Castle Roland

Feel, Don't Think

by Michael Kyle-Ducharme

In Progress

Chapter 29

Posted: 2 Apr 15

The next night, Marcus and I let Hunter and Danni get ready for the party first. After all, the Diva takes more time to primp. Marcus and I were getting dressed in the bedroom, when I heard a knock at the door. I went to answer it, but then I could hear Danni talking.

"Come in, come in. How are you doing tonight?"

"I'm okay. Are you sure this isn't an imposition. I mean these guys don't even know me."

Hunter spoke up, "Jared, trust me. Marcus and Tony are amazing. You'll have a great time tonight and meet a bunch of new people. Just relax and be yourself. Believe me; the Diva here knows what she's doing."

I heard a giggle, and then ice clinking in a glass.

Marcus gave me a hug. "Babe, you look great. Are you ready for some fun?"

"Yeah, but I'm also thinking about not seeing these two for a while. I'm a little bummed." I said as I lay my head on his shoulder.

"Hey, don't think about it that way. I thought we had this worked out. Danni is about to embark on his dream. This is a celebration. We can think about that stuff on Sunday when we put them on the train."

"You're right. Kiss me and let's get this party started."

"That's better. Love you."

"Love you more."

Hunter and Danni were sitting on the couch chatting with someone whose back was turned to us. As we approached him, Jared turned around.

Danni was right; he looked about thirteen to me. He had dirty blonde hair and bright green eyes. I watched as he wiped his hand on his pants before sticking out to shake Marcus's outstretched one.

"You must be Jared. I'm Marcus Taylor and this is my fianc, Anthony Wallace. Welcome to our home."

"I'm Jared Banks. Thank you for inviting me. It's a lovely place."

He looked ready to jump out of his own skin. All twitchy and nervous, he stuck his hand towards me.

"Hello Jared, my friends call me Tony. I'm so glad you could join us. Since you met the Diva and the Director first, you'll find the rest of us slightly more down to earth."

Again, there was the start of a giggle from Jared.

"Seriously with the dissing, Marcus that man of yours needs an attitude adjustment. Now Jared... "

"Please call me JB or just J, that's what my friends call me."

I jumped in, "Perfect, so tonight you are going to meet a few of our friends. All we ask of you is to be yourself, don't take anyone too serious, and relax a little. Hmmm, sounds like the advice someone gave me a while ago." I kissed Marcus. "The guys are great, and even the lesbians are fun." I smiled.

Danni jumped off the couch. "Don't let Amy and Fran hear you say that. Amy will be on you instantly. But J, Tony is right just relax and be yourself. I promise Marcus and Tony are the best people you could ever have on your side."

Marcus said, "Ok, time to start this party. Let's take the Lexus; we are all coming back here after Amy and Fran's anyway. Let's see what our hostess has come up with tonight."

We arrived at Amy's before anyone else. The minute Fran saw Jared; she swooped in like a mother hen.

"Who is this young man? Don't even try to tell me this is the person renting your place Danni; with that face you can't be a college student." Fran pinched his cheek."Heck, I'd be guessing junior high... What's your name, Sugar?"

"Jared, but my friends call me J."

"Well J, welcome to Amy's Small Plates, I'm Fran; Ms 'Large and in Charge.' Anything you need just ask. Make sure you eat up; you could use a little meat on those bones.

"Okay, Marcus, you are set up here in the front corner. Annabelle will be taking care of y'all tonight. She's a peach and the best we have. She will start bringing food out in about half an hour. She'll also be getting drinks from the bar. All you need to do is tip her, Sugar."

"You and your wife better be joining us."

"Not to worry, my sweetie will be out here soon. She's just wrapping a few things up in the kitchen."

Slowly the rest of the party arrived at the restaurant. J hung near Marcus and me as we introduced him to our friends and Danni's guests. He and I made small talk. He seemed like a nice kid, but was still a bundle of nerves.

When Scott and Justin arrived, J began to talk to Justin without an introduction.

"I'm J. It's nice to meet you, thank you for your service; Marines?"

"Yes, eight years active and four so far reserves. How did you know? I'm Justin, by the way."

"My father was a Marine. He was nineteen years in when he was killed in Bagdad five years ago. You carry yourself like he did."

"I'm sorry for your loss. Thank you for your sacrifice."

Justin grabbed onto J and wrapped him in a hug. I had tears in my eyes watching. J seemed to be fighting back tears while hiding his face against Justin's shoulder. After just a moment, J pulled himself together and wiped off his face.


In a gesture I would never have expected from him, Scott pulled J into a hug.

"You must be the kid who is renting Danni's place. Stick with us we will take care of you."

Keith was standing in the background. He must have seen the interaction between Justin and J. He brushed past me and walked up to J.

Keith stuck out his hand. "It's very nice to meet you. I'm Keith James. I understand you are taking Danni's apartment. I'm a grad student at the university."

J stood there looking stunned. "It's nice to meet you too."

They stood for a moment just holding the handshake. Then, after lingering for a long time looking at each other, Keith started babbling.

"I lost my Dad to cancer four years ago." Keith stammered. "Can I get you a soda or something? What are you studying at school? "

I couldn't have planned it better if I had been trying. I knew Keith and J shared the loss of their father and the university, but it hadn't occurred to me Justin and Jared would have so much in common, too. The four of them moved to one of the tables and started chatting away.

Annabelle started delivering Amy's creations and drinks. Initially I thought I would keep an eye on J, but with Justin and Scott already taking him under their wings, it didn't seem necessary.

I started moving around the room and found Hunter standing alone.

"Hunter, have you even eaten at a place like this before? There must be restaurants in the City that do this sort of thing."

"I'm sure there are, but I never considered it. There are some incredible flavors in these dishes. This cranberry phyllo thing is unreal, and so is the spinach one. Danni and I may need to hit a place or two like this on the road."

"Speaking of Danni, where is the Diva?"

"I think the gruesome threesome is reminiscing over at that table."

I heard laughing. Marcus, Danni, Fran, and Amy were all at a table together. Hunter and I walked over to join them.

"Well you have to admit, the two of you going to the prom together was priceless." Danni chuckled.

"You two went to the prom together; as in a real date? I mean you all knew you were gay back then right?" Fran looked stunned. "Did you do the whole prom thing? I mean dinner, limo, staying up all night?"

Marcus smiled, "Why Miss Fran, you sound a little jealous. I can assure you I was a complete gentleman. I think the highlight of the night was the punch Amy threw just before midnight."

"Oh my god, I completely forgot she decked Steve Johnson. That was unbelievable." Danni smiled.

Fran leaned over the table for her drink. "Okay, I need to hear the whole story. This sounds too funny, even for you three."

Hunter and I found chairs and joined the group. Marcus got a little red-faced when he saw my smile.

"Well, Amy and I had been joking about going to the prom for a couple of weeks. We weren't out in high school, but we had been friends for so long we could be ourselves with each other."

Danni jumped in, "It also helped that you tried dating as freshmen and when it failed miserably I was there to clue you both in."

"Well, we would have gotten there eventually." Marcus grinned. "But any way, we finally decided we didn't want to miss the prom. Plus, we loved mocking the kids who got so serious about things. We figured we could just hang out, joke about the cheerleaders and jocks, and maybe have some fun dancing."

Amy continued, "We were dancing and laughing and having a really good time when they were about to announce the prom court. Well, we were already joking about how upset Sue Kingsley would be if she wasn't made queen of the prom. It was a given she and Steve would be crowned that night. Well, Steve was made king, and Marcus was elected to the court."

"That all by itself had the two of us in hysterics." Marcus added.

"Why? You had to be one of the hottest guys in school."

"Thanks, Babe. But we were definitely second tier in high school. Neither of us played the game. I mean we didn't fit in with the jocks and cheerleaders. We were band geeks with brains, and gay; But back to the story... "

"When Marcus was elected to the court, he turned to me and said, 'This night would be complete if you were elected queen.' Well no sooner were the words out of his mouth... "

Danni burst out laughing, "Amy was elected queen and Sue didn't even make it on the court. Apparently, she didn't have as many friends as she thought. I mean to be honest Amy looked fabulous that night, and really was the best choice for queen. But the real fun began when the prom court started dancing together."

"Yeah, well we all know you were the real the queen of the prom, not me."

Danni smiled, "That might have been true, but finish the story."

"I was forced to dance with Mary Sumner, Sue's best friend. She kept buzzing in my ear about how she couldn't believe what happened to Sue. Frankly, she was grating on my nerves.

"Amy, on the other hand, didn't even want to acknowledge her election." Marcus explained.

"Marcus dragged me up to the front. Frankly, I had visions of the movie 'Carrie'. I expected the joke to be on me. I actually looked up to make sure there wasn't a bucket of something hanging over my head."

Hunter and I burst out laughing.

Marcus continued, "Well, the theme song for the prom started and the court was slowly dancing. I gave Amy a huge grin and winked at her as we danced near each other. I tried to convince Mary to switch partners. I was sick of listening to her and I figured she would jump at the chance to dance with Steve the stud. As we moved over towards the king and queen, SLAM. Steve was on the ground and Amy had her hand clenched in a fist."

"The bastard kept trying to feel up my ass and my boobs. I warned him twice, on the third attempt I decked him."

Marcus continued, "At that moment, everything stopped. Amy stood over the star quarterback and laughed a maniacal laugh. 'I told you to keep your hands off my... '."

"Fucking tits," Amy burst out. "Yeah, that's what I said. I'm sure most of the girls in the room would have been thrilled that Steve was trying to get in their bra on the dance floor. But, he had been warned."

"It was historic. The king of the prom knocked on his ass by the queen." Danni laughed.

"As it turns out, I comforted Steve later on that night after Sue took off with his best friend. Frankly, he was such a bad kisser it's a wonder she stayed around for as long as she did. But he did have a nice set of arms and a really big... "

Hunter hit his arm.

"Chest, I was going to say chest. Mary really didn't win any big prizes when she landed that boy."

I couldn't hold back any longer.

"So, let me be sure I'm clear on the events of the night. As a joke, you and Amy go to prom together. You get elected to court and Amy was made queen. Then, she decked the king because he was trying to feel her up, and Danni scored with him after his girlfriend ran off with his best friend. Seriously, you expect us to believe this."

Marcus got a serious look on his face. "Babe, you can't make this shit up. Honestly, I didn't know about Danni and Steve until months later when we saw the engagement announcement for him and Mary. Danni laughed and said he was the worst kisser ever."

"Frankly, he still is the worst kisser I ever met."

Hunter smiled and said, "Well, I think he ultimately wins that title if I have anything to say about it. I hope your comparison shopping days are over."

"Fortunately, I got it good now. Plus, you have a much bigger... "

"DANNI... us lesbians could care less about the size of Hunter's... ears." We all laughed. "Seriously, though, where were you that you ended up with Steve that night? I never heard that part of the story." Amy asked.

"Well, long story short, there was an after party down the street from my house. The Warner twins' father was out of town on business, and their mother was trying to be the cool Mom. I was heading home when Steve and Sue had it out on the front lawn. He was sitting there with his head in his hands. He needed a shoulder to cry on and there I was. We were walking down the street when I actually snuck him into my basement. He played drunk, but I knew he really wasn't.

"I think he and Mary started dating the next day; they were pregnant before the summer was over and married that fall. Last I heard they have six kids and are still married. But we will always have prom night... " Danni looked all misty-eyed.

Marcus and Amy burst out laughing. Hunter and I just shook our heads.

"I'm afraid to ask what other adventures you three had in high school. However, right now, I think we need to move this party back to the condo. Let me settle up with Annabelle. I'll round everyone up and meet you at the car."

As I walked around the restaurant letting everyone know it was time to change venues, Keith took me aside. He had an odd look on his face.

"Tony, can you ride with me to the condo? I need to talk to you for a minute."

"Sure, if you don't mind making a stop on the way. Is everything okay?"

"I just don't know how... what to do... I never... Fuck, I just need some advice. Please."

"Absolutely, just let me tell Marcus what's going on."

Marcus was getting his jacket on, talking with Annabelle.

"There you are. I was looking for you to settle up. Thank you for all your hard work tonight. You were amazing." I gave her a kiss on the cheek.

"It was a pleasure. It's great to see the bosses laughing and having fun. You guys are super."

I handed Annabelle two hundred dollar bills and thanked her again.

"I can't accept this. It's way too much. It's only been a couple of hours."

"You put up with all the crazies here and missed out on tips from the all these tables. Please it's the least we can do. Trust me you earned it."

"Thank you so much." Annabelle said as she gave me a hug.

"Babe, have you let everyone know the party is on the move?"

"Yeah, but Keith asked me to ride back to the condo with him. Something is going on. Do you mind? I'll stop and get the cake."

"Sure that's a good idea. Babe, what do you think's up?"

"I don't know, but he seems all befuddled or something. Not to worry, he wants to talk so that's a good thing. I promise we'll be right behind you."

Marcus gave me a kiss, "Hurry home. I think Amy and Danni are just getting started airing my dirty laundry from high school."

"Oooo, I don't think I want to miss any of that."

"Okay, smart ass; I'll see you at home. Love ya."

"Love you more."

Keith and I walked to his Jeep. He started it up and pulled out of the parking lot. He drove in silence for a moment.

"Tony, I need your advice. I'm not sure how to handle this. It's never happened to me before."

"Talk to me. You have me confused. What is this all about? Did you get bad news tonight?"

"Oh god no... Just the opposite... Jared... I don't know what to do about him."

"I thought I talked you out of letting that asshole in your life. What the hell?"

"No, I mean J. He's unbelievable. Smart, funny, cute as hell... I never met anyone like him. I don't know how to do this. It's going to sound all conceited but usually guys chase after me. They usually just want one night, though. I never met anyone I wanted to... chase. I don't know what to do."

"Really? That's awesome."

"Yeah, but how do I do this? How do I let him know how I feel without scaring him off? He's so new to being out. I'm so afraid to screw this up. I want to get to know him, but I don't want to just be friends. Although being just friends would be okay. No, it wouldn't be enough, but what if he's not ready to be serious. God, I'm a basket case and I just met him. Fuck, I don't know what to do." He babbled.

"Wow, I've never seen this side of you. First thing you need to do is relax. Just be yourself, talk to him, and ask him out."

"Just like that ask him out? What if he says no, then what?"

I thought for a minute. I really wasn't sure I was the person to ask.

"Look, I'm not sure I'm the best person to be giving out advice in this situation. I'm such a sucker for love and people getting together... But, I hate games and I think most people do. Besides how could he say no to such a nice guy? I just think you need to have a talk with him. I'm not saying lay your heart out there. Ask him for coffee this week and just have a conversation. If that goes well, ask him out for dinner and a movie or go to the arcade in the mall or ice skating at the city rink. Don't push things too hard, but make it clear you are interested in getting to know him. The worst case is he's not interested and then you'll know, but I'm pretty sure he was very much enjoying talking to you earlier."

Keith grinned. "Thanks, Tony. You're right. I just have to think how I'd feel in his shoes. Geez, I'm freaking out over a guy I have spent a total of two hours with. This is so high school. I need to chill. I just haven't been this excited about meeting someone in a really long time. Thanks for helping. Would it be okay if I use you to keep me grounded?"

"Naturally, I'm really excited for you. Just be you and it will all be good. As Fran would say, 'Don't fret, Sugar.' "

Keith burst out laughing. "Maybe when you go to Noah's later, I could ask J to go for coffee then. I mean he can't get into the club yet anyway."

"Excellent, just relax and take it slow. I'm certainly not an expert and everyone is different, but jumping right into bed hasn't worked for you so far. Plus, the getting to know someone part can really be fun. Let things flow naturally, don't try to force it."

"Yeah, I'm way ahead of you on that part. Thanks.

"Do you need me to go in with you to help with the cake?"

"No, just open up the back of the Jeep we can lay it out back there."

We arrived back at the condo just about the same time as Jen and Sarah arrived. I had texted Jen to let her know we were leaving Amy and Fran's.

Jen gave me a hug as Keith retrieved the cake from the Jeep.

"Sorry we are late, I got stuck in surgery. Emergency appendectomy... I actually did the surgery myself. That was wicked amazing."

"Holy Shit, congratulations; that is awesome. You aren't regretting going into pediatrics are you?"

"Not at all, it was great to know I could do it. But, I will be glad when this rotation is over. Sarah is the cutter not me."

"Well you missed a good night at Amy and Fran's place. The food was incredible and the stories, well let's just say, unbelievable. But, I'm guessing there are more tales to be told."

We found everyone hanging around the table in the dining area. Amy had take out containers from the restaurant. I had Keith put the cake on the kitchen counter. He immediately started looking around the room. When he got a glimpse of J, he smiled and joined Scott, Justin and J in a conversation. He noticed me watching and nodded.

I walked up behind Marcus and pulled him into a hug. He gave me a questioning look. I grinned and whispered in his ear things were good.

"I'll tell you about it later Hon, but it's all good. There is some serious crush action happening. Keith just wanted a little grounding."

"Yeah, one look at him and J and you could tell something's up. I just hope Keith doesn't push too hard; he's way ahead of J in the being out reality."

"I know. I told him to take it slow and enjoy the getting to know you part. And not to jump into bed right away... "

"Good advice." He gave me a kiss and pulled me in for a hug.

Marcus and I were moving towards the dining room table when we heard Fran chatting with Jen and Sarah.

"So, how long have you two been a couple?"

Jen started choking and coughing.

"Well, just since before Christmas, but we aren't out to anyone yet just Tony and Marcus. How did you know?" Sarah asked.

"You can tell by the way you look at each other and move around each other. What's the big secret?"

I jumped in. "Well, Fran, Jen has always considered herself straight. She and I were engaged for a time. This is all really new to her."

"Gotcha, well being engaged to this homo should have been a clue for you." Fran smiled. "But, seriously Honey, you two seem good together. Embrace it. Don't put labels on it. Love is awesome."

"Thanks, how long have you been together?"

"Almost ten years... "

"That's very nice. I'm getting there. It's was just such a surprise for me."

"Like I said embrace it. But since you two missed the start of this party, you need to eat up."

"Everything is delicious. I'm already a big fan of the restaurant." Sarah continued. "But we haven't had time to go there together yet. I can't wait to take Jen to your restaurant."

"Thanks, but it's all my Honey."

Marcus and I walked around the room getting drinks for people. Everyone seemed to be having a really great time. Danni was giving Amy a hard time when I made it back near the two of them.

"I still can't believe you let him beat you out for valedictorian. Seriously, that speech of his was good, but I would much rather have listened to you than him."

"First, Marcus deserved to win. Second, that speech wasn't good, it was epic. I could never have written that much less pulled it off. Even you were a wet mess of tears when he finished talking about David Carmichael."

"Marcus gave the valedictorian speech? Why were you in tears?"

"He should tell the story, but I know he won't. David was a classmate who tried to kill himself. Fortunately, he was found before the pills took effect. Marcus reminded everyone that day about how we all need to care about each other, to stop bullying, and go out in the world and not just do well but do good."Amy explained. "It was very powerful. He brought David up on stage and embraced him. He outed himself and explained David was straight even though he was picked on all the time by the jocks. It was incredible. The students all gave him a standing ovation except maybe a couple jocks; the parents all just sat there stunned."

"That's amazing."

"It was, you should ask him about it sometime."

As I pondered my wonderful man, Marcus walked over to us.

"Why the serious looks on your faces? This is supposed to be a party."

"Amy was telling me about your valedictorian speech. You have to tell me about it sometime. Sounds like you were amazing back then too."

"I had a good day, but really, this is a celebration about Danni. We are about to toast to the Diva. You all need something to toast with this instant."

Everyone had a glass in their hand when Marcus started his toast.

"To my oldest friend, may the journey you are about to embark on be every bit as exciting as you dreamed. You deserve this so much and have worked so hard to get here. I wish you nothing but success, happiness, and joy. Break a leg my dear friend; To Danni... "

"To Danni... "

Marcus spoke up above the crowd. "For anyone who doesn't know, we will be headed to Noah's in a few minutes. The Diva has agreed to do a number from the show before he heads out on tour. Please join us."

As everyone got ready to head out, Keith put his hand on my shoulder and whispered in my ear.

"I'm taking J out to get coffee; I already wished Danni the best. I will give you a call tomorrow if that's okay. Wish me luck."

"Have fun. Enjoy... Just remember to take your time and enjoy this part."

"I know. Tony, you are the best. Thanks."

Noah's was as busy as I had ever seen it. John, the owner, quickly hushed the crowd.

"Everyone, you are all in for a treat. Our resident Diva, and there is no other word for Danni, has agreed to perform a number from the show 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' for us. Danni will be touring for a while and we will all miss his tremendous talents. Please give a round of applause to Danni as he performs 'Midnight Radio'."

Danni stepped out on stage in full costume and make-up. Hunter started the music and Danni let go. He was incredible. Everyone in the house that knew the show started to sing along, but fell silent after the first few seconds. When we saw Danni perform in New York City, he was brilliant. Tonight, however, was beyond belief. He poured everything into the one song. The song itself comes at the end of the show and most performers are as close to spent as you could be after expending the energy required for the performance. Danni had the benefit of doing just the one number. He managed to capture all the emotion and gave it an energy that usually didn't exist. When he finished, the entire house exploded with cheers and applause.

In the three years I'd seen him perform in the club. This was his most intense and best performance ever. The applause lasted at least a solid five minutes. Finally, the lights went down and he walked off the stage.

When he joined us at our table, he was surrounded by well-wishers. Eventually, it was closing time. We headed back to the condo.

"They will be talking about that performance for years to come. Danni, that was even better than we saw in New York. Congratulations, you were unbelievable."

"Thanks, I usually struggle through that number with little or no energy. Tonight felt really good. Thanks you two for a great night. This was perfect."

We said a tearful good bye to Danni and Hunter the next morning. Well, I should say tearful for me.

"You need to make sure you stay in touch. I'm going to miss the Diva and the Director. I expect updates from the road. And I can't wait to see you again in August."

Danni got a confused look on his face, "What's happening in August? I'm sure we are on the west coast then... Are you coming out to see us?"

"I'm not even going to take that bait asshole. You will be here without fail."

"Of course we will. Don't let the Diva go on. It's marked in red on all the calendars. The producers of the show are even letting us use their flyer miles to pay for the flight.

"Thank you both for everything. You are great. I promise Danni will stay in touch. See you soon."

Hunter gave us both hugs and started to walk towards the train.

Danni wrapped us both in his arms. "You two are amazing. Individually, you are such wonderful men, together, there are not words. Thanks."

He whispered in my ear. "I love you, Tony. Don't forget the phone works both ways. I told you the first time I met you Marcus was the best. If you ever need me, just call."

"Break a leg, and never forget you deserve every minute of this success."

Finally, we let go. A smile from both of us, and Danni ran to catch up with Hunter. Marcus and I turned and headed home.

The next few weeks flew by. Marcus went to his conference in Philadelphia and he and I had a great 'reunion' when he returned home. I was working very hard with the peer group and the new curriculum.

My parents visited for the week break at the end of February. Mom and Dad joined us for the cake tastings that first Sunday of the break. We decided on a selection of six different cakes. Mom loved the idea of the different flavors. Between the four of us, there was no doubt which flavors we wanted for the cakes.

My favorite was the lemon chiffon with raspberry. Marcus was partial to the chocolate mousse cake. Mom chose the strawberry shortcake, and Dad picked the red velvet cake. We all agreed a traditional buttercream should be added to the mix, as well as a carrot cake. I almost fought for the cannoli cake but in the end didn't love it enough to boot one of the other choices.

"Okay, you need to decide on a cake for you two that can be the cake you freeze for your first anniversary. Any of these would be good, but it's just for the two of you." Mom said.

I turned to Marcus and kissed him.

"What do you think? I love them all, except maybe the red velvet... that is wicked sweet."

Marcus chuckled. "I totally agree. It's great in small bites but a whole cake... I think the lemon chiffon is the best choice for the anniversary cake. The chocolate mousse is good but I know we both love the lemon with raspberries."

"Perfect. Now I think we should have them decorate everything in a paisley pattern. Don't you think Hon?"

Mom spoke up, "Really Tony? Paisley just doesn't seem your style."

Marcus burst out laughing. "Betty, that was for my benefit. Your son was told not too long ago how much I hate paisley. He thinks he's being funny; Busted, Babe."

I just grinned.

"I think simple modern designs would be great. Something with the blues we picked for the linens and flowers in a modern patterned design. You know that blue piece of Amy's just inside the restaurant. Something like that with very clean lines and a flow."

"I love that idea. I think it fits well with all the other choices."

"Well all I know is these little bites of cake have done nothing to fill my stomach. I feel like a trip back to the BBQ place for supper." Dad spoke up.

Marcus nodded, "Sounds like a plan. You need to decide on a menu for the rehearsal dinner anyway, so let's head out to Mindy's place."

As we were driving to the restaurant, Marcus's phone rang. It was his mother. I gingerly picked up the phone and answered.

"Good evening Mrs. Taylor. Marcus is driving. Can I have him call you back?"

"No, I need to speak with him immediately."

"Okay, I'll have him pull over... Marcus, your mother needs to talk to you she seems upset."

"Mom, what's wrong? I see... I'm terribly sorry. Have you called Jamie or Nick? Okay I'll call Dad. The arrangements were made in advance... Okay how soon will you be here? No problem, I'll arrange things at the church and set things up for the reception. I'll have it catered don't worry. I'll call you back in a couple of hours. Love you, Mother."

"What's up Hon?"

"My grandparents passed away within hours of each other today. My grandfather was ninety-one, my grandmother was ninety. He died in his sleep overnight; she passed this afternoon after church. My mother is coming at some point this week. Services will be here next weekend. My grandfather made all the arrangements ahead of time. Needless to say, my mother is distraught. She expected my grandfather to pass soon, not my grandmother. "

"I'm so sorry, Babe. Let me drive. You call your Dad. Do you need to call your brothers?"

"After they talk to Mom, I'll call them. Please drive home. I'm going to need to get a caterer for the reception on Saturday after the funeral and make some other arrangements."

"No problem. Call your Dad."

Later that night, Marcus and I were on the futon trying to sleep.

"Hon, I'm so sorry about your grandparents, were you close to them when they lived here?"

"Not really... We only saw those grandparents maybe twice a year. They were both sixty when I was born. They retired to Florida before I even started elementary school. If we were lucky we would see them at Christmas and maybe once in the summer, if they came north. I think one year we went down there for Easter vacation.

"On the other hand, my Dad's parents were both gone before I finished high school. We spent a lot more time with them. They lived about two hours away. Each summer we spent two weeks of vacation at their place away from my parents. That was much more of a loss emotionally for me.

"It's odd. But Mom's parents always seemed so old to us kids. I'm sad for my Mother, but don't really feel much of a loss personally. But we should get some sleep. I'm going to need you to take care of a couple things tomorrow while I'm at work. Plus, I don't want this to interfere with your parents visit."

"Don't worry about my parents. Mom would have your head if she thought you were stressing about their visit now. Just worry about your family. Your mother is coming back to town."

Thanks to my usual support:

My Hubby, Ray,
David, my editor,
and Fitz

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