Despite his playful reaction to my licking his ear, Thomas was rather subdued the rest of the night. He didn't say much during dinner and he wasn't interested in making love when we turned in. Instead he pulled me close to him and rested his head on my chest. I could feel the tension in his shoulders and massaged them until he relaxed enough to get some sleep. He was also quiet at breakfast the next morning and when we went for our bike ride.
I knew he wasn't looking forward to the arrival of the rest of the Lodge clan and he came very close to defying Mrs. Lodge, something I never thought I'd see him do. The family was scheduled to arrive right after lunch and when we finished our meal, Thomas gestured for me to follow him. We were almost out the door, headed for the boathouse, when Carson clapped Thomas on the shoulder.
"Master Thomas, Mrs. Lodge asked me to remind you her children will be arriving shortly. She'd like you to delay the day's sailing until you've had a chance to greet them," said Carson.
"Right, how could I forget," Thomas sighed.
"Chin up Master Thomas, I'm sure things will be different this time," said the butler.
"Yeah, sure," said Thomas.
The butler clapped him on the shoulder and then returned to his duties.
"Do you want to tell me what this is about now?"
"It's just that…" Thomas began.
"Boy!" Mrs. Lodge bellowed.
"I'll tell you later," said Thomas, then I followed him to the foyer where we found Mrs. Lodge waiting. "Yes ma'am?"
"They're here," she bubbled.
"Yes ma'am," said Thomas.
The entire household turned out as four SUV's motored through the massive front gate. Mrs. Lodge had arranged transportation for her family who flew into Hyannis and were driven the rest of the way. There was George Lodge and his wife Rene. They had three sons, Roderick 16, Georgey 15 and Patrick 12. Then came Andrew Lodge, his wife Martha and their sons Kyle 14 and Eric 12 and their daughter Mary 9. In the last car rode Clarice and her two daughters, Angelica 17 and Katherine 14. Her husband Jeffrey was unable to join us as his affairs kept him in Japan that week.
Everyone was shaking hands and hugging when Georgey came over and hugged Thomas. He was a nice looking blond boy with friendly brown eyes and a warm smile. Like Thomas he'd recently had a birthday and further, had just completed his first year at an exclusive boarding school.
"Hi Thomas," said Georgey, after they hugged.
"It's good to see you, Georgey. How was Groton?" asked Thomas.
"It was a little rough at first but you know how it is. Boarding school grows on you," said Georgey.
"That's true," Thomas agreed. "This is my friend Alec. He's staying with us this summer."
Georgey greeted me with a warm handshake and then went back to chatting with Thomas.
"Did granny tell you I played football this year?" asked Georgey.
"Yeah she mentioned it. How did you do?"
"We had a pretty good year, our varsity kicked your team's ass at homecoming though," Georgey grinned.
"Yeah well we paid you back with the baseball finals," said Thomas.
"That was a great game," Georgey exclaimed.
"You were there?" said Thomas.
"Yeah, you played really well. I wanted to come say hi but I was with, well, you know…" Georgey trailed off.
Just then we were joined by Georgey's brother, Roderick, and the entire atmosphere around us changed. Georgey shied away and folded back towards the family as Roderick shook Thomas's hand. He was very tall for a 16 year old and broad in the shoulders. He had blond hair and brown eyes like his brother but while he was handsome, he wasn't as cute as Georgey. He wore a big, fake grin on his face.
"Hello Thomas," he smiled his sickeningly sweet smile.
"Roderick," Thomas acknowledged him coldly. "This is Alec Carstairs, he's staying with us for the summer."
Roderick didn't even look at me. He kept his gaze fixed on Thomas. Roderick was very different from his brother. Georgey was bubbly and his eyes had a mischievous gleam to them. All I could see in Roderick's eyes was malice. Bad vibes just radiated form this guy.
"You haven't gotten too comfortable have you?" asked Roderick.
"I'm quite comfortable, thank you," Thomas retorted.
"Just remember your place. When granny's gone…" Roderick started. He was interrupted by his mother who called him over to meet Christine. He shot Thomas another smirk and then walked away.
"What the fuck was that about?" I exclaimed.
"Not here," said Thomas.
We slipped away and went down to the boathouse. Thomas was quiet as we got the boat in the water and out to sea. When we reached our special spot at Sankaty Lighthouse we stripped off our clothes but rather than go for a swim as was our custom, Thomas pulled me to him and held me tight.
"You wanna talk about it?"
"I hate him," said Thomas.
"I sensed the tension between you guys, what was up with that?"
"Roderick Lodge is the biggest bastard I've ever met. He can't stand me."
"Why, what's he got against you?"
"The first summer I lived here, George and Rene sent Roderick and Georgey to stay with their grandmother for the summer," Thomas began. "At first I was excited. I didn't have anyone to play with and I was really looking forward to having other boys to run around with. Georgey and I hit it off right away. You saw what he's like; he makes it hard not to like him."
"Yeah I could sense that kid's the "Mr. Personality," type," I agreed.
"Roderick was like that too. We had a great summer together but then George and Rene came to pick the boys up and spend a week with us," Thomas continued. "I overheard Rene telling them she was disappointed in them for getting so friendly with the servants. I didn't understand she was talking about me until Georgey said, "but mommy, I like Thomas," and she told him he didn't need to socialize with some orphan nobody."
"What a bitch!"
"She's terrible. I don't even like to be in the same room with her. Fortunately she doesn't like coming here because Mrs. Lodge is the boss and Rene doesn't like taking orders so we don't see them often," said Thomas. "Anyway, the next time they came Georgey was still friendly, I don't think he cares about much of anything his mother has to say, but Roderick changed."
"When we were little he liked to hurt me."
"You know, he'd trip me or push me when no one was watching. He called them "accidents." As we got older he started making comments like he did when you met him. He thinks that if something were to happen to Mrs. Lodge I'd be out on the streets."
"I can't believe Mrs. Lodge allows this," I was dumbfounded.
"She doesn't know," said Thomas.
"Is she blind?" I exclaimed.
"Roderick isn't stupid. He doesn't act like that in front of her."
"But haven't you told her?"
"Absolutely not," said Thomas.
"He's her grandson, it wouldn't be right for me to turn her against him."
"Thomas, I've been observing your home life for weeks now. I don't care if you aren't a blood relative! You're just as much her grandson as he is. She loves you, she'd want to know you were being mistreated," I said forcefully.
I saw a look on Thomas's face that said he didn't want to talk about it anymore but before I could object he put his tongue in my mouth.
"Oh no, you think you'll just kiss me and shut me up?" I demanded.
"I was kind of hoping," Thomas grinned and kissed me again.
"I don't think so," I replied when we parted for breath.
"Maybe this will work then," said Thomas as he moved between my legs and took me into his mouth.
It was like an electric shock surged through my body and I lost all interest in anymore conversation. We ended up making love twice that afternoon and napped afterwards. I looked at my watch when I woke and realized we were going to be late for dinner. I shook Thomas and woke him.
"Time to head home," I whispered.
"Do we have to?" he groaned.
"Fraid so," I sighed. I didn't really want to go either. Everything I could ever need was right there in that boat with me.
Avoiding Roderick turned out to be easier then I'd thought. The Lodge children and their families were staying in the guest cottages on the south side of the property and we really only had to be in their presence at dinner because Mrs. Lodge liked having everyone together. Georgey tried to be friendly as did most of his cousins who I get along with just fine, but every time Roderick sticks his head up the others shy away from me.
Georgey's never said anything about it and I wouldn't know how to ask him but I suspect Roderick bullies him too. It made sense, people like Roderick don't single out one victim they see a couple of times a year and focus their anger on him. I'm convinced Georgey has been his big brothers victim and goes out of his way to avoid his wrath. He may be able to listen to his mother spew her ignorance and let it flow over him like water off a ducks back but it's much hard to do that with someone who is willing to hurt you to get his way.
Just thinking about it makes me feel bad for Georgey. I really do like him and hate the idea of anyone hurting him. Not to mention he's cute! I love Alec with all my heart but when I hit puberty I had the biggest crush on Georgey Lodge. It must be the hair; I think I have a soft spot for blonds.
Mrs. Lodge was very busy that week. Not only was she helping Christine with the final touches on the wedding, she was dealing with her daughter and two daughters in law. She had to balance her schedule between them and it must have worn her out. On the bright side, Henry wrapped up his business in Washington a day early and returned to Summers End on Thursday. That brought the spring back to Mrs. Lodge's step. She'd never admit it but it's clear to any outside observer that he's her favorite.
Henry brought an unexpected guest with him. No it wasn't the photographer, Mr. Woo but rather a summer storm. Hurricane Carolyn was moving up the east coast and while it was parked off of Virginia at the time it was slowly moving north. That night the Hurricane pushed a small storm hovering over New York out to sea, passing directly over Nantucket. Fortunately none of the tents set up for the wedding were damaged but there was concern Carolyn might pass over the island on Saturday during the ceremony.
Friday morning was quiet and clear. Christine realized there was nothing she could do to control the weather so she joined the family on the back lawn to enjoy the summer breeze while guests from around the world flocked to the island. Every hotel room and vacation rental was booked up and in that flurry of activity the Lodge family compound was the calm eye of the storm.
Alec and I sat on a pair of lounge chairs soaking in the sun. Henry and Christine were seated in the shade chatting with Mrs. Lodge and Alec's mother. The rest of the family was dispersed around the patio either reading or chatting when the boys approached Henry.
"Come on Uncle Henry, you gotta play," I heard Roderick whine. "Grown ups against kids."
Football is big in the Lodge family and I knew a game would break out at any moment. Roderick, for all his faults, is a great athlete and loved to compete against his Uncle Henry who had been a star quarterback at both Choate and Harvard.
"No way. If I'm playing I'm not having these old wheezers back me up," said Henry, gesturing at his brothers. "I got an idea. Thomas, Alec, come here."
Great, I muttered to myself. I like playing football just as much as any other guy but I really wasn't in the mood. Still, I didn't want to be a spoil sport so I followed Alec over to Henry's chair.
"Roderick's getting a game together, are you guys in?" asked Henry.
"Sounds fun," Alec replied, further resigning me to my fate.
I saw Roderick roll his eyes behind his uncles back.
"Alright, I'll take, Thomas, Alec, Georgey and Andrew," said Henry.
"Fine, I've got dad, Patrick, Kyle and Eric," said Roderick.
"Let's make this touch football," said George.
"What's the matter old man?" Henry teased. "Afraid one of these boys is going to hurt you?"
"Damn right," said George to everyone's laughter.
The game started off ok. We had more old guys on our team but Roderick's team had the two youngest boys so things sort of evened out on the experience level. Henry was our quarterback and Alec and I were the receivers while Georgey and Andrew made up the defense. Alec surprised me with his athleticism and scored a touchdown on the opening play. I did surprisingly well myself and scored an additional two touchdowns as the game progressed.
I could tell Roderick was getting pissed. He was the star player on a championship team and he was getting schooled by two old guys, his little brother and me. Alec was my friend so naturally Roderick hated him too. As the game progressed Roderick seemed to zero in on me. On every play he was right behind me. Finally I caught a pass when he wasn't watching and ran for the endzone. When he realized what was happening he chased after me and closed the distance fast. I scored but a split second later I felt Roderick slam into me with the force of a Mack Truck. I went down hard and smashed my nose in to the ground.
"You asshole, its touch football," Alec shouted as he knelt down beside me.
"Sorry about that, charity case," I could almost hear the smirk in Roderick's voice as blood cascaded from my nose. I still hadn't rolled over, everything hurt. By that time the adults noticed I wasn't getting up and started running over.
"Roderick, what the hell were you thinking?" his dad demanded. "This was supposed to be a friendly game."
"Sorry dad," said Roderick, trying his best to sound sincere. "He stopped short and I ran right into him."
"Next time be more careful," George scolded but I knew that was the last Roderick would ever hear about it.
"Thomas, honey, are you alright?" said Christine. She'd come running from her lounge chair.
"Yeah," I wheezed as she and Alec helped me roll over. Everyone was huddled over me. "I'm ok."
"That nose looks pretty bad, we better get you inside," said Christine as she helped me up.
"Ok," I sighed as I stood on wobbly legs.
"Here let me help you," Alec offered.
"You have a game to finish," I leaned in close then whispered, "kick his ass."
"Oh my goodness," said Mrs. Lodge when we passed her. "Are you alright boy?"
"I'm ok," I mumbled with my fingers pinching my nose to staunch the bleeding.
"He'll be fine. I'm just going to get him cleaned up," said Christine.
"Good heavens," said Mrs. Lodge.
"You poor thing," said Christine a few minutes later as she tended to my nose. "I don't think it's broken, just a nasty bleed."
"It's ok, I'm fine."
"I honestly don't know what that boy's problem is."
"That Roderick seems to have a chip on his shoulder," said Christine.
"You have no idea," I agreed.
"Well, we can worry about him later," she replied as she dabbed the last of the dried blood from my face. "All better?"
"Yeah, thanks for taking care of me."
"You're welcome sweetheart," said Christine as she leaned forward and kissed me on the forehead. "I grew up with three brothers. They were always giving each other bloody noses. Speaking of which, my family is supposed to be on the next ferry. I told them Henry and I would meet them. Are you going to be ok?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," I assured her.
"Alright, why don't you go upstairs and lie down. That was a nasty fall."
"Yeah, good idea," I agreed.
No one really felt like finishing the game after what Roderick did to Thomas. I was furious. I watched everyone tip toe around this son of a bitch all week and now he'd hurt my boyfriend. I wanted to get back at him but had no idea how. I couldn't exactly tackle him back, the guy was huge!
When Senator Lodge looked at his watch and announced he had to get ready to go meet Christine's parents, everyone returned to what they were doing before that fiasco of a game. I quietly went back to the house and found Thomas staring out his window.
"I'm not a charity case," Thomas sniffled.
"I have money. The money my mom inherited from my grandparents. I'm not a charity case," he repeated.
"Thomas, I don't care about that. Fuck that guy and his fucked up mom," I replied.
"I care. I hate how that jerk looks down on me. I'm not some bum off the streets."
I walked over to Thomas and hugged him. He cried a little and it broke my heart. Eventually we moved to his bed to lie down. Shortly after that the clouds moved in and another bought of rain poured down on Summers End.
"I don't like the look of this storm."
"I'm sure it'll be alright," said Mrs. Carstairs. After the boys gave up on their football game, she and I retired to the study.
"We don't usually get hurricanes this far north but it's not unheard of. If this Carolyn gets any closer we may have to postpone the wedding," I explained.
"Whatever happens I'm sure that…" Mrs. Carstairs began.
"Begging your pardon ma'am but Mr. May is here to see you," Carson interrupted.
"Very good Carson, show him in," I replied before turning to Mrs. Carstairs. "I'm sorry dear. May I have the room for a few minutes?"
"Of course," smiled Mrs. Carstairs. "I was just thinking I'd get a cup of coffee."
Mrs. Carstairs left and was quickly replaced by my attorney, James May. James had the prenuptial agreement Henry and Christine would sign later that night but I had some other business to discuss with him beforehand.
"Good afternoon Mrs. Lodge," he greeted.
"Hello James, I trust your trip was uneventful?"
"The ride on the ferry was a little rough but I find myself none the worse for wear," he smiled and brushed the rain from his shoulders.
"Very good. I asked you to come by early so that I might have you make some adjustments to my will," I explained.
"Of course, what can I do for you?"
"I'd like you to make some provisions for Thomas," I stated.
"But ma'am, I've already made arrangements for Thomas. He'll receive equal access to the Lodge Family Trust upon your death, just like your grandchildren," said Mr. May.
"Yes James, I am aware of that as I instructed you to make those provisions 10 years ago. These would be additional provisions wouldn't they?"
"Yes ma'am," the lawyer replied sheepishly.
It took but a moment to outline what I wanted done and Mr. May took detailed notes.
"That's simple enough, is there anything else I can do for you?" said Mr. May when I finished.
"Actually there is one last thing," I replied and handed him an envelope with the name Thomas Dufrain scrawled across the front. "I want you to have this notarized on your return to Boston, then seal it and put it in your safe."
"Yes ma'am, of course," he replied and reached for the letter.
"James, in the event of my death, you are to place this letter directly into Thomas's hands. Do I make myself clear? Not my son's, not my daughter's. Thomas's hands and no one else."
"Of course Mrs. Lodge. I'll carry out your instructions to the letter," said Mr. May as he placed the letter in his briefcase.
"Very good. Why don't you see Carson? He'll find you a place to clean up and rest until we need you this evening."
"Yes ma'am, thank you."
James May Esq.
I left Mrs. Lodge and proceeded into the marble foyer. The floor was wet and I'm afraid I brought most of the water with me when I came in from the storm. I was fiddling with the lock on my briefcase when I slipped in a puddle and fell on my backside. My briefcase hit the marble and its contents spilled everywhere.
"Mr. May, are you quite alright?" Carson exclaimed as he rushed forward to help me up.
"Only a little tumble," I smiled and began picking up my documents. "Mrs. Lodge said you could show me to a room?"
"Of course sir, we've made all the necessary arrangements for you," said Carson.
"Thank you Carson."
The rain was still coming down when Thomas and I woke from our nap. It was dark out but when I looked at the bedside clock it wasn't quite three in the afternoon yet.
"I'm thirsty," I yawned. "I'm going to run down to the kitchen and get something to drink. Do you want anything?"
"Sure, I'll take a bottle of water," said Thomas.
I went downstairs and found the house rather quiet. The kitchen was empty so I grabbed a couple of bottles of water then headed back the way I came. I was just about to climb the stairs when I saw something sticking out from a potted plant next to the railing. I picked it up and found an envelope with the name Thomas Dufrain written across it. I shrugged my shoulders and took it upstairs with me.
"That was quick," said Thomas, when I walked into his room.
"Yeah, it's dead down there. I think everyone must be napping."
"They're probably in the study chatting with Christine's family," said Thomas.
"Oh yeah, I forgot about them," I admitted. "Anyway, it looks like you've got some mail. I found this in the plant by the staircase. Someone must have dropped it."
Thomas took the letter from my hand and began to read.
"Dearest Thomas, if you're reading this letter it means I've passed away before finding the courage to tell you the truth…" he trailed off.
He kept reading the letter to himself and by the time he was finished tears were falling from his eyes harder than the rain was falling outside.
"Thomas, what's the matter?"
He didn't answer me. He stuffed the letter back in the envelope from which it came and stormed out of the room. I ran after him but he didn't stop until we burst into the study. Mrs. Lodge was there with Henry, Christine, her parents and my mom. They were having a lovely afternoon tea until we burst in.
"What is the meaning of this boy?" Mrs. Lodge exclaimed. "Where are your manners?"
"Is it true?" Thomas shouted and brandished the letter at her.
"Where did you get that?" said Mrs. Lodge as she took the letter. Her face was as white as a ghost.
"Is it true?" Thomas demanded.
"Thomas, please, let me explain," said Mrs. Lodge, her voice trembling.
"No! Your letter said enough!" Thomas shouted then he ran out of the room.
"Mother, what's going on?" said Henry.
All Mrs. Lodge could do was hold out the letter to her son as she stood stunned and slack jawed.
"Oh my God," Henry muttered as he read the first few lines of the letter and turned as white as his mother.
I didn't have time to wait and hear what it said. I was worried about Thomas and going after him was more important.
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