Dances, Birthdays and Engagements, Oh My!
As everyone finished up their lunch at Rachel’s, plans for the afternoon were the topic of conversation. Patrick and Ryan had returned from batting practice. Joe had spent the morning in the greenhouse. Peter had not indicated what he had been doing all morning. He still tended to keep things to himself.
“We could go for a walk,” Bree suggested to Ryan. “Maybe down by the stream.”
“Um… sure,” Ryan agreed.
“Or you could toss a ball around with me,” Patrick threw in.
“Could I do both?” Ryan asked hopefully.
“Sure,” Patrick said.
“Sure,” Bree agreed with a frown.
Everyone helped Rachel clear the table and clean up after lunch.
Bree watched Ryan. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to say to him when they went on their walk. Maybe it would all come to her at some point.
When they finally did take their walk down by the stream, Bree felt it was time to set things straight. “Ryan, I’m glad you and Joe could spend these days with us. I hope you’re having a good time.”
“It’s been …fine,” Ryan replied, although it was nothing like he had imagined it might be.
Bree frowned. “Are you ready for the dance tomorrow?”
“As ready as I can be.”
“Good, me too,” Bree added although she wasn’t at all sure that she was ready for the dance. “Are you a good dancer?”
“Oh! I guess I’m okay. I’ve only been to a couple of dances.”
“Did you dance with lots of girls?”
“You don’t have to dance every dance with me, you know,” Bree suggested.
“Oh, I wouldn’t mind doing that,” Ryan assured her.
“That’s nice of you to say, but you can dance with other girls if you want to. I wouldn’t mind.”
That had been easier than Bree had expected. She didn’t want to feel compelled to dance all afternoon with Ryan, and she thought he should have the same freedom. She wondered if Patrick might ask her to dance, at least once.
Joe sat in the greenhouse with his sketchbook on his lap. He looked at the beautiful flower he was sketching and added a few more strokes to his drawing. It was just about complete.
“Hey,” a voice said from somewhere off to the side.
Joe turned and looked at who had spoken. A smile broke out on his face. “Peter, I’m glad you found me.”
“Me too,” Peter said as he joined Joe on the bench. Peter looked at the sketch that Joe had been working on. “That looks great,” Peter complimented the young man.
“Thanks. Um …you wouldn’t happen to know what kind of flower that is, would you?” Joe asked.
“Not much of a flower guy,” Peter admitted. “But I really like your sketch of it.”
“I think it turned out really well too. I’ll have to remember to ask Mr. Kinney what it is.”
“Yeah,” Peter agreed wondering how to get into what he really wanted to say. “I…um…was wondering…” And then he chickened out.
“Wondering what?” Joe asked.
“Are you sure about this dance thing?”
“Dance thing? You mean me and you going together?”
“Yeah, you sure you want to?”
“I wouldn’t have asked you if I didn’t want to go with you,” Joe stated.
Peter smiled. “I’m glad you said that. I feel the same.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I…um…I keep a real low profile,” Peter admitted.
“You mean no one knows you’re gay?”
Joe chuckled. “I bet they know … or suspect.”
“Probably,” Peter agreed. “But they leave me alone most of the time.”
“And if we go to the dance together, they’ll know for sure.”
“Justin didn’t seem to think it would be a problem,” Joe said with a frown. “Do you think you’ll get picked on?”
“Maybe, but my school is pretty liberal.”
“Then why are you so hesitant?”
“It’s … complicated.”
“I’m finished sketching and I have lots of time, so tell me,” Joe said as he closed his sketchbook.
“Um … you know that Debbie and Carl aren’t my parents?”
Joe laughed. “No kidding! Grandparents, maybe?”
“Yeah, they are old, but they’ve been really wonderful.” Peter hesitated about what to say next.
“So they aren’t your grandparents,” Joe said trying to encourage Peter to talk.
“No, they’re not. Debbie started volunteering at my school in Bridgeton. She’s a pistol and we kind of hit it off.” Peter hesitated again. Joe waited hoping Peter would continue. “I was very withdrawn and angry. It took Debbie quite a while to even get a word out of me.”
“Why were you so angry?”
“You have a father?”
“Don’t we all!” Peter snarked.
“Yeah, but you’re not with him.” Joe stated the obvious.
“I was never good enough for him, not the son he wanted. He was only too happy to turn over custody to Debbie when she asked.”
Peter took a deep breath. “Anyway, my life has been a lot more calm and … useful, since I moved to the lane and started going to the high school out here.”
“I still don’t see what the problem is,” Joe said again.
“I don’t want to cause problems … for myself or for Debbie.”
“We won’t cause problems. We could maybe dance a little bit, and I promise not to kiss you in front of everybody,” Joe stated.
“Could you maybe kiss me now?” Peter asked, as he remembered the kiss they had shared so many months ago.
Joe was happy to oblige as they engaged in a long and lingering liplock.
The rest of the day went as planned. Justin was home early and as promised, unscathed. The teenagers spent the day quietly engaged in their own pursuits much to the adults’ delight.
The weather remained nice, so the lane families decided to have a pot luck barbecue with everyone contributing to the feast. The rest of the evening turned out to be quiet since Saturday was going to be very busy with precise timing a must to accommodate both events. Everyone turned in early.
Bree tossed and turned in her bed for a while. It was really too early for her to go to sleep, she knew the boys were all in Patrick’s room blowing up computer generated bad guys. Bree wasn’t interested so she got up, took out a book she had planned to read for a school project. She almost finished the book when she heard Ryan and Joe go into Gus’ old room. She figured they had enough of saving the world for the night.
Bree loudly sighed. Life was getting more complicated as she grew older. When she was little she could just go to Patrick’s room and he knew what to say or do to comfort her. Now, Bree wasn’t so sure if Patrick was still her Patrick.
“Maybe it’s time I find out,” Bree said out loud. Grey bunny, who had pride of place in the rocking chair in Bree’s room, and shared all of her secrets, approved. Bree donned her robe and her pink fuzzy slippers then left her room.
“Come in,” Patrick said when he heard the gentle knock on his door. When nothing happened, he knew who it was so he opened the door. “Do you want to come in?” Large violet blue eyes looked up at him. Patrick stepped back to allow Bree to enter.
She looked around with some confusion. Patrick scowled then shrugged his shoulders. “The Cabot hurricane struck my room,” he explained.
“Want help cleaning up?” Bree asked with a coy smile.
“Sure!” Patrick replied with a large grin. Within minutes the kids got Patrick’s room straightened out and the garbage stowed away. They decided it was too late to vacuum, so they’d leave that for the morning.
“Patrick, are you still my Patrick?” Bree asked as they stood in the middle of his room admiring their accomplishment.
“I’ll always be your Patrick,” he said with sincerity.
“Even when you go off to college?”
“Even then,” he assured her. He could see the relief in Bree’s eyes. And the yawn. Patrick smiled.
“You wanna sleep here tonight?” Bree nodded. “You know we’re getting too old to do that?” Bree looked down to study her slippers.
“But it’s okay for tonight,” said Patrick. Bree brightened with a smile.
“Come on, I’m tired,” Patrick declared as he turned off his overhead light then climbed into bed. He held the covers up so that Bree could climb in and make herself comfortable.
“No grey bunny?” Patrick asked.
“I left him on his chair. He was tired of giving me advice,” Bree quietly stated.
“Okay,” Patrick nonchalantly replied as he turned over. Even though grey bunny was only a stuffed toy, he was an important member of the family, especially to Bree. “Good night.”
The next morning, Justin came dashing out of his end of the cottage then practically skidded across the porch toward the Anderson-Morrison side. Fortunately, he was stopped by Bobby.
“Easy there, she’s here and with “her” Patrick,” Bobby informed Justin. “They’re getting too old for this,” Bobby stated with a frown.
“I agree but at least they’re talking again,” Justin added.
“Let’s hope that’s all they’re doing.”
“You don’t think…” Justin couldn't say it.
“No, they aren’t, of that I’m sure,” Bobby stated emphatically. “We’ve had very serious talks with him. He knows where the line is and knows not to cross it.”
“Brian believes the two of them will eventually…” Justin shrugged.
“Yeah, I know what he thinks and I’m not ready to go there just yet. What I am ready to do is to start breakfast; it’s the least we can do since you’re footing the bill at the restaurant tonight,” Bobby said. “So go wake up your side and I’ll start breakfast.”
“Okay,” Justin agreed with a smile as he turned to head back to his side of the cottage. “Breakfast soon,” Justin called out as he knocked on the boys’ bedroom door. He waited until he heard a sleepy response before going to his own room.
“Did you find her?” Brian asked as he emerged from the bathroom and began to get dressed.
“Yes, I did; you were right,” Justin conceded.
“I usually am,” Brian boasted. “Especially when it involves blond Taylors.” Justin snorted. “At least they’re talking again.”
“That’s what I said to Bobby. But what are we going to do if they want to do something else besides talking?”
“We deal with it if and when it happens. Right now we have to get through today which is enough to deal with,” Brian stated as he shooed Justin toward the shower.
By the time Justin emerged from the bathroom, Brian had laid out their entire wardrobe for the day.
“I know how to dress myself,” Justin grumbled as he began to put on the clothes Brian selected for the day.
“I know that, but it’s just faster this way. This thing is from twelve till four. And we don’t have to arrive on time or stay to the end. By the time we get home we’ll have about an hour or two to get ready for dinner and caravan into the Pitts. Have we found out if the Cabot boys are joining us for dinner?”
“Yes and no,” Justin replied. Brian arched a brow. “Yes, we know and no they aren’t. Stephanie has decided that we’ve highjacked their kids long enough. Plus, they felt this dinner is for family.”
“Do they know how large our family is?” Brian commented.
“Stephanie insists. And since Bree and Patrick are good again…” Justin left that up in the air.
“Yeah, yeah,” Brian said as he sat with a huff on the bed. “Shit, I thought the terrible twos were bad.”
“Teenagers,” Justin grumbled. “Come on, Bobby said they’re cooking breakfast.”
“Will wonders never cease,” Brian snarked as they left the sanctity of their room.
“Something smells good,” Justin said with a smile as he entered the Anderson-Morrison kitchen. The Cabot boys were already seated and slightly more than half awake. Patrick and Bree were in their robes at the table and smiling brightly.
“Morning, Baby Girl,” Justin said to Bree as he kissed her face then sat.
“Morning Daddy,” Bree said with a lovely smile.
“Hey Squirt, you sleep okay last night?” Brian asked as he helped himself to coffee and kept out of the way of the hungry hordes attacking Bobby’s excellent breakfast.
“That’s what I like to hear,” Brian quipped as he gave Patrick a wink and a ruffle to his hair.
“Well, kids, here’s the plan for the day. After breakfast we have time to relax before this shindig this afternoon. Cabot boys, please have your bags packed. We’ll leave around noon and head to the school. You kids will have plenty of time to bogey then it’s back here,” Brian said as he laid out the plans for the day.
“Your mom asked us to deliver you guys home before we go to dinner. I hope you’re not too disappointed,” Justin asked.
“She called us,” Joe said.
“You’ll be missed,” John said. “But I hope you and your family will join us some time during the summer for a barbeque.” The boys nodded then concentrated on eating.
Bree looked up to catch Brian’s eye. ‘Later,’ he mouthed. Bree nodded then concentrated on her own plate.
After their leisurely breakfast, the kids helped to clean up then they went to get ready for the day while the adults hung back.
“So what’s the real story?” John asked as he freshened everyone’s coffee.
“Not sure,” Justin informed him. “I spoke to Stephanie and she declined the dinner invitation,” Justin explained.
“Maybe one of the boys phoned home,” Bobby said with a shrug. The guys nodded.
“And maybe we scared the shit out of them,” Brian added. The guys nodded again.
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