A product of the foster care system, chef prodigy Noah Hudson has always dreamed of being a parent. As time goes by, Noah is becoming more and more convinced that his chance of being a father is not going to happen in this lifetime. Deciding to stop waiting for a Mr. Right who may never come along, Noah takes matters into his own hands and turns to surrogacy. However, after a cruel twist of fate, Noah suddenly finds himself responsible for twins and the only way to keep the babies from being separated is to marry his ex, wealthy engineer and philanthropist Liam Jackson. Still bitter from their break-up, Noah wants nothing to do with Liam – until the judge in the case makes him an offer that he can’t refuse.
“Ooh, who is that?” Quinton Smith asked Noah as they took a break from filming.
Noah looked toward the doorway. “That would be my fiancé, Liam Jackson.”
The gorgeous, six-foot tall blond cameraman’s mouth opened in surprise. “Your what?”
“My fiancé and the father of my three kids.”
Everyone around them seemed to be listening in on their conversation.
“What? When did all of this happen?” Quinton asked.
“Yesterday,” Noah answered. “Isn’t he sexy?”
“Umhmm,” Quinton replied. “What exactly happened when you went to court to check on your baby?”
He and Quinton had been friends since elementary school and had worked together for the last five years while Noah built his career and his brand. “He and I knew each other when we were college and I was trying to find myself. He was also in court yesterday.”
“Leave it to you to go to court about a baby and you find a man.”
“Let me introduce you,” Noah said escorting Quinton over to Liam. “Liam Jackson, this is my best friend and cameraman, Quinton Smith. Quinton, this is my fiancé, Liam. He’s an engineer.” Both guys were way taller than him. Quinton was also gay, but a queen like him.
The two guys in his life shook hands. “Excuse me for being shocked, but why haven’t I heard of you before?” Quinton asked Liam.
“I fell asleep on him on our first date many years ago,” Liam explained. “We ran into each other yesterday. Things happened fast and before either of us knew it we were engaged.”
“Excuse me for being nosey, but how many years has it been since the two of you seen each other and why did you fall asleep on him?” Quinton asked.
“Quinton is very protective of me,” Noah explained.
“We met on my twenty-first birthday, so that would have made him about nineteen. My best friend introduced us. But I got a bit drunk and when I woke up, I didn’t remember anything about the night before until I saw him in court yesterday.”
“So, you see each other in a courtroom, you fall deeply in love, Liam proposes and you accept, because you’re desperate and haven’t been on a date in years,” Quinton said.
Noah punched him playfully on the arm. “No.”
“How did you bore someone this fine that he fell asleep?”
Noah hit him on the arm again. “I did not bore him. Didn’t he just say he had too much to drink? He fell asleep.”
“And you didn’t wake him?” Quinton asked.
“What the hell is wrong with you? He could have smothered.”
“I like him,” Liam said to Noah. He turned to Quinton. “Would you like to join us for lunch?”
“Yes,” Quinton answered before Noah could stop him.
“We’re just going to grab a bite to eat at my restaurant and then we’re going to look for rings.”
“Count me in,” Quinton said. “I got to make sure this guy is right for you. If not, you’ll just get depressed and drown your sorrows in ice cream and chocolate.”
Liam chuckled at Quinton. “He has a restaurant?”
Quinton looked at Noah. “How well do you know this guy?”
“Well enough to know that he isn’t after my money and what you see is what you get.” He and Quinton went back to filming. Afterward, Noah changed into a suit while Quinton put his equipment away and stored it in the cabinet. Liam escorted both of them out of the restaurant to his car. Noah got into the passenger seat and Quinton got in the spacious back seat. Noah gave Liam directions to the restaurant in Manhattan.
“My office is not too far from here. Why didn’t you tell me you owned a five-star restaurant?” Liam asked.
“Would it have made a difference?”
“See, Quinton. He’s not after my money.”
Liam parked and the three of them got out and went into the employee entrance of the restaurant. It was very busy. Noah tried to introduce Liam. Everyone already knew Quinton. Afterward Noah took both of them to his private booth.
A waiter came to dress the table and to pass out menus. “Good afternoon Chef Hudson,” he said.
“Good afternoon, Lance. How are you today?”
“Fine, sir, and you?”
“I’m fine today too. You remember my photographer, Quinton, and this is my fiancé Liam Jackson.”
The waiter’s glance moved from Quinton to Liam. “Fiancé?”
“They’re engaged,” Quinton said.
Noah was quite aware that Lance had this thing for Quinton, but now it appeared he was much more interested in finding out about Liam. “He proposed yesterday and I accepted,” Noah explained. “If you’re not busy Saturday after next and want to earn some extra money, I’ll need help catering the reception.”
“I won’t be busy,” Lance said, putting his attention back on Quinton. “Will he be there?”
“But of course,” Quinton answered.
“I’ll be there,” Lance answered. “Just give me the place and the time.” He left, then came back with ice water and menus. All three of them ordered the lasagna meal.
A female sommelier named Meg appeared. “Will you be needing wine, Chef Hudson?”
“Not this time,” Noah answered. “Bring us three sparking cranberry drinks,” Noah told her. Both she and Lance left.
“You two don’t have to avoid alcohol just because I’m on the mend,” Liam told them.
“We don’t drink alcohol either,” Noah said. “That way, no one can take advantage of us.”
“Ah,” Liam said like he understood.
The sommelier returned with the drinks. Liam sampled his. “I like it. It tastes like cranberry juice and Seven-Up.”
“It is,” Noah said. “A lot of our guests like it. I plan to serve something like this at our reception.”
Lance returned with their salads, a big basket or homemade dinner rolls and several saucers of sweet butter.
Quinton got the conversation rolling. “So how is this supposed to work between you two? Are you two really engaged?”
“Yes,” Noah answered.
“You told Lance to be ready for Saturday after next. That’s just two weeks away. Do you realize how much stuff needs to be done before then?”
“It’s just going to be a simple wedding before a judge. You’re going to be my witness and my photographer, so wear a suit. The reception will follow at a reception hall in Chelsea for just a few close friends of ours. I’ll do all of the catering, including the cake.”
Liam stopped eating long enough to stare at him. “You’ve thought this all out?”
Noah nodded. “I couldn’t sleep last night. If you disagree with any of this, just let me know.”
“No, I’m okay with everything,” Liam said.
Quinton got back into the conversation. “Can you guys go back a bit? What’s the rush?”
“Our sons are in custody of the state,” Noah explained. “The sooner we marry the sooner we can gain custody of them.”
“You said our and them. How many kids are we talking about?” Quinton asked.
“Three,” both he and Liam answered.
“The surrogate had twins,” Noah explained. “One is biologically mine and the other is biologically Liam’s.”
“How does a third one fit into this picture?” Quinton asked.
“The surrogate had a three-year old son named Daniel,” Noah answered.
“So why do you have to take him. Is the mother unfit to keep him?”
“She died,” Liam explained. “She was in a car wreck. The doctors managed to save Elgin and Elijah, but not her.”
Quinton stopped eating. “Is that their names?”
Both he and Liam nodded.
“Tell me more. What color is their hair and eyes?”
“They’re both bald at a moment, but I think they both have brown eyes.”
“I can’t wait to see them and take their first pictures,” Quinton said, going back to his food. He paused. “Where are you guys going to live? Noah’s condo is nice, but it’s not big enough for four extra people.”
“I have a place in Brooklyn,” Liam said. “I was going to take him to see it after lunch and after we go pick out rings. You can go with us if you want to.”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Quinton said.
“Why are you being so nice to my friend?” Noah asked Liam.
“Because he’s your friend and someone very important in your life, Noah.”
“Does your place have a big yard?” Quinton asked. “Boys need a lot of run around room.”
“Does it come with a nanny?”
“No,” Liam answered. “Do we need one?”
“Heck, yeah. You’re talking about two infants and a toddler. Both you and Noah work. Most of the filming can take place at home or at the studio, but he has to put in some face time with his restaurant. How is he going to do that with three kids in tow?”
“I never thought of that,” Noah said.
“That is why you have friends, darling,” Liam said. He took a pad and pen out of his inside jacket pocket. “Find a nanny,” he said aloud as he wrote.
“Maybe you can put them in a day nursery until you find one,” Quinton said. “I know you want to do it all yourself, but babies and toddlers need a lot of attention.”
Noah looked at Liam. “I don’t want our kids to go to a nursery.”
“Me either,” Liam said. “We’ll find someone.”
After lunch, the three of them hopped back into Liam’s car and went to the jewelry store, where they picked out wedding bands. Liam wanted to buy him an engagement right with a stone big enough to choke horse, but Noah assured him it wouldn’t be necessary. Then they took a ride to Brooklyn to see the house.
“Oh my god, look at that yard,” Quinton said as they rolled through the opened gates. “Do you live here by yourself?”
“Yes,” Liam answered. “I saw it advertised on line and couldn’t resist coming to see it. It’s only partially furnished, because I’ve been so busy. But I’m sure Noah wouldn’t mind helping me decorate it.” He parked and the three of them got out.
It had one of those wrap-around porches, where he and Liam couldn’t sit and watch Daniel run around and play.
Liam opened the door and they stepped into the foyer. Liam removed his shoes, and he and Quinton did the same. “I did a couple of years in the military and fell in love with Asian customs,” Liam explained.
Noah checked out the floors. They sparkled. He wouldn’t be afraid to let the babies crawl around on them.
Liam took them on a tour of the eight-bedroom, nine-bathroom mansion. The place had two offices, an entertainment room, and Noah’s dream kitchen.
“Of course, it needs a little tweaking, like industrial appliances, but I can work in here,” Noah said.
Quinton agreed. “This room is huge. It even has enough room for me to position the camera from different angles when we shoot here.”
There was also a man cave for Liam to escape to and last but not least, a formal parlor and two dining rooms.
“I can just picture a big Christmas tree here, all decorated with presents for the boys.”
“I often dreamed of that as a kid, but it never happened,” Liam said sadly.
“Liam grew up in foster care like I did,” Noah explained to Quinton. “We have more in common than you think. I can’t wait to buy a tree and start decorating.”
“We only have a couple of months before Santa arrives,” Liam said “But first we have a wedding and a reception to get through. And of course, we need to buy furniture for the boys. And a room for the nanny and of course, one for Uncle Quinton.”
“He’s a keeper,” Quinton said to Noah.
The next day he and Liam shopped for furniture, cribs and appliances and Noah insisted on paying his fair share of it, even though Liam didn’t want him to. “It’s a partnership,” Noah explained. Two weeks later they met once again at the courthouse.