Chapter 4: Patsy, Lacy
Cornelius woke with a start. Someone stood over him, shaking his arm. He looked up at Patsy and saw a blurry smile.
“What time is it,” he asked?
“It’s 10:30, and you have a guest, Corny,” Patsy said, her smile growing larger.
“Don’t mess with me. Who would visit me here?”
“She says her name is Lacy,” Patsy said. Now she was practically dancing on the spot. “Weren’t you a busy boy last night?”
“How did she? I didn’t tell her,” he babbled, stunned. He threw the covers off and ran to his closet for some clothes. A minute later, he appeared with his hair tidied up and a tooth brush in his mouth. He plopped back onto the bed and started putting his shoes on.
“Where did you leave her,” he asked?
“It’s such a nice day, I put her in the garden and told Maria to bring her some tea and biscuits,” Patsy said.
Though Cornelius felt annoyed that his sister found this whole thing so amusing, he felt more relieved that she seemed to have, for now, forgotten about the swimming pool and her dress.
Last night, Cornelius thought he met a very beautiful woman. In the sun lit garden terrace, he realized he had met a goddess. The light shined off her silky blonde hair and the shadow of her silhouette teased through the day dress she wore. She stood up at the site of him, and came over to give him a big hug, wrapping both arms around his neck. “Corny! I’m so happy to see you again.”
Corny. Patsy’s been at work, he thought. He hated that nick name, but tried to overlook it. The damage is done, as they say.
“I’m glad to see you too,” he said, “but I must admit, I’m surprised. How did you find me?”
“Your license plate. One of my boys wrote it down when they were following us around. I made them give me your address.”
Realizing the absence of the bodyguards, Cornelius felt relief.
Lacy must have noticed the relief in his face, because she said, “I gave them the morning off. I don’t think I’m in any danger here, am I? Not with my hero.” She batted her eyelashes at him.
She’s taking this hero thing a bit far, he thought, but I like it.
“Have you eaten? Can I get you some breakfast, or lunch,” he asked?
She sat back down at the little glass table. “I thought you’d never ask. I’m famished.”
“Let’s go out. Your choice,” Cornelius said.
“I know just the place,” Lacy said.
They headed down to the garage and he grabbed the keys to his red Mustang. The BMW sportster went to the shop after Cornelius called the roadside service.
“Where’s your other car? I liked that one,” Lacy said.
“In the shop,” Cornelius said. “It’ll be back next week.”
He opened the door of the Mustang for Lacy to get in.
“Put the roof down. It’s nice out,” she said as he dropped into the driver’s seat.
“Sure thing, doll,” he said. He held a little button to the left of the steering wheel, and the roof began to retract. As they pulled out of the estate driveway, he asked, “Where to?”
She smiled and said, “Head toward the water.”
The Mustang didn’t have a GPS like the BMW, so Lacy had to go over every turn as they went. Finally, after 40 minutes of driving and chatting, they pulled into a parking lot at the marina.
“Are we having sea food,” Cornelius asked as they got out of the car. Lacy just smiled, took his hand, and led him across the street to the docks. They passed several standard dock gates that required a key to gain entry. After a while, she walked up to a gate and pressed the button on a small intercom.
“Yes,” answered a tinny voice from the little box.
“It’s me,” Lacy said. “Let us in Lloyd.”
The gate buzzed. Lacy opened it and pulled Cornelius in. At the end of the dock sat a yacht, at least 75 feet long, called the Stardust. Gold trim ran the length of the deck, and the pointed stern and sleek shape made it obvious that they built this ship for speed. An Asian looking man in a white slacks and sweater came rushing to the gangway to greet them.
Lacy led Cornelius up the ramp, and the man gave each of them a little bow as they passed. She turned to face the man, and said, “We’re here for brunch Lloyd. I hope Cook is here.”
“Yes, miss,” Lloyd answered, then he turned and rushed inside.
Cornelius could tell now that Lacy’s family really had money. First body guards, and now this. Patsy would be pleased. She scoffed at the girls he usually brought home and called them, “Trash”. She constantly reminded him that he had to find someone worthy of his class that would bring honor to the family. Yes, now he knew why Patsy seemed so pleased that Lacy showed up this morning.
Lacy led him down some stairs into a large cabin. “We’re on a boat now, so we should get changed. This is daddy’s room.” She opened a dresser drawer. “You can find a bathing suit in here. I’ll meet you on deck.”
She half turned and gave his face a seductive caress and smiled as she walked out of the cabin. This girl must be the most interesting thing to happen to him in his adult life. He pulled a pair of white swim trunks with a red stripe on either side out of the drawer and started to strip down. He caught his reflection in the mirror. Women generally didn’t find him hard to look at, but staring at his tender belly he couldn’t help but think that maybe he needed to spend more time in the gym. After he pulled his pants off, a woman’s voice drifted into the room.
“I’ll get it dear,” said the voice and a woman walked into the room.
He just flung the pants in front of him as she looked up to see him. He might have felt a little more comfortable had he worn underwear today.
The woman gave him an up and down look and smiled. At first, he thought she must be Lacy, but she looked older. She said, “Well, what have we here?”
“I’m a friend of Lacy’s,” Cornelius said. He could feel hot blood pouring into his cheeks, and other parts, and just wanted to jump into the closet.
“Oh, good dear. I thought you might be a thief here to plunder my husbands underwear drawer.” She continued to stand there, staring and smiling. Cornelius thought he could not feel more uncomfortable, until Lacy came back. She wore a purple bikin that did not leave much to the imagination. He suddenly remembered the dream Patsy had interrupted this morning. The pants he held to cover himself seemed even more inadequate.
“Mom, leave the poor boy alone,” Lacy said, then she saw Cornelius for the first time and giggled as she realized that he hadn’t quite finished changing when her mother came in.
Lacy’s mother turned to address her daughter and said with a smile, “Very well. I will see you two up on deck.” She gave Cornelius one last look up and down before she wandered out of the cabin.
“I’m so sorry,” Lacy said with a giggle. She stood there as if meaning to stay, but when Cornelius didn’t move, she said, “Oh, alright,” and walked out the door. Half panicked, Cornelius rushed to put on the swim trunks. He could only imagine that if Lacy’s mother waited upstairs that her father probably did too. Well, there would be no use in delaying it. He folded he clothes up neatly and set them on a chair, put on a pair of sandals from the closet, and headed back up to the deck. Lacy sat at a round table with her mother and a man that must be her father. The man stood up and gave Cornelius a gruff look. Lacy hopped up and swung her arm through his.
She dragged the man forward and said, “Daddy, this is Cornelius. Corny, this is my daddy, Walter.”
Cornelius held out a nervous hand. Walter considered it for a moment before reaching out to shake it. Cornelius said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you sir.”
Lacy’s father stood about two inches shorter than Cornelius, packed more around the mid section, and suffered from a receding hair line. Her mother, on the other hand, carried no extra weight and was taller than her husband, or maybe her heals just made it seem that way. She stood eye to eye with Cornelius.
“And I’m Marisa,” said Lacy’s mother. She put her hands on his shoulders and gave him a light kiss on each cheek. “It’s so nice to meet you. We’ve heard so much about you.”
Surprised, Cornelius said, “Lacy’s already told you about me? We only met last night.”
“Oh, I haven’t seen mom and daddy in a week,” Lacy said.
“Of course not dear,” Merisa said. “Someone else told us about you.” She gestured toward the gate to the dock. Standing outside, Lacy’s bodyguards stood patiently, chatting with each other.
The idea of her bodyguards telling her parents about him made Cornelius even more uncomfortable than if she had hopped right on the phone after he dropped her off last night.
They all sat down at the table, and Lloyd showed up with small bowls of fresh grapes and melon for each of them. Walter ignored his and laid straight into Cornelius.
“I know you, boy, or at least your family, but what I don’t know is what exactly it is that you do,” Walter said.
“The family business, you mean,” Cornelius asked.
“No, you specifically.”
“Ah,” Cornelius stalled. He had a simple dilemma. He could lie and later be found out and be labelled as a liar, or he could tell the truth and be immediately labeled as a goof-off. Thinking quickly, he said, “Well, you could say that I’m working my way up from the bottom.”
“Uh, huh,” said Walter. “Do you go to school, boy?”
“Do you have a job?”
“And where, exactly, do you work,” Walter asked, his eyes dangerously narrow.
“Right now I work for the Department of Immigration,” Cornelius answered, surrendering any chance he may have had of not looking like a complete wanker. “Walter, leave the poor boy alone,” Marisa said. “After all, he did rescue our little girl.”
“Ha! Rescue. That’s what I pay them for,” Walter said, poking a thumb over his shoulder toward the dock gate. “A lot of good they were.”
“It’s not their fault, daddy,” Lacy half screamed.
“I see. So you make it a practice to get stranded on the road to pick up boys now, is that it?”
Cornelius just wanted to melt away. The pleasant start to his day had disappeared. Lacy and her mother went back and forth with her father for several minutes before Lloyd reappeared with a tray. He quickly set plates in front of each of them, expertly dodging Walter’s violent gestures. He placed a lazy susan in the center of the table, and loaded it up with toast, eggs, pancakes, and bacon.
Walter abruptly stopped his tirade and started to fill his plate.
“Walter, you know better. You can’t have that,” Marisa said. “Lloyd, please take the bacon and eggs away. Mr. Derrick is on a low cholesterol diet.”
“Oh, mom, does he have to take away from us too,” Lacy asked. “We’re starving.”
“Yeah,” said Walter. “You don’t need to punish the children, too.”
Marisa narrowed her eyes at her husband and he leaned back in his chair.
This is good to know, Cornelius thought. Marisa wears the pants in the family after all. Lloyd scooped up the plates with eggs and bacon and whisked them away.
“There’s plenty here to get us started,” Marisa said. “Go ahead children.” She poured a glass of orange juice for Cornelius. Walter grumbled under his breath and buried his face in a Wall Street Journal, ignoring the rest of the table.
The silence started to become uncomfortable when Lacy pointed up in the sky behind Cornelius and shouted, “What’s that?”
The all turned to see, her father dropping his paper as he stood up to get a better look. A bright round object rocketed down from the sky and splashed into the water a few miles away, kicking up a visible wave.
“Lloyd!” yelled Walter. “Release the mooring. We’ve got to get away from the shore.”
He rushed up onto the bridge and moments later the engines roared to life.
“What’s going on,” Cornelius asked?
“I’m sure I don’t know,” Marisa said. She climbed the steps to the bridge.
Lacy grabbed Cornelius’s hand and pulled him out of his seat and along the deck. “Let’s go see,” she said.
Just as soon as Lloyd shouted that the ship could leave, the engines growled louder and the ship lurched forward. Lacy fell into Cornelius, knocking him into the wall. Nimble he was not. While catching his own balance he dropped her. She nursed her rump as he helped her back to her feet.
“I’m so sorry,” he said, thoroughly embarrassed.
“It’s okay,” she said with a sniff. He felt even worse.
The ship hit a some choppy water and Lacy grabbed his arm for support. This time he managed to keep his balance, and even grabbed her around the waste to keep her from falling again.
After a few minutes, the ship slowed to a few knots and Marisa appeared next to them. “He says there is a wave,” she said. “The splash from what ever hit the water sent a big wave toward the dock and we’re safest out here in the water. He wants us to go below, so come on children.”
She waved her hands at them to move, and ushered them back toward the bow.
When the wave hit the boat, its occupants felt it bob up and down a couple times. When the wave hit the shore, it had grown to 12 feet tall and caused a lot of damage to any boats still docked there. The naval ships fared much better, but they would later learn that some people in smaller boats or who were unprotected on the docks had died.
That didn’t really matter, though, because the Stardust and its passengers came out just fine. Since the ship’s dock had been washed up into the parking lot by the wave, they decided to take a little cruise up to Los Angeles. At this point they considered that falling object to be a major nuisance. “How inconsiderate.”
“I hate the traffic there,” Lacy said. “People are so mean, honking all the time.”
Cornelius avoided going up to L.A. if he could help it, but since the other direction took them into Mexico, they didn’t have much of a choice. About half way to L.A., Cornelius’s cell phone rang with a frantic Patsy.
“Where are you,” Patsy asked, half crying. “I’ve been trying to reach you for a half hour and your voice mail keeps picking up.” His phone lost the signal before he give her an answer though.
By the time the Stardust reached L.A., it turned out that all the docks large enough for her had already been booked up, so the ship had to settle for a private berth in Ventura County.
Out of his element, Cornelius suggested that he and Lacy charter a flight back down to San Diego. Walter began to voice his disapproval of letting Cornelius out of sight with his daughter, but an important business call interrupted his new tirade. As luck would have it, they missed the last available plane by minutes and would have to go search for another airport, or settle down for the night in a local hotel. They chose the latter.
The car service Cornelius normally used could not pick him up in Camarillo, but the owner did give him the number of a local cousin, and so Cornelius ordered a car. It took a while to find a suitable hotel. Lacy needed her creature comforts, like a swimming pool and room service. Patsy called while the limo drove to the hotel. She still seemed a bit upset. Apparently the police had called the house because they found Cornelius’s car down by the docks with a small boat sitting across the seats. Cornelius let out a little laugh in disbelief. How could something so horrible happen to his car. He just couldn’t believe his luck. He didn’t want to complain, though. Best not to look like a whiner in front of his new girlfriend. He related the story of Walter taking the Stardust out to sea before the wave could make land, and told Patsy that they would be back tomorrow. She finally accepted his assurances that he had come through the ordeal unharmed, and let him get off the phone.
When he checked his messages, he found one from the BMW dealer calling to let him know that they had to replace the wheel because he had tried to drive on a flat tire. This particular wheel had to be ordered, so they wouldn’t be able to return his favorite car until at least Wednesday. Bummer. Out two cars in two days.
Being without a car annoyed Cornelius. The hotel turned out to have a pathetic bar, and he wanted to take Lacy out. Instead, they spent the afternoon laying in the hot tub sipping cheap mermosas – - thank you fake ID. At least the gift shop had bathing suits for them to buy. They didn’t talk much during this time. They just sat close and snuggled.
When the Martin family reunion showed up and took over the pool area, they decided that the time had come to head back to their room.
While Lacy picked up the phone to order up some room server, Cornelius hopped into the shower. A minute later, to his pleasant surprise, she joined him.
The little prop plane took a few hours to fly them home, but at least they got to see a lot of nice scenery. Thinking ahead for a change, Cornelius arranged for a car to pick them up from the airport and take them back to his house.
Patsy threw herself on him when he walked through the door.
“Thank God you’re okay. I can’t believe you didn’t call me back. Oh, Lacy, I’m so happy you’re okay too.”
She decided that they must be starving after their ordeal and ordered the cook to make up an early dinner. Lacy still hadn’t been home for a change of clothes, so Patsy gave her full run of her closet.
“You let this near stranger into your closet,” Cornelius said to his sister, “but not your own brother?” He earned a punch in the ribs for his quip.
“So violent,” he said, massaging his side. Patsy turned back from the doorway to give him a dirty look before leaving the room. Ah, sibling love. Or is it abuse? Cornelius ran up to his own room to freshen up and get into some fresh clothes. The fresh crisp linens and soft warm towels reminded him of why he still lived here. Free servants.
After changing into a stylish outfit new outfit that he didn’t remember owning – - Patsy did most of his clothes shopping, and regularly extended his wardrobe – - he headed back down to dining room. Finding it empty, he wandered out to the garden. Patsy already had Lacy engrossed in a conversation about shoes.
He sat down and began to butter some toast.
“You don’t say?” said Patsy. “I never heard of it. And they’re good, you say?”
“Absolutely,” said Lacy. “Even their heels are the most comfortable shoes you’ve ever worn.”
Cornelius felt his brain going numb. Looking down at his plate, he realized he had already buttered five pieces of toast. If this conversation didn’t change course soon, he might have to make a run for it.
“Hello,” sang a voice from the french doors to the garden.
Cornelius turned to see Dana, his step mother. He hopped to his feet, almost knocking over his antique wrought iron chair.
“Hi, Dana,” he said. She came up and kissed him on both cheeks, then went over to Patsy and did the same.
“And who have we here?” she said, extending both hands to Lacy.
“This is Lacy, Corny’s new girlfriend,” Patsy said before Cornelius could open his mouth.
“It’s such a pleasure, dear,” Dana said, giving Lacy a kiss on each cheek. “Cornelius, you’ve really found a beauty, haven’t you?” Cornelius always appreciated that his step mother called him by his proper name instead of that atrocity Patsy made up for him. Perhaps that contributed to the immense crush he’d had on her for so many years of his youth. She also had the looks to win a young boys lust. Bright red hair, green eyes, and all the right curves. His father had bought the best plastic surgeon to make sure of that.
“Yeah, well,” Cornelius said, “Lacy and I met the other night, and it’s been a whirlwind adventure ever since.”
‘Wonderful, dear,” she said absently. “Patsy, I’m afraid you can’t have the yacht next weekend. It’s a total wreck after that freak wave yesterday. I’m told we’ll have to have a salvage company raise it from the bottom of the marina.”
“Oh, that’s terrible,” Lacy said. “Father just managed to save our boat. We were on the Stardust having brunch when it happened.”
Ignoring the fact that Cornelius narrowly escaped being killed by the rogue wave, Dana said, “Oh, you’ve already broken bread with your lovely lady’s family? My, we are moving fast, aren’t we.”
“They totally surprised us,” Lacy said before Cornelius could answer. He didn’t like the direction of this conversation. Shouldn’t he be the one doing the talking?
“Yeah, like she said, a total surprise,” Cornelius said, then feeling dumb for not saying something clever.
Dana sat down at the garden table and then the rest of them took their seats. They talked a bit more about the strange wave at the marina and how much damage it caused. No one talked about the unfortunate people who died in the event, monetary damage being more important.