“Uncle Mike, Uncle Mike! Look what we found!”
Mike turned from adding the last turret to a rather impressive looking sand castle and grinned as a small whirlwind of a five year old boy broke away from Gus and tore up the beach, flinging himself into his arms.
Mike let out a dramatic ‘oomph’ and then picked Dean up and swung him around. “What you got, kiddo? No more water for the moat?” he asked, as delighted squeals filled the air.
“Better than that, Uncle Mike! Treasure! Real life treasure! Me an’ Uncle Gus found it when we went to fetch the water!”
Mike raised an impressed eyebrow and smiled over at Gus as he reached them. “You’ve been digging for buried treasure?”
Gus laughed and tousled Dean’s curls as they all settled on the blankets amongst the remains of their beach picnic. “I was just the hired help. It’s all down to Pirate Captain Dean here, he found the loot, matey.”
“Avast! Is that so?” Mike grinned. “Any chance I can see it, Cap’n?”
Dean nodded happily, his eyes wide and excited as he rummaged in a red plastic bucket. “It was buried in the sand an’ Uncle Gus helped me an’ we dug with my spade an’ then we washed it in the sea an’ then we brought it to show you, Uncle Mike!” A crow of joy broke the excited monologue and then Mike found his hands full of seashells. “There, Uncle Mike – treasure!”
There were shells of all colours and sizes, their ocean slick surfaces sparkling brightly in the late afternoon sun. Mike whistled loudly in appreciation. “Wow, that’s some pretty impressive booty there, Cap’n. What you going to do with it?”
Dean beamed up at him. “Give it to Momma when she and Daddy get home!”
“That sounds like a really good idea. I bet she’ll love it,” Mike smiled. “They should be back soon and then we can all eat.”
“Yay!” Dean said and began to carefully stow the precious treasure back in the plastic bucket.
Gus yawned and lay back on the blanket, his hair a little wild and a faint stripe of pink marking his nose where the sunscreen must have worn away. Even after living here all these years Gus still needed factor 100, or whatever came close.
“Tired?” Mike asked, lying on his side and brushing away a few grains of pink-white sand sticking to Gus’s cheek.
Gus tilted his head into the touch and smiled. “A little. I’d forgotten how much energy five year olds have. I should’ve known better when Tommy grinned like that when we said we’d love to baby-sit for the afternoon.” He shook his head, “Lawyers!”
“Yeah, I think we may have been had there, buddy,” Mike winked.
Gus chuckled and looked over to where Dean was diligently working. “It’s been fun, though,” he said and then laughed again, more quietly, motioning towards Dean. “Look.” Mike grinned at the look of rapt concentration on their godson’s face, tongue poking between his teeth as he carried out the important business of treasure hoarding, sand castle now forgotten.
“Yeah, it has,” Mike said softly and then pressed a quick kiss to the tip of Gus’s sunburnt nose, before standing up. “But it’s time we got packed up and back to the house,” he added regretfully, holding out a hand to help Gus up. “Better get that grill fired up or we’re all going hungry tonight.”
“Time for special super sizzlers, Uncle Mike?” Dean asked earnestly, jumping around them, plastic bucket clutched tightly in one hand.
“Sure is, kiddo,” Mike laughed, hoisting Dean onto his shoulders as Gus gathered the blankets and basket, and they began to walk up the beach.
“You know what else?” Gus said, winking at Dean. “There might be ice cream for afterwards.”
“Rocky Road?” Dean squealed excitedly.
“Absolutely,” Gus grinned and then rolled his eyes fondly when both Dean and Mike loudly ‘yayed’ their approval.
Mike just laughed and entwined their fingers as they headed home.