The Bright Side of Midnight

an excerpt

Gabe and their sweet babies make up Matteo's whole world. If he was a twelve-year-old girl, he'd be scribbling his and Gabe's names in hot pink hearts all over his notebook.

He really loves Gabe and he absolutely adores his sweet babies and though he had never imagined having the perfect family or any family for that matter, he can't fathom what he'd do without them now. Unfortunately, he had also never imagined that having a family would turn his easy-going partner into a baby-paranoid, shopping-obsessed lunatic.

To be fair, Matteo knew all about Gabe's obsessive-compulsive behaviors before they decided to have kids-the clean freak Gabe, the no-starch-or-maybe-just-a-tad Gabe, the did-you-take-your-shoes-off-and-check-the-bottom-of-your-socks Gabe. Matteo knew and loved them all, even the change-the-sheets-right-after-we-have-sex-no-matter-whether-it-was-fuck-o'clock-in-the-morning-or-not Gabe, but Papa-Gabe takes all those quirky and manageable other Gabes and crazily wipes the floor with them.

Matteo is the first to admit his heart melts at just how much Gabe adores Dominik and Megan, which he really, really does. Gabe's baby worship was obvious from the first moment he held Megan and she proceeded to wail until her face was the color of a strawberry fresh from the plant. And he still looked on her as the most beautiful baby girl in the whole world. It was obvious from the first time he changed Niki and received a little newborn golden shower-despite Matteo's warning-and still laughed.

So, yeah, Matteo is fully aware of how much Gabe loves him and their twins but if Gabe doesn't stop his over-indulgent, paranoid behavior, Matteo doesn't know what he'll do. Some days fleeing for Canada seems like the best option while other days the Witness Protection program sounds very, very good. He'd be doing it for the twins, of course, since Dominik, Niki, and Megan, Sweetpea, still have a chance of being normal, functioning, non-batshit-crazy children. But Gabe... Gabe seemed to be teetering precariously close to the deep end of the pool where the bottom suddenly falls out and drowning is the only option.

* * *

Things were semi-normal at first with Papa-Gabe and Daddy-Matteo over-the-moon excited and blissfully happy to take their babies home. That wasn't to say they weren't nervous or worried but they did manage to blunder their way through the everyday care and attention the twins demanded. They dragged their asses to bed exhausted every night-at least for a few hours at a time or sometimes they just stood by the cradle, arms wrapped around one another as they gazed at the two sleeping bundles. There was no doubt they'd fallen head-over-heels in love with their tiny, adorable eating/sleeping/pooping machines. There couldn't have been two happier fathers on Earth.

All the necessities had been ready before Dominik and Megan had made their appearance or as Matteo preferred to say-everything had been over-ready. Gabe had gone stupid crazy on baby furniture and toys and clothes and supplies weeks before Mira's actual due date. And the madness hadn't stopped or even slowed down once the twins arrived. It was a rare week if at least one big ass delivery didn't appear at their door.

Niki and Megan each had a specially-ordered, handcrafted cradle along with a specially ordered, handmade crib, a double change table, a rocker swing, two diaper bags-one a backpack style and the other more of a duffle-and a wardrobe full of toys and clothes from newborn to five years old. They had more clothes than Matteo could imagine any child or boatful of children needing and though it wasn't that he was jealous-okay, maybe a little-it was just too much. They'd upgraded their condo to a bigger one a month after Dominik and Megan had arrived just to have space for everything Gabe thought the babies needed-not an easy task with two newborns.

Matteo readily admitted the move hadn't been all that bad since the new condo was simply down the block and it did have more room for the four of them to grow, plus more yard space. Or at least it seemed they had more space until Gabe continued adding to what they already had, including two separate swing sets, and a set of thick, plastic climbing cubes. Then there was the time Gabe dragged home the winner of all winners-a full size Shetland pony or at least a stuffed one coated with a special sealant for all weather conditions that looked and felt disturbingly life-like.

"Hey, Gabe?" After several small confrontations about Gabe's purchases, Matteo knew he had to be both encouraging and firm when it came to the things Gabe lovingly bought for their children-despite them only being one month old. He softened his voice and brushed his hand over Gabe's thick bicep. "Sweetheart, do you think a life-size pony in the yard is really a good idea?"

Gabe's eyes clouded over momentarily before his head dropped to his chest and one hand came up to smack his forehead. "Dammit, I knew I should have bought two." Matteo tried to control the shock of disbelief that jolted through him but he was pretty sure he failed when his face tightened and his mouth dropped open. "You think I should go back and get another one, right? Maybe one that has a pink ribbon on it for Megan since this one is definitely more masculine looking."

"No, I definitely do not." Breathe, Matteo. Just breathe. Go to your happy, sane place. That's it-just breathe. He closed his eyes, rewording the spinning words in his head before letting them slip out. "I guess I'm just not sure why we need a fake horse in the yard..."

Gabe snorted and smiled the way he did when he thought he'd pulled one over on Matteo. It was cute but not nearly as cute as it usually was. Not even when Gabe pulled him into his arms and blew a raspberry on his neck. "You know I'm allergic to horse hair so the twins will never have a real one, especially in the city."

Matteo flinched away from the slobber, although he really-secretly-liked it. "I don't think anyone has a real one in the city, Gabe. Are you trying to drive me crazy?"