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    Jdonley75
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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 Empty Spaces Between Us - 13. Chapter 13

Saturday morning came and Tyler found the bed empty. At first, he thought Alex had left in the middle of the night. The sound of the news carried into the room from the front of the house so that told him Alex was still there. He threw on some clothes from the floor and wandered out into the front room, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “Morning,” he said absently as he walked through the front room and headed to the kitchen.

As he passed through, Alex stopped what it was he was doing on his phone and put it in his pants pocket. “Hey. Didn’t think you’d be up this early.”

Tyler wandered into the kitchen and went to grab some milk. “I slept in for about an hour. I don’t really like sleeping the day away if I can help it.” He saw the milk was nearly gone. He managed to get half a cup before the jug was empty. He made a mental note to add milk to the shopping list for tomorrow. “What time are you going in,” he asked as he drank his milk.

“Here soon. I’ll be done around six.” Alex took the empty milk container and threw it into the trash.

“Cool. I think I’m gonna clean up around here. Maybe drop by Andy’s and see how he’s doing.” He looked through the kitchen, looking for anything else to drink before he decided on what he wanted to eat.

“You wanna hang out at the bar later,” he asked.

Tyler shrugged. “I’m not picky. I still got bills to pay and groceries to get tomorrow. So, I’m not planning on getting anything other than a burger and a beer.”

Alex’s face broke into a deep frown. “So, that’s all we’d be doing there? That’s not worth it.”

Tyler grimaced. He felt a little disappointed himself, but there wasn’t much else he could do. With Alex staying here more often than not, he’d been eating more of the food Tyler bought which meant he had to spend more money on food and that meant less time going out. Sure, he liked the occasional meal out, but he’d rather cook food at home than spend what he felt was more for less. But maybe he could stretch his cash a little more to make Alex happy. “Maybe we can get in a couple games of pool, if you want.”

Alex’s frown disappeared almost as if Tyler had just imagined it was there. “Awesome. We’ll have some fun then.” He leaned in closer, looking down into Tyler’s eyes. “Then maybe some more fun later when we come back here…”

Tyler couldn’t contain his smile as started up into Alex’s eyes. He loved seeing the dimples on Alex’s cheeks when he smiled like that. He leaned up and kissed him softly. “You better get going before you’re late.”

“Okay. I’ll see you later.” He headed out, grabbing his coveralls for work and was gone.

Tyler stood there for a moment. The smile on his face lingered for awhile before he sighed and went to shower and change clothes. After that, he wandered back into the front room to plop down on the sofa. Just as he settled in, he felt his stomach rumble. Talking to Alex had made him forget there wasn’t anything in the house to eat. He felt a second of irritation, knowing where most of the food likely went. He wished Alex would at least tell him when he eats something. It was an annoyance, but it was worth it, considering the way he made Tyler feel.

He knew he should go get something to eat. Figuring, since it was a Saturday and most of his friends weren’t working, he sent a text message to Andy. “You up to anything? Looking for someone to have breakfast with.”

It was less than a minute later that he got a response. “I’m a little busy. Having breakfast with a friend later.” Tyler thought that was a little odd. Normally, if he was with Jacob or Troy, he’d just tell him where and when and invite him to join. He dismissed it though. Maybe Andy had a hot date the night before.

“What are you doing for breakfast,” he texted to Jacob. He didn’t expect much of a response with David in the hospital and Andy’s text. Jacob had been pretty preoccupied the last couple weeks. He also hadn’t been the best companion either. The only time Tyler went over to check up on him in the past week, he’d been quiet and withdrawn. Tyler almost thought about checking the house to see if there was any alcohol around, but he decided to trust him.

“I’m free, if you wanna meet me somewhere,” came Jacob’s response. Tyler smiled and replied that they could meet at a new diner not far from his place.

Soon after, Tyler settled into a booth with his mind set on getting some waffles. He looked up as the door opened just in time to watch Jacob walk in. He was wearing a green shirt with some jeans. He felt that was a little much for the heat, but he reasoned Jacob hadn’t been paying attention much. He looked a little sad still but maybe he could turn that around.

“I’ve never been here before,” Jacob said as he slid into the other side of the booth.

“They opened a few months ago,” Tyler explained. “You probably aren’t around this side of town often. No hardware stores nearby.” He looked up from the menu and smirked playfully at Jacob.

“Okay. Good point,” he conceded with a small but genuine smile. “Anything good,” he asked as he picked up a menu.

“Just about everything. I’m in the mood for waffles for some reason. And the prices are pretty good too.”

“I’m thinking bacon and eggs,” Jacob said absently as he read over the menu.

“So, any plans for later today?” He looked up, wanting to keep Jacob talking. He seemed less like his usual self.

“Actually, I’ve been giving some thought about making a little crib for Troy and Liz’s baby. I had a couple ideas come to me.”

Tyler gave him a curious look. “A wooden crib? That sounds uncomfortable.”

Jacob glanced at him with a smirk. “Liz said she could get some padding. All I need to make is the frame. Which reminds me, I’m gonna need some help on Tuesday delivering a bed frame to a client in Washington if you’re up to it. Shouldn’t be an all day trip like the first one was.”

“Just get Troy to sign off on it and it should be fine,” he replied with a shrug.

“That shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll ask him next time I see him.” The waitress came by to take their orders and automatically sat down two cups of coffee for them before heading back to the kitchen.

As they sipped their coffee, Tyler decided to go ahead and ask, “so, how has your dad been the last week or so?”

Jacob’s eyes lost their usual brightness Tyler has always found attractive about him. “He’s… ah… not good, I guess. The doctors don’t know what’s causing this problem with him. I was up there last night to check up on him. He said they were gonna be doing an MRI scan this morning. I’m waiting to hear back from that. I’m guessing Troy is up there with him now.”

Tyler gave him a sympathetic look. “I’m sure they’ll figure it out. Just gotta have faith.”

Jacob stared at his coffee. “He’s about the only family I got left in this world. I don’t know what I’m gonna do without him.”

“Don’t think like that.” Even as the words came out of his mouth, he thought of his own father and his own predicament. “I almost kind of understand what you’re going through.”

“I thought you hadn’t seen your dad in years,” Jacob said.

“Well,” he sighed, wondering if this was even appropriate to bring up. “Ma got a call from him awhile back. Seems he has cancer and it’s pretty serious.”

“I’m sorry,” Jacob responded.

Tyler shook his head at the concern in Jacob’s voice. “It’s not… I mean, I’m okay. I haven’t seen him in a long time and even then, it’s always been only for an hour or so, if that. But he called me on my birthday this year. That was new.”

“Did you guys make up,” Jacob asked.

He shrugged indifferently. “Sorta. Not really.”

Jacob focused his attention on him. “Don’t you want too?”

Tyler had to stop and think about the question before he could honestly answer. “It would be nice, but I’ve been disappointed by him enough times not to get my hopes up. Plus, he’s dying. I figure there’s no real point in a real reconciliation at this point.”

“I think you’re wrong. At least from my experience.”

Tyler arched an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“I used to have a dad. The one who raised me.” Jacob took a drink and continued. “He used to beat the crap out of me and talk shit. He used to tell me how I was never going to get anywhere in life. That no one loves faggots except other faggots and they’re all going to hell.”

Tyler blinked in surprise. “Oh my God. That’s horrible.”

Jacob nodded. “You have no idea. One the happiest nights of my life, and he beat me to within an inch of my life and I ended up in the hospital. He ended up going to prison. That’s when I moved in with David and… and Kyle.”

“Sounds like you were better off without him,” he remarked.

“That’s not my point,” Jacob explained. “Even after doing all of that to me, he was still my father. He died one night a year after he got out of prison. I don’t miss him, and I doubt I ever will. But I’m always going to wish I could’ve had one last conversation with him. Just one more to tell him my side of things and how far I’ve come.”

“Okay… I don’t…”

“You have the chance I didn’t,” he said. “You can have that last chance to find out everything you wanted to know about why he did what he did. Don’t waste it.”

Tyler looked at his coffee cup thoughtfully. “I never thought of it like that.”

“Believe me, no matter what ends up happening between the two of you, you’ll sleep better at night knowing you had that last moment together.”

Their food arrived a moment later and the two friends settled into a comfortable silence as they ate their breakfast.

 

****

 

After breakfast, Tyler returned home and sat on his sofa, absently playing a video game. Ever since he got back from breakfast, he’d been thinking about what Jacob had said. His mind went back and forth from one side to the other and just feeling confused about it. He had at one point believed that his father deserved a second chance, if that’s what he wanted. At the same time, he was worried that he’d give his dad that second chance only for him to throw it away. Why is it now, when he is sick and dying, that he wants to suddenly reconnect?

Maybe he’s just wanting forgiveness? If that’s the case, Tyler felt even less inclined to grant it to him. He missed out on so many years of his life. Those were important years. Years he could have used a father to be there for him. To answer the questions he couldn’t figure out. Add to all of that, he’d have to tell his dad that he’s gay. He couldn’t leave that out and lie to him. And that brought with it a whole new string of questions that had no clear answers.

He put the game down and turned it off. He sighed to himself, knowing that there was only one way to settle this. He picked up his phone and looked at the number that had called him weeks ago. He hadn’t received any other calls from him since that day. The thought that he might already be too late entered his mind and that spurred him to hit the call button and get this over with.

There was the awkward moment while the line was silent, attempting to connect, that Tyler felt as if he had made a stupid mistake. When the ringing started, he could feel his palms get sweaty, but he ignored it. This could be his last conversation with his father, and he wasn’t going to hold anything back.

The ringing stopped and the next thing he heard was his dad’s voice. But it was different. Dryer. Shaky. “Tyler? Is that you?”

He bit his lip as he sat up on the couch. “Uh... Ye… Ah… Yeah. Yeah, it’s me, Dad.”

“I was just thinking about you,” his dad said, sounding happier by the moment. “You only beat me by a few seconds. How are you?”

Tyler had a hard time believing that. “I’m doing okay,” he replied, feeling a little less uncomfortable. “I’m, ah… Just sitting around the house today. Thought I’d call and see how you’re doing.”

“I’m really glad you did.” There was a pause before he added, “I’ve really missed you, Tyler. I wanna hear about what you’ve been up too.”

Tyler swallowed hard and did his best to ignore the sting in his eyes. His father’s voice sounded so sincere. “Not much, to tell the truth. Just a lot of working.”

"Tyler,” his father said with a sigh, “don’t be like me. One of the reasons why I wasn’t there for you was because I spent all my time working instead of being with my family. I was doing what I thought was right, but in truth, I wasted too much time caring about my job instead of my family.”

He sat there, silent. This was in no way what he wanted to hear; he was more like his father than he knew. “What about you? How are things going with your… you know… cancer?”

“Well, some days are better than others,” he said with a tint of sadness in his voice.

“Has… there been any progress?” He wasn’t even sure how to phrase it. As difficult as it was talking to a father who he was estranged from, it was even worse that he was also… dying…?

“There’s no telling right now,” his dad replied with a more casual tone that Tyler figured he could have managed if their roles were reversed. “They’re giving me some pretty good stuff. Lost most of my hair. And, it gets lonely sometimes…”

“Lonely? What about Andrea?”

There was a hesitation before his father replied, “she’s… not comfortable with me being sick. So, she’s been kind of avoiding me. I know that might sound silly…”

Tyler spoke before thinking and his anger flared up. “Silly?! She’s avoiding you because you’re sick? Is cancer suddenly contagious and I’m just now hearing about it?”

“It’s alright, Tyler,” his father said before he could go any further. “Your aunt Julie is keeping an eye on me. She’s just not here right now, is all.”

“Well, alright then,” Tyler mumbled.

“Look, I’m not really wanting to talk about me, son. I want to hear about you. Don’t tell me you just work and go home. I wanna hear about everything. Are you dating anyone? What kind of friends do you have?”

Tyler thought about it for a moment and decided to just let it all out. “Well, I’m not really ‘dating’ anyone right now. Just someone I’ve been spending time with. And, just to be quick and get this over with, his name is Alex.” There was a moment of silence between them. “So, yeah. I’m gay.”

Tyler figured that that was the end of it. His dad was going to reject him again. “Tyler, I have something I need to confess to you.” His dad’s voice sounded odd. “If you were trying to kill me, you’re out of luck. Your mom already tried that the first time I called her and I’m still here.”

Tyler sat back staring in confusion. “I’m serious. It’s not just a joke me and Ma thought up. I’ve sucked dick and everything.”

An unidentifiable sound came out of the phone. It was loud and raucous and made Tyler remember being a child again and hearing that sound. It was his Dad’s laughter. “Okay, okay, okay,” his dad finally choked out. “I don’t need details. Your mom already told me, like I said. And, I thought about it for awhile and decided that I don’t really care. Your sex life is yours and if you’re happy, then that’s fine.”

Another silence followed but it was Tyler who finding it hard to speak. For some reason, he had just automatically assumed that once his dad heard about him being gay, that it would all be over, and he could go back to his life. He sat there as his mind started to re-think everything he thought he knew about his dad.

“Ty? You okay? I hope I didn’t kill you. Man, that would be irony at this point…”

Tyler managed to snap himself out of his fugue and focus on his dad’s voice. “Oh. Well, ah… No. I wasn’t trying to kill you or anything. I just wanted to be upfront and honest with you.”

“It’s okay, Tyler. Really.” His dad’s voice seemed warmer than it was when they first started talking. “Now, with that out of the way, tell me about this guy who you’re just spending time with.”

“Well… I dunno. There isn’t much to tell. He’s a nice guy. I just don’t know if he’s as interested in me as I am in him.”

“What do you like so much about him?”

Tyler had to stop and think. “I like his personality. He’s fun to be with. He likes to cuddle when we’re alone. I really can’t put it into words. He just… makes me happy.”

“Does he do anything special for you?”

“Not really. He doesn’t have much. And he lives out on a farm. He works as a mechanic here in town.”

“Okay. If he makes you happy, I’d say just have fun with him. Just remember, you’re young and have your whole life ahead of you to find someone you want to share it with. Don’t plan to settle down with this guy unless he gives you a real good reason too.”

Tyler smiled despite himself. “I’ll try to keep that in mind.”

His dad chuckled softly. “Yeah. My dad tried to tell me the same thing. I didn’t listen to him either. Twice.”

“Hey, ah… while we’re on the subject. Why did you and Ma divorce?”

Phillip sighed. “It’s complicated. We loved each other for a long time but after a while, we both decided it wasn’t enough. Basically, we loved each other, but we weren’t in love with each other.” Tyler sat and digested that, not sure what else to say. “There’s a big difference. And besides, I did it again only worse the second time around. I should’ve never married Andrea. That’s something I’ll have to live with. Well, for however long I got left.”

Tyler frowned. “Dad. How bad is it, really? With your cancer?”

There was a long pause before he heard his dad’s tone soften. “It would be really great if you could come visit soon.”

“I’ll… see what I can do.” Suddenly, the idea of his dad dying was something he wasn’t wanting. Or unsure of how to prepare for. “In the meantime, maybe we can talk once a week on the phone? There’s still a lot to catch up on.”

“That sounds like a great idea,” his dad said. “Right now, I should probably lay down. I’ve been getting tired a lot lately. Probably the drugs they got me on.”

“Then I’m gonna let you go so you can rest.”

“Okay then. I love you, son. I’ll talk to you soon.”

Tyler felt a catch in his throat he had to clear before he said quietly, “I’ll talk to you soon.” He hung up the phone and set it down. He wasn’t sure what he was feeling about his dad now. But he decided that calling him ended up being a good decision. He laid down on the couch and closed his eyes to nap until Alex came back from work.

 

****

 

As he reached for the “Raisin Bran” on the shelf, Tyler heard Alex’s subtle click of annoyance. He stopped, for the third time in five minutes and looked at Alex irritably. “Something wrong?”

Alex frowned at him. “Is that all you’re getting for cereal?”

“What did you have in mind,” Tyler asked him pointedly.

Alex reached over a pulled two boxes of “Cocoa Puffs” and put them in the basket. “There.”

This had been an ongoing theme during their Sunday grocery shopping trip. Tyler would pick out something on a shelf and Alex would look either indifferent or frown. He thought the two of them going together would make the trip easier, but it was turning into a laborious task. Alex wasn’t being critical exactly. But shopping on his own was a job Tyler had only just started doing for the last month and was still getting used to it. He always thought he had done pretty well making the small decisions on his own. But with Alex along with him, it was making him second guess himself more often than not.

He managed to get eggs, milk and some produce without much fuss. “How long have you been doing this,” Alex asked him as he walked two steps behind him.

“Since Ma moved out,” he replied. He didn’t want to look back at him. Alex seemed to be wanting to give the impression they just happened to be going in the same direction in the store instead of being there together. Alex had a shopping basket on his arm and had a few random items in it.

“That’s not a long time,” Alex remarked. There was a subtle tone in his voice that made Tyler feel like he was doing it all wrong.

“Well, I’m still learning,” he replied. It sounded like an excuse in his ears and it wasn’t a very good one. But he was still holding onto the good feeling he had since he talked to his dad the day before. Alex had been in a good mood when he got off work and they had a great time at the bar the night before. They got back to Tyler’s place and ended up having some half-drunk mostly one-sided sex. Tyler was too drunk to care much, and he passed out, not waking up until nearly noon. It’s the first time he could remember since being a teenager that he wasted an entire morning and, in his eyes, the rest of the day.

“Keep learning,” Alex muttered.

Tyler sighed and decided to let it drop. Alex wasn’t in a good mood for some reason and he was learning it was best to just ignore it and wait for it to pass. He went down the aisles, getting the things on his list he kept in his hand. Alex stayed behind him as they went from one aisle to the next. Halfway through the store, he slowed his steps and saw Jacob standing a few feet away, picking out packages of hot dogs. Tyler could already see his cart was half full of food. “Jacob,” he said as he stepped closer. He resisted the urge to look behind him at Alex.

When Jacob turned to look at him, Tyler stopped. It was Jacob, but he looked so different from when he saw him the day before. Gone was his usual shining eyes and small smile he usually had when they saw each other. Now, the eyes were dull and clouded and his face had been wearing a scowl that only slightly improved as he looked at Tyler and then back to the selection of hot dogs he had been looking at. “Hey.” Even his voice sounded dull, as if someone had taken a part of him.

“Is everything alright?” Tyler came up to him and put a hand on Jacob’s arm. He was a little surprised when he felt his arm tense up as if he was about to jerk it away from him. “Is… Is there any news about David?”

“What? Oh.” Jacob seemed to rally. Trying to look more like himself, but it was still a vague shadow of who Tyler had known him to be. “Good news, actually. The doctors figured out what was wrong with him and they got him some medication. He’s supposed to be home tomorrow.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Tyler said sincerely. He looked closer at Jacob as he asked, “you seem out of sorts. Is there anything else wrong?”

Jacob sighed. “It’s… it’s nothing. Just…” He seemed to be deciding what to say before he looked behind Tyler’s shoulder. “Who’s that?’

Tyler turned and found Alex behind him with a blank face as he watched the two of them talk. “That’s Alex. A guy I know.” That felt awkward, but Alex hadn’t wanted him to be out with their relationship, whatever that was exactly. “Seriously, though. You look like you haven’t slept in a week and I just saw you yesterday.”

Jacob’s eyes went from Alex to Tyler, glancing back to the taller man warily. “I got a surprise yesterday after breakfast.” Jacob leaned in closer and said softly, “David’s son is here. Staying at the house.”

Tyler’s eyes widened slightly as he understood the significance of that. “Oh. I’m sorry… I guess. You don’t seem to be happy about it, that’s for sure.”

Jacob grimaced slightly. “I dunno what to do. He’s some big lawyer now. I’m just a guy. And… with our history…”

“Sounds like you got a second chance…” Tyler said.

“What?”

“Like you told me yesterday,” he explained. “I called my dad. We talked for a while. We had a pretty decent time. I took your advice. Seems to have paid off for me. Maybe you should give it a shot yourself.” Inwardly, he couldn’t help but hope Jacob wouldn’t. If this guy makes Jacob look and feel this miserable, he doesn’t deserve him.

Jacob managed a small smile. “That’s what I get for repeating advice from my therapist. I gotta get the rest of the food for the house and head home. Are you still on for Tuesday?”

Tyler nodded. “Sure.”

“Andy texted me a little bit ago and said we’d be having a party at the house to celebrate David coming home. You’d be welcome to join, if you wanted.”

Tyler thought about it and decided it wouldn’t be something he’d want to attend if that guy was going to be there. He also noted David was suddenly just David to Jacob and not “Dad” like he had been. “I’ll think about it. I should get moving and get this stuff home. Call me if you want.” Tyler gave him a shy wave before walking away.

The next corner he turned, Jacob was out of sight and Alex was breathing in his ear. “Who the hell was that?”

“My friend Jacob,” he said casually. “Why?”

“Just a friend though?” To Tyler’s ears, Alex sounded jealous.

“Yes. Just a friend. Why?”

Alex glanced behind himself and muttered. “Because he’s fucking hot.”

Tyler chuckled and nodded. “Yeah. Hotter than me?”

Alex snorted. “Not even in the same league.”

Tyler turned his head and glared up at Alex. “What is wrong with you? Why are you talking shit like that?”

Alex took a step back and frowned at him. “Jesus. Calm down. It was a joke, Ty. Calm down.”

Tyler wasn’t convinced but he didn’t press it. “Don’t call me Ty.”

He shook his head and muttered. “Fine. Whatever. Doesn’t matter anyway since I’m just a guy you know.”

Tyler’s cheeks burned in embarrassment and he picked up his pace to get this shopping trip over with. Nothing was said between the two of them the rest of their trip to the store and back home.

 

****

 

Drake was wiping down the bar on a very slow Sunday evening at The Steel Door. He’d been quiet most of the evening while he was there. Anyone who came up to the bar got his usual charming smile and pleasant demeanor, but his heart just wasn’t in it tonight. He’d been dating a guy for weeks now and last night they broke up. Drake wasn’t going to blame it on something Brad had done or something that was said, but the truth was his heart just wasn’t in it. Brad didn’t make him feel the way he wanted to feel. He was a nice enough guy, but there was just that one intangible quality in their relationship that was always missing.

His mind had dwelled on it and he’d wanted to talk to Tyler about it but he still hadn’t responded to his text from late last night. He’d heard from Darcy, the weekend bartender, that Tyler had been here playing pool and getting drunk so much so that he and the guy he was with was getting noticed by the other patrons. While they hadn’t been boisterous or caused any trouble, Darcy dropped enough subtle hints to let him know he should talk to Tyler the next chance he got. He hoped it would be soon.

“Could I get an amaretto stone sour, please?”

Drake looked up, not noticing a customer had sat at the bar. He was a nice looking guy. He guessed he was in his mid-twenties and had a west coast look about him with the well groomed hair and the nearly perfect tanned skin. Drake smiled his usual charming smile and replied, “sure thing.” He set about making the drink and watching the guy out of the corner of his eye. While he certainly had the looks, he also looked bummed out with a combination of boredom and disappointment on his face. “Here you go. That’ll be four bucks.”

The man handed him a gold American Express card which made Drake’s eyebrow arch. That wasn’t something he saw around here, much less being used at a bar. “Want me to run you a tab?”

“Sure,” the guy said dismissively. “Not sure I’ll be here long, though.”

“Sounds like your weekend hasn’t worked out very well,” Drake commented casually. “Don’t think I’ve seen you here before. I’m Drake. I’m here on Sunday and Monday nights.”

“Sean,” the guy replied. He looked around the sparsely populated room as if looking for someone. He obviously didn’t find who or what he was looking for and sighed, turning back to his drink.

“Meeting someone tonight, Sean?” He kind of felt bad for the guy, looking lost and lonely. He ran the card and it approved almost instantly.

“Probably not,” Sean replied, staring blankly at his drink.

Drake handed his card back. “Well, if you got stood up, that’s a shame. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen it and probably not the last.”

“I wouldn’t put it that way,” Sean said dryly. “Can’t be stood up if they don’t know you’re interested.”

“Oh… Haven’t told them?”

Sean shrugged. “Not in so many words. I tried to ask him out, but I think it went over his head.”

Drake wasn’t used to a stranger in a small town openly stating he asked another guy on a date and things didn’t’ pan out. “Well, maybe you need to use a more direct approach.”

“I’m not so sure,” he said after taking a drink. “I think my problem is that he has a hang up about getting involved with guys he works with.”

Drake nodded his head slightly. “Sounds like that could be a challenge. Where do you work?”

“Adams’s,” he replied with a shrug.

Drake had the good sense not to let his eyes fall out of his head. He kept his composure and tried to be subtle with his next question. “Must be something special if he’s caught your eye this bad.”

Sean smirked as he stared at his glass. “I think so. He’s kinda cute but it’s not just his looks. He’s got this thing about him. One second you think he’s got life all figured out and the next, he seems like this innocent kid. He talks about baseball at work all the time. Huge Pirates fan.”

Drake nodded. “Guys like that, you don’t find just anywhere.”

"Not really, no.” He took a final drink and pushed the glass in front of Drake.

“Maybe, you just need to be patient with him. Give him time to get used to you.” Drake took his glass and made him another, placing the new glass in front of him.

Sean shrugged. “Hope so.”

 

****

 

Tyler sat on his couch, looking at Alex across the room. “I don’t get what you’re so pissed about.”

Alex glared at him, not bothering to hide his anger. “You told your friend I was just a guy you knew. Like we haven’t been seeing each other for a month.”

Tyler had been having this discussion not long after they got back to his house. “But—”

“Like I was nothing to you or something.”

Tyler couldn’t help but feel confused. Alex had told him he didn’t want to be outed. That he understood. When he didn’t out him, he got mad. “What was it you wanted me to do?”

“’Hey, this is my boyfriend, Alex.’ How hard is that?”

“I’m sorry,” Tyler said, wanting to get this behind them.

“It’s a little late now,” he growled.

Tyler sighed and looked down at the floor. He thought he was doing the right thing. He didn’t understand what it was he did that was so wrong. “Okay. I know it’s hard being gay. I’m just not used to this. I should have said something, and I didn’t.”

“Oh, my God, you’re so stupid,” Alex yelled. “I’m not gay. I’m bi!”

Tyler winced. “I’m sorry.”

“Fine,” he muttered. “I wanna know something though.”

“What?” Tyler felt like a squirming child who had been caught doing something wrong he didn’t understand was wrong.

“That guy you were talking too. How long have you known him?”

Tyler shrugged, not understanding. “A little over a year now. Why?”

Alex shrugged. “You seemed real friendly with him. Did the two of you ever fuck?”

“No.” Tyler frowned. “We’re just friends.”

“I think you’d fuck him if you had the chance.” The corner of Alex’s lips raised up in a small sneer. “I bet he shot you down.”

Tyler’s face burned in embarrassment. “That’s not… that never happened. We’re friends. Shit, we had breakfast yesterday. He was upset about his… His… The guy he’s been living with since high school was in the hospital and it’s had him upset.”

“Oh, so they’re boyfriends,” Alex said.

“No!” Tyler shrieked. “He’s like a father to him. That’s all!”

“Whatever,” Alex said dismissively as he left the room and went into the back of the house. He returned with a backpack over his shoulder.

Tyler stood up, watching him and feeling his heart constrict. “Where are you going?”

“Home,” he replied as he opened the door. “No reason for me to be here, if I’m just a guy you know.” He stepped out and slammed the door behind him.

Tyler stood there stunned. He felt a sting in his eyes and an ache in his heart. It was only a couple days ago they were laughing and kissing and enjoying being together. They talked about living together and now, it was all over. Nothing that happened made sense. He had done what he thought was the right thing. Where did he mess up?

The ache in his chest didn’t abate as he shut off the lights in the house. He made his way into his empty bedroom and got ready for bed. But the turmoil in his heart and his head kept him up for hours before sleep finally claimed him.

Copyright © 2019 Jdonley75; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments



2 minutes ago, Marty said:

Wow, @Jdonley75! Two chapters in less than 24 hours! And it's not even my birthday for another six weeks or so! :thumbup:

Good news from the hospital about David. But sad to see the way Jacob is reacting about Kyle's return (yes, I know anyone who has read The Acquittal will already know how that finally pans out).

I'm glad Tyler spoke to his dad. He probably wouldn't have done but for the conversation he had with Jacob over breakfast. It seemed to go well enough. Maybe Tyler will actually visit him before the cancer takes him forever.

Seems Alex really isn't the one for Tyler. But Sean is definitely interested. Interested enough to actually turn up at The Steel Door hoping he might bump into him there. Drake obviously new it was Tyler that Sean was referring to. Kudos to him for not letting Sean now that. The one thing that worries (that may be to strong a word, really) about Sean is the mystery about him. Like the gold Amex credit card he has. I'd rather find out more about his background before I'd even consider making a decision as to whether to join the Team Sean camp that's bound to start up soon in these chapters comments. ;) 

+++

I'm amazed at the complexity you have managed to weave into this story (and the other one) without making it too complicated for your readers to follow. I really do look forward to every chapter posting. But I am aware that there will only be so many chapters. But please don't be in a rush to upload them all as quickly as you did the last two. I'll be sad in  way when this story finally does end...

The situation between Tyler and his dad and Tyler, Alex and Sean is going to last for awhile.  And Sean is definitely a mystery guy, isn't he...?

The complexity wasn't intended but when you try and portray a story with as much of a "real life" feel to it, it's going to get messy in some places because life is generally messy.  No one's life is 100% good or bad at any given time and I try and show that in the story to make them as real as possible.

The tale does end at some point (I think....)  so I will not be putting out any more chapters for awhile.  I figure three chapters in one week is enough to keep people satisfied for now. :)

But the others will come in time.  That much I promise you.

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2 minutes ago, Andre Delport said:

Don't like Alex - haven't felt good about him from the start. I'd say he's a prick, but then he couldn't be because pricks are useful. I think he's just sponging off Tyler's good nature! Hope Tyler dumps him. Sean's a better bet in my humble opinion. Loved the way Tyler turned Jacob's advice back at him.

Bare in mind, we don't know Alex all that well yet.  His feelings could be hurt or something.  Never know. 

I too loved how quickly Tyler turned the tables on Jacob.  Makes you wonder if Tyler may have had a hand in that conversation between Jacob and Kyle in chapter 12 of The Acquittal😏

In case you're wondering, that scene takes place right after Jacob finishes his shopping and goes back home. 

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14 minutes ago, Petey said:

So maybe Drake regrets letting Tyler go, Sean wants to start something and Alex is turning a bit sour, the road to true love doesn’t run very smooth.

Not usually, no. ;)

 

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Just wondering...when you finish this story, will you write a sequel to 'The Acquittal" that merges this story with it?

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I’m serious. It’s not just a joke me and Ma thought up. I’ve sucked dick and everything.”  

Funniest lines in the chapter.  It was a good conversation between Tyler and Mr. Brewer, if they are able to put what happened in the past and forge a real relationship, good for them, tho I still side eye him.

Alex and Andrea sound like they should be together;  It’s a legitimate chance since he’s bi.

Andrea leaving when the going got tough with her husband doesn’t sound surprising and it seems like Alex’s issues manifest themself by belittling other people, specifically people he’s dating (even tho he’s not out).  He can’t have his cake and eat it too-doesn’t want to acknowledge Tyler as his man but he is supposed to tell Jacob Alex is his boyfriend.  Alex is no bueno, definitely no bueno for Tyler. :no:

It can only be small town bartender duty that has Drake hearing about Sean pining over Tyler, smh. Drake has a great poker face, lol.  Does it bother him a little?  Even tho Sean seems like he would be an amazing boyfriend to Tyler (and I want them to have a chance), I’m still Team Drake.

Andy’s brush off of Tyler’s breakfast invitation because he was “having breakfast with a friend later” made me smileTyler had no idea that friend was had for late supper and a midnight snack the night before, lol!!!!

 I like seeing David’s illness and it’s aftermath from this perspective, you really caught lightning in a bottle with the Orchard Team.

Tyler is on a slippery slope to an abusive relationship if he doesn’t pay attention;  I’m concerned.

Oh and thank you for the new chapter....is the next one up yet?  😆 😬

(I’m figuring it worked last time)

Edited by FanLit
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55 minutes ago, FanLit said:

I’m serious. It’s not just a joke me and Ma thought up. I’ve sucked dick and everything.”  

Funniest lines in the chapter.  It was a good conversation between Tyler and Mr. Brewer, if they are able to put what happened in the past and forge a real relationship, good for them, tho I still side eye him.

Alex and Andrea sound like they should be together;  It’s a legitimate chance since he’s bi.

Andrea leaving when the going got tough with her husband doesn’t sound surprising and it seems like Alex’s issues manifest themself by belittling other people, specifically people he’s dating (even tho he’s not out).  He can’t have his cake and eat it too-doesn’t want to acknowledge Tyler as his man but he is supposed to tell Jacob Alex is his boyfriend.  Alex is no bueno, definitely no bueno for Tyler. :no:

It can only be small town bartender duty that has Drake hearing about Sean pining over Tyler, smh. Drake has a great poker face, lol.  Does it bother him a little?  Even tho Sean seems like he would be an amazing boyfriend to Tyler (and I want them to have a chance), I’m still Team Drake.

Andy’s brush off of Tyler’s breakfast invitation because he was “having breakfast with a friend later made me smile”, Tyler had no idea that friend was had for late supper and a midnight snack the night before, lol!!!!

 I like see David’s illness and it’s aftermath from this perspective, you really caught lightning in a bottle with the Orchard Team.

Tyler is on a slippery slope to an abusive relationship if he doesn’t pay attention;  I’m concerned.

Oh and thank you for the new chapter....is the next one up yet?  😆 😬

(I’m figuring it worked last time)

I loved that line.  I also get a sense that this boyishly polite Tyler is just a shell around a much more in your face man who's still waiting to come out.

Andrea is going to be an issue that comes up again later.  

Alex is going to be an issue that comes up again later.

(I'm really loving the whole "team Drake" "team Sean" "team Alex" stuff.  It's so cute.)

I think if Jacob hadn't met him for breakfast, Tyler would've been a little hurt by the brush off initially.  Once he finds out about Brian and, oh hey, yeah, this friend he's had for a year or more is actually gay and never said anything to him the entire time....!  Yeah..  that's gonna be a serious talk.

David's illness obviously hits all the boys hard, but Andy the hardest for some reason.  (Okay, gonna just finally say it out loud.  Andy is my favorite even though it looks like I'm putting him through hell.)

Tyler and Alex's relationship does seem.... odd.... Not sure if you're call it abusive...

You're welcome.  I was giggling and thinking about you as I was getting it ready to post.

(No, you will not receive a fourth this week) 😘

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26 minutes ago, Jdonley75 said:

Okay, gonna just finally say it out loud.  Andy is my favorite

Well now that you've opened the door.......how about Andy as the main focus of book 3 or perhaps a book 4?  He is just a fascinating character, and I think there's a lot more of his story that hasn't been told.  I enjoyed him in The Acquittal but (to me) he was just a supporting member. But  when I read Staying in the moment, I was hooked and became a big fan.  As always, a fantastic chapter Mr. Donley.  

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18 minutes ago, spyke said:

Well now that you've opened the door.......how about Andy as the main focus of book 3 or perhaps a book 4?  He is just a fascinating character, and I think there's a lot more of his story that hasn't been told.  I enjoyed him in The Acquittal but (to me) he was just a supporting member. But  when I read Staying in the moment, I was hooked and became a big fan.  As always, a fantastic chapter Mr. Donley.  

Hmmmm......  

Andy was a supporting character.  In the beginning, they were all supporting characters except for Kyle and Jacob.  It was halfway through writing it that the others really came alive.  Then I wrote "Staying in the moment," and I wish I had taken more time on it to do it right but there was enough there that I was able to get Andy to reveal all his secrets to me (which only just happened a couple days ago) and then he became character number 2 in this one.  He's going to get an ending (of sorts) in this book.  A third book is going to go back to Kyle and Jacob because... well.... 

Naw....  I'm not gonna tell you. 

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Ok, so Alex is a dick! Bet his change of attitude has everything to do with whoever he was texting when Tyler walked into the kitchen. Also seems like there's more to Sean than we think. Its funny that Sean is talking to Drake about a co-worker he likes, and Drake knows its Tyler! Lol! 

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2 minutes ago, jaysalmn said:

Ok, so Alex is a dick! Bet his change of attitude has everything to do with whoever he was texting when Tyler walked into the kitchen. Also seems like there's more to Sean than we think. Its funny that Sean is talking to Drake about a co-worker he likes, and Drake knows its Tyler! Lol! 

It could be anything, I guess.... 0:)

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2 minutes ago, Bill Christiansen said:

Something about Alex I just can't like. And I don't trust him either.

Possibly reminds you of someone from your past perhaps? :)

Just trying to be helpful.

(Really glad you're enjoying the story.)

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7 hours ago, Jdonley75 said:

Excellent question.

This is going to ultimately be a sequel when it's finished.  Up to this point, it was mostly background for Tyler's story to flesh him out.  This story is going to progress far beyond The Acquittal and past The Night Before Aaron's First Christmas and should come to a close a few months after that.  There will be a resolution for just about every character (mostly) that I think will satisfy everyone's curiosity.  If there is going to be a third book, it will likely take place many years later.  There might be a short story or two between the end of this and the beginning of a third book, but right now, my focus is on finishing this up, then take a break before conjuring up any new stories.

In all honesty, the idea that there was even going to be anything past the first book never occurred to me when I wrote it last year.

Jonathan, I can't remember in which chapters comments, you said something about a title foe the entire series - how about  'Tales from the Apple Orchard' or something similar.

The orchard is the one constant in all the chapters really.

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6 hours ago, Andre Delport said:

Jonathan, I can't remember in which chapters comments, you said something about a title foe the entire series - how about  'Tales from the Apple Orchard' or something similar.

The orchard is the one constant in all the chapters really.

It was in a profile update, actually I think I mentioned asking for opinions.  I think that's close to what I'm looking for.

(Anyone else who has an opinion, feel free to chime in)

Edited by Jdonley75
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13 minutes ago, Jdonley75 said:

It was in a profile update, actually I think I mentioned asking for opinions.  I think that's close to what I'm looking for.

(Anyone else who has an opinion, feel free to chime in)

I like Tales From The Apple Orchard. Every road the boys and their families take always leads them back to David and the orchard.

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1 hour ago, Jdonley75 said:

It was in a profile update, actually I think I mentioned asking for opinions.  I think that's close to what I'm looking for.

(Anyone else who has an opinion, feel free to chime in)

Or 'The Apple Orchard Chronicles' - maybe too old fashioned!

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