"Brandon, I’m going up to get my robe and then I’m going to the pool. I would imagine the next time you see Kelly and Wade they won’t have anything on. You’re welcome to join us. If you’re uncomfortable nude you can wear underwear if you want. There are towels and robes by the pool, but I have a large robe that fits me better. There should be a clean robe in your closet as well," I told him and I stood to leave.
"Well, you’ve already seen my stuff up close; I don’t have much to hide so naked is cool with me. Um, what about if I get, err, you know, a boner?" he asked.
"Boners happen; it is part of the male condition. It will be fine. Wade usually points the way himself," I answered and headed upstairs; behind me I heard Brandon chuckle as he stood and followed behind.
When I stepped into the pool area, I turned on the Jacuzzi and shed my robe. I did a rather lazy dive off the board, but managed not to belly flop and that water felt great. It was still warm, but the wind had come up and a storm was supposed to arrive around ten. A chorus of war whoops alerted me and three naked boys cannon balled around me. The regular horseplay and grab-ass ensued and eventually I moved to the Jacuzzi. I picked up my phone, snapped a pic of Wade’s naked little butt and sent it to his mom, letting her know that all her hard work had been destroyed, but would be put right when they dried off. Wade responded to the flash by spreading his arms and legs and wiggling his not so little pointer at me.
I tied into my video system and looked over the property, and then checked the feed from the hangar. Everything looked good. So I played solitaire and listened to some Mozart. I let my thoughts wander and soon I was reminded of watching my boys and their friends at our old place. My wife always enjoyed watching their antics, but inevitably I was reminded of the pain of losing her and Maurice as well. I snapped out of it when I heard the slap of little feet approaching.
"Rob are you okay?" I heard Kelly’s sweet voice ask.
"I’m fine Kiddo; I was just remembering some things, some good, some bad," I answered.
He snuggled against me and I put an arm around his shoulder and kissed his soggy little head.
We sat there for awhile until the others joined us.
"Um, Rob?" asked Brandon, "Are you alright, you look a little sad."
"Kelly just asked me the same thing. I was watching you guys and remembering my boys when they were young and the memory of my wife is never far from that. But I’m fine."
"Are all your sons local?" Kelly queried.
"A couple are nearby, but the rest are all over the country and one is now in France. Henri is Maurice’s boy, but he calls me Dad as well."
Wade stood and came around Kelly and put his arms around my neck. "I love you, Uncle Rob." I kissed his neck and told him I loved him too.
We all sat there and enjoyed the bubbles and the closeness. It was a little surreal for me considering I had only known two of these boys for a short while. The timer shut off on the Jacuzzi and the bubbles stopped. I heard a stomach growl and I asked if anyone was interested in dinner. I suggested broiled chicken breast and got no objections. I climbed out and toweled off and donned my robe. I prepped the chicken, seared it in a pan and fired up the broiler. With the chicken cooking I went up and showered. When I returned Brandon was making a salad and boiling water for pasta. He had whipped up a white sauce and even pulled the chicken out long enough to brush some on.
"I hope you don’t mind, I kind of like to cook and I learned a lot from Mom. Kelly and Wade set the table and they’re up showering off. I already rinsed off the chlorine. You’ve got a great kitchen. I look forward to baking in it. I like making bread and rolls, but desserts are my favorite thing to make. Even the stuff I can’t eat is fun. I’m allergic to strawberries." Brandon rambled as he cooked.
"Same here; for me with the strawberries," I told him.
I left Brandon to do his thing and found Kelly looking at my photo gallery in the hallway.
"She was very pretty," he smiled, staring at a picture of Carolina. "The nameplate reads Carolina, but you say it differently. You say it like Car-o-leena."
"That’s how she liked it pronounced, she was always correcting people," I answered.
I felt Kelly take my hand.
"I like her eyes; she must have been fun to be with. My mom used to be fun but that’s gone. Do you think there is a chance I can ever get her back?" he asked as he leaned against me. I was near tears myself because it was unlikely that she would commit to treatment or that it would be successful. Her health would be a factor as well and Kelly’s descriptions didn’t hold out a lot of hope.
"I wish I could say yes, but I think you know what her chances are in rehab. But we can hope and we’ll try as hard as we can, but she’s got to help herself through this too. I’m sorry I can’t be more optimistic." My voice cracked on that last part and I wanted to cry a bit myself. I squatted a bit so I could look him in the eyes and before I could say anything more, he spoke.
"I know you care Rob, I’m sorry it makes you sad, but it’s important to me that you told me the truth. Let’s not be sad anymore tonight, okay?" His eyes pleaded for this.
"That sounds good to me, Kelly."
We rejoined the others and found them embroiled in a discussion of Anime’.
"Well, have you ever watched Anohana?" Wade was asking.
"I started to, but it’s really sad, and I had enough sad stuff going on already. Maybe I’ll finish it someday when I feel better about things," Brandon put in.
"How about Pico and Chico, have you seen any of those?" Wade continued to probe.
"You’ve seen those?" Brandon questioned. "They’re kind of sexy but really sweet. I like them a lot because they love each other. But they do some wild stuff," Brandon’s guard was completely down.
Kelly waded into the conversation. "Ronny showed me Pico and Chico. His parents never look at his laptop. They trust him not to look at adult stuff although that Anime’ is really sexy. They both look cute as boys or girls. I think he showed that Anohana one to his Mom. He told me she cried a lot watching it but girls do that."
"Yeah the cross dressing is hot," Brandon mused absently, I used to wonder how I would look as a girl." And then he stopped speaking abruptly and he blushed furiously.
"I think you’d be pretty" Kelly speculated.
"Me too, and I might like to try the cross thing," Wade chipped in.
"All three of you would look very nice as girls. You know there’s a high end second hand shop in the village. If you guys are serious we could go in and get some things."
"How would that work? Brandon asked. "You show up with three boys who want to dress like girls and the cops will be there in five minutes."
"We could say it was for a school dance or maybe a play," I offered.
Wade and Kelly both chimed in with, "Cool, that would work."
Brandon had reservations still and asked us to let him think about it.
I have to admit that his discomfort amused me just a bit. I would never ridicule him about it though. That kind of hurt never goes away.
The boys moved on to other topics and they chattered while I read a bit.
I enjoyed their banter as Kelly and Wade set the table and then Kelly wrapped the rolls in foil and put them in the oven to warm. Kelly showed quite an interest in the preparations that Brandon was making, but Wade was not a cook and came over to sit with me.
"I like them Rob, they're nice guys, I hope they can stay here and live with you. They would love going to my school." Wade prattled.
"I will do what I can for them buddy, a lot depends on the courts and what we can arrange for Lyle. And in Brandon's case, it will come down to whether he is granted emancipated minor status," I explained.
"What does that mean, does he suddenly get to be an adult? How does that work?" Wade quizzed earnestly.
"No Wade, it means he would be free of parental control, in this case from his stepfather. The court would appoint a guardian like me and I would be responsible for his wellbeing until he's eighteen. That doesn't mean I'd give him the boot the moment he turns eighteen; it's just the age at which you can make your own decisions. But I hope Brandon will be around long after that. I will see that he gets the chance to go to college or culinary school or whatever career he wants to follow. I already have a trust set up for family and friends to cover tuition and housing costs."
"I forget you're rich sometimes, you just don't act like the rich people I see on TV. Is that just because they're acting or are most rich people like you?" Wade watched me carefully for an answer.
“Actually it's probably mostly acting. I know quite a few wealthy people and they seem pretty decent to me. There's always the guys that want you to know how much they have and think it gives them the right to act badly.”
“Let me tell you about a guy who was doing just that at a fancy hotel in Santa Barbara, He came rolling in a big fancy, top of the line BMW and went around all the people waiting and parked at the head of the line and blocked the passenger drop off lane with the back of his car.”He barged into the line and told the valet to get his bags out and park his car nearby. The valet told him he'd be right with him, but that wasn't good enough. The man told the valet that he needed to drop what he was doing and take care of him because he had an important meeting at the hotel. So since the valet was helping me I asked the guy who he was that made him so special. He announced that he was Jack Baxter and asked who I was. I told him I was nobody important and told the valet to go ahead and get him taken care of. The bell captain collected the bags and the valet parked the car. I noted that Mr. Baxter didn't bother tipping the valet. He also dropped the claim checks for his luggage and car.”
“As it happened, I was there to take a meeting with my partners and a man who wanted to play in our pool, so to speak. He wanted our help with money for a development that he had invested his entire net worth and then some into just getting it to the investment stage. I had brought a suit to wear but I decided I would just go with jeans, work shirt and boots and I communicated that decision to my partners. So the five of us sat there in various states of casual dress and had a drink while our applicant paced in the hallway outside the conference room.”
“I read out a report on our friend that my attorneys and their investigators had prepared. It was not encouraging; the man was clearly over his head and many of the assets he claimed to have were nonexistent or already being used as collateral. His track record was abysmal. He was always late on some phase of construction and was constantly trying to weasel out of penalties in his performance bond."
"So Wade, would you like to guess the guy's name?"
"It was that Jack Baxter guy wasn't it?" Wade grinned at me.
"Yup, he walked into the conference room in his fancy fake Brooks Bros. suit and Piaget Altiplano knockoff and tried to get things rolling and take charge. Then he saw me and his face looked like an iceberg crashing into the sea.”
“We had agreed that Owen would be our spokesman since he brought the prospect to us.”
"Mr. Baxter," Owen said, “I have just read a report on the status of your level of investment in this venture and there appear to be several incongruities regarding your collateral and assets. We cannot in good conscience continue with this development in its present state. We have discussed it thoroughly and our decision is final."
"It gets better, Baxter stormed out and immediately went to his room to pack his bags and leave. He summoned the bell captain again but was informed that they were quite busy but they would be along as soon as they had a chance.”
“Meanwhile the leasing company that actually owned the BMW he was driving had arrived to take possession of the car. Of course the valet complied since they had every legal right to repossess the car and handed over the keys. To do otherwise would subject the hotel to liability. I should mention at this point that my partners and I own that particular hotel and I had made a couple of phone calls just before the meeting.”
“I stood in the concierge's office and watched with the head of our security team as the valet explained that his car had been picked up by the leasing company and told him where he could get a taxi. Before I went back up I gave the valet and the bell captain two hundred dollars each as a bonus for performing above and beyond expectations in the face of a disagreeable guest."
"But he was rich wasn't he?" Wade asked.
"Actually the parking valet had more ready cash than Mr. Baxter."
"Oh, I get it; he was just acting like he was rich to get his deal made so he could be rich for real, right?"
"Exactly, Wade, he was a big poseur."
"Is he still around?" Wade inquired.
"Well, he had to sell everything he had to cover the stuff that would get him arrested for fraud and then his wife divorced him and took whatever was left. I think he's selling RV's at that big place in Camarillo," I finished.
"So money doesn't give you the right to be a jerk then, huh, Uncle Rob?"
"That is exactly the point of this little story."
Wade smooched my cheek and went back to the kitchen where Brandon and Kelly were discussing the issue of cross dressing again.