We collect the parents mid-morning on Saturday. I love that Mom and I are close again and I hope I can sort something out with Dad this weekend. We sit outside with iced tea and talk about the wedding plans.
“We are very, very happy for you both. Peter was miserable for years while you were apart. This is quite the turnaround. I feel like I have my son back.” Dad says.
“Don’t worry about the date for us, we’ll fit in with whenever you decide and we’d be delighted to come for an extended time.” Mom says.
“Thanks. It means a lot that you’ll be there for us.” I say.
“Of course they’ll be there, they have to be.” Peter laughs.
“We’re not just here to talk about the wedding we also need to discuss some legal issues.” Mom says.
“As you know your Grandparents, my parents left you an education fund in trust, it was for all out children but we only had you. Due to your scholarships and fellowship we were able to convert the remains to help you buy your house.” Dad says and we both nod. I didn’t know the ins and outs but found out later this was why Dad insisted on paying full rent and Peter’s allowance got more and more generous, it wasn’t just guilt.
“There is a second trust that we never told you about because well in part because we wanted you to develop a strong work ethic, as did my in-laws. But also because it was only recently that we knew you would be able to use it, due to the conditions on it.” Mom says. Peter and I look baffled.
“Yes we didn’t want you marrying some girl just to get the money but as the law changed and you are able to get married, we’ve had everything checked out and the lawyers are satisfied. Once you are married you have access to your second trust.
Here is the paper work. I am one of the trustees and you can apply to us for an advance for wedding costs and also the rings though we can see that they are taken care of.” Dad says passing Peter the papers. Holy shit there is ten million in there, not that he needs it we have that and more already.
“Is this some kind of setup? Your way to get me to quit my job? If I check your accounts will I see this money siphoned off to created this so called trust? How could you get them involved’? You cannot control me like this.” Peter starts quietly and is shouting by the end. I’m shocked he thinks this of me.
“I had nothing to do with this. Nothing! I don’t need to do this, all I have is yours already.” I say so upset he’d accuse me. .
“This really is from a trust that has been in place since before you were born.” Dad says.
“Look at the paperwork Peter, it is not some scheme.” Mom says.
“It’s not hard to backdate fake documents. I cannot believe you are all doing this to me. I’m your son but I am an adult, I get to chose my own path. Alexander I agreed to marry you, you don’t get to decide everything or manipulate me to get your way. I am sick of this.” Peter says and storms off.
“I m sorry. I’ve been on at him to quit his job and he must think this is my way of forcing it. It is a big shock.” I say.
“Shall I go after him?” Mom asks.
“Let him be. He’ll cool down and want some space to think things through.” I say.
“Let’s get out of here, show us round your town.” Dad suggests and I nod.
We actually have a nice day, visiting the botanical gardens and other touristy things. I message Peter a few times and Mom tries calling but his phone is off. I try not to worry too much, he just needs to work out that we just wouldn’t conspire behind his back.
I cook dinner and we eat outside and have a few drinks. It is nice to catch up and we carry on talking about the wedding, ideas for places to have it. I show them the sorts of places I’ve already looked at and they suggest some places they have looked at. I’m surprised they have given as much thought as I have.
“We only have Peter and we want him to have a great wedding, not because we want to show him off but because he has been working so hard and been so miserable it is nice to finally have something to celebrate.” Mom says.
“He wouldn’t let us throw him a party when he got his book deal and we barely celebrated his Phd. He’s surprised us every year with his achievements and we thought letting us help him buy the house was a turning point, he was finally letting us back in but then neither of us liked Jorge which made things difficult.” Dad says.
“I thought he stayed close with you Mom.” I say confused.
“Not anything like as close as we were. When he got sick Tom and I spent time with him and we would both check in more often but it was very difficult, he was very closed off from us.” Mom says.
“From Tom too?” 1 ask.
“I think I spoke to Tom more than he did.” Dad says quietly.
“We were really worried. Felix would check in with me and Tom frequently, letting us know he was okay, working too hard but making an effort to be social too.” Mom says.
“I know he’s had a rough time but I thought he was doing okay. He seemed fine when I saw him at that dinner party, in a lot better shape than I was. He was a mess over the Jorge betrayal worse than I’d seen him for other breakups but he recovered fast, he’s been doing great since we got together.” I say.
‘He is a different man. Even though he blew up at us and ruined the day I feel a lot less worried. Seeing him show his temper is a good thing, believe me we’ve had years of no emotion.” Dad says.
“Am I rushing things too much? With the wedding and planning a life with him? Do you think I should give him more space to get back to who he was?” I ask worried that these blow ups he’s having will keep happening.
“He’s happy Alexander. He calls me unprompted, doesn’t complain when I tell him to call his father. He tells us both about you without us needing to pry. Keep doing what you are doing.” Mom says.
“It isn’t a rush, you two should have married years ago.” Dad says.
“I wish we had.” I sigh.
We move on to other things, Dad is contemplating retirement and wants to take a long trip to mark the occasion. Mom is happy at work, still taking trips to Las Vegas with her coworkers. They say they are not seeing anyone when I ask about others coming to the wedding.
“Truth is we’ve been having date night once a week for a few months.” Mom says shocking me.
“We enjoy each others company and we’re so long over everything that happened. When Aaron died last year I made my peace with his father. He has happily remarried and has an enormous family now, 3 step kids and 3 of his own. Said the divorce was the best thing he ever did he always wanted a big family.” Dad says.
“Aaron died?” I ask surprised.
“Heroin overdose, he’d been clean a while then relapsed.” Mom says quietly.
“Does Peter know? He never mentioned it. Eric never did either.” I say.
“Eric didn’t know, I told Cindy but she decided not to tell him. Didn’t want to give him a reason to relapse. It happened shortly after your wedding.” Mom says.
“Peter knew he came to the funeral. I know they had their difficulties but he wanted to be there.” Dad says.
“I had no idea. I can’t say I’m sorry. Gosh that is 2 of our group who didn’t make it to 30.” I say saddened, not at his death but at the waste and the reminder that Peter could have died too.
“Do you keep in touch with Blondie’s family? You should invite his parent to the wedding, or at least to any celebration you have after.” Mom says.
“I don’t keep in touch as much as I should but I do try and call around the holidays. Do you hear from them?” I ask.
“We exchange Christmas cards and they call now and then. When Peter was on TV they called, just as proud of him as we were.” Mom says.
“Did you make up with Cindy too?” I ask.
“Yes, we made up pretty quickly, she comes to Vegas with me sometimes. She’s love it if you reached out.” Mom says.
“Nah I feel like that one sailed. I loved her and she did a good job for me but I’ll always feel like she was conspiring with Sal to keep me in a box I didn’t want to be in career wise. Plus with Eric doing this reality show I have to be really careful who I talk to.” I say.
“Ah yes are we to expect doctorgate levels on intrusion again?” Dad asks.
“I hope not. Did you get any hassle when Peter was on TV?” I ask.
“Local paper ran an article and people would stop us and ask about him. But no photographers and no broken windows.” Mom laughs.
“It has never been that level again for me, even though my movies have been bigger. Even the wedding Cindy had to really shop to get a deal for pictures, not that I cared but for Eric.” I say.
“Will this wedding have that sort of thing?” Dad asks.
“No way. We want it quiet and simple, just the people we love. We’ll pay a
photographer locally for pictures.” I say.
“But we’ll have to keep it quiet so there is no intrusion.” Mom says.
“Yes, it might be a bit last minute letting you know where we’re going. But I think now we’re older we just won’t have that level of interest.” I say.
We go to bed. I curl up in a ball missing my baby so much. I’m just drifting off as he slips into the bed behind me.
“No nights apart.” He whispers and hugs me tight, wrapping himself all around me.
“You know I would never try and manipulate you like that.” I say quietly.
“I know. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have run off but I was really, really mad and I needed some time.” Peter says.
“You were gone a long time where did you go?” I ask.
“I went in to work and got caught up on my latest book edits and then spent some time on my project, I actually forgot the time.” Peter says.
“That’s the first time since you got back that you got caught up in your work.” I say quietly.
“Please don’t make me quit.” Peter says quietly.
“I only wanted you happier.” I say.
“And all to yourself.” Peter says squeezing me tight. I wriggle out of his embrace and turn to face him.
“Always. I want you with me all the time.” I say and kiss his face all over.
“Were Mom and Dad okay?” Peter asks.
“Did you know they were dating again?” I ask.
“They’ve seeing people for years.” Peter says looking confused.
“Dating each other.” I say.
“No? That is so weird.” Peter says.
“They seem happy. They are happy you are happier, even if you did blow a fuse.” I say.
“I’ll make it up to you all tomorrow.” Peter says kissing my nose and stroking my face.
“You better.” I say and kiss him back.
When I wake I panic for a minute as Peter is not in bed, I worry that I only dreamed he came back to me. Then I smell breakfast. I pull on shorts and grab my new robe and head to the kitchen.
Peter kisses me good morning and hands me coffee. Mom and dad are sat at the counter and I join them.
“What are you cooking? It smells so good.” I ask.
“French toast. Using the brioche you tried to make for burger buns.” Peter says.
I made an attempt Friday morning but it wasn’t right. Good fun and I’ll try again. I love how Peter is happily repurposing it. He always looks so good in the kitchen.
“We have no idea where he gets his love of cooking from.” Dad says.
“Probably from us rarely cooking.” Mom laughs.
“We were all too busy, you guys worked a lot, I was always at swimming practice.” Peter says.
“I’m surprised you don’t have a pool.” Dad says.
“I didn’t think I’d be living here fulltime and so didn’t want the upkeep. Plus I fell in love with this place when I saw the view. I’d have bought it even if it was a shack.” I say.
“We might choose somewhere together for when we’re married. Then we can have a pool.” Peter says.
“Do you want a pool? You seem to enjoy the ocean.” I ask.
“I do want a pool, I couldn’t afford a place with one before. I’d love to be able to swim at home after work. I used to use the college pool but now I try and get home fast.” Peter says.
“You swim every morning.” I say.
“Except when it’s raining or too rough or when too many jellyfish are about.” Peter says as he serves up.
“This tastes so good. Seems my bread was not as much as a disaster as I thought.” I say.
“No good for burgers, great for French toast, which I am sure is what you planned.” Peter says smiling at me.
We have a pleasant morning together, Peter has obviously cleared the air with the parents and they are happy not to mention Peter’s strop again. We drop them at the airport and I feel sad that we don’t see them more often.
“Why didn’t you tell me about Aaron?” I ask when we get home, it has been eating away at me and I just can’t hold back.
“What? It didn’t come up.” Peter answers.
“Come on it’s a big deal to not bring up.” I say.
“I thought Eric would have told you, given you were married at the time.” Peter says.
“Mom said Cindy kept it from Eric so he didn’t use it as an excuse to relapse.” I say
“Eric knew, Felix told him. As you were married at the time he could have told you. Not my responsibility.” Peter says rudely.
“I can’t believe it didn’t come up.” I say.
“Like you and Jay fucking didn’t come up?” Peter counters.
“Why are you trying to pick a fight?” I ask.
“I am so sick of your double standards. I need to go calm down.” Peter says.
“Wait, babe.” I pull Peter’s hand before he reaches the door and I wrap my arms around him. He is so angry.
“Where is all this anger coming from? Now, yesterday and the other night. You’re not usually like this.” I ask.
“Please let me go before I break this.” Peter says.
I hold him close refusing to let go, I need him to know how much I care before he goes.
“I know you love me. I just need time to calm down and think things through.” Peter whispers into my ear, I kiss his neck and hold him for just a minute longer.
He grabs his running shoes and heads out the door. I hate letting him go, but know how badly we’ve failed when we’ve refused each other space in the past.
I’m pretty confused. I don’t know why he keeps blowing up. I don’t know why he’s so angry and unhappy. Some days are so perfect, he is perfect, is that the problem? Is my telling him he’s perfect making him feel pressured? Is he worried he’ll turn me off?
Is he still so insecure?
Is it my fault? Am I doing something wrong? Am I upsetting him? Am I too irritating to live with? Is he lying when he says I’m not too clingy?
I run everything through my head. On Wednesday I should have supported him more over that Jasper. I was trying so hard for Felix I didn’t really think about how Peter was feeling, I was embarrassed he was being rude. But we have been okay since then, even today we were fine since making up over the trust misunderstanding.
I don’t see how I could have done anything about that, Peter just got it wrong. Am I pushing him to quit too much? Is that the problem? Am I just not good enough for him?
I’m worried. We’ve only had a couple of weeks back together and already we’re fighting all the time. We should be happier. Maybe it just isn’t going to work out. I shake myself off. I cannot cope with that thought.
I go outside and lie in the fading sun. I hate him not being here. I just want to reach out and hold his hand. It is so physical my need for him, I’ve never been like this, even when we were together before, not really. I always needed some of my own space and time for my friends. Now I guess I’m so worried about losing him, even for a second I need the constant reassurance of his touch.
I can’t wait. I grab my keys and walk down to the beach. He’s not there. I sit on the sand and wait a while.
“Hey.” Peter says as he flops down next to me all sweaty and out of breath.
“Feeling better?” I ask.
“Yes and no.” Peter says putting his arm around me and pulling me close, I don’t mind the sweat, I like the closeness I snuggle in to him and lean my head on his shoulder.
“I have so many issues that my head is clogging up and I don’t know which to deal with first but I am feeling a whole lot calmer. I have to trust you and let you in. If I don’t I’ll keep blowing up and that’s not fair on you.” Peter says after a few minutes.
“And you feel you’re done with therapy.” I joke.
“I wish you’d come with me, let us have couples therapy. I don’t mention you at all when I’m there because I know how paranoid you are.” Peter says.
“What? I’ve been so scared you’ll come back from a session and dump me and you lied to me about it?” I ask half outraged, half delighted, my silly mixed up boy.
“I worked through the Jorge issue and the rejection the last 2 weeks and coping with fame. It doesn’t feel right going through my issues with you with them. Plus I am happy we are together and committed, I might not be that keen on marriage but I don’t want to dissect the speed in which I rebounded into you because it isn’t rebound. I don’t want to risk anyone undermining our decisions.” Peter says.
“I will never do couples therapy or any other sort. It wasn’t helpful for me last time, other than you reminding me to do it was one of the lovely ways you showed you cared.” I admit.
“I wouldn’t actually ask you to. I just sometimes wish we had some help. But maybe I’m not being fair as I’ve not discussed much with you yet, I’m just swimming in resentment.” Peter admits.
“But why? You know you are stuck with me forever, you know how much we need this to work. It can’t work if you are secretly unhappy and walking round like a volcano.” I say.
“I know. After we fought about getting married I told myself I’d not bring anything up for a while. I figured we needed a good amount of adjustment time and I should be the one working to make you happy anyway.” Peter says.
“I am crazy happy.” I admit, its true, other than Peter being so clearly upset I’m in a great place. I thought he was too before yesterday, he told me what a good place he was in just a few days ago.
“I feel like bringing up my issues would spoil that, so I kept quiet. Seeing you so happy brings me so much joy.” Peter says.
“Seeing you unhappy is painful.” I say.
“That’s fair. Where do I start? How do I fix things?” Peter asks.
“Let’s work backwards, what have I done wrong most recently?” I ask only half joking.
“Hey, it’s not right and wrong baby. It’s not Alexander is shit and needs to change. It’s more Peter needs to cope better.” Peter says. I nod, I realize I’m crying onto his already wet shirt, he’s not even said much yet.
“When you are in my arms like this it is hard to remember anything is wrong.” Peter says.
“I was thinking before how physical my need for you is, I hate being away from you so much. I need to just be able to reach for you.” I say.
“I know, not sexual just comfort, reassurance.” Peter says.
“Exactly. I was so mad at you for yesterday but the minute you spooned into me I was fine.” I say.
“Lets go home. I want to do this nude.” Peter says.
“Lay everything bare.” I laugh.
“Exactly.” Peter says, we get up and walk slowly up the hill to the house holding hands, silently reconnecting. We walk through to the deck strip off and lie together on a lounger.
“I love it like this.” Peter says holding my arms close around him as he lies on me for a change.
“Me too, now quit stalling.” I laugh.
“I was so, so mad at you yesterday, I really did think you were going behind my back to make me quit.” Peter begins.
“I do want you to quit your job, but I wouldn’t manipulate you like that.” I say.
“On Friday I spoke to Blair, he asked if I was coming up to the meetings you are having about my TV show next week. So I know you are going behind my back about that. I know my job isn’t glamorous and I know my books and new profile are opening up opportunities that might be more suitable for the husband of Sandy Green than researcher and college professor but I feel really hurt that you are railroading me into something I don’t want to do.” Peter says and I tense beneath him. We see things so differently.
“I want you to quit your job because you are unhappy. I don’t care if you make TV shows or flip burgers. My image has nothing to do with it. I hate you being unhappy.” I say.
“1 am not unhappy with my job. I am unhappy with my performance at work. I hate that I’m not teaching or doing afterschool club this semester. I hate that my colleagues are suspicious of me getting perks due to my profile and I can’t go for after work beers or pull all nighters with them because I have to get home to you. I feel adrift and out of control but I’m only just back. I’ll settle back in and catch up.” Peter says.
“You can go for a beer after work and I expect you to work late when you’re in full research mode. It isn’t like I don’t know what you’re like. I told you, I’ll bring you dinner or coffee or whatever you need. I thought you were miserable at work because you weren’t staying late at all. You are rushing home every night.” I say.
“You are climbing the walls on Thursdays when I’m late. You would be a mess if I was late every night or even 2 or 3.” Peter says.
“I’ll cope. I have to get used to it. Peter I’m willing to make every concession on this one. It’s your turn to work and I will support whatever you need. It’s my turn to look after you, stop trying to take care of me.” I say so happy that he’s actually okay.
“I thought you were trying to get me quit so you could work and I’ve been so angry with you. I’m sorry.” Peter says.
“Please just talk to me. Please don’t wait and hold it in. I might get mad but I’m not leaving. I am not losing you. I have watched your confidence grow day by day and I want that to be real and not a show you put on for me. It’s nice knowing you don’t want to hurt my feelings but I’m not a china doll I am a lot tougher than I was. I had to be when I was without you.” I say.
“I’m sorry for not trusting you. You’ll be okay if I don’t do the TV thing?” I ask.
“Part of why I didn’t tell you was because it might not come off, we might not get any deals. I’d like to keep all my meetings next week and I promise I will keep you informed. I want to see if I can do this. Even if we decide it’s ultimately not for you.” I say.
“Okay that sounds fair. If you’re in LA all week I can work late without worry.” Peter says.
“We can do this. I’ll be home every night.” I say.
“Why didn’t you have my back on Wednesday?” Peter asks.
“I’m sorry, I thought about that as soon as you left for your run. I was so focused on Felix and making Jasper feel welcome that I was mad at you for being rude. I didn’t stop to think about why you were rude.” I say.
“I was jealous. I have you and you are a million times better than that guy but I was jealous of Felix, that he managed a second date where I failed.” Peter says.
“That guy was intimidated by you. He didn’t give you a second chance as his way of punishing you. I bet he would if you’d begged, we wanted that, to have the upper hand. You had a lucky escape.” I say.
“Felix was so smitten and so over him so fast.” Peter says.
“You know what he’s like. He said that he made a lot of digs about college and Felix would have tired of that soon enough.” I say.
“Like Jorge, I should set them up they’d be a great pair.” Peter laughs.
“Anything else troubling you? Anything else I’m doing to upset or annoy you?” I ask.
“Your face when I mentioned buying somewhere with a pool and the house and where we live. I feel like because you are happy in your house, in this city that my views are being ignored.” Peter says.
“But you chose this city, our friends are here and it’s our house not mine.” I say.
“It’s your house and a few of my kitchen things and new towels don’t make it any less your house. It is beautiful and in a great location but it is yours. I felt so proud of myself buying my place, I worked so hard and yes my parents helped me but they only could because I’d done so well in school. I’ll never feel that achievement walking into your house.” Peter says.
“Wow, I’m not sure what to say. You can give me half the money when you get your trust but as it will go straight into our joint investments it won’t feel the same.” I say.
“I am ready to concede on this city and I won’t make you live in my place. But what if we built a place, with a pool for us? We could sell both our places. If we got started soon it could be ready for when we’re married. I like the idea of moving in somewhere brand new to both of us when we come home from the wedding.” Peter says.
“Well that’s a huge project for me while you’re at work. I love it, of course I do. I love the idea of finding somewhere a little out of town with real privacy. As long as it isn’t too long a drive to work for you? What else? Is a view enough or do you need to be able to run to the beach?” I ask.
“What do you need? I love the beach you know that but I can cope with driving down at weekends, as long as we have a running route for mornings that is interesting. We can have a gym too like we used to, so when you go back to work you can get in shape in private if you need to.” Peter says.
“I love the idea of a library come study with a view, where we can work side by side or read while the other is working. But I love my current bathroom, where we can go outside from the tub.” I say.
“I love that too, my fave part of the house. Just knowing you were thinking of me, however subconsciously when you got that put in makes me feel good.” Peter says.
“How many times over the years have I bought furniture thinking Peter would like this or chosen a hotel room because it had a big tub then not used it because you were not there. I never, ever thought oh Jay would like this view, Eric would love this chair. Ever. I know you are still a bit mad at me over the Jay thing and I shouldn’t have hidden it. I just want you to know that even when you were not in my life you were.” I say.
“I never realized I’d lose you completely as a friend. If I’d realized that it would be too painful for us to just call and chat then I don’t know if I’d have gone through with it. Not being able to tell you about my day was so disorientating. I never filled that hole, Tom, Blondie, Felix are all smart guys but none of them as smart as you. I missed challenging conversation. God that date we had, the night of the Jorge implosion really was the best night in years.” Peter says.
“I think I forgot I was smart. I did read all your papers and thought about you far too much to be healthy. All over now, you are mine.” I say.
“I really am. Sorry for being a volcano. I need to remember how lucky I am to have you, I shouldn’t be asking you to change.” Peter says.
“You’re not. We’re both adjusting to living with someone again. I mean living with someone really important.” I say.
“Yeah it is an adjustment but I love having you in my bed every night. The worst thing about Jorge was his refusal to move in. And you love me being in your bed, my super snugglemonster.” Peter says laughing.
“Anything else?” I ask.
“Don’t bug me about Aaron, he’s gone and I’m glad and I feel guilty that I’m glad. I wasn’t in a great place when it happened, still recovering from you getting married and I was in a bit of a medicated fog. I forget things from around that time, I forget he’s gone and honestly I just want to forget. It genuinely didn’t come up, I didn’t not tell you on purpose or anything.” Peter says.
“I get that. I do. We’ve had so long apart we’re bound to have forgotten some important things that happened.” I say.
“Thanks. I know you want to know what I had for breakfast and when I took a piss every day.” Peter says laughing.
“I do. As long as we have no secrets now, well other than gifts.” I say.
“That includes ideas for my career.” Peter says.
“Lesson learned. I love that you do what you do. I hate that you’re doing this job because it is from before us. I know you took it because of me, which makes this even more irrational. But there it is. I would never stop you doing it but I hate that part of your life from before us is still such a big part of it.” I say.
“My books are from before us.” Peter says.
“I guess so. You never talked of them or the idea of them before, that came after me. I love your books, I’m just an irrational, jealous guy.” I say.
“My irrational, jealous guy.” Peter says.
“All yours.” I say kissing him hard. I’ve been grinding against his leg for the last few minutes, hard and ready for him. He wants me just as much. We grind and stroke and kiss. Melding into one we are a blur of groans and murmurs.
I dream of walking into our home married. It is the most beautiful place, simple, but beautiful and all ours. I wish I could draw. Then even in my dream I laugh at myself, remembering if I choose what it looks like alone it isn’t ours. I dream of holding his hand staring out to sea like on the island. I dream of walking through our new front door married and all tanned from honeymoon. I dream how he is to be mine forever.
I wake feeling so happy and so content that I have to pinch us both to believe it is real.