Dressed in business like clothes we four entered the lift to go to this management meeting, but my mind was on other things like Tom and Tan. I have to make time to see them or call them. Grant had come around early to drive us to the meeting and he apologized again and again for Stan's interference. I was getting agitated again because I didn't know whether Stan was a patsy for the ambassador or he was in on the deal. I couldn't say anything except I was over it and it won't happen again. I said that quite firmly. Grant also hinted he and Stan sat up half of last night reading all they could on my abduction.
"Don't believe everything you have read Grant. The media didn't get the story right all the way through. If you need to know the truth ask Conner, I'm not thinking or talking about it anymore, now let's go shock the shit out of Bobby.
"What's the deal Brent why the secrecy?"
"No secrecy Grant, just a meeting to update managers and a few staff members."
I smiled at him, I loved this guy and I prayed Stan would just leave it alone. I like him a lot but he really pissed me off in Bali. We left Ted with Grant in the staff kitchen, a chick magnet and the ladies were going gaga over him,Ted that is.
"Hi Bobby, homemade Amoretti biscuit?" John passed a rather large plate of those almond biscuits over to him.
"Bloody oath I will, yummy, did you make these?" He asked.
"Yes Bobby, try some."
"Your attention board members and guests, I ask the announcement I am about to make be kept quiet until it's confirmed later this afternoon. I have been in negotiations with Bayer America and they have made us a generous offer for our pharmaceutical business, the labs and the products. Ninety nine percent of the current staff will be kept on and employed by them. Some of you will have to sign new contracts, some will have to negotiate new wages but I assure you Bayer is more than willing to come to the party. I believe the good offer was received because of our research division, especially the cancer lab; they want our experimental drugs badly. Our generic drugs are the finest in the world and they need them also, so what I'm saying is there will be no change in your jobs only you will have to work with their scientists and pharmacists."
The initial moans were out of the way and Ray continued.
"Biscuit Bobby?" I shoved them back in front of him. He smiled and took a couple.
"The Go Ship transport company is not for sale. Its breaking away from the parent company and we are going to concentrate on it. Both John and I are going to semi-retire so we can spend more time with our family. Helen, my darling, you have a new office at Go Ship, we need you there. There are several others that will come with us. The new company management will be decided by the new board of directors."
He paused and drank some water.
"Have another Amoretti, Bobby."
He gave me a funny look and the blood drained from his face.
"Yes, I insist."
"You can't do this to me," he whispered.
"Have mine too Bobby and yes I can do this to you, you're part of Ray and John's family too."
"The new company will be run by the new general manager, Bobby, here but that will be discussed further at the first board meeting. Rob is now Operations Manager."
"No.!!" I thought I heard Bob yell.
"No he won't do it."
It was Adam who had slipped into the meeting unnoticed.
"Adam this doesn't concern you."
"It bloody well does Ray, he's not doing it, he's already spending too much time at work, I never see him."
"I think it's a great new job for him, the opportunities are boundless Adam," I said.
"Stay out of this Brenton Walsh, I bet it was your idea, he already works his bum off for this company."
"I'm hurt Adam, I didn't have anything to do with it, believe me."
"Now why don't I believe you, you've already got Bobby stitched up nicely but you're not getting my Rob," he insisted.
"We haven't stitched you up, have we Bobby?" I pushed the biscuits over to him but he shook his head.
"No Brent didn't stitch me up Adam, it is my decision to accept the job."
"Yeah Adam, high and mighty flight attendant, it is Bob's decision to take that general manager's job, not mine."
"Well I'll do the operations manager's job if Bob does the other, and Adam go home, you weren't invited."
"I'll give you go home Adam, Robert bloody Stevens, wait until I get you home."
The other members were just watching the show mostly with their mouths open.
"Have another biscuit Bob?"
"Adam, when I start the job I will see that Rob is home early every night so don't sweat it mate."
"You accept then? Biscuit?"
"Of course, I would be crazy not to, thanks I will."
He scoffed the bloody biscuit and I winked at Adam.
"Thank you," I mouthed.
"What the fuck just happened here?" Conner asked.
"Bobby and Rob took the jobs Con, all's good, Amoretti?"
I took some biscuits out to the tearoom where it was standing room only and they disappeared very quickly. The ladies know what a good cook John is so luckily I saved some for Bob to take home to my nephew and sister, maybe she will move closer to us now. Ted chomped on one and he had another in his hand.
"When you're finished baby do you want to go to the park and chase up some mates?"
"Yes daddy, cool."
Conner had to stay behind as the sale will be accepted today sometime and Ray will fax the signed contract of sale once the deposit hits the bank.
I think that's how it goes but not actually being in business, I am only guessing.
Bob cornered me on the way out; fuck he is handsome, if only. I refused to think of that night, it's something I'm not proud of and it's in the past, thank God.
"That was a set up wasn't it?"
"Don't know what you mean, a nice beach house would be good for Conner don't you think? Here are some biscuits for your family so don't eat them on the way home now will you?" I smirked and he slapped my back.
"She's going to hate this you know, Adam is right, I hardly get time for them."
"That's because the company is new, there's so much to set up but I did learn a great word from Adam last year, delegate Bob, delegate, the sooner the better."
He's not stupid; he will work something out to everyone's satisfaction.
I took Ted's hand and Conner who was still quietly trying to work out what happened, lifted him up and kissed him.
"I love you baby."
"Don't..." He didn't get a chance to get it out, Con kissed him on the mouth and Ted forgot what he was saying.
"Oh." Con feigned crying.
"Sorry daddy, here let me kiss you better."
He did and my heart skipped.
We pulled up at the park and Andy, Sean and Bubby were there and ready for a full on game of footy, Ted raced around the small oval showing how to play it Papua style, dirt and all. After he had exhausted himself Grant got his backpack from the car and Ted started giving the boys their presents, animal pencils, key rings, DVD's, shorts, t-shirts, assorted toys and a wallet each. They were stoked, there was a lot but he had kept quite a bit of it back to take to school for the other kids in his class and Mrs. Green. Andy got some aftershaves, four watches and six pairs of very nice sunglasses and we gave him a bag of stuff for Bubbie's mum and dad also.
We discussed the new job Sam now had. He was stoked with it and a much happier man now and I told Andy and Grant about the sale. I guess I can talk about it now things must be happening back at the office. I said to Andy a promotion might be in the wind and to make sure Sam impresses Rob over the next month or two.
He smiled and thanked me for that inside information.
Conner didn't arrive until after Ted had his bath but he wouldn't go to bed until Con had his dinner and a coffee. He asked for his story because he was very tired, another late night for my kid.
"Did it go through?" I asked and held my breath.
"Yes baby, smooth as silk. They really need the cancer research we have. It's very advanced and that alone is worth millions. It will all be over in a few months then we can concentrate on us and what we want to do."
"Is Bob okay?"
"What friggin happened in there Brent, it's still making my head spin?"
"Oh, Adam making a scene, John's biscuits and Rob's threat, I think Bobby said yes because he was as confused as you were. But at least it's on record now and when he thinks about it more, he won't renege." I laughed my head off.
"God you're good."
"Well it's a case of cause a diversion and the target will say anything to get you to shut up. I was really annoying him with the biscuit thing and he was intrigued as to what Adam and Rob were talking about. He said yes to shut me up."
Con laughed but I really think he didn't get it at all.
"Ready for your story ba...mate?"
"Daddy it's okay, we are alone," Ted said.
"Okay baby, sleepy time, so let's go get that book out."
He picked Ted up and walked him to his warm bed.
I readied myself for bed and Con came in after locking up, he stripped off and crawled in beside me.
"I love you."
I love you best."
"I love you the most."
"I love you even more."
Our dicks were rubbing together. I love it when that happens and I feel like I'm a part of him somehow, but no love making again tonight, we were very tired.
"You should get Ray to invest the money baby."
"What money Con?"
"The commission on the sale, you get it when the sales finalized."
"What fucking commission Conner?"
"It was your idea to sell it off and because of that you get the commission."
He drifted off but I sat up.
"Over my dead body Conner Richards."
"Done deal, goodnight baby, go to sleep."
Good night, good night, what the fuck, now I'm wide-awake, I wonder if Benny can play scrabble yet?
I sat at the table with Ted waiting for Conner to finish in the shower. I was tempted to go in with him but Ted was hungry. I am going to have a good talk to him before he heads out to Marty's office and I certainly am not going to accept any commission. I didn't do a bloody thing for it, free money my ass, not going to happen.
He tried to avoid it by talking about going over to the new company to look it over and wants Ted and I to pick him up around noon. Marty wanted to talk about the new album and Con has things to sign.
"It's not happening Conner. I won't accept it under any circumstances so don't harp on it."
"I know, I was only kidding baby, there's no commission on suggesting a plan." He smirked at me.
"Good cause I was awake most of the night making a shopping list for nothing then."
"Did you mention shopping?"
"No Conner, no K-mart."
I thought I would spend the morning transferring Con's Bali treasures upstairs. I really will miss the color it added to the display case and the endless smiles he has on his face when he looks through it. I packed away the crystal glasses and decanters Miss West put in it and took them upstairs. Then I brought the three boxes of Con's treasures down and placed them back in the case. Ted's Ipad also, everything is as it was. We can use the upstairs for storage until Ted turns twenty-one then he can live there. But seriously it will be good for Jen and Bob, a space of their own when they visit.
Con's Bali treasures were another problem, I looked around and the light bulb moment went off. I packed his Grammys into a carton and put them in the wardrobe then his Bali stuff went into the glassed front cabinet in the kitchen, there now that's what I call colorful.
Trying to get Ted away from his sports channel was murder. We had to go pick Con up for some reason so the cartoons were forgotten, maybe he's growing up?
"Come on baby we have to go pick daddy up."
"Okay daddy, can I watch the replay later?"
"Of course you can if not here then in your room."
"Okay will daddy be singing when we get there?"
"No baby, he's just doing some business with Uncle Marty."
"I like him to sing dad."
"So do I honey, he's very good at it."
"Let's go dad we be late."
Well I suppose I can't wait around all day talking, better go I suppose.
Marty was his welcoming self. Con didn't look pleased but he pulled Ted onto his lap and kissed his neck.
"So what have we here, one excited agent and one depressed star? me thinks there's money involved and some travel."
"Spot on Brent, with the release of the new album Conner has to tour to promote it. We have got as far as Australia only." Marty shook his head.
"I won't leave my family anymore Marty, capital cities only, three concerts each, if they sell out."
"Conner this album is good, very good,it's almost as good as your,'Rock on Loud,' album and needs to be promoted."
"Brent help." poor Con croaked out.
"He can't go away Uncle Marty."
"Why is that Ted?" I asked.
"Daddy, he can't do it, he has to read my bedtime story to me because that's what daddies are suppose to do."
"Teddy his songs are really good, he needs to tell his fans thank you for buying them."
"But he's my daddy now,it's different, he has to look after me,that's what Sean says."
"Marty we will talk about this later but I think you have my answer. I will do the videos but I won't tour the world, my son needs me, and I need him."
We all shook hands and Marty understood completely, I even think the money didn't matter to him anymore. His daughter needed him also; maybe he will come up with a better plan.
"Come on buddy, let's go see Uncle Bob, maybe it won't be as intense," Con said as he hugged Marty. Impossible situations arise every now and then but I am confident Con will see the answer. He is already missing out on some of Ted's growing up, these things you can't get back.
"Wow Con, this place is amazing," I said as we walked into the new office building, fully renovated, old but new offices.
"She's done a great job, what do you think baby?"
"It's big daddy, I could play footy in here."
"Good idea, I will buy Helen a football and she can play with you." Con laughed as he pushed the up button.
Two floors up we were confronted with a screaming baby who ran from his mummy's lap and straight towards Ted, he gave him a big hug then gurgled at Con.
"Up, up, up."
Conner picked him up and placed him on his hip. His little hands squashed his face as he moved in for a very sloppy baby kiss. He's growing, every time I see him, he's bigger. I leant over and got the same.
"Hi sis, long time no see, you look amazing, new hair do?"
"No brother and you know it, I've aged fifty years in two months thanks to your friend."
Conner bent over and kissed her cheek.
"Soon as I get back to earth."
"Good because we couldn't do this without you."
"Well Bob's around somewhere, Con lost his bloody ball on the way up so he's gone to look for it." She giggled.
"He's got bloody staff to do that Jen, no wonder he's so busy."
"Not at the moment Brent, Rob is still interviewing people, a lot of the Go Ship staff left after the takeover. They were the older ones that didn't like change and I don't blame them."
Conner flipped his phone and called someone. He walked over to the enormous windows that overlooked the wharves to the bridge.
"He's just fixing that now," I said to my sister.
A rather bedraggled Bob came in holding a brightly colored ball. Little Conner screamed again so Con put him on the floor and he ran over to it then he threw it to Ted who in turn kicked it to Con.
"She will be here in the morning Bob."
"Helen, you need organizing badly."
"I got Ray to sack her and then tell her about her awesome new job as your personal secretary."
"Oh sorry, you wanted some skinny airhead didn't you?" Con laughed.
"No, of course not. I just didn't think she was available yet that's all. I was hoping she would be on board soon."
"Well she doesn't do anything different there that she can't do here. Get her to chase balls, in no time she will have staff at her beck and call, she certainly wouldn't do it." Con kicked the ball softly to Conner who caught it. He tried to kick it to Ted but kept missing and his laughter was beautiful to hear. I wish I had known Ted at Conner's age.
"Is Rob about mate?"
"Yes he's doing interviews, I should be there to help him."
Conner gave him such a frustrated look and took his phone out again.
"Ray we need John over here to do interviews, can you sack him too?"
"Okay, can't sack the owner? Well can you spare him for a week, job interviews?"
"Sure, that would be great, thanks."
"Ray will get John to start interviewing for the new jobs. Get Rob to send him the list, anything else?"
"Yes one more, I need a tea lady."
"Bob you've got your own tea room."
"I know but I like Brent's coffee the best." He leered at me.
"No way, I've got a kid to raise."
"You come highly recommended."
"Friggin Adam, I'll kill him. I tell you what, I've got a pretty new coffee machine at home I don't really use, I'll send it over."
"You don't like my present baby?" Con's sad eyes appeared. I looked him in the eye and replied as tactfully as I could,
He chuckled then continued to play ball.
"See, it's pretty bloody easy Bob, just pick up the phone, delegate mate."
"I know Brent but I'm just not used to doing that, I'm more hands on."
"Not any more mate, no wonder you and Rob are chasing your asses, that's what Helen and Ray are for, use them."
"Okay, I will in the future."
"We can have a good talk about it tomorrow when I drop your machine off."
I sniffed at Conner.
We talked about the renovations and their new flat upstairs so they said they would make time to come over for a look see. After saying hello to Rob we started off to the park.
"Good afternoon Mr. Walsh, Mr. Richards, good to see your back again, how was your holiday?" Mrs. Green asked as she passed our way.
"Good to see you and yes we had an awesome time away, are you enjoying your break?"I was very pleasant to her although my insides knotted.
"Yes, well no rest for the wicked, I have to get to school. There's bookwork mounting up and it has to be cleared so not much of a holiday for me."
"You've got bloody staff to do that Mrs.Green, delegate," a little voice piped up.
My heart sank but Conner started to laugh, she grinned, I know she grinned.
"One hundred sentences Mr. Walsh, on my desk first day of school and you too Mr. Richards. I'm sure you might want to rethink your rock star language in the future. Have a nice day, Teddy, lovely to see you darling."
She almost skipped away, I knew she wanted to, I guess we have to talk to Ted again.
"We have to do it Con otherwise she might get Ted to."
"I'll get Ray to organize it then."
"No you have to do it, she will know, somehow she knows everything so don't piss her off."
"But my wrist is hurting."
"Stop whining Conner,just do it."
We were doing our homework early as Ted goes back to school next week and we don't want to forget it. Ted had to clean up his room for repeating the line. He lay on the bed fists tightened, his room is pretty clean.
Next I phoned Tom, he was sounding much better than the last time I saw him. He said the ride home wasn't as good as our jet but Tan had apologized and kissed him. They have been spending a lot of time at each other's places just getting to know each other better. Tan has some insecurity issues but they are working on them.
I told him I was very happy for him and if he ever needs to talk he knows where I am.
I didn't ask if they had done,'it'. He will tell me in his own time, as long as they have stopped fighting that's all I want.
A packet of potato chips and a movie with my man sitting on our new overstuffed couch tonight, turn the phones off and dim the lights.
Conner was still deep in thought so I switched the TV off.
"Penny for your thoughts Con."
"My career as a singer babe."
"Con you've done the world stage and made a shit load of money for yourself and Marty, the only obstacle is Teddy."
"You know I would follow you anywhere in the world Con but we can't drag Ted along. Not that he would be a problem at his age, we could home school him anywhere."
"His footy, his mates, Mrs. Green, little Conner, Hope; my life is so different than it was over a year ago, I love my life now, before, well I just existed."
"This is something you must decide on your own, otherwise, if all goes belly up, I will feel responsible."
He took a deep breath and looked to me for help.
"Okay you're doing the soundtrack for the Disney movie, your new album is being released as soon as the videos are done and that will hit at number one. You do the tour of our capital cities to satisfy your fans so why not do a video of the concert to be shown overseas?"
"But I will miss our boy and you so much."
"His bedtime story."
"I'll do it."
"It's not the same."
"What am I going to do?"
"Not worry about it for now Con, we both need to talk to Mary. We are obsessing over a little boy and it's not healthy, maybe she can find a solution for us."
"But he's so beautiful Brent."
"Of course he is, he's our son."
"So are you."
"And so are you my Con."
By this time I had him by the hair and was whisper kissing his face. I don't have an answer to this one but I can relax him.
I checked Ted before we went to bed, he was sleeping soundly and Ben was with him keeping him safe and warm. Con was behind me; he pulled me in and kissed my neck.
"This is what I'll miss," I said as I turned around and looked him in the eyes.
"Make beautiful music, do the concerts and come home to us, then we go from there, maybe you can write scores for movies, release albums online, I haven't got the answers Con, not this time."
Our foreheads touched, I felt so sad for my man. He is at the top but it's got to slow down soon, maybe sooner than we think, maybe a visit with Molly will help him?
I felt so mean; I could help everyone else except the one person that needs it the most.
"I want you to come with me on the Australian tour, both of you."
"Fuck Con what am I to do, this is killing me. I haven't got the answers baby but, well, leave it with me, there's one more avenue to try."
"Secret Con, secret."
Benny poked his head into the room; so I got up and checked Ted, he was sleeping. I guess Ben maybe thought we were eating potato chips or lollies.
The next morning I made a phone call after Con left for the studio and within an hour I was sitting in Mrs. Green's office while Ted played in the outer one. I handed her our homework, she chuckled.
"You enjoy this don't you?"
"Of course Mr. Walsh, I love the kids so I don't see why they should be punished for their parent's mistakes, don't you agree?"
"Agree, now I have something to discuss with you, it's important."
I went through Conner's predicament and the dates I thought his concerts would probably happen and asked if she could help us, she laughed.
"God, it's obvious you two have gotten yourselves into a real pickle with this one. Easy to see you're relatively new to all this parenting business. I have a solution but it will cost you two tickets to Rick Conner's Melbourne concert." She smiled.
"Go with him. As long as Teddy is here for the three rest days he won't miss much. In the meantime and I will get his teacher to give him homework to do while he's away. You're not the only parent that asks this question Brent so don't stress over Ted's education. He's not learning algebra just his numbers and letters." She was quite lovely; actually I could love this woman.
I thanked her fifty times for letting us do this. She said I had a guilty conscience; I got it from wagging school too much, we hugged I think she was right.
I rang Marty and told him to go ahead with the concerts and to make sure Di and Hope come too. I belted my boy in and drove to the studio.
The red light was off and Con was sitting at the microphone. He spotted us and motioned for us to sit down. The music started and Con began to sing his heart out. The song was beautiful and so full of love and emotion. His eyes were on us both as he put down another perfect track.
"You want to tell daddy our news baby?"
"You know the really good news about the homework."
"Oh yeah daddy, we are coming with you, I got homework to do but we can hang out too."
"Mrs. Green loved your homework so she's giving Ted Friday and Mondays off for five weeks."
"Really." I leaned in and kissed him.
"Well that's great news baby, I better ring Marty."
"He's already on to it."
"Fu.., cripes I love you." He kissed me again.
The papers were full of news on the sale of Ricon. The Greenies were having a go at the Government for not keeping Australian companies in Australia. The Prime Minister was replying with a simple,
"Well it's a privately owned company and the Government simply has nothing to do with its sale."
Back and forth, you know the deal, a lot of politics mostly designed to confuse the public. Lies and innuendo, that's all we heard and read. Although Conner's name had been well hidden, of course the papers got hold of the owner's names and Conner Richards was one of them. Once again our little world is dragged through the news mostly because a rock star doesn't usually own a big business. There were some pats on the back for Con but there was the usual crap too.
Luckily no one camped out front but when Con was out in public he was hounded, the only comment he made was,
He would smile for the camera but that was all and he wore the same clothes every day so all his photos looked the same.
Ted was back at school with his mates and he was a big hit with his class because he had presents for everybody, even a purse for his teacher. Mrs.Green was taken care of at lunchtime when he made a point to go see her; thank God he was on his best behavior. I had to go to the supermarket so Con decided in his wisdom to come with me. He couldn't stay locked up all day so after we dropped Ted off we headed there. It wasn't that busy. I had a list but oh no, we had only gone up one aisle and my trolley was looking quite full so I spent a lot of time asking Con to get something off a shelf and while his back was turned I started putting stuff back. The confectionary aisle was the worst. I would hate to be the poor bugger that had to clean up the shelves.
At the checkout Con looked at the groceries on the counter and looked around then started picking stuff up, I looked him in the eye.
"You really didn't think you would get away with it did you?"
He looked like a very naughty boy then grabbed some Mars bars and put them in the shopping cart, I let him have them.
He helped me put things away but all in the wrong places and he was doing that deliberately so that was it. I went up to Ted's room and took a plastic ruler off his desk and, armed and dangerous, I marched into my gorgeous kitchen and said,
"Hands out Mr. Richards."
"Because I said so that's why."
He put his palms out and I gave him six of the best.
"Don't ever come to the supermarket with me and don't touch my cupboards."
They weren't hard, just pats but he tried to pretend he was crying.
"Keep it up Con and you can sit in the naughty corner."
"What if I suck you off, will you feel better?"
I undid my fly.
"Try, it might help."
He did and it did help some.
We collected our kid who was with his mates playing circus performers as usual on the wire fence. Con walked across to get him and he jumped up into his arms, his first day at school was a no brainer, no homework and not much work done, only revision. With Grant in tow we headed to the park and while the footy kick-to-kick class was on, Con and I shared a Mars bar. Grant let the kids play on their own and sat with us.
"I've missed this."
"Yeah so have we Grant, it's great to be home."
"How did you go in Papua?"
"Was good, we had a pretty fun time, Manu has a lot of homeless kids living in his compound so Teddy got a lot of footy practice in, he wasn't bored at all."
"That's great Brent, he seemed like a nice type."
"He is Grant,it's a shame the Australian and Indonesian ambassadors hounded him out of the country."
"What do you mean Con?"
"Corruption Grant, you didn't really think Australia was hosting the talks, Rio Tinto have hefty contracts with PNG and they would be pretty pissed off if our government was involved in that scam."
"Stan doesn't know, he thinks he was helping the Government but he wasn't after all, oh shit."
Grant rubbed his forehead.
"Can I tell him?"
"Yes of course, Manu had no intention of signing the contract,he was there for a free holiday and we are just friends Grant, nothing more."
"Fuck this could have gone so bad for Stan, thank you for telling me."
"Well it was Manu that told us, he has spies everywhere."
I hoped that was the last of it, Stan can do what he likes with the information because I really don't care anymore.
As always I appreciate your emails. firstname.lastname@example.org