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“Do you realize we are practically hiding in a closet?” Carter snickered.

Aron hushed him.

“They’ll find us,” his husband reproached.

“Of course they will,” Carter said matter-of-factly. “They have the dog with them. They’re already tracking us as we speak.”

“The fact that you’re making so much noise is not helping,” Aron glared.

“Okay, okay,” Carter agreed.

They stood in silence for a couple of seconds. There was no noise from outside. Well, they had found the perfect hiding place, in the closet under the stairs in Aron’s folks’ house. Great, they could relax a little.

“So,” he whispered, getting close to his husband, “what’s up?”

Aron circled his waist with one hand.

“Are you sure you want a honest reply to that? Because I know exactly what’s up right now, seeing that we’re all alone, in a confined place, and I only have to lean in like this, and kiss you.”

Carter was pretty certain that they were going to smooch each other so loudly that their trackers were going to find them any moment now.

“So, should we schedule a date for tonight? After 10 am, when everyone’s finally asleep, just you and me, the dads’ bedroom, and a bottle of wine?” Aron nuzzled his neck.

“I’d rather have a beer,” Carter protested. “Haven’t had one in a while. Why am I always the designated driver?” he faked complaint.

“Because the kids prefer your driving style for some reason.”

“Well, I do take them everywhere they want,” Carter pointed out.

“Yeah. You’re soft,” Aron chuckled.

“Someone’s got to be. Hey, it’s like I’m the good cop, and you’re the bad cop!” Carter exclaimed.

His husband hushed him with another kiss.

Then, Aron stopped and frowned.

“Hey, why am I the bad cop?”

It was Carter’s turn to laugh.

“Frankly, I think they are a tiny bit afraid of you. Deidre told her friends in kindergarten that her dad is as big as a mountain. And that her daddy, aka me, is just a little smaller. Of course, that was an exaggeration. But they believed her.”

“I don’t think they are afraid,” Aron glared.

“They are. Although you wouldn’t believe Freddie and what kind of explanations he’s coming up with for your behavior.”

“My behavior?” Aron exclaimed.

This time, Carter hushed him.

“It’s okay. They need the ground rules,” Carter whispered, sneaking his hands under his husband’s t-shirt.

Even in his forties, Aron still had the same awesome hard body. Carter could feel himself drooling.

“Well, if it were after you, we would all sleep in the same bed and have the dog on top of us all. We would have zero sex life,” Aron said, but Carter knew him well enough to notice the bubble of laughter underneath it all.

“Good thing I have you to play the bad cop role. I would never be capable of doing that,” Carter mumbled, his attention arrested by the hard planes of Aron’s torso. “And I would not like a zero sex life either.”

“Hey, don’t you think they should have found us by now?” Aron caught his hands and listened intently. “What do you think they’re up to?”

Carter sighed.

“I bet they came up with some plan of dragging us out of our hiding place. I’m sure Freddie said something like ‘oh, let’s just let them get bored and hungry, and they will come out’. Yeah, I think so.”

“That boy,” Aron laughed. “I swear he’s smart beyond his years. And I know someone who’s exactly like that.”

“Or he’s just counting on his own experience of playing hide and seek,” Carter continued his train of thought. “He’s the one who got bored and hungry and came out of his hiding place, after we almost turned the entire place upside down searching for him that one time when we played at home.”

Aron nodded with a smile.

“Should we play along?”

“Yeah,” Carter admitted. “We’ll have plenty of time to play adult games tonight. Plus, I don’t want to miss the chance of getting out of the closet together with my husband,” he linked his fingers with Aron’s.

Aron beamed at him.

“I’m sure they have already forgotten about us, but, yeah, how could I skip that?”


“Where is Freddie?” Carter asked his mom, the moment they were out in the yard.

“He is busy inspecting the place. I think he is currently interested in dendrology,” his mother pointed out at the boy now carefully looking at the big oak overlooking from their yard into the Ruskins’ lawn. “Just make sure he doesn’t climb it like you did back in the day,” she wagged the finger at him.

Carter just laughed and waved. But seriously, he wasn’t going to let Freddie give him a heart attack like he had probably given his mom that day.

“Hey, buddy,” he called and their son turned to look at him.

“Grandma was talking to granny and telling her that this tree has a hell of a story to tell,” Freddie pointed out at the old oak, somewhat accusingly. “Do trees tell stories? Do they talk?”

Carter moved to stand side by side with the boy.

“Did grandma said ‘hell’?” he eyed Freddie, and the boy just looked away and shrugged.

It was clear that the matter of talking trees was much more interesting than whatever lecture his daddy had in store for him.

“Okay, I can tell you that story. But let me tell you a secret,” he caressed the boy’s head. “That was just the beginning.”

“The beginning? I want to know the end,” Freddie replied.

“Hmm, are you still looking at the end of books first? I told you’re ruining all the fun that way,” Carter said, but he was not really scolding Freddie.

After all, he was doing exactly the same thing. Even now, as a complete grown up, married with children.

“I can tell you the end,” he said with a smile.

Freddie turned to stare at him. Carter took his and Aron’s son by the shoulders to guide him back to the big table where everyone, from three generations, was gathered around. Aron was bouncing Deidre on one knee, making their little girl squeal in delight, while the two grandmas were debating what to bring first, and the grandpas were absorbed with talking about the last night’s game.

Aron looked at him and smiled. The biggest smile in the world on the most beautiful face Carter had ever seen in his entire life, with no chance of having anyone surpass that in a thousand years or all eternity. He wasn’t sure.

“So, dad, the end? The story?” Freddie pulled at his sleeve.

“Ah, that’s easy,” Carter caressed their son’s head, and took in once more the family picture in front of his eyes, especially Aron playing with their daughter. “The end is ... And they lived happily ever after.”