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Author’s Note.

Once again, I extend my gratitude to neuroparenthetical for his unceasing dedication to untangling the unintelligible for your consumption.

My need to tweak and twiddle, as always, may impinge on the work that he does. Therefore, any errors in continuity, grammar, or syntax are mine.

As always, please remember to rate and comment.


P.S. It is my goal to get to at least the end of this section without needing any corrections. I wonder, did I succeed?
Caleb 25 – Ness

The jet sat looking sleek and impressive on the apron at the local airstrip.

I didn’t really know anything about private jets, but I’d at least heard the name ‘Gulfstream.’ The G500 emblazoned on the tail of the Steadmans’ gave me a likely model number, but beyond that, I was in the dark. Jules had said that it cost more than fifty thousand a month just to run. Those kinds of numbers were staggering to me. Not for the first time, I wondered just how rich the Steadman family was.

We unloaded all our bags from the Uber, intent on helping Gerry carry them through the main cabin into the baggage compartment at the rear of the plane. He didn’t put up much of a fuss; it was nice to know Dean didn’t hire overly servile employees. When we stepped into the cabin, it was like walking into a luxurious living room. There were cream leather seats and dark wooden tables. The carpet was so deep our feet sank into it.

Gerry closed the door. “Get yourselves settled in,” he said. “It’s only a short hop - about ninety minutes - so make yourselves comfortable. We’re only going to be climbing to about fifteen thousand feet today. By the time we get up there it will be almost time to start coming down. Once we’re airborne, I’m sure Jules will be able to show you where to get a drink if you want. There are two bathrooms: one here, and one aft by the baggage compartment.”

He went onto the flight deck. Jules showed us to the back – or “aft,” I supposed – and we stowed our gear. As we headed back, I happened to notice that Amanda’s aura was spiked with yellow.

“Are you okay?” I asked her.

She nodded. “Not a huge fan of flying,” she said.

“You should have said,” said Jules. “We could have driven up, no trouble.”

“No,” said Amanda, “I wanted to do this. I’ve never been in a private jet before. I just get a little nervous.”

Mary and I both hit her with our power at the same time. I went with love and trust; Mary opted for relaxation and security.

Amanda giggled. “Wow! Double whammy.”

We settled in as we heard the engines spooling up.

“Please take your seats,” said Gerry from the flight deck. “We are ready to taxi and have clearance to take off as soon as we are in position.”

The plane began to move, and in a few minutes, we were in the air. Amanda gripped my hand for a short while, but once we leveled out, she let go and relaxed. Jules got us each a bottle of water and we admired the view from the windows, far larger than any airplane window I had ever seen before.

Before we really had the chance to settle in properly, Gerry announced that we would be landing in about ten minutes and asked that we make sure we were seated and that there was nothing loose in the cabin.

Jules took our empties and put them in the galley trash, and then we settled down. I was treated to another hand squeeze from Amanda, and then, with the lightest of bumps, we were once again on the ground. The journey had taken no more than eighty-five minutes. Gerry had obviously put the pedal to the metal, or whatever the flying equivalent was.

After a short taxi, we heard the engines spooling down, and then Gerry emerged from the flight deck. Had it been a longer flight I would have been interested in getting a look in there, but there hadn’t been enough time.

We carried our luggage to Gerry’s car, and he drove us the thirty minutes from the airstrip to the Steadman farm. A quick calculation told me that if we included the Uber ride, the flight, and the journey at the other end, our travel time would be about two and a half hours, which was significantly less than the nine or ten hours - depending on rest stops and traffic - that it would have been by road.

As we approached the house, I could see mischief in all the girls’ auras and wondered what they were up to. Gerry pulled up outside and I got out of the car. The girls all piled out. Once again there was a cacophony of barking as the four dogs came running around from the back of the house.

The girls pushed me against the car, surrounding me and ‘protecting’ me from the savage beasts descending upon us, giggling madly all the while. I looked across to see Pops, Cheryl, and Ness all laughing at the pantomime.

“Okay, okay,” I said. “Well played.”

I disentangled myself from the three girls only to get entangled in another as Ness flew across the yard and jumped up, wrapping her arms and legs around me.

“Hey, you,” I said, hugging her tightly, “I missed you.”

“I missed you too,” Ness told me as I carried her back toward her parents. Then realized that I needed to help with the luggage.

“We’ve got it,” said Jules. “I think you’re carrying enough just now.”

“Ness,” said Dean. “Put him down.”

Ness reluctantly released me as Dean and then Cheryl first hugged me, and then the other girls. Divested of the teen, I took some of the bags from the girls and we went inside.

“You’re all in the same room again,” Cheryl said, and we took our things up there.

I gasped as I entered the white room. While we’d been at uni, they had replaced the bed. Now there was one just like ours there. It dominated the room, but the room was large enough to handle it.

“Wow,” said Mary as she came into the room. “We’ll have to break that in.” Then she blushed when she turned around to find both Dean and Cheryl standing right behind her. They both grinned.

The wardrobe and drawers had been similarly upgraded, giving us much more room to store our clothing. The last time we’d been here, Jules had had to use her room to store her stuff.

“This is your room,” said Cheryl. “We’ll keep it for you for when you visit.”

“Visit?” I said. “I’m moving in.”

They both laughed, and Ness looked at me wistfully.

After putting our stuff away, we went down to the kitchen, and Ness began cooking lunch.

“Need a hand?” I asked as usual, but she just snorted at me. None of the girls had let slip that I was now a very good cook. Cheryl and Dean still thought that I was learning just enough to make a meal on Ness’s birthday, but I had decided I would spring that particular surprise this time around.

We were going to be at the farm for three weeks over the holiday period. I had to shop for everyone, since the only present I had bought so far was Ness’s. My bank balance was about to take a sizeable hit.

“Jonas’s family is coming over this afternoon,” Dean said. “They wanted to say thank you and didn’t get to see you before you left last time.”

“Okay,” I said. “Where can I go hide?”

He laughed. “Just be gracious and accept their accolades,” he said. “You did something good for them. They want you to know it’s appreciated.”

“I know,” I said. “I’m just not comfortable with that kind of attention.”

“Then stop saving people’s lives,” he said with a pragmatic air. “Problem solved.”

In that instant, I could practically hear Jules saying the exact same thing, in the exact same way, and it amused me. “You are your daughter’s father all right,” I said, and he laughed again.

We sat on the deck, just catching up. Terra seemed to have adopted me, and she sat beside my chair while I stroked her head until I felt her ears perk up. Then she was off with the other dogs, barking as they ran toward the front of the house.

“That will be them,” Dean said.

We all walked out as the Bridge family was getting out of their truck. The dogs investigated the newcomers thoroughly. None of the Bridge family were intimidated in the slightest, having been up to the house many times before. The family walked over to where we were standing, and Jonas grinned at me. “Hi Caleb,” he said.

“Hi Jonas,” I said. “How’s the arm?”

“It’s good as new,” he said. “They took the cast off two weeks ago. I was really glad of that ‘cause it was itching like a…”

“Jonas,” Gary, his father, interrupted. He had obviously known what his son was going to say and didn’t think it appropriate in mixed company. I would guess Jonas got away with more colorful language when he was working with the farm hands than when he was at home.

Gary stepped forward and held his hand out to me. “We didn’t get properly introduced. I’m Gary Bridge. I work for Dean and Cheryl. I never got the chance to say thank you for what you did. You saved my boy’s life.”

“You would have thought of something,” I said.

“That’s just it,” he said. “We couldn’t. We all thought there was no way to get the door open without getting the tractor out of the ditch.”

“I was lucky,” I said. “My dad is an agricultural mechanic. I saw him do something similar - although not in those circumstances.”

“Well, lucky or not,” he insisted, “you saved my boy, so thank you.”

I turned to his wife, Jodie, who just threw her arms around me and hugged me tightly.

“Thank you,” she said, a catch in her voice. “I don’t know what I would have done if we’d lost him.”

I returned the hug, albeit a little awkwardly. After a few minutes, she released me and stepped back.

We all trooped back out onto the deck and Jonas regaled us with his tale of how he had been rescued. It was obviously not the first time he had told it, and there were some embellishments that I was certain had never actually happened, but he’d made it his and he told it well.

I recalled him telling me he was too busy to get involved in his own rescue, and he grinned, although I did wipe the smile off his face when I asked if he was going to get driving lessons for Christmas. He scowled at that.

“I can drive,” he said.

“I have a tractor that says otherwise,” said Dean. “You know Caleb fixed that too? Otherwise, I was sending you the bill!!”

“I thought Jeremy fixed it?” said Gary.

“Jeremy got it running again,” said Dean. “Caleb and I straightened the cab out, and he did the welding where needed.”

“You want to hold onto this one,” said Jodie to Dean.

“Don’t worry, we are,” said Jules, Amanda, and Mary in perfect synchronization. Ness looked on with that wistful expression again.

Jodie’s mouth dropped open as she looked from girl to girl. Then she looked at Dean, who just shrugged.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” he said.

When it was time for the Bridges to go, Dean and I walked out with them to their truck. Jodie and Jonas got into the cab, but Gary walked to the back.

“Dean said that you wouldn’t accept anything from us for saving our boy,” he said, “but at least have a drink on me?”

He unloaded two cases of beer, handing one to me and one to Dean.

For an instant I considered telling him I didn’t drink since I was underage but dismissed it. The humor would have been out of place. Instead, I thanked him, shaking his hand once again.

“I’m glad you didn’t,” Dean said as the truck drove away. I raised my eyebrow at him. “Whatever wisecrack you were about to make, that is...”

I nodded. “Me too.” I picked up one of the cases. “Buy you a beer?” I asked, and he grinned.

“After dinner.”

As usual, Ness made an amazing meal; to our surprise, she tolerated some help cleaning up afterward. As Dean and I relaxed on the deck after that, his resolve finally faltered. I knew he wasn’t the type to butt in, but the situation was, admittedly, complicated.

“What are you going to do about Ness?” he asked. “She’s spent the last three months pining for you. I’m not going to say you’ve been leading her on; that’s not quite fair. Still, you’re like her own personal superhero. She hurts, you help. She’s in danger, you risk your life to save her. Can you really blame her?”

“This must be so strange for you,” I said. “I guess you must have been dreading your girls bringing boys home, and then I show up and turn everything upside down. Your eldest daughter is shacking up with a guy and two other girls and your youngest wants to join the party. Jules is asexual, but Ness isn’t. I’ll skip ahead a step by reminding you that Mary and Amanda have been Empaths their whole lives. Jules and Ness grew up ‘normal,’ and you know I’m not casting judgment either way. It’s just a fact.”

He looked at me. “Don’t you want her?”

“Want her?” I asked. “Of course I want her. That’s why I shouldn’t be the only voice in the mix. Ness’s matters, obviously, but she’s young, and she didn’t grow up with any of this. That leaves you and Cheryl. I think your voices matter here.”

He absorbed that with a slow nod and took a pull from his beer. “I saw how much love is in your relationship,” he said. “Nobody could ask for more. If you are what Ness wants, then we - Cheryl and I - are more than happy for her, for them both, and for you all.

“So now that you’ve got the parents’ blessing,” he said, “what are you going to do with it?”

“Did Cheryl tell you about the birthday meal?”

He shook his head.

“I had planned to cook her a meal on her birthday,” I said. “I’ve been learning for that very reason. But I’m here, I have a Christmas present for her, and I think now’s the time. I want to show her how much she means to me. This pseudo-sibling relationship isn’t working; everybody knows it. As long as she agrees that there won’t be any funny business before she’s eighteen, I think it’s best we get everything out in the open.

“She still wants to be a chef, right?” I asked. I was a little nervous about those knives. They’d been awfully expensive to be a dud gift – and, I supposed, I still had time to pivot. I was planning on going shopping anyway.

He nodded. I felt a huge rush of relief.

“I’ll need to do some shopping before then,” I said. “Ness doesn’t keep the ingredients for what I want to make, and I also want to get some rings for all the girls. It’s about time I ‘put a ring on it.’ I was planning to take the girls to get theirs and give Ness hers at the same time.”

Dean looked at me for a long time. I wondered what he was thinking. I could have peeked, but there was nothing jumping out at me, and his aura was still too complicated for me to be certain of what I was seeing.

“I don’t know how you are going to keep her out of your pants until she is eighteen,” he said, “but good luck with that. My daughter is very determined when she puts her mind to things.”

“Before I brought her into the bond, we had a ‘conversation.’” I tapped the side of my head. “I made her promise that if she received any ‘invitations’ that she would not accept them. I was still concerned she might get caught up. She made me that promise. In return, she asked me for a promise. She asked me to promise that when she was eighteen I would, in her words, ‘show her what the fuss was all about.’ I promised her that if she still felt the same way when she was eighteen, then she, Jules, Mary, Amanda, and I would all sit down and discuss it. If, after that, she decided that that was what she wanted, then we would.

“When we talk, we’ll adapt that promise.”

“She’ll demand something in return,” he said grinning. “You get nothing for nothing from my daughter.”

“And you have an idea what that something is likely to be,” I said with suspicion.

He grinned. “She and Cheryl have been talking while you were away. I get everything secondhand, but if it is what I think it is, and given what you said before, then we’re fine with it.”

“You’re not going to tell me, are you?” I asked.

“What?” he said chuckling. “You think I want to make things easy for you?”

I was about to argue further, but the kitchen door opened, and all the girls came out. Our ‘man time’ was over for the night. We sat and chatted on the deck for another hour or so, and then I decided it was time for me to retire to bed. The dogs would be expecting a show early in the morning, and I couldn’t disappoint my public.

After I had my shower, Mary was waiting for me in the middle of the bed. “I thought I’d come help you sleep.”

“You’d come, then help me sleep?” I asked with a grin, and she smiled.

“Where’s Amanda?” I asked and her smile slipped for a second.

“She’s still with the… oh no, you can’t…”

I grinned widely at her as her hands were gently but firmly pulled above her head, and her legs spread. TK was such a useful tool.

“Caleb, if you - OOOHHHHH!!” she said as I began feasting on her pussy.

I felt a huge jolt of arousal through the bond from Amanda, and a little confusion and amusement from Ness and Jules.

I lapped at Mary, alternately running my tongue up and down her lips and then sliding inside her before licking up to her little button and sucking it into my mouth, giving it a tongue bath. She had given up trying to talk and was just moaning quietly as I worshiped at her delicious altar.

I moved back down and began the process again. While I was lapping at her slit, I wet a finger and began circling her asshole with it. She twitched. The next time I pulled her clit into my mouth, I gently slid a finger through her tight, muscular ring and began to pump slowly. Up and down I went, lapping at her slit, sliding my tongue into her soaking channel, and then licking and sucking at her clit. I reached up with my other hand and began rolling and tweaking her nipple. I wanted her to cum, and cum hard.

I added a second finger to the one pumping into her ass, stretching her out, and attacked her clit with more purpose. I pushed my fingers in as deep as I could get them, and then angled them forward, massaging her G-spot through the wall of her rectum, stretching both her asshole and stimulating that sensitive bundle of nerves. She began to grind into my face.

Using my TK, I kept up the stimulation of her nipple and added another to duplicate the sensation on the other side. She had her pubic bone pressed hard against my mouth, trying to grind her clit harder into my tongue, as I kept slow but deep strokes in and out of her ass. I could feel she wanted to hold my head to her pussy, but her hands were secured, and that frustration was intensifying the entire experience for her.

I could feel her belly tightening as her grinding got faster and faster. Then, with a sharp cry, she came. I had managed to get my mouth over her pussy, catching a mouthful of her cum as I felt her asshole twitching and squeezing my fingers rhythmically throughout her orgasm.

I slid my fingers out of her ass and moved up her body, capturing her mouth with mine. Once again I fed her her own cum as I slid my cock deep inside her in a single thrust.

Her eyes bulged as she came again, stronger this time, and I felt her pussy clenching and slurping at my cock, which was still buried to the hilt inside her. My TK was still holding her hands, and also still working at her nipples, as I began to stroke almost leisurely in and out, battling her tongue with mine as hers sought out the last of her cum from my mouth.

I released her legs, and she immediately wrapped them around me, pulling me deeper inside of her and grinding her pelvis against mine as we met. Her pussy was letting out wet squelching sounds as I pressed into her, and I could feel every bump and ridge of her hot, tight tunnel as it caressed my sensitive glans.

I knew I wouldn’t last long, but that was fine by me. I sped up my thrusting and Mary began to grunt and moan with each stroke, digging her heels into my ass, trying to get me to speed up more. She was also climbing toward a third orgasm, and she didn’t want to wait.

“Fuck me,” she whispered, finally breaking away from my kiss. “Fill me up with your cum.”

I wasn’t in any mood to argue, and I sped up further, pounding into her, feeling my balls tighten as we both rose toward our peaks. Mary beat me to it. Fortunately, I had captured her mouth again in a deep kiss. Otherwise, I think they would have heard her scream in the north pasture. The feeling of her writhing and spasming beneath me, added to the clenching and grasping of her pussy around my cock, was more than enough to tip me over the edge. I rammed in as far as I could and released my cum deep inside her. Spurt after throbbing spurt of spunk jetted into her, and that feeling prolonged her orgasm. I released all the TK, and she wrapped her arms around me, holding me to her, as we both came down.

Then she giggled.

“Amanda is not going to know whether to be pissed or not,” she said. “Jules found it hilarious watching her trying to sit still whilst cumming. I think Ness figured out what was going on. I’m not sure about Dean and Cheryl.”

“Mary,” I said, “I’m sorry. I know I’ve said it before, but Jules reminded me the other day, and I really wanted to tell you that I am sorry I doubted you.”

“Hush,” she said. “It’s in the past and forgiven. I am sure, though, that, as you said, we may butt heads again. I don’t like dumb men.” She threw my own words back at me with a smile. “As long as you remember that I do love you - that we all do - then whatever our differences, we’ll get through them.”

I felt her power flow over me: love, forgiveness, and trust. I basked in it until I released my hold on my consciousness and slept.


Reliable as ever, my bladder alarm woke me almost on the dot of four. After I had dealt with my morning routine, I made my way out to the deck, where once again the dogs were waiting for me. The dogs’ routine had slightly changed though. Terra would greet me first, and then only after would the other dogs approach. Then they would settle down, tongues lolling, almost laughing at me. I remembered what Louise had said: “Dance, monkey, dance.” I grinned at them and then settled down to train.

Since it was Sunday, the others didn’t get up till late. It was nearly seven by the time the Steadman family joined me on the deck. Jules grinned at me and then began to chuckle when she recollected what had happened the night before. She offered, and I took the memory of the scene from her perspective.

Amanda had been sitting talking to Cheryl when suddenly she’d jumped and flushed. For the next forty minutes, she had tried in vain to maintain her composure and continue the conversation with Cheryl, who, for some reason hadn’t seemed to notice what was going on. When Mary had come, Amanda had obviously come sympathetically. She’d whimpered the first time, clearing her throat theatrically as if she had caught her breath or something. Mary’s second orgasm almost immediately afterward had caught her completely off guard, and she had hissed and jumped. She’d rubbed her leg, feigning a cramp when everyone had looked at her. She’d been completely undone by the final orgasm, letting out a long low moan and shivering in her seat. She’d looked around at the assembled company. Only Ness had been looking at her, eyes narrowed. Dean and Cheryl had both been looking at something else, although both had seemed to be suppressing smiles.

Cheryl grinned at me as she said good morning. “You have a wicked streak in you, Mr. Stott,” she said with a laugh. “Poor Amanda didn’t know where to put herself.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” I said with wide-eyed innocence.

She continued to grin. “If you say so.”

By the time I had showered and changed, Ness had made breakfast and the other girls had gotten out of bed. Amanda was trying, without success, to glare at me. Each time I caught her eye, her face would break out into a grin.

We went riding again. Blaze had apparently missed me too. He came out of his stall and straight to me, looking for the carrots he knew I would be carrying. I had seen the two Steadman girls doing it, and had figured it was a good way to get to know the animal that might decide to drop me on my ass at any given time. He remembered that I had made a habit of it last time I was up, and I didn’t disappoint him.

“Dean told me he had a chat with you last night,” Cheryl said, bringing her horse alongside mine. We were riding in loose formation. Ness and Jules were racing each other and were way ahead; the other girls and Dean were going at their own pace. I had been daydreaming, just enjoying the scenery, and Blaze had been plodding along, taking occasional breaks to crop a tasty morsel of grass or bush as he passed. I didn’t begrudge him. He’d bite it off and then continue while chewing at his snack.

“He said that you and Ness talked,” I said. “That you might have an idea of what Ness wants?”

Cheryl nodded. “She wants to sleep with you.”

Even Blaze stopped walking at that. Apparently, he was as shocked as I was. The revelation wasn’t a surprise. It was that her mother would just come out and say it like that.

Cheryl looked amused. “I don’t mean she wants sex,” she said, coming back to me since her horse hadn’t stopped. “She literally just wants to share a bed with you and the girls while you are here. She said that the night after you went Vulcan on us, when she spent it cuddling up to you, was the best night ever. She felt safe, secure, and surrounded by love. She wants that.”

“I,” I began, not really knowing how to react to that. I fell back on an old favorite. “I’m not sure that’s such a good idea…”

“Autonomic nervous system?” Cheryl asked with a grin. “Jules said that would be your first thought. But then she told me what happens when you and she are alone in the shower together, or rather what doesn’t happen. I honestly don’t think it will be a problem. You make people feel safe, Caleb. That night, in our room, when I was in your arms, I felt safe and loved – well, when you weren’t busy literally blowing my mind, anyway. Ness has had some of that, and she wants it again.”

“And you and Pops are fine with that?” I asked incredulously.

She laughed quietly. “Rewind six months. Tell me my daughter is going to come home and tell me she is in a polyamorous relationship with a boy and two other girls, and that my younger daughter is going to be clamoring to join even before she is legally old enough. I would have skinned you alive and pegged out the remains for the vultures, even if Dean didn’t do something far worse before I got to you.

“Jules has explained to me that there is something about your Empathy that makes you need to share, but even then, I’m not sure I would have been okay with it. But there is something else - something about you. I know that both my girls are in safe hands with you and will be loved and cared for no matter what. Ness is old enough to marry with our permission, and both Dean and I would give that permission without a qualm. I know it’s not what you want - that you couldn’t do that - and that proves to me even more how decent a man you are. So, to answer your question, yes, we are perfectly fine with Ness sharing your bed with you. That was one reason we got the bigger bed, after all.

“Ness will just have to understand that on nights like last night, she may have to wait a while to join you.”

I blushed.

“For someone that spends so much time looking at asses and screwing,” she said, “you are way too easy to embarrass. Oh, that reminds me.” There was a hint of mischief in her eye. “Do I get a rating?”

Without waiting for an answer, she turned and took off after the others, bringing her horse to a gallop and rising from the saddle, pointing her delicious rump in my direction.

By the time I caught up with them, they had stopped for lunch and were laying out the picnic that had been packed before we left. We sat by a small river eating and chatting. It was a real family occasion, and I felt guilty that I hadn’t even thought about seeing my parents over the Christmas holiday.

I apparently hadn’t been the only person thinking about them.

“I was going to ask your parents if they wanted to come up next weekend,” Cheryl said, “Dianna too?”

The twins brightened at that news, but then looked at me worriedly.

“Sounds like a great idea,” I said. “Maggie, Dianna, and I have reached an understanding. Speaking to the NSA really helped, so thank you.”

“So, your gamble paid off?” asked Dean. I knew he was asking if the collateral damage I had done last time we were here had been worth it.

“It definitely worked,” I said. “I can’t say for certain that we wouldn’t have gotten there without me doing it though.”

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing,” said Dean. “Don’t second guess but do learn if you think you made a mistake.”

“I’ll probably never know,” I said. “But I promised everyone, and I’ll repeat it for your benefit. I’m never doing that again unless the bond is already broken. That would be the only way I could function in any case.”

Cheryl came over and gave me a hug. I whispered in her ear. “Nine out of ten.”

“Only nine?” she whispered back.

“You’d have to lose the jeans for a ten,” I said. This time it was her turn to blush.

“Do you not have enough women, that you’re flirting with mine?” asked Dean good-naturedly.

“Just a little payback,” I replied.


Monday morning, Ness was in a bad mood.

She knew that the girls and I were going to the mall to do some Christmas shopping, and she had wanted to come with us. Cheryl had told her no, and that she had to go to school. It was the last week before her break started. Colleges gave longer ones – something for her to look forward to.

I checked my bank balance on my phone before we left, and found I was in good shape. With the money that Dean had given me, my FBI ‘retainer,’ the money that I got from Josh and Louise, and my earnings from my hypnotherapy work, I had close to fifty-five thousand dollars in there. I had been spending very little other than on food. The major exception had been the stuff I had bought Rachel, but I didn’t begrudge her a cent.

I hadn’t told the girls my plan to buy them all the rings. I’d just said I needed to go to get ingredients for the dinner and Christmas gifts. Cheryl had said we could store the ingredients in one of the farm’s milk fridges. That would ensure everything was kept fresh, and that Ness wouldn’t see them before the day.

Knowing the portion sizes that the Steadman family and I enjoyed, I made sure I picked up plenty of ingredients. I was going to do Moussaka for the main course, but I wanted it to be a special meal, so I needed a starter and dessert too. I decided to stick with the Greek theme.

I went fairly simple for dessert with some Loukomadies; who doesn’t love a donut? For a starter I was going to go for calamari, some zucchini balls, and maybe a meze, depending on time.

We got everything we needed for the dinner and loaded it in Cheryl’s car, loaned to us for the trip.

Then we needed to go and get the Christmas gifts.

I had no idea what I was going to get for people. I knew what my parents liked. My mother liked a particular brand of perfume which was easily available, if a little expensive, and my father had a weakness for a special malt whisky. A small illusion to the person asking to see my ID, and that was a done deal.

The girls said they needed some time alone, and I was fine with that, since I also needed some time to go get their gifts. We agreed to meet at a coffee shop in an hour.

My first port of call was the electronics store. I wanted something for Jules. She had already bought a hot air rework station. She was also getting into micro soldering in a bigger way, though, and her current rig wasn’t up to much; I decided on a microscope with a video attachment so that she could see what she was doing.

Mary and Amanda were more difficult. I went into a jewelers’. I was originally going to buy them identical necklaces but then I saw a golden torc, which I knew would really set Mary off. Amanda wasn’t so easy, but I found a necklace made up of heart-shaped links cleverly intertwined, which I thought suited her, since she always led with her heart.

I bought a locket for Dianna, which I would get Jules to load some pictures of us all into. I told the sales assistant in the jewelers that I might be back later, and if so, we’d never met. She smiled at me, both knowingly and reassuringly. I hazarded a guess that white lies were a big part of her job.

Dean and Cheryl were a problem, but I decided to discuss that with Jules later.

When we met up again, the girls had some more bags, which we loaded into the car. My purchases went in there also. I hoped nobody would steal the car, otherwise that was a lot of money gone.

“I need to get something for your parents,” I said to Jules. “Any ideas?”

“How much do you want to spend?” she asked. “Daddy likes a Cuban cigar occasionally. Mom won’t allow him to buy them, but if he gets them as gifts then she will allow him to have one every so often. He promised her that he would never ask anyone to buy them. I don’t think anyone has for at least a few years.”

“Can you get them here?” I asked. “They’re illegal, aren’t they?”

She grinned at me. “There is a place on the first floor that ‘doesn’t’ sell them. You are talking about four hundred dollars a box though.”

I hesitated. I had never seen Dean smoking, and since I had spent my last semester breaking people of the habit, it seemed a little hypocritical to be buying cigars as a gift. On the other hand, I was getting the inside scoop from somebody I was confident knew him well. It seemed silly to waste the advantage.

“Won’t your mom be mad if I get them?” I asked.

Jules shook her head. “She’ll be happy he’s happy. A box will last him probably two years. The last box, he ended up throwing a couple away because they dried out. But he will be happy to get them.”

“And for your mom?” I asked.

“She likes a particular wine,” she said. “She won’t buy it for herself, says it’s too expensive. About five hundred a bottle.”

With those items purchased, the girls were getting hungry.

“I just want to go to one more place,” I said, “and then we can get some lunch.”

The girls grumbled good-naturedly. Their complaints quieted the instant we entered the jewelers’. I had set myself a budget of ten thousand dollars for the four rings, although I knew I’d let the girls twist my arm if there was something they really liked.

“I thought I’d get something for Dianna,” I said, even though I had already done that.

I began to look at gold chains and necklaces and the like. I was hoping that they would gravitate toward the engagement rings and start to discuss their preferences. I had initially wanted to get them four identical rings, but then I thought that that would be more about me than them. I wanted them to have rings that they liked, not that I liked for them. I suspected that the twins would like similar rings, but that Jules would be interested in something different. They proved me wrong. I shamelessly ‘eavesdropped’ on their conversation as they discussed the type of rings they liked.

“Wouldn’t it be good if we could all get the same ring?” Jules wondered aloud.

In the mirror, I could see them stealing a glance at me as I was chatting to the sales assistant. She was showing me some nice necklaces, but I wasn’t really listening.

“That’s pretty,” said Mary, pointing to a diamond solitaire.

“It is, but that one’s nicer,” said Amanda pointing to another.

Eventually, they came to a consensus on the ring that they really liked. They seemed to have forgotten about me. The sales assistant could see I wasn’t really interested in what she was showing me.

“I’m just letting them pick a ring,” I whispered to her, and she smiled.

“Which one is it for?” she whispered back while continuing to mime showing me another tray of chains.

“All of them,” I said.

She dropped the tray. I pretended to help her with it, and let her know that the distraction had been a perfect way to let me keep eavesdropping. She gave me a bashful grin, appreciative of the kindness.

From above and behind me, I heard something that made my heart swell.

“Do you think Ness will like it too?” Mary asked Jules. “I’d hate for her to be disappointed.”

“Right now, he could give her a curtain ring with a lump of cowshit on it and she’d be delighted,” said Jules, “but yes, Ness would love that.”

I was about to turn around when the girls turned to me.

“We’ve picked one,” said Amanda. “You can stop pretending now.”

I smiled wryly at the grinning assistant before turning to my girls.

“Am I that transparent?” I asked.

“Like glass,” said Mary. “To us, at least.”

I laughed. “Okay, show me.”

They pointed to a ring, and the sales assistant, after putting the chains away, came around and pulled out the tray.

“Can you get multiple identical rings?” I asked.

She nodded. “It’s more usual these days. We can make bespoke rings too, but those cost more. I believe we have five or six of this particular design in stock.”

“What about sizing?” I asked.

“How many were you wanting?” she queried.

“Four,” I said.

“Can the other young lady come in and have us measure her?” she asked.

“You can use my finger,” said Jules. “Ness and I have the same-sized hands. We often swap jewelry.”

The assistant measured the twins and declared that the rings didn’t need to be resized for them. Jules’s finger was half a size smaller. It would fit, but be loose, and had the risk of slipping off her finger and getting lost.

“Wait here a moment, please,” said the assistant and went into the back of the shop, not forgetting to lock away the tray of rings. She took the ring the girls had chosen with her.

“Since you are buying four,” she said when she returned, “and only two need resizing, our jeweler says he can do it in about three hours. He is willing to push it to the front of the queue since his other jobs are non-urgent.”

I looked at the girls. “Lunch?” They nodded.

I paid for the rings. It was just slightly over the ten thousand I had planned on, but not by much. They were resizing for free, too, which I thought was good of them, considering it was being done as a priority job. Then we went and found a restaurant and ate a leisurely lunch. No matter how leisurely we were, though, we were never going to spend three hours there, and we spent the rest of the time browsing around the mall.

We got back to the jewelry store just before they were due to close. The rings were ready, each in their own plush, purple box. I scooped them up as the girls were reaching for them, and, to moues of disappointment, dropped them into my pocket.

I smirked at the girls. “Not yet.”

When we got back to the house, we sneaked the food into the cold storage and then went inside, taking the presents. One good thing about stores these days, is that they giftwrapped everything for you, so that was one worry less. I had already wrapped Ness’s knives before we left.

After dinner, Pops and I sat out on the deck. I pulled out one of the ring boxes and showed him the ring.

“Nice,” he said.

I pulled out two other identical boxes, and he nodded. Then I pulled out the fourth box. I could have sworn I saw a tear in his eye.

“It is my plan to cook on Friday night,” I said, “if that’s okay.”

“Looking forward to it,” he said with a smile.


Breakfast was at five-thirty the next morning. I was actually looking forward to getting stuck into some work. When we left the house and went toward the stables rather than the truck, I looked at Dean.

“What are we doing today?” I asked.

“We have some cows to move,” he said. “There is a herd of four thousand head in the east pasture, and we need to move them to the north so we can repair the fencing. I thought you might enjoy being on a cattle drive.”

“Just us two?” I asked, wondering how we would manage.

“No,” he said. “The boys are going to meet us up there. There will be ten of us - eleven, including you.”

Dean’s horse and Blaze were already saddled and ready to go when we got to the stables.

“Just stick with me,” he said as we trotted out. “I don’t expect you to have to do much.”

We made our way to the east pasture. When we arrived, there were a group of men I had never met before there, sitting on horses.

“Morning Dean,” said one of the men. “Who’s the dude?”

I knew, mostly from old westerns I had seen as a youngster, that a ‘dude’ in this context was a city boy - a tourist - hence the ‘dude ranches’ that were there for people to go and play at being cowboys.

“This is Caleb,” said Dean, “my daughters’ boyfriend. He’s going to ride with us today.”

I got some friendly looks and some looks of disdain. I guessed that more than one of them had designs on the Steadman daughters, if only for their father’s money. I ignored the shittier ones and returned the friendly ones with a few nods.

“Make sure you stay out of the press,” said the man who had said good morning to Dean. “If you fall off your horse in the middle of the herd, they will trample you to death before you can move.”

I avoided rolling my eyes and merely nodded and thanked him for the advice. I looked at Dean and he just grinned at me.

I followed him as he rode around the herd, and he and the rest of the ‘cowboys’ started to round it up and push it toward the gate and into the next pasture. We would have to completely cross that pasture, and another again to get to the north pasture.

Unlike on the television westerns, there wasn’t a lot of fuss and shouts and whistles. The horses simply corralled the cattle, and the cattle, used to the process, seemed content to be directed where to go. There were odd ones who were reluctant. Some of the guys on horses had what looked like long horsewhips, and they would swat the reluctant ones across their rumps to get them to move.

We crossed the next pasture and began herding the cows toward the entrance to the pasture beyond. Most of the cows just followed those in front and filed through the gate. Occasionally one would decide to do something different and turn back into the pasture they had just left or dart off up the fence line. When that happened, one of the hands would chase them down, get them turned around, and bring them back to the main herd.

By lunchtime, we had entered the north pasture and had herded the last of the cows through the gate. For me, it had been an easy morning. I had simply sat on Blaze’s back while he’d moved around the cows. He seemed to know far better than I what to do, so I’d just let him get on with it. I could feel his appreciation of my noninterference, and when we dismounted to get lunch, he nudged my shoulder with his nose. The hands picketed their horses, but I decided Blaze wouldn’t go far. I simply looped the rein over his neck so it wouldn’t get in his way, loosened his girth strap a little for his comfort, and let him wander off to graze as he wanted.

“You need to picket or hobble him,” said one of the other hands. “It’s a long walk home.”

“Blaze won’t go far,” I said. “He’ll come back when we’re ready to leave.”

The hand just shook his head and went to sit and eat his lunch. I sat with Dean.

“Making friends?” he asked with a wry smile.

“Something like that,” I said. “I know what they meant when they called me a dude. They’re looking for me to slip up. At least three of the guys here are pissed at me purely because you introduced me as Jules’s boyfriend. They had their own designs on her, and not for love.”

“Kenny over there has asked her out a few times,” Dean said, nodding to one of the younger hands. “I didn’t know any of the others were interested.”

“That’s just it,” I said. “They aren’t interested in Jules - none of them. She would be a steppingstone is all.”

He sighed. “That’s always a problem,” he said. “That’s why people get the ‘Daddy has a bit of land and a few cows’ story.”

“I hope you know…” I began, but he put his hand on my arm to stop me.

“We’re way past that, son,” he said. “I think Clark Kent is good enough for my girls – and I also know that he doesn’t care too much about money.”

I was touched, but I felt I had to give him some good-natured cowboy guff. “Is Clark really a ‘group sex that includes the in-laws’ kind of guy, though?”

Dean barked out laughing and slapped me on the back. “Well, it’s the twenty-first century after all,” he said, still chuckling. “Keep an eye on the comic books and those movies and we might get that version of him yet.”

“Or just check the internet, I suppose,” I joked.

He shook his head. “Yeah, or that,” he said. “Sometimes I think it’s a good thing I know how to keep busy.”

“Time to move out,” said the lead hand, breaking up our endearing father-and-son moment. They all got up and started to pack their stuff away. Blaze was not in sight. I reached out, scanning the local area for minds. I could sense all the people and animals in the locale and found him about a quarter mile away. Since I had ridden him so many times, I knew the ‘flavor’ of his mind. Gently, I inserted a thought into his head that I had carrots in my pocket, and he perked up and set out immediately to find me.

The hand that had told me to hobble Blaze looked sidelong at me as he packed his stuff away. “You lose your horse?” he said with a grin.

“Nope,” I said. “He’ll be back in a minute.”

He opened his mouth to respond just as Blaze trotted into view, making a beeline for me. I pulled a couple of carrots out of my pack, and he munched them happily as I readjusted his girth strap and packed my stuff away before mounting again.

The other hands went off, and Dean turned to me. “I thought we could ride the fence line in the east pasture and get some idea of how much needs doing. My plan was to start repairing that fence tomorrow if you are up for it.”

There looked to be about a week of work repairing the fencing in the east pasture, and I was looking forward to it. Getting out in the fresh air, shooting the breeze with Dean, and training my TK all at the same time - what was not to love?

When we got back to the stable, I spent a good hour brushing Blaze down. I found it therapeutic, and he seemed to like the attention. I fed him the last carrot that I had taken with me for the day, and then went to the house and took a shower. I stank of horse.


Friday, I was excited. I was up at my usual time, and, after entertaining the dogs for a couple of hours, I showered, breakfasted, and then Dean and I started work in the east pasture. Although we got through the work, he could see my heart wasn’t in it. After lunch, he called it. We had still checked and repaired a length of fencing over five hundred poles long - as much as he would have been able to do in a day on his own - so he wasn’t worried. We made our way back to the house, and, after yet another shower, I went into the kitchen.

I did all the prep work, bringing in all the ingredients and preparing everything I would need for the evening meal. By the time Ness came home, everything was ready. All that would be required was for me to cook and plate.

As was her habit, Ness went and got changed, and spent an hour or so with us on the deck, chatting as we all wound down from the day. Then she stood. “I’d better go start dinner,” she said.

“Not tonight,” I said.

“Why not?” She looked puzzled.

“Because I decided that, for tonight only, as a special treat, I am cooking you dinner.”

“You?” she said, looking amazed. She looked across at Jules.

“He has been working hard,” said Jules, “every night. Let him show you what he has learned.”

“You learned to cook?” Ness asked.

I nodded. “I wanted to cook for you for a change,” I said. I opened my mouth to tell her that it had been Mary’s idea, but Mary beat me to it.

“He thought it would show you how important you are to him,” she said.

“Can I watch?” asked Ness.

“I did most of the prep work this afternoon,” I said, “so there won’t be much to see. Just relax and let me serve you for a change.” I went into the kitchen and began working.

I was nervous. The first course was ready, and the Moussaka was in the oven. I had the accompanying salad ready to be dressed, which I would do immediately prior to serving. The donuts were in the fridge ready to go, along with a honey dipping sauce and also fresh cream. The latter wasn’t really traditional, but we were on a dairy farm.

“I went with an almost Greek theme,” I said. “I hope you like it.”

The starters vanished so quickly that the main still needed a few minutes to finish in the oven. Even the girls, who had been eating my cooking for a while, were impressed. When the Moussaka was ready, I dressed the salad and cut up some crusty bread to go with it.

“Moussaka?” asked Ness. “I never tried this.”

“You nearly didn’t get it,” said Mary. “Jules almost convinced Caleb to get you KFC!”

Ness looked at Jules. “Why?”

“Taste it and let’s see,” said Jules.

Jules had almost been right. By the look on her face, Ness could have been having an orgasm as she had her first taste. Cheryl and Dean each tried theirs, and although their reactions weren’t quite as extreme as Ness’s, I could tell it was a hit.

“Ness, you have to learn how to cook this,” said Dean. “It’s amazing.”

Ness looked at me. “Teach me?”

I had made two huge trays of Moussaka, knowing the family’s appetites, and they were both all gone by the end of the meal. Everyone, including me, went back for more.

I put the tray of donuts in the middle of the table along with the sauces and cream. Nobody was really hungry since we had all already stuffed ourselves, but we started to pick at them. Nobody left the table until they were all gone.

Habitually, I cleared the table and started to clean the kitchen. I’d cleaned after the prep, but there was still stuff to be done. Cheryl and all the girls came and joined me, and Cheryl took the pot I currently held out of my hands.

“Go sit with Ness,” she said. “After all that work, it’s only fair we clear up.”

I went and sat down beside Ness, and she immediately clambered into my lap. She reminded me so much of her big sister.

“That was unbelievable,” she said. “How did you manage to learn so fast?”

“I cheated,” I said. “Don’t get me wrong; I had started to learn. I really wanted to do this. But I was working on making lasagna. Your mum said it was your favorite. I had tried and failed about three times to make it, but I was hoping I could have made a decent job of it by now.”

“Lasagna used to be my favorite,” she said, “until tonight. So how did you cheat?”

“I was training my mind-reading powers,” I said. “The FBI pays students to come in and pretends to be conducting ESP research on them. They sign a waiver saying that the FBI can ‘read their minds’ all the while thinking it’s a big joke. While they are there, I practice reading their minds.

“One of the students was in her final semester of chef’s school. I ‘downloaded’ her three years of training in an hour. It took a lot of work to keep the memories, and more to practice the motor skills, but I managed it, and that is how I can now cook.”

“And you did all that,” she asked, those brown pools regarding me, “so you could cook for me?”

I nodded. “I wanted you to know just how I felt about you,” I said. “I got the feeling that you were worried about that - that you didn’t know how much you meant to me - to all of us.”

“I thought you were putting me off,” she admitted, “humoring the silly kid with her teenage crush.”

“I was putting you off,” I said, “but not because I thought you were a silly kid. I know you think that you are old enough, and maybe you are. But I wouldn’t even let myself have sex before I was eighteen. It’s hardcoded into me. I know it’s frustrating to you, especially seeing me with Jules and the girls, but no matter what happens between us, I just couldn’t cross that line.

“Can you be patient?” I asked. “Can you wait? I’ll understand if you can’t, but I hope you understand that unless you do, I can’t be your first, and I so want to be.”

“If I couldn’t?” she asked.

“Then I hope that he - or she - is good to you,” I said, “and makes your first time as good as it should be.”

“Was your first time good?” she asked, and I nodded.

“Mary and Amanda were my first,” I said, “and I was theirs. It is a memory I will treasure always.”

“I want that,” she said. “I read so many times that girls are disappointed - that it hurts, and the boy just doesn’t care for her. I have waited so long, Caleb. I can wait a little longer.”

“Thank you,” I said. “I promise you: you will not regret it.”

“Can I ask you for something?” she asked with a slightly sly look in her eye.

“Not yet,” I said. “Maybe later.”

She looked surprised. “But…”

“Later,” I said with gentle finality. She pouted a little, but then sighed and nodded.

I saw Dean heading for the fridge and was about to say something, but Ness was ahead of me.

“Oops,” she said. “Man time! You’d better get going.”

“You don’t mind?” I asked.

She shook her head. “I think he looks forward to your time together almost as much as I do,” she said, and then broke out into an evil grin. “But you have to promise not to fuck him before you fuck me!”

I laughed. “I don’t think there is any chance of that,” I said, standing up as she climbed out of my lap.

I was still chuckling when I went out onto the deck.

“Did she enjoy your surprise?” he asked as I sat down and picked up my beer.

“I think so,” I replied. “I’m hoping it has shown her how I feel about her.”

“So, what was funny?” he asked.

“She promised to wait until her eighteenth birthday,” I said.

“And her price?”

“Not the one you were thinking, although I think she is going to ask for that later. But I did have to promise her one thing.”

“And what was that?” he asked, taking a drink of his beer.

I was so tempted, but I waited until he had swallowed before answering.

“I had to promise not to have sex with you before then either,” I said.

He barked out a laugh, and then looked at his beer, realizing why I had paused before answering. He raised his bottle a little in appreciation of the gesture.

“Although,” he said, “after that meal…”

I laughed. “A way to a man’s heart?”

He smiled, and we spent the rest of our ‘man time’ just appreciating the quiet and the scenery.

We finished our beer just as the door opened and the girls came out.

I stood up. The girls froze. Despite knowing what was going to happen, they were still nervous. Cheryl and Ness looked from the girls to me and back again.

“Mary, Amanda, Jules,” I began, addressing each in turn. “There are no words to explain how much you mean to me. You have given me so much love, support, and guidance that I would have been completely lost without you - any of you. I love each and every one of you so completely that I wonder how it can be possible for one man to be so blessed as to have the love of not just one, but three beautiful, intelligent, girls like you.”

I reached into my pocket and pulled out the first of the twins’ rings. I had decided to do it in the order I had met them. It seemed appropriate, and an easy explanation if any of them asked.

“Mary,” I said, “I want so much to spend the rest of my life with you. Would you do me the honor of accepting this ring as a token of my love for you, and as a sign that you and I are going to be partners for life?”

I opened the box, and her eyes fell upon the ring. Even though she’d chosen it herself, her eyes filled with tears as she lifted it from the box and placed it on her finger.

“Caleb,” she responded, “I love you.” She pulled me in for a kiss and held me there for a long minute.

“Yes,” she said finally when she released me.

I turned to Amanda, who already had tears on her cheeks.

“Amanda,” I said, “your love has sustained me throughout every trial I have faced. I would never think it possible that I could find one, let alone two people that I would love so much. Would you please do us both the honor of accepting this ring as a token of our love for you, and as a sign that we are going to be partners, together, for life?”

I opened the second box, and Amanda plucked out her ring, setting it on her ring finger.

“Yes,” she said simply before pulling me into another searing kiss.

When Amanda released me, I turned to Jules.

“Jules,” I began, “when I met you, I fell in love for the third time in my life. You bring such joy, such fun, and so much love with you that you almost overwhelm me each time we’re together. Every day I thank whatever fate brought you to us.

“Please,” I said, opening her ring box, “would you do us all the honor of accepting this ring as a token of all our love for you, and as a sign that we are all going to be partners, together, for life?”

Jules looked at the ring as if she had never seen it before. Tears were streaming down her face.

“I never thought,” she said, her voice catching, “that I would find anyone whom I could love, or who loved me as much as you three do. Thank you, and yes!”

She took the ring and placed it on her finger, and then, for the first time in view of her parents, gave me her full-on kiss. She released me, and then moved to Amanda, and then Mary, kissing each of them in exactly the same way.

I was trying not to look at Ness. I could see that both Cheryl and Ness were crying. I caught a glimpse of Ness’s aura and could see huge spikes of hope there. I knew she was hoping against hope I would turn to her next. When she thought that I had finished, I saw the disappointment rolling off her in waves. She was trying her best to look happy for her sister and for the other girls, but I could see that her heart was breaking, I couldn’t hold out any longer.

“Ness,” I said, turning to her. “This pseudo-sibling relationship that we have between us is not working. You and I both know that what you feel for me, and what we feel for you, is something different. You are such an amazing young woman that I can hardly believe that you would have feelings for someone like me.”

Ness’s eyes went wide, and her aura flared with hope again as I produced the fourth ring.

“Ness,” I said, “would you please do us all the honor of accepting this ring as a token of our love for you, and as a sign that we are all going to be partners, together, for life?”

Tears were streaming down her face once more, and the girls closed around her, Jules to one side and the twins behind and to the other. Fearfully, she looked first at Dean, and then at Cheryl, as if asking their permission. Dean was smiling and he nodded as she looked at him. Cheryl’s cheeks were as wet as Ness’s, but she smiled too when Ness caught her eye.

Trembling she reached into the box, plucked out the ring, and placed it on her finger. As I’d hoped, Jules had been right. It fit perfectly.

“Yes!” she said. Since she was already surrounded by the girls, I moved forward and completed the circle, surrounding the teen and bringing her into our family. I felt the twins’ powers flare in exaltation, blazing with love and happiness, and I added my own.


A little later, when the emotions had died down some, we sat on the deck. Ness was curled up on my lap. She was a little stunned at what had happened once we had allowed our powers to bleed away.

Amanda had been first to congratulate Ness.

“Welcome to the family,” she’d said, planting a gentle but telling kiss on Ness’s lips. Mary had been next, welcoming her, and kissing her in exactly the same way. Then Jules had taken mine and Ness’s hands and led us to a seat. She kissed me briefly and indicated I should sit before turning to Ness.

“Welcome to our new family,” she said. She kissed her too, then said, “Now spend some time with your new man.”

Ness climbed into my lap and looked up at me.

“Welcome,” I said, taking my turn to kiss her. When I broke the kiss, she rested her head on my shoulder, and sighed.

“Are you okay?” I asked her after she’d sat there for a moment.

“They kissed me,” she said.

“They love you,” I said.

“Will they… Will I…” she began.

“Nobody will do anything that you do not want,” I said, “and nobody will do anything before your eighteenth birthday. We already discussed that. After that, it’s up to you. You must have known that Mary and Amanda were attracted to you. Whatever happens, though, we love you, and it’s up to you how you choose for us to show you that. “

“Jules kissed me,” she said.

“Jules loves you,” I said. “She’s kissed you before, hasn’t she?”

“Not like that,” she said.

“She was letting you know that she loves you and is happy that you joined us.”

“I thought she…” she began.

“Jules is more complicated than that,” I said. “Most of her kisses are about love and belonging and family.”

“Most?” she asked.

“That’s a topic for another time.” I said, stroking her hair.

I could feel her tensing, like she was building up to something.

“Can I sleep with you?” she blurted out, so loud that everyone else on the deck looked over at us.

I chuckled. “Sorry, would you say that a little louder? There were some cows in the north pasture that didn’t quite hear.”

She blushed. “I mean just to sleep,” she said more quietly. “It felt so good that night I was in your bed, being with you and the girls.”

“Have you spoken to Jules about this?” I asked, and she nodded. “And?”

“She said something about a nervous system,” she said. “I didn’t really understand.”

“You heard of morning wood?” I asked her, and she nodded, blushing again.

“It’s a boy thing,” I said. “Happens to us all - mostly because we want to pee first thing, but there are other reasons too. You realize that if you share our bed that not only might you get prodded somewhere first thing in the morning, that no matter what, no matter how it makes you feel, you won’t be able to do anything about it - not with us, anyway. Of course, you will be free to go off and find your own entertainment.

“Also, there are going to be times when the girls and I are going to want to get intimate, and you can’t be there for that. Not yet.”

“What does Jules do when you and the twins get ‘intimate?’” she asked.

“That,” I said, “you will have to discuss with her. Knowing all that, do you still want to share our bed?”

She nodded.

“And will you promise that no matter what, you keep things between us PG until your birthday? No touching, no accidental snuggling up ‘in your sleep?’ I mean it, Ness. If I think you are pushing this, we are going to have to stop.”

She nodded again.

“Okay then,” I said. “Then yes, you can.”

“Tonight?” she asked, and I nodded.

“Can I tell people about us?” she asked.

“If you want,” I said, “but before you do, think about what exactly you are going to tell them, and what their reaction will be. Remember that you live in a very conservative society. If you, as a minor, went around telling people that you had joined a polyamorous relationship, I would guarantee that social services would be banging on your door within twenty-four hours with an order to take you into care.

“If you want to tell people that you have a boyfriend, then that is fine. You do. It’s going to be difficult for you when we go back to PSU, but you only have another six months or so of school left. What are you going to do after that?”

“I’ve been provisionally accepted to catering college,” she said. “It’s not too far from your house. Can I…”

“No,” I said. And she looked startled. I saw tears spring into her eyes, so I hastened to continue. “It’s not my house, its our house. You never need to ask. You are with us, and for as long as you want to be, there is a place for you wherever we are. Remember, though, that we will finish our education before you finish yours. The house will always be there for you, but I can’t guarantee that we will all be there full time. I think I may have to go to Quantico for a while if I get into the FBI.”

She nodded.

We sat for a while longer, just enjoying each other’s company, until it was time for me to go to bed. My parents and Dianna were coming over in the morning, and because they wouldn’t be there on Christmas day, we had decided that we would exchange gifts over the weekend. As usual, Dean had sent Gerry with the jet to collect them. He was overnighting near where my parents lived, would collect them first thing, and then go collect Dianna. They would likely be at the ranch by the middle of the next morning. I shuddered to think how much it was costing Dean.

I went and showered, changing into fresh boxers for the night. When I came out of the bathroom Jules and Ness were waiting for me.

“You said I could…” said Ness, and I smiled.

“I did,” I said, and climbed into bed. Ness followed and snuggled up against me. Jules climbed in behind her, leaving my other side clear for the twins when they decided to join us.

I flexed my power, covering us all in love, peace and relaxation. We slipped into sleep together.
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