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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 - 24. Chapter 24

By the time dinner was over, everyone was in a much better mood. Tyler wouldn’t tell the others what exactly was said between the two of them, only hinting that he had the last word and Alex was officially out of his life. Everyone was happy for him and supportive, especially Andy who seemed somewhat relieved that Tyler sounded more upbeat than how he sounded earlier in the day. Troy and Jacob helped David to clean up the dishes and put everything away while the others moved to the living room while the boys played upstairs in Matt’s room.

“Oh, by the way,” Kyle said to Tyler, “be careful that you actually wear something to bed tonight. There’s an inquisitive and very outgoing four-year-old in the house who probably would be more than happy to come wake you up for breakfast in the morning.”

“Oh, that’s not just a Blake thing then,” Brian asked. “He’s constantly doing that.” He turned to Tyler grinning. “More often than not, I’m waking up seeing his face about two inches away from mine.”

Tyler chuckled and shook his head. “I definitely don’t want to have kids. Sounds like a nightmare.”

Kyle waved his hand dismissively. “Those are just the war stories parents tell. The payoff is everything else they say and do.”

Brian poked Kyle in the side causing him to yelp in surprise. Brian giggled at his reaction. “Sorry. Forgot how ticklish you are. What’s going on with Steph and the new baby?”

Kyle got an annoyed look. “Stephanie’s decided to be a little cheeky about it all. She’s decided that we aren’t allowed to go to any of her doctor’s appointments unless there is a problem. We don’t get pictures of the fetus and we aren’t allowed to call the doctor or anything.”

Brian got a devilish smirk on his face. “Okay… why?”

“Because she wants to keep us in suspense as to what the gender will be.”

Brian snickers. “I like her even more. When is she going to move in?”

Tyler’s ears perked up. “Isn’t the house going to get a little crowded?”

Kyle turned to Tyler and grinned. “Doubtful. We’ll have the new rooms done by then and it’ll just be five of us. She’ll be moving in just before the wedding. Due date is in October last I was told. We’re going to go get her and bring her here when it’s time.”

Andy entered the room and laid back sideways on the free couch, giving Brian a meaningful smirk. Brian went from his place next to Kyle and joined Andy, being wrapped in his arms almost immediately.

“Oh, yeah,” Kyle added, pointing at Tyler, “don’t let me forget. I found the lawyers who handled your dad’s will. They’re sending a copy of it here, so it should be here in a day or two.”

Tyler shrugged. “Okay. What am I supposed to do?”

“Well, brace yourself for any surprises that may come up,” Kyle replied. “There’s only another month or so before the estate should be settled. If need be, you’ll have to be there so you can claim your inheritance. But, unless there’s a problem, then the lawyers can likely take care of it.”

Tyler shrugged. “I can’t imagine there’s going to be a lot of stuff left over.”

Kyle shrugged. “You never know. We’ll figure it all out in a couple days.”

“Meanwhile…” Brian interjected. “Is Stephanie coming to the wedding?”

“Of course,” Kyle said. “She better, after what she pulled.”

Andy raised an eyebrow in curiosity. “Pulled?”

Brian shook his head with a smirk but said nothing as he leaned back against Andy. “Long story. And not mine to tell.”

Kyle rolled his eyes. “Once I talk to Jacob about it, it should be okay. I just don’t want him hearing it from anyone else.”

“Hear what,” Jacob asked as he came into the room and laid down on the couch, resting his head on Kyle’s chest.

Kyle looked around the room as if pondering for a moment before saying, “Stephanie sent an invitation to our wedding to my ex-boyfriend.”

“Okay,” Jacob replied. “What’s the big deal?”

Kyle shrugged. “Not really a deal at all. Just might feel a little awkward for me.”

“Is he cuter than I am,” Jacob asked as he tilted his head up to look up at him with a grin.

Kyle chuckled and leaned down to kiss him. “Definitely not.”

“He’s smarter than me, then.”

“No…”

Jacob shrugged his shoulders, totally unphased. “Then let him come and have fun with the rest of us.”

Tyler didn’t realize until just then he’d been smiling as he watched Jacob and Kyle interact in such an intimate manner in front him and the others. While it was possible that he was a little jealous, he couldn’t deny that Jacob was happier than he’d ever known him to be. For that, he could learn to get along with Kyle. But he was still on the fence about that.

Troy stepped in the doorway and stood there, staring. “Tyler? I need to have a word with you, in private.”

The other four started to make childish “ooohs” and muttering to themselves how much trouble Tyler was in all while chuckling and grinning as they watched Tyler get up and follow Troy down the hall.

Troy led him into what looked like an office space in the house with a leather sofa, two chairs and a large oak desk at the far end. A large picture window was pointed towards the back of the house and looked out into the orchard. If it hadn’t been dark, he was sure the view would have been stunning. He sat down and looked up at Troy, waiting to hear what he had to say.

Troy privately conceded that Tyler seemed to have adjusted to the changes in his life pretty quickly, considering everything that’s happened. But he wasn’t completely convinced Tyler was back to his old self. There was a new look in his eyes. Not better or worse. Just a new appearance of a man and not a boy anymore. “How are you feeling?”

Tyler shrugged. “Fine, for the most part. I got in a couple parting shots on my way out the door. It’s over as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t expect to hear from him again.”

Troy settled into a seat, watching Tyler’s face. “If that’s how you feel, then that’s fine. All I care about is that you’re going to be alright.”

“Is that all you wanted to know?”

“Mainly, but that’s not why I wanted to talk to you privately.” Troy leaned in, with a look in his eyes of a man who sees a goal and isn’t planning on letting it slip by. “I want you to come work for me again.”

Tyler sighed and shook his head. “Jacob needs help.”

“Not anymore,” Troy said with some confidence. “He needed help before Kyle moved back here because he was getting overwhelmed with running his shop, doing his share of work in the orchard for David and taking care of Matt. I don’t care what he says, he’s still new at being a full time parent. That kind of work load I wouldn’t wish on anyone. That’s the main reason why he hired you. But with Kyle home for good now, Jacob has him to care for Matt and help out with the rest.” His lips lifted in a small smile. “You wouldn’t be abandoning him if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“What about the guys at work who know I’m gay now,” Tyler asked.

Troy’s smile broke into a grin. “You think you’re the only one? Remember, Andy works for me too. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s one or two more that just aren’t comfortable saying it. Maybe, if there was someone working there who everyone knew and could see as an example… someone who isn’t afraid to be who he is and not care what people are saying about him. Someone with the strength to stand up for himself. Maybe, if they saw that kind of a man working alongside them, they wouldn’t be as fearful as they are now.”

Tyler gave him a dubious look. “I’m not looking to lead a revolution here.”

Troy chuckled. “I’m not asking you too. I’m asking you to come back and stand up to them and show them that you’re not afraid of them.” Troy watched him carefully before he finally added, “just so you know, we’re not leaving this room until I get a ‘yes’ out of you.”

Tyler laughed quietly. “You think you’re that good, huh?”

A ghost of a smile played on his lips as his eyes lit up a little. “Want me to play my trump card?”

“Oh, this should be good.” Tyler leaned back a little and got comfortable.

Troy’s looked at the floor for a moment, trying to be mindful of what to say and how to say it. “If you were to come back, you would always work with Andy, no matter what. And the reason for that is… well, despite how he looks today, right now, he hasn’t been doing so good the last couple months.”

The humor in Tyler’s face evaporated. “What’s wrong?”

“You’re aware he suffers from PTSD? Well, he’s been having a hard time dealing with it lately. He was in the hospital overnight a couple weeks ago.” He held up a hand to forestall Tyler’s questions. “He’s fine. Just had some bad medication that was screwing him up. But, that’s why I’d want you close to him at all times. I need someone to keep an eye on him and keep him safe for me. Someone who he’ll listen to and can take over if he started having a breakdown on a job site.”

“I… I wouldn’t know what to do,” Tyler stuttered. “I’m not qualified to… I don’t even know what to call it.”

“You are qualified to be his friend,” Troy insisted. “And that is what he needs. Someone who cares about him as much as the rest of us do. I can’t tell him he can’t work because he might suddenly have a flashback or a bad reaction to whatever medication he’s on.”

Tyler looked at Troy with real concern in his eyes. “How bad is it now?”

“Now? He’s fine. But he had a horrible reaction to Brian’s father showing up and it took us awhile to talk him down from that and start to get real help. He’s been going to meetings for PTSD vets once a week. He’s started to show some improvement, but…” Troy’s words faltered for a moment before he recovered. “You need to understand something, Tyler. Andy isn’t just my friend. He’s my brother. I grew up with him. Except for the years he was in the service and I was in college, we haven’t really been apart. I can’t risk losing him. The only solution is if you come back and work with him. I know just seeing you there will make it easier on him.”

Tyler realized he really didn’t have an option in this. If he was Andy’s friend, then he had to do the right thing. “Okay,” he said with a nod. “I’ll come back. Whenever you want me too.”

Troy exhaled in relief and smiled. “Thank you. You’re not just doing this for me…”

“…No, I’m doing it for Andy too.” If the situation didn’t seem so serious, Tyler would have rolled his eyes.

“And for the rest of us,” Troy added.

“So,” Tyler said as he got to his feet, “which one of us is going to tell Jacob?”

Troy smirked as he stood. “I already did.”

Tyler rolled his eyes. “Overconfidence is going to bite you in the ass one of these days. Eventually you’re going to meet your match.”

Troy laughed as he headed to the door. “Already did. And I married her.”

 

****

 

“So, what was the big deal about your ex coming,” Jacob asked after Troy and Tyler exited the room.

Kyle shrugged. “I dunno. Just feels weird.”

“He’s nervous because Kyle was an asshole to him,” Brian offered with a mischievous grin. “Which probably means he was a sweet kid and Kyle broke his heart in two.”

Kyle shot Brian a nasty look. “I was getting to that part…! But, yes, I wasn’t the nicest person to him, and in hindsight, I realize that now and I feel bad about it.”

“When’s your appointment this week,” Jacob asked him.

Kyle gave him an annoyed glower. “Thursday.”

“Good. I don’t want you worrying yourself to death over this.” Jacob smiled up at him. “You can’t do anything about what you did. Maybe if he wants one, you should apologize if you haven’t already. Beyond that, I think he’s part of your past and we already talked about leaving all that behind us now. Right?”

Kyle smiled reluctantly at first, but it brightened as he stared down at his soon-to-be husband. “Alright.”

“What’s the guy’s name,” Andy asked as he cuddled closer to Brian.

“Jason,” Kyle replied.

“Oh,” Jacob said as he sat up a little more. “So, do you have some sort of fetish for guy’s whose names start with ‘J’ or something?”

Kyle snickered. “No.”

“I bet he does,” Brian added with a smirk. “We know about Jason but he probably broke hearts all over campus with guys like Jeffery, Jack, Josiah…”

Andy grinned and joined in. “Don’t forget about poor John, Jace and Jerry.”

Kyle giggled and waved his hand. “No… There was only the one guy.”

“That you dated at least,” Jacob said with a smirk. “I bet the second you met a guy on campus and heard his name was Josh or Jeremiah you got a little turned on.”

“Shut up, dork,” Kyle chuckled as he leaned down and kissed him on the lips, all of them sharing a relaxing laugh together.

David walked into the room as their laughter started to abate. He smirked a little and looked at all four of them before taking a seat in his old recliner. “You guys picking on him?”

“What was your first clue,” Brian asked.

“The laughing.” He settled back and noted the absences. “Where are they?”

“In the back, talking,” Jacob said. “Troy’s making him go back to work with him.” His eyes went from David to Andy and back.

David nodded. “Would be best for him. So, what were you guys piling on Kyle about?”

“His ex is coming to the wedding,” Brian informed him. “And he’s all bent about it.”

“His ex isn’t the one he needs to worry about,” David said with a small smirk. “It’s his mom that’ll steal the show.”

Andy started to chuckle. “Oh, God. I haven’t seen her in a dog’s age. Think we were still in grade school last time she came to visit.”

“I don’t think I even met her,” Brian said.

Kyle shrugged. “I think I was fifteen last time I went to spend a month with her over the summer. After that, it was mostly just phone calls until I went into law school. Haven’t heard from her since I moved back.”

“Well, she’s coming,” David said with a meaningful look at his son. “So, you’d better be ready and put your best foot forward.”

Jacob sat up, feeling a little confused. “I thought you didn’t really know your mom.”

“In some ways, that’s true,” Kyle conceded. “She just lives a different life. She wanted me to come live with her when I started getting close to high school, but I didn’t want to leave my friends.”

“So, what’s she like?”

“What I remember of her is a blonde lady with a big smile, big hair and a big attitude,” Andy said. “She was awesome. As long as you were on her good side.”

Jacob looked at Kyle who smirked. “I remember a big house with a swimming pool. Her husband was nice. Didn’t see him much, though. Mom sold houses, I think, when I was a kid.”

“Where?”

Kyle’s cheeks blushed a little as he said, “Malibu.”

Jacob blinked. “As in, Malibu, California?”

“She’s not there anymore,” David said. “Isn’t even married to that guy anymore. They divorced… hell… twelve years ago, I think.”

“She’s on her third marriage now,” Kyle asked curiously.

David shook his head. “Fourth.”

“How do you know all this,” Brian asked David. “I thought you guys divorced back in the Paleolithic era.”

David gave Brian an exasperated look. “For your information, it was the Neolithic era, and just because we divorced doesn’t mean we don’t stay in touch.”

Jacob suddenly felt concerned. “What should I do when I meet her?”

David smirked and shook his head. “Don’t stress yourself over it. Just be yourself and that’ll be enough. I’ve told her enough about all of you already that she seems impressed.”

“Is she going to be staying here while she’s in town,” Kyle asked.

David frowned a little. “Not sure if she wants to lower herself to that level, but it may come to it.”

“Lower herself,” Jacob said.

David shrugged helplessly. “She’s been living in California for a long time now. She’s pretty much assimilated to the life there. She’s currently married to a rich Hollywood type. Talent agent or something like that, I think. Oh, and Brian, you have met her but only for a few minutes. She was at Emily’s funeral when you boys were kids.”

Brian shrugged. “I had other things on my mind.”

David nodded. “Speaking of…” They all went silent as they heard footsteps coming down the hall until Tyler and Troy came into the room and sat down.

Everyone watched as they sat down together on the only empty couch in the room. After a few seconds of silence, Jacob finally was the first to speak. “So?”

Troy simply said, “he’s on board. He’ll start back next week. You can have him here for the rest of this week. After that, he’s on my payroll. Andy too.”

“Hey,” Andy said. “I’m on leave of absence.”

Troy smirked. “I know. How’re you feeling?”

“Better than usual,” he replied.

“Beating up on an asshole can really lift the spirit, huh,” Tyler said with a small smirk on his lips.

“And don’t you dare go running off like that ever again,” David warned with just a hint of a smile behind his trimmed beard.

“Yes, sir,” Andy replied even as he cuddled closer to Brian.

“I should get the boys and head home,” Troy said. “Carter and I will be back tomorrow morning to continue the work once I get Chase to school and make sure Emily and Liz are alright. I think we got the contractors coming tomorrow to start running the water and electric lines. Once the wiring is done, we can start putting in the interior walls.”

Jacob nodded. “Have a good night.”

Troy went upstairs to get his sons and they all said their goodbyes together before departing. Matt, Blake and Tanner came downstairs soon after. Tanner went to sit next to Tyler while Blake climbed up onto his dad and Matt did likewise with Jacob and Kyle.

“You should come see the new room we get to play in,” Tanner said to Tyler as he smiled up at him.

Tyler smiled back. Tanner wasn’t the most outgoing kid most of the time but when he was it was always genuine. “I think I can find time to come over. How are things with your dad and Brian?”

The boy shrugged. “It’s not bad. Brian is helping me with tests and stuff.”

“Sounded to me like you were smart enough already without any help,” Tyler commented.

“This is harder stuff. But he makes it fun.”

Tyler nodded. “I see. Well, I’m sure you’ll do fine.”

“Okay boys,” Andy said as he finally got up. “Time to go home and get cleaned up for bed.” The proclamation was met with whines and protests by the three children in the room which brought a bigger smile to his face. “Yeah, yeah. Not like we won’t be back tomorrow anyway.”

Tanner got off the couch and surprised Tyler by giving him a hug. “Good night.”

Tyler smiled brightly as he hugged the boy back. “See you later, kiddo.”

Andy looked down at Matt who smiled up at him happily. On impulse, he effortlessly picked the boy up to hug him which was immediately reciprocated. “Sweet dreams, little man.”

Matt smiled and gave Andy a kiss on the cheek before he was let back down on his feet. Not long after, the house became quieter with Andy and Brian gone. Kyle took Matt upstairs for his bath and a bedtime story, leaving the others behind. Tyler felt a little weird about staying there, but at the same time, it was comforting. He felt a little foolish for thinking he’d been alone all this time while dealing with Alex. If he had relied more on David or had real faith in his friendships, he could have stopped a lot of things from happening.

“Tyler,” David said after a few minutes. “I’m wondering after all the times you were here over the last few months, why you never once said anything about what was going on with your boyfriend?”

Tyler sighed. “I don’t really have a good excuse. I should have said something but… I don’t know. I just wanted it to work. I realize now I was more in love with the idea of having someone there with me than really looking at the situation for what it was.”

“It’s not your fault, Tyler,” Jacob said.

“Yeah, it was,” he replied bluntly but with a small smile. “I’ve gotten so used to dealing with my problems over the years by myself, it’s hard for me to admit I’m in over my head. Anyway, it’s in the past now. And I appreciate all your help, sir. Even if maybe I didn’t deserve it.”

David nodded. “I understand. But, next time you’re in a bind, say something. You’re not alone anymore.”

Seeing the sincere look on David’s face affected him deeply enough that he had to look down at the floor to keep his eyes from watering. “Thanks.”

A little while later Kyle returned to the living room and retook his place next to Jacob. Tyler glanced over at them and realized there was something important he had to do. “I need to make a call,” he said as he stood.

“A private call,” David asked.

Tyler nodded a little. “Something like that. And then I’m going to turn in for the night. It’s been a hell of a day. Have a good night.”

The others nodded and wished him a goodnight as he left the room and headed upstairs to the bedroom David gave him. It was a pretty sparse room and he wasn’t so sure he liked the idea that it was right next to Jacob and Kyle’s room, but it was either that or the room across the hall from Matt.

Tyler quietly closed the door and moved to sit on the bed. He stared at his phone for a moment, feeling a little hesitation. It had been months since he heard from him. He had no idea that Alex had taken so much of his freedom from him. It made him feel so foolish. But he could blame himself later. Right now, he wanted to hear from his friend.

He laid back on the bed as the phone rang quietly in his ear. On the third ring, he heard a momentary pause before a familiar voice carried into his ear. “Tyler? Where have you been!?” Drake’s voice was full of concern for him. “I’ve tried calling and texting, but I never heard back from you.”

Tyler felt his eyes well up hearing his friend’s voice that was devoid of any of the animosity or indifference he half expected to hear after months without a word. “It’s a long story. My… my ex was screwing with my phone and we just found out about it today…”

“Are you alright,” Drake asked. “You sound upset.”

“He wasn’t what I thought he was going to be.” The admission seemed to hurt more than he thought it would. Tyler could feel his eyes getting more wet as he remembered how good it had all started last summer. He couldn’t manage to keep a boyfriend for a year without it blowing up in his face.

“I’m sorry, Tyler. I really am.”

“I’m sorry too,” he replied. “I didn’t really realize what he was doing until it was too late. And even then, it took a few other people to help me realize the truth.”

There was a pause before Drake’s voice came back, sounding cautious about the subject he was coming too. “He didn’t hurt you, did he?”

Tyler could feel a tremor starting in his lower lip. “Yeah. But I’ll be okay.”

Drake’s caring was on full display in his voice. “Do you want me to come over? I could bring you back to my place for the night.”

He chuckled a little hearing that. “Actually, I’m not home. I’m staying with Jacob and his… well, his family, I guess.”

“Oh. Well, good. I don’t want you to be alone. Maybe tomorrow I’ll stop by. Do you wanna talk about what happened?”

“Not yet.” Talking about it and thinking about it was bringing back the tears again. He wiped his eyes and tried to stay strong. “Maybe some time later. After he’s gone for good.”

“Where is he now?”

“He’s at the house. Hopefully packing. He has until morning to be packed up and gone for good. Dunno where he’s going to end up though.”

“Tyler, if he hurt you, then it doesn’t matter where he ends up. What matters is that he never gets to hurt you again.”

“Yeah, well, he got what he deserved.” Tyler laid in the bed, focusing on Drake and nothing else for the moment. “Got the shit beat out of him by Andy. Then… well, I felt like I had to say something to him. To make sure he knew he wasn’t coming back.”

“I’m sorry he hurt you. Is there anything you need me to do?”

“Just… be my friend.”

“That’ll be easy enough.”

The familiar voice and the feelings it brought back, gave his heart an ease he hadn’t had in a long time. He settled onto the bed and spent the next hour just talking and catching with his friend.

 

****

 

After the boys were put to bed, Andy went walking through the kitchen to grab a drink. Brian was getting ready for bed and he should be to, but he felt energized with a kind of buzz going through his body. The last thing he felt like doing was sleeping. A smirk was constantly playing on his lips since he beat the crap out of that bastard pretending to be Tyler’s boyfriend. The second he heard about what he had done to Tyler, his friend, it wasn’t even a choice as to what he had to do. No one was going to harm one of his friends like that. He was lucky Andy pulled his punches and knew better than to do what he felt like doing. As much as he hated the guy, he wasn’t worth losing everything over.

He grabbed a soda and drank half of it in a few seconds. There was no way he was going to be able to sleep feeling this good. It felt as if he’d just gotten his friend back after a long fight that he hadn’t known he was fighting, and he felt like celebrating. Upstairs, the sound of water running in their bathroom got an idea to come to him. Andy grinned to himself as he silently crept up the stairs and moved as quietly as he could into their bedroom, shutting the door behind him.

As he began to strip off his clothes, he imagined what Brian looked like right now in the shower and the buzzing feeling he was feeling started to focus inside him. A half-smirk lifted one side of his lips as he finished undressing and headed into the bathroom. Pushing the glass door aside enough to step in, he looked at Brian as his back was turned to him. His feelings for him were so intense in that moment he wasn’t sure how much control he had over himself.

Brian froze in place as he felt Andy’s body press up against his. He let his head lean back a little and enjoyed the feeling of those strong hands at the touched his hips before slowly running up his torso. “Are you sure it’s safe with you walking around the house with that gun you got pressed against my ass?”

Andy chuckled and kissed his neck. “The safety is on. You should know by now how good of an aim I have with it.”

“Yeah? What brought this on exactly?” Brian smiled and closed his eyes and Andy started to work his magic.

“I feel bad that it’s been awhile since we’ve done this,” he whispered softly in his ear. “I guess those meds I was on kind of screwed me up in a bunch of ways. But tonight, I’m feeling really really good, and I’m in love with you and I want us to fuck until we sleep in until noon.”

“Charmer,” Brian said with a small giggle. “How about until the boys have to be up and off to school?”

Andy made a rumbling noise in his throat but didn’t stop caressing Brian’s body. “Okay. But I get to dry you off and carry you to bed.”

“You think you can lift all this,” Brian asked with a laugh.

Andy smiled and continued to kiss his neck as he replied, “I feel so good right now, I could lift you over my head if I wanted too.”

Brian finally couldn’t stand it anymore and turned around so they could share a real, passionate kiss. It had been awhile since they had had a chance like this when there wasn’t some dark cloud hovering over Andy. But for some reason he looked, sounded and felt like his usual self and he wasn’t about to pass up this chance. “I hope we don’t break the bed,” he whispered after breaking their kiss.

“I’ll have Jacob make us a new one.” Andy reached around and turned the water off before holding Brian’s hand and stepping of the shower with him.

“On the off chance it happens, promise me I get to be there when you explain to him what happened.”

Andy grabbed a towel and began to dry Brian off before attending to himself. “Go get in bed,” he said before kissing him softly. “Make sure you lock the bedroom door first.”

Brian went into their bedroom while Andy finished drying himself off. Once he was done and the lights were off, he slowly slid under the covers until he was poised over Brian. “I’m so glad you’re my best friend.” Brian smiled before Andy’s head leaned in to kiss him the way only a best friend and lover could ever kiss.

 

****

 

Tyler woke up the next morning to the sound of the door slowly opening. He opened one eye and saw a familiar diminutive face peeking around the door, with eyes focused on him. Lifting his head up, he locked eyes with the boy and made a growling noise as he struggled to full awaken. “Who’s that sneaking up on me?”

“It’s me,” came the response as Matt slipped into the room, seemingly unconcerned about whether he was invited in or not. “You sleep good?”

He couldn’t stop himself from breaking into a smile. “Yes, I did, thank you. Is breakfast ready downstairs?”

“Yup! Daddy had me come get you.”

Tyler wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Mostly because he wasn’t exactly sure who Matt was referring too. “Well, you can head back downstairs and tell him I’m awake now. I’ll be down once I get dressed.”

“Okay!” Matt smiled, looking very pleased with himself and left the room to return to his dad. Tyler was left chuckling to himself. He couldn’t deny the fact that Matt looked very much like his dad and was probably going to end up being a lot like him someday. Whether that was a good thing or not, Tyler still wasn’t entirely sure of yet. He grabbed the change of clothes he brought with him and after a few minutes in the bathroom, cleaning up and making sure his hair wasn’t sticking up in several directions, headed downstairs to the kitchen where he heard Jacob and Kyle having a pretty serious sounding discussion.

“No.”

“What do you mean ‘no?’”

“I mean ‘no’, as in, ‘no way in hell.’”

Tyler walked into the room, seeing Kyle and Jacob sitting across from each other at the table. Matt was in his own seat with a little booster so the others could see more than just the top of his head and David was leaning up against the counter, sipping his coffee, watching the two of them with a mixture of amusement and curiosity.

“Why not,” Jacob asked in a kind of exasperation.

“Because, it’s taking things too far,” Kyle replied calmly. “I’ve let you have your way in just about every aspect, but in this case, I’m saying no and that’s not going to change.”

Tyler got a cup of coffee and stood next to David and asked in a quiet mutter, “are they fighting?”

David shrugged. “Something like that, I guess.”

“What about?”

David just chuckled and shook his head as Kyle dug his feet in, his eyes almost glaring at Jacob from across the table. “You asked my opinion on most of this and I’ve really just gone along with what you wanted.”

Jacob frowned as his blue eyes narrowed. “So, you don’t like it, is that what you’re saying?”

Kyle sighed and rolled his eyes. “No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that you have great taste and I’ve appreciated all the effort you’ve put into everything. But this is the line I will not cross.”

Jacob folded his arms across his chest and got what almost looked to Tyler like a scowl. “I still haven’t heard a good enough reason.”

Kyle shrugged and countered, “I would think it would be obvious.” He hid his lips behind his coffee cup as he stared across the table at his lover.

Jacob groaned, getting more annoyed. “Okay. Talk to me like I’m an idiot then and explain why you don’t want this.”

“Comfort,” Kyle replied simply.

“Comfort? The rest of the room isn’t comfortable then?”

Tyler looked up at David, totally lost as to what they were fighting about. The look on David’s face gave him the impression he was enjoying what was going on.

“Good God. Not everything has to be made out of wood, Jacob,” Kyle. “We’re not sleeping on a wooden mattress, I would hope.”

Jacob muttered mostly to himself, “bet I could do that…”

“I do not want to walk around on hard wood floors after a long day. And you won’t either.” He pointed a finger at him as he went on. “And you know you don’t. You’re just wanting to show off is all.”

“Am not.”

“Are too!”

The two of them locked eyes and silently stared at each other for nearly a minute before they both started to snicker. Jacob finally sat back in his chair and said, “fine. Carpet it is.”

Tyler blinked. “Carpet? You two were arguing about carpet?!”

Kyle snickered and shrugged. “It’s what we do. Mostly for fun. It makes us both laugh when we ‘fight’ over little things.”

“Okay. Weird.” Tyler shook his head and went to sit down at the table. “So, you guys fought about putting carpet in your rooms?”

“I still think the hardwood floors would look nice,” Jacob said.

Kyle shook his head. “They’ll make the room darker and after a long day being on your feet, you’re not going to want to stand or walk on another hard surface.”

“You still good with marble tile in the bathroom, though,” Jacob asked.

“Oh, hell yeah. That’ll look nice.”

Tyler rolled his eyes. “Now I see the mutual attraction you two have. You’re both nuts.”

David laughed and patted Tyler on the shoulder before getting to work preparing breakfast for the day ahead. He added pancakes to his usual routine of eggs, bacon and sausage. Conversation around the table was light-hearted and playful. Kyle and Jacob went out of their way to not discuss what happened with Tyler and his now ex-boyfriend opting instead to talk about the plans for what they will be doing with the new edition to the house that day and the contractors and other work they had planned.

They talked about the wedding and Tyler noticed how Jacob’s eyes would seem bluer, as they talked about the details and where they were going to have the reception. Their first idea had been to hold the reception there in the orchard, but that was cancelled because in the middle of July, the weather would make too warm to hold and outdoor reception. Tyler kind of felt bad for them but they were the ones who wanted to have a wedding in one of the hottest months of the year. David also commented about how he wasn’t wild on the idea out of concern for the trees.

Towards the end of breakfast, Kyle mentioned the moment Tyler was sort of dreading. “Don’t forget, we need to go over to Tyler’s place and make sure that guy is gone. I told him ten o’clock.”

Jacob nodded. “Think it would be best if Andy didn’t go. He seemed a little too wound up about it afterwards. Did you see the look on his face the rest of the day? Practically beaming. If it were anyone else, it would’ve given me the creeps.”

Tyler frowned slightly hearing that. “His heart was in the right place. Maybe he went a little too far, but he just…” Tyler was trying to find the right word. “He probably just felt like Alex had screwed him over to, ya know?”

Jacob sighed. “Well, still, I would rather he stay here. I’ll go over with you just in case.”

“I’m coming too,” Kyle added.

Tyler looked up from his plate at David who seemed to be quietly watching him. The look in his eyes gave Tyler the impression he was waiting for something. Tyler knew what he wanted and decided to give voice to it. “Guys, thanks for the offer, but I think I can handle this myself.”

The others were quiet for a moment, exchanging looks. David finally spoke up. “It’s his choice, boys. He has to do this in his own way.” His gazed fixed on Tyler again as he added, “as long as he remembers he’s not alone in whatever it is he’s going through.”

Jacob and Kyle exchanged one last look and shrugged. “It’s up to you,” Kyle replied. “If you change your mind, all you gotta do is say something.”

The matter was dropped, and breakfast was finished. David informed them he was going to take Matt, Blake, and Carter shopping for a few hours that day while the others worked on the house. They all knew the boys were getting more and more curious about what was going on as the work progressed, and before long they figured three overly curious four-year-old boys would be difficult to keep out from under foot as they got closer and closer to being finished.

An hour later, Jacob was in his workshop as Troy, Andy and half a dozen other men arrived and started getting to work. Tyler stuck close to Andy, already feeling like he needed to stay near him. Brian was spending the day with Kyle again, deep into the details of the wedding that would be coming sooner than anyone expected.

Talk was uneventful and Tyler noted Andy seemed to be like he remembered him months ago when he first found out about Brian. He was smiling and cracking jokes which set the tone for their day, giving Tyler a better sense of ease that things were going to work out.

As the morning wore on, they were both laughing and joking together which helped Tyler relax and forget about the other guys there on the job and how they all knew about him. It felt good just being able to be himself and not worry about what anyone else thought about him. Occasionally he would see a smile on Troy’s face as he watched the two of them together. It wasn’t a look of pride or conceit but of thankfulness that Tyler was being Andy’s friend and nothing more.

Eventually, the time arrived, and he knew what he had to do. “Hey, I need to go run over to my place,” he said casually to Andy as they finished up securing the paneling onto one of the outer walls.

Andy’s face got serious for a moment as he asked, “you want me to go with you?”

Tyler could tell informing Andy he was going alone might not be a great idea, but he also didn’t want to make Andy feel like he was his appointed bodyguard. “It’s cool. Kyle said he’d go with me. Keep up the pace here and I should be back in half an hour or so.”

Andy seemed to almost protest, but he nodded, showing his trust in him. “Okay. I’ll see you when you get back.”

Tyler smiled. “Sure thing.” As he walked away, he sighed, wishing Kyle’s name hadn’t been the first to come out of his mouth. Now he would have to actually take him along. He still didn’t like Kyle. Or at least didn’t think of him as a friend. He knew he didn’t have any good reason for it. Jacob seemed happy and everyone else seemed overjoyed to have him back. But Tyler saw him as a change in his relationships with the others. He wasn’t exactly sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing. All he knew was things were changing and he wasn’t sure how it was all going to end.

He went up the ramp and into the house where Kyle and Brian were sitting at the kitchen table talking. As soon as he closed the door behind him, they both looked up at him as he stood there. The looks on their faces were solicitous with no sign that they were unhappy about being interrupted in whatever they were doing and were just waiting to hear what he had to say. “It’s time. I told Andy I would take you with me so he wouldn’t think I needed help or anything.”

Kyle exchanged a look with Brian who smiled. “Okay, then. Let’s go.” Kyle got up from his seat and followed Tyler out the door. “Do you want me to drive?”

Tyler shook his head. “Naw. I’d rather do the driving. Besides, I don’t wanna misplace my bat.”

“Your bat?” Kyle went around and into the passenger side as Tyler started up the truck.

“Yeah. Behind my seat.” Tyler pulled out and headed off towards his house. He suddenly realized the awkward position he had put himself in. “Sorry for putting you out.”

“Don’t apologize,” Kyle replied. “None of this is your fault.”

Tyler frowned. “It’s all my fault. I should’ve known better.”

“There’s no way you could have anticipated he would be this abusive.” Kyle got a far away look in his eyes as he added, “you’d be surprised what stupid things love can make you do.”

“Yeah, like dumping a guy who loved you just because he’s an alcoholic.” The unfiltered thought came out of his mouth so fast he was almost appalled with himself. An oppressive silence filled the space between them. Tyler knew he should apologize but anything he said would be disingenuous. While he hadn’t meant to make the comment, he felt it was the truth and didn’t care if it bothered Kyle.

When he got to the house, Alex’s car was missing. Tyler took that as a good sign and parked in the driveway. When he got out, he politely waited for Kyle to join him. The silence between them remained heavy and uncomfortable as he walked up to the door and unlocked it.

There was no way to prepare for what he found when the door opened. The front room looked like a tornado had gone through. The couch and chair were ripped open from someone slicing open every cushion multiple times, and the stuffing within looked like it had been thrown around. The television screen had been smashed with a hammer or a brick. A lattice work of cracks covered the entire screen and he knew it was beyond repair. He stared at the scene, unable to bring about any emotion from inside him. This was Alex’s final message to him. That their love had been a lie the entire time. While Alex may have lost and been forced to leave, he made sure Tyler hadn’t gotten his former life back. He was going to have to start all over again, scratching and clawing his way up from a deficit he hadn’t deserved.

Without saying anything, he walked to the back of the house to inspect the bedroom and found it all much the same as the front room. The mattress had been ripped up so badly, the springs inside were visible. His dresser had the drawers pulled out and smashed, leaving all of his clothes in a pile. The closet was mostly untouched with only a few pieces of clothing showed slashes in the fabrics where Alex had taken a knife to them, rendering them useless. Most disturbing of all, Alex had left the leather restraints attached to the bed posts. The same ones he used to make Tyler suffer for hours on end with no hope in sight of reprieve.

Tyler just stood there in the middle of all the debris of his life. A part of him wondered if this was some sort of karmic retribution for what he said to Kyle. He took in a breath and let it out to keep his emotions in check. As he looked around the room, he saw a broken picture frame laying on the floor. He knelt down to pick it up, looking at the picture his aunt had given him of him and his dad. The glass had been broken and the frame was cracked, but thankfully the picture inside was undamaged.

As he stood back up, holding the frame, he heard the clicking sound of Kyle’s phone taking pictures all around them. “What are you doing,” Tyler asked him.

“Taking pictures of what he did,” Kyle replied calmly. “You’ll need them to file charges.”

Tyler stood there, looking around and thinking about how it would all happen. How they’d have to find him and drag him to court. Go through months and months of fighting and ultimately end up with nothing because Alex had nothing. All while he would have to put up with seeing him over and over and over when all he wanted was Alex removed from his life for good. “No,” he muttered with a shake of his head.

“What?!”

“I said, no. He’s gone. He’s not coming back. If I fight about this, then he’ll just have more reasons to torture me.” Tyler turned away from the bedroom, brushing past Kyle and went into the kitchen. He was surprised to find it largely untouched as he reached into one of the cabinets to grab some garbage bags. Kyle was just reentering the living room when Tyler marched past, going back to the bedroom with the bags in hand.

“What are you doing,” Kyle asked as he followed him.

“Grabbing what’s left,” he replied. “I’ll call a friend later and see if I can stay with him for awhile until I can get all of this taken care of.”

Kyle stood there, watching him as he diligently went from one pile of clothing to the next, shoving what was still in good condition into a bag and ignoring the crushing feeling of loss and humiliation he was feeling. Kyle allowed him to work in silence for a few minutes before he felt the need to say something. “It wasn’t because he was an alcoholic that I left him.”

Tyler sighed and stopped what he was doing. He knew that was going to come back to bite him in the ass. “I didn’t mean what I said. I’m sorry for saying it.”

Kyle shrugged. “I wasn’t offended. Much. And I realize now you said it mostly because you’ve been under a lot of stress and it’s hard for you to keep a calm demeanor in the face of all this.” He watched Tyler’s face for his reaction before he continued. “I know you had a thing for Jacob.” He chuckled silently. “Trust me, I know how it feels. He’s a great person once you get to know him. He can be kind and amazingly gentle. I’ve loved him for over a decade now. We had a really dark moment in our lives, and we are all to blame for that and we’re well aware of that fact. Despite what I probably deserved, I was given a second chance to set things right between the two of us and I have been lucky enough to be a part of his life again and I intend to make that permanent. I’m sorry things with your boyfriend didn’t work out the same. I don’t know you nearly as well as the others, even if they have spent time with you and think you’re a great person. I realize, since we first met, you haven’t really thought much of me. I’ve seen it in your eyes and what you said on the way over is the reason why. I’m asking you to just give me a chance to show you who I really am and not the monster you’ve made me out to be.”

Tyler stood up even as his cheeks reddened in embarrassment. Everything Kyle had said was right. He hadn’t been fair with Kyle and there was no reason to be mean to him after seeing how happy he made Jacob. “It’s not easy for me,” he said reluctantly. “Trusting people to help out when I don’t have anything to give back to them. Jacob and Andy have been really good friends to me over the last couple years and I don’t want to lose them. I nearly did with Alex. I guess seeing you back here and acting like you own the place along with how you got along with Jacob made me resentful of you. The others trust you. Hell, they treat you like family. I should at least have given you the benefit of the doubt.”

Kyle’s lips lifted up in a slow smile. “I’m glad we cleared that up.” He looked around with a sigh at the ruined furniture. “Now… I guess you should pick up what you can and the lock the place up. You’ll want enough clothes for the rest of the week and maybe another week, depending on how Dad responds to all this.”

Tyler frowned, not understanding. “What do you mean?”

“When I tell my dad what we walked into he’s not going to give an inch until you agree to stay with us until it’s all fixed. That’ll take at least Saturday or Sunday, depending on everyone’s schedules.” He got on his phone and started to make a call.

“How do I replace all this in a few days?”

Kyle raised a finger up, indicating he should wait until his phone call was done. “Hey, Dad. I’m here with Tyler at his place. It’s really bad. His ex destroyed just about everything. Bed, couch, tables… Yeah, I had a feeling you’d say that. Well, I have a solution. Kind of a kill two birds with one stone thing… Yeah. I just need the guys to have a couple hours free is all. Well, if you want, we can do that. Still need to get this stuff out though. And clean the place. Well, I was thinking you ask Liz to watch the boys for a couple hours that day, then they won’t be getting under our feet. I don’t know. Maybe two or three hours at most. Sure. Okay. Yes, I already told him. Okay. See you soon.” He put his phone away and smirked. “Just as I suspected. Dad will not accept you going anywhere but back to the house to stay until we get this fixed.”

Tyler was still unable to grasp what was going on. “You haven’t explained how we fix it? I don’t have any money.”

Kyle shrugged. “I know that feeling. But Jacob seems to have enough and he’s making a bunch of stuff.”

“I do not want Jacob spending all his resources on fixing my problem,” Tyler proclaimed adamantly.

Kyle shook his head. “That’s not what I meant. What I meant was I have stuff in storage at the house that’s just collecting dust right now from my townhouse I used to live in. Dad wanted me to donate it to get it out of the barn. So, I may as well donate it to you.”

Tyler sighed and knew there was no other way around it. “If that’s what you want to do…”

“It is,” Kyle said. “Time to put all of this nasty business behind us.”

Tyler managed a small smile. “Thanks.”

He wasn’t sure what exactly was going to happen from this point on. But he wanted to at least give Kyle a chance.

Copyright © 2019 Jdonley75; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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4 hours ago, GanymedeRex said:

  Usually, I go for the teen stories with the hot twinks - but not this time.  

😄 😄

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41 minutes ago, Andre Delport said:

Hope we won't have to wait too long for the next chapter.

I was going to reference something about wait times in my comments but didn’t want to appear too greedy....or be any longer than I was, lol.

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40 minutes ago, JeffreyL said:

Another well written chapter with terrific dialogue throughout! This is one of those stories where the characters suck me in, make me care about them, and wish they were real people I could know. There are two or three other writers on GA that create that kind of character too. I am glad Tyler and Kyle had a chance to talk and get things sorted. Their conversation was more of that realistic dialogue you write! Thanks. 

I agree with your statement completely and couldn’t have said it better!!! 😁😁😁

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9 hours ago, janet said:

I really love this story. Thanks for posting.

Glad you love it.  Thanks for reading. :) 

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8 hours ago, GanymedeRex said:

My goodness how I love this story - which is even better than the prime story it is based upon.   I love how it portrays an extended family and the bonds that hold us to each other in life - it really is a story about what's important in life.  Usually, I go for the teen stories with the hot twinks - but not this time.  

I tend to think deep thoughts, I guess.  When I wrote the first book, I just wanted to give my take on how battered and bruised love can get and still survive.  This book is just what the title suggests.  What do we do when we have an emptiness inside us?  Tyler is still pretty empty at this point, but I think things will get better.

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Good riddance to Alex! I’m glad Tyler and Kyle cleared the air and some ‘up’ time for Andy. Great chapter, thanks!

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8 hours ago, jt15136 said:

I just came across this series a few weeks ago and I’m hooked. This is crack to an addict.

@Jdonley75 Out of curiosity, are you native to PA? And is this set in Clarion? I’ve been trying to triangulate the location given what you’ve written. I ask cause I’m in Pittsburgh. 

As my profile says, I live in Illinois.  I've been through Pennsylvania many times in the past so I have gotten something of a feel for it.  

I purposefully tend to be vague about the location of the town they all live in.  It wasn't until a few chapters ago that it got a name.  "Kellington."  Of course, there is no such city in PA.  As for location,  I think the most obvious hint I've dropped about where it is was probably  in "The Night Before Aaron's First Christmas."  East of Butler, PA  along a main highway.  (if I remember right, there's only one highway that runs east and west through Butler.) ;)  

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25 minutes ago, Marty said:

I suppose Alex' final shot isn't all that surprising. And, while I totally understand Tyler's reasons for not wanting to pursue a court case over it, I do worry that this will leave Alex thinking that he can behave in the same way with some other poor unfortunate person in the future.

 

I share your concerns about what’s his name.

People like that get worse if they go unchecked and I’d hate to think someone will wind up in even worse condition than Tyler.

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7 hours ago, Philippe said:

Wow, what a P-O-S Alex is. I hated that he was even a part of this chapter too until it provided the opportunity for Tyler to see more magical strength and support from the family he’s been invited in to; another great chapter to this wonderful tale.

Which, I think was the point of the situation with Alex.  Tyler needs to learn to trust his friends and not feel like he has to travel the road of life all on his own.

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25 minutes ago, jt15136 said:

@FanLit That was an awesome review. I’m part Team Drake and part Team Sean. I think Sean got the raw end of the deal cause of that f@ck, Alex. 

Thank you, @jt15136.  :hug:

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5 hours ago, Andre Delport said:

Jonathan, you have no idea how much I enjoy your writing ability. as much as I enjoyed reading "The Acquittal", it really only dawned on me while reading this chapter of "Empty Spaces".  I know this this only your second major work, but I am amazed at how natural and easy your writing is. It just reads so easily,  but actually dealing with some very difficult subjects. Really love it.

Another great chapter. I especially loved Kyle and Tyler's conversation towards the end of the chapter - Kyle absolutely turning on the charm.

Hope we won't have to wait too long for the next chapter.

Thank you very much.   When writing anything non-fantasy, even if it's fiction, I tend to give it as many realistic elements and not shy away from sensitive subjects.  The reason for that is because life doesn't shy away from the uncomfortable things in the world.  I'm almost sure that one or two people who have been reading this and read what Andy has been through in his life can say to themselves, "I've been there.  I know how that feels.  Someone gets it."   No one is perfect in my books.  Not even someone as great as David is without sin and without flaws because perfect people in perfect lives are boring.

As far as my writing style goes, it's just me writing what I see and hear.  It's like a movie playing in my head.  Sometimes it streams like you're downloading Avengers: Endgame through a dial-up modem and I have to keep myself from getting frustrated.  I know eventually I'll get through it.

Kyle and Tyler's conversation at the end was kind of a final of Tyler being on the outside looking in and if I recall corrected, Kyle has always been something of a charmer. ;) 

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5 hours ago, FanLit said:

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

I’m so glad for this chapter!!!!  YAY!!!!  I don’t even know where to begin, lol.

I suppose I’ll start kind of from the ending.  Feeling as I do about “The Team” and even understanding where Tyler was coming from, his remark about Kyle leaving Jacob because he was an alcoholic angered me;  Granted, no one not directly involved or told about what happened could even begin to imagine what took place but Tyler was out of line.  I wouldn’t call the destruction of his home karmic retribution but it served to humble him for attacking someone who hasn’t put a foot wrong with him in their personal dealings and who basically saved his life;  It was Kyle’s observations that exposed everything and got the guys involved.  

 “It’s not easy for me,” he said reluctantly. “Trusting people to help out when I don’t have anything to give back to them. Jacob and Andy have been really good friends to me over the last couple years and I don’t want to lose them. I nearly did with Alex. I guess seeing you back here and acting like you own the place along with how you got along with Jacob made me resentful of you. The others trust you. Hell, they treat you like family. I should at least have given you the benefit of the doubt.”

Tyler’s admission only confirmed what a stand up guy he is and having it out there gives he and Kyle a chance to start over.  Good, as I have a feeling he will have more to appreciate Kyle for with his father’s will.

Andy’s issues are far from over and I agree with Jacob’s assessment that the high Andy got from beating up that shit stain was a tad eerie.  Troy showed his “team leader” position again (and love for his family) with asking Tyler to come back to work to surreptitiously keep an eye on Andy. (as well as have Tyler face down the bigotry inherent in construction work)  You aren’t looking to lead a revolution, Tyler but leaders don’t always volunteer. 🙂

Seeing Tanner open up to Tyler was very sweet, I think Tyler is too young to contemplate it but he would be an awesome father, very much in the vein of Jacob....perhaps with Drake?

The familiar voice and the feelings it brought back, gave his heart an ease he hadn’t had in a long time. He settled onto the bed and spent the next hour just talking and catching with his friend.”  THAT is the basis for the best of relationships and note who he called first, not Sean (Tho I recognize they have to have whatever they have to have).  I will always be “Team Drake”.

The argument about the carpet was hilarious, that and all Jacob’s interactions with Kyle showed Tyler a side of Jacob he had yet to see: silly, happy, open and deeply in love because he is where he wants to be (and as we know, where he belongs). 

Finding out that both Matt and Blake have boundary issues with people in their home only confirms (for me, lol!!)  how very meant they are to be together- two halves from the same whole and it was another brush against my heart to see Andy’s interactions with Matt;  I feel very much like Jacob did, Andy’s affection for Kyle is further manifested in Matt....Carter and Chase don’t get the same type of reaction. (maybe it’s just a father-in-law’s love for his son-in-law  😬). It’s actually very endearing to witness who on Team B takes to whom on Team A (outside of their respective parents, of course).

WHEW!!  I think I’ll stop here, tho there are more tidbits I could probably add, lol.

 Thank you for this rich serving, it was well worth the wait. 

It's to his credit that Tyler knew he was out of line for saying that to Kyle.  Even the best of people balk when their world is suddenly upended and they tend to say or do things they don't intend too.  Andy's issues are very much far from over and they will be dealt with along with some more of Tyler's twisting and turning life changes.  There is a lot of story left to tell.

Tanner talking to Tyler is him showing the changes he's going through as well.  In the next few chapters he will almost become and entirely different boy.

Tyler and Drake will always have that unique bond between them.  Almost like Kyle and Andy in a way.  Or Kyle and Troy.  Or Jacob and Brian.  As for Tyler and Sean.... ;) 

The carpet scene was something.  Not wanting to toot my own horn or anything but I just love how I can take a casual throwaway line from one of the past stories and turn it into something fun and playful while at the same time giving it a depth that shows off that unbreakable bond between the two of them.

Matt and Blake are little kids and some little kids tend to see boundaries as suggestions instead of rules. They're just little boys and Carter and Chase don't get much screen time because the action doesn't usually revolve around their parents.  I'm sure they have their own precocious moments of their own.

Glad you enjoyed the newest chapter.  The next couple chapters will actually focus more on Kyle and Jacob because... well.... that tends to happen when people get married.

 

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