As they walked out of cathedral Skye noticed a poster that listed the man that took the service as Dean of the Cathedral, so Skye now knew how to address him. The Dean was shaking everyone’s hand and thanking them for attending the service. Skye was used to this process and stood waiting to thank him for the service. As he stood there the Bishop joined the greeting line and took Skye’s hand in his own. “Son, I want to say how pleased I am to welcome you to our little church.”
“I would hardly call it a little church sir.”
“It is my little church and always will be. Welcome son.”
“Thank you, Bishop.” Without thinking he lowered his head and kissed the Bishops ring.
The bishop smiled, “Son you do not need to…”
“No sir, I respect your position. I know in some areas your lesser ministers should kiss your ring, so out of respect I will as well. I also know in many areas you would be called excellency.”
“Officially I am ‘The Right Reverend Doctor Stedman’. Doctor Stedman some, Bishop Stedman to many. I don’t mind, just don’t call me later for dinner! Don’t you think?”
Skye was laughing at the bishop’s joke. “Thank you, Bishop Stedman. I’ve never met a Bishop before.”
“No, I’ve been following what’s happened to you Skye. I can understand that and I think it is a great shame.” Skye looked confused. “I’m a close friend with Father Patterson in New York. We grew up together and are both bluebirds… Right if you can kiss my ring then… I can do this.” As Skye let his hand go, Bishop Stedman placed it on Skye’s head. “May the blessings of the almighty protect you and keep you my child.”
Skye had tears in his eyes as he looked up at Bishop Stedman. “Thank you, sir. That means a lot to me at the moment.”
Bishop Stedman smiled, “I cannot say much at the moment, but I will always be here for you child.”
At that the Dean interrupted them and held out his hand. “Welcome to the area, I knew the Countess when she purchased the estate.” Bishop Stedman and Skye just glared at the man as he continued to put his foot well and truly in his mouth, “She never doubted for one moment you would one day come to live there. She was quite a lady, and you take after her so much. My own father worked for her when she first moved here.”
Skye shook his hand and tried to look him in the eye, though the man avoided his gaze. “Dean Hogman, I was talking to Bishop Stedman. I would be grateful if you are not so rude in the future.” He turned and smiled as he bowed his head to the bishop, “Bishop Stedman, we will meet again sir.” Stedman smiled and moved on.
As Skye turned back to the Dean, he looked at the man. “First she never purchased the estate it was built for her by her husband when they arrived in America. Second, I very much doubt you knew a lady back in the 1920s when they settled here.”
“Why the lies sir? Why the circus?”
Skye could hardly hide his anger. “Dean, I know you have a choir sir. You see, I walked here earlier in the week to see, as your Bishop says the little church and what it was like. Your choir were practicing, I even joined in.”
“O… oh… My Grandfather worked for the family. My cousin still does.”
“Well just remember this is a church! Admittedly a large one, but still a church. What country was the Countess from?”
“I… I don’t really know. I think they said it was Italy, what with the family and all.” Skye looked shocked as he knew damn well what the family was when referring to Italy. He looked at Nonna who shook her head so he continued.
It was the man standing next to the older man that spoke. “Sorry, I don’t think father really knows much about the Countess and he is set on making a fool of himself! The Countess was from France, even though her father was Scottish. Her first husband was Russian, he was a Grand Duke, so though she was a Countess in France she was actually a Grand Duchess by marriage. Grand Duke Alonso was killed in Russia trying to escape to France when they were very young.
“She had already left as she was pregnant and having a difficult time of it. She was French national and returned to be with her mother so that she had help with the birth. When word got through to them that the Grand Duke had been killed, she lost the baby. If truth be known it nearly killed her as there was not so much medical knowledge and she lost a lot of blood during the miscarriage. It was a miracle that she survived.
“Suddenly she was alone, even though her parents were with her she was alone. Then influenza struck the country and her elderly parents succumbed to its deathly grip and then she was truly was alone. Not seeing or feeling any future in France, she closed the family chateau, which I assume your family still own and emigrated to America. On the cruise she fell in love with a dashing South African miner called Deke Slazenger and they married on the crossing.
“She also made a lifelong friend with a young girl that was on the boat called Mabel Patterson. I believe Mabel was her bridesmaid at the wedding. They had befriended originally as Mabel could tell that she needed a friend and went out of her way to be there for her. They stayed in touch all of their lived by mail, but lost contact for a short time when the Countess moved out here and Mabel and her family settled in Chicago. Right up to the day she died she supported the Trenshaw & Patterson Foundations as it was started by her friend Mabel Patterson.
“Once she settled in California, she used the Grand Duke’s enormous wealth to set herself up in business. The film industry was young, and they used haute couture for their female star wardrobes. Countess Zuniga Fashion House was the one most in demand and it is to this day. All the stars were dressed in her designs in those days.
Skye looked shocked as he knew Patterson was descended from the Bluebirds and had created Pirate Dan. “I never knew. I only recently found out who my own parents were. The two that called themselves parents kidnapped me at birth. Travis is supposedly my real father and we’re just starting out in life, though I have to wonder. How did you know her?”
“She saved my life and was always there for me. Dad here, adopted me because she introduced us.”
“Oh yes sir, and very proud of it but it is something we do not talk about.”
Skye smiled as the Dean asked, “What son?”
“Do not worry father, all is well.”
The old man smiled and spoke to Skye again. “Well, you’re welcome here even if it is only to talk. I think if you come back to the hall for a coffee there are many parishioners that would like to meet you. Many are actors or directors like yourselves and may want to invite you to audition. I saw many of them whispering as you sang.”
The man’s son looked at Skye and mouthed, “I’m sorry.”
Skye looked at the dean. “I would say no as I do not want to be bartered for in the Temple of God. I will come back, but only because you asked me. Should I find that I have been set up I will be seeking your removal.”
That was it he walked towards the hall at the back of the building where everyone seemed to be heading. He had not even got there when he was first attacked.
On the way he saw a sign for the men’s toilet and went to use it as he needed to go. At the same time three of the men tried to enter the toilet with him. Steven stepped in front of them and Nonna just glared and folded her arms. “Gentlemen, do you really want the media to hear how you badgered and harassed Skye not only in a church, but also while he was having a piss?”
“Don’t get involved Mary!”
“Look you I couldn’t give a flying fuck who you think you are Cyril! Or you other men. This is my boy, he wants to have time with his god so back off! Start badgering him while he’s having a piss and the boys will piss all over you before the day is out! Again.” During the whole of that time Nonna had been prodding her thumb in the chest of the little man pushing him back against the wall as others watched on.
One of the men shouted “What do you mean again?”
“He showed my Harry some very unfavorable attention when we were newlywed. He soon learnt his lesson when our boys pissed all over him to give him a message!”
Skye stepped out moments later. “Everything okay Nonna?” Mary smiled as he called her Nonna to her it just had something that made her feel right.
“You are more like a grandmother to me than any other woman has ever been. Hell, more like a mother as well, the other one I had sold me! You just stopped me from having to piss all over that old git. He knows I will never work for him, dirty old man tried it on with me when I was just a young kid. Told me that to get the role I had to be ‘nice’ to him. When I reported it to the police, would you believe and no one listened.” He looked around, “Should we go face the firing squad and see what happens?”
“Are you sure darling?”
“Absolutely but let them hang themselves. Watch and protect, but let their true colors show.” He turned around and there was Bishop Stedman smiling. “Sir, I wasn’t aware you were there. I’m sorry.”
“Nonsense my child. Being a Bluebird myself…”
Nonna laughed. “Yes Captain; meet my crafty and obnoxious older brother, The Right Reverend Rexford Stedman. Mother named him after the Bluebird himself. Skye, he likes people to think he is holier than thou with his title, but boy can I tell you some interesting tales about this Bishop! Doctor of divinity indeed! As a younger brother he was far from divine believe you me!”
“Yes, and they would be all true, darling sister of mine. Skye, I served in the army for several years as a Chaplin but came home when father died and I took the position of the minister responsible for the Bluebirds.”
“So, you are not connected to the Quartermaster?”
“No that was Mary’s husband’s father. Mister Patterson. When he died young his brother Robert took over and his boys are in training.”
“The gunners are good lads and are looking after me sir.”
“They better or they answer to…”
“Goodness no Skye far scarier than me, they answer to Mary!” Bishop Stedman was smiling, “Robert contacted me as soon as we knew where you were moving. It’s just a nice coincidence that I’m assigned to this diocese. You’ll be seeing me a lot if you keep attending and I do hope you will son. We need fresh blood like you. You are a breath of fresh air compared to most. Don’t worry about the Dean from this morning, he will be moved.”
“What about his son?”
“Would you believe every church needs staff of some description? He has been offered a job working with the Director of Marketing on my staff and has agreed not to move. I approached him as soon as I saw this unfolding. I could not believe the lies the Dean was weaving when he spoke to you.”
Skye smiled. “Oh well, into the valley of death walked the handful. Here we go…” They were all laughing as they entered the hall, and everyone looked at them.
Sure, enough once Skye had an orange juice, literally as soon as they served him someone came and spoke to him; steering him and his daddy to sit at a table with others he recognized. They started the attack on Travis first, but then a little-known director that he’d worked with in the past sat next to me. “Skye darling! Long time since you did any work for me.”
“Not long enough Edwin!”
“I’ll ignore that, as it has been a bad day for you so far.”
“Shame none of you have listened to what I said!”
“Exactly. Well… I have a film coming up I think you’d be perfect for and I want to talk to you about it. Next week will not do!”
Skye turned to the man, “I’m sorry. Listen carefully so that you understand me… It is a Sunday! Did you not hear what I said in there? This is my time, talk to George during the week, you know the procedure.”
He then heard a voice walking up to them that shocked him as George was suddenly there, “Edwin you know you approach me and send scripts for Skye to me. Is this your ‘Pharaoh’s Child’ project? … Yes, yes, I’ve read the script and will discuss it with Skye and Travis this week. They have a week in New York with commitments and then will start work on the Disney film. Get your people away from the family and let them mingle or the answer will be no!” Skye was furious as George had not attended church, so someone had called him in.
Shane was suddenly with them, Skye also knew that he had not been there that morning either. “Thanks for coming George, I could see what they were doing as soon as we got our drinks.”
Skye looked at him. “When did you get to church?”
Shane looked at him. “Pardon?”
“I said when did you get to church? Sorry I mean cathedral, just in case you didn’t know where you are. You were not here for the service.”
“Someone called me saying you needed help to control all of the offers that were coming in.”
Skye was angry. “Who?”
“What?” asked Shane.
“I said who called you?”
“Etta, I think it was. Why?”
“No matter. Who called you George?”
“Travis as soon as the cards were being handed to you.”
Skye stood and moved to a different table. As soon as he did the family moved with him and the people made a beeline for that table as well. Suddenly he was surrounded by people bartering his services and how much his appearances would cost. Even Etta had joined the sales pitch.
Skye stood as Shane spoke over him, as if he was not even there. He pushed his chair back noisily and they never even noticed, all that mattered to them was what he could or could not do. They did not even notice he was no longer there. He knew it was different, but it just felt like a repeat of the past with everyone making sure he was working… working… working.
He found a chair and pulled it, as noisily as he could, over to a wall and sat there as tears flowed. Nonna watched and suddenly gestured for Steve to move over to where her boy was weeping. There was only one other person who noticed and he had been watching over him the whole time. Gramps was ashamed of everyone, he was about to go to Skye when he saw a woman that he knew approach his boy.
“Hello little Connor. I’ve not seen you in some time. They still trying to sell you to the highest bidder?”
Skye looked up, “Miss Sarah? It is so good to see you… I’ve missed you so much.”
“I’ve missed you too little one. It’s not every job that you find someone that’s like a son to you. Why weren’t you at the Oscar ceremony?”
“Forever the Nay, you won best actor! Your mother collected the award for you. Skye, she was with Rory…” He looked at her and nodded as tears flowed. “Darling, I always wondered where you were.”
He looked at his father in the distance and kept silently crying. As he did Steve could take it no longer and went and knelt in front of his Captain. He simply held his arms open and Skye wept openly on his shoulder. “Come now Master Skye… You have us now and we look after our own. Nonna will not let anyone hurt you ever again sir.” He took out his handkerchief and gave it to Skye, who wiped his eyes and blew his nose. “You going to be OK or do you need to go?”
“I’ll be fine. I need to do this. Thank you.” He looked at Sarah, “No one told me I’d won Miss Sarah, I wish you’d been my mum. They murdered mine and stole me to be nothing more than a slave. I guess it could have been worse, they could have been sold like the others.” He looked at the adults, “Now I wonder...”
“What are you talking about darling?” Skye looked at her and went through what they had found in the attic when they moved.
“I know Adam, he’s done legal work for me in Texas in the past. I never knew he said he was a judge. I always thought he was a good man.”
“He was my attorney. He says he’s my Great-Grandfather, but now I’m happier as Cormack Elvan is my attorney.”
“Well little one, just remember Ireland. Then you’ll know, I’ll always be your grandmother on the screen and in life. You know I won best actress for the film. I was so proud of you.” She looked at her watch. “Oh, dear me the family will be outside waiting! Look darling I have to go, but I will see you again. Think, what would your Irish grandmother tell you to do and then don’t be afraid to do it. You have the gorilla there to look after you!” Simon started laughing when he realized she was talking about him.
Skye nodded, “Bye, bye, Miss Sarah.” As she walked away a young boy plopped himself down on the chair.
“You can really sing, you know?”
He smiled, “I try.”
“No, you really can. Riley P Masters here by the way.”
“Skye McElory here.”
“I know, I saw you in Forever the Nay. I actually auditioned for it, but they said I was far too young. Dad assumed because he’s Scott Masters, they’d give me the part.”
“Listen I don’t know about this Disney film, but soon they’ll start filming ‘Soaring High’. I know that they’re looking for other kids for the show. James Noble-Clarke is the director, my daddy Travis is the producer. The auditions will be soon, I’d get your dad on to it and have singing lessons as it’s a musical.”
The boy smiled and nodded, “Thanks mate.” Riley went on, as a result of that meeting, to win one of the other major roles. Together they would win many awards for their beloved Soaring. Later in life Skye would be Riley’s best man at his wedding and they would be friends for life.
Nanna and Grams stood there looking at them, “Well you two look good sitting chatting like two old men. Come on Skye we have dinner booked at the club. We’re all moving on to there as this place will be closing soon.”
He looked at them. “I told you all in the service, this is my space! I would no more go with you than I would with Judas to betray Christ!”
Nonna was suddenly there. “Come on Master Skye, Uncle Seamus will have our table waiting for us.”
“Thank you, Nonna, I have something to do first though.”
She looked at his Grandmother’s, “If you really cared about the boy you would not have let any of this happen today! Steve stay with him.”
* * * * * * * * * *
As Skye and Steve stood there, they could hear Travis and George arguing terms and roles. It made Skye cringe. He stepped forward and slammed his hand down on the table. “This is the Sabbath!” Even the Dean and Bishop Stedman looked on as they heard Skye shout! “I will not be sold like a commodity in the house of God. This is no better than money tellers in the temple father! Any agreements you have reached this day will not happen!”
He looked at Travis, George and Shane “You… You are no better than the others that treated me like a slave!” He looked at Travis, “Why did no one ever tell me I’d won the best actor Oscar for Forever father?” Travis looked shocked.
“Come on Steve my real family are waiting for me.” He looked at the others, “Don’t even think about following because at the moment I want nothing to do with any of you!” He looked at his dad, “How could you?” He turned and walked away.
Grams stood there looking at her son, “I’m shocked and ashamed of all of you.”
Skye turned on her. “Don’t you start lady you were at the table first with your notepad out making notes of all the offers. I looked around the house last night and in a locked cabinet in your son’s room is my awards! Not just my Oscar either, but several others. Four years since they awarded the Oscar and you all knew and never told me!” He glared at his Nanna Etta and accusingly very slowly stated, “You never told me!” Etta just totally ignored him.
Nonna had joined him and was holding on to him as was Mark. She glared at the others, “You, others if you want the boy so badly work this out in business hours and business terms or you will lose any chance you ever had of having him work for you… You…FAMILY if you ever do that to this boy again, I think you’ll lose him for good.”
She turned as they were heading out Travis smirked, “Is that a threat bitch?”
Nonna swung around and her hand swiped him hard across the face. “No sir that is a promise!” At that she calmly walked out with the rest of the staff and Skye being held up by Steve as Skye was openly sobbing.
Gramps looked at them all, shrugged and ran after Skye. Nonna looked at him, “What do you want Jerry?”
* * * * * * * * * *
George looked at the boy he really cared for as they walked out, “Oh my God what have we done Travis? How come he never knew about the Oscar?”
Shane said, “I bet she sold it for drug money. I should have realized.”
Travis shook his head, “We never told him so that he didn’t lose his edge. I have his awards locked away. Mum has been storing them for me.”
“Martha you knew?”
“Don’t ask stupid questions George.”
George, Shane and Travis caught up with Charles and Mark who were just leaving to follow Mary and the others.
Charles looked at them, “I would say you’re welcome to join the staff, but you’ve just made us all feel sick with how you bartered that boy back there. Find your own fucking food!”
The staff walked out and left them to it. The Dean looked at them. “That boy is so talented people will clamor to get their two bits worth because he’ll make what they’re doing a success.”
Travis looked at his old friend, “Yeah? Well, this was all your idea. You’re no better than a money teller in the temple!” Bishop Stedman was at the next table and heard it all.
The Dean nodded, “We were all wrong and you know it! You have to be there for him and separate him from the hoards or you’ll lose him. He’s emancipated now you know.”
* * * * * * * * * *
The men and ladies left to attend the club alone as the staff were all at the restaurant with Skye. As Skye entered the restaurant, he looked utterly lost even though the others in the restaurant had stood to applaud him as he entered. He smiled, “Thank you,” and sat down.
Moments passed, he took out his phone out and text his father. << Get rid of Shane I cannot work with someone who thinks so little of a Sunday. I’ll talk to you and George after I have had dinner with the people, I know love me. Be at the house by 14:00 this afternoon. >> He showed Gramps and Nonna the text. They nodded and once he knew that they approved he sent it.
He looked at his Gramps, “What do you do for a living?”
“I retired, but we have our own legal consultancy firm we still own.”
“Will you be my PA? Mark is going to be rather busy I am afraid with all of the hassle that throw at me all of the time. If not then…”
“I can...” he looked around the table, “… and I will. Grams can say what she wants, you need me around. Your father’s been influenced by the business too much to realize how it makes you feel.”
“Good, with Nonna as my house manager and you as my mentor and PA, I know I’ll be ok. When do we fly out to New York?”
Gramps smiled. “We head to the plane at three this afternoon. If you sleep on the plane, you’ll be fine. We’ll get there by about ten this evening.”
“Thank you for being here with me. Nonna will you all be okay when we go? I do not want Nanna to be with us.”
She smiled, “Of course as Mark and I have a lot to do, just let the bitch play up while you are not around. Mark also needs to organize the house schedule now that you’re here. Don’t worry he’ll be in his element as long as you call us every night darling.”
“You know I will.” She smiled and nodded.
They had a really nice meal together and just before 14:00 they returned to the mansion. Instead of facing everyone he went to his rooms, showered, changed and made sure his case was packed ready for the flight. Once he knew he was ready he went downstairs to the family room; they were all sat there waiting for him.
Mark met him at the door before going in. “They made it more than clear we were not welcome in the room. Come with me, your Nonna has the room surveillance activated and what we are hearing is very interesting.”
“Lead on, let the bastards wait!”
That’s all for now folks ... Chapter 11 will follow soon. I will continue to try to get at least one chapter posted per week as promised...
Let me have your comments and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org ... All suggestions considered.
I have to say a huge thank you to Nigel Gordon for his guidance and editing that has helped me so much.