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    Parker Owens
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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.

A to Z - 59. Chapter 59 Eustace

Eustace

No special warnings for this chapter.

Questions and issues raised in this chapter or any other chapter can be discussed at the A to Z story thread here: http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/topic/40860-a-to-z/

Entry for March 19, Sunday, continued….

Zander and I watched the grey police sedan back out of the driveway. Monica and Garrett sat in the back; they would see Allan off at the airport, and then drive with Ambrose back to the Whitley farm. I think they had a lot they wanted to talk about.

I thought it would be fun driving with Zander to Eustace's. He had the license and was a pretty good driver. We'd be on our own, and would have some time alone together. But once we got onto the interstate highway heading east, Zander seemed to grow silent and remote. Something was clearly bothering him. I tried to cheer him up by telling him about stupid things I'd done on the farm, or what we'd look for when we got there, but Zander seemed, if anything, more unhappy.

Eventually, I fell silent. Had I offended him? What did I do? The miles zipped by without conversation. Finally, I saw the exit: 'South Gabriel, New Salem.'

"This is us," I said.

Zander nodded.

We coasted to a stop at the end of the exit ramp. Zander turned right, and the road headed us in the direction of New Salem. I didn't know this road; I was hoping I could figure out where to go once we got into town. Not many miles later, I spied a sign welcoming us to the town, but it wasn't until we got to a stoplight in the middle of town that I recognized the main street. I knew where I was.

"Turn right," I directed.

Silently, Zander complied. Off to the right, I spied the feed store where I'd met Toby. We crossed a bridge, and I remembered the sharp left that took us down the highway toward Eustace's farm. We climbed the hill away from town, and entered the countryside. Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore. I pointed at a lonely looking barn on the right coming up.

"Pull over there, okay?" I asked.

Again, Zander did as I requested, wordlessly. He stopped the car and looked at his lap. He wouldn't meet my eyes.

"So what's the matter, Z?" I asked, gently. I'd never called him that before, but the endearment fit.

He shook his head.

"Come on, Z, talk to me. Did I say something stupid? How did I hurt you?" My beautiful Zander was about to lose it right there in the driver's seat. It killed me to see my love hurting so much. And he wouldn’t tell me why.

Zander wiped his nose with his hand. "It's not…you didn't do anything, Andy. It's just…you've got family now. Your Uncle, or this guy, Eustace, who we're going to meet…they can claim you. You'll want to go back and live with one of them. Hell, this time next week, you could be in Africa." He sniffed.

Suddenly, it became clearer, what had been bothering him.

"You thought I'd be leaving?"

He went on as if he hadn't heard me. "It's not like Family Services can put you away in some foster facility anymore. You could have a real home, with real relatives now. You could…" Zander's voice broke. His eyes squinted shut, holding back tears.

I released my seat belt and reached across the shifter and console to try and hug him. It was awkward, but I had to try. This was Zander leaning into me, crying. I held up my hand in front of his face.

"Z, look at this. Look," I demanded softly.

He opened his eyes and peered at my left hand.

"See this? This ring means one thing: I love you. Home to me is wherever you are, Zander. You’re my home, my heart, my love. You’re not a warm house or a free meal. I want to marry you and be with you for the rest of my life. I know I'm only a kid, but I know this, deep down, and it isn’t going to change. I love you Zander, and I'm not going anywhere in life without you, okay?"

He nodded, the tears still flowing.

"Yes, I'm blown away that I have an uncle who seems like a nice, kind, regular person. Yes, I'm even more blown away that Eustace Whitley wants to see me," I continued. I reached up, and turned Zander's tear stained face to mine, so I could look deeply into his beautiful eyes. "But what really blows my mind every morning is that I wake up and remember you love me, Zander. Don't ever doubt that."

And then I just had to kiss him. Zander had given me comfort and strength just through his lips; I wanted to do the same for him. The kiss we shared wasn't hot or passionate; it was gentle and warm and full of hope. Full of the relief that comes from knowing everything will turn out right.

When he'd recovered some, Zander spoke, our foreheads touching. "I'm sorry. I was just scared and stupid, Andy. God, I've been like that all week. I just…I just can’t ever lose you, Andy."

I looked into his eyes again and smiled. "You won't. You can't. You’re stuck with me, Zander."

He took a deep breath. "I'm not gonna lie, Andy, I've been afraid all week that something bad is going to happen to pull us apart. First Ms. Chandler, and then Ambrose and your uncle. Either one of them could have said 'Hi, Zander, we're taking your boyfriend with us now. Have a nice life.' And the worst thing was, I knew I had to be happy for you about Ambrose and your uncle showing up. I've been worried about you seeing Eustace the whole way. What if you wanted to stay with him?"

"The farm is a wonderful place, Z. I hope you'll like Eustace, too. But remember what I said: my home is right next to you."

Finally, I saw him smile. Now the sun was shining again. "Since when do you call me 'Z'?"

"Since now," I answered, kissing him again, "it's just for us."

"So, we go find Eustace?" he asked a few moments later.

I nodded.

Zander started the car again, and we drove. The road wound and curved so much, it was pretty much double yellow striped down the middle all the way along.

"You sure you know where we're going?" Zander asked.

I nodded. I knew where we were. We came to a crossroads with a house and church on the right. We took a right, then a quick left. I kept watching for my landmark; a house with worn red paint and a collection of dead vehicles off to the side. Soon enough, there it was. "Turn right. There."

Zander came to a stop, looking at the dirt track. "You want me to take that road?"

"Yup. That's the way."

Zander eased the Toyota down the bumpy lane. Winter hadn't been very kind to the road. Withered grasses whispered against the sides of the car in places. Memories of a long, long walk along this road, going the other way, stumbling in the dark, came back to me. We passed grey-brown fields, waiting for the green of spring. The road passed into woods and forest, not as dark as last summer, because the leaves haven't come out yet. We bumped past Toby's parents' house. There. On the left, angling in, down a side hill.

"Turn left there." I pointed.

Zander knew better than to question me this time. He slowed way, way down and hauled on the steering wheel to make the sharp turn. Not at all far now. Zander powered us up the steep rise, and we emerged into the open. The upper field was off to my left. I could see the pond and barn coming up as we crested the rise. Zander crept along downhill around the pond.

"Park there," I indicated a spot by the tractor shed.

I think Zander was all too grateful to turn off the engine.

I opened my door. "Come on," I said to Zander. I didn't want to hang around in the car, wondering what to do.

He got out uncertainly, catching up with me as I beckoned him alongside me. I could smell the farm again. It was different from a summer smell, but still good. I remembered how much I'd liked it there. We walked along the lane in front of the house, around to the kitchen door. Zander followed behind me up onto the porch.

Eustace stood in the doorway. He must have known we were coming. Did Ambrose call to warn him? The old man appeared freshly shaven and stood straight as looked me directly in the eye.

"You came back," he said.

I nodded. What other answer was there?

"You came back," he repeated, and this time he couldn't suppress a tight smile. And then I found myself gripped in a tight hug. He thumped me on the back. "Where the hell have you been, young Eric?" he spoke hoarsely into my left shoulder.

Funny. I didn't remember Eustace being shorter than me.

He released me and looked me up and down. "You put on some weight," he observed.

I felt myself blush a little. Between Monica and Kaz, I'd been eating like a horse and maybe adding some muscle. My clothes have been feeling tighter again, lately.

"And who are you? I don't believe we've met." Eustace directed his attention to Zander. He stuck out his hand in greeting.

"I'm Zander Stevenson. That's short for Alexander," my boyfriend smiled his best smile. "How are you, sir?"

"Well, come on in, you two, come on in and set you down, both of you," Eustace beckoned us toward the kitchen table enthusiastically.

We sat, kind of awkwardly. I had the feeling he had been looking for our arrival the second Ambrose hung up.

"I was just resting a moment when you came in," Eustace said transparently. "Need some coffee?"

Coffee? I didn't usually drink the stuff, but Zander spoke up for some: "Yes, please."

Eustace practically bustled, and three cups appeared almost instantly on the table. I was getting coffee, anyway. I guess I wasn't the only one nervous about this visit.

"I got the box from Ambrose," I started, embarrassed.

Eustace chuckled a little. "Young Gerry found that stuff playing around in the barn at Thanksgiving. Really made his day, I can tell you. He made the connection to the big mystery of the disappearing Eric. I think he recognized the shirt."

Once again, I found myself flushing. "I'm sorry for all the trouble I must have caused," I said, head down.

Eustace sat down.

"Well, I won't say I didn't worry, because I did. And I won't say it didn't make me sick in my gut, because I was. And I won't say I wasn't disappointed, either, but Toby and I made do for a time. Trouble was, he could only give me weekends and such," Eustace said, becoming serious.

I hung my head.

"The hell of it is," he spoke more quietly, "I figured out that I was kind of attached to you, Eric. What I'd really like is an explanation."

I looked first at Eustace, then at Zander. Then I took a deep breath. "Eustace, you need to know something. A lot of things. First, I have a new name; I've had three in the last year. Eric was the second of the names I used. My name is Andy now. Andrew Stevenson."

Eustace nodded slowly. "You never were much of an Anderson."

"The other thing you need to know is that I'm gay, Eustace. Zander isn't just my friend. He's my boyfriend. In fact, he my fiancé. I'm going to marry him."

I reached out to take Zander's hand and gave it a good squeeze.

I looked fearfully at the old man. He'd truly been good to me, and I didn't want to hurt or disappoint him. But I wasn't going to hide anymore. Eustace had to know me for who I was.

To say Eustace looked astonished would be like saying a summer lightning storm looked a little bright.

"Is that so?" he croaked out a few moments later.

I nodded. "Yessir. It's true."

Eustace's brow furrowed. "Humpf," he said and crossed his arms over his chest.

I'd encountered 'humpf' before.

"Well, that's one way to surprise a fellow," he added, eventually. He looked sharply at me. "You're not joking, are you? You'd better not be."

I shook my head. "No, not joking."

"Humpf." Eustace looked at me, then at Zander, then back at me. "Well, if you two are happy with each other, I'm not about to tell you different. I've spent too much of my life tending to my own business to begin tending yours." He paused and made a puzzled kind of face. "But married? Can you even do that if you're...well, in my day, we called it 'queer,' and then only in back of the bowling alley."

Zander suppressed a laugh, unsuccessfully. "Sir, I think we say 'gay' now, and we say it pretty much everywhere. And yeah, it's legal."

Eustace pursed his lips, musing. "Guess I'm showing my age. I suppose I ought to have known that. But aren't you two getting hitched way early in your lives? What's the rush?"

So for the second time that day, it was time to spill it all. And why not? Eustace deserved at least that much.

He sipped his coffee and listened patiently, frowning or nodding occasionally. When I told Eustace how I'd lived in his barn for six weeks, his jaw dropped, and for the second time today, surprised him completely. But Ambrose had been right in thinking his father was going to give him no mercy over his theory that I was a drug addict.

"God, I'm sorry I let Mr. Detective overrule my better judgment, Andrew." Eustace was getting used to my new name and stumbled over it only a little. "I knew you better than he did, even if you played your cards pretty close to your vest. Should've just made him listen."

"Don't give Ambrose too much hell," I pleaded, half joking. "He didn't know any better, and he was just looking out for you."

By the time I described my departure from the farm, his cup was dry. At that point Eustace stirred, saying, "If the rest is going to take a while to tell, we can talk as we move along. There's something I want young Eric here...no, young Andrew...to see."

We all rose, and put on our jackets.

As we walked past the tractor shed, decided to tell Eustace something.

"You know I was born with the name Stefan," I started. "Well I went to the judge and had it changed, legally, to Andrew. I'm Andrew Eustace Stevenson."

Eustace turned to me, and narrowed his eyes. "You didn't really call yourself that, did you?"

I felt a pang of alarm. "I hope it's okay. You don't mind?"

"Oh, it doesn't bother me, young Andrew," the old man chuckled, "it's just that I never much liked the name myself. It was pretty old fashioned when I was a kid, and it hasn't exactly gone back into fashion." He sighed. "But I've gotten used to it," he grinned.

As we continued up the track toward the upper pasture, I gave Eustace the long version of my flight in August and my life in Blackburn. He kept his barn coat drawn around his frame, hands jammed in his pockets, battered John Deere hat pulled down on his head. It was still a bit chilly there, and the winter killed weeds swished along our boots as we walked.

Eustace gave me a pretty stern look when I told him about my near miss with hypothermia in the Stevenson barn just before Christmas. "Young Andrew, are you crazy? No, everything you've told me so far is just plain crazy, so why should you be any different? But the simple fact of the matter is, you could have been killed by the cold, boy. I've known it to happen. Back in January of '66, one of the Anderson boys fetched up dead of the cold walking back from East Akron after a basketball game. Could have been you."

I saw Zander shudder.

Eustace smiled though, when I told about getting caught by Monica trying to sneak into the barn a second time. "Got you that time, didn't she? Glad somebody did."

"Yeah, I got him," rejoined Zander, and we all laughed happily.

We finally arrived at the upper pasture. There, the flock was scattered about contentedly. A big pile of hay and feed lay in the new shelter - the one I'd helped build last summer. But a number of the animals were trying out the very first shoots of grass emerging in the field. And there was something else new up there.

Lambs. There must have been dozens of them, playing, jumping, running about like little children let loose from school. I took in the sound of the ewes and their lambs calling one another, just checking in, from moment to moment. It was kind of magical. Evidence that the goodness in the world could renew itself and multiply, maybe. Even Zander seemed touched by the sight of it.

"It's lambing season," Eustace said conversationally. "Best time of the year, if you ask me."

We gazed at the scene in silence for a while. I'd enjoyed a lot of peaceful silences like that last summer.

He went on, gazing out over the early spring meadow, speaking to the both of us - or to the world in general, maybe. "I may have lived almost all my life on this farm, but I've seen a lot, anyways." He paused a moment. "Come tupping time in the fall, some rams will take off after other rams, try to tupp them, too. Happens in nature sometimes." He looked over at Zander and me, our hands still joined. "You two look happy together. Naturally happy, if you ask me. I really hope things work out for you. But if you should have that wedding? Well, that's something I'd like to see."

I hope he gets that chance.

Eustace changed the subject. "Young Alexander, get a good look at your boy's handiwork," he said, pointing. Zander, startled at the use of his name this way, followed where Eustace's finger directed. He wasn't pointing at the shelter, which surprised me. Instead, he indicated the fence line to our right.

Zander looked puzzled.

"Your boy pretty much fixed that fence line from scratch one day last summer," Eustace went on. "That's when I knew he was something out of the ordinary. Other hands I've hired would've taken their time and dragged the job out," Eustace reflected amiably. "Not young Andrew here. He just about wore his partner out and got it done in one afternoon."

I flushed at the praise but couldn't let Eustace get away painting the picture with a lot more color than he needed to. "Oh, come on, Eustace, all I did was fix a fence. It wasn't rocket science, and I just did what you told me to do."

The old man smiled. "Yup. And you worked so hard that Ambrose couldn't stand to be shown up by a sixteen year old kid so thin, the evening breeze would blow him into the next county. He was about fit to be tied trying to keep up with you and Toby."

Now it was my turn to smile at that thought.

"He did all that?" Zander asked. I had the feeling I'd hear about this later.

"Well, just that day. Later on, our Andrew put that shelter up over there," Eustace gestured with his head.

Zander's eyes widened. "You built that?"

I snorted. "I followed directions really well. And Eustace had all the know-how, especially with the support posts and such. He worked the Allis more than I did."

Eustace gave a shrug. "Well, I figure we'd better start on back to the house. Ambrose and your folks will be getting here soon, and there's supper to make."

Supper? I hadn't realized we'd be at the farm for supper. Eustace whistled for the dogs - I'd actually kind of missed them, but there they were, black and white streaks, racing around, rounding up their flock and bringing them to the gate. The dogs certainly had more work to do now than in the summer; several of the more adventurous lambs had to be convinced to stay with the flock over and over again.

As we slowly followed the flock on the way back down, I began pointing out places on the farm to Zander. Places like the spot where I'd broken the hay rake, or the vegetable garden I weeded, or the pond - where I'd really like to go swimming with Zander someday.

Back in the kitchen, Eustace put us to work, thawing and browning ground meat, pulling some of last year's vegetables out of the freezer, peeling and boiling potatoes, and so on. We were going to make a shepherd's pie for supper, something new to me. But it sure smelled good in the making.

In fact, we were still busy getting ready when the door burst open, with Ambrose leading Garrett and Monica inside. They carried a couple of grocery bags, so they must have stopped somewhere along the way back from the airport.

"God, Dad, something smells good," Ambrose cried out.

"You can thank young Andrew and Alexander for that," Eustace said with some satisfaction. He turned to Monica and Garrett and held out both hands, grasping one of theirs. "And you must be the home folks."

"I'm Garrett Stevenson, and this is my wife, Monica. I see you met our son, Zander. Andy's kind of adopting us," Garrett laughed.

"That's what I heard. Well, I hope you don't mind my getting reacquainted with young Andrew today. Looks like you're going to have two fine sons soon."

All this was going to get embarrassing if we didn't get supper on the table. Fine boy, my ass. Didn't Eustace actually listen to anything I told him?

Supper was really good, and the six of us made a full meal of what we made. Ambrose and Monica and Garrett bought some salad makings on their grocery stop, along with what seemed like a home baked pie. Don't know where they stopped for that.

Anyway, Ambrose and Monica and Garrett seemed to have really hit it off over the course of the afternoon. At least, they talked animatedly and told dozens of stories over supper. Lots of them about Zander, which made him get red in the face once or twice. I tried not to laugh. Not too much.

When supper was finished, Eustace and Ambrose insisted on doing the cleanup. I used this as a chance to excuse myself and Zander to walk down to the barn for a few minutes.

We walked across the lane, our coat collars turned up against the evening chill. I eased open the big door a little, and we slipped into the darkness. The familiar scents of hay and sheep and well used equipment had me remembering the long, hot July I'd spent here.

"Is this where you lived?" I heard Zander whisper in the darkness.

"In this barn, but not right here," I told him. I groped for the light switch on the wall off to my right. I found it, and the space was suddenly illuminated in a dim yellow light. "Up there," I pointed toward the loft.

Zander's eyes followed my gesture, then looked at me. "Up there. Sure."

"There's a ladder. Not hard to get up there."

Zander spotted it and walked over toward the ladder. One look in my direction, and then he was on his way up. I had to follow. I found him standing, looking at the remaining wall of bales still unused since I had stacked them there last summer.

"This is where you slept?" he asked.

"Kind of. I made a kind of hay bale fort over there," I pointed to my left where a deep pile of loose hay was all that remained of my room. "It was more private that way."

I walked over to the spot. "It was just about here."

Zander made his way over to stand beside me in the hay. "Right here. Yeah."

And then he kissed me, quickly. Zander had a grin on his face, and I wondered what was up when he tackled me down into the hay. I had no time to wonder what was happening before he lay on top of me and kissed me again, this time longer and with more intention. I didn't mind the hay gently prickling my neck. I remembered the sensation from the summer, and it was even better with Zander.

"Wanna have a roll in the hay? I've wanted to do that ever since you told me about this place," he asked, grinning down at me.

For an answer, I kissed him back, pulling him to me. His tongue and mine probed each other's; arms tightly wound around one another. I rolled Zander over to pin him under me as we made out. I felt his hands in my hair, playing with it as we kissed.

"This is good. This is very good," he murmured when I tried to kiss down his jaw to his throat.

But there were too many clothes - coats, shirts, pants, shoes socks - all that stuff. I wanted to feel him, his skin next to mine, his heart beating under my fingers.

I sat up and unzipped his jacket, and ran my hands over the shirt that covered his chest. Now it was my turn to grin. I unzipped my own coat, and felt him reach up to caress me. I got impatient, and slid my hands around Zander again; I just had to kiss some more.

But that gave Zander the opportunity to roll us over again. Now it was Zander rising, and using his free hand to unbutton my shirt. He didn't finish, he pushed it open and grazed his fingertips across my exposed nipple. My back arched in pleasure, and I bet the sheep in the lower level heard my groan. Then Zander was kissing down my throat and down to my chest. He hummed, and I think he enjoyed what he was doing. I know I did.

His fingers started completing the job on my shirt buttons they had started, and I felt them ghost over my belly button.

I was about to sit up and shed both my layers when I heard the barn door creak open. "Boys?" Monica's voice penetrated the barn.

"Up here, Mom," Zander called out. "Andy was just showing me where he slept last summer.”

"Something special about a hay pile?" I heard her ask drily.

Zander stood, showing himself. I hastily tried to button up as quietly as I could.

"It was cool. Andy made himself his own hay bale hotel up here," Zander tried to turn on the enthusiasm.

"Well, we have a long drive home, and it's time for us to hit the road," she said as I stood up next to Zander. "Oh, and boys," she added, looking at my innocent face, "you probably want to get the hay out your hair before coming down."

The ride home was quiet, once I helped Garrett navigate onto the road to New Salem. Within seconds of getting on the interstate, Zander and I were curled up together, snoozing.

We barely registered the parking of the car in the driveway where the surprises of the day had begun. We tumbled out of the vehicle sleepily.

"You two get to bed. You actually have school tomorrow," said Garrett, yawning.

Zander and I got ready for bed quietly and pretty swiftly, all things considered. After washing up together, I pulled Zander back to our room with a sleepy grin. To our bed.

Of course, now I’m too wired after everything that happened today to actually go to sleep. Unlike Zander, who hit the pillow and was out even as I kissed him. He's beautiful when he sleeps. But I couldn't get my mind to rest. After tossing and turning and letting my brain spin uselessly for a while, I got up to write.

I can’t believe what a day it has been. I have relatives. A clear future, maybe. A family that wants me. And a wonderful, loving – and hot - boy who wants to marry me. I still can’t see that far ahead, but maybe I’m going to be able to learn to plan more than a few days or weeks forward in my life. That would be good.

For now, I think Zander and I are going to have trouble with the “nothing else” promise we made. If we're going to get married, maybe we really should wait. Maybe I should head down to the other room tonight. Yeah, right.

I wish to thank Craftingmom for her generous and unfailing editing. I am most grateful.

Please leave a review. Your reflections and responses of whatever nature are much appreciated.

Copyright © 2016 Parker Owens; 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



On 02/20/2016 12:27 AM, Mikiesboy said:

Thank you. That's just what I wanted.

tim

I'm so glad it worked for you. This and chapter 58 clearly go together, but were too long for one installment, I think. Andy must be a writer - he can't sleep unless he gets everything out in the journal first! Thanks for your reaction.

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On 02/20/2016 12:31 AM, flamingo136 said:

PPP

Perfect, Parker,Perfect..........:)Mike

Your comment put a smile on my face. Thank you! Hope you continue to enjoy the remainder of Andy's journal.

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All my way home I was looking forward to another chapter which would make me feel good for myself and happy for Andy, Eustace, Zander and... so thank you for this one.
And in a way it was also good to see Zander admiring what Andy accomplished during the weeks before he came to Blackburn. Somehow Eustace seemed more alive in this chapter, more of a character, now that we can see him without Andy's constant fear and worries, I like his humour especially, that he can laugh at himself, his reaction to Andy's middle-name is priceless.
Zander so insecure - that was a bit of a surprise, too. There were glimpses of it before, but never so blatant, after all, we know that his fears are perfectly groundless...
I wonder what the next week will bring...
... so thank you, Parker, for this one.

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This is the second review I had to write for the chapter ...grrr! The first got lost in cyberspace somewhere ...grrrrrrr!

 

OK let's see if I can remember my perfect wording. ;)

 

It was nice Zander could witness Andy's work from last summer and hear the praise from Eustace.

 

There seems to be a slow rearrangement going on between the boys. I don't want to call it a power shift because power isn't what's going on here. Maybe vulnerability shift is more accurate. And I'm not even sure Zander is becoming more vulnerable. Maybe he was always so, but compared to the earlier Andy seemed to be more confident. As Andy has grown, in so many ways, this subtle shift is emerging. Incredibly well done Parker ...truly!

 

Thank you for sharing Andy's journal!

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On 02/20/2016 01:10 AM, mayday said:

All my way home I was looking forward to another chapter which would make me feel good for myself and happy for Andy, Eustace, Zander and... so thank you for this one.

And in a way it was also good to see Zander admiring what Andy accomplished during the weeks before he came to Blackburn. Somehow Eustace seemed more alive in this chapter, more of a character, now that we can see him without Andy's constant fear and worries, I like his humour especially, that he can laugh at himself, his reaction to Andy's middle-name is priceless.

Zander so insecure - that was a bit of a surprise, too. There were glimpses of it before, but never so blatant, after all, we know that his fears are perfectly groundless...

I wonder what the next week will bring...

... so thank you, Parker, for this one.

It was good to write a chapter in which Andy and Eustace could ignore the barriers that existed between them during the summer. Andy's anxiety was always a lens that colored their relationship back then. Zander's vulnerability may have been unexpected, but it was good for the boys to talk it out. Thank you for your very kind remarks. Hope you like the remaining chapters in Andy's journal.

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On 02/20/2016 01:18 AM, skinnydragon said:

This is the second review I had to write for the chapter ...grrr! The first got lost in cyberspace somewhere ...grrrrrrr!

 

OK let's see if I can remember my perfect wording. ;)

 

It was nice Zander could witness Andy's work from last summer and hear the praise from Eustace.

 

There seems to be a slow rearrangement going on between the boys. I don't want to call it a power shift because power isn't what's going on here. Maybe vulnerability shift is more accurate. And I'm not even sure Zander is becoming more vulnerable. Maybe he was always so, but compared to the earlier Andy seemed to be more confident. As Andy has grown, in so many ways, this subtle shift is emerging. Incredibly well done Parker ...truly!

 

Thank you for sharing Andy's journal!

You have my sympathies on the lost first draft. That has happened to me a number of times. I am very gratified you picked up on the evolving shift in the boys' relationship. Now Andy is seeing Zander can be as vulnerable as himself; that the Olympian Zander can hurt, too. This is healthy for them both, I think. Thank you for your very kind words (you can insert a blush here). Hope the remaining chapters of the journal make you smile...

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Parker, what I really like that you've done here is addressed issues that have bugged me since they happened. I know real life isn't always neatly tied up and things often remain unresolved, but I'm the type not to let things go all the time and if I think something is wrong I tell people. I was really glad that Andy talked to Eustace again and set the record straight about what was going on back then. I always felt like Eustace should have known better than to think Andy was a drug addict, so I was glad that was acknowledged.

 

You have an amazing attention to the details of your story and don't just leave things hanging constantly. You provide satisfying resolution to plot points. I love that cause there's so many times when I wonder why an author included some detail that never goes anywhere.

 

Not much else to say on the chapter. It was great seeing two parts of his life meet, and I hope he continues to have contact with the Whitleys in the future. Zander continues to reveal his insecurity, hopefully once the boys finally get married he'll realize Andy wants to stick around.

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The second best thing is that you said 'remaining chapters' several times on this page!

 

Obviously, the best thing was getting to see Zander and Eustace interacting. Two of the important people in Andy's life. Getting to revisit the farm with Andy seeing it and Eustace in a new light.

 

I was just thinking that the only other time I remember seeing the name 'Eustace' in a story was in the Chronicles of Narnia. (That one had a closet in it too.) Thankfully you are not a religious fanatic like CS Lewis!

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On 02/20/2016 02:33 AM, spikey582 said:

Parker, what I really like that you've done here is addressed issues that have bugged me since they happened. I know real life isn't always neatly tied up and things often remain unresolved, but I'm the type not to let things go all the time and if I think something is wrong I tell people. I was really glad that Andy talked to Eustace again and set the record straight about what was going on back then. I always felt like Eustace should have known better than to think Andy was a drug addict, so I was glad that was acknowledged.

 

You have an amazing attention to the details of your story and don't just leave things hanging constantly. You provide satisfying resolution to plot points. I love that cause there's so many times when I wonder why an author included some detail that never goes anywhere.

 

Not much else to say on the chapter. It was great seeing two parts of his life meet, and I hope he continues to have contact with the Whitleys in the future. Zander continues to reveal his insecurity, hopefully once the boys finally get married he'll realize Andy wants to stick around.

This was a chapter that felt good to write. The barriers between Andy and Eustace could be dropped. It's plain that the two still feel a deep affinity for one another. Eustace seems to be a fellow who can admit his mistakes, and he did so admirably, this time. That Zander should feel insecure and vulnerable is understandable - events have been rapid and unsettling - and now Andy gets to see Zander in a new light, and he seems to love him all the more for it. Glad you feel some issues that bothered you have been resolved. I know it took a long time to do so; sorry about that. I am grateful for your kind words and your insights into the story. Hope you like what's left of Andy's journal.

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On 02/20/2016 03:01 AM, droughtquake said:

The second best thing is that you said 'remaining chapters' several times on this page!

 

Obviously, the best thing was getting to see Zander and Eustace interacting. Two of the important people in Andy's life. Getting to revisit the farm with Andy seeing it and Eustace in a new light.

 

I was just thinking that the only other time I remember seeing the name 'Eustace' in a story was in the Chronicles of Narnia. (That one had a closet in it too.) Thankfully you are not a religious fanatic like CS Lewis!

I remember the Narnia books from when I was a kid, and I vividly recall the line "His name was Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." Perfect. I wanted an old fashioned name for the farmer Eric would encounter, and I thought of that one. I have never known a real-live Eustace, myself. I am glad you enjoyed seeing Zander meet Eustace. Andy enjoyed himself, and must be very relieved that Eustace seems to like Zander, too. How very kind you have been in your remarks; I am very happy. There will be more to Andy's journal - I just hope you enjoy it.

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This chapter was as good as all the others. The visit with Eustace was something both needed. I think the two boys will be spending more time with Eustace as their lives continue.
I am so glad there is going to be more as there are more things that need clearing up. I would like to see this new Andy go back to Carlsberg and face down the people that harassed him. He is no longer that reclusive abused boy.

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Zander's fears we're very understandable, and Andy's reassurances were perfect.
I'm glad that Eustace got to put his worry and fear to bed, and to see for himself that Andy was doing better than ok. I don't doubt that there will be plenty more visits..

 

This chapter was everything I could have hoped for. It hit all the right notes.. Thank you Parker..

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On 02/20/2016 04:34 AM, avidreadr said:

This chapter was as good as all the others. The visit with Eustace was something both needed. I think the two boys will be spending more time with Eustace as their lives continue.

I am so glad there is going to be more as there are more things that need clearing up. I would like to see this new Andy go back to Carlsberg and face down the people that harassed him. He is no longer that reclusive abused boy.

Andy's life is far different to Stefan's. How good it is to see how far he has come. I am glad you liked the reunion with Eustace. It was both exciting and tense for Andy to see Eustace and Zander together. This was a fun chapter to write. Thanks for your comments, and as always, thank you for reading Andy's journal.

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On 02/20/2016 04:48 AM, Defiance19 said:

Zander's fears we're very understandable, and Andy's reassurances were perfect.

I'm glad that Eustace got to put his worry and fear to bed, and to see for himself that Andy was doing better than ok. I don't doubt that there will be plenty more visits..

 

This chapter was everything I could have hoped for. It hit all the right notes.. Thank you Parker..

I'm very happy that you enjoyed this chapter, and that you thought it struck the right chords. It was a fun chapter to write, as it felt good to put these characters who love Andy so much all together. And yes, the old man got to see that he boy he'd become attached to was safe, sound and thriving. Thanks for your thoughts, and I hope you like the parts of Andy's journal that remain.

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Really enjoyed this chapter--great that Eustace admitted how much he'd missed Andy, and how quickly he accepted their relationship. Despite the fact it wasn't clearly spelled it, I believe that was an important thing for Andy. And the entire "tell my story, no holds barred" approach he's used is an obvious sign of his maturity. He'd even handled Zander's fears appropriately.
Deliciously satisfying! Can't wait to see what happens next!

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OMG!!! This story has had in me in my feelings from chapter 1. I literally have cried ready not each chapter. Incredible work.

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On 02/20/2016 08:02 AM, Robert Rex said:

Really enjoyed this chapter--great that Eustace admitted how much he'd missed Andy, and how quickly he accepted their relationship. Despite the fact it wasn't clearly spelled it, I believe that was an important thing for Andy. And the entire "tell my story, no holds barred" approach he's used is an obvious sign of his maturity. He'd even handled Zander's fears appropriately.

Deliciously satisfying! Can't wait to see what happens next!

I am so very glad you liked this chapter. Eustace was clearly glad to see Andy again, and Andy must have been pretty anxious to watch Eustace meet Zander. That Zander should be anxious and vulnerable himself is understandable. Eustace is pretty much a live and let live kind of fellow, and it showed perfectly here. Thanks for your comments, and I hope you like what remains of Andy's journal.

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On 02/20/2016 08:14 AM, Jade1988 said:

OMG!!! This story has had in me in my feelings from chapter 1. I literally have cried ready not each chapter. Incredible work.

I your are not turned away by the emotions you feel. I am glad you have been reading and enjoying Andy's journal. Hope you will continue to read what remains. Thank you so much for you kind words.

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I am happy that Andy visited Eustace at last. It was something that I saw as
unfinished business since he left the farm, and it bothered me, since his meeting
Eustace became what I view as the beginning of Andy's recovery from his tortured
past. This was a fabulous chapter.

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Thank you Parker. Beautifully written ...

 

This is such the "feel good" chapter, words I could not have imagined using in a review of "A to Z" way back when, say around chapter 8.

 

I second SkinnyD's observation about the shifting dynamics between Andy and Zander. Andy has certainly blossomed brilliantly over the past several chapters. Zander's insecurities are not totally new to us, we have seen glipses now and again, begining in the summer. I was surprised to see that the weeks events had taken such a toll on Zander's psyche, but I should not have been surprised. Andy is accustomed to a high stres precarious existence; Zander is not.

 

The meeting with Eustace certainly had me smiling. Numerous phrases from Eustace had me laughing. My favorite:


Young Andrew, are you crazy? No, everything you've told me so far is just plain crazy, so why should you be any different?

I can't say it any better ... :)
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I can understand Zander's insecurities and his fear of losing Andy, at least not living together anymore. It wouldn't be all too improbable if Andy's family had wanted him to live with them. Luckily, that doesn't seem to happen.
Eustace is such a nice guy. I hope they can stay in touch. Like a stand in grandpa.
I'm glad Andy is reconsidering the hasty marriage. Not that they don't love each other, but a marriage is so much more than love and not really for kids. They can have a strong relationship without going that far.

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Thank you so much for bringing Andy back to Eustace's farm. The evolving dynamics between Andy and "Z" are beautiful to see as well. Having Zander see, not only the work that Andy did on the farm, but also the obviously high regard which Eustace has for him will help Zander "place" Andy in the world, not just in their lives together.
I was fascinated to learn that Eustace wasn't all that enamoured with his own name and still saddled Ambrose with one almost as antique. :P
I really enjoyed this chapter.

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What a beautiful, feel-good chapter, Parker! :)

 

I really like Eustace, so I'm thrilled Andy got to see him again and introduce him to Zander and his folks. I'm glad Andy came clean to Eustace about everything; Eustace deserved to know.

 

I also agree with Skinny about the ever-maturing Andy and how he can be the one to assuage Z's (love that!) fears now, instead of the other way around. Andy is becoming more confident in himself and that confidence shows when he talks to Z.

 

I couldn't believe A&Z were getting busy in the barn! OMG! lol I was just waiting for someone to walk in! :P

 

I hope Andy keeps the lines of communication open with Eustace. It was so obvious that Eustace thinks the world of Andy. :)

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