Eight Years Later
“I can’t believe we’re leaving.”
The four of us stood at the entrance to the Hamilton Heights subdivision, by the neighborhood playground and pool—although the latter was closed since it was the first day of January. The sound of squeaking swings and shoes crunching on gravel filled the air.
“It flew by,” Josh agreed. “But in a good way.”
“No complaints,” Dante said. “Whole thing turned out a lot better than I expected when we moved in.”
We had all thought it was temporary, way back when we purchased the remaining lots in the neighborhood and were trying to keep it afloat. But months turned into years, and we had settled in. We had been happy.
We were still happy, but it was time for something new.
“Lot of good memories,” Quinn said solemnly. “I have to admit, I’m getting a little sad.”
Josh clapped him on the back. “Plenty of more memories to come.” Always the manager, he looked at his watch. “We should get going. Lots to unpack at the new place.”
Dante turned to the swings. “Come on, pork bro-mein. Race you to the moving truck!”
Louise, our five-year-old daughter, screamed excitedly and sprinted toward the UHauls. Dante pumped his fists in slow-motion to let her catch up, then chased her while tickling her sides. She squealed happily and told him to stop cheating.
Behind them, our son Aaron followed while staring at the screen of his videogame. He was like a zombie, but I figured it was okay today. Changes were tough, and he was coping the best way he knew how.
I slipped my hand into Quinn’s as we followed them. “Nervous?” he asked me.
“Yeah,” I said. “But it’s the good kind.”
Quinn nodded. “Like the kind I had when I quit my job and went to school full-time. Nervous, excited, and restless all mixed together.”
“And now look at you,” I said. “The head architect for Caspian Construction.”
“Still a dumb name!” Dante shouted while chasing Louise around the truck. “Russo Construction is better!”
“I can’t believe he won’t let that go,” Josh muttered. “Stubborn as a mule.”
Quinn drove one UHaul, and Dante drove the other. Josh was driving me and the kids in the car.
“Seatbelts!” I said.
“I still think we should have hired a moving company,” Josh said while looking at his watch. “We’ve gotten a late start. We won’t be done until after dinner.”
“We’ll be fine,” I said. “Hiring a moving company would be a waste of money. What’s the point in having three husbands if I can’t put them to work?”
Josh gave me a sly smile. “So that’s why you married all three of us?”
“One reason out of many.” I leaned over to kiss him on the cheek.
“Can I help?” Louise chimed from the back.
“You can help unpack the boxes once they’re inside,” I said. “Until then, your job is to play with the dogs in the backyard. They’re full of energy.”
I turned to Aaron. “You, on the other hand, can help carry boxes.”
His thumbs flew across the videogame. “Fine.”
Even though he was only seven, sometimes I thought he was a teenager in disguise. He had more attitude than any child I’d ever known. Part of me thought he was Dante’s son because of that. But other times I saw parts of Josh in him, like his eyes and the calm way he explained things. He also had Quinn’s quiet, thoughtful demeanor.
I saw a little bit of each man in him. Same for Louise as she grew older.
I didn’t know who was the biological father of each, but I liked it that way.
Josh started the car. “Ready to start our new life?”
“I guess,” Aaron muttered.
“YAY!” Louise squealed.
The drive wasn’t long. We were moving to a new suburb ten minutes outside of town. There was a big sign outside the neighborhood: A CASPIAN CONSTRUCTION PROJECT. Josh and I smiled at each other when we passed it.
I examined the houses we drove by. Unlike the Hamilton Heights subdivision, this neighborhood had a unique blueprint for every single house. No cookie-cutter designs re-used throughout the subdivision. They all shared the same exterior style, but were totally unique otherwise.
“Quinn’s good at what he does,” I said to myself as the houses passed by.
“Truer words were never spoken,” Josh said. “He’s the main reason our company has done so well.”
“One of the reasons,” I replied with a smile.
Our house was on a big double-lot on a corner. There was a white picket fence surrounding the property, just like I had always wanted. Five bedrooms and four baths, it had all the room we would ever need.
“You know,” Josh told the kids as we got out of the car, “your dad helped build this house. I can still get my hands dirty when I want to.”
“Cool,” Aaron said sarcastically.
“I’m proud of you,” I said, giving Josh a kiss.
“EWW!” Louise squealed.
Our two Rottweilers were running up and down the fence in the back yard, barking excitedly. We had made the mistake of allowing Aaron to name them when he was three years old, and he chose Hamburger and Hotdog. We tried to give them other names, but Hamburger and Hotdog had eventually stuck.
Louise gave me a salute like a little soldier. “I’m coming, Burgie! I’m coming, hotdoggie!” She ran toward the back gate and slipped inside to play with them.
Dante opened the back of the first UHaul. “Let’s get to work.”
The men began moving the large furniture inside while I carried smaller boxes. After three trips I had to yank Aaron’s videogame away to make him help.
I paused in the foyer, which opened up to the second floor with the staircase curving around the outer wall. “It smells new,” I said.
“It is new,” Josh pointed out in passing.
I stuck my tongue out at him.
Aaron and I moved the boxes into their corresponding rooms. Dishes and cookware in the big kitchen with an island in the middle. My dresses in the master bedroom on the second floor. Louise’s toys in her bedroom at the end of the hall. Aaron’s Lego sets in his bedroom next to Louise’s.
“Careful with those!” Aaron said as I dropped the box down. “I have some Lego projects in there!”
“Sorry,” I said. He was already taking after his fathers and loved building model houses and buildings out of Legos. I couldn’t decide if that made him more like Quinn for the designing aspect, or more like Josh and Dante for the construction itself.
We got into a good groove and unloaded the first UHaul, then paused to eat sandwiches from the picnic I had packed. The couch was in the second UHaul, so we all sat on the floor in the living room.
“Don’t spill anything,” I said. “This carpet is new.”
“Some stains are alright,” Dante insisted. “It helps break the house in. Look at Burger and Hotdog.”
Over in the dining room, the two dogs were rolling around on their backs, breaking the carpet in.
I gave Dante a warning look. “No stains.”
“Geez, okay. Sorry, Bronito Brossolini.”
Aaron chuckled at that. Louise scrunched up her face.
“A dictator from a hundred years ago,” Quinn said.
Louise frowned at me. “Are you a dictator, mom?”
“Depends who you ask,” Dante quickly said.
I tossed a potato chip at him while everyone laughed. But it was all in good fun. The secret to our weird reverse harem marriage was that we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. We made fun of each other constantly, and it was never hurtful.
“I just realized something,” Josh said. “We were so distracted packing up the house that we didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions.”
“My resolution is to play a lot of soccer,” Louise said.
“You do that already,” Quinn said.
“I want to play more,” she said pointedly. “Duh.”
A tingle of excitement went up my spine. Should I tell them now?
“I want to start swimming again,” Josh said. “I think I’m going to sign up for the YMCA down the street. It’s only a mile away.”
“You should run there,” Dante said, poking Josh in the gut. “Burn off some of that pudge.”
Josh looked down at himself. “I don’t have any pudge.”
“You have a little pudge, dad,” Aaron said.
Josh made an offended noise, which caused everyone to laugh.
“My resolution is to clean up my diet,” I said casually.
“Yeah? No more sweets?” Quinn asked.
“No, I intend to eat plenty of sweets. But I’m going to cut all alcohol for a while.”
“Ouch,” Dante said.
They still weren’t getting it, so I added, “Caffeine, too. No alcohol or caffeine for, oh, six or seven months.”
Quinn made the realization first. “This isn’t a joke. You’re telling us…?”
I bit my lip and nodded.
Josh gasped. “Oh! Oh my God!”
“What’s the big—” Dante suddenly cut off. His eyes flicked down to my belly. “You serious, brosephina?”
“Why do you think I was eating two sandwiches?”
“I thought you were pigging out!” Louise said, eager to join in the fun but not understanding what was going on.
Dante scrambled across the carpet to me and put his hand on my belly. “We had been trying for so long, I thought…”
“Me too,” I said. “But it finally happened. I’m pregnant again.”
Aaron’s jaw dropped. “You mean I’m going to have another little sister? Like Louise?”
“Or brother,” Josh said with a huge grin. “It might be another boy!”
Louise finally understood. She jumped to her feet and screamed: “I’M GOING TO BE A BIG SISTER YAY YAY YAY!”
We all hugged and laughed. Tears rolled down my cheeks, and Quinn’s eyes watered too.
“We’re going to need a bigger house!” Josh said. “Why didn’t we build a sixth bedroom!”
“We’ll figure it out,” I said. “We always do. Now let’s unload the second truck…”
I tried to stand, but Dante quickly pushed me back down. “No way. You’re not carrying any more boxes. Not in your condition.”
“Carrying boxes isn’t going to hurt anything,” I said. “I’m not even at the three month mark.”
Josh grabbed a roll of packing tape. “Don’t make us tape you to the kitchen island.”
I groaned. “I should have waited until after to tell you!”
Dante slapped Quinn on the back. “You think it’s a girl? I hope it’s another girl.”
“Hmm. I’m guessing a boy,” Quinn replied.
“What about twins?” Josh said as he followed them into the foyer. “One of each…”
“Good call. Twins would be best.”
“You know I can’t control what it is, right?” I called after them.
I laughed as I watched them walk out the front door. They were so happy, shaking hands and smiling at each other. I was happy too. I was happier than I ever thought I could be.
I had always had a plan in life, down to the smallest details. But even though marrying three men and having three kids wasn’t part of my original plan, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.