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    Headstall
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Exes and Ohs - 4. Chapter 4 Repercussions

Echoes from the past....

Exes and Ohs

 

 

“Where is everyone, Mom?”

“Oh, ah, Callie is glued to Rachel’s side of course. She called at seven this morning to say hi, but told me not to wake you, and that she’d see you at the wedding. Apparently, Rachel is a nervous wreck.”

“I’d expect nothing less from her. What about Dad?”

“Oh, you know your father… he’s playing a round of golf this morning, and after that he’s delivering the wedding gift from all of us to Aunt Charlene’s house. This afternoon he’s going to pick me up at Aunt Nadine’s and drive us to the wedding—I’m leaving my car there—he says he’ll see you then. Do you want him to pick you up too?”

Drake sent a questioning look to Jimmy, and received a shrug as an answer. “Maybe we’ll cab it to the wedding, and then we can hitch a ride with you guys to the reception.”

“And we can bring you home because you know your dad won’t drink, other than a toast.”

“Okay, that’s settled. Four o’clock at the church.”

“You should arrive earlier, dear, to get seated.”

Drake leaned on the island as he watched his mother cooking their breakfast. Jimmy was looking out to the pool. “Don’t worry, we’ll get there in plenty of time. So… what about Preston and Cathy… and the kids?”

“They left early this morning,” she said softly. “They took the children home to get ready there. Cathy said Laura was cranky, and fussing all night, so she wants them to get naps in.”

Drake sighed, and his mother turned to face him.

“It’s not your fault, so don’t go blaming yourself. Preston has to start taking responsibility for his behavior.”

“He hates me, Mom.” He flashed back to younger days, as a teenager, saying the exact same thing to her; she’d made light of it at the time.

Jimmy appeared at his side as soon as the words had left his mouth, but said nothing.

“No, dear, he doesn’t. He hates me.”

“You? No. He’s just pissed he didn’t get his way. I should tell you we had it out again last night, after you went to bed.”

“I know… I heard the whole thing.”

Jimmy laid his hand over Drake’s, and spoke. “How could you have, Dot? We were here in the kitchen?”

“If you go around that corner”—she indicated the corner leading to the formal dining room—“you’ll see the stairway to my room on the right. I had my door open.

“Oh. Well… sorry… I kind of lost my cool,” Jimmy said.

“No you didn’t. What I heard was a man standing up for his partner and his relationship, so don’t you apologize for anything. Besides, I think it carried some weight with Preston.”

“I highly doubt that, Mom,” Drake said, shaking his head at the same time.

“Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but Preston was quite subdued this morning. I expected him to complain after what I heard last night, but he never said a word, and that’s unusual for him.” She smiled, but there was no happiness behind it.

“Why did you say he hates you? Did you have your conversation with him?”

“Yes, I did, before you guys came downstairs last night.” Dot turned back to the stove, turning off the gas burners under the home fries and the pan of sizzling onions, peppers, and ham. When she turned back, she appeared distraught.

“What’s wrong?” Drake asked.

“I need to sit.” She walked over to the breakfast alcove, and Drake, with Jimmy right on his heels, followed her.

“Can I get something for you, Dot? Water? You don’t look so good.”

“No, I’m fine, dear, thank you. Drake, I need to tell you something. It’s something I should have told you a long time ago. Sit, please.”

“Okay.”

“I’m the reason Preston acts the way he does. I see it now.”

“What are you—”

“Please let me talk. This is difficult, but you deserve to know the whole story.”

Drake didn’t care for the tremble in her voice. “I’m listening.”

“Normally, I would say this is a family matter, but I’ve seen how supportive Dean is to you, and how close you are, so I don’t mind him hearing my confession.”

Confession? What the hell was going on? He fought the urge to react, staying quiet as his mother fidgeted with her rings.

“Do you remember when all the trouble started with your dad and me?”

“His indiscretion?”

“Yes, well, that’s when things came to a head, and we were fighting a lot back then—”

“I remember.”

“Of course you do.” She looked sheepish as she took a deep breath.

“One of those times, your father brought up some ancient history and threw it in my face.”

“What ancient history?”

“Please don’t think ill of me.” She twisted her rings a few more times before meeting Drake’s gaze once more. “I had a moment of indecision, when your father and I were engaged. We had a particularly stormy fight—I don’t even remember what it was about now—and that resulted in my own indiscretion. I’ll spare you, and myself, the details, but Preston was the result of my mistake.”

“Jesus, Mom! Are you saying Dad isn’t his father?”

“No, he’s not, and Preston overheard our fight that day, but we didn’t know it at the time.”

“Wow.” Drake felt his hand being taken by Jimmy, and was thankful for it. “Hell of a way to find out. He didn’t say anything?”

His mother shook her head. “Not until after I got back at your father in the worst way, a few months later. He hurt me, so I wanted to hurt him… but you know all that.” Her head hung down again for a few seconds, and after a deep breath, she continued.

“Preston was furious after that happened, and that’s when we found out he knew. He said it was the second time I’d cheated, and he called me some names I deserved—two wrongs do not make a right—I see that so clearly now, but it was harsh to have your own son say such things.”

“When was this?” Drake was having trouble sitting in his chair, and if not for Jimmy’s hold on him, he might have paced.

“We were arguing in our bedroom at the old house, and we thought we were alone, but your brother burst in and went off the rails. It was traumatic for all of us. Your father and I have felt guilty ever since.”

“No, I mean when did he find out? How old was he?”

“Oh… ah… near the end of his final year of high school, so eighteen… almost nineteen, I guess?”

“Okay, yeah… that would be about right. I came out that summer, when I was sixteen and a half. You and Dad were barely speaking at the time, and everything was falling apart.”

His mother nodded, wiping at tears. “I’m sorry, Drake. We thought we were doing the right thing by keeping it between us, but now I see the damage that decision has caused.”

“Wait a minute. I get that would be tough for Preston to hear, but I’m having trouble seeing how it made him a homophobic bigot. I didn’t do a damn thing to him.”

“No, you didn’t, but I did, and I think he took his anger out on you.”

“That doesn’t make sense, Mom.”

“Yes, I think it does—he was so angry with me, and said such awful things, that your father ended up slapping him.”

Hearing this shocked him, almost as much as his mother’s disclosure, and he wondered what Preston had said that’d made his father angry enough to use violence. “And you really think he’s transferred that anger to me?”

“I do. You know, he’s not that nice to Callie either, not really, and I can only conclude he resents you both.”

“Because we’re Dad’s biological kids and he’s not?”

She nodded again. “I thought about it for hours last night, after I heard your exchange. I finally heard the bitterness in his tone when he talks to you… and those awful things he said. It explains so much. I thought it was a good thing when he turned to the church back then, but now I wonder if it really was. Your father and I buried our heads in the sand rather than deal with what was happening to our family. Last night showed me we have to stop catering to Preston for his own good… for the good of all of us.”

“Good luck with that,” Drake said with acidic sarcasm.

“Please don’t be angry with me.”

“I’m not. I just don’t have much faith it will ever be different.”

“You’re not disgusted at the things I’ve done?”

Drake sighed. He knew the situation would hit him later, but for now, he couldn’t stand the pain he saw on his mother’s face. “You had your reasons, and another time we can talk about them… if you want. I’m not going to sit in judgement of you. I get keeping this to yourselves—it was a mistake—but that’s easy to say in hindsight. Did Dad know before you got married?”

“Oh, heavens, yes. He knew everything. It was his decision to go ahead with the marriage. I wasn’t so sure, but he has always been a great dad to your brother.”

“What about Preston’s biological father?”

“He was killed by a drunk driver. I wasn’t even aware I was pregnant when he died.”

“Were you… was he special to you?”

“I don’t know, Drake. He might have been… I had some feelings for him.” Her faraway look gave him pause, before blue eyes that matched his own snapped back into focus. “I loved your father very much, Drake.”

“I know you did. Ah, is Preston aware of all this?”

“Yes, but he’s never asked his father’s name.”

Drake shared a look with Jimmy. He found that strange. Was his mother right? Was this the driving force behind Preston’s animosity? It was all too mind-boggling to sort out.

“Drake?” His mother’s expression had changed. He’d seen it before, many times. She had gathered herself; she was nothing if not resilient. “I told you this in hopes it would help you understand why Preston is the way he is. Was I right to drop such a thing on you this way?”

“Absolutely. Just don’t have expectations Preston and I will be friends. It doesn’t really matter what his motivation is. He’ll never change.”

“He might. I have to try… I have to try to repair my family.”

“Fair enough. Just, no more excuses for him, please.”

“I promise you there won’t be.”

“Thank you. So, is this just between us?”

“Oh dear—I haven’t got that far yet, I’m afraid. I wasn’t even certain I was going to tell you, until I did, and I suppose I should talk to your father. He may not like what I’ve done.”

“Maybe not, but you did the right thing, and this will stay between us until you say different.”

“Thank you.”

“Why don’t I finish up those omelets, Dot? You look a little done in.”

“Oh, but I wanted to cook you breakfast,” she said, looking somewhat flustered, but Drake saw Jimmy was right about this having taken a lot out of her. She’d already admitted she hadn’t slept much.

“You did all the prep, Mom. Go rest up, and we’ll feed ourselves.”

“No,” she said with determination. “I’m going to cook my boys their breakfast, but thank you, Dean, for the offer. You’re a very sweet man. The bond I see between you and my son gives me great joy. It’s about time I met the man in his life.” She got up, kissed them both on the cheek, and went back to the stove.

Jimmy raised his eyebrows at Drake and then smirked. “I am a sweet man, aren’t I?”

“Yeah, I’ll give you that. You’re definitely sweet.”

Drake’s mother laughed at the exchange as she busied herself, breaking eggs into a bowl.

“Are you okay?” Jimmy asked quietly.

Drake nodded, and tried to look convincing. He really wasn’t sure how he felt, about what he learned, or how he’d been kept in the dark. It dawned on him he’d been wrong. It wasn’t that his parents hadn’t cared about him; it was more they tried to compensate for what they’d done to Preston. He had to give the thought more consideration, but it could wait. “I’m starving.”

 

Drake was already in the pool when Jimmy walked out of the house. His mouth immediately went dry at the sight of the man, in a bathing suit of his that was tighter than he thought it would be, standing in sunlight as he stretched. It was a struggle to look away as blood rushed from his brain to his dick, but he managed, sinking beneath the water and turning toward the deep end. Physical exertion was what he needed, and he began to swim in earnest.

He was soon joined by Jimmy at his side, matching him stroke for stroke. Swimming was most often a solitary endeavor for him, but he enjoyed the soundless company. He didn’t bother keeping count of the number of lengths in the seventy foot pool, but when he finally slowed, his muscles were appreciative.

“Ah, that felt great!” Jimmy enthused as they both held onto the ledge at the deep end.

“It was a good workout,” Drake said, breathing heavily. “It’s been a while since I swam.”

“Me too. You have a good stroke.”

“Thanks. So do you.”

“I swam a lot in college.”

“High school for me. Until I came out.”

“Problems?”

Drake wiped his face of moisture and met the curious gaze. They were so close, their arms were touching. “Not really. I guess I had some hang-ups, and didn’t want anyone thinking I was perving on them in the showers or the change room. It was a tough time, and I lost some friends, but no one was really mean to me, other than Preston. I spent a lot of time keeping my head down, until Richard and I got together, near the end of senior year.”

“It’s tough to figure it all out, isn’t it? I finally reached a point where I didn’t give a crap what anyone thought.”

“Yeah, but you were never in the same boat as me.”

“What does that mean?”

“I just meant you weren’t ever officially gay, were you? Being bi isn’t the same thing.” Oh, damn, did that sound bitter? He had to look away from Jimmy.

“Of course I was officially gay. I came out in my senior year.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Because I was.”

“But you admitted to me you were bisexual the night I….”

“Freaked out? No, I didn’t say that, you did. I told you I’d been dating Victoria, because I was, before you agreed to go out with me, and yes, I did care about her, but it was you who insisted I had to be—”

“And no matter what you call it, and no matter how many times you say you’re not, that’s the definition of bi to me, and it wasn’t just one woman you’ve ever dated, was it? Look, I’m not judging you, you know that, but it was a big punch in the face, and way too familiar.”

“I know.” A look of defeat flashed briefly in those pained green eyes.

Drake sighed. “Can we not go through this again? It gets us nowhere.”

“Because you won’t even try to understand. Drake—”

“And you won’t understand how hard this is for me… I’m messed up, and it’s not about you or—”

“I do understand—”

He didn’t hear the rest. Dropping beneath the surface, he headed for the shallow end. When he got there, Jimmy was right with him.

“Okay, fine, but I just want to say one thing. I’m sorry for how it affected you. I get it now. I have for a while, and there’s a lot of stuff I want to say if… if you would ever stop long enough to listen.”

“Jimmy, please. I just found out Preston is my half-brother, and my mother had an affair when she was engaged, and that her and my dad have been lying to us our entire lives. To top it all off, I’ve been guilty of lying to them with this charade we been carrying on. I’m sorry—”

“No, I’m sorry. I keep trying to break through your walls, and I should know better.”

Drake felt the frustrated sting in those words, and it made him feel terrible. He couldn’t deny he had walls.

“And I don’t see it as lying to your family at all. Your mom knows my full name, Preston knows we work together, that I am not an accountant, and as I said before, we used to date, so don’t compare that to a lifelong lie.”

“But we’re not a couple.”

“No, we’re not, but that’s your choice. Don’t freak out… I’m just saying. I don’t see my displaying how I care for you as a lie. And it doesn’t feel that way coming from you. Your own mother sees something between us, because there is. I know you got badly hurt by Richard, but I’m not him, and the fact you refuse to see me other than in his light obviously hasn’t changed. It’s not fair... sorry... that's wrong. You can't help how you feel.”

His last words were soft, and Drake heard the pain in them. He moved back, away from Jimmy, and from an onslaught of emotions. Sitting on the concrete step just below the surface of the warm water, he took a deep breath and slumped forward.

He was exasperated by this confusing internal battle over Jimmy, the one he was ready to admit, to himself anyway, had kept him from committing to Dean. He forced himself to look at the now silent man. “What do you want from me?”

Jimmy took a step closer. “You’re actually asking me? For real? You really want me to say it out loud?”

“Yes.”

“Okay… I probably shouldn’t, but I’m not turning down this opportunity.” He squatted down in the water so his head was below Drake’s, just clearing the surface. “I want you to stop running away from me, and acknowledge we have something. Yes, I know it it’s a slim one, but I want you to give us another chance. I want you to stop seeing Richard when you look at me.”

Drake struggled to process as he took in the sincerity displayed on that face. “I don’t think I… what if I can’t do that?”

“Then you can’t, but at least we’ll know we had the conversation, or conversations, and that we finally dealt with something long overdue. I’ve made no secret how I feel about you, whether you trust in it or not. Tell me you don’t have feelings for me.”

“I… I can’t. I do have some, but—”

“No buts, please, not now. I understand the timing isn’t great.” Jimmy was now standing, and he’d moved closer still, a determined look on his face. It faded into something else, hopeful maybe, and a smile played at the corners of his mouth before disappearing. “That’s enough for now. It’s out there, and if it gives us any chance at all… it’s more than I hoped for. Okay?”

“Okay,” Drake answered with uncertainty. He was tired of disappointing Jimmy, but he wasn’t sure what he’d just agreed to. He wasn’t even sure what had just happened. Yes, he had strong feelings for the man, very strong, but he wasn’t going to risk his heart on another bisexual man… he just couldn’t. He was back to thinking this weekend might prove to be a colossal mistake.

“Hey, don’t fret over this, Drake. You didn’t just make a commitment, and admitting you have some feelings for me doesn’t mean anything more than that.”

“Doesn’t it, though? Isn’t that sending you a message I’m not sure I want to send.”

“Look, it isn’t anything I didn’t already know… or at least suspect. I’m not blind, Drake… I see how you look at me sometimes. I do get what holds you back, but after being able to hold you last night, there’s no way I’m going anywhere until we’ve hashed this out, if you’re willing.”

“I don’t know that I am, Jimmy.”

“Fair enough. I understand… just think about it. I might be wrong, but it feels like we’re at a different place than we were, and I’ve waited this long… I can do it a little longer.”

“You’ve been waiting?”

“I’ve never given up hope… okay, I did, but I never stopped wishing. I fell hard for you, Drake, and I haven’t been interested in anyone else since you ended us.”

Drake couldn’t help feeling the weight of those words, and it must have showed.

“Hey, that’s not on you.”

He was still trying to absorb this new information and what it meant. “Not anyone? In all this time?”

“No. I’m not saying I haven’t had sex, but the one time it happened, it was you I really wanted… I… I never wanted to pursue anything with him because my heart wasn’t in it.”

“I didn’t know that… I thought you were just keeping your personal life private because of our history. Fuck, Jimmy, I don’t know what to say.”

“Don’t say anything. I’m sorry if I went too far. Let’s just relax and enjoy the rest of the weekend. I’m a grown man, and you don’t owe me anything. Just, please, don’t pull away from me now.”

“But—”

“No buts, remember? We’re friends. That hasn’t changed, and if that’s all we are, then that’s all we are… it’ll happen for me someday, and I’ll move on when it feels right. So, when do you want to start getting ready?”

“Oh, ah… we have lots of time. I’d like to lay in the sun for a while.” Damn, he’s been waiting.

“Do you want to be by yourself?”

Did he? “No.”

“All right. I hope you don’t think I pushed, because I had no intentions—”

“I know. Don’t worry about it. I brought it up, not you.” Drake had challenged the man over his bisexuality, knowing full well it was a sore spot between them.

Jimmy took one of the loungers, splaying out on it in a way Drake found provocative. He quickly laid on the one next to the man and covered his eyes with his arm. The heat of the sun served to lull him somewhat, but the awkwardness of the silence between them remained.

His heartrate spiked for a second when Jimmy spoke again. “Drake?”

“Yeah?”

“You know those texts you showed me at the office?”

“Yeah.”

“They were kind of weird, don’t you think?”

“Not for Preston.” Drake waited, eyes still covered, but there was only more silence for the next minute.

“You know how your mom thinks Preston is angry at her, or hates her, as she put it, and that he takes it out on you?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you think he called her a slut the day your dad slapped him? I’m not saying she is at all. I just wonder if—”

“He’s transferring that to me?”

“Yeah, I think your mom could be right about him resenting you and Callie. I can’t believe I’m saying this, and I’m not making excuses for the guy, but I can see finding out the way he did likely fucked with his head. I mean, he didn’t even want to know his bio dad’s name?”

“I don’t know how someone can transfer that to me, and all gay people, but I see your point. My parents aren’t bigoted, and his attitude has to come from somewhere. I thought not wanting to know his father’s name was really strange too.”

“Oldest son, maybe expecting to take over his dad’s business one day, and he finds out he’s not who he thought he was? It doesn’t change the fact he’s an asshat and a mental midget, but at least you have a clue as to why he is.”

“I suppose.”

“Your mom says that.”

“What?”

“Dot… she says I suppose when she’s thinking. You both do.”

“I suppose we do.” He still kept his eyes hidden, but he smiled. How did Jimmy do that? He’s just been on a ledge, feeling dizzy, and the man had talked him down. There’s was no denying there was something between them, something good and comfortable, but could it ever be enough to overcome his fears?

 

 

*

Thanks to my amazing editor and friend, Timothy M., and thank you to all those who read and support my work. Please leave me a comment if you can, and let me know what you thought of this chapter and the story so far. Cheers! Gary.

Copyright © 2018 Headstall; All Rights Reserved.
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2 hours ago, Wesley8890 said:

Richard is an asshat! How could he do that to someone like Drake!

 

1 hour ago, tinytoes said:

Well, now I gotta meet Richard! 

 

1 hour ago, spikey582 said:

I can only imagine what Drake went through with Richard.  Obviously his heart was broken.  But making a gross generalization based on that one experience, and expecting everyone to be like Richard is so wrong. 

I have to echo everyone else here!!!  Can't wait to see if Richard is a Dick or if something else was in play.  Wondering if Dick was sleeping with a woman while still in a relationship with Drake or did it happen after they had broken up. 

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I really like this story and Drake and Jimmy/Dean grow on me. Looking forward to the next chapter!!

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