Mannies Incorporated

Slayde's got the best job on earth: he's a nanny to Army nurse and widow Mindy's three kids. He's been with the family since the oldest was born and is Uncle Slayde to all three children. When Mindy's deployed, things aren't easy, but he manages just fine. At least he does until Mindy's big brother Drake shows up unexpectedly, announcing he's there to help while Mindy is gone.

Drake is almost a stranger to the kids, hot as hell, especially in his motorcycling leathers, and straighter than straight. On top of that, Drake's not used to dealing with kids, or with things like gluten free, recycling and not eating fast food and soon has Slayde's tight routine in shambles.

Slayde thinks Drake is far more of a hindrance than a help, at least at the start, but he tries to get along for Mindy's sake and eventually, having Drake around is easier than not. But what's he supposed to do when the straight, sexy leather wearing ex-cop makes a pass at him one night? Maybe there's more to Drake than Slayde assumed.

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Uncle Slayde?”

Yes, Christian?” God, he had a headache.

The baby colored on the table.”

Well, good thing it washes, huh?” He ruffled Christian’s — not Chris, his name was not Chris, thank you very much — hair and headed into the kitchen. Maggie sat her booster seat coloring away while Jenny busily ate her blue crayon. It was a good thing they were non-toxic, too. “Out of your mouth, Jenny girl. Maggie, on the paper, not the table. Christian, do you want to color, too?”

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Coloring’s for girls.”

It is? Nonsense. Art is amazing. Your other options at the moment are reading at the table, clay, or practicing your writing. I need to clean up the kitchen and start lunch.”

Then they were all taking a nap so Slayde could sit for five minutes and go through all the mail, the bills. Good thing he loved Mindy and her kids, or he’d run screaming into the night.

A racket sounded outside. Maybe a motorcycle. After it stopped, there was a knock at the door.

Christian, can you please keep an eye on your sisters? I need to answer the door.”

Yes, Uncle Slayde.”

He went to the door, opening it to a stud in leather. “Can I help you?” Lick you all over? Direct you to Austin?

It’s Slayde, right?”

Yes, sir.” He held firm to the door. No way was he letting this guy in, no matter how hot the man was.

The guy put his hands on his hips. Shit, he was amazing. “Drake Baltimore. Mindy’s big brother. Are you going to let me in?”

Nope. Do you have any ID?” He’d never met Drake, somehow. The man tended to visit when he was on vacation.

Excuse me?”

ID. Identification. Driver’s license. Military ID. Something with your picture and your name and some way to prove you are you.” Slayde wouldn’t risk these babies.

The guy stared at him for a long moment before pulling out a wallet from his back pocket, opening it, and holding it up to his face. “Happy now?”

Well, no, but you’re Drake. How can I help you?”

You can let me in.” Drake was starting to growl now.

What’s wrong?” He backed up, frowning. “Mindy didn’t mention you were coming.”

I told her it would be okay, that I’d take care of everything. So I’m here to take care of the kids.” Drake stepped over the threshold, and Slayde noticed for the first time Drake had a bag over his shoulder. “So where’re the rugrats?”

Take care of the kids?” Oh, he didn’t think so. “They’re having art time and waiting for lunch. You are not disrupting them before naptime.” Who the fuck was this asshole?

I’m not going to…” Drake snorted and headed for the kitchen. “Hey, Christian! Come say hi to your Uncle Drake.”

The kids stared, all of them, then Jenny started to cry.

Great.” The kids all looked at Slayde, eyes wide. “You have company, how neat is that? Momma must have forgotten to email and remind us!” He was going to kill someone.

Christian? I know Jenny’s too little to remember me, but you and Maggie must.”

Do you remember your uncle? Momma’s brother? He came last summer and you went to San Antonio to see the dolphins?”

We had cotton candy and alligator on a stick?” For the first time since Slayde had answered the door, Drake looked disconcerted.

Christian came to him, took his hand, and Slayde knelt down. “He’s the one with the motorcycle.”

Oh…” Christian’s eyes lit up.

Your mom called me to let me know she was going away and I came as soon as I could.”

But why? And why didn’t she let Slayde know?

Drake stepped from foot to foot. “So uh. It’s lunch time, huh?”

It is.” Slayde sighed, went to Maggie, who looked stunned. “Peanut butter sandwich, Mags? Or spaghetti?”

We could go to McDonald’s. My treat.”

No. No, we can’t.” He shook his head, eyes wide. “Maggie is gluten-free, Uncle Drake, and Jenny is terrified of Ronald. Like hysterical.”

But I like McDonald’s!” Christian whined.

Gluten-free? What the hell is that?” Drake grinned at Christian. “I like McDonald’s too.”

Gluten-free. No wheat. No barley. No buns. No wheat-soaked French fries. No McDonald’s.” Oh, God. What was

the son of a bitch doing here?

Seriously?” Drake gave him a wide-eyed look. “What does that leave?”

Food.” He bit the word out. “Peanut butter and jelly, guys?”

Maggie nodded, Jenny threw a crayon, and Christian burst into tears.

COLLAPSE

Making it Work

Parker has been Manny to Grif and Blue’s kids ever since the twins were first born. Fourteen years later, he’s caring for five kids and Grif is now a widower. Everything is about to change again for Park and his charges, though, as Grif is marrying a man with three girls of his own and the new family is moving to a big house they’ve built just outside of Ottawa.

Rand has been with his family since fifteen-year-old Josie was little, and he now finds himself transplanted from Austin, Texas to Ottawa, Canada when his charges’ father, Mike, marries Grif. Coming to a new house in a new country with a new blended family, he’s determined to make sure that even though they’ve been uprooted, his girls still have everything they want and need.

What could go wrong?

Park and Rand’s styles as mannies couldn’t be more different, the kids all hate each other on sight, and the newlywed fathers are busy honeymooning. It seems pretty clear the whole situation is a recipe for disaster. Can everyone find their place in this brand new family, including both mannies? And will Park and Rand ever see eye to eye on anything? The answer surprises even them.

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Parker Bouchard guided the movers on where to put the last few boxes, shook their hands, handed over a check, and waved them off. Well, that was it. He had three boxes to finish unpacking in the kitchen, four or five—most of which were books—in the huge playroom just off the massive kitchen, and everything would be officially moved in.

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There were still two boxes in the master suite—he’d felt uneasy unpacking the new husband’s personal belongings in there. He was sure Mike wouldn’t have minded that much, but Park liked to keep a little personal space between himself and the parents. He’d always needed to with Grif and Blue, who’d had no concept of personal space. Sure, he was a member of the family, but he was only the kids’ nanny, not everyone’s. Everything else was unpacked, and if the kids wanted to move their stuff around in their rooms, they totally could.

Now he was rattling around in the biggest house ever built for the new blended family he was charged with. He’d always figured that Grif would find someone new after Blue had died, he just hadn’t expected they’d be adding three more kids to the family when he did. Three kids who came with a manny of their own.

The family was coming back from the crazy honeymoon they’d gone on, complete with all eight kids but without the mannies. It was great to get a break, but Park thought they were both a little insane for having done it. Still, as far as he knew, no one had been arrested and no one had died, and they’d be home in two days. The other nanny—Rand—was arriving today.

Eight kids. Park wasn’t intimidated, though. He’d been managing five on his own for years, hell, he’d been with Grif and Blue since the twins, London and Paris, were just three days old, the two ‘creative’ fathers absolutely out of their depth when it came to two squealing babies. Adding three girls to the mix wasn’t going to be easy, but he’d bet, in the end, they’d be madder about the move out of the city than having to suddenly deal with new family. At any rate, he ran a tight ship and knew he could assimilate the new girls. Not Von Trapp–tight or military school–tight, but the kids were not wild children.

Moving into the bright kitchen, he put new grounds in the filter and turned on the coffee machine. It was too bad there weren’t any cookies, but he wasn’t going to make them until tomorrow. They’d be fresher that way. He grabbed an apple instead.

The front door opened and he heard, “Good Lord, look at this place. It’s the size of a cruise ship!”

That had him chuckling, and he headed through the kitchen to the huge living room/front hall/great room/whatever that made up the front third of the main floor of the house to greet who had to be the other manny.

Hey there. I’m Parker Bouchard, but you can call me Park.”

He stopped, more than a little stunned. The kids had warned him that the Richards’ manny was a hippy, but he hadn’t thought they were serious. This guy wore two braids hanging to his waist on either side, a vest and a pair of baggy tie-dyed pants and rope sandals, and piercings in his lip, his ear, and in his nose. There was a guitar slung over one shoulder, a lean body covered in wildly colored tattoos, and a bright rainbow bag. “Rand. Rock on.”

Right. Dude.” Because a guy like Rand had to be a dude, didn’t he? Park shook himself mentally. Be nice. He’d met Mike and the girls, and the girls were well-behaved young ladies. “I was just making a cup of coffee, we could sit and have a drink and I’ll give you the loonie-tour afterwards.”

Works for me. I brought some kickass free-trade organic coffee from Austin, along with all the kids’ teas. I can’t wait to explore my grocery options.”

Grocery options? I put in an order once a month online, there’s a half a cow in the freezer, and we get a green goods box every week for fruit and veg. I’ll just increase the order.” They had to combine the family, right?

Yep. Penny is vegan. Josie is gluten free, and Carrie, at this point, only eats peanut butter and eggs.” The man put his guitar and bags down. “Lead on, MacDuff.”

Is Josie allergic to gluten or have celiac disease?” He didn’t hold with different food for different kids, but allergies had to be worked around. He was even willing to find vegan options for the Penny as long as she followed through on that mindset in the rest of her life, too. But the youngest was SOL as far as being catered to went. If you were hungry, you ate. He led the way to the kitchen.

She’s gluten-sensitive. It bothers her ADHD. No need to worry. I’ll cook for them. I have that down. I’m sure you heard about the horror when your brood visited. They couldn’t wait to get home to ‘real food’.” The last words came with air quotes.

I don’t see why we have to make four different meals just to feed the kids. They’ll all have to learn to compromise. And your youngest needs to learn she eats what’s on hand or she doesn’t eat. You can’t let her dictate you like that or it’s going to expand into more than just food.”

He grabbed an extra mug and poured them each a coffee.

Thanks for the input.” That didn’t sound even a bit like an agreement.

COLLAPSE

First Day of School

The men from And Manny Makes Seven are back along with Adam's five siblings.

It's the first day of school for the twins and Lizzie doesn't want to go. Hutch would love to let her stay home with him, but he knows it's his job to make sure she doesn't need him anymore and school is the first step.

Once the kids are gone, Adam teaches Hutch the hidden benefits to having the house to themselves!

Originally published as a stand alone and in Family Time Anthology by Torquere Press.

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And Manny Makes Seven

When Adam's parents died three years ago, he kept his five younger siblings together, playing parent as best a twenty-one year old could under the circumstances. Now his academic mentor Helena has passed away from cancer, and Adam doesn't know what to do. He's shocked, but grateful when a reading of the will determines that he's not only inherited her beloved shi tzus , but also the house, a generous trust for everyone's education, plus three million dollars, some of it earmarked for hiring a nanny.

Hutch has worked as a nanny since he was nineteen, when he took over the care of his neighbors children when both parents were killed in separate missions overseas. He's worked with several families since and feels confident he can handle five children aged four through seventeen.

Hutch's arrival is just what Adam needs and as Hutch begins to turn the big house from Helena's place into their home, Adam and his siblings begin to see Hutch as more than just the nanny.

Can a path of tragedy and sorrow turn the corner to happiness and love?

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A Family of His Own

Will’s a widower with three little girls, including six month old twins, to look after. Most days it’s all Will can do just to get home from his advertising job in time for goodnight kisses, but now his mother-in-law is leaving the country with her new boyfriend and Will needs the help of a professional nanny.

Benji loves being a nanny; looking after other people’s kids is the next best thing to having his own, and as a gay man, he figures it’s as close as he’s going to get. He’s between jobs and is thrilled when he gets the call from Mannies Incorporated to interview with Will's family.

He falls in love with the girls right away, but also finds himself attracted to their father. Benji knows he shouldn’t moon over his boss, especially when Will desperately really needs his services as a nanny, but he can’t help but wonder what it would be like to have a family of his own.

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