Author's Notes:

I want to thank my Readers. You guys are the best. Okay, these characters are not meant to resemble any living or dead persons. I make no apology to anyone who is offended by anything in this story. If you do not agree with the idea of guys being in love, then find something else to read. Let me know what you think of the story by emailing me at

_Hnstskr4@aol.com_

Copyright 2008-2018 by Chuck B

Well readers, this chapter ends The Journey Begins. I will no longer post chapters for this story, so if you love this story feel free to check out my other stories. Don't worry though, from time to time, Eric and Steve will pop up in other stories just like Seth and Mason have and will. It will feel weird not to write their lives anymore. I am going to be starting a new story the title right now is "A New Life". Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for reading. It's been a long road.

And Now, you're story:

 

The Journey Begins

Chapter 33

Where Do We Go From Here?

( Steve is telling this chapter by the way. )

 

Three months ago, Eric and I graduated from high school, and we are now in our first semester of college. I know Eric and I have been dreading the start of college because of what it might have meant for our relationship. Our time in college comes with some heartache. Our majors are Kinesiology ( for me ) and Biology Secondary Education ( for Eric). We thought we had it all planned out so we could spend time together, but our classes and labs have kept us pretty busy. Things got better with time, but for the first year things were chaotic. Between his classes and lab, Eric is constantly busy especially when you throw in homework and reading and then throw in my classes and my labs and it really got crazy. We had our time a part from one another, but we also had good times in college. We made occasions so we could be together. Our dates even though they were more planned in advance, allowed us to stay sane. We made it a point to at least speak every day no matter was happening. There was still time for friends and fun. College presented us with opportunities galore. From each opportunity, we came away smarter and with better connections. Eric had opportunities to volunteer at a local rescue for exotic pets, and I volunteered my time at the child's hospital in Chicago. Eric has always been smart. For me, it's been amazing and inspiring to watch him grow. My personal growth has been fantastic too. I've also had a couple of local opportunities that at a later date will be very important to our lives. I don't regret doing them despite the times that they stopped our chances for a love life for a brief time. We went to school locally so we didn't have to stay in the dorms. Sometimes, it would have been nice to have lived in the dorms, but whatever. Graduation for both Eric and me was amazing. If you ask my babe, it was the best four years of our lives and he was right, sadly, neither of one us was finished with school. We went straight into our masters program ( For Eric his degree is in Secondary degree and for me it's in physical theraphy ). In the end, our college years led directly into our careers. Oh, I almost forgot by the end of our 3rd year in our undergrad years, Sarah had baby number two. Eric and I are uncles to another little boy, Evan Michael Perez. He is going to be lady killer when he gets older. When we graduated for good, Eric and I celebrated by taking a trip to Canada. We spent eight years in total in college, and we are glad it's over for good.

***

Believe it or not, three months after we graduated from our graduate program Eric surprised the hell out of me. It all went down at a friend's beach house on Lake Michigan's shoreline just as the sun was getting ready to set. It was a clear evening. Eric told me that the house and the beach were ours for the entire night. He laid down a beach blanket and we cuddled as we watched the sun go down. After cuddling for a bit, he grabbed some firewood and built a nice fire to provide some light for us. I noticed that Eric became very nervous. He kept eyeing the house as if he was waiting for someone to walk out of the house. Out of nowhere he kisses me, you know the kind of kiss that makes your toes curl. After our kiss, we stood up and he became even more nervous as he stared right into my eyes.

"Steven, you have been my secret crush, my boyfriend, and my hero. I survived some dark times but since we've been together, you've never left my side. Even when I gave you every opportunity for you to run away, you didn't. You stayed by my side at a distant, and then you rescued me. I have been nervous, scared, and depressed but you have been my rock. I don't want to lose you."

Right then and there, he dropped to one knee and I immediately started to cry happy tears. I was so distracted by his proposal that I didn't hear or see a crowd of friends quietly leaving the house and making their way onto the beach. I watched as Eric removed a box from his right pocket. He raised it up to his chest and then opened it. He looked into my eyes.

"Steven will you be my husband?"

He had to have known that I would say yes, but he still looked nervous, and I knew a part of him was worried that I might answer negatively.

"Yes, yes of course, I'll be your husband."

The second I said yes, there were a ton of flashes going on from all around us. We were surrounded by friends and family all here to celebrate our engagement. If you asked me how I felt at the time, I would have told you that I was speechless. He caught me offguard and it felt great. The evening was perfect. Don't worry we had cuddling on the beach beside the fire after everyone left for the night.

***

Two years later something magical happened that changed our lives forever, we go married. We were able to get married at the Chicago Botantical Gardens like we wanted too. It was a bright, sunny day in the early summer. I have to be honest about something to do the next part, I had to steal away our vows from our memory book. Yes, we kept them don't judge. Eric's vows are first:

"We met for the first time during our junior year of high school. Thanks to a teacher who helped us get together, but that first year was full of struggles for me, and through them all you were there to support me. Even when I almost destroyed us, you held strong when I was at my weakest. You saved my life that day, and I never looked back. All through college, I dreamed of this day, and wrote my vows hundreds of times at least, but no matter how often I wrote them, the one thing that remained constant was and is my love for you. I want to live each day with you by my side. I loved then, and I love you even more today. Forever and always, I love you."

Here are my vows.

"We had struggles that first year and I think because of those struggles, that we are stronger. As far as saving your life goes, I did what I had to do if I was going to have you in my life. Somehow, I knew even then, that I would marry you, and I knew for sure after our senior trip. There was one night when you were at your lowest that I wanted to hang on to you and never let go of you, because I became aware of just how much I needed you by my side. I promise to never let go of you, no matter what is happening in our lives, I will always be here."

We managed to hold it together until through our vows. We each had our hand-picked people to be a part of our wedding. Jason served as my best man the rest of my party included Mason, Ryan, and Blake. Eric picked Shaun as his best man and his part of the wedding party included Seth, Riley, and Cody. Our moms' were in tears and our dads' seemed to be crying too. I couldn't have asked for a more amazing night then to be married to Eric Hill-Keiser.

***

Our honeymoon was romantic and warm. We went to Hawaii and had a blast visiting the island. Our honeymoon lasted one week but it was enough. We had another reason to come back Indiana. Seth and Mason got married three days after we came home. We were in the wedding party so we had to come back for it. It was amazing to be a part of this major life event with our friends. Eric and I danced the night away.

***

Three years after getting married, we started the foster care process, and within six months we found ourselves caring for three kids; three brothers. They're Samuel age 6, Issac, age 4 and Adam age 3. It was huge adjustment for all of us in the house. The boys were scared and nervous at first but once they realized that, we loved them and wanted them in our family, they relaxed. They also had to adjust to having two dads instead of a mom and dad. For us, the biggest change was not having "us" time, but we made it work and figured it all out. Our parents love the kids and the spoiling commenced the minute they met the kids. I have to admit when Adam called Eric "dad" for the first time; we cried happy tears for sure. A few months later, we sat them and asked if they wanted us to be their dads forever and they said yes. When we stood in court, the boys were so happy and of course, as their daddies, we were so excited. After we became a family officially; we went to a buffet with our families and celebrated with everyone.

***

Our household was not the only one getting kids. Jason and Shaun were planning an adopting as well, and they were incredibly lucky. They adopted a great little guy. Jason and Shaun allow us to be uncles to him. Our kids gladly accepted their new cousin right away. Life suddenly feels so much fuller right now.

***

Six months after Jason and Shaun's adoption, we got horrible news. Eric was taking a warm shower and soaping up his testicles when he felt something weird. The something weird was a lump. He immediately got on the phone with our doctor and was able to get in the next day. I arranged for someone to watch our two youngest since our oldest is now in school. The appointment went just as we feared. Our doctor is sure that the lump is cancer but he ordered an ultrasound and a blood test to check for tumor markers. We made arrangements to get the tests done as quickly as possible. Flash forward and all the tests came back positive for testicular cancer. At the time, I was afraid that with everything that we went through in high school and college, that I might lose Eric. Eric is scared too, I know he is scared just not for himself but for our three kids and me. Eric ended up having a radical inguinal orchietomy on the right testicle, in other words, he got his right testicle removed. A follow up examine showed that he was clear of cancer. I've never been more afraid of losing Eric, as I did when we were battling cancer. He survived cancer; we survived cancer.

***

Eric's cancer served as a reminder that life is too short, so we did something utterly crazy. We added a twenty week old baby boy into the family. Eli's adoption was finalized on the one year anniversary of Eric's all clear. Eli has been the best baby and once he was on a set schedule, things improved. Our family finally felt complete. One set of our friends; had their family completed as well. Seth and Mason had twins through a surrogate; a friend of theirs who agreed to do it. Our kids love having cousins.

***

We were out with our parents when someone did the unthinkable and verbally attacked my family. Apparrently, it was someone that Eric's dad knew. Dad was very blunt and made it very clear that these kids are his grandkid, and that we are his sons, and if there are anymore comments like that it would impact their friendship. The confrontation left a bad taste in our mouths, but we didn't let it ruin our day. At home, we talked to our kids about the hate we faced while we were out, and left it open so they could come to us and talk to us. Eric is good at getting the subject matter down to their level. I've found the one thing that we're good at is making time for our kids especially in moments like this one; where they maybe scared.

***

Parenting is rough but Eric and I decided to make some decisions early on in our kids' lives. They have to do homework before they can play with friends, watch television, play video games, or do anything outside. We decided to live by Eric's church's code of health. It means no cigarettes, no drugs, and zero alchohol in the house, not a big deal because we don't smoke, drink or do drugs. We want our kids to be accepting of others and its something we talk about with our kids and we put it into action in our lives as well. I'm hoping our mix of friends helps our ki9ds see that everyone has worth. We want them to respect other people. We will support our kids in any sensible talent or activity. There maybe times when we can't go to games, band concerts, or choir concerts, but one of us will be there. It's important that they know that we support them. We want them to know that they can always come to us with anything. We don't plan on spoiling our kids but they'll have all of their needs met. Another thing we want to do is give the kids individual daddy or dad time each week.

***

Something that, we have to discuss with the kids quite frequently is that our family is different. Sure, there are more and more families like our family, but we are different. We tell our kids that our family is special, and that we are normal. Our kids know that Dad and Daddy love them. We remind them constantly that we love them, and we show them too. They left to wonder if we love them or not.

***

Our family has it's struggles like any family but we are all okay. Eric and I have jobs and the kids are great. We have family and friends that love us and support us. Our friends are awesome and will be here at the drop of a dime if the need arises. Time is hopefully on our side. Things can happen at the drop of a dime, and all we can do is hope for the best. I hope that we adjust to whatever life sends our way. I've learned that we can handle whatever life throws our way.

***

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