On The Move
“Yo, Sonny Boy!” Brian called out as he lifted the elevator gate. The loft door was wide open. He, Justin, Bree, and the Wilders all vacated the elevator. Coming up the stairs were John, Bobby, Patrick, and Peter.
“Hey, the gang’s all here,” Gus cheerfully replied as he walked towards the door greeting everyone.
“What’s with the open door?” Brian murmured into Gus’ ear when he bussed his son’s head. He gave Ray a pat on the back.
“Easier this way,” Gus whispered back. “Open door, the family can come and go. Closed door, we’re either out or not to be disturbed,” Gus explained.
“Huh! Is it working?” Brian wished he had thought of that way back when. Then again, rules never applied or were followed by Debbie and Mikey.
“So far,” Gus smirked then in a normal voice he continued to greet everyone else. “Besides, with all the security, this building is very safe.”
“So this is the infamous den of iniquity,” Glen commented as he took the liberty of wheeling himself around. “Very spacious,” he noted. The front slats of the bedroom weren’t open but the side ones were. Glen rolled closer to the steps. “So this is where the legend began,” he mumbled to himself.
“Actually, it ended here, if you were lucky enough. It usually began at Babylon or the baths,” Alex clarified as he stood next to his spouse.
“You never…” Glen made a gesture toward the bed.
“Not my scene but then I had other things on my mind,” Alex said with a special smile for Glen. Glen smiled back lifting his head for a kiss which was readily given before he rolled away to explore.
“Damn, I knew he had good taste, but damn!” Glen exclaimed as he moved closer to the sofa. Glen ran a hand over the back of the sofa. The creamy white leather sofa was just as supple and luxurious as ever. “This must have set him back a fortune,” Glen mumbled.
“Twice,” Brian admitted when he walked over. “Ask Justin about the Concerned Citizens for the Truth,” Brian snarked before seeking out coffee. Alex and Glen exchanged looks before seeking out Justin. Brian moseyed over to the kitchen and helped himself. Bree was sitting on a stool with her ear glued to her cell phone.
“What are you plotting, Squirt?”
“Just calling JR. Did you know they’re house hunting?”
“I’ve heard rumors to that effect. Why?”
“Well, since we’re here, I thought maybe JR and Jacqueline could come over for a visit.”
“And…?” Brian asked with an arch of his brow. Brian knew that Bree had something cooking in her head.
“And Auntie Mel and Auntie Lindsay,” Bree said batting her lashes at her older father. Brian shook his head. ‘Those Taylor eyes,’ he thought to himself.
“Sounds like an impromptu housewarming party to me,” Brian stated.
“That’s a great idea, Dada,” Bree said with a bright smile. “But a party means food,” Bree said logically.
“Understood,” Brian said as he pulled out his phone.
“Please don’t call Auntie Emm unless you’re inviting him and Uncle Drew. It’s not fair to ask him to cook,” Bree begged.
“I wouldn’t dream of it. I’m calling one of my favorite pizzerias. I know exactly what to order, Squirt, so don’t worry about it, and you can call Auntie Emm. Let him notify the building including Mel and Linds.”
“Okay, Dada,” Bree said with a big smile.
Brian caught Ray’s eye and indicated that Ray should follow him.
“Where’re we going?”
“Down to the storage room. By the way, Bree thought this would be a good time for a housewarming party. I ordered Italian,” Brian casually mentioned.
“Of course you did,” Ray snarked.
“Did I overstep?”
“Nope, your son had the same idea. Bree got to him first before he started ordering the pizzas.”
“Great minds…” Brian led Ray to the storage room and to the area designated for their loft.
“What are we looking for?”
“The leaves for the dining room table,” Brian replied as he rummaged in a corner under a cloth. “Here they are,” Brian announced as he pulled out the two white inserts for the table.
“What’s this?” Ray asked. “There were a few interesting notations on the floor plans. We figured out that one of them corresponded to your treadmill but the other…” Ray removed the protective covering to reveal a leather chaise. He ran his hand down the supple leather.
“My old friend. This chaise has seen a lot of action,” Brian proudly stated. Ray quickly removed his hand. “Don’t worry, it’s been sanitized, repeatedly.”
“Do I really want to know?”
“Nope, but I think I want to take this home.”
“John said he’ll be back on Monday to begin the renovations. He said something about his pickup truck. I’m sure this thing will fit in it.”
“Good thinking,” Brian said with a lascivious smirk.
Ray closed his eyes as he shook his head. “Do you ever not think about sex?”
Brian struck a thinking pose for a moment. “Nope.”
They retrieved the table leaves then went back upstairs. When they got back the apartment was significantly more crowded.
“Uncle Brian!” JR crowed as she flung herself into his arms. Brian gave her a squeeze as he kissed the top of her head. He released her when he saw Jacqueline. The two predators squared off and glared at each other.
“Will you two knock it off!” JR demanded before going to Bree to give her a hug. Brian and Jacqueline nodded at each other with a smirk then moved to separate areas of the apartment.
“What’s that all about?” Glen asked Justin. “I’ve seen them do that before. Isn’t she a client of Kinnetik?” Glen asked. Justin rolled his eyes as he attempted to explain Jacqueline and Brian’s unique relationship.
“So in other words, like any predator of a similar species, there’s a mutual respect which could border on dislike,” Alex hypothesized. “However, in this case there are at least two variables that allow this relationship to exist.”
“Oh, I know this one,” Glen proudly stated. “It’s JR and money.”
“Crudely put, but correct. Brian would never intentionally do anything to harm JR and his ads for Jacqueline’s unique bicycles have made her business very lucrative,” Alex explained.
Justin agreed. “It’s a top thing,” he put it simply with a shrug. The guys laughed.
“Kinney, where’s my son!” A loud voice cut through the din of conversation.
“Oh, Mel,” a warmer voice followed.
Melanie stomped through the apartment until she reached Gus. He smiled at his mother as he drew her into his arms for a warm hug.
“Hi, Mama,” Gus said.
“You’re having a party and we weren’t invited?” Mel asked.
“No, Dad’s throwing us a party and he told Emm to spread the word,” Gus clarified.
“See, I told you,” Lindsay said as she nudged Mel’s shoulder before giving Gus a hug. “Lambskin,” Lindsay murmured into her son’s ear.
Gus blushed at hearing his old nickname. “Oh Mom,” he complained.
“We’re proud of you,” Lindsay said. Mel agreed.
“He ordered tons of food. Are you staying?” Gus asked his mothers.
“Of course we are,” Lindsay assured him.
“Good. Mingle and behave,” Gus ordered as he went off to corral his sisters.
While the family was mingling, John and his apprentices were measuring and taking notes.
“What’s going on?” Lindsay asked Brian, referring to John and the boys measuring sections of the loft.
“Reno plans,” Brian snapped as he refreshed his coffee.
“Brian?” Lindsay gave Brian a look.
He waved her off. “Don’t mind me, I’m conflicted and doing a miserable job trying to hide it.”
“Conflicted about the boys making changes to your loft,” Lindsay clarified.
“It’s not my loft anymore. It belongs to the boys for as long as they want it. And I hope they want it and love it for a very long time.”
“You made some great memories in here,” Lindsay said with a blush.
Brian smiled. “Yes, I did. I also have some shitty memories in here,” Brian said as he glanced up to the rafters. He shook himself trying to rid himself of his scarfing attempt. Lindsay saw the change that came over Brian and gently rubbed his arm. “I’m okay,” he said. “Besides this is a party. No shitty thoughts allowed at a party.”
“Good idea. Thank you for offering the loft to Gus and Ray. It’ll be so nice to see them more often,” Lindsay commented.
“Yes, it will,” Brian agreed.
His cell took that moment to ring.
“Kinney. Yeah, send them up,” Brian replied. “The food is here,” he said to Lindsay. She started going through the cupboards and drawers taking out various plates, bowls, and silverware. Brian went out into the hall to meet the delivery person. He knew it was going to be a very large order and they were going to need help.
“You Hoo!” a familiar voice called up from the depths.
Brian rolled his eyes. “Honeycutt, is that you?” Brian called down from the gate. He had a smirk on his face.
“Yes, Sweetie; I’m helping the boys!”
“Of course you are,” Brian muttered to himself.
“And don’t call me Honeycutt!”
The elevator finally squeaked itself to the fourth floor with Emmett, two young delivery men, and one large food cart. Drew was rounding the stairs as the elevator gates opened.
“Hiya, Honey,” Emmett waved at Drew.
“Gentlemen, right through here,” Brian instructed the guys to roll the cart into the loft. When the cart came to a halt, several hands grabbed all the cartons and bottles of soda, emptying the cart within seconds.
“Thank you,” Brian said as he generously tipped the young men before calling security, letting them know the delivery men were on their way down. He also invited security to come up to get lunch.
When Brian walked back into the loft, he walked in on organized chaos. The family had arranged all the food with the pizzas and salads on the kitchen counter and the different Italian dishes on the expanded dining room table. And there was soft music playing in the background. Someone had turned the large sofa around so it faced the main area. All in all, the boys were having a warm and loving introduction back into the Pittsburgh family. Pleased with himself, Brian sought out his brother who appeared to be working instead of partying.
“All work and no play, Big Bro,” Brian commented to John who was hiding in the office area.
“I’m playing,” John replied, indicating a slice of untouched pizza on a dish.
“No, you’re working and your pizza’s getting cold,” Brian scolded. John grabbed the slice, took a large bite and began to eat.
“Satisfied, mother?” John snarked.
“Ecstatic. Now what’s gotten your knickers in a twist? Is there something wrong with the plans?”
“No, not really. The challenge for the guest bath is to make it fit in. The entire apartment is open all the way up to the rafters. The bathroom may look awkward,” John tried to explain. He handed his sketch to Brian. “Then there’s the noise factor. One needs a little privacy at times,” John formally stated.
“Hmm,” Brian murmured as he turned to stare at the space in question. “That area was always dark. I used to have a small collection of weights. I’d shove them in that corner when I wasn’t using them.”
“What are you thinking?” John asked, seeing the wheels turn in Brian’s head. Brian walked over to the space and looked up. John followed.
“A box within a box,” Brian mumbled.
“Explain,” John encouraged.
“These are the dimensions of the whole bathroom, right?” Brian pointed to John’s sketch.
“And the walls don’t go all the way up.”
“No, that’s what makes it appear awkward,” John said with a sigh.
“What if you surround the whole thing with another set of walls that do go up to the ceiling and then add sound baffling insulation? Maybe a sliding door that looks a little like the loft door and a smokey mirror design…”
“That almost camouflages the whole room. The mirrors would reflect the rest of the apartment but subtly. Who says you’re just a pretty face,” John said with a grin. “Maybe you should go back to school for interior design.”
“Nope, one doctor of cottages in the family is enough,” Brian said as he turned to face the rest of the room. “What’s going on over there?” JR and Jacqueline were in a huddle and neither was looking happy.
“I think the house hunting isn’t going well,” John commented. “And rumor has it that Michael suggested a house for sale on his street.”
“I’m sure that went over well … not. Do you know what type of house they’re looking for?”
“I have to confess, I asked Jennifer. She told me, in confidence mind you, that they have no clue and didn’t even speak to the bank,” John whispered.
“I’d expect that from JR. She’s still young, a bit naïve, but not from the she-shark.”
“Be nice. JR is very happy,” John warned.
“Jacqueline has always lived in apartments. She may be an expert in bicycles, but houses are another creature altogether,” said John, ignoring Brian’s comment.
Brian nodded. “Tell me something, big bro, you’ve been designing another cottage, haven’t you?”
“Yes, but a bit more modern and not for the lane. More like a bungalow. Simple but with a nice wrap around porch. I’m thinking it would look nice, set back from the street. Cozy and private.”
“Like Leda and Jamie’s place?”
“Something like that. Okay, now what are you thinking?”
“The Village Project, there’s still some empty plots of land, right?”
“Yes. Oh now I get it. Rage to the rescue?”
“Maybe if I can make a good pitch.”
“Who’s the number one adman on the planet?” John asked with a Kinney-like smirk.
“You have a picture of your bungalow?”
“Then come on, let’s see if Rage and his trusty brother can save the day.”
While Brian and John kibitzed in the real estate business, another couple joined the party.
“Mom! I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to call you,” Justin said as he greeted his mother and Seth.
“No worries, Bree called us. How are you, Sweetheart? No food problems?” Jennifer asked.
“I’m fine. I’m still sticking to what I know,” Justin assured his mother. She gave him a fierce hug.
“This is a party, no sad thoughts allowed,” Seth warned mother and son. They both smiled.
“Come on, there’s plenty of food. Help yourself and say hi to everyone,” Justin said as he led Jennifer and Seth over to the kitchen. Justin handed them plates and silverware.
“Brian did this, didn’t he,” Jennifer stated as she looked over the amount of food on the counter and on the dining room table.
“You know Brian, he is such as a size queen,” Justin joked.
“Speaking about Brian, where is he?” Seth asked.
“Around here somewhere. He and John were talking about the renovation plans a while ago then they sort of disappeared,” Justin said as his eyes swept the apartment looking for the Kinney brothers.
“What’s up?” Bobby asked as he helped himself to another slice of pizza.
“Looking for John and Brian,” Justin stated.
“Alcove with JR and Jacqueline. Something about land and a new house,” Bobby said as he took a bite of his slice. “Mm mm, where does he find this stuff?” he said as he walked off to find Patrick and Peter.
“I think I should be a part of that conversation. Excuse me,” Jennifer decided as she marched over to the alcove.
“You going over there too?” Justin asked Seth.
“Nope. When your good lady mother is in business mode, it’s best that us men-folk stay out of it,” said Seth. He and Justin laughed then found some place to sit and catch up.
“Mother Harris!” Brian greeted his mother-in-law. “We were just talking about you.”
“Then I guess I arrived in time. What are you up to?” Jennifer asked with suspicion.
“Moi?” Brian asked in all innocence.
“Oui toi! Now spill it, Kinney,” Jennifer said as she sat near the girls and began to enjoy her salad.
As the Kinney men went back and forth explaining and showing off John’s new design, the ladies were fascinated.
“It’s like watching a tennis match,” Jacqueline commented as she moved her head back and forth following the brothers’ conversation. The Kinney boys ignored her and continued to make their suggestions.
“Okay, time out,” JR said as she held up her hands making the time out signal. “Uncle John, do you have a picture of your design?” John handed her his phone with his initial renderings of what the outside could look like and the more technical plans.
“Yes, but keep in mind, it’s unfinished. It’s a single family, with three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms,” John explained.
The girls exchanged looks.
“One bedroom could easily become an office instead,” Brian quickly threw in.
“Yes. I didn’t think of that but an office is certainly an option. It has an open concept living room, dining area that leads to the kitchen. I designed it with a wrap around porch that can be accessed by multiple doors situated around the house. Let’s say it’s a nice evening and you’d like to have dinner outside. Instead of carrying everything through the front door, we could install doors near the dining area. Same for the master bedroom. Sliding doors to let in the breeze,” John further explained.
“Of course, there’d be a state of the art security system,” Brian added. John nodded.
“It sounds beautiful,” said JR. “But would it be very expensive?” she asked with a worried look. Before Jacqueline could assert herself, John who headed up the Village project and was still very involved, spoke up.
“Not any more expensive than finding an existing house, applying for a mortgage and possibly renovating to make it fit your lifestyle. The Village project is unique. The city is still offering deals to first time homeowners. The object is to revitalize the area to make it family friendly in hopes that it will stabilize that part of town. It has an old world neighborhood feeling where almost everyone knows everybody and looks out for each other. There are all the conveniences from a retro diner to fine dining at Emmett’s Too. I could go on but you know the place,” John said giving JR a poignant look.
“Grandpa Danny has his bookshop there. I love visiting him. I, I still miss Grandma Joan; she’s a part of that place,” JR said gently as she looked at Brian with moist eyes. Brian gave her a soft smile.
“I’ve heard of the place but I’m not that familiar with it,” Jacqueline spouted.
“If you have time today, we can go over there and I can show you around,” John said. “If not, I’ll be in town for most of this week working on renovating this apartment. We can go there anytime you wish,” John offered.
“And if we agree, can you still handle the real estate deal?” JR asked Jennifer.
“Of course, I will. I’ve handled several transactions in the Village. It will be my pleasure,” Jennifer assured the girls.
“Maybe we can drive over after lunch then come back for dessert?” JR hopefully asked.
“Excellent idea,” John said. “We can go in my car. Brian can stay here to help the boys and to make sure there’s a good dessert,” John said giving his brother the eyebrow.
“Sir, yes, sir,” Brian said giving his brother a sloppy salute before seeking out Emmett.
“Emmett, I forgot the fucking dessert,” Brian whispered into Emmett’s ear as he pulled Emm into a quiet corner.
“Not to worry, Honey. All under control. Let the masses eat, settle in for seconds then my boys will bring over treats,” Emmett cheerfully expounded.
“You’re a lifesaver and you charge it to me,” Brian insisted.
“Aww, you’re a good dad but let me take care of the dessert. You know how much I love that boy of yours.”
“Bree would kill me if you take on the expense.”
“Oh peesh. How ‘bout we split it, and let me take care of Bree if she complains.”
“Deal,” Brian said extending his hand. The tall friends shook on it then threw themselves back into the celebration.
Some latecomers arrived. One of which did not look happy.
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