Chapter 11 Fury.
Dinner Friday night was subdued but pleasant. Somehow, we got on the conversation of Rick opening a restaurant.
"Rick, I think it's a great idea."
"Yes but maybe I should just work for a couple years after school and save up some money to get started." I could tell the wheels in his head were spinning.
"Well there is the option of a partnership. I would definitely be interested."
Travis nodded in agreement. "Count me in. You have the cooking skills already and haven't even finished school yet. Dale and I could put up most of the starting funds and you could run the place."
"That would be awesome." Rick had a huge grin on his face. "I was thinking of fine dining. I kind of had this plan to do like an international seafood joint. Not really sure where I am going with that but it's just an idea."
Shane smiled. "I kind of like the idea. You could call it International Waters."
We all paused for minute to think about that and then all three of us agreed at the same time.
"Really, I was just spouting ideas." Shane was beaming.
I nodded. "Okay, so it’s official in two years we will launch International Waters. A premier fine dining location with Chef Rick."
Travis raised his glass. "To International Waters the newest adventures of Dale and Company"
We all chuckled and toasted.
Rick raised his glass, "To Cyclone and may her crew come home safely, especially these two great guys." He motioned towards Shane and Travis with his glass.
We stayed until the restaurant closed then went home. I could tell all of us were reluctant for the evening to end because tomorrow brought goodbyes.
When we arrived at the house, everyone was there so I walked out to the pool area.
"Hey everyone what's going on?" Carl, Nick, David and Cat where all sitting and drinking wine chatting."
Cat laughed. "We all tried to have an evening as couples and look where we end up, all together here at your house."
Rick smile and took Shane's hand. "I guess it's better to laugh with friends than to face saying goodbye to someone you love."
Shane turned and looked at him and kissed him.
For the rest of the evening, we sat around discussing anything except the impending departure of Cyclone. I couldn't help but think that this is something we would all have to get used to. As the evening wore on, I began to think I not only inherited a company I also inherited a family.
Before too long, I figured it was time to get to bed. Tomorrow was going to be a long hard day.
"Okay, everyone I am headed to bed." Travis stood up with me.
We said goodnight to everyone and went to our room. We lay in our bed holding on to each other until we fell asleep. The next morning I woke to Travis crawling out from under me.
He smiled and kissed me, "Morning Beautiful."
I smiled back, "Good morning My Captain."
The door to the bedroom opened and Carl came walking in with coffee. "My god can you too get any cheesier? Your sea uniforms are in the closet. Rick has breakfast started. Michael is off today so Max will drive you. I will take the Range Rover with all Travis and Shane's gear. Rick is going to the pier with us to be with the rest of the wives." He turned around and walked out.
Travis starting laughing. "I swear the Ice Queen might miss us."
I couldn't help but laugh. "Be nice. Your right though, even though he would never admit it."
We showered and got ready pretty quickly. Downstairs Shane, Cat and David were all in uniform. Rick had decided to serve a traditional breakfast on the back deck. Pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and biscuits and gravy.
"Morning everyone." I was surprisingly chipper considering I was sending my newfound love off to sea and wouldn't see him for two weeks.
"Morning Admiral, Morning Captain."
I chuckled. "So Cat and Rick, I was thinking when our husbands leave for sea duty we should all head out to the mall to spend the money they are earning."
Everyone laughed, "No seriously guys I have some things to pick up at the mall after Cyclone departs. We could grab a late lunch and do some shopping."
Everyone agreed and soon it was time to take the guys into the office. When we reached the ship, a large crowd was there saying bye to family and friends. It was difficult, but I managed to hold it together until the ship was towed out and started her engines. Cyclone launched a battery of flares that exploded like fireworks as she began maneuvering under her own power. I looked at Cat and Rick and knew they were barely holding on. I don't think any of us were on the verge of tears but depression was setting in quickly.
"Okay guys, let's get out of here and go get drunk and do some retail therapy." We headed to the Mall. I noticed as we arrived Max and a fellow security officer was following us at a discreet distance. We had lunch, quite a few drinks, Carl’s antics had everyone laughing, and after lunch, we did some major retail therapy. At one point, I tabulated in my head that I spent about $2700. Mostly on new clothes for Travis and I, but I also bought Rick some dressier clothes. Carl was stuck in the Apple store for a bit while a really cute sales guy tried to get him to by the newest IPad. Unbeknownst to either of them, I had another sales person already charge it to my card so when Carl went to pull his card they told him it was already paid for. He immediately turned and glared at me and then smiled.
Cat flat out told me if I spent any money on her, she would have to include a prostate exam in my next physical. Cat and I spent the most time together walking, shopping and talking while the two "boys" bounced all over. I hadn't realized Cat's father was a retired Virginia Governor. Apparently, she came from old money. She glossed it over pretty quickly and I could tell she didn't really want to talk about it, so we both let it go.
Every so often, I would see Max or his partner out of the corner of my eye. As we were getting ready to leave the mall, Cat and I were looking for Carl and Rick when I heard a familiar voice behind me.
"Well, Well, Well. If it isn't the King of Faggots." I spun around and there was Doug Mathis standing behind me. I looked over his shoulder and saw Max start to trot up to us.
I looked him right in the eye. "Mathis, you do not want to start something here."
"Oh and why not. You don't have your little Captain ass pounder or Lieutentant queer boy to protect you."
At that moment, a good looking young man maybe twenty or twenty-one was passing by. He stopped and looked at Doug. The kid was in excellent shape your could see the muscles ripple underneath his skintight shirt. "What the fuck did you just say asshole."
I think Doug was just as confused as I was for a minute. However, Doug was too stupid to realize he was seriously outnumbered. "Mind your own fucking business punk."
"It is my business when I hear some dickwad like you calling someone queer boy."
I stepped up, "Thank you for stopping. But I think we can control this easier if it stays between us."
"No offense Sir, but it is between me and jerk off over there now. I am sick of people getting away with calling us gay people names and thinking they can talk down to us." He stepped closer to Doug.
Doug backed up a couple of steps. "What the fuck man, this is between me and them. I am out of here. We will cross paths again Dale that I promise." When he turned around and saw Max and the other agent standing there, he had to shoulder pass them.
Max walked up to me. "You okay Mr. Ryan?"
"Just fine Max, thank you. Can you report this little interaction to Karen please?" I was looking at the young kid. Good looking, well-built, stocky about 5'8". "Hi I am Dale Ryan." I reached my hand out to shake his hand he pumped my hand firmly.
"Gregory Taylor. Are these guys secret service? Are you like some politician or something?"
I laughed, "No not all. I own a very big company and unfortunately, I have made some enemies. That guy is one of them. I just fired him last night."
"Oh wow, sorry to get into the middle of it." He stepped back a little.
"Not a problem Gregory. Actually, you stepping in helped defuse the situation. I would like to buy you a drink in thanks."
Carl and Rick walked up at that moment. Carl stood there with his hand on his hips. "Travis left this morning and you're out trolling the mall for guys already."
We all laughed but Gregory looked shocked. "Oh no, it's not that at all."
I chuckled again, "It's okay Gregory, he is only kidding you will have to get used to his sense of humor."
I introduced Gregory to everyone and explained what happened with Doug. Rick got pissed and was ready to storm off after him. Once I got Rick settled down, we all agreed to meet at a little Martini bar down the street from the mall. I told Max what we were doing and we all headed for the car. We meet Gregory at the bar and ordered drinks.
I kicked the conversation off, "So Gregory, are you in college?"
"You guys can call me Greg and no I was trying to go to community college but I had to drop out to get another job." He lowered his head a little.
I smiled at him. "That's completely understandable. What do you do?"
"Well, I was working at the big book store in the mall but they closed so now I am just looking for anything."
"So you must know by now we are all gay." Cat just glared at me. "Oh, except for Cat and her new boyfriend."
"I kind of figured. So are you two together"? He motioned to Rick and Carl.
Rick started laughing hysterically. Carl hit him in the arm. "Why is that so funny? And no Greg, we are not together. My boyfriend is much better looking than him."
This time Rick hit Carl back. "Oh Yeah well my boyfriend can kick your boyfriends ass."
They both started laughing again and poor Greg didn't know what to say. I just shook my head."Girls you’re both pretty, so stop it."
That got them laughing again and I knew Carl was going to keep Rick laughing the entire time Shane was gone. We had had quite a few drinks and were kind of tipsy when Rick suggested we head back and throw some burgers on the grill and go for a swim. I invited Greg along and he accepted. As I stood up to get ready to leave, Max was standing beside me.
"Mr. Ryan I called tonight's duty driver and he is brining a car for you and your guests. I will follow you in the SUV."
"Good thinking Max. I think we all drank too much to drive." Carl handed him the keys and we all headed out.
When I looked back at Greg, he seemed unsure of what to do."Greg, just ride with us and when you're ready to go I will have someone drive you back to your car."
We got out side and one of the INS stretches pulled up and the driver got out and got the door for us.
"Evening Mr. Ryan, will you be headed right home tonight."
"Yes we will thank you."
Greg's eye where huge when he saw the car. We all climbed in and headed to the house. Greg was in even more awe when he saw the house. We all changed into swim trunks, Carl had to lend Greg a pair. Rick with Greg's help started dinner and Cat and I went and picked out some bottles of wine. As we where selecting the wine, a thought came to me. It would be awesome if Travis and I and Cat and David could get enough time free to go to Napa Valley and tour some vineyards and restock the cellar at the same time. I would have to see if Carl could help me plan that. Maybe over the holidays. I mentioned it to Cat and she was totally excited about it.
After dinner, we all went for a swim and I noticed Greg and Rick were really hitting it off. Definitely not lovers material, Rick is way to smitten with Shane but I could see these guys being good friends. Once we were done horse playing in the pool, we all settled down with some wine.
"So Greg, if you drink too much tonight you can always crash in one of the guest bedrooms and hang out with us tomorrow."
Rick smiled. "Yeah Greg it will be a blast."
Greg smiled a little. "Okay but I have to be home by 1 p.m. to watch my sisters when my mom goes to work."
"That's not a problem. How old are your sisters?”I was intrigued by this kid.
"They are twins so they are both six." He was beaming as he talked about his sisters.
"That's really cool. What does your mom do?"
"She is a nurse at a Children's Hospital of Kings Daughters over in Norfolk. She works a lot and I have to take care of my sisters a lot."
"That's very nice of you. Where is your dad?" I knew I pushing it here but I wanted see what was up with him.
"He left when my sisters were two. It's just been my mom and me taking care of the girls for the last four years. We haven't heard from him in three years."
"Sorry to hear that Greg. So let me ask you, why did you leave school."
"I had to work more hours to help my mom with money. I just couldn't handle school and work at the same time plus I just couldn't justify spending money on school if it meant my sister went without."
"Greg that's a tough spot to be in for someone so young, but it seems like you are handling it very well. What were you studying in college?"
"Well I was taking a bunch of prerequisite stuff and wanted to get my degree in early childhood development. I kind of had this dream of running my own daycare but focused on people like my mom. You know single struggling parents. I could provide low cost daycare but make it super high quality. It's not all about the money for me."
I looked over at Carl. He was nodding at me. "Carl, can you setup an appointment for Greg with Mark in HR in my office. I want him to interview for one of the new daycare positions opening up."
Greg just stared at me for a minute. "What?"
I laughed. "Greg I told you I own a pretty big company right? Well we have a large daycare facility for our employees and just recently, we announced we would expand our services and offer free daycare to wounded veterans reentering the work force. We are hunting for staff now. I would like you to come in Monday morning and interview for a position. I can't make any promises but I can tell you that as an employee of ours you would get free daycare for your sisters. Can you have a resume ready by Monday morning?"
Carl stood up. "Greg come with me. Dale he will have a resume ready in about an hour and I will email it to Mark and You."
"Thank you Carl. But you have all day tomorrow so don't put too much time into it tonight."
They walked into the house and I turned around to see Cat and Rick smiling at me.
"What are you two smiling about?"
Cat laughed. "You keep taking in strays and you're going to have to put an addition on the house."
I laughed and Max came out onto the patio. "Mr. Ryan, sir”
“Max it’s Dale for Christ sake.”
“Yes sir. I just wanted to let you know I am off for a few hours. Frank and Jayden are on duty if there is anything you need.”
“Max thank you and there is something I need right now.”
I laughed. “First, I need you to call me Dale. Second, take off your jacket and sit down and have a glass of wine with us."
"I really shouldn't Dale."
"Why is that, you got a hot date you're rushing off too?"
He laughed, that was the first time I have seen him laugh. "No not at all I was just going to go back to apartment and relax for the night."
"By yourself? Just relax here and enjoy yourself. I have a feeling Karen has already arranged for me to have security around me at all time. So, I think if you are going to be around we should get to know each other."
"Okay, thank you." He took off his jacket and draped it over the back of the chair he was still wearing his gun and I could tell we all tried to divert our eyes. Max was a really good looking guy and was in great shape.
"So Max how old are you?"
"I just turned 24 last month."
"How did you get to be my security leader at such a young age?"
"Well, I have my degree in Criminal Justice and INS recruited me from school. I originally wanted to be a cop but my best options out off all the places that tried to recruit me was US Secret Service and INS. I was really excited about the Secret Service but they turned me down. I am not completely sure why they gave me some bullshit excuse about better candidates. I honestly think it's because I am openly gay."
I was shocked. "Your gay? I never would have known. Why didn't you say anything?"
"Like what? Hi, I am Max and I am in charge of your personal protection and by the way nice ass."
We all laughed. "I guess that would not have been very professional."
"No I figured it would come out eventually. But, I think that's why Karen assigned me. She figured there would be no problems with your lifestyle if I am in that lifestyle. Don't get me wrong, I was up for promotion anyway but I think this is the one time being gay has helped me."
Rick patted him on the back. "Well welcome to the family Max."
Cat laughed. "So about that addition on the house Dale?"
I chuckled. "Might not be a bad idea. Maybe do a pool house and gate house."