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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 - 20. Chapter 19

It was about midmorning when Jacob heard the first car approach the house as he stood just inside the storage barn. He had been in there getting down baskets and readying small ladders for the day. Andy’s pickup truck appeared over the top of the driveway and he smiled a little, feeling a sense of excitement that it was going to be a great day. He had woken up early in the morning, had breakfast ready for Kyle and Dad and they enjoyed the quiet morning together. Kyle was smiling and looking forward to the day ahead of them. It had been years since he had been a part of the annual “family gathering” and that spurred Jacob on to make sure everything went as smoothly as possible. Every year on the Sunday before Labor Day, his dad closed the orchard to the regular public and invited their friends over for a day of picking apples and cooking out.

Jacob put the baskets down and walked over to the truck as Andy shut the engine off. He could see Brian sitting next to him and three kids in the backseat. He grinned and picked up his pace as he went to meet them. By the time Brian got out and was helping Blake out of his car seat, Jacob was standing behind him, embracing his friend from behind. “Need any help with the carseat,” he asked teasingly.

“Oh, F-” he cut himself off as he attempted to unbuckle the restraints from a patient, smiling Blake. He sighed and said in a determined voice, “I will learn how to do this.”

Jacob giggled and pushed him aside, easily freeing Blake from his seat. “You’ll get it, Bri.” He picked Blake up and gave him a peck on the cheek before passing him over to Brian. “Probably about the time Blake is headed off to college.”

“I was gonna ask how last night went,” he responded in a sarcastic tone, “but by your attitude you obviously had a great time.”

Jacob ignored him, reaching over to get Matt out of his seat. His pale blue eyes beamed as he gently hoisted Matt from his seat and pulled him into a hug. “There’s my boy,” he said in his happiest voice. “Did you have a good time at Uncle Andy and Aunt Brian’s?”

Brian flashed him a dirty look as he set Blake down. “Oh, you will pay for that, Eaton,” He took Blake’s hand and started walking towards the house, shaking his head and chuckling softly to himself. Jacob obviously had a great night.

“They’re nice,” Matt said to Jacob as he held his small arms around the strong man’s neck as he was held effortlessly. “I really like Blake.”

“I’m glad you’re making friends, sweetheart,” he said as he closed the truck doors and headed towards the house. “I’m gonna drop you off inside and leave you with daddy so that I can get back to work so you and the others have plenty of stuff to pick apples.”

Matthew’s eyes lit up and his mouth opened in childlike amazement. “We’re picking apples?!”

Jacob laughed and couldn’t resist giving him as loving kiss on his forehead as he stepped up the ramp to the back door. “Yup, baby, we’re picking apples today.” As he walked in, Andy, Brian and their boys were already talking and laughing with David and Kyle who were still sitting at the table.

“He was awesome,” Andy was saying to Kyle as Jacob walked in, “but he needs a change of clothes since he didn’t come with any last night.”

“What did he sleep in,” Kyle asked as he stood up, seeing his son enter the room.

“Blake has a couple pairs of pajamas,” Brian said. “Just loaned that out to him. But, I suggest he gets changed before too long.”

“Hey, honey,” Kyle said as he stepped up to Jacob and Matt. “You had a great time last night?” Matt nodded enthusiastically as Jacob released him to go to his father. Jacob gave him one last peck on his head before he smiled to Kyle and headed back out. Kyle took Matt and gave Jacob a smile of thanks before he said to the others, “let’s get upstairs and change you and then we’ll be back down.”

Andy smirked slightly as he watched Kyle take Matt upstairs and held his tongue until he was out of view. “So, things went good last night,” Andy inquired looking over at David.

“They were cuddled on the sofa when I got in,” David smiled.

“Sounds like the ice broke then,” Brian said in an almost relieved tone.

“Only time will tell,” David said, “but they were better at breakfast today.”

Andy sighed and said, “Let’s just relax, let them handle things and step in only if things seem to be going off the rails.”

David chuckled and nodded in agreement before dropping the matter. “I love my boys. So, who’s cooking today?”

“I am,” Andy said as he ruffled Tanner’s hair, grinning. “Tired of the bland ass shit Troy cooks up. I’ll actually put a little flavor in stuff when we finish picking.”

Brian giggled and poked Blake gently as he stood next to him. “Let’s go help Jacob get the stuff before the others show up.” Blake grinned and dashed for the door with Brian quickly following behind.

“How many people are supposed to be here today anyway,” Kyle asked as he and Matt returned, now dressed in clean clothes and looking more excited as he looked around the room.

David’s brow furrowed in thought as he counted it up. “Maybe about… Well, counting the kids… I’m guessing somewhere between fifteen and twenty.”

Kyle looked over at Andy, looking confused. “Who else other than us?”

“Well, Sam, Troy’s dad is coming. My brother, Nate…”

“God, haven’t seen him in a dog’s age,” Kyle grinned.

“Well, he’s been busy living it up or whatever,” Andy grinned. “Oh, he is coming by himself, David. Guess the girlfriend thing fell through.” David nodded in acknowledgement. “Let’s see… Harry and Barb are pretty much out of the picture since they disowned Brian, so I wouldn’t expect to see them. I think that’s everybody.”

“A friend of mine, Gary, he’ll be here,” David suddenly remembered. “Him, Sam and me used to hang out together back in school.”

Before Kyle could say anything he felt a tug on his shorts. “Daddy,” Matt said looking up at his father, “where’s Blake?”

“Oh,” Andy interjected helpfully, “he’s outside with Brian and Jacob. Wanna go find them?”

Matt looked from Andy up to his father, expectantly. Kyle nodded. “Go on. Stay out of trouble and don’t go out of Jacob’s eyesight or mine when you’re outside, ok?” Matthew grinned and ran out the back door.

David sighed and stood up. “Son, he’s a little young to understand what you just told him.”

“Yeah, good point.” Kyle admitted. “I’ll go get him.”

“No,” David said reassuringly, “I’ll go. You and Andy start setting tables up near the usual spot. We’ll have a fine day together.” David looked down at the other overly quiet boy in the kitchen and grinned as he held out a hand. “Come on, Tanner. Time to go.” The boy took the offered hand and went with David outside.

Everyone seemed to have a job to do if it wasn’t setting things up or gathering supplies it was watching energetic children running around playing. Troy and his family soon arrived once everything was set up and were met by the others. Behind him came his father and within an hour, everyone who had been invited had arrived and were enjoying themselves in the temperate air. The clouds in the sky were spread out keeping the sun from glaring too much as friends gathered together, going from tree to tree picking either low-hanging apples to climbing up small ladders to reach the delicious fruit that was higher up. The children were mostly tasked with finding any apples that had fallen and collect them for inspection later for any bruises that would make them useless for selling. Those were separated later for other uses.

Conversation between everyone was lighthearted. While it was at times strenuous work, everyone took it in stride and it felt more like a reunion of sorts. Liz wasn’t allowed on the ladders despite her objections given her pregnancy. Neither David nor Troy wanted any accidents to happen so she was forced to act as supervisor and used one of David’s small motorized carts to gather baskets that were already filled. Everyone worked in pairs mostly, while the older men with David worked together and talked and laughed among themselves while they spoke about their kids and grandkids and other news they had to share between them. The three elder men, David, Gary and Sam seemed to have as good a friendship between them as Kyle and the others did.

Kyle and Jacob worked as a team like they used to years ago. They both kept watchful eyes out for Matthew and any time he may wander off he could be lured back by Jacob playfully calling to him to come help. Kyle watched as Jacob would lift Matt up into the air by his legs so he could reach up and pick the apples that were higher up. The boy was ecstatic to be allowed such an important job that his happy grin seemed almost permanently etched on his face. Kyle honestly couldn’t remember his son looking so happy being with anyone but himself and there was no denying the deepening emotional connection that was forming between him and Jacob.

They had gotten nearly two dozen trees cleared by noon and they all felt a sense of accomplishment as they broke for lunch which consisted mainly of sandwiches and bottled waters. Kyle had moved off to go re-acquaint himself with Andy’s older brother as they sat together next to Brian and his kids. He was having such a good time, laughing and sharing stories with Nate and Andy that he never noticed Jacob had left the group until Troy walked up and asked him where he was.

“He was here a minute ago,” Kyle looked around curiously, unconcerned.

“Well, he’ll show back up soon enough,” Troy said. “I was just wanting to talk to him about a project or two he had mentioned.”

Kyle glanced around and saw Matthew sitting and sharing sandwiches with Blake and Carter. “I’ll be back in a minute. Keep an eye on Matt for me, will you?” Kyle got up and started up the path leading back to the house. When he got there, he checked inside the house but found no sign of Jacob anywhere. Frowning in confusion and trying to keep real concern from forming inside him he opted to check his workshop. He found the door unlocked as he opened it and stepped inside. Looking in, he saw Jacob sitting hunched over his desk, the sound of a pencil on paper the only sound in the room. “Hey,” he called to him as he walked towards him, “what’re you up to?”

Jacob glanced behind his back and smiled a little as he responded, “I had a sudden idea and wanted to jot it down.”

“Troy was looking for you,” he said as he stood beside him. Without thinking, he laid his arm around Jacob’s shoulders.

Jacob grinned as he scribbled. “Uh, huh. More likely you were missing me.”

“I think I can stand a couple minutes on my own,” Kyle said as he playfully slapped his back.

Jacob looked at him before he stood up. His smile fading a little as he put a gentle hand on Kyle’s hip. “You’ll be leaving again soon.”

Kyle’s smile dimmed as he nodded. “Yeah.”

His blue eyes seemed to be memorizing every inch of Kyle’s face as his voice became softer. “Can you tell me when you’ll be back?”

Kyle’s cheeks tinted slightly red as his head tilted down. “I wish I could tell you exactly when. Truth is, I’m not entirely sure.”

“Can I ask you a different question then,” Jacob asked him before putting a finger under Kyle’s chin and lifting his face to make him look him in the eyes again. “Are you ever going to come home for good?”

Kyle looked into his eyes, searching. He knew that wasn’t the question Jacob was really asking. He was asking if he should stop trying to get close again. Stop showing his love for him and just accept that there is no real future for them. “Jacob,” he swallowed, forcing himself to maintain his composure as he said, “before I left for college, we talked about what we wanted to do together. I have been thinking about coming back home since last night. I do want to come back and if I could, I’d be doing it now. I’d go back and resign and move back home for good. I love you and I do want that life with you we talked about. I really do understand why you can’t leave. I know Dad needs help and that you have a good thing going right here and I get that. I… I have a good profession but it’s not something that’s tying me down in one spot.” He waved his hands at all the equipment and tools around them. “You have all of this. All I need to carry with me is my law degree and my bar license.

“But… I can’t. Not yet. I have a murderer I need to find and prosecute. This case was given to me because Jeff knew I could get it done and it’s my job to get the killer prosecuted and locked up for life.” His hand reach up to gently touch Jacob’s face. “I could never forgive myself if I just walked away from this. I’m sorry if you don’t understand that. I can’t tell you how long it will be, but I will come home eventually.”

“I do understand,” he said softly. “I can wait. I just don’t… I wish it was… I don’t want to miss you again.”

“I will come back every chance I get,” Kyle promised him. “But, you need to show me you’re invested in this too. You need to take some time and come be with me when you can.”

Jacob nodded. “I will. I want to be with you and Matt as often as I can.”

“Good. He loves you.”

Jacob closed his eyes. An overwhelming feeling growing inside him. “Then I’m a really lucky guy.”

“And maybe...” Kyle reached up and let his fingers rest on Jacob’s face. “At some point we can… be a family together… Just like we planned. I believe we can still do it.”

Jacob’s smile brightened a little. “I never stopped believing. And I never stopped loving you.” There was a moment of silence between them as they stared into each others’ eyes. Jacob’s gentle hand on his hip gripped him firmer as his body moved to gently press again him.

Kyle looked at his smiling face and whispered, “I’m so in love with you.” Their eyes met again and then their lips met in a soft, sensual kiss that slowly grew more and more intense until their arms were wrapping around each other. A soft moan escaped Kyle’s throat only to be answered by one from Jacob. For a moment, Kyle felt as if Jacob may crush him in the tight embrace he was in. All inhibitions were lost to them as Kyle’s hands pushed under Jacob’s shirt to grasp at the muscled back underneath. He felt like he was being consumed by an intense fire that Jacob’s touch had ignited within him and there felt like only one way to quench it.

“Daddy? What’re you doin?”

Kyle and Jacob froze in place for a moment as a singular dread crept into them. Slowly removing his lips from Jacob’s, his head turned towards the small voice that had pierced through the fog of lust that had started to cover them both. Hoping to see nothing and just have it be his imagination, his dread was only magnified when he saw not just Matthew at the entrance to Jacob’s workshop, staring at him with the most curious face he’d ever had in his life, but Brian and Andy standing there both staring at him and Jacob with wide-eyed astonishment on their faces. His son had asked him a question and he needed to answer it. Unfortunately, his mind was muddled after his initial shock and he had difficulty in forming a sentence. “I, ah… We… We were…”

Brian and Andy both were having difficulty keeping a casual face. Andy’s lips seemed to be jumping up and down as he battled to contain his laughter and Brian had the appearance of a very satisfied cat. Seeing Kyle in dire straits, Brian felt compelled to render what little aid he could muster. “He was just…” His mind searched for a plausible explanation and went with the first thing that came to his head. “...Jacob had something stuck between his teeth and your daddy was trying to help him get it out.” He took the boys hand and realized the best way to handle this situation was to end it. “Come on. Daddy and Jacob will catch up with us later. Let’s go find Blake.” He hustled Matt out of the room with Andy tagging along behind.

“Yeah,” Andy mumbled as he followed along behind. Before shutting the door, Andy’s head poked back in and said with barely contained laughter, “you may wanna double-check, Kyle. I think you may have missed a spot.” His voice dissolved into laughter along with Brian’s as he shut the door, leaving Jacob and Kyle in stunned silence.

“Well,” Kyle muttered in a flat voice, “looks like I’m gonna have to have a talk with my son about what he just saw.”

“No,” Jacob said with a sigh, putting his hand in Kyle’s, “we will have a talk with him.”

Kyle smirked and nodded in agreement. “In the meantime,” he sighed, “I’m guessing it’ll be about a minute from now before Brian tells everyone who’ll stand still long enough to listen about what they just walked into.”

“Are you embarrassed about kissing me,” he asked with an amused smile.

“No!” He squeezed Jacob’s hand and explained, “I just hope he gets the details right.”

They started to walk out of the shop together. “Me to,” Jacob said snicker, “you totally jumped me back there.”

“I did not,” Kyle protested playfully, “you kissed me first.”

“No. No, you definitely kissed me first.” His eyes sparkled in the sunlight as he glanced at Kyle.

“Keep acting like that and it’ll be the last kiss in a long while,” he grinned as they stepped back out into the sunlight.

“Like hell,” Jacob said sarcastically. He squeezed Kyle’s hand as they smiled and headed back into the trees to rejoin their friends.


“That’s really Kyle,” Gary asked in quiet surprise as his graying eyebrows lifted slightly in surprise watching the younger man walk across the path and sit next to some larger guy with a black ponytail.

David nodded as he said with muted pride, “my not-so-little boy, yeah.”

“Damn,” he muttered. “I guess it has been awhile since I’ve been here. Think the last time I saw him he was about up to your waist.”

They were sitting at a table along with Sam Adams, removed from the younger people as they ate the bar-b-q chicken Andy had made for everyone. The day was coming to a close after hours of carefree conversation and apple picking. A chore all three older men remember fondly from their own youths when they were in school together.

Gary hadn’t been back to town in many years and hadn’t seen David or Sam and their kids since the boys were preschoolers. The years had thickened his waist and his hair was mostly gray on top, what little was left of it. But their deep friendship from years ago still maintained its bonds and Gary was pleased with himself that he decided to finally take David up on his offer to come visit. Knowing David had been in the hospital in the last month and thinking their times together might end with yet another passing of an old friend motivated him to make the trek back to his old hometown.

“Fuck, he looks just like you,” he remarked with a soft laugh.

“Wish I could say the same about my son,” Sam muttered though he did so with a playful tone. Where Troy was tall and still kept a handsome face, his father had long lines etched into his from his many years as a widower. He still had a thin build to him but his hair had become nearly white as his sixtieth year came and went. Long days spent working at construction sites when he was a young man had left their marks on his weathered skin but his bright blue eyes remained as keent as ever.

“He took after Emily a lot,” David conceded. “But he’s as stubborn as his dad, so that’s proof that he’s yours.” his bearded face looked up from his plate to Sam, giving him a playful grin.

“Fuck you,” Sam said with a laugh.

“You wish,” David countered.

Gary laughed. “I’m amazed you two still get along with as much as you used to bicker.”

“He grows on you,” Sam said casually. “Like cataracts.”

“Grand baby number three for you this year, Sam,” Gary asked, deciding to change the subject before they got to laughing too much and draw the others’ attention.

Sam broke into a grin and nodded, “I hear it’s gonna be a girl this time around. I also hear it’s gonna be their last one.”

“Well, yeah,” David quipped. “Chase is seven already. Eight in January.”

Sam sighed, exasperated. “Still pisses me off that you get to see them more than I do.”

“Well, you could try,” David said simply. “It’s not like Troy hates you, Sam. And you obviously know your way here.”

Sam frowned and sighed, “he never got over Emily.”

“Yes he did,” David replied. “What he had a problem with was his dad’s grief.”

“At least I had someone I could trust to care for him,” Sam muttered as he took another bite of his chicken.

“You’re welcome,” David said simply. His heart broke for his friend when his wife died. He visited often when he could and tried to pick Sam up from the dark hole drinking and grieving put him in. But his instinct at the time had been to take young Troy under his wing and help him through his own loss. It hadn’t been intended but the bond between Troy and Kyle had extended to him as well and Troy settled into a closer relationship to David than his own father. “You should be proud of him, Sam. He’s a good man.”

“I am,” he agreed, “and he is. Just wish things had been different.”

“You’re not the only one who had problems with their son,” Gary said looking at his two friends.

“Alright, alright,” David broke in, wanting to keep the seriousness out of their day together, “let’s talk about something else.”

“Ok,” Sam grinned, “what’s Kyle doing with that Jacob boy now? Man, like father, like son you two are.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure he’s gonna break that cycle and not make the same mistakes I made,” David muttered.

“You told him…?” Sam’s voice died out before he had the courage to finish the question.

David frowned and nodded. “I told him everything. You think you fucked up, Sam, I should’ve told him all that before he left high school.”

“Nice to know you’re not perfect,” his friend replied.

The three old friends exchanged looks as they slowly smiled and chuckled to themselves.


“I think it’ll be Blake,” Liz said thoughtfully as she chewed on a piece of meat on her fork, looking over at the children sitting around a smaller table as they ate, laughed and goofed around with each other.

“Why Blake,” Andy asked with a barely concealed prideful smirk.

“The red hair,” she replied with a shrug. “Look at Nate, for God’s sake,” she motioned at his older brother with the copper red hair sitting with them. “He’s about as tall as Troy.”

“Dad is taller than I am,” Kyle remarked. “Could be Matt who ends up being the tallest.”

“Are you guys placing bets on this or something,” Nate asked in a casual tone of voice similar to his brother’s.

“No,” Troy said, chewing on a piece of chicken. “Just guessing. Who’s gonna be the one getting in trouble most?”

“Tanner,” Andy and Brian said in unison then snickered at each other.

“Ok, there’s a story there. Spill it,” Troy said smirking at the two blonde lovers.

“Been at school for a week and already got a call from his teacher about him,” Brian said with a grin. “It seems math class was too boring for him so he was caught doodling and doing anything but paying attention.”

“What did you do,” Jacob asked.

Andy’s lips curled into his usual smug half-smirk, “I had them send me the math test and had him take it in front of me when he got home the next day. He passed it perfectly. I called them back and told them not to bother him unless he was making problems. They said he needed to pay attention and I said, ‘apparently not because he took the damn test and did just fine.’ He said he gets bored when they talk about stuff he already knows. He’s too smart. I might see about putting him up a grade so he’ll stay out of trouble.”

The others laughed even as a few of them looked fondly over to the nearby table at their children.

There was a moment of silence at the table before Jacob suddenly blurted out, “Kyle has something to tell everyone.”

Kyle’s head turned sharply to Jacob in mild surprise as the others looked up at Kyle with various looks of curiosity and amusement. “I do…?” Brian stifled a giggle, keeping a hand over his mouth while Andy just shook his head.

“What you told me earlier before we were… interrupted.” His eyes went over to Brian whose giggles started to get louder.

“Oh,” Kyle blinked, remembering. “Well. Yeah. I was gonna wait until I knew for sure.”

“You seemed pretty sure earlier,” Jacob said encouragingly.

“Okay,” he said as his head slowly turned to look at all the expectant faces at the table, “well, Jacob and I were...talking…”

“Among other things…” Brian muttered only to be silenced by Andy.

Kyle shot him a slight glare before continuing, “and I’ve thought it over the last couple days. So, after I finish the case I’m working on now, my plan is to resign and move back here. Probably get a job at the DA’s office nearby.”

Troy’s face broke out into a please smiled even as he asked, “this is what you want?”

Kyle sat there for a moment before he nodded with a small smile forming. “Yeah. The more I think about it, the more I want it. And, it’s not just for me. I mean… I want to be with my family. But, I want Matt to grow up with friends like I did. I know it’s a smaller town and everything and I know if everyone knows I’m gay that it might make things harder in some respects but I just feel he could have a better life starting out here. Plus, I can be a lawyer anywhere. I can do that here. Dad needs Jacob here and me to, even though he wants me to make my own choices. Jacob has a good thing here and I couldn’t imagine asking him to pack it all up and move somewhere else.”

He looked back to Jacob, meeting his eyes as he added. “I also don’t want Matt growing up an only child. The other kids are great and all but I think he deserves to have siblings too. This is a big house with a lot of rooms. They should be filled.”

Everyone at the table was silent as they each absorbed the news. Jacob’s cheeks started to redden as he looked around to everyone. “Well…?”

“So, when do you plan on doing this,” Brian asked with a pleased smile. His eyes glanced towards Jacob and back to Kyle. He’d have to remember to give Jacob an “I told you so” moment when he has time.

“I still have a case to finish,” he answered simply. “Not sure how long it will take. And it’s not like I can rush it just so I can get back here. In the meantime, I will do what I can as far as coming back and visiting.”

“He’s not the only one who’s going to be going back and forth,” Jacob said. “I got jobs I need to finish but once that’s done and winter starts to set in, you guys will need to figure out who’s gonna watch the kids. I’m going to be spending those months with Kyle.”

Kyle looked at him with mild surprise. “You are?”

Jacob nodded. “I want to spend the time with you instead of here. I won’t have any real responsibilities and your dad will be fine for awhile on his own. And even if he needs help, he doesn’t need to look far for it.” He looked around first to Troy and then to Andy, both of which nodding in agreement.

“As long as you two are happy, that’s all that matters,” Troy stated. His voice sounded casual and unmoved by his friends’ proclamations, but his smile and bright eyes showed how happy he was for them.

“Well, I guess I’ll need to stop by more often to check on David and make sure he’s taking his meds like he’s supposed to,” Liz said with a smirk. “Shouldn’t be a problem.”

“We’ll figure out a way to manage without you, bro,” Andy said before he stood up. “Bri, let’s start cleaning up before we head home.”

“Mind if I grab a beer with you at your place before I leave,” Nate asked as he rose to his feet. He hadn’t seen his brother since before his divorce and had a lot of questions while maintaining his easy going nature.

“Sure, Nate,” Brian said with a grin. “It’s been awhile since we spent time together.”

“You’re not getting me drunk and naked again, asshole,” Nate warned. He ran his hand through his short red hair. He shared Andy’s green eyes but was much taller and thinner than all the others present. He’d been a nominal friend to the others but being five years older, by the time they were all in high school, he had been away at college.

Andy snickered, “And running down the street too, if I remember the bet right.”

Nate rolled his eyes. “That was twenty years ago,” he mumbled as he started following his brother.

“And still one of my funniest memories to this day,” Brian grinned as he walked past Nate, following Andy up to the house to start cleaning up the grill and plates he used earlier.

“I’m gonna take the boys inside and start cleaning them up,” Liz said as she slowly stood up. “Unless there’s any objections.” The last part added with a challenge in her voice and eyes, almost daring Troy to stop her. She loved her husband but did get annoyed with him when he acted like she was some fragile object when she’s pregnant.

“It’s fine, Liz,” Kyle spoke up before Troy could, “Troy’s got some stuff to go over with Jacob.” He gave Jacob a subtle nudge as he finished.

“Oh, yeah,” Jacob suddenly remembered. “Let’s go talk about that project I had in mind.”

“Sure.” Troy stood up, unsure whether to follow Jacob and go with his wife. His decision was made for him when Jacob took him by the arm and started leading him up the path back to the house.

Kyle smiled at her as he stood up. “You’re welcome.”

“He can be such a pain in the ass,” she said with a snicker before going over to gather the kids to take them up to the house.

Kyle suddenly realized he didn’t have anything to do. Looking around, he noticed his dad still sitting with his friends. Walking over he could tell their mood was light and jovial, hearing a few muttered words between them as he walked up to his dad. “Hey,” he said with a smile, “everyone’s starting to clean up.”

David looked up at Kyle with a playful grin, “you telling me my friends have to go home now?”

Kyle chuckled and sat down with them. “No. Just letting you know everything’s being taken care of.”

“How did we manage to have such fine boys, Davey,” Sam asked with a chuckle.

“Well, we can only take credit for two of them,” David replied. “They managed to find the best kids to make friends.” Kyle started to blush, feeling like a little kid again.

“Even that Jacob boy,” Sam said offhandedly. “He’s a good man. I’d heard about him when the boys were in high school. Seems the gossip was wrong about him. Aren’t you two really close, Kyle?”

“Close enough that he and I are going to start spending more time together, yeah,” he replied casually.

The three older men exchanged looks before his father spoke. “Ok,” David said slowly, “is there anything else I need to know?” David’s head lifted up, looking around for Jacob.

“I decided after I’m done with my murder case I’m going to be moving back home,” Kyle said confidently. “Between then and now I’ll be spending time here when I can with Matt.”

“Well, you always know your way back home, son,” David said confidently. “What about Jacob?”

“He just told me he plans on spending the winter in Harrisburg with me and Matt,” he replied.

“Oh,” David blinked in surprise. “So, I’ll be on my own for awhile then.”

“Oh, we’ll be back once in awhile when the roads aren’t bad,” Kyle assured him. “And definitely for Christmas. Besides, you know if you need anything Troy and Andy are just a phone call away.”

“If Troy gives you any excuses, let me know,” Sam added with a little grin. “I’ll threaten to demote him if he doesn’t.”

“Any other changes I should know that are coming,” David asked, still trying to come to grips with what he was just told.

Kyle shook his head. “No, but if anything does come up, I’ll let you know.”

“And what about this case of yours,” he asked. “Are you sure you’re gonna have time to spare with the workload you have on you?”

“Dad, it’s complicated right now,” Kyle said, trying to assuage his father. “It’s just going to be time consuming and once we start filing charges, then the real fight starts.”
“From what you’re saying, it sounds like it’s gonna take awhile.” David’s brows furrowed as he looked up at his son. “You sure you can wait that long?”

Kyle got a look of disappointment on his face for a moment before he looked away and then back. “It can’t be helped. It’s my job to do this. I’d love to be done tomorrow but I know this could last a year or two.”

David nodded slightly. “If you think it’s worth it, son. Do what you think you need to do.”

Kyle smiled, glad to hear his father’s unspoken support. “I’m gonna head up to the house and help with getting the boys cleaned up. See you later, Sam. Gary.” He waved to them all as he headed back up the trail to the house.

The three men watched him leave until he was out of sight. Sam turned to David and said with a grin, “well, I guess you won that bet.”

“What bet,” Gary asked.

David’s eyes were still on the path he saw his son disappear on as he replied with a smile, “which one of us would have the more stubborn kid.”


“You ready to do this,” Kyle asked Jacob as they stood at the top of the stairs.

“I’m suddenly feeling nervous about it,” Jacob said in a slightly tense voice. “What if I do it wrong? I’ve never had to do this before.”

“Just be honest and keep it simple,” he said with a smirk, trying to allay his own discomfort. “I’m pretty sure he’s not going to bite our heads off. His mouth is too small.”

“Great,” Jacob mumbled, “now I feel like we’re in trouble.”

“We’re not in trouble. I’ll get the ball rolling and we’ll just work from there.” He took Jacob’s hand and lead him down the hall.

Despite Kyle’s encouragement, both of them started to feel a sense of trepidation creep into their confidence as they made it to the closed door at the end of the hallway. Slowly, Kyle’s free hand turned the doorknob, letting it swing open on its hinges. With the light on in the bedroom, they could both clearly see Matthew sitting on the bed looking at them as if he was expecting them. Kyle made a mental note to ask his dad later if had had ever felt intimidated by him when he was three.

“Hey, Matthew,” Kyle said softly as he walked in, dragging Jacob in with him. “All ready for bed?”

Matt smiled innocently and nodded, looking up at his dad with complete love and trust. “Bedtime story tonight, daddy?”

“In a minute, sweetheart,” he said as he let go of Jacob’s hand and sat down on the bed next to his son. “We wanna talk to you about what happened today.”

Matt tilted his head in slight confusion. “What?”

“Remember seeing daddy and Jacob together,” Kyle asked him in a gentle tone.

Matt’s face reddened a little as he giggled. “Yeah.”

“Do you know what we were doing?”

“Um…” the boy looked thoughtful for a moment before answering. “Kissing?”

Kyle nodded and smiled. “That’s right. We were. Do you know why we were kissing?”

“No,” the boy answered. “Why?”

“Well, baby boy,” Kyle started in carefully, “Jacob and I have been friends for a long long time.” He watched Matthew’s face to make sure all of that processed before continuing. “And we love each other in a very special way.”

Matthew looked from his dad to Jacob. “You love daddy?”

Jacob cleared his throat self-consciously as he leaned down on the floor to look at Matt on his level. “I sure do. He’s my best friend and we love each other a lot.”

A memory came to Matt’s mind and the words came out excitedly without thinking, “because you slept in daddy’s bed with when you were younger!”

Kyle’s head turned to Jacob, giving him an odd look. Jacob’s face reddened slightly as he stuttered, “y-yeah. Just like I t-told you.”

Matt looked at them both and shrugged. “Ok.”

Kyle sighed, wanting to make sure everything was understood. “Matthew, you know daddy loves you very much. Daddy loves Jacob a lot to. Just in a different way like two grownups do. You love Jacob, don’t you?”

Matt got redder in his face as he said quietly, “yeah. I Like being with him. He makes me feel good. Like with you, daddy.”

Jacob bit his lower lip to control himself. It was one thing to love a child and to feel that kind of connection with them. It’s entirely different to hear them use their own words to express their innocent love for someone. To equate it to the love he feels for his own father made the moment worth it. A new sense of responsibility took hold inside him. From now until the day he died, Matt’s life was always going to be a part of his.

“I’m really glad you feel that way, baby boy,” Kyle said softly as he leaned over and kiss his son’s forehead. “Dad needs to get some stuff done before he goes to bed. How about we have Jacob read you a bedtime story tonight?” Matt’s face brightened in a wide grin at the idea and nodded. “Ok then, give daddy hugs and kisses and then go pick out a book.”

Jacob rose to his feet and watched Matt leap into Kyle’s arms. It seemed like a special moment to witness it for himself, the gentle smile and Matt’s enthusiasm as he rushed over to the tiny shelf to pick out a book to be read to. Kyle stood up and looked into Jacob’s eyes with a small, knowing smile. “Kyle…” His voice was barely above a whisper and he didn’t really know what to say.

Kyle stared into his eyes for a moment before he kissed him softly and said to him, “he’ll fall asleep halfway through the book. Just make sure he’s tucked in before you leave. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Jacob just nodded before watching Kyle leave the room, heading back downstairs. He turned and found Matt holding up a book towards him, beaming with joy. His face, his eyes, just like Kyle’s. He could feel his heart swell as he smiled back at the small child, taking him back to his bed, getting him under the covers before sitting next to him. He opened the small book and began to read to Matt. It was the first time in his life he felt what it was like to be a father.


Andy and his brother were sitting together on the couch back at their place after a long day at David’s. Beers in hand, they were trading stories and catching up after not having seen each other in a year. Andy had made attempts to keep in touch with Nate after he had moved out of town for a job but time always seemed to be against them when it came to actually meeting up. Nate was about the only family Andy had left in his life. His father died of a heart attack while he was deployed and he missed the funeral and the chance to grieve. His mother had moved away shortly after his father’s death. He couldn’t blame her much since theirs was a happy and loving partnership. He heard from her occasionally but since she moved out of state, he hadn’t actually seen her.

Brian had been sitting with them until it was time to put the boys to bed. He opted to do it so Andy and Nate could talk and let Andy know he was going to shower after putting the boys in bed. The casual talk between Nate and Andy was comfortable. After Brian left the room and Andy got them some refills on their beers, Nate decided to change the subject. As he opened the new bottle, he looked at his brother and said in a casual voice, “So... Brian.”

One side of Andy’s lips curled up into a smirk, his green eyes watching Nate intently. “Yeah,” he said casually. “What about him?”

“You two are…” Nate grinned slightly as he took a drink.

“You asking for the details?” Andy seemed to be enjoying this line of questions.

“No,” Nate replied. “I’m just asking if you’re okay, I guess.”

“Nate, I’m fine,” he assured his brother. “I’m in love with him. He means the world to me and I plan on keeping him for as long as I can.”

“That’s all I care about,” he felt the need to assure him. “I just want you to be happy. I know that was hard to find with your ex-wife.”

Andy chuckled and took a drink. “She was hard to live with, that’s for sure.”

“Well, I’m glad she’s gone. I hope she stays gone.” Nate took a drink and settled back in his seat.

“What about you,” Andy turned the question back on him. “How come you haven’t settled down yet?”

Nate ran his hand through his short, copper colored hair, looking embarrassed. “I really don’t know. I keep trying and just striking out. I wanna have kids someday, but it seems like it’s getting hard to find someone I really like.”

“Stop trying so hard,” Andy said with a laugh. “Just be you and the right girl will come along.”

“Yeah, we’ll see,” Nate said, seemingly unconvinced. He took another long drink and looked back at Andy. “I am glad you’re back with Brian, though. I know you two were really close when you were kids. I didn’t realize just how close but, now that I see you two together, it seems right.”

Andy couldn’t hide the love in his eyes for his best friend as he gazed over Nate’s shoulder towards the hallway leading back. The sound of water running, indicating Brian was still cleaning up. “I never thought I’d get to feel like this again. I want to give him the world. Even if I am a bit fucked up.”

“You’re only as fucked up as you want to be,” Nate said casually.

“Speaking of,” Andy looked at him and asked, “you wanna go out back and light up?”

The idea of getting high with his little brother seemed both wrong and fun. “Sure! I haven’t had a joint in years.”

Andy stood up and motioned him out the back. “Come on. Before Brian gets back. He’s still a little iffy about it, I think.”

Nate was quick to follow. Heading out in the backyard as Andy went around the corner and into a back door to the garage, grabbing a joint he kept hidden there. They lit up the joint and took turns sucking in the acrid smoke. Standing there together waiting for the effects to kick in. Andy stared off into the night, taking another hit before passing it back to Nate. After taking a hit, Nate randomly asked him, “so, do you think you’ll get married again?”

Andy’s voice seemed to slow down a little as he replied, “I dunno. If he’s up for it.”

“Sounded like Kyle and Jacob were moving in that direction,” Nate giggled slightly. The effects of the pot starting to take hold in him.

Andy laughed and shook his head, “Kyle’s got a stubborn streak a mile long. Only thing that’s ever stopped him is scaring himself shitless. If he wants it bad enough he’ll figure out a way to make it happen, knowing him.”

“So, you love Brian,” Nate looked out at the dark trees towards the back of the property. He passed the joint back to Andy. “I’m really glad you do. He was always good to you.”

“Would it sound strange if I told you we were in love back when we were in school,” he asked casually, taking another hit.

“Actually, it would make sense,” Nate said. “I mean, you two seemed joined at the hip at times.”

“I just wish I hadn’t fucked it up,” Andy said wistfully. “I dunno why it suddenly scared me enough to send me running off to the marines.”

“What gave you that idea anyway, of joining the marines,” Nate looked over at him curiously.

Andy shrugged. “Kyle’s dad. Don’t tell anyone that. No one knows. I don’t want him catching any shit.”

“Why would he?”

Andy sighed. “I didn’t tell him the truth about why I wanted to go. I told him I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and it terrified me. Falling in love with and spending the rest of my life with Brian probably would’ve sent dad into a frenzy.”

“No he wouldn’t have,” Nate sighed in exasperation. “Would’ve been pissed about not getting any grandkids but he would’ve lived. He loved you. Missed you every day.”

“And then he died before I got home,” Andy said with a smirk. “I miss him. I miss you too.”

The pot was taking hold of them both when Nate suddenly blurted out, “Hey, ah, I got kind of a confession to make.”

“Oh God,” Andy groaned. “Don’t tell me you’re gay too….?”

“Oh, hell no!” Nate laughed loudly at the notion. “No. Nothing like that. It’s something totally different, not sex related but kind of relationship related.”

“What is it,” he looked up at his brother curiously.

“Let’s go inside. Brian should probably hear this too.” They walked inside to find Brian sitting alone on the sofa nursing a beer.

“You were both out there hitting it,” Brian asked them with a slight air of disapproval.

“Guilty. It’s my fault,” Nate said as he stood near the couch while Andy plopped down next to Brian.

“He’s got something to say to us,” Andy mumbled at his lover before he lay down on the couch, using Brian’s lap as a pillow.

The couple looked at him as Nate stood there, suddenly looking uncomfortable. “First off, before I get too far into this, I just wanna say I’m sorry I did it but I think I made the right decision considering what all happened.”

“I have no idea what you just said,” Andy mumbled.

“He’s high,” Brian said with a small giggle. “You both are. Nathan, use your words. Start at the beginning and work your way to the end.”

“Okay…” Nate took a moment to focus before saying, “So, dad died like nine or ten years ago, whatever. When he died, I had to settle all his stuff since you were gone. He didn’t leave a will or anything and you weren’t here so…”

“So, you took everything,” Andy frowned slightly, thinking he should be unhappy but it was difficult to build up to it with the pot still inside him.

Brian’s gaze started to focus on Nate as a glare started to form. “Go on…”

“Yeah… I took everything,” Nate admitted, looking sheepish. “But, I didn’t really spend it. I mean, I spent a little but nothing huge. I wanted to save it until you came home.”

“I came home about four years ago,” Andy said bluntly.

“Yeah,” Nate conceded, “but, you were married. And, on my way over to talk to you about this, I ran into Troy. We got to talking and he wasn’t very warm on the idea that she was married to you and she was having another baby and everything else. I didn’t like the idea of her using you or anything for money. So, I just didn’t give it to you.”

Andy blinked and shook his head, the pot was making it hard for him to really understand. “Bri, did that make any sense to you?”

“Nathan,” Brian spoke slowly to make sure the words registered in his head, “does Andy have an inheritance?”

“Yes,” Nate said. “That’s what I was working up to.”

“And you didn’t give it to him before now because you didn’t want Stacy to get her hands on it,” Brian looked at him to make sure he was following along. Nate nodded, looking to Brian like a teenager again. “So, what exactly are we talking about?”

“It’s in the car,” Nate said. “Oh, hey, I’ll go get it.” He made his way to the door before Brian could protest, suddenly aware of the fact that he was the only responsible adult in the room. Andy’s head on his lap prevented him from getting up sooner.

“What’s he doing,” Andy asked lazily.

“Going to hell, for all I know,” Brian said in a caustic tone. Andy giggled and Brian rolled his eyes. Despite himself he started stroking Andy’s hair. “You’re so lucky I love you.”

“I know,” Andy said, his head turning to look up at him. “I still love you more though.” He lifted himself up and smiled as Brian leaned down to share a soft, sensual kiss together.

The front door opened and shut again and the two looked up at Nate who was holding a large envelope in his hands. “Were you two sucking face while I was out at my car?”

“Yeah,” Brian said nonchalantly.

Nate blinked and stood there for a moment before he moved over to them and held out the envelope in his hand.

Andy sat up and took it. “So, again, why are you giving me this now?”

“Well,” Nate said carefully as he looked from his brother to Brian and back, “what you said earlier. When we were talking.”

Andy shook his head, confused. “We talked about a lot. Be more specific.”

“About…” Nate’s head bobbed back and forth, “the thing... “

“Oh, for Christ’s sake, just say it, Nathan,” Brian said, his tolerance for this shit starting to wane.

Nate giggled and then said, “when you said about you and Brian. And all that. It sounded like you really… Well, I just thought… it was time you had it. Since I didn’t have to worry about anyone screwing you over.”

Andy looked over at Brian and quipped, “I think that means he approves of you.”

“I’m so moved,” Brian said flatly even as his eyes sparkled with laughter. “You’ve had this in your car for how long now?”

“Only today,” he said. “I brought it with me. I was gonna think about giving it to him but… when we were talking, it made it all come back to me.”

Andy sat all the way up and opened the envelope. He blinked a couple times to clear his eyes. He read the document inside and the check as well. He blinked again to make sure he was seeing it right. “This…” He closed it back up and put it down on the coffee table nearby. “...um… not what I was expecting today.”

“Do you guys mind if I crash here tonight,” Nate asked, a little embarrassed. “It’s been awhile since I got high and I probably shouldn’t drive.”

“Yeah,” Brian said. “It’s’ getting late. One more beer and it’s off to bed. I’ll go get you a blanket.”

After Brian left the room, Andy looked at his brother and asked in a soft mutter, “Did that check say what I think it said?”

“All yours,” his brother replied with a slight smirk. “I just want you to be happy. You… You’re like the only family I have left.”

Andy sat there, pondering for a moment. It was a lot more money than he ever had before. He reasoned there were a lot of things he should be thinking about doing with it but right now, he could only think of one thing that he wanted more than anything else. “Thanks, Nathan. I’m really glad you held onto it until now. I don’t wanna think what would’ve happened to it while I was still married to… her.”

“Like I said,” he shrugged. “I had my reasons for holding on to it. But I figure my nephews and your boyfriend could rest a little easier with that in your back pocket.”

Andy’s voice dropped to a whisper. “He’s quitting his job, did he tell you that?”

Nate looked at him with surprise. “No… Why is he quitting?”

“So he can spend more time with me,” Andy mumbled. “He knows about… I told him what the pot is for.”

“Still having nightmares?” Nate leaned in a little closer to him.

He shook his head. “No. Not in awhile. I’ve had maybe one little episode since Brian moved in and it was just a thing where he didn’t really understand yet. About how sudden changes can affect me.”

“Have you told him everything,” Nate asked, looking worried.

“Like I told you?” Andy’s eyes dropped down to the mostly empty bottle in his hands. “No. Not yet. Maybe not ever.”

Nate nodded slightly in understanding. “You two have a long past but you are still just getting things started. You don’t need to rush everything.” He chuckled slightly and moved to sit next to him, putting an arm around his shoulder. “Just remember, baby brother, even though I’m not right down the hall from you, I will still talk whenever you need it.”

Andy’s face broke into a grin. Beyond Brian and his other friends, his brother has always meant the world to him. A familial bond that never really goes away no matter how long they go without seeing each other. “Thanksgiving at the Howard’s this year. Make sure you show up.”

Nate chuckled and nodded. “Alright. I promise I’ll be there.”


Kyle had spent hours alone downstairs going over hundreds of pages of text messages between the victim and everyone on her phone contacts. It was slow work and it took him an hour just to start to understand what it was he was reading. He went over each text line by line searching for any clues. He made a note to remind himself Tuesday to check with the detectives to see if there was any kind of calendar on the phone with any notes on it. Maybe she had doctors appointments listed to give him an idea of when she may have known she was pregnant.

By the time he had made several notes and highlighted a number of interesting messages he felt were worth looking into he noticed the total absence of sound within the house. Checking his phone, he realized, to his surprise, that it was nearly midnight. He sat back in the chair at the dining room table realizing that the night was effectively over and he’d be going back to Harrisburg in the morning. He hadn’t meant to get this engrossed in his work. All weekend he managed to not open his briefcase at all. Admittedly, Jacob had kept him pretty occupied and that wasn’t a bad thing in his opinion. And the day had been so good, feeling like they were actually connected again instead of just two people with the same set of friends.

Now, guilt spread inside him again. He could have left this until going back to work Tuesday. Or even Monday night when he got home and put Matt to bed. He could have spent this time with Jacob and his father instead of sequestering himself in the dining room. What other kind of moments could he have shared with Jacob tonight if he had made the time? He couldn’t deny that this case was important. But wasn’t Jacob as important? More important?

It didn’t matter now anyway, Kyle reasoned. The moment was gone. By the silence in the house it was obvious he was the only one left awake. And by the afternoon tomorrow, he would be heading back across the state to go back to dealing with all of the stuff he was dealing with now instead of spending it with someone who only wanted as much time as he could get with him before he was gone. He had been selfish again and there was no telling what it had cost him. He wanted to believe Jacob had understood or at least didn’t feel left out. He needed to do a better job of knowing when to not bring work with him to his dad’s house.

He put all the papers and notes back into his briefcase before he made the decision to take it out to his car instead of leaving it inside. Removing it from the house seemed like the least he could do to make up for this waste of time. He would need to resolve to never bring work here again in the future. He quietly came back into the house, closing the door behind him and locking it before heading up to his bedroom. Before stepping into his room, he strained his ears to detect any noise from any of the bedrooms only to find peaceful silence in the hall. He sighed softly as he went into his room and shut the door.

Not bothering with turning on the lights, he stripped down to his boxer briefs and climbed into bed. Laying there on his side, he closed his eyes but his mind would not be silent. The last few weeks played over and over in his mind. From the trepidation of returning home, seeing his father for the first time in years, reconnecting with Troy, Brian, Andy… Jacob. The swirling emotions that went from bad to good to bad to fighting to talking and finally to a reconciliation that they both knew they not only wanted but needed.

As he remembered it all, he recalled his time with Jason and all the mistakes he made. He had been incomplete and he had nothing left of himself to give to anyone. The best parts of him were still with Jacob. The birth of his son and his name was proof of that. No matter how far he ran or buried himself in his work, no matter how much denial he boarded himself up with and hid from the world, he always knew Jacob still had his heart. All these years wasted. He hated himself for a moment thinking of how different things could have been. Would he be sleeping here next to him instead of in the next room if he had come home sooner? Before Matthew? Would there even be a Matthew?

That was his one act that he would never regret. Deny everything else, Matthew was the best thing that happened to him in these past nine years. It was arduous. Stressful at times. Painful in others. But to see that smile and those eyes looking up at him everyday with complete love and adoration was worth it. He just wished he had been able to celebrate it all with someone else.

Kyle turned in the bed, trying to find a comfortable position. He wanted to sleep but it was alluding him. He couldn’t get comfortable and his mind wouldn’t let up going over old memories both good and bad. He thought about getting up after awhile but didn’t want to wake anyone.

He hadn’t heard any movement in the house but he did hear the gentle rapping on his bedroom door. He sat up, thinking Matt had somehow woken up and his light feet hadn’t made a sound as he moved down the hall. Kyle rose from his bed and walked to the door, flipping the light on as he opened it. The harsh glare of the light after being smothered in darkness blinded him, forcing him to squint as he saw Jacob standing there, looking at him with an odd nervousness in his eyes. He looked like he just got out of bed himself, wearing only a pair of worn gym shorts like he used to wear years ago.

Jacob’s eyes traveled down to Kyle’s waist and back up, meeting his gaze. His arms were at his sides and Kyle noted his chest seemed larger as if every muscle was tensed. Jacob licked his lips and stood there like he was trying to muster up the courage to say something. Or do something. Kyle got a little worried seeing him so… charged up. “Jacob,” he whispered. “What’s wrong?”

Jacob’s eyes focused on his face as he said in a voice that seemed too loud to his own ears, “I couldn’t sleep.”

“Do you need to talk,” he asked helpfully.

“Yeah,” Jacob mumbled, getting quieter, “I’d like that.”

“I can get dressed and we-”

“No,” Jacob said suddenly, “can I just… come in?”

Suddenly it was Kyle who was getting nervous, even if he was wishing for something like this only moments ago. “Sure.” He held the door open and let Jacob walk in, closing and locking it once he was inside.

Jacob looked around the room slowly and then his eyes returned to Kyle. “I, ah… I just… I guess I still have some stuff on my mind.”

“What kind of stuff,” he asked, trying to be helpful.

Jacob’s eyes darted to the floor and then back up to him, “I was reading to Matt tonight. And while doing that, I was thinking about… what we talked about with him.”

“Was there something we told him that wasn’t true,” Kyle asked carefully, trying to not show any emotion.

“No! I-I mean… I thought about why we talked to him.” Jacob seemed to be getting more nervous. “About what he saw. With us.”

Kyle smirked and stepped up to him casually. “We going to argue about who started it?”

“No,” Jacob said softly. “But…”

Kyle’s brow furrowed, questioningly. “But…?”

“...I.. have some regrets about it.” Jacob’s eyes seemed to get nervous again. His hands seemed to be moving on their own.

Kyle stared at him silently for a moment. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to rush anything. It was just the moment. Maybe I got a little carried away.”

“That’s...” Jacob nearly growled in exasperation. “I’m fucking this up. I don’t regret what we did.” He closed his eyes, taking a breath to make sure he does this right. “Fuck it,” he said as he closed the distance between the two of them. He placed a hand on Kyle’s chest and the other around his waist, pulling him close. His voice dropped to a sultry whisper as he said, “I regret we didn’t get to finish what we started.”

Kyle looked at him for a moment before making up his mind. Without speaking, he reached over and shut the light off, casting the room back in darkness. Jacob pressed closer as his lips sought out Kyle’s and giving him the kiss he had been dreaming of giving him for years. All the pent up love poured out of him as he felt Kyle’s body tremble in his arms. Kyle’s deep throated moan only encouraged his efforts. His kiss left Kyle’s lips only to travel down to his neck. As soon as Jacob’s lips and tongue took in that singular, intoxicating essence that was all Kyle, he realized he was quickly coming to a point of no return. “Kyle,” he said in a voice that had suddenly become husky with years of pent up emotions and desires, “if you want me to leave, you need to say so now.”

When he felt Jacob’s lips on his neck, there was no going back and he knew it. He felt a tear welling up, realizing how much he’d missed this. “Don’t stop,” he panted softly. His hands finding those broad shoulders.

Jacob used one hand to pull his shorts off before stripping Kyle’s briefs off. Once that was completed, driven by need, he picked Kyle up in his arms and moved him onto the bed, laying himself down on top of him. “I love you, Kyle,” he whispered.

“No more words.” Kyle reached up behind Jacob’s head and drew him into a passionate kiss. Slowly, their bodies moved together until they finally showed each other all the love they had held back for too long.

Copyright © 2018 Jdonley75; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

So what was your favorite part, the reunion sex or Matthew catching J & K?

I like Nate and love what he did for Andy.

If their mom just moved away after their father died, why do they only consider each other their only family?

Brian better let lose the judging Judy attitude,  I’m not big on pot personally but if my veteran boyfriend needed it to relieve anxiety to live, I’m not going to give him grief about it.

There will be a huge adjustment for David if Jacob stays with Kyle for the winter but I know he’d consider it a good reason to be lonely.

Matthew has two dads, now; Wonder if baby mama’s going to have issue with that.

Good chapter, thanks for the serving.

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Love it. So who’s the top? I could easily see Jacob heading home to Harrisburg with them now. Where in PA is the orchard exactly?. 


Also, I could be reading into it it sounds like maybe Gary and David also had something but weren’t meant for each other.   

Edited by Hunter of Porn
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1 minute ago, Hunter of Porn said:

Love it. So who’s the top?

My guess is they're both vers and Jacob tends to be more of the top even though when he used to get drunk he was more prone to being a bottom.  So...  six of one, half a dozen of the other. 🤷‍♂️

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Just now, Jdonley75 said:

My guess is they're both vers and Jacob tends to be more of the top even though when he used to get drunk he was more prone to being a bottom.  So...  six of one, half a dozen of the other. 🤷‍♂️

Was wondering. I just like it when there’s a big old muscle bottom. 

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1 minute ago, Hunter of Porn said:

Was wondering. I just like it when there’s a big old muscle bottom. 

Don't we all...? :rofl:

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What a great chapter! I absolutely loved the part where Jacob read the books to Matt! I hope Kyle puts his priorities straight between his case and being able to spend what time he can rebuilding his relationship with Jacob! Thank you for this awesome story!!

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3 hours ago, Cris L said:

Damn this romance! I just want some hot muscle boy bottom HOT sex!😂

Hehe.  Sorry. I dont really do that kind of stuff. 

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Finally. Another awesome chapter. I hope that Kyle gets his act together and gets back home sooner rather than later

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Excellent chapter! At last Kyle and Jacob have let themselves move forward to the next level! They’ve been dancing around their need for each other for far too long. The dynamic between them has focused on the mutual love and caring support they’ve always had for one another. Matt’s complete and unwavering love for Jacob has finally gotten Kyle to realize that the dreams and plans for the future he thought lost, are now right in front of him. All he needs to do is believe in them both and begin living the dream for real. I’m definitely looking forward to the next chapter! 😃❤️

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Can already tell Kyle will have issues with balancing home and work. Your doing a great job of keeping me looking in different directions.  Keep toying with us, obviously we're into it.

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Finally Jacob get the courage to move forward and Kyle accepted him, thought this moment would never come


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On 10/4/2018 at 9:41 AM, starboardtack said:

Beyond loving this story, I really appreciate how you respect your craft and your readers by posting regularly. There are so many stories on GA that have have started out great, that have been worth investing in, and then were ruined by increasingly irregular posts so that it became impossible to maintain a good grasp of the story line. I really appreciate your efforts.

I so agree with the comments above. I get fed up with writers who begin well and then either lose interest, or events conspire to prevent them from taking the story further. How much better to write the story in advance, and then post regularly, not necessarily every day as this author does, but at least once a week. This would also have the advantage of providing an opportunity for writers to review their work as a whole before posting, and to avoid inconsistencies or mistakes. Plus it might prevent them from just going on and on, and more or less ruining the tightness of the plot. There are several stories on this site, which have begun very well, but the writer has allowed the story to drag on pointlessly. By all means write a sequel if there is more to say.

Apologies for the rant, but I am so disappointed by having my expectations raised and then just cut adrift. And thank you Jdonley for such a well written tale.



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way like two grownups to -  way like two grownups do


The potential conflict between work and a BF here is great. Let's hope that Kyle can work it out. It is obvious that his desire is for a domestic life with Jacob, but career demands can get in the way, Solving his present case and moving back to the orchard might dim his career star, but it would certainly make his life more rewarding in other ways. There is always work for a good lawyer, they are rare and while fame in the big city can be a draw, a loving and caring husband and child can compensate for giving that up.

I am constantly amazed when I realize this tale is being told by a neophyte author\publisher. It seems too polished for a beginner and the pacing and characterizations are so integrated and well-handled. Congratulations and keep on keeping on!

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2 hours ago, itgilman said:

I so agree with the comments above. I get fed up with writers who begin well and then either lose interest, or events conspire to prevent them from taking the story further. How much better to write the story in advance, and then post regularly, not necessarily every day as this author does, but at least once a week. This would also have the advantage of providing an opportunity for writers to review their work as a whole before posting, and to avoid inconsistencies or mistakes. Plus it might prevent them from just going on and on, and more or less ruining the tightness of the plot. There are several stories on this site, which have begun very well, but the writer has allowed the story to drag on pointlessly. By all means write a sequel if there is more to say.

Apologies for the rant, but I am so disappointed by having my expectations raised and then just cut adrift. And thank you Jdonley for such a well written tale.



My intention was to tell a story that wasn't influenced by the readers. Good stories have a beginning, middle and end. I love Kyle and the others and I'm going to miss them when this is over. But, it should end well and with a finality to it that doesn't cheapen the story. 


I could write 40 more chapters and drone on about the tiny details of their lives as they move forward but I feel it would diminish the original story.  It would be great to have someone run into this five or ten years from now and get that same reaction everyone got as it was originally posted.  


In the future I might do a series with other characters. And, who knows, maybe in ten or 15 years we'll return to the orchard and see what kind of young men Matt, Blake, Tanner and the others have become?  


I have been just floored by the response this has gotten.  Even my sister is reading it now!  I will continue to tell other stories with other characters and new plots. There is this guy I've been thinking about. A vampire hunter... who's a witch...

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13 hours ago, Will Hawkins said:

way like two grownups to -  way like two grownups do


The potential conflict between work and a BF here is great. Let's hope that Kyle can work it out. It is obvious that his desire is for a domestic life with Jacob, but career demands can get in the way, Solving his present case and moving back to the orchard might dim his career star, but it would certainly make his life more rewarding in other ways. There is always work for a good lawyer, they are rare and while fame in the big city can be a draw, a loving and caring husband and child can compensate for giving that up.

I am constantly amazed when I realize this tale is being told by a neophyte author\publisher. It seems too polished for a beginner and the pacing and characterizations are so integrated and well-handled. Congratulations and keep on keeping on!

Those mistakes are the reason why I should find me an editor. lol


I've never written anything this big in my life.  Actually, I've written very little over the years.  Someone many years ago kind of ridiculed something I wrote once and it dissuaded me from trying again.  My regular outlet for my creativity years ago was table-top role playing games with paper and pencil.  I'd craft pretty elaborate plots and have players pretty well invested in the story enough that the game would run for a year or more.  And there were times I managed to eek out a few tears there as well when something dramatic happened to one of their favorite NPC's or some significant event.  But it was all verbal instead of written down.  This story popped into my head and just grew and grew until it took up most of the available space in my brain.  Writing it out helped expand it even more.  I finished writing the first draft back in July.  After a little time passed, I went back to rewrite and fix mistakes (but not all of them! 🤣) and add more depth and emotion.  Sometimes I had to cut or rewrite whole sections and painstakingly thread the new parts back in so it didn't appear like a rewrite.   That moment in Kyle's room when he first gets Jacob to admit to being abused was almost their first kiss as well but I felt it was better to wait until later in the book.  I also looked at the book from every characters perspective and got into their minds as to how they would react in certain ways.  That's a skill I picked up from running those old RPG's and it serves me well today.  I never considered writing a romance novel until this came up.  Not sure I'd do it again just because it's not really a genre I feel my talents are best used.  But, we'll see.  My talents are more into drama, suspense and subtle clues sprinkled in a story.  We'll have to see what I come up with next.


But next won't happen until this is done.  I've loved doing this since I started in February and now that I'm this close to being done I want it all out there for everyone to see and judge.


I'm really glad all of you are enjoying this story as much as I enjoyed dreaming it up.

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The past has so many layers, so many bits of bone and spirit waiting to be unearthed.  David and his friends, Andy and Brian, and of course, Jacob and Kyle. You ended this chapter beautifully, but I think also about the others and how the strata of their lives are laid down. 

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This chapter has it all............drama, tenderness, joy, hope, romance, trust,passion.and it is blended together perfectly......Great job,really; GREAT JOB...........:)Mike

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13 minutes ago, flamingo136 said:

This chapter has it all............drama, tenderness, joy, hope, romance, trust,passion.and it is blended together perfectly......Great job,really; GREAT JOB...........:)Mike

When I get a story like this going in my head, all the parts are moving at the same time.  I try to keep time stamps in my head as to what happened when and where with who.  So, I know what's going on with Brian and Andy at the same time I know what's going on with Jacob and Kyle and with David and with Matt and with Troy.  It helps to make things seem more real.  Also, I tend to avoid purely saccharine happy endings because, in my lifetime and experience, no real person has one.  And if they think they do, they're lying to themselves.  Some might think things between some of the characters happened too fast but I would argue that the changes in their relationships had started long before the story really began.  Jacob and Kyle had the hardest road because they both had a lot of baggage.  The others were a little easier but, still, no concrete happy ending.  I like to keep things as real as possible because that can capture the readers attention and help them to better understand the characters.


Glad you're still enjoying the story.  Hope you enjoy the rest.

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On 10/7/2018 at 11:00 AM, Parker Owens said:

The past has so many layers, so many bits of bone and spirit waiting to be unearthed.  David and his friends, Andy and Brian, and of course, Jacob and Kyle. You ended this chapter beautifully, but I think also about the others and how the strata of their lives are laid down. 

Re-reading this over again, I remember having this really strong desire to keep things as real as possible and to do that, I had to create an entire history between Kyle and Jacob that had that weight of time in it to give their feelings and actions more meaning to the readers.  It's why the first few chapters were mostly flashbacks while also hinting at the moments in between to grab the readers imagination and get them wondering and guessing what happened in the years in between.  


I read the fights between them again and remembering how it was like threading a needle.  Take the dialogue too far to one side and there would be no realistic way Kyle would want to pursue another romance with Jacob.  Too far the other way and Jacob would ultimately give up and walk away.  Sure, I could have just kept the dialogue however I wanted and just keep writing the narrative as is and not care that there was inconsistencies in their personalities.  But, for the story to truly work and give Jacob and Kyle that real feeling of a happy ending, that strata of time, feelings, hurt, strength and perseverance had to be there for the readers to see.  If anything, I think that's what I'm most proud of accomplishing with this story.

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