Once again, I heard them before I saw them, Tony and Cyn were walking up the street having another argument. I think Tony's just found out about the hotel and wants in.
"Well you should have told me, that's all I'm saying. How do you know, I might want to join in and be a hotelier too?"
"Tony, it’s a lot of hard work, maybe you’re not up to it."
"Of course I am, I can take money over the counter just like everyone else."
"You would have to clean rooms and wear a uniform, and I don’t think you will like that my friend."
"You’re full of shit Cyn, that's what staff are for. Coffee Mrs. Rita, if you please," he yelled out to Rita as they climbed up the stairs and down towards us.
"Coming up Mr. Tony, anyone else?"
"Yes please Rita, I'll have one too," Cyn called back.
Arras was chuckling into his drink at everyone’s antics.
"You know I'm going to miss all this when I go home."
"You are home; you’re just going away for a short holiday Arras, that’s all," Tony looked at him and said.
"Well maybe when you get back you and I will have a little talk about building a shopping centre in Longford. Upscale, like lots of top brands, maybe a beautiful table shop too." He smiled sideways at Cyn.
"Okay, no problem," was all Arras said without any argument.
Tony's grin got bigger and he replied,
"That would be a deal Arras, but don't tell anyone, it’s a big secret." He stared at Cyn who was now blushing.
"Whatever Tony, how long will you be away Arras?" she asked.
"Four to six months, depends on the baby."
"That will give me enough time to convince my partners to build a shopping complex attached to the hotel, thank you for that idea." She grinned back at Tony.
"Too late Cynthia, Abs has the plans already and Tony and I have to sign off on it before it’s finalized." Arras was on board after all, but with a shiny new shopping centre.
He took hold of Tony's hands and looked into his eyes,
"Will you be my partner?"
"Will I ever, when do you want to consummate it?"
"We could go to your tiny house now if you like."
"No sorry, can’t do now, I have to make sure Horse is out of town, maybe out of the country, just to be safe." He winked at Arras.
"So there’s going to be a shopping mall attached to the hotel Cyn?" I asked her.
"Yes Den, Arras and Tony if he wants to do it will organize that. His styling is going to be invaluable to the whole complex." She stared at Tony who was lost for words, I think he finally realized they weren’t joking. He sputtered out,
"How much is this going to cost me?"
"A lot Tony, so start carving those round tables Horse told you to do," I screamed laughing.
"I help," Birdy added.
"No baby, you have enough to do without doing my job too."
"I only do feet and corners, they will look good," he was still insisting he help.
"Let’s talk to Jay and Hulk before we decide, hey kiddo?"
"Okay uncle Tony." He found a word for Tony at last, and his face lit up like a beacon, Tony's that is.
I didn’t think Jay would allow Birdy to help Tony with his tables, although it would double his already inflated prices. More money for my friend and a heap more for Tony’s shopping centre project.
"Tony, I need you to look at Ab's plans, then I want you to give me your ideas when we get back, I will appreciate your keen eye with this project. Don’t hold back, we want this to be an amazing build," Arras said.
"I don’t know Arras; I feel guilty now for not including Horse."
"Who do you think is going to build it my friend, he’s going to make many, many millions out of this?" I guess Tony felt better because he was speechless and very pale in the face. I looked over at Evan, he was laughing. If I didn’t know any better, I would think he’s got a finger in that pie somewhere too.
Ayden hopped down, his burger had been totally destroyed and he put his hand out and asked,
"Mores money pease pa." Evan nearly fell off his seat.
"I just gave you some."
"All gone, needs more for games."
I wondered what he was up to because he gets his games for free.
"How much do you need?"
"Five thousand dollars’ pa, and Birdy need too." I couldn’t stop laughing as Evan passed a ten dollar note over to him, then the boys ran off to the cafe and bought an ice cream each. Last I saw them they were heading to the games shop.
Arras and Aisha went back home to finish their packing. I saw Apple haul what looked like a security box up to Cyn’s place later in the day. I am guessing Aisha’s jewels are in it and she is leaving it with Abs and Cyn for safe keeping, I wonder if Cyn is going to have a jewellery party?
I finished making love to my husband who had that dazed look about him. Ayden had dropped off to sleep early so that gave us a few hours to fool around. I could never get sick of him, he was awesome and he never seems to change, his tightness is still there and his groans more intense. He gripped me beautifully but I made him stop because I wanted to enjoy myself and not finish too early.
"Is Arras really going to take Tony on as a partner bub?"
"Yes Den, the more investors the better, Tony’s got plenty of money, if not he can borrow from Horse."
"And you, how much did you put in?"
The room went silent then I saw a big smile spread across his gorgeous face, he made a wet lips sound, then looked sideways at me and said,
"You, me and Ayden have shares in the hotel and shopping centre Den, don’t give me grief on this because you especially have to get rid of some cash, the taxman is beating on our doors."
"I will invest Susan and Kate's money in it too, and some from Trip and Mel."
"So we all have shares in it?"
"Yes Den, Lindsay needs backers and it’s a good investment and a safe tax dodge."
"I'll leave it up to you then, do we get a cheap room?"
"Yes Den, maybe a big discount." He grinned again.
"Good, would you mind moving onto your side, I'm not quite finished yet." He groaned as he obliged me, and may I say by the sounds he was making, he wasn’t finished either.
When we had a minute to ourselves, I asked Horse if he had it all sorted out and he said he agreed with my idea that something big is going on in all our lives. I asked about Ali.
"He's a little sad that David had to leave but he understands his last message now, and is looking forward to a brighter future with Spud, knowing David is still around and looking after them."
"What message my friend?"
"He said that David kept saying he wanted to go home again, he was tired. Ali thought he meant their island but he knows now it was because he wanted to be re-born and get a step closer to the fairy land. If he hadn’t of passed, we wouldn’t have had the king and queen here and all their guys."
"Well I hope Ali understands, and I pray he doesn’t feel too bad."
"He doesn’t Den because he knows David is happy for sure and as he told me and Spud, he’s never felt happier than he is now in Spud’s arms. He went through hell on that island on his own. Don’t forget he didn’t really have much experience until he met David, then Spud."
I felt a lot better after our talk, and when Spud and Ali arrived they were giggling so I guess they will get through it okay.
We said our goodbyes to the king and queen with a big dinner party and promised them we would come over for the birth if they didn’t get back in time. The helicopter was waiting to whisk them off to the airport where their private plane was waiting. Birdy had a few tears but Ayden soon fixed that with a game of kick to kick at the oval. Of course we all cheered him on.
After they left it was nice to have just us few on the porch, even Rita took time out to sit with us, she had just been to see her houses and was as pleased as punch.
"Did you buy shares in the hotel my love?" I asked.
"No Den, I have so much to do here without worrying about a hotel." She smiled.
"Okay, you know we would do that for you don’t you?"
"Yes Den, Cyn and Abs have already offered but I think I might just sit this one out, you never know what’s around the corner."
I had a sneaky suspicion there was something she wasn’t telling me, maybe secrets are better left for now.
Then I had a flash image from Ayden who was minding his own business on Horse’s lap.
It was an image of Rita surfing again in her sequinned gown.
I smiled at him and thanked him for the thought but I didn’t think Rita would appreciate it. Then he sent me one with him in the dress surfing, that one was so cute I think he's finally got it. I nodded my head and smiled at him, then he went back to Horse’s big chest. I grabbed my sketchbook and started doing a drawing of him, and I don’t mean Horse’s chest either.
Evan came down he had been checking emails, his grin was beautiful and I guessed he has had some good news.
"Two more containers for Cody and Rory and four for Aisha, shit this stuff is hot at the moment."
"You had better start thinking about expanding your range bub. Maybe we can pick out six more paintings to work on."
"Already in the works Den, I sent some ideas off to Rory last week. I talked to Cyn and she's letting me use her fairy paintings for two of the designs."
"Why didn’t I know about this?"
"You paint, me shop."
"And surf." I laughed.
I really don’t know why I try to organize him, he's one of the most organized people I know.
"I'm a bit worried about Jack, he might not be able to keep up with it bub."
"He's fine Den, Mike’s doing the shadow boxes by himself now. I think he's got a friend from town helping him out and I hear on the grapevine Jack’s started up his fishing again."
"Good, he needs some me time too." I was pleased to hear that.
"I have downgraded his work from us so he's not so busy Den, I got plenty of guys on my books that can do those sort of jobs," Horse added.
"Good, it all might settle down around there then, Anne needs time for herself too, maybe I'll offer to look after Emma for a day while she and Mavis go shopping."
"Good luck with that, from what I see Emma’s going nowhere with anyone anytime soon. If Mavis or Anne haven’t got her then Jack or Mike have her when they fish." Rita let out a loud laugh.
We had a good family catch up, especially when Cyn and Tony came by for lunch. Nuts, Tiny and Donk were down for a surf after they eat and Ayden’s eyes were firmly fixed on Evan.
"There's no hurry bubby, have lunch and then we can go surf." Ayden smiled because he hadn’t been forgotten.
"Now what would you all like for lunch?" Rita stood up and started clearing the table.
"Burger nanny." She put her tray down and her hands on her hips and replied,
"Are you really, really sure baby?"
"Yes nanny, course me sure."
"And what about the rest of you?"
"Nine burgers nanny, and some chips," I said laughing.
The guys each put their hands up except Tony, he wanted a salad roll and chips.
"Where’s Trip today?"
"He and Mal are in the city, they will be back in an hour or so," Tiny replied.
"And when do you open the surgery Tiny?" God I ask a lot of questions.
"Next Monday Den, it won’t be busy so I can slide into it nicely."
"Good, so which assistant did you finally pick?"
"As I have said before, Anne’s going to do that job and Mike will relieve her when he gets home from college." He smiled.
It seems like ages since I saw Mike, he's been studying a lot and going fishing with Jack in his spare time. I think Rita hasn’t used him for awhile either, she's top heavy with staff, maybe he's been too busy to work anyway, it sounds like it.
We ate our burgers and had coffee for afters then sat for an hour while our stomachs settled. Then it was like an end of year sale as the boys suited up and ran down to the beach, our son wasn’t far behind them, he's learning how to scream, 'yahoo,' today.
"Did you ask Jay about Birdy helping you with the tables Tony?"
"Yes and it’s a no, he doesn’t want a repeat of the last time."
"I agree, it’s nice of him to offer but he really has to live his little kid life to the max, not be stuck in my workroom. He was stuck inside that horrible prison for three years, it's not going to happen here." He smiled. I knew what he was talking about, once Birdy starts he doesn’t finish until his work is done, not something a kid should be doing. I wondered how I could get Michelle talking with Tiny more so they could maybe date a bit, it was an annoying loose end I wanted to clear up.
"Is Michelle still doing the night shift Cyn?"
"Yes Den, but not for long, I have decided to just go online during the day and I have worked the auctions so they finish during our day time. I don’t think my customers would mind, before I was just pleasing them by being there to answer questions but now I think that wasn’t a very good idea, it plays havoc with my sleeping patterns, and my love life," she replied with a chuckle.
"Good, so Michelle will be looking for another part time job then?"
"Yes and no Den, she knows I will always look after her and Shannon, she could go part time although Abs said that one of Aisha’s house boys has good English and computer skills and he said he might set him to work a few hours a day."
"Oh, so maybe Michelle’s not needed at all then."
"I know what your up to Den, I saw the painting and the message, and I agree Tiny is a catch for her and she kind of likes him although she's only met him the once or twice. But what do we do about Shan?"
"She can leave him here or take him with her, he can help by playing with the kids that will be coming into the surgery. It would only be a part time job anyway, once Mike's studying kicks in."
"I don’t think that’s wise Den, people might object."
"Let them go to Longford medical centre then."
"It would be nice in an ideal world Den, but I think not. Tiny has a doctor’s reputation to consider, but keep thinking about it, I’m behind you one hundred percent." She grinned.
"He could always clean your shop Cyn, it’s getting pretty dusty nowadays." Tony piped up and said,
"What! No way is my house or shop dirty, it’s that build next door that’s making me wear out all those mops. Thankfully everything is in display cases so I don’t need to dust inside them."
Tony sniggered into his coffee. I figure Horse has got about another three to four months before Blue and Alex's house is finished, then Cyn can get back to normal.
I walked down to the beach to see what my son was doing and found he was sleeping under the tree with Andy and Alex this time. I felt like I’d been banished so I went for a swim instead, that always gets Evan moving to my side.
I laid down in the shallows and let the cool water flow over my body, then I heard splashing.
"Everything okay here Den?" Evan was near.
"Yes bub, just cooling down a bit because someone’s sleeping in my shade." I laughed.
"I know, he darted up there when Alex brought Andy down."
"It's my fault, I should have come down earlier and claimed the spot."
He laughed as he splashed me.
"You’re such a dork Den, there’s plenty of room under that tree, find another spot."
I made a not so nice noise and splashed him back. I wasn’t angry, just put out a bit so I stood up and let my wet shorts drop under my ass then walked off listening to Evan’s groans.
"Dah," I heard my son call.
I sat down next to him and he moved across to me. His little arm went across my stomach and he was looking like he needed just another five minutes.
"Sorry Den, but I needed the tree trunk to lean on," Alex said.
"That's okay, I should have thought to bring some deck chairs down ages ago, that would keep the sand out of our cracks."
He laughed and Andy stirred, when he realized I was there he moaned to get onto my lap. Alex passed him across then went off for a surf. Good, it's easy to see who's in charge now.
About a week went by when I was putting the finishing touches to Horse’s painting and I noticed a shiny new red car coming up the road, it turned into my drive then went around the back. Soon after I heard someone coming through the shop, it was Trip.
"Is that Mike’s new car mate?"
"Yes Den, I'm supposed to take it over after four, before Mike gets in."
"Looks brand new."
"It nearly is, Jack wanted a good, newer car for himself so although three years old it’s like new, not much mileage and the interior is pristine."
"How much did you pay for it?"
"That's a secret Den, especially to be kept from you." He grinned.
"It wasn’t expensive, Jack can more than afford it, he just wants to do this for his son, that’s all."
"I understand, how’s Mel?"
"She’s really good, her mum is being very quiet at the moment but our trip to Portugal put a stop to her moaning, Mel told her we were thinking about moving there." He chuckled.
After he had a cool drink we went to have a look at Mike’s car. I noticed Patrick's car was there too. He and Susan will be starting to unwind soon too. When we’d finished Trip left to go have a surf and I went back to my work.
Here we go again, bang, bang crunch, Andy was trying to get to my end of the porch in his walker and Alex was watching him from the cafe doorway. I clapped my hands and kept saying,
"Look here, look this way." He did stare at me and his path got a little straighter as his arms went in the air and his legs tippy toed towards me in his walker.
I picked him up and gave him some neck farts so he giggled and screamed his way through it. Another memory came into my brain and my heart filled with love.
Birdy and Ayden had gone over to the games parlour for some pal time so it was nice to have Andy to myself. I placed him on the bean bag then lay down next to him as he played with my fingers and smiled a lot, until his yawns took over and put us both to sleep.
I was a little tired after last night, I think Evan turned the lights out around two am, he was exhausting me.
The boys woke us around four, Birdy and Ayden were sitting at the table just looking at me when I woke. I suppose they missed me. I noticed they both had a milkshake and I also noticed there was a buzz around the porch.
"Get up Den, we have to get ready."
"We are going over to Mike’s to watch him get his present, Anne has arranged a small party to celebrate."
"Why didn’t you tell me." He gave me a whatever look.
We made it to Jack’s shop in plenty of time and Anne was boiling some little boys (mini hot dogs), and had a few dozen sausage rolls in the oven, party fare was then spread across the kitchen table. Mavis was nursing Emma and when she saw Andy she squealed with delight so they were both placed on the floor to play with the assorted toys. Ayden was hopping up and down as Trip put Mike’s car in the backyard to surprise him.
I think Jack was more nervous than anyone, this is something he never thought he could do for his son. Mavis was talking to Cyn who had come along for the ride and I overheard her say,
"But there is more Cyn, I have some Victorian jewellery somewhere to shift."
I wondered if Mavis was a bit shady and was fencing for every thief in town. Where does she get this stuff from? I went to look at the car again with the boys, it was in good nick and when I looked over at Kate’s container it looked like it was still about a quarter full. She came out her back door and kissed Donk, just a little too passionately, but it was very warming to see.
"I see you have nearly sold out Kate so I suppose your shop will settle down now." She looked me up and down and said,
"Fat chance of that Den, Aisha told me her agent has nearly filled another one and to expect it in a month or two." She laughed.
"That’s good news, so what are you going to do with it all?"
"Cyn is going to sell the high end stuff online for us and the rest, like the seconds and deleted lines will go into the shop."
"Oh that’s awesome Katie, Cyn’s a great pal for doing that for you."
"She’s the best Den, I never dreamt I would find some awesome girlfriends around here, but I have and I'm loving it." She laughed.
"Quiet, he’s coming up the street now," Jack called out. We all went back inside then we heard the shop door bell tinkle as Mike opened it.
"Surprise!!" we all yelled. Emma and Andy jumped and poor little Andy started crying, but Ayden took care of that little problem and settled him down.
"What’s going on dad, why is everyone here?" He dropped his school bag in the corner then took a sausage roll off the table.
"Surprise son." He handed Mike a set of keys and poor Mike was confused for a second but then a huge grin appeared on his face. He ran to the back door and flung it open.
"Yassss!!!!" He was so excited to see a very nice, near new, red car out the backyard.
He walked back and hugged his dad and mum then he and the boys went to look it over. As Trip explained all the gizmos to him he kept looking at his dad and I could see the love in both their eyes.
Of course he had to have a drive of it so Jack sat proudly in the front while they took the new car up and down the street. Mike’s a good driver so it won’t be long before he has his licence. When they got back it was Anne's turn and Rita took over looking after the kitchen while Mike did another spin around the block. I think Jack has been giving him lessons on the side, but he said he will get him some proper driving instructor lessons. Tiny put his hand up and said one of his brother in laws has a driving school and he could get the lessons wholesale.
So Mike was nearly booked in for some proper lessons after school.
Ayden was then allowed to sit in the car and Mike showed him everything while I sat in the back. Mavis was a bit teary when it was her turn. We didn’t get back until seven and Andy was well overdue for a bath and sleep, and some nourishing milk. Blue collected his baby bag and he and Alex tottered off next door to maybe spend some alone time with their son.
Birdy shared a big burger with Ayden then both their eyes started closing. It was so funny, over the next couple of weeks a horn would sound every time Mike drove past and sometimes Jack would sit with me while Mike caught up with his surfing. If he had a day off school, Mavis would come with him in the morning then Anne would pick her up to take her home to be dropped off again later when Mike was ready to go home.
It all worked just fine, Mike was getting his driving hours up and I was seeing more of him because coming here is just an excuse for him to drive, as you would guess.
He was rarely working for Rita because she really didn’t need him, while Tiny was doing the doctor thing and his surgery looked like a typical doctor’s office. We had gone over on Monday to have a look, he had a few patients sitting in the waiting room and Anne sat proudly behind her desk. I didn’t want to disturb him so I went to the chemist shop where Kate had a few customers and Ayden ran out the back to see Emma. Mavis was manning the cash register and she had red lipstick on today, that's maybe her signal that she's open for business so you know to fence goods and such.
I grabbed some soap and lotion then I looked through the many bags and purses, some shoes and lots of jewellery hanging off a stand. I didn’t see any wallets or belts; she must have sold out of them.
"I will be over tonight with some more money Den, Donk is going for a surf so I'll come with him."
"Good, are you coming for dinner?"
"I don’t think so Den. I don’t like to eat over there, Rita never charges us for our meals and I feel like I'm taking advantage of her generosity."
"Kate, you’re both a special part of our family. She wouldn’t bat an eyelid if you ate there every night, she likes you a lot and she’s got more money than you so don’t sweat it. Also Evan and I and the boys usually chuck in money each week which more than covers a few meals, and don’t forget Donk throws money into the cafe too, he doesn’t eat nearly enough to cover his share. And anyway, didn’t I see Rita with some new bags last week? She probably didn’t pay for them either." Poor Katie blushed, then smiled.
"We will be there for dinner Den, after the tea rooms saga I'm all cooked out and would much rather have someone wait on me for a change." She giggled.
"Good, no more said then, I will see you tonight." I winked as Mavis wrapped up my goods that I really didn’t need.
"You look nice today Mavis."
"Well we have to do our best Den."
"She's got her eye on the author next door Den," Kate whispered so loud everyone could hear her.
Poor Mavis went bright red to match her lipstick and answered,
"Have not, he's just a very friendly, nice man, that’s all."
"Anyway, that’s good to hear, I thought you might be waiting for some stolen goods to turn up."
"Fencing, ring a bell?" I nearly burst out laughing at her face.
"Go home Den, I'll talk to you later." Poor Mavis, did I just hit a raw nerve?
"Ayden, we are going," I yelled out.
"Okays dah," he yelled back.
When I got back Alex, Blue and Tony were having a meeting at my big table. Ayden wanted to talk about his food menu to his nan so I grabbed a coffee while I was there. Walking up to the table I overheard Tony saying, "Deal then." The three of them shook hands and Alex had a big grin on his face.
"Have I missed something boys?"
"No, just having a pow wow Den, how’s Tiny getting along?"
I didn’t believe him, but I will drop it for now.
"He had a few patients so I looked around then went to see Kate and Mavis, they were a little busy but nothing major. So you’re not going to tell me what your meeting was about then?"
I looked at all three of them, Blue blushed then got up and headed for the kitchen. I outstared Alex who in the end followed Blue. Then it was Tony’s turn and he tried to change the subject, but lost his train of thought.
"Rita doesn’t know yet Den, the boys wanted to tell her first."
"Good, that’s the way it should be; I'll ask her later on then shall I?"
"I have asked Alex to run my and Cyn's holiday apartments, I will put the reception desk in his new house and he will do all the bookings for us. We just don’t have the time to do it and Alex needs to be home with Andy, at least until he goes to school."
"What a good idea Tony, and Cyn is okay with it too?"
"Yes Den, it will take some of the workload off her shoulders."
"So he won’t be doing the cafe anymore?"
"He will still be doing your stays but he will only be on call at the cafe. Horse is insisting they both spend as much time with Andy as possible." He smiled when he mentioned Horse’s name.
"Blue will still help him with setting them up and they both will do the cleaning and laundry from all our rentals, that will give Alex a pretty good income."
"Sounds good to me, I hope Rita’s not too disappointed."
"I think Rita will be very happy the decision has been finally made. Alex needs his own work space and of course Andy needs his parents. I'm as jealous as hell they have little Andy; I wish I could give birth to a few kids." He laughed. I know what he was talking about, at one stage after Ayden was born I wanted six more of the same, but alas that will never happen.
"Shed! Your huge warehouse in your backyard." I suddenly had an idea.
"What are you talking about Den?"
"The holidaymakers have to go into Longford to use the Laundromat, why don’t you install one at the back of your shed. The boys can use that and the money it generates will probably pay their wages."
I could see the wheels turning in Tony's mind, he's got plenty of room to put in machines and dryers.
"Thank you Den," he thanked me and grinned.
"You're welcome." I grinned back.
"I will get Cyn to go us thirds." I laughed.
Rita came down with the coffee pot and sat for awhile and the first thing she did was thank Tony and me for what we do for her son. She was very happy indeed but will miss Andy being in the kitchen with her. I told her that Alex will probably dump him with her when he has to do the cleaning or bookings, she agreed that it would all be fine with her. Ayden walked down with something different today, he had a hot dog smothered in tomato sauce in one hand and a doughnut in the other.
Rita pulled him onto her knees and smothered him in welcoming kisses.
"I still have my mate here to cuddle anytime I want."
"Oh nanny you always has your bubby." Ayden smiled at her.