Kim knocked gently on Lance's bedroom door and entered carrying a small silver tray with orange juice in an exquisite cut-crystal glass. Kim opened the drapes and let the sunlight stream into the room.
Kim said, "Good morning, Master Lance. I'm Kim the house and complex manager. Would you like a glass of juice before breakfast?"
"Good morning, and thank you for the juice," Lance said.
"Your father has asked me to take you under my wing and see to everything," Kim said. "I will help you to become a young gentleman. Today we start with your morning routine of exercise, shower, hair styling, and dressing. During the next week, I will see if the wardrobe I selected fits you, and order anything special you may want."
Kim noticed that Lance was wearing no pajama top. "Are you naked?" Kim asked.
"Yes. I couldn't stand to have anything against my skin last night," Lance said. "Would you hand me my robe, or a towel, please?"
"Roll over on your stomach and let me take a look at your back," Kim said. "My God! Did Mac see these welts?"
"I was too embarrassed to show him," Lance said. "Anyway, the doctor examined me last night."
Kim pulled the cover back over him, and walked into the bathroom, where he filled the tub for Lance. He returned to the bedroom with an extra large bath towel. He wrapped it around Lance and led him into the bathroom. He added some Epsom Salts to the bath water and helped Lance into the tub. "You soak in there for twenty minutes."
Kim picked up the house phone and called the surgery. He asked the nurse to send up a tube of ointment to Suite-2C. Ten minutes later an orderly arrived with the salve.
Kim helped Lance out of the tub, dried him off and had him lay face down on the massage table. He applied the medicated ointment on the welts and let him rest until it penetrated into the skin.
"You should have called me last night," Kim said. "Promise me you will call if you have any problems in the middle of the night. You are my responsibility now. Your father gave me that honor. Now my job is to take care of you, and I can't do that if you don't cooperate."
"Yes, Kim," Lance said. "I didn't know the rules. I promise to call you from now on. How long have you known my dad?"
"I feel I've known Mr. Mac all his life," Kim said. "But he has only lived here three years. Drew Stevens, the big boss, found your dad half frozen to death, on his doorstep almost four years ago. Mr. Stevens took him in and we have been blessed, since that day. You are a very lucky young man to have Mac for a friend, let alone your father. He has made this Retreat a happy and enjoyable place to live. I love him as I would my own son, and I will take care of you in the same way. Your father is one of the smartest men I have ever known, and treats me, and everyone else, with respect and kindness, in spite of his wealth and power. You'll learn more about your father as time goes on."
"You'll meet Mrs. Mac and the rest of the family this afternoon, including your baby brothers and sister. Your father said you are to have your meals in the dining room with him and Mister Drew from now on," Kim said. "I will lay out your dinner costume every evening, so you will know in advance if you are dining with family, or with special guests."
After Lance was dressed, Kim called Mac and told him that Lance was ready to receive visitors. A few seconds later Mac arrived.
"Good morning, all. Kim, I see you have worked your magic once again," Mac said. "Lance looks terrific. Are you pleased with the results, Lance?"
"Yes, sir, Kim has taken good care of me. I love all these wonderful new clothes," Lance said. "How did you know my size, everything fits perfectly?"
"You told me in your first conversation, and Kim did the rest," Mac said. "I told you he could work wonders, didn't I?"
"Thank you both, for everything," Lance said. "Everything is so beautiful."
"Now it's time you met Drew," Mac said.
Drew was in the morning room having his coffee as he was browsing through the Sunday Times. Classical music was playing in the background. The sun was streaming in the huge picture windows. The enormity of the setting made the people small by comparison.
"Drew, I would like you to meet my son, Lance."
Drew stood up and shook Lance's hand. "Welcome to the Retreat, Lance," Drew said. "Mac is right; you are a handsome young man. I hope you had a good night's sleep. Let's have breakfast. I want you to think of this as your home from now on. If you ever have a problem, and you need a good listener, you come to me. I would like you to call me Uncle Drew, if that's agreeable with you?"
"I would like that," Lance said. "From what I have seen so far, this house is huge. My bedroom suite is twice the size of the second floor of my uncle's house. Everyone I've met here has been friendly. It's a radical change from the way I was living yesterday; it's really mind boggling. My new dad has pulled me out of hell and taken me to live in the palace with him. I'm still in a state of shock. I have never been exposed to this kind of luxury. It's hard to take it all in at once. I realize that I am a very lucky boy."
"You've picked the right man to be your father," Drew said. "You really are a lucky young man."
"I've talked to your mother," Mac said. "She's planning to be here this afternoon."
"Drew and I will be leaving Wednesday afternoon for vacation and will be returning the following week," Mac said. "Your mother will be here to see that you are enrolled in school, and will also take you into Manhattan for a series of special psychological tests."
"By the time I return, all your test results will be in and we can sit down and discuss everything," Mac said. "Please don't feel that we're neglecting you, but we need time to unwind. We had no idea the stork was delivering you to us. I hope you will understand."
"I'm lucky to be here and I wouldn't expect you to change your plans for me," Lance said. "You've done more for me already than I ever expected, and I'm grateful just being here with you and Uncle Drew."
"Would you care to join me on a tour of the Retreat after breakfast?" Drew asked. "That is after you do your security thing. It will give you the chance to get your bearings of the layout. It will also give us a chance to get acquainted."
"It's time for the farm boy to eat," Mac said. "I'm starving."
After breakfast Mac led Lance to the lower level of the manor to take care of electronic finger printing, voice printing and video ID. "Now you will be able to gain access to every secure area on this estate. This brings us to another important rule, Lance. You must never repeat anything you hear, or anything that happens in this house to outsiders," Mac said. "The definition of an outsider is anyone that is not our immediately family, that is me, my wife, Drew and your brothers and sister. That rule applies to friends, relatives, or acquaintances.
"I have arranged for your mother to enroll you at Stevens Glen High School tomorrow. The day you legally became my son, you came under my protection and you now have your own security team watching over you. Tomorrow morning you will be briefed by Pat O'Connor, or one of my security men on the dos and don'ts of security matters. You have a responsibility now to protect us, as we are protecting you.
"I want you to start thinking about your future and where you think you want to be in four years. In other words, start planning for your future and your career path."
"You never have to worry about me repeating anything that goes on in this house," Lance said. "I feel privileged that you are willing to speak about important decisions in my presence, let alone, allow me to ask you questions about anything."
"I believe that you have an enormous capacity to learn and to understand complex business issues. I started to explore my business plan when I was eleven years old. I plan to run you through a series of mental tests to find out your mental capacity for learning. If you have the capacity I think you have, I am going to help you achieve your full potential. How do you feel about that?"
"I would like that," Lance said. "Your concept sounds exciting."
"When Lenore arrives we can sit down and go over the list of the important things you must take care of while I'm away."
"I like Kim," Lance said. "He said you instructed him to teach me how to dress like a gentleman," Lance said. "You know he thinks of you as his son."
"Kim is a good man and a friend," Mac said. "He was very good to me when I first arrived here, and made me feel at home. He is genuinely concerned about my well-being and I trust him without question. Even to this day, he watches over me to make sure I don't get into trouble. Sometimes I can become so involved with my projects, that I neglect my health, and drive myself too hard. If it were not for Drew and Kim I would end up in the funny farm with a breakdown. So much for my short comings. We shouldn't keep Drew waiting. He is anxious to show you his wonderful Retreat. Drew has poured a lot of love and effort into making this estate the beautiful place it is today. Drew is a wonderful person; he made it possible for me to build my corporation. Listen and learn from him as I always do"
Mac took Lance back to the second floor where Drew was waiting.
"Here is your willing pupil, ready for the grand tour," Mac said. "I'll meet you in the library after you're finished."
Drew led Lance down into the underground tunnels that led to the other buildings that were part of the Manor house complex. Drew gave him the history of the Manor house and a brief explanation of each building, including the surgery, the barn, guest villas, and townhouses. He showed Lance the lift that he would use to take him down to the village. He told him that a security guard would drive him to and from the lift every day. He went on to explain the history of the village, and the high scholastic standing the school enjoys.
He told Lance that financially he helps support the school and that both he and Mac take an active interest in the community affairs.
"Did you know that you will be the first Stevens in the family to attend the High School? I hope it will not be difficult for you, Lance," Drew said. "If it does become a problem, we'll send you to a private school. You let us know if you have any problems."
Drew used one of the golf carts to continue the tour. They drove over to the recreation area that included indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts and a basketball court. Finally, they arrived outside the new office complex. Drew led Lance through the building and showed him the executive offices and up to the observation lounge atop the complex. Part of the lounge was used as the company dining room. The entire room was enclosed in a wall of tinted glass.
Lance said, "The view is absolutely breathtaking, this is truly beautiful. Everything I've seen is so beautiful. I never had the opportunity to visit an estate as magnificent and as large as this one. The nearest I have ever come is some of the mansions they showed on television. I have only seen original artwork and antiques similar to your fine collection hanging in the Metropolitan Museum. Even there it's not as tastefully displayed and as pleasing to the eye as this. Thank you for sharing this with me, Uncle Drew. It's so difficult for me to believe that I am part of all this now.
"My life for the past two years has been a living hell. I prayed that I could survive my uncle's nasty ways until my eighteenth birthday. I had planned to run away and get a job to support myself, or talk to my trustees to allow me attend a college as far away from my uncle as possible. I was also trying to build my body to try to stand up to him when the time came. I was willing to try anything to get away and still survive. I've seen enough TV shows on homelessness to realize what happens to street kids. If I ran away from home, I knew I could end up a lot worse than living with my uncle. The thing that really made me write to Mac was my fear of AIDS. I am terrified that my tests may show up positive. My uncle was jerk and a stupid one as well. He never used condoms. I begged him to please use a condom. He told me that real men don't use condoms, and whipped me for calling him a child molester. I feel unclean and embarrassed when I think about what he did, but my fear of AIDS is much worse. This thought consumed my every waking hour. My grades were starting to slip and I lost my appetite. That was when I decided to write to Mac.
"I knew Mac felt terrible asking me to have sex with my uncle one more time for the cameras," Lance said. "But I didn't feel anything. I blocked it out of my mind because this was the last time and Mac would take me away from all that. I was delighted that this act would be the proof that Mac needed to use against my uncle.
"You can understand how I felt, Uncle Drew," Lance said. "I know Mac feels terrible about this, yet he shouldn't because I don't. Maybe you can somehow explain that to him. I'm so happy to be his son. Uncle Drew, you cannot possibly imagine what it means to be welcome in this beautiful home."
"I'm pleased that you feel this way," Drew said. "I feel the same way about the Retreat. I know that Mac felt badly he had to ask you to endure that humiliation one more time. Mac is a very compassionate man and he would have gladly killed your uncle first rather than put you through that, but it wouldn't have resolved the issue. He knew he had to have proof before your uncle would give him custody and allow him to adopt you legally. You see, Mac accepts you now as his son. You formed a bond with him from the first time you met and it will never be broken. You must take care never to lie to him, and you must always go to him if you have a problem.
"Don't think you can hide anything from him, Lance, because you can't. If you do, you will end up disappointing him."
"I will never disappoint him, Uncle Drew," Lance said. "You know something very strange and wonderful happened to me that day on the plane that I can never explain. When he opened his arms and held me, I knew I was safe. I felt this burden melt away. From that moment on, I felt secure and wanted. The last time I felt that way was when my parents were alive.
"Dad said you are a special person and that I should listen and learn from you," Lance said. "Here I've been unloading my problems on you. I'm sorry, Uncle Drew."
Drew smiled, "That's what I do best, Lance, I'm a good listener. I want you to feel that you can come to me any time to talk."
"You know it's very strange," Lance said. "I feel I have known you all my life." Lance walked up and hugged Drew, "Thank you for listening."
Drew put his arm around Lance's shoulder, led him to the cart and drove back to the Manor.
They could hear the piano music before they reached the drawing room. Mac was playing a Beethoven piano concerto. They both sat down and listened until he finished.
"That was beautiful," Lance said. "I wish I could play like that. My folks had given me piano lessons for years but all that ended when my father died. Uncle Stanley sold the piano because my practicing disturbed him."
Mac said, "Would you like to continue where you left off?"
"I think I would like to try again," Lance said. "It's going to pretty much depend on my other school activities. I would like to continue with my swimming and soccer, if that's all right with you. If we can work out a schedule, I would really like to continue taking piano lessons."
"I want you to do all three things. Don't worry; we'll work out a reasonable schedule. You'll have to play soccer at the high school but you can continue your swimming and piano lessons here at the Retreat. We'll find a good coach for the swimming and a professional piano teacher to work with you."
"Thanks, Dad. Do you have any chores for me to do?"
Mac smiled, "You didn't think I was going to neglect that, did you?"
"After lunch, I will give you a notebook computer and train you in some of my software programs. I want you to write to me every day while I'm out of town to keep me abreast of your daily progress. One of your chores will be to learn our entire computer system. I would like you to spend a minimum of a half-hour each day."
"That's enough for now," Mac said. "There's your mother's helicopter landing. Let's walk down and meet her."
Lenore deplaned and walked over to Mac and gave him a peck on the cheek.
"Don't tell me, let me guess," Lenore said. "You must be Lance, my son, right?"
Lance smiled and said, "Yes, ma'am."
"Well, it's nice to meet you, Lance," Lenore said. "Now take my arm and walk me to the house."
They went directly into the drawing room. The conversation was light and pleasant.
Mac knew Lance was nervous about the impending discussion about his future. "Lance is feeling a little uncomfortable thinking about what we are planning for him," Mac said. "I've told him our only concern is to plan what's best for him for the next several weeks. We also must agree on a good cover story for him that we can all live with. We should try to eliminate any confusion should anyone start asking questions. We all know how curious people can be.
"Your mother will enroll you in school tomorrow and will have a conference with your guidance counselor. She has arranged to take you into town for your appointments with the two psychologists we discussed. You also need to apply for your passport, and finally, I want Christopher, Kim's counterpart in our New York Penthouse to arrange to take you to Saks and to our tailor to get you outfitted with a new wardrobe. Now those are the must do things."
"Don't worry, Lance, we'll have a good time together," Lenore said. "Your father has given me a detailed report on your background so you won't have to go through that again. We can work out a schedule this afternoon."
"Your mother is very modest when it comes to tooting her own horn," Mac said. "It's up to me to tell you what a bright and talented lady she really is. Your mother is a deputy District Attorney for the City of New York and carries a heavy caseload. I think she is the best criminal lawyer in the country. She works very hard and puts in long hours at the office. She is good at her job besides being one smart cookie."
Lenore smiled and said, "Thanks, Mac, I needed that, it's been a rough few days. I felt like throwing in the towel more than once this past week. I hate the politics that go along with this job."
"When you've had enough, maybe you will give my idea some more thought," Mac said. "You know I won't start anything until you're ready to make the move."
"Tell you what, Mac, why don't you put a proposal together and as soon as the baby is born, I feel that's the time to make a move."
"Now I think the cover story that you worked out is good, and it will work for all of us."
"Lance, this is the cover story you will use if anyone should ask," Lenore said. "Your birth mother told you that she was related to Mac's family back in Kentucky. They lost touch with your mother when she married and moved to Long Island. Your father worked for the firm that Mac purchased and your mother made you promise that you never mention that to anyone, not even to your father.
"After your uncle became your guardian, and he abused you, you wrote to your cousin Mac. After he learned about your predicament, we adopted you. We are raising you as our son. This is the only way we can transfer your school records. Incidentally, child abuse covers a broad area. It can mean beating, threatening a child, mental abuse, or molestation."
"It's not necessary for you to volunteer anything about the rape to anyone. If you are asked, say it's too unpleasant to discuss. If they give you a hard time, you let us know, and they will be sorry they asked. Remember, Lance, you are a Steven's now. Your old life is over. Now we would like to hear what you think Lance."
"It's perfect, and surprisingly enough it's based on facts. You are very clever," Lance said. "How did you know my mother was born and raised in Kentucky?"
"We didn't," Lenore said. "We fabricated the story based on Mac's background to make it fit your situation. Do you remember your mother's maiden name and the town she came from in Kentucky?"
"My mother's maiden name was Macintosh and her family was from Frankfort, Kentucky," Lance said.
"That's very interesting," Mac said. "My mothers' maiden name was Macintosh. That's quite a coincidence. Who knows maybe we are related? We'll have to talk to my mother when I return."
"That's a possibility Mac," Drew said. "It would answer a lot of questions."
"If you gentlemen don't mind, I need to lie down for a bit," Lenore said. "I'll see you all at dinner."
"I'm going to give Lance some training on his computer, Drew; we shouldn't be too long."
"Good! I need to call the family and tell them about the our new addition to the family."
Mac took Lance into the den where he began the instructions on the use of his new notebook computer. He gave Lance his special access codes and concentrated on the communication programs he would need to use to communicate with him while he was away.
"You have a quick mind, Lance, you picked that up fast," Mac said. "Will you remember everything I've shown you so far?"
"That would depend. If I want to remember the information you just gave me, I must force myself to remember. If I don't, it tends to fade very quickly. I'm explaining that wrong; let me try again. I can remember everything you tell me but not verbatim. However, if it's important and I want to remember verbatim, I will retain everything. I can also do the same with everything I read."
"That's interesting," Mac said. "How long have you been able to do this?"
"For as long as I can remember. I discovered this talent quite by accident. One day in class, I was having a difficult time with a math problem and my teacher worked out several of the problems for me. She told me to concentrate on one of these basic problems, then remember how we solved them. The rest should be easy. Well, when I did as the teacher said, I was able to recall the solution and still can to this day. That was four years ago."
"It's called selective memory recall, Lance," Mac said. "How many people know of this talent?"
"You are the only one that knows."
"Let's keep it that way, I have the same gift Lance, and I will help you to disguise your talent from other people. Can you read other peoples thoughts?"
"I can sometimes."
"Please enlighten me, we farm boys need a little time to absorb things."
Lance laughed, "I read your thoughts the day I met you on the helicopter, in the car last night and when you kissed me last night. However I haven't been able to read your thoughts since then. I have been able to read some of Uncle Drew's thoughts, but not all of them."
"I want you to tell me every thing you have learned from reading our minds and anyone else."
"I only get little bursts," Lance said. "I know that you and Uncle Drew love me, and that you mean it when you call me son. Uncle Drew is a very sincere and sensitive person; he also wants what is best for me. I know that Kim and Mr. Schneider like me. However, I have not been able to get any feed back from my mother. Don't laugh dad, but her brain is a mess, she has too many things going on at once, and I just gave up."
Mac laughed out loud, women are like that Lance," Mac said. "But give her a chance, she's a good person."
"Seriously, Lance, I want your promise never to read anyone's mind again without their permission. You are in essence invading their privacy, and you don't have that right," Mac said. "It would be the same as reading another person's mail, or eavesdropping on their conversations, but far more serious than that. You are too young emotionally to interpret the information you receive. I want you to continue to develop your brain in those areas that are useful to you and I'll see you are trained properly. I want your permission to share this knowledge with Uncle Drew."
"Of course, Dad," Lance said. "You have my permission to read my mind any time you wish."
"You should know one thing about me, Lance, I've made a promise to Drew never to keep secrets from him and I will never lie to him. I must withhold permission for you to read my mind, because the information could be harmful to you, and secondly, I have made promises to people about secrets that I can never reveal, under any circumstances. I have trained my brain to jam any person from reading my thoughts. That's why you were not able to learn any additional information from me. Even the most skilled of us cannot block out our feelings. For some reason they still remain one of our strongest powers.
"You must use your powers if you perceive any danger to yourself or to our family," Mac said. "You will learn more and more as you develop your full potential. Another thing, never reveal what you have learned, even to the individual you have scanned. Let me give you an example. I received permission from a subject to read his mind. I learned that he was withholding a secret that he didn't want me to know. Since his secret did not affect my company or me, I determined I could trust the man even though he broke one of my serious rules. Years later he told me his secret and the reason he never told me the truth. He could not tell me because he had given an oath never to reveal this information. I never told the man that I knew his secret all along, and I never used that knowledge to my own advantage, because it was his secret. I believe that if I abuse this gift it will be taken away from me. The happy side to the story is when the subject did reveal his secret sometime later, I was able to use the information to help him, my company and a lot of other people in the process. I could never have done it had I tried to use the information without his help."
"I promise you I will do as you ask."
"I have asked Mike Lee and Karl Landsdorf to train you in the use of the computer. Each is a trusted executive in my organization and both are extremely intelligent. They are part of my inner circle. Mike is excellent at security and is my troubleshooter. Karl is a computer whiz and a financial genius. I am sending you to them because they both speak several languages and can help you with your Spanish and German. I want you to study both languages immediately. When they contact you please try to work with them. Remember, Lance, you are the son of a very wealthy and powerful man. People will expect more from you than a normal boy your age. Always be courteous and friendly. You are intelligent and you will learn how to accept this burden. It is my hope that you will want to share my dream and the love I have for running our family business. This is my dream, Lance. It may not be yours, but whatever career or vocation you choose, I will accept your decision, always remember that.
"I've taken up enough of your free time. You probably want to wander around to get used to this place on your own. Let's plan to meet in the drawing room before dinner."
"I would like to know the house rules, when I can and cannot disturb you, or Uncle Drew," Lance said. "Can I hang out with you whenever, or would you prefer I confine myself to a certain area of the Manor?"
Mac smiled, "If you want to be my shadow, that's fine with me, you won't bother me. If my door is open and I'm working, come in and sit down and make like a mouse. When I'm concentrating I don't like to be interrupted. Otherwise, I would probably enjoy the company. Never enter or disturb anyone if his or her door is closed. You have access to any room in the house if the door is open. If it's urgent use the house phone."
Lance smiled, "Thanks, Dad, I plan to walk around outside and then get ready for dinner."
Mac spent the time working out a schedule for Lance and made several calls setting up doctor's appointments for him. Dr. James called a little after four to let him know that Lance's tests were back and they were all negative, no diseases were present. The uncle's tests were also negative, no sign of the AIDS virus. They both were given a clean bill of health. Mac found Drew in the library and gave him the good news, then left to find Lance.
He found him in his bedroom sitting on the window bench staring out over the lawn, tears running down his cheeks. Mac walked over and sat next to him. "What's the matter son?" Mac asked him. "Why are you crying?"
"I walked around this beautiful estate and thought of all the wonderful plans you have for my future," Lance said. "I feel so much love here, from everyone. This is all too good to be true, and I'm afraid something bad will happen and I will lose this. I've lost everything else that was good in life. I've found out through experience that life is not a fairytale, I know that. I feel that the axe will fall again and this time I will go to an early grave like my parents."
"I'm sorry to disappoint you, Tiger. You are not going to die of AIDS," Mac said. "Dr. James called a few minutes ago to let me know that you are free of any disease."
Lance stared at Mac with the tears flowing down his cheeks now, and threw his arms around Mac and cried for a long time. Mac held him until he stopped sobbing.
"Have you got it out of you're system now, Lance?" Mac said.
Lance didn't move; he still held on to Mac. "I was sure I had AIDS and wouldn't be around to enjoy this beautiful estate," Lance said. "I explained that to Uncle Drew this morning. However, he took such great pleasure in showing me this estate I hope I didn't spoil his morning. I love everything about this place, the mountains, the peace and quiet, the priceless artwork, the antiques, the people . . . everything. This place is breathtaking. I'm a fourteen year old teenager who has never been exposed to this much beauty on this scale in my life. What is totally weird is that I know you. It was an awesome feeling that gripped me and one that I'll never forget. I knew the questions you were going to ask me, before you had spoken them. I could have given you your answer then, but I listened to everything you had to say. Dad, I knew exactly what Uncle Drew would look like and how he would act before I met him."
Lance pulled away from Mac and said, "I don't understand it, Dad. Am I losing it?"
Mac penetrated deeply into Lance's brain said, "You are fine, son, just relax and don't think about it any longer. You are not insane, you have special powers and you may have read more of my mind than you thought. You knew the answers because you had pulled them out of my brain. You discovered about Drew in the same way, that all."
Lance answered Mac using his telepathic powers, "Dad that answers part of my experience, but not all of it," Lance said. "Let me take you back to how I felt that day."
Mac experienced those emotions first hand from Lance. His brain waves were unusually strong. It felt as if he had been given a strong tranquilizer. The effect was pleasant and relaxing and it gave him a sense of tranquility. It was exactly as Lance had described his feelings.
"That was extraordinary," Mac said. "I feel very relaxed. I would not have believed it unless I had experienced it first hand. I can't explain that at all. Your right, it is spooky. I'll have to give that some thought. Do you feel better now?"
"You already know that answer," Lance said. "I love you, Dad." Lance stood up and wiped his eyes. "I think I'll call Kim for that whirlpool he promised me and then dress for dinner. I'll see you in the drawing room as soon as I'm ready." With that he rang for Kim and walked into his dressing room.
They were all in the drawing when Lance walked in. Lenore turned and stared at Lance for a minute. Lance smiled and sat down. "I apologize for being late, but I had to clean up for dinner. It won't happen again, I promise."
"It's not that, Lance," Lenore said. "It's that you looked exactly like your father when I met him at Yale. It took me back to our younger days."
"Kim styled my hair the same as Dad's," Lance said. "That's all, do you like this style?"
"It looks good on you, it must be the hair style," Lenore said as she winked at Drew.
"You do resemble Mac," Drew said.
Mac walked over to the group and said, "You look a lot better than the last time I saw you."
"I feel a lot better. It's nice to know I'm going to live. My mother and Uncle Drew said I looked a lot like you when you were younger. What do you think, Dad?"
Mac laughed, "Why would you find that strange? After all you are my son."
Kim came in and announced that dinner was ready. Lance helped Lenore up from the chair and escorted her as they all walked to the dining room.
After dinner Mac said he had some work to catch up on and would be turning in early. He hugged Lenore and gave her a peck on the cheek. Good night all."
Mac worked at his desk for two hours and headed to Lance's room to tuck him in. Lance's door was open and he was in bed reading. "Is everything alright, Tiger?" Mac asked.
"Just fine; did you finish your work?"
"Sure did, now it's off to bed for me, we all have a full schedule tomorrow." He leaned down and kissed Lance on the forehead, "Goodnight, Lance, pleasant dreams."
"Thanks, Dad, I will tonight."
Mac made his way up to his suite, changed and slipped into bed next to Drew.
"What's on your mind, Mac?"
"It's about Lance," Mac said. "He really got to me this afternoon. I find it upsetting to talk about it now. I want you to read my mind and experience the conversations I had with Lance today."
Mac could tell the moment Drew reached the exchange in Lance's bedroom; he could see the tears running down Drew's face. When he finished he said, "My God, what a sensitive boy he is. It is criminal that any young child should have to endure that. I don't know how you were able to control yourself Mac. My heart goes out to him. I'm glad he didn't tell me that this morning, because I would've lost it. I marvel at his mental attitude. The grief Lance has gone through in the past three years would fell a grown man, let alone a young child."
"Thank God I was able to rescue him before he turned into a basket case," Mac said. "I don't think I will ever be able to explain or understand this phenomenon, I find it extraordinary."
"I find it more than most extraordinary," Drew said. "Lance is a phenomenon in himself. He has all your gifts, except your premonitions. I think we're going to learn that Lance has a high IQ just like you.
"Personally, I find him to be a warm and sensitive young man," Drew said. "I spoke to Claudia and mother about Lance and they both agree that he should become acquainted with his cousins and the Erickson's. Through them he can meet other teenagers his age and social status. I have a strong feeling that Lance will turn out to be a fine young man. I must confess I have a soft place in my heart for him already, he reminds me so much of his father. When Lance walked into the room this evening I was taken aback. Lenore grabbed my hand and said, "My God, he looks just like Mac. She was right of course, not only does he look like you; he has started to take on your mannerisms, even to the way you walk. I couldn't believe my eyes. Give him a few years and he will look just like you. Don't waste any time checking out any family connection."