ONE WICKED NIGHT
“Congratulations.” Tyler smiled at Kaelin, his chest full of pride and admiration.
“Thank you!” She beamed back at him, wearing the maroon and black robes of the University of Chicago Law School, a black velvet tam perched on her glossy brown hair.
They’d just watched the diploma and hooding ceremony, he and Nick unashamedly holding hands as Kaelin had been on the stage, sharing looks of pride and joy at her achievement.
She flung her arms around both of them exuberantly. “I did it!”
“You did it, beautiful.” Nick kissed her cheek. “So proud of you.”
She’d worked so hard for this over the last few years and was now ready to begin her judicial clerkship and her law career.
All of them had flourished in Chicago, he and Nick expanding their business, taking on bigger and more challenging clients, hiring more staff. Yes, they’d had disagreements. And yes, their personal lives were unusual, and there’d been some moments when things had been awkward, uncomfortable and even a few tough times where they’d all questioned what the hell they were doing. But with Nick and Kaelin’s love and support, Tyler had gradually shed that chip on his shoulder and grown into the kind of man he wanted to be. The kind of man who deserved that love and was willing to do what it took to keep it and make things work…even if it meant opening himself up and being vulnerable, revealing all his flaws and insecurities, the reasons he was afraid he wasn’t good enough.
He turned to his parents, who’d come to the ceremony also, along with Nick’s parents. They all smiled with pride at Kaelin’s accomplishment as they exchanged hugs with her, and Tyler’s heart swelled at the love he saw on all their faces for Kaelin.
She’d made such an impact on all their lives, with her sweet generosity, her loyalty and courage and caring heart. She was a good girl, in the best way possible.
“Congratulations, Kaelin.” Mom gave her a hug. “So proud of you, honey.”
Dad got a hug too.
It had taken Dad a while to come around to all the changes in his life. Maybe Tyler got some of his stubbornness from him, because, man, Dad had been pissed and unyielding when Mom had disappeared to Italy a few years back. But that had been what was needed to shake him out of his rigid life and make him realize he couldn’t control everyone and everything.
A lesson Tyler had taken to heart.
Dad was retired now, and he and Mom traveled together a lot, including frequently to Chicago to visit them, and to Los Angeles to visit Avery, who was now the mother of a six month old baby girl.
Becoming an uncle had reminded Tyler of those visions he’d had of his life, settling down with a wife and kids some day. He’d never envisioned living in a polyamorous relationship with a woman and a man. Sometimes he still shook his head at it, how crazy it was…but when he thought about the people in his life…Nick and Kaelin…he wouldn’t change that now, for anything.
He did still want kids though…
He hadn’t pushed it. Obviously with Kaelin in school it hadn’t been the right time. And now she was starting her career…but he knew she wanted that too, and so did Nick. They’d talked about whether it was the right thing to do—was bringing children into this type of family just going to cause their kids enormous problems in their lives as they got older?
They all knew there were no guarantees in life, but being born into a loving family went a long way to bringing up strong, well-adjusted children. And they all had a lot of love.
They’d also had some lessons on what not to do. Tyler knew it was going to be hard for him to not be controlling like his dad had, because he knew he’d love a child so much that he’d want his child to be safe and secure and happy. But he hoped he’d learned that giving a child freedom to make mistakes and loving them anyway was the better way for them to learn.
Yeah, he’d forgiven his old man. He was grateful to Dad for loosening up enough to accept his unusual relationship with Nick and Kaelin, and that went a long way to forgiveness. And he’d forgiven his mom, too. After that speech she’d made before leaving for Italy, he’d thought a lot about it, and now, as he contemplated becoming a parent himself, he realized how hard it must have been for her to make that move of cutting him loose so he could make his own mistakes and learn from them. He had been out of control, so focused on rebelling he didn’t realize how much damage he was doing. And having to stand on his own two feet and find his way in the world had made him the man he was now.
“You okay?” Kaelin slid her arm through his and peered up at him, a faint notch between her eyebrows.
“Yeah!” He smiled. “Sorry, just got lost in thought.” He glanced at the parents. “We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?”
“We have.” She linked her other arm with Nick’s. “We all have. Now, let’s go have dinner! I’m dying for that champagne you promised me.”
He’d promise her the world, her and Nick. “Yeah. Let’s go celebrate.”