Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 1.1

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.

Knight after Knight. Chapter one, part one.

Immediately after their wedding reception, David and Jess flew off from Hawaii and spent a couple of weeks in our villa in Cyprus. They flew first to Heathrow and enjoyed a couple of days’ layover at Knight Towers, where David introduced Jess to Sophie’s parents. By this time, Eddie and Martha were by then well into their eighties and Sophie and I were happier for them to be where we could keep an eye on them, and where they could be under the care of the KGT clinic rather than left in their cottage in the wilds of north Devon. Not that the care available to them at their home was lacking, but the loads and pressures that public health professionals work under are much greater than our team experience – apart from which, Sophie wanted them with us and who was I to argue?

How it is that in all the time Jess had spent with us she never met Eddie and Martha is something of a mystery, but that was the case. When we told her that she’d be able to meet them, she informed us that she found the prospect somewhat daunting.

“Why is that?” David asked.

“Pogonophobia,” she replied.

“You have a fear of beards?”

“Petrified,” she said.

“It’s true,” Nell said, “When Jess was about six, she was playing alone on my family’s private beach when a large group of heavily bearded men approached. She thought they were after her and has been terrified of bearded men ever since.”

“You never told me this,” David pouted, “So who were they? And what happened?”

“They just ran straight past, waving cheerily and shouting hello,” Jess said, “I found out later that they were some of the competitors in the World Beard and Moustache championships that were being held on the big island that year, just out for an afternoon run. At the time, though, they terrified me.”

“It’s a good job that Eddie doesn’t live up to his name then, isn’t it?” I said.

“Gotcha!” Jess said, landing a healthy punch on David’s arm and laughing.

“So the whole thing was a set-up?” David asked.

“Not entirely. The pogonophobia is real and so is its cause, but well… with your grandparents being called Beard, I couldn’t pass up the chance, could I?”

“And that’s why I love you so much.”

“Is that the only reason?” she asked, coquettishly pouting whilst twirling the end of her hair through her fingers.

“Should we leave?” Sophie asked. We all laughed at that.

Over the years, we had arranged for quite a lot of work to be done in the Cyprus villa, as we planned to spend a lot of our time there, post-retirement. Kanene and Katerina had studied pictures and video of the Reeves’ house and successfully fused it with the décor of Knight Towers and traditional Cypriot styles to produce a home that was as balanced and comfortable as it was unique. In no small part due to the work she and Kanene had done on the villa, Katerina had risen through the ranks of her firm and was now Managing Partner. I FaceTimed her, told her that David and Jess would be arriving and asked her to have the villa opened and ready. In her elevated position, I didn’t expect Katerina to do it herself, of course. She has a number of junior employees who are perfectly capable of opening, cleaning and checking any of the many holiday homes on the island, but she promised me she’d see to it personally. She also said that she would leave a welcome gift for Jess, though she declined to tell me what it would be. I’d need to wait until after the honeymoon to find out what it was. All she would tell me was that she expected Jess would love it.

What about Kanene? Well, I’ll tell you. She who, a quarter of a century ago, was my housekeeper; a village girl and daughter of a witch-doctor; is now Creative Director of KFI (which stands for Kanene Fonseca Interiors), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Holy Island Services. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Sophie and I spent a few more days with Jason and Nell Reeves before heading back to Knight Towers and picking up the reins of our daily lives. It never ceased to amaze me how well our two families got on together. I mean, our backgrounds were so very different. Let me explain.

Jason Reeves, who now manages and leads the investigation branch of the Oahu County Prosecutor’s office, started life as a street kid. Had he not joined the local police as a patrol officer, he would most likely have joined them as, at the very least, a ‘person of interest’. His parents were what is termed ‘regular folks’: poor but honest. They tried to raise their five kids, three boys and two girls, to be decent, upright citizens, but at an early age, Jason was seduced by the apparent glamour of gang life. A youth supervisor took him under her wing and managed to direct his energies in a more positive direction.

What can we say about Noelani, his wife? The phrase ‘born with a silver spoon in her mouth’ could have been written for her. Noelani Keahi was the sole offspring of one of the island’s wealthiest couples. Initially shunned by her parents when, at seventeen years old, she became involved with Jason, whom they described as a low-life, they came around when they saw what he was making of himself. Eventually, they embraced him into their family and gave the marriage their full blessing. The home in which Jason and Noelani raised Jess was her parents’ wedding gift to them.

You know my story. Papa started as a market trader and eventually, with a lot of years’ hard work, built Knight Global Trading. He and Mama had me late in life and were so involved in the business they had no time for me and packed me off to boarding school when I was eight. I only saw Mama and Papa during school holidays from then on. I always had the feeling I was in the way, back then. Mama died when I was fourteen, and Papa threw himself into the business even more. He’d always been single-minded about the firm, but without Mama, he had nothing else. I spent most school holidays with friends. I made it to Oxford where, at Papa’s insistence, I read African Studies and was inducted into the firm during the holidays – always by Papa’s senior managers, never by Papa himself. After Uni, he packed me off to Dar-es-Salaam to head his Africa operation. I stayed there for more than twenty years until I had the accident that cost me the use of my legs.

Sophie, daughter of Eddie and Martha Beard, is one of nature’s doers. Born and raised in rural north Devon, she had lived most of her early life on the fringes of poverty. She married David Deigh, a jobbing builder who eventually succumbed to AIDS resulting from an infected blood transfusion after a relatively minor accident. When I met her, after my mishap, she was acting as PA to Max Matham, an old Uni chum who eventually joined the firm and is now my CFO. I found out that Sophie was a qualified physiotherapist and happily engaged her to help me with my physio needs. The rest is history.

So you see, we are very different people. Although we are all wealthy, some would say obscenely so, we all approached that status from different directions, and I dare say we have different attitudes to the great privileges and greater responsibilities that come with it.