Jim and Dan settled right in. The weekend was full of activities, not all of them set up just for them. There was their introduction to the horses and then swimming at the swim center. Only once did Ben have to remind them they were in public and to be careful of too much PDA. He explained that a little was acceptable, but just like with the straight couples too much was just not acceptable in public. The boys apologized and said they'd keep it on the down-low until they reached their own room. Ben said that would be best, but he bet there were several at the pools that wouldn't mind watching, or joining in. The boys got really embarrassed at that and told Ben they weren't interested in any of that and they were strictly for each other. After swimming, they walked home, and the new guys had gotten to see their prospective fathers in swimsuits and even a few of their brothers, but the best so far were the guys who ran the place, Tony and Jerry, and their sons, Sam and Mitch. Those four could supply many a wet dream for anyone interested in male on male erotica. All four were really nice guys and treated the new guys like family.
When they returned home they were all invited to dinner at the Grand's, as Alex and Art called them, so they shared in on the weekend chores and soon they were all getting ready to go eat. The Newbies started for the car when they left the house, but the others chuckled and said that they were only going to the next lane, and they took them in tow and started walking. They walked towards the fitness center end of the lane and then took a right on a well-worn path through the woods between two big houses. When they exited the woods there was the chapel. Ben and Mark explained that their dads had it moved here and many of the couples on the two lanes and others had been baptized and/or married there. As they all walked up the lane, the younger boys pointed out points of interest, like the chicken coop, the barn where they learned to ride on the ponies, the houses and who lived in them, the pond where their Dad Ben taught them how to catch frogs, and the gazebo, another wedding site favorite. When they reached the main house, the newbies were amazed at how big it was, and Mark quietly took that in and explained that the Grands had raised 14 boys in that big house, and there were still 4 brothers, about their age, still living there. They would meet them all today.
They were all warmly greeted when they entered the house and the boys all went off to play in the upstairs study/playroom after the introductions were made. The adults gathered in the family room, Evan and Chuck included. They visited and asked how the boys were getting along together, and Ben responded that they seemed to be meshing well, each of their sons now had an older one to call big brother and the newbies seemed to revel in their new status. Mark said that even if it was early days, they had decided that the home visits couldn't be over soon enough, that they had already decided to seek permanent custody and file for adoption as soon as possible. What they didn't know was that Alex had been coming downstairs to ask his dads something and heard that statement of Mark's and turned around and high tailed it back to share his news with the other boys. Soon the adults heard cheering and celebrating from the second floor. The adults all looked at each other and Ben nudged Mark and told him that he bet the boys knew just what they had been talking about, so he better get Helen on the phone and let her know that those two boys were not going back to the dormitory tomorrow afternoon, they were staying right where they were from now on.
Helen took their call and informed them that she had already started the paperwork and that as of Monday afternoon they could come and pick up the boy's belongings at the dormitory and then after the proscribed time they could file for adoption. She hadn't made a bad match yet.
During dinner, Ben and Mark told Jim and Dan that if they wanted, they could consider themselves placed in a foster home and in 90 days from Monday they could be adopted, if they wanted, by them. The two boys looked at each other and then they both said they wanted that.
The rest of their dinner was more normal, a lot of eating by the eight boys and good conversation shared by the adults. Evan made sure the boys all knew refills were available and boy did they eat! The stroll home was pleasant, but occasionally punctuated by burps or belches, everyone having eaten their fill and the stroll had helped settle their meal. When they arrived home the dads asked Dan and Jim if they were happy with their room, that there were two others they could choose from, but they replied that they were happy with the one that Alex and Art had chosen for them. They then asked if they were really going to be adopted and Ben reiterated that if that was what they wanted, it would eventually happen, but not until they had lived with them for 90 days, that was a stipulation set by the state to ensure that both the adoptive parents and the child were compatible. After that, they all settled in the family room and all six enjoyed a movie until bedtime.
Sunday saw the new family at church in the morning and the new boys got to meet more family and friends. They told their new foster dads that they were pleased to be able to go to church again, as the only times they had been able to go before was if they walked to a church about 10 blocks from where they lived. The old foster parents didn't object to them going, but they never encouraged it or made it easy for them to go either.
That afternoon they all went to the fitness center before their swim and the new guys were introduced to Joe and Dillon. Ben had to laugh at the new boys' reaction to Joe and Dillon's physiques, both men still maintaining the bodies that made women drool and straight men weep. The gay men drooled too, but seeing the matching wedding rings, and the closeness of the two, few even attempted to chat them up, let alone hit on them. Besides, there were enough strikingly fit men around and many of them made no bones about being available. Jim and Dan were agog at all the muscular men around them, and they were respectfully impressed by the two men who had taken them in. Ben was extremely fit and Mark was no slouch himself. Art and Alex were quite fit themselves, but it certainly wouldn't take long, with a few workouts a week and the better meals at their new home and they themselves would be stronger and more fit than they could ever hope to be.
Monday afternoon Ben left the library early and together, with Mark (who had stayed home with Jim and Dan) and the new boys drove to Springfield to pick up the boys' possessions and to sign the custody paperwork and get their official copies. The boys said goodbye to the other guys who shared their room and then said farewell to the staff. The four of them had their hands full with the first load and then Dan and Jim returned for a few more bags and they were off back home. Once they were there, everyone pitched in and they had the car emptied and put away in the garage before the bus dropped the two younger boys off. The younger ones offered to help put things away with their older bros and the four of them had everything stowed before they were called to dinner.
Tuesday morning Ben and Mark both took the boys to school and they got them registered and handed over copies of their guardianship documents and the school transcripts the DCS had provided. They headed off to work after making sure the guys had lunch money and they each gave them a hug goodbye. The boys had a good first day and didn't see their younger brothers until it was time to catch the bus home. They were pleasantly surprised to see so many of the bus riders were the same kids they had met over the weekend. The younger bros had saved them seats and the bus driver groaned that he had another set of twins to drive. He asked their names and welcomed them to his bus and when he saw each of them take a seat next to Art and Alex he smiled, knowing two more had been saved from the obscurity of the DCS dorm, where he had himself been "rescued" from by his own adoptive parents' years ago. Years ago, he and Noah had gone to school together in high school and Kevin was well aware Noah was married to another man, he'd met Chris several times in town and at church and he knew they had a passel of kids they had "saved" and he admired the hell out of them all.
He was proud he was driving their kids', kids and he only wished his own partner had survived the cancer he had been struck down with over nine years ago now. What Kevin didn't know was that someone had their eye on him, and was just waiting for him to get out of his funk from when his partner Tony had died. Seeing him interact with the children as he drove them to and from school always lifted his spirits, and seeing him today helping to make Ben and Mark's new lads comfortable and welcome on his bus really melted his heart. He decided to approach Kevin soon and see if he could maybe accompany him for dinner, maybe at Ron and Glenn's place near the fitness center. He waited around after he had locked up the school. He left and drove straight to Kevin's house and waited for him to return the bus to the bus lot and drive across town to the small farm he and Tony had kept and now only Kevin kept up after his two shifts a day driving the kids back and forth to school. As hKevin pulled into the small parking area in front of his farmhouse he noticed a familiar car sitting there, and then he realized who was sitting on his front steps.
As he walked to his front porch Matt rose from the steps and walked toward Kevin, his hand held out and a smile on his face. The two fifty-year-olds shook hands and Kevin asked to what did he owe the honor. Matt, the middle school principal, didn't release Kevin's hand, but held it as they sat on the steps and Matt asked Kevin to join him for dinner at the restaurant. Kevin stammered out a yes, but he asked why, why did Matt want him to join him for dinner, was he about to be fired or something? Matt thought for a moment and then, still holding Kevin's hand, told him he had been waiting for years to have the courage to ask Kevin out, that it wasn't just a meal, it was a date, the first of many he hoped.
Kevin was stunned, here was a man he had admired for years, not even realizing he was gay. Matt had stood by him when Tony died, but Kevin was so torn up with grief at the time he hadn't realized the support he was getting at the time, but just looking at Matt through the past several years gave him a sense of peace and calm, and he did look. He was admiring a shy friend from high school, and here they were, planning what time to meet this evening at the restaurant near the fitness center where they both worked out, but on different days and times. That would have to change, but right now he had a few chores to do before he cleaned up for dinner and he told Matt that, and Matt said he didn't want to leave, he was prepared to wait and he offered to help with the chores. Kevin chuckled and told Matt he could help, but not in that suit, he'd be covered in filth and he wasn't going to sit with him at dinner if he stunk to high heavens! He took Matt into the neat house and found him a pair of bib overalls and showed him to the guest bath off the main hallway and tossed him a pair of work boots to add to his ensemble. They worked together, feeding Kevin's two horses, the five dairy cows after they were milked, the chickens in their coop and some hogs Kevin was raising for their meat. Matt seemed right at home on the small farm and Kevin was able to put down fresh hay for the horses after raking out their stalls and then he did the same for the cows. Matt seemed to be enjoying himself and Kevin allowed himself to daydream about what it would be like to have help like this every day, especially if Matt wore all his casual clothes the way those overalls fit him now. He felt that Tony would have wanted him to move on, to live his life to the fullest he could, and he was ready to do so.
After the chores were done Kevin gave Matt some clean towels and first crack at the hot water in the guest bathroom and when he heard the water turn off he started his own shower in the master bathroom. By the time he was finished, Matt was sitting in the living room watching the evening news and he had called in a reservation to the restaurant. The two smelled good, and when Matt stood, Kevin walked right up to him and hugged him, telling Matt how glad he was that Matt was there. Matt held the hug for as long as he dared, breathing in the scent of the man he had admired for years, and had now invited out. They broke their embrace and headed out for dinner, only a short distance away.
The dinner was a lot of fun, primarily because Ben and Mark were treating their boys to dinner out that same night and the boys all made it a point to stop by their table and say hello, as did Ben and Mark who knew Kevin and Matt from when they were in school. Several other people stopped by and greeted the men and pretty soon a bottle of wine was delivered to their table and they were told it was from Noah and Chris who had just come in themselves, the boys eating at home that night with Evan and Chuck so their dads could have a "date night". The two men stopped at their table on their way out and greetings were exchanged as the four acquaintances compared their meals and Kevin and Matt thanked Chris and Noah for the wine. When the grands got their bill, they noticed that their deserts had been covered by Matt and they appreciated that, even though it wasn't necessary as they were part owners of this business also.
The date between Kevin and Matt didn't end at the restaurant. Matt drove Kevin home and Kevin suggested an after-dinner drink. Matt was afraid that with the before dinner drink, and the bottle of wine they had shared at dinner he wouldn't be able to drive across town safely so he told Kevin he would stay for the drink, but he had better make it a soda or tea as he was afraid if he got stopped he would be over the legal limit, and he'd likely lose his job. Kevin told him not to worry, he had a spare bed in the guest room and Matt was welcome to use that. They had a pleasant remainder of the night and they hugged each other good night at bedtime. Before the embrace ended Matt brushed his lips against Kevin's and soon they were tongue wrestling and writhing around on Kevin's bed completely naked and having the time of their lives, they fell asleep in each other's arms and awoke a few times to repeat the whole process all over again.
When Kevin's alarm went off at an ungodly hour he got up and stretched the kinks out and grabbed his overalls and went to do his morning chores before starting his bus route. He decided to let Matt sleep in for now and he could wake him before he left to pick up the kids. He'd have just enough time to go home and change for work. Kevin had just put the cows out after milking them when Matt showed up in his borrowed work boots and only the overalls from yesterday on. He pitched right in, helping to get the horses out in the coral. Kevin looked at him and told him he sure looked sexy dressed like that. Matt was able to honestly return the compliment and they held hands as they walked back to the house and Kevin led Mat to the master bathroom and turned on the shower. They had time for showering each other, but after that, they both had to rush to have a bit of breakfast before Kevin left to pick up his bus and gather the children for the ride to school. Matt rushed home to change his clothes and get to school to be outside to greet the children as he did almost every day that school was open. For him this was the best time of his day, not only because he was fond of the children and enjoyed their "good morning" s as they walked into school, but he got to watch Kevin saying "Have a good day" to each of the kids on his bus, whether they went to his school or the high school next door or the elementary school on the other side of his middle school.
On bad days Kevin would even drop the appropriate students off at their school, but on nice days like today, they all got off and followed the monitors to their respective schools. Once Kevin's students were all off his bus he walked toward Matt and they exchanged greetings like they hadn't seen each other that morning yet. They nonchalantly talked about the weather and then Kevin asked if Matt had any plans for that evening, and Matt said he could think of something, but what did Kevin have in mind? Kevin grinned and told Matt he had several things he could think of, but what would Matt say about coming over for steaks that night after he went home to pack an overnight bag? Matt got the biggest grin on his face and told Kevin he thought that was a great idea and that he'd be there in time for evening chores.
The two men were eventually spending so much time together that Matt moved in lock, stock, and barrel. It was a wise choice, as there was much more space at Kevin's house and there was just enough land for the two men to keep up with. Matt loved working outside in the gardens he created, and he always wore nothing under his out of work coveralls uniform. This served two purposes, he felt unencumbered in the coveralls, as opposed to the suits he always wore to work at the school, and two, it always ensured that at some point Kevin would lure him into the barn or the storage shed and show him that even if snow was forming on the roof, there definitely was a fire in the basement. People started to notice that the two men were much happier and friendly and there wasn't a person in town who begrudged them their new-found happiness.
About two weeks after the men had passed Helen's class on fostering, Jim and Dan were sitting on the bench behind their driver, Kevin and with them were Art and Alex. The boys were telling their new "brothers" about some of the other boys at the DCFS dormitory and one they were talking about was Jose, who had shared their room, with about 9 others. Jose had been abandoned by his parents when he was about 2 years old and been taken in by an aunt who had been arrested for drug dealing when he was 10. He was still at the dorm, and about to turn 12. They had asked Ben and Mark if they could invite him out for the weekend for his birthday. They told Alex and Art how Jose was always going on about the animals he got to see at the petting zoo in Forest Park in Springfield he got to go to once years ago. The four boys thought it would make a great present, inviting him to actually see and ride the ponies they rode and get to feed the chickens too. They thought he'd really enjoy that. Alex piped up and asked if Jose wasn't the one who had lost an eye and Dan replied to him that his aunt had smacked him so hard once that his eyeball had burst and the people at DCS had gotten a doctor to donate a false eye for him and now you couldn't tell the difference unless you really looked hard, but he told the younger ones that it wasn't nice to stare, and if they looked at his right eye they'd be able to tell it wasn't real. The boys got off at their stop, each one telling Kevin they'd see him tomorrow and to have a good night.
The next day, a Friday, Kevin asked Jim and Dan a question when they got on the bus in the morning. He said to them, "I'm sorry that I listened to you yesterday, about your friend Jose, but I got to thinking that if you wanted, you could ask your dads if you could bring him to my little farm and he could see and touch my cows. I'd even let him try to milk one if he wanted, you guys, too, there are five of them. So, what do you think, do you want to give him a real farm experience?" The guys said they liked the idea and they would for sure ask Ben and Mark if they could do that Saturday afternoon if that was a good time. Kevin told them it would be better sometime after 4 PM but he could coordinate that with their folks if they'd call him tonight. Kevin gave them his cell number and then all four boys sat and then Kevin drove them to school.
That evening Ben called to make sure he was still interested in hosting them tomorrow afternoon and Kevin replied that not only were they interested, they were looking forward to it and maybe, if they didn't have other plans, they could all stay and have a cookout with him and Matt. Ben said they didn't know what they were setting themselves up for, offering to feed five teens, or almost teens. The men laughed, and Kevin joked that if they were running low there was plenty of beef on the hoof at the small farm. Ben laughed and asked what time would be good tomorrow afternoon. Kevin said anytime around four, that's when the cows usually get milked. They said their goodbyes and Ben turned to Mark and said, "We could drop off Jose and then leave and I don't think Kevin or Matt would even notice, I think there is going to be a Family Match tomorrow!" Mark laughed and said he hoped so, Jose was a real charmer and it had only been a few hours since they had signed out Jose for the weekend and he and Ben had already talked about the possibility of fostering him themselves, but knew that if he had a chance to have parents on a two to one basis it would be better for the young lad who was starved for attention.
The boys awoke early for a Saturday and rushed about getting their friend Jose ready for the day ahead. They dressed him in jeans and boots and a western shirt and then the four "brothers" dressed alike, and they trooped down to the kitchen for breakfast. Ben and Mark were ready for them and they served up a birthday breakfast complete with chocolate chip pancakes with real maple syrup and those little breakfast sausages. After breakfast they all went over to the barn on the other lane, the six residents showing Jose the points of interest as they went. Jose was enthralled. He'd never spent any time in the country, and now he was on his way to ride a pony. He had to keep pinching himself to make sure this was all real. When the group reached the barn the "experienced" boys helped Jose pick a pony to ride, after he had a chance to pet each one. The five boys had their mounts saddled and they were off riding after some instruction from Marty who was there to help. The boys were riding in the outside coral when Ben and Mike joined them on their horses and then they all went on a trail ride.
Jose thought that the water from a canteen Ben offered him was the best tasting water he ever had, and Ben chuckled as he had filled it from the kitchen tap at home before they left. They then rode back to the barn and Jose insisted on helping the others take care of their mounts and giving them treats for carrying them all. The group then strolled along the lane and showed Jose where the Grands lived and then backtracked and crossed over to the other lane and went to the fitness center and they all worked out for a while there and rinsed off when they changed out of their gym clothes and into their jeans again. They went up the lane and they watched Billy and Walt training horses to go over the hedge jumps in the outdoor rink. Jose was fascinated by these exercises and he even got to hold both babies during their time there, as did the other four boys. Jose thought it was hilarious that these little boys were his new friends' cousins. That was when Jim and Dan told him that they were in the process of getting adopted, and Art and Alex were going to be their brothers.
Jose told them he was happy for them, and he said he hoped someday to be adopted himself. Jim and Dan hugged him, knowing that every time someone from the dorm got adopted there was happiness for the boy adopted, but great sadness for those left behind. The boys were determined to make this birthday a happy one for Jose and they asked their uncles if they would take Jose with them over a few jumps. They consulted with Ben and Mark and Jose got to sit in front of both Billy and Walt as they made a few jumps and was both scared out of his wits and thrilled to pieces. After that visit they all walked over to the swim center and had a great time there. Uncle Ken and Uncle Phil were there coaching a diving class and Jose was thrilled again, watching these two gods diving in those little tight swimsuits. He had a pair of borrowed swim shorts on and he got a bit of private instruction on the lower board, along with his four friends.
They spent a couple of hours there and then it was on to lunch at the house. The dads had made this a birthday lunch and it was as much fun as the breakfast had been. They had pizza and nachos, and for dessert, there was a birthday cake for Jose who had to blow out all the candles and make a wish. Everyone at the table knew what his wish was, but no one spoke it for fear it wouldn't come true for the boy. There were gifts too and Jose received his own set of cowboy clothes and boots and the boys gave him a real cowboy hat. After the lunch celebration, the boys played video games for a while and then everyone loaded into one of the cars and they drove around for a while and showed Jose their town.
He liked the schools and how they were right next to each other and the boys told him about the bus driver and the principal they were going to visit later. They drove over to the municipal complex and they got out and showed Jose the library and the dad's offices. He thought it would be almost like heaven to have so many books to read. Ben asked if a lot of the boys at the dormitory liked to read and Jose told him it was one of the only things they were allowed to do in their spare time. Ben made a note to himself and left it on his own desk. After the tour of the building, they headed over to Kevin and Matt's. On the way, Jose asked why Ben's name was on the children's room and Mark explained that Ben had worked there since he was about Art and Alex's age and the woman who ran the place liked Ben so much that she left money to the library and a house to Ben. Ben had the house sold and donated much of that money to the library, so the library had named one of its rooms for him. He went to college to learn how to be a librarian and now he ran the place.
When they arrived at the small farm, just about 4 p.m., everyone realized that it was only about a quarter mile from Chris's office and Loretta's daycare. It was definitely within walking distance, or a short bike ride from either lane, and reachable without using the main road, the back lanes would do fine. Greeting them was Kevin and Matt, and both men were dressed in their chore clothes and ready to milk the cows, who were already in their stalls. Each of the slightly nervous men took a look at Jose and fell in love instantly. Jose looked at these two fit "older" men and realized he saw only love and caring from them and when Ben made the introductions he hugged each man instead of merely shaking their hands. He felt like he was "home" the minute he exited the car. Their hosts took them to the barn where the cows were already in their stanchions awaiting their human to milk them.
The two farmers each took a boy and showed them the technique of milking and the boys had a great time learning how to get the most out of the cows as they could. The boys took turns and as Kevin was showing Jose what to do and how to do it, he sat behind Jose and held his hands over his young visitor's and taught him the proper technique. Jose reveled in the closeness he already felt for this gentle man and all too soon it was time for another cow to be attended to. Jose went and stood with Alex and Art who had each had a chance to milk a cow already and they excitedly exchanged their experiences with each other as Jim and Dan had their chance. After the milking, they moved on to feeding the horses. There was an addition to the farm that week. Matt had learned from a high school teacher that there was a small horse for sale on a neighbor's property and Matt had gone to look at her. She was a young mare about three years old. She'd been ridden by the owner's son, but he had had a growth spurt and was too big for the mare now and they were selling her so the boy could have a full-sized horse to ride. The young horse was just the right size for a smallish middle schooler. Jose took to her right away, and she to him. There was defiantly a bond forming and Jose had a tear in his eyes as they parted. Their two hosts didn't miss a thing as they escorted their visitors to the back patio where everything was ready and set for their cookout.
Their hosts excused themselves to go change out of their work clothes and Ben and Mark pitched in and started up the grill, so all would be ready for the hosts to start cooking when they returned. The cookout was a great success and Kevin and Matt got to know everyone a bit better and Jose sat between them as they all ate. All the boys could see that Jose and these two men belonged together. As they were leaving, Kevin asked Jose if perhaps he'd like to come visit next weekend and the boy flung his arms around him and said sure, he'd love to.
We later learned that the two men had spent the week remodeling the spare bedroom for a young man's taste and stocking up the fridge and freezer with what they hoped the youngster would like. They, of course, had called Helen on Monday and told her they had met Jose and wanted to foster him, if that was what he wanted. She did some checking and she even had a phone conversation with Jose and she approved their weekend together, so they could get better acquainted. She had a good feeling about this and had already started the paperwork for full guardianship when she realized that the men hadn't married. That meant that one or the other would be the guardian, not the pair of them.
She mentioned this to Matt when he called to ask what time they could pick up Jose on Friday, and he said to her that plans were in the works to remedy that little problem and left it at that. That same Monday Matt called Noah and asked a favor of him. The favor granted they had a nice chat and even discussed the possibility of Matt and Kevin adopting Jose. Noah made a new suggestion and Matt loved the idea and the two old friends said their goodbyes for now. That afternoon Matt picked up Kevin after he had driven to their home and took him on a short ride to the gazebo down the lane from Noah and Chris's house. As the two men stood in it, looking at the beautiful view of the distant mountain range, Matt took Kevin's hand and looking into his lover's eyes said to him, "You've made me the happiest man on earth these past four months, and I'd like to make our arrangement even more permanent,( dropping to his knee), Kevin my love, would you marry me?" With tears in his eyes, Kevin accepted Matt's proposal and he helped Matt to stand and they embraced and kissed. Kevin then asked Matt when he thought they should do it and Matt replied that the sooner the better, how about Saturday afternoon? That way they wouldn't have time to obsess about it and there were certainly enough neighbors to act as witnesses, and this way Jose would be here with them.
Kevin liked that idea and he even came up with the idea of asking Jose to be their ring bearer, so he'd feel a part of the ceremony. They then went to the parish house and asked the advice of the priest and he, knowing the two men, agreed to announce their bans of marriage during morning masses that week and he'd count this meeting as one of the three they'd have before Saturday. They then went home and called Noah and Chris and asked if they could possibly use the chapel Saturday afternoon. Noah assured them no other function was planned for that day and of course it was therefore theirs to use for the afternoon. They thanked him, asking that he and his entire family attend the wedding, the caterer Noah had suggested had agreed to do the usual pavilion and wedding meal right next to the chapel, as they had done several times before. Noah accepted for his family and applauded the men for doing this without any of the fuss usually associated with this type of ceremony, and Kevin answered Noah and said they were just two old farmers who wanted to get hitched, why any fuss? They all chuckled, and they thanked Noah for the use of the gazebo and the chapel and the men ended their call.
When the two men picked up Jose after school Friday they stopped off at the big mall in Holyoke on their way home and bought Jose a smart looking suit and accessories. Jose at first objected to them spending that much money on him, but grew excited when they told him the reason he'd need the suit and he hugged both of the men, telling them he would be proud to help out. They ate at a restaurant in the food court and then went home as the men still had their evening chores to do and Jose was eager to tend to the young mare.
That evening they got Jose settled in his room and then the two men retired to their room and an hour later they were asleep in each other's arms. In the morning they were surprised by a knock on the door and there was Jose with their breakfast on a tray. He had gotten up early and decided to do something for these two men who showed him so much affection. The men were pleasantly surprised and thanked Jose for the treat as the three of them ate off the full tray. They discussed the planned ceremony and just what Jose would do and what would happen after at the brief reception. They told him that all his friends from last weekend would be there and several others from their family would be attending.
They explained that neither of the men had any family left and there would be some people from work, but most of the people there he had met last weekend, or they were related to his friends. They did a cursory cleanup and then they all dressed in their chore clothes and went to take care of the animals before doing some light housekeeping and Kevin and Matt ironed freshly washed and dried shirts and pressing out the fold wrinkles in Jose's new shirt. He had wanted it "new" feeling so they hadn't washed it. After they had the house neat they all took their showers and dressed in their finest, ready for the short drive over to the chapel. They were surprised that it had been decorated with fresh, bright, flowers and white flowered garlands strung on the altar. It looked great and they took several pictures of the three of them with the help of one of the caterers who was just hanging around until her crew finished loading the newly erected pavilion. She was unaware they were not related to Jose and she kept referring to him as their son. None of them bothered to correct her, as that was what each of them wanted to happen. After about fifteen minutes, there was coffee available for the two men and the caterer had supplied Jose with some cold water, as he thought that would be a safer drink than anything carbonated as he didn't want to be burping in front of everyone.
He was a little nervous, but the two men put him at ease and they were laughing and joking as soon as people started to arrive. They visited for a while and when both Linda and the priest arrived they knew it was time to get the show on the road.
The wedding ceremony went off without a hitch. Jose handed the correct ring to the right prospective dad when the proper time came, the men exchanged their vows, the local priest pronounced them wed and hugs and kisses were exchanged all around. Matt and Kevin had Jose in between them as they walked back down the aisle. They stood at the front door and received congratulations from all those in attendance and they remembered in their excitement to introduce Jose to all who hadn't met him yet. As Terry and Helen went by with their daughter, Lisa, Helen asked Jose if he wanted to stay at the farm for a while, she did this in a whisper in his ear, as this was a very private exchange she wanted to have with just him. He broke into a huge smile and hugged her saying it was in his dreams last night that he got to stay, and he told her he already loved his new dads. She then reached into her large handbag and handed an envelope to Kevin telling him to share that with Matt at a time they were alone.
He hugged her and whispered to her that he and Matt had something to talk over with her and she said maybe after they read what was in the envelope. That of course got Kevin's interest and as soon as the "receiving line" was over they went back in the church with Jose in tow and found the priest packing his items up. They gave him an envelope with their honorary in it and a separate check as a donation to the church they wanted to do to mark their special day. After those pleasantries were accomplished the three guys sat in a pew to open Helen's envelope. In it were custody papers, naming the now married couple as the guardians of Jose, starting that day. The three of them were in tears, hugging and kissing and thanking their lucky stars that Jose had spent the last weekend at Ben and Mark's. Jose was thrilled he would be living on the farm and that he could help take care of the amazing animals. He was also thrilled to be having these big men both caring for him and supplying a real good life for him.
They held hands as they walked from the chapel to the pavilion next door and they were applauded in a standing ovation when they all entered. A small head table had been set up and as the three of them stood there flashes went off and more pictures were taken, until the two men kissed again and everyone followed the wedding party through the buffet line. As the trio sat at the head table Matt noticed an envelope under his wine glass. It was addressed to Kevin and himself, so he got Kevin's attention and together they opened it. Inside was a copy of a check for $5,000.00 that had been sent to the DCFS in Springfield, earmarked for the establishment of a reading library at the Springfield dormitory Jose had been living in.
The accompanying letter explained the money would be used for books and e-readers the boys could sign out for their use in their rooms. It was being called the Jose Reading Program, and a similar amount would be sent every two years from a trust that bore that name. The letterhead was from Major Law together with Major Financial and was signed by everyone on the two lanes the Major and Sargent family lived on and all their friends. They were totally surprised by this as they had stipulated that no presents were expected and here they had received two very awesome gifts.
The men and boy were really touched by this present and they announced their thanks and that they now had a foster son in Jose and couldn't be happier, before sitting down to eat.
As they ate Kevin noticed a deejay setting up and noticed that there was a dance floor in front of their table. He caught Matt's eye and then looked at the deejay and the dance floor and raised his eyebrow in question. Matt returned his look and shook his head no and he waved over the caterer and asked her what was up, they hadn't requested the deejay or the dance floor. She told him she knew they hadn't, but the Majors had, she told them to enjoy it all and not to worry about anything, her bill had already been paid in full. She left them staring at each other, both of them standing over Jose who looked up and said," Hey Dads, close your mouths ! Are you trying to catch flies or something?" The men looked down on him and smiled, that was the first time he had acknowledged they were his parents and they scooped up the lad and began to dance with him in between them. They were laughing, and photos were being snapped and that started the whole group dancing as the deejay hurried to catch up and put a waltz on that they could dance to. About 6:00 pm. Kevin prepared to go milk and feed the cows and feed the horses and chickens when Terry came up and told them it had been done already, she, Tony and Jerry had slipped out after they had eaten and taken care of the farm and all was well there. She asked him if he knew that his older mare was pregnant, and he thanked her profusely for their kindness and told her he didn't know his old stallion had it in him, but he guessed that ran in the family? She laughed along with him and told him it was their pleasure, after all he and Matt both had taken such good care of their children every school day for years, it was no problem and they were glad to do it for them. She then took his hand and led him onto the dance floor where the middle school principal was dancing with his new son and about a dozen students from his school, all gyrating around him, waving their arms to the music.
A good time was had by all, as they say, but by 9:00 p.m. everyone was flagging, and it was time to call it a day. Kevin and Matt talked it over and realized that no one was going to leave until they did, and they really wanted to get home for some alone time together and they were surprised when young Don and Jim came up to them and asked if Jose could go home with them for the night as their dads had said, "Maybe you guys had plans for tonight that didn't include him, and well, we like when he stays over." The men told the boys it was alright with them, but they better ask Jose themselves to see if he wanted to sleep over at their house for the night. They did, Jose realized his Dads might have grown up things to do after getting married and he accepted their offer, so Kevin and Matt said their goodbyes to everyone and departed for their farm. The party broke up shortly after and everyone headed for a bed and a good night's sleep.
After eating a good breakfast Kevin and Matt walked over to pick up Jose. It was a beautiful day and after their morning chores were done they really missed Jose. They decided it was late enough in the morning that everyone should be up at the other house, so they packed Jose a change of clothing and some sneakers in a bag and strolled over to the lane that abutted their property at some points and arrived about 12 minutes later, cutting through the not so dense woods and coming out of the woods pretty close to Ben and Mark's house. They found the household awake and finishing a late breakfast. Jose was pleased they had thought to bring him some casual clothes as he didn't want to mess up his new suit. They thanked everyone for the great party and for putting Jose up for the night and the new family left for their home through the woods. Jose talked about what a great time he had yesterday at the wedding and the party after and this morning before breakfast he and Jim and Dan had fun playing video games. Once they arrived home they prepared to hit the mall again, this time to get Jose outfitted with school clothes.
There were only a few months left to the current school year, but the guys bought wisely and had Jose fitted out in no time. The lad had never had this many articles of clothing before and he was overjoyed his new dads were doing this for him. After the clothing was paid for they took him to choose a laptop and an assortment of video games for it. The next day was Monday and the two men prepared for their day after the morning chores were done, with their boy by their sides. They made sure they had the proper paperwork and they left for their jobs, Matt taking the paperwork and Kevin taking Jose. Matt got Jose registered at the school and by the time Kevin's bus arrived with its load of students, and Jose, there were only a few papers for Kevin to sign and a class schedule to print out and Jose was ready to start in his new school that morning. The dads were both there when school let out that afternoon, Kevin was there to pick up his passengers and Matt was there to supervise the boarding of the students on their buses. They were standing by Kevin's bus talking when Jose came running up to them and gave them each a big hug, telling them he had a great first day and he thought he was going to really like being taught here. The dads were pleased at this heartfelt report and even more pleased that many of the passing children made it a point to say goodbye to him as they passed. He opted to ride home on the bus with Kevin and his friends from the lanes, especially as Matt still had another 2 hours of work, as was usual. They all met up back at home later.
Kevin was pleased that Jose wanted to help with the chores and took complete responsibility for the undersized mare that he and Matt had bought last week, hoping Jose would like her. After dinner that evening the three saddled up and they took Jose on a riding tour of the farm and the acreage that was rented out to the same farmer that rented the acreage adjacent that Noah and Chris owned. Jose was suitably impressed with the acreage and the fruit trees that were a bit closer to the barn. There was a large storage shed between the house and barn and the men explained that the snow removal equipment was stored there, as was a generator, in a separate area in there, in case the power ever went out. As they showed Jose the building and the switches needed to run the generator if it didn't come on automatically, Kevin noted that there was a gloominess about the building, something that made working in here uncomfortable. No wonder he put off using the workshop in here. Matt asked what he was thinking about and Kevin said he found the shed gloomy and it needed more light in it, Jose heard them and asked why he didn't put some skylights in the roof, that would let a lot of natural light in. They had skylights in the dormitory he used to live in. Matt said that Phil had told him they had added a couple of skylights in their garage and upstairs rooms and wished they had done it from the beginning. Kevin said he'd call the next day and sound them out about the skylights and where they got them and who installed them.
He did even better than that, instead of phoning, Kevin stopped in at Chambers, Moore and Major on his way home, after dropping off his bus and picking up his car. He had phoned and made an appointment with me before doing so and I invited him to choose a time convenient to him and since there wasn't anything pressing at the moment I made myself available for his visit, wondering just what this was going to be about. Kevin entered my office and I rose to shake his hand and congratulate him on his weekend nuptials and a great party after, which Phil and I had greatly enjoyed, seeing all our nephews and nieces enjoying themselves. I also remembered to mention what a great boy he and Matt were fostering and what a little man he was, standing with them at the altar. He actually blushed, and I felt his joy when he told me they planned to adopt Jose and they couldn't wait for the 90-day waiting period to be over with.
He went on to tell me the purpose of his visit and I told him about our experience having the skylights installed, but I told him we had used ones designed to be retrofitted in finished spaces, and it sounded to me that the work shed he was telling me about was unfinished, in other words, there wasn't a finished ceiling under the shed's roof. He described what he could, but I would feel better looking at where he wanted them installed in person and I asked if Phil and I could possibly come by to actually see the roof's construction and he told me that any time after 3:45 p.m. he was home from driving the kids home from school and he'd be glad to show us around.
The next day, Wednesday, Phil had the day off and after a late lunch I booked out of the office and we went to Kevin and Matt's farm and waited for him to arrive home which he did about five minutes before 4. He exited the driver's side of his car and Jose exited the passenger side of the front and they walked over to where we were standing, looking up at the big shed's roof. Hands were shaken all around as Kevin re-introduced Jose to us and we told him what a good job he had done at the wedding Saturday. He blushed at our compliments and told us he was proud to do that for his Dads. We all went into the shed and we immediately realized what Kevin had been talking about when we entered the gloom of the big space inside. We looked at the rafter construction and where the skylights could be placed. Phil had wanted to check out the generator and Kevin took him into the separate area for the machine and I was left alone answering Jose's questions about the skylights, and he told me about the ones at the dormitory he used to live in.
We discussed these large glass pyramids, as he described them, and I thought I knew just what he was describing. We walked to the generator room as we talked, and we saw Phil kneeling on a piece of cardboard writing down the name and model number off the side of the generator and noting the voltage and amps it produced. Jose noticed his prosthetic as he arose to his feet and quietly told Phil that a good friend of his at the home had "one of those" and he never got asked for weekends out of the dormitory, but his Dads had told him he could invite Pedro over soon for a visit. Kevin explained that they were turning a box room on the bedroom floor into a bedroom for company, as the DCFS required that the boys have their own room, even on a visit. The room would be just big enough for a twin bed and a small dresser, all that was left was painting the room and hopefully that would be done by Saturday or Sunday, so Pedro could visit the next weekend. I asked if there was any way he or Aunt Helen could get me in to see the skylights and he said sure, they were going the next day to pick up Jose's stuff from there and I could ride along if I wanted. I wanted, so we made arrangements to meet at the same place and time the next day.
Thursday afternoon I asked Uncle David for the name and address of the big salvage yard in Springfield he sometimes used, I just couldn't remember it. He gave me the information and I told him about the skylights I thought Jose had told me about and he agreed that maybe only two of those would do as opposed to several of the flat ones. They were raised elongated glass pyramids and you would get sunlight almost from sun up to sun down through them. They usually had glass panes in them, but sometimes there were plexiglass panes which made for a much less breakable pane, if not panes of plexi could always be cut to replace any broken panes of window glass. He did suggest strong framing for them if they wouldn't fit between the roof rafters, as cutting out a rafter to fit in the skylight would weaken the roof structure. I concurred and then I was off with my camera to meet Kevin and Jose at their house. We made good time on our trip to Springfield and Jose told me all about the dormitory and the boys who lived there and what their lives were like. I was curious, I admit, about Pedro and his own situation and from what Jose said he was a bright boy with a sadness about him.
As we exited the car in the dormitory parking lot my cell rang, and I stepped aside from my hosts as I answered the call from Ben. As I was saying hello he interrupted me, saying to get to Pedro right away, he needed me. As you know, members of our family listen to Ben when it comes to one of his "visions", so I hung up and asked Jose to get me to Pedro as quickly as he could. We entered the building and showed our Id's and signed in and Jose took us up to his old dorm and when we entered there were two older boys beating on a much smaller boy who was curled up on a bed, trying to deflect the blows. Kevin and I ran to pull the big boys off the smaller one as Jose called down the hall for a guard (yes, they had guards patrolling the dormitory floors, it was an inner city facility), and soon the four miscreants had been taken away in zip-tie handcuffs as a matron and we helped calm the youngster who thankfully wasn't badly hurt, but he would have several bruises tomorrow. His prosthetic had come off, or had been pulled off, we learned, during the attack, so I helped get his stump sock on correctly after checking to make sure the stump was not injured, and his leg put back in place. I held him to my chest as he sobbed and when he had himself under control again Jose introduced us adults to the floor matron and Pedro.
Pedro stayed in my arms as he slowly explained that the other boys were always picking on him because he was nerdy and got good grades, but couldn't play sports cause his phony leg hurt, but the DCFS said he couldn't have a new one, this one was only two years old. I asked him if he wanted to come visit my husband and me and he looked up at me real quick and asked if I meant it and to prove I did I pulled out my phone and called Aunt Helen. In ten minutes, we had permission for the visit, and she even had him released from school the next day when I explained his beating at the hands of the other boys. She was really steamed and faxed the forms I would need to sign him out to the office downstairs and told me that Pedro would have to make a statement for the administrator before we left, and I'd have to have a pediatrician document his injuries tomorrow, but then I knew a good one who happened to be certified by DCFS and that shouldn't be a problem, I could take tomorrow off and get that done. I also had another appointment to make for tomorrow. Jose helped Pedro pack up some clothes he advised he take and Kevin and I went and snapped some photos of the skylights in the hall and the meeting room Jose had mentioned. We all trooped down to the office and I accompanied Pedro in, so he could make his statement. Apparently, Aunt Helen had already made a call, and everything went smoothly in there, with as little discomfort to Pedro as possible.
We got him all signed out and took him and his bag of clothes and Jose and his carton of books and left for the salvage yard. We had just enough time to determine that they had two of the type of skylights Kevin and Matt needed and they would fit between the rafters and they both had plexiglass panels instead of window glass in them. Kevin pulled out his wallet and paid for them and arranged their delivery. The boys were looking all around the showroom floor and spotted some things they didn't know, and I went over and explained that they were weathervanes and they pointed out which direction the wind was blowing on top of a roof. The boys were amused by the figures on the vanes, one had a tin cut out of father time, and there was one with a pig with wings on it, another with a fisherman, another with a horse, and yet another with a horse and buggy. They were all of weathered copper and very well done. I liked the one with the horse and buggy and I asked the man at the counter if they came apart for traveling with and he showed how the knob at the top unscrewed and the four-armed vane slid off the post and roof mount, it would fit in the trunk of the car. I paid for it and then Kevin talked to Jose and they picked the one with the galloping horse. Kevin paid for that and he and Jose had a birthday gift for Matt on Sunday. The skylights would be delivered on Monday and a small crane would lift them to the roof of the work shed and they'd be tacked in place if the holes weren’t cut yet. I told Kevin that Phil and I could come over Saturday afternoon and help him and Matt do that. He suggested we all come over and stay for dinner and we'd make it a birthday celebration for Matt. I thought that was a great idea and agreed that Phil, Pedro and I would be over Saturday afternoon and I'd even bake the cake, now that I had a helper. They all laughed, and Pedro slipped his arm around me as we rode to Kevin and Matt's home.