From that point onward, things began to move in a rather pleasant way. Lee began to spend virtually every weekend with me. My parent's began to let up on my activities as my health and strength returned in leaps and bounds. I began to feel as if things were returning to normal for me and instead of worrying about my leukemia and mortality every day, I grew in my confidence that it looked as if I was finally beating it. As long as it behaved as the doctors had predicted, I was safe and could begin to plan my life once more.
My dad was adamant that I would never work at the factory again and determined in his intention that he was going to sell it. I meanwhile, had surplus energy once more and I needed to find an outlet. I chose the grounds. We have a gardener who comes in 2 or 3 times a week to weed, mow and generally keep on top of it. With the exception of the flower beds around the house, pool house and garage block, it is designed to be very low maintenance, being mainly large lawned areas and natural woodland. I worked steadily alongside him learning all I could. It became quite interesting if very demanding.
The gardener is in fact an oldish man in his 60's. He actually said that he was glad I had taken an interest because he had been worried, (what with everything that was going on with me), and had delayed telling dad he wanted to cut his time down. He hadn't done it, because he felt my parents had enough on their plate without having to worry about the grounds as well. He said he was very glad I was well on my to recovery, and would always be there for me to answer any questions I needed to ask.
Lee and I went out with our cameras, concentrating on the rivers and coastline with the abundant bird sanctuaries. We got some awesome stuff too. Between us, we came to the conclusion that out of maybe every 100 picture's taken, we were lucky to have 10% worth keeping. Picture's he or I thought would be awesome, more often than not turned out to be absolute crap. Whereas a lot of stuff we just snapped often beat the best we had.
My Citroen was a wonderful car, returning 50 to the gallon, so cost absolute button's to run. I wanted to get Lee a course of driving lessons for his birthday but he wouldn't hear of it. He said he would pay for them himself when he could afford them. It was the only real sticking point in our relationship. I think the fact that my family didn't have to think about money too much, upset him to the degree he got annoyed whenever I bought him something. I can understand how he feels and kept trying to get him to understand that if we are really in this for the long haul, then just as in marriage, he owns half of everything I own and visa versa. We had been together for over a year at this point, and it didn't look like ending anytime soon, if at all.
Where we live is incredibly rural. An example is the fact that the nearest large supermarket is 25 miles away. It's all very pretty and so forth but we really are isolated. If I pick him up at college, it's a fifty mile round trip. I knew he struggled with the cost of various things but he refused to let me help. I did a costing exercise with him showing him how much cheaper it would be if he could drive. It was to no avail, and would in fact be more than another year before he relented. Even then I had to be devious about it.
The months went by with summer fast approaching and the end of his course at college. He was sure he had done well and was now in the process of looking for a job. He had so enjoyed working with wood at our factory he wanted to actually make a career in it. His ambition was to work in the stock control side of things, preferably in a wood yard. His business management and accountancy courses would stand him in good stead thus easing his way into a decent job. My dad had pointed him at "The Open University". This is a rather well regarded institution where he could do his accountancy courses via the web with just a handful of residential courses over the course of the years he would be involved in obtaining his degree. My dad also put some feelers out amongst his business acquaintances, eventually getting him an interview at one of the larger timber suppliers who specialized in hardwoods. He was over the moon when he was finally offered the position of assistant in the buyer's office. His pay wouldn't be too bad either.
My dad had talked with his own management team at the factory and they were interested in putting a deal together to effectively do a buy-out. It was all worked out, with the I's dotted, and the T's crossed except for their financing. They were confidant they could get it together and things looked good. The whole thing was owned outright by my dad with no debt whatever. He had assets besides the business in excess of 5 million with the business valued at around 22 million.
The deal they were working on would be a 49% to 51% split in their favour, with dad effectively becoming a silent partner. He would be entitled to a salary plus a healthy dividend on annual profits. Because I was also written in as '&Son' I was to fall on my feet too, being entitled to a salary as well. The management team are a very capable lot, as had been proved over the past eighteen months when dad had not been too involved due to my illness. He was to a great extent handing it to them on a plate, going so far as to help them raise the necessary finance.
The company had really cornered a niche market and was highly successful, able to sell anything that came out the doors, generally with a waiting list. Dad wasn't worried in the least that it wouldn't survive, being certain it would continue to prosper once he had left. Whichever way it went he would still be sitting pretty.
Six months later it was all done and dusted with us all home free. Lee had fallen into his job with ease having already had a small promotion and a decent pay rise. My health hadn't suffered a hiccup, and I was now on twelve weekly visits to the hospital. It looked good, and the doctors were very pleased. I actually felt great, had lots of energy, and had begun to frequent the auction houses buying the odd thing, cleaning it up to sell, and generally turning a nice profit. Two months after the business sale, mum and dad were in Wales house hunting. I began to worry that they expected me to move with them if and when they found a house they liked.
It actually took them the best part of another year before they found one they liked enough to buy. We had talked a great deal about my moving with them and though they were visibly upset by my stance on the subject, they understood why I was reluctant to move. I had after all; grown up in this area, all my friends were here, and last but definitely not least, the person I was fast coming to accept would be my life partner was here.
I had a trust fund from my grandparents on both sides. If I begged, they could be released to enable me to buy a flat at least. Dad had continued to pay me all the time I had been ill, and I was receiving a salary from the sold off company. That money had hardly been touched, so added to my savings account of years; it was a tidy sum in and of itself. I knew dad had set another trust fund up when the business sale went through as well. My auction visits could be expanded too, which would provide a quite tidy living from the profits there. If they sold the Suffolk house, I knew I would be ok.
My dad, ever conscious that stress was a no-go area for me, soon put my mind at rest. Out for dinner with Lee one night, he outlined his proposal. He and mum had agreed that they would keep the Suffolk house and it was mine to live in for as long as I chose to. I would be responsible for the utilities, general upkeep and local rates (local taxes charged on the value of the house). They would take quite a lot of the furniture they had collected over the years, but would contribute towards the cost of re-furnishing. The relief I felt was so great, that as he was finishing, I couldn't hold it in any longer and the other patrons of the restaurant were treated to the spectacle of a nearly twenty year old man bawling his eyes out. God! I'm such a softie lately.
It actually took mum and dad another four months to move. They had a consultation with my hospital specialist before they made the final commitment, and would only do it once she had convinced them I was ok. They moved in the October, four months after my twentieth birthday. I was effectively living alone midweek with Lee staying from Friday afternoon until Monday morning when I dropped him off at work. My next mission was to convince him to move in with me.
I began my campaign by being there each afternoon as he finished work. My mum had taught me to cook and in truth it was something I really enjoyed doing. I rarely fucked up and he genuinely enjoyed eating whatever I had prepared. That being so, it was really quite easy to persuade him that he should come for dinner and eat my mini culinary masterpieces. I reinforced it by saying that I had had my tits over a hot stove for half the day cooking for him. It never failed.
It took me to the end of November to convince him that he was better off living at 'our house'. His arsehole of a father wasn't too bothered but his mum was very upset. She understood how it was for him with his dad, and her resistance all but disappeared once I took her on one side telling her what I planned to get him for Christmas, swearing her to secrecy at the same time. I have always got on well with his mum, and she is in fact a rather lovely woman who we both made a point of having over for dinner at least once a week. I am sure she knew that we were lovers, not seeming to be the least bit fazed. After all, they say a mum always knows. It was his dad I worried about. Being a "Southern States Baptist", it will be like dealing with a live powder keg once he finds out his son is gay.
Lee's move went painlessly and he quickly settled in. I made a point of taking him to see his mum as often as he needed when it became obvious he missed her. The fact we had her over for dinner so often meant he saw her at least twice a week. The big wrench was going to be Christmas. His mum insisted he spend it at home with her, with mine insisting I go to Wales to spend it with them. The presents would just have to wait till we got back home the day after Boxing Day. I had already bought his main present and it would be delivered and stored on Christmas Eve after we had left. My devious plot would then be in full swing.
We had done a quick run to France where I had got a case of superb Champagne and several cases of 2003 red wine (Bordeaux), which were earmarked for dad. The summer of 03 had been long and hot. The resulting grape crop was a bumper one with the knock on effect that it was one of the best vintages in years. If dad kept it, as I knew he would, it will be worth well over ten times what I paid for it in ten years. Twenty years would see it worth getting on for, and possibly better than £100.00 a bottle. I had in fact paid £5.50 a bottle for it. Here in England it would have cost me maybe £15/20.00 a bottle. I think dad will like his Christmas gift.
Mum was another problem altogether. I racked my brains trying to think what to get her, and finally lucked out whilst at an auction. I might as well have stolen them considering what I paid. There mustn't have been anyone there who realized what they were. I got an 18" string of Victorian pearls worth God knows what for £75.00 plus commission and taxes. I couldn't believe my luck.
Christmas week came, and off we went to our respective destinations after a very passionate night. We wouldn't see each other for almost four days, and family or not, it was hard to part. Once I got on the roads on Christmas Eve, it became apparent just how many other people were travelling too. A normally five hour journey took eight. I was exhausted when I finally arrived and made up my mind that I would make the return journey overnight.
My parents were delighted with their gifts. Mum was particularly ecstatic with her pearls and when dad got me at a quiet moment he said how pleased he was with my "eye" for a good buy. He couldn't believe I had only ended up paying £90.00 for them. His estimate on value was around £1000.00 I actually glowed at the compliment.
Their house which I had seen a couple of times since they bought it was actually beautiful, and though not yet totally finished, I could see that it would be absolutely stunning once complete. It is a small stone-built manor house that stands in a couple of acres of sculpted and beautifully landscaped garden. I could imagine what it would look like in summer once it all came out in leaf and bloom. The four bedrooms, all en-suite, were quite palatial with my parents own bedroom having its own sitting room and dressing room as well. I was totally impressed, and looked forward to spending some of the summer here with Lee. Their view looked out onto Liverpool Bay and on into the Irish Sea.
I made up my mind that I would begin to drop heavy hints that he could think about building a dock and launching ramp for the speedboat he would be buying. Nothing too grand, but certainly something capable of pulling a couple of skiers. I giggled at the imagined face I envisioned him pulling. I would also make sure to point out that he probably missed his swimming pool too. One never knew, but come summer and our return visit, all could be in place, and I knew he would thank me for suggesting it.
Christmas morning was the biggest surprise, when after breakfast, I was invited into dad's study. At first I wondered quite what he was doing when he pushed some covered document's over to me and asked me to sign in the boxes I could see. As I signed each one, he countersigned as well. He next handed me a large manila envelope saying, "Happy Christmas Matt. I know you will enjoy it."
I sat down giving him a puzzled look. His reaction was to say, "Well go on, open it, you'll never know what it is till you take a look." I carefully peeled the flap and lifted the sheaf of documents out. Once I realized what they were, the softie part of me kicked in once more, and I just sat there blubbering. Mum had come in at this point and seeing her emotional wreck of a son, came behind the chair, leant down, and threw her arms over my shoulders giving me a kiss on the cheek. She whispered, "We want you to have it Matt, and we hope you get as much pleasure from it as we will have with this one". The documents were the deeds and title to the Suffolk house.
I had had no hint of this at all. I still hadn't come to grips with it by bedtime, and once I was tucked in the tears began all over again. God! I owned the wonderful Suffolk house. It had been built with love by my dad with the greatest of care and only the very best materials used. All the wooden fixtures and fittings were the best hardwoods, chosen for their grain configuration and colour. The pool house was originally added to the plan just for me. The fact that dad had had the most pleasure from it yet was just a bonus for him. I knew I would be happy for the rest of my life there. The feelings of love within those walls were almost tangible. This house too would be just the same once they had finished putting their mark on it. I drifted off to sleep thinking how much I loved my parents and how much they must love me.
Boxing Day was a repeat of Christmas Day without the gifts. We all ended up eating too much of mums amazing cooking, eventually vegging in front of the telly watching corny Christmas re-runs. It was a wonderful lazy day. I went to bed early because I was getting up at 3am in order to get the jump on the other returning holiday traffic. I didn't want to be stuck on our nightmare roads for eight hours again. An early start may just cut the journey time to the usual average of five hours as well.
3am soon came around and an emotional farewell followed. Dad's parting instructions were to lodge the deeds at the bank for maximum safekeeping. I watched them in the rear view mirror as I drove down the drive eventually losing sight of them as I pulled onto the road home. My trusty diesel Citroen got me home without a hiccup in just four and half hours. I rang mum and dad first to let them know I had arrived safe and sound, then rang Lee to see what time he could be picked up. I was out the door like a shot when he answered, "Anytime you want sweetie."
As we arrived back home I triggered the garage door and drove straight in. I asked him to get the packet out of the glove box and as he tried to hand it to me, I said, "It's yours Lee." He opened it and took out the papers within, dropping the key fob in the process. After picking them up he began to look at the papers discovering that it was a course of driving lessons that began the next day. It was one of those guaranteed pass courses that would ensure he was on the road as fast as possible. Looking a bit overwhelmed, I quickly got out and walked around to his side, opened his door, and grabbed him up into a hug, then walked him over to the other car that now occupied the opposite side of the garage. I pointed to the key fob he was still clutching and asked, "Do you like your new car sweetie?" I hadn't seen Lee cry before and as I watched his face scrunch up and the tears begin to flow, I was soon joining him.
He loved the car and was grateful that I had pressured him to get his learners license. I had had him sat in front of the computer studying the driving programmes I'd got when I was first learning. I knew he would sail through the lessons. The car was from dad's mechanic, and was a very low mileage blue Vauxhall Astra, and another diesel engined car. He had assured me that it would return close to 50 mpg, and that it was in very good condition having belonged to a little old lady who had used it for her weekly shopping trip. She had given up driving on her doctor's advice so I had got an absolute snip, (his words).
Lee gave me a gorgeous gold ring with a black onyx centre, I love it and will treasure it forever. He passed his test seven days later, and I watched his sense of wonder as he discovered the new sense of freedom he was enjoying. It is a truly amazing feeling once it sinks in that you don't have to ask for lifts anymore.
I couldn't wait for his birthday to arrive now and the surprise I was already planning. I'd seen him on several occasions over the past year lusting whenever he saw a convertible. I'd already worded dad's mechanic to keep an eye open for one and that the Citroen would be the part exchange. His birthday was only fourteen weeks away so I prayed it would be enough time. My luck held and with three weeks to spare he found a Rover 216i Cabriolet that was absolutely immaculate. It is painted metallic jade green. The rag roof is a matching green and electrically operated which included the windows too. Air bags, a wickedly hot and funky interior, and anti lock brakes completed the package. It looked awesome sat there on its alloy wheels and fat low profile road grabbing tyres.
The mechanic stored it for me till' his birthday. I had asked Lee to get up a little earlier on the day in order to follow me to the mechanic's to drop the Citroen in for a service, then to bring me back home. On arrival, I watched as his eyes seemed to glow when he spotted the Rover on the forecourt decked out with a big fat bright red ribbon. I said, "Mmmmm! I like that." His response was to say, "God! It's the stuff wet dreams are made of." I handed him a key fob saying, "You'd better go and get the ribbon off, then get off to work, the wet dream can wait till you come home". "Happy birthday sweetie". The waterworks began again with him saying I shouldn't have and all that bullshit then he made his unsteady way over towards his wet dream. The only problem as we both saw, was the light drizzle stopping him from putting the roof down.
After he'd got over the shock he set off to work and I went in to give my trusty Citroen's keys to the mechanic. I drove home in the Astra wondering if I had traded the right car. It was a lot newer than the Citroen and even though its diesel, it was a lot quieter too. Ah well! I thought, time will tell.
I had been home for about thirty minutes when Lee walked in catching me making a pot of tea. I turned to him saying, "Ooooh! Look whose playing hookey then." He grabbed me, wrestled me to the kitchen floor, literally tore my clothes of me then shagged me with my legs over his shoulders till I was raw. It was wonderful and I wondered just whose birthday it was.
As the weeks went by and the summer was upon us, our relationship seemed to flourish ever stronger. My health remained good, I was continuing to make better money through the auctions, and life it seemed just couldn't be any better than this. Lee was promoted again with another nice salary increase, and mum and dad had just rung with an invite for us to help christen their new pool. Hah! I knew he would do it. He hadn't mentioned a speedboat, but I'll just bet its there waiting for us too. I'll take ski's for both of us anyway.
My eyes began to droop as I lay there in my afterglow reminiscing about the wonderful way our life was turning out. I lazily rolled towards Lee, kissing him gently on the back of his head as I spooned into his back. I reached around, gently grasping his amazing love muscle, now all squidgy and soft. I drifted off into a contented happy sleep.
The end…for now maybe
Huggies from Rick
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