Robert and Eric talked some more before going to bed. Robert wanted to make sure Eric truly understood what Mr. Ken wanted all the boys to do when they had the opportunity to invite one friend over for the night.
The twins also talked before going to bed. They compared notes as to what Grammy talked to them about. Kevin really wanted to know if his twin brother said anything about their parents and the trouble they were in. Kyle assured Kevin he only told the older woman about how they were sent to live with Mr. Ken, the Labor Day Picnic and how much better it was living with Mr. Ken.
Charles, Matthew and Chief shared a bedroom. The boys were tired from the ride and their swimming. But, Matthew wanted to talk some, so Charles stayed up for his little 'brother'. Matthew wanted to know what Grammy and he talked about. The youngest Cover was a little scared about talking to the older woman and he wanted to be prepared for when she finally asked to talk to him.
"Matthew," started Charles, "Grammy just wants to know where you came from and why you're living with Mr. Ken. That's all. Don't overthink this. At least no one tried to kidnap you and you're not involved with drugs, so just tell her how Mr. Ken and Mr. Dan found you and what Lincoln did to you. You'll be fine. Just be yourself."
"That's easy for you to say. You've already talked to her," lamented Matthew.
"You've talked to Dr. Doug, haven't you? It will be just like that. As I said, don't overthink this Matthew. She isn't going to bite you or hit you. If anything, she'll probably hug you for the shit you've gone through," counseled Charles.
Matthew smiled at hearing Charles say 'shit'. "Yea, you're probably right. It's just ... well, I don't know. I guess ... I guess I'm afraid that I'll say the wrong thing," said the yawning Cover youngster.
Charles and Matthew headed to the shared bathroom to drain their dragons before going to sleep. There they found Kevin and Kyle waiting for Robert and Eric to finish. The lads were used to their large, oversized bathroom, but for the next few days, the six Cover lads would have to share a bathroom that had only one toilet, one shower and one sink.
Lucky for the boys they only had to drain their dragons. If someone had to offload some excess weight it would have taken all of them much longer. As they walked back to their bedrooms, they talked about what they would do in the morning to get cleaned up. Robert told his 'brothers' he'd talk to Collin in the morning.
Mr. Ken woke up as he usually did between 8 and 8:15 in the morning when the boys didn't have to go to school. He dressed in his typical morning garb of running shorts and t-shirt, and went looking for his first cup of coffee. When he arrived in the kitchen he saw an old friend.
"Uncle Andy," called out Mr. Ken, as he went over to the Wilkinson family lawyer and gave him a big hug. "I thought you would be here last night to meet all my new 'sons'," added Mr. Ken.
"Ken, how many times have I've told you to call me Andy," chuckled Andrew Marshall. "But the reason I stayed away is I figured with so many new faces for Victoria to meet she didn't need one more body around to cause more confusion for her and your boys. When will I get to meet them?"
"Well, it's a non-school day for the boys, so ... I figured they'll be down between 9 and 10," replied Ken Thomas.
Just then Mr. Wayne came into the kitchen. "Andy, I want you to meet my Estate Master, Wayne Mitchell. Wayne will fill in for me when I have to be gone. He's presently attending Foster Parent classes and will soon be a licensed foster parent," said Mr. Ken, to introduce his new employee to Andrew Marshall.
"Wayne, I want you to meet Collin's Uncle Andy, Andrew Marshall. Andy was James Wilkinson's private lawyer and he was a tremendous help to me while Collin lived with me.
"Yes, he didn't stop Miss Vickey from taking Collin away," laughed Ken Thomas, "but he was instrumental in identifying the men who perpetrated the murder of James and Charlotte and the attempted takeover of Wilkinson Enterprises."
"I didn't know that, dad," spoke up Robert, as he and Eric walked into the kitchen.
"Son, there were a whole bunch of things that happened while Collin lived with me at The Cove, son. Since he was there about eleven months, there were many things Collin was involved in and around The Cove and school. So, please don't ask me to tell you everything that happened during those eleven months," smiled dad Ken.
"What happened during what eleven months?" asked Matthew, as he, Chief and Charles came into the kitchen.
"You had to have been there, young man," teased Andrew Marshall.
"Andy, let me introduce you to two of my foster sons. The boy with the question is ten-year-old Matthew Turnsten. He arrived at The Cove about twelve days ago. The other lad is Charles Lewis. He's twelve and came to live with me and my growing brood of foster boys back at the 4th of July," said Mr. Ken.
"Boys, this is Collin's Uncle Andy, Andrew Marshall," said Mr. Ken. "I mentioned Uncle Andy to you before we came down here.
"Now let me ask, why are you all down here so early? I figured you'd all sleep in until at least 9 but more like 10," teased 'dad' Ken.
"Dad, its past 9 already," said Robert.
Just then Kevin and Kyle came into the kitchen. That caused the introductions to start all over again. But before long, the chef came into the kitchen and told everyone breakfast would be served in the dining room and asked everyone to assemble there. When they arrived, Grammy was already seated at the head of the table and Collin arrived as their guests did.
"Everyone, if you will, give your breakfast order to the chef, he will prepare it for you. If you know what you want there is practically nothing he can't cook up," spoke up Grammy.
The chef started with Grammy, then went to Collin and then the adults. The kids were asked last for their breakfast order and they were not happy. Back at The Cove Momma Maria would have taken care of them first and cooked the same stuff for the adults, with maybe some variation, or she would have prepared what she intended and everyone ate the same.
Collin saw the looks in his 'brothers' faces and knew what those looks told him. He didn't want to cause a scene in front of Grammy, so he kept quiet. It took the chef about twelve minutes to cook everyone's order and the three servants brought it all in at one time. Of course, Grammy and Collin were served first and as Collin was served he whispered to the servant to serve the boys next.
The woman didn't say anything about being 'told' to serve the children next, but she didn't have to. Her actions and facial contortions told Collin all he needed to know. He made a mental note to talk to that particular servant after breakfast was over.
The woman who was told to serve the boys next went to the other servants and told them what Collin told her. The other servants didn't show any trepidation to the request. The leader told the other two he would serve the adults while they served the boys. That's' what they did. Everyone was served within five minutes of the covered meals being brought into the dining room.
Grammy didn't miss that something was wrong right after Collin talked to one of the servants. The matriarch knew that wasn't the time nor place to talk to her grandson, so she made her own mental note to talk to Collin and then the servants.
There were loads of banter at the breakfast table. The boys thanked Grammy for inviting them and said how much they loved the Estate. Grammy told them she'd visited Three Finger Cove on many occasions and felt there was no comparison.
The boys were taken aback at the comment until Miss Vickey told them their home was a lot better for them to grow up in than the Wilkinson Estate, which was built over 60 years ago by her husband. The Wilkinson matriarch told the boys the home was built in an era when the adults were considered more important that the children. She told them poor Collin didn't have any of the better things they had to play with. That made the boys all smile.
When breakfast was over, Robert went to Collin and asked him if some of his 'brothers' could use his large bathroom since there were six of them and that there was only one bathroom for them to get cleaned up in. Collin told Robert that he and Eric could use it right after he got ready.
Grammy waited for the three boys to finish talking when she called Colley over to her. Robert and Eric knew they should disappear and they did. They caught up with their 'brothers' and told them they could use Collin's bathroom after he got cleaned up. Robert then suggested to the other four to get their showers and dressed into nice school clothes to wear for Thanksgiving Dinner.
In the quiet of the dining room, Grammy and Collin had some strong words with one another. She wanted to know what he said to the woman and he told her. He also told her the woman went into a snit because of what he said. Collin told his grandmother that he felt their guests should be treated much better than they had been last night and that morning and intended to tell the servants.
Grammy wanted to be treated as if she was back in her day and told her grandson. But Colley reminded her what she just told their guests about his growing up in an adult world and not having the things their guests had. Collin continued and reminded his Grammy of what she told him last night about living in the past and not accepting the new norms of the day.
Miss Vickey wanted to argue with her grandson, and a year ago she would have stood her ground. But, she knew everything Colley told her was accurate down to her not accepting the new norms of the day. She knew time had moved on and it was hard for her to accept things were done much differently now a day.
Victoria Susannah Frankenberg Wilkinson, aka Grammy, asked Collin to forgive an old woman who'd had her way for way too long. She told her Colley to take care of what he thought necessary, for the servants to take better care in attending to their guests.
After Mr. Ken finished getting ready for the day, he walked down the hallway to the front stairs and found Charles and Matthew waiting to use the bathroom. He told them to follow him and he led them to his en suite. He showed them his bathroom and told them to use it to get cleaned up. The two boys thanked their 'dad' and hugged him for letting them to use his bathroom. After 'dad' Ken walked out, the two Cover lads entered into the shower together.
With six boys and three adult guests getting ready for the day it was close to 11:30 before everyone was downstairs and meeting in the formal living room. Grammy told everyone that she planned the Thanksgiving Dinner to be served at 2 PM and if they were hungry to just ask for a snack, so they don't ruin their appetite.
As Grammy was talking, Robert's cell phone rang. The teen knew not to disturb people by talking on the phone so he, accompanied by his Best Friend Eric, walked out of the room to answer it. About 30 seconds later, the Cover teenager came rushing back into the room and told his dad he needed to talk to him. Dad Ken told his newly adopted son that it could wait unless the house was on fire. The adults nearby heard what was said and sort of giggled.
Robert cooled his heels for a minute or two, but then got his dad's attention once again and told his dad it was very important he talked to him. Mr. Ken smiled at his son and excused himself from the group and he and Robert, followed by Eric, walked out of the living room.
"Son, what's so important that you pull me away from our host and our friends?" asked a slightly irritated dad Ken.
"Dad, that phone call ... it was from Brad. He told me his brother Brant heard something that might involve Matthew," started the teen.
"Now, what could Brant possibly hear that might involve our Matthew? He's been with us ever since the weekend. Now, let me get back to the others," an exasperated Mr. Ken told his son and friend, Eric.
"But, dad ... Brad told me ... he told me Brant heard something on the TV about a man named Lincoln. Brad said his brother said something about hearing that name and said it had to do with Matthew. Wasn't his mom's boyfriend named Lincoln?" replied Robert.
Mr. Ken stood there for a few minutes, thinking about what Robert just told him. Then, he got out his cell phone and made a call.
In the living room, Grammy finally got around to asking Matthew to come along with her, so they could talk. The two walked, with Chief following along, to the parlor where Grammy talked to the other three lads. Matthew still wasn't sure about what she would ask him, so he was a bit apprehensive about their talk.
"Matthew, please sit down ... so we can talk. It is difficult for an old woman to have to look up when she talks to another person," asked Grammy of Matthew,
"Matthew ... when I talked to the other boys, we talked about what brought them to be living with Mr. Ken. We also talked about what Mr. Ken has done for them ever since they began living with him. I know Robert was just adopted by Mr. Ken and Charles ... well, I probably shouldn't say what he told me," began Miss Vickey.
"Yea, Charles hopes that Mr. Ken will adopt him, too," spoke up Matthew.
"Yes, he does. Now ... what about you? Can you tell me what brought you to be living with Mr. Ken and ...and how he's made it better for you?" asked Grammy.
Matthew sat there thinking about what he wanted to say. Then, he decided to do what Charles told him last night and just tell her how Mr. Ken and Mr. Dan found him, and about Lincoln.
"Grammy ... well, my mom ... ahh, she and her boyfriend, a man named Lincoln ... they dropped me off at this miniature golf place and told me to sit on a bench and NOT to leave and ... and they'd be back for me, soon. That was at nine o'clock in the morning.
"The day went on and they never came back for me. It was after dinnertime that Mr. Ken and Mr. Dan and my 'brothers' came ..." got out the boy before Grammy stopped him with a question.
"You're brothers? Why were they with Mr. Ken and you weren't with them?" directly asked the Wilkinson matriarch.
"No, not my real brothers, I don't have any real brothers or sisters, but my Cover 'brothers', you know, Robert, Charles, Kevin and Kyle," replied Matthew.
"Oh, ok, now I understand. It's like what Collin calls Robert and Charles, his 'brothers' since he never had any real brothers either. Continue young man," said Grammy.
Matthew continued and told her what happened after he spilled the soda and they took him to the hospital because of what Lincoln did to his back. As he talked he petted Chief and scratched her behind her ears. It helped him remain calm as he talked about himself.
The youngest Cover told her how Kyle became his best friend and all of them watching his mom and Lincoln being arrested. Matthew explained how Mr. Ken then came to visit him and then Ms. Judy asking his 'dad', Mr. Ken, to foster him.
"So, Mr. Ken is... is he dad to you. too?" chuckled Miss Vickey.
"Well, he isn't my real dad, but ... well, Robert and Charles always call him 'dad' and ... and it is much easier to call him that than Mr. Ken all the time. Even Kyle calls him 'dad' most of the time, but Kevin ... he doesn't like his twin to do that. But ... the funny thing is Kevin ... he also calls Mr. Ken 'dad' at times, too. I guess it is kinda catchy after you hear everybody else calling him 'dad'.
"Anyway, Mr. Ken had some boys meet me the day before I started school and they became my friends. Mr. Ken also had this huge sleepover for about 40 boys and he did a Dive-In movie and he let me pick the one we watched and what pool wall we used.
"Grammy ... Mr. Ken ... he has done everything he could to make me feel welcome and safe. He has Momma Maria make all our meals and ... well, she is like a grandmother to all of us, too," continued an enthused Matthew.
As Grammy and Matthew continued to talk, Mr. Ken was talking to Lieutenant Fischer. The owner of The Cove asked Dan what he knew about Lincoln and how it might affect Matthew. Dan told him that the man was just charged with five counts of armed robbery, three counts of aggravated robbery and one count of bank robbery.
Dan Fischer also told Mr. Ken the information got out to the news agency late last night and was the lead topic on the morning television news as the news cycle was low for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Dan also told his friend, Ken, that Lt. Matthias and Sgt. Roberts are going to want to talk to Matthew about Lincoln's whereabouts while the lad and his mom were living with the man.
Mr. Ken told Dan he wasn't going to ruin the lads Holiday to rush him back to The Cove to be interviewed. The Cove's owner told Dan he would have the boy available for Matthias and Roberts to talk to him on Sunday. Dan said with the Holiday he was sure Matthias and Roberts would appreciate the wait.
When the two men hung up, Robert and Eric asked Mr. Ken what it all meant. Mr. Ken asked the boys what they meant. Robert said he Googled Lincoln's name and found out what he and Mr. Dan were talking about. Dad Ken smiled at the resourcefulness of his son and told him that they thought Matthew could tell them Lincoln's whereabouts, or at least narrow down the days he was away from him and his mom.
Mr. Ken told the two teens not to discuss with any of their 'brothers', and especially Matthew, or anyone else what they were talking about. But, Robert asked, when his 'brothers' asked, what they were to tell them. Mr. Ken told them to say they heard about a school dance and asked if they could go. The three Covers had a good laugh.
Grammy and Matthew had a good talk. Matthew hadn't talked to a woman about anything for a long time, and he began enjoying talking to Grammy. As the lad got comfortable with the older woman, he opened up and over time it all came out.
Matthew told Grammy how his mom got rid of his dad long ago, back when he was very small. He explained how she would pick up a new boyfriend every few months and he never really knew his dad and that he hadn't seen him in years. The more the lad talked, the more he unwrapped his life to Grammy, the more he felt unloved and abandoned. The more he talked the more the tears flowed.
Grammy went over to the lad and hugged him as he cried. Chief knew those tears were the type of tears that her first master, Ken Thomas, would want to know about, so she went looking for him.
"Woof, woof, woof," called out Chief, all the while running back and forth indicating she wanted Mr. Ken to follow her.
Mr. Ken knew what Chief wanted, so he quickly followed her as she ran to the parlor. Robert and Eric followed close behind. When the man and teens arrived in the parlor, they found Grammy holding a crying Matthew. Grammy saw the man and let him take over.
"Matthew ... what has you all so upset, son?" asked Mr. Ken, as he held onto the boy and rubbed his back.
"Come on Matthew ... tell me what has you crying so much?" asked the man, as he continued to rub the lad's back.
"She ... she ...she didn't love me, 'dad'. My mom ... she ... she didn't love me!" cried out Matthew, as he hugged tightly to the man who fostered him.
By that time, the rest of the guests had followed behind and heard what Matthew had to say. Ms. Judy was particularly interested in what was happening, as she had meant to talk to all four foster lads while they were all together those few days. She waited and listened for what would happen next.
"Matthew, Matthew," said Mr. Ken, "these are the types of things you need to talk to Doctor Doug about. I'm glad you were able to start talking about this with Grammy, though. It is a beginning. But, it definitely is not an end. Come on, now ... wipe those eyes and let the two of us go to a quiet corner and talk," counseled 'dad' Ken
Mr. Ken and Matthew, along with Chief, walked outside and found a shaded spot and talked. Mr. Ken got Matthew to open up about what he and Grammy talked about and what made him cry. The lad told his foster dad that he'd never had the chance to talk to a woman who cared about him before. The youngster revealed the more he talked with Grammy the more he realized his mom didn't care about him, or loved him, but only about the men she picked up.
The lad leaked a few more tears, but before long Mr. Ken got the lad to understand he had to get that hurt out of him and the only way was to talk to someone trained to help him. Matthew agreed to talk to Doctor Doug and tell him everything that was going on with him.
Mr. Ken thanked the lad for making that decision and he reminded him that Doctor Doug would never tell him what he's told. Mr. Ken told his youngest to ask his 'brothers' if they ever felt Doctor Doug ever told something to him that only the doctor knew.
After a few more minutes of talking, the two stood up and hugged a long hug. Matthew thanked his foster dad for talking with him and making him feel he had someone who really cared about him. Matthew then scratched behind Chief's ears, and thanked her for getting his 'dad'. Chief gave the lad a few doggie kisses. The two joined their hosts and friends.
It was getting close to dinnertime, so Mr. Ken suggested to his boys they drain heir dragons and wash their hands afterwards. The whole group met just outside the formal dining room awaiting Grammy's call to the Thanksgiving Feast. Promptly at 2 PM, Grammy came to the dining room doors and invited everyone in.
When the lads walked into the dining room they found names on a place card at each seat, so they had to walk around to find where they would be seated. At the ends were Grammy and Collin with Mr. Ken, Kevin, Ms. Judy, Eric and Charles on Collin's right. On Grammy's right, were Matthew, Mr. Wayne, Robert, Uncle Andy and Kyle.
The next surprise for the boys was the place setting in front of them. They've only ever seen a salad fork, dinner fork, knife and spoon for them to use at dinner. Here they found a plethora of different forks, knives and spoons along with multiple glasses.
"I see from my grandson's 'brothers'' faces, they have never seen a place setting like this before. Let me explain it to you, if you would allow me to," spoke up Grammy.
"Starting from your left is the napkin, salad fork and then the dinner fork. In the middle of the place setting are the charger, or service plate, with the salad plate topped with a soup bowl. To the right of the service plate you find the dinner knife, a teaspoon and the soupspoon. To your front left is the butter dish and knife; in the middle the dessertspoon and cake fork and to your top right are the water glass and two wine glasses.
"Now, lady, gentlemen and boys, when you are at a formal dinner, such as this, and don't know which implement to use and when to use it, you watch the hostess and take your directions from her. If she uses the teaspoon to eat her soup you do it, too. That way you don't embarrass her any more than she already is by using the wrong utensil," laughed Grammy.
"Now, the first course is a soup. Today you have a choice of Roasted Pumpkin Soup or Manqué Choux Soup. The first one is self-explanatory, but the second one is made from charred sweet corn and paired spices along with the collected corn milk from when they cut the corn off the cob. I think the boys will like that one, but I would also ask them to try them both.
At the tinkle of the tiny bell, the servants brought in both soups. They served Grammy and Collin first and then they proceeded down both sides of the table. The servants also had additional soup bowls for those who wanted to try both. Everyone, but Grammy and Collin, tried both soups.
"Now, weren't they both an interesting start to our Thanksgiving Dinner. The second course is the appetizer. Boys, an appetizer is supposed to stimulate the appetite. Today it is Traditional Southern Deviled Eggs. There is nothing special about these, but don't eat too many so you don't spoil your turkey dinner.
The servants served two devil eggs on each plate and that was all everyone ate, so they wouldn't spoil their main course.
"Now, the third course is the salad. Today it is Green Tomatoes with Pistachio Relish. The salad is what it sounds like. Most people like both items, so combined makes for an interesting taste. Please try it and if you don't like it I promise I won't shoo you away from the table," laughed Grammy.
The boys laughed right along with the Wilkinson matriarch. When the salad was presented to them they all tasted it. Their first taste was just a little smidgen on their salad fork. That first taste was all they needed as they all, as well as the adults too, ate what was served them.
"Now, the main, or fourth course, is the turkey," chuckled Grammy Wilkinson. "Along with the turkey, we have two different dressings, potato and bread, creamed cucumbers, corn, cranberry sauce, green beans, and fresh rolls.
The tiny bell was rung once again and a very large golden brown 25-pound turkey was brought in on a rolling table. The servant brought it to Grammy, but she asked Mr. Ken to do the honors.
"Grammy, I thank you for the honor. But, I think it is time Collin learned how to cut the turkey for the serving platters for when he has his own family. If he needs directions, I will offer him my assistance," announced Mr. Ken Thomas.
Grammy had the servant roll the turkey down to Collin who immediately asked his Big Bro to come over and show him how to cut the huge cooked bird. Collin beamed as his Big Bro directed him how to cut the white meat off the breast and how to remove the legs and finally the wings.
As Collin cut the white meat and dark meat off the bird, he placed it on individual serving platters. When they were full the servants brought it around to everyone at the table for them to take what they wanted. In the meantime, everyone served themselves to the side dishes while the servants poured Red Zinfandel wine into the guest's glasses. The boys got about two fingers worth for just a taste, while the adults got a regular serving.
The meal was somewhat quiet until Grammy told everyone to lighten up and talk. With that said, everyone began talking about how good everything was and how they had never participated in such a wonderful meal.
With the dinner over, the servants cleared the dirty dishes.
"Now, for the fifth, or last, course," spoke up Grammy. "Today we have the ever-present Thanksgiving Dinner dessert, Pumpkin Pie topped with whipped cream. Or, if you prefer, there is apple pie, and, if that is not enough, our chef made a pumpkin roll with a cream cheese filling rolled in walnuts and pecans.
"Also, to wash your choice of dessert down, I decided to choose a light and sweet wine, Asti Spumante. I thought the younger set would appreciate this as it has lots of bubbles and is sweet enough to go along with whatever dessert they choose. Bon Appetite, everyone," explained Grammy, as she rang the tiny bell one more time.
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