Series: Bagel Series #7
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 29375
Character(s): Josh Lyman, Donna Moss, Jed Bartlet, Abbey Bartlet, Toby Ziegler, CJ Cregg, Charlie Young, Zoey Bartlet, Mallory O'Brien, Sam Seaborn, Ensemble
Pairing(s): Josh/Donna, Toby/CJ, Sam/Mallory, Jed/Abbey, Charlie/Zoey
Summary: The seventh installment in the Bagel series
Author Notes: Seventh installment in the Bagel series
Fajitas and Marguritas
Fajitas and Margaritas
By: Lisa [Lab7417@aol.com] and Pat [SSbpMN@aol.com]
Note: This is the seventh in the series including A Bagel and a Beginning, Chili with a side of 'The Jackal', Dinner and Dancing, Darts and Dresses, Josh and Donna's Weekend Getaway, and Would you hold me?
The West Wing was extremely busy Friday morning and the aides and secretaries were running around like crazy. Donna however had her schedule book under her knees where she was once more in the bathroom being ill. CJ had gone in after her every morning now and was taking the best care of her she could. They had kept it between the two of them because Donna didn't want to upset Josh. They emerged a few moments later and Donna appeared spotless in Josh's office. He, like everyone else was on the phone and she brought him three faxes, the two files he'd requested and a memo from Leo. "Toby's needs to see you yesterday he says," she spoke softly.
"Toby needs to get a life that doesn't involve me" Josh sighed. "Please tell him I said....no don't tell him that. Tell him I'll be right with him." He caught her arm then. "You look awfully clean" he smiled, "like you keep washing up." With that he kissed her and disappeared through the door.
"I don't care" Jed was screeching into the phone. "I am doing this. Abbey and I are doing this. Yes Zoey too. Gina will see to her safety, along with Lucas. I'm not concerned." "What are you doing?" Mrs. Landingham frowned, ''we can hear you down the hall. Use a modulated tone please." Jed glared at her. "Abbey and I are joining everyone at Leo's tonight. I'm not holding up in this white prison this time."
"That's going to be a secret service nightmare sir," Mrs. Landingham pointed out, "couldn't you just have the party here?" At a glare from Jed she sighed and went back to her work.
"Josh Lyman, just the man I was looking for," Toby said and then he closed the office door and picked up a stack of files. "I would like you to look over this report for me by the end of the day, here's the return on the last quarter's school test results please look over them and give CJ a heads up on the stuff to report. I'd handle it but I'm knee deep in the European Tariff and Trade report and the Middle Eastern Economic summit. Also here's the file on operation postnuptial that you wanted." Toby handed him the stack. "Keep an eye on CJ for me today please. Everything's so hectic I won't be able to watch her as much as I usually like to."
"Yes I will, on all counts" Josh assured him. "I was noticing Donna before too. She's been disappearing and then coming back more clean than when she left. Like she's sick and then goes and cleans up." He shook his head. "I'm taking her to the doctor at noon now remember. But we won't be gone long."
"It's probably just morning sickness Josh," Toby tossed that parting comment to him. Mandy whizzed past and was waiting for him in his office. She flung the door shut. "Someone's got to help CJ out," were her opening words. "She's about in tears in her office. Forty reporters have hounded her so far wanting interviews with her and Zoey and wanting to know about the White House's view on pregnant staffers and some have even made some terrible remarks about a pregnant woman's place was in the home. She's handling as best she can but we're all busy today and a lot of what we conclude is getting piled on top of her and in her condition...well you know CJ."
"Looks like I'm going to kill myself a reporter or two before lunch" Josh smiled at the thought, remembering his promise to Toby. "Thanks Mandy I'll take care of it" and he ran to CJ's office, finding her as Mandy said, at her desk, hiding behind a mound of Kleenex. "You OK?" he asked softly, "what exactly is the problem. I got the Mandy version, but I need the calm CJ version. That woman is going to win an academy award some day."
She pointed to the thirty call-waiting spots on her phone all of them lit up and blinking. "The press is having a field day with wanting to interview Zoey, some of them even want to interview me and the Wing is taking a beating for being so secretive and also for having pregnant staffers. I'm not making much headway. Those are calls 71 through 100 there on the phone and it's only 9:30. Don't worry though, I'll manage, it's my job." CJ finished with a sigh and then used another tissue.
"I'm going to speak to Leo because I think we need a clarification with the press" Josh said softly, putting his hand on her arm. "In the first place Zoey's private life is not now, nor has it ever been, up for discussion. And in the second, private lives of senior staff is not going to be either. Get some of the girls to help you return these calls. Tell them there will be briefing on this at 1130. Only I'll be joining you. You shouldn't have to deal with this alone."
CJ smiled appreciatively at Josh and then frowned, "Wait Josh...Donna's appointment is at 11...or was that 12? You can't miss that."
"This is only going to take a few minutes" Josh assured her, "no I'm not missing Donna's appointment by any means. We'll walk in and I'll read them the riot act and then we'll walk out. I'll have her there by noon easy."
CJ smiled at Josh and the rest of the morning was spent in preparation.
"Zoey about tonight" Charlie began hesitantly and hastily quieted at her look. "You're sure? That you feel up to it? You know I wouldn't nag if I didn't love you so much."
"I'll be fine. I'll stick to my chair and couches and I promise not to get too active or too excited. But I've got to escape here. I need out of this room, I need some fun and to hear some laughter." Zoey answered. "besides I'll have you to look after me."
"And don't you forget it" Charlie warned, "plus Gina and Lucas. And speaking of that, what's with these looks the two of them are giving each other here lately. Are they doing each other....I mean...sorry that was crude."
"I think there might be something between them," Zoey answered him, "though I don't think Gina's going to just go sleep with anybody. I'm glad I'm not the only one that's noticed though."
"I just know that I've talked several times and neither of them heard me" Charlie grinned, and to prove his point he leaned out so he could see into the hallway, helping Zoey to look with him.
"I'm looking forward to tonight" Lucas was whispering to Gina. "Bring your suit. I hear he's got a pool and two hot tubs. I'll wear my Speedo if you'll bring a bikini. And don't worry--I'll never be less than discreet and professional."
"Are you sure it's permissible to play around like that?" Gina replied in kind, "I mean with the President and First Lady there security is going to need to be tight. Will we have the time... Okay I'll bring a bikini."
"Woah, there's definitely something going on there," Zoey marveled, "good for Gina."
"The nice thing about the President and First Lady being there is the whole detail is called out and they're on official duty. Our jobs are to mingle with Charlie and Zoey, totally different. Besides I want to see where you and I are going to put our weapons with our bikinis" Lucas teased.
"Maybe her and Lucas will find the same thing we did" Charlie smiled and kissed her lovingly, rubbing the baby at the same time, what little there was of it.
Zoey smiled also and her mind began to formulate all of the possibilities. She watched Gina laugh at what Lucas had said. "You're very right Lucas," she replied with a smile.
Finally at 11:30 she walked in with Josh to a packed press room and everyone was looking to see if she was pregnant enough for it to show up in a photograph. She was of course still flat as far as the world knew. She stood with Josh and prayed that this would work and not get them into huge trouble.
"Good Morning" Josh began at once. "This is a briefing. No questions will be taken. It has come to my attention that the pregnancies of the President's daughter and his press secretary have come under unusual scrutiny. The following is to be considered a policy statement on that subject. Zoey's personal life is not fodder for the news media gossip mills. Except for an occasional mention that her health is fine, and that she and Charlie are beyond thrilled, the subject is off limits. We will not be discussing how she feels to be so young and pregnant, in an inter-racial marriage and pregnant, the President's daughter and pregnant or any other such drivel. Being young married and pregnant, living in this fish bowl, and in an inter-racial marriage are all difficult happenings in life. She does not need--nor does she deserve--to be hounded about any of that. As for CJ, it's even simpler." He looked around the room and spotted Lucy Cheatham, now eight months pregnant. "Ms. Cheatham, not to single you out maliciously, but you have been pregnant for your entire appointment with the Press Corps. Have you had a sonogram, how much weight have you gained, are you having a boy or girl, was this a planned pregnancy, how does your husband feel--you are married aren't you?" Lucy's hand went to her mouth and she looked in shock. Josh gave her a small smile. "I'm sorry, but I was making a point. CJ is a working expectant mother just as you are--she is a consummate professional, pregnant or not. Am I making myself clear here ladies and gentlemen, because let me remind you, press corps credentials are bestowed and can just as easily be revoked. That's all. CJ will be giving the normal one o'clock briefing. Good Morning." With that he stepped from the podium and offered his hand to CJ to help her down as the press began to disperse, muttering and murmuring.
CJ smiled at him, "I don't know what to say other than thank-you Josh. Maybe you should be Press Secretary, although I wouldn't want your job. I think that probably worked like a charm and I'll thank you and I'm sure the President will later." She stopped at the water fountain. "Good luck at your appointment," she smiled to him. Meanwhile Donna was in his office straightening his desk and going over his appointment book.
"I'll tell you all about it" Josh smiled and hurried to find Donna. "Let's go girl, food and doctor, but not in that order. And quit looking at that book. The only people I'm seeing for the next two hours are you and the doctor."
"Right," Donna said and then she rose too quickly and had to grab the desk a moment though she quickly recovered her balance. She walked with Josh out to the car and then sat nervously once they had arrived at the doctor's office.
"Leo good morning" Jed greeted him in his office. "Yes I know I could have called you to mine but I felt like a change of scene. About the Claiborne amend..." He stopped as he realized what was different. Next to the former single photo of Mallory on Leo's desk, were now several, including a large one of Caroline holding the twins, which Jed picked up. "Nice family" he smiled, "is your house surviving the onslaught of the twin terrors?"
"They're good about keeping the onslaught to their room and the den and Caroline always has the place spotless when I get in. I told her not to worry so much," Leo smiled at the picture as he sat back down. "We got the test results back...they're mine." Leo beamed brightly. He hadn't looked so happy in many, many years.
"You're not serious" Jed gasped in astonishment. "Oh Leo congratulations. That's totally incredible. And they're great kids besides. Are you going to make them McGarry's?"
"Yes I'm going to make them all McGarrys, even Chloe. Stephen turned over custody so I can adopt them when Caroline and I marry. The twins of course are mine already." Leo smiled, "Jed it's nice to have a second chance, to start over. This time around I'm going to spend time with Chloe and the twins. They're already very special to me. I haven't told Mallory yet, that she has a half sister and brother. I don't know how she's going to take it."
Jed shook his oldest friend's hand heartily. "I'm really thrilled for you. If you have a chance to speak to Mallory first, then you should announce this tonight. And Mal will be happy I think, not to mention she's busy with her own life, and Sam, of course. I can't picture her as anything but thrilled for you."
"We plan to announce it tonight but it was nice to share it with you first," Leo smiled, "I appreciate the support. It's not everyone who thinks a man my age should have such a young family."
"Are you kidding, I think it's wonderful" Jed enthused. "Caroline is wonderful too. It may even occur to you two that it wouldn't hurt to add one or two more, these that you're actually there for. I wouldn't trade anything for the times I was with Abbey."
"You knew what you were doing, making time for your wife and family. I always thought my job was so important. Now that I've learned my lesson I'm very thankful I've been given a second chance." Leo responded, "Now what was it you really came in here to talk about Mr. President?"
"I did come to ask you about the amendment" Jed smiled, "and honest I didn't want to just call you. I need to get out of that office more. That's why I insisted on coming tonight. I'm spending too much time holed up in there myself. I've got a wife I'm in love with, a daughter I adore and soon a grandchild. I know running the country is a priority but there has to be time for a life too." Leo's phone rang before he could speak further. His private line and when he answered all he could hear was a dog barking, a cat screeching and finally Caroline's voice. "Leo there are bomb sniffing dogs in your living room."
Meanwhile Leo was standing still, frozen in his office, "Caroline," he gasped before looking up to Jed with shock on his face, "there are bomb sniffing dogs in my living room." then it dawned on him. "Caroline it's okay sweetie, with the President and First Lady coming tonight along with Zoey and Charlie, the secret service is just doing a sweep as if it were any other place the President was going." "Well you've got three scared cats, two squalling babies and a fiancée that's about had it over here!" Caroline called back. There was a crash then, "and one broke vase," she sighed in despair.
"Leo get out of here" Jed smiled, "there is nothing that can't wait until Monday. Take the Claiburne info home and write me up your thoughts. Go on now. I'm declaring an early day anyway."
Leo gave a sigh of relief, "Thank-you. It's been so hectic this morning. CJ and Toby especially need a break. CJ seems to have been swamped trying to deal with an uncooperative press concerning hers and Zoey's pregnancies." Leo hurriedly gathered his things. "Gone." he said with a smile and he was soon on his way to Caroline and his children.
Donna was worse when they called her name. They ran all of the tests and exams on her and then she was left to wait, feeling uncomfortable in her cotton gown but thankful that Josh was there with her.
"Ok what's all the fuss in here?" Dr. Christy Barkley smiled when she came through the door. "My chart says I've got a normal, healthy, twenty-five-year-old woman who works at the White House, who happens to be pregnant by the deputy chief of staff. What's the big deal?"
Donna's eyes got wider and wider as did her smile. "Pregnant?! I'm really pregnant?! I really, really am? Josh, Josh I'm pregnant. We're going to have a baby! We got our baby! You did it! We did it!" She enthused hugging him and then bursting into happy tears. It was very obvious that this baby was very much wanted.
"We did it my love, WE" Josh yelped and then held her, stroking her hair as he trembled with his own excitement. "Then this was a planned pregnancy I take it" Christy smiled. "Good then. Donna, vitamins, rest, normal precautions. I'm going to take a look at you too. How's your morning sickness--problem?"
"I have been SO sick all week," Donna finally confessed, "the press secretary has been taking time out of her morning schedule to sit with me and nurse me back to health. Plus I've had dizzy spells." Donna followed Christy's motions to prepare for the exam.
"And this is the first I'm hearing of it?" Josh exploded. "Why--why Donna?" "Mr. Lyman you're answering your own question" Christy said gently. "She has enough to deal with right now without being concerned about your reaction and your upset."
"I didn't want you to get your hopes up Josh and I also didn't need you to get all worked up. CJ was very helpful because she stayed calm and didn't worry over me in a panic sort of way. You're going to need to try to do that too. After all, just because we now know I'm pregnant doesn't mean that the morning sickness is just going to go away. I'm going to need and want you by my side a lot." Donna responded calmly, holding Josh's hand while Christy examined her.
"OK I'm calm" Josh sighed, holding out a hand in proof, and seeing it shake hastily put it behind his back. "Work on it Mr. Lyman" Christy smiled, "now get out of here so I can check her and we need to take some blood."
"I'll be fine," Donna smiled at his hesitant look and shooed him off to allow the doctor to finish.
Josh paced the waiting room nervously until he was readmitted. Donna was now sitting on the edge of the bed, holding a wad of cotton on her inner elbow, with a tear in each eye. "I'm afraid she doesn't like blood tests" the nurse smiled. "Hey sweetheart" Josh was at her side at once. "I'm sorry, you ok?"
"I'll be better in a while, they just make me light headed and nauseous and it scares me. Plus I hate needles," Donna replied.
Josh held her close and kissed her cheek. Christy came and took her blood pressure again, noting her paleness. "OK Donna, back down" she ordered, "I'm not having a patient passing out in here. Just lay down for a few minutes until that passes. I don't want you leaving until I check your blood work anyway."
Donna eased back down and then jerked back up barely finding the trashcan, thankfully near the end, before being ill. After wiping her mouth she was finally able to lie down. "Oh Josh I hope nothing's wrong. You don't think anything's wrong do you?" she asked him, her eyes wide with concern.
"No I don't think anything is wrong" he said soothingly, stroking her hand. "She's just checking so she can be sure we leave here with what we need for you, like vitamins and so forth." He put a wet paper towel to her forehead at the same time and kissed her softly. "I love you Donnatella Moss" he whispered.
"I love you Joshua Lyman," Donna replied with a soft smile before she closed her eyes to try and relax. "We're going to have a baby," she said softly, her face glowing.
"Nice easy breaths" Josh encouraged. "I do believe a baby was the earlier diagnosis. We did it all right. It was that pillow thing."
Donna smiled, "That sounds about right, a little bit of gravity did the trick. I can't believe I'm really pregnant. I'm so thrilled."
"As am I" Josh nodded happily, squeezing her hand hard. "OK Donna" Christy came back in then. "Looks good, not bad at all. I'm going to want to do a sonogram next month and I'm giving you a prescription for vitamins and iron. Do twins run in your family?" "Oh my god" Josh gasped and sat down.
"Not that I know of," Donna mumbled in shock. She looked to Josh wide-eyed to gauge his reaction.
"OK, just wondering" Christy nodded, looking at her chart. "Your HCG levels are a bit high for someone just a little far along. In thirty days we can do a sonogram and that will tell us for sure. In the meantime, I'm going to have you to take this extra iron just in case. If it's not, then you can cut back the dose then. That's all. Just rest when you can, no stress, no heavy lifting---good common sense will get you through all but delivery most of the time." And she left them alone. Donna had not moved nor spoken since the notion of twins was broached. "Twins maybe?" Josh grinned, "you think maybe?"
Donna smiled, "It sure would be neat if it was. Two babies instead of one. I mean maybe we'd even get a boy and a girl. Oh Josh I'm just so thankful we're having one. I can't wait to tell everyone tonight." Donna was finally recovered and taking her prescriptions she returned with Josh to the West Wing after they had picked up two giant French dip subs.
When Leo arrived he wasn't surprised that he and his car were searched. Then he quickly joined her and Belle immediately wanted up in his arms while Caroline had a squalling Brighton. "Leo I'm at my wit's end and so tired..." she sighed softly.
Leo sighed. "I know--it's what happens when you entertain the leader of the free world." He helped her to sit and then brought her a tall ice tea, all the while carrying Belle. Finally he turned to the men still invading his home. "Out -- you're done" he ordered. "Mr. McGarry we're..." "Done" Leo supplied. "You can come back early this evening if you have to, but right now you're clearing out of here. I'll not have you upsetting my pregnant wife."
Caroline smiled and watched as he effectively cleared the house. Then she tossed her feet up onto the couch and in less than five minutes he could tell she was sound asleep.
"Let's hit the pool guys" Leo smiled to the twins, "leave mommy sleep." He looked up the stairs and wondered briefly where Chloe was.
Suddenly Chloe burst into the house, "What's wrong?" she asked anxiously. "Why are you home? Is mom okay?" she finally took a breath and plopped down her shopping bags and herself with an exhausted sigh.
"Chloe hello to you too" Leo smiled. "Everything is fine. Your brother and sister coupled with Protective Services have driven your mother crazy but a nap will fix her up. It's just for tonight and there's going to be a lot of men stationed outside. Just ignore them, and they'll not bother you. I'm home to give your mother a break, because the president of the U.S. is one of the nicest guys in the world to work for." He stopped and looked at her haul. "Something new for tonight with Tucker is all this?"
"Well I got some new clothes. I'm sure I'll wear something in here tonight and definitely the new heeled sandals I got. There was a sale and I couldn't pass it up," Chloe answered with a relieved smile, "I'm so glad nothing's wrong."
"Yeah so am I " Leo sighed. "She called me and said she had bomb sniffing dogs in the living room and I panicked of course before I remembered it's routine when the president is coming." He gave her shoulder an affectionate pat and then kissed her forehead. "You know what--I'm glad you're my daughter" he said softly.
Chloe smiled and laughed lightly, "You may not be when you see what I cost. Mother says her life with you is like being Cinderella and she gets to go to all these parties and I think that's neat. I try to have some class and style too." Chloe disappeared then taking off upstairs. She reappeared a few minutes later in a beautiful black cocktail dress with her hair in a cascade of curls down her back.
"Chloe my child you look beautiful" Leo smiled, "but I thought you already had Tucker for your own? You look like you're still out to snare him."
"It never hurts to remind them why they're there. After all if mother just dressed normal all the time I'm sure you'd get tired of her. Isn't this beautiful. It's exactly the same style as the one Julia Roberts wore to the restaurant in Pretty Woman." Chloe enthused. "I'm going to wear it just for fun."
''I think I missed that one" Leo nodded. "Well you look beautiful. I'm going to take the kids out to the pool for a little while before I get dressed. You want to wake your mom in a bit so she can shower?"
Upon arriving Josh and Donna found that most everyone had begun to depart for the party. "Guess we can go home and get ready ourselves" Josh smiled, gathering up a few things to work on over the weekend. He made the short drive to his apartment and once inside closed the door and then swept her up in his arms, carefully swinging her once. "Twins my love, you could be having twins right this second."
Donna smiled and gleefully yelled with him. Then they shared a shower before she put her hair up into a French twist and slipped on a flouncy bright red dress that fell mid-thigh. She added some silver jewelry to the attire and soon looked stunningly casual.
"Donna promise me you'll be careful tonight and eat wisely" Josh begged as he fastened his tie. "Fajitas taste awfully good going down but they'd be horrible coming back up."
Donna shrugged, "I can't stop enjoying things just because I can't keep them down. I might be able to after all. I'll be cautious but you know fajitas are one of my favorite foods." She walked with Josh to the car.
Caroline was showered and dressed in periwinkle top and shorts just in time to greet CJ and Toby, the first arrivals. CJ had on a soft gray T-shirt type dress, which looked very relaxed on her. Even Toby was casual as he brought in all of the groceries and CJ and Caroline readied the kitchen to cook the Mexican. "This is going to be a great party," Caroline enthused. "I could really use one tonight," CJ replied with a smile.
The doorbell rang and when Leo answered it Mallory and Sam greeted him, Sam with a smile and Mallory with a big hug.
"Bad day?" Caroline asked. "I saw you at one on Cspan, but that was about the time the dogs were in here, the cats were freaking and the kids were terrified. I had a migraine the size of Colorado and I didn't want to take anything for it."
"I don't hear the sirens yet so I'm assuming the president is not right behind you" Leo grinned and kissed Mallory's cheek. "Welcome number one daughter. I have three now you know."
"Yes I know," Mallory smiled, "I have one beautiful younger sister and then an adorable baby sister and brother. How lucky can one woman get?" She walked in on Sam's arm and she seemed much happier than she had been in quite some while recently.
"Oh dear," CJ replied, "sounds like the morning I had came to visit you in the afternoon. You don't like to take medication?" CJ asked conversationally while they put the enchiladas in the oven to cook and began preparing the fajitas.
"CJ I'm pregnant" Caroline whispered. "I just found out a couple days ago. At my age, with the twins and a teenage girl."
Josh drove down the street toward Leo's only to be stopped by the motorcade, small by the usual standards. "'We'll just pretend we belong to them" he grinned, pulling over as the police directed. "Shall we wave as he passes?"
"Yeah well there's more where that came from" Leo murmured. "Hello Sam."
"Oh wonderful, congratulations," CJ smiled. The women began putting together the fajitas and steak soft tacos and soon the house was smelling fabulous. CJ set out bowls of salsa and chips also other kinds of dips. "Be careful around Donna though. She's real sensitive about pregnancy nowadays."
Donna laughed and they did in fact wave as the President passed. "We're as crazy as a couple of school children."
"Hello, Leo, if I might have a word alone with you please," Sam tugged him aside. "Mallory got her diploma today only she doesn't know it. I wanted to give you the opportunity to present it to her tonight and really make it special for her. She got top honors. I see it's all paid off."
"Oh wow" Leo gasped looking past him at his eldest daughter. "I'm incredibly proud of her. I just hope I can convey that to her. Thank you Sam." He suddenly gave his younger friend a quick hug.
"Yeah I will" Caroline nodded, "but wasn't she going to the doctor today? I hope she's gotten good news."
Josh pulled in behind the president's motorcade and followed it the rest of the way to Leo's. As soon as the sirens sounded out front the twins were out the door.
Donna saw them and gasped, "Josh twins!" she called as they were racing out, straight for the street.
Meanwhile Sam handed Leo Mallory's diploma discreetly. While Caroline and CJ continued in the kitchen, the great smell wafting through the house. "I hope she got good news as well." CJ smiled.
Donna helped gather up the twins and then Josh could get their bags. "You two weren't supposed to get out," she cooed as she carried them in.
"Heads up, twins on the tarmac" Josh called as they followed the president in. "I didn't even know they were gone" Leo sighed, "Thank you. Though with the fence they couldn't have got far, still I'd hate for Caroline to be upset that they were gone like that."
Josh helped Donna in with more care than he had used before, catching Leo's eye. "Good news today at the doctor?" he whispered to her.
"CJ if you don't get out of that kitchen and come take a break I'm going to remove you bodily" Toby threatened.
"Okay, everything's done," CJ said and then she appeared a moment later and curled next to Toby.
Donna smiled politely to Leo and then they entered the main room. "Guess what everyone," Donna smiled getting their attention and flushing softly as she cuddled against Josh. "I'm pregnant. That vacation did the trick."
"Thank you" Toby sighed, handing her a glass of juice and taking her to a sofa, "and it smells wonderful and you're not....." He stopped short at Donna's announcement. "Oh Donna that's fantastic" Mallory spoke up and led a round of applause. "Not to steal Donna's thunder but just to share it, Caroline and I are also expecting" Leo announced when the pandemonium had died down. This time Jed stood up, "a round of margaritas and a toast to the expectant mothers" he pronounced. Glasses were filled except for the pregnant women and all hands raised. "To life" Jed said simply.
"To life," everyone echoed happily and clicked glasses before Donna and Josh joined Toby and CJ on one couch while Sam and Mallory and Abby were on the other. Finally, Zoey was carefully wheeled in by Charlie and followed by Gina and Lucas. "This is going to be a great party," Donna enthused to Josh.
"And we're celebrating, that makes it even better" Josh replied, kissing her cheek. "I love you."
Tucker finally arrived at the front door and was admitted by the security force. "I was getting concerned" Sam greeted him. "Yeah I couldn't get away" he growled, already looking around for Chloe.
Chloe appeared on the stairs, that opened onto the den where they all were, in a strapless red tube dress with an empire waist length jacket made entirely of pearls. Her hair was still in a cascade of curls down her back. She had on beautiful white sandal style heels that matched the color of the jacket. She smiled at Tucker and everyone else watched in awe. "I want one of those jackets," CJ whispered to Toby.
"Do they come in maternity?" Toby whispered back. "That girl does not look fifteen. At least not like any of the fifteen year olds I recall when I was Tucker's age."
Tucker stood at the bottom of the stairs and held his hand to her. "You look fantastic" he breathed, "I've never seen anything more beautiful." She took his hand and came the rest of the way into his arms. "I love you" he said into his ear for only her to hear.
"I wouldn't want one in maternity anyhow," CJ returned. "I can wait and wear it later. I'm sure I'll be unpregnant more than I'll be pregnant in the long run." CJ looked Chloe over, "no she's not your average fifteen going on sixteen year old but then neither are most of the models you see in magazines."
"I love you," Chloe replied back with a smile and then she kissed him softly on the cheek. "I'm glad you made it," she said now speaking in a normal voice, "was the traffic bad? Doesn't it smell great in here?"
"Better than Don Pablo's Taco Emporium" Tucker declared, slipping his arm around her waist to lead her to the kitchen. "Mr. Seaborn--Tucker that is" Jed called. "I don't believe my wife has met you or your lovely date." "Oh right we haven't met Mrs. Bartlett" Tucker whispered, walking her now toward the president and Abbey.
"Charlie quit fussing over her" Gina finally scolded after he attempted to tuck the light blanket over her legs for the fourth time. "She's fine, but you're not going to be if she hits you upside the head because you're driving her nuts. Go get us all something to drink will you."
Chloe smiled softly, "Good evening Mrs. Bartlett. It's a pleasure to meet you. I'm Chloe, Leo's daughter."
Zoey laughed as they watched Charlie retreat into the kitchen where Mallory was pouring drinks. "Thanks Gina." Zoey smiled where Gina was sitting next to Lucas. "It sure is nice to be out tonight."
"I'm pleased to meet you" Abbey smiled and looked to Tucker. "Tucker Seaborn ma'am, an honor and a pleasure." "Chloe you look wonderful. Leo must be very proud of you. It doesn't seem that long ago since our Zoey was your age and now she's married and soon to make us grandparents."
"We're glad to have you out" Gina smiled, leaning slightly into Lucas, letting their shoulders touch. "I've missed doing just normal things with you. But you feel like you're getting your strength back?"
Chloe smiled politely, "We grow up quickly. I'm happy I'll get to meet your daughter tonight. Was she in a car accident or something?" Chloe asked concerned.
"Oh yes," Zoey replied, "I'm feeling much better and the doctor said he may knock a week off my bedrest sentence if I keep doing so well!"
"See this stuff is only news in DC" Abbey smiled, "outside people live normal lives and aren't that concerned about the first family's private life. She had an acute appendicitis attack during her wedding and collapsed. We might have lost her from blood loss or infection; but she's fine now and happily pregnant."
"I'm glad" Gina smiled, "because I'm ready to start getting out again with you. Keeping you cooped up in there isn't healthy for either of us; and now we have Lucas joining us when Charlie is along." Lucas's arm went around her waist almost imperceptibly and then he excused himself to see to his charge. "You may have noticed I like him a lot" Gina flushed.
Chloe's eyes widened and then she glanced to Zoey to see if she could see anything. "Wow well congratulations and I'm very glad that nothing too bad happened to such nice people."
"Yeah," Zoey replied, "I think you two are cute together. I also remember that pregnant agent remark of yours. You can't leave me Gina. You're like my best friend."
"You are mine" Gina told her sincerely. "If I were to get pregnant I wouldn't tell anyone for a long time, not until I had to at least. A lot of agents are mothers, with their children in day care or with grandmothers. My mom would take care of mine if I had to go out of town--she's already told me. No I'm not in any immediate rush, but a baby is in my plans. Trouble is that man I work with is the only man I'd consider having it with, and I don't know how interested he is."
"Thank-you dear" Abbey patted her arm, "how do you like DC?" She looked at Tucker and smiled, "or maybe you have a very good reason for liking it here?"
"He looks pretty darn interested to me? I mean he works your shift and his shift just so he can talk to you. You've been several places. Besides he looks at you like he adores you. I wonder if he and Charlie talk like you and I do...nah, I doubt it." Zoey laughed, "I do want you to have a baby Gina, if that's what you want. I'll certainly be rooting for you."
"I have lots of reasons for liking it here and I do," Chloe answered, "DC is fascinating. I love the shopping centers and I love getting to go out and do all sorts of things but the greatest thing is getting to go to the White House. Government fascinates me. It's my favorite class and to see the inside of the West Wing and to have met the President well I have all I could ask for in the world. I envy Dad for getting to work there, getting to make a difference like that."
Tucker tightened his arm across her shoulders and laughed, "all good reasons Mrs. Bartlet but the main reason she wants to stay is me--at least I hope it is."
"Thanks" Gina blushed. "Something to think about I guess. Lucas would make a great dad. He loves kids. At the worst I'd have to take an inside the white house job for the six months or so of my late pregnancy and recovery. I could mind you inside, just not go into the field where there's more danger of encountering a problem."
Charlie stood by the back door with his drink, sensing Gina and Zoey were talking. "My man" Lucas called to him in the easy rapport they had developed. "Giving the ladies some privacy I see." Lucas picked up a drink and walked over with him. "You think those ladies are talking about us?"
"You know they're talking about us," Charlie replied easily, "this is Zoey we're talking about and have you seen the way they keep looking for us. I think Zoey's trying to hook you two up. She wants everyone to be happy and in love recently. I think it's a pregnancy thing."
"Of course I like being here because of you," Chloe smiled and laughed lightly at Tucker. "You wouldn't be jealous would you?" she kissed him on the cheek.
"Okay everyone, fajitas, steak soft tacos, beef and cheese enchiladas," CJ called out, "come in here and get served. We have all the toppings, even guacamole-" "Yes!" Donna spoke up eagerly. "and sour creme," CJ continued, "plus rice and beans but get in line and Caroline and I will get your main course served up. No one can touch that but me or it won't have CJ's seal of good cooking." Everyone laughed and got in line. "Steak soft tacos," Donna requested having made it first in line. She took three and then coated them with sour cream and guacamole adding beans and rice to the side before taking a seat at the informal tables that had been set up.
"Sam I'm staying at your house tonight" Josh teased, eyeing the beans on Donna's pile. "Or maybe not" he added, seeing what Mallory was doing with her beans and sour cream. "She still dips oreos in salsa" Sam sighed. Gina pushed Zoey into the line and Charlie hurried to her side. "Thanks Gina, Charlie will help." Zoey smiled. "You and Lucas fix plates and go find a quiet place to enjoy your dinner please. I'm fine and there's a dozen people to help me if I need something my husband can't handle." Lucas grinned and brushed a light hand across Gina's back. "We could take our plates to one of the tables in the garden and maybe walk a bit after--wouldn't be gone too long."
Gina smiled, "That sounds wonderful." They gathered their plates and made for the outdoors. "I thought everyone was staying tonight?" CJ questioned. "We packed our bags, Josh is just being funny," Donna replied. Leo looked amused by the oreos in salsa bit. His daughter had never done that before. In fact she had never liked salsa before. CJ was really packing away the food, even on top of the chips, dips, and olives she'd been eating all evening. "Oh CJ this is incredible Mexican!" Caroline commented happily. "Yeah this is terrific, where did you learn to cook like this?" Donna inquired. "I don't know. It just comes natural to me and I love to do it," CJ replied with a smile, "I'm glad everyone likes it." "Well breakfast is on me," Caroline smiled.
Leo glared at her but remained silent, instead simply vowing to get up and help.
"Of course I'm jealous" Tucker grinned, walking Chloe to a table on the deck. "What you said before" he went on in response to her look. "I want me to the be the main reason you're glad we're here." He lowered his voice even though there was no one around. "So what's the plan for tonight? Can we conveniently fall asleep in front of the TV or what? I just want a night with you sleeping in my arms."
"We're going to conveniently fall asleep watching movies in my room, after all, who really cares? My Dad knows and I don't think Sam's all that worried..." Chloe answered, "as for what else you said, of course you're my favorite reason for being glad to be here. You just can't be the focus of my every waking moment Tucker. We'll fall apart if we do that and we'll ruin a really good thing. I would hate for that to happen." She leaned in and kissed him passionately.
"I understand" Tucker assured her with a smile. "Just so I'm the focus of it when we're together. I think the movie thing works well anyway. Besides once they all have a few of those margaritas and settle down they won't be too concerned what we're doing."
With the house still in sight but secluded from prying eyes, Lucas sat down with Gina, their plates loaded with Mexican food. "You know if we're attacked tonight I'm going to be too lethargic to locate my weapon" he sighed. "Actually that isn't real funny. I hope never to have to fire, and certainly never when you're around. And don't give me that 'I can take care of myself' look. I imagine you can outshoot me--it's just the thought of you being in danger that's upsetting."
Gina smiled, "I know Lucas, I know." she said softly as she laid her hand on his and left it there. They ate in companionable silence for a long while afterwards, just reveling in being able to be together.
"Aren't we due to have a couple days in a row off soon" Lucas spoke up, taking a deep breath for courage. "If so, I was thinking something like Ocean City for a couple days, you and me, eat some seafood, ride some rides, play stupid boardwalk games, walk on the beach at night--stop me as soon as I get too lame here please."
"Hey that sounds really great," Gina suddenly smiled, "I never would have thought of something like that in a million years but I've never been to Atlantic city. I'd love to go!"
"A gambler?" Lucas was astonished. "You want to go drown some nickels in the slots and see some shows? I love the idea. What appeals to you for accommodations? Cottage, motel, or something high rise?"
"I'd really like to stay in something fancy. My favorite part of getting away is the hotel. I don't gamble that much but the sight-seeing and game playing sounded great. I'll try my luck at things." Gina replied.
"I'll make some reservations" Lucas smiled, "check what days we're off and let you know." He took her hand and kissed the back. "We're really going to do this thing now aren't we? It's not just talk?"
"Of course I'll go," Gina replied with a light laugh, "I said I would. I want to." She was silent for a minute. "Lucas...are we going to share a room?"
"I uh...." Lucas stammered. "I uh...OK, what do you think? I want to, but I understand if you're not comfortable with that. Besides just because we have the same room doesn't mean anything has to happen that we don't want."
"I say we try it out tonight and see if we like it," Gina replied with a smile and a lot of bravado.
Lucas drew his breath in sharply. "How...how do we do that?" he stammered. "I know we're staying over but....."
Lucas leaned over and kissed Gina, knowing they were secluded from the others. "I would like very much to share quarters with you tonight."
"What happens if we get caught?" Gina asked him. She always wanted to know the ramifications of her actions, being a very cautious and thoughtful woman.
"The main focus will be on the first couple" Lucas said slowly. "What if we four, Charlie and Zoey, you and me, kind of move to another end of the house and settle in. Once they're asleep we'll be in a nearby room and we can be together but watching out for them at the same time."
"Sounds wonderful," Gina replied, "but umm Lucas...I can't guarantee that anything will happen so don't...well don't get upset..." she fidgeted.
"Hey" Lucas brushed his fingers across her cheek. "That's not what this is about, or even this weekend. It's about spending time with you, wanting to be near you. Plenty of time for that as we see where we're going with us."
Gina smiled, "Thanks...you're great Lucas. I do promise to at least wear some lingerie for you tonight. It's all I brought." she laughed lightly.
"Whoa" Lucas gasped and pulled back from her slightly. "I'm impressed and amazed. I brought silk lounging pj's myself, but I didn't know if I'd have the courage to pull them out of my bag. Certainly not until there's no chance I'll encounter anyone but you, and maybe Charlie and Zoey."
Gina laughed, "oh you mean you don't want me to call an all guard alert? Okay, okay...we'll keep it just between us and maybe Charlie and Zoey."
"I don't know that either of them will have any appreciation of me in maroon silk" Lucas smiled and stood up, pulling her to her feet. "Shall we walk off this food and then get back to work?"
"Yes that sounds wonderful," Gina replied easily. She looped her arm in his and they walked the beautiful gardens. "I wonder what the others are up to."
Josh returned from getting another drink and plopped next to Donna, studying her closely before satisfying himself the Mexican food was sitting well for the moment--at least she wasn't up and running. "How come you didn't mention the twins?" he whispered, "is the thought too scary?"
"Oh wow!" Donna suddenly spoke up, "I totally forgot to mention something. The doctor thinks I could be having twins. Well we could be having twins, Josh and I." "Oh wow, congrats," CJ enthused with a smile, "and I think it's you who'll be having the twins, after all, we women have the hard part." "Oh excuse me?" Jed jumped in, "I beg to differ. After all the men are the ones that have to judge and soothe all the mood swings. We have to get up at all hours of the night and run out to satisfy cravings. We have to become expert masseuses and we have to learn what to say and what not to say which changes from day to day."
"Yeah if you've had all that experience at it why are you not good at it?" Abbey demanded. "I swear I cried more through pregnancy than I did the whole rest of my life."
Jed only grunted in response and Donna laughed. "Now Toby doesn't seem to have it bad at all," Donna pointed out. "It's early yet," Abbey replied. "Oh," the women all answered. "Anyhow enough about that," CJ answered, "what went on in the rest of the Wing today since I never got out of my office except to give briefings."
"Toby had an argument with the water cooler" Josh spoke up. "Did you notice he had on a different shirt all of a sudden?"
"Come to think of it..." CJ began and then looked to Toby. Everyone laughed, even Toby. "That's okay...Josh obviously must not need an assistant as bad as he thinks he does," Donna began, "I've spent at least twenty minutes minimum a day in the bathroom with CJ and neither of us have been missed. Toby frowned at CJ. "Not me, her," CJ said pointing to Donna. Toby relaxed.
"I just figured she was off running some fool errand" Josh muttered, "but I did raise hell at the doctor's office today when she admitted that she had been ill all week." He hooked his arm around her neck and pulled her to his shoulder, kissing her forehead. "Well I think that......oooofff" Jed exclaimed as Brighton hurtled across the room and landed in his lap. "Potty" he announced. "Leo your son has just asked the leader of the free world to take him potty" Mallory laughed.
"And he better get with it too," Leo said with a huge grin, "Brighton doesn't wait long for a response." Everyone laughed and Leo moved to get up and deal with him anyhow but was only mid-rise from his chair when he was stopped.
"The boy asked me" Jed said firmly, giving Leo a quick push back onto his chair and he scooped Brighton up. "Ok big boy we can..." He stopped and gave a short laugh. "I haven't experienced this in years." He lifted the boy away and a solid wet circle was on his shirt. "See the secret service can't protect from every disaster."
The senior staff all looked at each other silent for a moment trying to gauge what was going to happen. The president smiled and then suddenly everyone laughed, except Brighton who looked sullenly remorseful and who presently began to cry because he was wet and it was stinging. "Did not move fast enough," CJ commented. Donna was leaned happily against Josh. "That was the best Mexican and I'm not even the slightest bit nauseous. It's fortunately going to stay down."
"Thankfully" Josh nodded and kissed her. "I keep thinking what the doctor said about eating and iron and so forth. I guess I can't help worrying."
"Why don't I show both of you where you can change" Leo grinned, not moving to take his son since Jed was already wet. He ruffled Brighton's hair. "You just assaulted the president" he grinned, "you could be arrested by the secret service."
Everyone laughed and the president went with Brighton to change. "I know, worrying is natural and I don't mind," Donna answered. "Yeah I never would have imagined Toby was a worrier," CJ spoke up, "but low and behold...and you know...I like it." CJ smiled and kissed Toby lovingly. It was very easy to see they loved each other.
"And I only show half of what I feel" Toby sighed, "but I know she's going to do what she's supposed to and that reminds me. Josh I finally heard what you did this morning. I owe you buddy."
Josh smiled, "CJ's a special lady and she doesn't need anything downing her special time here. I didn't do anything anyone else on the staff wouldn't have done." CJ smiled and blushed. "I really am trying not to be demanding," she noted. "No, no," Abbey spoke as Jed was returning, "pregnancy is a hard time. If you need a little extra help here and there you ask. These are big boys they can take a little from time to time. You've a lot on your plate and if you even think you might be overdoing then you probably already are doing too much. These guys are looking out for you pretty well though I'd say." "Oh yeah they're doing a fine job. I'm not showing yet so we haven't had any shamu jokes," CJ retorted.
"No Shamu" Josh grinned, "but I'm keeping a file of the best zingers for the right moment. What I'm waiting for is in about seven months how you're going to mount the podium in the press room." Toby looked at once horrified. "I hadn't thought about that."
"I'm going to mount the podium with grace and dignity like I always have," CJ answered seriously. "I'm not going to slack in my duties just because I'm having a baby. After all this hopefully isn't going to be the last baby I have."
"I was only thinking of your safety" Josh added hastily. "Those podium steps are narrow and slick, and add a nine months pregnant woman and it doesn't sound attractive."
"She's not going up those steps without assistance," Toby suddenly said decidedly. "So what is everyone going to drop what they're doing and help me do my job," CJ returned. "Yes I think someone should be there to help you up onto the podium, that will take all of five minutes and people could trade off." Toby planned.
"I'll make sure of it any time you're not around" Josh said seriously. "And that brings up whether there are other areas around the Wing that might not be good for pregnant women. We bound around there all the time without thinking, like little steps and loose rugs maybe. It's something that needs looking in to."
Toby nodded his agreement. "Okay, how about a good game of Uno all around or maybe some dancing..." Sam suggested, "let's get this party going."
"Both" Leo declared, pulling out some card decks and flipping on the stereo at the same time.
"Chloe" Tucker said at once, pulling her to her feet and leading off the dancing.
Chloe tried to Waltz while Tucker was going to do otherwise and their feet were quickly tangled making them land on the ground with a thud. Chloe merely laughed.
Meanwhile CJ, Toby, Josh, Donna, Sam, Mallory, Leo and Caroline were immediately up for cards. They were joined by the Potus and Flotus. "Watch CJ now, she's good at cards," Toby warned the group. He was rewarded with an elbow playfully in the side.
"Oh she's good all right" Josh remembered some of their late night poker parties as they were waiting for the resolution of one thing or another. "She bluffs with the best."
"We have to work on our rhythm" Tucker laughed, about to scramble to his feet when Belle plopped on top of him in the center of his abdomen as he lay on his back. The air left him with a loud whoosh and the child laughed delightedly. "Don't these kids have a bedtime" he moaned.
"Hey, you be nice to my sister," Chloe teased. "Belle sweetie, Tucker's not a couch." "Horsey!" the child corrected her elder sister delightedly and then she began to bounce on Tucker. Chloe laughed a moment before she scooped Belle up and handed her to Tucker, retrieving Brighton from the President's lap. "We're putting the children to bed Mom, Dad." she said as she led Tucker upstairs to the children's room.
"Right now the only others I care about is you" Lucas answered, "Charlie and Zoey are in good hands with the main detail and you and I are having a personal moment." Safe in the shelter of the trees in the big yard, Lucas stopped and turned her to him, tilting her face upward and touching his lips to hers.
Gina sighed headily as the kiss took over her and she felt herself meld with him. She wrapped her arms around Lucas and returned his kiss powerfully. Then finally she pulled away and flushed brilliantly. She walked away as if to admire some flowers but mostly to recompose herself.
Lucas stood back for a few minutes and let her have a moment, while he himself was recovering from the experience and quelling the urge to shout her name. "Gina Sophia Toscano" he sighed more to himself.
Gina turned around hearing the whisper of her name and she smiled at him. "You...you do that very well, kiss I mean. It's very nice." She rejoined her hand with his and they walked further along in the garden. "How long--how long have you felt this way?" she finally asked.
"I could say forever" Lucas answered slowly, "but really just since I worked with you before, before you joined presidential--I started seeing how beautiful you were, but it was more than that. It was how you could be on duty and still be a woman, and still have fun. And--hell I don't know. Maybe forever was a better answer. I just know in the past year I haven't been seeing anyone at all because they weren't...well you. I suspect the guys have decided I've turned gay."
"No they probably just think you're a goner, which I guess you are," Gina laughed. She grabbed him and kissed him passionately then. "Position on bookbag?" came over on her mic. Suddenly Gina froze wide-eyed and looked at Lucas. "I think that was our warning that we've been gone too long," she whispered softly.
Lucas nodded and took her hand quickening their pace. "We left them in the little I don't know, that table and chairs area with all the plants, eating and listening to the radio" he whispered back, "breakfast nook or something? No wait, look." They neared the house and saw Charlie quite contently pushing Zoey in the garden, pushing her chair from one side and holding her hand. "Bless you Charlie" he sighed and spoke into his mic. "Bookbag and spouse located in our immediate proximity. Code four."
Lucas and Gina caught up with Zoey and Charlie. "We're going to walk out to the edge of the property if that's OK" Charlie smiled. "Sure" Lucas nodded, ''gives us a good excuse to walk as well." "Right" Charlie nodded, exchanging a knowing look with Zoey.
"Exercise is good for you," Gina added and she and Zoey exchanged smiles. "Okay no one is fooling anyone I can see." "Are you putting the moves on Gina?" Zoey teased Lucas, "you know she's a wonderful shot so you'd better treat her right." They all laughed.
CJ smiled at Josh. "Yes you know I miss our poker games. We should have more of those." "So you can break us all more often!" Sam yelped. "You just wish you could," CJ teased back, "face it. You've met your match Seaborn."
Tucker followed Chloe upstairs, with Brighton bouncing delightedly on his back, his small fists clenched in his hair. "Leo thinks a lot of these kids" he said softly, dropping Brighton onto the rug and beginning to strip his clothes. No sooner was he completely bare than a very naked two year old was running down the stairs, a very embarrassed Tucker hurrying after him. The child had already wet on the president, the man did not need to see him naked. Tucker caught up to him halfway down, and the little barefeet tried to turn, only to slip on the soft carpet and begin to fall. Tucker shouted his name and caught him in time, only to be so thrown off balance that they both fell. He had just enough time to push him upward, putting himself between the boy and the stairs before they crashed to the bottom.
"Tucker! Brighton!" Chloe screamed with great horror and Caroline was immediately on her feet with Leo right behind. "My son!" he yelled out loudly worried.
Brighton began to wail at all the commotion but as soon as Leo scooped him up he quieted and then began to laugh. "This one is OK" Leo sighed, passing him to Toby who was right behind him. "Tucker" Sam hollered in concern for his brother. Tucker blinked several times and opened his eyes slowly. "Chloe?"
"Watch that first step. It's a real doozy," Chloe teased kneeling beside him. "Are you okay? Can I get you anything? That was so terrible to watch. I was so worried."
Toby meanwhile was having the time of his life playing with Brighton while CJ watched from her position still on the couch. "Who'd have ever thought Toby Ziegler," Donna whispered softly shaking her head. "I love him," CJ said softly watching him tenderly.
"I'm all right" Tucker smiled, lifting his head and then putting a hand to his forehead as dizziness washed over him. "Tucker?" Sam's voice and then his face swam into Tucker's view. "I'm good" Tucker assured him, but his eyes were on Chloe. "Well should I help you up or are you planning on spending the rest of the evening on your back with your girlfriend kneeling over you." "Only if I have more privacy" Tucker returned and with that Sam knew he was OK. "Oh god Brighton?" Tucker suddenly remembered, struggling to get up.
"Yes you do" Donna whispered back. "He's going to make a great dad. Funny how it just all of a sudden comes to some."
The group on the stairs gathered the group round the table watching in amazement as the generally stiff-necked Toby Ziegler was laughing aloud and twirling the two year old over his head as Brighton laughed loudly. Chloe smiled, "I'd say he's recovered."
"Yeah," CJ added in a whisper, "he keeps waiting for me to start looking pregnant. He's going to get lucky sometime in the next week or two. I can already feel it and then it's only going to get worse from there, or better however you look at it." CJ smiled. "I'm excited even if it is already very taxing."
"Brighton's OK then?" Tucker demanded, now groaning to his feet.
"You and me are both going to be waddling around at the same time" Donna sighed happily, "to say nothing of Caroline and Zoey. People are going to say it's something in the water."
"Four pregnant women in and out of the West Wing. It is going to be interesting," CJ smiled. "Josh and Toby are going to have their hands full!" Sam put in his two cents.
"Brighton's having the time of his life," Chloe smiled softly and then she kissed Tucker, "thank-you for saving him. I saw what you did. He could have been really hurt otherwise."
"No problem. I couldn't let the little guy fall. More I was afraid that I was going to land on him, get him between me and the steps" Tucker sighed. "It's over now, except retrieving one naked future brother in law."
Leo guided Caroline to a chair feeling her trembling slightly and her heart pounding where she was leaning against him. "All over" he repeated Tucker's words and then looked over to the young man their daughter cared so much for. "All over except the thanking for one young man's bravery."
Chloe flushed and laughed lightly at Tucker before kissing him quickly. "Leave him be, Toby will hand him over when he's finished. I think he's enjoying himself."
"It looks like Chloe is already seeing to that," Caroline gasped softly. "She's growing up too fast Leo..." she sighed wistfully. "Tucker if you could come here please," Caroline called to him and when they approached, Chloe and Tucker, hand in hand, she smiled at them. "Tucker I don't know how to thank you for what you just did. Your quick thinking could have saved our son's life, at any rate you kept him from being hurt. Thank-you very much."
"Yes ma'am" Tucker smiled and blushed, embarrassed at the praise. "You're welcome. I couldn't let him be hurt. He's a great little guy and I already feel like he's family." He took a very deep breath. "Ma'am you know I think that I care a great deal for Chloe. I would never do anything that would hurt her."
"I know you don't think you would," Caroline smiled, "just remember that Chloe is still very young for all that she may not look it and she needs to concentrate on getting a good education first and foremost."
"Yes ma'am wouldn't have it any other way. This girl has a future ahead of her and I'm starting to think about mine thanks to her." Tucker assured her. "We want to be together, but we know how young we are and how much growing up we have yet to do."
"Brighton try not to pee on Mr. Ziegler" Leo murmured, "you've already soaked a president this afternoon, no need to try for the communications director." Leo paused and looked around the room. "Something you people should know" he said, taking advantage of a quiet moment and lifting the squirming Brighton from Toby's arms. "This little guy and his twin are my son and daughter, my biological son and daughter that is; and in about eight months for anyone not already aware of it, Caroline will be presenting me with another baby."
Caroline smiled, "Thank goodness." Chloe looked like she might finally confess how deep her relationship with Tucker went but then she quickly thought better of it. "Hey Mom. Is it okay if Tucker and I say goodnight to everyone else and have a moviefest in my room?" Caroline looked thoughtful for a moment, "Okay then, I was wondering just where we were going to put Tucker but he can sleep on a palate in your room or however, you kids crash or he can come down here and sleep on the living room couch or something." Chloe kissed her mom and Leo quickly on the cheek and called goodnight to the others and then they both made a mad dash up the stairs for her room.
Jed and Abby froze, shocked at the news, both parts of it. CJ smiled but again Toby looked shocked. Sam smiled because no one else in the room seemed to be. Mallory swallowed hard and just looked to her father curiously. Josh and Donna were both rather astounded. "Congratulations Caroline..." Donna finally drawled out.
"Thank you. Believe me I'm thrilled on all counts, including where Leo has asked me to marry him. I couldn't be happier."
Sam quickly closed the distance between him and Mallory, pressing himself to her back. "OK?" he whispered. "Your dad maybe should have mentioned all this to you first privately?"
"No I...I'm okay. I just-wow..." Mallory gasped a smile now slowly appearing, "I have a little half sister and brother and another on the way. I think it's kind of neat that my father's going to have kids to raise again. I know how bad he always felt about things with me. I just hope that they're not too much for a man his age. You don't think so hmm?" she asked Sam.
"That's wonderful," CJ added and Toby and Josh seemed to be slowly warming to the idea, smiles replacing gasps on their faces. The Bartlets however, were still amazed.
"Your dad has more strength and energy than I do" Sam assured her. "He'll be fine. And there's nothing like kids for keeping you young. People tried to tell my mother that when she was forty-two and having Tucker but she didn't believe them."
Jed finally stood up and shook Leo's hand. "See the stuff you learn at parties. It's amazing. We need to do this more Abbey. Seriously Leo, Caroline--it's wonderful and I'm extremely happy for both of you. You know, Josiah McGarry has kind of a ring to it."
Everyone in the room had an 'eww' expression on their face at Jed's suggestion, even Abby, Leo and Caroline. The feel was slightly reminiscent of the chili invitation when Zoey had first come to the White House.
"Believe me I'm very careful what I say and do around her" Lucas declared, "I've seen her on the range. She's definitely better than I." He dropped his head self consciously for a moment and then hugged Gina to his side. "Yes I'm putting moves on her or whatever that's called now. I prefer to think of it as letting my feelings show."
Gina smiled as did Zoey. They soon arrived at the edge of the property and turned back the other direction. "This is wonderful when everyone gets together like this," Zoey commented. "It was great when CJ did the chili and wonderful tonight when she did the Mexican."
"It's great" Gina agreed quickly. "Zoey it's no secret I consider you and Charlie to be pretty close friends, now along with Lucas of course. I hope even after you leave the White House we'll still be friends. You won't be part of this fish bowl and we can more easily do things. Of course by then you'll have your baby. I can't wait." "To see hers or have one of your own?" Lucas teased but his tone was serious.
"Pregnant agents get a desk job," Zoey and Gina answered simultaneously. "Gina you said..." Zoey began. "I know sweetie. I promised I'd be here for you the entire time at the White House and I will, I promise," Gina said, "a baby will either have to wait or fit nicely in the schedule by some miracle." she sighed.
Lucas nodded soberly and gently nuzzled her cheek with his lips. "For the time being just us being together, spending time together is good."
"Wow" Tucker could only get out once he was inside Chloe's room and she threw the latch. "This is amazing." He took her into his arms then and kissed her deeply. "I love you" he whispered, "and I'm going to fall asleep and wake up in the morning saying that."
"I know isn't this great?" Chloe enthused, "we're just like the adults!" She ran over to her drawers and then disappeared into the bathroom. She returned a few minutes later in a white negligee. A beautiful gown with delicate cutouts and embroidery on it in a rose theme from the top of one breast in a sweeping diagonal curve to the opposite hip. The gown had a thigh-high slit and came just above her ankles. Her long hair was down now and curly. She entered the room and froze.
While she was gone Tucker had shed his clothes and slipped into silk boxers with a form fitting tee shirt, and now stopped and stared at her in the gown. "If you're trying to drive me crazy it's working" he gasped finally, reaching out his hand and gently touching the exposed area of her breast. "You are beyond beautiful" he sighed and gestured to where he had rearranged the pillows on her bed to make a cozy nest for their movie watching. "Our evening begins my love."
Chloe smiled, "Yeah but if my mother ever had the mind to bust down that door you and I would be so dead. I guess that's one thing that makes this so great." She put on the movie 'Pretty Woman' and crawled up on the bed with Tucker, curling up with him.
"I know" Tucker nodded, "but I'm wondering if she maybe suspects and just doesn't want to admit it; or maybe she's thinking she's glad you're with me-I mean there are worse guys out there who could be hitting on you."
"Oh definitely," Chloe answered immediately, "maybe that's it." she leaned in and kissed Tucker passionately. Her hands roamed over his chest. "Love you Tucker."
"Love you angel" Tucker answered, going into full relaxed mode while her hands roamed across his broad chest, "and planning to spend the majority of the night showing you just how much."
Chloe smiled and the movie forgotten she moved to straddle him and with a gentle rocking motion she brushed satin against satin. She leaned down and kissed him. Then she kissed down his neck and took a nipple into her mouth.
"Chloe you know exactly how to drive me crazy" Tucker gasped, pinching her nipples between his fingers through the satin, letting the rustling add to the excitement.
"Mmm...you're no slouch either," Chloe returned in a husky voice. She continued to caress his chest and then she helped him carefully to take the negligee off and she set it aside. "my favorite thing to wear," she commented.
"What you're wearing right now is mine" Tucker responded, running his hands down her bare sides and then up across her breasts again. "I cannot believe we're doing this with your folks, my brother and the president and the first lady two floors down. Wow. I love you Chloe Kathleen Murphy." One hand gradually moved lower down her middle and then slid into the soft panties, which matched the negligee. His fingers played in the curls there and then one finger dipped inside her, pressing gently.
"Wow," Chloe exclaimed in delighted wonder, "that felt incredible." She nearly went completely limp on him he had such an effect on her. She began to kiss and caress him more heavily. "Yes well some day they'll expect it from us, one day when we're older..." She fell off him onto her back unable to do much the sensations he was creating in her so strong.
"I want to love you" he stammered, "want to be inside you." He slipped her panties from her and rid himself of his boxers, pressing his body to hers full length first, being careful not to hurt her, his hardness pulsing at the outside of her entrance. He was about to plunge inside her when he remembered their conversation and his purchase. "One second" he whispered and kissed her passionately while he located the little foil square.
"Oh..." Chloe thought aloud. She waited patiently for him finally having to rip open the foil which he didn't have the concentration to get open.
"Now we're ready" he said finally, having slipped on the latex and then pushed slowly inside her, his hands at the same time kneading her breasts. "Feels different doesn't it" he said after a few seconds of stroking. "Not bad, it's still wonderful, just different."
"mmmhhhmm..." was all he got out of Chloe in response and a second look displayed her face a mask of pleasure. Her eyes were closed and she seemed contented. "different but good." she added a few movements later.
He relaxed at that point and began firmer measures, going deep within her and then coming out almost all the way, balancing himself over her in push up fashion, dropping his chest to hers so their breasts were crushed together. "I love you Chloe, very much" he moaned into her ear before taking his mouth with hers.
"I love you Tucker," She panted and returned his kiss, "You are so good Seaborn." she purred a few minutes later. A final love you and her orgasm pounded into her tumbling her through a sea of emotions and bringing him with her.
Tucker's climax rocked him from head to toe and he shuddered mightily before collapsing onto her and then rolling them over so that she was on top with him still inside her. "I love you and someday in not too many years I hope, you and I are going to stand up and say that for the whole world to know." He helped her to lie across his chest, rubbing her back as they both calmed.
Chloe snuggled against Tucker comfortably and grabbed the comforter artfully to cover them. She lay there stroking his chest idly for a while and then he could tell she was asleep, her long, blonde, hair covering them dramatically.
Tucker smiled at the sleeping image, gently pushing some hair from her face and then brought the quilt from the end of the bed up over them, not willing to wake her so they could dress. His desire to sleep with her in his arms was about to be realized.
"How about that hot tub again," CJ suggested after a few minutes of silence. "How about that hot tub," Donna replied. "How about we get in it?" Sam suggested. "All of us?" Josh questioned. "You know we do have a pool if it's water you're craving," Leo offered, "although we would all fit in the hot tub. Why do you think it's so large--never mind I never really wanted to know the answer to that question anyhow."
"I think we need to get changed and explore both" Jed pronounced. "I didn't bring a thong bikini to leave in my suitcase." "You're not serious?" Abbey questioned at once. "Normal trunks dear" he corrected immediately. "Change and be at the pool and outdoor hot tub in five minutes" he commanded. "See sometimes being presidential has its advantages."
Everyone made off for their rooms and then appeared at the pool. Abby was first with a suit that faded from light blue to navy. A one piece that didn't expose too much. Sam appeared next in a black Speedo that didn't leave much to the imagination. Josh and Donna appeared together. He had on a navy Speedo that could put Sam to shame as far as Donna was concerned. Donna had on a tiny black bikini with a thong back, which Josh didn't see until she removed her cover-up poolside before him. CJ and Toby appeared next. Toby had on Hawaiian print swim trunks and CJ removed her cover-up to reveal a tiny triangle bikini of Italian creme lace with creme lining underneath on the top and where necessary on the bottom. It looked very elegant on her thin frame. Mallory had stayed behind to help Caroline and she now appeared with Caroline and Leo. Caroline had on a peach bikini only hers covered much more than the other women's. Mallory's was of the same fashion in an electric blue. Charlie and Zoey appeared and he carried her into the water, holding her in his arms since she couldn't swim. She had on a brilliant metallic red swimsuit. Charlie had on red trunks that looked pale compared to the vibrancy of her suit. The President appeared next in black trunks with the Presidential seal in the bottom left corner.
"Mrs. Bartlet does he have the seal on his underwear too?" Caroline laughed. "Hey come to think of it we don't even know whether it's boxers or briefs" Mallory pointed out.
"Briefs," Abby answered nonchalantly and the president minutely grimaced. "Carol owes me thirty," Donna whispered to Josh happily.
"We can start a college fund" Josh laughed. "You know the rest of the country would die if they knew we were sitting around discussing the president's underwear habits."
"That is not something I'm prepared to share with the press," CJ spoke up. Then she pretended to get into her press secretary mode, "and another announcement today. For those of you who wondered the president wears briefs. That will be all thank-you." Everyone in the pool burst into laughter. CJ was about doubled over she was enjoying herself so much.
In the warm pool water Josh helped Donna settle onto his lap more securely and her head went to his shoulder. "Later I'm going to make love to you" he whispered so only she could hear. "I'm going to make long slow passionate love to you."
Donna smiled, "Okay but we have to get our beauty rest too...sleeping for two, maybe three now you know." Donna sparkled as she had been all night. It was very easy for Josh to tell he had made her happier than she had ever been.
"Of course" Josh smiled, feeling her already relax and seeing her eyes close. "Do you realize how much I love you" he sighed.
"Bathroom break, excuse me" CJ sighed, pulling from Toby's arms and levering herself over the side of the pool. Her sense of balance failed her at the last second and she fell backwards waving her arms as she did so, trying in vain to catch herself but her arms touched air only and she landed on her back in the water with a resounding splash.
"I love you Josh," Donna whispered in response. Then they watched in slow motion as CJ came tumbling back into the water. Toby was immediately after her, cradling her up into his arms. He looked into her eyes for a long moment in his arms before he dared ask, "you're okay aren't you?"
"Yeah...yeah I think so..." she panted, feeling breathless from the impact on her back. "I'm glad no one was around to film that. It would have made the bagel on the podium shot look like small potatoes." She put her hand up and touched her fingers to his cheek, stroking the beard she so loved. "Did I scare you love? I'm sorry."
"I was worried," Toby admitted, "both for you and our baby." CJ smiled at him and then kissed him softly. "I like being here in your arms. You could just hold me for a while," CJ said softly. He looked at her a few more moments intensely. "The baby is okay Toby." she continued to stroke his beard and kissed him softly again. She looked very elegant curled up in his arms as she was. CJ seemed to look elegant and sensual regardless of what she was doing.
Toby began to breathe easier at her assurance. Josh held tighter to Donna, watching the by play and realized how upset he would have been if it had been Donna. CJ finally stirred in Toby's arms. "Listen as much as I'm enjoying this I'm going to need that bathroom or this pool is going to have an additive Leo won't appreciate." "Don't worry about it" Leo called with a quick laugh, "I'm sure Belle and Brighton already did that earlier today." "Oh yuck" Mallory exclaimed at once. "Does the secret service know that?" Jed demanded laughing. "Hey he's kidding" Caroline shook her head. "They were wearing those swimmer diapers." "Toby, potty" CJ ordered.
Toby waded CJ over to the steps and carefully released her. She disappeared inside and returned a few minutes later. She carefully slid back down into the pool and then Sam chose that moment to speak up. "You know you look just like that time Benini pushed you into the pool at that party!" "Well yes except I'm not wearing a brand new, beaded Donna Karen evening gown," CJ returned, "and I'm so glad everyone else thought that was so funny." she sighed, "he can't even vote in America!"
"Well in that case let's add him to the enemies list" Jed smiled. "Besides didn't you bill accounting for the dress?"
"I finally remembered what I wanted to tell Sam" Leo fairly shouted. "Sam-Mallory, the Craddocks next door are looking to rent out their guest house. Aren't you and Mallory looking to rent something? Their daughter just gave birth for the third time and they're taking a bigger house in Cleveland Park. This place has three bedrooms, the usual living room, kitchen etc. Pool and hot tub is available. I made Joe promise he wouldn't advertise it until I told you about it. Unless of course living so close to dad doesn't appeal to you?"
Mallory looked to Sam. "You know that could be good for Tucker and Chloe. They could carpool because Tucker doesn't need to be driving to school every morning. Plus we'd be closer to all of the action here and you and Leo can get together if you ever need to conference after hours. Plus I'd be close to the rest of my family. What do you think?"
"Yes I most certainly did bill accounting for the dress. It was definitely a political casualty, totally ruined," CJ sighed. "Unfortunately the next state dinner I go to they're probably going to have to just cut holes in a garbage bag for me. We have one in a month and a half right? I'll be five and a half months along then." CJ sighed.
"Four walls and a bed and I'm good" Sam grinned and then pulled her into a large hug. "Just as long as you're in the bed next to me."
"With all the maternity boutiques in Georgetown and along Connecticut Avenue I think we can find something that's a step up from arm holes in a Glad bag" Toby said dryly. "Maybe Donna and Caroline will join you. You can go as the Bobbsey Triplets" Leo put in. "Showing your age dad" Mallory teased.
"We'll take it," Mallory told her father with a smile. Caroline had left the pool momentarily and she returned to slip in beside Leo, "The cake has been delivered, whenever you're ready to make Mallory's presentation.." she whispered.
"Oh I'll have to have one too," Donna frowned, "we'll go it together." "Hey ladies it'll be fun," Caroline put in, "we can really pamper ourselves and then prove to these men just how sexy a pregnant woman can be."
"Wait a minute, I thought we were talking State Dinner here" Jed objected with a smile. "What happened to subdued and dignified?" "Jed they're not my age" Abbey sighed, "plenty of time for that."
"OK great" Leo whispered back. "Should we just hold off until everyone is ready to get out and change, and then we'll have coffee and cake?"
"I guess he doesn't remember her black and white number with the triangles of white just covering the--" "Joshua Lyman I beg your pardon. I got a lot of nice compliments on that dress," CJ returned. "Yeah because you looked drop dead gorgeous in it," Josh replied and Toby eyed him.
Caroline nodded, "A perfect idea my brilliant fiancée." She kissed him passionately.
"Where was I when you were noticing how beautiful CJ looked?" Donna pouted. "I guess it was one of those things the assistants weren't invited to." "As long as he's only looking" Toby decided. "I'm glad Mallory teaches Third grade" Sam sighed. "I don't have to worry about mothers and eight year olds."
"Mmmmm" Leo groaned, returning her kiss. "Another one like that and we may have to make a stop between getting dried off and coffee." He then initiated his own kiss and his hand went to her baby spot. "I love you Caroline."
"I love you and we're going to wait until we retire to finish this," Caroline whispered back.
"No I suppose you don't," Mallory smiled and kissed him, "not that you do anyhow." "Well Toby doesn't have anything to worry about either," CJ added quickly. "I still think you're the most beautiful woman I've ever met," Josh told Donna who beamed at him then.
"Thank you" Donna sniffled suddenly, her hand on her belly as she contemplated growing large with twins a possibility. She and CJ exchanged looks and shared thoughts.
"As long as you promise" Leo sighed and Caroline inconspicuously dropped her hand low on him so that he would have something to remember the promise by. Leo squirmed with her touch and she gave him a wicked look as she did it again. "Are we ready for coffee?" she asked innocently.
"Yes," came a general reply and they left the water. Sam and Toby helped make sure that Zoey was safely brought from the water and Charlie delicately carried her to their guestroom where he dried her off and helped her redress before returning her to the chair. "Feel good to be out of the White House?" Donna asked Zoey as she and Josh were the next couple to return. Caroline had dressed quickly and was guarding the kitchen to make sure no one else came in to spoil the surprise.
Meanwhile CJ changed into a pair of silver satin pants with black tick stripes on them and a black satin shirt with silver trim at the collar, sleeves and up the front. She brushed her hair, sharing the bathroom with Toby easily now. "This is wonderful," she commented, "I think it will make us a stronger team."
"I think we should do this real often" Toby agreed readily. "Maybe even schedule some time away from DC--a retreat type thing you know. We don't have to go far. Just a big guest house in the Poconos or on the Eastern shore would do it."
"I would have settled for out of my bedroom" Zoey sighed, "even though Charlie has been taking me on rides downstairs and around the grounds some. I'm mostly going stir crazy up there. I'm just not used to this inactivity and I can only read, do schoolwork and crochet so much. Yesterday I made him bring me a paint by numbers set. Soon I'll have two colorful parrots on my wall. Not to mention I've missed a lot with everyone--all the news and gossip and excitement of being down there. Right now I just want to go back to school." "Whoa take a breath" Josh grinned. "Are you going to get in another semester?"
Zoey thought about it, "No I guess not, by the time I get recovered I'll have one month to finish up for this semester but over the summer I'm going to get huge and I'm just asking for it going to school seven months pregnant. Too much stress and strain...I'm better off home with Charlie and Mom and Dad." "Good girl," Donna voiced her opinion. "You're not quitting your job," Zoey returned observationally. "No, but Josh and Toby are making CJ and I be very careful. The other staffers will help pick up the slack for a bit."
"We are definitely doing that" Josh agreed, "So much so that they're going to get really sick of it before the pregnancies are over."
"Looks like things are winding down" Lucas whispered to Gina as they stood off to one side, awaiting the rest of them. "OK truth now, you actually brought lingerie to sleep in?"
"Yes I actually brought lingerie to sleep in. I sleep in it most every night," Gina answered, "I just didn't know I'd be hot-bunking tonight."
"I hope you're planning to let me peek" Lucas smiled. "Once the house settles down and the night guards take over we'll be able to collapse ourselves, just in the vicinity of Zoey and Charlie's quarters and we're covered. This house is like a fortress anyway."
"Yes thank goodness," Gina smiled and then she kissed him and rubbed seductively against him. "Cake time." she said leaving the room before him and heading downstairs to join the group. She smiled, very pleased with the new turn in her life.
Caroline came out of the bathroom in underwear only to put on shorts and a shirt for the remainder of the evening, seeing Leo lounging on the bed, dressed only in his boxers. "Hey I know, we have to get downstairs" he grinned, "but I'm enjoying the show first. Hey I haven't seen Tucker and Chloe all evening. Anti social or young and in love?"
"Young and in love I suppose," Caroline answered, "I just hope that Chloe knows better than to do something truly stupid like sleep with him. Those other girls she was friends with. I thought they had sense but obviously they didn't if they were stupid enough to sleep with boys. Thank goodness Chloe's better than that. I'd better let them know we have cake downstairs, being teenagers I'm sure they'll want some."
"Why don't I call them" Leo said hastily, pulling on shorts and a shirt. "You might want to check on the twins."
Leo took the door he usually took to reach that room, the back way through the bathroom and found the door open, thankful that Caroline had not gone and had in fact gone to check on the twins. There, laid beautifully and serenely in Tucker's arms was a tanned and beautiful Chloe. Her shoulder was the only thing not covered by her hair and she looked very much like Caroline in this position and manner.
Leo sat on the edge of the bed for a long minute sorting his feelings about seeing these two, barely more than children, and yet so obviously in love. "Chloe, Tucker" he called softly. Tucker gasped and sat straight up, trying to hold to Chloe, and bring the quilt up to cover both of them at the same time. "Sir" he got out, feeling himself tremble slightly, and he held to Chloe tightly. "Baby your dad is here" he whispered in her ear.
Chloe looked like a doe in headlights when Tucker said that and she turned and looked to Leo. "Hi," was all she managed. Her eyes told Leo of her anxiety. "didn't know there was more than one way in."
"I'm sure" Leo said quietly. "We're having cake and coffee downstairs and I think it would be good for you two to make an appearance." "Yes sir" Tucker said at once. "And maybe there's some fajita stuff left for re-warming." Leo nodded and ran his hand over the soft hair of his soon to be step-daughter. "You two are..." "Very much in love" Tucker finished for him. "Yes sir, I know we could be digging ourselves into a deep hole, but I love her and I'm not going to let her get hurt, not by anything."
Chloe smiled softly, "Thank-you for at least trying to understand Dad. I never in my wildest dreams meant for this to happen, but somehow it just did." She had slipped her robe on and moved to the bathroom to change. She reappeared only a moment later, dressed and she wrapped her arms around Leo for a long hug. "If I were twenty this would all feel different to everyone and I'm sorry I'm not..." she spoke softly.
"Mallory's mother was twenty when we started" Leo replied, "and it didn't help. We still ended up parting ways; but the final parting was only the last in a long series of mini-separations. It wasn't just my work. We just grew apart over time, fell out of love. You two are very young but no one knows what the future will be. One of the advantages of being my age is you learn to accept things. This is not what I would chose for you right now, but I am trying very hard to understand it."
Chloe looked for a very long time at Tucker and then with a quick murmur of "I'll be downstairs. She fled the room, leaving the two most prominent men of her life in it.
"Tucker I'm holding you responsible for all this, you know that don't you?" Leo asked. "It's not fair but it goes with being the man in the relationship." "Yes sir. I'm fine with that. I have no intention of hurting her, or allowing anyone else to do so." "Good, let's check out that cake" Leo nodded, "uh maybe you want to get dressed first." "Good idea" Tucker grinned. Leo went down the back stairs, and was relieved to find Chloe alone in the kitchen, listening to the bubble sounds of the giant coffee urn. "Anything you want to talk about?" Leo asked gently, "you know if you want to tell someone besides your old man, Mallory would be glad to talk to you. She is your sister, well practically."
Chloe smiled at him, "Good idea. I don't want to put all this on you and a second opinion might be good." Chloe emerged and found Mallory curled up with Sam. "Mallory, I could really use your help with something here a minute," she whispered softly.
Once Mallory had followed her into the kitchen she decided that wasn't the place to talk and they went to the formal living room where they doubted anyone would look for them. "Mallory, you know Tucker right, Sam's little brother well...I really need your, your help. You see Tucker and I well we...we made love, twice now and..." Chloe looked to Mallory begging her help.
"Whoa wow" Mallory swallowed hard. "Chloe if Tucker is anything like Sam he's a great guy, but....I can't think of anything but that the two of you are so young--and that's such a cliche." She took the hands of the young woman who would soon be her stepsister. "I hope you're using something. Do you love him?"
"As much as I know about love Mallory I do. We really understand each other and I know he has his problems and he knows I have mine but we still care deeply for each other. Leo talked to Tucker, he still thinks we're too young too and I'm beginning to think maybe there's some wisdom in that but...but I don't think I could make Tucker see things that way and I'm afraid he's never going to want to see me again if I don't."
"Honey if you tell Tucker you want to back up a bit and have a relationship without the lovemaking...well if he loves you like you hope he does, then he'll agree with you and he won't pressure you. And if he does pressure you for sex, then he's not the man you thought he was and you needed to find that out" Mallory said softly, seeing that she was troubled. "Now it's normal to have some second thoughts. I love Sam but I've questioned the wisdom of our relationship a dozen times over. If you think you moved too fast, ask Tucker for some space. I think he'll give it to you. He didn't insist on making love the first time did he? Was it a mutual kind of thing?"
"Well I started it and he asked me several times if I was sure it was what I wanted. He wasn't pressuring me. I don't know Mal I just don't I mean...I think you're right, maybe I should ask to back track a little and hold off on that. I guess I'm thinking that everyone's right and lovemaking isn't for the very young. I wish I was older then," Chloe sighed, "I'll be 16 next month...still only a child though. I know, I've heard it all before."
"Talk to Tucker" Mallory advised. "If he's half the man Sam is he'll understand at once. Of course a few generations ago women at sixteen were marrying and having babies." She patted the girl's shoulder. "Despite what you read and see in the movies and on TV, it is possible to have a warm loving relationship with someone and stop short of the bed."
Chloe smiled, "Thanks Mal. I can tell you're going to make a great sister. I couldn't have gotten luckier." She hugged Mallory. "Now let's get back out there and see what all that cake business is about." The two women appeared side-by-side and rejoined the men in their lives. CJ appeared in her silver and black satin pajamas followed by Toby and soon everyone had a spot in the living room.
Tucker was seated on the floor already and he held his arms to Chloe, wanting her to join him. He had sensed a change in her since she fled the bedroom and his concern was great.
Chloe snuggled lovingly up against him and smiled. "Love you," she whispered softly, "we have to talk later." she added and then she kissed him quickly.
"So what's with the cake Dad?" Mallory asked, "Caroline's pregnant and the engagement's been announced. What other surprises are there?"
"Anytime" Tucker smiled and returned her kiss. "Love you too. Very much." He crossed his arms over her front, tucking them under her breasts where they seemed to fit perfectly and rested his chin on her shoulder.
"I was going to ask the President to present this" Leo said slowly, "but then I decided that it was an honor that belonged to a father. President not withstanding, not even when that father is honored to call him best friend." He pulled a thin, leather-bound folder from beneath the table. "I have nothing to say except that I am so proud of you I am at a loss for words" he said, his voice choking. "And had I known we were going to be doing this tonight I would have asked your mother to be here with us." Mallory was frowning now, not sure what was happening until she saw the name of her alma mater engraved on the front. "Congratulations daughter" he went on and handed her the folder, hugging her tightly. "Congratulations my love" Sam had her in his arms a second later, kissing her passionately. "I love you and I am so proud of you." "Way to go Mallory" Zoey shouted and whistled, her hand on her stomach as she thought of the baby that would delay her own diploma.
Chloe smiled at him and whispered, "I love you, love this."
"My masters!" Mallory exclaimed gleefully and then she began to laugh and cry at the same time. She hugged Sam. "I did it! I did it! It's over. We can start our life now."
"You okay love?" Charlie whispered softly in her ear.
"Oh yeah" Zoey sighed, the thought going immediately out of her mind as she felt Charlie's presence behind her and the baby deep within her. "I have everything I need right here, right now. I love you."
Tucker squeezed her tightly, kissing her ear from behind. "We can take a walk outside and have that talk whenever you're ready. There's nothing you can't tell me, not now not ever."
"I thought that's what we were doing all this time" Sam grinned and lifted her into his arms, swinging her around. "Does that mean if I asked you to marry me, you'd say yes now?"
"Yes Sam Seaborn. Yes I'll marry you!" Mallory exclaimed happily as he was spinning her around. "I love you."
Caroline began slicing up the cake and soon everyone was eating. Chloe smeared frosting on Tucker's nose and then licked it off and everyone laughed.
"Quit practicing for your wedding" Leo scolded them.
"Speaking of weddings, I think we just witnessed an engagement" Jed smiled. "A marriage proposal and an acceptance"
"You got that right" Sam declared. "Sometime in the near future Mallory Claire McGarry is going to become Mrs. Samuel Joseph Seaborn."
"All this romance and weddings and babies" Abbey sighed, snuggling back in Jed's arms. "Makes me wish I wasn't too old to have another."
"Mom!" Zoey cringed at the thought.
Mallory smiled happily at Sam. "Congratulations my man," Josh smiled. "Look this isn't going to weasel you in any better with the chief," Toby teased and then with a smile added, "congratulations Sam, Mallory." CJ just smiled brightly adding her congratulations in that manner.
"Well it was a thought" Abbey smiled and stood up. "To Sam and Mallory" the first lady announced, holding up her coffee cup. "May you be as happy for as long as Jed and I have, and as blessed."
Chloe pulled Tucker outside leaving the others to celebrate. "Tucker...I...I've been thinking. I think I've rushed this beautiful relationship of ours and I'd like it if we could back up a little. I was thinking maybe we could wait a while before getting into all this lovemaking."
"I see" Tucker nodded, shocked by what she had said. "I'm sorry--so sorry Chloe. I rushed you and I didn't want that. I'm sorry. Does this mean you don't want to see me--to be with me?" He felt hot tears in his eyes and turned away so she would not see.
"No nothing like that," Chloe was quick to assure him, "Oh Tucker no. I still want to be with you, very much so. I just don't want to make love just yet. I mean like Dad said it's a big responsibility and maybe we should wait a while. If we truly love each other like I believe we do then we have plenty of time. Anyhow, I'll even spend all night in your arms, cuddling and kissing. We don't have to stop being romantic and loving to one another just because we're not doing that. Mal said that you could ask Sam for pointers on that. Well I mean if you want to talk to him about that sort of thing." She sniffled then, "I'm sorry. I've made a big mess out of everything!"
What she was saying finally registered with Tucker. "You mean we're just avoiding making love right now" he said slowly, "but we're not avoiding loving each other." He took her deeply into his embrace. "I love you Chloe and if you want to wait, we can do that. Just please, don't ever tell me you don't want me in your life."
"I don't think that's going to happen," Chloe smiled, "You're really okay?" she asked hesitantly. "You know I love you."
"I'm really OK" Tucker responded, "I can handle losing the sex easy enough. I just couldn't handle losing you. You're still going to sleep in my arms tonight aren't you?"
Chloe smiled, "Of course, you promised to hold me all through the night, and with your brother living right out my window, well there's one of those fire ladders out on my balcony..." Chloe said deviously, "No, really I'll let you in through the front door. Leo won't mind. I think he could compromise with us if we're not having sex." She leaned over and kissed him passionately, "thank-you for loving me so much."
"Thank you for letting me love you" Tucker sighed. "Our love will last the test of time."
"I could only hope," Mallory replied with a smile as the others eagerly raised their cups in toast. "I think we should have these parties at least every other week," Toby suggested. "That sounds splendid," Jed readily agreed.
"We have weddings and receptions to look forward to" Josh pointed out. "Mine for one, Sam and Mallory's, the one Zoey and Charlie are still owed. Tucker and Chloe."
"Oh god" Caroline gasped. "Kidding" Josh grinned. "In a few years."
"It had better be at least six," Caroline said firmly, "She's only turning sixteen next month."
"At least two" Leo added, squeezing Caroline's hand. "To see her married on her eighteenth birthday wouldn't be so bad, as long as she wasn't sacrificing her education and future."
"No," Caroline relented with a smile, "I suppose eighteen wouldn't be so bad..." She drifted off into dreamworld then about Chloe getting married.
"Brighton, Belle quit teasing your brother and get into your clothes. Move" Leo ordered, sending his two eldest biological children scurrying to do as they were told. "We've got a wedding to get to don't we?" He scooped up Todd Josiah McGarry and before the toddler knew what hit him, had plopped him in a tub of water. "Caroline love how are you doing?" he asked her softly, wrapping her arms around her expanded belly and feeling his daughter inside, doing flips. Caroline had insisted on trying for a girl, and now she was experiencing a hard pregnancy at her age. "We should have insisted they elope."
"Oh but Chloe's always wanted a big wedding. It's not her fault her mother and father couldn't stop with four kids or five kids however we're counting them." Caroline replied breathily. Once the family was all cleaned and immaculately dressed they headed to the White House rose garden. 'Uncle Jed' had leant it to them for the afternoon.
Meanwhile a nervously pale but extremely hyper Chloe was pacing about with her long golden hair and her full slip and nothing else. "I'm getting married," she squealed delightedly again before CJ, Donna, and Mallory and then she twirled around in the full slip and flounced down onto a chair.
"I hope Toby wasn't kidding when he said he was having an OB in attendance" CJ sighed as each woman was large with their own pregnancy, the second for CJ and Donna and Mallory's first. "Me too" Mallory said quietly. She was safely past the point where her first pregnancy had failed, but she lived in fear daily and it had taken her a year to get over the loss of the baby girl at five months along and have the courage to try again. Only Chloe was flat and trim. "Chloe" Mallory spoke up, "Sam says Tucker told him you and he haven't--well that you're waiting until the wedding night. I think that's so romantic."
Chloe smiled, "You don't have to make love to be romantic a very wise woman once told me." Chloe smiled at Mallory. The women were all dressed in navy. It took all three of them to help Chloe get her huge dress on. It was the kind of dress that dreams were made of and Caroline had brought out a bridal designer to make one especially for her. CJ sat down to get off her feet and she rubbed her stomach to quiet Toby's boy, Donna did likewise with Josh's first son. "I wonder how the men are making out," Donna mused. "You mean what woman not in here they got to tie all of their tuxedo bowties?" CJ parried back.
"The president asked Mrs. Landingham to do his" Donna sighed. "Maybe she did the rest. Wonder how Tucker is holding up. And I wonder how Margaret is managing in the nursery. Let's see she's got my daughter, your daughter, Leo's three.'' "She would have had mine" Mallory said softly and then shook her head. "Sorry, no--not doing that today. I have a beautiful healthy boy inside me that God sent me and I'm not going to mourn Elizabeth on a day that's Chloe and Tucker's."
CJ leaned over and hugged her. "I know you miss your daughter Mallory. We all felt your loss." "This one is going to be just fine Mal," Chloe spoke up hoping to cheer her older sister. Chloe stood admiring herself in the mirror.
"He paces more than Sam!" Josh exclaimed with a laugh as they watched Tucker attempt to walk holes in the carpet. "He's very anxious to see the bride," Jed spoke up. "I'm very anxious to see one of the bride's maids," Toby spoke up. "It's time," Mrs. Landingham stuck her head in and announced and the men were led to the end of the aisle in the beautiful rose garden save Leo who was escorted to the room that housed the bride.
Chloe was pristine and radiant as she stood before the full-length mirror. Her gown had small straps of pearls with an embroidered bodice, a tight round waistline and then a gigantic chiffon skirt with a pattern of pearls all over it and a train that rivaled Diana's. Her hair was still down long save a little that had been pulled from the front to make the design on top that housed the veil. She looked like an angel.
"It's time" Mallory put a soft hand on her shoulder. "I'm glad you're my sister." "You're beautiful Chloe" Donna smiled. "Yes ma'am" CJ nodded, adjusting her belly once again. "CJ Toby didn't want you to do this did he?" Donna laughed as they began to get Chloe's train picked up. "I'm a month less than you and I had to tell Josh in no uncertain terms I was going ahead."
"No Toby was very reluctant but I think he has learned by now that it doesn't work very well with me in some instances. Besides he said he was going to have an obstetrician here."
Leo appeared and then Chloe took his arm. The women disappeared and from her hidden spot Chloe could hear the beginning of Ave Maria. Finally, it was her turn and she began her walk down the aisle. There was many a gasp in the audience at her beauty. Finally she stopped before Tucker with Caroline and Leo looking on from the first row. "I love you," she whispered as she smiled and gently took his hands.
"I love you and I've been waiting for this day for two years, one month and four days since I saw you that morning in the pool" Tucker sighed. "You are beautiful, like something out of a fairy tale dream."
Before the priest could lift his hands to begin, all in one motion, Josh, Sam and Toby stepped from their side and pushed chairs under their women then moved back to their spots with all the precision of a military operation. "I don't believe this" Donna whispered, at the same time her eyes shining with the love she knew Josh was expressing.
"Believe it," CJ returned, "and if you don't it's on tape." She smiled affectionately at Toby. The priest began the ceremony and the youngsters chose to speak the traditional vows. The rings were exchanged afterwards and then finally the priest announced, "You may now kiss the bride. I am pleased to present Mr. and Mrs. Tucker Seaborn." Chloe smiled at Tucker her eyes glistening with promise. "Not bad, not bad at all," the Caroline of the present murmured softly and then she came back into the present. "Those two are going to get married in two years," she told Leo matter-of-factly.
"You've been watching that Psychic Friends Network ad too much" Leo shook his head, "but to see them married when Chloe is eighteen would be bearable I think."
Tucker led Chloe to one of the benches and sat her down, urging her to curl against him. "We're going to be OK you and me" he said softly. "I love you and you love me and after that anything can be dealt with."
Chloe smiled, "Thank-you Tucker. I love you so very much. This is the real thing and it's going to last us and we're going to be very, very happy. I just know it." She leaned in and kissed him.
"I think if she marries Tucker in two years it will be a very good thing," Caroline replied, "a good and beautiful thing indeed."
"It's so nice to think we can just lounge around here tomorrow morning and we don't have to go to bed early because we don't have to be up at the crack of dawn," Donna smiled pleasantly.
"Amen to that" Josh sighed, letting her get more settled against him and then popping another bite of cake into her mouth, using his finger.
Donna laughed lightly, "I can still feed myself you know Lyman" "So what's on everyone's agenda for the weekend?" Jed asked curious. "Toby thinks we should go nursery room shopping," CJ replied. "Oh that sounds like so much fun," Donna smiled, "I'm not even sure where Josh and I are going to put a nursery!"
Josh looked up blankly. "Well a one bedroom apartment doesn't lend itself well to a separate nursery" he sighed. "Maybe we should go house-hunting."
Donna smiled, "Oh Josh what a wonderful idea! You know what would be really great would be if we could all get houses in kind of the same area."
"Toby and I have been looking over this way as well," CJ spoke up.
"There's a duplex for sale about two streets over" Leo said thoughtfully and Josh looked blank again. "You know, two separate houses attached. There's a small front yard and a big back yard with a pool meant to be shared, and the sign says each one is three bedrooms. You four should walk over and look at it in the morning. The owner is living there right now trying to unload it....I mean sell it." Leo stopped and laughed. "I'm guessing they need a little work."
"See sometimes we do draw good duty" Lucas grinned, looking down to where Gina was leaning her back against his. "I wanted to thank you again for the zoo the other day. That was the most fun I've had in a long time, which tells you the story of my social life. The next time we're off in an evening I'd like to take you to dinner. Maybe down on the Eastern Shore for seafood."
Gina smiled, "that sounds wonderful. Besides, your social life isn't any worse than mine. However, as long as we're working together I think we've drawn a pretty good deal. Not to mention watching Zoey and Charlie is easy." Gina leaned in spontaneously then and kissed him passionately.
"You're awfully good at that" Lucas sighed, returning her kiss measure for measure. "I could get awfully used to receiving those daily. So when are we going to pull off this dinner date?"
"Mmm..." Gina gave the prospect serious thought, "I know we don't have a free time next week, not in the evening anyhow. I think it might be after the Lyman wedding before we actually have some time off, what with Zoey on bed rest and all..."
"Well just remember we're going to do that" Lucas said firmly.
"Charlie as much as I'm enjoying this I need to go up to bed" Zoey murmured. "You can stay here if you want. I just want to go lay down for a while and watch TV if that's OK. I think the swimming took a lot out of me and I didn't even move that much. I hope when I start doing some of that therapy I get my strength back."
Charlie smiled and hugged her, "You will. In the meantime we're going to say goodnight everyone." He scooped Zoey up effortlessly into his arms and carried her carefully up the stairs and to their room.
"They're such a charming couple of newlyweds," CJ spoke up, "So what do you think Donna? We could handle sharing the same backyard hmm?" "Yeah that sounds like a good idea actually," Donna replied and they looked to the men in their lives.
"We could share the work" Toby spoke up. "I'm assuming by work we're only talking about painting and that sort of thing, not major remodeling or plumbing." "I think it could work real well" Josh agreed.
Lucas watched Charlie and Zoey leave and then pulled Gina to her feet. "I guess we're moving ourselves up too."
"Oh yes," Gina replied with a smile and they headed up to a suite next to Charlie and Zoey.
Gina slipped into the bathroom and a few moments later returned in a brilliant emerald green satin gown with no back all the way down to her waist and only a pair of spaghetti straps on her shoulders. It had a bell skirt with a bit of a flare at the bottom and looked absolutely dreamy on her.
Lucas collapsed to the floor in a mock teasing faint. "I don't think you have your weapon on you" he whispered, "and I wish for my camera. Gina you are a beautiful woman."
"No I don't...have it on me," Gina replied standing before him gracefully. "Thank-you, for saying that." She stood there looking at him, wondering if something was going to happen.
Lucas propped the pillows up against the headboard and then stripped to his boxers, careful to note that their two weapons were in reach on the nightstand. "I think we're ready to be on guard here" he grinned, holding his arms to her to join him.
Gina walked gracefully into his arms and then she kissed him as she moved them in a sway and then suddenly they were dancing without music.
"Remember I told you nothing has to happen" Lucas said softly, stroking her hair as they moved to their own rhythm. "Just to hold you and do this...." he kissed her fully and lovingly, "is plenty if that's as far as we want to go tonight."
Gina continued to dance softly with Lucas, "Thank-you Lucas. You're a pretty easy guy to love."
"Only because the woman I'm falling in love with is you" Lucas returned. "You're my one in five billion on this planet." They danced and he rubbed her back in slow circles. "Don't forget we're going to take that trip as soon as we get a few days off together too."
"How could I forget? You've promised to take me to Atlantic city and treat me like a lady." Gina said smiling. She continued to dance in his arms. "This is heaven," she whispered happily after a while.
"I did make that promise" Lucas acknowledged, "and I intend to keep it. A gentlemen and his lady, eating fine food, seeing some shows and walking along the beach at midnight in the moonlight. We haven't left yet?"
Gina sighed, "No and I don't know when we're going to get away either, not this next week for sure and the week after that...well maybe we'll have some time then. I'm pretty happy where I am right now..." she leaned up and kissed him passionately.
"I pretty much like you right there" Lucas nodded his agreement, sinking his hands into her hair and returning her kiss. "We have all the time in the world to see what it is we've started here. I did mean what I said before though Ms. Toscano. I am falling in love with you and you should know that."
"I think that's what the butterflies in my stomach are telling me," Gina teased lightly with a smile.
"This tummy?" Lucas smiled and leaned down to press a kiss on her belly button area through the soft garment.
Gina closed her eyes and moaned softly, "Oh Lucas," she ran her hands through his hair and then pulled him back up to his feet and kissed him lovingly. "I don't know what it is but something about you drives me crazy."
"I could say the same" Lucas replied, wrapping his arms even tighter around her, crushing her to him. "Part of me wants to take you right here and now, right on this bed and the rest of me says we should wait, wait until our special weekend and make that a part of it. I just know my feelings for you are growing by the minute and I'm not ever just going to think of you as my partner again."
"No, now is the time for sleeping. We'll save that for our special weekend," Gina agreed and they curled into bed.
"The more I hear it the more I like it," Donna smiled brightly. "Yes, here's hoping it works out," CJ added, "I think I'm ready to turn in now though myself." Donna added a large yawn to that thought.
"Let's do it" Josh stood and all but lifted her to her feet. "Well in eight months I may not be able to do that without a hernia so I wanted to now" he grinned. "Twins remember."
"Not definitely" CJ pointed out, at the same time signaling for Toby to pull her up as well, ''now we're going to do this house thing aren't we, check it out I mean?"
"Yeah let's do it about eleven" Leo spoke up, "I'll walk over with you guys and introduce you to Mr. Trevino. If you make him any kind of offer you can probably have it on the spot. People now adays don't want to have to work at anything."
"Yes, tomorrow morning at eleven," CJ replied and Donna nodded. The women walked upstairs with their significant others and disappeared into their rooms.
"You're okay with this now?" CJ asked Toby now that they were alone, "the house I mean."
"I think it's a great idea" Toby said firmly. "That means there's somebody right close by to look out after you most of the time, not to mention Leo and Caroline just a few blocks away just in case. It's not like we're sharing a bedroom, just a pool and a back yard."
CJ smiled, "Okay. I just wanted to make sure. I know you." She melted against him and kissed him lovingly as her arms wound round his neck. She played with the back of his neck and then kissed along his jaw and down his neck before capturing his lips again.
A slow smile came across Toby's lips and he rubbed his soft beard gently against her cheek. "I will never get tired of this" he declared before he responded to her kiss in kind, pushing her down so that his upper body was half covering hers.
CJ quickly removed Toby's nightshirt and then began to tease his nipples first with her hands and then with her mouth.
"Claudia Jean Ziegler I love you" Toby gasped, pushing her light gown out of the way so that he could give her breasts the same treatment. Early pregnancy had done a wondrous job of enhancing them and only a touch of his tongue was needed to turn the nipples into sharp points.
CJ's face scrunched up into almost a wince as she gasped at the vulnerable reaction her body made. "Oh jeez Toby I'm so sensitive," she gasped out, "have you any idea what you're doing to me?" She dropped her hand down and caressed him in passing before returning up to play with his nipples once more.
Toby passed his hand between her legs as she had done to him, lingering only long enough to tease, his finger pushing into her underwear and back out again before she knew what he had done. His hands moved back to her breasts, keeping his touch gentle and he scraped his thumbnail lightly across each nipple.
"T-t-Toby," CJ shuddered at his touch. Her breathing had changed and she arched her back towards him. She was down to only her underwear and to even the score she removed his shirt and his boxers. Then she began to caress him just the way she knew he liked it.
"This is making me want you bad" Toby hissed, pushing fingers encased in underwear up inside her, feeling her wet warmth soak through.
"You're going to start washing all of my satin Toby Ziegler," CJ threatened in a seductive pant. She was kissing him and continuing to caress him. "I want you Toby. I want you now."
"Anything" Toby sighed, his voice quivering. "Just don't make me stop touching you."
Claudia smiled and then gently guided Toby into her. "Oh Toby," she moaned, obviously pleased. She was warm and tight around him and she kissed him as they began to move in their own rhythm.
"Pregnancy hormones--I like" Toby gasped, seeing her excitement build as he felt his own climax nearing. "I love you Claudia Jean Ziegler."
"I love you Toby!" CJ screeched as her climax slammed into her and her face contorted with ecstasy.
Meanwhile Donna wrapped her arms around Josh and kissed him gleefully, "Joshua Lyman I love you SO much and we're going to have a baby, maybe twins!"
"I love you Donnatella Jolie" Josh returned, clamping his mouth to hers and then lifting her from the floor, swinging her carefully in a circle. "Twins I hope so" he enthused.
"Oh woah, Josh, too much movement," Donna said, suddenly looking very out of it and grabbing to him wildly as she became disoriented.
"Oh god Donna I'm sorry" Josh gasped and quickly set her on her feet, supporting her weight and then taking her to the bed, setting her down and holding her, pushing her head into his chest. "I'm so sorry" he repeated, "close your eyes until the room stops spinning and then you can kick my butt for doing that to you."
Meanwhile Donna curled against Josh, "just for that I'm not making love with you tonight. I was too tired to enjoy it anyhow..." she smirked teasingly at him.
Josh quickly smiled. "Thank you for not being angry. And I'm quite content to just hold you for now and let us both sleep. It wouldn't be the first time we've postponed it until the middle of the night." A slow smile came over him, "but since we've started, we've hardly missed a night have we? I guess I can't get enough of you."
"Apparently not," Donna answered before bursting into giggles. She pulled him down onto the bed with her and kissed him before laying her head on his chest. "I thought I was destined to spend forever bumbling in front of you like some idiot and trying to hide my feelings while I got hopelessly swept away every time I saw you."
"And what did you think I was doing?" Josh demanded. "Do you realize how many times you leaned over me at my desk and say something about a file in that soft voice of yours. I would be biting my tongue. Not to mention the number of times I wanted to say "Donna I need the Benson research and by the way I'm in love with you."
"Even the time I sent your chair off and you fell on that very fine toush of yours twice?" Donna asked with a raised brow.
"Only because I was too busy staring at you to watch where I was going" Josh sighed. "My eyes were on you not where I was aiming my tush."
Donna laughed, "I still found it a little too humerous. Did you ever think we'd get here Josh?"
"I honestly don't know" Josh sighed contentedly. "I almost told you a thousand times and backed off every time. Then when your apartment burned and you were staying with me I knew I couldn't bear to have you out of my life, or my arms again."
"Thank goodness you didn't let me go. I didn't want to leave but I wasn't going to outstay my welcome." Donna replied yawning again.
"I couldn't have stood it for you to leave" Josh shook his head and pulled the cover over her against the chill of the air conditioner. "Sleep now, knowing how much you are loved."
"Do you care for a quick swim before we go back up?" Tucker asked Chloe. "Since we've slept, and especially since that coffee, I'm pretty awake. We could also take another walk or play Nintendo or gin."
"How about a good game of Nintendo and some gin and a swim!" Chloe enthused excitedly racing down to the Nintendo and turning on Mario so they could laugh when the other died again.
Tucker dropped behind Chloe, curling his long legs over hers so they were embraced but hands were free while they worked the controls. "Loser spots the winner fifty points for gin" he hissed.
"Oh great...that means I can lose and still thoroughly kill you at gin!" Chloe teased and laughed happily. "Argh!" she grunted suddenly as Mario slid right off a treetop into the abyss below. "sorry Mario." she apologized to the screen.
"Your Mario committed suicide" Tucker chortled, squeezing his legs around her middle and then flopping backwards, his legs pulling her down with him.
"I said I was sorry," Chloe pretended to pout. She leaned down and kissed him and adjusted so she was laying on his chest. She smiled softly as she laid there quietly.
Tucker held her tightly, remembering that they were not reaching for anything higher and he kissed her forehead. "Love you sweetness" he whispered.
"Love you Tucker. Don't ever doubt that," Chloe answered and she kissed him softly again as she laid with him. "See this is nice. I was so worried you were going to hate me earlier. That I was going to mess up the best thing I had ever had."
"No of course not" Tucker scoffed. "I think making love adds to love but it doesn't take away from it. We have plenty of time. Listen you have a birthday coming up and I know your family is going to do something great for it but I want you and I to do something special too. Dinner and dancing? Or something at the other end of the spectrum, like a day white water rafting?"
"Dinner and dancing somewhere really fancy," Chloe answered with a smile, "I'll wear a gorgeous dress...it'll be like a dream."
"You got it" Tucker nodded. "Our own special night in addition to what your family does." His mind was already planning the evening and he smiled to himself.
Chloe and Tucker were the last to find bed and they fell asleep curled lovingly in one another's arms.
The house fell quiet and the night passed on and then gave way to morning. Still everyone slept. Caroline was the first up, slipping quietly from the bed she shared with Leo and meandering downstairs. She called and ordered a huge amount of donuts and pastries to be delivered for breakfast and then she got the twins up and they sat quietly looking out the windows in the living room while Caroline caught some more rest on the couch.
CJ was next up and she padded down the steps, holding carefully to the rail. "Toby would kill me if I fell. He doesn't like me moving unless his arm is around me" she laughed when Caroline looked up at the noise. CJ took the closest chair and watched as the twins played quietly and observed the secret service outside. "Caroline you have beautiful children" she smiled. "Leo is so proud of them it's pathetic."
"Well they are his children after all," Caroline smiled proudly, "yes I'm so thankful he loves them so much. He's taking such good care of us." Caroline was quiet a moment, "so how does pregnancy suit you so far?" "I find myself liking it," CJ replied, "Toby's turned out to be a very loving husband and excited father-to-be. He likes to read the books I have on pregnancy and tries to keep up with all the changes I'm going through. It's going to be really magical now that I'm soon to start showing."
"Toby seems like a wonderful man and I think it would be great if you two along with Donna and Josh, took the house that you're going to look at later. Showing? Yes you are" Caroline smiled, taking note of CJ's stomach. "Veteran of two pregnancies here. You already are a bit depending on what you have on. I could tell it in the pool last night. It definitely becomes you."
CJ smiled her endearing smile, the one that lit up a room, "Thanks. I really like it too and I'm starting to think it won't be so bad when the whole world can see how much Toby loves me. When I first met him I never thought 'oh there's the guy for me' but somehow it just happened and it's so right. I'm very thankful that it has. What about you and Donna? You two are going to catch up with me before long and Zoey too."
"Zoey is so tiny it won't be long for her" Caroline smiled. "I'm about there, but then I've had three....uh I mean two....pregnancies and..." She stopped and a sob caught her in her throat. "I'm sorry." She looked quickly to see if the twins were taking note of her and they were not to her relief. She sniffled again and then quietly sobbed, burying her face into a throw pillow.
CJ frowned realizing what had just slipped out and she looked to the other woman she already considered a friend, "I'm here if you want to talk about it and just because my job is speaking doesn't mean I'm not a good listener."
"For the past year Leo and I have been seeing each other" Caroline sniffled without looking up from the pillow. "We had been for five years--except for the year I was pregnant with the twins and their infancy--but this was much more frequent. I was flying to meet him if he traveled with the president, or I was spending weekends in DC with him in an apartment I rented here. Well we were using birth control but it failed and I got pregnant eight months ago. The doctor's office called the house and when I wasn't there, they told Stephan thinking of course he was the father. When I came home that night he confronted me. He grabbed my arms and spun me around, then shoved me toward the bed. My stomach hit the footboard and I collapsed in pain. When I woke up I was in a pool of blood and I knew Leo's baby was gone." She began to sob again, trying to muffle the sound with the pillow.
"Oh goodness Caroline," CJ gasped out, "Oh Caroline I'm so sorry. I had no idea and Leo doesn't know either does he? Is that what made you finally leave Stephen or him finally leave you?" CJ quietly drew the other woman into an embrace in an attempt to offer comfort. CJ had tears running down her cheeks as well.
"No I couldn't tell Leo. In fact for two months I wouldn't see him. I wouldn't see anyone. I hardly left my room. Then Leo forced me to see him again and just being around that wonderful man helped me to pull out of the depression. I passed off my moodiness as change of life, delayed post partum, BS like that. Men don't know from that. Then I finally started gathering my courage to leave him. Putting aside money, gathering papers and all; then as it turned out he was all this time plotting to leave me. Well it's all past now." She gave a mighty sniffle then and lifted her head. "Thank you CJ. Telling someone is like lifting a huge weight. Now I've got this new life inside me and I'm trying so hard to be careful of it."
"I'm sure you'll be just fine," CJ offered, "You've got Leo to love and take care of you. You're eating well and life here is pretty relaxed. After all you didn't lose your last baby because of your body's doing, Stephen beat it out of you." CJ looked like she could tear him apart a moment. "But you're right, new pregnancy, new life. It's all going to be okay." Just then the doorbell rang and Caroline brought in the large boxes of breakfast pastries. "Oh heaven," CJ exclaimed picking up a Bavarian crème donut and sinking her teeth into it.
"Belle, Brighton go tell Daddy breakfast is ready" Caroline urged and the twins pounded up the stairs, crashing into Jed who was coming down. Jed grabbed tightly to the railing and slid a few steps before Josh caught him from behind with a fistful of his pajama top. "Children of Chief of Staff assassinate president" Caroline sighed. "Sir I'm so sorry."
Two members of the secret service appeared and then retreated seeing the situation was under control. Jed merely smiled, "I remember having them that small. I feel worse for Leo." The two children were now full speed ahead for Leo. Josh smiled, "I saved the president's life. Isn't that good for some commendation?" "Against two year olds?" Jed looked to Josh teasing back.
With the commotion the rest of the guests began pouring out of their rooms. Donna was the first to reach Josh, and heard what he said about saving his life, the words sending chills through her having not heard Jed's reply. "Oh god did something happen here?" she yelped. "Josh are you OK?" "We're all fine" Jed smiled and patted her hand. She looked back to Josh, needing his confirmation before her panic could subside.
Josh swept Donna up into his arms and carried her the remaining four steps down the stairs and then into the kitchen. "I'm fine love," he replied, kissing her, "now what can I get my pregnant wife...er fiancée for breakfast?" He returned her to a large chair in the living room that he intended on sharing with her.
"A couple of those donuts with some of that great smelling coffee would be good, but that kiss was even better" she smiled. "And your promise that we're going to go check on that house would be good too. The more I think about it the better I like the idea."
Leo finally joined them, having missed the stair excitement, now with the twins in his arms. "Donuts" they squealed and ran. "Come on guys, I'll get you some juice" Mallory offered. Leo sat down with Caroline, looking at her closely. "You've been crying" he accused. "Something I should know about or a hormone thing?" He gently reached up with his knuckle and brushed at her damp cheek.
"We will go check on that house," Josh replied with a smile. "I like the idea too." he leaned down and rewarded her with another good kiss and then left her side briefly to return with their plates full of pastries and nuzzle in with her, curling her up on his lap.
Caroline looked in his eyes a long moment and then briefly at CJ who urged her ahead. "There is something we need to talk about..." she answered hesitantly.
"Have I done something?" Leo immediately jumped to the typical conclusion. "Did I hurt you somehow?"
"No, no...you didn't do anything," Caroline was quick to contradict. She was silent for a minute and then very softly said, "Leo, there was a pregnancy before this...eight months ago."
"OK" Leo nodded, his voice suddenly shaky. "Mine? And more importantly, what happened?" He sat down with her, taking both her hands to encourage her to tell what was on her mind.
"Yours," Caroline answered just as shyly. "The doctor's office called to tell me. They got Stephen instead and assumed it was his. When I came home he confronted me about it. Things got nasty and he grabbed my arms and thrust me about. My stomach hit the footboard of the bed and I fell to the floor. When I came to I was lying in a puddle of blood," she sniffled painfully then, "I knew our baby was gone."
"Oh my god" Leo gasped in horror, grabbing her immediately into a firm hug. "If I had that SOB in front of me right now he'd be a dead man. Oh Caroline and you couldn't tell me? I'm so sorry."
"And break your heart? I'd already kept the twins from you. I'm so sorry Leo. I failed us both," Caroline sighed.
"What?" Leo scoffed. "My love you didn't do a thing. That was in no way your fault. And that worthless SOB had better never come near me. I love you and thank you for telling me. The important thing now is for us to do right by these three and to have a healthy baby now." His hand fell to her belly and he rubbed tenderly. "Are you carrying my son?" he whispered.
"I hope so," Caroline whispered back with a smile. She kissed him lovingly then, "I hope your son is healthy and happy in here."
"So do I" Leo sighed, "so do I. I just hope he's slightly less active than my already here son and his equally hyper sister." He gestured to where they were flying off the back of the sofa onto the soft rug below and then wrestling delightedly with Sam and Mallory.
Toby, noticing CJ seemed to be involved with Caroline and Leo, sat down on the floor next to Josh and Donna, a plain donut and black coffee before him. "We're going to look at that house right?" he questioned. "You sound like Donna" Josh teased. "Just like the idea is all" Toby answered.
"Yes we're going at eleven," Donna replied with a giddy smile. "I wonder what CJ and Caroline are up to?"
Toby looked with concern at his wife. "Looks pretty deep, and private. I'm not getting 'come join me' vibes from CJ."
"No it doesn't look like it," Josh agreed. "I hope everything's okay. Leo doesn't need any upset in his life, losing these children after he just got them..." Josh shook his head, unwilling to even finish thinking the thought.
Toby and Donna both nodded. "Leo is so proud and happy with his new family and the baby on the way. The thought of anything happening to them is too horrible to contemplate." Toby said thoughtfully. "And on a more cheerful note, you think you and I can share a yard without killing each other?"
"You're not going to put up pink flamingoes are you?" Josh asked with a tease. Then seriously he added, "Sure. I see lots of joint barbecues and card games, movie nights and swimming ventures. I think it's going to be great. Is CJ as sold on the idea as you are?"
"CJ is ecstatic" Toby nodded. "And I'm liking it for the companionship, with privacy when desired, plus there's a good chance someone will always be around during non work hours. We'll be near Leo and Caroline. I just don't see a downside." "Unless the place is a dump" Josh smiled.
"Well that's what we're going to look at it for," Donna smiled, "but in this ritzy neighborhood I sincerely doubt it!"
"I would guess any work it needs will be more on the inside" Toby agreed. "But then you women would want to decorate, and especially fix up a nursery anyway so I don't see it as a big deal. Paint and paper we can handle, maybe some new appliances."
"Good morning" Lucas yawned and stretched and then smiled, feeling Gina curled up with him. "Did you sleep well?" he asked softly.
"Does this mean I have to move and get up now?" Gina returned, attempting to snuggle closer to him.
"I wouldn't let you if you wanted to" Lucas teased, holding her to him. "No noise from Charlie and Zoey yet...uh let me re-phrase that. There was some noise earlier but nothing that required secret service presence."
"It better not have been anymore than snuggling. They'll lose that baby if they're not careful. The doctor meant business," Gina fretted but then pushed it aside and with a smile snuggled against Lucas. "This is very nice. I hope they sleep in for a while."
"All morning at least" Lucas smiled. "I'm totally content lying right here with the woman I love."
"Sweetness I think the rest of the house is up" Tucker whispered. "Just because we stayed up half the night watching movies and cuddling. I never thought just concentrating on kissing could be so great."
"Mmm...I'm not ready for it to end," Chloe moaned good naturedly, "I don't know when we're going to get another opportunity like this and I don't think I'll ever sleep as good again without you."
"But soon I'm going to be living next door" Tucker pointed out. "At least if Sam gets off his butt and checks out that guest house. In fact you'll be sick of seeing me I'll be around so often."
"How could I get sick of seeing you?" Chloe asked. "It would be a delight to get to see you every day, almost like we were living together." She kissed him lovingly and then slipped out of bed. She returned in a pair of blue plaid shorts and a navy square-necked shirt. She picked up the brush and began to work at her hair wincing with all of the knots.
Tucker watched her for a moment and then took the brush from her. "I used to groom a neighbor's horse in exchange for rides and I was the only one she'd let brush out her tail." He picked up a small section of hair and brushed tenderly, almost sensuously before moving to the next.
"Mmm...you want to come over every morning and do that? You have magic hands, but then I already knew that," Chloe smiled, "oh please don't stop. This is so sweet."
"That sounds like an invitation to me" Tucker grinned. "We'll have to keep a hairbrush at both places for you because this is fun. I feel especially close to you right now."
"Oh I agree. This is great," Chloe practically purred, "We'll have to do this often. It feels so wonderful and you're right it's very sensual."
"This is great" Tucker sighed, her hair now tangle free he continued to brush, letting the bristles massage her scalp and he ran his hands through at the same time feeling the static electricity tingle against him.
"Oh here," Chloe moved to the bathroom and returned with a spray bottle. "Leave in conditioner," she explained and once he had sprayed that in her hair was like playing with silk or satin.
Mallory smiled, thoroughly enjoying the time with her younger half-brother and sister. "Oh Sam here comes Belle!" Mallory barely warned before Belle came flying towards him.
Meanwhile said Sam was being hit head on by a flying two year old. She landed square on his chest, all twenty five pounds of her and he fell backwards, feeling the air swoosh out of his lungs as his back hit the floor.
Mallory smiled and laughed delightedly, loving the sight of Sam with small children. He would make good father material she caught herself thinking off-handedly.
"Your fiancé has been killed down here and you're laughing" Sam declared, getting his breath back slowly and painfully.
"Yeah but you're so good with children," Mallory contradicted, "you'd make a great father."
"I'm ready for that eventuality any time now" Sam smiled and then caught her hand. "Hey I don't mean to pressure you about that--you know I promised I wouldn't."
Mallory smiled, "I know and you're doing fine. I was the one that brought it up this time, maybe now that I have my masters. Give me a month or so and maybe a baby might be in the forecast."
"I'd like that" Sam said quietly, pulling her onto the floor with him and the twins.
Meanwhile Caroline got another plate of pastries to share with Leo. Abby was the next to appear and she smiled gratefully to Jed when he presented her with a plate of pastries and a cup of coffee, just the way she liked it. She kissed him lovingly, "morning, love you."
"Good morning. Love you" he responded. "Do you realize this is the first night since the inauguration we've spent in a regular house with regular people. I'd say normal but not this group. Anyway, with regular people in a regular house. Not the president's suite at the residence, the best room in some hotel, or the guest quarters of some foreign head of state. I like it. And I slept very well. And the country didn't collapse around our ears just because I didn't have instant access to a multi million dollar communication system."
"Camp David" Leo spoke up. "When we're ready to do this again, we should make it a weekend at Camp David. Roast a pig in that big barbecue pit."
"I'm going to be ill" Donna announced at that vision.
"Woah don't make Donna ill," Josh and CJ both cautioned at once. "I think that would be a great idea," Toby agreed. Leo nodded again.
"Leo check the schedule and make room for this" Jed ordered, "preferably two weeks from this weekend. Friday noon to Monday noon. That way we can all sober up and be back at work Tuesday morning."
"Sir that Friday night is Josh and Donna's wedding," CJ was the first to speak up and Donna nodded. "Of course they could always honeymoon at Camp David and we could take Tuesday off instead of Friday," CJ suggested.
"This is why I pay you people" Jed smiled and looked to Josh and Donna, at that moment too lost in each other to have heard the proposal. "Josh, Donna, if you don't have specific honeymoon plans, how does the private cottage at Camp David sound?"
"I certainly couldn't complain. I mean we could be alone when we felt like being alone and with the group if we felt like it too," Donna pointed out, "Josh?"
"I just want to go somewhere that we can make love since I never get any at......" A second later he was on the floor as Donna dumped him from the chair. "Kidding" he yelped, "kidding--it's all we do....I mean...."
"Quit while you're ahead Lyman" Toby advised.
"Lucas, Gina we're up. I'm supposed to tell you" Charlie knocked at their door and then without thinking pushed it open. His mouth fell open and he froze in embarrassment. "I am so sorry" he got out. "I just didn't....I didn't know you were....I thought you two didn't......Please god let the ground open up and swallow me."
Gina smiled, "Charlie it's okay," she said slowly emphasizing each syllable, "just get used to this. Now turn around and walk back out and relax and we'll be out in a flash." As soon as Charlie had closed the door she jumped from the bed and amazingly enough was immaculate in five minutes.
"Charlie what's wrong?" Zoey frowned, seeing how uncomfortable he was looking when he came back to her. "There wasn't someone out there in a white sheet was there?"
"I could pay to watch that performance again" Lucas grinned, pushing himself from the bed and landing next to her. "Hey this was great. I hope it's the first of many more nights like this."
"As do I," Gina finally admitted with a smile, "as do I Lucas."
"No..." Charlie drawled, "Gina and Lucas were in bed together, that's all."
"Oh is that all" Zoey shook her head and opened her arms for her husband to rejoin her. "One more snuggle love and then we'd best make an appearance. Besides I need you to help me get food to your son."
"Hey are we going to go check that house or not?" CJ squeezed Caroline's hand in support of her revelation. "Getting late."
"Well Abbey and I are going to get back home. I'm sure the detail is getting antsy to get me back to the prison where I can be well guarded" Jed sighed. "Camp David is a go then I'm assuming and we're outta here." He helped Abbey to her feet and kissed her lovingly. "Let's you and I go get dressed, though motorcading in my pajamas would be a new experience."
Abby gave Jed 'the look' and they laughed and smiled lovingly at one another as they made for their suite and dressed. They returned as dignified and formal as when they had arrived.
Meanwhile Charlie had scooped Zoey up into his arms and gracefully and carefully carried her down the stairs. She bid her mom and dad farewell from her husband's arms before he gently set her in the wheelchair she called home momentarily.
Everyone said goodbye to Jed and Abby and then began to get ready to go look at the house. CJ actually had on a soft pink sleeveless sundress, which shocked everyone. It was her first time to wear pink around them. Donna had on a soft sage green skirt and a cream colored blouse with a beautifully draped neckline. "Let's go," Donna said grabbing up a couple more donuts and CJ did likewise as they were once more munching.
"Oh look at this" Toby teased. "Fortifying themselves. We're just going two blocks. Not on safari." "Hey I'd be careful--you might end up on the sofa tonight mister" Josh laughed. Leo and Caroline walked ahead, each with a hand on a twin. Suddenly Belle broke free of Caroline and ran back toward Josh and Donna, and then inexplicably into the busy street. Donna began to sprint after her. "Donna No" Josh screamed and dashed past her, grabbing Belle just as a taxi careened around the corner. He yanked her back out of the way, the force of his movement sending them both sprawling onto the pavement as the others watched in horror. The taxi sped off, the driver unaware of the havoc he had caused.
"Josh!" Donna screamed out in horror. She rushed the few feet to him, being quickly followed by the others. "Josh are you okay?" she begged tearfully. Meanwhile Belle was screaming at the top of her lungs. Her legs and her arms were horribly scraped up and bleeding. "Daddy!" she wailed
"I'm OK, the road broke my fall" Josh groaned and touched her cheek, his finger dabbling in the wetness there. "Is Belle all right?" Leo let go of where he had been holding tightly to Caroline and lifted the little girl into his arms. "Daddy's got you" he said softly. "We need to get your legs and arm washed up." He turned to Caroline. "I think she's OK sweetheart, just scraped."
Caroline exhaled audibly with relief. "Oh baby girl its okay." she tried to comfort her small daughter. The little girl continued to wail tough not as loudly. Toby helped Josh to his feet and Donna was immediately buried against him. "I could see that terrible taxi hitting you and Belle. I was so worried." she sniffled.
"All I could see was it hitting her and her flying through the air" Josh murmured. "Doesn't seem like anything's broken." He leaned over to where Caroline and Leo were crowded over Belle. Brighton was being held tightly to by CJ. "Is she OK?" Josh asked anxiously. "I tried not to hurt her when I grabbed but I didn't exactly have time to be delicate."
"She's a little scraped up but nothing major thanks to you," Caroline smiled and then she moved over to Josh and hugged him warmly. "Thank-you for taking care of my little girl. You could have been seriously hurt but you went after her anyhow. God bless you."
"I had to" Josh said simply, "couldn't let Donna and I was closest after that. I couldn't let this adorable child be hurt." "Caroline have we looked seriously into leashes?" Leo demanded, only half teasingly. "For their own safety. They're starting to scare me. What if Brighton had run too? Not likely he could have grabbed both." "Later Leo" Toby urged. "We need to get Belle cleaned up and Josh has a big scrape on the backside of his elbow that needs washing too." "I do?" Josh frowned and looked to Donna for confirmation.
"Yeah," Donna curled up her nose, "and it's bleeding bad." She turned then and searched frantically, finding a culvert to be ill in just in time. "Okay, cleaned up and then to see the house," Donna said recovering quickly from her brief bought of illness.
Josh watched her anxiously, at the same time trying to see his scrape. "OK but I don't want you being sick over this. I'll just wash it good and put some kind of covering on it and we'll try this again." He looked at Belle still in Leo's arms and tickled her belly. "Sweetie you scared us all." Belle giggled and reached out her arms for Josh to take her. "OK back to the house. I'm glad only Gina and Lucas are there. The regular detail would start thinking we'd been attacked or something."
The others laughed and they headed back to the house. Chloe, Tucker, Charlie and Zoey were all downstairs in the den playing Nintendo and barely noticed that the others had returned. Caroline quickly got Belle cleaned up and bandaged and then helped Josh. "Okay....shall we try this again. The going to look at the house part I mean," CJ spoke up, heading for the door.
"Please" Josh begged, noting with amusement Caroline had attached wrist leashes to each twin. "You did have them after all" he teased. "For shopping malls mainly" she laughed, "but they're getting so mobile now and Leo's right, it's scary. Not just that they could run into the street like Belle did, but in a crowd they could disappear in a heart beat." "Leo take the pink one, it's you" Toby teased.
The walk to the house was accomplished easily this time and with a push on the buzzer they were admitted through the gate. "I already like the security system" Josh smiled, squeezing Donna's hand, and thinking of late nights if he was gone and she was home. "Wow these are beautiful gardens" Caroline observed, "need some tending, but still..."
"Oh my goodness!" Donna exclaimed, "the house is two story, look at how beautiful!" "Oh wow, this is impressive," CJ smiled, "rod iron fence perimeter, stone home, lots of windows. I love it so far."
"Folks come in" a man's voice called from the wide front porch which the two houses shared, their front doors about five feet apart. "I'm Peter Breck, the selling agent for the owner. "Which half do you want to see first? There's actually not much to see since they're empty of furniture. They're just painted a little different. The left half has a bedroom in Peter Rabbit is the main difference, and the right half has more of a gourmet kitchen. But of course you're going to want to have the floors redone, paint and wall paper, drapes and so forth. Otherwise it's sound. Built about 1920. Al Capone visited here so they say."
"I defer the right half to CJ," Donna smiled and CJ smiled a thank-you in return since everyone knew she loved to cook and was good at it. They decided to tour the right side first. As they stepped in they were immediately greeted by a dark wooden paneled room, there was a set of double doors on the right and they opened those to see a cozy yet spacious living room. It had a very large picture window that opened onto the gardens in the front. Donna was thrilled already. Then they came back into the darkly paneled hall, cherry as they were later informed and the house was all hardwood floors on the first level as well. They walked just past the squared staircase with it's arched doorway and followed the hall right into a nice kitchen with black and white tiled floors, countertop and backsplash. "Pretty," CJ commented and Donna seemed to agree. The kitchen led into a cozy dining room, which had a large window that opened onto the side gardens. They back tracked through the kitchen and up the short hall again to continue along the main entry to the back room which was by far the largest and had floor to ceiling windows the length of it as well as French doors which opened on to a brick terrace which made it's way down to the beautiful pool area surrounded by gardens. CJ and Donna gasped. Turning back they made their way up the stairs and opened the first door on the left, which led them to a bedroom with a window seat and a view of the back garden. The closet was spacious. The room had its own bath attached as well. The next room was on the right hand side and it was interesting in that it had a bed built in the side of each wall with slide out spacing beneath them. The bathroom for that room was across the hall, modern plumbing with antique handles. The space at the end of the hall was a massive master suite. It had a sitting room at the front of the house and then a private hall which gave to the spacious master bath with a jaquzee in it and a spacious shower as well as a skylight. Finally the large master bedroom was facing the back of the house with doors that opened onto a rod iron balcony. "Oh Josh," Donna said obviously in love with it.
"I swear my apartment would fit into the master bedroom alone" he smiled. "It's like Leo's house only with less rooms and smaller of course." He put a quick arm around her. "You're falling in love with it aren't you?"
"The other side is similarly laid out, but with some decorating differences" Peter reminded them. "Now the owner has taken a job out of the area and moved out the tenant from this half so he's very anxious to let the whole thing go so he can put it down on his new place of course."
"These grounds will be beautiful in the snow too" Caroline pointed out as Belle and Brighton shrieked through the upstairs. She turned to Leo. "Tell me again why we're having another one."
"Of course I'm falling in love with it," Donna smiled, "what's not to love? Lots of windows for light and its spacious and close to Leo and Caroline and CJ and Toby will be right next door!"
"It's very nice," CJ told Toby, "I think we could be very happy here. I like the nice wide shallow stairs, very little chance of an accident."
"Because babies are love?" Caroline suggested a response.
"That sounds about right to me" Leo smiled. "Because I'm very much in love with their mother and I'm going to see this one born. I didn't even get to do that with Mallory. Dads were relegated to the waiting room in those days."
"Well I think we're sold" Josh smiled, taking Donna's hand. "Let's see the other half and see if it's something our counterparts can live with."
"Well you can be involved as much or as little as you would like with this one," Caroline smiled.
They exited the right side of the duplex and entered the left. It's entry was much the same only with the stairs on the right hand wall instead of the left. The front room was the same design only the owners had apparently been fond of pink. "I'm definitely redecorating!" CJ cringed and Donna had wrinkled her nose up as well. In this half of the house there was a beautiful powder room under the stairs and it lacked a hallway instead going into a larger kitchen with an incredible tin ceiling that had everyone gasping at it's detailed beauty. The dining room was the same design as Donna's though the previous owners had left a beautiful chandelier in place. "I guess that's to make up for the safari brown walls here. They should fire their decorator," CJ commented. The back room was just as Josh and Donna's as well. They headed upstairs and the first door was on the left opening to a beautiful room with a window seat and its own bath. The door directly across the hall from it was obviously the nursery. It also had it's own bath. It was painted in a sky blue with the familiar Beatrix Potter scenes on all the walls. It had a set of French doors that opened onto this side's rod iron balcony. The master suite was much the same as Josh and Donna's with a huge bedroom opening onto their rod iron balcony and the sitting room overlooking the gardens in the front. "It's very nice," CJ commented with an approving smile.
"Can you picture us having evening pool parties and cook outs out there?" Toby said softly, "with inviting everyone of course. Or just quiet nights on our own." He leaned down to CJ's ear. "Maybe making love in the pool at midnight in the dark?"
"Pool" Brighton yelped and he was off down the stairs, Belle at his heels. "No" Caroline screeched starting after them. "We'll catch them" Toby assured her, smacking Josh's arm to get him to run with him. "They're going to make me an old man" Leo sighed. "Should have left them leashed" Caroline fretted, watching Josh and Toby sprint after the active twins. "Josh has nice buns when he runs" CJ teased.
"Hey what are you doing commenting on my fiancée's buns!" Donna teased. "Gotcha!" Toby declared snatching up Belle. Josh meanwhile slipped on the entry's wooden floor and slid all the way into the great room before a laughing Brighton sat on his back and bounced "gidyap! Horsey G'yap!" the toddler declared and Caroline put a hand over her face with a sigh seeing all the trouble her youngest two were causing. "And they behave so well for Chloe," Caroline sighed.
"She's part of the same generation" Leo laughed. "I like their spirit. Of course when I have my first stroke remind me of what I just said."
"I've got this one" Josh yelled. "I think he's got you" Toby smiled, relieving Josh's back of its burden and holding both the twins now. "These are great kids" he enthused. "I hope we four get some just like them." "I'd better start working out" Josh panted, staggering to his feet in time to see Donna and CJ start down the stairs. "Be careful Please" he begged. "You know that's one thing about our apartments, no steps."
"We're taking it very slowly, we're fine," Donna replied. "The stairs are very easy to hold onto, the railings here, and they aren't slick," CJ added. "I'm sure they'll be fine," Caroline further sought to calm Josh. She was still white from Leo's stroke comment. A moment more of thinking about it and she burst into tears. "That was a horrible thing to say. You frightened me," she whimpered.
"Oh baby I'm so sorry" Leo gasped. "Never again. Listen now. I just had a physical last month and I'm in good shape. Nothing at all wrong with blood pressure or anything like that. I'm going to be around you and the babies for a long, long time." He pulled her to him, rubbing her back. "That was thoughtless and I'm sorry. I'm sure you are concerned about who would look after this growing family, but I promise you I'm going to be right here to do it."
Caroline sniffled her train of tears to a halt and hugged him a moment more before she composed herself. "I'm sorry I just… that was so real and frightening. I couldn't bear to lose you." She kissed him, "I love you." She held to him then.
"Well it looks like we have a house," Toby commented. "Yes and I think everyone should come over and paint this weekend," CJ teased. "No really I'm going to hire someone and have it done in no time." Donna nodded her agreement. The three couples, plus the twins signed the necessary work and then walked from what would soon be their home.