Adam and Rob were there and they only had eyes for each other; Conner slapped Adam on the back, "Shouldn't you be at work buddy?" he laughed.
"I could say the same to you boss but I don't think they will even let you in the joint looking like you do," he laughed back.
"Join us," Rob said.
"I see you and Conner are friends again," he nudged me.
Conner leaned over and said, "I love him, he's my boyfriend and a shy little thing he is too," smiling at me he kissed my cheek.
Adam screeched, "Awesome, how fucking awesome is that?" He laughed and we all high fived each other.
Ordering our light breakfast, Conner told Adam about getting rid of Steven.
"Oh boss, I'm so sad he's gone," he said looking into his plate like he had just lost his best friend. I felt awful.
Then he laughed and said, "Double fucking awesome, I hated that prick like no tomorrow, the pompous queen, I hope you don't give him a reference."
"No way man, he's up shit creek and if anybody rings they won't get a verbal one either. I've been trying to talk Brent into applying for the job, I reckon he would be ace at it," he fired back at Adam.
I thought, 'here it comes,' as Adam went quiet and got quite thoughtful.
He looked at me and said sincerely,
"Brent that's just so cool, I hope you are thinking about it. The plane was so boring with sourpuss Steven on it, we couldn't be ourselves and the guys in the band would be chuffed that Conner's friend would be on board. They talk a lot of shit but quite often they talk about personal stuff they don't want to get to the press, it's the same for the VIP's it's hired out for. I can't tell you enough what you being there would do, we could all relax a lot knowing our stories won't be leaked. It's an easy job, you dress casual most of the time and if there's serving to do, the boys and I always pitch in. Please, please think about it, Rob and I would love to join the mile high club in private." He blushed and looked at Rob who had a smirk on his face.
"That's of course if I get to fly anywhere soon," Rob smirked again.
"You will hon, you will, you're frequent flyer points are adding up," Adam said.
Wow that was a revelation, shit, what do I do now, I better think harder.
"Okay, he's thinking about it, there's no hurry as I can hire a temp to take up the slack," Connor read my mind.
We ate, exchanging jokes and stories, and the more I see Conner in this setting the more I love him. I was even watching the way he chewed his food, it was like he was on stage and a concert was happening in his mouth, I so wanted to join in.
Saying our goodbyes we walked back to the apartment building.
"You got everything you need babe?"
"Yes handsome, thank you for this, I can't even comprehend how much this is going to change my life."
Little did I know what the future held?
He handed me the keys as I looked for his car and he said,
"This one, the BMW."
I looked at the faded burgundy paint on the car in front of me that was at least twenty five years old, it's battered door and torn seats, then started to chuckle.
"This car I can drive."
I chuckled as I went and opened the driver's door then leant across to unlock his door.
He slid in and looked at me with the biggest grin on his face.
"She was my auntie's car and a dream to drive; you thought she might be a feisty new red car?"
I looked into his eyes; they held mine and I said, "Yep."
"Hell no, not in the neighborhood I live in."
He was right, it was a dream to drive, I followed his directions and got a park right out the front, a doorman opened his side and I locked it up.
"Good morning Mr. Conners, good to see you again."
"Good morning Dieter, it's good to be back, how's the family?"
"Great sir, all in good health and bleeding my bank account dry as usual," he chuckled.
Conner slipped a twenty into his hand and said, "Buy a lottery ticket Dieter, maybe your luck will change," he laughed.
We were escorted to the lift and he even pushed the button for us before winking at Conner and going back to his post. Connor was beaming, "He likes you, don't be fooled by his everyday approach, he's security, ex-army. "
Instantly he leant over and kissed me, I responded by pushing him away laughing, "Not here."
He looked sad then grabbed me again and said, "Why not? My lift, my rules."
I ignored that comment, as I don't want to know.
He then pulled my head around and kissed me again and this time I responded hungrily, my tongue was playing a tune in his mouth.
Conner's accountant was in his mid fifties, glasses sat on the tip of his nose and he looked the part perfectly, still pretty good looking and I could see he took care of himself body wise. He shook both our hands while his secretary took our orders for coffee which I might add was more like a ladies luncheon than just coffee, the cakes were amazing.
I handed over my accounts and he looked at them while Conner fed a macaroon to me.
"I love these things," he commented.
"Well I love them and I love you," he leant in.
"Conner, for gods sake not here," I flicked my eyes over to Mr. Prendergast the accountant.
He looked up at me and said,
"If I was thirty years younger young man, I would be all over you like a raging rash but I'm afraid my husband is the jealous type. I don't know how Conner stands it, I would have you tied to my bed or desk permanently."
I was gob smacked but giggled.
Conner kissed me again.
"Okay what do you want me to do Brent, these bills are not really that huge but I understand they are to you?" he smiled.
"I don't really know, I wanted to maybe combine them and repay at a lower interest rate, if that's at all possible."
"Can I speak honey?" Conner asked.
"Sure baby, you know more about this than me."
"Well Ray, how about we use my special account to clean them up and let's say no interest rate. Brent can direct deposit whatever he can spare once a month, that way we don't need a lot of red tape and the payment of the accounts would be instant."
"Okay Conner, very doable, Brent you happy with that?"
A tear almost fell from my eye and Ray handed me a tissue box.
"That's a yes Ray," Conner said smiling at me.
"Sorry guys but it's been a long struggle, thank you Conner," I smiled weakly.
"I've offered Brent the flight attendant job Ray, Stevens is gone, at last, "Conner said.
"Thank fucking Christ Conner, what took you so long?"
"I wanted to give him a chance to redeem himself Ray, you know me, I hate sacking people but he crossed the line badly on this one and I had to let him go."
"Well Brent, what's the answer because I can get the ball rolling ASAP on this and it would be awesome having you on board. We could gossip about our boss and you could tell us secret men's business. John my partner is good at those things and you will have a ball with him aboard, he's a good cook too."
I looked at Conner and my mouth was moving but no words would come forth.
"Babe you okay?"
"Yes," I got out.
I kissed his mouth and for some reason I will never understand myself said, "Yes, when do you want me to start?"
He was very quiet for a few seconds, his chest heaved and he let out a noisy throaty sound, swallowing deeply he looked into my eyes and I could see the wetness.
"Thank you, I could kiss your beautiful feet for saying that, I've been so worried about you and had just about exhausted my resources trying to find some way of being with you all the time."
He pulled himself closer and whispered in my ear, "I love you so very much, please stay with me for a very long, long time."
"I will my Conner but we still have to talk and thank you for offering me the job, it couldn't have come at a better time."
"It comes with a signing bonus of twenty five thousand," Ray said.
I looked at him like he was mad.
"The job Brent, it's not just an attendant's job, it's the company's image that's important and by the looks of you it will be in good hands and you both have to ring John and come for dinner soon, that's a must do, no arguments son."
Conner leant over and grabbed his backpack; he pulled out the Ipad box with my name still on it and put his fingers to my lips.
"You will need this for work, we need to be in touch twenty-four seven, compliments of your commander, welcome aboard," then he kissed me again.
I had accepted his generosity because I knew if he had to go overseas for months at a time I would just die and because I can't let that happen, I truly loved him.
I sat with Ray for the next hour and filled out employment forms while Connor chatted with the people working in the outer offices, he was very animated and did something I was amazed at, with perfect pitch he sang, 'Bring it on' to the various secretaries and mail couriers, someone had put a disc in the player.
I had moved from my seat to hear him better and when he was applauded he smiled at me and winked, he then lifted the platter of cakes off Ray's desk and handed them out.
"I've never seen him so happy Brent, keep it up, whatever your doing he deserves a bit of happiness," Ray whispered.
I wondered what he meant by that comment, but thought I would ask later, maybe I will ask Conner.
"I didn't want to take the job because I thought people would treat me like Conner's current fuck buddy instead of just me," I replied.
"No chance of that ever happening Brent, I'll give you a clue, the people Conner trusts call him Conner, the rest call him Rick, that's the way you will be able to tell who is your friend and who is your foe," Ray said out of Conner's earshot.
"Now, are you ready? I have to go by my place and get some clothes, I'm running out," Conner said.
"Okay, whereabouts in Prahran is your house?"
"Off Chapel Street, I'll direct you," he said smiling forever.
I groaned, boy have I fallen in head first.
"Conner you know I don't want all of this don't you?"
"Yes babe I do but I want so much for you to be a part of my life, I get so lonely on tour, hotel rooms are my pet hate. Now let me introduce you to Helen, she is the 'go to' person for you, each week she will email you the flight schedule and it will tell you how many customers on each flight, meals, drinks and such. You leave it up to Helen If there's anything you need out of the square, ring her and she will organize it for you. All you have to do is make sure the cleaners have done their jobs, put the food in the warmers, keep the beers cold and chat to the customers when they board and alight. There are no shifts over eight hours long but if there is, you may have a layover for a night but you are never booked into a cheap hotel," he smiled. "Is this too fast for you babe?"
"No Conner, sounds pretty easy to me and I think I'll cope," I laughed.
"Well there's also one other thing, when I fly which is a lot, you stay with me always, no argument," he said taking my hand and kissing it.
I thanked Ray, shaking his hand but he swatted it away and hugged me instead. All this was done behind closed doors and I noticed the office staff called him Rick or Mr. Conners only, while Ray called him Conner.
Helen is a big girl with a personality to match, she showed me a normal schedule then ran through the check list, but said on the weekend she would make time to go into more detail, if I would make myself available for a couple of hours. She said she will ring me and then she started putting appointments into my Ipad, I was going to be busy. She also said I would start training on Monday and it's six hours each workday for three weeks and because I already have a medical background they will just do a verbal and transport will be organized.
I thanked her. She made it sound pretty easy and there wasn't really much for me to do.
We drove for fifteen minutes through Richmond and across the Yarra River onto Chapel Street, a mecca of upmarket designer stores.
"We have to hit the shops too sometime, that's what the signing bonus is for and you must get some work clothes."
"Brent there is a uniform you have to wear when certain Government VIPs are flying but mostly you can wear upmarket jeans and shirts, casual stuff. A lot of the VIPs are designers, soap stars and rock stars so they are always preened to go out in public, they always look top class so in keeping with the company image you and the flight crew have to look special, like stand out. Of course the flight crew have uniforms by law but you don't have to," he chuckled.
"I insisted Steven wear his uniform all the time, it was my little gag on him."
"Am I doing the right thing Conner?"
"Of course babe, wait you'll see, and it will be so much fun. While I'm in town all you will be doing is flying from city to city with mail and maybe a movie star or politician or two, but when my European tour starts in September we will fly to Japan, London, France, Germany and I think Russia but I'm not sure yet, it's early days."
"Oh and when it's just me and you flying, the uniforms will be jockstraps," he laughed.
We pulled up outside a pretty normal single fronted cottage in one of the backstreets. We jumped out of the car and he unlocked the chain on the gate, then ten steps to the front door, opening it he took my arm and led me in first.
"Wow!" Was all I could get out, what a beautiful place.
Two bedrooms and bathroom on the left and a wide hallway led to a large kitchen, family room with large bi-folds opening to a small garden filled with flowering bushes. It was neat, compact and roomy all in one.
"This is great Conner and you lived here as a boy with your aunt?"
"Yes babe, this is where we lived and the council flats at the end of the street were my playgrounds, I have wonderful memories of growing up here." He looked far away as he fingered a beautifully framed photo on the sideboard, my guess it's a photo of his aunt.
"Okay enough of this, do you want to go shopping today or another time?"
"Maybe when the shock wears off Conner," I said as I leaned in and kissed him.
"Well Ray will have cards couriered out to your place tomorrow so we can do it after you get them."
"Cards?" I lifted my brow.
"Yes hon, your company credit card that you use to order emergency stuff and a personal card with your money and wages in it. I have to go into the studio tomorrow and I will probably be going in each day for the next three weeks but it's only to oversee the finished tracks and I'm going to be working on a special project while I'm there so we can find time to go shopping, if not, I can just ring Adam and he can go with you, he's got great taste."
"Do you want me to stay here?"
"No Brent, I like staying with you and I think we should get all that's happened today behind us so you can settle in a bit, I certainly don't want to change your whole lifestyle in one day. Maybe in a couple of weeks you might like to move in here and I get it baby, I really do you know," he kissed me again.
I stood looking at my boyfriend in awe then said, "Thank you."
He took my arm and whispered, "Wanna see my room?"
An hour later I dropped him at the studio, then went home.
The last official thing I did that day was ring Sally at the agency and tell her I was unavailable for work. She was thrilled I had got a permanent job; it was her dream to be a flight attendant, she was happy and by the throbbing of my ass, so was I, sort of.
I cooked us a casserole for dinner, Conner almost ate the plate as he loved home cooking and told me his favorite meal was roast lamb, a very staple meal of most Australians. I will work on it but it's been awhile since I cooked one.
That night Conner sang me some of his new songs then played the demo CD, they sounded so different.
"I made this for you today, it's all my hit songs sung the way I intended them to sound, but unfortunately or fortunately, my producer thinks differently."
He handed me a jewel case with two CDs in it so I placed the first one in; by the time I got to the fifth track I was leaking tears.
"Why don't you release these albums? I sure as hell would have bought one."
"Because those are Conner's, the ones in the stores are Ricks, they keep the wheels oiled."
"Well can't you release them as Rick Conners unplugged and call it 'Just Conner', you will sell a bomb?" I asked.
As he was about to answer, a loud clap of thunder exploded in our ears and we both jumped, it had been raining off and on all evening but I suppose we are now in for a drenching. Conner pulled his legs up under himself and grabbed a cushion; I could see he was uncomfortable.
"You don't like the thunder?"
"No Brent, I loathe it."
I moved to his side and put my arms around him, he was actually shaking like a leaf, he wasn't cold just frightened.
Taking his hand I walked him into the bedroom and laid him on the bed before hopping in myself then I pulled the blanket over us and we just cuddled.
During the night I awoke, the storm had gotten worse and Conner was nowhere to be seen so I pulled my underwear on and started searching for him, he was gone. When I returned to the bedroom to get dressed I heard whimpering, it was coming from the wardrobe. I opened it and found him; he was asleep but curled up in a ball making crying noises.
I sat on the floor next to him and just put my arm across his shoulders and he immediately stopped making the noises. Another clap of thunder woke him; wide eyed he didn't notice me but held on. After an hour the storm finally passed as sunrise was beginning.
He woke up and looked around and when he realized I was next to him he said, "Thank you."
He was exhausted so I got him up and back into bed, leaving him to sleep for a few hours.
I have seen this type of behavior several times before, in fact I was taught about this in my training. Several cups of coffee later and Conner appeared showered and looking like a rock god.
"Good morning babe," he kissed me and then poured coffee. "I've got a small gig to do this morning then the studio, I should be home around three and we can go shopping then if you like." His face was red and his hands shaking.
"That's fine baby, no arguments from this corner," I said as I took his hands across the table. "But maybe instead of shopping we can just sit here for awhile and talk about your abuse."
His eyes flicked from side to side, his hands unlocked mine and he darted around looking for his guitar.
"It's here babe and your backpack is next to the door but finish your breakfast first, please don't run."
"Who fucking told you, who have you been fucking talking too?"
"No one baby but I know I'm right." I was shocked at his reaction.
"I got to go, I'm late, see you later, it's none of your business." He was out the door before I could stand to hug him.
'God have I done the wrong thing? I know now he has had some sort of abuse in his past. I decided to look on the Internet for any clues but there was nothing, absolutely zilch. His history stated he was brought up in Prahran in the council building then moved to his aunt's place when he was six years old, there was nothing about his parents or his family. He attended Ripponlea primary school, then Prahran elementary and he left at the age of sixteen to pursue his singing career. There was no sign of anything out of the ordinary.
So I began to juggle my search, 'council flats Prahran boys abuse'.
I trolled through the stories and didn't see anything familiar. Wiping my eyes I made more coffee then I entered 'Conner abuse Prahran government housing'.
The third story down was about a small boy that was taken from the flats after being abused by his parents. He was locked in the hallway cupboard for days on end, his father would let him go to the toilet then put him back. When he was found by social workers he was half starved and in a catatonic state and had been sexually abused by the mother and father. There were no more details but the family name was Wilson, the name he originally had given me, Conner Wilson.
My heart was overflowing with pain and love for this little man, what chance did he have? Those cunts should have been burned alive. I got very angry but after a few moments there was a knock on the door. I rushed to answer it and there was a courier with a large envelope for me, my cards I suppose. It was, I signed for the package and placed it on the table.
Then I rang Adam, "Hi mate do you know where Conner is performing this morning?"
"Hi Brent, yes he's at the shelter till twelve, he teaches the kids how to play the guitar."
"Sorry mate we didn't have time to talk this morning, he sort of rushed out, which shelter?"
"Over in Prahran at St Matthews in High street, everything okay?"
"Yes sure mate, just wanted to catch him for a quick lunch, I will see you later and thanks."
I got a cab from the city to St Mathews hoping and praying the traffic would disappear, it seemed to take forever.
Walking around the side of the church I heard Conner singing 'Hallelujah' so I took a deep breath and opened the rectory door. Conner was sitting in the middle of about eight young boys of all ages ranging from five to sixteen, there was a priest sitting over to the side so instead of disturbing him I crept over and sat next to the Father.
I listened to his voice, it was crisp and full and the song was a favorite, Leonard Cohen, what a master songwriter and Conner did it justice as he sailed through the verses. When he finished, the boys hugged him one at a time and I could see tears in his and their eyes.
Conner looked up then and said,
"Excuse me for one minute guys."
He walked over to me, put his hand on my cheek and said,
"Thank you for coming Brent, Father can you tell him?"
"Conner I don't think it's appropriate, I don't know this man."
"Brent this is Father Thomas, Father Thomas this is Brent, now you know him."
We shook hands and Father said,
"The famous Brent hey? How much do you want me to tell Con?"
Conner looked at me, tears leapt from his eyes and he said,
"All of it." Then turned and went back to his small class.
Father sighed deeply then held my hand. "Follow me son."
He took me to a small office in the antechamber.
"Please sit Brent, I want to know how much you know about Conner's past first."
"Not a lot Father, I think he thinks someone told me but I assure you no one did. He was very agitated overnight when the thunder storm was overhead, I found him in the wardrobe shaking with fear, I'm a nurse and I have seen those signs before and more than once," I said.
He looked at me and nodded towards the door.
"So have I Brent, it's closer than you think, excuse me a minute."
He walked out the door and after a couple of minutes he came in nodding.
"Sorry Brent but I needed to talk to Conner, he said he thought it might be your training when he had cooled down, he also said for me to trust you."
"What I'm about to tell you, very few people know about. The people involved are already long dead. When we found Conner, I, God forbid, prayed he would die peacefully; he was suffering like no other child I had ever seen in my entire life. His eyes were already dead, his body slowly dying, his will to live had long deserted him. That poor little soul was so small, so lost and so alone.
For all his six years of life on this earth he was abused, mentally and physically by two drugged up people I wouldn't call human, they were both animals. If a neighbor hadn't heard a child screaming in the night, children's services would never had been called and he would have died in that closet. I was called to the flat to give him his last rites." He took a deep breath and my tears were pumping out of my sockets, I couldn't even begin, even as a nurse, to comprehend Conner's agony.
"You want me to stop?" he asked.
"No," my bottom lip quivered.
"He was admitted to the Alfred Hospital's Children's ward and after about a week or two he started, out of sheer desperation, to respond to medicines and the child psychologist that was seeing him every day. In the meantime, children's services had found his only living relative, his aunty Beth and it was revealed she was a nurse at the same hospital, working as a casual in the emergency department."
I gasped as the realization overcame me why we had connected so easily, my arms resting on my knees and hand covering my face, I was trying to pull myself together.
"I will stop there Brent, his story gets better but I will leave that for Conner to tell you."
"Those boys have been abused haven't they?"
"Yes Brent, in one way or the other, he gives them hope son and he let's himself be himself here. If he wants to cry, he cries and if he wants to get angry, he gets angry but he never does anything but encourage these lads, if he could, he would adopt all of them."
"I see, thank you Father," I said and shook his hand then wiped my eyes. Walking out there was only Conner, the boys had gone.