Charles & Claire Ch. 20bySchuppinzigh©
"Charles, I'm so glad you waited for us to get home this morning to continue. Some of us haven't heard parts of this story in quite some time, Hubby," Claire said to me.
Kalista added, "Yeah, Loverboy -- All the stuff leading up to, and including you adopting me, some of that's kind of a blur."
"Claire and Kalista, settle down. Mom, Sarah, Mike and Rose all want to hear this too -- who wants to be on my lap this morning?" I questioned.
"Me, Daddy," Kalista was quick to respond.
"You know I never expected you to call me Daddy or Dad or Father, Kalista? You just kept insisting, so Claire and I adopted you, so climb on up and listen quietly, I don't want to have to spank you young lady."
I woke up, my face hurt, my legs hurt, but I was satisfied. The 'date' went better then I'd hoped. The offer from Michael Bublé was overwhelming, and the ramifications of it are equally wide-ranging.
My idiot father could decide, anytime, to stop sending us any money at all. Granted we could take him to court, but in the meantime, we could be in real trouble, financially speaking. That's just one of the reasons to think about this tour of Michael's.
I got up and took a hot shower, purging thoughts of my despicable father from my brain, as best I could. After changing into something presentable, I walked to the top of the stairs, hearing a number of voices coming from downstairs? Oh goody, another dream... just what the doctor ordered. I wonder whom I'm married to in this one - Sarah?
I walked downstairs and saw my group of ladies, Daniel and... and Michael Bublé? I've got to admit, for a dream, this one's starting out pretty cool.
"It's about time you got up, sleepyhead," Claire's voice said. "Come sit by me." I scooted in between her and Kalista.
"So, what's happening here?" I asked.
"Charles," mom said. "Sarah called Daniel... and Michael, Mr. Bublé, showed up about thirty minutes ago. Believe it or not, we're discussing a deal."
"Charles," Michael said, getting up and shaking my hand, "Nice to see you this morning. Your Mom, along with Sarah and Daniel, talked me into coming by, and sitting down and discussing in greater detail, the offer from last night. Sit down, take a load off."
Oh Wow, this isn't a dream -- focus, Charles. Take a deep breath.
I didn't sit down. "What offer is on the table?" I asked. "For the three of us to give up our amateur status, I'd guess the ante's been raised?"
Mom, Claire and Sarah looked at me, realizing I'd started a negotiation with Michael Bublé. Daniel kept quiet, but was watching carefully.
"Well, son -- Charles, putting it that way, I'd have to raise my initial offer from $5,000 a week each, for the three of you, to... $10,000 a week for Charles & Claire each, plus $8,000 a week for Kallie. You'd be under contract for eighteen months, starting Labor Day Weekend."
Everyone went quiet.
I asked, "Would we maintain complete creative control of our dances?"
I saw Michael squirming in his seat.
I walked over and stood behind my mother, putting my hands on her shoulders. She reached back and put her hand on mine.
At that point I said, "Here is our 'only' counter-offer, Mr. Bublé, considering we'd be giving up, not only our amateur status, but the opportunity to dance in the Olympics, which could happen within the next sixteen years, according to the World Dance Council Website. I promised my mother that I'd win the Gold Medal for her, one day." I squeezed her hand and she squeezed back.
A single tear came down my face.
Moving forward, I added, "One year contract, $15,000 a week each for myself, Claire and Kalista - Plus, $45,000 upfront, as a signing bonus within the next forty-eight hours. We'll provide our own travel arrangements, provided you keep us up to date with a detailed daily, weekly and/or monthly itinerary, that includes all pertinent information. This offer is on the table for the next fifteen minutes. I'll consider your handshake - your promise!"
I turned and walked off, into the kitchen. Claire and Annie followed me in. After the door closed, Annie came up to me and quietly asked, "Did the World Dance Council really release that statement, Charles?"
"Mom," I said, breaking into a great big smile. "Being mad at Dad really does have its benefits, doesn't it? Do you think I oversold it?"
Claire said, "That bit about promising Annie the Gold Medal was inspirational, X." She gave me a peck on the lips - then wiped it off.
Annie mentioned, "The tear was a nice touch, Charles."
"Yeah," Claire said. "Where did you go to bring that up?"
"My love for all of my girls filled me with emotion, I was unable to completely suppress," I responded with a devilish smile.
I watched the clock in the kitchen, five minutes passed... ten minutes... then I heard a voice from the living room, "Charles, please come back in?" It was Michael.
The three of us all walked back in, the girls sitting down; Michael was standing up. I saw Daniel looking back and forth at the two of us.
"In light of your counter offer, I'll have to say, 'You've got yourself a deal!' Your Mother will have to co-sign any contract, due to your being fourteen."
"Excuse me for a minute Michael," I said walking over to Claire's father.
"Sir, Claire my girlfriend and your daughter, along with Kalista, my soul mate and I, really want to do this. You can stop this deal, if you so choose. I'll bear you no ill will if you do - however, this is the opportunity of a lifetime for the three of us."
"As my likely Father-in-law someday, I offer you this promise: Ab-so-lute-ly no hanky-panky of any kind will occur on this tour."
"With Annie and Sarah going along on this tour, as mothers, managers, public relations, tutors, referees and chaperones; they can verify that up to this date in time, nothing other then kissing has occurred between myself, your daughter and Kalista."
I turned to each of the girls and they stood up and made the same promise to Daniel. Then, Annie and Sarah came up on either side of me, and promised they'd expect the same high standards that they've observed to date.
Sarah walked up to her husband and spoke to him in hushed tones for a couple of minutes, then Daniel came over to me, shook my hand, and said, "I'm worried about Kalista's education, Charles; but Sarah tells me you had a system for getting as smart as you are. She plans on implementing it with Kalista during her time away from school."
"Good luck to you all, on this most perilous sounding adventure you're all going on. Both Sarah and I'll sign whatever's necessary, when the appropriate papers have been drawn up."
Michael stood back up and shook my hand, then my mother's, and then Sarah and Daniel's, saying, "We've got a deal, Charles. You'll get the paperwork to sign with-in the next four days, and your signing bonus, I'm going to increase to $60,000, because I believe that you're the finest young man I've met, bar none. Is that all right?"
Michael leaned into me and said, loud enough for all to hear, "I admire you and your high ethics, young man. I'd proudly sing at your wedding, when the time comes." His eyes were now moistening.
"Thank you Michael, it has been a pleasure meeting you, dancing for you, and now, working for you - But not until Labor Day Weekend. Charles & Claire have to plan a 'Retirement Tour,' don't we ladies?"
Claire and Kalista giggled and came up to me and we all hugged.
"Michael," I added, "Could we get a copy of all your recorded music, please? That'd give us something of a running start for Labor Day."
"Sure Charles, anything for my new Dance Act," he said with a smile. "I can also accommodate most of the music you've previously used, so you don't have to learn quite so many new routines right away. Bye everybody."
We all said our goodbyes to Michael; he left, and I finally felt like I could breathe again. Daniel came over to me and said, "Charles, that was the finest bargaining I've seen, since I asked Sarah to marry me, twenty-eight years ago."
That caused everyone to laugh loudly, of course Mom snorted a little, but we've started to get used to that by now.
Daniel left, after giving both Sarah and Annie an extended hug.
"So, math guy," Annie said. "Exactly how much did you just get for the three of you?"
"Is it OK to mention this in front of everyone, Annie... Sarah?" I asked.
"Sure!" each of them said.
"Well, for working between Labor Day this year and Labor Day next year, which is 366 days, Claire, Kalista and I'll make right around a total of just under $785,000 each, or $2,200 a day, each. Can we get a slightly used eight seat van using the signing bonus, Sarah?"
"Did you say $2,200 for each of us, a day, Charles?" Claire said. She came at me and gave me a real knock-your-socks-off kiss that apparently Annie and Sarah approved of.
Sarah responded, "Charles, I'm certain we could a get a real nice twelve-seat van, possibly a motor home, using that money along with Charles & Claire's notoriety. I'd think, if we get the right dealership, we could get a vehicle donated to us, for a year - no expense except insurance and gas. When we must travel by plane, we go commercial, with a van rental on the other side."
"Charles," Kalista finally asked. "I don't understand about big amounts of money really well. Could you please explain to me a little better how much money that is we're getting?"
"OK, Princess... how many days in a week?" I asked.
"Seven - I'm not stupid, Charles." This made everyone chuckle.
"I know Princess, if you spent $100 dollars a day, what would you spend in a week?"
"$700 dollars," K answered.
"Perfect, now if you spent $200 dollars a day, how much money would that be?"
"2 times 700, or $14 hundred dollars a week," Kalista bragged.
"Perfect again, $300 dollars a day?"
"3 times 700, or $21 hundred dollars a week."
"OK, K, now - we've spent twenty-one hundred dollars in one week. Spending three hundred dollars a day. Could you spend that much money in a day, Princess?" I asked.
"Gosh, no Charles, unless Claire and I went shopping for clothes and shoes together." There was a group chuckle... and a snort.
I didn't really mean to, but I'd drawn everyone in, helping K to understand this principle regarding money.
"OK, then Princess, you spent all that money; now, how much do you get for the next week?"
"Twenty-one hundred dollars," she said beaming.
"Exactly, well this money deal we just did, will give you, that twenty-one hundred dollars, every day, to spend on clothes and shoes, with Claire."
"That's a lot of clothes and shoes, Charles," K said straight-faced.
All the ladies laughed at this wonderfully simple statement about spending money.
"I don't know about anybody else, but I'm terribly hungry," I said. "Can we go get some food and come back and dance? My feet don't like standing still, especially with all these hot babes standing around me."
That got me a slap on the chest from Sarah, a slap on the back of my head from Annie, a tweak on my ear lobe from Kalista; along with a giggle, and a rock-em sock-em kiss, from Claire.
After eating lunch at the nearest Dairy Queen, we all came back and settled in.
"Annie, when is the next event for Charles & Claire?" I asked.
"Well, on Tuesday you have Cotillion, then a Competition on the Saturday after that. Then Cotillion again on the following Tuesday, a Competition on that following Friday. That's the next two weeks, Honey-Buns," mom said with a flirty smile.
"Kalista, at our Final Competition, just before we go professional working for Michael Bublé; If Claire and I win that Competition, I'd love to do the encore piece with you, to 'Lady in Red,' with you wearing that beautiful dress you wore last night."
"Sure Charles, whenever you want to make that routine, I'm ready," said Kalista, looking straight into my eyes, heart and soul.
"I thought we were going to make a routine to that number 'Saying Goodbye,' Charles?" Claire said.
"We are, Claire-Bear, its just going to be the comp routine and not the encore routine," I said.
I'm not sure why, but I saw Claire coming at me with both lips on high-alert; nobody was stopping her, and she practically knocked me over, getting her lips on mine.
If we hadn't been in front of everybody else, I might've let myself go, but I needed to be in full control, of all regions of my body.
After the kiss was over, Claire leaned in and asked, "Who told you that was my nick-name as a little girl; Sarah? Daniel? Maybe Josiah?"
"What are you talking about?" I asked, dumbfounded.
"You just called me Claire-Bear, and I'm asking - Who told you?"
Chuckling I said, "Nobody told me that was your nickname, Claire-Bear -- it just seemed to just come out of my mouth - you like it?"
"I love it, and I love you." Another kiss, although not quite as hot as the first one.
I came up from this dazed and confused, smiling and in need of something to drink. I looked up and saw K, Sarah and Annie all laughing and crying at the same time. Of course Annie let loose a couple of her patented snorts, which of course, starting everything all over again.
"OK, gang -- Competition in five days, I think we should scrub all of our music and routines, except the two just mentioned, and go out and find something unique for these last few months of Amateur Competition."
"We also need to get from Michael a copy of all of his music. Sarah, could you follow up on that please? I'd ask Annie to do it, but I won't be there to catch her swooning over him the next time."
"Hardy-har-har, Charles. It was the alcohol, not Michael that made me faint. It'd been a long time since I'd had champagne," she giggled.
"I understand, Annie - if that's your story, then stick with it," I said with a big smirk on my face.
"All new music, Charles?" Kalista said. "But we still had some music we'd never performed?"
"Just a minute K. Mom do you think we should let Jimmy know right away, or could we wait until the night of Cotillion?"
"I think the sooner the better we tell Jimmy, along with all the Newman's, McArthurs, Charles and Williams," mom responded.
I wondered, "Sarah, how soon, could there be scheduled a massive BBQ, inviting the all the families that my beautiful mother just mentioned?
"Oh, Charles... Daniel will love you for this, how about Sunday? That's in three days; soon enough for you, X?"
I started, "Absotively ..."
"Posilutely," they all said together in response, laughing it up a bit.
"Do we need to notify the NDCA, Mom?" I asked.
"I don't see why, Charles -- Unless you want to, as a courtesy to them," Annie said.
"I think I do, Annie. It feels like the right thing to do, and you always told me that what feels right, is right." I found myself tearing up for no good reason.
Sarah came up to me and gave me a real big hug from behind me. "Loverboy, you really are unique in this world of people who are only out for themselves." I blushed at her kind words.
"Princess, I'm sorry I got so far off track. The reason I want all new music, is because we've shown our hand to the other NDCA dancers, and now I want to change it up, and be maybe quasi-traditional, until our Swan Song routines in late August."
Sarah jumped in, "Charles, why don't you use the dances you've pegged for the next Competition? Then, that gives you almost eleven days to dump and retool for your 'Retirement Tour' as you called it."
"Exactly what was my last list of routines, Annie?" I asked, embarrassed that I had to ask.
"At your last Competition, you're list prior to it, was 'At This Moment,' 'Sway' and 'What a Wonderful World;' encore was slated to be 'Six-Pack,'" Annie responded.
Claire said, "We used 'At This Moment,' along with 'Hate on Me' for your and Kalista's encore."
"OK, Thank you. Our 'A' routine is going to be our new and improved Quickstep, to a brand new version of 'Putting on the Ritz.' 'B' is 'Sway,' which I want to adjust and 'C,' if needed, will be 'What a Wonderful World.' Our 'A' Encore is 'What a Wonderful World,' 'B' Encore is 'Six-Pack.'"
Claire, and the rest of them, loved my new version of 'Putting on the Ritz,' by a large acapella group called Masters of Harmony. After practicing that and the rest of our upcoming competitions music for forty-five minutes or so, I smelled something wonderful coming from the kitchen.
I saw Sarah, Annie and K bringing out some tacos. I escorted Claire to the table, getting the chair for both her and her mother, and then I sat down.
Kalista was sitting next to Annie as we dug into the food, barely leaving any leftovers.
"Sarah," I asked between bites. "Your help in getting all of those cameras, NBC and such, to the Palace Restaurant makes me wonder if we shouldn't release a statement very soon about the three of us going on tour with Michael Bublé. Maybe mention The Bradshaw Family Cotillion and the NDCA, just to make everybody happy. It could mention something about dancing in general. I think we've an opportunity, if not a responsibility, to promote dancing as a source of fun and entertainment."
"That's an outstanding idea, Charles. I'll work on that and have something to look at within the next hour or so," Sarah replied.
"Princess, do you want to work on our 'Lady in Red' routine for a bit tonight? I see it as a Slow Samba," I asked, seeing her eyes light up with my request.
"Sure Loverboy," Kalista responded with glee.
"After that, Claire-Bear, you want to work on our 'private number?'" I asked.
"Sure Loverboy," Claire answered.
We all got up and cleared our stuff to the kitchen, and K ran to her go-bag to put on her dancing shoes.
Annie came up to me and said, quietly, "Sarah and I vouched for you today, Charles -- So be gentle with your dancing partners, OK?"
"Mom, after all I've said today, you think I'm going to let anything happen now. We still need to practice, and I'm not changing how I talk to or dance with anybody. It's gotten me this far, I can keep things from escalating - I have to."
"In less than three months, the five of us will be traveling together, rehearsing, living, eating and sleeping together; don't look at me like that, you know what I mean; and we'll maintain a moral distance when not dancing, but when we're dancing, it may be literally cheek to cheek."
"I need you and Sarah to keep things going, when things stall, and keep us on task, so we don't miss a thing while we're tooling around the country in a Winnebago or whatever it is we get."
"But, please remember, if I go 'off the reservation,' feel free to whack me on the side of the head, OK?" I said.
I turned to Kalista and I felt a thump. I turned back to Annie who was grinning and said, "Just checking, Loverboy."
Sarah came from behind and gave me a big hug saying, "Can I hit you too, Loverboy?"
I leaned back into her... bounty, and said, "You can hit me anytime I see you, Sweet-Lips?" That surprised her, so she thwacked me on the top of my head with her purse, but giggled nonetheless.
"Princess, you ready?" I said, rubbing the top of my head as I went.
After going through all the previous Samba steps we'd covered, I decided to crank up the difficulty; I showed K the Criss-Cross Boto Fogos, which she got on the first try. I also added the Criss-Cross Voltas, and even Claire saw how easily K had picked up those steps.
It was time to put the routine together, so I nodded to Claire to start the song, 'Lady in Red,' covered by the Countdown Singers;
"Yes, I am, X."