Blue concentrates on Will as he drives towards the hospital. He arrives a couple of minutes ahead of Will who arrives with one of his college coaches. Will grabs Blue’s hand and doesn’t let go all through the meeting with the doctor and getting ready.
“See you after baby.” Blue says and kisses Will’s cheek.
“Love you my baby Blue.” Will says groggily.
“You’ve give him a renewed focus.” The coach says.
“It’s so scary but the right thing for him.” Blue says.
“Yes, it’s hard to lose him from the team but we were lucky to keep him for the first half the season.” The coach says.
“Will you come back later?” Blue asks.
“Yes, are you waiting here?” The coach asks.
“No, I think I’m going to go for a run, keep my mind off it.” Blue says.
“Take my number and call if there is any news.” The coach says.
Blue runs for a while. Feels good to get the cold air into his lungs. When he feels like his legs are going to fall off he heads back and then worries that he’s all stinky and needs to shower. He looks up the cheapest gym in the area, buys a one day pass and goes in. He looks at the equipment wondering about working out his upper body and then changes his mind heads to the showers and back to the hospital.
Will isn’t out yet so he heads to the canteen and gets a coffee and some fruit. He contemplates calling a friend when he notices someone staring at him. Someone with that magazine on his table.
Blue lowers his head and tries to concentrate on playing a game.
“Are you this guy or the scummy twin?” The woman asks, standing over his table.
“Neither.” Blue says.
“What, there were four of you not three? Mystery older brother? You look exactly like him.” The woman insists.
“We all have a double out there.” Blue says and keeps his head down. The woman does not take the hint and sits down.
“Is it true you defrauded your mother and ran off with the cash?” The woman asks.
“Are you a journalist? Are you recording this?” Blue asks feeling paranoid. How can she think it is appropriate to approach someone in a hospital?
“No, I’m just visiting my mother. I’m curious, it doesn’t quite add up.” She says.
“What the guy who would sue his parents wouldn’t call the police on his brother. Blue says echoing Claud’s words.
“Exactly. I mean it’s a sad story but they don’t need to make you out to be the bad guy. You had them thrust into your life as an adult and were expected to suddenly share your mom.” The woman says.
Blue had no idea that strangers would read between the lines and come out on his side. Have Bea and Chris totally misjudged things?
“I have to go.” Blue says before he says too much. He hasn’t confirmed anything just added a little speculation.
Will is just out and still under. Blue is allowed to sit by his bed and wait. Blue slips his hand into Will’s hoping everything is alright. His knee looks enormous and scary, it’s bandaged and in a complex looking brace.
Blue sits just watching his man sleep and even though he is scared Blue feels peaceful with Will. Blue texts the coach and his friends to let them know Will is out. Slowly he comes round and gives Blue a big grin and squeezes his hand.
They hang out as much as they can between Will’s checks. Will loves that Blue was there when he woke up. Not just there, actively with him, holding his hand as if he’s never been gone. Will feels utterly changed by Blue and all the feelings he has for him, not just the intensity of sexual attraction he felt when they first met, though that fire is still just as bright but underneath that he feels secure and calm with Blue and has a deep pride that he never felt before, in himself and in Blue.
Will wants to make Blue happy, aches to do so. He’s never been happier himself. Flopping in to bed at night and getting to see Blue’s face, talking about their day and sharing their worries id amazing to Will. He’s never had such a clear focused mind.
“Thanks for being here. I feel better already.” Will croaks, his throat dry.
“I can’t believe I contemplated not being here.” Blue says, stroking Will’s forehead and then getting him a drink.
The doctor comes round and Blue asks a lot of questions about what Will can and can’t do when he gets out.
“You can’t leave me alone.” Will jokes when they’re alone again.
“I know you can’t resist me.” Blue grins back.
“I can’t.” Will grins kissing Blue’s fingers. Blue kisses Will gently and they carry on chatting about anything but Will’s knee or Blue’s family.
“I’ll be back on Friday. Before if you need me, just call.” Blue says as the nurses try to usher him out.
“I will.” Will grins. He’d love Blue to be around all the time but just a little contact is enough to keep him going until next time. Will is far more secure in the relationship than Blue and he will do all he can to keep Blue and make him feel just as secure. Will smiles to himself at his plan. He can’t wait to tell Blue when it is all confirmed.
One of the nurses is coming of shift and gets into the elevator with Blue.
“I don’t believe that magazine. You’re just not the type. You’ve been polite to everyone all day and Will is clearly crazy about you. I don’t think someone like him could risk being with the guy in the magazine.” The nurse says.
“Thank-you. You know you’re the second person who doesn’t know me who has offered support. Makes me feel pretty amazing, that people can see through those lies.” Blue says.
“You take care and we’ll take care of your Will.” The nurse says with a smile.
Blue drives home feeling happy. Will is okay and hopefully will heal up fast. People are not believing Bea and Chris. Well some will but the book deal must be on the rocks if public opinion turns. Then again they are a beautiful pair and could probably sell a lot based on the cover alone, Blue muses.
When he gets home Clara is sat at the kitchen table with Mike, Arnold, Abby and Gladys.
“Isn’t it late for you guys to be up?” Blue asks.
“How is Will? Did he come through okay?” Gladys asks.
“Yes, he’s doing well. He starts rehabbing straight away. Two people randomly told me they didn’t believe the magazine today, someone in the hospital canteen and one of Will’s nurses. It felt good.” Blue says.
“Things have moved on.” Clara says.
A man Blue doesn’t know comes in from the bathroom.
“Blue? I’m Randolph, Arnold’s brother in law. Your mother’s lawyer has been in touch, and I thought we needed to move more quickly.” Randolph says.
“Okay. What do you need? And how much will it cost?” Blue asks.
Randolph talks through the options. Gladys and Abby listen intently and both give Blue advice. Mike sits stone faced. He is angry about the article and shocked that it could assassinate Blue’s character so blatantly.
“Are you certain about this?” Randolph asks.
“Yes. It’s going for the publishers and not my siblings. I need that to be clear.” Blue says.
“I’ll be in touch.” Randolph says and leaves.
“I’m sorry for pushing it Blue but I ran into your mother earlier and we were both concerned that copycat pieces are turning up and we wanted to contain things.” Arnold says.
“It’s okay. We have to think of the business.” Blue says.
“We have to think of you.” Gladys says.
“I’m surprised you two are in the same room as momma.” Blue says.
“We all want the same thing Blue.” Clara says.
“She’s right. We’ve put aside our differences for now.” Abby says.
“What are you three plotting?” Blue asks suspiciously.
“Abby owns what used to be a pickling plant and the four of us went to see if it could be converted
for soup production.” Mike says.
“When did production end?” Blue asks amazed at what Abby comes up with.
“A year ago. I’d forgotten it until I had the bill through for security.” Abby says.
“How many buildings and businesses do you own? I know your mind is sound.” Blue asks.
“Oh you know. It ran itself my husband had a great team in there and I was rarely needed. It was a big shock to me when they closed. I wished they’d given me more notice, I might have been able to intervene.” Abby shrugs.
“Was it any good?” Blue asks.
“We think so. Wilson is going to put us in contact with some guys who do industrial works.” Mike says.
“Will you need milk for the soups? How do I get in on it?” Arnold asks.
“We’ll need cream and milk yes. You will be our preferred supplier of course.” Blue says.
“So you are in?” Mike asks.
“I’m not having momma take it away from me. But isn’t a factory too big a starting point?” Blue asks with a smile.
“We’re looking into not just packaging your soups but keeping some of the canning lines and seeing if we can do other things too. Nut butters and the like. We see it as being a community resource for small lines.” Mike says.
“We want to make it adaptable.” Gladys says.
“I see. Sounds good. Helpful for the farmers market.” Blue says.
“Right, we’re tired of making the smallest amount on our products. We are all trying to diversify and reach new markets. We all want a bigger slice of the pie.” Arnold says.
“I’m happy with my lot, I have a wide customer base but my boys want more. And I want more for my boys.” Mike says.
Blue lets out an almighty yawn. He is exhausted.
“Okay we all should be off.” Abby smiles looking her age for a second.
“We should keep a pickle line. We need to come up with something fresh but we should have a line, if someone still grows them.” Blue says trying to stay awake.
“I stopped when the plant closed, I was never their main supplier but I sold a fair amount. Sounds like a project for Tad.” Mike says and Blue nods and wishes them all goodnight.
“We’ll talk tomorrow.” Clara says and ruffles Blue’s hair, its getting long again. He hasn’t gone in for much in the way of grooming since leaving school, other than keeping his scruff in check.
“You’re still here. That means a lot to me. Whatever happens you didn’t take the easy way out.” Blue says.
“No our urge to run didn’t take over.” Clara smiles and Blue laughs, he has to admit that is a bad trait he possesses.
Blue sleeps soundly. He decides to enjoy a relaxed morning in the garden. Clara come out to join him and tells him of the day before and the plans.
“It all feels too ambitious for the experience, just like with the ice-cream.” Blue says.
“I agree but if it comes off it will be great. You are in a great place, the farms here are established and mostly profitable but they are all aware a drought or a couple of bad harvests and they’re under. The soup board gave them all a spark to do more. Some already do, some have tried and retreated back to what they do best.” Clara says.
“I know. You’ve been here 5 minutes momma.” Blue grins and Clara laughs, knowing how obsessive she gets.
“I’m excited, I’d love to find a way to do the same at home. Anyway I haven’t just been running around trying to start businesses I have spent time thinking and reflecting on our situation. I’ve also had Mike, Gladys and Abby in my ear for half the day, followed by Arnold all singing your praises and telling me I’m mad to treat you so harshly, that I need to let go because you are flying and they are all here to stop you falling.” Clara says.
“I love those 4 and Heidi. They have been family to me. Having Gervais, Robin, Andy and Spence back in my life has helped too. Letting them back in slowly and on my terms has really worked. Don’t worry I’m not becoming as controlling as you.” Blue grins.
The awful arguments have cleared the air between them and now Blue is no longer desperate to please his mother, his old cheek and humor is back. Clara looks at Blue and again sees him as the young boy he was, the grin on his face is exactly as it was when he was 8 and it melts her heart.
“I think having this project together, where we are equals will mend us. I need to see you as Blue, this wonderful young man who is so strong, and smart and caring. Not as my wayward son, who never actually went off the rails. I don’t know what my future is with your siblings. I worry we’re doing the wrong thing, that we should let it all go and let them make their fortune. I would have if it was at my and not your expense.” Clara says.
“People can see the gap in the story and are questioning it already. Andy sent me a bunch of links to sites where people are pulling them apart. I don’t want that for them, not exactly. I still hold on to a little hope that one day they’ll accept me and we can be friends. Chris and I got close to that before the summer. But it didn’t stick.” Blue says sadly.
“I think giving yourself real space from them is a good thing.” Clara says.
“Will they live with you for the summer, even after this?” Blue asks.
“They always have a home with me.” Clara says and Blue nods trying to push the jealous thoughts out of his head. He has his own home now, a beautiful home that no one can make him leave.
“Have Paul and Lana reared their heads over this? I’d bet they will sell their side.” Blue says.
“I expect they will.” Clara says.
“I best get started on that cheesecake for tonight. I’m glad you’re making an effort with me. I am trying to change my reactions and let the jealousy go. I mean, I have a way better life than my siblings do.” Blue says.
“You do. We need to talk money and legalities before I leave. I know you’re not hurting for money and I know you’re going to be making enough to get by. But I want you to know that the money is there for you to finish school whenever you are ready. That I’ve a wedding fund for you. Don’t look like that I know it’s early days with Will but I also know you want a husband in your house. I have trusts for future grandchildren and their education.” Clara starts.
“You can’t buy me, or my future kids. I’m not Chris. Thank you for the offer for school, I am not going back to college full time but plan to take a class or two at a time locally or by correspondence. If you’re wanting to pay, without strings that would be helpful. When I get married it will be simple and I will provide for my kids. I love you momma and I want your time, not your cash. Not masses, just a little. No more stings. I am living my life my way. Yes you raised me to know that I have to give back, I will always do that. But you can’t control my classes or my hobbies or my choice of car, boyfriend or career. I am doing a great job of living my life. I have good instincts and when I believe in myself and listen to myself I make great choices. You either back me or fuck off. If I ask for advice be honest but if I don’t…” Blue ends and gives his momma big grin.
“I hear it. I want no more talk of being replaced or pushed out. That is my only condition. You are yourself again here. You’re right you need to live your life and I need to let go.” Clara says.
“And not try and control Katelyn instead.” Blue says.
“No, Roe would never let me.” Clara laughs.
Feeling good Blue works on his cheesecake ready for class. He’s excited and motivated to learn more techniques and discover new foods. He’s scared of cooking meat but knows he has to learn sometime, even if he never eats it.
He and Clara spend some time making up some sauces together and it feels a little like old times. Blue knows things will never be the same but he is hopeful something new will work. He knows his momma’s excuses are not exactly water tight. For some reason this time he is able to let it go. He doesn’t need her but he would like her in his life.
Blue packs up the cheesecake, it looks incredible, dark and rich with flashes of crimson. Smells good too he thinks.
Blue is nervous going in to the class. There are a mix of people there, about half are clutching containers and half haven’t bothered. Must be hard if they come straight from work Blue thinks, glad he took the day off.
The teacher reminds him of a fatter version of Cheryl, an earth mother type. Blue feels instantly at home.
They are asked to leave their dishes on the front bench and those who don’t have one are reassured it doesn’t matter. This is an informal intro week and the teacher hope’s they’ll all get to know each other and find out their food passions.
The all taste the dishes, Blue finds he isn’t the only veggie in class.
“Well we have a variety of skills here. Everything tasted good and we only had one person trying to pass off shop bought as their own.” The teacher says and a titter goes round.
“I knew it, that cheesecake is from the bakery over in small town.” One of the class says and Blue furrows his brow.
“Who brought the cheesecake in?” The teacher asks and Blue raises his hand.
“He’s that one who stole from his mom. I knew he was no good.” One of the class says and Blue wants to die.
“He made it. He makes all the cheesecakes for the bakery. Pies too. I queued for 2 hours for that cheesecake. My mom served his apple pie at Christmas and it was pure sex.” A scruffy guy at the back of the class pipes up.
Blue looks round and smiles widely.
“So why is he in the class if he’s a professional?” Another asks.
The teacher looks at Blue worried that she’s made a huge mistake.
“Lets move on. Tell me about your favorite food and what you dream you could make.” The teacher says and the class starts talking. Blue is kind of scared to even open his mouth but he enjoys hearing from the others. This is exactly the sort of class he wanted, a community class where he can learn skills and he hopes he’s allowed to stay.
As the class ends he’s asked to wait.
“I’m sorry for trying to humiliate you. It isn’t my usual style. We usually laugh about the shop bought dish, there is always one. Do you really supply the bakery?” The teacher asks.
“I do make their cheesecakes and soups and some cakes and cookies.” Blue says.
“This isn’t the class for you.” The teacher says.
“I’m 20, I have no formal training. I want to learn skills from scratch. I don’t eat meat and so I don’t want to be in a more chef like class where I’d have to cook offal.” Blue says.
“You won’t get anything out of this, your skill level is beyond where we go. Also you’ll intimidate the others, some of whom are just getting started.” The teacher says and Blue’s heart sinks.
“So you single me out to humiliate me and then throw me out the class, which I had to pay for in advance. I don’t get it. I was so excited to learn some skills and new dishes.” Blue says and leaves bewildered.