I rinsed him off in the boy's showers and was eager to go to Kate's to see if Aisha's predictions were coming true. Alex and Spud with Tush and Bubble manned Rita's busy cafe as I waved to them and drove towards Kate's shop.
Nothing had prepared me for the scene that greeted us, firstly I couldn't get a parking spot so I drove up Anne’s driveway and parked behind Mavis's caravan.
Kate was dispensing her potions and looking quite bewildered, there was no room to move in the shop and even her lounge room was full of ladies.
"We have Armani belts and wallets in this box ladies, they were two hundred dollars each but are now just one hundred, but for today only. Buy your husbands a brand new wallet ladies, these offers won’t be repeated, all the brands are genuine and all the stock is first grade," Aisha shouted as some ladies went to look in the boxes.
Mavis was standing at the register smiling and when she saw me she used her pointing finger, urging me over.
"Den, your magic is working overtime, but could you settle it down a bit, these ladies are driving me crazy." She rang up another sale and smiled at me.
"I'll try Mavis but I really don't have that much clout in me." I laughed back. It was all just mayhem, so I ended up doing some wrapping for her.
I heard the register making all sorts of noises and Mavis was bundling up a wad of notes.
"Ten am sub total Den, fifteen grand and rising, and that's not counting the cash I didn’t ring up." She smiled as she walked behind the dispensary and handed it to Kate.
"I think you should be opening Evan’s store Den, these ladies love our dresses and we have been referring them on." Mavis again smiled that cheeky smile. I thought about it for a minute then relented and went back and opened Evan’s shop.
When I got back there was a line-up at the cafe and the shop. Evan hadn't come back so I opened anyway. He arrived fifteen minutes later.
"Go get some boxes of dresses bub, we are running out."
"Come on boys, work to do."
He rounded up the boys and they brought box after box into the shop and onto the porch. Luckily each box had the sizes on them so it was easier for the ladies to choose. My lounge room was used as a fitting room but we had locked the door to our bedrooms just in case. The bay was alive and shining today and we found out that some ladies that were in Kate's shop yesterday were radio announcers for the local Warragul station. The show was called, ‘Good buys in the area,’ and they were talking non-stop last night about their Golden Bay shopping experience. The news even spread to social media where local buy, swap and sell pages were also spreading the news.
I thought I might give Evan’s sunglasses a go so I went and got a box. I opened the smaller boxes and placed them in the display case that was part of his counter, moving his surfing pendants aside.
"We have all the top brand sunglasses ladies; they sell for hundreds elsewhere but are only one fifty a piece here, just for today," I shouted.
The rush to see them was frightening so I jumped out of the way, and luckily Evan had some of Tony's mirrors on his walls so the ladies could see them on.
They weren’t buying one pair, they were buying six or seven pairs for husbands, sons and friends. The coffee was sold by the gallons, and sandwiches and meals were placed on tables for Rita's customers. The two men that were Aisha's helpers were on board to help and the four guys had their little tight shorts on.
"Den, stop lingering, there's work to be done in here if you must insist on helping." I missed that voice as I opened yet another carton of clothes.
By three thirty it was all over rover, and as they left us with a big mess to clean up, the last customer waved us goodbye and Evan put his gone surfing sign out, then locked up.
Rita had snuck back to oversee her business and had said Kate's shop was settling down too.
"Fuck me Den, I haven’t even had time to do totals yet, but I can see it will be big."
"It is big baby, haven't you looked lately?" I touched his groin. He groaned. I then started pulling out big wads of notes from each pocket then I rummaged around in Ayden's shorts and found another one.
"You put money in our son's pocket?"
"Yes, he's very good at hiding things bubs, you did well son." I held him up and kissed him while Evan cleared his own pockets out.
"Did you notice no one argued over the prices bub, they paid up like they were expecting it, those sunnies went well."
"They did Den; I will have to work on displaying them better for tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" I groaned now.
"Yep, it will slow down but they will still come back over the next few weeks, then we can relax."
We worked until six, unpacking boxes and re-stocking the shop. Evan had stacked the sunnies on his counter top and placed a big price card in front of them, while more were placed in the glass case. His surfing pendants were stored away in a box beneath the counter. Tops, shorts and thongs were replaced and the shop looked full again.
He checked with his agent and Cody's and Aisha's containers were on the way. He also checked his next order and they were working on it as fast as possible. I have no doubt that this container will be empty by the time it arrives.
We had to go over to Tony's and help unload his Indonesian stock. Again, his shop looked wonderfully full and the rest of the stock we will do in the morning. We were hungry and tired. Kate and Donk came by and handed Evan a big envelope and there was a lot more than thirty grand in it, more like fifty. Her smile didn't leave her face all night as they ate with us. The girls were stuffed and high heels were kicked off as they relaxed. Aisha was planning tomorrow’s assault and the girls agreed they would be there again. Donk was slowly going through the container boxes and was finding all sorts of treasures, but he was also busy with Jack's work.
I was so tired when we got to bed but Evan wanted to play with me, so I laid back and let him do what he wanted. I got one of his specials and he got a special surprise when I asked him to finger me at the same time. I really got off with it, I squirmed for more and he indulged me. I was thinking about it later on but something was nagging at me so I asked him to pass the lube, this position is so much better, I like Evan on the bottom.
The girls were up early and wanted to go help Kate to re-stock the shop, I think it will be another busy day for them. My son was being naughty again and teasing Alex in the cafe. He came down the porch with some food in one hand and my kid under his arm. He was seated next to me and Horse automatically shifted him to his lap. Bubs looked at his toast and vegemite and put his sour face on, so I went to the cafe and got two cheese slices and popped them on the top. Well it sort of looked like a burger, so he ate it.
Evan had gone early with Trip and Patrick and I think Horse was going to help Tony with his furniture. Cyn came by just as the ladies were finishing. She was busy yesterday and expects it to be the same today, she wished the ladies good luck. They piled into Rita's car today and were driven over to the shop.
The bay was starting to look like a scene from, ‘The Dressmaker and all three women looked so elegant. I had noticed Mel was looking much more relaxed and she laughed at every opportunity, I guess love will do that for you.
I took the breakfasts down and smooched my baby as he was brought up to sit with me. He and Blue were first off the ranks followed by Pat, Nuts and Trip, then Evan and the boys. Arras was still riding a wave in but will be here soon. They waited for the king to turn up then started on their burgers, Arras had pulled Ayden onto his lap and he was smiling to himself. The boys were still full of holiday energy and teased Blue about his style of surfing.
"Not funny, he champions."
"That's champion bub," Blue corrected him.
They smiled at each other and I heard a giggle from Evan.
"What time do you want to open bub?"
"I'll come up soon, I think I should be on deck for the rush."
"I can do it bub, stay here if you want." I looked him in the eyes, he groaned and took my hand.
"Did you paint a lot while I was away?"
"Not really, I was busy chasing babies." I smiled.
"Well I suggest you get back into it, if the king took twenty you wouldn't have that many left now."
"I’ve got plenty to go on with, I will help you in the shop until it settles down bub." I did feel like painting but Evan’s shop comes first, I know he will be busy.
"I have to go help Tony and Horse today, that furniture has to be stored in his shed," Arras said.
"Well you have me and Nuts for a few hours," Trip offered.
Blue wasn’t included, he had to run Rita's cafe and I think Pat wanted to get back to the tea rooms, he said they were flat out too.
"Did you get onto Jack Den; we need more of your shadow boxes?" Evan asked.
"How many did we sell yesterday?"
"Seven Den, to the same customer, he thinks they will be a good investment." He grinned. They are a good investment, that's if the ass doesn't fall out of my popularity. There's always someone that is better or in vogue, I'm just lucky it's me at the moment.
Cyn arrived and after all the greetings were over she looked in the basket and took out a burger. Bubs was watching her and I think he wants one more too.
"Den do you have much stock left?" She asked.
"About fifteen Cyn, for sale that is, the others I won’t sell." I looked at Evan, they were either his nude ones or had him in them.
"I need another five for a big order, twenty all up."
"What?" Nuts nearly dropped his burger.
"I need twenty for a hotel in Dubai, it doesn't matter what the subject is as long as they have the fairy folk in them. They are considered very lucky there Den."
I looked at Arras who had gone silent.
"And what hotel is it Cyn?"
"A new one Den, they are just fitting it out now."
"Would that be the one you were involved in Arras?" I had my suspicions, and I have a long memory.
He cleared his throat as Ayden laughed.
"Well it is Den, but my designer decides on the artwork, I have very little to do with it." He smirked.
"I suppose you want family rates too."
"If you insist." I could see he was having fun with this.
"What did you quote them Cyn?"
"Ten mil Den." The numbers I am used to now, but it's the discount I have trouble with. He knows he could take them for free, but I know he won’t.
"Okay I'll think about it Cyn, maybe a twenty-five percent discount will do."
"That would be perfect Den, you had better get onto doing the last five, the foyer needs them asap."
"I will do a series Arras; they are worth their weight in gold."
"There's no need to do that Den, just your common ones will do." He grinned again.
"There's nothing common about any of his paintings Arras." Cyn stuck up for me.
"He knows what I mean," was his answer.
Bubs took his face in his small hands and looked him in the eye and said,
'Gift horth in mouth, bees quiets." He knows when to shut people up.
"I'll get onto them now, I suppose."
I looked Evan’s way, he was agreeable but said I should ring Jack before I start painting.
Back at the shack I began looking through my sketch book, I had no idea what I was going to paint. Maybe a series of Arras and Aisha's family on the beach? But Aisha once told me her country doesn't like the western look on their rulers, I would have to cover them up and that was disappointing.
I thought of something different to do, no adults in these ones, just the fairy and of course the magic baby, but I'll make the babies the king and queen and their five sons, like when they were all little.
I started the first sketch, inserting where the fairy folk would be, Ayden would be hidden in with the fairy folk, not in the forefront. He would be with his own king, queen and princes in the background.
I looked at each sketch of the boys I had done the other day, and although similar looking they were so different when I imagined them as babies. I had to get a snapshot of the older brother because I hadn't seen him in person yet. With each painting I would place one of their boys playing on the beach. The boys would have a plain white nappy on with a ghutra and a gold igal rope, so they should look fucking adorable. I know what they are called because I googled it once ages ago.
I went to get my canvas and some more paints and will use Evan and Ayden's Christmas ones, they are much brighter and I want these works to be bright and happy, just like the smiles on the baby’s faces.
I sketched as I also watched a stream of ladies and men go into the shop. Diners were taking up most of the tables and I saw more than one fishing rod leave the building.
Jack turned up just as I had finished the base drawing, I stopped and helped him unload then we both hung them in the shop. I took another load of coat hangers from Ayden's wardrobe and gave them to him, with an envelope.
"Twenty more thanks Jack." He looked stunned.
"I can't help it if I'm popular." I laughed.
He said hello to all the boys and left, he also said that it was standing room only in Katie's shop.
I helped ring up a few things until Evan shooed me away after asking if Ayden was okay in Rita's kitchen. I went to look for him and found him sitting in front of the TV with Rita's dress over his head again. He was talking to it as usual and I thought it sparkled more than ever. I played with him for a few minutes then went back to my painting. I started with son number five, Ali, he was easy to do because he was so fucking gorgeous, and even more cute as a baby. I placed the partying fairy folk around him as usual, then placed Ayden on his own surfing a wave. He was screaming into the wind and his grin was perfect. I’m ashamed to say, his azure blue eyes and red shorts were the brightest piece in this painting, he stood out. Well he's my baby and I think he's gorgeous too.
I then took another blank canvas from the spare room.
This one will have the fourth son Louie (as I called him) in it. I did the same as the previous painting and included Ayden but this time sitting on his board waiting for the surf to catch up.
I did three of them before I had to have another break. Ayden had run by and was now in our lounge room watching the ladies change. The empty cartons were stacking up so I waited until they had finished and scrunched them up and threw them over the back balcony. I looked at the time and it was three thirty, the shop only had a trickle of customers so I offered to let the guys go surfing.
"No Den, I will stay here, but the guys can go though," Evan offered.
"No, we will stay and help you clean up and re-stock, Den go paint." Nuts smiled.
I was shooed out of the shop so I went to get a coffee. Rita was on board and said she didn't want to disturb me so she snuck in an hour ago. She still had her girly gear on and with makeup on she looked fantastic. I hugged her and told her I liked her perfume.
"How did the shop go?"
"Good Den, it was settling down so I had to get back here, the girls are cleaning up. Den, she took over thirty grand today, I'm so happy for her." She was genuine, because Kate with all her guilt was an amazing lady.
"That's awesome honey, do you think she will be busy tomorrow?"
"Yes Den, but not as much as today. I think the weekends are going to be flat chat so Mike and Anne will be helping out there too, but I need to be here."
"To look after your dress?"
"Oh, he's been in my room again, that poor dress is getting so much wear. I don't mind Den; he looks after it." She giggled. Just as she said it a little kid in a fairy dress came running in.
"Nanny, nanny, ise does play dress, lots fairy sparkle."
"That's okay my lovely, you can play with it anytime you want." She picked him up and asked him if he was hungry for some spaghetti. He wears more of that stuff than he eats, so I told him if he's going to have some he should take the skirt off otherwise it will get dirty.
He nodded yes but likes her spaghetti, then that sour face arrived and he looked at me.
"Just a minute bub." Rita went to the kitchen drawer and took out a small art smock she had made for him. He looked so fucking cute I had to have a photo.
"No dirty," he yelled at me.
"Okay," I yelled back and it got him in a laughing fit he nearly collapsed on the floor.
"Is that my prince's you are drawing Den?"
"Yes Tush, a series of the five boys."
"It is good but don't forget the two eldest are twins."
""Really? God I didn't know that. Why didn't I know Rita?"
"You did, but you weren't listening as usual." She laughed as she popped a bowl of spaghetti in front of Ayden. I looked at him and he laughed. Then I got an image from him, a tiny girl with long brown hair and a gold Igal on her head, she was wearing a pink nappy. I stared at him again and shrugged.
"Queen sick," Ayden said.
"She's sick is she, what's wrong Bub?"
"No, don't know dah, uncle Tiny fix."
"Okay, I will get onto that as soon as she comes home."
I rang Tiny and thank God he had finished for the day and was on his way for a surf.
When Aisha arrived she looked tired but still bubbly in her usual manner.
"You need to see a doctor my friend, Ayden said you were ill."
"He said you were sick but Tiny can fix you."
"I do feel a little out of sorts Den, did he say what the matter was?"
"No but Tine's on his way and will give you a check up." I tried to smile but felt a real concern for her. She went to the cafe and talked to Bub but he had no new information only that she was sick.
I looked over at the sketches and she did look ill, but I instantly knew what it was when Ayden sent me another image of her in hospital holding a baby, he had her looking like Wilma Flintstone, she had a big bone in her hair. The baby was a girl, and after all their trying for a little girl, it's finally going to happen, a friend for little Emma I think.
Arras ran up the stairs and held onto his wife then checked her over, he was worried. I rang Tiny and told him he might want to swing by Kate's and get a pregnancy test kit.
He laughed down the phone and asked if I had told them yet. I said no, I needed confirmation. Everyone was concerned but no one was getting any more information out of Ayden.
Rita looked distraught, she loved Aisha and she too was worried. I told her I needed to talk to her in private so took her into Evan’s shop and had a word with her. That fixed her up, her glum look turned into smiles. Ali and the boys rushed up from the beach, he had been crying and his mother's arms around him soothed his concerned heart. Only God knows what's going on in his head but I suddenly had a thought.
"How old are you Aisha?"
"What's that got to do with anything Den?"
"Please don't be difficult, can you please just give me a ballpark figure?"
I out stared her and that face changed back to her beautiful one, and she said,
"What's wrong mum, please, what's wrong?" Ali pleaded.
She looked at him then she looked back at me. I mouthed, 'a little girl,’ to her. She put her hands to her face and wept loudly. I guess it's an Arab thing, her moans were heard all over the bay. Ayden came down the porch, he had finished destroying his spaghetti and wanted a cuddle.
Tiny arrived as all this was going on, but she couldn't help herself.
"It's a girl." She looked at Arras and his shocked look would have made Hannibal’s army run away.
"A baby?" Ali's demeanour changed instantly.
"You’re too old mum," one of the boys said.
She gave him a filthy look and replied,
"Have respect for your mother and little sister, on your knees infidel." He did what he was told but was giggling his head off.
"Well I guess you need confirmation so here's your pregnancy test Aisha, go welcome your daughter to the world," Tiny declared as he passed over a box. Both Arras and Aisha went into our bathroom to await the results, which of course were positive.
The celebration had started before they arrived back and Arras was so happy he couldn’t speak. I added up what I knew about the boy’s ages and put Aisha at about forty, but I had forgotten her first born babies were twins. I showed Arras what I was going to do for his hotel foyer and he was again speechless, but did manage to say,
"Do five more, I want these ones for my walls."
I gave him my, ‘I give up look,’ so he said, okay leave it as it is.
I thought he might want to share his babies with the world, and they would look great in any hotel foyer.
She was kissed, hugged and cushions appeared from everywhere for her to sit on. Aisha was mostly crying in between Arras's kisses and his big arms were mostly around her. They both had called their other son and she wept down the phone.
"Okay son, you did well," I replied, then we both slapped hands.
He decided he wanted to dance with Ali's brothers so that fairy dress was swished around by a not so gentle little boy.
Birdy was more excited than anyone, he's going to be a great big brother.
Again Kate and Donk arrived with another envelope containing the day's takings, their grins were beautiful to see as they handed it to Evan.
I also saw an envelope being handed to Ali and I found out later it was cash for the furniture they had taken, he too handed it to Evan to put with their other investments. He had enough money and the furniture was a gift after all. The party went on until the small hours, but I didn't stay because I had one planned in my bedroom with just Evan and me. Bubs was out like a light when he put his head down, the fairy dress all forgotten and looking a bit exhausted lying on the floor in a heap.
My man was my priority tonight and he was shining when I had finished our first round. I didn't get a third one because he had gone to sleep on me, but I did play with him a bit.
I watched as Evan used his muscles to stretch his tight wet suit on in the morning, it was awesome to watch. He kissed me then quickly ran out the back door so I turned over and put my hands between my legs, I wanted to remember last night. I felt the gentle rocking of the bed then some small kisses as Ayden snuggled into me and had another ten minutes’ sleep.
This is what it's all about, this is almost the perfect wake up call, except Evan wasn’t there, that would make it more awesome.
"Nanny!" He struggled to get out of bed, he must have heard her in the kitchen. I followed and unlocked the doors so he could go greet Rita. I showered then made my way up to the cafe. To my surprise Ayden was eating a burger as Rita looked at me and shrugged.
"Won’t hurt him every now and then." I agreed with her.
"Are you going to Kate's this morning?"
"No Den, I have put myself on call, I need to do some cooking today and she's got Mavis and Anne to help, also I think Mike’s going to be next door anyway. He's doing more of your shadow boxes. Jack’s really busy today with Horse’s stuff."
"Okay, maybe I’ll swing by and see if they need help then." She tapped her ladle on the stove and said,
"You are going with us later on this morning to order some bigger safes. We can see if they need any help when we drop ours off to them." I guess she's been talking to Evan.
"Okay, I might swing by the art shop too while we are there, is Spud up?"
"Not yet but I heard Ali groaning so they won’t be too far away."
She laughed. I was handed a pot of coffee as I kissed my son’s head then went to sit in my spot to watch the world go by. I was thinking about all the people here in the bay and wondered if Evan would be up for moving down the coast a little, just to get some time to ourselves. I sighed as I looked at the canvas on the easel, I will try to finish that one today. Ali looked so sweet in his nappy with his hands sweeping the sand, I hope he doesn't mind but he had dribble escaping from his lips, it was so cute. I didn't trance but I did have the urge to paint, so I mixed some paint and began working on it.
Later I heard a whirring sound, it was Birdy who was riding up to say good morning to me. I put my brush down because I will always find time for him.
"Good morning son, how did you sleep?"
"Good poppa Den, I have to meet my friends this morning, we are going to play at the oval."
"Good, now where's my hugs?"
We did the usual and I lifted him up onto my knees. I was telling him I had spoken to Ayden, and his friend will come here but not for awhile yet so he must be patient. He was very happy all of a sudden and I hoped maybe he would come within weeks not months.
After we’d talked I watched him speed down the road on his rider to meet his mates. Hulk had made a trailer to attach to it so he had his ball and what I think were some sandwiches tucked in it.
I painted away until Evan kissed my neck and instantly I wanted to get into bed, but he whispered for me to get ready, they were going into town.
He loaded up the two little safes and we four headed towards Kate's chemist shop. We put one in Jack’s place and one in Donks’, Kate was still busy but they were coping. Aisha was on a high and calling out prices and ringing up sales while Kate was grinning from ear to ear watching the spectacle.
"She's a bit on a high Den," Rita said.
"She will be until her daughter is born I think, god help us." I giggled.
Ayden sent me an image of Aisha screaming her head off and I laughed even louder as Evan and Rita stared at me.
"Come on let's go," I said.
We managed to get two safes the same size and the shop man helped Evan carry them out to the car. We then went to the baby shop and bought up big on pink jumpsuits.
Ayden wanted to call in to see Susan but we didn't have the time today, Evan needed to be in the shop.
Horse and Nuts helped carry them into our bedrooms when we got back and Evan placed the envelopes and boxes into it. I went to Ayden’s room and retrieved the coins I had thrown under his bed.
"What's that Den?"
"Ayden's money from the dwarves’ bub, remember?"
"Oh yes, and why has he got so much?"
"I told you, they had excess gold to get rid of and sent it in exchange for the paintings they took."
"They have his face on them." He toyed with one.
"Yes, they all love him so much they printed his image on the coins. He even read their old texts to them that they haven’t been able to read for eons."
He placed the sack into the safe and then turned to look at me.
"He read their texts, how?"
"They had a big fight when you were away so Ayden went into their world to show the other kingdoms he was their prince too. They took the paintings to place in their palaces. The gold is a thank you for lending him to them, and for the paintings they took."
"I thought we decided he wasn't to go into their world."
"He sort of did but didn't bub, he was with me all the time, only his image went."
"So how come he could read the texts Den, if he was only an image?"
I never thought of that, I just thought it was a mind thing.
"I don't know how it works bub, but he was only gone for fifteen minutes. My father told me he was a teenager there and could understand many languages."
The stare got harder, I know what he's thinking, but everything turned out okay in the end.
I never thought I would ever see Evan do what he did next, and as if a bomb went off he looked at Ayden then me and said,
"Don't you ever dare send him into that world again Den, Ayden are you listening, do not go there again, do you hear me?"
He pointed his finger at me and tapped me on my shoulder.
"Don't do this to me again Den.”
"It's okay bub, he wasn't in any danger, all he had to do was appear and everyone was happy. I watched over him, he was okay." Then I whispered,
"Not in front of him baby, please."
He pushed me onto the bed and walked out. I grabbed my son and kissed him, he was a little upset because he's never seen Evan so mad, and neither had I.
We sat on the bed for ages then I finished locking the safe. I wanted to spend time with my son so I took him out the back yard and got his trike out so he could have a ride, but he wasn’t interested, he just wanted his pa.
After walking back to the porch I stopped in the shop and handed Ayden over to him.
"Make our son feel better Evan, he didn't deserve that." I was mad now because I don't want my son to have any guilty thoughts. It was my decision and I know I made the right one.
After several minutes Evan brought Ayden out and sat next to me.
"I'm sorry Den, I was just scared that's all. What if he hadn't been able to come back to us?"
"He could bub, he's got more magic in him than all the fairy folk put together, he released the fairy from her cage, he surfs on his own, they don't help him with that. He's loaded with magic, but I get your point, so it won’t happen again."
"See that it doesn't Den, I want him here with us, not in some imaginary world."
"It's real bubs, you should know that by now."
"I do, but I've yet to see it, and I don't think I want to."
"That's probably why you don't bub, because you don't believe, which means you don't believe me either."
He leaned in and kissed me and handed over a now smiling boy and said,
"Paint Den, and of course I believe you, I always have."