"Your house … what do you mean, YOUR HOUSE? Look how impertinent you've become since you've been living here!" scolded back Grammy.
"What's happening down there, Mr. Ken? Looks like they are having a heated argument," observed Mary.
"You may be right, there, Mary. But it does look like Collin is holding his own, and giving as much as he takes," added Ken.
"YES … IT IS MY HOUSE! … My parents willed the estate AND Wilkinson Enterprises to me, and ONLY me! I OWN BOTH … or did you think because you were to be my guardian that you would have complete control and … and, that you'd OWN it and ME, in the interim? … … Grammy, the ONLY way I am going back to the Wilkinson estate is under MY terms. Not under YOUR terms, not Mr. Ken's terms and surely NOT under some judge's terms.
"You came here today to see if we could reconnect, you and me, and … and, do what my parents wanted, for us to be a family. … Let me tell you here and now, I will not go back there and have the life I had. I've learned there is more to this life than being 'seen and not heard'. Here … here, I now have friends … and people who actually Love Me! I can come and go … within reason, as long as Mr. Ken knows what I am doing and where I am going.
"I can give parties and be a part of organizations that support people running for elected office. I can also be a part of a group fighting a corrupt school board and collecting money to help pay medical bills of students beaten at school," explained Collin, as he turned his back to his grandmother.
After Collin's seething rebuttal, the air was charged, but very quiet between grandmother and grandson, as they contemplated what had been said between them. After a minute or two, it was Grammy who spoke.
"Collin … was your life … actually that bad … living with your parents?"
"When I look back it … YES!" angrily replied Collin again and he turned to face the older lady.
"But, they loved you, Colley. I know they did. You … your mother was always telling me how much she loved her little boy, and how she saw you one day … taking over Wilkinson Enterprises," argued Grammy.
"I know. I often heard her talking to you and telling you that. Bu … but did my father EVER say those same things? To you, or, to me … ever?" loudly spoke Collin, as he looked directly into his grandmother's eyes.
"You don't have to answer that, because I know what that answer is … and the answer was NO! He NEVER … EVER said anything like that to you … ever. All he ever wanted was for me … to be all grown up, the day I turned thirteen, and he told me so. He began to treat me as if I was one of his business acquisitions. He'd tell me to 'man up' and that I had a lot to prove before he'd ever let me run HIS businesses."
Then Collin, turned away from his Grammy, as he said, "Th … the ONLY time … I ever heard him say … that he loved me, after that day, was th … the night tha … that" and at that point Collin began to lightly cry and wipe his eyes while he formulated what he wanted to continue to say, "the night that he and mom fought those men who … who came to kidnap me. He … he looked up to me and said he … that he 'loved me' as he laid there on the floor … bleeding."
With that said Collin turned to his grandmother and ran to her and hugged her as the memories of that fateful night came flooding back into his mind. He cried and cried and cried out "WHY" over and over again while his Grammy comforted him as best she could. For her part, she could only fathom the hurt her grandson went through, that night, seeing both his parents shot in front of him, and being dragged away from them, never to see them alive, ever, again.
Up at the Cove, Mary saw what just happened down at the dock and, with a gasp, moved her hand to her mouth.
"Wha … what happened?" quickly asked Mr. Ken.
Mary explained what she just saw, and the two of them, now joined by Judy and the boy's, all watched the two individuals hug down on the dock benches.
"Grammy, I … I had no one! … I was all alone, an … and I didn't know what happened to my parents," cried Collin. "They took me … and they blindfolded me, and for days I … I didn't know where I was. Then, we finally stopped where we then stayed for a long time and … and tha's … that's when they … they did what they did to me. … It hurt so much, Grammy. They … they made me do things I … I never thought I could ever do.
"Then they … they did it over and over to me … every night th … that I can remember. Th … they kept telling me everything wa … was fine and that soon my mom and dad would pay the ransom, and I'd … I'd be going home. But it never happened. … I lost track of time, and they never let me shower. They bought me some new clothes to wear, but …" and Collin took a break in telling his story.
Grandmother Wilkinson held onto the lad, as he told her his horrible story. She hugged him close to her and lightly rubbed his back. When he finished talking, she didn't do or say a thing. Thinking Colley was finished telling her his story, she needed the time to comprehend what she just heard and give her grandson time to compose himself as well.
It was then, that a more composed, Collin began to speak again.
"The night of the big storm, they … they all took … took turns with me. Then one of them told the other to take me down to the lake and … and … he made me get into the boat. … I knew then that he ... that he was going to kill me."
At hearing that, Vickey gasped, as she took in a big breath, and brought a hand up to her mouth.
Collin continued telling her his story, he said, "Somehow, I just knew that … that was what he was told to do, so … well, so I figured I had nothing to lose by fighting him … so I did. He had a knife … and he slashed at me when I resisted. …
"Eventually, I fell overboard. … I don't know what happened then … but when I came up to the surface, the boat was gone. I saw some lights … so; I decided to try to swim towards them. I don't know how long I swam, but when I got to the shore, I had enough left in me to crawl up to the top of the hill. It was there … that Chief, and Mr. Ken, found me … and then he called Doc Rick and … and I was saved."
Collin stopped talking then, and just hung onto his grandmother. After a minute or two, the teen pulled back some and looked directly at his grandmother and began to speak again.
"Grammy … if it weren't for my Big Bro, Mr. Ken, I would not be here for you to hold. He did everything he could think of, and more, to make sure I survived. He fought a rouge FBI agent, he put Mr. Hale and his crony's in their place, and saved Wilkinson for me, to one day run, like dad wanted me to. Bro also showed me … what it was like to live in a 'real' family environment; one which has friends and contacts and money.
"Yes, Grammy, I said M-O-N-E-Y! Mr. Ken has tons of it, from what I've been able to … well, observe. He never flaunts his wealth, but … but, I've seen him use it for acquiring the amusement parks, he so dearly loves, and in helping the local community charities and especially his friends.
"Grammy … I've learned more in these past eight months than I can remember being taught and shown, since I turned thirteen, by my own dad. You see … Bro didn't tell me to or make me learn, this or that, or even make me remember something I had no idea what it was. What Mr. Ken did was … was he showed me by example and he explained things as he went along. He even told me I could ask questions about anything I didn't understand.
"He even let me try things on my own, and he let me learn from my mistakes. He'd say to me, 'Collin, 'lil' bro', you'll remember a whole lot more from those mistakes than from doing it right each and every time, because when the time comes, that something does go wrong, you won't have any experience in dealing with setbacks and finding solutions.'
"Grammy … Mr. Ken has been the Big Brother, to me, that I always wanted. He's never made me feel as if I was in the way, or a bother to him. He made time for me when I needed it, and he gave me my space to learn things on my own. He even made sure I had someone my age to possibly be my friend."
"That would be Ryan, then, wouldn't it?" asked Vickey Frankenberg.
"Yes, Grammy, he invited Ryan and 'mom'", but before he could explain he heard.
"And who is this … this 'mom' you speak of, Colley? Is she one of that … that man's bimbos, I bet he has around his … this house? Why would you call any of them that, when you had your own mother?" quickly asked a now seriously pissed-off V. Susan Frankenberg.
Upon hearing what his Grammy just said, Collin became thoroughly pissed and almost went ballistic when he got in her face and said, "I thought you had your … your so called men … find out all about MY Big Brother, Mr. Ken? Huh? … DID YOU? But all it seems to me is … is they charged you … for not doing a very good job or, is it, YOU ONLY HEARD what you wanted to hear, from them?
"All you did today was come here … and right from the start, you've pushed and pushed and belittled everything and everyone, as IF you're the one we ALL have to kowtow to! You sat back for two months, yeah, two months, looking for a way to humiliate Mr. Ken, and all of my friends, and didn't even have the guts to come right here and tell me you'd returned, from whatever high fluting trip you were on." finished the still highly pissed teenager
"Now, listen here, young man, I will not…" began V. Susan Frankenberg.
Collin quickly stood up in front of his grandmother and emphatically said, "NO … no YOU listen! It's Ryan's mom! She is the person I call 'MOM' after all she has done for me, too. Being around Ryan, all the time, and hearing him call his mother 'mom' I began calling her that, too. Calling her Mrs. Taylor all the time didn't … well, it didn't feel right to me, and so I STARTED calling her that and I'll continue calling her 'mom', if I so choose. She didn't mind and… and, she did things for me that a 'mom', a mother, does for her kid. It felt ... well, it felt right that I called her that, and so I did," finished a totally pissed off Collin, as he then sat down again.
Vickey couldn't find anything to say about Collin's explosive explanation, and if she had, she chose not to, and the two found themselves sitting there, in abrupt silence, for some time.
"Co … Colley … Collin," lightly said Grammy, "I … I failed you … didn't I?"
Collin took his time, before he looked up at his grandmother, and then said, to her, "In a way … I guess I'd have to say … yes … YES, you did! I don't think you did it on purpose, bu … but you, too, left me alone when I turned thirteen. We used to have such, you now, good time's together, bu … but … when I turned thirteen … it all ended and I … I never understood why."
"Oh, oh, Colley … I am so ashamed of myself. I … I thought I was doing the right thing when your father asked me to … to stop being a constant in your life. I see, now, that he only … that he only did what was done to him as he was growing up. … "
"Jeez, they sure have been down there talking a long time," piped up Eric. "When are we gonna be able to go and ride the Waverunner's Mr. Ken?"
"Yeah, Bro, what is talking them so long, anyway? You'd think they'd have been able to …" chimed in Ryan before his mother scolded him.
"Ryan Taylor … your BEST friend is down there trying to connect back with a person who he hasn't seen for over a year. A person he thought had abandoned him. It takes time to … to come to grips with all that has to be flooding into him, right now."
The people in the house continued to watch the two down on the dock, but when it came to 3 o'clock, Mr. Ken made a decision.
"Come on, boys get your wet suits on. It's time we went and did what we planned for this weekend, and ride those Wave Runners!"
"Yeah!" was all that could be heard from Eric, as he rushed through the house and up the stairs to get his wet suit on quickly, followed by his 'other' big brother, Ryan.
Fifteen minutes later, the three 'men' arrived at the beach and began getting the water craft ready to launch. Even Eric pulled his 'weight' and did whatever he could, so he could get out there and have fun like he did the last two days.
"What are those things, Colley? What are they getting ready to do?" asked Vickey.
As Collin began to explain, the first one fired up causing the lad to speak louder. Then, the second caught and the noise was quite louder on the dock until they rode out of the beach cove.
"Have I been keeping those boys from having their fun, today, Colley? Tell me now? Are you supposed to be out there, too?" seriously asked Collin's grandmother.
"Yes, Grammy … we had planned to ride them all weekend. Mr. Ken gave them to Ryan and me for our sixteenth birthdays' and we promised our 'little bro' we'd take him out there with us," explained Collin.
"I see. Why don't you join them and let this old woman sit here and think about everything you sa … ah, we've talked about. Can you do that for me, Colley?" lovingly asked Collin's Grammy.
Ten minutes later, Collin was seen jumping on his WaveRunner and joining his Big Bro and 'brothers' out on the lake. V. Susan Frankenberg sat and watched as the four raced back and forth, and played, like she'd seen many other boys their age doing the same.