Mending Wounded Hearts

Chapter Twenty-Three ***Getting away


A week and a few days later, we were off for Santa Maria.

"Santa Paula traffic Two-four Poppa Tango departing runway two-two," I announced on the Unicom. I had filed my flight plan online and needed to head south a bit to climb to fourteen thousand five hundred to clear the Condor preserve in the Sespes range. Condors are giant vultures and they can really put a hurt on an aircraft. There have been collisions and neither party enjoyed the experience.

Once I had established my altitude and heading with Santa Barbara ATC, I handed the controls over to Ally. Nervous at first she soon adjusted to having control. The R-690C is a very docile airplane and very easy to fly. Landings can be tricky in some wind conditions and new pilots tend to have missed approaches because they can’t get the aircraft to flare or lose lift enough to land. It’s just a matter of familiarity with the bird and most pilots pick it up quickly.

I checked my sectionals and spoke with Santa Maria approach control after Santa Barbara handed us off. 

I had reservations at the Alexander Inn above Santa Maria, it’s a bit exclusive but I was trying to impress Ally. The Alexander Inn is elegant and very serene and it’s a wonderful environment for romantic activity. 

I had called a friend who has a hangar at Santa Maria to see if he had space and perhaps a vehicle we could borrow. He said absolutely as long as I brought Ally up to see how their Winery was doing. 

When I taxied up to the hangar, there was a woman in coveralls with a tug ready to put my bird inside for the night. 

We stepped out on the apron and she introduced herself.

"Hi, I’m Jan and Mr. Reichler asked me to get your Commander under cover, she’s a real beauty, too. Is she a 690C?

"Yes, I just had her painted and new avionics installed. It has the latest engines available and both the speed and ceiling have improved along with the range. 

“I’ve set the brake so we can chock the tires and then I’ll release it and get our bags. I’m Rob, by the way and this is Ally."

"Nice to meet you, sorry about that; it’s just such a nice bird I kind of got sidetracked."

"Hah, me too; I’ve talked to people about her for twenty minutes or more before an introduction."

"Yeah, pilots; we’re all the same. Oh I’m supposed to give you these." 

Jan dangled a set of keys that I recognized as peculiar to Ferrari. "They go to that pretty blue one over there," Jan said, pointing to the side of the hangar.

Dan Reichler had set aside a beautiful little Intermeccanica 412 cabriolet for our use, I was expecting a pickup truck.

With my plane safely stowed, Jan handed me her card and told me to call when I was half an hour away and she would have it on the apron ready for pre-flight.

Propped under the horn ring was an envelope with my name. It held an access card and pin for the airport gate on the civil aviation side and a note from Dan.

: Hi Rob and Welcome, I’m so glad you’re coming for a visit. Jeannie is looking forward to it as well; we both look forward to meeting Ally. 

Tessa and Peter are really happy that you’re coming as well. If the dogs don’t alert Peter to your approach, dial the number at the bottom of this and then punch in the four digit gate code when it asks.

See you soon, Dan :

The drive to the Alexander Inn was great with the top down and Ally’s reaction to the place was priceless.

"This beats the hell out of Motel 6, it’s beautiful," Ally said as she caught a look at the main lodge. 

It was an establishment that adds a gratuity to the bill and no visible tipping was allowed. Employees would politely refuse citing the policy. However if a Bellman or Concierge performed above and beyond the call, I could affect a surreptitious exchange without offense.

The check-in procedure was brief, a simple scan of my card and I was presented with card keys and a small form to request special wines or snacks.

We relaxed in our suite for a while and it occurred to me to check in with Kelly so he could let the others know we were safely on the ground.

"Hi Rob, Kelly's in the pool with the other seven boys."

"Um seven?"

"Well, seven counting Dennis; and get this, we’re all nude. Wade and Carter talked them into it so that they could be comfortable around Ally. They seem to be doing fine, I think they’re adjusting pretty quickly and I know it was a concern for you."

"That’s really great Cammie, be sure and let them know we made it safe and sound and we’ll call before we head out for dinner."

"Okay Hon, you two have a great night."

"Your cousin just told me that she and all seven boys are swimming nude together and Kelly, Espen and Brandon are adjusting rapidly."

"Who’s the seventh boy? Oh never mind, she meant Dennis. He never will grow up completely."

"I think it’s one of his better qualities."

"Oh absolutely, he never has taken himself too seriously. You’re no stick in the mud yourself," Ally appraised.

"You miss out on a lot if you can’t laugh at yourself," I agreed.

"What do you say we get our suits on and visit the pool here, the website made it sound great?" Ally suggested.

That sounds great to me, our reservations aren’t until six-thirty so we have plenty of time," I concurred.

Ally was a knockout in a two-piece and I told her so. We swam for a while and ordered wine. 

"Okay, I get why it’s a five star hotel, it's beautiful. I’ve never actually ordered a drink from the pool before," Ally said, sipping her wine.

"I stayed here when I came up for Dan and Jeannie’s wedding. Dan’s winery was just starting to really take off and he and Jeannie had worked their butts off making it happen. I took over renovating the house so Dan could concentrate on growing grapes and other wine related chores. They had wanted to marry earlier but couldn’t fit it in to the hectic schedule. Jeannie's dad and I worked out a way that they could get married and get out of town for a while and he and I finished the house and tended the vines. Paul knows grapes, he taught Jeannie and he taught me a lot."

"That is so cool, it’s nice to have long time friends, I have a few myself; I can’t wait to show you off."

"I like making new friends but the people you’ve struggled alongside and accomplished something with are the best type."

"I agree; I still keep in touch with some of the people I did my internship with. I think rebuilding someone’s home would be very intimate and involved."

"I think they liked the way the house turned out; they haven’t changed much since I handed it back to them. I think you’ll like it."

"I know I will; I didn’t know you were an architect."

"I’m not really, I’m an engineer. Architects draw things they like the looks of, and I engineer things that are buildable. Plus, I was restoring the place and fixing structural issues with aesthetics in mind. When we visit I can show you some of the bigger structural challenges we faced."

"Are you ready to get out? I don’t want to be all pruney for dinner."

"As you wish my lady." We put on our robes and meandered through the formal garden and back to our suite.

Ally told me about her childhood and what a great man her Grampa was. Her own father had been killed in an accident with a baler machine. They farmed alfalfa and made a good living at it; enough so that she and her brother could go to college. She told of the nonsense that she and Cammie got up to and some of the horses she’d had. All while sitting between my legs as I rubbed her neck and back and then fondled her wonderful breasts. Eventually she lost track of what she was saying. We decided we should shower and dress for dinner and we did so separately or we would have been late.

Dinner was wonderful, great food and great conversation and fantastic service.

Instead of driving myself, I opted for a car service to take us to Jano’s Polka Palace. We met some great people, some young, some my age and everybody was having a good time. There was one loud mouthed guy that wanted the band to play a couple of Mexican numbers but they wouldn’t do it. It’s a Polish themed club and there were other Hispanics there that were enjoying the music as it was. The band played Polkas mainly with a few ten-step and two-step numbers mixed in plus a couple of waltzes. They finished up with the Blue Skirt Waltz and said good night. They served some pretty good wine and I was glad that all I had to do was send our driver a text and wait fifteen minutes or so. 

After tipping our driver, I twirled Ally through the lobby and we made our way to our suite. We sat in our Jacuzzi and looked out the balcony at the night sky. Our view was toward the almond groves and we didn’t have to deal with a bunch of lights spoiling our view.

"So what are you into, sexually speaking Rob?"

"Nothing outrageous, I don’t do anything that hurts at least on purpose. I won’t be restrained so no handcuffs or tying me up. Other than that I guess you’ll need to run it past me and I’ll tell you if it’s something I’d do."

"That seems fair, I don’t mind a little spanking from time to time but if you’re not up for that it’s okay."

"Just hard enough to sting a little or do you want marks?"

"A bit of a sting is really all I need and not every time."

"I can live with that, I presume you’re okay with oral, because I’m pretty good or so I’m told."

"As long as I can return the favor, how do you feel about some gentle biting on the shaft?"

"I kind of like that actually."

"Well let’s rinse off and see what we can accomplish, I think I’ve been patient enough," Ally commanded.

We showered together and dried off and I poured a couple glasses of Spumante asti. She was impressed by my oral skills and I discovered that somewhere along the line, she had learned to defeat her gag reflex. I had her get on top so she could control how fast I entered her and it was easier than she thought it would be. My Doc had told me I was on the large side of the normal range but not porn star material. But he’s kind of warped anyway. 

I lay there with her head on my chest listening to her soft breathing. I couldn’t believe my luck. This was one fantastic woman and I was grateful to be in her company.

Two sensations woke me: my painfully full bladder and Ally's warm sensuous body against me.

"I'm sorry, Hon, but I need to tend to something."

She disengaged and I raced to the shower. I went ahead and rinsed off and returned to our bed.

"Shall we continue?"

"Oh absolutely," this time I was a bit more athletic and gave her what she was looking for. I discovered she can be a little noisy and dirty under those circumstances.

We both took proper showers and prepared for our day. After a nice breakfast, I gave Ally a tour of the surrounding area including a winery and a couple almond farms I’m invested in as we wound our way towards Arroyo Grande.

We didn’t need the gate code; Peter was sitting at the gate on his trail bike and he and the dogs preceded us up the drive to the house. I figure he heard the Ferrari engine growl when I down shifted at the top of the hill.

"Oh my god this is beautiful," Ally exclaimed. "You built this?"

"Restored is a more apt word for my contribution."

Peter had run his Yamaha to the garage and tackled me around the waist as I stepped from the car.

"It’s good to see you Uncle Rob."

"Same here Peter, where’s your sister?"

"She’s up getting pretty for you."

"Oh, so I have competition?" Ally quipped.

"Ally, this is Peter, he’s a budding Viticulturist and airplane enthusiast."

I kissed Peter’s cheek and he released his bear hug so he could give me a peck as well.

With Peter under one arm and Ally under the other, we made our way up the stone steps and the door swung open before we reached it.

Tessa and Jeannie came out to great us and Peter let go so his sister could greet me. Tessa is fifteen and on her way to becoming a beautiful woman. Her passion is machinery and woodworking. She gave me a very enthusiastic greeting. 

"Oh hey Peter, there’s a tote in the trunk, would you bring it in?" I asked.

"Sure, Uncle Rob," he grinned and went off on his mission.

I introduced Ally and we all chatted while we waited for Peter, and Dan and Jeannie shuttled us into the house. 

"Rob, good to see you; I see you’ve found your way back. Where’s your number one fanboy?"

"He’s getting big: I guess you have to expect that at thirteen. Why hasn’t he turned into a self-absorbed teen zombie?"

"I heard that, I don’t want to be like that. I have too much going on to act that way."

"I know Peter; I was just teasing your folks."

"You can still call me Petes, I don’t mind when it’s family."

"Well, since I didn’t get up here when I intended I have a couple things in this tote. First, because I know Jeannie loves honey, I brought two jars from my own hives. And there’s a pickle Jar full of Bourbon Balls that should be getting pretty potent by now. Usually I make them in June so they’re ready by Christmas, but these I made eight months ago."

"Thanks Rob, I think we’ll enjoy those and so will Paul." 

"And since I missed your birthday I brought your presents. Petes, would you hand the long rectangular package to Tessa and the other is for you.

Peter waited for Tessa to unwrap her Japanese dovetailing saws and a tube with reprints of Stickley furniture plans. 

Tessa grinned, hugged my neck and generally made a fuss. We exchanged kisses and Peter took his turn. I had found two long sought after books that Pete poured through every time he visited my home. One was a reprint of a sixteenth century manuscript on Tuscan wine growing. The other was a book about our favorite airplane, the P-61 Black Widow night fighter.

"Oh, Uncle Rob, these are great! Did Dad tell you I was building a big P-61 r/c model? This will help get it right. I love the book on Tuscany too," Peter sniffed and hugged me very tight. "Thanks Rob, you’re the best."

Peter excused himself to go and wash his face and we all sat and Jeannie brought out tea. Peter had always been a sweet, sensitive and kind boy and it was good to see he hadn’t lost that as he grew older and entered adolescence.

"So are you and Peter twins?" Ally asked Tessa.

"Oh no, we’re a year apart, we just have the same birthday."

"That’s because Dan and Jeannie adhere to a strict schedule," I chuckled.

"Actually Peter was a couple weeks early, but he was ready so out he came," Jeannie laughed.

"My little Carter was early too. I guess he was anxious to get started on his agenda."

"Is he a hyper little guy?"

"Oh my god, is he ever. He goes full tilt until he drops. It’s like he has to learn and do and see everything he can every day."

"Pictures?" Jeannie demanded cheerfully.

Ally whipped out her phone, pulled up her photos and handed the phone to Jeannie. Tessa peered over her mother’s shoulder and they cooed, aahed and giggled, especially when they reached the nudes.

Dan showed me photos of his newly acquired Stearman Bi-plane and the restoration process. 

The girls headed off to the kitchen and Dan poured a couple glasses of wine. 

We chatted about recent events and what was happening at the vineyard. 

We discussed how they had a narrow escape with some new vine stock. Peter and his dad were inspecting them as they were being unloaded and Peter spotted a growth and then found more infected vines. They had the delivery guys load them up and get them off the place.

"Peter mixed up a disinfectant solution and sprayed the whole area where we were unloading. Then our clothes had to be washed along with showering ourselves. Paul has really taught him a lot and he’s a very willing student. He works as hard as any man on this place."

"He’s always been a great boy; I think he’ll be a fine man as well Dan."

"Is Dad bragging about me again?" Peter asked plopping down beside me on the sofa.

"Rightly so, it sounds like you staved off disaster with those infected vines."

"Yeah, I feel good about that."

"Are you feeling better now Petes?"

"Yeah, stupid hormones; I get all emotional and cry like a little kid and I don’t get any warning."

"That’s puberty kiddo, I’m sure your Dad has explained that."

"He has, but it doesn’t make it any less inconvenient."

I pulled Peter up close and gave him a squeeze around the shoulders.

"Mom said you just took on two new kids, what are they like?"

"I did and they’re great guys." I told them all about Brandon and Kelly and also Carter.

"That Ally is really hot, Rob; I hope I can meet someone like that someday. She’s really smart too, I like that."

"Well, she’s a doctor and that goes with the territory. She specialized in emergency medicine and pediatrics."

"How is Wade? I haven’t seen him for quite a while."

"He’s stretching out, he’s nearly to my shoulders, I have recent pictures."

I handed Peter my phone and watched as he scrolled through. He paused and giggled at the one I sent Cammie of Wade wiggling his penis at me poolside." He spent some time looking at Brandon and Kelly.

"They look nice, but they both look a little sad though." Peter observed.

"Well they’ve both been through some rough times but they look happier now. You’ll meet them soon I hope. You know you’re always welcome at my place as well."

Dan and I discussed their yield and the last harvest. He praised the hot water heating system I designed for frost protection. "Petes has a computer compiling all the temperature stats and humidity and what not. He really loves the wine business and Paul has been a tremendous help."

When Peter didn’t respond I looked over to see him snoozing peacefully under my arm.

"Geez, is this how it’s gonna be with you? There always seems to be a kid attached to you," Ally said in mock complaint.

"Our Petey adores Rob, they have always been close. Tessa loves him too. She still has a major crush on him," Dan said.

"Daaad! Tessa yowled, that’s so embarrassing.

"My little Carter has always been standoffish with men; but he warmed right up to Rob."

"It’s because he treats us like equals and he tells us the truth," Peter spoke up, rousing from his nap.

I wasn’t sure I was comfortable being the subject of such a debate but Peter went on to explain his point.

"You see most adults think they’re being honest with kids like me or younger; but they hold things back. Maybe they can’t think of how to phrase what they want to say or something. But Rob will either answer a question honestly or tell you it’s inappropriate for him to answer it. He doesn’t change the subject or evade; he flat out tells you he won’t answer and why. That’s just as important to kids as the actual answer. A lot of people will make something up or use a euphemism or metaphor that doesn’t really apply. We get that it’s kind of complicated talking to kids about sensitive issues but he seems to manage without getting embarrassed."

"You know Rob, he’s right. I’ve never seen you get embarrassed about much of anything," Dan pointed out.

"Well it’s like this, when I was a kid and I had questions about sex or religion or some other difficult subject I always had my dad to go to. Other adults would feed me some deluded crap that didn’t square with what I already knew to be true. I never liked having people talk down to me so I never pulled that crap on my own kids or any that I encountered. I came to understand that there were subjects that I shouldn’t discuss unless their parents approved. Peter you should know, your Mom and Dad told me early on that I should give you and Tessa any help I could offer, so thank them. Wade is in the same situation and although we haven’t discussed it I treat Carter the same way."

"And that’s the way I want it, Hon," Ally put in. 

"Well, somebody mentioned a tour of the place on horseback, are we still on for that?" Ally reminded.

"I was just going to suggest we get a little lunch under our belts and show Tessa’s table off in the process," Jeannie mentioned.