it had furniture his size and great picture books his Uncle Ben would read to him.
The reduced teaching load gave them plenty of time to finish the last sequel and it really touched our hearts when they let us read it before they sent it off to the publisher. The publisher, after getting the manuscript, called and said it was the best one yet, and please consider writing another saga, for him, if not the public. The book release date was March first and by March third there was a call from Uncle Sean who was not only their financial adviser, but he had handled the negotiations for the other books and movies. He had taken a call from the movie studio and they had made them an offer that was 30% more than the last one, plus the usual percentage. It was a done deal Alan and Jake told him. Next was the signing of the stars, and that was getting hard for some of the young actors hadn't had time to mature to the age needed for the story, but all the young actors would be used for "flashback" or memory sequences. The adult actors would have a little more screen time in this the final sequel, and unfortunately, they do not survive to the end, but their values, and their love, and what they taught their sons does. Jake and Alan received a call made by both Tom and Kevin on speaker phone, telling them they both had cried during their reading of the book, and asked if they would please keep them in mind when writing their next story, or the one after that. They were really going to miss the camaraderie and closeness they felt while working with them, on and off the set. The guys really appreciated that call and they felt bad they had ended the series, but rejoiced every time they had a minute to explore their visions for their next novel.
Norm's first birthday with them was approaching and the guys were contemplating several different party scenarios. This would be his fourth and they were pondering this when Jake said they should check with Billy and Walt, since their two (young Noah and Chris) were also turning four the same month, they certainly didn't want to duplicate their party, or find out they had usurped the others ideas for a kid party. They invited those four for dinner and during the adult time after dinner they broached the subject with Walt and Billy. Billy wanted a party with all the kids at the daycare included, and Alan was thinking of combining the kids' party with a weekend cookout for the whole family. Neither couple felt overly strong about either idea. The boys were watching a movie in the family room and Alan suddenly had an idea, inspired by the western the boys were so avidly watching. "Let's borrow or rent Kevin's hay wagon and take all the kids on a wagon ride during their play time at daycare, then that night we could have a rodeo down at the riding center with a barbeque dinner for all the folks. The boys could ride their ponies and we could dress them like cowboys, I bet they'd have a ball!" They decided on a Friday, two weeks from then. The hayride was a big hit and they rode from the barn up to Miss Loretta's in the wagon to pick up all the kids. Kevin's wagon had bench seats along the sides and the floor was covered in hay. Two adults drove the wagon and three in back with the kids. They rode down to the barn and there the ponies were ready to give rides in the outdoor corral, along with some of the other parents and grandparents, to cheer them on and to take pictures. The dads of the three birthday boys had brought cake and juice boxes and everyone had a good time. They loaded the children back into the wagon and off they were up to the daycare to finish off their afternoon. That evening the boys were all dressed in their western gear and they were taken to the riding center where there was a very festive atmosphere. Terry and her helpers had set up the jumps and several members of the family got to show off their jumping skills. Noah and Chris held their namesakes for a round of the jumps while Billy did the same for Norm, so his dads could film all of them on the horses. Then there was some barrel racing and some dressage exhibitions by Billy and Terry's students. The three birthday boys were allowed to ride the ponies and they all did very well. The caterer did massive amounts of ribs for the crowd and there were the usual sides available.
Norm had a great time at the joint party with his cousins and had adjusted to Jake and Alan being his Dads very well. He no longer called them Alan and Jake, but had easily slid into referring to them each as" Dad". The young men were very honored and pleased by this and as the time approached for the Fall release of the last movie of their saga they planned out their class schedules and the few personal appearances they were obligated by the studio to do.
It was a busy fall for everyone as everyone prepared for Thanksgiving and then Christmas festivities soon after. They had arranged with the studio for the premiere of the new movie adaptation of their last novel in the family series to be in the area. They wanted the whole family there for it and they'd get to experience the glamor and glitz the guys had at the previous premiers without having to charter a plane for them all and find accommodations for all the family and friends. Arrangements were made with a theater chain and the first showing would take place at the big cinema complex in West Springfield, about twenty miles away. The night was carefully planned by the studio and it was a black-tie affair, with a red carpet to boot! The stars of the movie were there and unknown to the general public, Kevin and Tom were both staying at Alan and Jake's while several of the younger actors were put up at either the grands or some of the brothers' houses. They all had dinner together at the Grands house before the line of limos formed for the twenty-mile trip to the cinemas for the world premiere.
Network cameras and fans lined the red carpet and network and local interviewers interviewed the writers and the stars, with family members and friends being introduced along the way. Even Grandma and Grandpa Major were included in the festivities, Grandma Sargent being too frail to accompany them. But the guys all looked great in their tuxes and of course, the youngsters were simply adorable in theirs. The movie had some tear-jerking moments and during the after party the grands hugged the two authors tightly, with Dad Chris being a bit more emotional than usual. The local papers the next day gave the movie raves, calling it the best of the series and predicting another round of awards for all involved.
There was a big Thanksgiving celebration later that week, after the celebrities had gone home and the media commitments had been met and the family gathered at the Grands and Noah and Chris were very pleased to have everyone there as a group again and they all ironed out the schedules for the upcoming Christmas season and which groves of trees would be available for Christmas trees this year. The gathering of family and friends was a great time for those who didn't see each other every day to catch up with what was going on with everyone else. Eventually, the conversations turned to the movie they had all just seen earlier in the week and they all agreed it was the best of the series, even though it was the last of the saga.
The Grands used this occasion to let the family know that should something happen to one or both of them that everyone was taken care of in their wills and that the work they had started hadn't ended with them, it was carried on by their friends and family, hopefully for generations to come, and that children in need would always find a loving home among their descendants. It was a very moving time in their busy day and at the end of Chris and Noah's declaration the three littlest ones, Norm and his buddies, young Chris and Noah, entertained them with the story of the first Thanksgiving as they had learned it at Miss Loretta's, and embellished with their own additions of cowboys and spacemen and aliens. There wasn't a sad face in the crowd after that.
Christmas was a festive season for all. There were school activities and concerts to attend and tree gatherings and decorating to accomplish, not to mention gift buying excursions and nights spent wrapping and hiding presents from the little ones. Not to mention the year-end exams Alan and Jake had to give in their classes and the other teachers in the family dealing with semester ending activities also. There were several clandestine visits to the storage units in the barn with the apartments Marty and Mike and Tracy and Donna still lived in where some of the larger gifts were stored until the day and there were even the Holiday parties at the businesses to attend and enjoy.
By the end of the year, the awards for the last book in their series were starting to come their way. Alan and Jake had been home on winter break and were in their study when a call came in on the house line, which they seldom used for work purposes. They had been trying to get their ideas for the new novel ironed out when Alan answered the call. It was Aunt Helen, asking if she could drop by in five minutes, she had a situation to discuss with them.
They went and put the kettle on, trying to figure out what she might be coming to discuss, and Alan said he thought it might concern a child in need. He was right. She explained about Darrin, a 10-year-old orphan who tested out in the near-genius range. His college-educated parents were researchers and had died in a plane crash over the holidays and there had been no provisions made for their son who was now left with no relative available to care for him. He was currently staying in the dormitory in Springfield that the DCFS maintained, but they weren't equipped to deal with him and his needs, he had been quite moody and didn't like sharing his living space with the others in the dorm and she thought he felt very out of place there and was becoming more withdrawn as the days went on. She'd like to take Alan and Jake down to meet him and introduce them using their Doctor titles, she thought that might make him more comfortable, as both his natural parents had been Doctors.
They agreed to her suggestion and they accompanied her to the dormitory and met Darrin for the first time there. He was a small 10-year-old, looking more like a seven or eight-year-old, but he explained that both his parents were small in stature and it was a matter of genetics and he was OK with it, he knew someday he would achieve his expected adult stature, but he was having some problems at the dorm with taunting and bullying he had never encountered before. He poured out his feelings of abandonment and his "incarceration with these cretins". He was receptive to visiting with them at their home and meeting their son Norm. They arranged to sign him out then and there and Helen had gone ahead and prepared the guardianship placement papers which they signed and received copies of before Helen and the guys departed the facility. They rode with Helen back to town and Darrin seemed very interested in the town and the big museum there.
He was shown to the third bedroom and the guest room and given his choice of rooms to use and he chose the bedroom next to Norm's and he got his belongings settled in there. They bid their goodbyes to Helen after they all had lunch together and then Jake and Alan took Darrin for a walk around the lanes, getting him familiar with the neighborhood and some of the neighbors and by then it was time for them to walk to the daycare and pick up Norm.
Norm was a little confused at first, but he took to Darrin and in turn, Darrin appreciated the fact that while Norm was younger than him, he was a very bright and astute little guy and they seemed to get along very well. While they walked back home they encountered more people along the way and Norm proudly introduced Darrin to the cousins, Uncles, and Aunts they encountered, as well as stops along the way to visit the ponies in the old barn and then at home to introduce Darrin to Daisy, and Darrin admitted he hadn't had any experience with a pet before, but he certainly got along with Daisy and she with him. While the adults were preparing dinner, Norm was giving Darrin a tour of the house and during the tour, he proudly pointed out pictures on display of their famous house guests and that Tom had actually used Darrin's bedroom just a short time ago, and there were pictures to prove it.
He showed Darrin his Dads' study and proudly showed him the mantel there with all the awards for the books and movies and Darrin was stunned. These books (and the movies made from them) were his favorite pastime escapes and he went to the kitchen to confront the two Doctors. "Why didn't you tell me you were Jake Alan? What kind of doctors are you? When is the next one coming out? "They thought it might happen, but they had hoped it might gradually come out and they were a little embarrassed they hadn't brought the subject up themselves. They told him they could talk about all that over dinner, but he and Norm had to go wash up now or their meal would be burnt. He acquiesced and soon the freshly scrubbed boys were at the dinner table with their elders.
Over dinner, Jake and Alan filled Darrin in, with Norm piping up every now and then. They started with their high school remembrances and worked their way up to meeting in college and then writing their first book in school and achieving their degrees and the sequels and honors that followed. Darrin was suitably impressed, but sad as he realized there wouldn't be more of the saga he had liked so much. He cheered up when the guys revealed to him under the strictest secrecy agreement that they were actually working on a new story that they hoped he would like.
Darrin was beginning to appreciate he had been taken in by some pretty incredible people. He was in awe of his favorite novels’ authors and the people around them who had inspired them. He only hoped they would inspire him also. It was about that time that the two new textbooks were released to the academic community. It started with a book release party at the college and members of the faculty were gifted with copies at the party. The guys were initially unsure how the books would be received by their colleagues since they had been written from a different perspective than they had ever encountered in a textbook before.
They treated their subjects as never before heard of concepts before and led the student through the entire learning process as if they had never had a basic science or English class before. They guided them slowly through the basics and into the most complicated variations slowly and concisely. The reviews from the rest of the faculty were extremely flattering and the heads of their departments were eager to have them as first-year texts as they knew that many of the incoming freshmen usually had no clue what they were up against in even the basic classes when they arrived on campus. This text would serve their instructors and students well and they wanted it. The publisher was pleased with the responses from the faculty and began printing runs of the books, so plenty would be on hand for the multiple schools, advance copies had been sent to for evaluation, who also requested hundreds of copies for each school. Of course, with each school the members of the faculty who had gotten a chance to review the books had told their colleagues in their schools and others and soon the publisher was inundated with orders from all over the country and soon from England and then came the requests for the texts in foreign languages. There weren't any personal appearances scheduled in the first 8 months of publication for the books, but soon the association with the authors became known and the still popular novelists became even better known (and appreciated) as the authors of the most popular textbooks published in many a year.
Soon requests were being made for their appearance on campuses all over the country. If the school was within driving distance they tried to accommodate the requester and they could take the boys with them, making it a weekend trip if possible. They felt this not only was educational for the boys, but they found it broadened their horizons also. Many of the times they could also take others with them and the boys had a lot of fun on those trips when young Chris and Noah could travel with them, or when Jose or Pedro could accompany them. Frequently Art and Alex would and those two were as entertaining for the adults as they were for the children.
Surprisingly both books made the nonfiction bestseller list for six months and Noah asked his dads if there was going to be one movie or two made from the books. They explained that the new books were like school books and wouldn't make a good movie. The books did make good money though, and the guys had set up a system where so much of the profits went into student aid programs and so much toward local scholarship programs.