Written by Mark The Goodpen
By now I'm sure you know the drill, so I won't bore you with another disclaimer to ignore.
Thank you to everyone who has e-mailed their feedback on this story. You're e-mails let me know I should keep the Sierra Inn in business.
Feedback is always welcome at email@example.com
My Other Story on Nifty:
Wanting Perfection (Gay Male Adult/Youth)
From the end of Chapter 25:
Maybe I should have handled today differently. Maybe I should have actually made Brian talk about all that happened yesterday. I guess I could have bugged him until he told me exactly how he was feeling about Doris's decision. I could have demanded that he tell me what his dream last night was about. I don't know what the right thing to do really would have been. All I do know, is that I am laying in bed face to face with a smiling angel.
We lay staring at each other for a few minutes, before Brian really does have to pee. I get up my self, zip up and head into the kitchen to clean up the as of yet ignored dirty dishes. Once the dishes are done we spend the rest of the evening on the couch watching television until it is time for bed.
"Dad," Brian says, as we lay in bed his head resting on my chest.
"Yeah," I say, as I gently run my fingers through his hair.
"Am I adopted yet?" Brian asks.
"Well not officially," I say. "We have to go to a court, and a judge has to say it's okay for me to adopt you. But Mr. Lofton and my lawyer are very sure that the judge will say that."
"When are we going to go see the judge?" Brian asks.
"Soon," I say. "Maybe by the end of the month."
"So I won't have to live with anybody else?" Brian asks.
"Nope kiddo," I say. "You're stuck with me."
"Good," Brian says, happily. "I love you, Dad."
"I love you too angel," I say, with a smile.
As the week progresses I find myself buried up to my eyes in work. Monday I am forced to bring Brian back to the Sierra Inn after school, because I have a back log of things to do after neglecting much of my work last week. Not only that, but there was a rush over the weekend, as some sort of biker group moved its way through town. Well the unexpected rush means more book keeping for me, and having to file orders on supplies that were used up quicker than I had expected them to be. Tuesday I am able to make it to Brian's first basketball practice to talk to his coach. I volunteer to be equipment manager, which means I will be in charge of all the basketballs before and after practice and at games. I enjoy watching Brian practice as he looks so happy and carefree on the court. Maybe I am a little biased but I think he's the best player on the team.
It is early Wednesday morning, just after I get to the Sierra Inn from dropping Brian off at school when I get a visitor. Laura comes into my office, Sam following close (maybe a little too close) behind her. I am happy to see him but it quickly becomes apparent that this visit is all business, as far as he is concerned.
"Kevin, I don't make it a habit of getting involved in other people's business," Sam says, after I have told him that my adoption of Brian is coming closer to its finalization. "But there is something that concerns me."
"What's that?" I ask nervously.
"I'm sure I'm not the first person to bring this up to you," Sam says. "But how much time do you spend at this motel?"
"Not as much as I used to," I say with a little smile. "I used to sleep here most nights. But since Brian's come into my life I only am here Monday thru Friday, usually while he's at school. Though I have had to bring him back here a couple of times."
"So you're handling this juggling act well?" Sam asks.
"I think so," I say. "I even have volunteered to help with Brian's basketball team. I'm the equipment manager."
"Well that's very good to hear," Sam says with a little smile at the pride I'm showing over being the equipment manager for a basketball team made up of eleven and twelve year olds. "See I'm just a little concerned, because for someone your age to have built and maintained what you have takes an awful lot of determination and drive."
"Thank you," I say, proudly.
"You're welcome," Sam says. "But see those things are good, when you only have your business to worry about. But now you're taking on the care of another human being."
"Sam, this place will never get in the way of my taking care of Brian," I say.
"I know," Sam says, nodding his head. "But you undoubtedly had hopes and dreams that went beyond this motel. I mean a bigger business. Am I right?"
"Well yeah," I say as I think about my five year plan for the first time in almost a month. "I did, but if I don't achieve it..."
"Kevin, you don't know me," Sam says. "You see I was a business man myself. I opened fifteen hardware stores in Michigan, the first one when I was twenty. I know what it's like to have a demanding business and a family. But I never got the juggling act figured out. I lost my family because of my business. But you see my kids had something Brian doesn't."
"What's that?" I ask.
"My kids had their mother to lean on in my absence," Sam says, some shame coming through in his voice. "Brian has you, and only you. And with all that he has been through he's going to need you to be there for him, come hell or high water. And nothing, absolutely nothing can stand in the way of that happening for him."
"I know that," I say quickly.
"I'm sure you do," Sam says. "But you see I knew my kids would need a father. And at first, I was there for them. But then time passed and slowly, I started going back to my old habits. Twelve hour days at the store, five hours on the weekends. Brian's already old enough to be home alone. And trust me when he gets to be a teenager, the business man in you is going to be saying, the kid can handle himself keep working."
"I don't see that happening," I say, shaking my head. "Sam, with all due respect I'm not you. And my situation with Brian is a lot different than yours was. I understand where you're coming from, and a few weeks ago I would have thought that what you are talking about would be very possible. But now, I could never let Brian down."
"Kevin, I'm not saying that you would ever hurt Brian or let him down intentionally," Sam says. "We are who we are, though. And who were you fifteen minutes before you found Brian on your front step? Were you a caring person, willing and ready to take on the responsibility of father hood? Or a business man married to his motel who only dealt with kids when he absolutely had to?"
"The second one," I say, looking down at my desk. "Definitely the second one."
"That's what I thought," Sam says. "Kevin, this whole thing with Brian is still new to you now. But trust me in time the business man in you is going to get restless."
"So, what are you suggesting I do?" I ask. "Not adopt Brian because of the chance that I may go back to being a workaholic?"
"Don't you dare even think about that," Sam says sternly. "No, what I'm saying is that as long as you own this place and manage it the responsibility is going to tug at you, is going to chew on your insides until you give into it. Kevin, I've been thinking a lot about you and Brian. Well mainly Brian, but you too. And I just want to make sure that you both are happy. That's all I'm here for today, is to try to give you some advice. You can take or it or can leave it. I'll still support you. But will you listen to my piece of advice?"
"Sure," I say.
"Take this motel, and sell it," Sam says. "If it means you take a financial loss take the hit. You opened a motel yourself in your twenties any business worth its weight in shit is going to want you on their team. With all those new fangled computers and the internet now you can work from home. You can be there for Brian even more than you already are and not have to worry about your business. And to top it all off you'll have a steady income."
"I've never had that," I say with a little chuckle. "But, Sam it's not that easy. I can't just sell this place, it's my baby."
"Not anymore it's not," Sam says. "Because now, you have a real, living and breathing warm blooded child who is depending on you. This place will still be here if you sell it, it has no heart no soul. But Brian does. Like I said, I just wanted to throw in my advice to the pool. I'm sure you've been getting plenty of it. Just think about it."
"Sam," I say. "Thank you, for caring."
"You're welcome," Sam says, as he slowly gets off the couch. "Well I best be going. Give that kid of yours a hug for me. And call me, with your decision whenever you make it."
"I will," I say, nodding my head.
Not so long ago I would have been angry with Sam for poking his nose into my business even if I knew he was only doing it because he cares. But I have started to realize over the last several weeks that I don't know as much as I'd like to think that I do. One thing Brian has taught me, simply by showing up at the front door of my motel, is that you can never truly predict or plan your life. I am starting to think that plans are meant to be changed just as some people say rules are meant to be broken. I can't help but think that Sam has a point that somewhere down the road there is a very good chance that I do return to my workaholic ways. I have been good about juggling now, but as long as I still own the Sierra Inn there is a chance that that could change.
When I was in college, working at a ski resort, then as an intern I wanted my own hotel so badly I was actually able to taste the want. It was what I thought of morning, noon and night. I wanted to be my own boss, to build my own chain from the ground up. I wanted to be the next great hotel tycoon. Now, since Brian has shown up I find myself wanting different things. I want Brian to be my son, so badly I can taste that now. I want Brian to be happy, I want him to know how much he is loved. Suddenly everything I wanted in college just seems so hollow, so selfish.
I decide to sleep on what Sam has asked me to think about. There is no real rush to make any type of decision, and the last thing I need to have happen when I am in front of a family court judge is having to tell him that I am unemployed. I do find it odd though, that I am suddenly not cringing at the idea of selling my motel like I would have not so long ago.
Soon after Sam leaves Mr. Quincy calls and tells me that Bill has put a rush on the adoption, and that we have an appearance in front of a judge in exactly two weeks. I tell him what I have learned about Julie wanting to take Brian in. Mr. Quincy advises me against trying to contact her as I want to do. I take his advice, only because I know it's just a matter of time before she shows her face somewhere anyway. He ends the phone call by telling me that Brian is for all intensive purposes now my son. I smile then I cry a little. The change to my life Brian has brought has been totally unexpected while at the same time totally welcomed. Two months ago I couldn't imagine my life with a kid, now I can't imagine my life with out Brian.
I find myself actually forgetting about my conversation with Sam, as I count the day down until the moment I can tell Brian the news I got from Mr. Quincy. The day, after Mr. Quincy's phone call seems like it will never end but eventually the time for me to pick up Brian from school does come.
"I got some big news today, angel," I tell him after we've gotten into my car in the school parking lot.
"What?" Brian asks quickly.
"Well Mr. Quincy, my lawyer called me this morning," I say. "We're going to family court two weeks from today to see a judge."
"Really?" Brian asks, happily.
"Absolutely," I say.
"But will the judge say it's okay?" Brian asks, nervously.
"My lawyer said it's as good as done," I say. "Brian, you're stuck with me now."
"Cool," Brian says, as a relieved smile comes to his face. "So I guess you're stuck with me now too."
"Yeah, I guess you could say that," I say with a little chuckle.
When we get home Brian goes to do his homework, and I plop myself down on the couch, as my mind continues to process my day. The more I think about Sam's concerns the more I start to worry myself. I was a workaholic, I was married to the Sierra Inn. Does all of that just simply change on a dime? Brian's certainly given me more than enough reasons to change my old habits. And I think I have done a damn good job of handling the juggling act that is being a single parent. Still I wonder how long I can keep this juggling act up for.
"Dad," Brian says, shaking me from my thoughts as he comes over from the breakfast bar.
"Yeah, angel," I say, as he stands in front of me, a piece of paper in his hand.
"I need help," he says holding out the paper to me.
"With what subject?" I ask, as I take the worksheet from him.
"Math," Brian says. "I hate fractions!"
"Ick," I say, looking at the jumbled mess of numbers on the paper. "Okay, well let's work through this together," I say, as I tell myself it's sixth grade Math, I can do this.
We go back to the breakfast bar and I sit next to Brian, trying my best to help him with a subject I have always loathed myself. It takes an hour, but we finally do complete the worksheet, and some of the problems actually have a right answer to them. While I definitely dislike Math, it does get my mind off of my day, and by the time we are done with the worksheet it is time for me to cook dinner. While I cook Brian sits at the breakfast bar working on the rest of his homework.
"Dad," he says, as I put the chicken in the oven.
"Yeah kiddo," I say. "You need help again?" I ask as I shut the oven door and look over to him.
"No," Brian says, shaking his head. "Are we still going to see my parents this weekend?"
This is a question Brian has been asking me multiple times everyday since Sunday, even though I promised him we would go.
"Yes, Brian," I say. "I promise we'll go."
"K," he says softly with a little nod before going back to his homework.
As evening turns into night and night turns into morning, I find myself obsessing over the conversation I had yesterday with Sam. I had thought that I wouldn't rush a decision but I quickly start to feel like I need to figure something out if only to keep my sanity. My day at the Sierra Inn doesn't really help matters, or maybe it actually does as two of my maids have called in sick and Matt and I are forced to play housekeeper most of the day. When the time comes to pick Brian up from school I still have a ton of paper work to get done and I am forced for a second time this week to bring Brian back with me to the motel. Brian does his homework on the table in the break room across from Matt, who has exactly one half of the table taken up as his work station. Occasionally, as I scramble to get my own work done in my office, I can here Brian and Matt laughing together. If anything this extra time spent at the Sierra Inn has given my best friend and my son time to get to know each other. Brian has actually started to like Matt and I can tell Matt enjoys having Brian around.
"Dad, I'm bored," Brian says, as he comes into my office. "Can we go home now?"
"What time is it?" I ask rhetorically as I look to the bottom corner of my computer screen and see it is approaching six o'clock. "You're probably hungry too," I say.
"Yeah!" Brian says.
"Okay, let's go I'll finish this tomorrow," I say, with a little sigh.
As I drive home, I feel that business man inside of me screaming that I still have a lot of unfinished work to do. Just like Sam said, it's almost like there is somebody chewing on my insides. But I do my best to ignore the feeling as I spend the evening after eating dinner with Brian on the couch watching television. During dinner Brian once again asks me about going to see his parent's graves and I once again promise him that we will this weekend. I know by him asking so much this visit is really important to him, so I would never deny him that. When it is time to go to sleep I lay awake thinking about all of the work I still have to get done at the motel, at first. But then my mind shifts back to the conversation I had with Sam yesterday morning. He was absolutely right, at heart I am a workaholic, maybe I can not trust myself enough to keep the Sierra Inn.
The morning brings me no relief as I stand behind the front desk of the Sierra Inn getting screamed at by an elderly man who is angry over what he says is the dirtiest motel room he has ever seen. The entire week I have been carrying around James's card. His offer of a possible position at ASU, hadn't really appealed to me at the time he made it, but everything that has happened this week, from Sam's visit to my extra long hours has made me re-think my original position. And getting screamed at by the elderly man who is seemingly two well placed tongue thrusts away from launching his dentures half way across the lobby only makes me consider a change even more. After finally getting the elderly man calmed down, and appeasing him with a full refund (which was all he was after in the first place) I go back to my office to continue trying to catch up on the work that I have fallen so far behind with.
"That sounded pleasant," Matt says sarcastically, as he comes into my office and takes a seat on the couch.
"Just another day in paradise," I tell him.
"You should of heard some of the people at my old hotel," Matt says. "I've heard people worse than that on a good day."
"Do you ever think about changing fields?" I ask him. I'm sure it seems like a random question but it's something that has been on my mind.
"Not really," Matt says. "I mean, sometimes I guess. But then I try to think about what else I would do, and I always come up empty. Why?"
"I don't know," I say. "I guess I'm just having a bad week."
"We all have those," Matt says with a little chuckle.
"Maybe," I say. "You know how I told you that we ran into Brian's first foster family on Sunday?"
"Yeah," Matt says, nodding his head.
"Well, the guy works at the business school at ASU," I say. "He said they're looking for professors for next year."
"So?" Matt asks.
"He said if I want he could talk to his Dean," I say. "He's sure he could get me in."
"What are you saying?" Matt asks.
"I don't know," I say, shaking my head. "Like I said, it's been a bad week at work."
"Yeah well, don't do anything you'll regret," Matt says. "Bad weeks pass."
"True," I say nodding my head.
After some small talk Matt goes back to his work station, other wise known as the break room table and I sink back into my work. I quickly calm down from the tension the elderly man had caused me. Though I still am uncertain about what the near future will hold for my career. I stop working, and dig in my bottom desk drawer until I find the pad of paper I had scribbled notes on during construction of the motel. On the very last page is my five year plan (which is now approaching its fourth birthday). As I read my own plan, I can't help but wonder what I was smoking. Two locations, a restaurant at each and breaking ground on a third location in a different city. Unless something drastically changed in the next year I'm not going to achieve any of that.
"Hi James, this is Kevin Wasdin," I say after he has answered his phone.
"Oh hey Kevin," James says. "Nice to hear from you man. How's Brian?"
"He's great," I say, with a proud smile. "But um, that's not he's not the reason I called. Are you still looking for professors for next year?"
"Yes we are," James says. "Are you still interested?"
"Well it depends," I say. "You said that the schedule would be kind of flexible. Is that right?"
"Yes it is," James says. "To be considered full time you'll have to teach four sections of a course. Each section is an hour and fifteen minutes two times a week. Generally classes are Monday thru Thursday. So we would break it down that you have two sections Mondays and Wednesdays, and your other two sections Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can make them either in the morning or afternoon that's up to you."
"And I heard somewhere, that professors kids get discounts on tuition," I say.
"You're absolutely right," James says. "Do you think Brian will want to be a Sun Devil?"
"Hopefully," I say with a smile. "But I think I might like to be."
"Perfect," James says. "I told my Dean about you, and he said that you sound perfect for our business leadership course. Can you come in for an interview on Monday at ten?"
"Yes, I definitely can," I say.
"Good," James says. "I'll see you then, and bring your resume."
"Sure," I say, thinking I need to figure out how to write a resume. "And James, thank you."
"You're very welcome," James says.
"Peter Vanderbrook," the voice on the other end of the phone sounds.
Peter Vanderbrook is a small tycoon of sorts in Arizona. His company owns and operates several resorts and motels all around the state. I was fortunate enough in college to score an internship that involved direct interaction with him. I know he values his employees, and treats every single one of them like family. He also values his customers, and it is for those reasons that after hanging up the phone with James I immediately call Mr. Vanderbrook.
"Hello, Mr. Vanderbrook I don't know if you remember me," I say. "But my name is Kevin Wasdin, I was an intern for your company about six years ago."
"Of course I remember you," Mr. Vanderbrook says. "You're the kid that wanted to open his own motel, right out of school. How long did it take you to lose that fantasy?"
"Well," I say, with a little smirk. "Actually I did open my own motel, in Phoenix."
"You're kidding," he says, surprise coming through in his voice.
"No, no I'm not," I say. "The Sierra Inn, I opened it almost four years ago now."
"Well I'll be."
"Mr. Vanderbrook," I say hesitantly. "The reason I'm calling you is something's have changed in my life, and I'm looking to get out of the hospitality business. There are just other things that are more important to me right now. I was wondering if you would be interested in acquiring my property."
"Kevin, I'm not really looking to expand at the moment," Mr. Vanderbrook says, at first though seems to quickly change his tune. "Do you have your last quarter's financial statement?"
"Yes I do," I say, quickly.
"Why don't you send that to me," he says. "And if I like what I see, I'll be in Phoenix tomorrow I can drop by and take a look at your property. Kick the tires so to speak."
"Thank you," I say. "I'll get you that statement right away," I say as I pull up the financial report on my computer.
I do not tell anybody about my new plan, after all there are two full days in between now and Monday and it is very likely that I could change my mind in that length of time. Maybe I'm crazy, I don't know. But the position at ASU can offer me things the Sierra Inn never has. I have never had a steady income, I put a cap on how much I pay myself, instead choosing to only take as much money as I need for the basics and re-investing the rest in the motel. But I have yet to this day actually reached that cap. Selling the motel now won't bring me much money, if any as I still have so much of my loans to pay off but I won't lose any money either, I don't think. More importantly than the money the job at ASU offers me set hours each week, that will not interfere at all with my time with Brian. I will be able to be there for him after school, I will have summers off. And between the tuition discount and his trust fund Brian is assured a college education. If it were just me I would never have dreamt of selling my baby (the Sierra Inn will always be that to me) but it is no longer just me. I now have my boy to think of, and I don't want to let him down. I want to offer him the stability that I had growing up and he has been missing for the last few years. I want to give him the world, and I know I can't do either when I'm not sure of the size of my next paycheck.
When the time comes to pick up Brian from school, I have already resided myself to the fact that my professional life is going to change. And I am not as upset about it as I thought I might have been, especially when I see Brian's smiling face heading towards me as he comes out of school.
"Hey, kiddo," I say, as he wraps his arms around my waist. "How was your day?" I ask as I wrap my arms around him.
"Boring," he says.
"Mine too," I say with a little smile, as Brian wiggles free from our embrace.
"Dad," Brian says, a little hesitantly after we've gotten into the car.
"Yeah, angel," I say.
"Can we go see my parents now?" Brian asks. "It's the weekend."
"You want to right now?" I ask.
"Yes," Brian says, nodding his head. "I remember where they are, I can tell you where to go."
"You're Grandma told me that," I say. I haven't told Brian about my own trip to his parent's graves. I don't feel like it is something he needs to know about.
"So can we go?" Brian asks.
"Sure," I say, with a little nod.
"Thanks," Brian says.
The car ride to the cemetery seems to take forever. I am not sure at all what to expect from Brian. The fact that he has been asking all week about this trip lets me know this is something he really wants to do. But I don't know how emotionally prepared for it he is. I'm not so sure why he even wants to go. Maybe he is looking for some type of closure that perhaps he was unable to have before. Or maybe he just simply misses his parents, and feels like this is the best way to be close to them again, at least for a few moments. I would ask Brian about it, but I'm not sure he would really be able to verbalize what he is thinking. I don't know if taking him to the cemetery is even a good idea. I don't know if I could possibly be doing more harm than good. So I feel that all I can do now, as I pull into the cemetery is hope that I am doing the right thing by bringing him here.
I park the car on the side of the roadway by where Brian's parents graves are and we sit in the car for a minute in silence.
"Brian, are you sure you want to do this?" I ask him. I guess it's a dumb question after his asking me all week if we can come. But I want to make sure Brian knows there is nothing wrong with backing out now.
"Yeah, I'm sure," Brian says, as he quickly opens his door almost as though he is afraid I'll change my mind and start driving away if he doesn't get out of the car soon.
I get out of the car as Brian does, and he quickly takes my hand and leads me through the cemetery until we are standing in front of his parents head stones. Brian stares at them for a moment, as he keeps my hand in his and squeezes it slightly. I give his hand a reassuring squeeze back as I look into his face expecting to see tears but there aren't any.
"Is it weird if I talk to them?" Brian asks, as he looks up into my face.
"Not at all," I say, shaking my head. "Do you want me to go back to the car? Or do you want me here?" I ask.
"Stay here," Brian says as he squeezes my hand.
"Okay," I say slowly.
"Mom, Dad," Brian says, hesitantly as he looks at his parents headstones. "Grandma says that you've been watching me, but I don't know if you really are or if she was just saying that. You know how she makes stuff up to make people feel better. Well Mom you said that, anyway," he says, as he quickly seems to get comfortable with the idea of talking to the two grave sites. "But this is Kevin, he's gonna adopt me. He's really, really nice and I really like living with him. I just wanted to make sure you wouldn't worry about me. I was scared for awhile, but now I'm not, because of Kevin. He's really cool and I think you would like him if you met him. And Dad, I hope it's okay that I call Kevin Dad now. You're still my number one Dad, but Kevin is Dad number two, because he's like a substitute for you since you can't be here anymore. I still love you guys, and I miss you. But Grandma says, you'll always be with me, and I hope she wasn't making that up."
Brian, slowly releases my hand from his, takes the two steps over to his mother's headstone which he kneels in front of before whispering something to it I can not hear before kissing the top of it lightly. After a second gentle kiss he moves over to his Dad's headstone, again kneeling in front of it and whispering something I still can not hear before giving the top of the headstone a gentle kiss. I stand back, watching all of this taking place in utter amazement. I had been expecting tears, maybe even a total breakdown from Brian. Instead what I am seeing is a young man, telling his parents not to worry, he'll be okay. Brian comes back over to me and wraps his arms around me.
"Thanks, Dad," he says, into the top of my stomach. "For keeping your promise."
"You're so welcome, angel," I say with tears in my eyes, as I give him a loving squeeze.
"Can we go home now?" he asks, as he wiggles free from our embrace.
"Sure," I say.
"Wait, just one sec," he says, as he seemingly suddenly remembers something he had forgotten. He turns around to face his parents graves once again. "Bye Mom and Dad, I'm happy again just like I used to be. I love you," and with that Brian turns on his heel, takes my hand in his again and starts leading me to the car.
Just when I didn't think it was possible for Brian to amaze me more than he already he has, he puts on a display like that at the cemetery. I am literally left speechless as I drive back home. Brian spends the car ride staring out the window, silently. But when I look over to check on him at a red light he isn't crying and he doesn't even seem to be upset. Much to my surprise I see a peaceful look on his face, I have not before seen while he is awake. I guess that visit brought him the closure he had apparently been looking for. I know he has mentioned being at his parents funeral, but I imagine that being only eight at the time and having just survived a major trauma himself, it must have been nearly impossible for him to get any closure out of that experience.
On our way to the cemetery I had been worried about how I would handle a crying Brian. But on the way home it is me who has tears in his eyes. I can not believe what Brian has told his parents. They don't have to worry about him, he's happy now like he used to be. They are the type of words I have wanted to hear from him but did not expect to certainly not as soon as this. All I have wanted, virtually from the first moment I met him was for Brian to feel safe and happy. Over the last few weeks, I have seen him certainly become happier and open up to me more and more. I knew they were signs of his growing trust of me and his new situation. But I had no clue that he felt as safe and as happy as he did before his world came crashing down around him.
When we get home, I immediately grab Brian into a tight hug as we stand just inside the closed front door. He is surprised at first, but quickly wraps his arms around me as he digs his face into the top of my stomach.
"Angel, do you know how proud of you I am?" I ask him.
"For what?" he asks, as he leans his head back to look at my face.
"For what you did at the cemetery," I say, as I look down into his eyes. "You were very brave."
"I was?" Brian asks.
"Yes!" I say emphatically. "I don't know how many adults could do what you just did. Let alone kids your age."
"Thanks," he says, as his lips spread into a smile. "I meant what I said. I'm happy living with you."
"You don't know how happy it made me to hear that," I say, as I squeeze him tighter into me.
Brian lets me hug him for another minute or so, but still not being able to be held down he soon wiggles himself free from my arms before taking a seat on the couch. I sit next to him, watching television for awhile before I start to cook dinner. Brian and I eat in silence, but it is the comfortable silence I have grown accustomed to the past couple of weeks. After helping put the dishes in the dishwasher Brian gets his laptop out and starts playing one of his games. I head to the couch and collapse after a long and exhausting week. I decide not to tell Brian about my new plan, even though he will be at the motel tomorrow when Mr. Vanderbrook comes to kick the tires.
As the time to go to bed approaches I find myself getting depressed. Am I really only hours away from giving up my baby? Did I spend all of those hours interning and working as a bell boy at a ski resort to only end up as a college instructor? I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling as Brian lays with his head on my chest sleeping peacefully, and I think about all I went through to get the motel. The hours spent begging bankers, credit managers, anybody who would give me the time of day for the simplest loan they had. I spent so much time begging, I swear my knees are still sore. There is no question I love Brian more than the Sierra Inn but I can not help but feel like I am abandoning one child for the sake of the other. I know, it's crazy but that's how I feel.
I try to pinpoint the thing that made me turn from being dead set against selling the Sierra Inn to being in this current position. I quickly figure it out that it wasn't any single event. I come to the realization that I have found what it truly means to be happy. And being truly happy means having Brian's smiling face greet me in the morning, having him wrap his arms around me only moments after his school day has ended. I no longer want to find happiness in fifteen hour work days in the middle of seven day work weeks. Maybe it isn't that I'm afraid of the workaholic in me taking over again like Sam had suggested it would. Maybe it's that I don't want to return to that way of life. The way I used to live seems horribly empty and alone now. Maybe selling the Sierra Inn is an extreme reaction. But if it means that I can be a better father to my angel, then it is a move I have to make.
Without realizing it I must fall asleep because the next thing I know the alarm clock is going off.
"It's Saturday," Brian mumbles, as he digs his face into my chest.
"I know, angel," I say. "But remember I told you I have that meeting at the motel today?"
"Oh yeah," Brian says. "What time is it?"
"Almost seven thirty," I say.
"Do I have to go?" Brian asks.
"Angel, I'm sorry but I don't want to leave you here by yourself," I say. "I promise this won't take very long, and you can go back to sleep in my office if you want."
"K," Brian mumbles as he slowly sits up.
After a quick shared shower we get dressed, Brian gives me a questioning look when I put on the only suit I own, and I just tell him it's an important meeting. After getting dressed and having a quick breakfast Brian and I head out the door and drive to the Sierra Inn. Brian, who apparently has been woken up by the shower and food decides to bring his skateboard so he can ride in his self made skate park. When we get into the lobby Juan is standing behind the front desk, his face lighting up like a Christmas tree when he sees us walking through the door.
"What are you doing here on a Saturday?" he asks as Brian and I approach the front desk.
"I'm meeting with somebody," I say. "Long story."
"Dad, can I go to my skate park now?" Brian asks me.
"Sure," I say, and before I can say another word Brian is out the side door and headed for the back of the motel.
"Dad?" Juan asks.
"Well I am adopting him," I say.
"Shit dude," Juan says, shaking his head. "I don't know what's scarier. Somebody calling you Dad or you wearing a suit."
"Very funny," I say, just as I hear the front door to the lobby opening.
I turn around and see Mr. Vanderbrook wearing a business suit himself walking into the lobby. He has not changed since the last time I saw him almost six years ago now. He is a tall man with broad shoulders, the only difference now is his dark hair is graying around the edges.
"Hello Mr. Vanderbrook," I say, as he approaches me. "Thank you so much for coming down here."
"Kevin Wasdin," he says, as he shakes my hand. "So good to see you again. You made quite an impression on me when you were interning at my company. I've never seen someone with your kind of drive."
"Thank you very much," I say, with a small smile. "This is Juan Hernandez, he's been working for me since we opened," I say introducing Juan, who has a questioning look on his face as he stands on the opposite side of the desk from us.
"Peter Vanderbrook, it's a pleasure to meet you."
"Peter Vanderbrook?" Juan, who is majoring in hospitality at a community college, asks. "Like Vanderbrook Properties?"
"One in the same," Mr. Vanderbrook says, with a smile.
"Very nice to meet you sir," Juan says, using a kind of respectful tone I've never heard from him before.
"So would you like a tour?" I ask, Mr. Vanderbrook.
"Yes, thank you," he says with a smile.
"Oh Juan, is Matt here yet?" I ask.
"No, he called, said he should be here about nine thirty," Juan says shaking his head. "Car trouble."
"Okay," I say. "Mr. Vanderbrook, why don't we go out this side door."
I show Mr. Vanderbrook around the motel, while answering his questions about what type of clients we get, and other general questions as we go. Finally we head back to my office to talk.
"Kevin I must say for a highway side motel I'm very impressed," Mr. Vanderbrook says as he takes a seat on the couch in my office. "You're numbers last quarter were fantastic. Why do you want to sell?"
"Well," I say, slowly. "You see, I have recently taken in a foster son, and I'm in the process of adopting him now. I really want to be there for him, and I have been given the opportunity to teach at ASU, which will allow me to be home when my son gets home from school."
"Are you single?" he asks.
"Yes I am," I say. "And I feel that it would be too hard to keep this place and raise my son."
"Don't you have help?" Mr. Vanderbrook asks.
"Well I have one manager," I say. "He works weekends and three days during the week. But even with that help I still have a mountain of work on my plate."
"I'm sure you do," Mr. Vanderbrook says. "Kevin, you have too much potential as an entrepreneur to be spending your time teaching others about business. You should be conducting it yourself."
"Thank you, very much," I say, a proud smile coming to my face once again. "But, my son is the most important thing to me right now."
"I'm very impressed," Mr. Vanderbrook says. "And I think I'm ready to make you an offer."
"So soon?" I ask.
"Yes," Mr. Vanderbrook says. "Now this is probably the best offer you'll get so listen closely. I'll take majority ownership of the motel, I'll pay you whatever you paid for construction. On a couple of conditions."
"Conditions?" I ask, thinking an offer that bad shouldn't come with conditions.
"Yes," Mr. Vanderbrook says. "The first condition is, you retain a minority ownership of the motel and continue to work here as a salaried employee of the Vanderbrook Corporation and general manager of the Sierra Inn. The second condition, you only come to this property for regular checks to make sure it is up to our company standard. The rest of the time you work from home so you can be there for your son."
"Yes," I say, in a minor state of shock. "But..."
"No, buts I'm not finished yet," Mr. Vanderbrook says, raising up his hand to stop me from talking. "Third condition you hire two more managers. One to work days during the week and one to work nights. This should cut down on your work load considerably. Finally you will be my senior advisor on tourism of Phoenix tourism. For this you will also work from home, and keep me up to date on events and possible areas of growth for my Phoenix properties including the Sierra Inn's expansion to a full resort and spa. As a result of your multiple positions with my company, I feel it only fair to offer you a salary of $115,000 a year. The position comes complete with stock options and benefits. Now that is my final offer."
"I don't know what to say," I respond, as my head spins from what I have just heard. The salary figure he just threw at me is more than I have made in the last two years combined.
"Say you'll take it, Wasdin," Mr. Vanderbrook says. "You're not going to get another offer like it."
"I'll take it," I say, before Mr. Vanderbrook has time to come to his senses and change his mind.
"Very good," Mr. Vanderbrook says. "I'll have my attorney draw up the papers, we should be able to have this finalized with in the week. Is that okay with you?"
"Yes," I say.
"In the meantime, start searching for additional managers," Mr. Vanderbrook says. "But make sure you only come here, to conduct interviews. Once our deal is finalized I will have my IT people get you set up at your home."
"Mr. Vanderbrook I don't know how to thank you," I say.
"No need, no need," he says, shaking his head, as he gets to his feet. "Welcome to the company Wasdin."
"Thank you, sir," I say as I shake his hand.
I walk Mr. Vanderbrook out to the lobby, barely resisting the urge to bear hug the man. Not only has he given me the opportunity to stay in the field I love, but he has allowed me to be there and provide for Brian. When I get back to my office I immediately pick up the phone and call my parents. I tell them to meet Brain and I for dinner tonight at the Italian restaurant Dad had wanted to go to last weekend, and that I have an announcement to make. After hanging up the phone I slowly make my way back to Brian's make shift skate park, where he is cruising around like he owns the joint.
"Are you done?" he asks me as he screeches to a halt only feet in front of me.
"Yep," I say with a smile.
"Was it a good meeting?" he asks me as we start making our way for the parking lot.
"Angel, come over here," I say, as I lead Brian over to a couple of crates sitting against the back wall of the motel.
"Is something wrong?" Brain asks, as we each take a seat on a crate.
"No, not at all," I say. "You know how much I love you?"
"Yeah," he says, looking a little worried.
"Well, sometimes when you love somebody as much as I love you, you do things you would have never thought you would do," I say.
"Like what?" Brian asks, curiously.
"Like changing jobs," I say.
"What?" Brian asks, surprised.
"Brian, I just met with a man, that is going to buy part of the motel from me," I say. "And he's going to make it possible for me to work from home, and he's going to pay me a lot of money to do it."
"But this is your motel," Brian says.
"Yes it is," I say. "And I'll still own part of it. But now, we won't have to come back here after school. And I won't have to worry so much about this place. And now we can do things like go to Suns games, and take trips."
"We can?" Brian asks.
"Yes!" I say. "Angel, you see I want to give you what I had when I was your age and more. And if I didn't do this, if I didn't sell the motel I would have never been able to give you what you deserve. God, Brian I would give you the moon if I could. I love you that much," I say, as I feel the tears building in my eyes.
"I love you too, Dad," Brian says with a smile, as he wraps his arms around my neck.
To Be Continued....
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Chapter 27 Coming Soon!!