Of Museums and Men

an excerpt

Chapter One

After turning into the winding driveway, Tyler pulled up outside the villa. His brother's sprawling property was such a contrast to the far more modest home he owned. But then, working in the oil and gas industry meant his brother's pay was far greater. Not that Cooper had that much time to enjoy it. His bitch of wife reaped the benefits of Cooper's hard work.

Tyler took a deep breath. Their relationship wasn't really his business. Except he'd always loved and looked up to his older brother, and wanted him to be happy. At the beginning of their relationship Cooper and Barbara seemed an ideal couple. He'd stood proudly as best man at their wedding. Then his nephew Luke had come along.

As soon as she'd found she was pregnant, Barbara had insisted on becoming a housewife, except she then brought in a cleaner to do all the housework. Eight years later, Cooper still worked his ass off, doing shifts that entailed weeks at a time away from home, long hours, hard work, and a lot of time missing Luke. Barbara, in the meantime, seemed to have taken on the role of lady of the manor, rather than wife and mother.

He wondered if Barbara knew by now that this week's holiday was Cooper's make-or-break week for his marriage. He'd confessed to Tyler that he wanted to work off the rigs and spend time with his son. It was time for him to find out whether Barbara just wanted his money or Cooper himself. Tyler really hoped things worked out for his brother.

Tyler was looking forward to having Luke for a week. He'd chosen Wellington so he could take Luke to the museum there. Given Luke's enduring interest of all things oceanic, but especially those squid-related, Te Papa was going to be a big hit with his nephew.

He mentally checked off what he'd put on the back seat. There were DVDs, a couple of bags of chips, and a cool bag that held cans of Coke. For an eight-year-old, Luke was very responsible, and on the five hour car journey down to Wellington, he would be good with his treats. Tyler also had a new book on deep sea creatures as an extra special gift for Luke.

Luke had been fascinated with sea creatures since he was five. He was especially interested in the giant squid, and so the highlight of the trip to Wellington was going to be their visits to Te Papa museum where they had a giant squid exhibition.

Luke had actually squealed with delight on hearing of the trip. Personally, Tyler couldn't think of anything more boring. He rarely went to museums or art galleries. Boring. He could just picture the geeks who'd be there: pale-skinned, flabby, and peering through big, thick-lens glasses. He shuddered. He much preferred being on the beach, swimming and surfing. But this trip was about Luke, not him.

Thankfully, as they were staying with cousins, he'd get the chance to hit some of the bars in the evenings while Luke was safely tucked up in bed. He was more than happy to sacrifice his days going around boring museums for the sake of his nephew. The days were for Luke, the nights were for him.

He grinned happily, looking forward to the trip. All he hoped was that while Luke was away, Cooper got things at home sorted. He parked the car and headed to the house. He'd just raised a hand to ring the bell when the door opened.

"I'm ready." Luke stood in the doorway, a small case and a backpack at his feet. "Thanks for this, Uncle Tyler."

"That's okay, squirt." Tyler bent down to get a kiss from his nephew. "Get yourself comfortable. There are some new DVDs for you to watch, along with some old favourites."


"Be good for Uncle Tyler," Cooper shouted from the step.

"I will, Dad." Luke kissed his father then hurried to the car.

Laughing, Tyler embraced his brother. "We'll be just fine," he said.

"Yeah, he will. You, he can wrap round his little finger. Don't give in to all his demands." Cooper left a hand on Tyler's shoulder and squeezed. "Thanks for this. If things go well, he'll never know. If they don't…well at least he's had a trip away with you he'll always remember. At least while he has this squid kick."

"Squid, kraken, Cthulhu." Tyler shook his head. "They all seem interchangeable to him. Never mind. Could be worse. At least there's the exhibition I can take him to. Museum by day, Wellington by night. I'd say that was a win-win situation."

"Glad you think so. He's done nothing but tell us how excited he is about this. Barbara brushes it all off as just a phase, but for now, it's important to him, so it's important to me."

"Me too, big brother. Look, I'll text you, you know, so I know how things are in regards to letting Luke call."

"He has his own cell phone. But to be honest, I think he'll be so wrapped up in the exhibition, we won't matter. Go. Have fun. I look forward to hearing all the facts when you two get back."

"Yeah. Right." Cooper joined in Tyler's laughter. "I hope things go well," he said.

Cooper shrugged. "If she and I don't have a shared vision for the future, it's better to go our separate ways now. When Luke moves up into high school, I want him settled. If that means moving on, then so be it."

Tyler nodded. "I love you, big brother."

"Love you too, baby bro. Be careful on the roads, and in the big city."

They both laughed before Tyler waved and headed back to his car. Luke was ready to go, secure in his seat belt. Tyler nodded. "Ready, buddy?"

Luke nodded eagerly. "Yeah. I'm ready."

"Good. Wellington, here we come."