“Hey Blue, wait up.” The scruffy lad from class calls out.
“Thanks for standing up for me before.” Blue says.
“Want to go for a bite to eat? I’m Jett by the way.” Jett says.
“Jett really suits you. I’d love something, all those little tastes got me hungry.” Blue grins.
“Thanks. Are you a student here?” Jett asks.
“No, I dropped out and moved here.” Blue says.
“That’s cool. I know a good Thai place, its pretty dank but the food is awesome if you like it hot.” Jett says.
“Sounds perfect. Are you studying here?” Blue grins and they set off on foot.
“Yeah I’m a senior. Not long to go.” Jett grins.
“So why take the class?” Blue asks as they sit down. It is a tiny restaurant, like the places Blue and Birch would visit.
“I am thinking I want to work in the food industry, not sure as what. I need some proper insight into cooking, and I’d like to eat better.” Jett says.
“What’s your major?” Blue asks.
“Business, it actually had the least requirements and so was easy to fit in all I wanted to study. Now I feel it might have been a waste and I should have gone to culinary school or worked my way up from dishwasher. Gave me time to grow up I guess. What do you do, apart from the bakery job? You said that was just 2 days.” Jett says.
Blue looks at the guy, he’s all arms and legs and reminds him of Andy a little. If Andy had a huge cloud of backcombed hair. Jett is skinny with dyed black hair and a bunch of piercings in his ears, his hair is crazy and distracts from his beautiful violet eyes. Blue can’t work out if they are real or contacts. Either way, they are stunning.
The waiter stops their chatter. Blue orders Tofu three ways to start and a spicy vegetable curry and Jett orders a beef noodle dish.
“I don’t normally eat tofu if I can avoid it. I can cook with it but it’s not my favorite thing. But I know places like this will have made it themselves and got a lot of flavor in to it.” Blue says.
“You’re vegetarian?” Jett asks.
“Pescatarian, I eat fish. Not that often, mostly when my boyfriend is around.” Blue says.
“I hate fish.” Jett says.
“You asked what else I do. I’m working on an ice-cream business and early days on making my soup into a commercial product. I teach yoga, an old people class and I have a few private clients. I have a bit of land and hope to sell some produce in markets and eventually make wine.” Blue says with a grin.
“Wow. That is a lot. Your soup should be available. I would alternate every day between baked potato and the veg and barley one. Oh and would you sell the dahl too?” Jett asks.
“I hope to eventually. Just soup to start then add some heartier options. It is early days. My mom has just swooped into town and is going to get things started. You should send me your resume, we have so many jobs to fill. If you want to join the ice-cream business you could start part time now.” Blue says.
“Are you serious?” Jett asks.
“Yeah. I like you. You understand food even if you can’t cook much yet. I know that, as you wouldn’t have brought me here if you didn’t know food. I need people who are willing to work hard, to learn the business and not be scared of a rapid rise in responsibility.” Blue says.
“So you’re offering me a real career? Not just a shit cleaning job?” Jett asks.
“If the businesses come off. If you don’t fancy it we’ll have vacancies in the ice-cream parlor that you could do while looking for a career job.” Blue says excited and then unhappy. He finally found someone who might be a friend and he’s talking business.
“What’s up?” Jett asks noticing Blue’s shoulders dropping.
“I was thinking I’m an idiot for bringing up business when we could have been friends. It happens to me all the time and I hate it. But on the other hand you need a job and I want people around me who I like and trust.” Blue says.
“We can still be friends. I like you too, you were really insightful in class tasting the dishes and really funny. I’m a bit of a loner at school this year as all my friends graduated already and I’ve just had my head down studying.” Jett says.
“Did you take an extra year?” Blue asks.
“No, I joined the newspaper freshman year and didn’t make any freshmen friends.” Jett says.
“Are you here to get my story?” Blue asks suddenly feeling paranoid.
“No. I write music and film reviews. I joined for the free tickets. If you wanted to tell your side I could help, but selling you out was not my motivation for inviting you to dinner. I don’t do human interest or gossip pieces. I’m not mining you for background.” Jett grins and somehow Blue trusts him.
“Cool, sorry for coming off paranoid. I kinda am right now.” Blue laughs.
“I’m not surprised. I hate my older brother, actively hate him, wish he could fall in front of a bus. He tortured me my whole life. But even I wouldn’t hang him out to dry like that. It would break my mother’s heart.” Jett says.
“My mother’s heart is cold stone.” Blue grins, a little sweaty from the food.
They move to safer topics, Blue asks about local bands and they discuss going to see some together.
“What are you smiling at?” Jett asks as they walk back to their cars.
“You might be my first properly straight male friend.” Blue laughs.
“Oh I am totally questioning.” Jett says deadpan and then the pair burst into giggles.
‘”You are bad.” Blue laughs.
“You bought it for a second.” Jett grins.
“Don’t forget to get that resume to me. I’m in the bakery all day Friday, come over if you like and we can have an actual business meeting. I’ll run through what positions we’re likely to have and you can sell yourself.” Blue says.
“Thank you. I can’t believe I turn up to a community cooking class and might land a real job.” Jett says.
“It was great meeting you.” Blue grins and drives home happy.
Thursday morning Blue meets with Randolf in his office.
“So they are blaming a huge mix up in their legal department that let the stealing line be presented as fact they will print a retraction and are offering a settlement I would usually suggest you take, as going for more would push my bill up and up and you’re a family friend not a corporate client with deep pockets. However the interesting part was that they claimed they had reached out to you for comment. When I pointed out that Chris and Bea don’t have your number or know where you live and so any contact would have been bogus they really clammed up. Total shut down.” Randolf says.
“Is the settlement offer still there?” Blue asks.
“Yes, but I’m holding off. They have to come back to me this afternoon.” Randolf says.
“How much was it?” Blue asks and Randolf hands over a sheet of paper. Blue’s eyebrows shoot up.
“I could end up getting more out of this than my siblings.” Blue says.
“Quite likely. The TV talk show is this afternoon. Make sure you watch it, record it and write anything untrue down. It is likely it will be a fluff piece about them and you won’t come in to it.” Randolf says.
“I won’t go after my siblings personally.” Blue says.
“Noted, but if they say anything untrue, I will be writing a letter threatening them that we will take action, if they continue to slander you. You cannot be seen to be accepting it at any turn.” Randolf says.
“That makes sense. What about momma? Have you heard from her side?” Blue asks.
“You’ll need to ask her but I think hers will be all wrapped up.” Randolf says.
“Thanks so much for making this so easy for me.” Blue smiles.
“I’ll call you when I hear from them. Sorry it isn’t resolved yet.” Randolf grins.
“Not your fault. My siblings are a nightmare.” Blue shrugs and leaves.
“I am going to California for a few days. I’ll be meeting some friends in the food business who I knew back in the day.” Clara says at home later.
“Oh that sounds good. And saves a dilemma. Will wants to come here for the weekend. I can clean out your room for us. So he doesn’t need to go upstairs.” Blue grins.
“Gladys, Abby and some of their friends are coming to watch the TV interview here. I hope you’re okay with that. They said you could drive them to yoga after.” Clara says.
“I best check if I have any bananas and get baking. Oh did you resolve your legal issues?” Blue asks.
“I did. I was never after a big pay out, obviously, just a correction. They rolled over in minutes my lawyer said they obviously had a budget ready and I’ve asked that the money goes to a women’s shelter. Was yours as easy?” Clara asks.
Blue explains the meeting.
“Lets get cooking and task your mind off it. I’m doing my onion quiche, the pastry is just baking. Your hens are such good layers.” Clara says.
“I know. Gorgeous too. I’ve missed your quiche.” Blue grins, the chooks make him so happy and he’s really savoring these normal moments with Clara.
“Are you adding coconut to those?” Clara asks as Blue adds dark chocolate to a cookie batch.
“No, a couple of them have false teeth.” Blue grins.
“When your settlement is sorted will you consider donating the money?” Clara asks.
“Not all of it, maybe half. It will help pay for flights to see Will.” Blue says.
“That sounds sensible. I wasn’t trying to pressurize you.” Clara says.
“I know. You don’t expect me to pay you back, for the houses do you?” Blue asks suddenly wondering if he ought to really clear the slate.
“I have always considered Gervais another son, however strained our relationship has become. I have told you a hundred times you made the right call there. With the one you sold to buy this place, no way! Again you made the right decision. I would have loved to buy you somewhere like this for graduation, closer to home would have been my preference but you fit here. You need the money you have and I don’t. Knowing you are safe and happy and in a warm home means more to me than you can understand.” Clara says.
“Thanks. I was just running all the costs in my head and having a minor stroke.” Blue grins.
“I do love seeing you in such good humor. I don’t think I’ve seen you so happy since before you came out.” Clara says.
“You always knew, right? I mean I always knew and I didn’t think I needed to tell you.” Blue says.
“I think from when you were 6 or 7 and I saw you have crushes on the guys you fished with, I thought it was just a bit of hero worship but you were never the same with the summer women who you would cook with.” Clara says.
“Oh those absolutely were crushes, though I had no idea. I wanted to marry those guys and fish all day and sleep in the same bed.” Blue grins remembering the fun times from when he was younger.
“Then there was the starring at the underwear packets when you were a teen.” Clara grins and Blue blushes and then they laugh together.
Soon half the town is at the door, Gladys and Abby and some of their friends. Ella and Nick show up and Arnold and his wife not far behind. They help Blue move all the chairs into the lounge as Mike and Heidi arrive.
“Leaving the bakery in the day.” Blue mock exclaims.
“I thought you could use the support and my staff are excellent.” Heidi says.
Arnold’s wife approaches them and Blue sees the look of Iust flash through her eyes as she looks at Heidi.
“I cannot believe we haven’t properly met, given you are always at the farm. I’m Liberty.” Liberty says.
“I always miss you at your place. I’m glad we finally meet properly.” Blue grins.
In the lead up to the show Blue gets a lot of messages of support from all his friends and Will calls to ask if it is okay if he watches.
“Come and get me tonight. Please babe.” Will says.
“Okay. Momma is going away for a few days anyway. I’ll just kick her out her room tonight.” Blue grins and Clara smiles from across the room. She thinks this Will is a much better boyfriend than before. Yes there has been drama but he hasn’t been dramatic or made Blue dramatic and the long distance element stops them from going too fast.
Blue sits with his tablet on his knee ready to make notes. He loves that his friends are all enjoying a good plate of food and are here supporting him.
There are lots of titters when the segment begins, mostly about how much Chris looks like Blue. Blue stares at the screen as if they are strangers. He has to focus really hard to listen to what they are saying as he keep drifting into his own thoughts and memories.
At each commercial break they mention a dramatic reunion to come and Blue and Clara figure it will be Lana and Paul but they strongly hint it will be Blue making them all giggle. Blue and Clara are only mentioned factually and Blue is relieved. They focus on Bea growing up not knowing her real mom and Bea is actually really nice about Clara. Talks of all the things they have in common including how difficult they can both be. Bea is back to her human self and for a moment Blue misses the sister he first met.
He watches as Chris talks about the support Clara gave during the court case and how let down he was by his grandparents and they both talk about how their whole family pushed them away, including the cousins they had been close to.
Blue can see exactly why the book deal is on the table and just how marketable his siblings are, good looking and rejected.
Blue looks at Clara as they finally bring out Paul and sees her shudder, just as Bea recoils on screen and makes the room gasp. Blue had forgotten he was surrounded by friends and feels their supportive energy and hopes that his siblings had the same after doing this.
Chris is visibly happy to see Paul but Bea storms off set. Clara slips out the room and Blue assumes it is to call his sister.
As the segment ends Blue wonders why they bothered to villainize him in the magazine article. This show was recorded long before his lawyer got involved and the real story has more than enough interest for everyone.
“Well that wasn’t so bad. Don’t think much of your father though.” Mike says.
“He’s a practiced liar and Chris would be stupid to believe he is back for anything other than personal gain.” Blue says.
“He’s the real thief and liar.” Clara says coming back into the room
“Is Bea okay?” Blue asks.
“No, not at all. I’ve invited her to join me in California. She can afford to miss a few classes.” Clara says and Blue nods. Blue smiles to himself and realizes he isn’t at all jealous. He want’s Clara to be there for Bea when she needs her.
Blue’s phone rings, it’s Randolf.
“Any issues?” Randolf asks.
“No they were entirely truthful about me and Momma.” Blue says.
“Good, good. There may be legal action against your siblings for lying to the magazine and specifically for Chris impersonating you.” Randolf says.
“I can’t stop that. What does that mean for me?” Blue asks.
“If you will accept no retraction or correction until after they are finished with your siblings then the settlement is quadrupled.” Randolf says.
“That is a lot of money.” Blue says.
“They called a successful businessman with no criminal record a thief and fraudster.” Randolf says.
“Successful businessman is a bit premature.” Blue says.
“Rubbish, you’re involved with multiple local businesses and the article could impede your planned expansions.” Randolf says.
“I want to check with momma first and my boyfriend. How long do I have?” Blue asks.
“Twenty four hours.” Randolf says.
“I’ll call you first thing.” Blue says.
People are beginning to leave and are thanking Blue and Clara for the food.
“Can we get this quiche on the menu?” Heidi asks.
“Momma made it. Her savory pastry is much better than mine.” Blue grins and Heidi goes over to Clara.
“Totally different to the magazine. I felt sorry for them.” Gladys says.
“Me too in a way. Momma and I struggle but she gave me all the tools to cope with her ways and to make something of myself in the world. Their parents are parasites who gave them no life skills.” Blue says.
“I didn’t like your dad. I can see you have some of the look of him, your sister really favors your mother.” Abby says.
“I know. It is so weird that I didn’t twig that when I first met Bea. But my ex dated Chris and claimed he didn’t realize and we’re full twins, though he was thinner back then and had totally different hair.” Blue says.
“Different posture and disposition can make all the difference. one minute you look identical and the next entirely different.” Abby says and Blue nods.
“I need to disappear for 5 minutes and fix up a room for Will. Then we can go to yoga.” Blue says and Abby grins and goes off to look for another cookie.
Clara and Blue quickly change the bed, Clara is already packed.
“I’ll come with you to class, then you can drop me at the airport on your way to collect Will.” Clara says.
“That sounds good. Been a long time since you were in one of my classes.” Blue grins.
In the kitchen Mike and Heidi are washing up and Blue shakes his head but feels so happy that they feel so at home. He wishes Mike and Heidi liked each other, sure there is an age gap but Mike would give Heidi security, and if he is like his sons a lovely big dick.
Blue says goodbye to Arnold and his family and he and Mike round up Gladys and Abby and their friends who need a lift to class.