“You weren’t kidding when you told me it was way outside of town. There is nothing but fields now. You sure there is a house somewhere?”
“Unless I caught some serious amnesia between leaving to pick you up from the airport and now, yes, I am sure.” Hailey chuckled.
Finally she pulled the car onto a widened part of a dirt road and turned off the engine.
“That’s as far as the carriage will be able to take you, mylord. The rest will be on foot. Hope you packed light.”
They walked down the dirtroad, lined by high hedges and trees. Livestock sounding in the distance, horses naying and mooing of cows as a reply, while birds were singing. Finally, in the distance, a small log cabin came into view.
“Here we are.”
“WOW! Just WOW!” Blake looked onto something that looked right out of a children’s book. It just screamed serenity and coziness. And then he saw the sign, just staring at it.
In big letters it read ‘SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW …’
“Told you … my dad helped me make it. We can go fish without even leaving the property by the way.”
They entered the home, he put down the bags, she gave him the tour which took less than two minutes. They went fishing, cooked, finally curled up in front of the TV together, fireplace rustling.
Hailey snuggled up to Blake.
“This is perfect Hailz. You are perfect.”
“Are you trying to get into my pants again?”
“Nope. Firstly, you’re not wearing any. And secondly, no, I swear, I wasn’t. Totally innocent.”
“I hope so, because this place only has one bedroom. Dad and Lyle are working on building out the basement whenever they can get away from the farm for a while, but until then, what you see is all there is, one tiny bedroom and this very couch.”
“Why are you always so very cruel to me?”
“Am I? I didn’t say you’d have to sleep on it.”
“Are you saying … are we … sharing …?”
She gave him that look that made his heart race, he leaned in to kiss her but she stopped him.
“Hold those horses – I have conditions.”
“You have to go to your family and make up. Especially with your dad and grandparents. And Ally. I run into her every so often and she is super-pissed at you. You need to make your rounds, during this stay, and see if you can fix it.”
“If I do all that, then can I at least kiss you?”
“If you do all that, we can share the bed.”
“Share as in … you mean we …. us … together? Yes! I’ll do it! I’ll kiss any butt I can get a hold of. I’ll do anything you ask.”
“Share as friends. Sorry, still not just some side-piece, Blake. If you really want this – us – as much as you keep saying, you will have to find a way to not get further than smiles and pictures with those other women. It’s been years now to build – or ruin – your reputation, that should be enough. No need to keep that up. I need a line in the sand. If you really want me, instead of all of them, that is. Once I see you are committed, there can be more again, but not before. Unless of course the great big superstar is too good for commi… hmph.”
Blake just kissed her.
“Hey! That wasn’t the deal! Quit randomly kissing me!”
“I took a down-payment! Give me something, Hailz. At least a little kiss every now and then. Come on. I cannot be that repulsive to you. And I already said I’d do it. Everything you ask, consider it done. Promise!”
“Fine, I am going to believe you’ll do it. And I guess a little kissing here and now won’t kill us. And maybe a little snuggling, I have to admit, that is kinda addictive. But no further, no way. And if you kiss me, can you at least do it like you mean it?”
“Come here you!” Blake pulled her close and kissed her, long and with a lot of passion. This time she didn’t fight it.
At some point both came up for air, and Hailey said quietly.
“Blake? I know it’s not that late yet, but …” Hailey smiled, cheeks aglow.
“… I am very tired!” Blake added quickly, catching her hint.
“You’re not!” she giggled.
“Am too! Long flight and airports and … stress … and I make an amazing body pillow. You should try me, Hailz. Talk about addictive … ”
She gave him a little smile, nodding to the bedroom door.
The next morning Blake woke before Hailey, went outside watching the dawn of the new day over the scenic rolling hills of Windenburg, breathing clean air, listening to the birds’ songs as he thought about his own personal trap, self-made.
What he really wanted was to just drop everything in Del Sol Valley and just stay right here. But he knew that would cause an immense mountain of issues, probably not only for him. And his father had already told him that he made his bed, he had to lie in it until the contract was up. `
A commitment was a commitment and to be honored.
The contract was only for a few more months, when it was up for renewal, he could make his exit and only then. He would not want to disappoint his dad again, so he resisted his impulse to just drop everything right away.
No, this time he really wanted to do right by everybody who mattered in his life.
So for now he’d have to be Drake in Del Sol Valley and could be Blake back home in Brindleton Bay / Windenburg until the very minute his contract was up.
All he could do in the meantime was to sneak away from his alter ego, the fame and fortune whenever he could muster it and go to a secret location where he was always welcome with open arms.
Somewhere only we know …
“I am so sorry grandpa!” Blake looked sincere, he meant it and was also trying to hide his shock when he saw how much his grandparents had aged over the past two plus years.
“I know you are, you bozo. Come here and give this old fool a hug! Takes a real man to apologize! Proud of you, kid!”
KC embraced his grandson, while Blake’s grandmother Everleigh, his father Ethan and half-brother Elias stood by smiling until it was their turn.
After the greeting, hugs and apologies, Elias went to do his homework, accompanied by Everleigh to help him, Blake looked a little surprised to see them disappear in his aunt’s former bedroom upstairs. Ethan exchanged uncomfortable glances with his father and Blake had wondered about all the boxes in the entryway but not said anything.
KC cleared his throat and dropped the bomb .
“Your father and half-brother have moved in with your grandma and me. Temporarily. Guess if and when you come for one of those promised frequent visits now, we’ll have to get a guest bed for the home office. Unless you just stay with Hailey all the time now.”
“You’re selling the house?” Blake looked at his father, surprised, Ethan nodded and looked at Blake with a sad expression, but smiled slightly.
“Already sold. We closed two weeks ago. After the divorce it didn’t seem right to stay there. Too much has happened there, the bad began to outweigh the good. Blythe and I are splitting the proceeds. This is much easier for Eli, school’s down the street, when he gets out someone is here to watch him, help with homework, like dad has done with you. And I have a straight shot to the office, without having to deal with ferries etc.”
“Wait, what?! Divorce?! Why?! When?!”
“Oh, right. Sorry, I forgot you wouldn’t know about that. In this small town, seems like everybody knows everything. That was insensitive to tell you this way. Yes, Blythe and I are divorced. Was finalized a month and change ago, but she moved out long before that. Her attorney called it ‘irreconcilable differences’. Blythe left me, and I am a single dad yet again. Story of my life. But at least we can help mom and dad while we all live together.” Ethan was trying his best to fake being upbeat.
“Hey now son, I don’t need no help, nor does your mother! If she needed help, I would be the one helping her! We may not be spring chickens anymore, but aren’t some frail old bitties, Ethan! You and Eli are staying here because your mother and I thought it’s better for you both, not the other way around. Nobody here needs elder care!” KC was unusually flustered.
“Sorry dad, not what I meant. Meant yard work and strenuous stuff. Even after we move out until you get over … uh … the other thing. Are we going to tell him?” Ethan tried to dig himself out from the hole while accidentally falling into another.
“I have managed just fine! You believe that shit, Blake? And yes, we’ll tell him since you already babbled it out half-way. Dumber than a chunk of phlegm sometimes! Better he finds out right away than by you klutz tripping over yourself again.” KC addressed Ethan, still not appeased.
“Tell me what, guys …?” Blake asked confused, afraid what else might be there to tell.
He felt uneasy about whatever horrors may await, while feeling genuinely sorry for his dad. He should have been here for his father when he needed him. Dammit!
“Well, how are you doing with the news, kid?” Ethan asked him, dodging answering the question.
“Okay, I guess. You know I was never a big fan of Blythe, so if I were to act all heartbroken you both know I would be lying, but you living here means I get to see both of you more. So yeah, I am okay, but if you need to talk or something, call me anytime. I mean it, dad. And I am really sorry for you and Eli.” Blake said, the words sounded odd in his ears.
“Maybe you could spend more time with your brother, that would really help me. He still idolizes you like he always has. And you know better than most that he could really use someone like you now. Divorce isn’t easy on the kids, even though ours was pretty amicable and calm. However you may feel about Blythe, she is Eli’s mother.” Ethan said.
“You got it. I’ll see what I can do for the squirt.” Blake attempted a smile, failing, especially when he looked at KC’s serious face, as he began to speak again.
“Fantastic. Now that this is out of the way, here goes my news: once your dad finishes up his and Eli’s home, they’ll be moving out again as soon as I got a clean bill of health from the next tests at the hospital. I had a bit of a heart scare, your grandmother freaked out, took me to the hospital, and of course they acted like I was fixin’ to bust down the pearly gates, that is how hospitals make their money. So now I am on a bunch of medications, lots of restrictions, no more good food, no beer, no nookie – I’ll let you guess which one of those has got me so friggin grumpy – anyway, all that until the uncle doc says it’s okay. So your father and his evil twin sister stacked hands with your grandmother on Ethan squatting here to ‘keep an eye on me’. Once the doc confirms I am strong as a bull again, your father will hopefully move them damn ugly ass boxes out of my hallway and garage into his own damn place. Keeps telling me ‘soon’ but starting to think I’ll have fossilized before that ever happens! Give the little finger … ” KC grumbled.
“Dad!” Ethan was horrified.
“Blake, quit looking like I am about to kick the fucking bucket! The only thing I am sick with is your father and your grandmother babbling about EC Architects ALL the damn time now. I love my kids, honest, I do, I’d give my life for either or both, but I can’t wait till he takes his shit and his butt back outta here! I finally got her to fully quit that place, now my son is not only squatting here, but reeling her back in. I want my own place back, just your grandma and I, and everybody else can visit. Or better yet, we’ll visit and ya’ll get stuck with the cleaning up after. On that note: Christmas will be at either your aunt’s or father’s home this year, if he ever gets that done! You have missed everything the past years, Blake, time for you to remember to show up where it counts, even if we don’t blow sugar up your ass or want in your breeches, but at least we’re all real ’round here.”
“Dad, soon, just finishing up the interior .. some had to be redone, just wasn’t up to par …” Ethan mumbled, his ego bruised.
“You think you got one of them dang TV shows now, son, where they over-analyze hammering a fucking nail into a wall and make it an hour-long documentary? If I do it myself, you see how fast it gets done. Blake, your fancy architect father remodeled the ruins of the salt-bitten-deteriorated Beach House for us to move into once we sold this way too big money-pit, took his no-good-sunnuvabitches contractors for-friggin-ever just for the structure, then I had enough, sent them suckers into the desert and did the entire inside my-damn-self in less than two weeks!”
“Yeah, and ended up in the hospital twice because of your heart!” Ethan reprimanded, obviously worried.
“Oh, zip it son, if you would’ve hired people worth the skin wasted on them I wouldn’t have had to get so worked up. And my heart is fine. It’s the aggravation you all cause me…”
“You have heart problems, grandpa?! And you are moving too?!” Blake finally managed to get out some words, shaken up, shocked and feeling like he had been gone for twenty years, not two.
How had everything changed so much in that short amount of time?!
“Yes, he does!” Ethan exclaimed.
“No, I do not! But I am going to do whatever in some other room where you two are NOT! Enjoy discussing how much of a lame duck I am in your ungrateful eyes behind my back!”
After the obvious hint by KC the remaining father and son soon bid goodbye, Blake was now dead-set on making his visits frequent.
He was shaken up by all the news and realized how fleeting life was.
Over the coming months he would honor his promises. To everyone. Visits followed frequently, even though often only a couple days at a time.
Things with his grandparents were quickly to the point where they had been before. He rekindled with his father, his cousin Ally and the rest. And even better, nobody ever treated him like anything other than Blake. Only Ally would occasionally tease him a little.
Blake even made a genuine effort towards both half-brothers.
Parker, the older of the two and Blake’s late mother’s son with her second husband, was shockingly eager to bond, he seemed introverted and lost.
Maybe because his father Carson was always travelling and even when Amy, his and Blake’s mother, had still been alive, she had been aloof and unable to bond with her own son due to her mental illness.
Having a brother to bond with now was gold for the 15 year old.
While the precursors were different, his other half-brother Elias, was just as eager to have a real relationship with his sibling.
Why was beyond Blake as he had never been very nice to him before now.
Eli was 13, almost 14, but already towering over Blake, who unlike his half-brother had not inherited their father’s and grandfather’s significant height, and while Eli’s admiration for his older brother was more subdued now in his teens, it was still there and obvious even to Blake.
KC told him if he wanted to make things up to all, to be a solid role model for the boy.
So Blake tried.
Shockingly, he even enjoyed it, even though he felt like a fraud, knowing his own life was miles from where everything should be.