Never walk alone - 21. Chapter 21
Time to meet the clan.
And Ryan was also on a mission. To find out if Sister Katerina was still at the airport chapel.
After they had checked in and on the way to the business class lounge they stopped at the airport chapel and went in. A nun was siting in one of the pews near the front and Ryan approached her, coughing softly to attract her attention. She stood up and walked towards them.
"Good afternoon, Sister. I was wondering if Sister Katerina was here? I would very much like to see her"
"Good day to you gentlemen. Sister Katerina is here in the airport somewhere. Let me contact her and get her to come back here. Can I tell her who is looking for her?"
"I don't know if she will remember me. My name is Ryan, and she was very kind to me almost three years ago when she gave me comfort and encouragement"
Just then the door opened and as Ryan turned he gazed into the kind, lined face of the person he was seeking.
"Ah, Sister Katerina. I was just about to contact you. This young man is wanting to see you".
Sister Katerina walked down the aisle to them, her gaze questioning. As she neared them, a look of recognition dawned in her eyes and she stopped in front of Ryan, gazing up at him.
"I know I have spoken to you. But I'm afraid I cannot recall your name, young man".
Ryan took her hands in his. "Sister Katerina, my name is Ryan....... "
"Yes, now I remember! It was winter. You were standing at the windows watching an Emirates flight take off with someone you love on board. You were very unhappy, crying"
Ryan grinned and turned to draw Andrew closer.
"Yes, you remember well. This is Andrew, my husband. The one I was so sad to see go. We are married now, for two and a half years, and these are our babies, Cameron and Elizabeth. I just wanted to thank you for your kind words that day. You have no idea how much they meant to me and how much they helped me.".
She reached out and touched his face gently, her hands incredibly soft.
"I am pleased I was of some help". She looked at Andrew. "And I can see that you love one another and that you love your children. Why else would you keep them so close to your hearts", placing her hands on the heads of the two sleeping infants. " I would very much like to bless them. May I?"
Ryan glanced at Andrew who nodded slightly.
"We don't have long. We have a flight to Paris soon. But yes, you may bless them.".
She led them to a small font at the front of the chapel and uncovered it. Dipping her fingers into the water, she gently crossed both the twins foreheads, and intoned a blessing on them.
"There, all done. I am so grateful that you came looking for me. It is not often we get the see someone we have spoken to again, let alone for them to come looking for us. Thank you and bless you".
"No, bless you Sister".
He took out one of his business cards and gave it to her along with two envelopes with 500 dollars US in each.
"One of those is for you to use on yourself. The other is for the chapel. Andrew and I live in Cape Town, South Africa. We own a hotel and a yacht charter company. If you are ever in our part of the world, please feel free to contact us." She examined the card, then looked up at him.
"Thank you. I very much doubt I will be able to travel to Cape Town. But one never knows".
They both thanked her again and left the chapel to pass through security and head to the lounge where they relaxed until boarding time was announced.
The flight to Paris was as uneventful as the previous flight and a driver from the hotel was waiting for them as they emerged from customs and immigration. He greeted them cordially in heavily accented English and led them to the waiting courtesy car for the drive into Paris.
Andrew had reserved a prestige suite at the Intercontinental Paris le Grand Hotel in the 9th Arrondissement area of the city and just a short drive to the Gare du Nord to catch the Eurostar to London. The property did not have interleading rooms so Andrew had requested that two cots be placed in the room for the twins. The hotel was well situated to all the tourist sites and the Palais Garnier Opera house was directly across the road. The long, five storey hotel occupied an entire city block and looked very grand as they pulled up at the main entrance.
The hotel had first opened its doors in 1862 and was built in the style of the time with a slate mansard roof. It was, and still is, opulently decorated and the grand ballroom, the Opera Salon is the most famous and sought after venue in Paris. The legendary Café de la Paix still operates from its original location today and the centrally located Winter Garden is covered by a graceful glass skylight. The rooms and suites, although fitted with all the modern conveniences, retain their sense of grandeur, and, although their suite was beautifully appointed, Andrew felt it lacked it warmth.
The three days in Paris were hectic ones, as Andrew, having never been to Paris, did all the touristy things you could do in Paris. They walked the length of the Champs Elysees from the Place de la Concorde to the Place Charles De Gaulle where the Arc de Triomphe is located, stopping at several stores on the way to browse and buy souvenirs and gifts for the family back home. They rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower and took selfies under the arches at the base, toured the Louvre and Versailles, cruised down the Seine and wandered around the Gothic splendour of Notre Dame.
They ate primarily in streetside cafes and bistros, dining at the hotel on the first night only and Andrew shopped until he was ready to drop, buying clothes for him and Ryan and practically emptying out a store that specialised in babywear. He was like a kid in a candy store and there were many instances when Ryan had his work cut out to convince his husband not to buy something. In the end, an additional suitcase had to be added to the list of purchases to pack everything and add yet another item to their, already, mountain of luggage, but Ryan had to grudgingly admit that what Andrew had purchased was amazing and that it made Andrew happy.
They checked out after breakfast at the hotel on the morning of the fourth day, and were driven to the Gare du Nord station to catch the Eurostar to London.
The driver dropped them at the forecourt in front of the beautiful facade and they entered the bustling building, reputed to be the busiest station in Europe. Their train was due to depart from Platform 4, on the level they were on, but the Eurostar platforms don't have direct access, so they had to go up one floor and cross a balcony to the check in counters and then go down again to actually board the train.
Once they had checked in and passed through the security and passport control, they went to the business class lounge for something to drink and give Cameron and Elizabeth some juice to keep them hydrated. Boarding was announced twenty minutes before the departure time of 11h43 and they took the travelator down to the platform to the business class carriages.
Andrew had chosen four seats, grouped around a table, facing one another, towards the front of Coach 2,
close to the galleys and the baby changing facility. They secured Cameron and Elizabeth in their car seats, placing them on the two seats facing the rear of the train. Ryan and Andrew took the seats facing the direction of travel after storing the luggage in the luggage racks one row forward, just keeping one small bag with things for the twins with them.
The non stop service to London St.Pancras slipped out of the Gare du Nord at exactly 11h43 heading for the Chunnel portal at Calais reaching a speed of almost 300km/h, slowing significantly to 160km/h when they entered the tunnel, They were provided with a small but very tasty airline type meal and beverages were offered at regular intervals. Two hours and 30 minutes later, they pulled into St.Pancras station in London, four minutes late. The twins slept for almost the entire journey, waking only when they were pulling into St.Pancras.
They disembarked onto the busy platform and found a cab to take them to the London Pullman St.Pancras Hotel where Andrew had reserved a room for the day until the departure of their Caledonian Sleeper Highlander overnight service from London Euston Station to Fort William in Scotland.
They just chilled for the afternoon, relaxing on one of the two queen beds in the room, while the twins napped on the other. They also looked at the financial reports that had been sent to them for Blue Bay.
The lodge was doing very well, so well in fact, that they were having to turn away business due to not having rooms available, a situation that concerned Andrew a great deal and he floated the idea of either having to expand the building once again or look around for anther property to work alongside Blue Bay. They disused the pros and cons but eventually resolved to look at it again once they were back home.
They Skyped with the grand parentals and Rascal, and then did the same with Beth and Nicky in Scotland, giving them their arrival time and where they would be staying. Beth had passed on an invitation for them to stay at Achnacarry Castle, the home of the Lochiel of Cameron, where she and Nicky were staying, but both Andrew and Ryan felt they would rather be on their own for the first visit.
When the twins woke up they had some family time and then bathed, fed and dressed them for the night. They ordered a light meal from room service, showered and got dressed themselves and checked out at 8pm for the brief taxi ride to Euston Station.
Check in for the Caledonian Sleeper Highlander service opened at 8.30 and departure was scheduled for21h15. Andrew had reserved two Club double rooms adjacent to one another but not interleading. The interleading rooms were all Classic rooms but had twin bunks instead of a bed and only had an in - cabin washbasin. The Club doubles were equipped with en-suite shower rooms and he and a Ryan had felt that the bathroom was more important than the beds, especially for the twins. It meant they would each have to sleep in separate rooms with one of the babies, but as they were right next to one another it was no real hardship for just one night.
They spent some time in the departure lounge and when boarding was announced they made their way to the green hued train, stopping on the way to buy some chocolate bars and packets of crisps, to get settled in their rooms prior to departure at 21.15.
When they boarded, the babies were still awake, but looking quite sleepy, so as soon as they were in the rooms, Andrew made them bottles with camomile tea and formula and they put them on the one bed to drink the bottles. When they train slid out of the station on time, the twins were fast asleep on the bed, in what was going to be Andrew's room for the night. He turned off the bright overhead light, turning on only the night light, and opened the blind over the window and they watched the lights of London as they flashed past. Ryan's stomach rumbled in the quietness of the room and Andrew giggled at the sound.
"Is that your way of saying you're hungry, my love?" he said.
"I wouldn't say hungry exactly. More just slightly peckish. We did have those sandwiches and scones and tea before we left the hotel".
"I have to admit to being a little peckish myself. Let's see what the menu has to offer", Andrew replied.
They ordered two ham and cheese sandwiches and a portion of Macaroni Cheese to share and to satisfy a
sweet tooth, two portions of Chocolate Torte and hot chocolate. They ordered it to the room, as going to the Club Car was out of the question due to the sleeping twins and it arrived fifteen minutes later, piping hot, tasty and more importantly, filling. With appetites satisfied, they showered in their own rooms, anticipating that the morning would be quite rushed due to the early arrival at a Fort William just before 10am, and Ryan came back when he was finished to snuggle with Andrew for a while before gently picking up Elizabeth and taking her to his room for the night. Andrew watched with a very full heart as his husband and his daughter left the room. Elizabeth may not have been his biological child, but in Ryan's eyes, she was his daughter and like any dad, his daughter needed to be protected. And Andrew felt exactly the same way about Cameron. Andrew shut the door and carefully moved Cameron to the far side of the bed against the wall, knowing his little sister would be sleeping just on the other side, then got under the covers, falling asleep almost immediately, lulled by the clackity-clack of the wheels on the track. He woke up briefly when they stopped at Crewe at zero dark thirty, and again at Edinburgh Waverley where the train was split into three, the sections going to Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. He nodded off again almost as soon as they started moving again.
He was woken up by Cameron, who had decided that his dad's face needed some serious examination. Andrew peered at the little boy through barely open eyelids, doing his best not to move or dissolve in giggles, as Cameron knelt next to him and touched all the features of his face before tweaking his nose, causing his eyes to water, and to finally lose it and start laughing. Cameron got a fright and fell back, his eyes huge in his face and Andrew was just in time to catch him and prevent him bumping his head on the wall. The little boy was slightly unhappy but Andrew cuddled and soothed him and he was soon back to his normal, sunny self. Andrew could tell he needed changing so he quickly set about doing just that. He was almost done when there was a knock on the door and Ryan called his name. Andrew unlocked the door and kissed Ryan and Elizabeth good morning before turning back to finish changing Cameron. Ryan closed the door and came to stand next him, setting Elizabeth down on the bed as well.
"This little lady needs changing as well, my love. Will you do that and I'll get bottles and cereal ready?"
"Yeah, sure babe. Any idea where we are?", Andrew asked, just as the train started slowing down.
Ryan opened the blind an looked out.
"Not sure", he said, "but judging by the landscape, somewhere in the middle of Scotland. Oh, we're just
coming into Garelochhead", as the train slowed to a crawl.
It was fairly light already and Andrew peered out at his first sight of Scotland. Rolling hills and green pasture dotted with grazing sheep and cattle, with an occasional remote dwelling, as far as the eye could see. To Andrew's eye, it was beautiful and he fell in love with Scotland almost immediately.
They got the twins fed and while they had their bottles, Ryan went to shower again, realising they had enough time before their breakfast arrived and brought everything from his room to Andrew's room when he returned, fully dressed for arrival. Andrew quickly showered as well, while Ryan kept an eye on the twins. They passed through Crianlarich, the most remote station in Scotland and shortly after their complimentary breakfast of orange juice, bacon, sausage, scrambled egg, grilled tomato, potato, toast and coffee, was delivered at 8am as requested, and while not a large portion, was tasty. They each had a chocolate bar when the breakfast trays had been collected and another cup of coffee and they were set for arrival in Fort William.
About an hour from their destination, they dressed the twins.
The seamstress who had made the outfits for the twins first Christmas, had been commissioned to recreate the outfits, just in a bigger size so they would arrive in Scotland dressed in the Cameron tartan.
The only difference was that a tiny kilt had been made for Cameron as well. They decided, however, to
dress Cameron in the trousers as it looked quite cool outside the train.
Ryan moved all the luggage to the lobby of the coach so that it would be easy to unload onto the platform when they arrived and spent the last thirty minutes watching the Scottish landscape go by, with glimpses of lochs and the sea every now and then. They pulled into Fort William just after 10am,slightly behind schedule.
Beth and Nicky were waiting on the platform with excited, expectant expressions on their faces, warmly
wrapped up against the cool breeze blowing off the sea, despite it being summer. As the train pulled in, Andrew and Ryan stood at the window with the twins and when Beth and Nicky saw them, Beth jumped up and down with glee and waved madly, a huge grin lighting up her face. When they stepped onto the platform, Beth ran up to them and stopped dead in her tracks, staring at Cameron and Elizabeth. She put her hands up to her face and tears rolled down her cheeks. She looked at Andrew and Ryan.
"Oh my god. They are so beautiful. They've got so big. And they look so well. You guys do too".
They both hugged her and then hugged Nicky, giving the twins to them to hold. Andrew grinned at them.
"That's what a week cruising the Mediterranean on a private yacht does for you. How are you?"
"Welcome to Scotland", Beth said, her Scottish brogue far more pronounced that it was in Cape Town.
"I'm well. All the better for seeing you and these two little angels. God, I can't get over how they look".
Beth peered at the twins and then gasped in astonishment. "Oh my god, and they've got teeth"
Nicky nodded too.
"Yeah, I'm very well, guys. It's good to see you. It's been a while."
Ryan stepped back onto the train and started handing down the luggage, the girls eyes getting bigger and
bigger with each piece that was added.
"Good grief, have you guys got your entire house with you?", Beth asked smiling, giving Elizabeth to Nicky and taking Cameron and cuddling him. Andrew looked at her with raised eyebrows.
"You've obviously never had to travel with nine month old babies. Most of this is for them ".
"We won't say anything about the extra suitcase that had to be bought in Paris to hold all of my husbands
shopping spree", added Ryan, grinning at Andrew, who glared at him darkly.
"I'll have you know, my love, most of that is for the babies as well!"Beth giggled.
"Boys, be nice! Right, let's get you to your accommodation". She glanced over her shoulder to the station entrance. "I think that is the guy delivering your rental. It looks as if he has some sort of name tag on his
Beth was right. It was the representative from the car hire company and after Andrew had signed all the
documents he led them to an almost brand new Land Rover Evoque. Beth whistled when she saw the vehicle.
"Wow, you guys don't do things by half, do you?"
"You should be used to us by now Beth. We had twins when we could have gone for one at a time". Ryan replied.
She smiled at him.
"That's true. And I am so glad you did", her eyes misting over again as she gazed at the twins. Nicky and Beth held on to the twins while Andrew and Ryan loaded the luggage into the car and fitted the baby seats. They got the twins and themselves settled and then followed Beth and Nicky to the guesthouse on the edge of town. They got settled in, taking only what they felt was needed to the room and leaving the rest in a storage room downstairs. Taking a decision to just live out of suitcases for the two days, they didn't unpack much and just hung up a few things.
Then they all got into the Land Rover, with the ladies sitting between the twins car seats and took a drive along the coast to explore. Andrew had Ryan stop several times to take photographs and film some video and they had a fish and chips lunch at a small fishing village further up the coast, before turning inland and taking a slightly longer route back through green rolling countryside, stopping at the Macduff Hotel for tea.
On the short drive back to the guesthouse, Cameron and Elizabeth, who had been very good the entire after-noon, were fretful, irritated at having been cooped up in the car seats for so long. Beth and Nicky returned to Achnacarry when they got back, while Andrew And Ryan went to their room to have some family time with the babies.
The two days and three nights in Fort William were a very pleasant end to their travels. The meeting at Achnacarry Castle with Beth's family on the second day was a great success, with her parents and grand-parents present, as well as a number of uncles, aunts and cousins. Some of the other clan members were also present. The only downer was that Donald Cameron, the Lochiel, was not in town, but attending a Clan heads conference in Inverness. They spent the entire day at the clan ancestral home and Andrew took dozens of photographs of the stunning estate, both house and garden and of Loch Lochy and Loch Arkaig,the estate being located on the isthmus between the two bodies of water. They also toured the Clan Cameron Museum on the estate finding out more about the history of the clan from its earliest times, through the Jacobite period and it's aftermath, the destruction by fire of the original castle after the Battle of Culloden in 1746, when the estate was forfeit to the Crown, it's reclaimation by the Cameron's in the late 1700's to the construction of the present castle in 1802.
Two events they found particularly interesting was that in 1928 Achnacarry served as the meeting venue for leaders of the global petroleum industry in an attempt to set world production quotas. The meeting resulted in what became known as the Achnacarry Agreement. The second was that the house and estate were handed over to the military during World War 2 and used as a base for commando training. The estate did not escape the war unscathed however, as a fire gutted the central portion and roof of the castle. The army replaced the roof with tin until the castle was fully restored by the 26th Lochiel. They took a walk to the poignant remains of the original castle located close to the old stables, now converted to holiday cottages. All that remained was a tall, square, stone clad chimney stack with four fireplaces, ivy - covered and provided some idea of the size and grandeur of the long gone building.
Everyone wanted to hold the newest additions to the Cameron clan, and the twins were stars, accepting all the passing around and manhandling with sunny grace. Andrew was convinced there little faces would be permanently frozen in smiles as they never stopped smiling, except when they started getting hungry or tired and let everyone know it. But once their tummies were full or had had a short nap, they were once again on their best behaviour. and they won the hearts of everyone present. They were showered with little gifts, mostly clothing, and they each got lovely teddy bears dressed in the Cameron tartan, which they refused to let go of. All in all, the Cameron clan were enchanted by the little imps and there were lots of tears as they said their farewells late in the evening as the next morning they would leave Fort William and drive down to Glasgow to fly back to London for their last night in Europe.
The trip had been thoroughly enjoyable but both Andrew and Ryan were looking forward to going home
and just being in their own space once again.
They set out just after breakfast the next morning for Glasgow, not sure exactly how long it would take and what the roads were like. As it turned out, they arrived at the airport in good time and checked in for their short business class flight to London City Airport on British Airways. They had something to eat in the business class lounge and fed the twins and just relaxed until the flight was called. The flight was uneventful apart from the unusually steep descent and heavy braking on landing. The big advantage of arriving at London City Airport was that within twenty minutes of landing they were pulling up outside the entrance to The Dorchester Hotel, their very swish home for the night.
They checked in and once again the Kinleys had spoilt them, reserving a two bedroom suite with dinner included. There was a message from them that Andrew tucked into his pocket and he checked to see if his shipment of wine had arrived from Santorini, which it had.
Up in the luxuriously appointed suite, they let the twins, who were now definitely starting to crawl, play on carpet, keeping a very watchful eye on them while their dads sat on the sofas watching SkyNews. Andrew took the message out of his pocket, knowing instinctively that it was flight information for the next day. He opened it up and read it with some surprise. They had been under the impression that it would be an overnight flight. Instead they were due to leave at 09h00 from London Stansted Airport direct to Cape Town arriving at appro-ximately 19h00. Breakfast, lunch and and early dinner would be provided on the plane. A driver would pick them up at the hotel at 07h30 meaning it would be a rather early and rushed morning, but it also meant that they would sleep at home at the end of the flight.
They Skyped briefly with Janice only as David was at the golf club, advising her of the time of arrival and requesting that they be at the house to open it up for them.
Consequently, they had dinner early, ordering from room service and arranged for a wake up call at 5.30am and a pot of tea and coffee at the same time along with toasted bacon and egg sandwiches to tide them over to breakfast. The twins were bathed and fed and they cuddled with them on the huge main bed until they fell asleep and were taken to the adjoining room for the rest of the night. Andrew and Ryan then showered and were in bed by 10, first giving the bed springs a thorough workout before falling asleep, spooned together as usual until the phone rang at 5.30 with their wake up call.
Ryan had just hung up the call, when the doorbell sounded indicating the arrival of their order. Fortunately the twins slept through all the activity, so Andrew and Ryan were able to enjoy the early morning snack and beverages, have a shower and get themselves dressed and organised before they woke up. Then it was just a case of giving the babies a quick refreshing wipe down, dressing them for the long flight and packing the last few things. They were all ready when the concierge called to advise that their driver had arrived. The requested porters arrived promptly and followed them down to the lobby where they checked out while the luggage was loaded into a Mercedes Vito people mover.
The drive to the Stansted Airport FBO was accomplished with little fuss apart from a bit of early morning traffic and they arrived at 8.30. This time they checked in for their flight like pro's who had been doing it all their life. They walked up to the smiling lady behind the reception.
"Good morning, Devlin-Major party departing at 09h00 on N901KL", Andrew told her.
"Good morning gentlemen. Welcome! Could I have your travel documents please?"
They handed over all the passports.
"Please go through to the departure lounge. I will be back in a jiffy with your passports. The porters will take your luggage to the aircraft".
They passed through a security check and sat down near the windows overlooking the tarmac. The jet was parked directly in front of the building with the nose turned away towards the taxiway. They could see Colin Beamish and Michelle at the bottom of the boarding stairs waiting for their arrival and watched as Colin walked to the rear of the jet and opened the luggage bin as the trolley with their luggage approached and loaded the bags and the wine into the hold. The receptionist approached them holding their passports.
"Here you go all done! They are ready for you. Please follow me"
They stood up and followed her to a door leading out onto the tarmac. A large Mercedes sedan was parked at the door, the motor idling and the driver standing at the open rear door.
"The car will take out to the plane. Have a pleasant flight", she told them.
They thanked her, walked to the car and got in, the driver closing the door with a soft thunk. He then drove them the short distance to the foot of the boarding stairs and were greeted by a smiling Michelle who opened the door.
"Hello Ryan, hello Andrew. Good to have you with us again. You all look so relaxed and tanned. Even the little ones seem to have got some sun".
Andrew smiled at her
"Yeah, it was fun while it lasted. But we're looking forward to being home again"
Colin walked back towards them, his hand extended in greeting.
"Welcome back gentleman. Do you need anything from your luggage before I close up", he asked.
Ryan shook his head.
"No, we have everything we need, Colin. Thank you"
"Okay good. Shelley will get you settled and we can get going. I heard you say you wanted to get home" he said and turned around to close the luggage hold.
Michelle led the way up the boarding stairs into the now familiar interior of the jet. They took the same seats they had sat in on the outward flight, keeping the twins with them for take off. The twins bassinets were already set up on the seats opposite ready for them should they want to nap. Colin stepped back into the aircraft and raised the boarding stairs as the engines began to spool up as they started. He secured the door, took a quick look around the cabin and entered the cockpit, closing the door behind him. Within minutes of boarding the jet moved off towards the taxiway and the end of the runway. The takeoff was short and powerful and they rocketed into the air, climbing rapidly until they broke through the smog layer and pointed the nose south for Cape Town.
It took a while to reach their cruising altitude due to the heavy fuel load, but Michelle was bustling about long before that, getting their breakfast ready. The twins were put into the bassinets with camomile tea and formula bottles in the hope that they would fall asleep and the boys settled themselves back in their very comfortable seats for breakfast. Michelle had set the table while they had been busy with the twins and glasses of fresh orange juice and plates with sliced fresh fruit was waiting for them when they sat down. The main course, much to their delight, was Eggs Benedict with roasted tomato and rosti. A basket of croissants and pastries was delivered with tea for Andrew and coffee for Ryan.
Cameron and Elizabeth were still wide awake when breakfast was over so they took them out of the bassinets, reclined their seats and lay back with the twins laying in their chests. They pulled out the seat mounted TV screens and watched movies and played games as the babies started nodding off at last. When they were sure they were asleep, Andrew and Ryan carefully stood up and put them back into the bassinets to sleep. Then it was just a case of sit back and relax, watching the TV, napping or watching the ocean below them as they raced over the Bay of Biscay towards the North African coast.
Peter Emerson came back to chat with them and joined them for a light lunch of mixed salad with slivered grilled lamb and a tzatziki style dressing. The twins woke up after lunch so Andrew and Ryan took them to their seats and fed them mashed banana and yogurt and then played with them for a while before the little ones started flagging again and they put them down to sleep again. During the afternoon, they both spent some time in the cockpit with Colin while Peter was taking a two hour power nap. Colin took his rest in the late afternoon and returned to the cockpit just before 18h00 when they were over Namibia. They also caught up on emails and had a look at the financial reports that had been emailed to them again, hoping to get some idea of what path they should follow with regard to the expansion.
Andrew and Ryan had advised Michelle that they would not have dinner and that she and the pilots should share it instead. They would grab something on the way home. They had woken the twins as Andrew did not want them to sleep too much in case they couldn't sleep for the night and had kept them occupied watching cartoons on the TV's at their seats and feeding them at the same time. They were facinated by the colourful pictures flashing on the screen and sat unmoving next to their dad's, their eyes glued to the screen.
Half an hour from Cape Town, the soft roar of the engines spooled down and the nose dipped as they began their descent. The weather in Cape Town was not great. It was cold and raining with a blustery north
westerly blowing so they dressed the twins warmly and made sure they had blankets handy to wrap them
in to protect them from the cold, wind. and rain. Their final approach was from the south and was quite turbulent and rain drumming on the fuselage, with them being in cloud until just before crossing the freeway that ran along the end of the runway. Colin, who was at the controls, somehow managed to pull off a very respectable landing, touching down with barely a bump and letting the jet coast to a stop, using almost the entire runway instead of using the brakes, before turning off onto the taxiway for the fairly long taxi past all the terminal buildings to the FBO on the southern side of the airport, being buffeted all the way by the wind and rain streaming over the windows. They turned onto the FBO tarmac and Peter opened the cockpit door.
"Guys, just sit tight for a moment. We're going to shut down the engines and they're going to pull us into the hanger so you won't have to go out into the rain", he told them and closed the door again. The engines spooled down and moments later, they felt a slight jerk as the tug was attached and they slowly rolled into the shelter of the hanger. When they finally came to a stop, Peter came back out and dropped the boarding stairs while Andrew and Ryan gathered the twins and the cabin luggage having donned warm coats. Colin came out of the cockpit as well and took the cabin bags from them so that they could negotiate the stairs easier with the babies in their arms. A people mover was waiting to take them the entrance of the FBO for customs and immigration. They thanked the crew and Ryan handed Peter three envelopes containing gratuities for each of them and stepped into the vehicle, as porters arrived to unload the luggage hold. They had to wait a few minutes for the luggage and wines to arrive from the jet and once Andrew had paid the duty on the wine, their passports were stamped and they walked out into the lounge to be met by a chauffeur holding a board with their name on it.
They approached him and identified themselves and were told that the car was waiting just outside the doors. Surprised, but very grateful they walked through the doors to a limousine that was parked under the portico. The driver opened the rear doors and Andrew slipped in with the twins, while the porters loaded
the luggage into the trunk, however two bags had to be put in the car with them as their was no more space in the trunk.
Ryan tipped the porters and got into the car, sitting next to Andrew, and took his daughter to secure her in her car seat while Andrew did the same with Cameron. When they were secure, they told the driver and he moved away from the kerb to drive them home.
The rain was bucketing down and driving conditions were difficult as it was coming from the direction in which they were travelling so the journey home to was done at a sedate pace. Andrew contacted Janice to tell them they were on the way and find out if they had eaten dinner. They hadn't, so Andrew ordered four pizzas to be delivered, giving them his credit card details for payment.
As they turned onto Beach Boulevard, they looked at one another and grinned. It was good to be home. And the house, that they could see quite clearly in the murk, although the rain had ceased for the moment, was lit up like a Christmas tree. As the headlights flashed across the facade, the front door opened and David and Janice stepped out onto the gravel with umbrellas. Rascal ran up to the car barking excitedly and running around the car. Janice yanked open the door and peered inside.
"Where are my two angels? Give them to me now ", she demanded.
Ryan unbuckled the twins and handed them to his mother and father, who hustled them into the house out of the cold. Ten minutes later after all the luggage had been brought into the house, Ryan and Andrew climbed the stairs to the living area where David and Janice were sitting with their grandchildren.
"Thanks for the great welcome mom! It's good to see you! A little help would have been nice!" he said .
She looked up from playing with Cameron and smiled.
"But I did help darling! I helped you with Cam and Elizabeth".
"Not even so much as a Hullo Ryan. Welcome home. Did you have a good holiday" he said, sounding a bit miffed.
Janice stood up and walked over to him.
" Oh, alright darling. Welcome home. I was just getting back at you two for taking my grandchildren away for so long". She grinned widely and enveloped him in a hug, then turned to Andrew and did the same.
"I'm glad you're home at last. We missed you".
Andrew and Ryan rook off their coats, threw them over the back of the couch and flopped onto it.
"Shit, all we've done today is sit and eat. And fly from London to Cape Town. And I'm frigging exhausted", exclaimed Andrew, picking Rascal up and cradling the little dog in his arms, his tail wagging frenetically. He was so excited to have his family back.
The doorbell chimed and Ryan jumped up.
"Yess! That must be the pizza. We skipped dinner on the plane and I must admit, I'm quite hungry now".
He went to collect the pizza and came back, filling the lounge with the aroma of garlic and oregano. Andrew fetched plates from the kitchen and put the kettle on to boil at the same time to make formula for the twins. The pizza disappeared in double quick time, but their appetites were satisfied. Andrew made coffee and the formula for the twins and David and Janice fed them while drinking their coffee.
When the bottles were finished, David and Janice left for home and Andrew took the twins upstairs to bath them and put them to bed, while Ryan brought the luggage upstairs. Poor Rascal didn't know who to follow, Andrew or Ryan. Eventually, Andrew won out, but only because he had the twins with him. When Andrew put them on the bed, Rascal jumped up onto the bed as well, crawling forward on his belly to where the babies sat, looking at them curiously. He gently nudged their feet with his nose, and lay down between them, letting them touch him, and pull on his ears. And he just lay there with his tail wagging, a very happy puppy. When Ryan came into the room with the last of the luggage, he sat down on the bed and fell backwards onto it. Rascal scampered over to him and started licking his face, until Ryan sat up and rolled him over onto his back to scratch his tummy until he rolled over and went to lie between the twins again. Andrew came back into the bedroom having put water into the bath for the twins and he and Ryan took them for a bath, sitting them in the warm, shallow water so they could splash and have some fun while the dad's sat on the edge of the bath watching them.
When the babies were splashed thoroughly wet, they knelt next to the bath and washed them, shampooing their hair as well and when they were rinsed off they wrapped the babies in big soft towels and carried them into the warm bedroom where someone had thoughtfully turned on the heating and put them on the bed to dry them off. They dressed them in warm babygrows after rubbing them with baby lotion and powder and then lay on the bed with them while they drank their camomile tea. It took a while for the babies to fall asleep and when they did, Andrew and Ryan gently picked them up and carried them to their cots for the night. The two men stood with their arms around one another's waists, looking down at the sleeping infants, their hearts full of love for them and one another. They turned on the nightlight and the baby monitor and walked back to the bedroom hand in hand.
Leaving the unpacking for the morning, they showered together for the first time in weeks, only leaving the shower when the water started getting cool. They dried one another in the warm bedroom, tossed the damp towels on the floor and slipped between the cold sheets, shivering involuntarily, and snuggled close to share their body heat. It was good to be home.
It was good to back!
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