Christmas Eve, alone and wasting my time at the pub down the road from work when the guy walking in I note is definitely my type. Tall, blond, blue eyed, a white-collar worker and older than me - perfect. I tell myself I need one more drink and I won't be too shy to talk to him. Well, it isn't so much being shy but anxious about how I will be received. Men, I've met in the past often blamed my occupation for the reason our relationships broke down. The younger men mostly, which was why I'd grown conscious of approaching men. Men approaching me were never a problem once I had their attention.
From my peripheral vision I see the good-looking man still making his way to the bar through the crowd. My perfect spot at the bar is only because I finished work at lunchtime and been at the pub ever since. I get the attention of the bartender and giving his a ten-dollar bill; I point out the man making his way over. "When he orders his drink, I'll pay for it." The bartender nods and makes his way back along the bar.
I watch the man reach the bar and as he leans over to order his drink, I watch the bartender make it and hand it too him. As the man reaches inside his wallet to pay the bartender points as he tells him it is my shout. He looks my way surprised and holding the glass to salute me I lift my glass and salute him back. And then I blush, blaming it on the alcohol already consumed.
When our eye contact breaks, I go back to looking in to my glass. I consider another drink but decide against it. I should head home but I'm not ready to face my empty apartment. Contemplating my situation I feel a tap on my shoulder and looking behind me I see the man I've bought the drink for. I move to one side and he pushes in to be standing close. He puts his drink on the bar next to mine, then leans in and says, "Thank you for the drink, I'm Grant Sinclair."
Because of the noise I'm left with no choice but to lean into Grant, and say, "Hi, I'm Harold Wallis but my friends call me Harry."
Before I lean back Grant pinches the front of my shirt and stops me from pulling back to says, "It's nice to meet you Harry."
He lets go off my shirt and I move back never taking my eyes from his. They are beautiful.
I turn back to my drink and finishing the last of it I put the glass back on the bar.
Grant leans over again, and says, "Let me buy you a drink."
I nod and Grant indicates for the bartender to come over and leaning forward says, "Another drink here please."
The bar tender gives me the same drink I've been drinking all afternoon and I watch Grant pay for it. We say nothing while we both drink our drinks.
We are still facing each other, both of us leaning against the bar and Grant leans over and says, "Been here long?"
"Since lunch time, which explains the great spot at the bar."
"A superb spot. It's cooler here than out there."
"Really. I haven't moved since I got here. Probably a good thing too."
We both laugh and the ice seems to be broken.
"So what do you do for a living?" Grant asks me.
I cringe at his question and he laughs and says, "It can't be that bad."
I smile, "No, not really. I'm a psychiatrist."
"Nothing wrong with that."
I look at him and without meaning too I burst out laughing.
"Sorry." I say as I compose myself.
Grant laughs with me, and says, "Don't apologise. I guess you get many people dumping their problems on you?"
"I don't mind really but my past partners have been able to find this as the reason our relationships go bad."
Grant frowns, "Can't imagine why that would happen."
I shake my head, "Me neither."
I take a sip of my drink and place the glass back down feeling more relax in Grant's company.
"What do you do for a living, Grant?"
"A pen pusher I'm afraid for an insurance company. I tell people my job is to file the paper work."
"I bet no one does it as good as you," I tell him.
Grant gives me a big smile and I can't help smiling back.
"So tell me more about yourself Harry?"
"Let see. I'm thirty-two. Single. My practice is a few blocks from here. Both my parents are dead. I have a sister ten years older than me with two teenage children. They live overseas so I don't see them often but I talk to Jerry regularly. And I have a cat named Sassy."
"What made you become a psychiatrist?" Grant asks.
At this point we both finished our drinks and I indicate to the bartender for other two drinks.
"Sounds cliché but my dad was a psychiatrist. I never intended to follow in his footsteps but he developed Alzheimer's and it really impacted my family. My mum had me when she was thirty-nine and dad was forty-two and by the time I got to the end of high school and had to decide on a major I went with psychiatry because of my dad."
I pay for the drinks after they arrive, and Grant says, "Life has a way of guiding us down a path we might not consider if the circumstances had been different."
"Here's to that." I reply. "So tell me about yourself?"
He laughs and says, "My life is complicated."
"If you don't want to talk about it, that's all right."
Grant drinks down half his drink and looking at me he raises an eyebrow and says, "I'm forty. I broke up with my partner of eleven years six months ago. Actually, he walked out and tonight is the first time going out anywhere alone. My family threatened to set me up on a blind date if I didn't get out of the house and meet people, so here I am."
I laugh, "You have to love family. They always think they know what's best."
"Especially mine," Grant tells me.
"Do you have a big family?" I ask.
"You could say that. My parents are divorced. My dad wasn't too happy his only son turned out gay but my mum really got into it. She can be rather embarrassing but I don't know what I would do without her. We have many friends we consider family."
"I'm jealous," I tell him.
Grant leans closer than necessary and says, "I would be happy to introduce you to them if you would be interest in getting to know me better."
I lift my hand and pull at the front of his shirt, no one can see the intimacy in our interaction, and say, "I would definitely be interested. Actually would it be to much to impose myself on you tomorrow."
Grant pulls back his expression is one of reservation and uncertainty.
He gives a forced laugh and says, "You really want to jump in feet first."
I immediately sense his discomfort and shrug it off by saying, "I don't want to wake up Christmas morning alone again but if you want to swap telephone numbers and catch up after Christmas, that would be fine."
I finish my drink, silently cursing my forwardness. Only been in Grant's company for no more than twenty minutes and already I'm inviting myself over for Christmas Day. I’m desperate or in love.
"I would like to get to know you better Harry but I'm not sure if I'm ready for anything too serious right now."
"I understand. I didn't mean to pressure you."
"Another one." Grant asks me and I shake me head no. I'd had enough alcohol in the five hours I'd been there.
"I should be get back to Sassy, she'll be wondering where I am."
Grant gives me a sad look and putting my hand on his arm, I say, "I'll give you my number and when you're ready, please call me."
"Thank you. How about we head outside then?"
I nod and picking up my coat at my feet I drape it over my arm and follow Grant out of the pub. While against the bar for the last seven hours I had no idea how hot it was away from the bar. With far too many people making far too much noise, a sudden rush of dizziness fills my head. I reach out and grab the back of Grant's jacket, and he looks back at me and seeing my state, reaches out taking hold of my arm. He pulls me too him guiding us out the building.
Once outside the sun low on the horizon blinds me and the sudden intake of fresh air makes me dizzy and I stagger, almost falling.
"Are you all right, Harry?"
I try to steady myself as Grant's arm comes around my waist.
"I think my body is complaining about the number of drinks I've had today. Should have eaten earlier."
"Hang on, I'll call you a taxi."
I wrap my arm around Grant's waist as my head spins. I try to apologise as Grant pulls me towards the taxi. He opens the door for me, guides me in and as I fall across the seat, my vision blackens before I pass out.
"Come on sleeping beauty, we've here."
"Mmmmm, I've never been referred to as sleeping beauty before."
I let Grant help me out the taxi and I stumble. I'm guessing he has somehow got my address from my wallet and I'm grateful he's helping me inside. But as the taxi drives off I pull myself up straight and stare at the departing vehicle. Does that mean Grant is coming back to my place? I can only hope. I’m still unsteady on my feet and now a little embarrassed at my condition.
“I rarely drink enough to make me this inebriated. Sorry for the trouble.”
“If it weren’t for the incoherent babbling about being the love of your life in the taxi, I might have thought you did this deliberately.”
“Oh no. I didn’t. I mean. No. I can call the cab back.”
Aghast at the thought I would do such a thing I’m about to protest my innocence when I realize the place we are standing in front of is not my own. I glance towards the drive Grant is now standing in and say, “"This isn't where I live."
"I know. This is where I live."
"Oh," I say. "I'm sorry."
Grant gives a chuckle. “You slept the entire way. Come on, you can stay here the night.”
Grant moves forward and sensing my reluctances says, “I took pity on you. You’re welcome to join me for Christmas tomorrow but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
I step forward. “Warn me. What about?”
“You’ll see. Come on.”
Grant doesn’t continue until I’m beside him and together we walk towards the front door of the house. It’s dark now, although still early in the evening, and from what I can see of the house it looks early Victorian. High pitched tin roof, large porch and lead-light windows. He guides me to the front of his house and leads me inside.
Everything from the smell of the house, the worn polished floors and the litter of clothes dotted along the long hallway tells me Grant's house is a home. At the end of the house the light from what appeared to be a television flickered through the open doorway reflecting against the glassed pictures on the wall.
Before we made our way towards the end of the house, Grant indicated the door to our right and we made our way in.
"My bedroom. The bathroom is in there if you want to freshen up. I'll be back in a moment."
I don't know what to say because I feel guilty I've forced him to take me home. Grant leaves the room and closes the door behind him. I survey the sparse bedroom containing only a single piece of furniture. A king size bed; neat and well placed against the far wall between the windows and bathroom. A small beige oval mat at the end of the bed is the only other item in the room.
The bathroom, I discover, contains a walk in robe and the need to shower is almost too much to refuse given the large alcove of beige tiles appears inviting. Instead, I freshen up determined to get Grant to call me a taxi and go home. Back in the bedroom I sit on the edge of the bed and wait. I glance at my watch to see what time it is but my eyes refuse to focus on the small face. I search out a digital clock but don't see one and feeling weary, I lay down. I tell myself if I listen carefully I might hear Grant’s return before he founds me. I'm tempted to find him but my body becomes more and more relaxed and before Grant gets back, I'm asleep.
During the night nauseous wakes me and I seek the bathroom. Grant follows me in and standing nearby makes sure I’m right before leading me back to the bed. He climbs back in with me and I curl up against him. I’ll blame it on the alcohol in the morning but I need his warm body next to me. He lifts his arm and pulls me too him and I lay my head against his shoulder and go back to sleep.
The bed moving brings me back to consciousness. Although, it isn't someone getting out of the bed, rather more like a pet climbing up. I lay still waiting for the creature to come up and investigate my face at the same time hoping it won't lick me. Sassy knows better than to lick my face, she’s content to lie on my bed when she gets the chance too. I raise my hand to my face and a sudden pain rushes to my head and I moan. There’s scuffling near the middle of the bed and I've frightened what ever it is that's there. My head hurts and thinking out loud, I say, "My head is about to explode."
There’s a squeal before a pillow is thrown over my head. This surprises me and I carefully move my hand from my face and lie still. Then a soft young voice says, "Has his head exploded yet?"
I smile to myself. It's not a pet but a child and more than one by the sounds of it.
"I don't think so." Came the other voice sounding as young.
I smile to myself and not sure where the children have come from and wondering if they might be Grant's, I say, "You saved me with that pillow. Thank you."
The bed moves and the pillow rises from my face. I'm met with the bluest eyes of the cutest little boy I've seen. He gives me a big smile, his blond hair, messy from sleep and still in his pyjamas, takes me aback. He returns to where he was sitting next to not one but two other little people identical to him. Triplets. Now this surprises me. The other two, a boy and girl, stare at me with their big blue eyes and blonde bed hair and I want to go 'awww' - they are so cute.
"Why are you in our dad's bed?" The girl asks.
I lean up on my elbow towards all three children. I would say they were around four years of age and not sure what I should tell them, I lie.
"In your dad's bed you say." I glance around the room and study it. Yes, I was in the room I remember coming to the night before.
"Well, this is interesting," I tell them.
All three children are sitting on their knees looking at me, waiting for my answer.
"Well, you see. I was at home, getting ready for bed when I heard this noise in my kitchen. I went to investigate and wham, someone hit me on the back of the head and before I realized it I was stuff into this really big red sack and that's all I can remember."
The children's faces are priceless and when I finish speaking they glance at each other as if sharing a secret together.
The boy who pulled the pillow from my head, says, "He must be a present for dad do you think."
The other two nod in agreement and glance at me as if I should agree with them.
"I asked Santa for a family for Christmas," I tell them.
The faces of the three children light up and then from down the hall, foot steps. Suddenly, I'm being pushed down, and the covers thrown over my head. I have no idea what is going on as three little bodies climb on top of me.
"What is going on here. I told you three to go get dressed before breakfast and presents."
"But dad Santa bought another present. This one is for you."
Again I want to go 'awww' these little cuties are adorable.
Grand replies, "For me." And before I realize what is going on all three children jump off me and rip the bedding back leaving me lying there in my boxer shorts.
"Shhhhhh... ivers," I say, sitting up and looking at Grant, "That could have turned out awkward."
Grant laughs and the other little boy comes up and putting his little hand on my shoulder says with a lisp in his voice, "Thanta got him for uth dad."
Grant lifts his eyebrows, coming into the room to stand next to the bed, looking down at all four of us. "For all of us."
The boy nods and the other boy responds, "He wished for a family and Santa stuff him in his sack and bought him too us."
Grant looks at me and I hold my hands up and say, "I swear it's true."
Grant laughs and says, "My present might like to shower and get dressed before breakfast. Why don't you three come with me and get dressed too."
The children climb down from the bed and all leave the room but not before turning to wave. I give an enthusiastic wave back.
“Was that the warning last night?’ I ask.
“Yes. Thought it wise to not say anything. I’m sorry.”
"Don't be sorry, they're adorable. Triplets right."
"Yes, surrogate mother."
"Very much so. Why don't you shower and borrow anything of mine, then join us for breakfast."
Grant goes to leave, but as I go to get up dizziness unsteadies me and I call out. Grant returns and holding my arm, says, "Slowly, I guessed you drank a little too much yesterday."
"Yeah, not one of my finer moments. Thank you for not taking me back to my place."
"Well, I had a vicious fight with myself in the taxi but I guess I didn't want to wake up alone on Christmas morning either."
I smile. "Grant, your children are adorable and it doesn't bother me you have a family. It makes me want to learn more about you and I'm not saying that from a professional point of view."
Grant looks at me for a moment then lets out a small laugh. "I forgot for a minute then what you do for a living. Don't worry I intend to get to know you better. Wasn't planning for it to move this fast."
"Sorry," I say.
"You keep apologizing when you don't need too. Go get yourself ready and I'll go get the triplets dressed."
The bathroom was every man's dream. Large white tiles, trimmed with black, adorned the floor and walls. The large shower took up one side of the room with the toilet and vanity on the other side. I step under the large shower rose and the strong water pressure washes away any aches I have. Reluctant to leave the shower, I dry my self and making my way to the bedroom wrapped in the towel. I search through drawers and cupboards until I find clean boxers, jeans and a nice t-shirt to wear. Grant wasn't wrong when he said we were similar sizes as me and I admire the fact we also have similar taste in clothing.
A part of me feels weird wearing another man’s clothes but I put it from my mind as I step out into the long corridor and listen. I can't hear any voices and I begin walking towards to an end of the corridor. The pictures I saw the night before are now more enjoyable knowing they are created by Grant's children. I can't help being distracted by them. The corridor opens into an open kitchen, dining, and living area. Glass doors run the length of the room overlooking the beautiful green garden. I walk over to the doors and look out and I'm impressed because now I remember the front yard and that Grant likes to work in the garden. He takes pride in his gardens. From behind me I hear little feet coming into the room and looking around Grant is herding the triplets towards me. I smile at him and he gives me a sheepish smile back.
"Harry, let me introduce you. This is Holly, Gabriel and Lincoln."
I step forward and kneeling down to their level I take Holly's hand, place a small kiss on the back of it, and say, "It is a pleasure to meet you, Holly."
I turn to Gabriel and meaning to shake his hand he holds his hand out instead like I was holding Holly's and so I kissed the top of his hand, and say, "Pleasure to meet you Gabriel."
I turned to Lincoln, and he too holds his hand out the same as the other two and so kissing the top of his hand, I say, "A pleasure to meet you, Lincoln."
"Merry Christmas, Harry," all three children chine and I cringe at the sound as I stand. My head is still recovering.
"Merry Christmas to you all too." I reply.
Grant smiles. “Merry Christmas, Harry."
"Thank you," I tell him.
The children chant Merry Christmases to each other and too me and their father and Grant calls us all to the table for breakfast. The children run to the table eager to eat so they can open their presents. Grant places his arm around my shoulders leading me to the table, and says, "Sorry I didn’t mentioned anything last night."
"Don’t be, so far this has been the best Christmas morning I've had in a while. Minus the headache would be good. And a few extras hours of sleep would have been nice; with you beside me would have been even better, but this is nice."
"Well, you would get knocked out by Santa and stuffed in his sack." Grant says it with a soft laugh and I smile. The fact we met the night before makes being as comfortable as I am rather strange.
At the table I sit next to Lincoln and opposite me is Gabriel and next to him sits Holly. Grant brings over a plate of warm pancakes and setting plates out for the five of us we help ourselves. There are several toppings on the table for the pancakes and I watch the children pick and choose their favourites. Gabriel has trouble choosing and I tell him, "Have you ever tried lemon and sugar on your pancakes." He looks at me and shakes his head.
"That wouldn't be very nice," Holly says.
"But it is," I tell them.
The children all pull faces and I shrug my shoulders.
"If you like lemonth Harry thath's all right."
"Thank you Gabriel. But I will have syrup this morning."
"We love syrup," Holly tells me.
"Dad likes syrup and Daddy likes peanut butter," Lincoln says.
The children all pull faces and Gabriel quietly says, 'Peanut butter, thath yuck."
I look at Grant who looks forlorn and because he's at the end of the table I'm not able to lean over and hold his hand and reassure him everything is fine. I give him a small nod and he attempts to smile.
I turn to Gabriel and ask, "I can’t help be notice your accent, Gabriel."
Everyone goes quiet and Gabriel appears to sink into his chair. Have I said the wrong thing, surely the boy doesn't have a complex about his lisp.
"I can’t quite pick it though," I go on. "It could be elf but I don't think it is. Definitely not troll, you look to pretty to be a troll." Holly giggles.
"Definitely not fairy, maybe..." I glance up and think about it and then clicking my fingers say, "I know what it is."
By this time I not only have Gabriel looking at me with big eyes but all four family members are watching.
"Pixie. Yes, you definitely have pixie blood in you. It's very obvious now I think about it."
"Really," Gabriel asks leaning against the table staring at me.
"Sure. It’s strong at the moment because you are still little but as you grow it will become more subtle and pixie blood is always at its strongest when you are young."
Gabriel's face is beautiful, he's got the biggest smile on his face and next to me Lincoln says, "Does that mean I have pixie blood too."
I glance at Lincoln, and say, "Let me look at you."
I lift me hand to his face and move his little head back and forth making like I'm studying him. He's looking very serious and I want to hug him; he’s that cute. I turn to Holly and then back at Lincoln.
"Well, you all look like pixies."
"But why don’t I speak like Gabriel," Lincoln asks. "Daddy always says Gabriel has a speaking problem."
I quickly glance at Grant and I see the sadness in his eyes although he is trying not to look sad in front of his children. I wait for Grant should he want to say anything, but he doesn't. I guess I got myself into this I had to get myself out.
"Pixie blood is stronger in some children than other. Tell me which of you was born first."
Lincoln put his hand up. "And Holly was second," I ask and she nods.
"There you have it. Gabriel got the pixie accent because he was born last. Last born always have the toughest job being born and so they have to develop inner strength to survive and that's why Gabriel has the accent and you both don't."
"Gabriel almost died when he was born," Holly pipes up and Gabriel nods his head.
"That makes you one special child," I say matter-of-factly, going back to my pancake.
Lincoln kneels up on his chair, and says, "Do you hear that Gabriel, you got pixie speak because you didn't die."
Gabriel turns to his father and says, "Ith that twue Dad."
I look over at Grant and he looks at me then at his children before looking at Gabriel, and says, "I've never heard this story but it sound like it might be true."
"Doth that mean I don’t hath to go to the doctorth no more?"
"Anymore," Grant corrects Gabriel looking at him but not looking at him. He is lost in his own thoughts and I feel rather bad for interfering.
We are all looking at Grant and then his eyes refocused and he blinks and looks at Gabriel, who is still staring at his father, says, "You know if you are part pixie than I don’t see a need to keep sending you to the doctors. We should ask grandma this evening when she comes for dinner. She is the expert on all things magical."
The children all get excited, then Grant says, "All right now let’s finish breakfast so we can open presents."
Which gets the children more excited. I laugh at them and then looking back over at Grant, I mouth, "Sorry."
He shakes his head and mouths back, "It's fine."
We finish eating and Grant sends the kids off the wash their faces and hands before coming back to open presents. I help him clean up and immediately apologise again once the children are out of the room.
"I'm sorry, Grant, I over stepped there at the table.”
"No that's fine. You’ve seem children like Gabriel."
"No adults. They've been bullied a lot during their lifetime and sometimes it’s hard to reprogram their thinking or get them to seek help. But for children this young you don’t want them feeling insecure about how they sound or look as it will cause social, emotional and mental problems, as they get older. Better to wait until they're ready to tackle it themselves and then get help. And with a lisp, there is treatment but if the patient is having difficulty responding it can become worse for them; fearing the treatment rather than the condition. If Gabriel is seeing a specialist, give him a break and if he's not prepared to go back to that one, seek another specialist. The important thing is to discuss with him his options and help him to make the right choices."
Grant watches me as I speak and I see his eyes well up and stepping to him I place my hands on his arms, and say, "Hey, is everything all right."
"That's what I've always been trying to say but Jonny insisted Gabriel goes to a speech therapist as soon as he could talk so he would not be teased when he got to school."
"I take it Jonny is their other father."
Grant nods and wipes the tears forming in the corner of his eyes as the children come running back down the corridor. I give Grant a quick hug and letting go I say to him, "Well talk after." He nods and then the children are around the Christmas tree all sitting eagerly waiting for us to join them.
We move over to them when Grant asks, "Are you fine with all of this. You seem to take it all in your stride."
"I am." I agree with him. "I was thinking in the shower how comfortable I am with all of this considering we met last night."
"I know what you mean." I smile at him as Grant places his arm around my waist and leads me over to the triplets.
Grant sits down on the floor next to the triplets and he reaches out for me to sit beside him. I take his hand and sit as he goes through the presents under the tree and hands them out to the children. I take the time to think about how Grant is behaving with me there. I can't say he is being clingy but more in need of someone close by to reassure him everything would fine. And I am happy to be the one to reassure him. My impression of him is a man who works hard to look after his family, who respects those that show him respect back and above all else I am coming to realize how much he values honesty. It’s been fifteen hours since we’ve met and already I feel like I’m part on their family and I don’t want this to change.
After the triplet’s tear open their gifts and admired their toys they begin playing and sharing their gifts between each other. Grant and I get up and sit on the sofa to watch them. Holly gets up and taking an envelope tucked in the branches of their Christmas tree she gives it to Grant.
"Merry Christmas Dad, Fiona helped us make this for you for Christmas."
Grant takes the envelope and opening it, it’s contains a little photo book of the triplets that looks like they had decorated. Grant thanks the triplets and gives them all a big hug each.
Holly says, "We didn’t now Santa was leaving you Harry, so we didn’t make you anything."
These children are so cute. "Holly, I think Santa bringing me here was my present."
"Does that mean we are your present too?" Lincoln asks.
I glance at Grant, and say, "If your dad will keep me and share then I'm here for all of you."
I'm surprised when three little people throw themselves at me, and Gabriel says to Grant, "Will you keep him Dad. I like him a lot."
Grant looks at me and smiling, wraps his arm around my shoulders and placing a kiss against my forehead, he tells the triplets, "Yes, I think I'll keep him."
I'm being hug by all four of them and as they let go, I ask, "Now let me see what you got for Christmas."
All three scurrying back to the presents and one by one bring one of their gifts up to show me. I study each present, make comments and when I've seen everything Grant tells them they can play with whatever they want while he gets up and taking my hand in his leads me back towards the kitchen table.
"Would you like coffee now?" He asks.
"I would love one, please."
Grant makes two cups of coffee and coming back over, sits next to me. We face the children, watching them playing with their gifts.
"I'm sorry I've burdened you with all of this, you really need not go to all the trouble you are going to."
I frown. "Is that what you think. Please don't apologise. You would not have brought me back here if you didn’t think I wouldn’t be able to handle this. Even if it was because of my profession that drew you to me?” I gave him a wink, and he laughs.
"There was something that drew me to you. When I found you asleep in my bed last night I began to realised how much I was missing in my life and not only now but when Jonny and I were still together."
"Tell me about Jonny?"
"We met eleven years ago at a friends place. We were invited with the intentions by our friends to introduce us. We became friends and started dating within a year. I would never say Jonny was my type, but we worked well together and we were happy. We moved in together after dating over a year. We lived together for four years when Jonny began talking about starting a family."
Grant shrugs. "It's something I’ve always wanted and so I agreed. Jonny was the one that wanted to be the father of our first child but after several failed attempts at surrogacy Jonny suggested I donate. This all happened over another two years and then we found out we were having triplets we knew our little house we were living in would not be big enough."
Grant pauses and drank his coffee.
"I had money put away for a rainy day so I purchased this house for us. Maybe that was when the problems started, I don't know. I purchased this place because it had all the necessities we required. I gave it to Jonny as a gift but he wasn't happy about it in the beginning because I never consulted him about it. Apparently, he had different ideas about the house our children should be raised in but I think it came down to the area I purchased in and not how the house looked. But he came to love this house and when the triplets were born we had ready a beautiful home for them to come too."
"But Gabriel almost died at birth and them there were the weeks after where he remained in hospital and the other two had come home. Jonny spent a lot of his time at the hospital with Gabriel. I took a month from work not realising Gabriel would be so sick. We planned to the first month home together but that never happened. I took care of Holly and Lincoln and when I could get someone to watch them I would see Gabriel. Jonny spent all his time at the hospital until Gabriel was strong enough to come home."
"When Jonny got home he gave up work to raise the triplets, and he seemed to thrive on it for a while but we were both on auto pilot. I was working more hours to make up for the money we had lost with Jonny not working. We were getting assistance, but it was not enough. And eventually Jonny fell apart."
"I would come home late some nights and he would be angry with me for not being there to help. I really tried to be there for him. I never yelled back when he would get mad at me. I did as much work around the house as I could to help him but no matter what I did it was never good enough. My mum paid for a housekeeper to come in every fortnight to clean but Jonny found that to be an intrusion to our privacy and refused to let the women in our house. I really tried Harry, to keep Jonny happy, but nothing I did was right."
Grant let out a sigh as he stared into his coffee cup.
"As the triplets grew and Gabriel showed signs of problems Jonny took him to specialists to help him. It was then I argued that he was too young to be going to specialist but Jonny was adamant that if we didn’t get him seem when he was still developing his speech he would be at a disadvantage when he got older. It didn’t matter I disagreed because he would take Gabriel to the specialist while I was at work and not tell me."
"Then one night six months ago I came home and Jonny had packed his bags after the triplets were asleep and said it was too much. He said if the kids had been his he would have taken them with him but they weren't and because they reminded him of me he couldn't stand being around them anymore. What kind of person says those things?"
Grant pauses as I'm listening to him, occasionally looking over to the children to be sure they are not listening to our conversation.
"Did he ever seek his own help?" I ask.
"I suggested it once, but he stopped speaking for three days so I never suggested it again."
"And how is he now?"
"He's coming passed before lunch to see the children."
"Do you want me to be here?"
The look on Grant’s face tells me what he wants is a friend to be there to give him the support he so badly needs.
"I'm imposing too much on you, aren't I?"
I take Grant's hand in mine and bringing it to my lips, I kiss the palm of his hand.
"Santa stuffed me in his sack you know and brought me here. I think he knew we both needed someone today to help with the problems we are both facing."
Grant laughs, and says, "What made you tell them that."
"Well, the fact they found a strange man in their father's bed on Christmas morning. I couldn't tell them the reason my head was sore was because I got drunk the night before and came home with their father because I didn't want to wake up alone."
"You have a great way with children."
I smile. "I always wanted a family. Would it be selfish of me if I harbour thoughts of weeding my way into your life so I might discover if here is were I belong."
Grant laughs. "I like your honesty and I like what I've seen so far."
I cut in, "And you haven't seem me naked yet either."
Grant laughs out loud and I laugh with him.
"Well, the day isn't over yet." He tells me.
Mid morning, I'm given a tour of their home. It is a simple house with four large rooms, two on either side of the long corridor. Grant’s bedroom and a sitting room are at the front of the house. The bathroom is next to the sitting room and then a playroom for the triplets next to that. Across from the playroom and on the same side of Grant’s bedroom is the triplet’s bedroom. Along the wall are three little beds and again I think how adorable it all is. The laundry is next to the kitchen with a large walk in pantry.
I personally would be grateful if someone had bought me a house like Grant’s. After the tour I spend time in the back garden with the triplets while Grant prepares food for dinner that night. We play hide and seek and then go on a fairy hunt until Grant brings us out morning tea, and we lie around on the lawn eating pieces of cut fruit and drinking water. We have a tickle fight after, first ganging up on Grant before they turn on me. Then the triplets all go back off exploring leaving Grant and I alone.
“I have to say this has to be the best Christmas I’ve ever had. Thank you,” I tell Grant.
Grant smiles and replies, “I still recall the battle I had with myself about bringing you home. I’m waiting for the penny to drop and you realize what a mistake this is.”
I can see the inner struggle he is having and getting up onto my knees I crawl over to him and wrap my arms around him when I reach him.
“From the moment you walked into the pub I knew you were someone I wanted to be with. Now, I don’t know how this will work out but right now I'm more comfortable and content in this one day than I have been in years.”
Grant wraps his arms around my waist and leaning his cheek against my chest, says, “Why do I feel guilty yet glad you are here.”
“It comes with being human I’m afraid. Right now you need someone supportive and perhaps needing it to be someone you barely know makes it easy to deal with. Trust me when I say I’m only too happy to be that person supporting you.”
Grant tightens his grip around me and leaning down I kiss the top of his head. From nearby the triplets try to sneak up on us and then three pairs of little arms wrap around us.
“You are crying, Dad,” Holly says.
“I’m happy sweetheart.”
“That Thanta gave you Harry.”
“Yes, because Santa gave me Harry.”
“Santa gave Harry to all of us Dad, remember.” Lincoln reminds them all.
“I remember,” Grant replied.
“But Santa was a little rough wasn’t he Harry,” Holly looks up at me as she speaks.
I laugh, “Yes, a little but my head is much better now.”
“Thanta hath a lot to anthwer for Harry,doethn’t he.”
“Yes, a lot to answer for.”
Grant pulls out of my embrace and wipes his face with both hands, “I better get back to the kitchen. There is still food to get ready before tonight.”
“Do you need any help?” I ask.
“You’re helping enough out here.”
I smile and getting up I say to the triplets, “I’ll count to ten before I’ll search you out.”
I put my hands over my eyes and count and the three run off squealing excitedly. When I drop my hands Grant is still standing before me. I go to him and give him a kiss on his lips.
“You do what you need to do and I’ll take care of the triplets.”
His eyes well up again, and replies, “Jonny will be here in thirty minutes.”
“It will be fine. Call us in when he gets here.”
Grant smiles and leaves me to go back inside.
I call out, “Ready or not here I come.”
Around the backyard I can see little people hiding behind bushes and trees but I move away from them saying out loud, “I bet they are hiding over here.”
Behind me their giggles are a delight and it seriously is the best Christmas I've had and I intend to ensure it is not my last one with them.