A little later that afternoon, Mr. Ken was called to the Main Gate once again. Mr. Wayne said he'd go over and take care of it, but Mr. Ken stopped him and said that it was probably the special guest he personally invited and he had better be there.
When Mr. Ken arrived at the Main Gate there was a nervous man waiting outside the gate watching for him. Mr. Ken went outside and introduced himself.
"You must be Hudson Whitely. I'm Ken Thomas, the owner of this estate and the host of today's picnic. I am very glad you could make it. I know there is going to be one very happy teenager inside, when he sees you," offered Ken Thomas.
"Are you sure this is alright? I mean, if Allison ... if she hears of this, she will have a hissy. We don't have a very good history," offered Hudson Whitely.
"Hudson, you are my guest. And, I know James needs to see you. He's thirteen now and he misses his father. Maybe there is a way you can go to court and get custody of him. I know he would love that. His mom has been a real pain for him now that he's gone through puberty.
"She was even going to be in the room when Doctor Powers was going to give the boy his sports physical. His sports physical, mind you. When the boy would have to drop his shorts and bare his privates in front of her. I know because I was there when she told him as much.
"Doctor Rick also heard what she said. So, he suggested that I chaperone him and my foster son. Allison agreed and then later told everyone it was her idea that I do that and that a mother shouldn't have to embarrass her son like that. Come on. Let's get you registered and inside so you can see your son!" finished Ken Thomas.
While Hudson Whitely was being registered into the database, Mr. Ken called Charles. He asked his son to bring James over to the Main Gate. That he had a surprise for the teenager. Charles had no idea what the surprise was when James asked, but the two teens put up their skateboards and helmets and walked over to the Main Gate to meet up with Mr. Ken.
When the two teens arrived at the Main Gate, they saw Mr. Ken and another man were inside with the guards. James didn't recognize the man, as he wasn't expecting his dad to ever come to The Cove.
But, when the men came out of the guard shack, James saw it was his dad and ran at him as fast as he could. The teen cried and cried that his dad was there and he hugged him as hard as he could.
Mr. Ken and Charles stood back and watched as the two Whitely's stood there hugging one another. Soon, a few of Charles' other friends came over to the Main Gate wanting to know why he and James had to go over there. They saw that James was hugging a man and asked Charles what was going on. The Cover told them it was James' dad, and his dad had invited him.
Mr. Ken told the boys to go back to the picnic and to give James and his dad time to talk and catch up with one another. The boys did that, but they also let the cat out of the bag and let everyone know that James' dad had come to see him and they were talking.
All the boys were having a great time using the new Cove Skate Park. They were enjoying all the standard picnic foods Mr. Ken was providing and ate them as often as their stomachs could take. The Covers also saw the caterer was using their new grill and hoped that in doing so would get it seasoned in for them.
James introduced his dad to all his friends, as they walked over to the Pavilion to get something to eat. Along the way, James had told his dad about all the things Mr. Ken had done for him and all the friends of the Cover boys.
Hudson Whitely was amazed at hearing about the sleepovers, the water toys, WaveRunners, about the Commander and them saving three boys, the trips to the amusement parks and the latest thing, Mr. Ken paying so James could go to the Texas Boater Safety Course. James' dad would forever be grateful to his host for doing for his son what he was kept from doing.
Ryder, Jayden and Chase couldn't believe they were there at The Cove again, and this time they were getting to use the brand-new Cove Skate Park. They loved the ramps Mr. Ken had built for his 'boys', but this Skate Park was over-the-top awesome. They had nothing like that near them and they were taking full advantage of being there for the picnic. They were also happy they were spending the night and would get the opportunity to use it again tomorrow.
Matthew, his friend Bailey, and the rest of his male friends went over to skate with Chase. As they skated, Chase learned that Mr. Ken was going to have the old wooden ramps taken apart and would save the fasteners and better wood parts. Chase quickly went over to his brothers and told them.
Ryder, Jayden and Chase then rushed to tell Owen and Nathan what they heard and they asked them to ask Mr. Ken if he would give them the ramps. Of Course, Mr. Ken and Mr. Wayne were right there and heard the boy's request. The owner of The Cove told the boys he and their dads would talk about the ramps, and for them to go back to having fun.
Mr. Chris, Sandra and their kids came over to the small group of men to thank Mr. Ken for inviting them to such a wonderful picnic. Hailey and Chris, Jr. personally thanked their dad's boss for having them over and they told them how much they loved the new Cove Skate Park. They told him they hoped they would be invited back, and soon. All the adults laughed. Mr. Ken told them that he would talk to their dad to see when would be a good time for them to come back.
Mr. Ken watched as Jules and Eleanor talked most of the day, so he walked over to them and asked them how their day was going. Eleanor thanked him for the invitation, and giving her the opportunity to meet such a handsome and wonderful man. Jules blushed, but he smiled at what the woman said. Mr. Ken knew there was a story there, and figured he'd ask Jules later.
Eventually, all the parents walked over to look at the lockers their sons helped build a few weekends back. Their sons explained what they had to do and then showed them what their locker looked like inside. The boys who had special tasks to do during the 'build' embellished on that task and enjoyed the hugs they got from their moms and dads.
The boys also showed their parents the games - Bean Bag Toss, Toppling Timbers, Giant Four in a Row and Washers - that Kyle had Mr. Ken order for them to play when they got tired of skating. Some of the parents even challenged their sons to play a few of the games. That brought about some additional fun to be had at The Cove's Memorial Day Picnic.
The parents who met Owen and Nathan, and their boys, and got to know them some at the two amusement parks trips, were happy to see them at the picnic. The parents went over to them to find out how they were doing and what they had planned for their summer. The adults hadn't seen or talked to one another since the Holiday in the Park trip back in December, so there was a lot to catch up on. The topic of the day, though, was the new Cove Skate Park.
Mr. Dan, who had been AWOL at The Cove those past many weeks, made the rounds with all the Cover boys, but especially with Kyle. The two played a few of the different games and even challenged other dad and son teams to the four different games. Kyle was beside himself being able to play the games with Mr. Dan.
Hudson Whitely excused himself away from his son by telling him he needed to thank the man for inviting him to the picnic. James told his dad he understood, but he also told his dad he wanted to make sure they had one more chance to see one another before the day was over.
Hudson walked away from his son and went over to his host. The man thanked Mr. Ken for inviting him to the picnic and giving him some time to be with his son. As the two men talked, Allison's name came up in the conversation and Hudson's concern for the trouble she would cause for him when she learned he was there today.
Mr. Ken, as he did for Drew Whittier, suggested to Mr. Whitely that he finally take the fight to his ex-wife and sue her for custody of James. Ken Thomas said he would testify for him about the way his ex-wife treated their son before and presently treats James, and implied he could get Doctor Powers to support the man, as well.
Mr. Ken told Hudson that he'd heard some of his ex's allegations from James and wondered why he allowed them to stand. The owner of The Cove qualified that by saying it wasn't any of his business, but after adopting two teens and fostering seven boys, over the years, he knows how much boys need a 'dad' in their young lives.
Hudson Whitely told his host that the reason why he didn't fight Allison was because of the way sexual allegations against anyone were handled at the time. That they were guilty first and had to prove themselves innocent. The man said he regretted it ever since. Hudson added that now, with Mr. Ken's support, he would fight Allison, but he didn't know where to start.
Mr. Ken told Hudson to be proactive with his legal battle against Allison and come Tuesday he needed to make a phone call. The owner of The Cove pulled out his cell phone and gave Hudson a phone number to call Tuesday morning. The host explained that although he was still single, he knew that the law firm was one of the best and should be able to help him. Mr. Ken added that Hudson was to make sure he used his name when he called.
Hudson Whitely thanked Ken Thomas for giving him the push he needed to go after his ex-wife and to sue for custody of his son, James. The man said the lawyer would probably be calling him so for him to expect it. Mr. Ken said he would be honored to support him in any way he could. The two men shook hands and the father went looking for his son.
The day was a perfect one for a picnic. The sun shone bright. The wind was mild. The temperature was in the high 70Fs to low 80Fs and there were virtually no clouds in the sky. The sunshade sails would have come in handy that day, because of that bright sun and no clouds, but they wouldn't be installed until the following week. But that didn't matter to all the boys, and girls, as they thoroughly enjoyed the brand-new Cove Skate Park.
By 7 o'clock some of the parents began to leave. They gathered their family and together they all stopped by to thank Mr. Ken for having such a great start to the summer, and they hoped he would have them over again soon.
Mr. Ken told the parents to take some of the leftover foods with them. He especially asked them to take some cake as he and his small gang of boys couldn't ever eat all of that. Some of the parents did take something with them.
But for the most part, the caterer would be leaving a large amount of the potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, cooked hamburgers and hotdogs, and cake for the Covers to eat. Lucky for Mr. Ken he had that new refrigerator in the storage room to place the leftover foods in.
The picnic wound down by eight o'clock. Many of the boys got to skate under the lights and they were thrilled they could do that. They all knew that during the coming summer they would be able to skate much later than they ever had the previous year, and were looking forward to that.
Mr. Ken and his 'boys', and their overnight guests, walked a few of the parents and their families to their vehicles as they prepared to leave from the Memorial Day Picnic. The boys kept talking about the Cove Skate Park and what they did and didn't get a chance to do, but would try to do it tomorrow. Many hugs, handshakes and waves were exchanged as the picnics final invitees departed The Cove.
Mr. Ken gathered his 'boys', and their guests, in the Study. They brought a few of the extra chairs from the MRS Room so there would be enough seats for everyone. When everyone was settled, Mr. Ken asked everyone if the picnic was a success. They all started talking at once and couldn't say enough about it. Mr. Ken had to hold up his hands to get them to hold up and for them to tell him one at a time what they thought.
Mr. Wayne smiled at what the boys had to say, especially at their friends getting all those new helmets and safety skating equipment. Mr. Ken told them that many of their friends and parents came over to him and thanked him for all of that safety gear. The Cover boys said that they saw the equipment save many a knee or elbow from being scraped after someone fell, when they tried to do a trick and failed. Matthew held up his hand and said he was one of those. Everyone laughed.
"'Son', if you ruined them, I know someone who can get you new ones,' said a smiling 'dad' Ken. Everyone laughed at hearing that.
"That's OK 'dad', they're still good. But I was sure glad I had them on," said Matthew in reply.
Owen thanked their host again for the invite and the wonderful picnic he had put together and the awesome Skate Park that he, his partner and their boys were able to play on today. The man said it was also great to talk to the Judge, the Sheriff, and Mr. Dan and of course the parents again, and learn what was happening there at The Cove.
Nathan also thanked Mr. Ken, and then all the Cover boys, for being such great friends and hosts to him, his partner and their boys. He said that their unconventional meeting last fall and coming together at Christmas time was the best thing that had ever happened to them.
Owen added that their friendship sparked something inside of them, and their boys, which brought them closer together as a family, and made them see the positive in things instead of the negative. The man explained instead of staying in the background, as a gay couple, they decided to be outgoing and attended activities with their sons despite what others thought.
Billy didn't know what to think. He thought the two men might have been a gay couple and now he knew that they were. He knew there had to be a story behind that friendship, between his foster dad and the two men, and he wondered if Robert would tell him.
Mr. Ken thanked the men for what they said, but told the men that it was important that they, meaning him and them, loved their boys first and then prepared them for their future. Mr. Ken told them he was proud to call them his friends, and that they would always be welcomed at The Cove.
Owen and Nathan got out of their chairs and motioned for Mr. Ken to join them in a hug. Then Ryder, Jayden and Chase joined their dads. Mr. Ken came from behind his desk and opened his arms and upon doing so, Robert got up and joined him. Charles quickly followed and so did the twins and Matthew.
Mr. Wayne went to the group hug and motioned for Billy to join them. The teenager wasn't too sure about doing that. But he told himself that this wasn't a gay thing; it was a Cover thing, so he went and joined in the group hug.
When the hug broke up, the boys all had smiles on their faces.
"When do we get to swim?" asked Chase, with a big smile on his face.
That question was all it took as the Cover boys jumped up and out of their seats and told their guests to get their swimsuits on and meet them at the pool. As Robert departed the Study, he turned to the adults and told them to get their suits on and swim with them.
The four adults decided to join the boys, as it wasn't very often that the boys had the opportunity to swim with their dads and mentors. Within ten minutes, there were thirteen boys and men swimming in the indoor Cove pool.
They started just swimming and talking, but soon the Cover boys got bored and wanted to play some of the games that Russell and Jordan had created for them. They explained the games to their guests and before long the teams were chosen and the games began.
The first game played had the bigger/older participants playing the walking backwards game. The younger boys laughed at the adults who couldn't walk backwards any better than the teenagers could. After that game, they dove to see how many items people could get with just one breath. The adults with the larger lung volume could get more diving items than the youngsters could, but the boys didn't care. They were having fun swimming with their dads.
When they finished those two games their next game was to see who made the biggest splash off the jumping ledge. Mr. Wayne was voted as the judge, since he wasn't related to anyone else, although Chase did complain 'the fix was in' as the man worked for Mr. Ken. That brought out a round of laughter.
Each boy competed against one another, as did each adult. Mr. Wayne kept it fair even though each boy watched his competition's splash. When the game was all over, Mr. Wayne announced, "And the decision of the judge is final!" Then he announced that everyone was a winner. They ganged up on the judge and threw him into the water.
The group swam a little while longer, but finally, Mr. Ken said they all had a long day and he had a few more things he needed to talk to his 'boys' about, so he asked everyone to change and meet him in the Study.
Once everyone was settled back in the Study 'Dad' Ken told his 'boys' that when their friends came over tomorrow, he would appreciate it if they would police the area, pick up any stray trash and wipe down the tables and benches, so the yellow jackets don't start looking for sugar and bother them.
The boys eagerly agreed they'd get their friends to help them clean up the Skate Park and Pavilion. Robert then added he'd ask his friends to help Todd tomorrow build the Life Jacket rack and then move the personal floatation devices (PFDs) down to the beach.
Jayden volunteered him and his 'brothers' to help where they could. He said that was the least they could do for being invited to the best place on the lake not once but twice, and being treated to two great amusement park trips. Ryder and Chase agreed with their older 'brother', but said they wanted to sleep in tomorrow morning. Everyone laughed.
The Covers and their friends went out to the Kitchen Nook for their late-night snack before going to bed. Mr. Ken went and got a large piece of the picnic cake from the Pavilion while Mr. Wayne got the three different milks out. Jayden, Ryder and Chase just had to try the vanilla milk with their piece of cake.
The three guest boys loved the sweet vanilla taste of the frothy milk. They asked how it was made so their own dads could make it for them sometime. Mr. Wayne told them how easy it was except for getting the proportions right. He told them it would be hit or miss the first time or two. The Estate Master did say he would email them Momma Maria's recipe on Tuesday, but that she made it a gallon at a time. Owen said that would be okay.
When their snack was finished, Jayden was sent to stay with Robert, Ryder with Charles and Case with Matthew. The men told the boys to head up to their rooms and try to get their bodies to slow down some, so they could get a good night's sleep. The men told them they'd be up there in a few minutes to say goodnight.
The four men went upstairs to say goodnight to all of the boys. In each room the boys had to tell the men a little bit of what they did all day and how much they loved the new Skate Park and couldn't wait until tomorrow to do it all over again.
When the four men got to Billy's room, Mr. Ken asked him what his friends had to say about the big picnic and the new Cove Skate Park. The teen told them that his friends wondered if all his picnics were that big. Billy said he told them he wouldn't know, as that was his first one, too. Everyone had a good laugh.
Billy then mentioned that Kaden said he was blown away with the smoothness of the Cove Skate Park. Billy added that Kaden said that he was all wrong about the ice dispenser and that he had even used the cups and dispenser to ice down his own sodas. The men laughed some more at hearing that.
Billy then thanked Mr. Ken for believing in him and not sending him away that first day and then when he got into trouble because of the fight. The teen, through the tears that were beginning to fall, thanked his foster dad for treating him like the other boys, and not any better or any worse. Billy then broke down, jumped into the man's arms and cried.
The other men watched everything unfold in front of them. Wayne motioned to Owen and Nathan for them to give Mr. Ken and Billy some space to talk. The three men walked out of the bedroom and closed the door upon doing so.
Mr. Ken did what he does to settle all the boys down when they were upset and eventually Billy did, and he pulled back from the man and wiped his eyes. Billy apologized for doing that. The teen said he never knew what it was like being in a real family until he came there. He added that today was like a Christmas to him, but better.
Mr. Ken told the teen to get some sleep and they could possibly talk in the morning.
Out in the hallway, Mr. Ken gave Owen and Nathan the Reader's Digest version of what that was all about in Billy's room. The owner of The Cove told how Billy came from other foster homes where he had to assert himself, but he wouldn't let him be an alpha there.
Mr. Ken then explained how he treats all the boys as equally as possible, so as to not play favorites and let a boy feel he isn't as worthy as the others. The host said that Billy, being the oldest, came to The Cove a bit more uncertain as to how he would be treated and what his role would be.
Their host told the men that over time, the teenager saw that he cared about him as much as he did the other boys, and had even supported him against his high school principal who wanted to railroad the teen to get back at him.
Nathan said there had to be much more to that and Mr. Ken said there was, but that they all needed a good night's rest and they could possibly talk about it more tomorrow. That said they all headed to their own beds and The Cove was quiet that entire night.
Ken Thomas was up at his usual time the following morning, 8:15. He did his usual morning routine before going out to retrieve his newspaper. As he went to the coffee pot to get his first cup of the hot brew, he thought to himself if he should plan to take everyone out to Four Corners for breakfast, or place thirty-six breakfast tacos into the convection oven.
Just then the door from the garage opened and in walked Momma Maria.
"Momma, what brings you in? This is your 3-day weekend!" announced Mr. Ken.
"Ohhhs, Misters Kens, youse gotts muchos guests ands youse needs Mommas helps tos helps feeds thems alls. Eyes comes ins to fixes breakfasts fors thems and thens youse ares on yourse owns," laughed Momma Maria.
Mr. Ken thanked the woman for coming in and asked her if there was anything he needed to do to help her. All Momma said was for him to stay out of her way. Mr. Ken held up his hands and then went over to his usual morning seat and began reading his morning newspaper as he drank his morning coffee.
Momma Maria began to fry the bacon and then she mixed up the pancake batter. When that was ready, she broke the eggs to make scrambled eggs for twelve. Momma stayed busy as she waited for the Covers and their guests to come down for breakfast.
Then, in mid-stride, Momma changed the menu. Instead of scrambled eggs she decided to add some vanilla, cinnamon and milk to the eggs and make French toast. That was something she didn't regularly make for the Covers, and with them having guests that weekend she felt this was a perfect time to do so.
Lucky for Momma, the big warehouse food stores stocked the pre-made hash-brown potato cakes. The woman took 30 out of the freezer and began to drop them into the deep fryer. All along she was watching the bacon fry and the French toast and pancakes also cook. The woman was a miracle breakfast worker for sure.
As Momma Maria fixed breakfast, the boys began to filter into the Kitchen Nook.
"Momma, I didn't know you were coming in today," said Matthew, when he saw the woman cooking breakfast.
"Mys niño comes ands sits. Breakfasts iss almosts readys," announced Momma.
As Matthew went to sit at the Nook' table, Momma Maria told him to go into the Dining Room and have a seat. As the rest of the boys and adults came into the Kitchen Nook to the wonderful smells of a Momma Maria breakfast, the woman had them all go sit at the Dining Room table.
Momma Maria brought in all of the hot breakfast foods and placed the serving platters on the table. The breakfast foods no sooner landed on the table that they were picked up by the boys and the foods began to disappear off the platters and onto their plates. The adults were lucky to get something to eat themselves.
But not to worry, Momma had more food out in the kitchen and when she saw the platter was empty or low, she added more to the dish, so the Covers and their guests wouldn't go hungry.
Momma poured hot coffee for the adults and set the carafe on the table for the adults to help themselves. The woman also served the boys orange juice and placed two pitchers of the sweet juice on the table, so they could have more if they so desired.
Conversation was non-existent while the boys were eating. The adults did have some comments with one another, but they too were enjoying what Momma had made for them and they wanted to eat first and talk later.
When Momma Maria came in with fresh coffee, Mr. Ken asked her to sit and eat with them. She told her employer it wasn't right for her to do that, but Mr. Ken insisted by telling her they didn't expect her that morning, and it was only right that she had a good breakfast with them.
The boys all spoke up and told her they wanted her to sit and eat and talk with them, too. The woman reluctantly sat down and the boys began passing the platters to her and she placed some bacon, French toast, pancakes and hash browns on her plate. Mr. Ken then poured her a cup of coffee.
It was then the conversation around the table picked up. While Momma Maria ate, the boys began telling what they did on the new Cove Skate Park. Momma loved it when the boys talked at the table, and while eating, she was hearing about the picnic and the new Cove Skate Park.
The woman also heard about Mr. Ken's special invitees, Eleanor Whittier and her grandsons, Luke and Toby, and their parents, Drew and Ivy, and how James's dad Hudson Whitely came to visit with his son. Momma also heard how Eleanor and Jules Diamond became good friends and spent the day talking together.
As Momma ate, Robert made sure the boys took their dirty plates and drink glasses out to the kitchen, rinsed them off and placed them into the dishwasher. They then came back to the Dining room to add to the conversation. Momma thoroughly enjoyed being with the adults and listening to what the guests had been up to since their last visit.
The woman also loved hearing the boy's tales from the picnic and how James was able to visit with his dad. The twins teased Matthew how he and Bailey skated together most of the afternoon. Matthew said he and his friends skated with her, as she was their classmate as well. Then he stuck his tongue out at them. Everyone had a good laugh at that.
The boys finished cleaning off the Dining Room table and then headed upstairs to get their showers. Mr. Ken asked Momma if she'd ever seen the Cove Skate Park up close. She said she hadn't, so Mr. Ken retrieved the keys to one of the golf carts and drove her up to the Cove Skate Park
Momma marveled at the new green Three Finger Cove golf carts. She told her boss she loved the way they drove, so Mr. Ken stopped and had her drive. Momma said she couldn't, but her employer told her Ms. Judy drove them and loved them. Momma Maria got behind the wheel and after Mr. Ken told her to punch the gas pedal to release the brake the two Covers were on their way.
Momma laughed the entire way up to the Pavilion. Once there, Mr. Ken told the woman to push the brake pedal until she heard the clicking of the brake setting itself, and then to turn the key to the OFF position. The two adults then walked around.
Momma Maria was amazed at what she was seeing. The size of the Pavilion was larger than she expected from what she saw from the garage area. She was surprised at the size of the storage room and the large freezer the boys had to store the hamburger and hot dogs and any other frozen foods they might want to start cooking.
Upon seeing the amount of potato salad, coleslaw and baked beans that were left over from the picnic, Momma Maria told her boss to have the boys bring a large pot from the kitchen, put the beans in it and place it on the grill to warm them that way. She also told him to have the boys bring large bowls and use the ice and put in them to place the salads on to keep them cold so they didn't spoil and get the boys sick. Mr. Ken thanked her for the suggestions.
Mr. Ken showed Momma the 82-inch TV and cable hookup as well as a Blu-ray video player all hooked up to a surround sound stereo system with AM/FM/CD player. After that, the owner of The Cove showed the woman around the Cove Skate Park and explained what everything was. He told her about the sunshade sails that would be installed later in the week. Momma loved everything, including the lockers and the landscaping, as she loved flowers. Mr. Ken told her that was Wayne's doing.
That was when Mr. Wayne came up to the two Covers and heard what his employer had said. He told the woman that he wanted the whole area to evolve into a sea of color as spring advanced to summer and then to fall.
Momma Maria thanked the two Cover men for showing her the new addition to The Cove. She said that maybe she could do some barbequing herself up there sometime during the summer. Momma then asked for the keys to the golf cart, so she could go get her car and head on home.
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