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Chapter 4

Aunt Mildred's Surprise


Saturday has arrived, Ian and Eve managed to make their aunt believe they were excited by the visit of Cardinal Whittinger, the English Ambassador and other guests; they were dressed as if they were expecting royalty.

Michael and Father Luis arrived precisely at six o'clock and were ushered in immediately. Father Luis dressed in his finest clerical garb and Michael looking handsome, relaxed and ready to meet Mildred Thompson's guests.

Mildred gave Father Luis a dirty look but smiled ever so sweetly at Michael.

As if on cue Cardinal Whittinger entered and spotted Michael exclaiming, "Michael, what a grand surprise, your father said you would be in Australia but I had no idea you would be in this area." He kissed Michael on both cheeks and turned to Mildred and said, "Mrs. Thompson what a wonderful surprise, how did you know Michael is my godson?"

Mildred was leaning heavily against a large chair, her mouth moved but words failed her.

The Cardinal waved for the Ambassador to come in, Frederic look who's here. The Ambassador entered the room, saw Michael, bowed and said, "Lord Helmsley, I had no idea it was you whom we were here to see. How are you young man, your father had wired asking me to keep an eye on you but I had no idea where you were. Mrs. Thompson, I hope you are taking good care of this wonderful young man or the Queen Mother will never forgive you considering she is Lord Helmsley's godmother."

After receiving the second blow to her devious plans Mildred was now slouched in the large chair, she was still trying unsuccessfully to form words.

Father Luis who was standing beside Michael said, "Michael, I adore you." Michael gave Father Luis a wink as he introduced the priest to Cardinal Whittinger whom the priest had never met; Michael added that it was Father Luis who had been taking care of his comforts before introducing Father Luis to Frederic, England's Ambassador to Australia.

Other invited guests were all trying to get to Michael to shake his hand and say a few words. Both Ian and Eve where stunned to say the least, but happy. Michael waved for them to come join him. Ian whispered, "You really are a smarty pants, Lord Helmsley."

Michael smiled lovingly at Ian as he said, "I never denied it did I?" And by the way handsome, I love you with all my heart." Ian said, "and I you."

Eve pinched Michael's side hard making him jump. "Hey sis what was that for?"

"What was it you were saying about there were to be no more secrets among us?"

"Eve you know darn well you're enjoying every bit of this, and by the way you might want to get your aunt a glass of water she's looking a bit grey."

Eve's response was, "Auntie can get her own water, I'm sticking close to my two handsome brothers."

Ian and Michael both laughed, "Eve you really are incorrigible."

She laughed back as she replied, "Look who talking about incorrigible."

At that moment their father was approaching his sister with a glass of water, he was also sporting a suspiciously happy grin. He may not have known what his sister was up to but it was obvious he knew it had backfired.

Cardinal Whittinger came back and put his arm around Michael as he said, "Michael, you kept up your end of our bargain so your father and I will keep ours." He then put his other arm around Ian as he said, "I wish you two handsome men all the happiness the world has to offer, and God's blessings to you."

Michael thanked his godfather as he expressed his gratitude and love for the kind and loving man who was not only his godfather, but also his trusted friend. The Cardinal asked Michael if he would mind if he had a private word with Ian. He then led Ian off to another room. Michael looked at Eve smiling as he said, "Like I could have stopped him."

Eve said, "I wonder what that's all about."

About fifteen minutes had passed before Cardinal Whittinger and Ian reappeared, they stopped walking momentarily as Ian put his arms around the Cardinal and gave him a hug, the Cardinal took Ian's arm and walked him back to Michael.

The Cardinal excused himself saying he needed to mix and meet the other guests.

Michael and Eve asked what happened.

Ian looking very smug said, "That's my little secret and it's going to stay my secret until I know about the agreement Michael made with his dad and the Cardinal two years ago."

Michael laughed and said, "That's a deal Ian." Eve and Michael walked away leaving Ian standing there. They stopped and looked back over their shoulders as Michael said, "Come on Ian, what are you waiting for?"

It was only a few steps further before the Ambassador took both of Michael and Ian's hands and congratulated them, wishing them the very best and a long and happy life; turning to Eve, he added and those wishes go for you too young lady.

Ian said, "Michael does everyone know about us?"

"No Ian, just those with loving hearts and open minds. You will discover people who have a true understanding of Jesus and the love he taught are the last to judge others. Ian the Greek language is the only language that truly defines the many different kinds of love that exist; unfortunately there aren't words in the English language that can effectively translate those various meanings. Ian, it isn't time that heals all wounds, its love."

As the three walked together it seemed all of the guests wanted to meet Lord Helmsley and to shake his hand. And then there stood Mildred Thompson, front and center, with the Ian's father doing his best to hold his sister up. She looked dazed and wearing a rather goofy smile as she put out her hand. "Lord Helmsley, I had no idea it was you."

Michael said, "I'm sure you didn't Ms. Thompson, but I find I get a much truer read on the real person before they know who I am, and I have met the real you. Michael added, you have the most handsome, intelligent, and intellectually astute niece and nephew I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Perhaps one day you'll have that pleasure."

Michael's comment appeared to have gone over Mildred's head; hopefully later it will register when her head clears.

Ian and Eve's father shook Michael's hand and thanked him for everything; he put a strong emphasis on the words `for everything.'

Out of the blue, Eve asked if Ian knew when Gwen would be back from her visit with her family. Ian said, "Well that's part of what Cardinal Whittinger discussed with me in private. It seems Gwen was aware of my sexual preference from the very beginning, even before Aunt Mildred's attempts at arranging our marriage of convenience. When Gwen realized Michael and I had fallen in love she and her family went quietly to Cardinal Whittinger asking for an annulment, which he gave with his blessings."

Michael thought to himself; well that answers the question I had about who might be ten steps ahead of me. I must send Gwen a note of explanation as well a thank you for her understanding and kindness in this matter. Gwen is obviously one classy lady.

Chapter 5 to follow: