White Boy Book 1: The Owen Thomas Story

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Chapter Twenty

After a long and rocky nine months of pregnancy, Desiree and Owen were the proud parents of fraternal twins. The boy who came first, they named Cai. His sister born three minutes later they named Caron. They both had Desiree’s dark skin and hair. Owen was proud of his wife and his children.

Just after their birth, a host of family and friends were there to witness the birth of the two beautiful babies. While they were waiting, Owen and Desiree were enjoying being first time parents.

Owen held his daughter in his arms and smiled widely. “Oh baby, they are gorgeous.”

“We did a good job didn’t we?”

“They look nothing like me. You did a good job. I’m really excited. Mother and father are going to be good grandparents don’t you think?”

Desiree smirked. “I don’t know about your father, but Nadia is going to be great.”

“So who do we introduce them to first?”

“The grandparents of course. Followed by Isaias, Whitney, Charlotte, and Frederick. All of the others will have to wait to see our beautiful children.”

“Thank you for allowing me the chance to be a father, Desi. With the way I screwed up, you didn’t have to do that.”

“Honey I already told you. I want my children to have an active father in their lives.”

Owen smiled. “Right. I appreciate it honey.”

“You’re welcome.”

“So, do we do both sets of grandparents, or one set at a time.”

“Are you kidding me? Do you really want to start fight in the waiting room? Both of sets, of course.”

Owen laughed at the thought of two middle-aged couple fussing over who would go first. “All right. I’ll go get them.”

Owen went into the waiting room.

“Hello everyone. I’m happy that you are all here to meet our children. Grandparents first.”

“What are their names?” Smoke asked.

“Cai and Caron. They are beautiful just like their mother. Will both sets of grandparents please follow me?”

Guillermo and Paulina Martinez lead the pack followed by Nadia and Richard. When they arrived in the room, the women were very excited.

“Oh my goodness! Look at these two!” Paulina said, speaking Spanish.

“They look like you mama,” Desiree replied.

“They are beautiful,” Nadia said holding Cai in her arms.

“Why didn’t you give them strong Spanish names?” Paulina asked.

“Mama, we named them when we looked at them. I don’t know why they don’t have strong Spanish names.”

Richard spoke up. “You can’t go wrong with a good English or Slavic name right?”

“Father, please. If that were the case why don’t I have one?”

Everyone laughed.

“No matter,” Nadia said. “We should all be proud today. We have two healthy grandchildren. We can help their parents raise them to be thoughtful, respectful adults. We can spoil them rotten and send them home. That’s the best part.”

Richard stuck his chest out. “I’ll teach Cai all about the wine business.”

Nadia looked up at him and tilted her head slightly. “And if Owen wants him to be a musician then what?”

Owen smiled. He was so happy to have his family around him. “Hey, no arguing you two. They will follow their own paths. We will give them all of us and some of the four of you.”

“What about hard work?” Guillermo asked. “Will my grandchildren know anything about that?”

Desiree clicked her teeth. “Well of course they will, papa.”

“I’m not so sure, Desiree. Since you have been married to Owen, you are not the same daughter I raised.”

“Papa, let’s not fight okay? Let’s just enjoy the moment.”

The four grandparents kissed and sang to their grandchildren. After twenty minutes, it was time for the next group to come in and see them.

Owen went back to the waiting room. “Will the Reynolds and Hall family please follow me?”

Down the hall they went to see the children. All four of them were jealous.

Isaias held Caron in his arms. “I can’t wait to get my family started man. They are gorgeous.”

Owen nodded. “They take after their mother.”

“Isaias, honey, we are also going to have beautiful children.”

“When?”

“When you decide what it is you want. Nine to five or jetting all over the country? Which is it Isaias?”

“Okay, so I’m a little busy.”

“Whitney’s right Isaias,” Charlotte chimed in.

Isaias chuckled. “All right, All right. I’ll take a break.”

When everyone had their chance to meet the children, they all felt different about how they would spend time with them. Nadia didn’t care about anything but having fun. Richard only saw heirs to his vast fortune. Guillermo and Paulina were worried if their grandchildren were going to be overly spoiled. Monique was going to spoil them both rotten. James was again jealous of his little brother, while Odile was happy that there were no children in her future. Owen was happy that he had the chance to share in the birth of his children and knew that he and Desiree were going to be together forever, and nothing was going to ruin that.

A year and a half later, they were all at the hospital again. This time Whitney was having the baby.

“Push baby, come on!” Isaias said firmly.

“I am damn it! You wanna try this?” Whitney asked loudly.

Isaias chuckled. “Actually no. But come on honey, he’s almost here.”

Whitney gave three more good pushes, and Justice Frederick Reynolds entered the world.

“Thank you, baby,” Isaias said kissing Whitney on the forehead.

“You’re welcome.”

“He will have the best of everything,” Isaias said.

Charlotte nodded. “Yes, he will.”

“I only have one question,” Frederick began. “Why did you name him Justice?”

“I named him Justice, because he is our retribution to the world. He will be greater than his father and his grandfather. He will fear no one, and take no prisoners. Wicked women will not betray him. He will be intrepid in all efforts. His word will be law.”

Frederick tilted his head to one side. “Given this much thought?”

“I guess I have,” Isaias said with a light chuckle.

“Well I am proud to finally have a grandchild. I hope that there will be many more.”

Just then, Isaias’ phone rang.

“Hello…Hey Smoke what’s up…That’s okay…What…You’re serious…That’s fantastic…Come by later, we’ll be here…See you then…Bye.”

“What’s fantastic?” Whitney asked.

“Brenda and Smoke are gonna have a baby too.”

“When?”

“Later this year.”

“That is wonderful. I’m glad.”

Over the next ten years, the new additions to the Thomas, Reynolds, and Doyle families were both a blessing and a burden. All introduced to music at a very early age, but only one of them truly embraced it. Cai was the one who absolutely loved the piano. Caron practiced and played because that is what her father wanted, but she hated it. Smoke couldn’t get his daughter Kevlyn near an instrument let alone play one. Justice being almost two years younger than the twins were despised the drums. Isaias pushed, and pushed, but he got nowhere with Justice.

“Justice, come here son.”

“Daddy, I don’t want to play the drums.”

“They will make you smart.”

“The drums will not make me smart. Besides, I’m smart already.”

“Oh really?”

Justice nodded. “That’s what nana and papa says. They say that I’m a really smart boy.”

“I guess you are if they say so. So what do you want to be when you grow up?”

“I want to be a policeman.”

“A policeman is good. How about a policeman that can play the drums?”

Whitney then walked to the door of the music room. Isaias and Justice didn’t know she was there.

“Daddy, I don’t like the drums.”

“Well what instrument do you like?”

“I don’t like any of them.”

“You don’t like music?”

“I like to listen to music, I don’t want to play.”

“You don’t want to be like me?”

Saving her husband some heartache and frustration from what she was sure her son was going to say, she interrupted. “Hey.”

“Hey honey,” Isaias said, getting up kissing Whitney on the cheek.

“Momma, do I have to play the drums?”

“Not right now, baby.”

“Thanks momma.”

“Justice, your papa is out in the garden. Why don’t you go out and play ball with him?”

“I don’t have to practice anymore?”

“No baby. Go on.”

Justice jumped up and ran outside. Isaias couldn’t believe his wife just under minded his authority like that.

“That boy has got to learn some discipline, Whitney.”

“He’ll be fine.”

“He’s spoiled.”

“He is not.”

“Between you, mother, Frederick, and the entire the staff, he gets whatever he wants, admit it.”

Whitney shrugged. “Maybe a little.”

“A little? Try a lot.”

“He’s just a baby.”

Isaias couldn’t believe his ears. “He is not a baby! He’s a smart little boy who knows how to run over everyone in this house except me!” He shouted.

“So you’re saying that he’s going to have to learn an instrument.”

“Yes, I am. If I have to send him over to Owen’s house to get piano lessons from him, he will learn an instrument if it kills me.”

“You’re not looking for him to become an artist like you are you?”

“No honey. I’m sorry I yelled at you. I know Justice is smart, and he’s damn good looking. But he is lacking one thing that is going to turn him into a man. That thing is discipline. So please don’t fight me on this. If he doesn’t learn how to discipline his mind, he will never be able to take over for me when it is his time.”

Whitney clicked her teeth. “Honey, he’s eight. Can he have a childhood first?”

“I’m not trying to take that from him honey. Now is the time to start learning. If we let him get to old, it will be too late.”

At the Thomas residence, Cai was finishing his lesson. Owen walked around the piano as his prodigal son played. He listened and was very impressed with him.

“Faster Cai.”

“It’s hard father.”

“I know it is because your hands are still small. But I want you to continue to work on this. You want to be a master like me one day don’t you?”

“Of course I do.”

“Well let’s go through this piece once again. This time I want you to try harder on the last part. The tempo picks up just enough to notice. So let me hear it again. From the top.”

Cai played the piece for Owen again. This time he did slightly better.

“Good. It will eventually come. I’m proud of you son.”

“Thank you father.”

“We’re finished for the day. Go get your sister.”

“Yes father.”

Cai jumped up from the piano bench and ran to Caron’s room. He opened her door to find her standing in her full-length mirror admiring herself.

“Caron, it’s time for your piano lesson.”

“I’ll be right there.”

“Father is waiting.”

“I said I’ll be right there.”

“Why are you always looking in the mirror anyway?”

“Do you think I’m pretty Cai?”

“Ew. You’re my sister. Of course I don’t think you’re pretty.”

Caron gasped. “I’m telling father!”

Caron ran past her brother and into the entertainment hall. Owen was there waiting for her. Her calling to him loudly surprised him.

“Father! Father! Cai called me ugly!”

Owen chuckled. “You’re not ugly, Caron. You are the spitting image of your mother. Do you think your mother is ugly?”

She shook her head. “Mother is beautiful.”

“And so are you,” Owen said smiling and tapping her on the nose.

“I love you father.”

“And I love you. So are you ready to practice?”

“Yes.”

“All right. We’re going to work on the same song that I’ve been teaching Cai.”

Caron could and would always be very frank with Owen. He didn’t mind at all since she had a lot of her mother’s personality.

“Father, I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but I really hate playing the piano.”

“Well why do you continue to play?”

“Because you told me that I should.”

“Well what do you want to do, Caron?”

Caron smiled at her father. “I want to be a model.”

“You don’t want to be a famous jazz pianist?”

She shook her head. “No father.”

“Okay then. We don’t have to continue with your lessons. If you want to model, we will get you into a good school, and you will be on your way.”

“Can I learn this song first?”

“Why?”

“For once, I want to be better than Cai at something.”

Owen chuckled again. “Okay, then. From the top.”

Caron continued with her lesson only because it pleased her father. She loved him with all of her heart, and never wanted to disappoint him in any way. When she was finished, Owen praised her.

“Good girl. Now go and get ready for dinner. I’m going to talk to your mother.”

“Okay father. I love you.”

“I love you, too. Go on now.”

Caron hopped down from the bench, and went to wash up for dinner. Owen went into the library where Desiree was reading.

“Hey,” Owen said quietly.

“How did she do?”

“Brilliant, like me of course. But she doesn’t want to play.”

“What does she want to do?”

“Model.”

“She’ll be eaten alive. Honey I think we should make her play.”

Owen shook his head. “My mother didn’t make me follow my father’s footsteps, and my children will not have to either. I’ve already given my permission for her to model if that is what she wants.”

“You did this without talking to me first?”

“I’m talking to you now.”

“Owen, you have got to stop letting that girl run over you. She’s ten.”

“She’ll be fine. She’s smart, and she has your spunk. You never know, she may end up being a supermodel.”

“All right, All right. But if her grades start to go down, she’s done.”

“Agreed.”

“I wonder if Whitney and Isaias are having trouble with Justice.”

At the Doyle house, Smoke was fussing at his daughter Kevlyn.

“Kevlyn, get over here and sit down young lady.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Now.”

“No!”

“Do you want me to punish you?”

“No daddy.”

“Well get over here and play this violin right now. You have to practice if you’re going to get better.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Fine. Go up to your room. No T.V. or video games.”

“Aw daddy!”

“Now before I paddle your little behind!”

“Aw.”

Kevlyn stomped out of the room and went upstairs. No sooner than she was gone, the phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hey baby.”

Smoke was frustrated at his daughter and didn’t even say hello to his wife. “I’m going to kill your child.”

“Is she disobeying you again?”

“Yep.”

“Well honey maybe we shouldn’t make her play if she doesn’t want to.”

“She’s supposed to play Brenda.”

“Why? Because you and all of your friends are musicians?”

“Yes. You should hear Cai play. He’s a genius.”

“He’s supposed to be a genius. He’s Owen’s son.”

“Yeah, I suppose you’re right.”

“Smoke, have you ever asked Kevlyn what she wanted to do when she grew up?”

“Not that I can recall.”

“Maybe you should start there. For all you know, she wants to be a nurse like her momma.”

“So we sell the violin like we have all of the other instruments we’ve tried her on?”

“I suppose so. Where is she anyway?”

“I just sent her up to her room.”

“Okay, I’ll call back later. I love you.”

“Love you too.”

Smoke hung up the phone, and waited an hour before he went to his daughter’s room. He knocked on the door, and went in. He found Kevlyn reading a book.

Smoke sat on the bed next to her. “What are you reading?”

“Charlotte’s web.”

“Can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure daddy.”

“Do you know what you want to do when you grow up?”

“Maybe an actress or model.”

“No music?”

“No daddy. I don’t want to play. It’s boring.”

“All right baby girl, All right. I won’t make you try to play anything else anymore.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

Kevlyn hugged Smoke around his neck. “Thank you, daddy.”

“You’re welcome.”

“So can I leave my room now?”

“Yes you can. Go wash up and get ready for lunch.”

“What’s for lunch?”

“Whatever you want.”

“Macaroni and cheese.”

“One small order of Mac and cheese coming up.”

Another six years went by, and before anyone knew it, the twins were turning sixteen. Nadia, Desiree, and Whitney planned the birthday party of the year. The party was reminiscent of the graduation party she threw for Owen when he graduated college. Everyone they knew was there. James and Odile even came all the way from France. This party attracted musicians, models, and vignerons alike. A certain model was there, and Caron wasn’t very happy about it. Even though she tolerated her, she was a competitor, and a fierce one at that. Two years her junior and she was working the circuit just as hard as Caron. That model was Kevlyn. Caron saw her limo pull up to the house, and she was instantly repulsed. She was talking to Cai when she saw Kevlyn get out of the limo with her parents.

“Oh god I think I’m gonna be sick.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Kevlyn is here.”

“Really? Where?”

“Oh please don’t tell me that you have a crush on her.”

“She’s hot.”

“She’s fourteen.”

“And that matters how?”

“She’s fourteen.”

“You said that already.”

“I just don’t like her that’s all.”

“You’re jealous.”

“I’m not.”

“You are. She’s just a good a model as you, and you have been doing it longer. You’re jealous.”

“Whatever.”

Just then, Justice walked up to Caron and kissed her on the cheek.

“Justice, I told you not to do that,” Caron said.

“What kiss you? I kiss all the pretty girls when I greet them.”

“Hey Justice, what’s up?” Cai asked.

“Nothing man, just flirting with your sister.”

“Well, you keep on doing that. I have to go do a little flirting myself.”

“Where are you going?” Caron asked her brother.

“To greet the prettiest girl here.”

“Who?”

“Kevlyn of course. You sister dear are the second prettiest girl here. Now if you will excuse me.”

Cai walked away and left Justice to talk to Caron alone.

“So Caron, when are you going to go out on a date with me?” Justice asked.

“Never.”

“Oh I think you will. One day you will find me absolutely irresistible.”

“We’re friends Justice. Nothing more.”

“So what will make you want to go out with me?”

“When you can drive your own car. That’s a start.”

“That’s an excuse Caron. Both of our families are loaded. We don’t have to drive. That’s what the help is for.”

“Friends, Justice. Just friends.”

Caron walked away, and joined her mother. In the meantime, Cai was getting a lot further with Kevlyn, than Justice did with Caron. He didn’t disrespect her parents, because if he did, his father would have his head.

“Good afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Doyle. Welcome to our party.”

“Hey Cai,” Smoke replied. “You gonna play for us today?”

Cai nodded. “Father and I have something planned, yes.”

“Can’t wait to hear it.”

Cai then turned his attention to Kevlyn. He smiled widely. Kevlyn offered him her hand. Cai gently kissed the back of it. “Hello Kevlyn.”

“Good afternoon Cai.”

“May I escort you to the garden?”

“Of course.”

The two of them walked away, and Smoke became suddenly concerned for his daughter’s welfare.

“He certainly has become a charmer.”

Brenda smiled. “Yes he has.”

“I certainly hope he doesn’t think that he’s gonna go on a solo date with my baby just because he can drive solo.”

“Are you kidding? Owen will not let that happen. You’re one of his oldest friends. There is no way that he’s going to let Cai ruin that.”

“Better not.”

“Besides, Kevlyn is more interested in making Caron jealous right now. She knows if she stays close to Cai, she can disrupt her concentration.”

“The race to be the top supermodel begins.”

“Oh it’s not bad now. Wait until the both of them are over eighteen.”

“Oh I knew this was a bad idea.”

“Relax honey. When they are both famous models, you won’t have to give up your royalties from your music to take care of her.”

“Well when you put it like that.”

“I’d thought you’d see it differently.”

An hour later, Owen stepped up to the microphone, to wish his children a happy birthday.

“Oh my. I never knew that my children were so popular. Honestly, we didn’t plan on so many of you to show up. So if you want some food and drink you had better get to it.” Owen laughed. “No, I’m kidding. Three beautiful women put this party together, and this time I paid for it. Mother, Desiree, Whitney, can you come up here please?” The three women joined him on stage. “I’d like to thank the always charming, forever going, always planning, and never tiring original socialite extraordinaire. My mother Nadia Raye Thomas. My wife, the beautiful and most gracious Desiree Thomas. Let us not forget the beautiful and charming Whitney Reynolds. Give it up for the planners of the party of the year ladies and gentlemen.”

Everyone clapped, and cheered, and Owen sat down at one of the pianos. Desiree stepped up to the mic.

“Now let’s get down to the reason we are all here. Sixteen years ago on this day, I was in the hospital giving birth to two children. I call them my miracle. I mean look at me. It’s a miracle that they were even born. Does it look like I could ever have twins?” Everyone laughed. “First there was Cai. Come on up here baby.” Cai stepped up on stage with his mother. “This little boy was my first. Who would have known that he would have become such a handsome young man?”

Owen leaned in and spoke into the mic at the piano. “I knew it.”

The guests laughed, and Desiree continued. “Well of course you did. Then three minutes later, came my gorgeous little girl Caron. Come on up here honey.” Caron stepped up on stage and stood on the opposite side of her mother. “Well, here they are folks. Shall we?”

Owen caught up in memories of his children’s upbringing, missed his cue. “Oh wait. I’m supposed to play this part right?”

Desiree nodded. “Right.”

Owen began to play the birthday song. Everyone sang to the twins. And at the end, they cheered and clapped. Cai stepped up to the microphone first.

“Thank you very much everyone. I appreciate you all coming to our party. Stick around we have huge entertainment on the way.”

Caron took her turn. “We would just like to thank my parents and grandparents for giving us the opportunity to live the life fantastic. We love all of you.”

The guests clapped again. This time it was Richard’s turn. He stepped up on stage and addressed his son first.

“Owen for once I can say that I’m glad I’m not paying for this one. It’s time you got a taste of your own medicine.” The guests laughed. “Wow. I cannot believe I have sixteen-year-old grandchildren. They grew up so fast! But they are beautiful, and I love them very much. So much in fact, I’m going to give them both something that no one wanted them to have.

“This includes my wife, my ex-wife, both of their parents, and their other set of grandparents. But I thought what the hell. I may be old as hell, but I’m still the boss in this family. So if you all will turn around and look toward the driveway.”

Owen’s mouth dropped. “Father you didn’t.”

“My grandkids, so shut up.”

Moments later, two BMW’s pulled up in the driveway. One red and one black. The guests went crazy. Cai and Caron were jumping up and down hugging their grandfather.

“Hey, easy with the old man. Cai, the black one is for you, and Caron the red one is yours. This is just a small gift to show you that I’m proud of what you have accomplished up to this point in life. Congratulations kids. I love you.”

The two of them hugged their grandfather, and Caron left the stage.

“Now I understand that we have a little entertainment coming up. My son promised me that he wouldn’t take over the kids’ birthday party with a concert. We already know that he can play. So today, I have the pleasure of introducing the fruit of my son’s loins. Ladies and Gentlemen, Cai Michael Thomas.”

Cai sat at the piano and all were quiet. Cai surprised his guests when he started playing classical piano. He played two songs, and everyone went crazy when he was finished. Owen’s chest was sticking out so far he could have fallen over.

Owen stepped up to the mic. “That’s my boy. Cai Thomas everyone.”

Cai got up and took a bow, sat back down and leaned into the microphone. “Thank you very much. Now nana, don’t get upset, but father and I have something planned for you.”

“What is it baby?”

“It is a piano duet that he and I composed together. We wrote it for our family to show them how much we love them.”

Nadia loved to hear her grandson play. Even though it was messing with the timing of the party, she allowed it. “Go ahead, baby.”

The two of them put together a beautiful classical and jazz piece that touched every single heart there. When it was finished, the guests respected the piece that they listened to and gave it a standing ovation.

It was time for Odile’s part of the party.

“That was beautiful you two thank you. I would have never pegged Owen as being a classical pianist. I myself am pleasantly surprised.

“In case you don’t know, my name is Odile Thomas. I am married to the just as handsome not quite so famous older brother of Owen, James Thomas. Once upon a time, I was a high fashion model in France. When I got tired of the business, I turned my attention to design. Six months ago, I went to James with a wonderful idea. I wanted to give the children a little bit of me. So I designed some clothing with the two of them in mind, and we are going to put on a small fashion show for you today.

Professional models will show all of the clothing, every single piece that you see is one of a kind, and you won’t be able to find them in stores anywhere. Happy birthday children. Your uncle and I love you.”

Everyone sat for the fashion show, and cheered both the designs and the models. There was one model in particular that got high praise from Smoke and Brenda. Kevlyn was also in the fashion show. This made Caron furious. How dare she model her specially designed clothing at her birthday party? She however remained a lady and kept her feelings to herself.

“Thank you very much,” Odile said at the end of the show. “I do plan on having a special show right here in California for the public. Please do come out and see the beautiful clothing. Now I guess it’s time for dinner, and then the party can really get going after that. On behalf of the entire Thomas family, we would like to thank you for coming and making this day special for Cai and Caron. Enjoy everyone.”

The party lasted until slightly past ten. When the last guest was gone, and everything quieted down, Owen wasn’t quite ready to go to sleep. He was still wound up, so he decided that he would go to the entertainment hall and play. While he was playing, his cell phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hey man, don’t forget we have to go to Oregon tomorrow,” James said.

“Oh. Shit, I have an early meeting with Scott in the morning. Do you need me right away? Can Stephanie be there?”

“Too late. If I called her now, she would be jet lagged and no good to me when she got here. Besides, it’s about time we hired a new assistant VP anyway.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Well can you wait until after my meeting? I’ll be on the next thing smoking after my meeting.”

“When are you going to give that recording contract up? You have enough money now to start your own label.”

“I’m not ready yet. So can you wait or what?”

“Yeah. I suppose I’ll just start without you.”

“Great. We can go over the plans for the Pinot before we plant this season, talk about the Sangiovese for next season, and think about hiring a new Assistant VP of Ops. I’ll make it a short meeting with Scott, and I’ll be there by noon.”

“All right. Goodnight Owen.”

“Goodnight.”

“Oh by the way. Congratulations on your eighteenth wedding anniversary.”

Owen sat and thought about his brother’s words. Had it really been eighteen years? He couldn’t believe it. “Thanks James.”

“You’re welcome little brother. See you at noon tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow.”

Owen hung up the phone and went to bed.

The following morning, Owen woke up with a feeling that he hadn’t felt in eighteen years. He remembered it because he’d only had the feeling once before in his life. It was the feeling that something about the near future wasn’t right.

The last time he felt this feeling, his estranged father came back into his life. But that wasn’t a bad thing, so he brushed it off, and got in the shower. By the time he was out, his family was stirring about. He decided they should eat breakfast together since he would be out of town for a few days. He had everyone’s favorite breakfast prepared for them, and waited for them at the dinning room table. Everyone arrived dressed and ready to eat. Owen was particularly perky that morning.

“Good morning Thomas’!”

Desiree waited for her husband to help her sit down. “Good morning, honey.”

“Father, are you going out of town again?” Cai asked.

“Actually I am. I’m going to Oregon today. First, Scott is coming over for a meeting. After that I’m out of here.”

“Are you going to make it back for my show?” Caron asked.

“I promise I will be there honey.”

“And my recital?”

“That’s a day after Caron’s fashion show, so yes. I’ll be there.”

Desiree sat and watched as Owen gave into his children. She was concerned that he was never going to slow down.

“Owen, don’t you think it’s time you slowed down a bit? My goodness between the music, the wine, and the children’s activities, you’re running yourself ragged.”

“I enjoy spending time with my children. I’m fine Desi really.”

“And what about my time? After all, I came before everything, and everyone, yet I’m still the last one to reap the reward.”

Owen thought about it. “Perhaps you’re right. Maybe I should slow down a little. What do you think I should do?”

“Do you think you could possibly cut back to an album every two years? And maybe, oh I don’t know, a lot less touring?”

Owen shrugged. “I don’t know. I still have a lot of music in me. There is stuff that I have written, that I haven’t even recorded yet. At least ten albums worth.”

“If you have that much material, you can live almost forever without ever writing another song. All I’m asking is for some of your time.”

“Okay. I’ll discuss it with the rest of the band.”

“Honestly father, I don’t think they are going to care. Alex, Jeff, and Kenny are going through almost what you are. They are wealthy, and they all have families,” Cai said.

“Maybe Cai is right,” Caron added. “It’s possible that they can cut back without having to worry about much.”

“That is why I love you all so much. You look after me. In our meeting this morning, I will tell them that this is what I’m going to do.”

An hour after breakfast, Scott showed up ready for their meeting. The entire band was there ready for what they thought was going to be their next assignment.

Scott looked around the room at the men he’d had a relationship with for a very long time. He did everything he could to remain the same in their eyes, without showing the true sadness that he had in his heart.

“Well fellas here we are. We’ve been together for a long time. We’ve had nothing but hit after hit. I’m proud of you. But I brought you all together today to say one thing and one thing only,” Scott said pausing for a long time. “I’m retiring gents.”

Everyone’s mouth dropped.

“Scott you can’t,” Owen said. “You are the only one that knows what we want and how to explain it to the label.”

Scott shook his head. “No, the label now knows that you are seasoned artists, and you will give them exactly what they ask for.”

“Have you spoken with Bernard?” Isaias asked.

“Yeah. I even offered him my job, but he turned me down. I understand his position. He said he was sorry that he couldn’t be here today, but his other artists have other engagements. He promised to see you when he gets back to town.”

Smoke couldn’t believe it. “We’re sorry to see to go man.”

“I’m sorry to have to go. Between your band and Lillian and the girls, you all have made me wealthy monetarily and emotionally. Owen, I have your mother to thank for that though. Had she not seen your frustration, she wouldn’t have risked our relationship to save you.”

“I’m sorry what?”

“I thought you knew about your mother and me.”

“You are a friend of a friend right?”

“That is how we met. But as soon as I saw your mother, I had to know her. Soon enough I learned about her bad marriage, and we became lovers.”

Owen was shocked. “Oh you can’t be for real.”

“Nadia and I have been lovers for over twenty years.”

“Does my father know?”

“That is something that you are going to have to discuss with her. I won’t go into any more detail. Anyway, I will still be around if you all need to talk.”

The seven men sat around and looked at each other for a moment. It had been one hell of a ride for each of them. They were happy that they were successful. All of them knew that if they didn’t have hooked up with Owen, so many years ago, they never would’ve made it.

Owen sighed. “Wow. I thought I was going to be the bearer of bad news today.”

Everyone in the room listened intently. “And that means what?” Isaias asked.

“Desi and the kids want more of my time. It’s time we renegotiated our contract with the label. They want me to cut back on recording and touring.”

Alex let out a relieved sigh. “Thank God.”

Jeff laughed. “Michelle still giving you shit?”

“Man you have no idea what it is like having four kids. Hell, they are almost as spoiled as Owen’s kids are. Not to mention my Michelle is rotten as hell herself. So this is a good thing.”

Isaias nodded. “I agree. It’s time I slowed down as well.”

“So what does cutting back and slowing down mean exactly?” Kenny asked.

“One album every two years, and going on tour maybe three months out of the year instead of six.”

“I don’t think the label would have a problem with that. You all are so popular your fans can wait every two years for one album. But you know it will have to be a banger for that to happen.”

Owen smiled. “You know we can do it.”

“All right then. When Bernard gets back in town, we’ll have a meeting and talk about the terms of the new contract. After that deal is done, so am I.”

Owen nodded. “Done.”

Isaias stood. “Well, I have to get to my nine to five. I have an eleven o’clock meeting.”

“Yeah. I have to be at the vineyard in Oregon by noon.”

Scott nodded. “Meeting adjourned.”

When everyone left, Owen thought that Scott’s news was the freaky feeling he’d had, but it had not gone away. He still brushed it off, and went on with his day. He met his brother in Oregon and they did what they’d planned to do. The last thing on the agenda was to discuss hiring a new VP of Ops.

“Any ideas?” Owen asked.

“None.”

“Oh come on bro. We went through this process forever ago. You have to know what you’re looking for.”

“I guess what I’m looking for is another Stephanie, but a way younger version.”

“Why younger?”

“If this business is going to survive us and your children, they have to be at least in their early thirties.”

“How old was Stephanie when we hired her?”

“I think she was something like forty-two. This time I want someone we can teach. Before, we were in a hurry, so we needed someone that knew what we did. We have time now, so we should approach it as such.”

“Does father have a say in this?”

“No.”

“He’s not going to like it.”

“So what. As long as we follow his instructions on what to plant, when and where, we can do this.”

“I plan to be around more now anyway.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I’m going to slow down on the music, so I will have time to train my own assistant VP.”

“Your decision?”

Owen chuckled. “You know it wasn’t. Desi and the kids ganged up on me.”

James laughed. “Well it’s about time. What do you say we call father and let him know.”

“All right.”

When they got off the phone with Richard, it was time to call it a night.

“James, I’m going to the house now. I’m beat. Yesterday was extremely long, and I hardly got any sleep.”

“All right. See you in the morning. A couple more days, and we should be finished here, and I can get back to France.”

“All right. In the morning.”

Owen and James took care of everything they’d planned to do over the next couple of days. Before Owen got on his plane, he made sure to call his mother, and let her know that he was coming home. He called Desiree to tell her to be dressed and ready for his homecoming. He had something special planned just for her.

“Hey baby.”

Desiree’s smile, felt over the phone. “Hey.”

“I’m sorry that I have neglected you. I’m going to take you out on the town tonight. I want you to be beautiful.”

“What time should I be ready?”

“I’m on United flight 6082 and I land at 5:27. Have Nigel there waiting for me.”

“Won’t you have to shower?”

“No baby. I’ll be clean, fresh, and pressed, looking good just for you. I’m wearing my black pen striped Armani. You just be ready.”

“I love you, Owen Thomas.”

“And I love you. Goodbye baby.”

“See you when you get home.”

Owen hung up the phone, and suddenly the feeling that he had all week had suddenly disappeared. Maybe his instincts were trying to tell him that he just had to spend some quality time with his wife. He smiled and began to get ready to go to the airport. When he got there, he called Isaias just to chat before he got on the plane. Then his flight number was called.

“Hey man, I’ve gotta go. I’ll be home in a couple of hours.”

“All right.”

Those were the last words that Isaias heard Owen speak. In a horrific crash reminiscent of Chicago’s flight 191, Owen and two hundred other passengers were gone in a puff of smoke. The friendship that they shared for thirty years was suddenly over.

Everyone that was close to Owen was busy doing something at the time, so no one knew what happened. It was breaking news on every local channel and cable news channel. It was plastered on every front page of every internet provider, and announced by every radio DJ yet no one knew. It was Isaias that was first to be informed. He was in a meeting, when his assistant interrupted.

“I’m sorry for interrupting your meeting, Mr. Reynolds,” Sarah said. “But can I see you privately for a moment?”

Isaias saw the concern in her eyes. “Will you all excuse me?” Isaias got up and stepped outside the conference room. “What’s the matter?”

“I know you told me to let you know when it was six o’clock because you needed to leave.”

“Yes I did, but it is no where near six yet.”

“I just heard on the radio that a plane leaving Oregon headed for L.A. crashed soon after take off, and there were no survivors.”

Still not making the connection. “Okay, so it’s only ten after three.”

“I know that you wanted to leave by six so that you could go see Mr. Thomas.”

“Like I said it’s only-”

Isaias suddenly realized what Sarah was trying to tell him. There was a slight chance that his best friend could be dead.

“Sarah, try to get Mr. Thomas on the phone for me.”

Sarah couldn’t hold back her sadness. “I have. No answer.”

Isaias suddenly began to panic. “All right. Take the rest of the day off. I’m closing the office.”

“Yes sir.”

Isaias went back into the conference room. “Ladies and gentlemen, I know we have lots to discuss, but there may be an emergency. Meeting adjourned until I find out what’s going on. I’m closing the office for the day. Everyone send your staff home, and you go home as well. Have a good day.”

Isaias was out of the office in a flash of light. He turned on the radio in his car to hear the news for himself. The crash was on every station. He called Whitney.

“Hey honey turn on the television.”

“Okay, what’s going on?”

“Just turn it on,” Isaias insisted.

Whitney turned on the television. She then saw what Isaias was listening to on the radio.

“There was a plane crash in Oregon, so?”

“Owen was leaving Oregon today. I just talked to him about forty-five minutes ago. He was at the airport when he called me.”

“You don’t think he was on that plane do you?”

“Sarah tried to call him, and there was no answer.”

Whitney’s hand instinctively went to her mouth. “Oh God no.”

“Baby, call Desiree, then Nadia. Someone knows his flight number, and what time he was supposed to land. I’m on my way home now. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”

“At this time of day you will never get here in fifteen minutes.”

“Watch me.”

“Be careful.”

“I will. If you get some news before I get there call me, please.”

“I will.”

Whitney did as Isaias asked. She called Desiree first. Desiree saw Whitney’s number on her caller id. She immediately started talking without letting Whitney get in a word.

“Girl, you will never guess what I’m doing tonight. My darling husband is taking out for a night on the town. He didn’t say what he had planned, but I’m sure that it will lead up to some mind-blowing sex. We haven’t had a minute alone in months.”

“Desi,” Whitney said attempting to interrupt.

“The kids are off showing off their cars with their friends, and I’m sure that we will…”

“Desi!”

“Yes, what is it?”

“Do you know what flight Owen is on and when he’s supposed to land?”

“Yeah, why?’

“Turn on the television.”

“I don’t have time for TV. I have to get ready for my date.”

“Damn it, just turn it on!”

Desiree turned on the television. What she heard next almost made her heart stop. The reporter was standing in the airport making the announcement. “Just about an hour ago United flight 6082 from Portland Oregon crashed to the ground just minutes after take off, and exploded. At this time it seems that there were no survivors…”

Desiree sank to the floor. She knew then that the only man she’d ever loved was not coming home ever again.

“Desi talk to me.” There was no answer. “Desiree! Talk to me sweetie!” Whitney yelled into the phone.

The line went dead. Whitney had her answer. She immediately called Isaias.

“What’s up?”

“Baby, don’t come home. Go to Desi right now.”

“Why?”

“Because I believe she’s gonna need us. I’m leaving right now. I’ll see you there.”

“I’m on my way.”

Isaias got off the freeway at the first exit he could. He rushed to Owen’s house trying not to get into any accidents on the way. He picked up his phone and called Nadia.

“Hello?”

“Nadia, this is Isaias. Sorry to bother you, but you have to get to Owen’s right away.”

“Why? What’s going on?”

“There has been an accident.”

“What kind of accident?”

“There was a plane crash in Oregon. I have a good reason to believe Owen was on that plane.”

Nadia didn’t even bother acknowledging that she heard him. Her line went dead. Isaias got to Owen’s house ten minutes after Whitney. When he arrived, he found his wife and his other best friend hugging each other in tears. When he looked at Whitney, she only nodded. Isaias was suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling of great loss, but he had to make more phone calls.

“Are the kids here?”

Whitney shook her head. Isaias called Cai.

“Talk to me Uncle Isaias.”

“Cai, gather up your sister and get home right now. Your father has been in an accident.”

“Yes sir.”

Cai called his sister. “Sis, father has been in an accident. We have to get home right now.”

“What happened?”

“I don’t know. Isaias just called and said to get home now.”

“All right I’m on my way.”

Hoping and wishing it wasn’t true, Isaias called Smoke. “Where are you?”

“I’m at home, why?”

“You have to come to Owen’s right now. If Brenda and Kevlyn are at home, they have to get here as well.”

“What’s the urgency I hear in your voice man, what’s going on?”

“Call the rest of the band, because I just can’t right now.”

“Isaias, what in the hell is going on?”

“Owen is dead.”


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