Castle Roland

Three Hearts

by Andrew Todd


Chapter 5

Posted: N/A

Three Hearts


Andrew Todd

Chapter 5

Brice stood in the doorway grinning at Cody and Justin who had retreated to opposite sides of the king-sized bed.

"B-Brice, it's not what it looks like," Cody stumbled as he blushed bright red.

Brice laughed and nodded. "Yes, it is," he laughed. "It's exactly what it looks like and it's ok."

Cody and Justin both looked at him quizzically.

Brice walked towards the bed. Seeing that the others had stripped to their skivvies, he pulled his jersey over his head and unbuckled his belt. His jeans dropped to the floor and after removing his socks he stood at the foot of the bed wearing nothing but a pair of midnight-blue bikini briefs.

Brice crawled up on the bed and sat in the center. He gestured for Cody and Justin to join him.

Both boys sat up and scurried to the center of the bed. All three boys sat Indian-style so they formed a rough triangle.

"I should have said something sooner," Brice sighed. "But, now it seems you both know."

"Know what?" Justin asked.

"Now you each know that the other is gay and you already both knew about me. So that secret is history."

"You knew about him?" both boys blurted at the same time.

Brice grinned and nodded. He looked at Justin. "What I was doing with you," he said as he turned to Cody, "I was doing with him."

"So you were playing us?" Cody said with a hurt look on his face.

Brice looked into Cody's deep brown eyes and shook his head. "No, Cody. I wasn't playing you. If I was or if I had it in me to do that, this would have been so much easier. I could have given in to both of you instead of putting you both off."

Justin looked at Brice. "You mean, you and Cody didn't..."

"No, I didn't do any more with him than I did with you," Brice said. "And I was honest with both of you when I said I wanted to take things slow. I was so afraid of hurting either one of you. If I had been in love with one of you then it would have been easier."

"You aren't..." Cody choked, tears starting in his eye." You aren't in love with either of us?"

Brice shook his head and looked down at his hands. "No," he whispered. "I'm in love with both of you." He looked up, tears brimming his eyes. Cody and Justin were in the same shape. "I think I've been in love with both of you since the first day of school. Then things started to happen. When Justin made his move on me, I thought it was great that one of the guys I liked, liked me that way. Then the next day, things started with Cody. That's when I knew I was screwed."

Cody and Justin both snickered through their tears.

"Yeah. You guys each had something that drew me to you," Brice sighed. "Justin, you are a man, you're gorgeous and hot, but when I see you with Bray you're so tender and sweet; and Cody, you're so funny and generous, but you're sensitive and you love with every fiber of your being. Together, you guys would make the perfect boyfriend. After what happened with Kevin, I never thought I would find a boyfriend, never mind two of the greatest guys I've ever met. I guess that's why I pushed so much for you to become friends. Part of it was selfish--maybe I could see a flaw in one of you and then it would be easier to make a decision. Then when you started to become friends, I was scared that I would lose you to each other."

"And now because we..." Cody started.

"No," Brice said. "That didn't change your feelings about me, did it?"

Cody shook his head. "No. I know it's wrong, but I understand your feelings. I think I'm starting to feel something for Justin as well, but I know how I feel about you."

Brice looked at Justin. "Jus?"

Justin shrugged. "Same here. I've been falling for you since that day in the locker room, but ever since the three of us started hanging out, my feelings have developed for Cody as well."

Cody looked at Brice and then to Justin. The tears still filled his eyes. He had an anguished expression on his face. He started to get off the bed.

"That's ok, guys," he mumbled. "I understand."

Brice grabbed him. "Where are you going?"

"I'll go sleep in the guest room or the den," Cody said quietly. "You guys are gonna end up together, so I'll just make it easier for you."

"Haven't you heard a word I've said?" Brice asked. "Or what Justin just said?"

"Sure, but you can't have both of us and eventually you're going to go with the hot guy."

Brice pulled Cody to him. "What makes you think you're not ‘the hot guy'?"

Cody blushed and looked at Brice with a mix of love and adoration. "I know the score. A guy like me always comes in second."

Brice grinned. "Actually, I'm thinking of it as a tie for first."

Justin smiled broadly, but Cody just looked more confused.

Justin slid closer to Brice and Cody and slipped his arm around Cody's waist.

The realization hit Cody. He looked from Brice to Justin.

"You mean, you want..." He couldn't get the words out.

Brice nodded. "It was driving me crazy, trying to figure out what I wanted. I wanted both of you, but kept telling myself I had to decide. Then someone gave me the idea that I shouldn't have to decide. That I could have both of you, but only if you both wanted me and each other."

"Whose idea was that?" Justin asked.

Brice chuckled. "Your brother's."


Brice nodded. "That day that we went to your grandparents', the first time Cody came. You left me and Brayden to ride while you went back to find Cody. Bray asked me if Cody was my boyfriend. I explained that he was my friend but I didn't have a boyfriend. He kept firing questions at me about you and Cody and me."

"It's what he's best at," Justin laughed.

"I know." Brice nodded. "Finally, he asked me why we couldn't all be boyfriends. I started to tell him ‘because', which I knew he wouldn't accept, but then you guys came riding up and he was distracted, but the idea stuck with me, especially after I saw the way you guys were bonding that afternoon. So over the last month or so, the dreams that I first had when I met you guys, which were always one-on-one, became dreams with all three of us."

Cody shook his head. "Yeah, but we can't do this."

"Who says?" Brice asked.

"People just don't do it this way."

"Cody, the people who tell us that we are only allowed to love one person at a time are the same ones who tell us, or at least used to tell us, that we aren't allowed to love someone of the same sex. We make the rules. I'm not talking about you and me and me and Justin, I'm talking about you and me and Justin."

"You want us to all..." Cody's voice tapered off as he blushed again.

"Well, that's part of it, but what I really want is for us to keep going the way we have been. Spending time together, having fun, loving each other, eventually building a life together. People at school already see us as a set, why deny that's what we want?" Brice looked at the two other boys. "Unless that's not what we want."

Justin smiled. "I'm in; I've never cared about what other people think about me. I think this was meant to be, everything that's happened since the first day of school--you guys meeting; me and Brice meeting; both of us falling for Brice. Cody: you and Jet--I swear that's was my uncle looking out for him and us."

Cody still had a confused look on his face. "I don't know. I love both of you guys I know that, but I don't see how this can work. Someone's gonna get hurt."

Brice took Cody's hand in his. "Cody, we're not going to get hurt, cuz we do all love each other; maybe it won't be easy and maybe some people will think we are nuts, but we'll be doing what's right for us." He held Cody's hand to his bare chest, then he grabbed Justin's hand and held it there are well; he nodded at Justin, who took Cody's other hand and placed it on his chest. Both Justin and Brice placed a hand on Cody's chest and Cody and Brice completed the circle by each placing a hand on Justin's chest.

"Feel that, Code," Brice said quietly. "Our hearts all in rhythm. All beating together. Shut your eyes. The heart wants what the heart wants. They are beating in sync to tell us this is right."

Brice leaned forward and kissed Cody gently on the lips. Then he turned and kissed Justin. He sat back and Justin leaned forward and kissed Cody.

The three separated.

Cody looked at both boys through hooded eyelids. "So, what are we gonna do now?"

Brice looked at him. "You mean, are we gonna have sex?"

Cody blushed, again and nodded.

Brice shook his head. "No, not yet."

Justin stared at Brice. "Why not?"

Cody just nodded.

"Look guys, if this was just about sex and getting off, I would have been rolling with both of you for the last two months," Brice said. "When I first got together with Kevin, I let him make me think we had to have sex. We had sex on our first date and we had it all the time after that and it didn't stop him from cheating on me with anything that moved. When we broke up and I thought back on where things went wrong, to me it was the sex. We jumped into it and made that the basis for our relationship. I thought I loved him and that he loved me, but he saw sex as ‘recreational' and not having anything to do with love. To me, it's all about love. Anyone can ‘get off'. Let's face it, we're three good-looking young guys; if all we wanted was sex, we could just drive into Boston and hook up at any number of places. But I know you guys and you're not looking for that any more than I am. You're looking for love and a real relationship. So, no, I'm not having sex with either of you." He grinned. "Yet. We're just now putting our cards on the table. Let's take this slow and see how things progress. We'll all know when it's right."

"So back to my original question, what do we do now?" Cody asked.

"We lay back and watch the movie and enjoy being together without any secrets between us," Brice answered.

Justin grinned and nodded. "Sounds good to me," he said as he laid back on the bed and dragged Brice with him. Brice grabbed Cody and pulled him down so he laid on the other side of Brice.

The boys stayed up most of the night watching movies, talking and laughing. The occasional kiss or grope was shared, but that was the extent of the ‘romance'.

Over the next month it became apparent to anyone who was paying attention that the dynamics of their relationship had changed.

Everyone had known that the three were friends, but they had gone from best friends to ‘Siamese triplets.' When second semester started, the three had made whatever schedule changes were necessary to make sure they were in as many classes together as they could.

Eventually, they had to explain to their parents what was going on. Brice's father was the first of the parents that they told. He was confused at first, but he knew that Brice was mature and was going to do what he wanted. As long as he was happy, David would support him and his partners.

After Christmas, they decided to tell Justin's parents next. Since they knew he was gay and thanks to Bray's big mouth long knew that he had a crush on Brice, it was easier to tell them than it would be to tell Cody's parents who he hadn't even come out to yet.

Justin's parents were a little apprehensive at first. His father, who was still adjusting to Justin's homosexuality, thought that the ‘big city boy' was trying to corrupt the ‘country boys'. Justin spent several long nights talking with his parents and finally got them to understand the dynamics of the relationship and that he was going into the situation with his eyes wide open.

A few weeks after they told Justin's parents, the boys finally geared up to speak with Cody's mother and father.

Right after the guys had made their commitment to each other, Cody had spilled everything to Ty. Ty had been a little taken aback by the whole three-way relationship, but when he saw how happy Cody was, he was happy for his older brother. He liked Brice a lot and knew that Justin was a good guy too.

Several times over the past month, the boyfriends and the brothers had gotten together. They would go to a movie or out to eat or just hang out at Justin's grandparents'. Brice and Justin both liked Ty a great deal and Ty got along great with all the boys including Brayden, who just loved being part of his big brother's life.

The last Friday in January, Cody had convinced his mother to let him invite Justin and Brice for dinner. He made sure Ty would be there as well for moral support.

Brice had met Cody and Ty's father a few times. He was the branch manager at the local Savings Bank and worked long hours. He had been very cordial to Brice and Justin the few times they had met. Cody's mom was always there when they dropped by and she was always very nice to Cody's friends.

The four boys and Cody's dogs were all huddled in Cody's room waiting to be called to dinner. Cody sat on the bed in between Brice and Justin. Both had an arm wrapped around Cody who was so nervous he was almost shaking.

"Cody, you need to calm down," Ty said seriously. "It's gonna be ok."

Cody looked at his brother like he had a third eye in the middle of his forehead. "How can you think this is gonna be alright? I'm gonna tell our parents that not only am I gay, but I have two boyfriends. They're gonna kill me and then throw me out."

Ty knelt in front of Cody. "Listen, dumb ass. You know that's bullshit. Have you ever heard either one of them ever say anything negative about anyone gay? You know damn well that Mom doesn't have a prejudiced bone in her body and Dad--he's out there every day in the community. He sees everyone; he's not going to throw you out." He grinned at Cody. "'Sides, what makes you think they are gonna be surprised that you are gay?"

Cody's eyes went wide. "They know?"

"They've never said anything to me, but think about it, Code, you've never dated, you've never had a girlfriend, look at your walls." He gestured to the movie posters around the room. "There are no bikini pics, no centerfolds." He laughed, "I don't think it's a big stretch to think they at least suspect."

Cody dropped his head into his hands and groaned.

Justin and Brice both rubbed his back and grinned at each other. While he was usually a laugh-a-minute kind of guy, Cody could also be a ‘drama queen' and a worrier. They both thought they knew Cody's parents well enough to know that Ty was right; they wouldn't have a problem with Cody being gay. They didn't know how they would react to their relationship though.

"Boys!! Dinner!!" they heard Cody's mother yell from downstairs.

Ty stood up and left the room. Brice and Justin stood on either side of Cody and each offered him a hand. He took their hands and they helped him stand up. First Brice and then Justin hugged Cody hard and offered him words of encouragement. Then the three went downstairs.

Dinner itself was fairly uneventful. They all talked about sports and plans for after graduation.

When they had finished eating, Ty took his foot and lightly kicked Cody's shin. Cody looked over at his brother who shifted his eyebrows towards their parents and nodded his head.

Cody paled and then cleared his throat. "Uhh...Mom...Dad...there's something I need to tell you."

Mr. and Mrs. McDonald both turned to give Cody their attention.

"Sure, Honey," Cody's mother said. "What is it?"

"Uhh..." Cody stammered as beads of sweat trickled down his forehead. "Umm..."

Cody's father had an amused look on his face. "Cody, just spit it out, it can't be that bad."

"Momdadi'mgay," he blurted out.

"What?" laughed Mrs. McDonald.

Cody exhaled slowly. "I'm gay," he repeated.

His parents looked at each other and grinned and then turned to look at him.

His mother stood up and started clearing the table. "See, that wasn't so hard, was it? Anyone want dessert?"

"Wait a second!!" Cody yelled. "I just told you I'm gay and you want to know if we want dessert?"

Cody glared at Ty, who raised his hands and said, "Wasn't me."

Mrs. McDonald came back and stood behind her husband. "Cody, we figured it out a long time ago, but we wanted you to be able to tell us when you were ready. It's not a big deal. It's who you are. We still love you."

Ty grinned at Cody. "See, I told you," he said.

"There's one more thing..." Cody started to say.

"You're in love with Brice..." his mother answered.

Cody nodded. "...and Justin..."

Mrs. McDonald put the dishes on the table and looked at the three boys. "And Brice and Justin, how do you feel?"

"The same," Brice answered. "I love Cody and I love Justin."

Justin nodded. "Me, too."

Mrs. McDonald sat back down and looked at Mr. McDonald who shrugged. "I guess we shouldn't be surprised. We figured from the first day you met Brice that you had a crush on him and then it became more and more clear that you loved him. When Justin started hanging out with you guys I guess we just ignored the obvious signs that there was something between all three of you." He looked from Justin to Brice to Cody. "Are you guys sure you want to do this? I think I can speak for your mother, of course; we love you, Cody; and Brice and Justin--you guys have become part of our family. But some people are not going to understand what you are doing."

Brice looked from Cody to Justin and then locked eyes with Cody's father. "Sir, we've discussed this a lot and you were the last set of parents that we had to tell about us. Luckily, we all have great and understanding parents, but we made a commitment to each other that if one of us got thrown out or disowned then the others would take him in. We made a commitment to each other that we would take this seriously and treat each other as equals. We love each other. This isn't a game or us trying to avoid commitment. As far as we are concerned, the three of us are in it for the long haul.

"My biggest fear when I met both these guys and started to fall in love with them was that I would hurt one of them if I had to choose the other. I probably never would have been able to make that choice. Luckily, I didn't, they felt the same way. I know some people will think what we are doing is wrong, but, like I told Cody, those same people used to (or still do) tell us that we are wrong to love anyone of the same sex. We're not trying to convert anyone or start a trend, we're doing what we think is going to work for us."

Mrs. McDonald rose from her chair without saying a word. She walked over to where the three boys were sitting and hugged each one of them from behind.

"Well, if my son had to fall in love with two boys, I'm glad it's two boys who love him as much as you both do," she said.

Mr. McDonald grinned. "I agree."

Cody exhaled loudly and slumped down in his chair while Ty laughed at his brother's antics.

Once football season had ended, Justin decided to forgo any more sports and instead spent the remainder of his senior year focusing on his relationship with Brice and Cody and working to get into college.

Justin knew he was a good football player, but not good enough to get a scholarship and he really didn't want to play at the college level anyway.

The three decided that they would all apply to the University of New Hampshire as their first choice and then to a number of small New England colleges as backups.

One afternoon in mid-March, Brice arrived home to find a rather thick envelope waiting for him. The return address was UNH. He excitedly called Justin and Cody. They had both received the same envelope.

They quickly agreed that Justin would run over to pick up Cody and they would meet at Brice's house and open them together.

About thirty minutes after he hung up the phone, Brice heard Justin's truck coming up the driveway.

Justin and Cody jumped out of the truck and both came right into the house carrying their envelopes.

The three stood in the kitchen looking at each other.

"Ok," Brice finally said. "We all agree, it's all or nothing, right?"

Justin nodded. "If one of us doesn't get in then none of us are going."

"Yup," Cody grunted.

"Do we open them all together or one at a time?" he asked.

"Together," Brice said.

Each took their envelope and tore it open. They each pulled out a letter and scanned it quickly.

Brice looked up with a grin.

Justin looked up, his eyes wide.

Cody looked up and nodded.

The three grabbed each other in a big hug and danced around the room with Milo barking and jumping up on them.

"Ok!! Ok!!" Brice said. "We need to tell our parents. My dad won't be home until late, so let's hit Justin's first and then Cody's and then we can come back here and celebrate till my dad gets home."

The three ran out the door and made the rounds. They made a third stop at Justin's grandparents' house to tell them the good news. That was their longest stop, because Cody had to sneak out to the barn and say hello to Jet.

Justin's parents and grandparents as well as Cody's parents were happy that the boys were all going to go to college together and that they would be close to home at UNH.

The boys stopped to pick up some pizzas and then went back to Brice's house to celebrate and wait for Brice's father.

The boys were up in Brice's room watching a movie when they heard David's car in the driveway.

"Come on," Brice said as he rolled off the bed and headed out the door. Cody and Justin ran after him and they were all downstairs waiting when David walked in the door.

David took in the three boys looking at him anxiously and all smiling brightly. Each boy was standing with one hand behind their back.

"Ok, who did what to whom?" he asked wearily.

"Actually, Dad, we have some good news," Brice said cheerily. "We already told Cody's parents and Justin's parents and grandparents and the guys wanted to be here when I told you."

"Told me what?"

Brice, Justin and Cody all pulled their acceptance letters out from behind their backs.

"We all got accepted to UNH!!" Brice exclaimed.

David grabbed the letter from Brice and looked at it quickly. He grabbed his son and hugged him hard. He then hugged Justin and Cody.

David smiled. "I'm very proud of you guys. UNH is a good school and it's terrific that you are going together."

"It's awesome," Cody said.

David started walking towards the living room. "Guys, come in here for a minute, there's something I've been thinking about that I want to discuss with you."

Justin and Cody looked at Brice questioningly and Brice just shrugged in response.

The three boys walked into the living room and all sat on the couch opposite the recliner David was seated in.

"Guys," David started, grinning at them. "Don't worry, this is a good thing. I was just curious if you had given any thought to what you're gonna do about your living situation."

"Well, we're gonna room together," Brice answered.

"I know you want to, but there is no guarantee for freshman that you would be roommates or even in the same dorm." The boys started to protest, but David raised his hand to silence them. "Look, when I bought this house, I didn't realize what the commute to and from Boston was going to be like. As it is, I spend more nights staying in the city than I do here. What I'm thinking is that I'd like to put this house on the market after you graduate and then get a condo in the city."

Brice was lost. "What does that have to do with our living situation at school?"

"Well, I was thinking that we could look for a house for you guys in Durham or in one of the towns around the campus. That way you could have a place to live year-round, have some privacy and, honestly, not be subject to the campus life."

"You'd do that for us?" Cody asked.

"Sure, I would," David nodded. "Guys, I'd do anything for Brice. I've been very successful and I've tried my damndest to spoil Brice, but he never lets me; now you guys are like sons to me and I want to spoil you, too. And a house is a good investment. If you like it you could stay there when you finish school or we could sell it or keep it as a rental property."

"That sounds great, Dad," Brice said.

"Yeah, it does," Justin agreed. "Thanks."

Cody smiled big. "You know what that means?"

"What?" Brice asked.

"We can take the dogs with us!" Cody exclaimed.

Justin, Brice and David all busted out laughing.

"You're more worried about the dogs than us, aren't you?" Justin asked.

"Well, not ‘more'," Cody answered sheepishly.

"Well, I'm sure we can find something not too far from campus but with a big enough yard for your dogs," David said. "I would make one suggestion, though."

"What's that?" Brice asked.

"I would get at least four bedrooms."


"You guys should each have your own space. Even if you are planning on sharing a room between the three of you, it doesn't hurt to have a place you can retreat to, especially when you have homework and projects to work on. And if you guys aren't looking to go ‘public' with your relationship, you will just look like housemates to the outside world."

"You're right, Dad," Brice said. "We really don't care what people think about us and our relationship, but we don't need to advertise it either. And we all have so much stuff that each having personal space would probably be a good idea."

"Well, that's settled," David said standing up from his chair. "I'm heading to bed. Monday morning I'll start having my realtor look for a house."

The spring semester flew by for the boys. They spent every day of April vacation looking at houses with the realtor that David had hired. Friday, David took the day off and the boys showed him their three ‘finalists'.

After spending the day, David took the three boys out to dinner so they could discuss their choices.

When they were seated, David grinned at the boys. "Now, I know I told you guys that I wanted you to narrow down the options and then we'd look them over again, but do we even need to discuss this?"

Brice, Justin and Cody all started laughing and shaking their heads.

David joined them in laughing.

Two of the houses they had looked at were nice and would suit the boys' needs, but the last one the boys took him to was obviously the one they favored and David couldn't disagree.

It was a two-story farmhouse on ten acres. It was well-maintained, had four bedrooms and three baths, a wrap-around porch and a barn attached to the house. There was a small pond behind the house and it was very secluded. The house was about a half-hour drive to the UNH campus so it was far enough away for the boys to have a life away from school, but close enough that they could get to classes and other school-related activities.

"Well, that was easy. I'll call the realtor in the morning and make an offer."

After some back and forth between David and the sellers, his offer was accepted and the boys were ready for graduation and the move.

The boys graduated the second Saturday in June. Since all their families wanted to hold parties for them, Justin's grandfather offered the use of his farm for one big party. There was plenty of room for people and it was warm enough that people could swim in the river if they wanted.

The party lasted all afternoon and late into the evening.

After most everyone had left, the boys were comparing notes on the ‘loot' they had received for graduation.

Cody's parents had bought him a year-old Jeep Wrangler, so that he would have transportation of his own when he left for college. They gave Brice and Justin gift cards to the Rockingham Mall.

All three had assumed the house was David's gift to them, but he also told Justin and Cody that he had added them to Brice's credit card accounts and gave them each a set of the cards.

Cody and Justin were floored, since to them it was sign of acceptance and trust from Brice's father.

David had also made arrangements to rent a cottage for the boys in York Beach, Maine for the week starting on Sunday.

Justin's parents gave each of the boys $500.00 with the instructions that it was to be spent ‘frivolously' while they were at the beach.

The boys were getting ready to leave when Justin's grandfather walked up to them carrying three wrapped boxes.

"I have one more thing for you boys," he said as he handed them the boxes.

Justin shook his head. "Grandpa, you already gave us this great party, you didn't have to do anything else."

"Well, I did, so go ahead and open them," Joe laughed.

The boys each tore the wrapping off their box and opened them. Inside each box was a halter and lead. Brice's was dark green with the name ‘Saber' embroidered on it. Justin's was red with name ‘Mo' embroidered on it and Cody's was bright blue with the name ‘Jet' on it.

Each of the boys looked curiously at Joe.

"What?" Justin asked as he held the bridle.

"Your grandmother and I talked and we figure we have maybe one more winter in us up here and then we need to think about heading south, at least part time," Joe explained. "We could sell the horses, but knowing how much fun you guys have with them, I wanted to have you boys take them. When you told us about the new house, it all fell together. Since you have the land and the barn, now you'll have the horses to put in it."

Brice and Justin grinned at each other; they both enjoyed the horses and knew that they would have fun with them and riding was something they all liked doing together. They both looked at Cody who stood there stunned with tears rolling down his cheeks. He stepped forward and hugged Joe tightly.

"Thank you," he whispered as he hugged Joe.

Joe grinned and hugged him back. "You're welcome, Cody. And thank you."

Cody looked at Joe curiously. "For what?"

"For bringing Jet back to us," Joe said. "He was Denny's pride and joy and it makes both of us happy to know he's going with someone who loves him just as much as Denny did."

"Bray's not gonna be happy though," Justin laughed.

"Well, we'll just have Ty bring him up every so often," Brice said.

They had already decided that the fourth bedroom in the house would be the ‘brothers'' room. Brice had ordered a bunk bed for the room that was a double bed on the bottom and standard-sized bed on the top.

"At least he can't drive himself," Justin said. "Otherwise we would never get rid of him."

"Well, once we get settled, before classes start, we'll have him come up for a few days."

Brice and Justin each hugged Joe and thanked him for the party and the horses. Then all three boys left for home. They were each spending the night at their own houses and would meet in the morning to drive to Maine.

They had decided to take Brice's car. They wanted to spend a few days--just the three of them. Ty, who had recently turned sixteen, would drive Cody's Jeep up on Thursday so he and Brayden could spend a couple days there.

They couldn't get into the cottage until noon, so they decided to leave about 9:30 so they could stop at a grocery store to load up on provisions for the week.

Brice loaded up his duffle bag into his car and whistled for Milo. Milo was going to stay at Cody's house so Ty could take care of him and Cody's dogs. Cody's mom would look after them when Ty came up to Maine.

Brice stopped at Cody's house first. Cody and Ty were waiting outside with Cody's dogs. Milo jumped out of the car as soon as Brice opened the door and ran over to his ‘buddies'. The four dogs took off for the backyard.

Ty helped Cody and Brice load Cody's stuff and then they went to pick up Justin.

Justin was waiting for them at his house. Brayden sat next to him on the front porch steps pouting and scowling.

"Hey, Bray!!" Brice called as he got out of the car.

Brayden scowled at him.

Justin smacked his little brother on the arm. "Keep it up, Bray, and Ty will be coming up by himself."

"But I wanna go now!!" Brayden whined.

"You can't, Bray," Justin said. "This is a trip for me and Brice and Cody. Ty's gonna bring you up on Thursday. We'll be able to swim in the ocean and go play at the Fun-O-Rama. But only if you are good. Ok?"

Brayden looked at him as if he would cry. "Ok," he pouted.

Justin pulled Brayden onto his lap and hugged his little brother tight. "It'll be here before you know it," he told Brayden as he released him. "Now, go say hi to Brice and Cody," he instructed.

Brayden turned around and ran over to hug Brice and Cody. Brice and Cody grinned as they hugged the little boy in return. They both knew that Brayden was going to have the hardest time adjusting to Justin moving away. They all loved the little boy so they were committed to making sure he got to see Justin as much as possible.

Justin gave Brayden a final hug and kiss goodbye and left him sitting on the porch steps as they loaded into the car and took off for Maine.

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