"Conner, are you sure?" Derrick asked softly. "I mean, if you are, I think that's wonderful."
"I think so." Conner said, and then swallowed hard. "I've never felt like this with anyone before. It was different with James. It was a different feeling with him, not like what I feel for Alec."
Derrick smiled. "It's different with every person. No two loves are alike and really can't be compared." Derrick stopped at the deli counter. A pretty young girl came up, asking what he would like. She listened to Derrick's request, but was staring at Conner the entire time. Derrick noticed it, looking back and forth between her and Conner. Conner was just staring off into space, totally ignoring what was going on. He finally turned back to Derrick.
"I don't know what I'm going to do, Derrick."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, I'm leaving to go back to New York tomorrow." Conner paused, looking very worried, near the edge of tears. "I just don't know what to do."
Derrick got close to Conner, and spoke softly. "Listen. We don't many chances in life. I've learned that the hard way. If you tell him how you feel, it might makes things worse, especially if you don't come back. It'll break his heart. But then, on the other hand, do you have anything in New York?"
"Really, no. Work is running out, that's why I was able to come here. James is never coming back, and really, I don't know that I would want him to." Conner's eyes flashed for a moment, looking at Derrick. "What are you getting at?"
"You've found someone, someone who is special to you. Don't let it go." Derrick lightly squeezed Conner's arm. "Go back to New York, finalize everything, tie up your loose ends, and then come back here."
"What would I do? Where would I stay? You guys have been great, really, the only friends that I've ever had. But, it's such an imposition on you. I can't do that."
Derrick shook his head. "It's not imposing, when it's invited. We'll figure out something for you to do. I'm sure you have quite the extensive resume. And, not all businesses are influenced by your father." Derrick smiled, taking back his hand, and putting it on Conner's shoulder. "Well figure it out, don't worry. You just concentrate on that gorgeous guy. I have friends that I can talk to."
"Really? You would do that?"
"For you, my lad, yes. To see you happy, like you were this morning with Ty, yes."
"I don't know what to say."
"Well, you could say...I'll do it." Derrick smirked.
"You know, I will. Why not? If it means being with him, then why not?"
"See? That wasn't so bad, now was it?"
"I've got to go tell him." Conner said, turning, looking around.
"Whoa, easy there sailor." Derrick said, grabbing him again. "Wait for this afternoon. It won't be too much longer."
"Maybe you're right." Conner looked down at the floor, shuffling his foot around.
"It'll be okay." Derrick said softly. The girl returned and slid the packages across the counter. Derrick smiled at her, she returned the smile asking if there was anything else, but her gaze was on Conner. "No, thanks. I think we've got it." Derrick put the packages in the cart, and pushed it away, Conner in tow. "It occurs to me, that we need to do something special for tonight. I have an idea. Come on."
Food was totaled up and bagged. They pushed the cart out to the truck. As much as Conner looked, he didn't see Alec again in the store. They emptied the cart into the bed of the truck, and then got in. Derrick drove back to the house. He parked and they emptied the bags into the house, Ty was helping them. Derrick handed him back his keys.
"Looks like you bought the place out." Ty said in a low voice.
Derrick leaned close to Ty's ear. "I thought I had better stock up on a few things."
"Well, yeah, but, really, who's going to eat all of this?"
"That would be the small army that's outside, and then there's something special for tonight."
"Oh? What's tonight?"
"Conner's last night. He goes back to New York tomorrow."
"He seems a little on the distracted side. Did he see Alec?"
"Yes, and Conner told me..." Derrick was cut off. Conner was looking over Derrick's shoulder, looking right at Ty.
"That I'm in love with Alec." Conner said in a low voice. Ty's eyes went wide.
"Really. I think that's fantastic." Ty said.
"You think so?"
"Yeah, I think so." Ty smiled. "Did you tell him?"
"No." Conner said softly.
"Are you going to?"
"I suggested that he wait till this afternoon." Derrick said, looking over his shoulder at Conner.
"Hmmm." Ty said, nodding his head. "Probably should wait." Ty was pulling things out the remaining bags, setting them on the counter. "So, it looks like you are doing something special for dinner, Derrick."
"I thought we would have this special chicken recipe that I know." Derrick replied, leaning into Ty, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "I do it for special occasions, you know, like when there's a presidential visit or when the Queen comes to town." Derrick bumped Ty's hip with his.
"Oh, sounds nice. I can't wait." Ty said. Conner moaned loudly, making Derrick and Ty chuckle.
"Something wrong, bud?" Derrick asked, not even looking toward Conner.
"It's just after one. Ugh, it's driving me crazy." Conner said, loudly.
Ty turned and looked at Conner. "I think you need something to take your mind off the time. How about we go out back and get a few more things done." Ty said, making Conner perk up. "We'll get you all hot and sweaty, and covered in sawdust so when Alec gets here, you can really impress him. What do you say?"
"Sounds great." Conner was watching the clock on the wall.
"Hey, Conner, what time's your flight tomorrow?" Derrick asked.
"At noon. Why?"
"Just curious, that's all. You two go have fun outside. I'm going to get a few things ready in here. Ty, tell Bart that I'm going to do lunch for those boys of his."
"I will." Ty said, giving Derrick a quick kiss. "You're something else, you know?" Ty whispered. Derrick just smiled. With that, Ty and Conner walked out the back door, leaving Derrick in the kitchen.
Ty and Conner walked out into the garage. Ty walked over to the side wall and picked up some heavy metal that was lying against the wall on the floor. Conner watched wide eyed, seeing all the muscle flex on Ty as he carried it outside and set it on the grass. He wasn't sure what was going on yet.
"Okay, bud. Now, what we're going to do is hang the doors we built this morning." Ty said, Conner looking excited. "This metal is the door track, the doors are going to slide like barn doors, back and forth from each other." Ty showed Conner using his hands, bypassing each other in the air.
"Kind of like closet doors." Conner said, as the light bulb went on.
"Exactly like that. Very good. Now, lets get the sawhorses and set them up. We have to have something to stand on." Ty walked around the corner, with Conner following him, they grabbed the sawhorses, Ty told Conner where to place the one, while he went to the other end of the opening and set his. Ty walked them back around the corner again, and together they carried some 2X planking back around the corner and set it on the horses. Ty went to his truck and grabbed a few more tools, and then they were ready. Ty showed Conner how to hang the brackets. Ty checked it with a level, then they put the rails on the brackets. Once they were slid into place, Ty tightened down the nuts in the brackets. They climbed down off the planks.
Ty went back inside and grabbed the boxes that had the rollers. He handed one to Conner, and carried the other out to the horses. They put the boxes down and grabbed one of the doors and carried it to the horses and stood it up. Ty climbed back up on the plank, and had Conner join him. Ty opened a box and showed Conner how to attach the rollers to the door. Once Ty had drilled the holes where he needed them, they attached the rollers. They climbed down, again, and grabbed the door, picking it back up, they walked it to the end of the rail and slid the rollers in the back portion of the track. They tested the door for ease of movement and then walked around the corner and grabbed the second door.
The process was repeated to the second door with rollers. They slid the other door in place on the outer track, letting the doors bypass each other. Conner was amazed with how good they looked. Ty held out his hand, smiling. Conner took it and gave it a firm shake.
"That was so hot." Conner almost squealed. Ty chuckled.
"I thought you'd like that." Ty said, picking up the boxes and the paper. He walked over and dropped them in the trash can. "Alright, now that we're sealed up, we can call for the inspection. Come on, let's go in the house, and I'll make the call. You can show Derrick what you did." They walked toward the house together, Conner had a spring in his step now.
While Ty made the call, Conner drug Derrick to the back door and showed him. Derrick was impressed with the doors. He leaned to one side toward Conner.
"You know, really, I had no idea what kind of doors I wanted for the original plan. But, now, I wouldn't want anything else. You guys did an absolutely perfect job on them."
"You really like them?"
"They fit with the design of the siding, the feel of the building." Derrick sighed. "It's perfect, absolutely perfect. I told you was a master carpenter, didn't I?"
"He is, he really is. And you know, come to think of it, I didn't even see a plan or a sketch. He just put it together." Conner said. "I wish I had that kind of talent."
"Okay," Ty said coming up behind them, "we're all set. The inspector should be here in the morning for framing and roofing. Then we can do electrical and plumbing when Bart's done."
"Speaking of Bart, did you tell him?"
"No, shit, I forgot." Ty replied. "I'll go get them now." Ty stepped through them, and out the back door, Derrick slapped his butt as he went by.
They turned and walked back into the kitchen. Derrick started to grab a couple of trays off the counter and took them over to the table. Conner stepped in and grabbed other things that were set out and put them on the table. They looked up at each other as they heard the back door open. Shuffling of feet, and then water running in the bathroom. Derrick smirked as he looked at Conner.
"Guess I'd better wash up too." Conner said, with a little boy look. Derrick smirked again, and nodded. Conner went to the kitchen sink and washed up. He turned and saw the boys walk into the kitchen.
"Go ahead and sit down, boys." Derrick said. "Go ahead and dig in." They responded to him and sat down next to each other. Derrick watched as they piled their plates, with sandwiches, chips, potato salad. And just as fast as they had loaded them, they were emptied. It was like they didn't even take time to chew. Derrick just shook his head at what he was watching. Within a few minutes, the boys were done, and just sitting there with blank looks on their faces, totally full and satisfied.
Bart had joined them at the table, but didn't eat much. Conner sat at the end, and just nibbled a little. Derrick assumed he wanted to wait for dinner. Ty had sat across from the boys, next to Bart. He, too, only nibbled a little bit. Derrick milled around picking up trays and plates and took them to the sink. Once he stacked everything off, he joined everyone at the table.
"So, how's it looking out there, Bart?" Derrick asked.
"It's looking good. Trench is about done. We should be laying pipe in a while, and then water rough-ins. We should be ready for inspection by Monday, I would think."
"That's great." Derrick said.
"Yeah, would have been done by now if I'd not been interrupted by the phone calls."
Derrick chuckled. "It's understandable. I'm just glad you're here."
"Me too, thanks." Bart sighed, sitting back. "Well, boys..." He looked down the table, "ready to get back at it?" They both nodded slowly. Bart smiled, and then stood up, he looked at Derrick, "Thank you very much, again."
"My pleasure." Derrick replied.
"Thank you, very much." Aiden, the older boy said, then looked at Conner quickly with the eye.
"Yes, thank you, sir." Seth, the younger one said.
"You're both very welcome." Derrick said, turning and looking up at them, as they were almost behind him. "You boys need anything, just ask, don't be shy."
"Yes, sir." They both chimed. They walked out the back door, following Bart.
"You amaze me." Ty said, shaking his head, looking at Derrick.
"How so?" Derrick cocked his head a little.
"You have adopted the whole bunch, single handed, and I would have thought Bart would have put up a little bit of a fight about it, but he didn't. Amazing." Ty said.
Derrick got up from the table, smiling at Ty. "Guess I'll get cleaned up and start prepping dinner."
"Do you want help?" Conner asked.
Derrick smiled at him. "No, I think you're supposed to get all hot and sweaty, or something like that?" Derrick winked.
Ty chuckled, and got up from the table, Conner followed, just looking at Derrick, with a frown on his face. Derrick chuckled, as he walked around the counter. He heard the back door screen close, and he knew he was alone. He quickly cleaned up the lunch items and set about preparing for dinner.
"You getting excited?" Ty asked, in a teasing voice to Conner.
Conner gave him a side glance. "It's so killin me, dude."
"I bet it is, bud." Ty said, patting Conner's shoulder. "It'll be alright. You wait and see."
"I have a good feeling about this. And, if Derrick has anything to do with it, you know it will be fine."
"Yeah, I guess." Conner sighed as they walked into the garage together. "He's a great guy, isn't he?"
"Alec? Yeah, I think he's..."
"Not Alec...I mean, he's wonderful, but Derrick, he's a really great guy."
Ty stopped and turned to look at Conner. "Yes, he is." Ty said in quiet voice.
"You're a lucky guy, Ty."
Ty smiled wide. "I know." He winked. Conner smiled. "So, let's get busy. I want to frame up the bathroom walls. You ready?"
Conner's eyes filled with excitement. "Hell yeah! We're really gonna build walls?"
"Yeah, buddy. You and me. Let me show you how. Once you learn how, it will make you look even hotter to him," Ty winked again, "believe me." A grin went across Ty's face.
Derrick was chopping up parsley into a fine chop on the cutting board, thinking about something else entirely, when he heard the front door bell. He stopped his chopping, picking up a towel, wiping his hands. He dropped the towel and walked around the counter, through the kitchen, dining room, across the living room, as the door bell sounded again. He reached the door, opening it quickly. His eyes went wide as the recognition of was immediate.
"Phoebe." Derrick said. His eyebrows narrowed. "What brings you here?"
"I'm sorry, sir, to disturb you. I was wondering if, Conner...I mean, Master Van Owen was here."
"Come in, come in." Derrick said, waving her in. She stepped through the doorway into the living room. "Yes, he's here. But, you already knew that." Derrick paused, thought for a moment, then half smiled. "Would you like me to get him for you?"
She had clasped her hands together in front of her, her eyes were nervous as she looked around the room. "This is a lovely room." She said in a soft voice.
"Thank you." Derrick replied. He leaned his head toward her a little. "Phoebe, is everything alright?"
She looked down at the floor, then slowly lifted her gaze, meeting Derrick's eyes. "No, sir, it's not alright. I need to speak to Master Van Owen. There are problems at the house..." Phoebe replied, pausing. "I know that you care about the Mrs., and I shouldn't say too much, but..."
Derrick reached out and touched Phoebe's arm. "Is Mrs. Van Owen alright? Did he do anything to her?" Derrick had a bit of anger in his voice.
Phoebe gave Derrick a pleading look with her eyes, as she began to tear up. Derrick always hated when women cry, pulling at the heart strings. "No, sir. Mr. Van Owen wouldn't do or say anything to hurt her. But, she is not well. She is so quiet, and it's like all of the life has left her, after what happened between the Mister and..."
"Conner..." Derrick finished for her. He took a silent deep breath, coming to a realization. "You're in love with him, aren't you?" Derrick saw the response in her eyes. "It's alright, Phoebe. Your secret is safe with me, no one will know. That's why you're really here, isn't it?" Phoebe tipped her head forward again, then nodded. Derrick reached out and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her toward him. She put her forehead to his muscular shoulder, and she sobbed quietly. Derrick patted her shoulder with his hand. "It's going to be alright, believe me." Derrick comforted her for a long minute, then pulled back from her. "Come with me, I want to show you something, something that is wonderful." Derrick said softly, making Phoebe lift her gaze, meeting Derrick's eyes. He turned her and walked her through the house, toward the back door. Derrick opened the door, leading her out. They crossed the yard toward the garage, stopping at the big doors. Phoebe stepped next to Derrick, looking inside.
Ty and Conner were framing walls. Phoebe and Derrick watched as they were doing layout, then Ty showing Conner how to nail the plate to the studs. Within a few minutes, one wall was complete, and was being stood up. It now being in place, Ty had Conner hold it in position, as he retrieved his gun for anchoring to concrete. Conner watched Ty as he loaded it with what looked like a bullet, and then placing a special nail in the barrel. Ty pushed it to the plate with both hands. Ty called out 'Fire in the hole' and then pulled the trigger. The sound was loud, but not too loud, making Phoebe jump. Ty repeated the process and a couple of more times, and then the wall was in place. Ty nailed it off to the rear wall, giving it more support. Conner looked over his shoulder toward the doors, and saw Derrick and Phoebe. His eyes went wide. He strode over to them, leaving Ty alone.
"What are you doing here?" Conner had a wide eyed look. "Is everything alright?"
Phoebe looked up at Conner. "I need to speak with you about your mother."
"Is she alright?" Conner's voice fluctuated.
"Yes. But, there are some...concerns."
Conner took Phoebe's elbow, guiding her out toward the driveway, as she began to talk to Conner. Derrick watched them for a moment, as Ty came up beside him.
"Trouble at the palace?" Ty asked softly.
"More than likely, knowing his father." Derrick replied.
"Is she here because she was told to come? I wonder?" Ty sighed.
Derrick looked at Ty. "I was thinking the same thing. It would be a typical maneuver he might pull."
"That's for sure." Ty put his hand to the small of Derrick's back, rubbing his fingers on the fabric of the shirt. "I hope he's careful." Ty nodded toward Conner.
"He's smart. He'll be alright." Derrick turned, looking at Ty, smiling. "So, are you building my bathroom?"
"You know I am. Come and look. Tell me if it's the right size." They walked over together. Ty pointed out the corner and the adjoining wall to come. Derrick nodded his approval. "Good. Now that that's settled, I'll finish this and then I have a few errands to run."
"Oh?" Derrick asked. "Anything I can do for you?"
Ty put his hands on Derrick's waist, turning him toward him, going face to face. There was a serious look in Ty's eyes. Derrick narrowed his in response.
"Are you sure you want me to move in with you?"
"You know I do." Derrick whispered.
"Then, I have to go and collect my stuff from the apartment. And tell her I'm leaving."
"Ohhh, that, yeah." Derrick smiled. "You want help with it?"
Ty shook his head. "No. I can handle it. I don't have much there. It won't take long."
"If you're sure?" Derrick asked. Ty nodded his reply, giving Derrick a kiss. Ty turned and got busy with the other wall. Derrick watched him for a couple of minutes and then walked away to the doors.
Once outside, he looked and saw Conner and Phoebe standing near the corner of the house. Conner had his arms folded over his chest, listening to what she was telling him. Derrick watched them for a minute, and then went back toward the back steps. He went into the kitchen, opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle of water, opened it, took a deep drink and then set it on the counter. He went back to his chopping. A few minutes later, he heard the back door. He looked up, seeing Phoebe, Derrick stopped his chopping, and smiled at her.
"He went back to his working on the project with Mr. Caldwell." Phoebe said as she walked up to the counter. "Thank you, sir, for letting me see him. I am sorry for the interruption."
Derrick set the knife down, and walked around the counter. "It's no problem at all." Derrick replied as he walked up to her. "Phoebe, are you alright?"
"Yes, sir." She smiled briefly. "I am just fine. I'll be on my way now." She turned and walked toward the front door, Derrick following her. He grabbed the door for her, letting her out. "Thank you, sir." She said quietly, and walked down the front steps. Derrick watched her walk away, get into her car, and then pull out of the driveway. He closed the door, and turned to go back to the kitchen, but stopped. Conner was standing in the middle of the room. Derrick cocked his head a little to one side.
"She leave?" Conner asked, his hands on his hips.
"Yes. You okay?"
Conner only nodded. "Pisses me off."
"If I come back here, they won't ever leave me alone."
"You really expect them to? Let's be honest, they're your family, as such it is. Of course they won't leave you alone. They don't know how."
"That's why I told her I was going back to New York, and never coming back here again."
"So, you lied to her. Makes it easier, I suppose. So, you want to tell me what happened between you two?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, that she's in love with you, and don't tell me that you don't know that. So, what happened? Doesn't she know that you're into guys?"
Conner rolled his eyes, and then went over and dropped on the couch, with a heavy sigh. "You certainly don't miss anything, do you?"
"Well, not when it's obvious." Derrick paused. "So?"
"You want the details?" Conner blurted, Derrick just looked at him. "Okay, we were involved for a while. It was never right, ya know? I tried, really tried, but, it just never was good between us."
"Yeah." Conner sat forward on the couch, putting his hands together, resting his forearms on his knees. "I mean, she's very pretty, very sweet, but, I just couldn't do it for her, ya know? It was frustrating." He paused for a moment, gathering his thoughts. "I know she has feelings for me still. And, I'm sorry for that. But, I know now what I like and what I want."
"And she knows?"
"What? That I'm gay? Yeah, she knows." Conner chuckled to himself. "I'm such a dick."
Derrick chuckled himself. "What makes you say that?"
"Breakin hearts and shit like that."
Derrick moved and sat next to Conner. He put his arm around his shoulder, pulling him to him. "You are a heart breaker, that's for sure. I mean, look at you, your looks, your body. Didn't you notice all the women at the grocery store this morning? The way they were staring at you?"
Conner looked over at Derrick. His face was blank. "No. I guess I wasn't paying attention."
"Bud, you're drop dead gorgeous, okay? You know you are." Derrick smiled. Derrick and Conner looked up, hearing a voice clearing his throat.
"You guys aren't going to do something without me, are you?" Ty asked. Derrick smiled, and Conner looked like a deer in a headlight.
"We were talking about Mr. Heart Breaker here."
"I heard." Ty replied, smiling out of the corner of his mouth. "Derrick's right, bud, you're frikkin gorgeous."
"You should talk." Conner said, looking Ty up and down, then over at Derrick. "And you, too. You're both absolutely beautiful."
"So, what are we going to do with all of this information?" Derrick asked.
Conner stood up. Looking back and forth at each of them. "Well, I don't know about you guys, but, I'm going to wait till later. And when he finally gets here...look out."
"Someone's got a case of the hornies." Ty winked at Derrick.
"Yeah, I can see that bulge building in his board shorts." Derrick said, getting up off the couch. Conner looked down at himself, than back at them.
"You guys are relentless." Conner rolled his eyes.
"Anyone here?" Came a voice from behind Ty, making them all look toward the kitchen. "Well, what do we have here?" Paul asked. "Mmmm, mmm. All the hot boys are in the house! Getting ready for something?"
"Paul, what's going on?" Derrick asked, then seeing someone behind Paul. "Well, hello there, Matt. How are you?"
Matt stepped around to the side of Paul. He smiled at Derrick. "Hi, Derrick." Matt was eyeballing Conner, and then turned to look at Ty, and his mouth opened slightly.
"Close your mouth, honey, you might dribble something." Paul said. "Ty, Conner, this is Matt." They all shook hands. Paul leaned toward Matt a little. "See? Was I right?"
"Right about what?" Ty asked. Paul elbowed Matt in the ribs gently.
"Right about there being a group of good looking guys here at the house." Matt said in a low voice. Ty smiled slightly.
"And speaking of good looking guys..." Paul said, stepping over to Conner, wrapping his arms around one of Conner's, looking up at him. "Where's that hottie of yours?"
"He's still at work." Conner said.
"Oh, too bad." Paul said, letting out a deep sigh. "So..." Paul winked at Conner, "should I go sniff the sheets, again?" Paul wiggled his eyebrows.
"You should." Conner said flatly. "There are all kinds of track marks on them." Conner said, making Paul's eyes fly wide open. He let go of Conner's arm, and went to turn.
"Actually, I'm glad you're here, Paul." Derrick said. "And Matt. I need to talk to you both."
"Oh, shit." Paul said in a low voice, knowing that look that Derrick had on.