We locked up early and I went on to look at the old salon, it's nearly finished and I was looking forward to coming back here to work, even though I had met some nice clients at the other one, but this is home for me. All traces of that terrible day had been painted over or replaced, the tea room was a lot bigger and the storeroom now had a wall of shelving and lockable cupboards, it looked so much neater than before.
The guys were doing the finishing touches and I had eventually received my check from the insurance company. I had paid Kasey back, he argued I should keep it but I won in the end.
“When do you think I can open again Peter?” I said to the guy in charge.
“Any time after the weekend Adam, its only window dressing from now on.”
"Okay, I will aim for the middle of the week."
I was very happy and although we won’t have any bookings I will open this salon then, come rain or shine. I headed home to see if I had a pack of little kids living with me now, Kasey stood up and stretched, I don’t think he has moved since his morning.
“You smell nice Adam with an A.” He snuggled into my shoulder.
"Thank you, Kasey with a K, you too. Did you get much done today?”
“Yes, I know which one mum is going to buy and I also have been talking to the owner of the company, he’s going to give us a big discount.” He grinned.
“I kissed him again and asked about the kids, he said he was still working on it, then he grabbed my ass for a good feel, it was then that Carol came through the door.
“Oh, am I early boys?” She giggled as she dropped some bags onto the kitchen bench.
“I just got in myself Carol, did you get much done today?”
“I certainly did, they are going to deliver the bedroom suits after I get the flat up and ready.”
"Oh mum, look at this one, it's a one-off unit, and the owner said we can have it at a very reasonable price.”
She moved over to look at it and I went to run the bath, Carol or not I am going to stick to my routine.
When I came back out she said she had bought a roasted chicken for dinner, would I like veggies or have it in a roll with chips and gravy, no brainer the chips and gravy won hands down. I stripped and scattered some salts in the hot bathtub. I had just sat down and was ready to slide into it when clothes were thrown everywhere and Kasey was in it with me.
“That’s better Kasey, we couldn’t do this if we move to Canberra now could we?” He smiled blushed and said sorry at the same time. I slid down so my feet were resting on his thighs, then I turned my toes in to grab a foot full of manhood that surprisingly was standing to attention.
“So maybe you have had second thoughts about going to Canberra?”
"Yes Adam, we had a plan and I loved that plan. It's just your father is my superior, and I have to take orders from him. Although he didn't order me to do it, he indicated it would be in my interest to take notice of him."
“I see, then he pulled rank on you, in a roundabout sort of way.” That talk I am going to have with dad on the weekend is going to be heavy going I think.
“Well he sort of intimidates me a bit, he made me feel like I must do it his way, or else.”
“Do you know what the, or else means?”
“Not a clue.”
“Leave it to me then.”
“Please don’t get involved he might make it harder for me at work.”
“He won’t, believe me.” I was confident about that.
We dressed and went out to find Carol standing over the stove making gravy, everything else was laid out on the kitchen bench for us to help ourselves.
“Nearly finished boys, Kasey your phone rang while you were in the bath.”
He picked his phone up and looked at the message then he turned it off and replaced it into its charging dock.
“No, just the heads up for a job tomorrow, we are flying out early to Sydney, doing some airport work there, they are having a massive immigration spot check and expect to find a lot of illegal stuff."
“You should get lawyer cards printed Kase, and hand them out to the offenders.” I laughed my head off, he smiled.
The dinner was delicious, I could get used to these easy meals Carols serving up. She sat on the sofa with Kasey and they watched a game show while I did the dishes, I then took the phone into the bedroom and rang mum.
We talked for an hour then I had to talk to Billy, who surprisingly was eager to talk to me. I suppose he now believes I am his real Steven, he was telling me about the cartoon he had been watching this morning, I think by the way he was telling me he thought I was watching it too so I faked my way through the conversation. Who the hell is Cliff, I guessed he was a dog but I have never heard of him, I must try and watch it if I can find it.
Dad wasn’t at home but I will catch up with him on the weekend, Kasey isn’t going to Canberra and I’m not in the right frame of mind to play games with my dad, or anyone else that wants to change our lives. As soon as Carol leaves there will be just Kasey and me, and that's the way I want it to be.
The rain was pelting down outside, I checked the drains, they were clear and doing their job then I decided I was getting tired and bored so I changed for bed. Kasey came in around ten and he was like the Flash, his clothes were off and his arms were around me within seconds. He was licking my neck in long strokes and I was moaning for more, his lamp was still on and in the dim light, I thought I had died and gone to heaven once again as he straddled me.
I had Kasey up at five, he was ready to go downstairs by six. I watched him as he got into the lift then I went to shower, I may as well stay up now. I pottered around until Carol came out then I made us a coffee and toast.
“Any plans for today Carol?”
“Yes, I have to go see the lawyer I need to get this divorce started.”
“Right, have you heard anything from him?”
"No Adam and I don't expect to, he will try and make it as hard as he can for me, but I don't care anymore I can go the distance I have done it all before with his moods." She smiled.
"Well, I for one think you are doing the right thing for you."
"Thank you, do you think you can fit me in today, I will be over your side of town?"
“What time is your appointment?”
“Why don’t you come with me and I’ll get you fixed up before the meeting.”
“Okay if that’s all right with you.”
“Of course it is.”
We drove to the salon a little earlier than usual and I had her sitting at my station by the time the staff had arrived. A new look for my dear mother in law today and no arguments from her, I dyed cut and styled her hair to within an inch of her scalp it was awesome, that Judy Dench look was right up her alley and she wore it perfectly. She gasped, and did look ten years younger, she grabbed and kissed me thanking me for making her an individual again. She will have a lot more confidence when she meets with her lawyers today. She stayed for another coffee and a biscuit and we talked about what sort of clothing she should buy, I think she got it, she was still quite slim so she will look like a retired model if she takes my styling advice.
When she left I had a meeting with the staff, I wanted to know for sure who was coming with me and who wasn’t. Trish will run this salon no question and she rattled off the names of the girls that will be working for her. Trev and Janice will stay and so will Anne, because they live closer to here, and they can also alternate if they want a change of scenery, or an old client asks for them specifically. Tim Eva and I will go to the other one, we have three new girls and a guy who I will ring to start work next week when the bookings start coming in again.
My phone had three messages, Kasey was in Sydney getting ready for his long day arresting smugglers. There was a message from mum that read. 'Your brother wants to know if you watched Cliff the big dog this morning.’
‘Mum I don’t even know who he is.’ I sent back.
‘A cartoon dog son.’
‘Oh, tell him yes, can I get him on DVD?’
“Okay listen up, does anyone know anything about a cartoon dog called Cliff?”
Things went silent then Trev put his hand up.
“Have you watched him?”
“Umm yes sometimes he’s on the TV while I’m having breakfast.”
“Good, get over here and bring me up to date, what kind of dog is he?”
“A big orange one.”
Then I made him tell me all he knew about the hound.
I will look for some DVDs on my way home.
Trev knew more than he was telling me, and he was blushing through his synopsis. I had a grasp on who he was and probably could hold up a conversation about the dog with my brother, but I have to watch him too.
I will also look at the TV programs and find out what time he’s on in the mornings.
The third message was from Peter about the salon. It just read.
'All finished Adam, we will leave the extra keys with the commander.'
I shot back a sincere thank you to him.
“I will be going to the other salon today, it’s finished and I want to see if everything is as it should be. Anyone that wants to come by is most welcome.” Everyone said they would love to have a look, so I told them we would close up early today. I will call into the commander’s office and get the spare keys, or maybe I will get Tim to leave early and that for me.
“Are you going to be okay Janice?” I put my arm around her shoulders.
“Yes Adam, I need to go back and walk through it, just to convince my brain that everything’s going to be okay there.”
“It will be honey, and I think you should wander through it and take your time to replace the awful memory of that day with good ones. When you feel a bit more confident you might even consider working there a few days a week, I will miss you and Trev very much.”
“We are going to miss you too Adam, and that’s a good idea we could do that on our off days here. It's really not the same, I miss all our customers who can't get to this one.”
“Well you have known them for a long time, I’m sure they will be asking about you, and if you want to go back there full time just let me know please.”
“I will Adam, but for now I’m happy to potter around here, who knows what the future holds things might change.”
I let her get on with her job and went to check the appointment books, it wasn’t very full for this week but next week we will be busy as here. And by the looks of it, the following week will be busy also.
The other book was for the old shop, hardly anything in it but when our old local customers get to know its open again they will flock back, I’m sure of it.
“Are you going to handle it okay Trish?” She giggled.
"You're having separation issues Adam, and of course, we are going to be all right. Stop thinking about us and concentrate on the old shop, we are just a phone call away or a short drive anyway, I would like you to take more time off, get back into trolling the alleyways."
“I have to do something about all this spare room, that’s what I have to do.” I ran my hand through my hair.
“Come with me.” She led me to the tea room and sat me down.
“What have you go in mind, I know it’s been ticking over, well I hope it has.” I laughed.
“Read this morning’s local newspaper, page three to be exact.”
She handed the paper over and I turned to the required page. There was a write up about local identity Cody Mitchell, I knew Cody he was the events manager for the Brisbane Bombers and I have done his hair several times. The write up was about his big contract with Armani, and it said he was releasing a label of his own. He said in that piece that he was looking for a shop in the Brisbane area to showcase his designs.
"I need to get my work out there, up to now it's been private clients and Armani, but my fans are screaming for a Cody Mitchell outlet here in Brisbane." The interview went on to talk about his amazing success in the fashion industry, it was a dream come true for him.
I looked at Trish and shrugged my shoulders.
“He has an appointment this afternoon Adam, talk to him about your excess space.” She grinned.
“He wouldn’t want to put his stock in here Trish, he will be looking more at the big exclusive shopping centers."
“You mean your salon isn’t up to his standards, well, with all due respect I would much rather his goods than the Vintage stuff, that may turn into looking more like a second-hand goodwill shop Adam."
I thought about it and agreed it might too.
“What do I do then?”
“You have to convince him his designs would even sell from the back of a truck at the moment, and this warehouse is a perfect place for him to start up. Stacks of room, out of the mainstream business area loads of parking, all that and more. It would be good for your business and his, more coffee?” She giggled.
“Yes please, do you think he will go for it, saves me setting one up and I can give him cheaper rent.”
“No you don’t, charge him the normal rent, he's got money to burn, it's business Adam he will see it that way too." She made our coffees and placed Nona's biscuits on the table, I took one and bit into it thinking how do I help Trish get ahead, she's a bloody gorgeous friend, without her I would be lost.
“I will talk to him today, maybe move the conversation around to this newspaper interview.” I tapped the newspaper.
“You do that.” Again that lovely smile from her perfect set of lips.
He walked in around two, my staff knew who he was and they all welcomed him and congratulated him on his European catwalk shows. A lovely good looking young man with an air of sophistication and the devil in his eyes. I washed his hair then sat him at my station while he bought me up to date on his good fortune.
“So, what are we doing here today Cody?”
“I need a complete change, Dan is becoming very complacent of late and he’s started treating me like a piece of the furniture. So I need another look.” He giggled.
“So you want the usual flip and blonde highlights then?”
“Yes please.” He screamed with laughter.
"Dan would kill me if I had it any other way, Adam."
“I thought so, he would kill me too for changing you.”
“How is it all going, are you nearly back on track. I’m sorry I haven’t been around for support but I have been a little busy myself.”
“Yes I know, I have been reading up on your escapades in the local paper. My old salon will open again this Wednesday and I am looking forward to getting on with the job.”
“Good to hear, this new place is amazing you have done well with the fittings they are superb Adam.”
"I have a big problem at the moment, I was going to install a vintage clothing shop in that huge space over there but I'm now thinking it might look like a second-hand shop. I don't suppose you know anyone that's looking for some space to show off his new collection. You know plenty of parking reasonable rent, nice people around all day."
“I’ll take it, but it might be too big for my stock.”
“Order more, install a coffee nook, put up some TV’s and show the fashion channel all day, hang your racks from the ceilings match me one for one with vintage mirrors and chandeliers, put some hunky guys in to run it, find a manager you can trust and that’s all you have to do.”
“It’s finding the staff that’s the problem.”
"Oh, Cody you know heaps of hunks at the footy club, don't you have junior players that would look good in your shop? We get out of work girls in this shop too, they are always asking for work and I don’t mean housewives either mainly model types. I can ask a couple I know for their resumes and email them to you.”
"It sounds like you have me sorted already Adam Sutton." He giggled.
"Well, I had some help from Trish." I laughed as I looked over at her.
“Is she available, she would be ace for my new manager.”
“No, she works for me, no pilfering.”
“When can I start the renovations?”
“Anytime you like just don’t make it too dusty.”
"I won't be altering anything major, looking at it again it's nearly bloody perfect the way it is."
“Good, now all we have to do is agree on the rent.”
“I have something else to tell you too.”
“What is that?”
“Dan bought me a present, and guess what it was?”
“Oh god Codes I’m no good at guessing, please just tell me.”
“He bought me the apartment across from yours.”
“Really? In my building?”
“Yes, we found out it was designed and built by my grandfather and my grandmother did all the interiors. My mum still owns the penthouse above ours so when Dan sold his flat he bought that one for me, well for us."
"That's awesome Codes, and your grandees did all that wonderful building? I love it there, how much is the rent for your apartment?"
“Interested in moving Adam?”
“No, I will never move from where I am, but I know someone that’s looking.”
“Can I ask Dan first, we were just going to keep it empty and use it when we had to come into town but if you can recommend a good tenant maybe we would be interested and could use mums instead.”
“Let me know Codes and we can make a deal or something.”
He was all in for making deals and said he would get back to me.
When he left I was almost jumping up and down to tell Trish she was right, and Cody has taken the vast space for his outlet, she was very happy and I know she will be happier when I hand her the keys to her new apartment too, if my plan goes well.
My staff were very happy the old salon was back in good shape, apart from the mirrors and light fittings everything else was just the same. Tim did score a bigger storage room so he can spread his wigs out. I had already claimed my station, it was where my old one was. Kasey rang he was waiting to board his ride back home, he said he was so exhausted. I couldn't help but get a little crazy looking at the chair where my Kasey was sitting after the blast, the what-ifs were running rampant in my brain, and god knows what was going through Janice's, but Trev was holding her close as they walked through the shop. It had affected us all in different ways, and Eva was doing the same as me, she was sitting at her old station but she was smiling like she had found an old familiar friend.
The next thing I did after everyone left, was to go to Target, I have to update myself on Cliff the dog so I can at least have a conversation with my brother, I felt I had achieved something today, something wonderful and I couldn’t stop smiling at my secrets that I won't reveal to anyone just yet.
I found three boxed sets of cartoons, hopefully, Kasey will watch them with me tonight then I will be ready for any awkward questions.
Carol was at home when I got in, she had bought some steaks for tonight and was doing the veggies at the table, she looked awesome with her new hairdo.
“Carol you don’t have to cook every night, there’s a great café downstairs that delivers.”
“That may be so Adam, but I don’t mind cooking I enjoy it." I figured she is so used to it, it's become normal practice for her.
“How did you go today?”
“Okay Adam, my lawyer said I shouldn’t have any trouble, my big money is in the kid's names and isn't included in the divorce settlement. He will contact his lawyers and offer half the house and half the joint bank account. He will be pissed off because he knows I have more, but legally there’s nothing he can do about it.” She smiled.
“That’s good, so he will have to sell the house then.”
“Yes he will be forced to, and I will give my share to the kids, after all its part of their inheritance.”
“That’s very generous of you Carol, but I think your kids won’t accept it.” I smiled at her, she looked radiant.
“If they don’t then I will get it to them in other ways. They can’t outsmart me, after all, I am their mother.” She giggled.
“What time are you expecting Lance?”
“Sometime after nine, I think, he rang from the airport but he had to go to a briefing before he’s discharged for the night.”
“I hope he’s still on for tomorrow.”
“He is, and maybe he will get you a free carport thrown in." I laughed.
“He was always like that as a boy, always doing deals with his mates, several times I had to return stuff to them he had won or wrestled out of them. Nothing too big just everyday stuff like leather jackets, a few iPads, a computer, wrist watches.” She couldn’t stop laughing and neither could I.
Carol ate while I had a bath, I will wait for my man to get in and eat with him. In the meantime, I was as pleased as punch I didn’t have to do much for Cody’s shop he insisted he knew what he was doing. I had unpacked the DVDs and started reading what was on the covers in the bathtub, I can watch some of them later on with Kasey.
After I bathed and dressed I rang him, he was on his way so I lit the barbeque again and put our steaks on. Carol had gone to bed early she wanted to read her new book, well that was her excuse for not being conned into watching Cliff with me. I met him at the door and was in his arms within seconds, his lips were most welcomed as my hands moved over his back to pull him in closer to mold into me.
He threw off his work clothes and asked where Carol was, I told him and I also told him to get dressed we had some things to do.
"Did you have a good day baby?" He asked, so I told him what I had been up to.
"Wow, if he decides to take it can I do the rent negotiations?"
“No.” He gave me a sad face and said.
"Because I know Cody, and I will give him a really good deal." I smiled.
"Oh, okay is there anything else I can do?"
"Yes, pop that DVD into the machine and come and get your dinner." I smiled.
We sat on the sofa and ate while Cliff the big dog graced our screen. I tried to remember some of his antics but Kasey got into it, he laughed gasped and generally enjoyed the first five cartoons. I figured if I don't remember, Kase will.
I washed up then sat at the table with my blank pages.
"That was awesome I might watch some more tomorrow baby."
"Tomorrow we have to go to buy your mum's house."
"I forgot about that, I can watch some when we get back then. Now, what’s the paper for?"
“I thought I might make notes on Cliff just in case I forget.”
“He’s a kid, he will believe anything you tell him.” He laughed then shyly said.
"Can we go to bed now?"
I relented because he had his shorts halfway down his thighs already and I had been playing racing cars with his gear stick…absentmindedly.
We were up early, and Carol still had her nose stuck in that book, Kasey was awestruck with her new look, he grinned at me and gave her the thumbs up. He rushed around and was ready to go and was now hurrying us up, he was a little over-excited. I bagged up two of the DVDs to give to Billy, but I kept the third one for Kasey to watch when we got back home. Carol got a phone call from Chris they were going to meet us there and were leaving now. We went down to the basement and Kasey drove the forty-minute drive to the cabin makers display yard.
We hugged Chris and Maree while Kasey started looking at the units.
"Let me do all the talking mum." He said.
"Okay, son." She giggled and rolled her eyes at me.
There were some awesome units and I was trying to find some faults but there was none. I particularly liked the three-bedroomed one but it was too big for the size of the allotted space in Maree's new back yard. We happened upon the one that Kasey had talked to the owner about, it was lovely and right up Carol's alleyway. Kasey was talking to the salesman who had a shocked look on his face, I guess he's just mentioned the owner's name, and price. It was nice and he assured Kase it would only take a day or two to connect it to the power and water. Carol was looking through the kitchen it had everything that opens and shuts including a dishwasher.
"What do you think mum?"
"Yes, this is the one, the roof is ideal for solar panels too mum," Chris said.
It was decided on and when the salesman went to get the owner, Kasey went to town, he eventually got the solar panels installed for nothing. They set the delivery date and Carol paid the deposit, or Maree did with her card and they will work it out later on.
She left with the other two, they wanted to show her around the area and maybe stop and have lunch somewhere.
Kasey pulled up in front of mum and dad's place, I made him sit there while I took it all in and I was remembering the lonely walk I did when I left. It hasn't changed one bit and I could see my old room it’s curtains flapping in the gentle breeze.
"Do you want to go in, or sit here for a while?"
"No, we can go in, just let me know when you want to leave I might get caught up in it all."
He lifted my hand and kissed it.
"You let me know when your tired baby, I can find stuff to do."
We stood at the front door for a minute, I was deciding whether to just go in or knock, I didn’t have to do either because Billy had been watching out for us from the front window. The door swung open and a little kid flew into my legs, I picked him up and kissed him. He started talking immediately and as we moved into the house mum was standing there with a big grin on her face.
"You weren’t going to knock were you Adam?" I blushed.
"Well I thought about it, it's been a long time."
"Your key is still on the hall stand where you left it son, pick it up when you leave to go home." She kissed me, then Kasey, and told us to follow her out to the sunroom. Billy was still talking to me and now and then his hand would grab my face and he would turn it to look at him.
"He’s telling you what Cliff did his morning, and he wants you to go see his room." I laughed.
"Okay, first things first where’s dad?"
"He's in the back yard lighting the barbeque, you know where it is." Billy struggled down and took Kasey’s hand and pulled him towards the back patio.
"Dad dada, here." He yelled, dad looked up and smiled, he hugged me and Kasey suddenly stood to attention and saluted, I noticed Billy did the same.
"At ease Lieutenant, captain Bill don’t you have something to say to me?"
"Yes sir no sir three bags full sir." He giggled as his hand stayed upright saluting his dad.
"At ease you little trickster." He screamed then started pulling me back into the house.
"I guess I will see you in a little while." I laughed as I followed him to his room.
Sure enough, there was an old photo of me by his bed, and I recognized a few of his little toys sitting on the side table too, they were some of my old ones. He jumped on the bed and was showing me how he did flop downs, I fingered the little toys and remembered I had kept them just in case I had a little brother.
"I love your room Billy it's awesome." He grinned then I heard dad call us. He jumped off the bed and ran downstairs, I guess he forgot about me. It was all overwhelming me as I walked into my old room next door, it was still the same, and tears threatened to flow, and if it wasn’t for Billy I would have let them go freely. I will bring Kasey up here later maybe he would like an afternoon nap or something.
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