We rode up in the elevator in silence but JC grasped my hand as soon as the door closed. When we got to my room we sat on the couch and looked at him and could tell how hurt he was
“With all the lies and deception around me, I had to leave. Julian outed you by cloning my phone and posting those private pictures of us. I ruined your tour and I got Jake and Josh killed.” I said
“You had no way to know your Uncle Julian was deranged and was trying to get what your father had.” JC said
“What do you mean? I thought he was being forced?”
“It was discovered later that it was all him and once he found out what he wasn’t included on he went ballistic. When he found out somehow what really happened overseas he used it to his advantage.”
“What an asshole. I also can’t stand everyone keeping secrets from me. Mom refused to tell me about Jake and Josh but SHE KNEW.” I needed to check myself. I can’t take my anger at her out on JC
“Yes she did know a lot and so did Brayden. When you left your Uncle Bob and CC really went off on your mom and Brayden, Pop said he had never seen Bob so angry.”
“Yeah CC told me what Uncle Bob did. I wish I could have seen him before he died.”
“Pop said that Bob was worried you’d commit suicide but after CC found something out Bob seemed to relax. I constantly hounded Pop and Dad both about finding you. The only secret I have is that Seymour tried to kiss me. I told him off that no matter what I was waiting for you to return and I knew it would happen eventually. I missed you so much that I wrote it into music. I was constantly asked who broke my heart and who I was looking for but I never said it was you.”
“I came to several concerts you had and always watched you perform. You’ve built yourself such a career and I don’t want to ruin it for you. I worked basically as a stripper and now am a bartender in the very same place.”
“I can tell how much you’ve grown up and I don’t care, I love you TJ.” It brought tears to my eyes hearing him say that.
“I love you too J” I said and kissed him. We continued to talk and moved to the bed to lay down. J fell asleep first and I watched him sleep and I set an alarm on my phone so I could meet my brothers. When it went off I found J staring at me.
“So this was real right?” He asked concerned
“Yes I am here but not sure for how long. I’ve got a life in San Francisco.” I replied
“San Francisco? Oh now it makes sense. Uncle Bob always told me I left my heart in San Francisco but I never knew what he meant.” J said. Wow Uncle Bob was a hopeless romantic.
“You can stay here while I meet with the bros or you’re free to go home.” I said
“I’ll go home and freshen up. Why don’t you join me at the apartment and we can do lunch?” J asked
“Sounds good.” I replied and gave him a kiss; he still turned me on like no other. We rode the elevator down and no one had recognized him. We parted ways and I found Beau and Grayson standing in the lobby; my brothers are so very handsome.
“Hey guys lets go eat, I am famished.” I said and led them to the restaurant. We were seated and ordered the food.
“I am sorry I left you both high and dry.”I said sadly and looked down
“We were a wreck when you left and worried that Julian would find you and kill you.” Grayson said.
“When Uncle Brayden told everyone how you had left him in Virginia, shit hit the fan. Mom was so angry with him but not as angry as JC was; he really let Brayden have it. He and Kat were also separated for almost a year too. She read him and mom the riot act on how they treated you.” Beau said
“Wow I had no idea. I just knew I needed to get away and figure things out. I’ve been following you both the best I could online without giving myself away. Congratulations Beau on being the top of your class at MIT and you Grayson for doing so well in high school and in your pre-law classes, I am so happy for you both.” I said
“We had a good support system between Lucas, Trace and JC. They really helped us through it all” Beau said
“I heard Uncle Bob helped too.” I replied
“He did help us a lot but, he probably was the most upset that you were gone. He and CC made a lot of changes on how the company works. I’ve actually been doing a lot of work for BHO now as a mathematician and statistician.I look at the probably and calculate risk factors and I was surprised at how much a fun job it’s been” Beau said. Our food arrived and we started eating.
“Guys I’ve been torn on staying or going back to my life on the west coast.” I said
“Teej I would love you to stay here but that is me being selfish. You need to do what makes you happy.” Grayson said
“We love you and will support you either way, as long as you remain in contact and come to my wedding.” Beau said
When we finished eating I went back upstairs and the boys left. I had a while before I had to leave to meet J for lunch. I pulled up my computer and did some searching. I found that Dr. Kev had left Ohio and moved to San Diego with Jeff and they had their own private practice. Dr. Kev runs a youth support group out of the local LGBTQ Center in the city. I found pictures of their volunteer work with the kids and was caught off guard by one of the photo from 2 years ago: “Tristan Campbell is hard at work helping weed the garden here at the LGBTQ Center. While he is only 4 years old he is a huge help to our organization.” I had wondered what Dr. Kev thought about me disappearing and found it funny we were both in California. I am glad that Julian taking them hostage didn’t stop them from doing what they loved, helping people.
I left the hotel and headed over to J’s apartment. When I arrived I was buzzed right up and took the elevator to the 90th floor. When he opened the door I was greet by his huge smile and the smell of food. He invited me in and offered me a drink and was quite the host. He made some baked chicken and asparagus. We sat, ate and talked about mundane things.
“I am trying to decide what I am going to do. Stay here or go back” I said
“As long as you keep in touch with me, do what you feel is right.” J said.
“I am soo torn but I think I need to talk to my mother before I actually decide what to do.”
“That sounds like a plan, just stay calm and cool.”
“I don’t know how to contact her.”
“Why don’t you go out to dinner with her and then come back here or I can come to you and you can decompress?”
“That sounds like a plan.” He reached out to her set-up dinner and I went back to the hotel. I reached out to CC and asked if we could meet tomorrow, so I could see the place Uncle Bob left me. I met mom at the Club A Steakhouse; I saw here sitting in the lobby when I arrived. We were seated fairly quickly:
“So how are you honey?” Mom asked
“Are you really avoiding the elephant in the room?” I challenged but kept my voice down
“What do you mean TJ? I am trying to reconnect with my son.”
“Mom you understand you are part of the reason I left. You kept so many secrets from me. You seem to think this was all for show.”
“TJ you acted out a whole lot and I never expected to you to disappear like you did. You also took 2 million dollars and caused Kat and Brayden to fight and separate.” Mom said
“You know what, I can see you haven’t changed and making this out to be entirely my fault. I am done talking to you.” I stood up and walked out. I texted J to come to the hotel and meet me at my room, I arrived a few minutes before he did. When he came in I told him what happened with mom.
“TJ, you tried and just give it time and maybe you can reconnect later.”
“She needs to stop making everything my fault.”
“True but you did run away, so you were partially at fault. Let’s talk about something else, when are you leaving?”
“Tomorrow, my trip was open ended but I want to get back home.” J looked like I just killed his puppy
“Maybe you can come visit me soon and see what I made for myself.” He just nodded.
“Stay here tonight and we can talk tomorrow. I need to let CC know to postpone me seeing the place Bob left me.” I sent the text and striped down and crawled into bed. JC left his clothes on and lay beside me.
“Go ahead and get comfortable. I promise I won’t try anything.” I said and he stripped down too. I cuddled against him and heard him sigh.
“I love you J” I said and kissed him and we fell asleep. When I woke got ready to leave and cleaned myself up and packed. J was still snoring and I was engrossed in watching him sleep; he is so beautiful. I checked my email and saw a response to an email I sent the day before; I replied I’d be there tonight. I booked my ticket for San Diego. When J woke we went and had breakfast and then to his place so he could change. He went with me to the airport. Once I checked in, I slowly walked to security with JC and then we stopped.
“Promise in one week you’ll come to San Francisco and visit?” I said
“Yes I will.”
“I need to warn you, everyone there knows me as Jack Kraft.”
“Really, what an interesting name choice:” he said and smiled
“I chose my name after the love of my life. I need to go to the boarding area but I will call you tomorrow, as I get in real late tonight.”
“Text me when you land.” J said and then kissed me long and deep.
I walked through security and waited to board my flight. I thought about what CC, my brothers and JC said. I needed to do some serious soul searching. Between my mom and Brayden I’m not sure I can take it anymore.
When I boarded the plane it wasn’t packed so the flight was comfortable. When we landed in San Diego I was surprised to find Kevin waiting for me at the luggage carousel.
“TJ!” He shouted and came over and gave me a bear hug.
“Hey Doctor Kev” I replied and returned the hug
“I’d thought I’d never hear from you again. I was so scared when you went missing.” He said
“I had to do it, things were just so not going well and I felt bottled up.”
“TJ, what you went through I can only imagine how you feel. If you need to talk on a professional level, I’d be happy to listen but I’d like you just to come and relax at my place and not a hotel, we have room for you.”
“I don’t want to put you out.” I replied
“Non-sense, you are family.” We walked to the car and I sent J a text
T -Landed in San Diego safely. Visiting with Kev before heading home. Luv ya
J: Glad you got in safely. I’ve been waiting for your message since you left. ❤️ more.
I smiled and looked at Kev. He had aged gracefully and didn’t wear clothes that looked painted on anymore. We arrived at a modest suburban home:
“Just so you know, we do have twin new born sons so Jeff and I alternate taking care of them. Don’t be surprised if you hear us up.”
“Oh you have kids?” I said feigning surprise.
“Yes, three boys Tristan, Jacob and Joshua” Kev said and smiled and I started to cry
“Hey we will talk in the morning. Get some sleep.” He showed me to my room and where the shower was. I was mentally drained and ready to sleep.
When I woke in the morning there was another set of eyes staring at me really close and I jumped and the boy laughed
“Hi… I am Tristan. Who are you?” He asked before I could respond I heard Jeff
“Tristan I told you not to bother our guest” Jeff said from the hallway
“But daddy when you say that you know it means I hafta.” That made me giggle and the boy smiled at me.
“Well my name is Tristan too” I said to him
“Really your name is Tristan 2?” he asked excitedly. I laughed
“Most people call me TJ” I said
“Why don’t they call you T2?” Boy I love this kid. At that moment Kevin came in and told Tristan to let me wake up and get dressed.
“Jeff and I are going to make breakfast so get dressed and come on downstairs” Kevin said
“Daddy making breakfest? I cans help” Tristan shouted as he jumped off the bed and ran out of the room. I sat there smiling and Kevin was laughing as he walked out of the room.
I got showered and dressed and went downstairs. Jeff and Tristan were hard at work making pancakes. I don’t think there was any part of Tristan not covered in batter.
I sat at the table and watched Kevin feeding the twins and offered to help.
“You’re a guest here, no need to help. Sit back and relax.”
After we ate Kevin gave Tristan a quick bath and then we went and sat out on the patio while Tristan splashed in his pool.
“So I understand you saw your mother.” Kevin said
“Yeah it wasn’t pretty either.” I remarked
“Did you say your mommy was ugly?” Tristan asked. Kevin and I laughed
“No little man, what I mean was it didn’t go well”
“Well daddy will help. He does good job helpin people.”
“thanks little man.” Tristan went about his business and I looked at Kevin
“He’s almost five and pretty bright for his age. So as you were saying, things didn’t go as you planned?”
“I wasn’t expecting her to welcome me with open arms but she blamed me for everything. “
“I see and I understand why you got angry. When everything went down and Jeff and I were rescued; your well-being was of utter importance to me. I knew you wouldn’t take it well but no one was listening to what I had to say. When you disappeared I had a long talk with your Uncle Bob and Aunt CC. They were so worried about you and we talked about what lead up to the disappearance. I do have to say that I can tell you altered your appearance but it’s subtle, I do like how buff and ripped you got too.” Kev said
“I needed too if I wanted to be a stripper. Are you sure he should be out here?” I asked pointing to Tristan.
“He rarely listens to conversations when he’s occupied. If he does he’ll ask me later about stuff. I am just glad you didn’t trick yourself out.”
“I had so many offers but I declined. I made decent money stripping and got a decent place to live.”
“TJ, I am not telling you to move back to New York but do me a favor and keep the lines of communication open. You never know when something might happen.” We stopped talking and I watched Tristan play in the pool. Later when the kids were down for a nap we adults went out to the patio for drinks
“So why did you name the kids as you did?” I asked
“Well Tristan was after a patient I adored and had a rough life. When he went missing I took it very personal. We tried to come up with an alternate name but he reminded me of you and as he’s growing up he reminds me so much of you it’s scary.” Kevin said
“What he means is he loves people unconditionally and expects nothing in return. When you anger him though better watch out.” Jeff said and laughed
“Naming the twins we wanted to honor your friends who lost their lives. I actually went to their funeral and talked with their parents extensively and offered condolences. I learned so much about them and just naming these two after them felt so right.” Kevin said
“I hope you don’t mind that we did this” Jeff said
“Not at all, I am honored you named your first boy after me and the twins after two of most loving and caring boys I knew.” I said and started to tear up.
“As such, it would be an honor if you would be their godfather.” Jeff said
“Me? I am sure there are more capable people out there.” I replied
“No one we know that made something for themselves and overcame obstacles like you did” Kevin said.
“I’d be honored” I said with tears in my eyes. We went to bed and I was jolted awake by my phone. Beau was calling me
“Hey bro, what’s wrong?”
“TJ, you need to get here quick; Mom’s in the hospital.”