"Why doesn't he want to go to your office?" Lalique asked as she kissed the older twins goodbye and watched them dash out the front door to the school bus.
"I don't know exactly; I expect he'll explain when he gets here this afternoon."
His vague reply meant Perry was not at liberty to tell her;client confidentiality.
"Oh," she smiled.
Most of her morning and part of the afternoon was spent upstairs in the play area with Brett and Noelle. Instead of taking them down to the kitchen at lunchtime, she had brought up small crackers and cheese sticks, a few cucumber slices, some Cuties tangerine sections and their favorite Juicy Juice. She set up their little snack tables. The tables snugged up around them as they sat on the floor, keeping errant crumbs at a minimum. Not eating in the kitchen made it seem like an indoor picnic to the two of them and they liked that. Then she tucked them in for their naps. She'd recently showed them how to go down the stairs one step at a time on their butts so she didn't have to put up the baby-gates. She came downstairs to grab a quick half a tuna sandwich. Planning to ask Perry if he'd already eaten or would like a late lunch she crossed the foyer. And there in her living room was the man she now knew to be the sperm donor for Alain and Desiree. What was he doing here? Had he found out about the twins?
"Oh, hi, honey," Perry smiled, "I was just going to call you in. Court, I want you to meet my beautiful wife, Lalique. Court is not only a long time client of mine, but a good friend and frequent golf partner."
The doctor gave no indication that he knew who Lalique was as he offered his hand and turned a friendly smile on her,
"Hi, nice to meet you, Mrs. Everhart. My wife and I think the world of Perry."
Lalique gave him her best gracious lady smile, actually she'd learned it from her cultured and elegant mother, Olivia DeHavilland Flynn. When in doubt, dear, smile and nod; commit to nothing.
Since Court seemed unfazed Lalique assumed that he just had never taken the option of finding out the names of any children that he might have fathered via sperm donation back in the day.
It became really odd when the twins came home from school. They were always quick to make friends with people and soon engaged him in conversation. Lalique invited him to supper then fled to the kitchen to prepare the meal and get her mind to calm down. Her distraction soon led to a fire which started on the stove. She freaked and even before the usually quick-acting, cool headed Perry could get in there Court had doused the fire. It turned out he was also a volunteer firefighter.
Dinner was finally served. Dr. Lomax had told them about his wife, Elle, and their four year old son, Jody. He and Perry traded good-natured jibes regarding golf. Always quick to pick up on unspoken tension especially in regard to Lalique, Perry quietly studied her once or twice during the meal but, although she was being the solicitous hostess, easily engaging in conversation with Dr. Lomax, she never quite met Perry's eyes. Thanking them for supper, Court left shortly thereafter.
Court Lomax's wife Elle and son Jody
When they were in bed that night and he had her in his arms Perry asked quietly,
"Would you like to tell me now what upset you about Court Lomax?"
Lalique's breath caught in her throat a moment and Perry pressed his lips to her forehead,
"You can tell me anything, honey. Just don't keep me in the dark."
Relaxing she began to tell him everything from the time a few months ago when she had petitioned to get the name of the sperm donor.
"Do you think he'd try to get partial custody?" she asked anxiously.
"He was the sperm donor, he can ask for information, but it's not like you listed him by name on the birth certificates. He really has no legal rights in regard to them. Besides, I've known him for a few years now; he's a decent guy. Don't volunteer the information, though. If he wants it he can go through channels just as you did."
"They definitely do have some of his features, I saw that when I looked him up on line; but today it was more apparent."
He squeezed her and she snuggled against his shoulder. Then he said,
"As long as you are unburdening, have you done any more thinking about talking to John regarding me adopting Brett and Noelle?"
Lalique sounded regretful,
"I haven't wanted to think about it."
"As I told you, I can talk to him alone, if you'd like," Perry suggested.
"That would seem so cold of me, Perry. I feel I need to tell him personally."
"Can I be with you?"
She smiled up at him,
"I think I'll need the moral support."
"You've got it, gorgeous. Just remember he has no rights actually except for the agreement you signed to allow him visiting privileges."
"I know. But he's a proud man--and an honorable one. I want to be fair.
A frown flickered across Perry' face then was gone as he shrugged,
"He's not all that honorable if he was willing to cheat on his wife as well as mess up your life."
"I can't escape blame for hurting her, either. She's a nice woman and always treated me so well when I would go over to their house with Yvette. Anyway, they were going to a marriage counselor and he was trying to reconcile with her. She knows about Brett and Noelle."
"I've heard through the grapevine that they are living together again and that he has made up with his grown children as well."
Lalique started to sit up and look at him incredulously, but Perry smiled and pulled her back to his shoulder.
"What do you mean you heard 'through the grapevine'?" she asked.
"When you're a lawyer in a small town you hear a lot of things. Especially when you drop your ADA position and switch from criminal law to family law like I did. Do you want me to call him and invite him to my office?"
"Maybe that would be less traumatic if he takes it badly. But warn him that I will be there too. Oh, Perry, I feel so much better to have made a decision."
She reached across his chest and clung to his shoulder possessively. Within moments she drifted off to sleep. Perry stayed awake awhile pondering the best way to handle the call to John and the subsequent meeting.
It was during this time that Perry and Lalique decided they wanted the kitchen opened up for more of an open concept look. The existing kitchen was large but it was galley style and felt claustrophobic. So they had a contractor come in and take down the wall between the dining room and the kitchen and put in a large island to regain some of the storage and counter space they were losing.
Two views of the original kitchen with the wall against the dining room in place. The one on the left shows the door to the foyer and stairs; the one on the right shows the door leading into the dining room:
After the kitchen and dining room were made into one space with the large island in between:
Matters had moved along swiftly for Pres and Sofia, he'd recently moved in with her, preparing to sell his new but small house, and they were engaged to be married. Rhonda was captivated by her newest grandson and was anxious to get to know his mother better. She found Sofia to be sweet-natured and intelligent but it was her obvious love for Pres won his mother's heart. A small wedding would be held at the house Sofia was currently renting. Philip and Rhonda had planned on returning to Hilton Head, but now they wanted to stay for the nuptials, of course. Pres was going to bring Sofia and Dion to meet them.
It was also decided that Philip and Rhonda would stay at Pres and Sofia's house the night of their wedding so they could care for little Dion while the couple went on their honeymoon. Almost every day Philip and Rhonda went over to Sofia's house in Pleasantview to visit with Dion and get him used to them.
After Pres and Sofia returned the senior couple would return to their beautiful home on Hilton Head. They had finally decided--for sure--to move and would put their house up for sale and come back to look for houses in the tri-county area as soon as it was feasible.
In bad weather, or if Perry couldn't be with them, they liked to use the indoor pool. They'd both taken swimming lessons since they were four years old.
Once Rhonda and Philip left for Pres and Sofia's home, work began on converting Alain and Desiree's bedroom and Arlene's old room into "the girls' bedroom" and "the boys bedroom". Arlene's room had served as a guest room for the few months that the elder Everharts had stayed with Perry and Lalique. No changes had been made at that time. The room was adjacent to Alain and Desiree's bedroom with a Jack and Jill bathroom in between.
The room that belonged to Arlene Jankowski, the children's one-time nanny and that Philip and Rhonda used:
The "boys' room" was slightly revised from the room that Alain and Desiree had shared since they were toddlers. A 'big boy' bed was installed and Desiree's twin was stored up in the attic for when Brett outgrew his little bed. They kept the colors and furnishings the same in this room.
The one door from the girls' room to the Jack and Jill bathroom was removed and the room was now closed off so it was only available from the boys' room.
Arlene's old room was now the "girls' bedroom" and Noelle went with Desiree and had also graduated to a "big girl bed". The changes in their room were much more extensive as far as decor.
The girls' new bathroom was reclaimed space from the play alcove in the other bedroom. There was still a corner where the toddlers played in the boys' room.
Play alcove before it was converted to a bathroom on left and on the right, Brett and Noelle playing with their toys in the corner of the boys' room after the alcove was gone.
The brand new bathroom for the girls:
The brand new bathroom for the girls:
Life began to get back to normal for Perry and Lalique; as normal as it could be expected considering the future meeting with John Lassiter looming ahead on the horizon.
The wedding of Pres and Sofia went well, until a minor fracas at the end that caused a major headache for youngest brother Parker. But Rhonda and Phil were happily ensconced in the cozy house now with Dion while the newlyweds went off on their island honeymoon...
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