Never walk alone - 19. Chapter 19
This chapter contains references to a bdsm scene. Sensitive readers be advised!
Darren and Kerry were already busy on board 'Belle Catherine' when Andrew and Ryan arrived at the dockside the following morning. The babies had slept through to 7am and then they cuddled in bed with them for an hour before starting to get ready for the day, which would be a long one as the plan was to give 'Belle Catherine' a thorough clean, inside and out, prior to the first charter of the year. They had the twins with them, so the first point of business was to get them settled in the master cabin to nap. They were already quite sleepy when they arrived at the yacht, so it was not long before they were out for the count.
While Ryan and Darren took care of the exterior, Andrew and Kerry each took a hull and started on the cabins, dusting and wiping down all the surfaces in the bedrooms and disinfecting all the bathrooms and toilets. Andrew was pleased that the eco-friendly cleaning products they used were not acrid smelling at all, but left the cabins smelling clean and fresh, and were able to be used around the babies as well.
Then they made up all the beds using linen from the cupboards. The linen returning from the laundry would go back into the cupboards.
They broke for lunch and then started on the saloon. Ryan and Darren had the engine covers and hatches open all over the deck to check all the mechanical equipment. The twins woke up so Andrew settled them in their chairs on the seats in the saloon, while he and Kerry were busy there and in the galley, where Andrew unpacked all the cupboards, washed them down and repacked everything.
In the mid afternoon, Ryan turned on the engines and generator to let them run for a while, as well as the water maker, to check that it was functioning properly after he and Darren had replaced the filters and they both went into the water in wetsuits with snorkels to give the hulls a brush down and check that all the intakes were clear. The air conditioning was also running for a check, and also to help cool the yacht down as the day had been stiflingly hot, but Andrew had brandy spiked hot chocolate waiting for them when they emerged from the cold Cape water to help them warm up.
The last area to be cleaned was the aft cockpit and when that was done they all got stuck into polishing all the exterior stain-less steel deck railings and fittings and the safety rails on the saloon roof. It had been a hot, hard day but they were satisfied that 'Belle Catherine' was ready for the second half of the charter season and she gleamed, inside and out in the early evening sunlight.
It was after 7pm when they drove away from the marina and Andrew was very happy to find Donna in the kitchen when they arrived home, making Spaghetti Bolognaise with garlic rolls. Exhausted from the days exertions they had an early night, falling asleep almost as soon as their heads hit the pillows.
On the Sunday morning, the family went to the lodge for a late breakfast as Donna and Craig had to be at the airport at lunch time to check in for their flight to Johannesburg. Andrew, Ryan and the twins drove them to the airport with David and Janice in convoy behind them. At the drop off point outside departures, Clint and Karen were waiting for Donna and Craig. They were on the same flight and wanted to check in together in order to be seated close together. Andrew and Ryan did not stay but waited for David and Janice to come from the parking garage, then said their good byes and left the airport for home, leaving David and Janice to see them off.
On Monday morning, Yvonne came back to work, arriving at 8am. She let herself into the house making sure the alarm had been disarmed as she had been caught out once before and had nearly had a heart attack when the alarm went off, prompting the arrival of half a dozen security company vehicles and the police.
After having a cup of coffee, she stripped the linen off the bed in the guest bedroom and put it into the washing machine. Then she went about her usual tasks on the lounge level, opening the sliding doors and curtains, straightening furniture and giving everything a light dust. The contract cleaners came on a Tuesday and Friday and they would do the deep clean of the house. She remade the bed in he guest room and cleaned and restocked the bathroom. Only when Andrew and Ryan came down with the twins would she go upstairs.
When they did come down, they both greeted her with hugs and wishing her a happy new year. They asked how her Christmas had been and what she had done with her family. It was one of the reasons she loved working for Andrew and Ryan. They were genuinely interested in her as a person and the well being of her family. She handed Andrew her banking details as requested so that her salary could be deposited directly into her account and Andrew stood with her as he entered all the information into his banking app on the laptop. She fussed with the twins for a while, made Andrew and Ryan coffee and toast and then went upstairs to open up the rooms to air.
David was playing golf with some friends so Ryan was taking Janice into town to pick up the pictures that had been framed for the exhibition at the lodge, so he was alone studing financials from the accountant when Yvonne came back downstairs and walked over to him
"Mr Andrew, I found this under the bed in the bedroom at the end of the hall", handing him a CD cover sleeve He took it from Yvonne, thanked her and she returned upstairs. The sleeve had nothing written on it nor the CD itself when he opened it. Curiosity got the better of him and he popped it into his laptop expecting the hear music. What he got was something entirely different and his eyes widened in surprise when a video picture flashed up on this screen.
It was professionally filmed video and the camera panned around a room that was obviously a dungeon with whips and lashes and various bdsm paraphernalia on the walls and racks. A table with some sort of framework around it stood in the centre of the room, along with another frame with two sturdy uprights and a crossbar. A thought flicked in his brain and, perturbed but facinated, he continued watching.
A door opened and he heard the click, realising the video had a soundtrack as well. He pulled out his earphones and plugged them in.
A tall woman dressed as a dominatrix and a man in leather chaps and chest harness entered the room leading another male. He was blindfolded, just wearing a very brief thong and his arms were held in front of him, spread wide and shackled to the ends of a bar. The camera focused on the group and Andrew realised that his suspicion had been correct. The bound male was Clint!
The camera panned from his face, down his body, lingering on his chest, belly and crotch, to his feet showing two shackles on his ankles.
The video was about 40 minutes long and when the screen went blank, Andrew sat back and stared at in astonishment, stunned and horrified. There was nothing on it to indicate when it had been made, but in his opinion Clint had, at some time after that, been subjected to an even heavier session that had broken the skin on his body, hence the white lines that he had seen. He shook his head and the thought crossed his mind 'Never judge a book by its cover'.
His next thought was whether to tell Ryan about the CD. His first instinct was no. He felt it was probably a very similar scenario to what Ryan had experienced when he had been kidnapped, and he didn't want to dig up unwanted memories. But at the same time, he didn't want to keep any secrets from Ryan. He thought about it for a while and decided not to tell Ryan for the moment. He would have to think it over. He took the CD out of the laptop, placed it in it's sleeve and popped it into the inside pocket of his laptop bag.
He looked up guiltily as he realised he had completely neglected the twins. He stood up to check them and found them fast asleep on their blanket, both on their stomachs and he realised that Elizabeth was now also able to turn herself over.
He returned to the laptop and opened the financial spreadsheet he had been reading, but found he couldn't concentrate on the figures as his dilemma around the CD kept intruding on this thoughts. Keeping something from Ryan just did not sit well with him. They had always shared everything, however, in this case due to the content of the CD, he was concerned that Ryan might be adversely affected by it if he viewed it. He took out his mobile and scrolled through his contacts to find the number of the psychiatrist they had consulted after Ryan's assault. After explaining who he was, his receptionist put him though the the shrink. Fortunately he remembered Andrew, and he explained his problem. The shrink asked a few questions, mainly regarding Ryan's present frame of mind and then advised Andrew to tell Ryan about the CD and let him decide whether he wants to view it or not. He advised Andrew that whatever the decision, he felt they he must either return the CD to its owner or destroy it. Andrew thanked him for his advice and disconnected the call.
Cameron was showing signs of waking up while he was on the call, so he sat on the couch watching him but he settled down again and slept on. A couple of minutes later, Ryan called to say he and Janice were leaving the city and could Andrew meet them at his parents home to help load up the rest of the art collection and drop it off at the lodge. Andrew told Ryan that the twins were sleeping, so he couldn't meet them.
Ryan told him they would come to the house instead and wait for the twins to wake up. As it was almost lunch time, he went to the kitchen and quickly put together a large Nicoise salad and Yvonne set the patio table for lunch as she had finished her chores upstairs.
When Ryan and Janice arrived, Andrew toasted generous slices of ciabatta, topped it with a good helping of the salad and drizzled olive oil and balsamic dressing over it and carried it to the table, leaving one for Yvonne for her lunch. They ate an early lunch and Yvonne made coffee.
When the twins woke up, Andrew and Ryan got them dressed, checked the baby bags to make sure they had everything and got the twins into Andrew's car. They then drove to David and Janice's home and quickly loaded up the rest of the artworks and drove to the lodge.
They parked under the portico and unloaded the pictures storing them in a Paul's office until the next day when they were due to be hung on the walls. Paul took them to view the exhibition area, with Andrew and Ryan each holding a baby in their arms.
Paul had arranged to have the navy blue walls washed and repainted, and the spotlights on the tracks had been cleaned as well. Janice was trying to get some idea of which picture would go where, but would really only know for sure once they were all on display. Then they could move them around as she saw fit.
They had some tea and scones on the pool deck and left the lodge after arranging with Paul to be back in the morning to hang the pictures.. The exhibition would be officially opened the day after with a cocktail party in the early evening, which Andrew and Ryan were donating. Andrew drove home while Ryan dropped his mom off and Yvonne helped him carry the twins upstairs before leaving for home.
The afternoon was quite hot, so he undressed them, leaving them wearing just their diapers and a cool top and lay down on the rug with them. When Ryan returned home he got them each a beer and he and Andrew sat on the couch watching the babies play with their toys. Ryan put his arm over Andrew's shoulders and pulled him close. He turned Andrew's face to look at him and asked softly
"Okay, out with it. What's bugging you?" Andrew dropped his head on to Ryan's chest.
"What makes you think something is bugging me?" Ryan grinned at him.
"Firstly, because you are answering my question with a question! Secondly, my love, I know you well enough to know that you have been distracted the entire afternoon. So tell me, what is going on. You were perfectly normal when I left this morning. I come back and my husband is seemingly on another planet".
Andrew sighed, his head still in Ryan's chest.
"You're right. Something happened this morning after you left and I don't know if I want to tell you about it.". He felt Ryan stiffen and he looked up at him when he said,
"Okay, now you are beginning to scare me. Is it you? Or one of the twins? Drew, what is going on?"
Andrew sat up and took Ryan's hand in his.
"The reason I'm not sure I should tell you is because I am worried about your reaction.". He sighed again. "Okay, here goes! Yvonne found a CD under the bed in the room that Clint and Karen used on Saturday night and she brought it down to me. Thinking it was just music, I put it into my laptop and played it. As it turned out it wasn't music. It was a video. A very professional video. It's what's on the video that concerns me"
"Okay, now you got my attention, don't stop now. What is on the video?"
"You remember the white lines in Clints body. The video explains those lines, Ry. They are whip marks. The video shows Clint in a heavy bdsm session with two other people, a male and a female. It shows him being tied up and subjected to lashings, nipple and ball torture, electric shocks and being sexually abused. And he enjoyed it. Got off on it. But the problem is, it is very much what I would think you were subjected to. That's why I wasn't sure if I wanted to tell you"
Ryan stared at him with a shocked expression on his face.
"My god. Does it show how he got those marks?" he asked.
Andrew shook his head.
"No it doesn't. There is no indication as to when the video was made. But I would guess he was involved in another session after the one on the video. The marks cannot be seen on the video, so they had to have been inflicted afterwards."
Ryan was incredulous, shaking his head,
"Well fuck me! I would never have guessed. I wonder if Donna and Craig know about his extramural activities?"
"My guess is, no they don't. He seems to be a helluva nice guy. So normal. And yet....."
"So where is the video now?"
"In my laptop bag. Do I send it to him? My immediate reaction is to just destroy it."
"Do you have a contact number for him? I know I don't", Ryan asked.
"No I don't. We could get a number from Donna. I'm sure she'll have it. And if she doesn't, Craig probably will".
"I think we should just contact him and advise the we have found a CD that we think belongs to either him or Karen. And we take it from there", Ryan suggested and pulled out his mobile. He called Donna who did have a contact number for Clint. Andrew then made the call to Clint, turning on the speaker so that Ryan could hear the conversation. When he answered Andrew said,
"Hi Clint, it's Andrew Devlin-Major in Cape Town. How things going in Johannesburg?"
"Oh, hi Andrew, nice hearing from you. Had to go back to work today. Still trying to get back into the swing of things. Thanks again for the trip on your yacht. It was great. Why are you calling? What can I do for you?"
"Well it's actually something I think we can do for you. Our housekeeper was up in the bedroom you and Karen slept in and found a CD on the floor under the bed. We think it belongs to you or Karen and we were wondering what you wanted us to do with it?"
There was a moment of silence from Clint and then he said,
"If it has a red transparent cover, it's more than likely mine. Did you play it?"
Andrew glanced at Ryan and he shook his head.
"No we haven't. But we thought it might important".
"I am missing a CD that is quite sensitive" he said sounding relieved. "I'm actually flying back to Cape Town on Wednesday morning early for a two day seminar. Could we meet somewhere and I can get the CD from you?"
"Yeah no problem. Will you be in the city itself?"
"Actually, I'm just looking at the details now. I will be quite close to you. The seminar is being held at the Dolphin Beach Hotel and I'm staying overnight there as well. Why don't we meet for drinks in the bar?"
Andrew glanced at Ryan again and he nodded.
"Drinks would be fine. But could you meet us at our lodge, the Blue Bay in Bloubergstrand. Janice, Ryan's mom, is having the opening of her art exhibition at the lodge on Wednesday evening with a cocktail party and we have to be there. Why not join us?"
"Yeah, okay. I can do that. 5pm at the Blue Bay. Would that be okay?"
"That's perfect, see you then. Cheers"
Andrew put down his phone in looked at Ryan.
"See what I mean about being nice and normal".
Ryan smiled saying,
"Yeah. And that comment about the CD being sensitive. Talk about understatement of the year".
Andrew leaned in for a kiss and then looked at Ryan with a frown on his face.
"I saw what they did to you. I just cannot fathom how anyone would willingly submit themselves to that sort of treatment. It just boggles my mind".
Ryan pulled Andrew into his arms.
"Babe, it's no good getting tied up in knots over it. It's his life and it's up to him how he lives it. We just need to get that CD back to him and forget about it".
Andrew nodded and smiled.
"My husband, the voice of reason, as usual".
The next morning they had a meeting with Paul and the accountant with regard to how the staff wanted their dividend cheques paid out. Paul had held a meeting with them at which it was decided that they would like 60% of the dividend paid monthly through the year and the remaining 40% paid as a lump sum in December. Paul had made it clear that the new arrangement would only come into effect at the end of the current financial period, which would be at the end of June and the dividend had been determined, but that they should have their first payment at the end of July.
After the meeting they met David and Janice for breakfast before beginning the job of hanging Janice's artworks. With the eye of an artist, under her guidance, they hung the pictures on the walls and about half a dozen were placed on artists easels. When she was satisfied with the placement of each picture, the next job was to spotlight each work. Fortunately, the lodge handyman was available to climb up and down the ladder to move and adjust each spotlight and to add more onto the track as required.
They had light salad lunches on the pool deck and finshed up in the mid afternoon, after attaching discreet price tags to each picture. Two pictures already had 'Sold' tags attached as well, purchased by Andrew and Ryan. One was a charcoal sketch of Cameron and Elizabeth sitting on the blanket covered rug, propped up with cushions and pillows, looking directly at the viewer, with a selection of toys around them. The other was a watercolour of Ryan and Andrew sitting on the couch with the twins on their laps, Andrew with Cameron and Ryan with Elizabeth. The most striking thing about the picture was the manner in which Janice had captured the eyes of the family group, which showed quite clearly who had fathered each of the twins and the expressions of contented happiness on the faces of the two fathers.
Janice was as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof in the hours leading up to the opening, with all manner of doubts crowding in on her. The cocktail party was due to start at 5pm and finish at 8pm. They arrived slightly early to do a quick check that everything was in order and make a few last minute changes to the layout of the pictures. Andrew and Ryan had the twins in the chest harnesses instead of carrying them in their arms all evening and they attracted as much attention as the exhibition as they circulated through the exhibition, chatting to the invitees. They had left the baby bags in Paul's office, one of which held the CD.
Clint arrived at 5.30 and after a drink and a small plate of snacks, he indicated that he couldn't stay, but had to get back to his hotel for a formal dinner with the other delegates attending the seminar. Andrew and a Ryan walked him to Paul's office, gave him the CD, which he seemed very relieved to see, and he left soon after. Andrew felt a weight lift off his shoulders having got rid of the CD.
The evening progressed successfully and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Janice was far more relaxed having had some very good comments about the exhibition and a couple of sales. Paul was MC for the night and made short speech welcoming everyone and telling them a bit more about the artist and the exhibition itself. He also thanked those who had already made purchases and advised that the works could be collected at the end of the next week, at which time new works would be added to replace those that had been sold. Andrew and Ryan had told Janice that they were willing for the two works that they had purchased to remain on exhibition should she wish.
The twins, who had been quite alert earlier in the evening, had decided their dads chests were far too comfortable, and both were fast asleep with their faces nestled on their shirt fronts. As the evening started winding down, and the time neared for them to leave, Andrew asked Paul to arrange a small platter of snacks and cheese and biscuits for he and Ryan to take home. Although both of them had been nibbling at canapés through the evening, they were still hungry and as neither felt like cooking when they got home, and didn't feel like regular takeaways either, taking some leftovers home was the next best option, and the twins could be made more comfortable in their cots.
Leaving Janice to play hostess for the rest of the evening, Andrew and Ryan drove home and put the twins to bed before going downstairs to relax on the couch in front of the TV. Ryan opened a bottle of white wine which they enjoyed along with the cheese and biscuits, and a platter of sushi and another of hot snacks that the chef had included, while cuddling on the couch and watching the midweek football game in the English Premier League featuring Liverpool, their favourite team. When the game ended, they locked up, turned off the lights and walked hand in hand up the stairs to the master bedroom where once again they reaffirmed their love in the most intimate way possible.
Three days later, on a rainy, blustery Saturday morning, just after breakfast, Andrew was sitting at the breakfast counter working on his laptop when it 'pinged' in notification of an incoming email. He opened his email account and saw it was from the Kinleys with an attachment. Opening the email he read,
"Hi there Andrew, Ryan and twins. How are you all? Best wishes for the New Year. Wish we could be back with you in sunny South Africa. Europe is freezing. We launched the new yacht yesterday. We named her 'Texas Lass'. Attached is a video of the launch. Would you be able to join us in Italy on 22 June to sail on 23 June. Please advise so that we can arrange your travel from SA to Italy. Looking so forward to seeing you again. Dan and Joan Kinley".
Ryan had taken the twins upstairs to change them and get them dressed for a trip to the mall so Andrew climbed the stairs to the bedroom. Ryan was just finishing up with Cameron and Elizabeth.
"I just received an email from the Kinleys. They sent a video of the launch and they want us to be in Italy on 22 June. I just came up to see how far you were so that we can watch the launch together. But maybe it should wait until we get back from the mall?"
"Let's get the shopping done first. Then we can watch it at out leisure. We won't be going anywhere else in this weather. It can't be pleasant on 'Belle Catherine' either. Have you heard from Darren at all?"
"Nope, nothing since they sailed yesterday morning. We warned the clients the weather was going to turn, but they wanted to go ahead. We don't get northwesterly winds in summer very often. I'll try the satellite phone and see if I can contact them before we leave. Do you need any help with Cam and Elizabeth?"
"No, you go down and contact Darren. I'll be down as soon as I finish here".
Andrew went downstairs and pulled the satellite phone out of its charging station and called the phone on 'Belle Catherine'. It rang three times before Kerry answered.
"Hi Kerry, Andrew here. Just calling to find out where you are and how you're coping in this weather?"
"Oh hi boss. We're taking shelter in Langebaan. It's bucketing down here. Hold on, here's Darren"
"Andrew, hello. We're safe in Langebaan". The clients are battling though. They've started getting seasick just before we arrived here. Even though we are at the dock, she's rocking and rolling and it's very unpleasant". The wind is phenomenal. We're trying to find a berth that's more protected. We can't get out of the lagoon either. The seas at the mouth are huge", Darren told Andrew.
"Darren, if it's really uncomfortable for the clients, book them into a hotel or B&B until you can sail back. This weather is due start clearing tomorrow. So you should be okay to sail back to a Cape Town on Monday. Are you and Kerry doing okay? "
"Yeah, we're fine. No problems. It's just the clients."
"Good. Get them rooms on land until you are ready to sail back. Make them as comfortable as possible. Get the hotel to call me if they require anything. And you call me if you need anything!"
"Okay boss, will do. And thanks for the call. We'll do our best with the clients".
"Thanks Darren. Call be back once you get organised"
Ryan had come down while Andrew was talking to Darren and had heard the last part of the conversation.
"I take it they're holed up somewhere?"Andrew nodded.
"Yeah, in Langebaan. He says the weather up there is atrocious. The clients are seasick and they can't get out of the lagoon either due to the swell at the mouth of the lagoon.As you heard, I told him to get the clients into accommodations ashore. I just hope the seas have calmed enough by Monday, that they can get out of the lagoon. We'll just have to wait and see".
With nothing else he could do until Darren called him back, they carried the twins to the car and went shopping. They had just entered the mall when Darren called back.
"Hi boss. Okay, I managed to get two rooms, or apartments really, at Club Mykonos. The hotel is sending a minivan to transfer our guests from the harbour to the hotel. They will also bring them back on Monday morning. They are on a bed and breakfast rate, but I have told them they can charge lunch and dinner as well".
"Good. Please advise them that we will cover drinks to a limit of R400 per day including wine at dinner and that any charges in the casino will be for their account. Ryan and I are not home at the moment, but as soon as we get back, I will fire off an email to the hotel confirming arrangements and the charges we will be liable for. I will ask them to make copies and given to our guests so they know where they stand as well"
"Thanks Andrew . Will do"
"Are you and Kerry staying on 'Belle Catherine' or do you want to move as well?"
"No, we will say on the yacht. I don't want to leave her unattended in this weather"
"Thank you, I appreciate that. Look after her and yourselves. If it's too difficult to cook or you don't feel like cooking, just order takeaways and charge them on the yacht credit card"
"Okay, thanks Andrew. We might do that. Ah, the hotel bus is here. I must go"
"Thanks Darren. I'll get that email to the hotel as soon as I get home."
They didn't linger at the mall, just did some grocery shopping and returned home where Andrew sent the email to the hotel, with a copy to Darren, before unpacking the shopping bags.
They watched the video of the launch of 'Texas Lass' while having lunch. Sitting on the couch with steaming bowls of creamy tomato soup laced with sherry and garnished with grated cheese and crusty rolls, they watched as the gleaming, white and blue hulled, three deck yacht was rolled out of her construction hanger on her cradle. A massive straddle crane was moved over her and thick straps were passed under her hull before she was lifted and moved to the water and carefully lowered into her new home. A remote controlled arm swung down as Joan pressed a button on a dias and smashed a bottle of champagne on the point of her bow. A tug then moved her to the berth where her interior would be installed. The video showed her name and port of registry on the transom in chrome letters and panned along the hull to the bow to a discreet image of a smiling young girl, looking remarkably like a young Joan, dressed in a cowgirl outfit and waving to two flags, a stars and stripes and the Texan state flag. The camera then showed the white superstructure but did not go on board. Dan and Joan were shown standing in front of the yacht, smiling happily and holding glasses of champagne.
In the late afternoon, blue skies appeared on the horizon, marking the rear edge of the passing storm front, and Ryan opened the weather app on his laptop to study the forecast for Sunday and Monday and decided that by Monday, the sea would be relatively calm and that the yacht could sail back to Cape Town with no problems. The wind would remain in the west north west quadrant, which would be favourable for the trip back. They discussed driving up to Langebaan and have Ryan board the yacht for the trip back, but nixed the idea deciding that Darren had their full trust and they did not want to undermine his confidence and authority.
By Sunday morning the bulk of the storm had moved past leaving blue skies with scudding white clouds and a brisk, cool wind. The swell, however was still quite high, although in Langebaan it had already abated somewhat, being further north and would have got relief from the storm earlier.
Ryan spoke with Darren on Sunday afternoon and they decided that the trip to Cape Town the following day would take place. Darren had taken the dinghy to the lagoon mouth and confirmed that the swell had dropped considerably and that they should not have a problem getting back to sea in the morning apart from it, possibly, being just slightly rougher coming out of the lagoon. Ryan asked him to contact them once they were at sea and that he and Andrew would meet them when they arrived in the marina to personally speak to the guests.
The weather continued to improve through the day and on Monday morning there were just a few high wispy clouds in the blue sky, but the wind remained brisk, leaving the water in the bay quite choppy. A cloud was starting to form over the mountain, an indication that the wind might be about to turn.
When 'Belle Catherine' appeared in the channel between Robben Island and Bloubergstrand, Andrew and Ryan got the twins into their car seats and drove around the bay to the marina where they had to wait for a short while until the yacht motored into the marina. They stood on the dockside with the twins on their chests in the harnesses, and watched as Darren swung her around to approach the dock with the port side.
Kerry tossed the mooring lines to Andrew and Ryan and they secured them to the bollards on the dock before Darren turned off the engines. They could see the guests sitting in the saloon, out of the wind , as Darren and Kerry helped them to onto the deck.
"Hi guys, welcome home. How was it coming back?" Ryan asked Darren after hugging them both.
"Not too bad actually. The guests were much happier even though the sea was not as calm as we would have liked. I advised them to keep their seasickness patches on that we gave them before reaching Langebaan. And that seemed to help on the trip back. There were no problems at all".
Andrew hugged both Darren and Kerry and said,
"Well thanks for everything you did guys. We couldn't have done any better under the circumstances. You both did very well. We're proud of you. Now let's go meet the guests. I see the lodge minivan has arrived as well to transfer them."
Andrew and Ryan spent half an hour chatting to the guests and smoozing them, making sure that they were ultimately happy with the service they had received, notwithstanding the weather they had to endure.
The clients thanked them for the two nights ashore and that they were pleased that Andrew and Ryan cared enough to come down and speak to them. Andrew told them that the storm front that had hit them was a northwesterly and very unusual for the time of year and that the prevailing winds were almost exclusively from the southeast during the summer months. The forecasts had not predicted that the storm would be as intense as it was and that if it had, they would have not have sailed at all. They both told the guests that they were pleased that they were back safely and hoped they would enjoy the remainder of their tour through the country. Darren and Kerry came back into the saloon to advise that all the luggage had been loaded into the minivan and that the driver was ready to transfer them to Blue Bay for the night. The guest's thanked Darren and Kerry, leaving them a handsome tip, which spoke volumes to Andrew and Ryan and were assisted ashore by Darren and Kerry.
Andrew and Kerry made a pot of coffee, while Ryan and Darren did a walkabout checking to see if 'Belle Catherine' had suffered any damage during the storm and apart from a few scuff marks on the starboard hull, probably from when she was tied up to the dock in Langebaan, she was in perfect shape. Darren was ecstatic over how she had handled in the rough seas and high winds, bring really impressed with her stability and her ease of control.
In two seasons of running charters, it was the first time that she had been at sea in a storm with clients on board and Ryan felt she had come through it with flying colours. They had coffee and leftover cheesecake with Darren and Kerry, who would be staying on board for the night and would do a thorough clean the next day to prepare for the next charter over the coming weekend.
The second half of the season proved to be a very busy one, sometimes with only a day between arrival and departure so by the end of the Easter vacation, which officially marked the end of the season, they were all tired and in need of a break.
As usual, 'Belle Catherine' was due to be hauled out over the off season to have her hull inspected and cleaned and for the antifouling paint to be reapplied as well as replacing sacrificial anodes and having small repairs and touch ups done. The only difference would be that this year the work was going to be done in her birth port at Knysna and her builders would be doing the work. While there, Steve was going to fit the safety nets to her railings and the childproof gates in the bows and stern and at the top of the stairs to the hulls to baby proof the yacht. The additional safety measures would be included in an update of the website to try and encourage younger families onto the yacht. Steve and two assistants were going to sail her from Cape Town to Knysna at the beginning of June and have the work completed by the time Andrew and Ryan returned from the Mediterranean when they, Darren, Kerry and the twins would fly up to Knysna and sail her back to Cape Town.
As there was no need to rush back to Cape Town, the voyage back was going to be done at a leisurely pace, although a lot depended on the weather. As they would be deep into the winter and it's inevitable cold fronts, the plan was to play hopscotch down the coast between cold fronts, taking shelter each night, but taking advantage of the calm days to get as far as they could
After the Easter holidays, Andrew and Ryan spent one entire morning applying for passports for the twins and arranging Schengen visas for them all for the trip to Europe. They would not only be visiting Italy and Greece, but would also be going to Paris, London and Scotland to meet the clan before flying home. In the last week of May they were advised that the passports and visas were ready for collection. They now had everything they required for the trip except their travel arrangements from the Kinleys.
The twins also kept them busy. They were growing up quickly and becoming more mobile, so Andrew and Ryan spent one entire weekend just after Easter, baby-proofing the house. Safety gates were installed at the top of the stairs from the front door and at the top and bottom of the stairs to the bedroom wing. They also started making a point of ensuring that the security gate on the patio door to the pool was always closed. A fence with a safety gate was also installed on the edge of the main bedroom terrace overlooking the pool. This would allow the twins out onto the lawn, but not give them access to the swimming pool terrace. And just to set their minds at rest, a gate was installed at the rear door as well. It made moving about the house slightly awkward, but they were willing to put up with the inconvenience for the safety and well being of the twins and consoled themselves that it was only temporary anyway.
Cameron and Elizabeth were now able to sit up unsupported and were pulling themselves along on their bellys. They were yet to start crawling but both dad's felt it would not be long before they did.
They were now also being fed baby porridge in the morning, which they loved, and pureed foods as well. Cameron hated carrots, but wolfed down butternut squash. Elizabeth was a dream child who just ate what she was given. They both adored mashed banana and if it was mixed with yogurt or, even better, with custard, all the better. The evening formula bottle was now mixed with camomile tea. The biggest headache, however, was that they were starting to get teeth. They were both cranky and listless and one, but most often both woke, their dad's up during the night due to the discomfort of the teeth pushing through. Then Andrew and Ryan would take them to the big bed with them and gently rub their gums with a clean finger or give them something cold to drink, until they dropped off to sleep again. It meant a few disturbed nights, and lots of changes of clothes, for the babies and their dad's, due to the drooling caused by teething, and it wasn't long before both the little mites had their first pearly whites in their bottom gums.
Their travel arrangements arrived in Andrew's email account in the first week of June although the message was a little short on detail. All it said was,
"Departure 21 June, 20h00 Cape Town International.
A driver will collect you at your home at 18h00 He will have all the details and documents with him.
Bassinets have been arranged for Cameron and Elizabeth for the flights.
We have reserved a two bedroom suite at the Hotel Grand Savoia for the night of 22 June.
A car will collect you at 10h00 on 23 June to transfer you to the yacht.
We will clear Greek immigration and customs at Piraeus and drop you on Santorini on 30 June.
Flights back to Cape Town are arranged for 12 July as per your email.
Two bedroom suite at The Dorchester reserved for night of 11 July.
Have a good trip. Looking forward to welcoming you on board.
Ryan read the email over Andrew's shoulder saying,
"Those two are up to something. There is virtually no detail on our flights. I hope they haven't booked us in first class or something like that."
With their departure date and time confirmed, all the arrangements were now in place. Andrew had managed to reserve the cottage on Santorini for a week and had made flight reservations on Aegean Airways from Santorini to Athens with a connection two hours later on Air France to Paris, as well as a Prestige Suite for four nights at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand Hotel.
The hop across the channel, or rather under the Channel, would be on Eurostar from Paris Gare du Nord to St.Pancras with a short drive to the Pullman London St.Pancras Hotel which they would use as a base for the day before boarding the Caledonian Sleeper train for the overnight trip to Fort William in Scotland to meet up with Beth and Nicky who were in Scotland visiting Beth's family. Andrew and Ryan both felt that Cameron and Elizabeth should be aware of their heritage although they were too young to appreciate it now but considered their being introduced to the Scottish side of the family was only right. Andrew had made reservations for the three night stay at the Glentower Lower Observatory guesthouse in a family room and had arranged for a car rental to be delivered to him at the station when they arrived.
Belle Catherine' was already in Knysna under Steve's care. Darren and Kerry were on vacation for four weeks as was Yvonne. David and Janice would be looking after Rascal and on the morning of their departure, Andrew drove him to to their home along with his food, bed, toys and a few of the twins blankets for him to sleep with. Andrew was very heavy hearted as he drove away knowing, without a doubt, that the puppy was going to pine for them while they were away.
He stopped off at his bank on the way home and purchased some Euros so that they would have some local currency on them when they arrived, but they would have their credit cards with them anyway.
They were amazed and horrified at the amount of luggage it took to travel with two infants. They had more luggage than either him or Ryan and they had three large pieces of luggage between them in addition to their hand luggage and laptops.
Their transfer to the airport arrived just before 18h00 and they were pleased to see it was a large Mercedes van. It took a while to load all the luggage and once it was all stowed, they said goodbye to David and Janice who would lock up the house after they had left.
On arrival at the airport, they were both puzzled when the driver did not take the off ramp to the international departures but instead drove along an access road next to the airport and pulled through the gates of small, modern building and stopped at the glass doors. Two porters hurried out with trolleys and unloaded their luggage and the driver handed them a folder, tipped his hat and drove away.
A little unsure of themselves, they walked into the building, each carrying a baby in their baby seats, who were both awake and alert, and stopped just inside the doors and looked around. The room had full length windows at the front, with views to the apron and runways. Three business jets stood on the apron parked at an angle. One had a large K painted on its tail. And that is when realisation dawned. Andrew grabbed Ryan's arm.
"Oh my god, babe. We are flying privately! That blue and white jet out there with the big red K on the tail! That's Dan and Joan's private plane. I remember Joan showing me some pictures of her grand- children, and there was one with them standing in front of that plane."
Ryan looked at Andrew, his eyes wide in surprise.
"That explains the lack of detail on our flight arrangements. Shit, this little jaunt must be costing them packet. They could have just as easily flown us commercial".
A woman with a clipboard approached them smiling.
"Mr Devlin-Major? ", she asked looking from one to the other.
"Yes, I'm Andrew and my husband Ryan", Andrew replied.
"Ah okay, and the little ones are Cameron and Elizabeth, I presume"
"That's correct", Andrew replied. "I'm going to be quite honest with you. We're a bit unsure of what to do or where to go. It's the first time we are flying privately. We really were not expecting it."
"Well, that's why I am here. To ease you through all the procedures. Could I have all your passports please? Is this your luggage?
Andrew and Ryan handed over their passports as well as those of the twins.
"There you go. And yes, that's our luggage. Plus, of course the hand luggage and baby bags"
"Okay, let's go. Please follow me. I am taking you to the departure lounge. You can relax there, have a drink, something to eat, while I sort out your immigration and customs and get your luggage loaded. I will come to fetch you when we are ready to board you" she said.
They followed her through a security checkpoint into a comfortable, modern but elegantly furnished room. After making sure they were comfortable, she called a waiter over to take a drinks order before walking away and disappearing through a door-way. Both Andrew and Ryan were still a little shell- shocked at what was happening and just stared at one another, grinning.
"This is going to ruin flying commercial for the rest of our lives", commented Ryan. Andrew nodded.
"That's an understatement if I ever heard one! Never in a million years would I have thought I would be flying to Europe on a private jet. Even though we could afford to do so. But let's be quite honest babe, it just isn't us. Not that I'm ungrateful to get the opportunity."
"I get what you're saying. But, holy cow, this is sooo cool. I want to take a selfie of us at the window with the plane behind us and send it to the family. All of them. They will be green with envy", said Ryan, sounding just a young schoolboy.
The woman returned with their documents and handed their passports to them.
"All done, you're good to go. We should be ready to board in about ten minutes. They're just loading your luggage and then I can take you out to the aircraft"
Suddenly remembering the folder thag the driver had given them, Andrew opened it to see what it had to say. When he was done he looked up at Ryan.
"Geez babe, they've gone all out for us". He passed the folder to Ryan. "The aircraft is a Gulfstream G650. It normally seats 12, so with just the four of us, we will be very comfortable. We will have to make a stop for fuel in Casablanca and to pick up some rugs for Joan. Apparently, Dan has an office in Casablanca and a small factory so they have all the resources in place to refuel. Then direct to Genoa, landing at about 08h00. The kicker is that we will fly back home, direct, on the Gulfstream as well. Dan and Joan felt it would be far more convenient and comfortable for Cam and Elizabeth and wouldn't be as stressful had we gone commercial".
Ryan read through the folder and when he had finished looked up at Andrew.
"We are going to owe them big time after this. They really have gone above and beyond . Private planes, private yachts, super luxury hotels, chauffeured limousines. Mom was right. Lifestyles of the rich and famous. I know we are wealthy and all that, but this really is how the other half live".
He looked up as the woman liaison approached them with two porters in tow.
"We are ready to board you. These two gentlemen will assist with your cabin luggage".
The porters gathered all the bags while Andrew and Ryan picked up the twins, who were starting to be niggly. They had deliberately delayed their bedtime feed, the plan being to feed them just after takeoff and get them to sleep for the night, but the other problem was that they were getting new teeth again.
They were escorted to a minibus and driven out the the jet, which took less than a minute. The minibus stopped at the boarding stairs, at the foot of which stood a man and woman, both in smart uniforms with the Kinley 'K' embroidered on the pocket of their jackets. They stepped forward as the party alighted from the minibus and the man held out his hand in greeting.
"Good evening gentlemen. My name is Colin Beamish, I am your 1st officer for the flight. The captain is Peter Emerson. You will meet him just after we takeoff." The woman next to him extended her hand.
"And I am Michelle. I will be looking after you. Welcome on board".
Andrew and Ryan both greeted them and thanked them for the welcome and then Michelle led the way up the boarding stairs into the cabin. Up close, Andrew realised, the jet was bigger than he had thought and looked very sleek with large round windows. The twin engines were mounted near the tail and a spotlight shone on the tail with its red 'K'. Andrew could now read the words 'Kinley Enterprises" beneath it. They enteredthe brightly lit cabin to another world.
Luxury was an understatement. Two cream, leather upholstered couches were placed on either side of the aisle at the front of the cabin. Behind them, were six very comfortable looking seats in the same leather, three rows, one seat on either side of the aisle. Two seats on either side were arranged facing one another with a varnished console against the cabin wall between them. The floor was covered with a thick cream carpet with a tiny blue and red pattern in it. The cabin walls were upholstered as well in a soft fabric Andrew could not identify, but felt like chamois leather. and more varnished consoles and side tables dotted the cabin. Behind the rearmost pair of seats was a bulkhead behind which was a small galley, two cloakrooms and a storage cupboard. Directly opposite the entry door was a closet to hang coats. Michelle led them down the cabin to the club style seats".
"Here you go! How do you want to do this. One of you on either side of the aisle with the babies on the seats opposite you? Or do you want to sit together with the babies across the aisle?" she asked.
Andrew and Ryan glanced at one another and Ryan replied
"I think we would like to sit together with the twins across the aisle. Would it be possible to keep them on our laps until after takeoff? We want to get them fed and get them down for the night as soon as possible".
"No problem at all. We have seat belt extensions especially for infants on board. Why don't you get comfortable while I get them", and she turned and walked to a locker.
Andrew and Ryan unbuckled the twins from their chairs and sat down facing one another. They fastened their seatbelts, including shoulder straps, and Michelle attached the extensions to their seatbelts and helped them secure the babies on their laps. Andrew touched her arm and asked,
"Could you get their baby food and bottles out of the brown bag please?"
She retrieved the bottles and proceeded to give them the safety briefing as Colin Beamish boarded and walked back to the cockpit. With her briefing complete, Michelle explained all the features of the seat and opened a side console to reveal bottled water and the remote controls for the seats and personal TV's that flipped out of the sides of the seats. She took a drinks order just as Andrew, who was facing forward, saw someone with four gold stripes on his shoulders emerge from the cockpit and approach them. He was a lot younger than Andrew had expected.
"Good evening gentlemen. Good to have you on board. I'm Peter Emerson, your captain. Mr and Mrs Kinley have told me a lot about you. They think very highly of you"
Andrew and Ryan both shook his hand. Ryan replied,
"Thank you captain. We both admire them in return. We were not expecting this though", indicating the cabin they were seated in. Peter Emerson grinned.
"And therein lies my comment about admiration. They don't send this baby to just anyone. Let me get us on our way and I'll come back and chat once we're at cruising altitude and you've had dinner".
He moved towards the cockpit just as Michelle arrived with their drinks. She then walked down the aisle to the door, pressed a button and with a whine, the boarding stairs rose up and sealed the doorway. The faint sound of a jet engine spooling up was heard behind them, followed a short while later by the second engine. The cabin lights dimmed and Michelle sat down on the couch closest to the door and buckled her seatbelt. A few minutes later, the sound of the engines increased as power was applied and the jet turned right to taxi to the southern end of the runway. They turned onto the runway and after a brief stop, the engines howled behind them and with a slight jerk they sped down the runway. It was not long before the nose lifted and they roared into the dark sky, heading north. With the engines situated on the rear of the fuselage behind them, it was remarkably quiet in the passenger cabin. For Ryan, the takeoff was a strange sensation having never sat facing the rear of an aircraft before. Cameron and Elizabeth seemed unconcerned, eating contentedly as their dads spooned puree into their mouths. It was moderately bumpy immediately after takeoff, but as soon as they climbed through the cloud, the flight was as smooth as silk, the faint hum of the engines proving to be quite relaxing. Soon after takeoff, Michelle stood up and walked back to the galley, asking them if they needed anything on her way past.
When they levelled off, Michelle came back with two small bowls of warm cashew nuts.
"You can unbuckle your shoulder straps, but I would recommend you keep your lap belts fastened while you are seated. I have two bassinets in the back for the little ones. Colin is going to come back in a few minutes and secure them on the seats across the aisle so that you can get them down to sleep. As soon as you are ready, let me know and I will serve your dinner. Mrs Kinley was quite specific about her requirements for your dinner. I hope you enjoy it. Here are menus!"
They were both quite hungry and were interested to see what Joan had arranged for them to eat. While they perused the menus, which included dinner, snacks and a breakfast, Colin was busy across the aisle setting up the bassinets. He reclined both seats and secured the bassinets to the seats with the seatbelts and straps that attached to the frame of the seat. The bassinets came already equipped with a pillow, mattress protector, bottom sheet and duvet, so all they had to do was make the infants comfortable. Colin then returned to the cockpit, leaving the door open. The twins had finished eating and were now drinking their camomile tea and looking quite sleepy, so Andrew and Ryan stood up and settled them in the bassinets, sitting next them until they fell asleep. With the twins sleeping, Andrew and Ryan could sit back, relax, have dinner and get some sleep themselves.
Michelle set up a table between them with a white cloth and napkins, heavy silver cutlery and crystal glassware. The crockery was plain white with a gold line on the inside of the rim from Royal Doulton.
The first course was a cauliflower soup with a blue cheese cream and crispy bacon, followed by a salad of prawns, avocado, orange segments and cherry tomatoes with an orange spiked vinaigrette. There was a choice of two main courses. Pan seared Canadian salmon and Braised Lamb shank.
They each chose one and they shared their meals. Joan earned Ryan's gratitude for life when she specified two of his favourite desserts. Cheesecake and Pecan Nut Pie. Ryan had both, with ice cream, while Andrew just had cheesecake. They finished with coffee, deciding to keep the cheese and biscuits to snack on while they were on the ground in Casablanca. Michelle cleared away the table, made sure they didn't need anything and excused herself to have her dinner. She had taken dinner to the pilots while Andrew and Ryan had been dining.
Peter came into the cabin for a short while, mainly to fill them in on their progress, altitude, speed and anticipated weather. He asked about the hotel and the yacht and seemed to be genuinely interested and after chatting with them for half an hour, he returned to the cockpit. When Michelle came back, she made a suggestion.
"Why don't you go to the bathroom and change into something more comfortable, and I will make up your beds so that you can get some sleep. We will be landing in Casablanca at about 4 am. We will try not to, but the landing might wake you up. We will be on the ground for about an hour, then it's another four hours to Genoa"
They followed her advice, being astounded once again to discover that the bathroom had a shower stall and changed into sleeping pants and tops and returned to find the cabin very different to what it had been when they left it. The window blinds had been pulled down and the two rear seats had been fully reclined into a flat position and turned into comfortable beds, complete with mattresses, soft pillows and duvets to cover them. The cabin lights had been turned off except for the reading lights next to each bed, that glowed softly in the darkened cabin. Michelle had just turned back the top corner of the duvet on the second bed and she smiled up at them.
"There you go gentlemen, all ready for a good night's sleep. Unfortunately, I must ask you to keep the seatbelts fastened over you, just for safety sake. You might find it a bit uncomfortable at first, but you get used to it as long as it isn't too tight. If you need anything, press the call button. There are fresh bottles of water in the holders next to the beds. I hope you sleep well".
She returned to the galley, sliding a door across the doorway so that the light would not disturb them. They checked the twins, kissed them both and got into the beds, which they found to be surprisingly comfortable. The bedside lights were turned off and the soft hum of the engines lulled them to sleep.
The undercarriage touching down on the runway woke them both up, notwithstanding the fact that the landing was a very good one with barely a bump and the pilots had not activated the reverse thrust in order to minimise the noise in the passenger cabin, instead running the jet all the way down the runway and turning onto the taxiway at the end.
Michelle came down the aisle on her way to the galley, and noticing they were awake, requested that they remain where they were until the aircraft had stopped. When they were stationary, Colin came out of the cockpit and opened the boarding door before descending it onto the brightly lit tarmac. Andrew and Ryan got out of their beds and sat in their original seats and watched the activity around the aircraft, while snacking on their cheese and biscuits. Under Colin's supervision, hoses were connected to the valves under each wing and the refueling commenced. Colin also walked around the aircraft inspecting all the moving parts on the wings, the undercarriage and the engines and tail. The actual refuelling took about thirty minutes and then they had to wait for the rugs to be loaded and all the paperwork to be completed before Colin re entered the jet and secured the door as the engines whined back into life. Ten minutes later they were back in the air, climbing up to their cruising altitude for the four hour hop to Genoa, most of which would be over the Mediterranean Sea. They both had a mug of hot chocolate before returning to their beds and slept until their tiny human alarm clocks woke them up just after 6am, which was 7am back in Cape Town.
They changed the babies diapers in the bathroom and got them dressed for the day, before taking turns in the shower to freshen up themselves and get dressed for arrival. In the cabin, everything was back to normal. The bassinets had been removed and the twins were soon sucking greedily on bottles of formula, secured into their baby seats which were, in turn, secured to the cabin seat. The two beds were now normal seats and the table had been set up between the two seats that Andrew and Ryan were using.
Breakfast was a full English with freshly poached eggs that Michelle cooked on a small hotplate in the galley. There was a jug of fresh orange juice on the side console and a basket of warm toast and pastries. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and bacon wafted through the cabin making their mouths water.
They were halfway through breakfast when Peter emerged from the cockpit to tell them that they would be starting the descent into Genoa in a few minutes and that they will be on the ground just after 08h00. Customs and immigration will be coming on board to process them and a car will be on the tarmac to transfer them to the Hotel Grand Savoia. He returned to the cockpit and shortly afterwards, the note of the engines changed as the power was reduced and the nose dropped slightly as they began their descent.
After breakfast, Michelle cleared the table away, leaving them with cups of coffee on the side consoles, and prepared the cabin for landing. She also collected all the passports including that of the crew to hand to the Italian authorities when they stepped on board.
They had a good view of the port as they flew over it and saw several large cruise ships in port and a number of smaller vessels, but we're not able to positively identify 'Texas Lass'. Whoever was at the controls greased the landing and after a fairly lengthy taxi they stopped in front of the Genoa FBO, the engines winding down leaving only the soft hiss of the air conditioning.
Michelle unsealed the door and lowered the stairs to the ground as Peter and Colin stepped out of the cockpit. They were all dressed in full uniform. Two vehicles pulled up next to the aircraft. A black limousine stopped at the stairs and an official sedan parked near the nose of the plane and two men in khaki uniform entered the plane and spoke quietly to Peter. He handed them the travel documents as well as the papers for the plane. They sat down on one of the couches and proceeded to examinethe documents. They heard Peter explaining that his passengers would be boarding a yacht the next day, followed by a week long cruise from Genoa to the Greek Islands before travelling to France and the United Kingdom. The officer nodded, stamped all the documents, looked at Andrew and Ryan, welcomed them to Italy and they left the plane. Andrew and Ryan stood up carrying the twins in their car seats.
"Not very friendly, are they?", Ryan remarked. Peter nodded.
"Hasn't always been like this. Since they started having all the refugees arriving, they've become a lot tougher. They treat everyone with suspicion. But as they said, welcome to Italy. I think it would be more comfortable if you waited on board until they have transferred your luggage to the limo. Then we can get you on your way. And we'll see you for your flight back home".
When the time came to disembark, they thanked the crew for the pleasant flight and got into the limo and drove away to the hotel.
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