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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.

The Acquittal - 14. Chapter 13

When Kyle awoke the next day, he was annoyed to discover that he had slept through most of the morning. Muttering to himself, he grabbed a pair of shorts and pulled them on before heading out of his room and downstairs. He entered the kitchen and found his father sitting at the table, quietly drinking his coffee and reading a magazine. Kyle slid into the chair across from him and yawned. He noticed a couple dishes in the sink which lead him to believe that breakfast was already over.

“Guess I missed breakfast,” he said, chagrined by his own laziness. “Any coffee left?”

David stood up and turned towards the stove, “I can get you some breakfast in a minute. There’s still coffee in the pot,” he pointed towards the far end of the counter, “help yourself.”

“It’s ok, dad,” standing up, he started to stop the older man, “you should be relaxing. Let me do it.”

David glared at his son. “How about, just once, you all listen to me when I say I’m fine? I’m taking my medication and I am taking things slower than I normally do. I’m not planning on dying today or any day soon. But, you boys need to give me some room to breathe.” His lips tilted up in a small smirk to lessen the bite in his words. “I can, and I will, make my son some breakfast since I haven’t had the chance in a couple years and it would put me in a much better mood to do so.”

Kyle held his hands up in defeat. “Ok, ok. I’ll never try to baby you again. Promise.” He got up and went to retrieve his own coffee. As he poured he asked casually, “when did Jacob leave this morning?”

David glanced out the window nearby and said, “he’s still here. Looks like he’s just finishing packing up the truck.”

Kyle moved to look out the window, noticing Jacob with his dark hair tied in a ponytail under a ball cap as he and a young man, who may only barely be out of high school, were slowly getting a large piece of what might be a headboard wrapped in a packing blanket into the bed of his truck. “Who’s the kid with him,” he asked as he took a drink of his coffee.

“That’ll be Tyler,” he said dismissively as he started breaking eggs into a hot skillet.

“He works for Jacob?”

“Naw, he works for Troy, actually. Well, Sam, but Troy pretty much runs his dad’s construction business now.” He continued his efforts on the stove as he explained, “once in awhile when Jacob has a big job to do that needs an extra set of hands he’ll ask Troy for one of his guys who isn’t working to come help him out.”

“Oh,” Kyle was impressed as he watched the two of them talking casually together as they finished up, pushing up the tailgate and then getting into the truck. “That was nice of him to send someone to help, I guess.”

David chuckled a little to himself as he set some bread in the toaster and said, “well, with Tyler, I’m almost sure he volunteered.”

Kyle glanced over at his dad hearing his playful tone. “What makes you say that?”

“Tyler has a bit of a crush on Jacob.” He watched his son out of the corner of his eye, smirking to himself. “Actually, a pretty big crush from how Andy described it to me.”

Kyle’s face fell into a frown as his eyes narrowed, watching Jacob drive slowly down the sloped drive with the young Tyler in the passenger seat with him. “I see.”

David snickered and muttered under his breath, “yeah. Just friends.” He grabbed a plate from one of the cabinets and dumped a couple eggs and some bacon on to it. He grabbed the toast just as it came out and put the plate onto the table. “Here ya go. You want anything else?”

“No. Thanks, dad.” He moved away from the window and sat at the table to eat.

“Only thanks I need is to see my grand-baby today.” His face broke into a huge grin as he sat back down.

“You will.” He smiled and his eyes lit up slightly at the thought of seeing his son again after being away from him for four days. “Four o’clock today. Steph said she’ll be bringing him about that time. Should be just in time for everyone to be here, I think.”

“Sounds about right.” Thinking about his grandson made him smile wider. “Can’t wait to see the looks on everyone’s faces,” he chuckled merrily.

“Dad, I’ve been thinking...” he began as his eyes looked over the table at his father.

“You’re not putting me in a retirement home and that’s final.” David quipped sarcastically.

Kyle grinned. “I’ll keep that in mind. What I wanted to ask you was why did you never find someone else after Travis?”

David looked over at his son thoughtfully for a moment before he answered. “I had a son to raise and after what happened to Travis, I was concerned for my safety and yours. This isn’t exactly a place where two men can meet and date and get to know each other to the point that they’d want to share their lives together. At least, it wasn’t when I was your age. It’s not that I never met anyone, Kyle. I just didn’t meet anyone I ever wanted to bring home.”

With a shrug he said to his father, “what about now?”

David laughed. “Now, I’m nearly sixty and those days of hot sweaty sex and love and dreams is all but over for me, son. I’ll admit, I wish I could’ve found someone else. But, in the end, I’m happy with the life I got. I had an excellent son and through him I got a great big family and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel blessed. The last few years haven’t been as good as I would’ve liked but it just goes to show that nothing is perfect.”

Kyle shrugged and said casually, “well, I think you’re selling yourself short. I’m sure there’s some guy out there for you if you actually looked.”

“You know, I could turn this around on you to, you know.” David eyed him meaningfully. “If Jacob isn’t the one for you anymore, how come you’re not out there dating?”

“I have a three-year-old.” He answered simply with a smirk. “Doesn’t leave me with a lot of free time. Besides, most guys I talk to on dating apps balk at the idea of having a kid. And I have to protect him above any of my other concerns or wants.”

“So, if that’s your excuse, how come you wasted time asking me when you already knew the answer?” He gave his son a meaningful smirk. Kyle just rolled his eyes and chuckled before finishing up his plate and settling in to finish his coffee. Some time passed as both men were reading to themselves before David muttered softly. “No one could’ve taken Travis’s place in my heart anyway.”

Kyle glanced over at his dad thoughtfully before asking, “any plans for today before the big celebration?”

“Mostly napping,” he admitted. “I’d like to go around in the trees and make sure that everything’s ready for picking. You and Matthew will be here Labor Day weekend, I hope.”

He nodded. “Yeah. I think he’d get a kick out of picking apples. I’m guessing everyone else will be here too.”

David smirked, “Of course. None of my boys miss out when it’s time to go picking. And your boy will love it as much as the others do.”

Kyle remembered fondly all the times they went picking for apples when he was younger. True, most of what was picked was done by part time workers his dad hired in the season but he always set aside a few spots just for them and friends. Sometimes it would be all his friends plus their families and a few others taking part in what became a kind of family tradition. It made for a few long days but the time was enjoyable when it was spent with friends. He expected this year to be no different. “Hey,” thinking back brought a question to his mind. “How come it looked like a bunch of trees either shrunk or were chopped down?

“You mean the back quarter,” his dad said helpfully. “Two years ago Jacob really got into learning things and decided to actually put some effort into the place. Before he got his carpentry job off the ground he debated me a couple times and finally convinced me to expand the different types of apples in the groves. We got rid of a lot of the old golds and reds and started in on some Fuji’s, Jonathan’s and Gala’s. They only started really taking off two years ago but I think we’re gonna be seeing a profit from them this year.”

“Well, maybe later if it cools off, we can take a walk through together,” Kyle offered.

David looked over at his son and remembered all the times they used to walk through the groves together and talk. Those were some of his most cherished memories so much so that he almost never let anyone else, even Jacob, go with him over the last few years. When he spoke, he did so with a soft tone. “I’d like that a lot.”

Their peaceful moment was interrupted by the sound of a truck pulling up outside the backdoor. They both recognized the sound being Andy’s truck. David frowned and looked at the time before muttering, “he’s running real late today.” Knowing Brian was there Kyle could only guess as to what had Andy running late. He stood up and headed to the door, opening it to see Andy trying to get Blake out of his car seat.

“Here, let me help you with that,” Kyle insisted as he came up behind Andy to aid him in getting his boys out of the truck. “You doing ok?”

“Yeah,” he muttered, his voice was tight and sounded aggravated. “Bri’s alarm didn’t wake me and then it was hard to get going with these two.”

“He didn’t help you?” It seemed a little odd that Brian would just leave.

“He was up and gone before the boys even woke up. He had early classes to teach today...” His fingers fumbled with the seat buckle to free Blake while Kyle’s experienced hands easily released Tanner’s restraints.

Kyle helped get Tanner down out of the truck before looking around for the bag he saw they had the day before. “Do they need breakfast or anything,” he asked offhandedly.

“Damnit!” Andy swore and his face darkened. “I knew I forgot something!” He slammed his fist against the side of the truck causing his small son’s eyes to widen in alarm. Kyle looked over at Andy as he remained standing there, breathing heavily, resting his head against the side of the truck.

Kyle slowly walked around and reached past him to unbuckle Blake’s restraints. Gently picking the small red headed boy up from his seat in the truck he set him down and instructed him to follow his brother into the house. He located the bag from the backseat, grabbed it, and then turned to Andy with some concern. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah,” his voice was strained and seemed to be louder than usual. His eyes were closed as his breathing started to slow down. “I woke up and he was gone. Freaked me out and I spent an hour this morning first looking for him before I thought about texting him because I was sure he was gone for good.”

Kyle gently laid an arm around his shoulders to comfort him and was alarmed to feel his body trembling. “Kyle,” his dad called in his unmistakable marine corps voice. “Find his keys.” His father had a stern yet sad look in his eyes. As if what Andy was doing wasn’t that surprising to him. Kyle looked back to Andy silently.

Andy groaned quietly, “fuck…” He pulled his keys out of his pocket and held them up. Kyle wordlessly took them and looked back at his father for instruction. He had no clue what was happening or what to expect.

His dad nodded and then said to the both of them, “get him inside. You’re staying home today, soldier. And before you start to argue, I already called Troy. Get your ass in here.” That said, his father turned and slowly walked back inside.

Kyle’s face broke out into deep concern and compassion for his friend. He leaned in close and whispered softly, “come on. You can come upstairs and lay down.”

Andy slowly turned. He stopped and pulled back on Kyle’s touch saying, “I just need a minute. Fuck, I hate feeling like this.”

“Should I call Brian,” Kyle offered quietly.

Andy’s body stiffened and his voice growled before becoming normal again. “No! No. No use in worrying him over nothing.”

Kyle just nodded and then started to physically coax Andy into moving again. Whatever this was, it’s wasn’t nothing. They made their way inside at a slow pace. Once they were past the kitchen, his dad stood there with his arms crossed over his chest, still looking stern but his eyes looked on them both gently. “Go ahead and take him upstairs,” he said quietly so he wasn’t overheard, “I got the boys in the living room for now. I’ll get them fed while you take care of him.” Kyle nodded and went with Andy who was starting to walk easier on his own. His breathing was almost back to normal by the time they were in what at one point had been Brian’s room in the house.

Kyle sat him on the bed and knelt down to remove his boots before letting him lay down on the bed. Once he was laying on the bed, he curled up into himself, his blonde hair falling over his face. Kyle stood there for a moment, unsure what to do. He couldn’t bring himself to just leave him alone like this. Carefully, he got onto the bed with him and laid down with him, pressing himself against his friend and wrapping his arms around him. “Deep breaths,” Kyle said softly in his ear. “Slow, even breaths. Just relax. You’ll be ok.”

They laid there for a few minutes before Kyle felt Andy’s body start to relax. A few more minutes and he could no longer feel Andy’s heart beating rapidly. Finally, Andy sighed and muttered, “that one wiped me out.”

“Do you wanna tell me what happened exactly?” Kyle didn’t want to let go of him just yet. He was worried and wasn’t sure what to do to help.

“We were talking last night,” Andy said, barely above a whisper. “Then we had sex. I swear, bro, it’s like I can’t touch him without telling him a thousand times that I love him. It’s the weirdest shit.” Kyle snickered and squeezed him a little before letting him continue. “We talked about what we wanted this to be. Talked about getting married someday. We both said we didn’t want him to keep having to travel so much for work. We’re still working that one out but I can tell from the look in his eyes that he’s plotting something.”

Kyle chuckled. “If Brian wasn’t plotting something I’d be surprised. You know he loves you. He wouldn’t do anything to cause you problems.”

“I know that,” Andy said caustically, “problem is that other part of me still needs convincing. The part that sends me into ‘freak-the-fuck-out’ mode. When I woke up and he was gone, I started stomping through the house looking for him. I wish I was making this up but... in my panicked state I thought he’d been kidnapped.”

“Oh,” Kyle felt he was treading on thin ice but he knew he had to ask. “Was that something that happened to someone in your past?”

There was a long silence between them before Andy finally uttered, “yeah.”

“Did you get them back?”


Kyle sighed sadly. “I’m sorry. Think it’s something you’ll have to talk to Brian about later.”

“Yeah. With a new rule: Don’t leave the house without me being awake and knowing that you’re leaving.” He sighed and closed his eyes. Kyle could feel him relaxing a bit more. “I don’t know how I’m gonna tell him about this. I don’t wanna scare him off. But I’ll have to.”

“Worry about that later,” saying to the huddled figure he was holding, “right now, let’s get you rested up. You’ll feel better after you sleep some.”

“Fuck,” he muttered and managed a small laugh, “I just realized something. This was me and you in high school after Jacob was in the hospital.”

“Yeah,” Kyle said quietly. He could still remember the panic he felt in those twenty-four hours.

“Only time I was ever worried about you,” he commented with a small smirk on his face.

“Wish I could say that was the only time I worried about me,” he replied with only a little sarcasm in his tone.

“He still loves you, Kyle,” he said quietly as he started to drift off. “He’s just scared.”

“Of what?” He felt a little guilty, like he was taking advantage of Andy’s vulnerability but he couldn’t resist asking.

“Himself. You. He’s scared because he’s angry and he thinks he can’t get you back after what he did.”

Now he did feel guilty. “Go to sleep, Andy. You’ll feel better after a couple of hours.” Andy let out one more sigh and then his breathing became slow and regular. Kyle laid there for another minute to make sure he was asleep before he carefully extricated himself from his friend and silently left the room, closing the door behind him.

He stopped in his bedroom to grab a shirt and pull it on before going down the stairs and walked into the living room. His father was there with Andy’s sons who were watching cartoons. Their faces were trained on the screen but he could tell in their eyes that they knew something bad had happened to their dad. It must be something they’ve seen before and he felt sympathy for the both of them. Kyle glanced over at his dad who just stared back at his son and shook his head, letting him know that talking about it right now would be a bad idea. He sighed and sat down next to his father on the couch. He felt an arm go around his shoulders and draw him close. As he rested his head against his dad’s shoulder he again had to wonder at how strange and comforting it felt. Less than a week ago he never saw this moment happening between the two of them. Now, it gave him a sense of comfort just like it used to. In his head he knew Andy would be fine if a little embarrassed. Things will go back to normal and hopefully everyone will learn from the experience.

His thoughts went back to what Andy said about Jacob. Examining it and turning it over in his head, he started to get a grasp on what he felt would be the right thing to do. It wasn’t going to be easy and the hardest part would be to finally tackle his fears and his own insecurities. It might not and probably wouldn’t happen today or any time soon. But, he felt he needed to at least see how things would go. If Andy was right, then maybe he could get back what he lost. The first thing he needed to do was maybe the most uncomfortable step to make. Decide if he actually wanted Jacob back or not.

Time passed unnoticed until Kyle heard the back door open again. He looked towards the direction of the kitchen, puzzled as he heard what sounded like a group of people entering the house. A female voice giving instructions and the voice of a small boy answering before he heard a more distinct sound of small feet making their way down the hall. Two small boys appeared in the doorway, one a head taller than the other. Both of them with chestnut brown hair. The taller boy’s eyes looking more hazel with flecks of green in them and the younger one with muted blue and gray eyes. Both boys examined the room and looked at him curiously before their mouths broke into wide grins and rushed towards him only to scramble up onto the couch next to his dad.

“Well, look who’s here,” his dad said with a big smile. He used both arms to grab the smaller boy and lifted him onto his lap.

“Hi, grandpa David,” the older boy said as he leaned over to hug him around his neck. “Mommy said you’d be here.”

As he said that, Kyle heard someone else walk into the room. He looked up and saw an obviously pregnant woman wearing hospital scrubs walk in with a slight smirk on her face and bright eyes. Her voice carried a happy but slightly sarcastic tone to it. “Well? Are you doing what you were told to do, old man?”

David turned to look up at her with a mock glare and said in a surly voice, “yeah. How come you’re here? Aren’t you supposed to be back at your torture chamber, draining your victims of their will to live?”

“You wish,” she said as she moved around the couch and sat down on the edge of the couch next to him. Taking his arm, she pressed her fingers against his wrist, feeling for his pulse. They were both silent a second before she let him go and said, “you are a medical miracle.”

He smirked and grunted a reply, “you’re not in the will so no need to sugar coat the news.”

The look on her face and her tone turned serious. “Have you had any fatigue or shortness of breath today?” After David shook his head she nodded. “Okay then. But if you do feel strange or anything out of the ordinary, you say something instead of toughing it out.”

Kyle sat there baffled at their back and forth, sensing a camaraderie they seemed to share. The woman glanced over at him and said politely, “hi, by the way. I’m Liz, Troy’s wife. I’m sure your dad would’ve introduced me if he had any manners.”

He nodded and said, “nice to meet you. I think.”

His dad laughed softly and cuddled the small boy still on his lap. “I’m fine, Liz. Missed the boys though.” He leaned down and kissed the top of the small boy’s head saying to Kyle, “this here is Carter and his older brother Chase. Boys, this is your Uncle Kyle. He’s my son.”

The boy looked over and smiled shyly as he pressed his head against David’s chest. Kyle smiled and reached over to ruffle his hair. Liz regarded him curiously. “Been around kids much?”

Father and son exchanged a look before he replied, “once or twice.”

She shrugged dismissively and then asked, “where’s Andy? I saw his truck parked outside.”

David replied, “he was having a bad morning. He’s upstairs sleeping it off.”

She frowned with a mixture of concern and disappointment. “He was being a little weird Sunday at the park. Very tight lipped about stuff. Do I need to go up and check on him too?”

David frowned as well and looked to Kyle to answers. Kyle affected a blank look and said, “No, nurse Ratchet. I’m sure whatever happened he’ll be fine with a few hours of sleep. After he wakes up, feel free to pester him.”

The four boys started to congregate together and Kyle decided to find them a couple games to play. He found a “Candyland” board game and set it up for them, helping out the two younger boys so they could enjoy it as much as the older two. Liz continued to give David an impromptu check-up and found him in good condition. As the time passed, he got to know Liz a little better. She seemed as playful and humorous as she first seemed. He found it odd that she was married to Troy who always seemed too serious most of the time but upon questioning, he found that she adored her husband and had over time gotten him to loosen up a bit and enjoy some fun now and then.

As the time passed, Kyle grew more accustomed to the children. He found Chase to be funny and bright and reminded him of Troy when they were in grade school. He proudly proclaimed he was starting second grade in the next week and he could tell most of the boy’s personality came from his mother. Carter was more shy and reserved but once he got used to Kyle’s presence he enjoyed talking and really enjoyed cuddling with him. Kyle loved the boy the moment he fit as easily into his arms as his own son. Tanner asked questions about where he was from and what he did. An inquisitive six year old, he wasn’t looking forward to school nearly as much as his friend Chase was. And Blake with the bright red hair and his father’s eyes was a little charming imp who was playful and liked to entertain. He wished his son could have friends like these boys all the time.

“You seem to have a handle on the kids,” Liz remarked as she sat back on one of the couches in the room to rest her back. She grinned with a humorous tone, “If you want one of them, I’m sure I could sell you Carter real cheap.” She looked at her adorable little boy who seemed to be used to his mom’s jokes and just stuck his tongue out at her and laughed.

“No thanks. I have enough on my hands at home as it is,” he grinned.

“Fine,” she said with a half smirk, “guess I’m stuck with him.” Her pregnant belly shook as she looked lovingly at Carter.

Kyle was about to say something when his phone rang. Seeing Stephanie’s name on the ID he quickly answered, “what’s up?”

“Got something to write with handy?” The sound of her voice told him she had him on speaker phone and he could hear her car running.

“Hold on.” He got up and ran to the dining room where he had left his briefcase. Opening it, it got a piece of paper ready and a pen in hand. “Go ahead.”

“You have Mr. Alberra’s number already I assume. You can call him and tell him the date for hearing the defendants plea is going to be October second. That’s what I was informed earlier today from the court clerk.”

He scribbled it down the information. “Thanks Steph. When are you planning on getting here?”

“I’m just leaving town,” she explained, “I stopped by your place and picked up about a week’s worth of clothes for Matt and we are officially on our way. I should be there by four.”

“Great,” he smiled, “I have someone here very eager to meet him. What are your plans?”

“Well, I’m going to need some place to sleep tonight,” she said with some amusement.

“I think I can handle that,” he said. “I’m pretty sure dad will be happy to let you stay the night since you are bringing him something pretty special.”

“Ok. I’m driving. I’ll talk to you in a couple hours.”

“Thanks, Steph.” He ended the call, feeling his mood improve knowing his son was on his way. He got up from the table and was planning on heading upstairs to his room but then thought better of it. He pulled the information out of his briefcase that he needed before closing it up and heading back to poke his head into the living room. “Hey, dad,” he said quietly to get his attention but not the entire rooms. “Can you come with me for a second?”

David looked at his son curiously and nodded, standing up and following his son. “What’s up?”

“I just wanted you to know that you being in the hospital wasn’t the only thing that made me want to come back. It was the catalyst, yeah, but… to be frankly honest with myself, the last few months have been a little eye opening for me.” He looked at his dad with a melancholy look. “I know we can’t go back and change what happened. I should have stopped being so angry at you and Jacob and come home sooner.”

David looked contrite for a moment as they stepped into Kyle’s room, closing the door behind them once they were both inside. Kyle sat at the desk as his father sat close by, watching his son curiously. Kyle looked at the numbers he had on the paper in his hand and started to dial. Before he finished he looked as his dad and said quietly, “I’ve never dealt with a murder case before so I’ve never had to make a phone call like this.”

David’s eyes widened slightly in surprise. “Who are you calling?”

He grimaced and said softly, “a father.”

He sighed as he hit the send button and put the call on speaker phone. His father watched wordlessly and waited until he heard a man’s voice answer. “Hello?”

“Is this Charles Alberra, sir,” Kyle asked with a respectful tone.

“Yes, this is,” came the answer.

Kyle paused for a moment, looking into his father’s eyes as he said in a slightly formal tone, “Mr. Alberra, I’m Kyle Howard with the District Attorney’s office in charge of the case involving your son.”

“Y-yes, Mr. Howard. What can I do for you,” they could both hear the change in the man’s tone from casual conversation to a more subdued voice.

“Actually, Mr. Alberra,” he said, never taking his own eyes off his father, “I was calling you to let you know that the defendant, Mark Simkins, has agreed to plead guilty to first degree manslaughter in the death of your son.”

There was a long pause and David looked at his son as they both heard the man’s voice on the other end of the phone break for a moment before he rallied and said as best he could, “tha-that’s… great news to hear, sir. I… I can’t tell you what that means for us to hear.”

“He will be in court on October second to enter his plea formally before the judge if you or your wife wishes to attend. After that, the judge will set a sentencing date where you will be allowed to enter any comments you wish to make to the judge and the defendant regarding your son’s tragic death.”

“I understand,” the man said, his voice tightening with renewed grief.

Kyle sighed and his voice lowered in sympathy, “Sir, I just want to convey to you the condolences of everyone at the DA’s office and those of my family as well. I know that my actions aren’t going to bring your son back to you.” He stared meaningfully at his father whose eyes were bright and shimmering with tears, imagining the pain the man on the other end of the phone must be feeling. “This is a tragedy that has no winners in it and I am sorry for your loss. No parent should lose a child like that. No parent should lose any child. I guess we just need to hope that everyone who hears about what happened to your son will remember to treasure every moment they have with their family before they run out of time.”

“Thank you. Thank you, sir. I’ll let my wife know and we will be there.” The man swallowed hard and ended the call saying, “God bless you, Mr. Howard. Goodbye.” The call ended and the room was suddenly filled with silence.

Kyle looked down at the floor for a moment before looking up at his dad, seeing a tear tracing a line down his face as he whispered, “thank you for letting me hear that. Kyle, I’ve always been proud of you in everything that you’ve done but right now, saying I’m proud of you seems like it’s not enough. I always knew you were going to do something special and you just proved it.”

They both rose and David wrapped his arms around his son and squeezed him tight. “I love you, dad. And I’m sorry I stayed away so long. I think, deep down, I knew it was wrong. The pain kept me away.”

“No one is perfect, Kyle, believe me. I’m sorry I hurt you so deeply. My own problems are to blame for what you had to go through.” They held each other for a moment more before letting go, sharing a warm smile between them.

“He’s on his way now,” he smiled. “I’m gonna jump in the shower and get cleaned up before the house is taken over.”

David nodded. “I’ll see you when you get downstairs. Oh, wake Andy up when you get done with your shower. I want one of you to go over to his place and bring back some clothes for the boys to stay overnight here.”

Kyle nodded his agreement. “Okay.” His father stepped out of the room as he grabbed his stuff to go get cleaned up. In the shower, thoughts of Jacob started to build in his head again. All the activity with the kids and Andy, the phone call and meeting Troy’s wife had kept his mind off of it but now remembering him this morning and seeing him with that boy brought back memories of when they were younger. They had only really touched the one time in the kitchen. He knew they had both felt something. When they talked, there was that careful tiptoeing around certain things to not disturb the fragile peace between them.

He didn’t want to tiptoe anymore. If Jacob really was angry, he wanted him to get it out. Kyle would rather have Jacob spend an hour screaming and yelling at him than keep up this slow walk towards something that he knew wasn’t going to feel right. Just being friends wasn’t going to work and he knew it. If that’s all that can happen, he could live with it but there would be a constant, nagging ache inside him. It would be livable but not close enough to satisfy him. He needed to stop lying to himself. He was still in love with Jacob and he wanted him back. He had to find a way to make that happen. How he was going to accomplish it, he wasn’t sure yet.

He stepped out and dried himself off, taking time to shave the stubble off of his face before getting dressed. He felt more resolved now. Yes, there was still some guilt left inside him but that old anger and hurt he used to carry around seemed more like a distant memory. If there was any anger left inside him it was mostly directed at himself. Years spent convincing himself that there was no hope and no life left for him here. All weekend he spent telling himself that it was all over and that things were back to normal. But that won’t really happen until he can get back to the life he used to dream about with Jacob.

Kyle stepped carefully into the bedroom he had left Andy in and peered inside. Seeing him still sleeping but no longer curled into the ball he had been gave him a sense of relief. He stepped over to the bed and leaned down a little to nudge the sleeping form. He expected no real response so he wasn’t disappointed to receive none. A smirk crossed his face as he slid onto the bed and lay down against the sleeping form. Studying his face, Kyle’s smirk softened noticing the lines of worry and care that time had etched on that face over the years since he last saw his friend. Hoping not to startle him, he slid his arm over Andy’s chest, watching his face with a small smile.

A few moments later Andy’s eyes slowly opened. Looking around, slightly confused as to where he was when his eyes rested on Kyle’s face he relaxed, the corners of his mouth tilting up slowly. “You haven’t been laying here with me the whole time, have you,” he asked in an amused voice.

Kyle chuckled silently and responded quietly, “I spent most of the time playing with your boys and Troy’s when they showed up. Dad and Liz are downstairs with them.”

“Oh, God, Liz,” he groaned as he sat up, Kyle getting up with him. “She’ll be on my ass the second I hit the bottom step.”

“Well, we have a job to do,” he stated. “Dad wants us to go to your place and grab some clothes for the boys.”

Andy groaned slightly, getting back on his feet. “Thirty-one years old and I feel like I’m in trouble with your dad like I’m a little kid again.”

“You’re not in trouble,” Kyle said to reassure him. “He said he felt that you and Brian need to have a talk after what happened today and having the kids here will make it easier for the both of you.”

Andy turned and frowned as his eyes narrowed. “What did you tell him about me and Brian?”

He shook his head. “Nothing. If he does suspect anything he seems okay with it.”

Andy sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “I guess there’s no way around it. It is his party, after all. If he wants some kids spending the night with him, I can’t really say no. I’ll head over and be back in a little bit.”

“You’re forgetting something,” Kyle pulled Andy’s keys from his pocket. Andy gave him a disapproving look and held out his hand. Kyle looked at him for a moment, wondering if he should accompany him just in case but decided to trust him instead. He handed the keys over and said simply, “see you when you get back.”

Andy smirked mischievously and stepped up to him. Before Kyle could react, Andy leaned in and kissed him softly on the lips. He looked into Kyle’s eyes and said quietly, “yeah, he was right about your lips.” Kyle looked at him, bewildered, and couldn’t find anything to say as Andy turned and headed out of the room.


After Andy left the time seemed to crawl by for Kyle. Checking the time repeatedly, his impatience was beginning to the get the better of him. Andy had returned after he took time to change and bring over the overnight clothes for his boys. When Chase and Carter saw that their friends were staying at the house, they whined and begged their mother to be allowed to stay as well. Kyle privately thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for his son to get to know the others and hopefully bond much like their fathers did years ago. David wasn’t against the idea and allowed the impromptu slumber party to take place. He texted Jacob to let him know.

Brian was the next person to arrive at the house. After his early classes, he left as soon as possible to get back to celebrate with the others. It didn’t take him long to suspect that something had happened while he was gone. Andy was putting up a casual front but he could tell there was something off. When he said something to Kyle about it, he feigned ignorance. To take his mind off of it, he leaned into Brian’s ear and whispered. “I have a surprise for everyone tonight so you might wanna stick around for that.”

“A surprise?” Brian stared at him dubiously. “Is it a good surprise or a bad surprise?”

He gave him a playful smile and replied, “only one way to find out.” A long round of badgering from Brian proved fruitless as Kyle and his father both smiled enigmatically.

Troy arrived a little later, stopping in the kitchen to greet his wife with a smile and kiss while she was working on getting the feast started. He offered to help but she waved him off. When he entered the living room where everyone else was he was dogpiled by four energetic young boys much to his amusement. He made his usual greetings to everyone as he picked his younger son up and held him, getting the usual replies from everyone in the room.

Brian suddenly spoke up, sounding peeved. “Kyle has a surprise for us.”

Troy smiled and said casually, “oh, does he?”

“Yes, and he won’t tell us what it is.” He cast a mock glare across the room towards Kyle who just shrugged and smirked.

“Well, that doesn’t sound nice now, does it? Hiding surprises and secrets from his friends.” Troy was grinning at his son and tickling him into a fit of giggles before he stared pointedly over at Andy and Brian.

Brian nearly said something to challenge him when Andy muttered with amusement, “he knows.

Brian’s attention redirected to Andy. “He knows?”

“He knows.”

“How do you know he knows?”

Andy tilted his head towards Troy. “Look at him. He knows.”

“You know?” Brian looked up at Troy.

“I know many things,” he grinned.

“So you know,” Brian frowned, feeling left out.

“Are you sure I know?” The grin on his face widened and his son giggled in his arms.

Brian glared at him. “You don’t know.”

“Oh, he knows.” Everyone looked at the doorway to see Liz smirking at Brian.

Brian looked from Liz to Troy and finally to Kyle saying accusingly, “she knows too?!”

Kyle shrugged, “who knows?”

“Well, if he knows, she knows.” Andy quipped.

“Do you know,” Brian looked to Liz.

“She doesn’t know,” Troy said with a chuckle.

“How do you know I don’t know,” she arched an eyebrow at her husband.

“Because I know,” he replied.

David shook his head listening to all of this back and forth.

“Well, who else doesn’t know besides me,” Brian asked and looked around the room.

“How the hell should I know,” David muttered in irritation.

Andy couldn’t hold a straight face anymore and devolved into a fit of giggles which slowly turned into a full belly laugh. The others slowly joined in until Brian’s glare slowly faded and he started to chuckle silently before leaning over and kissing Andy softly on the lips.

“Whoa!” The laughter died down quickly as Troy stared at them in astonishment.

Brian leaned back, keeping his mischievous eyes on Andy whose eyes were blinking in astonishment. Brian shrugged and said quietly, “oops.”

“Uh, huh,” Liz said playfully with narrowed eyes as she turned to leave the room. “I knew it.”

Troy stared at two of his best friends in disbelief. “What was that about?”

“What did it look like,” Andy asked in a casual tone.

“How long has this been going on between you,” Troy sounded a little hurt at being left out.

Andy and Brian looked at each other wordless before Brian looked back at Troy and responded. “I guess you could say five days now.”

“But,” Andy interjected, “if you wanna get technical, it’s been going on for about, oh, fourteen years or so?”

Troy’s mouth dropped open. “Fourteen years!?”

Kyle piped up, “That I knew about. Well, I knew they were, you know, together now. Not the fourteen years part though.” He turned to the couple and asked, “fourteen years? Really?”

Andy shrugged, “well, you could say it was longer than that. We could go all the way back to seventh grade, I suppose.”

Troy gawked at them. “What?”

Brian shrugged, speaking casually as if it was no big deal. “I guess thirteen is kind of arbitrary. That’s just counting when we first had sex, not when we were, you know, in love with each other.”

David groaned. “My God. And when was that?”

“Prom night,” they answered in unison.

Troy blinked rapidly, glancing over at a similarly surprised Kyle as he tried to take all the new information in. “How the hell did you manage to do that with everything else that was going on that night?!”

Brian looked to Andy who grinned and nodded his approval before he went on. “Well, if you recall, you gave me the keys to your dads car so I could take Kyle and Jacob back here early.”

Troy frowned and nodded. “And you gave me the keys back as soon you got back to the party.”

“Well…” Brian’s cheeks tinted slightly red, “I may have neglected to lock the doors.”

Troy’s face paled. “You didn’t…” Kyle quickly pressed a hand to his mouth to stifle his laughter. He glanced over to see his father’s head tilted down, in a similar situation.

“I have the weirdest kids,” David mumbled.

“Well, we didn’t mean to,” Brian tried to assure him. “It just… We were talking and it just came up-”

“Sounds to me like two things came up,” David muttered bluntly. Kyle lost his composure and buried his head in the couch, laughing hysterically.

Troy slowly let his son down and sat on the couch.

“I’m just gonna guess that you or your dad never took a black light to the back seat,” Andy said with laughter in his eyes.

Troy held up his hands and said, “you know what? It’s ok. It’s fine. It’s not like we even still have the car.”

Andy looked over at Brian and said, “see, I told you he wouldn’t get upset.”

“You said that on Prom night,” he smirked back.

“God,” Kyle said, wiping his eyes having finally recovered. “Jacob’s gonna be pissed he missed all that.” He looked down at his phone to check the time.

“When is he supposed to be here,” Troy asked.

“Want me to call him,” Brian offered. Troy nodded and Brian reached into his pocket to pull out his phone.

Conversation moved onto other topics as the time passed. Kyle controlled his impulse to check his phone every couple minutes. Brian informed the group that Jacob would be home in a couple minutes after he dropped off Tyler. Kyle kept his expression neutral but was glad to know he wouldn’t have to pretend to be polite. He fired off a quick text to Stephanie to ask how soon she would be there. A few minutes later he got a response saying she was about ten minutes away. He looked over at his dad and muttered quietly, “ten minutes, dad.” Before his dad got too excited he lowered his voice further and added, “keep calm. The wait is almost over.”

Kyle got up and left the room to join Liz in the kitchen. She gave him a sidelong glance. “Can I help you,” she asked in a flippant manner and a cheeky smile.

He grinned, already used to her playful manner and replied, “just getting something to drink and waiting on something.”

“Jacob,” she asked with a chuckle.

“Believe it or not, no,” he said. “This is better.”

She looked over her shoulder, giving him an odd look, “you got another boyfriend no one knows about?”

He laughed and shook his head. “No.” Then blinked, realizing what she said. “Uh, Jacob isn’t… really…”

“Right. Whatever,” she said dismissively but he caught her playful smirk as she busied herself putting finger sized sausages wrapped in bacon into the oven.

Eventually, waiting in the kitchen was too much and he stepped outside to wait there. The longer he waited the more excited he got. Straining his ears for any sign of a car coming close, his heart swelled when he thought he heard the sound of an engine approaching. His smile widen with excitement as he heard it get close and closer. Hearing the sound of tires on the drive, he held his breath, expecting to see a silver Impala cresting over the driveway and was almost as equally surprised to see Jacob’s truck pulling in. He gave Kyle an odd look as he maneuvered to park his truck next to his workshop. Kyle watched him but kept his ears open for anything else, his smile still stuck on his face.

Jacob got out of his truck and walked up to him, looking at him quizzically. “What are you doing out here?”

“Ah,” he laughed slightly, embarrassed as he tried to explain without giving it away. “I’m waiting on something. Go ahead inside. I’ll be in in a minute.”

Jacob eyed him dubiously, “If you say so.” He slowly walked inside, allowing Kyle the ability to focus on the next arrival. A part of him wished he had asked Jacob to wait with him. He pulled his phone out and made a quick call inside to Troy.

“Where did you go,” Troy asked as he answered.

“I’m standing outside,” he said, his excitement making his voice tremble slightly. “You should have everyone in the living room including Liz. Have her take a break or something and sit down. You may wanna sit next to dad when I come in because I’m not coming in alone.”

Troy replied with a chuckle. “Okay. I’ll do my best to keep everyone herded in the living room for you. How soon?”

“A couple minutes,” he replied.

“Okay. I’ll take over in the kitchen for Liz.”

He ended the call and almost immediately his phone rang again. It was Stephanie. “Where are you,” he asked quickly.

“I thought you lived in a little house growing up,” she said with an annoyed tone.

“I never said that, I let you assume.” He couldn’t wipe the smile off his face now if he tried.

“Okay, so it’s the huge place with the ‘Howard and Howard’ sign out front?”

“Yes! Just turn there and drive up the hill. You’ll see my car and about six others.” Kyle could barely contain his excitement at this reunion. Four days without his son felt like four years.

“Alright, let me turn around,” she said muttering in exasperation. “He and I are both ready to get out of this car. Be there in a minute.”

He hung up the phone and started counting. It was at thirty-two when he heard a car approaching. He took a step forward and her Impala appeared as it came up over the hill leading up to the house. She slowly moved to park next to Troy’s SUV and shut off the engine. Kyle stood there waiting as he heard a car door open and then close, then another door open. Within seconds he heard the sound of small feet scrambling and running in his direction. He moved toward the sound when he saw his boy with his blonde hair and bright shining face racing to him. Before he stopped he grabbed his boy and lifted him up as the child screamed happily and his arms wrapped around his most precious boy.

“Oh, Baby Boy, I have missed you so so much,” he said enthusiastically as he kissed his cheeks and forehead.

“Missed you, daddy,” the boy said as he clutched his dad around his neck.

Kyle stroked his hair and waited for Steph who was just coming towards them carrying two large bags over her shoulder. She was still in her work clothes with her hair up in a bun, giving her an elegant appearance. Her heels clicked on the blacktop as she walked up to him. “You could help, you know,” she said with a grin.

He kept hold of Matt in one warm as he walked up to her, giving her a peck on the cheek and taking one of the bags from her, pulling it over his other shoulder. “Come on in, everyone’s waiting.” He quick stepped up the ramp to the door and slowly opened it, peering inside.

Troy stood in the kitchen, expectantly, his eyes shining and grinning when he saw Kyle and the boy wrapped around his neck, supported by his father’s arm. Stephanie eyed the new person curiously. Before Kyle could open his mouth, Troy stopped him, holding his hand up and whispering softly, “we’ll handle introductions later.” He stepped up to Kyle and put an arm around him, still whispering, “give me a second to get everyone sitting down in there.” Troy smirked and turned to leave the room and head down the hall, calling out loud enough to be heard, “Alright, everyone, get your butts in seats, Kyle’s got something for us.”

Stephanie gave Kyle an odd look and said, “You have weird friends.”

Kyle grinned and replied, “oh, you have no idea.” He motioned for her to leave the bags in the kitchen and follow as he whispered to his son, “stay real quiet for a minute, son. You’re about to meet the rest of your family.” The boy looked up to regard his dad curiously but his smile didn’t waver. He walked down the hallway, hearing everyone in the room talking in stage whispers which only made him smile wider. Eventually he made the turn and stepped into the living room with Stephanie behind him.

All eyes in the room were on him and the boy in his arms who, upon seeing the large crowd, suddenly became very shy. Kyle looked at the four boys on the floor looking at him with blatant curiosity. Brian and Andy were still sitting in the same place, their eyes wide in naked shock. Troy and his wife on one side of his father, all three of them were smiling in pure joy. On the other side of David, Jacob sat silently, staring up at Kyle with a blank look in his eyes. Everyone barely spared a glance for the woman who walked in behind him but their eyes went back to Kyle, waiting to hear him say something.

Kyle stopped a few feet in front of his father and cleared his throat as he knelt down, setting the small child on his feet. “Dad, I would like you to meet Matthew Howard. Matt, this is my daddy. That’s your grandpa.”

Matt turned to his dad before looking back at the elder in the room whose eyes were for him and him alone. He saw the kindness and unconditional love in the man’s eyes and smiled as he took a step away from his father and towards this new, kind person. “Hi.”

David Howard was beyond anything else at that moment. All his thoughts were on this perfect little child in front of him as he leaned down and held out his arms towards him, “Well, hello there, Baby Boy.”

Upon hearing that, Matt grinned wide, knowing this was a safe place. He made his way to his grandfather who promptly scooped him up into a warm and loving embrace. The boy leaned his head on David’s shoulder and the man smiled with unabashed pride as he said in a heavy voice, “he’s wonderful.”

Kyle looked around the room at all of his friends who stared in stunned silence. His eyes settling on Jacob’s face as his face took on a sheepish grin and said to everyone, “surprise...”

Copyright © 2018 Jdonley75; 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.
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Chapter Comments

51 minutes ago, DallasCubRob said:

I have been waiting all day for this glorious chapter to be posted! It did not disappoint!

I try not to disappoint.  Tomorrow's will be better (and if I get up early enough on Sunday, you might get two chapters that day).

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44 minutes ago, long1jo said:

Good one!

I just hope Jacob does not take it wrong way and leave hurt please!!!!!!!!!

Feeling the same. If he gets it wrong I hope Steph makes it clear for him 😁

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52 minutes ago, Canuk said:

well, Jacob hasn't run out...yet!


so very few surprises work out well (hmm, yes, some do, I'll never  forget what an amazingly good surprise sex was the first time, but I'll put that in a different category to springing a child on your family and wannabe lover....)


great tension... i read it all so fast I had to reread to make sure I actually understood.  

wonderful, thanks


Kyle having a son isn't going to be the only surprise. 

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46 minutes ago, long1jo said:

Good one!

I just hope Jacob does not take it wrong way and leave hurt please!!!!!!!!!

Hurt...?  No...

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3 minutes ago, Sweetlion said:

Damn I really wanted to see their reactions, can't wait for next chapter. Who will be the one asking if he his straight now? 😂

hehe.... That's going to be the least of their questions.

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25 minutes ago, Sweetlion said:

Feeling the same. If he gets it wrong I hope Steph makes it clear for him 😁



Sorry.  It's just... the next chapter is going to come with another "spit-take warning."  I promise, if you think this chapter was good, wait until the next one.

Edited by Jdonley75
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20 minutes ago, Jdonley75 said:


So bad!!!! They're all communicating so well and being so open...pop the popcorn!  Thank you!  Great chapter!!

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2 minutes ago, mfa607 said:

So bad!!!! They're all communicating so well and being so open...pop the popcorn!  Thank you!  Great chapter!!

Well, they've all known each other long enough.  Kyle and Jacob, though...  Still a lot left unsaid between those two.

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Finally they are all together. I am glad that David and Matt clicked so well so, let's hope that Jacob does as well. Another amazing chapter

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12 minutes ago, mikedup said:

Finally they are all together. I am glad that David and Matt clicked so well so, let's hope that Jacob does as well. Another amazing chapter

It was kind of important to me that it be a special moment when all five of them are all in the same room together for the first time as adults.  Also, I love Troy in this chapter, showing his fatherly side of his personality.  He's gonna be a big motivator here soon.

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That was wonderful, well almost wonderful.

I felt enormous sympathy for Andy’s struggle.  Demons are the devil.

It was interesting and good that Kyle decisively chose to pursue a future with Jacob.  David meeting his grandson was the best of all.  Kyle being reunited with Matt was almost as good, too and to hear them both call him “Baby Boy” and for that to be Matthew’s signal that David was okay, well, that did me in.  I feel this the second or third best day of David’s life.

“They’re heeerrrree!”  To be continued....

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2 minutes ago, FanLit said:

That was wonderful, well almost wonderful.

I felt enormous sympathy for Andy’s struggle.  Demons are the devil.

It was interesting and good that Kyle decisively chose to pursue a future with Jacob.  David meeting his grandson was the best of all.  Kyle being reunited with Matt was almost as good, too and to hear them both call him “Baby Boy” and for that to be Matthew’s signal that David was okay, well, that did me in.  I feel this the second or third best day of David’s life.

“They’re heeerrrree!”  To be continued....

Two things to keep in mind:  The day isn't done yet and Stephanie is in the room.

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11 minutes ago, Bagnios said:

Kyle just sent Jacob into emotional overload and not in a good way. 🤕

That is a distinct possibility.  I guess there's only one way to find out.. :read:

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1 hour ago, Jdonley75 said:

That is a distinct possibility.  I guess there's only one way to find out.. :read:


I don’t think I can handle if he goes off the deep end. I can’t swim. 😥

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3 minutes ago, Bagnios said:


I don’t think I can handle if he goes off the deep end. I can’t swim. 😥

Just remember, the cushion of your seat can be used as a flotation device in the event of a water landing.  :)

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OMG!!!  Excellent chapter!!! :worship:You've given us the perfect "ASS-U-ME" storm for poor Jacob!!:facepalm: Hope he doesn't sneak away before he can get the full back story...😥

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Could have given a Kleenex warning 😭 Another wonderful chapter and it's good to see a some happiness in their lives.  How long will it last? Can't wait to find out

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Kyle was dumb not to tell Jacob he had a son and that his son’s mom is only a friend. I bet Jacob wants to throw up.

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2 minutes ago, Geemeedee said:

Kyle was dumb not to tell Jacob he had a son and that his son’s mom is only a friend. I bet Jacob wants to throw up.

Spoiler alert: He didn't throw up. :)

Stephanie in the room was the last thing on Jacob's mind.

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