Timeline: last days of summer
Trent tapped his dad on the shoulder and redirected his attention from the engine they were working on to the young man walking toward them. It was Blaine, and this was the first time his boyfriend had visited him at the track since he’d accepted the job offer from NASCAR racer, Kenney Bueche.
To say Blaine was not happy about his decision to join the working masses was an understatement. He was pissed, and Trent honestly couldn’t blame him for feeling that way. Their goal had always been for the two of them to attend college together. Unfortunately, those plans went awry when Blaine was forced to sign with Alabama instead of LSU because the out-of-state college offered a baseball scholarship he couldn’t afford to pass up. As with most middle-class Americans, the Matthews were living from paycheck to paycheck, and Blaine had refused his mother’s offer to go back to work just so he could attend LSU with his boyfriend. His three younger sisters needed their mother at home more than he needed the money for tuition. And, as he had told Trent, it was only four years, and Alabama wasn’t that far away.
Recent events had gotten their plan back on track, but it was soon derailed when he, himself, for the exact same reason as his boyfriend, had put his college education on hold -- permanent hold.
Money was still extremely tight for him and his dad. Rising gas prices, two home mortgages, monthly insurance payments, not to mention food, utilities and such -- every penny was accounted for, leaving absolutely nothing for tuition. He hated not being with Blaine at college, but bills had to be paid, and the only way that was going to happen was if he got a full-time job.
Thankfully his dad had come to his aid and put in a good word with both Kenney and Nathan Thibodeaux, Bueche’s manager. The two men agreed to take him on and had assigned him to Garrett Steele’s crew. His excitement at being a member of a winning NASCAR team had dimmed somewhat upon learning he’d be rubbing elbows with none other than Alex Desselle. That damn Cajun had put the moves on Blaine back when his dad first went to work for Kenney, and Trent had never forgiven the mechanic for manhandling his boyfriend’s goods.
Shoving back thoughts of Alex and the plans for revenge he often fantasized about, Trent wiped his hands clean in preparation for the hug he was about to lay on Blaine.
“Come and get it, Budman,” he whispered. “God, you have no idea how much I’ve missed ya.”
Between his traveling with the team and Blaine’s busy baseball schedule, the two of them had spent little time together during the past month and a half. In fact, to tell the truth, Blaine was fresh off the bus from the National Championship playoffs in Oklahoma. The last few days had been spent reacquainting themselves with not only each other but also with their respective beds and every one of their favorite make-out spots.
Grinning, Trent readjusted himself while looking around the large, airy garage. Maybe it was time to find a new place to make-out. He eyed the racks of new and used tires against the far wall. If they shoved one toward the corner about a foot or two and blocked off the open end with another . . . .
Trent rolled his eyes as images of his dad or, worse yet, Kenney catching him and Blaine doing the dirty deed. No use tempting Fate again with another chance at ruining their future together. They had enough ‘special’ spots -- safe locations that would keep their butts out of trouble.
Speaking of butts, he made a mental note to stop at the store and buy more lube. His personal supply was almost depleted. Maybe he’d buy a container of that new stuff, the one that claimed to heighten---
Callused fingers brushed the curve of his cheek, and Trent forgot all about going shopping.
“Hey, yourself,” he answered his boyfriend with a slap to his bicep. “ ‘Bout time you hauled your ass out of bed.”
Blaine shared a secret smile with him. “Sorry. Guess I was more tired than expected.”
Trent chuckled. He knew exactly why Blaine was tired, and the reason for that exhaustion was rising to the occasion as they spoke.
He briefly rubbed up against his boyfriend while hugging the daylights out of him. “How about you return the favor tonight, Budman? Tomorrow’s Saturday, and we can both sleep in.”
Blaine closed his eyes and moaned softly when their crotches came in contact with each other. “If you don’t mind, let’s keep things at your house. Okay?”
Trent stopped his teasing and took a step back. Something was wrong. He could hear it in Blaine’s voice.
Taking the older boy by the arm, he indicated to his father he was leaving for the moment. “I’ll be back in a sec, Dad,” he explained.
“Take your time,” Devin answered. “I’ve got a meet with Garrett, and no telling how long that’ll last. Sparing a smile for Blaine, he continued, “Besides, it’s almost time for lunch. Take a break, and I’ll see you back here at one.”
Trent waited until his dad left then guided Blaine away from the men gathered near the car. “What’s up, Budman?”
Blaine removed his sunglasses, and Trent felt his heart take a nosedive the second he caught sight of those sexy baby blues. Blaine’s eyes were bloodshot, a surefire indication that he’d been crying.
He half-pushed, half-walked Blaine behind the rack of tires he’d earlier contemplated. The second they were hidden from sight, he yanked him into his arms and again hugged him tight. “Talk to me. What’s wrong?”
“Mom . . . she’s . . . damn it, Trent, she’s leaving. Leaving me and Dad,” Blaine haltingly answered. “She and the girls are going to live with her folks.”
“Shit.” Trent tightened his embrace. He couldn’t say he was surprised by the news. Things at the Matthews had been somewhat on edge ever since that fateful day back in August. The discovery that Blaine had posed nude for a gay magazine, and was subsequently kicked out of AU because of it, had done some serious damage to the family, especially once the news went public. Homophobic assholes of every shape and size had come out of the woodwork, and the evidence of their disgust had more than once been spray-painted across the Matthews’ garage doors. Sean had borne the major brunt of his son’s ill-fated decision in the temporary loss of his job and two overnight visits to the local jail for fighting. On top of that he’d been issued a ticket for speeding when caught driving 90 mph down the interstate after receiving an anonymous threat against his daughters.
Sean got his job back but only after he threatened to sue his employer. Angel and Suzanne were transferred from public to private schools and had finally stopped bitching about leaving their friends behind once their father was faced with a third night in jail for coming to their defense.
Trent closed his eyes.
Matters had gone from bad to worse when Blaine insisted on introducing his family to the budding novelist living amongst them. Trent had protested; Dan had protested, but neither of them was successful in changing Blaine’s mind. He was thrilled to death with Trent’s new pursuit and wanted those closest to them to share in his moment of fame.
Allanah, being the proud, albeit surrogate, mother to Trent, also wouldn’t take no for an answer and had read his story despite all objections. He could still to this day remember the exact second she’d finished. The silence was so overwhelming he’d sworn he could hear dust motes floating in the air. Without saying a word, Allanah had left the room, and Trent could only surmise she’d hated the piece. Hell, if he were honest, he probably would have reacted in the same way. It’s one thing to know your husband is fucking another man and something entirely different to read about it in graphic detail.
Adding his tears to those of his boyfriend, Trent pressed his lips to the side of Blaine’s neck. Was it his fault the Matthews were splitting up? His revealing story, along with Blaine’s stupidity, had obviously been more than Allanah could handle. Add to that Sean’s adamant refusal of Dan’s offer to move out and well . . . .
He let out a mental groan. No telling what manner of shit would hit the fan when the follow-up story to his piece went to print. Kenneth Hanks, fiction editor for ‘Freshman’ magazine, had contacted him weeks before Blaine’s return home from Alabama, asking if he’d be interested in submitting a series of stories based on the original. Knowing how strapped his dad was for money, Trent had readily agreed and penned not one but three stories. So impressed by the quality of his work, Hanks had offered him a two year contract, and Trent was now writing for the magazine on a regular basis.
Examining Blaine’s red-rimmed eyes, Trent sighed. He had yet to share his good fortune with his boyfriend, and considering the news just handed to him, he thought it wise to keep silent. One disaster at a time.
“How’s your dad handling it?” he inquired. Releasing his hold, he tenderly brushed back the damp strands of hair clinging to Blaine’s forehead. “He is trying to talk her out of leaving, right?”
Keeping his gaze locked on the cement floor beneath his feet, Blaine shook his head. “I don’t know. Right now, Dad’s living with Dan in his part of the house. Mom insisted he stay there until she’s gone.”
Wishing he knew the right words to say, Trent, instead, turned his attention to the task of finding them somewhere to sit. He wrestled two tires out of the rack and laid them on their sides. Pointing to the nearest one, he insisted, “Sit down before you fall down.
Blaine did as he was instructed but scooted as close as possible to Trent the moment his ass was parked on his own tire.
“It’s all my fault, you know. If I had thought things through instead of letting my damn pride get in the way, none of this shit would have happened.” Blaine hit himself in the chest. “I’m such an idiot.”
Trent took hold of the hand intent on shattering his boyfriend’s sternum. “Yes, you are, but I still love you.” He kissed each knuckle. “Can’t believe you did that for me. Fucking blows my mind, you posing nude just so you’d have the money to fly home for my prom.”
Blaine pulled his hand free. “Doesn’t undo the damage that’s already been done.” He hung his head. “Jesus, I can’t believe my mom is leaving. Was my posing for that centerfold that horrific?”
Trent watched as Blaine picked at the thinning patch of denim covering his right knee.
“It’s not like we’ve kept my homosexuality a secret,” his boyfriend went on to explain. “I came out to everyone years ago -- parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, most of Mom and Dad’s friends. Hell, I even dated some of their sons. What’s so different now?”
Anger soon replaced sorrow. Blaine stood and pounded his fist against the wall. “I’m gay. I posed nude for a gay magazine. Why is that so wrong? Is my mom suddenly ashamed of me? Ashamed that I’m like Dad and enjoy taking it up the ass?” He spun around and pinned Trent with his heated gaze. “Tell me, Trent. Tell me why my mom is leaving.”
Trent rose to his feet and cautiously placed his hand on Blaine’s shoulder. “I don’t think your mom’s leaving has anything to do with you.” He silenced Blaine’s protest with a stern look. “Wait, let me explain.”
Nervously, he ran a hand through his hair before speaking again. “Now, I may be wrong, but I think this thing between your mom and dad has been brewing for quite some time. Yeah, your misguided choice may have added fuel to the fire, but I don’t think it’s the reason for them calling it quits.”
“They’re not calling it quits, you asshole,” Blaine snapped. “It’s a temporary separation. That’s all."
Moving himself out of slugging range, Trent continued. “If you want my honest opinion, I think it was my story about Dan and your dad doing the nasty that caused the split---”
“Sorry,” he backpedaled, “uh, the separation. What I wrote was like a slap in the face to your mom. And yeah, I know you’ve told me in the past how cool she is with their relationship. Well, Budman, it’s obvious she *ain’t* as cool as she says she is. I mean, think about it. Would you be okay if it was me wanting to make some girl, let’s say Sarah, a part of our relationship? I don’t know about you, but I’d be mad as hell.”
Blaine’s reaction was explosive. “That son of a bitch! Dad promised me Mom understood his needs, and that if push came to shove, she, not Dan, would be his first choice. God, I’m gonna kill him for lying to me.”
Trent grabbed Blaine by the arm and kept him from charging off. “Whoa there, Budman. How do you know your dad chose Dan over your mom? Have you actually talked to him or for that matter, talked to your mom? For all we know, your dad’s fighting tooth and nail to keep her at home.”
“You’re wrong, Trent,” Blaine corrected. “He’d be kicking Dan out on his ass if he was, and that’s not happening. The two of them were sitting together on the porch swing when I left to come here.”
“Then I don’t know what to tell you,” Trent conceded. “I’m not sure what’s going on between your dad and mom, but whatever it is I’m bettin’ the two of us have, unintentional as it may seem, contributed to it.”
Reclaiming his seat, Trent felt a small sense of relief when Blaine sat down beside him.
“Do you think if we apologize for being morons that they’ll stop all this nonsense and get back together?” Blaine asked.
“Nope.” Trent claimed Blaine’s left hand and examined the commitment band he wore. “We could apologize, but I don’t think that’s the answer.”
“How ‘bout talking?” Blaine suggested. “You talk to my dad. I’ll talk to my mom.”
Trent hummed with pleasure when the area behind his right ear was nuzzled. “Feels good, babe. Feels damn good.”
There was more nuzzling, followed by some biting and some kissing. It was a good attempt at distraction, but Trent wasn’t falling for it.
“Okay,” he gasped for air while shoving Blaine back toward his tire, “let’s say we talk to them. Are you gonna be able to handle what they tell us? What if they split up, get a divorce? What if your mom won’t take your dad back even if he does agree to end his relationship with Dan? What if your dad can’t live without Dan and can’t convince your mom he needs them both? Can you handle that? Can you accept it?”
Blaine met his gaze square on. “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. It’s always been Mom and Dad. Don’t know how I’d feel if it was Dad and Dan, and Mom with somebody else. It’d probably hurt like hell, like a fast ball to the gut.” Shaking his head, he snorted. “We’re a fucking soap opera, Trent. That’s what we are, a fucking soap opera.”
Shaking his head, Trent contemplated the direction he’d planned for his fiction series. The outline for the next chapter had the ‘Allanah/mother’ character falling in love with her oldest daughter’s soccer coach, thus throwing the family into major chaos. Wounded by his wife’s unfaithfulness, the father turned to his male lover and, once the divorce was final, moved with him back to California. Whether his and Blaine’s characters followed was the subject for a future chapter.
Trent frowned. Considering his boyfriend’s current situation, the entire idea would have to be scrapped or at least put on hold. No way could he write such a thing. He valued his relationship with Blaine too much to inflict additional pain upon both him and his family. One such incident was enough.
Trent looked through the space between two tires and caught sight of Alex Desselle. An idea came immediately to mind, and he nearly vibrated with excitement. Revenge was sweet and putting it down on paper was only the start. He grinned. Oh yeah, this would be good, better than good.
Offering Blaine another rib-crushing hug, he wiped the smile off his face and
commiserated with his boyfriend. “You’re right, Budman. We’re an Emmy award
winning soap opera. Who knew?”
End of chapter 22
Disclaimer: These characters belong to me, myself and I. Removing them from their peaceful Southern home without my permission will not be kindly looked upon.