At that time (Galactic 4324) the Long family had seven adults in residence: Ira Weatheral, Galahad, Justin Foote, Hamadryad, Tamara, Ishtar, and Minerva. Galahad, Justin, Ishtar, and Tamara you have met; Ira Weatheral was the executive of such government as Boondock had (not much); Hamadryad was his daughter who had obviously made a pact with the Devil; Minerva was a slender, long-haired brunette who had had a career of more than two centuries as an administrative computer before getting Ishtar's assistance in becoming flesh and blood through an assembled-clone technique.
They picked http://giftw.ru Galahad and Tamara to propose to me.
I had no plans to get married. I had married once ‘till death do us part' - and it had turned out not to be that durable. I was most happy to be living in Boondock, my cup overflowed at growing young again, and I was looking forward with almost unbearable delight at the expectation of being again in Theodore's arms. But marriage? Why take vows that are usually broken?
Galahad said, ‘Mama Maureen, these vows will not be broken. We simply promise each other to share in taking care of our children - support them and spank them and love them and teach them, whatever it takes. Now believe me, this is how to do it. Marry us now; settle it with Lazarus later. We love him - but we know him. In an emergency Lazarus is the fastest gun in the Galaxy. But hand him a simple little social problem and he'll dither about it, trying to see all sides to arrive at the perfect answer. So the only way to win an argument with Lazarus is to present him with an accomplished fact. He'll be home now in a few weeks - Ishtar knows the exact hour. If he finds you married into the family and already pregnant, he will simply shut up and marry you himself. If you will have him:
‘In marrying all of you, am I not marrying Lazarus, too? '
Not necessarily. Both Hamadryad and Ira were members of our founding family group. But it took several years before Ira admitted that there was no reason for him not to marry his own daughter - Hamadryad just smiled and outwaited him. Then we held a special wedding ceremony just for them and what a luau that was! Honest, Mama Maureen, our arrangements are flexible; the only invariant is that everybody guarantees the future of any babies you pretty little broads give us. We don't even ask where you got them. .. since some of you tend to be vague about such things. '
Tamara interrupted to tell me that Ishtar watches such matters. (Galahad tends to joke. Tamara doesn't know how to joke. But she loves everybody. ) So later that day I said my vows with all of them, standing in the middle of their beautiful atrium garden (our garden! ) - crying and smiling and all of them touching me and Ira sniffling and Tamara smiling while tears ran down her face, and we all said ‘I do! ' together and they all kissed me, and I knew they were mine and I was theirs, forever and ever, amen.
I got pregnant at once because Ishtar had timed it so that our wedding and my ovulation matched - Ira and Ishtar had planned the whole thing. (When I had that baby girl, after the usual cow-or-countess gestation period, I asked Ishtar about the baby's paternity. She said, ‘Mama Maureen, that one is from all your husbands; you don't need to know. After you've had four or five more, if you are still curious, I'll sort them out for you. ' I never asked again. )
So I was pregnant when Theodore returned, which suited me just fine. .. as I was sure from past experience that he would greet me more heartily and with less restraint if he knew that it was certain that copulation with me would be solely for love - and sweet pleasure - and sheer, sweaty fun. Not for progeny.
And so it was. But at a party that started out with Theodore fainting dead away. Hilda Mae, the head of the task force that rescued me, had rigged a surprise party for Theodore, in which she had presented me to him, dressed in a costume of high symbology to him - heeled slippers, long sheer hose, green garters - at a time when he thought that I was still in Albuquerque mo millennia earlier and still in need of rescue.
Hilda did not intend to shock Theodore so sharply that he fainted - she loves him, and later she married Theodore and all of us, along with her husband and family - Hilda does not have a mean bone in her little elfin body. She caught Theodore as he fainted, or tried to. He wasn't hurt and the party developed into one of the best since Rome burned. Hilda Mae has many other talents, in and out of bed, but she is the best party arranger in the world.
A couple of years later Hilda was Director-General of the biggest party ever held anywhere, bigger than the Field of the Cloth of Gold: the First Centennial Convention of the Interuniversal Society for Eschatological Pantheistic Multiple-Ego Solipsism, with guests from dozens of universes. It was a wonderful party and the few people killed in the games went straight to Valhalla - I saw them go. From that party our family gained several more husbands and wives - eventually, not all in one day - especially Hazel Stone a. k. a. Gwen Novak who is as dear to me as Tamara, and Dr Jubal Harshaw, the one of my husbands to whom I turn when I truly need advice.
It was to Jubal that I turned many years later when I found that despite all the wonders of Boondock and Tertius, all the loving happiness of being a cherished member of the Long Family, despite the satisfaction of studying the truly advanced therapy of Tertius and Secundus, and at last being apprenticed to the best profession of all - rejuvenator - something was missing.
I had never stopped thinking about my father, missing him always, with an ache in my heart.
Consider these facts;
1) Lib had been raised from the dead, a frozen corpse, and reincarnated as a woman.