CHAPTER 9 A limo picked us up at 10:00 Wednesday morning as we hugged and kissed Leia good-bye. I scratched Max's ears and told him to obey Leia.
I knew he would. He and Leia had bonded completely. Our plane flew to Charlotte and from there to JFK in Queens, one of the boroughs of New York City. From there it was Air France first class to Schiphol Airport outside Amsterdam. I love Air France. Not only is the food like a hundred times better than on our airlines, but the service is, too. Despite their cool reputation I had always found the French to be a warm and welcoming people if one only makes an effort to speak a little French.
Having studied French in high school and college I was able to get by reasonably well. I'd been to Paris several times for work. We had just settled into our seats when the steward asked if we would like champagne. I agreed, but Cindy opted for orange juice. When I gave her an inquiring look she smiled broadly and replied, "Remember that little talk we had back in March when I told you that I wanted more than anything to&hellip." She never had the chance to finish.
I grabbed her head for the most sensational kiss of my life. "I'm not a hundred percent sure. I'm only a week late, but we'll know for sure pretty soon. I think we should get some of those home pregnancy tests once we're in Amsterdam." The steward overheard us and gave us his congratulations and again once he learned we were on our honeymoon. "Yeah, now all I have to do is live long enough to see the child graduate high school." "Don't…please, John—you're in excellent health and I'm going to keep you that way." I kissed Cindy's cheek and sat back to relax while the plane filled with passengers.
We took off at 6:54 p.m., only a few minutes late. After a decent filet with béarnaise sauce, scalloped potatoes, and string beans almandine and more wine—for me—we reclined and slept for the rest of the flight, arriving in early morning. A cab whisked us to our hotel and since we were early we checked our bags and went for a walk through the city. We stopped for a tour of the Anne Frank House then continued up the street in search of a restaurant.
Once we found one I ordered two servings of poffritjes, one with banana and one with dark cherry topping. Both came with a huge dollop of whipped cream, more than enough to completely hide the pile of two dozen tiny pancakes.
We shared and Cindy agreed immensely with my choices. Once we were done it was time to walk back to the hotel for check-in and some hot honeymoon sex as if there was ever any other kind.
We had a small suite, something I always ordered even though we didn't plan to spend much time in the room. I was sometimes afflicted with insomnia and a suite meant I could sit and read or even drink a beer from the mini-bar without rousing Cindy. The first time this had happened at home Cindy came running out of the bedroom thinking the worst had happened until I was able to reassure her.
Since then she had ensured my sleeping well by wearing me out every evening—fucking me until I was exhausted and could barely move. Now Cindy thought she was pregnant. We had talked about it at length—daily for more than two weeks as we sifted through the pros and cons.
I had always wanted a family, but Rosie had fibroids on her uterus. We were disappointed, of course, but we had each other and that was all that mattered right up until she became ill and died.
Now I had another chance. I would never have mentioned it, but the whole thing was Cindy's idea. I had asked her what Leia might think. Cindy thought she'd be thrilled even though it was really none of her business.
After those two weeks we had agreed she would go off the pill. Walking together we found an apothecary—what we called a drug store in the States—and asked in regular English for a home pregnancy test. Europeans demand good service unlike in the U.S. where we blindly accept the Wal-Mart model in which service is non-existent. The clerk walked us down two aisles and across to another, stopping in front of a small line of products. We thanked her and selected three.
She explained what to do as I paid with my charge card.
We walked hand in hand to the hotel and, once in the suite, my darling wife made a beeline for the bathroom. She returned a few minutes later with a huge grin on her face. We knew that a child at our ages would have a huge impact on our lives, even larger than if we had been younger.
This was the biggest topic of discussion during those two weeks I mentioned earlier. We both wanted to travel and see the world, but we agreed we could delay for five years. By then our daughter would be old enough to accompany us. That was our second discussion although it was more teasing back and forth than anything else. Cindy wanted a son; I wanted a daughter.
I knew the odds were in my favor—104 girls were born to every 100 boys. We spent our days walking through the city, visiting the many museums and learning to appreciate the works of the Dutch masters like Rubens and Rembrandt.
Our final day we took a tour boat through the many canals that ran through the city. We ate well and I enjoyed the European beer. I wasn't cruel—I did allow Cindy to sniff it occasionally. Neither of us thought she was sacrificing through her abstinence.
It was Cindy's decision to become pregnant immediately and she'd have to abstain at home, as well. That night we took a leisurely walk through the red light district, even passing a theater that featured live sex shows. I told Cindy I wasn't interested and wouldn't be even if I could learn a few new tricks. She punched my shoulder then whispered that she had a few new tricks to show me as soon as we returned to the hotel.
I couldn't wait. We transferred to our ship on Monday afternoon. I'd selected Viking River Cruises because the ship available on this date was one of their newest and because it had two large suites at the rear of the ship. In addition to the size of the suite there was a wrap-around balcony that we could use if the weather was warm enough.
Even if not, the large floor to ceiling windows afforded us spectacular views. We were shown to the suite and a few minutes later our baggage arrived. We unpacked hurriedly then we headed to the lounge to socialize and meet our fellow travelers. Most of those we met were my age or older. Several complained about the uncomfortable conditions in flying coach and others about the size of the cabins even though I knew from experience that they were larger on this ship than on many others.
Cindy was excited with so many new things that she told several women that we'd been in Amsterdam for four days and that flying first class was a real thrill for her. I sat by silently. "Why did you come in so early," a blue-haired woman asked. "I don't recall you on the pre-trip." "Well, I guess because we're on our honeymoon.
John surprised me with the trip. I always wanted to go to Europe, but my first husband always had an excuse." "So…you're divorced?" I had a pretty good idea where this old biddy was headed, but I was pretty sure she was in for a surprise. "Yes—my husband was cheating on me with his secretary. Worse, he tried to set me up, even hiring a private investigator in an attempt to get the goods on me." Cindy went on, pretty much summarizing our brief history together.
I had heard several sympathetic remarks when I excused myself to the newly opened bar.
I returned with a ginger ale for her and a frothy stein of Belgian beer for me. "Don't you drink, Cindy," one of the women asked. "I do occasionally, but not now—I think I'm pregnant and I don't want to take any chances." That led to another long discussion so within a half hour or less our entire story was pretty much common knowledge. I didn't mind. I knew that we'd likely never see any of these people again once the cruise was over.
I drifted away from the crowd to look out the window and I was surprised to see one of the husbands walk over next to me. "My wife went through a messy divorce, too. There was even a nasty confrontation between me and her ex-husband a few months after it was over." "We had a confrontation right after he was served.
We went to the beach house they had rented to get her clothes and he was there waiting for us. Then he made the mistake of grabbing Cindy by the arm." "You slug him?" "No…never had the chance; my dog took him down and locked his jaws around the stupid idiot's throat until the police came then he was arrested." "I'm surprised they didn't shoot the dog." I chuckled and then I explained about how the local police chief had run into Max and me several times at the bagel shop.
We shared a good laugh and returned to our wives. I led Cindy back to our suite and then we returned to the lounge, life jackets in hand, for the mandatory safety lecture. Later, after going to our stations on deck we returned the jackets to the closet and walked down to dinner. We had a lot of fun with our servers that first night so we tended to sit in the same area for all our meals.
As the days passed we found a small group that we especially enjoyed being with so we tried to sit together for all our meals. After dinner one night I approached the restaurant manager about something Cindy and I wanted to do for our new-found friends.
Two nights later we hosted a cocktail party with canapés and a bar in our suite. We were more than pleased to host and they were thrilled, both with our hospitality and with the opportunity to see our suite.
I overheard one of the women talking with Cindy. "John certainly is considerate, but then you are honeymooners. Unfortunately, that will probably change over time." "No…I doubt it. John was even kinder before we began to date. It's in his upbringing." "Then I guess his parents did a wonderful job with him." "Hardly; they threw him out when he turned eighteen.
His mother wanted him to become a priest and John refused. He's not religious at all. He learned his kindness from his best friend's parents who took him in. John's an Irish Catholic and they're Jewish. The parents are gone now, but I did get to meet his friend and all of his family. They're incredible people and I know John patterns himself after them. John is the kindest man I've ever known. He never loses his temper no matter how stupid I am sometimes. He's very easy to love." I turned around to speak with one of the men when their conversation changed to another subject.
We enjoyed the trip immensely, stopping first in Kinderdijk to see the many windmills that have been relocated there to pump water into the sea before following the Rhine through Germany. Our first stop there was Cologne, a city that had been bombed to rubble by the U.S.
and British during World War II. As the trip proceeded we stopped at a number of towns neither of us had ever heard of although we did take a side trip to Heidelberg. We especially enjoyed walking through and stopping to shop in the small villages and towns. The architecture was incredible, especially the churches and cathedrals.
I was amazed at the history in each of these little towns. Mostly, what we found fascinating was accepting that what we in the U.S. considered old Europeans considered new. Almost every one of our stops dated back a thousand years or more. We did spend two days in Vienna and another two in Budapest—a magnificent city--before disembarking and taking the train back to Vienna for another three incredible days on our own.
All the walking we did made eating the rich pastries we ate in Vienna so much easier to justify. Several of the bake shop staff laughed at our concerns and we readily joined them.
How often does one have a honeymoon or a vacation like this? We returned to North Carolina with extra baggage because of all the souveniers Cindy and I had bought. The limo dropped us off mid-afternoon exactly twenty-five days after we had left.
Max had heard us and bolted out the door, almost knocking us over with his tail as he greeted us eagerly. Leia followed soon after, giving her mom and me huge hugs. Once we had unpacked, throwing the dirty clothes onto the floor, we brought all of our purchases to the living room to share with Leia.
I left this up to Cindy and went to the kitchen for beer and Pepsi. Cindy began with the cuckoo clocks—one for us and one for Leia. They were gaudy as hell, but that's what you expect when you decide to buy one. Next were the beer steins—a big one for me and two smaller ones for Leia and Cindy. Cindy showed Leia the German crystal wine glasses I'd toted carefully around half of Europe. Then there were the clothes—sweaters from Austria and Hungary and a woolen felt vest from Cologne, clothes for Cindy and Leia.
There were hand-made earrings and a necklace we'd bought at a craft fair in one of the small towns for Leia, as well. "There's one other gift, but you're going to have a wait to see it. It's my gift to John." "What is it, Mom?
Did you have it shipped?" "No, sweetie—I carried it with me the entire time. I'm pregnant." I thought Leia might faint, but once she had recovered she jumped for joy, running to her mom with hugs and kisses and the same for me. "Any idea what it will be?" "No, I'm only about two months along.
I'll have to find an OB/GYN nearby. How can we do that, John?" "I think we need to go to the supermarket and ask some of the women there, especially if they have young children." That's exactly what we did, except we got the answers we needed from the staff, not the customers, most of whom were elderly.
Quite a few recommended a doctor in Myrtle Beach. It was more than twenty-five miles to the hospital, but it was widely considered to be the best in our area. Cindy phoned and we had an appointment two weeks later. I've always hated going to the doctor and sitting in the waiting room as the only man reminded me of the time Rosie had me sit in the middle of the women's lingerie department while she shopped for some new bras.
I wouldn't have said that I was embarrassed, but I sure was self-conscious. We waited more than a half hour before Cindy was called. She peed on some home pregnancy tests (again) and a nurse came to take a blood sample. Then the doctor walked in, introduced herself, and proceeded to give Cindy what she called an internal exam.
Embarrassing? Give me the bra department any day. "We should assume you are pregnant and take all the necessary precautions. Here is a booklet regarding your diet. I want you to get plenty of exercise—walking or swimming are good, but nothing that might cause you to fall. Also, I'll want you to keep a record of your weight—once a week will do. Are you taking any medications?" "No…only an occasional Tylenol for a headache." "Good—be careful of anything you might take.
You can probably look up the drug on the internet. Also--no alcohol…not even a single drink. Will that be a problem for you?" "No, we just came back from a vacation in Europe and I didn't have even a single glass of wine or beer.
I don't smoke either." "Okay, then…I'll want to see you once a month. Assuming you're two months into term I think we can schedule a sonogram in another two months. My staff will take care of all that. It's a pleasure to meet you. You probably don't realize, but we're neighbors. Your husband's boat has mine drooling." "Why don't you suggest he stop over?
I'll be glad to take him fishing or even just for a ride. Seriously, you're both welcome." "It's a deal just so long as we don't talk shop. I'll talk to Herb when I get home tonight." I gave her one of my cards with my phone and email info on it and we walked out to the office.
We took a trip to Bird Island with them the following weekend. Of course, Max and Leia joined us. "I've seen your dog in your yard and on the dock. He sure is big," Herb commented. "Yeah, he is and that's a good thing. He's also a highly trained guard dog." "Really? I never would have guessed." "He has to be given the right commands and, even then, he wouldn't obey you or Claire.
Also, if someone was to threaten Cindy or Leia or me he'd take matters into his own hands…paws.whatever." Herb helped with the anchors as we set up our umbrellas and chairs on the ocean side of the island.
Leia led Max away with his Frisbee. Its surface was mottled with holes from his teeth. They played while we relaxed. The Fitzgerald's were an interesting couple. She was an OB/GYN and he ran a small business installing and repairing heat pumps. Everyone in our area had a heat pump and I knew there were plenty of companies out there. You had to be good to be successful. We had a fine time and saw the Fitzgerald's fairly often.
It was pleasant to have some social outlets, especially after Leia had to return to UNC. As promised I took her to the bank for a debit card, transferring $5,000 into her account. I was pleased when the bank officer repeated my warnings—keep the card under your control at all times and share the PIN with no one. We hugged and kissed Leia when she left.
We'd miss her, but I was pretty sure Max would miss her even more. Turning to me Cindy finally asked something that had been on her mind since our honeymoon, "So, how much did she drink?" "Near as I can figure…six cans of beer, not bad considering we were gone more than three weeks." Cindy agreed. Leia had asked if she could have an occasional beer while we were gone and we had agreed providing that she didn't drive afterwards.
We were sure she had access to some alcohol at UNC either at a party or through an older friend and we were pleased to see she had shown such good judgment. It was mid-August when we had our sonogram appointment. Claire showed us the picture, but—truthfully—I couldn't see anything other than a big blob.
I took her word that it was a living fetus. "Want to know the sex?" "Oh, yeah," I replied. "We have a big bet on this." "Sorry, John—it's a girl." "YES!" I was ecstatic. "I know…all fathers want a son, but not me.
I've wanted a girl all along." I hugged and kissed Cindy even while her belly was covered with gel. I didn't care. I was so happy. We went shopping after the appointment for baby furniture and for wallpaper. Then we went out for dinner and home to celebrate. I fed Max and put him out before joining my love in our room. She had removed her clothes and sat on the bed waiting to help me out of my clothes. One of the things I like about living in North Carolina was that we have seasons, but they're mild.
Even in mid-October the temperature was well into the seventies. All I was wearing was a golf shirt, shorts, and sandals.
Cindy spent less than a minute stripping me to the skin. We luxuriated in the shower, hugging and kissing and teasing each other, but we were careful. I'd kill myself before taking the chance that Cindy might fall. I rubbed her breasts with the sudsy soap while she did my cock and balls.
We finished quickly, so desperate were we for each other. We fell together onto the bed. I told Cindy that I loved her every day—several times every day--but tonight I was filled with my love for her. I thrilled to the touch of her skin--so soft and smooth and exciting--as she rubbed her body against mine. "I can't believe you're mine," I whispered. "There aren't words enough in the English language to adequately tell you how much I love you.
You're not only beautiful, but you're an even more beautiful person. You're perfect." Cindy kissed me then, smiling, she contradicted me. "We both know I'm far from perfect, but I'll never tire of hearing you tell me you love me. I love you every bit as much. Do you have any idea how jealous the women on our cruise were? I know several complained to their husbands that they felt neglected after seeing how you treated me.
You're the kindest and best man I've ever known." "I agree." Cindy gave me a light jab to my chest as she said, "Modest, too." We shared a kiss that seemed never to end before Cindy rolled me onto my back and rode me like a wild mustang even though my wild mustang days were well behind me. I was covered with sweat when she finally stopped three orgasms later, falling onto my chest.
My semen leaked from her body, but I hadn't the energy or strength to do anything about it. I lay there with my love asleep on top of me when Max checked to see that I was still alive. I was asleep by the time he reached his bed. We went shopping over the next few days until we finally found the furniture and wallpaper we wanted. I knew nothing about wallpaper so we hired someone recommended by the store.
When we were done we had a set of maple furniture with a crib, dresser, night stand, and twin headboard for when she outgrew the crib. On the walls were scenes of Ariel, Disney's mermaid, and on the floor we had a bluish green shag carpet that accented the colors in the paper almost perfectly. Once that was done we concentrated on buying all the blankets and clothes that a baby would need. Max found all of this activity perplexing. Cindy's pregnancy was for the most part unexceptional.
She took her vitamins daily, watched her diet and her weight carefully, and exercised regularly, often walking on the beach after dinner with Max and me. To help her exercise I suggested she take up golf. I bought her clubs at a local store and had her fitted for the clubs after explaining that Cindy was a raw beginner, never having even touched a club before that day.
I arranged for lessons from one of the club pros and we went out for a round. Cindy was discouraged, but I was patient with her, encouraging her at every opportunity. It was July when we first played so the courses were almost deserted with the temperature in the nineties during the afternoon and very high humidity daily. That was why we played exclusively in the early morning. I found it amazing that I sweated profusely while Cindy was as dry as our newly changed baby would be.
We played several times a week and Cindy slowly improved. One of the things about golf is that no matter how poorly you play there is always at least one shot that encourages you to come back and try again.
That's how it was with Cindy. Initially, it was a drive that she stroked down the middle of the fairway. Then it was a long iron or even a good putt.
She had played for a month when she had her first par. Her smile almost matched mine. A month later it was her first birdie. By then she was hooked. She was also six months into her term and was showing quite a bit. She learned it made no difference in her swing. Christmas was much better this year than last when I spent the entire holiday season in dark despair over possibly losing Cindy forever.
Leia was home, the house was decorated with a big beautiful tree. I did all the work eagerly because Cindy was expected to deliver our daughter in a month or less.
I kissed her often—several times a day—and every time I did I also kissed her abdomen. I also kissed her pussy, but only behind closed and locked doors. It was the day after Christmas when we had a surprise caller at the gate.
Cindy and I looked at each other questioningly even as I admitted Lou Ann Matthews to our yard. Max and I went out to greet her. "Hi there, John; Martin and I wanted to give you a baby gift. Can you carry it in for me? It's kind of heavy. Martin would be here to help me, but he always works the day after Christmas so his people can stay home with their families." I opened the SUV's hatch and lifted out the large wrapped box.
Lou Ann was right—it was heavy. I carried it as I led her into the house. Inside was a plastic pony hanging on springs from a metal frame. It would be a few months before she could use it, but it was still a thoughtful gift. "Who's going to be here to help you," Lou Ann asked. "I guess it's going to be me," I replied. "Leia will be back at school then. She can return for a few days, but&hellip." "John…you know nothing about babies and don't talk to me about those prenatal classes you took.
They're nothing like the real thing. I'll come over every day to help Cindy. Not only did I raise four kids, I'm also an RN." And so it was arranged. I'd phone Lou Ann as soon as I took Cindy to the hospital. That meant I would make four calls—Dr. Kirkpatrick, Leia, Paul and Miriam, and Lou Ann.
New Year's Eve was quiet and relaxing, just Cindy, Leia, Max and me sitting at home and watching the festivities in New York. Cindy thought it was fun seeing Times Square after there in person.
She told Leia, "We saw that" or "We were there," several times as I refilled her glass with ginger ale and brought out snacks—shrimp and pigs in a blanket and chips.
We watched the ball fall at midnight and kissed. We hugged and kissed Leia and then we went to bed for the real celebration. We couldn't make love without endangering the baby so I ate my dear wife to two orgasms and then I jerked off while she kissed me and fondled my balls.
It wasn't great, but having our own child was worth any sacrifice. Leia returned to school two weeks later, just a few days before Cindy was due. I knew that babies were born on their own schedule, but I was praying that this one would be on time. Cindy was ready—more than ready. She was fed up having her back ache, tired of heartburn, tired of having to pee every three hours around the clock. Luckily, Marci Esther was right on time.
CHAPTER 10 We had tried out dozens of names, but there was only one thing I cared about—her middle name must be Esther after the woman who had become my mother—the woman who had saved my life—Paul's mother, Esther Feinberg. Marci was Cindy's idea and after running it through my head a few times I agreed.
Marci Esther Hayden it would be. We were lying in bed early Tuesday morning two weeks later when Cindy grunted and grabbed her abdomen. I jumped out of bed and ran to my office to record the time. Cindy was seated on the toilet when I returned. I helped her to dress and recorded yet another contraction. There were four more before we decided to phone Dr. Kirkpatrick. She told us to relax until the contractions were fifteen minutes apart.
I phoned Leia and left a voicemail—she had an early class. I spoke to Miriam and to Lou Ann and, an hour later phoned the doctor again. At Lou Ann's suggestion I dropped Max at the police station with the Chief. "Damn, John—I better not catch me no shit now. I got me a big po-lice dawg." "Thanks for watching him, Chief, but don't let it go to your head.
He won't accept any commands from you other than 'sit' and 'stay' and maybe 'heel.'" "All the same I think I gotta have me a bagel this fine morning. I'll go up there and show off. Maybe I'll get the department to buy me one." He wasn't quite so sure once I told him how much Max had cost. I turned to Max, scratched his ears, and gave him the command to obey.
He'd be fine until I could get back to him then I returned to my car and drove my wonderful Cindy to the hospital. They have free valet parking 24/7 so I dropped the car there and helped her into the lobby.
They found a wheelchair for her while I registered as a guest then we were in the elevator upstairs to Obstetrics. Cindy was in bed in one of those horrible gowns when Dr. Kirkpatrick—Claire—walked in. She checked on Cindy, gave us some encouraging words, and walked back out. "Is that what's supposed to happen?" I was curious. "I really don't know. I haven't done this in twenty years and everything is different now. I never even had a sonogram when I had Leia." I leaned over to kiss her and she suggested that I sit.
"We're likely going to be here quite a while." So I sat, held her hand, and kissed her. Oh yeah…I must have told her a hundred times how much I loved her.
I refused to leave for lunch and, around three, I knew we were in business. That's when her water broke. I grabbed a bite in the cafeteria only when Claire assured me that we had more than three hours to go. I ate hurriedly—some meatloaf that reminded me too much of the mystery meat I'd been forced to eat in the dorm cafeteria at Penn.
I knew that had changed for the better in recent years, but this lukewarm mess in congealed gravy with cold mashed potatoes brought back too many unpleasant memories. You'd think that a hospital would serve something healthier or, at least, more appetizing. I bought two large sodas—Coke for me and Sprite for Cindy—both with lots of ice--and returned to her room. I became really nervous when Cindy's contractions became stronger and her reactions louder. Why, dear God, had I ever agreed to this?
All I wanted was for my wife to be done so she'd be safe. I held her hand and wiped her face and endured her curses and screams and then my wish came true.
Cindy was done and we had a beautiful new human being. I couldn't help myself—I broke down and cried. I'm not religious at all, but I prayed then that both Cindy and Marci would be fine. The nurse handed Marci to Cindy and when I saw the expression on her face I knew all her labors had been worthwhile. I looked down then at my wonderful wife and my beautiful daughter and I knew we'd done something special. I knew, of course, that I'd had the easy part—the fun part—and that Cindy had done all the real work.
That was one of the reasons why I had never mentioned the idea. Now I knew that I had to pick up the slack. I'd never complain about getting up in the middle of the night or changing a diaper.
I would have stayed there all night, but I knew that Cindy needed to rest. Holding my daughter—my tiny baby—then returning her to the nurse, I held my wife telling her over and over how wonderful she was and how much I loved her. She was asleep before I left the room. I phoned Leia first. "Hi, big sister…yeah…about half an hour ago and she's a chip off the old block—her mother's block, thank God.
Where are you? You are? What about Max? I left him with Chief Matthews." Leia told me she would phone the Chief and Lou Ann with the news and pick up Max at either the station or their house. I phoned Paul, getting him on the first ring. "You're an uncle!" I was so excited that I barely heard Paul say that he and Miriam would come over the weekend. I ended the call and made my way to the valets, tipping them with a twenty before driving home. I hugged and kissed Leia and hugged Max.
He looked all around for Cindy, not understanding why she wasn't here. Leia took care of Max while I grabbed a quick shower and fell asleep as soon as I hit the bed. Leia and I visited Cindy the following day and Leia had the first chance to hold her new sister. "Oh, she's so small. Was I as small as this, Mom?" "Actually, you were smaller. You weighed six pounds seven ounces. Marci is three ounces heavier. Don't you think she looks like John?" "Bite your tongue," I said emphatically.
"She's going to be beautiful, just like her mother." I sounded stern, but I was smiling and there was no fooling either Cindy or Leia. I kissed Cindy again. Leia gave me a funny look then asked, "I never thought about it, but how many times a day do you kiss Mom, John?" Cindy beat me to the punch. "More than twenty, but not even close to enough.
I thought I loved your father, Leia, but my love for John must be a hundred times stronger." "Mom, I want to be clear—I think of John as my father. I don't want anything to do with your former husband.
Looking back I can see how he was often cold, mean, and even cruel to you and he was never around to help me. I'll never forgive him for what he tried to do to you." "He is your father, Leia." "I know, Mom, but I'm not going to speak with him. He tried phoning me last semester, but I refused the calls and blocked him. He has the message now. I'm more than happy being with you and John. I know now what to look for when I'm ready to settle down." As shocked as I was by that speech I was even more shocked when Leia clutched my head to her body.
Moving on to more pleasant subjects Leia and I talked with Cindy until I saw that she was tired. We kissed her and went out to lunch. There are plenty of restaurants open in Myrtle Beach even in January. People play golf there all year long and the area sees plenty of snowbirds from the northeast and Canada after the holidays. The hospital is just down the road from dozens of restaurants so I took Leia to Olive Garden. I was famished after last night's hospital fare and I had no idea what Leia had eaten yesterday.
Cindy was still asleep when we returned so we headed down the hall to the nursery. There was Marci sound asleep on the left end of the front row. One of the nurses saw us and came out to speak. "Your granddaughter?" Leia laughed like crazy as I explained that I was the dad.
I had the feeling I'd hear that line again, but nothing was going to detract from my feeling of euphoria.
We walked back to Cindy's room and sat quietly until Marci was brought back for a good long drink of mother's milk—what an incredible sight. We left around six.
Leia hugged and kissed her mom then it was my turn. "I can't wait," I whispered, "to have you home so I can show you how much I love you." "I already know that, John, but I love you more." She had a twinkle in her eye as she said it. "Not even close to possible," I replied with another kiss. Then we were gone, stopping only at a sub shop in Calabash for sandwiches. Even with that stop we were home before seven. Max was eager to see us and, once again, he looked high and low for Cindy.
"Tomorrow, Max and you'll get to meet Marci, too." Max was in for quite a surprise. We arrived at nine Thursday morning, our infant car seat firmly attached to the back seat when I gave the keys to the valet, telling him that we shouldn't be long.
Leia and I walked to the elevator, waiting only a minute before we found ourselves in Cindy's room. I helped her to dress in the clothes I'd brought then placed her into a wheelchair.
Marci was brought to us and we prepared her for the cold January air with a thick sweater, heavy blanket, and woolen cap. Cindy held her while I went for the SUV. I belted my daughter in with the greatest care then helped my love into the car and off we went.
I was extremely happy that there's little traffic in January so I was able to drive home in almost complete safety. Once in the garage I opened the door to the house. Max was out in a flash. His wild tail told just how happy he was to see Cindy, but when I removed Marci from her seat Max sat down, his head in Cindy's lap.
Cindy took our baby and held her out for Max to sniff. He put his nose to her tiny hand then looked at me. "PROTECT, MAX. PROTECT". He sniffed again as Cindy rose from the car. I walked her outside and around the front of the house where the walkway curved gently up the slope to the living room door. I thought it would be much safer than climbing the stairs.
Soon I'd buy a gate to protect Marci from falling down the stairs. Okay…we wouldn't need it for months…not until she was able to crawl. When the hell did kids start to crawl, anyway? Maybe I should ask Lou Ann. We were just getting used to everything when I had to leave. Paul and Miriam had a noon flight and, even with the layover in Charlotte, would arrive in Myrtle Beach before four. I was standing just past security when they rushed out. They only had their carry-on's so a minute later we were in the short-term lot and on the way home.
"No pictures, John?" "Not yet, Miriam—I'm still getting used to the idea. Everything at home is in turmoil. Thank God we have Lou Ann to help out. I'm lost." "You mean the police chief's wife?" "Yeah, she volunteered.
I don't see that happening too often in New York." "You're tight…so, what's her name?" "Marci Esther." I could see Miriam smile in the rearview mirror. "I told you Paul." "You were right. Mom would be proud, John, but then she always was proud of you." "You, too, Paul; hell, your entire family is something to be proud of." "Yes, but we had every advantage—wealthy educated parents, best schools, plenty of money for everything we might need.
You didn't have much of that." "I had one thing, Paul—I had you and your family; turns out that was all I needed." We continued our chat until we were in the garage. Max bounded out as soon as I opened the door then led us up the stairs, stopping and turning to us several times before continuing.
He led us right to our bedroom where he stopped right in front of Marci's bassinette. Damn! How did this dog understand what was going on? Miriam was the first to hold Marci when she began to cry even changing her before handing her to Cindy so she could feed. I phoned for pizza delivery and helped Cindy to the kitchen when it was delivered. Walking to the bedroom, I found Max lying on the floor by the bassinette. I knelt and petting Max, I scratched his ears. "Sure you don't want to eat, boy?" He looked up at me, but stayed where he was, placing his head on his paws.
You might think he was resting or asleep, but I knew better. Max was on the job and totally alert. I petted his head again and went to eat.
Marci cried two hours later. This time it was Leia who beat me to the punch, bring her new sister to the living room for Cindy. Max followed and this was my opportunity to feed him. A number of uneaten pizza crusts on top of his food was enough to entice him away from his charge.
Max, like most dogs, eats at the speed of light so he was done and back on the job, seated at Cindy's feet until Marci was burped and back in bed. Paul and Miriam stayed through Sunday afternoon and it wasn't until I had returned from the airport that I learned they had left an envelope on their bed in the guest room. Typical of Paul; inside was a card and a check for a thousand dollars with a note to start a college fund.
Our lives started to come together after a month. Marci was sleeping for four hours at a time so we managed to get enough sleep almost every night.
She also had longer periods when she was awake and I enjoyed playing with her—tickling her feet and kissing her tummy or giving her my finger to hold and pull.
Her strength surprised me. Leia was back at UNC, but she phoned us several times a week. She was a senior now and was waiting for her medical school acceptances. She had wonderful grades and had scored in the ninety-fourth percentile on the Medical College Acceptance Test. Marci was five weeks old when she got the news—she'd been accepted at her first choice—Duke!
I congratulated her, but couldn't help myself when I teased her about Duke beating UNC at basketball. She took it in stride reminding me that Med School students don't have time for basketball. Marci began to spend more time awake and alert and, as she did, I began to play with her on the floor, placing her on an afghan that Lou Ann had knitted for her. She'd turn her head to look at me or Max and I'd shake a colorful ball that rang with a chime near her.
That was the first time we heard her laugh. As time passed Marci began to roll over and eventually to crawl. As much as I wanted her to crawl to me she usually aimed herself at Max. She loved to lie on his neck, stretching out and running her hands through his soft fur. Max never moved, except to touch her cheek with his nose. In May we began taking Marci to the beach. She was able to sit up and before Memorial Day we could take Max with us. We could relax a bit knowing that Max never left her side and God help anyone who came within ten feet of her.
Cindy recovered faster than I thought possible and was up and around in only a few days. Still, it was great to have Lou Ann there to help for the first two weeks. I stayed away from sex with Cindy at first, knowing that she had torn her vagina during the birth requiring stitches.
They were removed two weeks later, but I knew she wasn't completely healed.
I also knew she'd tell me when she was ready for sex again. Cindy had enjoyed our lovemaking every bit as much as I did. I'd gone out to play golf in late April—the first time in months—with Cindy's blessing. Imagine my surprise when I came home around 2:30 to find her reclining on our bed dressed only in a wine red baby doll outfit I'd bought her when we were first married. "Take your shower, John. I think we've waited long enough." I couldn't get to the shower fast enough, dropping my clothes on the floor en route.
I was still dripping wet when I returned to her arms, her lips, and her body. We melted together with a long deep kiss, the one thing we'd had plenty of over the past three months.
This one was special. Mid kiss Cindy's hand found my throbbing cock even as mine found her gushing pussy. "No foreplay, John; fuck me. Oh God, I need it." I moved over her and between her legs. Her hand pulled me into her. Damn, but it was wonderful—so warm and moist and surprisingly tight.
Cindy answered the question on my lips a second later. "I kept Marci up a bit after lunch so she'll probably sleep for hours. She'll be okay; her bodyguard has his eye on her. Oh…you feel so good, darling. Just do me. Fuck me and fill me with your cum.
You must have a gallon for me by now." I did, and much too soon I deposited all of it into Cindy. "I thought you'd cum quickly. It's okay; we can talk about something while you rest and I get you up again. Do you remember our chats from a year ago?" "You mean those little talks that turned our lives upside down?" She leaned up to kiss me.
"I knew you'd remember. You told me then that it was up to me whether we had a child then. Do you still feel the same way?" "Of course; you're the one who has to carry and give birth." "I'm glad you feel that way because I never started my birth control pills and I'm in my fertile time now. Can you forgive me for deceiving you?" "You mean…?" I was dumbfounded.
"Yes, darling…I thought that Marci should have a little brother. It's hard being an only child; ask Leia. With luck you've already knocked me up and, if not, you certainly will over the next twenty-four hours.
I'm planning to make love with you over and over. I love you so much." Cindy did work her magic on me and I managed to fill her one more time before Marci woke. Max ran in to us before she uttered even a sound. Max had begun sleeping with Marci as soon as we moved her into her crib.
His bed was now stored there full time. She wasn't wet so I brought her into our bed, placing her between us with Max looking on from the foot of the bed.
Other than eating and caring for Marci we spent the next two days in bed making love whenever I could get it up. Keeping in mind that I was 61 at the time you'll understand that I was exhausted when the sun rose two days later.
CHAPTER 11 Cindy was obviously a great planner because as she predicted Claire confirmed that she was pregnant again. "This is the last one, John. I'll have my tubes tied when I give birth." "No…I'll get snipped. It makes more sense. You're still young and&hellip." She interrupted me. "Please don't, John. I'm not all that young either and you're going to live a very long time with me. We both deserve it. All I want in life is your love and your children…two of them, besides, you owe me a son." "You never give up, do you?" "No…now give me a kiss." I did and then we went home.
Lou Ann was there babysitting and she was as thrilled as we were. Cindy phoned Leia and I phoned Paul. "You old dog," Paul told me. "This is great! Wait until I tell Miriam." We talked for about fifteen minutes before I let him go back to work.
Once again Cindy's pregnancy was uneventful, but she did win the bet this time. It was a boy although how anyone could tell from that blob on the ultrasound screen was a mystery I doubted Sherlock Holmes could solve. Marci was walking by the time Cindy delivered in January and, boy—was she excited! Lou Ann came to stay with her when I took Cindy to the hospital. This time everything took place at night and in the early morning. I had never thought of the hours an OB/GYN worked.
Claire was with Cindy all night, delivering our son at three in the morning. I sent texts to Leia and to Paul before returning home. I wasn't surprised to be greeted by Max even at that hour. I let him out then fell onto the bed, sleeping in my clothes. Marci woke me up before Lou Ann could reach her from Leia's room where she had slept overnight. I picked her up, thrilled to hear her say, "Dada" when I hugged her and told her she had a new baby brother.
Lou Ann changed and dressed her while I showered, shaved, and dressed. After I thanked Lou Ann I took Marci out for breakfast, driving us to Calabash where we stopped at a breakfast restaurant. I ordered an omelet and pancakes with juice and coffee. I poured half of the juice into a sippy cup for Marci and fed her omelet and pancake from my meal. We cleaned up in the men's room—Marci's a really sloppy eater—and I drove us down to Myrtle Beach in my new BMW 7-series sedan.
Cindy and I had loved the Lamborghini, but with a family it wasn't ever going to work—not with three or four of us and only two seats. We agreed it had to go, but where? I thought that Myrtle Beach was the wrong market so I took an excursion out to the triangle area, stopping in Raleigh at the BMW dealership.
Not surprisingly I was approached by a salesman as soon as I had opened the door. "May I help you, sir?" "I doubt it, but you can get your manager—the general manager—for me." "I'm sure I can help you, sir." "You think so? Can you take a $400,000 car in trade?" He gave me a startled expression then excused himself, returning a few minutes later with the head honcho. "I want two cars—a 7-Series sedan and a 4-Series convertible.
We can work out the colors and everything later. I'll be trading in my Lamborghini Aventador. It's a 2014 with less than 6,500 miles on it. I believe you'll owe me some money, too if you're interested in the deal." I handed him the keys and walked outside. My car had already attracted a crowd. He opened the door and took a seat.
"Can I take it on the road?" "Sure, but if you break it you bought it." He nodded and I stepped back out of the way. He returned twenty minutes later. "I don't know if I could ever sell it, but it sure is an incredible vehicle "I think you could, but it will take you a while.
In the meantime you'll have a big-time attraction. Just put it out near the road where it can be seen." "I'll have to think about it. How much would you want?" "I'm thinking fifty even though that means you'll get the much better deal. When I bought it I was single.
Now I'm married with a one year-old and another on the way. I also have a step-daughter at Duke Med. The 4-Series is for her…a surprise." I spent the next forty minutes looking at their stock and making my selections before driving to a motel. He said he had to speak with the owner. I'd return at ten the following morning after a night in the nearby Hilton. I phoned Cindy and told her things had gone pretty much as I figured and that I had to return tomorrow morning, probably to speak with the owner.
I almost cried when she held Marci up to the phone. She was too young to understand even though Leia had spoken to her at least a dozen times. Telling Cindy again that I loved her I ended the call and relaxed on my bed for a nap before dinner. I watched a ball game and read from my tablet before retiring early.
I walked in the dealership door at 10:05 to find the general manager and the owner waiting. We returned to the parking lot and, not surprisingly, the owner asked if he could take a spin. "Same deal as yesterday.okay?" I nodded with a smile. Twenty minutes later I had a deal. I signed over the title not to the dealership, but to the owner. "I'm an empty nester now and it's time I had some fun.
I think this'll do for a start." He left and I made the necessary arrangements for Leia's car. Both cars were ready by noon. I drove home knowing that Leia's car would be delivered at 5:30 tonight when I knew she'd be at her dorm.
I had been home for an hour as was playing with Marci when the phone rang. "John, there are some men here telling me I have a new car." "Yeah, all you have to do is sign the papers and change the registration and you're all set. Maybe you can sell that Beetle to one of your fellow students." "John, you are too much. I can't begin to thank you. A BMW! I'll be the envy of all my friends." "Make sure the salesman goes over everything with you.
All your maintenance for the next four years is covered; don't hesitate to take it in if it needs some work.
He'll explain everything to you." I turned the phone over to Cindy who spent the next fifteen minutes trying to get Marci to speak. My growing family went out to celebrate, driving to dinner in my new Beemer. Once we had brought Michael home we introduced him to Max.
He knew exactly what to expect now. He still slept in Marci's room, but I wondered what he'd do when we moved Michael to his. Everything was much easier, but that was to be expected. More than anything else, we were accustomed to sleeping two hours at a time. I recalled thinking as a kid that time dragged. It seemed that the older I got the faster time flew.
Before I realized it Marci was in pre-school and Mikey was an extremely active toddler. Thank God we had Max to run and play with him.
I got tired just watching them. We were in most respects a normal family except that I didn't have to work, we never worried about money, and one of us was always available to help out in school. After a lot of thought we agreed to try the public schools and we were pleasantly surprised.
Marci's teachers in kindergarten and first grade were excellent. We were thrilled when Michael had the same two, as well. We only had one problem when the kids became school-aged and it was a big one.
Max was eleven and nearing the end. He had trouble walking and his hips were horribly arthritic. I could barely get him into the SUV for the vet; I was there with Max when I got the bad news. Leaving Max there overnight I drove home for a discussion with my family—one that I dreaded. Cindy would understand, but explaining to my children would be terribly difficult if not impossible.
Marci could tell there was something wrong when they walked into the living room from the school bus. "What's wrong, Daddy? Where's Max?" Come here and sit with me. I have some bad news." I continued once my arms were around them. "Dogs don't live as long as people do. I think you already know that. Max is eleven now and, as dogs go, that's close to eighty. Max is in pain all the time. It's cruel and inhumane to allow that to continue.
The vet will have to put him down." I'd never used that term, but they knew what I meant. The four of us were in tears and stayed that way for longer than I would have liked. "I think we should go to see him tomorrow to say good-bye then Mommy will take you to school if you're able and I'll stay with Max until he's gone. It will be very sad and we'll all be crying by the time we're done, but Mommy and I have agreed that we'll go to the SPCA on Saturday and get you another dog.
It won't be Max and it won't be a guard dog, but it will be a member of our family." I hugged my kids tightly as we all cried again. The following morning was glum, something I dreaded more than anything I'd ever done. We could tell there would be no school for our kids today. I phoned the principal at 8:00 and explained. She understood; she was a dog owner, too. The crying started before I had backed out of the garage. The fifteen minute ride seemed more like three hours and then it got worse.
We walked into the vet's exam room to find Max lying on his side on a table. He could barely lift his head, but his tail thumped wildly. One by one we held and hugged him then Cindy took the kids to the lobby. I stayed to soothe Max—petting his head and talking to him--while the vet injected the compound into his vein. Five minutes later Max closed his eyes for the last time. I was crying like a baby when I went to pay the bill. As dark as that day was that's just how good Saturday was.
We were in the SUV with a good-sized cardboard box wedged between the kids' two car seats. We stopped at two places in Brunswick County but to no avail. Finally, we found the perfect puppy, a black lab-mix only about three months old, at the Hanover County Humane Society in Wilmington, about an hour away. It was wonderful to hear the kids laugh and squeal at the puppy's antics, but I wouldn't let them take him out of the box until we were in the garage.
He and about a hundred other puppies had been in small kennels along the wall of a long room. The kennels were understandably small so he had been forced to roll in his own wastes. I knew I could clean him up in seconds once we were home. I have a laundry tub in our garage, using it often to clean my golf equipment so once the water was warm I put the puppy into the tub and washed him thoroughly with a mild liquid detergent, the same stuff I had used with Max.
Then I stood back while Marci and Mikey used some old towels to rub him dry. They took him out back with some beach toys. Even at his age he was great at retrieving and every time he did they laughed and laughed. Cindy came to my side, wrapped her arm around my waist and pulled my head down for a kiss. Looking out across the yard to the waterway and beyond I realized that my life was perfect.
I had everything a man could want. I'd had the support of my adopted family--the Feinberg's--the unbridled love of two incredible women, and the total adoration of my children.
I'd made my mark when I was working and now I had a legacy that would follow me. More than anything I'd had luck—the luck to be in the right place at the right time. Speaking of time I looked down at my wonderful wife, suggesting we set some time aside tonight to share our love. Her smile and quick peck on my cheek told me it would be yet another perfect evening—one of thousands in the past and, hopefully, even more in the future.
EPILOG When Cindy told me that she wanted children I thought I'd be happy if I lived long enough to see them graduate high school. As a family we watched proudly as Leia graduated second in her class from Duke Med. Six years later I walked her down the aisle and was prouder still. Marci graduated from UNC and then Wharton, following in my footsteps while Michael attended Duke straight through med school. Now at ninety-two I look back on the past thirty-one years with the realization that these were the happiest years of my life.
No question—I had loved Rosie with all my heart, but having children with Cindy made my life brighter in every regard. That's not to say we never had problems. We did, like every couple, but we were mature enough to remember that more than anything else we loved each other.
We had planned to travel and we did as soon as Marci reached five. We began with trips within the U.S.—Disney World, Key West during a Christmas break, and a tour of the southwest before taking the kids to Mexico—the Riviera Maya—where we all played golf; then tours and river cruises of Europe.
Recognizing the value of being bilingual we began after school tutoring in Spanish three days a week. The kids sometimes complained, preferring to play, but what kid doesn't?
They were fully fluent by the time they graduated High School. I know—I seem to be bragging and I am. I have every reason to be proud of my offspring. Among the joys of my life were our dogs. I had originally bought Max because of Rosie's illness.
She was usually home alone and weak from her illness. Max had been a wonderful companion for me once Rosie had passed as he had been for Cindy and the kids. Then we adopted Sam. That's what they decided to call him. Where do kids get these ideas from? He was a lovable retriever who was as goofy as Max was serious. He lived for fourteen years and we cried again like babies when he had to be put down. Cindy and I had an active sex life all through my seventies even though we slowed down some.
Even now I recognize that familiar twinkle in her eyes several times a month. We retire to our room content in the knowledge that we can spend all night pleasuring each other. Mostly, we enjoy touching and cuddling with each other. We still sleep naked even though in my case it's no longer a pretty picture. My health is still good and I'm looking forward to becoming a grandfather again. It's great fun spoiling my grandchildren before leaving my children to straighten things out so I can fuck them up again.