David tossed and turned on his massively huge bed as he tried to sleep. Claire was tired out after a long flight as she wasn’t used to travelling like David was and fell asleep promptly after she hit the bed. David watched as she slept, wondering what she was dreaming about. He was tired too but the scent of lavender that filled the room was too overpowering for him, even after he had removed the baskets of dried flowers from the bedside tables and put them in the living room.
He turned again, got up to open the windows wider, got into bed, and closed his eyes. It didn’t work. Finally giving up trying to sleep, he sat up, fluffed his pillow and put it against the headboard. Leaning back on the pillow, he thought of ways to get back at Sam for torturing him with the scent.
“What’s the matter, honey?” Claire asked sleepily.
“How could you sleep with the scent suffocating you?” annoyed, he crossed his arms over his bare chest.
Claire chuckled and shifted closer to him so she could hug his waist and laid her head on his flat abdomen. “Urs was right to worry about you not being able to sleep,” she said as she idly traced a circle round his naval with a finger. She could feel his stomach muscles tighten and she grinned.
“Keep that up and you’ll not be getting any sleep as well,” he warned with a grin on his face, his hands now folded behind his head.
“Sam said I would be able to help you to sleep. Do you think I can?” With that, she replaced her finger with her tongue, going round and round his naval, and then followed the strip of body hair that led from the naval downwards.
“Claire…” David gasped as he reached for her head to stop her. Pinning his hands on his sides, she continued to please him. Sucking in deep breaths, he let her work her magic on him until he was almost bursting with pleasure.
Just before he lost control of himself, he grabbed her arms and pulled her up along the full length of his body, kissing her deeply before turning and pinning her underneath him. He returned the favor, making her wiggle and moan with pleasure. She wrapped her legs around his waist and he took her as they locked lips in a deep kiss, drowning out both her moans. Rocking gently together at first, the pace slowly increased until finally they felt the exquisite explosion of sensations coursing through their whole beings.
Satiated and breathless, they lay in each other’s arms listening to their hearts beating in the quiet of the night. Soon, David fell asleep with a satisfied smile on his face and Claire grinned as she watched him, until sleep took over her as well.
Claire had breakfast on the table by the time Amelia woke up. They spoke in whispers so as not to wake David and little Amelia even walked in tip-toe, making her mother smile. Asking her mommy to help carry Winnie, Amelia hugged Care Bear as they both went to the dining area. Placing her toys on a chair each, she got up on one of the chairs and ate the bowl of corn flakes that was placed there by mommy.
Claire sat and watched as her daughter ate her breakfast. She told her about the dinner they would be having at Uncle Urs’s place and the friends she would be meeting. Amelia was excited about meeting the little friends and wanted to wake David up so that they could get going but Claire stopped her. Instead, Claire distracted her with one of the toys in her room.
It was close to noon when David woke up. For a while he thought he was in a hotel room until he turned and saw the familiar painting on the opposite wall. Throwing back the cover, he got up and stretched, not bothered about being stark naked and the fact that the windows were wide open. He felt refreshed and the faint lavender scent didn’t get to him at all, until he walked into the bathroom. Taking the offending basket of dried flowers, he was about to empty it into the toilet bowl when Claire snatched the basket away from him.
“Oh no, you don’t! It’s Sam’s hard work and you’re not going to flush it down the toilet like that,” she admonished.
“But the scent is driving me nuts!” David argued.
“You’ll get used to it. Besides, you slept well last night, didn’t you,” Claire softened her tone and lightly ran her fingers across his broad chest.
Giving her a lope-sided grin and grabbing her waist, he whispered in her ears, “I’ll spare the flowers if you shower with me.”
“Ok, but make it a quick one before Amelia gets tired of playing on her own,” she said as she pushed him into the shower stall before removing her clothes and joining him. When they finally left the steaming hot bathroom wrapped in their new bathrobes, Amelia was already sitting on the bed waiting for them with both her toy friends.
“Can we go Uncle Urs’s house now?”
“Uncle Urs!” Amelia shouted the moment she was helped out of the car. She ran towards Urs and flung herself in his arms. Urs picked her high up and she laughed happily. Claire was surprised at how easily her daughter had taken to Urs.
“How’s our little Amelia? Do you like your room?”
Amelia nodded happily. Kissing the little girl before putting her down, Urs told her, “Say hello to Auntie Sam.”
She did as she was told and Sam gave her a kiss on her forehead, “Would you like to go play at the playground, Amelia?”
Amelia turned to her mother, “Mommy, can I?”
“In a minute, Amelia. Hi Sam, it’s so nice to finally meet you,” Claire said as she and Sam hugged like old friends before she turned to give Urs a hug. Somehow today she felt a little shy towards him. It was probably because she couldn’t stop thinking how good-looking he was in his red Harley t-shirt and worn-out jeans and was glad when David finally joined them and put his arm around her waist.
“That was a nice touch, Sam, the lavender flowers and color scheme,” David said a little sarcastically but Sam knew he wasn’t really angry.
Smiling sweetly, she replied, “I’m glad you like it, David. For a while I thought you might have trouble sleeping.”
“Nah, not at all. Slept like a log through the night.” He gave a smug look.
“Good job, Claire,” Sam winked at his fiancée. It drew a laugh from Urs as David’s face turned a darker shade of pink just like Claire’s, even though he was also laughing along with Urs. “Oh, I’m sorry Claire. This is how it is, the Divo family inside jokes,” Sam quickly explained, cursing her loose tongue.
Claire’s face broke into a smile and then chuckled. All this jesting had made her feel more at ease and she was grateful to Sam for breaking her into their circle so soon. They proceeded into the house where the Buhler kids waited patiently in the family room, each with their favorite toys or books. David introduced them to Auntie Claire and little Amelia.
“Well Angel, now you have another baby sister to take care of. Are you up to the task?” he asked Angel.
“Yes, Uncle David. Come, Amelia, let’s go play at the playground,” Angel went and held Amelia’s hand. Grace followed her sister and took Amelia’s other hand and they walked out the glass door that opened out to the garden where the playground was.
“They’re so sweet,” Claire exclaimed to David.
“Daddy, I want to build a sandcastle, please,” Tony pulled at his daddy’s hand, his other hand holding a bucket containing two spades.
Urs apologized to his guests. “I promised him this morning I’d help him build a sandcastle.”
Claire smiled at the sight of Urs and Tony walking out the glass door and giggled. “Tony looks like Urs’s mini-me,” she said.
“Sam must have been staring at Urs every night during her pregnancy with the twins while he was sleeping away,” David joked.
“Well, in that case, may I suggest that you don’t stare at David too much when you’re pregnant, Claire, unless you want your baby to have a goofy grin like his,” Sam countered.
Claire’s giggles turned to laughter as David looked hurt and stated annoyingly, “Are you trying to tell me I’m ugly?”
“I believe I only mentioned your goofy grin.”
By now Claire was in full-blown stitches and Sam looked on with amusement. Finally when Claire had managed to control herself, she wiped away her tears as she tried to explain. “I’m sorry, Sam. You guys are just too funny and once I start laughing I just can’t stop.”
“She’s known as Miss Giggler,” David added as he took Claire’s hand and she nodded with a sheepish grin. Sam could see how Claire had managed to break through David’s shell of depression and she found she liked the younger lady even more now. They chatted for a while before Sebastien and his family turned up.
Both David and Sebastien shared a manly hug before David embraced Ginny and kissed her on both cheeks.
“I see you’ve brought a friend here,” Ginny remarked as she looked at Claire with great interest.
“Two, one’s playing outside,” David nodded in the direction of the playground as both Ginny and Sebastien followed his gaze. He then introduced Claire.
Sebastien took both her hands and kissed them, then noticed the ring on her finger. Turning to David, he asked with a twinkle in his eyes. “Is that the five carat diamond ring that we’ve been telling Carlos to get for Joanne? Have you done something wrong, or is it an engagement ring?”
David grinned but said nothing. Ginny stepped forward and hugged the new member of the family. “Welcome to the Divo family, Claire. That’s a beautiful ring.”
“Thank you, Ginny,” Claire replied shyly. Ginny looked at David expecting him to say something but he just grinned. She turned to Sam but Sam just shrugged.
Shortly the Marins appeared. True enough, Carlos presented a bottle of fine champagne, plus a bottle of bubbly juice.
“I can understand the champagne, but what’s with the bubbly juice?” David asked.
“You’ll know soon enough,” Carlos replied before turning his attention to Claire. “Ah, this must be the lovely Claire.” He wriggled both his eyebrows as he took Claire’s hand and kissed it.
Claire giggled and looked up at David who only rolled his eyes at his friend’s cheesiness before he introduced Joanne. Joanne gave the younger lady a warm hug and welcomed her into the Divo family.
“So, do you think David and I make a better couple? Or is Joanne more suitable as my partner?” Carlos raised one eyebrow at Claire. She blushed profusely and looked at David with a worried frown. Carlos threw back his head in a booming laughter joined in by Sebastien and David. The other three Divo wives quietly chuckled to themselves knowing that Carlos was referring to Clair’s first impression of David and him.
“I’m so sorry, Carlos. I…I just…” Claire stammered embarrassingly.
“There’s nothing to worry about, Claire. We all enjoyed the little joke,” Carlos assured her.
“Alright children, time for dinner,” Urs announced to the little ones still playing. He and Tony had managed to build a fine-looking sandcastle; the only thing missing was a flag to stick at the top of the structure so he promised his son they’d shop for one the next time they went to town.
Lily and Nick had joined in some of the fun and all of them piled into the bathroom at the back of the house to wash up. Angel helped Amelia along as she wasn’t familiar around the house and the little girl was quickly learning to enjoy being in the company of little friends.
Before they all proceeded to the dinning room, Carlos said he had an announcement to make. So with everyone gathered in the family room, he wrapped an arm around Joanne’s waist and proclaimed loud and clear, “Joanne is pregnant!”
Gasps and then shouts of congratulations filled the room; hugs were exchanged and teasing words flowed back and forth among the adults. Amid all the noise, they heard the pop of the champagne as Urs opened the bottle and poured the drink into champagne flutes sitting on a serving table. Sebastien picked up the bubbly drink and poured it into some glasses as well and handled them to the little ones. Carlos went over and took one for Joanne.
“Ah ha! Now I know why we have the bubbly juice,” Sebastien exclaimed with a big grin.
Adults and kids then drank a toast to the happy couple even though the kids had no idea what the fuss was all about.
“I’m glad the three days with the kids didn’t scare you off having your own kids,” Urs remarked.
“Not at all. We had fun with them, didn’t we, Joanne?” Carlos turned and smiled at his wife.
“Yes. You should see how he handed the children,” Joanne said.
“What’s pregnant?” Gracie asked out of the blue.
“It means Auntie Joanne is having a baby in her tummy,” Lily explained matter-of-factly.
The adults looked on with amusement and waited to see who would come up with the next question. However, to their surprise and before anyone could react, little Tony ran up to Joanne and lifted her blouse up to her bra-line. Sebastien and David howled in laughter at the sight while Carlos looked on in horror.
“No, Tony! What do you think you’re doing?” An equally horrified Urs was half-way to his son when Tony turned around at the sound of his father shouting at him. Luckily Joanne was quick enough to pull her blouse back into place. The other ladies didn’t have time to react at all.
Tears welled up in little Tony’s eyes as he realized he had just done something wrong. Urs hardly ever raised his voice at his kids and when he did, it meant one of them was in trouble. “I want to see the baby,” he managed to utter before tears fell and he nibbled at his thumb nervously, quietly sobbing away.
“Oh no, don’t cry Tony. It’s alright, baby,” Joanne cooed, hugging Tony to her chest.
“Come, son. You can’t see the baby now as it’s still growing inside Auntie Joanne’s tummy,” said a much calmer Urs who was now trying to do damage-limitation. Tony allowed his father to lead him away from Joanne and listened attentively. “You will see Auntie Joanne’s tummy getting bigger and bigger as the baby grows inside her. She will give birth to the baby one day and then you’ll be able to see it,” he went down to his son’s height to explain very gently to him.
The others watched in wonder at the way Urs handled his child and Claire stole a look at Sam who was smiling approvingly at her husband. Then she turned to look at David who was also watching the interaction between father and son and she saw a look of admiration and envy on his face.
“Now, can you go and apologize to Auntie Joanne for lifting her blouse? That is something you shouldn’t do, Tony.” Urs wagged a finger at his son.
Nodding his head obediently, Tony walked over to Joanne, head lowered in shame and in his little voice apologized, “I am sorry, Auntie Joanne.”
Joanne hugged him. “It’s alright, Tony. How about a little blinky-wink for me?” And so Joanne got her first blinky-wink from Urs’s mini-me amid laughter from the group.
Soon they were told dinner was ready. Tony had to give up his high chair for Amelia and he didn’t mind. It made him feel like he had really grown up and he nodded happily when mommy explained to him the need to let Amelia have his chair.
Dinner was served by a catering team from an Italian restaurant. The past two days working at David’s apartment had tired Sam out so Urs decided to have dinner catered instead.
The dining room was abuzz with chatters among the adults and children and Claire felt a little lost at first. She didn’t know who she should be listening to and was constantly turning her head this way and that way trying to catch the conversation that was flying back and forth, until David took a fork and tapped on his wine glass.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I have an announcement to make,” he began.
Everyone stopped talking and looked at him expectantly, even the little ones too. Urs and Sam shared a knowing glance.
Turning to Claire, David smiled and held up Claire’s hand for a kiss. “Claire and I are engaged.”
“Hear, hear! The Divine One has finally spoken!” Sebastien teased as they raised their wine glasses for a toast.
Carlos got up and went over to give David a slap on his back and hugged Claire. “So now you know he’s not gay.”
“Mommy, what’s engaged?” Angel asked.
“I know,” Lily said as she put her hand high up in the air, “It means Uncle David and Auntie Claire are going to get married. Right, Mommy?”
Before Ginny could reply, Angel interrupted, turning to David, “Are you going to be Amelia’s daddy?”
David had a tender smile when he replied, “Yes, Angel, when Auntie Claire and I are married.”
Claire was a little apprehensive about the line of questioning from the kids, knowing how embarrassing it could turn out to be. She braced herself for the next question.
“Then will you still be our Uncle David,” Angel asked softly, looking worriedly at David.
Surprised by the question, Sam turned to look at Urs with a worried frown until David got up and went over to Angel and planted a kiss on her head. “Of course I will still be your Uncle David, Angel. I’ll always be Uncle David to you.” They shared a hug. “And yours too,” he said as he went around the table and hugged each of the other kids. Then he came to Amelia and he hugged and whispered, “and I’ll be your daddy.”
When David finally sat back down, Claire couldn’t resist giving him a smacking kiss on his lips. She was very impressed with how he handled the situation but most importantly, he showed he was really good with children, not just with Amelia.
“I think they need a room,” Sebastien winked at Ginny.
“Yes, one that’s full of lavender would be best,” was Claire’s cheeky comeback that got Urs and Sam chuckling and David looking embarrassed. The others had no idea what the lavender joke was about but they were amused at Claire’s spunkiness.
“That’s my fiancée you’re up against, Frenchie,” David finally recovered enough to bite back. Sebastien stuck his tongue out at him and laughed.
“One day you’re going to have to share the story about the lavender, Claire,” Joanne said, nodding her head as if she was talking to a little girl. Claire blushed.
Seeing how uncomfortable their new friend was, Sam stepped in. “Urs and I helped to decorated David’s pad before they arrived back and I changed the room into a lavender garden, you know, lavender sheets, curtains, towels, dried flowers…” she trailed off when the others had a look of enlightenment on their faces.
The talk then turned to questions about Joanne’s pregnancy and David’s engagement to Claire. It was lively and even Amelia couldn’t stop blabbering away with her new friends, especially Grace who sat next to her.
“Daddy, can we go swimming tomorrow?” Nick shouted at the top of his voice when Sebastien missed his question the first time he asked. Everyone stopped talking and turned to look at him. Seeing all eyes were on him, he knew he had done something wrong so with lowered eyes he waited to be reprimanded.
Sebastien was about to give him a stern talking to when Ginny stopped him with a shake of her head. Changing his tune, he asked quietly, “Why do you want to go swimming?”
“Because I can swim now and I want to show you,” Nick replied happily, glad that he was wrong about getting a scolding.
“I taught him how to swim,” Carlos supplied the information proudly.
“I hope the scratches on your back have healed, Carlito,” Sam gave him a sly look while Urs burst out laughing. So did Ginny and Sebastien since Sam had shared with them the little scene at the pool. David and Claire looked at each other, puzzled.
“Share the joke, Sam,” David begged.
“No, you can’t,” a horrified Joanne turned to Sam and pleaded. Carlos took a sip of his wine and waited for salvation. Still giggling, Sam did an action to seal her lips.
Turning to Nick, David asked, “What happened to Uncle Carlos at the pool?”
“Uncle Carlos had scratches on his back because he fell from his bed the night before we went swimming,” Nick answered.
Just like how he had choked in the pool, Urs was close to choking on his own saliva as he gasped for breath, unable to stop laughing. Sebastien by now was in hysterics as he bent low on his chair, holding on to his tummy as he laughed.
“That’s terrible, Uncle Carlos. I sure hope you’ve recovered from the ordeal,” David feigned concern and Claire, finally getting the joke, started giggling too.
It was a good ten minutes before order was restored at the table. The adults dabbed at their eyes with the corners of their napkins since none of them had dry eyes. Even Carlos and Joanne managed to break out in laughter at their own embarrassing moment.
“Alright, lets go swimming tomorrow,” Urs declared finally. Turning to David and Carlos, he asked, “You guys coming?”
Carlos, still chuckling, replied, “Let me check my back first.”
That started another round of madness at the table as Joanne gave her husband a few slaps on the arm.
That night while tucking Amelia into bed, David asked, “Amelia, can I be your daddy?”
Amelia stared at him for a moment before shaking her head. Turning over to face Winnie, she closed her eyes to sleep.
David was baffled. He had thought she would be very happy to be able to call him Daddy. His shoulder slumped a little as he looked at the little girl, wondering what he did wrong.
“It’s not about you, David,” Claire stood beside him and gently touched his shoulder. She was standing at the door when she heard what he said to her daughter. “It’s about her real father, who never really spent time talking or playing with her. To her, he was a total stranger. She’s probably finding it hard to relate you to the word daddy. Give her some time to adjust to her new life.”
David stood and hugged her, taking in her scent as he lowered his head to hers, “I know. I’ll wait.” Taking her hand, he led her to their bedroom. This time he didn’t have time to smell the flowers as Claire immediately set to work keeping him busy.
Early the next morning the swimming pool at the club house was filled with laughter from the Divo kids. There weren’t many other members at the pool that early on a weekday morning so they had the kiddy pool all to themselves, except for a family with twin boys who were left to play on their own while their parents chilled out on the deck chairs.
David jokingly inspected Carlos’ back before the Spaniard was allowed in the water, “to avoid Carlos feeling the sting from the pool water if there were fresh scratches” he explained to everyone. He got a slap up the side of his head from Joanne for his trouble.
Nick showed off his swimming skill to daddy and Sebastien was very impressed. Not that he had never tried to teach Nick how to swim but each time his boy would insist on using a float, being so afraid of the water.
Tony had graduated to the big pool with his daddy and the fearless little boy did a few jumps into the pool with daddy catching him in the water. Lily and Angel too were swimming in the deep pool with their mommies at their sides. Soon Nick joined them with the persuasion of Sebastien. Grace remained with Carlos and Joanne in the kiddy pool, with Amelia, Claire and David.
When the kids got tired of their swimming lessons, they were allowed to play in the water playground where there were water slides, two rocking horse and water-guns. David and Urs watched over them as the rest of the adults either did laps or just chilled out on the deck chairs.
Grace and Amelia were sitting on a rocking horse each when the twin boys came and shoved them off their rides. David and Urs were immediately on their feet and picking up the girls. David was especially angry at the boys’ behaviour and he stared at them and said sternly, “You shouldn’t have done that.”
The two boys took one look at his towering frame and ran shouting for their daddy. Daddy was a short, pot-bellied, almost bald man who was dragged by the boys to where David and Urs were still crouching down checking on their girls.
“What do you think you’re doing, bullying my kids?” short, bald Daddy demanded to know.
“Your kids shoved our girls off the rides first,” David retorted angrily as he pulled himself to his full height, blocking out the sun and casting the man in his shadow. Bald daddy stepped back a little and was about to say something when Urs turned up beside David, standing tall and looking menacing with his scowl. Deciding he was better off elsewhere, the older man quickly shoved his kids back to their mommy, occasionally turning back to look at the two hunks who were giving him their killer looks. Urs and David had a smirk on their faces as they watched the retreating beer keg.
Little Amelia then spoke up, “Are you my daddy?”
Surprised, David turned to her and replied, “Why, yes, Amie. I’ll be you daddy if you want me to.”
Breaking free from his hold, she ran all the way to where the twins were standing in front of their mommy and with hands on her hips, she shouted, “You are bad boys!” Then turning on her heels, she ran back to the safety of David’s arms as fast as she could. The twins didn’t even know what hit them as they stood staring at their mommy, mouths gaping.
David wasn’t sure whether to laugh or to tell Amelia off for her antics so he just stood where he was, staring at the little girl. Amelia looked up at him and smiled sweetly. “Daddy,” she called up to him.
As Urs chuckled quietly to himself, David was touched beyond words. Hugging Amelia, he whispered, “Thank you, Amie.”
By now the others had gathered around the playground, someone having seen the incident with the twins’ father and alerted the others, and they were there in time to witness this touching moment. The three married couples had their arms around each other as they watched Claire went up and hugged both her girl and her fiancé, feeling immensely happy for David that Amelia had accepted him as her father.
The kids were allowed to play for a little while longer before they all headed to the shower. On the way to the shower, they had to pass by the fat, bald man and his family. He and his kids gave them all a wide berth while mommy, a thirty-something blonde with a figure and looks that had seen better days, ogled at the men as they passed.
The album was ready to be released. Il Divo set to work charming the socks off their fans with interesting tv interviews and short appearances outside the studios. They politely and happily signed autographs, posed with fans for photographs and chatted with them. The promotional tour started in the UK and would expand to the US and Canada, and a few European countries, before they got down to the serious business of preparing for another smashing world tour.
Sam, Ginny and Claire opted to stay home with the kids while the men promoted their albums in major cities in the UK. Joanne had to fly back to Spain to fulfill her obligation to Mr Santos as a commentator of a current affair program. Though she would rather be with her husband, she relished the challenge of working on such an informative program.
Carlos was of course reluctant to let her go back to Spain on her own. However, with the persuasion of the other band members and the assurances from two experienced fathers who said Joanne would be fine, he finally saw her off at the airport, but not before packing a few pregnancy books that Urs had given him into her luggage.
By now Claire and Amelia had gotten used to life in London, having had lots of help from the three Divo wives and the kids. They were invited to lunch, tea and even shopping trips where the Divo wives just bought anything they fancied, but of course with good sense and taste.
Claire wasn’t used to spending money like that and felt even more uncomfortable spending David’s money. He had given her a credit card and had set up a savings account for her allowance, and another account for their household expenses. She told Sam and Ginny about it when they went shopping and remarked that she didn’t need that much money to get by each day.
“You’ll never know, Claire. Being a Divo lady, you need to act the part. The guys are classy and elegant and with them having such a high profile in public, we as their wives or fiancée need to complement them too so that they could be proud of us,” Ginny explained.
“Don’t worry about spending some of David’s money. You’ll never burn a hole in his pocket just by buying a few nice dresses, bags, shoes and even a few pieces jewelry. He wants to pamper you but he’s too busy to do that so we’ll help him out,” Sam winked and led her into a boutique.
By the end of the day when they all piled into Sam’s car, Claire had five big shopping bags of clothes, bags and shoes, not just for herself but for Amelia as well. The other girls had each got two bags; they bought a couple of nice lingerie and some winter clothes for themselves and their kids. They headed to Ginny’s place where all the kids were being cared for by her part-time housekeeper, just in time for dinner.
When she logged on to the video chat at night after putting Amelia to bed, Claire confessed to David about the shopping spree.
“I’m sorry for spending so much money, David, but Ginny said I have to look my best now that I’m a Divo lady and Sam said you wouldn’t mind,” she looked so guilty that David almost felt sorry for her.
“Hey, you’re going to be my wife soon. What’s wrong with spending some of my money? I wouldn’t have given you the credit card if I didn’t want you to spend my money. Tell me what you bought.” He cleverly diverted her attention away from the guilty feeling. Relieved that he wasn’t angry at all, Claire listed the stuff that she bought.
“That’s all? I thought you’d bought the whole boutique,” he teased. Then in a more serious note, “You know, I can’t wait to see those dresses you bought. I want you and Amelia to give me a fashion show when I’m back, but leave the lingerie till when she’s asleep. They are for my eyes only.” He added the last sentence with a devilish smile.
That night Claire went to bed with a smile on her face and hugging David’s pillow. David, on the other hand, had a long, cold-shower before bed, which he immediately regretted as the weather was turning cold.
For the tenth time, Carlos dialed Joanne’s number but still nobody picked up the phone. It was morning and Il Divo had an afternoon show to do so he decided to call Joanne to see how she was coping. She had sent him a text the night before saying that she was tired after a day of recording in the studio and would talk to him the next day. That was what got Carlos so worried as it wasn’t like her to ignore his calls, except for the time when they were fighting.
Finally the phone got picked up, only that it wasn’t Joanne who spoke over the phone, it was a man.
“Joanne is in the shower, Carlos,” said a man’s voice.
“Who’s that?” Carlos was too surprised that someone else had answered his wife’s call while she was showering to think where he had heard the voice before.
“What do you mean who’s that? I’m your Papa or have you forgotten your old man?” Papa Marin sounded incredulous that his son couldn’t even recognize his voice.
Releasing a breath of relief, Carlos apologized to his father, “I’m sorry, Papa. I didn’t know Joanne is with you.”
“And who did you think I was?” Not really wanting to hear his son’s answer to that, Papa continued, “She came back here after doing some shooting in the studio last night. She should be out of the shower very soon.”
“Ok, can you tell her I call?”
“What’s the matter? You don’t even want to talk to your Papa or Mama anymore?” Carlos Senior pretended to be angry. He knew his son was just being anxious about his wife judging from the tone of his voice.
“It’s not like that, Papa. I’m just worried about Joanne. She’s now carrying my baby and she has to work…”
“Calm down, son. She’s doing fine, just a little tired from last night. Your Mama will take good care of her, don’t you worry about it. In fact, she’s now cooking your wife’s favorite dishes. Soon you will not recognize her anymore because she will put on some weight,” Papa Marin laughed at his own joke.
Father and son had a little chat before Joanne finally appeared. Papa handed over the phone to her and said with a wink, “Your over-anxious husband wants to talk to you.”
The moment Joanne answered the phone, she was bombarded with questions, “Are you alright? Papa said you’re tired. How’s the baby? Is it kicking yet?”
“Hold on, Carlos! You’re making my head swim. Just tell me you love me and everything will be fine,” Joanne laughed over the phone.
“I love you.”
“I love you, too, Carlito, but you have to stop worrying about me. I’m in good hands now.” Joanne went on to talk about her studio recording schedule and mentioned that she would meet up with him in two weeks’ time when she had a break from recording. It coincided with Il Divo’s break from the promotional tour before heading to the States.
Carlos asked if she had been reading those books that Urs had passed on to them. Joanne smiled, “Yes, darling. I read them every night before I sleep. Ask me any question on pregnancy and I’ll answer it for you.”
Carlos struggled to come up with an appropriate question and finally managing in his sexy stage voice, “Tell me how we can make love when your tummy gets bigger.”
Laughing at her horny husband, she tried to reply in all seriousness. “I don’t know how to explain it over the phone. Wait till we get together and I’ll show you how.”
Carlos smiled, “I’ll be counting down the days till we’re together again. Where would you like to do it this time?”
“Carlos!” she giggled, “Seriously, you’re going to be a father soon. Behave!”
Laughing in his sexy deep baritone voice, Carlos finally said he had to go and prepare for the afternoon show. Two weeks. He had to wait that long to see her again. He shook his head as he changed out of his bathrobe. Since when had it ever bothered him so much that they would be apart for a few weeks? They had always managed to stay connected with each other through the phone until they met again, but this time it felt different. He felt lonely without her. He was in love all over again.
Ginny and Sam got through the few weeks without their husbands without any problem at all. They frequently met up for tea with the young ones in tow when their older kids had to attend classes and they never forgot to include Claire and Amelia. They could tell Claire was getting more comfortable with her new life and status and they appreciated her humbleness and bubbly character.
Amelia had become fast friends with Grace and they shared their toys with each other. Nick, being the slightly more wayward child, had tried a couple of times to bully Amelia into submission but the spunky girl soon put him in his own place by retaliating. Twice, Nick was sent to the naughty corner for his bullying antics. Amelia, though, had to take time-out once for disobeying her mother’s warning not to hit back at Nick. Now Nick steered clear of Amelia and Amelia learnt to catch the adults’ attention when being bullied instead of taking matters into her own hands.
Joanne often kept in contact with Sam and Ginny, though she had spoken with Claire over the phone a couple of times when Claire called to ask how she was dealing with the pregnancy. Joanne appreciated the gesture and knew without a doubt that David had found a gem in Claire. Besides baby talk, they chatted about their men too of course. They traded jokes about them and soon, Claire was made to elaborate on the story about the lavender, which made Joanne laugh.
“Sam and David have a special relationship that was brought on by her closeness with Sandra,” Joanne revealed to Claire. “So, naturally, when Sandra passed on, Sam was the one whom David depended on most to get through his darkest hours. Urs was there too, as he and David are closer to each other, while my over anxious husband and Seb make a good Latino pair.”
“Can you tell me more about Sandra?” Claire asked, a little tentatively as she wasn’t sure if any of the girls minded talking about her.
So for the next half an hour, Joanne told Claire what she knew of Sandra, what she had observed from their time spent touring with the guys during the last Il Divo world tour. Claire came to the conclusion that if Sandra were alive today, there would be no way that she, Claire, could have come between the couple had she met David then as the bond he shared with Sandra was so strong and unbreakable. It had taken a cruel fate to bring her and David together and she vowed she would do every thing in her power to make him happy and love him with all her heart.
That thought made her recall his look of envy when Urs was explaining to Tony what pregnancy meant. Was the envy because of Urs’s parenting skills, or did he envy Urs for his children? If it was the children, was she ready to have children with him? That night, while chatting with David over the video chat, she brought up the subject.
“David, I know you’re probably tired from all those appearances, but we need to talk,” she began.
“I’m all ears, my little Miss Giggler,” he sounded cheerful, but deep inside he was worried. What if she wanted to go back? He constantly regretted not having enough time to spend with her and Amelia before the promotional tour started and worried that they might have difficulty adapting to life in London without him.
Amid giggles, she asked, “Do you want to have more children?”
David looked stunned. He hadn’t expected her to ask such a question since they had not even got around to discussing about their wedding. He was quiet for a while.
Seeing the surprised look, Claire was momentarily taken aback. “Hey, what’s that look for? It’s not a difficult question is it? If you haven’t thought about it, we could discuss this at a later date.”
“No, no. I’m just surprised that you asked. I thought perhaps you’d like us to get married first before we have our own children.”
“That would be nice, but I just thought this would be one of the things we should be discussing about, apart from the wedding. I mean, who knows, you might want half a dozen kids and I’m only prepared to give you a third of that,” she tried to lighten up the discussion. In reality, she felt awkward asking such a question.
Looking very seriously into the webcam, he said, “A third of half a dozen means two. So if I want four I would have to ask for a dozen, right?”
“Four? Why would you want so many?” Her eyes widened in horror.
“So together with Amelia we would have five children and none of the guys, I think, could top that,” he grinned.
“You can’t be serious, baby bear!” she exclaimed.
“Why not? And stop calling me baby bear by the way,” he looked annoyingly at her which brought a smile to her lips. “Amelia would have her little army of brothers and sisters to back her up when she came upon the pot-bellied man and his twins.”
She giggled. “Can we just settle for two? Amelia and two more, just like what Sam and Urs have, Angel and the twins.”
“Well, someone told me a relationship is about compromise, so yes, we’ll settle for two more. When can we start production?”
“David, I’m not a production machine!” she squealed at him indignantly which made him laugh. “But to answer your question, I’d like to wait till we’re married. I want to be able to fit in a nice wedding gown and not worry about morning sickness in the middle of walking down the aisle.”
Pleased that she was looking forward to start another phase of their lives together, he gladly agreed to wait. They went on to talk about the wedding and decided that the break between the promotional tour and the world tour would be a good time. David told her to go ahead and ask the other girls to help with the planning as he would be busy travelling. They would look at what she had planned when they took a break before flying to the States for the album promotion.