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His colleague makes his morning exciting.

I suppose they could go off on their own and do their own thing. Maybe they'd stay at the condo while the party went on at The Meadows. We could work things out, I'm sure."

Deke said, "The last thing I think about is the money angle. How do we participate? How do we contribute so you're not carrying all of us like a bunch of freeloaders?"

I protested, "The money is not even an eye blink to me. I'm not even aware of what some of the things cost; Sheila has handled that for me for the past decade. I have principles about promptly paying a bill, and not wasting time on protesting small charges that she adheres to I suppose."

"So you don't know what a dinner for all of us costs here?" Deke posed. He gestured around the otherwise empty restaurant that had started to fill up with delightful aromas from the kitchen area.

"I guess I could estimate it. I see the prices on the menu. What are there typically, thirteen or fifteen of us at fifty to a hundred dollars a person? Deke, I might make or lose that much in less than a second in my business dealings. It's inconsequential, whereas to you that's a large chunk of your take home pay."

Deke smiled, "And for certain occasions, you should allow each of us to pay for something like that. It's a matter of pride and a sense of contributing to the family in some way. We need that validation and sense of belonging, especially as guys. You know, real men carry their own weight."

"For me it's a way of showing my love. I want to shower everybody with gifts."

Deke held a finger up, "You're going to become a father, so what do you do when your child or teenager wants a large chunk of money? Do you just hand over a pile of bills?"

I shook my head, "No. I'd want to know what the money was for. I'd also want to develop a sense of balance in my offspring about money, and dealing fairly with other people. I'd want them to learn from mistakes of not making wise spending decisions, so on that basis they'd have to feel there wasn't an infinite amount of money they could draw on anytime they wanted. I want them to learn the value of money, and what it can and can't buy. I want them to learn to budget, to save and prioritize, to have a work ethic, and maybe I'd want to hinge giving them money on their behavior or contribution to the family by doing chores or something."

Deke smiled, "I rest my case. Financially, we're your children, except we don't want you to give us your money, we want you to allow us to spend ours so we can do all those things you just rattled off. In all our cases that I'm aware of, that means we want to spend our money, just as you do, on the rest of us. We each want to pay for a group dinner or buy a Christmas tree or get just the right piece of furniture or art for some place in one of your homes. Please allow us those opportunities."

I guess I'd paid attention for the first time about this argument, plus Deke's points and the way he made them with me were powerful. I would change my approach with everyone.

I asked, "So, all that discussion taken into account, do you like the idea of being part of the inner circle - a large family?"

Deke grinned broadly, "Hell, yes. I can't wait."


"Good morning San Juan Center. November One Mike Whiskey with you out of flight level three one zero for one-one thousand."

The radio squawked in my headset, "Good morning One Mike Whiskey. Descend to one-one thousand. Proceed on course. Altimeter is three-zero-one-seven."

I clicked the microphone twice rather than further duplicate the instructions. The modified Boeing 737 jet was flying perfectly, headed straight for STX, otherwise named the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport located six miles southwest of Christiansted on the island of St. Croix, and about eight miles from our villa. Most pilots referred to the airport as St. Croix rather than the longer name honoring a member of Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.

I glanced at the clock on the instrument panel that automatically synced to the time broadcasts by the various air traffic control centers - ten-forty-

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