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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 - 23. Chapter 23

Celebrations come at a fast pace. The twins celebrate their 1st birthday, Donna and Craig get married, and The Cameron is completed.

There is also a passing reference to Clint's bdsm CD.

The purchase of the new property galvanised Andrew. Not that he would ever be considered lazy. But the project was just the sort of thing he thrived on and he jumped into it with both feet. By the end of the following week, he was already receiving quotes for the demolition and reconstruction phases.
The guest bedroom was cleared and turned into the project office and Andrew could be found there on most weekdays poring over samples, from paint, to tiles and wood to curtaining and furniture to lighting. One wall had been turned into a whiteboard where he could see his choices for each area.

The one thing, or rather two things that could draw him away, were the twins. 10 to 10.30, 12.30 to 1.30 and 3 to 3.30 were play time with Cameron and Elizabeth to be shared only with Ryan if he was home. They were a week away from their first birthday and every day they facinated and amazed Andrew more. And he loved them more. He knew without a doubt that the two little beings were the centre of his and Ryan's world. Everything else faded to insignificance against the twins.

Transfer of the property deed had still to take place but, after a long call to the executors of the estate, and in light of the full purchase price already having been paid, they had been given full immediate access to the building, so the workmen could start. The first jobs that had to be done were to gut the rooms back to bare walls and floors. Most of the fixtures and fittings were in good condition so Andrew had a second hand dealer come in and salvage as much as he could. What was left was sent to the dump. The other was to have the air conditioning units, stripped and reconditioned to new status. Andrew appointed the same architects who did the additions to Blue Bay to draw up plans for the alterations and a building contractor was appointed as well.

Their first job, under Gavin's watchful eye was to remove the two inner rows of columns to open up the lobby on the ground floor and some walls in the three bedroom apartments that would become the executive suites.. They also cut four openings in the turret where bigger windows would be installed.
Work on the project started in earnest in the second week of August and before they had time to blink, itwas time to celebrate the twins birthday.

Andrew and Ryan had discussed it and decided that because they were still so small and were unlikely to remember the event, they would not go overboard for the event, but rather keep the big splash for their 2nd birthday. The twins were going to be attending a nursery school from the beginning of April of the following year, when they were 18 months old. So there would also be more little ones who would be able to attend.
Right now, the only other children they interacted with was Jonathan, Paul and Marie's little boy who was a couple of months older than the twins, and Simone, the daughter of Kevin and Vanessa, a young couple who lived two doors down with whom they had become friendly. Simone was almost the same age as the twins. so they were invited to the little celebration. The other guests were all the adults who had been involved in their first year of life, David and Janice, Beth and Nicky, Claude and François, and Darren and Kerry. Also invited was Yvonne who came with her husband Jeremy and their two children.
Their birthday fell during the week, so Andrew and Ryan organised a lunch BBQ on the Sunday before, mainly for the adults, but there was also the usual birthday cakes, one for each of them, candy and chocolate, cheese puffs, crisps and ice cream. There was also two 'smash cakes' that the twins would be allowed to really get their little hands into and get messy. And lots of fruit juice to drink.

The weather played along, giving them a warm, sunny, wind free mid winters day, so the party was held on the grass next to the pool. They put down a rug and fashioned a low table that the kids could sit at easily. The table was covered with a Disney characters cloth with a bunch of helium filled balloons attached to each corner. Each child was given a party bag that contained one of the Disney characters, the chocolates and candy, as well as a whistle and a party blower. The kids parents had been told not to dress them in good clothes and it proved a wise decision, because by the time the party was over, all the children, one or two of the parents, and Rascal, had evidence of cake frosting, ice cream or chocolate on their clothes. Cameron and Elizabeth got stuck into their smash cakes with much enthusiasm, pushing their hands into it and smearing it all over their clothes and faces. The other four decided it looked like a lot of fun so they got stuck in as well with the same result. By the time the proper birthday cakes came out, the smash cake was strewn over the lawn and Rascal was having the time of his life, eating it and rolling in it. The parents all knew they were going to have hyper kids that evening.

They all sat in the warm sun between the kids and the pool while Ryan and David grilled the meat and they all ate on their laps when the food was ready. Andrew opened some of his Santorini wine which everyone commented on. The parents all had ice cream cones when the kids had theirs. The party was a great success and broke up when it started getting cooler in the late afternoon. David and Janice stayed to help clean up and then helped get the twins and Rascal cleaned up. As expected, they were both very hyper, like two little Duracell bunnies, but eventually their batteries ran down and they were out for the count. Rascal was also man down, having had far too much cake and he suddenly became Ryan's dog when he got sick and it had to be cleaned up. He was feeling very sorry for himself and slunk off to the nursery to sleep as well. When David and Janice left, Andrew and Ryan just had leftovers for dinner and were in bed early, quite exhausted by the days events. Their munchkins were growing up. They were one year old

Work progressed well on the new lodge site. The contractors were working on Saturdays as well, having been promised a bonus by Andrew if the lodge was ready on time. Andrew fretted a little about going away, even if only for a weekend, but Ryan and sanity eventually prevailed and they preparedto attend Donna and Craig's wedding in Johannesburg.

On the day of departure, Ryan dropped Rascal off with Claude and François for the weekend and they arrived at Cape Town International an hour before their 12.30pm flight, leaving Ryan's SUV in the short term parking garage and checked in at the SAA business class counters. Andrew had reserved four seats as bassinets were not available on domestic flights, even though the jet was an international wide body. The twins were in their air travel approved baby seats, the same ones they used in the cars, and could be secured to the aircraft seat with the seat belt. They just had to be with Andrew and Ryan for the take off and landing.

Their boarding passes gave them access to the Baobab business class lounge and they relaxed there for thirty minutes with coffee and a slices of carrot cake anf cheesecake. Lunch would be served on the plane.
Boarding occurred on time with families travelling with children permitted to board first. The business class cabin was empty when they entered it and found their seats four rows from the front. They sat the twins in their own seats while securing the baby seats to the aircraft seat with the assistance of a helpful flight attendant. Then they sat down in their own seats with Andrew at the window and Ryan sitting at the aisle across from where the twins would sit. The flight attendant brought them the infant seat belt extensions and helped them get settled, then brought them a pre departure drink and warm scented face cloths.

Boarding either occurred very quickly or they had a light passenger load because the doors were closed not long after they sat down and were jolted by the pushback tug attaching to the front undercarriage. Andrew glanced around the cabin and counted about a dozen other business class passengers.

The four massive Rolls Royce Trent engines growled into life, and the jet trundled along the taxiway past the FBO
where they had boarded their private jet when they flew to Europe and turned left onto the southern end of the runway. The four engines behind them spooled up very quietly and the huge jet sped down the runway before pointing it's nose into the sky. They banked to starboard just opposite the nuclear power station and set course for Johannesburg. Once the seat belt signs were turned off they put the twins into their chairs, making sure that they were strapped in, and gave them bottles with camomile tea and formula to drink and sat down again. Drinks were served and shortly after a hot lunch was served. The in flight entertainment system was not activated, but the two hour flight passed quite quickly and they began the descent into Johannesburg International. They gently unbuckled the sleeping babies and put them back on their laps for the landing.

When they were stopped at the terminal, it took a while to unfasten the baby seats and get the babies secured in the seats without waking them up. The flight attendants stopped the economy passengers to allow Andrew and Ryan to disembark with the twins, before allowing the economy passengers to proceed again. Their luggage was already circulating on the carousel, so they quickly loaded the bags onto two trolleys and with the twins on top of the bags, headed to the car rental counter to pick up the car.

Ryan drove straight to the hotel where they checked in and unpacked their clothes to hang out for the wedding, while waiting for the babies to wake up. When they were awake, Ryan gave them some apple juice to drink and they changed their diapers and dressed them in clean clothes.

The weather in Johannesburg was typical for the time of year. Warm, mostly cloudless days, but the temperature dropped dramatically once the sun started to set, leaving the nights decidedly cool.
They packed something warm for the twins to wear into the baby bag, grabbed warm coats for themselves and drove to Donna and Craig's townhouse where the family were waiting for them. Donna and Craig were taking their imme-diate families and the bridal party to dinner before Craig would move into rooms at the venue with Clint, his bestman, for the night. The dinner was also where Andrew and Ryan would reveal the honeymoon destination, and Ryan made sure all the documents and vouchers were in his coat pocket. Once the family reunion was over, and the twins being kidnapped by Janice and Donna, they relaxed, had sundowners, fed the twins their supper and chatted until it was time to leave for dinner.

The restaurant was an upmarket steakhouse, as Ryan later categorised it, and their party of fourteen wereseated at a long table in a semi private area on a raised section of the room. The menu consisted of the usual selection of steaks and grills, but they also had a carvery with three meats, potatoes, rice and a selection of vegetables. It was a very happy occasion with everyone in high spirits in anticipation of the wedding the next afternoon. Before dessert, both the bride and groom-to-be made short speeches and Donna finished off her speech with, "All we're waiting for now for my darling brother and brother-in-law to tell us where we're going on honeymoon".

Andrew and Ryan grinned at one another and Ryan stood up, taking all the documents out of his coat pocket.
"Okay sis, we'll put you out of your misery. First, you're booked into the honeymoon suite at the Airport Holiday Inn tomorrow night. Breakfast is included and anything else you need will be for our account.

Then a limo will pick you up at 9am to transfer you to the airport. I know it's early, but it was a choice of early departure, decent arrival time, or decent departure and arrival late at night. Your flight departs at 11am on Kenya Airways in business class to Nairobi and a connection ninety minutes later to your final destination. Zanzibar! A driver will be waiting at the airport on Zanzibar to transfer you to the Diamond Gemma Dell'est Resort where you are booked into a suite on a fully inclusive basis for a week. We have included some spending money as well.

Unfortunately, you have to slum it back as the timings of the flights on Kenya Airways between Zanzibar, Nairobi and Johannesburg were terrible. So you fly back on Mango direct to Johannesburg arriving at 6pm. A driver will also be waiting to drive you home."

By the time Ryan was finished, Donna was in tears, her hand clutching Craig's. She jumped up and hurried to where they were sitting and hugged them both, thanking them profusely. Craig was also there to thank them and the table applauded them, saying it was an amazing gift. Ryan and Andrew stood and went through all the documentation with them to make sure they had and understood everything and then put it all in the folder and handed it to them.
They didn't linger too long after dessert and coffee as everyone wanted to get a good night's sleep and Craig and Clint still had to go back to the town house for their bags before driving to their rooms at the venue for the night.

Andrew and Ryan made sure the little ones were well protected from the cold when they left the restaurant, even draping a blanket over the baby chairs to keep the cold out. The drive back to the hotel was quite short and they were pleased to be back in the warm room. They put the babies on the second bed in the room and not long after, they were in the other bed, cuddling close for warmth until their body heat warmed the cold bedding.

On the morning of the wedding, they had pleasant surprise. The twins slept until just before 8am. They debated whether the reason was the altitude or the blockout curtains that kept the room dark but never really came to a conclusion. The babies were, however, very hungry when the woke up and let their dad's know in no uncertain terms. While Ryan changed the squalling infants and tried to distract them, Andrew hurriedly boiled water in the room kettle and made formula for their bottles and to mix into the baby cereal. Andrew hated it when they cried so pitifully. The moment the first spoonfuls were in their little mouths, peace returned to the room. They wolfed the porridge down so they gave them some mashed banana and yogurt as well which disappeared just as quickly. They ordered breakfast from room service and ate their full English breakfasts at the table provided in the room, while the twins played on the bed.

Ryan hung the 'Do not disturb ' sign on the door and they spent the rest of the morning watching movies and playing with the twins. Lunch was once again provided by room service, and then they started getting ready for the wedding. After each having a shower, they bathed the twins and got them dressed for the event before getting dressed them-selves.
With the ceremony due to start at 4pm, they were expecting it to be quite cool already, so they dressed the twins warmly and they wore pullovers under their long thick coats. They both hung scarves around their necks, white for Andrew and baby blue for Ryan.

The venue was located in a suburb on the outskirts of the city on a hillside property. A security guard admitted them into the parking area and showed them where to park. They left the baby seats in the car, preferring to carry the twins in their arms. They were parked on the lowest level of the property with the parking area surrounded by retaining walls clad in rock. A series of three staircases, also clad in rock, rose up from the parking level over two more terraces to the top level where everything was going to happen. The garden was very pretty, notwithstanding the time of the year, with numerous evergreen trees and shrubs and colourful winter blooms although the grass was dry due to the winter frosts. At the top of the last staircase, they paused and had a look around.

A large swathe of grass lay in front of them with a thatched gazebo at the far end. Decorated with flowers, white draping and rows of chairs, it was obviously the venue for the ceremony.
On the left stood the conservatory where the reception would be held, and Andrew had to admit, it was stunning.

Encased entirely with glass on a white granite floor, the room looked almost fairytale like. White draping hung on the sidewalls and brass chandeliers hung from the beam in the centre of the roof. Round tables with delicate tiffany chairs were covered in white damask tablecloths that hung to the floor while white crockery and gleaming cutlery adorned the table. Dove grey and soft pink serviettes, simply folded in a long oblong lay on the silver coverplates and hung down over the edge of the table. Each alternate table had a pink or dove grey, scrunched up, overlay in the centre on which stood a small centrepiece of pink and white roses and two fat pink candles. At the far end was a parquet dance floor between the guest tables and a small bridal table for two, behind which stood two throne-like chairs. It was all soft and feminine, Donna to a tee. It was beautiful.

A waitress offered them sparkling wine or strawberry juice and Andrew took one of both and mixed it, while Ryan had the bubbly. Then they strolled down the lawn to the gazebo where a number of other guests had already gathered.
The pink and dove grey scheme had been carried through to the gazebo, with ribbon bows on the top frame of each chair and small posies with the same pink and white roses, held together by grey ribbon tieing, back the white draping to the gazebo supports. A dove grey carpet lay on the floor from the doorway to the podium.

They stood around for a while, introducing themselves to a few of the other guests and, of course Cameron and Elizabeth soon became the centre of attraction. It was getting quite cold so they covered the babies heads with the hoods attached to the warm white jackets they wore. They were simply adorable and captured everyone's hearts.

As 4pm approached, Andrew and Ryan walked into the gazebo chapel and sat down to await the arrival of the bride and groom. The canvas sides had been lowered and six tall gas patio heaters warmed the interior. They didn't have long to wait before Craig and Clint arrived wearing dove grey morning coats with pink rose corsages and pink bow-ties. Craig and Clint greeted them and the other guests and took a seat in the front row to await the bride, Clint sitting forward on the chair looking more nervous than the groom.

Everything happened quite rapidly after that. Both sets of parents of arrived, greeting guests as the passed. David and Janice stopped where Andrew and Ryan were sitting and hugged them both, kissing the twins on the cheek. Janice hugged Craig telling him him how handsome he looked and David shook his hand before helping Janice to her seat. Then he walked back up the aisle at wait for Donna. Craig's parents and his younger sister sat down behind him. The other guests filtered in and took their seats as music began playing through the sound system.

At precisely 4pm, the music stopped and the skirl of bagpipes sounded behind them as the piper moved down the aisle until he was standing at the front, but to one side. As he continued playing the melody Andrew didn't recognise, a flower girl dressed in pink, and a page boy dressed the same as the groom walked slowly down the aisle, scattering pink and white rose petals on the carpet. They were followed by Karen, the maid of honour. When she reached the front, the pastor walked in from the side and indicated for everyone to stand. The piper segued into 'Can you feel the love tonight' and Donna appeared at the end of the carpet on David's arm, looking radiant in a plain, but very elegant wedding gown with long sleeves all the way down to her hands and held in place by loops around her middle finger. The dress had a small Elizabethan style collar and tiny white beads and crystals on the bodice.
Her filmy veil and long train were held on place by a tiara and she carried a bouquet of pink and white roses held together by long pink and dove grey ribbon. Her smile lit up the room and she made a beautiful bride.

The ceremony was short and sweet, and in less than half an hour, Craig and Donna were man and wife.
More music played while they signed the register and then, to the strains of Mendelsons wedding March, the bridal couple walked back up the aisle to applause from their guests, who followed them out into the garden and showered them with pink and white rose petals and congratulations.

While everyone was outside, a team of workers removed all the chairs and replaced then with several tall cocktail tables.

When the bridal group were called away for photographs, including Andrew, Ryan and the twins, the other guests were invited back into the gazebo for snacks and glasses of sherry, sparkling wine or hot mulled wine.

Donna asked the photographer to do the photos with the twins first, so that they would not be out in the cold air to long. The photographer took a couple of shots with just the bridal couple and the twins, with Donna sitting on a rug, her train curled around in front of her, Craig squatting behind her and the twins sitting on her train in front of her, both with and without their hoods. Then photos were done with Andrew and Ryan and then the whole Devlin-Major family and her immediate family. Then Andrew and Ryan were free to return to the warmth of the gazebo.

An hour after the end of the ceremony, the guests were invited to move into the conservatory and make themselves comfortable. Waiter service would be available for drinks. Andrew took the twins into the venue, while Ryan went to the car to fetch the baby seats and bag. While he was away, Andrew asked one of the waiters for a teapot of hot water and when Ryan got back, they made formula and warmed a jar of baby food in the hot water. They fed the twins and held them while they drank their formula and after a while, as expected, they fell asleep. They made them comfortable in their seats and covered them with blankets to keep them warm and sat back to enjoy the festivities.

The bridal party arrived and the celebration got underway with the usual speeches and toasts.
Dinner started with minestrone soup and parmesan croutons, followed by lamb on the spit, with baked potatoes and hot vegetables. Dessert was warm chocolate fondants with an Amarula custard.

After dinner, the lights dimmed even further and the bridal couple opened the dance floor and then the party really got going. Ryan got two spare chairs and lifted the twins chairs onto them from the floor so that nobody would fall over them or worse, on them.

Sometime during the evening, Ryan had to go to the gents and surprised Clint just as he was shrugging, somewhat awkwardly, into his morning coat. What stunned Ryan, however, was how pale the good looking man looked and the red streak on the back of his white shirt. Clint spun around with a look of absolute fear on his face, took one look at Ryan's face and realised that he had seen everything.

"Please don't tell anyone, Ryan! I don't want to be the cause of Craig and Donna's day being ruined", he pleaded.

"I won't say a word, Clint. Except to Andrew! I suspect I know what the problem is and my question is, why the hell you do it?"

"What do you mean you know what the problem is?", Clint asked, looking very apprehensive.
Ryan sighed and to a deep breath.

"Okay, confession time! But then I need you to come clean with me too. Deal!"
Clint nodded.

"That CD our housekeeper found in the bedroom you and Karen spent the night in at our place. Andew did watch it". Clint's eyes widened in alarm. "He thought it was music and popped it into his laptop to check. I guess you can imagine his surprise when he saw it wasn't music. And as much as it disturbed him, he watched it all. He only told me about it when I questioned why he was so distracted. He told me something had happened and didn't know if he should tell me".

"Why would he not tell you? You two are closer than any couple I have ever met", Clint asked, surprised .
Ryan gazed at the man in front of him and said,

"Walk with me. Let's find somewhere a bit more private. Anyone can come in here at any time"

The two men left the gents and Ryan found a quiet nook in the garden and sat down on a bench.

"Okay, now we can talk without being interrupted or overheard. The reason Andrew did not want to tell me about the CD was because he was afraid of the effect it would have on me"
Clint looked puzzled.

"I don't understand. How would my CD possibly have an effect on you", he asked.
Ryan took another deep breath.

"It's not something I like to tak about, but in saying that, it's not something I think about that much either. Six months after Andrew and I were married, I went out one night in the middle of a Cape winter storm to check that 'Belle Catherine's' moorings were holding. I was attacked on the dock, kidnapped and dragged to a shack at the end of the marina that virtually no one knew was even there, tied up, tortured and raped. Repeatedly!" Clint gasped, his eyes wide, as Ryan continued.

"Andrew had no idea where I was. He went down to 'Belle Catherine' to look for me and all he found was my mobile phone and a toggle that had been ripped off my wet weather jacket in the struggle. All he knew was that something had happened to me. They searched for 24 hours before, thankfully, Rascal decided he needed to go out to do his business and found the shack I was being held in. I was in hospital for almost a week and in therapy for six months after that. If it hadn't been for Andrew, my family and friends, I honestly don't know if I would ever have fully recovered. But, thanks to them, I have. So now you know why Andrew did not want to tell me. What I want to know is, why do you do it? Why, for fuck sake, would you willingly put yourself through that sort of abuse?"

"Fuck, that's horrible! Did they get they guys who attacked you?", Clint asked, his dark eyes troubled and brimming with tears,

"Yeah, the arrested three of them. The fourth was killed in a shootout with the cops. They tried to get away on the day catamaran they owned, were spotted somewhere along the southern coast and tried to shoot their way out. They were all sentenced to life without parole in one of our high security prisons after the judge said they were a danger to the public. But you haven't answered my question. Why?"

"I wish I could tell you for sure. My dad died when I was very young and my stepfather turned out to be a brute. He abused me in every way possible and told me if I ever told my mom, he would kill her and make me watch. Then he would kill me. So I never said anything until he died in a work related accident while I was doing my national service in the army. Then there was an incident when one of the other recruits tried to bully me. I retaliated and put him in hospital with a broken jaw and concussion. Apparently, as I was laying into him, I was saying things I don't even remember saying, but the other recruits told the investigating officers when they were asked what had happened. As a result, I was sent to 1 Military Hospital to be psychologically evaluated and for the first time, I told my doctor what my childhood had been like. Now that I think about it, my sonavabitch step dad died soon after. Maybe it wasn't work related after all? But anyway, the therapy I got seemed to help for a while. But then, I don't know? Something just drew me to sadomasochism. I go through periods when I'm fine. But then the urge comes back again"

"Clint, all I can say is, get some expert help! If you want, I can contact the shrink I went to in Cape Town and get some recommendations from him for someone up here", Ryan suggested.

"Yeah, I think it's time I did something. If you could do that I would appreciate it. And I'm sorry about what you had to go through. And making you talk about it again. It couldn't have been easy".

"No problem. Are you going to be okay? Your back didn't look good".

"I'll be fine. The cut had just dried against my shirt and it pulled loose when I moved while we were dancing".

"Okay, if you say so. And if you want to talk, both Andrew and I are a phone call away. Understood!", Ryan said as he stood up and extended his hand, which Clint grasped and they shook hands.

"Thank you Now I know why Craig says you and Andrew are good guys".

They strolled across the garden to go back into the reception. Andrew noticed Ryan coming in with Clint, immediately taking note of their serious faces. They split up and headed towards their respective tables.
Ryan moved his chair closer to Andrew's and put his arm around his shoulders.

"I was just beginning to get worried. You were gone for quite a while", Andrew said, looking at him.

"Sorry, my love. I just had a very interesting chat with our hunky groomsman. It seems he very recently had another session. I walked into the gents and saw blood on the back of his shirt. And so we had a chat about it", Ryan explained. Andrew's eyebrows rose almost into his hairline.

"And!", he enquired.

"I'll tell you all about it on the way back to the hotel. Suffice to say, I think I've convinced him to get some help. Now, I would like to dance with my husband", Ryan replied, grinning.and holding out his hand to Andrew.
The music was slow and they danced close together, moving as one, completely at ease with one another.
. Andrew stared into Ryan's eyes for a moment, then whispered,

"Are you okay?", he asked, emphasising the 'you'. Ryan smiled and nodded.

"I am now. Now that I have you in my arms", and leaned forward until their lips met in a soft, but very meaningful kiss.

"I love you", Ryan whispered when they broke apart.

"And I love you, my love. More every day".

They boogied until late, only leaving just after Donna and Craig left for the hotel at the airport. The twins had, miraculously, slept through all the noise. On the drive back to the hotel, Ryan told Andrew all about his conversation with Clint.

On arrival back at the hotel just before midnight, they stopped at reception to order hot chocolate to be sent up to the room and carried the sleeping twins upstairs. Andrew had been clever and they had dressed the babies in baby-grows under the white jackets, so they didn't have to worry about disturbing them too much to get them into bed. The hot chocolate duly arrived and they drank it while watching muted highlights of the days English Premier League matches before showering and getting into bed.

David and Janice joined them at the hotel on Sunday morning for breakfast and traveled with them to the airport for the flight back to Cape Town. Once again, the flight was on one of the daily wide body jets used on the route and unknown to David and Janice, the boys had upgraded them from economy to business class. As they approached the check in counters Andrew stopped and said,

"Give me your ID cards and we'll check in for you."

So they handed over their ID's and Andrew and Ryan went to the business class counter to check in.
When they came back, Ryan handed boarding passes to his parents and he and Andrew waited expectantly for their reaction, which wasn't long in coming. Janice glanced at the boarding pass and said,

"Oh, that's nice, we're sitting quite close to the front. 5A" David looked at his wife, puzzled.

"Jan, love, put on your glasses! That must be 15A. We're in economy". Janice gave David a glare of annoyance.

"I don't need my glasses, David. I can read perfectly well without them. It definitely says 5A" She grabbed David's pass out of his hand and looked at it. "And yours says 5C"

She glanced up at Andrew and Ryan who could no longer contain themselves and started laughing. She suddenly had an inkling that something was up so she looked at the boarding pass again. After a few moments she said,

"Wait a minute!. This says business class at the top!" Her head snapped up and she looked at Andrew and Ryan, her eyes wide.

"What have you two done? Why do your father and I have business class seats?"

"Because, mom, there was no way you were going to be in the economy cabin while Ry and I are up front. So we upgraded you" She came to stand in front of Andrew, looking up at him and waving a finger.

"Andrew Devlin-Major! This is your doing! It wasn't necessary but thank you. It's a lovely surprise".
She hugged him and kissed him on the cheek, doing the same for Ryan.

"Okay, let's head up to the lounge and we can relax for a while before we board", suggested Ryan.

They gathered their cabin luggage and headed through security to the business class lounge where they had a drink and some snacks while waiting for the boarding call. As the boarding time neared, they left the lounge for the departure gate and arrived just as the call for families travelling with children was made. David and Janice we not allowed to board with Andrew and Ryan, but made an appearance just as they were finishing up with securing the twins chairs to the seats. Their seats were directly behind Andrew and Ryan and diagonally across from where the babies seats were. The flight was a lot busier than the flight from Cape Town, with business class being fully occupied. They were served a hot lunch and the twins sat with David and Janice for a while before falling asleep after drinking their camomile tea bottles. They landed on time, collected their luggage, and drove home, stopping off at Claude and François to collect Rascal, arriving home less than an hour after landing.

Work got going in earnest at the beginning of September. The sign that had advertised the auction was replaced with one that said 'The Cameron, another Lodge of Distinction in the Devlin-Major Portfolio. Opening mid December. Full service and self - catering 1, 2 and 3 bedroom suites', with a large rendering of the exterior and smaller ones of the lobby, restaurant/bar and a bedroom.
By the middle of the month, most of the demolition work had been completed, with only a handful of rooms still to be stripped of fixtures and fittings and four openings for windows in the rear of the building for the offices.

Several related developments also took place.
At a meeting held at Blue Bay Lodge, Paul was officially appointed General Manager Designate of The Cameron.
At the same time, Claude was appointed General Manager of Blue Bay and his assistant was appointed as Head Butler in his place.
All appointments would be effective at the beginning of October, but Andrew wanted the recruitment and training process to commence as soon as possible.
A training program was established to train prospective staff for The Cameron. Paul was tasked with recruiting the new personnel starting with his management team and put in place a training program for the junior staff. Claude was to recruit suitable candidates as butlers and train them up to his standards.
Once an Executive Chef had been appointed, he was to recruit his team and get them up to speed. All the new recruits, both management and junior staff would undergo training at Blue Bay, to Paul and Claude's standards, and then work alongside the staff at Blue Bay for one month until The Cameron was ready to receive them from the middle of November.

The month of September produced a flurry of activity on the project site. All the plans had been approved and instead of demolition, there was now construction. Builders were busy on the ground floor, erecting the walls that would contain all the offices. The left side of the building, as viewed from the garden would be the administrative part of the lodge, housing the offices, the reception lobby and lounge, and concierge desk, while the right hand side housed the guest lounge and bar , restaurant and kitchen. The area had not been big enough for a function room, so a part of the basement under the restaurant had been sacrificed to accommodate a function room big enough to host a wedding with 60 guests. A sunken patio, clad in the same sandstone as used in other parts of the lodge, was being excavated off the function room with stairs going up to the grass near the pool and would covered by a new timber deck that would be built across the front of the lounge and restaurant. Sliding glass doors would allow access to the patio
Another large project was the construction of a driveway from the beach road, up the left side of the garden and across to the portico, where it would encircle a fountain and pond and join up with the boundarypart of the driveway again.
The actual construction phase on the ground floor did not take long, as only a few walls had to built and electrical and plumbing services installed and by the second last week of September, the site looked like an anthill, with workmen all over the place.

First, the bathroom fittings were all installed and cupboards fitted in the bedrooms and kitchens. A platoon of painters started painting the rooms, starting at the top and working down to the function room.

As a room was finished and the paint was dry, the tiles in the bedrooms and living areas were laid as well as tiles in the high traffic areas and tiles replaced in the bathrooms where necessary. They had found that the bathrooms were all tiled in white, floors and walls, and in 90% of the rooms, they were in perfect condition, just requiring a good clean. All this occurred through to the end of October.

The beginning of November was crunch time on a number of fronts.
Firstly , it was the official start of the summer cruising season, although 'Belle Catherine' had been out to sea twice in October on 5-day charters. Due to Andrew being so involved with the lodge project, it was left to Ryan, Darren and Kerry to handle the charters and eventually as opening day of The Cameron drew closer, it was just Darren and Kerry as Ryan was needed at the new lodge.

The administration offices were handed over, although the ground floor guest areas were not yet complete, and the management team moved in to prepare for the opening.
Each department head was requested to supply a wish list of equipment they required, to be submitted to Paul by the end of the first week in November. Andrew, Ryan and Paul in conjunction with the specific department head would then go through the list and decide what was absolutely needed and what could wait. In most cases, the department heads all got what they had requested.

In the bedrooms, carpenters were busy installing cupboards and, in an idea Andrew had stolen from 'Texas Lass', plinths in the master bedrooms of the 3-bedroom suites and the penthouse suite. Once they were complete, all the carpetting was fitted. Electricians were also fitting all the lighting.

In mid-November, Andrew celebrated his birthday, but it was a very muted celebration as it was quite hectic at The Cameron with the big pieces of kitchen equipment being delivered and fitted and the bedroom furniture that Andrew and Paul had selected and ordered started arriving as well, the first delivery being all the beds. It took two full days to get them all into the rooms. After that, there was a steady stream of furniture deliveries and by the start of the last week in November, all the bedroom furniture was in place, dusted and polished by the housekeeping staff who had moved over from Blue Bay in the middle of the month. All the bedrooms required now were the soft furnishings like curtains and comforters. All the bed linen was already in stock in readiness for the beds to to made up for the first time. The laundry was working at a hectic pace to get all the linen washed before their first use.

The other staff who moved over were the reception personnel, as the website went online and reservations opened. A huge sticker was stuck across one corner of the signboard at the bottom of the property proclaiming 'Reservations now open from 19 December'.

The ground floor guest areas were handed over in the last week of November as well, once the tiles and carpets had been fitted. All the remaining staff moved over from Blue Bay and it was all hands on deck to get everything in place. Housekeeping moved into the lobby and started cleaning and polishing and at the same time, the plastic was removed from the furniture to be put in place as directed by Andrew, who seemed to be all over the place, assisted by Ryan and Lisa, the housekeeper. The restaurant staff did the same with the restaurant, supervised by Richard, the Food & Beverage manager and when all the furniture was arranged, it was all wiped down and the tables were covered with cloths for the first time.

By the second Tuesday in December, The Cameron was ready for business. From the Wednesday for the next five days, a whole list of invited guests would be checking in for two or three nights to 'test drive' the new establishment, including a number of members of the press and tourism organisations.

Paul, Marie and Jonathan were moving in until the morning after the official opening, which would be conducted by a very special VIP that Andrew was keeping secret, even from Ryan.

They were allocated one of the big 2 bedroom executive suites. David and Janice would be staying for three nights as well, as would Claude and François. Davis and Janice would be staying until the opening as would Beth and Nicky.
Darren and Kerry, and Kevin, Vanessa and Simone would be in for two nights.
Andrew, Ryan, the twins and Rascal were also staying until the opening, but would be spending time in all the room categories during that time.

On the Monday before the arrival of the first guests, Andrew, Ryan and Paul did an inspection tour of the building. Paul was armed with a clipboard and notepad to jot down any problem areas and they started at the beach road entrance.

As they stood where Andrew and Ryan had stood on the Sunday morning they had walked down to have their first look at the property, they felt an enormous sense of satisfaction and pride. The once sad looking, rundown, vacant building now throbbed with new life.

Columns had been added to the low wall on the roadside boundary and the wall was now topped with elegant wrought iron grille fencing, through which the building was perfectly visible. On the left, a square arch with big double wrought iron gates and gatehouse guarded the tarred driveway that swept up the side of the garden to the roundabout with its fountain at the main doors. Colourful flower beds and shrubs interspersed with solar powered lights lined both sides of the driveway and beyond that, a large swath of lush, green grass swept across the garden, divided by the rock clad pathway, also lined with flowers and lights, that led down to the small gate in the wall. A discreet sign in a niche at the top of the archway revealed the name of the building - 'The Cameron. A Devlin-Major Portfolio Lodge of Distinction'.

At the top of the garden on the right, large cream parasol umbrellas shaded sunbeds with deep green cushions arranged around the swimming pool. Large pots with all manner of plants and flowers were scattered around the garden providing splashes of vibrant colour.

The building itself looked brand new. The stonework had been cleaned and the plasterwork repainted a soft cream. All the windows were sparkling clean and hung with drapes. Soft lights were visible in the rooms behind the windows and figures could be seen moving around.

They re entered the grounds through the small gate and walked up the pathway to the turret where the main doors were now situated. On both sides of the horseshoe shaped turret, large small paned French doors had been fitted with one set being the main entrance and the one opposite giving access to the wooden deck across the front of the guest lounge, bar and restaurant. Five oblong windows in the front of the turret now revealed the warmly lit interior staircase and the wall sconces that provided the light. The deck followed the shape of the turret to the lobby side where it ended against the wall of the ground floor with another water feature. Three wide, shallow steps with black wrought iron handrails rose from the roundabout level to the deck and main doors, protected by a heavy duty canvas awning.

A porter, dressed in black trousers and a cream coloured Madiba shirt with the Clan Cameron tartan on the collar and cuffs opened the door for them as they mounted the stairs. His name was Abel, and was Thomas' son, Andrew's doorman at Blue Bay. He had his dads personality and broad smile and even though this was his first job, Andrew could see that he loved what he was doing and took pride in it. He beamed at them as he swept open the door.

"Good morning gentlemen. Welcome to The Cameron "

"Good morning Abel", they chorused. Andrew looked at him, smiling. "It's like having a younger version of your father here. Thank you".

"You're welcome Mr Andrew. My dad said he would whip by backside if I disappointed you and him".

"Well, just do what you're doing now and you will be fine. Remember, if you are not sure of something, just ask. And if you are not happy with the answer, you can come to me. Okay! ", Andrew told him.

"Thank you Mr Andrew. I will remember that". They passed through the doors into the turret vestibule.

Pale cream granite tiles covered the floor and swept in a wide passage across the main lobby to the elevators on the left. Directly ahead , they looked through the matching doors to the restaurant deck, while to the right was the entry/exit for the turret staircase.

In the main lobby, a four-legged, clawed, round oak table stood on the granite floor at the intersection of an equally wide passage that stretched the length of the ground floor between the columns, now clad to waist height in the same oak as the table, as was all the woodwork in the lobby, restaurant, bar and lounge and all gleaming warmly. The table carried an impressive arrangement of flowers.

In the lobby , the imposing, stained oak reception desk was positioned at the far end of the granite passage with carpets woven in the Clan Cameron hunting tartan fitted on either side of the passage way, the area on the window side being twice as wide as the area on the rear side of the lobby, which backed onto the concierge desk, gift shop and offices.

Comfortable couches in cream leather and high backed tub style, oak framed armchairs were arranged around oak coffee tables. The armchairs were upholstered in a variety of fabrics, including cyan blue leather and old gold velvet, with scatter cushions in red, green, old gold, blue and the tartan, Hunting and Modern. A gleaming, French - polished baby grand piano occupied the far corner.

Cream shaded brass table lamps stood on low oak tables on either side of every alternate column and wall sconces were fitted to the remainder. Two large, wrought iron chandeliers hung from the ceiling above the passage way and three matching smaller ones hung over the seating areas on either side. The windows overlooking the garden, beach and sea were hung with soft, cream drapes with tartan tiebacks. Several of Janice's works hung on the walls, but were only temporary . She was currently busy with a number of paintings of the area around Fort William using photographs taken by Andrew and Ryan and these would be hung before the official opening. It was a very different look compared to Blue Bay, but Andrew's influence was very evident.

On the other side of the elevator lobby, the small semi private guest lounge and bar overlooking the garden was decorated in a very similar style to the seating in the lobby, while part of the kitchen occupied the corresponding space on the left of the granite passageway.

They entered the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, all of the new equipment gleaming and chefs busy with whatever task they had to do. They stopped to chat to James Murray-Botes, the new, young executive chef. He had impressed Paul with his enthusiasm when he came for his interview, and had a distinct advantage over the other candidates. One of Andrew's criteria for an executive chef was that he or she be able to provide at least one item of Scottish cuisine per category on the restaurant menu and James had a Scottish mother who had taught him to cook and he had brought all that knowledge with him. He carried his mother's genes as well, being fair skinned and lightly freckled with strawberry blonde hair. They didn't keep him long, as they could see he was busy. Not only was he having to deal with a new kitchen and kitchen brigade, but he had on official opening cocktail party to come, as well as providing the normal meal menu in the restaurant. In addition he had a Christmas lunch and a New Year Hogmanay dinner to arrange which were both already almost fully booked.

Back in the restaurant, an L-shaped buffet area was placed on the left, fronted with granite tiles as well.
The two and four seater oak tables were arranged in straight rows on the Cameron Modern tartan carpet, with the two seaters on either side of the columns. Three large round tables seating eight were placed in the two front corners and in the centre of the room in front of the windows.
The stained oak chairs had green upholstered seats and backs. The tables were covered in cream damask cloths with matching serviettes and carried heavy silver plated cutlery and white crockery with a thin green and gold line on the rim.

Wall sconces were fitted onto the columns on both sides and the same style chandeliers as those in the lobby, hung from the ceiling. The same cream drapes with tiebacks framed the large sliding doors onto the wooden deck.

Between the lounge and restaurant, a staircase had been built, descending into a small lobby off the basement conference room which was deliberately decorated as neutral as possible to make function decor easier with off white walls and a charcoal grey carpet. The room was fitted with LCD down lights and black wrought iron wall sconces. The room also had an audio visual system and a large TV screen flipped up hydraulically against the ceiling. White curtains with blockout lining framed the three sliding doors onto the sunken patio. The stackable chairs with dark grey frames had seat cushions upholstered in the Cameron hunting tartan. Off the function room foyer were guest cloakrooms and at the rear of tge room was a small service kitchen with two dumb waiters to the main kitchen upstairs.

Retracing their steps, they entered one of the elevators and toured the accommodation floors. The basic decor of all the rooms was essentially the same.
The one and standard two bedroom units had pale cream walls and deep green carpets with red, gold and blue flecks in the bedrooms and off white tiles in the lounge/diner and kitchen.

The executive 2 bedroom, 3 bedroom and penthouse suites were exactly the same except for the master bedrooms where the king beds stood on a raised 200mm high plinth covered in the green, flecked carpet down to the off white tiled floor surround. Concealed lights illuminated the underside of the bed. The stained oak headboard had a padded insert covered with Cameron tartan, either Hunting or Modern. Two oak bedside tables stood on either side of the bed fitted with bedside lights The bed was covered with a plush cream comforter, edged with the tartan and a light tartan throw lay across the foot of the bed. Matching cream curtains with blockout lining hung on either side of the door to the patio, under an oak framed valence with a matching Cameron tartan insert and tiebacks. The fitted cupboards were oak with black wrought iron handles and covered the wall in front of the bed. In the middle was a niche that housed aTV that slid into a housing below allowing the space to double as a mirrored dressing table.
The corner between the plinth and the patio door was occupied by two easy chairs upholstered in cream and gold stripes with a small square oak table. A small chandelier, in effect a miniature of those on the ground floor hung in the centre of the room.

The bathrooms were all fully tiled and fitted with a separate bath and frosted glass fronted shower, basin and toilet. Thick white towels hung on the rails with matching hand towels and face cloths and the guest amenities had a sandalwood fragrance, the same as used at Blue Bay and on 'Belle Catherine'.

The lounge/diners had no light fittings hanging from the ceilings, only down lights, wall sconces and two brass table lamps with cream shades.
The curtains were the same as the those in the bedrooms, with similar valence treatments. The cream leather couches and two easy chairs in deep green or red velvet stood on a Cameron Modern or Hunting tartan rug with an oak framed, glass topped coffee table. The two table lamps stood on two of four matching side tables on either side of the couches. The dining table, with four to eight chairs, depending on the number of bedrooms, was oak with the chairs upholstered in a matching tartan.
An oak cupboard stood against one wall in the lounge on which a TV stood, while a dresser stood next to the dining table with all the required linen.

The kitchens were functional, light, bright and modern with white cupboards, granite tops and all the equipment and basic gadgets one would normally need for a household. The crockery and cutlery were basic white and good quality stainless steel, while the glassware was plain and functional.

In the penthouse, the superyacht influence was more evident. As with the executive suites, the master bed was on a plinth, but the lounge and dining room had a distinct superyacht feel with both rooms openingup onto the patio, and were light and airy. Three cream leather couches faced away from the patio in a U-shape with a stained oak and glass coffee table between them, all placed on a tartan rug with a cream tile surround.
A long oak wall unit was centred against the wall that held the sound system, retractable TV and small bar refrigerator. Two reproduction bronze sculptures stood guard on either end as did two elegant standing lamps on either side of the balcony doors, which had the same valence treatment and drapes as the other rooms. The sliding doors and windows onto the patio were the same as well, but had voile curtains behind them. Both could be opened and closed remotely.

The dining room was separated from the lounge by a low wall, open on the patio side. An oak dresser stood against the wall in the dining room, and held all the crockery, cutlery, glassware and a small selection of linen with matching serviettes. The round 8-seater table was the same oak and the high backed chairs had oak frames and striped cream and gold upholstery. It too stood on a fitted tartan rug with cream tile surround.
A shallow chandelier was fixed to the ceiling over the table and there were two sconces on the wall. The kitchen was also open plan but could be closed off for privacy if required.

The patio had a hot tub and patio furniture with two light coloured parasols. Plant pots were arranged against the walls with various shrubs and flowers providing greenery and colour.

Across the elevator lobby, the spa was ready for business as well.
Michelle and Joselyn, who operated the spa at Blue Bay Lodge, had also decided to expand to The Cameron. Michelle would stay on at Blue Bay, while Joselyn moved across to run the spa at The Cameron.

The two bigger bedrooms were treatment rooms, while the third was a small 3 seat hair salon. The lounge and dining room had been kept separate, with the lounge becoming a small but well equipped gym and the dining room housed the spa reception and waiting room. It was all tiled. The patio had a few small tables and chairs, a sauna and a small tub that was used as a plunge pool.

Andrew couldn't stop himself from smiling. He was extremely happy with what he saw. The contractors had done a fantastic job in just a few short months, albeit with the added incentive of a bonus should The Cameron be ready on time, which it was.

Copyright © 2020 Andre Delport; All Rights Reserved.
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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. 
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Great development, and awesome that "The Cameron" opened on time it sounds fantastic, I wonder who the VIP guests are

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What fun to read about the decor in The Cameron! Now, if I could only afford to make a reservation! 😄

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My favourite character, the beautiful and joyful little Rascal, certainly enjoyed the children's birthday party, eating and rolling in the smash cake that was strewn all over the lawn. I will perhaps be admonished for this comment, but I find him far more interesting, and no doubt cuter, than either Cameron or Elizabeth.

@Andre Delport I have a suggestion for a future acquisition for the Devlin-Major portfolio, a pet-friendly hotel or apartment complex like 'The Cameron' (perhaps not as lavishly appointed, and definitely with no carpet), something like the late, great Doris Day owned in Carmel, USA. Perhaps it could be named 'Rascal's Retreat' in honour of Rascal's bravery and the unfettered joy he brings to all he meets. Although I am a "cat man" (I have six rescues), I do like dogs too, and my family had a dachshund when I was a child. 


Edited by Summerabbacat
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4 hours ago, Summerabbacat said:

My favourite character, the beautiful and joyful little Rascal, certainly enjoyed the children's birthday party, eating and rolling in the smash cake that was strewn all over the lawn. I will perhaps be admonished for this comment, but I find him far more interesting, and no doubt cuter, than either Cameron or Elizabeth.

@Andre Delport I have a suggestion for a future acquisition for the Devlin-Major portfolio, a pet-friendly hotel or apartment complex like 'The Cameron' (perhaps not as lavishly appointed, and definitely with no carpet), something like the late, great Doris Day owned in Carmel, USA. Perhaps it could be named 'Rascal's Retreat' in honour of Rascal's bravery and the unfettered joy he brings to all he meets. Although I am a "cat man" (I have six rescues), I do like dogs too, and my family had a dachshund when I was a child. 


I have to admit that almost everything I write about Rascal's antics are actual experiences I had with him. Even the idea of him finding Ryan after he had been kidnapped was born out of playing hide and seek with him. I miss him dreadfully This week was two years since he passed away. Tearing up even as I type this.

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9 minutes ago, Andre Delport said:

I have to admit that almost everything I write about Rascal's antics are actual experiences I had with him. Even the idea of him finding Ryan after he had been kidnapped was born out of playing hide and seek with him. I miss him dreadfully This week was two years since he passed away. Tearing up even as I type this.

Grief over the loss of a beloved pet is very real and much understated by many Andre. A bond with a pet is a very special one, far stronger than many realise. Your continued grief says, I believe, much about the type of person you are, kind and compassionate at a minimum.

My first cat passed away 14 years ago this March, but there are still times I find a tear or more escapes my eyes when I think of him, even though I have my six beautiful rescues who keep me very busy and entertained. 

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I just want to state that not all SM activities are abuse or a sign of mental disorder/instability/traume and such. I am well aware the line can be thin and blurred at times. But living in that scene for decades, I'd say that abusive and criminal activities are the absolute minority. Most players adhere to safe and consensual - if often painful, yes - practises. Those on a self destructive path obviously should gently guided towards professional help

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If only I could afford to take a vacation there. It would be the holiday of a lifetime I would also throw in a safari trip on the way there. Wonderful descriptive chapter

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The Cameron was delightfully described.  It sounds awesome!  I did love the birthday party with the smash cakes.

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