Six weeks had gone by and Il Divo had covered the main cities in the UK and some parts of Europe to promote their new album, The Promise. The week that it was released in the UK, it shot up to the number one spot in the UK music chart. Soon, it made it to the top of the charts in other countries as well. No one was as pleased with that as the four men who made up the group, except perhaps Simon Cowell, who was the group’s creator. It was his vision and immaculate planning that made the Il Divo project a success, but it was also the Divos themselves that made the impossible dream come true for them all. Their hard work and professionalism paid off and even so they never let stardom and success get to their heads.
The guys happily boarded the flight back to London on the last day of their tour, except Carlos, who headed to Spain. They had decided to take commercial flights as opposed to their previous tour when they had a plane chartered to fly them around. According to Urs, that was a more eco-friendly way to travel and the other guys agreed.
On board the plane, they were largely left alone even though they had fans travelling on the same flight as well. Even some of the flight stewardesses were in a daze coming face to face with their favourite Divos. One particular stewardess was finding it hard especially to concentrate on her job as she served David his drink. Her hands shook badly as she poured him his drink.
“I’ll do it myself, Lisa,” he looked at her name tag and smiled. Quickly taking the can of soda from her before she spilled the drink on him, he poured the content into the glass containing some ice.
“I’m…sorry,” Lisa stuttered shyly. David could see she was upset for having embarrassed herself and immediately set to work making her feel at ease.
“No worries. So how long have you been flying? And I don’t mean how many hours today, if you know what I mean,” he grinned.
That calmed her down somewhat and she began to tell him about this new job that she had taken up a few months ago. David nodded attentively as she went on to tell him how this was her first job after she left college and how she enjoyed listening to Il Divo songs.
“Thank you for your support, Lisa,” David smiled pleasantly. Lisa could feel her knees buckle underneath her as she held on to the headrest of the seat in front of him.
“I…umm, it would be nice to have a picture taken with you but I’m not allowed to do that,” she confided with a wistful look.
“Well then, maybe when we’ve landed,” he offered. So it was when the flight touched down at the airport, David remained in his seat while everyone got off. Sebastien asked if he was coming along and his reply was, “No, I left something behind and they’re flying me back to get it.”
Sebastien rolled his eyes as he followed behind Urs. “Crazy Yank,” he muttered.
David hurriedly had a couple of pictures taken with Lisa and her colleagues before getting off the plane. He couldn’t wait to get back to Claire and Amelia and his lavender-looking and lavender-smelling room. He absentmindedly wondered if Claire had changed anything. Strangely, he missed the lavender.
“Daddy!” little Amelia shouted when David stepped into the apartment. She flung herself into his arms and he held her up and kissed her.
“How’s my little Amie?” he asked as he looked into her eyes, a tender smile on his face.
“Daddy, I’ve completed a puzzle,” she pointed to a jigsaw puzzle on the living room floor. It was a twenty-piece puzzle meant for children from the age of four and she had completed it without any help.
“That’s very clever of you, Amie. Where’s mommy?”
“She’s in the bathroom,” Amelia replied. Putting the girl down, he told her to go play on her own while he went to greet mommy.
Walking into his bedroom, he could hear the flow of water from the shower and putting down his bag, he quietly opened the bathroom door. He stood watching Claire as she showered, her back facing him.
Leaning against the closed door, arms crossed in front of his chest, he announced, “I’m home.”
Claire turned around sharply in surprise and her face slowly broke into a smile, “Well, are you just going to stand there or are you waiting for an invitation?”
Moving away from the door, he removed his clothes and slowly sauntered towards her, wearing nothing but a smirk on his face. “Let’s see how much you miss me.”
Claire welcomed him with open arms. They squeezed the life out of each other with a tight embrace and kissed till they were breathless. With a groan deep in his throat, David backed her up against the wall and let his hands explore her body with urgency as they continued kissing. It was all Claire could do to stay upright as he assaulted her senses with hands and lips.
Soon the touching and kissing wasn’t satisfying enough for both of them and turning off the shower, David hurriedly grabbed a towel and wrapped Claire in it. Picking her up effortlessly, he carried her to their bed and continued where he left off, but this time the pace became even more frantic and she was more than ready for him.
“Mommy, Daddy, can we go out and play?” Amelia stood and shouted outside the bedroom door, holding her toy friends in each hand.
Paradise came crashing down around them and David looked incredulously at Claire, halting his conquest in mid action.
“Did you lock the door?” Claire whispered.
“Oh my goodness!” she almost shrieked as she pushed him off of her and grabbed the towel from the floor. Wrapping herself, she was almost at the door when she remembered he was still lying on the bed, stark naked. “Wear something,” she hissed.
He looked annoyingly at her, “What?”
Thinking how boyish and endearing he looked with the irritated scowl, she giggled as she went into the bathroom to retrieve his bathrobe and threw it at him, “This!”
“You owe me one,” he pointed a finger at her before putting on the robe, no longer annoyed but finding it all very funny.
Carlos stepped off the plane and immediately got into a cab. Telling the cabby his destination, he sat back and relaxed. Soon he stood in front of the front desk at the lobby of the tv station where Joanne was recording.
“Carlos Marin,” he gave his name to the receptionist. He had called earlier to inform the producer of Joanne’s show that he was coming over to watch his wife’s recording and Juan Pablo happily appeared to welcome him. They chatted as they made their way to the studio where Joanne was filming and Carlos stood in the background observing his wife.
Joanne wrapped up the topic discussion for the week in front of the camera and when it was all over, she looked up to see a familiar face. Standing up from where she was, she quickly walked over to him, careful not to trip on any equipment or wires. They embraced and kissed amid stares from guests and production crew members.
“Are you ready to go?” he whispered in her ears, sending shivers of anticipation up her spine. Nodding her head, she turned to bid her colleagues goodbye. They headed to her dressing room to retrieve her belongings before leaving for their apartment. Once inside the comfort of their home, Carlos took her in his arms again.
“Is everything ok? Are you over-worked?” he asked worriedly.
“Everything’s fine,” she assured him before kissing him.
Breaking free from her lips, he uttered, “Really?” then proceeded to touch her stomach gently, trying to feel the baby’s movement. “Has the baby moved yet?”
“Just a little fluttering. Soon you’ll be able to feel it,” she said as laid a hand over his.
“Have you gone for your medical? What did the doctor say?”
“He said everything’s fine. You should come along to the appointment on Friday to see the sonograms.”
Carlos nodded before leading her into their bedroom. Gently removing her clothes, he led her into the bathroom and filled the bathtub with water, adding some bath oil in the process. Getting out of his clothes, he got into the tub and held out his hand for her. Climbing in, she sat down with her back facing him as he gently massaged her shoulders. Joanne sighed, closing her eyes and enjoying the attention that her husband was showering her. His hand trailed down to her stomach and lightly massaged it, all the while whispering words of love in her ears. Joanne could hardly contain herself as his breath on her skin made her shiver in delight.
Getting out of the tub, he wrapped her up in a towel and carried her to the bed, gently laying her down. Her eyes darkened with desire as he slowly trailed kisses from her face down to her neck and body. Removing the towel, he placed a hand on her stomach and gently touched it, his face a look of wonder. She smiled. He couldn’t wait to feel his baby’s movement. How sweet, she thought.
Placing a kiss on her stomach, he whispered in Spanish, “Daddy’s home, little one.” Moved to tears at the tenderness he was showing to the baby and herself, she pulled him up for a kiss that left no doubt as to how much she loved him. They spent the next hour gently exploring each other’s body and she didn’t forget to demonstrate to him how they could make love when her stomach expanded. They both enjoyed the new position very much.
It was almost noon when Carlos woke up to an empty bed. When he finally appeared in the living room, he saw Joanne curled up on the sofa reading a pregnancy book.
“Good morning, my precious wife and baby,” he kissed her lips and touched her stomach.
“Breakfast is now lunch. I’ll go warm it up for you.”
He held her back and suggested they eat out and do some shopping for baby stuff. “We need to prepare the baby room here.” So off they went looking for lunch and doing some shopping.
Angel looked forward to her fourth birthday and was busy planning her party with her mother even before Urs came back from the tour. It was only a less than two weeks away now and she was getting excited. Invites were sent to the other Divo families and of course, Urs’ family members and her classmates.
The first week he was back from the promotional tour, besides running errands for the party, Urs spent the whole week working till late to build a tree house on top of the big old tree at the back of their house as a birthday gift to Angel.
Sam helped him out as he sawed and hammered away in the garden. More than once he caught her staring at him and he smiled to himself. All these years of being married to the Swiss Rock God did nothing to dampen her love and admiration for him at all, and she never ceased to feel in awe of the beautiful physique of her gorgeous husband. In fact, the sight of his bare torso glistening with sweat and those taut muscles rippling in his muscular arms was enough to send her imagination into overdrive and she was finding it hard to concentrate on the job at hand.
“Later,” he gave her a blinky-wink when he caught her staring at him with a dreamy look again and passing the wrong tool to him. Sam could only smile sheepishly at him which made him laugh.
“You should be arrested for looking so drop-dead gorgeous,” Sam pretended to be annoyed.
“And you should be arrested for sexual harassment with your eyes,” he replied as he strutted towards her. Grabbing her by the waist, he gave her a deep and passionate kiss that left her breathless. Releasing her with an amused grin, he turned to put the finishing touches to the tree house.
The twins had fun decorating the house with Sam’s help after it was painted. There were three big colourful cushions on the floor which was covered by a rug; a small coffee table was placed in the middle of the house. A small cabinet with a writing desk attached to the side covered one wall while next to another wall stood a small bookshelf. The house was big enough to hold up to six children. Angel couldn’t wait to show it off to her friends on her birthday.
Urs warned her not to let more than six children up the house at the same time. “I know, Daddy. I’ll make them line up down there if there are more than six,” Angel replied wisely. “Daddy, can I have a cd player here? I need some music.”
Urs thought for a while, “A portable one that runs on battery should do because I’m not going to fix any electricity here. It’s not safe.”
“You have to let me or Daddy know when you come here, sweetie,” Sam instructed her. Turning to the twins, she told them, “And you two should not get up here without asking your sister for permission, understand?” The little ones nodded their heads and were led down the treehouse by their mother via the wooden stairs that Urs had built.
That night after dinner, Sam sat with the twins and helped both of them make a card for their sister. Grace drew a flower on a piece of drawing paper folded into a card while Anthony drew a bumble bee resting on the flower. Mommy helped with the words by spelling for them “Happy Birthday, Angel. Love Anthony and Grace” and they were both very proud of their creation. Grace wanted to give it to Angel immediately but Mommy stopped her, saying she should wait till the actual day to give it to her.
While Sam was helping the twins, Urs was spending time with Angel.
“So, you’re going to be four this Wednesday. How do you feel about it?” he asked as they sat at her desk. She was making a sign for her tree house and Daddy was helping her.
“Very happy. I can’t wait till my friends are all here on Wednesday. I want them to see my tree house,” her eyes lit up when she talked about the tree house. They discussed what colours to use for the letters on the sign that said, “Angel’s Lodge”. Earlier the whole family had a lively discussion over dinner on what name to give to the house and after a few suggestions, Angel decided to go with Sam’s. Urs pulled a face as he was sure his suggestion was much better and tried to influence Angel to use the name he suggested.
“Daddy, I don’t like Angel’s Den. It sounds weird,” she reasoned.
“Urs, just because your home on the Il Divo forum is called the Den, it doesn’t mean your daughter’s home should be called a den too,” Sam remarked with a smugness that irritated him.
“Alright, you win. I just thought that after all the hard work I put into building the house, I should at least have the honour of naming it,” he shrugged, pretending to be hurt.
“Oh Daddy, please don’t be angry,” Angel quickly walked over to him at the head of the table. Giving him a hug, she told him, “I love the tree house, but I love you more. So, I will use Angel’s Den.” She gave him a peck on the cheek.
“Thank you, Angel. But I was just teasing you. Angel’s Lodge sounds nicer.” Hugging his eldest daughter, he looked over at Sam and gave her another winky-blink. It caused the butterflies to flutter in her stomach as it did earlier.
When all the little ones were soundly asleep, Urs and Sam retreated to their own room. Sam filled the Jacuzzi tub with warm water and added scented bath oil before telling Urs to get into the tub with her. Together, they let the powerful jet massage their tired muscles as they sipped hot chocolate and chatted about some mundane stuff. The relaxing bath had done them a lot of good, especially to Urs as he had been working non stop to get the tree house ready.
The moment they got into bed, Sam climbed on top of him and straddled him before kissing him passionately. Pushing her back a little, Urs chuckled, “Really Sam, what’s the hurry?”
“It’s your fault for looking so yummy working out there. Besides, you promised.”
“Um-hmm.” She moved her lips to his neck.
“Say please,” he smiled secretly.
In a husky tone she whispered into his ear, “Please.”
Immediately, he turned over and brought her underneath him. Starting from her face, he slowly kissed his way down before moving back up to claim her completely.
Sebastien took his family back to Paris to visit his mother and relatives on the first week as it was his mother’s birthday. They stayed in their own property there and went sight-seeing and visiting. The children had a great time with their relatives and they even had the chance to show off their French-speaking skills. Sebastien had made sure they learn some French words every night before they sleep and that had paid off well as they were able to understand and made simple conversation. Even Ginny had picked up the language from her husband.
He had been very glad to be back with his family and being with Ginny again made him forget about his tiredness from the constant travelling. Lily and Nick had become more obedient, Ginny had told him. They were getting fewer trips to the naughty corner and Ginny had attributed it to her husband’s sterner approach to dealing with their tantrums and antics and she decided to reward him handsomely one night.
It was a night that made him smile all throughout the next day and the kids benefited from his happy mood. He took them shopping for toys and clothes and even Ginny was surprised at how many things they had bought. Before they stopped for tea, he took them into a boutique and whatever Ginny touched, he wanted to buy for her. Two designer bags later, Ginny decided her husband was going overboard and told him so.
“But honey, I hardly have time now to pamper you, especially when the tour starts. Buy whatever you want, you deserve it.”
“Daddy, can I have this bag?” Lily picked up a designer backpack and asked.
Without looking at the bag, he said yes.
”No,” said Ginny as she looked incredulously at her husband. Lily of course wasn’t very pleased but she could do nothing about it except to give her daddy a doleful look.
Whispering to his wife, he said, “It’s just one bag.”
“That one bag costs a few hundred Euros. What parents in their right minds would buy that for a kid? I’m not going to let you pamper her and turn her into a brat. And I don’t want her to go to school carrying such an expensive bag. It’ll just give the parents of the other students the impression that we are showing off our wealth and status. That is not what I want our children to be, show-offs. I want them to be humble and down-to-earth.”
After processing what his wife just said, Sebastien turned to Lily and told her, “I’m sorry, Lily, but your mother is right. We can’t buy that bag because it’s too expensive and it’s not suitable for school.”
“But I can use it outside of school,” Lily argued.
“It’s not meant for little children, Lily,” Sebastien reasoned. “You will get a bag if you like, but not an expensive one like this.”
“But Mommy is getting two expensive bags,” Lily was close to tears and she didn’t care if she was sent to the naughty corner.
“Mommy took good care of you and Nick while I’m gone. She deserves a little pampering. Besides, Mommy worked hard and saved money. Mommy can afford to buy these bags on her own if she wanted to. But you are still a child. Can you afford to pay for this?” Sebastien reasoned again patiently, his look unwavering even as tears fell from Lily’s eyes.
Seeing how upset Sebastien was over his daughter’s disappointment, Ginny decided to help him out, “Let’s go eat something, shall we? I’m hungry.” Taking each child by the hand, she led them out of the boutique.
Back in their own home, Sebastien sent the kids off to their rooms to play with their new toys. Lily was still sulking but Sebastien decided to let her be. He couldn’t fault Ginny’s parenting method and he certainly didn’t want to counter her decision.
Walking into their room, Ginny was just sitting on the bed, expecting him. She had been quiet throughout the ride home after deciding to grab some light snacks for tea. Sebastien knew there was no escaping a lecture from his wife. He closed the door and went to sit down next to her.
“Ok, I was wrong. I shouldn’t have said yes to Lily. Am I forgiven?”
“Please be mindful of the values you want to impart to our kids, Seb. They are young, they need to be guided in the right direction. I try so hard to rein in our kids but each time you’re home after touring, you spoil them with expensive gifts that they don’t need at all, or say yes to everything they ask for,” Ginny sounded exasperated. Then calming down a little, she continued, “But having said that, I must commend you for being firm with Lily.” She turned to smile at him.
“So I’m forgiven?” it was his turn to give the pupp-dog eye look.
“I’m not really angry with you, Seb. I just wanted to make sure that we’re on the same page where our kids are concerned. I’m not trying to be difficult with you and I apologize if I made you look bad at the store. I think I may have over-reacted a little just now,” she looked a little sheepishly at him.
Pulling her close, he planted a kiss on her forehead, “You were right as usual. That bag was way too expensive to be carried by a little girl. I must learn to think before I say yes to our children.”
To make it up to Lily who was still sulking during dinner, Sebastien gave a solo performance on the piano, playing and singing the songs he wrote and recorded before joining Il Divo, the songs that were released on his solo album, Libre. Lily and Nick danced to some of the tunes with mommy and all was well again in the Izambard household.
That night after putting the kids in bed, Ginny showered Sebastien with lots of attention, starting off with a shower where she helped to scrub his back. Then when they got into bed, she gave him a long, hard kiss that sent his mind reeling and his body asking for more. And once again, Sebastien was rewarded for being the best husband and daddy in the world by his wife.
David was totally hijacked by Amelia when he returned home. She demanded his attention almost all the time, from the morning bathroom routine to the nightly rituals of washing up and tucking into bed. She stuck to him like his little shadow and he couldn’t even run an errand without having her screaming for him to take her with him. More than once she was ordered to the naughty corner by Claire and David had supported her mother’s decision by ignoring her cries.
“It’s going to be difficult for her when you start working again,” Claire told him one night when they cuddled up in bed.
“She’ll get used to it, don’t worry.”
“You have to stop spoiling her by being at her beck and call.”
“Yes, ma’am.” And he got a whack on the stomach.
“We need to discuss about the wedding.”
There was silence. She turned to look up at him and found that he had his eyes closed and was snoring loudly. Giggling, she pinched his nose, “David Miller, don’t you dare fall asleep on me!”
He opened his eyes and grinned. They had a brief discussion about the wedding, with David suggesting to let a wedding planner do all the work as he would be too busy with the promotional tour which would take up another six weeks before a month-long break. After that they would start preparing for the world tour.
“Maybe we should wait till after the tour,” Claire suggested.
“No. I don’t want to wait that long. In fact, if I have time I’ll do it right now.” He hugged her tightly to him.
Knowing what was on his mind, she decided to go along with his suggestion. They would hold the wedding in Colorado where his parents live, the place where he grew up in. They also discussed Claire’s apartment and decided to leave it for the time being as they didn’t have much time for that. They would go house hunting after the tour. That was all they managed to discuss before they were distracted by the more pressing need to love each other with their bodies.
The next morning, they contacted the wedding planner recommended by Claire’s sister in the States and made arrangements to meet up when Il Divo went there for their promotional tour. Claire and Amelia were to follow the group over there so that Claire could work with the wedding planner while David charmed the US audience with his Divo brothers. They had a few ideas in mind and she would put that across during the discussion with the planner.
Taking Claire’s hand in his, David searched her eyes for some indication of her true feelings. “We won’t have much time after the wedding for a honeymoon, Claire. I’ll make it up to you after the tour, I promise.”
“David, me and Amelia will be traveling with you while you tour the States. That’ll be the best honeymoon a girl could have, being able to see so many cities and hear four gorgeous and fabulous men sing in so many concerts.”
“It will be a grueling schedule. I want you to also tour with us for the European leg and then come back here to rest. If Amelia can’t take it then you’ll both have to be back earlier. Ok with that?”
Claire insisted on staying with her parents while Il Divo performed in the US and Canada and David relented. She would use that time there to settle her LA apartment.
That night, David had a fitful sleep. His dream started off nice and sweet, and he could see Sandra all dressed up in her bridal gown. They were laughing and discussing about their wedding theme when all of a sudden, she got up from where she was sitting beside him and slowly drifted further and further away from him. He raised his hand to catch hold of her but it was no use. She smiled as she slowly disappeared. He shouted her name and woke up. Sitting up in bed, he ran a hand across his face trying to clear his mind.
Claire was woken by his shout and was startled to see his face covered in sweat and he was breathing so hard that she got worried. “Are you alright, David? Did you have a bad dream?” Sitting up, she gently touched his face. She was shocked to see a look of fear and sadness.
He hugged her tightly to him as he sobbed in anguish and pain. Claire held him and gently stroked his back, whispering words of comfort in his ears as she let him cry. Finally, his emotion spent, he pulled back from her embrace and apologised, his voice thick with emotions, “I’m sorry for scaring you, Claire.”
“You need to talk it out. Tell me about your dream.”
They spent the night talking about the dream. David confided that it was almost the same dream he had been having since Sandra passed away, only this time, she drifted away all too soon and she was smiling instead of crying out for him. But he assured Claire that he hadn’t had this dream since he met her and tonight was the first in a long while.
Claire was close to tears learning how badly the accident had affected him all this time but she held back her tears. Instead, she smiled and told him, “Maybe she’s trying to tell you all is well again with that smile. I have a feeling that she’s blessing us, telling us that she’s ok with our wedding.”
“Maybe you’re right. But I can’t help feeling sad that she might never return to my dream again, because that’s the only time I’ll get to see her,” he confessed. Then as if realizing that he might have hurt her with those words, he raised her face to look into her eyes with silent pleading. “Please don’t be angry with me for having such thoughts, Claire.”
“No, I’m not. But you have to let her go, not for me, but for your own sake. You’ve grieved long enough.”
Nodding his head in agreement, he cupped her face and kissed her tentatively. She returned the kiss as she continued to stroke his back. They settled back down into the bed and soon he drifted off to sleep again. Claire let him sleep knowing he was emotionally drained. She stayed awake and replayed their conversation. Before she drifted off to sleep, she knew what had caused the dream and knew what she needed to do to help him.
The next few days were spent training Amelia to be less demanding of David. He stopped taking her out when he needed to go somewhere or run an errand. Initially she would cry loudly but after the third day, she nodded obediently. And instead of him putting her to bed every night, he let Claire do it most times and he would do it when she was really good. At first Amelia insisted on having Daddy sing her a song or read her a story, but Daddy stood firm and told her he was tired and needed to rest. Soon she settled down and accepted the arrangements without any protest.
David turned up at Urs’ home one morning when he wanted to see if Amelia would insist on going with him. She did cry, but only for a while. Urs was surprised to see him at the door so early in the morning.
“Don’t tell me Claire kicked you out of your own apartment,” he smirked.
“No, it was Amelia instead.” And as he sat down for some light breakfast, he told Urs and Sam how Amelia had stuck to him like glue, and how Claire was worried about her daughter being unable to cope when he had to go away for long periods of time. Sam advised him to stick with the usual routine that Claire had established for Amelia and everything would be fine.
“Don’t worry, when kids get into a routine, they’ll easily adapt to it. Just don’t make it extra special when you’re back from work. Spend time with her, but don’t do it like you’re making up for loss time,” Sam advised.
“Easier said than done, sis. When she gives me that sad, watery-eyed looks, that’s it, I’m trapped.”
“But you’re able to leave her crying this morning. You’ll manage,” Sam gave an encouraging squeeze on his hand.
Angel came down from her room and was delighted to see Uncle David in the kitchen.
“Uncle David! Come and see the tree house that Daddy built for me,” she dragged David off the chair. “Mommy, Daddy, we’re going up the tree house, ok?”
“Sure, just make sure Uncle David doesn’t wear a hole in the floorboard by jumping up and down in excitement. He’s as heavy as an elephant,” Urs joked. “And make sure he doesn’t wear a hole in the roof too ‘cos he’s as tall as a giraffe.”
David rolled his eyes as Angel and Sam giggled, “You’re lame, Urs.”
“Ah, but my daughter and wife still love me,” Urs retorted smugly.
The day that Amelia stopped crying when he left home, he rewarded her by taking her and Claire shopping for Angel’s birthday gift in the afternoon. David had gotten a list of what Angel might need for the tree house and they set about looking for the gifts.
During shopping, a few fans had come up to David either to chat or for an autograph and though he didn’t want to be disturbed, he nevertheless obliged. And when a lady asked who the little girl was, David proudly introduced her as his daughter. Although the fan was taken aback by the answer, she was polite enough not to probe. The day was rounded off with a dinner in a posh restaurant.
Claire had started writing some stories while David was away promoting the album and now that he was back, he acted as her editor as he read each story and commented on them. He was very proud of her talent and had told his manager to help look for a publisher for her stories. She was grateful for all that he’d done for her and the night when David told her they’d found a publisher for her stories, she put on the new lingerie that he liked very much and treated him to a night of unforgettable passion.
Carlos spent time doing up the nursery while Joanne wrapped up her tv program. He had been to the doctor’s with her and upon seeing their baby on the sonograms, was speechless with wonder.
“That’s our baby?” he exclaimed excitedly when he finally found his voice.
“Yes, Mr Marin, that’s your baby.”
“Can you tell if it’s a boy or girl?” he rattled off the question as he was feeling hyper.
“Not yet. The baby seems very shy. Maybe the next visit,” the doctor smiled.
He turned to Joanne with a wistful look, “But I may not be able to come with you.”
“I’ll be travelling with you, my dear husband. I can have my checks done where ever we are and maybe then you’ll be able to come with me. Our doctor can write a letter for me to show to the other doctor that I’ll be seeing. Am I right, doc?”
“Yes, I’ll write her medical notes and she should bring it along where ever she goes.”
Looking visibly relieved, Carlos turned his attention back to the display screen. “It’s so tiny. Imagine in a few more weeks it will just grow bigger. Do you think it can hear us?” he voice full of amazement, picking up Joanne’s hand and brushing it against his cheek. Joanne’s eyes glistened with unshed tears of happiness seeing how excited and happy her husband was.
“Maybe later, but right now it can feel the vibrations of your voice,” Doc told him, “That’s why some people read to the baby while it’s still in the stomach. It is believed that it will soothe the baby and also when it comes into the world, it will recognize the voice and that helps with the bonding. Some studies believe it will make smart babies too.”
“So maybe that’s why Angel is so smart. Urs said he read stories to her when she was still in the womb. He tried to do the same with the twins but work got in the way. But I think he did a great job with them too because the twins are as smart as Angel. I think we should try that,” he rattled off again to Joanne.
“Yes, my anxious husband, we will do the same,” Joanne smiled indulgently, touching his face with her hand.
After the checkup, they went over to stay with Carlos’ parents and Mama was pleased to see a glowing Joanne and a more mature and contented son. He showed off the sonograms picture to his parents and proudly announced, “This is your grandchild.”
“Boy or girl?” Mama asked.
“Don’t know yet, but does it really matter?”
“No, of course not,” Mama replied happily. “Now that you’re going to be a father, I hope you will stop moving your eyebrows too much. What if your child learns it from you?” Mama’s joke got them all laughing.
“But Mama, if I stop moving these eyebrows, Joanne might just stop loving me. She loves me for my talking eyebrows, right Joanne?” He wriggled his bushy brows at Joanne.
“I love you for what you are, the eyebrows are just a bonus.” Joanne smiled lovingly at him.
The light-hearted banter continued until Mama told Carlos that Joanne should stay with her instead of travelling with Il Divo. “You shouldn’t be travelling around since this is your first pregnancy,” Mama insisted when Joanne started to protest.
“But Mama, the doctor said me and the baby are both healthy and I can travel if I want to,” Joanne reasoned.
“Mama, let Joanne travel with me. I’ll take good care of her and send her back here when she reaches her third trimester,” Carlos lent his voice to Joanne’s. Although it would be good to have Mama and Papa take care of Joanne while he travelled with Il Divo, he couldn’t stand the thought of not having her beside him and not being able to witness their baby growing inside of her everyday. He wanted to wake up next to her every morning and feel the baby’s movements as he placed his hand on her stomach.
Mama was about to object when Papa put a hand on hers, stopping her. “Let them be, Mama. They’re grown-ups and they should know how to take care of themselves. I’m sure Urs and Sebastien, being fathers themselves, will be able to help keep an eye on Joanne.” Turning to Carlos, he asked, “Are their wives travelling with Il Divo too?”
“Yes, Papa. They will travel at the start of the tour. So you see, Mama, Joanne will have many people looking after her when we tour.”
Mama Marin looked first at her son, then at Joanne, and let out a sigh. “Alright, you’re all grown-ups like Papa said. I trust that you will take good care of yourself, Joanne, and we’ll be looking forward to our first grandchild.”
When they got into bed that night, Carlos carefully pulled Joanne into his arms and kissed her forehead.
“Thank you, my love,” he whispered.
“For giving me our first baby.”
“You played a part, too.” She smiled up at him.
“It wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t want it too.”
“I don’t know why I took so long to let it happen. I guess I was too focused on my career. But rest assured that my career from now on will be as a wife and a mother, Carlito. I love you too much to want to be anything else other than your wife.”
Carlos was speechless for a while. To think that he almost threw it all away. He felt lucky to be presented with a second chance at love. Cradling her even closer to him, he bent and kissed her fully before slowly removing her sexy lingerie.
The day before Angel’s party, Joanne and Carlos flew back to London. They went and bought a lovely black and white cow piñata and a green dinosaur piñata as Angel’s birthday gifts. The cow was filled with lots of goodies that the girls would love while the dinosaur was meant for the boys. Sebastien and Ginny had already returned from their trip to Paris and Ginny had bought a High School Musical Dance Mat which could be played in the tree house as it ran on batteries.
David and Claire picked a Sing-Along CD Player for Angel and some High School Musical karaoke discs. The player ran on batteries as well so Angel would be able to have her own little sing-along session up in the tree house. Her little refuge was filling up nicely with other stuff like toys and books that her other uncles and aunties had bought for her.
Urs’ family arrived that night and they made use of the EC and the spare room in the main house.
On the big day, the Buhler kids were all up very early and were very excited about the party. Little Tony was hyperactive as he bustled around trying to get in on all the action as his father and Uncle Alex prepared the barbeque pit, while his mother and Aunty Brigitte prepared the food. He wanted to help in every way he could and Urs had to assign him little tasks like fetching more charcoal for the pit and bringing them drinks to keep him happy and out of everyone’s way.
Grace happily sat with grandma and Aunty Adriana, Urs’ youngest sister, showing them Barbie’s new dresses and accessories. She loved the attention she got from them and was constantly laughing and talking animatedly with them. Grandma was full of laughter at the little one’s lively chatter.
Angel was beside herself with excitement as she kept asking her mother why her friends hadn’t yet arrived and if she could go help set up the chairs and tables, a task that was assigned to Urs elder sister, Aunty Sara and her husband, Aaron.
“No, sweetie. You’ll get in their way.”
“Mommy, can I help you instead?”
“No, you’ll only dirty your beautiful dress. Why don’t you wait out in front and see if anyone has arrived?”
So little Angel sat on the front porch and waited impatiently for her guests to arrive. Soon, a car came up the driveway and she immediately stood up and shouted, “Uncle David is here!”
Running towards the now stationary car, she stood next to it and waited while David got out of the driver’s seat. Claire and Amelia came out from the other side, a big box in Claire’s hand. Eyes shining brightly, Angel announced, “Welcome to my party, Uncle David, Aunty Claire and Amelia.”
David hugged her and wished her a happy birthday. “Are you ready for some fun, Angel?”
She nodded her head. Claire presented her with her first birthday gift of the day, “I hope you like what we picked for you, Angel.”
“Thank you, Aunty Claire.” Taking Amelia’s hand, she led them all into the house. “Mommy’s in the kitchen with Aunty Brigitte and Daddy’s in the garden preparing the barbeque pit with Uncle Alex. Grandma and Auntie Adriana are in the family room with Gracie,” she babbled happily.
Soon, one by one, the guests arrived. The Divos and their families were the first guests to arrive and they helped set up the place for the party. Carlos and Joanne each carried a piñata and placed them out in the garden for everyone to admire. Angel wondered what they were for.
“There are goodies inside the animals. Later we will hang them up and you will each take turns to hit them until the goodies fell from the piñatas,” Uncle Carlos explained.
Amelia loved the black and white cow piñata and was hugging and stroking it lovingly. David thought it was endearing and took a few pictures of her with the cow before switching to video mode to film what was happening around him.
As her favourite uncle, David had volunteered his service for Angel’s big day, coming up with games for the kids to play. Claire and Joanne offered to help keep an eye on the children, while Ginny helped Sam with the food and beverage. Sebastien and Carlos took care of the barbeque with Urs, while Urs’ family members made sure the guests such as parents of Angel’s classmates were comfortable. Not all parents stayed for the party however; some just dropped off their kids and arranged to pick them up when the party was over.
When they were sure all the guests had arrived, David gathered all the children around him and started splitting them up into two groups. The smaller children like Amelia, Grace, Tony and Nick were split up to even out the strength of each group. Nick and Amelia went to Angel’s group while Tony and Grace went to Lily’s group.
The first game being played was Tails, though with a slight variation. The members of each team were given a sock each, black for Angel’s team, white for Lily’s team. They had to stick their socks into their back pockets or their waistbands. At the blow of the whistle, they had to grab the opposing team’s socks without losing their own. The players who lost their socks had to sit back and watch. The team that lost all their socks first lost the game.
At the start of the game, Grace had her sock nicked by a boy from Angel’s class. Instead of sitting out the rest of the game, she grabbed the boy’s sock instead. The boy shouted at her and she started crying loudly. The game was halted while David tried to sort out the problem.
“Gracie, you’re not allowed to do that. You lost the sock and you have to sit back and watch the rest of the game,” he gently explained to the little girl.
“But he stole my sock!” with tears streaming down her eyes, she pointed to the bigger boy and cried.
“That’s part of the game. Now, give him back his sock so that the game can continue. We’ll have other games to play as well,” David coaxed. Grace reluctantly returned the sock to the boy and let Joanne lead her away.
The game restarted and Lily’s team won. All the players in her team were rewarded with a goodie bag each, finally bringing a smile to Grace’s face.
The next game was Water Balloon Toss. Earlier, David got Carlos and Sebastien to blow up balloons and fill them with water. Now, the players of each team were divided into twos and stood facing each other, a few feet apart. One row of players was given a water balloon each. The first player would toss the balloon to his partner. Then they would move further back, increasing the distance between them. They continued to toss and retreat until David blew the whistle and the team with the most balloons un-popped was the winner.
Amelia and Grace didn’t do too well as they had problems catching hold of the balloons. Luckily for them, their balloons didn’t pop and they could start all over again. Still, it made their partners, both Angel’s classmates, unhappy.
“Hey, you’re supposed to catch the balloon, not drop them!” Betty shouted to Amelia.
Amelia turned to search for her daddy and when she found him, she walked over and pulled at his shirt, “Daddy, I don’t want to play with her.” The game halted again.
“I don’t like her.”
“Amie, it’s just a game.” Seeing that his little girl wasn’t budging, he sighed and brought her to Angel, “Angel, you partner Amelia.”
“Mr Miller, I don’t want to play with her,” Toby pointed to Grace. “She keeps dropping the balloon.”
“I don’t want to play with you too! You don’t know how to throw,” Grace hit back at the boy and folded her arms across her chest, staring angrily at him.
David raised both his hands above his head and looked up at the sky for some divine intervention. Hearing Claire’s giggles, he turned and gave her a lop-sided grin. Taking Grace’s hand, he led her to Lily and swapped her with Lily’s partner. The game resumed. This time Angel’s team won and she and her players got a goodie bag each.
As they played, Claire filmed them with David’s video camera while Joanne and Ginny kept the children in line. Some, other than the little ones, would throw tantrums when things didn’t go well for them and it was up to the two adults to calm them down.
They continued with two more games and in the end, the two teams were tied at two wins each. There was supposed to be one more game but David decided against continuing, seeing as how some of the children were upset at not winning some of the games. These were kids aged from two and a half to five, so it was understandable that they might not know what sportsmanship was all about.
After all the fun, the children were made to sit down on four big picnic mats laid out on the grass and eat their lunch, but not before they had lined up to wash their hands with the garden hose.
The parents of some of the kids were impressed at how well David handled the little ones. A few of the mommies were actually big fans of Il Divos and they couldn’t help but gushed at the four members, leaving their husbands rolling their eyes and making wisecracks among themselves about their wives’ obsession with the Divos.
All these were not lost on the Divos but they were used to such treatment from jealous husbands. Instead of ignoring them, the guys set out to charm these disgruntled husbands with their charisma and friendliness instead. So while David took care of the little ones, Urs, Carlos and Sebastien mingled with the parents as Urs’ family members took over the grill. They engaged the husbands in a wide variety of topics and impressed them with their wit and intelligence. Coupled with that, their easy-going nature and down-to-earth personalities soon won over these men.
After being fed with barbeque food, salad, and delicious desserts, the kids were ready for more fun. The piñatas were hung up on two big tree branches and David made the boys stand near where the dinosaur piñata was hung while the girls stood near the cow piñata.
They youngest ones had the honor to start first and so little Amelia and Tony were presented with the buster bats and blindfolds. David then explained what they were supposed to do, “I’m going to blindfold you two. Tony will use the stick to try and hit the dinosaur and Amelia will hit the cow. There are some nice goodies inside both piñatas so when they are broken, the goodies will fall out and you will be able to take them home.”
Amelia took a look up the tree at the cow. “But Daddy, I don’t want to hit the cow. I love the cow,” she looked sadly at David.
“Honey, this is just a toy. If you don’t hit it, the goodies won’t fall out,” David reasoned.
“Can I take the cow home, Daddy? I don’t want them to hit it,” she pleaded.
David looked at his little girl in disbelieve. “Amelia, this is Angel’s birthday party and the cow belongs to her. Be a good girl and just hit it for me, ok?”
Amelia shook her head and ran off to Claire, clinging onto her mommy’s dress and cried, “Mommy, I don’t want to hit the cow!”
“Of all the piñatas, Carlito, you had to choose an animal!” David shouted over to Carlos, shaking his head in faked annoyance.
“I wanted something that looked like you but they said I have to wait three weeks to get it made.” Carlos shrugged helplessly, bringing laughter to all the adults watching the proceeding. Finally Claire picked up her little girl and told David to go on with the game while she took Amelia into the house.
The game progressed without a hitch. Even little Tony had no problem hitting the dinosaur that was hung low for him. When both piñatas were broken and the fillers fell out, the children made a grab for the toys and treats, each of them being handed with a small bag to keep the goodies in. Angel asked for an extra bag and managed to fill it up for little Amelia who was still feeling upset about the cow.
After that, they gathered around the garden table and sang a birthday song for Angel. She was smiling from ear to ear and before she blew out the candle, she closed her eyes and made a wish. Then the cake was cut and everyone tucked in to the delicious chocolate and strawberry cake.
Next, they were all taken to the back of the house where Angel showed off her Angel’s Lodge. She made all her friends queue up below and led five of them up each time, showing them the inside of the tree house. There was exclamation of ‘wow’ all around as her little friends admired the house. Lily, Nick and Amelia were the last to enter the tree house with the twins and they stayed up there longer as the other kids bid Angel goodbye since it was time for them to go home.
When all the guests had left, it was already late afternoon. David, Sebastien and Carlos helped to clear up the garden together with Urs’ family before heading into the house for some tea. It was a tiring day for them all, especially Urs who had been working non-stop since he got back from the promotional tour. Sam could see how tired he was and made a mental note to give him a good massage later on.
David went up the tree house and saw the kids admiring some of Angel’s presents, which Carlos had thoughtfully carried up into the little house during the party.
“Hey, little tykes. Want to sing some songs?” David asked as he sat down with all of them in the middle of the house.
“Uncle David, you shouldn’t be up here. There are already six of us here. Besides, Daddy said you’re heavy as an elephant, you might put a hole in the floor.” Angel’s eyes were wide with worry.
“Ah, Angel, I don’t think I’m that heavy. But thank you for reminding me anyway.” David looked a little annoyed.
Angel giggled, “I’m sorry, Uncle David. Ok, you may stay but no jumping or moving around too much.”
David rolled his eyes. “You sound just like your mommy and daddy.”
“I’m their child,” she pointed out. “Soon, Amelia will sound just like you and Aunty Claire,” she added as a matter-of-fact. David could only shake his head and grin. There was no out-witting Angel, he conceded.
They sang some songs on the sing-a-long cd player and even danced on the dance mat. David of course had to sit out the dance session while the little ones took turns on the dance floor; Angel wouldn’t even let him move around the house.