I was so grounded when I finally woke up. Kindra got home from work early and laid down the law. No friends, no Jack, no nothing until I turned 18. Yep, I was restricted to my house until my birthday.
“I might consider relaxing the restrictions, Charlie, if you show me that you can behave yourself. But under no circumstance are you allowed to associate with Jack Osborne!”
Of course I had to beg. “That’s not fair!” I whined, though I knew it was fair. My mom would have done the same thing. Also, I was feeling pretty guilty about Kindra’s last words before she’d left for work. She didn’t think she was a good guardian.
Still, I had to try to get her to lessen my punishment.
“At least let me see Shelby and Emma!”
“No! Not until you’ve proven that you are responsible. I don’t trust you anymore, Charlie. You’ve been disobeying me since you found out about Jack.”
“I have not!” But I knew I had.
“Jack can’t threaten to get custody of you now, Charlie. He took you, a minor, to an adult club. No judge would listen to him now.”
“I don’t want to live with Jack,” I tried to reason with her. “But I don’t think it’s fair that I am grounded until I’m 18! That’s forever!”
“You should have thought of that before you went out partying with Jack.”
My punishment wasn’t only being stuck at home; I also had to do tons of chores. I was on dish detail and had to do all of the laundry for weeks.
And I had to babysit my cousins, Leslie and Dillon, while Kindra and Caleb went out on the town. It was unfair. They got to go out and have fun and I was stuck.
I could only imagine the good time they must have been having. Caleb was playing a gig at Eugi’s with the band. Kindra and aunt Sam joined them there so that they could hang out. Kindra said she missed being able to go out like she’d done when they were living in Bridgeport.
I suppose the advantage of staying home and not hanging with Jack all the time was that I managed to get my grades up. I also learned to play guitar with some help from Caleb who bought me my own to practice with. And I read a lot. I think I read every book in my book shelves, including the ones about fishing and cooking. I read my photography book three times!
Since I got on the honor roll, Kindra relaxed my restriction. I was allowed to use the computer to chat with my cousins.
“Can I chat with Jack, too?” I asked.
“I’d like to say no, but I know that you’ll do it anyway. I have no way of stopping you from talking to him. But be warned Charlie, you are not to see Jack anymore. Chatting is ok, but not visiting.”
“Fine!” I heaved an exasperated sigh. But honestly, I was surprised that she agreed to let me talk to Jack. I know she hated him.
But I was excited. I missed all the fun I had with Jack. I wondered if he missed me at all. He had never tried to contact me. I assumed that Kindra had had it out with him at work or something. She was so mad when she found me passed out.
Soon after Kindra allowed me to get online and talk to my friends and Jack, Caleb started inviting over the band. He and I had gotten closer between our jam sessions and him working out with me. He felt bad for me and said I needed contact with the outside world.
I suppose it was better to have Alana and Ronald to talk to than no one at all.
Soon after that, my cousins were allowed to come hang out with me. Jett, Shelby and Emma came over after school and we all hung out on my playground. Shelby said I still had the coolest house of all of us. I disagreed. I though Jett’s was cooler, but I did have to admit that he didn’t have a playground.
“But you have the water behind your house so you can go fishing whenever you want,” I argued.
“Like, we have the water, too,” Shelby said. “But fishing is totally boring.”
On my birthday, Caleb woke me up from a sound sleep where I was dreaming about my favorite hobby, fishing.
“You say it’s your birthday!
Well it’s my birthday, too, yeah!”
“Ugh! Get out!” I groaned as he started jamming on his electric.
“Get up birthday boy. Your aunt has a surprise for you.”
My surprise was a triple birthday party with my cousins. Everyone was invited. It was the first time I had any of my friends over since I’d been grounded. I was so excited.
Both of my cousins became total lookers when they aged up. I wasn’t used to looking at either of them as girls, but I had to admit that most guys would find them both hot. Emma still had an edge to her, though, and Shelby looked a lot like her mom, my aunt Sam.
As for me, I decided that as an adult, I didn’t want to look as much like Jack as I always had. I think Kindra was glad to see me cut me hair, though I’m not sure what she thought of the facial hair I’d grown in it’s place.
Being an adult wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. Almost immediately people started asking me what I wanted to do for a living. I really didn’t need to work. My parents’ inheritance left me with enough money to live on. But I didn’t like being idle, either.
“So, where do you think you want to work?” Kindra asked after I got home from the gym one night. I’d been working out a lot since I didn’t know what else to do with myself.
“I don’t know. I’ve always wanted to travel.”
“Traveling takes money, Charlie.”
“I know, but I don’t want to be tied to a regular job that I have to go to every day, 9-5. Maybe I can do something that would go with traveling.”
“You could be a writer. Write about your travels,” Kindra advised. But I didn’t think I’d like being a writer.
“What about taking pictures?” She’d seen me reading my dog-eared photography book often enough. But I didn’t think I wanted to make money off of taking pictures. Writing and taking pictures meant that someone was telling me what to write and what to photograph. And if I was freelance, I’d have to actually sell my work instead of just having fun with my camera.
“No, I don’t think I want to write or do photography. Don’t worry, though. I’ll think of something.”
“Well, you can’t just be a bum, Charlie. Your parents worked hard for what they had. I work hard and so does Caleb. Don’t waste your life in idleness.”
“I won’t,” I promised, but I really didn’t know what I wanted.
The next morning, I decided I needed to clear my head. I headed out to the local fishing pond where I knew I could get some peace and quiet to think things through. It was as I was pulling in an enormous rainbow trout that I hit on an idea.
“I could be a professional fisherman,” I thought. “People make money off of selling their fish. I could travel all over and go fishing in exotic locations. I can sell koi or alligators or frogs!”
It was a brilliant plan. I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to tell Kindra.
“Look, Charlie, I could get you a job in our IT department. It pays well. You could take vacations and fish whenever you want.” Kindra was not enthused about my choice of career.
“But I don’t want to work with computers. I don’t like computers. I don’t want to work in an office. I don’t want to sit behind a desk.”
“But how will you make any money? Professional fishermen don’t make a lot.”
“I don’t know. I’ll figure it out.”
“No, it will work out. Wait and see. In the meantime, I don’t need a lot of income.”
Kindra couldn’t see why I was so excited, and I was disappointed. I wanted her to be happy for me.
Jack, on the other hand, was very excited. We hadn’t spent time together in awhile and he hadn’t been invited to my birthday. He asked if I wanted to go celebrate my new job and my birthday, and I agreed. I even got him to allow Shelby and Emma to go out with us.
We went to the Grind, and Jack took us in his limo. I think Shelby and Emma were impressed.
Jack bought us a round of drinks and the girls and I cut loose. However, I had learned my lesson from the last time I was out with Jack. I actually drank very little. Shelby and Emma drank a lot more.
It was a fun night except that while Jack was dancing with my cousins, I was having a difficult time getting any of the other girls to dance with me.
“Buy me a drink and I’ll think about it,” one woman even said when I hesitantly asked her to dance.
“Sure,” I agreed, but when I came back with the drink she was dancing with some geezer and I was left holding it lamely in my hand.
Unlike the last time I went out with Jack, I didn’t come home and pass out in the foyer. I managed to make it to my bedroom, but not before I passed Kindra who was just waking up.
“Are you just getting home?”
“Late night with Shelby and Emma?”
“Yeah.” I hadn’t told her about Jack.
“Well, don’t sleep in too much. I want to talk about an opening we have in our shipping and receiving department.”
I groaned. I didn’t know how I was going to convince her that I just wanted to do my fishing and travel the world. I would never work in an office.
Fortunately, I was saved from the conversation with Kindra because it was the twins’ birthday. The entire family and a lot of our friends were invited to the party.
Leslie and Dillon couldn’t have been more different. She was competitive and outgoing, immediately challenging her young male friends to a game on the Xbox. He was more introverted and artistic. He spent most of the party upstairs in my room talking to our cousin Lynnette, Sydney’s youngest daughter. I’m not sure why he was in my room. I think he was showing Lynnette my Egyptian relics.
As for me, I was hitting on Jeanne Krause, but she really wasn’t that interested. I couldn’t seem to get ahead with any girl in Twinbrook. I guess I didn’t inherit any of Jack’s legendary charm.
The next day I avoided Kindra again by immediately going to the gym with Jack. We met up with Emma and Shelby there. Jack agreed to train us all if we wanted. Only Emma took him up on it. I’d been trained by him before and I knew what a hard ass he was, so I declined. Shelby seemed content just to run on the treadmill.
Afterwards, we got to talking about Kindra and my career choice.
“She just doesn’t get it. I don’t want to work in an office,” I said.
“Why don’t you move out?” Jack asked. For a second I thought he might be asking me to move in with him.
“But it’s my house.”
“That’s true,” Jack had forgotten about that. “Well, then kick her out of it.”
“I can’t do that!”
“No, you can’t,” Emma agreed. She was almost as good natured as my mom had been. She hated that I was fighting with Kindra again after we’d worked so hard to patch things up while I was grounded.
“Why don’t you just sell her the house,” Shelby suggested. She was always the one to come up with a plan. “Sell her your house and then you can buy another one. In fact, we can all live together!”
“That’s a totally awesome idea, Shel!” Emma clapped her hands in excitement. It was a good idea. I wondered if Kindra would go for it.
“I won’t be living with you kids,” Jack laughed. “I like my bachelor pad too much to room with you three!”
We all laughed at that. I knew that Jack wasn’t really included in Shelby’s plans. My cousins knew that something had been up between Jack and Kindra. They didn’t know what it was any more than I did, but none of us really wanted to flaunt our close association with him.
It hadn’t been easy, but I did manage to convince Kindra that I was serious about becoming a fisherman. I also talked her and Caleb into buying my house.
“But don’t you want to live here, Charlie? This is the house that your parents raised you in,” Kindra looked around at the walls of the dining room where we were sitting. “Your room is here and all of your things.”
Once I would have agreed that I didn’t want to give up my memories of my parents, but now I knew that I’d carry them wherever I went.
“You and Caleb and the kids will still be here, right?” When she nodded, I said, “I’ll come visit and you can keep my room up for me if you want or let Dillon use it. He and Leslie probably want their own rooms now that they’re teens.”
“Are you sure?” Caleb asked me after Kindra agreed to let me sell her the house. She wasn’t happy, but she agreed to draw up the paperwork.
“I’m sure. Emma and Shelby and I will live together and I’ll be able to travel whenever I want without worrying about my house being empty while I’m gone.”
“We’ll miss you,” Caleb said, reaching over and giving me a side hug. “Don’t go off and forget about us. And watch for traps on your travels.”
“I’ll be careful,” I promised.
I found that living with Shelby and Emma was pretty easy. They both worked, Shelby as a journalist and Emma in business at Kindra’s company. I was shocked when she told me she was going to work there.
“What? Why are you so surprised. I liked it there when I job shadowed with aunt Kindra. It was, like, an awesome experience. I want to be just like her.”
What could I say to that but, “Cool.” I may not like business, but if Emma did, then more power to her.
Emma and Shelby could take care of themselves. I was just looking forward to my next trip. I was going back to Egypt.