Family & Friends Series


By Ron Robbins,
edited by Frank Perry

2008 All rights reserved

Part 23

Paradise Island

Mac and Drew relaxed for three glorious days. No emergency phone calls and no visitors, just lazy relaxing days, a honeymoon Paradise revisited. Their love for each other had not changed; if anything it became stronger as time passed.

Naturally, they spent a portion of their time responding to a few serious problems they could not neglect. Mac did not ignore Lance's daily newsletter. He emailed the letters every morning at six o'clock and today was no exception.

Dear Dad,

I was too tired to write last night. Mother wants me in my bedroom by eight and asleep by nine every night, if I expect to be up every morning at five. We have our little talks, not the long conversations you and I usually have. I learned first hand that mom is an extremely intelligent woman, and I really like her. She can be very dynamic and forceful at times, dealing with other people.

I admire her ability to get what she wants. She is a skilled manipulator. I decided to learn her tactics; she can be charming and polite with people at the onset. However, if that doesn't work, she uses the mantle of her office. Finally, if that doesn't do the trick, she will resort to her courtroom tactics. By the time she's finished with a person, they are groveling at her feet. As I said, Mom can be a formidable woman.

She had a very interesting childhood. Of course, you know Mom, she like Uncle Drew, was born into wealth. What I found curious was why she would choose a career in criminal law? One has to be tough minded to want to deal with the lower elements in our society. I can't imagine why she wants to deal with that every day. When I know her better, I plan to ask her.

I'm officially enrolled at the family High School and start attending classes next Monday. Seemingly, everyone is friendly and cooperative. I will be taking make-up classes for German, since I didn't start at the beginning of the year. The coach is letting me try out for both the swimming and soccer teams later this week.

Helicopters are the only way to travel into Manhattan, and it's also exciting. I'm surprised Uncle Drew doesn't have a Rolls Royce limo. The Cadillac is definitely out of character for a man of his taste. For a few extra dollars, he could be riding in a first class luxury car.

Mom called a friend of Uncle Drew's before we visited the passport office to expedite the paperwork for my passport. Mom is a marvel; she told me that I should never be afraid to use my power or influence when it's appropriate. I should have my passport in two weeks.

From there we went directly to the medical group that Uncle Drew recommended. We had a short lunch, and back again for another three hours of tests. I finally finished by five PM. I have never talked to so many doctors in my life before, nor have I ever seen brain scanning equipment for my MRI like that before. I'm glad that's all over.

Mom is not feeling well today, so I'm to be chaperoned by my security chief, Pat McCormick. I like Pat; he's really a super guy. He spent the entire day with me yesterday, and gave me a comprehensive security briefing. Now I know the dos and don'ts.

I have an eight o'clock appointment with Dr. Helmling this morning and will be spending the afternoon with Christopher.

I hope you are enjoying your trip. Give my love to Uncle Drew and save some for yourself.

Love, Lance

Drew chucked as Mac read the letter to him at breakfast. "You know he's right about the limo. I've always liked the Rolls, but I was always concerned about being a target," Drew said. "With the security we have today, I don't think that's a problem any longer. The Cadillac is getting old anyway. I'll take Lance with me to pick out the Rolls."

"I hope Lenore goes full term," Mac said. "She has been suffering with this baby. I think I'll call her now." He made the call and talked to her for some time.

"Lenore said she is as well as can be expected for being six months pregnant," Mac said. "She thinks she did too much yesterday with Lance, and she is paying for it today. Lenore thinks Lance is a super kid and full of energy. Everything is exciting to him at this point. He asks a million questions and is quick to pick up on everything that's said.

"She thought we were smart, but she said this fourteen year old kid makes her feel mentally challenged. He told her last night that he no longer perceived his life in yesterday's values. Now he has to observe everything from the perspective of a young man of wealthy parents. He had to think in terms of how he could make his money grow, and think of creative ways to invest our money. Lenore told me that he sounded like one of those motivational types on TV. Lance told her there was nothing wrong with their concept. All it took was ambition, drive and hard work to make it happen. He felt he had all three of those qualities and after he received formal education in college, he planned to prove his worth.

"Lenore told me that Lance went on to instruct her on the super rich people out there today. Creative people should be willing to take a chance on developing new products and services. That's what the majority of people want and need. He pointed to achievers such as Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Donald Trump, and J. Paul Getty. In any event, his goal is to find products and services that he can develop in the future.

"She said she sat there fascinated as he told her that he would budget an hour of every day to study and learn to prepare himself for his future role running the family business. How his father and his uncle were counting on him to be ready to be the first of the new generation to take over and manage the family business, and he had to be prepared to meet that challenge."

"What she saw was a young man who was dead serious about his future and a young man who has it all together. He knows he has only ten short years to prepare himself for his future. There is no doubt in her mind, certainly none in his, that he's going to accomplish exactly what he said. Lenore went on to say that Lance is the most fascinating young man she has met in a long time. He wanted her to know his thinking because she's his mother now and he would appreciate her support. He said she is an intelligent woman and he respected her moxie and creative talents. He looked at his watch and thanked her for all her help, kissed her on the cheek and told her he would like to stay and talk longer, but he had to be in his room in five minutes."

"Lenore said she was so shocked by his matter-of-fact manner that she forgot to say good night. Then it dawned on her what had happened. She remembered what she told him Sunday night, about getting eight hours of sleep every night. He had told her earlier that he was getting up every morning at four to write me. His studies began at five every morning. Lenore said that our son is a very unusual young man; he wants her to take him to court on his spring break to see how she handles a case before a jury. He would like to read her brief before hand, if that was possible."

"She said she was not prepared to cope with a boy genius like Lance. That they can give you a lot of grief if not handled right.

"I told Lenore what Lance thought of her and she repeated her initial comments," Mac said.

"She said he's a good judge of people, in spite of his talents. She said she has grown very fond of him."

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"Would you like to take Pete and Doug sailing tomorrow and invite them over for dinner instead of next week?"

"Sounds fine to me, we should have good sailing weather for the next few days," Drew said.

Mac was up at five, did his run along the beach and returned to bed to make love to Drew. They woke up again at seven, showered, and went out on the patio for breakfast.

"Did you receive a letter from Lance this morning?" Drew asked.

"I haven't had a chance to check my Email this morning." Mac walked into the other room and returned with his computer. Sure enough Lance sent another letter.

Dear Dad,

I had a two-hour session with Dr. Helmling. He said to tell you that I was a chip off the old block and asked that you call him when you return. You will need to schedule two sessions for me every week. I told him I couldn't leave the estate without your permission.

Mother is feeling much better and plans to visit her office today.

Uncle Drew's apartment is beautiful. Please tell him I approve of his taste in his private automobile, it shows that there is hope for him after all.

Christopher is super, and he was very cooperative and helpful in selecting my entire wardrobe, including shoes for every occasion. I want you or Uncle Drew to help me select my luggage. We visited Uncle Drew's tailor and he took all my measurements. We ordered the tuxedos and a few suits. I don't think it would be wise to purchase so many expensive suits as I will be growing out of them in six months. I told Chris to hold off placing the order until we discussed it.

I contacted the Director of the New York Symphony to inquire about a good piano teacher close to home. He suggested that we contact Juilliard. They told me that there were any number of teachers in the City, and I would need to commute to the City for lessons. The Julliard School recommended four qualified teachers.

I called the Director back and asked him to suggest the best person on the list, he suggested Russell Grant. I called Mr. Grant and explained that I was not allowed to leave the estate and asked if he would fly over to the Retreat for my lessons. I took a leaf from mother's book and told him that we would pay him for two extra hours for his travel time if he agreed to fly over twice a week. Now I have a piano teacher. Pat is checking him out.

Chris invited Pat and me to lunch at the Plaza and it was delightful. That was the first time I had lunch at such a famous Manhattan restaurant. It was quite a treat.

Uncle Drew's sister, Claudia King, called last night and spoke to me. I was quite surprised because Uncle Drew never mentioned his family.

We spoke for some time and I found her to be a very charming woman. She said that Mom had told her all about me and she would like to meet me. Aunt Claudia has invited me to spend the weekend with them. She told me about her family and that I would have a good time with her children. I told Aunt Claudia I would like that, but couldn't leave the estate without permission. I told her that if my Mother agreed, I would be delighted to spend the weekend.

Mom said it was okay, so it's all set. I'm to fly over Friday afternoon after school. Aunt Claudia didn't mind when I told her that I had to bring Pat McCormick with me as well.

She said she understood and that we could share one of the cottages. I'm to call her Aunt Claudia, and Mr. King, Uncle Charles; I thought that was so nice of her.

Please tell Uncle Drew he has a great sister.

I love and miss you both, hope to see you a week from Sunday, if you're home before eight o'clock.

Love, Lance

"That was nice of Claudia," Drew said. "I didn't tell her the true story about Lance; after all he is your son. I stuck pretty much to the cover story. My feeling is that Claudia will only get from Lance what he wants her to know."

"I'm so glad that Lance is spending time with the Kings, they are a nice family and can help Lance a lot," Mac said. "I agree with you about Lance, he's our son and will do what's right, my love."

The rest of the week went fast for them. They spent two days on the boat sailing around the Island and they felt rested.

Mac had answered all Lance's email letters and told him he didn't have to write while he was away for the weekend. He told Lance that they would be home Sunday afternoon and they could talk then.

Pound Ridge, New York

Lance and Pat arrived at the King's estate on schedule. Charles had a landing pad installed on the estate around the same time as Noel Erickson had his installed.

The butler greeted Lance and led him into the family room. Claudia walked over and introduced him to her family.

"Your estate is absolutely charming. I never realized places like this existed before I was adopted. Uncle Drew's estate is majestic, but this setting is softer and more appealing to the eye."

"I would be happy to give you a tour if you like, we won't be eating for a few hours, and anyway, I'm curious about you and want to get to know you better."

"Thank you, Aunt Claudia," Lance said. "You make me feel at home and I accept your offer. You and Uncle Drew are so alike in many ways; you are both gracious and genuinely kind people. What has my mother told you about me?"

Claudia repeated the basic story that Mac and Drew had decided to use as his cover story. "It must have been rough on you for the past three years," Claudia said.

"The best way to put it into your perspective would be for you to imagine losing all your children at once," Lance said. "A year later you lose your husband and your money. Then you are forced to live with your husband's brother, who makes your life a living hell, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. I can recount my story a million times, and decent people like you will sympathize with me and feel badly, but you can never experience the mental torture, or the fear, or the injustice I went through living with my uncle for the last two years. The love and the good times I remembered while living with my parents are only a faint dream to me now," Lance said.

"I will always hate my uncle for stealing my childhood and depriving me of the luxury to mourn the death of my parents. I will never forget, to my dying day, what my new father has done for me. To me, he will always be my savior. You don't have to be confined in a dark dungeon to be in prison, Aunt Claudia, your prison can be what others create for you. My uncle taught me a lesson: never be naive in thinking that there is not some demon out there ready to put you in their prison. I've lost three years of my life, but I have gained ten years of experience in human nature. Now every minute is valuable to me. I have so much more to learn and so little time to accomplish what I must do."

"You sound so mature, Lance," Claudia said. "But you must enjoy your youth as well; it cannot be all work and no play."

Lance smiled, "Why Aunt Claudia? Do you think I won't mature if I spend my time working and studying? Unfortunately, that's a fallacy that has not been proven. If I'm not allowed to work hard and study, I will become frustrated. I want to learn and grow to my full potential. My parents are not pressuring me to do anything that is against my will; in fact, they are genuinely concerned about my health and well-being. They have done everything that is right and proper."

"These demands are ones I have put on myself, and my parents have helped me to structure my time to accomplish my goals within reason," Lance said. "Don't misunderstand me; I fully intend to engage in worthwhile free time, such as the arts, sports and interesting social events. I cannot allow myself to ignore my education in the social graces. Anything other than that is a waste of valuable time. My father and my uncle have had me put through exhaustive tests to determine my mental and physical capabilities. I plan to continue with these tests. My father and I have agreed to work out a sensible accelerated program to develop my mental ability. They will carefully watch over me for any signs of mental and physical distress. God has given me a second chance. I have a wonderful family and a beautiful home, with an exciting future ahead of me. I don't plan to waste it, or disappoint my family."

"You are welcome to say anything you wish to my father or Uncle Drew, because I have no secrets from them. I must ask you to keep our conversation between us. You see, I don't share the common belief that a woman cannot keep a secret. Our friendship can be built on mutual trust, and I feel you will become a friend. I want to feel that I can confide in you."

Claudia smiled, "My, you are very serious for a young man. Do you think I would run around and gossip?"

"I certainly hope not," Lance said. "It would not make any sense to me to break a promise. Life is serious, Aunt Claudia. True, I'm only fourteen years old, but I can assure you I take life very seriously, and I would feel disappointed if other people knew what I've told you. My father told me that I could trust you, or I would not have spoken so openly with you."

"I'm sorry if I gave you the wrong impression, Lance," Claudia said. "Of course, I will not repeat anything you have told me in confidence. I do think you should try to lighten up a little."

"I appreciate your concern," Lance said. "Perhaps when I feel more comfortable living in a sane environment again, I will take your advice and make an effort to lighten up."

Claudia said, "I hope you will make this your home away from home and visit us often."

"I think you'd better reserve your decision on that Aunt Claudia, until the weekend is over. I could turn out to be a disaster as a guest. I appreciate the offer, and if this weekend works, I will be happy to return, if we can work it into the schedule. May I use your swimming pool while I'm here? I'm in training for a meet coming up in a few months and I need to exercise every day."

"Of course you may. I will have Brian show you around. Maybe Brian will work out with you as well, since he's in training also. He's supposed to be working out for county championships next month."

Claudia showed him most of the buildings and ended up at the cottage he would be rooming in. Claudia said, "The dress code is casual for the weekend, just come on over as soon as you're ready."

"I don't want to neglect my security man, Pat McCormick, what do you suggest?"

"If he doesn't feel out of place, he's welcome to join us for dinner."

"Thank you, Aunt Claudia," Lance said. "Pat is a gentleman and a fine young man; I know you'll like him."

Lance walked into the villa. "As soon as we're changed we will join the family for dinner. The dress is casual. Aunt Claudia hopes you won't feel uncomfortable around them."

Pat said, "Thank you for thinking about me ,Lance."

"Why don't you check with Uncle Charles about his security team?" Lance said. "Dad said the place is well protected. I want to put in at least an hour's swimming tomorrow morning, so see if they have security posted. There is no reason for you to get up at five if they have people on staff."

"I appreciate your concern, Lance," Pat said. "But you're my job and I don't want to lose this assignment. So if you don't mind, I'll stick with you."

Lance showered and was ready in less than thirty minutes. He had the exact same outfit that Mac wore, including the crest on the pocket.

The family was in the drawing room when they arrived. Lance introduced Pat to the family and walked over to Charles and said, "Uncle Charles, would you have a few minutes later to chat with Pat about your security detail?" Lance explained his desire to use the indoor pool in the morning.

"No problem, I'll be happy to," Charles said. "You're as bad as your father getting up at five in the morning."

Lance smiled, "That's because we need the extra time to keep up with smart people like you, Uncle Charles," Lance said. "My dad said you were a very smart attorney, and I should listen and learn from you. How do you rate my mother?"

Charles said, "You must have your own opinion about her," Charles said. "Or you wouldn't have asked. How do you rate your mother?"

"She's super as a mom, but I'm not qualified to rate her as a lawyer," Lance said. "According to her conviction record, I think she's first rate. As a person, I feel she has a focused mind when it comes to her cases. She is creative and a shrewd judge of people. I know she can be tough and relentless. I would not like to cross her. I think she's fair with her colleagues and respects a worthy opponent. She cannot suffer fools, and I admire her as a person. I could not have picked a better mother."

"Lance, my boy, I couldn't have done a better job of describing your mother," Charles said. "She is one smart lady."

Brian walked over to Lance, "Mother told me you wanted to work out in our pool tomorrow morning. Would you like some company?"

"That would be super," Lance said. "Your mother said you've won quite a few trophies, maybe you can give me some pointers."

Brian said, "I'll knock on your door at six and show you the way to the pool."

Lance said, "I appreciate that Brian."

The butler announced that dinner was served. They all went into the dining room and had a very pleasant dinner. Claudia was the perfect host and made sure everyone contributed to the conversation. After dinner, Lance and Pat headed for their villa. It was almost eight o'clock and Lance had a tiring day. He was in bed and asleep by nine o'clock."

The next morning Lance was up by five and had sent a letter off to his dad anyway.

Dear Dad,

Aunt Claudia is a beautiful woman, and has a wonderful family.

I'm waiting for Brian to drop by to take me to the swimming pool for a work-out. The reason I'm writing today is that I have decided to study International Law and wanted to know if this was a good choice for me. I believe that the future of MacDonald-Stevens will be heavily oriented to the overseas market. Uncle Charles told me to speak to you about it because you were the best lawyer around.

I'm very proud to have you for my father. You will never realize how happy I was last night to be a guest in this beautiful home and enjoy the company of this charming family. I hear Brian knocking at the door, see you tomorrow. I love you dad, please save some for Uncle Drew.

Your loving son, Lance

They took off for the sports building. "There's orange juice and hot beverages in the recreation area," Brian said. "Or you can go up to the Manor house and eat in the kitchen, Pat. Saturday and Sunday are always buffet style in the dining room. We'll work out for at least two hours."

Lance headed to the locker room and stripped for the shower. "What happened to you, Lance?" Brian asked. Your back and legs are scarred?"

"They will fade in a short time," Lance said. "My uncle was a child abuser and he used to beat me when he was drunk. The last time he was angry and really did a job on me. Usually he used a paddle on my butt where it doesn't show, but the pain was always the same."

"Thank God Uncle Mac got you out of there," Brian said. "You're a lucky guy, Lance, Uncle Mac is a great guy and Uncle Drew is a prince. Well, let's get the workout over." They completed their practice session and headed to the manor for breakfast.

"Your form is good, Lance," Brian said. "You're going to need more practice. If you can put in at least two hours a day you will notice the improvement. You have to push yourself more. I also think you need a better coach. Why don't you talk to Uncle Mac about it? He'll make sure you get the proper training."

"I will, and you've been a great help," Lance said. "I appreciate it."

"Would you like to go horseback riding after lunch?" Brian asked. "I would like to show you some of the countryside. We can pack our lunch and take off after we get permission from the folks. I just hope my sisters don't want to tag along. Anne is good sport, but Bette gets bored too easy."

"I've only been checked out on ponies," Lance said. "Horses are a new experience for me, I give you fair warning. I think you are too hard on Anne, Brian. She's a charming girl, just like your mom. I bet she will grow up to be just as beautiful as your mother, when she loses those braces."

"Alright, Lance, I can take a hint," Brian said. "I'll ask Anne to join us if she's free, okay?"

"That would be nice of you, Brian."

Brian talked to his mother and she thought it was a good idea. Anne was delighted to join them for the day.

"Brian I hope you don't object to Pat tagging along," Lance said. "We have our orders from Dad."

"I don't mind at all, I like Pat," Brian said. "He has some interesting stories about the secret service. As soon as you change we can leave."

Mac called at lunchtime to talk to Lance.

"I'm afraid you missed him," Claudia said. "He went horseback riding with Brian and Anne this morning and I don't expect them back until this afternoon sometime. I love your son, he's such a sweetheart. Why do I feel I'm talking to his father all the time? God, Mac, he's old beyond his years. He's a no-nonsense young man and can teach my older two a lot. He and Brian hit it off instantly. Finally, Brian has met someone close to his own age that has a head on his shoulders. Mac, we had a long talk yesterday and I had to force myself not to cry when he told me about his life. Brian was shocked when he saw the welts and bruises on Lance this morning. Brian has never been exposed to anyone that has been abused like that. He couldn't get over how nonchalant Lance was about his beatings. What kind of brute was this uncle anyway?"

"The worst possible kind, Claudia," Mac said. "He has not told you the whole story, Claudia; I want you to know the real truth." Mac went on to explain the real story of Lance's background and after he finished he said, "Please never repeat that to anyone but Charles."

"Oh my God, how horrible," Claudia said. "That's what he meant by your being his savior. Now I understand. That poor kid! He never told me that part of his life, he only said the Uncle got drunk and beat him. He made me promise not to tell anyone else. I guess we don't realize how lucky we are until we hear a story like that."

"I want to read you a paragraph he wrote me last night about you and your family." Mac read the paragraph and said, "I thought I'd share that with you."

"You found yourself a treasure in that boy, Mac," Claudia said. "Thank God you found him in time. I feel so saddened by his story. It will take me some time to recover from this. I don't have to tell you that you, Lenore, and Drew are his world now. I'm sure the three of you will give him the stability he needs and wants."

"You're right," Mac said. "He follows me around like a shadow. If I'm not around he follows Drew. I have the feeling he wants to be sure we aren't going to desert him. That will change in time after he realizes we aren't going abandon him."

"I don't think so, Mac, there's a very strong bond between you and Lance. It's stronger than you realize. I doubt he will change. The resemblance between you is extraordinary also. Who knows? Maybe your cover story is true."

"Drew said the same thing," Mac said. "I plan to check it out next week when we visit my mother. Well beautiful, I have taken enough of your time. Will you kindly inform my son I will try to reach him at eight o'clock this evening? I know where he will be then, for sure. He is a great kid when it comes to following instructions. You know he must be in bed by eight and asleep by nine every night, don't you?"

"Ah, that explains it then," Claudia said. "He and Pat were out of here by ten minutes of eight last night. I like your Pat McCormick, he watches over Lance like a mother hen. I think he would kill anyone that touched Lance."

"Yes, I know he would," Mac said. "He's the security man who was hidden in the closet and watched him beaten and raped. He had to watch the whole thing and couldn't interfere. I thought he would never snap out of it. He insisted on being Lance's bodyguard, because of the guilt trip. I tried to talk to him, but to no avail. Lance turned him around. When Lance learned how Pat felt, he went to him and had a long talk with Pat. Since that time, Pat snapped out of it and has been fine ever since."

"I'll tell Lance to expect your call at eight. I would like to invite the four of you for dinner if Lenore feels up to traveling. Let me know, maybe we can have the Erickson's at the same time since the kids get along so well. Please try to make it soon. Goodbye for now."

The children returned at five o'clock from their day in the country. They changed and dressed for dinner.

Claudia asked Lance how he liked his day in the country.

Lance said, "It was wonderful, I never knew that so many wealthy people were concentrated in one small area. It's obvious that this area is way above your average-income neighborhood, it was really an experience."

Claudia smiled, "You forget that your father is a wealthy man, Lance," Claudia said. "Which reminds me, your father called at lunch time and said he would call you around eight o'clock."

After dinner, they discussed their plans for Sunday. Brian said they'd be up early for another swim practice and then off to ten o'clock church service. Lance said he would like to join him for church, providing he prompted him on the proper thing to do. He and Pat said good night at seven-thirty and headed for their cottage.

"I'm going to get ready for bed, Pat, please wake me when my father calls. I'm beat from all the exercise and fresh air, I may fall asleep before he calls. I hope you had a good time. It must be boring for you to have to tag along with a bunch of teenagers."

"Not really," Pat said. "I'm working all the time. I don't have time to get bored. Anyway, you guys are bright for your age."

Lance was reading when the telephone rang. Lance said, "Hi Dad. It's good to hear your voice again." He told him about their day and about Brian's comments about the swimming coach and the great time he was having.

"I'm glad you're enjoying yourself," Mac said. "I called to congratulate you on making your career choice so soon. I think you have the brains to become a fine lawyer. Your letters have been very informative. We plan to arrive home tomorrow afternoon around two. I don't want to keep you up, but your Aunt Claudia said you are a delightful guest. She would like you to visit often. I love you, son, and we'll see you tomorrow."

"I love you too, Dad, thanks for calling."

The next day raced by. Lance said his goodbyes to the Kings and promised to return. The helicopter, that Pat ordered, was on the pad and they didn't waste any time in taking off.

When they arrived at the Retreat, Lance went to his bedroom to finish his book report on J. Paul Getty. He ran through his verbs in Spanish and was into his second hour of German when Mac walked into the room.

Lance's face lit up when he saw Mac, and he jumped up and threw his arms around him. "You look great. It's great to have you home again."

"It's good to be back home again," Mac said. "You haven't grown at all since I last saw you."

Lance laughed, "You know that's funny. You would think that adults could be a little more creative," Lance said. "Did you and Uncle Drew have a good trip?"

"We had a great trip," Mac said. "We plan to take you along from now on, or at least for part of the trip. I don't want you to miss too much school. Have you learned enough Spanish for us to converse?"

Lance responded to him in Spanish, "I would like to go slow at first, and correct me if my pronunciation is wrong."

Mac answered also in Spanish, "While we are alone for the next week we will conduct all our conversations in Spanish. If you don't understand any word or phrase interrupt me. This is the only way you will become proficient. My father did that with me and I became very good. Uncle Drew only speaks French so it would be rude to keep him out of our conversations. If you are free, I would like you stay with me the rest of the day. I have to work in my office for an hour or so, and I also want to go over a few things with you. Why don't you find Uncle Drew, and say hello, then join me when you're free. Is that okay with you, Tiger?"

"Sounds like a winner." Lance stood up, kissed Mac on the cheek and left to find his uncle.

Mac shook his head and smiled as Lance took off. He thought to himself, 'I am a lucky father to have a son like you.'

Drew was in his study when Lance walked in and hugged him. "You look great, Uncle, it's good to have you back home. I had a great time at Aunt Claudia's this weekend. She is a wonderful woman and her family is great. Did you have a good time?"

Drew said, "Wonderful, thank you. So you think my old limo is tacky?"

Lance laughed, "I sure do. It's not you, Uncle. Now, the convertible is more your style."

Drew smiled, "The reason I decided against buying a Rolls limo was security considerations. My security people felt I would be less conspicuous in a Cadillac limousine," Drew said. "It had nothing to do with the cost of the automobile."

"Uncle, I think if someone wants to find a rich man like you, they will," Lance said. "They really don't care if you're in a Cadillac or a Rolls, so why not enjoy the best?"

Drew smiled, "You know, you're right," Drew said. "You want to come with me next week and help me pick out a new Rolls Royce limo?"

"Terrific! And thank you."

"Claudia thinks you're adorable," Drew said. "She and her family have extended an open invitation to you to visit as often as you can. Brian and Anne cannot stop talking about you, so you must be all right. They don't cultivate many people, so if you feel the same way, I suggest you talk to your father and work in some weekend visits."

"That was very thoughtful of Aunt Claudia," Lance said. "I've already written her a thank you note. I need to be around sophisticated young teenagers like Brian and Anne, as much as possible. I must learn from them if I'm to travel in your social circles. They've been schooled in the social graces from the time they could talk. It's apparent in everything they do. It will take me some time, but I'm a fast learner. In any event, I really like them."

Drew chuckled, "You are a fine young man, and we are blessed to have you in our family," Drew said. "Be careful of what you say to other people, your father and I understand you, but other people may feel threatened by your intelligence and knowledge. Be careful not to discuss your goals with your elders or your contemporaries. In other words, be cool, don't reveal your superior talents. Think about that and we'll discuss it when you are ready. I have no doubt you will achieve th,e goals you have set for yourself, but never let anyone know your plans, except your family. We know you will achieve your objectives, and that's all that counts. Furthermore, we will always support you and help you to achieve those goals.

"You are so much like your father," Drew said. "If you run true to form, you will turn out to be just like him. You are an intelligent young man, and I want to see you grow into a great man. I am pleased you have chosen your career path already. Now you can start to prepare for that eventuality."

"It has been two weeks, today, since you welcomed me into your home, yet I feel I've been here all my life," Lance said. "These two weeks have been so crammed with activities, that I haven't had time to think about the past. I'm grateful for everything you and Dad have done for me," Lance said. "I can never thank you for what you have done. There's just no way I can repay you for saving my life. I can only do my best to make you proud of me by making the best of the life you have given me."

Drew said, "Thank you, Lance."

Lance left and headed over to his father's office building where he found Mac typing at his computer. "What's up, Tiger? Did you and your uncle solve the problems of the world this afternoon?" Mac asked.

"We made a very good start," Lance said. "Uncle Drew invited me to help him pick out his new Rolls limousine next week. Wasn't that nice of him?"

"Your uncle is like that," Mac said. "I've hired a first class swimming coach for you and he will be here tomorrow after school to begin your training. His name is Blake Adams."

"Now for the heavy stuff. I have your medical reports and the doctor's recommendations. Dr. Helmling wants to start working with you ASAP. You have exceptional abilities and he wants to start you while your brainpower is still developing. The reports from the diagnostic clinic are all positive. Your IQ is in the genius category, with high marks on all the areas they use to judge your mental abilities. You're analytical, and your people skills ranked above average. The doctors feel you have the mental capacity and reasoning skills of a man of twenty-four. They also feel that you have some emotional problems that must be treated. The doctors suggest that you attend a special school that will enrich your learning process. They feel that the present school system is not capable of meeting your needs. In addition, they want me to contact Yale to see if they can develop a special accredited program that would allow you to begin your law studies. What do you think of their report and their recommendation?"

"I am pleasantly surprised that I have this ability, and I would like to work with Doctor Helmling. I agree with our earlier discussion about striking a balance between my brain and physical development, yet still develop my mental abilities to their full potential. I feel that we can work out a program that will accomplish that goal. I want to continue to study the piano, and remain active in sports. I think I will have to attend a private school if the local school cannot further my education. I would hate to be singled out as the resident genius. I need the flexibility to study at an accelerated pace. However, on the other hand, I met a few great guys at school and I'm disappointed that I have to say goodbye so soon.

"It looks like I will be spending a lot of time in Manhattan, Dad, maybe even living in the penthouse during the week. I hope you and Uncle Drew will be in town to visit me."

Mac laid the doctor's report down and looked directly at Lance as he spoke, "Look, son, you have somehow missed a very important issue here, and it's my fault. I do not intend to allow you to live any place but here. This is your home. Unless you are visiting family or friends, this is where you live. You are part of this family now, and I want you home every afternoon," Mac said. "It may sound hard-nosed to you now, but I want you to have a normal family life and interact with your brothers and sister. You will still have time to do all your other things, but you are a teenager, and you need your space, and time for dreaming and enjoying your life. I'm your father and I'm going to do what I think is best for you. Anyway, I enjoy having you around and I plan to watch you grow into a young man. I plan to do the things fathers do with their sons. I don't want these wonderful years to slip by because we have never taken the time to know one another.

"If you think I'm being selfish, you should tell me and we'll talk about it, but that's how I feel Lance. Please try to understand. I don't think you will be moving to that new school so fast. These things take time, so you will still be able to cultivate your friends."

Lance said, "Since the night you brought me home to this new life I have been thinking of ways I could be better, so that you would allow me to stay here in this home with you and my family. Do you really think I would want to give up my suite and live alone in Manhattan?"

The tears were running down his cheeks now, and his voice was beginning to break. He stopped for a minute and cleared his throat. "I love you and I want to be your son. I like the idea of coming home every afternoon and being part of the everyday life of this family. This is all I ever wanted, but I realize that I must also continue my studies, meet other people my own age, and expand my knowledge at a faster pace than our normal institutions. However, I feel that can be accomplished here without wasting the hours commuting into Manhattan. If you can afford to do that, then I wish to remain at the Retreat, and only leave for social occasions and the normal trips to the city. I want to live a normal life again with an honest to goodness family."

"I'm glad you feel that way, Lance."

"Yes, sir, that's all I want."

"Good. I don't like the idea of you running around Manhattan anyway, I was only thinking of what was best for you," Mac said. "It's a nice place to visit and all, but that's it. We country boys have got to stick together."

"You dry your eyes and don't worry about a thing. I will take care of everything," Mac said. "We'll change the whole program around until we have it fine-tuned to the way you like it."

"What time tomorrow do we meet with Grandmother?"

Mac said, "Tomorrow, after lunch."

"Mom wants me to meet her side of the family sometime soon. Is that going to be a day trip or a weekender?"

Mac chuckled, "A day trip. Lenore thinks you are super and she wants to show you off. I can't blame her either. I think you are wonderful and I am happy to have you, no matter what you think."

Lance smiled, "I know it may sound juvenile, but I feel much safer when I'm around you and Uncle Drew. It's not the same when you're not here."

"You are a treasure, Lance, and always remember you don't have to prove yourself to me or anyone else, just be yourself and everything will work out just fine. I will always cherish you because you are a very special person, and you are my son."

Mac had learned that Lance was the last surviving member of the Macintosh clan. Mrs. MacDonald, Mac's mother, verified that Lance was her nephew and Mac's second cousin. Mac's mother recognized her sister's photograph in the Smyth family photograph album.

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To be continued
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