Note: The Jake Chronicles always takes place within the timeline of the Blake World stories. This entry coincides with the upcoming Wild at Heart.
Today I’m working down at the stables. Uncle Bo put me to work as soon as I got there, and I’ve been mucking stalls and cleaning yucky things all morning. But the good part is I get to spend time with the horses. I’m finished for the day, so I thought I’d pay Grandma and Grandpa a visit.
Jake tapped on the office door. “Hi Uncle Bo.”
“Hey there Jake.” Bo Sr. put down the newspaper. “How’s it going? Looks like you worked up a good stink.”
“I finished all my chores.” Jake wiped the sweat off his forehead.
“Good work and ahead of schedule.” Bo Sr. looked at his watch. “I do believe you are faster than your father and your uncles combined.”
“Yeah. And they always complained about getting up so early in the morning. Especially your Uncle Tyler.”
“Uncle Tyler says nothing fun ever happens before noon.” Jake replied.
“He might be right about that. But I don’t think Aunt Michelle would agree.” Bo Sr. smiled. “But us respectable folk have to get the world turning while the lazy ones play possum in bed.”
“Is there anything else you want me to do?”
“No. I think you’ve put in a hard day’s work.”
“OK. See you tomorrow.”
Jake went outside and hopped into his golf cart and went on his way. About a half mile down the road he saw his Uncle J.J. jogging down the trail.
“Uncle J.J. Can I give you a lift?”
“No thanks. I still have a mile to go before I’ll need to be driven home.” J.J. smiled. “Did you type up the notes to the last Big Brother’s meeting?”
There wasn’t much to type. ‘Girls are gross’ is a topic on the agenda every month. Any girl who isn’t a grandma, mama, aunt, sister or cousin is persona non grata in the club. After Uncle J.J. reminds us to be kind and courteous, the rest of the meeting goes off the rails. Especially since all of the kids insist on attending.
“I thought we’d talk about table manners next time. Did you come up with a solution for that?”
“Yep. I asked Uncle Tyler if he wouldn’t mind using a fork at the family Sunday dinners more often. He’s even agreed to cut down on instigating the food fights.”
“Good work.” J.J. slowed his stride. “Go straight to the main offender and get him to do right. I like the way you think.”
“Like Dad says, there’s not a problem I can’t solve that Mackenzie hasn’t created yet.”
“True indeed.” J.J. laughed. “I’m headed down to the creek.”
“See you later Uncle J.J.”
Jake made a left at the fork and continued down the road where uncles Tyler and Channing and their families lived. He could see his Aunt Michelle unpacking bags in front of the house.
“Hi Aunt Michelle.” Jake stopped the golf cart, hopped out and took the bags from her. “I can take that for you.”
“Thank you, Jake.” Michelle closed the hatch on her SUV then walked up the path. “What’s got you up so early?”
“Chores down at the stable.”
“Ah.” She nodded as she opened the front door. “That’s right.”
It was really quiet in the house.
“Where’s Uncle Tyler and the boys?” Jake followed her into the kitchen.
“Down at the racetrack.”
“What are they doing down there?”
“I don’t know but I told him that he was leaving with healthy, able-bodied kids. He’d better bring them back intact.” She opened the fridge door. “Want some lemonade?”
“How about a cookie? We won’t tell your parents I gave you sugar so early in the morning. I have chocolate chip and double fudge.”
“Chocolate chip.” Jake smiled. “Your secret is safe with me.”
They took a seat at the table once Michelle poured up the glasses of lemonade and plated the cookies. Jake bit into the cookie with fervor. “These are delicious.”
“Thanks. I’m trying a new recipe for your sister’s tea party.” Michelle sipped her lemonade.
“She’ll like that.”
“This reminds of the times I would babysit you. We’d eat junk food, watch television and crank call your Uncle Tyler. When your parents came home and asked why you were so wired, I’d pretend I didn’t know.” Michelle mused.
“Good times.” Jake replied.
“Now look at you.” She sighed. “You’re taller than your mother and it sounds like your voice is getting ready to change.”
Mom drank a lot of wine the day she realized I was taller than her.
“I even have a chin hair. And my armpits are—” Jake raised him arm.
“Pretty ripe.” She waved her hand in front of her nose. “You smell like Uncle Tyler when he works out in his gym.”
“I know.” Michelle rolled her eyes. “Why do men think smelling bad is a badge of honor?”
“Grandpa says the more you sweat, the harder you’ve worked.”
“Well, I pride myself on not sweating.” Michelle replied.
“Of course. You’re too pretty to sweat. You work hard in your own way.” Jake flashed a toothy smile.
“I do believe you are developing the Blake charm.” Michelle laughed. “Thanks for the compliment Jake.”
“You’re very welcome.” Jake crammed the rest of the cookie into his mouth. “I better get going.”
Jake left the house, got into the golf cart and went further down the road until he reached his Uncle Channing and Aunt Cassidy’s house.
It’s pretty quiet for a Saturday afternoon. Usually you could hear the triplets from the main gate of the ranch.
He parked the cart in front of the house and rang the doorbell.
“It’s me, Jake.” Jake said as he entered the house looking for everyone. Channing and Cassidy were on the couch. Channing was giving his wife a foot massage.
“Hey there nephew. What’s the good word?”
“Buy low, sell high.” Jake replied.
“Sounds like a graduate from the John Jacob school of business.” Channing laughed.
“Where are the triplets?” Jake scratched at his temples.
“Uncle Logan and Aunt Megan took them to Ohio to see the family for the weekend.” Cassidy snickered.
“Heaven help the great state of Ohio.” Channing shook his head. “We’ll probably get a bill in the mail from the governor.”
“They wanted to the triplet experience. They got it.” Cassidy said.
Uncle Channing and Aunt Cassidy were giving each other goofy looks. I knew that look. They planned on having some alone time while the triplets were gone. Mom and Dad try to pretend they miss us when we’re gone. But once I saw them popping open champagne and doing a happy dance as we left for our weekend sleepover.
“I’ll leave you two alone.” Jake turned to walk away.
“Jake. Before you go. What do you think about your Uncle Channing running for a political office?” Cassidy said.
“I think he’d be great at it. No one’s a better negotiator and he really loves the law.” Jake replied.
“See.” Cassidy swatted Channing’s arm. “Jake thinks it’s a good idea.”
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m intrigued but I don’t want to take away from our family.” Channing said thoughtfully. “The triplets are only going to get even more high-strung as they get older.”
“We’re a team. I can handle the kids. Besides, we can always pawn them off on Logan and Megan until they have their own.” Cassidy bit back a smile.
“You can do anything Uncle Channing. You’re super smart, honest and fair. Multi-tasking is one of your strong suits.” Jake said.
“With an endorsement like that, how can I not give it serious consideration?” Channing smiled.
“See you later.” Jake said as he closed the front door.
Wow. Uncle Channing running for office would be huge for the family. But if anyone can succeed in public office, he can.
From down the road Jake could hear music. That meant the McGill boys were having their daily music lessons. He made a right and followed the path that led to his Uncle Tate and Aunt Isabelle’s cabin. As he drew closer he could see the boys and his Uncle Tate on the porch with their instruments. He parked the golf cart at the base of the porch steps leading up to the cabin.
“That was good boys.” Jake clapped as he ascended the porch steps. “You sound great.”
“Thanks Jake.” Matt turned to his dad. “Are we finished? We’ve practiced for over an hour.”
“Yes. You can stop. But practicing is how you get good at something.” Tate replied. “Don’t you want to sound good for your cousin’s tea party?”
“Kenzie’s really excited that you’re going to be the entertainment.” Jake chimed in. “She said you are the best.”
My sister had convinced the boys to play a few songs. And made a deal with the rest of us to be servers. Kenzie always gets what she wants. Uncle J.J. said she’s going to run Blake Enterprises one day.
“We don’t want to let Kenzie down.” Matt said thoughtfully.
“Besides, you know the rules. You have to practice your instruments if you want to ride on that zipline Uncle Chance is putting up this afternoon.” Tate took the instruments from them. “Go inside and get ready.”
“Uncle Chance is putting up a zipline?” Jake said excitedly. “Sweet! Wouldn’t it be cool if we could zipline from here to my house?”
“No.” Tate shook his head. “I remember when a pot and a wooden spoon would keep you entranced for hours. Now you want to fly around the ranch.”
“You wanted us kids to have a sense of adventure.” Jake gave him a toothy smile. “I remember you saying that.”
“That was before Uncle Chance came into our lives. Now you want adventure on steroids.” Tate replied.
“Grandma says a pioneering spirit and good looks run in the family.”
“She’s not wrong about that.” Tate smiled.
“Mom did say I am more handsome than Dad.” Jake stroked his chin. “As a matter of fact, she said I’m more handsome than all of my uncles too.”
“Moms say nice things like that because they have to.”
“What do dads do?”
“Keep you out of as much trouble as possible.” Tate raised an eyebrow. “Smells like Bo put your through your paces today.”
“He did. He says I was faster than all of you old timers combined.”
“Uncle Bo doesn’t know what he’s talking about. That bath tub gin he makes has rotted some of his brain.”
“I’m going home to change but I’ll be back this afternoon for the fun.” Jake saluted him.
“When you’re ziplining this afternoon, keep an eye on the little ones.” Tate called after him.
“I’m all over it.” Jake said as he walked back to the golf cart.
OK, I did need a shower but there was one more stop to make. From the smoke coming from the distance I can see Grandpa’s barbecuing. It wouldn’t hurt to sample what he’s cooking. You know, just to make sure the meat wasn’t spoiled. I wouldn’t want the rest of the family eating something bad.
Jake parked in the driveway and cut the engine. He walked the pathway around the house to find his grandfather busy at the grill.
“Hi Grandpa.” Jake yelled out. “How’s it hanging?”
“Seth, my boy.” John Jacob said in his boisterous voice. “Like a cheap tie on a rodeo clown. How’s my eldest grandson? Did you work up a good stink working down at the stables?”
Grandpa’s been calling me Seth a lot lately. I mean, they call me Seth at school but whenever I hear that name, I still think of my dad.
“Sure did.” Jake gave his armpits a whiff. “Nothing I couldn’t handle. Where’s Grandma?”
“She went to the nursery looking for more flowers to plant in her garden. She says she’s getting ready for the next wave of babies to be born.”
Jake spied the food on the grill. “Isn’t it kind of early to be cooking barbecue?”
“I’m trying this new sauce for the barbecue competition at the club.” John held up a spoon with sauce on it. “Taste and tell me what you think.”
Jake swiped the back of spoon with his finger. “Yum. You nailed it Grandpa. It’s spicy. I’d give it a four chili pepper rating.”
“Then it’s not hot enough. I was going for five.” John Jacob huffed.
“It’s good, honest. I can’t feel my tongue. I bet it could take the paint off a car.”
“OK. I’ll put it on the chicken wings. Pass me that container of dry rub over there.”
“Here you go.” Jake handed him the plastic container of seasonings.
“How was your big brother’s meeting with J.J the other day?” John Jacob threw another ingredient into his atomic sauce.
“Uncle J.J. always gives good advice. Being a big brother is a full-time job.” Jake shook his head.
“My brother Gabe used to say the same thing.”
Grandpa doesn’t talk about his brother often but lately he’s been mentioning his name. Which confuses Gabe because he’s named after Uncle Gabe.
“What was Uncle Gabe like?”
“He was a good man. He had a great sense of humor. Always polite and kind but was tough when he needed to be. And very smart. Kept me out of trouble more times than I can count. He loved his family.”
“What do you miss about him the most?”
John Jacob thought for a moment. “The hugs. There was nothing like getting a hug from Gabe.”
Huh. That’s surprising. But then again, it’s not. We hug a lot in this family. But lately I’d been feeling like I was getting too old for it. But a hug was the one thing Grandpa couldn’t get anymore from his brother.
“What was it about the hug?”
“He had a way of making you feel like everything was going to be OK, no matter what was going on.” John Jacob replied. “I guess that’s why I always hugged my boys growing up. You never know when you hug someone if it’s the last one you’ll ever get.”
Jake went over and hugged his grandfather. “Sorry about the stink.”
“I’ll take a stinky hug from my eldest grandbaby any day.” John Jacob squeezed back.
“I have to go Grandpa. I have a to grab a shower and get ready for the zipline Uncle Chance is putting in today. I told Uncle Tate I’d keep an eye on the little ones. And I’m also going to have to convince Connor, Jack and Matt not to do something crazy.”
“It’s a never-ending job, being a leader.” John Jacob looked at him. “You sure can wrangle all the personalities around you. It’s a gift to be the voice of reason.”
“I do what I can Grandpa.”
John Jacob smiled. “You are going to be a great leader for this family one day.”
“You think so?”
“I know so.” John Jacob nodded. “I’ll fix you kids something to eat and bring it over after you finish zipping around.”
“Thanks Grandpa!” Jake hustled back to the golf cart and headed home.
The house was in full swing by the time he returned. When Jake entered the kitchen, he saw his dad was cleaning up the kitchen.
“How was work at the stables today?”
“Hi Jakey.” Mackenzie came running into the room but stopped when she got close to him and pinched her nose. “You stink!”
“Come closer.” He held up his arm. “This is man sweat.”
“Eww.” Mackenzie ran back out of the room.
“Seth.” Morgan called out as she walked into the kitchen.
“Yes?” Seth and Jake both answered.
Seth and Morgan gave Jake a curious look.
“I was talking to your Dad.” Morgan smiled. “I thought you didn’t like being called Seth at home.”
“Eh. It’s not the most terrible name in the world.” Jake mumbled.
“I agree.” Morgan picked up an apple from the fruit bowl. “Were you careful tootling around in that golf cart?”
“Yes. I was very careful.”
Next stop, Car City. I want something cool like Parker’s Corvette. Dad said I’ll be lucky if I get an old pick up with a so-so engine.
“It won’t be long before he’s ready to drive his first car.” Seth grinned.
“Bite your tongue.” Morgan squinted at her husband. “The trauma of him being taller than me is still raw.”
“Babe. Did you need something?” Seth asked.
“Yes.” Morgan said. “Explain the safety rules to your sons before they go off to Tate’s house to play with that contraption Chance is bringing over.”
Jake held up a hand. “I’ll just remind them of the rocket incident last weekend.”
“They’re lucky they still have their eyebrows. I’m going to get premature gray hairs worrying about those two.” Morgan sighed.
“Beautiful gray hairs.” Seth walked over and kissed the top of her head.
“I also came in to see what sent Kenzie running out of the room.” Morgan sniffed her son. “Jake, run to the washing machine as soon as you get out of those clothes. Use the heavy-duty cycle. You’re beginning to smell like your father after his epic workouts.”
“Will do Mom.”
“Is that a bad thing?” Seth smirked.
“Kenzie and I would like a break from the stench.” Morgan shook her head as she walked out of the kitchen.
“Sounds like a busy day around here. I guess I’ll—” Seth stopped when Jake came over and hugged him. He gave his son an affectionate squeeze back. “Well, what brought this on?”
Jake smiled. “I wanted to get some of my stink on you. I plan to hug Mom, Connor, Colby and Kenzie on my way to the shower.”
“You’ll have to chase them down first.” Seth laughed.
I’m going to get showered and changed but before I do that I’m going to take a selfie of the sweaty arm pit stains on my T-shirt and send it to Gabby. That should gross her out for the rest of the day. It’s nice that Uncle Chance is spending more time on the ranch. I heard Aunt Isabelle telling Mom that he and Uncle Tate have been getting along better. There may be hope for them yet.
Have a great summer!
Hope you enjoyed Jake’s latest adventure with his family!
In case you missed it, check out Tree House Follies with Uncle Jared, Kangaroo Court with Uncle Channing, Phone Follies with Uncle Tyler, Big Brothers Club Meeting with Uncle J.J., Music Lesson with Uncle Tate, Running Interference with Uncle Robert, Field Trip with Uncle Bubba, Babysitting Avery & Wyatt, Present Hunting with the Gang, New Year’s Eve on the Ranch, Love Lessons from Mom and Dad and Thanksgiving at the Ranch.
Until next time,
Copyright © 2018 Rhonda Laurel. All Rights Reserved.
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