Those Golden Eyes
Lloyd was stunned. Mary and he had never had a serious confrontation before. Hell, they had arguments, but Mary had never made a threat before. This was serious. He couldn't imagine life without his wife and sons. They were his life.
He didn't have anything against Dave. Hell, he was a nice guy. It was just that he didn't want his boys to have any gay influence. He wanted them to be straight like himself. He'd never considered how he had hurt Mary by keeping Dave away from his boys. Well, he'd do anything she insisted on, to keep her and his sons in his life.
Lloyd made the decision to comply with Mary's demand, but still without her in bed beside him he had a restless night.
Mary had tried to sleep but the unfamiliar bed and her incensed thoughts made it impossible. She got up, made a pot of coffee and sat at the kitchen table mulling over the years. Lloyd had always been an ideal husband and father. They'd never had secrets from each other. How could he have hidden this from her. Why hadn't she suspected that Dave's actions weren't her fault.
David amble into the kitchen wearing pajama bottoms, his hair tousled, rubbing his eyes.
"Mom? Are you okay?"
"What are you doing up at this hour?"
"Something woke me. I decided to get a drink of water."
He got a glass and opened the fridge and poured himself a glassful. He sat down across from his mother, sipping the chilled water.
"So why are you up?"
"Oh, I've just got a lot of thinking to do."
"Yeah? Like what are you thinking?" He asked
She studied her eldest son for a few moments.
"David? What do you know about your Uncle Dave?"
"I know he owns a bookstore and that he lives near the university."
"What else do you know about him."
It was David's turn to study his mother, as he wondered what she was getting at.
"Well, I know he's gay."
"Okay. How did you learn that?"
David studied his mother, wondering what her motive was in asking these questions.
"How did he tell you? Did he just say Dave's gay?"
"So how did he say it?"
"You're making me feel like I'm betraying Dad, Mom"
"I'm sorry don't answer. I know how he said it. He called Dave a fag. And said that he didn't want you around him."
David blushed, which was as good as admitting that it was true.
"I could never understand why Dad feels like that, Mom. Uncle Dave has always sent us birthday and Christmas gifts. When I've seen him at Grandma's, he acts like a regular guy. He's not feminine or anything. He just acted like he was afraid to talk to me."
"He is a regular guy. You'd better get back to bed. It's hours before time to get up."
Kissing his mother's cheek, David gave her a hug and went back to bed.
Mary sipped her cold coffee and sighed. Her thoughts wandered freely. The Way Foundation. Dave's bookstore. What was the name of it? Oh yeah, Gates-Way. Dave's partner's name had been Way. Wonder if there's any connection? In the morning, she'd asked her mother what she thought.
Two days later Dave received a call from Mary.
"David just accepted a grant to the University, so the boys and I are coming down to check it all out."
"That's wonderful Mary. Plan on staying with me. I live right across the street from the campus."
"Are you sure Dave? Do you have room for the four of us?"
"Well, You can have one of the guest room and the boys can camp out. I'll put up a tent and furnish it with sleeping bags and air mattresses. They'll love the view from my yard."
"Are you sure, Dave?"
"Hey, I promise they'll be safe. Besides you'll be here to chaperone them."
There was dead silence on Mary's end for the count of ten heartbeats.
"That's not what I meant. Dave, you and I are going to have a long talk while I'm there. We'll arrive about two tomorrow afternoon. And we'll be most happy to stay with you."
"That sounds great, Sis."
"I love you, Dave. I've missed you. Bye."
She hung up before she broke down on the phone.
When Lloyd came in from work the tension was still high in the house. The boys knew that their dad was in deep trouble about something. There was still no kiss and hug for him from their mother. They all looked at him with curiosity. He just nodded to them and sat down at the dinner table. Mary laid a sheet of paper on his plate.
"This a list of meetings over the next two weeks. Mother has agreed to attend them with you. The name at the bottom is a counselor. You have an appointment to see him at seven every night that there isn't a meeting."
He looked up at her.
"I love you, Mary. I promise I'll go. Please stop being angry with me."
"Lloyd, when you've done what I have requested, I'll forgive you. But it's going to have to be from your heart."
Lloyd stared at his plate. Mary set the food on the table and sat down.
"Gary, please say grace."
Gary was her youngest son. At eleven years old he was small for his age, still had a bit of little boy about him. He bowed his head.
"Dear heavenly father, I don't know what's wrong between my mom and dad, but please make it right. And bless this food for which we're thankful. Amen."
He looked up at his mom. She smiled at him, but it wasn't with her whole face. His dad didn't even look up. He just filled his plate and then ate a little bit of the food.
Mary looked around the table making eye contact with each of the boys.
"I want you each to pack enough clothes for a three day trip. We're going to go down to the University and check it out for David."
"Are we going to stay at a Motel with a swimming pool, Mom?"
Mary stared at her husband as she answered.
"No, we're staying with your uncle Dave."
Lloyd didn't look up. Right then he was completely defeated. The only thing he could do was capitulate.
"Take a swim suit just in case Dave has a pool." He said, looking at his wife surprised expression.
"I know you are, Lloyd. I love you, but you've got to do this for yourself as well as for the boys and me."
He nodded, stood up and left the table.
On the drive down to Dave's, Mary told the boys that their relationship with their Uncle Dave was going to change.
"When we get their I would like it if you'd each give him a big hug. You've missed out on all these years of having an uncle and Dave has missed out on being there for you."
"Mom, why as he always ignored us? He acts like he's afraid of us."
"Well, that was your dad's doing. Dave is a great guy. Given the chance, I think you will all love him like I do."
Mary pulled the car up in front of The Tower. She stuck her head out of the window and craned her neck looking at it.
"This is the right address. But Dave said you could camp out in his yard. I don't see a yard. Wait here. Let me go in and ask."
"Yes ma'am." The guard at the desk answered. "You've got the right address. If you'll just pull you car under the portico I'll call Mr. Gates and let him know you've arrived."
Mary walked back out to the car shaking her head. She pulled into the driveway. Just as she was getting out of the car Dave burst out of the door.
"Mary! You made it." He gave her a big hug, and then turned to the boys. "Hi, guys. I haven't seen you for a long time."
Dave was shy with the boys. He'd never spoken to them before with out there father glaring at him as he watched. The boys stood grouped together not knowing what to expect from their uncle who had ignored them all their lives.
"Hello, Uncle Dave." They said in unison.
"Well? Give you uncle a hug." Mary told the boys.
They each stepped up and gave Dave a perfunctory hug. Dave hadn't expected the hugs so he was delighted even though they forced. He gingerly hug each boy and patted him on the back.
Smiling he turned back to his sister.
"Well, come on. I'll give you a tour of the place."
Dave led them over to the private elevator which opened as they approached. They all got in carrying their bags. Dave smiled and looked at them as they all looked dubiously back at him. When the elevator opened all their eyes got big.
"Wow. This place is neat." Matt exclaimed.
"Welcome to the eyrie. Make yourselves at home.
The boys all spread out checking out the place. Mary had stepped out of the elevator and froze. The sheer wealth and luxury stunned her. David wandered over to the french windows off the living room, and stepped out. He looked around and turned back.
"Mom, I found the yard."
She looked at her brother. He grinned.
"I told you they could camp out in the yard." He said, all innocence.
"You forgot to mention that the yard is thirty stories off the ground. Dave, this place is beautiful."
"Would you like a tour?"
"Of course, but I want to sit and talk first."
"Okay. Did the boys bring a swimsuit?"
"You have a pool up here, too?"
" It's just a lap pool. It's only four feet deep. So no diving."
"Well, thanks to Lloyd they brought there suits."
The boys were into their suits and into the pool in less than ten minutes.
"Let's sit in the den where we can keep an eye on them." Dave said, leading his sister through the house. The drapes were drawn when they entered the den. Dave pressed a switch next to the door, the curtains drew back and the floor to ceiling windows were exposed. The room filled with light. The boys were just outside splashing in the pool. Again Mary gasped. Dave chuckled, as he swung open two floor to ceiling panels of glass. Mary looked but she couldn't see any hinges; she'd never have suspected that there were doors in the wall of glass
"Takes some getting used to. My partner, Joe designed and built this place."
"The whole building?"
"Yeah. He won a bunch of awards for it."
"It's awe inspiring, Dave. Joe is your partner. Do you mean lover?"
"He's that too. My mate. My husband. The love of my life. What ever you're comfortable with."
"I like partner."
They studied each other.
"Dave, we lost so many years. Why didn't you tell me about Lloyd?"
"It' was something you had to find out for yourself. I'm sorry it took so long, but it was for the best. I didn't want to come between you two."
"Mom could have told me."
"No, I wouldn't let her. Lloyd's a good guy, a good father, and I'm sure he has been a good husband to you.
"He is all that. I am so angry at him right now. He had no right to keep you from your family. The boys have never had a chance to know the wonderful man that you are."
"Thanks, Sis. We have a lot of time to make up." ~~~~
"So," Joe drew the word out. "You are Dave's long lost sister." He had an arm over Dave's shoulders. "It's nice to meet you at last. And welcome into our home and into our life."
Mary studied his tanned face smiling into his piercing green eyes. She could easily see how and why Dave had fallen in love with the big sun-bleached blonde headed man..
"Thank you, Joe, It's so good to be back into his life. We've missed so many years. But we have promised each other that we will make up for it."
Joe looked the three boys over as they stood next to their mother.
"Now let me get your names right. I'm going to have to introduce you to my mother tomorrow night. You're David. And you're starting college here this fall." David grinned and nodded. Joe looked at the next one and grinned. "You're Max in the middle."
"That's not funny and its not very original."
"Max, mind you manners." Mary scolded.
"Well, how about Max the mostest." Joe suggested.
"What kind of word is that?"
"It means you are the ultimate."
"Okay, I like that." He said grinning back at Joe.
"And you, little man, are Gary."
"Don't I get to be something ,too?"
"Okay. How about Gary the greatest."
"The greatest what?"
"Well, what would you like to be the greatest at?"
"I don't know I'm still a kid."
"Then you can be the greatest kid."
Gary beamed at that.
"Where did you learn to be so good with kids?" Mary asked.
"Hey, I'm the oldest of four. My youngest sister just turned twenty-two." Joe shrugged and hands out, palms up.
"So we're all going to your mother's for dinner tomorrow?" Dave asked.
"Yep. When I told her that Mary was coming, she insisted that we be there for dinner. We have no choice in the matter."
"So let's take the clan to Gio Gio's tonight."
"That sounds good. Let me tell him we're coming." He pulled his cell phone out and pushed a button.
While Joe was talking Mary leaned over to Dave.
"Joe has the most beautiful green eyes."
"Joe's eyes aren't green they're golden." Dave replied with a straight face.
Mary kept trying to see his eyes as he talked.
"Of course where else would we go? So make something special that the boys are going to like." pause " Nah, spaghetti and meat balls they can get any where. If they are going to be part of the Paolini family they have to know good Italian food. How about Polenta with your wonderful Bolognese and a finocchio salad." pause "Perfect! We'll see you in one hour." Joe looked up at Dave as he disconnected.
"Gio is excited to be cooking for our family. It's going to be a wonderful meal."
As he spoke Mary watched his eyes turned from green to gold as he looked at Dave.
"I've never seen that before." Mary exclaimed.
Joe looked at her. His eyes were green again.
"Is it only when he looks at you?"
"Are you two talking about me again?" Joe asked.
While enjoying the wonderful meal that Gio had fixed for them Mary stopped in thought. Her fork suspended in over her plate. She looked at her brother and shook her head. Both men watched her.
"What?" Dave asked.
She shook her head.
"Nothing. I just had a thought."
"So tell us."
Mary studied her brother a minute.
"Your deceased partner's name was Way."
"Yes, Bill Way."
"You know its strange. David always been a good student, but he wasn't at the top of his class. I don't understand how he was picked for a scholarship just being an average student. It just seems a weird coincidence that it was from The Way Foundation. I was just wondering if there could be some connection."
Without thinking Dave corrected her.
"It isn't a scholarship it's a grant.
Dave, who was never good at telling a lie or hiding the truth, turned red. He played with the food on his plate, not looking up at his sister. Joe sat there with a bland look on his face. Mary studied Dave's contrite expression.
"There is a connection. I knew it. I told Mom that I thought there could be. Okay Dave, 'fess up to your big sister."
"You're too sharp for me. Yes, Joe and I set up the foundation. It's totally legit. The University picks ten students a year that need financial help and the foundation supplies it."
" So how does David fall into this category?"
"Mary, I've never had a chance to be an uncle to your boys. I know that Lloyd would be against my helping financially to put them through school so we set up the foundation as a front."
Mary thought about it for a few moments.
"And this money comes from where?"
"Out of pockets?" Joe said. Mary studied him as though he were an insect pinned to a board and then turned to her brother.
"I'm not a fool. I can add. I can even multiply. You are talking big bucks. A very successful architect and a bookstore owner do no make that kind of money."
"You're right. I inherited the money. Bill came from a very wealthy family. I inherited his entire fortune."
"Well, you look like you're telling the truth, but that is still pretty outrageous considering that you and Bill lived so modestly."
"Bill was an enigma. He came from money, but refused to live like it. He always wanted to be normal--- middle class. It wasn't until after his father died that I learned that he had inherited such a vast fortune."
"You are sitting here telling me that you two were sitting on so much money and didn't spend any of it?"
"Even after Bill died I didn't touch it until Joe pointed out the good we could do with it."
Mary turned and looked at Joe again.
"I suppose it was your sneaky idea to give my son a grant to go to school here."
Joe swallowed and duck his head, and looked up at her sheepishly. Dave grinned at his reaction. Only Joe's mother could cow him like that.
"Actually, Mary, it was Joe's idea. I still haven't come to grips with having all this money and the power that comes with it."
Mary shook a finger in Joe's face.
"Well, Joe, I want to tell you that if it weren't for you, I'd still have a bigot for a husband and a brother that treats me like I'm contagious."
"Translated means thank you for what you've done." He explained.
Mary gave Joe a curt nod agreeing with Dave, but her mind was obviously on to something else.
"When you say entire fortune how much are you talking about?"
Dave sputtered. Again Joe jumped in to save him.
"One of the big financial magazines declared him the third wealthiest man in the United States."
Dave closed his eyes and groaned. Mary went from bug-eyed to frowning as she looked at her brother.
"That's after he paid the inheritance taxes." Joe added.
"Well, spread the wealth around and we can all live on easy street."
"It's exactly that kind of thinking that I don't like." Dave snapped
"I was joking, Dave. I don't want that." Mary said.
They ate in an uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. Joe finally broke it.
"You know when I was a kid we used to play a game called 'What would I do if I had a Million Dollars.' What would you do, Mary if you were given a million tax free to do with as you please?"
Dave had a horrified look on his face. Joe grinned at him.
"Relax, Babe, it's only a game. Mary?"
"There's no doubt the first thing I'd do is get Gary out to the coast to the Orange County Children's Hospital. He was born with a slight scoliosis. There's a specialist there that can correct it with a couple of operations. After that-- I don't know. I'll have to think about it. I know, I'd go find an A&W Root beer stand and order a big root beer float like we used to get when we were kids. Remember them, Dave?"
"Yeh, yeh I remember them." he answered. His mind was elsewhere. "So how soon does Gary need this operation." He asked.
"Well, he's eleven now. The doctors tell us that by his mid teens it will start affecting him more adversely. It's already affecting his growth. This grant that David has been given is a Godsend. We can take Gary out there in six months. And he'll be back in time for the start of the next school year."
"Why is the wait so long?"
"That's as soon as we could get an appointment."
"Um." Dave was quiet the rest of the evening.
End of Chapter 12