Never walk alone - 15. Chapter 15
This chapter deals very briefly with the contentious issue of circumcision.
I have also tried to upload the promised images of the yacht, with little success. They are all in the site gallery in Story Material Archive labelled Majestic 530. I will try to move them into an album once this chapter is published.
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.
"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".
"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?
"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.
"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"
"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".
"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?".
"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?"
"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.
"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"
"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.
"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"
"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".
"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.
"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"
"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.
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