Never Give Up
We managed an hour to ourselves during the day and made love on the lounge room floor, only because my shorts accidentally fell down in the kitchen while I was toasting a sandwich. Dan was nearby to help me out of them.
I had organized Karen and Will to meet Rory and I at the farm on Saturday., The team was playing Sunday, this week, so we couldn't stay the night but could stay for dinner.
Mum looked good and Rob was his quiet self, Mike hugged me and kissed my cheek and he held Dan a little longer than usual. Luke's illness really threw him but he's nearly back to normal.
The boys, Peter and Barry, finally had got away for a few days and went to the Gold Coast to do the fun parks; something they regularly tried to do with Rory and Bobby.
Will and Karen arrived and we talked around mum's kitchen table.
They had been to see the legal guys and got that sorted. Will had decided to call his label Willz.
I like it.
That all sorted, we spoke at length about Armani's designs and he passed me back a very thick folder with the details attached. This kid was good.
His Nan would handle any business involving money until he was eighteen, but he had the last word. We handed him another fifteen drawings and said he should add them to his personal range then add the accessories to it when he's more cashed up.
"Let's start easy," I said.
"This will be your part of the rent, we will start with three stores initially or you can open you own store if you want, you have options."
"Can I just go with your first suggestion, this is really out of my league Cody."
"Sure you can, we will look after your staff and your accountant will look after your money, your nan will make sure everything is on the up and up."
He let out a big breath.
"All you have to do is design more stunning items and count your money Will, it's easy," Rory giggled.
"Now Karen, he will initially have quite a bit of money in the account. Enough for you to pay your mortgage off and if Will and you agree, he can move down with us and go to the local high school until he can get into a trade school or arts course. It's a great school, Dan and Cody's son and our adopted nephew Donny go there. It's a very progressive school and bullying isn't tolerated under any circumstances. Will can live with Bobby and me on the beach, Cody and Dan live next door and Donny and his dad live the other side. We won't charge rent because he's going to keep his room tidy." Rory smiled at Will whose face had lit up and his tears started. Mum came over and put her arms around his shoulders; she rocked him and kissed his head.
He held her hand along with his Nan's.
"Can I Nan? Can I go live with Rory till the end of the year? I will be good and come home on the weekends," he pleaded.
"He will be protected at your place Rory and at school?"
"Oh yes Karen, more than that, he will find friends there that will treat him very well. Two boys who live next door are dying to meet this child genius," Rory answered.
"He will be walking down the beach to and from school with them everyday except Friday when Donny drives them there. Nothing is going to happen to him, I promise you that," I said.
"He means it too, Karen, and I've still got a shotgun if there's any trouble," mum laughed.
"I love this woman," I said as I jumped up and hugged her.
"Karen, I need to talk to you privately when we finish, there's something you need to know about us," I said.
"No, you don't have to put any labels on anything Cody Mitchell, I trust you both to look out for Will and that's all I need to know for now. If you're going out clubbing anytime soon please, please take me, I miss my fag hag days."
Mum and Karen slapped hands.
"I'm with you Karen," mum said giggling.
She shocked us but boy was she ever welcome to our little family. I hugged her and said,
"We don't club but we do have some great beach parties and if you're really good, I might invite you down to watch the Brisbane Bombers, train on our beach, on Sundays.
Will's eyes lit up.
"You can sit and watch too Will and maybe Mel would like to come for a look," Rory said.
"Truly?" he said his voice breaking into a deep tone.
"Of course she can come visit, there's plenty of room," Rory smiled. We collected bank account numbers and I promised his cheque would be in the bank by the end of the week.
Lunch was an easy barbecue then we said our goodbyes to them. I would get his transfer to Tim's school started on Monday and by the following weekend he will move into Rory's, god help him.
You all know there's a 'no sex before the game' rule but don't tell anyone we don't adhere to it ever, never did, never will. So Dan and I decided to go for a walk when we got home. We went via the tea trees and, unfortunately, I got stuck in the fork of a tree. While Dan tried to pull me out, he had unconsciously pulled my pants down; well he couldn't resist the inviting bubble butt. Sorry coach whoops.
"That was nice tonight Codes, I liked it a lot."
"Did you Dan? Well we must do it again soon," I replied.
"How's your speech writing coming along Dan?"
"What speech writing?"
"For your tour Dan,don't you have to write something?"
"Do I Squirt?"
"Yes Dan, you have to be fully prepared."
"Well, when you write it Codes, I'll memorize it, okay?"
"Okay baby, just sit back and enjoy the ride, Codes has it sorted," I giggled to myself. He's not as dumb as you think he is, there's no way he hadn't thought out what this will mean to him. I just hope he doesn't get too involved with the subject matter, it affects his mental state.
"Codes, I was thinking the three of us would just talk about self esteem and standing up for yourself. Bullies are usually just scared little people with many problems of their own, either at school or at home."
"That's a great start Dan, maybe April can help you."
"Yeah Codes, I've got Tom onto it, then all three of us can talk about how we need to do this. My manager can talk to the education department and we probably can start next month."
"You'll be away a lot Dan, can you handle that?"
"Well that's why I got the boys involved, we won't be doing it together, we will be separate so we can take turns doing the talks as long as we all know what we are doing."
"See, you have thought it out thoroughly Dan."
"Of course Squirt, I'm not silly."
"That you aren't Dan, that you aren't."
Karen met me at the school the following Monday and within two hours, all Will's files were transferred, his classes organized and he would start his new school the following week. He rang that night to thank me and to say he had finished the detailing, god this kid was quick.
He arrived at Rory's on the Saturday with Mel in tow, helping with his stuff. Rory had bought another desk and file cabinet and made room in his office for Will to do his business. Karen and Mel stayed the night and while we worked with Bobby on the color chart the girls watched the boys train from the front steps.
My boys gave them both a good show, they loved an audience. Cam and Donny made a fuss of Mel and me thinks Cam was a little smitten with her, his dreadlocks were standing to attention.
Watch out Will, you have the looks but not the body.
Timmy and Donny took Will under their wings on his first day at his new school. They introduced him to their many friends and made sure he was warmly welcomed. Walking home that afternoon Will was on top of the world. Rory phoned me later and said he talked non-stop about all the cool kids at school.
"See you later dads, I'm meeting Donny at Uncle Rory's, we are helping Will with his homework, then I'm going to Don's for the night," he kissed us both.
"Hang about baby, we need to talk to you," I said.
"What's up dad?"
"Does Will know you are a couple?"
"Yes dad, no secrets, he's not going to say anything at school, he's quite cool actually. He was a bit shocked at first, we told him on the way to school this morning."
"Okay, do you think he is?"
"He never said dad but he was looking at Becky a lot at lunchtime," he giggled.
"Good then, it's just we don't want anything to complicate your friendships, that's all, "Dan said.
"Nah dad, everything's cool, you will soon know if it's not, Donny will see to that," he laughed.
"Have a good night son."
We then kissed him and he jogged down the beach.
"Well we got the night to ourselves Codes, do you want to fool around?" Dan said as he did his wiggly thing.
"Yeah, sure stud, I want to ring Karen then I'm all yours."
I rang her and told her everything was cool and what was happening tonight. She was stoked and of course thanked me.
"Now Dan, I'm all yours."
And I was for the next hour or so.
"You awake Codes?"
"Yes Dan, was just dropping off."
"Oh sorry but I got a question for you."
"What is it Dan?"
"Can you not scream so loud when we make love?"
"Well you did scream 'Superman fuck me' and everybody heard you, it's embarrassing."
"Dan that was fucking eight or more weeks ago eight fucking weeks."
"Well I just thought about it and was wondering,that's all."
"Oh for god's sake Dan, go to sleep."
"That's a no then?"
I ignored my big lug.
"Codes you still awake?"
"If I go out onto the beach can you scream 'fuck me Dan' and I will see if I can hear you?"
"No Dan, goodnight, I love you."
Giggling and laughter isn't what I wanted to hear from Dan before I go to sleep but it went on and on.
"Codes I love you."
"Umm," I said almost sneering.
The weeks went by and my world settled down again, it was nice to just sit and be with friends and family. Will's orders were in and labels done, Tim had told a few of the kids at school and the word got around, everyone was just as excited as we were to see his drawings come to life.
He was a very happy puppy when he looked at his bank balance, which I think he did quite often. He was even getting right into the football and quite often Karen and Mel came down for the weekend, just to go to the footy with us.
Dan was beautiful on that oval, his short curls glistened in the winter sun and his muscles were pumped to the limit. Many banners with his name and number on them dotted the ground, it happened gradually, ever so slowly but by the third month, Donny's banners started appearing and home made signs with 'Go Bluey, Dynamite Donny' and assorted other affectionate nicknames. They stood out because most of them were painted in orange for obvious reasons.
He was becoming a star and kicking ass all over the game. He outran, out marked and out rumbled with the best of opponents. Today wasn't any different, the coach played him more and more and it won't be long before he's played a full four quarters.
There was something else I noticed on this particular day, it was in the morning when they had come out for breakfast, I couldn't put my finger on it but Tim looked different, a bit glowing, a bit grown up, a lot more mature.
He was helping me in the kitchen when it dawned on me. I smiled at him.
"What's up dad?"
I just pulled him into my neck and hugged him, kissing his forehead.
"Are you okay baby?"
"Sure dad, I'm good," he sighed.
"Well if you want to talk about it, let me know," I whispered.
"I will dad, thanks," he kissed my lips.
That was all we said, he knew I could tell he had given it up last night. It was a special time for me and him in that kitchen. My baby was all grown up and adult like just overnight. I mused at the thought of Dan's first time. He walked around in a dreamy state all day and so did Donny.
Dan asked if something was going on, I said quietly out of earshot.
"Your son gave it up last night."
"Oh, that's what I'm missing. This place is full of the afterglow this morning," he giggled.
I kissed him and later that morning I spied him hugging Tim.
Donny of course was a man and he showed Tim what a man he was by fetching and waiting on his every whim, until they had to part.
"What are you thinking about dad, you're far away?"
"Oh, just how much I love your dad Tim, he looks so beautiful out there."
"He does dad but my Donny's better."
"He is son and he's getting better and better everyday," I mused.
"You fucking ass wipe," Tim shouted.
"That idiot just elbowed Donny in the ribs so hard I think he's broken them."
I laughed so hard I had to go pee but while I was there I missed one of Dan's amazing goals.
Matty and John were coming to dinner that night and Luke of course was making pasta, a bucket load. I noticed Dan was limping a little and made him put his elastic sock on which makes it less uncomfortable for him.
He was one of many Australian footballers that play with injuries that can't be fixed. These men are the silent few who don't complain and they don't let it get to them, Dan was one of these men. I knew he was in much more pain than he let on and I know as soon as he stops playing he will need a reconstruction operation that will ease that pain, but in doing so he won't be able to sustain that work on the field. He has to retire to live a life pain free and of course his exercise regime will be limited to the gym and swimming. No running flat out on the beach which we both love each morning and some nights.
I had been toying with an idea for months now and tonight I would pitch my plan to the boys once I've fed them, they are so much more pliable when they are full.
The food was great and everyone was there except Bobby, Rory and Will. They had driven up to Surfers Paradise for the night. They are staying at Sea World and will show Will around there tomorrow; another fun park.
The boys were talking about the speaker's circuit. "Well I need Jamie home every night, he can't stay over anywhere," Luke, dare I say it, whined.
Matty laughed and said it was a great plan and it would be a lot of fun.
"Well I for one am a bit against it, part time yes but not full time. Maybe a video is possible, somebody's got to look after the gym, it won't run itself," I said.
The table went quiet.
"What gym Squirt? we don't own a gym," Dan said.
"Not yet but my suggestion is the four of you put in an X amount and start one in town, you can call it the 'Daniel Lawrence Fitness Centre'."
"Squirt, are you kidding us?" Tom chimed in.
"No," I replied.
"What the fuck are you on about Squirt. Sometimes you just don't make any sense at all," Dan barked at me.
"Sorry Dan,but did you just bark at me then?"
"Umm no, umm yes, umm sorry Codes, but what's this all about?"
"Well you already know Dan, five months ago, remember? We discussed what you can and can't do with your retirement?" I said smiling.
"Sort of Squirt but we've been talking about it for ages now."
"Well do you remember when you said, 'I'll leave it up to you Squirt'," I said in my deepest voice.
"No, but go on," Dan said looking suspiciously.
"Well, I've been working on this for five months now and I think this is what you need to do." I placed a stack of papers on the table then handed one each to Dan, Tom, Jamie, Matt and John.
"You don't get one Luke, you are already too busy," I chuckled.
They picked up the business plans and started to read them.
"Drinks anyone?" I smirked.
"I'll help Dad," said Tim.
In the kitchen he helped me get the coffee and a couple of beers ready.
"What's going on dad?"
"Oh nuthin really Tim, I'm just pointing the boys in the right direction. Think about it, there isn't a good gym this side of the club rooms and there's at least six hundred thousand people in town and the outlying areas and kids of today like to get a bit pumped up for their ladies. A thousand members at three hundred bucks a quarter, you do the math," I rolled off my tongue.
"Fuck dad, that's a fortune a year in memberships alone."
"Correct my son and don't swear," I giggled.
"That's only a conservative estimate son, the big money will come in through the pool and restaurant plus the events room, oh and I forgot shops," I smiled.
"Dad what have you done."
"Come on, let's go out so your dad can apologize," I grinned.
We served the drinks to the boys and I sat with Dan.
"You okay baby, you don't look so good?"
He gave me a silly look, leant over and kissed me.
John said, "Fuck Squirt, there's been a lot of work done with this and before you ask, we are in one hundred percent."
"Us too," said Tom.
Jamie looked at Luke who smiled.
"You are an amazing brother Codes, this is so sweet, our own club," Jamie said, "We are in."
"What do you think Dan?" I asked.
"I'm sorry Codes, I remember now but I forgot and this is just fantastic."
I winked at Tim. He giggled.
"Explain it to me Codes," he kissed my lips, I of course moaned more for show, well, not really.
"Well, there's a big company that is going to build a big shopping mall on the block of land the other side of the charity centre, now the plans are in that prospectus, you guys lease the larger part for the gym and pool with a canteen which you can sub-lease out to the charity, that will give them more income and the older kids can get some work experience."
"I should imagine Donny and Tim would look good in speedos, running the pool," I chuckled at Tim's frown.
"You and Tom can run the gym with Matt, John and James, just think, personal trainers. When it's up and making money you get a liquor and entertainment license for the large reception rooms, I know someone that can do that job and if she can't, then I will do it with Trent, who will be in the office mostly working on advertising and websites," I paused.
"This is all just theory for the moment Dan but it's worth an accountant like Johnno to look at the figures, don't you think? I'm sure the leases won't be much to start with and I'm also sure Jamie can come up with something stunning. We all get free exercise and baby it's a win, win situation, don't you think?"
"Fuck me Codes, you are soo good," Tom said.
"Why thank you Tom, you may want to think about handing over the reigns to Connie at the charity, perhaps you may be too busy with all that personal training stuff for da ladies and men," Luke laughed.
"Over my dead body Codes and don't you even think about it Tom," Trent said, holding Tom's hand tightly.
"Also, there's another consideration I want to put to you, we are all family and I would like you to invite Larry and April, Larry's a mate and he will be retiring in a year or so anyway.
Everyone at the table agreed.
"Tim and Donny, there will probably be part time jobs there for you both. Donny you're nearly eighteen and you have to get your lifesaver's certificate. I'm just thinking out loud, we have to utilize your best assets but we can ease into the events side of it as you settle in, and the shops."
"There will be shops, factory outlets."
"So we put in this much and we get a shopping center Codes, that's awesome."
"No Dan, you put in that amount and it's to fit out the gym and pool complex, you boys lease that portion from the company that's building it.
"Oh? Whose company Codes?" Dan asked.
"They are the company that's going to build the complex then lease it out to the gym, shops and so forth it will save millions by leasing, not building it."
"Oh okay Codes, that sounds good, what company?" he asked.
"Dan, can we go for a walk for a minute?" I suggested.
"Okay," he said warily.
"Only be a minute boys, I want to bring Dan up to speed, help yourselves to the drinks."
We walked down to the water's edge and I turned to him and said,
"Dan, I have loved you so deeply for many years now and you know I would do anything for you."
"Yes Codes me too but what's up?"
"Well when I got thinking about your retirement I thought a gym would be ideal and the further I delved, the bigger it got so then I thought why not?"
"Your talking in riddles Codes."
"Well you asked who the company was that's going to build this complex."
"Yes Codes but it was because I was just inquisitive."
"Well our company is going to build it."
"What!! What the fuck Cody? It's going to cost millions; our company doesn't have that sort of money. You are going to send us into bankruptcy."
"Umm, our company does Dan. You know mum handed over her holdings to us and I merged the two companies, it's mum's side the money is coming from."
"Of all the stupid fucking things you've done Codes this takes the cake, why didn't you tell me?"
"Because I wanted it to be your retirement present and I needed to find you a job you liked," I whispered.
He looked at me and his eyes were glistening in the darkness.
"You are the most ornery person I know Codes and you're also the most loving, generous and unselfish person I know. What you have gone and done is amazing. I think you are amazing, no one ever in my whole life has done so much for me, I love you so very much." He held me and kissed me through tears, my tears.
I had given everybody food for thought that night. They all went home and wrote down what they thought they could bring to this club and also their thoughts on naming it.'Daniel Lawrence' was just an idea when I first started. I only had a small gym in mind but you know me, nothing is done in halves.
John said he would explain it to April and Larry the next day. He thought from past conversations Larry would be in. I decided to ask Rory about the shops when they got in tomorrow. I didn't want them to feel left out.
Dan and I sat at the table and talked for awhile. I had turned the lights out and lit a candle; his face was gorgeous in that lighting. I could have stayed there forever in that moment.
"What's up Squirt?"
"Nothing Dan, I'm just looking at the most incredibly handsome man sitting opposite me."
He looked around and said,
"Oh he's gone now Dan, maybe he's in the bedroom."
"Well we better go look Squirt, don't want any handsome men in our bedroom do we?"
He even looked under the bed but no handsome men in our bedroom.
But I did find one very sexed up one under the sheets that night.
"Good night Dan, thank you, I love you."
"What do we have to do to make this happen for the boys?"
"Well I've already had Jamie working on the plans and they are almost complete. The one you saw tonight was just the gym and pool areas, the rest he's still doing."
"Oh, so there's not much to do then?"
"That's right handsome man, it's your present so just enjoy the ride.We really don't have to do anything, just pay the bills."
"Goodnight Codes, thank you, I love you."
"Good night handsome man, I love you more."
The morning after brought plenty of work to do; there were quite a few questions and John said Larry and April were in. He had handed him a summary and he didn't look at it but just said to John.
"Is it good?"
"More than good, brilliant."
"Count us in,"he said.
That was Larry; he doesn't muck around, up front kind of guy.
Donny handed me his list of suggestions and so did Tim, it's a start anyways.
The next evening we walked over to Bobby's place and they talked non-stop about their big weekend. Will was hyperactive, he had just got off the phone to Karen and now he was talking to Mel.
"Now can you look over this document and tell me what you think?"
"Sure Codes, what are you up to?"
He looked closely at my plan.
"Brilliant idea, I'm in for this, look Bobby."
"What's that Codes?" Dan asked.
"Well, maybe when we build this aircraft hanger with the guy's gym in it, we can also have maybe twenty or so factory outlets set up too, along with a sports store and maybe a coffee lounge sort of set up, oh and food.
Rory would be brilliant at setting up the shops.We can put all our cheap lines and damaged stock in there, Rory get with James and get it done honey, I need costing and shop designs," I smiled at him.
"Done Codes and another outlet for Will also, maybe we can do three separate shops and a sports store. Maybe Dan and the boys should start that one, a coffee and donut shop and maybe a gourmet pizza store."
"Okay I'll leave the shops to you but leave this space I've marked free, I have something in mind for that."
"But I'm not even ready yet Cody," Will said.
"You will be by the time we open, don't stress, we have got you sorted baby."