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Never walk alone - 17. Chapter 17

Christmas Eve started off being very busy. François called to say he would not be at dinner, he was joining Claude at the lodge instead. The cleaning service arrived at 8am and descended on the house like a swarm of bees. Andrew and Ryan had their work cut out to prevent them from disturbing Donna and Craig, until they emerged from the guest room at 10am. David and Janice arrived soon after, to see if they could be of assistance, but all thoughts of dinner were banished, when Donna and Craig announced that they had got engaged the night before, with Donna gleefully waving her engagement ring at everybody. After tears from Janice, and lots of hugs, kisses and congratulations, Ryan produced a bottle of sparkling wine and they all celebrated with the happy couple

"So," asked Andrew, "Have you set a date yet?" Donna shook her head.

"Nothing definite yet. We'll wait until we get back to Johannesburg. We do know we don't want to wait too long, so we are planning on a late winter wedding, probably August. I want my dress to have long sleeves, so cooler weather would be better."

"Oh good, so we will be back from the Mediterranean by then", said Ryan. Janice looked at him and asked,

"Since when are you going to the Mediterranean and when?" Andrew explained.

"Our last charter guests, Dan and Joan Kinley, invited us to join them on the maiden voyage of their new motor yacht they are launching in January. Probably the last week of June. We will know for definite in the middle of January. They're even covering our airfares".

Janice shook her head.

"I cannot keep up with you two. Talk about lifestyles of the rich and famous. You own a yacht, and a hotel, you get married on a beach in Mauritius, now you're jetting off to the Mediterranean to go cruising on a brand new motor yacht."

Ryan grinned at her .

"I guess it just goes with the territory, mom. When you move in those circles like we do, you are bound to pick up the odd invitation or two. All of our international clients are all very well heeled".

Once all the excitement had died down, and the cleaners had left, Andrew started issuing orders.

"Ry, can you and Craig set up the bar on the console between the lounge and dining room. Make sure the glasses are polished".

"Mom, could you and Donna set the table for me please. Twelve people, but we need fourteen chairs so that we can put Cameron and Elizabeth with us at the table. You will need to put in two extra leaves. Dad or Ry might have to help you with that. Everything you need is either on or in the sideboard"

"Dad, will you keep an eye on Cameron and Elizabeth and lend a hand if needed. Thank you, control freak mode off".

Everyone giggled at Andrew's infectious mood and got busy with their tasks. Ryan was just happy that Andrew seemed to be dealing with the festive season far better than the two previous years.

The wine cooler that stood alongside the console between the lounge and dining room was packed with beers. The wine for the evening was in the refrigerator. The small bar fridge in the console contained soft drinks and water. Everything else was either in the glass fronted console or on the top surface.

The table, once Janice and Donna were done looked amazing. Andrew had decided on gold and white colour palette and the sumptuous gold tablecloth fell to the floor. White crockery with a fine gold line on the rim, starched white serviettes in gold rings, white individual salt and pepper cellars and crystal glassware glittered on the cloth. The cutlery was heavy brass handled pieces, as Andrew felt gold plated cutlery was a little over the top. Down the centre of the table was a long centrepiece consisting of brass candlesticks of various heights, white candles, gold decoration balls in various sizes and designs, with
gold tinsel woven between all the elements. Two candlesticks stood on the sideboard on either side of the food warmers.

Dinner was set 7.30pm for 8pm and by 5pm everything was in place. Andrew just had to finish cooking the meal. David and Janice set off home to freshen up and dress.

Andrew set out bowls of nuts, pretzels and crisps with some crudités and dips for pre-dinner drinks, dimmed the lights and at 7pm when Donna came out of the bedroom, ready for the evening, Andrew dashed upstairs to shower and change and help Ryan get the twins dressed.

Just before 7.30 the Devlin-Major family swept down the staircase , the boys in crisp black trousers and white mandarin collar shirts, and the twins dressed as elves in white babygrows. Cameron's had a green collar and green hat with a red pompom and red booties with pointed toes,while Elizabeth had a red collar and hat with a green pompom and green booties with pointed toes. They looked adorable and seemed to relish all the attention they were getting.

Andrew looked around with a satisfied smile. The twins were looking really cute. The room looked amazing, with warm lighting and the table looking like a huge jewel box glowing in the candlelight.

He handed Cameron to Donna and went into the kitchen to check the meat and vegetables. The vegetables were almost done so he put them into serving bowls with lids and set them on the warmers to finish. He took the meat out to let it rest, while the roast potatoes still had a short while in the oven to go.

David and Janice arrived back just as Nicky and Beth pulled up. Andrew and Ryan met them at the top of the stairs. Beth's eyes were bright as she asked,

"Where are they? I cannot wait to see them! It's been ages!" Andrew and Ryan hugged her and stepped back so that she could see the twins, now sitting in their chairs. Her eyes widened and brimmed with tears.

"Oh my god, my babies. They are so big already. And they look so cute in those outfits.". She hurried to them and looked at them, as only a mother could, taking in every little detail. They gazed at this strange woman for a moment, and then, as if instinctively knowing that they somehow meant something to her, they smiled and waved their arms about. She bent down and kissed them both on the forehead and straightened to look at Andrew and Ryan.

"They are beautiful. Thank you"

Andrew and Ryan came to stand beside her, looking down at the twins.

"They are beautiful. And we love them more than life itself. They bring extra sunlight to our lives everyday. Ryan and I can never thank you enough for the part you played in them being with us today"

The serious mood was broken by Darren and Kerry walking up the stairs. Ryan and Andrew stepped forward to greet them. Darren was in an exuberant mood.

"Holy crap, guys! This is quite some pad you have here. Very imposing from the outside and by the looks of things, just as good inside. Wow!"

Ryan shook his hand and kissed Kerry on the cheek.

"Hi guys, welcome. I cannot believe this is the first time you have been here! I'll show you around later. Let's just get you introduced to everybody".
Just then Paul and Marie walked up the stairs with baby Jonathan in his chair, fast asleep.

"Hi guys, just in time for the intros".

Ryan raised his voice above the hubbub of conversation.

"Everybody, can I just have your attention for one minute? You all know one another, except for these young people here. This is Darren and Kerry. They are our number 2 crew for 'Belle Catherine'. Guys, behind you is Paul and his wife Marie and their son Jonathan. Paul is GM of Blue Bay Lodge. On the left is my parents, David and Janice Major, and my sister Donna and her fiancee, as of last night, Craig.. On the right is Dr Nicola Smith and her partner Beth Cameron, who just happens to be Cameron and Elizabeth's mother."

Darren smiled at Beth.

"So at last we know where they got their good looks from."

Everyone laughed and Andrew pointed a finger at him, mouthing, "Watch it", then added loudly,

"Guys please enjoy yourselves tonight. We're not going to stand on ceremony. Thd bar is over on the console between the lounge and the dining room. If you need a bathroom, use any of the two doors that are open upstairs. Grab yourselves a drink. Dinner will be ready in about thirty minutes".

Everyone congratulated Craig and Donna on their engagement, got themselves a drink and then split up into groups.
Donna and Craig, along with Nicky and Beth moved out onto the balcony, while Paul, Marie, David and Janice sat on the couches close to the twins. Ryan took Darren and Kerry on a quick tour of the house and when they came back, they joined the group on the balcony. Rascal was doing the rounds, going from group to group looking for some attention and eventually just lay down on the rug and observed the goings on, before falling asleep.

Kerry went to the kitchen to see if Andrew needed an extra hand . She helped him pour the soups into the bowls and carefully remove the plastic rings, facinated by the result, and add all the garnishes. Then she helped him carry the bowls to the table.

Then, while Andrew carved the meat, she moved all the serving dishes onto the food warmers and when Andrew was done, he covered the meat with a lid, placed it on the warmer and called dinner. Ryan and David carried the twins in their chairs and put them between Andrew and Ryan and everyone got themselves comfortable. Cameron and Elizabeth gazed in wide eyed wonder at the glittering table in front of them, and they gurgled and squealed, waving their arms and kicking their legs.

Janice insisted on giving thanks, so they all held hands while she offered up a prayer of thanks and after Andrew and Ryan poured wine into glasses, the meal began and they all tucked in.

There were many comments about the soup and how pretty it looked, Andrew having to explain to how it was done and Donna and Kerry cleared the soup bowls when everyone was finished .

Andrew stood up and removed all the covers on the main meal and said,

"Folks, please help yourselves to main course. The plates are in the warmer, so bring your serviettes, they may be quite hot".

Everyone filled their plates and the meal reached a very satisfying conclusion when Andrew brought out the pavlova, which he portioned onto plates, leaving some for those who wanted seconds.

When everyone was sated, Donna, Kerry and Janice helped to clear the table and pack the dishwasher for its first load, while Andrew made coffee and warmed bottles for the twins. Then they sat at the table chatting, with the twins showing signs of going to sleep after their feed. Andrew and Ryan carried them upstairs, followed by Rascal and put them to bed, turning on the monitor before they left the bedroom.

Darren and Kerry were the first to leave, as they were on the first flight out to Durban in the morning, and had to be at the air-port at 5.30am. Andrew and Ryan handed them each a gift and they gave the boys a gift in return, all promising not to open them until the morning.
Paul and Marie left soon after, with Nicky and Beth, Paul having to be at the lodge early to make sure everything was being set up for the Christmas Day lunch which was, once again, fully booked. They would exchange gifts at lunch the next day.

David and Janice had brought a bag with them, as they were staying for the night, to be close for the opening of gifts in the morning. Everyone jumped in to help tidy up, and then retired to bed, leaving the Christmas tree lights blinking in the darkened room, guarded by two huge teddy bears named Cameron and Elizabeth.

On Christmas morning, Andrew and Ryan were up at 7am. While Ryan attended to the twins, Andrew was in the kitchen making a small breakfast of strawberry muffins and croissants, fruit juice, tea and coffee, which they could eat while opening their gifts.

Ryan brought the twins down and sat them in one of the armchairs supported by pillows, then set up his video camera on its tripod to film the family opening their gifts. Their guests appeared from their bedrooms, like Andrew and Ryan, wearing bathrobes, and they all wished one another Merry Christmas, grabbed something to eat and drink, and sat down on the couches.

Ryan moved the coffee table and carried the teddy bears over,putting them on the rug. Then he sat the twins down on the rug between the legs of the bears and David started to hand out the wrapped gifts. When he was done, the twins could barely be seen surrounded by an impressive pile of presents, and each adult had a far more modest pile in front of them including one large square shaped one that was between Andrew and Ryan's pile.

Andrew and Ryan sat down next to Cameron and Elizabeth to help them open the gifts. They had deliberately chosen thinner paper for the twins gifts to make it easier for them to tear the paper. They each handed the twins a gift, and, of course, the first thing they wanted to do was chew it, but eventually the paper was torn enough to reveal each gift and they moved onto the next. In the end, the boys were sitting behind Cameron and Elizabeth helping them open the gifts or they would have been there the whole day.

Elizabeth took an immediate shine to her purple and pink fluffy dinosaur and refused to let go of it and it seemed Cameron's favourite toy was his little yellow and blue Mel minion. Once they twins were sorted out, the adults started opening their gifts.

The boys had bought one another new Ipods, Andrew's old one being one of the first models to come out, and Ryan's having being damaged by seawater.
Andrew and Ryan had given Donna and Craig leather bound diaries, a large one for their desks and smaller ones to carry on their persons. They also got a weeks fully inclusive accommodation including the spa, at the lodge to use whenever they wanted to, subject to availability.

Janice was given her preferred fragrance, a padded mat to use when she had to kneel down when working in the garden and a year's subscription to two of her favourite magazines. David also got subscriptions, and a season ticket for two people for all the cricket matches to be played at Newlands Cricket Stadium, including any international games. Donna and Craig, by their own admission, took the easy way out and got gift vouchers for Andrew and Ryan saying,

"Do you know how difficult it is to buy gifts for two guys who already have everything?".

All that was left was the square object, obviously a picture from David and Janice. When Andrew and Ryan opened it, they both gasped and grinned at each other. It was a charcoal sketch of them laying on the bed with the twins asleep on their chests. The hands between them were clasped and both sets of faces were turned towards one another. She had captured the moment perfectly and it was heartstoppingly beautiful. It was on a smoked glass backing with a brushed stainless steel frame that David had designed and made. Andrew and Ryan hugged and thanked them, then Ryan said, "That painting above the bed is gonna have to find another wall to hang on. This is going above the bed!".

Andrew looked at Janice and asked,

"Mom how many pieces to you have? Are they all of us and the twins, or do you have any with other subjects?".

"A lot of them are of the family, but I also have others as well, the mountain, the bay, beach scenes, anything that catches my eye really. And not all in pencil and charcoal. I have started working with watercolour as well now. Why do you ask?"

"Well, the artwork in the lobby of the lodge is all on loan. We support local artists and we display their work in the lobby and try to sell it for them. Our present agreement comes to and end at the end of the year. We have a new artist in mind for next year, but how would you like to exhibit your work next year?"

"Oh wow Drew. I would love to. But do you think they would be good enough? I've seen the art you have on exhibit at the moment. It's incredible.".

"Mom, I believe you have the talent. Also the last two years have both been artists working in oils. I think we need a change, not only of artist, but medium as well and you get a small fee every month for the use of your works. You will just have to have some in reserve should you get a sale. Then that work will have to be replaced by a new one".

"Well, why don't we stop off at the house after lunch and you can see what I have? If you think it will work, then I will be happy with that"

"Yeah, let's do that. I'll tell Paul when we see him today to hold off on the new artist until I advise him.
Right, let's get all this mess cleared away and get ready for lunch".

The first thing Ryan did was replace the painting above the bed with the charcoal sketch. While he was doing that, Andrew showered. Ryan took his place in the shower while Andrew got dressed and watched the twins who were in their cot napping. He noticed that they were growing fast and that the cot was becoming a little small for both of them. He would have to talk to Ryan, but maybe it was time for them to go back to separate cots.

When Ryan emerged from his shower, Andrew called him over. They gazed down at their two bundles of joy. Andrew said,

"What do you see?"

"I see our angels, sleeping peacefully. What should I be seeing?"

"You don't think it's getting a bit crowded in there?"

"Hmmm, maybe. They are getting bigger".

"I think it's time to move them back to the nursery and to their own cots. We may have to rearrange things a but in there, so that they don't feel separated".

"You're right. A certain puppy is going to be very put out. You do realise that?"

"He's just going to have to adjust, and he will. Maybe we can put his bed in the nursery with them. And we can have our bed to ourselves again".

Ryan grinned.

"I can live with that. We won't have to see that look of moral indignation when we get too frisky. Why don't we do the change tomorrow. It's an easy day".

Andrew nodded.

"Good idea. Tomorrow it is".

Once they were both ready, they walked into the nursery to have a look and plan. Andrew stood looking at the empty cot.

"We know they don't like to be too far from one another. So if we put the two cots on the long wall, head to head, I think it could work. If they get cranky, we could put one of the others toys in the cot. Try and fool them with a familiar smell, until they get used to being on their own".

Ryan nodded.

"Yeah, we could do that. Also, if we put the cots on that long wall, there is space at the foot of each cot to put the big bears. Like guards watching them"

Andrew giggled.

"This room is going to look awfully small with those two teddy bears in here..uhoh"

He was interrupted by a soft cry from the bedroom.

"It sounds like one of them is awake"

It turned out they were both awake, but Cameron was the one crying. By the red mark on his cheek, one of his sisters flailing little fists had connected. They picked up the twins and cuddled them for a while, before washing them and dressing them for lunch.

Andrew had taken inspiration from Beth's outfit from the previous Christmas and had a pair of pants made for Cameron and pinafore style dress for Elizabeth, both in the Cameron tartan. Cameron had a soft white shirt and socks and shiny patent leather shoes and belt. Elizabeth had a soft frilly blouse, white socks and tiny black ballet pumps. Ryan had not seen the out
fits before, Andrew had kept them as a surprise. When they were dressed, Ryan got the video camera and filmed them laying on the bed, then sitting up supported by the pillows. He was grinning from ear to ear as he filmed.

"Babe, they look so cute. The outfits are great.".

Andrew grinned back at him.

"Thanks love. The outfits turned out far better than I imagined. The seamstress did an amazing job".

When they came down the stairs to the waiting family, Janice and Donna, descended on them.

"Oh, they look soooo cute. The outfits are amazing. Where on earth did you find them?" exclaimed Janice.

"Had them made, mom. The tartan is the Cameron tartan", explained Andrew. "Beth told us before they were even conceived, that she was the grand niece of the head of the Clan Cameron in Scotland and as such, they would be entitled to wear the Cameron tartan"

"Wow boys!. I don't know if you realise it, but that's a very big deal with what I know of Scottish clan tradition".

"Well, they look beautuful" said Donna.

Picking up the baby chairs, they walked to the cars, placed the chairs in the trunk and secured the twins into the safety seats in the car and they drove to lunch at the lodge. The parking area was bustling when they arrived with cars pulling in and families walking towards the main door all heading for the restaurant and patio. Thomas hurried to the car when he saw them arrive and greeted them as they stepped out.

"Ah, Mr Andrew, Mr Ryan. Compliments of the season to you. It is good to see you again"

Ryan smiled and shook his hand.

"Merry Christmas to you and your family too, Thomas. How are you?"

"I am well Mr Ryan", he replied, and watched as they unbuckled the twins from their seats. He beamed as they lifted the babies into their arms.

"They are getting so big. And they look so pretty. Can I help with anything,", seeing them reaching for bags of baby requirements. Andrew came round the car,

"Merry Christmas, Thomas. Could you open up the back and get the chairs out please. Ryan and I will carry the babies and the bags. If you could just bring the chairs, that would be a great help"

"No problem, Mr Andrew."

He got the chairs out and followed Andrew and Ryan to the door, where the others were waiting. David and Craig relieved Thomas of the chairs, allowing him to get back to his duties, and they entered the cool lobby of the Blue Bay Lodge.

A tall pine tree stood slightly off centre in the room to allow it to reach almost to the second floor landing. It was adorned with hundreds of white and blue flickering lights and silver bows, bells and balls. A huge shimmering silver star sat on the top of the tree. Christmas themed musak played softly in the background. They walked through the lobby, greeting staff along the way, who all thanked them for the extra money from the dividend cheques, and were met at the restaurant door by a beaming Paul.

"Hello, guys. Merry Christmas. Your table is the usual one at the window. Marie, François, Nicky and Beth are already there.

The hostess led them to the table and Beth beamed as she saw them approaching. She stood up and walked towards them.

"Merry Christmas guys". She looked at the twins, "Oh wow, they look gorgeous. That's the Cameron tartan!. They look so cute in it. Where did you get those outfits"

Andrew grinned at her. "Merry Christmas Beth. Yeah, it is the Cameron tartan. I had a seamstress make them up for me.".

"They're beautiful. She did a fantastic job".

They moved back to the table and walked around it greeting everybody, then placed the baby chairs on two extra chairs at the table, before putting them into the chairs and sitting down on either side of them.
Paul had a Duty Manager in charge of the lunch so he and Claude were able to join them for the meal, although they were both called away at one time or another. Cameron and Elizabeth were given bottles and once they were fed and winded, they were soon in dreamland.

Christmas lunch was once again a very successful event and, as usual, everyone had far too much to eat. They sat around the cleared table chatting as the guests gradually drifted away and they left in the late afternoon. Andrew had chatted to Paul about the art exhibit for the new year and they drove to David and Janice's townhouse to have a look at her portfolio of work, with Paul following behind. They examined what she had and decided it was very suitable for the concept and agreed that Janice was the new artist for the coming year. Her exhibition would go up in the first week of the new year. Fortunately all but a handful were already framed and those that weren't would go to the framers as soon as possible.

Paul left to drive back to the lodge to fetch Marie and Jonathan before going home. The others all stayed for some coffee and fruit cake before they also left for home. The rest of the day was spent relaxing. It was a typical Cape Town summers day, so the twins had a quick paddle in the pool followed by a tepid bath to keep them cool. They dressed them in just their nappy's and vests and gave them a bottle. They winded them and put them down on the rug to play and eventually fall asleep. When they did fall asleep, their dads carried them upstairs and put them down for the night, turning on the baby monitor before they left the room. Rascal was on the bed in his usual place.

No one was hungry, so the evening was spent chatting to Donna and Craig about wedding plans, honeymoons and where they were going to stay. The twins first Christmas Day was over.

Cameron woke them at 6am on Boxing Day with a very full and whiffy diaper. Andrew started cleaning him up, while Ryan went downstairs to make coffee, get some rusks as both were feeling a bit peckish and make bottles for the twins. When he got back to the bedroom, Andrew was just finished with Elizabeth who had also woken up. They crawled back into bed with the twins between them and guarded by Rascal. They reclined against the headboard, dunking their rusks, drinking coffee and watching the TV. The twins had dozed off again after their bottles.

The boys eventually rolled out of bed at 9am and started working on the nursery, moving things around and carrying the cot from the bedroom to the nursery. It took awhile, but they got things arranged to their satisfaction. All that remained now, was to see if Cameron and Elizabeth agreed with their new sleeping quarters.

They freshened up up, spending more time in the shower than was necessary, and dressed in knee length pants and golf shirts. They went downstairs after packing pillows around the twins and turning on the monitor. They were very pleased to find that Donna had made a huge pile of flapjacks and tucked into them with cheese and preserves, washed down with coffee. Ryan found a note advising them that she and Craig had gone for a walk on the beach.

After they had both eaten half a dozen flapjacks each, then covered the remainder and tidied up. Andrew opened the refri-gerator and looked inside it. Ryan looked at him and asked,

"What are you looking for babe? You stillhungry?" Andrew glanced over his shoulder at Ryan.

"No not hungry. Just looking. We seem to be running out of milk and cheddar cheese. And how about we have a BBQ tonight? We don't seem to have had one in ages"

"Sounds good to me. Just us or do we invite people over?"

"Just us, I think. And mom and dad if they want to come. Does that sound selfish?"

"No, not at all.". He took out his mobile. "I'll call mom and find out if they want to come over. About 6ish okay with you"

"That's fine. But maybe they want to come a bit earlier for a swim. They can take the twins for a paddle"

David and Janice accepted the invitation and said they would arrive at 4pm. Andrew opened the deep freezer.

"Looks like one of us will have to go to the store. I don't see any meat suitable for a BBQ. Shall I go?"

"That's fine, I'll stay with the twins. Get us something tasty as well", replied Ryan, meaning something sweet and preferably gooey.

"Don't I always babe. Will you make sure the grill is clean? Do we need charcoal and firelighters as well? With Yvonne not here I don't know what we have and what we don't. I seem to remember she got in some extra bags of charcoal before she left, but I may be wrong".

Ryan went to the pantry to check and came back saying,

"No we got plenty".

Andrew grabbed his wallet and left for the store.

When Andrew left, Ryan grabbed bag of charcoal and a box of firelighters and took them out to the patio. He checked the grill and saw that it had been cleaned, either by Yvonne or the cleaning service. Then he put some large potatoes into a pot of water and set it them on the stove to cook, knowing that Andrew liked to have some sort of potato with BBQ meat, whether it be salad, baked on the grill, or a creamy potato bake. Then he took out the steak knives and forks and the stoneware crockery and put them on the sideboard ready to be set on the patio table. He also took out a rustic tablecloth and napkins.

He had been aware of the buzz of outboard motors for a while and went out onto the balcony. An inflatable boat race was underway further down the beach, with the course coming quite close to the house. He stood and watched for a while until the twins woke up. He brought them downstairs and was playing on the blanket with them when Andrew arrived back. He dumped the shopping bags and joined Ryan and the twins, enjoying some quiet family time. He kissed Ryan on the cheek.

"I saw the potatoes. Thanks babe. Saves me some time. What do you feel like. Potato salad or potato bake?"

He thought for a moment then replied

"I think potato bake. We haven't had one for a while. With lots of onions and mushrooms".

"Potato bake it is then. I'm just going to do a green salad with it. And some garlic bread"

"What did you get that's tasty?" queried Ryan.

"Ahha, apple strudel. With ice cream."

Ryan rubbed his hand together.

"Hmmm, lovely jubbly! One of my favourites".

Andrew laughed,

"You, my love, have many favourites, as long as can be eaten with ice cream"

He grinned at Andrew.

"True dat! You know me so well".

They spent some time with Cameron and Elizabeth, then Andrew went to the kitchen to take the potatoes off the stove and cool them down. He came back with hot pastrami on Rye bread with mustard and pickles for their lunch and bottles of formula for the twins. Donna and Craig arrived back while they were eating. Craig had a pizza box in his hand and looked crestfallen when he saw their plates.

"Oh hell guys, you've had lunch already. We really meant to be back earlier. We bought pizza and ate ours on the way back, but we got some for you too. Sorry!"

"No worries, Craig. I can assure you with Ry around, it will not go to waste. Actually, maybe we can keep it for later. Mom and dad are coming over for a BBQ. We can slice it up for snacks." said Andrew.

Andrew took the box from Craig and went to the kitchen.

"Thanks for thinking of us anyway. I'm about to make coffee. Do you want some?"

"Yes please", they chorused and sat down on the couch.

"Is there anything I can do for dinner" asked Donna.

"Um, you can make the salad, if you want to. Just look in the refrigerator and use whatever you want to. I'm going to make a potato bake as soon as I've had my coffee", replied Andrew.

"Cool, I'll have mine too and then keep you company in the kitchen", she nudged Craig and pointed a finger at Ryan, "while these two lumps relax and watch TV". They were watching the cricket test taking place at the Newlands Stadium.
Ryan mock-glared at his sister.

"I'll have you know, we are not lumps. Craig and I will do the grilling tonight, while the rest of you relax. And anyway, you enjoy the cricket as much as we do".

Andrew carried in a tray with the coffee and some choc chip biscuits and they all sat watching the cricket until the players took their break for tea. Andrew and Donna busied themselves in the kitchen and all the prep was quickly done. The bake just had to go into the oven, and the garlic bread warmed up.

David and Janice arrived at almost the same time as the twins waking up, so Craig went to the door to let them in, while Andrew and Ryan took the babies upstairs to change their diapers. On returning to the lounge, the twins were immediately commandeered by their grandparents and everyone settled down to watch the end of the days play of cricket. Ryan organised drinks for everyone. He handed David his beer and said,

"Just imagine dad. This time next year you could be sitting there in the stadium, instead of watching on TV. Your season ticket entitles you to that".

David smiled up at him. "I'm really looking forward to that. I attended a couple of matches at Wanderers before . It was great fun. It will be interesting to see what the atmosphere is like at Newlands compared to Wanderers".

As soon as play for the day was over, Ryan and Craig went out onto the patio to start the fire for the meat. Ryan called out from the door,

"Babe , how much meat did you get, so I know how much coals we are going to need?"

Andrew peered out from beneath the cupboards over the breakfast counter.

"I got some boerewors, lamb cutlets and pork spare ribs. According to the butcher, the ribs are parcooked, so they won't take long".

"Okay, cool, thanks"

While the fire was burning down, Andrew and Janice took the twins upstairs for their bath. Janice noticed the missing cot and enquired,

"Oh, you've moved them back to the nursery!".

Andrew nodded.

"Yeah, as of this morning. The single cot was starting to get crowded, so we moved them back to the nursery", he explained while moving towards the nursery door. "We had to rearrange things slightly so that they can still be close to one another. Tonight will be the big test though to see how they accept the new status quo. They like being close to one another, but Elizabeth hit Cam in the face yesterday morning when she woke up. He was not a happy camper!"

Janice giggled.

"So little sister is trying to bully her big brother".

Andrew grinned.

"Something like that".

Janice started bathing Elizabeth while Andrew held Cameron and moved around getting fresh diapers, clothes, and all the lotions, creams and powders that were required.
Janice wrapped Elizabeth in a fluffy towel and put her on the bed for Andrew to dry and dress her. Then she took Cameron from Andrew and started the bathing ritual all over again.
When he was done with Cameron, he bent over them as they lay on the bed.

"There you go. All good and clean and fresh, my angels.". They gurgled and chortled when he tickled their tummies. He picked up Elizabeth and passed her to Janice.

"Go to grandma and I will get your brother". He picked Cameron up and they walked back downstairs to join the family. Andrew moved to the patio door and asked,

"Ry, do you want to come in and help feed them?". Ryan turned his head to look at Andrew. "I would love to, but I don't think so. They've just had a bath and I'm a bit smoky at the moment. I'll come and sit with you and mom while you feed them. Craig can watch the meat".

"Okay babe. Give me a few to make the bottles".

Ryan joined them as they were feeding the infants , their eyes darting from face to face of the group sitting around them as they sucked on the bottles. Andrew and Janice winded them and then carried them onto the patio with light blankets over them and sat down at the table. It wasn't long before one black and one sandy haired head were nestled on dad's and grandma's shoulders, fast asleep. Ryan smiled as he took in the scene and his chest tightened. These two tiny people were his children and he loved them with all his heart. His blue eyes misted over and he bent down to kiss their heads, breathing in the baby smells of shampoo, lotion and baby powder. He lifted his head and saw Andrew watching him and he kissed his head as well. Andrew just smiled at him and nodded, mouthing silently " I know". Then he asked,

"Will you fetch their chairs. We can put them down and get dinner finished. It's warm enough out here, as long as they are covered. How long before the meat is ready?"

"Ten minutes maybe. I'll get the chairs".

With the twins sleeping peacefully watched by Janice and Rascal, Andrew went to the kitchen to check on the potato bake and put the bread into the oven to warm through. He carried the salad and a variety of salad dressings out to the table. Donna had set the table while the twins were being fed, so dinner was almost ready. When Ryan and Craig started taking the meat off the grill, Andrew fetched the potatoes and the bread from the oven and put them on the table as well. Then they all sat down and ate.

When they hadall eaten their fill, Janice and Donna cleared the table, while Andrew warmed the apple strudel and took the ice cream out of the freezer. He also took out a jar of salted caramel sauce. When the strudel was warm, he generously drizzled salted caramel sauce over it and took it and the ice cream out to the table where he served it up. Ryan was in seventh heaven and even went so far as to pour a spoonful of caramel sauce into his spoon and eat it, closing his eyes as he did.

"I could eat this stuff by the spoonful. It is sooooo good"

"We noticed", commented Donna drily. Everyone laughed and David just shook his head as he gazed at his youngest child. He looked at Janice and asked

"What did we do to have a child like him. Will he ever grow up?". Everyone laughed again and Ryan replied,

"You and mom should feel lucky you had a son like me. I am one of a kind, unique".

David grinned,

"And never been short on humbleness, I'm sure. I'm just glad you're Drew's problem now".

Andrew giggled,

"He's actually not that bad,", glancing up at Ryan as he spluttered in indignantly, "but I love him as he is, warts and all. And I wouldn't change it for all the world".

Ryan bent down and kissed him. "Thank you my love. Nice save by the way".

David and Janice did not stay long after dinner and left for home soon after they had finished their coffee. Donna and Craig helped with the tidy up before going to their bedroom, leaving Andrew and Ryan to lock up and turn the lights off. Walking into their bedroom without having the cot standing to one side left them both feeling a sense of loss and by unspoken agreement the went and stood at the entrance of the nursery and gazed at the two cots with their tiny, precious occupants. Both babies were sleeping peacefully, head to head in their respective cots. Rascal watched them from his bed on the floor without lifting his head from his paws, just his eyes moving as they followed the men. They bent down and gently kissed both infants and patted Rascal, before Ryan turned on the nightlight and the baby monitor and they returned to master suite where they undressed, brushed their teeth, turned off the bedlights and and slid between the cool sheets, facing one another.

Ryan brushed Andrew's hair off his forehead and then traced a fingerdown his cheek, across his jaw, up the other cheek, over his forehead and down his nose to his lips.

"I am so lucky to have someone like you to love me, and for me to love." he whispered softly. Andrew kissed Ryan's finger, his eyes shining with moisture and love.

"I am awed each day that I can love you more than I did the day before. When Cam and Elizabeth were born, I was afraid that I would have to share my love for you with them. But amazingly, I found that I didn't have to do that. My love for you just grew and I found that same amount of love for them as well. So I am the lucky one. To be able to love you and our two beautiful children the way I do, is just the most special feeling in the whole world".

Ryan kissed him tenderly.

"Then you know exactly how I feel too". He rolled over onto Andrew, propping himself with his elbows and settling between Andrew's legs and grinned down at him.

"You do realise this is the first time since they were born that we have had the bedroom to ourselves. We don't even have to worry about Rascal".

Andrew giggled.

"Those looks we got when things got heated were something else. He certainly has character".

Ryan bent his head and they kissed deeply, crushing their lips together, tongues dueling. It wasn't long before both were breathing heavily, their hands and fingers exploring one another's bodies. Eventually, Andrew bent his legs with his feet flat on the bed and Ryan gently and very slowly entered him, assisted by Andrew, who gripped his buttocks and pulled him into him. Then they made love. It wasn't heated, go-at-it sex. Instead it was slow and languid, both showing the love they had for the other, that had them both sweaty and utterly sated when it was over.

Sleep claimed them almost immediately, their faces almost touching on the pillows, legs still entwined and were wakened by two plaintive cries from the nursery just as dawn was breaking. They both donned bathrobes and while Ryan saw to the twins, Andrew went to prepare bottles, make coffee for him and Ryan and feed Rascal.

When he got back to the bedroom, the twins were laying on the duvet, propped up with pillows, their arms and legs moving energetically, both clearly very unhappy. Rascal sat at their feet, watching. He only moved to greet Andrew when he approached the bed, his tail wagging, before going back to his position at the twins feet. Andrew handed one bottle to Ryan and they gently nudged the bottles into the babies mouths. Blessed silence descended to the room as if a switch had been flicked, broken only by faint murmurs of contentment from the twins as they sucked on the formula.

Sipping their coffee, they reclined against the headboard and watched Cameron and Elizabeth as they drank their bottles. Andrew leaned over and kissed Ryan, smiling.

"Good morning my love. Been so hectic since we woke up, we haven't even had time to say good morning. Our angels were not quite so angelic this morning."

Ryan grinned back at him and leaned in for another kiss.

"Morning babe. Yeah, I wonder if it was because they woke up in a strange room. And being hungry, of course. They seemed to settle a bit once I brought them in here to change them".

"Hmm", Andrew mused, "Could be. I'm sure they will get used to the new sleeping arrangements. We must just persevere".

The twins quickly finished their bottles and Andrew and Ryan each picked up one of them and cuddled with them while they winded them at the same time. Once they had burped, their dad's lay with them on their chests, enjoying the feeling of the babies gentle breathing against them. Andrew glanced at Ryan saying,

"What do you want to do today?"

Ryan turned his head to look at him.

"I was thinking we might go to the yacht this morning. Open her up and get her aired. Check on what we need for New Years Eve and the trip up the coast. I'm pretty sure Darren and Kerry have got her all cleaned up but she has been closed up for four days now, so the cabins are going to need some fresh air".

Andrew nodded.

"Good thinking. Then it won't be such a mad rush to get things done on Tuesday before the New Year get together. I'll get the cabins and bathrooms prepared as well. We have one problem though. Not a huge one, but a problem nevertheless".

Ryan looked at him with a puzzled expression.

"What problem would that be?"

"Well, mom and dad would normally be in the port aft cabin. But, with Paul, Marie and Jonathan joining us, they are going to need the aft cabin to have the space for Jonathan to sleep. So mom and dad will need to go to the midships cabin and Donna and Craig will be in the port forward cabin", explained Andrew.

Ryan grinned and shook his head.

"Andrew Devlin-Major, you don't know your own yacht. The Mason's can go into the midships cabin no problem at all. Remember, it has that storage shelf next to the bed that is actually designed to be a bed for a child. The mattress is stored in the locker under the shelf."

Andrew's eyes widened.

"I had completely forgotten about that. We've never used it as a bed before. Yeah, that would work perfectly. Then mom and dad can have the aft cabin". He breathed a sigh of relief. "I wasn't looking forward to telling mom she would have to give up her usual cabin".

He gently moved Elizabeth, who had fallen asleep, off his chest and lay her on the duvet.

"Let's get this show on the road. The sooner we get there, the sooner if will be done. I'll shower first. We can get breakfast on the way or order it in once we are on board".

They took turns to use the bathroom, while the other one kept an eye on the twins. Ryan dressed Cameron while Andrew was in the shower, leaving Elizabeth for Andrew to let her sleep a bit longer. Andrew got dressed while Ryan went into the bathroom and then gently started dressing Elizabeth, waking her up in the process, which she was not happy about. Once she was dressed, Andrew picked up his wailing daughter and comforted her, walking around the room, gently rocking her, and she slowly pacified and calmed down, cuddled in her dad's arms.

When Ryan came back into the bedroom, Andrew lay her next to Cameron and went to the kitchen and got two bottles of diluted apple juice, took them up to the bedroom and gave each of the babies a bottle of juice. Ryan packed the baby bags and then stripped the sheets off the bed and took them down to the washing machine, while Andrew had the twins.
When he came back he took Elizabeth from Andrew and they each grabbed a baby bag and walked down to the car where they secured the twins in their car seats. Rascal jumped up with his front paws in the bottom ledge of the rear door and looked at Ryan forlornly. He bent down and picked the little dog up, scratching his ears and chin.

"Do you want to go with us, my puppy? Let's see what your other daddy says?"

Rascal wuffed, wriggling his body and wagging his tail. Ryan peered at Andrew on the other side of the

"Shall we take him with us?"

Andrew sighed in resignation.

"Yeah, we can. He's not a lot of trouble. He'll probably just fall asleep anyway. We actually got triplets, not twins", grinning at Ryan, who put Rascal on the back seat between the twins then turned to go back into the house to fetch his leash. When they were satisfied that they had everything, Ryan drove the family to the marina and 'Belle Catherine', while Andrew phoned and placed an order for two breakfasts to be delivered to the yacht in thirty minutes.

Ryan drove onto the dock and parked next to where 'Belle Catherine' was moored. Andrew deactivated the intruder alert via the app on his mobile, and stepped on board to unlock the security gate and the doors to the main saloon, then waited at the railing to take the twins and bags from Ryan as the took them out of the car. Ryan lifted Rascal from the seat, locked the car and stepped on board, putting Rascal down on the deck. He immediately scampered down the side deck to the bows, sniffing and exploring, his tail wagging excitedly. A few minutes later he was back in the saloon, jumping up on the seating and curling up in the corner, his eyes on the twins who were sleeping in their chairs on the saloon seating.

Andrew and Ryan moved through the yacht, opening windows, portholes and hatches to get fresh air flowing through, making sure that all the cabin and bathroom doors were open. Back in the galley, Andrew started brewing a pot of coffee while Ryan checked the readings on the batteries and the fresh water levels. The sunny weather over the past few days had ensured that the solar panels had done their job, and the batteries were fully charged. They would, however, have to fill the fresh water tanks before they left. He grunted in satisfaction when he noticed the black and grey water tanks were empty and mentally thanked Darren. He also walked round the deck checking on lines and ropes, fittings, winches and all the other exterior equipment including the dinghy and its motor.

A motorcycle pulled up next to the car and beeped its horn and he moved to the dockside railing to assist the delivery man on board with their breakfast order. They stood in the cockpit as Ryan took the boxes from him and handed over his credit card. The young guy ran the card through his handheld card machine and while he waited for the approval, he glanced around him at the yacht.

"Nice boat, dude! She yours, if you don't mind me asking?"

Ryan smiled at him.
"No problem. Yes, mine and my partners. We're getting her ready for a New years cruise."

He grinned back at Ryan, handing him his receipt.

"Cool. Thank you for the tip and enjoy your breakfast"

Ryan nodded.

"Thanks, we will. Happy holidays"

The delivery guy nodded, stepped onto the dock and swung his leg over the motorcycle before driving away. Ryan picked up the boxes and carried them into the saloon.

"Breakfast's here babe", he shouted, not sure in which cabin Andrew was.

"On my way", yelled Andrew, his voice rising up from the starboard hull, and moments later his head appeared as the ascended the stairs. "Darren and Kerry did really well. All the beds are made up and the cabins are ready. Even the bathrooms have been stocked with guest amenities. All we have to do is get the child bunk in the midships cabin set up for Jonathan"

"Okay, let's have breakfast, then I'll get the mattress out for you. You can make the bed. You're much better at it than I am. While you're doing that, I want to get the fresh water tanks filled, and maybe motor over to the fuel dock and top up the fuel tanks. With luck we can be done here by lunchtime."

They ate their breakfasts straight out of the boxes with orange juice from the refrigerator and finished with the coffee Andrew had brewed. When they were done, Ryan gathered up the boxes and stepped onto the dock to deposit them in a nearby refuse bin. Back on board, he went down to the port midships cabin and lifted the mattress for the child bed into place, then moved to the helm to start an engine to move them to the fuel dock.

Andrew checked Cameron and Elizabeth on the way past and went down to get the bed made. He heard Ryan on the radio requesting permission to move to the fuel dock and a few minutes later, Andrew felt the vibration of the port engine coming to life before settling down to a faint background rumble, deepening slightly as Ryan opened the throttle to power them away from the dockside. A short while later he heard voices as they approached the dock and he hurried onto the deck to toss the mooring lines to the workers manning the fueling dock. When they were safely tied up, he left Ryan to supervise the refueling and top-ping up the fresh water and returned to the cabin to finish making the bed and getting the cabin shipshape again. He checked all the cabins again to make sure that everything was ready and then returned to the galley where he looked through the lockers and cupboards to check what food stocks they had while making a list of what needed to be ordered for replenishment. He then sat at the saloon table, opened his laptop and placed an order with his supplier for everything they needed for delivery on
the morning of New Years eve. He also placed an order for the platters for New Years eve.

He looked up the contact number for the beach restaurant called them on his mobile to make the reservation for New Years Day, giving them his credit card details for the payment. Hearing voices outside, he glanced through the saloon windows to see Ryan handing over the yachts fuel credit card and waiting for the charge to be made. Then the two workers on the dock tossed the bow and stern lines on board and Ryan gently manouvered 'Belle Catherine' away from the fuel dock, heading back to their mooring.

Ryan was right. By lunchtime they were safely tied up again and 'Belle Catherine' was ready to greet her next guests. Ryan turned on the generator to replace the battery charge they had used during the morning and they sat in the cockpit, relaxing and drinking sodas.Andrew lifted his legs onto the cushions of the seating area and sighed in contentment.

"I really love being here. Just boarding 'Belle Catherine' makes me relax and feel completely carefree. It's almost as though she sets me free".

Ryan grinned at him.

"I know the feeling. I think it's the knowledge that, if we wanted to, we could just sail off into the wild blue yonder and not have a care in the world. It's the sense of freedom that she gives us."

Andrew put his head against the backrest cushions and closed his eyes, listening to the water lapping against the hulls and the faint ting-ting of one of the lines striking the mast in the wind. He peered at Ryan through half opened eyelids.

"I hate to say it, but I am feeling quite peckish. Why don't we organise some lunch? Cam and Elizabeth are still sleeping and I don't want to wake them up to get them into their car seats. We can have lunch and wait for them to wake up before we close up and leave".

"That's fine with me. What do you feel like for lunch?"

Andrew grinned wickedly.

"The biggest burger I can find! And fries and deep fried onions. Don't look at me like that. I know it's a heart attack on a plate. I'll make us a grilled chicken salad for supper to make up for it"

Ryan laughed.

"That's if you live until supper time after eating that. Okay, burgers it is! Are we going to order in or shall I go and get them myself".

Andrew waved his hand.

"Nah, just order them in. I just want something that nice and meaty. If that means a double patty, then so be it. With cheese. And fries and onions!".

Ryan placed an order for the burgers and they were delivered a short while later by the same delivery guy as earlier. This time, Andrew handed over his credit card and while waiting for the charge to be processed, he heard one of the twins start crying. Glancing into the saloon, he saw Ryan bend over the baby chairs and soothe Elizabeth by giving her his little finger to suck. Her plaintive wail had woken Cameton up as well. She stopped crying and gazed at her dad, her little hand gripping his finger.

Andrew stepped back into the saloon as the delivery guy drove off and placed the bags on the galley counter.

"I think I'll get formula made for them, then we can eat while they have their feed".

He heated up water and poured it into the bottles, adding cold water until it was the correct temperature, then added the formu
la, shook it all up and handed one bottle to Ryan who gave it to Elizabeth, while Andrew gave the bottle he held to Cameron. Then they sat next to the infants and ate their own lunch, closed up the yacht, set the alarm and drove home to Bloubergstrand where a surprise awaited them.

They were alone for the weekend!

Donna and Craig had gone away with their friends and would only be back on Monday morning.
So the weekend was spent quietly, just Andrew and Ryan, the twins and Rascal. They lay in bed till mid morning, with Cameron and Elizabeth nestled between them, talking, watching TV, drinking coffee, even having breakfast in bed on the Sunday. Sleeping late was out of the question as the babies had them up shortly after 6am every morning. But neither Andrew or Ryan minded the early mornings. The time spent with the twins each morning were special to both Andrew and Ryan. When the whole family, including Rascal, could just be together. Andrew would always treasure the moments waking up after dozing off,
with the feel of soft baby breath on his face as he and Elizabeth lay face to face. Or Ryan opening his eyes and seeing them gazing back at him from the innocent face of his son, one finger gripped in a tiny hand as if never going to let go.

They took walks along the beachfront, the babies strapped to their chests or in the stroller and took them to paddle happily in the pool, both of them emitting squeals as the water splashed in their faces. Or just let them play on a blanket covered rug in the lounge while they sat with one eye on the babies and the other on the TV. And little Rascal was never far away, keeping a watchful, faithful eye over the twins.

Donna and Craig arrived back on Monday, while they were having a late breakfast of cereal and toast. They bounced up the stairs into the lounge looking tanned, happy and refreshed having gone to the casino and spa in Caledon, close to Hermanus. They had both had some spa treatments and they glowed with youthful vitality. Even better, Craig had won handsomely at the blackjack table and the winnings were going to be put aside for the wedding to relieve David and Janice of some of the burden.

The four young people sat on the couches chatting while the twins lay on the rug, watching and reaching out to touch the twirling mobiles hanging over them. Ryan had the laptop open and was studying the weather forecasts for the next two days. Andrew was gazing at the twins, and he suddenly nudged Ryan in the ribs, saying softly and indicating toward the rug,

"Look, look!".

Ryan glanced up from the screen to see what Andrew was so excited about. The babies were on their backs, but Cameron was trying his hardest to roll over. He was rocking back and forth and he eventually managed to roll onto his side, his arm trapped awkwardly under him. He lay like that for a short while, as if thinking through the problem, then seemingly with no effort at all, rolled onto his stomach. He raised his head and looked up at Andrew with big eyes and a surprised expression on his face.

Andrew dropped to his knees on the rug next to the infant and kissed the top of his head.

"Such a clever little boy, aren't you, my baby. Rolling over all on your own. We are going to have to be extra careful now when we put you on the bed so you don't roll off, you little rascal", at which Rascal's ears twitched and he lifted his head, tail wagging behind him. "No, not you mister. I'm talking to Cameron", Andrew admonished. Ryan grinned from ear to ear.

"That's amazing. Figured it all out by himself.".

Andrew put a couple of toys around Cameron for him to play with and sat back on the couch, gazing at their son proudly.

"He's a little early to be hitting that mark. The experts say babies should only start rolling over by themselves from five months. He's just short of four and a half. But then again, he's been consistently hitting developmental marks slightly early from day one. And he's strong for his age. He was lifting his head early too. Pretty soon we're going to have to baby-proof this place"

"Not only the house", added Ryan. "The yacht as well. Safety gates at the stairs, mesh on the railings. I know we can't com-pletely prevent them from getting hurt, but I can tell you now, it will break my heart when it does happen. And I know I speak for Drew as well. These two may be small, but God, they hold huge parts of our hearts. I'll never forget how we felt when Cam was circumcised. Never! It was awful".

Andrew nodded.

"That will never happen again in my lifetime. I cringe when I think that we put him through that. For what? Convention!" He looked at Donna and Craig. "If you two ever have a son, take my advice and do not have him circumcised. It's not worth the pain and trauma both he and you will have to go through."

Craig grinned at Andrew.

"That's still a couple of years away right now. We want to be married for two, even three years, before we think of babies. We'll just spoil these two in the meantime".

"Well don't spoil them too much. We will be doing enough of that ourselves, I dare say. Now more pressing matters. How do we look weather wise for tomorrow and Wednesday, Ry?"

Ryan grunted.

"Well good and bad news, I think. Tomorrow night is great. Clear skies and very little wind. So the fireworks should be great. Then on New Years Day, getting up to Yzer will be fine. Southeasterly wind behind us all the way. Coming back is going to be a bitch though. We will probably have to use the engines all the way back. The same wind that helped us going, will be coming at us right in the teeth on the way back. I estimate not more than five hours out, maybe six or seven coming back. I think we must set sail at 07h00 just to be on the safe side for our lunch reservation. Just depends on the wind. We will be back quite late though. I can't see us leaving Yzer any time before 15h00, probably later. Six hours back, at least will put us in the marina at 21h00 at the earliest".

"Is there somewhere safe that we can shelter for the night. Spend a second night on board, so we don't arrive back so late. We could just stay in Yserfontein or sail up to Saldanha Bay, say overnight and sail back on Thursday. Although that would mean further on the engines to come back" queried Andrew.

"We could shelter in Grotto Bay on the way back. About two hours from Yzerfontein coming back down the coast. Do we have enough supplies for and extra night on board?"

Andrew nodded.

"Yeah, plenty. There are enough dry stores for two weeks at sea if we have to. I've mainly just ordered in fresh produce for this trip".

"Okay. If push comes to shove, I think we anchor in Grotto Bay for the night if we have to, then sail back to the marina on Thursday morning."

Donna cleared her throat and said,

"Uh guys, can I throw a spanner in the works? Can we add two more for the trip? We were telling our friends, Clinton and Karen about 'Belle Catherine' and I told them I would find out if they could join us. He's done some freshwater sailing on the Vaal, so he's really keen to try sailing at sea".

Andrew glanced at Ryan, who nodded.

"Yeah, no problem. The starboard forward cabin is vacant, so they can go in there. Food is not a problem. We will just have to change our reservation at the restaurant at Yzer".

Donna jumped up and hugged Andrew and Ryan.

"Thanks guys, you're the best. Clint and Karen are going to be best man and bridesmaid at the wedding. Craig and I have been friends with them since high school days. I'll call them immediately and let them know. What time do you want them to arrive at the yacht?"
"I would say around 16h00, Donna. I want to get safely anchored before it gets dark and find a good spot before they all get taken. There are a limited number of mooring bouys in the area where we want to be," replied Ryan.

"Okay, cool. I'll phone them now and make the arrangements. Thanks again" and she hurried to the bedroom to make the call.

After a light salad lunch, Donna and Craig went to lie at the pool, while Andrew and Ryan got bags packed with everything they would need for the twins for two nights on board the yacht. They packed almost nothing for themselves as they already had clothing in the master cabin cupboards on board.

Mid afternoon, Andrew's laptop dinged, indicating a message had been received. On opening the message, he saw it was from his food supplier advising that the order would be delivered between 11h00 and 13h00 the following day, which meant there was no rush to get to the marina early, as everything on board 'Belle Catherine' was ready. He would just have to check the port forward cabin that Clinton and Karen were going to be occupying. He also called Yvonne , but getting no reply left a message that they were on the yacht and that she need only come back to work on Monday.

Copyright © 2020 Andre Delport; All Rights Reserved.
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32 minutes ago, Canuk said:

It was here but for a fleeting moment...and then it was gone!

Hopefully back soon!😃

Once again my apologies. Published while midway through the editing.

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Great chapter, so the Christmas celebrations went off without any problems, then onto the new year and beyond, 

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I really don´t like to be political, but I am concered. Though I have sadly never visited, friends who have, agree SA is truly a beautifut country. With Ramapholsa and the parliament confiscating land right and left, are you in the least worried you might be next?

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What a wonderful Christmas gathering of family and friends. Now a cruise to bring in the NY, great writing as always.👍

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This Christmas was great🎄👨‍👨‍👦‍👦 . First time for the twins. Lovely with two baby’s👍🏻

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