Sykes’ son Peter knocked on the bedroom door at 08:00 in the morning like he always did and was shocked to see that Conan was nowhere to be found. He did note that his running shoes were missing, so he assumed that he had gone for a run. Smiling he set the clothes out for the day, then ran the bath. At the same time his daughter made the bed, tidied and dusted while the place was clear.
Fifteen minutes later Conan arrived with Mario and Zander having been jogging with them. It had been late last night and Conan had been unable to sleep, so had made his way to the kitchen to make himself a hot chocolate. There he bumped into Zander, it was then that they arranged to go jogging…
* * * * * * * * * *
Standing in the kitchen the lawyer looked at Conan, “You know you do know me. You and my Uncle worked together on the latest Kaylock restaurant. Attwood Construction is owned by my Uncle.”
“So, you’re the nipper he said ran riot when you were younger and that he was so proud of.”
“Yep… When I graduated and got the experience, I needed he sent some clients my way, that was how I met Mario. I know he’s your dad, it was me that told him he had to tell you. The guy is crazy about you Conan. He told you about his will, what he did not tell you is that when he leaves the business to me, he is leaving you as the sleeping owner, so that I am working for you.”
Mario stood at the door in just a bathrobe that had fallen loose, “Yes I am.”
They looked at him and laughed, Zander looked at him, “Is it foggy out their sweetheart? Your lighthouse is lighting the way for you!”
Mario looked down and blushed closing the robe. “At least mine does lead the way, more than some others my age. They have to send a search party for yours dear … Conan while Maria was alive, she refused to let me have anything to do with you as she knew that I would have protected you from what she was doing. I wanted to be here for you. I did watch over you from afar. I don’t know what she told you about…”
With the chocolate finished Conan was feeling tired at last. “Look I need to sleep, but will be up at seven to go jogging if you two want to join me.”
* * * * * * * * * *
As he walked into the bedroom Peter was standing there ready to wash the boy he loved as his own. Conan just dropped his clothes and walked through to the bathroom as Peter gathered the sweaty clothes on the way. Once the place was clear he walked into the bathroom, stripped and climbed in to the whirlpool bath with Conan. He wasn’t gay, but he loved the boy and would have done anything for him. As they were cuddling after the bath Conan said, “Do you think that I will ever meet someone like Zander, Peter?”
“All I know is that if anyone deserves happiness then it’s you. Do not be unhappy with your Uncle Mario, he isn’t bad. The business he’s giving to Zander isn’t crime or anything like that. I know what your mother told you… she was wrong.”
Conan looked at him, “What is it then?”
“Matty goes to London all of the time and goes into the clubs down there. He’s gay, you know that. He goes to London to go to Mario’s clubs. Your father owns gays bars and clubs all around the country with other businesses, but they are all gay oriented.”
“WOW, I guess he rakes the money in.”
Conan dressed and arrived at breakfast just as Mario and Zander walked in. Conan looked at him, “The car will be leaving at 10:00, so we don’t have to rush breakfast. The morning papers are over there if you’d like to read them.”
The breakfast was simple and as they sat with at the table Conan nodded and the staff joined them, so that the food did not go to waste. As Sykes walked in, he was saying “My Lord this is not right…”
“Look Sykes if you can invite me to dinner last night, then I can have my family come over to have breakfast with me in the morning and you have always been my family. I know Paddy and Shaun are still in the kitchen as they work in the stable and gardens, but please make sure that they and their men get enough to eat. Oh… changing the subject, Peter make sure the car is outside at 10:00.”
“Yes, my lord.”
* * * * * * * * * *
They spent the rest of the morning at the funeral home identifying Conan’s mother and then each of them had time to properly say goodbye. Conan felt empty, because other than the staff he had always been alone. She had never been there for him, except to bleed him of his cash.
Soon after getting home, while he was changing, Peter knocked on his door. “Enter.”
“Conan, your lawyer is here.”
“Peter, why did I feel nothing when I saw mother?”
He looked at his boy, “I am glad you let me go with you. You’re like a son to me you know. I think it’s because even though you loved her, they had always been distant; so much so that it was like saying goodbye to a complete stranger. Now come on, let’s get this business sorted, then you can move on. Mario seems like a good man and he has been here far more for you than either of them ever were.”
As Conan walked into the Library, he was greeted his good friend Stephen. Mother had hated the fact that he had hired his own solicitor as soon as his father died, especially since Stephen was Gay. She tried to move forward without reading the will and Conan wasn’t happy as she seemed to be hiding things. So, he asked Sykes to hire him a lawyer. Sykes called a friend of a friend and Stephen had been the family solicitor ever since.
As they were chatting Conan pulled the bell, “Peter can you to invite Mario and Zander to join us.”
When they came in, he said, “Mario, Zander this is Stephen my solicitor.”
“Stephen Jenkins of Jenkins, Hawkins and Smythe if I am not mistaken.”
Stephen smiled, “Zander Hawkins, of Jenkins, Hawkins and Smythe if I am not mistaken. Mr. Hawkins how the devil are you?... Mario it’s been a long time.”
“Well since you introduced me to this hunk and he took over from you as my personal solicitor what do you expect?”
Conan looked shocked. Stephen just smiled, “Lord Vimbaston, Zander is the son of my father’s best friend who was partner in the law firm with him.”
“Small world...” Conan felt threatened for some reason.
Zander looked nervous as he laughed, “Father was the friend that Sykes contacted when they put you in touch with Stephen. Mario wanted to make sure that you were protected against what your mother could do to the estate. Sorry if you’re upset”
“No… No, I’m not upset. It explains quite a lot. But if the law firm is so honest, how come they can act for your other stuff. You know your boys…”
“Your mother let her imagination run wild!”
“Zander quiet, let me explain. It was the only way she could get you to stay away from Mario,” said Stephen.
“You know even though a hit was out to get the money from your mother nothing criminal was ever done. She killed herself, as she knew she couldn’t get out of the trench that she’d dug for herself. Suddenly she had no one else that she could bleed funds from. You were the last one that she approached for money. Her father literally threw her out and her friends have been ignoring her. She had become a social pariah,” said Zander.
“So, is it just bars, clubs and strip joints that you own?”
Mario laughed, “Yes, but they are all gay. I also have some casinos, gyms, hotels and saunas. Zander doesn’t want the business because he knows that I want you to have it. It would be kept separate from Kaylock. All of the different clubs and such, even the online businesses that are just starting are held under one company … Cottage PLC.” Conan went to say something but Mario held up his hand, “No, do not ask what that means as we will not tell you.”
“Oh, I think I can guess!”
Mario smiled, “We’ve all had fun in them, but they are disappearing these days. Hell, one in Newcastle was even called Ann Hathaway’s Cottage! Anyway, as of today you are the sole shareholder of the company. It’s a private company, not listed on the stock exchange. The directors will remain the same, the only change is you are the only shareholder. Stephen has agreed to sit as the Managing Director, which makes sense as he’s known as a gay man in London. I want Sykes to sit on the board on your behalf. The owner as far as the company is concerned will be Lazy T Ranch in America which as you know you own, but it is not connected to Kaylock.”
Conan smiled because when Fred went to America, he had purchased several smaller ranches and combined them all into the one known as Kaylock. They did leave a small one called Lazy T though, so that the ownership was in the family name. “That means you’ve signed everything over to me,” gasped Conan.
“Yes, I should have done it a long time ago. I have all of the money that I will ever need, so all of the businesses are now yours. When I die, Stephen and Zander have instructions to sign any properties and my homes over to you. Zander has chosen the one we share to be the one that he wants to keep. The rest will be yours.”
Conan looked at Zander, “Are you sure?”
Zander smiled, “When Mario dies, I’ll inherit more money than I could ever spend. It’s yours and you were always the one that he wanted to have it. I need nothing. I just ask that if you can help abused or neglected gay teens with the money, that you help them unconditionally just like Mario did with me.”
“Our family always have ever since Myles saved his son that was called Tommy; so yes, I would do that anyway.”
The meeting continued well into the evening with all of the necessary transfers being made, so that the businesses were now owned by Conan. Mario looked at him as the meetings came to an end, “Return to America, I know that you miss it. Your management company will take over everything and Stephen as your Managing Director will report to them. Let your people look after your interests over here and in Europe for Cottage Plc. We’re moving over to the States and then we will appoint a manage.” Conan looked at him confused. “Son, I have done all of this as I know that I only have a certain amount of time left due to an illness and I want to make sure that you are well looked after.”
“Is there …”
“There is nothing that you can do, except be a good boy and make me proud of you.”
Mario and Stephen stayed with Conan at the towers until the funeral of Conan’s mother. Conan wanted to keep it a quiet family event, but since he was a cousin to the royal family they were represented, as was the government. Zander arrived mid-week after having to go to complete the transfers to Conan. They were there to help Conan cope after all he was the Marquis and no one had ever tutored him in his duties.
By the Saturday Conan was a lot more familiar with expectations that the people placed on landed gentry. Stephen agreed his firm would act as his agents where the title was concerned and would summon him back to England, only if needed.
With the funeral out of the way, Conan and Billy travelled to London to visit the royal family and to spent some time with the kids that he had grown up with. Even when his parents had been absent the family had insisted on including the little lonely boy after one of the young prince had voiced that he was worried about his cousin only having beans on toast for Christmas.
On his last day in London he went to the Albert Hall with Mario and the royal family. As they were sitting there the main tenor failed to arrive on stage as the music for ‘Younger than Springtime’ started. Suddenly the music stopped as the current leading soprano on the London stage walked on.
“Ladies and Gentlemen the tenor has been taken ill and we are afraid that the evening’s entertainment will be cancelled unless as the music plays one of you can replace him on stage. We know, it is a lot to ask.”
The music started again, but this time it was ‘I’ll Walk with God’ from the Student Prince. As the music reached the point where a voice should have been heard Conan stood and looked at his aunt, Lady Marie Gripensley, lady in waiting to the queen and mouthed ‘Sorry’. She smiled and nodded and then he started to sing. The cameras caught the shock on her face as he stood started to sang with all of his heart. Suddenly the hall filled with the most amazing sound.
After the first stanza the conductor turned, “If the gentleman could join us on stage we will continue.”
Conan looked at the Lady Marie and his Uncle, she smiled, “Go on boy and make your Aunty proud.” He broke all etiquette and kissed her cheek, hugged his friends the princes and ran off. There was a gasp as he kissed her. Once he was out of sight, she looked at the audience “What can I say? He’s my nephew!” Giggles heard throughout the hall.
At that moment the music started again, but it was ‘Give Me Some Men’ from New Moon which had just opened in the West End. As he walked forward from the auditorium men stood up and marched to the stage with him. As they reached the stage, all of the men in the place were standing in the audience were singing with the boy; which surprisingly had started with the young princes and his uncle.
As they took their bow Conan looked up at his Aunty, “This one is for you Aunty with all my love.” The female star of New Moon walked on at that point and the orchestra started playing ‘Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life’. As the song ended and applause died down, he paced the front of the stage and then looked up at the royal box.
“You know aunty I want to sing you a love son.” At that the music started and he sang the Mario Lanza version of ‘Rose Marie’. It was stunning and the place was in shock by its beauty.
As the music stopped everyone heard the sound of a soprano humming the tune of the Indian Love Song. He smiled and told the story of the Indian Lovers that called each other across the mountains and as he told the story the audience heard the first line sung by the female but it was in the distance. He looked at them all “See what I mean?” At that he started to sing the Indian Love Song to an empty stage, suddenly a spotlight was on the box next to the Royal box where the female star had been taken. Together they sang and their voices melded together beautifully.
At that the stage had filled with the chorus and they hummed the tune of the next song before Conan simply said, “In my darkest moments this is the song that kept me going. I’d like to sing it for you now. To my mind as a young boy it was singing about my aunt Marie.” At that Ave Maria started and he sang it with the purest voice that any one had ever heard.
As Lady Marie listened, tears flowed down her cheeks as she remembered the little boy that used to fall asleep on her lap and how upset she was when he had to go home. Now that little boy was singing his heart out and it was magnificent and she could tell that he was crying as he sang. As the music died the public had fallen in love with Conan.
As the Applause died down, he shouted to the audience “Ladies and Gentlemen please be standing as we wish the Lady Marie a happy birthday.”
Suddenly everyone was singing happy birthday to her, led by her special little boy. She stood as the applause started and looked at him, “If you ever need me my darling boy, when you move to America, you call and we’ll be there. This I promise, I love you. Ladies and Gentlemen my Godson the Marquis of Vimbaston.”
“Aunty choose your poison what do you want next?”
“I’ve heard you sing this to me in the past and I love it still. You know the one, you sang to me when I was in hospital having Chucky.”
He smiled, “Maestro if you please, Maria if you please.” Conan and his Uncle Max had planned this trip for months. His visit to London had been to rehearse ready for when the show Lady Marie attended. It was on his bucket list of to do “Things” before the ship sailed.
Marie loved it and she would never forget her birthday present that year. At the end of the evening Conan nodded to the conductor and he started to sing ‘Wish me Luck as you Wave Me Goodbye’. Suddenly the stage was full of the chorus and other singers as they joined him and then they heard Prince of Wales shout, “Three cheers for Lord Vimbaston…” He knew then he would always have a home in England, but he had to do this… for himself.
That’s all for now folks ... Chapter 7 will follow soon... I'll 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.
Though I have read through the chapters many times since they were written, an editor never goes adrift, please let me know if you are interested.