Serendipity - Version Alpha

by Lubrican

Chapters : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Epilogue

Chapter Nine

Some of you no doubt believe our relationship was doomed to failure, either because of the age difference, or because society would hound me for what some would consider molesting my niece, or maybe because you're convinced she would be seduced by some young stud. But the thing that worried me the most with our relationship was that her parents weren't aware of it. Oh, my sister knew her daughter liked me a lot. She might even have suspected Caitlin had a schoolgirl crush on her Uncle Bob. She didn't know my penis had plumbed her little girl's sex, long, deep and continuous. Nor did she have any idea that Kat wanted that relationship to continue for a lifetime. And, to be honest, neither Kat nor I were ready for my sister and her husband to find out about any of this.

That's one reason we didn't Skype constantly. Caitlin tried to behave like any other girl her age. She went out on dates, for example. She didn't torture me with this knowledge, thank goodness, nor the knowledge that she wasn't an ice queen while she explored what other guys were like to be with. She didn't let any of them fuck her, but she later confessed there were some pretty heavy make out sessions with a couple of the guys she liked a lot. Still, the vision she had of her future with me was stronger than her libido, which no doubt wanted to give in to getting laid herself.

And pursuing the normal things a girl does at that age kept her parents in the dark about us.

But my sister wasn't stupid, and when I suddenly pulled up stakes and moved to Lubbock, Texas, where her little girl had also just moved to go to school, she was going to start putting two and two together.

Caitlin's attitude was, "She'll get used to it sooner or later." Kat was one of those kids who, when she graduated high school, left home to make her own way and, in the process, left her parents behind. She didn't forget them, or disregard them, but if there was a conflict about which route to travel, she had faith in herself that she'd choose what was right for her.

In any event, the train continued down the tracks. All we could hope for was that nothing would derail it.

Ashley and Emma had their own after-high-school plans, though they never discussed them with me. Unconsciously I think we all knew that a lot of intimate pillow talk, and the sharing of their dreams and plans with me, would make what we did a lot more intimate than would have been good for any of us. I know that sounds silly. What could be more intimate than two naked people having great sex?

Well, I'll tell you. Falling in love can be a lot more intimate than just having sex. And when people share everything between themselves, they often fall in love.

So the two musketeers who lived in town with me made their plans, and went on dates and did all the things their friends were doing, which included talking to high school counselors about college, and applying to schools and so on and so forth.

And every once in a while, they came over to my house and fucked my socks off.

Several things happened that affected the relationship I had with Ashley and Emma. I wasn't aware of any of them at the time, though I should have intuited them. One was that Caitlin shared the fact with them that the train was picking up speed, concerning her own plans. Another was that, suddenly, there was only a month of school left before graduation. A third was that Emma and Ashley got acceptance letters to colleges.

In other words, their own trains sped up, and they could see that, up ahead, the tracks diverged, splitting into three sets. And it seemed inevitable that, sooner or later, those tracks would be out of sight of each other.

What happened was that, relatively suddenly, there was a lot of instability in their lives. Mine too, for that matter. And that led to a kind of low level of tension that humans don't like. We like predictability. And all this affected, I think, the move to Texas.

The logistics of it weren't the hard part. Not at all. I dealt with a realtor, who found me a great place to do a long term lease for. I chose to lease instead of buy, of course. I didn't have the same courage of convictions that Caitlin did. Her plan was to live in Texas forever, because that way she could marry me. I wasn't sure that would actually work out. We adults get jaded by life, and it saps our self will sometimes.

And planning the move wasn't difficult. The new place would be available to me before Caitlin even got there. The moving company was easy to work with, though to save money I chose to pack everything myself. Then they'd send a team to load all the boxes and furniture up and whisk it away to Texas.

No, the hard part was actually packing the boxes.

And it wasn't because I had a hard time deciding what to take and what not to.

The hard part was that I had 'help'.

That's because, after graduation, Ashley and Emma ran all over the place, doing the things all girls do before they go off to college in the fall, which includes spending time with friends, and shopping, cramming as much into their last few weeks with the world they know, before they have to immerse themselves in a totally new, unknown world that, at that time, seems scary and dangerous.

Sorry. I got distracted.

After graduation, Ashley and Emma went wherever they wanted and their parents stopped keeping quite such close tabs on them.

Which meant that part of all that cramming they were doing, included cramming my penis into their vaginas as much as they could, before it was taken away from them forever. Nobody pretended any more that the only reason for doing this was to keep me away from other women for Kat. Their relationship with me was unique, when it came to having relationships with men. I still don't understand why, but for some reason, the fact that they spread their thighs for me did not translate into them spreading their thighs for other men. They would later, of course, but before they went to college, I was the only man they had sex with. Like Kat, they went out with guys and made out with guys, but they did not play fast and loose with guys.

So when they came to "help" me pack every day, they inevitably got a little weepy about things and wanted to be consoled.

In bed, of course.

And I think things did go a little too far, in that last week before I got in the car and waved goodbye to two crying girls.

That's because the last night I was in town, when the girls spent that last night with me in my motel room, because my house was now empty, I learned they hadn't brought any condoms with them this time.

"We want you like Kat gets you ... just this once," said Ashley, as she calmly took her clothes off. They hadn't been there more than ten minutes at that time. Emma was already working on the buttons of her blouse too.

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" I asked.

"Neither of us is ovulating," said Emma, who was no longer the shy girl next door.

"I was thinking about Kat," I said.

"We did everything she asked us to," said Ashley. "We get this one thing, this one time. And she doesn't have to find out."

"All grown up and keeping secrets," I sighed. "Welcome to the adult world, ladies."

"But you'll do it ... right?" The hint of doubt in Ashley's voice notified me that there were still some insecurities in this young woman, and reminded me of how young she was. When you're having sex with a woman regularly, you tend not to concentrate on her age all that much.

"Once," I said, giving in to my own base, male urge to mate.

And, of course, that was about as stupid as anything I could have said, because they had brought no condoms, and there was no chance that both girls, as emotional as they were that night, would stop at "once."

I'll spare you the details, but for a couple of examples of what that night was like.

I believe it was her second time, sometime just after midnight, when Emma said, "It's a good thing Kat claimed you," thrusting her pussy up as I drove into her and ground against her clit. "If she hadn't, I'd have gone after you myself."

"No you wouldn't have," I said, watching with delight as her eyes rolled in their sockets. That meant she was beginning to cum. "You were too shy."

"Shut up!" she gasped. "Oh, Uncle Bob, I'm cumming. I'm going to just die without this."

And then she cried while she came, and went ape shit just like the first time we did this.

And that pulled the semen from my balls like a high pressure water pump tries to empty a swimming pool.

Ashley's response was less verbal and more physical. She talked less, but the things she said were just as driven.

The time I'll use as an example was the last time she pulled me on top of her. It was probably four in the morning, and we'd all been asleep for a while. But she woke up for whatever reason and woke me up for a specific reason. After just one orgasm, she locked her legs around me and whispered in my ear.

"Cum in me, Bob. You're going to leave in a few hours, and the only thing I'm going to have left of you is what you leave inside me right now. Cream me, Uncle Bob. Give me some of that yummy spunk in your balls."

Which is why, when I got up and got dressed the next morning, there were two naked, worn out girls still in the king bed, their pussies still weeping my thick, sperm-laced semen.

I was actually happy to be on the road, and not because I was heading for my own new life. I was worn out. I needed some alone time, to recuperate.

I had the new house set up when Kat parked the new (for her) car her step-dad had gotten her as a graduation present. She'd driven it all the way from California, driving more or less nonstop, as young people can often do. She had a lot of motivation, of course. There was school, which was new and exciting. But there was also me. I was old and exciting, I suppose.

She came to my house first. She didn't knock, which is why I was so glad she got the right address. It might have been a bit awkward had she barged in some stranger's house, pulling her T shirt up and off her body to expose bare breasts.

But it was the right house and, by the time she called out for me and I got there, she was in the process of pushing her shorts down over smooth hips that had somehow widened as her waist narrowed, since I saw her last.

"I need a shower!" she gasped. "I've been driving for the last ..." She checked her watch, which was the only thing she was wearing. "Seventeen hours," she said. She was talking fast, like people do when they're on speed, and I wondered if she'd found somebody to sell her a little help for the drive. Then she crushed her naked body against me. "But I want you in bed," she moaned. "But I must stink, so I need a shower first!"

I disengaged and gave her an almost chaste peck on the lips.

"You go take a shower and I'll get your suitcase out of the car," I said, gently. "There's plenty of time for getting frisky later."

"But it's been so long!" she whined. "And I want you right now! It's so good to see you, to finally be here. I almost can't stand it."

"Patience, patience," I said. "Where is the suitcase?"

"Which suitcase?" she asked.

"The one with your clothes in it," I prompted.

"There are four of them," she said. "I don't know which one to have you get. I wasn't thinking about clothes. I was thinking about bed!"

"Go take a shower. I'll go bring them all in. We can take them back later."

"One of them is for here," she said, suddenly no longer manic. "It has the clothes in it I'm going to leave here."

"I see," I said.

"I can't believe I'm finally here," she sighed. "Oh, Uncle Bob, I'm so horny." Her hand went to stroke her clit.

"Shower!" I barked, just to get her moving.

When I got back in with the last two suitcases, one of which had been buried under a clothes hamper full of books and about six boxes crammed with all the other indispensables a girl has to take to college with her, I stuck my head in the bathroom. I heard the shower going and humming.

So I got naked and joined her.

I suppose you could say the first socially acceptable time I slid my prick into Caitlin's hot sheath, was that day in Texas. At least it was socially acceptable in Texas.

Those college years were rough in some ways, and glorious in others. Her parents did, in fact, figure things out pretty quickly. But by the time my sister actually got on a plane to go visit her daughter at college, she'd had some long distance conversations with Kat, and had figured out, as parents are wont to do, that she could talk herself blue in the face and it wouldn't make any difference to her offspring. There had only been one phone call to me, where the term "bastard" was tossed around freely, but by the time she got there she'd calmed down a little bit. She wasn't calm, by any stretch of the imagination, but she wasn't raging at me either. I think it helped that Kat picked her up at the airport and they spent several hours together, talking.

Kat wanted to stay when she dropped her mother off at my house, but Hannah was having none of that.

"Go away," she said, to Catlin, steel in her voice.

"Promise me you won't fight," she said, looking first at her mother and then at me.

"Go away!" growled Hannah. "I have things to discuss with my brother. You may be able to wind him around your little finger, but not me. Go away and let us talk."

"Promise me!" said Caitlin, stubbornly.

"I promise you your father will fly down here himself, and take you back to California if I don't call him within about ..." She paused to look at her watch, and I was reminded of that day Kat had arrived and looked at her watch, exactly the same way. "About an hour," she went on.

"He can't do that!" yelled Caitlin. "I'm an adult!"

"Then start acting like one and leave, so Bob and I can talk and maybe I can call your father and tell him everything is all right."

"Mommy," wailed the grown up college girl in the room. "Don't ruin this for us."

Hannah simply looked at her watch again. "You can come back in an hour. Or I can call him right now and tell him I don't think things are going to work out. Take your pick."

I winced. I knew Hannah could be hard hearted. I'd grown up with her and seen her cow the school bully one time, in front of a crowd. But I'd never seen her use that steel with her daughter.

Caitlin caved, holding up both hands, palms toward her mother. "I'm going. I'm going. Just remember what I told you, okay?"

"I'll remember," said Hannah. "Now go! There's less than an hour left before I have to call your father."

Caitlin scooted, closing the door firmly behind her. Neither of us would know until later that she sat down on the steps and stayed there the whole time her mother and I talked.

And talk is all we did. By then Hannah already knew she couldn't change Caitlin's mind, and she was smart enough to know that if she changed mine, her daughter would never forgive her. Still, that didn't mean she was happy about things.

"Bastard," was her opening to me.

I didn't say anything, because I could think of nothing to say.

She looked around. "Nice place," she said. "How you been?" Her voice was casual, and held no heat in it.

"I wish I could explain," I said.

"I just bet you do," she said. "You got anything to eat? I'm starving. You know what they want for a sandwich on an airplane these days?"

I was off balance. Her first comment had been expected. But now she was acting like she'd just dropped by for a routine visit.

"A lot?" I said.

"A fucking king's ransom," she said. "Where's the kitchen? Through there? This really is a nice place, Bob. You've always had good taste when it came to houses."

"I'm an architect," I said.

"Yes, which is why my daughter wants to become an architect. Or at least that's what we thought. And we figured that you had something to do with that. But we had no idea that she came to Texas so she could marry my fucking brother!"

She stopped and there were half a dozen visual cues that she was trying to control her emotions.

"Please," she said. "I really am starving. You need to feed me. It's the least you can do."

"Of course," I said. Then, without thinking about it, I added, "It's really good to see you."

She gave me a long, slow look. Her face was unreadable.

"I'm told my daughter and I could be twins," she said. "I'm not sure I'm happy that you're glad to see me."

It was a rocky conversation. I'll just leave it at that. But it wasn't an angry one. She was already adapting to the situation, though she was really wound up about having, some day, to introduce me as her brother ... or son-in-law ... or both. But she knew she couldn't alter Caitlin's plans. The alternative was to cut us off from inclusion in the family, and she couldn't do that to her only daughter. Plus, I think she was a little stunned that Caitlin had actually been planning all this for years, and constantly doing things to move toward the fulfillment of those plans.

Not that Kat had planned to marry her Uncle for years. It was much more subtle than that. But her desire to come back to my house for a month each summer had more to do with being around me than seeing her two, distant best friends, that she only got to see once a year. In those early years, when she was thirteen, fourteen and fifteen, her attraction to me was a mixture of her conscious recognition that I was a man she liked and trusted, and the unconscious desires nature built into her to explore things sexual. That she eventually decided to do that exploration with a man she liked and trusted wasn't so odd. The fantasies she and the other two musketeers shared were added into the mix and presto, her dream of finding a man she liked and trusted, and who turned her on, and who she might even be able to stay with ... were eventually made real.

She just chose an unconventional man to do it all with.

And she had explained all this to her mother, face to face, which was really the best way, since seventy percent of all communication is non-verbal.

So Hannah was already moving from the combative stance she'd left California in, and was slowly moving toward acceptance of a sort. She's always been a big believer in the Serenity Prayer.

But I don't think Caitlin, when she came back through that door at the stroke of five o'clock, expected to see her mother and me sitting at the kitchen table, talking quietly. There were two empty beer bottles apiece on the table between us, and we were nursing our third. The plate I'd heated up lasagna on for Hannah was still on the table too.

"Did you call him, yet?" asked Caitlin as she entered the room.

"Call who?" asked Hannah, turning her head.

"Daddy!" moaned Caitlin.

"Oh," said Hannah. "That. No. I was lying about that. He's not expecting me to call. He says my whole side of the family is insane, which is the reason he divorced me. Which is a crock, because the reason he divorced me is because Tammy is half my age. And your step-father already said he's staying out of this. He's not expecting a call. At least not on any timetable."

"Mom!" wailed my lover.

"Well? You wouldn't leave. What else was I supposed to do?"

The rest of Hannah's visit was a mixture of calm, warm catching up on things, and talking about Caitlin, and me, and us. Hannah and I had always had the capability to spend years apart, and then act like it had only been a day or two, catching up easily and enjoying being able to see each other again.

There were times when it was awkward, though. She stayed for a week, with me of course, which meant that things were a bit odd for Kat when she came over. Kat was strong willed, but she wasn't ready to flaunt the fact that she sometimes slept over in my bedroom. She was living in the dorm her first year. Part of that was because she'd had to pretend I wouldn't be there. Plus she thought it would be a valuable social experience. And her fees were non-refundable, unless she had to leave school through no fault of her own.

So she was at the house most evenings, spending time with her mother and I. But she couldn't do the things she normally did when she was at my house in the evening. Except study, of course. She did a lot of that. But I think it was just an attempt to impress her mother.

In any case, when Hannah left, she gave me a hug, and whispered "You'd better be good to her, you bastard," and things got back to what were passing for normal.

In her second year of college she started living with me. Because she didn't want to use birth control, we got married. Her mother and step-father flew out for the small, quiet ceremony. Her biological father wasn't there, but she didn't consider that much of a loss because she'd always believed he was a jerk, and that her mother was better off without him. Of course Ashley and Emma showed up and, ignoring me except for quick hugs and very proper kisses on the cheek, whisked her away to prepare her for the ceremony. It was beautiful. They were beautiful.

Afterwards, Ashley said, "You hear all the time about guys getting to kiss the bride. So do we get to kiss the groom?"

Emma said, "Of course," and promptly took me in an embrace and gave me a kiss that had my sister's jaw dropping. When I got the same thing from Ashley, I think she might have put two and two together again. I saw her look at her daughter, who was beaming as her friends molested me. She saw me looking at her and mouthed, "Have you no shame?" at me, but that was all that happened.

Caitlin didn't get pregnant until she was a junior, which was pretty astonishing, considering that we used no birth control whatsoever. Well, at least I didn't. There were times when she was insatiable, and that might have had something to do with her cycle. I don't know. We were like most married couples. There were times when we were amorous, and times when other things took our concentration.

The baby was born in June, which gave her time to be a mommy full time, and breast feed and all that before she had to go back and complete her degree. I learned a lot of things that summer. I learned that babies are a ton of work. I learned that sleep is a precious commodity when there's a baby in the house. But I also learned there is nothing more satisfying than having your son fall asleep on your chest, and relax so completely in the safe embrace of his father.

Oh yes ... I also learned that breast milk is sweet.

Making love was different that summer too. The first time we made love after Stephen was born, it was pretty intense. We had avoided the usual sexual play we indulged in, to avoid getting all fired up and not being able to do much about it. And that included satisfying me, because when she put her mouth on me, it got her excited too.

So I had gone back to masturbation for six weeks, and when we finally got naked together again, it was really the first time I'd had a chance to see what birthing a baby had done to her. I'd seen her feeding Stephen, of course, but those fairly brief glimpses of her nipples hadn't been enough to prepare me for what they had become. Her breasts were larger, of course, which made her look out of proportion. Her abdomen had bounced back. She was active and went to the university gym on a regular basis. So the extra swell in her hips seemed more pronounced as they rose up and down as she approached me, naked.

"You're in big trouble," she purred.

"Why?" I asked, drinking her in.

"Because it's going to take a lot to make me satisfied," she said.

"Good thing I have a lot," I quipped.

She wanted to be on top, because she knew she could cum two or three times before I got excited enough to lose control that way. When she settled down onto my spike with a happy sigh, I stared at those swollen breasts. Her nipples had morphed from stiff, pencil eraser sized pebbles, to fat, swollen protrusions from her breast flesh that were maroon in color. They were huge. I reached to fondle her extra big breasts and, feeling like a school boy who gets his first feel of breast flesh, said, "You have big boobies!"

I pinched the nipples gently and she stopped, impaled on my prick.

"Uh oh," she said.

"What?" I asked. I moved my fingers away from her swollen nubs. "Did I hurt you?"

"No," she said. "But you're about to get wet."


"Because my milk is letting down, and I'm not planning on moving any time soon."

I watched, fascinated as big, fat drops of white dotted the surface of both nipples and then, suddenly thin streams of that white shot off in all directions. It was like two little fire suppression sprinklers, except there wasn't enough to put out much of a fire.

That's when I learned that breast milk is sweet. She simply leaned over to let all that milk go in my mouth, while she rubbed her clitty on the base of my cock and had a couple of orgasms.

And then, just as I was about to blow ... Stephen woke up and started crying.

Later that night, while she was feeding Stephen, she had me stand in front of them and she sucked me to a screaming orgasm.

If you think having a baby won't change your sex life, then you're wrong. That last example of how things changed wasn't the end of it.

What happened, basically, is that we had to compartmentalize our satisfaction. Gone were the days when we could spend an hour or two making leisurely love, with her cumming a number of times and then me fertilizing her. Now, when we got together, it was either for her to cum, or for me to. Rarely did we both get to have orgasms at the same time. If she was horny, which was impossible for me to miss, we'd hurriedly couple until she had an orgasm. By then Stephen would need something, or she'd have to go to class or whatever. Then there were the times when she'd see I was frazzled, and say something like, "Daddy needs to relax. Mommy knows how to make that happen." Then there would be another quick coupling, while she urged me to make a little sister for Stephen, and I'd blow my brains through my dick. Or she'd give me one of her signature blow jobs and suck me dry.

But there was a lot less sex than there had been in the past, during our pre-baby days.

Which might explain why Stephen was two years old, and she'd completed her degree and we were working together on projects, before her belly swelled again and Miranda came along with the promise of spicing up our lives even more.

But that wasn't the half of it.

When Kat was about six months pregnant with Miranda, more tumult came into our lives. The doorbell rang. Kat was resting on the couch, so I told her I'd get it. Stephen tried to beat me to it, but he wasn't tall enough to reach the door handle.

We opened it together.

To find Ashley and Emma standing there, grinning like they'd just won the Power Ball.

We were all sitting around in the living room. Stephen was already in love with his two new "aunts". He couldn't say Ashley, but did manage "Ash", which was fine with her. And "Em" sounded normal on his lips too.

We had been talking about their trip to get to Lubbock, and that sort of thing, when my wife finally got around to what she knew was the purpose of their visit. I did not know why they were there. At least not beyond just seeing old friends. But my wife did. Because they were still involved in machinations.

"So ... tell him!" she yipped.

"Tell me what?" I asked. Emma spoke first.

"I got my degree in interior design," she said.

"Yeah," I said. I'd been aware of that. At the wedding I'd learned she had gone to school in Ohio, and that Ashley had decided on a Missouri college. Kat had stayed in contact with them, but I got very little news about that.

"And I got mine in plant and soil sciences," said Ashley.

"Interesting," I said.

My wife spoke next. "We were thinking that their fields of study, and ours, could be melded together to form a company where there would be one stop shopping, more or less. We can design the structure. Ashley can do the landscape plan, and Em can do the interior design."

I blinked. I had a sneaking feeling this had been in the works for a while. Still, it wasn't a horrible idea.

Except for the fact that, when I saw the girls, and how they had grown into the mature beauty that makes men look not twice, but three or four times, my prick had remembered my last months with them.

And that part wasn't such a good idea at all.

"There's something else," said Ashley.

"What?" I asked. For some reason I looked at Kat, instead of Ashley. My wife was biting her lower lip. She looked nervous.

"My grandma passed on while I was in college," said Ashley.

"I'm sorry," I said.

"She had cancer and was in a lot of pain at the end," said Ashley. "If it had been up to her, she'd have ended it sooner."

"It's still sad she's gone," I said.

"Yeah. But she left me some money." She frowned. "A lot of money, actually."


"Enough that if you design a house for us, I can fund it," she said.

"For us?"

"All of us. You and Kat ... Em ... and me."

I stood, paralyzed. My eyes moved to Kat. She looked composed, but maybe that's because Stephen was getting a hug from her at the moment. Maybe he felt the tension in the room.

"What does that mean?" I finally croaked.

"I went out with dozens of guys in college," said Ashley. "Never for long, though, because every time I was with one I compared him to you. Kat's not the only one who fell in love with you, as it turned out."

"Me too," piped Emma.

"But you weren't supposed to fall in love with me," I said. "It was a rule. Remember?"

I turned to Kat, who nodded, and then blew me away by saying, "You can't choose who you fall in love with. Sometimes it just happens."

"But we're married!" I moaned.

"I don't want to marry you," said Ashley. "Not officially, anyway. But I do want you in my life. And I need a place to live."

"Me too," said Emma.

"Plus I'm pregnant," said Ashley, softly.

"What?" asked Caitlin and Emma at the same time. Finally, somebody else in the room was astonished.

"I let Kevin do it one too many times," she sighed. "He came to my graduation and we went out to party afterwards. I might have gotten a little drunk."

Emma spoke. "Well I'm all those other things, but I'm not pregnant."

"You will be if you live with us," I said. I don't know where it came from, and I didn't consciously plan to say it, but there it was, hanging out there in the room. I looked at Kat, who stared back at me, unblinking.

She did not look irate.

"That wouldn't be the end of the world," said Emma. I was glad I was sitting down, because my knees wouldn't have held me up.

"This is crazy," I said. "Nobody lives this way."

"The Mormons do," said Emma, brightly.

"Do I look Mormon?" I asked.

Emma was always very literal. "No. Actually, I don't know what a Mormon looks like. But that doesn't matter. I miss Kat. And I miss you too. Is that such a horrible thing? It's okay with Caitlin, after all."

"It is?" My voice sounded like I was about twelve, and it was in the middle of changing from soprano to bass. I looked at Caitlin again. The tension had Stephen glued to her with his face buried in her bosom.

She took half a minute to answer, but when she did, her voice was level, almost normal.

"I understand how they feel," she said.

I looked at Ashley. She shrugged.

"I'm already knocked up. What's the harm?"

"This is crazy," I said. "You're all crazy."

"Why?" asked Ashley. "Back in the day we all dreamed about you being our man. It was okay then. And it's not like Kat never shared you with us before this. We're not asking for a lot. We just want to be around you two, and work together, and maybe play together sometimes. I don't think that sounds crazy at all."

"Why don't you two go freshen up," suggested Caitlin. "Give him some time to think about things. Are you hungry? I can whip up something in the kitchen. Or we can go out."

"I've had enough of restaurant food to last me a while," said Ashley. "We can whip something up together, like in the old days."

"I was thinking of something more substantial than chocolate chip cookies," laughed Caitlin.

"Cookies!" yipped Stephen. "Can I have some?"

My wife leaned down to kiss the top of his head. "We'll make some especially for you."

Then I was left alone with my thoughts.

Now that I've had time to reflect on things, I actually think it was the thing about "We'll make some cookies just for you" that convinced me Caitlin really did approve of this crazy scheme that Emma ... or Ashley ... or all of them, had come up with. I wasn't to find out for two more years that this had been the plan all along, hatched by three teenaged musketeers who had decided that, no matter what, it was one for all and all for one. Then they had proceeded to endure the things that had to be endured so that their insane plan could come to fruition.

Anyway, something about that conversation seeped into my bones, and by the time the meal was ready, and we all sat down at the table to share that meal, I think I had adjusted somewhat. I wasn't thinking about the hurdles to making such a complex relationship work in the long term. I was just thinking about the parts that seemed like they'd work.

The girls didn't chatter like I expected them to. They'd been doing that in the kitchen, but not now.

"I think the idea of working together is a really good one," I said, breaking the silence.

"What about the rest of it?" asked Ashley.

I was thinking about how this had not been a surprise to my wife. And yet she had never polled me to see how I might feel about such an arrangement. Maybe that made me want to mess with them a little.

"I can design a house that incorporates separate residences, with private entrances. There could be workshops and office areas built, in a sort of common area, assuming we could find the right location, zoned in the way needed."

"Separate residences," said Emma, softly.

"Surely there may come a time when you wish to entertain a friend," I paused for effect and then went on, "or friends ... privately."

"Actually, he's right," said Ashley. "We should have our own personal space."

"We should?" Emma frowned.

"Do you want us ... and all the kids ... right there with you during your own personal time with him?"

Emma blinked. "Oh!" she said. "No. You're right, of course."

"We're not going to be married to him, like Kat is," said Ashley. "We're just good friends, not extra wives, like those Mormons have."

"Exactly," said Emma. "Okay, I get it now. Great. But that's going to be awfully big, isn't it?

"Yes," said Ashley. "But I have the money."

I looked at Caitlin.

"Do we need to talk about this in private?" I asked.

She reached to put her hand on mine.

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