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    Bndmetl
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Misunderstandings - McGees Boys Book 1 - 5. Chapter 5

Chapter Five – Cole

 

It’s been a few days since we lost Mrs. Montgomery, the family unit is still a mess and the rest of us are trying our best to ensure they have everything they need. The only person I have lost is my grandma and that nearly killed me. I can’t even imagine what the Montgomery’s are going through. The bell tinkled above the shop door bringing me out of my morose throughts. Micah looked over his shoulder to see if it was a customer. It was Kelly who looked plain worn out. He waved to Micah as he made his way to me.

“Wow, Cole, that is amazing. Preston and his family are going to love it.” He told me while inspecting the casket cover I’ve been working on for Mrs. Montgomery’s – Rush and Preston’s mom’s – funeral. “It’s so her. You are one talented guy.”

I could feel the heat of a blush forming. It’s not like I don’t get praise for mine and Micah’s work all the time; I do. But coming from Kelly who doesn’t really impress easily made it something more, plus I know how he feels about Preston. So if he didn’t like it, I’m sure he would have told me or said nothing at all.

“Thanks. How is everyone doing?” I glanced at my friend.

He scrubbed his face with his hands and blew out a breath harshly. “A freakin’ mess, Cole. There’s no other way to describe it.” He shook his head. “Mr. Montgomery is a zombie. Pres has turned into a god damn emotionless robot, and I keep finding Rush in the oddest places around the house sobbing his heart out. It’s killing me, I feel so helpless.”

“Really?” My eyes snapping up to meet Kelly’s.

“You’ve no idea, it’s horrible. Tommy and I are handling them the best we can. Raj is trying to keep Rush together. Poor Damon is organizing the funeral without much input from the family, he’s ripping his hair out. At least he’s feeling better and not still coughing up a lung. So that’s something.” Kelly’s whole posture slumped in resignation when he finished speaking. “I’m at a loss as what to do, honestly.”

I put the filler in my hand on the workbench and circled around it to Kelly pulling him into a hug. His arms dangled to his side, and his body tensed.

“What are you doing?” He asked, stiffly.

“You need a hug,” I said simply.

That seemed to be the right answer because he said, “Oh.” Then his arms came around me, tightening almost to the point I couldn’t breathe. We stayed like that for a long moment. When he loosened his grip pulling away, he said. “Thank you. I really did need a hug.”

“Anytime. I’m always here for you, whatever you need.”

“Thanks, Cole. I better hit the road. I just came by to give you this check for the…” he gestured to casket cover, “flower thingy. I have to drop some clothes by the funeral home, then it’s off to the airport to pick up Preston’s aunt and uncle. They decided to come out at the last damn minute.” He held out an envelope with the check-in it. I pushed it back at him.

“Rip it up Kel, I’m not taking money from the family. But, if I can help at all, please let me. Micah’s got everything handled here.” I gestured my hand around the shop.

Kelly started to leave before circling back rounding on me with an intense look. “There is something you can do, Cole. Tell that man how you feel about him.”

I tilted my head in confusion, which guy is he talking about?

“Don’t do that, Cole, you know who I’m talking about. Tell him or let him go. Life’s too short, but long with regret.” With that said, Kelly took off. It’s probably the single most serious and personal thing he’s ever said to me. And definitely something to finally give in to, or as he said ‘let him go.’

I know he’s referring to Damon, the man who consumes my every thought. I’d been too scared to say anything when we were in high school. I didn’t want to lose him. I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it. Then when he was in the Marines, there was no point, I was scared of losing him altogether while he was away. Since he came back, I’ve been… a coward, that’s what I’ve been. A god damn coward. We’re adults I have no doubt we could find a way to stay friends if he rejected the idea of us. I mean, he’s so sweet he’d say he was flattered but not interested then do everything in his power to make sure I was okay and that we were still good.

 

<<<<>>>>

 

This week has been such a blur, I’m not even sure how we got to here. I still haven’t said anything to Damon about us. He was getting over his cold and organizing the funeral. I think that’s enough on one's plate for the time being. All our time has been taken up caring for our two friends, as it should be. Maybe it’s cowardly that I still haven’t said anything, but it really seems selfish fixing my love life while Rush and Preston mourn the loss of their mother.

Exiting the town cars at the cemetery into a beautiful sunny day is weird. The trees are green, sky blue without a cloud in it, and the birds singing a tune of their own making. The kind of day under normal circumstances I’d invite all my friends over for an impromptu cookout. Just so we can all relax, have a few drinks and some laughs. On a sad day like this it almost seems cruel. The skies should be thundering, windy, and angry. Something to say the universe is unhappy with its loss like we are.

Tommy organized transport so we could all come together as a group sans Rush and Preston. They were going with the family, of course. But the rest of us met at Tommy’s club earlier, we’d gone to the church, then here to the graveside service. We will go to the wake then end the day at ‘McGees,’ Tommy’s club without the fear of anyone driving.

There will be drinks and sorrowful moments, hopefully, combined with some happy memories. This day will be one of the saddest of my life, apart from Damon’s father’s funeral when we were fourteen, his mom’s when we were all in college. The man was an orphan before he hit twenty-one. I’m sad for all three of my friends. Surely this must be affecting Damon, bad memories and feelings being brought to the surface. Preston and Rush at the beginning of grieving their loss. I’m so lucky I still have both my parents. I need to appreciate that more, I need to appreciate them more.

“You okay?” Damon asked concern etched on his face, seeing that he’s about four inches taller than me he’s the perfect height. I like the fact that he towers over me slightly, it gives me warmth, comfort, and makes me feel safe when I’m with him. I also love the fact that he can tip his head slightly, and his lips connect with me somewhere. Just like they did after I answered his question.

“Sad.” I gave him a weak smile. “You?”

He didn’t answer just kissed the top of my head. Without even thinking I laced my fingers with his trying everything in my power to comfort Damon, let him know I’m also thinking of him today. He glanced at our clasped hands squeezing mine in silent acknowledgment before asking Kelly the same question.

“You okay? You ready for this?”

Kelly shoved his hands into the pockets of his dress pants. “Do we have a choice?” His answer was indifferent and terse. This week has been rough on him, the usually upbeat man looks exhausted probably not as much as he is feeling it though. Lifting his head to look at Damon quickly before switching his focus to seek out Preston. Once he spotted him, he walked determinedly in his direction leaving Damon and me along with Tommy to follow behind. Preston and his family were already sitting graveside lost in their own thoughts as the mourners gathered around them. It’s so hard to imagine the immensity of that loss. I honestly don’t know how Damon did this by himself, at least Rush, Preston, and his dad have each other.

When we approached the gathering, I noticed there weren’t as many people as there were at the church. Mainly close friends and family plus our group were at the graveside service. Mr. Montgomery, his parents, Rush, Preston, and his aunts and uncles were seated. The rest stood around them, Kelly had managed to stand right behind Preston, his hand resting on the grieving man’s shoulder. Preston held Kelly’s hand where it sat and seemed to be leaning back into the large man for support and comfort. Doll stood behind Rush to one side with Raj at the other. Damon, Tommy, and I stood with Kelly to make sure he felt supported while he focused on Preston. The act was unspoken, but our need to help in some way known.

The service went by just like the time leading up to it, quickly, most of it in a blur and forgotten a moment later. Somewhere throughout the service, I ended up snuggled into the side of Damon with his arm around my shoulder and mine around his waist. The thought hit me that I’d never felt so safe, content, or loved by anyone before. Kelly was right; I need to tell Damon how I feel about him. Obviously not today, but soon. Before I lose my chance or lose him forever. I needed to rip off the band-aid and let the chips fall where they may. And, stop with the clichés.

When the preacher finished the service and people started leaving, I noticed a familiar head of fiery red hair making his way past us, his suit probably cost more than all my clothes put together. I found myself distracted by him, he was the guy from the club that always tried to get Rush to pay attention to him.

“Give me a minute?” Damon said quietly into my ear releasing me from his hold to make sure Kelly was okay.

I nodded taking the opportunity to meet the redhead properly. Why was he here? Did he know Mrs. Montgomery? What? I proceeded in his direction, he saw me coming and walked a little faster, so I hurried after him.

“Hey, wait a second,” I said loud enough for him to hear me. The redhead slowed to a stop looking at the ground not meeting my eyes. “Ronnie, right?”

“Um… yeah, Ronnie Doyle.” his eyes snapped to mine they were big with surprise but full of caution, he followed up harried, “I promise I’m not stalking.”

“Cole Trainer,” I said, holding out my hand, he reached out shaking my extended greeting warily. “I didn’t assume you were stalking, but I am wondering why you’re here?” I asked him quizzically.

He looked at his feet shoving one hand in his pocket the other by his side while his thumb and finger rubbed together in a soothing motion. No doubt something he did when he felt uncomfortable or nervous. “I used to work with Collette, Mrs. Montgomery, I mean. At the youth shelter. She was a nice woman. I just wanted to pay my respects. I’m not here to harass Rush, I swear.”

Rush actually pushed by us in a hurry bumping my shoulder making a beeline for anywhere but here it seems. Ronnie and I watched as Rush walked with intent away from everyone. Glancing over my shoulder I saw a concerned and worried Raj and Doll before I turned my focus back to Rush.

“Is he going to be okay?” The redhead asked worriedly.

Not taking my eyes off Rush, I answered, “I have no clue, but you should go after him.”

“Me, why?” He said incredulously.

“Because you’re not a part of his friend circle. You’re neutral, he’ll need that right now. We’ve all been up in his face worried, concerned, not giving him a minute’s peace. You could actually help him.” I reached out giving Ronnie a little nudge in my friend’s direction. It couldn’t hurt, right?

“Are you sure?” His eyebrow almost reaching his hairline a blush working its way up from his neck into the man’s pale freckled face. He was definitely cute. Pint-size. Although outside the club he was different. Less confident, warier of his surroundings, cautious of the people around him. I wonder what had happened to him in the past that made him so self-conscious. Ronnie didn’t come across mouthy, arrogant, or assholish in any way. He just seemed like a nice guy, but not particularly confident.

“Yep,” I nodded encouragingly, “please help him. At least we’ll know he’s in good hands with someone who cares. You do care, right?”

He nodded his head vigorously, giving me one last wary look before heading to Rush. I moved behind a tree to watch in case my friend got angry. The least I could do was jump in and save the little guy since I sent him over there. A warmth spread across my back, Damon’s light cologne and scent entered my personal space. A small smile spread across my face. He leaned against me, putting his hand above me on the tree boxing me in.

“What have you done?” He whispered into my ear, watching over my shoulder at the scene unfolding in front of us. I held my breath as Ronnie approached a teary Rush who leaned against a tree out of the line of sight of most people. He seemed to be attempting to gather himself.

Ronnie approached him like you would a wild animal, cautiously, and ready to run. Rush straightened up, looking down at the shorter man shocked to see him. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hear what they were saying. Rush said something stepping up to the guy, I was ready to pounce, I moved but Damon put an arm across my chest. “Wait,” he whispered, so I paused, letting Damon hold me firmly in place, because I’m not stupid. Any reason to have his arms wrapped around me is reason enough.

After a few exchanged words, Ronnie stepped closer wrapping his arms around our friend's waist. Rush immediately melted, his arms snaking around the redhead's neck holding him to his chest with his cheek rest against the top of the guys head facing away from us. I let go of my breath in relief. Thank, god.

“You did good, Coletrain.”

We kept watch a little longer, and the voyeurs we are watched our friend. My eyes didn’t move from them when the courage I needed swept over me.

“Damon?”

“Yeah?”

“I want to go on a date,” I looked over my shoulder to him, “with you.” End of courage because I didn’t wait for him to answer before turning back to Rush and the redhead.

“Okay.” Was all Damon said as we stood and watched but he leaned a little heavier into my back. “Come on this is bordering on creepy.” He took my hand in his and we headed back to the town cars to go to the wake then later on to the club.

Another sad chapter out of the way. But things might be looking up for Cole and Damon. We'll see.

Stay safe folks. Thanks for reading.

Joh:hug:

Copyright © 2022 Bndmetl; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Very well written, for the few people in my life that have transitioned, so far, this very specific time of loss is good to have friends support you, close and not so close. 

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Ronnie Doyle may be just who Rush needs, and given he worked with Rush's mom Collette at the youth shelter (was Ronnie originally there because he was thrown away?), he will offer comfort and calm to Rush's angst (and probably anger at Collette dying to soon).

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