Children of the House of Four Seasons: Lost and Found
“Hardly seems fair, Maxi gets sent to his room and Rose goes sailing.” Claire reached down to give her horse a pat on the neck.
“You think this is something new?” Jacky dismounted and walked over to the edge of the cliff, it sloped to the left here and they could take the horses down to the beach.
“Has it always been that way, Rose never got in trouble?”
“No, Mum could jerk her up quick. You want to take the horses down on the beach?”
“I don’t think so, Jacky…don’t go…”
“Wherever it is you’re thinking about going when you leave here.”
“I’m not going back home to London, Claire…maybe I’ll go to the farm for awhile until I figure something out but I’m not saying Mexico is out.”
“I’ll go back to Portland and my reading list.”
“You ever do anything unexpected?”
“I don’t know, get in your car and drive to Canada or something, fly to Tahiti…get drunk on a Monday.”
“You’re crazy, Jacky,” she laughed.
“You should, at least one time in your life…go a little crazy.”
“You’re probably right but crazy will have to wait until I’m out of school and then…look out world!”
Jacky chuckled and mounted his horse again turning it back toward the trail. “I’ll race ya.”
“You’ve much of your mother about you and for that reason only I do not take you across my knee and give you the spanking you so richly deserve.”
“I know, Papa…perhaps you should anyway.”
“No,” he glanced down at her, “I fear you may enjoy it.”
“Maybe Mummy will let Maxi back…”
“I wouldn’t count on it, Rose and I wouldn’t be surprised to find your wings clipped for awhile.”
“The house looks so small from here.”
“Do you realize that it is invisible to others…oh yes, there is no written record of that house and property. It was about here that I married your mother, I gave her a ring much like the one she wears now.”
“What happened to the ring you gave her?”
“She left it here along with two others; she was Terry’s when she left the house.”
“I wonder if it’s still there…”
“I doubt very much if it is.”
“I still want to stay there…”
“Your mother went through much heartache and anguish in that house.”
“And love…” Rose turned and looked at him.
“Ah yes, love that’s what it was all about…love. Six years and some of it painful for her. I wouldn’t want you to experience what she went through, Rose”
“But look what she has now…I think she would say it was worth it.”
“It is not for you little one…I will not allow it.”
“But Papa, just one season…just one.”
“You would try my patience on this matter the answer is no and do not ask again.”
Rose sulked looking back at the house, Jack looked at her, “take us in.” he stepped back and let her sail them back to shore.
“What time was it you were planning on putting Maxi on a bus, Max?”
“Oh,” he looked at his watch, “now would be good,” he finished up his drink. “May I borrow the car?”
“I’ll drive you’ve had too much to drink.” Terry stood up and felt in his pockets for the keys.
Max went upstairs to his old room stopping on the way and opening up what was Toni’s room for a minute, a smile started across his face, then he remembered why he was up there and opened the door to his room.
“Maxi…Maxi?” He went into the bathroom and came out frowning a little he looked out of the front window, nothing there. Down the hall checking out the other rooms and then back downstairs.
“He’s not there,” he walked down the hall checking the downstairs rooms and out onto the terrace and he stopped and called him.
“I didn’t see him come down the stairs,” John said, “I was facing the door.”
“Well unless he took flight, he came down the stairs,” Max went around the house calling him.
“Missing Maxi?” Terry walked out and lit a cigarette.
“Yeah, looks like it.” John stepped off the terrace and walked to the cliff, he could see the sailboat headed home, walking along the edge he called out for Maxi but he didn’t see anyone on the beach.
Terry walked off up toward the stables and saw Jacky and Claire just coming in from their ride. “Have ya seen Maxi?”
“No, Dad” Jacky dismounted and led the horse into the stall and began taking off the saddle.
“Is he missing?” Claire asked.
“I don’t know, can’t seem to locate him right now.” Terry knew this property was extensive, he could be anywhere.
Max had been down to the pond and walked around it, checked the gazebo and the boat house, calling as he went. He half ran down the forest path that came out on the driveway stopping he looked toward the gates and then ran toward them, the gate was closed but not latched…a clue? They were always latched…he walked through the gate and looked up and down the road and then at his watch. Had it been two hours?
“Oh, Maxi.” He said aloud and turned and walked back through the gates. He met up with John.
“John the gates are not latched, I think he’s taken off on foot.”
Terry jogged from the stables and met up with them in front of the house, “Jacky says they haven’t seen him, they just got back.”
“Max says the gates not latched thinks he may have walked off.”
“Well let’s go find him,” Terry pulled out his keys. “Max?”
They drove through the gates and to the highway, Terry opted for Gloucester, the closest town. “Has he got any money on him?”
“Maxi has money and credit cards…he’s never done anything like this before.”
“Do you think he’d hitchhike?”
“I’m not sure he even knows how, he’s never had to, John. He’s never had to do anything except get out of school and he managed that.”
“What does he do, Max?” John asked.
“Do as in…work I’m afraid he doesn’t do very much. Chambord is officially his and he does make wine or has it done, he hires people as he needs them. He put down his first vintage last year. Otherwise he rides his Harley to Bonnieux or some other village…wherever the party is.”
“Sounds like Jacky except he doesn’t have the winery. Okay here we are…try the tavern?”
“Most likely place,” Max got out of the car and went inside, a quick look around told him he wasn’t there so he asked the bartender. Yes he had been in there, left about half an hour ago.
“You lookin’ for the Frenchy?”
“Frenchy? My height, dark hair light eyes.”
“Yeah, said he was French spoke it too why you lookin’ for him?”
Max looked at the bar stool occupant, “he’s my son.”
“Heh, well you best hurry, he’s headed for bean town.”
“Boston, he means Boston,” the bartender added.
“He was on foot…”
“Got a ride.”
“Half hour ago you said?”
“Thank you,” Max was back out the door in the car, “He’s headed for Boston, got a ride with somebody, they said he left about half hour ago.”
Terry looked at him a minute, “Airport?”
“Worth a try,” he looked out of his window and turned around in the street and headed south.
“That Uey will get you a ticket.” John said from the back seat.
“I expect you to run interference if that should happen,” Terry looked in the rearview mirror at John.
Max sat in the passenger seat lightly chewing on his nails, something he almost never did anymore. He was worried about Maxi. All the things that could happen to him here in a strange country, he’d been so cosseted and cradled all his life. And except for the Rose thing he hadn’t really gotten into any serious trouble, at least none that he knew of. He bit his lip, he’d struck him across the cheek today, never had he raised a hand to that boy, never. But he’d been so angry and appalled that Maxi would shag Rose, he’d lost it…completely lost it.
“I struck him today.”
“What’s that, Max?” John leaned over the seat.
“Maxi, I struck him across the face…I never hit him before.”
“Yeah you went hot mad, I should have kept my mouth shut about that.”
“That’s the problem isn’t it? We’ve kept quiet about too many things. None of this would have happened if we’d told them the truth years ago when they were old enough to understand. If I’d talked to Jacky instead of shutting him out maybe we wouldn’t be at each other’s throats all the time. You never expose your weak side, keep it covered so you look invincible…”
“Well I showed off my clay feet yesterday, I don’t know if me and Claire will ever be the same again. She said she wasn’t my princess anymore and you know that hurt…it hurt.”
“I don’t usually do this sort of thing,” She slid a CD in the player and turned the volume up a little. “But you seemed like a nice young man.”
“Merci, I don’t usually do this sort of thing either,” Maxi smiled taking in the shape of her leg when she put her foot on the gas pedal, he settled back in the seat resting an arm on the back of it.
“Where are you from, Canada?”
“Non, I’m from Provence a region in France.”
“I’ve heard of it, so tell me, why were you on foot in Gloucester?”
“Um I was staying with some friends and we had a falling out and so I left. It’s very nice of you to offer me a ride otherwise I think I would still be in Gloucester with my thumb out.”
“What do you do in Provence are you a student?”
“Oh no I’m um through with school. I have a chateau, La Chambord…I make wine.”
“You’re kidding me, how old are you?”
“Twenty-two in November, I would not kid you I do have this, it was left to me by my grandfather.”
“I love your accent, you speak English with an English accent and French cadence.”
“Do I,” winning smile twinkling eyes.
He was awfully cute, ten years too young…at least. “What time is your flight?”
“I don’t have one yet, whatever takes off next I will take it.”
“To anywhere? You aren’t going home?”
“Eventually…before the harvest,” he looked out of the window.
“They’ve all gone…Jacky do you think Maxi has just taken off on his own…Maxi?”
Jacky fiddled with something on a table, he knew where he was...not exactly but close enough. “He may have you sound surprised.”
“I am it’s so un-Maxi like. He must have really been upset with his Dad.”
“I think he was but he was upset with himself too. You know I said last night the sun always shines on Maxi, I think it’s a cloudy day.”
“You don’t sound very worried about him.”
“I’m not he can take care of himself, he’s not the baby boy he makes out to be.” Jacky was in contact with him, off and on Maxi was reaching out touching his mind.
“He’s a cute baby boy, Maxi’s sweet.”
“Um…yeah,” Jacky knew better.
Rose had just landed on the beach and was waiting for Jack to finish tying off the sailboat. She raised her head and began running toward the cliff path, Maxi.
“Rose,” Jack came off the dock and walked quickly after her.
“Where is he?” she burst into the house.
“Rose, we’re in here,” Claire answered her
“Where is Maxi?”
“He’s okay, gone on a little trip.” Jacky said.
“He’s not okay…why has he done this?”
“He needs it, Rose…leave him alone.”
“No,” she screwed her face up, “It’s all my fault, all my fault.” Rose ran up the stairs.
Claire glanced at Jacky and followed her.
Jacky found the bottle left out and poured himself a drink walking to the front window to look out. He turned as his Uncle Jack came down the hall. “In here Uncle Jack.”
“What is going on where is Rose?”
“She went upstairs. Maxi left, he’s okay just needs a little time to find himself again. I guess Dad and the rest have gone looking for him.”
Jack looked at him, “you know where he is why did you not tell them?”
“If Maxi wanted to be found he would have told them. He’s keeping the channel open if he gets in trouble, I’ll go to him. I wasn’t here when they left Claire and I were in the stables tending to our rides.”
“The four of you have formed a special bond have you not?”
“Yes sir, we have.”
“You will look after each other, care for each other?”
“You will look after your sister?”
“Rose…yes I always have.” Jacky moved over to the window where Jack was standing. “ We’ve not always seen eye to eye on things, I look at things a little differently I guess but I’ve always tried to keep her out of trouble, I watch out for her.”
“Did you know what was going on between Rose and Maxi?”
“Not for a long time, Uncle Jack, but I can’t say I didn’t know. It just didn’t seem like a big deal to me…it’s not like they were in love or something…just playing around.”
“When was the last time you were in your mother’s house?”
“It’s been awhile,” Jacky looked down at his empty glass, “too long a while.”
“I would like for you to be there when Rose returns, it may take the edge off the fact that Maxi is not returning. I don’t like to think of the distress this will cause her.”
“I uh…I can do that, take her home and make sure she gets there and all. I wasn’t planning on going home.”
Jacky looked up at him, “that’s a good question, I’ve had two all my life and now one I call…my place. I don’t know where I belong.”
“You belong with the people who love you, your mother and your father and Max. He loves you as he does Maxi.”
“I don’t know about that I never seem to be getting anywhere it’s okay to have family but I’ve got to…find my own life I can’t live Dad’s or in his shadow…I’d never fill it anyway.”
“You must make your own shadow, Jacky and I believe you have the substance to do so. When you start living up to your own expectations instead of those set by others you may find that road you seek.”
Jacky chuckled a little, “You know I realize now why I was always so jealous of Rose, when she’d go off with you and come back with her fantastic tales. Maxi and I never believed her but then we didn’t know until later when we were older that what she’d told us was true. I can’t imagine what your life must be; I’d like to experience it sometime.”
Jack looked at him thoughtfully, “Would you really…I may be able to accommodate you there. It’s not easy none of your modern conveniences, it’s like nothing you’ve ever known. Even your clothes will chaff your skin because they are washed in sea water. You would have to be in good shape and you obviously work at that, be prepared to lose weight because the food will not be to your liking. Prepare yourself, do a little research and let me know when you are ready.”
“Do you really mean that, Uncle Jack?”
“Would I lie to you, Jacky?”
“No…I don’t believe you would.”
Once at the airport the three of them began checking the ticket counters without any luck, he wasn’t in line anywhere, they were looking at the departure screen, a woman passed by them and stopped looking at them for a moment and shook her head smiling she went on to the exit door. The cute young guy she’d just seen to the gate might have been cloned. Either that or she really needed that cup of coffee waiting at her apartment.
“The thing is, we have no idea where he’d go since you don’t think he’d go home.” John said staring at the screen.
“I’m afraid I’ve lost him…lost him in more ways than one. What in bloody hell am I going to tell his mother?” Max ran his hand over his face.
“We don’t even know for sure he came to the airport, just seemed a logical thing for him to do, he could be bumming around the streets of Boston.” But Terry really didn’t believe that, he thought he was either in the airport or had taken off already and to where was anybody’s bet. The ticket agents wouldn’t give out passenger information and since he wasn’t wanted by the law or anything, there was nothing they could do.
“I say we get through the security gates and check out the waiting areas.”
“Yeah, it’s something to do,” Terry followed John and turned to look at Max who looked totally lost. “Max…coming?”
“Yes, yes I’m coming.”
Maxi buckled his seat belt and settled back for the flight, he’d never been to Washington, DC before, in fact, he thought, he’d never been much of anywhere except Europe. Time to see what was on the other side of the ocean besides Maine, Virginia and of course Massachusetts.
He had something to go back to when he was ready, it would be there waiting for him. It was time to spread his wings a little, get out from under his father. Experience life on his own terms, maybe he’d send his Mum a postcard, he really felt bad about her, she’d take this hard and Rose, he could always contact her and let her know he was okay but for now it was enough that Jacky knew and Jacky wouldn’t tell anyone anything. He thought about his Grandpa Duncan, “if you want to learn something get on it and do it.” Maxi smiled a little to himself and hoped that applied to what he was about to do. He pulled the magazine from the pocket in front of him, maybe there was a map of the US to tell him how far was Napa from Washington, DC?
He didn’t know when he’d decided to go in search of his mother’s family an unformed idea that had taken hold and grew in the back of his mind. Maybe it was watching the movie about his father and the cousin from California. His mother hadn’t been part of the magic only married into it…she had been real. He had cousin’s he’d never met and some he had when his Grandpa Duncan died. He hoped to find that part of himself, the part that had been missing, the part of him that was his real mother.
It was late when the brothers arrived back at the House, there was still food kept warm in the kitchen and John helped himself to it. Max said he didn’t have an appetite but Terry made a sandwich from the roast beef that was left. John poured out coffee for all three of them.
Jack seeing their headlights came up from the cliff, Jacky, Rose and Claire were on the beach with a little bonfire.
“Well, any news?” he asked coming in the back door.
“We didn’t find him, figure he must have got on a plane and there’s no way of knowing where he went.” John was busy with his knife and fork.
Max picked up the coffee mug, “I’m hoping he’s gone home although there were no flights out to France this evening he may have got a connecting flight somewhere.”
“If it might put your mind at rest, physically and mentally he is all right. That from Jacky.” Jack found a cup and poured himself a cup of coffee.
“Jacky’s in touch with him?”
“Mentally yes but he’s not talking.”
Terry considered this a moment, “Why didn’t he say something?”
“He said you were gone by the time he got to the house. I have an idea Maxi’s asked him not to. Have you called Toni yet, Max?”
Max removed his glasses and rubbed his face, “no…not yet. She wanted to come and I wouldn’t let her, I thought she’d get too emotional…look what I’ve done…”
“Where are the kids?” John asked.
“On the beach they’ve built a little fire, I left them alone this evening. Don’t beat yourself up over this Max. You acted as you should have. Perhaps Maxi needs some time to come to terms with himself and with you after what he found out here. He’s twenty-one not yet fully formed as a man.”
“No, he isn’t…he’s been spoiled and catered to all his life by Toni and the Duncan’s. You’d have thought him some sort of royalty over at Chambord. I’ve treated him more as a boy than a man, he hasn’t been a boy for some time and I failed to realize that. I’ve tried to teach him the basics, he’s intelligent and resourceful. Once he sets his mind to something there’s no stopping him. You know he blended his first vintage all on his own I was quite proud of him, he knew exactly what he was doing. He kept the same name but changed the label…one he designed himself.” Max rested his head in his hand.
‘The fact that he’s twenty-one stops us from going after him if he was a minor and took off we could do something with missing persons”
“It’s all right, John…I wouldn’t want to bring him back against his will. I think I’ll go for a walk or something.” Max got up and went out the back door, checking to make sure he had his phone on him. He was going to call Toni.
Max walked down to the gates and through onto the road outside there was enough moonlight to light the way..
“Hello darling, how is it?”
“Toni…I’ve totally fucked it up. Maxi’s taken off and I don’t know where. They found the DVD’s and they know about us.”
“Maxi’s gone?” Toni sat up on the sofa and found the remote and turned the TV off, “What happened, Max?”
“I brought him up on something today and told him I was sending him home, sent him to his room to pack and when I went looking for him he was gone. We’ve been to Boston to the airport but…didn’t find him.”
“He may be coming home, honey. I can’t imagine you and Maxi having a go what was it about?”
He hated this, “Well you know they thought they were cousins, right? It seems Maxi’s been shagging Rose…something that happened when they were younger…I don’t know for how long or when but it happened, he admitted it.”
Toni went quiet, “Where’s Rose?”
“She’s here, Jack’s here too.”
“Put him on the phone…”
“Oh not here, here he’s at the House I’m outside the gates. He’s not unduly upset over it…she’s spent the day with him. I haven’t talked to her…I thought you could handle that better than me. I don’t know what to do about Maxi if I could just get to him and talk to him, love.”
“I don’t know either, Max. I can’t imagine him doing such a thing with Rose, what was she thinking? I want her home. When you find Jack ask him to call me. I wish I was there with you.”
“So do I, funny I was worried about you and I blew it.”
“We don’t know that darling don’t know where he’s gone…he may turn up here tomorrow. Is Jacky there?”
“Yeah um they’re all down on the beach. Jack said Jacky’s in communication with Maxi and that he’s okay, he hasn’t said where he is.”
“He probably won’t you know how they used to cover for each other. Oh Max what a mess…I was afraid something would happen there. How is Jacky handling it? Is Terry there?”
“Terry’s here and I don’t know about Jacky. We got here and found out John had told them the whole story yesterday. I know Maxi was more interested in why I hadn’t told him than anything else now I know why. Terry has talked to Jacky I don’t know of a problem there other than their on-going one. Terry seems to have a handle on it with Jacky.”
“Should I come over?”
“No, I think tomorrow we’ll start getting out of here although I hate to leave without Maxi…Toni it’s…”
“I know, I know Max…I love you. You’ve done what felt right to you and it was we’ll sort Maxi out when he gets home.”
“Dad wants me to go home tomorrow…”
“Are you going?” Jacky asked.
“I don’t know yet, “ Claire buried her feet in the sand.
“Uncle Jack wants me to see you home, Rose.”
“Why to run interference with Mum?”
“Probably and then there’s the missing son.”
“She’s going to be upset with me.”
“Seems kind of pointless doesn’t it, I mean it’s done…over with…it is over with?”
“Oh yes, not for a over a year maybe longer, I don’t know, Jacky I don’t write it down you know.”
“Rose you weren’t like in love with him were you?”
Rose grinned, “No…I was in lust for him, Claire. He has girls now I know of two in Bonnieux.”
“Have you got a boyfriend?”
“No, not a real one…that’s why I want to stay here. Otherwise it would never happen. Do you have one Claire?”
“Not really, I go out usually with a group of people, just friends nobody special, I really don’t want anyone like that right now, I don’t have the time for it.”
Jacky lay back on the blanket, “Claire is driven, her career is more important than love.”
“There will be time for love later when I get where I want to be.”
“Me I want both, I will finish school and get my degree and go to work but love ah…there is always time for that. I can have a boy anytime I want one you know I’m not without friends but…”
“Who is this fantasy boyfriend, Rose?”
“Jacky if I told you…you will laugh at me like Maxi does so I keep it a secret.”
“I wonder where Maxi is?”
“Maxi’s okay don’t worry about him. Uncle Max didn’t find him…”
“You should tell him, Jacky he’s probably worried sick.” Rose lay down on the blanket and wrapped the corner around her.
“I will…are you getting cold?”
“We should go in…we may have to get up and leave in the morning.” Claire began putting their empty bottles in a basket.
“Yeah, this has botched my plans,” Jacky sat up brushing sand off his arms.
“What plans?” Rose asked.
“If I told you I might as well tell Mum and Dad.”
“What you think I can’t keep a secret, I am full of secrets.” Rose sat up and frowned at him.
Jacky grinned at her, “oh yeah like the boyfriend.”
“No…I know things I don’t tell.” She got up brushing herself off and help gather up their debris.
Someone was calling them from the top of the cliff, “Jacky looked up and laughed,” Time to come in kiddies.”
Jack walked back to the terrace and took the phone from Max. He moved off and out into the grass away from the others, away from the House to the cliff beyond the gardens.
“Jack, what’s going on there?”
“The secret is out now they all know, they’ve seen the movies. John got to them first and talked to them, told him the story of this house and how we all came to be. A result of our silence is that our children have evidently been…well shagging.”
“All of them?”
“It would appear so…Jacky and Claire, Rose and Maxi. Max went after Maxi and struck him and said he was sending him home and that’s when he left on foot, got a ride to Boston and we think possibly a flight out somewhere. I must tell you Pet, Rose is totally unconcerned. I was very surprised to learn she was no longer a maiden but I do not fault you or Max. Times have changed I find myself old fashioned in my thinking.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that, love. It’s not old fashioned at all. I’m sorry about Rose I don’t know when this occurred Jack but I’ll find out. She’s supposed to stay here for the summer before going back to school, I’ll have plenty of time to get to the bottom of her and believe me I will.”
Jack smiled, “I don’t doubt that for a moment. About Jacky…what would you think if I took him for awhile into my world, I would not put him in danger but time spent in honest labor working alongside my officers might satisfy this longing he has for more than he’s found.”
“Oh, well Jack I don’t know…what does he want and would Terry allow it?”
“He has indicated he would like to I’ve told him to prepare himself and let me know when he is ready. I’ve not asked Terry. Jacky is twenty-three but if you wish I will broach the subject with Terry.”
“I would like for you to talk to him about it. I’m afraid I don’t know what Jacky would want anymore, Jack. He’s not been here in six years.”
“That long…well that’s about to change I’m sending him along with Rose, he thinks it’s for her sake but it’s for his and yours.”
“Thank you, Jack you are such a love.”
“Pet don’t worry too much over Maxi, he’ll come home eventually. Sometimes a man needs some time to find out who he is in order to be that man. That holds true for Jacky too. Max is the one who’s most upset over Maxi, he finds himself at fault for his leaving but we will talk to him and try and set him straight before he leaves for home.”
“I wish you were coming too.”
Jack sighed, “So do I but I must go back. Soon, Pet…soon you have my love.”
“You have mine too.”
“Max, pull yourself together he’s past the age of consent.” Terry lit a cigarette and offered one to Max. “He’ll be back. You don’t know why he left it may have had nothing to do with you. I’m sure this whole experience has been a shock to them all.”
“I wonder how you’d react if were Jacky missing?” John asked.
“Probably the same way, Maxi said we were the same man four ways.” Max answered
“Physically but not inside, not mentally we don’t think alike.”
“Terry, I’m not sure we’re physically alike, maybe certain markings but that’s about all.”
“You don’t think we’ve all got the same dick?” Terry arched a brow and grinned.
“Jesus, Terry I don’t want to think about that.” John winced.
A ghost of a smile on Max’s face, “We do you know.”
“Well you know we’ve never really talked about this, what it means to be who we are. I mean we are all different…look at Jack he’s blond, tanned and bigger than the rest of us.”
“Weight wise but you aren’t far behind him there sport.”
“Fuck you Terry.”
Terry laughed, “Max is the only one without scars.”
“Not true, I have them here on my knuckles one on my wrist and my shoulder.”
“Those are true scars too, Crowe had ‘em. Terry’s here is part of his character and Jack’s are too. Oh Jack’s called the kids up.”
They turned as the kids came up the cliff path. Jack brought Max’s phone back to him and met his eyes for a moment…everything was okay he mentally told him.
Rose ran inside to put on some clothes and Claire and Jacky found a place to sit on the terrace.
“Are we going home tomorrow?” John asked her.
“I don’t know…you might be I’m not ready to leave.”
“Well you’re not staying here by yourself, Rose is going tomorrow and so is Jacky.”
“Oh yeah, who’s making plans for me?” Jacky asked.
“I am, Rose is leaving tomorrow Jack says you’re coming with her.” Max looked at him.
Jacky glanced at Terry.
Terry looked at him what did he want him to say… he couldn’t leave? Terry kept quiet.
“We aren’t having a holiday together at all this year, this sucks.” Claire said.
“You might have had one if you’d found a place to go, this ain’t it.”
“How was I to know? Now everybody’s spent all this money to get here for nothing…”
“I don’t think anybody’s worried about money, Claire and if you’ll check your credit card bill you won’t find a charge…there never is.” Terry said.
“But I gave my card number…”
“Makes it sound legit right? Toni’s leased this place out before…no checks are ever cashed, no cards billed.”
“I wouldn’t say we didn’t get something out of this trip…we opened up Pandora’s box.” Jacky said.
“I wish I’d never heard of this place.”
“Claire you wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this place, keep that in mind while you’re bashing me around.” John said.
“I’m not bashing you around…is anybody else staying?”
“Once Rose leaves I’m leaving, if we can get on a flight tomorrow.” Jack pulled out a chair and sat down.
Terry looked at Max, “How about you?”
“I’m not sure,” Max looked down at the table, part of me wants to stay in case Maxi turns up…I’d hate not to be here if…”
“He’s not going to come back here Uncle Max, he’s on a quest to find something…nothing to do with you, he’s okay…he’s good.”
“Jacky if you know where he is…”
“I don’t know exactly where he is, he hasn’t told me and I didn’t know he was leaving.”
“Don’t hold back with your Uncle Max this is serious with him.” Terry said.
“I’m not…I wouldn’t.”
“Terry, Jacky has expressed an interest in joining me for a short while aboard ship, I just asked his mother and if it’s all right with you then…”
“You think you’re up to that, Jacky?” Terry asked.
“I’ll get there, it’s not like I’m going tonight.”
“You’ll have to give up all your creature comforts…all of them.”
“I know, Uncle Jack said for me to research it and prepare myself and let him know when I was ready.”
Terry looked at Jack and nodded his head yes. “Might be good for him.”
“I thought as much he might come back a little more appreciative of what he has.”
Claire looked wide eyed at Jacky, “You’d go back in time, what if you get sick or hurt?”
“There’s a doctor.”
“Yeah but without modern medicines and techniques…Jacky you better think about this remember the bread with the worms in it?”
“I can do it, Claire. I’ll be ready when I go.” Jacky was looking forward to it, an adventure with his Uncle Jack.
“He’ll be looked after, Claire and he will be under my care.”
“Wow…you make sure you keep a journal, Jacky I’ll want to read it.”
“No laptops, Jacky you’ll have to write with a quill and ink.” Jack smiled.
Jacky grinned, “I’ll have to learn to write all over again.”
Later they’d all gone up to bed except Max and Jacky who was sleeping on the sofa downstairs in the library. He’d come into the kitchen for a drink and saw his Uncle still on the terrace. He debated with himself not wanting to break a confidence with Maxi, he took his juice and walked out on the terrace.
“Jacky, I thought you’d gone to bed.”
“Bunking on the sofa…I want you to know this about Maxi. He didn’t leave because you hit him. He was hurt you know, not physically but…well…he’s gone in search of his mother, his real mother.”
Max looked at him, “California?”
“Yes sir…don’t go after him he’ll come back, he’s planning on it.”
“Thank you, Jacky.” He smiled slightly, “that puts my mind at ease at least he’s not running blind.”
“No sir. Something else, Dad kind of explained what happened between the two of you when Mum came to you.”
Max waited and understanding what he wanted, “Your father sacrificed himself for her to give your mum what he thought was a better life for her. I loved her then and I love her now…so does your father. It was hard for her…it has been over the years and sometimes I thought she regretted it and wanted to go back to him and I knew he’d take her. I couldn’t let her go…I once asked her and she said no she was where she was happy, where she wanted to be…at peace with me. They still love each other and so does your Uncle Jack. One thing you may not understand about what happened here with her four seasons. She loved us all equally. Your father’s element is fire, not the strongest of the four but equally important. He filled her with his fire and when it was time for her to chose…he’d already made the choice for her. She loved him…still does but without the fire in her veins.”
“What element are you?”
“Air, the wind…Jack is water and John is earth. What do you think you are Jacky?”
“Me, I’m not a season.”
“No but you within yourself carry the element of your father…you are fire.”
“What about Mum?”
“Your mother, Jacky I think Jack once said she was the Sun, that’s not an element but it’s close to fire. Maybe too close. You are going home tomorrow?”
“To the chateau, yes aren’t you flying with us?”
“I don’t know yet, I may…probably,” he smiled, “I’d better get to bed myself.” Max got up and stopped by Jacky and hugged him, “Good night Jacky.”
“G’Night Uncle Max.” Jacky loved his uncle, he’d been there all his life like a second father. He found his father’s cigarettes still on the table and took one and sat down looking out over the ocean in the distance and thought about his mother. The whole thing was so fantastical, he leaned his head back and looked up at the stars. Why had he punished her for six long years…