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R. Eric

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About R. Eric

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    Charleston, South Carolina
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    I write...A lot.

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  1. The message to the other vampires out there went out and I knew there would be resistance, but I had not expected so many would be welcoming. It just took a day or so before we were getting messages from around the world. There were a lot more vampires out there than any of us realized. George, Colin, Ruben, Mark and I were looking at the number of replies we’d gotten and were watching as the number grew. These groups were isolated, but the program Stan used was bringing them all here at once. I guess they didn’t really talk much with each other. Stan was beginning to panic. “I can’t do this by myself!” He almost wailed as he waved at the computer. “There are hundreds of replies. I can’t even begin to determine if they want help or not…” he looked at us with wide eyes, “…and this is just day two!” Mark was patting Stan’s back and nodding. “I’ll help you.” Stan shook his head. “You won’t be enough! You can barely type!” Ruben looked as more were coming in and his eyes widened, too. “Jesus, look at them.” He looked at us. “Are there that many vampires out there? I only knew of Uncle Alex! There was the man that turned him, but that was in Europe! There are hundreds, if not thousands!” Colin nodded as he was thinking. “These were people that were in the other…” he waved out of the building. “…whatever they call the vampire centers call themselves…they were contacts with these groups.” Ruben pulled up a message. “What is this? Russian!?” “I’m not concerned about the languages, Mr. Chance. Buddy can translate that.” Stan moaned. “I’m talking about the number of them.” Mark pulled Stan close. “Deep breaths. Take deep breaths.” He grinned because even though Stan was having a minor panic attack, he was also thrilled. “It will be alright.” George shook his head as Burke came in. “John, did you know about all these vampires?” Burke came over and saw the computer screen. “No, I only had those few on file.” He shrugged. “But it’s possible. Vampires are used to being resourceful. Hiding isn’t the hard part because it’s natural. We knew there were others. I had no idea there that many.” George nodded and touched Stan’s shoulder. “I’ll ask some of the other staff here that are doing other jobs to help you. We have secretaries, file clerks and many others that know about us that work here. They can help.” He chuckled. “Relax.” He looked at Ruben. “I know the family members of Marissa are being held somewhere and I don’t want to know where. We’re just not breaking too many laws, are we?” Ruben shook his head. “No.” He frowned. “They were breaking laws by aiding Marissa. Who are they going to complain to about their rights being violated?” Colin nodded and raised his hands to stop everyone. “Okay. They obviously want what we have.” He began to pace again in his circle. “We’re going to have to sort these by country and whatever group they’re with.” He looked at George. “I know you want every vampire out there to have the serum. Will we have enough?” George shrugged as he thought. “The chemicals are a little complicated, but not hard to make. It will take some time, but we should be able to make enough. We wouldn’t be able to give all them as soon as they may like, but we can do it.” I nodded. “I know that Holm’s Laboratories is making money, but all this is going to cost. Can we handle all these people?” Colin gave a frown. “We shouldn’t handle it all by ourselves. If the other…whatevers…want it, they need to pay.” He said logically. “Are we giving the serum-free?” I asked. “I gave the serum to Colin when I first met him but never inserted the disc. I could learn, but can’t they give it to their own people? Doesn’t the serum have to be made with each vampire’s own blood?” George nodded. “It does.” “And there is manufacturing and distribution…” I pointed out. George nodded again. “Yes, but each…whatever…” I rolled my eyes. “Just call them Vampire Capitals.” I shook my head. “George, you’re a genius, but naming things is a problem for you.” George grinned. “Your husband wasn’t much better than I was.” Ruben had been staring at the screen and turned and looked…amazed. “There are so many of them!” Colin smiled at Ruben. “On a world that numbers in the billions, you’re upset by a few thousand vampires?” “Or…” I said. “They could be like you, Ruben. They are regular humans that have members of the family that is a vampire.” “We’ll need to go through these and find out.” Colin nodded and turned away and sighed. “We’ll need to find out about their past. Are they still human?” I took his hand. “I’d say they are a little. They replied to the message on a computer. That means they’re thinking.” I looked at George. “But you still want to keep the serum secure, don’t you?” George thought a minute nodding. “It’s our leverage.” He scratched his red head as he thought. “We can make the serum here. We’ll send the serum to the…” he was working it out in his own head. “…Vampire Capitols and instruct them how do make the disc for each vampire and insert them.” “And they can’t just study the serum to make their own?” I asked again. “It’s a complicated formula,” George said shaking his head sighing. “It won’t work right if not done correctly. This will be a venture that will take some time.” Colin smiled. “Well, we know we’re not alone now.” He patted George on the back. “We’ll just have to visit these Vampire Capitals. They really can’t come to us.” “If it proves to be a good thing…” I added. “We will have additional personnel.” “And we have the others that are not human still to deal with.” Colin pointed out. “Wild ones here and over there.” He looked at George cautiously. “This is what we wanted, isn’t it?” George wasn’t happy, but then he rarely was when dealing with the whole vampire world. “What we want; is to get rid of this mess and become human again.” He looked at Burke who smiled at George. “And until I do that, we’ll just have to deal with it.” Colin smiled as he turned to me. “I wanted to take you to these places on a honeymoon.” He said sadly. I put my arm around him. “Who says we can’t do both?” I looked at the monitor screen as the world turned. “Where will we start first?” Colin brought me into him as he rested his lips against my forehead. “I guess England. That’s where Marissa came from according to her.” “Are we doing this alone?” I asked. Colin thought. “I don’t think we should. We can take Gabriella, Alex, and Willie with us.” Then he smiled, “…and your mother.” He added with a shrug. “Your mother can be there to show that humans and vampires can get along.” He looked at Ruben. “We should discuss this with the others.” Mark nodded. “I’ll let everyone know.” He patted Stan. “You’ll have help, baby.” He assured kissing Stan quickly. Colin and I went to the holding cells with Marissa and Adrian. Neither of them were a threat to anyone now. When we met Marissa, she was so confident in her position as First Vampire. Now she seemed like a lost child. She sat on the bed she used, looking without interest at anything. We were not so cruel to give her nothing to do. We had given her some books to read. We looked at her from behind the observation window. I shook my head. “She could have done so much.” Colin cocked his head as he looked. “So much of her life was about being First Vampire. That was who she was. Now, that’s gone.” He smiled at me. “To think, all the vampires in the United States and Canada came from her.” He grimaced. “That thing that looks like an innocent little girl rewarded her nephew that brought her over. How many did he make? Then as the humans expanded in the United States, vampires did, too. She made almost all of them.” I shook my head. “But where did it originate?” I asked knowing there would be no answer. “Books, movies, and television came up with some pretty good theories, but did it start in Eastern Europe? We know there was a man they called Dracula based on a real man. Did it start over there? Did it start in Egypt, as another story said?” Colin hugged me. “We may never know. We can ask if the others know, but really, we may never find out.” We did the same with Adrian. He was more unsettled than Marissa as he paced. The books he had been given were strung around his room. Both of them had begun eating and there were empty dishes around Adrian’s room. Seeing him was like watching a caged lion or tiger. “He will be trouble,” Colin said. “We need to find a place to house these creatures to keep them secure….and to keep everyone else secure.” I hated that I thought so, but I looked at Colin. “Maybe we should have let him burn.” “Or maybe just ended him.” Colin nodded. “There is hardly anything left that’s human in him, but he isn’t a full vampire now. He can’t make others.” We met with everyone on the task force. Vampire and humans had their say. My mother was also included as she would be with us as the human side of our visiting team. “…I think you need to be there.” George said to Colin. “It was you they saw in that message.” Ruben nodded. “Agreed, they will know you are a vampire because they can sense you are. That will be your proof. If you and Devon are there, along with Gabriella, Uncle Alex, Willie, and your mother; they will know it’s real.” Stan nodded. “That was the general quest of most of the messages back, wanting to be assured it was true.” Mark sat forward. “And Colin’s ability to sense people will help big time to determine if they have things to hide.” Then he sat back again. “I think there should be an escort by us, as well.” “Us, being the FBI?” I asked. Mark nodded. “If for no other reason than to show the support of some branch of the government.” Colin nodded. “But we’ll need Stan here to handle the Control Room.” Stan grinned. “Well, that’s what those little devices you carry will do. I can be reached that way.” I turned to George. “You should go, too, George. You have the medical expertise to explain more about the serum and how it works.” George nodded and he looked at Burke. “Have you been to England?” Then he looked more puzzled. “Do you even have a passport?” Burke shook his head. Ruben waved that off. “Don’t worry about that. All of you will have passports. Uncle Alex and Willie included. I’m having that done now.” He thought. “I need to speak with my cousin, Congresswoman Chance, and Senator Cook. We will need more backing.” “And personnel,” George said. Mom frowned. “I hate to be the one to conduct those interviews.” She muttered. “What sort of background is needed to work here? How will we know they can be trusted?” “There will be mistakes,” I said. “We may hire someone that will prove dangerous.” Ruben nodded. “But we’ve done this before. We’ll be as thorough as possible.” I turned to Shelly. “And I think you should be the one to go with us.” I grinned. Shelly looked surprised. “Me? Why?” Colin chuckled. “Well, I can count on you to tell me when I say something that is bullshit.” He reminded her of her comment when we were going after Marissa. Shelly grinned. “It was bullshit.” She shook her head. “But you see things very clearly,” I said. “You’re very pragmatic and smart.” She waved her hands a little helplessly. “That’s what you hired me for, but you know my jurisdiction is only here?” “But your talents will help there.” Colin pointed out. Stan grinned as he took Mark’s hand. “I guess you stay with me.” Mark grinned back. “Yea.” He squeezed Stan’s hand. “There will be other trips other places. Your being an egghead is needed here.” Colin smiled. “We’ll make the arrangements. We’ll be extending trust by telling them when we’ll be there and where. I’ll let them know if they want to be included that they will have to come to us.” George nodded. “They are vampires, so trust will be touchy with them.” “That’s why we’re extending trust first,” Colin explained. “They will have regular humans that work for them like we do that can bring us to them.” He looked at Stan. “We don’t have names to go by, do we?” Stan shook his head. “They all have screen names.” “We’ll just let them all know when and where.” Colin sighed. “They will have to come to us.” “England,” I said quietly. “I’ve passed through there. The only thing I know about England is they drive on the left, have a monarch and talk funny.” “People say we Southerners talk funny.” Colin chuckled. “It will be a good trip.” I nodded. “I hope so.” “Well! Let’s get cracking!” Colin said standing. “But first, I’m hungry.” I got up patting him on the back. “I know what we’re doing next.” After a nice dinner in Vamps, we retired to our apartment. Having finished my evening routines, I came out of the bathroom as Colin was pulling the covers down for us to go to bed. I don’t need to tell you I love the man, you know that already, but seeing him…occasionally it just hits me how much I did love that man. We had done many forms of love and sex; there was nothing taboo or not tried by us, but I walked over to him, turned him around and kissed him deeply, hungrily, which he immediately returned. Leaning in I lowered us both to the bed as I continued to explore his mouth as my hands traveled over his bare chest and sides. It was a few minutes before I stopped leaving both Colin and me a little breathless. “Not that I’m complaining.” Colin smiled as he pulled me to a more comfortable place on the bed. “But what was that for?” I smiled. “That was just me feeling that sudden urge to love you, Colin,” I explained as I scooted to the side of him, but not letting go. “I never knew I could love someone so much. It just builds until I can’t hold it in anymore.” I kissed him again. “I needed a job when I met you. That’s all.” Colin’s eyebrows rose when I said that. “And I hired you.” “And what a job I got!” I grinned as my hand went down his chest and stomach and into his pajama bottoms and caressed what I knew was now stiff there. “The fringe benefits were out of this world. If someone had told me what I’d be doing now…back then…I would have known they were crazy.” Colin chuckled. “And now?” “We’re like pioneers,” I said. “Going into uncharted territory. Let’s face it. You and I are ambassadors going to a foreign country to start talks about a global community. I never would have dreamed this up.” I kissed him again. “But know this,” I said seriously. “I love you, Colin. You may have seen your life as cursed, but in a way…” I thought. “…it was almost like something brought us together, the only way it could. You were given a long life and waited for us to meet. I believe we were meant to be together, Colin. This task we’ve been given; to bring other like us together is almost too important to be chance.” Colin nodded as his lips traveled over my jaw to my neck. “I agree.” He looked at me again with those emerald eyes. “I wasn’t kidding when I said before; my life truly began when we met. After meeting you, I got Wentworth Manor back. I got my daughter back…and that one thing I dreamed of but didn’t think I could get. Someone to love me and be with me that loves me. I love you, Devon.” I felt his hand go down and remove my pajama bottoms and he made love to me, slowly, but saying often as I invited his body into mine, that he loved me. I never doubted he did.
  2. R. Eric

    Chapter 84

    I'm telling you I posted the wrong one, I explained to tonyr
  3. R. Eric

    Chapter 84

    You'll have to read it again tomorrow. I have a virus on my computer that really is a problem. Malware. I labored for a day to get rid of it a post. The correct one will go up in the afternoon. I promise, when I used the other computer it had problems like shutting down for no reason. I finally borrowed Hobie's laptop and it was a chore seeing those dark keys I got it in! The wrong one. Check about 2pm.
  4. Christmas: Part Two The afternoon came and it was dinner time we took my Bronco. My Bronco had the roof for the tree. Don’t worry about scratching the paint. We had a cloth to put down on the roof under the tree. The tree won’t scratch the paint. Before we left, I saw David putting Alik’s jacket on. “Where we go last, it will be cold. You have your gloves in your pockets?” Alik nodded and pulled each a little to show him. “Good!” David kissed him on the forehead and rose. “The forecast is to be minus two degrees.” He glanced at me. “That’s in Celsius…” “I know that’s 28 in Fahrenheit.” I nodded smiling. “Most if not all Europe and other countries use it. Now, kilometers and kind difficult at first, calculating to miles to miles to figure out how long travel would be…that was hard at first. Now, I just…” I shrugged, “know!” Sasha came down looking for the missing person. “Where’s Tony?” “Tony’s making a statement when he goes out anywhere. It’s important to him. First, it was the jeans, which he thought was too casual where we were dining and for where we are going after that.” I grinned. “You know he wants perfection for himself, and me when he feels like he can.” “Sorry,” Tony said as he trotted over, “I was just…” “Creating the perfect look for you.” I chuckled. “And blue, that's not surprising.” I waved at his light blue sweater, dark blue pants with a matching jacket the same color as the pants. “I will say you did it, but you were always perfect to me. Now, you look it!” Tony blushed a little. “You are, too.” He kissed me. “Thank you. Now let’s find out if they can make real Italian food.” Alik got in the backseat between Sasha and David, looking around the Bronco. “Wow, this is a nice truck!” “This is new Bubba and yes, it is.” I nodded looking at Alik who was still looking at the interior. “Buckle up.” I watched Sasha lean to him to help, but waved off his help. “Я понял, Пап.” I’ve got it, Dad. Alik said. “Я знаю, что ты делаешь. Теперь ты мой большой мальчик. Просто... не растут слишком быстро. Позволь мне быть папой изредка.” I know you do. You’re my big boy now. Just...don't grow up too quickly. Let me be Dad occasionally. Sasha said. Alik smiled nodding. ”Конечно, вы всегда будете моим отцом.” Sure, you will always be my Dad. Alik hugged Sasha while they were buckled in, but they were side by side. No problem. Then he hugged David. “You, too, Daddy David!” I drove to the restaurant. I smiled seeing three jacketed men standing near a tall desk and another man dressed as they were walked over to the other three. “See!?” I said to Tony. “Valets!” Tony chuckled. “Which you’ll have use.” I drove up to the men. Getting out I handed my keys to the man who handed me a ticket. I held onto the keys making the man look at me. “I don’t need to tell, but Bubba means a lot to me. Park carefully, please?” The young man, in his mid-twenties, smiled. “If I had the sweet ride, I tell the valets that, too. What year is she?” “He’s 1992.” I laughed. “You see anything feminine on him? It’s a man truck!” I said that last sentences gruffly and pounded my chest once. He chuckled. “No, nothing feminine.” He took the keys. “It’s a classic! He looks brand new! Believe me, I will be careful with this beaut!” “You guys know it will below be freezing tonight?” David asked the valets. They laughed. Then one spoke up. “We’re prepared. Long johns, insulated pants, shirt, sweaters, the insulated jackets, and gloves.” The man parking Bubba put the window down. “And all this moving about, we’ll be warm.” Tony looked at his watch. “We need to go in.” We walked into the restaurant and it was no pizza joint. The place did have pictures of the Colosseum in Rome and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Venice but they were large paintings in frames. The place was elegantly decorated, red carpet, upholstered red chairs, and red tablecloths! The murmur of quiet conversation the clicks of silverware touching china was heard. Almost no one was in jeans, most of the diners wore dress-casual up to suits and nice dresses, it was a place you took someone special on a date! There were families, too, but no kids were running around making noise. The parents wouldn’t allow that here. We saw people waiting for a table to open. Tony walked through some to get to the dark-suited host. “Delveccio, a table for five.” The host nodded. “Of course, sir. Right this way.” He made a mark on something on the desk and took five menus. I could smell wonderful aromas. I even spotted a few from our complex. We sat at a table next to a couple that lived two floors below us. Manuel and his wife Stacy. He was handsome Latino in his mid-forties and Stacy an American blonde in her late thirties. Beautiful. They both smiled at us. “Hello, neighbors!” “Hi, Manual, Stacy!” Tony greeted shaking his hand. He thumbed back at us. “I know you know who these guys are.” Stacy laughed. “We do! Sasha has helped a few times getting the groceries out of my car. And the time I thought I carry three bags up and dropped two all over the elevator. He entered from home he rode down and helped me get in our condo!” She looked at Alik. “Alik is one happy boy, always smiling and cheerful…” I saw the host remove a card that said: “Reserved for the party of Mister Delveccio.” “Enjoy your meal. This is delicious.” Manuel said smiling. “You’re a real Italian, tell me what you think.” “I will,” Tony assured him as we sat down. “You made reservations!?” I asked Tony. “It just opened up!” “You know I hardly ever go anywhere with no reservation.” Tony chuckled. “It’s only now getting dark an earlier reservation before seven. After that, it is date night.” He leaned to me kissing me. “I looked it over online to see it.” “You might have to help me with this menu.” Sasha smiled at David, Tony and me. “I will try it in English, but I still won’t understand what it is.” David smiled. “They speak fluent Italian, ask them! They speak all three languages used in the house!” “He does it better.” Tony nudged me. A young man came up. “Your server is behind me. I’m Josh. I refill glasses and pass bread.” I waggled my eyebrows at Sasha. “That reminds me of somewhere.” Sasha looked up and smirked at me. The waiters all wore dark pants and red vests and red tie. Josh stepped away. A man in his mid-thirties stepped up. “My name’s Clark and I’ll be your waiter tonight. Can start you with a drink or appetizer and what you want to eat?” Tony grinned. “Se ordino in italiano, vuoi capire?” If I order in Italian, would you understand? Clark looked surprised. “I got only the Italian word when you said italiano.” I hit Tony in the head lightly with the menu. “Tony lascialo in pace. Non tutti quelli che lavorano qui parlano italiano, probabilmente. Non essere antipatico.” Tony leave him alone. Not everyone working here speaks Italian, probably. Don't be obnoxious. I growled slightly. “It’s rude to speak a language in front of them when they don’t understand.” Tony smiled putting his arm around me. “My husband was just reminding me of that.” He hugged me with that one arm. I glanced over and saw David’s eyes widen as he read the menu. “Stop it, David.” David looked up. “What?” “You’re looking with those McKenzie's eyes.” I shook my head. “Hell, you could afford to buy every meal for everyone here and yet to come tonight and still that won’t make a dent in your account!” David smiled as he nodded. “You’re right.” I was going to get the Chef’s Choice sirloin with melted horseradish cream, broken bacon pieces, Golabki for Tony made from the Chef’s Choice also. Stuffed cabbage rolls with sirloin steak chopped up, rice, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Sasha was getting Sealed Dill Salmon and David the Pollo del Diavolo Pasta. Devil’s Chicken. Alik wanted pizza, David showed him the pizza and calzones were. They weren’t round pies, but oblong with different sizes for big families. We ordered our drinks, appetizers, soups, salad. I insisted we get the calamari I loved and Tony was asked to order something we would love. He ordered these cheese puffs, not your bag of puffed Cheetos. They were hot and very cheesy. “Have you got something to drink for this big son?” Sasha asked. Clark smiled. “We do! If he doesn’t like it, which no one hasn’t, even adults like it.” He chuckled. “Let me get this in and get those drinks.” We talked quietly until Manuel and Stacy rose from their table. “You can tell me your verdict about this place back where we live.” He said to Tony. “Have a good night, gentlemen. My not having any Italian from my ancestors that I know of, I say what we ate was absolutely fabulous!” He shook hands with Tony. Tony nodded. “I will!” Clark came back with a tray of drinks. Beer for Sasha… not in a beer stein, they were in a tall glass that looked like crystal., sweet tea for David and me, Tony’s predinner wine was in a shorter glass. Then he put the glass in front of Alik. I recognized it. The deep red color and the red cherry resting on the top of the drink. Alik looked at the drink. “What is it?” Alik asked. David smiled. “It’s a drink named after a star that became a big movie star in the 1930s and in the 1940s who rose to stardom at five years old! She’s still she’s popular. Shirley Temple. She could sing and dance at five and made many movies for a decade or more and she’s still alive. She elderly, but still alive.” Alik sipped some and smiled delighted. “This is good!” Now Clark came with our appetizers, each of us got individual ramekins of sauce so we didn’t double dip in one and a small fork was given to use with the appetizers. “This is elegant,” I said to Tony as he nodded smiling as he got some the cheese puffs and calamari, which wasn’t tough, rubbery and overcooked like some places can do it sometimes. These were tender and crisp and absolutely delicious. Steam rose from both appetizers. Alik bit into a cheese puff and fanned his mouth to cool it off. Nothing given to was just put on a plate. They had a good presentation. Placed attractively arranged, any sauce in ramekins. The whole restaurant said elegance. We were asked about desert. Not even Alik looked like he was interested. Clark handed Tony the bill. “You are a great restaurant here. We’ll be back. Now, one thing might be needed.” “What’s that, sir?” Clark asked puzzled. “We might need help going to the car. I am stuffed.” He looked at the rest. “Are you guys stuffed?” We all nodded. Clark chuckled. “It’s what we do. We will help you if needed.” He took Tony’s card and license which he read and handed back and went to pay the bill. I knew Tony. I didn’t even look. He handed back the receipt and Clark’s eyes widened. “I come to Italian restaurants often. I come with forty percent in mind. It can go up or down depending on how the service is.” He got up. “You, my friend, earned much more. We will be back. I promise.” “Thank you, Mr. Delveccio!” Clark said happily. “We have an excellent lunch menu, too. Do come back!” “You can count on it…and the name’s Tony.” He pointed at each of us. “Mitch, Sasha, Alik and David.” We went to the coat room where he gave the ticket to the girl manning it. They didn't want coats to hang on the back of chairs. The girl nodded and went told us just a sec. We put our coats on and went to the four valets we’d seen when we got there. I was pulling my ticket to the young man who parked my Bronco. He shook his head. “I know where that sweet ride of yours is.” He ran to get it taking my keys off the hook in that tall thing they put customers keys in. We were on our way to our next stop. David leaned forward and asked Tony. “If you will tell me, what did you tip Clark?” “I paid for the meal twice.” Tony simply shrugged. “I saw the prices. How much was it?” David asked. “Just over three hundred. I added with the total making it six hundred and fifty.” Tony chuckled. “What!?” Davis balked. “He was good, I admit it, but why?” Tony turned more in the passenger seat. He smiled at David. “Do you think he’ll forget us? Not be so pleased to see us? It’s also an incentive to keep it going and do the best job. It’s a win, win!” “How does your money increase when you spend as you do?” David asked. “I work.” Tony chuckled. “I still earn a commission with those I do investing for. My own investments like those stocks split for you, split for Mitch and me.” “What about insider trading?” David asked. “I never do that,” Tony said seriously. “Insider trading is would be if I invest, based insider information by given before made it goes public to make more profit. When it’s public knowledge anyone can invest, even me. I don’t do that for any client.” Tony grinned again. “I buy the stocks early when I feel it will go up and get better profits. One I got at 6. That split, split and split again!” “Oh, okay.” David slid back in his seat. We got to the Omni. All of downtown was decorated for Christmas. Lights lining the streets. Ribbons of red tied to lampposts with green garland giving all downtown a Christmas feeling. “Why are we here?” Alik asked as we were getting out. I handed my keys to the man that was one of the valets tonight. “You’ll see.” I looked at Tony. “See? More valets!” Tony chuckled pulling me to him and squeezing me and left his arm around me. Walking into the hotel lobby, Alik’s mouth dropped open at what he saw and gasped. The giant Christmas tree in the center of the circular mosaic tile rose through the upstairs halfway through the second floor, but clearly seen up to the large star on top, the tree was decorated and sparkled. Lights I was sure, ornaments hung everywhere. Silver garland wrapped from bottom to top. There was green garland sparkling with tiny lights you couldn’t see that looked to held by the red ribbons. It looked like a magical tree. There was the green garland that also spackled, the red ribbon seemed to hold it up. I, too, was feeling that swell feeling the holiday magic now. “Вау.” Alik said almost reverently. “You’re right, it’s wow.” Sasha agreed also a little stunned. “They even have a special station that has hot chocolate, hot apple cider and a special spiced hot tea they make once a year for Christmas.” Tony pointed out to them. We went and Alik’s eyes widened again over to the left. He rushed over to the display set up. It was a little town all set up to celebrate Christmas with a miniature train and mean tiny train I forget what classification it was, everything matched to scale, making the town look bigger. Snow had fallen, the lake frozen and skaters were really moving in fancy moves of figure eights, spins and just skating with that special one. Some holding hands or even alone. The snow coverage reflected in what was worn. The people were dressed in jackets, scarfs. The train stopped at the town’s station. The went around the town and went into a tunnel to go to the even tinier houses in the distance and came out another tunnel. The h0uses we could see were all decorated with lights and even a tiny Christmas tree and the large window in front. The people on the street were of course not moving, there were cars on the streets that didn’t move one had a Christmas tree on the roof. This was a Courier and Ives town moment somewhat frozen in time. It really added magic. Then a choral started singing “Christmas Bells” adding more magic. It was a fast song, diction was needed and they were good! The Jingle Bells began. “I’ll say it. Wow.” David said. “There’s more,” I said grinning. “More?” Sasha asked. “They’ve done it for many years before I was born and they improve it every year!” I said grinning. “It’s a cultural event by everyone.” “The who, wko are Jewish?” Sasha asked. “And more!” Tony chuckled. We got our hot drinks in cups that were sealed to prevent spilling. Even those paper cup covers to keep from burning our hands. We walked down the first floor where there a lot more trees arranged down the hall as people looked at admired what was there. We came upon one and both Alik and Sasha looked puzzled at the tree. There were a lot of seven candle thingies, each were the red on the left and green on the right and the single candle in the middle African masks, ornaments in different shades of brown that went from light brown to solid black. “What’s that?” Alik asked. “It’s a Kwanzaa tree,” I said shrugging. “But Kwanzaa isn’t a holiday.” David objected. “It’s not even a religion!” I turned to David. “But happens during the holidays.” I smiled. “There is no Kwanzaa tree really.” I pointed to the sign that told who put it up. The Charleston Kwanzaa Group. “You can’t combine Kwanzaa and any religion. They’d have to have two separate trees.” “Huh,” David grunted. We moved on until we reached on elegantly decorated but had this old lady by the tree. “Who’s that?” Alik asked frowning. Tony chuckled. “That…is the Italian Santa.” “But she’s a lady!” Alik said the obvious reason she couldn’t be Santa. “No, she isn’t Santa. She’s Bafana.” Tony nodded seeing Alik’s confusion. “She comes to the home bringing gifts of the baby Jesus presents because she was too busy cleaning the house to go with the Wise Men when they first came to her. We have a version of Santa now, but she, St, Nicholas, and Santa all come, but she is Christmas. Delivering candy and gifts to the good children and coal, onions and garlic to naughty children. It sounds like what Santa does. She was Santa before Santa arrived in Italy.” We saw a silver tree with a Star of David at the top that was silver and blue in a line going through the star. There were little Stars all over the tree, blue dradles, there were blue ornaments and little blue lights. It was a beautiful tree. Then Alik ran over to one smiling large. Alik pointed at the big figure like Bafana had been, life-sized. “That’s Ded Moroz!” “Sure, Father Frost,” Tony said. Father Frost, is the English words for Ded Moroz. Unlike our view of Santa, this man was much thinner and worn blue, he did wear red sometimes, but even his long coat looked very different than Santa’s red suit. “I think you know these people,” I said to Sasha pointed at the sign that told who did the tree. Written in large letters in English, below that it was written in Russian in smaller letters, but you could read it. There were several churches listed that were Eastern Orthodox and that one in Summerville that was Russian. “You and Alik are definitely not the not the only Russians in town,” I said smiling at them. Then it was time to go. We got refills of our coffees and hot chocolate. Where we were going, we’d be outside a few minutes to an hour. We each had to agree on the tree. We got to this tree lot. They boasted the finest quality trees in Charleston. (With prices to verify that.) We’d gotten several from here since we found them. Alik got out and again, his eyes widened knowing what happened here. “But it’s not time to decorate!” Alik said surprised but enjoyed the warm breath that made his breath visible and exhaled to make more. “Ah, but when it happens on the eighth, we’ll already when it is!” Tony said happily. “And with tree up, we’ll be inspired to decorate when the day comes!” I said brightly. “Then we can enjoy my favorites! Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch, and many others!” Alik smiled at that. “You already know it’s Mitch and my favorite season!” Tony said. Sasha and David laughed, then leaned over and smiled at his son. “Now, I am going to be Daddy.” He chuckled. “Put your gloves on and this.” He pulled a thick red cap with a thick white border that would keep his ears warm. He slid the cap on to cover the ears. “I’m warm now,” Alik said. “Now. When your ears get cold, it will hurt when I thump your ear if you don’t.” Sasha told him. “Obey your Dad.” He said smiling. “It’s cold! Let’s do this!” Tony said loud making Alik smile again. A man in his late forties or early fifties, his thick fur-lined hat hid his dark and greying hair. He approached smiling holding his hand out to shake hands. “Delveccio, right?” “We are, Kyle! It’s Tony, remember?” Tony nodded shaking his hand. “We need another of those ten-foot trees.” “We have them,” Kyle said smiling and walked us in further. He showed us two, but Tony rejected them both. “What was wrong with that tree?” David asked pointing as Kyle went to get another one. “It was fine!” “Fine.” Tony nodded with a frown. “Trees have a personality. The right one will speak to me saying, I’m your tree!!” He spread his arm to indicate the other trees. Sasha leaned forward, smiled at me saying to me. “I know they have excellent medicine here. Can’t he take something like…analysis?” He chuckled. “He won’t go,” I said, then is a gruff voice I said. “I wouldn’t let him go!” I put my arms around Tony and put his around me smiling. “I love Tony, especially this Tony now!” Tony chuckled at me. Kyle came back with another tree. I swear, I almost heard the angelic chorus singing that long ah when something miraculous happened for Tony, and me, as well. No gaps or spaces, but a full tree with no occasional upper branch sticking out from the others. “Tell me you don’t hear the call from him saying, I’m your tree!” Tony waved at the tree. “I sure do!” Alik spoke up quickly. “We’re getting that one!” “Tony grinned and shrugged. “Majority rules.” He went for his wallet. “No,” Sasha said chuckling. “We’ll get this.” “You can afford it,” I said to them. David grinned and handed his Platinum Express Card and license to the man. “How much is it?” He leaned next to me. “For the tip.” “Three hundred dollars,” Kyle said. That McKenzie training kicked in, I saw him push it down again and quickly said. “Run it for six hundred.” He said like that because I knew, if he thought about it more, that training would surface again. Kyle smiled. “Thank you…” he read the card and license, “Mr. McKenzie?” He asked a little surprised and looked at us. “You two are related, I noticed the resemblance when you got here. Pretty closely related, too.” I nodded. “Yes, we are!” I gave David a squeeze shaking him lightly. “Just breath.” I smiled. “Or should Sasha use his?” “His, mine, it’s the same damned account!” David said exasperated. I chuckled and waved at Kyle returned smiling. “It’s too late now, cuz.” Tony and Sasha went to put the cloth on the roof shredding it evenly. Kyle smiled. “The same way as last year?” “Absolutely.” I nodded. He went to get the tree ready for transport. “You’re taking the tree on your Bronco!?” Alik asked me in disbelief. “That’s a big tree!” I chuckled patting him on the shoulder. “I did last year and the year before and before...” It took a few minutes for Kyle to wrap the tree in. The man came back. “Oh, I remember what you want.” He handed me the tree and raced off to get the needed item. Then trotted back with two seven or eight foot four by fours he used when bringing the trees in place and from tipping over. Damage with these trees would cost him. He didn’t stack them on top of the other trees. He would transport them in two big cargo trucks standing the trees up and supported by these boards. This extra care allowed him to charge more. David and I helped him put the boards on the almost parallel close in front, just over the roof on the front passenger side but increase the space between them over the tail end on the passenger side behind my seat and extended four or five from the back of Bubba. The tree was placed gently and the happy man with us quickly strapped it securely and secured the lower part with a long stretchy belt that hooked on that curvy part above the tires. Not so strong it would hurt Bubba. He did again on the other side of that curvy part. Then over the rear of the window on Tony’s and my on opposite sides and again on the front side. He bound the rest hanging over the back and securing the tree in place to help me see out the back window and causing the tree to bend or even break. He stapled two of those red strips warning other drivers we were hauling. “Let’s get our tree home,” Tony said happily going to the passenger side as did Sasha to get in as David was about to help Alik in when this strange man with long stringy, unwashed hair came from behind Bubba, pushed David into me and pulled Alik to him and putting a knife to Alik’s neck threateningly. “Your money. Give it to me!” He said quickly. My old instincts kicked in. I quickly bent his wrist with the knife away from Alik. I didn’t use anything nonviolent with him. I used the pinch between his thumb and forefinger making him drop the knife. But I did the kick to his right leg hearing the crack from his knee. His wrist still held. I used the heel of my hand to his nose, again hearing the crack as he dropped to the ground which I held him in place as he nursed his broken nose and broken knee. David pulled Alik to him as Sasha and Tony came around quickly. “Shit, Mitch!” David said with wide eyes on me. “That was…incredible!” Sasha hugged me quickly and went to Alik and David, hugging them both with Alik between them. Tony had his phone calling 911. “I know what you’re jonesing for, your affect tells me what.” I leaned closer, but he smelled so foul. I shouted. “How you can threaten a child…how dare you? He was getting excited about this time, but your need trumps all else. Well, you’re going to jail, you can deal with your withdrawal in custody! They will send you to mandatory rehab!” The sirens were heard getting louder as police got closer. Kyle came back quickly. “You guys okay?” “Yes.” David smiled at me. “With this he-man ex-cop no problem. He scared Alik, but he’s unhurt.” Kyle looked at the man. “Oh, him.” He looked at me. “You did this? Remind me not to piss him off.” He told Tony. “You broke my leg and nose.” The man groaned. “Want me to break an elbow like your knee?” I growled. “I certainly can.” The police pulled to a quick stop and got out, but not reaching for the holsters. Both police walked over. “Tell us what happened.” The policeman said. “This perp assaulted us demanding money using a knife on Alik here to coerce our compliance. The knife is right there with only his prints.” I looked around. “I don’t suppose there are cameras watching this area.” “No.” The cop driver in his late thirties and his partner who looked to be in his late twenties nodded smiling. “You’re a cop?” The partner asked smiling. I stuck my hip out a little. “Until this perp shot me making me get a prosthetic ball and socket.” “Ouch.” The first one said as his partner winced. “But still can kick ass.” The partner said. “He broke my leg and nose!” The man on the groaned. “Cuff him.” The first was a Sargent the worn only one strip so a corporal. “He really stinks. Put him somewhere well vented.” I laughed. “I feel the need for a shower with my limited contact.” The corporal bent over to turn the man over and turned his head. “Peee…uw! Now, I need a shower.” He pulled the man up and took him limping on his right leg. “How long since your last shower? A month? October or September?” The Sargent smiled his partner. “Put him back and let the window down a little in back and the front windows down. I’ll get begin gathering statements.” He smiled as I gave distance from the others. “Where are you going?” Tony asked loud to be heard. “Giving a statement!” I shouted back. “It’s procedure!” The Sargent nodded and brought up the clipboard. He was a lefty but thought to the right to write. He asked my full name which was verified with my license and asked what, which I told him in detail. The Sargent smiled. “Nice to take a statement who understands the procedure.” He walked back to the others as the corporal was taking a statement from David away from the others. He did the come here gesture to Tony which he did. I walked over to Sasha who holding Alik who had been more startled than scared. It happened so fast he didn’t register what happened. “I hope that man didn’t ruin your Christmas feelings.” Alik looked at me smiling at me. “That was so COOL! You were like Alexi Morozov, the super-agent that really kicks ass!” Sasha raised his eyebrows and looked down on his son. “Alik!” He said surprised. “It’s all of our faults. He hears all of us use that kind of language, he was bound to pick it up.” I smiled and shrugged. “Yes, with us occasionally.” He said to Alik smiling at him. “Two of the guys back in the restaurant would use this word in every other sentence, if not every sentence!” David chuckled as he came over with the corporal. The corporal pointed at Sasha smiling. “You’re next, big man!” Sasha went with him kissed Alik on his forehead neat below where Alik’s cap came to just above his eyebr0ws. “But you still feel Christmas?” I asked. “Your Dad, Daddy David, Tony and I won’t let anything to harm you.” “Yes, I feel it.” Alik waved that off. “He didn’t scare you?” David asked. “He did, like when someone jumps out saying boo.” He chuckled. “It takes more than stinky there to scare me. I only saw him after you put him on the ground…you were just as tough as Alexi Morozov! The agent that no one can deny what he needs to do. He kicks…” then he paused and smiled, “butt, takes names and always wins in the end.” He began throwing his fists straight out rapidly to show us. The Sargent came over and pointed to Kyle. “Did you see what happen?” “Not really.” Kyle shook his head. “I saw they were still here, I came back thinking a strap had pulled loose. By the time I got here,” he pointed at the car, “you can take this down.” He took his license out and gave it to the Sargent. “Here’s my name and address. I’ll give my number, but I’m here for another two and a half weeks. Or until my inventory runs out.” He thumbed over his shoulder. “I have plenty of trees so I’ll be here that two and a half weeks.” He chuckled. “We’ve seen him a lot since we came down the Saturday after Thanksgiving. He panhandles, he has the little cardboard sign that says help me. He also tells people he just wants to go home. No one wants to get close to him.” “Thank you, Mr. Walters.” The Sargent wrote. “Actually, we’ve seen him with his sign in several parts of the city as we would patrol the areas, but your additional testimonial will help.” He glanced at his partner who was finishing with Sasha. He looked at a Cadillac Escalade pulled in. “Another customer. Again, thank you, Mr. Walters.” Kyle shrugged. “I want to keep them as loyal customers.” He pointed to us. “You come back.” “Absolutely,” Tony swore as Kyle returned to his forest of trees. He turned a hugged me, but I kissed him, not quickly but a little deeper. “They’re trained to be observant, Tony.” I placed my left hand next to his. “Our matching wedding rings.” I hugged and kissed him quickly. Tony chuckled. “Okay, now explain the procedure with taking us apart to question us.” “To keep us from influencing the others. They look for individual testimonies. Compare them to see different observations. Too different and inconsistencies raise flags. The same wording by all raises the flags, too, meaning it was rehearsed. Conspiracies and all that.” Tony chuckled. “I’ve seen you in action once.” He put his mouth near my ear and said quietly. “You good. It’s a shame you couldn’t stay in. You are a real badass cop and ex-cop.” Sasha and the corporal came back. “Mind if I speak briefly to your son?” The Sargent asked Sasha. “I’ll do it right here, you, as his father needs to be here.” “Sure.” As he stood next to David, Alik right up next to them both. The Sargent stooped a little and first asked his name and age. When Alik answered, the Sargent’s eyes widened in surprised saying he thought Alik was approaching nine! He asked if Alik was frightened or scared. Alik said it was exciting. How his Uncle Mitch was like Alexi Morozov, the super-agent he loved kicking Mr. Stinky’s butt. “It was exciting!” He said excited, which we all heard. The Sargent laughed looking at Sasha. “I see where he gets the height from.” He assured us. “This is really an open and shut case. We have your names and numbers. We’ll take care of him now. We’ll hose him down with some very strong soap. Enjoy your evening.” They got back in the car. Sasha opened the door getting Alik in first and went around to get in. David got in next then Tony and me. David leaned forward. “I didn’t even catch their names! I want to send them a thank you note.” I chuckled. “Sargent Bernstein and Corporal Cooper. I even have their badge numbers in here.” I tapped my head. “What else did you observe?” Tony asked grinning. “Well, Sargent Bernstein is married,” I said. “Sargent Bernstein removed his glove from his left hand to write. I saw his left finger had a wedding ring. Corporal Cooper was right-handed, so I didn’t see. So, I don’t know.” I started Bubba. “Damn,” David said quietly. “You could be a private investigator now.” I shook my head. “No, I loved the hotel business.” I took Tony’s hand. “I really love my hunky Italian husband. I don’t want to be shot again or leaving Tony.” I kissed Tony quickly. “Police have a tough, often thankless job. I don’t want to be one now.” “Let’s get this bad boy home,” Tony said happily. “See? One moment it’s a puppy and now a bad boy?” Sasha groused. “When you taught me to cuss in Russian, you had many words for a certain word.” I smiled at Sasha. Sasha looked at Alik. “I had to! How would he know what it is when someone called him the words?” He asked Alik. “Wow! My Christmas Tea from the Omni is still warm!” David said surprised. “Insolated cups and holders. Everyone buckled up?” I said, glanced behind me at the one I knew had not. Alik looked down. “Sorry, Uncle Mitch.” He put his seatbelt on. “Let’s go home.” I put Bubba in first gear and was off. It wasn’t too long when I drove into our garage. We used that cart to bring stuff up, be it groceries, luggage or even our ten-foot Christmas tree. The cloth, too to be laundered. Getting it up we took the freight elevator where movers brought several appliances. Even a concert grand piano! We put the four by fours in the bin that fit. Every resident in this building put their garbage in it. Even with two garbage days in the week. Tuesday’s and Friday’s, it got pretty full. And no smelly city or county truck. We had our own! A special hauler took the bend outside where our garbage own special garbage truck took it up and dumped it in with all the other buildings garbage. We had a recycling bend which was a little smaller. Not everyone here recycled. We did. We got the tree upstairs leaving it outside by our door to get the tree stand on. Sasha cleaned off the cart and David took it downstairs. Sasha smiled pointed at the front door. “You need to get in the house. It’s cold outside.” He told Alik. “I want to help,” Alik complained. “You will if you want to,” Tony said. “We bring it in, we take the ropes off, you can help get the rope to throw them in the garbage. That will be a great help.” Sasha opened the door and pushed Alik in. “I’ll even make you another hot chocolate.” He watched as Alik walked in. “And take your cap, gloves, and jacket off.” David returned and we got the stand we were using wide enough to keep the tree upright attached it to the truck on the bottom and the four of us carried in the house making sure to bring the wide stand slightly at angle avoiding any collision with the wall. Alik looked where we were going between the couch and the TV. He slid the coffee table away on the rug it was on. We got it in the place away from the fireplace in front our balcony windows. Clipped the ropes hold it together tossing them to the side, which Alik picked them up. We did still have on gloves to raise it in place. Then our Russian Mr. Clean. Said he would be right back taking a broom and dustpan and cordless vacuum to catch those dust bunnies under things like a bed against the wall where they like to hide the dark there. Not in Sasha’s house!! Alik frowned. “It’s doesn’t look like the one we wanted.” He moaned. “It’s not the same tree.” Tony glanced at Alik. “But he is! He was just traumatized with the ride on top of Bubba.” He held up a finger. “Now we add the Delveccio’s Magic Potion.” Alik’s eyebrow rose. “I’m going to be eight, Uncle Tony.” Saying he wasn’t gullible. “Doubt me!?” Tony grinned. “You can watch me make it.” He walked toward the counter but stopped him from getting too close. “Stand there. If I don’t do it right, I can hurt you.” Alik looked surprised. “How?” He was about to come closer, but Tony stopped him with a raised finger of warning. “Because, if I don’t do it right, I make a gas that could make you sick.” Tony smiled and got our two-gallon water pitcher and got what he needed. Filled the pitcher a less than halfway up and poured a little vinegar and lemon juice in the water. He took the pitcher and dumped it in the large bowl the tree stood in. “I’m not done if I added the next ingredient at the wrong time you may get lightheaded or dizzy. You know those words?” Alik nodded quickly. “Sure. The school nurses asks everyone that falls especially if we hurt our heads.” “That’s good.” Tony smiled. “I have to say; your English is so good now! I’m very impressed!” He’d filled the pitcher so it would complete the gallon of water. Then he put enough he poured a little from a bottle of Clorox, didn’t measure, he did it so often, he knew. He took a full bottle of corn syrup and poured the whole bottle in. He went to the cabinet and pulled a can of Sprite and poured that in and then stirred in together. “If I’d added the Clorox with the vinegar and lemon juice then there would be that toxic gas.” They walked back when Sasha came back in. “Okay,” Sasha said. “Unless absolutely necessary, I am not going out there again tonight!” He took his jacket off and thumbed to the fireplace. “Fire anyone?” “Of course.” Tony smiled. “Uncle Tony made a potion for the tree!” Alik said happily. “Don’t tell Uncle Tony, we had one very similar…” he looked at Tony, “in Russia!” He said loud. Tony shrugged not bothered at all. “Great minds think alike.” Tony poured the new pitcher in the water. “No dizziness?” He asked Alik who shook his head. “Whew!” He hugged Alik. “I did it right!” He looked with pride in our tree. “By tomorrow night or Monday morning, he’ll recover and he will be the tree we saw!” I walked to Tony and whispered. “That was a little dramatic.” “You saw his face.” Tony smiled. “He loved it. He’s had an exciting day!” “All this excitement may make it hard for him to sleep,” I said. “We can help with that.” He looked at his watch. “He gets a later bedtime on Friday and Saturday. We have time.” “I’ll get the hot chocolate after I start the fire.” He looked at us. “How about joining David and me with a cup of Chamomile Tea?” He jutted quickly his eyes at Alik and looked pleading. I loved Sasha trying to d0. “Sure!” I said positively. Great minds did think alike. “Alik,” David said to Alik who was walking slowly around the tree, “you’re a big boy now. Why not some adult drink instead? It’s really good.” “Really?” Alik asked. “Dad let some his beer once, I didn’t like that.” He frowned. “I remember that.” “No.” David chuckled. “Nothing like that.” He gave a scrunched-up face to Alik and shook his head. “What was it you said about it, Mitch?” I grinned. “That it smelled like horse piss and though I’ve never drunk horse piss, I think it’s the same.” Alik laughed quietly. “This tea’s sweet, delicious and warm,” David said. “Would I lie?” “No!!” Alik he bounced a little. “I’ll try it!” Sasha mouthed a thank you. The fireplace had wood waiting. We never used those gas powered lighter. Our fireplace can use gas alone or provide fire to get a wood fire going more quickly. We loved that crackle and smell of a wood fire. Sasha went to make the tea. I went with Sasha with a tsk, tsk shaking my head. “Drugging your son. For shame.” “Alik is a calm boy,” Sasha said logically. “I watch his sugar intake, he’s not hyperactive. With the excitement of the day, it will take a while for him to relax enough to go to sleep. I’m helping him do it faster and gently.” “You are a very good father, Sasha.” “I love him, I do it naturally.” He got our big teapot out and filled it for four sizable and one regular mug of tea. Put the bags in and stood with his back to the fire sticking his backside closer and hands behind him. “Some things are still cold. This helps.” He looked at Alik. “Other than being exciting, did you have a good day?” “I was fun. I loved everything from our great dinner, the Omni and getting the tree!” Alik smiled. “I had a great day.” I could see he would have a hard time going to sleep. The tea kettle whistled. Sasha poured the tea. He waved at our mugs. “There’s honey, cinnamon sticks, lemon…you know what you like.” He was working on Alik’s mug adding a little sugar, honey, a cinnamon stick, and a little cream. “He takes after me a lot, it’s how I like it!” He smirked at us. We all made our teas and took the teas in the room and dimmed the lights. The windows let the night in a dark sky with that triangle of the tree casting a darker triangle on the sky. I turned on our sound system and turned to a soft station that was playing easy Christmas music. Yes, I was furthering the relaxation mood. “I think you need to relax.” Sasha smiled as we sat on the sofa that was long enough, he didn’t crowd us. He patted the space between himself and me. “And drink this. You had a busy day.” He handed Alik his mug. “This mug had silicon around the whole mug, but it is hot. Don’t burn yourself.” He got up and went to the kitchen and came back with an ice cube and dropped it in. “This will help, but don’t stir it.” It took about fifteen minutes, Alik began yawning. Fifteen minutes more and he was asleep against Sasha. “What you both did today,” Sasha whispered to Tony and me, “you didn’t like being thanked at first, but I have to. You gave a day he will remember all his life! What you did, Mitch, thank you, thank you.” He rose carefully, picking Alik up. I’ll clean that up in the morning. That tea working on me.” He smiled. It was on us, too. We never left dirty dishes in the sink. We wash them or put them in the dishwasher. I took Tony’s hand as we went to our room. “I love you, Tony,” I said with a feeling I never had. “I know. I love you.” He looked puzzled a first. Married people can read the minds of each other. “Oh, thank God. I don’t have the energy either.” To be continued
  5. R. Eric

    Chapter 83

    Sure I use VA, I see then once a month. Corrected the errors. Good Night.
  6. R. Eric

    Chapter 83

    Sorry, typing is more difficult now. I'll correct it.
  7. Christmas, Part One Sasha came home with Alik who ran to Tony and me hugging us happily and asked us. “You are going yell at me again today?” Sasha’s eyebrows rose slightly. “You want them to yell at you?” Sasha asked. “Why?” “Sure,” Alik smiled looking at his father, “it’s how they express love. They only yell for no reason with people they really love.” Sasha chuckled. “Okay. Ты знаешь, что делать. Вы можете насладиться хорошим русским ужином, когда папа Давид получит дом.” You know what to do. You can enjoy a good Russian dinner when Daddy David gets home. Alik smiled. “Я чувствую запах борща.” I smell borscht. “Yippy!” He nearly shouted and hurried upstairs. Sasha chuckled. “It’s one of his favorites.” He grinned at us. “I get yelled for the same reason?” “Sure, especially when you become that Родившийся Русский!!” I shot back. Stubborn Russian. Sasha mocked surprise. “Me!? Never!” “We can take care of the exchange of money now if you want?” Tony smiled. “It will be a digital check from your account to ours. At the DMV, they prefer proof…not always, but I prefer proof to present.” He kissed me. “Back in a minute or two.” He put his arm around Sasha and gave that manly one-armed squeeze that friends, chums, and family give man to man. “We love you, suborn Russian and all. You’re one of our two favorite Russians.” Their voices faded as they went into the computer room. There were six in the house now. Tony’s computer had a bigger memory and ram for when he works. We had one in our bedroom one in the family one in Sasha’s room, one laptop David took to school and even Alik’s room…all connected in our own private network. I could send even a message when dinner’s ready to all of them. Alik never needed the message. He was always down before anybody anxious to eat, whether Tony or I cooked. I was pleased we had settled into a happy and contented household. Alik was now a happy boy completely comfortable with us now. He was home! He spoke to his mother, Tasha, often once or twice a week. I hoped there weren’t problems. Sasha hadn’t said there were. I knew there were about ten million since the rise of the Soviet Government unit it fell apart. The Soviets made it difficult to do it, but it got it done. Now, they were not communist. But it couldn’t be that hard now, could it? Then I heard. “That’s the price! Keep being a stubborn and I’ll reduce it to a dollar!” Tony yelled. Then Sasha’s voice came loud. “I don’t want to cheat you! Вы большой думмии!!” Ya big dummy. “You've asked below that Blue Book in value!” “It’s my car, you want it, you pay my price!” Tony said louder. “Why you so generous?” Sasha asked softer but still heard. “I just am, and you’re family!” The tone was softer, but he was doing that light strangulation thing he did with Nick, Al, Mike…everyone. Even me when a wasn’t comfortable with clothes and the price of what he bought him and me. It was more grabbing their neck and just shaking them lightly. I looked down at what I wore. I was still a jeans and t-shirt guy. I still had my Levies, Wranglers, and t-shirt. Tennis shoes! I hurried in my room taking my clothes off and put them in the hamper. The clothes I got were designer, Armani from Milan. They made great jeans…and come on…they feel great and fit well. Easy to put on and they were never hung over a hanger, but clipped by soft clips to save misshaped according to Tony. I got a shirt… “No wires ever!!!” Remember Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest? Tony wasn’t anyway like that. It was hung on a hanger that would also no misshape the clothes. Now the shirt was…I remember the color, it was Mulberry. The reason I remembered was my chuckling was due to…we gay men were in the past called fruits. A fruit in a color of fruit. It was dark purple and not a t-shirt exactly, it had a small color but not like a polo shirt. It was more comfortable than a t-shirt. I came out as Tony and Sasha were still talking near the island where the stove and crockpots were. “…will be taxes and registration and insurance…” Tony looked up and his eyes widened a little. Jeans night?” “Sure.” I nodded. “Anyway, I’ll help you out with that. We’ll get the insurance started now that you bought the car. The title transfer at the DMV, the registration and I need to talk to me working on the house a message. You can see what we’re doing there. We’ll have to take your car. My roadster is cramped for three.” “They aren’t really backseats, even if you fold up that thingy in the back the seats are this big!” I held my hands a foot apart. “Being the shortest one of the three of us, I’d have to sit there, there’s no leg room.” I then said with an exaggerated Southern accent. “I ain’t a sittin’ back there!” Sasha chuckled. “No problem, I’ll take you two anywhere you want to go!” “We’ll take care of the title and stuff first. Then we’ll go to our island.” Tony grinned at me. “Bessinger’s twice in one week, is that too soon for you?” “Hell, no!” I said happily. “I’d eat it every day if I could!” “That sounds great!” Sasha grinned clapping his hands in anticipation. “And when we go to Manhattan…do you have a thick coat?” I asked. “The ones I had in Russian were too bulky to bring on the ship or plane.” Sasha shrugged. “You’ll also need a couple of nice suits, both you and David.” Tony nodded. “And Alik!” “Why?” Sasha asked. “For one important reason, you’ll be cold if you don’t and the three of you will need if for the shows and Broadway,” Tony said logically. “You want to sit still at a show on Broadway?” “Has he ever seen The Lion King?” Tony asked. “Sure! I sent Tasha and Alik a DVD player and money for her to buy some movies.” Sasha chuckled. “Tasha asked if they could be worn out, he watched it so much. He’s seen that.” I remembered the advertising for this new show when it came out…those props with the animals heard samples of the singing. “Not like this.” “Hey, Erin’s bringing Peter,” Tony said happily. “He’s about the same age as Alik! We can take him, too!” “But first is the Rochettes’ Holiday Show! They will be will be spellbound!” I promised. Then the front door opened and David came in. “One more day of class and I,” he put briefcase and case for his laptop down, “will be here,” he kissed Sasha, “a whole month!” “Yea!!” Sasha hugged him tightly. “You won’t mind getting new duds, will you?” I said to David. David’s face got a look, not understanding. So, we explained it again why. He looked sort of happy, but cautious. Tony did the strangling thing to David shaking him slightly. “What is it with you three? Mitch was hard to come around, but he did it.” He shook his head. “You and Sasha are millionaires!” He emphasized each syllable. “Mill…ion…aires.” He shook his head again. “Your lives really didn’t change after the money. Sasha still cooks and cleans…pretty damned well, I will add…took and got Alik…I assume you’re still going to the Cordon Bleu still.” He turned to David. “Your tuition is paid and books, law books are easily paid.” Tony grinned. “Guys, when I last checked you had eight and a quarter million dollars…soon to be eight and a half million!” He raised a finger. “And! There is a new company about to go on the market, you’ll make millions and millions of dollars!” Sasha’s and David’s eyes grew. “What are they selling? What about this company tells you it will sell? What tells you this company reputable?” David asked. Tony smiled and looked at me. “I think the Delkenzie Company is reputable.” I nodded. “I think we are.” “Your company!?” Sasha said surprised. “Selling what?” “More of those devices, like we gave to you, the translators!” Tony said. “We pretty well have Russian…and Ivan Belov is doing more input in Moscow!” I said proudly. “The Raging Russian Bull!? He’s investing!?” Sasha balked. “The guy that gave Alik the poster and the mask!?” David asked. “He’s made a lot of money as the Raging Russian Bull. He will be a partner in this!” Tony chuckled. “Which you can be. He’s the most sought out wrestler in Russia and all Eastern Europe!” “Мы его хорошие, дорогие и лучшие друзья сейчас!!” We're his good, dearest and best friends now! I added with a smile, imitating his deep voice and loud a slightly gruff speech. Tony laughed. “The point is you can be partners, too as investors! I guarantee these stocks are going to split and split again. You can use those dividends to buy more shares!” “Wait, doesn’t work for just English and Russian?” David asked. “Yours does.” Tony nodded. “But we have people out there who speak several languages adding French, German, Spanish, even the Netherlands. Soon we will have Finnish, Norwegian and even Islandic! Even all the languages of China like Mandarin, Hunaness, Hakka and the dozen languages!” “Doesn’t the new one for Russian have the scanner to translate written English to written Russian?” I asked Tony. “Yes, it has a screen they can scan anything in English to whatever language they get the language they use.” Tony nodded grinning. “Wow,” David said quietly. “We’re getting in on the ground floor?” “You’re getting in as partners! It will be a company with all of us getting ownership.” I corrected. “Which will increase if you put the money you make back in! You can send one to Tasha or two for Egor and family!” We heard a thud as Alik jumped the last three steps and raced over to David. “Daddy David!” “Hi, Champ!” David scooped Alik up kissed him, hugging him tightly. He groaned a little. “You are getting heavy. You could skip a meal.” “Not tonight! Dad made one of my very favorite dishes. Borscht!” He said brightly. “Never had it. It’s really good?” David asked. “He makes the best!!” Alik said confidently. “Алик, ты знаешь, что не надо бегать и прыгать в доме..” Alik, you know you shouldn’t run and jump in the house. Sasha scolded softly. Alik frowned. “Извините, пожалуйста.” I’m sorry. (To save me from Carpal tunnel. We all spoke Russian for a while.) “He loves me and excited to see me,” David said as Alik nodded quickly “Sure.” He ruffled his son’s hair. He glanced at his watch. “Well, dinner starts in about an hour. Set the table, energetic one, please?” Alik was let down and he got the napkins, knives, and forks from the drawer. “Uncle Mitch, why is it that you set your forks on the left, you and Uncle Tony don’t, but I see Daddy David, the teachers at school switch forks to theirs to right?” “I think when the colonists came from England, they wanted to separate from England as much as possible so they switched to other customs including eating.” I shrugged and smiled. “There’s a great story about that called,” I switched to English as I didn’t know the Russian words, “Gulliver’s Travels and one of the four stories and the most popular is about Lilliput and Blefuscu.” I went back to Russian. “Those two countries were at war because one broke the eggs on the bottom and the other broke the eggs on the top.” I chuckled. “That’s silly! Who cares?” Alik asked. “It’s supposed to be silly, a parody to show how silly people can be with for the silliest reasons.” Tony came over to me kissing me. “I’m glad Sasha’ speaking Russian more now with Alik.” “To keep Alik Russian.” I nodded. “To keep me from losing what I’ve learned!” Tony chuckled. It wasn’t long before he got the bowls Alik knew we’d use and dished out the borscht steaming hot filling the room with the wonderful smell. He opened the other and the roast smelled like a roast. What was Russian about this roast? Then I saw the sour cream. Sasha put some on the slices of roast. They used sour cream in many dishes. Alik and David were putting the plates and bowls. Sasha looked at Alik who was already digging in the borscht and blowing it as he must have done many, many times. “And know this, like I told Mitch. There’s plenty of vegetables, carrots, peas, potatoes in this.” He smiled. “Oh! The Olivie Salad!” He got up and went to the refrigerator and brought it to the table. “Created by Lucien Olivier. It does not have olives and favored in Russia and all of East Europe now.” He brought the extra bowls and the salad. “Dig in!” The borscht he made was really thicker than a stew, the slight purple shade was bit odd, but it smelled really good. “Damn, Sasha!” David looked like he really was enjoying his. “This is delicious! You’re in real trouble now.” “Why is that?” Sasha chuckled. “You’re going have to make it again! And again!” David claimed pulling Sasha toward him kissing him. Dinner was great, but Alik went to bed as did David so he could take his last trip to school in the morning, again Sasha quickly followed. In our room, we got ready for bed. We had somethings to do in the morning and we needed to get home so Sasha could pick up Alik and David got home. But we always made time to love. In the morning, the usual departures. David at six, Alik at seven. Tony and I ate more of the Italian Breakfast Casserole. “Normally, I don’t eat leftovers if it’s not good.” Tony chuckled with his fork to his plate. “This is wonderful. You’re still Scottish, but making yourself one hell of an Italian.” I chuckled. “Naturalmente, e grazie.” Naturally and thank you. I said in Italian. “Prego.” You’re welcome. Tony leaned toward me kissing me. “I don’t want you to lose who you are becoming a Delveccio. It might hurt Dad.” Tony went on quickly. “You are a Delveccio, never doubt that, but there will be hurt feelings. Think about it more? It’s your decision. I’ll fully accept and support what you decide.” I smiled at him and kissed him a little more intense. “You are my best friend, lover and my husband. I love you, Tony.” “And you are my best friend, lover and my husband. I love you, Mitch.” Sasha returned at about a quarter to eight. “Let’s do this.” Tony had the proof of purchase and even the new insurance with policy number also paid for. We went to Charleston County Tax Office and paid the tax and for the registration, but were told they needed to see the title transfer. “We have to get the transfer done and bring it back!?” Tony gaped. “How could this be a scam?? They don’t do that in New York!!” He turned to me. “Do they do that in North Carolina?” I nodded. “And this is South Carolina!” She said a little smug. “Bring back the title change and you’ll get the registration. Next!” We walked out and as we were going to the car, I looked at Tony. “You bought my Bronco, didn’t you have to do all this?” Tony shook his head. “The Bronco Graveyard is a dealership. They verified the insurance, I paid the taxes were paid there, the registration…even my roadster was done at the dealership!” He shook his head. “You people don’t have many valets, not many good authentic Italian Restaurants. Olive Garden.” He spat, I mean really his spit and did that rapid spitting thing to ward off the evil in the air like a bad family member, dirtbag or bad Italian restaurants apparently! I saw his Mama do it. His sister Kathy once. I chuckled hugging him quickly as we got in the car. “You know where the DMV is?” Tony asked. “Yes,” Sasha said dourly. “David took me to get my South Carolina Driver’s License. It will be packed.” He was right, but he got the paper with his number and letter to tell him when he was up next. Fortunately, they had two rows where…whatever they were called…one side did the licenses for renewal, new and beginners’ permits…the other did things like title transfers, so we didn’t have to wait too long. The proof of sale given, the title changed and given. Then back to where he would get the registration. The same woman smiled as we came up. She looked at the title and nodded. “Okay, now I need the previous owner’s plate.” She smiled. “If you just discard it could be used in a crime.” Tony’s right eye narrowed. “You’re doing this on purpose!” She smiled sweetly. “Am I?” She said in mocking innocence. I heard Tony growl a little. “I’ll get it.” Sasha chuckled and patted Tony’s arm. “You know where the specialized tools…” Tony began to ask Sasha was leaving. “I thought I needed to know…” he shrugged, “I even know where the special…” he paused, “Лугнут remover to unlock to take the tire off!” Tony looked at me. “Лугнут? That has to be what I know it is.” “Lugnut. That’s right.” I smiled. Tony gave his smirking frown. “Are you still say you’re not fluent!?” “Getting there, I still have some words to go.” I smiled at Tony.” I’ve added words such as Гаечный ключ, молоток. Wrench and hammer. You did fine with Ivan and Katya and you spoke well last night!” “You both speak Russian!?” The woman asked shocked. “We have Russians in the family,” I said pointing over my shoulder toward Sasha. “Sasha is one.” “He speaks it much better than I can. We also speak Italian.” Tony said casually. “We’re a trilingual family!” I said smiling. Tony smiled. “You forgot one.” He chuckled. “Mike, Louise, Drew, Erin speak French!” I nodded laughing a little. “I did forget, four languages. I’ve never had to speak it. They speak English fluently. Maybe I should do that next.” “It’s Canadian French. Does that miracle program have that?” Tony chuckled. “I’m sure! There are millions that speak it. Celine Dion spoke that exclusively as a child and young adult.” I said. “Many don’t speak anything else.” “I guess we should send a few of the translators with them. Who better to get that language started!?” Tony asked seeing that logic. “I bet you learn it quicker than Italian! Probably in half the time!” Sasha came back in a rapid walk. He waved the plate Tony had used at us. “Есть.” Got it. He was excited. I said. “Прекрасно!” Great. “Хорошо! Давай.” Good! Come on. Tony said at the same time. He looked at the woman. “We go back and forth all the time. Sorry.” The woman took the plate shaking her head. “That’s quite alright.” She took the plate checked it on her computer. She turned and placed it somewhere below her desk. She handed Sasha one of those cardboard plates dealerships gave when a person buys a car. She handed Sasha the registration. “Your new permanent plate will be mailed to your address.” She now smiled a little more genuine. “Have a good day.” We went to the car and Sasha put the temporary plate on then stood grabbing Tony in a tight hug. “Thank you, Tony.” He kissed him on the temple. He turned to me and did the same to me. “I owe you two so much.” We got into what was now Sasha’s car. He patted the steering wheel lightly. “My car!” He said more to himself. “Yes.” Tony smiled and nodded at Sasha’s jubilation. “Now, let’s get this puppy going. I’ll give you the directions.” Sasha turned with mock irritation. “And you wonder why we have a problem learning your language!? Puppy? Incomplete sentences?” “Just drive,” Tony smirked. “We don’t refer to gays as pigeons as you do in Russia.” I chuckled. Sasha grunted and started the car. We guided him to James Island and to our island. They were still laying that trench for all those different things to the house, but they were much closer. That ugly structure was now flat and they were clearing that away quickly. A man approached looking at us, then smiled as Tony and I got out. Sasha had, too, but hadn’t met yet. James Matthews shook Tony’s hand and mine. “Good to see you two again. I didn’t recognize the car.” “That’s because it’s Sasha’s car,” Tony said. “James Matthews, this is a sometimes-crazy Russian marrying into our crazier family…really is a good friend and like a brother before he marries David. Then he will really be family, even if he is already to us. Sasha Ledebev.” James smiled shaking Sasha’s hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” “Likewise.” Sasha smiled. “I came to tell you, you have the extra week.” Tony smiled. James chuckled. “That pompous ass called me last night. He said like he decided to let us have the week. I didn’t say I knew, but I knew it was you.” “I don’t care who takes the credit, just that you have the time you deserve.” Tony smiled. “This time of the year means a whole lot to us.” He looked at his watch. “Okay, we have enough time to have a good lunch at Bessinger’s, a stop at the Starbucks near home and you will have time to pick up Alik.” “We may even have time to start the foundation before the two weeks!” James told us. “Come back before those two weeks and you’ll see.” He shook our hands again and we got into the car. They knew Tony and me at Bessinger’s now. We got three Big Joe Porks and three orders of onion rings. There were five giant onion rings in each order. We’d share, but why? We each had enough. We ate with gusto. We went to the Starbucks just a block from the condo. The city of North Charleston wanted to create a trendy, upper class of shops and restaurants on the land the naval base left here. “Hey, they have a new restaurant! Italian from Rome!” Written in Italian. Italian da Roma. “Not a pizza place?” Tony asked looking back. “Below that, it said Fine Italian Cuisine. I’m sure they do have pizza, but they should have macaroni and gravy, ziti and all those good foods from Italy.” I chuckled. “We’ll just see about that,” Tony said about every new Italian restaurant we went to. He only liked Amici that Sunday we met and went often after that. Bocci’s downtown. We got back home and Sasha had an hour to go to get Alik. He hugged Tony and me again. Alik returned with Sasha and he was about to run over but stopped and walked over to us. “Hi, Uncle Mitch! Uncle Tony!” Hugging us. “Dad said I could play Soccer this Spring and Summer!” “Great.” We both said smiling. Sasha smiled. “Ты знаешь, что тебе нужно сделать. И начни ту книгу, которую они тебе дали.” You know what you need to do. And start that book they gave you. “Book? What book?” Tony asked. “There were several to choose from, I got A Thousand and One Balloons.” “Never read that.” Tony shocked his head. “I loved that book!” I said happily. “A man in this Explorer’s Club, before they had airplanes and used hot air balloons to travel. He decides to take one around the world and crashes on a very unique island with some different people that some unusual customs and practices.” “What island? How different are these people?” Alik asked. “I’m not telling you that, read the book and find out.” I hugged him as he rolled his eyes and went upstairs to begin his homework. Once when Alik was upstairs Tony turned to me. “I’m not surprised about what you know. I saw that bookshelf with hundreds of books. What Island and what sort of different people?” Even Sasha stepped closer to hear. I chuckled and spoke quietly. “It’s fiction, but a good story. He crashes on Krakatoa before it blew up sending the blast heard as far as England. He met these families, each from different countries who built unique houses reflecting their cultures. Grand mansions. One day a month they opened each house opened their house as a restaurant for the whole island. They had frequent earthquakes which they barely felt. Their foundations weren’t rock, but diamonds! The island had them in abundance. The cavern they got the diamonds from had plenty, some the size of boulders! When the island blew up, they escaped on this platform giving the lift from a thousand balloons. Our main character one balloon and thousand on the platform. A thousand and one balloons. He’ll love it!” Sasha shook his head. “How did they get the houses built? Where did they get supplies? Where were the servants for their mansions…” “Sasha, don’t lose yourself in adult detail. No kid under ten would think about the logic of it. They’ll just enjoy the story.” I chuckled. “I have it on my bookcase in Morgan’s Branch. I’ll show you when we go there for the Fourth of July. I hate libraries because we have to give a good book back.” “Okay!” Tony smiled. “Any the roast left and great borscht and Olivier salad?” Sasha smiled nodding. “I’ll heat it up.” It was a couple of hours later when David came with arms outstretched in triumph. “I’m free!!” He nearly shouted putting his cases down and hugged Sasha and gave him a pretty intense, passionate kiss. David stopped resting on Sasha’s cheek as they continued to hug. “Hi, guys.” “I’m glad you’re home.” Sasha kissed David again a couple of times. “Are you okay with roast, borscht and Olivier Salad again?” “We’re having borscht again!?” Alik said extremely pleased at the bottom of the stairs. “Hi, Daddy David!” He walked quickly to David getting his usual hug and kiss. “Yes.” Sasha nodded. “I would have put it in the freezer if anybody didn’t eat it another day or two, it would start to go bad any longer.” We had a great night. Only it was Friday, but Alik went upstairs to begin his book. I smiled when he told David and Sasha what I’d told him, he wanted to read the book to find out. “Thanks for giving him enough to motivate him.” Sasha smiled. “What do you say to picking out a Christmas Tree tomorrow?” Tony asked them happily. “But we don’t decorate until after St. Nicholas Day, even if it’s your St. Nicholas Day, which is way too early.” Sasha chuckled. “If we waited for yours, Christmas Day is right behind it for us. St. Nicolas Day for you is the 19th, right?” Tony shook his head. “You’ll be in New York then! Or do what you did for the last few years? Are telling Alik to wait!?” Nearly shouted. Sasha and David chuckled. Sasha shook his head. “Oh, no.” “We get the tree, put it in the stand to get Alik, Mitch and me excited about what’s coming!” Tony said happily. “We love Christmas!” David laughed and looked at us. “We love Christmas.” “Really?” Tony said grinning. “We’ll see. We can take Alik to the Omni to see their great display and tree, and all the companies and organizations that have trees up and compete to have the best tree. And begin the spark of the Christmas Season. Tomorrow, we get a tree!” To be continued.
  8. R. Eric

    Chapter 82

    You must be a Вундеркинд. A prodigy.
  9. R. Eric

    Chapter 82

    Not yet. I always wait to rush stops.
  10. We arrived before Sasha had returned from getting Alik from school. It wasn’t long for the door opened and the two came in. “Hi, Uncle Tony…Hi, Uncle Mitch!” He said happily and rushed over, dug in his bookbag and brought one a piece of paper. “Look! I got an A!” We looked. It had been a math test. Numbers are numbers. Well, how they write in some countries like the seven with the line in the middle or some put a line through the zero to show it’s a number and not the letter O. What I did see, was this had multiplication and division. Some were double digits both to multiply and divide. A couple was triple digits! He got them right! My eyes widened. Tony was impressed, too! “I think we have a math prodigy.” Alik looked confused. “What’s that?” “Вундеркинд.” I translated. Tony bumped me lightly. “And you say you’re not fluent!?” I nodded. “I’m getting there!” I said loud like a Queen’s raised Italian would. Alik smiled bigger! “You think so?” “Anyone who can multiply and divide where they both are in the hundreds!?” Tony claimed. “Hell yeah! I say you are a Вундеркинд!” “I surprised my teacher. I was the only to get them all right!” Alik said proudly. We both hugged him together. Sasha smiled and said. “Возьмите свой Возьмите свой Возьмите свой и добраться до вашей домашней работы. Хорошо, сынок и добраться до вашей домашней работы. Хорошо, и добраться до вашей домашней работы. Хорошо, сынок?” He said kindly to take his book bag and get to his homework. Alik frowned. “Yeah, grammar.” He said sadly and glum. “I have to…diagram…ten sentences.” He said in dread. “Nouns, verbs, adverbs and all that.” “And you know two that are fluent in English.” Sasha pointed at us. “I’ll check it, but even I might miss one or two. Pronouns and adjectives. I get the words a, the and those...articles…I’ll be learning that myself.” “Certainly.” Tony smiled nodding. “Теперь, добраться до него.” Sasha smiled at his son, telling him to get to it. “Да-да.” He said with no enthusiasm. He took drug his bookbag up the stairs slowly with quiet resolve. Then when Alik was upstairs, he came to us. “Okay, what did the doctor tell you?” “It’s in stage one and he gave me a good chance of beating it…90%!” Tony assured happily. “The treatment will make it rough. I will hurt when I swallow.” “But we will encourage him to try,” I said. “How soon are they starting this treatment?” Sasha asked. Tony held his hand up. “We’re going to New York. My sister is a nurse and her husband is a doctor. All are big huggers and they will feel that port in my chest. It sticks out about an inch. They would ask about it. I don’t want to worry them if I can. Especially my son Nick.” “Can you wait a month?” Sasha asked. “We asked,” I said. “It’s stage one. He said a month wouldn’t hurt him. I wanted to start tomorrow, but I understand Tony’s decision to wait.” “Okay.” Sasha smiled. I hugged Tony. “It’s great to have the Tony before this happened back. He’s back with wisecracks and one-liners he used to use. If anything, I’d almost say he is in a manic state! We went downtown to the corner of King and Calhoun just to kiss there.” Sasha’s eyes widened, but that smirk was knowing. “That’s a busy part of town. A lot of people walking and cars. Were there shocked people?” “A few, but it’s a college area. There were many smiles!” Tony grinned. “Even Jerry at Starbucks was happy about what he and his customers saw it clearly, he also had a boyfriend!” “Really!?” Sasha chuckled. “That’s the only reason?” “Gay men, drag queens and lesbians will do an outrageous thing to say we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.” I laughed. “This was before you, Tony. I was with Ted then. We went to this club called Friends and there were drag queens performing that night. One had this outfit…it had flowing wings when she extended her arms. She was a butterfly! She not only did it there but outside even in the street! There was a man in this lovely dress like from Mexico…a dancer’s dress. He looked great, from behind, when he turned around…he had a full beard!!” Sasha and Tony laughed. Tony said. “That was for shock value clearly. Did he perform?” “No, he was there for the shock value.” I chuckled. “I say he did!” Sasha smiled. He turned as David came in rushing to us. “Now, you can explain the situation to him.” David asked and we explained it again. “Well, you can count on Sasha and me. We’ll be there to support both of you.” I hugged them both. “Thanks, I am so glad you’re here.” “Now we’ll have a busy few days coming.” Tony grinned. “After the 28th, I’ll be here a month!” David said happily. “Yea!” Sasha hugged him happily. Things were good in the Delveccio/McKenzie/Lebedev house. Tony was happy again. I asked Tony to make his baked Ziti. “You can make it,” Tony said he said in minor light irritation. “You’re the Italian!” I said louder. “I’m not.” Tony’s mouth dropped open in mock surprise and even gasped. “Yes! You are!” He yelled back. Then his one eye squinted, but I saw the mirth in his eyes and the smile on his face. “You are a Delveccio and must defiantly Italian!” He said shaking his finger at me. I smiled at him, hugging and kissing him. “Aww, I love you, too.” “Now, I’ll make the Ziti and gravy you do the garlic bread!” Tony said. I saluted. “Roger that.” Tony grinned. “I love you, wiseass and all.” He hugged me and kissed me. Alik came down the stairs. “Why do you two often yell? You’re not mad or anything.” Tony rocked us gently his head against mine. “That’s what Italians do.” “We only do that with people we love,” I said to Alik. Alik looked disappointment. “You never yell at me! Don’t you love me?” “Of course!” Tony chuckled. “We didn’t at first, you might think we were angry or something. We adore you!” “So be ready,” I said. “Go watch TV or something!” I yelled lightly but kept the smile on my face. Alik smiled now coming to us and hugged us. “I love you, too!!” He hurried off to the TV. An American cartoon. Sasha came down holding what I assumed was Alik’s homework. He handed me the paper. “He did it and David helped him. It’s right.” I took the paper looking it and smiled. “Yep!” “I missed some prepositions,” Sasha said smiling a little sheepishly. “So? It’s another language. I had a terrible time with written Russian sentence structure. What the noun is and verb and arranging them correctly.” I patted Sasha to assure him. “It will come.” I grinned. “Prepositions aren’t too hard. In school, they taught us…a preposition is anywhere a mouse can go…over, under, through, around and others.” Sasha smiled. “That will help.” “I had an issue with nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives in Russian!” I said lamenting. “I finally got the alphabet in order though!” I said in triumph and raised my finger to add to that triumph. “I even learned the Alphabet Song! The Number’s song too.” “That’s great!” He grinned. “You’re an American, Scottish, Tony swears you are Italian…you’re becoming Russian, too.” “Why not? I told you when I dream in Russian I’d dance on your head!” I said as he smiled back at me. “That proves I was thinking in Russian.” “I’ll expect it pretty soon then.” Sasha hugged me. Soon it was Alik’s bedtime and David’s, he had to drive an hour and a half early to get to his class on time. He took Alik upstairs and put his soon to be son to bed. A few minutes later, Sasha followed his future husband upstairs. Tony took my hand and pulled me to the toward our bedroom walking backward. “You and I will get ready for bed, teeth brushed and all that,” Tony said as his eyebrow waggled again. “Then you and I will share a night of loving.” Then I was pushing him backward. “Allora non perdere tempo. Fretta!” I said to not to waste time and hurry. “Io vado! Io vado!” Tony chuckled saying he was going. Making love now was no challenge. We knew what the other liked and how to do it. More than an hour of more, Tony and I separating, both panting to catch our breath. “That…” Tony panted, “never gets…” his breath was easing, “old.” “No, it’s doesn’t.” I rolled over to him hugging him again. “At first was a fun time of discovery. That was exciting, but you know I prefer this comfortable familiarity best. We have that.” Tony hugged me tight and kissed me. “We do.” We went peacefully to sleep. Tony’s warmth against my back, the crackle of the fireplace as it burned between the family room and our room. Peace. The morning brought the usual, David left at six, Sasha took Alik to school at seven and Tony was at our coffee pot. I chuckled as I got breakfast started. “That must be why you're so dark. Espresso of if it’s coffee, always black with just a little sugar.” Tony smirked. “Sure, go with that. Never mind the Moors’ blood in me.” He grinned as he saw me taking out things. “What are you making?” I pulled out a clear plastic with croissants, shook the bottle of extra-virgin oil. “I’m Italian, you said, I was going to make that wonderful buttery casserole, like we had in Rome!” I shrugged. “With a McKenzie twist.” “I can’t wait.” The different part is, the breakfast we had in Rome had fine yellow scrambled eggs. I, however, like Mom did, scramble them in the bacon grease. I loved it! I would put the sweet sausage in and when it was almost done, add the scallions, eggs, sage, milk, heavy cream, gruyere, and salt and scramble them together. It took a little prep work, but I did it in a cast iron skillet which it would be served in. It took a bit of time to cook and get the ingredients cooking when Sasha came back. “What’s that?” Sasha asked sniffing and looking at what I was doing. “It smells good!” “An Italian breakfast casserole. I made plenty, you welcome to have some.” I told him. “Absolutely. Alik didn’t come down very fast, I got him his breakfast, but no time for me.” Sasha grinned. At the table, Sasha asked. “What the plans today?” He dug in for the first bite and his eyes widened. “This is delicious!” “The McKenzie way is very good.” Tony smiled. “I was hoping to go see our property and then we were going car shopping.” Sasha looked startled. “You're selling your Benz!? I’ll buy it!” “It’s almost ten years old!?” Tony said. “So? I know that car.” Sasha explained. “You could have bought one any time. You have the money.” Tony said. “With that million you had me do some investing with, that million has gone to three.” “I know, but where do I go? I take Alik to school and get groceries. I always take that car.” Tony chuckled. “I’d give it to you, but I know you wouldn’t take it. You protested when I offered to keep you here without paying rent.” “Damned straight!” Sasha said it in a very American way. We took his AMG SL 63 Roadster and drove to James Island. Then arrived at the island. The bridge was new and looked strong. Going onto the island where we saw a trench where they were continuing the power lines, the pipes for water pipes and sewage pipes. There were men doing it now! There were other men were clearing the property of the house and getting the wood and dilapidated furniture in a dump truck. One man looked up and came over. The foreman? The man smiled as we got out. “Expensive car and clothes, one sort of dark…you must be Mr. Delveccio.” They shook hands. “James Matthews.” “I am.” He held his arm out to me as I got near Tony. He put his arm around me. “This is my husband, Mitch McKenzie.” His eyes widened a little. “Is that a problem?” Tony asked. Mr. Maxwell shook his head. “No, I work for Mr. Kincaid. Robert Castie had me working for a month before he told me. He had to, I walked in the office as he was kissing his life partner. You just say it!” Tony smiled. “Well, of course.” “Are married or in a relationship?” I asked. “Married for eighteen years,” James said smiling and was nodding understanding. “And you introduce her as your wife as your wife, right?” Tony asked as James nodded grinning more. “Actually, we married three times!” I added looking at Tony. “Once as each other’s Power of Attorneys, again that next June in a Commitment Ceremony and recently we made it legal in the first state to legalize it! We’re triple married!!” Tony chuckled squeezing me quickly. “Yes, we are.” He looked at James. “How many times have you married your wife?” James nodded and scratched the back of his head, smiling. “Just once, but we are renewing our vows at twenty-five years.” He looked back and the house. “We’ll get this…house…cleared out and tear it down. That won’t take too long. We’ll continue the laying of pipe, power and fiber optics. We should have it done by the first of next month. Then we’ll start laying the foundation.” Tony grinned. “Of course, you and the others are taking Christmas off, right? A week or two with family and friends?” “We’re taking the week of Christmas.” James nodded. “Take two!” Tony said happily. “Oh, Mr. Kincaid is just giving us the week with pay,” James said. “Christmas means a lot for Tony and me,” I said. “Suppose I pay all of you for that extra week?” Tony said. “Say, until New Year’s.” James’s eyes widened. “Mr. Kincaid won’t like it. You don’t have to…” “No, we don’t.” I smiled. “Max Kincaid is technically working for me, and you do, too.” Tony grinned. “I say you will. I’ll tell Max I insisted!” He frowned. “Isn’t Robert Castil your boss?” James shook his head. “Castil has a boss, Max Kincaid. He’s the CEO and President of the firm. Robert is a Vice-President, he is a top Architect, but Max assigns the work.” “I’ll tell Max, I insisted,” Tony said. “He won’t say no to me.” “We’re just Minions.” James shrugged smiling. “Either you just liked Despicable Me and the Minions, or you have children.” I smiled. “I loved Kevin, Bob, Tim, Norbert…all the others!” James laughed. “I do, too. Kevin’s my favorite and I do have children, three. There’s Cassie, Casandra really, she’s 16. Charlie, Charlene who is 10 and JJ, a rambunctious six.” He said proudly. “We know about rambunctious six-year-olds.” I chuckled. “Our future cousin-in-law had a six-year-old when he moved in with us. He’s a brother really.” “I had a rambunctious six-year-old once who’s now twenty-six last October.” He glanced at me. “I wasn’t gay then.” He smiled. I rolled my eyes hearing that again. “Suuure you weren’t.” Tony chuckled. “I’ll call Max Kincaid when we get home. I promise.” We left them heading toward the only Mercedes Dealership that had new models, but also sold Infinitis, Lexus, Maserati’s, Porsche and other luxury cars. Even Rolls Royce! He had gotten this Roadster there. Pulling into the dealership we parked in one of the customer spaces. Getting out, a man in his late forties approached us holding out his hand to Tony. “It’s good to see you again, Mr. Delveccio.” “Thanks, Mr. Rhodes,” Tony said. “There haven’t been problems, have there?” He looked at the roadster. Tony glanced at our car and then looked at Mr. Rhodes. Shaking his head, he said. “Hell, no! He purrs. I want to put in an order for a 2010!” He looked at me shrugging. “I have that and you have that Bronco.” He looked at Mr. Rhodes. “I can do that?” “Certainly. We’re making a lot of 2009s, but the 2010s will come out. We’ll have some ready by June. You can get yours as early as March. You’re ordering it.” Tony grinned even bigger. “I’ve even chosen the model…if you approve, of course.” He said to me. “Show me.” In Mr. Rhodes’ office. “What model did you want?” “A Maybach S 650!” Tony said. “Can you bring an image up to show him.” He grinned at me. I took his hand. Mr. Rhodes did even blink. He knew our money was green. He moved his monitor where I saw it. It was bigger than the Mercedes S550 we had. It had to be. I saw the interior. The dash and controls I would have to learn. The back seat! Tony and Sasha could stretch out back there, there was plenty of leg room. Then they were planning some of the features and options. What I liked was as Tony, the car on the screen changed. Custom paint color, a dark navy that so dark it was practically black. Sporty hubcaps. There were safety features added. Now the interior was in dark navy, just a little lighter than the paint outside, premium sound boasting surround system that made you feel you were at a symphony that played just for you. The artist sang just for you. I wondered how Queen, Billy Idol or even Nickelback would…Disturbed, Godsmack and some of the more…energetic groups would sound. There were all music groups and kinds could be accessed from that system that could find any song. There were access ports for everybody could plug their laptops in hooked through our WiFi in the car. Phone chargers for phones and devices that needed power. There were nice sized screens to watch any movie, live show or program in the endless library. They could even choose to lounge as both seats reclined and Sasha or Tony would still have plenty of legroom! The seats where heated and could be shaped for maximum comfort. Still cold or warm? They had their own climate control! And there were not one, but two cool compartments! There was the one behind the seats like Tony’s S550! One as was a little refrigerator in the lower part of the central console for drinks our passenger’s desired. A couple of six packs. In a compartment the were four glasses. (Tony would insist of that.) There were desks or trays for them to work or eat that came up from below the seats in front of them. It was a luxury car that was practically a limousine! The trunk was spacious and even Tony’s overpacking would fit back there! We added all the extras like Mercedes’s mbrace Concierge to get destinations and turn-by-turn directions! Better than GPS! I shook my head to keep the old me from bugging me when I saw the price was going closer to a quarter of a million. I reminded myself we had more than enough money. Tony was again the excited little boy getting a great present on Christmas! He glanced back at me. “What do you think?” I chuckled patting him on the arm. “You can’t add anything, you got it all. I can get used to driving it.” I smiled. “Do it.” Then there were shipping cost because it was not a normal delivery. Tony didn’t hesitate and gave his credit card and was getting his license out. Mr. Rhodes shook his head. “I checked it with the Roadster.” He chuckled. “I know this is your card.” Tony paid the whole thing. We arrived home and smelled something cooking. Sasha smiled at us. “I’m cooking a roast and making Borscht.” He waved at the two crockpots. “It will be done by the time David gets home.” “Borscht?” I chuckled. “You never made that for us.” “There are all kinds of borscht. Cabbage Borscht, Vegan Borscht…” he shuttered with a frown letting out a sound of disgust, “Lean Borscht…” Tony grinned. “What exactly is borscht?” “Some can be a soup, but I make a sort of heartier stew-like dish.” Sasha gave a shrugging nod. “It has salted meat, potatoes, radishes...that adds a sort of purple color to the borscht…but its good! I’m using as a side dish.” “For the vegetable?” I asked. “There are potatoes and carrots in it.” He chuckled. “I’m also making an Olivier salad. Plenty of vegetables.” “If you want…we can do the needed transaction tonight or tomorrow. Change of title can be done tomorrow…if you still want him.” Tony suggested to Sasha. “Yes, I want him! I’ve been driving it for almost two years! I love that car!” Sasha stated firmly. “Okay,” Tony said chuckling. “It will officially be yours tomorrow.” “So, where’d kissed publicly today?” Sasha smirked. “Nowhere today, but if we kiss, even in public, we will,” I answered. “Oh, I need to make a phone call.” Tony hurried to the computer room. Sasha jutted his head in Tony’s direction. “He seems good.” “Very good.” Then we heard Tony’s raised voice. “I’m sorry. I thought you were working for me!” It was quiet a few moments. “I don’t give a damn about the schedule you’re trying to maintain. How many days are you taking off? Tell the truth, because I can find out the truth.” I could see Tony in my mind. I knew how would physically act. “A ski vacations? In Switzerland. For a week? I’ll find out.” “I don’t care that you earned it or not. I don’t care if you go a month!” “These men need to go home, spend time with the families and friends…I insist! No reprisals on any of them, you are answerable to me. They deserve this! I am paying for them to go, not you. It will happen.” With older phones, you could slam it down. Now, you just disconnect. Maybe new phones with “end call” and “slam call.” Tony came freezing when he found Sasha and I were staring at him, both of us smiling at him. He smiled at us. “I guess you heard that.” He resumed his way to us. “You’re Italian! Sure, we did.” I chuckled. “I didn’t want to embarrass him, but that arrogant prick needed to remember…I’m paying him to get this house done! Then he went about cost and time…the arrogant son of a bitch.” He waved his hand at the absurd notion. “I don’t give a shit about his schedule, what will another week cost in getting things done?” He let out an angry, frustrated grunt. “I know he’s the President and CEO. He probably doesn’t people telling him what he has to do. I heard it in his voice. He had to comply.” Sasha chuckled. “Probably.” We had a good afternoon. Sasha had everything arranged and cooking and then went to get Alik. Tony turned to me on the couch. “Okay. What did you think about today? About the money I spent today?” I bowed my head slightly. “Okay, the old me tried to come up with an objection, but I swash it back down. Besides, I know what’s in our account and you’ll make more. You’ve done well for two decades. I have no doubt that you can.” I wondered. “How do you keep up with trends, new companies and drastically falling stocks and stuff like that?” Tony chuckled. “I started with the program I used at Morgan Stanley and created shortcuts and improved the search and tracking program. I set up…watch dogs that constantly monitor the stock market. They alert me as new companies that get on the DOW. Those I have to research to know who is running it and what their history is. The program helps me know that as well. The others I already invested in and guided customers to…has an alert that lets me know if one is going down drastically. Stocks go up and down, but ones that fluctuate a lot shows trouble. I prefer stocks that show a steady increase. I have invested in new stocks and I invest some time and they’ve split and even split again! We’re not just millionaires, we’re heading toward the hundred million.” “And that million Sasha and David gave you to invest?” “Is now 3 point 25 million,” Sasha said proudly. “I’ll keep on doing it for them until they tell me to stop.” I chuckled. “Bye-bye Mustang of David's. I see a Maserati or Ferrari or even a Lamborghini in his future.” “Kincaid or your Aunt Mary can out-snob me!?” Tony chuckled. “Let them think they can.” He backed his head back a little. “Am I?” “No.” I pulled him in a passionate kiss. “I love you, Tony.” Tony was still kissing me but said. “I know. I love you.” “I know.”
  11. R. Eric

    Chapter 81

    I tell you, I haven't felt this urge to write...since just before Daniel died. Obsessed!
  12. R. Eric

    Chapter 81

    Yes, yes, I saw some of those and proof reading again. I'm correcting.
  13. After Uncle JC said to stop, it did stop, but the three uncles didn’t stop with their hard stares. Tony and I weren’t bothered by the hard stares. Neither were David and Sasha. Alik was really enjoying playing as more and more cousins near his age arrived. More playmates! I was also pleased to see him not use the translator. David came up beside me. “Do you think Sasha and I should marry in Boston, too?” “I think you should marry legally.” I brighten smiling at him throwing my arm around his shoulders. “Hey! We can make it a week event. You don’t want to marry on the ship, we’re not clear about the laws of the country the ship, but Alaska doesn’t allow it. Not all of our cousins could come to Alaska, but they might come to Boston! There’s a three-day waiting period anyway.” I watched his eyes widen, but he was smiling more. “There’s a beautiful hotel there. The Omni Parker House. It’s a little stuffy, but it is beautiful. Of course, this your wedding…and Sasha’s. You two need to plan where. We can fly in Saturday before, tour around Boston the weekend.” I looked over as Tony was laughing at whatever Dad was saying. “Tour the places I might want to see.” “Why didn’t you?” David wondered. “You were there for the three or four days.” I gave a smirking smile in Tony’s direction. “I indulged his search for the perfect…whatever.” I grinned at David. “It’s a fetish.” I shrugged. “He indulges mine. It’s fair.” David gave a leering grin. “You? Care to share?” “No,” I said simply. The back-porch door burst open and the sound of many feet race through. “Boys! No running in the house.” Aunt Hilda chastised lightly, not angry at all. David laughed as did I. “Well,” David said, “we certainly heard that when we were kids.” I nodded. “It just proves, no matter where they’re from. Boys run.” Sasha came in from…wherever he had been…slipping his arms around David, kissing him. “I got caught up in a conversation with your Dad and then Uncle Charles…” “There’s a lot of people to talk to.” David grinned. “Alik hasn’t relied on that translator at all!” I marveled. “Well, the new school’s reason is to teach him English.” Sasha chuckled. “He must be very smart.” I chuckled. “He takes after you, Sasha.” Tony came over putting his arms around me from behind and hugging me a little. That kiss on the side of the neck was always welcomed. “How are my two favorite McKenzies and one of my to favorite Lededeves?” “Much better now,” I replied squeezing his arms around me tighter which Tony gave me another tighter hug and kiss. David looked at Sasha. “Mitch had a great idea! What would feel if we got married in Boston? It would make it possible for more family to come because it won’t be as far.” Sasha smiled at that. “Sure.” “We even know the preacher that is more than happy to do that,” I said happily. “There is a minister there at the MCC in Boston, her name is Dr. Janet Kenmore.” “Mitch,” Tony said cautiously. “It’s their wedding.” “And? I’m not planning the ceremony, just giving suggestions.” “That’s what family does,” David said simply. “Deny we aren’t family.” He challenged. “We had help,” I said to Tony. “Mama, Louise, Kathy, Mom, and even Melissa to help find the best tux!” “Okay,” Tony looked at David and Sasha, “then for my first suggestion.” He grinned at David and Sasha. “You board Sunday, right?” They both nodded. “I suggest a Friday night wedding. Traditions says that’s formal and a good sit-down dinner. That will give you two time to travel to Alaska and board the ship.” Tony grinned a bit more. “And I insist on buying the wedding cake.” I chuckled. “Gilbert.” “Yes, Gilbert.” Tony laughed lightly. “He made ours, it will be delicious! You’ll find out at Christmas.” “Christmas?” Sasha asked. “Yes, Christmas.” Tony nodded. “You experienced McKenzie Thanksgiving. Now, as family, to the Delveccio side of Christmas. Deny your family.” He challenged David as he had challenged Tony. “Okay, okay.” David surrendered. “We’ll go.” “It can be beautiful,” I said assuring. “There are traditions Tony and I share. We’ll share them with you. A show…Broadway of course…The Rockettes holiday show. It will be great!” “The Delveccios are different. Typical New York, Queens-raised Italians.” “You will hear mangia, mangia for eat, eat and they carry on conversations…I mean at once and you are expected to interrupt.” I chuckled as David’s and Sasha’s eyes widened. “It’s the way Italians way of showing love.” Tony chuckled. “Though I will caution them to speak English.” “Which they will forget often,” I chuckled, “but a few words of Russian from the five of us. They’ll remember. And they often raise voices, even yell at each other…no one’s angry, that is also a form of love.” “They will welcome us?” Sasha asked a little uncertain. “They most certainly will,” Tony said firmly. “You are family! They will love you!” “When we get home, I’ll even help find the best place to have the wedding!” I patted both on the arm. “You need to reserve the place quickly. There are going to be a lot of weddings in June. There are caterers, invitations with RSVPs once we pay to reserve where.” David grimaced. “We just want to get married.” “Which is why you need to do in a state where you are,” I stated. “Not domestic partners or a civil union. So, why not in the first state that legalized it. Though you can choose New Hampshire or Vermont now.” David chuckled. “But you know it will happen in Boston.” Mom came by. “They’re beginning to serve dinner.” “I’ll get Alik,” Sasha said kissing David again and went to locate his son. Mom smiled at me and Tony, kissing our cheeks. For no other reason other than she loved us. Sasha came back with his son thrown over his shoulder and Alik was laughing. “Caught him.” He smiled as Alik laughed, but never asked to be put down. Thanksgiving dinner was just as always and just as much, if not more than usual. The McKenzie family was growing! We did tell the cousins like Sherry, Chuck, and Pam, Michael, Ronda, Mary…a few cousins that the wedding was going to be in Boston. They should get Thursday the 26th and the wedding was a Friday night wedding June 27th. There were delighted faces seeing they didn’t have to pay maybe thousand or more dollars, swearing to be there. We went back to the bed and breakfast, with Alik asleep between David and me. At David’s side which David had put his arm around Alik. Alik had a very busy day. After breakfast, we checked out and returned to the home place. Much fewer cars were there now. Those local left the night before. Mom, Dad, and grandmother were still there. So were Uncle Bernie and Aunt Judy, Uncle Charles and Aunt Faye, Aunt Hilda was there without Uncle Earl passing out leftovers to others. She handed me a platter of ham. “I know you.” She smiled. “You prefer ham.” She looked at Tony, Sasha, David, and Alik. “There’s plenty of turkey left over, stuffing, and cake.” “Any of that great chocolate cake?” Alik asked hopefully. Hilda shook her head and smiled. “Sorry, honey, I made three and they’re all gone. There is the cake Aunt Ruth made and coconut cake.” “That yellow cake with the coconut frosting?” I shrugged. “I’ll take it.” Aunt Hilda went through the various deserts left. We ended up with ham, turkey, dressing an almost whole pumpkin pie, that not-mom’s-coconut cake, several slices of cheesecake of different kinds. “I promise you Alik, I’ll make one when you come for the reunion. I’ll make four and this time, I’ll set some of away just for you.” Putting a delighted smile on Alik’s face. I worried there was no room was no room in the trunk, but Tony shook his head. He opened the back door on the passenger side. He pushed a button on the seat and pulled the seat forward. “For the lady or gentleman that doesn’t want what they bought scattered over the trunk.” I shook my head grinning. “I didn’t even know that was there!” “Now you do!” Tony smiled. “There is even a button on the console that will blow cold air for the meats, milk, eggs.” “That’s why you take when you buy groceries! I bet you told Sasha.” I smirked. “Never that roadster you drive.” “You always drive your Bronco.” Tony pointed out smiling. “This is eight years old now. It’s time to get a new one anyway.” He said packing the space with the food. “I’ll make sure you are there when we get it.” He took what I had and put in there. “You will know all the features.” He kissed me. “I promise.” Mom, Dad, and grandmother came over. Grandmother was getting older and yes, I worried how long we would have her with us. Then again, her mother was 104, so her chances were good! They warned us to be careful and Tony to drive safe, making us promise to come for the reunion here and the Fourth of July in the mountains. Grandmother turned as Sasha, David and Alik came over after saying goodbye to David’s father, mother, and Gary! Gary had done a 180 turn around since he found out he didn’t make me gay and I didn’t make David gay. Then we were on our way. Alik proceeded to tell all he found “cool” at the reunion…in English!” I smiled at him. “You’re doing well speaking English! I didn’t see you have to use the translator once!” Alik looked a little happier. “That’s why Dad sent me to that school. I had to use the translator there at first. All the teachers teach in English. Texts I still take in Russian, but I’m reading it better now.” “Well, we are a three-language family. English, Italian and now Russian.” Tony said. “I hope you plan to keep his Russian current. We should keep speaking English, but speak Russian occasionally to keep familiarity current. My family did with Italian.” Sasha shook his head and grinned. “I had to make him use it to learn English.” We arrived home and unloaded with the help of a cart like hotels use they had to use. This one had straps to keep the things from falling off. We got everything up in one trip! “Сын, возьми свой чемодан наверх и положи в грязную одежду.” Sasha instructed telling him to take his suitcase upstairs and put dirty clothes in the hamper. Alik looked surprised at first and smiled. “Конечнo!” He took his suitcase and hurried up the stairs. Sasha grinned at us. “We were approved to stay. I’m going for my immigration done and then I want my citizenship and Alik’s citizenship, but you’re I can’t let him forget he’s Russian.” He shrugged. “I’ll just take this back. Be right back.” The weekend ended and Tony had his appointment with Dr. Keogh on Tuesday. I saw Tony’s demeanor change back to when we first got on the Queen Mary. I was worried about him, but it wasn’t me that faced this unknown personally. Sure, I was involved but wasn’t me that had this. I would pass him rubbing his back, kiss him to show support. Finally, I sat and brought him in for a slow kiss to show I loved him. “Baby, we promised to say what’s on our minds. I know you’re worried, but what are you thinking?” “I’m scared.” Tony blew a breath of air. “I keep worrying it could be. Cancer is in my family. Kathy said it, with us it’s not a matter of if we get it, but when.” Then his voice started to shake. “This could be my when.” I pulled him into a tight hug. “What I was thinking this is so unfair. I can’t do anything about it and I would even take it myself. I can’t lose you. We will fight this. I will be at your side the whole way. I don’t want to lose my very soul.” I let the tears come as they fell. “I love you so much, Tony.” I felt him tighten the hug as I felt him begin to cry softly. He was scared. I again spooned him that night. The next morning, after his usual coffee, we walked arms around each other to the Mercedes Roadster which he insisted I drive. We went to St. Francis Hospital where they had a whole separate hospital that Hematology and Cancer hospital. I shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised how busy it was in the huge waiting room. Tony hadn’t spoken much that much. Now he was sitting forward with his elbows on his knees, anxious to get this over. Anxious and impatient. At last Tony’s name was called. The nurse led us to Dr. Keogh’s office. He smiled compassionately at us. “I hope you had a good vacation in spite of this. I know it caused tension.” “We did even legally marry in Boston,” Tony said. Dr, Keogh smiled. “Congratulations.” He then sighed. “No more suspense.” He looked at Tony. “It is cancer.” Tony sat forward and let out this slow, agonized moan. I slid my chair even closer putting my left arm around him and took his hand with my right. Dr. Keogh raised his hands quickly. “But it’s just in stage one and we know where it is and it is treatable.” He stressed to reassure. “How soon can he get treatment?” I asked quickly. “What are the chances?” “Pretty good.” Dr. Keogh stressed again. “I’d say 90%, you are in stage one, Tony! Your chances are very good. To begin,” he reached in a drawer behind him, he produced something that sort of looked like a lollypop or a magnifier thing with a long tube at what was the handle for the magnifier, “this is a port that has to be inserted surgically, to allow the chemo to be able to get into your body easier.” He placed the port on upper right chest. “Placement is because we can access the large vein that goes directly to the heart and then is pumped through the body quickly.” He smiled at Tony. “The radiation treatment is a targeted treatment and will only be done on your cancer.” He grimaced a little. “Now, where it is will be a problem as it will be hard to swallow and painful, but I urge you to keep trying. You will need your strength. There an Ensure Plus I recommend, it is a higher calorie count than just regular Ensure. I am sorry, but that will be painful too.” He then smiled. “I see you are in great shape, Tony.” He looked at me. “You too, Mitch.” He smiled at us. “I see you have the support from your husband. That will help with your recovery. Don’t change any plans because of this. You have good chances, Tony.” He looked at me. “Are there others that will support him or you?” “Yes, two at home.” I grinned. “One is my cousin and best friend…we’re more like brothers and this…off the wall at times, big Russian David is marrying in June. They are family.” “That’s great!” Dr. Keogh grinned more. “You're using them to help you, Mitch. They know?” “Oh, yes.” Tony chuckled. “David and Mitch share everything.” He kissed me quickly. “Even a bed when they were kids…even after they were kids.” “He did that one time the night before our commitment ceremony. Tony and I were separated that night,” I said in mock confidentially, “and he was there to make sure I did sneak off to see you! When we were kids, there were two other cousins in that bed!” Dr. Keogh chuckled. “Please, don’t lose that sense of humor because of this. Laughter is the best medicine…and love. You both have that.” “How long is the treatment?” Tony asked. “Six months and then we do a scan and biopsy to make sure we got it all.” Dr. Keogh replied. “Would another month hurt me?” He asked and saw my frown. “Babe, my sister Kathy is a nurse and her husband Al is a doctor.” He said to Dr. Keogh. “My family gives hugs and…my son, Melissa…everyone will be hugging me. We get together on Christmas and…I don’t them to needlessly worry.” “A month won’t hurt.” Dr. Keogh nodded and looked at his calendar. “I’ll ask Dr. Hawk to make an appointment that Monday the 5th or 6th of January.” He looked at Tony. “Will that do?” “Absolutely.” Tony nodded. “I’ll be there.” Once at the car he drove this time. It’s wonderful what hope can do. He turned down Savannah Highway. Stoplights and traffic, this was not the quickest way home. I grinned when he turned his bleaker on in front of one of my favorite restaurants. Bessinger’s! “We’ll give the place class!” Tony chuckled. “It has class!” I said louder, which Tony did often as an Italian. Tony grinned. “Sure, it does.” He got out. As I came next to him, he brought me into a pretty nice kiss. In the parking lot. Costumers were going and out, but we no longer cared. He grinned and put his arm about me as I did him. We walked into the restaurant that way. We ordered our two Big Joe Pork Sandwiches and two orders of those big onion rings. He had only coffee that morning and was glad to see his appetite was driving him now. “I’ll need my strength. This is medicine!” I chuckled. “Yes, it is.” And before he pulled his wallet out to pay. I pulled mine out and gave the credit card to the cashier. “I’ll pay this time.” Tony chuckled. “You are a Delveccio. It comes from the same account!” “So?” The cashier was staring and the card with wide eyes. It was a black credit card. “Can I see an ID? He said you are Delveccio, this says McKenzie.” “Well, we were married in Boston, I haven’t changed the name yet.” I showed my ID that said I was a McKenzie. I tapped Tony’s chest. “Which I need to do.” Tony grinned as the cashier rang our order up. “Maybe I should become a McKenzie.” “No.” I shook my head. “You’ve established Delcveccio reputation with what you do. No, my way is better.” “Okay.” Tony took our cups as the cashier gave me our order receipt and order number. After I got my Dr. Pepper Cherry and he got his sweet tea. We got a booth on the same side as people were looking at us. Whether they’d overheard or saw us kiss in the parking lot. We were amongst jean clad, t-shirt, stretch pants, Walmart bought clothes. I was in Armani and Tony was in Dolce and Gabbana. Which city we’d bought them I couldn’t remember. I chose to think that was why. Italians don’t sit without a way out, so he sat on the outside of the bench. I took his hand. “You’re feeling better. The Tony I met is coming back.” Tony chuckled. “I’m feeling better. Once Dr. Keogh told me I had it but was confident I could beat this…I feel better!” Our order number was called. “Be right back.” He kissed me quickly and rose seeing the stares. “Oh, we’re not boyfriends. We’re married!” He held up his left hand and wiggled his ring finger. “In Boston. Better get used to it. There are a lot of us out in this world.” I laughed as some were shocked even more. When he got back, I had arranged the preferred barbecue sauce. “I really love you, Tony.” “Well, that’s new.” Tony grinned looking with mock surprise and kissed me again. “I really love you.” He smiled and took a hearty bite in an onion ring and munched happily. “Damn.” He held the onion ring out. “These are good onion rings!” When we got back into the car, he again didn’t go the direction of the house. “Do I ask?” I smiled asking Tony. “Well,” Tony began, “I was going to do what we said we would do. We don’t have to if you think we shouldn’t. I was going to the corner of King and Calhoun. I was going to kiss you there.” His eyebrows danced a little. “It is the heart of town and very busy.” I burst out laughing. “Yes, Tony, I think we should.” Tony grinned. “You saw how they reacted in Bessinger’s!” “Let’s do it.” We parked next to Marion Square Park, which was a popular park with its outdoor theater free to be used for budding singers or groups. A big green lawn used often for picnics by students at the College of Charleston. Directly across the street was the Francis Marion Hotel. Guests checked in and out, but more important was the Starbucks in the corner of King and Calhoun attracting everyone! Students, guests, tourists and any stroller that wanted good coffee. I knew we would go there. There was a small mall and a Walgreens there across Calhoun…there were a lot of people!! Cars passing. We walked hand in hand to the corner crosswalk to go to Starbucks. “You don’t have…” Tony began again. I pulled him to me tightly, wrapping my arms around him and kissed him deeply, hungrily, tongues slipped in each other’s mouths as his arms brought me even closer. Breath became short as I felt the familiar swoon. He was feeling it, too. “I love you, Tony. You’re my best friend, lover and my soul. And now, my husband.” I looked at our surroundings. There were stares from some. I grinned that not many surprised were college students, in fact, there were smiles from some. No accidents! “Come on.” I hugged and kissed him again. “Let’s get some coffees!” The light changed and we walked across the street to Starbucks. Entering, we saw many smiles in there. They could see it clearly from here. And they weren’t mocking or anything. They liked what they saw! They were mostly college students now. Even the young male cashier was smiling at us. He probably was a student as well. His name badge said “Jerry. “I don’t think my boyfriend would do that with me there.” He pointed at the corner we’d kissed on. “So, what can I get for you two lovebirds?” I ordered my large iced Vanilla Latte with the four shots of espresso. Tony got his large espresso. “Mind if I pay this time?” Tony chuckled. “It’s the same account.” I grinned giving what he’d said back to him. “You two share an account!?” The Jerry asked surprised. When Tony handed him his black credit card. His eyes widened. “Do your parents share an account?” I asked. “Well sure, they were married.” He said. “So are we.” Tony smiled showing his wedding ring and I put my matching ring beside his. “And now it’s legal. We married in Boston.” “By the time it becomes nationwide, we’re be married already,” I said. “Do need to see my ID?” Tony asked. “Nooo.” The Jerry said quickly, shaking his head. “This is a black credit card. I knew of them, but this is the first I’ve seen.” He looked at the card. “I believe you are Anthony Delveccio.” He ran the card. “If you were buying a car, I would. No one commits a black credit card fraud for $10 dollars and 38 cents.” He grinned handing the card back to Tony. Asking our names, he wrote them on our cups. “Congratulations on the marriage, guys!” We enjoyed our coffees sitting beside me on the couch, Tony’s arm around my shoulders as we did. Most of the customers were just passing through or using the WiFi here on their laptops. Our coffees consumed, I looked at my watch. “Okay, it’s almost three. We need to go to avoid the traffic on 26. It will be a bitch with all those hospitals end their shifts a 3:30.” Tony nodded. “Sure.” We rose, waving to the cashier as we left. After we crossed the street again. Tony initiated the kiss this time. Then walked to our car with arms around each other. Getting in, Tony beamed at me. “Now we get ready for Christmas!! The tree, decorating…” his eyebrows waggled again, “then New York!”
  14. R. Eric

    Chapter 47

    Updating what did. Tasha spoke almost no English. I explained to Security I needed to go in as a translator. I even asked if any of them spoke Russian at all. She shook her head. I was allowed.
  15. R. Eric

    Chapter 52

    While proofing some things...I made a lot of errors...and I could see better then! Oh, well. ‘Common sense is not common.’ Yes, someone did say that. ME!!! Many times. Whether someone else said it and more famous. I don't know. I've said that since 1975!
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