“Can I come in with you guys?” Andy asks knocking on Blue and Will’s door.
“Sure come in.” Will says with a shrug.
“What’s wrong?” Blue asks.
“Spence suggested we get back together and I turned him down and I feel so stupid.” Andy says.
“Why did you turn him down?” Will asks confused.
“He hadn’t broken up with Larry yet. I want him back but I don’t want to rush it. I hoped we could use this week to move things along slowly. Being confronted with it head on straight away just threw me.” Andy says.
“Will introduced me to his coach as his boyfriend before he’d even asked me. Sometimes straight, full on works.” Blue grins.
“Ahh you two are the exception. And Will wasn’t dating someone else. Mike will be my boss at least 1 day a week this summer and hurting Larry isn’t a great idea.” Andy says.
“That is all true. And you and Spence are not the types to be on the down low. But Andy, he still wants you back and you want him and at some point this summer that is going to happen.” Blue says.
“It is.” Andy grins.
“Stop stressing and analyzing it, we don’t want you turning in to Blue.” Will grins and kisses Andy’s cheek.
“I kind of feel bad muscling in on you two. I can see how happy you are and how solidly together. When you were away Will I honestly thought Blue should end things but I am so glad he didn’t listen to me. You’re the best thing to happen to Blue.” Andy says.
“He’s the best thing to happen to me.” Will says and Blue falls asleep grinning between his boyfriend and friend, feeling very loved and cared for.
Blue gets up early and picks up Ollie to take him to Arnolds. Unofficially Ollie is now the manager of ice-cream production, he has the title deputy and the work force think Blue is in charge but Ollie is managing all the staff rosters and production and is absolutely loving it. His confidence has soared and with help from Blue and Cheryl is learning rapidly everything he needs.
Ollie and Blue run through the volume they have ready to go out, check through the deliveries that have been made and orders that have come in and double check all the equipment before Ollie starts the first batches of the day, Blue is making a vanilla, chocolate, honeycomb mix for the opening. He’s making the components at the farm and then taking it to the store to make the ice-cream as a small batch.
“Ollie you’ll come to mine for dinner tonight? We’re having a pre-opening feast. Mostly as a way to make us all down tools at a reasonable hour.” Blue grins.
“Thanks that sounds good. Shall I bring a cake?” Ollie asks.
“That sounds like a good idea, if you have time.” Blue says.
Arnold has added more cooking facilities to their lab room which they use for making brownies, cookie dough and the like. Ollie experiments with his baking as well as ice-cream flavors during his quieter moments.
“I’ve got a new chocolate cake that is going really well. I might bring that and a lemon cake.” Ollie grins.
“Sounds amazing. Arnold will bring you down later. We really ought to sort you out a car.” Blue says.
“I don’t know.” Ollie says.
“When we get the plant open you’ll need to travel between sites. So you’ll need a company car, we’ll need to make sure it is a seven seater in case you need to take other staff with you for training. If that means it fits all your siblings in, well what you do when you’re off work is up to you.” Blue grins.
“You think the business will do that well?” Ollie asks.
“I think we have a year or two for the parlor and it will be hard to establish a new brand of ice-cream but we’re concentrating on local and not going to go too fast. I really want it to work. The soup is where everyone is so much more ambitious.” Blue says.
“It would break Arnold’s heart but I think we might end up doing far better with the dairy alternatives than the regular ice-cream. With normal stores Ella only gets the occasional hit but health food stores almost all go for a starter pack, it is so exciting.” Ollie says.
“Agreed. Let’s hope that Larry can get the cheese business sorted. Did Freddie like his party?” Blue asks.
“His mom is still on cloud nine. A job and a successful party. Of course now he has a job he is sleeping so much more and for the first time needs an alarm clock. He loves the bakery, has been baking at home too. I mean he won’t eat the bread unless it’s dipped in scalding hot soup but my aunt says it’s a big step.” Ollie says with a shy smile.
“Another step to independence. Okay I better get this packed up and down to the store. Call me if there are any issues and I’ll see you shortly.” Blue says.
At the parlor he talks to his mom and Cheryl about a car for Ollie.
“Leave it with me. It might be that I buy myself a car that Ollie looks after when I’m away.” Clara says.
“You can’t turn him in to your driver.” Blue says.
“No he needs something full time. I’ll talk to Arnold.” Cheryl says.
“I don’t like that man having so much control over the finances. I’ll get the car,” Clara says.
Blue is torn, he agrees he doesn’t want Arnold to continually be pouring money in but he also doesn’t want his momma pulling the strings.
“I need to get my mixes in the freezer.” Blue says retreating to the kitchen.
“This place it gorgeous but I can see you’re itching to move on to the deli.” Clara says.
“I am, it’s a fantasy come true really. Higher budget ingredients for the chiller meals than I could do at the café. All this amazing local produce. A chance to do sophisticated things as well as more rustic family meals. I am very excited.” Cheryl grins.
“I love seeing you fired up again. You were so bogged down by the finances before and here you’re free again.” Clara says.
“I am. I love it here. Ocean is happy so far but we’ll have to see how it goes after the summer for his schooling. George and Robin being in their senior year at college may impact the time they have and of course once they graduate we’ll need to look at options. You love it here too. You’re over your grief, you and Roe are getting along better again.” Cheryl says.
“I need to stay up at home until Katelyn finishes school. She is settled and has so many friends that we wouldn’t want to move her again. And Roe and Willow are expanding the artist side of the retreat.” Clara says.
“I know you Clara, you are looking at property here with a view to being here, what half the year? Now you are finally fully free from Paul and Lana, Bea and Chris have chosen you, you want a family home. You have to be careful not to step on Blue’s toes, mine too.” Cheryl says.
“I need to spend more time with Chris and Bea and while Chris is happy up at the lake it is no good for Bea. She has lots of options for good schools here for her postgrad studies. She could live in the city and come to me on weekends if she needed more freedom. Chris will have a harder time getting on his vet course and there are no guarantees he’d get in here but he meets the standards and I can’t help but feel if he was local with local experience it would help him get in.” Clara says.
“Bringing them here is a near guarantee that you would drive Blue away.” Cheryl says.
“He didn’t dismiss Chris’s letter out of hand. He put it away to think about. It’s another year before Bea graduates. Things could change.” Clara says.
“How would they cope seeing Blue’s success and wealth? Seeing how well he’s respected here? He has hero status amongst the farmers, he’s set an impossible standard. The whole town was on Blue’s side over the exposés. Bea and Chris could have a very hard time. And you need to think of Andy too. This will be his home.” Cheryl says.
“I am thinking of all of that and I’m looking at places further out. The villages over the east side of the city. Not too far for me to get to the plant and less in Blue’s face. Of course I would rather be here. I would love to be close to you and Blue. If something I loved came on the market though, well I might buy it in the hope things work out.” Clara says.
Blue stands in the kitchen frozen to the spot. He has heard every word and has no idea what to do. He cannot have Bea and Chris living here. No way. He just can’t. Even the city would be too close.
“I am going to pop home to do some prep for dinner and check how Andy is getting on. I’ll be back in an hour or so.” Blue says.
“Okay love.” Cheryl grins.
“What is on the menu?” Cheryl asks.
“I feel like making sweet potato soup with chilies and want to get the potatoes in to roast. Andy is putting together a lovely salad and Spence has texted me to say he bought a huge amount of tuna steaks to grill so I want to make a marinade for them too.” Blue says.
“Sounds incredible. Spence is so generous.” Clara says.
“He really is. He’ll never make much money coaching but gets an amazing rent for his beach house. He barely needs to touch his trust and he can’t spend it all on shoes.” Blue says with a laugh.
“Ocean adores him.” Cheryl says and Blue heads to the store and then home.
“How come you’re back?” Andy asks.
“I got most of it done. I wanted to get out of there and get on with dinner.” Blue says.
“What happened?” Andy asks.
“Momma was talking to Cheryl about buying a place here and having Chris and Bea live with her. Maybe not here in town, maybe over the east side of the city. Still too close. I know I can’t stop her but I hate the thought of having to throw away all my progress here.” Blue says.
“Well you could sell her this place and we can run off and start over. Though you’re tied here for Will for a while.” Andy says.
“I am. Two years. Chris has 2 years at school.” Blue says.
“Enough time to know if the soup and ice-cream are a success. Sell out and leave. I kind of feel like if she had Clara to herself at home Bea would leave you alone.” Andy says.
“And Chris might not want to move here, near us and Gervais.” Blue says.
“Lets not worry until it happens. I want to get more fruit trees planted along the back wall, both sides. Can you afford that?” Andy asks.
“Sounds like a great idea. Price up some options. We also need to work out how to best utilize the barn. Other than for your sexcapades.” Blue grins.
“For storage and drying? Yeah. I can’t help thinking if we stay that I’d love to one day convert it into a home for me.” Andy says.
“That sounds a very good idea.” Spence says coming through the door with Katelyn, Will and Ocean and a mountain of bags.
“What have you got there?” Andy asks.
“We went shopping while these guys finished training. Blue here is the tuna, it’s all cut up.” Spence says.
“Cool, Let me get that coated and in the fridge. Then I should get back.” Blue says.
“Can I come with you?” Katelyn asks.
“Of course. Want to see the place before the chaos of tomorrow?” Blue asks.
“Yeah and see Clara and Cheryl.” Katelyn says.
“Are you okay Andy? Do you need anything else from me?” Blue asks.
“I’m fine. Ocean and Spence can help me now. Roe has been great too. We’re going to have an awesome day.” Andy grins.
“Good. We’ll not be long. You can put Will to work too. Babe can you get the potatoes out when the timer goes?” Blue asks.
“Sure. See you soon.” Will says and kisses Blue.
“Looks like you and Spence had fun. Did you suggest the tuna?” Blue asks in the car.
“I did, seemed silly to get steaks for some people when we all eat fish. He got me more summer clothes and makeup and loads of stuff, he totally spoils me. Roe says it’s okay as long as it is Spence initiating, I’m not to ask him for things. But he tells me I should ask him.” Katelyn says.
“Spence loves to have an excuse to shop and he especially loves shopping for you. He gets as much joy from it as you do. Don’t feel like you’re taking advantage because you are not. Not just because he can afford it, but because you will no doubt do the same for others later on.” Blue says.
“And I do pass on all my old things and let my friends borrow things.” Katelyn says.
“Exactly. Best not tell Roe what brands he bought you or how much everything cost. Let her think you were Old navy and the like.” Blue says.
“Yeah. I didn’t even look at the tags and then when we were at the register I saw one of the t-shirts was two hundred dollars, I was so embarrassed but Spence didn’t blink.” Katelyn says.
“Just make sure you enjoy his company while you are here.” Blue says.
“Would you really let Andy turn your barn into a house?” Katelyn asks.
“I think it would be nice for him, for us both. Although we might need to move to a bigger site in time.” Blue says.
“I love your house. I love Ocean’s room. Will I be able to stay on breaks when Andy is here?” Katelyn asks.
“Of course you will. You are welcome at any time.” Blue says.
“Thanks. I like it here, I love it at home too. This is a nice in-between not the city but not remote like home.” Katelyn says.
“That is why I love it.” Blue grins.
“Wow this place is so sweet. It’s like it is out of a story book.” Katelyn cries.
“It is really cute.” Blue says and they go inside.
Blue heads straight out the back to check on his ice-cream.
“Clara can we talk?” Katelyn asks.
“Sure, what is it?” Clara asks.
“When we got back we heard Andy talking to Blue about one day turning the barn into a house for him. Then I asked Blue about it on the way here and he said he would like it to happen one. I guess I want to know if I could use my money to build Andy a house, and to buy him some more land so he doesn’t have to leave? He loves it here, he has so many plans. I know Gervais bought Blue some extra land do you think we could look for some more nearby? And can I access my money for it?” Katelyn asks.
“As Andy controls access to your fund it could be complicated. Because he would have to prove that he wasn’t just helping himself to your money. Even you investing in his business could be seen as shady for him.” Clara says.
“But that just means it would be a problem for Andy if I sued him later or something?” Katelyn asks.
‘”Yes, all the checks are there to protect you but they restrict you too. That said I think it is a brilliant idea and the conversion at least would be a very good investment for you. I’ll get some advice on whether your trust could fund it. This is a big turnaround for you.” Clara says.
“It feels less icky now Mom is out of my life. I guess I don’t feel so weird about it. Spence was saying that his trust money must include money that came from dodgy dealings during prohibition and the like. He says he doesn’t feel guilty because if he didn’t take the money his brothers would and they’d take far less care over what they invested it indo it or spent it on. If you hadn’t made me take the money it would likely have gone to mom and she would have ended up spending it on more stupid men. If I use it constructively like you do with yours then I might make up for some of the wrongs that he did.” Katelyn says.
“Finally.” Clara grins.
Blue laughs to himself in the kitchen, he wouldn’t want to accept land from Katelyn, but knows she would love to be able to do it for Andy and it would make Andy feel like a more equal partner in their business.
“Here you go. Be the first one to test the opening special.” Blue grins putting a sundae in front of Katelyn.
“Wow this looks amazing.” Katelyn says and tucks in.
“It does look really good.” Cheryl says.
“Looks to me like we’re all prepared, bar washing this glass.” Blue says.
“I think so. Lets go and have a lovely social evening and take our minds of everything.” Cheryl says.
Blue, Will, Katelyn and Ocean work away in the kitchen and prepare a feast. Robin and Gervais arrive as they are cooking and take the news they are bunking down in their study with good humor. They clean up and help with the table as everyone starts arriving. They use the indoor and outdoor tables and throw open the doors.
Blue is delighted with the results. Andy’s eyes pop out his head when Ollie arrives with his cakes and he makes sure he sits next to Ollie through dinner. Spence looks on feeling helpless and jealous. He wanted to talk to Andy about the barn conversion and offer to get it started so it might be a reality as soon as possible after graduation.
Spence isn’t the only one looking on jealously, Brian and Nick look on depressed that they might have lost out to the younger cutie already.
Ocean is trying to work on his match making between Gervais and Nick but Nick is totally distracted.
Ollie is totally unaware of the stir he is causing and is happy to have someone so interesting to talk to. He has no idea Andy asking about his cooking is Andy flirting.
“This is the best lemon cake I ever had. You’ve got Blue beat on this one. We should go on a date.” Andy says.
“Um wow. I uh. I would really like that.” Ollie stutters out.