Chapter Thirty One
Seven o'clock came sooner than they expected. Both Ken and Collin had slept soundly and even Chief got in a good sleep too as she stayed with her 'boy' now that he was back at home.
Ken went upstairs to wake Collin. That was something he hadn't done often in the many, many weeks the teen had lived there. He knocked on the door but go no answer. He knocked louder but still no response. This time he opened the door some and knocked again but also called out Collin's name and for him to wake up. Stepping into the room Ken observed a still sleeping boy so sweet and peaceful he felt it was a shame to have to wake him. Ken walked over to the boy and gently shook him. Collin turned and looked up and saw his Big Bro standing there and reached up and pulled the man down to the bed.
"Bro, I am the most happy I've ever been," Collin announced. "Thank you for what you have done for me. I love you, Bro!" Then Collin wrapped his arms around Mr. Ken and kissed his cheek. He then let go and fell back onto the bed.
"Collin, my little bro, thank you for that big hug and kiss. I want you to know I truly missed you while you were gone. I never knew how long 36 hours actually is until someone you care for and 'love' isn't there. The reason I was still asleep when you got back today was that I could not sleep. I was up all night working and thinking about you and what we two have shared and become to one another. Now it is time for us to get ready for our dates and then go out and bring them back here before our guests arrive. You ready for your 'night of nights' my little bro?"
"Yes, Big Bro, I am really ready. Thank you again for everything you've done for me and especially for letting us use the limo for the night." That said, Collin threw off his blanket and stood up but this time there was no embarrassment to be had. All that talking made his 'wood' go down and Collin wasn't ashamed to be seen in his underwear by his Big Bro as the man had already seen him naked, too many times to count.
Sometime later, Collin's cell phone began to ring and it was just past 8 o'clock. As he opened it up, he didn't get the chance to even say hello when he immediately heard, "Bro, where are you? We need to pick up the girls. Hurry up and get over here!" Ryan was fit to be tired and didn't want to make the girls have to wait.
"Hold your horses, will you?" Collin replied. "We're coming down your street as we speak. Tell 'mom' I'll be right there." Just as he said that, the limo pulled up in front of Ryan's home and Collin got out and went inside to see the woman he calls 'mom'.
After a few minutes of pictures and some chat, the boys left to get their dates. The limo slowed to a halt in front of Megan's home and the chauffeur opened the rear door for two 'dressed to kill' young men to exit. They walked up to the front door and rang the bell and a beautiful woman answered and invited them inside. They made small talk and found out that Megan's mom, Ruth, was also attending the New Year's Eve festivities at the Cove as well. Their two young dates, being the women they are, were making their dates wait on them while Meg's mom got to know the boys some.
Some rustling was heard over by the stairs and suddenly two radiant young women appeared. The boys' mouths dropped open as they saw how beautiful their dates were and realized how lucky they were to be their escorts for the evening. The boys went over to their respective date, kissed their hand and each offered up the corsage they brought for them. After some initial trouble getting the flowers pinned to the tops of their dresses the four posed for pictures and then exited for the comfort of the limo.
The girls had never been inside a limo before and they asked if they could ride around some before they headed over to the dance. The chauffeur accommodated them and got them back to the Cove just as some of the teen guests were beginning to arrive. The big limo pulled onto the Cove grounds and many of the teens wondered who it might be. The chauffeur got out and opened the rear door and the four young teens exited in full view of many but especially the female guests. Some girls were delighted that Megan and Shelley were the lucky ones to arrive in such style. One such female, though, was decidedly pissed. Her name was Cheri.
The guests who saw the arrival went over to the four 'hosts' for the evening and talked up a storm. The whole group then walked into the 'car corral', or Party Central as it was being called for the evening, which was located behind one of the Guest Houses and in front of the 4-vehicle garage. The band saw Collin arrive and began their first set and the teens got into the Teen New Year's Eve Dance in a big way.
The evening was a delight for everyone. The air was cool but not so that you needed a heavy jacket. The boys all had on jackets and most of the girls wore shawls which worked out nicely for them as well. The far side opposite the garage openings was where the food and refreshments were all set up. It was located far enough away that the music was not so loud you had to yell to be heard. As more and more guests arrived, the party took on a 'life' of its own and it was obvious the night was already a complete success.
Inside the house in the Great Room, the adults were experiencing the same feeling of good fortune. They had been invited to 'thee social event of the year' and what they all knew would be a night to be remembered. All the women wore their most expensive gowns and jewelry and all the men were in their Tuxes. Their foods and refreshments were located out on the large patio, giving them, too, the distance needed to have a normal conversation and to cool off in the wonderful winter's air.
Ken Thomas left the estate just ahead of Collin, in order to collect his date for the evening. Her name was Mary Anne and she and Ken were good friends from their college days. She had no idea she was being picked up in a limo and when it drove up in front of her house, she was flabbergasted. Ken alighted from the rear, just as the teens had with the chauffeur holding open the door. He went up to the front door and rang the bell and the most beautiful woman opened the door and invited him inside.
Mary Anne had way too many questions she wanted to ask but Ken convinced her to wait until later on during the New Year's Eve Dance. He placed the corsage he brought her on her beautiful gown without difficulty and with her hand on his arm he escorted her to the waiting chauffeured limousine for the ride to the Dance.
Ken deliberately kept the truth from her about him and the dance. When he called her and asked her out for the evening she had already heard about the New Year's Eve fling at the Cove. He explained to her he was going to be there and wondered if she would like to attend as his guest. She immediately accepted and was extremely excited that she was also going to be there.
The two made small talk on the ride over to the Cove, discussing what they had been doing the past months since graduation. Mary Anne had been out of the country when the big storm hit and she wasn't aware that her, Mr. Ken Thomas, had been the governor's lead man for the storm recovery team and had also been shot. Ken didn't offer any of that during the ride. He was hoping that it wasn't a mistake to withhold such important information, especially to such a wonderful woman as she.
The limousine pulled right into the Cove grounds and Mary Anne saw all the security make way for the vehicle and then get on their shoulder mikes and begin talking. She had seen other limos parked on the apron up above the house and wondered why they were headed to the front door. Then she figured the chauffeurs parked their cars there after the grand entrance, so she relaxed and enjoyed the moment.
The limo driver stopped directly in front of the main entrance and went and opened the door for them to exit. Ken exited first and held out his hand to help Mary Anne get out. They entwined hands and arms and walked directly to the front door which opened directly for them. Ken now became very nervous.
Out at the Teen Dance, things were moving along great. Everyone was having a good time with the exception of one really pissed off girl. Her date for the evening was becoming more and more irritated with her actions and her refusal to go inside and dance with him. He saw Michael and Richard there and went over to them to ask them if they knew what her problem was.
"Hi Rich, hi Mike, great dance, isn't it?" said Jeremy, Cheri's date for the evening.
"Yes, it sure is," responded Mike. "Ryan personally invited us and I am sure glad I came."
"Yea, Jerr, this Dance will be talked about for years to come. I only wish it was our band up there," a smiling Richard said to Jeremy.
"Hey, guys, I know it was Ryan who dissed your band to play tonight so why are you two so happy about it? Cheri told me all about how they said your band wasn't worth it and didn't have enough experience for such an important event. She said you guys were terrific and all and should have been given the contract," a bewildered Jeremy asked his two friends.
"Cheri said all that? She lied to you, Jerr. Yes, it was Ryan who called us to tell us we hadn't been chosen to play, but he also told us it was Mr. Ken who made the final selection. Ryan said Mr. Thomas was paying the tab and he wanted experience and over rode their votes. That's what actually happened, Jeremy. Cheri sure has twisted the truth and of course, to her thinking. She thought all along we'd get the gig after Ryan showed up for the audition. She was all over him that night, kissing him and hanging all over him. I thought she was gonna ... ah ... ah gonna do more right there with him. After he left, she said we were a shoe in for the contract. What else did she tell you?" spoke Mike.
"Well, she told me it was only Ryan's vote that mattered."
"Didn't she tell you that Mr. Thomas and his Little Bro Collin were also there to hear us audition?" inquired Rich.
"Well, no, she didn't mention their names at all. And, oh, do you have any idea why she is acting the way she is, tonight? She was so happy we were gonna be here and all. Then Ryan shows up in a Limo and has a drop dead gorgeous girl on his arm. What's that all about," an even more upset Jeremy asked.
"Well, Jerr, what I heard through the grapevine was that Ryan asked her to be his date for the Dance. The talk was that she really ran him over the coals and blamed him for us not being here. Do you believe that? Listen to these guys. They're awesome. There is no way we could ever compete with them. They've been together since their Junior High days, and really have it together," replied Mike.
"Jerr, I bet she is pissed that she could have been 'that' girl getting out of that limo. Have you seen anyone else get out of one, other than the adults? I wonder if there will be fireworks later over that?" added Rich.
Just then Lewis and a pretty girl, he was hand in hand with, came by to say hi to the three. The three exchanged pleasantries and made small talk and then the conversation came around to how it was a 14 year old had been invited to this prestigious dance.
"Guys, my band auditioned for this gig, too," a smiling Lewis told the group. "Ryan called me up the other day and said they liked that I tried hard with my group and they wanted me to come and maybe get some ideas from this band. I was floored when he told me that. I heard that this was gonna be the dance of dances and there was no way I could miss this. S o, here I am with my friend, Nancy."
The five talked some more and parted company, with some headed for the dance floor and others to the food. One, though, went in search of his date.
Back inside the house, many people began to thank Ken Thomas for the wonderful evening and asked how he had found such a wonderful playing band. Others stopped by and called him by Mr. Ken and asked him how his arm was after the 'little incident' there at the house. All this time Mary Anne was hearing all this and she began to wonder who Ken Thomas really was. But before she could pull him aside to ask him those 'many questions' she had back at her house, Mary Taylor came over and gave him a big hug and told him what a wonderful job he did in decorating the estate for the evening. She went on to say that she couldn't have done a better job, and gave him a peck on the cheek and walked away without introducing her date.
Mary Anne figured that Ken became an interior decorator after graduation and was here because he needed to make sure everything went as planned and the name 'Mr. Ken' was just a business name or nickname. Then she began to wonder if that meant he was gay and her being there was a ploy so people wouldn't know. She was becoming furious inside over what she didn't know about her date, Mr. Ken Thomas, and she tried again to pull him aside to talk to him when a woman she knew from college came by to talk to them.
"Oh, hello Mary Anne, fancy seeing you here, I thought you were over in Europe. Oh, and hello to you too, Ken. I am so sorry again I couldn't attend with you tonight. Oh, I want you to meet Michael Chapman. He works for the County Board of Supervisor's. He's an architectural engineer," informed Janice.
"Yes, I already know Mr. Thomas. Mr. Ken and I worked closely together after the big storm, back in October. What a wonderful New Year's Eve Party you have here Mr. Ken. I see many of the important people from the County and the State are here in attendance, tonight. You may have out done yourself, you know. People who were invited and decided not to attend will have to answer to some higher ups I bet, later on," and Mr. Chapman laughed at that last statement pulling Ken into it as well.
"Mike, please call me Ken. I don't know how that Mister part got added to my first name. We two sure had some interesting dilemmas to fix back then, didn't we? I am so glad you had all the knowledge and experience. You should have been chosen to lead the recovery team, not I," replied Ken back to Michael Chapman.
The two women listened to the men talk all the while looking at each other using their eyes trying to gauge what was going on. The men continued to talk about fixing storm drains and bridges and talking to so and so and certain church leaders and civic groups. They shared some laughs over their time spent together and then realized their dates were standing there and they stopped and refocused back to them.
"Ken," both Janice and Mary Anne said precisely at the same time, "what is going on here?" they demanded.
Michael answered them by saying, "Mr. Ken here was selected by the Governor, personally, to be the lead man for our County's Storm Clean-Up, back in October. His name was all over the news and radio and TV. He met with almost everyone here in the County and for some, he 'walks on water' and will forever more. His youth caught many by surprise and when he stepped in and took charge his fresh new face brought him to the forefront. But his appointment also meant he stepped ON some toes which didn't enamor him to the big shot politicos. He became known as a man of integrity and his word was what happened and that enamored him to the local masses. The poor people around here especially looked up to him for what he did for them. They're the ones who began to call him Mr. Ken as a form of respect. Didn't you girls know any of that?"
"Well, no," answered Mary Anne. "I've been out of the country since the middle of September and returned just before the Christmas Holidays. I did hear about the storms but I never had time to read any of the newspapers while I was in Europe."
"Ken, what else are you keeping from us?" asked Janice. "Is there something we should know about and that you're not telling us?" continued Janice all the while running her hand along and under his face.
"Ladies, ladies," began Mike, "let me also tell you that besides all that, and being a personal friend of the Governor, Mr. Ken here is a bona fide hero! He was shot not too far from this very spot, from what I have heard. I heard he was protecting a young lad from some gunmen who wanted to kill the boy outright. You ladies should be honored to know someone as well connected and as brave." As he finished his little speech, there was a slight round of applause which came from the onlookers who had gathered and heard what was just said, unknowingly to either Mike or even Mr. Ken.
That little speech, heard by so few, spread so fast and to so many that Mr. Ken was inundated with well-wishers and had his hand shaken more times that he could ever remember. He tried to extricate himself from the onslaught of people, but he couldn't find a way.
Outside there began a frenzied talk about a hero or something and hearing what was being told, Collin and Ryan immediately gathered up their dates and went inside through the Kitchen to find their Big Bro to ask him what he knew about what was happening outside. Once inside, they heard the talk and a few adults stopped and shook Collin's hand and they said how proud they were of him. Now Collin and Ryan dragged their dates trying to find Mr. Ken. Seeing a large crowd they went over and saw Mr. Ken was beside himself and they went over to him and literally dragged him back into the Theater area and away from the throng of people. Mary Anne followed along and so did Janice and Michael. When they were stopped by Collin and asked to please not follow, Mary Anne said she was his date and Janice explained who she was. Collin looked at Ryan and with a nod they allowed them to enter with them.
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