“You need to let go of the idea that you’ve been replaced. No you are not my first priority and it is likely you never will be again. The others need me more. Will likely always need me more.” Clara says.
“I know I am not a priority to you. Here’s the thing, Katelyn has Andy and Roe, Chris and Bea had a huge family until you encouraged that lawsuit and they still have each other. I have no family but you, because you didn’t want me to have anyone but you.
You chose to keep me away from my blood relations to keep full control of me, whether that was with good or bad intentions it doesn’t matter. You did it and you can’t undo it.
I am done being told I don’t count and I am done being told I am not a priority. I have made a life without you and I am better off for it.
I don’t know why you decided to come here. You’ve shown for sure it is not to make up or rebuild our relationship. I am your son. That didn’t expire when I turned 18.” Blue says breaking every heart around the table, including his own. Unable to take the tension he gets up and goes outside, he needs air.
“What do you want from her?” Abby asks stepping outside.
“Nothing, Not now.” Blue says.
“Are you sure? It’s not easy being alone.” Abby says.
“I’m not alone. I have you guys and my friends from school and Will. I have Will now.” Blue says.
“Look all of this is a shock to me and I’m still processing everything and I’m not prepared to judge either of you. I will always be on your side Blue, we all are. But I think being on your side means fixing what has gone wrong and not throwing it away. Your momma can stay in one of my apartments for a few days and I’ll mediate between you.” Abby says.
“She’ll stay here. I’ve said my piece and it isn’t news to her that I feel this way. This isn’t the first time we’ve had this fight.” Blue says.
“Back in my day it was usual if a girl of the family fell pregnant young for her mother to raise the child as her own. Sometimes the child knew from a young age and sometimes they found out later. I don’t know any stories that ended well for those who found out later.” Abby says.
“I know momma isn’t all bad and I know she does a whole lot of good for a lot of people and she raised me right. I am a good man and that is down to her and I lover for it and I appreciate all she did. I know it wasn’t easy for her. I know she gave up the life she wanted to keep me safe. I know all of that and I know I can’t ask for more. But I can’t push my feelings away. I do feel rejected, unwanted and it does affect all aspects of my life. I would love to fix things, to have a relationship with her but I’m too selfish to be her son.” Blue tries to articulate how he feels.
“I know it’s hard. Forget it all for today. I’ll see you both for lunch tomorrow.” Abby says. Blue nods and heads back indoors.
“Sorry for the drama. Was the food okay?” Blue asks.
“He still has no idea.” Heidi says shaking her head.
“I’ve signed up for some classes. I start on Wednesday. We have to take our best dish with us. I thought the lemon cheesecake I did recently. What do you guys think?” Blue asks.
“I think you’re wasting your money. I like the lemon one but I think the chocolate and cherry is your best.” Mike says.
“We’ll never agree which is best. I like the vanilla with caramel best.” Abby says.
“The lemon is good. Not too flashy but the chocolate cherry is probably your true signature.” Heidi says.
“I always liked the sour cherry best. But chocolate cherry sounds good if you don’t have access to sour cherries.” Clara says.
“Did you teach him how to make it?” Gladys asks curious that the pair have sat back at the table together.
“No, he learnt and refined the recipe himself. Has he ever made you his goat cheese cookies? I taught him how to make those but he has refined the recipe far beyond my starting point.” Clara says.
“I love the banana caramel cookie. It’s too sweet for Gladys but I have a sweet tooth and the secret mushy center makes me smile every time. Those cookies made me determined that Blue should live in this house.” Abby says with a smile.
“It is a beautiful house. Did you live here?” Clara asks.
“No it was my sisters.” Abby says and tells the story of how she inherited it ahead of her nieces and nephews.
“Making Abby get a letter from her doctor before buying was the sort of move I’d make. We’re not so different deep down.” Clara says and Blue nods knowing it is true and being all the more determined to never treat anyone as Clara has him.
“Is your property similar?” Gladys asks.
“The house is smaller and I don’t have such a beautiful walled garden. But we have a fair bit of land for produce and chickens and a couple of fields where I keep the goats, a milking shed and some garages. I have more land but we don’t really count that as part of the property.” Clara says.
“Like Abby momma owns most the town. Though it is a lot, lot smaller than here and we have no big city close by.” Blue grins.
“So it must have been a huge adjustment when you went to college.” Heidi says.
“Yeah. My friends couldn’t believe I’d never had fast food and didn’t like pizza. I didn’t have a cell phone had no idea about TV shows they watched or the music they liked. I mean I had internet and TV but I didn’t use them much. I preferred to be outdoors.” Blue says.
“My boys had some of the same issues. Not with the food, though Tad did give up meat quickly. But they had never gone in for pop culture much and loved being outdoors.” Mike says.
“Blue’s biggest culture shock was the powdered egg his dining hall used. He could not believe it.” Clara says with a grin.
“It was so gross. But the pancakes were fine. I found Cheryl’s place not too long after and was saved from tofu burgers and veggie lasagne every night.” Blue grins.
“You make a great veggie lasagne. I love how it oozes the cheese.” Abby smiles.
“Me too, we always fight over the last serving.” Gladys says.
“You only have to ask and I’ll bring more by.” Blue says.
“Ah we love all the food you make us. Your boy comes to our place and cooks up a storm, filling the freezer so we only have to pop things in the microwave. Which we can both manage even when our arthritis is playing up.” Abby says.
“Got to keep my favourite ladies fed.” Blue grins.
“And he does a yoga class for you?” Clara asks, happy her son is doing his part in the community, even without a financial incentive from her.
“Oh yes every Thursday. He’s taking a few private clients now too. All say great things.” Gladys says.
“I wanted to do more classes but it just didn’t work out.” Blue sighs.
“You’ve too much on as it is.” Mike says.
Blue gets up and serves up dessert. A simple lemon tart he made that morning and some ice cream.
“Coffee?” Blue asks and they all nod.
“This is a new one. You should have it in the bakery Heidi.” Mike says and Blue cuts him a second slice.
“I think he keeps some hidden from me.” Heidi says.
“You should see what Heidi can make. She’s is amazing with chocolate. The ice-cream parlor is not going to be what you expect at all.” Blue grins.
“As long as you have a root beer float for me I’m happy.” Gladys says.
“Momma has suggested she get the soup business started.” Blue says.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea given the state of your relationship.” Abby says firmly.
“Wait. Blue said you’ve done this before with baby food. Separating family from business for a minute I would appreciate a crash course in getting started.” Mike says.
“I’d be happy to do that Mike, though my knowledge is out of date. Whatever you all think of me, I do love Blue very much and I am very proud of all that he has done here. This business is a way I can support him and give back to the community that has taken him in. A chance to try and fix things. Our best times were when we had a project together.” Clara says and Blue nods.
“We need to come up with our restaurant name first. Spence suggested we hung everything together. Even if the food lines come first it would be as if they were lines from the restaurant.” Blue says.
“That sounds right. It would save arguments from my crowd, as long as each farm is associated with a particular variety.” Mike says.
“Yes of course, just like the ice-cream. Though I don’t know if Arnold will go for our name for the brand.” Blue says.
“He’ll be fine with it. As long as the farm is on the label.” Heidi says and again Blue wonders just how close Heidi and Arnold are and if his wife knows.
“Have you any thoughts on names?” Gladys asks.
“Not really. I always thought when I found the building the name would come. Blue is right though, we need to tie it all together.” Heidi says.
“If it’s still okay I’ll be coming to the bakery with Blue tomorrow. We can talk a little then.” Clara says.
“And you’re having lunch with me. I know Blue is calmer now he’s said his piece but this pretending he hasn’t said it and that everything is okay just isn’t healthy.” Abby says.
“I’m always better after being heard. And momma heard me today.” Blue says.
“We’re going to break you out of this cycle.” Gladys says looking at Blue and trying to work out how Clara could reject him. Gladys had a hard enough time letting Blue move on from her home after a few months. She cannot imagine pushing him away.
“I hope you will all have my back if anyone asks questions about me over the next few days.” Blue says.
“Gladys will get the word out. Should we pretend you don’t exist?” Abby asks.
“No, no one needs to lie but no one needs to give any information either.” Blue says.
“Right and please not let on where we live.” Clara says.
“No one would do that. We can all be vague.” Mike says not convinced there will be any issue.
“Sorry dinner was so full of drama.” Blue says.
“Ahh we all survived when Tad and Larry were full of dramatics. We’ll survive this.” Mike says.
“See you tomorrow.” Abby says.
“You’ve really built quite the family. Mike is quite the father you’ve chosen.” Clara says once they leave.
“Two grandmothers and a dad, I’ve been lucky here and Heidi is a good business partner, and friend.” Blue says.
“Yes. I am a lot less worried about you now I see how much they care.” Clara says.
“Too late to worry about me now. You’ve made it clear you don’t give a shit when I’m in pain.” Blue says.
“Can we drop this?” Clara asks.
“I’m going to talk to Will.” Blue says and goes to his room.
“You look angry.” Will says.
“I am. She bugs the hell out of me. But dammit I want to work on the project with her.” Blue huffs.
“Then do it. Would you be able to come on Tuesday? I know I said I didn’t need you here but I do. I’d like you to be here. Just for the day, I know you have your class.” Will says.
“I’ll be there. Oh baby of course I’ll be there.” Blue says.
They talk a little while more before Will has to go back to his studying.
“I have to go to be with Will on Tuesday, we should have never got rid of the car.” Blue says.
“It’s no hardship for me to be here for a couple of days. I can look after the chickens and enjoy your beautiful garden. Some peace and time to think would be good for me.” Clara says.
“It’ll only be one day, I have my class Wednesday and thank-you.” Blue says.
The next morning they awake early and go to the bakery. Clara is impressed with the way Heidi and Blue work separately and yet coordinated. Clara steps in and helps Oliver with the prep and Heidi appreciates the extra pair of hands.
Blue is putting all thoughts of his mother out of his head and concentrates on the jobs at hand. He’s surprised when lunchtime rolls around and Abby arrives to see them.
Blue walks into the seating area and it falls silent. Ella and Nick burst through the door and Ella throws herself on Blue.
“We don’t believe a word of it.” Ella says.
“Ella drives me nuts but I would never do that to her. I don’t understand how they could.” Nick says.
“No one believes it Blue, we all know who you are. You’d never steal from anyone, especially not your mother.” A bakery customer says.
Blue looks around for his mother, she’s on her cell in the corner. He sorts out food for himself and Abby and takes it over.
“Feels like a banana cookie day.” Blue says sitting down.
“Has there been a lot of those dramatics?” Abby asks.
“I’ve been out back. Have you read it?” Blue asks.
“No, I know your side the story and I know you wouldn’t dare lie to me. I am sure your siblings see things differently and making you the villain is required to sell magazines.” Abby says.
“Should I just take it? Should I tell my side to clear my name or will that just prolong the interest?” Blue asks.
“Do what you feel is right. You’ll always have the ability to work for yourself. You don’t need to worry about an employer looking you up.” Abby says.
“But maybe it will impact the parents who book parties at the ice-cream parlor.” Blue says.
“Not enough to worry. And you’re not the face of that business.” Abby says.
“I’m happy to have a backseat in everything.” Blue says.
Clara grabs a coffee and joins them.
“That your lawyer?” Abby asks.
“Yes, a few bits they were careless on. Implying Blue is a thief he doesn’t think they have made it clear enough it is just opinion. The rest are minor issues but he’ll be kicking up a stink. Make it harder for the next one.” Clara says.
“So what is your plan, Abby?” Blue asks.
“I can see two people who have lost their way and need to fix it before they lose each other for good. I can see just how much you have in common. How can we get you two to talk and mend your ways?” Abby asks.
“We can’t. Momma promised she’d stop leaving me out when she bought me the houses but she didn’t keep to it for five minutes. We can’t have a mother son relationship; I can’t cope with her conditional love or her need for control.” Blue explains.
“I can’t give Blue the time and attention he craves and I can’t support him when he is making bad choices. We are the way we are and neither of us is willing to change. Do I miss Blue? Of course I do and I am very upset that he feels so hostile towards me. He doesn’t see that his love is just as conditional as mine.” Clara says.
“Why did you come here? If it wasn’t to repair your relationship why bother? Why won’t you make one compromise, one step towards Blue? Why is it all on him to fall in line?” Abby asks frustrated.
“Blue is free to be who he wants to be, to love who he loves, to do as he wishes. As his mother I will comment when he makes a mistake, I will try and stop him going down the wrong path. Of course I want to try and minimize his failures and heartbreaks.” Clara says.
“Bullshit.” Abby says.
“Can you come up with some other form of disapproval than a blanket withdrawal of love, time and money? I don’t need any more money, so that’s no longer an issue. Why can’t we talk weekly regardless of whether you approve of my boyfriend, job, classes I take or hobbies?” Blue asks quietly. He has been desperate for his mother’s approval for so long and for all his protests he does want things to work out.
“That sounds like a reasonable start. He’s not asking for the world. If you can’t find 5 minutes a week to talk to your son you are no kind of mother at all.” Abby says.
“You’re as dramatic as he is.” Clara says and walks out.