By: Rosa Swann
When you never imagined what your daily life would be like with a family, but now know that you’d never be able to live without them again…
Being a father to just one boy seemed easy, but being a father to three of them is a whole different thing, especially when they’re just a year apart.
Life with the twins is exciting, though sometimes a little tiring. But, while we’re getting used to it, life around us is changing too, constantly changing…
Most of my days go by in a haze, but it’s a good haze, it tells me that I’m alive and that I love my family. A family which has been through a lot of things in the past year.
And, while I’m happy, I also know that I’m still going to have to make a really hard choice… I hope I’m making the right one…
It’s been four weeks since our twins were born, four weeks since our life got a little more complicated, filled with more insanity and especially more craziness.
But, through many sleepless nights and some grumpy mornings, things have also been good, as good as they can get with newborn twins.
Sometimes, I just watch Aiden care for Danny and Mikey, just watch him care for them with such ease. I’m still a little awkward when it comes to tiny babies, but Aiden does it with such ease and grace.
Which, I guess makes sense, since he cared for Seb last year and then also for Mia when Wes moved in, so he’s got a lot more experience with it than I do.
Aiden turns around to me as he’s holding two bottles for our boys. It’s half-past five in the morning, and we’re in the kitchen, a normal time for Danny and Mikey’s early morning bottle.
Danny and Mikey woke up right on time this morning, or maybe it was us who woke up on time, and we got them downstairs quite easily, without waking up the whole house, hopefully. Aiden comes over, putting both the bottles on the table as he carefully takes Mikey from my arms.
“Morning, little one. Are you ready for something to eat?” He takes one of the bottles and I take the other.
As I hold the bottle in front of Danny, he immediately starts drinking from it, pure bliss on his face. They’re so lovely to watch, they’re so expressive, even at this early age. I can’t help but keep wanting to look at them, all day if possible.
I keep holding the bottle and look up at Aiden. “Any plans for today?”
He shrugs. “A nap later, but we’ve first gotta get Oliver and Josie to school and everyone fed and dressed.” He looks down at Mikey for a moment, touching his cheek, then he looks back up at me. “Do you have any plans?”
“Work.” I wink and Aiden rolls his eyes. “Okay. Eh, I want to get some plans together for some classes during the next semester at college. Some people, especially parents attending college, have expressed interest in classes focused on them. Classes about planning college and work and family life, but also some things to help them navigate all the different systems and such. We’re looking into what we can offer them and who should be running the classes.”
“Sounds like an interesting plan.” Aiden smiles. “Also fits well with the way the cafes are evolving.”
“Yeah.” I nod, moving my arm a little, and as Danny has finished his bottle, I put it away and hold him to my shoulder.
When Mikey finishes a few moments later, Aiden does the same. They’re so tiny, so small. It’s still something that surprises me each time, how small and cute they are. I love it.
I eye the clock. It’s nearing six now, which means that the rest of the house will wake up soon too. We’ll go from nice and kind of quiet to a lot more craziness and rushing around the place.
On the baby phone, we can hear Seb wake up in his room upstairs and Aiden gets up, putting Mikey in one of the bassinets we have in the living room, before he comes over and gives me a quick kiss.
“I’ll be right back.” He smiles. “Can you get breakfast ready?”
“Sure.” I also get up and put Danny in the other bassinet, then I go over to the fridge and grab everything we’ll be needing for breakfast for the whole Guarde clan.
We’ve got a lot of different types of breakfasts, especially with so many different ages: four adults, two kids in school and five kids under the age of two.
As I’ve put cheese and spreads on the table, I start the coffee machine, something else that we go through a lot here, coffee, and then get back for the bread.
It may be a lot more home-y than is expected from an Alpha, but I love having such a big family just under one roof.
So many adults and kids together.
I love it.
I finish drinking my fourth cup of coffee this morning, hoping that it will help me focus more on what’s going on in front of me.
For a change, I’m actually working in the office above the first cafe, because it’s a better place than trying to get this work done at home right now.
This morning, as I did my weekly rounds past all the cafes, the manager of the fifth cafe, the newest one, told me that she wanted to step down from being a manager and also start cutting her hours.
It turns out that she’s pregnant, she’s already fourteen weeks along and wants to focus more on her own health and pregnancy, but doesn’t want to fully stop working just yet.
Of course, while surprised, it’s not like this never happens. It’s not like I’ve not experienced this in the years since I started the cafes.
People get pregnant, they need fewer hours and may even stop working altogether after the baby is born. It’s normal and I’ve always been pretty lenient about how we take care of these types of situations.
People can decide for themselves how much they want to work, and how much work they want to take on, so it’s not up to me to regulate that too much.
But it has put me in a position that I didn’t expect just yet, it has given me the perfect situation to put my own plan into motion. I’ve been trying to find a way to involve Zeke more in the company, not in the sense of him too many more tasks, but in the sense of giving him a position in the company that fits the actual role that he’s been playing for it.
And with the news we got on New Year’s, about Zeke and Wes being involved with each other, I feel like he’s also going to need a position where he can support his… His family.
It may be a little different, and still a little awkward, to think of Zeke, Wes and the kids as a family, but that’s what they are.
They’re a family now and while Zeke’s position in the company was fine when it was just him looking after himself, he’s going to need a position where he can keep growing and that will allow him to support his own family in the long run.
I had been planning on this, somewhere down the line, but the news just put this near the top of my to-do list.
I was surprised when they told us, though, I seemed to be the only one who was… Aiden already suspected, and when Felix dropped by last week he said that he actually already knew. So, it seems I was the dense one, the one who didn’t pick up on the signals or something.
It took me a little while to get used to the idea, but, to be honest, Zeke is my best friend and I know he’ll do his very best, and Wes is my brother, I love him, and I only want what makes him happy.
And, right now, that’s their relationship. And to make that happen, well, it involves changing a few things in the company so that I can give Zeke opportunities to give both of them what they want and need.
Which means getting Zeke the managers’ position in the fifth cafe, which is also a little closer to our house, and giving him not only a raise but also extra responsibilities, on paper that is, these responsibilities are things that he’s been doing for me for years.
Which is why I’m now pouring over the pages and documents, finding a way to put this all together.
“Clay!” Zeke’s standing in front of my desk, glaring at me.
“Yeah?” I look up, pretty sure he’s been standing there for a while.
He lets out a deep sigh. “I was asking if you knew about the coffee machine being an ass all day today. I’m not liking this.”
“Oh.” I stand up. “Want me to take a look or call someone?”
“Call someone. I’ve done everything that I suspect would fix it. But, maybe it’s just time.” He shrugs. “Pretty sure you haven’t replaced this one since you started the cafe, right?”
I think for a moment. “Yeah. Okay. Going to call for repairs, and we’ll take a look at a replacement after that. Ehm, I also have something else to discuss with you.”
“Work or private?” Zeke looks at the door.
“Work.” I grin. “Let me make this call, you make sure that nobody is depending on you in the next hour or so. Yeah?”
Zeke nods, though I can see curiosity in his eyes. “Sure. I’ll be back in a moment.” He leaves the office and closes the door behind him.
I grab my phone and call the company that normally takes care of the coffee machines, after making an appointment with them for this afternoon.
That’s the upside of being friendly and also being known as a good company to work for, and also probably the upside for one of their technician’s Omega’s frequenting one of our cafes a lot. Then I ask them to send me a link to their catalogue of new machines, since I’m probably going to have to look into replacing it soon-ish anyway.
Finally, as I’m waiting for their email, I pile all the documents in front of me in a single pile, before sorting them into separate piles depending on what I’m going to have to do with them.
A knock on the door makes me look up, and Zeke is looking around the corner of the door. “You said you wanted to talk?”
He looks a little more nervous now. Normally, when we discuss company related things, we just do it at home, sitting at the kitchen table, as we always have. So me asking him to come over in a more official capacity may not make him feel at his best.
He holds up two mugs of coffee, I would guess as a peace offer…
“Yeah, come in, close the door.” I wait as he takes place in the chair on the other side of my desk.
He puts the mugs on the table between us, and is somehow able to find some space that isn’t covered in paper.
“Repair technician will come in later today, probably at the end of the afternoon as it will be their last stop on their shift.”
“Good.” Zeke nods, but he doesn’t look relaxed just yet.
I hate having to be his boss and not just his friend who he also happens to work for, at least, I hate it when he sees me that way.
It used to annoy me, before I really understood the difference between us, not just because I own this company, but because I’m an Alpha and he’s an Omega. I could potentially find any flaw with what he does, which, in Zeke’s case is rare if not plainly impossible, and fire him for it, just because of his status.
But I now get how precarious this situation is. Sure, we’re friends, but when we’re in this room, I’m his Alpha boss and he’s my Omega employee, and things are different like this.
“What I wanted to talk about, and this is something that may take a while to put into motion, is for you to move up the corporate ladder.”
“What?” Zeke frowns. “What do you mean?”
“I want you to officially take on responsibilities that you’ve already been doing behind the scenes. You mean a lot to me, have for years, and I finally realised that you won’t ask for anything that I don’t offer you. So, instead of you having to ask, I’m giving you this.”
“Clay…” He looks a little annoyed by now. “Just get to it.”
“I want you to become the manager of the fifth cafe.” He’s about to interrupt me, but I hold up my hand.
“Not just that, you will officially be raised to a level similar to being my right-hand in this company. It won’t mean much when it comes to actual changes in what you do, it will mostly be a title change, and of course a well-deserved raise.”
“Is this because of Wes?” Zeke looks at me like I’m crazy. “I don’t want you to do this just because of Wes.”
“No. It’s not.” I can answer that without even thinking about it. “This is because you deserve it. These last couple of months, or even the last year, really, have shown me how hard it is for an Omega to get anywhere in life. You’ve been at my side for years now and you’ve helped me out a lot. I want to show you how much I appreciate that.”
“By changing everything for me?” He’s got a point.
“By giving you a position that fits what you’re currently already doing and where I think you’ll flourish. The current manager of the fifth cafe will be stepping back soon, I want you to become the new manager there. You’ve picked all the employees that work there, so it should be an easy enough switch. And I believe that you will be able to do more when you’re there, when you’re at our flagship cafe, and not in our smallest cafe that is way under your skill level.”
“Clay…” He doesn’t look as happy about this news as I thought he would be. “I don’t have any good credentials, which is fine here, but not when you put me in charge of a big cafe.”
“You’ve managed this cafe for years. You’ve selected the best employees and managers for the other cafes. You’ve helped set up a system of workshops and classes. I believe you’re the perfect person to manage the fifth cafe.”
He lets out a deep sigh, still not convinced.
“I’m asking you this as a friend and as your boss. I want to be able to support you in the way you deserve, and I believe this is one way in which I can. Please, think about it. It’s not immediately, we’ve got a couple of weeks. And if you believe that you’ll need to take classes to do the things that I ask of you, I, as your very grateful boss, will provide both the funds and the time for you to do that.”
I lean back. “Just think about it. I believe it will be a great opportunity for you.”
Zeke nods, frowning, still not looking at me.
It’s in his hands now. I hired him when I was still running the first cafe myself, months before I opened the second cafe.
I originally promoted one of the other employees to manager, largely because of Zeke’s recommendations, but soon after, that manager moved to the second cafe and Zeke became the one in charge of the first cafe.
He’s great at it, he just doesn’t really want to be the one in the spotlights.
He’s a kingmaker, he prefers to be the one in the shadows.
But I’m not letting him do that again, because it’s time for him to shine too.