Never Give Up
The boys blew them away and Tim and Donny wanted to move into their bedroom, the bond was instant.
I helped them unpack and they had done a lot of shopping by the looks of it, new, very nice clothes and a few trinkets for us. Just the run of the mill tourist stuff, there were plenty of souvenirs for mum in the bags.
A flat, well-packed package was given to Bobby and Rory. Marcel had sent it to them and it was a painting of them both in Paris under the Eiffel tower, it was beautiful." Marcel said to tell you both the Tower is still waiting for your return and to bring Will," Donny said.
Bobby giggled and said, "I guess this is another invitation to visit, I feel like I just got back from there."
"Maybe in a few months," Rory suggested.
"This is for you dad," he handed a package to Dan,
"And this is for you Codes."
My present was a perfect set of antique, nouveau wine glasses, absolutely beautiful but not as gorgeous as my crystal ones.
Dan's present was a beautiful antique letter opener, silver and ivory.
After listening to their travel stories and our stories that brought them up to speed, we all started yawning so I said my goodnights and checked in on the kids. When I returned to go shower I looked at Tim, Donny, Bobby and Rory and said, "Whichever of you lot sleeps with them tonight, don't snore, it scares the shit out of them." I giggled, "Come on Dan, it's been a long day, can you close up and don't forget to put the cat out?"
He started for the hallway then rushed back.
"Your so easy Bubby." Everyone giggled.
I heard a small discussion going on between the kids but Rory and Bobby won out, they spent the night with the babies, Tim and Donny were just too jet lagged.
Will had gone home with Karen but will be back in a few days.He missed Tim and Donny so much, they have a lot of talking to do when they catch up.
Dan came in giggling.
"What's up baby?" I asked.
"Oh Squirt, I don't know how Donny puts up with it. Tim told him to go turn the bed down and get him an extra pillow and a glass of water. Donny just automatically did it, we were left with our mouths open," he chuckled.
"Well Dan as long as they're happy, did you get my water baby?"
"No Codes, I'll be back."
Yep, so fucking easy.
"Do you think I'm doing the right thing by retiring?"
"Dan we talked about this, if you go on you take the risk of permanent damage to your ankle. Do you want to take that chance?"
"No Codes, you're right, it's for the best, but I will miss it."
"Dan, you haven't got time to dwell on it, you are going to be so busy soon."
I snuggled into him and started to lick one of his very fine nipples.
"Codes, please don't do that."
"Why Dan, don't you like it?"
"I'm trying to think and it's distracting me."
"Meow, purr," I mouthed as I sucked him harder.
"Meow, do you have any milk mister?"
I slipped down to his throbbing man tube and started licking it and purring.
He grabbed my arms and pulled me up.
"Don't Cody, don't do that."
"Do what Dan?"
"Meow and purr, I get an image in my head of a furry cat with very sharp teeth."
"Okay mister, do you want me to moan instead?"
"That would be okay Squirt, kiss me first."
Then he pushed my head down again and we both moaned.
No babies this morning, good, that means the kids don't snore.
I put the coffee on and made toast. One little man came out sleepy eyed and still tired so I took him into the bathroom and washed his face with a cloth and that was when I spotted the birthmark. It was tiny but it did look like a heart, of course I knew he was Cody.They were identical but he was a little smaller.As I carried him past Dan he reached out and started giggling so I placed him in the bed. It wouldn't be long till he's asleep again. When I began making myself a drink little Conner came out eyes everywhere so I repeated my earlier routine and he went to sleep straight away. Dan was awake by then so I got more photos.
"Do you want coffee Dan?"
"Yes please Codes, good morning."
"Good morning baby, you sleep well?"
"Won't be a minute."
Off I went and Rory came out in his boxers, I looked at him and said,
"They're in my room, coffee?"
So I made four coffees because I knew Bob wasn't too far away.
Sure enough, just as I handed out Dan's and Rory's, in came Bobby and he moved in behind Dan, it was the only room left. (I wonder if they make bigger beds than king size).
Dan's farewell dinner would be much the same as the others but this year Dan's retirement would leave a large gap in their forward line; he is after all the leading goal kicker. They have asked him to sing a farewell song and of course there was only one tune he would sing.
Jamie, Luke, Tom and Trent would be coming with us together with Donny who of course is a new player and then there's Tim who being he, insists Donny take him as a mate.
God knows what those two have decided to do on the night. It wouldn't be unusual for Tim to insist Donny dance with him; hopefully I can have a chat with him before we get to that point.
The babies were stirring and I can smell one that needs changing, accidents happen, so I moved everyone out of the bedroom and threw a nappy to Dan.
"Cody needs changing, I've already taken Conner to the loo,he's fine."
"Accidents happen,"I said and shrugged.
Tim had arrived in his Pooh Bear pajamas.
"Oh, give him to me dad, your such a baby sometimes, he's your son and he's uncomfortable for God's sake."
Dan's jaw dropped.
He gave me a, 'What did I do' look.
Well the big night is here and I've got my assistant Rory to help style our men. The littlies are sitting with Bobby on the couch and are wide eyed and enjoying the show that unfolded in front of them; no not us but Nemo of course. They had a few sleepless nights earlier on when they missed their daddy but, thank god; it's passed, although Conner still asks about him. We explained he was very happy and he was with God and he's in the clouds watching them. What else do you tell three year olds? At least with this explanation they have some understanding.
Rory was doing Tom and Trent's look and he was doing a top job.
I did my Dan and his suit was a triumph, dark grey satin with white pinstripes teamed with a bright blue tie. The cuffs were flared as was the double split at the back. I sat on the bed and nearly cried, he was gorgeous.
"What's the matter Codes?" he knelt down and took my hands.
"Oh nuthin Dan, I was just thinking how happy I am."
"Wanna kiss me?"
"Yep," I replied.
"Can we stay home?"
"Nope," I said but then added,
"Come into the bathroom for a minute,"I wiggled my eyebrows.
It only took a minute as I dined quickly on Dan's manhood.
"Feel better Codes?"
"Can I do you now?"
He did and it took me a little longer, it was agony trying to hold off because he was so good at it.
With everybody there and ready we all had one drink and then piled into the waiting limousine. Tom did the honours and opened the champagne, giving each of us a glass.
"Cheers and have a good time tonight," he toasted.
Arriving was bedlam; we were dropped at the front, news cameras and fans galore so I moved to the side with Luke, Trent and Tim. We were watching our boys going through the autograph and interview stage and I only had eyes for Dan who turned and our eyes met. Many times we had done this but tonight was special, it was his last as a part of a team, this was his night, I was miles away when I felt an arm around my waist.
"Come on Codes," he said as he pulled me forward (this was something new). He got in line as each player was interviewed.
The starlet that was interviewing the boys and their wives or girlfriends was very animated when she got to us.
"Daniel Lawrence, this is your last hurrah with the Bombers, how are you feeling?"
"Really good Megan, I'm looking forward to retirement and spending more time with my family, it's all good."
He played the camera like it was a shoot.
"Cody Mitchell, very nice to see you here. I see some of your designs are being worn tonight, they are amazing."
"Thank you Megan, your frock is stunning, who is it by?"
"Alex Perry and it's wonderful to wear."
"Well, it looks ace on you sweetheart, he's a complete artist."
(I knew it was Alex's design, I just wanted to give him a free plug.)
I kissed her cheek.
We were careful over the years not to be too out there and the newspapers were kind by not printing much of Dan's personal life and I never mentioned it, if it wasn't about my business then it was off the table.
"Such a talented and good looking man you have on your arm Daniel, you must be very proud of him," she went on not missing a beat, talking like we were an old married couple.
"Well, I'm proud of everything Cody does Megan, he's my friend and soul mate," my Dan went on,"Everything I have done and all I have, I credit to this beautiful guy,"he said smiling.
"Well you enjoy yourselves tonight, I'm looking forward to seeing you inside." She finished and moved onto the next couple, not realizing she had sort of outed us.
"What Tim?" Dan asked.
"You just outed yourself publicly."
"Tonight is about honesty and recognition, it bothers me I have beautiful sons and a partner and I can't show them off, but not tonight. I apologize Tim but I don't want you in the spotlight just yet but there will come a time in the future, I will tell the world about you and the babies but not just yet," he looked at me grinning.
"If you kiss me, I'm going home," I said.
"Me too," said Tim.
We shuffled inside and were shown to our table. Donny was already there and talking non-stop to some of the other recruits.
"Don't you dare Tim."
He gave a small blush.
I knew exactly what Dan was thinking, a bit of bum crack pointed Donny's way would bring him running, that's why he wore those hipsters.
I turned my back for one second and I heard clapping and cheers.
The little bugger had done it.
I whipped around and the look on his face was so innocent I nearly puked.
Donny, of course, was at his side within moments.
"Donny, can Timmy have a coke?"
"Sure Tim, I'll go get one."
"Can you get dad a beer too, he doesn't look too good."
"Sure Tim, Dan you want to help?"
I crunched my teeth together and thought, game on son.
The speeches were very sincere and Dan received three large framed photos of himself, a limited edition and a lifetime membership. The coach was nearly in tears when he talked about his relationship with Daniel Lawrence and how over the years he became more like a son to him. We all cheered him on. He was well liked at the club and after all he was the coach. I silently wished his son had taken up football, he would have been so proud of him; anyway it wasn't to be.
The dancing started and I gave Tim a warning look as he sat and smiled at me. Then a very pretty young lady nudged him and said,
He couldn't refuse; she was the president's granddaughter, Louisa. Poor Tim, she kept him on the dance floor for three dances.
Kissing him on the cheek, then moving on to Donny who was looking really pissed off, but he did the right thing and had a couple of dances with her; then he came back to the table and sat with a very angry Tim for the rest of the night. Dan's song ended the proceedings so I grabbed Annie for the last dance. It wasn't unusual as she was the events manager and it's her night too.
We started in the middle but she pushed us to the front and just ten feet from Dan.
"This what you had in mind Codes?" she said in my ear.
"Yes, thanks Annie."
I watched him sing and his eyes never left mine.
He was perfect and memories came flooding back to me.
'The smile on your face, the touch of your hand' and so it went, we had stopped in suspended time and I was no longer dancing. Annie moved to my side and Dan sang only to me. My boys were around me protecting Dan and I, like they have done for the past thirteen wonderful years.
He took my hand and walked me back to the table to collect our things and of course the children.
None of us were drunk and we all had coffee when we got home. Dan danced with me on the vast verandah and Tim and Donny followed, then the others, we had our own little dance club going on, another late night at the Lawrence's.
Here we go again, both babies were crying when Dan and I emerged from the shower. Rory had them on the sofa in front of the TV watching some fashion parade on the Lifestyle channel.
"I don't know what's wrong Codes, they were fine ten minutes ago."
I took the remote from him and put it on the cartoon channel and they quickly quieted down.
"Rory, think two nearly three year olds not fashion gurus and you won't have any trouble," I giggled as I put the coffee on.
Up the stairs came a very bubbly fifteen soon to be sixteen-year old neighbor and his grandmother. I offered them drinks and then Will started talking about how amazing his figures were for the last month.
"I told you, all you have to do is count the money Will, easy isn't it?" Rory said.
"It's awesome, if this keeps up I can chuck school," he answered.
"No way Will, you're going to university and no arguments son," Rory replied.
"Okay dad," he smiled.
The kid felt wanted but every now and then he needed the re-assurance and his self worth is slowly returning, everyday I see changes in his personality.
Tim came out and they hugged, then he dragged him into the bedroom for a powwow with just the three of them. They had missed each other and I know Will missed the boys. Karen was stroking Conner's messy hair and watching cartoons with them as Rory slipped by me and said,
"If I'm quick I'll get to have parent sex, keep them for as long as possible, will ya Codes?"
He took off running down the beach.
I laughed to myself as they were treating Will as their own which is a beautiful thing. Now all I have to do is get Luke and Jamie fixed up with kids but for the moment I have two little boys who need beautiful uncles around them.
We packed the car, belted up two blonde headed kids and left for the farm. There was no football and I was really looking forward to showing the kids a bit of farm life. Barry and Peter are stoked we are coming and they have the horses ready and will meet us at the gate. I hope the babies are not afraid of horses. A bit of a long trip only because we thought we had better take a pit stop at the toilets. There is a cafe where we stop that has clean facilities and over the years we have become very friendly with the owner, Margo. She let's us use them so we order coffee as a thank you and now the boys have a juice each.
We sat in the sun, which is a rarity at this time of year, and the ground was still wet from an early shower, but it's cleared up now. The boys are rugged up in some cool, wool lined jackets and they look so cute. I took some pictures and Margo fussed over them. A couple at the next table asked Dan if they were his kids and he said they were. They fussed over them while the babies were just waving and making funny noises. Margo came out with the bill and then we had to leave so we said our goodbyes and thanked her and she said she would see us dads soon. We would call on the way back.
The boys met us at the farm gates; they were a couple of beautiful men now, rugged and very country, cowboy types.
The littlies were very quiet but very interested in the horses.
"You want to go for a horsy ride Conner?" Pete asked.
Conner broke out into a full on gorgeous smile and said,
"Yeth," while nodding his head up and down.
He was gently placed on the mare's back but Cody was a little bit more cautious, he held onto Dan tightly and when Barry went to grab him, he screamed.
Dan started calming him down and put his hand on the horse's mane and patted him.
Handing Cody over to me, Dan mounted the horse and then I passed him up and he snuggled into Dan's arms. Well, that did it; he fell forward trying to put his little arms around the horse's neck all the while kissing him.
Dan walked the horse back next to Peter's mount and Barry came with me in the car.
We had a chat about the stock and I asked if they thought they could take on another account, Will's, and he said it was no problem. Daniela was picking up some work helping and she's a treasure because she knows computers backwards, so I asked, who was paying her.This was the first I'd heard of it. He said they were, they didn't think it fair that I paid an extra person.
I just said,
"Well, you will have to tell me so I can reimburse you both."
He laughed,"Forget it Codes, we paid her in clothes, she needed a couple of things so we told her to pick whatever she wanted and she could pay them off by working".
"We knew, if she had asked you, she would have got them for nothing, but Mike is a bit strict with what's given freely.It makes people think they don't have to work for it. It's all sorted Codes."
He was telling me how content they were.It was a distant memory having to live on the streets, hustling for food. In fact, over the years, they hardly ever spoke about it.
Daniela was on a sleepover with her girlfriends but James was hanging around asking Dan all sorts of questions about football.He played at school and Dan and the boys went out the front for some kick to kick. Of course the kids were tucked up in front of the TV with Rob, mum and Debs while Mike and I had a long overdue catch-up.
Mike was now a man and he was a husband, father and businessman. He is as handsome as Luke with a slighter rough edge which you would expect from a man on the land. Not that he did much on the farm. His days were filled with tours and overnight camping, bushwalking groups and the boys did the trail rides. He needs to hire another couple of guys to help take the slack up as he's fully booked and could do so much more with extra staff.
I just said,
"Do it Mike, you're going to get even busier when the gym opens, I can guarantee it. I have something for you to look at when you get time. The paperwork is in the car, I will get it shortly."
Just then mum came in to put the kettle on, she looked at me with suspicious eyes.
"And what paperwork is that Squirt?"
"Oh, just some doodles I want Mike to look at mum."
"Why don't you pop out to the car and get them Squirt, your coffee will be ready when you get back, then we can sit and look at your, umm, doodles."
Dan arrived just as I sat down again and mum placed my drink and some scones in front of me.
"So shall we look at your doodles Squirt?" she pushed on.
"What's up mum, has something happened since I was outside, Mike?" Dan asked.
"Well Dan, I know that look and if I know Cody as well as I think, he's about to offer Mike here a deal he can't refuse," she smirked.
"Fuck your good mum," I smiled.
"Squirt?" she said.
"Sorry mum," I said giggling and shaking my head.
"Mike, you know about the gym complex, these papers are a business plan I did for you, basically I will try to explain in simple terms so mum can understand them," I winked at Mike.
"Here are the scaled down plans Jamie's done, the gym and pool are this end as you see and they take up about a third of the building. Over here are ten specialty stores, a coffee shop here and maybe three food stalls. Over here in this space, which is just outside the gym's reception and there is potential for a rather large tour desk and office. I think you should hire a couple of drop dead gorgeous females and a very chiseled, good-looking man to run it for you.
The girls will get the straight guys in and the guy or guys will get the gays and women in, nice uniforms will do that. I'm thinking very tight cowboy type outfits and very short shorts for the girls," I paused.
"You getting all this mum?"
"But Codes,that's going to cost a bomb, it sounds good but I don't have the time to organize it, let alone interview staff and the extra work."
"Mike, I wouldn't have suggested it if I didn't think you could do it. Let me help a little, then you and mum can discuss the finer points." Mum poured me another drink.
"Mike, the tour desk will be built with the other stores. The gym management, that's Dan and his boys, will be interviewing staff as they think they need them, casual staff and permanents. This is not going to be a small operation. While they are doing this they can sort out your problem or I can give Adam a call and he can do that for you. There are many chicks and guys, moving through his salons that are out of work. All you have to do is sign up, find a couple of extra guys to help out here and get some posters and brochures made. Anyway, what happened with the backpackers? Surely you can offer free rent in the campground for work around the farm, some of those guys love that shit."
"I don't know Codes, it all sounds like hard work to me."
Mum was reading my paperwork and she kept looking up at me suspiciously.
"Mike, you are your own worst enemy, sometimes I want to strangle you," I said.
"Eh?" he said.
"Mike, you want to do it all yourself. You said it before that you're knocking back work, why is that do you think?" My voice was a little raised.
"I don't know Codes; I guess nobody does it as good as me."
"Horse shit Mike, there are plenty of people who can do it better than you, people that need the work. You should be sitting in your office with your feet up by now; you need a bloody good shake Michael Lawrence."
"He'll do it," mum said.
"What?" Mike looked cornered.
"He will do it Squirt. We will take the tour desk on and get the staff sorted. He's a businessman so he will start interviewing staff for here and then when it gets near to the grand opening he will be with Dan and the boys interviewing for the tour desk jobs," she said matter of factly.
"Mum, I haven't even looked at the doodles yet?" Mike looked defeated.
"You can look at them all you want Michael but you are doing it, are these projections right Squirt?"
"As right as I can get them mum. At the moment it's only on paper but in reality I'm very confident Mike will reach those figures within six to twelve months," I answered.
"Right, now where's my babies, they must need a bath by now Codes."
"They do mum, be my guest and don't forget to sing Bob the Builder to them, the song helps when you wash their hair," I giggled.
She left to run the bath.
"They love having their hair washed Codes," Dan said.
"I know Dan but mum doesn't," I winked then giggled more, so did Mike and Dan.
"Mike all you have achieved in these past years amount to nothing if you don't start looking at the bigger picture, you will be bogged down just like Rob was for awhile. You need to do it for your kids, I have said it before Mike, times are changing and the farm is not about the cattle anymore. It's about how you use the land and its beautiful forest and lake. People nowadays are not interested in stinky old cattle; some are but not the ones who will pay for the privilege. Look here, this is your projected total of sales for next year through the sales desk."
I pointed out some figures, his eyes widened and he started looking at the paperwork closely.
"I'll leave it with you Mike, but please have a long hard think about it, what you have done up to date is brilliant but it can be so much more. I don't want you to miss this opportunity."
Dan finally spoke and when he did, it was just so soft I could hardly make it out.
"I don't even know you anymore Cody, when did it all change?" he was serious.
I took his face in my hands and answered,
"Dan I haven't changed one bit. Did you forget I'm an event organizer by trade? This is small stuff, the gym was much, much bigger but I had to do it for you Dan, just for you. I didn't do it alone either Dan; I had help from some very professional people my mum knows. I just helped put it all together and if Mike and Debs get a leg up on the way, so be it, I love them Dan, they're family, that's what those papers should be telling Mike. It's not the figures, it's the offer that matters."
"I love you Codes, I love you so fucking much," he was still whispering.
"I know Dan, I've known that for years, can you do something for me?"
"Can you not tell the boys I had help doing the offer, I kinda like that they think I'm smart," I giggled.
"Of course Codes, can we take a nap now?"
"After we get the kids bathed baby, then I'm all yours."
"Before you go Codes, thank you," Mike said.
"My pleasure handsome man."
Mum started singing Bob the Builder as we were going upstairs and I heard her shout,
"Cody Mitchell, I'll get you for this."
Mike must have told her I was having a joke.