Dad, Trace and Grayson arrived at the house fairly quickly. TJ decided he was going to stay in New York as he couldn’t fly and it would be a long drive. I had tried calling Dad but wasn’t getting an answer and same with Amelia. We arrived at the airport and Pop had decided to fly into Des Moines instead in Minneapolis. Clear Lake, IA was exactly the half point between both cities and a 2 hour drive either way. The flight to Des Moines required a layover in Chicago and we boarded one of those small reginal jets for the short flight.
We arrived in Des Moines and the airport was rather small but I guess it wasn’t a tourist destination like some other Midwestern towns. The baggage area only had two claims area’s and the rental cars were also right there. Dad went over to the National counter while Trace, Beau and I waited for the luggage.
“This is a nice airport” Grayson said
“Yeah not too crowded and you haven’t been recognized” Trace said
“Yeah some of my fandom has worn off but this disguise helps too.” I said
“Ok, I got us an SUV so we will have plenty of room; I can’t believe our luggage hasn’t arrived yet.” Pop said and as on cue the carousel started to move and bags were coming out.
“I’m going to get the car and why don’t you guys wait curbside.” Pop said
“No problem, I can drive if you want” I said
“Might be a good idea, I am nervous as I haven’t heard back from anyone.” Pop said
We grabbed all the bags and went to wait curb side, pop showed up a few minutes later.
“Sorry I missed the turn to come back into the airport and had to go down the street and turn around.”
“Not a problem; let’s get everything loaded” Trace said
“Jack, do you mind if Trace and I sit in the back and you can ride shot gun with JC?” Grayson asked
“I can do that but no funny business in the back.” Pop said with a knowing look
“I am going to stop down the street as there is some gas station called Casey’s General Store and grab some drinks and snacks.” I said looking up from my phone
“Sounds like a good idea” Pop said.
We jumped in the truck and I drove to the little General Store. They had all kinds of food including Pizza and subs. Based on the reviews people really seem to love their pizza. I was able to jump right onto I-35 and head north. The drive was long and not much to see but open fields and it was dark. We went through Ames and Trace told us it was home to The Iowa State Cyclones; my brother is a huge college basketball fan. We made it to Clear Lake around midnight and dad didn’t want to show up at Aunt Amelia’s in the middle of the night. We stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites right off the highway. We were all bushed and I sent TJ a message letting him know we arrived and I was going to sleep. I had forgotten about the time difference so TJ was probably asleep already. I woke in the morning to discover my brother and Beau had gone to get breakfast and Pop was still trying to reach Amelia.
“Pop don’t you have anyone else’s number?” I asked
“I do, just no one is answering their phones.” He replied in a huff
“It will be ok Pop, I just know it.” I said and Trace and Beau returned
“We went to this place called HyVee and got some donuts. You’d like that store J as it was full of eye candy.” Trace said and Grayson shot him a look
“We went to Casey’s and got some coffee too.” Grayson said
“Any luck getting a hold of anyone?” Trace asked
“No, I didn’t. I am just going to drive to the house and see whose home.” Pop said
“We will all go with you but you better eat something first” I said. We all ate and I threw some clothes on and sent TJ a good morning text. Aunt Amelia didn’t live too far from the hotel so the drive was quick. We had never been to her house and it was kind of strange getting there. Pop went to the door to see who was home and he knocked and the door opened
“Jack? What are you doing here?” Dad said
“I was told you were in a car accident and I had to get here.” Pop replied
“Who all is with you?” Dad said looking at the car
“The boys and Grayson since TJ can’t fly.” Pop replied
“Well neither Amelia nor I were hurt. We were driving back to the house from the Walmart in Mason City when someone failed to yield and hit the car.” Dad said
“Well why didn’t you guys answer your phones, I was worried sick.” Pop said
“Well I dropped my phone and screen shattered and I was talking with Amelia and Peter about taking a drive either to Des Moines or up to the Mall of America in Minneapolis to get a replacement.” Dad said
“Oh, well I guess I’ll go” pop said defeated
“Jack you came all this way for me?” Dad said
“Yes, when I heard you were in an accident, I had to be here; I love you.” Pop said with tears flowing
“Boys, come on in and you too Jack” Dad said and then he kissed him
“Jack! What a surprise” Amelia said
“Yeah I am full of them.” Pop said
“If I knew you were going to come all this way, I would have made some food.” Amelia said
“No need, we can feed ourselves and I tried calling but no one answered.” Pop said
“Oh silly me, my phone is on silent” Amelia said
We sat around and talked and Pop had his head buried in his phone. Uncle Peter had said our cousins were out doing whatever and had taken James. They had texted to let them know we were here. Pop stepped away and talked with Amelia for a few minutes and came back and announced he’d be taking dad out to lunch.
Jack’s point of view
I needed to win Tracy over and tell him how much he still means to me. I know things weren’t so great but maybe we needed a change. I talked to Amelia and she told me about a little place here in Clear Lake that has really good sandwiches and that I should picnic down by the lake.
I took Tracy over to Starboard Market and we got a sandwich each and one of their homemade desserts. We decided to leave the car where it was and walked over to the lake which was only a block and half away.
“When I heard you had been in an accident it was my worst fear. I didn’t know if I’d ever get the chance to apologize to you.” I said
“Jack, you’ve been acting so strange and taking things out on JC and TJ that it really hasn’t been fair. How do I know that someone else won’t come along and steal you from me?” Tracy said
“I know babe, I’ve given you every reason to doubt me. I think about when we were growing up and you’d dance for me but I really didn’t have anything to offer you. I landed up in a relationship with Jeff, Lyle and a whole bunch of others including Tristan but when I think about it I’ve always loved you. You were the first one who brought me out of my shell and admit I was gay. You were there for me when my mom flipped out and when I was hit by a car.” I said fondly
“Our relationship sounds a bit fucked up.” Tracy said
“No, we are complicated; you gave me two beautiful boys who admire and love you. We helped our friend Liz and Jackie realize their dream of motherhood. You helped Jackson learn to dance and carry a tune; two things I could never do. You showed our boys what it means to love someone unconditionally’ which is something I have a hard time doing but somehow you still love me anyways.”
“Jack, you’ve always put work first and I helped take care of the kids. I wish you would have trusted me with your issues with Emily as it would have made things a whole lot easier. She was a good friend to us both and how was I to know she was evil and holding crap over you? That is one thing about you Jack, you don’t know how to trust people or share your feelings.”
“Tracy, hindsight is 20/20, should I have told you I was in love with Tristan; yeah I should have but when you and I reconnected at Marie’s and we had that talk all night long I remembered why I fell in love with you all those years before. You are a strong and confident man.” I said
“I am Jack but we need to work on our communication.” He said
“That we do and I have to fix my relationship with JC and TJ. I think thought maybe I should start with TJ’s father and clear the air and find out why he ghosted me all those years. I just didn’t expect Emily to reconnect with you several times.”
“You know Jack, I was surprised too. After we moved away and went to college I really didn’t talk to many people from our home town. Sure I heard from them my freshman year but after that we all sort of drifted apart. She was moving to New York and wanted friendly faces and I am sure she knew we were married. She never mentioned you at all but I did when I told her we were married. Come to think of it; it makes sense that she would want to connect with me. She wanted you and Murray to get together and I think she was mad it never happened. He and Jeff didn’t last that long due to them going away to school; you and I just happened to land in the same town. I get the feeling we were pawns in her long game.”
“She knew how to manipulate all of us and like a fool I fell for it.”
“Jack, you are not a fool; only sometimes.” Tracy said playfully
“Well if I’m anyone’s fool; I’m yours” I said and kissed him
“That’s the truth.” He said returning the kiss
“Uncle Tracy?” we heard someone say and we looked up
“Eli, how are you” I said while Tracy was busy adjusting himself
“I’m good, mom said you guys were down here and me and the boys have been swimming and were on the lake boating. Would you like to join us?”
It had been a while since I had seen Amelia’s kids and Eli looked just like Amelia but had Peter’s darker skin tone. He was always tan and apparently he’s ripped based on the fact he’s shirtless. What a good looking kid
“Uncle Jack? Are ok, you are kind of starring at me.” Eli snickered
“What? Sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve seen you and was kind of taking it all in” I said in a lame attempt and he just laughed.
“It’s ok Uncle Jack, many of us who work out on the farms kind of look like this. You should be prepared as my brothers are all the same way.” Eli said
“Bro, what’s taking so long?” Xander said walking over
“I found them” He said point at us
“Uncle Jack!” Xander said and I could tell Eli wasn’t lying this kid was beyond a brick shithouse.
“How are you Xander?” I asked and it was kind of like looking in the mirror as Xander favored Tracy in a lot of his features.
“I’m really good; starting my senior year at Iowa State.” Xander said proudly
“Are you over here giving them your life story?” Wesley said. Now Wesley and Xander are triplets with Eli being the fraternal one; triplets run in Peter’s family.
“Hello Wes, cocky as always.” I said getting a laugh from the others
“You know Uncle Jack, better watch it or I’ll bench press ya” Wesley said laughing
“Oh I’m scared.” I said in mock terror
“Wait till we get back to the house.” Wesley said with a mocking tone
“Your cousins are here too and Trace brought his husband.” Tracy said to change the subject
“Jackson and Trace came? Hell has frozen over and it’s summer” Xander said
“Let us finish chatting and we will see you at the house?” Tracy said?”
“Deal” The boys said and ran back towards the water
“I don’t know what’s in this Iowa water but those are some good looking boys” I said
“Jack, there are boys like that all around here; a dime a dozen.” He said and laughed
“Tracy, can we please start over?” I asked
“Why, I don’t want all that baby weight again. We can pick up where we left off as long as you promise to be more open.” He said
“Well I do” I said and kissed him
“Let’s head back to the house and find out about having a cookout.” Tracy said
We drove back to the house and I saw all the boys sitting outside talking around the fire pit and I waived and we went in.
“So according to Eli you two have made up” Amelia said and smiled
“Yeah looks that way sis” I said
“I am glad; you two are a great pair. Now you need to fix things with TJ.” She said
“I will but I want to do it in person.” I replied
“Hey Tracy, why don’t we take a family trip to Des Moines tomorrow and get your phone fixed” I said
“I looked and there is an Apple store at the Jordan Creek Mall, so we should be able to get it repaired or replaced.” He said
“Good idea and then one day we can do an entire family trip up to the Mall of America.” I said
“Jack, Jordan Creek Mall is ok for us; I need to do some back to school shopping.” Amelia said and looked at Peter.
“Are you guys ok?” I asked sensing something was amiss
“Since the boys are outside, it’s been tough since Peter lost his job and I’ve been doing what I can working at the supermarket but things are tight especially with the triplets in college.” Amelia said
“I’d love to help you if I could; get me your resumes and I can talk to some contacts I’ve made out here over the years.” I said
“That could be helpful. We’ll get you the details.” Amelia said
“Thanks, I am going to go outside and see what the boys are up to” Tracy said
“I’ll be behind you babe” I said
“I get the feeling your brother in law wants to talk to you in private. I’m going to go outside too.” Peter said to Amelia. We sat at the table
“How bad is it?” I asked
“Let’s just say I struggled coming up with the money to go to New York and get back.” Amelia said looking ashamed
“Sis, you’ve done what you can and it sucks that Peter lost his job. You stayed home and raised your family, not many people would do that.” I said
“Thanks Jack, it’s just tough and we don’t like to talk about it.” She said
“I get it Amelia, you guys are proud. Just let Tracy and I help in any way we can.” I said
“Promise you won’t say anything to the boys” she said
“I promise.” I said
“We almost lost the house and are very close to foreclosure and the boys school is going to come up really short.” She said
“Not to worry, get me all the information on catching things up and what’s needed for school. Tracy and I started a trust a few years ago and we give out scholarships to those in need and we’d be happy to help.” I said
“Thank you so much Jack” Amelia said wiping tears
“Anything for family” I said and placed my hand on hers.
“I think we should get out there and see what’s going on.”
“We should and then maybe you and I can go to the store and cook out for dinner?”
“Sounds like a good plan Jack”
Back in New York in TJ’s room at Kat’s
I started to feel dizzy and wasn’t sure if it was from Damian or Tristan as sometimes I got lightheaded. I knew Kat was out with Alex again and no one was home.
The last thing I thought about before blacking out was