Steve and Chuck Go Sailing
Chapter 18

Caution: This Action/Adventure Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa,

Desc: Action/Adventure Sex Story: Chapter 18 - Steve and Chuck sail off to to Europe with their families for business and pleasure. This story will be better understood if you have read the other stories within Florida Friends.


It seemed like just a few minutes ago I was totaled, dead tired, completely exhausted. So what the heck, what's the matter? I never have trouble sleeping. I can even sleep soundly on the hot sand snuggled up against a track, like an APC or an Abrams tank. The shade is always good unless it's too close to mid-day. What's in my head now that I'm having trouble sleeping?

I looked at the clock to see it was only two o'clock, and I was wide awake, tired but definitely wide awake. Oh well, I guess I'll get up and go up to the salon. Perhaps a glass of wine would put me to sleep.

Nothing I did seemed to wake up any of the women, so I was able to slip on shorts, T-shirt, and my peg before going topside to the salon. The place was quiet and peaceful. There weren't any sounds at all, not even any small waves washing against the boat.

After pouring myself a glass of white wine, I sat at the bar staring out at the other boats in the yacht club marina. There were quite a few big boats of well over a hundred feet. Some still had lights on in the salons and portholes.

Shit, what is wrong, what am I worried about? I sure don't have any women problems that I know of, my job is secure and will be waiting for me when we get back. Money? Who needs any more? Oh yeah, money, that's a problem. There's too much of it and more keeps coming in. Ben is like a little boy finding candy in his Easter basket. He has enough, but he just keeps looking.

What am I going to do with this new found wealth? Even Steve and Dewey are talking about not getting into any more capital ventures. I think I also had better tell Ben to cool it. He loves the investing. He gets his rocks off chasing down some leads about off the wall investments that keep turning out good. That's Ben's style, though. He'll find an oddball venture and investigate the hell out of it before he even thinks of putting fifty cents into it. I think if I had just stayed with the money from the first lawsuit, Ben would still have made me rich by now. Certainly not as rich as I am now, but I would have enough to last me a couple of lifetimes. I now have enough to last all of the family forever.

What am I going to do with all that money? Ben got me a lawyer down in Costa Rica so I could invest in local businesses that needed help. He's set up multiple scholarship funds to help needy, but worthy kids continue their schooling. I've given a nice sum to the city down there to improve the water plant and the sewage system. I'm thinking I should build a trade school down there like Steve has at home. That would give a lot of people the knowledge and skills to earn a living. I know I'm helping the economy down there, as there is almost no unemployment.

Mark is having too good a time out on the island. I'm jealous. He is building the runway, and from what he's said, he's already built a good sized hangar, plus installed a pipeline from the utility docks to the new fuel tanks close to the hangar. He said the hangar location is not high enough for underground tanks, but that shouldn't be a problem. I wonder if he might build some houses to replace those FEMA trailers. I'm sure they're nice enough, but from what it sounds like, some of those men are going to be down there for a while. No sense in having their families with them if they're not comfortable.

I can't spend enough money there to make a dent in my current growing stockpile of cash. I'm doing everything I can back home so disabled GI's have accessible housing. A lot of those guys won't take gifts, they're too damned proud. At least they're accepting the free schooling.

Steve told me about a new program that Henry is planning. He's going to send paraplegics and possibly some quadriplegic vets off to accounting and law schools. Hell, I could even sponsor some guys and women to go to medical school. It wouldn't work for them to become nurses, but they could be doctors or research chemists. I'm going to talk to Steve about that. That'll be really expensive and will take some big bucks long term to make it successful. It could be just what I need to dump some of this cash.

Who am I kidding? The whole program won't be but a couple of million a year and the interest off some of my original investments is that much. If Ben's right about the oil deal, that'll be a couple, three billion. That means I can give away a million dollars a day for three thousand days. How am I going to do that, and that doesn't even take in consideration the stupid gold mine that decided to appear? Those people are running out of things to want. When that happens, they will have to import labor because they won't need to work and that will screw up the demographics of their little community.

The wine's helping; I am getting a little sleepy.

"Hi, Chuck. Can't you sleep either?"

I jumped, not expecting anyone to come up behind me. It was Sue. She was wearing a rather sheer peignoir, and it was at least dark enough so light didn't make it transparent.

"Hey, Sue, my mind was whirling from some stuff, so I came up to have a glass of wine. Want a glass? It's helped me to relax a little?"

I could see Sue smile as she pulled herself up to the tall high-backed bar stool. She said, "That sounds good, if you don't mind pouring some for me."

I poured Sue some wine and poured myself a little more. She asked, "Are you worried about playing the concerts this weekend?"

After thinking about it a minute, I said, "Not really. I am a little miffed the deal is for three concerts, but I'll survive. Those performances are high energy affairs that usually go non-stop for two to three solid hours. People pay a lot of money to go to the concerts, so the performers really do try to give the crowd their money's worth."

I looked closely at Sue, "So what has you bothered?"

She was staring at her glass of wine when she said, "Ireland."

"Uh huh," I said, "And what about Ireland."

She said, "Mac sort of talked me into opening a plant there, but everything that should be coming together isn't. The guy that owns the building is screwing with the lease. The local guilds are up in arms because we didn't contact them before we began advertising for seamstress trainees. Then there are too many politicians that already have their hand out. Mac is trying to fend off these problems, but if they're so many now, how bad is it going to be when we're open? If the guild shuts us down, or the politicians say we have an unsafe working environment, we won't be able to do anything about it and this plant will be hours and hours away from home."

Sue took a drink of her wine and said, "The real bad part is poor Serene. She thought she had a real deal for us, and it has backfired on her. She was trying to have housewives and shut-ins make their family patterns of Irish lace material, and the guild wants to get involved again, plus the government doesn't want the people to have to work on a bid system. I'm not going to contract with anyone and give them money while hoping they'll do something for me. At home, I personally can, or have someone supervise a low productivity worker. In Ireland, they have what you would call a no cut employment deal. It takes an act of congress to get rid of a bad worker. Then you could still get sued, probably lose, and have to pay that same worthless seamstress a big settlement. I'm thinking I should back out and forget about helping the Irish."

"Sounds like a mess, Sue."

"It is, Chuck, so what are you up for?"

I chuckled and said, "Don't laugh. I have too much money. I've been trying to spend a lot of it by helping people improve themselves and their surroundings. The problem is that every time I spend a bunch, I all of a sudden get ten times more come in from an unforeseen source. I'm really trying to help a lot of people, but I'm not just going to give them money. I'll help them learn to take care of themselves so they can be successful. You know I am giving away houses for disabled vets. They are being built on some of that land you and Steve bought from an older lady that you helped. I've had the area subdivided with utilities installed, and have made it a golf cart community so people won't have to drive their cars all over the place. A golf cart will be cheaper to operate and can still carry a person who needs a wheelchair."

I told Sue, "That's not a big deal either. It only cost about seventy-five million for the land and infrastructure, and it's only about two hundred grand a house. It's going to take years just to spend a hundred million. After all that, Ben's ecstatic that I'm getting tax deductions. I really want to use all this money that's coming in for good causes. Meanwhile, Ben announces that I, as well as Steve, Dewey, Tiny, and Ben, have become overnight billionaires again on some wild oil drilling deal in Mexico. See, I can't spend it fast enough on good things and more keeps coming in."

Sue laughed and smiled, "Now that is a unique problem. I know you're helping anyone who comes along, and I'm told you're doing a lot down in Costa Rica. All I can say is, keep helping people to help themselves, and enjoy any riches that come your way. You know you're about to have one hell of a big family. That's going to take a bunch of money."

"That's another thing that has me a little worried. I think that as soon as my famous fabulous five are all pregnant and begin giving birth, they are going to migrate back to their own house. They love the new place I built and they helped design, but they are still pretty closed. I've accidentally eavesdropped and heard them discussing it. They don't want to hurt my feelings, and they want to remain my special girlfriends, but they miss their closed environment. I'm going to miss them, and I'm concerned about not being able to be a major part of the kids' lives. That hurts."

Sue patted my hand and said, "You do have some funny girlfriends. Will they take the Asian sisters and Maria with them?"

"They want to take Maria, but I don't think she'll go. She's really happy being a part of me and wants me to be her baby's dad. I want to do that too. I was a little miffed that she decided on her own to get pregnant and sort of did it sneakily, but when I think about it, it is a natural chain of events."

Sue said, "What about Taiying and Sing, do they want a family?"

I said, "We talked about it a little and they were very loving over the thought of having babies. They did say the birth control stuff that's under their skin will take at least another year to wear off, even if it's surgically removed. They are thinking about having that done in the event they want to have babies. You know, those two are still homesick for their lost husbands. It hasn't been long enough for their grieving process to be complete. I think all the changes in their lives have brought them a little happiness, and they seem to be very happy with Lisa, Maria, and me."

Lisa came up to me, surprising me and kissed me, "What's wrong, Hon? Is this multiple concert thing bugging you?"

"No, Baby, I can handle that. It's a few other things that are bothering me."

Lisa said, "I know you're worried your fickle five are going to pick up and go home pretty soon. They probably will, but they'll be back. They love your ass. They'll get so lonely for you and the rest of us that they'll be back. Just don't let them get under your skin. If their flighty nature is a problem for you, cut them out of your life. Otherwise, Honey, you're going to have to put up with their occasional departure for them to only live with each other for a week or so. I'm sure it won't even be a month before they're back. I've been in all their heads and trust me, you are the man, you don't even have to ask, "Who's the Daddy." Lisa chuckled at her own joke.

Lisa had poured herself a glass of wine and refilled mine and Sue's. Sue asked, "So what's your attitude about babies, Lisa?"

Lisa smiled, "I'm going to have some. Don't know how many or when, but I'll have at least a couple. Momma Peaches needs some grandbabies from me and I'll get her some. I don't want to do it while Chuck is doing some of the stuff he's doing. I need to be with him while he's under the gun, literally, as well as figuratively. Chuck and I are talking about it and we'll figure it out. Babies are definitely in our future."

"What's going on up here?"

That was Steve. "I'll bet Chuck is all upset about money and you, Sue, are upset about Ireland. I don't know what your problem is, Lisa, but it's probably because Chuck is upset."

Mercy came up the stairs, following Steve, and said, "What the hell's going on? Chuck's been talking to me all night with a bunch of gibberish about money, and Sue's going nuts trying to make up her mind about Ireland. Come on people, you all need your sleep. We have Italy to tour with another day in Rome now. If we don't do a good job this time, we'll just have to come back and do this all over again. Ed's gonna retire on us with what we're paying him."

I laughed at Mercy's fiery attitude in the middle of the night.

"Hi, People, you're all a bunch of nuts to be up here doing what you're doing and it isn't even sexy."

"Oh, Mom," Mercy said, "I'll bet you were hearing Chuck the same way I was. He shuts me out when I want to hear him, then he goes on full broadcast mode and wakes everyone up."

Lisa giggled, "He does that when he's troubled. He'll shut it down if it's his work, but when it's personal, he's loud and clear."

Missy said, "I'll tell you what to do, Chuck. Keep doing what you're doing. Keep helping people and just forget about how much you have. Have Ben tell you if you're getting short, but forget about it otherwise. Sue's been where you're at, and right now she's not worried about making money. She's fretting about whether she will really be helping the Irish, or just making a few fat cats wealthier and hiring a bunch of worthless employees."

"You hit that on the head, Missy," Sue said. "I'm going to take your advice, though. If I can't have some guarantees in writing, I'm going to pull out. No sense in spending money over here when I have the whole U.S. crying for jobs. As a matter of fact, that's exactly what I'm going to do. I'll talk to that Irish lawyer in the morning and if there aren't a bunch of documented concessions, it's gonna be bye, bye, Ireland."

Steve asked me, "You know, Chuck, you've given more back to the vets and the communities you affect than anyone. You're the one person helping a huge chunk of Costa Rica, and your effect on their economy is still growing. Just keep doing what you're doing."

I nodded and Lisa took my hand, "Come on; let's get another couple hours sleep. You guys should go to bed too."

Sue said, "I'm good now. Missy, go to bed unless you want to snuggle with us instead of Merlin."

Missy said, "The big lug is snoring away, but its music to my ears. I'll go to bed."

I said, "Night, Guys, thanks for the conversation."

As we went below, Lisa said, "I know it's not any of my business, but Steve was saying you're worried about money. I know you have enough, even a lot, so why are you concerned about money?"

We had stopped in the galley to put our glasses in the sink. I took Lisa in my arms and told her, "Lisa, Honey, don't laugh when I tell you this, but I have too much money. I try to use it to help people, but every time I do something good, more money comes my way. Like Steve told me, I'm going to just keep doing what I'm doing and let be what it is."

Lisa held me in her arms with her head against my chest, "Christ, now I'm going to be awake wondering how much you think is too much. How much is that, Chuck?"

"Truthfully, Lisa Baby, I have no idea. I don't think even Ben could give you a straight answer. He could give you an estimate, but probably nowhere near what's accurate."

"Okay," Lisa said, "I'll quit asking. At least I know there is no way we'll run out of money with my predilection for buying guitars."

I laughed, "Naw, and you didn't even buy anything for yourself. You bought it for Bonita and the kids. That's very sweet. Let's go to bed."

We went in, moved some bodies over and lay down. The portholes were open on both sides of the cabin, so we had a nice cool breeze. Lisa and I were instantly asleep.

Two big brown eyes were looking into mine. Bonita said, "You need to get up. Why's everybody so sleepy? Momma Sue is acting sleepy, and Daddy is the same way. Come on, I have a few things for you to hear. I've been up a while and have been practicing. Come on, Sleepyhead, get up."

I was still in shorts and T-shirt, with my leg still strapped on, so I got up, used the head, and walked through the galley toward the stairs. Glenda and Missy smiled at me as Glenda handed me a mug of coffee. It was very comforting to have them smiling at me like that.

Up in the salon, Dewey pointed to his Bloody Mary and raised his eyebrows. I nodded before turning to Bonita. "Okay, sweet thing, what do you have for me this morning?"

She turned on the amp, but didn't turn it way up and began doing the Jimi Hendrix riffs she's heard me do so many times. She went from there to several other familiar riffs that sounded really good. Her little fingers were flying as she sat there grinning, her eyes closed, playing what she was hearing inside her head. Bonita had made it. She was now in the group of music people that hear stuff in their head and are able to express it with their fingers and feet.

When Bonita stopped, she looked at me for approval. I picked up her guitar and put it in her case before picking her up and giving her a big hug. I was holding her like a three year old and she was grinning, holding on to me around my neck. I said, "I'm really proud of you, Bonita. You have made it. You're playing what you hear in your head. Just keep learning, my sweet, keep hunting for the elusive piece of music running around in your head that will be all yours. Until then, just enjoy learning and playing, Honey."

When I put her down, she gave me another hug and went racing down the steps. She obviously hit someone as there was an "Oof!" Steve came up the stairs, shaking his head. "What's my youngest so wild about?"

Steve didn't even pause as he walked straight to the bar and picked up the Bloody Mary Dewey had made for me. I made another for myself, and sat it on the bar. Before I could get back around, Lisa came up and said, "Just what I need."

Oh well, I can make another. I did, but John came to the bar and asked, "Is that for me? I think Wanda's going to want one too."

I ended up making about a dozen tall Bloody Marys and was into the third bottle of mix by the time I had one for myself. I kept thinking I would run out of ice, but the icemaker really puts out a lot of ice. I wonder how our fresh water supply is doing. I know we're hooked up to shore power, but I don't know whether the desalination system works when we're docked.

"Steve, Dewey, does the desalination system still work when we're docked? Is that an option, considering the water here may not be as good as what we're used too?"

Steve said he didn't know, but Dewey said, "You have one hell of filtration system in order to be able to use almost any local water. The water is automatically tested before and after the first set of filters, then redirected to the correct type of charcoal filter and/or the electronic water filter and softener system. You won't have any fall off in quality. If you get a warning light on the panel at the helm, it means that you have to check the system. It might only need some charcoal or the main filter changed. The filters should last at least most of a year though, and this is like a new boat."

"Thanks, Dewey; I'm glad you've been investigating the systems. I thought I had read the literature on all the systems, but I couldn't answer that one." I felt a little inadequate that I didn't know my own boat.

Breakfast was announced from the top of the stairs by Jan. As we went down, Sue was coming up. She told Steve, "I'm going over to the Irish Bell and talk to Mac. We'll use his phone and call people. I'll let him listen in so he knows what I'll use to make my decision."

Steve asked, "Do you want me to come along?"

"No," Sue answered, "This is actually my deal, and I need to be the one who says deal or no deal, like that TV game show."

All of the rest of us went down to breakfast.


After last night, I made up my mind to listen to my people and the Irish legal representative we hired, before deciding what to do, and I can advise Mac at the same time. I'm sure Mac will want to have some input, but this is my deal and I don't want to make a mistake.

I walked through the doors on the main deck and met one of the female attendants. She was surprised to see me, but I told her, "Take me to Mac. I need to talk to him."

The girl almost didn't want to do it, as she said she wasn't an upstairs person. She was assigned the main deck and below. I told her not to worry, as I didn't have the time to hunt him down, so just show me where he is.

We went up a flight of stairs or ladder, and she pointed at a pair of double doors. Someone came from what obviously was the galley, carrying a tray of food. I followed him in and spied Mac at the head of the table. I went to him as he was sipping coffee, "Good morning, Mac. I need to talk to you. Do you have an office on board or should we go to the office on the Lucky Lady?"

Mac nodded and said, "We have an office. Possibly not as functional as yours, but it should work."

I asked, "You do have a phone, right?"

Mac smiled and said rather sarcastically, "Yes, we're pretty modern. We have a phone system with a couple of cellular lines for us to use."

That was more than we had. We didn't have a phone system, but we did have something like that, as we had a satellite phone and a very good intercom.

When Mac and I left the big dining room to go to the office, Serene followed us. She obviously felt she was invested in this deal. Instead of going down to the office like in our boat, we actually went up another level where there were a couple of office doors, or at least they looked like offices. Mac explained while pointing at one of the doors, "That's the Captain's quarters and office. It is quite expansive and very nice. He deserves it though, considering his responsibilities."

Inside the office, Mac sat in the big chair behind the desk and put the phone in the center of the top surface. "Here, Sue, I'm sure you want to talk to a few people. I've worked on people to the best of my ability. You'll have to see if it's enough and make a decision."

I first called the girls and Jeff at an office at their hotel. Jeff answered, "Hey, Boss lady, it's you right? Who else would be calling at this hour of the morning? Ready for a report?"

I said, "That's exactly what I want, Jeff. Give it to me straight, but keep it clean as there are a couple of people listening on the speakerphone."

"Gotcha, Boss lady."

"It's Sue, Jeff."

Jeff sighed, "Okay, Sue, here goes. I've worked with the lawyer type Mac sent to work on these problems, and had him work with the legal counsel you hired for us. They've made a lot of progress with most of the items on your list." There was a pause, as you could hear paper being shuffled. "First, the landlord of the building is now going to lease the building to us at almost ten percent less than you had agreed on initially. I thought he was going to have a coronary when I tore up his lease in front of him and walked out the door. Anyway, he came to see us a couple of hours later with the new lease that Mac's and our lawyer both said is sound. That's a bonus."

We were able to pacify the politicos about permitting, and no under the table type payments. It got their attention when they were told that if you don't develop the factory, they would be losing all of that future tax revenue. We told them we're improving the building, so their city will look even better, and the building will probably have a higher assessed value. If the factory isn't started, none of that will happen. They were asked if they were willing to confront all of the people that were anticipating getting jobs at the facility. I think Mac had some conversations with them too, and the two lawyers said they had raised hell in a council meeting. We shouldn't have too much trouble with that group in the future."

"Sue, I think the politicos had a serious chat with the Guild leader. When our lawyer told him that we would not give him one red cent personally, the guy went nuts. Our lawyer told him, you know, these people are American, the great unruly class that like to shoot people. He told him that you were in Italy right now, negotiating with some people to possibly come and resolve your problems. The man had some kind of seizure or stroke. Right before our eyes the guy began acting really scared and then began convulsing. According to the paramedics, he's going to be alright, but probably won't be the guild leader any longer. We'll have to see who or what we get to replace him. If you decide to stay here, I think our threats could continue to work."

I said, "Jesus, Jeff, you didn't have to scare the guy to death."

Jeff answered, "I'm just intimidating them like they've been trying to intimidate you. Oh, I need to tell you, when the landlord came back with the lease offer, your lawyer made the guy sign off on doing all the remodeling for you, so that cost is going to be buried. At this second, Sue, I think you have a go."

I looked at Serene and asked Jeff, "What do you think about the lace material thing?"

Jeff answered, "That's been partially taken care of. There is another guild that works with home workers and woman's crafts. It's kind of like having a representative for a group of hobbyists who sell what they make. Anyway, this guy thinks it would be a great competition to have about four shows a year, where all the creators bring their craft products to a central point. Then you, and whatever buyers you can interest in the material, can buy what you and they want. He also said that there were many women who made other types of lace, so you may be able to pick up several different types of products to adorn yours. That should keep the quality up, plus you'll get a commission from the other buyers for putting on the shows. It'll probably be a break even thing, but it will get you the lace material you want."

I sat back, thinking, before asking Jeff, "Is there any need to call our attorney?"

Jeff had a smile in his voice, "None at all, Boss lady, he's sitting next to me."

I laughed and I could hear the attorney at the other end of the call laughing. I said, "Well, if he's heard everything you said and he hasn't contradicted you yet. Jeff, I know you don't work for Quality Wear, so I thank you for handling this for me. I'll make sure the boss man at S&S knows how much you helped me."

Now it was Jeff's turn to chuckle. "Okay, Sue, so it's finally okay for me to go home? Do you have enough information to make a decision?"

"Go home, Jeff, the big thing left now is that we have to find a couple of people to run the factory and lead the seamstresses."

One of the girls on the call said, "I have an idea, Sue. It's going to take a couple of months to get the building ready and all of the machines in place. How about we send six to ten ladies to your school at home, along with a couple of men who have machine repair experience, to the school for that? We can evaluate them both in class and during practical application in our plants. We can use these lead seamstresses to teach our way of working to the other new hires. We'll still have our school like we planned, but we'll have some locals trained to be the teachers that are trained by our people to train others."

I told her, "That's a hell of an idea. Make it happen. Now the tough problem, do you have any leads for management?"

She answered, "Not yet, but we have a bunch of qualified people responding to our ads. Now that we have the bullshit taken care of, we should be able to select someone to ship off to our plants at home to learn how we do business."

"Good deal," I said, "It's a go. I'm going to make this happen. With the landlord kicking in for the remodeling, we're going to be in good shape. We're going to need some reps for our products over there. They'll need to be multi-lingual to work in all of the adjoining countries. See if you can find some."

I heard, "We'll work on it, Sue. Thanks, now we feel as if our efforts are worth something."

Jeff closed the conversation with, "You can cancel that Italian deal you were working on to take care of things over here, okay? That might be a little heavy-handed since they did come around." Jeff and the ladies said goodbye and the connection went dead.

I didn't want to laugh as I watched Mac's face, flush from fear, as he wondered if I would really go that far.

I turned to Serene, "Does that sound like an equitable solution to the cottage industry?"

Serene stood and approached me, smiled and said, "Yes'em, that is wonderful. My grandmother, my mother, aunts, and sisters will be excited to know they can make some money for their families. If you want more of the other types of lace, they can all do that and will be happy to make it for you."

I told her, "The better lace will bring better money. I'm sure we'll have plenty of need for the Irish lace, but our designers will really enjoy some exquisite handmade pure lace." As I stood, Serene hugged me to her pregnant body, surprising me with a very intense kiss on the lips.

Mac looked at me and asked, "Were you really going to send someone to Ireland? Would you really do that?"

I winked at Mac, "There's no need for that now, is there, Mac?"

Standing, I offered my hand to the nervous Mac so we could go back to their dining room. I said my goodbyes and left to see if I could still get something to eat on the Lucky Lady. I felt like I was walking on air.

As soon as I came into our big galley dining area, Steve knew I had been successful and that we were opening a plant in Ireland. I gave him a brief summary of what we were going to do, and he was smiling as I stuffed my breakfast down.

Eduardo was already there and eating. He didn't like to miss meals, but he did say, as he was still blinking away the sleep from his eyes, "Romans are not used to being up at such hours unless they are bakers, but thanks to your generous donations to various museums, I have even succeeded in persuading some of my fellow Romans to welcome us at an early hour."

Since we had advised Ed that we had decided to remain in Rome for the week, instead of traveling the country, he gave us a description of what he had been able to put together for today. He said, "Our first stop will be the Villa Borghese. It is in the midst of a beautiful park just outside the northern gate of Rome's ancient Aurelian walls. After that, I will have a surprise for you."

I could tell Steve and Dewey were anxious about something, and when Ed was trying to get our attention to begin the day, Steve came to me and said, "I need to go see Hans, and today will be a good day to do it. Dewey's coming with me as he has a contact there he wants to talk to. You guys have a good time. Dewey and I will be back tonight or in the morning. I don't want to miss the concert Friday night and would prefer to be rested for it. Thursday or Friday, Dewey and I are planning to tour the Italian facility. I've tried to stay out of there so they are not bothered by big shots wandering around, but the plant manager found out we're here and has formally invited us to tour the plant."

After a pause, Steve continued, "Have you talked to Chuck about getting us seats for this sold out concert? There's too many of us to get stage passes, and from what I've heard, the shows are sold out."

Chuck and Lisa were sleepily eating, when Chuck stopped and looked at me, "I didn't think about you guys not being able to come. I'll have Kenny talk to his agent to make sure we have what, about seventy-five seats?"

Steve said, "If you can get any extra tickets, I'm sure Ed would enjoy going. I'm sure any extra tickets we can find will have homes as soon as we get them."

Ed was still trying to get us to get going, so we cleaned up the galley and dining area, and headed out to the bus while Steve and Dewey put small bags together and called the concierge at the yacht club to get them a taxi.

Steve had something else up his sleeve, and I think I know what. I cornered Mercy and said, "Is this sudden trip Steve's going on have something to do with some flying time?"

Mercy smiled, "Are you becoming clairvoyant too?"

I grinned at my special partner and said, "No, I just know Steve. He's probably itching to fly and this is a good excuse. I know he was making some kind of deal down in the office last night. I'd bet it was for chartering a plane. I wonder what he's getting."

Mercy and I were getting on the bus when she said, "I think it's a type of Lear jet. They want to get to Germany and back in one day."

I told her, "It makes sense then for them to do that. They could have chartered a plane with a pilot, but Steve is too independent to want to be ferried around." I looked at all of the expectant faces of our families and said, "Oh well, we're going to have another great day touring Rome. We're going to have to plan to come back to Italy to see some of the rest of it."

As soon as we were in route, Ed began handing out headsets with small antennae, saying, "Wear these and you will be able to hear me without me raising my voice, even when we are in the midst of crowds."

The bus took us to a spacious park with curving avenues, through beech trees and umbrella pines, before it pulled up in front of a large house, or what could be considered a small palace. As Ed led us from the bus and inside, he began, "Normally, visitors are metered through this museum at the rate of one hundred or so an hour. Today, you have it all to yourselves. We could spend a week just in this museum, but we are going to focus on just a few items."

Ed slowly led us upstairs through ornate halls, so we could gawk on the way to a marble statue of a figure with feet firmly planted, teeth clenched, body twisted in motion, and an old fashioned sling in one hand. Through our headsets, Ed told us, "This is David, by GianLorenzo Bernini, the Popes' favorite sculptor and architect of the 1600s. Most other sculptors carved David after he had killed Goliath, often with one foot on the giant's severed head, but here David is in the very act of slinging the fatal stone."

I couldn't believe that a stone sculpture could express such energy and motion.

As he slowly led us on, Ed continued, "In this next room, there is another Bernini sculpture, 'Daphne Pursued by Apollo." Daphne was a wood naiad or nymph who resisted Apollo's amorous approaches. When he pursued her, she called out to her father, a minor god of the woods. He changed her into a tree to save her. The sculpture shows her in the midst of transformation, with fingers turning into leafy twigs and a vine starting from her mouth. Her garments trail between her and Apollo, carved from marble so thin that you can see light shining through it."

After a pause, Ed began again, "This is how the story of Daphne, the daughter of Amyklas, is really related. She used to never go down into the town, and didn't consort with the other maidens; but she got a large pack of hounds together and used them to hunt, either in Lakonia, or sometimes going into the further mountains of the Peloponnese. For this reason, she was very dear to Artemis, who gave her the gift of shooting straight. On one occasion, she was traversing the country of Elis, and there Leukippos, the son of Oinomaus, fell in love with her; he resolved not to woo her in any common way, but assumed women's clothes, and in the guise of a maiden, joined her hunt. It happened that she soon became extremely fond of him, wouldn't let her leave her side, embracing him and clinging to him at all times. But Apollon, or Apollo, was also fired up with love for the girl, and it was with feelings of anger and jealousy that he saw Leukippos always with her; he therefore put it into her mind to visit a stream with her attendant maidens, and there to bathe. On their arrival there, they all began to strip; and when they saw that Leukippos was unwilling to follow their example, they tore his clothes from him. When they thus became aware of the deceit he had practiced, and the plot he had devised against them, they all plunged their spears into his body. He, by the will of the gods, disappeared; but Daphne, seeing Apollon advancing upon her, ran away. As he pursued her, she implored Zeus that she might be translated away from mortal sight, and she is supposed to have become the bay tree which is called daphne after her. The sculpture is the result of that tale."

Ed added, "There are other stories of the wood nymph that are equally as interesting. Read them when you have opportunity."

It took several minutes for all of us to take in the beautiful sculpture, before Ed continued, "All around you in this room, the walls are lined with tapestries designed by Raphael."

We were all stunned by the statue, but we women, especially me, were focused on the textile art on the walls. I suppose it was a kind of professional courtesy and all that.

Ed showed us a few other works by famous names such as Caravaggio, Velasquez, and even Rembrandt, before we were led outside for the next step. Here, we were greeted by the promised surprise.

Ed presented to us, "This is a Segway. A two-wheeled, gyroscopically stabilized scooter that you stand on and steer by body motion." He stepped onto the platform of the scooter, grasping the handlebars, and moved forward and back, steering just by leaning his body.

Announcing to us, "There is one for everyone. Pick one out and you try it. We'll have to make sure the younger ones can handle the scooter too."

Well, between the adult's flight and martial arts training and the kid's martial arts and experience with dirt bikes, we were all up and running in less than ten minutes. Glenda was a little hesitant at first, but she adapted quickly and was leading Martin around the little plaza where we were at. The bulging pregnant women had a little trouble adjusting their unbalanced weight, but the Segway even countered their weight shift. Ed said, "As I've said before, and as we have done the past two days, Rome is a city that should be seen on foot. You don't have time for that, and it would be very tiring to see so much, so quickly, just on foot, so this seemed like a good compromise. Follow me!"

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