When I woke up in the morning, I realized I was in a cuddled, Harry on one side and Charlie on the other side. I thought I knew about Harry, but I also knew I needed to break Charlie from coming to my bed.
I casually extracted myself, went, took a shower, got dressed, and headed downstairs. One look at the bed, Charlie was cuddling with Harry.
Walking into the kitchen, no one was there. I checked the time; it was 8. I couldn’t believe that Maria was still asleep. I started to make my coffee, make my toast, and took out some cheese for a cheese sandwich. I was just about to sit down when David walked into the kitchen.
“Sorry, Dad, it was my turn to open the kitchen. After you went to bed, we all got talking about how everything is going to be changing. As our brotherhood grows, there will be less of you for sharing.”
“David, I’ll always be there for you boys, even if I have to install a ticket machine. Seriously when a time comes that I can’t sit down with you boys, then that’s the time for me to retire. You’re the most important people in my life; everything else becomes secondary.”
David hugged me. “I’m so lucky to have you in my life.”
“No, David, I’m the lucky one. You have blessed my life.”
Over the next two weeks, my life assumed a pattern. I went to the office during the week and spent the weekends at home with the boys. We spent time at the conservatory, and by the amount of work left, I thought the next weekend we would start to plant some flowers.
The construction of the attic was well underway. The architect figured they would be completed in two weeks. They changed the outside of the house. I thought it began to have a European look. The boys have already picked their rooms, except Charles, as he wanted to stay in his room. I knew why, my room was a short distance. I made a mental note to find out more about Charlie. He and Anthony were the same age, but Anthony was more independent and didn’t require the attention that Charlie did.
The serenity of these last two weeks ended when I received a call from Alex. “Carleton, when are you coming to Europe?”
“Alex, I don’t have a case until the end of next month. So it’ll be five weeks before I come over again. Why?”
“We need to talk. We have a problem that needs your input and, more directly, your help.”
“You sound mysterious; can’t you give me more info?”
“No, only in person. Our friends in The Hague have called an emergency meeting for next Monday. Can you attend?”
“If you need me to attend. I’ll fly in on Sunday night, I’ll meet you at the airport. You can reserve a hotel for me, and I expect a face to face briefing.”
I could tell the relief in Alex’s voice. Now I wondered what this was all about. I called Ronnie and told him we’d be flying to Europe on Sunday night.
At dinner that night, I told the boys I needed to fly to Europe tomorrow night. Of course, the boys looked at me with questions in their eyes. They knew I didn’t have a case. We discussed this being a vacation for me, no trips to Europe. Now I had just informed them that I was going to Europe.
“I don’t know how long I’ll be. I have several meetings with some very important people. I’ll let you all know when I’m coming home. While I’m gone, Peter will take you to buy plants for the conservatory. You can surprise me.”
There were smiles, but also you could read their concern in their eyes. I was packing when David knocked on my door. “Hi, David, what can I do for you?”
“Dad, there’s a problem, isn’t there?”
“I don’t know. I was only told I had to be there. I’m sure everything will be okay, and I’ll be back very soon.” I got a hug, but I could still see the concern.
David was the oldest of the boys and has assumed some of the leadership from Steven. Each boy had a special place in my heart. I loved them all.
On the way to the airport, the boys came along. They rode in the back. I rode upfront. “Peter, while I’m gone, take the boys to the garden shop and let them buy plants for the conservatory. You’ll probably have to buy bags of potting soil as well. Make a day of it, buy them lunch, here use my credit card.”
Jimmy met the limo, took my luggage. I had to give each boy a hug and a kiss on their forehead, even David. Of course, Charlie had to have two. “Boys, Gram has catalogs for bedroom furniture. While I’m gone, pick out what you want for your new bedroom. We can discuss it when I come home.”
I waved to them as I boarded the plane. Now my mind was on Alex and the crisis that developed over the last few weeks.
Jimmy had a light supper for me and plenty of coffee. I appreciated my airline staff, they did a good job, and best of all, they kept the secrets.