Jump to content
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Never walk alone - 18. Chapter 18

The young family, including Rascal arrived at the dockside at 10h00 on New Years eve. It was quite hot, with almost no wind blowing, although it was expected to pick up later in the day and become fresh. Ryan went on board and opened up the doors, then he and Andrew moved the twins and Rascal down to the master cabin.

The babies were almost asleep after the drive, so they put them on the bed surrounded by cushions and pillows. They opened all the hatches and portholes and turned on the fans to get airflow through the cabin and the rest of the boat. Leaving the twins in Rascal's care, they quickly unloaded the SUV and Ryan drove it to the parking area where it would be secure until they arrived back. Donna and Craig had Andrew's SUV and they would be picking up Clinton and Karen.

Although it was only family and friends who were coming aboard, Andrew was adamant that the yacht be presented as though she was on charter to paying guests. So the bar was unpacked and the bottles placed in their recesses so they wouldn't clink or fall over. The ice maker was turned on and the drinks cooler under the cockpit seating was stocked with beers, soft drinks and bottled water. The wine cooler was turned on to cool, and the white wines, which had been in one of the refrigerators, as they ran all the time, were packed into the cooler. They placed all the cushions on the aft cockpit seating and put a cloth on the
table and counter area in the cockpit and saloon. He had just checked Clinton and Karen's cabin when his supplies arrived. He checked the order and signed for it before Ryan helped him pack it all in its designated place.

The twins woke up just after 13h00 and Ryan carried them up into the saloon and put them into their crib with some toys to keep them occupied while he made bottles of formula for them and Andrew made sandwiches for himself and Ryan. They
fed the twins while eating their own sandwiches at the same time, enjoying the cool breeze blowing through the saloon. They cuddled the twins after lunch, each of then getting time with both infants, and when they inevitably closed their eyes, they put them into the crib in the saloon to snooze.

Ryan checked the ice maker, and seeing it was almost full, put some ice into a large ice bucket that contained a bottle of sparkling wine that Andrew wanted to use for arrival champagne cocktails. Ten champagne flutes stood on the counter in the cockpit, each one containing a thin slice of orange, a very boozy brandied cherry, a half tot of brandy and a sugar cube over which some Angostura bitters had been sprinkled. They just had to be topped up with sparkling wine.

Everyone had said they would arrive at 16h00, so itwas just a case of hurry up and wait. The party platters that Andrew had ordered arrived at 15h00 and it was shortly after that that the three motor vehicles pulled up with the rest of the party. New Year was underway!.

The cars disgorged their human contents, everyone happy and smiling. They all milled around collecting luggage, then headed for the yacht. The tide was quite high, so they would be boarding from the stern scoops, which were almost level with the dock. Janice was the first to board, Ryan helping her as she stepped onto the scoop stairs and kissing her cheek as she came aboard. David followed gripping Ryan's hand both for support and in greeting. They both stepped into the aft cockpit to greet Andrew. The first thing Janice asked was,

"Where are my babies?"Andrew grinned at her.

"Sleeping, I'm afraid. They're in the saloon". She hurried into the yacht to see the twins, David on her heels. Paul and Marie boarded next, after Paul had passed Jonathan to Ryan. They hugged Ryan, Marie giving him a smacking kiss on the cheek.

"It's so good to see you. We seem to have not seen one another in ages although it's only been a week. The more I see you the more I am convinced that fatherhood suits you. You look so happy!"

"Thanks Marie, always good to see you. and I wouldn't change fatherhood for anything. Challenges and all". She patted his arm as she stepped toward Andrew.

"Good for you. Those babies don't know how lucky they are having you and Drew for parents."

Next to board was a young woman who Ryan surmised was Karen. She was pretty, wth a slightly fuller figure, a round face, light brown hair cut in a bob style, with green eyes and a ready smile that would light up the darkest room. She was, Ryan thought, vivacious, her personality evident for all to see.
He assisted her as she stepped hesitantly on board, her hand gripping his tightly. He steadied her as she found her footing and she beamed up at him.

"Hi, I'm Karen. Thank you for inviting us to join you". He smiled down at her.

"Hi Karen, I'm Ryan, nice to have you on board. Have you been sailing before?" She shook her head.

"No, never. This is a first for me. I'm so excited, but nervous at the same time".

"No need to be nervous. You're quite safe with us. If you feel queasy, let us know. We have some medication on board that will help". He turned to the guy now standing behind her. "And you must be Clinton. Welcome aboard." Clinton stepped around Karen and shook Ryan's hand.

"Please call me Clint. I'm only Clinton when I'm in trouble with my mom or Karen", he said, grinning down at Karen, who punched his arm.
Ryan studied the man in front of him. He was strikingly good looking. Tall, broad - shouldered, with narrow hips and long legsand it was obvious he was fit and looked after himself, probably visiting the gym at least four times a week. His face was hawkish, sharp, with high cheekbones and what Ryan considered to be a Roman nose. His eyes were grey, his mouth also always seeming to be smiling. His hair was dark brown, so dark it could almost be black, but definitely brown with a dark five-o-clock shadow on his cheeks and jaw. He was wearing knee length shorts, a t-shirt that hugged his torso, showing off his pecs
and abdominal muscles, and fip flops. Dark chest hair curled out above the collar of his t-shirt and his long arms and legs were covered with dark hair. In Ryan's opinion, Clint was most definitely an alpha male.

"Please make yourselves at home", indicating with his hand toward Andrew and the others in the cockpit

After helping Donna and Craig aboard, they all gathered in the cockpit, where Andrew was pouring the sparkling wine into the glasses. Rascal was sniffing the new guests, his tail wagging and hoping someone will pick him up. When they all had a glass, Andrew raised his glass and said,

"Welcome family and friends, old and new. Here's to a good time being had by all tonight".

They all took sips of their cocktails as Andrew added,

"Most of you know your way around the boat and all the safety stuff. So I will run through all that with Clint and Karen when I show them around.
Mom and dad, you are in your usual cabin, port aft. Paul, Marie and Jonathan are port midships. We have made up an extra bed for Jonathan in the cabin with you. Donna and Craig, you are port forward and Clint and Karen are starboard forward. If you can stay here with me while the rest go to their cabins."

As the others moved down into the port hull, Andrew said,

"Okay, at the moment we are in the aft cockpit and helm area. Most of our socialising will be here. Under the seat behind the helm chairs is a cooler with beers, soft drinks and water. Help yourself. It will be topped up each day. In the locker next to the cooler are safety harnesses. These are to be worn if we are moving and you want to go onto the side decks or bow, particularly when we are at sea. You attach the harness to the rail on the saloon roof. You can remove them once you are on the bows, although if you want to sit in the dolphin seats right up on the point of each bow, I would suggest you wear the harnesses as well and clip yourself onto the railing. The harnesses have a built in life preserver that will inflate as soon as you hit the water, but we don't intend to allow that to happen.
There is ice in the ice maker to the left of the saloon door. Follow me into the saloon.
All self explanatory I think. The desk ahead of the galley is the interior navigation station. The yacht can be controlled from there if the weather is really bad. We have never used it to date. The galley is to port.
Karen, I gather it's your first time on a yacht. Port is left facing the bow. Port, four letters. Left, four letters. An easy way to remember it.
We have three double cabins in the port hull. Your cabin is in the starboard hull with the master cabin".

He led them down the stairs and turned left, opening the cabin door.

"On the left is your private bathroom. It has a shower and basin with hot and cold running water. And a loo. Clint, a word of advice. If we are at sea and you need to take a leak, sit down to do it. It will prevent accidents if the boat suddenly lurches. Ignore my words and you will clean up the mess. Even our paying charter guests don't get away with that one. Ahead of you is your bed. The room has its own TV, individually controlled air con, sound system and a fan. The remote controls are all on the shelf above the bed.
The ceiling hatches can be opened as they are now. We can keep them open if the sea is calm, but obviously in bad weather and if it rains we close them. The portholes are open now as well. We usually close them at night and when we are sea. There are non slip loafers in the locker at the foot of the bed. Your flipflops are fine Clint, but we don't want anyone to wear any other sneakers or shoes that might leave marks on the decks. Getting black scuff marks off the deck is a pain in the butt. So please wear the loafers. You are quite welcome to not wear shoes at all. We are on a boat and we want you to be at ease. You will probably see Ryan and I will be barefoot most of the time. We would normally wear deck shoes if we have charter guests on board, but as we are family and friends on this trip, things are a bit more relaxed. One thing I forgot. In your bathroom is a small window which is under the main deck between the hulls. If for some unlikely reason we capsize, that is an escape hatch. Also, in the event of a fire or for some reason you cannot get up into the saloon, the escape hatch is there for you to make use of. Any questions?"

They both shook their heads and Clint replied, "No, I think you covered it all. You guys have a great boat here. She's beautiful. Certainly the most well appointed yacht I have sailed on. In fact, compared to this, the others were tubs quite honestly!"

"Thanks Clint, we are very proud of what we have on 'Belle'. The guests love her too.".

"Do you think I might spend some time with Ryan and see how she handles?".

"Ryan would love it. He loves this boat even more than I do, I think. He loves showing her off. Especially when we are running with the wind as we will tomorrow. When we fly the spinnaker, well to me, that is what sailing is all about. I'll leave you guys to unpack and get settled. Come up whenever you are ready. Or do you want to be on deck when we set sail, which should be any minute now. Ryan said he wanted to get away by 16h00".

Clint looked at Karen.

"We'll come up until we have dropped anchor and the come and unpack", Karen replied.

"Okay, let's go then. Ryan will be needing a hand with the shore lines".

Andrew took them up to the aft cockpit, where Ryan was just preparing to start the engines. He showed Karen where to make herself comfortable, noticing that Craig was already standing in the bows, said to Clint,

"Stay here with Ryan. You can learn the ropes from him. Ry, I'll get the mooring lines"

He started toward the port scoop to step on to the dock when he felt the engine under his feet rumble into life and the water bubbled under the port scoop. He stepped onto the dock and hurried to the bow line and tossed if to Craig, who quickly rolled it and hung it up on its hook. Andrew watched as Ryan pointed the bow into the channel using the bow thruster, and moved back to the stern line where Craig was now waiting for him to toss it to him.

"Ry, bring her one metre aft, slowly" shouted Andrew, so that the stern line would slacken.

The yacht moved ever so slowly towards the dock, the mooring line dipping toward the water. Andrew quickly untied the line and tossed it to Craig, before stepping onto the scoop the reboard the yacht. The rearward momentum was just enough that he could step on board easily. Ryan pushed the throttle forward and the momentum was halted about half a metre from the dock and they moved away into the channel toward th e bascule bridge. A small crowd of observers had gathered to watch their departure, and there was a smattering of applause as they cleared the dock. Clint's face was animated as he gazed at what was happening in front of , and around him. He looked at Andrew, standing on Ryan's far side.

"You guys are very slick. That sailaway was well done. I cannot believe all the gear you have. Twin diesel engines, bow thrusters, electric winches. This thing practically sails itself."

Ryan grinned at him.

"Well, theoretically, using just the engines, she could sail herself. Program your course into the GPS and course plotter, engage the autopilot, and assuming it behaves itself, you could sail from point A to point B without touching the helm. But where is the fun in that? When we are on passage, we often do that, even with the sails up. And when standing watch. But I enjoy the actual feel of the helm in my hand. You can feel her through the helm. That for me is the fun part"

Ryan got on the radio to contact Bridge Control, to request permission to exit the marina via the bascule bridge canal and they had to wait a few minutes for the bridge to clear before it could swing open to allow them to pass. Everyone was now out on deck, either in the cockpit or on the bow deck enjoying their departure. The crowds already beginning to gather for the evenings festivities and the fireworks display, and were waiting to cross the bridge stood on either side of the canal as they motored towards the harbour basin, some of them waving. Those on deck waved back at them. Once past the bridge, Ryan made
a wide turn to starboard and then headed toward the harbour mouth. Ryan got on the radio again, this time to Cape Town Port Control requesting permission to exit the harbour. Permission was granted and he gunned the engine as he turned to port with the harbour mouth and the bay now directly ahead of the bows. Approaching the mouth itself Ryan turned to Andrew.

"Babe, can you take over here. Keep her on this course till I get back. Clint, you wanna come with me"

Andrew took Ryan's place at the helm and he and Clint moved forward to the bows.

"I want to raise the spinnaker. You can help me with it".

Ryan opened the sail locker and showed Clint how to attach the lines the the top of the sail, Then they hauled the sail out of its locker onto the deck. It looked like a sausage in its sail cover. They then attached the lower lines and together they hauled the sail up, pulling it out of its cover and it billowed open with a crack as it filled with wind. They distinctly felt 'Belle Catherine' surge forward as she responded to the wind filling the huge blue and white sail that billowed out over the port bow. Ryan and
Clint moved back to the helm and relieved Andrew, who had cut the engine as soon as the sail was up. Ryan indicated that Clint must take the helm.

"Just keep her on this heading until we reach the buoys ahead of us to port. That is the channel we must use to clear the mouth. When I say turn, turn her hard to port between the bouys. She reponds quite quickly, especially when the spinnaker is flying. So be prepared to straighten her out once we are in the channel. Then it's just straight out until we clear the point. Our mooring spot it quite close to the point. We willbe able to see the Sea Point beachfront, the Waterfront and the Milnerton to Bloubergstrand beachfront from there".

A few minutes later, Clint had made the port turn into the channel and with the wind now more directly behind them, they sailed briskly through the cold Table Bay water towards the spot Ryan had chosen for them to moor for the evening.

By 17h30, they were on the mooring bouy, their mast lights indicating they were at anchor and hove to and they started preparing for the arrival of the New Year.

There was a lot of small craft traffic in the vicinity, most likely all with the same idea as them, so Ryan wanted someone to be on watch until things settled down, probably when it got dark. So he stayed at the helm, keeping an eye on the radar and the sea around them. He had programmed a proximity alert into the radar to give a warning should a vessel be on a collision course with them, but not all the craft had AIS or radar, so eyes were the best tools in the end. Everyone else scattered through the yacht. Janice and Andrew had taken the twins to the master cabin to bath them. David was in his cabin having a nap and the
Mason's were in their cabin, also giving Jonathan a bath and freshening up themselves. Donna, Craig, Clint and Karen were sitting on the deck on the bows, drinking beer and chatting. Ryan sat with on foot on the instrument console ledge, at ease in the comfortable helm seat with Rascal beside him.

The proximity alert beeped and he watched as a large power yacht approached them and judged they would pass down thd port side. He also realised that the yacht was moving way too fast for its position and hurried to the staircases into the hulls and yelled,

"Hold on guys, we are going to get rocked. Some idiot coming past at speed". He went back out on deck and said the same to the group on the bows, who had noticed the fast approaching vessel and were watching it. Andrew came to stand with Ryan as the vessel swept past with a very rowdy group of passengers on board. They watched as the wake turbulence rolled towards them and braced themselves as 'Belle Catherine' took the wake at a slight angle, causing her to pitch and roll. Andrew cursed under his breath as they heard the crash of breaking glass in the saloon and he hurried to investigate. On the galley floor lay a shattered glass that had slid off the counter. He quickly cleaned it up and went back to Ryan who was seething. "Fucking idiots have no place being on a bridge" glaring at the fast receding yacht. Andrew jumped as the radio crackled into life .

"Motor Yacht Ranger 2, Motor Yacht Ranger 2, come in please". There was no reply. After trying to contact the yacht again and getting no reply, the voice on the radio came again.

"Sailing Vessel Belle Catherine, do you read". Ryan reached for the microphone.

"SV Belle Catherine, standing by".

"SV Belle Catherine", this is Cape Town Port Control. What is your situation?"

"Port Control. We are fine. No damage except for a broken glass. Ranger passed way too fast and way too close."

"SV Belle Catherine, we observed their passage from our control tower. They have been cited and action will be taken on their return to port".

"Port Control, I hope they get the book thrown at them. Thank you for your concern. 'Belle Catherine' out!"

With the excitement over, they settled down again and went about getting ready for the evening. Andrew went to shower and change and then relieved Ryan at the helm, bringing the twins with him, while he went to get ready. Everyone else was in their cabins. The aft cockpit was quite sheltered as 'Belle Catherine' was floating with her bows into the wind, which meant that the saloon superstructure screened the seating area from the wind. Cameron and Elizabeth were in their baby chairs, tucked into a corner of the seating with Rascal next to them. They each had a mobile hanging in front of them and were quite content having already been fed. It was cooler out on the bay than it was on land, so Andrew had tucked light blankets around them, but their arms were free. He sat next to them, talking to them and playing with them, marvelling at the two tiny people who had come into their lives and seeing his and Ryan's eyes gazing back at him from their beautiful faces. His heart swelled with love and thankfulness, and he leaned over and kissed them both softly on the forehead, Elizabeth managing to grab a little fistful of hair that he had to gently release himself from. He looked up to find Clint and Karen standing in the saloon doorway, smiling at them. Karen stepped forward and sat on the other side of the baby chairs, giving Cameron her finger to hold.

"They're beautiful. How old are they?"

Andrew gazed lovingly at his two angels.

"Just short of four and a half months. They were born on the 16th of August"

Clint sat down next to Karen.

"If you don't mind me asking, are they adopted?

Andrew shook his head.

"No. They are our children. Originally we were going to have one baby two years apart. But on advice from a doctor friend, we used a procedure called heteropaternal fecundation, where you use a surrogate and her eggs were fertilised with sperm from both Ryan and myself. They were then implanted into her. There was always the possibility that only one egg would germinate, and it took a couple of tries before it worked, but we were lucky and both eggs became foetuses. Nine months later, these two were born. Cameron is Ryan's son and Elizabeth, my daughter. But most importantly, they are our children".

Clint's eyes were wide.

"Wow, cool. What about their mother?"

"Beth and her partner, Nicola, who is the doctor who originally told us about the procedure, are very good friends and we see them fairly often. We drew up a contract with Beth whereby she relinquishes all claim to the babies at birth, but would provide us with breastmilk until the end of the year, tonight. We have been weaning them off breastmilk for a while now and they are now almost exclusively on formula.
We want them to have contact with their mother and Beth knows she is welcome to see them at any time. She just has to advise us that she is coming to see them".

Clint nodded.

"Donna has always maintained that Ryan was lucky to be married to you. I realise now she is right. You're caring and thoughtful and you obviously love him and the babies".

"I love Ryan and these two to death. They are my world and my family.Without them, I would have nothing. All this", indicating the yacht, " the hotel, the house, the money, would mean absolutely nothing without them". Andrew looked up as Ryan kissed the top of his head.

"And we would have nothing without you. I heard what you said. I love you and thank you"

Andrew smiled up at him.

"I love you too". He stood up. "Okay enough heavy talk. We have a party to get going. Babe, will you watch our offspring. I need to get into the galley.

Ryan nodded.

"Sure, no probs babe. Looks like they'll be asleep soon anyway"

Karen stood up with Clint following and asked

"Can we help with anything?"

Andrew smiled at her.

"Thanks guys. I'm sure I can find something for you to do. The galley is a bit small for all of us, so Karen, you come with me. Clint, the bar is over on the counter next to the door. Can I ask you to get everyone drinks as they come upstairs. After that everyone can just help themselves. White wine and grape juice are in the cooler under the counter and I'll give you a couple of bottles of red wine for those who want red. All the glasses are in the cupboards above the counter".

Andrew turned on the sound system and slid a CD into it. Moments later, music filtered from the speakers in the saloon and cockpit ceilings. He and Karen got busy in the galley. Karen moved the cold platters to the saloon table, then added plates and serviettes, while Andrew placed a warming tray on the galley counter top and plugged it in for the hot items. He had chosen a variety of platters including sushi, a cold meat and cheese platter and a platter with a selection of fresh salad ingredients, pickles and relishes. The hot platters consisted of sticky ribs and chicken drumsticks and a platter with pastry items that included samoosas, spring rolls, sausage rolls, mini chicken pies and crumbed prawns. He took two pecan nut tarts out of the freezer to thaw for dessert and there was ice cream in the freezer.

Everyone slowly started appearing from their cabins with Paul and Marie arriving last, having put Jonathan down to sleep. When Andrew saw them step into the saloon, he asked,

"Is Jonathan okay in his bed?"

Paul grinned at him.

"Yeah, it's great. Not that small either. Marie was with him for a while and she was quite comfortable."

"Well that's good to know. It's the first time we have used it as a bed. I had forgotten all about it until Ryan reminded me."

The evening had flown and it was approaching 8pm. The twins had fallen asleep and were now in the crib in the master cabin with Rascal on the bed to keep watch. Both sets of parents had baby monitors close at hand. The sun was just starting to sink below the horizon and it wouldn't be fully dark for another hour at least. They all sat in the aft cockpit, sipping at their drinks, Andrew with a cooler and Ryan had a beer. It was one of two alcoholic drinks they would have over the evening, the second being a glass of sparkling wine at midnight. They made a point of consuming very little liquor when they were at sea, and although they were at anchor, they still had to sail back to the marina after midnight.

With the bows pointed into the wind, they were floating side on to the coast, so they had an excellent view of the city and Table Mountain, the Waterfront precinct, and the beachfront all the way to Sea Point and Bloubergstrand. They relaxed and enjoyed the view and fresh air, watching the lights of the city glowing against the dark, brooding bulk of Table Mountain, the lights of the cable cars still moving slowly up and down the cableway. Every now and then, the sound of throbbing music wafted over the water from the Waterfront, where thousands had gathered for the evenings festivities and search lights swept the sky from the dockside of the Waterfront. Ryan had rotated the TV to face the aft seating area and turned it on, muting the sound, so that they could watch the countdown around the world as midnight arrived in each city. New Zealand and Australia were already well into the New Year and the celebrations in Christchurch and Sydney were being rerun, along with the other cities in the east as midnight arrived. The current focus was on Dubai.

With darkness now descending rapidly, Ryan turned on all their exterior lights including the underwater lights, that left them seemingly floating on an emerald green pool. Andrew had dimmed the lights in the saloon and put on some dance music and Donna, Craig, Clint and Karen were having a good time moving to the music. When the stepped out for a breather, Clint did a double take, walking over to the rail to look at the green water around them.

"Wow, that is sooo cool. Are we doing that?"

Ryan joined him at the rail.

"Yup, we have underwater lights fitted in the hull. Depending on the depth of the water beneath us, we get different colour effects. But usually some shade of green".

Clint shook his head.

"This yacht is amazing. Can I ask what it cost you? Or is that rude?"

Ryan grinned at him.

"No I don't mind. As you see her, fifteen million. Andrew had her built. He gave me half before we were married".

"I gave him half of everything before we were married", corrected Andrew as he joined them, sliding an arm around Ryan's waist and leaning against him..

"Donna has told me you guys are quite wealthy. But she never told me how that came about. Did you sell a tech company or something like Mark Shuttleworth did?.

Andrew shook his head.

"Unfortunately, nothing like that I'm afraid. It was an inheritance from my parents. They were killed in a car crash a couple of years ago and after everything in the estate had been liquidated and my dad's company sold, I was left with over a billion rand". Clint's eyes widened at the figure. "Ryan came home from the Mediterranean to give me support and we realised we were soul mates and couldn't live without one another. So we got married. On Friday, it will be two years. As he is the other half of my life, I felt it was only right that he have half of everything else as well. And the money came with it. To be fair, we don't think of it as his and mine. It is very much ours and unless we do something really drastic, most of it will go to the twins eventually. Even after buying Blue Bay, the house and 'Belle', we've hardly put a dent in it. Especially as both the lodge and the charters are doing well and showing profits".

Clint stared at the green pool around them, then turned his head to look at Andrew. " I'm sorry to hear about your parents. That must have been tough. I don't know how I would handle losing my mom and dadnow".

"I was devastated. Without him, I would probably have just given up. Just walked in front of a truck or bus one day. But Ryan was there, pulling me through it. He saw me at my worst. This is the first Christmas since they died that I haven't gone to pieces at some stage. I still feel their loss, but it isn't as raw anymore. And that's because I have him and the twins now. I lost my family, but I have my own family now. And every reason to live.".

Clint looked at them and shook his head. "I love Karen so much, it hurts. But you guys have something else completely. It's far more than love"

"Andrew and I met at university", added Ryan "We were just friends, then flatmates. Only after a while came love and we became lovers. Now husbands, fathers and soul mates. And that is the difference. To truly love someone is normally enough for a marriage to flourish. But knowing you have your soul mate, puts it on another level completely. Unfortunately, very few people find their true soul mates. Drew and I are very, very lucky".

Clint nodded, looking thoughtful. "Yeah, that you are"

Just then Donna called them in. "We are all hungry, we're gonna have something to eat. Quit yakking and join us".

They went in and everyone grabbed a plate to fill with food and went to sit around the cockpit dining table to eat. Every now and then, a skyrocket would arc up into the sky and explode in a shower of stars, the thump, thump of the bass in the music from the shore reverberating through the air. As midnight neared, the tempo and volume of the music coming from shore seemed to increase in intensity.

Andrew went to the saloon to prepare champagne flutes for the sparkling wine at midnight. But first he quickly stepped into the master cabin to check on the twins, who were soundly asleep. He crossed the saloon to the other hull and checked on Jonathan who seemed perfectly as ease on his bed. Back in the saloon, he placed the glasses on a tray and carried them out to the aft table. A few minutes before midnight, he poured sparkling wine into the glasses and each one held a glass as they stood up and moved onto the deck and to the rail. They could hear the countdown from the shore.

"Five -four -three-two-one".

A roar seemed to rise from shore as the crowd celebrated and the first fireworks rose into the black sky.
All the ships in the harbour and at anchor in the bay, blasted their horns, their deep notes reverberating in the night air. The group on the yacht joined the shouted "Happy New Year" then sang 'Auld Lang Syne' before kissing their partners and then wishing the rest of the group. They toasted the new year with sparkling wine and watched the sky erupt with fireworks, from distant Bloubergstrand all the way to past Sea Point, as skyrockets launched into the air to explode in a myriad of colours around them. The display from the Waterfront continued or almost five minutes before everything was quite again, apart from the slap of water against the hull, the faint smell of gunpowdee, and the distant drone of thousands of voices celebrating the arrival of a new year.

It wasn't long after midnight that Ryan began preparations to return to the marina. He started engines and gently moved 'Belle Catherine' towards the mooring buoy, then hurried forward to release the line from the bouy and retrieve it on board. Then he turned the yacht in the direction of the buoys indicating the channel back to the harbour mouth. When he was in the channel, he contacted Port Control to request permission to enter the harbour, which was immediately given with an added 'Happy New Year'.

They passed through the harbour mouth and turned toward the marina entrance, requesting permission to enter the marina and for the bridge to be opened. It took a while before they were given the all clear to proceed due to the amount of foot traffic over the bridge, but they eventually cruised down the canal into the marina, people shouting greetings and good wishes as the sailed past. By 01h00, they were tied up to the dock once more. The saloon and cockpit had been tidied up on the trip back and the leftover food packed away and as the festivities at the Waterfront started to wind down, those on the yacht started heading for their beds as well.

Ryan wanted to cast off at 07h00 to give sufficient time for them to reach Yzerfontein for lunch. If they arrived early, that would be fine. But arriving late was not an option.
Andrew sent Ryan off to bed so that he could get some good sleep before rising to get them underway.
The rest of them could sleep a little later, if they wanted to. Andrew would be up at 07h00 to assist Ryan with the departure. Clint indicated he would join them as well. Andrew was the last to go to bed. He checked the decks and the mooring lines, then turned off all the unnecessary lights, secured the security gate and partially closed the saloon door before setting the intruder alert, turning off the saloon lights and going down to the master cabin. He checked on the twins, undressed and brushed his teeth, then got into bed next to Ryan who had already fallen asleep, trying not to disturb him. He turned off the bedside light a
nd moved to snuggle against Ryan, who turned on his side in his sleep so Andrew could spoon with him. Andrew closed his eyes, dimly aware of the soft slap of water on the hull and the hum of the fan in the cabin. He was asleep almost immediately.


It seemed like only minutes later, he felt Ryan get out of bed and heard the shower running. He didn't hear Ryan come back, get dressed and go up on deck to get them underway. The rumble of an engine starting woke him and he peered at the bedside clock. It was 07h00 exactly.

"Shit", he muttered, "I should have been up already. And why have the twins not woken up yet".
He flew out of bed and checked the twins, who were surprisingly, still sleeping. He pulled on a pair of track pants and a t-shirt, brushed his teeth and raced up to the saloon. The heavenly aroma of freshly brewed coffee greeted him, but he moved out onto the aft deck to find Clint at the helm, while Ryan was on the dock releasing the mooring lines. The bow line was already on board and he watched as Clint used the bow thruster to turn the bow away from the dock. He had obviously been observing Ryan very carefully the day before. Then he put the engine astern and slowly moved them towards dock. Andrew hurried to the stern line and grabbed it as Ryan tossed it to him, before jumping back on board, not quite as easily as Andrew has done the day before. They started moving ahead as Clint advanced the throttle heading to the bascule bridge canal. Ryan patted hin on the shoulder.

"Well done. You're a quick study".

"For a big yacht, she's quite responsive under power. I would love to feel how she handles under sail."

"We'll see what we can do on the way shall we". Ryan turned to Andrew and kissed him. "Morning my love. Sorry I got you out of bed"

"No problem, I had to get up anyhow. Need to get breakfast together". He started as a faint cry was heard and seconds later Rascal came bounding up the stairs.

"Oh God, the twins. They were still sleeping when I left the cabin". He hurried down the stairs to the master cabin where both babies were upset that neither of their dad's was hearing them cry. Andrew bent over the cribs. He picked up Cameron, put him on the bed, then did the same with Elizabeth. He lay down next to them.

"It's okay my angels. Daddy's here now. I'm sorry I wasn't here when you woke up".

The sound of his voice calmed them and they looked at him with eyes still swimming with tears. He leaned over and kissed them both. Just then there was a knock on the cabin door and Janice called out,

"Andrew, can I come in?".

"Yes sure mom. Come on in".

"I heard them crying. I came to see if you needed help".

"Thanks mom. Yes, you can. I need to shower and change and get to the galley to start breakfast. But they need a bottle and probably a nappy change as well. If you can make the bottles, I will jump into the shower then get them changed".

"Yes sure no problem at all. I'll give you some time to shower and then come back".

Janice went to make the bottles in the galley and Andrew dived into the shower. Five minutes later he was drying himself a
nd then quickly got dressed. When he opened the interleading door, Janice was sitting on the made up bed, watching the twins suck on their bottles. Andrew fetched two protectors and slid them under the babies, before starting to remove Cameron's dirty nappy. Janice rose and stood beside him, moving Elizabeth over and side by side they put clean nappies on the twins and got them dressed. Then they carried them up to the saloon and put then into their chairs on the saloon seating, where Andrew could keep an eye on them while Janice went to get dressed for the day ahead and he was busy in the galley. Andrew glanced out the galley windows and noticed that they were already through the harbour mouth and heading out into the bay.

The mouthwatering aroma of grilling bacon had everyone emerging from their cabins and the galley and saloon were soon a hive of activity as they all pitched in to help. Donna and Karen got busy setting the table in the cockpit, while David was filling two jugs with fruit juice, and making more coffee. Craig was setting up the food warmers on the counter in the cockpit and Paul and Marie were making a pile of toast. Ryan and Clint were at the helm taking care of the sailing aspect.
Andrew took the bacon out of the oven and into a serving dish, handing it to Craig to put on the warmer. Then he got Craig to clean and halve mushrooms while he popped sausages and tomatoes into the oven to grill, then started cracking two dozen eggs to be scrambled.

At the helm, Clint was having a ball, grinning from ear to ear, but Ryan was disappointed to see that the wind was not blowing enough for the spinnaker, so he raised the mainsail and genoa and cut the engines as the sails filled with wind, driving them through the calm waters of Table Bay.

By the time they were approaching the channel between Robben Island and Bloubergstrand, breakfast was ready and apart from Ryan, who stayed at the helm, they were all sitting having breakfast as Blue Bay Lodge slid past on their starboard side.

After breakfast they all chipped in to tidy up and once everything was packed away, the galley clean andthe dishwasher humming, everyone found a place to chill and catch up on lost sleep, while Clint joined Ryan at the helm, after going to shower and dress for lunch. David disappeared into their cabin, Donna, Craig and Karen were tanning on the deck in the bows, Paul and Marie were reclining in the corners of the cockpit seating with Jonathan beside them and Janice and Andrew lay on the saloon seating on either side of the twins.

About an hour after breakfast, Ryan judged that the wind had picked up enough to deploy the spinnaker. He showed Clint how to furl the genoa using the electric winch and leaving him at the helm, moved onto the bows to raise the spinnaker and he was pleased to see that their speed was now almost twelve knots compared to their previous nine. The wind speed continued to increase through the morning and they were eventually cruising at a healthy fourteen knots, just one knot short of 'Belle Catherine's" of rated top speed.

They made good time and Ryan dropped anchor in the small bay off 16 Mile Beach, where the bedouin tent that housed the restaurant was located, just after noon.

Andrew and Ryan had, after discussing it, decided not to beach 'Belle Catherine', but to anchor offshore and take the dinghy to thd beach.
Clint was, once again, hugely impressed with the equipment the yacht was fitted with, as he watched Ryan use the telescoping crane housed in the boom to lift the dinghy off its cradle and launch it into the water.
It was decided to go ashore in two groups. The first group was David and Janice, who would take Cameron and Elizabeth with them, and Paul, Marie and Jonathan. The three baby seats would go as well. Once Ryan had disembarked them onto the beach, they waited while he returned to the yacht to fetch the remainder of the group. Rascal had to stay on the yacht and his forlorn little face was visible through the side windows of the saloon as they headed to the beach.
Ryan ran the dinghy up onto the beach and secured it to a convenient post and they set off across the wide swathe of sand to the restaurant. They waited under the shade of the tent as Andrew and Ryan walkedthrough the restaurant to the reception desk.

The young hostess was caught by surprise to see them, as they had not come from the direction of the carpark as she had expected. Andrew gave her his name and after checking off their reservation she asked,

"If I may ask, how did you get into the restaurant? I didn't see you come in and you would have had to come past me."

Andrew wasn't quite sure if the liked her tone, but smiled at her and explained,

"We came in across the beach. We didn't drive up, we sailed up. That's our yacht anchored offshore", pointing to where 'Belle Catherine' was anchored.

She blushed and replied,

"Oh, I'm so sorry Mr Devlin-Major. That must have sounded rude. Please accept my apologies. It's very rare that we have guests arriving by sea. Normally everyone drives up to us. However, your table is ready , although we only start serving at 1pm. You are aware of that."

Andrew nodded. "Yes, we are aware. I realise we are slightly early, but if we can get something to drink while we wait for lunch service to start, that would be great".

"Yes sure, no problem. Please follow me to your table and I'll get a waiter to take a drinks order"

They followed her to a long wooden table with bench seating on either side. The table was laid with placemats, side plates, cutlery and wine glasses.
They made themselves comfortable and a waiter took a drinks order and waited for lunch to begin. The restaurant had a very specific service order. Starters were served at 1pm, main course at 2pm and dessert and coffee at 3pm.

The restaurant quickly filled as 1pm drew closer and was almost full by the time service commenced with Hake & Yellow tail soup, a range of pates and freshly baked breads. The main course that followed included Snoek grilled over coals, a mussel pot, prawns in garlic butter, grilled line fish and deep fried kingklip gougons with baked potatoes, pumpkin fritters and a range of salads. All in all itwas a seafood feast. Dessert was traditional koeksusters, strips of plaited dough, deep fried and soaked in a lemon spiked syrup.

It was almost 4pm by the time they transferred back to 'Belle Catherine', and it was inevitable that they would anchor in Grotto Bay for the night. It was an easy motor to the anchorage and for dinner Andrew just put out the leftovers from the night before and everyone just helped themselves when and if they were peckish. What was left at the end of the evening, Andrew tossed overboard for the fishes. They were all in their cabins by 22h00 , after a long day of sailing and eating.

The next morning, Ryan pulled up the anchor at 10h00 after a breakfast of cereals, fruit and fruit juice, and crumpets with link sausages, maple syrup and honey. The wind was light, but almost dead ahead, so they were obliged to use the engines all the way back, with Ryan just using one engine at a time, and they tied up to the dock in the marina at 16h00. On the way back, Andrew had got everyone to strip the linen off the beds and the used linen was placed in plastic laundry bags ready for the cleaners to collect the following day from the house.
Darren and Kerry were arriving back the next day and would meet Andrew and Ryan on Saturday to give the yacht a good clean and remake the beds in readiness for the next charter happening on the next weekend which Darren and Kerry would be taking care of.

David and Craig drove the cars from the parking area to the dockside to load up, including the laundry and when everything and everyone was loaded they drove home. Ryan's parents and Paul and Marie went straight to their own homes, while Clint and Karen would drive to the house with Donna and Craig to have a swim. After a quick aside with Ryan, Andrew told them that he and Ryan were going to have an impromptu BBQ and did they want to join them. They all agreed but told Andrew they would stop on the way home and get stuff for the BBQ. Andrew readily agreed and they drove off to the store.

Ryan and Andrew made sure the yacht was locked up, they each grabbed a baby, and after securing them into their car seats, Ryan fetched Rascal, and they too left for home.

They had been home for almost an hour before they heard the tyres of Andrew's SUV crunching in the gravel driveway. The twins had already been bathed and were on the couch with Ryan while Andrew prepared their bottles of formula. The four arriving adults came up the stairs with several bags from the supermarket. Andrew raised his eyebrows in questioning surprise and queried,

"What all have you bought and how many people are we feeding"

Donna grinned at him.

"It's not all food. There's some beer, wine and soft drinks as well. Clint thought you guys had spent enough over the past few days and that it was time we gave something back. We got some steaks and marinated drumsticks, there's garlic bread, some salads and something tasty for Ry for dessert. So nothing has tobe made. Craig and Clint will do the meat. You two can just chill!"

Andrew and Ryan looked at each other and grinned.

"That suits us right down to the ground. Donna, I think you and Craig know where everything is", and he curled up on the couch to snuggle with Ryan and the twins. The girls went into the kitchen to start getting organised and Craig and Clint stepped out onto the patio to get the fire going. Donna and Karen were done quite quickly and joined the guys on the patio, telling Andrew and Ryan to join them as well. They picked up the babies and carried the outside, taking a seat in a sheltered corner on the patio and Donna and Karen arranged drinks for everyone, although it was obvious the Craig and Clint had already downed
a few.

Craig and Clint got the fire going and while waiting for it to burn down, decided to go for a swim. Although it was not dark yet, the pool lights were on and the water looked very inviting. Andrew and Ryan watched with amused interest as the two friends stripped off their shirts and dropped their shorts to reveal both wearing bathing suits, Craig in a red speedo and Clint, a boxer style in blue.

Their hosts studied them appreciatively. The two friends were quite different. Craig was tall, about 1.8m or 6ft, with a trim, swimmers body. He was tanned and his chest and belly were lightly furred with medium brown hair. His legs were long and perfectly muscled, also dusted with hair. He did, however, sport an impressive bulge, and the thought crossed Andrew's mind that Donna was probably a very happy girl.

It was Clint's body, however, that made Andrew and Ryan glance at one another. Having had the time to observe him on the yacht, they knew that he was fit, well built and hairy. But they were not prepared for the full impact of an almost naked Clinton. His impressive 6ft3in was complimented by wide, sloping shoulders, a long torso V-ing down to narrow hips and long legs with muscular, very hairy thighs and well shaped calves. His feet, like his hands, were long and narrow, finely boned with prominent veins.
His arms were long and tautly muscled, with dark hair almost to midway on his upper arms. Blue veins showed under the pale skin of his inner arms and when he bent his arms and his biceps flexed, a thick blue vein was visible running over the muscle. His back was wide with muscles rippling across his shoulders and a deep cleft running down the length of his spine before flattening out in a patch of dark hair in the small of his back and dipping into the beginnings of his butt crack. What puzzled Andrew, though, was what he thought looked like faint lines on Clint's back and the back of his thighs. When he turned, they seemed to vanish, so Andrew put it down to the lighting and shadows on the patio.
His front was just as impressive. His well shaped pecs had a nice hollow between them and deep pink nipples, all covered in a pelt of dark, silky looking body hair that feathered over his collarbone and around the base of his throat. It ran in a dense line down the middle of his six pack to his belly button, then fanned out in a dark inverted V to his pubes which were just visible above the top of this costume. The bulge of his cock was even more impressive than Craig's , the shape of his cockhead clearly visible in the tight confines of his bathing suit. When Andrew and Ryan spoke about it later that evening, they both decided t
hat if ever there was a stud, it had to be Clint.

While they were in the pool, Andrew and Ryan went upstairs to put the twins to bed, as they had fallen asleep. Rascal followed them to the nursery. Ryan glanced at Andrew as he tucked Cameron in.

"Quite the stud, isn't he?"

Andrew nodded, straightening up from kissing Elizabeth.

"That he is, my love. To his credit, he doesn't flaunt it. In fact, he seems oblivious to it. My guess is he gets plenty of hearts racing, male and female".

Ryan nodded as well,

"But I don't know what it is. Something is off. I cannot put my finger on it. He seems to be very personable, but there's just something that bothers me".

"I know exactly what you mean. Did you notice the faint lines on his back and thighs. I think there were some on his stomach as well. I thought it might be a trick of the light, or maybe stretch marks. But I find it difficult to see how a guy who is so well built and obviously fit would have stretch marks".

"Now that you mention it, yes I did notice them. But I'll admit I didn't give them another thought".

Andrew giggled.

"Hmmm, too busy checking him out if you ask me".

Ryan took Andrew in his arms and kissed him long and hard.

"It's okay to look at the menu. You just can't order. And don't tell me you were not perving as well!"

Andrew put his forehead against Ryan's chest, his body shaking with laughter.

"Guilty as charged. Even a monk would have had a good look".

Ryan chortled as well.

"True dat. I think we better get back downstairs. I'm getting hungry and those steaks are not going to grill themselves".

They walked downstairs hand in hand, their shoulders touching as they walked. On the patio, Craig and Clint had just got out of the pool and Clint looked even better wet, his body hair sticking to his skin. He and Craig wrapped towels around their hips and while Clint moved to the grill and started putting meat on it, Craig went to fetch two more beers for them. Andrew opened a bottle of red and a bottle of white wine for him and the ladies, while Ryan had a cider.

The meat didn't take long as the steaks were done to a medium/medium rare and the chicken was precooked so it was not long before they were eating. Donna brought out cheesecake with strawberries dessert, which had Ryan sighing with pleasure and Andrew made coffee.

Craig and Clint got quite rowdy as the night wore on and Ryan advised them to keep it down in case the twins woke up, giving Andrew a questioning look at the same time. Andrew knew exactly what the look meant. There was no way in hell that anyone would be driving anywhere. Clint and Karen would have to sleep over. Andrew went upstairs to get a bedroom ready, followed a few minutes later by Ryan who came to help him. When they were happy that the bedroom was ready to receive guests, they went back downstairs. The four friends were still at the table, all drinking coffee and Karen was trying to get Clint to put on his clothes so that they could go back to their hotel.

Andrew and Ryan were standing in the doorway between the dining room and the patio and unobtrusively signalled the ladies to come in for a chat. When Donna and Karen joined them, Ryan looked at them and said,

" Sis, there is no way that Craig is driving to Melkbosstrand tonight. He and Clint are in no condition to go anywhere except to bed. We have made a room ready for Karen and Clint. They can say here tonight. But the vehicles will not move, am I clear", he said sternly, looking from Donna to Karen.

They both nodded and Donna replied,

"Yes, I agree. They both got a bit out of hand tonight. Thanks guys".

"Good. Drew and I are going upstairs. Are you two going to be okay getting them to bed?"

Karen nodded her head, looking a bit embarrassed.

"Thanks Ryan, we can handle them. I'm sorry about this".

Andrew put his hand on her arm.

"There is no need to be sorry. We just want everyone safe, that's all. And Craig is certainly not driving either of the cars in his present condition".

"I agree completely, Drew. Thanks again. Karen and I will get them to bed. The beers are finished anyway".

"Okay, if you need help, shout. We'll be in our room".

Leaving the ladies, they walked up to the master suite. They showered together and put on sleep shorts and t-shirts and watched TV, aware of the voices below them on the patio gradually getting softer and it wasn't long before they heard Craig helping Clint to the bedroom assisted by Karen and Donna. Craig and Donna only stayed a few minutes before going back downstairs to their own bedroom. When all was quiet, Ryan got up and went down to check that the house was locked up and then came back and got intobed next to Andrew.

"All secure and the girls tidied up".

Andrew nodded,

"Oh great. I was worried I would have a kitchen to clean before breakfast".

Ryan rolled onto his side, propping himself with his elbow.

"Have you given any thought to what we should do tomorrow?"

Andrew turned to face him.

"Not much really. The extra night on the yacht was a bit of a curve ball. Maybe we can ask Donna or mom to babysit and you and I can just go out for a quiet night out. We haven't even got gifts for one another. At least I haven't got one for you yet"

Ryan caressed a finger down the side of Andrew's face and kissed him lightly.

"I have enough of a gift right here with me. You and our two imps next door. But a dinner alone would be nice. I don't think we have been out alone since before the twins were born. I think we should ask mom first. She may be offended if we don't and you know how much she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren. I'm certain she will agree."

They watched some English Premier League football highlights and before the programme ended, Ryan felt Andrew's head flop against his shoulder. Grinning, he held Andrew upright until he could get into a position to slide Andrew down so that his head was on the pillows. Then he turned off the lights and slid back into bed next to Andrew, who turned naturally onto his side so that they could spoon. His last waking recollection was Andrew holding the hand that had been placed over his waist and the aroma of the sandalwood scented shampoo that Andrew used in his hair.

Cameron and Elizabeth gave them an extra half hour of sleep the next morning, waking up just after 6.30am. Andrew came awake the second the first cry sounded and the first thing he saw was a pair of beloved blue eyes gazing at him. Andrew smiled sleepily, gazing back at his husband.

"Happy anniversary, babe", he whispered. Ryan smiled back at him and kissed him.

"Morning my love. Happy anniversary! Just watching you and thinking how lucky I am. To have a beautiful husband and two beautiful children, who right now are not beautiful because I really just want to lie here with you and they are making a godawful racket. But I guess fatherhood calls. Shall we?", moving to get out of of bed. They padded barefoot to the nursery and bent over the cots.

Instant silence!

As soon as Andrew and Ryan appeared, the twins were their normal chirpy selves. Their dads picked them up and both men wrinkled their noses.

"I think I would also be unhappy if I smelled like that", Andrew quipped. "Will you start changing them? I'll go downstairs for formula and take something out for breakfast. I'll be as quick as I can" said Andrew.

He hurried to the kitchen and turned on the kettle for hot water and the coffee machine. Then he rooted around in the freezer for breakfast and decided it was time they did a big shop again to stock up. He eventually found some frozen croissants and apple Danish and a pack of shaved ham which he put on the counter to thaw. Opening the refrigerator, he was pleased to see an unopened carton of cream cheese, as well as various other cheeses in a container and the normal jars of preserves. The kettle boiled so he made the bottles of formula for the twins and then made two mugs of coffee for him and Ryan. Putting it all on a tray, he added a box of rusks and set off back to the bedroom. Ryan was still busy with Elizabeth, who had a particularly messy diaper, so Andrew put the tray down and gently pulled Cameron towards him from the centre of the bed.

"Hello my little man, how are you today?, he said to the infant, who cooed and moved his arms and legs energetically. "Are you happy to see daddy. Good, because daddy is happy to see you". He nuzzled his forehead on the little boys stomach and he chortled in delight. "Now let's get you cleaned up and then you can have your bottle".

He quickly got Cameron into a fresh diaper and put him on the bed next to Elizabeth who already had her bottle. He gave Cameron his bottle and watched him as he started sucking to make sure that the formula was flowing, then reclined next to them on the bed with Ryan on the other side to have their coffee and rusks. They both loved this time of the morning, dirty, smelly diapers and all.

They watched Sky-News on TV for a while to catch up on world events while they were away and then Ryan went to the bathroom to shower. When he came back, Andrew did the same and once they were dressed, they got the twins ready for the day and took them downstairs and put them on the blanket covered rug in the lounge with some toys and Rascal in attendance.

While Ryan opened up the doors and windows to allow the fresh morning breeze in, Andrew got busy in the kitchen and soon the heady aroma of baking pastry filled the lower area. Donna came out of the guest bedroom looking fresh and pretty in a long, sleeveless summer dress and Karen came down shortly after.
Both advised that their partners were in the shower, hoping to feel better when they were done. Clint looked like hell when he did come downstairs and Craig didn't look much better when he put in an appearance. They both inhaled two cups of black coffee each before they could actually have a coherent conversation with anyone. They ate breakfast and Craig started making preparations to drive them back to their hotel.

Clint was very apologetic for getting drunk and thanked Andrew and Ryan several times for letting them stay the night and for their hospitality. It was late morning when they finally left for their hotel. Andrew went up to the bedroom they had used to strip the bed and was surprised to find that it had already been done. The bed linen was neatly folded on one corner of the bed along with the damp bath towels, and the duvet had been thrown over the mattress to cover it. He opened the sliding doors to air the room and then took the linen to the laundry and put it into the machine to be washed. Ryan was on the phone with Janice. He could only hear Ryan's side of the conversation.

"Yeah, tonight. Drew and I want to go out for dinner. You do remember what day it is?
"Ha! You forgot. That's old age creeping up on you". He held the phone away from his ear and Andrew could hear Janice's indignant voice, but not what she was saying. Putting the phone back to his ear he said, "We will arrange takeaways for dinner for you guys so you don't have to worry with cooking"
"Around sixish I would guess. We haven't decided where to go yet, let alone making reservations"
"Donna and Craig will more than likely be here too. You know they are flying back on Sunday"
"Sometime in the afternoon, I gather. But you can spend some time with then tonight while we are out."
"Thanks mom. We appreciate it. We won't stay out too late"
"Alright, thanks again. Laters!"

He put the phone down and took Andrew in his arms, pulling him against his body.

"Okay, they will babysit. Now we need to find somewhere to go".

They were interrupted by Craig and Donna returning from dropping Clint and Karen. Donna walked straight to them and hugged them.

"Guys, I'm so sorry. I forgot all about your anniversary. Congratulations. If mom hadn't called me.......", she said, looking stricken.
Ryan put his arm around her.

"Don't worry about it, sis. Mom forgot as well. It was only when I phoned to ask her to babysit tonight that she remembered. And then she must have called you. Anyway, are you in or out tonight?"

Craig shook both their hands, adding his congratulations and said,

"Most definitely in. And no booze. A nice quiet, sober night at home is what we need tonight. Last night was way too rough!"

"You'll get no sympathy from us", said Andrew, "It was all self inflicted". He pulled a pile of leaflets from a drawer. "These are menus from all the takeaways in the area. Have a look at what you want and make a note so that we can place an order. Mom and dad can have a look when they get here this evening".

The rest of the day was spent just relaxing around and in the pool. They took the twins for a paddle in the pool and then napped with them on the sunbeds on the patio. They had calls from Paul, Marie and Claude to wish them a happy anniversary, Ryan ruefully noting that while the immediate family had forgotten their wedding anniversary, their extended family had not. Andrew also had a call from Darren and Kerry to find out what time they were meeting at the marina.

David and Janice arrived just before 6pm and after quick greetings and congratulations, they perused the selection of takeaway menus and having decided what they wanted for dinner, Ryan placed the order to be delivered asap. Janice helped Andrew get the twins bathed and dressed for the night. They would have their bottles after their dad's had left for dinner.

Andrew and Ryan had quick showers and got dressed for their date and then drove the short distance to the restaurant, as Andrew had decided to keep it local. They had an extremely enjoyable dinner and lingered over coffee, leaving the establishment at 9.30pm. Ryan drove straight into the garage and as soon as they stepped out of the car they could hear the heartrending cries of the twins.
They hurried into the house and were greeted at the door by a very excited Rascal who scampered up the stairs ahead of them. Janice breathed a sigh of relief when she saw them, looking distraught.

"Oh thank god, you're back. I was just going to call you. They woke up about an hour ago and then started crying and nothing we did would pacify them"

Andrew and Ryan took the infants from Janice and Donna and cuddled them in their arms, rocking them back and forth and speaking softly to them. The plaintive cries subsided into little sobs that tore at their dads hearts and then stopped completely, to be replaced by hiccups. Andrew and Ryan lifted them so that their heads were on their shoulders and walked around patting and rubbing their backs. The hiccups disappeared and very soon both the infants were peacefully asleep cradled against their dads. They took the babies upstairs to put them into their cots with Janice and Donna following them to the nursery. They stayed a while to make sure that they twins were asleep and Ryan hugged Janice who was visibly upset.

"I'm sorry they gave you a hard time, mom"

Janice sniffed.

"We gave them their bottles and burped them just fine and they went down with no problems at all. Then Cam woke up and started crying, which woke Elizabeth up and she started. And they wouldn't stop. Their eyes were looking around all the time and I knew they were looking for you. When they realised you two were not around all hell broke loose.We tried bottles, dummies, gripe water, turning on the TV. Everything. It broke my heart to hear them crying like that"

Andrew put his arm around her and Donna.

"We really didn't think it would be a problem. Normally once they go down, they stay down till morning. In hindsight, maybe we should have put them down for the night before we left."

They rejoined David and Craig in the lounge and had some coffee, reminiscing about the wedding two years previously and about an hour later David and Janice left to drive home. They locked up, turned off the lights and climbed he stairs to the bedroom, where the both gave one another their own special anniversary gifts and afterwards fell asleep in one another's arms.

Copyright © 2020 Andre Delport; All Rights Reserved.
  • Like 33
  • Love 17

Any comments, good or bad, will be gratefully received.

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
You are not currently following this author. Be sure to follow to keep up to date with new stories they post.

Recommended Comments

Chapter Comments

Great chapter, a happy new year to them , ours is not too far away what with this latest outbreak of 19 , I think that we are in for a rough time. Unlike that they were told that their pain was self inflicted

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Hello André:

Before I give a review on this chapter, I see it's already Christmas Eve in South Africa, so allow me to wish you (and yours) my Best Wishes for a very Merry Christmas (or other holiday as applicable). And I thank YOU for the continuing gift that is Never Walk Alone

With that segue, let me say that Chapter 18 is yet another well written, well laid out chapter. It continues the ongoing lives and adventures of Drew, Ry, Cameron, Elizabeth and yes Rascal both on land at home and aboard Belle Catherine, (where it appears the spirit of Drew's mum continues to watch over and protect the family, as MV Ranger bears down on them on New Years Eve :lmao:).

This story, in your mouth watering description of the various meals, is a virtual movable feast. I think I've gained 5 kg :P

Speaking of 'feasts', Clinton is proving to be an attraction to all eyes on board, especially Drew and Ry. He's either one of 'those guys' who always known he is 'hot stuff' and doesn't think about it, OR, he loves playing it up as 'guy candy' as he seems 'interested' in Drew and Ry, whose love for each other and family make them immune to distraction.

Finally, speaking of immune, I see as of yesterday (23/12/20)  another, more virulent strain of Covid-19 has suddenly emerged in South Africa. According to my epidemiologist friend at Pfizer (who as a doctor was an early vaccine tester): "It seems way too convenient that the original 'supposed wet market' virus is now doing 'this' and following the same flight path". He urged me, to urge others to get the vaccine shot ASAP if not STAT (Pzifer or Moderna as most stringently tested) to protect ourselves.  So I pass that message on to you. I want to read more of your story (stories) :read: and for that, I need you to: Stay Safe, 2m apart, Wash Hands frequently and Wear The Mask.

Take Care, Best regards,



Edited by Anton_Cloche
  • Like 1
Link to comment
On 12/24/2020 at 5:31 PM, Anton_Cloche said:

Hello André:

Before I give a review on this chapter, I see it's already Christmas Eve in South Africa, so allow me to wish you (and yours) my Best Wishes for a very Merry Christmas (or other holiday as applicable). And I thank YOU for the continuing gift that is Never Walk Alone

With that segue, let me say that Chapter 18 is yet another well written, well laid out chapter. It continues the ongoing lives and adventures of Drew, Ry, Cameron, Elizabeth and yes Rascal both on land at home and aboard Belle Catherine, (where it appears the spirit of Drew's mum continues to watch over and protect the family, as MV Ranger bears down on them on New Years Eve :lmao:).

This story, in your mouth watering description of the various meals, is a virtual movable feast. I think I've gained 5 kg :P

Speaking of 'feasts', Clinton is proving to be an attraction to all eyes on board, especially Drew and Ry. He's either one of 'those guys' who always known he is 'hot stuff' and doesn't think about it, OR, he loves playing it up as 'guy candy' as he seems 'interested' in Drew and Ry, whose love for each other and family make them immune to distraction.

Finally, speaking of immune, I see as of yesterday (23/12/20)  another, more virulent strain of Covid-19 has suddenly emerged in South Africa. According to my epidemiologist friend at Pfizer (who as a doctor was an early vaccine tester): "It seems way too convenient that the original 'supposed wet market' virus is now doing 'this' and following the same flight path". He urged me, to urge others to get the vaccine shot ASAP if not STAT (Pzifer or Moderna as most stringently tested) to protect ourselves.  So I pass that message on to you. I want to read more of your story (stories) :read: and for that, I need you to: Stay Safe, 2m apart, Wash Hands frequently and Wear The Mask.

Take Care, Best regards,



Hi Tony. Thank you for your kind wishes and comments. Been quite hectic here over the holidays so only reading all the comments now.

Firstly, seasons greetings to you and yours too. I hope it was a good one.

By now you woukd probably have heard that SA is back to what we term Level 3 lock down.  Strict curfew from 9pm to 4am, wearing of mask are now mandatory. I hear the authorities are handing out fines for curfew breaking and for not wearing a mask. 

We had a case of the dreaded lurgy in the household in October. My sister became infected at work. We went into isolation for two weeks and amazingly no one else was infected. She had it very mildly, only one day when she really felt awful, but now fully recovered. The bid thing is we sanitised the crap out of the house and even now have bottles of sanitiser in every room. So we remain vigilant.

Thank you for your concern and hope you stay safe too. 

Thanks again for reading my story and for all your encouragement. Not only you but everyone who has reacted and comments to each chapter. I still cannot believe that something I have written could get the reactions it has.

  • Like 2
Link to comment

 Thanks for this great chapter 👍🏻. The baby’s really know who their fathers are.

As little as they are 😊 👨‍🍼👨‍🍼

  • Like 1
Link to comment
View Guidelines

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Newsletter

    Want to keep up to date with all our latest news and information?
    Sign Up
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..