Dances, Birthdays and Engagements, Oh My!
Everyone enjoyed Brian’s grilling for dinner. Vast amounts of food disappeared with great rapidity. The older occupants of the conjoined cottages watched in amazement as salad, hamburgers, steaks and grilled vegetables kept vanishing.
“Do they ever get full?” Brian whispered to Justin. He shook his head in amazement. “I thought I had made plenty, but it looks like we may run out.”
“You did just fine,” Justin assured him. “We have cake and ice cream for dessert. That should keep them happy.”
“I fucking hope so,” Brian mumbled.
“Dada,” Bree said as she had watched the hushed exchange between her fathers. She found it unusual that they didn’t just speak up like they normally would. She wondered if it was because they had company, outsiders, who didn’t really belong on the lane.
“Yes, Squirt,” Brian replied.
“That was a great meal,” Bree stated batting her violet eyes at her older father.
“Well thank you, milady,” Brian said with a tip of his head.
“Yeah, really good,” Ryan agreed trying not to belch. He was stuffed.
“Thanks Mr. Kinney,” Joe added.
“You’re both very welcome,” Brian said. “Do you have room for dessert?”
“Um, sure,” Ryan agreed.
“I sure do,” Patrick chimed in. “Let’s get the table cleared and ready for that cake I saw in the kitchen.”
Bree and Patrick started gathering up anything that needed to be carried to the kitchen. Ryan and Joe took their time, but eventually got up to lend a hand. The older people at the table watched the activity.
“Somebody needs to train those Cabot boys to fend for themselves,” John observed when all the kids were in the kitchen.
“They seem willing to help,” Justin said in their defence.
“But if they didn’t have Bree and Patrick showing them what to do, they would still be sitting here at the table with us,” Bobby threw in.
“Probably never washed a dish or swept a floor in their whole lives,” Brian snarked.
“Gentlemen,” Justin stated, “I don’t think we should be criticizing our guests.”
“Justin’s right,” John agreed. “We could be more charitable.”
“If you say so, big bro’,” Brian grudgingly said.
“I think you’ll be much happier when we have the lane back to just its usual occupants,” John said knowingly.
“Some of us don’t handle change all that well,” Bobby threw in.
“Speak for yourself,” Brian snarked. He was sure Bobby was referring to him.
“I was,” Bobby said staring at Brian to remind him of their previous conversation. “Our kids are growing up.”
“And we can’t stop that from happening no matter how much we might want to,” John mused.
“It would be nice if we could just freeze them in time,” Justin said nostalgically. “Remember when Bree was two and we had that trail of mud and water that she made to help the plants grow in the sun porch.”
They all chuckled.
“Now grow, you fuckers!” Brian said trying to keep a straight face.
“Dada, language,” Bree warned him as she and the other kids came back into the sun porch carrying plates of cake and ice cream.
The kids handed out the dishes until everyone had one except Brian.
Joe looked around to be sure that there wasn’t another plate of cake that someone was holding. “You don’t seem to have any dessert,” Joe said to Brian. “Would you like mine?”
“No thank you, Joe. It’s nice of you to offer. But I’m fine.”
“He’ll just steal a bite of mine,” Justin said with a grin.
“I’m sure there’s more cake in the kitchen,” Joe offered. “I could get you some.”
“Dada hardly ever eats dessert,” Bree informed them. “He has to watch his figure,” she added with a giggle.
Brian gave her a glare and an arched brow.
“I’m going to gain ten pounds while I’m here,” Ryan said as he kept shovelling in his own dessert.
“I thought you were stuffed,” Joe reminded him.
“Never too stuffed for cake and ice cream.”
Brian shook his head once more.
Bree lay on her bed. Usually she fell asleep really quickly, but tonight was different. Maybe it was having strangers staying across the hall from her. Maybe it was the upcoming dance. She wasn’t sure why she couldn’t sleep, but it didn’t seem like that was going to happen anytime soon.
She glanced at the clock. It was just after 11 pm. She wondered if it was too late, but she thought maybe she would risk it.
Bree picked up her phone and hit the familiar number.
“Hello,” the voice said.
“JR, are you in bed? Is it too late for me to be calling? I’m sorry if I’m disturbing you. I can hang up if you want me too.” Bree blurted all this out before JR could get a word in edgewise.
“Bree! Bree! Stop talking and listen,” JR commanded.
“I’m still up and you’re not interrupting anything. What’s going on?”
“Um … I couldn’t sleep and I thought if I could talk to you, I might be able to sleep afterwards,” Bree explained.
“Okay, so what do you want to talk about?”
“Ryan, the dance, life…”
“So, nothing much.”
That elicited a giggle from Bree.
“I like that sound better than your voice full of worry. What’s got you so upset?”
“I guess I’m wondering if I made a big mistake inviting Ryan to the dance,” Bree whispered, finally saying out loud what had been running through her mind.
“Why a mistake? I thought you liked Ryan.”
“I thought I did too, and I wanted to make Patrick jealous.”
“Did that work?”
“Not sure, but Patrick does give Ryan some interesting looks,” Bree said.
“Sounds like he’s got some jealous feelings.”
“You think so?”
“I do. Are you having second thoughts about Ryan?”
“Kind of,” Bree admitted.
“He doesn’t really want to help around the house or the lane. Grandma Debbie asked us kids to help her clean the B&B. Ryan did help, but you could tell he didn’t really want to do it.”
“Maybe he’s never had to do that kind of thing at home,” JR suggested.
“Yeah, that’s probably it, but …um….I guess he’s just not who I thought he was.”
“Maybe you should give him more of a chance. You have the dance coming up and you might enjoy it with him if you let yourself.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. Thanks for listening to me.”
“Happy to…anytime,” JR assured her sister. “Do you feel a little better?”
“Yeah, thanks for talking to me.”
“Call anytime you need me,” JR stated.
When she finished the call, Bree lay on her bed for a long time before sleep would come.
Friday morning and all was quiet in the conjoined cottage; too quiet for a home that was temporarily housing four teenagers. Brian was amused and suspicious at the same time. Whether the subdued atmosphere was due to the upcoming dance, Brian had no idea; however, appetites were not affected. This was evidenced by the shoveling of breakfasts into young mouths and the request for seconds and thirds.
“Anyone have plans for today?” Brian queried the group.
“Can we gar-gar?” Bree asked, speaking up first.
“Excellent suggestion!” Brian stated with a bright smile. Under normal circumstances, he and Bree would have been outside attacking each garden on the lane one by one. This week was certainly not the norm.
“Patrick,” Brian asked.
“I was thinking of batting practice. Maybe Ryan and Joe would like to join me,” Patrick said around a slice of toast. Bree gave him the “boys are disgusting” look.
“I love baseball!” Ryan quickly stated. At least baseball didn’t involve a mop or a broom.
All eyes shifted to Joe.
“Uh, if it’s okay with you, Mr. Kinney, I’d like to spend some time in your greenhouse. I like drawing,” Joe stammered out.
“That’s perfectly fine with me. The greenhouse has tempted many an artist over the years. Just don’t be startled if Bree or I come in and out. Most of our gardening tools and supplies are stored in there,” Brian told him.
“And you, Sunshine?” Brian asked with an arch of his brow. He could tell something was up with his Sunshine.
“Since we have a very busy day tomorrow, I thought I’d go into the gallery this morning. Hunter’s bringing his kids,” Justin said with a coy smile and a slow bat of his eyes.
“Uh huh,” Brian snorted. The Taylor “look” was hard at work this morning. “I’m on to you,” Brian stated. Before Justin could look downhearted, Brian added, “Go, be free with the artistic hooligans. Just be back by dinnertime and unscathed,” Brian stated, making shooing motions with his hands.
With the day’s activities all planned out and breakfast finally coming to an end, all parties headed toward their various activities.
As Brian washed up the last of the breakfast dishes and utensils, he felt a set of tense arms twining around his waist then a kiss to his back.
“It’s all right, Sunshine. Yes, little Ian gets on my nerves and I’ve spoken to Hunter about it, but if you are finding a way to get through to him via art then who am I to interfere.” Brian felt Justin take a deep cleansing breath and relax.
“Just be careful, Justin, I want you around for a very long time,” Brian softly said.
“I’ll be careful, I promise,” Justin vowed as Brian turned within Justin’s arms. They kissed and hugged tightly reaffirming their devotion. “Go before something comes up,” Brian said with a smirk. Justin let him go.
“You're always up,” he teased. Brian pecked at Justin’s nose making him giggle. Then Justin was off.
While Brian and Bree were out in their garden assessing what needed urgent attention and what could wait for another day, John made an appearance.
“I thought you left already,” Brian said with concern.
“I was approaching the gate when I got a call. I was going to ignore but…”
“Your ESP kicked in,” Brian supplied.
“Something like that. I had to come back to print something out. Take a look at this,” John said as he handed Brian several papers.
“What am I looking at?” Brian asked. John pointed to a specific sentence on the paper. “Holy fuck all!”
“That’s what I said.”
“Is this legit?” Brian asked.
“It comes straight from city hall. You own the property, right?”
“Yes, I do but not the surrounding buildings.”
“What if Kinney Bros. Inc. put in a bid,” John stated.
“That’s a lot of money. What would we do with it? You can’t put housing next to a club. No one in their right mind would rent,” said Brian.
“You’re right but think about it. If we own the whole block we can carefully plan out what can go where. Look, here’s Babylon,” John said as he took back the papers and dug a drafting pencil out of his pocket.
“Babylon is here. What’s here?” John asked pointing to the building across the alley.
“Not sure, looks like an old factory. I never really paid too much attention. It’s kind of creepy at night.”
“Point taken, we can tear it down and…”
“Put up a parking lot?” Brian said with a grin, quoting the words from the old Joni Mitchell song.
“Exactly. On the other side, we can make it into a modern office building.”
“With most businesses active during the day, the noise from the club at night won’t affect anything.”
“Correct. We can add noise baffling insulation on the exterior walls of each building; that will help,” John added. “As for housing, we can build small apartment buildings on each end of the street and maybe have room for a small twenty-four hour market.”
“Thought about this much?” Brian asked with a smirk.
“Dada, we have work to do,” Bree interjected with a stern expression. The Kinney brothers were duly chastised.
“Message received loud and clear, young lady,” John stated. Bree was on the receiving end to two arched eyebrows. She donned her gardening gloves then picked up a rake.
“Forward me the email, I’ll look at it later and talk to Ted,” Brian said as he put on his own gardening gloves. “Better yet, cc Schmidt, and add your take on this. Who knows, he may be already aware of this,” Brian said.
“He does have a way of finding out things,” John added as he played with his phone for a bit then headed back out of the garden.
“Dada, is Babylon in trouble?”
“I don’t think so. Don’t you worry about it; John and I will work it out,” Brian assured his daughter.
“Okay, Dada,” Bree said as she got back to the job at hand.
Hours later, Bree and Brian had several bags of debris ready to add to the composting bin and it was time for lunch. This time, Rachel had volunteered her services to the lunch brigade.
All of the current residents of the lane marched themselves up to the great house at the top of the lane.
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