Kyle turned off the computer monitor and rubbed his eyes. He had been sitting in front of the computer screen for hours without a break. His neck muscles were sore from sitting for so long in the same position. He had ignored the warning window that popped-up every hour reminding him to take a break. Finally he swiveled around in his chair and stood up to stretch.
Picking up his coffee cup, he walked out of the library and down the hall into the living room. The French doors were open at the far end of the room letting the fresh air circulate through the apartment. Kyle walked out on the narrow balcony and peered across Fifth Avenue. He looked down to check the entrance to Central Park fifteen floors below. It was 12:05, the usual time his young friend would walk into the park entrance. Kyle smiled as he spotted the teenager crossing Fifth Avenue making his way into the Park, 'Right on time.' Kyle thought.
Kyle turned around and quickly walked to the front door. He had been observing this lad for some time now, however today he decided to speak to him. He reasoned that the lad was attending a school nearby as he never visited the park on weekends, or during the summer when the schools were closed. They had a nodding acquaintance for several months now. The young man, like himself, was a creature of habit and you could set your watch by his punctuality.
The young man looked to be in his late teens and carried himself well. He was handsome with broad shoulders, tall, and well proportioned. He had dark brown hair with blond highlights, and dark brown eyes. He had perfectly chiseled features and an open friendly smile, when he smiled, that is, which was not often. Most of the time he was serious, as if he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. In appearance and mannerisms he reminded Kyle so much of his brother, Paul.
After riding his bicycle around the park for ten minutes, Kyle finally spotted the young man seated at a table in the food pavilion. Kyle locked his bike to the rack and walked over to where the teenager was seated.
"Hello, my name is Kyle Petersen. We've been nodding to each other for some time now and I thought an introduction was in order. Mind if I join you?"
The teenager stood and extended his hand saying, "It's a pleasure to meet you Kyle, my name is Christopher Schmidt, but my friends call me Kip. Please join me, I would enjoy the company." Kip smiled, "I'm glad that you made the first move. I have often been tempted to approach you, but I learned from experience that many New Yorkers prefer to be left alone. I expect this is true with most large cities. Anyway, it would be improper for me to make the first move."
"Let me grab something from the food counter, then we can chat for a bit, that is if you're not pressed for time," Kyle said.
"Please, go ahead; I have no classes this afternoon. I have plenty of time to chat if you'd like."
"Great, what are you drinking there?" Kyle asked, "I'll bring you back another."
"A cup of coffee would hit the spot, thank you."
Kyle returned with his tray and handed Kip his coffee. "You know you bear a striking resemblance to my brother, Paul. We were very close and I miss him terribly. Paul was more than a brother to me; he was also my best friend. I didn't mean to share my personal grief with you, Kip, but I felt I owed you an explanation. Now that I've cleared the air, tell me what brings you to the park every afternoon?"
"Did Paul move away?"
"No, he was killed in an automobile accident."
"I'm sorry to hear that. I can empathize with your loss. I've recently lost a loved one. Maybe one day you will tell me about Paul. To answer your question, I'm here every day during the lunch hour to get away from that zoo they call a high school. My school is just a few blocks away. I usually have lunch here daily at this time, weather permitting. It's nice to relax and to recharge my batteries. Thank God this is my last year. I'm graduating this June. I don't think I could take it for another year."
"It is that bad?"
"Yes, I haven't been attending this school long enough to develop any close friendships. Anyway, I've found it safer to keep to myself. To them I'm an outsider, so they don't mess with me."
"So what do you plan to do after you graduate in June?"
"I will be working full time at the Plaza Hotel until my classes start at NYU in September."
Kyle chuckled, "It's a good thing I took the initiative today, or I might have lost the opportunity to meet you at all. I don't suppose you'll be dropping by the park after you graduate in two months?"
"Oh, I'll still come to the park, but not during the lunch hour anymore. More than likely it will be later in the day. Your right about one thing though, once I start classes at NYU, I'll spend my lunch hour in Gramacy Park. Central Park is my escape from the shabby rooming house I live in just off Ninth Avenue. I rent a small room that's only big enough to accommodate a single bed, desk and a small wardrobe. I have a one by four foot window that faces the alley. I have to stick my head out the window and look up to see what kind of day it is because the sunlight never reaches my level."
"Let's walk a bit," Kyle said. "This is the only exercise I get until my workout at the gym later this evening."
"That's fine with me. What do you do for a living?"
"Actually, I'm what they call an entrepreneur. I dabble in many different businesses, from the import/export market, to the food industry. My work keeps me glued to my computer screen ten to twelve hours a day. That's the reason I take a break at lunchtime. If I don't, I 'll get a headache or a stiff neck."
"It sounds like you lead an interesting life. Do you live nearby?"
"Yes, I do. I live in that apartment building on the corner of Fifth and 66th Street."
Kip smiled, "How convenient."
"Do I detect a trace of a foreign accent in your speech?" Kyle asked.
"Not many people pick up on that. I'm a German-American. My parents lived in Germany when I was born and I spoke German as a child. We returned to the United States when I was nine years old, when my father accepted a teaching position at MIT. I learned English in Germany, but it took me a while to speak the language as a native. My parents were fluent in English so they helped me a lot."
"When I arrived in this country, I attended public school in Boston. My classmates treated me as an outsider. I think they resented me because I was a foreigner and because of my scholastic record. The private schools I attended in Germany were further advanced than the public school in Boston. I couldn't believe what a breeze the curriculum was here. I guess I inherited my brains from my parents, who were super intelligent. The principal was delighted that he had me in his school and did everything he could to help me fit into their program. My teachers were very understanding and helpful."
"My fellow classmates were another story. They treated me rather shabbily and made me feel like an outsider. I felt rejected and was deeply hurt. I began to despise them as much as they did me. I never understood why the school system allowed the students to be so hostile to each other. The system allows too many gangs to run roughshod over the student body. I didn't fear them mainly because I was taught how to defend myself in a fair fight. Of course the gangs didn't fight fair, as I was to find out. After a lot of fights, and as many black eyes, and bloody noses later, my dad pulled me out of public school and enrolled me in private school. After that, things began to improve, I began to like Boston."
"You lost me somewhere Kip. Didn't you tell me before that you were living in a dumpy rooming house in Hell's Kitchen here in Manhattan? How did you end up here?"
"My father died of cancer two years ago. He lived for almost two years after he was diagnosed with the disease. Things went down hill shortly after his first operation. MIT was good about paying his salary for the first year. After that his disability insurance kicked in. We couldn't afford to maintain the same life style after my father's income took a nosedive. My folks had to sell our home and car and we ended up renting a two-bedroom apartment. Shortly after my father died, my mother and I had to move again only this time to a smaller one-bedroom apartment."
"Our only source of income at the time was my mother's savings account and Dad's $100,000 dollar life insurance. Mom only received a small amount from the Social Security because my father hadn't worked in this country that long. My mom couldn't afford the tuition to send me to a private school any longer. So it was back to the public schools again. Only this time, the school district I was in was in a very bad section of town. For sure, the gangs ran that part of town and they were well organized and brutal. I still keep a very low profile and tried to avoid any contact with them."
"The strongest gang in my school, and in our neighborhood, was called the Black Devils. The leader of the gang was a big black dude, Leroy Jackson. Unfortunately, for me, he liked to rape good-looking white boys. Of course, I knew nothing about the gangs. The outcome would not have changed anything, in any event. What I didn't know, was that Leroy Jackson, the leader of the Black Devils had a thing for me and considered me his private property. The word was out on the street that no one was to touch me."
"One afternoon, during lunch break, I was cornered in the lavatory by two of his gang. They shoved me around a bit and locked the door. A few minutes later, Leroy arrived. That's when I came face-to-face with the biggest, ugliest black dude I had ever seen. I'm 5 foot 10 inches tall, but this guy was couple of inches taller and well over 200 pounds. He walked over to me and wrapped his arms around me so I couldn't move. He was strong and had my arms in a vice grip."
"He looked me up and down and said, "God, you are one sweet looking thing, white boy. I'm going to have you right now. Sweet thing, you can do this the easy way, or the hard way. It don't make no difference to me. I'm going to have that pretty ass of yours, make no mistake about that. So you better get used to that and make it easier on yourself."
"With that he grabbed both my wrists with his powerful hands and pulled them around so they were behind me. His hand was so big, that he was able to span both my wrists. He grabbed the waistband of my slacks and shorts ripping them off my body in one swift stroke. He fondled me for several minutes and then lifted my chin up and kissed my face and neck. He was so quick I couldn't believe what was happening to me. I was so revolted by his actions that I became sick and without warning I threw up all over both of us. His reaction was swift and painful. He hit me so hard that I blacked out from the force of the blow."
"I don't know how long I was out. All I could remember when I came around, was the pain. I was laying face down on the floor, naked and alone. They must have given me something because I didn't remember anything. That animal had his fun and left me lying there. I felt as if my insides had been gored by a bull and my body was covered with urine and semen. I tried to get up but I almost fainted from the stabbing pain that racked my body. I couldn't move my legs. I really began to panic; I pushed up on my arms and turned my head to see what was wrong with my legs. That's when I saw the pool of blood and feces on the floor and all over my bare legs."
"I started screaming and didn't stop until two students came to my aid. I told them I had been raped and to call 911. I must have passed out again, because the next thing I remembered was waking up in the hospital recovery room hours later. My mother, a doctor and two police officers were standing around my bed. I told them the whole story before I fell asleep again. They were back the following day, only this time with the Assistant District Attorney. They went over my statement once again until they were satisfied. The ADA asked if I would agree to testify. I told them I was afraid of the revenge that the gang members would take if they found out I would testify against them. Anyway, I thought it would be my word against theirs."
"The ADA said they had taken taken samples of the semen from my rectum and matched it to the DNA of the gang members I picked out from the photos they showed me. He said I would have to identify them from in a lineup when I was released from the hospital. The doctor's report was gruesome. According to his examination, three men repeatedly raped me. They didn't go into detail, but he did say they did a good job of tearing me up internally and it would be some time before I healed properly."
"They placed me in the witness protection program. The DA agreed with me that the rest of the gang might try to get to me. Fortunately, the City of Boston has deep pockets and would pay to protect me from the gang. They would also help me to relocate to another area where the gang could not find me. That's when my mother decided we would move to New York to live with my aunt and uncle until we could return to Germany."
"The day before I was to be released from the hospital, my mother had a massive stroke and ended up in the hospital. The doctors said it was from all the stress she has been under for the last two years. As it turned out, my mother ended up in a nursing home. The three black dudes were convicted and sent to jail and I was shipped off to live with my aunt and uncle who own a rooming house here in New York."
"You've really had it rough," Kyle said. "I can see why you like to come to the park. Look, Kip, I think you could use a friend or a big brother right now. Maybe we can help each other. I know you'll meet some decent people in college, but for now, let's see how it works." Kyle opened his wallet and took out his card and handed it to Kip. "Here's my card, if you get into trouble or you need to talk, call me. Let's plan to meet here on Monday, or if you want to get together over the weekend, give me a call and we'll take in a movie or something."
"I'd like that; we'll have to make it Monday since I'm working the entire weekend. I'm really glad we met. If it rains on Monday, I'll see you Tuesday. I've got to get home and change for work. Thanks for spending so much time with me this afternoon." They shook hand and parted.
The friendship between Kyle and Kip had grown in the direction that Kyle had hoped. Kip became a regular visitor to Kyle's apartment during the first year. Each of them filled a void that had been lacking in their lives. Kip found a trusted friend in Kyle, one he knew would be there for him. Kyle found in Kip the brother he lost. On the nights Kip finished up early at his night job at the Plaza, he'd drop by Kyle's apartment to unwind. He often would stay the night, as Kyle wouldn't allow him to walk home after midnight unless he took a cab to make sure he wasn't mugged. Kip's neighborhood was not safe after dark under normal circumstances, let alone after ten o'clock at night. Kip felt he was imposing on Kyle and stopped his late evening visits.
After a while, Kip no longer stopped by after work. Kyle felt sad that Kip cut him out of his life, he missed his evening visits. On the other hand, he was happy for Kip because he was finally able to meet some people his own age. Kip had matured and became more self-assured. Yet, he still clung to old-world principles that shaped his thinking.
During this period, Kip met a lovely girl and they were dating. He never let that infringe on his Sundays with Kyle. One Sunday Kip mentioned that he missed their evening visits, but the main reason he stopped was because he felt extremely uncomfortable with Kyle going out of his way to make sure he got home safely. That was when Kyle asked Kip to move in with him. If they got on each other's nerves then Kip could return to his aunt and uncle's rooming house. Kip agreed to the arrangement only if Kyle accepted the same rent that he was paying at his uncle's house. The arrangement worked out fine because it lasted over a year. Kyle was spending months at a time in Europe returning only to change his wardrobe. He would only be in town a few days then he was off again to make the rounds to his other divisions in Atlanta, Houston, or Seattle. Yet, he continued to call Kip during the week to let him know his schedule.
Kyle and Kip were returning to the apartment after celebrating Kip's birthday dinner at the Harvard Club. Kyle had treated Kip and four of his classmates to a night on the town. They were still wide-awake and decided to have a nightcap, before turning in for the night.
"Thanks for the super evening, Kyle, we all had a great time. You're a great guy and a super friend. My life has been so wonderful since I met you. It's been like a fairytale. I'm waiting for this wonderful bubble to burst and then I'll be banished to my old rooming house once again."
"That will never happen," Kyle said. "I think you've done a fantastic job of trying to juggle that job of yours and maintaining a 3.84 grade point average. I'm very proud of you, little brother. So as your reward, I'm taking you on a week's vacation to St. Thomas."
"That's terrific, Kyle, you're really too good to me. As much as I want to go, I'm going to have to turn you down. I can't afford to take the time off right now. The doctors feel my mom has had another slight stroke and I will need to take some time off to be with her in Boston. Mom is all the family I have left and it's been almost three months since I've visited her. I know my boss would fire me if I asked for any more time off. You know how annoyed he got when I was out sick last winter. I really can't afford to loose this job."
"Kip,I've wanted to talk to you about your future for some time now. What with all the travel I've been doing lately we really haven't had time for a serious conversation. Firstly, I want you to change your major to Finance next semester. You have a natural talent for that field. Of course, this will depend on what you and your counselors have to say."
"I also want you to enroll in that accelerated program your advisors suggested. You will be giving up your summers, but I'd rather you continue with your education than waste your time with this low paying job at the Plaza. This way you will be able to complete your MBA much sooner."
Kip shook his head and smiled, "Kyle I think you're losing it. I can't give up my job, I need the money to subsist. Anyway, I don't think my scholarship grant will allow me to do that. This particular tuition grant is for a four-year program. I've already looked into that. As far as the MBA, I've already applied to NYU for a college loan. If I can maintain my grades at the present level, it should be a piece of cake. But, again I still need the job."
"Look, little brother, in the two years I've know you, you've become a close friend and I really care about what happens to you. From now on, I plan to support you until you graduate from college with your MBA. I've worked everything out, including a well-paying part-time job with flexible hours. You don't really need to work, but knowing you, I figured you would give me a hard time unless you could earn your pocket money. In any event, you'll receive an allowance and a credit card." Kyle smiled, "I wish I had a camera right to capture the shocked look on your face."
Kip shook his head, "Of course I'm shocked, and I can't believe this. Why are you doing this? You've only know me for two short years, yet you're about to spend all this money on me. What's the catch?"
"You're right, there is a catch, Kip. The catch is that after you complete your degrees, I want your promise that you will come to work for the Petersen Corporation for three years. You'll be enrolled in our executive training program for the first year. After the first year, your performance will be reviewed. Based on that profile, you will be fast tracked into a job where your talents can be best utilized. If at the end of three years, you are not satisfied with the company or your job, you're free to leave. If you choose to remain, you can select the career path that you wish."
"The second catch is that you continue our friendship. You must know by now that I like having you around. You're a faithful companion and you have enriched my drab existent since you've been living here. Although, I will never fully get over the loss of my beloved family, you have helped me accept it."
"You are an intelligent and capable young man and it is my feeling that you will become an asset to my company. I'm convinced that the die was cast over two years ago when we met. But there is something you should know about me before you make your decision. I am a homosexual, Kip. My sexual orientation should not be confused with my feelings for you as a person. I see you as my friend and companion, nothing more. I know you're straight and I'm sure you'll marry the right woman and raise lots of children one day."
"You've had a difficult life so far, Kip, and it's high time you started enjoying a normal life for a change. Your college years are important and you should be having fun. You're at the point in your life when you should be meeting and socializing with the right people. I want you to give this some serious thought before you make your decision. If possible, I would like to have your answer by next week so we can make that trip to St. Thomas before I have to take off for Germany again."
"Kyle, your being gay doesn't bother me in the slightest. I've suspected as much for some time. You've never given me any reason to feel uncomfortable around you. If fact, it's been quite the opposite. You've always been very proper and reserved. Some men are like that, which is fine, but it wouldn't hurt for you to hug me occasionally. I promise I won't bite. You have always treated me with respect and I know that you have my best interest at heart. I also agree that we each fill a mutual need in each other."
"I've always felt comfortable knowing that you think of me as your brother, considering how close you and Paul were. Maybe his sprit had led us to each other, only God knows. On an emotional level, I don't want to give up the relationship we have together. Since you have taken me under your wing, I don't feel alone any longer, I've been able to gain back my self respect. I'm not afraid to face the future any longer, because I know you will always be there for me. But, I would be less that candid if I didn't tell you that I feel uncomfortable in allowing you to support me. I come from a very proud family, and I know my parents would never allow me to accept your generosity, if they were around today."
"I understand your feelings, Kip, but if your parents were around we wouldn't be having this conversation, now would we? I'm a wealthy man and the money I'll be spending on you is a piddling amount for me. It means nothing to me, but that's hard for you to understand. My grandparents, on both sides, set up trust funds for Paul and me when we were born. Those trusts were considerable. After my family was killed in that automobile accident, our lawyers sued the trucking firm for hundreds of millions of dollars. The life insurance polices my parents carried alone, were worth several million dollars."
"When I turned twenty-five, I inherited 80 percent of Petersen Corporation. I won't bore you with the details of my holdings, but just let me say they are substantial. The Petersen Corporation controls several large corporations in the United States, Germany, and Sweden. That's why I spend so much time traveling abroad. Very few people know who I am and what I own. I keep a very low profile, and I ask that you keep what I've told you in confidence. You've said many times how much you liked this apartment, well little brother, it's going to be difficult to figure out your share of the rent because I don't pay any rent for this apartment because I own this building."
"Wow, I guessed you aren't hurting for money, but I never realized you're super rich," Kip said. "Look, I'm beat; I've got to hit the sack. What's on the agenda for tomorrow?"
"We're going for a ride in the country after breakfast. I want to show you my place in the burbs; we'll be back here Monday."
"What should I take along with me?"
"Nothing, I think it's time I bought you some new threads. All you'll need is your shaving kit and a change of underwear. Do you think you can be ready to leave here tomorrow by nine o'clock?"
"No problem, I should be up by eight at the latest."
"Good, the limo will be here to pick us up at nine. The weather report forecasts a perfect weekend."
The limo pulled up to the ornate metal gates. Kyle rolled down the rear window, took out his keys, and pressed the remote on the key ring. With that, the gates swung open. The chauffeur drove through the gates and along the road that wound around the estate.
"Kyle, this estate is beautiful, it is perfectly landscaped and well maintained."
In the distance, Kip could see the manor house. The house itself was a classic Roman Gothic style with a portico extending out from the main entrance. The circular drive led directly to the front entrance.
Kip let out a long slow whistle as they approached the main entrance. "This manor house is absolutely fantastic. I've never seen anything as humongous as this before. So this is your 'place in the country'?"
Kyle smiled, "Yes it is really quite an imposing structure. It's been in the family for some time. My great, great, grandfather built the place shortly after he bought the property. Of course, over the years the family sold off some of the land because of the upkeep and taxes. Even so, there is still quite a lot of land left. We'll take a couple of horses and ride around the property tomorrow if you like."
The limo pulled up to the entrance. The butler was waiting at the top of the steps to greet Kyle.
"Welcome home, Mr. Petersen. It's good to see you again."
"Thank you, Walter. This gentleman is Kip Schmidt, my protégé."
"Welcome to Petersen Manor, Mr. Schmidt."
"Walter, please inform the cook that I'm expecting twelve people for brunch tomorrow. Will you see if you can hire a string quartet for the brunch as well?"
Walter smiled, "Yes, sir, it will be like old times again. I'll take care of everything. Would you like a light lunch today, sir?"
"That's fine Walter, Kip and I will be having dinner at the Club tonight. In the meantime, I'm taking Kip on the grand tour of the house. We'll be starting with this floor first. Please let us know when lunch is ready."
Kyle had finished the tour of the left wing of the mansion as Walter informed them that lunch was being served in the family dining room.
Walter finished serving them lunch and left. "Well, you've been very quiet all of a sudden, has the cat got your tongue?" Kyle asked.
"This house is just so elegant. I'm overwhelmed at what I've seen so far. It's hard to believe that all this belongs to you. Why would you want to live in Manhattan when you have a home like this?"
"There are many reasons, but the main reason is because of the death of my family. This house held too many memories. I think this is the second time I've been back here since the accident. This is my home, the house I grew up in and it holds so many wonderful and warm memories for me. But it hasn't been easy for me to stay here without feeling saddened for their loss. It was much more depressing for me three years ago."
"Today I'm able to walk through the house without expecting to see them popping into a room or to see my brother sitting in his suite studying. The final blow came one Saturday morning two years ago. I woke up and quickly dressed in riding clothes because I thought I would be late for our usual 7:30 ride. I'm sure the groomsman thought I was losing it when I asked him if my father and brother had already left. I rode anyway, yet I could not see the bridal path I was crying so hard. We were a close family and the weekends were special to us."
"This house used to be filled with family and friends. My mom always encouraged us to bring our friends home, which we did. It was open house on Friday nights for my dad's famous barbecues. Sometimes half my class would show up. I'm telling you this place was packed. Yet, it wasn't just for us kids either. My parents' friends and the neighbors attended as well. It was a year-round event. During the winter months, we held it in the sports pavilion. I must show you that complex tomorrow."
"I needed to be around people my own age. Living here alone was too much. That's when I made the move to Manhattan. Now of course, there's Karl and you to keep me in Manhattan."
"Who is Karl, I never heard you mention him before?"
"I met him over a year ago. The reason I never told you about Karl before was because I was not sure if this was going to last. I've been down that road once and gotten burned, I wanted to make sure this was going to last before I said anything."
Kip smiled, "And here I thought you were waiting until I was 21 before popping the question to me?"
Kyle laughed, "Baby if I thought I had a chance with you I wouldn't have waited to pop the question."
"Well, I'm happy for you," Kip said. "When do I get to meet my competition?"
"In a few months, as Karl will be in Germany for the next several weeks. He won't be back in the States until December. Come with me to my brother Paul's suite, I want you to see if any of his clothes will fit you."
They left the dining room and headed to the second floor.
"There are ten bedrooms on this floor; four suites and five bedrooms. Paul and I shared the larger suite. It's the only one that shares a large den."
Kyle led the way to the right wing and into a large comfortable den. It had a large fireplace set between two wide floor-to-ceiling French doors that faced the garden. To the right and left of the room were doors that led into the bedrooms. Kyle led Kip into the bedroom on the left, Paul's room. It was the typical college man's bedroom with built in bookcases and open shelves with the trophies and plaques he had won over the years. One section had photographs and snapshots of Paul growing up, with a large photograph of the family hung to the side of the grouping. What caught Kip's attention was that it included each of their signatures.
Kip said, "You certainly were a handsome looking family. What is the reason for the signatures?"
"That was Paul's sense of humor. He said we would all be famous one day and this picture would be worth a lot of money. Paul had a wonderful sense of humor and a creative mind. He was quite the well-rounded athlete. Unlike me, he was an outgoing, terrific person. He had that charismatic personality that drew people to him like a magnet. Paul woke up with a smile on his face every morning and stayed that way all day. He never had a bad word to say about anyone and refused to listen to gossip. He was a wonderful brother and I loved him dearly. I don't know what God's plan is, but it's sure difficult to understand why he had to take my whole family at once. They gave so much to everyone and made so many people happy."
"Where is it written, that life was going to be easy, Kyle? You've got to accept the hand that you're dealt and do the best you can with it."
"You're right," Kyle said. He led them into Paul's dressing room. "I won't be offended if you don't want any of Paul's wardrobe. Most of his suits were brand new, the rest of them he hardly wore. Paul had his favorites and liked to walk around most of the time in jeans or his Yale sweats, or his pullovers and anything the team was wearing that day. Of course, the folks made him dress for dinner. Paul complained a lot but with good humor. Why don't you try on his tuxedo first? You'll need one for dinner tomorrow night." Kyle slid the clear glass door back and took out the black tuxedo for Kip.
Kip took off his shirt, jeans and shoes and tried on the tux. "It's a perfect fit. I thought you would be the same size as Paul. Here try on everything." Kyle adjusted the suspenders and cummerbund after Kip slipped on the black shoes. He had him slip on the coat again. "Perfect, Kyle said. "How do the shoes feel?"
"As if they were made for me," Kip said.
"Great! Now while were at it, select a suit to wear for this evening and brunch tomorrow."
"Why don't you select for me?" Kip asked.
Kyle picked out two Versace suits, one tan, and the other blue with accessories to complement each. To complete the outfits he chose a pair of light brown and black Ferragamo shoes.
"Here, try this lot on for size."
"Well, what do you think?" Kip asked.
"You look like you stepped off the cover of GQ. The light colors complement your tanned complexion. My little brother has turned into a handsome young gentleman."
"You noticed that too? Sue Ann tells me that all the time," Kip said smiling.
"Was Sue Ann's nose out of joint when you took off this weekend?"
"You've got that right; she was not a happy camper. She wanted me to take her to a christening Sunday afternoon. I feel it is too early to get involved in any family gatherings. I don't want to get too serious with Sue Ann at this stage of my life, or with any other woman for that matter. There's time for that after I graduate. She's a great woman and I enjoy her company, but I know she wants more out our relationship than I'm willing to give. We agreed to an open relationship, but now she wants us to go steady. As much as I enjoy sleeping with her, I'm going to have to cool down the relationship. This weekend is a good start."
"You're young and have plenty of time to sow your wild oats before you settle down. Why don't you spend some time this weekend going through Paul's things and decide what you want to keep. Whatever you don't want, let Walter know, I'm still not ready to tackle that job. Since this will be your room in the future, you can decide what clothes you want to move to the apartment and what stays."
"Are you sure this is what you want, Kyle? Seeing me in Paul's clothes may trigger some unpleasant memories for you."
"Not at all, Paul spent most of the time in those beat up jeans and Yale shirts, and that's how I remember him. Promise me you won't dress in any of Paul's Yale clothes. I'll have Walter pack them up with the rest of the discarded clothing."
"Don't worry, I'll take care of everything, and Kyle, I really appreciate this."
"You're welcome, we have the rest of the afternoon left. Would you like to ride around the property for a couple of hours, or would you rather see the rest of the inside?"
"I'd like to ride around the outside first and if we have enough time before dinner, we can continue the grand tour of the house."
"Fine, I'll call the stables and have them saddle a couple of horses."
Kip was sitting across from Kyle in their suite having a nightcap. "This has been a fantastic weekend, Kyle. You certainly know how to entertain. The longer I know you, the more I see of your world. I never realized what a complex man you are. This weekend has really been a revelation for me. I have one question, big brother, when did you decide I was ready?"
Kyle smiled, "You're a clever young man. I was right about you from the beginning. I can almost see the little wheels turning around in that sharp brain of yours. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were a Petersen. Actually, I had decided three months ago after I had a conference with your teachers. I needed to know everything about you. I've kept close tabs on you since the day we met in the park."
"I have quite an extensive file on you. Actually, the file goes back to the day you were born in Germany. Personally, my instincts about you proved to be correct. Yet, sound judgment is based on facts, not on gut feelings alone. In my position I can't afford to make mistakes. I'm pleased with the way you have matured, and also in the promise you made to me two years ago. You never once broke the rules, even though you had many opportunities to do so while I was in Europe."
"For the past two years I've been gradually introducing you to my way of life. You see, I didn't want to overwhelm you with everything at once. My shrink assured me that you had to be brought along slowly, because of your history. As we became good friends, and you didn't feel threatened, you made the transition. You put your trust in me and accepted my way of living. After you completed your second year in college with such high marks, I felt you were ready. I've told you that I was a wealthy man, but that really meant little to you unless you can see with your own eyes the trappings of wealth."
"You come from a comfortable middle class family background. But, I don't think your clothing allowance would come close to the $80,000 wardrobe in Paul's dressing room. Incidentally, on your next visit, I'll have Walter take you up to the storage room on the third floor. I'd imagine there is another $150,000 worth stored up there you should go through. I mention this only so you will have some understanding of how we lived."
"My mother hired a fashion consultant that advised her of the latest fashion trends. Then they would have a small group go through our wardrobes and replace the out-of-fashion items. We never had to go to a store to shop, they came to us. Walter took our measurements and that was it. Of course, Paul's wardrobe is over two years old, but most of his clothes are always in fashion. I'll make sure that's taken care of when you make your decision."
"These last three years with you have been great, you have filled a void in my life that has been missing since I lost my family. I really enjoy your company. I want to be your benefactor if you will let me. It bothers me, to see you wasting your talent for that job at the Plaza."
There were tears in Kip's eyes after Kyle finished speaking. "I'm having a hard time controlling my emotions right now. You'll pardon me if I loose it. You are the kindest and most caring person I've ever known. I never thought I'd ever say this to another man, but I love you, as a brother. You've become so much a part of my life that I don't want to loose you. You've encouraged me and gave me strength to go on."
"I had already decided to accept your offer yesterday morning before I saw this magnificent estate. You're giving me the opportunity to make something out of my life and I intend to do exactly as you said. I hope that Karl appreciates you, because you are one super person and you deserve the best."
"Thank you, little brother. I'm so happy you have decided to accept my offer. You won't regret it, Kip."
"I haven't regretted anything so far. Now, tell me about your lover? How is it I've never met him?"
"I met Karl years ago on one of my trips to Germany. Karl was the managing director of our German operations. My dad was in the habit of taking Paul and me on his business trips. He believed that Paul and I should learn as much as we could about our overseas operations. That's why we learned to speak German and Spanish at an early age. My father envisioned us running the company when he became chairman. One of us would handle the overseas operations and the other the domestic. After I lost my family in that car accident three years ago, I inherited everything."
"Over the years, I learned quite a bit about the family business. Not only from working in the office every summer, but also from the every day events Dad would discuss with us over dinner. It was a family business and my parents instilled in us the importance of keeping informed about the important decisions that he made regarding the business."
"The death of my entire family at one blow was completely devastating to me. I'm sure you know the feeling Kip. The one thing that helped me cope with that tragedy was the overwhelming desire to make my father's dream come true. The family business would continue and the next generation of Petersens would take over from me in the future."
"Since the reins were handed over to me, I elected to take an active role in running the company. Naturally, I had to rely on the support and advice of the executives that were managing the various divisions. Karl was really my first challenge. Karl's family originally owned one of the European divisions before my family bought controlling interest in the firm. He was an excellent manager but, after my father's death, he wanted to buy back control of the division. He definitely did not want to take orders from a 21-year-old college kid. He made that quite clear."
"My father had anticipated something like this might happen when Karl took over from his father. Of course, my dad could have stopped Karl dead in his tracks, but he felt that Karl was talented and he would rather have him as a partner than a competitor. Karl was an aggressive, competent executive and Dad didn't want to loose him. He felt he could control him and harness that talent for our mutual advantage."
"But, I was not my dad and I didn't really know Karl that well. That's when I decided to make a trip to Germany to see what I was up against. What I discovered was the most sophisticated, charming, handsome man I had ever met. After several meetings with the Karl, I was able to pierce that hard shell. I found the love of my life. Not only was he a handsome man, he was also the most passionate lover I have ever known. He came from an aristocratic background. His family was well respected in Germany for generations.
"Unfortunately, my wonderful lover was happily married with two adorable children. That is one of the big problems with our relationship. It sounds like a story right out of the TV soaps. Naturally, we both have to keep our relationship secret. If it ever got out it could hurt too many people. That's one of the reasons you've never met him. He never comes to the apartment. I maintain a suite at the Waldorf. Karl's division maintains a suite at the Waldorf as well which happens to be one floor above mine. We also have the same type of arrangement in Munich. It's not the ideal arrangement but, it works for us. So that's the reason I make so many trips to Germany."
"Now I think you can understand why I like having you around. It is hard enough when circumstances force you to be separated from the person you love, but I found it difficult to live alone after being used to living with a large family."
Kip chuckled, "You better be careful with Karl. It sounds to me as if he's locked into a sweetheart deal. If he plays his cards well he can get the whole ball of wax. I think I better meet this guy."
"Yes, Kip, I think you should. Would you like to come with me to Germany next month to meet Karl?"
"I would like that. If you can spare a day while we're there, maybe you could come with me to see my old home in Heidelberg. Of course, before I make any plans, I need to talk to the Dean's office at NYU and to interview for the job with your company. After I have that squared away, I must visit my mother in Boston."
"How would you feel about transferring to Columbia University, Kip? I've talked with the Dean and he told me that you could enroll in their accelerated program with the new group that's starting next month?"
"Wow! Columbia, that is the best," Kip said. "But, Kyle, their tuition is much more than NYU."
"There you go again with the money! Don't sweat that job interview, little brother, because you'll be working for me. I've already talked to my VP of Finance and you're scheduled to interview with him at 9 on Tuesday morning. He also has the agreement ready for you based on the proposal I made you on Friday. Besides which, he will explain how your expense account works and give you a company credit card. What's wrong Kip, why are you staring at me like that, have I upset you again?"
"You've haven't upset me. It just that I'm caught it a whirlwind that is not of my making. What scares me a little is that you knew instinctively that I was going to accept your offer before I had given you my answer. Mind you, it's not that I'm ungrateful, in fact, I think it's terrific. This is quite a change for me. Before I met you, I had taken control of my life, such as it was. I'll admit it was a constant struggle ever day. But it taught me a lesson, that if I was to survive in this world, I had to stand on my own two feet."
"After I was raped, I realized that there is always going to be someone around, who was willing to pay the price to get what he wanted. Instead of making me his boy-pussy, he made a man out of me. I lived a sheltered existence up to that point. But, that incident taught me what a jungle it is out there."
"Now it appears all that has changed. I'm afraid I'm losing my independence by allowing you to take control of my life. I don't know how this will eventually turn out. It would be different if we were casual friends, but we're more than that. I'm fond of you and I don't want to be shut out of your life. I'm convinced that you would be deeply hurt if I did not accept your most generous offer. You have devoted a lot of your time and energy to helping me."
"Kip, I don't expect you to give up your independence because of my offer. What I'm doing is allowing you the opportunity to grow. Why is that so wrong? Why shouldn't I do something good with my money? I certainly can't take it with me. Of course I knew you would accept my proposal mainly because you're an intelligent young man. There is no logical reason for you to refuse." Kyle smiled, "When do you think you'll be able to make the trip to St. Thomas?"
Kip laughed, "You're one smooth cookie, it's easy to see why you have Karl and everyone under you're spell. Well Bro, I'm tired, so before you have me jumping through any more hoops, I say, thank you, and good night."
"Smart move, I'll think I do the same," Kyle said as he stood.
Kip was almost to the door when he turned around and walked back to where Kyle was standing. He wrapped he arms around him and kissed him on the cheek. "I love you Bro, see you in the morning." He released Kyle turned around and walked out of the room.
It was so spontaneous and natural that it took Kyle a minute to react. He smiled and stared at Kip as he left. It wasn't until he crawled into bed that he thought about their conversation and Kip's warm embrace. Even though it only lasted a few moments, it was enough for Kyle to realize that there was something magic between them. He couldn't respond to Kip at the time because that embrace sent a marvelous feeling throughout his entire body. He knew he didn't want it to end. Kyle was troubled because he knew what that meant and he did not want to complicate their relationship by falling in love.
Kip was much happier at Columbia. After the first three months he became comfortable with the new arrangement. Now that he had some spare time on his hands, he took Kyle's advice and joined the New York Athletic Club. They didn't see as much of each other since Kip began his new program at Columbia.
Kyle was overseas most of the time. The money markets in Europe and Asia were hurting the U.S. exports business dramatically. Just as Kyle solved one problem, another cropped up in another country. Frankly, he was tired of the traveling and wanted to stay home for a while. He was scheduled to fly home to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with Kip. They spoke several times a week and kept abreast of what was going on.
Kip broke up with Sue Anne, and decided not to become involved in another relationship until he finished college. If Sue Anne had been a little smarter, and given him more rope, he wouldn't have gotten away. It was all for the best, Sue Anne was one of those young women looking for her MRS Degree. She decided if it was not Kip, then it was going to be some other man. She was determined to end up with her future husband before she graduated.
Kip was spending his weekends at Petersen Manor while Kyle was abroad. He was having more fun now that he made the acquaintance of the college crowd at the country club. Kip got a kick out of inviting his friends to the Manor for Sunday brunch to watch their faces after they had a chance to look around.
Kyle arrived back at the apartment on Tuesday afternoon. After a bowl of soup, he went to bed and sleep through until six o'clock the next morning. After a shower and breakfast, he started to feel much better. George told him that Kip had called several times. He was staying at the Manor and asked Kyle to call him when he awoke. Kyle told George to order the limo for his trip to Old Greenwich.
Kyle dialed the Manor, "Hi, Walter, is Kip there?"
"No sir, he is riding at the moment, but he took his cellphone along in case you called. Do you have that number, sir?"
"Yes I do, Walter. I should be leaving within the hour and will be there for lunch."
Kyle redialed, "Hi, Bro, how's the weather in your neck of the woods?"
"Kyle!! I was beginning to get worried. George said you went to bed before six last night. Are you alright?"
"I'm fine now, I'm sorry, I should have called, but I was so tired I couldn't keep my eyes open. Do you have anything planned for today?"
"No, I left my calendar completely open until I heard from you. What are your plans?"
"None, I plan to hang loose and unwind," Kyle said. "I should be home for lunch and we can talk then. If you had planned to do something with your friends, go ahead, don't let me stop you."
"Don't be silly, even if I did have something planned, I'd cancel it. Catch you at lunch."
"Welcome home, Mr. Petersen, it's good to have you home again," Walter said. "Mr. Schmidt is in the second floor den, sir."
"Thanks, Walter, it is good to be home."
Kip was typing away on his computer as Kyle walked into the den. When he saw Kyle, he jumped up with a big smile on his face.
"Kyle!" He took him in his arms and hugged him. "God, it's good to see you again, sit down and let me look at you."
"Hi, little brother, you look terrific, this country air does wonders for you."
"It looks like you could afford to spend some time in the country. You look tired; this trip has taken a lot out of you."
"I am tired; I've been pushing myself too hard. How much time do you have off from school?"
" I don't have to be back until a week from next Monday."
"Did you have anything planned for Thanksgiving?"
"Nope, I'm at your disposal. You realize you owe me something like 24 Sundays. Don't think I'm going to let you off the hook either."
Kyle chuckled, "What, doesn't those two weeks we spent in Spain and Germany earn me any me any bonus points?"
"Okay, if you're going to play hard ball, I'll knock off nine days."
"How do you figure nine days, we were gone fourteen days?"
Kip smiled, "Ah yes, but Karl spent five of those days with us, so dear brother, those five days don't count."
Kyle laughed, "I can see I've created a monster. How about we take off this afternoon and spend the rest of your vacation in St. Thomas?"
Kip was smiling from ear to ear, "Right-on brother. What time are we leaving?"
"Let me call the charter service to see if they have a jet available." Kyle made the call and hung up the phone. "We take off at three o'clock this afternoon. Will that give you enough time to pack?"
"You bet... OK, Kyle, but you still owe me four days when we get back. Why don't you have Walter pack our bags?"
"Yes, master, anything else?"
"If there is I'll let you know," Kip said laughingly as he turned off his notebook computer and closed it up. "I need to take this along just in case things get boring. Seriously though, I'll need to spend some time on this program that I promised to turn in to my boss next week."
"How are you doing at the office?"
"Great, I'm really enjoying my job and the staff is super."
"How are you doing at Columbia?"
"God, what a difference, it's a new world for me. It's not that NYU isn't a good school, but Columbia reminds me more of the schools I went to in Germany. The professors are first class. I've met so many interesting people there. It's really an exciting and stimulating learning environment. I still try to keep in touch with a few of my friends at NYU for a beer, but less frequently now. I just don't have the time anymore. While you were away, I spend my weekends here. I love this place and I've been using our Sundays to have some of my new found friends in for brunch."
"I'm glad that you're keeping yourself busy and amused. As you know, my parents liked their Sunday brunches."
"And speaking of parents, how is Karl?"
"He's fine, thank you; he sends his regards."
"I had hoped you would have become friendlier to Karl after your stay in Germany? I gather you still don't like him, Kip?"
"No, I don't like him, but he's not my lover. I guess I'm old fashioned when it comes to marriage or for that matter any meaningful relationship between two people. I'm not willing to share the person I love with anyone else. How can a married man like Karl justify his relationship with you? He's married for Christ's sake. It's your life to live anyway you want, but you are also my friend, and I don't want to see you get hurt. I'm sure Karl loves you in his own way, yet I don't think he will ever leave his wife and children to live with you. Does Karl's wife know he is bisexual?"
"Of course not!"
"Am I making you uncomfortable knocking your relationship with Karl?"
"How did you discover he was gay?"
"We met in an exclusive gay bar and one thing lead to another until we became lovers?"
"Are you hoping that Karl will leave his wife for you?"
"He said he would after his children are out of the nest."
"How long have you been lovers?"
"Four years now."
"How old are his children?"
"The youngest boy is fourteen."
Kip smiled and shook his head, "Well, that's not too bad, you only have to wait another four years. Look, tiger, I've got to pull some things together for Walter to pack, so I'm going to run along."
"No. Wait a minute! Why are you so skeptical about Karl? You really don't think he'll leave his family for me, do you?"
"No I don't, not for you, or any other man. But, that's only my opinion. I'm just a college kid, what do I know about life in the fast lane?"
"Are you jealous of my relationship with Karl? Are you afraid you would be pushed aside if I married Karl?"
"Why should I be jealous of Karl? It hasn't changed anything in the last three years I've lived with you, so why would it change anything in the future. Even if he did decide to live with you, Germany will always be his home, and certainly, he would not be willing to live here in Connecticut. Karl is a big man in Germany and is a product of the Austro-German aristocracy. He is used to that way of living. He has that old world charm, and granted he's attractive. You forget, I'm a German, and my ancestors date back to the same aristocracy as Karl's family. I know how Karl thinks."
"Again, my only concern if for your well-being, I don't want to see you hurt. You deserve the best, and Karl, as far as I'm concerned, is not good enough for you. Your only chance of marrying him is if his wife dies or leaves him. Karl will never sue for a divorce. First, he is a German aristocrat; second, he enjoys his position and power; third, he is rich; and finally he loves his sons. He would dishonor his family name with a divorce, even if his wife learned about you, she would never grant him a divorce."
Kyle had a sad look in his eyes as he let out a deep sigh, "I wish you were available, you would make the ideal mate for me," he said as he stood and walked toward his dressing room.
The taxi dropped them off at their villa. "This is absolutely beautiful, Kyle, you do have good taste."
"Thank you, it is rather nice and has been in the family for years. I had it completely renovated and redecorated after the folks passed away. I'm glad you like it. Why don't we freshen up and head into town to one of my favorite restaurants for dinner. We can sit on the veranda and look down at the entire harbor while we enjoy our dinner."
"That sounds very inviting."
They sat sipping an after dinner brandy with their coffee while enjoying the view. "Kyle, I'm sorry I was so hard on Karl this afternoon. I should learn to keep my opinions to myself about Karl."
"That's all right, I'm not upset. I know you meant well. Don't think I haven't asked myself where my relationship is headed with Karl. He was my first lover. I've been very happy with him up to now. I walked into this relationship with my eyes wide open. Most Europeans accept extra marital affairs as a way of life. Karl is not any different from any other European man. When he said he wanted me for his lover I was in seventh haven. I believed him when he said that one day we would be together as a couple."
"I was willing to accept that type of arrangement. It worked out well for both of us. I certainly did not intend to move to Germany and he felt the same way about moving to the US. We both have businesses to run and that comes first. Maybe we'll never end up together, but for now, I plan to continue our relationship as it is. I happen to be in love him and I know he feels the same for me. If I had been more mature at the time, I probably would never have gotten involved with him in the first place. I let my heart rule my head."
"It was stupid of me to become involved with a junior partner who was running my business overseas. If you think about it, I'm skating of very thin ice. I plan to be very careful in how I handle Karl from this point on. Don't forget he wanted to buy me out three years ago. If push comes to shove it could become an issue again. Karl has some advantage, but that is not going to happen right now."
"Enough of my love life, it's getting late and I bushed, let's head back to the villa. Oh incidentally, I rented a sailboat for the week. I thought we could do some island hopping and scuba diving. Are you up for that?"
"Sure and long as you teach me how to scuba dive and to water ski; I'm a city boy, remember?"
"Don't worry, I'll teach you."
"How do you like sailing so far?" Kyle asked.
"It's absolutely fantastic. It's so relaxing and peaceful. To me it's just a delight to the senses. I enjoy the sound that the wind makes through the sails, the gentle rocking of the yacht as she cuts through the water, and the fresh clean smell of the sea. I've never slept better," Kip chuckled, "it would be heavenly if I could do something about your snoring? Oh well, I think I can put up with it one more night."
"Poor misguided lad that you are, you don't even realize that it's your own loud snoring that woke you up, not mine. Come on, why don't you admit it?"
"That's it, blame it on the kid," Kip said smiling. "The only reason I didn't wake you up is because you needed your sleep. Come over here and lay down while I rub some more sun block on your back. You look a little pinkish."
Kyle got up from his deck chair and lay faced down on the air mattress next to Kip.
"Wow, your neck muscles are in knots. Let me work on your neck and shoulders for a while."
Kip straddled Kyle's hips and began rubbing the oil into Kyle's taught neck muscles.
"You want to talk to me about it? What's bothering you? You should know by now that you can't shock me. Christ, I'm your best friend. Now, out with it."
"Do you remember a Dr. Braun that was trying to get in touch with me?"
"Yeah, I remember, he was a persistent guy, as I recall," Kip said.
"And do you remember me telling you that it was my father's wish to see his grandchildren join the family business before he died?"
"Sure, every father wants that, you're father was no exception."
"Well I'm the last of the Petersens and I've been struggling with this for some time, even before my dad died. I want to see the name carried on. Dr. Braun's organization is in the business of finding surrogate mothers for families that can't have children."
"Two years ago, I hired him to find several women that would be suitable candidates to conceive my children. After months of intensive searching, he found two women that would be ideal mothers. They were a perfect match so I selected both women. They were impregnated with my sperm by artificial insemination six months ago. Both women are doing fine and the babies will be born in February. As luck would have it, I have fathered three children, two boys and a girl. The twins are a boy and a girl."
"That's wonderful news, how marvelous. Now I'm going to be an uncle. This is cause for a celebration. Okay, let's have it all, you're holding something back. Surely there must be more to it than just the kids?"
"Yeah, I'm getting to that. I've felt guilty not telling you before this, but the doctor said not to jump the gun until everything was okay. Too many things could go wrong during the first six months of pregnancy according to the doctor. That why I didn't say anything. However, it was more than that, Kip; I felt badly that I broke my word to you. If you remember, I told you that I would discuss anything that would affect our living arrangements. Certainly, this is one of them."
"I know it's a lot to ask you, but here's the sticky part. I don't want you to leave me. I'll need you around more than ever. With my upcoming travel schedule, I won't be in the country as much as I had planned. Had I heeded the warning signals on this money market I wouldn't need to be running around plugging the leaks. You're the only one I would trust to take charge during my absence in case an emergency situation erupts where I can't be reached. You won't have to take care of them or anything like that. They will have a full staff to take care of them, twenty-four hours a day."
"I know it's a lot to ask, but I intend to pay you well if you will take this on."
"You know I should strangle you right now," Kip said. "You just hurt my feelings big time, buddy. Why would you think I would turn you down on anything this important? My God, you have done so much for me that it will take me a lifetime to pay you back. Listen to me, Kyle, there isn't anything I wouldn't do for you and you should know that by now. I'll be happy to do this for you."
"I'm absolutely thrilled that there will be children around the house. Don't take so long the next time to tell me what troubling you. Forget about paying me, it will be a privilege to take care of your children. Oh God, you stop that sniveling right now, or as my mother used to say, I'll really give you something to cry about."
Kip smiled and bent down and kissed Kyle on the cheek and whispered, "It's okay, you go ahead and cry, I promise not to spank you."
"I love you, Kip."
"I know," Kip said and he continued massaging Kyle. He could feel him relax under his fingers as the tension faded away. By the time he finished Kyle had fallen asleep. Kip stood up to stretch his cramped legs and lay down on the mattress next to Kyle and fell asleep. When he woke up two hours later the sun was low in the sky. Kyle was lying on his side staring at him.
"Feeling better?" Kip asked.
"Like a new person now that I know everything is okay between us. The Captain wants to know if we want to eat dinner on board or go ashore for dinner tonight. He said that the restaurant at the yacht club on this island is four-star rated. It's up to you."
"Well, I feel like dressing up and stepping out tonight."
"Sounds like a plan," Kyle said. "Let me tell the Captain. Would you like a wine cooler?"
"Hey, that would hit the spot, thanks Kyle. Ask the good Captain how much time we have before we tie up at the yacht club."
Kyle came back carrying the two wine coolers. "We will be docking in three hours and we're all set for dinner at the club tonight, the Captain reserved a table for us."
Kyle lay back down on his air mattress and turned on his side to face Kip. "Thanks for what you did before. You don't know what this means to me."
"You realize the apartment is going to be kind of small for three babies and a live-in staff don't you?" Kip said.
"Yes, I've already taken care of that. I've bought the two penthouse apartments on the top floor of the building. They will be completely renovated into one large penthouse. By the time the babies arrive we should be moved in. You'll go wild over our bedroom suite. It's twice the size of the old one. One wall will have a ceiling to floor glass wall. The apartment is so bright; it will be great for the kids. They'll even have a screened-in outdoor play area. If I had seen those penthouses when I bought the building, I would have bought them back then. I'm really excited how things have turned out."
"There is something I need to talk to you about, Kyle; do you feel up to talking about your brother, Paul?"
"Sure, what would like to know?"
"I invited Sally and Jack Sanford, among my other guests to my Sunday Brunch last month. I knew they were very close to your family, but I felt there was something in the way Sally reacted toward me that was troubling. Sally kept calling me, Paul. After a while, I stopped correcting her. I asked them to stay after the other guests left. That's when I enquired about Paul. Sally finally admitted that she almost fainted when I walked into the room the day we first met. She thought she was seeing Pauley's ghost."
"Later she admitted that from a distance, I looked like her Pauley, but admitted when we were face-to-face that I was better looking. She did say that many of my mannerisms were identical to Paul's. According to Sally, even my sense of humor and expressions were similar. She told me how close you all were as a family and in particular how close you and Paul were."
"While you were away, I finally was able to sort through the clothes that I was going to keep from Paul's dressing room. During the process, I accidentally found the hidden compartment in the back wall of his wardrobe. The compartment contained all sorts of gay paraphernalia including porno video tapes, dildos, leather thongs and a whole series of nude photographs of both you and Paul."
"In addition, I also discovered several shoe boxes filled with love letters you had written to Paul. I had not intended to read them, but once I began, I could not stop. The letters were so tender and beautiful. I felt I could almost visualize Paul through your letters. I've often wondered how gay men made love to each other, and now I know. Those tapes answered any questions I may have had. I disagree with Sally, Paul was indeed a handsome young man. He had a well developed physique." Kip smiled, "You made a handsome couple."
Kyle turned red as he chuckled, "Thanks, it's true, Paul and I were lovers. I never knew that Paul had saved all my letters. He did say he saved a few and reread them when he was down. I'm sorry you had to find them. I had completely forgotten about Paul's hidden compartment. Even if I did remember, I don't think I would have the inclination to get rid of his things. It wasn't until last year that I had the courage to sift through my families' personal effects. Too many memories come flooding back each time I began to go through their possessions."
"You know, Sally was not alone in her praises of Paul. Everyone loved Paul; he was just a wonderful person. He was a charming and friendly young stud who really liked people. I never heard him utter a bad word about anyone. He always found something nice to say about a person. Paul had a charismatic personality that drew people to him. He was an extraordinary individual and excelled at everything he turned his mind to."
"Paul was an outstanding athlete and an honor student as well. It's true, he did have a beautiful body and I loved every inch of him. He was my lover and best friend. We spent hours planning our future together. How we would eventually come out to the folks. We never thought of ourselves as your typical gay couple. We keep our orientation well hidden. We still dated and carried on a normal life to family and friends alike. We never had sex with other males. I love Karl, but our relationship has never reached the depth, or the intensity that Paul and I shared."
"Kyle, you don't have to answer this question, but I'll ask it anyway, do you feel for me the same way you felt about Paul?"
"In the beginning I felt that way, but not any longer. It's true; I was attracted to you because you bore a striking resemblance to Paul. I was already into a relationship with Karl when we met. I liked the idea of the brotherly relationship and the companionship we developed. Naturally, I was curious about you. You were a loner and looked like a lost soul. Your handsome good looks, your disposition, and your friendly manner reminded me so much of Paul."
"Of course, what you lacked in athletics you made up for in other areas. You are self-disciplined and know exactly what you want out of life. You're street smart and not afraid of any man. You have experienced more of life than Paul ever did. You were your own man at fifteen and you have matured well beyond your years. Today you are sophisticated, intelligent and charming, besides being a caring person."
"Paul was a gentle person, who lived his life in a sheltered existence; he was never exposed to the harsh realities of life. In time, he would have matured and would have taken his place in the family business."
"Sometimes, I feel that you are the older brother. You have a way of cutting through the chaff and get right to core of things. Over the years that I've known you, we have become close friends. I treasure that above everything else. I trust you and rely on your sound judgment. I enjoy your companionship and I treasure the hours we spend together. I know that in time you will make your mark in the world. Yes, one day will you find the woman of you dreams and start your own family. But, until that day I will continue to enjoy your company. Remember, no matter what happens in the future, I will continue to consider you as my brother and I will always love you, and take care of you, no matter what."
"Wow, you sure know how make a guy feel good," Kip said. "I'm glad that you see me for who I am, and not as Paul, as wonderful as he was. I'm flattered that you regard me so highly. That is quite an accomplishment. I've never thought of myself as being handsome. I've always considered myself as average in the looks department. But, as we know, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and if you think I'm handsome, I'll accept that premise and I won't let it go to my head. Now, I think we had better go below and get ready for dinner. I'm sure they will frown on the way we are dressed now, no matter how beautiful and sexy we are."
Kip opened the door to the nursery. Kay, the children's nurse, was sitting in the lounge chair reading her book. Kip whispered, "How is Chris doing?"
"I finally got him back to sleep again. The doctor thinks it's just colic. All we can do is keep his stomach warm and give him liquid Tylenol every four hours," Kay said.
"You go on to bed and I'll take care of Chris if he wakes up again. I'll activate my monitor. I'm working on a project I must finish up tonight anyway. I'll switch it back to your monitor when I turn in for the night. Kyle said he would be arriving in the wee hours of the morning. I'll leave a note for him to give Chris his medication when it's due again."
"His next medication is due at one-AM," Kay said. "The liquid Tylenol and his spoon is on his bureau. One spoonful only, and he can only have diluted Gator-Aid at room temperature. If he does wake up again, lay him on his stomach across your chest, or lay him on the heating pad. Your body heat will keep him warm and he'll fall back to sleep."
"Got it, try to get some sleep."
Kip was still working on his lap top when he heard Chris crying. He walked across to the nursery and took him back to his room.
"What's the matter little fellow?" He kissed him and felt his diaper. "Let's change that diaper and get you a bottle." Kip changed him, picked up his blanket and carried him back to his sitting room. He fed Chris his bottle. Chris was still fussing and couldn't seem to get comfortable. Kip gave him his dose of Tylenol and washed it down with more of his bottle. He sat down on his lounge chair and laid Chris face down on his chest and covered him with the blanket. He rubbed his back until Chris fell asleep.
"You smell so good, my sweet angel."
Kip kissed him on the neck. His little curly head and face were under Kip's chin. Kip picked up the report he was working and began to read.
Kyle walked into the den at 2 AM. He smiled when he saw Chris wrapped in Kip's arms, both sleeping soundly. He walked over to Kip and gently shook his arm. Kip opened his eyes and smiled.
"It's about time you got home, your partying too much these days."
"God, I wish that were the case. What's wrong with Chris? Where's Kay?"
"Don't get yourself in a tizzy. Kay has been up with him for the last two nights so I decided to take care of him while she got a good night's sleep. Anyway I enjoy my time with him, he such an angel. He is perfectly content lying on his uncle's chest. Do you have a problem with that?"
Kyle smiled, "Not at all. You two look so good together, I hated to wake you. God, I'm beat. I'm going straight to bed. I've got a lot to tell you tomorrow."
"Okay, sleep well, I'm going to put Chris back to bed with a hot pad on it lowest setting, that should keep him quiet."
Kip took Chris back to his crib and decided not leave the hot pad under him after all. He was afraid Chris could become entangled in the cord. He sat with him for ten minutes then left for his own room where he turned off his computer and headed for bed.
Two hours later Chris woke up again. Kip changed him again, gave him another bottle and sat in his lounge chair with him on his chest. They were still asleep the next morning when Kyle walked into the sitting room. Kyle picked up his camera and snapped several pictures. Kyle lifted Chris out of Kip's arms and took him back to the nursery and handed him to Kay.
"He slept with Kip last night," Kyle said. "Kip claims Chris is only content when he sleeps on his chest."
"Those two are like peas in a pod," Kay said. "Chris loves his Uncle Kip, no question about that. Are we still leaving at ten-thirty for the manor. Mr. Petersen?"
"Yes, and I'd better wake Kip, we don't have much time to waste."
Kip was gone by the time Kyle returned to their suite. He went into his bedroom, finished dressing and headed for the morning room for breakfast.
Kip walked in a few minutes later. "Good morning, you don't look good at all. Are you alright?" Kyle asked.
"I'm not running a temp, but I do feel like hell. I understand we're leaving for Old Greenwich in half an hour?"
"Would you rather stay here?"
"No, Greenwich is fine. We need to talk and it doesn't make any difference where we are."
"Sit tight, I'll be back in a minute, tell cook to fix me eggs and toast."
Kip was back in ten minutes. "Sorry about that, I had to order another limo for the trip. You, Chris and I will ride together. My little person is still under the weather and I want him to ride with me. The twins can ride in the other limo with Kay and Carol."
"You didn't have to do that, Kip."
"Be a good boy and eat your breakfast, or I'll send you to your room."
Kyle smiled, "Thanks, Kip, what would I do without you?"
"By the way you look, not very well. Look, if it would make you feel any better I could take a week off and we can run down to St. Thomas and do some sailing. What do you say?"
"Yes, I would like that. Good it's settled. You can arrange for everything. We should be able to leave Sunday afternoon. We will leave the kids at the Manor while we are gone. Let them get some fresh air into their lungs."
They finished breakfast and returned to their suite for their briefcases and laptops. Kip told George of their change in plans as they headed for the nursery.
"Time to go, Chris." Kay had packed a traveling bag for Chris with his medication and change of clothes. "What's the matter, sweetheart; do you want Uncle Kip to carry you?"
Chris smiled and nodded his head. With that, Kip stooped down, took him in his arms, and carried him downstairs and out into the waiting limo. After they settled in Kip said, "Chris would you like to lie down between Daddy and me and rest your head on my lap? There, that's much better." Kip covered him with a blanket and gently rubbed his back until he fell asleep.
"I'm concerned about this recurring stomach problem. I'm going to take him to The Children's Hospital for a complete work-up when we get back. I don't buy the crap his pediatrician keeps giving us. The twins aren't having the same problem."
"By all means, he should be tested, but I also feel that we should take all three children in to see the psychologist for testing," Kyle said. "I have the feeling that this little sweetheart is made to feel like an outsider. I've noticed that the twins tend to stick together and take sides against him. The twins get along just fine, but Chris is the odd man out. He is really a sweet child and he tries so hard to be accepted. I think that may be the cause of his stomach problems. I'm glad you have taken him under your wing."
"I love all three children, but I must confess that Chris has stolen my heart. I love him so much. I try not to let the twins see that I favor Chris over them."
"Don't think Chris doesn't know that. I only hope that he will be strong enough to accept when you leave. God knows, I'm dreading that day."
"Will you stop this depressing conversation; I'm years away from that point. I still have three years to go on my contract with you. By that time, the children will be in grade school. Now, what did you want to talk about?"
"First of all, Dr. Braun called me yesterday to let me know that everything is perfect with the three new babies He said he would be calling you in two weeks to see if you've come up with a name yet? I've decided to name my two girls April and Laura."
"I'm going to name my son Paul after your brother," Kip said.
"That's very thoughtful of you Kip, he would have liked that."
Kyle turned his head to look out the window. When he turned back, he had tears in his eyes.
"Karl has cancer. Do you remember me telling you about those backaches he was experiencing? Well it turned out that they were caused by a cancerous growth on one of his kidneys. They could not save the kidney at all. They started him on chemotherapy two days ago. It is very difficult to visit him for any length of time. He has so many friends and relatives visiting him that it is impossible to be alone with him. His wife and children are always around, it is so frustrating. The only time we can talk is when visiting hours are over in the evening. I'm sick with worry."
"This could not have happened at a worse time. Everything is on hold until Karl returns. Last week his Executive VP, Peter Hess, who is running the show, came into my office for my approval on a one-million dollar payment to one of our suppliers. Before I signed off, I asked Peter why he and the VP of Finance did not sign the check. I almost fell off my chair when he told me that Karl had to sign every check over $50,000.
I've never really gotten involved in Karl's operation of the business as long as he continued to show a profit. But, I'm finding out that Karl is an autocratic manager who surrounds himself with competent 'yes' men. Not only that, but most of his VPs are in their sixties. Not one junior executive is under fifty-five years old."
"Before I left yesterday, I sat down with Peter to review every executive in the firm. There was not one senior executive that I could promote to run this company. I told Peter we must hire a recruiter to find a man who could run the company. We wrote up a profile before I left yesterday. Karl will not be able to spring back that fast after his chemo treatments. When he does return, he will not be strong enough to put in a full schedule. I don't have the time to run that division; I have bigger issues on my plate. If you were ready I'd send you over there tomorrow."
"I'm completely drained both mentally and physically and I don't like spending so much time away from home. I'm homesick, I miss you and the kids and it is not fair to you. Kip, I'm thinking seriously of putting the whole overseas operation on the block. I have a lover in the hospital that I have to share with the damn world. What kind of life is that? If anything happens to Karl I'm going to hire a good manager and the let the company go co-op."
"You're upset right now, Kyle. Try to put everything out of your mind for the moment. We can discuss this next week and decide what to do. Don't worry about the kids and me, we're doing just fine. But, you will need to spend more time with them in the future. The more love you shower on them, the more you will receive in return. They are the ones that will comfort you in the future."
"Thanks, Kip, I'd be lost without you. You are the one stable factor in my life. I always feel better after talking to you. How is Cindy, will she be joining us for brunch Sunday?"
"I'm afraid not, we broke up months ago. Mary Howell is the flavor of the month now. However, she will not be joining us for brunch. She is more your basic barbecue girl. Cute as a button, but doesn't know the first thing about the care and feeding of a baby. But she does have other talents that I'm sure she would consider sharing with you if you're so inclined?"
Kyle gave Kip a dirty look, "I'll take your word for it, I'm not so inclined, thank you anyway."
"How are you ever going to know you don't like it unless you've tried it, Bro?"
"As a mater of fact, I did try for several years. I realized two things. I could only get hard if I closed my eyes and pretended that I was making love to Paul. I like men much more. Paul was the one that insisted that I make it with a woman."
"What about Paul," Kip asked. "Did he ever make it with a female?"
"Yes, he did, several times as a matter of fact. I really tried to encourage him to get more involved with women. But, he said he loved me and had no intentions of getting involved in a relationship with a woman. For the last few years, we double dated an attractive lesbian couple. It worked out perfectly. We even leased a two-bedroom apartment and had a ball. We became good friends. I still keep in touch after all these years."
"Your brother knew what he wanted out of life and knew what your parents wanted. If he were alive, I'm sure it would have worked out," Kip said.
"What about you, other than that time in high school, have you ever had sex with another male?" Kyle asked.
"Only the usual teenage sex when I was in private school in Boston."
"Did you like it?"
"Sure, I liked having sex, like any other teenager. Most of the guys masturbated and thought nothing of it. It wasn't an emotional thing. We never kissed, or anything like that. We did the usual thing teenage boys do at that age, but I never allowed anyone in the back door. I was always a top and I enjoyed it. I didn't discover pussy until my senior year in high school and that's all she wrote."
Chris started to stir on his lap. Kip rubbed his back, "Do you want to sit up and talk to Daddy and me, my pet?"
Chris started to raise himself and Kip picked him up and sat him on his lap. Chris rested his head against Kip's chest and turned toward his father and smiled. Kyle leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
"Would you like to sit on Daddy's lap for a while and let Uncle Kip stretch his legs?"
Chris reached for his father, so Kyle took him from Kip and sat him on his lap. Kyle kissed him on the head and cheek.
"Are you feeling a little better now, sweetheart?"
Chris nodded yes.
"Would you like some apple juice?"
Chris nodded again.
Kip reached into his carryall and pulled out the plastic cup and screwed on the special lid so the juice could not spill. He handed the cup to Chris.
"How long will you be staying in New York this trip?" Kip asked Kyle.
"For at least a couple of months, that is unless some unforeseen emergency crops up at Gabler Industries. I almost feel guilty leaving the children next week, but I need the rest."
"You are going, end of discussion," Kip said. "The kids will be fine. They have a competent professional staff taking care of them and a pediatrician not ten minutes from the house."
"You're right, I had better make arrangements to charter an aircraft and lease a yacht." Kyle said. With that, he picked up the phone and made the calls.
"Well, Kip, do you think you've learned enough from our management training program to be moved into one of the groups? How do you feel about the operation now that you've been working there two years?"
"I really like what I've been doing so far. The executive training program is super. All the managers I've worked for so far have been very helpful." Kip smiled, "I wonder if it's because they know I'm you're fair-haired boy?"
Kyle chuckled, "Maybe yes, maybe no. It's academic at this point, because you are my fair-haired boy and I happen to think you are an extremely intelligent, hard working young executive. Anyway, I'm the boss and they will do what I want. While I think of it, Kip, you'll be graduating in two months and I plan to give you a graduation party. I would like you to prepare a list of the people you would like to invite. Don't forget your professors as well. Actually, I'm planning two parties, one at the Waldorf and the other in Greenwich."
"You're kidding," Kip said. "Thanks, Kyle. This will be a real treat, I've never had a party given in my honor. You're really a super guy, in case I've never mentioned it."
Kyle and Kip arrived at the hotel at 6:30 Friday evening. The cocktail hour had begun at six. The grand ballroom was divided into two sections. The reception area was where the guests were greeted and given their assigned tables. Several service bars were scattered throughout the room to accommodate the invited guests. In addition to the service bars, waiters and servers circulated with trays of hors d'oeuvres and wine. A string quartet was playing at the far end of the room. At the prescribed time, the wooden partition would open and allow the guests to enter the main dining area.
"Oh my God, Kyle, did you invite the entire graduating class of Columbia University? My invitation list had 150 names. Who are all these people?"
"Calm down little brother, breathe deeply and smile, I've invited a few friends, some business associates, a few politicians and the news media. Don't worry, I'll be with you the entire time. Be your casual charming self and everything will be just fine. This should be a snap for a sharp guy like you, after that commencement speech you gave the other day. Now we should circulate."
They were only able to advance to about half the room before the doors to the dining area opened. The guests began to move into the room and seek their assigned seats. The servers moved about the tables and began serving dinner while the wine stewards served wine. After the desert dishes were cleared away and the coffee served, the Masters of Ceremonies stepped up to the dias and made his little speech.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to your host Mr. Kyle Petersen. (Applause - applause)
"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for joining me tonight to honor Kip Schmidt, a young man who is worthy of your praise. Kip's story is truly an American success story. He was born in Germany of American parents and migrated back to America with his parents at the age of nine. Tragedy struck Kip and his family without warning, and that shaped his life for the next several years. His beloved father, the breadwinner of the family died of cancer leaving Kip and his mother alone. After paying the hospital bills, Kip and his mother were broke and living modestly. The struggle took its toll on his mother, resulting in a paralyzing stroke and she had to be placed in a nursing home."
"If that wasn't enough, this young teenager was beaten and assaulted by a gang of drug pushers because he refused to become a pusher for their organization. The doctors were able to sew him back together, yet it took months of recuperation in the hospital to repair the damage done to his body. The police were afraid for his safety, and after he testified against the leaders of this gang, he had to leave town. He was relocated to New York to live with his only living relatives, his aunt and uncle."
"They were old and living in a cold water flat in Hell's Kitchen, just subsisting on their social security. They were not really up to the task of raising a teenager at that stage in their life. However, they took Kip in. Kip was a persistent young man who was determined to finish high school and go on to college. In spite of the personal tragedies, he found two part-time jobs to earn enough money to survive. Despite all the hardships, he maintained a high grade point average and was on the honor role for his last two years in high school, earning a four-year scholarship to NYU."
"I met Kip seven years ago and admired his drive and determination. This young man, who has suffered so much at the most critical time in his young life, did not allow this to affect his attitude toward life. His outlook toward his future remained positive, and he never lost his drive. I was curious about this and asked him how he was able to go it alone and not think about his tragic life."
"He told me that his parents had instilled in him a sense of values and after fighting to survive when he was at death's doorstep, he made up his mind that he would prevail. He told me, 'I never had the time to dwell on my misfortunes.' His time and energies were channeled into work and his studies. He fell into bed most nights exhausted and awoke each morning at five to begin his day, working seven days a week with little time for anything else."
"Kip has achieved his goal and is being honored tonight for his outstanding record of achievements. Kip Schmidt is a remarkable young man and a role model that any young teenager should attempt to emulate. It had been my privilege to know Kip and to be favored with his friendship. So that his achievements will be recognized for future generations to follow, I have endowed a scholarship in his name to honor him and his Alma Mater. If the Dean would step forward I would like to present him with this check for five-million dollars to institute the Christopher Schmidt Scholarship Foundation." (Applause)
The Dean came up and accepted Kyle's check. He thanked Kyle and made his speech. He went into Kip's outstanding record at Columbia and touched on how the Foundation would work.
After finishing his speech, he said, "And now ladies and gentlemen I would like to call our guest of honor up to the podium to say a few words."
Kip stepped to the dias.
"Thank you ladies and gentlemen, for sharing this memorable evening with me. Let me say that I was completely surprised when I walked into this ballroom this evening. I was lead to believe that this was to be a graduation party for a few of my friends. But to my delight and surprise, I found I was surrounded not only by my friends, but in addition, the who's who of New York's society. I am honored that you took the time to share this evening with me. I wish my parents could have lived to share this moment with me tonight."
"Earlier, Mr. Petersen had told you how, by sheer determination, I reached the pinnacle all on my own. That is not entirely true. If I have reached the top of the mountain, it is because of his help and support. I met Kyle Petersen at the lowest point in my life. I was for all practical purposes alone, depressed and without a real friend in this new and hostile environment. He became my friend, my benefactor and my mentor. Most of all, my good friends, I know that I could not have achieved this goal without his generosity. I am absolutely overwhelmed by that generosity and grateful to have known him. I thank God that our paths have crossed. Kyle Petersen is a true Good Samaritan. Thank you, Kyle, and thank you again, ladies and gentleman for making this such a memorable evening."
The audience gave him a standing ovation as he left the podium and returned to his table. The MC returned and announced that the band was there for their entertainment for those who cared to dance and would play until midnight.
Kip resumed his seat next to Kyle. He shook his head and smiled.
"Wow, what a wonderful evening, thank you, Bro. You are so full of surprises."
Kyle was grinning from ear to ear. "You're in for a lot more before I'm finished, little Bro. Come on let's mingle and get the glad handing over. We have to head back to Greenwich tonight."
It was a beautiful summer morning as Kyle and Kip walked out to the stable for their morning ride. The groomsman had their horses saddled and ready to go. They mounted and rode off toward the bridle path.
"How do you like your new jumper?" Kyle asked.
"He's quite a hand full, a bit headstrong at times, but we're getting along better these days. I've told the stable manager to cut back on his oats during the week and it seems to do the trick. Look, Kyle, we must have a serious talk. I know you have a big heart and I really appreciate everything you have given me, but this must stop. You're much too generous, almost to the point were I'm beginning to feel uncomfortable. You have given me so much for my graduation. The gold Rolex and that check for $5000 was enough. Hell the cost of my education was enough. That party last night and the foundation you set up for me is absolutely the most generous thing I can imagine. I'm even afraid to ask you what you paid for my son, Paul."
"What else am I going to do with my money, than spend it on the people I care about? You know how important you are to me. Please indulge me for now. I've been waiting for some time to present you with the new contract that I've drawn up. It only awaits your signature. Kevin Woodworth and I pulled it together last month. We both feel that you have done well in your executive training program. Based on that, we have decided on the job that would best suit your talent and ability.
As of July first, you will become Manager of the New Business development group. Again, if after three years you don't like the job, you can pick any slot you want in the organization. I'm starting you off at a salary of $100,000 with all the perks, stock options, incentive bonus, the whole nine yards. If you do as well as you have so far, you should be a VP in three years time. Since you have learned so much about our oversees operations, I thought you would be the ideal candidate to hunt around for new acquisitions. Kevin and I agreed to create this position for you. The fact that you know my businesses helps. I'm giving you three weeks to make your decision."
Kip stared at Kyle without saying a word. He pulled up his mount and dismounted. He leaned against his mount and began to cry. Kyle jumped off his mount and walked back to where Kip was standing and rubbed his back.
What's the matter Bro?"
Kip turned around and hugged him. He continued to sob for ten minutes.
Kyle held him and rubbed his back, "Its okay, cry all day if you want. I'm sorry I've overwhelmed you with all these things. I didn't want to make you cry, I want to make you happy. I'm so sorry, little brother."
Kip released Kyle and kissed him on the forehead. "Let's walk a bit, I can't ride like this."
They each slipped the reins over their mount's head and lead them along the trail. Kyle put his arm around Kip's shoulder as they walked ahead of the horses.
"You must be tired of hearing me lament about how generous you are, but it's the truth," Kip said. "You've never been poor so you'll never know what it's like. Did you know my father wasn't earning $75,000 dollars as a professor after twenty years of teaching? The gifts you gave last week were worth a third of his yearly salary. I'm living the life style of a wealthy man with servants at my beck and call, limo and private planes at my disposal. Not to mention the penthouses, estates, villas in the tropics, and residences in Europe. It's all so much, yet I enjoy every minute of it."
"Worst of all, Kyle, I'm happy with this way of living and I don't want it to end. Being a realist, I keep thinking that one day this will all end and I'll hit bottom and be very depressed. You see, I've lived through this once before and I don't want to set myself up for a fall a second time. I've tried deliberately not to get caught up in your world. When you asked me to come to live with you, I did so by casting myself in the role of a your employee and not your as your brother. Yet, you insist on treating me as your equal. Can't you see that I'm not your equal? I'm still your employee and a companion, nothing more. Unfortunately, I've became caught up in this golden web. I would like it to continue for a while longer for myself, Chris and Paul."
"Your relationship with Karl is unique and seems to meet both your needs. Today you seem to think differently after you've had a taste of what transpired in the hospital the last time. One day that may all change. Maybe you'll find another lover who will not want me hanging around. Then it will be good-by, Kip. That's the reason I don't want to get too cozy living with you, because it won't last."
"The same thing can happen when you get married," Kyle said.
"That's true, but the way my life has been going lately. I don't see that happening any time soon. Anyway, it will take a special woman to cope with me and two children."
"What two children," Kyle asked? "Are you holding out on me?"
"Didn't I tell you, when I leave I'm taking Chris."
"Then, it doesn't look like your leaving, because Chris stays."
"First of all, Kip, this will always be your home. Secondly, if I ever did find another lover, I'd make sure you have an apartment in the same building. No lover can ever force you out my life. I love you and that will never change. In time you will be earning enough money to live a very comfortable life, I'll see to that."
"Thanks for putting up with my slobering all over you. I'm flattered that you and Kevin think I'm such an asset to the firm that you are offering me this great opportunity, and before you change your mind, I accept your offer."
"Life could be so much simpler for us if you could become my lover. You must know how much I love you, baby. But, I don't want to complicate your life any more that it already is." He kissed Kip on the forehead. "Let's get back to the house and have breakfast. I promised the children a pony ride this morning."
"Yes, I'm starving," Kip said. "You're right, it would be much easier if I could love you the way you want. It bothers me that things couldn't be different. I can't give you the kind of love and affection you need. I do want you to know that I'm not bothered by your displays of affection. As long as you understand that it can't go any further. If you can live with that, then I won't feel so guilty."
"Thanks, Kip, I can live with that."
Kip smiled, "For the record, I think you are the most handsome man I've ever met. As I've told you before, if I swung that way, I'm sure you would prove to be a passionate lover."
They remounted their horses and returned to the stable. Kip was on a high riding back. He was entertaining Kyle by recounting some amusing incidents that occurred at his party. Kip noticed that Kyle's mind was somewhere else because he was not paying attention to his stories. As they were walking back to the manor house Kip asked, "What's wrong Kyle? All of a sudden I've lost you."
"I hadn't intended to bring this up now, but I must get this off my chest. Look baby, you really haven't experienced life yet. You've worked hard all your life and it's time you started enjoying bachelor life before you settle down to married life. You've never had the time to sow your wild oats up to this point. Now that your education is behind you and you're starting your business career, I think it's time for you to start to enjoy life. I've keep you under too tight a reign up to this point and you will never experience freedom while you are living with me. You need that freedom to spread your wings and not have to report home to me every day. Therefore, I've made a most difficult decision that is for your best interest."
"I've been agonizing over this decision for months, now it's time to go forward. I've been selfish in wanting to keep you to myself. This is not good for you, nor is it right. For the first time I'm doing what's best for you. This doesn't mean anything has changed between us, we will remain as close as always, but I think you should have your own apartment and start enjoying your life. Everything else will remain the same. You'll still share the penthouse apartment and the house in Connecticut."
"I would expect you to come home to see the kids as usual and to take your turn watching them while I'm out of town. Right now my present thinking is to buy one of the new penthouse apartments in midtown Manhattan that would be suitable for entertaining. Your new position is going to require you to do more entertaining, so this new apartment will be ideal for that. The company can write off most of the expenses."
"In the future, you will be reporting to Kevin. Again, I feel this will create a much healthier working arrangement for you. Kevin is a sharp businessman and you can learn a lot from him."
"This comes is a big surprise," Kip said. "I always thought I'd be your assistant, we've always worked well as a team. Why have you changed you mind?"
"As I said before, it is a decision based on what best for you. If you must know, you were the best assistant I ever had. That is not the issue. The problem is that I would hold you back for any future promotions. Hell, do you think I want to give you up. Yet, I know my weaknesses and you are my weak spot. If I were selfish, I'd keep you as my assistant. Yet, I know down the road you will want to make your own way. If I held you back, eventually you would come to resent me for this and find another company. In the end, I would not only loose a good executive, but most likely our friendship as well. I can't afford to risk that. I've already made the decision to hire a competent female as my executive assistant, in addition to some other changes."
"Can you share them with me?"
"Of course, I have no secrets from you, Kip. Nothing has changed between us. You still are my confidant and best friend. Always remember that. From now on, my main goal will be to raise my family properly. The business and everything else comes second. In order to do that I plan to work out of my home in Connecticut and use the Manhattan apartment only when necessary. I've signed a contract to have a video communications system set up between the house and headquarters and all the major division offices. They are also installing a site at my estate in St. Thomas and at my summer home in the Hamptons."
"I've purchased three aircraft for my personal use that will be ready for delivery in two months, and I've hired the necessary flight crews and maintenance support personnel. I plan to divide my time between three locations: St. Thomas, in the winter, summer in the Hamptons and Connecticut for the rest of the year. Of course the children will accompany me to each location. The modified 737 jet will be the aircraft to take the entire family plus my extra technical people and the Lockheed-V will be used for short trips. The helicopter will ferry us around the Northeast area."
"It looks like the typical Petersen well-planned operation," Kip said. "Obviously you've been working on this for some time. Tell me, Kyle, why did you wait so long to tell me what you were planning?"
Kip noticed the tears in Kyle eyes as Kyle turned to face him.
"Quite frankly, Kip, I expected a different reply from you. You see, I was interpreting the signals from you in a different way. Yet, I wanted to be sure where I stood with you. I thought you were falling in love with me. That is the reason I conceived this plan in the first place. In either event, I intended to go ahead with the plan based on your answer."
"You've lost me, Kyle? What do you mean, you expected what different answer?"
"If you were in love with me you would have stayed with me as my partner. I would have trained you to be my partner in my businesses. We could have raised our children together and still have time to run the business from anywhere in the world. That's what I meant, Kip."
"The jury is not in yet on you. In spite of what you telling yourself now, I still feel that one day you will be mine. The children and I will wait until you're ready. I've never wanted anyone as much as I want you. I love you as much as I loved Paul, only more so. You were right about my relationship with Karl. Now in retrospect, I classify that relationship as an affair. It's a mute point now because I don't intend to see him again. I loved Paul as I never loved anyone in this life, yet we were both immature. Had he lived, I think he would have become bisexual. The pressure to have a normal family life was too strong in him."
"Personally, I think he was still experimenting with sex, and our love for each other was taking him down the wrong path. He was only sixteen. He swung both ways; he was having sex with girls at the same time. I think in time he would have realized he would have gone straight."
"I have one last gift to give you and I don't want you to have a hissy fit. I promise not to give you any more expensive presents, but I find it very difficult to restrain myself from giving you gifts." Kyle smiled. "Wait until you see your engagement and wedding presents."
Kip shook his head and smiled, "You sir, are impossible. Am I going to like my graduation present?"
"I think you will, if you promise you'll act like a perfect gentleman," Kyle said. "I don't want you to wet your pants in front of our guests. Just smile and say thank-you."
Kip laughed heartily, "You're crazy."
"You bet, baby. Dinner is formal tonight, little Bro. Our guests should be arriving at six."
Kyle and Kip were both in the nursery. They were each holding one of the babies and feeding them their bottles. Chris was sitting on the chair next to Kip, "Sweetheart, are you going to protect your baby cousin, Paul?"
Chris smiled, and looked up at Kip, his big brown eyes sparkling, "I love Paul, Uncle Kip, will you let me hold him?"
Kip leaned down and kissed Chris on the forehead, "I love you too, sweetheart, and of course I'll let you hold Paul."
He rested Paul on Chris's lap as he supported Paul's head. He handed Chris the bottle and let him feed him. Chris leaned down and kissed Paul on the forehead.
Kyle watched the three of them sitting there together and smiled, "I wish I had a camera, this is one of those Kodak moments."
Kip smiled, "I never thought that I would like being a father, but now I realize how wonderful a child is. They give their love freely and they are so helpless. I think that is why I love them so much. Not just my own, but all of them. They are all so precious. After we finished feeding the babies, I think I'l have a nap before dinner if you don't mind. I couldn't fall asleep right away after last night's banquet."
"You go ahead; I'll wake you up in time for the party."
Walter knocked on Kip's bedroom door, "Mr. Kip it is time for your shower."
Kip was disoriented when he awoke, "What that, Walter?"
Walter opened the door and walked into the bedroom and switched on the lights. "Sir, its 6 PM, and you need to shower and dress for your party."
"Oh dear, I asked Kyle to wake me at five," Kip said. "Have the guests started arriving, Kip asked?"
"Yes sir, Mr. Petersen said you needed to rest and I was to wake you at six." While you're taking your shower, I'll lay your clothes out and help you dress."
"Thanks, Walter, I won't be long."
Forty-five minutes later Kip descended the grand staircase to the ground floor. He heard the sound of the string quartet coming from the living room. The downstairs had been transformed since lunchtime. The circular table in the center of the foyer was adorned with a large bouquet of yellow roses. Everything sparkled, it was the first time he had seen the house so festive. Bouquets of flowers adorned the tables and chests in every room. It certainly accented the elegance of these tastefully decorated rooms. The servers were dressed in white coats with gold piping and buttons and gold bow ties. Everything sparkled including the guests. Kip walked into the living room and greeted some of the guests he had met before. Many were new faces to him. He found Kyle surrounded by a large group of people in the middle of the room. Kip walk over and stood next to him.
Kyle smiled, "Feeling better?" he asked.
"Yes, much better, thank you."
Kyle put his arm around Kip's shoulder and led him over to the fireplace and said to all, "May I have your attention please. I'd like to say a few words to those of you that haven't met him yet; I would like to introduce my adopted brother, Kip. I want to thank you for joining us today. This is the first time in four years that I have opened this house for a party. It has been too long since I have seen your happy and smiling faces. I hasten to assure you that will change from now on. I had promised Kip I would not give my little speech about how he helped me get through my grieving, but, I feel that I have been fortunate that he was there for me when I needed him the most."
"I'm sure after you have had a chance to know Kip, you will learn to appreciate him as much as I do. Actually, this is his graduation party and an announcement that Kip has accepted my offer to join the firm. Enough said, or my talented protégé will skin me alive. Moreover, for your dancing pleasure this evening we have an excellent band and an open bar set up in the Sports Pavilion. One last thing, you are all invited to be our guest for brunch tomorrow between 10 AM to 2 PM. Oh, by the way, don't waste your time trying to steal Kip away from me because I've got him tied to an iron clad contract. Thank you again for coming and please enjoy your evening."
He squeezed Kip's shoulder, "Did that speech offend you, Bro?" Kyle asked.
"No, that was fine. This is the first time I've seen you lighten-up in front of a large group. You're always so reserved and serious. I like this side of you."
"You see, you bring out the best in me. Come on, let's get a drink, it's time to party." Kyle steered him over to the bar. Kip did not feel a bit uncomfortable having Kyle's arm around his shoulder.
"After we finish dinner I want to give you your present. We'll have to stick around in the foyer to say goodnight to about half the crowd that will leave after dinner. The rest will head over to the Pavilion. No speeches or crowds, just you and me, okay?"
"That's fine with me."
It was after ten when Kyle and Kip said goodnight to about 200 of the guests.
"I've never seen so many limos, Mercedes, Jaguar's and Rolls Royces concentrated in one spot," Kip said. "It's like the opening night at the Opera."
"Let's walk down to the stables, I want to give you your present," Kyle said. They walked around the drive to the rear of the house.
"Will you look at that, someone's parked that Mercedes smack in the middle of the driveway," Kip said. "I'd better call Walter. What a beauty it is, someone paid big bucks for that baby. I've never seen a four door hard top, have you?"
Kyle smiled, "She is that," Kyle said as he reached into his pocket. He handed Kip a set of keys. "That is your graduation present, baby."
Kip looked at the car, then back to Kyle, "Oh Kyle, what a wonderful gift, thank you so much." He threw his arms around Kyle and kissed him on the cheek. "You're a wonderful brother, I love you."
"Push that button in the middle of the remote. That will disengage the alarm system, unlock the doors, and turn on the lights."
Kip pulled open the door and sat behind the wheel. Kyle sat on the passenger side.
"The seat adjustment controls are on the door panel," Kyle said.
After Kip adjusted the seat the way he wanted, Kyle said, "Ken can give you a rundown on all the features tomorrow. Feel like taking a spin?"
"Yes I would, but I'd better not, I've had several glasses of wine at dinner," Kip said.
"Turn her around and take the road to the stables," Kyle said. "That road wraps around the inside of the property."
"What a super automobile, I can't even hear the engine running and the seats are so comfortable," Kip said.
"Look, baby, if you'd rather have a Rolls Royce we can get that instead. But, I thought you'd like the Mercedes better. I ordered this four-door sedan because it's roomy enough for us and the three older kids."
"No, this is perfect. I love the new car smell and the feel of the soft leather seats," Kip said, as he stopped the car and turned to Kyle. "You have made me very happy. This has been the most memorable week of my life and you made it all possible. It's hard to believe that our seventh year anniversary is in a few days. Our friendship has endured longer than most marriages. I shudder when I think back to what my life was like before I knew you."
"Kyle, sometimes I'm deeply troubled about our relationship. It bothers me that you are so generous to me. I feel that I keep taking from you and give nothing in return. I love you, but I am not in love with you. Yet in spite of my feelings, I don't want to leave, because I enjoy being with you. I don't feel that I am being fair to you. You are such a warm caring person. Don't think I'm not aware of those 'Kodak moments' like this afternoon in the nursery. I can see the love in your eyes. Those are special moments for me and I don't feel uncomfortable or embarrassed by your affection."
"I've never told you this, Kip, but when we met, I felt your spirit penetrate my body. It was the most wonderful experience ever. It was like the afterglow and tranquility I feel after I've had an orgasm. That is the only way I can describe it. That is the moment I knew that you would be an important part of my life. The more we were together, the happier I became. Until I fell deeply in love with you two years ago. Oddly enough, I understand the confusion you're feeling right now. But, I want you to stop worrying about our friendship as a ledger."
"I'm grateful that you have agreed to live with me and help me raise our children. I could never put a price tag on the many enjoyable hours you have given me. Stop beating yourself up with this guilt trip. I want your promise right now that you'll make an appointment with my psychiatrist next week and talk to him about your fears and doubts. As far as I'm concerned you're perfect in every way. But, I also don't want you losing sleep over this guilt trip you're on."
Kip smiled and shook his head; he leaned over and kissed Kyle on the cheek. "You always make everything right for me. Now let's get back to our guests."
"Baby, you just balanced your ledger. The beach house in West Hampton will be ready next Wednesday. I thought we could take the rest of the month off and spend it by the ocean. The sun and the fresh air will be good for the kids. What do you say?"
"Great, I think we can both use the rest. It will be wonderful doing nothing the next three weeks. Do you realize we've never spent that much time together. Maybe we'll end up crawling the walls after the first week."
"Quite frankly I think I would get antsy after the first week. Let's plan to just relax during the first week. After that we can get down to business."
Kyle said, "Kip, I want you to do a feasibility study on the cost of buying a manufacturing operation and relocating it to our operations in Canada. I have a feeling that we could save ourselves a bundle in the future. I've heard all the arguments in favor of the cheap labor markets in Asia and Mexico. I feel that we could lose our capitol investment down the road if we invested in those areas."
"The corruption in Mexico is too wide spread and the business environment has a long way to go before I'm willing to build a factory there. The Asian market is too unstable now and I feel that will continue in the future. China's attitude toward the United States troubles me and I'm not convinced that that their cooperation will continue over a long period of time. Canada is a stable and friendly neighbor. Not only that, they have a skilled and abundant labor pool with the raw materials we need and they honor their agreements."
"By the way, how did your first session go with the shrink?"
"I thought it went well," Kip said. "He has me on a three sessions per week program. I'm afraid to ask what this is costing you."
"Nothing at all, it is covered under your health insurance. Look, baby, if you don't like this doctor, you won't hurt my feelings if you want to make a change."
"No, I like him, as a matter of fact he broached the subject himself. But, I told him I thought it would be to my advantage since he knows you. I start seeing him on a regular basis starting next month."
Ten o'clock Wednesday morning, the Captain walked to the bow where Kip and Kyle were sunbathing. "Mr. Petersen, you have a call from a Mr. Woodworth; do you wish take the call, sir?"
"Yes, Captain; I'll take it in the lounge."
Following the call Kyle returned and sat down on the air mattress. "Kip, I hate to cut our trip short, but a helicopter will be here in an hour to fly us back to West Hampton. I just received word that Karl Gabler died three hours ago. I'm flying to Germany this evening."
"I am so sorry, Kyle, what would like me to do?"
"There's not much you can do right now. Could you stay with the kids for the rest of the week in the Hamptons?"
"Sure, that's a given. Did Kevin happen to mention the cause of death?"
"He suffered a massive stroke."
"Kyle, are you sure you don't want me to go with you?"
"That would be great, but unfortunately that's out of the question. I need you to say here to keep an eye on the children. I feel sorry that Karl died so young. Yet, I feel it's for the best. He has not been in the best of health since he returned to work. Anyway, I'm relived in a way, now I don't have to tell him we were through."
Kyle and Kip were in the drawing room at Petersen Manor enjoying a cocktail.
"It's good to have you home again even if it is only for two weeks. The children have missed you, Kyle. It's unfortunate you must be away so long. It would be much better if you made a few short trips home on a regular basis."
Kyle chuckled, "I'm not home four hours and you're already on my case, you're acting like a nagging spouse, and I'm not receiving any of the perks of martial bliss, is this how you welcome me home? What the matter, Kip, aren't you getting any lately? Speaking of which, where is the perky little Miss Georgia?"
"We broke up last month," Kip said.
"Is that why you're taking it out on me?"
"I'm sorry, Kyle, I don't know what's wrong with me lately. I guess I'm feeling guilty for not being with my mother when she died. Don't get me wrong, I love my job and I'm crazy about the kids, but I miss adult company. You have become so much a part of my home life, that I enjoy having you around. Besides which, Georgia was getting on my nerves. She was trying to instruct me in how I should raise the children, can you imagine that? Here's a woman who couldn't find the powder room without a road map. Anyway, our children are just one tick under perfect."
"I'm only pulling your leg, babe," Kyle said. "Are you still seeing your shrink?"
"Yes, he's been a big help."
"Kevin tells me you're working too hard. As your boss, I'm giving you an order not to work 80 hours a week; seventy is enough. I have two days of meetings this week but we're all taking off for St. Thomas Friday night. Do you think you can break away?"
"I'd love to, but I have too much on my plate right now, you go and have fun."
"Well, I'm disappointed that you can't make it. How do you like the new apartment?"
Kip smiled warmly, "It's beautiful. I sat down with the interior designer last month and everything should be finished by next month."
"Great, I'm sorry I wasn't here for your mother's funeral. How did it go?"
"It was a very nice. I was happily surprised that so many people showed up for the funeral service. I plan to take my parents' ashes back to Germany and have them buried in Munich next to my grandparents. I've already purchased the gravesite and ordered the headstone. It's big enough to add my name on there when I die."
"No, Kip, I want you to be buried in the mausoleum I'm having built next to the family gravesite right here in Greenwich. It's big enough for you and our children for generations to come. If you want, your parents can be buried there with us."
"That's very thoughtful of you, Kyle. I would like to have them buried close by to tell you the truth. At least I can visit them on their birthdays."
"Well, tiger, I'm exhausted. I'm going to say goodnight."
"Me too. I'm going to look in on the kids and hit the sack myself."
They were sitting on the terrace having their coffee at the Harbor View restaurant. "This has been a wonderful weekend, Kyle. Thanks for flying me out here," Kip said, "I feel like a new man again."
"I've never seen you look so fit," Kyle said. "God, but you're so handsome. It's difficult for me to contain myself sometimes. Forgive me; if I'm making you feel uncomfortable. It's a feeling I wanted to share with you."
"Thanks, Kyle, you always make me feel special. You have never made me uncomfortable. Thank you for teaching me how to sail; we have so much more privacy on that yacht. It's much more relaxing than having a crew around. We must do that again."
"Don't worry; we will. How do you like my new high-speed video network?"
"Great, everyone I've talked to thinks it's a great idea. I didn't realize how much I missed the kids," Kip said. "They are delightful and so affectionate."
"Look, baby, anytime you want to get away for a weekend, the planes are always available."
"Thanks, Kyle, I'll do just that."
Kip went into the nursery to check on the children before returning to his suite. Kyle entered the sitting room carrying two brandy snifters. He set them on the coffee table.
"Anything interesting?" Kyle asked.
"Nothing that needs to be taken care of tonight; just the normal panicky messages from Kevin."
"Turn that thing off and come watch the late news."
Kip walked over and sat on the sofa next to Kyle. Fifteen minutes later Kyle fell sound asleep. Kip woke him up after the news was over and helped him to bed.
Kyle was very pleased with the way Kip threw himself into his new job as Manager of New Business Development. Despite Kyle's warning, Kip was still spending over 70 hours a week on the job. In the beginning, he was home three nights a week with his children. As time passed, his quality time with the children was scaled back to Sunday. However, his hard work did pay off. By the end of his first year, he had proven himself, was promoted to a Director and increased his salary by $25,000 plus a $50,000 bonus.
The children saw him less as the months passed. Kyle also missed his company, yet was happy he was gaining the experience and enjoying his new life. Kip took hold and was entertaining clients and having cocktail parties almost every weekend.
He was becoming a favorite of society columns and café society, which concerned Kyle a little. Some of the people his name was linked with in the society columns were not the kind of people he should be cultivating. The PR department would send Kyle a blurb on Kip once a week.
Kyle became concerned and had the PR Director give him a rundown on the so-called socialites that were mentioned in the columns. Kyle remembered a few of them from his days doing the rounds of parties and clubs. He remembered that three of the jet-setters mentioned were heavily into drugs back when he knew them years ago. Some of the party girls Kip was dating were the same loose women that were around in Kyle's day.
The PR Director confirmed Kyle's suspicions. Of course the majority of the people mentioned were clients. He was somewhat relieved with that and asked Kevin to keep close tabs on Kip's progress. Kevin was still satisfied with Kip's performance, but Kyle had some misgivings. This concerned him knowing how easygoing Kevin was. He keep seeing too many red flags.
Kyle and Kip still keep to their regular Sunday afternoon telephone conversations up until the last two months. Sometimes Kip would call late in the evening, or not at all. Taken all together, Kip's behavior became more alarming.
Kyle knew how much Kip loved the children, yet he was not spending the time with his son. The children missed him. This was quite a departure from the Kip he knew and loved. When Kip was at home, he was his old self. When he returned to New York, it was as if he forgot he had a family. Kyle became concerned and decided to do a little checking.
Monday morning Kyle called Betty Weintraub, his CFO, in New York and asked her to conduct an audit on his Kip's department and his personal account. Betty got back to him three days later with some disturbing news. The audit revealed a $75,000 overdraft on Kip's expense account and salary advances of $80,000.
The $155,000 cash overdraft was alarming. Kyle asked Betty to push Kip for an explanation of the overdraft. This prompted a call to Kevin, to find if he knew of anything about Kip's behavior over the last two months.
Kevin reported that he had ordered Kip to check himself into Sloan Medical Center for a complete medical check-up. He too was concerned about Kip's health. In addition, Kip's job performance and sales had dropped steadily for the past two quarters. Kevin requested a projected sales forecast for the next six months. Kip assured him that it was a temporary glitch, that his prospects for the next quarter look excellent, and that he would submit his proposal within two weeks.
Kevin was an astute executive and realized that Kip was in trouble. Kyle did a little more digging on his own. He accessed all Kip's personal accounts, all his expenses, and especially his entertainment account, those for the apartment, as well as the Petersen Manor. It did not take long to learn that Kip was spending an unusually large sum in Manhattan. The worrisome thing was that he made several large checks out to cash. That was not good at all. The red flags were popping up all over the place.
To play it safe, Kyle contacted Dick Danburg, Director of Security and asked him to put Kip under round-the-clock surveillance. Dick also sent a team of specialists to both apartments to conduct a thorough search after Kyle told him that he suspected drugs. Dick said he would conduct a full-scale search and surveillance on Kip and would screen old videotapes recorded at the penthouse. That was not as difficult as it sounded since his household staff worked for Kyle. They had worked for the family for years and were completely trustworthy.
Kevin called back two weeks later. "I'm sorry that I haven't gotten back to you about Kip before this. I felt it was fair to allow him the time to come up with his sales plan. Unfortunately, his plan is not doable. I've given him another month to pull his figures around. Oddly, enough, his sales staff is performing well. Kip is the one whose performance has fallen behind."
"I must point out that he was up against some tough competition on several of his key accounts. My feeling is that Kip let his guard down and allowed his competition to pull a fast one. He broke one of his own cardinal rules, by not keeping on top of his accounts. I know he is your protégé and I'm hoping he can pull himself out of this slump. Frankly, he'll be lucky if he can break even."
"Do we have anyone in his group that you can promote to run that department?"
"Yes, Kip has trained two good men, either of which could be promoted."
Kyle said, "Okay, you have given him six weeks so far. Why don't you have another meeting with him in a few days, have him put together an interim report for you by Thursday? I want to give him every opportunity to turn this around. Maybe you need to lean on him some more."
"Have you seen Kip since our last conversation, Kyle?"
"No, we've only spoken on the phone."
"Frankly, I care what happens to Kip. If I lean on him further, I'm afraid I will push him over the edge. Don't ask me to do this."
"I trust your judgment, Kevin, forget about the report then. I'm pulling Kip out and will reassign him to be my executive assistant. Make any changes you want in his group. I'm flying back tomorrow and will be in town Wednesday morning. Although Kip doesn't know it yet, Wednesday will be his last day with you. I would like you and Betty to join me for lunch Wednesday and we'll work out all the loose ends. Thanks for your help, Kevin, and keep this under wraps until Thursday."
Kyle switched over to the house phone.
"George, will you step into the library please."
"You wished to see me, sir?" George asked as he entered the library.
"Yes, George, the children and I will be returning to Petersen Manor tomorrow. Will you call Walter at the Manor and let him know to expect us tomorrow morning. I don't wish anyone to know my plans, particularly Kip. I'm planning a little surprise for him on Wednesday. If he happens to call, take the message and notify me. Make sure Walter and the rest of the staff are aware of that. You needn't pack anything for me, I'll only be taking my computer and briefcase. See if Kay and Carol need any help getting the kids ready. I want to leave here tomorrow at 8 AM."
Kyle picked up the house phone and rang the nursery. "Carol, tell Kay we'll be leaving for Petersen Manor tomorrow morning. I want to leave the house by 8 AM. If you need any help, George and Ruby said they would be glad to help you to pack. One thing more, if the kids have outgrown any of their clothes, give them to Ruby. She will be happy to distribute them to some needy children down here. I'll be up later to say good night to the children at my usual time."
Kyle placed another call.
"Alex, this is Kyle. Will you drop by the library, I need to talk to you?"
Alex stepped into the library a few minutes later. "Yes, sir, you wanted to see me?"
"Yes, Alex, we're leaving tomorrow morning for Petersen Manor. Will you call Walt Stannic and let him know I would like to take off at 8:30 AM. That should put us in Connecticut by midday. Tell Walt I want him to ground all my other aircraft until further notice.
"I'll check with Carol to see what she wants to serve the children on the flight," Alex said. "Are you expecting any guests to fly with us, sir?"
"No, just the family and staff."
"Is there anything else, sir?"
"Notify the communications people to deactivate this terminal tomorrow morning."
"Has Dick Danburg kept you in the loop on Kip?"
"I'm really worried, Alex. It would kill me if anything happened to Kip. I want you to call Dick and have him talk to Kip's security staff. Ask Dick to call me this evening. He should have something by now."
"Dick asked me to tell you that he is concerned about the number of drugs in the Penthouse. If the cops ever raided the apartment Kip would have some serious explaining to do. Your place is clean, boss. Poor Kip, he really got himself involved with the wrong crowd."
"My main concern now is what it's done to his brain and body."
"That too, boss. Is there anything else?"
"No, you run along. Thanks."
"Dick, this is Kyle. Are we all squared away to pick up Kip this afternoon?"
"Yes, sir, everything is moving along as you planned."
"Good, I've already contacted Kip's shrink. He will be by to see Kip this evening at the Manor."
"Good," Dick said. "I dropped the videotapes for the six weeks off at your penthouse. Maybe you can identify some of the people that attended. We already know the drug dealers and a couple of the syndicate people. My people have identified some of the ringers at the card games. Additionally, we have identified several of the card sharks. Kip was set-up. He didn't have a chance. Our Kip likes to gamble, that's for sure. Now you know where the money went. Do you want to buy back his car?"
"Give them whatever they want. It really must have hurt him to sell that car. Let me know how much they want. I'll write you a check for the car."
"As soon as your limo pulls away, I'll have a team ready to remove the drugs. I think it might be a good idea to leave cameras in place."
"Why not; the company will still be using that place to entertain our clients. You never know what we can learn at these parties. Keep the bugs in place also."
Hi babe, I've missed you," Kyle said into the cellphone. "I'm in town and I need to see you as soon as possible. I'll pick you up in front of your apartment building in a half hour."
"God, it's so good to hear your voice, I've missed you too, Kyle. I wish you had called me sooner. I'm really jammed up. There is no way I can break away tonight. I've got to pull together some expense figures for Betty Weintraub for our meeting tomorrow morning."
I could detect the undertones of panic in Kip's voice. "Calm down and listen to me. You're to stop worrying about everything else and meet me in front of your building. Now, sweetheart, you change into something casual and wait for me at the entrance of your building in 25 minutes."
"Okay, you're the boss," Kip said.
Kip was standing just inside the entrance as Kyle's limo pulled up to the curb; he walked outside as Alex stepped out to open the rear door of the limo for Kip. "Hi, Alex, it's good to see you again."
"Good evening, Kip, nice to see you also."
Kip got in and sat next to Kyle. Alex closed the door and got into the front seat with Jim, the driver.
Kyle hugged him, "It's good to see you again, tiger, I've missed you."
Kip smiled, "I've missed you too, Kyle. Where are you taking me for dinner?"
"Home," Kyle said.
"Good Lord, I'll never be able to pull these figures for Betty first thing in the morning. If she complains to Kevin, he'll skin me alive. I'm on thin ice as it is with him right now. Can't we find someplace near by to have dinner?"
"Relax; I've taken care of everything. Would you like to join me in a glass of wine," Kyle asked.
"I sure would."
Kyle opened the bar and uncorked a bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc. He poured them each a glass.
"To our future," Kyle said. "You don't look well, Kip, how do you feel?
"I've felt better. I've got a lot on my mind right now. That and not being able to get a good night's sleep has taken its toll."
"Are you happy with things the way they are, Kip?"
"To be perfectly honest, no. I've really screwed up royally this year. I've disappointed Kevin and let my department down. My performance for the last two quarters has been dismal. Unless a miracle happens, I think he is going to let me go."
"What went wrong, Kip? Your first year was outstanding."
"It was a combination of things, Kyle. I guess I became a victim of my own inflated ego. It didn't help that I got caught up in the fast lane with the beautiful people, either. I thought that wining, dining, and inviting our prospective clients would be enough to get their business. Only to learn, in the end that they awarded the contract to someone else."
"It takes more than fancy parties and greasing a lot of palms to win the business. It still takes hard work, number crunching and a creative effort by lots of people, and tough negotiations, and follow-through to win the brass ring. I was also sucked into the circles of the 'beautiful people.' It was easy to get caught up in that merry-go-around. The drugs are plentiful and so are the beautiful women."
"My downfall was the gambling. In the beginning, I couldn't loose, but over time I began losing. I got deeper and deeper in debt, until I gambled away my next year's salary. That's why I need to get back and work my ass off. I need that job to pay off my debts and survive."
"Calm down, babe. Everything is going to be all right, just relax. Are you still on drugs?"
"How did you find out?
"I make it my business to know, where you're concerned."
Kip smiled and shook his head, "Not anymore. The only medication I'm on now are the pills my shrink prescribed to relax me. I've stopped with the drugs because I can't concentrate on my work."
"Do you feel you need to spend some time in a sanatorium until you're back to normal?"
"No, I'll be okay, I just need to get back to work and straighten out my finances."
"I don't understand why you didn't turn to me for help if you were in trouble."
"I couldn't face you... I was so ashamed of the mess I made of my life. You've done so much for me and I let you down. If that wasn't bad enough, I borrowed money from the company without Kevin's knowledge. That's what Betty wants to talk to me about tomorrow."
"All the time I thought that you preferred your new life style over me and the children."
"How could you even think that, I love you and the children, you are my only family. I just couldn't bear to face you after what I had done. I won't feel comfortable again until I put things right with the company."
"I'm really hurt that you that you felt you couldn't come to me with your problems, Kip. For God's sake, I love you. Do you honestly think I would cast you aside because you made a few mistakes? I'm sorry you ever got mixed with those silly and worthless people you were hanging around with."
"You don't understand, Kyle, I couldn't face you because I care for you. It would kill me if you turned your back on me. You and the children are the only family I have. I'm so sorry, Kyle. Can you forgive me?" asked Kip, as he began to sob.
Kyle pulled him close and wrapped his arms around him. Kip buried his head into Kyle's shoulder and cried while Kyle rubbed his back and soothed him.
"I've already forgiven you. You let it all out sweetheart; everything is going to be fine from now on."
Kip cried for some time. Between the sobs, he keep repeating, "I'm so sorry, Kyle."
Kyle spoke softly, as he held Kip in his arms. "I had a meeting with Betty and with Kevin this morning. I've taken care of everything. I told Kevin that I'm making you my executive assistant as of today. Your penthouse has been turned back to the corporation. All your personal effects will be shipped to Petersen Manor. Dick and his crew are making a clean sweep of the penthouse right now. They will dispose of all the drugs. Remember, you still have over a year on our contract and I intend to keep you with me until your contract expires."
"You're under my personal care from now on. I don't want you to dwell on the past. Use it as a learning experience. It's over and you are back with me once more. After you are on your feet again we'll talk about your future. Until then, you are to rest and supervise the children. Anyway, it's almost time to open the house in the Hamptons for the season. Is that alright with you so far?" Kyle asked.
"Perfect. You're so good to me and I do love you, Kyle."
"I love you too, Kip, and I always will. I'm partly responsible for what's happened to you. I moved you up too fast and you were not prepared to deal with that jungle on your own. None of us is perfect and never will be. I should have known better, I grew up with those people and know what they're like. In any event, it won't happen again, believe me."
Neither one spoke, Kip had completely relaxed. His breathing had returned to normal. Kyle smiled to himself; Kip had fallen asleep in his arms. he kissed him on the forehead and let him sleep.
Kyle had trouble waking Kip when they arrived at the house. He was still very groggy. Alex had to help get him into the house. They took Kip right to his bedroom and put him to bed.
The doctor dropped by to examine him an hour later. Kyle waited in the sitting room until the doctor finished his examination.
The doctor walked into the sitting room and said, "Kip is in a state of exhaustion. I will have the druggist send over some medication for him. I want him to see his Internist for a complete physical ASAP. In the meantime, he is to get plenty of rest. I gave him a shot that will help him to sleep. So he could be out for at least 12 hours. Make sure he is up by noon tomorrow and have someone check on him throughout the evening to make sure he is all right."
After the doctor left, Kyle retired to his bedroom for the night. He instructed Alex to detail one of the security men stay in Kip's bedroom suite for the night. Being tired myself, he turned in early, and fell sound asleep. The next thing he recalled was Alex awaking him in the middle of the night.
"Boss, I hate to wake you but Kip is having a bad dream and we can't calm him down. He has been hysterical for the last ten minutes."
"You did the right thing waking me, Alex. I'll take over from here, and you and your man go to bed. I'll stay with Kip."
Kyle went to Kip's bedroom. Kip was very agitated and crying in his pillow. Kyle turned on the bedside lamp.
"Kip, it's me, sit up."
He crawled into bed next to Kip. Kip threw his arms around Kyle and held on for dear life. Kyle wrapped him in his arms and rubbed his back.
"You're alright now, baby, try to relax."
He stopped sobbing and slowly quieted down.
"Will you stay with me tonight? God what a nightmare," Kip said.
"You know I will, baby. Try to get some sleep."
He fell sound asleep in Kyle's arms. Kyle always loved the scent of Kip's body. Even though his skin was moist with perspiration, he still had a clean fresh smell. Like Kyle, he only wore silk shorts to bed. This was the first time Kyle had ever felt Kip's nearly naked body against himself and it felt wonderful. Kyle thought, 'One day you'll be mine, my love.' He kissed Kip on the cheek as he reached over and turned off the bedside lamp.
Kyle awoke at six o'clock, with Kip still nestled in his arms sound asleep. He had slept peacefully. Kyle tried to lift him off his chest without disturbing him, but he awoke.
"You're not leaving, are you?"
"Sorry, baby, nature calls and it's time I was up anyway. You try to sleep a little longer, it's only six o'clock. I want to have breakfast with the children this morning."
"I'm still a little tired, I think I'll take your advice and sleep in a little longer."
It was just one o'clock that afternoon when Kip walked into the office.
"Hi again, you look better," Kyle said. "How do you feel?"
"Much better, thank you."
"Have you eaten lunch yet?" Kyle asked.
"Not yet, I thought you might be free and join me."
"I could do with a coffee break," Kyle said. "Let me call Cook and have her prepare a breakfast tray for you." Come on, let's walk back to the breakfast room."
"This is such a warm and sunny room," Kip said, as he sat down. "It's one of my favorite rooms."
"Mine too. The kids are anxious to see you. I told them you would be by to see them this afternoon. Do you feel up to it?"
"Oh yes, I'm just as anxious to see them, I missed them terribly. Kyle, thanks again for getting me out of that mess with Kevin and settling my debts. I just can't thank you enough. I'm glad you were there for me this morning, that dream was among the worst nightmares I've ever experienced."
"Look, Kip, I understand what you must be going through right now, but you're home and everything is going to work out for you. Until you're over this guilt trip you're going through, I want you to sleep with me until you're out of the woods."
"Our demons always seem to attack us in the middle of the night. I remember the pain I felt when I lost my family. Give this some thought and let me know before I make arrangements to have one of the security men sit with you."
Kyle smiled, "It was delightful to wake up with you in my arms this morning. I promise I won't take advantage of you."
Kip smiled warmly as he gazed into Kyle's eyes. "I know you would never force yourself on me, Kyle, you love me too much. Anyway, you have that turned around. I have taken advantage of you. I felt perfectly safe sleeping in your arms."
"Kyle, I wish with all my heart I could be the lover you desire, because you, of all men, need to find a partner that will return your love. If you're willing to accept the love I can give you, then I gladly accept continuing the relationship that we have shared these many years. God knows, I've made a mess of things the last two years without you."
"I thought I was ready to take on the world, but recent history shows that I wasn't. Granted the first year was exciting, and I did well, but I lacked the experience and the know-how to keep it going. All my experience up to that point was as a troubleshooter. I lacked the management experience and judgment to sustain me over the long haul."
"My approach was purely a textbook one as to how to run a business. I failed because I had too many balls in the air at one time and didn't have the depth or the seasoned staff behind me to back me up. I finally realized that I didn't have you by my side to guide me. Up to that promotion, all of my successes had been because of our collaboration. I needed that and I missed your support when I was on my own."
Kip took a deep breath and slowly let it out, "I'm grateful to you for giving me another chance. I will be much happier working with you again. As far as I'm concerned, I don't see the need for a contract, I'll plan to be around until you tell me to move out, okay?"
"That will never happen, baby."
Kip made a remarkable recovery over the past six months. He regained the twenty pounds he had lost and he looked and acted like the old Kip. They played tennis every morning and worked out every afternoon. They made a handsome pair and it was the happiest time for both of them. They had the children, their work and each other.
Kyle's love for Kip grew even more, if that was possible. The children drew them closer together as a family. Chris and Paul followed Kip around like a shadow, and he adored them. There was no question in Kyle's mind that there was a special bond between Kip and Chris. The boy blossomed under his nurturing and in turn, Chris took Paul under his wing. Of course Kip loved all the children and tried not to favor Chris and Paul in front of the others, but he couldn't help himself when it came to Chris and Paul.
The holidays were almost upon them, and for Kip, Christmas was the most important holiday of the year. He had spent October and November planning the Christmas parties for their friends as well as for the children. His enthusiasm rubbed off on everyone. He took the children to see the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center and to the local Christmas Festivals.
By the time Christmas week rolled around, he had changed the house decorations three times. He wanted their guests to see something different each week they visited. He even helped the children decorate their own tree in the nursery.
Kip reintroduced the Sunday bunches shortly after he returned home, in addition to the many formal dinner parties every week. He personally became involved in purchasing the Christmas gifts for the office staff and for the staffs at the Manor, and their other homes. He was a joy to have around.
Kyle never realized how much he had missed Kip and how much he meant to the children and him. He don't think he could bear to live without Kip now. He became so much a part of our lives.
All during this time, Kip continued to share Kyle's bed and Kyle found him cuddled up next to him every morning. That was about to change after the New Year. They decided that Kip was well enough to start making the rounds of the overseas operations, while Kyle stayed home with the children. He had made a few short trips to the West Coast and did a fine job. Of course, Kyle missed him like hell but, as he said, he had a family to support.
Two days after Christmas, they flew to their villa in St. Thomas. As a surprise, Kyle had planned to lease a yacht to sail around the islands for a week, but the chief of security advised against it, being very cautious outside the United States waters. Therefore, that trip had to be scraped.
It took a couple of days for everyone to settle in. Kip and Kyle were inundated with invitations to either cocktail, or dinner parties, but Kip said he was partied out and declined all the invitations. This was so unlike him. He loved parties and meeting new people. Kyle became concerned at the depressed mood that Kip was in since they arrived in St. Thomas. He attributed this to the after Christmas letdown and to the new job Kip was to start in January. Usually, Kip snapped out of these moods quickly, Kyle decided to let it ride for the present.
When Kip mentioned at dinner that he was not attending the New Year's Eve party at the Yacht Club, Kyle knew something was wrong and decided to have a talk with him. After dinner, Kip headed to the nursery to check on the children while Kyle was in their bedroom suite answering email. He was still on the phone when he waved goodnight to Kip as he walked through to their bedroom. Kip was undressed and in bed watching TV when Kyle walked into the bedroom. He went into the bathroom to brush his teeth and undress for bed.
As Kyle slipped into bed next to him, he asked, "What's bothering you baby? You've closed yourself off in a shell and won't let anyone in. You don't want to socialize with any of our friends. Please don't shut me out, too, Kip. Does this have anything to do with your upcoming overseas trip?"
Kip picked up the remote and turned the TV off. "That's part of it," Kip said as he sighed. I don't want to leave you and the kids. I know this trip is important and we planned it weeks ago, but I just can't do it."
"Look baby, I'm not going to force you to do anything you don't want to do. You stay here with the kids and I'll go in your place."
"No, I don't want you to go either, unless we go together."
Kyle stared at Kip and saw the heartache and the love in his eyes. He pulled Kip into his arms and kissed him tenderly.
"I love you Kip, why are you tearing yourself apart like this? I know it's difficult for you to come to grips with your homosexuality. But until you accept what you are, you will never be happy. Open your heart and let me in."
Kip tightened his grip on Kyle and kissed him back. "I love you, Kyle, and I don't want to be separated from you ever again. It's been very difficult to accept the reality that I'm gay. I'm still not comfortable with the idea yet, but I feel with your help I can come to terms with myself and accept what I am. This is very difficult for me."
"I've matured these last six months. I finally came to the realization that you, my beautiful Kyle, mean everything to me. You are my savior and my future. I would be lost without you. You and the children are my world and I've never known such happiness. Not only are you the most handsome man I have ever known, but you are also the most considerate. I pray that I am able to satisfy you as a lover. I love the feel of your body and waking up in your arms every morning."
"Our relationship up to this point has been of a platonic nature, but in the last four months, I've realized I want a loving relationship with you. I know you will be gentle and patient with me in our lovemaking because I want you to make love to me. Even though I still have the mental scars of being raped, I want you to love me in the same way as you did your brother."
"Kip, my love, you have made me the happiest man in the world and I would never hurt you or force you to do anything that made you feel uncomfortable. These last six months have been wonderful for me also. You've made this house into a home and have made me and the children very happy."
"I marvel at the way you have organized the staff and have everything running so smoothly in all my homes. My mother could not hold a candle to you and she was the best. Not only have you held us together as a family, but you have also been a big help to me in the business. There is no reason why we have to be separated again. We'll both make that overseas trip together and take the older children with us."
Kip kissed him tenderly, and said, "Well, I'm glad that's settled, now we can get down to some serious lovemaking."
Kyle chuckled, "Well, you certainly don't waste any time once you have made up your mind, my love.
Kip said, "I hate to leave you and the kids, but I will only be away for five days and I will join you in St. Thomas on my return. We both know that I am the most logical one to attend this board meeting in Munich. I know you speak German but I have the edge over you. I was born and raised in Munich. I understand them better then you do. They will not put anything over on me; I have our interest to protect."
Kyle said, "I know, sweetheart, but are you absolutely sure you want to do this?"
Kip said, "Yes, I am positive."
Kyle said, "I still would rather you fly over on our Gulf Stream instead of on a commercial airline."
Kip smiled, "Sweetheart, let's not go over that again. You know that I will be safe on a commercial flight and it is cost effective. Our jet would be parked on the ground at the Munich Airport for four days while I'm at my meeting. I don't have to tell you what that will cost. My security guards will be flying on board with me anyway. In addition, Alex has hired a team of German security people to meet our flight to handle that end. Please stop worrying about me. I'll be fine."
Kyle smiled, "I guess I'm being over protective of you. I know that I shouldn't smother you, but I'm so used to having you by my side."
Kip walked over and kissed Kyle , "Don't ever stop protecting me, that is why I love you, sweetheart. Well, I'm all packed and have my papers and computer in my carry-on. We will be taking the helicopter to JFK at 2PM, which should allow us plenty of time to check in before boarding our flight to Munich."
"Make sure you call me just before you take takeoff."
"Don't worry, baby, I will."
Kyle said, "The kids and I will be leaving from Bridgeport at 3PM on our 737 for St. Thomas."
Kip said, "I'm going to say goodbye to the kids and come back and kiss you goodbye."
Alex said, "Mr. Petersen, I have some bad news to report regarding Kip. He disappeared from the aircraft he was on and is not onboard the flight to Germany. We feel that he was kidnapped. Tim Baker and Dan Fitzmartin checked on him just prior to the aircraft door being closed. Kip was not in his seat in the First Class section. They saw Kip get up to use the toilet in the front of the aircraft as some passenger's were boarding. We assumed he was still in the toilet after the door closed. Tim knocked on the toilet door and discovered that toilet was empty.
Tim immediately notified airport security and the aircraft captain. The aircraft was searched and there was no sign of Kip. Security took pictures of the passengers and requested a manifest from the airline. The flight crew and passengers obscured the security team's vision, while passengers were boarding the aircraft. Some passengers were standing up placing their luggage in the overhead compartment. Their guess is that someone grabbed him and hustled him out through the ramp door and down the outside stairs to the ground. Airport security has notified the NYPD."
Kyle said, "Oh, my God, Alex, this sounds like a professional job. I want you to bring in Mike Lee, of International Securities, to help you on this one. He has strong ties with the intelligence community as well as RICO and the underworld. Let's plan to meet this evening at my Fifth Avenue penthouse. If Mike can't make it, ask him to send one of his top people. You should have some more information by then. Have Mike put out the word that I am offering a no-questions-asked reward of $100,000, for any leads on who is behind Kip's kidnapping. I also don't think we should waste any time in going public with Kip's disappearance. These are some of the topics we can discuss this evening."
Alex said, "Yes, sir, I'll get right on it and make sure one of Mike's people will be there tonight."
Kyle said, "I am flying the family back to Connecticut right away. If you feel we need more security people at the Manor house, please hire them."
"I think we have enough men on our staff if you and the family and their security team are returning to the Manor. I think you are making the right decision bringing the family home. The security at the Manor is the best, not even a mouse can slip through without us knowing about it, Boss."
"That puts my mind at rest, as long as I know my kids are safe at home, I don't worry about leaving them."
Kyle, Alex, Mike, and Kip's security guards, Tim and Dan, were seated at the small conference table in Kyle's office.
Kyle said, "Thank you all for being here tonight to discuss Kip's disappearance."
Mike said, "Alex, Tim and Dan briefed me on what happened on the aircraft, Kyle. I'm keeping an open mind until all the facts are in. You are right about one thing, Kyle, this was well planned and executed. Alex and my team are already talking to the airline personnel that were on duty when Kip disappeared. We are also interviewing the ground crew and checking on them as well."
"We have our own forensic team on this case, and will be running thorough background checks on the ground crew and the baggage handlers. I don't care how well this was planned, someone had to see something and we will find out what they saw. Kyle can you think of anyone that had a grudge against Kip, or anyone that might want hurt him?"
"I can't think of anyone that disliked him. He was well liked. He didn't have any enemies that I can think of."
Mike said, "I know of your relationship with Kip, is there anyone that has it in for you and kidnapped Kip to get back at you?"
"There are very few people who know of my identity," Kyle said. "I keep a very low profile and my only direct contacts with my various businesses are handled through my consulting firm, or my lawyers. I have no reason to mistrust them. The only incident that I can think of is when Alex and I stopped the buying of drugs and I chased off the dealers that were supplying Kip. I don't think they would hold a grudge since we didn't blow the whistle on them. I'm sure they were able to sell their drugs to another sucker in a heartbeat. In any event, Alex and his team recorded everyone that was visiting Kip's penthouse for several weeks before I closed down that operation."
Mike said, "Alex, were you able to identify the key players in that operation?"
Alex said, "We have the names and pictures of many of the key dealers and their pushers. I showed the tapes to our consultants with the Feds and the NYPD Narc Bureau. They were able to identify the known dealers that worked the Metro area, but the Feds said they spotted a couple of out-of-town suppliers that networked with the Metro dealers."
"Kyle, if they are looking for a ransom," Mike said, "you should be hearing from them very soon. We can be thankful that the FBI is not involved yet. They will step in only if Kip was kidnapped. We can move much faster without them looking over our shoulders."
"Alex were you able to find out where the out-of-town dealers were from?" Mike asked.
"One of the two dealers that the Feds identified was from Bridgeport and the other guy was from Boston."
Kyle said, "Mike this may mean nothing, but when Kip was in high school he was harassed by one of the street gangs in Boston that were dealing drugs to high school kids. The gang was well-connected, back then. Kip testified against the three ringleaders. The prosecutor made a deal with Kip that he would be placed into the witness protection program if he agreed to testify. As a result the three top leaders were convicted and the gang was disbanded."
"There may be something there," Mike said. "It's worth investigating. The mob likes to get even with a whistle blower. Who knows, maybe there is more than one gang working together to settle an old score with Kip. I'll put a team on that right away."
Kyle said, "That sounds plausible, Mike. I don't care how many men you put on this case, I want Kip back safe and sound and I don't care how much it costs, I want results."
"You're the boss, Kyle. I am glad you said that, because I would like to hire the services of another super secret agency to work with us on this project. I only use them on special cases. They are very effective and are somewhat scary. I've never had a face to face meeting with anyone in the organization and, never met an agent in the field. All communication is done over the computer."
"It's strange talking to their leader. His voice has one of those special effect garbled devices. They are very particular in the cases they will take. But I think they will take this one, because they hate organized mobsters, and in particular mobsters that kidnap innocent people. We'll feed them all the information we have on this case. They in turn will not leave any stone unturned until they have the answers."
"I knew after being briefed by Alex that we needed to bring them in on the project. They are super expensive, but the best private stealth organization in the business. They also have agents working in every top spook agency in the business. We'll know very quickly if any people are on the take, or are being paid off within any agency. Sometimes they are a bit scary, and it takes a lot to scare me. But, one thing for sure, they're the good guys and they show no mercy to the bad guys no matter how high up they are. I feel sorry for the guys that are holding Kip when these folks find them."
Kyle said, "You have a blank check for this, let them do their thing. I also want them to take care of the higher ups that ordered this kidnapping. I want your spooks to make an example of these people who think they can get away with harming honest productive people. Mike, I'm glad you are able to have your spooks on this. We have to catch whoever did this and not waste any time."
"I will let them know what we discussed here tonight so that they can look into the Boston connection as well."
Kyle said, "Well, gentlemen I think we are on the right track. Alex, I want you and your staff to help Mike in any way you can. Mike, I want you to keep me posted on your progress. You are welcome to use this penthouse as a base of operations if you wish. I don't plan to stay in the city at all, I will be heading back to Greenwich tonight and that's where you can reach me from now on."
Mike said, "I think this would be an ideal location as a base, Alex, since Kyle has a state-of-the-art communication network here. I'll send one of my field supervisors here tomorrow to coordinate the field communications network."
Alex said, "That will work out for us as well, I'll send one of my top men to work with your man. We can clear everything through them."
Mike said, "I think that will work out just fine. Well gentlemen, I have a lot of work ahead of me tonight, my helicopter awaits me, I'll talk to you tomorrow, Alex."
Kyle returned to the mansion. Walter greeted him at the door.
"Walter, I'm going to change. I want you to assemble the household staff in the library in twenty minutes. I have some important news to share with you."
"Yes, sir, I'll see to that."
The entire household staff was waiting for Kyle as he entered the library. He walked over to the fireplace and faced the gathering.
"Thank you all for joining me here; I feel that you should learn this news from me directly. As you know, Kip was on his way to Germany for an important meeting, however, he disappeared from his aircraft and we have no idea where he is."
"I have a security team working on this and I expect the authorities may want to interview you if their investigation goes that far. This only happened this afternoon so we have not had time to form any opinions yet. I want you to be especially on the lookout for strangers or anything out of the ordinary in your normal routine. The security will be very tight and everyone entering the estate will be double-checked. Does anyone have any questions?"
"Mister Kyle," Walter asked, "will the news media be reporting on this incident?"
"Our public relations department is preparing a statement for release to the press this evening."
"The reason I mentioned this, sir, is because some of the staff live off the estate. Do you think the news media will hound the staff for information?"
"That's a good point, Walter. If anyone is approached by the new media, just tell them, no comment. They will be persistent, but just continue to give them the same response, they will finally realize that they will not be receiving any answers, and they will move on."
Kyle said, "If there are no further questions, you can return to your duties, again thank you for your time."
Kyle headed up to the nursery to spend some quality time with his children.
The following day Kyle received a call from Mike.
"Kyle, we may have some positive news for a change. My agents have made a connection between the drug dealers that were supplying Kip. One of our undercover informants made the connection between the Boston dealer and the gang that Kip blew the whistle on six years ago. My guys are trying to find the dealer known as Johnnie B. He was one of the dealers that was on the surveillance tape your security people recorded in Kip's penthouse last year. I've got to hand it to your security team they recorded enough detailed material to nail a lot of drug dealers."
"We were also able to track down the vehicle that the men used to transport Kip. One of the security guards is into drugs and my agents feel that the mob is using him. Our people are questioning him as we speak. I'm sure he can be persuaded to give us the information we want. The FBI is not involved yet, but we'll get the information we need before they are on the case."
Kyle said, "Mike, from what you have learned I am convinced that one of the organized crime groups is behind this kidnapping. Alex's recording has uncovered some of the top drug dealers in the Northeast. We had the goods on them, yet never blew the whistle, but one of their own has kidnapped Kip to settle an old debt. You can be sure that they will be sending me a ransom note to get Kip back. I have a feeling that these animals will kill Kip and keep the money. I think it's time to put the screws to the leader of these dealers."
"As you said, we have enough evidence to turn over to the authorities. I am sure that we have enough explosive information to not only put their key dealers behind bars, but it could eventually lead to the kingpins themselves. And that could decimate the organization. I am sure the media will have a field day with this. Let's find out who the head of this NorthEast group is and let him know that we want the name of the gang that is responsible for Kip's kidnapping and we want to know where they are holding him. Let him know that if they don't cooperate, we will retaliate."
Mike chuckled, "Kyle you would be a natural in my organization. I think you have found the answer to our problem. It should only take a few phone calls to learn who the leaders of the drug traffic are."
Kyle said, "I have the feeling that the boys at the top are not going to allow some vendetta to destroy their organization. They always like to keep a low profile. Negative publicity is bad for their business. I think we can have Alex make a short DVD to prove that we have the ammunition on what went down. I have a feeling after seeing that they will either hand over Kip unharmed, or give us the location and the names of the people that were responsible for kidnapping Kip. In either case, we should consider eliminating those animals to show everyone concerned that we know how to take care of our own and are not afraid to eliminate the bad guys."
"Let's see how this plays out," Mike said. "The top guy may take care of our problem and eliminate the jerks that pulled this stunt. I sure the boss would not have approved of this kidnapping because he would know that a kidnapping would bring in the Feds. He will no doubt make an example of this group to keep the other boys in line."
"I think you may be right on that score. This group is a renegade bunch and didn't have the brains to consider what would happen if the FBI entered the case. The boss still has time to act before the Feds come in."
"Mike, this is the third day and I have not received a ransom demand for Kip," Eric said. "I was sure I would have heard something by this time."
"I have a strong feeling that you won't," Mike said. "We sent the email along with the video to Mr. Juan Morales, the boss of the drug syndicate, late last night. He responded to our email saying he would answer our request ASAP. We should be hearing back from him today. Not receiving that ransom letter is a good sign, Kyle."
"Did your company contact him directly?"
"No, we let the spook group communicate with Mr. Morales. I have the feeling that Morales knows of the spook organization. For sure, he is not going to get on the wrong side of them. Just be patient for a few more hours, Kyle. I will get back to you as soon as we hear anything."
"Kyle, our spook agency came through. They have Kip. He is a little shaken up but not harmed. They are transporting him in a truck to the underground garage in your office building in Manhattan. Alex will transport him to Petersen Manor. I understand that some important news will unfold later tonight. This is what I've been told. "
Kyle said, "Thank God Kip is safe and back in our hands."
Mike said, "The spooks told me that Juan Morales said that his organization will eliminate the jerks that pulled this stunt. He also requested that we hand over the incriminating recording we have in our possession in return for returning Kip to us. He assured us that no harm would come to us again."
"What is your feeling about returning the tapes, Mike?"
"I don't think that is an unreasonable request since you have Kip back and you save yourself a million dollar ransom payment."
"What do you mean by that, Mike?"
"Mr. Morales said his man found the ransom demand that the Boston gang was about to email you."
Kyle said, "We will send Mr. Morales the original tapes after we see how he has settled the issue with the Boston gang."
"I agree, Kyle. I don't feel the tapes are of any use to us after this. My spooks assure me that Mr. Morales word is law, as the head of the drug dealers in this area. As he says, business is business, if his organization didn't supply the drugs, some other dealer would. He said, he would be out of business tomorrow if his customers gave up drugs."
"How can you argue with logic like that," Kyle said. "Keep me posted, Mike."
A weak and lethargic Kip, was led into their sitting room. "My god, Kip, you look awful. Walter, help Kip over to the sofa." Kyle went to Kip and wrapped his arms around him. "I'm so relieved that you're alive and home again, my love."
Kip smiled, "You have now idea how happy I am to be alive and in your arms again, Kyle. These last three days have been a nightmare. Thank god they kept me drugged, I think I would have lost my mind it I wasn't for the drugs. When the drugs wore off, they fed me, and keep telling me that it wouldn't be long before I went to sleep for good."
"Are you hungry, Kip?"
"Yes, I am, but I don't feel like eating anything heavy, maybe some soup and a sandwich."
"Walter, would ask cook to fix something for Kip."
"I will take care of that right away, Master Kyle. Would you want me to bring up a tray for you as well, sir?'
"Yes, Walter, I join Kip for dinner. Please tell Nanny Carol that I will not be eating with the children tonight, I will be up to say goodnight later. Let me know when Dr. Walters arrives." Walter closed the door to Kyle's suite as he left.
Kyle said, "I asked Dr. Walters to stop by to check you over. I want to make sure that you are all right."
"Thanks, sweetheart, I just want to crawl into our bed and sleep. I thought I would never see you or the children again. That is what hurt the most."
"You can stop worrying now, baby, you are safe in my arms now." Kyle kissed Kim again.
Kip chuckled, "The next time I fly to Germany, I'll use a company plane."
Kip went to bed and slept twelve hours. He awoke the next morning still in Kyle's arms.
"Good morning, sweetheart" Kip said. "It a wonderful feeling waking up in your arms, Kyle."
"Kip, you have no idea how much I worried that something bad would happen to you, I don't think I could have ever been the same again."
"I'm just glad that you were able to get me out of the cage, and away from those animals. When I woke up all I could remember was the men that were guarding me were tied up and sitting in chairs. The guys that rescued me were wearing masks and moved me out of there. They led me to a panel truck, laid me on an air mattress on the floor, and strapped me to the mattress so I would not roll around. The next thing I knew, Alex and his men were helping me out of the truck and into your SUV. I fell asleep and woke up here at home again."
Kyle said, "Let's take a shower, dress and have breakfast with the children. They wanted to come down to make sure you were home. You know how the little angels miss you. I promised that we would have breakfast with them this morning."
Kip said, "All I thought about was how much I missed you and the children. I was frightened that I would never see you all again."
"I know, it's easy to say, but it's true, that is all behind you now. That gang will never bother you again."
Kyle answered his cell phone, "Hi Mike, what's up?"
"Turn on CNN, there is a very interesting Breaking News Bulletin they are reporting."
"Thanks Mike, I'll get back to you after we have looked at the news."
We are at a warehouse on an old dock on the west side of Manhattan. Stand by, Captain Justin, of the NYFD and Captain Murphy of the NYPD are walking up to our cameras. "Good morning, I am Captain Justin, NYFD Westside Fire station. A 2-alarm fire was reported early this morning. There was an explosion and fire broke out at the rear of this warehouse. We were able to put out the fire and save the building. During our investigation we discovered five badly burned bodies. We have identified the bodies, and will release the names of the victims after their families have been notified. We were able to determine that the explosion was caused by the highly violate explosive chemicals used in the manufacturing of crack cocaine.
Captain Murphy will discuss what he has learned about this lab and the people involved.
"Good morning, we have learned from our sources that the people operating this illegal lab are not from this area. They are believed to be a gang from Boston trying to expand their illegal operation to this area. We have no evidence that any of the local drug dealers had any connection with this explosion, but we cannot rule anything out at this stage of our investigation. We learned from the Boston Police Department that a well-known drug dealer, Leroy Jackson, the head of the Black Devils, and two of his top lieutenants, were gunned down late last night outside their nightclub. It is too early in our investigation to answer any questions at this time. We will hold a press conference at noon tomorrow. Thank you."
Kyle asked, "Is that the warehouse they took you to?"
"I am not sure, but it sounds right. When they grabbed me off the plane, they hustled me into an enclosed panel truck and blindfolded me. They must have given me a shot, because the next thing I knew I was dressed in a orange jump suit and locked inside a cage. I'm sure it was by the river because I could hear boat whistles and could smell the river. There were only four guys watching me. A little while later they made me look at a laptop computer. There was a message from my old enemy Leroy Jackson. He told me that this was payback time and I was going to get the same misery he went through in the slammer."
"Well, Mike and his team did great. Let me call and thank him for a job well done."
"Hello, Mike. You were right, Mr. Morales kept his word and took care of the bad boys. Have your spooks send the tapes to him with our thanks, and Mike, thank you for the excellent job you did to get Kip back. You and your team are worth every penny I spent."
"I am glad that this case had a happy ending. How is Kip this morning?"
"He is a little weak, but happy to be back home. Thanks again, Mike."
Disconnecting the call, Kyle said, "Well, sweetheart, what do you say we head up to the nursery and have breakfast with our children?"
Kip pulled Kyle to him and kissed him. "That is the best offer I've had all day."