For the duration of our stay the television was on Nickelodeon and Disney rotation: SpongeBob, Jimmy Neutron, FairlyOdd Parents and occasionally, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. My kids were in television heaven. Back home they never see any of this, as I am a fiendishly strict mother and we don't have cable. But this was vacation, and Miles and Jack had spent the last two weeks adhering to a tight schedule of vacation activities with their dad: Day camp at 8 AM, amusement parks, aquariums, botanical gardens and major league baseball games the rest of the time. I figured they could stand to veg out.
The presence of so many other kids was a welcome change for the boys; they could blend in and when adults were around it wasn't just the two of them under surveillance. We were a big group, and they thought that was really cool.
The children also served to deflect attention from Jefferson and me. So far, during the afternoon swim, photo shoot, dinner and evening boat outing for 15, we'd managed to avoid nosy questions about our relationship. It helped that there were so many kids to keep track of. It also helped that Honey wasn't on the boat.
Papa, Honey and Nanny had turned in by 9 PM and kids were dropping off one by one.
Jefferson poured our bourbons and met me on the big back porch overlooking the lake. Frank was sitting outside, drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette.
Jefferson led the way down the wooden steps
We sat on the swing, on a deck halfway down the 53 steps to the water, just far enough from the house to muffle our voices. Frank had was sitting on the swing opposite ours. He stayed and talked until it became clear (my feet tucked under Jefferson's thighs, his fingers toying with the fringe of my cutoff skirt, my hand stroking the hair on the back of his neck) that he should leave us alone. He joined Rachel, Lynn the Girl and Tracy the Boy for smuggled beer and cigarettes.
Frank and the teenagers were sitting on the roof of the boathouse behind us. Occasionally their laughter would carry over and I'd be distracted from our discussion of the book I was reading on Roosevelt and Churchill. That discussion gave way to our making out, which ended abruptly when Frank's loud "Well, I guess we'll go upSTAIRS now," warned us that the group was on its way toward the swing.
We sat back and continued our talk about Franklin and Winston.
"Y'all comin' up, Uncle TJ?" asked Lynn the Girl.
"Eventually, sugar. We're still catching up," said Jefferson.
"Alright, well, see you in the morning!" sang Rachel.
"'Night, baby girl. Love you."
"Love you, too."
"Love you, Uncle TJ! 'Night, Maddie!"
"Don't stay up too late, TJ, these babies are sleeping above you tonight and you know how easy it is to wake them," Frank chided.
"Yeah, yeah. Go to bed, pervert. Love you."
"'Night, Frank," I called.
We sat on the swing, pushing back and forth with the balls of our feet, talking about our kids and listening to the serenading frogs. I looked around at the outlines of trees that surrounded us, almost indistinguishable against the dark sky. It was a quiet Saturday night. Tomorrow would be a crowded day on the lake.
He took my face in his hands and kissed me.
"I adore you."
We stood and walked down the rest of the steps to the boat and stood in the center of it, hidden from the people upstairs.
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