“Spence honey can you work in the café with Gervais this morning. I have some paperwork to go through with Andy and it’ll be quicker just the two of us.” Clara says over breakfast one morning.
“Sure. We’ve no plans today.” Spence says with a tight smile.
“Cool help grab the boxes and we’ll get going.” Gervais says.
Spence drinks the last of his coffee and gets up reluctantly to help Gervais.
‘You two seem to be hiding yourselves away.” Clara says to Andy as they clear the breakfast things.
“Things are really good and we’ve had so little time together all semester that we are making the most of some real time together.” Andy says.
“You’re leaving Gervais alone a lot.” Clara says.
“We’re not really friends.” Andy says.
“But friendly enough to arrange to travel together.” Clara says.
“Look just say it okay. I messed up leaving Blue behind. I should never have encouraged Deke to come with us. I should have made sure both cars left together. I get it.” Andy says angrily.
“What’s going on?” Clara asks gently.
“I just wanted to get up here as soon as possible. I wanted to see Roe and Katelyn and I was excited to show Spence around. I knew Deke was homesick and wanted him to get home as soon as possible too.” Andy says.
“No, not the travel home. What is going on with you? You and Blue were close friends at the end of the summer and the start of semester and then you stopped seeing each other. You’ve not talked about seeing your mother. Roe is concerned that you’ve cut yourself off from everyone, much as you were worried Blue was doing.” Clara says.
“It’s different Spence doesn’t stop me seeing my friends and I hang out with the other guys when Spence is working, just not Blue because he was hiding away with George or from George. I wanted to talk about my Mom but Spence was too busy and Blue disappeared it has been really tough for me this semester but Robin stepped in and now Spence and I are back on track things will be fine. I’m doing okay.” Andy says.
“Just please talk to Roe you’ve barely been over there. Katelyn is struggling with guilt over not wanting your mom here and she needs you too. Can you send Spence off with Deke for a day and spend some real time with her before Bea gets here?” Clara asks.
“Yeah I’ll make the effort.” Andy says feeling bad that he hasn’t seen much of his sister.
“Now Robin’s mom and I have been talking about housing for next year. She’s sent me the details of places and we’re suggesting that we buy a place each, that you and Spence lice in one and Blue, Gervais and Robin the other.” Clara says.
“Spence and I would love that but I don’t think that will work for Blue.” Andy says.
“The others have said Spence might not be happy not getting to choose the place.” Clara says
“He will be happy as long as there is room for his car and its not too long a drive to school and his gyms. I’ll be okay if we live near the others and I can hang out there when Spence is working.” Andy says brightly, he loves the plan.
“Good.” Clara says.
“Clara I really love that you’ve thought of us like this. Having you as our landlady puts us on an even footing for once, not Spence subsidizing me. It has been great to be able to treat Spence now and then this year. He would never want his fortune to come between us but sometimes it is really hard.” Andy says.
“You worked hard last summer and I’m glad you’ve been able to use some of the money for fun. How are your plans shaping up for this summer? It sounds like you won’t need any work from me.” Clara asks.
“I’m going to work part time for Deke’s dad at the start of the summer and then full time for his uncle. Then I’m leaving the last few weeks free to either extend there or visit other farms. Is that okay? It’ll be unpaid.” Andy says.
“Of course it is okay and our usual deal stands, all your expenses are covered while you’re here and I’ll pay you at the end of the summer for the voluntary work you do, which of course includes the farm work. You’re saving me the time of finding as many jobs for you.” Clara says.
“Thank-you. I do appreciate everything you’ve done for my family, I really do.” Andy says.
“I know you do. And you need to know that nothing is dependent on you being friends with Blue. I know he is difficult to be around and I can’t force you to be friends.” Clara says and Andy is too shocked to respond.
“Do you have papers for me or was that an excuse?” Andy asks.
“I do, lets go through all the statements get you up to speed and run through the choices you need to make.” Clara says and they get to work.
“Thanks for not making me go through all this during school. Its so much.” Andy says.
“There is lots to do but we’re getting there, once all the sales go through it will be easier. Now we need to talk about money for your mother.” Clara says.
“She didn’t lodge a claim.” Andy says.
“No but she has asked Roe for help.” Clara says.
“I thought she was building to it when I visited her. I guess she thinks Roe is in charge.” Andy says.
“Yes and that protects you a little. Both Roe and I think she would benefit from coming up here and working at the retreat but Katelyn comes first and she isn’t ready. The risk with your mother is always that she’ll give all she has to a man. She is working hard and staying single but I don’t think Roe is ready to trust her.” Clara says.
“So an allowance? That sounds so patronizing.” Andy says.
“I think your previous idea of getting her skills up to date so she can work in beauty again. Offer to pay for courses and to set her up in business.” Clara says.
“But what about rent?” Andy asks.
“She did get some money from Jacob and had the settlement from the house from her previous divorce. She’s not hurting right but longer term she will be. Which was why she asked Roe for money. She’s worried about it running out.” Clara explains.
“Man she lived rent free with Roe didn’t she? Sponged off Jacob and then you guys paid for her treatment. She can pay for her classes herself. I’m done. No way should she come up here and mess with Katelyn and Roe’s lives.” Andy says.
“Telling her she’s cut off is the fastest way to send her into the arms of another bad man.” Clara says.
“I don’t care.” Andy grumps.
“Yes you do, else you’d never have been to see her. You wouldn’t have used the energy thinking of her.” Clara says.
“I’ll see her and take her to enroll and pay for the classes.” Andy says.
“Now I need to go to the store you boys get through so much milk. Can you bake some bread later?” Clara asks.
“Sure, can I come with you and see Spence?” Andy asks.
“Of course. We can have lunch at the café with them, they’ll be due to finish.” Clara says.
They head to the café first and the four sit together once Gervais and Spence’s shift ends and happily chat about their day while eating lunch.
Clara gets up to talk to a friend who has come in.
“Whats the plan this afternoon?” Spence asks.
“I need to do the outdoor chores.” Gervais says.
“And Clara asked me to bake some bread so I need to get started on that. You can just chill for a bit.” Andy says.
“Deke said there’s a party tonight at the lake. We should pick up some burgers from the store and make something to take.” Gervais says.
“Won’t it be freezing?” Spence asks.
“They will have a bonfire no doubt.” Andy says.
Deke’s mom comes in and says hello to the guys before heading over to Clara.
“Isn’t it lovely having our boys home for the holidays.” Deke’s mom says.
“I wouldn’t know.” Clara says abruptly.
“I’m so happy Deke had your boys to look after him. College was a big adjustment but he is so happy and settled in so well.” Deke’s mom says brushing off Clara’s comment.
“Having Andy, Spence and Gervais here is great but that doesn’t make up for not having my son home. Deke should have told Blue he wasn’t going to wait for him to finish his exams. We could have made other arrangements. Ditching him without a word was disgusting.” Clara says and returns to the boys table while Deke’s mom stands there open mouthed.
“Are you okay?” Gervais asks.
“Yes but it is later than I thought, can you pick up the milk? I need to get going.” Clara asks trembling.
“For sure no problem.” Andy says.
“Man I thought she’d calmed down about the Blue thing.” Spence says.
“What is your problem?” Gervais asks.
“What?” Spence asks.
“You don’t help out at the house, you stood here and bitched all morning leaving me to do everything and now you’re complaining that Clara is still upset. What happened to you?” Gervais asks fed up.
“I’m a guest, guests don’t do chores. Asking me to work here is demeaning.” Spence says shaking his head.
“We all pitched in at the beach. Blue freaking catered a party for you and you can’t do a couple of hours making coffee?” Gervais asks angrily.
“That was different, I was giving you a free vacation.” Spence shrugs.
“Lets go.” Andy says quietly thoroughly embarrassed at Spence’s behavior but knowing siding with Gervais in public will lead to a huge row.
The three shop quickly in silence. Gervais and Andy make polite small talk with the owner and get out as quickly as they can. They ride back to the house in silence.
Gervais heads straight outdoors to do his chores leaving Spence and Gervais to put the groceries away.
Andy puts things away washes up and starts working on the bread.
“There was bread in the store, why not just buy it. Why do you all make things so difficult up here?” Spence asks breaking the silence.
“The bread in the store is for those who can’t make their own. We can and we’ll take a couple of extra loaves to the store along with the excess eggs and goats cheese. That is how it works here. I like the system.” Andy says working on his dough.
“Why are you mad at me?” Spence asks.
“Are you kidding?” Andy asks stopping and looking at Spence for a moment.
“No. What is your problem?” Spence asks.
“You and all the guest shit. We’re family and family do chores, they help out and make things easier for each other. I know you are used to housekeepers and gardeners but we don’t live like that here. I didn’t push it as Gervais was doing a lot and you were driving me all over but now we’re here more its so embarrassing when you don’t even offer to make a pot of coffee.” Andy says.
“Clara isn’t my family, she’s not yours either. I get that Roe’s place is small but you have a room there.” Spence says.
“She is my family and if you are my family then she’s yours too.” Andy says.
“I’ve been so proud of you up here, supported all your plans even though it means time apart when you could easily have found a farm closer to me. We have lived together for years and you have enjoyed having a housekeeper and all the rest of it. It’s so pretentious you pretending you’ve lived any other way, that this is your lifestyle, that this is how you do things.” Spence says.
“I am so grateful to all you and your family did for me during high school. Your way of life was never mine but I did my best to fit in for you. I love living up here. I love being part of this community. I love the outdoors. I know it’s a change and I know I’m different up here. I’m not asking you to change but I am asking you to make an effort for me while we’re here.” Andy says firmly.
“I just feel awkward and lame. I can’t do all the things you and Gervais are doing.” Spence says.
“Right and when did I ever bake bread before this summer?” Andy laughs.
“Ugh I’ve been such a whiney bitch. I’m sorry. Come on show me what to do.” Spence says.
“I bet Gervais would appreciate the help with the outdoor chores. He’s been putting off chopping wood for days.” Andy says.
“That sounds like something I’d be far better at than you two. I love you and I am so proud of you. You’re really going places.” Spence says and kisses Andy before going outside.
Andy smiles to himself and gets back to the task at hand. He can’t quite believe he is here alone in the kitchen baking. The niggles he’s had all year about his future with Spence have resurfaced strongly and he wishes Blue was here to talk to.
Andy immediately feels guilty. He’s pushed all thoughts of Blue out of his head. Spence has been pleased that he has been spending less time with Blue and is happy that Blue isn’t here interrupting their time together.
Andy’s avoiding Katelyn as he feels guilty about Blue, the same reason he’s dodged Clara until today.
Still Robin has said they’re having an amazing time at home and he’s happy Blue has had some relaxing time with Robin’s family before diving into dealing with everything.
For a second Andy relaxes, everything has worked out. He goes to his room and calls Blue.
“Hey Andy.” Blue says quietly.
“I miss you.” Andy says.
“I’ve missed you too.” Blue says with a small smile.
“It was my fault you got left behind. Deke told me he had to wait for his bro to finish and collect him I honestly thought he meant his brothers were driving down to get him so made him come with us.” Andy says.
“How did you think I was getting back?” Blue asks.
“l didn’t think about it at all. I totally forgot you.” Andy admits.
“So what is going wrong now?” Blue asks.
“Don’t be like that.” Andy says.
“You don’t speak to me for near on a month and then call me out the blue. You obviously need to talk.” Blue says.
“Sorry I’ll go.” Andy says feeling awful and Blue cuts the connection without taking the bait.
“That was abrupt.” Robin says.
“What am I supposed to do? He admitted not giving a shit about me getting home. At least Gervais called and checked I was okay. That’s the first time Andy’s spoken to me since I blew up and he has never apologized for his part. Why should I be the one to make the effort?” Blue asks frustrated.
“Hey, don’t take it out on me.” Robin says.
“I’m asking for help.” Blue says sadly.
“I can’t help fix you two, you have to do it yourself.” Robin says.
“I don’t feel like I want to. I feel like you are the only two way friendship I have.” Blue says.
“And Bea.” Robin says.
“Yes and Bea. Do you think my bio dad will be there when we collect her?” Blue asks.
“I don’t know. Do you want him to be?” Robin asks gently, Blue so rarely mentions his dad that Robin knows he must have been thinking about it a lot.
“Not really. I’m not ready. I need to talk to momma first.” Blue says.
Robin steps in and hugs his friend tightly. The last few days Blue has been sinking deeper into himself and Robin has been worried. That he’s ready to open up, even a tiny bit is a huge relief.
“You need to forget about Andy and Gervais and concentrate on your own issues.” Robin says.
“I do. I have put it off and off.” Blue says.
“George’s fault. He kicked off when it came out and made you focus on him.” Robin says.
“Momma too, making Cheryl deal with me and not doing it herself.” Blue says.
“I can’t believe she still hasn’t spoken to you about it.” Robin says.
“It’ll be better in person.” Blue says.
“I’ll help keep Bea occupied so you can talk.” Robin says.
“Are you going to end it with her?” Blue asks.
“Not until after. Is that okay?” Robin asks.
“Yeah. It’s not like my crazy crush has returned, I’m not mad jealous or anything.” Blue says.
“Just mad at me for treating her badly.” Robin says.
“I wish I could say it was a mad moment but we both knew what we were doing and the impact.” Blue says.
“Maybe I wanted a get out.” Robin admits.
“Maybe I wanted someone I could talk to without censoring myself when it comes to my family.” Blue admits.
“Not the best solution.” Robin says.
“I should have just talked to you. I was so excited for you both and I didn’t want to be selfish but the last few weeks I’ve been feeling like its my turn.” Blue says.
“Good. Finally I should say.” Robin says.
“I still don’t think I could have said hey would you mind not dating my sister, even though you asked.” Blue says.
“I totally get it. I couldn’t stop anyone dating my sisters but I’d want to ask and you’re not putting Bea off limits because you’re being over protective. You’re asking me to put you first and I’m saying okay. I like Bea but she’s not the one or anything else. We have fun.” Robin says.
“Thank-you. I’ve done too much sitting back hoping people will make the choices I want them to.” Blue says.
“You could have asked Gervais to dump Chris when we first found out.” Robin says.
“I couldn’t. He didn’t want me and I thought he could be happy with Chris. They’ve been together longer than we were.” Blue says sadly.
“You don’t want Gervais back though.” Robin says.
“You know I do. I won’t got there. Not for now, maybe not ever, I’m not that masochistic. I’d never, ever ask him to leave Chris. I am surprised they stayed together after Chris tried to expose me as a jerk.” Blue says.
“They haven’t seen a lot of each other over exams and Gervais is at your house right now.” Robin says.
“Maybe he left me behind on purpose.” Blue says.
“I am certain he didn’t. He does care about you.” Robin says.
“I know. Do you think its too much pressure for the three of us to live together?” Blue asks.
“I think the pressure will be off. Look how much fun we had getting the party together.” Robin says.
“Gervais had a bad panic and we left the cleaning up to the rest of you.” Blue says.
“Right and that was okay. The others should have cleaned up. At least we know the three of us don’t make much mess. We’ll cook and eat together. I can share pizza with Gervais and you two will eat take out from Cheryl when I have a burger. We all like to study, no one will be hassled to join in with something we don’t want when we’re working. Gervais and I can game together. We can all talk. You two will be doing your yoga. We can have Ocean over to give Cheryl a break.” Robin says.
“I worry about being around Gervais. We’ll end up in bed and he’ll hurt me again.” Blue says.
“We can have a no sex policy for the three of us. No touching fucking or oral between any or all of us.” Robin says.
“House rules months in advance.” Blue laughs.
“Look its not too late if you don’t want to.” Robin says.
“I do feel like I can’t say no.” Blue says.
“I really want to live out. I want to live with you.” Robin says.
“Same. But it’s not fair for Gervais to have to live with Andy and Spence and our Moms will not forgive us if we don’t let him live with us. I don’t get to say no unless I want to live in the dorms.” Blue says.
“We can get a dorm like John is in if you feel that strongly.” Robin says.
“But we’d be back to a microwave and mini fridge.” Blue says.
“I can live with that. You’re literally deciding between a kitchen and Gervais.” Robin laughs.
“You’ll stop me from getting with him?” Blue asks.
“If I have to remove the bedroom doors.” Robin laughs.
“Have you heard from George?” Blue asks shifting the subject to his other ex.
“Yes just a few texts asking about our project. He’s done some work over break. I think he wants to include his friends in it but from your descriptions that sounds a bad idea.” Robin says.
“Yeah only let him bring in those guys if you’re okay with being pushed out.” Blue says.
“Which I am not. You’re okay with me working with him?” Robin asks.
“Of course. I wish I had never got with him because he was a nice friend and now I hate him.” Blue says.
“Good. Sometimes I wish you hated Gervais too.” Robin says.
“Me too but I don’t. He hurt me so much and still is but I can’t let him out of my heart, not completely.” Blue says.
“And living with him means you maybe never will.” Robin says and Blue sighs.