Ocean who has arrived early with Cheryl, can’t resist following Blue in and singing happy birthday. Gervais is delighted, truly happy that they have made the effort.
They all get ready and are soon on the road. Ocean is riding with Gervais, Blue, Ella and Robin and is bouncing around in his seat he’s so excited.
“I don’t usually like fishing.” Ella says.
“But it is fun and we are outdoors and no one is at work.” Ocean says bouncing more.
“And Blue made banana nut muffins.” Gervais smiles.
“And we have watermelons.” Ocean grins.
“You are all excited by the simplest things.” Ella says.
“That’s how we all live. Blue and Ocean were brought up that way. I was in a way, my parents taught me to strive for more but they both stop and smell the roses.” Robin says.
They all tumble out of the cars and trek down to the water. Mike has picked a good spot and those who want to fish are soon set up along with Roe who sets up to paint. The others head back to a picnic area and settle down to chat and enjoy the good weather.
Those fishing pop back now and then for a break or to get some food. They have a lovely day and Gervais feels incredibly loved and appreciated. Arnold arrives Abby and Gladys out to join them around lunch time and the group sit together and share the food and positive stories about Gervais.
At the end of the day they all stand along the bank and throw handfuls of flower petals into the water, remembering people they all have lost. Gervais smiles and wipes a tear. He has spent so much time analyzing the relationship he never had with his parents and now he just wants to let it go, let them go and move on with his life as his own person.
As they are packing up to leave Arnold gets a call from Liberty.
“Quick, we have to go, the farm is on fire.” Arnold shouts.
Everyone bundles in to the cars and follow Arnold to the farm, Blue and Andy ring round the farmers to get help to move the cows. Ollie and Ella call all the ice-cream staff to make sure they are safe. Cheryl calls Clara to check where she is, her grudge against Arnold is well known.
“I was at the bakery, the police station and my lawyer, I’m back at the bakery now. There is no way I could have done anything.” Clara says, disappointed that Cheryl even had to ask.
“Have you seen Bea and Chris?” Cheryl asks.
“Bea has been in the bakery all day and I assume Chris is at work in the city. And they would not do this, they are so proud of Blue.” Clara says.
“I know. I was checking for their sake.” Cheryl says.
“Okay. Sorry I am worried sick. I can’t believe what is happening.” Clara says.
“Stay where you are and we’ll update you.” Cheryl says.
“Thanks. Drop Katelyn and Ocean here. I can take care of them, Heidi and Bea are here too and Saul.” Clara says.
The fire is mostly out by the time they get there, the fire service did an excellent job. Everyone got out okay and it was contained and the animals have been moved out to further pastures so to not be affected by the smoke.
It did spread from the factory to the milking parlor, fortunately it wasn’t near milking time. But the cost of the damage will be extensive.
Tears stream down Blue and Ollie’s faces as they see everything they worked so hard at gone up in smoke. All their stock wiped out, all their research on new flavors. Gone.
“We’ll get you back up in no time. Ella and Nick will call all the suppliers. I’ll get machines and freezers to the community factory tomorrow and we can get industrial cleaners in straight away. We are not losing this business.” Arnold says putting an arm around each boy.
“You can’t milk.” Blue says.
“We are working on that. It has happened before. You will get all you need, Cheryl and Saul will work on getting your supplies in. We are going to fill that supermarket order if every person in town has to help.” Arnold says.
“Do the police know who it was?” Ollie asks through his sobs.
“I’m going to speak to them next. Go home and get some rest. Meet me first thing at the soup plant.” Arnold says.
“We’ll go down there now and see where we want things.” Blue says.
“Ella, go with the boys and write a list of all that they need.” Arnold says and Ella nods.
“Gervais, Andy drive us to the Bakery. Clara, Cheryl, Heidi and Bea are there. Arnold join us when you can.” Abby says, she is so angry that this is happening and determined, just like Arnold that it will be on track shortly.
“Blue, Oliver and Arnold we are going to need statements from all of you.” A policeman says and they all nod.
“Can we do it here at the house?” Arnold asks.
“That will be fine. We have been doing that with the witnesses.” The policeman says and Arnold nods.
“Officer, do you need everyone now?” Abby asks.
“Just these three. None of you were here when it happened. We will want statements from the other shareholders and workers in time. Unless there is anything urgent.” The policeman says.
“We’ll get going then.” Abby says.
Blue, Ollie and Arnold follow the policeman to the house and Liberty sorts out space. The farm and ice-cream workers have already been giving their statements.
“Did you look into Lana?” Blue asks when it is his turn.
“Explain the relationship again and why you think it is her.” The policeman says.
“She’s the wife, soon to be ex-wife of my biological father. She raised my siblings. She was very angry when she visited on our birthday and threatened revenge on me and my mom. She’s pretty disturbed. She and my biological father are the only enemies I have, that I can think of. One of our roommates was murdered at school but the guy who did it is still in a secure hospital, he might hold a grudge or his family I guess but that is a stretch.” Blue says.
“I am sorry you had to go through that. Any former employees who might want revenge?” The policeman asks.
“Not really. No one I can think of. We have lost a few people from each business who couldn’t do the shifts or didn’t like the work but not many and those were amicable. Oh except Jett but he never really started.” Blue says.
“Give the details anyway.” The policeman says.
“He was never formally fired. He just never turned up to work again after his affair was found out.” Blue says and explains the Heidi, Ella, Jett triangle.
“We’ll look in to him.” The policeman says.
“Do you have any leads?” Blue asks when they are done.
“We will update you all when we can.” The policeman says and Blue nods not expecting more.
“Is my mom off the hook now? I’d really like it if she could go home.” Blue asks.
“I can’t comment. I’m sorry. In her favor she was with us when we got the call about this fire.” The policeman says.
“Good. She is a manipulative bitch but she didn’t do this. She is controlling and would happily smash my dreams but she would never ever put people’s jobs at risk. Helping people is her thing and she knows how many moms returning to work and doing odd shifts are employed up here. She will be devastated for them.” Blue says.
The policeman nods but Blue knows it is out of his hands.
“All done?” Arnold asks and Blue nods.
Blue, Ollie and Ella head up to the soup plant and talk through what they need to do on the way.
Concentrating on the plan calms all three of them who are so angry at what has happened.
Over at the bakery everyone is in a somber mood as Arnold arrives.
“Look I know Blue wants me to back off but I have an emergency fund that can be accessed instantly and I am willing to help get everything back on its feet.” Clara says.
“Me too. Anything that is needed I can help. I want to help.” Gervais says.
“Is the soup plant the right place? Given the arsonist likely knows about it. Is there somewhere else the boys could set up?” Cheryl asks.
“I don’t know. Using farm outbuildings would take longer to get sanitary and ready and we don’t want to go too far.” Abby says.
“I’ve not been this angry since my wife got diagnosed. Anything I can do. I am happy to lend labor to get the place ready and I am sure Wilson will too.” Mike says and Cheryl grins at him. He is sexy in a crisis, gosh she is torn.
“Clara we have had our differences but I appreciate what you and Gervais are offering. Nick is talking to the insurance company right now. But it’ll be days before the fire officer can give his report. I really don’t want to lose the supermarket deal.” Arnold says.
“All the parlor workers can help. I will organize transport for them to get to the plant and let you know what shifts they can do.” Saul says.
“I can handle things here with Freddie if you need Heidi.” Bea says quietly, not sure what she can do. She feels utterly awful for Blue and is desperately worried that it was Lana who did it and that it might be all Bea’s fault. She has hated and resented Blue but would never, ever want him to face this.
“Claud and I will talk to everyone about supplies. I guess Blue will cut back on varieties for now anyway to concentrate on the supermarket order.” Andy says.
“I’ll cover milk and cream the main issue will be the coconut milk. The oats are not an issue we can pick those up anywhere.” Arnold says.
“It is great there is a plan to get back up and running. But can we talk about security, who might be targeting us and who might be next. I do not want to lose this place, it is my home and business.” Heidi says.
“Larry and I were talking. We’re going to call up all our old football buddies and sort out some sort of watch system. For here, dad’s place, Abby’s farm, Blue’s house and Claud’s farm too. We are going to tell the police who is doing it and hope for their support.” Tad says.
“Well I love the community spirit. Both delis need watching too.” Abby says and Tad nods.
“I am thinking it is less and less likely it is Lana. I know she was angry but I don’t think she would risk hurting the animals at Arnold’s farm. Chris got his love of animals from her.” Clara says.
“I hope it wasn’t her but who else hates us? Would do this to Arnold, to Blue to Ella or to Ollie?” Cheryl asks.
“Mom had no reason to hate Heidi. I don’t know how she knew where Arnold’s farm was either. Momma is right hurting Blue and Arnold is not like hurting Momma.” Bea says as the police come in.
“There have been some developments and we would like to brief you all.” The first policeman says.
“l will call Blue, they are ten minutes away.” Cheryl says.
“Can I get you some coffee?” Heidi asks and serves the policeman and detective while they wait for the others.
“Shall I get Larry down? Will Katelyn be okay with Ocean and Jane for a bit?” Tad asks.
“We can update Larry after. I don’t want the kids coming down half way through this.” Mike says and Tad nods.
“What is happening? Is there news?” Ollie asks bursting in with Ella and Blue.
“This morning before the fire police investigated an apartment in the city that was rented in Lana’s name. They found accelerant, maps of the area and other incriminating evidence. We are trying to find her. However, there were no signs that a woman had lived there. There were no female clothes and no one we questioned had ever seen a woman enter. We did find evidence that suggested a man lived there and the forensic team is in there now. This afternoon’s fire whilst devastating for al’ of you means we have a far easier time getting judges to agree to what we need.” The detective says.
“So you don’t suspect any of us and you think Lana is being set up.” Blue says.
“She could be paying someone to do it. We won’t close any avenues. But yes all of you have alibis and from what we know from the original investigation there is nothing to suggest it was insurance fraud. Clara you are also no longer under suspicion but we would prefer you stay in the area or at least in contact.” The detective says.
“Momma could have paid someone to set up Lana.” Blue says with a small smile, Clara catches his eye and grins at him, knowing her son is on his way to forgiving her.
“Yes, yes, and so could you. You mother has fully cooperated and her accountant and lawyer have been incredibly helpful. If she is paying someone off then she really is hiding it well.” The detective says.
Bea suddenly runs cold.
“The only person who would want to set up mom is dad.” Bea says in the smallest voice, before running to the bathroom and throwing up. It all makes sense and it is all her fault.
Clara runs after her and holds Bea’s hair and rubs her back.
“It isn’t your fault. If it was Paul or Lana or both of them it was not your fault. You know this. You know that they make their own choices. What they have done to you, to each other, none of that was your fault.” Clara repeats over and over trying to calm Bea down as she can’t stop retching.
Blue is filling the police in on what he knows of Paul. He suggests they talk to Chris who will be most able to track him down. And goes with the police to meet him from work.
“So much for your birthday.” Andy says to Gervais on the way home.
“It was amazing until the fire. It was just the day I needed.” Gervais says.
“It helped me let go of my parents too. Are you feeling okay?” Andy asks.
“I am. It felt right. That funeral we had for my dad was just a blur for me, I wasn’t with it at all. Today felt good. What happened to your real dad? I feel like I know nothing about you, before you met Spence.” Gervais says.
“He left when mom was pregnant with Katelyn. I don’t remember him. To be honest I don’t even know if that guy was my dad too. I’m kind of embarrassed about that. For years I said he was dead because it stopped the questions.” Andy says.
“I’m not offended, if you do say that. I mean he might as well be, he even could be.” Gervais says. “We both have more family now than we ever dreamed. We’re going to find you your Mr. Right and the six of us will be family, bringing our kids up together.” Andy says.
“Eight of us. If you include Robin and whoever he ends up with.” Gervais says.
“Is it bad I always think of Robin as a friend and not family. I mean he has an amazing blood family that we all envy.” Andy says.
“I feel the same sometimes. But he and Blue are so close and his mom always feels like family to me, all she has done for me.” Gervais says.
“Oh for sure. She is the best.” Andy smiles.
“How are you managing without Spence?” Gervais asks once they get back home. The pair are relaxing in the hammock together.
Bea has gone with Clara for the night, it is clear whatever Clara has done she is who Bea needs right now.
Blue is still with the police and Chris, so it is just the two of them.
“I miss him horribly. I’m delaying telling him about today though, he’ll worry so much. I really want him to focus on what he’s doing and get the most out of his time away.” Andy says.
“You two are so secure this time round. It is so lovely to see you being your best selves together. I wish….” Gervais says and stops.
“You wish you’d had your shot with Blue with you both on an even keel.” Andy says.
“I don’t wish he wasn’t with Will.” Gervais says.
“You don’t have to say it out loud, not again. We love Blue in a way that will never be truly platonic and that is okay. I can still love Spence fully.” Andy says.
“This is a big year. We’re college seniors. Business owners. We’re really transitioning from student to adult this summer. I mean I might be a student for longer but you know what I mean.” Gervais says.
“I’ll be getting married next year. Running my business here, getting on with Abby’s farm and creating the restaurant. Let’s go and look at those options for the barn conversion. Spence’s house sale will be through soon.” Andy says.
“I am not even going to ask how much.” Gervais grins.
“Isn’t it funny how the more Spence has the less arrogant he is about it?” Andy says.
“That is so true. Although I think not trying to live up to family expectations changed him more than the money. He has two passions in life, you and coaching and he knows he doesn’t need anything else.” Gervais says.
“I got lucky.” Andy says.
“You did. Now you all have to help me find someone.” Gervais grins.
“You are ready. This weekend will be fun. We need to shake off today.” Andy says.
“We do. Come on lets look at these designs. Are you thinking of putting off the restaurant because of Katelyn?” Gervais asks.
“No, I will find them somewhere. There are buildings on Abby’s farm that could be converted, I need to understand what we need, but I think the old stone built outbuildings are not for my needs and I want new stores built you know?” Andy says.
“Okay then let’s have a think and look up other conversions online.” Gervais says getting the papers out.
The pour over them and go through ideas together. Andy shows photos of the buildings and they come up with ideas for themselves and for the others.
“Wow, I’d love a place like that.” Chris says coming in.
Andy and Gervais jump up and hug Blue who looks utterly exhausted.
“You are never, ever going to live on my land.” Andy grins and then hugs Chris too knowing he must be going through a difficult jumble of feelings.
“Ugh you guys are going to forgive me some day.” Chris says.
“Well helping the police track down your parents certainly helps raise my opinion of you.” Blue says.
“Least I could do. Now where is the beer? We need to finally toast Gervais legally.” Chris says.