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Chapter 10


Marcus and I were in the shower. I was still deep in thought at the revelations from his story about Jared. I knew things had been difficult for him, but I had no idea how much pain the whole situation had caused. When he started to wash my hair, I loved the feeling of Marcus's hands lathering up my hair and massaging my scalp. To me it was always among the most intimate moments we shared.

He whispered in my ear as his hands worked up the lather, "Babe, stop stewing. That story wasn't meant to cause you stress. I need you to let it go. I know you think you hurt me and need to make it up to me, but I caused most of the pain. I never should have kept my mouth shut about my feelings. I only hope you can forgive me."

I spun around, and just stared into his amazing blue eyes. He pushed my head under the water to rinse off the shampoo. Finally, I kissed him and pulled him close. The water was running over both of us, the kisses became more passionate. Just then Marcus's office phone started to ring.

"Let the voicemail get it, Babe."

"Marcus and Tony, Its Jamie, I need you to call me back as soon as you can. Our babysitter crapped out on us. Sarah and I have to go to a work thing for her and we need someone to take care of the boys. Please give me a call."

Marcus began to smile. "What do you say, care to spend some time with a couple of crazy six-year olds today?"

I grinned back. "Sure, that will be fun. Call your brother back. Just don't let me forget to call my parents later today in all the confusion your nephews are bound to cause."

"How about this? After we get dressed, you call your parents and make plans for next weekend, and I'll call Jamie to see what they need from us."

"Sounds good. Does that mean you're ready to go through more photos? I'm sure my father is chomping at the bit. Do you want to go up Friday night or Saturday?"

"Tell them Saturday, I don't want to try and rush up Friday, I still have that house closing and a custody hearing in the afternoon. It could be a late night."

"Okay, I will let them know."

After getting dressed, I went out into the living room to call my parents on my cell. Dad answered on the first ring.

"Hey, Dad, Were you sitting on the phone?"

"Tony, I was just going to call you. Your Mom and I were hoping you and Marcus could come up next weekend. It will be the last weekend before school starts in again. What do you think?"

"Dad, that's too funny. That's why I'm calling. Like minds, I guess. We are planning on coming up early Saturday. Marcus has a long day on Friday. What do you think?"

"It sounds like a good plan. I think your Mom will be thrilled. How is everything son? You sound a little down."

"Everything is wonderful. Things just got a little serious this morning, but we are doing great. I think we may be babysitting his nephews today, so wish us luck. We need it with those two crazy boys. I'll talk to you later in the week when our plans firm up. Tell Mom I said, 'Love you,' See you soon Dad."

"Okay, we will see you next Saturday. Have fun with the boys today, tell Marcus to be prepared to spend a little time looking at photos. Crystal is asking if I have stuff ready for her. I hope Marcus can help me find a few more shots. I promise to only borrow your boyfriend's eyes for a couple of hours."

"Dad, you are too funny. He can't wait to look at more of your work. We will see you next weekend."

After hanging up with my father, I went into the office to see what was going on with Jamie, Sarah and the boys. Marcus had a grin on his face and was still on the phone with his brother.

"Jamie, we will be there in about an hour. Don't apologize; we both are excited about spending time with your little devils. See you in a few."

"Well Babe, it looks like we are hanging out with my nephews until noon tomorrow. Sarah has a conference at the casino for work. After the conference and dinner, they are spending a free night in the hotel. So, it looks like we are having a sleepover. Are you ready for this?" He was smiling. "Are we on for New Hampshire next weekend?"

"Dad was just about to call to invite us. He says Crystal is looking for more pieces and he promised to steal you away for only a few hours."

"He is too funny. Did you tell him we would be there Saturday?"

"Yeah, he knows. I told him I would call later in the week to let him know our final plans."

"Excellent. Now are you ready for the adventure of 24 hours with two little devils?"

I grinned at him. "You know I love those boys, so what's the plan?"

"There is no plan, that's the best kind. We need to get them in about an hour. We can either have them spend the night here or we spend the night at Jamie's place. I was thinking maybe going bowling, then lunch. If we can get then to watch a movie, that probably means naps. Then we could take them to the park or the pool, followed by supper. Finally, they might sleep over here if we build their tent in the bedroom. What do you think, Babe?"

"Sounds good for no plan, I just need to check the website of the school district before the weekend is over. If Jon talks to his friend, I want to be sure my ducks are in a row."

"No problem. Do you need to finish up before we head out? I'm hoping we will get back here after lunch, but just in case..."

"No, I'm good. I should have time tomorrow after we take the boys home."

We got to Jamie and Sarah's just before noon. As we got out of the car and started towards the door, two blurs ran towards us. The next thing I knew, four little arms were around our necks.

"Uncle Marcus, Uncle Tony we is spending the whole day with yous guys." Stephen shouted in Marcus's ear.

"And Daddy says, we is spending the night too." Josh planted a big kiss on my cheek.

I was a little overwhelmed. It was the first time the boys had called me Uncle Tony. Marcus noticed my confusion and grinned at me. "Boys, take Uncle Tony in and show him your room. I need to talk to Daddy for a minute."

"C'mon, Uncle Tony... you never seen our room." "Yeah, we still gots our dinosaurs." "We gonna bring our tent to your house to sleep in tonight. Cool, huh." "Yeah, you gots to sleep in the tent with us Uncle Tony!" The boys were talking a mile a minute. All I could do was smile and nod my head.

"Boys, guess what we are doing today?"

They screamed together, "Bowling and pizza and the park and ice cream and sleeping in the tent and having fun with yous guys!"

"Wow... that sounds like the most awesome time ever!"

Josh smiled, "I know. Yous guys are the bestest!"

"C'mon J we need to pack up our clothes and the tent. And don't forget the movies. Uncle Marcus hasn't gots any new ones." Stephen gave his brother a look.

The boy's room was a hodgepodge of decorations. Dinosaur decals were layered on the wall along one side of the room. Life size baseball players crowded the opposite side. Jamie had turned the closet doors into a white board for the boys to be creative. The doors were filled with shapes and colors, but I couldn't make heads or tails of what it all meant. The twin beds were such a mess you couldn't tell where one bed ended and the next started.

The boys and I packed up a few changes of clothes, PJs, swimsuits, and a bag full of toys. There was a minor battle when choosing which movies to bring, but when I said they could choose two each, problem solved. Finally, we got the tent and sleeping bags ready to go. Between them they had more packed for an overnight than Marcus and I would pack for a week. When we got everything piled into four large duffle bags, I looked up to see Marcus smiling at me.

"So, I see everything is under control here. I hope you are ready to get going. The bowling alley has bumper bowling for just two more hours so we better get moving. Stephen and Josh, go say good-bye to Mom and Dad while Uncle Tony and I get your stuff in the car."

"K, Uncle Marcus." "Hurry, we needs to get going to bowling and pizza." "Yeah, bowling!"

The boys practically ran their uncle over as they flew past him.

"Babe, you are so good with the boys, but I think you may have over packed a little..." His eyes twinkled.

"Actually, if they had their way, there would be at least two more bags." I burst out laughing and gave Marcus a kiss. "It's going to be a wild day."

"That it is... that it is."

We loaded up the duffle bags and the boys and then headed out to the bowling alley. The bumpers were set up in the outside lanes. Once we found bowling balls the boys could lift, we grabbed shoes and settled on the very last lane. The boys were as excited as I had ever seen them.

Marcus was so patient trying to show Stephen and Josh how to throw the ball the correct way. It was so cute to watch. He was going to make a great dad someday. However, all they really wanted to do was bounce the ball off the bumpers. Neither of the boys even cared about hitting the pins. After an hour or so, the novelty had definitely worn off.

"Time for pizza, boys. Are you hungry?"

"Yeah, Pizza!"

"What kind of pizza do you want?"

"Mommy always gets pep-roni and shrooms, but I hate shrooms." "yeah no shrooms, they're yucky."

"Okay boys, put your sneakers back on. Then give Uncle Tony the bowling shoes. Babe, I'll meet you at the table.

"Now, you guys stay here with Uncle Tony, I'll get pizza and drinks. Is lemonade good for everyone?"

"I want orange." "Grape!"

I jumped in. "Well I want lemonade, I think lemonade is the best. Thanks Uncle Marcus."

"Me too." "Me too"

Marcus gave me a wink. The pizza basically tasted like cardboard with cheese, but the boys were happy. By the end of lunch, Josh had dumped a piece in his lap, and Stephen was sauce from nose to chin. We got the boys cleaned up as much as possible and headed to the condo.

After the first change of clothes, the boys finally agreed on a movie. The plan was to have the boys nap for a little while and then take them to the park. Unfortunately, after watching the whole movie, the boys showed no signs of taking a nap.

"Uncle Tony, can we go to the park? I'm done with movies for now." Stephen looked at me with the same color blue eyes as his uncle. No way could I say no to those eyes.

"Okay boys, what are we going to do at the park? Should we bring your gloves and baseballs? Or do you want to play with the lacrosse sticks?"

"Both, Uncle Tony!" "Yeah both! We need the Frisbee too!" "Yeah, bring the Frisbee too!"

"Stephen and Joshua," Marcus got all stern. "What are the rules at the park?"

"Uncle Marcus, we know the rules. Why do we have to say them with you all the time?" Stephen gave his uncle a look. I wanted to burst out laughing, but I kept a straight face.

"Boys, we aren't going to the park until everyone can tell me the rules."

Stephen paused briefly, got a huge smile on his face... "Okay, Uncle Tony, you gots to know the rules too. Uncle Marcus said everyone. You gets to tell them to Uncle Marcus."

This time I burst out laughing. "Stephen Taylor, you are just too smart. But what if I make up new rules?"

"No, that's not fair." "Yeah, Uncle Tony, no fair."

"Okay, then you better tell the rules boys, before I make up some new ones." I gave Marcus a wink.

After Marcus was sure the boys knew he was serious, we loaded up the equipment and headed downstairs to the park. The weather had cooled off some, so swimming was out of the question. Hopefully, the rain would hold off long enough for us to play for a while. Without naps it didn't take long for the boys to get tired out and a little cranky. Eventually, Stephen tripped on a tree root and Josh got hit in the face by the Frisbee; we had two tearful little boys who were ready to call it an afternoon.

We walked back up to the condo. The boys changed into their third outfit of the day and were ready to watch some cartoons and snuggle.

"What do you boys want for supper?"

"Mac-a-merry cheese!" "And hotdogs, please!!" I gave Marcus a quizzical look.

"Okay, macaroni and cheese and hotdogs coming up. Boys, why don't you let Uncle Tony read you a story, while I make some food?"

"Read Harry Potter." "No Lemony Snicket."

Marcus started working on supper while the boys climbed on either side of me on the love seat. I started reading and in minutes they were both sound asleep.

"Babe, we can't let them sleep very long or we will never get them down tonight." Marcus whispered. "Give them about an hour at most. Can you extract yourself from them?"

"Yeah, they are pretty much unconscious." We moved into the kitchen to work on dinner.

"Thanks Babe, for hanging out with the boys today."

"I love the boys. So, at the risk of stirring up a hornet's nest... How many kids are we going to have?"

Marcus got a huge grin on his face. "Babe... Are you running instead of walking again?"

"Seriously, Hon. You are going to be a great dad. Have you thought about how many kids you want? I mean you're not getting any younger." I tried to keep a straight face, but burst into laughter almost immediately.

"I see the smart ass is back. I thought I left him at the park with the other squirrels."

"I know you've thought about it. You are just amazing with the boys, and they love you to pieces. I remember the first time I met them... Unka M... That was such a fun day."

"I almost forgot about that. We should take them back to the arcade tomorrow before they go home. Of course, I've thought about it. But we need to be a couple before we start thinking about kids. We still have a lot to learn about each other. We really haven't even had our first real fight yet... who knows maybe you'll decide there's someone better out there..."

"Marcus Lucas Taylor, you know better! You are stuck with me. So, unless you plan on throwing me to the curb... This is forever. I don't care if you think I'm running or not. I know what's in my heart. I love you. Period."

"Babe, I love you too. I know kids are definitely in our future, but let's take things as they happen. Enjoy each day and every minute, I know I'm spouting clichés but it's true. Help me finish up dinner." Marcus gave me a kiss and got back to work on supper.

I set the table and then checked on the boys. They were both still sleeping peacefully. "How much longer do we let the trouble makers sleep?"

"I think no more than fifteen minutes. Dinner will be ready just about that time. I made grilled chicken for us instead of hot dogs, unless you need a hot dog little boy?"

"Who are you calling little? Nothing little going on here... I'm just young and impressionable, old man."

"Now you are in trouble. I let the other comment pass without any repercussions... but that one you are going to pay for... trust me."

I burst out laughing, and ran into the bedroom. Marcus was right behind me and tackled me onto the bed. He started tickling me and then moved in for a kiss.

"Are you guys fighting, Uncle Marcus?"

"No Josh, we are just having a tickle war. Watch out I think I may get you next..." I got off the bed and started towards Josh. He started giggling and dropped to the floor. Before I knew it his brother was jumping on my back and trying to tickle me. The four of us rolled around for a few minutes, until I picked both boys up and carried them under my arms into the bathroom.

"Okay boys, time to get washed up for dinner. I think Uncle Marcus has everything ready to go."

"Yeah, mac-a-merry cheese!" "And hotdogs! Yummy!"

"Okay boys, settle down. What do you want on your hotdog? Ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, or mashed potatoes?"

"Mashed potatoes? That's just silly Uncle Marcus. I want ketchup!" Stephen giggled.

Josh laughed, "That's the silliest ever. Mashed taters... that's crazy. I want to see you eat mashed taters on a hotdog."

"Yeah Uncle Marcus, I want to see you eat mashed taters on a hot dog too." I egged the boys on.

"Okay, but if I do it everyone has to do it..." Marcus smiled and looked right at me.

"Yucky! No way am I eating that. What do you say boys? Should we give Uncle Marcus a pass on this one?"

"Yeah, that's yucky." "Yuckiest ever." They both laughed out loud.

"Just ketchup then..." He beamed at me.

After dinner, Marcus had the boys carry their plates and spoons into the kitchen. He showed them how to put them in the dishwasher and close the door. We settled into the living room.

"What's next, boys? Should we put the tent up? Do you want to watch a movie? What do you guys want to do?"

"I wanna play a game. Let's play Sorry!" Stephen jumped up and went looking in Marcus's cupboard for the game.

"I never played this game. You guys are going to have to help me."

"Really, Uncle Tony? It's kinda easy but watch out for Uncle Marcus, he's mean." Josh warned.

I started to chuckle, "How is Uncle Marcus mean in this game?"

Steven seemed all serious when he added, "Well, Uncle Tony, he likes to send you back to the beginning. He always gets the right number on the popper."

"Boys, now be fair. You are making Uncle Tony think I'm a monster. Somehow though, I never seem to win. One of you guys always beats me."

"Ha Ha, Uncle Marcus, you are mean and really bad at this game." Josh burst out laughing. "But we still love you."

"Yeah, Uncle Marcus, we still love you."

"Okay, let's see if we can kick Uncle Tony's butt. What color are you going to be?"

Two hours later, the boys had each won two games. It was too cute the way they kept ganging up on me, sending my pieces back to the start.

"I think it's time to set up the tent. You guys have completely kicked my butt. I must be the worst Sorry player ever."

"Yeah, Uncle Tony, but we were all pretty mean to you. I'm sorry." Josh patted me on the head.

"That's okay, I'll get you next time. Now how about that tent..."

"I know, we can set up the tent and then eat ice cream." "Yeah, we can eat ice cream in the tent."

After we got the boys changed into their PJs, I grabbed the Harry Potter book we started earlier. The three of us barely fit into the tent. It took about three chapters before both the boys were down for the count, I scooted out of the tent and joined Marcus in the living room.

"The boys are in dream land, hopefully until the morning. I think I'm going to be right behind them. I am wiped out, Hon."

"Babe, I think the boys will give us a good eight hours. What do you think about hitting the arcade after breakfast?"

"Sounds like fun, but tomorrow night I'm going to need a couple of hours to check out the school district's web site. Do you mind if we have a quick dinner so I can get focused. My guess is the school district needs to get the position filled right away. The new school year starts in about ten days."

"Absolutely, I'm sure I can whip up something quick. Babe, you are doing really well this weekend not stewing about things. I'm impressed."

"Who has time to stew with the boys around? It's actually been great having something else to think about. Seriously, this has been a really fun day. I have to admit being called Uncle Tony caught me by surprise. It's really sweet."

"I think that was Jamie and Sarah. The boys really took to you. I think it's awesome. The arcade should be fun tomorrow and then we can drop the boys at home in the afternoon. I know it's going to be a busy week at work for me, and then next weekend up to New Hampshire."

"Hon, if it's too much, we can always beg off going to my parents next weekend. I know it's a lot of travel time. I understand if you'd rather not go all the way out there."

"Of course we should go, plus next Monday is Labor Day. So we have the day to relax together or we can travel back that day. We just have that drag show fundraiser at six Monday night. Scott and Justin are going to be there at our table. And you know Danni will be the star attraction."

"I forgot about the show. That should be a hoot. Danni says she wants to try a new number and surprise everyone. I guess we need to enjoy any down time we can find this week."

"Let's call it a night. The boys will be raring to go first thing tomorrow."

After French toast for breakfast, the boys were ready for the arcade.

"Wow, Uncle Marcus, this is awesome. We didn't know we was going to the arcade. Yous guys are the best." Stephen was beaming.

"Yeah, the best." Josh jumped into my arms and gave me a huge hug.

The arcade was exactly how I remembered it. Between the flashing lights and the noise, it still made me feel like I was having a seizure. The boys were a lot better at the games and won tons more tickets as they went along.

After a couple of hours, Marcus and I were playing a quick game of air hockey, suddenly Josh was missing.

I panicked and started running around like crazy. Marcus grabbed my arm. "Babe, check the bathroom. I will check the food area."

I ran into the bathroom, yelling Josh's name.

"What's wrong Uncle Tony? I had to go bathroom."

"Josh, you scared the life out of me. I thought the rules said you needed an adult to go to the bathroom. Your uncle is out there looking everywhere for you. C'mon, we need to find Uncle Marcus right now."

Josh started crying. "I'm sorry, Uncle Tony. PPPlease doon'tt bee maaadd. I had to go really bad."

"Come here. I'm not mad but you scared us really bad." I wrapped him in my arms. "You need to say sorry to your Uncle Marcus. I'm so glad I found you. Do you understand why I got so upset buddy?"

"I'm sssorry. I had to go to the bbbathroom really bad. You guys were playing I didn't want to make you sssstop." He was hugging on for dear life. I ran out into the arcade to find Marcus.

"Marcus, I've got him!" I yelled out.

"Thank God. Josh, you..." I shook my head at him. Josh was shaking he was crying so hard.

"I'mmm sssoo sssoorryy Uncle Marcus. PPPPlease don't be mad. I had to go bbbathrroom really bad."

"it's okay, Josh. I'm not mad. You just scared us. Come here." Marcus took the sobbing little boy from me. "It's okay. I love you." Marcus started rubbing his back. I picked up Stephen and started walking towards the front of the arcade.

"Hey boys, what do you say we go cash in the tickets, and pick out something cool? Then Uncle Marcus can take us to get hamburgers."

"Okay, but are you going to tell Daddy I was bad Uncle Marcus?"

"Do you understand why Uncle Tony and I were so upset?"

"You didn't know where I was. You thought I was lost. I forgot, I had to go to the bathroom so bad. I'm sorry." He started sniffling and looked about ready to burst again.

"So long as you understand, I'll talk to Daddy. But you have to tell him what happened. I need you to promise you won't do that again, okay?"

"Okay Uncle Marcus. I'm sorry. I promise."

"Go with Uncle Tony to pick out a prize from your tickets. I'll be right back."

"Hold my hands boys, we can find something awesome this time. You won lots of tickets."

The boys each picked out a race car with their winnings. Just as we finished up, Marcus appeared.

"Okay, time for burgers and fries. Maybe we could get milk shakes too. What do you think?"

"I want a chocolate milkshake." "Strawberry!"

We loaded the boys into their booster seats in the back of the car after eating. Before getting into the front, Marcus let me know he already talked to Jamie. Jamie promised not to yell at Josh, but only if he confessed to what he did. We pulled into the driveway at Jamie and Sarah's, and got the boys out of the back. Jamie met us at the door.

"Daddy, I made a bad mistake at the arcade. I went to the bathroom alone. I'm sorry. I promise I won't do it again..." As he dissolved in tears, Josh grabbed his father's legs.

Jamie got down to look Josh in the eye, "Okay Josh. You understand that you scared your uncles, right?"

"Yes, Daddy."

"You're a big boy to tell me you made a mistake. I'm very proud of you for doing that. You guys go inside now and see your Mom. We will get your stuff out of the car.

"Marcus and Tony, thanks for taking care of the monsters. Sorry about the scare, and thanks for convincing me to let him confess. I think he knows he was wrong. I'm pretty sure he won't pull that stunt again. How was the weekend otherwise?"

"The boys were excellent all weekend. We had a great time. Really, Jamie, you have awesome kids. I love those boys to pieces." I started. "And having them call me Uncle Tony, that means a lot to me. Thanks."

"Tony, you are family now. The boys love you. Heck, we all love you; anyone who can make my big brother this happy is aces. Thanks again you two.

"Boys, come here and say thank you to your uncles."

"Thank you Uncle Marcus!" "Yeah, thanks Uncle Tony. We love you. You are the bestest."

"Bye boys, I had the best time this weekend. Next time I'm going to win at Sorry." I gave each of them a big hug. "Love you guys."

Marcus grabbed the monsters, "Boys, I will see you Wednesday morning next week. First grade! I'll be here to watch you get on the bus."

"Bye... "

Marcus and I headed home. It was time for me to get serious about the teaching position. I'd put it off all weekend, but I needed to knuckle down.

"Do you mind if I get started on the school web site right when we get home?"

"Of course not Babe, I'm just going to make something simple for supper. Plus I need to read a couple briefs tonight anyway. Take your time, I think tonight's going to be an early night."

We got home and both settled into work mode. "Hon, I think it's time we get the second desk for the office. I feel bad taking over this desk. Plus, I hate that you have to work in the other room."

"Sure, we can go shopping Tuesday night. But, it will be tough for me to concentrate with the hottest man I know working away in the same room."

"You are such a liar... But give me a kiss so I can get back to work."


The next morning I was reading when my cell started to ring.


"Hello, may I speak to Anthony Wallace please?"

"This is Anthony."

"Good Morning. I'm Katie Henry, the district administrative assistant for Dr. Ian Hunter. Dr. Hunter would like to meet with you to discuss the open teaching position you applied for this weekend. When would be convenient for you to come into the offices?"

"I am available any time. Would this afternoon be good?"

"Actually, three o'clock today would be ideal. Does that fit into your schedule? Dr. Hunter has been in contact with Dr. Jonathyn Miller and is looking forward to meeting with you."

"Perfect, I'm looking forward to meeting Dr. Hunter. I'll be there at three this afternoon."

"Wonderful, I'll let Dr. Hunter know. Thank you."

I hung up the phone and immediately started pacing. I called Marcus with the news.

"Babe, that's very exciting. Stop pacing and sit for a minute. We can get tested another day. So, don't even think about."

"How did you know I was pacing?"

"Of course you're pacing. Now take a deep breath. You are amazing and perfect for this job. Just remember that. Be yourself and you will win him over easily. Take a few minutes and think about some of the questions he will ask. Don't stew, just collect your thoughts. Call me before you get there. I love you. You will do great!"

"Marcus, I love you too. Thanks, I'm going to try to give Jon a call. I want to be sure I know what he told Dr. Hunter. I promise I'll call before the meeting. Talk to you soon."

Jon and I talked for only a few minutes, he had a quick break between classes. Apparently, he and Dr. Hunter had been friends for years.

"Tony, Ian is an intelligent man. Don't try to blow smoke. Just be yourself and you'll do fine. He and I discussed your background and qualifications. I told him you were the best master's student I've had the pleasure of advising. Don't worry."

"Thanks Jon. Your support means the world to me. I've very excited about the job. Hopefully there aren't many candidates for the position."

"Good Luck and don't worry. You will be great. Let me know how things go."

I was too nervous to eat lunch. I spent the afternoon researching the school district. I felt fairly confident about my knowledge professionally, I just wanted a better understanding of the district. Finally, I dressed in a suit and tie and headed out. The district offices were a quick twenty minute ride from the condo. I had given myself an extra ten minutes to get there, time enough to call Marcus.

"Marcus, I'm just a bit on edge. Wish me luck. What time are you out of work tonight?"

"Babe, listen to me. You are amazing. You are intelligent and perfect for the job. Be yourself. I have a meeting at five with a potential client. I'm not sure how late it will be. Call me when you get done. If I can't talk I will call you back as soon as I can. I love you. You don't need luck, you are amazing."

"Thanks, Hon. You do wonders for my ego. I will call when I get done."

At the interview, not only did I meet with Dr Hunter, but with the principals of all four schools. It was overwhelming at the start, but after a few minutes my confidence had improved greatly. I felt like I answered all their questions as well as I could; and had even explained how I hoped to also work with some of the students that could benefit from Dr. Miller's techniques. Three hours later, Dr. Hunter and I were the only ones left in the room.

"Anthony, you are quite an impressive young man. I'm sorry to have included all the building principals without letting you know ahead of time, but I wasn't sure I could arrange it this morning. I will be honest with you. No one else who applied for the position came close to your qualifications. Plus, when Jon called to tell me about you, his enthusiasm sold me. I've known Jon for a long time. He has never spoken about someone as highly as he did you. I hope you still want the position, because I would love to have you join our team."

I was momentarily stunned. Finally, I stuck out my hand, "I would be honored to accept your offer. Please call me Tony. I can't tell you how excited I am to be working in this district. I'm amazed at the culture you have created here in the short time you have been superintendant. Thank you very much for the opportunity."

"Welcome aboard then Tony. Could you come back to the offices here tomorrow to fill out the necessary paperwork? Afterwards, Katie, my administrative assistant, will take you to your office in the high school. I'm afraid, in the other buildings; you don't have a permanent space. You will interact with the students in rotating class rooms. But all that information will be shared with you tomorrow. I hope you don't have plans Thursday evening. I always have a "Get to Know You" dinner for any new staff. I hope you and your significant other can join my wife and I, and the other new teachers and staff.

"I would be happy to attend dinner. I'm not sure I will be able to bring any one." I hesitated.

"Tony, if I may be blunt. I have known Jon for years. I think based on the new programs in the district you can be sure that I foster an atmosphere of acceptance. You need to feel you can invite whomever you choose."

"I apologize Dr. Hunter. I will check with my boyfriend to see if he is available. I'm looking forward to learning about the schools tomorrow. Thank you again for the opportunity. Will I see you before Thursday?"

"I imagine so. I think I have a few other projects that might interest you. I hope we can meet later in the week to discuss some of my ideas. Until then, welcome aboard. Let Katie know on your way out, what time you can come in tomorrow and I will see you soon."

I got to my car and instantly called Marcus. His phone went to voicemail, so I left a message for him. Next I tried Jon, but his phone did the same. I was chomping at the bit to tell someone my news. I drove to the condo and made my way up to the door. After unlocking the door, I walked to end of hallway to turn on the lights.


Marcus stood beaming at me. Jon, Jen, Scott, Justin, and Danni all were standing under a huge congratulations banner. I was in shock.

"How did you...? What is this?"

Marcus pulled me into a hug. "Babe, Jon heard from Dr. Hunter during the interview. You blew them away. I knew you would do well, but you killed it!"

Jon moved over to the two of us. "Tony... Ian, Dr. Hunter, was very impressed. He felt bad to spring the building principals on you without notice, but you really did blow them away. So much so, he is planning on asking you to help on some projects in the district."

"He mentioned that when he offered me the job."

"Babe, you must be starving. We got takeout from Luigi's. Let's eat and you can tell us all about the interview."

We gathered around the table. Marcus had gotten all my favorites from the restaurant. It was so cool to be able to share this with everyone. Even Scott gave me a congratulatory hug.

"Careful Scott, someone might think you actually like me." I whispered in his ear.

"Well, buddy; maybe I owe you one for opening my eyes too. Just don't get all touchy feely on me." He whispered back grinning.

The night was amazing. I had almost all the people I really cared about to share my news. I planned on telling my parents about the job when Marcus and I travelled to New Hampshire. Eventually the party wound down and we were the only ones left.

"Hon, we are having dinner at Dr. Hunter's home on Thursday night."

"We?" Marcus gave me a look.

"He made it very clear to me that he wanted me to invite my significant other. I think he and Jon may have talked a little about me. I was a little overwhelmed and tried to beg off. But, he insisted. I'm so excited about working in this district. The culture that exists is amazing. Marcus this really is a dream job for me."

"Babe, I'm so thrilled for you. I will be sure to clear up my schedule for Thursday night. When are you going to tell your parents about the job?"

"I'm going to wait until the weekend I think. We keep springing news on them like this... But I'd like to find out more about things before Dad pounds me with one hundred questions. You know he will."

"Well frankly, all I know is they are going to be proud of you and happy as clams. Before I forget to say it, I am so very proud of you! Have I told you lately just how much I love you? I have the most incredible man in my life."

"Hon, you are so awesome. Thank you for throwing that party, you completely surprised me. It was sweet."

"By the way, did I happen to notice Scott giving you a hug? What did he say to you?"

I burst out laughing. "He warned me not to get all touchy feely with him. Damn, the world is going to be in trouble. Hell must have frozen over... We might actually become friends."

"Babe, you are too funny. I think it's time to call it a night. I think we have some private celebrating to do."



As always I have thank yous to share

To my husband Ray, for your love

To my editor David, thanks for not pooping out on me

To Fitz, just thanks