Protecting David-Christopher Grows Up 4
As we drove, the puppy slept like a warm soft lump curled up around my feet. Jeff glanced over at him and smiled. “He’ll be good for you.”
“When should I take him to a vet, and for that matter, where do I get a vet? Can I use your guy?”
He shook his head. “You could, but my guy is too far away; besides, there’s that big vet clinic just two miles from the house. I’ll call em and set it up. That way, if there’s a problem, it’ll only take a couple of minutes to get help.”
He looked at me and shook his head. “Don’t borrow trouble, he’ll probably be fine, but he’s a living thing; and just like people, dogs get sick; but he’ll be fine.”
“Where will he sleep?” I know… a stupid question.
Jeff looked down at the dog again, then grinned at me. “My guess would be with you.”
That started me worrying about how Nick would really feel about all this; but apparently, Jeff had already thought about it, because he laughed and said, “Nick’ll be fine with it. He looks like a dog guy.”
I laughed. “I never thought about it, but you’re right… he does look like a dog guy.” He does; he looks like one of those guys in an LL Bean catalog walking through the woods on a brisk autumn day with his dog by his side - all masculine and hot. The puppy lifted his head for a moment, and looked up at me like he was reading my mind.
Jeff said, “Seriously, I told my guy to pick up a dog crate. You drape something over the top of it, and they feel safe there… it’s like their home. It’s the place they can always go to where nothing bad happens. Of course, they’re all different; and he just might want to stay near you, but with the dog cage, he’s got options.”
When we got home, Andrew was leaning against the wall of the garage waiting for us, wearing only a pair of blue gym shorts, his chest and shoulders forming an impressive vee that ran down to the waistband of his shorts. He shoved off the wall and grabbed my door the instant we stopped.
He opened the door, hunkered down, and leaned in to pet the dog. Puppy looked up at him, stuck out his tongue, and began wildly wagging his tail. Andrew untangled him from my legs before I had a chance to say anything, and pulled the dog up into his arms. Then in a voice we humans keep especially for animals, he said softly, “What a good boy! What a good boy you are! What’s your name?”
I said, “We been calling him, Puppy.”
Andrew made a disgusted sound, tipped the dog over so that he was on his back in his arms like a baby and whispered to him in a singsong voice, “Is your name Puppy? Is my brother too fucking lazy to think up a name? What a good boy you are!” The puppy was wagging his stubby tail so hard I thought he had a shot at becoming airborne.
This is typical of the twins; they have an instant rapport with animals.
I got out and stood next to him while he cooed to the dog. Then Andrew glanced at me, and said softly, “I’d really like to meet whoever did this to him. I’d love to return the favor.”
I said, “Michael called him Puppy, and he seems okay with it.”
He shrugged. “Whatever, he’s your dog. I dunno why we never had dogs.”
“We had horses.”
He sighed, “I guess.” He looked at me. “Nick is bringing home dinner, either Chinese, or from that new little French place.”
“In that little strip mall by the Walgreens.”
“I didn’t know there was such a thing as French take-out food.”
He laughed. “It oughta be an adventure. Oh, and Aiden’s coming tomorrow. He’s starting school the end of next week, so this is the last chance we’ve got to spend time together.” Aiden was going to the University of Colorado in Denver. I had no idea how these two were going to survive a whole school year separated from each other, although in the last two years, they’d begun to do a lot of things with their own friends.
Jeff stepped over and petted the puppy’s head. “You might wanna let him take a poop or something. We set up a run behind the garage. C’mon, I’ll show you how it works.”
One of Jeff’s guys had run a rope from the back of the garage fifty feet back to a tree. Jeff put a collar on Puppy and showed us how to clip his lead onto a long run of rope that would give the dog plenty of freedom to do his thing.
Jeff looked to both of us. “Every morning, feed him right away, then let him out - and every evening before you go to bed. Especially, the morning… he’s no different than any other guy, he needs to pee first thing, because he’s been holding it all night, and if you feed him then, he’ll almost certainly take a dump, too. While the weather’s good, you can leave him out here as long as he wants to be out here, but when things cool off, that’ll change.”
He looked at me, grinned and said, “If you got a housekeeper, they could do that. Not that I’m pushing that idea, but it would solve some problems. But don’t forget, he wants to be with you… he feels safe with you.”
I said, “I know, I know, I been thinking about the housekeeper. Frankly, I kinda been thinking that maybe we oughta add another story to the house to give us more room.” I glanced at Andrew. “That way, when these guys come here, they’d have more room to spread out. But I gotta see how Nick’d feel about that.” Actually, I was thinking that Nick and I would have more privacy; but also, with a second floor and more bedrooms, we could have my dads and granddads here at the same time.
Nick showed up fifteen minutes later carrying not a bag of food, but a cast iron pot of food.
Andrew took a look at that big cast iron pot and said, “What the hell is that?”
Nick said to me, “Baby, would you put this in the oven? I gotta get my briefcase outta the car.”
I said, “You mean we gotta cook it?”
Nick bent, kissed me and said, “We gotta warm it up. It’s Cassoulet. Mrs. Bergeon, who owns the restaurant, gave it to me. It’s not on the menu till tomorrow, but we got to talking about food, and she wanted me to take it. I gotta bring the pot back.”
Andrew came over and lifted the lid on the pot. “Isn’t that the stuff we had in France?”
I said, “Gotta be.” I remembered it being insanely good.
Nick turned to go back to the garage, “I got a couple of baguettes in the car, and you might want to open a nice red wine, as long as we’re going all continental.” Then he stopped and said, “Did you get the dog?”
“He’s outside. I gotta get him.”
As Nick walked back to the garage, I opened the lid and looked in. “There’s sausages in here, and a bunch of other stuff.”
Andrew leered at me and grabbed his crotch. “I got your sausage right here!”
“You are such a fucking pig! And for God’s sake, don’t you ever put clothes on?”
The Cassoulet was extraordinary with big chunks of lamb, pieces of sausage and duck, all covered with a thick crusty layer of baked beans. We tore the baguettes apart, and used the bread to sop up the juices. It was an amazing meal. The puppy had a bowl full of kibble, which didn’t look like much to me, but he practically inhaled it.
After an evening of the three of us coaxing the puppy out of his shell, he was exhausted and sleeping on the very end of our bed. When Nick came walking out of the bathroom, the dog opened his eyes and made a little sound in his throat. I understood the feeling; Nick walking around naked with his dick swinging back and forth is a sight to behold.
Nick bent down and cleaned me up with a wet washcloth, then dried me off. He kissed my temple and glanced at the dog. “He didn’t seem too shocked.” We had wondered how the dog might react to seeing me getting fucked, but if it bothered him, he was keeping it to himself. Nick climbed into bed next to me and pulled my head to his chest.
I said, “So, did you decide how you feel about adding a second story?”
“It’s fine. I mean, in principle, it’s fine… it’s just the mess. Although, the last time they did a remodel when you were still in Madison, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. We’d get an architect, right? I mean it’d be thought out, right?”
“Yeah, we’d get somebody good, and we could use the same guys that did it the last time. The thing is we gotta do it fast, if we want to beat the bad weather.”
“Okay, well then, we oughta go ahead. Your guy Jack would know someone, and I agree on the housekeeper too.” I couldn’t see him smile, but somehow I felt it. “It’s kinda a shame about the twins though. I mean about them not being able to listen to us, and having to resort to online porn like everyone else.” I’d told him about Andrew’s nighttime adventure.
I kissed Nick’s chest. “They’ll just have to suffer. I’m surprised it turns you on.”
He laughed softly. “It doesn’t really… well, maybe a little. Oh, by the way, are you thinking about investing in real estate?”
“You mean me, personally?”
“Yeah. You know, through this new office.”
“I dunno, I suppose. Why?”
I got a guy retiring, who’s an expert on the real estate market in southeast Wisconsin; and I suppose real estate in general. George, George Matson, has been with the bank for thirty-five years, and his wife doesn’t want him working full time anymore. I’d hire him as a consultant myself, but I already got someone new, and I’ve just got no place for him. Anyway, you couldn’t get anyone better, but you’d have to work around his wife. If it was me, I’d include her from the beginning, and set up ground rules. Anyway, think about it.”
“I could ask my dad, there’s not much he doesn’t know about real estate.”
Nick kissed the top of my head. “That’s for sure. Anyway, if it’s been thought through, it’s usually a good investment. The things you want to do with this cable company are fine, but they’re certainly a lot riskier than real estate. It might give you some balance, like a mix of the two.” I fell asleep, thinking about what the addition to the house would make it look like, and wondering if it would change the way I felt about the house. It’d be great if we could have David and Mark visiting more often, for sure.
The next day, Jeff had gotten us an appointment at the vets, so we took Puppy into the office with us, where he mostly tried staying curled up around my feet. Jack’s reaction was the same as everyone else’s.
“My God, Chris, what happened to your dog?” Then I launched into my well-rehearsed version of Puppy’s scary life to date.
When I told Jack what we wanted to do with the house, he told me he had the perfect architect.
“This guy does some really big stuff, but he loves doing houses too.”
“I want them to supervise construction. Will they be able to do that?”
Jacked grinned. “Sure, it ups the cost… but sure.” I had already told him about the real estate idea, and about Nick’s guy George Matson.
I said, “Talk to Jeff about them. It seems to me that Mr. Tam’s organization has to clear them first. But it won’t be a problem. And talk to Connie in Denver, see if she can get that decorator that we always use and have her get together with the architect. She told me once that architects never really take into consideration how the rooms are going to be furnished, and I think she’s right; so, let’s get her in on this early.”
Then we discussed sending his consultant into the cable company. We had been doing some investigative work with the Internet, and Nick had gotten an amazingly detailed report on all the guys we’d talked to, so we were feeling fairly comfortable.
As I was talking to Jack, my phone beeped. It was a text from Jeff saying, “Chris, let me know when you have a minute.” That was unusual; so, when I was done with Jack, I walked next door to Jeff’s office.
Jeff was at his desk with a concerned look on his face while typing into a computer. I sat across the desk from him and raised an eyebrow.
He stopped typing, rested his elbows on the desk top, and leaned forward. “A call came in this morning. Of course, Dorothy got it; it was a female calling from a Florida area code. Normally, when all the equipment is installed, we’ll be recording this sort of thing; but it isn’t finished yet, so we didn’t; but anyway, the caller wanted to know if this was your office.” I could feel my chest tightening. “Dorothy did what she’s been trained to do, and told her that she had never heard of you… and the caller hung up. It was a cell phone, but a prepaid one, and that doesn’t tell us much. We do know that the call came from West Palm Beach.”
I said softly, “Gotta be her.”
He nodded. “I agree. I was just talking to Mr. Tam’s office, and they’re going to send another team down there to see if they can locate her. As you know, when she dropped out of sight a few years ago, we all came to the conclusion that we’d spend the resources on stopping her if she tried to go for you, rather than trying to track her down. Of course, the computers still search for her automatically, but this is the first lead we’ve had.”
I took a deep breath. “So, what do you want me to do?”
He grinned. “The impossible… try not to worry.”
The next two weeks were insane. There were about twenty calls from my dads and granddads about buying the cable company, and about real estate; then in the middle of the second week, Eli, the decorator, showed up with like three assistants to meet with the architects.
Frankly, remodeling the house was turning into a much bigger project than I ever thought it would be. Eli spent two entire days with me going over pictures and ideas for floor plans. At first, I started calling Nick and asking him what he thought, but it became obvious that he would be happy with whatever happened; so, I just started making decisions myself, and it seemed like every decision turned this from what I thought was a simple remodel into something much bigger.
Eli was sitting in my office with two architects sitting on either side of her, hanging onto her every word. “Chris, the thing is this is a wonderful opportunity. We move the kitchen all the way to the west side of the house, make the garage three car, push it back a bit, and add living quarters above it; so when you do get some live in help, they’ll have somewhere to live, and that lets us move the formal living room to the front of the house.” She waved a hand in the air. “You’ll love it! And the whole house will be so much more livable.” Both the architects nodded their heads.
“But Eli - the time? That’s gotta take forever.”
She shook her head, and put her hand on my wrist. “A tiny bit longer, but believe me, it’ll be worth it. Talk Nick into spending December or January some place warm, and by the time you get back, it’ll be finished.”
Before she left, Eli handed me some catalogs and said, “Art. You need pictures… accessories. They’re really the whole ball game, so pick out some things you like.”
And on top of all that, Aiden showed up last week for his back to school blowout. When they’re apart, the twins can do a pretty good imitation of being adults, but when they’re together, it’s less so. Thank God for the pool, because they spent a lot of time swimming and grab-assing, which meant less time harassing me. But that wore thin, and they’d taken to dropping into the office and sitting around asking me questions; so finally, I just tossed them the keys to the Range Rover, told’m to stay out of jail, and don’t get anyone pregnant.