“I owe you an apology boy. I thought you were being overly dramatic yesterday. She sat here and mentioned that you have been slandered in the article but didn’t ask how you felt at all. Then she acts like you are being unreasonable to want a relationship with her. I do not understand what is going on. Unless you have some further secret that has hurt her deeply.” Abby says.
“No, other than moving here without telling her. She hates that I look like my bio dad. She hates me drawing. She blames me whenever I fall out with my friends, tells them I am difficult to get on with and she doesn’t blame them. She just doesn’t like me and there is nothing I can do. I did, no I do want to fix things, I have no other family. No one in my life has knew me before I started college.” Blue says.
“No school friends?” Abby asks surprised.
“One guy from the class below me came to college with me but we’re not in touch now.” Blue says.
“Do you believe she is just here for the article?” Abby asks.
“No. But I won’t ask her to leave again. I’ll stop forcing things and wait.” Blue says.
“Be careful.” Abby says and goes to get on with her day.
Blue goes back to the kitchen to carry on with making soup for the rest of the week. He has no idea if Clara will come back, even if she can work out the way to the house she hasn’t got a key. He has no idea if he should be mounting his own legal action against the twins.
Arnold comes in a little while later to check up on Blue.
“I read it. Ella and Nick read that shit religiously. It is laughably untrue and if you need a lawyer I know a guy. My wife’s brother is shit hot and I’d make sure you paid family rates. If you stole from your mother and siblings they’d have set the police on you. Its clear they don’t give a fig for you, they’d have felt no guilt reporting a theft given they sued their own parents.” Arnold says.
“I’ve not read it. I don’t want to.” Blue says.
“I’ll set up a meeting in a few days. Clear you head and then talk it through with him.” Arnold says.
“Okay. Will has his first surgery tomorrow so I’m going there. Sorry I’ve not been around so much.” Blue says.
“Oh you’ve done enough. You’ll ramp up production nearer opening. You don’t need to be in every day. Go be with your boyfriend. Take all the time you need.” Arnold says graciously.
“Thanks so much. I doubt I’d be much use this week with my momma around and this article and Will being in hospital.” Blue sighs.
“Take the week. Although you might want to hide out and work on a new flavor by the end of the week.” Arnold says.
“Yeah, if you hear something in the night it’s just me, cooking out my anger.” Blue says and Arnold laughs.
Blue turns back to the soups but he feels in a sweet mood. He pops his head through to ask Heidi about cookies and sees her stroking Arnold’s cheek. Blue steps back into the kitchen, checks the pantry and gets baking a chocolate and orange cake. He needs to make something over the top.
Heidi comes through and see’s Blue stirring on the stove and smells the cake.
“What are you making? Is the soup done?” Heidi asks.
“Are you fucking Arnold?” Blue asks.
“It isn’t what you think.” Heidi says.
“We’re working with his kids. He’s married.” Blue says.
“I’m fucking his wife too. No one is having an affair.” Heidi says.
“What?” Blue asks laughing, glad his friend is getting some and totally understanding she wants to save herself a real relationship.
“I didn’t know she was his wife. They have a thing, they can fuck around if it’s a setup to get caught and turn it into a threesome. I didn’t know but it was hot as hell. We had fun and we continue to have a lot of fun. He looks out for me, so does she. She’s so different to him, he’s a farmer through and through and her family is from money, they don’t understand farming at all.” Heidi says.
“Is he big?” Blue asks cheekily.
“Huge, utterly enormous. She has great boobs too. I’m getting some Blue and it is for sure helping my mental health. I know it’s not forever and that either one of them could tire of me and it’ll be over.” Heidi says.
“Just be careful. I get protecting yourself. Honestly I do but don’t forget how great you are and how much you are worth. I am so relieved you’re not having an affair. I’m making chocolate cake.” Blue says then describes his plan with the cake.
“Sounds amazing.” Heidi says smiling.
“It’ll be ready for the after school crowd.” Blue says.
“Perfect.” Heidi says.
“Has momma been back?” Blue asks.
“She’s out there now. Want me to send her back?” Heidi asks.
“Not yet. Thanks Heidi. Thanks for being okay with me making a cake too. I should have asked.” Blue says.
“Hell no. You know it will sell easily and I can put a premium price on it. It’ll be a good test run for birthday cake.” Heidi says and Blue feels relieved. He wouldn’t usually worry. His mom being around has him second guessing everything.
Of course Heidi would love the cake. Of course Arnold would be okay with him going to be with Will tomorrow. Blue tries to shake himself out of it and trust himself again. He calls Arnold and asks him to set up a meeting with his brother in law on Thursday.
The cake cooled he works on putting it together and enjoys it. He loves the challenge of something new. He already knows what he would do differently next time. He knows he’s putting off seeing his momma again and is glad she hasn’t just come back.
“Is that cake done?” Heidi comes in.
“Yes. Well its just setting a little more.” Blue says.
“Claud has just come in, in a fluster. It’s his eldest kid’s Birthday and the cake he ordered to collect in the city is a disaster.” Heidi says.
“Do you have a big enough box?” Blue asks.
“I’ll go see. Do you have some of the filling he can taste?” Heidi asks.
“Sure I’ll bring some out.” Blue says and puts some filling and chocolate topping on separate spoons.
“Oh Blue, that is pure magic. And it’s chocolate cake?” Claud asks.
“It is. Orange filling. Chocolate orange covering. I can fancy it up a bit with some oranges on top, though it’s a really shiny surface as is.” Blue says.
“Can you put Happy Birthday Marie on it?” Claud asks flustered.
“I’ll do it, five minutes Claud.” Heidi says.
“I heard some shit about you today Blue. Utter rubbish I said. Claimed you were a thief and that is how you afforded Abby’s house so young. I told them that your mother was visiting and they had no idea what they were talking about.” Claud says.
“Thanks Claud. That means a lot. My siblings are not that good at telling the truth. I have no idea how this got by the magazine’s lawyers.” Blue says.
“Oh you two have outdone yourself.” Claud says as Heidi comes back with the cake in a box.
“How much do I owe you?” Claud asks.
“It’s on me, my gift to your girl. And you already gave us those parsnips.” Blue says and Heidi grins they both know if it is liked it will set them up for future orders.
“I will pay for it.” Blue says once Claud leaves.
“Like hell you will. He’ll tell everyone we make the best birthday cakes. It’s good advance publicity for the parlor.” Heidi says.
“Arrrrrgh.” Blue says.
“What?” Heidi asks.
“I just keep second guessing everything today. I’ll clean up and finish. I need to talk to momma.” Blue says.
“I’ll send one of my guys in to clean up. Just go and talk to her.” Heidi says and Blue smiles.
“Thanks. I’m sorry for being a mess.” Blue says.
“I’d have run home crying long ago if I were you.” Heidi says and they share a hug.
“Ready to go?” Blue asks Clara.
“Am I still welcome in your home?” Clara asks surprising Blue.
“Yes, for now. Anyway you promised to look after the chickens tomorrow.” Blue says.
“You’re brushing things under the carpet.” Clara says.
“Ugh can we get home before we fight again. I have a reputation here and people are being supportive but being seen fighting with you could change that.” Blue says.
“Agreed.” Clara says and they drive back in silence.
“Arnold’s brother in law is a lawyer and I’m meeting him Thursday. I know you’re already looking at it. Do you have a copy for me to read? I am not liking being called a thief.” Blue says.
“Here.” Clara says and hands Blue a magazine. He throws it on the table and lights the fire and then settles down to read it as Clara makes them some hot chocolate.
“They hate me a lot more than you. You come out lightly. The biggest lie is that they reached out to me for comment.” Blue says throwing it on the fire.
“I had a lover for many years. He was married and while I had relationships with women during that time I couldn’t give him up. He had kids and loved them too much to leave. I never asked him to. I had you but I desperately wanted a child with him. He of course didn’t want that. I am ashamed to admit I tried anyway. And twice I fell pregnant. The first time, years ago, you were about 7 and I guess that was when I let you run free, fishing and camping. I had nightmare morning sickness and miscarried at three months. Just at the time I started to believe it was happening.
I blamed myself and felt like I was being punished for giving up my children.
He was a lot more careful after that. Until a couple of years ago his wife had gone into menopause and maybe he forgot I was younger. I fell pregnant again and it fell like my last chance. When you found out about your siblings I was pregnant. I lost it soon after and I have blamed you for it.” Clara says.
“You had pushed me away long before then, though I appreciate you explaining why you didn’t come to me.” Blue says.
“It escalated at that point. It was the first time I truly could not be there for you, not due to distance but because I didn’t want to. I felt I had lost my last chance to have a baby and by a miracle I had a second chance with my kids and I had no clue how to deal with them. I couldn’t treat them like you but I couldn’t be too different and I made a total hash of it. They came to me too late. I needed to treat them as grown adults and not as damaged children that I could fix and I couldn’t.” Clara continues.
“Why not tell me about the miscarriage before? I would have understood that was why you couldn’t be there for me. I wouldn’t have pried for details. I am not like that. When we talked about this before you had other excuses. You were worried about losing me, and believe me you came very close. If it wasn’t for my friends I might have taken that step.” Blue asks.
“Let me finish and explain why I’m here.” Clara says.
“Okay.” Blue says confused.
“I never told him about the second pregnancy. I couldn’t risk losing him. Roe helped me through it. She begged me to give him up, for us to live in the open as a couple. As parents to you, Andy and Katelyn. I wouldn’t. She ended things over him and over the way I was treating you. And the way I didn’t discourage Willow even though her crush was breaking Cheryl’s heart.” Clara says.
“Did you and Willow?” Blue asks curious. He misses Willow, she was a great friend.
“No, she is not one for sharing and really I saw her as your friend. I know she and Cheryl had a great relationship but she and I will be great business partners.” Clara says.
“So what happened? You’ve added yet another reason for hating me and to be honest I don’t get why losing a baby would make you push me away, not long term. Not to the extent we are now.” Blue says.
“He died. He died a week ago and I can’t grieve. I couldn’t go to the funeral and I couldn’t accept condolences as in the grand scheme of things 15 years with me was not the 30 years he had with his wife and kids. I’m nothing, not family, nothing. I need time and space and with the magazine going out too I had to get away. I do want us to be better, but I still feel so much anger towards you. It is irrational and hateful and I am ashamed of it.” Clara says.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. You lost your babies, 2 to Paul and Lana and 2 to nature. None of that was my fault. You could have gone anywhere. Overseas, finally do the travel you wanted to do. Why come here, to see me, who you blame for everything?” Blue asks.
“I asked, begged Roe to take me back. Told her it could be on her terms. Move in together and even get married. Give Katelyn stability. She said no. She said I needed to make up with you. But it isn’t enough. I spoke to her this morning and she said that it would never work because of Bea and Chris and the way they torment you and Andy. That she couldn’t make me give up my children again but she can’t have them in her life. You and Abby caught me at a bad moment at lunchtime. Between Roe and the lawyers it was a shit day and I couldn’t manage the five minutes of civility you needed. I’m sorry.” Clara says.
“Why do you always blame me when I fall out with my friends?” Blue asks figuring his momma is on some sort of truth serum and he should take advantage.
“You never had any friends growing up, not your own age. Not really. I mean the kids at school didn’t dislike you but you didn’t spend any time with any in particular. You’re not good at being a friend, you never learned how.” Clara says.
“I’m a great friend. You are so wrong about me. You’ve spend too long projecting Paul and these miscarriages and all this other crap on to me that you have no idea who I am and how fucking awesome I am.” Blue says. All the guilt and fear and confusion falling away. He finally sees that it really is Clara’s loss if she doesn’t get him, if she doesn’t see how amazing he is. Blue knows he isn’t perfect but he also knows he’s a pretty great guy and he will always strive to be better.
Clara stares at Blue.
“I’m a great son too and if you truly, truly don’t see it then you have to promise to be gone when I get back tomorrow and never, ever contact me again.” Blue says relaxing and knowing he will survive either way.
“Flashes of it break through. Especially here. I can see this great guy Blue who everyone loves but I can’t match that up to Blue my son.” Clara says.
“Yes you can. You don’t want to. You want me to be a fuck up because that fits with your shitty treatment of me. I’m not though. I am a great guy and I am the best of your kids by far. That is in part on you. Team effort from us. I turned out great, they didn’t. That is not my fault. Nor yours, not really. They were never meant to be yours. I was, I am.” Blue says.