Adding Up to Love
Author: Sean Michael
Word Count: 51300
Page Count (pdf): 200
Series: The Teddy Bear Club, Book 3
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Date Published: August 25, 2020
Publisher: Sean Michael
Heat Rating: 2
File Types available: mpvbi, epub and pdf
Title moved to Kindle Unlimited
Xander has only been coming to the Teddy Bear Club meetings at the Roasty Bean for about six months, ever since his surrogate became pregnant. Now the birth of his twins is imminent and he’s feeling totally unprepared.
Owner of the Bean and father of twin girls, Zack offers to help Xander round out his shopping list. Their efforts are interrupted though, by a call informing Xander that his daughters are coming right now.
Once the babies are born, Xander leans on Zack for support, knowledge and comfort. That’s just fine with Zack who loves babies, and maybe Xander too.
Can two dads and two sets of twin girls add up to a happy ending for everyone? Find out in this latest installment of The Teddy Bear Club.
“I do—thank you. It means so much to me that you’re willing to help me out to this extent. The rest of you have been friends so much longer—I’m just the new guy.”
“Not that new—you’ve been coming long enough that you’re a regular now.”
Xander got out and actually came around to open his door for him, then held out his hand. “It’s a bit of a climb to get out of those bucket seats.”
“Thank you.” He took Xander’s hand, the man tugging him out. He added his strength, and it was too much, both of them crashing together.
It felt like getting hit by a bolt of lightning, and for a moment, they stayed like that, holding hands, chest against chest, staring at each other.
“H-hey. Sorry. I’m sorry.”
“No, it was probably my fault. I—” Xander cleared his throat and took a step back, finally dropping Zack’s hand. He cleared his throat a few more times. “You wanna come in and see what I’ve got so far?”
“I do.” Right. He was here to be the expert, the old man. That thought subdued him, because he wasn’t old. He wasn’t even thirty-six. Still, in so many ways, he was the old guy.
“So I haven’t done a whole lot of renovating on the place as a whole, so please don’t feel shy about making comments—you won’t hurt my feelings. And I haven’t done any childproofing yet—I figure I still have a few months for that, right?” Xander’s laughter was only a tinge stressed.
The porch was even nicer once they were on it, feeling far away from the street and hidden by lilac bushes. The door was open when they got there. “It opens automatically when I get home—there’s an app on my phone. So I won’t have to worry about putting the babies down to unlock whenever I get home with them.”
“Oh, that’s amazing. I love this. It’s amazing. Do you garden much?” Or did he? It would be a few years before that happened.
“No, but I’m good at hiring people who do.” Xander chuckled. “I also think it might be fun to plant a vegetable garden with the kids when they’re old enough, you know? I’ve made my fortune so that I can be at home with them, and I want to give them all the things, do all the things with them.”
“That’s amazing. Good for you. Being a dad is amazing. Amazing.” He was actually a little jealous that Xander was at the beginning of his journey.
“I hope so. I just need to get past these nerves. I figure once I have them in my arms, everything will either fall into place or I’ll faint.” Xander gave him a wink and ushered him in to a large hall that opened up on the right to a huge front room that had bay windows. It was sparsely furnished, but the bones were good.
There was a fireplace, a stone hearth, all behind a grate. Good deal.
“The kitchen is totally newly renovated, but it’s upstairs that I want you to see.”
The stairs in question had a great bannister that Zack himself wanted to slide down; he could just imagine how much fun they’d be to the kids who lived here.
“Lead on, MacDuff.” There was a warmth here that Zack could already feel.
“My room is here.” Xander pointed at one door. “And the kids are right across the way. I wanted them close.” He opened the door to reveal a room painted like it was outdoors. The ceiling and upper walls were light blue with clouds. There was grass and trees, flowers and birds, rabbits, a little fox. It was stunning.
“That’s gorgeous. Seriously. They’re going to be so happy here.” The crib was good sized, and there was a rocking chair, a changing table, and a little dresser. He was going to need another one of those.
“Yeah? I hope so. I found this artist and I told them what I wanted, and I think they did a good job. So is the crib going to be big enough? What else do I need that’s missing? I totally don’t have any clothes yet. Someone said something about onesies?” Xander gave him a look that clearly said, “I have no idea.”
“Onesies are magical. Onesies, slings, swings, blankets and burp cloths, changing pads—two of them, for sure.” He grinned and shook his head. “Furniture-wise, I’d grab another dresser—you’ll need it—and another chair for when people come to help. Do you have a diaper pail?”
“I’ve got one better than a diaper pail—it’s a Diaper Genie.” Xander grinned and grabbed his phone, started making a list. “This is great info. Oh, a bag to carry everything when we go somewhere—we’re not going to go anywhere, but just in case—do I need two of those or just one big one? What makes more sense?”
“I liked one big. Logan goes with three for his triplets. It’s personal preference.”
“Hrmm. I guess we’ll take a look at what’s out there and I’ll make a choice then? Hell, I could buy a big one and two smaller ones and find out which I like better.” Xander looked through his list. “Oh, formula. I bought one of those bottle warmer things, so I can make it and keep it warm, but I haven’t got the actual formula yet. I’m hoping to have everything together so I don’t actually have to get anything else for the first couple weeks after they’re born. I’m still thinking maybe I was crazy to think I could really do this on my own. Thank you so much for your help. Just you being here is keeping me from having a total panic attack.”
“We’ll help you out, man. We’ve all been there.” He guessed he would be the one that did most of the helping—he was the only one without little little ones. “Especially if you don’t mind having kids around. Mine are with me if they’re not at school or camp.”
“Well, I’d say I’m going to be in trouble if I don’t want to have kids around,” Xander noted. Then he touched Zack’s arm. “I like having you around too. I may need your help sometimes just as an excuse.”
“Me?” Zack’s cheeks heated, and he couldn’t stop his smile. “Thanks.”
“Yeah, you.” Xander’s gaze lingered, and his smile was soft, sweet.
“I—thanks.” His cheeks were on fire.
“I would really like to kiss you. Would that be wrong?”
“You do? Really?” How…fascinating.
“Yes, really. Almost since I first met you.” Xander blinked a few times, shook his head. “I’m sorry. You’re just being nice and I’m making a pass at you.”
“It’s a little amazing. No one’s made a pass at me in…years.”
Xander’s face lit up with a smile. “Ah, so you’re not saying no.”
“I’m not saying no.” He wasn’t sure he was saying yes, but he wasn’t saying no.
“Okay then. You want me to table the subject until after our shopping expedition, or should I pucker up?”
“Let’s shop and get to know each other a little more?” Babies before love affairs.
“You’re the expert here so I will follow your lead.” Xander looked around. “So anything else you think I should add to my list?”
“Do you have a music system? Some babies love music.” He grinned, shook his head. “Let’s go to the store, look around. We can talk about it all.”
“Sounds like a plan. And the whole house is wired for sound—Bluetooth enabled. Technology is a marvelous thing.” Xander looked up. “Google, turn on nursery lights to fifty percent.”
The lights came on.
“Oh…oh wow. I love your house, man. It’s—”
Xander’s phone began to ring.
“Oh, this is Anita. I have to take it.” Xander pressed answer. “Hi, Anita. You’re what? But you’re not due for another few days! Yeah… yeah… Okay, I’m on my way.” Xander ended the call and looked over at him, eyes wide. “She’s having the babies now.”
Fuck. Well, babies didn’t care about calendars and Xander had been looking at his phone at the Bean just in case. “Okay, let’s go. I’ll have one of the guys pick me up and we’ll go shopping for clothes.”
“You will?” Xander stared at him. “Are you real?”
He chuckled, hugged Xander tight. “Last time I checked. Let’s go.”
“I’m going to be a father.” Xander said it with wonder in his voice.
“You are. You want me to drive?” God, this was fun.
“You just want an excuse to get behind the wheel of the Mustang,” Xander suggested. Still, the man handed him the keys.
“You know it. Where am I going?”
“The General. Damn, I’m so excited I’m actually shaking.” Xander held out his hand, proving it.
Zack chuckled and nodded. “Remember, labor is a weird thing. It can take a while.”
Xander nodded. “Right. Hurry up and wait. I still want to get there as soon as safely possible.” They headed back out. “I don’t have any formula! How can I bring them home without formula? God, my list is huge.”
“Hey.” He kept his eyes on the road. “I’ll make sure you have the basics, okay? I swear. I’ll come up with you, make sure you have my number, and then we’ll make it happen.”
“Right. Okay.” Xander nodded a couple of times. “Okay. Okay. I’ve got this. Well, I’ve got the easy part. I just have to wait. You and Anita are the ones who really have this. Thank you. You have no idea how much I appreciate this.”
“I love babies. I wanted…lots.” He grinned and told himself he was being ridiculous. He had the best little girls in history.
“I have a feeling you’ll be welcome to spend time with mine any time you want.” Xander took a deep breath. “A friend turns into a really good friend with potential for more and new babies. It doesn’t get much better than this.”
“You’re going to have to start pondering names. Do you have any family you need to call?”
“My sister is in Australia. I’ll call her once they come. That’s it. There isn’t anyone else.” Xander didn’t seem bothered that he didn’t have more people. “Donna and I always said we’d both have tons of kids because we always wanted more siblings.”
“I’m an only, so I get it.” He had been in university when he met Steven. The strong man had made his head spin. “Does she have any children?”
“She and her husband have been trying since they got married eight years ago with no luck, but I have eleven nieces and nephews—they started out fostering and that quickly became adoption. They’ve got four sets of siblings because everyone just wants babies, you know? So they take the kids from the same families.”
“Good for her! That’s amazing. Seriously. Amazing.”
“She’s incredible.” Xander sounded so proud, and fond. “I hope to be half the parent she is.”
“I bet you’ll do fine. You want to love them. That’s the big part.” The rest was details.
“I don’t want to—I already do. Now I just need to meet them. I’m going to meet them really, really soon.”
They pulled up the main entrance to the General.
“Why don’t you just use the car,” Xander suggested. “Or at least take it back to my place. It’s not like I can bring the kids home in it and the parking here is outrageously expensive. Jesus, how am I going to get them home?” Xander shook his head. “Nope. Not going to worry about that right now. I’m just going to go meet them and worry later. Okay. Okay, I’ve got this. Registration’s in the glove compartment.”
“Let me give you my number, okay? So you can talk, so we can coordinate?” He could always call Logan to get Xander’s number, but that seemed a really roundabout way to do things. It was surprising that he didn’t already have Xander’s number, but he guessed there were several guys in the group who he only communicated with at the group. He was glad Xander was moving into the outside of the group friend circle.
“Oh, right.” Xander laughed, the sound only slightly stressed, and passed him his phone.
“Hey.” He took the bull by the horns, grabbed Xander’s hand, tugged him over, and kissed him, hard. “Good luck.”
Xander beamed at him. “There isn’t any other kind after that. I’ll let you know when my girls come.” Xander waved his phone and climbed out, moving to the doors like a man on a mission.
“Whew.” Okay. Put the Mustang back in the driveway, call Aiden, make a plan. He had this.
And if his thoughts kept creeping back to the feeling of Xander’s lips against his, nobody else had to know.