Disclaimers in Part 1
When it became midnight and Cassie and Chlöe had not come home from their trip to the beach, and neither of them were answering their cell phones, Remington and Laura began to be alarmed. They went into Cassie and Chlöe's bedroom and sat together on one of their beds in a state of anxiety.
"I think that you should call Brathwaite's and see if they know where our children are," Laura said as she got up and began to glance through the top drawer of Cassie's dresser.
"So I am to say to Ian that I think that his boys have done something improper. That is not what a friendship between two families needs, darling."
Laura did not answer, and Remington realized that he would indeed have to make that call.
"Be prepared for the inevitable, Rem," Laura said wryly.
Laura handed Remington the circular plastic package that contained birth control pills.
"Damn, they're taking these?" Remington said.
"I am afraid that we may have been closing our eyes to what has been developing between those two sets of twins for a while now."
"Those blokes have been screwing my girls!" Remington swore softly.
"Does it matter to you that they are black, Rem?" Laura asked gently. "It doesn't matter to me?"
"I don't know. What the hell? No, it doesn't matter!" Remington swore again.
"Well, you'd better decide where you come down on this. And we can't blame the boys totally. The girls got the pills and it is obvious that they have been taking them. This is at least a fifty-fifty proposition. The question is 'where are they at this moment?' And do we want to bring Ian and Tabby into this now?"
"They are just turning twenty, Laura."
"And they haven't had any serious boyfriends. We must have been stupid to not realize where their affections lay."
The phone rang and Laura quickly picked it up.
"Mrs. Steele, Kathleen Windsor. I just heard from Richmond. He is being held-for ransom. I don't know what to do."
"Hold on, Mrs. Windsor. Where are you?" Laura's eyes widened in surprise.
"I'm at home. They want the plans for the new hybrid car that Richmond has developed by tomorrow at six o'clock in the evening."
"Is there something unique about these plans that would make them more valuable than money?" Laura asked.
"Richmond developed a formula for fuel using sorghum plants as a supplement to solar fuel. It is supposed to be a secret. It will open up the ethanol market as never before. What should I do?"
"Just sit tight. Mr. Steele and I will be there shortly."
Laura put down the phone.
"This is the last thing we need when we have our own missing persons issue here at home."
"It is a case for the authorities now. I'll send Hector and Jonathan over there for moral support tonight," Remington said as he picked up the phone to call Jonathan at home.
Laura's eyes registered her mind going at full clip.
"I have an idea where the missing twins may be. I gave the girls the key to the loft. They were going over there to set things up for a party they wanted to give next week. It is the logical place for them to go this time of the night."
"Well, I am going over there to see for myself!"
"I'll come too."
"All right, but I have to deal with this man-to-man. Let me handle this, Laura, when we get there. Call Tabby Brathwaite and tell her what we suspect. Then we'll have to think about that Windsor chap. Who could be holding him for ransom?"
Remington and Laura quickly left and drove to the loft where Laura had lived before they married. They had kept it as a safe house for clients who needed it as well as extra accommodations for guests when their house was full to capacity. His mind raced as he contemplated the situation of his firstborn twin daughters.
"It's not as if you didn't know that they would eventually have sex with someone, Rem."
"But none of them are finished with their education. Geoffrey and Gregory are planning to go the medical school. It is bad timing on every level. I don't care that they are black. That is not important. I love those boys. I've known them from the day they were born. But an interracial relationship is just something else for them to deal with."
"You yourself have said that you had your share of black and brown women back in the day. Don't become irrational on me."
"I'm trying to be rational, Laura, but it's damned difficult. Just the thought of them takin' any bloke incenses me. I've always realized that sooner or later they would find the men they want."
"So no man would be suitable for your girls, Rem."
Remington was muttering to himself, trying to deal with the situation facing them.
"Nothing you or I say will change their minds. When I met you, I knew that I wanted you that first night when you bought me a magnum of champagne. Murphy did all he could to keep me from you and it didn't change my mind at all, did it?"
Remington smiled, remembering.
"I don't think so. At least we have known these boys all of their lives. There is quite a history here."
Remington parked in front of the loft and they surveyed the street before getting out of the small gray Mercedes SUV they were driving these days.
"There is the Brathwaite boys' car," Laura said, pointing to a ten year old Jeep parked down the street from where they were.
"Well, Laura, here is where being a parent becomes really difficult, isn't it?"
They got out of the SUV and headed into the building. When they stood in front of the large sliding door, they shook their heads. It was nearly one-thirty a.m.
As Remington slid the door back on the darkened apartment, Cassie wakened with a start and shook Gregory. At that moment Remington turned on the lights.
Cassie hastily reached for the blanket that had covered them and Gregory reached for his clothes which lay on the floor.
On the upper level of the loft Goeffrey and Chlöe were clearly visible in the same situation.
Remington stood for what seemed like forever surveying the situation. His voice was like ice when he spoke.
"It seems that you young people seem to think that this is some kind of bordello we're running here. I suggest that all of you finish dressing right now. Geoffrey and Gregory, your truck is in front. I suggest that you young men get into it and go home. We will meet you and your parents at my house at ten o'clock in the morning."
"Sir, I . . . we . . . we are sorry. It was not appropriate." Geoffrey attempted to speak up.
"No, it was not, young man. And I don't wish to hear anything from you now. I am extremely angry and disappointed in all of you."
"Dad, we're sorry. We just wanted to be with them. We love them," Cassie said.
"And we didn't know if you would approve," Chlöe said tearfully.
"I don't approve of this at all. Your conduct is totally reprehensible and irresponsible."
Gregory and Geoffrey stood resolutely ready to accept whatever Remington was dishing out and Laura remained quiet as they received their deserved tongue-lashing. When he was finished, Remington slid the door open for them to leave.
Finally it was just Remington, Laura and the girls.
"I think that we need to hear how you arrived at this point," Laura said calmly.
"We always loved them, mom, but two years ago everything changed," Chlöe said.
"When we went to the prom together, everything changed," Cassie said.
"Today we just planned to picnic."
"That is why you girls were taking these?" Laura said, taking the container of birth control pills out of her pocket.
"Well, we planned to do whatever we wanted to do with them," Chlöe said.
"That is why you were taking the pill," Laura stated as a fact.
"Yes, we thought we were being responsible," Cassie said.
"This was the first time we . . . we had sex. Today was the first time for all of us," Chlöe attempted to explain.
"And it was painful." Laura stated as a fact.
"We knew that it would hurt," Cassie said. "We just didn't realize how much."
Remington's eyes filled involuntarily and he turned away momentarily at the thought of the pain his daughters had willingly submitted to.
"We wanted to do it in the worst way," Chlöe admitted.
"And you want to continue having . . . them?" Laura continued.
The girls nodded their desire to continue with the boys and then dropped their heads.
"You did not even have to decency to be in private . . . all four of you just fornicating in full view of each other!" Remington said.
"It's not like that when you are twins with twins, Dad," Cassie said. "There is just not that kind of embarrassment."
"I think that your problem is going to be how to continue this relationship that has been started. Sex is addictive . . . no matter how much it hurts the first time," Laura said. "You realize that you are all in school. What were you planning on doing once you got started down this road?"
"We didn't think it through. I think that . . ." Chlöe started.
"I think that you were thinkin' with your arses and not your heads," Remington said.
"We thought you would understand, Dad. You and Mom are together like that a . . . a lot," Cassie said.
"You've taught us that it's a part of being human."
"And we waited. All the girls at school have had sex a long time ago. You told us to wait till we were sure."
"And we were sure. We've been so sure for a long time now," Chlöe added.
"I want to marry Greggie and . . ."
"I want to marry Geoffie."
"Greggie, Geoffie," Remington snorted. "It's done. They want to get married. They've given the blokes what they want. Laura, let's go home. My girls are gone. They're gone."
When the girls saw their father's eyes spill over, they simply ran to him and hugged him, crying with him till they were all spent.
"I think that we should all go home now," Laura said. "You girls have had quite a day and you gave us quite a fright. There is also the matter of a case that has heated up as well. We will deal with all of this further in the morning."
"Here is the key to the loft, mom," Chlöe said. "We're sorry we used it without permission."
"Keep it. I think that you and your young men may need it. Once you have started having sex, it is not a simple thing to stop-especially when you love the person you're having it with. It might be better if you have someplace to be together, rather than at the house around the other children. Do you agree, Remington?"
Remington shrugged helplessly in capitulation.
They drove home in silence, Remington and Laura reflecting on the changed situation with their twin daughters, and Cassie and Chlöe completely exhausted, but unable to sleep after the most unusual day of their young lives.
Remington looked at the time when they arrived back home. It was nearly four o'clock in the morning. He knew that the case needed attention, but he knew that Laura needed to get her rest.
"I am going over to Mrs. Windsor's to check with Jonathan and Hector on the case. I will be home later in the morning."
"I should go with you."
"No, this day has been too much for all of us. I'll handle it. I'm calling Lieutenant Woodley now to let him know the situation. I want the police involved. Besides, I think that your girls could benefit from some of your womanly wisdom at this point, don't you?"
"You're right. I'll attend to them."
Remington turned to leave, but he heard Laura sniffle and instantly faced her again. She was crying softly.
"Dear God, woman," he whispered, taking her into his arms and attempting to comfort her.
"I just have such mixed emotions. It's harder when you know for a fact what your children have done. It's so much easier when you don't know."
"But it is better to know. At least they were honest with us tonight. The problem is that those young people have no idea what Pandora's Box they have opened. Their passions are going to take over in ways that they could not have imagined. If indeed this is the real thing between them, you will no more stop a train running full speed down the track than stop their passions from ruling them now. Remember how it was, love?"
"Yes, I can never forget it," Laura whispered. "I remember that night just after we had met at that hotel room when you took my hand and kissed it for the first time." The chemistry of attraction they had experienced at that moment rolled over them again.
"I was so stimulated that I went to my hotel and called up an old girl that I knew to pay me a visit. When we were havin' a go at it, I called out your name and you can imagine that she was totally pissed with me. I couldn't help myself. It was you on my mind."
"I went home and dreamed about being with you. I woke up calling your name. It was like you were there, but you weren't. I don't think I ever told you, did I?"
"No, and I don't think I ever told you what happened to me that night after I left you. But I can tell you now."
"And by the way, what was that 'old girl's' name?" Laura teased.
"Her name was Candy. And that is all that she was to me."
"I knew you would remember. That is just the kind of guy you are."
"And it was all about that car."
"The Hunter Jetstar 6000. Funny, this case is really about a car also. A hybrid car that runs on solar power and ethanol made with sorghum sugar. Who would want to kidnap the missing Mr. Windsor?"
"I see your mind is turning back to the case at hand," Remington growled softly.
"The Japanese have their hybrid cars. The Americans even have their entries into the market with more on the drawing board. Mr. Windsor was talking with General Motors about his car. They are in real trouble now with fuel at nearly $4.00 a gallon and the auto industry about to go belly up. T. Boone Pickens is talking about setting up windmills from Texas to the Canadian border. Who else would benefit from the work of a man like Richmond Windsor?"
"The Koreans and the Japanese have been longtime rivals/enemies. And don't leave out the Chinese when we talk about matters of money. I will have Hector help me check Windsor's date book for appointments. Perhaps someone from Seoul was courting him and he wasn't willing to accept their offer."
"Good idea. I'll look after our young ladies. And you . . . you hurry back home. I need you tonight."
"Yes, ma'am," Remington winked and kissed Laura before leaving.
Laura knocked on her daughters' bedroom door and went in.
Cassie and Chlöe were both red-eyed as they sat side by side on one of their beds.
"We're sorry, Mom, but we just didn't know what to do. We didn't want to lose them. We have all felt this way for a long time."
"At first it was like they were our brothers," Chlöe said, "but then when we went to the prom together two years ago . . ."
"We kissed . . . seriously kissed. Mom, we tried to resist getting involved, but I grabbed Geoffrey and kissed him at the prom. It was my first serious kiss," Chlöe said, dropping her head.
"Did you take the initiative and kiss Gregory, Cassie?"
"No, I don't think so. We just ended up in a dark corner and it happened."
"Have you found other occasions since then to be . . . close?"
The girls looked at each other and shrugged in capitulation.
"There were . . . several . . . whenever we have had the chance," Chlöe said, "several times when we kissed each other".
"It just made it worse for all of us. I never wanted anything so bad as I wanted Greggie."
"Well, since you have decided to move your relationship ahead this way, what plans do you have?"
"We didn't think it through," Cassie started to cry. "I just want to be with him. I want to marry him, Mom. I know that we are all in school. And they plan to go to med school. But we couldn't stop this!"
"And what do you think and Ian and Sandra Brathwaite will think about all this? They have quite an investment in their boys."
"I don't know, Mom," Chlöe sobbed. "I couldn't think about anything except that I wanted Gregory."
"Well, you'd better think about it. There are consequences for everything. A young man has practically no resistance in the face of a young woman he is attracted to. Your father has explained that part of it to you."
"Dad says they think with their . . . cocks," Cassie said timidly.
"And that is exactly the truth. Never forget that for a moment." Laura sighed wearily. "Now I would suggest that you two get some rest. I will arrange an appointment with one of Sandra's associates for you next week. You need some practical information now that you are sexually active."
"Mom," Chlöe said, "I hope that we can be like you and Dad. We know that you and Dad enjoy having . . . sex together. It is something that we have always known . . . and it makes us happy to see you love each other."
"But freely indulging in sex with another person brings serious responsibility. Your father and I paid our dues. And we have the responsibility of all of you children that we love so much as a consequence of being together sexually. That is the way real life works. Are you prepared to be parents at your age? I doubt it. But you may not have a choice in the matter. Nothing is one hundred percent except abstinence . . . and you have decided against that."
The girls looked very distraught when faced with the prospects they had cut out for themselves. Finally Laura just hugged them and they all dissolved in tears together before Laura said goodnight.
It was nearly four a.m. when Remington returned home. He walked through the darkness of his house with his faithful fifteen-year old German shepherd, Ingrid, and her five year old offspring from her last litter, Max, following behind him. He checked on his teen-age sons, Michael and Harry, who were sleeping soundly; then his twin sons Reade and Rhett, now seven years old. TabbyAbby, now ten, shared a room with the youngest, Maggs, who was just turning five years old, and they were all well. Remington paused a moment before opening the door to his daughters bedroom. He stood for a long moment and then quietly closed the door, his eyes glistening with tears.
Laura roused when her husband slid next to her in bed and turned to receive him in her arms.
"You're home, love," she whispered. "I am so glad you're home."
"Your man is like a forlorn little boy tonight. I am so needin' my woman to hold me and make it all right."
"Your woman is here, Remy."
Remington kissed Laura and they made love to each other. They took their time, and when they climaxed together, Remington sobbed for his girls in his wife's arms.
"Babe! Babe! Please always be here for me like this. I need you so much. Everything else can change, but please don't ever change. Don't stop lovin' me."
Laura held him to her breasts till he fell asleep.
* * * * * *
The next morning Laura wakened to find Remington standing on the deck outside their bedroom. He was fully dressed for the day, light blue shirt, dark blue slacks impeccably cut, burgundy tie slung around his neck untied. But his blue eyes were still melancholy.
"You're up already! I didn't hear you."
"I wanted you to sleep. I fear I used quite a bit of your energy last night. Thank you, darling. I was really quite down after all that happened yesterday."
Remington drew Laura into his arms and tenderly kissed her.
"You look lovely when you've just gotten up . . . all tousled and so very female."
"I guess I should get dressed. You told Brathwaite's to be here at ten?"
"Yes. I'm not lookin' forward to that. I was so angry when I found our girls with those boys at the loft. The thought of some young bloke pushin' himself into your virgin daughter is hard to abide."
"The girls did go after the boys. I think that we had told them everything we possibly could about sex. But this moment was inevitable. I guess we should be glad that we know the boys so well."
Remington sighed, still depressed at the situation he had found his daughters in on the previous night.
"Did you come up with anything on the case?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact I did. There were four appointments with a Mr. Lee in Windsor's appointments. Lee doesn't come right out at you, but the first name was Young. One appointment was on the morning of the day he disappeared."
"And who is this Mr. Lee?"
"Alessandre found out that he is a rep from a South Korean company that is in fierce competition with Hyundai to produce a 'green' car."
"Do we know where to find this Mr. Lee?"
Hector and Mildred are working on that this morning. If Kathleen Windsor hears anything at all, she will call us here at home. Meanwhile we will attend to family matters here.
"Let me get ready for the day, love."
"I'll make breakfast."
After feeding his family breakfast, Remington spoke quietly to them.
"We are going to be having a family discussion with Ian and Sandra Brathwaite this morning in a while. Michael, I would appreciate you and Harry taking your brothers and sisters out by the pool while your mother and I talk with Ian and Sandra."
"Sure. What's up, Dad?"
"Your sisters have decided that they are in love with Gregory and Geoffrey."
Cassie and Chlöe both flushed.
"Yeah? So what else is new? Anybody could see that they had eyes for each other," Michael retorted.
Laura and Remington exchanged amazed glances.
"How did you know?" Cassie demanded.
"I'm seventeen now, Cass. And I'm your brother. I know when something's goin' on."
"Well, at any rate . . ." Remington attempted to continue.
"Are they getting married?" Harry asked excitedly. "Are you?"
"Yes, we want to get married," Chlöe volunteered in the interest of full disclosure.
"Dad, are you going to let them?" Michael asked.
"They are twenty years old this month. We will discuss things with the Brathwaite's. You can help by letting us handle this matter with a measure of privacy when the Brathwaite's get here. Your turn will come soon enough I fear, young man."
The doorbell rang and Michael ushered his younger siblings out to the pool as Remington went to receive Ian and Sandra, along with their sons.
"Thank you for coming, Ian. I am sorry to have disrupted your Saturday morning this way, but a matter of serious concern has developed which involves our girls and your young men. I can detail what I know about or perhaps Greg or Geoff would like to explain the situation."
"Father, Greg and I are in love with Chlöe and Cassie here. We have felt this way for a long time."
"Yesterday we drove up the coast and things developed and we ended up having sex . . . I with Cassie and Geoff with Cassie. I apologize . . ."
"You took liberty with these girls, these friends of our family! You did this thing?" Ian Brathwaite was as livid as he had ever been.
He backed his sons single-handedly against the wall grabbing the crotch of each of them, effectively immobilizing them for the moment.
"Don't, Ian. You will hurt the boys," Sandra cried and ran to her husband's side."
"They have embarrassed our family, Sandra."
"Let them go, Ian. Laura and I have talked with the girls and they have equally shared in this matter. These are different times perhaps, but I was equally incensed to find them at the loft effectively 'making out' last night," Remington said.
Ian stood back from his boys who were both visibly shaken from this encounter with the wrath of their father who was an imposing figure to face.
"I am sorry, Remington. I thought that I had taught my sons respect in matters such as this, that they knew how to keep their . . . parts in their trousers."
"Now just what are you young people proposing to do about this?" Sandra Brathwaite said in exasperation.
"We want to get married," Gregory stated firmly.
"We will do whatever we have to do to marry," Geoffrey said.
"You are all in school. No one is working. You have two more years before you go to med school," Sandra Brathwaite stated the obvious.
"The girls have two more years of school as well," Laura said.
Sandra looked at Chlöe and Cassie who were literal basket cases by now, sobbing quietly as they hugged each other.
"Do you two love my two boys? Do you really love them?"
"Yes, Aunt Sandra, we do. What happened was our fault. We started taking the pill. We didn't want anyone else to be with them."
"It is so hard being away from them while they are away at Stanford. I know how I feel. I know we didn't think it out, but that doesn't change how we feel."
"Ian, we must look for solutions, not confrontation," Sandra said, taking her husband's hand.
"Since these young people are all still in school, we must decide if we are going to help them remain in school or if we want to deal with them in a protracted courtship which has already been consummated, while they finish their education. Frankly, Ian, knowing what we all know about human nature, I don't think the latter idea is practical in this situation," Remington said.
"I agree. I am willing to continue to finance the boys' schooling. Stanford is an expensive school, even with their scholarships; but I will do it. You boys will work part time till you finish med school."
"I will continue to finance the education of Cassie and Chlöe. In addition I will advance each of you twenty-five thousand dollars to get yourselves started. You will pay back these no-interest loans within ten years after you finish medical school. And I will pay for the wedding."
"Which should take place before the end of this year," Laura said. "There is no need to draw this out unnecessarily now that you have reached this point."
Gregory embraced Chlöe and Geoffrey embraced Cassie and then they all cried and hugged each other as the tension of the moment began to ease.
"I think that we should all have coffee together now, or better still tea, to restore peace and . . . order," Remington said hoarsely, overcome with emotion of the moment.
"If you will kindly add a shot of brandy to mine, Remington. I confess that I am somewhat shaken," Ian said.
"Likewise," Remington said and took Ian along with him to have a drink.
Sandra and Laura went out to the pool area to leave the young couples some privacy to discuss their plans. Cassie and Gregory were deeply involved in conversation and Chlöe took Geoffrey's hand and they went to the back of the house to talk in her room.
"Seems that we are coming full circle, Laura, doesn't it?"
"Twenty years ago this month of August we gave birth to our twins on the same day. Little did we know . . ."
"Little did we know."
Just as things were settling at the Steele's residence, they got a call from Jonathan at the office. It was an apparent break in the Windsor case.
"It's the break we've been waiting for in the case, Laura. We will have to leave this situation for the time being. Come along, darling."
Laura and Remington drove in silence for a few minutes.
"That was an unbelievable morning, wasn't it?"
"I'd say it was."
"So you think we can finance these things you proposed without any difficulty?"
"I thought about it last night when driving home. I wanted to discuss it with you, but there were other pressing matters. We should have no problem putting fifty thousand dollars aside for them. I cannot leave them totally to their own resources. God knows that these next few years will test their relationships, but I don't see us being able to slow them down. Physical chemistry coupled with this kind of attachment is too powerful a thing. We know that. We are in our fifties now, Laura, but can we stay out of each others arms?"
Remington reached for Laura's hand and held it fast and Laura flushed. She knew only too well how much she needed Remington's sexual attention.
"They risked everything to go after their men. I always told them to be determined when they knew that it was the right man, and I guess I have only myself to blame for their . . . resourcefulness."
"So now we have to plan for a double wedding within the next few months. I will leave you and Sandra to handle those details, love. Right now I am exhausted by the events of the past twenty-four hours and would like nothing better than to go somewhere private where we could be man and wife for the rest of the day."
"Make a reservation for us at the Bonaventure, Remy. The 'horse' is stolen now. No need to stand guard at the barn. They have the key to the loft. After we go by the office and see where this case stands, let's just steal away for the rest of the day."
"Great idea, love." Remington smiled wearily at Laura and picked up his cell phone to make a reservation at the Bonaventure.
To Part 3