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 CHASING DREAMS

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Contessa
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Posts : 5217
Join date : 2008-12-13
Age : 63
Location : Urs Buhler, The man of my dreams!!
Humor : I found it and as always the joke is on me!!

CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: CHASING DREAMS   CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 EmptyWed Jul 25, 2012 12:32 pm


Chapter 163:

Sunday had been a total day of rest for the whole family after the events of the day before. Claire and Pierre hung around and visited and even had gone to Busch Gardens with them on Monday.

Debbie still wasn't feeling well and Jim didn't want to leave her alone so Seb rented a fifteen passenger van and along with their own children, they took Hannah and the boys as well to give Jim and Debbie their first real day alone since they had been back together.

David and Grace had followed in their rental car, adding to the help they had at the park, taking turns on rides and taking care of the children. Lisa, who was pregnant the last time they'd come was thrilled to get to go on some rides with Seb this time since they had so many willing babysitters with them.

The weather had been perfect. The summer heat was gone but it wasn't cold either. The park had been rather busy with all of the schools out for Christmas break but they had a wonderful time. They had brought the double stroller that allowed Lauren to sit up in the front and look around and lie down when it was time for her nap and Jessica's infant seat had a spot to attach on the top so Lisa could see her.

Holly had a permanent smile on her face from the time she'd gotten up that morning, so thrilled to be made the center of attention all day. They had allowed her to open her gifts after breakfast and then they had left almost immediately after, wanting to get an early start on the day.

The cake issue had been solved when Seb had called the park the other day. They had offered to pick up a cake and have it served for them in the Land of the Dragons children's play area. That had worked out well especially with all of the mess being outside. As soon as they had finished eating their cake and were moving away, several of the park's resident birds swooped in to clean up the cake crumbs, leaving no trace of it behind when they were finished.

Then everyone got a surprise when they were invited to go behind the scenes and meet all of the animals who had a part in the Critter Castaway show. The show used rescued animals from all over the country. They had everything from dogs, cats and several different species of birds to a Binturong which is also known as an Asian Bearcat. The funniest thing about this animal was the odor it gave off. It smelled like popcorn. They even got to meet the new 5 month old English Bulldog who wasn't actually in the show yet. He was still in training, learning the routine and getting used to the crowds of people and the noise that came with them. The children had been thrilled to sit and have the animals all coming over to them and each of the children had their turn petting the animals.

The ride home had been very quiet since most of the children fell asleep.

Lisa and Seb tucked Holly into bed together and Seb asked her if she'd had a good day.

"It was a very fun day Papa. Can we go there again another day?"

"Sure we will. Mama and Papa have fun there too."

"Jeremy and me never went to anywhere that was lots of fun like that."

"Well, we want to do lots of fun things with you. But for now, you need to get your rest. I love you Sweetheart. Happy Birthday."

"I love you too, Papa and I love you Mama."

"I love you." Lisa said as she kneeled down and kissed her forehead. "Sleep well"

Mary came down to sit with Seb and Lisa for a while before going to bed. In the morning, she would be leaving for her daughter's house for two weeks.

"Are you all packed and ready to go?" Lisa asked her.

"Yes, it was so quiet here today with no one to take care of but the dogs. I had no excuse not to have everything done. I'll miss having Christmas here with all of you."

"We'll miss you too, Mary but we understand. Your family misses you and I know that you miss them. You just have a great time with them and we'll be waiting for you to come home." Seb told her.

Mary nodded and after a bit more time chatting, she went to bed, hoping to get a good night's sleep before her trip in the morning.

The next day, Seb, along with Jeremy and Sammy, took Mary to the airport and the boys were happy to get to sit and watch the planes taking off and landing for a while.

While he was gone, Lisa had gotten an unexpected delivery. Simon, along with some of the other executives at Sony/BMG had gotten the children an early Christmas gift. The men delivering had been given orders to get it completely set up and operational so the children could begin using it right away.

When Seb and the boys returned, he could hear some kind of machine running out in back of the house but had no idea what it could be. He knew it didn't sound like the lawn mower or any of Jim's other power tools.

He and the boys rounded the corner of the house to find all of their girls bundled up in coats, hats and gloves like it was freezing outside and indeed it was. They were jumping in piles of homemade snow being shot out of what looked like a cannon.

The three girls and Blake and Brandon were covered in white and it was all stuck in whatever hair was sticking out from under their hats. Their cheeks and noses were red from the cold.

"Papa, can we go jump in that stuff?" Sammy asked, having no idea what it was.

"That is snow Sammy. It is just like what falls out of the sky in the places on earth that get cold enough for snow. Instead of raining, the moisture turns into snowflakes like these. Only these are made by the machine instead."

Seb turned to Lisa and asked where it came from and she told him of the card that had been included in the delivery, wishing them all a very Happy Christmas from Simon and everyone at Sony/BMG.

"I asked the delivery men if this was a rental and they said no, that it had been purchased for us."

"We get to keep this?" Jeremy asked.

"Yes, son it looks that way." Seb answered.

Later that evening, they made a call to Simon and put the phone on the speaker so Simon could hear all of the excited children thanking him for their gift. Lisa told him that it had been a perfect gift and that they had had quite a time getting the children in the house tonight.

"I'm glad they are all enjoying it. I wanted them to have something they would all enjoy for a long time. Every child should get to have fun making snowmen and throwing snowballs at each other and since that is highly unlikely in Florida, I decided to help them out."

"We made angels in the snow too, Mr. Simon." Sammy told him.

"Sammy I am so happy that you had fun. Have your Papa and Mama send us some pictures of all of you playing out there."

"Okay I will." Sammy answered.

Seb asked Lisa if she would mind if he spoke to Simon in private for a few minutes, so she ushered the children out of the office and shut the door.

Once the children were settled for the night and the house was quiet, Seb got himself and Lisa a late night snack and brought it up to their suite where she was getting Jessica to bed. He had a Christmas gift for the family that he hoped Lisa would like. He had been working on the details for a couple of weeks. Now it was down to the wire and he would have to tell her.

After he held Jessica and kissed her goodnight, he placed her on her side in the cradle and covered her with the light blanket. He ran his hand through her soft hair and smiled down at her as she curled up and yawned. She was such a good baby, requiring only the basic care but she was already such a joy, now beginning to smile and respond to everyone in the family when she heard their voices or saw a familiar face.

Sometimes the children fought over who's turn it was to help with the baby, each one wanting to be the one to hold her and burp her after Lisa fed her. Holly had even gotten good at changing a wet diaper. She had no competition there. None of the others wanted to help with that chore, except for Kayti who wanted to try and they did help her but she would get bored and run off halfway through the change and leave Jessica lying there with a naked bottom.

Seb had their little snack all set up and when Lisa came out of the bathroom with her hair let down and her brush making the long strokes to brush it out, he took the brush and continued the chore, although he didn't look on it as a chore. He enjoyed it.

"Baby, sit down here for a minute. I have something to tell you. It's about the family Christmas gift."

"What? I knew you have been up to something. There's been a lot of whipering going on when all of the others have been here." she said with a grin.

"I hope you're gong to think it's a good idea. It's going to change our Christmas plans."

"Okay, so what is it?" The curiosity was killing her as he stumbled around the subject.

"I want to take the family home to Paris for Christmas."

He waited as he saw her mouth drop open but she didn't say anything at first and he couldn't tell if she was happy or upset that he'd gone and made these major plans without discussing them with her.

"Listen, we don't have to go. I know we had all our plans around having our first Christmas here in the house. I just thought that in a few weeks I'll be gone for work and the tour will be starting and it will be a long time before we can do anything this big with the whole family."

Finally Seb got his answer. She threw herself into his arms and hugged him so tight he couldn't breathe.

"Seb it was a fabulous idea. I've been wanting to go back to our house there and didn't know when we would be able to go. We didn't have much time to spend there. And to be able to bring all of the children there too will be fantastic. Does Maman know we're coming?"

"Yes, this is why she wasn't coming here for Christmas." He said with a grin.

"Oh you guys are really sneaky." She said and poked him in the ribs. "We'll just have to tell everyone else. I hope Mom and Dad won't be too upset."

"They aren't. They also thought it was a great idea." He said as his grin kept getting bigger.

"Am I the only one who didn't know about this plan of yours?"

"You and the children, yes. We'll have an early Christmas with the family this Saturday then we'll fly out on Sunday the twenty first and we'll come home on January fourth, which will give Jeremy and Holly a few days to settle back in before going back to school. And then the week after we get back, it will be time for me to head out as we begin rehearsals for the tour."

"That's almost two weeks in Paris. Seb this will be wonderful. Oh Boy, I'll never get to sleep now. I have so much to think about, deciding what to pack, what we'll need and what we could just get there."

"Seb grasped her around her waist as she stood up to go get started packing."

"Baby, we have plenty of time. Mom and Debbie will help us get packed. I've been planning this for a while. We've got a lot worked out already. Now the children won't be able to be as spread out as they are here. The girls will all be in one room except for Jessica who will still be with us and Sammy and Jeremy will share a room."

"What about Amelia, she can't leave the country yet?"

"I know and I spoke to Brenda and she has made arrangements that Amelia will be able to stay with Carlos and Vicki while we're gone and you know that they are thrilled to have her with them all that time and for Christmas."

"Wow, you've thought of everything, haven't you?"

"I hope so, at least the important things. But honestly, I've had a lot of help with this. Mom has called me with several things she thought I might need to handle. Maman, Aunt Cecilia and Adrienne are helping on that end to get the house stocked with food, cleaning and getting the bedrooms ready. Pierre is going to make sure to have a large enough vehicle for all of us when we arrive at the airport. Now, let's forget about all of this for tonight. We can get at it full force tomorrow."

"Do you really expect me to turn my brain off right now and sleep after you tell me I'm going back to Paris?"

"Well, I wasn't actually thinking of sleep right now. I was thinking of something else that just might take your mind off of Paris for awhile."

Seb pulled her tightly against him, leaving her no doubt what was on his mind. She smiled up at him and began to slowly unbutton his shirt and kissed his chest as she opened the shirt wider and wider as the buttons were released.

He stood there trying to be patient as she explored the wide expanse of his chest but he wasn't doing very well. He finally stopped her long enough to completely remove his shirt and jeans and helped her to remove her clothes, guiding her to their bed where he succeeded in taking her mind off of Paris for quite some time.

The remainder of the week flew by with preparations for their early Christmas with the family and their trip to Paris the following day.

The gifts that would go under the tree Christmas morning in Paris had already been shipped and received by Maman. She had said not to worry about a tree. It would be taken care of before they arrived. Seb and Lisa didn't want their trip to disrupt the children's Christmas. Especially for Holly and Jeremy who would be enjoying the first happy Christmas they'd ever experienced in their lives.

Jim and Debbie had borrowed some space in a locked closet to hide their children's gifts, to keep snooping eyes from seeing anything they shouldn't. So Lisa added all of their gifts to the Fletchers to the closet so they could be put under their tree. In some ways, Lisa was going to miss them all sharing Christmas together but on the other hand, she also felt that it would be good for the Fletchers to have this first Christmas as a family alone where they could reminisce about Christmases past as well as build new memories to remember in the future. Next year they would have a new additon that would bring them even more joy.

It was so great to see Jim and Debbie rebuilding their lives after so much time apart. The children were definitely thriving having a complete family again. The boys were pretty indifferent to the news of their new brother or sister. They were surrounded by babies here, what was one more.

Hannah on the other hand knew where babies came from and had initially been embarrassed to think of her parents doing "That". Now that the newness had worn off and she didn't think of that part anymore, she was getting really excited about the new baby and was really hoping it was a girl so the family would be even and she wanted to be able to dress the baby up in pretty girls clothes.

The Fletchers and Izambards had shared an early lunch together today since the Izambards would be leaving before daylight in the morning. The children requested to be able to play in the snow again, as they had every day since the machine had arrived.

After some play time, the Fletchers headed home and the Izambards went upstairs to get baths early so they would be ready for the big family dinner and an early bedtime. Although Lisa knew they could sleep on the plane, she feared that some of them might be too excited to sleep on the plane and she didn't want any overtired cranky children if she could help it. It was going to be a long flight with so many children to keep occupied.

Sammy had been so excited when he was told they were going to France and to see Grandmere. The rest of the children were excited too but Sammy was ready to get in the car and head to the airport the minute he'd found out. They all got to the point that they wished they hadn't said anything to the children until it was closer to being time to leave.

As had become the norm for when the whole family gathered, the gathering took place at Seb and Lisa's, mostly because they had the most space.

Carlos, Vicki and the children were also joining them so that Amelia would be part of the evening. Then she would return to the condo with them until Seb and Lisa got back from Paris.

They fixed a simple meal with plenty of good things to eat and Mom came with her usual supply of a variety of holiday treats. The children were helped with fixing their plates and they were told that if they wanted to open any gifts they would have to eat their dinner first. They would have happily gone hungry that evening just to open gifts instead.

"Presents Mama." Kayti said holding up her empty plate for Lisa to see that she had finished eating. Normally, Kayti and the rest of the children would have asked for a second helping, but not tonight. She was disappointed for a bit when she was told that she would have to wait until everyone else was finished too. She sat in her booster seat watching everyone and it was plain to see that she was willing them to hurry up and finish.

The table was cleared and the guys got the dishes put into the dishwasher to start running while Lisa, Mom and Alex got the children changed into their pajamas so they would be ready for bed after their gifts were opened.

Dad took the short trip out with Seb as he took the dogs out for a walk so they wouldn't be interupted later.

"So, are you all ready to go?"

"I think we are. We packed a minimum of clothes. We can wash them while we're there. Besides what they'll get on Christmas morning, we aren't bringing too many toys. Everyone there said they would make sure there were things for the children to play with. We've got the two babies things packed together, Jeremy and Sammy's together and Holly and Kayti's together. Even so, the amount of luggage is staggering." Seb laughed.

"It is a big undertaking to travel with so many children, but they are so excited. I think they'll be fine."

"Are you sure that Mom was alright with me planning this? I know how she loves the holidays."

"This is fine, Seb. Today or Christmas day to open gifts. It doesn't matter. We know how much this meant to you to take your family home for Christmas."

"Thank you, Dad. I am really excited. Lisa is too. When we were there last year, we didn't spend much time at the house and she's looking forward to that this time."

"I can tell she's excited. Don't worry about the house or the dogs. Between us and Urs, Alex and the Fletchers everything will be taken care of here."

"I'm sure it will. I'm not concerned. You don't really even have to worry about it. Jim and Debbie will be here. I even gave Blake and Brandon a job for while we are away. They'll be responsible for feeding and excersizing the dogs. I thought that it would give them something to do and a chance to earn some money. They were very excited about it."

"That was a great idea. It'll help to keep them out of trouble. I'm sure they'll miss the other children while you're away."

*

Everyone gathered in the ballroom. The children were crowded around the tree which had miraculously grown a good sized pile of gifts underneath it sometime since the last time they'd been by it a couple of hours ago.

That pile quickly disappeared as the gifts were passed out to everyone. They took turns opening a gift so that everyone could see what the other's had gotten. Although they had said that they wouldn't do adult gifts this year, everyone had disregarded that and bought at least some small thing that the recipient would like.

Of all of the gifts that the children received, the one they were most excited about was the new backpacks they all got from Grandma and Grandpa. Each one had their initials embroidered on the front and was filled with all sorts of fun things to do on the plane trip.

Each bag held slightly different items, but they each had crayons and coloring books, an age appropriate paperback book to read, as well as a couple of different handheld video games. They also had an MP3 player that was already loaded with their favorite music and the best thing was their own individual DVD player with headphones. They would be able to bring their favorite movies to watch on the plane and while they were in Paris.

Kayti's bag only had one of the video games but that left room for her new little baby doll, complete with three different outfits that Auntie Alex had given her.

Mom handed Lisa a good sized bag of batteries that would fit the different units. The last item that they all had was several packs of chewing gum. Mom added that to help them avoid any inner ear trouble while they were in the air. She told Lisa to make sure that Lauren had her pacifier and that feeding Jessica would help to pop any bubbles in their ears. The sucking action for both of the babies would help them with this.

She had told Lisa of this idea of the bags once she knew Lisa had been told of the trip and Lisa thought it was a wonderful idea to give the kids their own travel bag to help keep them occupied.

It wasn't easy to get the older children settled. Sammy said he wasn't tired but after reading an extra chapter in their latest Little House book, the children were kissed goodnight and told to try to get to sleep so they would have a good day tomorrow.

The adults visited for a short time and then Mom and Dad left wishing them a Merry Christmas. Shortly after Carlos and Vicki said they should get going too. After getting Carlito and Amelia's things all packed up, hugs were given all around. Lisa tried unsuccessfully to hide the tears that fell as she said goodbye to Amelia.

"We'll be back in a couple of weeks, Sweetheart. I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you too but Mama and Papa said we would have fun."

"I know you will. Be a good girl and help take good care of Carlito."

"I always help. Carlito likes me. He smiles at me."

Before they left, Lisa hugged Carlos and Vicki. They looked into the car at the children buckled into their seats.

"She's already yours. She's very happy with all of you."

"Is this really okay Lisa. I can see how hard it is for you to go without her."

"It's fine Carlos. I know this is the best situation for her. You both love her and she obviously loves all of you. We'll settle into the new dynamic in time. I knew it wouldn't be easy to keep her here and then let her go but it could have ended a lot worse. I still feel as if she'll be part of our family, just like the three of you already are."

"Thank you. You know this has made us very happy. She adds so much joy into our lives."

"Have a great trip. We'll be right here when you get back."

"Thanks Vicki. I'm so excited about this trip. The plane ride I'm not so sure about. I hope the children do well. It's a long time for them to be cooped up."

"It looks like they'll have a lot to keep them busy. Just take them for walks up and down the aisle if they get too fidgety."

Lisa kept trying to figure out how just she and Seb would be able to properly care for all six children on a plane. Oh well, she'd sure find out tomorrow. He didn't seem worried about it at all.


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Contessa
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Join date : 2008-12-13
Age : 63
Location : Urs Buhler, The man of my dreams!!
Humor : I found it and as always the joke is on me!!

CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 Empty
PostSubject: Re: CHASING DREAMS   CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 EmptyWed Jul 25, 2012 12:33 pm

Chapter 164:

"Is it time to go to Paris now Mommy?" Sammy asked sleepily when Lisa woke him up and he forgot to use his new name for her.

"Yes Sweetheart, we are finally going to go to see Grandmere."

Morning had come quickly and as organised as Lisa thought they had gotten before bed last night, right down to having each child and themselves an outfit laid out to wear, it still seemed as if they were running behind schedule, to Lisa at least.

Jessica was acting fussy and therefore was struggling against the breast that Lisa was offering to her. So she abandoned that for the time being thinking that maybe once Jessica woke up a bit more, they could try again. She would feed her again at the airport once they were through customs. Then Lauren somehow got the lid off of her sippy cup and the milk soaked her clothes so she had to be taken, cleaned up and re dressed in a clean outfit. The rest of the children were very excited so they were having a hard time focusing on what they were told to do but eventually did get dressed and down to the table where Debbie was already waiting with their breakfast. Lisa had told her that she didn't have to come this morning but now she was glad that Debbie had insisted on coming to help. Just helping to get breakfast out of the way was wonderful.

Finally everyone was clean, dressed and had eaten their breakfast. The bags were waiting outside on the front porch for the hired van from the airport to arrive to take them. It would have taken two vehicles to transport all of them and their luggage.

Lisa counted the bags to be sure they were all there and each of the older children was responsible for carrying their own back pack and were glad to do it. A bag as large as Lisa dared to take as a carryon was packed with snacks and tiny drink boxes for the children as well as all of the things she would need for the babies on the flight.They were each allowed two carryons so she had an extra bag with some of their personal items, their video camera and regualar digital camera she didn't want to put in the checked baggage, just in case it got lost. Seb was carrying his laptop so she didn't bother bringing hers.

The horn sounded from the fifteen passenger van that had arrived right on time. Jim hurried over to help Seb get everything loaded. Then they had to buckle three car seats and a booster seat in before loading the children.

When Seb said they were ready, Lisa took one last look around to make sure that they hadn't forgotten anything.

"Come on. Anything we've missed we can get in Paris." Seb said rounding her shoulder with his arm.

"I know you're right. I just had a terrible thought this morning. Remember we saw that Home Alone movie the other night."

"Well, I just got each of the children buckled in except for Jessica." he said smiling down at his daughter in Lisa's arms. "So, there's no worry about forgetting one of the children."

"Do they all have their back packs?"

"We'll go ask them. Let's go."

Sure enough each child had their bags safely in their laps, not even wanting to set them on the floor.

Holly was playing with Lauren making her laugh. Kayti was still looking rather drowsy so she was resting against the edge of her carseat with her thumb in her mouth. Lisa had been trying to gently break her of that but ever since Jessica was born, Kayti had decided she wanted to suck her thumb. Dr. Jane told Lisa not to make too big of a deal about that right now. She said that Kayti would probably do it herself before too long. The boys were talking amongst themselves, both obviously very excited to get going.

With it still being so early, everyone was quiet on the thirty minute ride. Seb was glad that someone else was driving that knew the way. For several years the area around the airport had been under construction. It looked to be just about completed now but the exits were all changed and there was even a whole new road going straight into the airport. It was going to make it a lot easier for people to get in and out of the airport with this exit and road that was completely dedicated to airport traffic.

Seb stepped out of the van as soon as they pulled along side of the departure doors. He told the children to stay in their seats until he came back. When he returned he helped Lisa to get them all out. The driver and a porter were already unloading their luggage onto a large cart. When they stepped inside the doorway, Lisa was very happy to see the two large golf cart looking transports that would get them all to the checkpoints.

They made it all the way through the checkpoints finding that the terminal employees were very willing to help the large family. It was with great relief that Lisa sat down at their gate with all of the children gathered around them. Seb kept looking around like he was looking for something or someone and Lisa couldn't believe it when she saw him.

"Donovan! What are you doing here?"

"I asked him to come along and give us a hand with the children on the plane. He will sit with the boys, freeing us up to take care of the four girls." Seb answered from behind her. Then he shook Donovan's hand. " I also didn't think he'd mind getting a chance to go see Adrienne for Christmas.... You had me worried. I was afraid you'd decided not to come."

"Not on your life. Sorry I worried you. The cab I was in got stuck behind a traffic accident. I was just about to get out and start walking when we finally were able to go around it."

"You really have thought of everything haven't you? And I think that Adrienne will be thrilled. You couldn't have given her a better Christmas gift than to bring Donovan along." Lisa said, before she leaned up and kissed his cheek.

"That's what I thought. I can't wait to see her face when she sees him."

"Well thank you Donovan. We definitely appreciate the help." Lisa told him.

While they waited, Lisa fed Jessica, Seb fed Lauren a bottle and they let the children play in an open area that had no chairs and no people. They wanted them to run off as much energy as possible before they had to get on the plane. After Lauren had finished her bottle, he set her on the floor to crawl around, then he went and got them all some breakfast danish and muffins so they wouldn't be hungry as soon as they started the flight.

When the flight was called, families with children were among the first to board. So they gathered the children and all of the carryon luggage and lined up to have their boarding passes checked. Their tickets were for first class so they didn't have far to go. After getting the extra carryon put up in the overhead bin, Seb and Lisa sat Holly and Kayti in their seats and got Lauren's carseat buckled in. Then Seb went across the aisle and helped Donovan get the boys settled. He told the boys that they needed to listen to whatever Donovan said to them and that Mommy and Papa would be over to check on them from time to time. They'd already showed Donovan their backpacks with all of their gear and Lisa had added some snacks and juice drinks to the boys bags.

"Thanks Donovan." Seb said again.

"We'll have a great time won't we boys?"

"Yup, I'm excited cuz I'm gonna see Grandmere in a little while."

Seb and Donovan met eye to eye over Sammy's head. Both of them knowing that Sammy had no idea how long this trip was actually going to take. Seb and Lisa had tried to prepare the children for their long confinement and only time would tell how each of them would handle it.

"This is fun flying on a plane. I never went on a plane or to Paris before." Jeremy told Donovan.

"I've been on lots of planes. But I 've never been to Paris." Donovan told them.

"Boys just remember what I said. When we take off into the air, your belly will feel funny for a minute and you'll be tipped way back in your seat. And then when the pilot gets up high, the plane will get straight, like this and your belly will be alright." he said showing them with hand gestures. Then he took a peek into the seat pockets to be sure that there were air sickness bags in them, just in case either of the boys felt ill.

"Okay Papa." they replied.

Seb hoped that all of the children took to flying well because he wanted to be able to have them come and visit him when he was traveling. He hoped their excitement would carry them through this first encounter and leave them happy with the adventure. When he was sure that they were settled, he went and made a quick trip to the lavatory and returned to help Lisa with the girls but found that she had everything well under control. Holly and Kayti were already pulling things out of their bags. Lisa had emptied the seat pockets in front of the girls so they could put things in there.

Lauren was in her carseat on the other side of Lisa on the opposite aisle from the boys. Lisa was holding Jessica and Seb and Lisa had Kayti and Holly in between them, with Seb on the aisle close to the boys.

Once the passengers had all boarded, a flight attendent closed the door and shortly after the safety instructions were given as always. Lisa tried not to think of what could happen. Even though it was approaching a year since it had happened, the memory of the near miss of the two planes on their honeymoon was still very vivid in her mind. She wondered if Seb had the same thoughts when he smiled over at her during the instructions. He reached over and gave her hand a small squeeze.

As soon as the plane began to back out of the gate, they all heard the cutest giggle coming from Sammy. Seb and Lisa looked over and he had the biggest smile on his face. He had his hands clasped together and his feet were wiggling.

"No Kayti, you need to keep your seatbelt on while we are on the plane." Lisa told her when she saw her fiddling with it.

She wondered if they'd made the right decision not to bring her regular car seat. They had so much to carry that they thought she'd do alright, especially sitting between them. She would however, make her keep the seatbelt on all the time except to take a walk or go potty. That way they wouldn't be chasing her.

Minutes passed as they taxied into the line for it to be their turn to take off. When they finally heard the engines get louder and then they began the rapid increase in speed, Lisa and Seb kept looking at the faces of all of their children, watching for any sign of fear.

They didn't need to worry about Jessica or Lauren. They had both fallen asleep shortly after getting settled. Looking over at the boys, so far they were fine, both of them had huge smiles and were giggling. Donovan looked like he was enjoying watching them. Kayti was holding her doll and the tiny bottle that came with it. She was pretending to feed the doll like Lauren got fed. Holly was just sitting staring straight ahead. No smile and no frown, that is until the plane's tires left the ground and the plane had that momentary feeling like it was falling. Holly tried to climb out of her seat and into Seb's lap but he reached down and held her hands, keeping her from unbuckling herself.

"It's alright Sweetheart. That's the way it's supposed to feel. We're up in the air now." he said, trying to calm her. He saw the fear in her eyes just like she used to be in the pool.

He wanted to let her get up and into his arms and it seemed like a long time before the seatbelt sign went off and he was going to let her up. Lisa saw what he was going to do and shook her head no. She wrote him a quick note and passed it to him.

"I know you want to hold her Seb but she needs to get used to this and you can't hold her the whole flight. If she gets really upset, maybe we'll need to hold her. See, she's already doing better."

After he read the note, he looked down and Holly did look better and not afraid for the moment. She was back to playing with Kayti and the things in her bag.

"Are you okay?" Lisa asked him, knowing that he really had needed to pick her up.

"Yes, and you were right." he said with a wink.

They settled in for the flight that would take them to New York for a layover before they would continue on to London and then their final leg that would get them to Paris.

They made their connection in New York with only twenty minutes to spare so they didn't have time for letting the children play. But once this flight was in the air, the flight attendents began serving their lunch so that kept the children busy for a while. They were all interested in watching what everyone was given. Sammy asked if he could have one of the little bottles of juice that the attendent gave to the man in front of him. Donovan had to explain to him that it wasn't juice and not something that children could drink.

After she ate, Lisa fed Lauren one of her little toddler meals that she'd brought while Seb held Jessica. Then she fed and changed Jessica who fell right back to sleep when she was finished.

Changing Lauren had been a bit more difficult. She was starting to get very wiggly when she got changed, always trying to get down. Seb had her lying across his lap, and was thankful that it was only a wet one. When he finally got her put back together, he went to wash up, making a stop on the way back to speak to the boys and make sure they didn't need anything.

"It will make the trip feel shorter if you try to take a nap for a while."

"Are we going to be at Grandmere's soon?"

"It's still going to be a long time, Sammy. I know it's hard to sit still so long and you are all doing a great job. I'm proud of you."

It was a very tired group who came off of the plane in Paris a full day after leaving Florida. The children had done quite well, considering. They had taken walks up and down the aisles to get rid of some of their fidgetyness. Kayti had had one time when she was insisting that she wanted to get down to play and had cried for a short time until Seb got her interested in something else and Lauren got tired of being confined so they took turns walking the aisle with her.

The layover in London had given them some time to let the kids play but it was the middle of their night and they had fallen right to sleep after leaving London.

Pierre met them all right in the customs waiting area, just as promised. But he was not alone. Aunt Cecile and Adrienne were there as well.

The children recognised them and ran to them. Happy to see familiar faces in this strange place. Hugs and kisses were given all around and when Seb got his usual exuberant hug from Adrienne, he gave her an extra squeeze.

"I brought you an early Christmas gift."

"Oh really? Where is it? Can I open it now or do I have to wait for Christmas?"

"Ummm well, I guess you'll have to ask him that question." he said grinning down at her.

He waited for what he said to sink in and then saw her face light up and her head began swiveling around looking for who she hoped to see.

Donovan was standing off to the side of the room, smiling as he saw her welcoming the Izambards, kissing the children, holding the new baby and especially her eager welcome of Sebastien. When she started looking for him, he moved towards her. She moved out of the crowd, careful not to step on any of the children and ran to him, launching herself into his open arms.

"Are you really here? Am I dreaming?"

"I'm here. I'm right here." he said holding her to him still, smelling her scent and feeling her body against his. He knew he owed Sebastien big time. Sure, he had been there to sit with the boys on the plane. But they hadn't been any trouble at all, actually they were very entertaining listening to their little boy chatter which helped to pass the time on the long trip.

Seb came up behind Adrienne and kissed the top of her head. She spun around and threw herself back into his arms.

"You are the greatest. Do you know that? I love you Seb."

"I love you too. Merry Christmas."

"Where are you staying?" She asked Donovan.

"With you." Seb answered. I already talked to Aunt Cecile. He'll have the spare room."

"Oh......good." she said trying to decide if that was good or bad that he was staying at their house. Time alone with him would be scarce with her mother around. She would be watching like a hawk. Well, she wouldn't think about that now. She was just thrilled that he was here at all.

They moved along and got everything loaded into the two vehicles. Pierre had rented a van in which they loaded all of the Izambard's belongings. Donovan left with Adrienne and Aunt Cecile after thanking Seb again.

"Let us know if you need any help while you're here." Adrienne told him.

"I might just take you up on that. Maybe you and Donovan could come over and stay with the children so I can take Lisa out one evening."

"Sure, that would be great."

It was late evening in Paris so the children's body clock's were bound to be messed up. They had just gone through their night and were now wide awake after sleeping on the plane.

Sammy especially was wide awake as he knew that they were in Paris and that meant he'd see Grandmere soon.

"So how is Claire, Pierre?" Lisa asked.

"She's great. She would have come but we needed the room in the van. She'll be by to visit."

"Great tell her I can't wait to see her."

They drove towards the house and Seb saw Lisa with her face pressed to the glass as they passed the Bastille, "their cafe". He was smiling as he watched her, knowing that she was probably reliving their memories. He wasn't surprised that she'd known just where to look for it. When she turned to him, he expected to see a smile on her face, that was not the case. She looked very upset.

"What is it, Ma Cherie?"

"It's closed Seb. Our cafe is closed."

"It is late. Maybe they've closed for the night."

"No, it looks totally empty. There weren't any tables or chairs on the patio. There was big sign in the window. It was too dark for me to see what it said. But I probably couldn't have read it anyway."

He reached across the seat and took hold of her hand.

"I'm sorry Sweetheart. I'll miss it too."

They didn't have too long to mourn the loss of the place that held precious memories. They'd left the main part of the city and headed out into the country just outside of it. They were soon stopping in front of a black iron gate.

"I don't remember a gate here." Lisa said to him.

"Nope, It wasn't here. I had a fence installed around the property shortly after we got home from our honeymoon. I knew I wanted to bring the family here and I was imagining Kayti running right for the river."

Lisa just looked into his eyes for several moments, a lump in her throat making it hard to speak.

"I love you so much."

"I love you too Baby."


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PostSubject: Re: CHASING DREAMS   CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 EmptyWed Jul 25, 2012 12:34 pm

Chapter 165:

The van had barely stopped in front of the house when Maman stepped out onto the front steps. Her face showed just how happy she was. Her family was home for Christmas.

The outside of the house was all lit up with Christmas lights and they could see a decorated Christmas tree through the window with its lights on, welcoming them home. Seb hadn't wanted to take anything away from the children's Christmas by coming to Paris. They loved all of their decorations at home in Florida. So he'd asked his friends and family here in Paris to help him prepare the house for thier visit.

"Welcome Home. I'm so glad that you are all here." she said before they were even out of the van.

Jeremy and Holly easily unbuckled themselves and hopped out of the van and rushed over to hug her. Sammy was having trouble reaching his buckle to release himself and when Seb had unbuckled Lauren's seat, he leaned over and unbuckled Sammy who got a huge look of relief on his face. He slid off of his seat and hopped down out of the van, hitting the ground running until he was scooped up into his Grandmere's arms.

"I missed you so much Grandmere."

"I missed you too, Sammy, all of you. Come inside. You must all be tired."

"Not me Grandmere, cuz I sleeped on the plane." Kayti said as she finally got her hug."

"Wow you are talking very well, Kayti."

"She is Maman." Seb said as he crushed his mother to him. "And they are all wide awake.We'll have to try to get them to lay down in a while and get their body clocks adjusted."

"Lisa how did you and the babies do on the flight?"

"We did fine. Jessica just ate and slept as normal. Lauren and Kayti got a bit irritated sometimes at being confined so long but we managed. Holly and the boys were wonderful."

"Is anyone hungry? I made some things that just need to be heated up."

"Thank you, Maman" Lisa said and hugged her again.

They found the children still in the hall looking at the tree and all of the different decorations on it. Holly was holding Kayti back to keep her from pulling things off of the tree.

"I'm going to go now. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Where are you going, Grandmere?" Sammy asked, wrapping his arms around her waist.

"I'm going home, Sammy. I'll be back after I sleep."

She crouched down and gave him a tight hug and a kiss, promising to be back before he knew it.

Sammy wasn't happy when she left. They'd just gotten there and he had been looking forward to spending a lot of time with her. He hadn't realized that she wouldn't live with them here like she did in Florida.

Pierre stayed a short time then got into his car that had been left here and headed home to let the family unwind.

Over the next couple of hours, luggage was brought in, those that were hungry ate and the children actually settled in and laid down, most of them falling asleep. Jeremy couldn't fall asleep so Lisa told him to take his backpack downstairs to the sofa and he could play quietly. She didn't want him waking the other children up.

Neither Seb nor Lisa had been able to sleep much on the planes with three very young children needing attention. He told her to go up and get some sleep and he'd listen for the children. They probably wouldn't sleep long.

"What about you? I know you have to be tired too."

"I'll sleep for a while when you wake up. I'm used to the traveling, well as much as you can be anyway."

He followed her into their bedroom and she quietly got undressed so the babies wouldn't wake up. Seb kissed her before leaving her to rest.

As they figured, The children only slept a few hours after sleeping so much on the flights. Lisa got up and let Sebastien go upstairs for some sleep. She had found him asleep on one of the sofa's downstairs, right across from Jeremy who had fallen asleep where he was playing one of his games.

After feeding the children, she took them on a tour of the house inside and out now that it was daylight. She could now see the whole fence surrounding the property and was thankful not to have to worry about the children and the river.

This house wasn't as child friendly as their Florida home, not yet anyway. All of the rooms were pretty formal and while decorated beautifully, they were not inviting to a child. They hadn't been here long enough to do anything last time but this time, they would be able to make at least some of the rooms a place where the children could play without worrying about breaking anything.

They hadn't made any specific plans for today, knowing that they would all be tired. Seb came downstairs while Lisa was checking the kitchen cupboards to see what was stocked and if they would need anything from the shops today.

"It looks like whoever did the shopping knew just what to get for all of the children. It had to have been Maman. I don't think we'll need anything at least for a few days." she told him.

"We should call and let them know at home that we made it safely."

"I did that. I called Mom and Alex while you were sleeping."

"Did you rest enough to feel up to an outing today or should we wait?"

"I wouldn't mind going out. What do you have planned?"

"You'll see. Let's go get the children ready to go out. I would wait for tomorrow but it looks like it will be a lot colder tomorrow and we'll be outside."

They piled into the van and Seb had a smile on his face the whole time he was driving. Lisa noticed that he had brought their digital camera with him so she figured it must be something fun for the children.

"Where are we going Papa?" Holly asked him.

"It's a surprise. We'll be there in just a few more minutes. You were all so good on the plane. I know it was hard sitting still so long." he said, not mentioning Kayti's occassional bouts of irritability. She hadn't been that bad considering the length of time she'd had to be confined.

Lisa's smile matched his when she saw where he was going. Up on a large sign in both French and English it read "SANTA'S VILLAGE. Already she could see the brightly colored buildings that looked like candy houses. One larger building stood between the smaller ones and looked like a small castle.

Lauren and Jessica were installed into the stroller and the rest of the children were paired up and instructed to keep a hold of their partner's hand. Jeremy and Sammy, Holly and Kayti hurried ahead of Seb and Lisa but were well within their vision.

Already they were excited as they saw the Christmas village with all of the brightly colored lights and tables full of all sorts of decorations and ornaments. Of course they wanted everything they saw but as they went on Lisa and Seb let them pick a few special ornaments a piece to take home with them.

"See the funny horsies, Papa."

Seb couldn't hold back his laughter. " Kayti, that isn't a horse. Those are reindeer. Do you remember our Santa and his sleigh on our roof at home? These are the reindeer that pull Santa's sleigh.

"Is Santa here, Papa?"

"I believe he is, Sammy. We'll have to keep looking to find out."

Lisa saw Jeremy's look of disbelief on his face, but he made no comment and she was glad that he had remembered their talk about not spoiling the younger children's fun.

Steaming mugs of hot chocolate and large gingerbread cookies were given to everyone. They all sat so that Seb and Lisa could help the younger ones with their cocoa so they wouldn't burn themselves.

"That sure was good. It warmed my belly up. Can I have some more, Mama?" Jeremy asked.

"Why don't we walk some more and then get more cocoa before we leave.There's still lot's more to see."

"Okay." he said then made sure to get the last drop of his drink out of the cup.

Inside the buildings were statues of elves shown doing different tasks such as making toys or cookies and one building had the elves retrieving Santa's naughty and nice list from the large printer attached to the very large computer.

"They've moved Santa into the computer age I see." Lisa chuckled.

According to a sign they approached, every half hour the story of Pere Noel, the French version of the Santa story, was read and they were right on time for the next reading. Children were invited to come and sit on the wooden platform near the rather tall elf that was going to read the story.

The elf waited while all of the children got themselves seated before he opened an over-sized book with large lettering and placed it on his lap. He looked at the faces of each of the children, making sure that he had their attention.

The elf, having been told that there were several english speaking children in the audience, read each line in French, followed immediately by the english translation that was also in the book.


“Pere Noel is the name people call the gift giver who visits good children in France. The children fill their shoes with a carrot and hay for Pere Noel’s reindeer. The reindeer food is exchanged during the night with gifts.”

Sammy turned and smiled really big at Seb and Lisa. He was relieved that they wouldn't miss out on their Christmas gifts because they were in France. Even though Lisa had promised him that Santa would find them if they went to Paris, he had been a bit worried.

“Pere Noel is often seen traveling with Pre Fouettard. He is the one who lets Santa know if a child has been naughty or nice.”

“See Kayti. I told you. Santa will know if you have to go in time out. So you better be good if you want him to bring you presents.” Sammy informed her, again. Seb and Lisa laughed at the serious look Kayti had on her face. She was probably seriously worried with as many times as she wound up in the time out chair.

"Pere Noel is very busy during the month of December. For some good children, he brings gifts twice; once on December 6th, St. Nicholas Eve, and once on Christmas Eve, December 24th."

"That is the story of Pere Noel. Now you children make sure to be very good for your Maman and Papa so he can bring you all sorts of good things. Everyone line up. We have a special treat for you."

All of the children jumped up from where they were sitting. Seb and Lisa watched to make sure that Jeremy and Holly still had the hands of their partners and relaxed when they saw them immediately take the hands of their younger siblings.

When they came back out of the crowd of children, they each had a very large candy cane to take home with them.

"I like that story book Mommy. Can we buy that book to read at home?" Holly asked.

"We'll see if we can find it, Sweetheart."

As much as Holly liked the story, she was not yet convinced that Santa would bring gifts to her and to Jeremy. He hadn't found them before.

As they worked their way through the rest of the small buildings, they did find smaller versions of the story that had been read. So Lisa bought a copy for them to take home.

They got in the long line of children that were waiting to go into Santa's castle, each one hoping to see Santa inside. Lisa went and sat on a bench and discreetly fed Jessica and the other's around them were none the wiser. Then she pulled Lauren's bottle out of her bag and gave it to her. It was so much easier now that she held her own bottle. But she had also begun to throw it when she didn't want it. At home they had started getting her accustomed to a sippy cup to drink out of.

When the Izambard children were next in line, Seb stepped up and whispered into Santa's ear, telling him that his children mostly spoke English. He nodded then gestured for Kayti to come and sit on his lap. She came close but they weren't sure if she would sit on his lap.

"What is your name, little one?"

She looked up at Seb, making sure it was okay to speak to the strange man, even if it was Santa. She relaxed when Papa smiled and nodded at her so she figured it must be okay.

"Kayti."

"Allo Kayti. Would you like to come and sit on my lap and tell me what you would like for Christmas?"

"Okay." she let him lift her up but kept looking to be sure that Papa was still close by.

"So Kayti what would you like for Christmas?"

"A horsey. A pink horsey."

"A pink horsey?" he asked as his eyebrows shot up.

"Yup cuz I like to ride a horsey."

"And what else would you like?"

"I can have a house for my dollies to live in."

"Oh you want a doll house."

Kayti's blonde head of curls bounced as she nodded.

"You know that you need to be a good girl right?"

"Yup and not go in time out."

Santa laughed and sounded just as he was supposed to.

Sammy was next, telling Santa that he wanted a racecar and legos to build things with.

Holly was after Sammy but she almost wouldn't approach him. Jeremy took her hand and led her up and stayed with her.

"Allo, what are your names?"

"I'm Jeremy and this is my sister, Holly."

"Holly, what a wonderful Christmassy name."

"I just had a birthday. I'm seven now."

"Wow such a big girl. Can I lift you up?"

She let him but didn't let go of Jeremy's hand.

"What would you like for Christmas?"

"I would like a pretty necklace like Mommy's and earrings."

"Jeremy you can come and sit on my other knee if you'd like."

Jeremy turned and let Santa slide him up onto his knee.

"And what about you, young man? You must have something you want for Christmas."

"Nope."

"There must be something you want."

"Nope, I just wanted a house and a Mom and Dad for me and my sister so we could stay together and not have to get separated again. We got that so I don't need nuthin'."

Seb was still close enough to hear what Jeremy said and couldn't hold back the tears at Jeremy's heart felt words. He saw Santa get teary too, so he wiped the tears away and went to rescue him.

"Thank you." Seb said to Santa as he guided his two older children back to their group.

Lisa saw the exchange but couldn't hear it. Seb whispered to her what Jeremy had said and she hugged him tight, trying to reign in her own emotions.

"Papa, we need to get carrots and hay for Pere Noel's reindeer."

"We'll be sure to do that, Sammy."

"We wasn't in France on December six, so he didn't get to bring us stuff that day."

"That's okay. I'm sure he'll make up for it on Christmas." Lisa told him.

They stopped for a last cup of cocoa and a cookie before they left Santa's Village. The children were all looking back wistfully as they drove away, each one with their thoughts of Christmas morning that was quickly approaching.

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PostSubject: Re: CHASING DREAMS   CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 EmptyWed Jul 25, 2012 12:35 pm

Chapter 166:

Urs and Alex entered the office and after checking in, they waited to be called. Today Aaron was going to be evaluated by a pediatric physical therapist to see how his muscles were doing and they would come up with a formal therapy plan for him that they would begin sometime shortly after the New Year.

Urs was holding Aaron and the baby was chewing his fingers and hand. Drool was running down his fist all the way to his elbow. Alex saw it and reached in the diaper bag to get a burp rag to wipe it off before it rolled onto Urs.

Alex was surprised at how well Urs actually handled those types of things. Some men were totally grossed out by drool and spit up. Urs didn't love it but he handled it calmly enough and seemed to have a strong stomach, and that comes in handy when you have a baby.

"Aaron Buhler?"

"Yes, we're right here." Alex answered as they stood and followed the therapist.

They spent almost the next hour just sitting and watching while the therapist worked Aaron from head to toe, making notes about his physical state and in particular the condition of each of his muscular groups. He made note of what he felt Aaron would need in the near future to keep his current mobility and to encourage the strengthening of his muscles over time. It would be several years before they would know if Aaron would ever be able to control his bladder, which was one of the common concerns in children with Spina Bifida.

Eventually the therapist allowed Alex to come and get Aaron dressed and then he asked them to come sit in his office so he could give them his recommendations.

"Aaron does have some mild weakness and some tightening in different muscles. We’ll set up an appointment to begin Aaron's therapy. I have seen children that I didn't think would ever be able to walk come running into my office years later."

"Do you think Aaron will be able to walk?" Alex asked.

"I've learned not to make any definite predictions. But I think with good therapy, Aaron has an excellent chance of walking. His defect was quite mild and the damage was minimal."

It was both encouraging and at the same time a bit frustrating to hear. Alex was happy that things didn't seem to be too bad for Aaron but she wanted a concrete answer. She understood that without a crystal ball, the therapist couldn't see into Aaron's future and give them the answers they wanted.

Once they were home, Alex fed Aaron, then Urs changed his diaper and put him in for his nap. Then he and Alex sat down and had their lunch.

"What do you think of what the therapist said today?" she asked him.

"I thought it was good. We knew to expect him to need some therapy. So there was no surprise there. We'll do whatever we need to to make him as strong as he can be.... What about you? I know you hoped to go in and find out he had no problems at all. I did too but realistically I think he's doing great considering how things could have turned out."

"I know. I just wished for an answer to my questions, answers that cannot be given right now. I'll just have to learn to be patient."

"Can I talk you into going upstairs for a nap?"

"I'm not tired." she said, totally missing the glint in his eyes because her mind was still wandering.

"Me neither. I actually didn't have sleeping on my mind."

Alex finally understood what Urs was saying. She smiled at him and put her hand in his outstretched one, letting him lead her upstairs.

He could feel the tension in her body as he touched her and he wanted to help her relax.

Slowly he kissed her face in featherlite kisses as his hands roamed over her body, just barely touching her. He kept looking at her face, watching for the softening of her features that would signal that she was letting go of the worries of Aaron's future and was getting lost in the tidal wave of emotion and passion that was always unleashed when they made love.

She was standing there totally enjoying Urs's attentions and began returning his kisses and slid her hands up under his shirt, loving the feel of his warm skin on her hands. She saw his smile of satisfaction at having succeeded in distracting her from her thoughts.

"Let me love you Liebe. We have plenty of time to worry about Aaron. Let's take advantage of his nap." he whispered in her ear.

No words were necessary as she took his hand and led him to their bed. They loved each other until they were both satisfied and worn out, then dozed until Aaron woke from his nap, looking for attention.

That evening, Urs sat in front of their Christmas tree with Aaron in his lap. They'd begun placing some of their wrapped gifts under their tree after Seb, Lisa and the children had left for Paris.

Aaron had been mesmerized by the blinking lights since they had put the tree up a week ago. Urs spun some of the round ornaments so they would catch the lights and Aaron's attention. He began to kick his feet and his arms were stretching out like he was trying to reach for the brightly colored ornaments.

"Next year, we might be having to keep him away from the tree." Alex said coming and sitting behind Urs, massaging his shoulders and kissing the bare skin on his neck.

Urs laid the baby on the carpet and stretched out along side of him and Alex followed laying on the other side of Aaron so he was sandwiched between his parents.

"Couldn't you just lay here and look at him all day? He's so perfect." Urs said as he ran his fingers through his son's hair.

"He is perfect. Mami was right you know. He looks exactly like you."

"I see the resemblance but I also see you when I look at him."

The doorbell rang, causing the dogs to bark which startled Aaron and made him cry. Urs shushed the dogs and hopped up to see who was here while Alex calmed the baby.

Urs opened the door and his mouth dropped open in shock.

Without a word, he drew his mother into his arms and hugged her until she had to make him loosen his grip.

"Sorry Mami."

He took her hand and led her into the living room where they had been relaxing.

"MAMI!! What are you doing here? I thought you weren't coming back until after the New Year." Alex said as surprised as Urs was to see her here and with no word ahead of time.

"I hope it was alright just coming like this. I couldn't stay away and miss his first Christmas. I was on a flight as soon as I made my decision to come." she said looking down on her Grandson who had grown so much in the short time she'd been gone.

"Of course it's alright. We've missed you." Alex told her and hugged her just as tight as Urs had.

Urs lifted Aaron off of the floor and handed him over, knowing that he would have two women to compete with now to get his time with Aaron. He smiled as he watched his mother hug Aaron and then she went to sit on the sofa with him just as there was another knock on the door.

"Did you bring someone else with you Mami?" Urs asked her.

"Oh No! The cab driver has been waiting out there with my luggage." she said having totally forgotten the man.

"I'll take care of it. You just keep spoiling my son." Urs chuckled.

"He looks wonderful, Alex and he's grown so much already."

"The doctor is very happy with his growth over the last couple of months."

They discussed his therapy that would begin in a matter of weeks. Urs came back with tea for all of them.

"Mami, I'm so glad you're here. Christmas wouldn't have been the same without you."

"I'm going to have to start rotating where I spend Christmas unless I can get all of you children to come to me so we can spend it all together."

"We'll have to discuss that. I know you want to be with all of the Grandchildren at Christmas."

"Yes, but I haven't missed the first Christmas of any of my Grandchildren and I wasn't going to miss his." she said as she played with Aaron.

After Alex fed him his last meal of the night, she handed him to Mami who burped him and took him up to change him into a dry diaper and his pajamas.

"You didn't mind her just showing up unannounced like that did you?" Urs asked her later as they prepared for bed.

"No, it was a wonderful surprise. Besides, with Seb and Lisa gone for the holidays, it would have been a bit lonely. Mami being here will help to remedy that. Mom will love it too. They get along great."

*

The next couple of days after the trip to Santa's Village were pretty cold, especially for Lisa and the children who weren't used to the cold. So they stayed at home, taking the children outside for short periods to let them run off some energy. In the house, Seb and Lisa worked on making a couple of the rooms more child friendly, moving breakables to other rooms and letting them unload their toys into the cabinets.

Marlene spent a lot of time at the house visiting and helping with the children. Sammy was working hard at trying to talk her into coming home with them when they went home to Florida.

Seb did have to be on the phone a bit as they organized dates for the promotion of The Promise which by all reports was selling very well in dozens of countries. He would be heading back out less than a week after their return to Florida. They had signings, TV and radio shows as well as a couple of mini concerts to promote their upcoming tour. When he came to sit next to Lisa on the sofa, he sighed loud enough to get her attention.

"Is something wrong?"

"No I can just see that we are going to be spending a lot of time apart over the next year, more than a year actually. We've got to figure out a way for you to travel with me at least some time. Maybe rotate which children come along on a certain leg. I know it would be a lot to bring them all at once."

"Maybe we could bring the older children on some of the legs during school vacations and the younger ones in between."

"That sounds good. We'll start discussing the specifics when we have the actual tour schedule. I just know I can't be without you for almost a year and I know that we won't have too many long breaks for me to come home. But I will as often as it is possible."

"Seb, I have a bit of shopping I'd like to do. Is there somewhere close by that we could go tomorrow?"

"Sure. We can go to the Christmas Market. They have just about everything you could want. Also a lot of unusual gifts."

Seb spoke to Maman to see if she would stay with the children the following day so he and Lisa could go to the Market alone. The children wouldn't have fun there, just getting bored as they walked through the market stalls. She agreed that that wouldn't be good to take all of them there and said she'd love to stay with the children.

Grandmere wound up with reinforcements the following day when Aunt Cecile popped over to visit just as Seb and Lisa were leaving for the market.

Seb noticed Lisa's silly grin as he helped her into his car.

"And just what are you grinning at?"

"I was just thinking that since Aunt Cecile is here, that means that Adrienne and Donovan are getting some time alone. I'm sure Aunt Cecile watches them like a hawk when she's there."

"Yes, I'm quite sure she does. We'll just have to take our time then won't we." he said with a conspiratorial wink.

Seb parked near the entrance to the market and they spent the afternoon slowly making their way from one section to the next. Mostly just looking, but occasionally finding a gift for someone or some trinket that Lisa wanted to bring home to remind her of their Christmas in Paris.

The market was beautifully decorated to help promote the Christmas atmosphere. The shopkeepers hoped that this would translate into abundant sales for them as people walked through, seeing the decorations and hearing the holiday music being piped through the market.

When they'd been walking for a while, they stopped and took a break for a snack. Seb introduced Lisa to one of his Christmas traditions, vin chaud, a cinnamon infused hot wine. They sat for a while sipping their wine and watching the many people that were also in the market.

It was inevitable that Seb would be recognised. Several times as they moved through the market they noticed people looking at them and Seb would just smile and wrap his arm around Lisa and continue walking, hoping that people would leave them to their shopping and their precious time alone. For the most part, they did but, there were a couple of times when fans did approach and ask for a photo or for him to sign something.

"It's alright Seb. I don't mind. It's part of your job. They've been very respectful, just taking a moment of your time then leaving us to go on."

"I know. I guess I'm just being a bit selfish. I just want you all to myself today." he said and kissed her temple as they kept walking and enjoyed the rest of their day looking for treasures, capping it off with an early dinner before they headed home.

*

Vicki was in the bedroom getting the children dressed for an outing when someone knocked on the door. Carlos looked through the peephole to see who was there. They liked having that there and only opened the door if they knew who it was or were expecting a delivery. They had already been spotted several times while they were down on the beach. They had no way to know if anyone had followed them home and now knew where they lived.

He opened the door and welcomed Brenda in, not surprised to see her. She had told him she'd need to come by and make sure that Amelia was settling in well. It was just part of her job. She set her briefcase on the table and took out a large yellow envelope and slid some papers out of it.

"Is Vicki here?"

"Yes, I'll get her."

Carlos returned carrying Carlito, followed by Vicki and Amelia. He laid Carlito in his bouncy seat and came back to see what Brenda was here for.

"Hi Miss Brenda. We're going shopping."

"Hello Amelia. That sounds like fun and it is so pretty out with all of the Christmas decorations."

"Mama and Papa say that Santa will be able to find me here at their house."

"I'm very sure he will, Sweetheart."

"Is everything alright?" Vicki asked, always nervous that something will come up that will cause Amelia to be removed from their care.

"I think I'll let you answer that." She said and handed Carlos the papers she'd been holding.

The room was silent as Carlos read through the document. Brenda was struggling to keep any emotion out of her face, not wanting to give anything away. Vicki was waiting not so patiently as Carlos read it. She watched his forehead as he processed what was written and saw him scowl. She wasn't sure if it was because he was reading bad news or that he was translating the English words into Spanish so he could understand it better.

Finally he lowered the papers and looked first at Vicki and down at Amelia. Then he looked to Brenda.

"Does this mean what I think it means?" he said, still afraid to get his hopes up.

"Merry Christmas. You have a daughter. The court date will be set as soon as there's an opening and the adoption will be final. All of the international paperwork has been approved."

Brenda stood back and watched as Carlos and Vicki both broke down and cried in each others arms. Then he lifted Amelia into his arms and hugged her tight.

Amelia placed her hands on the sides of Carlos's face.

"Papa why are you and Mama sad?"

"We are not sad, Mi Amor. We could never be happier. These are very happy tears. Miss Brenda brought the papers that say that you can be our little girl and stay here with us and Carlito."

"Okay bueno. I like to stay here till mi Mama and Papa come back to get me."

It had already been decided after several visits to Dr. Jane that they would not discuss the fact that her parents wouldn't be coming back. In time she would come to accept this as reality and when she got a bit older if she wanted to discuss it then, only then would they get into the specifics with her. For now, she was safe, loved and happy and would be part of their family.

"When will we be able to apply for the passport for her?" Vicki asked.

"It's already been done as part of the other documents that are being processed. It will arrive here through the mail."

"Fantastic. We'll be able to take her home and introduce her to the rest of our families."

"Are we going shopping now?" Amelia asked, making everyone laugh.

"Spoken like a normal girl. I'll get out of your way and let you get on with your day."

"Thanks for coming and letting us know. We couldn't have had a better Christmas gift."

"You're welcome Vicki. I'm glad everything worked out."

Carlos opened the door to let Brenda out and stopped her just before she left. He pulled her into his arms and gave her a bone crushing hug, still at a loss for words.

"You're welcome Carlos." she said smiling into his eyes and kissed his wet cheek. "Merry Christmas."

Carlos went and sat on the sofa,trying to get himself together. Vicki sat on the arm and kissed the top of his head, just letting him compose himself. She knew just how emotional this was for him. Since they'd met Amelia, he had been very vocal about how much he wanted her to be their daughter and she had known that if it had gone the other way and they were denied Amelia, that Carlos would have been devastated. She knew that for now he had put away his emotions when he stood and declared that it was now time to go shopping.

"We need to celebrate." he added as he headed out the door holding his daughter's hand.

*

The news spread quickly, including to Paris and Seb and Lisa both assured Carlos and Vicki that they were very happy for them and were just glad that Amelia would have parents that loved her as much as they did.

Carlos invited Urs, Alex and Mami as well as Dan and Marie over for a celebratory dinner the following evening.

"See our Christmas tree. We put our decorations on it. Carlito couldn't help us yet cuz he's too little. But Papa said maybe he can help us next year." Amelia beamed at everyone.

"It's beautiful, Sweetheart." Dan said as he hugged her.

"You know that this changes nothing Carlos. We will still consider Amelia as one of our Grandchildren." Marie assured him.

"A child can never have too many people who love her and I know that you do."

"Have you told David and Grace?" Alex asked Vicki.

"Yes, we spoke to them yesterday. They are splitting their time between Denver and New York until the guys have to meet up."

Later after the children were sleeping and the adults were still talking, Urs's phone rang.

"Ja."

"Hi It's David. Are you at home?"

"No, we're here at Carlos and Vicki's with Mom and Dad and Mami."

"Oh good. Put me on the speaker phone."

David was talking a mile a minute so Urs knew that something big was going on.

"Okay it's on. What's up?"

"Grace is here with me."

"Hi Grace." everyone said at once.

"Hi Everyone. Merry Christmas." she answered, then they heard her giggling.

"OH sorry guys. We called because we have some news."

"Well, spit it out David." Urs said grinning because he could hear the excitement in David's voice.

"Okay, Well it'll be a while before it happens. But well,"

"DAVID!!!!" everyone said at the same time, including Grace."

"Sorry, Anyway, I asked Grace to marry me and she said yes."

"That's wonderful"

"Congratulations!"

"It's about time"

Everyone was speaking at once giving their congratulations and well wishes. Then the phone was passed around so everyone could speak to them personally. Finally they said goodbye and hung up. Carlos went to get another bottle of wine to have a toast to David and Grace's engagement and they partied late into the evening, everyone having so much to celebrate.


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PostSubject: Re: CHASING DREAMS   CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 EmptyWed Jul 25, 2012 12:36 pm

Chapter 167:

Christmas Eve in Paris was a very exciting day for the children. They knew that tomorrow when they woke up it would be Christmas with gifts and lots of good food to eat. Maman and Aunt Cecile had come and helped to do a lot of the early preparations over the last few days. There were plenty of Christmas treats to eat and the Christmas meal preparations were well under way.

Seb and Lisa decided to take the family to an earlier Christmas service at church than the midnight service because there was no way the children would make it that late. Once they were home, they began getting the excited children ready for bed. They were still singing parts of the Christmas carols that they remembered, sometimes singing the same parts over and over because that's all they could remember of the words.

"Papa, we can't forget to put the hay and carrots in our shoes for Santa's reindeer and cookies for Santa." Sammy reminded him.

"No we can't forget that."

So while Lisa got the two babies ready for bed, he took the others and they began their new ritual of not only setting out the cookies and milk for Santa but also the hay and carrots for the reindeer. He let them each have one more cookie and a glass of milk before he ushered them upstairs to brush their teeth.

Seb got his guitar and they all gathered in the girls' room since both Kayti and Holly looked like they weren't going to make it much longer. He helped them sing a few carols and then Lisa got out her Bible and turned to the book of Luke and read the Christmas story to them. All four of the older children were listening intently as she read of baby Jesus being born and placed in a manger in the stable.

Just as she finished reading, Kayti's eyelids began to close. Lisa and Seb kissed the girls goodnight and took the boys to their room.

"Mommy can we stay up and see Santa when he comes?"

"No Sammy, Santa wants all of the children to be sound asleep before he comes to their house."

"Okay." He looked a bit disappointed but wasn't going to argue because he wanted to be sure Santa would come.

When Seb and Lisa peeked in at them a few minutes later, they were all sound asleep.

Maman arrived and helped them to get everything put under the tree. Seb found a package with his name on it and shook it close to his ear.

"Sebastien Izambard, put that down right now. You are just as bad as the children." Lisa scolded him but with a grin on her face.

"I am just a big kid you know. I can't help it. I love Christmas."

He pulled her down into his lap and kissed her senseless. He held her close to him and blazed a trail over her face and captured her lips in a searing kiss that told her that this was no child.

"Why don't you two go to bed if you're finished here. The children will be awake before you know it." Maman said reminding them that she was sitting there.

"Yup, Good idea." Seb said as he jumped up and took Lisa's hand to help her up.

"Good night Maman, Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas both of you. I'm so glad you're here."

They slowly made their way upstairs since Sebastien insisted on continuing his kisses as they climbed the stairs. Lisa had to stifle her giggles. She didn't want to wake the children.

"How about I give you an early Christmas present." he asked her once they had climbed into bed, whispereing so the babies wouldn't wake up.

"Sure." she said lighting up, letting him know that she was no less excited about Christmas than he was.

He sat up, letting the covers fall away, revealing his naked form.

"Here I am. I'm all yours. Merry Christmas." he said with a cheeky grin on his face.

"Oh you." she whispered back and smacked him with her pillow, but allowed herself to be drawn into his arms where they both gave each other the first Christmas gifts of the day since it was now after midnight.

Jeremy rolled over, stretched his long thin body and began to wake up, his eyes still a bit fuzzy as he wiped the sleep away. All of a sudden his eyes opened wide and he sat straight up in his bed.

"It's Christmas." he said out loud and then looked over to see if he'd woken Sammy up in his excitement.

When he was sure that Sammy was still sound asleep, he slipped out of bed and quietly opened the door to their room. He poked his head out into the hallway and listened for any sign of someone else being awake. He didn't hear anything so he left the bedroom and shut the door as quietly as he could.

As he moved down the hall towards the stairs, he stopped first at the girls' room and then at Mama and Papa's room to listen for anyone stirring. All was quiet so he kept going, stepping lightly, trying somewhat successfully to avoid the places in the floor that creaked. In this silence those sounds were magnified.

He reached the stairs and went down to the bottom. He looked out the window next to the door. He knew Papa said it was highly unlikely it would snow but he still hoped it would. He liked all the pictures he'd always seen of Christmas with snow and sleigh rides. That seemed like it would be lots of fun. He turned and headed for the room with the Christmas tree. That's where the presents should be. He knew he told Santa the other day that he didn't want or need anything but that wasn't entirely true.

He meant what he'd said about not needing anything now that he and Holly had a home and a Mom and Dad so they could stay together but, he couldn't help hoping there were just a couple of gifts for him. He wanted there to be lots of gifts for Holly. Like him, she'd been so happy since they moved to Clearwater and not only gained a Mom and Dad but a brother and sisters too.

He hadn't liked having to get himself into trouble all of those other times, but it had been the only way for him to make sure they weren't separated. He did things that made the people mad enough that they would send him back to the orphanage, saying that they couldn't deal with such a disobedient child.

When he was younger, he decided that that was why Santa hadn't brought them any gifts. Santa didn't bring gifts to naughty children, or so he'd been told. As he got older and decided that Santa wasn't even real, he had just tried to ignore Christmas and pretend it was just another day. But Holly was upset at Christmas the past couple of years, once she was old enough to know that most kids got presents at Christmas and she was just a little kid and didn't understand yet that all they'd had was each other.

It was so different now. He'd finally stopped thinking he was going to wake up and find it had all been a dream. He had been so afraid since coming home with the Izambards that something would happen that would send them back to the orphanage. Only this time he knew that if that happened there was no way he and Holly would stay together. The orphanage where they had lived was closed forever, all of the children split up into other places and he'd heard that among the older children, the boys and girls would go to separate places. He was so afraid if they were separated that he would never see his sister again. But Papa had promised that as soon as it was possible, he and Holly would get adopted just like Sammy, Kayti and Lauren had been. And that would mean they were really a part of the family forever and would never have to leave.

Before he even got to the room, Jeremy saw the reflection of the lights on the tree shining in the window since it wasn't quite daylight yet. When he reached the doorway he stopped short gasping at the sight in front of him. He covered his mouth, hoping he hadn't been loud enough to wake anyone else. The tree lights were indeed on and the floor around it was totally covered with so many brightly colored packages, some large and some smaller, some with bows and others without.

He took a few more steps closer and looked around at the packages and saw that they had stickers on them with peoples names. He knew he probably shouldn't but he couldn't help himself and he looked closer trying to read the names on them.

One of the larger ones had a big bow on it and he reached out a tentative finger and lightly pushed the edge of the bow aside so he could read what the sticker said. When he saw his name written in rather large letters, he drew his hand back as if he'd been burned. But then he leaned over to read it again just to be sure it really had said his name.

There it was, JEREMY, in big bold letters and he giggled with the joy he felt. He didn't even stop to wonder what was inside the package. He was just so overcome that there was something there with his name on it.

He looked at a few more packages wanting to be sure there were some for Holly too. He found packages that held the names of each one of the children, and even some for Mama and Papa. But he felt relief when he found several with Holly's name on them.

He finally turned and tiptoed out of the room heading back up the stairs, stopping at the girls' door. He tested the doorknob to see if he could turn it without making too much noise. He wanted to see if Holly was awake but he knew he didn't want Kayti to wake up yet. She would wake the whole house up. She didn't know how to be quiet very well yet.

He stepped into the room and looked at both girls and saw that they were still sound asleep. He sat on the edge of Holly's bed and leaned down to whisper in her ear.

"Holly.....Holly wake up. It's Christmas and Santa came. He really came."

"What?" Holly said waking up and startled at seeing her brother sitting there.

"Shhhh, you have to be quiet. No one else is awake yet. It's Christmas and Santa came. I saw all of the presents he brought, even for us. I saw our names on some of the presents. Do you want to see?"

Holly didn't need to be asked twice and she quickly got out of bed and put her slippers on. Jeremy reminded her again to be quiet as they left the room. He peeked in once more as he shut the door, wanting to be sure they hadn't woken Kayti up.

*

Jeremy had thought he'd been undetected when he was first downstairs but he didn't know that Grandmere had spent the night in the one small bedroom that was downstairs. She had gotten up to start some early preparations for breakfast and had heard someone on the stairs. She had stood silently and unnoticed in the other doorway as she had watched him in front of the tree. His look of disbelief and unbridled joy had been almost unbearable to watch. Seb had told her that Jeremy and Holly had never had a real Christmas, at least not one that they could remember.

Even when things hadn't been going so well for them when Seb was young, she'd always tried her best with what little she had to make Christmas special. She knew that Sebastien and Lisa didn't want to spoil the children but they wanted them to have a Christmas they would never forget.

She heard sounds again and peeked out and saw Jeremy again, only this time Holly was with him, both of them trying to be quiet as they came downstairs. She went into the dining room where she had seen Lisa leave the video camera last night. She'd used it a few times so she got it turned on and tried not to let them hear her.

*

Jeremy held Holly's hand as they entered the room. She had the same look on her face that Jeremy had as they stared at the tree and all of the gifts piled underneath. Neither one spoke for several moments. They just took in the unbelievable scene in front of them, still holding onto each other's hand.

"Can you believe it, Holly? Santa really came."

"Can we open them?"

"No, I think we have to wait for Mama and Papa to wake up."

They went to the sofa and climbed up, sitting close together just happy to look at the bounty of gifts in front of them.

Marlene paused the video after a couple of moments and tiptoed back to the kitchen, trying to gain control of her emotions. If they found her awake, she didn't want them to see her upset.

When she peeked back in on them, she smiled when she saw that they had fallen back to sleep snuggled together in the center of the sofa. She went back and got the camera and took a few moments of video of them before going back to the kitchen.

It was nearly an hour later that the others in the house began to stir. Jessica started it by announcing very loudly that she was wet and hungry. Lauren woke next since they were all in the same room and Seb and Lisa dragged themselves sleepily out of the bed. They had gotten to bed quite late after making sure everything was perfect under the tree and then going upstairs to celebrate Christmas a bit early.

"Joyeaux Noel , Seb" Lisa said and kissed him.

"Merry Christmas, Ma Cherie. I'm so excited to see the children's faces when they go downstairs."

Seb took care of changing the girls while Lisa went to the restroom and got ready to feed Jessica. Once Lisa was settled in the chair with Jessica at her breast, he set Lauren on the floor with some toys and stepped out of the room to see if anyone else was up.

He heard Kayti in her room calling for him. When he went in, he immediately noticed that Holly wasn't there.

"Merry Christmas, Ma Petite. Where's Holly?"

Kayti lifted both hands and shrugged her shoulders. "I dunno"

"Well lets go find out."

After letting Kayti make a pit stop in the bathroom, they went to the boys' room and found Sammy just waking up. He was sitting up in his bed rubbing his eyes.

"Hi Papa."

"Hi Buddy. Merry Christmas."

"Oh Boy. It's Christmas. I forgot."

Sammy untangled himself from his blankets as quickly as he could and slid off the bed.

"Can we go see if Santa came? I hope he did find us here in France, cuz I wrote my letter at our Florida house."

"I think Santa knew exactly where you were."

Seb didn't want to take the children downstairs until Lisa was ready so he took Sammy and Kayti to say good morning to Lisa, then he headed back out alone to find Jeremy and Holly.

Marlene heard him on the stairs and met him at the bottom.

"Good Morning Maman. Joyeaux Noel."

"Good morning, Seb"

"Have you seen Holly and Jeremy?"

She gestured for him to be quiet and to follow her.

They were still cuddled together, holding hands on the sofa, facing the tree.

"How long have they been down here?"

"Just over an hour. I'll show you the video I took. They just couldn't believe that there were really gifts for them. The looks on their faces were priceless."

"I'll let them sleep until Lisa finishes feeding Jessica. Then we will all be down. The rest of the children are awake.”

Holly and Jeremy woke when they heard everyone else coming downstairs. Sammy and Kayti were wide awake and anxious to get to the Christmas tree. Kayti wasn't quite sure about everything yet. But she knew that if her brother was excited, then she should be too.

Jeremy stood in front of Seb, looking up at him, waiting to see if he and Holly would be in trouble for coming down before everyone else.

"Merry Christmas, Son. What did you think when you saw all of this?"

"Santa really came. I didn't think he would come. But he did. I wish I could have stayed awake and seen him, cuz I would have said Thank You."

"Well, you can write him a letter to thank him."

"Look Mommy, Santa ate his cookies and drank his milk. He even took the hay and carrots for the reindeers to eat." Sammy said holding the empty plate that had held the cookies.

Seb had to keep from laughing as he thought of he and Lisa sharing the cookies and milk after they were sure the children had gone to sleep. They had stuffed the hay back in the bag with the leftover hay and Maman had cut up the carrots and tossed them way out back for the wild animals to snack on.

Much later while Seb was on an important phone call, Lisa sat at her computer writing Alex an email, telling her of their perfect Christmas day here in Paris. She not only wrote it to tell Alex. But also so she could remember the events of the day herself dozens of years from now when the children were all grown and she wanted to look back on memories of their childhood.

First she told Alex about Jeremy and Holly's reaction at actually getting Christmas gifts for the first time that they could remember. Every little thing, right down to the large apples they found in their Christmas stockings had been a treasured gift.

She wrote how she, Seb and Maman had delighted in watching the faces of their children light up as they unveiled each new gift.

Kayti, of course, was still young enough that she was almost more interested in the act of the unwrapping, tearing the paper to shreds, than the actual gift inside of the package. But the other three had taken their time with each gift, having to have one of the adults remove their new toy from its package so they could really see it.

They let the older children help Lauren and Jessica with the opening of their presents. They were all just as excited about the baby's gifts as they were of their own.

Lisa still choked up as she told Alex about how when the new Legos and wooden building blocks had been opened, that Holly had told them that Santa must not have known that they already had lots of blocks at home so they should give some of them to some children that don't have any toys.

They had gotten the new sets of blocks to leave here in Paris for when they were here to visit.

She remembered when her tears had fallen as they sat with the children, Sammy had climbed into her lap and hugged her.

"Don't cry Mommy."

"I'm not sad Baby. Mommy is just so happy to have so many wonderful children. You are all the best Christmas presents I could ever get." She told him as she gave him a squeeze.

Seb had reached over and wiped the tears from her cheeks as Sammy climbed down and went digging under the tree.

"But we got you presents too. Papa helped us. Wanna see?"

"I sure do."

Seb had bought items that each had the name of one of their children on them as the giver. Lisa had done the same for him. And big or small, each gift had been chosen with love and the children were so excited to see their parents open their gifts.

As she sat typing away in the email, she was also thinking that Holly had a good idea. When they returned home, they would find a place like the children's hospital to take some gifts and she would let her children learn early how good it felt to give to those less fortunate. She didn't ever want them to become complacent now that they themselves had all they needed.

She finished up the email by telling Alex of the closing of the Bastille and said that she would call tomorrow to find out how their Christmas had been. Then she sent it and went to make sure that Maman wasn't being overrun by the children in the other room. She shouldn't have been concerned. When she stepped into the room she smiled at the scene. Grandmere was sitting on the sofa, holding Jessica and was surrounded by the children, Lauren sitting in Holly's lap as Jeremy read from one of their new Christmas books.

After capturing the scene with her camera, Lisa went to the kitchen to begin preparing their dinner. Seb sure had been gone into his study a long time on that phone call, she thought. She hoped that nothing was wrong. There had been a lot of phone calls flying back and forth about some details of their promotions for the new CD and the upcoming tour that would begin near the end of February.

Since their Christmas dinner had been so big, she didn't feel as if it was necessary to have too much for their late meal, only preparing sandwiches and a veggie tray, with some of their Christmas desserts that had been brought by Maman and Aunt Cecile to finish it off.

Not wanting to disturb Seb, she gathered the children and got them settled at the table to eat. Maman helped her to serve them. Lisa sat and fed Jessica while the children ate. She'd decided to wait to eat with Seb when he'd finished on the phone.

He finally emerged from the study and she searched his face for any sign that something was wrong but couldn't read anything either way.

"Is everything alright?" she asked him.

"Everything is perfect, My Love." he answered and Lisa thought for just a second that she saw a mysterious twinkle in his eyes but it was only there for a moment and she thought that maybe she'd imagined it.

"Mama, Papa, come see, quick!" Jeremy hollered and took both of their hands dragging them along with him.

When they reached the foyer, Sammy, Holly and Kayti had their faces pressed tightly to the windows, looking out into the yard. Jeremy let go of their hands and stepped up next to Holly and joined her in staring outside.

Seb and Lisa stood over their children and watched as snow had begun to fall slowly in large flakes, coming to rest on the ground. It was cold enough outside that they were not melting.

"Can we go play out in the snow, Papa?" Sammy asked.

It was getting dark and cold outside but as he looked at Lisa to see how she felt about it, he knew that they couldn't pass up on this opportunity. Even though they had the snow machine, living in Florida, the children were unlikely to get the chance to be outside during the real thing. So they bundled up the older children, leaving Lauren and Jessica inside with Grandmere and by the time they got outside, there was actually a good layer of snow covering everything.

Seb skimmed his hand along the top step and gathered enough snow to make a small snowball. He packed it in his hand and looked at Lisa and winked at her just before throwing it and hitting her with it. The children thought it was hilarious and were all laughing. She picked up some snow and returned fire, hitting Seb right in the center of his chest.

The children all began making small snowballs and tried to throw them at Lisa and Seb as well as each other. More often than not, they missed their target but they were having so much fun trying. Holly laid in the snow covered grass and made a snow angel and Seb lifted her out of it so she wouldn't mess it up when she stepped out of it. He turned her around so she could see the perfect snow angel.

They played with the children a few more mintues, then ushered them inside for a warm bath and some hot chocolate that Grandmere had ready for them all.

"That was the funnest, Papa. I like the snow."

"It was fun Sammy. We'll have to take some trips to where it snows a lot so you can see some really big piles of snow."

"I want to ride on a sleigh in the snow." Jeremy announced.

"Okay, we'll do that someday." Seb answered and ruffled his hair.


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PostSubject: Re: CHASING DREAMS   CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 EmptyWed Jul 25, 2012 12:37 pm

Chapter 168:

Later when the children were mostly settled in bed for the night, Lisa saw Seb speaking quietly to Maman, reinforcing her thought from earlier that he was up to something or something was bothering him.

He turned and approached her, taking her face in his hands and kissed her so soundly that she had thoughts of them turning in early and having the perfect end to their Christmas by loving each other until they fell asleep. Seb put an abrupt end to that line of thought when he ended the kiss and asked her if she would go for a ride with him.

"You want to go out now?.. Everything is closed isn't it?"

"Yes, but I want to show you something."

"It can't wait until tomorrow?"

"I suppose it could but, I would rather go now."

Lisa saw the flash of disappointment on his face and was immediately sorry for giving him a hard time.

"Of course we can go. Let's just make sure that it is okay with Maman." she said and softly kissed his lips and was relieved when the full smile returned to his face.

"I've already asked her and she said it was fine."

"Alright then, let's go."

Seb slipped into his heavy coat and held hers while she slid her arms into it. He handed her her hat and put his on.

"Bye Maman, we'll be back in a while." he said to his mother.

"Don't hurry. We'll be fine." she told them with a smile as they headed out the door.

"I'm sorry that I'm dragging you out so late when I know you are probably tired."

"It's not that, I just had other plans in mind for the rest of our evening. It's nothing we can't still do when we get home." she said and blinked her lashes at him, letting him know exactly what she'd had in mind and then he understood her disappointment in going out.

"Oh well, you're right. We'll make sure to be home in plenty of time so we can put a wonderful end to our day." He took her hand in his as he drove through the nearly deserted streets of Paris.

He saw the sad look come across her face as The Bastille came into view. She looked at him quizically as he pulled into a parking spot in front of it.

She sat there staring at the cafe, wondering why he would bring her here. It really only made her sad to be here now that she knew that the next time they came to Paris, their cafe would be gone, leaving them only with their memories.

Seb stepped out of the car and came around and opened her door. He held out his hand to her.

"Come walk with me."

She gave him her hand as he helped her out of the car.

"Be careful. The ground is slippery." he said and placed his hand around her waist.

As much as she tried, Lisa couldn't avoid looking whistfully at the now empty patio that had once held the tables and chairs where they had sat the two times they'd been here together before. She could also now fully see the large sign on the door.

"ENDROIT FERME´, EN FAILLITE" and in English underneath,

"CLOSED, GONE OUT OF BUSINESS"

"Why are we here, Seb?" she said with a long sigh.

"I wanted to give you your Christmas gift."

"Seb, you have already given me plenty."

"Maybe, but this last gift is very special and I wanted you to have it." he said as he pulled her close and kissed her.

"And you had to bring me here to give it to me?"

"Well, yes. Usually people get to see the gifts they are getting, don't they?"

Lisa was really confused, but then all of a sudden his meaning and all of the secrecy over the last few hours became clear.

"You bought it? You bought the Bastille?"

"Yes, I know how much it meant to you and I've arranged for the former manager to stay on and rehire the employees they had been forced to let go in the closing. He will be here first thing in the morning for us to meet with him and begin ordering what he needs to reopen. But this is not my place, Baby. It's yours. Your name is on the papers as sole owner of The Bastille. Also, you may change the name if you wish and anything else you want to."

"I wouldn't change a thing." She said through her sobs as she held tightly to him. "Thank you, Seb. This is truly the best gift ever. Now it will always be here for us when we come to Paris.

Lisa was oblivious to the cold now as they looked through the windows at the empty counter and shelves that would soon be full again.

Seb lost count of the hugs and kisses she gave him while they were there. It had taken some doing to get the transaction done in such a short amount of time. There were papers to be signed tomorrow but it was basically done. But the look on her face was worth every bit of hassle he'd gone through to accomplish his goal.

Lisa wanted so badly to be able to go inside but they would have to wait until tomorrow to get a set of keys to the building. She finally told Seb they could go home and was thankful to get into the car and thaw her toes under the heater. She smiled all the way home as she thought about what a wonderful gift this was and how happy she was that they would always be able to come back to their special place.

As they lay in bed that night, Lisa more than showed her appreciation for his thoughtfulness and Seb decided that he would have to find lots of things that made her this happy.

Even though it had been late when Lisa had gotten to sleep last night, she woke just after dawn and couldn't go back to sleep once she remembered her gift from Sebastien. She didn't want to wake Seb or the babies, so she quietly slipped out of bed and pulled on her robe against the morning chill. She peeked at their tiny girls to make sure they were still sound asleep before leaving the bedroom.

Looking out of the foyer window, she could see that there were several inches of pristine white snow, as of yet untouched by anything, blanketing the front yard and driveway. She imagined that the children and probably even Seb would be in a hurry to go out and mess it up. She headed to the kitchen with a smile on her face picturing them all playing outside together.

Regularly a very early riser, Maman was already up and fixing the morning coffee when Lisa entered the kitchen.

"Good morning, Maman. Did you sleep well?"

"Very well. How about you? You're up early."

"I know. I couldn't go back to sleep once I started thinking about The Bastille." Lisa said, giddy as she thought of it.

"That was quite a surprise, wasn't it?"

"Oh Maman. You have no idea. When we got there, I was almost upset with him for bringing me there when he knew how I felt about its closing. But then when I realized what he'd done.....I love him Maman, so very much." Lisa had to wipe some tears away.

"I know you do and he loves you. It makes me very happy to see the two of you together. It's been many years since I believed that true love really existed. But now all I have to do is see the two of you together and I know it is there.

"Hi Mama. I'm hungry."

"Good Morning, Kaytibug. Climb up at the table and I'll get you some breakfast."

Not yet having a large enough table to fit everyone, they had to eat in shifts, usually feeding the children first before the adults had their meals. Breaksfast was easy as they usually fed the children as they woke.

They did go out and play in the snow after breakfast, once it had warmed up a little. This time they even brought Lauren out for a few minutes to experience her first snow. Seb bent down and set her feet on the ground and held her waist. She tried to pat on the snow and looked confused when it pushed down and away from her hands. She lifted them up and looked at the palms of her hands and at the snow sticking to her mittens. Like everything else she got a hold of, Lauren just had to taste it, licking the snow off of her gloves. It was clean so Seb didn't stop her and she startled at the chill, puckering her lips up like when she was given some ice cream.

By the time they all went inside, everyone had red cheeks and noses. Kayti didn't want to go in and Lisa wound up picking her up and carrying her struggling little body up the stairs and as she often did, Kayti wound up in their new time out chair until she had calmed herself and agreed to be a good girl.

Maman kept Lauren and Jessica that afternoon when Seb and Lisa left for The Bastille to meet with the owner and the attorneys. Seb had managed to get everyone to meet there for the signing of the papers transferring ownership. Lisa got the children set up on the floor as soon as they had entered the building, telling them to play while she and Papa talked to the people. She had had them bring their backpacks with their favorite toys.

She walked around inside running her hand along the counter, still having a hard time believing that this was all hers, or would be as soon as the papers were signed. She wouldn't have ever thought of buying a place like this and to be honest, she didn't know much about the actual running of it, but she was sure willing to learn. Even though she wouldn't be here for the day to day happenings, she wanted to be involved as much as possible. She had enough of a business background helping to run the daycare, that she felt confident enough in her skills to give this a go.

"Well, that's it then. It's all done. You are now the owner of The Bastille." the heavily accented older man told Lisa with a smile. I hope you enjoy it. It has brought me great pleasure over the years. I've gotten to meet so many wonderful people."

The former owner was laying all of the keys to the building onto the counter for them and then he wished them luck and left with his attorney. He had told them that he was thrilled to sell it to her especially once he found out how special it was to her. He said he knew that she would take good care of his old friend. The Bastille had been a big part of his life. Now he was going to retire and enjoy some time to himself with his family.

Lisa jumped into Seb's arms and he spun her around and kissed her as he set her feet back on the floor, both of them seemingly oblivious to the fact that the other attorney was still standing there grinning at the pair of them.

"Sorry" she said to the man sheepishly, her cheeks coloring when she remembered that they weren't alone.

"No apologies needed. I can tell this is a happy occasion." If you need nothing else from me, I will leave you to have a look around."

"Of course. And thank you for helping to get this all arranged so quickly. It could have waited till we had returned to the United States but I really did want her to have it while we were still here." Seb said as he shook the attorney’s hand and walked him to the door.

"Well, normally I would not disrupt my family's Christmas for business but you were quite persuasive and now I am glad that I was part of such a Christmas gift. She is obviously very happy." he said glancing back at the look on Lisa's face before he said goodbye and left.

They had a few minutes alone before the manager arrived. He and Seb pulled a table and some chairs out of the back storage room so they could sit and discuss what would be needed to reopen The Bastille for business.

"I've been doing the ordering of supplies for many years already so I can begin doing that as soon as you wish. I would suggest some repairs and a good cleaning while it is so empty. It will be much easier than waiting until after it is open. You can also go over our menu and see if there is anything you would like to change." Michel DuBuois said to them.

Lisa was excited to reopen but did agree to the repairs. They spent time going over what needed to be done and making calls to schedule the repairs. Lisa was glad that things were moving right along. It was doubtful they could open in the time they had left here in Paris but at least it would reopen. For now they decided to leave the menu as it was with a promise from Michel that he would give them any suggestions he had if he thought of something that would fit in with their existing menu or discontinue anything that wasn't selling well.

Lisa excused herself from the table when her phone rang. She saw on the screen that it was Alex.

"Hi Alex. Is everything okay?"

"Everything is fine here. How about you? I read your email. It sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas."

"Oh you have no idea and you don't even know the best part. After I sent you that email, Seb surprised me with another Christmas gift, the best one ever."

"Wow, what did he get for you."

"The Bastille."

"What? I thought you just said The Bastille."

"I did. He bought it for me. We just signed the papers. I own The Bastille."

"Oh Lisa, I was so upset when I read your email that The Bastille had closed. That was where you and Seb met and I know you were so excited to go there again when you two were on your honeymoon. This is amazing. Isn't he just the sweetest guy, well almost the sweetest. I know you are grinning from ear to ear."

"I am." Lisa confirmed.

Alex filled Lisa in on their Christmas. Telling her that Mom and Dad had come to the house and had Christmas dinner. Mom had initially found it difficult to only help with the dinner preparations instead of being the person in charge but had eventually decided she liked being able to spend some time relaxing and playing with Aaron instead of having to be on top of everything.

Alex said she'd spoken to Vicki a while ago and Vicki had told her that their Christmas had just been magical with the two children there to share it with after so many years of it being just the two of them.

Of course Carlito was too young to know what was going on but Amelia had enjoyed every moment and every gift she'd been given. Alex also told her that it seemed as if Amelia was settling in nicely to her life with Carlos and Vicki.

"I'm glad the transition has gone well. She needed to get settled one way or another. She will have to deal with a lot of confusion as she realizes that her parents aren't coming back for her but she will have a good and happy life with Carlos and Vicki. I think Vicki will have her hands full keeping Carlos under control so that he doesn't spoil her." Lisa chuckled.

"Yeah, Vicki pretty much said something like that to me the other day when there was a delivery of a huge package. When Carlos got home and showed her what it was, Vicki had just had to laugh at him. But she told me today that it was well worth it when they saw the look on Amelia's face when she woke up Christmas morning and saw the giant doll house with every little piece you could imagine inside. Vicki said it is taller than Amelia and has the furniture to fill every room and a whole family of little dolls for her to play with. She said it has kept her occupied for hours. The funniest part is that she said Carlos has been in there a lot of the time with her, sitting on the floor helping her to arrange the furniture and even playing with the dolls with her."

"Oh I would love to see that."

"Yeah, Vicki said she was momentarily tempted to take a picture of him and post it on the forum for all of his Cuties to see."

"That would cause quite a stir wouldn't it. I think they would love to see him like that.....So, how is Aaron? I miss kissing his chubby cheeks."

"He's great. He's busy chewing on his toes right now but he rolled over this morning from his back to his belly. When I realized he was on his belly I had to go ask Urs and Mami if one of them had turned him over. They said they hadn't so he had rolled over and I missed it."

"He may not do it again for several days or a week but before long he'll really get the hang of it and then you'll have to start chasing him across the floor. There will be no stopping him."

"Well, we're all ready for him to start moving around. There is nothing down low that he can get into. The cabinets all have locks and I did what the book suggested by getting down to his level and crawled around the floor to see what he would see and be able to reach."

Lisa could see that Seb was waiting to speak to her so she said goodbye and told her to say hi to everyone and kiss Aaron for her.

*

What was originally going to be a fairly quiet week between Christmas and New Years wound up being busy as Lisa wanted to be right in the thick of things at The Bastille as it was being readied for the reopening.

Workmen were already there the day after the signing of the papers, doing the several small repair jobs that needed doing. Several times she longed for Drew to be there handling everything. After spending so much time together over the course of the renovations on the house, he always seemed to know what she wanted even before she'd said it and his work was impeccable. These men seemed to be doing a good job but Drew was just a cut above everyone else in his business as far as she was concerned.

"I've had an idea." Seb said wrapping his arms around her from behind.

"Okay, what is it?" she said leaning back against his chest and enjoying their closeness.

"If we can get enough done here in the next few days, why don't we have a combination New Years/ Grand reopening party with our friends and family that can be here?"

"That would be wonderful. Do you think we can get it ready for that?"

"I think so. The repairs are nearly done and Pierre helped to find the new tables and chairs and if we can get them to rush delivery on them, we could order food, wine and champagne and have our own party."

Originally, the plan had been for Lisa and Seb to have some of Seb's younger cousins to come in and sit with the children so they could go out New Years Eve to one of the local New Years Eve bashes that were plentiful in Paris. But For Lisa, this would be even better for them to have a party right here in their place.

"If we can get it done, I think it's a fabulous idea."

Because of so many people being off on holiday, Seb was told that the new tables and chairs would not be able to be delivered before the New Year so he and Pierre hired a truck and went to pick them up themselves. At first, Lisa had said she wanted to keep the old ones that were here when they had been here before but, after having a good look at them, she agreed that they had seen better days and they might as well start off giving the whole place a facelift.

Adrienne and Donovan were there with Lisa when Seb and Pierre returned, so they were enlisted to help unload the truck and they spent the next couple of hours setting up the patio and the few tables that would be indoors. The outdoor tables were equipped just as before with an umbrella and each with four iron chairs that would withstand the weather for many years. Inside, several tables were arranged on either side of the doorway leaving an aisle for patrons to walk up to the counter. Just as before, people would be able to walk up and order what they wanted or to sit and be waited on.

Now that they were planning the party, Lisa wasn't so frustrated standing around watching the repairs. Maman, Adrienne and Aunt Cecile helped to organize what they would need to do before the big night. Aunt Cecile offered to contact everyone and invite their local family and friends.

Lisa just thought it was a shame that her Florida family and friends couldn't be here as well but, there just wasn't enough time for everyone to come over this time. But as she thought of that, she did imagine that maybe one day, they could have a gathering here that everyone could attend.


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PostSubject: Re: CHASING DREAMS   CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 EmptyWed Jul 25, 2012 12:44 pm

Chapter 169:

"Are you sure I look alright?"

"You always look alright, well actually more than alright. But yes, you look just fine, Seb. We told everyone to just dress comfortably." Lisa said, running her hand down his chest.

He had on a nice pair of blue slacks and a warm navy pullover shirt. She was wearing a pair of dressy jeans and a warm velour sweater since they would be both inside and out during the evening. It wasn't nearly as cold as it was last week and the snow had melted early in the week as the temperatures had risen. But, it would still be very chilly, especially after dark.

They were already at The Bastille, including the children. It was still early and they were going to include the children in some of the festivities and then Adrienne and Donovan were going to take the children, meet some of their cousins at the house, help get the children to bed and then go on to several other area parties.

The streets weren't crowded yet but there were already people strolling along the edge of the river looking at the boats that were quickly multiplying as they jockeyed for a good spot on the river to watch and light off fireworks.

Pierre and Claire arrived and brought the fireworks that Seb asked them to pick up on their way. He wanted to let the children see some fireworks before they went home to bed. Hopefully they would be sound asleep in their beds by the time the big displays were lit at midnight.

As soon as it had gotten just dark enough, Seb made sure the children were sufficiently away from where he was and then he lit of some firecrackers, warning Kayti that there would be a loud noise. Lisa hurried inside when Lauren cried at the loud noise. She took her as far into the back as she could to minimize the sound until Seb was finished.

Pierre had gotten several boxes of sparklers for the children to hold onto as they burned. After they were shown how to hold them, Pierre and Seb lit the sparklers. Seb sat right with Kayti to be sure she didn't try to grab onto the hot area. Sammy giggled as the sparks flew in all directions and immediately asked for another one when it had burned itself out.

Seb noticed Holly kind of dancing from foot to foot as she stood with her sparkler.

"Holly Sweetheart, do you need to go inside and potty? Papa will save you some sparklers for when you come back."

"No Papa."

"Alright, but if you do, just go inside and Mama will show you where to go."

"Okay."

Seb watched as she began her little dance a few minutes later.

"Holly, go inside and potty. I'll make sure the sparklers aren't all used up."

"Okay Papa."

So inside Holly went and then came back to get another sparkler.

"Did you go potty?"

"Yes Papa."

"Good girl."

Thinking she was all set, Seb didn't pay much attention for a bit then all of a sudden he noticed that she was still moving her feet from side to side.

"Holly, come see Papa....I thought you said you went potty."

"I did Papa."

"Then why are you still dancing around like you need to go?"

"I don't need to potty, Papa. My toes are all squished up."

"They're squished. You mean your shoes are too small?"

"Yup."

"Sweetheart, why didn't you tell Mama when she had you put them on?"

"I dunno."

"Probably because when our shoes were too small before, they would tell us we had to wait till it was time for everyone to get new shoes all at once before we could get new ones." Jeremy supplied.

"I'm sorry, Holly. If something doesn't fit, you tell someone and we will get you something that does, alright?" he said as he lifted her into his lap to take the pressure off of her feet.

"Okay Papa."

It was too cold outside to remove her shoes but, as soon as they'd finished with their fireworks, he carried her inside and took them off, telling Lisa about the incident. They realized then that it was still going to be some time before their children adjusted to having all of their needs met and most important were able to voice what their needs were.

Over the next hour, their guests arrived and at the same time, the streets slowly began filling up with New Year's Eve partiers. Food was laid out along the counter and on the inside tables for people to help themselves. Champagne sat ready for their midnight toast. Vin Chaud, the hot wine, as well as coffee were in plentiful supply to ward off some of the night chill.

Several small trays of Lisa's new favorite treats, Papillottes, were set on the tables. These little chocolates that were wrapped and looked like tiny presents, were not only delicious but fun as well. When held at each end and opened, some of them had a little pop, like a small firecracker and others had an inserted piece of paper with a cartoon, riddle or famous quotation on it. Of course the best part was eating them. They came with a variety of fillings such as, pralines, ganache, candied orange or marzipan. Lisa had yet to decide which flavor was her favorite.
CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 Papillottes_revillon

It came time to say goodnight to the children. They had had plenty of attention from all of their guests. The older children had been showing off their French that they were learning. The guests were as sorry to see the children leave as the children were to go. Sammy especially wanted to stay but Seb promised that he would get them some more sparklers to light tomorrow.

“Thank you for taking them home.” Lisa told Adrienne.

“That's alright. We really don't mind and we'll still be plenty early enough to make the rounds at some of the other parties.”

The children were kissed and hugged and were told to go straight to bed when they got home. It was already well past their bedtimes by now. Jessica and Lauren had been given plenty to eat so Lisa hoped they would both go to bed with no trouble for their sitters. They were never left with anyone that they weren't totally familiar with so it remained to be seen if this would cause a problem.

With the children on their way home, now Seb and Lisa could relax and enjoy their evening with their guests. Aunt Cecile, was ever persuasive and managed to get a lot of family here that normally wouldn't go out on New Year's Eve, preferring to stay comfortably in their own homes. Several of the older members said it was even past their bedtimes already. Even so, it seemed as if everyone was enjoying themselves.

Seb turned on some music, loud enough to be heard out on the patio so people could dance if they wished.

As Lisa mingled with these people that she was just getting to know, she was filled in on a lot of family history as well as being informed about France's St. Sylvestre, which begins on the first of January or janvier and ending on the first of February or fevrier. They told her that at the stroke of midnight, bises or small kisses on each cheek as well as wishes of Bonne Anee are given to everyone. Also, cards and gifts are given throughout the month in celebration. Lisa laughed and told them that the children would love to hear that they could get more gifts and for a whole month too.

Lisa moved on to speak to other guests and stopped to enjoy her surroundings. She was still so excited at now being the owner of The Bastille. She almost didn't want to go home since she would miss the reopening in a weeks time. But they did need to get home. Il Divo had to get back to their promotions for The Promise and their new tour. As she stood there she thought about all the changes in their lives since this time last year.

There were new children, her new husband and in turn all of his extended family which she could now call her own, she had new friends and her life felt so full.

“You looked sad and far away for a minute, Baby. Is everything alright?” he asked Lisa.

“Oh yes, Everything is great. I just had a thought about last year.”

“Well, this year will start off much better than last year. I can promise you that.” he said and kissed her temple and hugged her tightly to him. The accident had almost put an end to their wedding plans.

“I know and I really would like to forget about that and have a good time tonight.... There is such an amazing view from here.”

From the patio, they could see the Eiffel Tower and the Seine that was now becoming very crowded along it's banks and in the water. Boats would have a difficult time trying to move now that there were so many in the water as far as the eye could see. The grounds under and around the tower were also crowded. Occasional sounds of fireworks being set off could be heard over the noise of the crowds.

Many of the other establishments were also having parties, either private ones like the Izambards or were open to the public and serving meals and drinks to the partiers.

Lisa waited what she deemed a sufficient amount of time, when she thought the children should all be in bed, then called the house to check and make sure there hadn't been any problems. She was told that they were now all in bed. The babies were asleep as well as Kayti and Holly. Jeremy and Sammy were in their beds but not quite asleep. She was told to go enjoy the party and not worry about the children any more tonight.

“Is everyone settled?” Seb asked her.

“Yes, I was most concerned about the babies with strangers but they are just fine. Let's dance.”

Seb took her hand and led her to a spot on the patio that they had cleared for dancing and they danced close together, each holding the other during the slow number, not feeling a need to speak with words. Just looking into each other's eyes spoke volumes of the love they shared.

Maman and Aunt Cecile stood close together watching the couple and smiling knowing smiles. Both had thoughts that this was one love that would last an eternity.

They continued dancing when the next song began. It was a more upbeat number and helped to warm them up against the growing cold as they moved to the music.

Periodic sounds of fireworks being set off had been heard but soon one of the relatives announced that it was only ten minutes to midnight. So Lisa and Seb went inside and brought out the champagne and plastic flutes for the New Years toast. Soon the big fireworks display would be seen. Chairs were arranged on the patio, facing the tower that would have a dazzling display at the stroke of midnight.

Most everyone had brought some sort of blanket to wrap up in while they watched the fireworks. Couples could be seen all over snuggled together and wrapped up in one large blanket. After seeing that everyone had their champagne or whatever else they wanted to drink, Seb wrapped he and Lisa in a heavy woolen throw they had brought. She sat in his lap as they carefully held their drinks. Their closeness helping to keep the chill away.

Seb took advantage of the lull in conversation to capture Lisa's lips in a slow kiss that quickly had her squirming in his lap. He had started next to her ear and she could feel his warm breath on her skin and into her ear as he lingered there. Then he had laid kisses across her cheek until he barely touched the corner of her lips. She had eagerly turned her head so that he hadn't much choice but to kiss her there.

“Alright you two, the kissing doesn't start until after midnight.” Someone shouted cheerily, making everyone laugh.

Just then down the street, someone began the countdown from ten to one, signaling the arrival of midnight.

“Dix, Neuf, Huit,”

The people's attention turned solely to the tower now as they waited for it to light up.

“Sept, Six, Cinq, Quatre,

The excitement kept building as everyone that could be heard had joined in on the countdown.

“Trois, Deux, Un”

At the count of one, the tower lit up in a spectacular and beautiful display of multi-colored and multi-designed fireworks that lasted over thirty minutes.

CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 Feu-artifice-pyrotechnie-415

CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 I192581904_53475_3

As well as watching the display, many people were already kissing and drinking their toast to the new year in hopes that the coming year would be a good one bringing joy and happiness for everyone.

As Lisa snuggled in his arms watching the fireworks, Seb had secret thoughts, hoping that the coming tour and the long separations they would have to endure would not cause any harm in their relationship. He made a resolve right there and then that he would do whatever was necessary to keep his family together and happy. He would just have to work hard to be sure they had all they needed, not just financial and worldly things but emotionally too. He would try to get creative when they had to be apart in showing them all what they meant to him.

Lisa turned and looked into his eyes and saw a desperation in them. She didn't ask what was on his mind. She only touched his face, pulling it to hers and kissed him with a kiss that at least for the moment, calmed all of his fears. This kiss was full of all of the love and promise she had to give him.


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PostSubject: Re: CHASING DREAMS   CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 EmptyWed Jul 25, 2012 12:45 pm

Chapter 170:

The airport van pulled up in front of the house, immediately spilling out most of it's passengers. Some were moving slower than others. The three adults, Seb, Lisa and Maman, who had accompanied them home, were all very ready for a long nap.

On top of having the babies to look after on the flights, Sammy who had had an uneventful flight over to Paris, had felt ill periodically on the flights home. They weren't sure yet if it was air sickness or some bug he was coming down with. But now that they were on the ground, he seemed fine.

It was late afternoon and all of the children had slept enough in the air that all they wanted was to run around now that they weren't confined to their seats, all except for Kayti who was sound asleep.

Jim waited for Jeremy, Holly and Sammy to jump down, then he unbuckled Kayti and carried her inside, stopping in the foyer so that Mary could kiss her cheek and then carried her straight up to bed. Lisa said she would just let her take a short nap so they could all sleep tonight.

“Oh Lisa, You have no idea just how much I missed all of you.” Mary said while hugging the life out of her.

“We all missed you too Mary. Kayti kept asking when you were going to come to Paris and cook her breakfast.” I guess you do a better job than the rest of us.” Lisa chuckled.

Lisa fed Jessica and Mary gave Lauren some dinner while Seb and Jim got all of the luggage put into the correct rooms to be unpacked later. Tales of all they had done over the Christmas holiday were traded between Seb and Lisa, Jim and Mary.

Lisa told them about the renovations being completed at The Bastille and that it would be opening back up in a few days.

“I've got so many pictures from our holiday and some videos too. The children seemed to love Paris and enjoyed all of the attention they got from Seb's family and friends. We had so many offers to watch them and take them places that the last few days we were there, we hardly saw them. But it did give us the chance to have some time alone and Seb took me to some of his favorite spots. We didn't stray too far from Paris this time but I do hope we can see some more of the country when we go back.”

“Yes, next time we'll plan on another trip like on our honeymoon where we can do more exploring” Seb agreed.

“I guess we'll need to set a time to go do some grocery shopping, since we've been gone so long.”

“No, Debbie, Hannah and I went this morning. You'll just need to take a look through and see if we missed something you wanted.” Mary told her.

“Oh Thank you. Grocery shopping is the last thing I feel like doing right now. How is Debbie? Is she still feeling ill?”

“No she said she's feeling really good now. She's been to the doctor and everything looks great. They're just going to watch her because of her age. She's considered in the advanced age for being pregnant. But she's perfectly healthy right now.” Jim answered.

“Ok Good. Well, I think I'm going to run over and say hello. I'll be back in a bit.” Lisa said, taking Jessica with her.

Debbie hollered for her to come in when Lisa knocked. She was in the middle of preparing their dinner. When she saw them she quickly wiped her hands on the tea towel that was sitting on the counter.

“Hi, I am so glad you're back.” Debbie said. At the same time she was whisking Jessica out of Lisa's arms and giving the baby a squeeze. Then she reached an arm around Lisa and hugged her too.

“The boys are so glad to have the kids back. We went a few places including the beach a few times while you were gone to keep them busy over their school vacation but still all they kept saying was how glad they would be when you all came home.”

Just as Debbie said that the front door slammed open and all four boys and Holly came crashing into the house like there was an emergency. They all looked out of breath, chests heaving and were looking intently at their mothers.

“What's wrong? Is someone hurt?” Lisa asked the obviously agitated children.

“No, Dad and Mr. Seb said that we could turn on the snow machine if it was alright with both of you.” Brandon got out through heaving breaths.

Lisa was trying hard to decide whether to laugh or get upset with the children for scaring the life out of her. They all looked so serious, obviously each one was hoping that their mothers would say yes, but afraid they'd say no.

Lisa looked to Debbie with the unspoken question. She wouldn't say yes if Debbie didn't want the boys getting all messy right now, because they inevitably would. As the snow melted around the edges, the ground became a mud puddle which the children loved to get into almost as much as the snow itself.

“It's fine with me.” Debbie said.

Blake and Brandon began jumping up and down.

“Wait just a minute. Lisa hasn't answered yet.”

Every one of the children's faces fell. They were just sure that she would say no and it would ruin their plans.

“Yes, you may go play in the snow for a while. But when we say it's time for dinner, either one of us, there will be no arguing about coming inside and getting cleaned up or it won't come out again for a while.”

“We won't Mama, I promise.” Jeremy said and looked at the other children to make sure they agreed. They all shook their heads yes that they understood before Lisa shooed them all outside and watched them all run screaming across the yard to their fathers, telling them that their Mom's said it was okay.

She laughed at their excitement as they almost tackled Seb and Jim. Seb looked over to the doorway and Lisa nodded her head to let him know it was indeed alright.

“You know, leave it to the men to put it on us to give the answer to that. If we had said no, we would have been the bad guys.” Debbie said trying to look irritated but not quite succeeding.

“I know but it is better in the long run isn't it. The guys would let the children do whatever they wanted.” Lisa chuckled.

“Hmmm yes, I suppose you're right. I guess we should leave things as they are.”

“Where's Hannah?”

“She's going to spend the night at Jenny's. We dropped her off on the way home from the store this morning.”

“Oh yes, thank you for going with Mary to get the shopping done. I was glad to know I didn't have to think about that for a few days.”

Later that evening after the children had come in and gotten baths and dinner, the older children were up in their rooms unpacking their bags. Some of their Christmas gifts were being shipped back and they had not arrived yet. Lisa gave Mom a quick call to let her know they were home. Mom said they'd come by tomorrow after they'd gotten settled. Alex wasn't home when she called so she just left her a message to call when she could.

Seb came into the bedroom where Lisa was unpacking their bags. He watched her from just inside the doorway and then he came up behind her and reached around her, taking the stack of clothes out of her hands.

“Hey, what are you doing? I'm trying to unpack.” she asked and turned to poke him in the ribs.

He tossed the clothes back into the open suitcase and pulled her against him.

“I need some attention. We haven't had a minute since we left Paris.”

“That is quite a job, traveling with all of the children. But I am so glad that we went Seb. It was a wonderful trip and the children that are old enough will remember this Christmas for the rest of their lives. I know I will.” She said as she hugged him and kept her head pressed against his chest.

He held her tightly against him and stroked her back, just enjoying the few minutes of closeness before they would be interrupted. In the end, he wound up helping her to get everything put away and then took the empty suitcases to the hallway to line them up with the rest. They would all be put in the attic tomorrow, except for his which was left in their walk in closet, a rather unwelcome reminder that soon he would have to leave his family for a while.

Tomorrow he and the other three guys would be meeting here in the office with David on video conference since he and Grace were still in Colorado. They would be discussing some of the important issues that still needed to be resolved before the tour began.

The next day when Carlos and Urs arrived they were not alone. Lisa had called Alex and Vicki and told them to come and bring the kids and they would all just have dinner together there. Then the guys wouldn't have to feel guilty about being away all day. They could take breaks and get a snack, a drink or a kiss and then go back into their meetings and the girls would be able to catch up on everything that had gone on in the past couple of weeks.

As soon as their car came to a stop and Carlos had her unbuckled, Amelia jumped out of the car and ran to Lisa and then Seb for a big hug and kiss. Then she ran to join all the kids who were outside playing and being looked after by Debbie and Grandmere..

“She looks great!” Lisa said to Carlos and Vicki who were both watching until she had let herself into the play area and made sure the gate was closed as she had been taught. They both turned and beamed at Lisa, with happiness and pride.

“She seems happy.” Lisa said.

“Congratulations, both of you. We know that she belongs with you.” Seb said

“She has since the first day she was here and she stood there looking up into your eyes.” Lisa said to Carlos.

“We just hoped that it was alright with both of you. We know you got attached to her too.”

“Carlos, we love her. We always will but as long as we know she is happy and loved, and that we will get to see her, she's right where she should be.

Carlos wrapped Lisa in a very long hug. When Lisa pulled away she could see the tears he was trying to hide.

“You don't have to hide them from me. I know you love her.” Lisa whispered in his ear as they headed for the house.

On their way inside, they discussed taking the rest of Amelia's personal belongings when they left this evening. Also, Lisa thought to herself that now that it was confirmed that Amelia would be a Marin, she and Seb would need to sit down and tell their children.

They hadn't quite made it inside when Alex and Urs came. Alex left Urs to get Aaron while she ran up to hug Lisa. There hadn't been too many times since they were teenagers that they spent more than a couple of days without seeing each other, so these couple of weeks apart was a lot.

The girls took all four babies into the infant playroom and put them on the floor. Lisa kept Jessica close to her. She wasn't as mobile as Lauren or even Carlito and Aaron who had been rolling around everywhere and was trying to get up on his hands and knees from time to time. Lauren was really too big to be in there playing with the little ones but since they were all right there to watch her she'd be alright. She hadn't exactly learned how to be gentle when patting the babies and when she wanted something, she would grab it away.

When Mom and Dad arrived, Alex went to help Mom and Mary in the kitchen. Lisa was going to go but Alex insisted that she stay with the babies and Vicki and relax. She knew how tiring a long flight could be and couldn't even begin to imagine flying with six children. It made her tired just thinking about it, she said.

It took some doing, but they finally dragged the guys into the house for dinner. They had gone to the music building where they could talk uninterrupted and have their conference call with David.

As always when they were all together, it was a noisy and chaotic affair, but filled with laughter and several different conversations going on at once. Seb and Lisa had gotten some folding tables to have enough seating for everyone including the children. It wasn't always practical to get them fed before the adults.

“So when do you boys hit the road?”

Up until this point, the volume in the room had been rather loud. But as soon as Dad asked that question, it went silent except for the children.

Marie could tell this was a subject the guys, and much less the girls, hadn't wanted to broach tonight and her eyes shot daggers at Dan for not picking up on those signals himself.

“What? It was just a question.” he said looking around, trying to figure out what he'd done wrong.

“It's alright, Dad.” Urs told him and gave a smile to Mom. “We have to go meet with David in London in three days. We'll be doing promotions for the CD and tour almost right up until the third week in February when we start the tour. We're trying to make sure that we all have at least a few days to come home before the tour starts, but we can't guarantee that yet, probably not until right up until that week.”

The conversations slowly got going again and the sad looks that Mom saw on her girls faces faded as they were distracted by the children.

*

Lisa poked her head into their bedroom, looking for Seb and only found his suitcase and carry on open on the bed, partially filled with what he would take with him when he left tomorrow.

She went to her dresser and pulled out a wrapped package and slipped it between some of his clothes where he would be sure to find it. She had gotten a copy of a picture of them all that was taken in front of their Christmas tree in Paris on Christmas morning. It had Plexiglas in it instead of regular glass so it would stand up to all of the traveling.

She ran her hand over one of his shirts as she tried to swallow the lump forming in her throat. She was trying so hard to be brave. He didn't need to see how upset she was that he was going and for so long this time. There were no guarantees of a return home in the near future. He and the other guys had promised to try their best to have a few days break before the actual tour started the third week of February, but they just had no way to know if it would actually be possible.

Making this even harder was the announcement yesterday by Vicki and Alex that they and their children would be occasionally joining their husbands on the tour once it started. The promotion schedule was so uncertain that there was no sense in going with them now but, once the actual tour began, they would pretty much have a daily routine as they traveled.

Lisa knew that it would also make Seb's homesickness worse for everyone else to have their ladies and children with them when he couldn't.

They both had seen how difficult it would be to travel with all of the children and there was the matter of Jeremy and Holly's schooling. People did home schooling of course but wouldn't such an upheaval be bad for the children when they were just now getting totally comfortable with their new lives. In her head, she knew that it was not a possibility but her heart wanted so badly for them to figure out how they could possibly work it out, at least some of the time.

With a deep breath to get herself under control, she went searching for Seb. She thought he was up here packing and hadn't seen him come downstairs. After checking the downstairs, she went outside and saw Jim talking to Jeremy and Brandon in the yard. She approached them and asked if they had seen Seb. Jim told her that he had seen Seb go into the music building a short time ago. She thanked him and headed that direction.

After she stepped through the door she stopped to listen to see if she could tell where he was. It was totally silent. She looked through the glass in the recording booth and the lights were all off and it was empty. The doors to the instructional rooms were shut and locked as they always left them when they weren't in use. She made her way to the back of the music part of the building and finally found him in the conference room, no lights on and leaning back on the overstuffed leather sofa, his hand covering his eyes.

“Seb? Are you alright?”

He sat up with a start and wiped his face with his hands, like he thought he could hide his distress from her now. He held out his hand to her and she took it and sat next to him, leaning her head on his shoulder. Neither spoke for some time. They both knew what the problem was. No words were necessary. Seb spun around and laid his head in her lap and she slowly stroked his head, massaging his scalp as she knew he liked.

“We'll be alright, won't we Seb? With all of the technology we have, it's not like we'll be totally out of touch. With Skype and the video camera, you'll even be able to see the babies growing, just like if you were here.”

Her words were a mixture of trying to convince and comfort him as well as reassuring herself.

“Of course we'll be alright. We have to be. I couldn't live without you. I feel like I'm dying inside just thinking about having to leave you and the children. We'll just have to make this work not only for you and I but also so the children don't feel that I've abandoned them.”

“Oh Seb, they understand that you're going for work and not leaving them because you want to, at least the older ones. And as I said, you'll get to talk to them. So the babies will still hear your voice and you can sing to them like you always do. They all love that so much.”

Lisa caught a tear that rolled down the side of his face.

“I love you Seb. We're going to be fine. I'll be waiting right here for you when you can come home.”

“Je Taime, Ma Cherie.” He reached up and stroked her face.

He sat back up and pulled her against him and started with slow gentle kisses that very quickly became more passionate and desperate. He paused for just a second, then went over and shut and locked the conference room door before coming back to the sofa where Lisa was waiting for him.

He knelt on the floor in front of her, looking intently into her eyes. He touched his fingertips to her cheeks, just barely making contact as if she was some breakable object that he was afraid to touch. Then he laid his hands flat on her face and ran them across her cheeks and back into her hair, his fingers entangling themselves in the long, thick strands. Then he quickly returned to the kisses that he'd begun before. He tasted her as if she was what he needed to stay alive. She returned his kisses with as much passion and fire as he was giving and in just a few seconds they were naked on the floor on the thick carpet and making love like it was going to be their last time together, forever.

Very few words were spoken, except for their words of love spoken in the midst of their passion. Hands and mouths none too gently explored as they needed to fill a longing that neither felt that they were able to fill at this moment.

When Seb collapsed against her after they had both reached their completion, she held him tightly to her, afraid to let him go. Their loving was always fulfilling but not usually so filled with desperation. It thrilled and excited her but it also made her feel just how much she would miss his body joining with hers in the long months of their separation.

Slowly, their heartbeats returned to normal and they were becoming more aware of their surroundings.

“I guess we'd better get dressed and head back to the house before someone sends out a search party looking for us.” Seb said grinning, trying to inject some humor into the situation that felt anything but funny to either of them.

Lisa just nodded and stood up to retrieve her clothes that were spread around the floor. He reached out and grasped her hand, almost roughly at first then loosened his grip before he pulled her against his still naked body.

“I love you, Lisa. Please don't ever forget it.”

“I won't.” She said having to choke back a sob before she threw herself against him and the tears that she had tried so hard to withhold came flooding out no matter how hard she tried to stop them.

They stood there in the middle of the room, neither one of them with a stitch of clothing on just holding each other, letting their tears fall.

Lisa finally made herself gain control of herself and she backed away from him after placing a soft kiss on his lips. They dressed in silence and when they were finished and about to leave the room, Seb stopped her and laid a finger on her bottom lip.

“Does your lip hurt? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be so rough.”

“It doesn't hurt. It just tingles a lot.” She smiled at him. “It's alright, Seb.”

“They're going to know what we were doing in here.”

“Do you care?”

“No, I guess not.”

“Good, me neither.” she said and took his hand as they headed back to the house.


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PostSubject: Re: CHASING DREAMS   CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 EmptyWed Jul 25, 2012 12:45 pm

Chapter 171:

That night, Seb told Lisa that he would like to put the children to bed. So he began with Lauren, who was already getting sleepy. She was all clean and fresh from her bath and in her little nighty. He sat with her in the rocking chair in the nursery, singing to her. She laid her head on his shoulder and promptly fell asleep. He was in no hurry to put her down so he just kept rocking, enjoying the feel of her in his arms and her baby scent.

He finally stood to lay her in her bed, knowing the other children were waiting for him too. He cradled her in his arms and kissed her little cheek. She stirred just a bit, rolling her body closer to his chest. He gave her one last hug before he placed her on her side in her crib.

Lisa told him that Kayti was fading fast so he went into Kayti's room and he, Kayti and Holly piled onto Kayti's bed with Kayti all snuggled under her covers. Before he began playing and singing their bedtime songs, Seb pulled Kayti up into his lap and hugged her tightly.

“Papa is going to miss you very much. You try and be a good girl while I'm away.”

“Love you, Papa. Nighty night.” Kayti said. Really having no idea that when she woke in the morning, her Papa would be gone. He tucked her back in and starting playing their songs on his guitar.

It wasn't long before Kayti was asleep. He kept playing until he'd finished the song they were on then he and Holly moved into her room. Seb sat on the edge of her bed while she took off her robe and hung it on the little hook by her bed and then took her slippers off and slid them just under the edge of her bed where she could find them if she needed them in the night.

When she came to climb into bed, Seb reached out and stroked her hair.

“I love you and I will miss you.”

“I'll miss you too, Papa.”

He pulled her in for a hug and helped her to get tucked in before he played a couple more songs. When he laid down his guitar to kneel beside her bed and kiss her goodnight, she threw her arms around his neck.

“You will come home, won't you Papa?”

“As soon as I can, Baby. Just as soon as I can. But you will all be able to talk to me all the time. And you can practice your typing on the computer. I would love to get letters from you while I'm away. You can tell me all about the things you're doing in school and you can tell me if the three big boys bother you.”

This made her giggle, because she was always having to come and tell someone that the boys were bothering her.

“Okay Papa. I will. I love you.”

“I love you too, very much Sweetheart. Bonne Nuit.”

“Night, Papa.”

He sat beside her until she had drifted off to sleep, her hand still resting in his. He raised it to his lips and kissed the back of it. Then he took his guitar and headed for Sammy's room.

The boys weren't quite as sleepy as the girls but, Jeremy did need to get to sleep soon. He and Holly had school in the morning. Sammy pulled out his memory card game and asked Seb if they could play just one game before they went to sleep.

“Okay, just one game. Then it's bedtime.”

Lisa walked by the bedroom and found her three boys lying flat on their stomachs on the floor with the cards all in the middle. She didn't disturb them, just watched them for a few moments before she and Jessica continued on to the bedroom so Lisa could feed her and have her ready for bed when Seb came in.

Seb let Sammy talk him into a second game and then when it was finished, he insisted that it was time to get settled into bed so Jeremy could get some sleep.

He could tell that Sammy was stalling. Sammy was usually very organized and was usually in bed waiting for his kiss and hug. Tonight, he was wandering around his room like he was looking for something.

“Sammy, You need to come and climb into bed now Son.”

“Just a minute Papa. I can't find it.”

“What can't you find, Buddy? Can't it wait till tomorrow?”

Sammy just started shaking his head no and then he began to cry.

In the past year, Sammy had matured so much and most of the time the little boy he'd met at the daycare was a distant memory. But right now Seb was seeing definite glimpses of that scared, emotional little boy.

“I need to find it Papa. You will be gone tomorrow. So I can't wait.”

“Come here Son.”

Seb lifted him into his arms and let him cry against his shoulder.

“It's alright, Sammy. What are you looking for? Papa will help you find it.”

“I drew a picture for you to take with you so you won't forget me.”

Seb kneeled down on the floor and set Sammy on his feet and took his little boy's face in his hands.

“Sammy, do you really think that Papa could forget you? I couldn't forget any of you. I love you all so very much. You make me so happy.”

He hugged Sammy tightly, just short of squishing him.

“I love you, Son.” he said again.

“I love you too Papa and I miss you when you go to work.”

“I miss you too. But like I told Holly, you will all get to talk to me on the phone and the computer and you can tell me everything just like if I was right here in the room. Okay?” The only thing we won't be able to do is our hugs and you can save all those up and give them to me when I come home. I will be needing them when I come back.”

“Okay Papa. I will count them all every day and then I will know how many hugs I need to give you when you come home again.”

“And you know what else? You can all give Mommy lots of extra hugs and kisses since I won't be here to give her any. Okay?”

“Okay Papa. That will be my special job. I'll give Mommy lots and lots of hugs and kisses.”

“That would be great, Buddy.”

The three of them went downstairs and just as Seb figured, they found Sammy's drawing in the arts and crafts room.

“That is a wonderful picture Sammy. I will put it in my suitcase.” Seb said as he smiled at the well drawn picture of a man and a boy walking hand in hand outside amongst the forest, just like they frequently did.

Now, climb into bed and I'll tuck you in.” Seb said when they'd gone back upstairs and after one last squeeze.

Bob still slept in Sammy's bed with him every night but most nights he didn't hold him as tightly as he used to. Seb noticed that tonight, Bob was held securely in Sammy's arms.

Seb guided Jeremy out of Sammy's room and they went into Jeremy's room and sat on the edge of his bed.

“Is there anything you want to talk to me about before I leave? You will still be able to talk to me but if there is anything now, I'll listen.” Seb said with his arm around his son.

“No Papa. I just wish you didn't have to go to work so far away.”

“I know Buddy. Me too. I will miss you very much. I love you Son. You'll help Mama with the little ones, won't you?”

“Yes, Papa. I promise.”

“I knew you would. You're a good boy Jeremy. I am very proud of you.”

Jeremy smiled at Seb's praise. It only made him want to be a better boy when he knew how happy he made Papa and Mama when he was good.

“You'd better get some sleep or you'll be tired in school tomorrow.”

They both stood up and Seb hugged the boy and kissed the top of his head.

Jeremy slid under the covers and Seb straightened them. He stroked Jeremy's head and smiled down at him before he turned to leave the room.

“Papa?”

“Yes, Son?”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, Jeremy. Very much. I'll be home as soon as I can.”

Seb stopped just outside Jeremy's door after he'd shut it and leaned against the wall, feeling exhausted from all the emotions flooding through him.

He felt so happy and blessed to have such a wonderful family and that only made it so much harder to leave them.

Not knowing that Lisa had already come up, Seb went downstairs and found only Maman and Mary there in the family room talking.

“Seb, where is Lisa. We wanted to talk to you both.”

“Actually I came down here looking for her. She must be upstairs with Jessica. I'll go get her.... Is everything alright?” he asked, looking suspiciously at the two women who obviously had something on their minds by the looks of them.

“It will be. Just get Lisa if she isn't busy.” Maman said, not elaborating any further.

When Seb returned, Lisa was with him and also Jessica who wasn't quite ready to settle down for the night.

Maman went and got the infant play gym that Jessica could lay under, reach up and bat at the toys while the adults talked.

“Okay Maman, you have me worried. What is it?” Seb asked his mother again.

“Nothing! Or at least there won't be once we get this all straightened out.”

“Have we done something to upset you?” Lisa asked her Mother-In-Law, becoming as nervous as Seb appeared to be.

“No, of course not. We just need to straighten some things out before Seb leaves in the morning.”

“Alright then. Tell us.” Seb said..

“Okay, we know how miserable you both are right now because of the long separations caused by the tour.”

Lisa and Seb looked at her, then at each other. Neither needed to say a word. The atmosphere in the house had been somber and dark for the last couple of days as the minutes sped closer to when he would leave. Even the babies had been rather fussy, maybe picking up on the moods of everyone else in the house.

Seb just gave a short nod to his mother in agreement with her statement.

“So we, me, Mary, Dan and Marie have been discussing this problem and what the solution could be.”

“What solution, Maman? Seb has to leave. This is his work, his passion and I will never ask him to give it up.”

“I know that, Lisa and it means the world to me to see how you support him, even though it causes you, both of you so much pain when he's away.”

Seb slid his hand under Lisa's and laced their fingers together, then lifted her hand to his lips. She gave a weak smile up at him before they returned their attention to Maman.

“There's nothing to be done about the time between now and the beginning of the actual tour. The schedule is just too uncertain. But once the tour begins, there is no reason why you and the children can't join Seb on the tour some of the time. We've pulled the schedule that was posted on the forum as it stands so far and come up with a plan for you to look at.” Maman placed a large sheet of paper on the coffee table in front of them.

Marlene and Mary could see the skeptical look on both Seb and Lisa's faces.

“Please let us finish telling you what has been discussed before you make up your minds.” Mary asked, her eyes pleading for them to have an open mind.

Marlene didn't wait for any reply. She just began pointing out blocks of dates and how they had made a chart of whether it seemed possible for the family to travel together or not. Highlighted in yellow were the dates that it seemed possible and then in red were the dates that seemed too difficult or too far away. They even had some dates in light blue that were debatable.

“Maman, I really appreciate this but, Seb can't be expected to concentrate on us when they are traveling between venues. They'll have so much to do already. You saw what an undertaking it was just for the one trip. It would put too much stress on him trying to work and help us too.”

“The plans that have been discussed do not in any way include Sebastien in the traveling. Whatever time he has to spend with us, will be up to him and his schedule at that time.”

“You said us. Does this mean that you would be traveling with us, if I agreed to this, that is?”

“Yes Lisa, I would and not only me but, Marie and Dan too. They said they'd love to have the opportunity to travel now that Dan is retired and they will be with us to help with the children when needed. I have also taken it upon myself to contact some of our younger unmarried family members in Paris. I have already received several responses that would give us several extra helpers along the way, including Adrienne who said she would love to get to spend time with all of you. We also have a relative that lives here in the states that has her degree in teaching and she has agreed to come along on the journey and tutor the children so they won't fall behind in their schooling.”

“Please consider this idea before you throw it away. I would be seriously worried about the two of you if you have to be apart for so much of the next year. It wouldn't be good for the children to be away from Seb for so long either. Some of the children are just beginning to trust that they have a family now. I know traveling with all of them will be difficult but I think it will be worth it in the long run.” Mary said, adding her two cents.

Seb let out a long breath, not realizing that he'd actually been holding it in for so long.

“I have to leave in the morning Maman. I can't even help you plan any of this now.”

“There will be a few things you'll need to see to on your end but most of the details would be handled by us. You just take care of your job and we'll let you know how the plans are coming along. Then as we plan the dates to be traveling with you, we'll let you know. If there is any part of the tour that you think would be too difficult for the family to come, just let us know and we'll work around that time. The way we figured it out, our entourage wouldn't even travel with you every day. We would stay in one place for a couple of days at a time so it wouldn't be so hard on the children.”

Seb and Lisa looked at each other again, both rather stunned at all of the obvious planning that had been going on without their knowledge.

“Now, I am going to bed. You two have to discuss this. We've made a lot of plans, but only you two can decide if this is what you want to do.” Marlene stood and kissed both of them goodnight, said goodnight to Mary, then headed for the stairs and her bed, turning just at the bottom of the stairs and telling them that she'd be up to say goodbye to Seb in the morning.

“Mary, what about you? This would be way too much for you to travel with all of us. And I won't put you out of the job we promised that would take care of you.”

“That was the other thing that I needed to discuss with you. If I am to be much help to you here in the future, I need to schedule my knee replacements soon. I spoke to my daughter at length about it while I was there over the holidays. She wants me to come and have the surgery there. I've decided to get them both done at once and she said I could stay with her while I recover and in the initial rehabilitation. It would be too difficult here with so many stairs to climb. They would be impossible for a while.”

This time it was Lisa's turn for the long sigh. She hated the thought of Mary going through that surgery without them by her side but she realized that Mary was right about the house and she would be well cared for by her daughter.

“Whatever you need to do Mary, we'll support you and you don't have anything to worry about. Your job and your home here will be waiting for you.”

“I didn't doubt that for a minute. But I thought that telling you that I would be going away too would help you not to worry about what I would do while you and the children traveled with Seb. Maybe I'll even get feeling well enough to come to a concert or two before they are done with the tour.”

“I'm counting on it Mary. I'm sure that Carlos would love to have his favorite Cutie right in the front row so he can flirt with you.” Seb said and winked.

Mary said goodnight, hugging each of them tightly and slowly climbed the stairs. Seb and Lisa watched her and both knew that it was time for her to have the surgery. She seemed to be having much more trouble climbing stairs than she did when they moved in.

Seb made a mental note to contact Drew to see if there was a way to put a small elevator anywhere in the house. There would be many uses for it.

When they were alone, they both sat back into the sofa and Lisa leaned against Seb's side. Both of them mulling over all that had been discussed tonight.

“What..”

“Do...”

Both of them had begun to speak at once and Seb told Lisa to go first.

“What do you think of their plan? Do you think it would be too hard? And do you think we would be too much of a distraction. I don't want to make anything more difficult for you. I will understand if you say it won't work.”

“The question really is, Do you think it would be too hard for you and for the children. That is why I hadn't even asked you. I didn't want you to feel like you had to do this for me. I have at least gotten used to traveling and sleeping whenever I can. For me, I would love for you and the children to be there as much as possible. I haven't been able to bear the thought of not touching you or the children for so long. No matter how much technology we have, nothing can replace being close to my loved ones.”

“ I don't know, Seb. I guess we can try it and see and if it doesn't work, the children and I will just come home and wait for you right here......I'm not going to say anything to the children until we are absolutely certain that we'd go. It would be too disappointing for them if we had to change our minds for whatever reason.”

Seb leaned down and scooped a yawning Jessica into his arms and cradled her against his chest. A glimmer of hope began to take shape in his heart that maybe he wouldn't have to go the whole tour without them after all.

They closed up downstairs after letting the dogs back in, and headed up to bed, each carrying a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.. They sat on their bed with Jessica between them while they ate their dessert.

While Lisa took care of her bedtime rituals, Seb rocked Jessica and softly sang to her. She didn't make it to the end of the song. He gently lifted her and kissed her cheek, carefully so he wouldn't wake her back up. Then placed her into the cradle.

She was growing so fast. They were already discussing the need to get Lauren moved into her own room and put Jessica into the nursery. Lisa was just deciding on the motif of Lauren's room. They would be buying her another nursery set and leaving the Secret Garden set in the nursery since the walls had all been painted to go with it. Once Lisa figured out what she wanted, they would call and schedule a time for Carla to come out and paint Lauren's room before they bought the furniture.

Lisa came back into the bedroom and peeked at Jessica and lightly touched her fuzzy hair before she hung her robe. Seb excused himself for a few minutes, then came back and climbed into bed next to her.

“Seb, what about Jim and Debbie? Can we keep them on salary as they are while we are traveling. I don't want to disrupt their lives either. We have so many people depending on us now.”

“I don't see why not. We would need someone here to take care of the grounds anyway. I also know that Urs asked Jim to take care of their property and the dogs while he is away. Urs asked me if it was okay. He didn't want to upset us by asking. But this will work out fine. Debbie won't have as much to do when you are away. That will give her time to get ready for the new baby to arrive. Blake and Brandon did a fine job with the dogs while we were in Paris. We could give them the same job again. It would be good for them to have something they were responsible for and they could earn some money.”

“This could work, couldn't it?” Lisa asked hopefully.

“I think maybe it could. I know we don't have to worry about anything here. We can count on Jim to handle everything. You would just be handling all the travel details. I just don't want this to be too stressful for you. It was quite a chore traveling with all of the children.”

It sounds like we'll have lots of help and if we do it like Maman said and don't travel to every new venue, we'll get enough rest in between. At least it would only be a few days till we see you instead of weeks or maybe even months.”

“This next five weeks will be rough but at least now I have the hope that you and the children will be with me for a lot of the tour. My heart doesn't feel so heavy now.”

Seb pulled her into his arms and began a slow kiss that began as a low sizzle and gradually worked it's way to being a full on blaze. The covers were shoved almost onto the floor as their bodies heated up. They weren't feeling the desperation they'd felt earlier in the afternoon, but they both knew this night would have to last them for much longer than either of them would have liked. At least now they weren't looking at most of the next year apart.

Their joining was much more joyful this time and each left the other with no doubt that they were loved beyond reason, both with words and every touch as they loved each other long into the night.


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PostSubject: Re: CHASING DREAMS   CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 EmptyWed Jul 25, 2012 12:46 pm

Chapter 172:

Urs adjusted the baby carrier so that it was sitting correctly on his chest. He imagined that it wouldn't be too long before Aaron wouldn't fit in this one. They did have the back pack style for him to move up to when he outgrew this one but, Urs enjoyed having Aaron close to his chest when they were walking.

He was taking Aaron for one of their father/son walks this afternoon. It would be their last for a while. This next few weeks was going to be so hard being away from the baby and Alex as they finished up the promotions and preparations for the start of the tour. As grueling as the tour was going to be, he at least had the assurance that his family would be with him a lot of the time, just like Carlos would have Vicki and the kids with him.

He was concerned about Seb, Lisa and the kids having to be apart for so long and wished a solution could be found so that the family could travel at least some of the time. He couldn't imagine having to miss most of Aaron's next year of growing. He would change so much in that time. He did not want to come home at the end of the tour and discover that his son didn't have a clue who he was.

Alex slid Aaron into the carrier and gave both of her men a kiss. As much as she wanted to be with Urs every minute today, she knew that Urs enjoyed his walks alone with their son. She had seen and heard him having full conversations, although one sided, with Aaron as they walked. She couldn't help but be a little jealous as even Max and Bella got to run along beside Urs as they left the yard.

Urs started out just listening to all of the sounds in the woods and enjoying the closeness with Aaron. He stroked his son's cheek and ran his fingers through Aaron's thickening hair. It looked like it would be curly just like his own. That would surely make Alex happy, he grinned.

He walked with Aaron facing outward so that the baby could see what was around them. When they would come across a lizard or some other crawling thing, Urs would tell him about it, either kneeling down to get closer or picking it up so Aaron could see it. Sometimes he even took Aaron's little index finger and let him touch it as long as it wasn't something that might bite him.

Urs wiped his forearm across his brow and thought of how much he missed all the snow from his home.

“Someday I will take you to my home in Switzerland, Aaron. Papi will take you sledding and teach you how to ski. I will show you the mountains and all the beauty there. We will have so much fun.”

He was looking forward to their stop in Switzerland on the tour but he knew there would be little time for him to take Alex and Aaron exploring while they were there. He already knew that many of his friends and family would be coming to the concert so at least he'd get to have a short visit with them. His one priority was to take Alex to his home there so she could see where he grew up. Of course Aaron wouldn't remember this trip so his real introduction to Switzerland would come when he was a bit older.

“Aaron, Papi needs you to be a good boy for your Mami while I'm away. I will miss you both very much.”

As Urs spoke to Aaron, the baby got excited at hearing his Papi's voice and started kicking his legs and squealing. The sound echoed in the woods, making the baby stop and take notice of the new sound.

Urs began to sing to him, softly at first but before long, the sound of his voice was loud enough to carry through the woods to where the Izambard children were playing outside.

“Onkle Urs is singing.” Kayti told the other children. She sat still and listened to him with a smile on her face for as long as she could hear him and then went back to her playing.

Urs sat on a fallen log and took Aaron out of his confinement.

“There, that's better.” he said, sitting Aaron on his knee. He bounced him up and down, joining the baby in his laughter. It always brought Urs to stitches when he heard Aaron laughing. It was such a joyful sound.

On their walks, Urs always told Aaron stories of his childhood and growing up in Willisau. He knew Aaron didn't understand much now but just like when he read to Aaron, he just enjoyed hearing his Papi's voice. And he certainly wouldn't remember what he told him right now but, Urs knew that eventually these stories would begin to take hold in the boy's memory.

Urs headed home, wanting to have a quiet evening at home with Alex tonight. Of course Mami was there but, he knew that she would make herself scarce after the kitchen was cleaned up from dinner.

“Come Max, Bella. Let's go home.”

At the word home, both of the dogs who were scavenging around in the leaves, trying to see what they could find, reversed their direction and headed right towards home and the dinner they knew would be waiting for them there.

Once they were home, Urs laid Aaron on the floor under his play gym so he could stretch out and get a little exercise before Alex fed him his dinner. Aaron was still nursing some but he had also been eating baby food. He loved his cereal and he’d been trying out all sorts of new fruits and vegetables. So far, he didn't seem like a picky eater. He was enjoying all of the new flavors his Mami found for him to try.

Urs did a short work out then showered and joined Alex and Mami in the kitchen to see what was for dinner. They had prepared Veal Parmigiana with garlic bread and a salad. Urs would miss these great meals but he smiled as he knew he always had to keep up with his workouts to battle the effects of eating so much good cooking.

Later, with dinner finished, Urs bathed Aaron and got him dressed into his little pajamas. Then he sat in the rocking chair in the nursery and sang softly to him, helping to relax the baby. It wasn't long before Aaron's eyes began to flutter, heavy with the sleep that was trying to overtake him. His thumb went into his mouth and as he sucked it, he tried to keep his eyes open, looking at his Papi. The sandman finally claimed him and Urs felt the little body relax against his chest. Urs looked up to find Alex standing in the doorway watching him with their son.

“I'm really going to miss this.” he whispered. “It is such a peaceful way to end his day.”

“And he loves it.” she said, coming to stand beside him. She kissed the top of his head and laced her fingers in his hair. The sight of Urs holding their son was always wonderful to her but there was something almost overwhelming to her when she watched him completing his bedtime ritual with his little boy.

Urs rocked another couple of minutes, making sure that Aaron was fully asleep before he stood and placed him in his crib.

He took Alex's hand as they left the nursery but turned and looked back once more and sighed. These little things were what made him feel so happy and were also the most missed when he was away.

They went downstairs and enjoyed some dessert with Mami. She had made some Apple Crisp and they topped it with a scoop of ice cream. Mami stood when they were all finished and took their bowls. After putting them in the dishwasher, she did just as Urs had predicted. She kissed them both goodnight and climbed the stairs, leaving them alone for the night. He had been really glad she was here but even more so now that Alex would be alone with Aaron.

They had begun a few therapy sessions with a physical therapist and had been shown some exercises to do at home to help Aaron's legs. Several times during the day they would all take turns exercising the baby's legs, making it like a game so that as Aaron got older, he would not look on it like a chore to do.

Alex had, at least for now, given up any thought of returning to work. She had turned in her notice and had been given a going away party of sorts at the station. Jeff told her he understood when she explained that she wanted to be able to give Aaron her full attention, especially with his special needs.

It had not been a hard decision for her. There had been no deliberating about it. Once time came for her to either go back to work or give the position up so they could hire someone new, she had had no trouble telling them that she would not be returning. She knew that if anyone had told her how at peace she would be at not working, she would have said they were nuts. But she knew that if the time ever came that she felt comfortable going back to work, that she would be able to get a position somewhere.

Urs led Alex to their bedroom and on into their master bath. He turned on the tub faucets, sprinkling in some of the bath salts he knew Alex liked. After she undressed, he held her hand as she stepped into the tub and sat down. They spoke little, knowing that words would only increase their sadness. He took the sponge from her and kissed her forehead as he began washing her. He gently glided the sponge over her body and knew he was awakening her need for him in the process.

When she couldn't take any more, Alex took the sponge back, rinsed the soap off of herself and stood up, allowing him to wrap the bath sheet around her. He helped her to step out and then dried her off, further increasing the rate of her breathing and her urgency for them to climb into their bed.

“Make love to me, Urs. Now!” she said as soon as he had undressed and joined her in bed.

He claimed her lips in a fiery kiss as they both laid claim to each other's bodies. They left tiny marks of their loving that would not be visible to anyone else but would remain for several days as a reminder of their final night together. Their passion rose and they became one, both completing their journey before they held each other close, falling asleep in the other's arms.

*

The mood at the Marin's was a bit different than at the other two homes, not quite as somber. Although Vicki wasn't joining Carlos right now, she and the children were going home to Madrid since they had received Amelia's passport and she could legally travel with them. Their flight was leaving just an hour later than that of the guys with an almost three hour layover in New York before heading straight to Madrid. They would all go to the airport together so Carlos could help her and the children get checked in. But visits would be possible over the next couple of weeks as the guys finished up their rehearsals and other business in London.

Amelia had been given a backpack from Grandma and Grandpa just like the other children so Vicki had made sure it was packed with some of her favorite things to do for the long trip to Spain.

While Vicki was feeding Carlito, Carlos played with Amelia in her room.

“Papa, is it going to be a long ride on the airplane?”

“Yes, Querida. It will be quite a long ride for you. I hope that you'll try to be a good girl for Mama and help her with Carlito like you always do.”

“I will Papa, I promise.”

“That's my girl. Papa will call you every day though so that I can talk to you. I will miss you all.”

“I will miss you too, Papa. Do you think Mama will play in my doll house with me when you go to work?”

“Well, first of all, we can't take your big doll house on the plane. I talked to Mama and she will get you another one for our house in Madrid. But I bet if you ask her, she will be very happy to play with you in your doll house.”

“Okay, I'll ask her.” she said as she climbed into his lap.

“Is it going to be a very big plane like the one Sammy went on? He said it was a biggest plane.”

“Yes, It will be a very big plane.” he said, answering one of Amelia's countless questions. Now that she was speaking, she had plenty to say and more questions every day. As exasperating as it was sometimes to keep answering so many questions, Carlos knew he would miss hearing them while they were apart.

“Let's go see Mama and Carlito and see if he's ready for his bath. We can see if Mama needs our help.”

“Ok Papa.” she said and took his outstretched hand in hers as they went in search of the other half of their family.

*

The alarm went off and it was two very tired people that dragged themselves out of bed. It was almost two hours before daylight and their bodies cried out for more sleep.

“Please promise me you'll come back and take a nap.” Seb asked as they dressed after a quick shower.

As much as it was torture to say goodbye to him at the airport, she wanted to be with him for as long as possible. This was going to be one of their longest separations since they had found each other again. She was going to drive the Escalade and Urs and Alex were going to ride with them.

Maman and Mary were waiting for them in the kitchen when they came down. Mary had fixed a light breakfast for them and had it set out on the table along with the much needed cups of coffee.

“Don't you worry about anything here, Seb. We'll all be fine. You just be sure to take good care of yourself while you're away. Make sure you eat right as much as possible and take your vitamins.”

“I will Maman.” Seb said, while trying to stifle a grin..

Mary took his hand across the table. “We're going to get all of this worked out for Lisa and the children to go with you. I know this first bit of time away will be hard but just remember that it will be over and then they will be with you.”

“I know, Mary. Thanks.” Seb smiled and sounded much less depressed than he had yesterday.

With all of the talking he and Lisa had done about the details last night, he was gaining more hope that things would indeed work out. They had six weeks to finalize all the details, arranging planes and tour buses for them as they followed him to many of the cities they would sing in.

He even thought that he would arrange surprises of some fun outings for them all when he had a day off here and there.

He wanted so badly to wake the children up and say one final goodbye but, he knew that it would only make things harder for him as well as the children. So he said goodbye to Maman and Mary and then loaded his luggage into the Escalade.

As usual, Jim was up and outside, waiting to be of help. Debbie came outside and joined them all in the front of the house.

“Debbie, you take good care of yourself and that baby.” Seb said hugging her and kissing her cheek.

“I will and you take care. I'm looking forward to hopefully getting to come to a concert when you hit the states in the spring and summer.”

“That will be great. I know they're working on setting some dates for Florida, not sure when though.”

Nobody had noticed that Hannah had come out and joined them.

“What are you doing up so early, young lady. You have to be up for school in a couple of hours.”

“I know, Mom but I wanted to say goodbye to Seb.”

“Alright but then you get back in bed and sleep for a while or you'll be exhausted in school.”

“Yes, Ma'am.” she said then turned to Seb. “Bye Seb. I'll help out with the kids while you're gone.”

“ I knew you would and I appreciate it, Hannah. Thank You. It helps me when I have to go to know that Lisa has so much help here. You take care and I'll see you when I get back.” He gave her a hug, noticing that she still blushed a bit when he did.

There had been no problems since Amanda hadn't been coming around. She had become a bit of a bad influence on Hannah and her parents hadn't even had to put a stop to the relationship. Hannah had done it herself. She spent her time with Jenny now, who seemed a much better influence on Hannah. Both girls studied hard and pushed each other to get better grades and this kept them both out of trouble.

“Well, I guess we'd better get going. We still need to pick Urs and Alex up.” Lisa said.

“Right. Well goodbye everyone. I'll miss you all.” Seb said sounding a bit choked up.

Everyone gave him one last hug before he held the door for Lisa to get into the passenger seat. He went around to the driver's side and waved once more before he slid into his seat.

No one saw the little girl standing at the window, waving as her Papa drove away.


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PostSubject: Re: CHASING DREAMS   CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 EmptyWed Jul 25, 2012 12:47 pm

Chapter 173:

Seb reached across the space in between them and took Lisa's hand as they drove through the woods. When they had gone about half way, he stopped the truck, turning it off completely.

“What are you doing, Seb?”

“I wanted just a few more minutes alone with you. We've got plenty of time.”

He leaned over and pulled her into his arms and crushed her to him before he covered her lips with his own.

“I love you, Ma Cherie. I know the tour will be better now but, this next six weeks will be horrible without you.”

“You'll be so busy, you won't hardly have time to miss me.”

“Nonsense! I'll miss you every minute I'm away from you. Don't you ever think anything different.”

“I know, Seb and I will miss you even when I'm up to my eyeballs in kids, toys and dirty diapers.” she said trying to inject some lightness into this hard task of saying goodbye. It worked, as he laughed at the vision this created in his mind, knowing she wasn't exaggerating, too much.

They picked up Urs and Alex. Urs had quietly kissed a sleeping Aaron goodbye. He would stay with Mami this morning.

Luggage was loaded and both Urs and Seb kissed Mami goodbye with promises that they would take care of each other. Once they were in the car, Alex joked that it sounded like they were two boys off to summer camp and their Moms were having trouble letting them go off on their own.

Lisa and Alex got special passes to go to the boarding gates and stayed with the guys. They found their departure gate and saw that the gate that Vicki and the kids were waiting at with Carlos was just two gates down.

It was pretty quiet in the airport at this early time of the morning so the guys weren't too worried about running into a bunch of Divas. They were always prepared for one or two though. They all gathered together and Lisa sat next to Amelia and listened to her tell all about their trip to Spain.

“You are going to have a great adventure going to another new country. You'll have to tell us all about it when we see you again.”

“Ok I will, Tia.”

It had been decided and discussed simply with Amelia that she should call them Aunt Lisa and Uncle Seb since Carlos and Vicki were going to be her Mama and Papa. It was still taking some getting used to. Lisa hoped that this separation for a time might help them all adjust to the new arrangement.

The others were so happy when Seb and Lisa told them of the tentative plans for her and the children to be able to travel during the tour.

“You know you'll have lots of help. When Mami and I are there, we can help out too.” Alex said.

“Yeah Me too.” Vicki added.

“Yes well, you two have your own children to care for. It sounds like we'll have plenty of help along the way.”

“I'm really glad that Mom and Dad have decided to do some traveling now that he's retired. He's worked so hard his whole life. It's time he got to enjoy it for a while.” Alex said getting teary as she thought of almost losing her Dad.

Urs knew that Alex was already emotional with him leaving. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder, pulled her close to his side and kissed her cheek.

As time grew closer for the guys to leave, they all spread out and said their private goodbyes, hugs and kisses were given and words of love were spoken.

All too soon, their flight was called. The guys hung back for as long as they dared before they finally said their final goodbyes and boarded the plane, taking Seb and Urs away from the girls for what would be the longest six weeks of their lives.

Carlos was the last to board after holding Carlito once more and then Amelia as he hugged and kissed her and promised that it would only be about a week before he would see her again. Then with one last kiss for Vicki and a wave to them all, he joined Urs and Seb just inside the walkway and they all turned and waved, blowing kisses before they turned and moved out of sight.

Lisa and Alex waited with Vicki, helping to amuse Amelia while she waited the final hour for their flight and then they left the airport and headed for home.

“I know you have Mami there for a while but, you need to keep busy these next few weeks, we both will. This is not going to be easy.”

“I know and Mami is going to leave for a month and then come back in time to fly to London with us the third week of February. But we are really getting going with Aaron's therapy and I want to learn as many exercises for him as I can before we leave. So we'll be keeping pretty busy. But we don't have near the preparations that you do to go on tour. You let me know what I can do to help.”

“I will. I'm glad we'll be going but, after the trip to Paris, I know this is going to take some major planning.”

Lisa dropped Alex off then went home, intending to keep her promise to Seb about getting a nap before the day began. But when she went upstairs and passed Holly's room, she could hear muffled sounds of her crying.

She quietly opened the door and poked her head into the room and saw Holly sitting on the floor beneath her window with her head buried against her drawn up knees.

“Holly....Sweetheart...What's wrong?”

“Papa went away.”

“I know Baby and we will really miss him won't we.” Lisa said as she sat next to her and drew Holly against her side. This opened the floodgates and Holly cried harder.

Lisa pulled Holly into her lap and just held her close and let her cry until she settled down.

“Will he come back?”

“Well of course he'll come back, Sweetheart. He loves us very much and he was sad too that he had to leave us to go to work.” Lisa wanted so badly to tell Holly that they would definitely be going on the tour and would be spending lots of time with Seb. But she didn't dare to tell the children before more arrangements had been made and it was more certain that they would actually go.

“We''ll talk to Papa later. He's going to call us. We'll either speak to him on the phone or on the computer. Come on now. You lie down for a little longer and get some rest before it's time to get up for school.”

Holly stayed clinging so tightly to Lisa's hand that she wound up climbing into Holly's bed and falling asleep right next to her and that is where Mary found her when she came to wake Holly to get ready for school.

Although the first couple of weeks were very hard to adjust, they all fell into their routines. The guys were all busy with promotions and rehearsing.

At home, Lisa and Alex were trying to get as prepared as possible to go on such a long trip away from home. They met at Lisa's, along with Mom and Dad to go over dates and all of the arrangements for each move to another city. They all knew they would need to have this worked out as much as possible long before the first actual flight to London in a few weeks.

Miss Eva Dupree, a distant cousin of Seb's, made several visits to the Izambard house to meet with the children so that she and the children could get accustomed to one another. She would be the tutor for Jeremy and Holly and beginning the following September, Sammy would officially begin kindergarten, although he was already learning first grade material.

Miss Dupree was very impressed with the children and at each visit she took time with Lisa and went over lesson plans for each of the children, including some simple lessons for Sammy and even Kayti, who was now beginning to recognize her letters and always wanted to be right in the thick of things with the other children.

Some days were harder than others as they waited through the long weeks of separation.

Lisa tried to keep Seb from really missing any important happenings by numerous emails and short videos of the children. She continued the videos she had begun making on his last trip away, not filming every day but making sure to let him in on things like the teeth that Holly and Jeremy were losing and seeing Jessica rolling around the floor. Sammy always held up drawings he had done to show Papa and told them he would give them to him when he came home. One video she made that really made him homesick was seeing Lauren walking across the kitchen floor into Lisa's arms. Lauren had the biggest smile on her face and showed that she knew it was a big deal.

He could hear how much more verbal Kayti was getting, now very able to hold a full conversation. How much she had changed from the baby he'd met less than a year and a half ago.

When it became clear that Seb and Urs would not make it home until just a few days before they would have to fly back to London, Lisa and Alex told them both to just go on to London and they would meet them there. That way the guys could spend a few days resting before the first concert on the twenty first of February. Seb had balked at this idea, saying that he could be of help to her on the flight over but, she had won that argument in the end because he knew she was right. They were all tired from the promotions and could very well use these days of rest.

David and Grace would be in London and Carlos was going to go home to Spain and spend a few days with his family there and then meet them back in London.

The end was coming to their time apart and Seb could not wait to hold Lisa in his arms and to hug his children.

*

“So what do you think? We've tried talking to him. We've taken privileges away and nothing seems to be working. It's not every day but he will all of a sudden have these outbursts and gets aggressive with the younger children. I've told him that this is not acceptable behavior. Seb has even spoken to him on the web cam. It seems to help for a few days when he speaks to Seb. But then he'll have another outburst.” I just don't know what to do, especially if he won't tell me why he's so angry.”

Lisa was sitting in Dr. Jane's office, trying to get some help about how to deal with Jeremy's recent behavior. Jeremy and Holly were here for their weekly visit and Sammy and Kayti were here also but, they now only came once a month unless Lisa had a specific concern with one of them.

“Let me have a chat with him and see if I can get an idea about what is bothering him. You said his grades have still been good?”

“Oh yes, He is so proud of his grades. Even now with this behavior, he still can't wait to come home and show us his papers and especially to tell Seb about them when he speaks to him.”

“Okay, instead of seeing he and Holly together today, let me speak to him alone first.”

Lisa joined the other children in the play area along with Maman and Dr. Jane called Jeremy. He looked back at Holly, expecting her to follow him as usual.

“Jeremy, I'd like to have a chat with you by yourself if that's okay.”

He turned and looked at Lisa like he knew he was in trouble.

“It's okay Sweetheart. Holly will come in with you in a while.” Lisa said with a reassuring smile.

He didn't looked too convinced as Jane came and placed her hand on his shoulder and guided him into the room where she played with the kids and tried to get into their heads to help them deal with all of their issues.

“Am I in trouble?”

“No Jeremy. I just thought maybe you'd like to have some time to talk to me without your little sister hearing everything.”

“Oh.” he said looking at the carpet and dragging the toe of his shoe back and forth.

“Come sit on the carpet here with me and we'll have a chat.”

Jeremy went and sat down but, did so very slowly and still not looking at her.

“Jeremy, how are you doing?”

“Fine.” he said looking at his hands that were lying in his lap.

When he and Holly had first come, they had both been very quiet but in the last months she had seen them both blossoming as they adjusted to their new lives of having a permanent family. They had both become quite talkative in telling her about their former lives as well as about all the fun they were having living with the Izambards.

This quiet Jeremy was one she hadn't seen for quite some time.

“Your Mom says you've seemed upset a lot lately and that you can't tell her what is bothering you.” she said and left it hanging, hoping that it would open the door for him to talk about what was making him so angry.

“I miss Papa.”

“ Oh Sweetheart, I know you do. Your whole family does.”

“And Mama is going to leave too. Then Holly and me won't have no one again.”

“Where did you get the idea that Mama was going to leave you?”

“I heard her talking to Aunt Alex. Aunt Alex is going away too.”

“And that makes you very upset to think they are leaving you?”

Jeremy just nodded his head.

“I'm going to give you some paper to draw on for a few minutes. Will that be alright? Then I'll be back in a few minutes.”

“Okay.”

Jane was surprised at how quickly Jeremy had told her what was bothering him but, it was an issue that could be remedied right away. She had Lisa called into her office.

“Is everything alright?” Lisa asked, nervous at the speed with which Jane had spoken to Jeremy and had brought her in to speak with her.

“He thinks you're leaving him.”

“What?”

“He's overheard you speaking about the plans for the trip, only he doesn't know that he and the other children are going along too. He's afraid Lisa. He thinks he and Holly are being abandoned again. That very well explains his behavior. He's afraid and angry and letting it out the only way he knows how.”

“Can I go speak to him now?”

“Of course.” I'll take Holly into the other room and play with her there.”

Lisa went into the room where Jeremy was supposedly drawing but he was just sitting there staring at the blank page.

“Hi.” She said, trying to figure out his mood.

“Hi Mama.” he said like he still thought he was in trouble.

Lisa turned the chair next to him so that she wasn't just sitting beside him but was facing him.

“Can we talk?”

He looked up at her then, trying to see what her expression would tell him.

She reached out and stroked his cheek.

“Do you have any idea how much I love you Jeremy?”

He shrugged his shoulders and that hurt Lisa more than she could ever have imagined.

“I do, Jeremy. I love you so much.”

“Why are you going to leave us then?”

In the beginning, right after Seb left, they were busy planning and decided not to tell the children because things weren't definite. Then as they got things going in the right direction and realized that they would indeed be going they decided to still keep it from the children because it was still such a long time away in the life of a child. Sammy had just about driven everyone crazy before they left for Paris and that had only been a few days and then Lisa decided to keep it as a surprise and wait to tell them just before they would go.

She thought she had been so careful in not talking about plans around the children but at some point Jeremy had heard and gotten a very wrong impression.

She slid off of her chair and kneeled right next to him and spun his chair around so he was facing her.

“Jeremy, I am so sorry that you heard what you did because what you heard was only part of what we were talking about. If I tell you something, can you keep a very special secret?”

He nodded his head and finally met her eyes.

In just over a week, not only will I be leaving but all of us will be, our whole family. We are going to go on some of the tour with Papa. We will meet him in London. Grandma and Grandpa are coming too to help.”

“And Auntie Alex too?” he said as the excitement began building inside of him.

“Yes, Auntie Alex and Aaron are going to be going to be with Onkle Urs.”

Tears began to fall from Jeremy's eyes as the relief filled him.

Lisa drew him against her and just held him.

“I'm sorry Sweetheart. I'm so sorry that you were afraid. Please talk to Mama when something is bothering you. We can always talk about it and fix it as long as we work together, okay.”

He nodded his head against her shoulder and was clinging to her tightly.

“Look at me. Your last name may not be Izambard yet but you are an Izambard in every way that matters, in here.” she said laying her hand against her heart then against his.

The adoption may take a little while because it is very important to Papa that he can be there when we go see the judge. But do not worry any more about it. You and Holly aren't going anywhere. You belong to us, now and forever.”

Lisa hugged him again.

“Were you going to draw a picture?”

“I didn't know what to draw. But I think I will draw a picture to give to Papa when we go to London.”

“That is a great idea. Now don't forget, we are keeping this as a surprise for the other children okay?”

“Okay Mama, I can keep a surprise.”

“I knew you could. You're a good boy.”

Jeremy's chest puffed out in pride as he saw the smile on his Mama's face.


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PostSubject: Re: CHASING DREAMS   CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 EmptyWed Jul 25, 2012 12:48 pm

Chapter 174:

The plane was descending, coming to land at Heathrow, none too soon for Lisa. Jessica had become upset over an hour ago and nothing was helping. She'd tried walking her and made sure she was dry and not hungry. It had only been about ten minutes ago that the baby finally fell asleep in her arms.

The rest of the children had tolerated the trip well. Mom and Dad had taken Holly, Kayti and Lauren to sit with them and Lisa and Maman had Sammy, Jessica and Jeremy in their row, in the center row of the plane, with Mami, Alex and Aaron just across the aisle.

Everyone was very ready to get off of the plane and stretch their legs. They made their way to the baggage claim area and Lisa was very much relieved to see that their driver, complete with the hotel van, was waiting there with a sign with their name on it.

As soon as she introduced herself, the driver hurried to help get a luggage cart to transport their luggage to the van. She knew that Seb wouldn't be here. They had rehearsals today until two and then he'd have the rest of the day with them.

She couldn't wait to get to the hotel and take a shower and change into a fresh outfit so she would look presentable when she saw him. Every nerve ending was jumping as she thought of being in his arms again. It had seemed so much longer than the six weeks that had passed since he left Tampa.

When the van pulled in front of the hotel, several employees who had obviously been told of the arrival of the large entourage, came to their aid and helped to unload luggage and children. Keys were handed to them and they were told that everything had been handled prior to their arrival and no checking in was necessary. They could head straight for their suites.

Both Urs and Seb were waiting for the girls to get to London to look at some permanent housing. Especially for the Izambard's, the flat that Seb had been staying at before was not large enough for them all.

Lisa's jaw dropped when she saw the suite they were led into. It was amazing. The large common area had several sofa's and chairs and a small kitchen area with a long dining table and chairs. Off of the living area were six doors. Five of them were bedrooms, three of which had full bathrooms and the last door was another full bath.

As they went through looking at the rooms, Lisa smiled when she saw some of Seb's clothes laid over the back of a chair. When everyone had moved on to the next room, she went over and picked up his shirt and brought it right up to her face, inhaling deeply, enjoying his scent.

“PAPA! PAPA!!!” Lisa heard being screamed by the children.

She dropped his shirt and hurried out of the bedroom to find that Seb had literally been tackled to the ground by Jeremy, Holly Kayti and Sammy. Mom was just putting Lauren down so she could walk to her Papa.

As much as Lisa wanted to run and join the children in throwing herself at him, she hung back and let them have their time with him.

Seb reached out of the pile, got onto his knees and leaned out to let Lauren get to him without getting knocked over by the other children. When she reached him, he scooped her into his arms and cuddled her against his chest, telling her how proud he was of her, being a big girl and walking.

He sat down on the floor, still holding her and Maman passed Jessica down to him so that now he was surrounded by all six of his children and what a sight it was.

The children were so happy, all talking at the same time. Even Lauren, who didn't have much of a vocabulary yet, was sounding like she was trying to talk to him. He snuggled the two babies close for a minute then handed them up to Mom and Maman so he could get up. He locked eyes with Lisa and carefully moved away from the children so he wouldn't step on any of them.

Without a word Lisa and Seb fell into each others arms, hugging and kissing each other like they needed it to live. Jeremy and Sammy giggled and Mom took that as her cue to distract the children by getting them seated in the kitchen and after finding a fully stocked kitchen, complete even with a high chair for Lauren, she made them a quick lunch with Maman's help.

Seb took Lisa's hand and drew her into their bedroom and shut the door, locking it for good measure.

“I missed you so much.” They spoke in unison and giggled.

“That was the longest six weeks of my life.” he said.

“Mine too.” she said as she laid kisses along his jaw at the same time her hands were roaming over his body, reassuring herself that it wasn't just another dream.

“Do you think they'll miss us if we don't come out for a while?”

“Maybe, but they'll survive.” she chuckled and he pulled her straight into the bathroom where they quickly disrobed and took a very long shower.

In the suite down the hall, Urs entered to find Alex sitting on the sofa feeding Aaron a bottle.

“Hi Liebe.”

“Hi I thought you guys wouldn't be finished till two.” she said as she passed Aaron to Mami and ran into his arms.

“We weren't getting much accomplished knowing that you were all almost here. So we just called it a day.” he managed to get out just before she covered his lips with her own.

“Don't mind me, I'll just take Aaron for a walk and stretch my legs.” Mami said, trying to remind them they weren't alone.

“Wait Mami.” Urs said and gathered her into a huge hug, careful not to squish his son.

He took Aaron from his mother and exclaimed at how much Aaron had grown in six weeks.

“I've stopped nursing and he's totally on formula and baby food now. Wait until you see how much he can eat.”

“I can't wait to feed him and even change his diapers. I missed all of the little things so much.”

Aaron patted Urs's face and smiled at his Papi, showing off his two bottom teeth that had popped through while Urs had been away. Now he had all four front teeth in, making him look so different when he smiled.

Mami gave Urs time with Aaron, waiting while Urs changed his diaper and then she put Aaron in the stroller, took a room key and told them she'd be back in a while. She was going exploring. She hadn't fooled either of them for a second but they weren't complaining as this gave them some private time.

Urs kissed her until she had to come up for air and they moved their reunion into one of the bedrooms, never losing physical contact along the way.

This was a carbon copy of the suite Seb had and was just down the hall. With a bedroom for Urs and Alex and one for Aaron, that left the other two for Mami and Mom and Dad.

Urs kicked the door shut before he began shedding his clothes and was helping Alex with hers, anxious to feel her nakedness against his.

Both couples spent the next hour reaffirming their love and showing each other just how much they had been missed.

*

Since they had been in London, they had done a lot of exploring and sightseeing. The children were all very happy to be with their fathers again and the guys were spending as much time with their families as was possible in between putting the finishing touches on the set and the arrangements.

Lisa and Alex had done a little bit of real estate searching and had found some possibilities which would be explored as they had time. For now the hotel was working out nicely for their needs. They wouldn't be here in London much longer anyway.

The guys weren't there all the time but that was okay. They were with them in the mornings, most evenings and definitely at night, in bed with their wives where they belonged.

*

Tonight was their big night. February the Twenty First, the first night of their new world tour. The guys were all excited but the girls could tell they were a bit nervous too. What if the audience didn't like what they had worked so hard to put together all of these months.

Lisa and Alex had gone to hear them rehearse a few times and knew that there wasn't a thing to worry about but, you couldn't tell the guys that. They would just have to see it for themselves when they stood before their audience.

They had altered their game plan a bit when Mom and Dad insisted that the girls go with Seb and Urs to Manchester and Birmingham and the children would stay in London with them, Mami and Maman. Also Miss Dupree had arrived in London a couple of days before, seeing Seb for the first time since they were children.

They had gotten caught up on the happenings in each other's lives and Seb had seen her with the children and was pleased that they would have another family member along to help and also to keep the older ones current with their schooling.

So, Lisa and Alex were now in Manchester at their hotel getting ready to go to the concert. They had full access passes that would get them anywhere in the arena.

“Does this remind you of anything?” Lisa said, looking far away as she put the finishing touches on her hair.

“What?”

“That afternoon that we were getting ready to go to Seb's concert in Paris?”

“Oh Yeah. What a night. It sure changed our lives didn't it..... You are happy aren't you? All of the old ghosts are gone?”

“Oh yes. I know there will be challenges in our lives but, I can't imagine being any happier than I am right now. What about you? Your life is so far off of the plan that you had for it. Are you happy with the choices you've made?”

“Absolutely. It definitely wasn't how I had planned my life to be but, if I had had my way I would be alone and working my tail off and I wouldn't have the love of the most wonderful man and I definitely wouldn't have Aaron. Even with the challenges we still have to face and work through with him, I wouldn't change a thing. I know I was so scared when I found out I was pregnant. I couldn't imagine being a Mom. But now I can't imagine being anything more important than Aaron's Mami.”

“I know what you mean. Every day, even with all of the little problems that pop up, when I lay down at night and think of my children, I can't even think what it was like before I had them with me. I wouldn't want it any other way.

As they continued to get ready, Grace and Vicki knocked on the door and made it a foursome as they all discussed the coming concert and the importance for their guys.

*

Until Urs was summoned to have his hair and makeup done, he and Alex were lounging, stretched out alongside of each other on the large sofa in his dressing room, just enjoying a few minutes of quiet and closeness before the concert. They had locked the door and Alex had stepped out of her dress, hanging it on a hanger next to his suits. Urs was down to his underclothes as well.

They had taken a few minutes and called Mami to check on Aaron. Mami assured both of them that Aaron was just fine and they shouldn't worry about him, just have a wonderful time. She told Urs how proud she was of him and wished him well tonight.

Glad that he hadn't had make up done yet, Urs pulled Alex closer and kissed her senseless. They spoke of their love and their son and how happy they were that things had worked out for the girls and the children to come along. They would have taken things further but the knock came for him to have his hair and makeup done, interrupting them.

At Urs's look of disappointment, Alex took his face in her hands and kissed him once more, promising that they would pick up where they left off later tonight when they were alone.

They quickly dressed and while Urs went to get his hair and makeup done, Alex touched up her own hair and makeup before searching for the rest of the girls and then to find their seats.

*

“How do you feel? Are you ready?” Lisa asked Seb. She stood back and watched as the makeup was applied to his face. She knew it would take some getting used to, seeing him in makeup but, she knew it was necessary for the stage.

“I think so.” he answered when he could do so without messing up what was being done.

He looked in the mirror in front of him and met her eyes. She could see the nerves that he was trying hard to cover. She knew sometimes he still battled the demon of thinking that he just wasn't as good as the other three of his band mates. She had scolded him time and time again, telling him that he had more than proven his place and worth in Il Divo.

Of course he would deny that he felt inferior but she had heard him in interviews making comments that if she'd been standing next to him she would have slapped him upside the head like Jethro Gibbs does on the TV show NCIS. She also would remind him to go check out his Sirens in the Chateau and in his Gallery to see what they said about him and their perception of his abilities. Of course, a lot of them weren't only talking about his singing.

He stood from the chair, hair and make up perfect, all ready to go on stage except for the first jacket of the evening. It was hot back here so they would wait until the last minute to put them on.

Seb leaned down and brushed a gentle kiss across her lips.

“I'm so glad that you are here with me tonight. You and my singing are my passions and to have them both here together is an amazing feeling for me.”

She wrapped her arms around his waist, careful not to mess him up.

“I'm so proud of you Seb. You are a fantastic singer and musician, an amazing father to our children and if I dreamed a million dreams, I couldn't dream of a more perfect husband. You have given me my life back. We'll have challenges and struggles through our lives I'm sure but, I know that together we can face and get through all of them.”

“Ten minutes” someone in the hall yelled to everyone, letting them know they'd better get moving.

“I'll get out of your way. I love you Sebastien Izambard.” she said leaning up to kiss him before she would leave and let him finish getting ready.

“And I love you Ma Cherie, more every day.”

“Have fun out there.” She said with a wave as she left him to head to the room where those who had bought the meet and greets were waiting for their time with Il Divo.

“We will.” he said with a wink.

*

The arena was filling up as the girls were shown to their seats in the center of the front row, in front of the small stage.

There were families, including some children. But the majority of the audience was women as usual. Dress ranged from very casual in jeans and t-shirts to casual dress with the women in some very nice dresses or dressy slacks and tops.

It would still be some time before the start of the concert. This tour, the guys were doing meet and greets with around fifty fans before the show. Lisa stood with her back against the stage and watched the people coming in and finding their seats. Some people were quiet and just sat and looked around, while others were definitely major fans and were very excited to be here. They were hustling around speaking to lots of women in other parts of the arena. Some were leaning over the apron stage talking to the fans that were sitting inside the inner circle. They would see a familiar face and call to them and wave across the room to each other.

A group of several women filed into the second row, all talking amongst themselves. They were all smiling and obviously very excited. One of them, a woman about thirty, turned and looked right at Alex and Lisa, who were still standing facing the audience.

“So who is your favorite Divo? I am a Siren, mine is definitely Seb. I think he is the most perfect man on the planet, don't you?” She said excitedly.

“Oh she is definitely a Siren too. But me, I am one hundred percent Uber.” Alex said as she giggled.

“Jennifer, don't you know who they are?” one of the other woman asked, poking the other woman while looking apologetically at Alex and Lisa.

“No, who?”

“Alex Buhler and Lisa”

“Izambard” Jennifer finished, looking embarrassed. “I'm sorry. I didn't recognize you. I hope you weren't offended by what I said.”

“No, of course not.” Lisa said, smiling at the other woman. “Is this your first Il Divo concert?”

“Oh heavens no. We've all been following Il Divo since they started. But I am really excited to see the new show and hear them sing the songs from The Promise as well as some of our old favorites. How many times have you both seen them in concert? It must be a bunch.”

“Actually no, we've seen them sing a few songs together but never a whole concert yet. We did see Sebastien live in concert when he was in Paris promoting his first album though. But I can't wait to be able to hear a whole concert with Il Divo.”

“Oh you are in for a treat then.”

The arena filled up and those that were wandering began to take their seats and before long the lights were lowered and the anticipation began building at a feverish pace. Several men and women who would be controlling the spotlights climbed the rope ladders around the stage and sat in small seats with headsets on. The orchestra and band took their places. Once they began to ready their instruments although there was still talking in the audience, it was in much more hushed tones than before as people anticipated the start of the show.

Alex squeezed Lisa's hand as they began to play and Lisa knew that Alex was as excited as she was to be here, seeing the show, especially on their first night. They sat enjoying the overture, a mix of pieces of the songs they would hear in their entirety during the concert but were also wishing it would hurry up and be over so the guys would take the stage and then suddenly they did.

They climbed the steps behind the main stage and stood tall and proud at the top looking at their audience for the first time since the end of their last tour. They couldn't have looked happier as Carlos began the first part of Somewhere. Immediately after Somewhere they went into Regressa A Mi and from there the songs seemed to speed by. Their voices were all strong and as each Divo had their solo moments to shine, their respective Divas let them know they were thrilled to hear and see them.

The first costume change had passed and they were almost to the intermission before they knew it. All four girls left their seats quietly during Notte Di Luce to be in the dressing rooms waiting for their guys, spent a few minutes with them and then returned to their seats to be ready for the second half of the show.

The guys returned to the stage with Va Todo Al Ganador and from there the show sped towards it's end. For Lisa, she hated that it was going by so quickly but at least she knew she'd be able to do it all over again in a few days.

There were several moments that would stand out in Lisa's memory of this first show. The audience appreciated the guys return so much and showed it repeatedly with their applause. There were also a few funny moments. Carlos' joke about everyone missing him and his curl got plenty of laughs and when Sebastien wound up behind instead of in front of a curtain that lowered from the rafters, everyone was laughing so hard, including the guys who had a hard time finishing the song. David had played up on it, pretending to walk into his curtain then came over and shook Seb's hand making everyone laugh even more. Lisa felt bad for him but he seemed to take it in stride, laughing just as much as everyone else. As they sat on the stools on the large stage during the next song, Everytime I Look At You, Seb made eye contact with her and still had the laughter in his eyes. When the guys each pointed out towards the audience, Each of them were suspiciously pointing in the direction of their ladies.

The girls had seen some of the rehearsals but some things had even been held back as a surprise for them. Directly after the final costume change, the arena was dark and all of a sudden Lisa could hear Seb singing alone, no music playing, just the sound of his sweet voice singing Amazing Grace. The only thing was, she couldn't see him. Even in the darkness, she tried to see him on the stage but he wasn't there. Gasps in the inner circle began to be heard and finally she saw him. He had somehow come into the inner circle and was walking right up the center aisle in the midst of some very surprised and extremely happy Divas.

Lisa was momentarily concerned for Seb's safety as he passed through the crowd but then noticed that he wasn't alone but was flanked by some large security men who were prepared to fend of any amorous advances from the women.

There seemed to be no need for concern as the women appeared to be too stunned to do anything but smile and watch him pass by. There were a few who reached out to touch him but, just brushed the sleeve of his coat. He transferred the roses he was carrying to the same hand that he was holding the microphone in and shook a few hands. When he reached the small staircase at the back of the small stage he climbed the steps, transferring the small bundle of roses back into his other hand.

He finished the first verse facing the back of the large stage and watched as the other three Divos walked down the right side of the apron stage. David began to sing the second verse and he, Carlos and Urs shook a few hands as they made their way to where Seb was waiting on the small stage. During the interval where the bagpipe was playing, they looked around at the audience, pleasing some of the Divas that were gathering around the inner and outer part of the small stage with a handshake, a smile or a wave.

Already having sung Bridge Over Troubled Water, which was another surprise to everyone including the girls, Il Divo was about the end the show with their final surprise. Seb had handed each of the guys one of the roses during Amazing Grace and now he addressed the audience.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we sincerely hope that each and every one of you have enjoyed your evening with us. I know that I can speak for each of us when I tell you that we have truly enjoyed ourselves tonight. We are so happy to be on tour singing to all of you because this is what we were born to do. I know for me, this life that I am living seems an impossible dream. All of you that are fans of our music, some of whom have been with us since the beginning and those of you who are new to the Il Divo world, we appreciate each and every one of you for supporting us and helping us to live this dream. Also I would like to say to my wife, Lisa you are the other half of my dream and you have shared all of this with me for the last year and you have made me so happy as we have been building our family together. I look forward to many years of love and happiness with you and our children.”

Each of the girls, but especially Lisa had tears in their eyes as the guys stepped to the edge of the stage and held out their roses to them. The girls quickly took them and sat back down as the music began to play.

Urs finished the introduction, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we'd like to end our show with The Impossible Dream.” to which the audience erupted in a huge applause.

As the guys sang the song, they shook hands and signed books, pictures and posters and any other thing the fans laid on the stage for them to sign until just before the end when they split up, Carlos and Seb going up one side of the apron stage and David and Urs going up the other until they met on the large stage for their big ending, coming together, holding hands and taking several bows.

With one last introduction of each of them, as their name was called they stepped forward and blew a kiss and bowed to the audience.

“Have a wonderful night and be safe going home.” Seb said as they left the stage.

Even after Il Divo had left the stage the applause lasted for several minutes as the fans hoped that this wasn't actually the end of the show. Only after the lights in the arena came up and the lighting guys climbed down from their perches did the fans accept that it really was over.

The ladies who had been sitting behind Lisa and the other girls, were hoping to speak to them again but found that they had already quietly slipped out to join the guys backstage.

Everyone backstage was so pumped up with adrenalin after the successful concert. Even as each of the crew went about his job dismantling the set, they couldn't help but rejoice in a job well done by everyone.

The girls hurried to the back, dodging crew members who were scurrying around, (knowing their job wasn't finished until everything had been packed up and was on it's way to the next venue.) Each congratulating the guys on a wonderful show, the girls could tell that their men were on a high that would keep them wide awake for hours. They would take off their make-up and change and then they would all head out for a late dinner.

Lisa melted into Seb's open arms as soon as she reached him, which had taken some doing as she had already been grabbed and hugged by each of the other three as she passed them. She leaned up and kissed Seb's cheek only to have him turn his head and capture her lips, crushing her to him in a feverish kiss.

“That was a beautiful thing you said out there.” she said, once he had steadied her on her feet.

“I meant every word I said Ma Cherie, especially what I said to you. We have many more dreams to chase, you and I, and we will reach each of them side by side.”

Seb pulled Lisa into his dressing room and locked the door so they would be undisturbed. He quickly removed his make-up and then his jacket. After that he had help as Lisa helped him to remove the rest of his clothes as Seb did the same for her.

It was much later when they finally caught up to the rest of the group to eat some dinner. By now they were well and truly famished.


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PostSubject: Re: CHASING DREAMS   CHASING DREAMS - Page 7 EmptyWed Jul 25, 2012 12:49 pm

Epilogue:

They’re all here! Well, most of them were. She couldn’t believe what they’d all done for her. She had told Seb that she didn’t want a big deal made of her 80th birthday, but of course he didn’t listen, the old coot never did, did he, she thought with a chuckle.

She couldn’t blame him though. She had done his 80th birthday up in grand fashion, almost seven years ago, but he’d absolutely loved it. He had always loved being the center of attention. He wasn’t ever stuck up or anything. No, that wasn’t Seb’s style. But he never minded having everyone’s attention for a while.

She had never minded. She loved watching and listening to him sing more than anything, well, almost anything.

Even though they were both fighting all the common ailments of the aged, their love life was as healthy as ever, for their age. They just had to get creative sometimes when backs and knees among other things, wouldn’t cooperate. But even just a kiss from Seb still made her knees go weak, although they did do that all by themselves sometimes.

God, she still loved him so much. They had just celebrated fifty three years married to each other only two weeks ago. Each year her love for Sebastien Izambard had grown more than she could ever have imagined. He still made her feel like the eighteen year old girl he’d met in Paris over sixty years ago. Just one look from those green eyes that she loved to look into and she knew without a doubt that he still loved and wanted her.

He so loved to make people happy. She always thought that he lived for that. He got so much joy out of giving pleasure to others, whether it was making love to her, doing something nice for her or one of their many children, or their friends and family, just because he felt like it. It didn’t even have to be a special occasion.

Then there were the fans, the Il Divo fans and his fans from his solo career before and after Il Divo. He never minded taking time for them. He knew that he was where he was professionally because of their love and commitment to him. He loved the never ending creative gifts that he had received at the concerts and many of them still held places of honor around the house or in the music building.

His family always came first, even in the busy Il Divo years. They never wanted for anything, except for just a little more of his time when he had to be away for months. But he always more than made up for when he was absent for extended periods..

After Il Divo went their separate ways as far as the constant touring and CD’s went, each of the Divos went back to their solo careers. They did come together every so often for either a concert or two, a benefit event where their presence was requested and even a couple of CD’s if the music was great, some of which they wrote themselves, either together or individually, and if it fit into their schedules.

Occasionally, one of the Divos could still be found doing a magazine interview or on a talk show, speaking on their amazing past and singing a song or two of their solo stuff.

Because of Il Divo and the other classical crossover groups and soloists that came after them, Classical music and operas made a huge comeback much to the delight of the three Divos that had come from that genre of music and had returned to it after Il Divo ended.

Even though Simon had passed away more than twenty years ago, he was still a household name. He had stayed with American Idol in a technical capacity until just weeks before his quick death from a massive heart attack. He hadn’t suffered. His current girlfriend had been there with him, but was unable to revive him, even with the AED (Automated External Defibrillator) that was common in most households now. They had gotten so small now that you could carry them in your pocket. All of the Divos and their wives had attended the services for Simon, along with hundreds of others who had been given the wonderful opportunities in the music business if Simon thought you were good enough. Even all these years later though, Il Divo still stood out in the files of Simon’s achievements and Teri told them all that they had remained his favorite accomplishment until his death.

They had remained more than boss and employees, too. He would call one of them up and invite himself for dinner, especially at the group home, where especially in his later years he loved to go and meet the current children living in the home. He left the home an enormous endowment in his will because not only were the children living there benefiting from the music being learned there, but other local children had come to classes to learn an instrument or to have voice lessons.

The Jessie Daniels Home for Children had seen many children within its walls over the years. Kayti and Sammy were just the beginning of so many happy children who grew up to do so many vast and wonderful things with the lives they’d been given.

Kayti of course had had such a wonderful career in music. She still sang occasionally, but only if and when it suited her. She didn’t need to work and only took a long engagement if it was something special. One of her favorite things, even after all of these years was to sing a duet with her Papa. Even at fifty four years old, Kayti was still her Papa’s little girl and always would be. It still brought a tear to Lisa’s eye to see them together. She could still remember like it was yesterday those first months with Seb, when he became a permanent part of her dreams and Kayti had stolen his heart as well.

Kayti had married and she and her husband Trent had given Lisa and Seb three of their many beloved Grandchildren. When Trent had gotten cancer, losing the battle after two years,the whole family had been devastated. Kayti's children had been grown so that had left Kayti alone for several years until she had met and fallen in love with Bryan. It had not been a speedy courtship as Kayti had been determined not to let another man into her heart. Lisa and Seb had not pushed her, but gently helped her to open her heart again and now Kayti and Bryan were very happily married and had adopted three of the children that had been placed in the group home.

There across the room, she saw Sammy laughing at something his wife Jaya had said.

Sammy, the first test of her determination not to lose a child because of the circumstances that had brought them to her. Over the years there were many challenging children either because they were older and already had a huge chip on their shoulder and didn’t believe that anyone could truly love them, or because they had retreated into their own minds to protect themselves against any more hurt.

Sammy, had indeed been a challenge, but was also their greatest success. She knew that Seb still had one of the most special relationships with Sammy, mostly because he had identified with Sammy’s situation so closely. Jane Talbot had not only helped Sammy, but she had also helped Seb to put that terrible part of his past in its grave. That had been when Sammy was a child, but Seb and Sammy had such an amazing bond even as adults. They would talk for hours, in French, no less. Sammy loved to have conversations with Seb in French because he knew it made Seb happy to be able to have a long conversation in his native language.

Sammy and Jaya, a beautiful woman he'd met in India, had been married for almost thirty years now and they had five children, three boys and two girls. He was a wonderful father and husband and Lisa had enjoyed watching him with his family over the years because Sammy went out of his way to make sure they knew how much they were loved.

Sammy had been told very early on what a great artist he was every time he drew something, but he had surpassed any imagining that he himself or his parents had had for him. As he grew, he always drew special pictures for those he loved. He never bought greeting cards for birthday’s or anniversaries and it was always a much anticipated event by the whole family to see what a card would look like that Sammy had drawn.

He had gone to school not quite knowing what he wanted to do with his drawing talent but had met a professor that suggested that he try architecture. He was now one of the most sought after architects, first it had been in the country and then later, in the world, for almost twenty five years now. He had designed buildings in dozens of countries. But his greatest achievement in his parents eyes was the design of their home after a fire destroyed the original main house twenty years ago.

Thankfully, everyone had gotten out safely, but it was a total loss and devastating to them all because of the emotional attachment to the old house. Lisa especially had taken it hard. She had worked so hard to get the group home going and while the initial renovations were being completed, she watched them with excitement and eagerness to begin living her dream. Upon investigation, it was discovered that a squirrel had gotten into the attic and chewed some wiring and that caused the fire. The insurance had covered everything and while the new house was built, Seb had gotten them all set up in a hotel for the duration until the day finally came that they were able to move into the new house.

Sammy had spent hours and hours with her and Seb and they came up with blueprints for the new house that were amazing and much more functional for their needs than the old house had been .

One thing that Seb had wanted most was a large suite for the two of them. Even though most of the day to day dealings with the young children had been turned over to their daughter Stephanie, the eldest Izambards still lived in the house and participated frequently with outings and assisted wherever needed. Not having to keep track of everything on a daily basis, had given them the time to travel and enjoy their middle age. Seb had thoroughly enjoyed showing Lisa the world and most especially his beloved France.

They had of course had their little spats as all married couples do but, there had always been love and respect between them and a willingness to listen to what the other had to say. Only once in their marriage had a disagreement escalated into something so out of control that it threatened their marriage or the great love they shared. That photo incident near the beginning of their lives together had been a great lesson for them both and served as a reminder of how it would feel to be losing the other.

Back to the new house, Boy she sure had a hard time keeping her mind on one thought nowadays.

As hard as losing the old house had been, by the time the new house was finished, everyone was excited to get moved in. They hadn’t had to return any children to the state system after the fire, but no new children had come into their lives during eleven months between the fire and the move in date and they were glad to be able to get back to normal.

Their old friend Ty Pennington had come as the final touches were being made on the new house. He was still working but mostly in an advisory position. He had fallen off of a roof years ago and injured his back and was unable to do any of the heavy work. But his exuberant, hyper manner had never changed and everyone loved it when “Uncle Ty” came around, which he had done frequently over the years when he would visit Florida. Sammy and Ty had always been best buddies from the first time they met when Ty and his crew had come to install the first playground area. Over the years, between Ty and Sammy’s ideas, that play area had grown into a whole five acres with everything from tennis courts, basketball court, a baseball/softball field, a walking track and playground areas with equipment that was broken up into several fenced in sections divided by age groups.

Now Ty came to Sammy for plans for houses. Many people couldn’t afford an architect of Sammy’s caliber but Sammy always made himself available for family and friends. (No, It isn’t me just being prejudiced because he is my son. He really is that good.)

Over the years, they had bought plots of land that were close to their home as they became available. Now what had originally been about thirty acres was almost three hundred and not only included the large play area but also the music building which had been renovated and greatly enlarged years ago, an indoor gym for the children to play in if the weather was bad and it also included a media center with a large library and a movie theater that was built just like the state of the art movie theaters with stadium seating so there wouldn’t be any squabbles between the children about not being able to see the screen.

All of their buildings were built with the ever present concern of tropical weather such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Each building had safe places to go in the event of such a storm. Thankfully, although they had all had to use the rooms for a time during weather warnings and severe weather that had actually passed through their property, they had never suffered any major damage to any of their buildings.

“Hi Mama. You look very pretty today.”

“Thank you Jess. It's so exciting to see everyone. It's been much too long since so many of us have been together.”

“I know. It isn't easy for everyone to take a holiday at the same time. But when we let everyone know it was for your birthday, they immediately said they would be here no matter what, although unfortunately there are a few of the children that couldn't make it in the end. But they've sent their best wishes.”

Jessica, a retired school teacher, now spent most of her time here at the house helping out wherever she was needed. She had been married but had had no children and once Thomas had passed away, she had come home to be near her family.

“What about Christophe? I haven't seen him yet. Is he going to be able to be here at all this weekend?”

“He's really trying Mama. They are having some major weather difficulties, so getting a flight out is being a challenge. He said to tell you that he will be here, even if it is after the weekend.”

“Oh alright.” Lisa said wistfully as she thought of her youngest biological child.

After Jessica, there had been Stephanie two years later. To their relief, Stephanie had been born in the hospital with no complications. Then Lisa had not conceived another child for six years. When she found out that she was pregnant and then found out that she was carrying a boy, she had been overjoyed that she was going to give Seb another son. Seb had said that it didn't matter if it was a boy or girl but she could see his pride as he held his tiny son that morning in the hospital in Paris where they had decided they wanted this child to be born.

Christophe was to be their last biological child as they knew with Lisa's advancing age that there could be too many complications if she were to try to carry another baby.

Lisa couldn't believe that on his next birthday, her baby would be forty four years old. Where had the time gone?

Their baby had two passions in life, painting, which had taken him back to his birthplace quite a bit of the time and his profession that actually paid his bills which was traveling to countries and helping to get wells drilled for underdeveloped areas as well as going to places that had been through major disasters that had affected the water supply. He just couldn't stay still for very long which was why these two passions suited him so well. He wasn't tied to one place and could generally pick up and go at will. Sometimes Seb and Lisa had a hard time remembering where he was at any given time.

Lisa just hoped he managed to make it home safely once more. She longed to hold him in her arms again.

So many children had come into their lives, changing and adding to the dynamics and flavor of their family. After a breakdown in the foster care system forty years ago, Lisa had to rid herself of her determination not to take any temporary children. Too many children needed homes and not enough homes to take them. These foster children were treated just as any of the other children were and were greatly missed when they would be returned to their biological families or left for any other reason.

They had had few children leave because they couldn't adjust to living in a family. Some children had been damaged so badly that they just could not adjust.

Much to Seb's dismay, Lisa always took these situations as personal failures even though they were never the fault of anyone in their home.

There had been Jayden, the sixteen year old girl that had been through so much and just didn’t have the strength to give this or any other home a chance. Their home had been the twenty seventh in a long line of foster homes that she had been in since she was five years old. She had seen and been victim to every kind of abuse there was. When she came to them, she had already made her plans.

The night after she arrived, Jayden had taken a rope from the storage shed and hung herself from the balcony in the gym. The next months were some of the hardest that their family ever endured. Lisa had found her on her morning walk and was devastated, So much so that Seb and the rest of the family had been very worried about her for several months. Eventually, the pain lessened but the memory never completely went away. Lisa never walked out by the rear of the gym again without that vision appearing in her mind.

That event only served to make Lisa and Seb even more determined to do everything they could to help each child that came their way to know that they were loved and cared for from the second they came into their home whether they were permanent or not.

Most of the children took it upon themselves to initiate new arrivals and tell them that this was the end of the foster home merry go round if they would only give it a chance here. Having the children telling newcomers how happy they were here usually helped to lessen the fears of their new brothers and sisters more than what any adult could do. Too many adults had lied to them, either on purpose or just because they had had no control over what had happened. These failures, as Lisa called them, had thankfully been very few over the decades that the Jessie Daniels Home For Children had been in operation. Looking back at all of their children, the Izambards could be proud of the outcomes of each of them.

Not all of them had jobs that would make them rich, some were just now in simple jobs, raising their families. But they could now hold on to the happy memories of their childhoods after their placement here.

A comfy spot had been set up for Lisa and Seb as they celebrated. The weather was gorgeous. It was mid February and the cold snap of last week had given way to a very comfortable 75 degrees.

“Grammy, Grammy we're here.”

“Hello Sean, has your Grandma seen you yet?”

“No we just got here.”

“Well give me a big hug and then go see her. She has missed you very much.”

“Okay. Happy Birthday Grammy. I'll see you later.” he said after giving her a quick squeeze and then he headed for the house where he would find his Grandma.

Stephanie had only been married a short time before they realized that her husband had not been the man they thought him to be. He had left a very pregnant Stephanie alone to give birth to their daughter Elizabeth and had not even been man enough to tell her he wanted a divorce, but had sent her the divorce papers in the mail. He hadn't even been a part of Elizabeth's life. As a child, she had not missed not having a father because she had plenty of fatherly figures in her life to fill that gap. Elizabeth was married now to a wonderful man and five year old Sean was the light of their lives.

Stephanie however, had not remarried but had made it her life's work to take over the running of the group home. She had gotten all the necessary schooling while working there, learning all of the actual things that kept the home open and running in good order.

The yard was filling up. So many people had come to celebrate with her. Lisa smiled as she looked around, seeing Lauren talking with some of the other grown children who had lived in their home and were back for a visit. But it also gave her pause to think of those who would not be here today because they had moved on or were no longer with them on this earth.

Jim and Debbie still lived in the area but Jim had been ill this week, so they would not make it today. Until their retirement fifteen years ago, Jim and Debbie had been valuable assets to their home and had become great friends. Their four children, including Brianna, their last, had grown up amongst Seb and Lisa's own children and to this day were like their own children, loved beyond measure.

Her Aunt Jessie had of course never been far from her thoughts but there were so many more that had gone and left huge holes in her life and her heart.

Mary had been with them for the first fifteen years the home was in existence. Even when she could no longer do the day to day chores around the house and her position had been filled by a new cook and housekeeper, she had remained with them until her passing. Thankfully, like Aunt Jessie, Mary had gone quietly in her sleep, but she was missed so much by everyone when her cheery presence was no longer with them.

Mom and Dad were both gone too. Dad had had another heart attack in his late seventies, this time it quickly took his life. It had been a terrible adjustment for all of them to lose Grandpa Huggins. After his first heart attack, his whole life had changed when he retired. Spending precious time with Marie and helping to raise countless children had become his entire existence and he was happier than he'd ever been in his life. Mom had tried to adjust to life without the other half of her soul in the ten years that she lived after he'd gone but, never quite managed to lose the immense sadness that had overtaken her at his death. Shortly before her death, Mom had told Alex that she was glad that she would be with Dan again soon.

For Seb, his greatest loss had been when Maman had passed away. She had moved here and lived with them permanently when the traveling back and forth from Paris had gotten too much for her in her later years, much to the children's delight.

One day she had fallen and broken a hip. She had surgery to replace the hip but her heart wasn't strong enough and when she got an infection in the hospital after the surgery, she quietly slipped away.

Seb had been devastated. They had become so close in the years that she had been back in his life. All of the old hurts had been forgotten and they had shared so many good times together. Having her there as part of their lives and helping to raise their children had been such a joy for Seb.

Other's in Seb's family still popped in now and then for a visit including Adrienne and Donovan. They visited more now that he had fully retired and they were traveling the world, making stops to visit their two children and five grandchildren who were scattered around the world much like Seb and Lisa's family was.

The other great loss for them and the whole Il Divo family had been when Vicki had passed away after battling breast cancer for several years. For a time it seemed as if she had won the battle but it had come back, taking her life. Carlos had been inconsolable. In the twenty years since her passing, he had never gotten terribly serious with another woman. He did have an occasional girlfriend but they would quickly see that he was not letting any of them that close to him again. His life after Vicki's death had been all about his producing other artists and spending time with Carlito, Amelia and their youngest daughter Carmen as well as his now ten Grandchildren.

Lisa was hoping he would make it today. He promised to try if he could finish the project he was working on in time.

“Mama, I brought you some iced tea.”

Thank you Jeremy. Has Holly arrived yet?”

“No. but she will be here later after her shift ends at the hospital.”

“How are you doing? Are things going well?”

“Everything is great, Mama. Business is going well and Alicia and I are fantastic as always.” he said with a glint in his eyes that told Lisa how happy he was.

Jeremy had not become proficient in any one instrument and didn't have the greatest singing voice but, in his teens he had discovered that he loved and was good at the workings on the other side of music, the producing. Because of the tutoring from his Papa, his Uncles and Simon, Jeremy had become an internationally known producer in his own right, purely on his own accomplishments. The most important part for Lisa was that he was genuinely happy with his life.

Jeremy and his wife of twenty five years had never had children but they would come home and be right in the thick of things here with their resident children. He and Holly had become close with all of their other siblings but, the incredible bond between the two of them was still quite evident. Lisa knew that they spoke almost every day, no matter where Jeremy was in the world.

Holly had become a doctor, and a surgeon no less and while she could have taken positions all over the country, maybe even the world, she had chosen to stay close to home, working at several hospitals in Tampa.

Seb joined them and after a bit of catching up, Jeremy moved on to speak to others that were wandering around.

“Are you enjoying yourself?” Seb asked and took her hand as he sat in the lounge chair beside her.

“I am, immensely. It turned out to be such a lovely day too. Is Lauren alright?”

“She says she's fine. The weather is just right for her. The humidity is low and the temperature is perfect too.”

Because of the way Lauren entered the world and her illness shortly after, she had developed severe asthma and other respiratory problems. When she had become an adult, she had made a visit to Arizona and quickly found the conditions there were much better for her health and although it had been hard for her and everyone else when she made the decision to move there, she had become much healthier and was living a much easier and productive life there.

She had even become a personal trainer and had had some very affluent clients over the years and was still doing quite well for herself, working with older adults now to help them to learn how to stay active even in their later years as health issues arose. When she came to visit or they visited her, she always had some new information or exercise to show them.

“So where have you been hiding yourself for the last couple of hours?” Lisa asked Seb.

“Just checking on some details for this afternoon.” he said vaguely before he continued, filling in some of the blanks. “The caterers are setting up for the luncheon in the gym as planned and I spoke to Urs and Alex and they will be here soon along with David and Grace who arrived last night.”

“Oh fantastic. I wish we'd hear something from Carlos and Christophe too. It won't be the same without either of them.”

“Did I hear my name?” came Carlos' still booming voice.

“Carlos, you made it. I'm so happy.” Lisa said as she slowly stood to her feet and turned around. He had come up behind where she and Seb had been sitting. There standing next to him was Christophe, her baby.

“Look who I ran into at the airport..” Carlos said with his arm around Christophe's shoulder.

“Christophe!” she said and crushed him to her.

“Hi Mama. Happy Birthday.” He said sounding a little short of breath as the life was being squeezed out of him.

“Lisa, you're suffocating our son.” Seb chuckled.

“Oh, I'm sorry.” She said sheepishly as she let him go.

“It's alright Mama. I missed you too.” he said as he gave her another hug then hugged his Papa.

Within seconds, they were descended upon by quite a few of the family when they saw that Carlos and Christophe had arrived.

Lisa sat back and just enjoyed listening as Christophe told everyone of his latest travels and adventures.
She could see the admiration and envy from some of the adolescent children and could imagine that they were hoping to have the same exciting life one day that Christophe had.

As she looked at him, Lisa could almost imagine that she was looking at Sebastien forty years ago. Christophe had had dark hair as a child, otherwise he had always looked so much like the photos of Seb that she still had in the old photo album that his Aunt Cecile had made for her as a wedding gift.

An SUV pulled into the driveway and spilled out it's passengers. Alex was assisted out of the vehicle by Urs as David was on the opposite side helping Grace out. Lisa and Seb met them in the center of the yard and they hugged their friends, so glad that they were all well and able to be here today. At their age, there were no guarantees.

“Are Aaron and Brittany and their families coming?” Lisa asked Alex.

“Not Brittany. She and Darren have had the flu. She sends her regrets and says she'll come for a visit as soon as they're both well. Both Kara and Kim are going to be here later.” she said of her twin Granddaughters.

“That's too bad. I hope they're better soon. I'll miss them.” Lisa said of Urs and Alex's daughter who was five years younger than her brother Aaron. Brittany and her husband only lived in Tampa so at least they would see them soon.

“Me too. Aaron is on his way with Leanne. Neither of the boys could come this time.” Alex said, obviously disappointed that she would not get to see her two grandsons who were now both in college in other states and starting to live their own lives.

Aaron had married well to a lovely woman who had fit perfectly into their family. Leanne was just as spirited as Alex had always been and she and her Mother in Law had always gotten along great, often making Urs and Aaron head off to find something to do when their wives had gotten something crazy into their heads.

Aaron still had to do physical therapy exercises to keep his back and leg muscles in the best condition and they knew that he stayed in contact with Lauren who often helped him with ideas for great exercises. He walked with the slightest of limps most of the time unless he was very tired, then it became more prominent. But he hadn't needed any crutches and that in itself was a huge victory.

David bent down and kissed Lisa's cheek and wished her a happy birthday.

“Thank you David. I'm so happy that so many made it today. What about your girls? Will any of them be able to make it?”

“I'm sorry, no. They are all in the middle of different engagements right now and couldn't get the time off.”

All of Grace and David's four girls had followed in their parents footsteps and had been scattered around the world involved in various musicals and Operas. Their oldest Mimi, was in Sydney right now along with Deborah, one of Seb and Lisa's many foster children who had taken advantage of their fortunate placement with the Izambards and made a good life for themselves.

Along with her sisters Theresa, Gina and Roxanne, when Mimi wasn't actually working, the four of them would get together and collaborate writing music or scripts for a production.

“May I have your attention?” Sammy's voice could be heard over a loud speaker. “Please make your way into the gym where the luncheon will be served.

As they all entered the gym, Lisa could see that a great deal of work had been done to transform the room into a beautiful scene. Round tables were strategically placed and right in the middle of the room was the table of honor where Lisa and Seb sat along with Urs and Alex, David and Grace and Carlos. The tables were covered with white linen tablecloths and in the center of each table were beautiful vases, each filled with some of Lisa's favorite flowers, some of which Lisa knew had been hard to come by at this time of year.

Accommodations had been made for all of the children in residence, right down to the newest arrival, a two year old girl who reminded Lisa so much of Kayti when she was small. Their current house staff and the older children scattered throughout the room, seating themselves where they could help with the younger children that needed supervision.

Unlike the buffets they usually did, Seb insisted that he wanted to have a sit down meal where they were served so Lisa could sit and enjoy the meal and the company.

Waiters and waitresses came out and served them plates of salad to begin with. Baskets of warm yeast rolls and butter were placed in the center of each table. The next course was a lovely French onion soup that Seb had requested. It was followed by the main course of Fillet Mignon and lobster tails, with a Lasagna dish for those who preferred it. The sound of conversation ebbed and flowed throughout the meal and when they were finished with the main course, people wandered around speaking to each other as they waited for the plates to be taken up and the dessert to be brought out. When it was, Lisa was ushered to the front of the room where the large birthday cake had been wheeled out, ready to be cut after they sang Happy Birthday.

Seb stood next to her, smiling into her eyes.

“Happy Birthday Ma Cherie. I love you so very much and I hope you've enjoyed your birthday today.”

”I have. It has been so special to have so many loved ones close to me today.” She said as she looked around the room into their faces.

Jeremy stood and looked at all of the faces of the children young and old that had lived here and had been thoroughly loved. He was usually still fairly quiet but he felt compelled to stand.

When Seb saw that Jeremy wanted to say something he walked over and handed him the microphone he'd been using.

“Thank you, Papa....... Mama, We all want to wish you a very happy birthday. I would like for all of the children who have lived here to stand up, whether you lived here for a few days or for years.

Around the room, chairs scraped the floor as they were pushed back and men and women, boys and girls stood to their feet. Even the youngest were up, even if it meant they were being held in someone's arms.

Lisa scanned the room and met the eyes of her children, Sammy, Kayti, Lauren, Jeremy, Holly who had arrived during dinner, Jessica, Stephanie, and Christophe as well as a few dozen others who had come that had lived with them scattered through the years to be a part of their ever changing family. When as one, her children all began singing happy birthday to her, she had a sneaking suspicion that this had been planned and rehearsed, although she knew it couldn't have been as they had all arrived at different times throughout the day. It made her cry as she listened to their voices raised in song to honor her. Then one by one, beginning with Jeremy, the children had filed past her, giving her a hug and a kiss on her wet cheeks.

Lisa noticed that Seb was also a bit teary eyed as he watched.

Once everyone including Lisa and Seb had returned to their seats, one of the waiters cut the cake and the other servers passed the slices out to those who wanted to indulge. When they finished and the catering company had efficiently removed all signs that a meal had been served here, four men stood at the front of the room and with no microphone's needed, they began to sing.

“Mama, thank you for who I am. Thanks for all the things I'm not........

As always, Lisa got chills when she heard them sing together. They sang several songs, much to the enjoyment of their audience, ending with Amazing Grace, one of Lisa's favorites.

Seb slid into bed beside her later that evening. All was quiet in the house even though several of their older children were remaining for the weekend to visit.

After she had laid her head on Seb's shoulder as she did each night, Lisa felt the smile on his face and she looked up at him.

“What are you smiling at?”

“I love that little contented sigh you make as we get settled together in bed. You've done it every night since the first night we slept together, before we were even married. It makes me feel good to know that you still enjoy cuddling up with me.”

I'll always love lying next to you. You have made me feel safe and loved for over fifty years now and I'm looking forward to many more.”

Seb chuckled at the thought. Who knew, he was pretty healthy for an eighty seven year old man. Maybe they did have another decade or more together on this earth. But he knew without a doubt that they would be together for eternity. He leaned down and kissed her lips, pressing tighter to her as their passion grew.

When Lisa felt the rise and fall of Seb's chest change, she knew he was fast asleep and as tired as she was after the long day of visiting with so many friends and family, she wanted to stay awake for just a few minutes longer as she often did and enjoy this feeling of being held in Seb's arms. She couldn't have told you when she fell asleep but, when she did, it was with the most contented and peaceful smile on her face.


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