“Hey. You’re not the same man you were. Thank God for that.” Edgard stood and held his hand out to Trevor. “Worrying about karma coming back to bite you in the ass won’t help us now.”
As soon as he was upright, Trevor tugged Edgard against his body and buried his face in Edgard’s neck. “I’m grateful every damn day that we have this life.”
“Me too. We knew goin’ into it, it wouldn’t be easy.”
“Some days I can’t believe we’ve all been together eight years. And other days, I feel like my life started when I met Chassie and you came back.” Trevor lifted his head. “Do you think we oughta cancel—”
Edgard covered his mouth with a brief kiss. “No. The three of us need the time together. Chassie will be relieved that we’d planned to keep Westin out of school tomorrow anyway.”
“So we’re all set?”
Trevor grinned. “Chass is really gonna be surprised.”
“I was surprised. It was a sweet, romantic thing to plan, Trev.”
“What can I say? You and Chassie bring out the best in me.” Trevor kissed him, more than a soft peck but less than the tongue tangling soul kiss he preferred. “Let’s go talk to our son.”
Edgard kept his hands on Trevor’s shoulders as they returned to the kitchen.
Chassie sat at the head of the table with Westin on her lap. He poked the marshmallows in his cup of hot chocolate.
They each took a seat beside Chassie.
“So I checked Westin’s workbook and he got one hundred percent.” She brushed his blond hair from his forehead. “Our smart boy also translated five words into Portuguese.”
Edgard said, “I’m proud of you,” in Portuguese, which brought Westin’s quick smile. Chassie and Trevor were learning the language, just not as fast as the kids.
“Maybe Papai oughta get me’n Mama a Portuguese workbook, so we don’t fall behind you and your sister.”
“I’d help you with it, Daddy. You too, Mama,” Westin added.
“I know you would, son. You’re a helpful, thoughtful boy.”
Everyone fell quiet.
“So someone said something to you at school today?” Edgard asked.
Westin looked up. His gaze winged between Trevor and Edgard. “He said you were faggots.”
Edgard’s stomach churned. “And you don’t know what that word means?”
“Huh-uh. But he said it like it was a bad word. Is it?”
That was truly the vilest F word—in Edgard’s opinion.
“It’s an ugly word that people who don’t understand love say to hurt someone’s feelings, and make them feel bad about who they love,” Trevor said softly.
Edgard covered Trevor’s restless hand with his and threaded their fingers together.
Chassie kissed the top of Westin’s head. “See how Daddy and Papai are holding hands? They love each other. Some people think that’s wrong. That two men shouldn’t love each other like that.”
“But why not?”
“We honestly don’t know.”
Trevor and Edgard reached for Chassie’s hands at the same time.
“And some people don’t think it’s right that your Daddy and I love each other, and we both love your mama, and she loves us both back,” Edgard said.
Westin silently poked his marshmallows again, his brow furrowed.
Edgard had no idea if any of this was making sense to him. Westin had three loving parents. He was used to seeing Papai kissing Mama and Daddy. It was normal for Westin and his siblings to witness the love and affection that all three of his parents had for each other. In what universe was that wrong?
“You’re kinda quiet. Do you have any questions?”
Westin shook his head. His blond hair fell across his forehead and Chassie lovingly smoothed it back.
“You sure?” Trevor prompted.
Those blue eyes were enormous when he asked, “He said I’m probably a faggot too. Am I?”
Chassie bit her lip and closed her eyes.
Old memories Edgard thought he’d buried long ago pushed to the surface. The taunts, jeers and accusations that’d been hurled at him since he’d turned thirteen. But Westin was so young, too young to understand why some kid he didn’t know felt entitled to say shit like that to him.
Trevor scooted closer and took Westin’s hand. “Can I tell you a secret? I used to be one of them mean kids who said words like that, mostly because I didn’t know what it meant. I said that kinda stuff because everyone else did. I’m ashamed of that now. It was wrong; it is wrong. Faggot, fag, homo—are all awful words that try to make love that’s special sound wrong. Do I know if you’ll fall in love with a boy or a girl when you’re older? Nope. But no matter who you fall in love with son, your love, the way you feel, won’t be wrong. And no one has the right to call you names for it.”
A lump formed in Edgard’s throat. There’d been a time he never would’ve believed that Trevor Glanzer was capable of feeling that way, let alone admitting it out loud.
“Mama, I’m tired.”
“I know you are. Give Daddy and Papai a hug and a kiss. Then I’ll tuck you in.”
“That’s okay, Chass. I’ll do it,” Trevor said and stood.
Westin clung to Chassie for a minute before he crawled off her lap and threw himself at Edgard. He squeezed the boy tightly and kissed the top of his head. “Love you, son. I’m glad you talked to us about this. You can talk to us about anything, you know that, right?”
He released the boy and Trevor scooped him up.
As soon as they left the kitchen, Chassie’s tear-filled eyes met his. “How can we...?”
Edgard lifted her onto his lap and cradled her to his chest. “I’ve got you. Cry if you want.”
“I hate to cry.”
“I know you do,” he soothed. He held her, resting his chin on top of her head, knowing once her frustration ebbed, Mama Bear Chassie would roar.
Chassie stayed quiet, her breath hard and fast.
“What’re you thinking about?” he asked after a bit.
“Dag. Havin’ to hide who he was. And you. Accepting who you were but havin’ to hide it to be with Trevor. And Trevor. Lying to himself about bein’ in love with a man. And me. Feeling smug because I have two men who love me. We decided to live the life we want, screw what anyone else thinks, right? Then I worry it’s unfair to our kids because they’ll have to deal with people around here who think we’re freaks. We—you, me and Trev—we’re somewhat isolated from those attitudes out here on the ranch. But Westin and Sophia and Max will have to face those attitudes every day when they go to school. I hate that this is just the start.” She sighed heavily against his chest. “Homeschooling them—”
“Is an option,” Edgard inserted, “but it isn’t something we need to worry about now. We answered Westin’s question. We reiterated that love between two men isn’t wrong, and neither is the love the three of us share. Most kids are lucky if they’ve got one good parent. Our kids have three great parents. They’ll grow up happy, Chass, because we won’t let them be any other way.”
“You’re right. It just stings when those crap attitudes hit us in the face through our sweet son.” She kissed the side of his throat. “I love you. Thanks for talkin’ me down and keeping me from crying. Lord. I’ve been weepy lately.”
Edgard tipped her chin up and looked into her eyes. “Is there something else—”
“I don’t know about you,” Trevor said as he entered the kitchen, “but I feel like beating the fuck outta my heavy bag.”
“Westin have any more questions for you?”
He shook his head. “He sacked right out.” He looked at Edgard. “So whatdya say, partner? Wanna go a few rounds?”
As much as Edgard like sparring with Trevor, he wasn’t feeling up to it tonight. And he didn’t want to leave Chassie alone. “Go ahead. I’ll get our woman tucked in and make sure she gets the rest she needs.”
Trevor’s eyes met his in understanding. “Good. I’ll be up in a bit.” He ducked down the stairs leading to the basement.
Chassie stood. “I need to shower first. So it’s okay if you wanna go pound on Trev.”
He waggled his eyebrows. “As much as I like pounding on him, maybe I’d rather scrub your back. I’m feeling a little dirty myself.”
“So what else is new?” They held hands as they climbed the stairs.
Their water games were mostly innocent. Edgard kneaded her tensed muscles. His relaxation techniques included caresses and soft kisses. He loved touching her, this woman who defined strength and softness. The depth of his feelings for her at the beginning of their relationship as a triad had surprised him. As did how easily and quickly they brought something to each other besides their love for Trevor.
She squinted at him. “You’re looking at me funny, Ed.”
“Just thinking about how much I love you.”
“You tryin’ to get me to cry?”
“No, querida, I’m trying to get you to smile. ’Cause I know how much you love bein’ reminded that me and Trev are wrapped around your little finger.”
Chassie grinned. “It is good to be me.”
After drying off and slipping on her pajamas, Chassie went to check on the kids one last time, like she always did, even if both he and Trevor had already checked them.
Then she crawled in bed and curled into him, like she did most nights. It’d never bothered him that she’d fall asleep in his arms and wake up in Trevor’s arms since Trevor had to have a hand someplace on Edgard’s body every night. A constant reassurance that he was really there.
Edgard started to drift off. He heard the shower kick on. Then the familiar scent of soap wafted out on a humid wave as Trevor exited the bathroom. The dresser drawer squeaked and he looked over to see Trevor slipping on a pair of flannel pants. Their days of sleeping in the nude had ended with three kids popping into their room any hour of the night.