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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. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

The Empty Spaces Between Us - 8. Chapter 8

“Remind me again why I agreed to come out here with you,” Drake absently muttered as he followed Tyler around a car lot, looking from one truck to another.

“Because, after months of waiting, I finally got my settlement, so I need to get a new truck,” Tyler explained with an absent smirk on his face as he looked over all the vehicles around them. “Besides, you weren’t doing anything today and I figured it would be helpful to get a second opinion.”

Drake sighed but chuckled a little despite himself. “Okay. All good points. I guess I’ve just never been one for pickup trucks like everyone else. You already have one anyway, why do you need another?”

“It’s not mine,” he explained. “Troy and Mr. Adams said it was on loan until I could get my own. I’m not wild about driving around town in something with the company logo on it anyway and they don’t have an endless supply.” He stopped to peer into the cab of a truck, giving it a cursory look before moving on.

“Well, pick one,” Drake said dismissively. “It’s not like one is better than the others.”

Tyler kept moving as he scanned the lot for other models. “Well, price and durability are kind of important right now. It’s not like I have millions to spend.”

“You have twenty-five thousand from your accident. Would’ve been more if you’d been seriously injured, thank God that wasn’t the case. That should be enough to get something with a decent down payment, so your monthly bill isn’t very expensive.” He kept up with his friend and checked out a few trucks nearby, hoping he could find something affordable for Tyler. “You’re lucky you don’t have a big rent problem like you thought you would.”

“Another reason why I wanna get a truck and give Troy back the one I’m borrowing,” Tyler said. “Giving Ma a job that pays her enough that we’re able to afford the house easily instead of me giving away half my monthly pay was something I never expected from them.” He was nearly as shocked as his mother the day she told him they wanted to hire her as their new office assistant. They were willing to train her to run the office side of the business and learn how to do appraisals for clients in the future. Within the next couple years, she would end up making more than Tyler did and that in itself was a godsend for them both. In addition to the pay, it raised her own confidence that she didn’t even realize she’d lost since her divorce. Tyler saw the change in her once she started at the beginning of the year. He couldn’t have been happier for her.

“That one over there looks nice.” Drake pointed over to a blue Tacoma nearby.

“Naw,” Tyler said with a shake of his head. “I’m kind of leaning towards another Silverado but not really sure. Maybe a Ford F-series this time. Just a newer model instead of a 2011.”

Drake laughed silently. “Well then pick one.”

“It’s not that simple,” he replied with a little playful annoyance. “Besides, I’m sort of waiting on Jacob to show up. He said he’d be out here.” He stopped in his tracks to look around the lot, wondering if he missed him.

“Oh.” Drake’s voice betrayed a little nervousness. “I… didn’t know he’d be out here too.”

Tyler was too engrossed in his search for a truck and Jacob to notice the odd note in Drake’s voice. “I texted him last night and he told me he was gonna be out here.” He checked the time on his phone to make sure. “Probably in a couple minutes or so.”

Tyler continued walking around, looking from one prospect to another while Drake had slowed his pace slightly, having lost some of his enjoyment of the day with what he was afraid might happen with Jacob added to their little adventure. He kept his eyes open for any sign of Jacob as he kept pace a little more with Tyler but still a few feet behind him. He wasn’t sure why he suddenly felt uncomfortable, but he had a feeling that things might not end well before the day was through.

Tyler had been out to the dealership a week earlier with Jacob on his first walk though while Jacob was shopping for his own new truck. He observed and took note of all that Jacob did so that when it came time for him to deal with a salesman, he would be ready. He didn’t want to come off as too young to handle this on his own or that he needed help. He was the one who pointed out the truck Jacob eventually chose. The longer they discussed it the more certain Jacob became that that was the truck he wanted for his business.

After some time had passed, a salesman eventually wandered by and asked if he could help out any. Tyler went into a list of things he was looking for and within minutes, the man helpfully escorted Tyler and Drake over to another aisle of trucks. “We got this 2015 Silverado on the lot a couple weeks ago. It’s a dependable truck that’ll carry pretty much everything you’re looking for.”

Tyler looked it over carefully. He still wasn’t sure he another Silverado, but he knew that it would be as dependable as the last one, up until the last few seconds of its life. He also knew that most men stuck to the same model of truck they first get in their life. The truck, in some ways, becomes a part of them. “What’s it got?”

The salesman opened the driver door and motioned Tyler to climb up inside. “This one is a double cab with Bluetooth and navigation system. Was top of the line the year it came out.” The guy went around to the passenger side and hopped in. He pulled the keys out of his pocket and handed them over to Tyler. “Why don’t we take a drive around the block? That way you can get a feel for her.”

Tyler stuck his head out of the door and looked at Drake with a smile. “Hop in the back.”

Drake smirked and obliged him, buckling in before Tyler pulled the truck out it’s parking space and carefully drove out of the lot. He mostly ignored the salesman giving Tyler his pitch as he watched him slowly navigate out of the lot and onto the street. He sat back and just watched the scenery go by and listened to Tyler’s voice as he asked questions. He was a little impressed that someone so young was being so serious and asking thoughtful questions. But Tyler has always seemed to come off as more mature than his age would suggest. In some ways, at least.

Tyler drove around for about five minutes before returning to the lot. He was satisfied with what he found but he wanted to look at a few more before making a final decision. The salesman offered to show him a few more trucks which he agreed to and he and Drake followed the man around the lot from one truck to another. Tyler already had discounted them as choices though and was heading back to the one he liked when he noticed Jacob walking up to them. He grinned and waved to him as he approached. “Where’ve you been?”

“Sorry,” Jacob said with a tight smile. “Had a busy morning with a couple phone calls.” He noticed Drake in the background and nodded. “Hey. How’s it going?”

Drake put on a pleasant smile and replied, “oh, not much out of the ordinary. Tyler’s been looking for just the right truck today.”

“What do you think about this one,” Tyler asked him as he pointed out the truck he just recently drove.

Jacob looked it over and peered into the truck’s bed. “It’s nice. I wouldn’t pay more than fifteen with the bed looking a little worn.”

Tyler frowned a little and glanced in the back as well. “Yeah, I noticed it earlier. If it weren’t all scratched up, I probably would’ve bought it already.” Drake kept his face neutral, wondering if Tyler was working the salesman over with Jacob. He had his doubts knowing Jacob was far too honest a person to play that kind of game.

The salesman, sensing a potential buy stepped up. “Well, we could knock off a little bit from the price. Could see about getting you a liner for it too.”

Tyler pondered it for a moment before answering. “Let me think about it for a bit and I’ll get back to you.”

The man nodded before pulling out a business card and handing it to him. “Alright then. If you have any more questions, you just let me know.”

Tyler thanked the man for his help before he left, leaving the three of them standing around the truck. “I do kinda like it,” Tyler said in a quiet voice to not be overheard. “Just seems a bit much.”

“Just start at thirteen and negotiate up,” Jacob said. “He’ll probably meet you at around fifteen. Should keep you from having a truck payment that way.”

Tyler smirked. “Glad we agree. So, you just out here to see how I’m doing after my last attempt?”

“I’m out here to pick up mine,” he said. “Got a new Ram. Should be big enough to do all the hauling I’m expecting from the new orders I’ve gotten.”

Tyler smiled happily for him. “Nice. You gonna manage on your own getting them moved once you’re done?”

“Actually, I was hoping maybe you could help or someone else on Troy’s payroll if they didn’t have anything else to do. I could pay Troy for the help and then they’d get paid as usual without any worries.”

“Sounds like a good deal. I’ll help whenever you need it.” He looked over at Drake who seemed to be keeping a distance between him and Jacob. “What did you think of the truck?”

Drake shrugged. “It’s your choice but I agree with Jacob. Don’t pay more than fifteen thousand for it. And make sure you stop by and get better insurance when you’re done.”

Jacob looked over at Drake with a small smirk. “See? It’s official. Go get started.”

Tyler looked over at Drake just in time to see him blush a little and suppress a smile. “Sure,” he replied in an absent voice, wondering what was up with Drake. “I think I’ll go get something to eat and then come back and start negotiating.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Jacob said. “I’m gonna get my truck and then head home to get back to work. See you later, Tyler. Drake.” He nodded to both and then walked away, heading to the offices on the lot.

Tyler was slowly heading back to his truck with Drake at his side when he said, “you okay? You looked a little uncomfortable there for a minute.”

“I’m fine,” Drake replied, keeping pace with Tyler. “Just feeling hungry now that you mentioned getting something to eat.”

“Okay,” he replied with a little sideways glance at his friend. He drove them to a small place nearby and went in to eat. Tyler figured the longer he was away from the dealership, the better things might be for him when he gets back. They got their orders and took a table near the windows to enjoy the sunshine. It had been a cold winter and the weather was just starting to feel more like Spring. The warm sun coming through the windows was a welcome sight. Tyler was feeling hopeful that most of his troubles will be behind him once he can get a fair deal and finally put his accident behind him.

As they ate, Tyler noticed that Drake seemed quieter than usual. He studied him across the table, wondering what was bothering him. Their friendship was a special one for him. True, the sex had been nice, but it had cooled a lot over the last few months. In fact, it had probably been at least a month now since he last stayed the night with him. Maybe he was missing that? “So, you got anything you wanna share?”

Drake looked up unexpectedly. “Ah. No. No, not really. Why do you ask?”

He shrugged. “Just curious. You seemed pretty quiet earlier.” He was trying to pinpoint the moment Drake seemed to get quiet and then he smiled a little when he felt he had figured it out. “Still nursing a crush for new and improved Jacob?”

Drake blushed a little, which Tyler thought was out of character for him but also cute in a way. “No. Crush isn’t what I’d call it. It’s what I’d call what you maybe feel, though.”

Tyler grinned. “Oh, come on. I like him. And yeah, he’s hot and seems to have put on a bit more muscle over the winter. If you think you want it bad enough, go get it.”

Drake wasn’t entirely comfortable where this was leading but figured he may as well go with it. “I’m very aware of how much muscle he has on him. He likes to lift free weights three times a week at the gym.”

Tyler stopped in mid bite, staring at him as he took in Drake’s words. “Oh yeah? You going to the gym a lot more now?”

“About once a week or so,” he replied with a shrug.

“And you’ve ran into Jacob out there, I guess.” He felt a twinge of something inside him he couldn’t put his finger on. It wasn’t jealousy exactly, but he wasn’t entirely sure where it was coming from.

Drake nodded. “Once or twice…”

“Did you…” Tyler wasn’t sure if he was even allowed to ask the question and even less sure if he wanted to hear the answer.

Drake could tell Tyler was starting to get upset and decided to shut down the conversation. “It wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about it. Jacob is a pretty private person in case you didn’t know.”

Tyler could feel the heat on his face as a deep frown set in. “I see.” He looked down at his food, unsure of what to do or say next, if anything. He wasn’t mad at Drake and yet he was infuriated.

Drake sighed and looked away. “I knew I should’ve kept my mouth shut.”

Tyler closed his eyes and tried to get a grip on his emotions and was marginally successful. “No. I’m not mad. I guess… just surprised. Is it serious?”

Drake barked out a small laugh. “It’s Jacob. It’s never serious. It wasn’t even something I think we planned on doing. Just invited him over to dinner and one thing lead to another.”

“Kinda like with me then, huh?”

Drake met his gaze and frowned in disappointment. “Nothing like you. I wasn’t sure what was going to end up happening with you. With him, I knew exactly how it was going to go. We would talk, have a few laughs, a good meal, then we had sex and he went home.”

Tyler blinked in surprise, not expecting Drake to be so blunt and so unemotional about it. He never sounded like that when they talked about their sex together. “You sound disappointed.”

Drake laughed. “I mean… No, it wasn’t bad or anything. I just knew going into it that that’s all it was ever going to be. Just a random thing with him. He’s not interested in a relationship.”

Tyler’s feelings started to ebb. He realized he had no reason to mad at anyone. It was just his infatuation getting a hold of his feelings. “Well, I guess I’m kinda sorry, then.”

Drake snickered. “Don’t be. I went into it with my eyes wide open.” He took a bite of his burger before adding. “Something I can’t say the same about you.”

“Hey, you told me in the beginning,” he said, pointing a finger at him. “That it was up to me what was gonna happen between us. You’re still my friend, so you don’t need to worry that I’m suddenly gonna talk shit about you for no reason.”

“Well, thanks for that. But, that’s not what I meant.”

“What did you mean then?”

“I meant while I have my eyes wide open about Jacob, you’re still thinking that you can get a ‘happily ever after’ with him.” Drake leaned in closer to him. “He’s never going to be the guy you want him to be. He’s your friend and he likes you a lot. That much I can tell. He doesn’t make friends easily. I know that because I’m pretty sure I don’t qualify in that category. You don’t see him inviting me over to his house or to go on trips with him. You need to stop wishing for something you’re never gonna get and start looking for someone you can love and who’ll love you back the way you need.”

Tyler frowned a little. Somewhere, deep down inside him, he knew Drake was telling him the truth. He just didn’t want to hear it. “We’ll see. Let’s finish eating and get back to the dealership. That guy should be ready to come down to where I want him to by now.”

Drake nodded and they finished eating the rest of their meal in silence. Tyler figured if Drake could get Jacob in bed maybe he could do the same. And maybe he could convince Jacob otherwise as to what kind of relationship they could have. Right now, he had to push those thoughts aside and get this deal done so that he could get this borrowed truck back to Sam and Troy. He had a lot he wanted to accomplish and hoped he could get this truck without having to pay more than he wanted to.

He was right to wait. By the time he found the salesman again, he’d already talked to the owner of the dealership and he was able to get them down to under the amount he had wanted to spend. They made plans for him to return the next day so he could drop off the check and drive it off the lot. In the meantime, they were going to clean it up and get it ready for him. Drake was impressed with how well Tyler handled it all. They made small talk and decided to stop at the bar to have a couple drinks before Tyler dropped Drake back off at home.

It didn’t take them long to settle at a table after getting their drinks. Tyler liked The Steel Door because he always felt more relaxed there. Most likely, he figured, it was the atmosphere. Everyone always seemed to be polite and friendly. In the nine months he had been going, not once had he heard an argument or seen the police come in. Even the couple times Drake hadn’t been with him, the rest of the crowd had been mostly polite, and he even found one or two people to chat with at the bar. They sat next to the area of the bar where the pool tables were. Tyler was feeling animated about picking up his new truck in the morning. After a couple text messages with Troy, they agreed to drop the truck off at Tyler’s work before Drake drove him to pick up the check and then to the dealership to finish signing the papers and get his keys.

They hadn’t meant to stay long but the beers and Tyler’s much improved outlook made the evening go from a couple beers to beers and some pool. Drake was glad Tyler wasn’t bothered by what he told him about Jacob. The topic wasn’t brought up again, and he could tell that Tyler had put it behind him. One of the things he loved most about Tyler was how he could let some things just roll off his back. Yeah, he’d been upset the first few days after his accident but once he got out of his funk, he started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. From where Drake stood, he felt the experience had been a good one for him in the end.

After they both won a couple games, Drake went to get them some refills. On his way back he noticed something at the table next to them. It was just a moment, and had he not just happened to look in that direction, he probably would have missed it. He smiled to himself and moved to join Tyler next to the table they were using, keeping his back to the one near them. As he passed the beer to Tyler, he leaned in and said in a quiet voice, “someone’s checking you out.”

Tyler glanced up at him dubiously. Drake smirked and nodded in confirmation before tilting his head to the table behind them. “You’re making that up,” he said as he took a drink before walking around the table, taking a subtle look behind Drake’s shoulder. There was a cluster of guys at the pool table behind theirs. One of them, a tall, slim looking guy with short blonde hair was turning in his direction and their eyes met for just a brief moment before he turned away again. Tyler was surprised and a little shaken. He couldn’t deny there was a small spark in that look, but the moment came and passed so fast he wasn’t sure what to do about it. He looked across the table and said to Drake, “One more game and then we need to go.”

Drake shrugged, figuring he was trying to be helpful before he started racking the balls for their fifth and final game.




Tyler yawned and stared out the passenger side window as the truck rumbled along down the nearly deserted stretch of road.

News from Harrisburg this morning. Prosecutors announced late yesterday that four of the five students charged with in the death of Jeremy Albera have agreed to plead guilty to reduced charges in exchange for providing testimony against, what the District Attorney’s office says, was the ringleader and ultimately the person responsible for the death of the young college freshman. Assistant District Attorney, K--”

Jacob pushed the button on the radio to change the station, and the sound of Stone Temple Pilots’ “Interstate Love Song” filled the cab. “Not in the mood for morning news,” he muttered more to himself than his passenger.

“I’m surprised you’re lucid enough to know the difference,” Tyler muttered with a playful smirk.

“Hey, I told them I’d get it to them before noon,” Jacob said as he kept his eyes on the road.

Tyler stretched and then reached for his coffee and hoped it would wake him up. It was still early enough in the day that the sun was barely risen, and they’d already been on the road for an hour. It didn’t help that Jacob called him at the last second the night before, asking for him to help him move the dresser and chest he’d made for a client. He failed to mention the client was in West Virginia. “It’s okay. Just… geez… plan your route next time.”

Jacob chuckled. “I’ll do better next time. Be a little more realistic in my deliveries. As it is, I think we’ll make it in time.”

“They don’t get it for free if you’re late or anything, will they?”

“Hell no! I worked for over a month on these. God knows, the stain they wanted took me forever to get just right. Three tries before it was the shade they wanted.” He reached for his own travel mug and took a drink of his own coffee. Within an hour, he’d need to find a place to stop and refill.

“Hey, how come we’re listening to the radio anyway? Shouldn’t you be playing your own tunes from your phone on here?” He reached up to check the touchscreen menu in the middle of the dashboard.

“I haven’t had time,” he said, swiping Tyler’s hand away playfully. “Why, you got a problem with STP?”

Tyler shrugged. “It’s not bad. Just… old.”

Jacob grinned. “Just because it’s old, doesn’t mean it’s bad. I used to love this stuff when I was a kid. Had a little stereo in my room. Got all sorts of music that I’d listen to.”

“Little Jacob jamming to the 90’s huh?” Tyler had to giggle at the mental image.

“I was twelve,” he replied. “I had some headphones. I’d plug them in and just escape from… everything.”

Tyler looked over at him. “Good memories?”

“Sort of,” he said with a wistful tone. “Just… the best I had at the time. I was living in that trailer next to yours back then.”

“Well, we don’t live there anymore,” Tyler said, trying to turn the subject to something more positive. There was a silence before he added, “seriously? You’ve had the truck for three weeks now and haven’t hooked up your bluetooth yet?”

“I’ve been busy,” he shrugged helplessly.

Tyler broke into a mischievous grin. “You don’t know how, do you?”

Jacob smirked and shook his head. “Not nice to talk like that to your boss…”

“Well, he’s not here,” Tyler said with a giggle. “You gonna call Troy up and tell him I’m being mean to you?”

“I can’t. Bluetooth isn’t set up in the truck yet.” They shared a laugh that helped to banish the gloom that had threatened to make the trip a longer one.

They passed the next few hours amicably, stopping once to get gas and refill their coffees before crossing the border into West Virginia. David checked in once or twice over text to make sure Jacob was okay. Jacob delegated texting duty to Tyler since he was still driving. Tyler was more than a little happy that he got paid to spend the day riding for hours with Jacob instead of more interior work. It was still a little too cold outside and not many people were wanting to get any big work done until late April. Once the weather warmed up and the rains stopped, he figured they’d be busy working on a host of new houses. His mom had told him there was a lot of jobs that needed to be completed so he figured there might be some overtime to be had if he ended up working a couple six-day weeks.

Jacob eventually slowed the truck as they pulled off the highway and entered a town called Beckley. “Check on my calendar for the address and see if you can get me there.”

“You don’t remember the address,” he asked as he opened Jacob’s phone and brought up the app and clicked on the date. “212 Joseph street.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket and put the address in to get directions.

Jacob frowned slightly. “Wonder why I forgot that,” he muttered more to himself.

Tyler proved to be a good navigator, giving him the directions until they pulled up in front of a charming house on a small street. Jacob shut the engine off and looked over at Tyler. “Just remember, be polite. I know I don’t need to say it, but this is like my first real long-distance sale and I wanna try and get my name out.”

Tyler rolled his eyes. “I’ll be good…”

Jacob grinned and got out of the truck and walked up to the front door with Tyler coming up behind him. As he knocked and waited for a reply, Tyler noted Jacob seemed a little nervous which only made him look cuter than usual. He did his best to suppress a chuckle and stored the memory for later in case Troy or Andy asked him about his trip.

The door opened and a middle-aged woman answered the door with an expectant smile on her face. “Are you the man with our new furniture?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jacob said as he extended his hand. “Jacob Eaton. You’re Mrs. Harris?”

“I am,” she said as she shook the offered hand. “Do you want to get started?”

“Yeah. We just need to know first where you want it put and get a look at it, so we know what all we need to make sure there’s no scratches or anything.”

“Sure. Come on in.” She held the door open as Jacob stepped inside with Tyler right behind him.

“This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes,” Jacob said. “It’s already put together.”

She led the two men up the stairs into a bedroom at the end of the small hallway. When she opened the door, she pointed to an empty space on the floor. “We’d like the dresser to go there and the chest off to the side, if that’ll be no trouble.”

Jacob studied the room, mentally figuring where the hard turns might be getting the furniture up the stairs and into the room. “No, no trouble. We’ll have it done here in a few minutes. Let’s go Tyler.” They headed back out to his truck to start removing some moving blankets and setting them up in spots around corners Jacob was concerned about hitting when they moved them up the stairs.

Tyler wasn’t looking forward to this part of the trip. The pieces Jacob had built were heavy he knew from helping him get them into the truck in the early hours of the morning. At least this time, there was plenty of sunlight to see what they were doing. Once Jacob was done setting up, he and Tyler started to move the chest out of the back of his truck and slowly walk it through the doorway into the house. As Jacob thought, the chest rubbed up against the edge of a wall as they turned it to go up the stairs, but the padded blanket protected the chest and the wall from any potential scratches. Once that was done, it was relatively easy to get it into the room and set down in the spot the lady wanted.

They repeated the process with the dresser, having to be a little more careful since it was longer. In all, by the time they finished and had her double check where they were sitting, they finished in under thirty minutes. Jacob thanked the woman for her business as she handed him a check. She seemed very grateful and Tyler thought he caught her checking out Jacob’s ass as he walked back to his truck. He grinned to himself as he followed him, wondering how professional Jacob would have been had he seen it. That was another thing he’d save to tell Andy later.

The trip back was mostly uneventful. They stopped to get lunch before they left Berkley and gassed up the truck. While on the way back, Tyler went ahead and set up Jacob’s Bluetooth so he could play his music in the truck without any need for the radio. “So, how’s things with your new truck,” Jacob asked as they were nearing the Pennsylvania border.

Tyler smiled brightly. “It’s great. Not as good or new as yours but I like it. Drake got a kick out of it when I brought it by his place last night. Took him out to dinner to thank him for helping me drop off Troy’s truck and take me out to pick up the new one.”

Jacob smiled a little and nodded. “Drake’s a good guy.”

“Yeah,” Tyler said. “He’s been trying to get me hooked up with someone else.”

“That doesn’t sound like him.” Jacob blinked and frowned slightly. “Are you and Drake…?”

“Oh, no no.” Tyler suddenly remembered and was quick to defuse a potential misunderstanding. “We were kind of having sex with each other for months. But, we’re really just friends now. Was never anything more than that. I’d never had sex with anyone before I met him. It started out as sort of just ‘educational’ but then it just kinda got to be a routine.”

“Okay. When did you two stop sleeping together?”

“Well,” Tyler wasn’t sure he wanted to tell. “I’ll just say it’s cooled down a lot this year. Maybe a couple times. Last time was like two weeks ago, I think? Like I said, we’re just friends.”


He sighed. “Jacob, in case you’re wondering, he already told me. It’s no big deal.”

There was a long silence and Tyler thought he’d gone too far until Jacob said quietly. “He really should find someone for himself. Dunno why he doesn’t.”

Tyler shrugged. “I think he’s still hung up on his ex.”

“What ex?”


“Who’s that?”

Tyler was a little surprised the he didn’t know. “Uh... His ex-lover. He died years ago. Cancer.”

“Oh,” Jacob sighed. “That’s sad.”

“He won’t admit it, but I think he took it kind of hard.”

“I know the feeling,” he replied.

“I can’t relate,” Tyler said with a shrug. “Drake’s the only guy I’ve slept with. Never really been in love with anyone. Thought about it, but…”

“You’ll know it when it happens.”

Tyler chuckled. “Oh, yeah? How?”

Jacob kept his eyes on the road. “You just will. You’ll feel a change inside you when you’re around them. They’ll bring out the best in you without you even knowing it.”

Tyler looked over at Jacob. His eyes seemed far away for a moment and Tyler couldn’t help but wonder who was stupid enough to walk away from Jacob? Alcoholic or not, he still obviously felt something for whoever this guy was who suddenly left him. Tyler hoped the guy never came back. He didn’t deserve someone like him. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Jacob seemed quick to change the subject. “I saw Andy the other day. He says his divorce might be done in a month or so.”

“Yeah,” Tyler nodded. “He’s eager to get it over with.”

“I almost feel like throwing him a party.” His thought was interrupted by his phone ringing. The screen on the dashboard popped the name up and Jacob chuckled. “Oh, God. Keep quiet.” Jacob hit the button and said, “you got good timing, Bri.”

Tyler heard a slightly higher pitched voice through the truck’s speakers. “Just getting out of the shower? All naked and pumped up?” Tyler quickly put his hand over his mouth to muffle his sudden laughter.

Jacob rolled his eyes. “No, dipshit. I’m about an hour away from you. I’m heading home from a job.

“Oh, well, don’t stop by. My loser ex-boyfriend is packing up the last of his shit and I’m at school working.”

“Wore out another one, huh?” Jacob giggled and made sure Brian could hear it


“So, what did you call for,” Jacob asked as he turned an amused smirk at the quietly laughing Tyler.

“Just wanted to let you know I saw your new pics you posted online and wanted to congratulate you on the job. I feel bad I haven’t called in a couple months.”

“Don’t be, Bri,” Jacob said with a soft smile. “You talk to Troy lately?”

“Actually, he called me last night which is what made me think of you,” Brian answered. “Said something about him and his wife breeding again.”

Jacob and Tyler both sat up a little more. “Wait, did he say for sure,” Jacob asked.

“Nothing definite,” Brian said, and Jacob could almost see that mischievous little grin of his in his mind. “But… Liz mentioned that she’s two weeks late.”

Jacob grinned. “That’s good news then. Wonder why they haven’t said anything?”

“Because, you never want to say anything for sure the first couple months,” Brian replied. “That’s when things usually go bad. They’re probably nervous since they lost one between Chase and Carter.”

“Yeah,” Jacob said. “Well, I’ll keep that to myself and swear Tyler to secrecy.”


Jacob looked at Tyler and nodded. “Uh… That’d be me,” he said.

There was a quiet moment before Brian said, “he sounds young. New boytoy?”

Tyler’s eyes widened as his face burned bright red. Jacob laughed at the look on his face. “No! He’s one of Troy’s employees. Helped me with delivering the furniture I sold today. Be nice.”

“If you say so,” Brian said with more than a little amusement in his voice. “Anything else going on I don’t know?”

“Well, Tyler and I were just talking about Andy…”

“What about him,” Brian asked with a disinterested sigh.

Jacob frowned a little and sighed. “He might be getting his divorce settled in a month or two.”

“Well, whatever,” Brian said.

Tyler frowned slightly to himself. He could almost swear he remembered Andy talking about a friend named Brian. “He’s been through a lot of hell with her,” he blurted out.

“Well, no one said he had to marry her,” Brian said back.

“Bri,” Jacob said with a stern edge to his voice. “You should call him. I’m sure he’d like to hear from you.”

“I’ll think about it if I have time,” Brian replied. “I gotta get my next class started in a couple minutes. Talk to you later.” Without waiting to hear a response, the call ended, and the music resumed playing.

“What’s his deal with Andy,” Tyler asked.

Jacob shrugged. “No clue. Andy went into the marine corps and Brian wasn’t too happy about it. They used to be best friends but then they just drifted apart. Last time they saw each other was when they staged my intervention and even then, they barely spoke to each other.”

“He sounded like a dick,” Tyler said bluntly.

Jacob giggled. “He grows on you. He’s really a nice guy. Just has his moods is all.”

“Whatever,” Tyler said with a shrug.

The rest of the trip back home was uneventful. When Jacob finally parked his truck back at home they hopped out and stretched after being in the truck for what felt like all day. The sun was already starting it’s decent over the apple orchard and the horizon beyond. Jacob walked up to Tyler and gave him a light hug and patted his back. “Thanks for your help today. I really appreciate it.”

Tyler smiled brightly and returned the hug. “Welcome. Any time you want to get me out of work for a free trip, just let me know.”

Jacob grinned. “I’ll remember that. Go on home. I’ll let Troy know what time you got back so you get paid.”

“See you later,” Tyler said as he stepped over to his truck and climbed in. He would’ve done it for free if Jacob had asked. He started up his truck and waited to see Jacob walk up the ramp to the back door of the house before he pulled away and headed home.




Tyler parked in front of the house after having an interesting Saturday lunch with Andy and his kids. He’d been eager to use his grill now that the weather had warmed up but also needed an extra hand to keep the boys out of trouble. When he’d called Tyler that morning, he had no plans for the day so he told his mom he was heading over to Andy’s for the afternoon and would be back sometime later.

The afternoon had been a lot of fun for him and the boys as well. Tanner was starting to show signs of his dad’s sense of humor which only seemed to make him cuter now that he was fully out of his shell where Tyler was concerned. Blake seemed to be constantly wanting attention and loved being hugged and held. When he wasn’t sitting in Tyler’s lap while he hung around the grill with Andy, Blake was running around the yard, chasing insects. Tyler quickly learned to keep one eye trained on him most of the time.

Andy was more upbeat than usual. His lawyers had told him that his soon-to-be ex-wife was willing to pay some child support in exchange for what they both felt was an amicable settlement. With any luck, in two weeks the entire thing will be final, and he will officially be divorced. Tyler noted he wasn’t wearing his wedding ring anymore either. He felt a little bad for his friend but at the same time glad he seemed less stressed out.

Now he was back home, full of good food and ready to enjoy a quiet night at home for once. He and his mom decided he would be the one to park on the street while she got the garage since his truck barely fit into it and he wasn’t eager to get it scratched up getting in and out of it every day. He knew once winter returned, he’d be regretting that, but it was the best he could do for now. He went inside, seeing his mom sitting on the new sofa she bought shortly after she got her new job.

“Hey, Ma,” he said as he walked through the room.

“How was the lunch at your friend’s,” she asked, keeping her eyes on the show she was watching.

“Great,” he replied. “Andy can cook, that’s for sure. His kids are a lot of fun too.”

“Good.” She turned to look at him and then said with a little less ease, “Hey, ah, come sit down. I wanna talk to you about something.”

Tyler stopped just he was turning to head to his room and sighed. “Okay…” He turned and slowly went over to sit down with her. He couldn’t tell from the look on her face what to expect. She seemed upset but at the same time impassive.

She looked at him and then down at her lap and sighed. “I’m not sure exactly how to tell you…”

“Are you alright, Ma? Is this bad news?” He wasn’t sure he was in the mood for bad news.

She smirked and tilted her head. “I guess it depends on how you look at it. I got a call from your father today. Actually, his wife, but, yeah…”

Tyler blinked, sitting back a little. “So, that’s bad news, yeah. What did he want?”

Colleen put her hands on her lap and said, “she called to tell me that your father has pancreatic cancer.” Tyler’s face went blank as she continued. “The doctors are doing their best but at this point, it’s only a matter of time before he ends up in hospice care. He would like you to come visit before it gets to that point.”

Tyler sat there in the silence that followed, trying to remember what his dad looked like. What his voice sounded like. He tried to recall a good memory with him and the longer he sat there the more he knew that he didn’t have any. A hardness set into his chest. “Okay.” He stood up and headed to his room. “I’m gonna get a shower and then probably read a book the rest of the night.”

“Tyler…” Colleen went after him. “Don’t you at least want to see him? He’s going to die!”

“Everyone dies, Ma,” he replied, not breaking his stride and stepping into his bedroom.

“Sweetheart, I know he may not have been the best father in the world --”

“No!” He turned around, his eyes suddenly filled with cold fire as his voice got louder and angrier. “He wasn’t a dad at all! He was just a guy I knew back when I was little. He hasn’t given a shit about me in years. And now, when he’s dying, he suddenly wants to go with a clear conscious instead of having to own up to the fact that he never really cared about his son! He wants to go out, showing my aunt and uncle that he was so close to his only son that he came all the way from the little know-nothing town he lives in to go give his father a tearful and loving goodbye before he passes away.

“Well, he’s not gonna get it. He can lay and rot in that bed until he’s nothing but dust for all I care. As far as I’m concerned, I never had a father.”

Colleen took an involuntary step back. She wasn’t sure exactly how he was going to take the news, but this wasn’t what she expected. “Tyler,” she said in a calm voice, trying to get him to calm down, “I know it wasn’t fair what he did and I’m sure if he was asked, he would give some excuse for his actions. That’s just the kind of person he was. Is. But, you’re better than that. Don’t give up on one last chance to at least try and make amends with him. Do it for yourself, not for him.”

Tyler glared at her for what she was suggesting. “The next time I expect to see him is in hell. I don’t need to make amends with him, and I don’t need to give him any peace of mind.”

“So, what do I tell her when she calls again? Because she’s going to call.”

He looked around the room as if expecting to find an answer. “Tell her… she got the wrong number. He doesn’t have a son here.”

Colleen frowned in disapproval. “Okay. If that’s how you feel, then that’s how you feel.”

“Thank you.”

She turned and back to the living room. After two steps, she stopped and looked at him with sad eyes. “And, just so you know, you sounded just like him right then.”

He sighed and closed the door. Got a fresh set of clothes and went to take a shower and forget this ever happened.

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. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

I’m with Tyler.

I happen to be estranged from my father due to his choices; I also had a tough childhood due to his choices, things I’m still straightening out in my 40’s.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t harbor anger toward him but the adult me recognizes he did the best he could, even if it wasn’t enough.  I don’t hate him or wish him bad, I just wish him to stay in the life he’s living, which has nothing to do with me.

Assistant District Attorney, K--”

If Jacob has been in the mood for morning news, he probably would’ve gotten into an accident, Tyler would not have appreciated getting in two wrecks in less than a year, lol.

It was a nice tease, Jonathan.  Can’t wait to see the impact of the real reveal.


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22 minutes ago, FanLit said:

What’s going to happen on Jacob’s next long drive with Tyler?  Road head? 😉

There’s no “mile high club” for sex on the road, is there?  Probably not covered under road side assistance.

Do you recall any other trip Jacob took in his truck with Tyler in the last book.....?  :devil:

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8 minutes ago, Jdonley75 said:

Do you recall any other trip Jacob took in his truck with Tyler in the last book.....?  :devil:

*shamefully looking down at her feet*

No Mr. Donley, I don’t remember but I will review in time for the next quiz.  🥺

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9 hours ago, Jdonley75 said:

.  Also, don't think for a second Kyle never had a hookup in the last few years.  He may have never had a relationship with a guy, but he's just as good looking as Jacob and I'm sure Stephanie let Matt stay with her while Kyle, "worked out his aggressions." 🤣


*Sheepishly raising her hand*

So uh, Mr. Donley, Sir?

In reviewing for the Tyler/Jacob ride, I was reminded of Kyle dating Jason.

Does that count as a relationship?

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2 minutes ago, FanLit said:

*Sheepishly raising her hand*

So uh, Mr. Donley, Sir?

In reviewing for the Tyler/Jacob ride, I was reminded of Kyle dating Jason.

Does that count as a relationship?

Yes.  It does.   I was referring to around the same time frame as Jacob's booty call with Drake.🤣

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12 minutes ago, Jdonley75 said:

Yes.  It does.   I was referring to around the same time frame as Jacob's booty call with Drake.🤣


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2 minutes ago, Brokenbind said:

In all this, I still feel bad for Drake.  Not saying his issues are worse than anything others are dealing with but he's got sadness too.  That kind of loss can be difficult to get beyond.

That's a very good point.  

I'm not sure if he's unable to get beyond his loss.  I think he's just waiting for the right person to come along.  He may have thought it was Tyler at first, but he realized quickly that he could be a valued friend and didn't want that ruined.  We'll see what the future holds for him.

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35 minutes ago, tesao said:

I loved The Acquittal, and just finished reading it again, coincidentally.  Then I stumbled upon this story that was on my follow list, but which I never connected to that favorite tale.  What a treat to read Tyler’s story and, in the process, experience the extended backstory of The Acquittal before Kyle returned - with all the emotional devastation and dysfunction of that period.  You’ve told the story so artfully that one can feel the palpable void and upheaval Kyle’s departure created - in all the characters.

I’m with Tyler in his reaction to the sperm donor who abandoned him and left him in poverty.  However, for his own mental health, it might help him to go deliver that same scathing rebuke to his father - in person.  His terminal illness doesn’t erase his dad’s despicable behavior or earn him an absolution pass to the afterlife.  

I also think it was a dick move on Drake’s part to have sex with Jacob when he knew of his friend Tyler’s unrequited infatuation for the same guy - AFTER having essentially put Tyler off from expecting anything from Jacob.  Feels like a serious violation of the friendship code.  

Great chapter and remarkable story.  I’m so excited that we get more of The Acquittal family of characters!



Well, Tyler's reaction is completely understandable, if a little out of character for him.  We'll just have to see how that shakes out.

The only thing I'd say about Drake's actions concerning Jacob is that if he had intended to be a dick about it, he wouldn't have said anything and let the good times roll.  He knew Jacob would never say anything so his secret would have been pretty safe.  And him telling Tyler to back off of Jacob could be seen as his way of trying to spare him a broken heart if Jacob would reject him.  But, it could go either way.

I guess we'll just have to see how it turns out. :)

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6 hours ago, Rupert said:

Really enjoyed this chapter, well all of them actually.

Glad you're enjoying it.  Hope the rest of the chapters will be just as entertaining. :)

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On 7/9/2019 at 11:05 PM, Jdonley75 said:

Well, Tyler's reaction is completely understandable, if a little out of character for him.  We'll just have to see how that shakes out.

The only thing I'd say about Drake's actions concerning Jacob is that if he had intended to be a dick about it, he wouldn't have said anything and let the good times roll.  He knew Jacob would never say anything so his secret would have been pretty safe.  And him telling Tyler to back off of Jacob could be seen as his way of trying to spare him a broken heart if Jacob would reject him.  But, it could go either way.

I guess we'll just have to see how it turns out. :)

I have to disagree on one point. I think it would have been more respectful to both Tyler and Jacob if Drake would have kept things to himself about messing with Jacob. What makes it such a dick move is that he turns around and does this after so strongly discouraging Tyler from trying to pursue anything other than friendship with Jacob. What makes it ok for him, but not ok for Tyler?? Doesn't sound like much of a friend to me. 

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