It was late in the evening when Garret and I returned from the hospital with the triplets. I had called Hannah earlier and asked her to be sure the kids got to bed on time. The house was quiet when Garrett brought the extra crib in from storage and set it up in the babies’ room. We were exhausted and tucked the triplets in their cribs so we could finally get some sleep.
As soon as all three babies were safely in their cribs dozing, Garret turned to me and said, “Babe, you’ve made me the happiest man in the world. With you by my side and these three beautiful babies, I have everything I could possibly want.”
Garret took my hand and led me to my bedroom. As I looked at the caring, handsome man in front of me, it pained me to think that my time with him was limited. I pushed that thought to the back of my mind as we crossed the threshold into my room and I closed the door behind us. Garret immediately cradled me in his arms and kissed me deeply. Then we both undressed and snuggled under the covers. Sleep claimed us both quickly that night.
The next morning, after helping me get the triplets fed and dressed, Garret went outside to work out. As a professional athlete, Garret maintained a regular workout schedule. Some days he went to the gym and ran on the treadmill or lifted weights. On days like today, he improvised with squats and jumping jacks. He didn’t have a lot of time anyway, since he had to report to Llama Stadium for work by mid-afternoon.
Kevin was playing nearby on the peg box. It didn’t seem to bother him that a chipmunk about the size of his foot was running around on the lawn nearby. He was too engrossed in his new toy.
After Garret left, Hannah started teaching Kendra to walk in the backyard so she could keep an eye on Kevin at the same time.
A little while later, the kiddos came home from school. After everyone had finished their homework, Isaac told them to gather around in the kitchen so he could tell them a ghost story. Jenna, Isaiah and Isabella all sat in front of Isaac to watch the show, while Jayden stood in the back.
Isaac did a great job in scaring most of his siblings, including Isabella, his “evil” sister. I’m pretty sure they all checked for monsters under their beds before they went to sleep that night.
The following day, the triplets came home from school with A’s on their final report cards. I was so proud of them. Their birthdays were coming up, and I decided to throw them a party to celebrate. I invited their father Jerrik, Garret, Evan and Emma, as well as Emelie Van Gould. As usual, we had some party crashers, too.
Isaiah was hungry and anxious for the party to begin. He grabbed a piece of angel food cake from the fridge and placed it on the table. He stepped away for a moment and when he came back, some strange girl was starting to sit in his chair.
“Hey. Who are you?” Isaac said. The stranger didn’t reply and just started eating Isaiah’s cake. “Mom! Can you come over here, please?”
Isaiah explained what was happening, and I asked the stranger to leave. Unfortunately, by then, she had already finished eating Hannah’s perfect angel food cake. Isaiah was not happy.
“Sorry, buddy,” I said to Isaiah, giving him a hug. “I tell you what. People are arriving now, and the party will be starting soon. How about if I let you blow out your candles first?”
Isaiah just shrugged and said, “OK, Mom.”
I went outside to pick up Kevin, and when I turned around, I saw that Evan and Emelie had arrived, along with another party crasher, Lucas Cardenas. I had seen Lucas around town and, if I’m not mistaken, he’s crashed one of my parties before, too.
As I was heading towards the door, I saw Evan and Emelie talking to each other. Evan looked shocked to see Emelie and asked her, “What are you doing here?”
Emelie responded, “Your Mom invited me. Look, I’m sorry about the way things worked out between us. I never meant to hurt you, Evan. High school was a long time ago. I was young and stupid. I hope you can forgive me.”
“I don’t know, Emelie. I’ll think about it. That’s the best I can do right now.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Hannah and Lucas chatting. Jenna looked a little freaked out by the whole thing. At her age, she certainly wasn’t interested in boys.
Lucas seemed to be smitten by Hannah. There was definitely some chemistry between the two.
And, from the look on Hannah’s face and the way she leaned towards Lucas as he talked, it appeared the feeling was mutual. Had my sweet Hannah found someone to love? It was too soon to tell, but it looked promising, and I was happy for Hannah.
Now it was time to get the party underway. I called everyone inside and brought out the first birthday cake. As I had promised, Isaiah got to go first. The house was filled with the sounds of clapping, noisemakers and cheers for Isaiah as he blew out his candles.
As Isaiah became a teenager, he added Born Salesman to his other traits of Eccentric, Neurotic and Virtuoso.
Next, we had a cake for Isabella. Once again the house was filled with the sounds of cheers, party horns and noisemakers.
As Isabella became a teenager, she added Animal Lover to her existing traits of Evil, Heavy Sleeper and No Sense of Humor. I was happy that Isabella gained a positive trait to counteract her evil nature.
Finally, it was time for Isaac to blow out his candles. Always the pragmatist, Isaac told everyone there was no need to cheer for him. It was late and he was tired. He just wanted to blow out his candles and go to bed. I told Isaac that he could take the next day off from school and sleep later, and with that, he said, “Then bring on the cheers!” Then Isaac closed his eyes, made a wish and blew out his candles.
As Isaac became a teenager, he added Inappropriate to his other traits of Athletic, Genius and Daredevil.
After last night’s extended birthday party, Tuesday morning came early. As promised, I let Isaac stay home while Isabella and Isaiah started high school. Since Isaac was a genius, I wasn’t too worried about his being able to catch up on his studies.
I was spending some one-on-one time with Kendra, something I didn’t often have time to do with a house full of kids. She loved it when I snuggled with her, and it helped the mother-daughter bond grow deeper.
While I was inside, Kevin and Kiley were out in the backyard playing with their toys. After school, Isabella went outside to check on them, and she spotted the little chipmunk running around nearby. Mesmerized, she watched it for a few moments.
Then she scooped it up and held it in the palm of her right hand so she could examine it more closely. She named the chipmunk, “Chippy,” and played with it for a while.
Meanwhile, Isaiah had told his brother that prom was Friday night. “Dude, I checked out the girls in our class, and I know who I want to ask to prom.”
Isaac said, “Man, no fair. If I’d known prom was coming up so soon, I would’ve dragged my sorry butt to school so I could scope out the chicks.”
Isaiah just laughed and said, “Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. There’s more than one good-looking girl at school. I met a couple of ’em today, actually.”
“Did you tell ’em about me?”
“Well, not the one I wanna ask out, of course,” as he playfully punched Isaac in the arm. “She’s off limits. But I did tell the other girl. I could tell she thought I was cute, so when I said I had a twin brother, she said, ‘Give him my number and tell him to give me a call.'”
“Man, you are one smooth talker. So what’s her name?”
“The girl I wanna ask to prom is Esther Abreu, and she is fine,” Isaac said, wiggling his eyebrows. “As for you, here’s the number for Monica Ingram. And, yes, she’s pretty, too.”
Isaiah went into the bedroom and closed the door to get some privacy while he called Esther. They chatted on the phone for a while so he could see if she was more than just a pretty face before prom.
Meanwhile, Isaac dialed Monica’s number. “Hi, Monica. This is Isaac Thomas, Isaiah’s brother. He gave me your number and said I should call you.”
“Hi, Isaac. So, you and Isaiah are twins, huh?”
“Actually, we’re triplets — two boys and a girl. Maybe you met our sister yesterday, too — Isabella?”
“Wow, that’s so cool. I don’t know any triplets. I haven’t met Isabella yet, though.”
“Anyway, enough about them. I wanna know more about you.”
Monica chatted away, and when it was time to end their call, Isaac said, “I can’t wait to meet you, Monica. See you tomorrow.”
Normally, Isaac didn’t mind school, but he got bored because he could get through the lessons so easily. Now he had a reason to be excited to go to school in the morning. He wanted to meet Monica face to face and see if his brother was telling him the truth. Monica sounded really nice on the phone. Could she be pretty, too, or was that asking too much?
I had put this day off long enough. It was time for Hannah and Hunter to move out into a place of their own. I knew Hannah would have a hard time leaving the kiddos behind. She was always so attentive to them. Hannah held Kiley while I reached out to Hunter to give him a goodbye hug.
I wrapped my arms around my son, and Hunter squeezed me tight, saying, “Don’t worry, Mom. We’ll be fine.”
Then Hannah put Kiley down and came over to me with her arms outstretched. “My turn, Mom. Hunter’s right. We’re not kids any more.”
“I know, sweetie. It’s just hard. You’ve been such a huge help with all the kiddos, and I really appreciate all the wonderful meals and other special things you’ve done for the family. I’ll miss you terribly.”
“I’ll miss you and the kids, too, Mom. And, I was more than happy to help.”
Hunter took out his cell phone and dialed the real estate agent, letting her know that he and Hannah were ready to come and sign the lease on their new house.
It was with mixed emotions that I watched Hunter and Hannah walk out the door, knowing they would be calling someplace else home. I was both mournful and incredibly proud of the twins. I knew Darin, their father, would be proud as well.
The next morning, things went back to normal in the Thomas household. While the kids were off in school, there were toddlers to be potty trained. The first to complete the task was Kiley.
As soon as he got home from school and finished his homework, Jayden donned his royal costume and proceeded to rule over his kingdom.
Wednesday was Garret’s day off, so I invited him over to hang out with me and the kids. He doted on Kiley that day, first scaring her with that giant claw hand of his. She looked terrified and clung to her Daddy.
I guess Kiley didn’t realize that the giant claw and her Daddy’s arm were one and the same, but when Garret’s arm came down and tickled her belly she arched her back and howled with laughter.
It was heartwarming to see Garret so engaged with Kiley. While I finished with the other toddlers in the babies’ room, he just held her, and Kiley snuggled on her Daddy’s chest, as happy as can be.
After Garret saw Kendra and Kevin crawl out of their bedroom, he put Kiley down and came into the babies’ room to find me. Garret stroked my face gently with his left hand as he reached his arm around me. “Babe, I’ve missed you, more than you know.”
“Mmm … me, too,” I said as I looked into his eyes. Garret pulled me to his chest and wrapped his strong arms around me, his soft lips claiming mine. I moaned in response to his touch. I could feel Garret’s hand playing with the ties that held my dress around my neck and heard a husky groan escape his throat.
Garret broke our embrace and took a step back from me. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
Garret raised an eyebrow and stared right at my chest as he responded, “Wrong? Oh, nothing’s wrong, babe. Quite the contrary. That dress you’re wearing? It’s a major turn-on. When I first walked in, I noticed the high slit that shows off your gorgeous leg. As if that wasn’t enough, I just realized a minute ago that it’s all held up by that little tie at the back of your neck.”
“So, are you saying you like it?” I said, feigning innocence for a moment.
Garret looked up at me, with one eyebrow raised and said throatily, “Uh, yeah. I think that’s pretty obvious. In fact, I think it’s my favorite dress on you. So, tell me something, Babe — are you wearing anything under that dress?”
“Garret!” I said as I playfully smacked his arm. “I have a houseful of kids. Of course I am.” Then I quickly whispered, “And, if you play your cards right, I might even let you see what that is.”
“Damn, babe,” Garret said as he quickly grabbed me and planted a hungry kiss on my lips.
I protested a bit, and Garret pulled away, wondering why. I silently motioned behind him towards Jayden, who had just walked into the room and was playing on his Multitab.
“Oh,” Garret whispered, mouthing the word, “Sorry.”
Jayden, oblivious to what was going on behind his back, played for a couple more minutes and then left the room. Garret and I took advantage of our alone time and began kissing each other with deepening passion. I rubbed my hand up and down his strong back, resting my hand at his waist. When my left hand wandered down over Garret’s butt, I gave it a gentle squeeze, causing Garret to moan and press himself more tightly to me. Meanwhile, Garret toyed with the ties at the back of my neck.
By now, it was time to put the kids to bed, and Garret helped me get the toddlers fed, changed and in their cribs. Once all the other kids were tucked in their beds for the night, Garret and I made out in the kitchen.
Garret felt the knot at the back of my neck once again and then scooped me up in his arms, saying, “That’s it, babe. I can’t take it any more. You and this dress are driving me wild.” I smiled and wrapped my arms around him as Garret carried me into my bedroom and placed me down gently on the floor.
Garret reached for the knot at the back of my neck. I put my hand over his, stopping his progress, saying, “Not just yet. My turn first. You can wait one more minute, can’t you,” I pleaded seductively. I put my hands under Garret’s shirt, rubbing my hands over his muscular chest and chiseled abs, and pulled the shirt over his head, with his help. Then I ran my fingers along the edge of his waistband and tugged his shorts down over his hips, letting them pool at his ankles. Garret quickly kicked them off to the side. I smiled when I saw his blue striped boxers. “Now lie down on the bed and make yourself comfortable,” I said.
Garret said, “OK, babe. We’ll do it your way.” After he settled into a comfortable position, resting on his elbows, Garret said, “Whenever you’re ready.”
Garret watched me intently, enraptured by my sudden boldness. I was pretty sure that while Garret was fixated at untying the knot at the back of my dress, he hadn’t realized that it was a wrap dress and what that meant. “So, Garret, you said you liked this slit that shows my leg, am I right?”
“Mmm … you know it, babe. I love your gorgeous legs.”
“I have a little surprise for you. Do you know what a wrap dress is?”
“Nope — no idea,” said Garret, looking puzzled.
I took the edge of my dress and unwrapped it ever so slightly, just enough to give Garret a peak at what color panties I was wearing. Then I smiled and quickly wrapped the dress closed again.
Garret gasped and said, “You mean all I had to do was move that panel to get my hands underneath your dress?”
“Mm-hmm,” I nodded flirtatiously.
“Holy crap, Jill. That is definitely my favorite dress!”
Garret jumped off the bed and rushed over to me, testing out the wrap panel on his new favorite dress. He lifted the edge of the wrap and, after peeking inside, slipped his arms around my bare skin and caressed my sides. Garret smiled and gave me an appreciative moan. “Damn, babe. You’re on fire today. Now, turn around, please, so I can untie this dress. I’ve been dying to do that all day.” As soon as Garret untied the knot, my dress fell to the floor, leaving me in my purple strapless bra and panties. Garret pulled me into his arms, and the sensation of his bare skin on mine was exhilarating as he kissed me and held me tight.
“So, do you like your surprise?”
“Babe, you know I do. I’ve wanted you like crazy all day and was only holding back because of the kids. Now that they’re all asleep, you’re mine, and I can show you exactly how much I want you.”
“I want you, too, Garret … so much.”
We climbed into bed and fluffed up the pillows.
Garret put his arm around me and held me close to him. As happy as I was in Garret’s arms, I was also a little sad, because I knew the time was coming when I would have to end our relationship. The thought weighed heavily on my mind, and Garret must’ve sensed my mood shift because he looked down at me and said, “Babe, where’s that frisky woman who teased me mercilessly a few minutes ago? I can tell something’s wrong. You know you can talk to me about anything, right?”
“I know I can, Garret. You know I wish we could stay together, but it’s not in the cards for us,” I said sadly.
“Because of the 100 babies with different fathers. Yeah, I know, but I’ve been trying not to think about it. Isn’t there a loophole for when you find ‘the one’?” Garret asked hopefully.
“I’m afraid there isn’t, Garret. If there was a loophole, I’d use it to stay with you forever.” I closed my eyes and smiled at the thought of a lifetime with Garret.
Garret closed his eyes and said with emotion raw in his voice, “Well, at least we’ve got tonight, babe. Let’s make it count.” Then he squeezed my shoulder as he held me tight.
Garret made love to me all night, saying sleep was overrated at a time like this. “I need every minute with you that I can get, babe. I want to remember every inch of your beautiful face and exquisite body so I can make love to you in my dreams.”
“Oh, Garret, you sweet, sweet man. I adore you so.”