It was sometime after dinner when the guys noticed the motion sensitive lights come on along the garden side of the cottage. Eight pairs of eyes with their corresponding bodies followed the lights to the sun porch door. The Cabots gingerly slid open the door to step inside.
“I think you’re nuts,” Sabastian grumbled as he rubbed his chilled hands together. “Who in their right mind camps out in a treehouse in the middle of December?”
“Stop exaggerating. It’s not December and we’re not camping out. Think of it as a rustic cabin without certain amenities,” Stephanie explained.
“I still think this is a ridiculous idea,” Cabot mumbled.
“Where’s your sense of adventure?” implored his wife.
“Back in a large warm cottage, next to a roaring fire,” Cabot snarked.
Before the Cabots’ disagreement threatened an otherwise nice holiday weekday, the boys decided to use their considerable wisdom and charms to get the Cabots up into the tree.
“Good evening all,” Brian drawled as he led in the troops.
“See that, we’ve disturbed the entire family!” Sabastian said as the boys and the kids entered the porch. “And that’s another thing. Are we going to leave the boys alone in the big cottage for the whole night? What if something happens? What if they need us?”
Stephanie shook her head as she rolled her eyes. Brian could sense the telltale signs of an impending blowup.
“Time out! You are very welcome to spend the night in the tree house. It has been thoroughly scrubbed from stem to stern; the fireplace has been lit so it’s nice and warm,” Brian explained.
“I’ve left extra cans for the fire, if you do stay the whole night,” John continued. “We’ve also installed an air mattress…”
“With clean sheets!” Brian added with a smirk. John gazed upwards for guidance then glared at his precocious brother.
“I see where your kids get their sense of humor,” Stephanie mumbled.
“Thank you.” Brian took her words as a compliment.
“As for your boys, they can come here for the night or our kids can spend the night there,” John suggested. “Either way, your boys will be perfectly safe. Beau and his pack are always on patrol and will know to protect the B&B,” John assured them.
Stephanie was all for it and was all smiles. Sabastian was still having second thoughts.
“Dr. Cabot, my daddies and uncles made you and Mrs. Cabot a pretty picnic basket,” Bree said, looking up at Sabastian with very large soulful violet eyes. She went over to take Sabastian’s hand to lead him to the basket laden with goodies and a couple bottles of Brian’s best wine.
“He’s going to cave,” Brian leaned over to whisper into Justin’s ear.
“Shhh,” Justin admonished then gave Brian a little pinch.
Stephanie joined her husband at the table. “Oh my!” she exclaimed. “This is beautiful. You did this for us?” Stephanie turned and asked. The boys just smiled.
“Whether you use this up in the tree or at the B&B, we wanted you to know, I wanted you to know how very grateful we all are that you brought Justin back to us. Back to me,” Brian said with all joking aside. Stephanie saw the depth of emotion in Brian’s expressive eyes and she understood just what Justin saw in his partner.
“Thank you,” was all that Sabastian was able to say as he comprehended the sincerity of the family’s appreciation.
“I’m sure we’ll enjoy this,” Stephanie said as she went to pick up the heavy basket. “Holy shh…sugar! What is in this thing?”
“So glad you asked,” Brian gushed, sounding a bit like a certain tall party planner. He made like Vanna White, describing as he showed the Cabots each item and prepared goodie in the basket. The boys understood what Brian was doing and went along with it. By the time Brian was through with his theatrics, both Cabots were ready for their treetop adventure.
John was elected to usher their visitors up into the treehouse, review its features and do a safety check. He assured his guests that their sons wouldn’t be alone.
“We’ll leave the porch light on low just in case you need to come inside for any reason. Just remember the dogs sometimes sleep in the porch,” John stated.
With the Cabots all tucked in, so to speak, John went back to the cottage.
“Do you want to hang out with the boys tonight at the B&B,” Justin asked Bree. She was in her room, sitting on her bed surrounded by her laptop, books, and sketchbook.
“No, Daddy, not tonight. Ashley and I have a computer date later.”
“Are you feeling all right?” Justin asked his daughter with concern in his voice. He sat on and bed and gently touched Bree’s forehead.
“I’m fine, Daddy, really,” Bree assured her daddy. She kissed his cheek then threw her arms around Justin. “I love you, Daddy.”
“I love you too, Baby Girl.” Justin stood up to leave. “You’re really okay?”
“I promise. It’s a woman thing, Daddy,” Bree said with conviction.
“Got it,” Justin replied as he left Bree to her own devices.
“The Squirt going to join the boys tonight?” Brian asked as Justin joined him in the kitchen. Brian was pouring his last cup of coffee for the evening.
“Nope. She’s going to FaceTime with Ashley later. Brian?”
“I’m not sure if I like that our little girl is turning into a young woman,” Justin pronounced.
“And you’ve come to this conclusion now?”
“I never realized how grown up she’s become. She’s fourteen! She’ll be going on dates soon.”
“Not without a chaperone and Beau,” Brian decreed. End of discussion. “Gus, Ray, and Patrick will be going down the lane soon.”
“Don’t forget to tell them to grab Peter along the way. I bet he could use a boy’s night out too,” Justin suggested.
“Good thinking, Sunshine,” Brian said with a smile.
“Bri, do you think the Cabots will be okay up there?”
“They’ll be fine. It’s not like they’re deep in the woods, and we’re right here.” Justin smiled at his wise spouse. Brian took his coffee and went to find Gus.
“Well, boys, what can I do for you?” Debbie asked when Gus and gang knocked on the thatched roof cottage door.
“Can Peter come out to play?” Gus asked like the big kid he was.
“Asshole,” said Debbie as she gave Gus a lipstick kiss then a gentle pop to the side of his head. “He’s getting his backpack now. Bree not with you?” Deb asked as she peered through the boys crowding by her door.
“Not this time,” Patrick answered. “She’s planning on yacking with Ashley all night,” he said like it was a bad thing.
“Good for her. She’s a young lady who needs to do young lady things and not hang out with the boys all the time,” Debbie declared.
“Yes, ma’am,” the boys replied. At that moment Peter appeared and said boys were spared any further insults or admonishments.
“Behave yourselves!” Debbie yelled after them as they left her cottage.
“We will, Grandmaw,” Gus teased.
“And…” Deb began.
“No tricks after midnight! We know,” Gus called back, and well out of Debbie’s reach.
“I know where you live,” Debbie screeched before she shut the door.
The boys laughed as they walked the short trip down the lane to the large cottage.
“So, what’ll it be, boys,” Gus called out as they entered the cottage. “Strip poker, pin the tail on the queen, Monopoly?” Gus grinned as he called out various ways to pass the time.
“We brought a few video games,” Ryan suggested as he held up a wireless controller.
“Cool!” the boys agreed as they made themselves comfortable in the large living room.
“I think I’ll make us popcorn,” Ray stated as he went into the kitchen. He knew there was a stash of popcorn.
“There’s bottled water and stuff in the refrigerator,” Joe remarked.
And the boy’s night out officially began.
“Do you think they’ll be all right,” Justin asked Brian.
“Who, the kids or the Cabots?”
“I’m sure everyone will be fine. Gus and Ray are very responsible adults and Patrick is a great kid,” Brian commented as they got ready for bed. They boys decided to turn in early.
“Peter’s come a long way too,” Justin remarked.
“Yes, he has. He just needed a little love and people to help give him direction. It wouldn’t surprise me if he and Patrick took over Anderson Construction some day.”
“Really? You think so,” Justin asked.
“Yeah, I do. They both love some aspect of building the way John and Gordon do. And their personalities compliment each other like John and Gordon,” Brian elaborated.
“Huh, you may be right.”
“I’m always right,” Brian boasted.
“Not always,” Justin teased as he slipped into bed next to Brian. “But that’s why you have me,” Justin said as he waggled his eyebrows.
“Yeah, I do,” Brian whispered before capturing Justin’s lips.
“Want you,” Justin murmured.
“You got me,” Brian replied before they made love.
“Morning, sweetheart,” Stephanie whispered into Sabastian’s ear.”
“Mmm,” came the reply as Sabastian’s eyes fluttered open.
“Wake up, sleepyhead.”
“Do I have to?” Sabastian murmured.
“I have no idea what time it is, but the sun is definitely up.”
“It was surprisingly comfortable in here with the fireplace going,” Sabastian observed.
“I was very comfortable too, very very comfortable as a matter of fact.” Stephanie winked at her husband. “I really enjoyed … our time together.”
“Have to say that I enjoyed every minute of it too.”
Stephanie felt the heat rise to her cheeks. “I think this treehouse was just what we needed.”
“Maybe so, but my back has other feelings about sleeping on a wooden floor.”
“You mean a very thick air mattress covered in these exquisite sheets on a wooden floor,” Stephanie pointed out. “Is it bad?” Steph asked.
“I’ll be fine,” Sabastian conceded while rubbing the small of his back. “Is there anything left to eat? I’m hungry.”
“We both worked up an appetite last night.” She winked at her husband again. “Let’s see, there must be some food left. Whoever filled this hamper put in enough for a small army.”
Sabastian chuckled. “They really know how to look after their guests.”
“They really do,” Steph replied pulling on a sweater and looking into the picnic hamper. “Here,” she said after a couple of minutes. “Cheese stuffed into a popover.”
“Yum,” Sabastian replied.
Steph gave a small laugh. “You sounded like a two year old just then.”
“Last night I felt like a twenty year old,” Sabastian declared as he took a big bite of the popover.
“Yes, you did.” She stared pointedly at him.
“Now you’re making me blush.”
“That’s good,” Steph chuckled. “I think we really connected in more ways than one.”
“I … agree.” Sabastian licked his fingers as he finished his popover.
“Funny that a random call to deal with a patient could lead to all of this,” Steph stated.
“Yeah, funny. But maybe it was meant to be - just what we needed.”
“I love you,” Stephanie whispered.
“I love you more.”
“Do you think they’re awake yet?” Justin asked as he and Brian stood looking out of the sun porch toward the big tree that held the treehouse in its branches.
“Do you think they actually got some sleep?” Brian asked with a smirk.
“Not everyone is you.”
“Of course not, there’s only one of me.”
“Just the way I want it,” Justin said with a smile.
“Remember the first night we ever spent up there?”
“How could I forget!”
“That treehouse has a bit of magic to it.”
“Says the man who doesn’t believe in magic,” Justin retorted.
“Sometimes I believe in magic.”
“You cast some sort of spell over me years ago and I haven’t been able to break free ever since,” Brian stated.
“Like you want to break free,” Justin chuckled.
“Couldn’t if I wanted to.”
Justin frowned. “You don’t want to break free of me, do you?”
“That would be the correct answer.” Justin smiled at his lover.
“I never want to be without you,” Brian declared.“That’s why what happened to you was so scary. I thought we might lose you.”
“Just make sure you don’t let anything like that happen again.”
“How can you be sure of that?”
“You just told me that I am magic, so I know.”
“Good,” Brian responded before pulling Justin into a toe-curling kiss.
“Maybe we should spend a night or two in the treehouse … when Dr. Cabot is finished with it,” Justin suggested when his breathing returned to normal.
“That could be arranged,” Brian agreed with a suggestive waggle of his eyebrows.
“Good morning,” Stephanie said cheerily as she entered the sun porch not long after.
“You’re looking well this morning,” Brian observed. “Morning, Doc.”
“Morning,” Sabastian replied.
“You both look … refreshed this morning,” Justin said. “I trust the treehouse was to your satisfaction.”
“Very satisfactory,” Steph replied.
“Yes, very,” Sabastian agreed.
“We saw the tree a-rockin’ last night,” Brian said with a smirk.
“What? No, how could…?” Sabastian blustered. His cheeks had turned crimson at Brian’s declaration.
“Easy, doc, don’t blow a gasket,” Brian said quickly. He was afraid the good doctor might have a coronary. “I was kidding.”
“Oh, yes, of course.”
“Um, Sabastian is looking for coffee if you have any,” Stephanie said.
“Certainly, come into the kitchen,” Justin said.
Soon they were all seated at the kitchen table with their drinks.
“Could I offer you some breakfast?” Brian asked doing his best to be a good host. “All that fresh air probably made you quite hungry.” Brian looked knowingly at the doctor.
“Why, um, yes. If you have something available. I had one of those delicious popovers with some cheese when we first woke up.”
“So you did sleep,” Brian said trying to look all innocence as he started to scramble some eggs.
“Yes, of course we did.”
“Good to know.”
“We didn’t bring down anything from the treehouse,” Stephanie interrupted, anxious to change the subject. “We weren’t sure how to get everything down.”
“We’ll take care of it,” Justin offered.
“Oh, thanks, and if I can be of any help, just say so,” Steph stated.
“It’s no problem,” Justin assured her.
“This weekend has been just great,” Steph told him. “We’re so glad we came.”
“We appreciate everything you did for me, and it’s our pleasure to have you here.”
“Yeah, pleasure,” Brian said as he set a plate of scrambled eggs in front of each Cabot. He could see the color rise in Sabastian’s and Steph’s cheeks once again. He couldn’t help the smirk as he said, “Toast will be ready in a minute.”
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