Christmas morning arrived to find Aaron up before anyone else, showered, dressed and downstairs preparing a huge breakfast. Everyone slowly drifted downstairs to the smell of hot cinnamon rolls, bacon, sausage, pizza omelets, Belgium waffles, a huge bowl of fresh fruit and several Polynesian breakfast delicacies which were spread out on the breakfast bar. Two carafes of coffee plus wassail, several pitchers of fresh fruit juices and milk also waited to be consumed.
"Wow!" Adam remarked. "This is an incredible spread. Did you do all this by yourself, Aaron?"
"If I know him, he's been up most of the night cooking." Jay replied sleepily as he walked up to Aaron and gave him a kiss. "Mele Kalikimaka, everyone."
"Mele Kalikimaka!" Tommy, Aaron, Adam and Kelly replied in unison. The others slowly trickled in. Plates were loaded, cups filled and everyone sat down to a wonderful breakfast full of easy, light conversation.
After breakfast was done, everyone went into the living room where gifts were exchanged. Everyone loved the candles they had received. Aaron had received a one-hundred dollar VISA gift card from Adam and Kelly, and the same from Janita and Janine. With an air of eager anticipation Jay stood up and held out his hand to Aaron. "Baby, Tommy, Andy and I collaborated a little on your Christmas gift. I need you to come with me, please." Slightly bewildered, Aaron took Jay's hand and allowed himself to be led out into the garage and up the stairs to the attic, followed by Tommy, Andy and the rest of the family. "Open the door." Jay told him. Aaron just stood there with a puzzled look on his face. "Go on, open it." He opened the door and stepped into the room, looking around in complete shock. The room was filled with every candle making mold, type of wax, color dye and scent imaginable along with thermometers, double-boilers, pouring pitchers, glass jars, tea lite cups, votive cups, wicks of all sizes, mold cleaner, mold release and every possible accessory. "Welcome to your new candle making studio. The supplies are from Tommy and Andy. This is from me." He handed him an envelope. Inside the envelope was a five-hundred dollar gift card to Ikea. "Use this gift card to get whatever shelving and storage units you want to keep everything in. These two tables here" Jay pointed to the appropriate tables "are on wheels so you can move them around wherever you need them. Both have fire extinguishers underneath. There's another one in that cabinet over there under the sink, just in case. These other tables have been coated with the same stuff that the tables at Candle Crafts are so that the wax won't stick to them."
Aaron stood there, looking around the room in disbelief, tears flowing in rivers down his cheeks. "I-I-I don't know what to say. This is something I never even dreamed of having. I can't believe it."
Jay started rubbing his back. "Believe it, baby. It's real, and it's all yours. You can come up here anytime you want and just make one candle, or make a dozen. Whatever you want, whenever you want." He handed him another envelope. "Here're the keys so you can keep it locked if you wish. Now, I've saved the best part for last. Come here." He took him by the hand and guided him over to a big picture window. He drew the drapes open to reveal their private beach, Aaron's favorite place in all of Hawaii. "You have a beautiful view of the beach." He lost it then, pulling Jay into a rib-breaking hug and just bawled on his shoulder. Everyone made a discreet exit, leaving them alone.
When Aaron was finally able to get himself under control, Jay led him to the couch in front of the picture window. "I don't know how I'll ever be able to thank you, Tommy and Andy for this...this...this..." words failed him as he broke down again.
Jay wrapped him in his arms and rocked him gently. "This is thanks enough." He pulled away slightly, raised Aaron's head and kissed him gently. "I love you so much. I can't tell you how much."
"I love you too. More than I'll ever be able to express."
"You do express it, every time you look at me. I see it in your eyes. I have one more gift for you, but I'm afraid you'll have to wait a couple days for it to arrive, but I think it will be worth the wait. Now, what do you say we go join the others? On your next day off we'll hop in the truck and head out to Ikea. In the mean time" Jay got up, went over to the counter and pulled a catalog out of a drawer "here's a catalog from Ikea that you can look through and get an idea of what you might want for shelving and storage units."
"Would you mind if I put up a pegboard and hooks for the molds like they have at Candle Crafts? I really like that way of storing them."
"It's your studio to do with as you please. We can stop by Home Depot either on the way to or on the way back from Ikea and get it. We can also look at paint if you want to repaint the walls."
"Thank you, baby. I can't tell you how much this means to me."
"Actually, there is one way you can pay me back for this."
"And what is that?"
"Teach me everything you know about making candles. I really enjoyed doing it."
"On one condition."
"The first time we come up here to make candles, before we do anything, we make something else."
"And what would that be?" Jay asked with a twinkle in his eye, knowing full well what the answer was going to be.
"I think you know."
"Love." Aaron whispered.
Jay kissed him soundly. "That's a condition I'll always agree to." He stood up, took Aaron by the hand and led him back to the house to rejoin the family for a day of fun and family.
Three days after Christmas, while Aaron was at work, Jay was again at the airport, this time holding up a sign that said "Justin and Alison" Justin wasn't hard to spot as he looked identical to his twin brother Aaron, only about an inch or two shorter. There was a slight resemblance between him and his younger sister Alison. As they approached he held out his hand. "Hi, I'm Jayson. I'm so glad you were able to make it."
Justin shook Jay's hand, but Alison threw herself on Jay, hugging him tightly. "Where is he? Where's our brother?" She asked tearfully.
"He's at work. He doesn't know you're here. It's a surprise."
"Why didn't you tell him? What if he doesn't want to see us?" Justin asked.
"He misses you. He was terribly hurt when you turned your backs on him" he held up his hand to forestall their pending arguments "not knowing that it was your parents that were behind it, intercepting your letters and stuff. He never stopped thinking about you and missing you. That's why I wanted to get the three of you back together. Family is important to him."
"Our parents will never accept him."
"I kinda figured that, but I'm hoping that I can at least get the three of you back together."
"Just out of curiosity" Alison began "how did you figure all of this out?"
"Twenty-five years with the FBI. I called in every favor I was ever owed several months ago to not only track down the two of you, but to check into phone and postal records. It wasn't hard to track down your parents and get them to confess to mail tampering, which is a felony, since the postal computers record every mail transaction, including returned and forwarded mail."
"Are you pressing charges against them?"
"No. The statute of limitations has long since passed and we couldn't anyway since it wasn't a formal investigation.
"They'll wish they had charges pressed against them by the time I'm through with them." Justin, a professional football player, hissed between clenched teeth.
"Don't you dare stoop to their level, Justin. That privilege is mine!" Alison, a well-respected journalist for a major newspaper responded, rage clearly evident in her voice. "All the years we missed out on because of them."
"Well all that's about to change. Here's the plan." As they headed out of the terminal building, Jay outlined the plan for their reunion. Several hours later, Jay heard Aaron come through the door. He jumped up and ran to the foyer, sweeping Aaron into his arms and kissing him deeply. "Hi, baby. How was your day?"
"Same shit, different diaper. No fires, thankfully. Just a day of cleaning equipment, stuff like that. How was yours?"
"I was able to arrange for a family reunion. I'm hoping it will be a happy one."
"There's a possibility it won't be?"
"There's always that possibility when homophobia is involved."
"Well I hope it works out okay."
"Me too, baby, me too." We'll know shortly. "Why don't you get changed and join me out by the pool so we can relax a bit before dinner. Tommy and Andy have gone out to the club and took everyone with them, so I thought we'd grab some pizza before heading out there ourselves."
"Pizza sounds good, but if you don't mind, I think I'll stay in tonight. I'm kinda beat."
Yeah, you'll stay in, but not for the reason you think. "That's fine, baby. I'll go order the pizza, you go get changed." Jay gave him a quick kiss then left to find out what everyone liked on their pizza. "Okay." He began after ordering the pizzas. "He'll be down shortly. He has no idea that you're here. Nervous?"
"Yeah." Justin and Alison chorused.
"Me too. I really hope everything works out for you guys. He's missed you so much."
"And we've missed him."
"Baby, what time is...." Was all Aaron could get out as he walked out onto the pool deck and saw his twin brother and younger sister sitting there. He just stared at them, tears flowing down his cheeks.
"This is the family reunion I was telling you about. I'll leave you guys alone. You have a lot to talk about." Jay said, rising and crossing over to Aaron. "Listen to what they have to say with your heart." He kissed Aaron and left, leaving him frozen in his tracks.
"I can't believe you guys are here. I thought you never wanted to see me again." He whispered hoarsely.
"Thank Jayson for our being here, and thank our parents for making you believe that." Justin said, slowing standing and approaching Aaron, holding out his arms. "They intercepted and sent back all of your letters to us. We thought you refused to respond to our letters."
"I never received any letters from you."
"We asked mom several times for your address in the military and each time she told us that you never wrote and gave it to her." Alison said.
"She told me that she went to your recruiter and was told that you had never enlisted in the armed forces, which is why we didn't hang around whenever you came home, supposedly on leave." Justin told him.
"Excuse me for a moment." Aaron went upstairs and came back down a few minutes later with a couple of bundles of envelopes in his hands. "Here are the letters I wrote to you guys and to mom and dad, each one returned unopened." He laid the bundles on the table, tears flowing down his cheeks. "After awhile I knew that I was alone and no longer had a family that wanted me, so I gave up writing. I never bothered after my first enlistment to try to come home on leave because it was obvious to me that I no longer had a home to go to. When my time was up, I decided to stay here in Hawaii."
"Aaron, I swear to you, we never saw those letters. Ever. We thought it was you who had abandoned us. We've both missed you so much. That's why when Jayson contacted us we jumped at the chance to come here. We wanted to know what we had done to you that was so horrible that you'd do this to us." Alison exclaimed.
"Here I thought my being gay was what turned you against me." Aaron tearfully admitted.
Justin closed the distance between him and Aaron and pulled him into his arms. "Bro, I'm gay too. I came out three years ago and dear old mom and dad haven't spoken to me since." The two brothers clung to each other tightly, crying hard. It wasn't long before Alison joined them for a group hug, siblings reunited after two decades.
Jay, watching from the kitchen window more than a little misty-eyed, got out his cell phone and dialed. "Tommy, it worked. The three of them are clinging to each other as if their lives depended on it. I'm not sure if I'll be coming out to the club or not. I'm going to play this one by ear. I want to be close by in case Aaron needs me, but I'm definitely giving them as much space as they need. I'm pretty sure they won't be needing the reservations I made for them at the Honolulu Hotel and believe me, forfeiting the room deposit is money well spent if the reconciliation goes the way I think it's going. Uh-oh, Aaron's heading this way. Catch `ya later!" He quickly hung up then ran downstairs and turned the TV on in the rec room.
"JAY?" Aaron called.
"DOWNSTAIRS IN THE REC ROOM!" He shouted back.
Aaron came bounding down the stairs and threw himself on Jay, kissing him passionately, his eye brimming with tears. "I don't know how you did it, but I'll never, ever be able to thank you for getting me back together with my brother and sister. I can't tell you how much it means to all of us."
"So things are good between the three of you?"
"Yeah. Things are great. We have a lot of catching up to do. Oh, and by the way, it would appear that my sister is an only child. My parents basically disowned my brother because he is also gay."
About a thousand curses went through Jay's mind, but they remained unuttered. "I'm sorry that the two of you had to go through that, baby. That is just so wrong." He said as he got out his cell phone and dialed a number. "Hi, this is Jayson Matthews-Williams. I made a reservation that I need to cancel. Yes, I understand that the room deposit will be forfeited. I'm fine with that. Thank you. Have a nice evening."
"You made a reservation at a hotel? What for?"
"Backup plan in case the reunion didn't go as well as I had hoped it would. Since it did go the way I hoped it would they will, of course, be staying here for as long as the three of you want."
"You are so wonderful. Please, come upstairs and hang with us."
"I will in a little while. You guys need some alone time."
"No, they want to get to know you as well. Please, Jay." Aaron begged as he held out his hand to him.
"Okay." Jay took his hand and the two of them joined the others out on the patio and got to know each other. It was a wonderful evening for the four of them, made even better when Tommy, Andy, Adam, Kelly, Janita and Janine returned and were able to get acquainted with Justin and Alison. Shortly after midnight Jay stood up. "I'm sure we could talk all night long, but I'm willing to bet that Justin and Alison are exhausted and would like to get some sleep."
Justin nodded reluctantly. "I wish I could stay up all night, but I am really tired."
"Me too." Alison reluctantly agreed. "If one of you would be so kind as to call us a cab..."
"Okay, you guys are a cab." Adam interjected as everyone groaned as if in utter agony.
"What do you need a cab for?" Jay asked innocently.
"To take us to our hotel. By the way, where are we staying?" Justin asked.
"You're staying at the Casa su Matthews-Williams."
Aaron covered his mouth to hide his grin as his sister asked "Where is that?"
"Right here. You're welcome to stay with us for as long as you want. That way you can take your time getting to know one another again."
"Thank you, but we don't want to intrude."
"You're not intruding. This place has ten bedrooms, six of which are not being used so, Adam, why don't you help me grab their bags while Aaron gets them settled in upstairs."
"Are you sure we're not putting you out, Jay?"
"If I wasn't sure, I wouldn't have said anything. I want the two of you to consider this your home away from home. As far as I'm concerned you're family." The last statement started the tears running down Aaron, Alison and Justin's faces.
As Adam was helping Alison get settled in, she turned to him. "I just can't believe this is happening. For years I wondered where my brother was and how things went so horribly wrong. Then along comes your father and orchestrates a wonderful reunion. And now he refers to us as part of the family. Not the normal behavior of the rich and powerful. Don't get me wrong. There's no way I will ever be able to properly thank him for doing this. I can't help but wonder why he is doing this for us."
"Well, first of all, he's not rich. He's a semi-retired FBI agent and photographer."
"How can he afford an estate such as this if he isn't rich?"
"The estate isn't his." Adam explained. "It belongs to a local billionaire philanthropist. This house was given to him and his late husband, my other father, years ago. He owns it free and clear. As far as why he's doing this, he's doing it for two reasons. He loves Aaron more than I've ever seen him love anyone or anything ever. Aaron's happiness is more important to him than anything else. He told me about how when they first got together and were getting to know each other that Aaron would often mention how much he missed you and Justin and wished he could go back in time to fix whatever he did to drive you guys away from him. More than once he's cried himself to sleep over it. Family is extremely important to Dad. He and my other father adopted me when I was five and Janita when she was sixteen. He would do anything for his family, which includes trying to bring yours back together since Aaron and now you and Justin, are now part of our family."
"My parents will never accept Aaron or Justin. They've basically disowned them. Believe me, when I get back to Tuscon they're going to see a side of me they've never seen before."
"Or want to, I bet." Aaron chimed in from the doorway.
"Aaron" Justin began, coming up behind him "you have no idea the hell that's about to be unleashed."
"Trust me, they'll regret what they did to us. I promise you that."
Aaron crossed over to her and pulled her into his arms. "Alison, they're not worth it. We've already gotten our revenge, if you think about it for a minute." She pulled away and stared at him in puzzlement, as did Adam and Justin. "What did they do their best to prevent?"
"Justin and me from ever seeing you again."
Aaron held out one of his arms and motioned Justin to join them for a group hug, which he quickly did. "And where are we now?"
"Together in paradise."
"Together forever, I hope."
"Forever." Justin and Alison pledged simultaneously as they gripped each other tighter.
Reluctantly Aaron broke the hug. "We need to get some sleep. We have a busy day tomorrow. I have a lot to show you. Have either of you been to the islands before?"
"Cool. How long can you stay?"
"I just retired, so I can stay for a couple of days." Justin replied.
"I have a week's vacation saved up, but I only planned on a day or two. I wasn't sure if you'd want me around or not." Alison answered quietly.
"As far as I'm concerned, you guys can stay for the rest of your lives."
"Careful bro, I might just take you up on your offer."
"There's plenty of room if you decide to." Jay said, knocking on the doorframe. "I just came by to see if anyone needed anything before I turn in."
"You've done more than enough for us, baby. Go on ahead. I'll join you shortly." Aaron replied then said his goodnights to his brother and sister before joining Jay in bed. "Just when I thought you couldn't do anything to make me fall more in love with you than I already have, you go and pull this off. I don't know how you did it, but know that I will never, ever forget what you have done here today." Tears started flowing unchecked down his cheeks and fell onto Jay's chest. "Nor will my brother and sister."
"Seeing you happy like this is thanks enough." Jay kissed him soundly and shortly was sliding in and out of Aaron slowly and deeply. "I love you, Aaron." Jay cried out as his seed spewed forth. He collapsed on top of Aaron, breathless where remained for a few minutes until he softened and slipped out of him. He tightened his hold on him, kissed him passionately and rolled them over so that Aaron was lying on top of him. Locking his ankles around his waist, Jay told him "My turn. I need you inside me." Aaron was all too happy to oblige as the spent several hours making love to each other late into the night before they finally fell asleep.
The week that followed found the three siblings recapturing the closeness of their youth. It was a day of sadness when Alison and Justin had to say goodbye and return to the mainland. They left with the knowledge that they were forever reunited with their beloved brother and with the promise that when Aaron took his next vacation, he and Jay would visit them in Tucson.
Laying bed after a round of intense lovemaking, each man was lost in his own thoughts. Aaron reflected on how radically his life had changed in the course of a year. He was in love like he had never been in love before. He'd found his true soul mate. He was incredibly happy and finally able to live a normal life again. He had a home that he was proud to host parties for his fellow firefighters in. Jay's family and friends accepted him with open arms and loved him. Best of all, he was reunited with brother and sister who he had missed terribly over the past twenty years. What more could any man want?
Jay's thoughts were on a similar track. When Kyle died, he thought he'd be alone for the rest of his life, but he was wrong. He found love again, love that took the form of the man he held in his arms, whose head rested on his shoulder and arm rested across his flat stomach, their legs intertwined. He placed a tender kiss on Aaron's forehead. His family accepted him with open arms and he was able to reunite Aaron with his brother and sister successfully.
Life doesn't get any better than this.
I hope you have enjoyed The Long Road. Watch for chapters of the second story in the Long Road series, Journey Down The Long Road, coming in April.