Protecting David-Christopher Grows Up 13
After swimming then coming back to our room and having sex with Nick and I went down for dinner. On the other side of the pool and protected from the cold by movable glass panels was a large patio with a type of outdoor kitchen attached to it. It was one of the coolest parts of a very cool house.
My dads were there along with the granddads, David and Mark. Presumably, at least from the looks they were giving their partners when they were swimming, Aiden and Andrew were both somewhere else getting laid.
Larry asked, “Any sign of the boys?”
Nick laughed and I said, “They may have more important things on their minds than dinner. Want me to call em?”
Alex looked at his watch and said, “Give’em another half an hour.”
Larry stretched his legs out, crossed his ankles and said, “Any idea when your house is gonna be ready?”
I groaned. “I dunno. They swear it’ll be by Christmas, but who knows.” Then to David, “You got anyone who knows about buying art, you know, paintings.”
David smiled and said, “That Sargent watercolor whet your appetite?”
I smiled, glanced quickly at Nick and said, "Yeah, kinda. I mean when we opened that crate and saw that painting,” I sighed, “it was just, I dunno, amazing. And now with the house is gonna be all different we’d like more art. But we know that there’s a better way to do that than just buying…whatever.”
David said, “You’re right. If you do it right it can be a great investment. I know someone with one of the big museums, I’ll ask him if he knows someone in Milwaukee.”
I smiled and said, “That’d be great.” But I couldn’t get my mind off that email and was thinking, “What does that bitch want?” But I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want everyone trying to solve the problem for me and for that matter didn’t have much interest in even discussing it. It was my problem and I’d solve it.
My sister has never changed and there was no concrete reason to believe that she had now. So it was really just a case of figuring out how she was hoping to fuck me over. I didn’t for a minute think she was trapped in Palm Beach. Maybe she had someone else trapped there, but not her.
Alex, who was sitting on my right side reached out and wrapped his hand around my wrist and said, “About Charlene, I’ve got lawyers trying to come up with some way you might be vulnerable to her. So far they’ve come up with nothing. It’s probably about money. About how much she figures she can get out of you. Have you considered she might be looking for some sort of monthly payment, some way to live?”
I shook my head. “No, no, I mean I thought that guy she was hooked up with had some money, car dealerships or something. You really think that’s what she wants?”
Alex said. “I dunno, but it’s usually about money. Remember, she has a history of draining these guys dry. You’ll just have to see. Oh and don’t forget to call Jeff and have him meet you there.”
I sighed. “I hate to do that. I mean the guy works like a dog, I really wanted him to have this time off.”
Alex said, “I know Jeff and he’ll want to be there. It’d be kind of an insult to not get him in on it.” I knew he was right. Jeff made a lot of money, but that wasn’t what he was in it for, well, at least not the only thing. It was more a sense of duty thing, almost military. I saw the same qualities in Mark and in all the military men Alex and David had working for them.
The boys showed up a few minutes later, the twins looking very self-satisfied with themselves. Tyler looked nervous, but Lauren looked both poised and happy.
She looked at all of us then walked over to my grandfathers. She took David’s offered hand and said, “You must be David. My father wanted me to say hello for him.”
David was on his feet and introduced her to everyone else. She was wearing black jeans, a white blouse and smelled of soap and then faintly of something exotic.
Andrew introduced a blushing Tyler to my dads and granddads. Somehow the blushing just made Tyler better looking and Andrew had a frozen grin on his face and looked like he’d kill anyone who messed with his boyfriend.
After we all sat down again David said to Lauren, “A long time ago a firm I was part of arranged some financing for your Dads company.”
Lauren laughed. “He said it was considerably more than that.”
David said, “Well I was younger then and my memory isn’t what it used to be”
It was Marks turn to laugh. He shook his head and smiled at David. “Oh my God, you never forget anything. It must have been illegal.”
Lauren laughed with him and said, “That sounds more like my dad. Not that he’s a crook or anything but from the stories I’ve been told, in those days he used to write his own rules.”
David sipped his Martini, smiled slightly, and said, “Well, I was an investment banker then and discretion was an important quality to have. I do remember your dad though. We managed to make our way through some difficult things. I enjoyed working with him.”
Lauren took a sip of her diet Coke and said, “Well, the point is, he admires you a lot and the list of people he feels that way about is an extremely short one.”
In a sense, this was the second time that we had met Lauren but the first time it was just a wave hello from the pool.
Lauren had said hello to Nick and then from time to time, she glanced at him almost like she was afraid of him, although I'm pretty sure I was the only one who noticed that. I thought about it for a while and finally decided that might have been the same look that I had plastered on my face the first time I met him. He kind of radiated a sexuality that I had become used to and now just took for granted. I did wonder if he recognized it though.
Finally, we ate and after that everyone kind of wandered off. While I was walking to the family room my dad caught up with me and said, "Are you okay with this Florida thing?"
I nodded. “Yeah, no problem. You sure you can spare the plane? I guess I could send it back right away if you need it.”
Hi smiled and said, “Well, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” This surprised me.
“Why don’t you buy that plane? I mean you kinda grew up with it anyway and last year they redid the engines, changed all the avionics and redid the interior, but I’ll give you a hell of a price.”
I stopped and looked at him. “But I never go anywhere.”
Alex said, “That’s kinda the point, well it’s partially the point. For one thing, I ordered another G650 last year and now they want to deliver it, and for another thing, you need to travel more. You should be visiting that company in Italy and that German company we’re part of is the main buyer of those valves your company in Madison makes. You need to start getting around and making yourself known, especially now that the Italian company might be getting a lot bigger. It means a lot to have the owner showing up from time to time. Like the company that makes exercise equipment, you showing up at some of the gyms across the country that use your products would be a help. Grab the sales people that sold the equipment to the gym and wine em and dine em. Give the top salesmen a trip to the Bahamas on a private jet. That stuff makes a difference.”
He laughed. “Plus Gulfstream wants me to take the new one next week and I need the hangar space.”
I stared at him with my mouth open. He was right. Then I sighed and shook my head. “You’re right, about all of it. It just never occurred to me.”
Then I smiled. “So where do I keep it and who do I get to fly it?” I appreciated what he was doing and I knew he was right but I felt the weight of owning such a thing. It was a familiar feeling because I felt it with every new thing I did with the business.
He put his arm around my shoulder and whispered, “As I’m sure you can imagine, Connie has that all taken care of.”
He steered me into the family room and I said, “So what are you doing with all those planes?”
He shook his head. “Fucking meetings, all over the world. More and more we’re flying whole teams of people, although less and less am I going. All of these companies have grown like crazy and I can no longer solve problems with a phone call. That little insurance company I bought in Minneapolis has a chance of landing a huge corporate account and you need a team of people to work on something like that. We could do that here in Denver and pass it on but you’re not giving the customer your best effort and that has a long-term effect."
“Think about it. You’re a corporate guy with a big problem and you want to make points with your boss and only one or two guys show up. Your competition will be sending in a team of people. It makes a big impression. And a big team may even uncover ways that they can help the guy in other areas, or even uncover problems they weren’t even aware of. It’s important that this guy looks like a hero to his boss and that you’re the ones responsible for it. You do that you’ve got a lock on the guy.”
We had moved into the big family room and sat down on a large sofa. My dad turned around to face me and put a knee up on the sofa. “Remember, the key to this is making your contact guy look great, anyway that’s the first part of it. The second part of it is being as good as you should be, and the third part is, for lack of a better word, the glitter. The private jets, the five- star hotel rooms, flying these guys to exotic resorts.”
“The other thing is that we’re setting up an office here in Denver, that will, if you want it, have access to all the companies we’re involved with. Maybe you’ve got a huge problem with a company in Wisconsin. Run it through our companies using the computers we’re setting up and you may find someone else we own or have influence with that can help. Get it?” I did get it.
Alex sighed. “Okay, enough of this business crap. It’s Thanksgiving!”
I put my hand on his arm. “I wanna ask you something about when you were my age.”
Weirdly my dad can read my mind. I must be really obvious because he always seems to know what I’m thinking.
He grinned at me and then leaned forward and kissed my forehead. He whispered, “I know it’s difficult and strange. But imagine if David was your dad instead of me. He piled this stuff on top of me till I thought I’d go insane.” He sighed. “It gets easier, or maybe just becomes familiar, besides it’s really just a game. Remember, there’s nothing you could mess up that I couldn’t fix and how we feel about you isn’t dependent on business.”
That night Nick and I discussed the plane.
He grinned. “Did he give you a price?”
“No, just said what I told you. But for sure it’s gonna be way less than it would be on the open market. There may be some dollar figure he’s got to hit for the IRS, but all in all, it’ll be stupid cheap. You think he’s right about me getting around more?”
“Absolutely he’s right. Baby, to some degree you’ve let this thing with your sister stop you from doing things. Now you’re getting past a lot of that and it’s time to move. It’s not like you’re the only one who should be making those trips though. Sometimes it’ll have to be you, like with the Italian company, but other times the smart thing would be to send someone more familiar to the customer, someone who can lay the groundwork for you to show up later. You’ve got a good staff, tell Jack to study it and make recommendations.
It’s important to let the people who work for you do their jobs. Important for you and for them. At the bank, I'd put together a group to study it so that when I went somewhere it'd be for the best possible reason. You may need to increase your staff to make sure you’ve got the executive power to actually do that. As I recall you’re basically letting those other companies fend for themselves. Maybe that’s the right thing to do and maybe it’s not. You need people with experience who can tell you that.”
Nick came over and touched my hair and then kissed me lightly. “Remember you’ve got the farm to run, too. Maybe there are people there who can do it and maybe you need an estate manager." He licked the side of my neck and then lightly bit my ear. “You certainly are going to be a busy boy.”
He ran a hand down my back and held my butt. “Just remember, you still need to take care of my needs, too.”
Nick was sitting at the table across from me and I was staring out the window of the plane as my dad’s walked to their SUV. Alex stopped, turned, and waved a final time. I waved back although I didn’t know if he could see me. He did smile though, then turned and climbed into the back seat with Larry.
I sighed and started drumming my fingers on the tabletop as the engines were beginning to turn.
Without looking up from his Ipad, Larry reached over and wrapped his fingers around mine and smiled. Then he said, “You can do this.”
I grinned back at him. “You don’t know that.”
He nodded his head. “Yes I do, and I’m always right.”
I pulled his hand to my mouth and kissed the back of his knuckles. “Jeff says Puppy is beside himself.”
Nick looked up into my eyes. “You saved him. And he knows it.”
“I miss him.”
“You’ll be back in a couple of days.”
“I sent her an email this morning and told her I’d be at the hotel tonight.”
He looked up again. “Did she answer?”
I shook my head. “Not yet.”
He looked serious. “You think she was messin with you?”
I shook my head. “No. No, against all logic, not this time.”
“Keep Jeff with you.”
“I will and there’ll be others, too.”
"Well stay with them. Don't go wandering off by yourself."
I smiled. “Yeah, I gotta stop doing that. When the devil did I ever go wandering off by myself?”
He looked at me with a look of concentration then, with a suppressed grin said, "I dunno but it kinda sounds like something you might do.”