Chapter 18: He Ain’t Heavy

So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

He ain’t heavy – The Hollies

Dinner with John and Damien is intense but in that good way that has your engine revved up and ready for action. In the end they both want to come out and see the treehouse first hand and Kate, being the amazing partner in crime that she is, extends the invitation to staying with us while they are in town. This gives them the opportunity to study the plans against the build and put the design under some heavy analysis. I’d be nervous but I know my baby can stand up to the scrutiny.

“You know Elliot, it looks like we are going to get that funding for our research program. I would love to have your input as an external consultant.” Damien is pouring more of the fine red that he brought along to accompany the meal. He is an enthusiastic drinker and a more enthusiastic talker.

“So explain the way it all works to me again. What would being an external consultant mean?” Damien looks to John who takes up the slack.

“The two departments have a MOU…”

“A memorandum of understanding.” Kate interjects.

“Yes, a memorandum of understanding in place that allows us to transfer research funding and supervision of higher research students between the two universities. It makes our lives easier from a logistical point of view because we are able to draw on the partnership to go for bigger funding opportunities. This one is big and we will have a number of external agencies across both countries. Basically our primary partner is the OECD. They are looking to create template plans for cost effective innovative learning spaces and medical facilities across underdeveloped countries. The types of building that will allow for greater flexibility and sustainability in a wide range of geographical locations. Everything has to be flexible enough to allow for context. Local materials, local labor. It all has to be economically viable.”

“Sounds simple enough but I don’t understand my role. I don’t do schools or hospitals.”

“Well, we are only one part of a much broader research program. For example, with the schools, other aspects of the research are emerging from education sectors. The third pillar has to be around what they call pedagogical design. Designing with the best practice in teaching and learning in mind. So you see my friend, architecture, engineering, environmental science and education are all coming together for the greater good. So we are now looking to extend the research around the whole notion of community capacity through rebuilding and regeneration which would include housing. You would be one of many who would contribute ideas of how to make this work.”

“Why me? I have a small but successful boutique construction company. I’m not even an architect.”

“Our partners are excited about your innovations for the domestic market. They are more excited by the cost effectiveness of those innovations at every step of the build. Often we see costs saved in the long run being eaten up heavily in the initial stages of the build. Economically disadvantaged communities can’t afford heavy outlay to save money later. The review committee was impressed at the body of work that you have presented and published already. Your credentials are in the work you have already completed. The Haiti project has people sitting up and taking notice.”

Kate is quietly beaming from ear to ear. Haiti has been about recycling materials from the earthquake. Not only was it expedient to do so but it was necessary as there was simply nowhere to dispose of the rubble. The clean up and salvage crews have ended up providing mass employment for the locals, and the build crews while made up of experienced volunteers are also training local workers in construction. Not only that but the research funding that Christian put into WSU allowed for the design and implementation of simple processes that would ensure buildings were more likely to survive future earthquake damage.

“This won’t be all academic talk and no action, will it?” My biggest concern is having my time sucked away from the thing I love the most. If I am involved I want it to be a tangible outcome. Design and build, not just research about designing and building that goes nowhere.

“Of course, the way we want to structure our research program is to have a series of research pilots within the larger OECD project. That would mean taking the research ideas out into the field, trying them out and then reporting back. We need people who know what they are doing and who are prepared to do it in places of disadvantage. Haiti would become part of that process. The extent of our ability to do this will depend on funding but we are working with philanthropic investors to gather as much as we can.”

“Have you approached GEH?” A look passes between the two men. I feel a surge of disappointment. I am only being included here to secure a donation from Christian. Kate looks slightly alarmed too.

“Please don’t misunderstand, Elliot. We have deliberately not approached GEH because we want you on this team. We didn’t want you to feel that you were being compromised in any way. You participation is the not negotiable part for us. We are still looking to secure the funding elsewhere.” John is one of the most sincere and genuine people I know and right now I could kiss the little hairy bastard’s feet. It’s like he knows my one insecurity and has viewed it as important enough to deal with it. That gives me everything I need to know.

“Well, in that case, I guess I am in. Tell me where I sign up.” Both men look at each other and then at Kate and I with huge grins. I can’t leave them hanging. “Oh, and I will set up a meeting with Christian. He will be severely pissed off if he thought he couldn’t contribute to a project like this because of his relationship with me.”

“TJ, gimme an update man.” TJ has been acting project manager and heading the demo crew working on Christian’s mansion throughout the previous fortnight. Either James or I check the site at least once a day but neither one of us has had the time to be here all day, every day. I don’t know whether it is the relief that Ana is okay or guilt over not being more hands on but I figure now is a good time to dedicate myself to this job. Luckily my crews aren’t likely to crack the shits with the boss on deck.

“Sure. We’re on schedule. The demo work is on the main living area is almost complete and we are already ahead on the reroof.”

“Bathrooms and kitchen?”

“Gutted and the plumbing and electrical is all being moved Wednesday.”

“What about the repile?”

“All ready to go. They’ll start on that tomorrow and then the new support beams will come in early next week.” Gia’s plans are sound but Ana has already okayed the little extras. Of course, Christian, not to be outdone has put in a few surprises of his own. Fundamentally I redraw whatever they decide needs to be changed and put them through to be permitted so Gia doesn’t need to spend any more time on site than strictly necessary. Both Ana and Kate are happier to know this.

“What about security?”

“We fixed that issue with the western perimeter and Christian sent some dude out here with surveillance cameras to make sure that all the fences are covered.” Christian’s preoccupation with security is a management headache for TJ but we have reached a compromise on an overnight security team and the perimeter cameras. Given Jack Hyde’s ability to infiltrate all things GEH I am not surprised by the attention to detail that Welch and Christian have placed on this job. “The problem is going to be around access for the crews and the deliveries. If we have to keep punching in security codes and double checking every shipment and supplier then we are going to have some issues with the project management schedule.”

“Look, there might be some easing on that but I need to talk to Christian and his people first to see how things lie.” After Ana and Mia being abducted last week we don’t want to take any more risks but since Jack Hyde is in custody maybe Christian will feel happier about lifting some of the restrictions. “How is that latest delivery looking?”

“Haven’t checked it yet. They only just finished the unload. You wanna come with?” I nod and we head over to the area that has been allocated for the larger materials. Lumber and bricks are piled neatly on pallets. Everything looks okay until I notice a stamp on the end of one section of the lumber.

“Fuck!” TJ comes over and looks over my shoulder. “Recognize that?” He expels a hiss then brings up the delivery schedule on his iPad. Flicking through the dockets he finds what he’s looking for before a stream of expletives spew out of his mouth. He hands the screen to me and whips out his phone. Within minutes he has torn shreds off the depot and the trucking company. When he gets off the phone he looks at me.

“The haulage company says it was a mix up at the depot, the supplier is saying that the driver picked up the wrong shipment. No one is willing to take responsibility.” Just what I fucking need.

“Get Jerry Traynor on the line. I want someone’s ass nailed to the wall on this one. I’m going up top for a while so let me know how you get on.” TJ nods and is already speed dialing as he heads back to the site office.

Once I am up on the roof I feel a calm descend. I don’t want to overreact. It isn’t the first time that there has been some sort of delivery mix up but this one, a delivery from Lincoln Timber, at this stage of our dealings with Linc just seems a little convenient. The fresh air and the physical work of throwing tiles off the roof for replacement is doing me good and even though I don’t need to be part of an active site crew any longer, I enjoy getting out here with the boys. Of course, I say that in the most general of terms since there are at least three women on the site at the moment and more will switch in as we hit the utilities, fitting and finishing stages of the build.

After an hour on the roof I notice Christian’s R8 racing up the drive. I will need to talk to him about the way he drives on the site. There is a blind turn on the drive that could see him taken out by a truck coming back down the other way. When they climb out of the car I wave and indicate that I am coming down. As I go to unharness I notice that one of the unused safety cables is frayed. Walking through the house before I noted another couple of safety issues for TJ So I’m busy texting them through to him as I emerge from the building. He’s usually pretty vigilant on this stuff but it always pays to have another pair of eyes looking out.

Once I have given Ana and Christian the big tour I head back to the site office. TJ should have an answer from Traynor by now. Traynor is the unofficial eyes and ears on all things Lincoln Timber since the developer-builders embargo kicked in. I hear TJ’s voice as I approach the prefab building.

“I don’t care about the quality. We have one blanket rule at Casey Grey and everyone knows it… Yeah, well get back to me when you find out.” I stand at the door and take in the body language. TJ is seriously pissed.

“So?” I lean on the door flipping through the safety report logs.

“Jerry doesn’t know but he says that LT has been supplying clean, green product for past 6 months. Some of the others are starting to take more of their gear.”

“And he’s expecting us to roll over?” Shit, Jerry has always been completely on our side about this.

“No. He thinks it stinks like a madwoman’s undies but he’s feeling powerless to stop the drift.” TJ pauses, shuffling a few papers nervously. “Elliot, Jerry thinks something big is about to go down at LT. Linc has been edgy since the Feds drilled his butt to the wall.”

Even though Linc handed over the videos in the mediation hearing we have no guarantee that there aren’t copies floating around in the world, nor do we know if he won’t have another go at blackmail. The team that Dad threw together did a pretty good job of tightening up the paperwork so that he would be cutting his own throat if he tried but Linc is nothing if not unpredictable.

“We’ll have to wait and see what Jerry comes up with. In the mean time I want that product off this site. There is no way that shit goes into my brother’s house. Offload it to the MacKenzie development. Liam owes me a favor. Then get it replaced.” TJ turns back to the phone and starts dealing with the immediate issue as I emerge out to the sunshine. I notice one of the roofing crew traversing to the northern side of the building so I whistle and signal him back before finding Will crossing over with some slate in his hand.

“You going on top?” Will nods. “Can you make sure that the guys work on this side for the next hour or so. Christian and Ana are taking a picnic in the meadow. They don’t need any of our guys perving on their action, feel me?” Will fist pumps and goes up to give the new order.

An hour or so later Christian and Ana are walking back to their car hand in hand with that look of complete bliss. Don’t want to think what just went down in the meadow but I hope like hell my guys followed instructions and didn’t cop a look at the lovebirds. Ana sits in the car while Christian stops into the site office to sign out.

“Chris, if you have some time I have some stuff I want to talk with you about.” He runs a hand through his hair, the universal Grey sign for we seem to have a SNAFU.

“Sure, why don’t you drop by Escala after work.” He is keeping something from me but he’ll give or I’ll break his arm trying. He turns to leave the office but then pauses at the door. “Just so you know I am putting our Lincoln Timber plan into action.”

Christmas just came early. Now he has my undivided attention. “Why? That’s our security. Why would you do this and not discuss it with me?”

“Linc bailed Hyde out of jail. That’s enough for me. If he’s funding that little prick then that is a direct threat to our family. He’s going down.”

“Are you sure about this?” Sometimes it floors me how little Christian really knows about what is happening but then I haven’t exactly been forthcoming with information either. My poker face must have up and left the building because I can see the moment he realizes that I’ve been holding out on him.

“You knew. You knew that Jack Hyde was working with Linc and you never told me?” Fuck, this is bad.

“We knew there was a connection but not that Linc was funding him. Kate’s Dad gave us the heads up months ago that someone was leaking information to the press. It didn’t take us long to work out that Jack Hyde was behind it. We found out about Linc and Jack when they turned up at Sirens together on the night of the Slave Auction.” Another shock wave hits Christian’s face and he goes from a sickly green to an angry crimson. The fact that I don’t have explain my knowledge of the auction is enough for me to see that he is registering how much I know.

“See you for drinks at 6. Bring Kate.”

Kate and I arrive at the appointed time. All I had to say was that I am ready to talk to Christian and that was enough to have her dressed and ready to leave within ten minutes. She holds my hand all through the drive to Escala and the trip up in the elevator. Christian and Ana are sitting at the kitchen bench as we walk in. Ana gets off the seat and walks straight into Kate’s arms. I glance over and see paperwork sitting on the bench. So much for fucking brotherly love.

“Wine?” He is pouring without waiting for an answer. Ana is drinking a mineral water.

“I’d prefer mineral water,” Kate smiles at Ana then walks into the kitchen and helps herself. Ana’s mouth drops open a little before she catches herself and snaps it shut. “Sorry, but one of us has to be able to drive home.” As she turns she gives Christian a wink and his gaze shifts to Ana. Trust my girl to open up that hornet’s nest without coming right out with it.

“They know?” Ana nails Christian with a glare.

“Now we do,” Kate says with a smile. “Congratulations!”

Ana’s hand flies to her mouth. Now she really isn’t sure if Christian has told us or whether she has just confirmed our suspicions. Kate seems content to leave her thinking the latter and Christian gives her a look of gratitude.

It is the next thing that Kate does that completely blows my mind. Without any hesitation she goes to her purse and digs around for a pen. Pulling the papers towards her she quickly scans the writing and then signs her name without hesitation. The look on Christian’s face is priceless.

“Kate, do you understand what that means?” Christian is leveling her with a this-is-some-serious-shit look but she just looks back at him with a completely impassive gaze.

“I’ve just signed a non-disclosure agreement, similar to anyone who works for you I imagine. I’m sure that you won’t believe me when I say that I consider you family and I would never say anything anyway but I also understand that there are people who rely on you, who owe their loyalty and their jobs to you. They don’t need to know anything about your private life that you aren’t willing to make public.”

I’m holding my breath a little here. Ana grips Christian’s hand for reassurance, I presume. Without hesitation Kate holds out the pen to me and I walk over to the bench and sign the forms before turning back to my brother.

“I trust that this works both ways.” Christian holds his hand out to me and I shake it. It’s enough. A man’s word, my brother’s word.

“Should we move into the study?” He ushers us through to the inner sanctum. The door softly clicks behind us before Ana slips into the dark leather sofa beside Christian. This room has always been a surprise. As much as the rest of the house is a testament to minimalism, modernity and white, Christian’s office is almost old worldly with its warm blanket wrapping of books and leather.

“You mentioned the Slave Auction today. You got my attention.” Jeez, you’re not negotiating a business deal. Don’t pull that fucking mogul shit with me, bro. His eyebrow arcs up. “I’m sorry you caught me off guard.”

Ana takes his hand again as if touching him will remove her confusion. I still get surprised at how tactile he is with her. A memory comes back of holding my brother’s hand but I can’t quite remember if it was Christian or Christopher.

“We were at the last one. Trying to find out who was leaking photos and information to the press.” Kate is covering for me. Frowning I try to get back in the game.

“The photos that Welch found…?” Ana lets the question hang softly in the air.

“Were sent to my father back in March this year. They were slowly drip fed over a couple of months and he made sure that they didn’t go further than his office because of his friendship with your father.” Kate, directs this at Christian. Giving him a not so subtle message about family loyalty.

“But that last auction was when you were in Barbados.” Christian is doing his stillness thing while Ana turns her head to look at him. Nothing moves except for his eyes, which are darting back and forth as he tries to read our faces. It’s kind of creepy.

“We came back early.” No need for them to know how early.

“Just for the auction?” Okay, maybe there is a need.

“Will someone please explain what this Slave Auction is?” Ana is cute when she is pissed off. Christian strokes her hand, soothing before he sits back and drops the bomb.

“Slave auctions are the way that most Doms acquire their new submissives. Mostly auctions are small gatherings where temporary assignations are arranged. Sirens holds a major Slave Auction once a quarter. It is a much bigger, social event and more permanent arrangements are often negotiated in the weeks leading up to it. The evening is capped with a collaring ceremony. Clients fly in from all over the world to attend the Sirens Auction.” Christian’s delivery gets flatter and more unemotional the more he explains. Smart man, if I were him, I wouldn’t be talking it up much either.

“Did you…?” Ana seems to think she has made a slip and glances nervously at Kate and then down at her hands. The physical distance increases between them. Christian’s whitened knuckles press into his thighs as he stares straight ahead.

“Yes.” One word. No explanation. Ana wipes a finger in the corner of her eye, her head lowered. Suddenly he turns on Kate. “How much have you told my brother?”

I’ll fucking kill him. If someone walked into the room right now they would probably fall about in a fit of laughter. Christian is glaring at Kate who is gasping with shock. Ana is staring at Christian as if he has grown two heads. As for me, well I am just contemplating ripping one of those heads off his not so scrawny neck. I’m up out of my seat ready to choke the bastard.

“Kate hasn’t told me anything that I didn’t already know. Do you think that you could have kept that relationship with Elena secret from everyone all of these years? Do you really believe that I could work above Club Orpheus and not know that you were heavily involved in that lifestyle?”

There is a long silence as we stare at each other. Ana and Kate are both looking at anywhere else but us.

“How much do you know?”

“Enough. And I have never judged you, man. Even when I had to work double shifts at Siren’s to bail you out of shit, I never judged you. I would have done anything for you.” I can’t sit down, even though he refuses to move out of his seat. I need to be able to move.

“What are you talking about? Dad bailed me out the first time. Elena paid the second time.”

“Dad wouldn’t have lifted a finger to help you. He’d had enough of the both of us. I only told you that he paid so you wouldn’t take off. I couldn’t have turned my academic record around but you, man you were so fucking smart. If you’d run away from home back then it would have been the biggest fucking waste. I started stripping because it was where the big money was. It took me three weeks to get enough to pay off that kid’s parents and make your problems go away. Dad didn’t even know you were in trouble.”

Christian looks stricken and Ana just keeps rubbing his back while he takes it all in. I really didn’t mean to unload all of that shit on him but I’m tired of holding it back and now that the flood gates are open.

“As for Harvard. When you called me with that one there was no fucking choice. I know you told me to go Elena but there was no way I was going to take money off that bitch.”

“I know what she did was wrong but you had no reason to hate her back then.”

“Didn’t I?” Surprise, bro. “Yeah, the bitch troll had a go at me first, only I wasn’t interested in her kinky shit. Hell, if I had been I might have prevented her from doing what she did to you. You have to know that I will always regret that.”

“Fuck, why did I not know this? Why didn’t you say something when she first came on to me? How could you leave me with her?”

“Because in spite of the fact that she is a pedo, she fucking saved you man. Because once you started with her, Mia could fucking sleep at night. Shit, I don’t know. I hated it, I hated her. But you changed. You stopped trying to beat the crap out of everyone. You did better in school. You stopped scaring the crap out of us every night. I needed to know that Mia was safe in that house with you. Mom and Dad just didn’t get it. They never saw what we saw. They loved you so much they were fucking blind to most of your shit. Mia wasn’t, I wasn’t. When you got with Elena you got more…normal.”

My aggressive stance brings him to his feet. Ana is openly crying now and Kate moves to comfort her. Christian and I face each other down standing chest to chest. I seriously think he might be about to thump me for all of my past shitty decisions, he is breathing so heavily.

“Tell me about Harvard.” His creepy steely eyes don’t leave mine. In that look I see everything that used to scare the shit out of me as a kid.

“I had friends who came in and dealt with it. After you called me that morning I pulled in a favor from a friend. He went to the hospital and spoke with the girl. I got him to pay her off so she wouldn’t press charges. And just so we are completely clear on this. To this day, I never believed that you hurt her. You were still half drugged when you called me otherwise you would have remembered my friends coming in and cleaning the scene. They believe that you were set up but we couldn’t get enough evidence to find out who did it.”

“Elena had the money to pay. She’d just won a huge divorce settlement from Linc. She would have helped. Why didn’t you take it?”

“Because she is not your fucking family. I am your family. It was my job to take care of you. I always took care of you. That’s what I do!” I can’t help shouting at him. I also can’t help the emotion that is flooding into my eyes. The fucker won’t be satisfied until he sees me cry like a fucking baby. I fight back the tears with every breath while Kate and Ana watch on.

“I…I never knew. I’ve been so fucking blind. I’m sorry.” Christian does the one thing I never expect and grabs my head in both hands. He pulls me in close before wrapping his arms around me. I’m too fucking stunned not to hug him back.

“I love you, Chris. I always have. Your my brother. I’d give up my fucking life for you, man.” The tears and the words are all a muffled mess into his shoulder as I cling on for dear life. If he lets me go right now I’ll fall on the floor at his feet and wouldn’t that be just the D/s kicker. For his part Christian is hugging, really hugging, and telling me over and over again that he is sorry. And then if things don’t get surreal enough he pulls back and plants a kiss on my forehead. A big ass smackeroony from my little brother, who has only ever seemed to want to smack the shit out of me since we were kids.

After about five minutes of the love-in we both pull away and our women, god love them, are quickly in our arms. There are more tears, more hugs and bugger me if Christian doesn’t hug Kate. Soon we are all sitting again, letting the emotional dust settle before we take up where we left off.

“So you come back from Barbados in secret and went to the Slave Auction. I still don’t get what made you come back.” It is Ana who pulls us back on track.

“Look, Kate’s Dad was worried about what it all meant. We spent a lot of time in Barbados throwing around names, ideas, anything that might give us a lead. Then when we got a lead it pointed to the auction.”

Christian pipes up, “And at what point were you going to share any of this with me. I could have had that fucking auction crawling with security. We could have nailed the bastard months ago.”

“If I had handed any of this information over to you, you would have shut us out of the investigation out some warped need to protect everyone.” He leans forward in his seat and then gives this imperceptible nod of agreement. I knew it. I was fucking right. And there goes the Grey frustration move – the hands through the hair. Shit, it’s like looking at Dad.

“So what did you find out?” Ana’s soft tones break the silence.

“Jack Hyde was there. With Linc Lincoln.” Seems like the girls are taking over this shindig. Christian locks eyes with Kate.

“Why didn’t you tell us that they were connected?”

“At the time we didn’t know exactly what the connection was. In the end our main worry wasn’t Hyde, although in hindsight he should have been. The threat from Linc seemed far greater.” Ana looks confused by Kate’s words. Yet, another way that little brother has kept her in the dark. I have to get up, I have to move, I need to think.

“See you always do this, bro, and you wonder why I won’t talk to you. You won’t even tell Ana the full story. Shit, at least Kate and I make some effort to work as a team. You’re so full of shit. How could I trust you with this?” He has the good grace to look stricken. I guess he wasn’t expecting another outburst from me. But since the emotional dam has been breeched he is going to get me full on.

“Honey, we came here to be open with them. What’s done is done. We need to sort this all out together.” Kate’s touch calms me down. My breathing comes under control when I have her wrapped in my arms.

Christian has his phone in his hand. “Jason, can you get in here. Bring all the stuff from Welch and Barney.”

Once Jason arrives with files in hand, we spend the next hour pouring through the evidence. Kate has come prepared with her own files and explains about the photographs that were sent to Kavanagh Media including the older ones of Mom and Dad. Christian goes back over the evidence that was pulled from Jack’s computer including the files that he had on each family member and the photographs from Detroit. Ana hears for the first time the stories about Sirens and the assaults on Elena, Stella and Linc. We’re purging in the name of clearing the air between the four of us. Then we get to the hard stuff – the week after we got back from Barbados.

“We got back in time for the Coping Together event at Bellevue. I worked security and Kate joined the hospitality team.” Christian and Ana’s mouths are hanging open in disbelief. “We almost had both Leila and Jack that night but they slipped the net.”

“How did you get on the security team? The only team that was there that night was mine.” Christian looks to Jason for confirmation. Jason looks like he wants to be sick.

“Well, they weren’t the only ones there. I had my own team.” Relief washes over Jason’s face. Not tonight buddy. You won’t lose your job because of me.

“How did you not know that his team were there?” Christian expects better of Jason. Knowledge is everything and he pays him to know shit.

“My team were better.” A complete lie but suck on that one anyway, bro. Christian’s mouth firms into a grim line. Nothing would piss him off more than thinking he didn’t have the best guys working for him. He does but his head is so far up his ass sometimes that he doesn’t appreciate their expertise.

“What we did find out that night was the source of the more recent photos. A close friend was being blackmailed as a result of an event that took place at Sirens. That was why we attended the slave auction.” Kate takes over the story, talking mainly to Ana. “Unfortunately, the events of that night brought us to Linc’s attention. Since Linc seems to have a vendetta against all things Grey, Jack couldn’t have found a stronger ally. And Jack’s motivation to take revenge had kicked up a notch since Christian had just fired him for assaulting you at work.”

“I guess Linc has never gotten over your relationship with Elena.” Ana reaches for Christian’s hand. “And this vigilante assault is why he has been threatening you?” She looks at me.

“Yeah. Ana, the guy has an evil streak a mile wide and he likes to take his aggression out on women. No one was willing or able to prosecute so he needed to be taught a lesson. It wouldn’t have helped when we started the boycott on his products. There weren’t many of us but it was enough to hurt, I guess.”

“Shit, Elliot, you sure know how to win friends and influence people. And here I thought you were one of the good guys.” Well, fuck me sideways and call me Sally, I don’t think I have ever heard Ana swear. And did she just take the piss? I can’t help but laugh which at least takes the twisted sand shoe look off Christian’s face.

“He’s still one of the good guys, babe. One of the best.” Gobsmacked, much. Baby brother is actually looking almost proud. “So I’m taking his company down. Whereas before I wondered if I might just be being petty, now I know it is the right thing to do. I want Linc out of business and out of options.”

Right now, I’m worried about the actions of a desperate man. “I don’t disagree with you on this one but the timing of your decision with that shipment today has me a little nervous.”

Ana is about to ask when Kate gets in first. “Ana, a load of materials was delivered to your work site today. They came from Lincoln Timber. With the embargo still in place, everyone in town knows that Linc’s products don’t get used on Casey-Grey projects but no one seems to want to accept responsibility for the mistake. It’s all a little too neat.”

When I phoned Kate with the news she went into detective mode trying to trace the delivery in ways that TJ hadn’t even dreamed were possible including interviewing the drivers and loaders at the depot. How the hell she achieved so much in a few hours I have no idea but she never ceases to amaze me. Only problem is that she came up with nothing. No one was talking.

“You think this was deliberate?” Christian lets Ana ask the question while he flicks through messages on his phone. He frowns just as Kate replies to Ana’s question.

“It would be naive to think anything else. The depot said that they had a number of drivers and loaders who were casuals or contractors. If someone wanted to swap containers or trailers at the last minute it would be difficult but not impossible. They just didn’t think anyone would be that motivated to try. I guess they don’t know Linc well enough.”

“Ros has just confirmed that the move has been made on Lincoln Timber. Linc will know by now that we are about to take him down.”

Jason, who has been guarded and silent for the past half an hour, stands and pulls out his phone and starts talking as he heads to the door. “We need more security at the Broadview site. No, I want them out there tonight.”

Shit,this is going to make the site almost impossible for my guys. “You know this will hold us up. If my crews are working around your security teams it will slow us down.”

“Jesus, that is the least of our fucking worries.” I hold my hands up. It’s his dime. “We can’t take a risk that he won’t do something rash.”

Rash makes it sound tame. Rash might involve bolt cutters and a couple of horny teenagers. Rash does not come close to describing what Linc – a desperate Linc – might try to do.

13 thoughts on “Chapter 18: He Ain’t Heavy

  1. gmbizette says:

    Sasha, yah! You did it and it was awesome!!!!
    Grey brothers unite!
    Thanks for the update ur THE WOMAN!


  2. kaz says:

    Yep ! you covered it all …. What a “chat” it was… love their connection… Unsure if Kates pregnancy even needs sharing now !! I’ve missed you….. 😉


  3. thegreysfan01 says:

    Woah! Awesome chapter Sasha!


  4. twinkie55 says:

    That was wonderful Sasha. I like this Going Grey story very much.


  5. Chris L says:

    I have been meaning to write this for two days, but kids, work, sleep, church, laundry, etc. gone in the way.

    First some comments from a former construction guy and stone mason.

    Redwood or cedar shingles are the more common residential roofing materials in the Pacific Northwest. Asphault shingles predominate in most of the lower 48 states.

    Tile roofing can last 50 -100 years, is reusable, and fully recyclable. An excellent choice for anywhere although its drawbacks are weight, and a vulnerablity to sustained high winds. It is unlikely that tiles would be thrown out on a sustainable rehab project like Christian’s and Ana’ house or by a sustainable contractor like Elliot. If it was replaced, as opposed to reset, the tiles would be sorted, stacked, and palletized for later cleaning offsite, and resale.

    Slate is different from tile. Slate lasts just as long. Can be heavier. Is more expensive. Slate has the same drawbacks as tile. slate requires specialized training to install. A good architect and contractor will avoid using different types of roofing on the same building without good reason because of cost and increased likihood of leaks (copper and other flashings excluded from this comment). Unlikely that tile roofing would be replaced with slate unless you just wanted to spend more on your roof.

    In the USA we call them ‘construction trailers’ or “site trailers’ or just “trailers”. A prefab building would be a premanufactured structure intended for long term use on site.

    Nice touch with the switched materials delivery from Lincoln Timber. Contaminated construction material is a real world problem. On one of the last large projects I was involved with our own high school. A subcontractor supplied imported drywall which was contained. The exporting country uses the stuff themselves often on public works projects. Anyway within two months it was causing problems. All of it had to be removed by crews in HazMat suits and disposed of as hazardous waste as well as other materials damaged by exposure. Cost the firms involved alot of money and delayed the project many months.

    Careful Sasha. Your alter ego is showing in the discussion over Elliot being an outside consultant.

    Off construction. “Twisted sand shoe”? What does that mean?

    A very good chapter. As always I enjoy your writing. This time I like what you are doing with the characters as well. You brilliantly brought your vision of the characters closer to the conventional FSOG story line without losing your own interpretation of their back stories.

    Final thought for now , who is guarding the Treehouse for Elliot and Kate?


    • Chris – thanks for the feedback. As I said in my ff post – this chapter has been rushed, un-beta’d and therefore probably loaded with mistakes but I was feeling a little tetchy about not having posted for either of the main stories in a little while.

      As to your advice. Slate would be the kind of high-end material that I would have expected on a project like this. Christian wouldn’t worry about cost when it is the most durable material that they could use and I would suspect that on a house like this one that is what would have already existed so they would be repairing and using it on the extensions. I don’t actually state how much is being redone on the roof although with the alterations suggested by Gia in the original book I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t have gotten away without having to alter the main support beams and roof line along the Western face of the house. With any restructure like that there is going to be a loss of older materials but then the devil is in the details – I had always intended that in the final handover conversation between Ana and Elliot he would talk about the recycling of the old slate roofing to the floor of the new Western al fresco area amongst other things. Tiling and prefab I accept I should have thought about. Tiling would be such a generic term in the Australian building industry that I would assume no one would think twice about using it interchangeably with any hand laid roofing materials or process.

      As to ‘sandshoe’ – well, Elliot has Australian heritage and it is not an uncommon saying here so it is not outside the realms of possibility that this is something his mother might have said to him before she died. Something along the lines of ‘you’ve got a face like a twisted sandshoe, wipe it off and get over it’.

      Finally, who is guarding the Treehouse? – now that would be telling, wouldn’t it. 🙂


      • Chris L says:

        Thanks, I must have missed the FB post. I will go back and look. (Myself I would use an enameled standing seam metal (galvanized steel) roof. It may not be the prettiest choice or the quitest, but it can withstand heavy rains, high snow loads, and sustained high winds, and has a 50+ year service life. 🙂


  6. Chris L says:

    A random thought: nI have always wondered why Christian did not have a helipad built on the site of the new house or a dock for that matter.


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