The Baumgartner series continues, this time exploring Janieâ€™s world as she moves to New York to try to make it as a writer, all the while serving as part-time lover in a polyamorous relationship with Veronica and TJ and full-time nanny to their daughter, Beth. Janieâ€™s life is already incredibly full when sheâ€”literallyâ€”runs into an agent one morning who sees great potential in herâ€”and not just as a writer. As Janieâ€™s relationship with Josh blooms and her career takes off, Ronnieâ€™s happy surprise turns into a problem that even a vacation in a mountain cabin with the Baumgartners canâ€™t fix, throwing everyoneâ€™s life off-kilter. Janie, especially, is spread thin, trying to please everyone while keeping Josh from finding out the true nature of her relationship with her benefactors. She knows she has to tell him eventually, but fear holds her back. Will she lose him? Will she be forced to make an impossible choice? Or will she, perhaps, find that the capacity for the human heart to love is, indeed, endless?
Warnings: This title contains graphic language, sex, and menage.
Word Count: 51,125
I think I was almost two years old when my brother Henry came along. I admit, I donâ€™t remember looking forward to having a sibling. I was pretty mad about the whole thing. My mother still tells people about the time I used an entire bottle of Elmerâ€™s glue to try and seal the babyâ€™s room door shutâ€”and he hadnâ€™t even arrived yet. Besides, he was getting my old room, the one with the fun window you could crank open on hot days, and what good was that going to be for a baby, anyway?
It didnâ€™t matter that I had brand new wallpaper in my new room with ladybugs that were as soft as velvet to the touchâ€”the room that used to be Daddyâ€™s office with the big oak deskâ€”or that my mother had taken me shopping to find the perfect ladybug bedspread to match. It didnâ€™t matter that I had a new big-girl bed with a tall canopy and wispy white curtains that billowed in the breeze from the open window like sails.
It didnâ€™t matter, because I was sure, once that baby came, no one would love me anymore.
It was after the Elmerâ€™s glue incident, after my Daddy had threatened to paddle me within an inch of my lifeâ€”he never did, he never touched either of us in anger that way, but he would say it sometimes and it was the one time I really believed he might actually do itâ€”I finally crawled into my motherâ€™s lap and laid my soul bare.
She didnâ€™t rush to reassure me or change my already-made-up little mind. She just rocked me gently and let me cry about it for a while.
Finally, she asked, â€œYou love me, donâ€™t you, Janie?â€
I nodded against her breast, easily giving her the reassurance I was looking for myself.
â€œAnd you love your daddy, donâ€™t you, precious?â€ She stroked my hair, long and blonde like hers, only a few shades lighter.
â€œYes,â€ I agreed, squirming in her lap, already sensing somehow what was coming.
â€œBut how can you love us both?â€
Her question stopped me and I stared up at her, my mouth gaping, the realization slowly dawning. She whispered, â€œOur hearts are so big, Janie, that we can always love. No matter what. We always have room to love someone else.â€ Then she laughed and cuddled me close. â€œBesides, weâ€™re Baumgartners. We can love the whole world if we want to.â€
And it was true. They loved me and they loved my brother, and we both loved them. We were a familyâ€”we were the Baumgartners, and we Baumgartners could love the whole world.
At the time, my mother was just reassuring a jealous sibling, saying something to comfort me when my world was about to expand beyond my usual, comfortable boundaries.
Years later, though, pressed between two warm bodies under the sheets, I would remember her words, and they would take on a whole new meaning.
I was resistant to the idea at first, sure that I wouldnâ€™t get enough love, enough attention, that my world would come crashing down if I included anyone else, but I was proven wrong then, and I was proven wrong later. Experience proved me wrong again and again, opening my heart wider with every new encounter.
I was a Baumgartner. I was made to loveâ€”often and well. My mother was right. She always is.
Sometimes I think I really could love the whole world, if the world gave me a chance.
e world, if the world gave me a chance.