A Secret Love, A Secret Life

Chapter Eight

Mr. Winters said that the fact no one in our household was 21 didn't matter. What did matter was that Brian was a year and a month older than me and that made him 18 and 18 was old enough to play the lottery. He told us about a case in Florida where the winner was only 16, and he was an emancipated teen. He was able to quote from the ruling, as he had encountered this type of situation once before here in our state and this is what he told us the judge ruled: "An order removing the disabilities of nonage shall have the effect of giving the minor the status of an adult for the purposes of all criminal and civil laws of the state, and shall authorize the minor thereafter to exercise all the rights and responsibilities of persons who are 18 years of age or older". He told us that that was how we had been able to purchase the house on a mortgage, that Brian as the first signer, was entitled by law to buy the house. He explained that my being on the mortgage was guaranteeing that my salary was being considered as surety that money would be available each month to pay the monthly mortgage, I was basically a co-signer.

He said that since it was less than a year before I too would be 18 no one thought it made much difference how everything had been worded on the mortgage, we could always refinance after I was 18 and then we would both be considered primary signers, but he said that would be a moot point, as now we had the wherewithal to pay off the loan and not worry about who was the primary signer and who was just a co-signer. He added that should I want to buy a new car for myself right now I would have to have a co-signer on the loan, but after I turned 18 that would no longer be necessary.

He told us that this was all background, that tonight we should look at how we wanted to claim the jackpot. He told us that Brian could go to Braintree, to the lottery headquarters, and present himself as the sole winner and then become the center of attention and media coverage for the rest of his life. We really didn't want a big spotlight on our lives. We had a mostly private life and we wanted to maintain that as much as possible. Mr. Winters said he had a solution for that. He would file, the next day, incorporation papers for a legal company, with him as the president and CEO, and our parents listed as officers, and we listed as CFOs, using our formal titles as doctors so as to defray any indications of our ages. He explained the cost of doing this would help delay or eliminate the fact that we were actually the sole winners of the lottery jackpot. He said he would gladly accept a fee of one dollar a year to sit as CEO of our company, and he was sure we could work out an agreeable pay scale with our parents.

So with a signed holographic agreement (handwritten) in hand, Mr. Winters congratulated us again on our good fortune, the boys and us giving him hugs, and he went off to draft the incorporation papers to file the next day. The ticket was still an item of awe for all of us, but before the boys went up to bed we had a talk with them and explained that we had a nice life that we were happy with and we were afraid that with a bunch of notoriety that life, and the boys, could be taken from us, and we didn't want that. They cottoned on right away and promised that our lives at home were not going to be a matter of public discussion or idle gossip, but they were so proud to have been taken in by us, and so happy here with us, that some things would have to be told, but nothing about our private lives, just some things in general, like the dogs and horses and such. They were busting to tell their friends about their new extended family and the great time they had today with all of them. We told them the day to day stuff is fine and if they had any questions to come to us and we'd all weigh the pros and cons of what could and what couldn't be made public knowledge.

With that all agreed upon, and the boys assuring us they were ready for school in the morning, we all called it a night and we went to our respective bedrooms. In our bedroom, we cuddled on the loveseat in front of the gas fireplace and dreamed out loud about what we could do with some of the money. Brian got up and grabbed my notebook and we began a list such as; an in-ground pool and pool house, central air for the house, a housekeeping person so we didn't have to spend half of our short weekend cleaning, cooking and grocery shopping, a new car, maybe one for each of us, a great holiday for everyone, a dishwasher for the kitchen, and paying off the mortgage, and giving Ben a retirement fund. We now could increase the boys' college funds, and probably pay off my parents' house, get one for Mr. Harris and Carl, and pay off David and John's house, too.

With all these good thoughts running around in our heads I thought we'd sleep well, but when we started to get ready for bed I realized that something else would work even better, and it did. After we brought each other to great orgasms we drifted off while embracing each other.

At school the next day, Brian used the copier in the faculty lounge and made a front and back copy of the lottery ticket and he then sealed the original in an envelope as Mr. Winters had asked. About half-past nine Mr. Winters came by the school and since it was between classes we met with him briefly in my classroom and we signed the incorporation papers and he picked up the ticket and he told us to wish him well and he was gone, stopping in Springfield to file the incorporation papers and then on to Braintree to file our winning ticket and claim the jackpot which he told us he had calculated to be a total, after taxes, of three hundred and twenty-eight million dollars.            

If we had been tempted to daydream through our classes that day, the students quickly put an end to that idea. They all wanted to know how it was living with Bobby and Mike, was it true that we bought them horses and dogs, was it true they had 2 hundred new relatives? At lunchtime in the teacher's lounge, we were asked just about the same questions from our fellow teachers. It was all a lot of fun and certainly took our minds off what Mr. Winters was up to, but the noon news told of a lawyer representing a private family-owned company had claimed the jackpot from Saturday's drawing, and that the winning ticket had the double payout feature so the awarded payout was Three Hundred and Thirty Million!! After taxes!

We knew we'd have a hard time concentrating on our afternoon classes so we both assigned reading to our classes as we each in our own rooms made up lists of charities that we might want to support. After the first afternoon class, we swapped our list of charities and decided that the quiet of the students reading was driving us nuts so Brian suggested that we might have an open discussion after each page, to get them to distract us. I agreed and then the afternoon flew by for both us and the students.

We had Bobby and Mike waiting for us as we reached release time and as soon as the bell rang we four were out the door and waiting at our car was Mr. Winters, with a huge smile on his face. He told us we owed him dinner that night and we asked him to come down to the farm, as we wanted to check on the progress Ben had made on the coop and Mike had the dogs to tend to, we could talk a lot freer there.

It was about three thirty when we had seen to the dogs and the great progress on the coop and we had a chance to sit with Mr. Winters and discuss the day's adventure with him. He thought before we got into the details that we ought to let our parents in on everything, especially as we had listed all four (Carl included) as officers of the new company, so I called and made reservations at a good Italian restaurant on the river in our hometown. I told both sets of parents that Brian and I had news we wanted to share, news we hadn't known about yesterday afternoon, they all agreed, especially after I talked to Betty and she agreed to watch over the younger siblings at home that night. Brian and I sat with Mr. Winters and he presented us with the notarized incorporation papers, the bank book for the corporation with Brian and I listed as the only signatories on it, and the balance of well over three hundred and thirty million, minus the bank fee for the corporate checks to be delivered to us here at the house.

 We then discussed something Brian and I had talked about that afternoon, we wanted Mr. Winters for our personal lawyer and our company CEO. We wanted to make him an offer of employment. He was pleasantly surprised, but agreeable to our proposition, agreeing to drop his official relationship with the DCFS, only willing to take on legal consultations with them, or business that related to us or our extended family that had a direct bearing on the DCFS. He would be allowed to keep his private clients, but operate out of an office supplied by us with one associate to start with and two staff members. We planned to make this office the official headquarters for the new Harris & Blackmer Co., and additional staff would be added as needed. He was offered seventy-five thousand a year, but insisted sixty-five thousand to start was very generous. He agreed to have dinner with us as that was something he wanted to do, as he wanted to see our folks reaction to our news.                                                

That's when we felt we had to tell him about our family, so I began by telling him about my Mom and Dad and that I had 7 siblings, and then I told him that Brian's mother had taken off over 10 years ago and his father had divorced her and kept sole custody of Brian. He now lived in a same-sex relationship, much like Brian and I, and that we considered Brian's dad's partner as another dad. Mr. Winters sat back, looking at both of us, and said, "So, you all are like me then, I had hoped, but you just cannot come right out and ask, or announce yourself like that now, can you?" We all shared a warm laugh and hugs after that and we asked if he had a significant other and he said he did, a librarian at the woman's college in my hometown. We told him to call right now and ask him to join us for dinner and that's how we met Bruce, Ray Winters' partner of 7 years.

We both went on to tell Ray about our other designees for our board of trustees, David and John, who would also be at dinner tonight. Our last nominee for a trustee position was Mrs. Flynn, but we wanted to do that with just our little family group in attendance, and now, maybe with Ray and his partner, or maybe with David and John, I'm not sure, but it will come to me.

Dinner that night was just perfect, I wish we had one of those new video cameras so I could play it back whenever I wanted. We had booked the private dining room so we'd not be overheard and as the couples and Ray and Bruce were introduced all around we were then seated by couples around the table, with my mom and dad to my right and Brian to my left and then his dad and Carl, David and John, then Ray and Bruce. The big round table overlooking the river was the perfect place to observe all the people who had been such a big influence on both Brian and my lives, and now we were about to shake their worlds, hopefully not with anyone throwing up or fainting, like we had.

We waited until our meal orders were taken, and we had to tell all that they could order anything they wanted to, no skimping tonight, the evening was on us. Once the last order was taken Brian stood, and pulled me up to stand with him and he told them we had an announcement to make, and I assured them that it wasn't another child, at least not yet. Brian told them about his shopping trip last week and how he had used his change to purchase a double pay lottery ticket. I piped up and started to say we hadn't looked at it until late Sunday, after they had all left, when my dad asked how many of the numbers we had hit, and when Brian excitedly told them it was all six, times two, there was total silence, until Brian's dad said out loud that he should have ordered the lobster instead of the shrimp. The table erupted in laughter and then the questions began, How much? When will we get it? What were we thinking of doing with it? Will we keep our jobs?

We quieted down the table and just then our meals were delivered and we concentrated on our meals until Brian nudged me and I looked up at him and he gestured to the rest of the table and I then noticed everyone was still staring at us, their plates ignored, only Brian and I had started to eat. I calmly said," It was only three hundred and thirty million after taxes, can we talk after we eat, I'm starving." I was only kidding as I took another forkful of shrimp but again only Brian and I were eating, and maybe Ray, but the others were now staring at me and my Mom said that she hoped I wasn't pulling their legs, but Ray finally spoke up and told them all that he himself had picked up the check that morning, as the CEO of the Harris & Blackmer Company and that Brian and Archie did indeed own the company.. While he had been telling them this I had eaten two more stuffed shrimp and I then told them that we wanted them all to have some say in the company, that would primarily deal in aiding charities and worthy fundraising efforts. A lot of the money would have to be invested to be able to do this, but we were going to open a discrete office soon where Ray would head up our operation.

I told them all that we wanted them to serve as members of the board of trustees for the corporation so they too would be involved with the company with us, but we hoped most of us would like to also keep their regular jobs, just as Brian and I thought we'd still teach. I also told them that there was one other proposed member of the board we hadn't had a chance to approach yet, but we planned to do so soon. I further told them that the annual salary, as we had already decided for a board member, would be $30,000 a year.

Brian spoke up and said that everyone's dinners were getting cold and please enjoy this meal with us and we'd answer any questions later. There was some talk, but their dinners were eaten, and after the dinner plates were collected the waiter asked if anyone was ready for dessert so Brian and I had some tasty looking chocolate cake as the others all ordered drinks. Ray had asked the waiter for a separate check for the drinks. Bruce asked Ray if he should leave while we all discussed our plans, but Brian had heard and told him no, that he was now a part of this and we truly wanted him involved in the corporation's board, that we needed the help only an organized librarian could provide. Ray told him that we meant it, and he wanted Bruce to work with him in the office, too. Poor Bruce was almost overcome, but managed to stay stoic in front of all these people he had only met tonight, but would grow to love almost as much as we did.

Both Brian and I received many hugs and kisses that night, but David and John were especially pleased for us and we told them we'd have them out to the farm for dinner soon, as we needed to ask their help in setting up our own home gym. They told us anytime after Wednesday, and they were looking forward to it. We all agreed to meet soon as Christmas was only 10 days away. When the table was presented the checks Ray was handed both of them and he said not to worry about it as he would turn the receipts in for reimbursement when the corporate checks arrived by the end of the week. It was then we realized that we were indeed multimillionaires, but we only had about 3 thousand left in savings and about 200 in cash between us, we joked about it on the way home, jokingly saying we hoped our paychecks came in soon as we still had Christmas present shopping to do.

The boys were still at the high school basketball game, so we had a coffee as we waited for their "pick up" call and discussed how much we had both liked Ray's partner Bruce and how we were all looking forward to seeing what ideas everyone came up with for not only generating income for the charitable fund we were setting up, but for what charities they came up with to be in the running for donations. We had decided to ask Mrs. Flynn to dinner tomorrow night and it was about to go on nine o'clock so I got up and used the kitchen phone to give her a call. I apologized to her if I was calling too late, but she assured me this was a good time for her, so I got to the point and asked if she would join us for dinner tomorrow night, in fact, why not plan on coming here after school, unless she had a prior commitment. She was pleased to accept, saying she had nothing going on tomorrow afternoon so she would meet us after school at our house around 3:30. I told her we were looking forward to it and we hung up. I had just the meal in mind, a great meatloaf with roasted potatoes and green beans, unassuming and not pretentious.

The boys called about 15 minutes later and Brian took the car and went to pick them up. They told us about the game and about the good time they had sitting with their friends. I reminded them that they were welcome to invite a few to the house at a time, and they said they just might do that sometime, but with everything going on around here they thought it wiser to wait until the household talk wasn't about hundreds of millions of dollars. I chuckled and apologized about that, but things were bound to return to normal after the holidays. They said they figured that, and they were very happy for us, and I told them that I hoped they included themselves in that, because they were what made us a family, and I didn't know what we would do if we ever lost either one of them, we loved them for who they were and we wanted them with us on this new phase of all our lives.

Mrs. Flynn met us at the farm after school was out and the five of us walked out to the barn to see how Ben had got on with the chicken coop fencing. Everything looked great. He had even spread some straw on the frozen ground in the pen and plenty in the coop and the laying boxes. We would be able to thank him, in about a half hour as a note said that the fowl delivery would take place just after 4 PM, according to a note we found on our door.

We went inside to await the great fowl delivery, and so I could put the meatloaf I had prepared in the oven along with some roasting potatoes and the boys showed us all they could snap beans with the best of them. We had fun just sitting around and chatting at the kitchen table at one end and even more so as we watched the boys setting the table at the other end for the five of us. She was really a trove of information about the school and the town and Brian and I were so anxious to tell her our news and ask her to be on our board of directors.

We all heard the big horse trailer arrive and as soon as we left the house to watch the fowl transfer we could hear the birds inside the trailer. Mr. Lewis was driving and Ben had hopped out on the other side. They had pulled in on the other side of the barn, closest to the coop at the back of the barn. The birds were all caged in dog crates, about five or six in each and Ben had started to open up the wide doors of the horse transport when he saw us approaching. He just stood there a moment staring, and the boys, who had been racing to help him just stopped in their tracks as they noticed his staring over their shoulders. They turned to see what had him so transfixed and so did Brian and I. It was Mrs. Flynn. She too had stopped in her tracks and was staring at Ben. Mr. Lewis had come around from the front of the truck, having already propped open the gate to the chicken pen, he too was startled by the two stone figures, and then strode forward toward Mrs. Flynn. "Deanna, how good to see you!".he called out to her as he approached.

She shook herself and turned to the sound of his voice and she greeted him, "Gerry, how good to see you." It was then I remembered that Mr. Lewis once taught at our school, and it was natural they would know one another. Ben had kind of shuffled up by then and I began to introduce him to her, but it was then I realized they were both in tears and about to embrace each other.

Suddenly the little she had told us about her unhappy marriage and before all clicked, Ben was the young man she had fallen in love with! I shooed the boys and Mr. Lewis and Brian over to the back of the trailer and we each grabbed a carrier of the birds and I told them to put the carrier into the fenced-in chicken yard, but not to open them. Brian and I went back for the other two carriers and we heard  "OUCH, OUCH" from Bobby as he put his pen on the ground and sure enough, he had the carrier with the roosters in it! Once all the carriers were inside the fence I told Bobby to make sure feed and water were inside the coop and while he did that we shut the gate so that once the individual carriers were opened the chickens could not escape. Bobby came out and told us everything was ready, so I told him to leave the coop door open and we then unleashed the fowl herd into the coops' fenced yard. I told Bobby to take a hand full of feed and start letting it drizzle from just inside to outside here in the yard. He got the idea and soon all the birds had followed the yellow seeded road inside the coop. As the last one went inside Bobby closed and latched the door. The chickens were in for the night.

We all left the pen and took the individual carriers back to the trailer they had ridden in on. Mrs. Flynn and Ben were still in each other's embrace, but were now talking. I went up to them and asked Ben if he would join us for dinner, but he said that there was a guy picking up all the pigs in a little while and that was going to take some time. Mrs. Flynn then spoke up and asked him if he was still going to make it to her house for dinner the next night and he said that he wouldn't miss it for the world.  He kissed her cheek, and she blushed like a schoolgirl. Ben then took Bobby and explained the basics of caring for the chickens and soon Ben and Mr. Lewis were gone. I swear that Mrs. Flynn skipped back to the house after the boys checked on the horses and dogs.                                       

Once back to the house the boys sat in the living room to watch TV while we went into the kitchen to check on the progress of dinner, and we pumped Mrs. Flynn for all the juicy details. When she was done we realized we had about a half hour 'til the meatloaf was done so we sat her down at the clear end of the table and told her she was in the presence of multi, multi-millionaires. We showed her the evidence; the photocopy of the ticket, the winning number in the paper, and finally the incorporation papers and our corporate bankbook, with the three hundred million plus balance in it. She was stunned.

Ir took her a minute to come around, and I was beginning to get alarmed that she had too many shocks this evening. But she started to congratulate us for our good fortune so I knew her head was back on straight, so I tried to knock her off balance again by asking her if she would accept the final seat on our board of directors for our charitable trust, along with our parents and friends. As an incentive, Brian threw in that there was a $30,000 a year salary for a sitting board member. She was speechless until the boys came in and with one on each side of her they put their heads on her shoulders and she hugged them both and said if that was what we truly wanted, she would do it for us.

During dinner, we filled her in on our lawyer/friend/CEO and how we were looking for an office space that would accommodate our company office and his legal office. We told her it would have to be big enough for at least five people to work independently in and be in town. She asked for Ray Winters number and I was glad to be able to provide it to her.

She seemed 20 years younger by the time she left after dinner. There was a spring in her step and a smile on her face. We all pitched in to clean up the kitchen and I mumbled a few times that a garbage disposal and a dishwasher would be greatly appreciated. The boys went up to their rooms (lets not kid ourselves here, we had spoken to them about this and they said they only cuddled, practiced their French kissing, jerked each other off, and occasionally blew each other), I wasn't sure or not, but Brian thought they were trying to shock us, and I reminded him that that was exactly what we did together for the first few years, including frot!) We closed up the house and in a few minutes, we ourselves were doing ALL the above in the privacy of our own bedroom.

The transformation was complete, Mrs. Flynn was as bright and cheerful as a young school girl the next day in school and everyone was gossiping about her, except for Brian and me and of course our boys. It was generally put down to this being the last full week before the holiday break, with only 3 days left to go. That afternoon there was a package delivered to the school that required both Brian and me to sign for it. It was the big ledger of our corporate checks, let the Christmas shopping begin! We finally had access to the money we won and I do mean we, you see (and Brian was the one who had remembered this) the afternoon Brian had stopped to pick up the milk and juice, he had asked me for ten dollars as he was out of bills, and didn't think they'd let him walk out of the store without paying for those two items. So he did the buying of the ticket with my money. The first check I wrote was for $500 dollars so we could start shopping after school got out. We gathered up the kids and went right to the bank at the end of the street and I hopped in to cash it just before they closed.

We made it to the new mall in Holyoke about 4 PM and we told the boys we'd meet in the food court in one hour and I gave them each fifty dollars. We split up and the first stop Brian and I made was the big electronics store on the same level we had come in on. There we looked at the new desktop computers that had just come on the market. Brian and I had used some of the college's new computers as we worked on our doctorates and now that the production was up on these newfangled things we were anxious for one for our home, and possibly one for our corporation. It was very dear, but again I wrote a check and they accepted it. We lugged the boxes out to the car and hid them under a blanket and made sure the car was securely locked. As we had left the store, Brian had spotted those car phones like we knew Ray had in his and I told him he was nuts, that no one would want one of those unless they were dependent on it like Ray was.

We did some clothes shopping for the boys and got items for my brothers and our fathers. At the jewelry store, we picked items for my sisters and my mother and I had to write another check. We found the perfect items for Bruce and Ray, so I stayed and paid for the briefcases as Brian went to the food court to wait for the boys. They came up to us huffing and puffing and asking who was paying for dinner as they were officially out of money

After we ate we only wandered as far as the exit closest to where we had left the car and there was barely enough room for the four of us by the time the shopping had been stowed. As Brian drove us home I asked the boys if they had gotten everything they needed to and they told me that one more trip ought to do it, and another $50 each wouldn't hurt. Brian spoke up and told them that we would probably go again the next night to avoid the weekend crowds.

When we arrived home, the boys hopped out to go feed the dogs in the barn and that gave us a chance to get the computer boxes into the storage room at the end of our hall. The rest of our bags went into our closet, but when we first came to the front door there was another note from Ben on it. (No, this is not a cliffhanger, it doesn't even look like one, there just wasn't enough room on the page for me to finish my thoughts!)

Ben's note stated that he still planned to move into the caretaker's cottage on Thursday, but his first night spent there would be Friday night. He hoped this didn't create any problems for us, but he was excited to be living on the farm with us. When we got settled in after our gift hiding, Brian and I sat at the kitchen table and penned a quick note for Ben, telling him that we too were happy he was moving to our farm and to prove that, we were setting up a retirement fund for him which we were starting off with a $50,000 deposit, which we had already asked Ray to set up. We asked that on Saturday he join us for a family breakfast at 8 AM. I walked down to the cottage and posted that note on his front door. We had given him the key to the cottage the day before after the little tutorial he had given Bobby about the care of the chickens.                   

Before the boys went up to bed that night we shared Ben's note with them, and reminded them that they would have to start doing their morning chores before school tomorrow, and they assured us they would get up an hour earlier starting tomorrow. They said they had talked with Ben about the chores and he had offered to do the morning feeding chores on the weekends and they would do the evening feedings for him on the weekends as thanks for letting them sleep in. We were impressed that they had worked this out with Ben already and we were anxious to see if their plan worked. Ben was going to be coordinating the renting of the fields we were not using for our own use, so he was going to be much more to us than just a handyman. He was going to be a vital part of our little homestead.

Thursday went very well, the boys were just coming in from doing their morning chores as Brian and I were getting dressed, they had time to shower and dress and still have a bowl of Oatmeal or cream of wheat if they wanted before we left for school, and Brian and I had time to call Ray before we left. We had agreed with him that we would touch base every other day for a while as we all got used to our new relationship and financial status. He was very cheerful as we got caught up and he thanked us for including Bruce in our plans. We told him we felt an immediate rapport with Bruce as soon as we met him and then I changed the subject a little, I told Ray about our shopping excursion last night and having to write some checks for spending money and for some of the more expensive items we had purchased, and while I knew this is to be expected, wasn't there an easier way to handle these purchases, like would Brian or I qualify for a credit card? Ray thought that was a great idea, and he said that legally Brian would, but then his financial status would be revealed, and he was sure he could obtain one for me as well, but again my worth would be revealed as well, but he thought that the bank where we had our corporate account would issue company credit cards for us and he'd make a few calls this morning and hopefully we'd have cards to use next week.

He also asked us to save some time for him on Saturday, either late morning or early afternoon as he had a financial adviser he wanted us to meet who could help us all with the investments needed to keep the charity disbursements alive once we started those and also what to do about the other millions we were going to have to invest to keep money working for Brian and me so we would always have a positive cash flow. Brian and I told Ray to set it up for the morning as that would leave us the rest of Saturday free of commitments.

Ray told us he had had a call from Mrs. Flynn on Wednesday and she had asked to meet with him so they had met that afternoon after school and she took him to a property she owned that would be perfect for our corporate headquarters, it just needed some updating. We were excited, if Deanna was involved we were definitely interested. He told us that every time we drove out of town or drove in town we passed it. It was an old barn that had once been an early fifties dinner club that had been turned into retail space and was now standing vacant. The building was somewhat updated, had plenty of parking, and was on the main road going in and out of town. The space was so large we could actually subdivide it into a couple of offices and he was thinking that a lawyer's office or a real estate office might be the type of business that would be a good fit as our tenants.

Comments appreciated at Art West