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    Andre Delport
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Never walk alone - 22. Chapter 22

They wouldn't be home for long however, as they were flying up to Knysna to sail 'Belle Catherine' home to get her ready for the summer cruising season after her refit and upgrade.

That would be at the last week in July and Ryan had allowed a week for the trip, wanting to investigate the coast on the way back to put together a plan for the Kinley family in December. Then in the last week of August, the family would fly up to Johannesburg to attend Donna and Craig's wedding. In the midst of all that, it would be time time celebrate the twins 1st birthday.

They also put a plan of action in place to begin the search for a second lodge property to compliment Blue Bay Lodge, starting with a meeting with Paul and Claude, two days after their return from Europe.
The discussions were long and sometimes heated, with Paul voicing his concern that the two properties would be competing with one another, but Andrew eventually prevailed after going through his PowerPoint presentation showing the number of room nights that the lodge was turning away due to the lack of availability. Paul was correct in saying they would be in competition, but Andrew felt Blue Bay had a solid enough base of loyal clients and reputation to maintain its growth and position in the market, and that the business they were turning away could be channeled to the new property while it builds it's own client base.
The new property would also be aimed at an slightly different sector of the market. Obviously, if the new property was full and Blue Bay had room available, the business would be passed on to Blue Bay. By the end of the meeting, everyone was happy and the decision was taken to find a second property.

And with that, the Devlin-Major Portfolio was born, with the motto 'Lodges of Distinction', and Ivan was contacted to keep an eye out for a likely property.

A week later, Darren and Kerry returned from their vacation and two days later, they and the Devlin-Major family, including Rascal departed for Knysna, flying to George and then driving the final sixty kilometres to the seaside town, arriving in the mid afternoon. They drove straight to the small harbour, where 'Belle Catherine' had been put back into the water the day before.

She was moored to the quay, with Steve and a small group of assistants on board dusting, cleaning and polishing to get her ready. Her hull gleamed from the the new finishing coat she had been given and she looked pristine. Steve stepped onto the quay when he saw them arrive and came to meet them.

"Hi guys, good to see you. How was Europe?"

"It was great", Ryan replied, shaking Steve's hand. "But it's even better being back. This is Darren and Kerry, our second crew", introducing them, and they shook his hand.
Andrew shook his hand as well.

"Hi Steve, good to see you too. She's looking fantastic. Just like new", he said, looking at 'Belle Catherine'.Steve turned to look at the yacht, beaming.

"She does look great, doesn't she? It helps that you guys look after her so well too. I must say, the safety netting makes her look quite solid, sturdy. I'm pleased you went for the white mesh. It blends in with the superstructure so it doesn't look like an add on, but rather that it was there from the beginning. We're just about done. My guys are just getting her spick and span. When do you want to leave?"

Ryan answered,

"Probably day after tomorrow. We seem to have a bit of a weather window for the next week or so. We'll provision her tomorrow and set sail early on Wednesday. We're in no major hurry to get back. We have a couple of things to do on the way home. Planning an itinerary for a returning client."

"Well, let's get you guys on board and settled. We'll be out of your hair within the hour".

All the luggage, plus the twins and Rascal, was transferred on board and placed in the cabins, with Darren and Kerry opting for the port aft guest cabin and they returned to the upper deck to have a look at the changes that had been made, the twins looking around with curious eyes. Rascal just jumped onto the seating, curled up and fell asleep.

The seating in the saloon had been reupholstered in a slightly darker cream leather. All the woodwork had been sanded back and revarnished and looked richer. All the appliances had been serviced and new crockery and cutlery was stored in the cupboards and drawers. Most importantly, safety gates had been fitted at the top of both flights of stairs down to the cabins in the hulls.

Stepping out into the aft cockpit and deck, the changes were very noticable. All the cushions in the cockpit had been replaced with thicker, more comfortable ones, still in the dark blue with cream piping. Three bucket style chairs had replaced the cushioned timber ones used previously, taking up a bit more space, but being far more comfortable.

Sturdy stainless steel gates had been fitted to the entrances of the aft cockpit from the scoops and at the forward end of the saloon on both port and starboard side decks. The strong, white mesh safety netting was attached to the inside of the railing stanchions at three points, running from the stanchion just forward of the gates to the top of the scoops, and from the top railing to the deck with just a tiny gap at the bottom to allow for water runoff in bad weather. It effectively meant that, in the event of the twins getting past the gates of the cockpit, there would be very little chance of falling overboard with the safety netting in place. It also made the side decks a safer place to work for the crew, particularly in rough seas, although all safety protocols would still be in place. Andrew turned to Steve, his smile wide.

"She looks amazing Steve. As good as new. Thank you", he said to Steve, shaking his hand.

"Andrew, it's only a pleasure. I like what you've allowed us to do to her. A lot of the features we're going to include in our brochure as optional extras. The whole child proofing thing has been a very interesting exercise and one we're going to use as a selling point". One of his workers approached them and Steve turned to him.

"Mr Steve, we are finished. We can go" he told his boss.

"Thanks, Jonas.Have you got all the equipment?".

"Yes, Mr Steve, already in the van".

Steve turned back to them.

"Okay, guys, she's all yours. Happy sailing". They exchanged hand shakes and he stepped onto the quay, waving goodbye. Ryan looked around the yacht.

"Okay crew, let's get unpacked and organised. It's already getting quite late and the cupboards are bare. Are we going to go shopping or are we dining out tonight?, he asked, glancing at Andrew.

"We can actually do both. We can eat out tonight, but we need to go shopping for a few essentials .We can do the big shop for the trip back tomorrow". He grinned at the group."Are we all going shopping or is one partner unpacking while the other goes shopping?"

"I'll stay here and unpack", Ryan offered. "And watch Cam and Elizabeth. It will be easier if they stay here".

"I think Kerry should stay and unpack. You're better at that sort of thing than I am", Darren suggested. "Andrew and I can go shopping".

"Great", Andrew said. "Darren, would you start a check on what stores we do have. I just need to transfer payment to Steve for the haul out."

Andrew set up his laptop, made the transfer and then he and Darren had a quick check through the cupboards to see what was still there. The freezers were empty as the yacht had been without power while she had been on the hard. Then they took the car and drove into town. They returned about an hour later with several bags and packed every-thing away before going to their respective cabins to help.

It started getting really chilly when the sun went down, so Ryan turned on the generator so that the air conditioning could be run without depleting the solar batteries which would have to run the air conditioning through the night.
They ultimately decided that instead of taking the twins out in the cold, they would get take out and dine on board.

After the twins had been bathed, and they and Rascal fed, Ryan and Darren drove to one of the local steakhouses for steaks and spare ribs which they tucked into when they got back, sitting around the table in the saloon where it was warm and cosy with the sliding door to the cockpit closed and the heat turned up on the air conditioning. Ryan shared some of his meat with Rascal who was sitting under the table at his legs, nudging him every now and then to make sure Ryan hadn't forgotten about him.

After dinner, Andrew hooked up his laptop to the entertainment system and they watched the footage that he had filmed in Europe. Darren and Kerry were in raptures over 'Texas Lass' and when they watched the beach club being opened up they were both slack-jawed in amazement. They loved the islands, especially Santorini, and made the decision to visit the Greek islands at the first opportunity. Afterwards, they drank coffee and watched a movie, going to bed quite early in anticipation of a busy day ahead and the voyage back.

The next morning after a hearty breakfast, Ryan arranged to move 'Belle Catherine' to the yacht club to use the fuel dock to top up the diesel tanks, get fresh water and stay the night. They were provided with shore power so warmth would not be a problem that night and then they all went shopping, leaving Rascal sleeping on the bed in the master cabin.

On their return the safety netting proved its worth when an excited Rascal, ecstatically happy that they were back and was scampering around, got too close to the edge of the deck and would have gone overboard had the netting not been there. As it was, his one back leg got stuck between the deck and the bottom of the netting causing him to yelp in alarm and pain and Ryan had to rescue him. He had a bit of a limp for two days after which he was his old self, but he made sure he stayed well away from the deck edge., walking right up against the saloon windows if he was on the sidedecks. After lunch, the rest of the afternoon was taken up with packing away all the provisions, unpacking what had been stored in the lockers and getting ready to set sail. Ryan and Darren ran their own checks on the mechanical equipment, even though they knew Steve and his people had already done it and dropped the protection screens around the aft cockpit so that the area could be used as well, while Andrew and Kerry prepared some meals for the freezer, just be on the safe side, and Rascal kept a faithful, watchful eye on the twins who were now crawling well.

They set sail the next morning after breakfast. Ryan had decided to wait for good light before attempting the passage between the Knysna Heads, the narrow channel that had to be negotiated to get to the Indian Ocean from the Knysna lagoon which was normally fairly rough, but could get very dangerous in certain conditions. It did prove to be quite rough and 'Belle Catherine' rolled and pitched as they motored through the channel. But once out into the open sea and away from the coast, her passage calmed and she sailed slowly and serenely southwest, pushed by a steady southerly wind, cutting across the wide mouth of the shallow bay that lay between Knysna and Mossel Bay at its southern end.

On approach to Mossel Bay, Andrew contacted the local yacht club and managed to arrange a berth large enough for them to tie up to and they glided into the harbour in the early afternoon after lunch. The plan was to stay for two nights to investigate what attractions the town offered with a view to including it in the itinerary for the Kinleys.

Immediately after mooring, they all headed to the yacht club to pay the fees for which shore power and water was included and to introduce themselves. The commodore met them in the members lounge overlooking the marina and they told him of their reason for stopping over.
He was very enthusiastic, and gave them a few ideas which they investigated after hiring a SUV, including the Batholomew Dias Museum which contained a full size replica of the ship on which Dias arrived in 1488 and the Post Office Tree, where, in 1501, a Portuguese sailor who sought refuge in Mossel Bay from a storm, left an account of the storm under the tree in an old boot. The letter was found by the person it was addressed to and became the place to leave messages. Today, the tree has its own post box, and letters and postcards can still be posted from the tree with a special stamp obtainable from the hotel or restaurant nearby.

The next day, they also visited the Inverroche Gin School @ Café Gannet, where after a tour of the distillery and a tasting, they could each craft their own unique bottle of gin to take home.
The final attraction they investigated was the 1.1km long zip line over the ocean where speeds of 80km/h are achieved. Kerry took one look and decided it was way too adventurous for her, so she watched over the twins while the guys rode the zip line, their screams of exhilaration, or terror, she wasn't quite sure which, fading in the distance. The three thrillseekers arrived back at the zip line offices slightly damp and cold but completely exhilarated, they piled into the SUV and drove back to the yacht for hot showers and a change of clothes.

Another excursion that Andrew jotted down was a drive to Oudtshoorn to take in the Cango Caves and an ostrich farm. It would be a full day excursion and could be done from Knysna as well as the distances were relatively similar.
Dinner that night was Janice's good rib-sticking chicken and prawn curry with rice and rotis, just right for the cold weather.

Ryan set sail before breakfast with a breezy wind blowing from the south and a bit of a swell running, but 'Belle Catherine' handled the conditions with ease and it was pleasant sailing. They enjoyed a big breakfast in the aft cockpit, which was proving to be a bit of a sun trap with the screens down, and pleasantlywarm, although they all had an extra layer of clothing on too, including the twins who crawled around on the deck quite happily in warm baby grows with hoods. Ryan briefed them on what he had planned, telling them,

"Today and tomorrow, I want to call in at Still Bay and Witsand. I'd like to have a look at Cape Agulhas today as well to see if we can access the marker at the top of the cliff from the sea. If not, the only way to the marker will be from either Arniston or Gansbaai which we will check out tomorrow. Then we head for Hermanus"

Andrew made a big pot of tomato soup laced with sherry and cream and toasted cheese sandwiches for lunch which went down a treat.

At Still Bay, they anchored in a small sheltered cove and went ashore to explore. The small seaside village was located at the mouth of the Goukou River. They found the tourist information centre where they were told that the river was navigable for a distance of 15 km upriver from the mouth, so they took the dinghy upstream to investigate, finding several nice secluded spots where they could anchor the yacht and have dinner or a beach braai on the banks of the river.

At Witsand, they were stunned to find the seas off the tiny town populated by dozens of Southern Right whales. At the visitors centre, they were told that the small bay is well known for being a whale nursery, where the Southern Right females came to calve and nurse their babies, although by the time they wanted to come back in January, the whales would already have moved on. They sailed out of the bay with great care when they departed, with Andrew and Darren both perched on either bow to ensure they didn't collide with any of the huge creatures or their calves.

Arriving at Arniston, they found a small, very sheltered harbour where they could berth. Once again, the local visitors centre was the first stop and they were extremely helpful, advising that the marker at Cape Agulhas was only accessible from the landward side through the nature reserve. There were tours available from the town to the marker and when Andrew enquired, he was told that there was one vehicle rental company in the town.

Gansbaai would be a highlight of the trip, where they would go shark diving They were not able to do a dive on the day they were there due to a very heavy swell, but Andrew and Ryan had a long chat with the tour operators to discuss their requirements and were assured that it would not be a problem

Ryan and Darren took turns at the helm, their main job being to keep them on course and to keep a wary eye out for whales and far larger, maritime traffic plying the busy seaway up the east coast of the country as they were sailing quite far out to sea to escape the fairly heavy swell closer to the shore.
Ryan had been studying the weather forecast for the next few days and looked up from the laptop.

"Okay crew, we've got another cold front heading in from the northwest. We are going to have to take shelter in Hermanus for a day or two until it passes. It looks like it could be quite intense", he told them.

"There are worse places we could take shelter", commented Andrew."I should probably contact the port authorities and see if we can secure a berth. I don't want to be moored out in the bay in a storm. From when will we be needing the berth?"

"We should be off Hermanus on Sunday afternoon. So to be on the safe side, try for three nights, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. It should be calm enough to sail home on Wednesday. Are you all okay with that?"
Everyone nodded in agreement and Andrew went into the saloon to contact Hermanus port office, return
ing fifteen minutes later.

"Okay, all organised. We have a sheltered berth in the lee of the breakwater, which will protect us from the swell and most of the wind. I've also hired us a car to get around in. There is no way that I'm going to be in the area for a few days and not visit Southern Right and Hamilton Russell to top up on wine. Maybe Wildekrans as well. I would see us spending a few days here with the Kinleys as well. So the wine estates are a must, and I'd like to take them to Caledon for the day to visit the hot springs, spa and maybe the casino at the Caledon Casino Hotel & Spa. So I want us to take a drive up there as well", he told them.
Darren and Kerry grinned at one another. He looked at Andrew and Ryan saying,

"That's one of the reasons why we enjoy working with you guys. You really care about the client and you go above and beyond to make sure that they have the best experience possible. And we get to see places in the country we would probably never visit on our own. Like Caledon! Never knew they had a hot water spring, let alone a casino!"
Andrew grinned back at him.

"Then you're in for a treat. The hot water spring flows into a large pool called the Victoria Bath built in 18 - god knows when. It was originally a sanatorium treating people with chest ailments. The water apparently has healing properties. The sanatorium burnt down and a hotel was built on the property and early in the 2000's it was upgraded and refurbished, the casino was added and a whole new spa complex was built around the existing bath. It's incredibly popular for weekend trippers from Cape Town"

"And how hot is the water?", asked Kerry.

"The last time I was there, which is before my parents passed away, it was as hot as a good hot bath. I must just check though. I seem to remember the baths being closed on a Monday to be drained and cleaned. So we might have to go on Tuesday"

They arrived off Hermanus late in the afternoon, having had to motor the final 50km due to having to lower the sails as the wind was beginning to strengthen and blow directly over the bows, and the harbour master guided them to their berth in a small dinghy. When they were securely tied up to the quay, Ryan and Darren connected them to shore power and water, and checked the decks and mast making sure everything was battened down for the approaching storm and that the buffers were deployed on the starboard side that was closest to the quay to prevent possible damage to the hull, while Andrew went to collect the rental car. They had an early dinner ashore at one of the local steakhouses, bringing back a couple of doggie bags for Rascal to snack on. Andrew had to park the car in a parking area a short walk away from the yacht, so it was a slightly windswept and damp group that sought refuge and warmth on board when they got back, having to protect Cameron and Elizabeth from the wind and the spindrift blowing over the breakwater from the waves crashing against it.

Andrew and Ryan put the twins to bed in the master cabin while Kerry made everyone big mugs of hot chocolate which they laced with their liquor of choice and settled down to watch some satellite TV.
After a while, they became aware that the wind was building in intensity and rain was drumming on the roof of the saloon as the storm approached. By the time they went to bed, the wind was howling and the rain was bucketing down. Ryan checked that the aft cockpit was staying dry, impressed at the effectiveness of the protection screens, before locking the security gate and closing the sliding door and going to join his family in the master cabin.

The morning dawned grey, wet and blustery with low, heavy looking cloud and a steady rain. The wind had abated slightly but was still strong enough to cause the rain to fall at a slant. Inside the yacht, it was warm and cosy as they emerged from their cabins and peered through the windows at the miserable weather outside. Andrew got busy in the galley with breakfast, while Ryan dressed the twins and showered. When Kerry returned to the saloon after her shower and dressing, Andrew left the rest of the breakfast prep to her and went to shower and dress himself. He and Ryan brought the twins with them when they came back from the cabin and Ryan fed the twins while Andrew finished breakfast prep with Kerry.

It was warm enough in the aft cockpit, so Darren set the table and they all sat down to a hearty breakfast of oats
porridge and bacon and scrambled egg with toast and mugs of coffee, watching the rain stream down the clear windows of the protection screens. Darren and Kerry cleaned up the breakfast things while Andrew and Ryan packed a bag for the twins and they waited for a break in the rain before making a dash for the car.

Andrew drove through the town towards the mountains. Halfway there he turned into the Wildekrans Wine Estate where he bought a case of Estate Chenin Blanc and had a tour of the cellars with the wine master himself. Then they drove the short distance to the luxurious Arabella Hotel for lunch before negotiating the Houw Hoek Pass through the mountains to Elgin, the centre of the apple growing area where they toured a factory and bought apple juice and cider.

Ryan drove back to Hermanus, having to drive very sedately due to the rain that sheeted down as successive squalls passed over and they arrived back in the late afternoon. It took two trips to unload the car and transfer all the purchases to 'Belle Catherine' and when it was done Andrew and Kerry set about preparing a sweet and sour pork dish with an apple cider based sauce, stir fried vegetables and rice, while Ryan sorted out the twins and fed Rascal. They ate in the saloon with the twins between them and Rascal under the table nudging Ryan's leg for titbits.
Everyone thought the dish was a keeper so Andrew and Kerry sat down and formulated a recipe on the laptop, printing out a copy for the file of recipes in the galley.

After dinner, they cuddled with the twins, watched some TV and when the babies fell asleep, took them to the cabin and put them to bed. For the first time since they returned from Europe, Rascal, who had hardly allowed Andrew and Ryan out of his sight, lay down next to the cribs on his bed, curled up and stayed, watching over the twins. They
went back to the saloon, but stayed just long enough to have some hot chocolate before everyone decided to head for their beds in anticipation of a fairly early start the next morning for the outing to Caledon.

When they woke up the next morning, it had stopped raining, but it was still very windy with a fairly large swell running. Grey clouds scudded overhead revealing blue patches and some weak sunshine every now and then.

Andrew and Ryan fed the twins their porridge and they all had coffee and rusks before leaving for the one hour drive to Caledon on the same road they drove the day before, except instead of going left to the pass, they turned right for the forty minute drive to the resort. The road passed through lupin, canola and wheat fields on either side, the blue and yellow flowers of the lupins and canola adding vibrant colour to the otherwise dull day. The road pased above the small town with the entrance to the resort just out of town.

Andrew was pleased to see the parking area was sparsely occupied and hoped that most of those were people who were in the casino. They paid the entrance fee which included entrance to all the resort facilities, except for actual spa treatments, and parked close to the entrance to the spa complex.

The resort was built on the slope of a hill with the spa complex situated above the hotel and casino with the parking area between. Andrew was even more pleased when they walked into the Victoria Bath to find it completely deserted apart from the attendant at the door. The bath was housed in a slightly oblong building open to the sky, but with a covered veranda supported by columns surrounding it. Steam rose from the surface of the water almost filling the void.

They explored the spa area, touring the treatment areas and rooms, then climbing the rock stairs up the hill to the very top where the spring emerged from the side of the hill before cascading down in a series of rock pools, each pool bigger than the one above it. They returned to the Victoria Bath, collected towels from the attendant, hired fluffy bathrobes and went to change into their bathing suits. Andrew and Ryan took the twins in with them, just allowing the lower half of their bodies into the water as it was warmer than their normal bath water. Even that proved to be very relaxing and it wasn't long before the babies were both asleep in their dad's arms. They wrapped the babies up warmly and let them sleep in their baby seats on a lounger next to the pool. They spent the morning in the pool, emerging slightly pink and feeling very languid, got dressed, returned the towels and robes and explored the rest of the resort, wandering through the casino, hotel and gardens, before having lunch in the buffet restaurant in the hotel.

To drive back to Hermanus, Andrew took the back route, driving down the hill from the resort, into and through the town and into the Hemel and Aarde (Heaven and Earth) valley where Hamilton Russell and Southern Right were situated. They made two quick stops to get two cases each of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc and rejoined the road they had driven out on, just outside of Hermanus. Back on the yacht, they were welcomed home by an ecstatic Rascal. Ryan took him for a walk along the cliffs while Darren topped up the fuel tanks for the run to Cape Town.

They slipped out of Hermanus just before sunrise, under a partly cloudy sky and with enough of a swell running to make their progress just slightly uncomfortable, but it improved as the day wore on. The westerly wind meant motoring all the way across the mouth of False Bay, where the wind began veering south as the storm passed and by the time they rounded Cape Point at the tip of the peninsula and turned north, a steady breeze was blowing from the south and they could finally raise the mainsail and spinnaker and cut the engines. They made good time up the peninsula and they cruised into the Waterfront marina shortly before sunset.
Andrew, Darren and Kerry got the boat squared away and secure while Ryan went to fetch the car which David and Janice had collected from the airport and parked in one of the bays allocated to Andrew's apartment where Darren and Kerry were living.

The younger couple offered to close up the yacht so Andrew and Ryan packed the car, transferred the twins and Rascal to the back seat and set off for home, stopping to buy some sushi on the way for dinner. The twins were unhappy by the time they arrived home as it was more than an hour past their normal dinner time, so the first thing they did was get the babies bathed, fed, cuddled, and when they had fallen asleep, put into their cots to sleep. Only then did they sit down in the lounge to relax and have dinner. Andrewopened a bottle of wine to enjoy with the sushi and he rustled up some ice cream and chocolate sauce tosatisfy Ryan's sweet tooth. The day at sea had left them both quite weary, so they went upstairs early to shower and get some sleep on a stationary bed.

Over the next two days, they didn't do much, just staying at home and spending time with each other and the twins. They discussed the itinerary for the Kinley family and emailed it to Dan and Joan. They received a reply two days later with the go ahead.

The cold front had moved on, so Cape Town was basking in the glorious, windless winter sunshine days that are so typical of a Cape winter once a storm has passed. They took the twins for walks along the beachfront, keeping them well wrapped up and had David and Janice around for dinner on the Friday night.

They had a BBQ, and decided to forego the usual salads for potatoes and a selection of vegetables grilled over the coals. Andrew whipped up a malva pudding which he served with hot custard and dinner was sorted. They talked about the arrangements for the wedding, Janice's exhibition at the lodge and the plans to look for a new property to compliment the lodge.

David and Janice were leaving for Johannesburg at the end of the following week to be on hand to assist with the final bits and pieces in the run up to the big day, which was being held at a venue that normally hosted outdoor garden events in the summer, but had a beautiful glass conservatory for indoor events, which was where the reception would take place. The ceremony would be held in a gazebo on the same property a short distance from the conservatory.

Andrew and Ryan had told Donna and Craig that their wedding gift to them would be the honeymoon, including a hotel room for the night of the wedding and that all the bridal couple had to worry about was their clothes and passports. When asked what they should pack, all Ryan told them was to pack for warm weather. The destination would remain a secret until the day before the wedding when the Devlin-Majors arrived in Johannesburg for the nuptials.

The exhibition at the lodge was going very well. All the original works had been sold and replaced with a second batch of which more than half had been sold and Janice had a few more on hand should they be required.

Ivan had sent Andrew a couple of emails with pictures of prospective properties, but none of them had caught his eye and he had not followed up on them, just calling Ivan to tell him to keep looking.

On the Saturday morning after the dinner with the Majors, Andrew and Ryan went shopping for outfits for the wedding and to get some groceries, especially diapers and wet wipes for the babies and a large playpen. Andrew also bought a copy of the Saturday newspaper which contained a large supplement for properties on sale and upcoming property auctions.

When they got home, they erected the playpen and put the twins in it to play. Andrew prepared a lamb stew for dinner which he put into the slow cooker, turned it on and left it to do its thing, while Ryan made bacon and egg rolls for lunch.

With the twins and Rascal crawling around in the playpen, they sat on the couch with the laptop on Andrew's lap and looked at possible venues for Craig and Donna's honeymoon. They had already decided that Zanzibar would be the destination, they just had to make all the arrangements. After an hour of checking various websites, it became clear that the easiest option was a package deal that included flights, accommodation and all transfers. But that wasn't good enough for Andrew and they eventually settled for separate flight, accommodation and transfer reservations.

They made the reservations and received confirmations within the hour. Then they made return flight reservations for themselves and the twins to and from Johannesburg, leaving Cape Town on the Friday before the wedding and returning on the Sunday at midday, on the same flight that David and Janice were on, hotel accommodation close to the venue and a rental vehicle.

Finally, they paged through the property supplement and found a possible candidate for the new lodge in the auctions section.

It was a deceased estate for a 15 year old property with large grounds located on the beachfront. The auction notice included a website address which they went into and found several colour photographs of the property. Andrew became more excited with every picture, his instincts telling him he might have found what they were looking for. He had got the same feeling when he saw the advert for the lodge.

The building was certainly not perfect. It was actually an apartment block with a somewhat odd layout. With a
basement level and five above ground floors, the block had ten apartments in one, two and three bedroom config-urations on three floors, and two penthouses on the top floor with large patios. The ground level and basement contained two parking bays per apartment, service areas and stores. It was located to the rear of the property, with a spacious grassed area, terraced on two levels running down to the road that separated it from the beach and a generous sized swimming pool on the upper level.
Ryan peered sideways at Andrew.

"You like it, don't you?"

Andrew looked up from the screen.

"I do like it, very much. My gut tells me this is the one. Depending on the actual layout. And it's literally in walking distance from home. Could we go and take a look tomorrow? I don't know if we'll be able to see much. It might be all locked up. But at least we can get a better idea".

And that's exactly what they did. The next morning after breakfast, with the twins in the chest harnesses and Rascal on his leash, they walked along the beachfront until they were opposite the property and stopped to look at it. Andrew was astonished that he hadn't noticed the property before. He lifted the video camera he had brought with him and started filming.

The building was vacant, all the tenants having moved out, looking rather forlorn and the grass, although lush and green, was very long. But the exterior of the building seemed to speak to Andrew.

The centre of the building had a glass enclosed portico that continued up to the top floor. It was clad in some sort of rock, possibly sandstone. All the windows were surrounded by the same rock, as were the grill covered openings to the ground level parking bays. The remaining walls were plastered and painted in a sand colour. A large sign advisedthat the auction would take place at 11h00 on the following Wednesday.

They crossed the road and opened the small gate in the low wall at the bottom of the garden and followed the path, clad in the same sandstone, across the expanse of grass to the front of the building. The doors were locked so they walked around the building, going through another gate, and found themselves on the street behind the property that gave access to the parking garage. They followed the ramp down into the basement and had a good look around, with Andrew capturing everything on video.

The basement housed a large glass enclosed lobby that ran the full width of the building,with two elevators at the rear and a staircase at the front, which Andrew surmised came out in the portico at the front of the building and then continued upwards to the accommodation floors. There were also a number of large storerooms and large air conditioning units in each wing of the garage.
Ryan pushed one of the glass doors and to their surprise it swung open. They stepped into the lobby and walked up the stairs to the ground floor where, as Andrew had thought, it opened into the rock clad portico. The lobby area was exactly the same size as the one below, but was double volume, so they continued up to the first apartment level. A huge surprise was the stone clad spiral staircase that rose ahead of them. There were small oblong windows in the front wall of the staircase, but it was still quite dark as they proceeded with caution.

The three full floors of apartments were exactly the same layout, one side the mirror image of the other. None of the interior doors were locked, so they made a thorough exploration of the rooms.
Two one bedroom apartments on either side of the staircase, three two bedroom apartments and a three
bedroom on either end. All the apartments had lounge/diners, kitchens and bathrooms with the three bedroom having a full en-suite as well. The kitchens and bathrooms were all of similar size, although the lounge/diners differed in size, depending on the number of bedrooms each apartment had. Each apartment had its own separate wrought iron balcony across the length of the apartment with access from the lounge and main bedroom. The three bedroom allowed access from the second bedroom as well. The entrance doors were all off open corridors at the rear of the property.

On the top floor, the penthouses were huge. Each one had heavy, double entrance doors directly off the elevator lobby and three double bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a guest cloakroom, large kitchen and separate lounge and dining room opening onto the large tiled patio surrounded by waist high wall with wrought iron inserts. The balcony on the front to the apartment opened onto the patio as well.

Andrew leaned against the patio wall, his back to the view of the bay, city and Table Mountain, and grinned at Ryan.

"Ry, it's not perfect, but we can work on it. I absolutely love it. I need to get a structural engineer in here before Wednesday to see if my plans will be feasible."

"What do you have in mind, my love?", Ryan asked.

"Okay, this is all subject to the structural engineer giving the go ahead! Starting from the bottom, the basement remains as is, with a few improvements. The ground floor becomes the main level of the lodge Reception, offices, guest lounge, restaurant, function room etc. This is where I need the structural advise, because I need to open it up. As few support columns as possible"

"The one and two bedroom units stay as they are. The three bedroom units, we keep four as they are. The other two we convert into two bedroom executive suites with butler service. One penthouse stays as is. The other becomes the spa, a small gym and hair salon. What does the building remind you of?"

Ryan furrowed his brow, giving the question some thought.

"Only thing I can think of is one of the castles we saw in Scotland, with all the sandstone cladding".

"Got it, that's what it I thought as well. I want to call it The Cameron! Just that. No lodge or hotel. Just The Cameron! The ground floor guest areas carpetted in the Cameron hunting tartan, with tiles in the heavy traffic areas. Coats of Arms in frames on the walls, gleaming wood furniture, chandeliers. The Cameron tartan can be carried through to the bedrooms as well. Maybe not in the carpets. That might be too much, but definitely in the other soft furnishings. Valances for the curtains, cushions on the beds. Things like that". Andrew's enthusiasm was tangible and Ryan walked over to him and hugged him.

"You really want this, don't you, my love?"

"I do, but I don't want to get too excited just yet. The engineer has to approve it first. Without that approval, it's a bust. It won't work. Let's go home. I need to contact the structural engineer we used when we added the extra floor to Blue Bay".

They took, what Andrew now called, the turret stairs and retraced their steps back to the beachfront and home. The twins, who had fallen asleep on the walk home, were put into the playpen to sleep and while Ryan heated up some left over lamb stew for lunch, Andrew phoned Paul. They exchanged pleasantries and Andrew got down to business.

"Paul, I need the contact number for the structural engineer we used for the lodge"

"Yeah sure, I have it on file, Drew. Is there a problem?", asked Paul sounding concerned.

"No, there's no problem. I think Ryan and I have found our new lodge. But I need a professional opinion on the structure to see if I can make the changes that I want to make, so that it will work," Andrew explained.

"Oh, that's great. Where is it?"

"I'm not saying anything until I know if it will be suitable. So cool your jets. You'll know just as soon as I know. Which needs to be soon. The property goes on auction on Wednesday. So I need him to have a look ASAP".

Paul gave him the number and he contacted the engineer immediately, apologising for disturbing his Sunday afternoon. He explained the situation and he agreed to meet Andrew at the property at 9am the next morning. Then Andrew contacted the agent handling the auction telling him that he was interested in the property but needed to get access for a structural inspection prior to the auction to assess whether the property was feasible for what he had in mind, and the agent agreed to meet them at the property the next morning as well.

Sleep would not come easy that night. Andrew was like a kid on a sugar high and Ryan did his best to get him to relax and calm down. He had a very restless night, his brain in overdrive, and he eventually slipped out of bed and went to one of the spare rooms so that Ryan, at least, could get a decent nights sleep. He did eventually drop off in the early hours of Monday morning and only woke up when Ryan shook his shoulder.

"Drew babe, wake up".

Andrew peered up at a the concerned face of his husband.

"Morning Ry. What time is it?"

"Just after 6.30", Ryan replied. "What the hell are you doing here? I wake up this morning and you aren't in the bed next to me. I check in on Cam and Elizabeth. You're not there either. I go downstairs, nothing. It was only when I came back upstairs that I noticed this bedroom door was slightly ajar. I was worried sick when I couldn't find you" Andrew got off the bed and shrugged into his robe.

"Oh crap, I'm sorry my love. I was tossing and turning and was worried I was disturbing you. So I came in here", he explained. Ryan put his arms around Andrew.

"Drew, I know today means a lot to you. But, my love, you really need to chill".

"I'm okay now, Ry. What will be, will be! Have you had coffee yet?"

"No, not yet. Been running around looking for my husband", he replied grinning at Andrew. "And I'm not sure coffee is a good idea for you this morning. Camomile tea is maybe a better idea".

Andrew giggled.

"Was I that bad yesterday?. But I agree! Camomile tea it is. I'll go and make it and your coffee and bring it to the room. You go fetch our babies and we can have a bit of family time before our meeting. I think we must leave them with Yvonne this morning. I don't think we'll be out too long".

"Good idea . Hurry back. I missed waking up with you this morning". Ryan pecked him on the lips as strolled out of the room to the nursery.
Ten minutes later, Andrew was back with the tea and coffee, having fed Rascal while he waited for the kettle to boil. They played with Cameron and Elizabeth after changing their diapers, blowing raspberries on their tummies making them squeal in delight. Ryan went to shower while Andrew stayed with the twins and they traded places when Ryan came out of the bathroom. When Andrew was done, he went to the kitchen to get baby cereal and make bottles of formula. Yvonne had just arrived for work and was making a mug of coffee for herself, so he didn't have to wait for the water to boil.

"Morning Yvonnie. How was your weekend?"

"Morning Mr Andrew. Oh, it was just the usual. Some shopping on Saturday and church on Sunday. And lots of relaxation".

"Good to hear it. Ryan and I have got an unexpected meeting this morning at nine. Can we leave the munchkins with you for a couple of hours?"

"Oh yes of course Mr Andrew. With pleasure. I'd love to look after them. They're no trouble at all"

"Thanks Vonnie, you're a star. We're just going to give them their breakfast and early bottles. We'll bring them down when we're ready to leave. Have you seen the playpen we bought? We'll put them in there with their toys. If you could just keep an eye on them"

"No problem Mr Andrew. With pleasure".
Andrew went back upstairs and they fed the twins the cereal and let them lie on the bed to drink their bottles while he and Ryan dressed for the meeting. Then they dressed the babies and shortly before 9am the family came down-stairs. They put the twins in the playpen and leaving Yvonne to fuss over them, left for the short drive to the meeting with the engineer and agent.

When they arrived at the rear entrance, the engineer and agent were already there, standing near their vehicles having a chat. Andrew and Ryan walked up to them and the structural engineer smiled in greeting, extending his hand. He was holding a roll of plans in the other.

"Hi Andrew, Ryan. It's good to see you guys again".

"Morning Gavin, thanks for coming at such short notice", Andrew said. The agent extended his hand and introduced himself.

"Good morning gentlemen, Harry Lamson, the auctioneer handling this project".
Andrew and Ryan introduced themselves and Harry enquired,

"Okay, where do you want to start?"

"I guess we need to look at the basement and ground floors", replied Andrew."But Gavin will be the better judge of that. But let's start in the ground floor parking garage and take it from there"

Harry led them into the garage area and Andrew continued.

"What we need to know is whether we can open up this area. Remove some of the columns. Will the building still be safe?", he said, looking at Gavin, who smiled.

"When you and I spoke yesterday and you gave me the address, it rang a bell. As it happens, this building was one of the first projects that I was involved with after I qualified and started working. That company has since closed down and I have my own company now. But I kept copies of the plans of every project I have worked on. And these are the plans for this place. I can tell you right now, this place will survive a major earthquake. When it was built, everything was overspec. The original owner had plans to gradually add three more levels of apartments. From what I can see he only added the penthouses. The upshot of that was that there were twice as many support columns than were required. So the good news is, yes, you can remove every second column without fear that the place will come crashing down around you. You cannot, however remove any of the central core supports. That is, the central elevator and stairway lobbies", he explained to them.

Andrew, who was barely managing to contain his excitement looked at Gavin and said,

"So, just to be clear. There are four rows of columns here. Can I take out the two inner rows and still be within spec?"

"In my professional opinion, yes. No problem at all. When the concrete was cast for each level, the steel rebar was designed to transfer the load, with the outer walls and columns taking the major portion. I'll do a thorough inspection and get a preliminary report to you by tomorrow evening, but I can confidently say you can bid on the auction with no problem at all", Gavin told them. Andrew was beaming and shook Gavin's hand.

"Thank you, you have no idea how pleased I am to hear that. All I have to do now is get the damn place. What are you expecting to get for it on Wednesday, Harry?, Andrew asked, turning to the agent.

"I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to reveal that, Andrew. I can tell you that the property is bond free with only municipal service charges and taxes due. But that the executors of the estate will have to sort out from the proceeds of the auction. They are aware they're not going to get its full worth, it is vacant and needs alot of work. Just give it your best shot and we'll see what happens. May I ask what you want to do with it?"

"We want to convert it into a luxury lodge. We already own a lodge in Bloubergstrand and we need a second property to compliment Blue Bay and funnel bookings we cannot accommodate at the moment"

"Wait, you own Blue Bay Lodge. My wife and I love going there for the Sunday lunch. And she spends a small fortune at the spa", he exclaimed. Ryan nodded.

"Yeah, Blue Bay is ours. We can't expand there any further. So hence our search for another property".

"Wow, okay! I think I see why this place appeals to you. Similar and yet, different".

"Exactly!", added Andrew. "We don't want an exact copy of Blue Bay. Hopefully, services and comfort levels will be the same but we want a different atmosphere. And with what we have in mind, it will be just that".

Gavin rolled up the plans and said,

"Gentlemen, I won't keep you any longer. I'll get going with the inspection and I'll email you my report as soon as it's done".

They bade their farewells and drove to the attorneys who administered the trust, where Andrew explained the situation and the amount of money he required. Ryan's eyes bulged when Andrew mentioned the figure, but the attorney didn't even bat an eyelid, merely picked up the phone and called the bank to arrange the finances. Andrew had requested a bank guaranteed cheque for five million and a further guarantee for fifteen million. Andrew patted Ryan's arm.

"Don't look at me like that Ry. I have absolutely no intention of spending it all on the auction. I want it as cheaply as possible. The refurbishment still has to come. And that's going to cost bucks."

They left the attorney and drove to the bank where they collected the guarantees and were advised that the attorney had called back and arranged for a further ten million to be held for refurbishment expenses. They drove home, stopping off on the way to buy fried fish and chips with coleslaw for them and Yvonne for lunch. When they opened the front door, they were greeted by a very happy Rascal and the warm aromas of eastern spices.

"Oh my god!," Andrew exclaimed, "That smells amazing". They climbed the stairs to the living room and Andrew yelled,

"Yvonne, what is that? It smells incredible", moving towards the twins who were standing up in the playpen, holding onto the sides and bouncing up and down. Yvonne emerged from the kitchen, drying her hands on the apron she was wearing, smiling.

"Hello Mr Andrew, Mr Ryan. I'm just making some Chicken Breyani for your supper tonight. How was your meeting?".

Ryan moved past them to put the food into the oven to keep warm.

"It went very well thanks, Vonnie. I'm sorry we were a bit longer than I thought we would be. That breyani smells amazing. You must give me your recipe so I can make it on the yacht"

Yvonne visibly preened at the compliment.

"It's an old family recipe, Mr Andrew. I'll write it down for you".

"Thank you. We brought some fish and chips for lunch. You haven't eaten yet have you?", he asked bending down to pick up Cameron. Ryan already had Elizabeth in his arms.

"No, not yet. I was going to have something once I had the breyani done. Can I make you some tea or coffee?"

"Just put the kettle on. I'll make it. You finish up and we can sit down and eat when you're done"

They fussed over the twins until the kettle boiled, then Andrew went to make tea for him, Yvonne and the twins and coffee for Ryan. He quickly set the table and when Yvonne was ready, the twins went into the playpen to drink their bottles and the three adults sat at the dining table for lunch.

Yvonne left for home about an hour after lunch after giving Andrew his recipe and precise instructions on reheating the meal she had prepared for dinner. The twins were asleep in the playpen, covered with light blankets to ward off the chill that accompanied another approaching winter storm. Andrew sat on the couch with his laptop and Ryan sitting next to him, formulating ideas for the new lodge. When Ryan got up to make coffee, Andrew pulled out his mobile and called Paul.

"Hi Paul, have you got anything planned for Wednesday 11am?", he asked

"No Drew, just the usual. Why do you ask?"

"Would you care to join Ry and I at an auction?".

"If it's for the new property, then yes, most definitely. Where is the auction?"

"It is for the new property. It's being held on site in the parking garage. Will you meet us there? Viewing actually starts at 10 and the actual sale at 11.I t's on Beach Boulevard. You can't miss it".

"I'll be there at 10 to have a look around"

"Great, see you Wednesday".

Wednesday dawned wet, windy and miserable. But Andrew would not allow the weather to dampen his excitement and enthusiasm. He was, however, also very nervous. It was his very first auction and he might be spending millions of rand. Gavin had sent him the structural report as promised and he felt very positive about the whole thing. They had contemplated taking the twins with them, but decided ask Janice if she would babysit which, of course, she agreed to with alacrity. Anything to spend time with her darling grandchildren.

They arrived at the auction just after 10am and parked behind Paul's SUV on the street. A large banner indicated that an auction was going to take place and Paul stood waiting for them just inside the garage, out of the steady drizzle and wind. He grinned and shook his head as they approached him.

"Now I know you are nuts, Drew. This place is a dump".

Ryan and Andrew shook his hand and Ryan answered him.

"I thought so too when I first saw it, Paul. But after a good look around and listening to what Drew has planned, I've changed my mind. What you see is all cosmetic. It can be cleaned up with a high pressure hose and a paint brush. But the bones of the place are solid"

"Thanks for the vote of support babe. Paul, if I can get this place at the right price, it will be worth every cent. I have a figure in mind that I am not prepared to exceed. If we can get it at or below that figure, even better. But let's take you through and you can make up your own mind. We won't say anything"

The power was on in the building and what fittings had bulbs that worked, were turned on. The elevators were also operational. They started in the basement and worked their way up, using the elevator. Paul spent some time looking at the ground floor, obviously aware that it would somehow become the main guest area of the lodge and then they walked all the accommodation floors, ending in the penthouses, by which time he looked a bit happier. They used the turret stairs back down to the garage, getting there just before the auction was due to begin. Andrew registered as a bidder and was given a paddle with the number '2' on it. There was a fair crowd standing in front of the podium and Andrew wandered how many of them were bidders. He shifted from one foot to the other, his nervousness palpable and Ryan stood close to him in support.

The auction started with Harry presenting all the details of the property and when he asked for a bid, Andrew was quick off the block. He lifted his paddle and said,

"Five million!"

Paul and Ryan gaped at him and he grinned back. He was well aware that the bid was a cheeky one, but he might as well try.
A gentleman on their left raised his paddle, '1'.

"Six million". And so it continued with the two bidders increasing the bids by a million rand each time Andrew was really getting anxious.

"Twelve million", he said clearly, upping the bid by two million this time. But he was worried. This was the bottom end of his price range.
There was a long pause before he heard,

"Fifteen million", and he turned and buried his face in Ryan's shoulder. That was his top end. The price he promised himself he would not exceed. He turned back to find Harry looking at him and Andrew shook his head. He turned and started walking to the car, his eyes misty with disappointment.

"Do I have any more bids? Going once, going twice, sold to bidder number 1. Thank you", was the last thing he heard before getting to the street, Ryan and Paul following silently in his wake.
Andrew turned and looked at them, tears of disappointment sliding over his cheeks. Ryan wrapped his arms around him and hugged him.

"I'm sorry my love. I know how much this meant to you. We'll just have to find something else".
Andrew sniffed and took the tissues Ryan handed him.

"Fifteen million was the max I had decided to spend. Maybe I should here gone to sixteen". He wiped his eyes and blew his nose. Paul put his arm around Andrew's shoulders.

"Now you're second guessing yourself and that won't help. You had your plan and it didn't work. Maybe next time it will. We just have to be patient. Something will come up" he said. Andrew nodded forlornly.

"I know. I was just so sure about this place. It just felt so right! Thanks for being here Paul. I'm sorry it didn't work out".

"There's always a next time. Time to head back to work. I have a slavedriver for a boss", he said, ducking as Andrew took a swipe at the back of his head, but at least it made him smile.

"Idiot! You better get going before I send you to the galleys.", Andrew told him. He was chuckling as he slid into his SUV and drove away, waving as he went.

Ryan unlocked his SUV and watched as Andrew got in and slumped dejectedly in the seat, his head against the headrest. He slid into the drivers seat, started the car and headed for home, making a detour for Andrew's favourite junk food, southern fried chicken, as Ryan knew that he was in no mood to make something for lunch.

To his credit, Andrew brightened up when they got home and they cuddled the twins. It was the one thing that could improve both their moods. Spending time with their two little munchkins. They soon had him smiling again but his eyes couldn't hide his disappointment. Ryan took him out to dinner that night, once again prevaling on the good graces of his parents to babysit. They had a good time and Andrew had more wine than he usually drank, leaving him ever so slightly tipsy. Ryan left him in the car when they stopped to collect Cameron and Elizabeth from their grandparents and they drove home without saying anything, Andrew's hand on Ryan's thigh.

Andrew helped him get the babies upstairs and in their cots and then fell back on the bed while Ryan went down-stairs to make hot chocolate and lock up. When he got back, Andrew was fast asleep, the stress and disappointment of the day, and too much wine, having caught up with him. Ryan gazed down at his beloved, smiled and started to gently undress him and get him under the covers. Then he undressed and joined Andrew, who had turned on his side, spooning against his back and throwing his arm over him. He softly kissed the back of Andrew's neck and Andrew burrowed back against him, instinctively seeking his warmth and comfort. He was soon fast asleep as well.

Andrew dampened his disappointment the next day by by keeping himself busy with Cameron and Elizabeth, and planning a small birthday party for them, coming up in ten days time, both he and Ryan amazed at just how quickly time had passed since the twins had been born. They had decided that, although it was the toddlers milestone 1st birthday, they would keep it fairly low key, preferring to do something more elaborate the following year, when they would remember more of the event. The little celebration would, naturally, be videoed for all prosperity, and would be attended by family and close friends, including Yvonne and her family. As the actual day fell on a weekday, the party would take place on the Sunday before with a luncheon at the house and a little party later in the afternoon.

The weather the next day, however, mirrored Andrew's mood. Grey and miserable! The only time he perked up was when he was with the twins. Nothing could dampen the joy he found in having them around and by the evening, was almost back to normal. He spent the morning checking the property websites, bookmarking a couple of possibilities. Just before lunch his mobile rang showing a number he did not recognise.

"Andrew Devlin-Major! "

"Hi Andrew, it's Harry. From the auction"

"Yeah, hi Harry, what can I do for you?"

"Well, I'm hoping I can do something for you. I've been mandated to approach you and find out if you are still interested in the property that was sold on Wednesday. The buyer has failed to provide the necessary guaran-tees, so his bid is forfeit"

Andrew shot to his feet and beaconed to Ryan who was just coming down the stairs.

"Are you telling me that I can have the property if I still want it".

"Yes, I am. The executors have agreed to give it to you at your final bid price if you still want it".

Andrew was grinning like a Cheshire cat, his joy making Ryan smile as well.

"Yes. Absolutely yes! This is incredible! I can give you a bank guaranteed cheque for five million immediately and the balance tomorrow morning. Would that be acceptable? "

"Yes, no problem. Can I come through tomorrow around this time and just collect the full purchase price"

"Yes, yes, that's fine. Shall we meet here at the house or at Blue Bay Lodge?

"Let's meet at Blue Bay. It will give me an excuse to have lunch there".

"Lunch is on us. Say 12.30".

"12.30 it is. See you then. And congratulations".

"Thanks Harry. See you tomorrow".

Andrew stared at Ryan, his eyes shining, filled with excitement. The forlorn expression gone.

"Oh. My. God! It's ours, babe. The property is ours. The buyer defaulted. We got it for 12 million!".

Andrew threw himself into Ryan's arms, spinning them around.

Ryan was laughing as Andrew twirled them around.

"Ha, the love of my life is back. Congratulations my love. You say they defaulted".

"Yeah! They were supposed to provide all the guarantees within 48 hrs, if I remember correctly. They failed to do that and Harry was told to find out if we were still interested at our final bid price". He did a little jig making Ryan laugh again. "I got it at 3 million less than what I was prepared to pay for it. In my book, that's a bargain. Oh my god. I must tell Paul'.

He picked up his mobile again and dialed.

"Paulie, good news my friend. I just got a call. The property is ours"
"How the hell did you manage that, Drew"

"I had nothing to do with it. The buyers couldn't provide the guarantees in time. So they offered us the property at my final bid price of 12 million"

"Oh Drew, that's really good news. Congratulations. I'm convinced there is a higher power somewhere watching over you. As if wanting to compensate for taking your parents away. Since they died, everything you touch just seems to fall into place. So now the hard work starts".

"Yeah, true dat. We'll see you tomorrow. We're meeting Harry for lunch to sign the documents and hand over the cash. Can you join us?"

"Yeah, sure . Thanks. See you tomorrow"

At 2 pm on the first Saturday of August, Andrew and Ryan signed the documents and handed over two cheques totalling 12 million rand, and the Devlin-Major Portfolio became a reality.

Copyright © 2020 Andre Delport; All Rights Reserved.
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Sweet chapter, looking forward to following the renovations progress!!

Very enjoyable, from a native New Englander's perspective, I am loving the detail of a part of the world I want to visit!!

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Awesome chapter, a great tour along the coast and of course the notorious Cape weather had to play a part, but they came well enough, and so the holiday chain expended , it will be interesting to read about the end result. Great that the twins are getting active 

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There is much to like about this story, beautifully drawn characters, interesting storylines and well crafted narrative; but the thing that sets it apart from the majority of other gay-themed stories I have read and is a delight to witness, is the inclusion of Rascal. He is as an integral character to the story, a much loved member of the family who is included in most of its adventures, and not merely as an afterthought. Too often I have seen a pet adopted and initially adored, only to be relegated to an afterthought when human children are brought into the family unit. Andrew and Ryan are to be commended for their ongoing care for and love of Rascal, who time and time again has shown his devotion to, and understanding of, his human companions. 

Thank you Andre for including Rascal and for recognising and celebrating the human-pet bond.

Edited by Summerabbacat
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4 hours ago, Summerabbacat said:

There is much to like about this story, beautifully drawn characters, interesting storylines and well crafted narrative; but the thing that sets it apart from the majority of other gay-themed stories I have read and is a delight to witness, is the inclusion of Rascal. He is as an integral character to the story, a much loved member of the family who is included in most of its adventures, and not merely as an afterthought. Too often I have seen a pet adopted and initially adored, only to be relegated to an afterthought when human children are brought into the family unit. Andrew and Ryan are to be commended for their ongoing care for and love of Rascal, who time and time again has shown his devotion to, and understanding of, his human companions. 

Thank you Andre for including Rascal and for recognising and celebrating the human-pet bond.

Including Rascal was never going to be a problem. It is my tribute to my own adorable, loving Rascal, who, to my sorrow is no longer with me, but in doggie heaven. I miss him every day of my life. 

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8 hours ago, drsawzall said:

Sweet chapter, looking forward to following the renovations progress!!

Very enjoyable, from a native New Englander's perspective, I am loving the detail of a part of the world I want to visit!!

Glad you're enjoying the narrative tour. More to come when the Kinleys arrive.

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56 minutes ago, Andre Delport said:

Including Rascal was never going to be a problem. It is my tribute to my own adorable, loving Rascal, who, to my sorrow is no longer with me, but in doggie heaven. I miss him every day of my life. 

I am very sorry to hear of your loss Andre. It does however, explain the sincerity with which you write the character of Rascal.

The death of a beloved pet is as devastating as the loss of anyone you love. I can well understand your grief and ongoing sense of loss. When my first feline companion died in 2007 at the age of 14 I was grief stricken. I still think of him to this day. It was not until I adopted two rescue cats 6 months later that I felt life was complete again.

In the past 9 months I have come close in varying degrees, to the loss of my three eldest feline companions, all of whom are 14 years of age or just shy thereof. The only good thing that has come out of the worldwide pandemic has been my ability to work from home and care for them full time. Fortunately the one who came closest to death from a sudden liver infection made a full recovery after a lengthy stay in hospital and ongoing intensive care at home, although she too now has the onset of kidney disease, the scourge of many cats as they age. My eldest two also have it and declined very quickly initially, but fortunately have now plateaued. 

I look forward to the continued inclusion of Rascal in this story of he and his human family.

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I am excited for the new lodge, and I look forward to reading all about the remodel! I am also looking forward to their next trip with the Kinleys. I was fortunate to visit SA in early 1975. I spent two weeks in Cape Town, took a week tour up the Garden Route, and spent another week plus in Johannesburg. There is a lot I haven't seen, so all the travel details have been a pleasure to read! I hope to have one more trip to South Africa before I become too old to travel. Thanks for sharing this most enjoyable story!

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3 hours ago, JeffreyL said:

I am excited for the new lodge, and I look forward to reading all about the remodel! I am also looking forward to their next trip with the Kinleys. I was fortunate to visit SA in early 1975. I spent two weeks in Cape Town, took a week tour up the Garden Route, and spent another week plus in Johannesburg. There is a lot I haven't seen, so all the travel details have been a pleasure to read! I hope to have one more trip to South Africa before I become too old to travel. Thanks for sharing this most enjoyable story!

The Cape West and Southern coasts are very close to my heart, having spent many years both living, working and travelling in the areas.

Edited by Andre Delport
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When the new property was sold, it looked done and dusted. How forth are for the id to fail. What joy for Andrew, now we can get on with the redevelopment. Rascal has become an integral part of the family as most house dogs are. Another interesting chapter with a surprise ending. Thanks.


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That was exiting  the auction. Het at last won the bidding .

They can start to build the new hotel, his dream coming  tru

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