Category: A bump in the Knight

Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 12.2

In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman 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.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

A bump in the Knight is now being published here as a serial; one part each Sunday.


A Bump in the Knight. Chapter twelve, part two

Jessica won her place at Oxford and moved in with us. We had agreed with her parents that, in view of the status of their relationship, there was no need for us to make futile efforts to make them sleep separately. We had their two apartments joined into one reasonably-sized affair with two bedrooms. That left them to choose on a night-by-night basis whether to sleep together or separately. Whether they chose to tell us of their arrangement was up to them. We never asked.

David studied business management and international politics, while Jess majored in psychology, with additional studies in linguistics. Our holiday pattern continued while they were at university: both families spent Easter and Thanksgiving in Hawaii, and three weeks of the long summer break and Christmas in Knight Towers. For the rest of the summer break, the kids were free to follow their own desires. During their three years at Oxford, they spent holidays volunteering for UK-based overseas charities. They both taught English to schoolchildren in the Philippines, they carried out conservation work with wildlife in Madagascar and they worked with migrants and refugees in Italy. The combined result of these placements, together with voluntary work they carried out more locally, was to produce a pair of well-rounded, mature, thoughtful but high-achieving adults. Of course, Jessica’s parents came over for their graduation, after which both families took a two-week wildlife-watching cruise in the Galapagos archipelago to give the youngsters a chance to unwind. It was also something both families had long ago placed on their respective ‘bucket lists’. This was the first opportunity that Jason and Noelani had enjoyed to see David and Jess totally relaxed and doing nothing but enjoying each other’s company. As far as we parents were concerned, that holiday sealed the deal. Those two had to marry; they were so close and so well suited.

Knowing that it would be some months before the six of us would be together again, I decided to air over dinner the question that was on all our minds.

“So, Jess,” I started. “What plans for the immediate future?”

“Do you mean before or after I marry this rather wonderful son of yours?” she asked, answering my unspoken question.

“Let’s say before,” I suggested hesitantly.

“Don’t think there’ll be much time for anything before that.” A broad grin spread across David’s face as he looked at Jess, his cheeks glowing and his unblinking eyes fixed on hers.

“Perhaps that’s what we should be talking about, then,” Noelani said.

“I’m with Nell,” Sophie added, “let’s get down to specifics.”

“We have it all worked out, Sophie,” Jess said, “We were just trying to find the right time to talk to you all about it.”

“Now sounds good,” Jason said, to which we all agreed.

God, but these kids can be practical sometimes.

David started the ball rolling. “First off, we want to have a quiet, low-key civil wedding in England, then we start the process of getting Jess off the student visa and onto ILR – Indefinite Leave to Remain. Once we have that, she can apply for a British passport.”

“Will that mean giving up her American passport?” Noelani asked.

“Heavens, no,” David replied. “Dual citizenship is okay by UK and US law. Once we have that, we plan to go to Hawaii for a full, traditional Maui wedding with all the trimmings. Then we’ll set in motion my petition for an American passport.”

“Sounds like you’ve thought it all through,” Jason said.

“Oh yes; we certainly have.”

“But where do you intend to live, and what work will you do?”

“That’s what we need to talk about. I want to get into Dad’s business, so I’ll be ready to take over when he’s too fragile and frail to keep up with it—”

“Oy!” I complained, laughing so much that no-one took it seriously.

“But I want to continue my studies to a Masters and maybe even a PhD. I want to look at the psychological effects of the evolution of languages,” Jess added.

“Where do you need to be to do that?” I asked.

“Anywhere I can get a decent connection. It’ll be research-based and conducted mostly online. I can also, wherever I am, teach English to non-native speakers.”

“Even in England or America?”

“Duh! Refugees? Migrants? These days there’s plenty of scope for that. It also gives the chance to work with speakers of other languages, which will dovetail nicely into my studies.”

“Right,” Noelani said, “let’s get down to specifics and do some serious planning.”

Our end of the arrangement was easy. In fact, there was nothing for us to do. David and Jess had already, unbeknown to us, spoken with the local registrar. Knight Towers was already authorised for weddings; there hadn’t been one since Sophie’s and mine two decades earlier, but the licence was still valid. David knew this and wanted their UK marriage to take place there. Family and close friends only, they had insisted.

Noelani had been beaming throughout the discussion. She was, as we had found earlier, a most accomplished event organiser and caterer, and the opportunity to put on a traditional, no-holds-barred Maui wedding was something she had dreamed of for ages. To be able to plan and arrange it for her own daughter was, in every conceivable regard, the icing on the cake. That part of the planning involved Jess and her mother only. The rest of us had to satisfy ourselves with fill-time activities like swimming and scuba-diving in the crystal-clear waters around the islands, relaxing on empty beaches and generally being as chilled as any of us had ever been. Sadly, after only two days, it was time to leave the cruise and return to civilisation. We had one month to prepare for the UK wedding. Two weeks after that was the Hawaiian affair. Our job was easy. It was Noelani we felt sorry for, although her level of excitement and the number and rate of the phone calls and emails suggested that she was a long way from feeling sorry for herself.

The first wedding, the civil ceremony under English law, took place in the Great Hall of Knight Towers. Sophie used the same decorators, caterers and event organisers as she had used for our wedding, and I was delighted, and more than a little relieved, to see that they were all as good as they had been two decades earlier. She had even asked me to arrange for Joe Green to act as celebrant.

It was a significantly smaller affair than ours had been. Apart from immediate family, David and Jess had invited a small number of their closest classmates from Oxford, who knew that they were representing the larger circles of loyal friends that they both enjoyed. The brief ceremony was professionally recorded on digital video, and an approved edit was released to a closed group on social media for the benefit of those who couldn’t attend.

The kids flew to Hawaii just a couple of days after the ceremony. We followed two weeks later.

The arrangements were as detailed and as immaculate as I expected from Noelani. The actual ceremony was restricted by permit to a total of forty people, including the couple, the photographer and the celebrants. The beach was specially prepared according to the ancient traditions of the island and the ceremony itself was as near authentic as it was possible to make it: the exchange of Leis, the Pu and Blessing Chant, the anointing with Holy Oil, the binding of the hands during the vows, the blessed Keepsake Ties, the Niu Cups, the Ho’okupu Offering and the sacred nectar exchange; everything was as it has been practised for millennia – and nothing was missed. Once again, the whole affair was videographed and, as with the function at Knight Towers, an agreed edit was released to a closed group on social media.

After the ceremony, we made our way to a marquee that had been raised in the grounds of the Reeves’ home, for a feast prepared according to island traditions and attended by more than one hundred people. By the time that was over, we were in no doubt that David and Jess were well and truly married!

END OF PART TWO

Next week we begin the final part of the Hannice Knight trilogy: Knight after Knight

 

Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 12.1

In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman 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.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

A bump in the Knight is now being published here as a serial; one part each Sunday.


A Bump in the Knight. Chapter twelve, part one

A lot happened over the next couple of years. Business was good, we spent great times with the Reeves, and the bond between David and Jess strengthened with every meeting, with every Skype call.

David continued to do well at school, and the parts of his holidays we didn’t spend with the Reeves family, he spent with the business. I had a programme to introduce him to all of Knight Trading’s regional and divisional offices, and the three of us managed to get to each region at least once a year. David developed an understanding of the business and, I liked to think, a desire to take it forward when his time came.

David was now eighteen years old, with good A-levels and a guaranteed place at Oxford, if he chose to take it. Sophie and I had been trying in vain for another child, but it never happened. We had tried all the usual things: changing my diet to boost sperm production, using ovulation predictors and so on, but we had decided against any form of medical intervention. My sperm count was okay and Sophie was ovulating normally, which only left IVF or IVM, neither of which we wanted to follow.

We are neither of us fatalists. The concept of ‘if it is meant to be, it will happen’ is foreign to us; we don’t accept that there is any external intelligence directing our lives. The plan our lives follow is our plan, and responsibility for anything that goes wrong as a result of that plan is ours and ours alone. That’s not to suggest that we think we have total control over our lives; we are affected by other people’s decisions and, of course, the ‘fickle hand of fate’, the law of unintended consequences, the butterfly effect; in other words, things that are outside our control.

So we accepted, long before his eighteenth birthday, that David was and would most likely remain our only child.

The gap year arrived. The work that Scott Enoch had initiated had reached fruition, and Knight Trading (Hawaii) was ready to start business. David’s first job was to do the ‘due diligence’; to make sure that the business was in good shape and in a fit condition for us to run with. This can be a soul-destroying job, but it would give David a thorough grounding in the paper-slog that business so often involves, as well as providing a close look at the business we were about to take over, and at our own business.

David conducted it well and thoroughly, and the acquisition happened on schedule. As leader of the transition team, David was closely involved in every aspect of the job, including staff retention and re-contracting, pension and social rights transfer and all the complex issues that come from working in an unfamiliar legislative environment. Through it all, he was seeing Jessica pretty much every day and their relationship blossomed. Halfway through his gap year, by which time David was effectively acting as interim CEO of the new business, Jessica had her eighteenth birthday. Jason and Noelani threw a party for her to which, naturally enough, we were all invited – along with more than a hundred others. During the party, David asked Sophie and me to join him and the Reeves family in a quiet side room. We parents sat expectantly. David spoke, directing himself to Jason.

“Sir,” he said, “I am, and have for some time been very much in love with Jessica.”

Jason smiled and said, “That’s okay, David; I think we all knew that. You’ve both been rubbish at keeping it secret.”

“As she is now eighteen, I should like your permission to ask her for her hand in marriage.”

“That’s very formal, David,” Jason replied. “Not many people follow the old protocols any more, and I admire you for doing this in the proper, old-fashioned way.”

“Thank you, Sir. Was that a yes?”

“Of course it was, dear boy.”

David turned to face Jess and dropped to one knee. “Jessica. You know how much I love you. Will you please do me the honour of becoming my wife?”

Jess coloured up like a traffic light on stop. “Yes, David, a thousand times yes,” she said, adding, “but not yet.”

I’m not sure that it’s normal for the parents of the prospective groom to respond to the response from their son’s beloved by falling about laughing, and I wasn’t totally convinced that the young woman’s parents understood why we reacted in that way, but that’s what we did.

Once we’d calmed down, Sophie said, “I should probably explain that.”

“Please do,” Jason said, rather crossly.

“I’m sorry,” she said then, looking at David and Jess, whose bewilderment was evidenced by the way they were looking at each of the adults in turn, “especially to you two. It’s just that, when Hannice proposed to me, I responded with exactly those words.”

“If that’s anything to go by, Mum, Jess and I have a bright future ahead of us.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, Auntie Sophie, why did you answer like that?”

“Hannice was in the middle of recovering after the operation that gave him back the use of his legs. We both knew there was still a long way to go, and I wanted to give him a stronger goal to work for. I said I wouldn’t marry him until he could walk me down the aisle, unaided.”

“Wow. Makes my wish to finish my education first sound lame. Sorry, perhaps that wasn’t the best word to choose under the circumstances.”

“Don’t worry, Jess,” I said, “that’s all behind us. I think you’re very wise to want to finish your education first. Have the two of you talked about university choice?”

“Well, David has a place at Oxford, as you know. I’ve applied to them under their overseas student programme but haven’t had their reply yet.”

“How would you feel about Jess studying in the UK?” I said to Jason and Noelani.

“We’d miss her terribly, of course,” her mother replied, “but she has to leave home at some time; if not before university, then after.”

“And I’d come home for all the holidays,” Jess added.

“I would hope we could carry on as we had,” I said. “I rather like alternating between Knight Towers and Hawaii.”

“Of course,” Jason said. “We can talk about all that, later. What about accommodation? What are the quarters like at Oxford University?”

“We’re less than half an hour’s drive from the university, don’t forget,” Sophie chipped in, “I had imagined that David would still live with us. And if Jess goes to Oxford, she has her own flat at Knight Towers, too. But let’s wait to see if she gets it, eh?”

“Now, Jess,” I said, “now that you and David are engaged, you can drop the Uncle and Auntie; okay? It’s just Hannice and Sophie.”

“And the same goes for you, David,” Jason said, “although I do rather like being addressed as Sir.” Noelani flashed him a look with furrowed brows. “Joking! I’d be delighted for you to call me Jason.”

“Thank you, S… Jason,” David said, “and Noelani.”

“Call me Nell,” Noelani said, “it’s less of a mouthful, but it’s something only close family are allowed to call me.”

“Thank you, Nell. I’m honoured.”

“You are indeed,” I suggested.

“That goes for you two now, too. You’ve just shifted from close friends to family.”

“That’ll take some getting used to,” Sophie said.

“Calling me Nell or being family?”

“Both,” Sophie replied with a slight laugh.

“Shall we go back out?” Jason asked. We all assented and left the side room to join the main party.

Jason picked up a glass and struck it a few times with a fork. The room fell silent.

“Friends and family,” he said. “This has now become more than just Jessica’s eighteenth birthday party, although that’s reason enough to celebrate. Today, our daughter; our baby; has just accepted a proposal of marriage from David Knight. Most of you know David, but for those who don’t, David is the son of Hannice and Sophie here. He has been working with the family’s new company on the island for the past several months, but he and Jess go back a lot further than that. We are delighted at the prospect of welcoming David into our family. He and Jess still have to complete their studies and plan to marry after their graduations. Don’t worry, you’ll all know the date and place as soon as we do. A toast.” He raised a glass. “David and Jessica.”

 

Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 11.7

In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman 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.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

A bump in the Knight is now being published here as a serial; one part each Sunday.


A Bump in the Knight. Chapter eleven, part seven

By the time Jason and his family left to go back to Hawaii, David and Jessica were practically engaged. That they were only sixteen (okay, David was only days short of seventeen) was something we had to take into account, but both we and Jess’s parents could potentially see a future in this relationship.

I started sounding Scott out about finding suitable businesses in the US that we could target, specifically in Hawaii. So far, he hadn’t come up with anything, much to David’s disappointment.

A few months after the visit, I called David into my study at about five in the evening.

“Can’t come for a while, Dad,” he said.

“Why not?”

“Formula one’s on. Last race of the season.”

“Since when have you been following motor racing?”

“Since I found out that Uncle Jason’s brother, Jess’s uncle James, owns a team.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Reeves Racing, it’s called. Doing quite well, too. Their number one driver’s in contention for the title.”

“What title?”

“Duh, Dad? World Champion.”

“What’s his name?”

“Not him, Dad; her. The first woman ever to race at that level. She’s only in her rookie year, and already she’s battling with two established drivers who have five World Championships between them. She’s guaranteed to be in the top three, but if she wins this race, she could be World Champion.”

“Could be?”

“It depends on who comes second. Look. Ginny Fox, that’s her name, is seven points behind Alex Lejeune and six points behind Damiano Bellucci. If she wins and Lejeune comes second, she’ll be the champion; but if Bellucci comes second he’ll get the title.”

“And if she doesn’t win?”

“My money’s on Bellucci in the Brabham-Bristol.”

“You’re not gambling now, are you?”

“It’s just a saying, Dad.”

I left him to his devices. I tried watching a Formula One race once; damn near bored me to death. It was like a funeral procession, only at crazy high speeds. The only excitement was in the pit stops, unless one of the drivers made a mistake and crashed out. Apart from that, though, the whole thing left me totally unmoved.

A couple of hours later, David burst into my office, his face flushed with excitement.

“She did it, Dad. She won.”

“Who came second?” I asked, feigning a level of interest I certainly didn’t feel.

“Lejeune in the BSC. Bellucci’s Brabham engine had a catastrophic failure three laps from the end. He was leading the race until then.”

“So that means…”

“That means Ginny Fox is the new World Champion. A woman, and in her first year in the formula. But there’s more.”

“There is?”

“Bellucci not being placed meant that Reeves Racing take the constructor’s championship, too.”

“I wonder why Jason didn’t mention anything about this.”

“Oh, I can answer that, Dad. According to Jess, James did something in his teens that brought shame on the family. I’ve no idea what it was, but none of the rest of the family has spoken to him or even mentioned his name since then.”

“So how does Jess know about this, if his name hasn’t been mentioned since before she was born?”

“Facebook.”

“What about it?”

“Well, that and some family tree stuff. Earlier this year, Jess started researching her background. You know, to see if there was anything interesting in her family history. She saw that her dad had a brother called James and started looking on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for a James Reeves.”

“But that could throw up any number of people with that name, couldn’t it? Even some who aren’t called that, but are impersonating someone who is. How does she know the one she found is genuine and is really her uncle?”

“Apart from the information in his profile, which all matched up with what she knew from her dad, you only have to see the profile photo to see that they’re related.”

“So what has she done about it? Has she contacted him? Has she talked to her mum or dad about it?”

“Not yet. There are a few more things she wants to dig out first. When she’s absolutely sure that it’s him, she’ll talk to her dad before contacting James.”

“That sounds sensible.”

“Jess is a sensible girl, Dad. I’m going to Skype her now. Bye.”

“Hang on, before you go,” I shouted as Davis skipped through the door, “will she be up?”

“Yeah, Dad. It’s half past eight in the morning there. She’ll be up.”

One of the things I’ve noticed recently is how silent everything seems when David leaves the room. The lad seems to be living his life at an uncharacteristically high level of excitement of late. Is that an effect of being in love, or is it just a product of his age? Either way, he’s more fulfilled; more alive, somehow; than he’s been for a good few years.

I was delighted with this turn of events, and from what I could gather by talking to him, Jason was seeing a similar thing with Jess and was equally pleased. Between us, and having spoken with our respective wives, of course, we concluded that it would be worthwhile to gently encourage the relationship. To this end, Sophie and I invited the Reeves family to Knight Towers for Christmas, and for a three-week holiday during the summer. For their part, they invited us for a holiday at Easter and for Thanksgiving. Between us, we’d ensure that the kids could get together at least four times each year.

Some of Scott’s advanced work was beginning to bear fruit, too. He had, with Board approval, made a tactical investment in an independent import/export business on Oahu that was looking to expand and in need of funds. This was, he told me, a long-term project. His intention was to increase the investment over a period of two or three years, until he found himself in a position to launch a takeover bid. He was aware of the dates of David’s gap year and mooted the idea that there would be a temporary position for a young and energetic transition manager for the six to nine months that would be needed to firm up the acquisition and incorporate the business within the group. Of course, David would need to compete for the job with any other suitably qualified applicants following the notification of the opening that we would publish absolutely nowhere.

As a matter of courtesy, I shared this information with Sophie and Jason, on the understanding that it wouldn’t be mentioned to David or Jessica without my advance approval. This was necessary because of the very early stages of the project in which we found ourselves. Simply put, there was still a yawning chasm twixt cup and lip.