Sage placed the thinly sliced potatoes in layers into the casserole dish, along with some bacon, eggs, and cheese. Kaleb had been giving him some cooking lessons along with some of his recipes to try out. His first attempt is a breakfast casserole. “Oh, shit,” he mumbled to himself adding the herbs Kaleb had suggested. He had almost ready for the oven so he sprinkled them over the top before popping it into the heat. Next up was the crumbed, garlic, and herb mushrooms. He hummed the latest song his love, Link had written while he worked.
Kyle came into the kitchen freshly showered and dressed, his hair still wet. He made a bee-line for the coffee. “Morning, sunshine. What are us guinea pigs trying this morning?” he askes his son-in-law to be.
“Shit if I know, Kaleb taught me it. It’s an eggs and potato surprise mixture.” Sage shrugged his shoulder while pulling out a loaf of bread to toast.
“Hmm, sounds yum. Thank you for making breakfast. Can I help with anything?” Kyle asked taking a tentative sip of his coffee, then blowing over the top of it.
“Oh yeah, that’s some fancy vanilla bean infused coffee that Kaleb told me to try,” Sage said nonchalantly.
Thundering footsteps on the stairs catching their attention, Sage was bent over looking through the glass on the oven, he popped up like a meerkat at the sound.
“Uh… back in a sec. I’m just going to–” Sage pointed and hot tailed it out of the kitchen yelling over his shoulder at Kyle. “Keep an eye on the oven, Dad!”
Kyle frowned waiting to see who was in a hurry.
“Where the hell is that mother–” Blu screeched coming into the kitchen like his ass was on fire holding a plastic diaper bag with a dirty load in it.
“Hey, whoa, watch the language babe. What’s going on?” Kyle asked putting his coffee on the counter stepping back to put some distance between him and the smell.
“That dirty son-of-a–” Blu stated angrily with Kyle cutting him off again, his husband’s hands moving wildly as he spoke, he did his best to dodge the swinging dirty pooh bag.
“Dude, language and stop swinging that offensive odor-de-toilette around.” Kyle’s face scrunched up, waving his hand in front of his face to try and dispel the package of sewage.
“Where.Did.He.Go?” Blu iterated through clenched teeth.
“Who?” Link walked in carrying Noah who scrunched his little nose and blew bubbles at his Grampy.
Grampy now with a new focus, flicked the dirty bag at Kyle, who’s only reaction was to catch it; because that’s what you do when someone throws something at you, started gagging. Blu didn’t even notice as he stole his grandson away with a growl. “Tell your poppa that if he leaves anymore dirty presents for grampy he’s going to lose an appendage that your daddy loves dearly,” Blu baby talked at Noah, “Yes, he is, then you’ll have a mommy and a daddy. That’s right!” the latter said giving Lincoln a filthy look, pointing at him. “Your beau left a present on my nightstand, my son, and there will be retribution. Mark my words Link.” Blu shook his head, then kissed Noah on the forehead talking to him again. “That’s right little man, your poppy is going down.”
“Dad, make Pop stop, in some weird way I think Noah just got the birds and the bees talk,” Link had a tremor at the thought of his son needing such a discussion.
“Babe,” Kyle admonished Blu then sighed at not being able to get the man’s attention. He gestured at the newly reacquainted couple then said to Lincoln, “Son, this has to stop.”
“Sage, if a diaper is stuffed in, under or anywhere around our bedroom,” Lincoln ranted, “you will be cleaning the room from top to bottom by yourself.”
Sage wandered back in with a shit-eating smirk on his face laying his hand on Blu’s shoulder, “Sorry Grampy. Noah thought the stink warfare game was fun didn’t you buddy,” He cooed over his future father-in-law’s shoulder looking at Noah.
Blu hmpfed and shook Sage’s hand off his shoulder, “You’ll get yours, my pretty, now piss off.”
“Oh,” Sage laughed, “I’m shaking Pop.” He walked over to the oven looking at the dish, “Just to make you feel better Pop you can have the first helping of breakfast.” He stated as he pulled the dish out placing it on the hot pad on the island.
“Fine. Smells good whatever it is,” Blu mumbled. “Has anyone seen Cody this morning?”
“He’s out back playin’ catch with Jonathan,” Sage said as he scooped a portion out of the casserole dish for Blu.
Eyeing the breakfast skeptically, Blu picked up his fork to try some as Lincoln yelled out the sliding door, “Breakfast is ready, hurry up.”
Cody rushed in holding a hand out behind him keeping Jonathan at bay, “I need me some goodness little bro, Pop already started on the food. And that’s no fair, I was down here when Sage was prepping it.”
Clicking his fingers at remembering, Sage quickly went back to the oven to grab the crumbed garlic mushrooms. “Here, he said putting them on the counter. Help yourselves, I hope it’s okay.” He glanced over at Blu biting his bottom lip hoping the man like it. A giggle bubbled out a laugh when he saw Blu digging into his breakfast with one hand like a homeless person with his first meal in days.
Jonathan watched his dad with big eyes, “Cody, hurry up I need to get food Pop might eat it all.” He shoved his older brother trying to grab a plate for himself.
Kyle chuckled while smacking away the hands. “Settle down. Sage made enough for everyone.” He laughed at the pouting faces of his two youngest. He handed them both a plate and had Sage dish them enough for a first-round on their plates. He let Sage and Lincoln grab a plate before getting his own and sitting at the table. Blu had already finished and was snuggling with Noah giving longing glances over at the casserole dish.
“See,” Jonathan huffed. “Pop’s gonna eat it all Dad.”
Kyle just laughed knowing surely Blu would. He loved his food, and if he liked something there wouldn’t be any left for anyone else. “Eat up, little one. Big day today, you’re gonna need your energy.” Kyle tapped his fork on Jonathan’s plate. “Let me worry about pop and his ever-growing butt.”
“Hey!” Blu retorted loudly scaring Noah into crying. “Shit,” he gave Kyle a filthy look. “See? See what your hurtful words do.” He stood walking away trying to soothe Noah as he went with an apology.
Later that evening as Kyle dished out ice cream with Kaleb’s homemade caramel sauce as dessert, Cody sat with a smile. “Guy’s I didn’t tell you where Dad and I went earlier,” the teen said calmly. “Well, today was my check-up for leukemia. It’s been a long time in coming but Doctor Keener said I won’t need another one for at least five years because I’m a normal healthy teenager.” Cody laughed as he said the normal teenager part, “He even said I am gaining the proper amount of weight. So, Sage more breakfasts like today are good with me.”
“Wow, congrats bro,” Lincoln stated with brotherly love. “You know how much we love you.”
Cody’s cheeks got a pink tinge to them, “thanks, ya I do.”
“Cody you don’t wanna get fat,” Jonathan said playfully. “I think I should eat your ice cream.”
Sage laughed at the young boy, “I wanna see you take that spoon from him, I’m afraid you may lose a hand as Cody sucks that food down.”
Kyle laughed, “Be nice. Link, would you and Sage mind picking your brothers up from the airport in two hours?”
Lincoln looked at Sage giving him a shrug, “we could give Noah his bath early and the car ride would put him to sleep.”
“Sounds fine to me,” Sage said before licking the last drop of caramel that was in his bowl off of his spoon.
“You better take the Escalade, god knows how much crap they brought home with them.” Blu smiled. “Hey, if they have that damn cat with them, leave ‘em at the airport.”
A roar of laughter erupted around the table, over the mention of Scarlett.
Sage sat in the driver's seat rolling his eyes at his partner, while Link played some little kids cartoon for Noah, even though the boy was still too small to understand it and he was also asleep. “Who enjoys the cartoons more Babe?” Sage asked as he wheeled the Escalade into the arrivals parking area where Brody had texted them to meet.
“Hush, you’ll interrupt Noah.” Link whispered quietly.
“Here they come,” Sage said, pointing out the windshield. “Kinda cool of them to do that so we didn’t have to drag poor Noah around out in the cool night air.”
“Dammit the cartoon isn’t over,” Link pouted.
“Dear, god,” Sage mumbled, rolling his eyes at his beloved.
Brody opened the door and Spartan hopped in heading to check on Noah. Levi crawled in hefting his new rucksack in with him, “thanks for picking us up,” he said at normal voice level, “oops, sorry, I forgot Noah goes to sleep so early.”
Lincoln quickly made sure Noah hadn’t woken up but he was sleeping like the dead. He waved his hand dismissively at Levi. “All good, he’s still sleeping.” He smiled. “How was the trip?”
“Oh, it was enlightening,” Brody said with a huge smile.
“Ya, Pop’s gonna shit a golden twinky,” Levi chuckled.
Link gasped a little too loudly shaking his head. “She better not be pregnant, because if she is, we’re moving out. No way I want to be there for that shit storm.”
“Nope.” Levi shook his head. “Not pregnant. Tracy, Bella’s roommate isn’t the feminine Tracy you might expect.”
Link and Sage glanced at each other for a moment looking confused. “Transgender?” Sage asked.
“OH.MY.GOD!” Brody laughed.
Levi had tears running down his cheeks, “Way… way… better Tracy is a dude.”
“Huh?” Sage elegantly asked.
“Like he’s six-foot-four-inches tall and has broad shoulders and plays on the college hockey team,” Brody was stating as his hands spread to the width of Tracy’s shoulders.
“Pretty cute too!” Levi stated, “I wouldn’t trade you for anything though Brody.”
Brody grinned, “I would… probably not, he’s hot as fuck Link. I’m talking a walking wet dream. He kept eyeing off my man. I think he’s a little bi-curious, but he did tell us he’s straight.”
“No shit,” Sage nodded his head full of amusement. “Yep. Pop will be dragging a shotgun to Cali.”
“Don’t say anything to Pop. Bella made us promise to keep it a secret,” Levi stated with fondness. “She helped me to think about what our future could be like. I’m gonna look into some stuff,” he shrugged his shoulders.
At midnight Levi, woke up with a dry throat and went downstairs to get some water for him and Brody, he assumed that his boyfriend would need one too. All the recycled air on the plane was irritating his throat so it only made sense that it would for the other.
Kyle was sitting at the breakfast table with a mug of hot cocoa going through some paperwork. He looked up to see his son. “Hey, buddy, couldn’t sleep?”
“Got a dry throat from the flight,” Levi said, grabbing a couple of bottles of water and sat down. He put the waters on the table along with his phone he didn’t even remember grabbing. He cleared his throat biting his lip contemplating telling his dad.
“Just spit it out,” Kyle said with a chuckle.
“I, um. I don’t want to betray Bella, but I think you need the heads up for when the shit hits the fan.” Levi leaned back in his chair to make sure no one else was around.
“Pops, down for the count. Continue,” Kyle said, motioning with his hand to hurry along.
Levi took a deep breath, picked up his phone and flicked through his photos from the trip. He found one of Tracy, then slid it over to his dad. “That’s Tracy.”
“Nice lookin’ kid. Should I know him?” Kyle asked curiously. “You didn’t cheat on Brody, right?”
“Fuck no,” he gasped, then looked sheepish, “sorry, dad. But hell no, I would never even be tempted to cheat on Brody.” He then chuckled. “I’m sure Brody wouldn’t mind the guy joining us though.”
“Well, it’s nice you made a friend while you guys were in California.” Kyle took another sip from his cup.
“Ah, yeah sure, friend.” Levi cleared his throat again. “Dad, do you remember the names of Bella’s roommates?”
“Huh. Uh… Stacy or something like that and I don’t remember. I can wake Pop up and ask him,” Kyle stated as he scratched the back of his head.
“Holy hell,” Levi almost yelled, “do not do that.” He was almost panting from the panic, Spartan nudged Levi with his nose until he got his attention. Without a thought, he started petting the dog and it was calming his down almost immediately. “Dad, this Tracy,” he pointed to the picture, “is Bella’s six-foot-four, hockey stick-wielding, Norwegian god of a very, very, very male roommate.” He shook his head dramatically. “Pop is gonna lose it. I promise we tried to get her to at least tell you, but she insisted they were just friends and it didn’t matter.” He gave his pop a stern look. “They aren’t just friends dad, I’m telling you now. The way he looks at her, it’s like she hung the moon or some shit.”
“Oh. Fuck no,” Kyle sat up straighter in his chair. “Your Pop will murder the kid. You’ve seen how poor Sage was treated, and that kid wasn’t hiding the truth from him.”
“Can you get me and Brody an apartment, far, far, away?” Levi asked, almost serious.
“I don’t wanna tell him. Bella will break his heart,” Kyle stated worriedly.
“Not if she comes clean and tells pop. Maybe we should all work on her to bring him home for Thanksgiving or Christmas so pop can actually meet him instead of getting blindsided with it. I mean if the guy comes to you and pop, it’s gotta count for something, right?” Levi asked hopefully. “Plus, trust me the guy could kill pop with one arm and leg tied behind his back. Not that I think he would, I got the impression he doesn’t even know that pop doesn’t know he’s a guy.”
“We’ll see. Oh god, why don’t kids come with instruction manuals?” Kyle muttered.
Sage sat at the dining room table writing away in a new binder, it was a children’s story for his new creative writing class. The characters he had imagined thanks to the damn cartoon Link claims that Noah likes. He created Penelope the pig, Booger the hound, and Cranky the rooster. He snickered as he dreamt up a part of the storyline using some of Blu’s moodiness as inspiration. Cranky’s hen’s chick had given birth and it was a dirty little thing and Booger had the nerve to tell Cranky how filthy his grand-chick was. “The nerve of you Booger. Just who names a bloodhound Booger?” Cranky asked the droopy looking dog.
“Whatcha doing, future dead guy?” Blu asked.
Sage smiled, “Workin’ on my creative writing assignment. It’s a children’s short story,” shrugging his shoulders, “that damn cartoon Link likes and blames it on Noah inspired me.”
“Oh, that’s cool.” Blu grabbed a mug and filled it with the ready percolated coffee. “Can I have a read?”
“Uh, sure.” Sage slid the binder over toward Blu. He waited with bated breath as pop read through the story, watching as Blu’s forehead crease got deeper and deeper. He eventually slid the binder back to Sage and grunted as he drank his coffee.
“So… What did you think Pop?” Sage asked reluctantly waiting to hear Blu’s brutal-no-holds-barred truth.
The older man drank a few mouthfuls of his coffee pensively, seeming to select the words he wanted to say. He eventually leaned forward rested his forearms on the table then sighed. “Can I be honest, or did you want a version of the truth?”
“Truth?” Sage’s adam’s apple bobbed as he gulped a breath of air.
“There’s nothing wrong with it…” Blu trailed off.
“But? There’s a but, right?” Sage asked.
Blu sighed. “There is a but, but I also don’t know what demographic you were going for, what you want to achieve with it. What age group?”
“Toddler?” Sage stated tentatively.
“Hmm, well then there’s a big but. The writing is too sophisticated. I’m not saying dumb it down but with a kids book you want to use the ‘less is more’ approach. Keep the language simpler. The story is funny, for adults and for kids. Narrate the story simply so the kids can follow along and leave the rest to the images and pictures. Nan can help you with that. Also, you want to make them use their imagination. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good. But you’re a smart guy who can hold very adult conversations.” Blu looked over at a very discouraged Sage. “How can I explain this differently? Okay, write this story as if you’d bought it and were reading it to Noah. He wouldn’t have a clue what you were saying, right?”
Sage reached down pulling a sketch pad out of his bag and sliding it across to Blu, “these are the what I thought the characters would be like.” Penelope the pig was actually a potbellied pig that was mostly black with small blotches of white coloring on her sides and wore a big pink colored bow around her neck. Booger fit the image of a bloodhound except for the smushed in nose that truly dripped boogers. Cranky was an unusual looking rooster his feathers were a baby blue coloring and his comb was a vibrant royal blue coloring.
“Wow, these are cool.” He gave Sage a scowly glance. “Don’t think I don’t know who you based the rooster after either, young fella.”
“I uh… Cranky is cute and protective,” Sage said with no malice. “I mean, ugh, I get it. You were cranky with me at first, but you did it with love protecting what is yours.”
“Ha,” Blu scoffed as he got up from the table. “Flatter me all you want kiddo, I ain’t making sweet love to ya,” he said in a really bad southern accent as he left the room and called over his shoulder. “Try another draft, I’ll take another look.”
“Maybe it should be for five-year-olds,” Sage shouted at Blu’s back.
“Try it again, Sage. You can do it.” Blu went upstairs to find his husband.
“Okay, Cranky,” Sage muttered under his breath to himself.
Lincoln was snuggled up with Sage late one night, his head laying upon Sage’s chest while they both read the newest parenting book they had gotten online. It told them of different parenting techniques and different forms of discipline. Some of the forms of discipline seemed rather outlandish, and others were just straight up bizarre.
“Oh my god, my mom when she wasn’t passed out used to make Levi and me stand in the corner. Our noses had to touch the crease in the wall,” Lincoln stated.
Sage sighed, “My parents didn’t give a damn. I remember my dad shouting, ‘Keep your gay ass away from decent godly people.” Taking a deep breath he then said, “I just want Noah to know we will love him no matter what.”
Lincoln gasped, “But he’s not gonna act like Kassidy, I love her and Noah, but he’ll be grounded until he graduates college if he tries her crap.”
Sage chuckled and kissed the top of Link’s head.
“Your brothers,” Tracy’s English was a bit broken but understandable and Bella loved it and deep down both had feelings for the other, “they were quite nice.”
Bella giggled, shrugging her shoulder. “They’re okay, but you met two of the good ones.”
“Oh? They’re more?” Tracy asked.
“There are four more. Levi has a twin, Lincoln, his boyfriend lives there too. His name is Sage. Nice guy. My pop’s not a huge fan, but they get along okay now. Then I have two more younger brothers, Cody, and Jonathan. Jonathan is my pop’s biological son and Cody was adopted like the rest of us.” She smiled fondly thinking of her family.
“You’re Dads’ house. It must be zoo? Yes?” Tracy asked with a true interest in Bella’s life.
She plated their dinner and shooed Tracy to sit at the dining room table. “Sometimes, but it’s calm most of the time until the rest of the family come over. Then, yes, definitely a zoo.” Bella laughed thinking of all the wonderful trouble makers amongst them.
“I was only child my momma couldn’t have more after I came along,” Tracy said with much appreciation, “she had what you call complications.”
“I’m sorry, that must have been lonely. I can’t imagine not having my brothers. I would never have survived.” Bella clammed up excusing her self from the table for a quick minute to gather herself. She didn’t know why she was upset. The topic hadn’t bothered her for a long time. Sharing her former life with this beautiful man made her uncomfortable. What would he think of her?
“Bells, elskede, I did something to upset you?” the Norwegian asked overflowing with concern.
“I’m fine,” she said through the door, “I’ll be out in a minute.”
“Elskede, please come out. I can hear you cry, please.” The man pleaded with her. She slowly unlocked the bathroom door trying to put a smile on her face, but he saw right through it gathering her in his arms. He enveloped her with his massive body holding her tight. He laid little kisses to the top of her head whispering apologies in his native language. Bella had never felt so cared for in her entire life. This man was going to ruin her. She knew it, without a doubt. They’d either end up married or become bitter heartbroken enemies. Bella hoped for the former, even if her pop was gonna shit a brick when he found out about the beautiful man living at the house.
That is your next installment, we hope you enjoyed it. Remember to leave a reaction and any thoughts you might have as comments are also appreciated.