Eventually recovering from the surprise of Ryan's unexpected arrival, Andrew roused himself and started to tidy up the lounge, stacking all the samples in one corner. Then he made himself a mug of tea and a pot of coffee for Ryan and sat on the couch with a happy smile on his face.
Ryan walked into the room, hair damp and looking refreshed, if a little tired, wearing sweatpants, a warm top and loafers.
"Ah, I smell coffee. Where can I find a mug, babe?"
"Middle cupboard above the breakfast counter".
He poured himself some coffee and sat next to Andrew on the couch.
"It feels really good to be home. There is just no place like it. Nice apartment, by the way. The view is sensational. What is all that stuff you were looking at?"
Andrew nestled into him, laying his head on Ryan's shoulder, signing contentedly.
"Um, just samples for the lodge refurb. I need to let the decorators know what to do", then suddenly sat up and looked at Ryan with panic on his face.
"Oh crap, I completely forgot with you showing up on my doorstep! Paul and Marie are supposed to be coming for dinner to help me. I haven't done anything and it's too late to start now. I'd have to go shopping anyway. As much as I would like to have you to myself tonight, I can't put them off, not at this short notice, and we really need to make some decisions with regard to the decor".
Ryan shrugged and said,
"No, don't put them off. It will be good to see them again. What about dinner though?"
Andrew jumped up, reaching for his mobile.
"It will just have to be take out! There's a very nice deli in the Victoria and Albert that does great prepared homely food. Do you want red meat, chicken or fish?"
Ryan thought for a moment.
"Meat, I think. I need a break from fish. Ate a lot of it in the Med".
Andrew thumbed a button and Ryan could hear it ringing. He grinned mischievously saying,
"And he has them on speed dial. Why am I not surprised?", imitating the parrot from the Aladdin movie.
Andrew mock-glared at him.
"So eat me!"
"Later", Ryan replied with a grin.
When the call was answered, Andrew enquired what the daily special was, and after listening carefully for a while, he nodded and proceeded to order four roast lamb dinners with roast potatoes, butternut and creamed spinach, extra gravy and a bottle of mint jelly. It would be delivered in thirty minutes.
With dinner sorted, Andrew went to freshen up as well, asking Ryan to open a bottle of red wine to breathe before disappearing into the bathroom. Ryan examined Andrew's extensive selection and final chose a bottle that he opened and set on the counter.
When Andrew reappeared, looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, he turned on the warmer for thd food when it arrived, and set about laying the table. The food arrived and was put on the warmer and about half an hour later the doorbell chimed. Andrew opened the door, to reveal his friends, both comfortably dressed in tracksuits and sneakers. Marie smiled and stepped up to him, drawing him into a hug and pecking him on both cheeks.
"Hi there gorgeous, what's got you looking so pleased with yourself?"
He grinned happily.
"Hi Marie, hi Paul. Come on in. We have an extra guest tonight. Come see"
Together, they walked into the living room and when Marie saw Ryan she squealed in delight, rushed across the room and hurled herself into Ryan's arms.
"Ry, it's so good to see you! No wonder he looks like the cat that was let loose in the creamery. I haven't seen him looking so happy in months!"
Paul, was laughing at his wife's comments.
"When the hell did you arrive? How long are you staying?", he asked.
Andrew answered him with a beaming smile.
"He arrived this afternoon, literally out of the blue. Flew in from Rome and Dubai. And the best part is, he's not going back. He's staying right here!"
Paul and Marie looked shocked.
"Wow, you're not going back to the Med! What happened?"
And so Ryan finally told his tale. When he was done, Marie said,
"So fate intervened.Well, I for one am glad you are back. I've been really concerned about this man right here", indicating Andrew. " "Now he can become the old Andrew again".
Andrew looked at all of them.
"I haven't been that bad, have I?"
"Drew, you had us very worried for a while. But even now, I can see a difference". He looked at Ryan. "It's good to have you back".
The evening was filled with laughter as friends reconnected and after dinner Ryan made coffee while the others looked at the samples. At 10pm they called it a day the couple headed home. The guys tidied up, packed the dishwasher, turned off the lights and retired to the bedroom. Ryan turned off the bedroom lights and stood watching the twinkling lights of the Waterfront precinct below while Andrew brushed his teeth. Andrew walked back into the room to where Ryan stood at the windows and slid his arms around Ryan's waist. He leaned his cheek on Ryan's bare back, breathing in his scent. He had missed this so much.
"Thank you for coming home. You have no idea how much that means to me ", he whispered.
And then proceeded to show him just how much it meant.
The morning revealed a cold, wet and windy day. Another of the notorious north westerly storms had blown in overnight and it was miserable out. Andrew was up at his usual time of 6.30am, despite the antics of the late night before. His body clock was dependable as usual. He left Ryan to sleep and pottered around the apartment, after showering and slipping into a warm tracksuit, sipping coffee and looking at more samples. Ryan finally emerged in the mid morning, also refreshed and dressed in track pants and a hoodie.
"Morning my love", he said walking over and kissing Andrew. "How long have you been up?"
"A couple of hours already. I left you to sleep off your jetlag".
"Thank you, I appreciate that. I feel fine for the moment. Might catch up with me a bit later. Have you had breakfast?"
"No not yet. Was waiting for you! There is coffee though".
"Yeah, coffee! Can I get you a refill?"
"No, I'm fine. I was just going to make some toast. Not really hungry. Too much dinner I think. It was good though".
"Toast is good. I'll do it!"
"Yeah okay. There's white, brown and wholewheat in the refrigerator. Wholewheat for me. Two slices please ".
Ryan busied himself in the kitchen with the toast, whole Andrew gathered up a selection of spreads and toppings. Everything from anchovy paste to Marmite, Cheddar cheese, shaved ham and cream cheese to a selection of preserves including strawberry, marmalade and fig. Ryan buttered the toast as soon as it came out the toaster so that the butter melted into the bread. It was the way both he and Andrew preferred it and they sat next to one another at the kitchen counter, eating and gazing at the turbulent waters of Table Bay beyond the harbour breakwater.
Andrew broached a subject they had not talked about yet.
"Babe, have you given any thought to what you want to do?"
Ryan shook his head.
"A bit in the plane, but not really. I know I want to find something to do, but thought I would look around and see what's available and if anything appeals to me. I did think maybe one of the day charter yachts. I don't want to be away too much. So the day charters would be ideal".
"Good, I'm really glad you suggested that, because I have an idea. I want you to hear me out before you say anything".
"Okay, I'm all ears".
"I'm thinking about buying a yacht. And I want you to skipper it. It's not a gin palace like the ones in the Med. A lot smaller and simpler. Hang on, let me show you!"
Hopping off the stool, he picked up his laptop off the coffee table and came back, plugging it into the socket in the wall near them. He booted up the device, clicked on a bookmark and a website opened up revealing a picture of a white catamaran in full sail against the backdrop of Table Mountain.
"That's it. Well, one similar anyway", Andrew said.
Ryan started scrolling through the website, opened a few more pages, then flipped back and forth between them as he read. Andrew continued talking.
"It's obviously a catamaran, 53ft or just over 17 metres, I think, long. The have various cabin options, from a three cabin owners version to a six cabin charter version. I want to go for a charter version, but only with five cabins. That would allow the master cabin to be slightly bigger as we will be spending the most time on board. Also, I didn't make myself clear earlier. I not only want you to skipper it, I want you as a business partner as well".
Ryan looked at him.
"Okaaay, let's cut to the chase!. How much is this going to cost? "
"Oh god, I can see the gears rolling in your brain already". He took a deep breath, looked Ryan in the eyes and said,
"Fifteen million Rand, give or take a few thousand", and exhaled.
Ryan looked thoughtful.
"And just how are we going to be partners in this. ....... venture? I don't have that sort of cash".
"But I do. Not that I want to brag about it. But I don't want that money to just sit there. I could just leave it, let it accumulate interest, sit back and do nothing. But that's not me! I need to work! And it's got to work for me too. Okay, so I bought the lodge and we're doing it up. I didn't buy the lodge on a whim. I saw an opportunity to use some of the money and to make some more. I saw people who loved their jobs and loved the place they worked in. Those people would have been destitute if the lodge had been closed.
That doesn't mean it's a charity case either. It's gonna have to start paying for itself in the long run. And it will be the same for the yacht. I want to do charters. With you.! I cannot skipper the yacht, but with all your expertise, you can. That, to me, is invaluable. I'm not involved in the day to day running of the lodge. That's what Paul is there for and why he has a 7.5% share of profits as part of his package. Plus, each of the staff that stayed on at the takeover hold a 1% share while they are still employed at the lodge. I don't just want to employ people. I want to invest in their futures, but at the same time, they have to invest in their futures as well. Giving them a share gives them the incentive to work hard and do their bit to look after the lodge and make sure it prospers'", Andrew said passionately and continued,
"But I want to be involved on the yacht. You will skipper and I will handle the hospitality side of things. I want to do this with you. I know how much you love the sailing world. I want to be part of that as well. It allows us to be together. If you want a formalised share agreement, that's fine with me, and if you want to offset the investment against the profits, that's fine with me too. But as far as I am concerned, as long as we are together, you have half of everything anyway. Because you are my other half! And if anything ever happens to me, you get the bulk of it anyway. I've drawn up my will to that effect already ".
Ryan looked at Andrew, slack-jawed and dumbstruck. He was battling to comprehend what he had just heard.
"Whoa, wait! Cool your jets for a minute," he said holding up his hand. " I'm incredibly humbled and grateful for the faith you have in me. Thank you. So how much profit share do you still hold in the lodge?"
"70.5%. It will probably decrease slightly in the future, if and when we employ more staff. But they will only be eligible after two full years of employment at the lodge".
"And I have half of everything, you say. That's a helluva lot of money, Drew. Are you sure?"
"Yes positive! I've given it a lot a thought since my parents died. They invested in me. I want to pass that on. And yes, you have half of everything. You already hold half my heart," he grinned, "I need the other half to live. So you need to have half of the rest".
Ryan's eyes filled with tears and he shook his head.
"Now I know why I love you so much. You are one of the most loving, thoughtful, most compassionate people on this earth".
Andrew grinned at him.
"You make me sound like a saint, which I definitely am not. I have my faults as well", he said with a grin. "Few as they may be", then ducked ad Ryan took a swipe at his head.
"Your modesty is overwhelming. Okay, this is all a bit much. My head is spinning and jetlag sure does not help". He looked at Andrew. "I don't want to feel that I am sponging off you, or taking advantage in any way. I need to pay some of my own way as well. I have just under three million available. Rand! I want to use most of that for the yacht:.
Andrew's face beamed and he threw himself at Ryan.
"So you're going for it? You like the idea?", he shouted gleefully.
"Yes, I like the idea! We'll have to flesh it out, but fundamentally, yes I like the idea. Quite honestly, from my perspective, it sounds like paradise. I'll be doing something I love, with someone I love. No brainer!"
Andrew wad ecstatic and looked at him eagerly.
"I want to set up a meeting with the yacht builders ASAP. Do you think we must set it up for here, or fly up and see them?"
"I think we go to them. Then we can tour the factory as well and see if we like the product and the way they work. Also, from what I see on their website, the boats are semi-custom, which means we get to choose a lot of the fixtures, fittings and finishes. And that will be at hand if we are there".
"Good thinking, Ry. I'll set something up. According to the website, they have a launch date available for April next year. If we can get that launch, then we have eight months to arrange marketing and sort out routes etc".
For the next hour, they sat looking at the website, slowly working through each page, examining pictures and specs with Andrew making notes. Then he called the yacht builders and enquired if the April launch date was still available, which it was, requested that it be reserved for them and made arrangements to meet the following Thursday, a week away. They also searched the Web, found a nice beachside B & B and made reservations for the weekend starting on Wednesday night. However, when Andrew looked at the flights, they found that there were no seats available on the Wednesday afternoon or evening flights. The only seats available were two business class seats, departing at zero dark hundred, namely 6am, which meant being up and about at 4am.
Andrew reserved and paid for the seats, then changed the accommodation reservations and advised the yacht builders of their earlier arrival.
Then they strolled hand in hand to the Waterfront precinct for a sushi lunch, and wandered through the shopping complex, licking at huge soft-serve ice cream cones. On the way back to the apartment, a squall came blowing through, so they sheltered in a coffee shop, sipping latte's and sharing a slice of cheesecake. Once the rain stopped, they hustled back to the apartment, where they changed back into track pants and tops and cuddled on the couch, listening to music, watching the hustle and bustle of the harbour and marina, and the grey clouds that brought the regular squalls so typical of the north westerly storms so typical of the Cape winter, through the full length lounge windows.
They talked about everything. Their relationship, Ryan's sojourn in the Mediterranean, the lodge and Andrew's plans for it, and the yacht. At one stage Ryan peered down at Andrew as he lay on his chest.
"So when can I see the lodge?", he asked.
"We can take a drive out tomorrow if you want to. But then I don't want you to see it until the refurbishment is complete".
"Okay, works for me. You do, of course realise that you're gonna have both projects running at the same time. The lodge and the yacht".
"It's going to take a bit of juggling, but the refurb will be complete for the beginning of the summer season, which is 1 November, so it will be easier after that, and Paul is available to help out if necessary".
They lay quietly for a while and Andrew heard Ryan's breathing slow. He looked over his shoulder and saw that Ryan had fallen asleep. He smiled, placed his hands over Ryan's where they lay on his belly, closed his eyes and was soon fast asleep, safe in the arms of his love. Marie was right. For the first time in a long time, he was truly happy.
The day after was still dull and dreary. It had rained throughout the night and the roads were wet and slick as Andrew drove them to Bloubergstrand in his SUV. Turning off the West Coast Road, they drove through the quaint, quiet, affluent suburb and took the short, winding road to the beach before turning into the entrance of the lodge and driving to the rear of the property where the parking area and main entrance were located.
It was raining again and Thomas hurried over with two golf umbrellas, which he held over them as each man exited the vehicle.
"Good morning Mr Andrew. Welcome and good to see you again".
Andrew waited as Thomas walked round to assist Ryan. When they both joined him, he said,
"Morning Thomas. Thank you. How are you?"
"I am well, Mr Andrew. Just a bit damp and cold. But they don't call it the Cape of Storms for nothing".
"That is true Thomas. This is Ryan Major, my partner. Ry, Thomas is our doorman /porter."
Ryan nodded to Thomas, holding out his hand.
"Hello Thomas. Good to meet you".
"Good morning Mr Ryan, welcome to Blue Bay Lodge".
"Thank you I'm looking forward to seeing it".
"Your will like it I think. Mr Andrew and Mr Paul have already made it a bit nicer. And we hear more is coming".
"Yes, there is. I've seen some of the new colours and fabrics and things. I'm sure it will all be lovely when it is all done".
The two men reached the door, which Thomas swung open and they entered the lobby.
The first thing Andrew noticed was that the new cream upholstered couches and blue striped armchairs had been delivered and were arranged in two groups in the centre of the lobby, instead of against the walls. Two new matching rugs lay under the seating with a glass coffee table in the centre of each grouping and matching occasional tables on either side of the couches and between the armchairs. Between the two groupings of seating stood a white, gold veined granite top table on a wrought iron base. On the table wad an arrangement with strelitzias, the crane flower.
"Okay Ry, the only new items in the lobby are what you see in the middle of the room. We felt the old couches were looking too tired, so we arranged for new couches and armchairs. The old couches are being refurbished and reupholstered, and will be used in the bedrooms. Other than that, everything else is original and most of it is being changed in one way or another".
Andrew went on to walk Ryan through the entire building, the garden and swimming pool area, and the back of house areas,where they attracted much attention when it was noticed that they were holding hands.
They went into the office and chatted with Paul who joined them on the patio for tea, coffee and scones.
"This view alone is worth the money you paid. It's absolutely amazing. On a sunny day, it must be awesome", remarked Ryan.
"You're right", replied Paul. "They took full advantage of the view when they did the construction. Straight across the bay to the mountain, and over to the right, Robben Island".
They chatted for a while before taking their leave and drove back to the apartment, where they changed into sweatpants and tops. While changing, the notification bell on Andrew's laptop pealed, indicating an incoming message, which was confirmation of their accommodation for the following week. There was also a confirmation of their flights. Andrew scowled at the 6am departure, but at least the return flight was a more respectable 4pm departure. The one positive was that the early flight meant and early arrival at the yacht builders as well, despite the 60km drive from the airport to the facility.
They spent a quiet weekend, not doing much because of the atrocious weather and the two days prior to their departure to Knysna were busy ones as Andrew made calls to, and fielded calls from, his decor suppliers.
They arrived at Cape Town International just before 5am, parked the SUV in the long term parking, and walked to the business class check in counters where they were given access to the business lounge. Passing through security was quick and painless, if a little unfriendly - Ryan attributed it to the early hour - and proceeded up to the lounge where they found a table and had breakfast, deciding not to eat on the plane, but to nap instead. At boarding time, they descended to the boarding gate, which turned out to be a bus gate. They boarded the bus and were driven out to the small regional jet, parked remotely under the bright tarmac lights. The flight was full, but boarding occurred quite rapidly and soon they were taxiing to the end of the runway, five minutes ahead of schedule. The take off was powerful and after climbing through the cloud, settled onto a north easterly course towards George, the closest airport to the facility. When the seatbelt signs were turned off, they reclined their seats and were soon asleep.
They were awakened by the flight attendant, requesting that they return their seats to the upright position for the landing and only minutes later they touched down firmly, the engines roaring as they slowed down, and turned off the runway to taxi to the terminal. They disembarked and strolled across the apron in a cool, blustery wind and a weak winter sun, to the small terminal building where, while Ryan waited for the luggage to arrive, Andrew went to sort out the rental vehicle which happened surprisingly swiftly, so he drove round, stopping in front of the terminal doors just as Ryan emerged trundling their luggage behind him. The drive to the yacht facility was uneventful and they pulled into a parking bay just after 9.30am.
They were met at reception by Steve Carter, the owner and head yacht builder who offered them tea, coffee and pastries and took them on a tour of the facility, with Steve explaining all the different stages of construction and the various processes involved. He guided them to the side of the massive building where two hull shells sat on supports. Stopping at a hull marked 16/04, he turned and said to them,
"This will be your boat", and grinned when they both stared at him in astonishment. "Yes, it's true. We build the hull shells and then complete them to order. That's what we mean by semi-custom. From here to launch, virtually everything else will be selected and/or approved by you"
Ryan reached out and reverently touched the hull.
"She's huge. I didn't realise she would be so big"
Andrew looked at Steve.
"Okay, let's get her in the water. Do you have a contract for us to sign?"
He took them back to the boardroom where they sat for over three hours going through the contract with Steve, with a short break for lunch at a local restaurant. Every detail wad covered, from the number of cabins and bathrooms, or heads, location of the master cabin (port ot starboard hull, fore or aft), location of the galley (port or starboard of the saloon), type and rating of the engines, sail drive or shaft drive, size of the generator, rating of the water maker and hundreds of other items. Andrew let Ryan make most of the decisions with regard to the technical aspects, only commenting when he thought it was necessary. And that was just the actual build contract. The decor detail was a separate document completely. When they got to the financial section, Steve asked,
"Which bank do you want to finance her through?"
Andrew and Ryan grinned at one another. Andrew spoke for them.
"We won't be financing Steve. The deal will be cash!"
Steve's eyes bugged out of his head,
'Fuck me! I"m sorry! You're the first cash deal we've ever had. If you don't mind me asking, where do young guys like you get 15 million Rand plus, in cash. It's not exactly a small amount of money".
Andrew smiled sadly and said softly,
"I inherited a very large sum when my parents passed away".
"My sympathies for your loss Andrew. But wow, it certainly is my gain".
"Thank you", Andrew replied. "With your approval, I would like to give you two bank guaranteed cheques, drawn on my bank. One is dated for today, the other for 01 January. They will cover 70% of the purchase price. I will arrange payment of the balance upon completion of the sea trials and that we are happy with everything and you have a final figure less the two payments I have given you. Possibly even a rebate seeing it is a cash deal. Will that be acceptable? "
"Mr Devlin, for someone do young you have a lot of steel in you and my accountant is going to love you".
Ryan's head jerked up in shock and Andrew looked at him, concerned.
"That part about steel. Someone said almost the very words to me not so long ago".
"Life has caused that, Steve", Andrew said. "It wasn't always the case. So are we agreed?"
"Yes, we are. And I will throw in underwater lighting as part of the deal. How does that sound?".
Andrew glanced at Ryan who subtly nodded his head.
"It's a deal", Andrew told Steve and they all shook hands. Steve went to a small refrigerator and removed a tray with six chilled glasses and a bottle of champagne. He popped the cork and poured the bubbly liquid into the glasses. A head appeared around the door.
"Did I hear a cork popping? Does that mean we have another client? Hi, I'm Neil, the chief engineer."
"Trust you to be around for champagne. Meet Andrew Devlin and Ryan Major. They've just signed around contract for 16/04. Five cabin charter".
He looked at Neil and grinned.
"Wow, that's a first. Congratulations. You're going to love her. Have you thought of a name yet? We can write it on her hull so she won't be 16/04 anymore", Neil asked. "By the way, 16/04 means our 16th hull of that size and 04 is the proposed launch month",
Andrew glanced quickly at Ryan,his eyes misting over. Ryan moved next to him and pulled him close. Andrew looked up, slightly embarrassed.
"Sorry, just a bit emotional suddenly. Her name will be 'Belle Catherine ". B-E-L-L-E. She's named after my mother",
."Then Project Belle Catherine she will be from now on".
They stood around chatting for a while before Ryan glanced at the clock on the wall. It was 4.30pm.
"I think it's time we got going and find our B & B".
Steve looked surprised.
" Oh, I was under the impression that you were flying back today".
"No," replied Andrew. " We're actually staying for the weekend. Flying out on Sunday afternoon".
."Oh okay. How do you do feel about coming back tomorrow? Then we can look at interior finishes instead of waiting for later", Steve asked.
"Yeah, we can do that. No problem. Say around 10ish. We can have breakfast and then come around", Andrew said.
"10am is perfect. We can have it all set up for you when you arrive. What have you got planned for Saturday?", Steve enquired.
"Not much really. Just chilling".
"Well then, how about we go sailing on Saturday? We have a spec boat sitting at our dock. It's a 50 footer, owners version, but we can take her out for a test sail".
They both nodded eagerly.
"Yes, that would be great! We'd love to do it".
"Great, I'll set it up. We can confirm a time tomorrow".
They left soon after, found the B & B and checked in. They had an early dinner at a local eatery and after the very early start to their day, were asleep early as well.
The next morning, they were back at the factory, where they first went through a portfolio of interior photographs of previous builds, setting to one side ideas and colour combinations they liked. Then the started narrowing down until, by late afternoon, they had a good idea of what the interior would look like.
Andrew wanted it to be less formal than the lodge, but still have some indication of a corporate identity, and he felt they had achieved that. Steve had a special computer program in the design department where they could gather all the specs, input them, and create a video of what 'Belle Catherine' would look like and send it to them. It would take a week to complete. Before they left for the day, Steve took them out to see the hull again and they were both a bit emotional when they saw her name had been painted on her bows and stern transom.
On the Saturday, they met Steve and Neil on the company dock and they sailed out on the spec boat spending the day at sea, before returning late in the afternoon. The wind had been blustery and the sea fairly rough, remnants of the storm that had passed through Cape Town earlier in the week. But they had both been very impressed with the yacht. They had a good look around and found the build quality to be excellent. The carpentry work was outstanding and they found the yacht to be very stable, even in the relatively rough conditions. All in all, they both felt it was a weekend well spent and arrived home convinced that they had made the right decision and that the concept was a good one.