By Mickey S
If you are under age, or live in an area where reading stories that include sex between males is illegal, or if you're not into this type of story, please leave. This is a fictional story and all characters and events are a figment of the author's imagination. My thanks to Tim and Drew for all of their help. The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at NJMcMick@yahoo.com.
The month of September flew past. The weather was good and I was able to put in long hours in the fields nearly every day. By the final weekend the corn was done, the hay nearly done and I just had a couple of weeks work left to do in the orchard. Dad was frustrated by his inability to help me but he found something he could do. He hired a painting contractor to come paint the house, barn and outbuildings. All Teddy and I had accomplished in the summer was the shed. With a fresh coat of paint the farm looked new again, almost picture postcard beautiful.
The last Saturday of the month was moving day for Livy. Actually, the moving was being done by Declan and me. All she'd had to do was pack. Declan and the dogs came to spend Friday night at the farm so we could get an early start the next day. Over supper with Dad, we talked about Livy's big move.
"So when are you two gonna shack up together?"
"We haven't discussed that, Dad. Things are going pretty good the way they are." I loved the idea of living with Declan but, as I said, we hadn't discussed it.
"You might as well. Declan's always here and eats half his meals here anyway."
"Dad, that's rude."
And also not true. Dad's doctor had ended the home nursing visits but Declan still came by for lunch with us every Tuesday. Then there were our Wednesday nights together, although we went out on those occasions. The only other time Declan and I saw reach other regularly was Saturday afternoon through Sunday evening. So it wasn't exactly all the time.
"I didn't mean to be rude. I just meant, those gals only met this summer. You two have known each other since you were kids. It seems more logical that you'd move in together before they would."
"Lesbians are different, Dad. Half the time they bring a U-Haul along on their first date."
"Besides, Sam, we each have our own place. Not that I wouldn't love to spend more time with Silas."
"Livy's got her own place, too. Hasn't stopped her. And moving out of the city is a bigger deal than just going a few miles up Route 23."
"I know all about moving out of the city, Dad. You don't have to remind me what a big deal it was. Living together is probably something Declan and I will consider sometime down the road, but we're taking things slow for now." I tried not to look at Declan. I was dying to know what he was thinking about the subject but I was afraid my face would give away my own enthusiasm.
"Being cautious isn't a bad thing, son, but don't put things off too long. Life doesn't last forever, you know."
I thought Declan and I might talk about the subject when we were alone together later, but somehow we got distracted as soon as I closed the bedroom door behind us.
The next morning I raised the subject as we drove into the city.
"So what do you think of Dad's suggestion? Is it too soon for us to talk about living together?"
"I'm not sure but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought about it now and then. Obviously it would be more involved for me since it would mean giving up my house and moving to the farm."
"Yeah, it would be turning your life upside down and for me it would basically involve making room in my bed. Well, more than that, of course, it would mean sharing a life, 24/7, not just a bed. And it would be a huge commitment for both of us. Are we ready to be that committed to each other?"
"What do you think?"
Great! Leave it up to me, the 32-year old virgin-when-it-comes-to-love.
"I have absolutely no experience to guide me on this but I feel I'm ready to commit. My head says take it slow but my heart is totally crazy about the idea. I've never been in love before and I've never wanted to be with anyone the way I want to be with you. My feelings for you are so overwhelming I ought to be scared, but I'm not at all."
"It sounds to me like you're pretty sold on the idea. But since I'm the one with the experience and I'm also the one with the most to lose, I guess that means it's up to me."
"Well, maybe that's not the right word. I think we'd both have a lot at stake emotionally, but for me it would also be a lot of actual physical inconvenience if it didn't work out."
"Do you think there's a chance it might not work out?"
"There's always a chance, but the way things have been going for us, I'm pretty sure we'd make it. We may have only been together a couple of months, but we know each other. When Kara and I got engaged, we'd been going together for two years but looking back, we didn't know each other very well. We each knew the other had a dating and sexual history but we were both very vague about the details. She didn't know I was bi and her reaction to finding out totally surprised me. So while I knew her favorite color was teal and she knew I was crazy about Mexican food, we didn't really know each other deep down. You and I may still be learning the superficial stuff, but I think we each have a very good idea who the other is."
I could have never put it into words like that, not even in my own head, but I knew that's what I believed about us as well. We not only knew who the other was, deep down, but we liked what we knew.
"So I'm guessing that you think we're ready for the next big step, living together."
"Sort of. I think we are ready for the next step but maybe a slightly smaller step than you're thinking of. Maybe half a step."
"Now you've lost me. Half a step? What does that mean?"
"Well, ever since Livy decided to move out here to be with Sandy it's been hard not to think about us living together and how we could go about it. We could follow the lead of the experts, the lesbians, more or less. Livy is sub-letting her apartment, so it's really a one-year trial. Less risk, less irreversible. In the same way, I could rent my house for a year, giving us a trial period as well. Selling it would be difficult in this economy even if I wanted to burn my bridges, so to speak."
"So that's your halfway measure. You'd have one foot in the farm and one still in Hamburg."
I wasn't sure how I felt about that. It made sense, but it left me feeling a little empty, like he wasn't really committed to us working out.
"Actually, that would be taking a full step. And as I said, while we're probably ready for that, there's no reason to rush. We keep saying we're taking things slowly but less than two months after I came out to you we're talking about living together. That's pretty fast."
"So what half-step are you thinking of that would be even slower?"
"We could give your dad, and you, exactly what he asked for - more of me. Right now I'm usually only spending one night a week at the farm. We could bump that up to three or four. We're together Wednesday evenings already so it would make sense for me to spend the night. And now that your harvest is nearly over I could spend the whole weekend and not get in the way of your work."
That was even less commitment than I thought he was talking about. I wasn't thrilled.
"So then you don't think we're ready to live together?" I was disappointed almost to the point of anger and that surprised me. I hadn't given the idea of living together serious thought up until that moment, but I had dreamed a little about it. And now that we were talking about it, I knew I really wanted it. But, for just about the first time, Declan and I didn't appear to be on the same page.
"Ready, not ready, who knows? There are no guarantees whatever we do, Silas. I think that maybe we should just go with the flow and see how it works out. I know, you were doing that with your whole life for years and nothing was working out, so maybe that's not a good way to put it. All I know is that I love you, and if I start spending more nights at the farm, keeping some of my clothes and stuff there, I have a feeling that in no time I'll be staying there fulltime."
"Are you sure you're not saying that just to appease me?"
"Well, maybe a little. I can tell by the tone of your voice that you're hurt that I don't think we're ready for a total commitment. But I meant what I said. The more time we spend together, the more our relationship will grow. And it will happen naturally, because it's right, not because we made some kind of half-rational, half-emotional decision."
It was kind of hard to argue with that, in spite of the fact that he was the one being rational and I was being overly emotional.
And it pretty much worked out the way he'd said. He began to spend the night on Wednesdays and also stayed the entire weekend, from Friday evening through Monday morning. There couldn't be anything spontaneous about our schedule since he had to bring the dogs with him whenever he was planning to spend the night, but it didn't seem forced either.
Spending four nights a week at the farm gave us a lot more opportunities to have sex and we took advantage of them. It also provided a greater chance of getting on each other's nerves, but that didn't happen. Even when Declan was at the farm, we weren't glued to each other. I got up early to milk the cows while he slept in. He'd take the dogs walking around the property, sometimes with me, sometimes not. I had lots of chores to take care of and sometimes he'd help me, sometimes he'd just hang out with Dad.
For his part, Dad adapted really well to having a third person around. I knew he liked Declan a lot, but up until the spring he'd been alone on the farm for years. My arrival had been a huge change for him, so adding yet another person might have inconvenienced him even more. But he actually seemed to enjoy it.
When I first came home I'd thought that Dad was a bit of an antisocial hermit but after a while I realized he did like being around people. Throughout the late summer he'd zipped down the road in his scooter to visit Uncle Frank and Aunt Mary frequently. As it started getting dark earlier he didn't visit them as much. But they came to the house for supper once a week and Uncle Frank came by to play cards when Declan and I went out on Wednesday nights. We had Livy and Sandy over to eat on the weekends a few times and Dad enjoyed their company. He got less cantankerous and more relaxed with each passing week. Life seemed to be agreeing with him.
I mentioned that to Declan as we were cleaning the spare bedrooms the next to the last weekend of October, getting them ready for Barbara and the kids who were coming to visit in a few days. Declan stopped what he was doing and gave me a long, searching look.
"There's no doubt that he's more content than he's been in a long time, and he's probably enjoying life more, but he's failing, Silas. Surely you must see that."
"What do you mean? He's calmer than ever, taking it easy. But he's fine."
"He's sleeping more, doing less and getting tired more easily. He doesn't argue anymore partly because he doesn't have the strength. He's come to terms with his condition and realizes there's no point in fighting it."
"So you're saying he's dying?" I felt a lump in my throat.
"Well, I'm not a doctor but I have some experience with patients with heart conditions like his. Even a doctor can't predict the future with any certainty, but I'd say he may only have a few months left. I'm glad your sister is coming now to see him."
I sat on the bed - collapsed onto it more than sat, actually. Damn! Declan was right. I had been so wrapped up in my growing relationship with him that I hadn't been paying attention to Dad.
"Now that you spell it out, it's so clear. I can't believe I didn't notice. Here I am, supposed to be taking care of him and I don't even notice how he's sliding downhill. What's wrong with me?"
Declan sat next to me on the bed and put his arm around me, pulling me toward him.
"Nothing, babe. Don't beat yourself up over it. You have noticed the changes in him, you just interpreted them differently. A kind of wishful thinking, maybe. You wanted him to be okay so you saw the changes in that light."
"So this is it, then. What do we do?"
"Talk to his doctor when you take him for his check-up on Wednesday. You know Sam is going to put a positive spin on how he's doing, so you have to be objective when you describe how he's slowed down. But let the doctor come to his own conclusions, don't try to influence him with any kind of interpretation."
"What do you think he'll recommend?"
"I really can't say, but I don't think there's very much we can do. Just try to make life as easy and pleasant for Sam for whatever time he has left."
Declan was right about the doctor. At the appointment Dad didn't talk much, playing down his recent decline. I tried to be as unemotional as I could be, just giving the facts, pointing out how tired Dad was, his constant napping, how he only went to the barn with me one or two afternoons a week and even then didn't do any milking. Dad tried to make excuses for all of that but I don't think the doctor bought it. In the end, his assessment was the same as Declan's. He was blunt about it, but kind.
In spite of Dad's apparent attitude of denial, he didn't argue with the doctor's prognosis. As Declan had said, Dad understood what was happening and had come to accept it. That didn't mean he wanted me to see him give up, however. His attitude was almost one of indifference, a sort of, 'Well, if you say so.' The doctor ended up making a minor change in Dad's medication, but other than that his only recommendation was for him to continue taking it easy, using common sense in his activities.
Late that night, after Declan had made love to me very gently, we cuddled.
"Can I ask you a huge favor, Declan?"
"Sure babe, I'll do anything I can for you, you know that."
"Would you be able to bring your horse to the farm for the winter? There's plenty of room in the barn and I could fence off part of the pasture for her."
"We wouldn't be able to ride together since we'd only have the one horse."
"You said you don't ride much in the winter so we probably wouldn't be doing that anyway."
"What brings this on?"
"I keep thinking about the look on Dad's face when he was watching those horses at the state fair. I think he'd really love to have a horse on the farm again after all these years."
"I think you're right. Sam would love it. I'll look into renting a horse trailer. I know your family is going to be here but if I bring her here next weekend it will save me from paying next month's boarding fee. Is that okay with you?"
"That would be great. And don't worry about taking me away from my family. I'm not looking forward to spending time with them. They're coming to see Dad, not me. I'll welcome any excuse to get away."
It had been a rough week for me and I was sure it would get worse. As I told Declan, I hadn't been looking forward to Barbara's visit. She'd been so antagonistic every time we talked in the summer. And I didn't even know Jake and Lisa. After the experience with Teddy I didn't know what to expect from them. My concern over Dad's condition took my mind off them somewhat, but added stress of its own.
Thursday was cool and drizzly and I was glad I didn't have to go to the airport to get them. There was no way four of us would have fit in the truck. Declan had offered to switch cars so I could pick them up in his Jeep, but Barbara, knowing Dad and I only had the truck, had arranged to rent a car.
Dad and I spent most of the afternoon after his nap playing cards in the kitchen. I was drinking iced tea, Dad his usual Jack Daniels on the rocks. He limited himself to one, two on special occasions, and he nursed the drink for well over an hour. My tension must have been obvious because he commented on it.
"What are you so jittery about? You're acting like you're going to jump out of your skin any minute."
"I guess I'm just a little nervous about seeing Barbara. We didn't get along very well the last several times we spoke on the phone. And after meeting Teddy, who knows what the other two kids are going to be like?"
"Don't worry about Barbara and the kids. We can handle them."
"I'm not worried about them so much as you. You can't let yourself get upset anymore. Your heart can't take another fight."
"You don't have to tell me. I'm not about to fight any of them. If they start acting up the way Teddy did I'll just tell them they have to leave and then go to my room. Then it'll be your job to get rid of them."
"Thanks a lot. I appreciate your vote of confidence but I'm not sure I want the job."
"There probably won't be any need. The kids are younger than Teddy and were a lot nicer than him last time they were here. And Barbara, well, she's my daughter. She's got lousy taste in men and she's been a bit touchy lately, but deep down she's a good girl."
Just then I heard a car pull in.
"Ready or not ..."
I got up and opened the back door in time to see the three of them getting their luggage from the trunk of the car. I crossed the yard to help with the bags. By the time I got to them Jake had a suitcase in each hand and Barbara was holding one as well. I took the bag from Barbara and gave her a hug with my free arm.
"Welcome home, Babs." I tried to be as perky and friendly as I could, hoping we could at least start on the right foot although I was secretly pleased to see that Barbara looked as stressed as I felt.
"This hasn't been home for me in a long time, Silas."
"It doesn't matter where you live, this will always be home. I learned that this year."
"Whatever." She shrugged wearily and headed for the house. I'd always thought that Teddy took after his father, but I could see some of his attitude in that one word and movement.
As I looked at Jake he smiled and rolled his eyes. He set one of the bags down and held out his hand.
"It's good to see you again, Uncle Silas. Don't mind Mom, she's just a little stressed."
I shook his hand and as soon as I let go Lisa hugged me.
"Not so good, but he's more tired than anything else."
The kids headed for the house after their mother and I brought up the rear. Jake was cute, much more attractive than his older brother, and much smaller. But then, at fourteen he probably had a lot more growing to do. Lisa reminded me of Barbara at twelve. And after only one minute I could tell they both had much nicer personalities than Teddy.
When we got into the kitchen Dad was sitting at the table as he had been all afternoon, but I knew he'd been up. When I greeted Barbara out by the car I'd seen him looking out the window. He stood as Barbara approached him. She hugged and kissed him, then frowned. She looked at his glass on the table, picked it up and sniffed it.
"Yeah, I'm allowed to drink now and then. I'm not dead yet."
"I didn't say anything, Dad."
"You didn't have to. Your attitude came across loud and clear." He sat and looked up at her. "Now I'm only gonna say this once. The doctor says I'm not supposed to have any stress. I'm not saying you have to baby me, treat me with kid gloves or agree with everything I say, but don't go starting fights, either. We've never been a close family. That's my fault more than anyone else's. We've all got strong opinions and disagree on a hell of a lot. But there's no reason why we can't all get along for a few days. I'm very happy you came to see me and brought the kids and I hope we can have a pleasant visit."
"So do I, Dad. I wasn't trying to start a fight. I just want what's best for you."
"Believe me, Barbara, I've listened to every word the doctor has said to me. I may not like most of it, but I'm following his orders to the t. And Silas knows exactly what I can and can't do and he takes good care of me. Now, if you don't mind, I think I'll lie down for a bit while you unpack and get settled in."
Dad left the room and Barbara turned to me.
"He looks terrible. What have you been doing to him? Are you sure the doctor knows what he's doing?"
"Unfortunately there isn't much that can be done for Dad at this point. I'm glad you came to see him because I don't think he has much time left. Come on upstairs and we'll talk."
I wasn't sure if Barbara was going to go along with Dad's request to refrain from fighting, especially when he wasn't around, so I thought it best to move the conversation away from his room.
I picked up one of the bags and headed to the stairs. Barbara and Jake each grabbed a bag and followed me.
"I figured you and Lisa could stay in your room. Jake can take my old room."
"Yeah, I moved into Mom and Dad's room. My furniture wouldn't have fit in my old room. I moved their furniture into your room and packed up all of your stuff. You might want to go through it while you're here, see if there's anything you want to take with you or have shipped out west."
"You're really taking over the place, aren't you?"
"I'm just settling in. Dad can't go upstairs anymore so the second floor is pretty much my space."
"Obviously," she huffed. She put her suitcase on the bed in her room and turned back to me. "Now what about Dad's doctor? Is he any good?"
"Declan says he's the best cardiologist in the county." I put Lisa's bag on a chair while Jake put his in the other room.
"Declan? Who's he?"
"He's Dad's nurse. You'll meet him tomorrow."
"Dad's getting regular home nursing care?"
"Well, not really. He was for a while but the doctor didn't think it was necessary any more. But Declan's here a lot of the time anyway so he keeps an eye on Dad."
"Why would he be here if the doctor didn't order it?"
"Because he's my boyfriend. He splits his time between the farm and his condo."
"Boyfriend? Kids, why don't you go downstairs? I want to talk to Uncle Silas." As the kids left, Barbara looked around the room, hands on hips.
"Could this get any worse?" she muttered.
"I don't know what you mean by that. Dad's known Declan for years, likes him and trusts him."
"It's bad enough that you've got Dad all to yourself, able to gain influence over him. But to have your boyfriend providing medical care ..."
I'd been trying to be reasonable, trying to keep the conversation calm, but that was too much for me. Dad had given her his ground rules, maybe it was time for me to do the same.
"You're full of shit, Barbara! You have no idea what you're talking about. I came here against my own wishes because you asked me to. Dad and I didn't get along at all at first but over time, things got better. Now we talk pretty honestly and we've actually gotten to know each other. I take damn good care of him because, believe it or not, I love the old man. It's killing me seeing him deteriorate this way, knowing there's nothing I can do except help him be as comfortable as possible. You can think whatever you want of me, and say whatever you want when we're alone, but don't you dare upset him. His heart just can't take it."
"A pretty speech, baby brother, but I think you're the one who's full of shit. I'm not going to upset him if I can help it, but you can be sure I'm going to find out what's going on here."
"I don't know what your problem is but I hope you're getting professional help for it. You sure need it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have cows to milk."
I turned and went downstairs, steaming, hoping our voices hadn't carried. The kids were watching TV in the living room. They didn't appear to have heard us. There was no sign of Dad, so he was probably still in his room. As I crossed the road to the barn I realized it was going to be a very long weekend.