Never Give Up
Dan and I had grown closer, he was more attentive to me and I lapped it up. I still drove him to training and the games but we didn't linger too long at the bar, it was too crowded and I eventually had a word with the manager. He said they were going to extend it but with the money that was available, it won't be for another three years yet. I suggested he stop all the hangers on going there, the boys needed their space and the intention of having the bar in the first place was for them to wind down.
He agreed with me and said,
"Maybe it's a solution, there are too many public members going there now."
So I noticed the following week a sign had been erected, "Only players and their guests will be permitted entry to this bar", as a result the crowd was halved in no time. It was just like old times going there so Dan and I lingered longer and caught up with Matt and John, they were excited about the boutique and said all the boys were happy for me. I said,
"Well the boys automatically get a twenty five percent discount that includes all players."
I designed the shop setup with a minimum fuss and the office, tearoom and storage were nearly finished. Adam had moved with his chandeliers and venetian mirrors, my side looked like an industrial warehouse, it looked fabulous. They complimented themselves beautifully. My stock arrived and my first container load was unpacked.
The boys helped me price and organise the racks hanging from the ceiling. The shop was called simply "Cody Mitchell". I had an opening night and Adam invited a lot of his clientele to come, the till was operating and the sales were flowing like the champagne. Adam's girls and boys were busy also. I had a small parade with the boys in their suits and the press were there.
Jaques was in heaven and he bought some clothes. He said,
"Cody why haven't I seen these designs?"
"You did Jaques but you didn't take them, I tweaked the sketches and came up with these new ones for my shop."
He was so happy he couldn't stop laughing. When I was interviewed I mentioned Armani several times and how grateful I was to them.
My boys strutted their stuff, April and mum also did their bit but the highlight was Mr and Mrs L, they walked out and looked so natural and nervous everyone gave them a standing ovation. Not to be out done Mike appeared in his speedos and a tank top, he took the mike and said, "The underwear and swimwear collection is on the way", we all booed him off the small catwalk. He wiggled his bum as he left.
Everything was perfect, Dan and I drove home holding hands and he kept telling me how proud of me he was. I said to him,
"Dan when my underwear collection gets here I want to know if you will do the bikini shots."
He looked at me and said,
"No you don't Codes, get Mike to do them."
We made love forever and he got us off twice. We were just talking and groping each other not wanting sleep to part us. He reached over and pulled an envelope out of his drawer. He said happy six month anniversary Codes, I was floored.
"Dan you remembered?"
"Of course I did Codes, what sort of a boyfriend would I be if I forgot."
I pulled my drawer out and gave him his present. Now it was his turn to be stunned. I opened mine first, it was the title to a new penthouse apartment on the Brisbane river and had both our names on it. I looked at him quizzically and he said he had a great offer on his apartment that he'd accepted so he bought this property because of the security features and it's position, it looked straight up the river and out to sea and also because my grandfather had designed the building.
I cried and said,
"Dan you cant afford this."
He said he will only have to put very little towards it, he was getting a record amount for his apartment. So it didn't cost that much and anyway I had given him a four million dollar house on the beach therefore he wanted to do the same for me. I kissed him deeply and thanked him profusely and made him promise I could pay for the furnishings. He then opened his present, also an envelope with a very dirty mushy card inside from Surfer Dude.
"Two tickets to Spain." He said,
"Brush up on your English Dan we are off to Spain when the season is over, the people that were renting mum's villa had to return to America so we can go there anytime. There was a caretaker looking after it so we didn't have to worry about upkeep, my mum had virtually given us the villa."
He was so wrapped he hugged me to him and as he held me he stuck his finger in my bum.
I said, "I hope you don't mind Dan but I also got flights for your mum and dad, Mike, Luke and Jamie, they will be there for two weeks and us for three."
"Mum and Dad are going to be so happy Codes they haven't been anywhere."
I said, "Neither have we Dan but doing it this way we won't miss them and it gives them time to get passports organised."
His fingers were in me now and he moved on top of me, I put my legs around his waist he entered me and gently started to move, the sensations I was feeling were wonderful. I reached around and probed his tight ass and he came soon after. Exhausted, we were well spent, I wiped us off and spooned him, nothing was said, it was just us and everything was well.
In the morning the boys made us breakfast we gave them their airline tickets, they screamed and jumped up and down like school kids. I added that they were all inclusive, their jobs were covered and so was any food and shopping they wanted to do, they were stoked. They both would be on holidays about the time I set so no problems there. Armani sent me a big bunch of Irises, I looked at Dan and smiled, he said, "I know Codes, I never forgot."
"Boys can you take mum, dad and Mike's tickets to them so they can get started on their passports." Dan said.
"Sure Dan we leave after the game saturday so will do it then." Luke replied,
"So your not coming home?" He added.
"Not this time Luke, Dan and I just want to enjoy some time together", I said.
"Dan what do you want to do today?"
"Just chill out with you babe, maybe we can have a barbecue lunch and then go look at our new place."
"That would be great Dan."
I fell in love with the new apartment, it was beautifully designed and the views are unbelievable. I did ring mum to tell her about it and what Dan had done. She was so pleased, yes you guessed it, she owned the penthouse in the same block.
It's been rented by a computer recluse for the last few years. He doesn't seem to come out of his apartment at all and all his groceries are delivered.
The rest of the week was uneventful, I went to training with Dan and we hung around the bar for a couple of hours, the club was still on top of the ladder.
My next appointment was due to arrive, Maria Condorus.
I prepared coffee and italian biscuits for her arrival. I figured with a name like that she had to be Italian.
An old Peugeot ambled carefully up the driveway and into the yard. I watched as a small woman dressed in a floral dress emerged pulling her oversized handbag behind her.
Her hair was pulled back into a bun and she swept up a few strands and patted them down, took a deep breath and walked to the door.
I greeted her with a smile and bade her come in. We sat on the verandah because it was a lovely day and I fetched the coffee and biscuits.
"Now Maria what can I do for you today?"
"Well Mr Mitchell I would like you to design me a new dress, not for a special occasion but one I can wear if I have the need to."
"Okay, firstly it's Cody or my nickname Squirt, Mr Mitchell is too formal."
I started to sketch for her.
"Do you have any children Maria?" I enquired.
"Yes Mr Cody I have two beautiful boys, they are all grown up now and I am very proud of both of them. My husband is in the food business so the boys help him out."
"Mr Cody this house is magnificent, is it yours?"
"Yes Maria, it belongs to myself and my partner. My grandparents built it years ago and left it to my mum, she gave it to myself and Dan.
It has a two bedroom apartment downstairs where Dan's brother and his friend live.
"Oh, you have a big family", she said as she played with her handkerchief.
"Well not really Maria, I am an only child. My dad passed away a few years ago so there's only mum and me but Dan has two brothers, his parents live on a farm not far from here, they are hard, honest, working people not unlike yourself I am guessing?"
"His brother Luke and his partner Jamie live downstairs, James and I have been welcomed into Luke's family without question."
"Luke is going to university to become a doctor, James is also a top footballer but his interest is more in architecture, he's amazing at what he does. It's going to take both of them years to complete their studies."
"It must take a lot of money to do all that study."
"It does Maria but Dan and I have it covered, they will always have both of us looking out for them.
Jamie's parents are not in the picture anymore, for whatever, unknown reason they seem to have disowned him from what his brother was telling him. So we are looking out for him, he's a beautiful man with a wonderful heart."
I was watching her with a cautious smile, she gasped.
I was spot on with my suspicions.
"Well Maria this is your design however it's not completed yet, I want to think on it some more but I can tell you a story with what I have done so far.
I have designed for you an afternoon tea frock because I am guessing you don't go out at night much.
The colour is three shades of blue, they represent the three boys in your life. The lace represents the delicate balanced way you have lived your life, not upsetting anyone you come in contact with. It also means tradition that can't or won't be broken even if it means separation from the ones you love.
The pink cowl back represents your girls that were never born, they are with you in spirit and hug you constantly and the belt is the chain that links your large family together. If you look at the buckle detail it has hearts and crosses engraved on it and this represents God and his love for all of us, there is more to the story but it's not finished yet.
I will do the detailed designs tonight and make another appointment for you next week.
If you decide to go ahead with it you can go to my workroom or I can measure you here."
"Oh Cody, it's just beautiful and you described my life completely. I certainly will have it made maybe I will have a very special occasion to wear it."
"Maybe you will Maria."
I spilt my coffee down my t shirt.
"Oops, sorry Maria what a klutz I am."
I took another off the clothesline at the other end of the porch.
"Please excuse me while I change."
I took the stained shirt off facing away from her.
I heard a gasp and a loud sob.
When I turned around she was sitting there with her mouth open wanting but not wanting to say something.
"I apologise Maria, I should have gone inside."
"Oh no trouble Cody, what in gods name happened to you?"
I took a deep breath and said,
"I don't like to talk about it Maria but I will say just this. Someone who I thought loved me abused me and with the help of another man, they threw me through a plate glass window because they didn't like the dinner I provided for them and they were on drugs at the time"
"There's a lot more but that's all I can tell you. Please don't repeat what I have told you to anyone."
"My god who would treat another human like this, I can't even comprehend it, I'm so sorry Cody."
She hugged me hard.
I said to her, "When you go home Maria hug your boys and thank god they are safe and happy."
She looked worried as she twisted her handkerchief.
I said, "Maria can I make this easier for you?"
She looked up and said, "You know don't you?"
I said, I suspected she was Jamie's mother by the way she kept looking around for him.
"Yes I do know for sure now."
"I am so sorry Cody, I didn't want to deceive you but I had to see if my son was all right. This was the only way that I could think of to see him, he refuses to take our calls and I even wrote to him but the letter came back unopened, his father and I are so worried about him."
I replied, "Maria, Jamie's fine, between the three of us here, his team mates and Dan's family we have his back. There is no way on this earth we would let James be hurt, he is our family and we will protect him always because we all love him."
I added, "He was very upset you cancelled the luncheon some weeks back and you sent Gino to Dan's twenty first to drag him home. He misses his parents terribly but if you can't accept him the way it is, he's going to forge ahead with Luke who I might add is his soulmate. They are so deeply in love but Gino passed your message on to him that you didn't like his lifestyle or Luke."
"Oh my God Cody!! That's not true, I know nothing about these things you are saying."
"Then I want to hear your story because Maria I don't see a hateful bigot in front of me, all I see is a loving mother."
"We were looking forward to meeting you and Dan but Gino said he called and cancelled the luncheon. Had we known we would have come to Dan's twenty first but I swear on my dear mother's grave we didn't receive an invitation."
I said, "Well I think Gino has some explaining to do, don't you think?"
"He certainly does Cody, I know he's not happy that Jamie is gay but we are okay with it. We were disappointed of course, you must understand that but we fell in love with Luke that day at our place, he's such a lovely boy. We have come to terms with Jamie's choices, we are not the average Italian family Cody we have moved with the times. We see so much love and also unhappiness in the shop we see it as our duty to talk with the customers, much like you are talking to me today. My sons are my life and I have to speak with Jamie and explain we didn't know what was going on."
I said, "Well he will be here in about an hour and if you want you can wait, I could finish you detail drawings while you do. Of course Maria there will be no charge for this dress you are family and I don't charge family."
"Cody thank you but I have some money put aside for something frivolous for me."
"Okay then here's what you do, I will have your dress made and you and Mr Rosano could take Jamie and Luke to a nice restaurant one lunchtime, your shout and you can show off your new dress, is that frivolous enough?"
She laughed and agreed then she asked to use the phone as she had to ring her husband Stefano. She would explain and tell him she would be late for the shop and ask if he could have a talk with Gino.
"That boy is going to apologise to you all and then we will see what he was thinking about. He's usually a good boy so this is so out of character Cody."
"Well he was removed from this property the day of the party Maria, he was pretty full on about you wanting Jamie home to ask the Church's forgiveness."
"Ah that may be the answer Cody, he goes to a different church than us, we don't like it there, the priest seems too much against everything good in the world, we don't like him. But Gino goes there all the time, maybe he's too involved anyway, I will talk to his father."
"Okay you use the phone, I will make fresh coffee and finish my work, measure you up and get this outfit sorted.
I went to the kitchen then got started on the detail drawings.
When she came back she told me that Stefano was going to speak with Gino tonight. She said he was very upset and told her to take her time.
The bell rang and Jamie and Luke bounded up the stairs.
"Mum! why are you here, has something happened to dad?" Jamie said.
"No Jimmy, your dad's fine. I am here because I love and miss my son and I missed Luke also. I'm having a dress made by Mr Cody and he was telling me some interesting things about Gino. Please son don't think we sent him, he's been playing games with you and your father is going to sort it out tonight. Come here and give your momma a hug I've missed you so much."
Jamie started crying, he hugged his mum tenderly so did Luke. I said,
"Why don't you all go onto the porch and talk, I'll bring fresh coffee."
Dan arrived. He said,
"Who's that lady out there?"
"Jamie's mum Dan, seems Gino's been doing some shit stirring."
We had a great night and laughed at Maria's stories about her sons. Jamie asked about the pizza cafe and she said he was missed by everyone, they both had no idea why he quit but his father has been putting money aside every week hoping you would return.
"Did you receive a letter from me and your Poppa?"
Jamie replied, "No mum."
"Well something else to add to Gino's list of wrongs."
"Momma you know that I wouldn't return any communication from you and Poppa that would be so disrespectful."
"We were hurt but now I know the truth."
The boys showed her their apartment and she was truly happy for them.
She hugged me goodbye and said, "I am sorry I intruded but he's my son, I had to do something."
"That's quite all right Maria I understand, I nearly was at the point of coming to you and Stefano and I would have once I found the time."
"Don't ever be afraid of us Cody, I know I will learn to love you and Dan as much as my boys."
The season was full on and the following saturday we headed for Sydney. Dan had booked us into the Hilton for a treat, James and Luke had a room down the hall to us. The game was a loss for us but the boys held their own and didn't lose by much. We all met at the bar and everyone was down but tried to have a good time. As usual the papers were there and lots of photos were taken as we arrived.
Jamie and Luke were talking with Larry and April, they seemed to be in good spirits and after awhile they made their excuses and left for their room. Dan and I only stayed a further ten minutes, said our goodnights to everyone and headed for our room. We came across a very upset Jamie, he was alone and pacing up and down the corridor.
"What's the matter James?"
"Fuck Cody, Dan there was a photographer in the hall when we got out of the lift, he snapped a photo of us holding hands. Luke took after him down the fire escape, he told me to stay here."
I said, "Dan take Jamie to his room and I'll go find Luke."
I ran down the fire escape about three floors down and saw Luke sitting on a step.
"I couldn't catch him Cody, he was too fast."
"Okay Luke no problem, let's get you home."
"I told Jamie to stay there, it could have got nasty actually, apart from thinking of smashing his camera I really didn't have a plan." He laughed.
"Well you did your best Luke, don't worry about it, the photo may not show anything."
We returned to the room and I ordered coffee for us all. Jamie was a bit upset but I assured him that all would be fine and not to worry." After all you were only holding hands and it may not be clear."
We heard a knock on the door.
"Wow, that was quick." Dan said.
I opened it and there was a nice looking young man standing there, he had security tags pinned to his jacket.
"Is Mr Lawrence and Mr Rosano here sir?"
I bid him to come in.
He said his name was Harry and he was head security guard on the night shift.
He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a micro chip and said.
"I believe that what you are looking for is on this photo chip Mr Lawrence."
He handed it to Luke who was dumbstruck.
"We observed the photographer outside the lift on the security camera so we dispatched two men to intercept him as he alighted the stair well", he told us.
"After a very persuasive conversation with the police, he decided to do the right thing and hand it over."
"Sir, we at the Hilton pride ourselves in keeping our guests safe and secure and we apologise for this error. The photographer slipped through our ranks, he was trespassing and harassing our honoured guests so when we pointed out to him what he did was illegal, he agreed with us and handed over the photograph."
The waiter came with our coffee and we invited Harry to stay but he had to return to work. All's well again but it could have been worse so we had to come up with a plan for the future. Dan was all for calling the papers and outing himself there and then but Jamie was a little upset with that idea.
When we got back into our room Dan couldn't get me into bed soon enough, he was so horny he didn't wait to even take his top off or to get his usual massage, we were all over each other.
The next day we flew home and there was a small piece in the sport pages about the hand holding incident but no names were mentioned.
It was good to be back in my own bed. We rang Dan's mum and then my mum to let them know we were home safe. Mike was coming for a visit and he asked if he could invite Debs over on sunday, they had hit it off at Dan's party and had kept in touch. Of course that was more than okay.
Dan went off with Jamie to do a TV segment then a photo shoot for a footy magazine. I didn't have much to do so I sat on the porch with my sketch book and started to do some work. It was going great and I was enjoying the sun when something shone in my eyes so I looked up and spied a boat anchored off the beach about a half mile out, I thought maybe it's one of the neighbours out fishing but I could see two men in the boat, they looked like they were just waiting for something.
I went inside and looked into the telescope that was set up in the family room, I saw the two men, they had video and cameras set up in the boat. Oh my god, they were spying on us. I grabbed my phone and rang Dan.
"What do I do Dan it's obvious that they are spying on us."
He said, "Leave it to me Squirt, I'll ring you back."
Within ten minutes the Coast Guard arrived and moved them on.
I rang Dan back and said, "All sorted Dan thank you, I miss you babe when are you coming home?"
He said, "We are nearly finished here so we will be home within the hour."
We reluctantly said our goodbyes and I went back to my sketching.
I had taken Dan's suggestion and dropped back to three customers a week.
The store was going good guns and I already had my next container organised.
We all sat on the porch for dinner, it was another magic night.
Well the shit hit the fan the next day when I opened the paper, there was a half page photo of Codes sitting on the porch no shirt on and his notebook in hand.
The headline read, "Top designer shows his battle scars."
The story was about his beatings by his drugged up flatmate and dealer. It was only half a story, part truth part fantasy.
I closed the paper and took it into the den where I read it through.
The photo showed off Squirts many scars, the other photo showed a close up of the one on his leg.
The phone rang and I ran to the sunroom and grabbed it before Codes could pick it up, it was his mum.
"Dan I am reading the paper, is Cody okay?"
"At the moment yes mum but I haven't shown it to him yet, he doesn't know."
"Okay Dan, I won't trouble you but please let me know if you want me to come over, good luck, I love you."
"Love you too mum, I will be in touch."
I pulled the phone out of the socket then went from room to room and did the other three. I spied his mobile on the bench and shut it off.
Cody was doing some washing from the weekend, I rang the bell and went downstairs to talk to Luke.
They had just got up so were still in their underwear I said,
"Guys I think Cody's going to need us today more than ever."
I showed them the two pages I had taken from the paper they read it and sighed,
"Who the hell has been talking to the papers Dan, this is only a bit of the story but the rest is crap."
"I take it you haven't told Codes yet?" said Jamie.
"No", I replied. "I don't know how to fucking start to tell him, this will rock him, guys I need you to stay close to the house today, I may need back up."
"Sure no problem Dan we only have some study to do so will be in all day."
"Okay", I said. "Wish me luck."
They both hugged me and I went back upstairs.
"Good morning my beautiful boy, what you been doin?" I said.
"Hi gorgeous hunk, been washing your manly knickers", he replied.
"Well I hope you haven't been sniffing them Codes, they get a bit rank on the field."
"Codes can we have coffee and chill on the porch for awhile, there's something I have to talk with you about."
"Sure Dan I'll bring it out."
When we settled I pulled him onto my lap and stroked him, he only had his shorts on so my mind wasn't on the job at hand, I quickly snapped out of it and said,
"Codes there's something that's happened and we need to discuss it but I really don't know where to start only that I adore you and love you so much everyday is a bonus to wake up next to you."
"Dan are you dumping me?"
"No Codes be serious, I'd never do that to you, I'm just trying to tell you something but I really can't just blurt it out."
"Oh that's okay Dan I thought you were dumping me for that wimpy school boy."
"Codes it's serious, I need to tell you something." He cut me off,
"I already know Dan."
"What you know? No you don't Codes not this."
"Yes I do Dan and I even know who leaked part of my story to the newspapers."
"Dan I already skimmed through the newspaper earlier, you were sound asleep and I thought I would get a head start with the washing. Most of the story is bullshit, you know that Dan. The photos were from yesterday I will be more careful in future."
"And your good with this?"
"Dan of course I'm not good with it being plastered all over the news, but what's done is done I can't change it. I am furious with Jamie's mum and more mad at his brother."
"What? what have they got to do with it?"
He told me what he had done in front of Maria and thought she must have in some way told Stefano, maybe that rat Gino overheard them talking. But the story I told is the same as the one in the paper, so it had to be him. It wasn't the true story, I had told Maria just the one that was printed. Put two and two together Dan, I got Gino, bingo."
I rang the bell and the boys were there in seconds fawning over Codes.