Chapter 4: Challenges of Altruism

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 17

The Rockstar’s homecoming from the hospital was akin to the clusters of adoring fans he experienced during his many years as a performer.  This one was different as the greeters were the people he loved most in his life.  Front and centre were Jody, Mikey and Mariah.  Jody had reluctantly agreed after a couple of days, the long hours at the hospital were taxing on the children and they would be better at home.  The Rockstar was able to leave the hospital after a 5-day convalescence from the surgery to remove and repair the damage caused by the shaft of the spear striking and lodging in his left side.  Fortunately, the damage was limited to muscle repair as no organs were involved.  The wound was painful and Aaron would have a noticeable scar to remind him of the incident. 

Jody, holding Mariah with Mikey beside her, was standing waiting for Alika to pull the Mustang to a stop.  Mikey bolted forward to welcome his Dad as he exited warily from the passenger door.  The Rockstar kneeled down gingerly to hold his son for whom he was so glad was safe.  He hoped the trauma of witnessing the attack would not linger with this special child.  With Jody’s assistance, he stood up and clutched her long and hard.  Aaron was overcome by the joy he was able to be with his family again.

While hugging his family, Aaron looked for the dog that saved his life.  Apollo was straining at the leash held by Koa.  When signaled by Aaron, Koa released the brave Malinois who gingerly came over to where the Rockstar was kneeling.  It was obvious from the lengthy shave mark and the multitude of stiches on his chest and shoulder, Apollo had been seriously hurt in the attack.  The Rockstar held the dog’s head and allowed him to extend his greeting licks.  Aaron began to sob as he thanked the dog for saving his life.  A bond was established between them both that would never be severed.

The Rockstar struggled to his feet again with Jody’s assistance to greet the staff.  He hugged Luana, shook hands with Koa and smiled warmly at the others.  Even Zeus welcomed Aaron with a nuzzle, then quickly turned his watchful eye on Mariah and Jody all the while scanning the landscape for anomalies. 

After a 2-hour rest in the coolness of his bedroom, the Rockstar felt the need to get some late afternoon sun.  While he was stretched out on a lounge and enjoying the view, Alika and Apollo approached Aaron.  “I don’t want to do this on your first day home Aaron but the attack is tearing me up inside!  I let you down.  I failed to protect you and prevent what happened.  I didn’t do my job and keep my promise to keep you safe.  Here is my letter of resignation.”

Aaron took a deep and somewhat painful breath and responded.  “Alika, I don’t see what happened that way at all.  I am alive today thanks to you.  Apollo, the dog you trained, saved my life.  There was no way Mikey and I would be alive today if it wasn’t for you.  Nobody could ever imagine what lengths Rick Berman would go to get revenge.  We do now and we must all do what it takes to end it with Berman.  Thanks to you and Apollo, he missed his best chance.”

“Thank you Aaron.  I still feel I let you down.”

“Alika, you will let me down if you leave us now.  Who knows better what now needs to be done?  Who is better positioned to bring this to a close with Berman?  Who is better than you, a member of our family, to keep us all safe?  I won’t accept your resignation!”  With that, the Rockstar tore up Alika’s letter.  Struggling to his feet, Aaron hugged the large Hawaiian.  Apollo showed he was pleased by licking the hands of both of his friends.

That night at the homecoming Luau on the pool deck prepared by Jody and Luana, a genuine celebration was held.  It was not lost on everyone there a major tragedy had been averted and everyone was even closer as a result.  Aaron again expressed his gratitude to everyone for taking such good care of the family.  As part of moving forward, he announced that he and Alika’s new mission was to eliminate all threats to the family safety.  There would be some changes to the procedures in place currently but there should not be any cause for anyone to feel unsafe.  Alika nodded his commitment to the mission.  Aaron closed with the announcement that Apollo is now officially retired as a guard dog and he was now going to spend the rest of his life as Mikey’s dog.  Mikey screamed with joy and hugged his new dog.

Before diving into the incredible spread of food, Alika requested the opportunity to say a few words.  “I want to thank the Donnellys for allowing me to be part of the family.  I vow that you all will be safe.  The people behind the incident at the tidal pool will be dealt with.  Not only are the Donnellys the reason for my vow.  Tonight, Luana accepted my proposal of marriage.  We plan to marry very soon and I will have a wife to protect.”  A tumultuous cheer arose from the assembled growing family.

Upon a few more days of rest and sun, the Rockstar felt up to dealing with the tidal pool incident.  He, Alika, the Honolulu Police Department detectives in charge of the case and the president of the security company met to share information and determine a plan of action.  Jason Koffman joined the meeting at the estate via speaker phone to share information on what had been done about Berman in Canada.  Detective Katsumoto spoke for the HPD team.  “It is good to see the progress of your healing Mr. Donnelly. I’m sure you want to know about your assailant.  His name is Haku Mahelona.  He is the same guy that the security company encountered that day at the gate to your property.  He is in pretty rough shape under guard in the Honolulu hospital.  Your dog injured his lower arms so badly that he will have very limited use of them in the future.  He is under arrest and will stand trial when he is able.”

“Detective Katsumoto, Jason Koffman here.  Have you been able to connect him to Rick Berman in any fashion as yet?”

“No Mr. Koffman.  Mahelona is not talking but we are investigating.  We know he is connected to Ross Cutler and we are now, with the attempted murder, are pursuing both party’s connections with Berman aggressively.”

“Detective, our police in Calgary and a private investigator have uncovered some leads.  I will forward them to you at HPD.  They may help if we work from both ends.  Berman is very dangerous and can’t be allowed to dodge this one.”

“Thank you sir.  HPD will share information with you also.  We certainly don’t need a man like Berman causing problems in Hawaii.”

The president of the security company wondered out loud.  “I wonder if the photos of Mahelona’s injured hands and arms got into the hands of people for hire whether it might serve as a deterrent?”  Hitchhiking on the idea, Jason wondered if Berman saw the consequence of his alleged failed attempt, he might wonder about the value of using violence.  No one offered further commentary but later photographs of the injured extremities of Mahelona reached some nefarious key people.

Before having to leave, Detective Katsumoto opened one last door.  “Mr. Donnelly, it is in the police report of the incidence but what exactly did Mahelona say to you as he was pulling the trigger on the speargun pointed at you?”

He said, “This is from Berman!”

“Were those his exact words?”

“They were!”

“Did your son hear Mahelona speak?”

“I don’t know.  We are choosing to not to initiate talk about that day with him.  He is very young and we don’t want him to have to deal with it right now.  We are there for him but have no plan to initiate anything.  Why do you ask?”

“When it comes to a trial, his recollection would be very hard to refute if it was captured on tape now during the investigation.”

The Rockstar thought for a moment and responded.  “Mikey has not said a word about that day as yet.  He will but not right away.  I will talk to my wife Jody as she knows him best.  Call me tomorrow and maybe we can set something up.  I am very tired now and need to rest a bit.  Is everyone okay if we adjourn?”  The meeting ended.

Jody and Aaron talked about Detective Katsumoto’s request long after the children were in bed.  Luana and Alika had joined them for a glass of wine as they sat overlooking the beach in the moonlight.  After a toast to the newly betrothed, the Rockstar raised the issue inherent in the request.  “How do you think Mikey is doing after what he has gone through on the peninsula Jody?”

“I am not sure Aaron as he has not even posed any questions about the incident to me.  He seems fine but I am not really sure.  Luana, what do you think?”

“I am not sure either Jody.  He seems just the same.  I don’t know how anyone could experience what he did and not be upset.  Maybe he is blocking it from his mind.”

“I’ve noticed he talks a lot to Apollo.” offered Alika.  “I don’t know what he is saying for sure but I have heard phrases.  I heard him thank Apollo for saving him.  He also promised Apollo he would always take care of him.  That’s all I have heard.  Is he having nightmares?”

“No!” said Jody.  “He has not even requested to come into bed with us.  That’s not new as since he did so the odd time when Mariah first arrived.  He seems to be sleeping fine as he always has.”

“He seems okay to me.” noted Aaron.  “I get the feeling he is trying to figure things out and when he does, he will let us know and then everything will be alright.”

“I think we should let the detective ask him the question Aaron.” offered Jody.  “If it is structured well, Mikey will answer and maybe it will show him that something is being done to deal with the incident.  I think it will get him talking to us instead of Apollo.  Apollo is safe because he was there and did something.  Mikey knows that and he is not seeing any of us doing anything.”

“Those are good points Jody.  I think you are right.  I will call the detective tomorrow morning.  We will get him to come out right after Alika and I finish our first lesson with Mikey in taking care of his new dog.”  He squeezed Jody’s hand.

A somewhat new normal returned to the estate.  “Daddy, Daddy!  Apollo and I are ready to be trained!  Can we start now?” Aaron awoke with his usual start and look into the face of his son and a Malinois peering at him from the edge of his bed.  A chuckle was heard from Jody as she rolled over to grab a few minutes of extra sleep before Mariah stirred and wanted to be fed.  Life was indeed returning to normal in the Donnelly household.

After a quick breakfast, the new pet owners walked to the large pen where Alika was caring for all of the guard dogs.  Mikey watched Alika feed the dogs and check their teeth and paws.  He then began to brush the dogs.  Mikey watched and mimicked everything Alika did with the dogs to Apollo being extra careful about the dog’s stitches.  Aaron did the same with Zeus.  Mikey posed a steady stream of questions about why each item needed to be done.  Alika explained everything in detail so that Mikey could understand.  “Mikey, Apollo is a very intelligent dog.  He needs very special treatment because he is so smart.  Apollo loves you and will do anything to keep you safe and you must treat him exactly the same way every time.  That will keep him happy.”

“I will Alika.  I want him to be happy as my dog.”

“Apollo needs lots of exercise.  Until he gets his stitches removed, we have to exercise him very carefully.  Let’s take Apollo and Zeus for a short walk.  We won’t use leashes today.  We will use our voices and commands to control the dogs.  Do you know the commands Mikey?”

“No Alika.  I just talk to Apollo and he knows exactly what I want.”  Aaron smiled at the exchange.  Alika was learning.

“Okay Mikey.  Watch me work with Zeus.  Then you work with Apollo.”  Alika, with Zeus at his side, stood for several seconds.  On Alika’s command of “Forward”, Zeus moved forward cautiously while scanning all around.  Suddenly Alika said “Stop”.  Zeus stopped but kept looking around.  Alika with his calm, quiet voice commanded Zeus to “Sit”.  Zeus immediately sat on his haunches but still was very aware of what was going on around him.  “Okay Mikey, you do the same with Apollo.”

Mikey looked at Apollo and said, “Check all around us and see if we are all safe.”  Apollo looked at Mikey for a few seconds and then began to trot around the little boy in every widening circles.  When he had determined that everyone was safe, Apollo stood and awaited his next instruction.  In a voice that was barely audible, Mikey told Apollo to lay down and rest for a few minutes.  Apollo immediately lay down.  The Rockstar and Alika both had looks of total surprise on their face.  Apollo had done exactly what Mikey asked him to do.  It was as if the dog and Mikey were totally connected.

Shaking his head in disbelief, Alika offered his next information about dog training to Mikey.  “Malinois need lots of exercise to keep them healthy and happy.  They love to run and chase tennis balls.”  With that, Alika threw a tennis ball out into the trees surrounding the open space in which they were working.  He then commanded Zeus to “Fetch”.  Zeus rocketed off in the direction he saw the ball go.  He returned in less than a minute, dropped the ball at Alika’s feet, and was ready to retrieve the ball again.

Mikey asked Alika to throw the ball into a different part of the brush for Apollo.  Turning to his dog he said in a quiet voice, “Go fetch the ball that Alika will throw.  Go slowly so as not to hurt your chest.  Bring it back to me please.”  Apollo watched as Alika threw the tennis ball.  He gingerly trotted off and in just over a minute, brought back the ball and dropped it at Mikey’s feet.  He then lay down beside Mikey and looked up at him in anticipation of a chance to do it again.  Alika and the Rockstar just shook their heads in disbelief but knowing they just had a lesson in metaphysical dog training from a 5-year-old.

Detective Katsumoto was ushered through the electronic gates by the security guard who was radioed to do so while on patrol of the estate with one of the dogs.  As agreed to in order to ensure the legal viability of the information Mikey could offer, the detective was ushered into the lanai where Mikey and Apollo were waiting.  Katsumoto introduced himself to the youngster.  “Hi Mikey, I am Detective Katsumoto with the Honolulu Police Department.  I need to ask just one question about what happened at the tidal pool a week ago.  I would like to record your answer on this tape recorder if I may?”

“You may!” was Mikey’s response.

Katsumoto spoke into the tape recorder.  “This tape was made on November 28, 1986.  Present was Detective Tim Katsumoto and Michael Donnelly.  This tape is unrehearsed and an affidavit has been procured indicating Michael has not spoken to anyone about the event on the Donnelly estate of November 21, 1986.  Mikey, did you hear the man in the black rubber suit say anything before he pulled the trigger on his speargun?”

“I did.  The man in the black rubber suit said ‘this is from Berman’.”  A tear formed in the little boy’s eye.

“Is there anything more you want to tell me Mikey?”

“No, I want to talk to my Mom and Dad now!  My Dad protected me from that man and got hurt.  My dog stopped that man from hurting us.  My dog got hurt for trying to keep us safe.  What are you going to do to stop Berman from hurting the people I love?  With that, Mikey began to cry prompting his parents to rush into the lanai.  A very sheepish detective picked up his tape recorder and stepped outside on to the pool deck while the parents took care of their little boy.  Katsumoto vowed silently to himself that he would see that Berman would be held accountable to what he was doing to the Donnelly family.

The big test of how the healing the whole family was working on came with Aaron asking Mikey if he would like to see if there were any new shells in the tidal pools.  Several days had passed with many family talks, answering Mikey’s many questions and a lot of tears and hugs.  Mikey had totally immersed himself in taking care of Apollo who, after having his stitches removed, began to run guardedly.  One afternoon when the tide was going out, the Rockstar asked the tidal pool question.  Mikey hesitated and said he would like to just walk the peninsula with Apollo and his Mom and Dad.  He didn’t want to snorkel.  With Mikey between them, the trio and Apollo walked slowly down the emerging rock and coral reef.  Alika and Zeus kept a watchful eye from the shore.  Both Mikey and Apollo set a very slow pace as if it was a time to reflect upon an event before reaching its location.  When they came to the fateful tide pool, all clustered closely and looked out wistfully over the gentle surf.No one made a sound as all were alone with their own thoughts.  The soft peacefulness of the scene and the whisper of the surf seemed to cleanse their minds.  After spending several minutes soaking up the serenity of the ocean, the surf, the birds and the beach, Mikey knelt down and put his arms around Apollo’s neck and whispered, “We are safe now!  I can feel it in my heart.”  Mikey stood up, hugged his parents and took them to the edge of the pool and drew their attention to the many pieces of sea glass that covered the sand at its bottom.

The captivating sound of a sequence of rich chords resonated through the estate home of the Donnellys.  The clarity of chord’s from an original Fender Stratocaster and amp set to full reverb signaled the Rockstar had returned to his music.  Intentionally leaving the music room door open caused the family to be drawn to the music source.  Aaron played the sequenced chords and punctuated them with some unique licks from his guitar as if he was the Pied Piper drawing people to him.  When he noticed the assemblage, he finished his last run with a flourish and a big smile.  “That felt good.  I feel good.  Anybody want to hear a cover of a song I have been working on?”

“Of course we do but you have to turn the volume down!”  Everyone laughed at Jody’s admonition.

“This is a song based on one written by my good friend Mac Davis.  He recorded it several years ago.  He wrote it about his son.  My version is about my son Mikey.”  The Rockstar then played the Intro chord sequence on his Strat.He began the first verse using a finger picking strategy he had learned from Chet Atkins.  Mikey’s face beamed as his Dad sang the lyric “watching Mikey grow” which was repeated frequently as was the phrase “that’s my boy”.  When he sang the Extro line that followed the chorus, many in the audience began to cry.  They were tears of gratitude that “We and God are watching Mikey grow”! 

Aaron and Jody worked hard on compiling a set list to propose for the ‘Bedtime Songs’ album.  There was a balance and diversity of songs crafted by each of them and some they developed together.  All in all, it was a good package from which they chose 4 songs to record as a demo tape to send to George and Paul on the mainland.  The demo tape naturally included the Donnelly family version with the ukulele version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and Jody’s ‘Follow Your Dreams’.  The family had fun recording the demo tape in the music room.  It was a much-needed happy time for all. 

In addition, the Rockstar and Jody recorded versions of a few covers of songs that didn’t fit the concept of bedtime stories but were songs about children that were fun to do.  They crafted some entertaining versions of ‘Little Bitty Pretty One’ and ‘Watching Mikey Grow’.  Recording versions of these songs were both healing and times that brought the whole family together.  Copies of the demo tapes were couriered to both George Keane and Paul White.  Within days, the Rockstar received calls from both recording executives.

The Rockstar called a family breakfast meeting early one morning.  “Jody and I have heard from the 2 record companies on the mainland.  They both really liked our songs and want to talk with us about making an album.  This means we will have to go to the mainland for a series of meetings in Los Angeles and Toronto.  We know Luana that you and Alika are busy planning your wedding but we would love to have you join us on a trip that will likely occupy the better part of a month.  We promise to be home for Christmas.  You also will be able to experience a bit of a Canadian winter.”

The private chartered jet landed at LAX and the extended family was whisked to Soul to Soul’s Topanga estate.  The property had not been used much since the farewell concert now over 2 years in the distant past.  Nate Rodriguez, Soul to Soul’s former booking agent, had agreed to take over management of the estate and run his very active booking business from his residence and office on the premises.  He was pleased to see the main house occupied for a few days by the Donnellys, Luana, Alika the 2 vigilant Malinois.  Aaron and Nate had a chance to enjoy a beer by the pool while Mikey splashed and swam under the watchful eye of Apollo.  “Aaron, you look great!  You seem to have recovered from the attack in Hawaii.”

“Thanks Nate, I’m feeling great physically but the memory is still troublesome.  It’s good to be focusing on music again.  I have missed the creative part but don’t miss the heavy demands of performing and travelling.”

“What’s happening with you in LA?”

“Jody fostered an incredible idea of assembling some bedtime songs for children.  We sing to Mikey and Mariah every night and they love it.  Jody felt so would other children.  So we are here to pitch the idea to Capitol Records and see where it goes.  Why don’t you join us when we do this tomorrow afternoon in the estate studio?  Both Jody and I would welcome your thoughts about her concept.” 

“Thank you Aaron!  I would love to hear more?”

Smiling gratefully, the Rockstar proposed another idea.  “I have been thinking about this estate.  It is really under used by Soul to Soul.  We all are living different lives now so there is little need.  This is a great facility that should be used more.  What would you think of the idea of turning it into a music centre to foster the development of young musicians.  When Soul to Soul started, we had to figure out how to be successful ourselves.  We had help from some great people like you, George Keane and Paul White but most was trial and error and mostly error.  What if we turned this estate into a place where young bands could come, stay at the facility and learn from we seasoned performers?  I think this could result in a new purpose for the property, help some talented young people and ultimately generate revenue beyond the accruing value of the property.”

“Wow!  What an interesting idea.  Have you thought through any details Aaron?”

“No Nate, I have not.  The only detail that I have considered is that I would want you to run the centre and be a part of what happens here.  Part of the reason for this trip is to float the idea with the band and see if there is any interest.  I plan to talk with Mark’s widow Lee when we go to Calgary next on our journey.  I’ll connect with everyone who owns a piece of this estate before we return to Hawaii.  Maybe you could ponder the idea and we could connect after Christmas.  I’ll know then how others feel about this idea.”

“Wow!  You have given much to think about.  I knew at some point Soul to Soul would do something with this great property.  I love living here but this would make it even better.”  The ensuing silence was broken by a splash as Apollo jumped into the pool to be closer to Mikey.

The small audience of 3 Capitol Records executives led by Paul White, Nate Rodriguez and Alika accompanied by Zeus sat in the chairs facing the stage in the Topanga Estate studio.  Jody sat on a stool at the centre front of the stage with the Rockstar seated to her right.  She began, “Good afternoon and welcome gentlemen.  Today marks the beginning of a dream for me.  I have always wanted to make a difference in the life of children through music.  Depending on what happens here and in the near future, my dream may become a reality.  Aaron and I have learned over the past 5 years that young children love to be sung to or told stories when they go to bed.  As songwriters and musicians, we as parents can sing stories to our 2 children.  We would like to enable all parents to be able to do the same.  We would like to cut an album of bedtime songs that could be played to children.  In addition, we would like to support children’s charities by donating any profits we might make as songwriters and recording artists to identified organizations.We are offering you the first opportunity to be part of this concept.  Here is a sample of the what we would offer.”  Aaron stood up, went into the control room and played the demonstration tape made and sent to Paul White.  The 4 songs with Jody, Aaron and even Mikey performing, washed over the small audience via the studio’s powerful sound system.

When the songs ended, a muted buzz of conversation coursed through the select crowd.  Nate’s enthusiastic voice was heard above the others showing his delight with what he had heard for the first time.  Alika just smiled knowingly.  Paul broke the silence in speaking on behalf of Capitol Records.  “Jody, Aaron we love your material and find the concept of an album of music targeted at children intriguing.  Capitol has not done anything like this before but we have experienced the value and the power of your music.  We are unable to predict if this concept is viable for us fiscally.  As such, we offer this proposal to you for your consideration.  Capitol will record your music at our studio.  We will give it our best technological support.  We will do this as our contribution to your project.  If, in the course of recording all the material,  something emerges that could be used as singles or even a mixed album for both children and an adult audience, we would offer you a contract.  We know of Aaron’s incredible ability to create arrangements of cover tunes that are better than the originals.  We feel that potential may result during this recording session.  We would predict your song Jody of ‘Follow Your Dreams’ would be a hit in any market but would get lost on a children’s album.  We also know that your family cover of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ would be a similar hit in the general market.  We would also bet Aaron and Soul to Soul could turn a cover of ‘Itty Bitty Pretty One’ into a pop hit.  We would do something with those numbers in a heartbeat.”

Jody smiled, took a deep breath and responded.  “Thank you Paul and Capitol Records.  We are honoured and grateful you have listened to our dream, our work and responded with such incredible generosity.  Please know this.  This project is so special to me that I am happy to perform on the children’s songs and will do so willingly.  The other music that I would characterize as adult songs that are connected with children is Aaron’s domain.  Secondly, I am a Mom.  My children are my priority!  I can only be minimally involved in promotion of any of our work and it cannot interfere with the life of our children.  I wanted you to hear this upfront from me.  Now let’s go up to the pool for some food and refreshments and you can greet our growing kids.”

On the way up to the pool, Aaron pulled Jody aside.  “You were fabulous Jody.  I am so proud of you.  You handled it like a seasoned pro.  The pitch was perfect and the terms were clear.You offered Capitol much to think about and it ended with hope for all parties.  Now let’s go up there and let our kids charm them further.”

It was a cold and snowy day when the private jet transporting the extended Donnelly family taxied up to its terminal on the west side of Calgary International Airport.  All, except for the Rockstar, Jody and Mikey were surprised by the snow and, in a strange way, were glad to experience it.  Apollo and Zeus were the most shocked and romped together in the snow like children.  Even though appropriately dressed in winter gear, Luana, Jody and Alika hurried into the terminal while Mikey and Aaron enjoyed the snow with the dogs.  It was fun watching the both Malinois trying to find and retrieve snowballs.

The Martin’s were thrilled to welcome their grandchildren to their home and enjoy the few days the family would be together.  The trip’s primary focus was business but a day in Banff National Park and an overnight stay in the majestic Banff Springs Hotel was a priority of the visit.  Jody’s father Michael pulled Aaron aside and inquired into how he and Mikey were doing.  “We are doing fine Dad.  Mikey handled it amazingly well but is still troubled about our safety.  I am healing physically but I am damned mad that the cause of this is not yet over.  I am looking forward to meeting with our lawyers in a couple of days.”

The brief side trip to Banff turned out to be the Canadian visit highlight.  The family was extended by Lulu and her kids joining the adventure.  Luana and Alika were glued to the windows of the rented coach needed to  accommodate the now really big family.  As native Hawaiians, they had never seen such huge mountains and the winter wonderland created by the snow.  Driving up to the hotel was akin to arriving at a castle.  In addition, the staff of the hotel treated the entourage like royalty.  After settling in their spacious rooms, everyone got ready for a trip up Sulphur Mountain to enjoy a swim and a soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs pool.  Even Mariah loved luxuriating in the steamy waters in her grandma’s arms while surrounded by a forest covered in deep, powdery snow.  Arriving back at the hotel, Mikey, Alika, Aaron, the cousins and of course, 2 very excited Malinois took a long walk in the snow on the golf course adjoining the hotel.  Everyone cavorted in the snow which ended in a snowball fight with the kids versus the adults.  Apollo and Zeus did not know what to do with all the snowballs flying everywhere.  However, both dogs spotted 2 elk walking through the trees and growled a clear warning. 

Later with the children all tucked in for evening, the adults converged on the Rundle Lounge in the hotel and were seated by windows with a most magnificent moonlight flooded view of the Rockies.  A jazz trio added mightily to the atmosphere and the hand-crafted cocktails.  It wasn’t long before the manager, knowing the of the Rockstar’s fame, asked Aaron if he would grace the audience with a couple of songs.  Aaron looked at Jody and that this was an opportunity to further try a couple of their songs.  Warmed by being surrounded with family and one very tasty vodka martini that was to die for, Jody agreed.  Taking the microphone offered by the lady singer in the trio, Jody waited until Aaron was able to retune the guitarist’s axe to his taste and reposition his mic.  Jody began with a brief introduction.  “Good evening everyone.  We Donnellys haven’t performed like this for several years.  Tonight we are honoured to share a couple of new songs we are considering recording for a new album for children and their parents.  We hope you will tell us what you think.”  Jody counted in the Intro of ‘Follow You Dreams’.  It took one verse of the song to have the audience totally mesmerized in the Jody’s message in her lyric.  The song captivated a bar full of skiers and other revelers.  The only thing that could be heard in the room was Jody’s hypnotically mezzo-soprano voice as she sang the powerful message in her song.  When the song ended, no one knew what to do.  Then almost in unison, the whole room erupted in loud cheering.  As the din died, Jody remarked, “I guess you really liked that song.  I am truly grateful!”

Then the Rockstar took the floor.  “This song is one a good friend, Mac Davis, wrote for his son.  I kind of tweaked the lyrics to describe our boy”.  After playing the fingerpicked guitar run of the Intro, the Rockstar began a Country and Western version of ‘Watchin’ Mikey Grow’.  Jody sang  a beautiful harmony on the chorus which again amplified the power of the lyric.  The initial lyrics in the song was more story-like with anecdotes of a growing child that evoked smiles and nods from the audience.  The single line final chorus changed everything.  The powerful message was heard in an instant.  The demeanour of the audience altered in flash to serious listening.  When Rockstar and the Jody sang the second chorus Extro line of “We and God are watching Mikey grow” with moist eyes looking directly at each other, many of the audience became tearful and all felt their love of their son.  As the Rockstar played the fade out augmented chords, people rose quietly and signaled their appreciation with thumbs, sniffs and daubing of eyes with tissues.  They got the message!

After the mini break from the real world that did include lots of shopping in the hotel boutique shops and along both sides of Banff Avenue, it was time for Aaron to meet with his lawyers.  He, Alika and Zeus met with Jason and Carl in their company boardroom in downtown Calgary.  Both Jason and Carl welcomed their clients warmly.  “I am so glad to see you are doing so well Aaron.  You look great!”

“Thanks Jason.  It was a scary time but the whole family is healing thanks to the warm wishes and support from friends like you and Carl.  How are we doing in our quest to have this pinned on the guy who caused this all – Rick Berman?”

“We are doing well.  Berman’s appeal was denied and that likely caused the attack on you.  Proving that has been the challenge.  Berman is very skilled in separating himself from the deeds that are done at his bidding.  The work of the Calgary Police Service, the RCMP and our private investigative team is yielding results.  Having the HPD involved officially now has also helped.  We have established connections now between Berman and Ross Cutler in Hawaii.  I am pretty sure hard evidence will be uncovered due to the continuing efforts of so many good people.  At the very least, we now have a strong case for denial when Berman applies for parole when he is eligible in several years.”

“What is Berman’s status in prison?” asked Alika.

“He is not at the bottom of the hierarchy as are child sex offenders,” replied Carl.  “If he had injured Mikey in the attack and it was made known, he would likely be targeted in prison.  Sadly, he probably is near the top of the hierarchy.”

“What can I do to keep my family safe now gentlemen?”

“Vigilance and optimal security systems,” both lawyers replied simultaneously.  “We know Alika has this well in hand.  Be really careful and trust in your systems like Zeus here.  What Apollo did to Mahelona did not go unnoticed.  I am pretty sure Berman saw some pretty scary photos.”

“Have you located Roz Marquart Jason?”

“We have Aaron.  She is safe and thanks to you, is well-cared for.  She sends her sincere thanks and hopes you are safe.”

“Thanks Jason.  Make sure she stays safe.  I also will need you to help me with another a couple of other projects.  I am floating an idea of turning the Topanga estate into a music centre and Jody and I are exploring cutting the record based on the music you heard in Hawaii a few weeks ago.  If we do this album and it is successful, we may need to establish a foundation to help charities for children from the profits.  We may need you to help us with these ideas.”

“I’d love to be a part of these projects Aaron from a legal perspective but also as a contributor.  Please keep me informed with how these ideas are developing and I will get the legal work started when it is needed.  Now I would like to take you all to my club for lunch.  I have made the arrangements that include Zeus.”

The next evening, Jody and the Rockstar entertained Mark Horton’s fiancé Lee for dinner in the Rosedale house.  Lee preferred to meet in the Donnelly  home in Calgary as she had many happy memories as a visitor there.  It was fun to eat at the kitchen table, revisit fond memories and talk further about the bedtime stories concept.  After dinner the 3 friends adjourned to the old but refurnished studio to finish their wine and talk.  The Rockstar raised the idea of doing something with the Soul to Soul’s Topanga estate.  “Lee, I’d like to share an idea I have hatched to leave a lasting memory to Mark’s excellence as a musician.  The Topanga estate is owned jointly by Bobby, Alf, Tanisha, me and you.  It is growing in value and is currently worth considerably more than what we paid for it.  It is getting very little use now as the members of Soul to Soul are now very engaged in their new lives.  It is a nice vacation spot but expenses continue even when sitting idle.  I think it would be worth considering turning it into a music centre for bands who come to Los Angeles to record.  I am sure you remember what it was like when the Young Ones and then Soul to Soul started.  It was hard to get our start in the business.  Having a music centre for fledgling bands might give that talent a start they need.”

“How would that help us with expenses Aaron?” queried Lee with laser-like precision.

“I haven’t done any work on actual numbers as yet but I envision small reasonable fees for bands who wish to stay on site and use the studio for practice.  I also think some support could be offered to these bands in terms of advice on things they need to do to become successful.  I for one would be willing to spend time on the estate on occasion to act as a mentor by sharing what I have learned about the music business.  Nate, our former booking agent and who is taking care of the estate currently, is very interested.  He could screen talent and call us if he discovers some high potential bands.  If or when, a band makes it as a result of the centre’s assistance, they would be expected to pay back for the support they received.”

“So this would be a gamble then Aaron!”

“It would Lee.  I am also pretty sure we could get other successful musicians involved as participants.  It will likely require a foundation be established to oversee this endeavour.  I would like to see the estate named the Mark Horton Music Centre and I would like to see you as the chairman of the foundation.”  A look of shock crossed Lee’s face.

“I am not sure I could do that Aaron.  I have no experience in this at all.  I wouldn’t know what to do.”

“Lee, this is just the beginning of thinking about an idea.  It is my intention to talk to all the owners and see what they think.  We will figure this out only if everyone agrees.  It would be a great legacy for Mark.  On the other hand it just might be best to sell the estate or even keep it a vacation alternative for us all.  It is a good way to bring us together and keep us all connected.”

“The idea intrigues me Aaron.  I will always remember Mark but it would be nice if his memory could be used to help others.  Count me in as interested in the music centre idea.  Then let’s see where it goes with the others.  Thank you for doing this for Mark and his memory.”

“You’re most welcome Lee.  I want to do this for my friend Mark.  I will keep you informed and we will see if this idea has legs.”

The winter weather wasn’t any better in Toronto than it was in Calgary.  George Keane agreed to meet with Jody and the Rockstar even though Quality Records ceased operations in 1985 and in spite of the fact he had not been active in the company for about 10 years.  His connection with the Rockstar had become more one of a trusted friend and mentor.  What George had to offer was great advice and some excellent contacts in the music business in Canada.  Meeting in the recording studios of RCA, gave all an opportunity to review the demo tape again and talk about the concept.  Even Tom was there due to his history and significant contribution to the music of the Rockstar.

George started the conversation with, “I really like the concept of bedtime songs for kids and I love the music you played in Hawaii and sent me.  If I was still in the business, I would jump all over this project.  But alas, I am not!  I would be involved in any way you would want.”

“Thank you George!  You have been a mentor to Aaron and a dear friend of mine for years.  We trust you and know what you would do to help us would be significant in the success of the project.  We have a good sense of what the big record labels would do and expect from us but both you and Paul mentioned an “Indie” might be the way to go.  Please help us understand how this might look.”

“Jody, the difference between an indie and a large record label is money.  Indies have fewer fiscal resources but artists typically get more of the money earned by a record.  Large record labels have deep pockets but typically the artists get less money from the sale of the records.  Your professional reputations and the revenue you have generated for Capitol gives you leverage.  You will likely make more money with them rather than an indie record company.  Always remember this will always be about money.  Your decision about what record label to use must be about what you want and what you are prepared to do to get what you want.  I could talk to you about benefits and drawbacks of both indies and large labels.  It will still come back to what you want and what you are willing to do.  Does this help Jody?”

“Actually it does George.  Aaron and I want to make money for children’s charities.  We don’t need any more money personally.  We are willing to do what it takes to optimize the success of the record within reason but not jeopardize our family life.  Gone are the old days when Aaron was seeking stardom.  He doesn’t need to do that anymore.  We just want to do what it takes to help kids who need it!”

“Jody, it will come down to the best deal you can negotiate.  You know what you want.  Just go and find it.  I will set you up with interviews of the 3 best indies in Canada currently.  I will be pleased take part in your interviews.  I am betting you got a good offer from Capitol.  Just think the final deal through.  For what it is worth, I believe indies are the way of the new century.”

While George arranged interviews with Aquarius Records, RCA Records Canada and Anthem Records, the Donnelly family explored Toronto in the dead of winter.  The temperature was milder than Calgary but the cold winds of Lake Ontario made it feel very frigid.  A trip to the CN Tower was a must and impressed all.  During lunch in the 360 Restaurant, Mikey commented on how the 1,813-foot tower made him feel very short.

During the afternoon, the family and their dogs were able to visit some of the places where the Rockstar and Jody took their first major steps to stardom.  The nostalgia tour took place primarily from the limo hired to transport everyone and the dogs. A drive down Yonge street prompted stories about the Zanzibar a-Go-Go and Le Coq d’Or Tavern.  They even alighted from the car to walk to give Apollo and Zeus some much-needed exercise.  They also visited sites like the venerable Maple Leaf Gardens and the unique building that was Toronto’s city hall.

Later that night in their suite at the Royal York Hotel, Jody and Aaron had a chance to talk about their impending interviews with representatives of the indies and what information they would need to make their decision.  Jody was beginning to see the complexity of this work and deferred to Aaron’s experience to guide the thinking.  As a woman, both she and Aaron knew that Jody’s choice would be on the basis of her intuition and impression of the candidates rather than the logic of numbers.  Both knew the decision would not be easy and impacts on the family would be the paramount consideration.

The whole family went to the first meeting with an indie late the next morning.  The meeting with RCA Records Canada was held at the recording studios where the Rockstar and Soul to Soul had recorded their first album for Quality Records.  Aaron was happy to show his son the recording studio where his Mom’s first hit song was recorded.  The meeting was cordial and productive but the family was looking forward to lunch in a great restaurant that allowed service dogs.

The meetings with Aquarius and Anthem Records went well also.  Jody and the Rockstar each got a good sense of these indies and their difference from the corporate record labels.  They talked with George to hear his ideas at the end of the interviews and decided to think about what they had learned for a few days.  It was time to spend some time with Bobby and Tanisha to renew their friendship and get a sense of their reaction to Aaron’s idea for Soul to Soul’s Topanga estate.

Tanisha and Bobby joined the extended Donnelly family in Jody’s and Aaron’s suite at the hotel for a drink.  The plan was to get the kids to bed and then go out for dinner in the hotel.  Luana agreed to stay with the children while Alika had to take the dogs for an extended run.  Mikey latched on to his friend Bobby just as soon as he arrived.  Mikey had to tell Bobby all about his dog.  “Did you train Apollo Mikey?” asked Bobby.

“No, he was trained by Alika before he became my dog!  I don’t need to train Apollo.  I just talk to him and he does what I ask.”

Intrigued by what he heard Bobby asked, “Can you show me Mikey?”

“Certainly.  Apollo, please don’t let Bobby come close to me.”  Apollo immediately positioned himself between Mikey and Bobby.  Bobby, needing to test this out, moved around the dog and tried to hug Mikey.  Apollo moved also and kept Bobby away from Mikey.  Try as he did, Bobby could not get close to Mikey.  When he tried to move the Malinois aside, the guttural growl and the exposed teeth caused Bobby to desist immediately.  Mikey then said, “It’s okay now Apollo.  I want a hug from Bobby.”  Apollo immediately sat by Mikey while Bobby very tentatively gave his little friend a hug.  Thusly, Bobby experienced a metaphysically trained dog!

Later over coffee and desert, the Rockstar was able to broach his idea for the Topanga estate.  He gave a brief summary rationale for the project and asked what Bobby and Tanisha thought of the idea.  Tanisha exploded.  “I think naming a music centre after the guy who wooed me then dumped me to return to his old girlfriend is not acceptable.  That’s my legacy with Mark Horton and I want no part of it!”  Aaron was at a complete loss for words.  Jody immediately broke into tears as a result of the unexpected vitriolic outburst from her friend.  Even Bobby was caught by surprise by the outburst and the rancor behind it.  Everyone but Tanisha had thought everything in the past with Mark had been resolved.  Obviously it hadn’t!  The evening came to an abrupt end.  Bobby hustled an angry Tanisha out of the hotel.  The Donnellys returned to their suite in a silence precipitated by uncertainty.

The winter trip to the mainland ended somewhat unexpectedly.  The obvious need to rethink the music centre ideas in the face of opposition from Tanisha resulted in no connection with Alf.  Alika had received word from Koa that there had been a series of intrusions identified by the security system but with no consequences.  Alika wanted to return to take care of this.  Luana was getting antsy about wedding preparations.  Christmas was fast approaching.  It was a group decision to fly home a little earlier than planned.

Arriving home to the warmth of Hawaii seemed to put the challenges that emerged from the mainland journey to the back burner of their current reality.  It was probably most noticed in the reaction of Mikey and the dogs.  Mikey was the first one into the pool and Apollo and Zeus scoured every inch of the estate grounds motivated by their joy of freedom rather than direction.  Jody and Luana plunged into the preparation for the wedding while Alika wrestled with the problem of the intrusions detected in the family’s absence.  The Rockstar immersed himself in trying to figure out what was going on with Tanisha that would cause her to be in such opposition to Mark Horton and the music centre idea.  His first call was to his lawyer Jason to redirect some detective resources to looking into Tanisha and Mark to determine if there was something that might explain why the resurgence of a tension that was now several years since it was supposedly resolved.

The wedding of Luana and Alika was a spectacular event.  It was made so by the efforts of Jody and the Rockstar who wanted their closest friends to have a celebration befitting of the special people they were as adopted members of the Donnelly family.  Luana with virtually no family and Alika with only a few more caused the guest list to be comprised of mostly friends some of whom they had made through Jody and Aaron.  The celebration of their marriage would be enjoyed by the 70 guests invited.  The ceremony was held overlooking the beach.  Luana was stunningly beautiful in her loose-fitting white gown that flowed and moved with the onshore breeze adding to the focus on nature during the ceremony.  Both she and Alika were festooned with leis symbolic of the unbroken circle representing their eternal commitment and devotion to one another.

The ceremony began with the blowing of the P? by the old Kahuna who had officiated at Jody and Aaron’s ceremony.  Mikey was thrilled to see the conch shell very much like his used to signal to call the attention of all and announce the marriage.  The Kahuna then began the chant “Oli Aloha” to prepare the space welcome everyone.  Under the watchful eyes of all, the Kahuna performed the Hawaiian ring blessing.  Luana held the wood bowl in which the rings were placed.  Alika held Mikey’s conch shell filled with ocean water.  The Kahuna sprinkled water from the shell with a leaf over the rings which were then placed on each other’s fingers.  The rings then became symbolic of the commitments Luana and Alika would now make that will travel with them.  The old Kahuna, then in a hushed voice said, “Do you, Luana, take this man to be your husband?”

“Yes I truly do!” was her reply.

“Do you, Alika, take this woman to be your wife?”

“I do from my heart!” was his reply.

“Both of you please tell your family and friends what you ho’ohiki in this marriage.”  Luana and Alika held hands and looking deeply into each other’s eyes and hearts and stated the most touching promises the assemblage had ever heard.

“These vows made in front of your families and dearest friends in my presence and are now sacred.  All gathered here, speak if accept these ho’ohiki and support  this marriage?”  The enthusiastic affirmation of all rang over the estate.  Even Apollo and Zeus barked their approval.

At this point, a soft breeze stirred during the service.  The Kahuna explained that this was the Ohana or family who are not able to be here today but are surrounding us all with their love, support and blessing.  At that moment Luana got tears in her eyes that were not tears of joy as she remembered her departed family and was glad they were there on her special day.

The ceremony ended with the He alo ? he alo.  This oli was a prayer for Luana and Alika to share aloha in their marriage and to honour the breath of life that is given to all.  After a few solemn moments, Mikey, Jody, Aaron and Koa on his ukulele performed a stirring version of the Ke Kali Nei Au, the ‘Hawaiian Wedding Song’ made famous by Elvis Presley.  Aaron and Jody’s Hawaiian on verse 4 was passable but Mikey and Koa’s work on their ukuleles was stellar.  When they finished, Luana and Alika rushed over with appreciative hugs for the performers.

The lu’au that followed totally incorporated Hawaiian culture and tradition.  Guests feasted on poi, laulau, ahi seared and crusted in sesame, and kalua pig cooked on stones in a pit dug on the estate by the caterer.  Luana and Alika, modestly not wanting to be the centre of attention, feasted at tables with the guests and spent much time connecting with all and thanking them personally for coming. 

After the lu’au, and the caterers quickly converted the dining area on the temporary flooring to a dance floor.  The front of a small tent was removed and there in matching Hawaiian shirts and board shorts, stood the members of Soul to Soul and their instruments.  Sadly, Tanisha was not there but Amy had been flown to Hawaii for this surprise.  The Rockstar at the mic announced that the all would be honoured if Luana and Alika would lead by dancing first tonight.  Mikey and Koa joined the band as did Jody.  What ensued was classic version of the Hawaiian Wedding Song performed by a group of musicians for their friends.Luana and Alika held on to each other in a fashion that showed the love between this couple.  Eventually they were joined by others as the verses were repeated several times until all had a chance to celebrate the love under the stars with the newlyweds.  As the song ended, Luana and Alika shared a long embrace much to the joy of all there.

Soul to Soul then transformed into what they were all about.  There was no patter offered by the Rockstar, just back to back renditions of the songs in their repertoire.  People danced, people sang and people just sat back and enjoyed the music of a top band.  Soul to Soul hadn’t played together since that fateful night back in 1984.  No one would ever know this from the performance.  Only one thing was missing; Mark Horton on lead guitar.  In some ways this performance was for him as well as the newlyweds.  Lee, who was a guest at the wedding, knew this and she took another step in her healing.  It was also healing for the Rockstar who looked over at his son who was trying to figure out the chords the band was playing on his ukulele.  The impromptu concert was brought to an end by Jody who performed the hit song she wrote, ‘Dare I Dream’.  She did so while holding the hands of Luana and Alika.  It was a version that was made unique with some new lyrics that honoured the newlyweds.  The balance of the reception lasted well into the early morning hours.

As most members of Soul to Soul stayed on the estate for the wedding, the Rockstar was able to convene a band meeting before they all headed home.  Only Tanisha was missing.  Amy was invited to the meeting as the 2 agenda items involved her.  Nate, who also was invited to the wedding, sat in with the group gathered in the music room.  As the leader of the band, the Rockstar began.  “I have talked individually to each of you about the idea of turning the Topanga estate into a music development centre.  The response has, for the most part, been very favourable.  If the idea is to be moved forward to become a reality, we need a frank conversation.  We all know the history of the purchase of the estate and it is now time to deal with its future.  It was a great investment and the property is now worth way more than what was paid for it.  The original ownership agreement changed with Mark’s death and it did not include Don, Nate, or Amy who contributed significantly to the success of Soul to Soul.  Moving forward, this in my mind needs to be remedied.  If we sell the property or develop it as a music development centre, the ownership agreement has to be amended in order to be fair and recognize the current reality.”

Alf spoke first.  “What I hear you saying Aaron is we either keep the property or sell it.  If we keep it for whatever reason, we need to manage it differently.  It has no purpose any more but it does have expenses.”

“That is a great summary Alf.  It is the essence of what needs to be decided.  Currently it is a recreation property and except for Nate’s business, it is under used.”

Bobby interjected.  “I am in favour of keeping the property and like the idea of turning it into a music development centre.  My wife Tanisha is okay with the idea of the music development centre but wants nothing to do with naming it after Mark Horton.”

“What’s wrong with naming after Mark?” questioned Alf.  “He was one of the founders of Soul to Soul!  He literally gave his life to this band.  His contribution deserves that recognition.  I don’t understand!  He was a Tanisha’s biggest advocate.  This is bullshit!”

“Whoa, you two!This is not how we transact our business in Soul to Soul,” exclaimed the Rockstar.  “We all know the history of the band and this should not be personal.  We are talking about an idea only.  Details like the name can be worked out if we move forward with the idea.”

“You can count Lindy and me in for keeping the property and developing a music centre to help up and coming bands.  I, for one, would like to give back to an industry that has given me and my family a really good life.  To me it would be a real shame to sell it or even keep it for our recreation.  I want to acknowledge, remember and demonstrate gratitude for my past.”

“Thanks Alf!”  All eyes turned to Bobby.

“I’m sorry it got to this Alf.  Tanisha and Mark’s history changed for a reason for what I am not sure.I just know she is pretty adamant about not honouring Mark’s legacy.  She does like the idea but has no heart in it.  I doubt if she would even be a committed participant.  If it requires that she as an owner would vote for selling the property.  I say we should buy her out at fair market value and eliminate this problem.

“Where does that leave you then Bobby?” asked the Rockstar.

“I am all in!  I owe Soul to Soul everything.  You took me on as a kid and helped me grow up.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without you people.  I love music and really want to give back to a cause that could really make a difference.  I want to help in any way it takes!  Playing with you folks last night served as a reminder of what you all have added to my life and it is time to really give something back.  Thank you for this opportunity.”

“Thanks Bobby!I knew we could count on you,” exclaimed the Rockstar.  “Amy? Nate? Do you wish to add to this?”

“You guys gave me a life for which I will be forever grateful.  You are now offering me another one for which I have been waiting for 2 years.I loved working with you all and see the music centre as an opportunity to work with you again.  I will be even more grateful if we can make this happen!”  With that, Amy began to weep soundlessly.

After looking around, Nate took the floor.  “I believe the music centre idea is brilliant and will no doubt work.  It will work because of your commitment to people and music.  I would be honoured to be a part of this idea.  Let’s get started.”

“Thank you all.  You continue to amaze me!  Now I have just one more item.  Jody and I are going to do our bedtime songs album.  We have not as yet decided upon a recording label but now that the wedding is over I am sure that decision will be made.  I am asking each of you now if you want to be part of it?”

“C’mon Aaron,” exclaimed Alf.  You know we are all in!  How could we not be up for having some more fun reminiscent of the good old days.”  Everyone laughed.

Aaron and Zeus took great pleasure in driving some of the wedding guests to the Honolulu International Airport.  It gave him a great opportunity to talk about stuff that was inappropriate to be part of general social conversation.  He had a great chat with Jason Koffman, his lawyer.  As they drove in the Mustang under the watchful eyes of Zeus in the back seat, Jason revealed that detectives had established connections between Tanisha Garver/Evers and Rick Berman.  During her club work prior to joining Soul to Soul, she worked for some pretty shady club owners who were allegedly connected with the Mafia.  Those same people were also connected with Rick Berman.  It was not lost on the Rockstar that via Tanisha, Rick might have another source on what was happening inside the band.  This news was also troubling to Aaron as she was now married to Bobby Evers.  It might also explain Tanisha’s vehemence to naming the proposed music centre after Mark Horton.  That act alone might cause people to look further into her past.  The Rockstar had to think this information through carefully but he already knew that all ties with Tanisha needed to be severed.

Taking Alf and Lindy and their family to the airport provided the Rockstar the opportunity to thank Alf for his views on the issue of naming of the proposed music centre at the Soul to Soul meeting.  Aaron explained to Alf that sometimes as a leader, he could not share his personal feelings publicly but he really appreciated what was shared.  He also assured Alf that things would be work out as they should with the music centre.

Nate’s ride to the airport was a little different.  The Rockstar asked him to get a market valuation on the Topanga property and send it to him.  Aaron did not reveal his thinking but Nate knew something was afoot.  Most of the drive focussed on a collaborative discussion of what now needed to be done to get the music centre up and running.  Both Nate and Aaron knew they would be the driving force in this project.

“Daddy, Daddy, wake up!  Can we go to Honolulu today and find me a guitar?”  As per usual, Aaron woke with a start to find the faces of Mikey and Apollo staring intently at him.  Jody giggled and pushed Aaron out of the bed.

“Mikey, why do you want a guitar? asked the Rockstar as they carried their bowls of cereal out by the pool.

“I want to play like you Daddy and I need more than a ukulele.  The ukulele sounds good on some songs but not in the music you and Soul to Soul play.  I like the sound of your guitar’s way better.  I will be six soon and I want to join the band!” 

“I am happy you want to learn how to play a guitar but is will take a little time for you to play with Soul to Soul.” 

“I want to be as good as you Daddy.  You are the best guitar player in the world.  I want to play in a band and be famous like you!”  Just then Jody, Mariah and Zeus joined the breakfast club.

“Did I hear that we are starting a family band now?” asked Jody.

“If Mikey has his way, we probably will!” responded Aaron.  Jody laughed but the pride in their little son was notable.  “Seems like things are returning to normal around here now.  I really enjoyed the wedding but a return to our usual pace would be nice.  Do you think we could find a babysitter and go on a date Jody?  I feel like we haven’t had time to talk and catch up on all the stuff that happened around the wedding.”  Just then, Koa rushed up!

“Aaron, our security system alerted us to 2 attempted intrusions last night.  The night guard on duty and the dogs checked them out but found nothing.  It is as if someone is checking to determine what our systems are and what we do in response.  Alika and I have talked about a plan to trap whoever is doing this.”

“Thanks Koa.  I think it is time to do something.  Alika and Luana should be back from their brief honeymoon in a couple of days.  I have total confidence that you and your team can handle anything.  Let’s wait and then put the plan into place and catch whoever is testing us.  I think we know who that is!”

The Rockstar’s dinner date night with his gorgeous wife Jody posed several interesting challenges.  Koa solved the babysitting problem by asking if he could take care of the kids in Luana and Alika’s absence.  The Donnelley’s quickly agreed as the huge former navy Seal was loved by the kids and they had become like the children he hoped to have someday.  Finding a restaurant that would allow Zeus on its patio was a little harder.  Technically Zeus was a service dog but many managers didn’t want to intimidate or encourage other customers to seek special treatment.  Finally, Aaron found one on the beach and by using his “celebrity”, got a table in a very private area overlooking the Honolulu shoreline.

The quiet conversation over cocktails naturally started with the wedding.  Both Donnellys felt good about how it turned out and were both overwhelmed by the gratitude of Luana and Alika.  They also shared stories about special connections that were made during the celebration and ensuing days as their house guests left.  Jody was particularly taken by the improvement Lee was making in getting over her grief.  “Lee is so much better Aaron.  I think your idea of the music centre and have her chair the board or foundation that will govern it appealed to her.  I hope Soul to Soul got behind the idea at the meeting a couple of days ago.”

“The concept was ratified by all who were there.  Tanisha still is impeding it Jody.  Jason’s detectives have established a connection with Tanisha and Rick Berman so she will have to be eliminated from the concept.  I am thinking about offering to buy her out of the Topanga estate.  Jason’s evidence could mean that Tanisha is putting our family at risk.  She must be removed from our circles.”

“Aaron, are you saying she might have passed information about us to Berman that could have used for you and Mikey to be attacked?”

“It is possible Jody.  She and Bobby have stayed on the estate with us.  She saw our routines like the tidal pools.  She experienced our security protocols like the dogs.  Suspecting it is one thing but proving it is quite another.  I view her as a threat now so we can’t be involved with her in any way.”

“What will happen with Bobby?  He goes back to when you and I met at West Hillhurst!”

“I don’t know just yet as it will have to play out.  I know Tanisha will not be part of our album if we cut one.  We may have to use a studio drummer if we go ahead.  Is now a good time to talk about what we heard on our business journey to the mainland Jody?”

“I am good to talk about it, Aaron.  I understand it is really all about the greatest amount of money we want to make.  My head says we should go with the Capitol Record’s offer which I felt was generous.  My heart, however, is with one of the indies.  Canada and the little entrepreneur are in our roots and our hearts.”

“Maybe we could negotiate something with both.  We have pretty good leverage right now because of our past successes.  Capitol really doesn’t want the bedtime songs album.  They want your song ‘Follow Your Dreams’ and all the more adult focussed covers Soul to Soul can assemble.  So maybe we could have them record both sets of songs and have the bedtime songs released by an indie with a strategic connection with Capitol.  That way both things could work out.  Jody, I’ve learned from my time in the music business that you get most of what you want through leveraging your successes and negotiating from a position that everyone wins or gets some of what they want.  We can do this if you are comfortable in doing so.  Our bottom line is that under no circumstance will we let anything impact our family.”

“I know you won’t allow that to happen Aaron.  You can’t live without our little boy and Apollo waking you up to do something with them.”  Both burst into gales of laughter with the image of the faces on the edge of the bed.

“So where do you want to go from here Jody?  Do you have an indie that you really liked?”

“I liked the Anthem label.  They would be thrilled to get us on their list of clients.  I think they would work really hard to achieve the success we want.  RCA is a competitor of Capitol so that is a no brainer. Aquarius has a good stable of Canadian bands and is based in Toronto.  Why don’t we negotiate with Capitol, get the concessions we want and then see which Canadian indie will work best.”

“I love your thinking Jody.  I am impressed with your analysis.  I would add to it that we will get some terrific masters of bedtime songs from Capitol so the indie will have great music to sell.  If we release the album in Canada, we will qualify for Junos.  Soul to Soul would love to record again and I am betting both projects will do well.  It will be good to spend some time on the Topanga estate.  Mikey and Mariah will get to experience Disneyland and other great kid places.  The dogs will love it there also.  Perhaps Luana and Alika will come with us as family.  Now that we have decided I will get to work on it.  By the way have I told you how beautiful you look tonight?”

Luana and Alika returned from their honeymoon in Southern California.  They were both happy to come home as they seemed to miss their family and the constant action on the estate.  The Donnellys were glad their extended family was complete again.  Alika plunged immediately into his security work.  Acting on the scary rationale given him by the Rockstar’s information about about Tanisha, he sought to implement a trap he had been thinking about.  It involved using the sound and motion detector information along with video cameras activated to plot the source of the intrusion in real time.  The night guard and dog would then be dispatched to the location of the intrusion.  The difference would be several guards from the security company concealed in the area outside the property would also convergence on the spot of the intrusion.  The intruder would then be literally surrounded.  Aaron gave the go ahead for a night that fit the pattern that had emerged from previous intrusions.

Aaron joined Alika and the president of the security company in the bunker that was constructed in the basement of Alika’s former residence on the estate.  All wanted to get a real sense of how the new elements of the constantly upgraded security system worked to ensure the safety of the family.  As the pattern predicted, one outer motion sensors sent a signal to the bunker that indicated someone or something had crossed the edge of the estate.  A few seconds later a sound sensor picked up the rustling of footsteps in the underbrush.  Then a motion sensor turned on a video camera that showed a dark image on its monitor of a person creeping further into the property.  Alika alerted the guards who moved silently towards where the intruder was moving forward.  Alika alerted Koa to move silently to the location given as he wanted the intruder to think the system was down or not manned.  The intruder emerged from the brush onto the lawn not 20 feet from where Koa and Hermes, a large German Shepherd were standing.  “Freeze,” shouted Koa.  The intruder spun and took a step.  “Tackle, Hermes!”  The Shepherd took off like a shot and the 120 lb dog struck the intruder in the centre of his back and knocked him flying into the brush.  When the intruder tried to get up he looked right into the eyes of a snarling dog and a 6-foot 6-inch guy who looked really pissed off.  Not 1 minute later, 3 guards emerged on the sight of the capture dragging but another intruder. 

“Koa, bring them both to the front gate where we will talk to them until HPD arrives,” Alika barked over the Koa’s walkie-talkie.  Joining the intruders and the guards at the gate, Alika began the questioning of the 2 very scared young men.  He got their names but little else.  It was obvious they were hired to scout out the estate and find out where cameras and sensors were located.  The second guy had a notebook in his possession that included a map of the estate and the location of 1 camera they were able to find.  Their faces had been painted black to match their black clothing.  Both men were wearing gloves.  They were hired in a bar in Honolulu and each given a $100.00 plus the notebook.  They didn’t know the guy that had hired them nor did they know the purpose of the information they were to gather.  They were told that the head of security was on his honeymoon so they shouldn’t have any problems.  Their soiled pants told a different story.

Later the next morning, the extended family met by the pool.  Jody and Luana were brought up to speed on what transpired with the intruders last night.  The focus was that everything worked well and the family was safe.  The Rockstar affirmed the fine work of the security company and talked of increasing his investment in the company as mentioned last night that they were exploring night vision and heat sensing technologies.  Alika agreed to stay on top of that plus rethink the strategies of the night shift security team.  Aaron indicated he had a need to go to the mainland to meet with Capitol Records to finalize a record deal, fly to Texas and meet with Mac Davis to finalize a song commitment and then go to Toronto to deal with Tanisha and Bobby.  It was a trip that need not involve the family or the dogs as it was a quick business trip.  He would prefer to leave Alika to take care of the family and instead take Koa to give him a well-deserved new experience in security.  After discussing it briefly, all agreed that his proposal was best for all.

Luana then took centre stage by announcing she was going to have a baby.The family’s reaction was likely heard in Honolulu.  Even Apollo and Zeus joined the celebration.  Jody was ecstatic at the opportunity to take care of her best friend.  Mikey wanted to go to the tidal pools to get new shells for the baby.  All were thrilled.  The Rockstar then asked when it would be the best time to go to Los Angeles to record the bedtime songs album if Jody was to be involved with the new baby proceedings.  Luana indicated it was very early in her pregnancy and the baby wouldn’t be born until late summer.  Jody proposed that the recording date would be best in March.  The Rockstar indicated it would require a month in the studio as they were laying tracks for 2 possible albums, so the family would be at the Topanga estate during that time.  He then asked if Luana and Alika wanted to be part of that adventure.  Luana, speaking for Alika said of course they would both wanted to go.  Aaron and Alika were beginning to sense the power of the 2 women in their lives.

The meeting with Paul White and the executives of Capitol records went well.  Capitol agreed to record all the material for both proposed albums.  They would waive the publishing rights to the material for bedtime songs and work with the indie Jody and the Rockstar decided upon to make sure the album got a good promotional play in the United States.  Depending on the deal negotiated with the indie, most of the money made would indeed to the children’s charities.  The contract for the second album was a little trickier due to the many variables the Rockstar was introducing.  It was determined that the material would be recorded and then the final contract would be signed.  Regardless, laying tracks would start in March.  Koa’s eyes were opened to the challenges and complexities of the business side of music.

The Rockstar and Koa had a fabulous time in Texas with Mac Davis.  Mac was an incredible host and a genuinely nice guy.  Not only was he a brilliant songwriter, he was a gifted musician and performer.  The Rockstar had met Mac in Nashville and they had immediately hit it off.  They were about the same age.  They both started their careers in Rock ‘n Roll.  They were both “cross-over” artists able to excel in any genre of music.  Both had very large net worths as a result of their musical gifts.

Mac was most agreeable to be part of both a retooling of his lyrics of his song ‘Watching Scotty Grow’ and even to taking part in the recording of the song.  Mac felt it would be fun to work with his buddy again and the attention brought to the song might rekindle his recorded version.  He was also eager to have his share of the both the songwriter and music play rights go to the children’s charities.  A date was set in March for Mac to come to LA and stay with the Donnellys on the Topanga estate.  On the flight to Toronto Koa could not stop talking about the great stories Mac and the Rockstar had told during their stay in Texas.

The Rockstar faced the meeting with Tanisha and Bobby Evers with great trepidation.  He asked Koa to sit in on the meeting for security purposes and to take mental notes of anything that might be said that would impact on the security of the family.  Aaron provided enough details that enabled Koa to understand the nexus of what needed to happen.  Tanisha and Bobby were invited into the hotel suite for the meeting.  The Rockstar, after the necessary but cool social exchange, got right to the point.

“Tanisha, some information has surfaced that is giving me cause for concern about the safety of my family.  Intensive detective work since Rick Berman’s imprisonment and the attack on me in front of my home has uncovered some disturbing facts.  As a result, we need to resolve some issues today.  We can work it out today or we can turn it over to the courts to resolve.  Do you wish to proceed today or resolve it by legal means?”

“What do you want Aaron?  I don’t understand!”

“I want to buy your share of the Topanga estate.  I want to proceed with the plans to develop a music development centre and not have you as part of that process.  I don’t feel you will be a committed participant and as such you must not be a part of the ownership group.”

“What about Bobby?  He is currently an owner also.”

“Bobby, it deeply hurts me to say this but I think it would be best if I bought your share also.  You are would be put in a tough spot and it would make the music centre operate under a cloud of doubt.  You both will receive a fair and generous settlement that will sever all your formal ties with me and Soul to Soul.”

“Why are you doing this Aaron?  I want to be involved.  We go back a long way.  Why are you doing this?”

“Bobby, I am so sorry about this.  This decision is about the safety and security of my family.  Your connection with Tanisha, in the estimation of my security people and my lawyers, puts my family at great risk.  I don’t want to cause trouble between you and your wife Tanisha but you both pose a threat to me and my family.  If you must know, full details will be revealed in court.  Here is my one and only offer to you both.”  With that, the Rockstar put 2 cheques on the table.

“You are a bastard Aaron.  You and Mark Horton are cut from the same cloth.  You seem like a nice guy but you are ruthless.  You are dumping Bobby and me just like Mark did.  You better hope the same thing doesn’t happen to you as Horton.  Take the cheques Bobby and let’s get out of here.  We certainly don’t need Aaron Donnelly and what is left of Soul to Soul anymore.”  Bobby sat there is a state of shock at what was unfolding.

Aaron spoke up!  “Each of you please sign the legal documents in these file folders and this transaction will be complete.  I will leave you with Koa as I am going down to the bar.  I wish you both the best in your futures.”  With that, the Rockstar left the suite.

Submitted: April 21, 2021

© Copyright 2021 RoyBoy. All rights reserved.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Facebook Comments

More Literary Fiction Books

Boosted Content from Other Authors

Short Story / War and Military

Book / Action and Adventure

Short Story / Romance

Book / Action and Adventure

Other Content by RoyBoy

Book / Mystery and Crime

Book / Literary Fiction

Book / Literary Fiction