Working My Way Back
“Welcome to Edna’s Treasures,” Brian said as he came from the kitchen to greet his guests. “Dr. Cabot, it’s good you could make it,” he added extending his hand to shake. “And this must be the lovely Mrs. Cabot,” Brian said with a small bow of his head.
“Oh my, yes, yes I am,” Stephanie said clutching at the neck of her dress. She hoped she wasn’t blushing too much. “But please, call me Stephanie.”
“Lovely to have you here, Stephanie. And these must be your sons?”
“Yes, Ryan and Joseph,” Dr. Cabot stated, pointing to each boy as he mentioned his name.
When the introductions were complete, Brian guided his guests to the sun porch where Justin was sitting in a comfortable chaise watching Bree setting the table. He was no longer covered in blankets, but he didn’t look too happy.
“I see my patient is taking it easy, as I advised,” Dr. Cabot noted.
“Like I have any choice,” Justin grumbled. Bree gave him a withering look. She had backed off as much as possible from mothering him, but he didn’t seem to appreciate it. “Nice to see you again, Dr. Cabot. Glad it’s under better circumstances than the last time,” Justin stated.
“Definitely better circumstances,” Dr. Cabot replied. “And please call me Sabastian,” he added deciding that he shouldn’t be so formal.
“About time you gave them your first name, Sabby,” Glen piped in.
Sabastian glared at Glen before introducing his wife and sons to Justin. Bree came forward to shake hands. She noticed that the brothers were quite good looking and Ryan seemed to be smiling at her in an interesting manner. She batted her violet eyes at each brother as she said hello to them.
Brian got them all settled with drinks while Bree went back to setting the table.
“Could you use some help?” Ryan asked Bree as he sauntered up to her.
“How are your leaf collecting skills?”
“Leaves, you know the things that grow on trees.”
“Oh, those leaves,” Ryan chuckled. “Why are you asking me if I can collect leaves?”
“Because the table is ready, but it needs some decoration. I thought I’d gather some leaves to scatter down the center of the table.”
“Oh, I could help you with that,” Ryan offered.
“Let’s go,” Bree said as she went out the door of the sun porch.
“Shouldn’t you have a coat?” Ryan asked as they walked past the Wendy house.
“We’re not going far,” Bree said as she found some leaves and started looking for ones that weren’t too dry or brittle. Ryan picked up several too.
“That should be enough,” Bree said as she turned to walk back to the cottages.
“Do you like living out here?” Ryan asked.
“It’s the only place I’ve ever lived, so, yeah, I like it.”
“Seems kind of lonely.”
“What’s wrong with lonely?” Bree asked with a frown.
“Do you have any friends?”
“Of course I have friends. You’re weird.” Bree started walking faster.
Ryan hurried to keep up with her. “I just meant that it’s all adults out here.”
“No it’s not.”
“You’ll meet Patrick and Peter at dinner. That is, if you don’t ask too many more dumb questions before then.” Bree yanked open the door of the sun porch.
“I’ll try not to,” Ryan said quickly. “Sorry.”
Bree just kept on going. She began to spread the leaves in little piles along the long table. Ryan handed her the ones he had collected. She laid them all out then rearranged a few.
“There, done!” she declared stepping back to admire her handiwork.
“That looks really good. You know what you’re doing … with leaves.”
“Of course I do.” Bree headed toward the kitchen. She needed to check on the big pot of squash soup that her Auntie Emm had helped her make. Everyone had really liked the cabbage soup, and she hoped this soup would be just as good.
“Look, I didn’t mean to upset you,” Ryan said contritely.
“Takes a better man than you to upset me,” Bree told him as she stirred the pot of soup.
Ryan smiled. She had called him a man. He liked that. “That smells really good.”
“It is. Um, want a little taste?” she asked holding out a spoon. She thought maybe she had tortured their guest long enough. This was her peace offering. “It’s hot, so be careful.”
Ryan took a spoonful of the soup. He blew on it before taking a sip. “This is delicious,” he said with a smile. “I could make a whole meal of this soup.”
Bree smiled at him. “At least you have good taste in soup.”
“And in other things too.”
Bree raised an eyebrow just as the door to the conjoined cottages opened and the lane descended upon them. Introductions were made all around. Dr. Cabot got lots of thank you’s and heartfelt wishes for helping Justin in his time of crisis. He was basking in his moment of glory, when Stephanie gave him a little elbow to the ribs.
“Don’t milk it too far,” Stephanie advised with a knowing nod.
“Me? Milking it? Whatever do you mean?”
“I’ve been called much worse.”
“Just behave yourself. These people are grateful and very generous,” Stephanie whispered.
“Got it,” Sabastian said contritely.
At that moment a woman way too old to have the red hair she sported grabbed him and gave him a crushing hug. The air left his body and he started to feel light headed.
“Can’t breathe,” he gasped.
“Oh, sorry,” Debbie said as she released him. “I’m so thankful that you brought our Sunshine back to us.”
“Sunshine?” Cabot asked as the air returned to his lungs and he felt considerably better.
“Yes, our Sunshine, Justin,” Debbie repeated.
“Why do you call him Sunshine?”
“Have you seen him smile?”
“He wasn’t able to smile when I first saw him. He wasn’t able to do anything,” Cabot reminded her. “And his recovery was rather painful.”
“Right,” Debbie said, “coma, trakotomy.”
“Yes, tracheotomy,” Cabot corrected her.
“Anyway, we are so glad to have Justin back and well. So, thank you very much.”
“It’s my job, and you’re very welcome.”
“That must be the one Emmett warned us about,” Stephanie said as Debbie moved away.
“Did he warn us about anyone else, because I don’t think I’d live through another hug like that.”
Stephanie chuckled. “She was the only one he mentioned. Um, have you noticed how much Brian and his brother look alike?”
“Yes, I met John while Justin was in the hospital.”
“They’re both very good looking,” Stephanie observed, causing Cabot to frown in response.
“They are good looking, but you should see Brian’s son, Gus,” Molly said as she had her moment with the couple.
“Does he look like them?”
“Very much, but a younger version.”
“Might be a little young for me,” Stephanie laughed. Cabot almost choked at her statement, before realizing that she was joking. “Do you have family, Molly?”
“Yes, my husband and son are spending Thanksgiving with his family. I wanted to be here for my brother.”
“I guess it gets tricky when there are two families to deal with,” Stephanie observed.
“Can be tricky. You have that to look forward to,” Molly said as she nodded toward the twins.
Ben and Michael were standing by the windows of the sun porch. They were looking out on the dying light of the autumn day.
“It feels good to be back on the lane,” Michael said.
“Better than Pittsburgh?”
“Different than Pittsburgh … especially because you’re here with me.”
Ben smiled at his partner … the man was still his husband. “It’s good to be here with you too.”
“Have you noticed that hardly anyone has spoken to us since we go here?” Michael asked.
“I imagine they don’t know what to say,” Ben posited. “We haven’t said we’re together, or just friends, or friends with benefits.”
Michael chuckled. “So far we’re all of those things except the last one.”
“No benefits … yet,” Ben said looking into Michael’s eyes.
“Should we tell them where things stand with us?”
“Naw, let ‘em guess a while longer.”
“That should be fun,” Michael agreed.
“We’ll see,” Ben said resting his arm on Michael’s shoulders.
Rachael approached Dr. and Mrs. Cabot. She wanted to thank the doctor, but she still felt very responsible for what had happened to Justin.
“Dr. Cabot,” she said softly. “I’m Rachael, Bobby’s sister. I wanted to tell you how grateful I am that you were able to help Justin and get him back to us. I…I’m the one who took Justin to that restaurant that caused his allergy attack.” She looked ready to burst into tears.
Stephanie was about to console Rachael when her husband said,” I hope you don’t feel responsible for what happened to Justin. He could just as easily have gone to that restaurant by himself. It’s not your fault.”
Rachael opened her mouth to protest that it was indeed her fault.
“Uh, uh, uh,” Sabastian stopped her. “I don’t want to hear that it was your fault, because it wasn’t. It was an unfortunate accident.”
“Thank you for saying that,” Rachael said. “I still feel awful about what happened, but that does help.” She smiled at the doctor. “And thank you for taking such good care of Justin.” She moved quickly away.
“That was very sweet of you,” Stephanie said giving her husband a peck on the cheek.
“I do have some sweet moments,” Sabastian replied smugly.
“Yes you do.”
“Do you think you’ll keep me, and not trade me in for one of the handsome men present here today?”
“I believe they’re all taken. And I wouldn’t trade you for the world.”
Sabastian beamed at his wife. He decided then and there that he needed to tell her how beautiful she was and how much he loved her … every day.
Sabastian turned his head to see an older man standing beside him with a young boy about his sons’ age. The boy seemed to be of mixed race. “Yes?” Sabastian replied.
“I’m Carl Horvath. I think you already met my wife, Debbie.” Carl pointed to the redhead.
“Yes, I did. She certainly has an … impressive hug.”
“Impressive, yes,” Carl said with a chuckle. “This is our foster son, Peter Chang.”
“Hello, Peter,” Stephanie said. “Have you met our sons?” Peter shook his head. Stephanie waved to her boys and they came over. “Ryan and Joseph are twins,” she said as she introduced them to Carl and Peter.
“You don’t look alike,” Peter observed.
“We’re fraternal twins,” Joseph said. “I’m the handsome one.” That earned him an elbow in the ribs from his brother. Ignoring Ryan, Joseph asked, “Do you live on the lane?” Peter nodded. “It’s a beautiful place. I wish I had brought my sketchbook with me. I’d like to draw some of the things I’ve seen.”
“I have an empty sketchbook at home if you’d like to use it,” Peter offered. He looked at Carl for permission to continue. Carl nodded. “Come with me. We can pick it up right now and drop it off at the B&B before dinner.”
“That would be great,” Joseph said as he followed Peter out of the house.
The boys walked down the lane.
“How did you end up living here?” Joseph asked. “The Horvaths don’t look like your parents or grandparents.”
“So … how come you’re here?”
“It’s a long story,” Peter said not wanting to get into his rather sad and unusual life. “Debbie took me on as a foster child. They’ve been great.”
“That’s good,” Joseph said feeling empathy for the young man. He was sure there was a lot more to Peter’s story. “You said you have a sketchbook. Do you draw?” Peter nodded. “What do you like to draw?”
“Fantasy worlds, places I invent and would like to live in.”
“Will you show me?”
“Maybe tomorrow,” Peter said. “We need to hurry up or they’ll start dinner without us.”
“You live in the thatched cottage,” Joseph said in awe. “Can I look around?”
“Come in while I get the sketchbook. The house isn’t very big.”
Joseph looked around while Peter went to his room to get the sketchbook. “This is a neat place,” Joseph said when Peter returned.
“It’s okay,” Peter agreed. “Let’s go.”
As they went back up the lane, Joseph found it was hard to get Peter to talk, but he thought maybe while they were there, he could get to know Peter better and see more of the thatched cottage. He really liked it.
When they arrived back at the conjoined cottages, people were starting to choose their spots at the long table in the sun porch.
“Want to sit with me?” Joseph asked.
Peter looked surprised, but he nodded his head and found a seat next to Joseph. He wondered if Joseph’s interest in him would continue for the weekend. He was so used to being the odd man out that he wasn’t sure how to respond to things like Joseph’s invitation to sit together. Peter knew he liked the young man. It might be fun to have a friend, if only for the weekend.
Joseph’s brother was making sure he got a seat next to Bree. Joseph could tell that Ryan was interested in the girl. She was cute and seemed smart, but Joseph was more interested in Peter.
On the other side of the table Patrick watched Ryan Cabot position himself beside Bree. Patrick felt a sudden pang of jealousy. Bree always sat with him. He wasn’t sure he liked this new guy cutting in and taking his spot.
Everyone finally got settled and they were all more than ready for the feast ahead.
The meal started with Bree’s squash soup which everyone loved. Justin really enjoyed the soup which went down his throat very easily. He was ready to try the turkey and mashed potatoes with gravy, maybe heavy on the mashed potatoes.
As everyone dug into the main course sipping their glasses of wine, a mellow mood took over the room. There was quiet chatting and a few bursts of laughter as someone told a joke or acted silly.
Dr. Cabot looked around the room. He was enjoying the meal very much. He had been told that Emmett was largely responsible for the cooking and organizing of the big meal. Someone had told him that Emmett was a party planner. He could see that the flamboyant man was very good at his profession. He’d have to remember that, if he and Stephanie ever held a big party, or if the hospital needed some event organized.
As he surveyed the large group, which was really a small group if Emmett was to be believed, Cabot couldn’t help but marvel at the happy looks on all the faces of the couples at the table. It seemed like these people had found their place in the world and their mates to share that world with them.
“What are you thinking?” Stephanie asked as she squeezed her husband’s arm.
“Admiring what these families have built here.”
Stephanie smiled at her husband. “I totally agree with you. It’s like a little piece of paradise. I’m glad we came.”
“Me too,” Cabot agreed.
There was some tapping of glasses to get people’s attention. Brian Kinney stood up. He hoped he could get through what he wanted to say without getting too emotional.
“Ladies and gentlemen, and Honeycutt,” Brian began. There was a burst of laughter.
“Don’t call me Honeycutt,” Emmett said on cue. Drew gave him a hug.
“I’m glad all of you could be with us for this Thanksgiving.” He looked specifically at Dr. Cabot and his wife, and at Rachael who smiled back at him.
“This is a day of thanksgiving. I especially am thankful that I have my husband here tonight. It was touch and go there for a while. But … the outcome couldn’t be better. I’d like you to raise your glass in a toast to the man I love and the best person in the whole world.”
As the glasses clinked Dr. Cabot looked at Justin. His face was lit up with the most breathtaking smile he had ever seen. This was Debbie’s Sunshine, he realized.
Then Brian pulled his husband up from his seat and gave his husband a kiss that had most people in the room fanning themselves from the heat of it. Then they all applauded their approval.
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