Just as before he seemed to have a real way with Alain and Desiree. Lalique also decided to let him meet her younger twins, Brett and Noelle. He handled the babies with ease, not like a single man at all.
It was after supper and a refreshing dip in the indoor pool that they found themselves alone together on the love seat in the living room. Arlene was with Alain and Desiree and the babies were sleeping.
"How is it that you are so good with children?" Lalique asked him.
"Ahh, that. Well, I'm the oldest of four boys; I suppose that may have something to do with it. There was me, Prince was three years younger, Pres was three years younger than him but my baby brother, Parker, was much younger than the three of us. He was rather a surprise to my parents, evidently. I was thirteen when Parker was born. I had to care for him from time to time; so I learned how to feed him and even change him. I've always had an affinity for kids, though."
"Why were you all given names that started with 'P'? If you don't mind me asking."
"Mom wanted a junior and my Dad hated that idea--he said he wasn't going to have his son called "Junior". His name is Phillip so Mom compromised by using his first initial on all of us."
"Well, I love the names, they're all classy--is Pres short for Preston?"
"No, for Prescott and Prince is short for Princeton. But Parker and me we come just as we are."
"I'm surprised you've never married, since you like kids so much," Lalique remarked somewhat slyly.
"I was married at one time..." he paused and Lalique held her breath, "I'm a widower."
"I'm so sorry, I didn't mean--"
"No, it's okay. It was a few years ago. We met in law school and we were broke but happy except we were trying to have kids and not succeeding. We were both checked out and it seemed the problem was not with Sandy, it was me. In fact, it was while they were doing the tests on her that they found the cancer. We hoped she could beat it, of course, and we kept saying she'd be well and we would adopt. But it never happened. She would have a round of chemo and it would seem to be working; her numbers would drop, but then they'd stop and begin climbing again. She was having horrendous side effects from a drug that was not helping. So they'd take her off that medicine and try a different treatment. Some of them made her so sick and miserable," he looked down at his hands which suddenly fisted, "I watched her suffer for two years and she was so thin and frail at the end that when she took her last breath I was actually thankful that it was done. I couldn't stand to see her have that pain anymore. Selfish of me, I know. She was only 26."
Lalique put her hand on his and he relaxed a little.
"So I closed up our little house and sold it and took a week to go camping in the mountains with two of my brothers."
"I can't imagine how awful that must have been," she said, "I've never had to lose anyone close to me. Is that when you moved to Pleasantview?"
"Yes. At first I thought I'd look for an apartment in Bluewater Village or Crystal Creek--there's so much more to do in those towns--but in the end I got a place in Pleasantview. I didn't want a social life then; I threw myself into my work."
"You really are a special man," Lalique marveled, "You have remarkable control and have come a long way."
His voice was suddenly lower and a bit rough,
"Honey, I don't have much control when it comes to you."
He leaned over and his mouth covered hers. That was the first time he'd even tried to kiss Lalique since their stormy evening on her front porch--she thought it was well worth wait. Of all the men she'd ever dated--and sometimes she thought they were legion--he was far and away the best kisser.
The weeks went by and Lalique's two oldest set of twins were growing fast. Arlene was still a wonderful nanny, but it was so obvious she was in love with Ray Nolan that Lalique figured a wedding couldn't be that far away. Once Brett and Noelle were walking it wouldn't be so hard to be without Arlene should she marry. In fact, Alain and Desiree's birthday was fast approaching.
Alain and Desiree:
Perry found a way to convince Lalique to let him prepare dinner for her at his apartment. It didn't take much persuading on his part since, by now, she definitely did want to be alone with him.
"It's just a little place," he warned her as he pulled into his garage which was on the main floor, "But I work so many hours that it works just fine for me."
They took the spiral staircase up to his living room. After dinner they played a video game and then spent more time "getting to know each other". In every way.
Still reeling from her night with Perry, Lalique spent the next day walking around with her head in the clouds. She wasn't sure how he felt--was he in for the long term or just having fun and would be gone--taking her heart with him?
Only a few more days and Alain and Desiree would have their birthdays so Lalique was trying to make sure they had lots of fun and activities appropriate to a toddler.
Relaxing in her tub tended to make Lalique daydream about Perry. In fact she daydreamed a lot now, no matter what room she was in, but the privacy and relaxation of a bubble bath seemed to really bring it out. She decided she would invite both Perry and Ray Nolan over for the birthday party.
Lalique's first set of twins were the product of artificial insemination but, in truth, the father lived a life in Pleasantview with his wife and new baby boy. He made his contribution to the sperm bank during a period of about a year when he was single and in med school and needed a little money. It was not something he'd cleared with his then-fiancee and he rarely thought of it now. He had no idea that he'd specifically "fathered" a set of twins who resided right in the next town. Lalique knew some facts about him like his physical appearance and his age at the time he became a donor. She knew he had red hair and green eyes, and that he was a doctor whose parents and most of his siblings still lived in Pleasantview as well. She also knew his medical history which was excellent. She could have asked for his name (not in every state was this possible, but it was no problem in her particular state), but she didn't really want to know, as long as she had his medical information. Desiree had Lalique's eye and hair color, and Alain had her raven hair, too, but his large pale green eyes had to have come from his biological father. The same for their cute little snub noses.
The day of their birthday Lalique and Arlene tickled and played with the twins.
Volatile Desiree gobbled down her fresh fruit at lunch and then pitched a fit to get out of her chair immediately. Alain, contemplative as usual, savored his bananas and strawberries slowly, examining each piece first as though Lalique or Arlene might be trying to pull a fast one.
Lalique was still upstairs when Ray and Perry arrived and she came to the top of the stairs. Perry looked up at her from the front door; his eyes were piercing and swept over her like a caress. Immediately heat ran through her making her gasp a little. The sexual tension between them was undeniable and she pushed desire down with some effort. Oh, dear. Not at her children's birthday party, please.
Desiree was the older twin by two minutes so Lalique helped her blow out the candles first. Then it was Alain's turn. The twins loved all their gifts including the baseball glove and bat, and the dollhouse that Perry gave them.
Late that night Lalique reviewed the day. Perry had tried to corral her into going to his apartment again, but she'd given an excuse. The depth of her feelings were now beginning to scare her. She collapsed on the love seat in her bedroom; she was exhausted. Worse, John had called to ask about a visit with the children and was incensed when he heard that he'd not been invited to Alain and Desiree's birthday party. Lalique was too tired to argue with him. Besides, the next day they would have their first day of school and she needed to be up early with them.
My babies are growing up, she sighed. Oh, well. Now she could get into the whole "making cupcakes to take to class, helping with scouts activities, toting them to dance and Tai Kwan Do lessons; and overseeing homework" mode. She definitely needed to start taking a multi-vitamin...