Louise Ch. 12bykalamazoo707©
Everyone with the exception of Gene was openly impressed with the jet. True to his word, their escort to the jet introduced Victor to the pilots who were more than happy to show him the cockpit of the jet. For once, Victor was speechless as he looked at all of the controls longing to touch them.
"Come on up here little man!" the pilot named Bruce said with a smile. "You can't see anything from back there!"
Victor started to go, and then stopped to look back at Juliette.
"Mom?" he asked begging with his eyes.
"Just don't touch anything." Juliette said her throat tight. She wiped away a tear as she watched Victor's excitement at being in the cockpit of a real jet. She looked back at Celeste who was still in Leon's arms. Her eyes were glued on the pilots and when Bruce turned to look at her, she smiled.
Juliette almost fainted. Celeste rarely smiled and when she did, Louise or Leon were usually somewhere near by.
"Aren't you a cutie pie?" Bruce asked and winked at her.
Celeste responded by smiling again and hiding her face in Leon's shoulder.
Wanda seemed as intrigued by the pilots as Celeste had been. Ben, the co-pilot looked at her and smiled.
"Would you like to see too?"
Wanda didn't waste anytime in going up to the cockpit.
"This is so cool!" she said as she looked at all of the controls wondering what their functions were.
"Ok," Bruce announced, "time to get buckled in so we can take off on time."
"I'll show you to your seats." a soft female voice said.
They turned to face the speaker.
"My name is Dee, and I'll be taking care of your needs during the flight. If you will follow me."
"Damn!" Leon said, and then whistled as he looked around the cabin of the plane.
"You can sit anywhere you like but the seats to the left have DVD players and movies for both children and adults." Dee said. "Once we take off and the seatbelt sign is turned off you may leave your seats to use the restroom which is located in the back inside of the small bedroom to the left. There is also one across the aisle from the bedroom. I will also be offering beverages and sandwiches when the seatbelt light goes off."
Dee went through the emergency exit, oxygen and floatation device spiel before asking them to buckle up.
"Oh, and please no electronic devices or cell phones for the time being."
She smiled at Leon who was taking pictures of the jet and frowned at Gene. Her dislike of him had been instant and strong. As she passed by Juliette who was now holding Celeste in her lap, she stopped and knelt down beside her.
"Do you think that you can be a big girl and sit in the seat next to your mommy?"
Celeste hesitated, and for the third time that night smiled.
"I thought so." Dee said smiling at her.
A few minutes later, they were all strapped in and preparing for takeoff. Victor leaned over as far as he could so that he could see as they left the ground.
"Mom!" he called out excitedly, "This is awesome!"
Juliette could only smile as she tried to ignore her queasy stomach. She hated flying.
"Here's an icepack for your neck." Dee said. "You're looking a little green."
"Thanks... how long until we land?" Juliet asked.
"A few hours." Dee replied. "If you'd like to lie down, I can watch the children."
"Sure you could" Leon chimed in. "I'm here too. Go on, me and Gene got this."
"Ok... but call me if you need anything." Juliette said getting out of her seat as soon as the seat belt light went off.
Juliette was waiting for Celeste to start crying, and was surprised when she didn't. She looked back to see Celeste sitting next to Dee looking at a book.
Leon got up and sat next to Gene who was looking at the proposals he planned to present to Patrick and Nathan.
"They did good didn't they?" he asked.
"It's alright." Gene grumbled.
"Alright?" Leon asked. "This is fucking awesome!" he exclaimed, and then looked around to see if the kids heard him curse. "What are you working on? I thought you were suspended." he said when he noticed the open folder.
"Just some proposals." Gene replied evasively.
"Proposals for....you're joking right?" Leon asked. "Please tell me that you aren't using our sisters' wedding to get their husbands to invest with you."
"What if I am?" Gene asked defensively. "Who knows when I'll get another chance like this? It could get me out of the hole and a promotion!"
"But at their wedding? What the fuck is wrong with you? This isn't a time for business! Now put that shit away and don't bring it up!"
"You can't tell me what to do!" Gene hissed.
"No? Then let me tell you this, if I even hear a hint about proposals I'll kick your ass." Leon said. "If you were really interested in them as clients, why didn't you call them before this? I think that instead of seeing this as a good time, you're seeing it as dollar signs."
"You don't know what you're talking about..."
"Look, I know that you've had it rough since Dana left, and god knows it's been hard losing mom and dad but Gene its time to man up and move on. I know that it'll be hard but using your sisters isn't the way to do it...."
"I'm not ..."
"The hell you aren't! You want what you want without working for it. Why did you get suspended?" Leon asked. "Let me guess, they told you about yourself and you blew up. Am I right?"
Gene didn't reply.
"So what have you been doing besides trying to find a way to take advantage of our sisters? Have you taken advantage of your company's EPA program?" Leon pressed.
"What?" Gene snapped. "Do you think that you know it all because you climbed out of the ashes? Fuck you Leon and leave me the hell alone!"
Gene had raised his voice without being aware of it. It wasn't until he felt Dee's cold stare that he realized how loud he had gotten.
"Sorry." he muttered and turned away.
Leon looked at Gene, shook his head and moved away.
Four hours later, they were buckled in for the descent into LAX. Gene kept to himself, but everyone else was beyond excited. The folders containing the proposals were out of sight but not out of mind.
As with the takeoff, Victor's face was pressed against the window. This time he was watching as they approached the ground. He yelped with delight when the wheels touched the runway with barely a bump.
"I want to learn how to do that!" he exclaimed while his face was still pressed against the window.
"We've reached our destination." Dee said with a warm smile. "I will be escorting you to the terminal where someone will be waiting to take you to your hotel. Don't worry if something is left behind, it will be returned to you. Shall we go?"
Everyone with the exception of Gene started to disembark. He was still fuming at the confrontation with Leon. Too much of what Leon said had hit home, and Gene suspected that he hadn't said half of what he really wanted to say. He stood up when he realized that the others were waiting for him, and that Dee's icy blue eyes were on him.
By the time he reached the front of the plane, the pilots had come out of the cockpit.
"I hope that you had an enjoyable flight." Ben said.
"It was awesome!" Victor exclaimed.
"I'm glad that you enjoyed it." Ben replied. "We've got something for you." he said reaching behind him.
He handed Victor a small box.
"Go on, open it." he urged.
Victor looked at Juliette for permission, and opened the box when she indicated that it was all right. His eyes widened and a smile broke out on his face making his normally deep dimples even deeper.
"Mom! Look!" he said as he took a set of wings out of the box. They were the exact replicas of the ones that Bruce and Ben were wearing. "Thank you." he whispered as he held the wings reverently in his hands.
"You're welcome. Maybe you'll get a real set someday." Ben replied.
As Juliette passed the pilots, she stopped.
"Thank you for making him happy, he'll never forget this."
"You're very welcome." Bruce replied answering for himself and Ben.
Wanda was next in thanking the pilots, and then Leon with Celeste.
"Cool ride." Leon said and extended his hand to each pilot.
"No problem." Bruce replied and then turned his attention to Celeste. "Be good cutie pie."
"Bye." Celeste said softly.
When Gene passed by, he got and gave a curt nod.
Leon hung back waiting for him.
"Dude, check your attitude." he said in a low voice. "You're showing your ass."
"Bad word!" Celeste said softly.
"Sorry baby girl." Leon said and kissed her on the cheek."
Louise and Kevyn waited nervously for the plane to land, and for everyone to get to the vehicles.
"I wish that Barb would have come." Louise said.
"Maybe its better that she didn't." Kevyn said thinking about how Barb would have reacted when she saw the jet. Then she realized that she had only delayed the reaction. She would find out soon enough that Patrick had sent the family's private jet after them.
"Shit." she muttered under her breath and then "the hell with it." as she realized that they were in a lose-lose situation. An excited shout made her forget about Barb.
"Auntie Kev!" Wanda shouted as soon as she saw her.
Lou and Kevyn looked up to see Wanda and Victor running toward them leaving the adults and Celeste behind. Nathan and Patrick hung back to let the family greet each other before moving toward them. They watched as their mates hugged and greeted their family.
"What's the deal with that one?" Nathan asked when he saw Gene lagging behind the rest of the group.
"That would be Gene." Patrick said. "He's got a chip on his shoulder that weighs more than he does."
Nathan eyed Gene for several seconds.
"He isn't gifted."
"How do you know?" Patrick asked.
"The other male is like Louise, the adult female is gifted, but only slightly...She is more intuitive but not empathic. The boy is... I don't know about him, the older girl is extremely bright, but I'm not sure about her either. The little one is also like Louise but more sensitive." Nathan said not answering Patrick's question. "Of the three children, she is the one that has missed Louise the most."
"Nathan, how do you know this?" Patrick asked again.
"I don't know... Louise would be my guess." Nathan replied.
Kevyn looked back and motioned for Patrick and Nathan to join them.
"You know Leon, Juliette and Gene." she said. "The three rug rats belong to Juliette. The oldest is Wanda who we call Wannie, the young man is Victor and the little sweetheart is Celeste."
Nathan smiled at each of the children who smiled back.
It was Louise's turn. She held on to Nathan's hand as she made the introductions. When she reached Gene, her eyes lingered on his. She felt his anger, disappointments and insecurities but also knew that he didn't want help. She turned her gaze to Celeste who returned her gaze and then smiled.
Louise held out her arms to the girl who quickly wiggled out of Leon's arms and ran to her. As soon as she reached her, Celeste threw herself into Louise's arms.
"Hi baby, I've missed you." Louise said hugging Celeste so tight that she squirmed.
Gene stood back and felt the same emotions that he felt when he first met Patrick. Jealousy because Patrick and his nephew had what he craved- true power. Anger because another one of his siblings had gotten what he had always wanted with seemingly no effort on her part.
He felt a chill run down his spine when he realized that Nathan was staring at him. He took a step back when Nathan moved forward next to Louise, and put an arm protectively around her. The thought that these people were no one to fuck with crossed his mind.
Louise, sensing the tension between Gene and Nathan intervened.
"I'm glad that you could make it."
"Yeah, me too." Gene replied trying to sound sincere.
"Why don't we get going?" Kevyn said. We'll get you checked in and there's food waiting."
A few minutes later, they were in a large van headed toward the hotel.
"Is it legal to have the windows this dark?" Leon asked as he tried to see out.
The driver didn't answer but lowered the windows so that they could see out. Wanda was quiet as she watched the palm trees as they drove by. She hoped that a visit to the zoo was a part of the trip. Before long, they were at the hotel and getting out of the van.
Two staff people chosen to be their liaisons for the duration of their stay greeted them at the door.
"Hello and welcome! My name is Sasha and this Franklin. We will be your personal attendants during your stay. Franklin will be available in the evenings from six pm to five am and I will be available from five am to six pm. If you need anything at all please feel free to call us at the number that we will be giving to you when we get you checked in."
At this point Franklin took over.
"As Sasha said, my name is Franklin. I won't repeat what she said except to say that we are at your disposal. Gentlemen and ladies, if you like sports I would be more than happy to see what teams are playing. There are refreshments in the banquet room so please enjoy yourselves while Sasha and I see to your luggage."
"This is some place." Leon commented. "What does JS stand for?" he asked Kevyn.
"Jesse Sinclaire." She replied. "Jesse was Patrick's youngest brother who died several years ago."
"Hey! There's Auntie Barb!" Victor shouted and started to run toward her.
"Hold on!" Juliette said as she grabbed his hand. "You're not outside so no yelling."
"Sorry mom." Victor said clearly contrite.
Juliette saw the look of displeasure on Barb's face, and wondered if something had gone wrong with the shipment of her things. Whatever the problem was, she was certain that she would hear about it later. When they reached the front desk, Wanda was the first to greet Barb.
"Hi Auntie Barb!"
"Hi Wannie." Barb replied with forced cheerfulness as she scanned the faces of her siblings, Juliette's in particular. She glanced back at Hans who seemed to have collected himself.
"Welcome." Hans said with a bright smile. "My name is Hans. I am pleased that you are here safe. If you will step up to the desk one at a time, the children may come with their mother, I will get you all checked in. Who will be first?"
"Juliette why don't you go first?" Leon said when he saw Gene move forward.
Barb stood off to the side watching as Hans checked Juliette and the kids in. She noticed how he could barely keep from looking at her and how his hands trembled slightly as he handed her the key card. Barb was floored. Hans was interested in Juliette and he had just met her!
"What in the hell is this?" she muttered as she watched Hans make nice with the kids. Wanda especially seemed to like him. Barb didn't get it. She didn't understand why a man without money would look at a woman with three kids who would be a drain on his resources.
Finally checked in, Juliette smiled at Hans and led the children away. Everyone else was quickly checked in and in the banquet room eating within twenty minutes. Louise looked around the room taking note of where everyone sat. It didn't surprise her that Barb and Gene were sitting together away from everyone else. While everyone else was laughing and talking, they sat stone faced and silent.
"So Nathan." Leon said after they finished eating. "Mind if we have a little chat?"
"Not at all." Nathan replied.
He kissed Louise on the temple, and excused himself wondering why he was having the anticipated chat with Leon instead of the older brother.
Leon watched Nathan from the doorway, and decided that he liked him. He also liked how Nathan was with Louise. He had waited for Gene to step up and pull Nathan aside for the talk. When he didn't see it happening, he took over not knowing if there would be another chance before the wedding.
"Shall we?" Nathan asked when he got to the door.
A moment later, they were sitting in Hans' office. Nathan waited for Leon to say his piece.
"I wanted to talk to you now because I don't know if there would be time later." Leon said.
"I'm glad that you approached me." Nathan replied liking Leon even more. "What are your concerns?"
"First, Louise hasn't been here for a month and she's getting married. You have to understand that until you, Louise hadn't even been on a date and I want to be sure that you're going to treat her right."
"I'm not talking about things like the jet as nice as it was; I'm talking about making sure that she's safe and happy. I know who you are, and that won't help you if you disrespect or hurt her in any way."
Nathan sat silent for a few seconds wondering how people from the same family could be so different.
"I know that this seems fast to you," Nathan said, "and I understand your concern but rest assured that Louise is loved and will be cared for. I'm not just talking about possessions. I'm talking about caring for her in every way possible."
"Nice words, but I didn't hear you say that you loved her. Saying that she is loved and that you love her aren't quite the same things." Leon said knowing that it was semantics but he had to hear Nathan say it.
Nathan leaned forward in his chair and looked Leon in the eyes.
"Leon, I love your sister, and I swear to do everything within my power to keep her happy and safe."
Leon stared back at Nathan for several seconds before he smiled contentedly.
"I know that she's a grown woman, but she's still my baby sister." Leon said. "She's been through a lot and as much as I hate to admit it, I didn't help her as much as I should have."
"She told me about Pittsburgh, and from her point of view, you helped her as much as you were able." Nathan replied.
They talked for a few more minutes and went back to the dining room where they were greeted with cold stares from Gene and Barb that they both ignored. What Nathan noticed was Louise. Outwardly, she appeared calm but she was anything but.
Kevyn was sitting next to her and Celeste was in her lap.
"Leon, would you excuse me? I need to tend to Louise."
He didn't wait for Leon to respond and was at her side in seconds.
"Sweetheart? What's the matter?"
"I don't know... I just don't feel right." Louise replied.
"Excuse us for a few moments." Nathan said as he led her away from the table.
When they were alone, he touched her face.
"You're burning up again." he murmured. He closed his eyes and listened for anything that might indicate that she was pregnant. Hearing nothing, he started asking questions. "When did the pain start? Are you nauseated?"
He was perplexed when the answers were no to being nauseated, and the pain started about an hour after they left for the airport. He put an arm around her, took her to Hans' office, led her to the small sofa along the wall, and made her lie down. When she was comfortable, Nathan sat on the edge of the sofa.
"Louise, I gave you a glass of blood before we left for the airport, did you drink it?"
Louise closed her eyes. She hadn't. It was still sitting on the counter where she sat it after Nathan handed it to her.
"No... I forgot about it in the excitement about leaving for the airport. I'm sorry."
"It's alright; let's get you taken care of." Nathan replied grateful that it was something easily fixed.
He picked up the office phone and called out to the front desk. Several minutes later, Hans came in with a carafe of blood and a glass.
"Thank you Hans." Nathan said as he took the tray.
He filled the glass and handed it to Louise.
"Drink all of it." he urged.
Louise didn't argue, but took the glass, drank it straight down and handed the glass back. Nathan refilled it and urged her to drink all of it.
"I feel better." Louise said after a few minutes.