I never expected to end up happy. Until I met Mr. Montgomery, my life had been a culmination of failures and bad decisions, ultimately causing a resignation to only reach a so-so life, not thinking I’d even deserve any degree of happiness, considering the crap I’d pulled. Ridiculous perhaps but when you go dark, it’s hard to see any light, let alone love.
Yet now I was. Disgustingly happy, even. There was light and if there came any more love my way, I’d be wheelchair bound within days.
During that weekend, I gained full family-member status, another thing I’d never thought would ever happen in my life, by way of a cute impromptu ‘ceremony’, courtesy of Charlotte and Jeremy, who got the unholy idea in their heads (I strongly suspected by way of whisperings from William) that Uncle Greg and Uncle Chris should be married, if they slept in the same room and kept kissing each other when they thought no one could see. Surprisingly, I was the one with the most objections; Greg went along with it as meek as a lamb, going so far as designating Jeremy as his ‘best man’. I got stuck with the instigator, William, but it was all in good fun. In private, later that night, Greg did indicate he’d like to do so for real, at some point in the near future. It was legal in this state since 2008.
I said yes.
Several mysteries were cleared up during that weekend as well, like the late letter from Mr. Montgomery to me (“Oh, that was me being a moron,” Will apologized, “I had accepted it on your behalf, promising to give it to you. But then that whole bitch-slapping my bro episode happened and I forgot. It ended up in my luggage. When I arrived home, I didn’t unpack because I immediately left again on another trip, yada yada, bla bla. I put it in the mail as soon as I realized”) and apparently there had been quite the communication between Seth and Greg about how to ‘handle me’, Greg being the nitwit and Seth the Grand Master of love. Ugh. I ended up ridiculing them both with some welcome help from Kat, who seemed to also not have known that particular bit.
Overall, though, this Independence Day couldn’t have been more perfect, right down to the fireworks that the gardener had installed (very sneakily, I hadn’t known) and lit after dark. Drinks flowed, the barbeque sizzled and the laughter was plenty. Then, as a last surprise, William knocked on our door after we’d all gone indoors to prepare for bed.
“I’m early, this time,” he smiled and held out an envelope to Greg, who came walking out of the bathroom after a quick shower, toweling his hair. I was already in bed. “I was to give this to you two and actually supposed to give it in January but I don’t think you two are gonna be forced to reach the end of the stipulations made in the will. Somehow I think you’ll reach that just fine and far beyond.”
Taking the envelope, Greg glanced at his brother as he left the room and then came over, turning it in his hands to reveal a wax seal. The same as the kind that’d been on the envelopes we’d all received. “It’s from my father. It’s addressed to us both.”
Scooting up to rest my back against the headboard, I frowned as he sat down. Leaning over, I slid my arm around his shoulder and, carefully opening it, Greg took out one folded piece of paper.
Dear Gregory and Christopher,
It gives me no greater pleasure than to write this final letter to you. I’ll admit something; this is the only one I’ll write. I don’t want to write the one where events have led to a less wonderful outcome.
By now, you’re together as intended. As it should be. And I’m sure you’ll forgive Will and myself for setting you up like this but I thought it necessary. And it worked!
You’re both stubborn men, especially you, Gregory. I needed you to -see- Chris; a finer man I could not wish for you. And you, Christopher; you needed to see the real Greg. The one who does have feelings, kindness and warmth and, dare I say it...the character to lead you and not take your c…!
Live your lives fully and well. And if at all possible, perhaps bring some tiny versions of yourselves into the world. You never know, Chris, I think you’d be a great dad, contrary to what you yourself think. You have a lot to give. I know Gregory will be; I saw you, son.
Think about it. There are options. And yes, I am an old man not above using his own demise to get what he wants.
P.S. Gregory, work less. A lot less.
P.P.S. Chris, tell him that. Every day.
Reading along, I grinned and squeezed Gregory’s shoulder. “Work less.”
Looking up, Greg sought my gaze.
“You think you wouldn’t be a good parent?”
I pulled a face.
“I dunno. I never really…” and then I saw the way he looked at my face, my response. Very intently. “Oh my god, you want a kid?”
He nodded and smiled.
“Surprised? Yes, I’d like them. Not one but two. Perhaps adopt or using a surrogate. I’ve thought of it, but I didn’t want to ever do it alone. But with my partner...it’s something I’d like to discuss at some point in the future. I’m not getting any younger and I wouldn’t want my kid to hear “is that your granddad?’ when I bring him to school.”
I snickered at that.
“You’re not that old. But we can discuss it, I suppose. Now, in the meantime; how about you come to bed and we try for one? Like...many, many times?”
He sighed deeply, rising and groaning is such a fake manner, it was funny.
“If I have to, I suppose,” he said, quasi dejectedly and then ducked, just in time when a pillow was about to hit him square in the face.
“Oh, you….you did not just…”
His eyes flashed and my heart beat just that little bit faster.
“Did you just throw something at me?”
Ah yes. The arguments. Thrilling. Those still happened, of course; we wouldn’t be ourselves if it was all peachy and rosy. Absolutely not. At times things still went nuclear, especially when outside ‘forces’ encroached on what Greg considered his territory. It never lasted long because one of us, yes, even me, would go to the other and apologize. We’d talk about it and make up, usually on the spot. It was rare to last longer than a day, but it did happen.
This was all good fun, though. I found he responded very well to the little stuff, a little needling, just to see what it would do. Provoke him a little and my appetite would be sated quickly enough. The big stuff, not so much; Mr. No Fun reared its ugly head then, but that happened rarely. We just...worked.
I bit my lower lip as he withdrew the towel from his waist, exposing himself in full glory.
“I believe I did, sir.”
“You’re getting far too complacent, these days. I believe punishment is in order, so that you’ll behave.”
My body reacted instantly.
“I think I feel a headache coming on, sir.”
“That’s fine; it’s not your head I will be focusing on.”
A corner of his mouth perked up as he reached for the sheet covering me and yanked it away.
“You’re wearing too much. Off.”
Granted, a relationship like this wouldn’t work for everyone. But it did for me. For us. And looking back? I was glad old Mr. Montgomery had seen it.
Even when we didn’t.
And a small excerpt from the Epilogue:
Life was good. And bringing these two into the world had only added, though sometimes I really wanted to plaster them both behind the wallpaper. Just for five minu….
“They’re here,” Greg’s voice cut into my thoughts.
Looking toward the house, I saw a small crowd slowly coming toward us, descending the steps from the patio onto the grass; three kids in front, already coming at a run, their parents following slower behind. Waiving to them, I rose to my feet and braced as the first kid reached us and flung herself around my neck.