Teenaged boys do what teenaged boys do best and that morning it was 'sleep in'. The adults who went to bed at a decent hour were all up by 8:30 am, and had breakfast and got to know one another a bit more.
"Where are those boys?" asked Janice.
"Let them sleep," answered Jack. "They'll be a handful if you don't. I bet they were up until all hours talking last night. I'd give them until 11."
"I agree with Jack, there, Janice. Collin has been going all out the past few days, and he needs to get caught up on his sleep," added Ken.
"I still can't believe this house, Ken," said Eileen. "It is so big and it only has you and Collin? And who cleans all this? Does Maria clean as well as cook?"
"Now, now, Momma," said Jack, Eileen's husband. "Let the man alone. He has the money and he built himself a wonderful place here. He is young enough that he could get married tomorrow and have this place filled up with kids in no time. It was nice that we had such wonderful accommodations which we couldn't have if he did have lots of kids."
"Yes, you're right. I guess I am just thinking back to what we had when we got married, Daddy. … I'm sorry, Mr. Ken for what I said," replied Eileen.
"No offense taken, Eileen," said Ken. "You are not the first person to ask those questions and by the way, Chief lives here, too, don't you, girl?" continued Ken, as he scratched behind his dog's ears.
"Momma Maria only cooks and shops for the pantry. She does answer the phone at times, and the door as well. I have a cleaning company that comes in every week, and is supposed to clean top to bottom, but there are times I think they purposely miss things, thinking I wouldn't notice. I've been looking for a Household Manager who would oversee the 'house' operations. That way Maria, here, can devote more of her time to cooking, which she has done a wonderful job of, for us," finished Ken.
Upstairs, Clint and Doug began to stir and then began talking between themselves.
"What do you think about all this, Clint?" asked Doug.
"You mean the trip and the house and everything?" replied Clint.
"Yeah, this whole weekend has been something you only see on TV, or in the movies. So, this is how the rich live? If they do, then, this is what I want to do when I get older," said Doug.
"I agree with you, there, but the thing with Mr. Ken is that he doesn't show it or maybe I should say he doesn't flaunt it. He doesn't act anything like … like a rich guy. At least to me he doesn't. He treats us like he does Collin and Ryan, and he treats them like they are his younger brothers," added Clint.
Just then, the door opened and Aidan and Brent entered, wearing only their t-shirts and boxers.
"You guys are up, I see," said Aidan.
"What gave you that idea," said Doug, and threw his pillow at his friend.
"I still don't want to go home," said Brent.
The three other teens looked at him, and then Clint asked, "I thought you and your mom worked things out last night, Brent? We didn't see you after you two left to talk, so we, well I, figured, you know, that you and your mom … well were okay and all."
"Yeah, we are pretty much, but … it's just that being here has given me a whole new look at life. … I mean look at this place. And the friends Collin and Ryan have here. I could love it here," answered Brent.
"Brent," said Aidan, getting his best friend's attention, "this isn't us … and for sure it isn't you. Come on now, and get real. Your mom will never allow you to stay here and what would I do without my study partner?"
"Yeah, you're right, Aid. I guess I am just wishful thinking my way into staying. And I'd miss all you guys, too and the rest of the group back home. … But you have got to admit, this weekend was a blast. It's too bad it wasn't summer time. I bet we could have stayed all week, and seen tons of stuff," said Brent.
The four friends talked some more about their wonderful weekend, and how lucky they were to experience this, once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity. Then they heard a knock on the door and then it slowly opened and Collin stepped into the room.
"Morning, guys, I hope you all slept well last night," said their teenaged host.
"We were just talking about this weekend, and everything, Collin," said Brent. "I know I sure don't want to go home. Well, just yet anyways."
"Yeah, Brent's been trying to figure out how we could stay until next weekend," teased Doug. Then the rest of the boys laughed at Brent.
The teens sat around talking about the weekend and the party and school and the girls the California Boys met, and of course, the fabulous tour they had yesterday. As they talked, a certain pet, who goes by the name of Chief, walked into the room and sat next to her master. Collin reached down and scratched behind her ears for a few minutes, then realized what time it was.
"Guys, we better get a move on," said Collin. "Chief comes up to get me when I'm either late or in trouble and seeing the time, I bet the adults are wondering when we'll be down for breakfast."
"Damn, it's 10:30 and I bet my mom and dad are mad, too. They never let me sleep this late when I am at home," said Aidan.
"But we weren't sleeping, Aid. We were sitting here talking and time got away from us," said Clint. "And that's our story and we'll stick with that … okay?"
They all laughed at Clint, as he was always the one to come up with lame excuses, when they needed them. The boys then headed to the bathroom and the five of them all got into the shower at the same time.
It was just past 11 AM when the five teenagers entered the kitchen. Aidan immediately headed for his mom and gave her a big hug and Brent went to his mom and gave her a hug, too. Collin went to his mentor, and stood next to him, and then got pulled into a hug.
"You don't need to be embarrassed about giving or getting hugs, young man," loudly announced Mr. Ken. "You're my 'little brother' and you need them like any kid, I know."
Collin just smiled in embarrassment, but then hugged the man right back.
Since it was close to noon, Momma Maria set out some lunch meats and fixings and let the boys make their own lunches. The adults left them to eat in peace.
An hour later, the whole group got together down in the Great family Room and as Ken was going to ask them if they wanted to go out on the Commander, his 38 foot boat, the doorbell rang. Maria answered it and in walked Ryan and his mom Mary.
"Bro, do you have room for one more this afternoon?" asked Ryan.
"What did you do, Ryan, skip the afternoon?" asked Doug.
"Nope, I convinced my wonderful mother to get me out of today's afternoon classes; so, I could be with you guys. If I didn't, you'd be on your way to the airport when I got home from school," explained Ryan.
Before long, they all headed to the dock and Collin and Ryan helped Mr. Ken unbutton the 38 foot Commander, and soon they were off to a gentle boat ride around the lake. The California boys were still interested in Collin's adventure, and so Collin showed everyone where he was last held, before they tried to kill him. Then the boys got to see the distance their friend had to swim, before washing up on Mr. Ken's property. Everyone was amazed at how much determination for life Collin had, in order to get that far, and in such cold water. The adults and teenagers came away with a profound admiration for Collin's accomplishment.
The boat ride took them almost around the entire lake and their last stop was the new beach swimming area, Mr. Ken was building for the county. This was the first time both Collin and Ryan saw the enormous water and play park, that would soon open, and they just stood there with their mouths wide open.
"Bro, why haven't we ever been out here before this?" asked Ryan.
"Well, for one thing, you never asked. And for another thing, we've all been too busy to come out here. … So, how do you like it?" said Ken Thomas.
The six teenagers all started talking at the same time, making the adults laugh out loud.
"I take that as you all like it," said Ken.
"Like it … I love it," announced Ryan. "Everyone is gonna love this place when it opens. What is there not to love here? It has a wave pool, twisty-turnny water slides, cabanas, covered pavilions for barbequing, boat tie ups, sandy beach, and … and what is that going to be, Mr. Ken," said Ryan.
"That, my boy, will be the new home for the Water Safety and Rescue Teams. I decided to build them their own place, where they could meet and train, and from there, they are located almost half-way from anywhere on the lake. They will also be around to help keep the vandalism down, at the water park. At least, I hope that happens, in theory," explained Mr. Ken.
The group got back to Three Finger Cove about 3 PM and the California visitors had to pack and get ready to leave for the airport by 4. Collin and Ryan decided to hang with their friends, and help them pack as they talked. The adults got their things together and asked the boys to take them downstairs for them. All the teens did was stuff the elevator with their bags and send it to the main floor, and then they met it there. The adults only shook their heads and inwardly smiled at them being boys, doing what boys do – getting away with using the least amount of energy, they could.
The limo arrived on time, and everyone helped the driver with all the bags. Then the farewells began and so did the tears.
"You're gonna stay in touch, aren't you Collin?" asked Brent.
"Sure, why wouldn't I," responded Collin as the two hugged one another.
"Thank you for everything, Mr. Ken," said Aidan. "This was the best present I've ever had, and I will never forget what you've done for me, and my parents."
Then Aidan hugged the man and began to outwardly cry. His parents went to him and hugged their only son and, with tears in their eyes as well, they too hugged the man they credited with saving their boy's life.
It wasn't long before everyone had a tear or two sliding down their cheeks.
Then, with one last hug around for everyone, the California Group loaded into the limo and they were off to the airport and their private airplane ride back to their homes.
Collin and Ryan and Mary and Mr. Ken, along with Chief, stood at the front entrance until the limo was out the main gate. Then, Chief put her head under Collin's hand wanting some attention and the wonderful weekend was now over.
Everyone got back into their routine pretty quickly after the California Boys left. With the election now only a month away, the teens and Mr. Ken got quickly into helping their candidates.
Collin and Ryan also got good news about Rodney, that Wednesday afternoon, after school. Mrs. Costa called to tell them that her son had begun to come out of his coma, but was still in serious condition. She thanked them again for everything and asked them to stop by when they got the chance. The two boys were happy about that news and said they would spread the word at school the next day.
In the meantime, Collin and Ryan coordinated with all the teen volunteers and together they walked all around the School District neighborhoods delivering their candidates brochures to the people's houses. Collin was even interviewed a few times by the local news media, since he made his speech at the rallies.
Mr. Ken was also busy with the candidates and their Treasurers to make sure they had enough funds to carry them through Election night. Mr. Ken was also invited to talk to various civic groups and he too was interviewed by the news media, which gave him the best position to reinforce his candidate's positions about being for the students and not for the special interests that have refused to do what was right for the kids.
During that time, the incumbents were also busy and they began to play dirty and started telling everyone lies and tall tales about their opponent's private lives, lack of schooling, and making up bogus driving records that led one to believe they had a drinking problem. Even though it was entirely false, the incumbents didn't care, as long as they won their seats back, come Election Day, the first Saturday of May.
On top of all their focus on the election, Mr. Ken and Collin were dealing with the fallout from the arrests made, dealing with the deaths of his parents, and the attempt to take over Wilkinson Enterprises.
"Mr. Ken," began Collin, "how did those men ever think they could take over my dad's companies with him still alive, and get away with it?"
When Ken heard Collin begin a sentence with "Mr. Ken" he knew the boy had a very serious question he wanted to ask, and the lad had just asked a big one.
"Collin, that is the question your Uncle Andy and I are still trying to figure out. Your Uncle Andy had to go back up there after the Rally, to watch what happened after the arrests were made. You know he was very sorry he missed your 16th Birthday Party. I think you know, though, that his being there, and knowing about the men involved, got him closer to knowing that answer. That is why I didn't have to go back up there," answered Collin's guardian.
"But … but those men were after what was my dad's. How could they do that to him? I mean he gave them their jobs, and he treated them really, really well. And that Mr. Clarke, he was his right hand man all those years. How could he plan such a thing to the person who looked at him like a brother? Mr. Ken, I just don't understand," continued Collin.
Ken went over to the teenager and hugged him tight and said, "My little brother … there always are people out there that want more than what they have, and will do just about anything to get it. In this case, Dennis Clarke wanted to control all of Wilkinson Enterprises, and to do that, he needed the cooperation of the rest of those men, who were also arrested. He didn't plan on Mark taking that gun to kidnap you, nor your mom and dad fighting over you with him. I'll bet 'good money' the rest of the men involved didn't know all the particulars, and that they just wanted to move higher up in the 'food chain'.
"Andy Marshall told me that as soon as those men were told they could face Capital Murder charges, as accessories, they all began to tell their part in the scheme, to take over Wilkinson. That is why I didn't need to be there. Those men want to save their hides, and will 'tell on the devil' to do just that. You know, we could go there this weekend, if you want to, you know. Leave after school Friday and return Sunday night."
Collin stood there, in Mr. Ken's arms, thinking about the offer, but as good as it sounded to him, Collin decided to stay and continue doing anything he could to help their candidates get elected.
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