Blue wakes up with Ocean curled in front of him and Chris behind. He cannot believe that his life has changed so much again in twenty four hours. He talked long into the night with Gervais and Andy who both told him to hold off on pulling out the businesses and he agreed but knows he cannot work with Clara, cannot let her in to his professional life, cannot let her control him. Or Bea and Chris.
“Morning bro.” Chris says waking. He’s happy. Having seen the life Blue has made, Will, the businesses, his friends. Chris wants in.
“What you smiling about?” Blue asks.
“Just how I’ve changed. How I would have been jealous of you having rich friends, a house and business. But now I am just jealous you have loyal friends and yeah okay I am jealous of this house.” Chris says.
“Will you reject what momma is offering you?” Blue asks.
“Yes. I don’t want her money that way. If she offered me an apartment for school that I had to lease to lake kids after for school, like your other house then I would have been right there but not this. I mean it is weird. I need my freedom. I totally get you freaking out and leaving.” Chris says.
Ocean stirs and turns to cuddle Blue.
“I don’t want to go.” Ocean says.
“Lets go do our yoga and that will make us feel better before Spence takes you to gymnastics.” Blue says gently.
“Please don’t make me go.” Ocean says.
“It is up to your mom. You know that, you can visit as often as you want. We’ll keep your room for you for sleepovers.” Blue says and Ocean wipes his tears.
“I can’t believe Cheryl.” Chris says as Ocean pads off to pee.
“I can’t but I can believe mom influenced her.” Blue says.
“Yeah I guess. I suppose it wasn’t idea to be living in a house full of horny gay guys.” Chris laughs.
“No. But we all love Ocean and all helped get him to and from gym, made sure he was looked after so Cheryl could launch two businesses. We all made sure he felt loved and wanted and not a bother.” Blue says.
“He knows. That is why he doesn’t want to go. Here he always has some attention, he’s spoiled.” Chris laughs.
“Maybe but he’s rewarding so it doesn’t feel like it.” Blue says pulling on some shorts and heading outside. Gervais joins them and Blue takes them through a light routine focusing their minds more and the three of them feel so much better after. Ocean is singing in the car with Spence on the way to the gym.
“Ocean I will be your coach all summer. And Will will be here for you as much as he can.” Spence says.
“But you’re away next two weeks.” Ocean says.
“Yes we are. You’ve lots of friends here.” Spence says.
“I know. I will miss you and Will.” Ocean says.
“You can call me every night. You know you can call all of us any time and just because you’re moving out doesn’t mean we don’t want to hang out. We all do and we are all going to miss you.” Spence says and Ocean smiles and heads off to start his workout.
“I have to go to work today. You should come and I’ll introduce you to Arnold. See if he can use you.” Blue says.
“That sounds great. Do you have boots I can borrow? I don’t have any footwear for farms with me.” Chris says.
“Sure no problem, we have loads out here.” Blue says showing Chris.
“Proper country host aren’t you?” Chris laughs.
“That is what I want. I never want anyone to feel uncomfortable.” Blue says.
“I miss your cooking. I miss having you fluttering around fixing things and making everyone feel comfortable but mostly and I accept this sounds soppy, I really miss you being a good example. I miss seeing what I could be. I think that is why I fuck up when we’re apart. When we’re not talking I feel like I have to destroy you, bring you down to my level instead of raising me to yours.” Chris says.
“I can’t make you be anything. I don’t want to be responsible for you. I have way, way too much on my plate as it is.” Blue says.
“I get that. I do. I don’t want to be a bother. I don’t. Spence told me there is nothing in this for you. Will said the same yesterday and I see that is how you feel. I don’t know how to change that. I struggle to keep myself in line. I don’t know how to be someone you need in your life. Someone you want around.” Chris says.
“Like I said I just don’t have the time or emotional space to deal with you, with helping you. We’re 21, grow up and work it out.” Blue says.
“Wow. Spence warned me you don’t have the same time for everyone and I like it. I love you fighting your corner for your space. If you had had this attitude when Bea and I first burst in to your life you and Bea would never have had that big fall out.” Chris says.
“Yes we would. She would still have played me.” Blue says.
“Do you not care if we ever become three friends?” Chris asks.
“No, I have friends. I have brothers I explained this. I don’t miss you guys the way I miss Gervais or Andy. I have let go of all feelings of duty and guilt around how I should have a relationship because we’re family. Yeah we’re related, closer than blood you and I, we’re the same but I don’t feel that you and I are anything I need to work on.” Blue says.
“So I have a long road ahead of me? You don’t feel like we need to team up against mom, momma and Paul?” Chris asks.
“You do if you choose to. Gervais and I took forever to get back on track. He worked so hard for us. So hard. I don’t need you to pay for my house renovations but I need to see commitment. Sorry I don’t I am not momma, I am not putting conditions on you. Just be better and don’t put expectations on me.” Blue says.
“I can really try. I will put some pressure on you over Bea though. I love Willow and think she is the best person to be around Bea right now. But long term, we together need to look after our sister and make sure she isn’t sucked in to Clara’s world too far.” Chris says.
“I really wish I could talk to Cheryl about it.” Blue says honestly.
“Your friends are all willing to look out for her at school next semester. I thought maybe as they are okay you might be too.” Chris says.
“We all feel a hell of a lot of compassion towards Bea. Her lies have made it so hard to get to the true core of what happened to her growing up. But we all get that there are reasons behind her lashing out. Far more than yours. You just happen to be easier to like when you are on an even keel.” Blue says.
“Shit.” Chris says.
“It is true. Bea is difficult, I get why, she has that defense mechanism due to how your parents treated her. I’m honestly not in a place to go out of my way for either of you but if Bea calls I will talk to her, if she turns up on my doorstep I will give her a room.” Blue says.
“So it is up to me?” Chris says.
“Yeah. Heck if you can be a big part of Bea’s recovery you really would be worth having around.” Blue says.
“Understood. Blue I do love you, we both do.” Chris says and Blue looks at Chris and shakes his head.
“Arnold this is my brother Chris. He’s going to be staying with Robin for the next month. He’s spent this summer and last working with a rural vet. Can you put him to work?” Blue asks.
“Maybe but Liberty’s youngest sister is a vet in the city. Let me call her and see if she can take you.” Arnold says.
“Seriously?” Chris asks.
“She mostly does pampered pooches, nothing as exciting as the farms but she is the most disorganized woman on the planet and an extra pair of hands would really help her out.” Arnold says.
“Liberty is your wife?” Chris asks.
“Yes. Come on lets go introduce you and she can make the call.” Arnold says.
“Can you come over after? I really need to talk to you.” Blue says.
“Sure thing Blue. I want to talk about the orders too.” Arnold says.
“Hey Blue, did you have a good birthday?” Ollie asks as Blue looks in on him.
“No, it was awful. My siblings mom showed up and was nuts. My mom and siblings showed up and we had another huge fall out. To the extent I am again reconsidering the businesses.” Blue says.
“Blue no. Come on we had so much fun trying the soups. It will be great. We can’t do it without you.” Ollie says.
“You could. It would take you longer to sort the recipes, but you could do it.” Blue says.
“And what about here, with the ice-cream? Orders are through the roof, especially for the vegan range. Nick and Ella are doing pieces for every veggie and vegan blog and magazine. Like they get requests every day.” Ollie says.
“That is cool and I love all the inventing we do, all the sweets we make as well as the flavors. But my mom is a partner and is planning much more control on the soup side and I will not work with her.” Blue says.
“Then she is out.” Arnold says from the doorway.
“You can’t do that.” Blue says.
“Who does she have?” Arnold asks.
“Cheryl. I can’t work with Cheryl either.” Blue says.
“Cheryl was a paid consultant for the parlor. She hasn’t invested. She’s out.” Arnold says.
“That isn’t fair.” Blue says.
“Yes it is. The deli’s are separate, we have talked about sharing admin but have yet to implement it.” Arnold says.
“Our offices are above the deli.” Blue says.
“So we move them. That isn’t hard and Robin isn’t here much longer, the woman that Saul brought in is working from home most the time and we can find somewhere for Angela. Blue you know how important you are to this and we will do everything to keep you. We have let you step back for the summer. You two have everything in place here, we have great teams making the ice cream and they can make the extras too. Look what I was coming up here to tell you might change your mind. A big chain want to trial 3 of the vegan line in 20 stores. Blue this is the big time.” Arnold says.
“Wow.” Blue and Ollie say together.
“We need you on board for this.” Arnold says.
“We can’t push momma and Cheryl out with this coming.” Blue says.
“We’ve not finalized everything for the soup company. Ironically your mom has been the one holding it up arguing over share and investment levels. Right now it is you, me, Heidi, Mike and Abby in this business. With Claud, Cheryl, Clara and Marsha coming in for the soup when we merge the companies. You just say the word.” Arnold says.
“Ollie can you manage? I think I should talk with Mike and Abby. I don’t want to stay on when my heart isn’t in it when Momma and Cheryl are what you need for success.” Blue says.
“Blue you before them, always. I love Cheryl and all she has done for me but you have done more and I have learned so much from you. Saul could do a whole heap more if we asked him. He got the parlor staffing issues sorted so easily when you and Cheryl were taking months. And he has money.” Ollie says.
“That is a thought. Go talk to Abby and Mike and Heidi. I’ll call Mike and Abby and tell them to meet you at the bakery.” Arnold says.
“Can you look after Chris?” Blue asks.
“Take him with you. His reputation precedes him.” Arnold says and Blue sighs.
“That is why you fobbed him off.” Blue says.
“Liberty’s little sis could do with the help. She loses assistants regularly. But yeah I don’t want him on the farm or around you.” Arnold says.
“He should be on best behavior but its fair as you know what trouble he has caused before.” Blue says.
“Exactly.” Arnold says.
Blue heads to the house and collects Chris who is happily chatting with Liberty and Ella.
“It is extraordinary how alike you are.” Liberty says.
“Oh we’re nothing alike.” Chris grins and Blue laughs.
“Nurture not nature in our case.” Blue laughs and they leave.
“Whats going on bro?” Chris asks.
“I need to talk to some people.” Blue says.
“Screwing over Cheryl and Momma?” Chris asks.
“I wouldn’t. Well I would momma but not Cheryl, I love Ocean too much.” Blue says.
“All or nothing bro.” Chris says.
“I’m not you. I can walk away.” Blue says.
“Bro no way. This is yours. They are just tagging along for the ride. Seriously put your interests first. You can’t walk away from this. It is yours.” Chris says.
“I just don’t care about it. Not the way I do about the rest.” Blue says.
“Blue if you pull out and everything goes to shit, who is going to eat in your restaurant?” Chris asks.
“Oh fuck.” Blue says realizing his dreams are so fragile.
“Come on bro, I got you, lets do this.” Chris says and Blue smiles. He has no idea if Chris is for real but it is nice.
Heidi greets them both and suggests they go upstairs. Chris says he’s happy to stay down with coffee and cake.
“So what happened? Cheryl called me this morning, saying you were pulling out.” Abby says.
“My momma is back to her controlling ways. I will not work with her. I will not be in business with her. Cheryl has moved out too, no warning leaving Ocean distraught. It is them or me.” Blue says surprising himself.
“You every time. I love Cheryl but I got in to this for you and my town. She has been great and has done a lot for us, but we paid her for that and she got her deli out of it.” Abby says.
“You every time Blue. We might have issues but you every time.” Heidi says.
“I feel like I am all drama these days.” Blue sighs.
“You are a magnet for it. You can’t help having the family you do. Your momma has been being a pain in the ass over the business and we’ve been shielding you from it. But dammit I am glad to cut her loose. We don’t need her money.” Abby says.
“Ollie suggested Saul might enjoy a bigger role.” Blue says.
“Agreed. But not yet and not another partner.” Heidi says.
“Momma was worried about Arnold having too much power. I am going to put in a full share financially. Spence or Gervais will lend me the capital. If I am in and they are gone I am fully in.” Blue says.
“I’ll talk to Arnold and Mike. They will be here soon. I don’t suppose you’d let me pay your share?” Abby asks.
“No way. People already think I take advantage.” Blue says.
“What happened with Cheryl and Mike?” Heidi asks.
“My mother. And I think Cheryl just missed being with women.” Blue says.
“It is a shame. I thought they were a great match. I thought they were very much in love.” Abby says.
They pause at a knock at the door. It is Mike and Arnold.
“Mike I am sorry about Cheryl.” Blue says.
“Me too. I thought we were serious then out the blue I’m dumped.” Mike says.
“So cutting Cheryl out is in everyone’s interest.” Arnold says.
“I hate to do it.” Mike says.
“No chance of reconciliation?” Abby asks.
“No.” Mike sighs.
“Blue will be investing fully. Or adjusted slightly to account for buying his recipes.” Abby says.
“I think they are worth more than his share.” Arnold says and explains about the chain wanting the vegan ice-cream.
“Clara won’t go quietly.” Mike says.
“Her own fault for trying to control me, Gervais, Andy and my siblings.” Blue says.
“Take the night to think about it.” Mike says.
“It is them or me. Abby, Arnold and Heidi vote for me. You and Claud would be outvoted.” Blue says.
“He’s right.” Heidi says.
“I’ll let you guys talk.” Blue says, gets Chris and drives home.
Cheryl is waiting for him in the kitchen.
“I should have changed the locks.” Blue says.
“You can trust me.” Cheryl says.
“No I can’t. You knew she was coming, with Chris and Bea, settling here with them. You’re both out the soup business.” Blue says.
“No! I need that.” Cheryl says.
“It is you and her or me. Majority choose me.” Blue says.
“I knew that Arnold would fuck everything up. You cannot run that business without us.” Clara says coming in.
“Yes he can. He will too.” Chris says.
“Oh do shut up. You don’t know anything.” Clara says.
“I know that the business won’t happen without Blue. I know that Heidi sells out of soup every day. I know that my brother makes amazing food and everyone loves him and wants to help him succeed and only you want to control him and hold him back.” Chris says.
“Well I know the recipes. Cheryl and I can launch much faster.” Clara says.
“No way Clara. I might have bought in to your house plan. I love the space and agree it would be better for Ocean but I will not join you in such stupidity.” Cheryl says.
“It isn’t stupidity and you will.” Clara says.
“No. You can’t buy me anymore.” Cheryl says.