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Andre Delport

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About Andre Delport

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  1. Andre Delport

    Chapter 2

    Brian, great start as always. What a b..... cow Muriel is. If I was Spencer I would be lacing her early morning beverage with Brooklax or maybe even arsenic. I'm guessing Spencer is going to land an interview with Marshall Highlander.
  2. Cameron and Elizabeth came home from the hospital the day after they were born. And the routine in the house changed dramatically. Andrew and Ryan soon came to realise just how much responsibility came with having children, especially babies, to care for. As agreed, the boys took over most of the care of the babies. They put no pressure on Beth and allowed her to do things at her own pace. But eventually, some sort of normal routine was re - established. One of them, along with Janice were almost always at the house with Beth and the twins. Beth had asked for a recliner to be moved into her room, next to the window, as she did most of the daytime feeds from there. She kept a log of 'Boob 1' and 'Boob 2' and alternated the twins on boobs for each feed. Andrew and Ryan took complete charge of the nighttime feeds, using breastmilk that Beth had pumped and was stored in the refrigerator. Two days after they came home, Cameron developed a mild case of jaundice, and on Nicky's advice, they moved a cot near the window in the master suite. Less than 48 hours later, he was his usual pink self, but the cot remained in the master suite. They were only using one cot, as the twins were very niggly the first two nights they were home. Again, on Nicky's advice, they put them together in one cot and the problem was solved. Andrew and Ryan would lie on the bed, at night and during the day, and relish in the little snuffles and noises the twins made when they slept. At night when they needed feeding, they would both get up, then either Andrew or Ryan would settle himself into the armchair, while the other would fetch the babies and put them into the feeders arms and go back to bed, more often than not, just dozing until the other came back to bed. Often, after the last feed of the night, the twins would be nestled between Andrew and Ryan and the whole little family would sleep the rest of the night away. Janice arrived one morning to find Yvonne alone in the kitchen. When asked where everyone was, she replied, "All still sleeping" Janice walked up the stairs to the master suite, knocked softly on the door, and getting no response, carefully opened it. Her eyes softened and misted over as she took in the scene before her. Andrew and Ryan lay close together, on their backs, their arms under one another's heads. The twins lay sleeping, cuddled on their dad's chests, their free arms curled around the babies to prevent them rolling off. Janice pulled out her mobile and captured the tableau from a few angles. She had yet another sketch to do. Two weeks after they were born, Andrew and Ryan took them to the lodge for the staff to see them. The staff had, like the wedding, been pestering Paul to ask the new dad's to visit and bring the twins with them. They timed the visit over the change of shift period, to give as many of those who wanted to see the twins, the opportunity to do so. They took Cameron and Elizabeth to the staff dining room, and met with all the staff there. The entire personnel eventually passed through the room, congratulating them and fussing over the babies. Many of them left small gifts. Bibs, babygrows, booties, even two beautiful blankets that had been hand crocheted by Thomas's wife, each gift leaving Andrew and Ryan very touched. And the twins were stars. They didn't fuss or become restless. Andrew and Ryan held them in their arms and the little ones just gazed in wide-eyed curiosity at all the people peering down at them, gurgling, and snuffling, moving their arms and legs. When they stood up to leave, those that were still there, lined up on either side of the door and sang a lullaby, touching them and the babies as they passed. They were very moved by the visit, and reinforced on Andrew that his decision to buy the lodge had been a good one. The next day however was a very difficult one for the new dad's. They had to take little Cameron back to the hospital. He was going to be circumcised. Nicky was there to meet them at Admissions where they completed all the paperwork and carried Cameron into a treatment room, where the procedure would be done under local anaesthetic. Andrew set him down on the bed and kissed the little boys cheek. "Daddy loves you. I will see you soon". Ryan did the same and they both left the room, very emotional. Nicky had advised them not to stay, although they could if they so wished. Neither of them could bear watching their precious little boy being hurt, so they waited in the corridor. It did not take long, but even with the local anaesthetic, his anguished cries could plainly be heard, and it broke their hearts. They held each other weeping, as Cameron wailed. When it was all over, they walked back into the room, red eyed, and bent over the red-faced, squalling child. Andrew picked him up gently and cuddled him, tears pouring down his face. "I'm so sorry my baby boy. Daddy's sorry. We are here now." Cameron's cries quietened to little sobs and hiccups, with Andrew holding him and Ryan gently caressing his head. A nurse came in with medication and instructions on how to care for the wound until it healed. Then they carried him to the car and drove home. Andrew was so upset, he broke one of their cardinal rules. He held the tiny tot in his arms all the way home who was asleep when Ryan pulled up in the driveway. He walked round and opened the door for Andrew before he stepped out of the car and together they walked up the path to the door where Janice was waiting for them, holding Elizabeth. Beth was sleeping. She took one look at them and said, "That bad, huh". Ryan took Elizabeth from her. "Mom, it was horrible. His cries, it broke my heart. You could hear his pain in his cries. If we have any more children and they are boys, no way will I put them through what my baby boy went through today. No chance in hell!" Andrew just looked at her, shook his head and walked up the stairs, too choked up to speak. He lay the sleeping little boy in the crib in the lounge and sat down heavily on the couch, buried his head in his hands and wept. "We are supposed to protect him, to prevent him from being hurt. But to satisfy convention, we allowed that to happen. I had no idea it would be that traumatic for him. I will never forget his cries for as long as I live. I never want to go through that again". Janice brought two glasses with a double tot of scotch in them, even though it was not yet 11am. "Here, drink this. It will help to calm you down. My darlings, I don't know about Andrew, but you Ryan, had exactly the same procedure as has millions of little boys through the ages.. You have no recollection of the event, and neither will Cameron. It will hurt for a couple of days, and he may be niggly, but it will heal and he will be back to his normal happy self. Seeing the state you two are in, I would venture it was worse for you than what is was for him. Just care for him as instructed and he will be fine". Ryan sat down next to Andrew and threw his head back, staring at the ceiling. "Mom, his cries. God, his cries. I never want to hear my little boy cry like that again. It was awful". But Janice was right. Cameron was uncomfortable and fretful for three days, but once the healing really started, he bounced back and was smiling and gurgling at his dad's. He might not remember, but his dad's would never forget. Midway through October, Nicky and Beth announced that had found a house and would be taking up residence at the beginning of November. Beth was going to work from home until the Christmas holidays, when her company would be closed, but she would return to the office full time from the 2ndweek in January. She would continue to deliver pumped breastmilk until the end of the year, but from January, the twins would be on formula. A big moment came on the last weekend of October. With the first charter of the season starting in the first week of November, Andrew and Ryan wanted to do a shakedown cruise to check that the yacht was indeed ready to receive guests, and take Darren and Kerry out to see how they handled the boat. They had finished up with their previous yacht in the middle of October and had taken up residence in the Waterfront apartment. Their first two weeks with 'Belle Catherine' was spent giving her a good clean, inside and out, and moving everything that had been stored in the apartment, prior to the hauling out, back to the yacht and getting her ready to sail, from re - equipping the galley, to making beds, and restocking bathrooms. They also did a complete inventory of food items, sent the list to Andrew, who then did all the necessary orders for the galley stores and refrigerators to be replenished, with deliveries directly to the yacht. The shakedown cruise would also be the twins introduction to sailing, inviting David and Janice to join them for the weekend cruise up the West Coast to Langebaan and back. They had no idea how much preparation this would entail, and in the end spent an entire day in the master cabin, setting it up for Cameron and Elizabeth. They mentally thanked Steve for the extra storage in the midships cabin space when they realised how much extra 'stuff' they had to have on hand for the babies. They even had infant size pfd's. At 9am on a sunny Friday at the end of October, two tiny, sleeping bundles were carefully carried aboard 'Belle Catherine' and gently placed in a crib attached to the bulkhead of the aft cockpit. It was the first time Darren and Kerry had seen the twins, and they were enchanted. They also just shook their heads, with Darren commenting, "You are both crazy and very brave". The starboard hull had effectively become the crew hull, with Andrew and Ryan in the master cabin, and Darren and Kerry in the forward cabin. Andrew showed David and Janice to the port aft cabin to get settled and unpack and then sat near the twins and just observed, as Ryan sat at the helm, and Darren and Kerry cast off the bow and stern lines, rolling them and storing them before coming back to the helm. The whole procedure had been completed competently and efficiently. Andrew was impressed. Darren and Kerry had asked that as much as possible be left up to them, as they wanted to show Andrew and Ryan what they were capable of. Darren sat down next to Ryan and took the helm, with Ryan giving him pointers as they moved away from the dock and sailed down the length of the marina. Without having to be told, Darren hailed marina control on the radio, requesting permission to exit and for the bascule bridge to be opened. Ryan relaxed noticeably at that point, realising Darren knew what he was doing, but stayed alert nevertheless. 'Belle Catherine' was, after all, his biggest baby! Kerry had, meanwhile, been offering refreshments and little snacks and pastries. For Andrew it was a very different start to any of his previous trips. With everyone in the cockpit, Kerry called for everyone's attention. "I know you all know the safety rules and regulations, but for the sake of routine, I would like to run through them". And she proceeded to detail the safety measures from memory, not leaving a single item out. Again, Andrew was impressed. They left the harbour sailing straight for the passage between Bloubergstrand and Robben Island, and with the wind blowing from the south east, or from directly aft, Darren raised the mainsail and the genoa using the electric winches. The sails filled and the yacht sped across the bay into the channel. There was a slight pitching motion, the bows rising and falling. Ryan sat for a few minutes observing, then turned to Darren and asked, "Have you ever sailed with a spinnaker?" "No, actually I haven't. Our previous yacht did not have one" "Okay, come with me. Drew will you take over here please". Ryan slid off the seat and moved forward to the sail locker in which the spinnaker was housed. He opened the locker and pulled the top of the sail out, showing Darren how and where to attach the lines. Then he said "Notice how she's pitching. Guest comfort is paramount, and that pitching motion is not comfortable. Now haul away on that line and let her fly". As he pulled on the line and the sail unfurled and filled, Darren heard the whirring of the electric winches as the mainsail was reefed and genoa furled. He looked around then at Ryan. "That's Andrew lowering the sails from the helm". Almost immediately the pitching stopped and the yacht's passage through the water smoothed out. Darren's eyes widened and Ryan grinned at him. "Feel the difference?". "Yeah", Darren breathed. "Wow, I had no idea a spinnaker had that effect. It's amazing!". "It is, isn't it. It will even lessen roll, but not to such a great effect. I love flying the spinnaker. And it looks great too". They closed up the locker, made sure the spinnaker was secure and returned to the helm. The twins woke up shortly after, their cries demanding fresh diapers and food, so Andrew and Ryan took them down to the master cabin to change them, while Janice warmed the bottles. They returned to the cockpit, each with a baby and a bottle, and fed them while relaxing at the cockpit table. When they had had enough, they were put over their dad's shoulders, and gently patted and rubbed until they burped. Then the boys just sat with contented expressions on their faces, the babies cradled in their arms. Cleaned and with full bellies, Cameron and Elizabeth dozed off again and were laid back into the crib. The cruise went off without a hitch. Darren and Kerry performed beyond expectation, and 'Belle Catherine' was her usual serene self. Her seakeeping abilities never failed to impress Ryan. The trip, however, made them realise that handling a full charter with just the two of them, and having the babies on board was out of the question. The twins would be on board in exceptional circumstances only. It would not be a problem with just them on board, but with charter guests, it would be extremely hectic. On the positive side, the twins handled their first sailing trip like seasoned pro's and were no trouble at all. As far as charters went, Andrew and Ryan made the decision that only one of them could be on charter at a time. The other would have to be home with the babies until they were older. They both knew they would miss the companionship of being on charter together, but Cameron and Elizabeth were their main priority now. The charter operation could run without both of them being on board. Having seen Darren and Kerry in action had proved that. The first charter of the season, a week later, was difficult for Andrew. He would be staying home, while Ryan, Darren and Kerry sailed the charter. Andrew stood on the balcony of the house and watched wistfully as 'Belle Catherine' sailed past, deliberately quite close to shore. It was the first time she had sailed out of harbour without him being on board. He could clearly see Ryan standing in the bows waving as they sailed past, and he watched until they sailed out of view, then turned back into the house with a heavy heart. The good thing, or maybe the bad, was that with Ryan not home, his workload with the babies had doubled, and kept his mind off the yacht. Not that he minded the added workload. He revelled in the time he had alone with them. He would often feed them, then once they were comfortable, put them into their chairs on the coffee table, sit on the couch in front of them and play with them and talk to them until their eyes drooped and they fell asleep. He would watch them sleep, his heart filled with love for the two adorable little imps who had been entrusted into their care. And the overwhelming feelings, when they opened their eyes, and the toothless smiles that followed. It was priceless. He could not fathom how the love he had for Ryan, could be shared with two more human beings, and not diminish in any way, but rather, grow to encompass all of them with the same intensity. But even though the twins kept him occupied, and even entertained, and that Janice and Marie popped in for visits, he was acutely aware that the part of his heart that was Ryan was missing. It was the first time they had not slept in the same bed since the attack, so he was a very happy man when four days later, he stood at the same spot on the balcony holding Cameron and Elizabeth, and watched 'Belle Catherine' sail into view, heading for the marina, on engines, her sails flapping in the head on wind. Andrew could see Ryan looking at them through his binoculars and waving. Then, directly opposite the house, she made a smart turn to starboard, her sails rose on the mast, and she sailed south as Darren tacked across the bay. When she was just a speck on the surface, she made another turn, this time to port, and her shape slowly sharpened as she sailed back at an angle to the harbour mouth. This time, Ryan's homecoming was a far more joyous one. Andrew was in the bedroom with the twins, who had just woken up after a nap. Ryan bounded up the stairs and burst into the room, beaming from ear to ear. Rascal leapt of the bed, yapping and running around Ryan's feet. "Ahha, all my babies together. What more could a dad want?". He hurried to the cot and leaned over it. "Hello, my precious ones. Daddy missed you". They both studied him for a moment with blue eyes and tawny eyes, they gurgled, broke into smiles and moved their arms and legs energetically. He scooped them up into his arms and gently hugged them, placing a kiss on their foreheads, before turning to Andrew and grinning. "Daddy missed you too, very much". Andrew stepped up to him and they kissed passionately, their children observing with curious interest. "This daddy missed you too". They lay down on their sides on the huge bed with the twins between them and Rascal at their feet, and just gazed at one another, fingers gently tracing features. They kissed again, a little arkwardly with the babies between them, but they were both happy and content. The little family were all together again and all was right in the universe. That was where Janice found them about an hour later. Yvonne had let her in, and when asked where everyone was, Yvonne replied with a smile, "In the bedroom with the twins". She walked up to the bedroom, saw the door was ajar, but knocked anyway. Getting no reply she peered in and pulled out her trusty mobile. The boys lay on their sides sleeping, foreheads touching with the babies nestled between them . The clicking of the camera phone roused Ryan who smiled sleepily at Janice. "Hi ma, how long you been here?" His voice woke Andrew." Hi mom. Seems we fell asleep" Janice smiled and moved closer to the bed to gaze down at her sons and grandchildren. "You four are going to keep me very busy. I have several sketches I have to do now". They carefully rolled off the bed to not disturb the babies and she bent down and gently kissed the babies cheeks. "They get more beautiful by the day. I'll wait downstairs while you freshen up. I'll put the kettle on. Or would you prefer coffee from that fancy machine of yours?" "Tea for me mom! Ry will have coffee. Thanks"' Andrew replied over his shoulder as he walked to the bathroom. They splashed water onto their faces and brushed their teeth, then placed pillows around the twins to prevent them rolling off the bed, turned on the baby monitor and joined Janice in the lounge, where tea, coffee and big slices of chocolate cake were waiting. They both kissed her on the cheek. "I just wanted to find out how the trip went. Your dad and I watched you sail acrosss the bay out to sea and then come back. Never seen you do that before." "No, it's something we have never done. Whenever we have had a south-easter coming into harbour, we have always used the engines. Darren wanted to see what the time difference would be if we tacked out and back again, instead of using the engines. It was an interesting exercise. The difference is only just over an hour, obviously depending on the velocity of the wind, but it would mean a saving on fuel", Ryan explained. "And that was Darren's idea?", asked Andrew. "Yup! I am really impressed with him. He knows what he is doing, learns quickly and is cool, calm and collected. They both are. The clients loved them. I'm absolutely confident he can handle 'Belle Catherine without me around. He will skipper the next trip with you and Kerry", he replied. Andrew nodded. "Yeah, the next few weeks are quite hectic. Three and four days with only one day between each trip. Somewhere along the line, you and I are going to have to do a trip together. We don't want to burn Darren and Kerry out. And that means taking the twins with us. No offence, mom, but there is no way I am leaving them at home.". "None taken, Drew darling. They are probably still too small to be left anyway". Ryan added "We'll just have to see how things pan out. We have two charters booked that are exclusive. Only one couple. Maybe you and I can work those, with the babies on board. The workload won't be as great. We could cope easily. With four or six it would be much more difficult". "That's an idea. It would work. It will also give Darren and Kerry time off together. We could even split the two person charters with them as well" "Why don't you discuss it with them on the next trip and get their feelings. But I think that's a good solution". A soft cry on the monitor alerted them to one of the babies being awake so they all went into the bedroom. Rascal met them on the landing, tail wagging. Since the twins had come home, he had taken up an almost permanent watch over them, either laying on the bed watching the cot intently or curled up next to the crib in the lounge. The second one of the babies uttered even the slightest noise, he would run to whoever was in the house to alert them that the babies required attention! Immediately! Elizabeth was crying lustily with Cameron next to her waving his arms about. Ryan picked Elizabeth up, and it was if a switch had been flipped. The crying stopped and she cooed and gurgled at her dad. Andrew picked Cameron up and gave him to Janice, wrinkling his nose. "Go to your grandmother while I get some diapers. Someone is very stinky!" Ryan sniffed. "I don't think he is the only one" They changed the twins diapers then took them downstairs, Janice holding Elizabeth and Ryan holding Cameron, then lay them in their baby chairs, letting them play with the mobiles that hung in front of them. Janice left soon after and Andrew went into the kitchen to prepare bottles for the babies. He blessed Yvonne when he noticed the warmer was on and had dinner sitting on it. A chicken casserole, potatoes and two vegetables. They took the babies back upstairs, bathed them and washed their hair, dressed them, then took them back downstairs to feed them, each holding a baby in the crook of their arms. After feeding and burping them, Andrew and Ryan sat watching the early news on TV until the twins fell asleep, and then lay them in the crib next to the couch. It was now almost 7pm, and still light. The sun still had a way to go before reaching the horizon. Andrew set the table and when it was ready he called Ryan. "Babe, Yvonne has dinner on the warmer. You want to help yourself? Do you want something to drink?" "Thanks, love. A glass of wine would be great" Andrew poured two glasses of white wine, puting them on the table just as Ryan arrived carrying two plates of steaming food. "I dished up for you as well" Andrew grinned and pecked him on the cheek, taking a plate from him. "Thanks, my hero!" Ryan just grinned back at him. They ate in easy silence for a while before Ryan asked, "Any plans for tomorrow?" "Yeah, we have a meeting at 10am with Paul and the accountant to sign the dividend cheques for the staff. They will be included in the salary advices for November. Your mom is coming over to watch the twins" "Hmmm,the staff are in for a huge surprise. I just hope they are wise enough not to spend it all. It's a very tempting time of the year" "You have a point. In some cases the dividend cheque will be more than their monthly salary. Anyway, after the meeting, nothing specific. A quick lunch and I want to have my haircut. Maybe we can stop at François and see if he can fit me in. You actually need one too. I can't make an appointment because we don't know how long the meeting will take". "François salon is at Eden on the Bay. We can pop in there see if he can take us, if we have to wait a while we can get a quick lunch at one of the restaurants, then go back" suggested Ryan. "Yeah, okay. I'm cool with that. I know it's still early, but how about we take them upstairs. We can lie on the bed with them and watch TV until bottle time, then we can put them down. Who is going to get up for the first night feed. You or me?" "I think I will. You've had it all for the last 4 nights, so I will get up", offered Ryan. "I'll probably wake up anyway. I've become so attuned to them, that the slightest murmur and I'm awake". They gently picked up the twins, turned off the lights and went upstairs, laying them on the bed. They changed into sleeping shorts and loose t-shirts, then lay on the bed with the twins. Rascal had already made himself comfortable at the twins feet, staring at them unblinkingly. They watched some sport highlights and when the twins showed signs of waking up, Andrew got up to warm their bottles. Ryan was changing Elizabeth when Andrew got back, so he started changing Cameron. They fed them, and put them into the cot for the night, and then got into bed themselves. Andrew, who slept closest to the cot, had to scoot over, closer to Ryan when Rascal crawled over to the side of the bed to better watch the cot and it's occupants. They fell asleep quite quickly. When Ryan got up to feed the babies, Andrew helped him get organised and then returned to bed, where he fell asleep almost immediately. He was only dimly aware of Ryan joining him after settling the babies again. He was up at 6.30, leaving Ryan to sleep. He padded down to the kitchen and turned on the coffee machine and the dish-washer. He grabbed a plate and put some buttermilk rusks onto it, then made them both coffee and went back upstairs. Ryan opened one eye as he put his coffee on the bedside table. "Ah, so that's where you went. The only thing better than the aroma of coffee, in the morning, is frying bacon. You didn't bring any by chance? Andrew laughed. "Not a chance, buster. Coffee only. And rusks", peering into the cot. Ryan sat up and sipped his coffee, sighing appreciatively. "Hmmm, hot and strong. Just the way I like my men" Andrew giggled. "So how come you ended up with me?" Ryan looked at him, smiling softly. "Strength does not only come with muscles. That's all I'm saying. And there is nothing wrong with your muscles anyway. I love you just the way you are" Andrew leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "Charmer. Nice save by the way" Rascal lifted this head, wuffed softly, and wagged his tail, looking from the cot, to them and back again, followed by a small cry from the cot. Andrew sat up and peered into the cot. "Elizabeth", he said, looking at Ryan over his shoulder. He stood and bent over the cot, picking up the unhappy infant. As he was straightening up, a pair of intense blue eyes suddenly opened and gazed at him. They focused and Cameron smiled this toothless smile and waved his arms. Andrew turned back to the bed. "Here, take our daughter. Cameron has just woken up as well" and bent to pick up the little boy, holding him in the air and letting him kick his legs. "Good morning my little man. How are you today?". He moved back to the bed and sat down, lifting his legs up onto the bed. Elizabeth was sitting on the bed, supported by Ryan's body. "And my baby girl. Are you hungry?" She gazed at Andrew and tried to get her fist into her mouth. Andrew looked at Ryan." You want bottles or diapers?" Ryan gently lay Elizabeth on the bed and jumped up. "I'll do bottles, thank you. Had enough of diapers last night. I cannot believe that anything that smells so bad when it comes out, can be any good going in" he said indignantly and walked out of the room, followed by Andrew's laughter. Andrew got both diapers off and he covered Cameron's groin with a cloth, they had had a couple of 'accidents' in the past, before dealing with Elizabeth first. Ryan came back with the bottles and picked up his daughter to start feeding her, while Andrew sorted Cameron out, then picked him up and gave him his bottle. When Elizabeth was finished, Ryan winded her and lay her on the bed while he went to shower. When he was done, Andrew took his place in the shower. Ryan was playing peekaboo with them when he returned to the room, their chortling filling the room, melting Andrew's heart all over again . They dressed for their meeting then walked downstairs and put the, now sleepy, babies in the crib. Janice arrived to babysit and the boys left for their meeting. The accountant was running late, so they had time for a cup of coffee and some toast before he arrived. Paul came to call them and took them up to the boardroom. There, they signed the dividend cheques of just over R10000 each for the staff and more substantial cheques of R75000 and R50000 for Paul and Claude. When that had been completed, Andrew asked Paul to find out from the staff if, in the future, they wanted the dividend cheques paid in a lump sum or split up over the year, and to also investigate the tax implications for both options. They left the lodge at 11am and drove to François salon. He could not take them immediately, but had openings in an hour, so they had an early sushi lunch and strolled along the promenade above the beach, before going back and having their haircuts. By 2pm they were back home, relaxing with the twins and Rascal. It was quite hot so they changed into swimshorts, put tiny little costumes on the twins and sun hats, slathered then with sun protection cream, and sat on the pool step with the babies on their laps. Cameron and Elizabeth loved it. They gurgled and squealed, hitting the water with their tiny hands, and kicked like mad, looking up at their dad's with suprised expressions when water splashed in their faces. They didn't stay long, due to the sun beating down, but resolved to let the twins swim more often. All the sun, fun and excitement proved too much for the little tots, and they passed out after the 4pm feed and slept right through until their dad's went to bed. The twins had not been bathed earlier, so Andrew and Ryan quickly washed them and got them ready for the night. Then they gave them their bottles and cuddled with them until they fell asleep when they carefully placed them in the cot. And for the first time, they slept through to morning. Andrew did get up in the early hours to check them, but his precious bundles were fast asleep. When they did wake up just after 6am, with full diapers and empty tummies, all hell broke loose. The boys had two very petulant infants to deal with, and it was all hands on deck to get the babies cleaned up and fed. It was only when the bottles were put into their little mouths, that tranquility returned to the master bedroom. As had become routine after the early feed, the twins then lay on the bed with them, propped up with pillows. Eventually, either Andrew or Ryan would head to the bathroom while the other watched the babies, and when done in the bathroom, the roles would be reversed. They had nothing planned for the day, Andrew was leaving the next day for his 4-day charter with Darren and Kerry, so today was a family day. They walked downstairs with the babies and sat them in their chairs with the mobiles. Yvonne was already busy in the kitchen, sterilising the babies bottles. The kettle was boiling and the coffee machine was on. "Morning Vonnie, how are you today" asked Ryan. He always called her Vonnie. Andrew used her proper name, Yvonne. "Morning Yvonne" "Good morning Mr Ryan, Mr Andrew. I am well thank you. You are up early this morning" "Cameron and Elizabeth slept through last night, so when they woke up this morning early, they were not happy at all. We were both up getting them cleaned and fed" Yvonne laughed. "The joys of parenthood. It's good that they slept through the night though. Maybe you must take them swimming every day". Andrew grinned at her. "Yeah, you could be right. We are just going to have some breakfast and then take them for a walk on the beach before it gets too hot. I am leaving on the yacht tomorrow, so today is a chill day", popping bread into the toaster. Ryan was making tea for Andrew and coffee for himself. "Shall I get the stroller ready for you? It's in the guest bedroom.", Yvonne asked. Ryan looked at her and said, "No, don't worry about the stroller. Can you get the baby carriers out of the hall cupboard? We can put the babies on our chests and walk with them that way. Oh, and two hats for them as well. And Rascal's leash". They ate while waiting for Yvonne to bring the items requested, then settled the twins in the carriers, before taking them to the car and securing them in their seats. Rascal jumped onto the seat between them to keep guard. Then Andrew drove the short distance to the beach. They slipped the straps of the baby carriers over their shoulders, put sun hats on each of them, made sure they had pacifiers and water and started walking, Ryan leading Rascal with his leash. The good-looking couple attracted a lot of attention as they walked, especially from a number of elderly ladies who walked every morning, having to stop numerous times for them to look at the twins. Rascal would sit and watch them warily as they fussed over Cameron and Elizabeth. These were his people they were messing with! They walked with the wind in their faces, towards the mountain. Initially, the twins were alert, eyes moving as they looked around, but would always inevitably come back to stare at their dad's, but also inevitably, their eyes started drooping and they were asleep. The boys walked for about two kilometres, before turning round and heading back to where the car was parked, stopping along the way to buy soft serve ice cream cones. With the wind now behind them, the walk back was slightly easier, the twins sleeping until they were almost at the car. Ryan was carrying Cameron, and hearing a soft snuffle, the looked down to find Cameron awake, his own eyes gazing back at him and a toothless smile on his face. Ryan bent his head closer. "Hello there my little man. Did you sleep well?" Andrew walked a little closer to peer over Ryan shoulder. Cameron gazed at his dad, then reached up with one little hand to touch Ryan's face, a bright smile on his face and blue eyes sparkling. A lump formed in Ryan's throat, as the little boy let his hand wander over the face in front of him. Andrew quickly pulled out his mobile and took a photograph of the moment. Ryan turned to him when he heard the click of the shutter and grinned. "And that, my love, is what it is all about", looking back at Cameron. "Special moments!" Elizabeth woke up on the short drive back to the house, and made it known that she was not happy, squalling all the way. When Andrew took her out of the car, he got a good smelly whiff and hurried upstairs with her to change her, asking Yvonne to bring him a bottle. Elizabeth calmed down once the dirty diaper was off, but still niggly. However, as soon as she was given her bottle she was happy, and Andrew finished changing her as she drank. He picked her up and carried her downstairs and put her in the crib with her brother, who seemed perfectly happy. He protested a little when Andrew laid him down to give him his bottle, but accepted it with no problem. They were both asleep before the bottles were empty. They had, from the beginning of December, started weaning the infants off breastmilk with two bottles a day being formula. This was in preparation for Beth supplying the last breastmilk at the end of December after which they would be on formula permanently. They let Yvonne leave early and the rest of the day was spent relaxing, enjoying one another's company and entertaining the babies. They took them swimming again in the late afternoon and then pushed back bathtime and the bedtime feed, in the hope that they would sleep through again. By 7pm the twins were fretful and niggly, so Andrew and Ryan bathed and fed them and put them down in the lounge. With Yvonne leaving early, no dinner was prepared, and neither of them felt like cooking, so they ordered Chinese take out and sat cuddled on the couch, watching TV and eating sweet & sour pork, Chicken Chow Mein, prawn springrolls and bowties. Andrew had be on 'Belle Catherine' at 6am to prepare for departure at 9am, so they were all upstairs in bed by 10pm. And lo and behold, they did sleep through and were still in tiny tot dreamland when Andrew left the house at 5.30am for the yacht. He did not take much with him. Most of what he and Ryan needed was kept in the master cabin, so what he took with him was contained in a small carry-on bag. Ryan had told him he was going to take the twins for a walk in the stroller at about the time they were due to sail and where he would wait for them to sail past. It worked out so well, that he was just 100m short of his target, when a horn sounded out to sea, and turning he broke into a huge grin. 'Belle Catherine' was sailing toward him, at a very good rate of knots, the wind being almost behind her, just beyond the breakers. She looked magnificent with her gleaming white and blue hull, white super-structure , and the blue and white spinnaker billowing out ahead of the bows. They were so close, that had it not been for the crash of the surf on the beach, they could have shouted to one another. Andrew stood on the bows, waving madly and Ryan could clearly see him grinning too. Ryan bent down and scooped the twins out of the stroller, holding them so Andrew could see them. His grin widened, but at the same time, Ryan saw him lift a hand to his face as if wiping his eyes. They were, of course, going in entirely the wrong direction, as the charter was a south coast one, which they were now heading away from. Just past him, he watched as Andrew hauled in the spinnaker and the yacht made a smart turn to port. At the same time, he heard the whirr of the electric winches, and the mainsail and genoa rose on the mast, now sailing away from the beach, directly out to sea. The tacking manouver had been faultlessly done, and Ryan was impressed by Darren's ability. Andrew moved back to the starboard scoop, waving madly, until the yacht was just a speck on the horizon. Ryan knew it was going to be a hard run along the south coast, with the wind almost dead ahead. They would either have to engage the engines, or tack back and forth, working their way along the coast, until the wind, hopefully changed. The run back to Cape Town would be a fast one though. The four days that Andrew was away passed very slowly for Ryan. True, the babies kept him busy, but, like Andrew, he had the distinct impression that a part of him was missing. The huge bed in the main bedroom, seemed enormous and Ryan slept on Andrew's side of the bed, not only to be closer to the cot, but so he could sleep surrounded by his husbands unique smell. He knew he was being silly, but still. He did change sheets on the second day, but did not change the pillow covers, so he could lay his head where Andrew's had been. The one blessing was that the twins were now definitely sleeping through the night, so there were no more zero dark thirty feeding shifts. During the day before Andrew came home, Cameron and Elizabeth were both listless and out of sorts and Ryan was concerned they might be coming down with something. He eventually got them settled, but right through the night they were restless, making little unhappy sounds in their sleep. He took their temperatures, and they were normal. Their foreheads were cool to the touch, and when he lowered his ear close to the faces, he could not hear any rasping in their chests. By morning, he was concerned enough to phone Nicky, who was just on her way home from the hospital, so she said she would drive over and have a look at them. When she arrived, they were on the bed where Ryan had been playing with them. She examined them, also checking their temperatures, listened to their chests through her stethoscope, checked their glands and their eyes and ears. When she was done, she stood up, looked at Ryan and shrugged. "I can't find anything wrong Ry. There are perfectly healthy. They are beautiful by the way" "Thanks Nicky. But why are they so restless. It's way too early for them to be teething. And their eyes flick back and forth all the time" "Well, I see nothing to be concerned about. Where is Andrew by the way? He's out early!" "Drew is out on a charter. Four days, south coast. He'll be back today". Nicky chuckled. "Ah, that explains things. That's the problem. I know what is bothering them" Ryan looked at her blankly, "What?" "Ry, they are missing Andrew, simple as that". Ryan's eyes widened in surprise. "You are kidding me" "No, not at all. They have got used to him being around and now suddenly, they don't see him for four days and they are not happy about that. They know who you two are, they need you both around them. And they feel it when one of you are not around. This hasn't happened before, has it?" "Not that I'm aware of. And I am sure Andrew would have mentioned it if it had". "So then it is only recently that they have begun to recognise you and Andrew as their parents" Ryan's eyes widened again. "The day before Andrew left, we look them for a walk along the beachfront. They were in the baby carriers. They fell asleep while we were walking, but when Cameron woke up, he looked up at me like I had never seen him look before. Then he gave a big smile, and lifted his hand to touch my face. Is that it?". Nicky nodded. "I'm almost certain it was. Now Andrew is not here for four days and they don't like it. Just like you miss him, they miss him too. Being restless and fretful is just their way of showing it. Call me after Andrew gets home. If there is no change, we can look again. But I am fairly confident that Andrew coming home will cure what ails them". Ryan shook his head "Well I'll be dammed. Who would have thunk it. Thanks for coming Nicky. I appreciate it. How is Beth?" "Getting back into the swing of things. Her company closes next week for the holidays. I unfortunately have to work, being the newest resident on staff." "We must have a get together soon. Let us know when you are free and we will fit in with you. Are you working on Christmas Eve as well?" "No. Off Christmas Eve, but then working right through on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I'll have a room at the hospital where I can nap" "Hmmm, okay so that means Beth is going to be on her own. I'm pleased we are aware of that. So we can include her in plans if she wants to join us." "I'm sure she would appreciate that. Okay I'm going to take my leave. Phone me tonight" "I will, thanks again". When Andrew arrived home, Ryan made sure to position himself so that he could observe the twins. Andrew opened the door and yelled, "I'm home. Where is everybody?" Rascal took off like a rocket down the stairs to the door, then came running back up, turning in circles at the top of the landing. But it was the twins that stunned him. He was standing next to the crib watching them when Andrew reached the landing and bent down to play with Rascal, his voice clearly reaching them. The twins instantly became more alert, turning their heads toward his voice, their eyes searching. Andrew heard Ryan say, "Fuck me, she was right". Andrew looked at him quizzically and grinned. "Language my love, we have children present", then giggled. "What was that all about", walking over and encircling Ryan with his arms and kissing him. He turned to look at the crib, smiling broadly. "And my little babies". He knelt next to them. "Daddy missed you terribly". He picked them up and kissed their faces, nuzzling his face between theirs. They chortled and squirmed, waving their arms and kicking energetically. Cameron found a handful of hair and tugged. "Ow Cam, that hurt", gently extricating his hair from a tiny fist. The change in their moods was instantaneous. Ryan just shook his head. Andrew stood up and walked to him, a baby in each arm. "Who was right about what" Andrew asked. "Nicky! I called her this morning because I was worried about the twins", and he related the story "So according to Nicky, they were missing you. And quite honestly, I didn't really believe her. But having seeing the change since they heard your voice, I have to say, the doc was right" Andrew was dumbstruck and slightly overawed. That these two tiny angels, who had been entrusted into their care, could know that he was not in their tiny part of the world, and would miss him not being there. He sat on the couch and gazed at the infants. A huge lump was in his throat, and his eyes brimming tears. He felt his heart swell as the love he had for these two tiny human beings, staring up at him, grew even more. "My babies missed me. Oh my god, that is absolutely amazing. So small, but so aware of what is going on around them. I feel so humble. And so loved". Ryan sat next to him and put his arm around him. "You are loved. Don't ever forget that. And they know that we love them". "Babe, do you realise how difficult it's going to be to leave them when we know that they know that one of us is not around?" "Well at least for the next trip we won't have to worry about that. They will be with us.". "Yeah, there is that. Honestly, this has taken the wind out of my sails, if you'll excuse the pun. I'm just stunned. And sad. And happy. And proud". Ryan phoned Nicky later in the evening to tell her that all was hunkydory in baby world. "See, I told you. It will get better once their brains figure out that whoever is not there will be coming back. Even at their age, they are far smarter than we think. But I'm glad there is nothing wrong with them. Thanks for the feedback ". The next charter turned out to be a very interesting one. It was an exclusive charter with only one couple as guests. Daniel and Joan Kinley were from Miami, Florida and owned a company with outlets nationwide and in Canada, marketing eco-friendly industrial cleaning products. They were in their mid sixties, had numerous homes in the USA, had sold their motor yacht two years ago and were almost ready to launch their next yacht. In the meantime, they were travelling the world, leaving their eldest son to run the company. The couple had been one of the first to stay in the luxury suites at the lodge, with Claude bring their butler. And they had loved it. While in residence, they had seen the brochure for 'Belle Catherine' and upon learning that the owner of the lodge was also the owner and operator of the yacht, they had decided on a return trip to Cape Town to stay at the lodge and include a cruise on the yacht. As it was an exclusive charter, Andrew had been in contact with them with regard to what they wanted to see and do, and what their dietary requirements were. And, most importantly, there would be two babies on board. The reply he got back was very succinct. "We go wherever you want to go. Diets - NONE. Food Preferences - Local. NOT OTT. Babies - Not a problem! !" When Andrew showed Ryan the reply email, he raised his eyebrows and said, "I get the feeling they just want to chill and enjoy themselves. No fuss. I think just use the KISS principle 'Keep it simple, stupid'. I think simple, tasty ingredients, but the best we can get. They asked for local, so we do local. Biltong, venison, snoek, crayfish, kingklip, beef, lamb. We can do pickled fish, and Bobotie, Boerewors. Most Americans have never tasted boerewors". Ryan's enthusiasm caught Andrew and he added. "Okay, it's summer. So tasty salads for lunch with fresh breads, seed loaves and such. Then one night we do a meat BBQ, one night we do a fish BBQ. One night we go Cape Malay with picked fish and Bobotie with yellow rice and one night we have a grand dinner, maybe roast lamb or whole beef fillet, something like that" "Sounds good to me. They're paying a premium for the whole boat, so splash out on them a little". The itinerary had been carefully planned and food stocks ordered and delivered. They boarded the yacht extra early to get the twins settled in the master cabin and get everything shipshape. They had decided to keep the twins in the main cabin until they were sure there would be no problem. Rascal was spending time with his friend at Claude and François house. Sailaway was scheduled for 10am, and the lodge van duly arrived at 9.30am, revealing two tall, very spry guests. It was difficult to believe they were in their late sixties. They looked about 10 years younger. Andrew and Ryan stepped on shore to welcome them and take their luggage from the driver. "Mr and Mrs Kinley. My name is Andrew Devlin-Major and my husband and partner Ryan." "Pfft, young man. No Mr And Mrs. It's Dan and Joan. And we have been looking forward to this little trip for quite a while now". After greeting them, Ryan grabbed their two bags and placed then on deck, before boarding himself and turning to assist them aboard, with Andrew warily observing from behind. When they were both in the aft cockpit, Andrew ran to release the bow and stern lines and leapt aboard. Dan Kinley had kept a keen eye on the procedure and he nodded slightly. "Nicely done young man".. Dan and Joan were glancing at everything around them and peering into the saloon. Andrew walked into the saloon and came back with a bottle of sparkling wine and jug of peach juice. "Welcome aboard, can I offer you a glass of sparkling wine, peach juice or a bellini? Please sit down and relax, Ryan will be getting us underway shortly," he said, just as the motors rumbled into life. They both had bellini, half juice half sparkling wine and settled onto the rear couch.. "I know you both have boating experience, but I need to go through some safety rules before we get out to sea." Andrew went through his normal safety briefing, offering them top ups along the way, emphasising the side deck harnesses and pointing out the life raft and the extra life jacket storage, as well as the non slip deck slippers for their use. Ryan meanwhile, had coaxed 'Belle Catherine' away from the dock and was slowly motoring toward the bascule bridge, with Dan listening to Andrew, but keeping and eagle eye on the control of the yacht. When they had finished their drinks Andrew asked, "Would you like to go to your cabin, or stay up here for our departure?" Joan answered, "If you don't mind, we'd like to stay here. We are told arrival in and departure from Cape Town by boat is always spectacular". "No, not at all. Shall I leave the drinks or can I get you something else?" They both asked for bottled water, which Andrew removed from the cooler behind the helm, adding, "This cooler will always have beers, soft drinks and water. Please feel free to help yourselves. Will you excuse me while I take your bags to your cabin". He took both bags, descended into the port hull and placed the bags on the stool at the foot of the bed. Then he quickly crossed the saloon into the starboard hull to check on the twins, who were fast asleep. He had a baby monitor in his top pocket, but wanted to check nevertheless. When he returned to the aft cockpit, Joan was relaxing in the corner of the seating area, and Dan was sitting with Ryan at the helm. Andrew brought with him bowls of crisps, nuts and pretzels. He sat down to chat to Joan when Dan turned around. "You boys run a tight ship here. I'm very impressed. Everything neat, clean and in its place. Just the way I like my boats to be run. Ryan tells me you own the boat. Tell me, how does someone so young manage to own a 1.2million US dollar boat and a luxurious lodge in the most beautiful city in the world?" Andrew smiled wistfully. "Firstly, she is our boat. We are partners in business and marriage. As to how we own her? I received a very large inheritance when my parents were killed in a motor accident a few years ago. I used some of my inheritance to buy the lodge, and when Ryan returned from Europe where he had been working on charter motor yachts, we decided to have 'Belle Catherine' built, and sail her for charter. She is named after my mom". Dan regarded Andrew carefully. "Wait, Devlin!. You wouldn't be related to William Devlin? He owned a company called Devlin Ecological Products. I know he was killed in a vehicle pile up with his wife" Andrew stared at the man in shock "Yes, he was my dad. And that was his company. Did you know my dad?" Ryan was listening intently, but also concentrating on the exit from harbour. Dan nodded. "Yes, son. I knew your dad. He and I did very good business for many years. I was deeply saddened when I heard he had been killed. We had a very good business relationship with him and his company. Still do to a certain extent. The crowd that bought the company are not as client orientated as your father was. We buy raw material from them for our own use back home. As we did with your dad just not as much now as then" Andrew said softly, "Wow, such a small world. Okay, let me give you the two penny tour and show you to your cabin. This is the aft cockpit and helm station. You came on board via the scoops. Weather permitting, this is where most of the gatherings take place. Meals, drinks etc. We can also do drinks on deck in the bows. Should you need ice, there is an ice maker in the locker to the left of the saloon door. You already know about the drinks cooler. Please follow me" He stepped into the saloon. "This is the saloon, galley and interior naigation station. Port aft, off the galley and the navigation station, are the stairs down into the port hull. The starboard hull has similar stairs between the entertainment console and the saloon dining area. We have five cabins in total. Three in the port hull, forward, midships and aft. Those are all guest cabins. There are only two in the starboard hull. Forward, which we use as a guest cabin, or an extra crew cabin, and the master cabin" Joan held up a finger. "I seem to remember something about having babies on board. Are there? I certainly haven't heard any!" Andrew nodded warily. "You are correct. We have our twins, Cameron and Elizabeth with us. When Ryan and I do charters together, we prefer to bring them with us. With an exclusive charter like this it is much easier. If it is a full complement charter, then we have two crew members who can assist us. But usually either Ryan or I will stay in Cape Town with the twins. I hope you don't mind? And I hope they won't be any trouble. We will keep them in the master cabin to disturb you as little as possible". Joan had a horrified look on her face and Andrew braced himself. "Andrew you will do no such thing. You bring them upstairs whenever you need or want to. It will not be a problem. How old are they?" Andrew smiled, breathing a sigh of relief. "Four months tomorrow". "Good lord, and you have them on a yacht. Very brave of you" Andrew giggled. "They went on their first cruise at six weeks. And quite honestly, to leave them at home is, well, heartbreaking", relating the story of his previous trip. "Well, you are obviously doing something right, if your absence had that effect on them. I cannot wait to meet them. All our grandkids are a little older now. It will be lovely to have a baby or two to spoil" Andrew led then down into the port hull to their cabin. "It obviously is not as big as those on board your motor yachts, but we do the best with the space we have" He opened the cabin door and ushered them in. He need not have been worried. They were thrilled.The cabin was bathed in sunlight from the portholes and the overhead hatches, cool sea air blowing through it. . "Oh Andrew, this is beautiful. Small but perfectly formed. No wasted space. I like it. Who did your decor? They did very well! " "Well actually, Ryan and I put her together. With the help of the yacht builder." He explained all the features of the cabin, pointing out the air conditioning, fans and TV, as well as the emergency escape hatch, and the bathroom. Dan commented, "Lordy, you fit all that in here, and we have to fight with builders for something similar on our motor yacht in almost triple the amount of space. Those guys should come here to see what clever shipbuilding is all about" Andrew added, "Before I go, and leave you to get settled, this entire hull is yours for the duration of the trip. If you want to use two bathrooms, please feel free to do so". Just then a soft cry emanated from his pocket. "Oh shoot, one of them is awake, Lunch will be ready at 13h00" and he hurried away to their cabin. It was Elizabeth who was awake and when Andrew lifted her out of the crib he could tell she needed changing. He kissed and cuddled her, talking softly. "Did daddy's baby girl have a nice sleep. But my little girl is a little bit shtinky. We can't have that, can we?" He quickly cleaned her up and dressed her in a tiny blue and white outfit that matched his and Ryan's uniforms and took her up to the saloon where he secured her in her baby chair which he placed on the saloon lounge seating, where she could see everything going on around her and he could keep an eye on her. They were clear of the harbour, and Ryan walked over and kissed her forehead. "Hello, my little angel. You look so pretty, and smell so nice. He stayed bent over her as her little hands touched his face. There was another small sound from the monitor as Andrew looked up. "That's Cam. Will you watch her while I see to him". Ryan nodded and Andrew went to sort Cameron out, before appearing with him a short while later, dressed similarly to his sister. Ryan grinned as they got to the top of the stairs, and held out his arms, taking him from Andrew who went to the galley to start lunch. "There's my little boy. You look so smart too. Just like your sister". He settled Cameron in his chair next to Elizabeth. He looked at Andrew. "Will you be okay with them. Can I go back to the helm, or do you need me?" Andrew giggled impishly and arched an eyebrow. "I will always need you my love, but we have guests who could appear at any minute". Ryan chuckled, moving towards the door to the aft seating area. "You are incorrigible! And not in front of the kids please!" He was still chuckling as he made himself comfortable at the helm. Andrew got started on a light lunch of Smoked Snoek Terrine with Grape Preserve and a salad of greens, baby tomatoes, spring onions and avocado. There was fresh seed loaf to go with it. He set the table in the aft cockpit and turned on some background music. Dan and Joan came up from their cabin, both having changed into cooler clothes, Joan now wearing a light summer dress and large sunhat, and Dan in shorts and loose short-sleeved shirt. They were both barefoot. Joan's eyes lit up when she saw the twins and she headed straight to them, bending over the baby chairs to see them. Dan joined Ryan at the helm. Blue eyes and tawny eyes regarded the stranger seriously for a few moments and then broke out in smiles and gurgles accompanied by vigorous arm waving and leg kicking. Quite simply, they charmed the pants off her. "Oh Andrew, they are beautiful. But your son has blue eyes, which most definitely means Ryan is his father. His black hair is obviously from his mother. While the little girl has your colouring. You said they were twins?" Andrew walked over, drying his hands on a cloth. "Yes, that's correct. We used a surrogate in a procedure called heteropaternal superfecundation. One egg was fertilised with my sperm and another with Ryan's and implanted into the surrogate. It took a couple of tries, but it worked. Twins with the same mother, but two fathers. Cameron's eyes are Ryan's, his black hair comes from David, Ryan's dad. That black hair and those blue eyes are going to break many a heart when he gets older, I fear. Elizabeth looks very much like my mom did at that age". "Heavens, how extraordinary. Never heard of it", glancing over her shoulder at him. "Neither had we until a doctor friend told us about it. The original plan was two babies, two years apart, two different fathers", Andrew explained. Joan straightened and stepped away from the twins. "Well, you two and their mother sure make cute babies". Andrew laughed. "Thank you. And there will probably be at least one more in the future", and he told her about the plans Nicky and Beth had. She just laughed and shook her head, "You kids of today always forward thinking. I can just imagine the fuss if it had happened when I was young. Oh the scandal!" She stepped out into the aft cockpit and looked at the table, frowning. "You've only set the table for two. Will you and Ryan not be joining us for lunch?" she asked. "Normally on charters, Ryan and I will grab something after the guest's have dined, except when we have BBQ, then we join them as it is more informal". She looked at Dan, then said, "Well, this is our charter and we insist that you join us for meals". Andrew nodded and returned to the galley to gather the additional crockery, cutlery and glassware, which he placed on the table. When he was done, Andrew said, "Lunch is ready, would you like to sit down" and moved into the galley to bring out the meal and a bottle of Sparkling Rose. He and Ryan had grape juice. Ryan fetched the twins and propped them in the corner of the seating, facing them. They were drinking bottles with apple juice in them. Andrew set the plates down and Dan asked, "What do we have here?" "This is smoked snoek terrine, with grape preserve, salad and seed bread. Snoek is a fish very popular here in the Cape, mostly eaten smoked or grilled on the coals. It is very bony, but once the bones are out, the meat is very tasty. We want to buy a fresh one off the boats further up the coast to BBQ later in the cruise." Joan tasted it and nodded. "Hmmm, it is tasty. The preserve counters the saltiness perfectly. Why do you call it sparkling wine. It is champagne is it not?" Andrew nodded again. "It is essentially champagne. Made in the Methode Champagnoise that they use in France. However, there is some law that prohibits anyone from using the word 'champagne' unless it is made in the Champagne region in France. So we call or sparkling wine". "Trust the bloody Frogs to be difficult. Typical!", muttered Dan. They all laughed and Andrew added, "We have rubbed their noses in it a couple of times where our sparklings have beaten their champagnes in competitions". After a relaxed lunch, finished off with a platter of Milk tartlets and coffee, Dan and Joan moved onto the bows, where Ryan had laid out two sun loungers, while Andrew cleared the table and Ryan sat at the helm and watched the twins and the guests on the bows. Andrew brought two bottles and each of the dads fed a baby as they cruised serenely up the coast, the billowing spinnaker pulling them through the water. They sailed up as far as Yserfontein, a village of fisherman cottages and upmarket houses and anchored in a small bay just off the main beach for the night. Ryan took Dan and Joan ashore in the dinghy, while Andrew stayed on board to start preparing dinner and listening for the twins who were sleeping . Dinner was going to be a BBQ, so Andrew had taken out boerewors (farmers sausage), a ground beef sausage unique to South Africa, lamb cutlets and ostrich steaks, to grill over the coals, with garlic bread potato salad, green salad and a copper penny salad. Dessert would be malva pudding with ice cream and, or custard, mainly for Ryan's benefit who like both. He planned to open a bottle of his favourite Pinot Noir wine and also made some pickled fish which he wanted to use for dinner the following night and needed to marinate in its sauce for as long as possible. He rubbed the steaks with dry spices and drizzled over some olive oil, and poured a mint and rosemary spiked marinade over the lamb cutlets. When Ryan returned with Dan and Joan just before sunset, Andrew had cocktails ready as they came aboard for sundowners. As they would not be sailing tonight, the boys could join their guests with something stronger in their cocktails, and have a glass of wine at dinner. As soon as they stepped on board, Joan sniffed the air and asked, "What is that heavenly aroma? It smells just like India". Andrew grinned at her. "That would probably be the sauce I made for the pickled fish for dinner tomorrow night. It has to marinate overnight for all the flavours to develop.". "Well it smells divine. I don't know if I can wait until tomorrow night", she replied. He laughed, "It will be worth it, I promise. Tonight we are going to have a braai , or BBQ". "Sounds good"' said Dan, "I'm going to freshen up and change. You coming darling", looking at Joan . "Yes I am. We will see you boys in a while" and they went down to their cabin . Andrew put his arms around Ryan and stared into his eyes. "I think our two munchkins are awake. I've been hearing little noises on the monitor for a while now. They seem to be perfectly content with one another's company, but what say we go down and give them a bath and get them ready for the night. Dinner is all but ready. I just need to set the table and the meat needs to be braaied. So we have time". Ryan grinned at him. "I say we go spend some time with our children", taking him by the hand and leading him to their cabin. As soon as the twins saw them they became more animated, letting out little screams and gurgles, their arms and legs moving about and their eyes following the boys as they moved around them. While Andrew prepared their bath, Ryan lay with them on the bed for a few minutes before starting to undress them. When the water was ready they washed the twins hair and bathed them, then rinsed them off with a softly running shower hose which they had discovered the twins loved. Then they dried them and rubbed them with baby lotion and powder, put on fresh diapers and dressed them, before carrying them up to the saloon to feed them, then winded them and put them back into their chairs. Ryan went to get the grill started, turning on the deck lights and the underwater hull lights as he went, leaving 'Belle Catherine' floating on a pool of green light, while Andrew pottered around the galley finishing dinner and then setting the aft dining table and the counter below the galley window to act as a buffet, where he placed the warmer and the salads. When Dan and Joan joined them, they immediately commented on the underwater lights. "That is so spectacular. Our first yacht did not have underwater hull lighting, but the new one will. You guys spared no expense here, did you?", Dan said. Ryan offered them a drink, scotch and soda for Dan, and gin and tonic fof Joan, and then fetched the meat to start cooking it. They were anchored into the wind, so Andrew did not bother closing the saloon doors for the smoke. Soon delicious aromas of grilling meat filled the area and everyone suddenly had an appetite. When the meat was ready, Ryan arranged it all on a platter and set it on the warmer, while Andrew fetched the garlic bread from the oven and checked the twins who had fallen asleep. He announced dinner and Dan and Joan helped themselves and sat down. Andrew poured the wine for them and he and Ryan dished up and joined them. They ate quietly for a while before Joan commented, "You boys have excelled yourselves. We asked for local and you give us local. Two new taste experiences in two meals, snoek and now, boerewors. I just love it. Andrew, you have to give me the recipe". Andrew smiled apologetically. "I don't have one, I'm afraid. We buy it from our butcher. And each butcher has their own recipe. I'm sure there must be tons of recipes on the internet. The basics are good beef, crushed coriander seeds, salt and pepper. After that it's up to you. Wait until dessert. Now there is a recipe I can give you" She nodded, "I'm going to make that a project when we get back home". They ate a leisurely dinner, Dan going back for seconds. Ryan helped Andrew clear the table and the buffet, then took the twins down to put them to bed for the night. Meanwhile, Andrew was serving the malva pudding into bowls and taking the ice cream out of the freezer. He carried the bowls out to the table and set them down explaining, "This is probably the country's favourite warm dessert. It can be served with cream, ice cream or custard. Tonight we have ice cream and custard with Amarula liqueur in it. You can have one or both. Ryan likes both. He heard a "Heh heh, yeah. Malva pudding!" Dan and Joan laughed and Dan said, "If Ryan says it's good with both, who am I to argue. Sign me up!" "I'll have ice cream with just a little custard please. What is Amarula liqueur?" asked Joan. While Andrew was sorting out the desserts, Ryan explained. "It's a cream liqueur made from the fruit of the amarula tree. The indigenous inhabitants noticed the elephants and monkeys eating the fruit off the trees and then begin stumbling about after a while. The fruit was fermenting in their stomachs and making them drunk. So they started making a liquor from the fruit. Nowadays we call it Amarula. Let me get the bottle and you can taste it", getting up to go to the liquor cabinet. He brought back the bottle and four fluted liqueur glasses, into which he poured the ivory coloured liqueur. They tasted it and it was another instant hit. "Dan, we gotta get ourselves some of this before we go home". Andrew brewed coffee and they sat chatting after dinner and before anyone realised it, it was approaching 11pm. Dan and Joan thanked them for dinner and went to their cabin. Andrew and Ryan tidied up, packed the dishwasher and got it going, before turning off all the lights except for the mast light and the underwater lights. Ryan closed the saloon security gate, leaving the main doors slightly ajar, set the intruder alert and they retired to the master cabin. Andrew woke up, not really sure why. He got out of bed and checked the twins. They were sleeping soundly. Standing next to the crib on his bare feet, he became aware of a faint thrum, thrum through the deck. Puzzled, the went to the switch box, but there was nothing running that would cause the vibrations he could feel. He padded up the stairs to the saloon and as his head reached the top, he caught the reflection of something over the transom on the water. Feeling more than a little uneasy, he stood at the top of the stairs, and watched as a dinghy slowly circled the yacht, coming a little closer each time. There were four men on board. Andrew retreated down the stairs back to the cabin and woke Ryan. "Ry, I think we got trouble. There are four guys in a dinghy, moving slowly around us." Ryan jumped out of bed and followed Andrew up the stairs. He and Andrew watched the dinghy for a few moments. Then he hurried over to the navigation station and turned on the radio. "Yserfontein harbour, Yserfontein harbour, does anyone read me?" Moments later the radio crackled, "This is Yserfontein police station. Please identify yourself?" "Yserfontein, this is sailing vessel 'Belle Catherine'. We are currently anchored in the bay of your town in front of the big white houses. We have a suspicious dinghy with four men in it circling us at the moment." "Belle Catherine, we read you. We know where you are. We are dispatching a vehicle immediately and a patrol boat from the harbour. Do not go out on deck. Secure all external doors and wait until we arrive!" "Understood Yserfontein. 'Belle Catherine' standing by. Babe, you better wake Dan and Joan and tell them what is happening". "What about Cameron and Elizabeth?" "Leave them be for the moment. They are as safe as they can be where they are". Andrew disappeared into the port hull, emerging a few minutes later with Dan and Joan. Dan carried a pistol in his hand. "What's happening? Where are they?", he whispered. Ryan pointed forward. "Just going around the bows". 'Belle Catherine' had her bows pointed directly at the beach and Ryan noticed a vehicle creep slowly to a stop in the parking area. "I think that might be the cops" He looked to the mouth of the bay and breathed a sigh of relief as he saw a patrol boat stopped on the middle of the channel into the bay. "Belle Catherine', this is Yserfontein. Do you have any external lights other than your running lights and underwater lights? "That's affirmative, Yserfontein. We have a masthead security light and searchlight". "Good. On my word, turn them on. We have a searchlight on our vehicle as well, and the patrol boat has one too. These guys are in for the fright of their lives. We have been after them for a few weeks now. Ready, steady, now!" 'Belle Catherine's' searchlight flooded the surrounding area with light, while two fingers of light probed out of the darkness from shore and from the sea. And it turned into a comedy of errors. The startled helmsman, jinked to the side and opened the throttle fully at the same time. The two men sitting on the sides found themselves flying through the air and splashing into the icy cold water. The man sitting in the bow facing the stern, was thrown forward across the length of the dinghy, headbutting the helmsman in the chest and sending them both overboard as well, getting badly cut up by the propeller on the way. The kill switch prevented the dinghy from going far. The patrol boat powered up and raced into the bay, stopping next to the first two struggling in the water. They were unceremoniously hauled out the water and the boat moved on to the last two and they were pulled out as well, blood clearly visible from their wounds. A crew member from the boat boarded the dinghy and turned it toward the beach, where it picked up a policeman and raced to 'Belle Catherine', heading for the scoops. At the last minute Ryan remembered the intruder alert and turned to flick the switch. He was just too late. The policeman had stepped into the secure zone and the alarm sounded for five seconds until Ryan keyed in the code. It was enough to wake the twins who started crying at being woken so abruptly. "Shit, I so did not want them to wake up", grumbled Ryan, getting up to unlock the doors and Dan slipped his pistol into the small of his back. Andrew dashed down to the cabin, followed by Joan. Ryan and Dan greeted the policeman when he stepped onto the deck, his badge revealing his name as Sergeant Simone "Good morning officer. I'm Ryan Devlin-Major, the skipper. This is Dan Kinley, our charter guest. Thank you for getting here so quickly. Any idea what they were up to?" "Good morning gentlemen. We have been having some problems with a gang of four men boarding private yachts at night for a few weeks now. Usually they only board yachts that are unoccupied. So tonight was definitely a change in their usual modus operandi. But we got them, thanks to you. Even if they are a little cut up and waterlogged. They didn't come on board did they?" "No, as you heard, if they had the intruder alert would have sounded" "Good, well in that case, we are done here. I won't need any statements and if we do need any information, it will be easy to contact you. Thank you for your help tonight" "No, no, it is we who must thank you. We have four month old twins on board as well. I would kill anyone who tries to harm them" "Well then they are fortunate they did not come aboard. Good night gentlemen. Try to get some more sleep if you can. What time are you sailing?". "We were thinking of leaving early to get to Langebaan, but we may delay slightly and leave later. We'll just play it by ear" "Okay, good night, and good sailing. Very nice boat you got here by the way". "Thank you. Maybe next time we are up this way, we can stop off and you can come aboard to have a look". "That would be very nice. Thank you" and he stepped back into the dinghy back to shore. Ryan locked up again, turned off the exterior lights and went down to the master cabin where one of the babies was still sounding very unhappy. It was Elizabeth. Cameron was in Andrew's arms, sniffling and hiccupping from crying, but Elizabeth would not be consoled, as hard as Joan tried. Ryan held out his hands and Joan gently handed the squalling infant to Ryan. He gathered her in his arms rocking her gently. "Hey, dads little girl. Did you get a fright when you woke up, my angel?. It's all over now. Dad is here." He continued talking softly to her before moving her so that she could see him, holding her head and her bottom in his hands. "Shhh my baby girl. You make dad very sad when you cry like that. I'm here. Don't cry". Elizabeth looked up at him, eyes swimming with tears and her face marked by tears already spilt. Ryan felt like his heart was breaking. He hated hearing them cry unhappy tears. Abruptly she stopped crying, hiccupping as she quietened. Her face smoothed out and became less red, and then she she smiled at him, one tiny hand reaching for him. "That's better. There's my little girl I know. All over now.". He bent forward to kiss her forehead and she gurgled, grabbing a fistful of hair. " Oww, little minx, that's sore", gently pulling away. Joan put her hand on his arm. "All she wanted was her father. These two have you two wrapped around their little fingers. I just cannot figure out who is luckier. Them or you." Ryan grinned at her. "Oh, no contest. Definitely us. I had no idea just how much joy and adventure these two would bring into our lives. There has not been one day, not even one minute where I regret having them. And I speak for both of us. There is nothing more special than being a dad, and being able to share it with someone like Andrew just makes it even more special" "Well whatever it is you two are doing, you're doing it right. What I witnessed here just now, tells me that as much as they are loved, these two little imps love you right back. And trust you. Never break that trust. As they get older and develop ideas of there own, you might find it hard to accept. But love them and trust them and all will be well in the end. Now I think it's time for some more shuteye . Come Daniel, back to bed" and she took Dan by the arm to go over to their cabin. Ryan snuggled with Elizabeth for a while, Andrew doing the same with Cameron, but eventually Ryan looked up and sniffed. "I think she needs a change How is he?" Andrew looked down at Cameron. "He seems to be fine. Might be wet though. A change would only be good for them" They put fresh diapers on the twins, then Ryan went upstairs for one more check, before resetting the intruder alert . Then they got back into bed with the twins between them. They played with them for a while, but eventually little eyelids grew heavy and closed. Andrew turned off the cabin lights and they settled down for the remainder of the night.
  3. Andre Delport

    Chapter 14

    Not sure whether this is good or bad news but here goes. At the moment I have 31 chapters complete. I am considering splitting it into two books.
  4. Andre Delport

    Chapter 14

    Hi Coastguard, thank you for the feedback. Not an excuse - just an explanation. The chapters are edited numerous times before being uploaded onto the site. I found that once uploaded, the layout isn't what it was on my original copy, so it has to be edited again. Letters have been chopped off the words at the end of a line, spacing changed etc. I think it is in this edit that the errors are creeping in. I read your comment in the user feedback and paid particular attention to this chapter when the uploaded copy was edited. Seem I still missed a few. My apologies.
  5. Andre Delport

    Chapter 14

    Not surne why this chapter is visible. Still editing and showing as unpublished. Please bear with me. OK, published now!
  6. And here they were, approaching the end of the years first charter. Andrew roused himself from his memories of the past, and realised just how lucky he was, notwithstanding the loss of his parents, and Ryan's close call. Hell, no, they were successful businessmen, who owned a lodge that had not only grown in size, but had grown as a business as well, with a reputation to be proud of, and operated a very successful luxury yacht charter operation, that was also slowly making a name for itself. He was married to the most loving, adorable, kindhearted and understanding man in the world - in his opinion - and in mid August they would become parents to two beautiful babies. His thoughts were interrupted by Ryan calling him. "Drew, we're about an hour out". Knowing what that meant, Andrew looked at their guests, lying prone on the trampolines and sitting on the seats on the bows, watching the dolphins gambol just ahead of the bows. "Folks, I hate to break this up, but we will be arriving in the marina within the hour. I suggest you all go below and get your packing done, so that Ryan and I can move your luggage to the saloon in preparation for disembarkation. Please be careful as you move from here to the stern". It was also a message that Ryan needed the bow area cleared to lower the huge spinnaker into its locker. The final part of the trip would be completed under engine power. The guests stood up and moved down the side decks, with Andrew and Ryan carefully observing them until they were safely in the aft cockpit. Andrew followed them, taking over the helm position while Ryan went onto the bow to lower the spinnaker. Rascal lay curled up on the seat next to him. As the sail was being lowered, Andrew started the port engine, and engaged the throttle to take some of the wind pressure off the sail, to assist Ryan with the lowering. When that was in its locker, Ryan came back to the helm station. "Perfect timing with the engine power there babe! Made getting it down much easier". Andrew grinned at him. "You showed me how to do it, so I thought I might as well practice it. It was easier than I thought. I just wasn't too sure how much power to give the engine, so I just went with my gut". Ryan put an arm around his shoulders and hugged him. "Couldn't have done it better myself". The timing was spot on, and an hour later they were motoring past the bascule bridge into the marina and fifteen minutes after that, the guests were disembarked and being driven away in the lodge van. The charter season proved to be a busy one, with a three, four or five day trip every week. The gaps were covered by day and overnight charters. They were very much the niche boat in the charter community, the other boats being larger, but they were all essentially party boats, all the available space being dedicated to open area with basic seating for large groups. There was no, or very little, accommodation space on board. There were one or two boats that had sleeping accommodation, but none of them came close to the level of comfort that 'Belle Catherine' provided, so they were very much at the luxury end of themarket. Crews from the other boats would often request to come aboard to have a look around, and would always leave very impressed by 'Belle Catherine'. Andrew and Ryan observed the visitors very closely, often comparing notes afterward. They were hoping to find their relief skipper and crew among those that visited the boat. They had decided to look for a 1st Mate/Deckhand and one crew to take over if either of them were not around, and they had also taken the decision to have the babies on board with them as soon as it was practical. They still had time to find the ideal crew members, as they would only really be needed at the beginning of the new summer season in October. After the final charter at the end of April, 'Belle Catherine' was due to be hauled out and given a thorough check by her builders and to finally get her repaint to repair the damage caused by the vandals. The yard they were using had been approved by Steve, who had one of his senior team in place to oversee the haulout. The insurance company were no longer a factor as the claim had been paid out into the charters bank account. Andrew had also arranged for Steve to fly down to give them advice on how to baby-proof the yacht. In preparation for the hauling out, Andrew and Ryan spent two days, stripping her of every movable item for storage in the spare bedroom of the apartment. When they were done, she was just the bare boat. No utensils or soft furnishings remained. Even the mattresses were stored. Beth's pregnancy was going well, her morning sickness over and the babies were growing well. An exciting moment came at the end of March when Andrew received a call from Beth asking if they could meet for lunch. He was immediately paranoid. "Why? Is there something wrong? Are the babies okay?" he queried anxiously, making Ryan's head jerk up in alarm as well.The mobile was on speaker. "Andrew, calm down! The babies are fine. I just have some more news. So can we meet for lunch?" "Yes sure. Can we pick you up?" Beth giggled. "At the rate my tummy has been growing, I doubt that would be possible. You could fetch me though! 12.30 okay? Ryan collapsed onto the couch laughing. Andrew glared at him. "Yeah, sure Beth, no problem. Just you or will Nicky be joining us?" "She'll be there. Day off today" "Great, see you at 12.30" The girls were waiting when they arrived and they drove to Camps Bay, and settled into comfortable chairs in one of the many bistros across the road from the beach, sitting indoors due to the cool weather. Ryan and Nicky ordered pasta while Andrew and Beth chose lightly curried butternut soup finished with cream and crispy bacon. The soup was served in bread bowls , the soft centre on a side plate for dipping. Once they had ordered, Ryan asked "So what's the news you have for us?" Beth looked at them. "I went for another scan yesterday", handing them copies of the scan. "We know what the babies sexes are. Do you want to know?" Andrew beamed "Hell yes, of course we do! Can we see it on the scans?" She nodded. "Yes, you can. Nicky will explain them" Nicky leaned over and took the scan from Andrew, who leaned over to share with Ryan as she described what they were looking at. "They are upside down right now, facing one another, but slightly on their backs." indicating with her finger. "Now, here and here is where the genitalia are. The one on the right, has a small bump. The other doesn't", glancing up at them to see if either of them had figured it out. Ryan was the first to react, a smile lighting up his face, his eyes wide. "A boy and a girl. We're having a boy and a girl! Am I right?" Nicky nodded, beaming. "Yup, got it in one." Andrew was grinning at her, his eyes shining. "Oh my god, a boy and a girl. A pigeon pair". Beth broke in. "At this stage, the little boy is the bigger one. He weighs a few grams more than his sister, but they are both doing really well. My gynae is estimating round about the second week in August, with a week either way". Andrew and Ryan were staring intently at the scan. "It suddenly seems so real, seeing them, knowing what they will be, and when their birth can be expected", breathed Andrew, slightly awed. Ryan nodded "And we still have stuff to do before that happens. It's good that we know the sexes. Now we can start shopping for clothes, and finish the nursery. And decide on names! Thanks Beth. Thanks Nicky. You've both been absolute stars. We cannot thank you enough. Just something my mom mentioned during on of her calls. Once they are born, what do you want to do about feeding? Do you want to breastfeed for a while, then put them onto formula? Also, when do you want to stop working?" A waiter arrived with their meals, and they waited until she left before continuing the discussion, eating in between. Nicky jumped back in. "That's all a little up in the air at the moment. I have applied for a position at a private hospital, not far from your house. If I get the job, which I should know quite soon, we want to sell our place and move closer to the hospital. Beth is going to be on maternity leave for six months, I would guess, from the beginning of July. I know my timing for changing jobs sucks, but it's a nice step up for me" Andrew glanced at Ryan and took his hand. "I want to make a suggestion. And I'm sure Ry will back me up. If you get the job, which I'm sure you will, put your place on the market. Then move into the house with us. It will take the pressure off finding a new home and give you some time to look at what is available. When Beth stops working, you won't have to worry about only having one income and one or both of us will be around to help her, while you are at the hospital, and when the babies are born, Beth is close for the breastfeeding or if she doesn't want to breastfeed, she can just pump milk and Ryan and I can feed them. Stay for as long as you wish. The house-keeper will be around as well, by then" Beth put her hand on Andrew's. "We appreciate the offer, but we will have to talk about it and get back to you. There's a lot to think about" They finished lunch, dropped the girls at their home and drove back to Blouberg, both very thoughtful. They opened the door to find a tail wagging Rascal on the step, somehow still having a look in his sad brown eyes that reproached them for leaving him alone for so long. Ryan opened the patio door to let him run in the garden and he took off, running in mad circles around the pool then leaping onto the patio to come to a sliding halt against Ryan's boots. Ryan picked him up and cuddled him. "Hey, my little soldier, you glad your daddys are home". Rascal squirmed in this arms, nuzzling and licking his face. The little puppy was indeed very happy! . Later that night, after Andrew had made cheese, ham and tomato omelettes for supper, they sat on the couch facing the window, with Rascal snuggled between them, as usual. Only the table lamps were on and the couch and immediate surroundings were bathed in subdued light. The rest of the room was dark. They had the laptop out and were scrolling through websites with lists of names for boys and girls. Andrew had a notepad and pen at the ready. And it already had a short list of potential names in two columns. Ryan frowned at the screen and without looking up he asked, "Babe, do we give them second names as well?" Andrew thought for a moment, the said, "You know what? I don't think so. Our surname is already double barrelled. The poor kids will need a whole line on a page to write their names if we give them a second name as well" "Hmmm, true. Devlin-Major is already a bit of a mouthful. Maybe you're right, although I did have something in mind for the girl., but the boy is a totally different problem. Can you imagine something like William David Devlin-Major? The child would hate us for life." Andrew giggled. "With the initials WDDM, he sounds like a weapon of mass destruction. Yours were already bad enough. RPM. I should start calling you 'Rev' instead of Ry", falling sideways as Ryan took a swipe at him and making Rascal sit up wondering what the hell was going on. "I was called that at school you know. At least now it's RPDM, so it's not so obvious. But I agree, it does sound terribly pompous", putting on an English accent. He was interrupted by his mobile ringing. Picking it up from the side table, he looked at the screen. 'MOM'. He put it on speaker. "Hi mom, how things in the far north?" "Hello, my darling. Everything is good up here. How is Drew?" He held the phone towards Andrew. "I'm very well mom, how are you and dad?" "We are all well. But also one of the reasons I phoned. Your dad and I were wondering if we could come down this weekend. We haven't seen you since new year and we have something to discuss with you". Ryan glanced quickly at Andrew. "I don't think I like the sound of that. Something good or something bad?." "No, it's nothing to get worried about. Oh okay, I'll tell you. Your father has decided to retire at the end of June. We wants to sell up here and move to Cape Town and we want to look at property. Just take a look at what's available and the prices, and we want to downsize". "Oh wow mom, that's great news. Yes, of course you can come. You shouldn't even ask. Just let us know you are coming. How long will you be staying?" "No more than four days. It's a long weekend " "Oh, yes, I had forgotten. No problem. Give us some info, and I will get Ivan, the agent who sold us this house to start looking around for you as well" Ryan asked her all the pertinent questions, with Andrew writing furiously next to him. "Okay ma, got it all. We got some news of our own. We found out today, the babies will be born around the middle of August. A boy and a girl", holding the phone away from his ear. The shriek that emanated from the phone made Rascal sit up and growl, and would probably have damaged Ryan's eardrum. "A boy and a girl. Oh god, Ry I am so happy for you and Drew. Have you thought of names yet?" "Busy with it as we speak". "Okay, well I will let you get on with it then. I'm so thrilled and so is your father. Will you be able to pick us up at the airport?" "No probs ma, just send me your flight details. And we well get hold of Ivan first thing tomorrow". "Thanks darling, loves to you both", and she was gone. Ryan looked at Andrew sideways. "Methinks my mother has decided we need help, but don't quote me on that". "I think she just wants to be close to her grandchildren. They are not getting any younger and I don't think your dad will just retire on a whim. He would have thought about it very carefully before he took the decision. Before your mom phoned you said you had an idea for the girl's name?" "Oh, yes! I was thinking Elizabeth Janice. Beth's full name, your mom's second name, and my moms name. It covers all the bases. What do you think?" Andrew stared out the window for a moment before answering. "Sounds perfect to me. It would mean she would have two first names, but I think it's a good solid name and honours all the women in her life. Elizabeth Janice Devlin-Major. It does sound good! One thing though, can we keep the names secret until they are born? Once we decide on a name for the boy." "Yeah, I don't see why not. I think we have been quite generous in revealing their genders, so a secret ortwo is perfectly in order, in my opinion. Keep them guessing!" Ivan had just arrived at his office when Andrew and Ryan pushed through the door the next morning. "Hi guys, what brings you here so early. Can I get you something to drink?" "I think we're both fine, thanks Ivan. We just had coffee before we left home" replied Andrew "Then what can I do for you?" Ivan asked. "Well, my dad has decided to retire, and they want to move down here. And they need to find some- whe re to live ", Ryan told him. "How soon will they be coming down?" "My dad retires at the end of June. So I would guess shortly after that. But they are coming down for the long weekend, hoping to look at what's available." "Okay, cool, no problem. Give me some details" "Nothing too big. My mom did say they want to downsize. So small freehold property, house or townhouse, I would guess, 2 or 3 bedrooms, definitely 2 bathrooms, garage, garden not too big. And I would suggest single level, no duplexes. Fairly close to our place, but not imperative. In the 1.5 to 2 million mark. Anything else?" "Will the purchase be subject to the sale of their property in Johannesburg?" "To be honest, I don't know, but I would think not. I would think what dad has put away for his retirement would more then cover it. The sale of the house would just be an added bonus on top". "And", Andrew added, "if they need some help, and the house doesn't sell, we can help them out" Ivan nodded. "I get the picture. I have a number of properties that would suit them. It is all just a matter of location. Are they flying down on Friday or will they be here on Thursday already? "According to the flight details my mom sent, arriving mid afternoon Thursday, back late afternoon Monday" "Okay, great! I will set up appointments for Friday morning and Saturday morning, say from 10am. If they want to, they can drive around on Sunday afternoon, when most of the agents have showhouses. It will all be in the property section of the Saturday and Sunday newspapers" "Thanks Ivan. See you Friday". Ryan said, turning to Andrew. "I think it's time fore some decent breakfast. Coffee and rusks doesn't cut it for me", taking his hand. "I'd like to go to the lodge. We need to tell Paul and Marie about the babies. If Marie finds out via the grapevine, we won't be very popular", suggested Andrew. "The lodge it is. And they have a great breakfast. Yes!" Ryan rubbed his hands together. On the way to the lodge, Andrew called Marie and asked her to meet them at the lodge. They went straight to Paul's office when they arrived, and she was already there, with Jonathan sleeping in his stroller. They greeted her and Paul, and Marie asked, "So what's going on? Why did you want to me to come to the lodge? You could have just come to the house". Andrew grinned at her and replied, "Yeah, we could have. But we wanted to see you and Paul together. We have some news on the babies". Marie sat up a bit straighter. "There isn't a problem is there?. Are they okay? ". Andrew put his hand on her shoulder. "Relax Marie, they are fine. We found out yesterday afternoon that they are due sometime around mid August. A boy and a girl. We just wanted you both to know ". Marie squealed and jumped up, hugging them both. "Guys, I am so happy for you. Have you thought of names yet?". Paul walked around his desk and shook their hands. Ryan held Marie's shoulders and said, "You women are all the same. When we told my mother, the first question she asked was if we had chosen names. We think we have a name for our daughter, we haven't come up with one for our son yet." "And?" Marie asked, her eyebrows raised. "Oh no, no way. It's a secret until they are born" said Andrew. She sat down again, pouting. "Spoilsports, you're no fun". "Do you want to join us for something to eat. We are going to have breakfast?, asked Ryan. "I'll join you"Paul replied, "it is almost my breakfast time anyway. You want to join us, doll?" "Maybe just for coffee. I've had breakfast already", standing and pushing the stroller out of the office to the restaurant. Paul had cereal and toast with coffee, while Andrew and Ryan both had full English breakfasts. Marie just had coffee and a danish. "So we have some more news. My parents are retiring and moving down. They are coming for the weekend to look at property" said Ryan. "That's great Ryan, you must be very happy" said Paul. "Yeah, I think I am. I just don't want my mom interfering in how we raise the kids. Help, I will accept. Interference, a big no no". "You'll be glad when she's here", Marie said, "She probably just wants to be closer to her grandchildren". "Andrew actually said the same thing last night. I just don't want any drama." Andrew and Ryan picked up David and Janice from the airport on Thursday afternoon, and drove straight home. On the Friday and Saturday mornings, Ivan collected them from the house and took them to see the properties he had lined up for them and on Sunday, after lunch at the lodge, they all took a short drive around the immediate area to see what the other agents had on show, stopping at a few that looked interesting. On the Monday, Janice insisted the boys go shopping with her to get some things for the babies and they returned to the house with all manner of clothing, soft toys, receiving blankets, diapers and waterproof pants, wet wipes, baby toiletries, and a stroller. All of which went straight into the nursery. They got back to the house in time for a late lunch, before Andrew and Ryan took them back to the airport for the flight to Johannesburg. No decision had been taken on the purchase of a property, although they had managed to narrow it down from twelve to four. By the end of the week, that advised Ivan to put in an offer on a very neat 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom , double garage townhouse with a small garden, situated approximately two kilometres from Andrew and Ryan's home. It was accepted and they would take occupation in mid June. The month of June proved to be a fairly busy and momentous one. One the first day of the month, Andrew received an email from Ben and Emma. They had applied for and been granted permanent residence visas in Australia with their son sponsoring them, and the ten million rand from the sale of the lodge aiding in expiditing the process. A removal company would be packing up the contents of their home and the house was going to be sold. They requested Andrew and Ryan to ask Ivan to put the house on the market for them. Heavy hearted, Andrew replied that they would do as requested and wishing them well, but that the couple would be missed. They also started attending lamars classes with Beth to prepare for the big day. 'Belle Catherine' was almost ready to be put back into the water, resplendent in the new coat of paint and they had also taken the opportunity to redo the anti-fouling and replace the sacrificial anodes. A team from Steve's yard had checked her from bow to stern and mast top to keel and proclaimed her completely defect free. Steve had advised against retrofitting bulwarks to replace the rails due to the added weight, and had devised a solution whereby mesh netting similar, but far stronger, to the mesh in the dropdowns in the aft cockpit, could be attached to the inside of the existing rails. This would close all the gaps on the side decks, better protecting anyone from being swept overboard. To overcome the problem in the bows, where the mesh would be impractical, he designed removable gates that fitted between the saloon superstructure and a railing stanchion that would prevent the babies, once they were more mobile, from going onto the bow area. Gates were also designed for the two side entrances on the transom to the stern, and the stairs going down to the cabins. Inside the yacht, special points were fitted in the master cabin, saloon and aft cockpit, where a crib could be attached safely. He advised using the midships cabin space for extra storage, instead of for the babies, preferring to keep them lower down in the hull. So storage space in the hallway of the master cabin was changed to accommodate the babies and two cribs were specially made, one for the master cabin and one for the saloon and aft cockpit. 'Belle Catherine' was now ready to receive her two newest, smallest and most precious passengers although it would a while before all of the modifications would be needed. David and Janice arrived in the middle of July, one day ahead of the furniture they had retained and the boys were waiting with them at their new home when the pantechnicon pulled up mid morning. Andrew had arranged for the company that cleaned their house, to come in and clean the Major's new place the day before. So it was just a matter of placing furniture and unpacking and a bit of a tidy up after, and David and Janice were settled. A few boxes still had to be unpacked, but Janice wanted to do those herself, so that she knew where everything was. Andrew went home in the late afternoon to prepare a simple supper for all of them and he returned at 6.30pm with Beef Stroganoff , noodles, roasted vegetables and a milk tart. He also brought a bottle of sparkling wine and the Majors were suitably welcomed to the Cape. At the beginning of August, they approached a young couple as the additional crew for the yacht. Darren and Kerry were engaged and he held a skippers licence, while they both had experience working on yachts in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. They accepted the offer, especially when Andrew revealed that part of their package would include on shore accommodation in the apartment, which made the offer far more attractive than they had expected. They would only take up their positions at the beginning of October, although the charter season only officially opened at the beginning of November. In the meantime , they would get acquainted with 'Belle Catherine', and re-equip her for the season by moving everything that was stored in the apartment back to the yacht. Nicky had been advised in May that she had got the appointment for the position that she had applied for and took up the position at the beginning of July, with Beth going on maternity leave in the middle of July. Their house had been sold, but transfer had not yet taken place, and they had not yet really looked for a new home, due to the pregnancy, so they moved in with Andrew and Ryan at the beginning of August. A permanent housekeeper, Yvonne, had been appointed by that stage, coming in every morning, Monday to Friday., and she would watch over Beth who was by now, heavily pregnant. Between Janice and the boys, the nursery was complete and everything was in readiness for the babies arrival. Beth was waited on hand and foot after she moved in. She couldn't move without either Andrew or Ryan immediately at her side, and if they were not around, Janice and Yvonne filled in. In the last weeks, Beth was very tired. The babies were exceptionally active and seemed to take turns sleeping, so that there was always at least one that let their mother know they were around, by kicking constantly. As a result, Beth was not getting a great amount of solid sleep, only napping during the rare times when the twins were at rest. The one good thing, was that when the time finally arrived, it was during the day and not zero dark hundred. Beth had been complaining about back pain since the day before, but put it down to the weight she was carrying. Janice and Yvonne were watching over her, as Andrew and Ryan were at the monthly financial meeting with Paul and the accountant at the lodge, and Nicky was out with Ivan looking at houses. She was sitting was in a recliner resting with Janice sitting on the couch watching TV. "Jan, I really need the loo. Will you help me up?" Janice stood to help her and the housekeeper was immediately there to assist. Together they raised the recliner and helped her to stand, then slowly shuffled to the bathroom. They had left Beth and shortly after there was the sound of a soft squeal and Beth's yell. "Janice, help. I need help" Janice rushed back into the bathroom to find Beth standing in a pool of fluid. "My water just broke", breathed Beth, grimacing as she felt the first contraction. Janice grabbed some towels and covered the fluid with them, then she helped Beth to the bedroom. Yvonne, the housekeeper came hurrying in, after hearing the commotion from the master suite where she was busy. "Miss Janice, what can I do to help?" "Yvonne, phone Andrew or Ryan and tell them the babies are coming. Use my phone next to the couch. Then phone Nicky and tell her. Then, get Beth's bag out of the cupboard that we packed last week. Put it at the top of the stairs. Then, could you please clean up the bathroom. Her water broke", Janice rattled off instuctions, which Yvonne hastened to comply with. Janice helped Beth get cleaned up, and minutes later, there came the sound of a car screeching around the corner and coming to a stop with gravel spraying everywhere. The door banged open and feet could be heard thumping up the stairs. Ryan voice asked, "Vonnie, where is she?" "In the bedroom Mr Ryan. Miss Janice is with her." Seconds later, they burst into the bedroom, wild - eyed and frantic. "Beth, are you okay? What's happening?" Janice turned and glared at both of them. "Now, you two calm down! Right now! Beth doesn't need the two of you getting anxious and panicking. Her water has broken and she has had a small contraction. If my experience with you," looking at Ryan, "is anything to go by, it will probably still be a while before she is ready to give birth. So just cool your jets!" They heard another car arrive and Andrew walked to the window. "Thank god, it's Nicky". Nicky walked into the room, the total professional. Concern evident in the eyes, but smiling, cool, calm and collected. "Hi guys, Beth, how you feeling love?" "Okay, I think. I had a small contraction about forty minutes ago. But they are suddenly very quiet. No movement at all". "Okay, that's not a problem. Lie down and I'll examine you". She looked over her shoulder at Andrew and Ryan. "Guys, don't look so worried. What is happening here has happened millions of times in the past. Now can we get some privacy". They both gaped at her like deer caught in headlights, before blushing furiously and hurrying out, followed by giggles from Janice, Nicky and Beth, and Janice saying softly, "I'm more worried about those two, than I am about Beth, if you know what I mean". They all giggled again, then stopped when Beth grimaced as another pain gripped her. Nick looked at her watch to start timing the intervals. "Looks like about an hour since your first one". Let's see what happens with the next one and we can decide on what to do". Janice left the room and found her sons sitting in the lounge staring at the bedroom door. "Darlings, watching the door is not going to make things happen any quicker. Why don't one of you organise some tea and coffee, and maybe something cool for Beth, and the other one can get her things into the car so that we can leave as soon as we have to". Andrew hurried into the kitchen, while Ryan took Beth's bag to the car. Exactly forty five minutes later, Beth had her next contraction, this one quite intense. Nicky looked thoughtful, then said, "I get the feeling these two are in a hurry. I think we must get you to the hospital. I'll contact the gynae" She and Janice helped Beth off the bed and got her shoes on. Janice went to the door. "Boys, it's time. Hospital! Please help Beth to the car". They hurried to Beth's side and slowly and gently assisted her down the stairs to the car and helped her to get comfortable. Ryan and Andrew drove her to the hospital, Nicky and Janice followed. The hospital the same one where Nicky was now a resident. David was already in reception waiting for them, and Beth was placed on a gurney and wheeled away with Nicky in attendance, talking to the gynae on the phone, who was en route. Andrew and Ryan completed all the admission procedures and were told to wait in the waiting room. Thirty minutes later, Nicky walked into the room. They all jumped up and waited as she approached them. "Okay, Beth and the babies are doing well. The gynae is with her now. They are in a bit of a hurry, but she estimates another two hours at least. But by the looks of things, it won't be a marathon either. Come with me and you can see her. We'll get you into gowns later." They followed Nicky out and down the corridor to Beth's room. She lay propped up by pillows, looking slightly pale, but smiled when she saw them. "Ah, there's our daddys-to-be". They moved to either side of the bed and kissed her cheeks. Ryan took her hand. "We're hanging in there. But what about you?" He looked up as the gynae spoke. "Rule number one guys. Never ask a woman in labour how she feels. She may not be responsible for her answer or her actions". Ryan blushed, stammering. "Oh, uh, sorry! It just seems the most natural thing to ask?" "There is nothing more natural than giving birth. But by its sheer naturalness, it is a very violent and traumatic process, both for the mother and the baby. And in Beth's case, she has to do it twice", added the gynae. "Now you making us feel bad by putting her through this". "No, that's not my intention. It is just the natural order of things. Just hold her hand, and when the contractions come, do what you learned at your classes. Easy. And encourage her. Fortunately, I can confidently say, we will not be here long". She bent down to look under the covers again. Ninety minutes later, things suddenly started happening rapidly. Beth had a prolonged contraction, that had her digging her nails into their hands. They breathed her through it and the gynae, studied the monitors and peered under the covers again. "I think it's time to move her to the delivery room. You guys better get into some gowns". Andrew ran down the hallway to tell Janice and David what was happening. Paul and Marie were there as well. Then he dashed back to change into the gowns the hospital had provided. Their beautiful little boy was born at 20h35 on 16 August. He weighed 3.3kg. His sister was born just eight minutes later, a healthy 3.1kg. Both were perfect. Beth, Andrew and Ryan cried when they heard their babies cry for the first time. The first thing Beth asked after both had been checked was "Names, what are their names" They bent down and whispered in her ear, each one giving her a name. Then she really cried. They stayed for a while until they took the babies away for a thorough examination, and were then asked to leave so that the nurses could get Beth freshened up and back to her room. Andrew and Ryan walked down the hall, filled with love and awe. They entered the waiting room with shiteating grins on their faces. "Ladies and gentlemen, we take pleasure in announcing the birth of our twins. A boy, 3.3kg Cameron Devlin-Major, said Ryan. "And", added Andrew, "a girl, 3.1kg, Elizabeth Janice Devlin-Major. Mother and children all doing well" Pandemonium! Janice shrieked and burst out crying before throwing herself into Ryan's arms. David was grinning like a Cheshire cat, his eyes swimming with tears. And Paul and Marie were hugging one another, also teary, before enfolding Andrew in a bone crushing hug. Andrew looked over Marie's shoulder, seeing Nicky standing at the door, smiling but looking slightly wistful. Andrew extricated himself from Paul and Marie and ran to Nicky, sweeping her into his arms and spinning around. 'Nicky, I cannot thank you enough. Ry and I will be eternally in your debt. Now it's your turn", Nicky smiled at him. "It was my pleasure. You and Ryan are two very special human beings. When I saw your reaction, the night they wheeled Ryan into my emergency room, I knew that what you had was something most couples only aspire to".She turned her face as Ryan came and stood next to Andrew. "Complete and utter devition. And I have no doubt, that it will be carried over to those two beautiful babies I just witnessed come into the world. They are very lucky to have dad's like you. Congratulations. You told Beth their names but I didn't hear. What names have you given them?" Ryan answered, smiling broadly, "Cameron and Elizabeth Janice". Her eyes widened as she heard the names and she teared up as well. "Oh my word. No wonder Beth cried. I rest my case. You two are very special". When all the initial excitement had died down, and Beth was comfortably ensconced in her room, they were allowed to see her, small groups at a time. Andrew and Ryan went first. She looked exhausted, but very happy. "Their names are just perfect. Thank you. I was really not expecting that" Ryan held her hand. "Even though they are Andrew and my children, no matter what happens, you will always be their mother. And we don't want either of them to forget that". Andrew added, "And, they will have half brothers and or sisters as well, remember. So you are family, no matter what". "Well thank you, both of you" "No, thank you for our beautiful babies. Now there are still one or two people who want to say hello, and we need to go see Cameron and Elizabeth, and get them ready for their first public appearance" They kissed her and left for the nursery. When they got there, they were gowned and seated in easy chairs. Then a nurse brought the babies to them asking, "Whose is whose?" Ryan beamed up at her. "Makes absolutely no difference. Those two little angels are both ours. Hand them over" So focused were they on the twins, that neither of them noticed David recording the scene on his video camera, with Janice, Marie and Paul observing, the former two, with their hands covering their mouths and tears pouring down their faces. Paul knocked on the window, and they looked up, holding Cameron and Elizabeth for the first time. The look of utter joy and wonder on their faces was a sight to behold and David captured it all with Andrew holding Cameron, his hair dark and wispy, and Ryan cradling Elizabeth, whose colouring hinted at her being fair headed. They moved carefully closer to the window to show off their tiny, precious treasures, their eyes tightly shut and snuffling softly as they slept. Janice placed her hand on the window, crying and laughing at the same time, Marie's arm around her shoulders. Paul pulled out his mobile and started taking pictures. Oneof the flashes disturbed Cameron and he squirmed, made a soft sound of protest and opened his eyes briefly before going back to sleep. And Andrew knew, without a doubt, that he was holding Ryan's son. Tears welled from his eyes as he looked at Ryan. "He's yours. Those blue eyes can only be yours" "No my love, he is ours. My sperm might have fertilised the egg, but he is not mine, he is ours, just as much as Elizabeth is ours". They spent thirty minutes holding the twins, exchanging babies after a while, and taking photographs. Then the nurse arrived to tell them the babies had to go back to their mother to be fed. They asked to go as well, but were turned down by the nurse who told them it was already late and it was time for them to go. With great reluctance, they laid the twins in their crib and left the room. They popped in to see Beth on the way out. "Beth, they are beautiful. Thank you", whispered Andrew, still somewhat emotional after meeting his son and daughter. "Yes, they are. We just spent some time with them and they are gorgeous" "Thanks guys. They say they are bringing them now to be fed. I'm tired, but so excited to see them" "We wanted to stay a while, but they say it's too late already. I think they just want them to have their first feed in peace and quiet, and for you to get some rest. So we are going to go, and we will see you tomorrow. With a bit of luck they will let us take you all home tomorrow" They both kissed her good night and left the room, just as the nurse arrived with the babies. They stood at the door watching, as she laid the twins in Beth's arms, her eyes brimming with tears. Ryan took a picture with his mobile and knew without a doubt that he would be asking his mother to do a sketch from it. Then they walked back to the waiting room, where Paul and Marie were just saying goodbye to David and Janice, to go home. "Ahha, the new dad's. Just in time. We were just leaving." said Paul as the entered the room. "Congratulations again. They are beautiful" Ryan, then Andrew hugged him, then hugged and kissed Marie. "Are they going to let you take them home tomorrow? Marie asked. "Apparently, if they have a good night, then yes. Nicky is the attending physician tonight, so she will be able to tell us in the morning when she gets home", Andrew replied. She nodded, "Okay, good, if you need anything, call" They thanked her and walked Paul and Marie to the door, with David and Janice following. "We're going home as well, my darlings. We'll see you in the morning", said Janice, kissing them both on the cheek. "Try and get some good sleep tonight. It is probably the last time that you will be able to get a full nights sleep for a while. And get something to eat. You two haven't eaten anything since lunch". David hugged them both and they walked out to the car park with them and watched them drive away before going to their own vehicle. They drove to a take out chicken franchise and bought something to eat, then drove home. They were greeted, as usual, by a very excited puppy, who jumped into Ryan's arms the moment he bent down to pick him up. "Hello, my little soldier. I hope Yvonne remembered to feed you", walking up the stairs to the kitchen. Rascals bowls sat on the floor, one with water, the other with a few chunks still remaining. "Good, she did feed you. But just for a treat, you can have some chicken as well", holding his muzzle close to the chicken. His tail wagged enthusiastically. They ate a quick supper at the breakfast counter, feeding Rascal titbits of chicken and scrolling through the photographs that they had taken of the babies,marvelling at the miracle they had witnessed and that life for them had changed irrevocably. They were dad's!
  7. Absolutely agree. You never fail to surprise and enthrall us, Jonathan. You have an amazing talent. Thank you for sharing it with us.
  8. Christmas morning dawned bright and sunny, with a slight, cooling breeze. Andrew lay in Ryan's arms, his back against Ryan's chest . He was very aware of his husbands morning glory, nestling in his butt crack and wiggled his butt with an impish grin on his face. "If you keep doing that, there are going to be consequences", rumbled a sleepy voice in his ear. Andrew giggled and turned over to face Ryan, stroking his face and running a finger down through the golden blonde fur on his chest. "Merry Christmas my love", and kissed him before pulling back abruptly when he tasted and smelled minty freshness. He punched Ryan's chest. "No fair! When did you go to the bathroom ? You've already brushed your teeth and here's me with my bed breath". Andrew huffed and rolled out of bed and stalked naked to the bathroom, Ryan's deep laugh following him. He emptied his bladder, washed his face and brushed his teeth and came back into the bedroom, glaring at Ryan. "You must have sneaked out of bed, because I certainly did not feel you leave and normally I wake up the second you move." Ryan threw off the covers, revealing similar nakedness and sat on the edge of the bed. "After your antics last night, or should I say, this morning, I'm not surprised you were dead to the world". Andrew dissolved into giggles. "It was pretty good, wasn't it. That was my first Christmas gift to you", moving forward to stand between Ryan's legs. He leaned down and kissed Ryan again. "Can we start again? Merry Christmas, my love". "A merry Christmas to you too babe. Thank you for the gift last night. I hope it will not be the only time of the year I will get it" Andrew punched him again on the same spot, making him wince. "Idiot, of course not. I got plenty more gifts where that one came from" waving his manhood at Ryan and wiggling his butt. Ryan reached for him and groaned when there was a knock on the door. "Guys, it's after nine. Do you want breakfast" came Donna's voice. Rascal jumped off the bed and ran to the door. "I have all the breakfast I need right here", grumbled Ryan softly, before saying louder. "We'll be down in a few, sis, Thanks" and walked to the door, carefully opening it to allow Rascal to run downstairs. Andrew giggled again, looking a their deflating cocks. "That I think is what is commonly known as 'coitus interruptus. Come on, shower, dress, breakfast and prezzies" pulling Ryan up and dragging him to the bathroom. Thirty minutes later they walked down the stairs hand in hand, dressed in sweatpants and t-shirts. "Morning all, sorry we are late. Merry Christmas! We somehow managed to over sleep", Ryan breezily greeted. Donna looked at them over the glasses she was wearing. "Remember what I said about fucked faces", and held up her hand as Ryan opened his mouth to retort. "That's all I'm saying! Now, I hope you don't mind, but I took out some croissants and muffins for breakfast. There is yogurt, fruit, cheese, sliced ham and preserves as well. Oh, and some cream cheese as well. I remembered Andrew likes croissants with cream cheese and strawberry jam. And of course, coffee. And I fed the puppy" "Thanks sis, just make yourself at home. We don't stand on ceremony in this house". They loaded plates with breakfast, grabbed some coffee and joined the others in the lounge. David offered to hand out the gifts which they opened with lots of exclamations and chatter. Andrew and Ryan had opted not to give each other anything too big or expensive as they felt the house was their big gift for Christmas. They all helped clean up the paper, cleared away breakfast and packed the dishwasher. . Janice and Donna vanished into their respective bathrooms for a long soak, while the guys all sat watching Sky news and the festivities in Bethlehem. When the ladies reappeared in their robes, David and Craig went to freshen up and Andrew and Ryan went to get dressed for lunch at the lodge. They arrived at the lodge just after 12.30 after a short drive from the house. Thomas was at the door to greet them, dressed as Father Christmas. "Mr Andrew, Mr Ryan, merry Christmas. Enjoy your lunch" They all greeted him wished him a merry Christmas as well and they stepped into the cool lobby. Lunch was being held on the patio and in the restaurant, and Andrew had reserved a table for fourteen in the restaurant. It would the house party, Ben and Emma, Nicky and Beth, Marie and François. Paul and Claude would join them whenever there was a bit of time. Marie was already seated with François and the Davidsons when they arrived, with baby Jonathan in a carrier on a chair next to the window. Paul and Claude came over when they saw the party arrive and after everyone had wished everyone else merry Christmas, they settled down to wait for Nicky and Beth. They arrived soon after, both beaming, Nicky in a short green dress with a red scarf around her waist and a pixie hat on her head. Beth wore a skirt in the Cameron tartan and a white blouse. Andrew and Ryan stood up to greet them and when they were done Beth handed them each an envelope. "Just a little something for you guys", she said impishly. Andrew bent forward to thank them and there was a loud whoop from Ryan who rushed over to them. "Is this what I think it is", waving a long narrow sheet of paper. Beth grinned at him and nodded. Ryan grabbed Beth and took off on a very undignified jig around the table, much to the amusement of the other guests. Andrew was opening his envelope and stared at the contents which he pulled out. And started crying. Silent tears rolled down his face as he stared at the pictures of a baby scan. Ryan came back with Beth and grabbed Andrew, yelling "We've got babies! We're gonna be dads" and swept Andrew up to do a jig with him. Pandemonium broke out as they celebrated and the rest of the table joined them followed by applause from the other guests. When relative calm had been restored - Ryan was still practically bouncing off the walls in excitement - Beth told them all that she had been for the scan on Christmas eve and that it had been confirmed. Both babies were viable with beating hearts. They were pregnant. There was laughter and tears and the lunch was one that they would never forget. They had been told they were to be fathers on Christmas Day. It was the best gift they could have ever dreamed of receiving. Champagne and sparkling grape juice was ordered and everyone toasted Beth and the babies, as well as the two, still somewhat thunderstruck, fathers. To say it was the most joyous Christmas they had ever had would be an understatement. The joy and excitement radiating from the big table at the window was infectious and encompassed the entire room, which positively buzzed. Ryan and Andrew sat on either side of Beth and Nicky, ensuring that Nicky was not left out and did not stop grinning like two village idiots the entire afternoon. They were the last table to leave, having been politely requested to do so by the incoming duty manager, to allow the late shift to clean the restaurant and prepare for dinner. Paul and Claude were off duty and left with them to spend some time alone with their own loved ones, and the Davidsons returned home. Nicky and Beth were going to spend the night at the house and the plan was to take 'Belle Catherine' out on Boxing Day and sail her round to Clifton for the day. As he had done last year, Andrew asked Paul to arrange a big platter of cold cuts and cheeses left over from lunch, and they took that home to snack on for dinner. Not that anyone would eat much, they were all still too stuffed after the enormous lunch. When they arrived home, Nicky and Beth were shown to their room and by unspoken consent, everyone headed for their rooms for a nap, except David and Craig, who sprawled on the couches in front of the TV to watch some sport. Needless to say, they fell asleep as well. Andrew and Ryan came down just before 7pm in bathing shorts and fell into the pool, letting the cool water refresh them, and both were surprised when Rascal jumped in as well, his little legs pumping as he paddled towards them. Nicky and Beth joined them soon after, followed by Donna and Craig. The six young people splashed around for thirty minutes with Rascal running around the pool, barking excitedly, then climbed out of the pool to dry off and have sundowners. The south - easter had picked up through the day, so sitting on the patio was not going to work as it faced almost directly into the wind. Andrew and Ryan made a mental note to look into solving that problem. They went to their rooms to change into dry clothes and gathered in the lounge for their drinks. No one wanted any alcohol, so Andrew made up a large fruit punch with lots of soda water to cut the sweetness, with a bottle of white Mauritian rum they had brought back on the side if anyone decided they did need a kick after all. Andrew and Janice laid out some seed bread, rolls and croissants from breakfast with the platter and everyone was encouraged to just help themselves if they felt peckish. The happy and contented group just relaxed and watched a movie on TV, with many of them nodding off. They were all in bed fairly early and were all bright eyed and bushy tailed when they arrived at the Marina at 8.30 on Boxing Day morning. The wind of the previous night had dropped to the point where there was almost no wind at all, so they would have to motor around to Clifton. Hopefully, there would be enough wind in the afternoon to allow them to use the sails coming back. I t was the first time that David and Janice had been on board and they very impressed with what they saw. David sat with Ryan at thd helm, having to share the seat with Rascal as well, from the moment they cast off until they were anchored off Clifton 4th beach, where the yacht attracted a great deal of attention. Then it was just a case of putting out sun loungers or laying on the trampolines, soaking up the sun, plunging into the icy water to cool off, and soaking up some more sun. The platter from the lodge had hardly been touched the previous night, so Andrew just put everything into containers and brought them along, They had stopped at a store on the way and purchased some nice breads, rolls and some salad ingredients with which Janice and Andrew produced a huge mixed meat salad platter that they ate with the bread or rolls and an avocado dressing. They had ice cold watermelon, which Ryan had dropped overboard, secured in a net, for dessert. They weighed anchor at 4pm with Ryan motoring close to the beach before pointing the bows out of the sheltered anchorage. As he felt the effect of the wind, he had his dad keep her on course, heading straight out to sea, while Craig helped him to fly the spinnaker. When the sail was up, he called to David, "Okay dad, cut the engine and turn to starboard, your right, Good, well done, we'll make a sailor out of you yet". He made his way back to the helm and sat beside David. When David made to hand the helm back to him he grinned at his dad who looked like a kid in a toy shop. "No, it's fine. You can steer her. I'll just sit here and be close in case you need me. You're doing great". The rest of the group relaxed behind the helm in the cockpit, drinking coffee and nibbling biscuits and fruit cake that Janice had brought with her. The shadows were starting to lengthen by the time they sailed back into the marina and tied up to the dock. The ladies helped Andrew clear up inside, while the guys helped Ryan get everything shipshape on deck. Then they gathered their gear, including Rascal, locked up and disembarked after setting the intruder alert. On the way to the parking area, Ryan stopped off at the security office to notify the guards that they were leaving and that the alarm on the yacht was armed. Nicky and Beth drove away headed for their home in the City Bowl, and the family drove to Blouberg. It was a weary, slightly sunburned group who arrived home and dragged themselves up the stairs to the living area. They showered and changed into fresh clothes and as no one had the energy to get into the kitchen, they ordered pizza to be delivered. Janice collapsed onto the couch and sighed. "I cannot believe that all we have done today is relax and eat and relax and eat, but I am exhausted" Ryan grinned at his mother. "It's all the fresh air and the sun. When we haven't been out for a while we always feel tired on the first day out when we do". The rest of the evening was spent eating pizza and relaxing, Even Rascal had pizza for dinner. They were all in bed by 10pm., but they all knew that they had had a very good Christmas. The days between Christmas and New Year were spent driving around the Peninsula and two days in the Winelands. On the first trip they drove out to Stellenbosch and Paarl, stopping off at several estates for wine tasting and lunch at one of them. On the second foray into wine country, they drove to the Overberg, going to some of Andrew's favourite estates near the coastal town of Hermanus in the morning and then driving to Caledon to spend the afternoon at the hot springs. At the end of the second trip, Ryan maintained that Andrew now had enough wine to start his own winery. The New Years eve party at the house was fairly low key and consisted of the same group who had been at Christmas lunch, with the addition, as promised, of Ivan, the estate agent and his wife, Samantha. Andrew and Ryan once again chose to have the event catered and arranged for a spit-braai with lamb legs and a pork loin with all the trimmings and a Cape favourite, BBQ whole fresh snoek with an apricot and mustard glaze. A chef and two waiters came with the food, so everyone could just sit back, relax and enjoy the party. Ivan and Samantha were introduced to everyone when they arrived and seemed to fit right in with the rest of the family. The patio table had been extended and the dining room table pushed against the wall to free up some space to dance. Andrew had the CD's they had done for the wedding playing in a loop on the sound system and for their first New Year in the house, they felt it was a perfect occasion, the only disappointment being the absence of Paul and Claude who were at the lodge. Andrew had suggested they try and slip away just before midnight and join them for the countdown, but it remained to be seen if it would be possible. By 8.30 the enticing aroma of the meat and fish were whetting appetites, so when they were told everything was ready, they all hurried over to have the chef carve meat onto their plates and help themselves to baked potatoes and fire - roasted vegetables. A range of salads and extras was on the table in the dining room. Once plates were full, they all found a seat at the table, wine and grape juice poured and dinner was enjoyed by all. It was unhurried and very convivial and the table hummed with conversation. Once the main course was done, Ryan turned up the volume on the sound system, and he and Andrew took to the dance floor with Nicky and Beth as partners before going back to their natural partners. Everyone joined them and soon the party was in full swing, as the catering staff cleared food away and cleared the table. When the dining room table was clear, they carried out the dessert. Trifle, chocolate mousse, profiteroles with pastry cream and fresh fruit salad and ice cream. Andrew spoke to the chef and suggested he and his staff relax and have some dinner as well, while everyone was dancing, which they appreciated. After about thirty minutes of boogeying and jiving, Andrew slowed the music and most of them took a breather, heading for the dessert table. As the catering staff would only be there until 11pm, Andrew had then leave all the remaining food on the breakfast counter for everyone to pick at and there were some snacks in the oven ready to be reheated later. The catering staff left soon after 11pm after clearing the dessert and storing it in the refrigerator and freezer. Approaching the witching hour, Paul and Claude arrived in Paul's SUV. They would not be able to stay long, just for the count-down to the New Year. They turned on the TV for the official countdown, shouting the numbers as they wound down, sang Auld Lang Syne and wished one another for the year ahead. Sparkling wine and grape juice was poured and they all toasted the arrival of the New Year while watching the fireworks display across the bay at the Waterfront. When Paul and Claude returned to the lodge, they took Marie, Jonathan and François with them to spend some time with their partners. The music was slow and soft and the couples swayed to the music each one contemplating what the coming year had in store. Ivan and Samantha left just after 1am and by then everyone was starting to flag. The ladies cleared all the food into containers that were then stored in the refrigerator, while the guys packed the bar way and did a general tidy up, then locked up, turned off the lights and dragged themselves to their bedrooms. This time it was Ryan who gave Andrew a present! When Andrew and Ryan woke up, they could tell it was already well into the morning and the bedside clock revealed it was just after 10am. And they could feel the day was going to be a scorcher! Ryan opened the sliding doors to their little garden and stepped out, with Rascal hot on his heels. The sun beat down from a blue, cloudless sky and the bay was as smooth as glass with not even a hint of wind to ruffle the surface. Andrew joined him, wrapping his arms around his waist and laying his head on Ryan's back. They were both shirtless, wearing just boxer briefs. Andrew took Ryan by the hand and pulled him down the short fight of stairs to the pool deck. He opened a cupboard tucked into a corner and pulled out two towels, then turned and fell into the pool with a huge splash. Ryan grinned and followed him. They splashed around for a while, then just sat on the bottom step, chest deep in the water, with Rascal licking their heads and ears, enjoying the cool water and their closeness and sharing deep kisses. That was how Janice found them, when she came out with two mugs of coffee. "Morning boys, happy new year again. I should actually get you two some cold water, but as you already seem to be in it, it won't make any difference. Coffee?" Ryan laughed. "Morning mom, happy's to you too. Coffee sounds really good right now" reaching out to take the mugs from her. And that set the tone for the day. They just chilled, splashed in the pool, lay in the sun, splashed some more. Everyone was told to help themselves to whatever they wanted to eat in the refrigerator and they just kicked back. It became really hot in the afternoon so they all retreated into the house, turned the air conditioning on full and napped. For dinner, Janice cooked spaghetti bolognaise with garlic bread and salad and they all had another early night, the heat of the day and the previous late night catching up with them. The following morning, while the family went shopping, Andrew and Ryan drove to the lodge to go and wish the staff a happy new year. On the way there, they passed a well-known restaurant situated right on the rocks of the bay. Andrew gl anced at Ryan and asked "How about we reserve a table here for tomorrow night to celebrate our first anniversary?" Andrew looked at him, slightly puzzled, "What, just you and me?" Ryan smiled, almost wistfully. "I wish it was just you and me. But I feel we cannot exclude everyone else. It just somehow doesn't seem the right thing to do". Andrew put his hand on Ryan's. "I know exactly how you feel. That's why I was a bit puzzled. I think we invite them all and when we are alone we go out again, just us. Do we invite Nicky and Beth as well? Ryan stared thoughtfully ahead for a moment. "To be honest, I don't know. Although I think Nicky is back at the hospital already, so she may be on shift and I know Beth only goes back next week. Let's find out. If Beth is alone, maybe we invite her. One of us can fetch her and take her home. I wouldn't want her driving alone late at night. And if Claude is there we will have to invite François as well" At the lodge, they walked through all the departments, chatting to the staff and wishing them a happy new year. Then they chatted to Paul and Claude about dinner, so that the Duty Manager could hold the fort at the lodge. Paul phoned Marie, who said she would get her mom to watch Jonathan and Ryan also contacted Ben and Emma who said they would not be able to attend as they were leaving for Australia to visit their son and his family, and would be flying to Johannesburg in the morning for their flight to Melbourne via Singapore. They were planning on being away for about six months. Ryan wished them a good trip, telling them they would be missed. On the way home, they stopped at the restaurant and reserved a table for eleven. They could not accommodate them at the windows, but could give them a table against the wall with an excellent view of the bay and the mountain. The maitre d' was advised that it was their 1st wedding anniversary and that they would be bringing the top tier of their wedding cake to be served with coffee at the end of the meal. Then they drove to the mall to pick out gifts for one another. They browsed through the mall, not seeing anything that really caught the eye. Eventually the ambled back to where all the jewellery stores were located. They window shopped at each store before going in to examine the display cases. While exiting one of the stores, Andrew glanced across the plaza to the other side and stopped, noticing for the first time a name that was very familiar to him. An idea was forming in his head so he dragged Ryan across the plaza. "Drew, what in the world are you doing? Where are we going?". They stopped outside the store and Andrew said, "This is the place I found on line that made our wedding rings. I had no idea he actually had a store outlet. I may have an idea! Come on!" The doorway was barred by a security gate, and Andrew pressed the buzzer. After a short wait a middle aged man appeared from the back room wearing a thick apron.He released the gate and they stepped into the store, closing the gate behind them and approached the man with Andrew asking, "Are you Mr Ramazzotti". He gazed at Andrew and smiled, "Si, I am Luigi Ramazzotti. What can I do for you?" Andrew held out his hand in greeting. "Good afternoon, Mr Ramazzotti. It is good to finally meet you" shaking his hand. "Do you recognise the ring I am wearing?" displaying his wedding ring. The jeweler examined the ring and looked up at him, smiling. "Si, I know the ring. I made it. There should be another one exactly the same", glancing at Ryan who held out his hand. '"Ah yes, identical rings, nearly a year ago, I think. Ah, for Mr Devlin if I recall correctly". Andrew grinned at him. "Yes, exactly right. I ordered them on your website for my wedding in January last year. I'm Andrew Devlin-Major now. And this is my husband, Ryan" "Si, I remember. What can I do for you?" "Well, I haven't discussed with my husband, but when I saw your name on the store, I had an idea. Tomorrow is our 1st anniversary. And we cannot find anything that either of us want. We have just been told we are to become parents to twins in August or September." Andrew took off his ring and handed it to the jeweler. "Would it be possible to mount two more stones on either side of our birthstones " turning to Ryan with a questioning look. Ryan had realised what Andrew was getting at and he nodded enthusiastically. "I think that's a great idea". Mr Ramazzotti reached for his loupe and studied the ring. "Si, it can be done, no problem. What do you have in mind". Andrew grimaced slightly and answered, "I first thought of their birthstone, but then we will have to wait until they are born to know which stone it has to be. So what about two small diamonds on either side", glancing again at Ryan, who nodded again. "Si, I can do that for you. If you can choose your diamonds, and you leave the rings with me, I can have them done by tomorrow afternoon, about this time. I will have to remove the existing stones and smelt the platinum and the reset the stones with the new diamonds." "Ry, are you okay with this? If you're not happy, we can the idea." "No, I think it's a great idea. Can we just leave the selection of the stones to Mr Ramazzotti?". "Yeah, I have no objection to that. His original selections were perfect. Two more diamonds for each ring, smaller than the central diamond, on either side of the birthstones" The jeweler turned to a counter behind him, withdrew a key from beneath his shirt and opened a drawer from which he withdrew a small black bag. He opened the bag and poured some diamonds into his hand, before flattening the bag and carefully pouring them onto the black fabric. There were two dozen. He separated them into rows, then using his loupe he examined them, eventually separating out ten stones which he then took a longer look at, finally leaving four, to Andrew and Ryan's eyes, very similar stones in size. He lowered his loupe and looked at them. "I would suggest these for stones. They are flawless, very similar in colour and size and if I am correct, weight as well" "Could you give us a price right now. Then we can pay you immediately", Ryan requested. "Si, no problem. Give me a few minutes to work it out for you. Sit down, I go to the office.", indicating to two armchairs in the corner of the store. He was back within ten minutes, handing Andrew an invoice. He handed over his credit card and they gave the jeweller their rings. The card was run through the machine and after confirming a pickup time, they left the store. Ryan was bubbling with excitement. "I cannot wait to see what they look like. You are brilliant", grabbing Andrew's hand in his and swinging them back and forth. They stopped in at a coffee shop for cheesecake, carrot cake and coffee and headedfor home where they found their guests had not returned yet. They were greeted by an ecstatic Rascal who waited, tail wagging, on the bottom step as they opened the door, and then proceeded to scamper up and down the staircase as they walked up it. Andrew looked around the room and sighed, "Oh, thank god. The cleaning service have been in", referring to the company they had contracted to come in three times a week to clean. All the surfaces were dust free, the tiles had been polished and everything just generally neatened up. "I think we need to get a permanent housekeeper before the babies are born". The sound of gravel crunching and Rascal disappearing down the stairs alerted them to their guests returning from their foray to the malls and they appeared shortly thereafter laden down with bags of every description. Janice had also been into the supermarket and purchased what she needed to make her signature Chicken and Prawn Curry with Basmati Rice and sambals, followed by, apparently, Ryan's favourite Passionfruit Cheesecake. Andrew breathed a quiet sigh of relief that he did not have to cook dinner. The end result, Andrew had to admit, was stupendous and he asked Janice to please jot down the recipes for him before they left. The meal would be perfect for the yacht. But even better, the next morning, breakfast was delivered to their bedroom on bed trays. Janice brought them fresh strawberries, yogurt and muesli topped with strawberry compote, creamy scrambled eggs on toast with chives and smoked salmon, grilled cherry tomatoes, a arge pot of freshly brewed coffee with a selection of mini Danish pastries, and a jug with orange juice and champagne. She breezed in, after knocking and getting no reply. "Morning my darlings. Happy anniversary " and deposited the trays on the dressing table. "I'll give you boys five minutes to be decent and then I'll be back with your present" and she breezed out again, closing the door behind her. Still groggy with sleep, they rolled out of bed and just slipped into their bathrobes, brushed their teeth and sat back on the bed. True to her word, exactly five minutes later, there came a knock on the door and she walked in with David, both carrying wrapped objects, which they both guessed were framed pictures of some sort. They carried the gifts to the bed and handed them over, hugging and kissing them both. When they opened the wrapping, they both were suddenly very teary. Ryan gave his mom a loving look. "Oh wow, mom! These are amazing" Andrew just stared at the pictures with his hand over his mouth. It was a triptyche of charcoal sketches, drawn by Janice from photographs David had taken at the wedding. The largest, the middle one, was of the two of them looking directly into the camera, faces touching and smiling happily. The other two were of them individually, both looking inward toward the centre picture. But what made the sketches were their eyes. She had managed to capture the life and excitement in them perfectly! They were signed JM. They both got off the bed and wrapped their arms around her, drawing David in as well. "Thank you so much. They are beautiful", Andrew sniffed. "Will you do one of us with the babies when the are born?" Janice sniffed as well, wiping away a tear. "I wouldn't miss it for the world Drew". She broke away from them and carried over one of the trays, while David brought the other. "Now you two eat your breakfast and we will see you later. We are going to have breakfast at the lodge. Enjoy! " She displayed the pictures on the dresser and left the room, closing the door with a soft click.They propped themselves up against the headboard and ate their breakfast while admiring the sketches. When they were done, they just lay facing each other, caressing and kissing, which turned into passionate lovemaking. Afterwards, sweaty and sticky, the showered together, each one gently and lovingly washing the other and drying him off. They stepped back into the bedroom to hear Rascal scratching at the door. Ryan opened it and he came charging into the room, before launching himself onto the bed and wriggling his little body around them. They scratched his ears and he rolled over onto his back so that his tummy could be scratched as well. When they started getting dressed, he stretched himself out full length, with this head on his front paws and his back legs stretched out behind him and watched them. Ryan looked at Andre w and asked, "How about we take this little monkey and take a walk on the beach. Then we can go have some lunch and by then, our rings should be ready and we can pick them up". "Sounds good to me. Let me just grab his leash, a cap and some water and we can get going". Picking up his mobile, he noticed he had a missed call and a message. Opening the message page, he saw that it was from Beth and listened to it. "That was Beth, confirming that Nicky is on shift tonight, and that she would not join us for dinner as she is suffering with morning sickness and feels a little tired, so she is going to get into bed early". "Hmmm, shame, that's a pity. I better just amend out table reservation" which he immediately did. As he picked up the car keys, Rascal was suddenly all ears and ready for action. He loved driving in the car, head in the slipstream and his long ears flowing back. He ran down the stairs ahead of them, waiting at the door with his tail whipping back and forth. While Ryan pulled the car out of the garage, Andrew took two bottles of water out of the refrigerator, put on Rascals leash, then gathered him in his arms and got into the car. He immediately squirmed out of Andrew's arms and perched on his leg, with his front paws on the window ledge. Andrew opened the window and he stuck his head over the ledge, and that's where he stayed for the short drive to the beach. Leaving their shoes in the car, the walked along the beach, just where the icy water ran up onto the sand. There were no other dogs in the immediate area, so Andrew let Rascal off his leash and allowed him to run and play in the water, snapping at it when it came close and shaking his head when he tasted the salty water. When they saw some other walkers with dogs nearing them, Andrew put his leash back on and held him in his arms, with Rascal growling softly as they passed. More than an hour later, they returned to the car, washed off their feet, and Rascal, at a convenient water point and drove to one of the beachside eateries for lunch choosing to go Chinese as it was unlike anything they would be eating that night. They had a leisurely lunch and then drove to the mall to pick up their rings, which were ready as promised and had been redesigned slightly. Mr Ramazotti explained. "I had to take the rings apart to melt the platinum and I added a bit more. You can see the platinum is slightly wider and thicker. To help hold the stones better. Then I have made each band so they are no longer fused together, but interlock, so each band can be separate.". He looked at them with an impish gleam,"In case you want more babies, it will be easier to add stones". They both laughed at his humour. He showed them how the bands interlock and apart from the slightly thicker platinum and the new stones, they were no different to the originals . He handed back the rings and they slipped them onto one another's fingers with Ryan whispering, "With this ring, I thee wed", echoing the words they had spoken almost exactly one year ago on a tropical beach. Mr Ramazzotti smiled softly at them, his eyes misty. "You have much love, you two. My rings have found good hearts". They thanked him, picked up Rascal and drove back home admiring their rings all the way. Once home, they took down the Christmas tree, storing all the lights and baubles in their boxes, and hauled the tree out back to dry out and eventually be c ut up for firewood. After vacuuming up the pine needles on the floor, they each grabbed a beer and sprawled on the couch, chilling and looking down at the beach and the water below them. "Looks like the weather is going to change" said Ryan, noticing dark clouds on the horizon. "Front coming in". Andrew nodded in agreement. "I noticed when we left the beach, that the wind was starting to shift round more westerly than south. We might get some rain before we get home tonight". "Hmm, you're probably right. It has been so hot, we may even have some lightning activity Those clouds look very ominous". The Majors and Craig arrived back soon after, having taken a short drive up the West Coast. The rest of the afternoon, they just chatted and reminisced about the wedding and watched the video of the ceremony, which made them all slightly emotional again. Then the all freshened up, got dressed and went out to celebrate Andrew and Ryan's 1st anniversary. Dinner was a very happy event and ended with coffee and slices of the top tier of their wedding cake, which was still amazingly moist and tasty. It had started raining about an hour into the meal and they had to make a dash for the cars. Within minutes after arriving home, there was a huge flash lightning and boom of thunder and the heavens opened in a massive downpour. For almost thirty minutes, lightning flashed over the bay and thunder rumbled across the water in one of the most intense thunderstorms Andrew could remember. They had put out the lights in the lounge, to better observe the impromptu light show. Just as it seemed the storm was abating, there was another dull boom to their left and the sky lit up with an orange glow. Looking towards the city, they could clearly see a fiery mushroom cloud rise up and then settle in a dull glow. "Wow", Craig muttered, "What the he'll is that?" Ryan fetched his binoculars and focused on the flames. "It looks like it is quite close to the road past the harbour. Could be a tank at the oil farm got hit my lightning or something. Looks like emergency vehicles are starting to arrive, but it's too far and too rainy to see clearly" "It won't affect the marina, will it, babe?" asked Andrew anxiously, concerned about the yacht. "I wouldn't think so. The marina is way over on the other side". They stood watching the distant scene for a while and then retired to bed after a long day. Andrew and Ryan were up early having been woken by Rascal wanting to go out. It was almost 7 am, so they decided to just get up and start the day. Their guests were flying out in the afternoon, so Andrew got busy with a slap-up breakfast. Hearing noises emanating from the kitchen, Janice and Donna appeared from their rooms, followed shortly thereafter by David and Craig. They all got themselves some coffee as stood around the kitchen chatting. The TV was on, and Andrew noticed a report starting about what appeared to be the fire they had seen the previous night. "Babe, turn up the TV, I think that's last night's fire". Ryan turned up the volume and they all watched the report. An undisclosed number of people had been killed or injured when a small motor vehicle accident had turned into disaster during thd storm. A car had skidded on the slick highway into the city and spun across the full width of the highway causing a number of other vehicles to apply brakes to avoid the spinning car. A petrol tanker coming up to the scene, had then jackknifed and careered into the stationery vehicles before exploding in a ball of flame. There was a crash of glass shattering on the kitchen floor and they all turned to look at Andrew, his face white, eyes staring. Ryan rushed to his side. "Drew! Baby! Are you alright? What's wrong?" Andrew pointed a shaking finger at the TV. "Ry, that's exactly what happened to my parents. And if we had been driving Beth home last night, it might have been us caught in that mess. Oh, god, I need to sit down". He was shaking like a leaf. Ryan crouched down next to him and held him in his arms, as Andrew burst out crying. They were all very subdued, thinking about what Andrew had said, and realising it he could very well be right. The timing was just about spot-on. If Beth had come to dinner last night, they could very well have been victims of the accident. Ryan shuddered at the thought. "It's okay babe, we weren't involved. I know it's spooky that it was similar to your parents accident, but that's all it was. Just another accident", kissing his wet cheeks. "Dad, please turn off the TV". He bent his head to look into Andrew's lowered eyes. "Hey, you okay. We need to clean up this mess", looking at the pool of fruit juice they were in. Andrew nodded, still quite pale and clearly shaken. "I'll be fine. Just a little too close to home I guess". Janice came bustling from the scullery with a squeegee and a bucket and started cleaning up the juice. Within minutes, the mess was cleared, Andrew was given some apple juice with a teaspoon of extra sugar to drink, which put some colour back into his cheeks and breakfast preparation resumed. By the time breakfast was ready, it looked like they were about to feed an army. There was bacon, sausages - beef and pork - grilled tomatoes, potato hash, sweetcorn fritters, sautéed mushrooms, baked beans and scrambled egg. It was a veritable feast and they all tucked in, knowing that the holidays were over and that it was back to work. The rest of the morning was spent packing and the family left for the airport at 1pm for their 3pm flight to Johannesburg. Andrew and Ryan spent the weekend enjoying being alone in the house for the first time in almost two weeks and getting the yacht ready for their first charter of the year.
  9. Andre Delport

    Chapter 12

    Not only in Beth, but a whole new dimension of support from her clansmen in Scotland.
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