Chapter 1

We didn't hang out together. He was working on other things but showed up for the occasional rehearsal I asked of him. We never discussed money so I found a quiet corner.

"Did your wife take all of your money or are you doing OK?"

"Talk about role reversal, Charles ... I could use a regular paycheck, if that's what you're asking?" he said.

"Fine, how about $1,000 a week, is that alright?" I asked.

He wrapped his arms around me and said, "That would be fine. I knew that I could come to you Charles. I don't want to cramp your style," he said.

"We'll direct deposit for you. Give me a cancelled check for Caroline."

"Caroline ... I haven't met a Caroline yet?" he said.

"There is a reason for that. You were quite the wolf with Sarah and Annie. I don't want to give you a sheep right now!"

Chuckling, he handed me a check. I wrote void on it and tucked it away for Caroline.

We had our rehearsal. He's still singing the songs that made him famous. Nothing's wrong with that!

My son was wearing one of our new T-shirts during the rehearsal. Michael asked if he could get one. Rose handed him a big one and smiled at him.

"With her looking so much like Claire how do you concentrate to dance with her?"

"I just think of Claire most of the time," I answered truthfully.

"What willpower you must have?" he said.

"That's what Kalista is for. To take out my ... frustrations," I said.

After everything was done, I released them all and said good-bye to Michael.

I texted everyone that Kalista and I were leaving for a few hours. Rose came up to me and asked, "Can I go along with you?"

"Everything you see and hear must never be disclosed to anyone at all ... can you make that promise?" I asked.

"Ohh! It's serious, isn't it?" my daughter asked.

"Very!" I said.

We all went upstairs and changed and drove to the Forbes Norris MDA/ALS Research Center in San Francisco. Kalista and I explained what was happening and why? Rose looked on the verge of tears, but kept it together.

We walked in together and I spoke to the building receptionist. She called our contact Jonathan Katz, Co-director of the entire facility. We all walked back to his office.

"Please, sit down."

We did.

"First things first. I see nothing to confirm a positive diagnosis of the ALS strain. However, we have the facility to take a very good look at your wife's genetics.' Does this young lady need to be tested as well?"

"I would like that just to know—is that OK, Daddy?"

I smiled and said, "I don't mind at all. Go ahead doc test them both!"

"This is a relatively new injection they will be given. It's only been around for two years or so. Our clinic did the bulk of the heavy lifting on its development, so we can determine to an 93.54% that the results are conclusive."

He buzzed and a nurse came in with a large needle. He told her she needed another one. She came back quickly with an additional one.

"I normally don't do this in my office. Since you are celebrities it just makes sense."

"Roll up the sleeves of your non-dominant arm please?" the nurse requested. She went to Kalista first. Rose was looking nervous.

"That's an awfully big needle daddy," she said reaching for my hand.

"I'm right here, Rosie—don't worry!"

The nurse came between us and gave Rose her injection.

"Thank you," Dr. Katz said to the nurse. "Come back in two weeks, we will check to see if it latched on or not. Is March 1st OK with you?" he asked looking at his schedule.

"Of course," I said. "Are there any symptoms or side-effects to look for?" I asked with a wink.

"If the arm turns pink around the needle mark, call me!"

"What does that mean?" Rose asked nervously.

"That you don't have any residual or inherited ALS chromosomes to worry about."

"What does it mean if it doesn't turn pink?" Rose asked rubbing the spot on her arm.

"You will need to come back most certainly to get the results then," Dr. Katz said.

"Could I give you an endowment check for your facility?" I asked.

"Yes. We're always accepting donations," he replied.

Kalista gave me a check. I filled it out and handed it to him. He glanced at it, then had to look again before he said, "This is for $1,000,000 ... thank you very much. I've heard of your generosity, but I certainly didn't expect this," he said getting up and shaking everyone's hand.

"I told you not to worry so much," I said on our trip back to our Woodland hotel.

It was four days to Lily turning 14. We were trying to put together a surprise birthday party. Rose was in charge of it. I was the funding. We made a reservation for Ludy's Outback Patio. It's online BBQ menu left me with my mouth watering.

At the end of our four days off was the birthday and we all left in one car for dinner. We arrived at Ludy's, and everyone got out. K helped with the infants. Even Caroline and Annette were dressed really nice. I opened the door for everyone to enter. There were balloons and streamers everywhere. Lily broke out into a big smile. Michael gave her a kiss on the cheek.

He took her to the head of the table. I started,

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you,

(Everyone in the place joined in)

Happy Birthday dear Lily, Happy Birthday to you!

All the other patrons applauded as we all sat down. We got all-you-can-eat Pork Ribs, fries, Cole slaw, BBQ Cowboy beans and homemade cornbread.

It was a blast! After we all ate for a while, I got up and said a few words.

"Lilith Caroline McArthur, while the youngest of our dancers, still brings tons of joy to everyone who watches her dance. From her Tango with Michael to her "I Feel Pretty" solo dance ... Ken and Caroline got it right with this fabulous addition to our dance troupe. Michael, do you have anything to add to that?"

I hadn't told him that he needed to have any prepared statements. I sat, and he stood up.

"I'm having the time of my life with Lily. I get to dance with the young lady I love practically every single day."

He was overwhelmed so I started applause for him as he sat down. They kissed without hands, but it was a gnarly kiss nonetheless.

Without standing, I said, "We perform tomorrow, have fun, but be careful not to eat too much." I certainly had.

I got a kiss from both of my redheads. Caroline had her camera taking pictures when possible. K whispered to me, "Four boobs and a man?" causing the three of us to laugh for a while. X and Claire were having a blast as well. We got them a hamburger patty that Caroline cut up and fed them. I asked Kalista, "When is Caroline's birthday?" She answered, "April third."

That evening went late, but it was too much fun! We finally called it a night. I asked for a bill and was told Charles and his family will forever eat free at Ludy's. I did give a nice tip to our four servers who seemed to appear out of nowhere whenever we needed more ribs, fries or soft drinks. Gifts would be back at the hotel. I told Michael to let Lily know that. He had told me that she understood completely.

We were thanked by the manager who got a picture with my redheads and me!

Thankfully, I am not one of those guys who start farting after eating pork. My dad used to do it and thought he was being funny. You stayed away from his wake when he started to 'toot.' Even with all of these ladies, we went through a very large amount of pork ribs.

I told Michael that I wouldn't be at our workout in the morning. He smiled really wide and mentioned the same to me.

The gifts!

All of us got together in Caroline and Annette's room to give Lily her presents. Things started with her mother. She handed her a beautiful neck and matching earrings with amethyst of Deep Siberian grade. Rose helped her aunt find just the right thing. Lily got up from between Michael and Rose and gave her mother a tearful hug in return.

Annette handed her older sister a pretty box with a handmade ribbon on it. It was a bracelet with letters spelling out Lily on it. They hugged deeply.

Rosie was next. She handed her former rival a package. Lily opened it to find a wonderful assortment of makeup-related products. They reached over Michael and gave each other the first hug I can remember since Rosie stepped away from Michael.

"This is so cool," she said. "Will you help me the first few times? I've never worn much more than eyeliner and a little rouge. Now that I got Michael, I don't want him to get away!"

Kalista and I got her a set of ballet shoes in many different colors. Lily showed everyone and we all 'oohed and awed' over it.

Lastly, Michael reached into his pocket and asked Lily to turn towards him. He looked so nervous. He got down on one knee and said, "Lily McArthur, when you turn 16-years-old, will you marry me?"

What did I tell you, a chip off the old block?

He opened the Jared box and got out an Amethyst promise ring. Lily was crying ... Rose went over to support her. She whispered to her, "Answer him, he asked you a question, cousin."

"YES!" she screamed waking up Xavier in the process. Michael took the ring and put it on the appropriate finger. They hugged and kissed, just like K and I do. I doubt that Caroline had ever seen this amount of affection between the two of them before. She was handling it better than I thought she would.

"Thank you, thank you all for your presents," she said gathering everything up. She handed a few things to Michael, who gave me a look as they said goodnight to us all.

I picked up my little boy and his crying stopped immediately. Rosie came up to me and whispered, "After we're through this tour, I'd be happy to have your child, daddy!"

She took Xavier from me and held him close to her bosom. My god. She would be a marvelous mother.

Rosie winked at me and put X down.

The next night's performance was something of a letdown. Michael Bublé performed flawlessly, but every one of us fumbled something. After saying goodnight to him and getting our money, I called a meeting for when we got back to the hotel to pick up Caroline and her crew.

After we all assembled outside our vehicles, I said, "What happened tonight was unacceptable. Even I messed up!" That garnered a laugh.

"In the entire history of Charles & Claire that has never happened. I don't know if we all ate too much, or stayed up too late. It doesn't matter what it was. We are professional dancers and our public expects us to perform at our best. They might not have even noticed our mistakes, but I'm sure each and every one you know what I'm talking about. We have a twenty-minute drive to Davis. Think about the positives of tonight. Your solo tonight Rose was the only bright spot I saw."

Kalista added, "Our group routine to "Halleluiah" was also pretty nice. Let's roll!"

"That's my line!" I said.

We all laughed as we got into our twin vehicles and headed on out.

I guess my speech did something because everyone focused at our Davis performance. After that were Vacaville, Vallejo and Novato. Michael and I restarted up our morning workout. Kalista began visiting me instead of Rose. I made sure that Rosie wasn't tied up somewhere, which made Kallie laugh. Lily was never without her new ring on her hand.

We recharged on our four days off, and then headed off to San Rafael, Mill Valley, Sausalito, and San Francisco. Neither of my ladies ever got a pink marking around their injection site.

Rose, Kalista and I took a drive back to the Research Center.

After a brief discussion we all went into the lab together. He took a type of ultrasound, as he explained it. Then, he took a bit of blood to put on a slide under a micron microscope and declared them both free of any pre-ALS or any other type of chromosomal problems. Both ladies quickly hugged him and then they both hugged me as well.

We left, breathing a bit more comfortably than when we arrived. The ladies were arguing over who gets me first. Their solution was a threesome!

Chapter 2 »