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ALL DAY LONG, Alisa was going through her closet, wondering what she was going to wear, knowing that in two days the 1840 Ball was coming up. She'd half torn apart the closet in the bedroom, then had to sit down and rest awhile, wondering what she was going to wear. Looking down at her swelled stomach, she absently said, "Well, I guess we go for the high waisted gown, huh, guys?" Then she looked at the remainder of gowns in her limited wardrobe. Frustrated, she said out loud, "Awww...this is never going to work!" She flopped down and laid on the bed awhile, thinking of an alternative.

"Why am I trying to think of an alternative?" she asked herself out loud. "There is none! I'm fat!"

Alex came in and heard her comment. "You're not fat, little mother, you're expecting!" he leaned over and kissed her upside down. "What are you up to, hmmm?"

"Probably about a thousand pounds right now," she said, trying to raise herself up.She flopped back down and rasped, "Alex...?"

He smiled and went over to the other side of the bed and took her hands, gently lifting her up to standing."You get bigger every day," he said admiringly. "Not too long now and we'll see if there're boys or girls hiding in there!"

"That- is anyone's guess. What I want to know is how I'm going to shoe horn myself in one of these dresses." She waddled over to the closet, and reexamined her few choices.

Her hand bracing her back, she bit on a hangnail and then considered again, then wailed, "Oh, damnitall, this is hopeless! I may as well just not even go."

"You're going, and you're going to be the prettiest expectant mother there." he promised. "By the way, speaking of pretty, where are our daughters?" he asked. "Haven't seen much of them today."

"Amanda went with Violet to take Fluffy on a walk, and Caroline and Sarah went to town to check on the Emporium. Betty Sheldon 's doing a fine job, they said."

"I meant to ask you, do Peadragoncocks ever shoot fire, like regular dragons?" asked Alex. "Maybe we should take out some fire insurance on the house."

"Funny," nodded Alisa. "I'm worried about trussing up my stomach for a dance, and you're joking about fire insurance."

"Who's joking? Has she shown any signs she's more dragon than peacock yet?"asked Alex, massaging his wife's shoulders as she stood there, gazing worriedly at the closet's contents.

"You'd think she would, she's five months old now, but still no signs. I think if the girls ran into a stranger up to no good, she'd probably trill 'em to death, or lick 'em to death, either one!"

"I wish they'd taken Puk. With all the unrest, I don't trust the girls being alone walking around." Alex looked worried about the lack of protection.

"Oh-and I meant to tell you, Puk - well, he kinda bit through his leash again today. He's out sniffing for the berries."

"Wonderful. He did it again!" Alex threw up his arms in frustration with their pet.I'm going to have to hire my brother full time to fix the leashes he chews through!"

"Don't get all worked up, my love, he could have chewed up the cat next door, you know! Or even Fluffy," Alisa said lightly, and then returned to the subject of the ball. "Your outfit arrived for the ball, my love," she walked over and took the hanger with the cover and handed it to him.

"Oh, I was wondering when I'd get to see it!" He uncovered his outfit, and put it in front of him.

She admired it, and said, looking critcally at the breeches, she commented suggestively, "Can't wait to see those tight britches on your butt!" She admired his handsome virile figure, but it was her own that she was having a problem with at the moment.

"You do go on, Mrs. Braithwaite," Alex commented in a fake southern accent. " I have to look forward to sore toes this Saturday night? Or do you remember how to dance without crippling your partner?"

"If I see you in those tight britches, I won't be thinking much about dancing." she told him certainly, goosing him while he was hanging up the covered outfit. Alex jumped a little, and turned around and smiled evilly.

"You little vixen!" he said lowly, grabbing her gently, and picking her up and placing her on the bed, lying aside her, he took her hands in his and said, "That's how you wound up expecting twins, remember?"

"The good news is that I can't get any more expectant than I already am!" she replied ruefully, leaning against his chest.

Alex kissed her cheek. "Next time, it might be triplets!" he teased lightly.

"Alex! Triplets! Next time?" she asked, amazed he had plans for more children.

"No, my love, elemental fae triplets. We need them. And badly. We need to replenish our people. You and I come from a long line of royal elementals. And besides, you promised me as many children as I wanted! Remember?"he asked her, kissing her nose.

"Me and my big mouth," she sighed. "But, a promise is a promise." she admitted. "I guess I could coax three more outta this old girl," she said, patting her stomach gently.

"The doctor says you're doing fine," said Alex confidently. "If there were a problem, I think we'd have known by now."

"Do you like, just think about how many you want and then let nature take its course, or how's that work?" she asked. "Rub a statue of Buddha's belly or carry a rabbit's foot and a four leaf clover, or what?" she teased. "What's the secret?"

"Well, now, if I told you, it wouldn't be a secret, now would it, Mrs. Braithwaite?"

"I guess you're right!" she said, hooking an arm around her husband's neck and pulling him down to kiss her, and then again...

"Mom, I-are you two at it again?" rasped Sarah Cat , standing at the doorway to her parents' room. "Don't you ever come up for air?" she laughed.

Alex let Alisa up and said, "Your mother started it," and then asked, "What did you need?" Alisa widened her eyes, incredulous that he'd said that.

"Oh, nothin', " she said with a mysterious grin. "Just wanted to let you see what followed your youngest daughter home."

"I don't know if I'm going to like this," growled Alex uncertainly. "Come on, little mother, let's see what our youngest has been up to," he went over to her and pulled her off the bed gently and put his arms around her waist from behind as they walked to the kitchen, and lo and behold stood Amanda, with Fluffy sitting at her feet, and something with pink feathers flapping its wings and squawking loudly, and she held out her hand and saw a plant, but it was unlike any other plant Alisa or Alex had ever seen. It actually had a face, arms, feet, and whole body! And then there came a shadow over the group, and something landed with an almost transparent body with glowing yellow green eyes! cheap long sleeve wedding dresses

Amanda turned her innocent puppy eyes on her parents. "Mommy...can we keep them? Please?"

As if on cue, Puk came up through the Pukwudgie door and saw the other animals, and began chasing the pink swan, and that got Fluffy upset and she starting trilling and licking her fur, then she whimpered, and the shadow owl hooted and the herb plant got nervous and its leaves started falling off. It quaked its way inside Fluffy's fur, and Fluffy started scratching to oust it. Then the shadow owl screeched and flapped its wings angrily.

Puk began chasing the pink swan around Sarah's legs. She took him by the hand, and said, "MMMM! Puk has strawberries! Come on, let's eat!" she led him off to the refrigerator, where Fluffy scampered, putting her two front feet up and searching for her gooseberries. Her fluffy tail wagged a mile a minute as she trilled loudly, excitedly following Puk to his bowl and trying to snitch a strawberry from him. But he growled and she backed off, trilling.

Alex and Alisa looked at each other and they both threw up their arms. "It won't do any good to tell her no, she'll just keep begging us until we say yes!" Alex said, lost for words.

"But my love-where are we going to keep all these animals?" asked Alisa.

"I can put them in my bedroom!" offered Amanda cheerfully.

Alex and Alisa said in unison, "NO!" and Caroline Hewitt joined Sarah as they watched the fun of more animals being introduced into the family fold.