Happy New Year

Someone recently asked me about my choices for couples when making the series. I have answered that question a few times, and I think I’ve tried to explain my reasoning for why I paired certain couples together.

One thing that I don’t think I really ever discussed was the influence certain things have had on the development of the series.

I know I’ve talked about certain characters and how they came to be, but the series itself has roots in many parts of my life.

When I was in college, I met a professor who ended up having a profound effect on me.  He was my musical theatre performance teacher and what the class consisted of was a pianist on stage, and each member of the class would receive a song of the professor’s choosing and we would have to sing it in front of everyone and be subjected to intense critique from the Prof. I kind of think of it now like our own tiny little version of American Idol.

Thankfully, none of us were voted off.

To say I was intimidated by this concept would be an understatement. I think I’ve mentioned my singing before, and how I have been in community theatre and have auditioned for and been accepted to theatre schools.

However, this was before that and to be honest, looking back, this class gave me the confidence to pursue those auditions.

But back to the class.

It was 1992 or 1993 when I first met Pirooz, the Professor. I remember sitting in the auditorium, where the class was held, and hearing him tell us what would be expected of us. I wondered if I could drop the class and still get my money back. I wondered if he would ask me why I would attempt to be in a musical theatre performance class when I had no talent.

I mean, I never sang in front of people I knew. I was in choir in high school and I was in musicals, but if my parents asked me to sing in front of them, it would have never happened.

Ever.

For my 21st birthday, my parents bought me a karaoke machine where I could sing and record myself on a cassette tape so I could hear myself better and work on my tone.

I only used it when home alone.

So sitting in this intimate setting, with 15 other students who all seemed to be ready for Broadway, was a tad unnerving.

He also made us all dance as a group on stage at the beginning of each class.

He would pick one student to lead the dance and he would play a random song and the class would have to follow the moves of the leader.

If there was anything that terrified me more than singing, it was dancing.

This was NOT for me.

But it was too late to change, so I stayed. Sometimes I would come late, just to miss the dance, but Pirooz caught on to that. I just sort of stayed in the back and kind of swayed a little to whatever movement was going on.

I think he took pity on me and never asked me to lead the dance.

At least not the first quarter, but that’s a story for another day.

The flashback of how Julie met Bill came from this experience. Her terror was my terror. I guess I hoped my “Bill” would save me, too.

There is a reason I’m sharing this, I promise, but I need to set up the scene a little more. 🙂

Now coming into this class, I thought I had a pretty diverse amount of theatre knowledge. What I soon discovered was that I knew pretty much nothing about the vast diversity out there.

That class exposed me to songs and composers which changed my perspective on life and watching the way my Professor worked with each student, no matter their level, to bring out the heart and soul of the song transformed my outlook on life.

One such musical was called Falsettos. It is currently having a revival on Broadway, which I would love to see.

However, I was given a song called “Holding to the Ground” and the first couple lines were as follows.

“I was sure growing up I would live the life my mother assumed I’d live; very Jewish, very middle class and very straight. Where healthy men stayed healthy men and marriages were long and great.”

I knew nothing about this show and one of our first jobs was to always research the character and find the motivation behind the words.

When I researched the show, it was fairly new, having gone through a rewrite from 1981 and was now a full length show. The character I was singing was named Trina and her husband had left her because he was gay and was going to finally be true to who he had always been. They had a young son who was preparing for his Bar Mitzvah and the husband fell in love with a wonderful, funny and handsome man who Trina found very hard to dislike.

There is a lot more to the story, but the crux of the second act is that the boyfriend develops and ultimately dies from AIDS.

This was at the height of the AIDS crisis when so much was unknown and more was feared. I remember falling in love with the characters and the humor and the gut-wrenching powerless feeling of the characters when dealing with something so unpredictable and so misunderstood.

I think, subconsciously, I always knew I wanted to write a character living with HIV.

I think a lot about that class when I think back to the development of the series. It’s hard to trace some ideas back 20 years, but if I truly look at the characteristics of my characters, I can see the influence.

I took that class three different times over the course of three years and I can never express how valuable it was for me as a performer and an eventual teacher.

And I guess also, as a writer.

It also shaped my love for groundbreaking theatre and it introduced me to Ragtime, another musical I adore. I was able to codirect Ragtime at the high school my first year teaching and it was one of my proudest moments.

When I tell people about that story, about Falsettos, I’m asked about why I didn’t make Tommy and Jack lovers. Why it wasn’t a love story about them.

I remind them that I wrote Brittany before I wrote anyone else, and Jack and Stephanie fit so well together, I couldn’t see them with anyone else.

Tommy was made for Brittany and they are my favorite love story.

I did toy once with having Brittany and Evan have an affair, but it just wasn’t me. Well, it wasn’t them, either. 🙂

I’ve been thinking a lot about that time in my life and the courage and strength that class gave me. I think there are elements of that class in how I write each character.

This series is a lot like a prime time soap opera. The stories and issues are ongoing, but each book or episode focuses on one specific highlighted story.

I like to look at it that way. Sometimes we live our lives and time passes without much standing out. Sometimes I feel that way with a character and I have to go back and ask them what I’ve been missing

When a character is quiet for too long, I worry about them.

What have they been going through that I haven’t been paying attention to? What’s on their mind?

Then I decide if it’s something I can weave into the fabric of the story.

Anyway, it’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m reflecting. I guess I wanted to share.

I hope you all have an amazing 2017.

Thank you for sticking with me.

A little Christmas flashback

Merry Christmas! Here is a little flashback to the first Christmas after Tommy and Julie lost their parents. I wrote it for today, and I hope you enjoy it!

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The Past

Julie woke up and stared at the ceiling.

She hated this day.

It was Christmas and she hated every part of it.

Her parents died eight moths ago and it hadn’t gotten any easier. They had settled into a routine, but this was different.

This was Christmas.

Jack and Tommy were spending a ton of time at the library, studying, and she was home each day doing nothing. It was break from school and she just sat home and spent more time packing up her parent’s things.

They didn’t even have a tree.

Tommy tried to get her to go on a trip with friends, but she refused.

She just didn’t want to be with anyone’s family.

“Julie? Aren’t you going to come downstairs?” Jack asked from outside her door.

“No.”

Silence.

“But it’s Christmas.”

“Don’t care.”

“But you have to. We don’t know how to put the ornaments on the tree.”

“We don’t even have a tree.”

“Can you please come downstairs? If you don’t, I’ll have to keep yelling through the door and that’s silly.”

“Ugh!” she yelled. “Fine. I’ll be there in a minute.”

She got up and pulled her clothes on before she walked out into the hallway.

There was music playing and something smelled, well, good.

She jumped down the stairs and saw her brother standing there with a mess of ornaments all around.

“What are you doing?” Julie asked.

“Oh, hey, I’m trying to figure out how the lights go on. I keep trying, but they won’t light up.”

“When did you get a tree?”

Tommy wiped the sweat off his brow.

“Last night. You were all moody and went to bed, so we figured you didn’t want to help us.”

“Ho Ho Ho!” Jack came in wearing a Santa suit. “Hello little girl. Are you ready for your presents?”

Julie raised her eyebrows.

“Jack? What are you doing?”

“Who is this Jack you speak of? I am Santa Claus.”

Tommy grinned.

“I thought you were going to come last night. Did something happen?”

“Well young man, sometimes the North Pole gets backed up.”

“You both realize I’m 13. I don’t believe in Santa anymore,” Julie said.

“But I’m right here,” Jack said. “Do you not see me?”

“I know what you’re both trying to do, but it’s pointless. Christmas sucks now,” she said as she walked to the couch and sat down.

Tommy put the lights down and sighed.

“Of course it does with that attitude.”

“What attitude do you want me to have? I can’t pretend everything is okay because it isn’t.”

Jack pulled off the wig and sat down.

“Nobody is saying it’s okay, Jules. But you can’t live in sadness.”

“Why not? Why can’t I just be miserable? Who cares?” she cried.

“I do,” Tommy said. “And so would mom and dad. We owe them better than this.”

“I know it’s not the Christmas you want, but we’re together and family is most important. Besides, you have presents to open,” Jack said. “And Santa went all over the damn town to find them.”

Julie wiped her eyes.

“How can we be happy and celebrate anything? How is that okay?”

“Jules, do you think it’s better if we all just sit around and cry every day? IS that what mom and dad would want? You’ve got your whole life ahead of you and you shouldn’t spend it sad and lonely. It’s okay to smile. It’s okay to be happy,” Tommy said.

“I just feel guilty. I just miss them.”

Jack sat next to her and smiled.

“My mom used to make these amazing cookies for Santa. We would leave them out and my dad would always steal them. Mom made an extra batch because I was always afraid Santa wouldn’t come if we didn’t have the right cookies.”

Julie wiped her eyes and smiled.

“Last year, your mom made the recipe for me because I was depressed. She left them in a bag for me to enjoy.”

Tommy looked at him.

“She did? You didn’t tell me that.”

Jack shrugged.

“She didn’t make them for you. Besides, I didn’t want to share.”

They all laughed and Jack looked at his hands.

“I know it sucks and I know you miss them, but life has to move forward, Jules. If we don’t go through the motions, then things will never start to feel normal. You can’t let yourself get lost in the sadness. I miss my mom with everything in me and I hate that she’s gone, but I also know how incredibly blessed I am to be adopted into this little family. I will never take the gift you’ve both given me for granted.”

Julie hugged him and Tommy sniffed.

“Well damn,” he said. “That was really nice.”

“You’re both right. I’m sorry,” Julie said.

“Well, I think we just need to make some new traditions. We can decorate the tree on Christmas and order pizza for dinner,” Tommy said.

“And open presents,” Julie said.

Jack put his wig and beard back on.

“Ho ho ho,” he said and put the gifts out.

Julie laughed and realized just how much her parents had left for her.

She was incredibly lucky.

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Merry Christmas from Tommy and Brittany Williams and Naomi; Jack and Stephanie Stephens, Sabrina and Tess; Bill and Julie Kastan, David and Josie; Evan and Liz Thrushcross and Kevin; Ian and Cassie Yearling and Desi.

Happy Hanukkah from Mike and Jade Stein, Eden and Sara.

A little insight

November and December are hard. I remember growing up and loving this time of year. Thanksgiving was the best holiday because it was all about family and celebrating the love and happiness all around us. My dad adored Thanksgiving and he always made sure we were together and had the best dinner.

When I was 36 he died on Thanksgiving.

I grew up with my grandma living with us for my middle school and early high school years. It was awesome to have her there and I remember coming home from school and watching Another World with her. She was someone who taught me about family and humor and strength. She was like another mother to me, and I adored spending time with her. Her birthday was the day before mine and we always celebrated together. We used to go to Bill Knapps and get our birthday percentage off the bill. It was a yearly memory I still carry with me.

December 13, she died.

Mooch was another integral part of my life. He was a major part of the next phase of my life. He was there through my MS diagnosis and subsequent depression. He sat by my side while I navigated this new normal and he never wavered in his happiness and enthusiasm for life. He was there when we lost my grandma and he was there when we lost my dad. He was there for all of us.

December 7, he died.

Why bring this up? Why be so depressing?

I don’t hate the holidays at all. I love the sense of family surrounding this time of year and my memories are blessings. I also have an amazingly strong mother and sister who show me every day that life is worth it.

I think I have spent a bit of the last few months a little more down than previous years. Sometimes things hit you even years after they occur and there isn’t a real explanation as to why.

I have also been channeling those feelings into my writing.

I love my family by choice. I love the relationships between the characters and I love that no matter what, they are all there for each other.

They are flawed, as so many of us are, yet they try to do right by each other.

Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about Julie. I wonder what made me think of putting a 12 year old in the care of two 18 year old boys. I look at my classroom sometimes and think about just how out there that idea was.

But then I think of the loss we have all experienced. Mine was more recent, and I was an adult, but it’s no less profound.

Julie represented where I was in my life. I was lost and so was she. She had people looking out for her, as did I, but she tested their loyalty.

She needed to make sense of what her new normal was and how she would be able to move forward.

I think we all have a little bit of Julie within us. It might be moving forward after a loss or an unexpected issue in life.

I think the premise of Tommy and Jack becoming her guardians was incredibly far fetched, but it was also important to me to show that they were all overwhelmed. I have told much of that time through flashbacks and I know I have so many more stories to tell about those years.

Julie and Tommy’s relationship is one of my favorites. He is such an important character to me and one of his most endearing qualities is his sensitivity and compassion. I think that’s what makes him a good pediatrician. I think it makes him an amazing partner to Brittany.

I also think it made him the perfect guardian for Julie.

If it weren’t for her, he would have been so lost. Julie gave him a purpose; a reason to push forward after such a profound loss.

She gave him his life back.

The two of them and their back story is one I am most proud of, and I learn more about them each and every time I write.

The other relationship I love writing is Tommy and Jack.

When I began writing a romantic suspense series, I hardly planned on the longest relationship being between the two of them.

But it’s become a part of me.

I love the humor and sexiness and intelligence and passion of Jack. His love for Stephanie and their daughters is incredibly attractive and he has a side to him that only appears with those he loves and trusts. He uses his arrogance to mask a lot of his sensitivity and he is truly someone you want in your corner.

Making him a cardiac surgeon was my way of showing the irony of the one organ he could never really command emotionally, until he met Stephanie.

Tommy was the opposite in many ways from Jack. As outgoing as Jack was, Tommy was an introvert. He listened and observed and learned. He was content to live in Jack’s shadow and he never really went out of his way to be in the forefront. I love Tommy probably more than any character and I think he embodies so much of the characteristics I love.  (especially the hairy chest) 🙂

This family is incredibly important to me. They are my voice. They are my imagination. They are my hope. They are my escape.

I truly appreciate you all reading their escapades and I can’t wait until “Defining Moment” comes out.

Please enjoy the flashback below. It has never been released.

Don’t forget to preorder your copy of Defining Moment, available on all ebook formats.

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(The past)

“Cardiothoracic surgery? Are you sure?” Tommy asked as he and Jack talked about picking their specialties. “I know you think you have a way with the heart, but do you always want to have your hands in it?”

Jack rolled his eyes.

“I’ve always wanted to be a surgeon, you know that. Besides, I think holding the power of life and death in your hands is erotic.”

Tommy looked sick.

“That’s fucked up, man.”

Jack laughed.

“You know what I mean. I want to do the most good and fixing the heart will fix lives. The trials I’ve witnessed with bypass technology are awesome. I want to get in there. I can do a lot of good. Besides, you’ll need a good heart surgeon with the way you wear your heart on your sleeve.”

Tommy snorted.

“Not likely.”

“So what about you? Maybe you could pick a less depressing specialty like Forensic pathology? I mean pediatric oncology. Talk about a downer.”

“Not if you help save people,” Tommy said.

“But your patients will all be little kids. How horrible.”

“I don’t think so. Kids are different than adults.”

Jack patted him on the back.

“Good for you! Did you just figure that out?”

Tommy smacked his arm away.

“Shut up. I mean that they don’t hide things. They hurt and they tell you. They don’t bullshit. They are real and I want that. I don’t like adults.”

“Good to know,” Jack laughed. “Adults don’t like you, either.”

They both laughed and then Jack looked at him.

“If you work on kids, how can you help me when I need it?”

Tommy took a drink of his beer.

“What do you mean?”

“That’s the plan, isn’t it? We both become brilliant doctors and then when we grow old, we each save the other. If you work on kids, how can you help me?”

Tommy laughed and then saw he was serious.

“So by that logic, you figure my heart will go out?”

“Well, you do eat a lot of shit,” Jack said and took a bite of his cheeseburger.

Tommy rolled his eyes and then looked at his pizza.

“It’s got cheese on it. That’s good. Besides, look at what you’re eating.”

Jack chewed on a piece of bacon that fell from his burger.

“We’re talking about you, not me.”

“No, actually, we’re talking about you not having me to save you. What specialty did you want me to study? Proctology?”

Jack choked.  “I will never, ever have any need for one of those.”

“So your asshole is as confident as you are?”

They both burst out laughing.

“We’re fucked up,” Tommy said.

“Nah, just you.”

“Nice,” Tommy said.

“So has Julie picked a major yet?” Jack asked.

“No. She is determined to pledge a sorority. I need to stop that,” he sighed.

“Why? We are both in a fraternity.”

Tommy stared at him.

“Oh, well not all fraternity guys are like us.”

“Us?”

“Okay, me,” Jack said. “You act like I’m a sex freak. I just like to enjoy women. The female anatomy is a beautiful thing.”

“So why not become a gynecologist?”

“Ew, no. I don’t want to see what’s wrong with it. I want to appreciate it for all it is; you know, healthy and shit.”

Tommy shook his head.

“There is something wrong with you.”

“No, you just need to learn to live a little. I could hook you up with Heather’s sister.”

“Yeah, I’ll pass. I have to go study. Are you coming?”

Jack cleaned up their trash and nodded.

“Yeah, I should hit the books, too.”

They made their way out and Tommy looked at him.

“Just so you know, I won’t ever let anything happen to you. If you need surgery, I’ll be there.”

Jack smiled.

“I know that.”

“And I don’t ever plan on having you touch my heart. I plan on living a long time.”

Jack looked at his best friend.

“I’m going to hold you to that.”

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Congratulations!!

First off- congratulations to Taylor Conklin and Georgie West! You both win an autographed copy of Defining Moment before it’s released. Please send your address to rnadler103@aol.com and I will get the books out asap 🙂

Now onto the answers…

How did Stephanie and Jack find out they were pregnant with Sabrina?

Brittany told them before Tommy took her home to recover from being attacked in the woods.

When and where did Tommy first meet John? What was his reaction to meeting someone from Brittany’s past?

They met in Germany after Bill was brought there. He didn’t like John because of how he reacted to Brittany. He called Jack to help him relax 🙂

How did David first meet Desi?

Nobody got this one right- he met her at the farm after Bee broke his heart. He kicked over the hay and she came in and yelled at him.

What were the names of the swingers Brittany and Tommy met while at the Poconos? When did they make another appearance?

Jimmy and Perla. They made another appearance when everyone went to the Poconos. They liked Tommy’s “assets” and they rejected Jack as a joke.

When did Elaine first meet Jade?

Mike brought her with him after Elaine took a fall. Mike and Jade were just beginning their romance.

Who was with Stephanie when she went into labor with Tessa?

Evan, Tommy and Naomi.

More later! I have a special flashback to post.

Trivia part two

Okay, here are the questions for night two of trivia! I don’t know why the replies from day 1 aren’t showing up, but I will copy and paste them if I can’t figure it out. In the meantime, Here you go!

  1. What were the names of the swingers Brittany and Tommy met while at the Poconos? When did they make another appearance?
  2. When did Elaine first meet Jade?
  3. Who was with Stephanie when she went into labor with Tessa?

This is just a question…

  1. Who do you feel are the most romantic of all the characters?

Win a signed paperback!

Trivia time!

In anticipation of book 22 in a few weeks, I want to give away a signed paperback of Defining Moment before it’s available for purchase.

I will pick a winner from all of the winning answers over the next three days. Each day will have 3 questions to answer.

Today’s questions:

1.) How did Stephanie and Jack find out they were pregnant with Sabrina?

2.) When and where did Tommy first meet John? What was his reaction to meeting someone from Brittany’s past?

3.) How did David first meet Desi?

Please reply to this post with your answers!

Good luck

What is your moment?

Defining moment.

This phrase is a concept I have focused on from day one of writing this series. Can a defining moment change who you are? What if that moment is the worst in your life? What if it’s the best?

How much control do we have over our destiny?

I asked that a lot with Brittany when I developed her character and how she would handle moving forward with her life. I tried to find a balance between her reactions and her expectations. I didn’t want her attack to be always on the minds of those in her life.

I didn’t want her to see herself as a victim.

This idea went with other characters, too.

Tommy and Julie had a defining moment. When their parents died, their lives became forever changed.

But did that mean they couldn’t move forward?

Would that moment always stop them from being truly happy?

Life throws us curveballs all the time. It might be a personal setback or a professional upset. It might be an unexpected romance or a reconnecting of a lost love.

I’ve discovered that our defining moment isn’t always just one.

Sometimes, we redefine ourselves more than once.

Sometimes, that’s the most important part of living.

Back to “Defining Moment”.

This book covers a few major points in our Family by Choice.

We begin with the scare David had, but the knowledge that he is okay will come pretty quickly. Desi is shaken up. Julie thinks all girls are trouble and her son should stay home with her. Bill and Julie both feel that their son is growing into an incredible young man.

David is falling hard for Desi and she feels the same way. It is new and fun and romantic and the issues they have before them are certainly not small.

Desi is healing, and she is happy. It’s important for her to stay in the happiness and not let the doubt creep in. She struggles with that.

David does his best to help her.

Until the cancer comes back.

And Ian and Cassie face a harsh truth.

Desi wasn’t the only one who suffered a life altering moment.

Cassie has been through hell, and her need to protect those around her has led to catastrophic results.

Ian has reached his limit. He has yet to come to terms with all that his daughter has been through, and now his wife is in terrible danger. His defining moment might just cost him everything.

Naomi suffers a defining moment of her own when her life is blown apart by the actions of someone she least expects. Her ability to come to terms with what happens is both heartbreaking and eye opening.

It’s something nobody could see coming.

Tommy and Brittany struggle to find a way to help their daughter.

Stephanie and Jack are dealing with their daughters and the aftermath of Tessa’s surgery and recovery. What has happened to Desi and in a way to David, has struck Sabrina deep within, and she questions a lot about herself and her place in the world.

Will a handsome young man change how she looks at herself?

Bill and Julie also have their hands full when Josie decides she is ready to date.

This doesn’t sit well with anyone- especially David.

But perhaps the biggest moments come from places we don’t expect.

Mike and Jade and Evan and Liz.

Mike and Jade are waiting to welcome their miracle baby and memories of all they have been through are creeping into their lives. Their daughters go off to camp and everything is progressing as it should.

And then an evil from the past resurfaces in a way nobody could see coming.

Evan and Liz are also changing. Things have been good, but Evan worries about how happy his wife truly is. She misses her brother and if he was truthful, so does Evan.

He adores working with Brittany and he knows Kevin is happy living in Michigan, but he wonders if maybe it’s time for a change? Maybe they should move back to LA?

Before they can really discuss things, a threat from their past resurfaces and throws their calm happiness into chaos.

Defining Moment is a continuation of the saga we know as our Family by Choice. It is full of twists and turns and suspense. It is the best of people and the worst of what is out there.

I can’t wait for you to read it. I am attaching a light hearted preview, and at the end, please click on the link to preorder your copy at a reduced rate of $1.99 for a limited time.

Enjoy.

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He walked in and heard Desi before he saw her. She was softly singing to Ophelia and rubbing her back as the pig grunted. David stood mesmerized at the beautiful sound and jumped when she turned to him.

“Are you going to come in and help or just stand there?” she smiled.

Blushing, he walked in.

“I didn’t want to intrude,” he said and walked in. He saw four tiny piglets next to Ophelia, all of them nursing.

“Oh my gosh! Look what you did!” he looked at Ophelia.

She grunted and Desi moved.

“Here comes number five,” she said.

“Wait, right now? Where?”

Desi raised her eyebrows at him.

“Right, I know where. What can I do?”

“Just watch so she doesn’t hurt herself. We really shouldn’t do anything else. She knows what to do.”

David watched in awe as another little piglet squirted out.  Desi picked it up with a towel and rubbed it before placing it down with the others until it latched onto a nipple.

“Another boy,” she smiled.

David was speechless.

“You okay?” she asked.

He just nodded.

“Here is another one,” she said.

David blinked and when the piglet stopped after it was halfway out, he panicked.

“Should we help it? Is it going to be okay? What if it’s being crushed? Why are you so calm?”

Desi looked at him.

“Give me your hand.”

David did and she moved it to Ophelia’s back, applying pressure at a certain point. David was stunned when the little piglet came right out.

“Here, pick it up and rub it,” she handed him a towel.

“No, I mean I shouldn’t. I think I’ll hurt it. What if I hurt it?”

Ophelia squealed and Desi shrugged.

“Another one is coming, so you better move it before it gets crushed.”

David looked at her with fear and picked the tiny pig up.

“It’s a girl! She had a girl!” he grinned.

Desi laughed and nodded.

“Put her over here so she can latch,” she said.

“Huh? Oh, right,” he said and put the pig down.

“It’s not eating. Something is wrong with it. What do we do?” he asked in a panic.

Desi gently moved the baby closer and helped her latch onto the nipple.

“She just needed a little more encouragement.”

David was amazed.

“How do you know all of this?”

Desi smiled as she helped another baby come out.

“It’s the family business,” she said as she rubbed the baby. “Sort of. My dad has taught me a lot and I really love helping. I think it’s a miracle every time we bring a new animal into the world.”

David watched as the piglets nursed and finally, she appeared to be done.

“We thought there were 12, and she has only had 11. Let me get my dad to check.”

“I can go,” David said.

She smiled.

“You babysit. Just don’t let her roll over on any of them.” She walked away and David looked at her.

“Would she do that?”

He sighed and turned back to the babies and Ophelia.

“So you have a big family now,” he said. “I think you will be a really good mom. I think I should have a talk with Hamlet, too. He should be involved. I saw him earlier and he’s just eating and lounging. That’s not fair. He should have to help you. He should want to help you. He has 11 little children who need their father. How is that okay?”

“Um, are you done with the pep talk?” Ian asked as he and Desi stood there, smiling.

David scrambled to his feet.

“I was just, um, well,” he sighed.

“You were just being adorable,” Desi said and stood next to him as her dad went to check Ophelia.

David grinned and watched.

“Desi, we have a code P.”

She nodded and turned to get the supplies.

“What’s that? What’s a code P? What are you doing?” David asked. “Should I do something?”

“The baby is trapped in the birth canal,” she said as she rushed back with a bunch of supplies. She got a long glove for her father and a bunch of lube and she looked at David.

“Put the babies in the basket, quickly. Ophelia may struggle and we don’t want them to get hurt.”

He nodded and quickly picked up each piglet and placed it in the warm basket. They squealed in anger at being removed from nursing, but David tried to quiet them.

“Move away,” Ian said and David did, his eyes wide as Ian stuck his hand where David didn’t think he should and Ophelia squealed at the obstruction.

Desi went to help her dad and David turned the basket so the babies couldn’t see.

“It’s okay. Your mom is going to be fine,” he said and softy pet each piglet.  He turned to see Desi standing there with another piglet.

“All done.”

“You got it? Is it okay?”

“He’s just fine,” she smiled.

Ian cleaned up and smiled at them as he walked out.

“Let’s put them back with her,” she said and David handed her each baby.

“She only had one girl,” Desi said. “That’s really unusual.”

“She won’t eat,” he said.

Desi tried and couldn’t get her to latch.

“We can bottle feed her,” she said. “Hold her and keep her warm and I’ll be right back.”

David nodded and held the little piglet to his shirt.

“Don’t worry little girl,” he said. “Desi will help you.”

“Here, give her this,” Desi said and handed him a bottle.

“Me? No, you do it.”

“Nope. I need to clean up. Besides, you held her first, so you’re her mom now.”

David blinked and Desi laughed.  “I’m kidding. Just feed her for a minute.”

He held the bottle and the little pig hungrily latched on.  Desi finished cleaning and turned to see David rocking the pig in his arms. He was talking softly and she thought it was the most amazing thing she had ever seen. He looked at her and her expression changed.

Was he crying?

“David? What’s wrong?”

He sniffed and looked at her.

“I love bacon. I have bacon almost every day.”

She stifled a laugh.

“That’s okay.”

“No it’s not. How can I ever eat bacon again? What will my life look like without bacon?” he said and the little pig squealed softly.

Desi walked over and took the little pig from him, placing her with her brothers.

“My mom and dad and I all eat meat. We aren’t vegetarians.”

“But how can I eat bacon after seeing what I just saw?”

She shrugged.

“Just take it one day at a time. Maybe next time you get a pizza, you don’t eat pepperoni.”

His face took on a stricken look.

“Oh my God. Everything is bacon, isn’t it? What am I going to do?”

Desi giggled as they walked back to join the rest of the group.

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