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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 - 26. Chapter 26

Jacob stood with his back to the new door in the back of the back hallway that led to the newly completed rooms for Kyle and himself. It had taken weeks to get it all finished and more time to put together the few pieces of furniture he had time to make himself. Kyle had taken time to paint the walls and buy a couple pieces he wanted including a desk for himself and a drawing desk off to the side of the first room for Jacob. Their bedroom and the adjoining bathroom were beautiful and when David first came in to see what Jacob had accomplished, even with the rooms not completely finished he was impressed with all their hard work.

But even after all that, the two of them had to actually move all of their things into the rooms and Jacob was waiting for Kyle to come down with the last box of items from the old bedroom to be stored inside. While the others had helped in the construction, they hadn’t seen the finished work. Jacob had insisted on installing the borders around the top of the rooms himself after everything else was completed and moved all the pieces of the new furniture in as well. Now, with Kyle bringing in the final box of their personal belongings down, they were officially moved in and could show everyone else what they had helped accomplish.

He saw Kyle coming towards him with the final box of things and a bright smile on his face. Jacob broke into a grin and had a strong urge to pull him inside and ravage him on the bed. But that would have to wait until they finished celebrating with their friends.

“All set,” Kyle said, practically beaming as he stepped up to the door.

Jacob opened the door for him, and they entered their sitting room with the tasteful carpet and the welcoming furniture. The room still had the scent of everything being fresh and new. He hoped it would stay that way for a long time. “Everyone is chomping at the bit to see our new place. You ready to show off?”

Kyle took the box and put it into their walk-in closet before coming back into the room. “Ready.”

Jacob grinned at him. Kyle’s mood had improved after a month of sessions with the counselor about his anxiety issues. Although he had felt a little embarrassed when he was told in the last session that he would likely need medication to keep his panic attacks under control, Jacob assured him that there was nothing for him to feel bad about. Whatever would end up happening, they would deal with it together. “They probably won’t be too impressed. It’s just a room.”

“Three rooms, but who’s counting?” Kyle beamed as he opened the door to the hallway and called out, “Dad? We’re ready!”

There was no immediate answer until they both heard many footsteps approaching. They both stood there smiling as David, Troy, Liz, Andy, Brian and Tyler came down the hall with five little boys following behind. Jacob couldn’t hide the look of pride as they others came down the hall and stepped aside to let them in.

David entered first and looked around as he whistled in surprise. “Wow, boys. Looks like a totally different house in here.”

Troy and Andy followed with Brian and Tyler behind them. The boys squeezed through and went around the rooms, looking and touching anything that captured their curiosity.

“Wow. This is really nice,” Troy said. “Nice work on the molding.”

“How much of this did you make yourself,” Brian asked as he looked over the larger desk on one side of the room.

“I made that desk and the bed and bench in the bedroom,” Jacob replied. “The rest of it we picked out together.”

“Isn’t the bed a little over the top,” Tyler asked as he and Andy looked it over.

Jacob smiled proudly as he walked to the open doorway. “No… I wanted to make something that will last long after us.” Jacob watched as Tyler ran his hand over the deep etching in the headboard with the two apple trees on either side with the branches joined with the letter “H” in the center. “Old English font on the calligraphy, if you were wondering.”

Andy slowly turned to his friend with a sarcastic smile. “You’ve been dying to tell someone that, haven’t you?”

“He’s told me twice already,” Kyle commented as he escorted the boys out of the bathroom just as his father poked his head inside.

“Well, you have certainly out done yourself this time, son,” David said as he looked around at the bathroom with its marble tiled floor. “I think the tub was a bit much.”

“I got it cheap,” Jacob stated with no apology. “Someone ordered it and then changed their mind at the last second. They offered it to me for half price just to get it out of their warehouse.”

“You got mad connections now, don’t you,” Brian said as he joined David at the doorway to their bathroom.

“Maybe,” Jacob replied with a grin. “It’s big enough that the two of us can sit in there together.”

After a few more minutes, they all retired to the living room while David and Andy went into the kitchen to get dinner started. The rest of the adults sat around talking while the children were upstairs playing in Matt’s new bedroom. Jacob still wasn’t done with his new bed yet but would get it done before the wedding.

“How close are you two to having everything ready for the big day,” Liz asked while sitting next to her husband who was holding their little baby girl.

“Six weeks,” Jacob said sarcastically. When he got the appropriate roll of the eyes from Liz he went on. “We still need to get the catering figured out. And we also have to settle on the pictures we want to show on the screen as the music plays.”

“That’s part of why we wanted all of you here today,” Kyle added. “Help us go through pictures and point out any that you find you like.”

Liz nodded. “Sounds like fun.”

Tyler smirked and said to her, “yeah. Can see all the embarrassing baby pictures.”

Kyle chuckled. “Dad’s got pictures of everyone. Not just me.”

“Well, not of me,” Jacob said. “I didn’t show up to the party until I was seventeen. I haven’t changed much since then.”

Brian rolled his eyes dramatically. “Oh, whatever! Besides, I’m sure we can add some pics of the teen years and college years.”

“Yeah,” Andy said. “Kind of like a progression. Start with our youngest pictures and work up.”

Jacob seemed to like that idea. “Sounds good. This isn’t just for us, after all. While it’s the two of us getting married, we want it to be a day for all of us.”

Troy smiled and shook his head. “It’s your day, guys. You should be the center of attention.”

“Well, we will,” Kyle replied with a small smile. “But you’ll all be right next to us…”

Kyle seemed unable to speak more as he looked down at the floor. Jacob smiled slightly and put his arm around his shoulders. “What he means is, this wouldn’t be happening without all of you. And we want that to show when we finally get to where we’ve been headed.”

Troy gave him a disbelieving smirk. “We didn’t do anything. It was all you two.”

Jacob pointed a finger at him as he said, “if you hadn’t forced Kyle to confront his sexuality and come out of the closet, he would’ve stayed in the closet a lot longer than he did.” He put his finger down once Troy lost his smirk and looked more thoughtful. “And who was it who convinced him to take me to the prom?”

“That’d be me,” Andy replied with a grin.

“And who drove us to where he and I had our very special prom night?”

Brian slowly raised his hand guiltily but with a smile on his face. “Sorry…”

Jacob and Kyle chuckled at his response. “No need. The point is, you all had a hand in making this happen.”

Tyler shrugged. “I didn’t do anything. Other than be forced to live here until my creepy ex ended up in prison because he got pulled over by a cop.”

Troy laughed. “Yeah. Weird how that happened. Almost like the cop was sitting there waiting for him.”

Tyler turned to him. “That was you? I figured it was Kyle or Andy who set that up.”

Troy shrugged. “It was kind of a group effort. Didn’t really need to do much of anything other than to tell him what to look for and where it would be at what time… Good thing he kept stalking you all the way to my house and back here.”

“And you did do something important as far as making this day possible,” Jacob said, looking over at Tyler.

Tyler frowned in confusion. “What?”

Jacob broke out into a big grin. “You were the one who got me to yell at him after he came back.”

Tyler shrugged. “Don’t recall it, but you’re welcome, I guess.”

Jacob added, “it’s not too late if you wanna get a tux and join us.”

Tyler rolled his eyes. “I’m really not into weddings that much. I’ll come and watch though. And go to the party afterwards. Even if I’m going alone.”

“I’ll save a dance for you, if you want,” Brian said to him.

Tyler looked at him and made sure his sarcasm rang clear. “Oh. Gee. Thanks.”

Brian stuck his tongue out at him. “You’re a mouthy little kid, you know that?”

“Coming from you, that’s a high compliment.”

That comment got them all laughing as Brian attempted to look wounded.

Just as their laughter was quieting, they could all clearly hear happy squeals and screams of laughter and three boys ran down the stairs. Without warning, Matt and Carter came running into the room being chased by Blake who was holding a very familiar object. A thick, flesh-colored, flexible phallus was being waved by Blake as he chased Carter and Matt around and out of the room.

The reactions of everyone in the room were immediate. Tyler covered his mouth to muffle his scream of surprise followed closely by Liz’s scream of laughter. Troy’s face registered what Blake was chasing his son with and immediately covered his face. Andy and Brian were too stunned to say anything at all before Jacob was on his feet, chasing the boys into the hallway. “Blake! What do you think you’re doing?!”

Everyone else sat there, stunned into silence as they listened to the exchange taking place.

“We were playing.”

“Where did you find that?!”

“Under Matt’s bed!”

“It doesn’t belong to you!”

“It was in his room! It belongs to him!”

“It’s… not yours! Now, give it to me.”

The eyes of everyone in the living room went to Kyle who lowered his head and shielded his face with his hand to cover his mortification as he sighed.

“What is it?”

“That’s not important! It belongs to Matt’s daddies.”

“We thought it was a magic wand.”

Brian’s shoulders shook with the effort of containing his laughter, saying to no one in particular, “oh, it is…”

After that, there was a thunderous noise of boys scrambling up the stairs, laughing together and the clear sound of Jacob’s feet stomping towards the back of the house where his brand new rooms were. Less than a minute later, Jacob returned, his face bright red as he sat back down and looked around at his friends. Tyler and Liz were wiping the tears from their faces while Andy and Brian looked like they were trying to hold each other to prevent them from exploding. He frowned and muttered, “not a word.”

The laughter started up again until they all had tears in their eyes.

 

****

 

After dinner was eaten and the dining room table was cleaned up, David went to his study to retrieve all of the pictures he’s taken and stored away over the years. Kyle put a movie on in the living room to occupy the boys while the adults sat in the dining room, going over the photos and reminiscing.

“So, what are we looking for exactly in all this,” Andy asked as he opened a photo album in front of him.

Kyle shrugged. “Just whatever you see that you think is memorable and should be included. I think we can have about eighteen pictures. We only have about three and a half minutes of time to fill.”

Brian looked at him, a little perplexed. “Three and a half? The song is just over four minutes long.”

“The last few seconds are for group shots we already picked out,” he replied with a smile.

“Well, we have one scheduled,” Jacob said. “Just the two of us in the orchard under one of the trees.”

The tree,” Kyle corrected with a smirk.

Jacob gave him a dubious look even as his blue eyes shined. “I’m not convinced that’s the one. I keep thinking we walked a lot farther in before we stopped.”

“It is,” Kyle said emphatically. “I’ll never forget it.”

Jacob shrugged and smiled before reaching for another set of photos. “If you say so.”

Tyler looked over a small stack of pictures that had been in a small box sitting on the table. He found himself fascinated by the pictures of the little boys who were now the men sitting around the table with him. It didn’t take him long to discern who was in the pictures he held in his hands. He found one with a young Kyle, Troy and Andy standing together with their arms over their shoulders, looking up at the camera with happy smiles on their faces. The background indicated they were under a tree on a bright sunny day. The look on Andy’s face was most noticeable, as he had his head tilted slightly with an almost amused look on his face. “How old were you in this,” he asked as he passed the picture over to him.

Andy took the picture from Tyler and grinned. “Probably six or seven.”

“Let me look,” David said as he held out his hand. When he saw it, Tyler almost thought he saw tears make his brown eyes shimmer as a small smile rose on his lips. “Five. It was the day before you boys went into kindergarten.”

Brian went around the table to look over David’s shoulder, who seemed reluctant to put it down. “Aww… You looked so cute.” He grinned at Andy and added, “what happened to you?”

“Puberty,” Andy responded with a smirk.

David finally passed the picture over to Kyle who looked at it and put it with some of the other pictures they were going to be used for the ceremony. The others settled in looking over all the old photographs, reliving and telling stories which elicited laughs and warm smiles, remembering the joys of their youth spent together.

As Tyler sat there looking over the pictures and taking in all the things shared and remembered, he realized what a special life all of them had lived together. Each moment sitting there brought him a new insight into his friends and how close they really were. What brought a smile to his face was that he was starting to realize that he had become a part of this with them. They weren’t friends in the way most people are. Somehow along the way in their lives, these men had become a family. He could see it in their eyes, their laughs and playful ribbings.

He saw it when Troy picked up a picture of him as his mother when he was still a young boy. The remembered grief as he talked about what had prompted the picture started to show in his voice. But just as quickly as it came to him, Andy put a hand on his shoulder, giving him silent support and the others listened and showed him their love for him without saying a word. With that kind of support, the catch in Troy’s voice soon disappeared and a genuine smile reached his lips as he finished telling them about the day the picture was taken which was the last good day of her life.

He saw a proud smile on both Kyle and Jacob’s faces as they laughed at a picture of their excited faces with Kyle holding up a medal from one of his competitions when he was in high school. As he looked at the picture, Kyle confided about how nervous he’d been that day because it was the first time Jacob had gone to watch. Jacob in turn shared how excited he’d been, even though he’d stayed mostly quiet because of his shyness at the time. “I remember holding my breath watching you. And Dad right next to me, leaned forward on the bench. I thought my heart was going to explode when you won.”

When Kyle and Jacob shared a look between them, Tyler realized how totally in love they were with each other. Even after years apart, it seemed like their hearts had always belonged to each other. He understood now all the warnings Drake had given him about Jacob. Drake may not have known the reasons why at the time, but this was why no one had really had a chance to be close to Jacob. Someone else was already in that space in his life.

After some time passed, the boys started to wander into the room and Tyler saw just how ingrained that feeling of family was for all of them. The boys weren’t going up to be with their fathers. They intermingled, curiously looking at all the old pictures their family looked over. At one point Matt was sitting on Troy’s lap as he explained a picture of Kyle, while Chase stood between Kyle and Jacob as they answered questions while Blake sat happily on Kyle’s lap. Carter was picking up pictures, asking questions of Andy and Liz cuddled with Tanner as Emily slept in her baby seat next to her. Tyler realized this was the kind of family he’s always wanted. And it was right there in front of him this whole time. Just waiting for him to join in.

After a few hours, the pictures had been decided on and met with everyone’s approval. Everyone got ready to go and the reluctance was noticeable thought tempered with the knowledge that they’d see each other again. Tyler got a special sense of belonging when David embraced him before he left. “Just remember, if you ever need anything, all you have to do is ask.”

It was such a strange feeling, knowing he was loved and wanted from someone he’d come to admire. “Thank you,” he said quietly as he returned the warm hug he’d been given. “For everything.”

David patted his back affectionately. “Better times are coming, son. Just be patient.”

Tyler’s feelings threatened to overwhelm him. After all he’d been through to finally feel like he belonged somewhere and didn’t have to hide or obscure parts of his life. With a few simple words, David had removed such a heavy burden he’d been carrying and never knew it had been there until it was gone. He wanted to stay there forever and not let go. In a way, he knew he wouldn’t have too. “I’ll see you later.”

David smiled and released him and said with a smile. “breakfast is at the same time every morning.”

He laughed lightly and stepped away to get his jacket before heading out. Before he could get there, he was accosted by Blake who demanded a hug before Tyler left. Tyler grinned and picked the boy up and gave him a big hug. “I’ll see you soon too, I bet, you spoiled little brat.”

Blake giggled at him before he put his little arms around his neck and rested his head on Tyler’s shoulders. “I love you,” the little boy said with such innocence that Tyler was caught off guard.

“Well, lucky me then,” he said as he hugged the little boy. “I love you too. Be a good boy for your dads.”

“Promise,” Blake replied, even as Tyler caught a certain mischievous sparkle in the boy’s green eyes as he set him back on his feet.

Tyler didn’t make it another couple of feet towards the door before he heard Kyle say, “wait a second Tyler.”

He sighed and turned giving him a good humored look of annoyance. “I’m not staying here again, if that’s what you’re wanting.”

Kyle smiled as he approached him. “Not exactly. Dad had me run out this morning and run some errands. While I did, I thought I’d get something for you.”

His eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “What’s that?”

Kyle reached into his pocket and pulled something out and put it in Tyler’s hand. “That’s for you. Everyone else has one. Figured you may as well have one too.”

Tyler looked at his hand and saw a key sitting there. “What’s this go too?”

“The back door,” Kyle replied as if it should be obvious. “It doesn’t happen often, but there are times when none of us are home. This way, you can just let yourself in whenever you want.”

Tyler took the gesture as what it was. It was Kyle and probably Jacob and David’s way of saying he was part of this family now. “Thanks. I appreciate it.” He returned Kyle’s smile with one of his own. A real one instead of just a simple polite smile.

“Welcome. Be safe going home.” Kyle gave him a pat on the back, and then headed towards Matt to get him ready for bed.

Tyler waited a second to see if anyone else would stop him before making his way out of the house. As he got the bottom of the ramp, Andy’s voice called out loud and clear, “Tyler, wait up.”

He smiled with a sigh and slowly turned around. “Yes?”

Andy and Brian were coming down behind him, holding hands with the boys. “I heard a rumor the other day when I was in the office.”

As they got closer, Tyler could see a playful grin on his face. He fought back the urge to roll his eyes before replying. “Okay? What kind of rumor this time?”

“Got a re-hire came back a couple weeks ago while you’ve been working and living it up here in paradise.” Andy stood there in front of him, grinning broadly and waiting for his reply.

Tyler stared at him, not understanding. “What, Dex came back?”

“No,” he replied. “Sean.”

Tyler blinked in surprise. “Oh. Well…”

Andy patted his arm. “You should call him. I bet he’d like to hear from you.” He and Brian continued on to his truck, getting the boys in their seats before getting in themselves.

Tyler stood there, feeling shocked but also a certain buzzing in his body. His mind didn’t go to the mental image of Sean at work but of the Sean he saw at the night club so long ago. Before things had fallen apart. He was never sure exactly if Sean hadn’t texted him or if that had been Alex’s doing. If he was being honest with himself, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do about the information for the time being. The relationship with Alex and all the scars left on his heart were still fresh. He wasn’t sure if now was the time to pursue anything with him.

Deciding to put the new information in the back of his mind, he went to his truck and got in. As he drove home, he fought down the excitement that was growing inside him and kept in mind that how things ended with Alex could just be a repeat with Sean. If he was going to do anything about it, he would have to proceed cautiously.

 

****

 

The new few weeks were a flurry of activity for everyone. Tyler and Andy were hard at work again as the summer began. Tyler noted the same car Sean drove the year before but with different plates. They hadn’t run into each other because Tyler had been on Andy’s team and Sean had been working with another team. Each time he thought about calling or texting him, Tyler would find an excuse not too. In his off hours, he busied himself helping out Kyle and Brian as they settled into the final details for the wedding. In the middle of June, Kyle started to become harder to deal with as his nervousness would get him second guessing every decision that was made. Brian did his best to mitigate it, but there were times when the only thing they could do was call Jacob to talk him down.

Brian confided in Tyler that he thought it was mostly due to the fact that the therapist he had been seeing confirmed that Kyle had a form of General Anxiety Disorder and knowing it for a fact now seemed to make him more nervous and prone to panic attacks than before. Tyler felt bad for him and wished he knew what he could do but he had his focus was mostly on Andy and his mental health. It was a blessing when the doctors finally prescribed Kyle some medication to use as needed since his panic attacks tended to peak randomly. Once he was taking care of his issue, his mood improved noticeably. The one good thing that came from it all was Tyler seeing Kyle looking so vulnerable at times, it helped to get him to let go any left over resentments he had and just be his friend whenever he needed one.

All them had to get their final fittings for their tuxedos which required a long weekend. They decided it was best to do them all at once so in one Saturday afternoon, six men and five boys all arrived at once in Pittsburgh to spend the day getting their fittings done before going out to eat and celebrating the upcoming wedding. Jacob and Kyle had opted against any kind of bachelor party and all agreed that it was a moot point. A nice dinner all shared together was enough of a party for them even if it took place two weeks before the ceremony. That Tyler would be joining them, even as he continued to bow out of participating in the ceremony, had become just implied. With everything falling into place so fast and so many hands needed to make sure it all ran smoothly, Tyler had little time to think of anything else other than Kyle and Jacob’s big day.

It was in the second week of July, with the wedding coming that Saturday that things ramped up. Tyler took time to get a new suit when going with Brian and the boys to pick up the tuxedos for everyone. Tanner and Blake were both excited about summer vacation and the upcoming wedding, but Tanner had even more reason to be excited. As Brian drove them back to Pittsburgh, Tanner told Tyler all about passing his tests to advance from first to third grade the next fall. Tyler couldn’t believe how different he was from the suspicious and quiet kid he used to be. His blue eyes were shining bright and his smile was bigger than Tyler had ever seen. He told Tanner he was proud of him and that only made him glow brighter. Brian gave Tyler a smile as his own blue eyes shined with pride.

Helping Tanner find his own confidence had been Brian’s job over the last nine months and he was glad to see his results firsthand. He told Tyler his next project was Blake and the other preschoolers before they entered kindergarten. The preschool program in town was less than ideal so Brian was taking it on himself to educate the boys himself.

After that trip and back, making sure everything fit and then storing it away for Saturday was just the start. Tyler was hanging out at the house on that Thursday with David and Kyle while Jacob was busy in the workshop that afternoon when they heard a car coming up the drive to the house. He watched Kyle get up to look out the window before his eyes widened along with his smile. “Matt,” he yelled out to be heard upstairs, “your mother is here!”

Tyler blinked and looked over at David for an explanation, but the older man was already on his feet and moving to the kitchen. He followed behind curiously as David went out the backdoor and down the ramp to intercept her. He watched as the car’s engine was shut off before a woman with long, flaxen blonde hair and a broad playful smile slowly rose from the driver’s side of the car. Before she was completely out, David was there, offering his hand for support. Tyler wondered about that but that was made more obvious when she turned, and he saw that she was obviously pregnant.

Once she was on her feet, David enveloped her in a fatherly embrace which she returned with an even brighter smile. He could hear their voices but was too far away to hear what was being said. David got her bags for her before escorting her up to the house. Behind him, Tyler heard Kyle and Matt coming down the hall. Matt ran past him and out the door. David sort of stopped him from jumping up on the woman as they made their way up the ramp, though she seemed genuinely excited to see him.

“Hold on there, Baby Boy,” David said. “Don’t rough your mom up until she’s inside.”

Without really knowing he was doing it, Tyler stepped up and put a restraining hand on Matt. “Come here.” He picked Matt up and held him near his mom so he could lean over and kiss her on the cheek, which seemed to satisfy him for the moment.

The woman laughed and then gave Tyler an appraising look. “And here I thought Kyle was an only child.”

Tyler blinked and stepped back a little. “Uh… I’m not…”

Before he could say anything else, he saw the door to the workshop open and Jacob charging across the driveway so fast his hair streamed behind him like a dark flag. He came to a sudden halt in front of her and hugged her almost protectively. “Steph! If you’d told me when you were supposed to be here, I would’ve helped you,” Jacob said as he held her. “Is everything okay? When was your last appointment?”

David rolled his eyes and went ahead into the house, carrying Stephanie’s things. “You worry too much,” she said with a smirk before returning her gaze to Tyler. “So, since everyone else seems to be unable to keep me informed, who exactly are you? One of Kyle’s cousins or something?”

Tyler’s head was spinning at the thought that someone thought he looked anything close to Kyle and was barely able to keep up. “Uh. No. I’m Tyler. Just a friend.”

“Oh,” she said as she removed herself from Jacob’s grasp. “Another one. Well, I’m Stephanie. And if you didn’t know it yet,” she rubbed her slightly bulging midsection, “this is Jacob and Kyle’s new baby.”

“Oh…!” He looked at Jacob who now seemed to be more himself but still had his eyes locked on her. “So, is it a boy or a girl?”

She laughed as if he’d just told a joke. “Oh, no. I’m still not giving up that information.” Stephanie looked at both of them with a playful smirk before going inside with Jacob and Tyler following behind.

“Hey, you,” Kyle was saying as he hugged his friend. “How was your trip here?”

“Uneventful, for the most part,” she said as before kissing his cheek. “The baby slept part way and woke up doing a little dance.”

Kyle chuckled as he put his hand on her stomach. “I told Jacob about your last appointment.”

“And yet he still asked me first thing,” she quipped before looking over her shoulder at Jacob and sticking her tongue out.

“Want something to drink,” Kyle asked as he moved to the fridge.

“Just some water for right now,” she said. “Trying to keep…” she smirked again at Jacob with her eyes gleaming mischievously, “… the baby hydrated.”

Jacob groaned and headed out of the kitchen. Tyler stood there for a moment, not understanding. “What was that all about?”

Kyle sighed, letting his own annoyance show. “Stephanie knows the sex of the baby and won’t tell us.”

She looked at Tyler and smirked. “Every girl needs a hobby.”

Tyler giggled and shook his head before heading out of the kitchen. Moments later, David had Stephanie’s things set up in Jacob’s old room and everyone regrouped in the living room, as Stephanie answered Jacob and Kyle’s questions about the baby who would be arriving in under three months. David smiled and made sure to take a few pictures of the three and then four of them. Tyler almost felt like he should leave but knew better and he was enjoying meeting Stephanie who seemed to be friendly and funny if a little too playful with Jacob’s worries. She continually assured him that the doctors gave her positive assessments on her last visit before she took maternity leave from the District Attorney’s office.

An hour or so later, everyone heard the backdoor open and close, followed by footsteps coming their way. Tyler was a little surprised to see Sam appear in the room, helping himself to a seat. He mostly ignored all the looks from the others as he focused his attention on David. “She here yet?”

“No,” David replied with a rueful smile.

Stephanie and Tyler both looked confused. “Who else is coming tonight,” Steph asked Kyle.

Kyle looked at her with an amused smirk and simply said, “my mother.”

Tyler had to bite his tongue from laughing when Stephanie’s face slowly began to light up as if her own personal Christmas had just started. “I am so glad I didn’t wait to come until tomorrow!”

Kyle pointed a finger at her and said admonishingly, “behave yourself. I know it’s hard for you but try and not start trouble.”

Her smile dimmed to just a playful grin. “I don’t start trouble. I just speak my mind is all. You need to calm down. It’ll be fun.”

David grinned. “Regardless, when she gets here, Kyle, you me,” he looked across the room at his best friend and said reluctantly, “and Sam, will go out and meet her and help bring her things in. If she’s traveling alone, that is.”

“Who else would she be bringing,” Kyle asked.

David shrugged. “You can never tell with her.” He turned his attention back to Stephanie. “I wanna hear about all you’ve been up to since you were last here. And don’t tell me nothing because I know that’s a lie.”

“Well,” she began, sitting back on the couch. “Things at the office have been interesting. Jeff gave me a sexual assault case a few months ago and I got them to plead out to the full charge. So, that’s one less creep on the streets.” Kyle nodded in approval and smirked a little. “Just about everything else has been mostly mundane. I told Jeff I was going to take maternity leave about three weeks ago and he pretty much put me in traffic court hell since then, but I can totally understand why. Most cases take months and I’m not really able to do that from here.”

“And the baby,” David asked.

She grinned. “No complications, no problems. The doctor told me to take some vitamin supplements just to make sure everything goes smoothly. He’s transferred my medical files here to a Dr. Reynolds who will be taking care of me and delivering the baby when the time comes.”

David nodded. “We’ll need to get you a better seat for you in here and upstairs. You’re probably fine now, but in a month or so you’re not gonna be able to get off that sofa without help.”

Jacob perked up and said, “I can run to Butler tomorrow and find something.”

David looked over at him. “Make sure it’s got space and is not too plushy. You know what, just get her something for her bedroom. We can move one of the leather chairs in my study in here when the time comes.”

Stephanie got a slight look of surprise on her face. “I’ll be fine.”

“Nonsense,” David said dismissively. “You’re pregnant with my second grandchild and if I have my way, you won’t be lifting so much as a finger while you’re here.”

She fixed a rueful smirk at the older man. “I appreciate it. If I need anything, I’ll let you know. But I do need some exercise to stay healthy.”

“Then we can go walking in the orchard with your other son,” David reasoned with a grin.

“You just have all the answers, don’t you,” Stephanie said to him.

David laughed and shrugged. “Marines stay prepared.”

A few minutes later the sound of another car could be heard coming up to the house. Tyler was a little surprised by how fast David shot out of his chair and headed out of the room with Kyle and Sam close behind. Matt started to follow his dad, but Jacob put a restraining hand on him and whispered something in his ear to get him to stay.

David was the first out the back door with Sam and Kyle close on his heels. He stopped at the landing just next to the ramp and watched as a Rolls Royce SUV came to a stop next to David’s spot. Kyle and Sam stood behind him and Kyle thought he almost saw a look of anxiousness on his dad’s face as he watched the scene unfold.

A woman around Kyle’s age got out of the driver’s side and opened the back door. The first thing they saw was a set of high heeled shoes on the black surface of the driveway and then a middle-aged woman in a navy blue skirt with a matching suit jacket that hugged her slight form and white blouse underneath emerged. Her face was poised and elegant with aristocratic features giving her an almost royal look. Her ruby red painted lips and perfect makeup made her look younger than the wisdom in her eyes would suggest. Platinum blonde hair was secured in a bun with a pillbox hat sitting above it. When she took a step away from the car to take in a view of the orchard laying before her, she gave it an appraising look as the tips of her lips lifted as if she was satisfied with what she saw. She turned to the woman who accompanied her and gave her instructions to wait for a moment on bringing the bags into the house before she turned her gaze to the house. Her eyes immediate locked onto David and her smile blossomed forth before making her way to the ramp leading up to the three men standing there waiting for her.

The click of her heels was the only sound as she stepped up the ramp and stopped in front of David who had turned to look down at her. While she may have been several inches shorter than her ex-husband even in heels, Kyle couldn’t help but smirk, thinking just by her appearance she could have intimidated him if she had a mind too.

“David,” Helen greeted him with a measured, refined voice as she looked over his face. “Time hasn’t done a thing but wrinkle you.”

David’s cheeks reddened slightly under his mostly gray beard. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“As well you should.” She said as she hugged him. “The place looks lovelier than ever. You’ve done a remarkable job.”

David grinned as he returned the hug. “It’s good to see you. And if you like the outside, wait till you see what’s inside.”

As they parted, she placed a hand on the railing of the ramp as she examined it. “It looks like you’ve splurged a little more than you used to as well.”

“That was free,” he said. “Our future son-in-law’s work when he was learning his trade.”

Her eyes lifted up again with something akin to surprise. “He’s done all this?” She turned to look around but was stopped by seeing her son’s face. “Oh, darling!” She closed the distance between them, placing her hands on the sides of his face as she practically radiated joy. “You’ve become such a handsome man. You look just like your father did before we were married. Not that that’s any surprise.”

“Mother,” Kyle said with a smile. “I’m glad you could be here.”

“Where else would I be when my only child is getting married?” She leaned in and kissed him. “Your father tells me much, but I suspect not nearly enough if what I’ve seen so far is any clue.”

“Well, Jacob likes to stay busy.”

She smiled at his response. “You should have come visit more often. In fact, I insist you at least come as soon as possible. Maybe for a nice honeymoon! We can set you two up in the guest house and have it all to yourselves and I’ll have Cindy take you wherever you like.”

“That might be awhile,” David said with a small smirk.

Helen turned to regard him with a small frown of curiosity. “And why is that?”

“There are things you don’t know,” David replied, pleased he had something over her.

Helen looked from David to her son, expecting an answer. “Careful,” Sam grumbled, “she’s liable to explode if there’s something she doesn’t know.”

Helen’s eyes fixed in a cold stare and a sardonic smirk on the white haired older man. “Samuel. It’s amazing to see you’re still on your feet. By now I figured you’d be on a motorized wheelchair.”

Undaunted, he took a step closer to her and pointed his thumb in the direction of the driveway. “I like the car you brought with you. Definite upgrade from the broom you flew out of town in years ago.”

Helen’s eyes narrowed even as her lips gave a slight tilt upward. There was a silence between them before she finally gave him a nod and said, “you’ve been waiting all day to say that, haven’t you?”

“Couple months, to be honest.” Sam broke into an uncharacteristic smile. “Sexy as ever, I see.”

“That’s what you get for making me your second choice,” she countered.

David sighed. “Okay, okay… Helen, who’s the young girl with you?”

“Oh, this is Cindy, my assistant.” She said it in such an obvious tone it made Kyle wonder why they all didn’t have personal assistants. “Cindy,” she called out. “please bring the bags in. Kyle will show you where we’ll be staying.” She turned to Kyle and asked, “Darling, could you please show her to our rooms? I realize I’m assuming there’s room.”

Kyle did a quick head count. “Yeah. There’s two rooms available. But that’s it. If you brought a cook or butler with you, they’ll have to sleep on the couches.”

One of his mother’s delicate eyebrows lifted as she smirked at him. “That is your father’s bad influence on you. Do me this favor while I talk to the two old decrepit men I haven’t seen in decades. Then I want to meet your fiancé and get to know him.”

Cindy arrived at the top of the ramp with a bag in each hand. “Here’s the first of it, Helen.”

“Thank you, dear. Kyle will show you upstairs.” She gave her son another peck on the cheek and a smile. “Go on now, Darling.”

“Helen…” David said with a slight warning in his tone. “I’ll help her with the bags. Kyle has something to show you.”

“There’s only four more,” Cindy said simply. “If you’ll just show me the way, I can manage.”

“Come with me.” David led her into the house while Kyle got a satisfied smile on his face as he looked at his mother.

Helen realized then that there was something very important she hadn’t been told. She glanced back at Sam before returning her attention to her son, showing her concern. “Sweetheart, is everything alright?”

He nodded with his smile still in place. “Yes. There’s just something you should know, and we decided I should show you before you were told. When I told Dad about it, he confided in me later that he almost wished he hadn’t known first. And, since he seemed to go out of his way to not tell you in the last year, I thought now would be a good time.”

Helen shrugged as her concern was mitigated by Kyle’s lack of worry. “Very well, Darling. I’m ready when you are.”

Kyle motioned to the open door. “Let’s go introduce you to everyone.”

They walked in together through the kitchen with Sam close behind. Helen’s mouth dropped open in astonishment as she looked at the new surroundings. “This is exquisite! Your Jacob did all this?!”

Kyle grinned. “Yes. He told me he did it over the course of a few years. A little here, a little there.”

She took in all the wood bordering and the cabinets and table as they made their way out and into the hallway. They stopped to give her a chance to look into the dining room and the large table within it that Jacob had made himself. “How artistic. He makes everything look so unique.”

Kyle slowed a little to give her time to catch up and do his best to contain his excitement. “I’ll have to show you the new rooms later. Right now, there’s something more important to show you.”

Helen’s eyebrows raised. “More important? Show me.”

“It’s in here,” he said as he approached the entrance to the living room.

She followed him inside the doorway and came to a halt when she saw the others in the room. Things had seemed so quiet, she’d assumed no one else was there and Kyle was just wanting to show her some other new edition to the house that was once her home. Her social manners remained in place as she smiled politely to them all. “Good evening. I wasn’t expecting so many people here.” Her eyes focused first on a young man who she did not recognize. If it was one of her son’s old friends, she would be amazed. Troy was too tall, Andy was too blonde and Brian, she was told, looked similar to Andy. On the other side of the room was a woman she would guess was near Kyle’s age and she also seemed well into her third trimester of pregnancy, if she was any authority on the subject. The man sitting next to her was all too obvious to her. She’d seen pictures sent to her by David in the past of this young man and she could say that the pictures did not do him justice.

But what tested her decorum and poise was the child sitting in Jacob’s lap. “Who do we have here,” she asked as she stepped forward slowly.

Kyle grinned and put a hand on her shoulder. “Tyler is the one sitting over there. He’s a friend of ours. This is Stephanie who is a friend of mine from college and who used to work with me at the DA’s office before I came back home. This obviously is Jacob and the little boy he’s holding is Matthew. My son.”

Her mouth dropped open again in elated joy as she looked at the beautiful little boy before her. “Oh, my goodness. Look at you. Of course, you have to be my grandson. You look just like your father.”

Matthew, not averse to attention smiled up at her from his safe perch on Jacob’s lap and said, “hello. Who’re you?”

“Who am I?” From Tyler’s vantage point, the woman looked like she was radiating pure joy. “Who am I?!” Her laugh was elegant as she leaned down to the little boy and said lovingly, “I am your magical fairy grandmother.”

Kyle was polite and gave her a moment to enjoy herself while mentally remembering to keep her from spoiling Matthew for the rest of his life. “Mom? There’s something else you should know.”

“What’s that, Darling,” she asked as her eyes continued to look at Matt, taking in every detail.

“Stephanie, the woman sitting next to, is Matt’s mother. And she’s carrying our next child as we speak.”

Helen stood and regarded the woman again in a new light. “I’m going to have to scold your father for not telling me all this. Hello, Stephanie, is it? It’s a shame we’re meeting so late I would get to know you better if I could.”

Stephanie was too quick witted to not detect the sound of money in Helen’s voice as she rose to her feet. “Not at all. I just recently got here myself.”

“Oh, well, we have so much to talk about then.” She looked around and centered her attention on Jacob. “And you and I really should talk. You have done excellent work on this house from what I’ve seen so far.”

Jacob was still a little overwhelmed by Helen’s entrance. She looked like a cross between a powerful CEO, a gentle grandmother and a queen. “Thank you. It’s been a work in progress in some ways, I guess you could say.”

“My dear,” she said with casual confidence, “I’ve seen lesser work sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The house may be a work in progress as you say, but your artistic ability is rarely found in such work. Do you have a website you use to contact clients?”

“Well,” he felt like he was suddenly in a job interview for some reason. “I’ve taken pictures of some of my stuff and put it on Facebook and LinkedIn.”

She shook her head. “Before I leave, I want to see as much as you have. I’ll have Cindy take pictures and I’ll get in touch with a marvelous young man who does website design for some of the best businesses in Los Angeles. Work such as you’ve done here shouldn’t go unrewarded.”

Jacob seemed both surprised and confused as he let go of Matt so he could wander around on his own again. He was totally caught off guard and unable to really respond. Thankfully, he was saved by David’s timely arrival along with a smirking Sam. “Helen, you’ve been here, ten minutes. Why don’t you go get changed and then we can sit and visit like normal people?”

Helen looked at him, giving him what could almost be described as a baleful look if she didn’t sound so pleased. “Why is it I’m just now finding out about my grandson?”

David smirked and folded his arms over his chest as he leaned against the doorway. “Because I didn’t want to be robbed of the chance of seeing your face when you found out.”

Helen turned to Kyle and said, “and now you know why we divorced.” Her statement was met by quiet laughter from David and Sam both and even her smile negated any animosity in her words. She turned and walked up to David and smiled. “Alright then, I’ll go upstairs and change. It’s been a long day and a longer drive. Honestly, you live in the middle of nowhere, dear.”

As she walked past and headed up the stairs he answered back, “last time I checked, you were born here too…”

The room was silent until they heard the click of Helen’s heels disappear. “So…” David came around and sat down in his recliner. He could barely contain his grin as he met his son’s eyes. “This should be a fun few days.”

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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Chapter Comments



2 hours ago, tesao said:

I get so excited when I see updates to this terrific story!  Nothing makes me happier than to see Tyler’s growing assimilation into the “family”.  Well, I also still have my hopes set on him and Sean but, one thing at a time.

Of course she would be driven in a RR Cullinan rather than, say, a Phantom.  They do live in the middle of nowhere, after all.  🙄

Indeed.  And I'm sure it was the only worthwhile vehicle that was available at her apartment in New York City.  I mean, really, how else are you expected to get around when you're "roughing it?"

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1 hour ago, Tonyr said:

As every new chapter is posted i love this family more. May it never come to an end.

All good things must come to an end.

Of course, I said that last time and look where I am...

Edited by Jdonley75
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16 minutes ago, Jdonley75 said:

Yeah..... 

She does that.  A lot.

On a side note, every time I see her in my mind, unlike everyone else who are just constructs of my imagination, Helen is Glenn Close.

I know!  I know!  I'm just saying.

Or Helen Mirren

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1 minute ago, Andre Delport said:

Or Helen Mirren

In my mind, she's always Glenn.  Helen Mirren perhaps without the accent.

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I’m curious to know what Helen knows/knew about the estrangement between David and Kyle.  Kyle cut everyone out of his life when the incident happened, I’m surprised the Helen we are meeting would have allowed things to go as they had for as long as they had.  Maybe the um “magic wand” of her presence will shed light on that.  😬

The boys running around with that dildo/wand was so natural and so hilarious-as humorous as the situation was from the very beginning it was the following that broke out my laughter:

“We thought it was a magic wand.”

Brian’s shoulders shook with the effort of containing his laughter, saying to no one in particular, “oh, it is…”. It would be Brian to point that out, smh. 🤣

Seeing the reveal of the new rooms to everyone was special on several levels, it wasn’t just about Jacob and Kyle showing the new space where they were going to live the next chapter of their lives and it wasn’t just about the work being a joint effort (these guys are magical when they join forces);  I took away the great pride in Jacob’s artistry, not his work, as Jacob really is a master craftsman (I have an affinity for wood furniture so the excellence of Jacob’s work retains my interest....there is also something about a man who can create with his hands that is a turn on). 🤷‍♀️

To see Tanner emerge from his self imposed isolation is lovely, to know he was to himself because he thought he was dumb when the absolute opposite was true was heartbreaking.  Blake was weaving his usual spell, this time on Tyler, for someone who seemed child averse, Tyler handles himself well with them, especially Andy’s boys.  

We kind of got spoiled with the two chapters a few days apart (okay, I did); I would love to have a repeat of that (or more) this week and I am being admittedly greedy this time-my birthday’s this week and that would be an awesome present.

Just saying....😉

Oh and Happy Belated Anniversary to “The Acquittal”.  

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3 hours ago, mfa607 said:

Love the magic wand! 😂😂😂

Great chapter! Loving that we’re able to see what Kyle’s mom is like! Finally Alex is where he belongs. Thank you!

It was never going to be an instant merging.  These things take time as adults while it's easier for children to trust so completely.  Kyle and the others have a very long history together of shared experiences and memories.  Tyler is just started on that path.  But they have shown him their willingness to bring him into the fold and give him the family is right deserved.

And the "magic wand" was just so funny when it popped into my head I couldn't not share it.

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2 hours ago, Philippe said:

While too young to be recognized or trained in high magic, the boys have stumbled upon this most powerful magic and seen to it the new house receives a proper room to room wave of the wand in witness of all; magical moments indeed.

A perfect introduction to the family gathering to celebrate love, commitment, and a growing family. The magic has already brought enlightenment to Tyler as he can now see himself as they do.

Great chapter! 🤗

High magic, indeed. ;)

Not all of life is a daily struggle.  There are times when things start to settle in and everyone gets a moment to relax, smile and enjoy the moment.  That's why those happy moments like weddings and babies being born are so important that we latch onto them for so long.  They are bright points in our lives that make the harder days easier to manage.

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19 minutes ago, FanLit said:

I’m curious to know what Helen knows/knew about the estrangement between David and Kyle.  Kyle cut everyone out of his life when the incident happened, I’m surprised the Helen we are meeting would have allowed things to go as they had for as long as they had.  Maybe the um “magic wand” of her presence will shed light on that.  😬

Helen knew as much as David knew, really.   As her time there will show, the two of them are still friends, not unlike Kyle and Stephanie. (like father, like son)  Her presence is going to be a catalyst for a lot of things.  Both good and... interesting.  Also, something big is going to be hinted at that's probably going to throw everyone into a tizzy.

23 minutes ago, FanLit said:

The boys running around with that dildo/wand was so natural and so hilarious-as humorous as the situation was from the very beginning it was the following that broke out my laughter:

“We thought it was a magic wand.”

Brian’s shoulders shook with the effort of containing his laughter, saying to no one in particular, “oh, it is…”. It would be Brian to point that out, smh. 🤣

I think it was many months ago when that scene just jumped into my head and wouldn't go away so I felt obligated to add it.  I'm glad I did too.

24 minutes ago, FanLit said:

Seeing the reveal of the new rooms to everyone was special on several levels, it wasn’t just about Jacob and Kyle showing the new space where they were going to live the next chapter of their lives and it wasn’t just about the work being a joint effort (these guys are magical when they join forces);  I took away the great pride in Jacob’s artistry, not his work, as Jacob really is a master craftsman (I have an affinity for wood furniture so the excellence of Jacob’s work retains my interest....there is also something about a man who can create with his hands that is a turn on). 🤷‍♀️

Yeah, someone is going to point all this out and take some appropriate steps.  Jacob really undercuts himself when he says he's just a carpenter and nothing more.  It would seem that no matter how old he gets or how comfortable he feels around his family, he still has a few things to learn about seeing all of his true worth.

26 minutes ago, FanLit said:

To see Tanner emerge from his self imposed isolation is lovely, to know he was to himself because he thought he was dumb when the absolute opposite was true was heartbreaking.  Blake was weaving his usual spell, this time on Tyler, for someone who seemed child averse, Tyler handles himself well with them, especially Andy’s boys.

Tyler has been around Tanner and Blake for over two years now.  They've gotten used to him and the changes he sees are part of what makes their bond so special.

28 minutes ago, FanLit said:

We kind of got spoiled with the two chapters a few days apart (okay, I did); I would love to have a repeat of that (or more) this week and I am being admittedly greedy this time-my birthday’s this week and that would be an awesome present.

Just saying....😉

Oh and Happy Belated Anniversary to “The Acquittal”.  

I'm finding it is best to post on Saturday nights/Sunday mornings.  I think that might start being a thing.

Still can't believe people are still reading that. :blushing:

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22 minutes ago, Kitt said:

Well it's about time Tyler figured out he had become part of the extended family. As I said earlier, resistance is futile. 

So...momma thinks Tyler is a cousin or something? Bears a resemblance to Kyle? Interesting since none of the others ever mentioned that. Might be interesting to dig into family trees a bit.

I think she was just screwing with him, personally.  Might have been something about his attitude in the moment.  You can never really tell with Stephanie sometimes.

Of course... maybe that might have something to do with how quickly the boys took to him. 🤔

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