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CasaLuna
02 January 2022 @ 09:49 pm

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CasaLuna
12 November 2012 @ 10:14 pm
Title: Feels Like Home
Author: casaluna85
Beta: ditzybea
Artist: aljc100
Rating: PG-13 to R
Genres: AU, Romance, Angst
Characters/Pairings: Luke/Reid, Lily, Mention of Damien, Original Characters
Word count: ~ 25,900
Warnings: Possible OOC-ness, Mentions of Character Death
Disclaimer: Characters are property of ATWT, CBS, P&G etc. Title of the story belongs to the song of the same name by Edwina Hayes. No profit is made from this fan creation. No copyright infringement is intended.

Summary: Luke is a successful author, returning to Oakdale after Damien’s death. He hasn’t been back home in eight years, since his parents split up and Damien took charge of his career. Now he wants to try to rebuild a relationship with his mother Lily, while unsuccessfully trying to avoid Reid, his childhood sweetheart who broke his heart all those years ago. Based on the novel Unfinished Business by Nora Roberts.

Author's Note: Written for lurebigbang. A big thank you to ditzybea for betaing this for me, you rock! Thanks to aljc100 for picking my story and your lovely banner! And last but not least thank you traciamcbhumimak for making this year's Big Bang happen!



Part One I Part Two I Part Three I Part Four I Part Five I Part Six

 
 
CasaLuna
12 November 2012 @ 09:57 pm
Luke unlocked the door to his hotel room and plopped down on the bed; breathing out a sigh of relief. He had just finished the first book reading, followed by an autograph session, and was more than relieved that everything went so smoothly; having been so nervous beforehand. Talking to his fans, hearing their positive feedback reminded him why he loved this job. It was what he missed most while he was in Oakdale in the past several weeks.

A couple of times he had caught himself looking for Reid as he let his eyes wander through the crowd, but he should have known better. Reid hadn’t come to see him off at the airport, he hadn’t called him to wish him luck, or to tell him he would miss him while he was gone. The blond knew that the older man was still angry and he had to admit that he had every right to be. After all, he had been the one who had somehow given Reid hope that they could be more than just friends and lovers, but then backed away. Backed away because he was scared of making a mistake, Luke thought.

There was a knock on the door that pulled him from his thoughts. Knowing who it was, Luke rose from the bed to let his manager in. They had agreed to meet once the reading and autograph session was over. Peter, the man had been his father’s assistant and was now his manager; had always been more like a friend to him than an employee. He could talk to him when he couldn’t talk to Damian. His father had never seemed to understand when Luke spoke about missing having a real home, but Peter did being a father of two, could sympathize with the younger man.

“Hey.” Luke greeted with a smile, gesturing for the other man to come in.

“Thanks.” Peter slipped out of his suit coat, draping it over the backrest of the desk chair before he sat down. “Man, it’s been a crazy day but clearly many people missed you.” He said as Luke sat back down on the bed, giving him a half smile. “Today has definitely been a success. I’ve been asked countless times what your next career move will be or if you’ve been working on a new book while you were visiting home. Anyway, having said that, how do you feel Luke?”

“I’m not really sure.” The blond replied with a shrug of his shoulder. “I mean, when I was out there talking in front of all those people I felt great but now... I’m still not sure if I want to continue living my life like this.”

Peter nodded his head. “I was afraid you’d say something like that. The part of me that is your manager wants to tell you to pull yourself together and to continue where you left off but I see the sadness in your eyes, Luke.”

Luke looked down at his linked hands, then up at Peter’s patient eyes. “Can I ask you something? What’s the most important thing in your life?”

“My family.” Peter answered without hesitation.

“Yeah.” Luke smiled. “You’re so lucky to have a family that supports you, even though you only see them a few times a year.”

“I know. I’m not saying that it’s always easy, I’ve been missing out on a lot but this is what I do and I love my job.”

“If they had asked you to give up your position to be able to spend more time with them, would you?” Luke asked.

“Probably, but with great pain.” Peter replied. “I know you often told me in the past that you missed having a real home, is that why you’re hesitating about what you want to do? Did you finally feel home again when you were back in your hometown?”

“Yeah, I guess I really did.” Luke said, then the corner of his mouth twitched into a smile. “And there is this guy...”

‘About time too’ Peter thought and gave him a smile. “I see. But that guy isn’t asking to give up everything to be with him right?”

“No, he hasn’t.” Luke shifted around. “But I’m not sure if I can give him what he wants.”

Peter was silent for a moment. “I know you Luke and I know this guy is worth it, so, I don’t know why you’d think that but if I had to venture a guess I’d say that you’re scared.” When the blond didn’t respond, Peter rose from the chair. “I’ll leave you to give you some time to think and get some rest.”

“Thank you.” Luke said, getting up as well. “For everything.”

“No worries.” Peter paused at the door. “I'm sure whatever decision you make, it will be the right one.”

When the door closed, Luke pulled out a picture that had been in the back pocket of his jeans all day and sat down again. He flattened out the now crinkled photo. Kayla had slipped him the photo when she had come to see him off at the airport. The photo was of him and Reid at the wedding. They looked so relaxed and content with each other. Suddenly he knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to go home.

Home.

***

Why the hell did I take the day off, Reid thought. He needed his work. Needed it to stop himself from thinking about Luke. Even though it was too damn hot to be out in the afternoon sun, Reid had decided mowing his lawn was better than brooding alone at home to try to get over Luke. It was something that Luke needed to do, but seeing pictures of the blond all over the newspaper and people in town not being able to shut up about it - about him - for the past five days made it very difficult for him.

Reid turned and started the next row, wondering how he could even expect Luke to come back to a one-horse town when he could travel around the world. All he had to offer him was a house in the woods and his unconditional love. No one would ever love him they way he did, the way he had all of his life. Apparently it wasn’t enough for Luke.

Turning the mower off, Reid used the towel that had been draped over the fence to wipe away the sweat from his forehead.

“Shut up!” He snapped at Buster as the dog started to bark. He turned towards the dog, but stopped dead in tracks when he saw why Buster had been barking. There he was, wearing one of those damn tight shirts and had one of those stupid grins on his face. He looked oh so good. But he really wasn’t here. He was off on his tour. The heat and the fact that he barely slept the past few days might be enough to bring on a hallucination.

“Hello, Reid.” Though his heart was hammering in his chest, Luke hoped his voice sounded calm and cool. “You look awfully hot.”

Sweat dripped down Reid’s bare chest as he watched the younger man leaned down to pet the dog. Still bent down, he sent him one of those magnetic crooked smiles. He had to be going crazy. “What are you doing here?” Reid asked, surprised he was able to speak.

Luke straightened, taking a step towards the other man. “I needed to see you.”

Reid snorted, throwing his hands up in the air, frustration seeping through his tension filled body. He turned away from the blond and started towards the front door. How could he come back here, stir him up when he was supposed to move on without him. “What kind of game are you playing Luke?” He asked over his shoulder.

“It’s not a game. It’s never been a game, Reid.” Luke said. “I’m sorry I hurt you.”

“That doesn’t begin to describe what I’m feeling. To watch you leave time and time again, with never a promise, never a future...” Reid’s voice trailed off and he stopped just before he reached the door. Sighing, he ran a hand through his hair. “Just go away, Luke. Leave me alone.”

“Reid.” Luke felt the confidence that had built up during his ride home slowly lessen, but he wouldn’t give up that easily. “You have every right to be angry but I need you to listen to me!”

“Fine. I’m going to move to the shade.” Reid turned away from the blond, rubbing the towel over his bare chest and his face as he walked over to the oak tree with Luke following close behind. He dropped down on the wooden bench, draping the towel back around his neck. “So?”

“So I wonder how the hell I ever fell in love with you. Again.” Luke took a deep breath, moving to sit down next to the older man, knowing that he owed him an explanation. “I’m sorry that it took me so long to figure out what I really wanted. Before I came back here, I did what my father wanted. I went where he directed and it was my fault that I never did anything about it. If I had, things might have been different. I’ll never know.”

“Luke---”

“No, please let me finish.” The blond could still feel his anger, but at least he didn’t pull his hand away when he touched it. “My coming back here was the first thing I decided on my own. I felt like I had to come back. Anything that happened between us was a complete surprise to me. I was confused but at the same time I wanted you. I couldn’t think clearly around you. Things got out of control so quickly but I never wanted to hurt you, Reid. But I knew you’d be upset when you’d find out that I would go back to New York.”

Reid sighed. “You know, I wouldn’t ask you to give up your writing or your career Luke. I’m not that guy. That wasn’t why I was upset.”

“I know.” Luke rose from the bench and Reid did the same. “It wasn’t until I was away again, reading in front of all those people in New York, that I realized it was what I wanted to do. This time I decided. I chose to go to New York. I wanted to do the reading and have hundreds of people listen and it felt wonderful.”

“I’m glad for you.” Reid took the younger man’s hand to squeeze it before he stepped back, stuffing his hands in his jeans pocket. “I am really glad for you, but I meant it when I said I wouldn’t ask you to give up your career.”

“That’s good to know.”

“Damn it, Luke. I know a house in the woods can’t compare with New York or London, but I still want us to have a life together when you’re here and I want you to ask me to go with you whenever I can.”

“I wasn’t finished.”

Rage flickered again. “Now, what is it?”

“I’m not going to leave again.”

“What? You just said---”

“I said that it was my decision to do the reading and that it felt wonderful. It was important for me to know that I can write when I want to do it. It’s like I can finally be the person I haven’t had a chance to be since I was seventeen.” With a smile, Luke grabbed Reid’s hands. “I chose to come back. I was trying so hard to figure how I could have both my career and a relationship with you, but when I was away, I realized I don’t have to make that decision right now. If I’ll decide to write another book I want to do it without the pressure and take my time with it. I want to get to know my mother again and as much as it amazes me, I want to teach. Maybe I’ll even finally go to college who knows?” Smiling, he framed Reid’s face with his hands. “If there is one thing I’m sure of it’s that I want to be with you. I love you Reid.”

Luke brought his lips to Reid’s and kissed him long and hard. He felt the world disappear around him as the older man’s strong arms were around him, holding him as close as possible while they kissed in the shade of the big oak tree.

Reid was breathless when he finally pulled away, only far enough that he could look into Luke’s eyes. “How do I know you won’t leave me again? I mean you’re really sure that this is what you want?”

“Yes, Reid. I’m absolutely, one hundred percent sure.” Luke pressed a gentler kiss to his still swollen lips. “I promise I won’t let you down, I will never hurt you again. I just want to be with you. I love you Reid Oliver.”

“I love you too.” The corner of his mouth twitched into a smile. “A few minutes ago I was mad at you.” He said, making the younger man chuckle, who planted a kiss to his jaw. He wrapped his arms tightly around Luke and pulled him close to his heart, breathing in the blond warm scent. When he spoke again his voice was more serious, but barely above a whisper into Luke’s ear. “Don’t you ever walk away from me, ever again.”

“Never. This feels like home.”


The End.


 
 
CasaLuna
12 November 2012 @ 09:49 pm
Reid rubbed his tired eyes. His ten-hour day was almost at an end. It was his fifth ten-hour day that week. Along with the usual stream of patients and paperwork, there was an outbreak of a summer illness, which turned out to be minor, kept him tied to his stethoscope over the last few days. The waiting room had been packed since the weekend and as the only doctor in residence, Reid had to shoulder all the work by himself because his father was still on his honeymoon.

The auburn haired man had barely seen Luke since the weekend of the wedding; he even had been forced to cancel four dates. He could get by with frozen microwave meals and just a few hours of sleep a night, but he couldn’t get by without seeing Luke.

At least he knows beforehand how bad it could get if you’re in a relationship with a doctor, Reid thought. Postponed vacations, canceled dinners and interrupted sleep. Luke would have to get used to all that when they wanted to build a solid relationship. And they were going to have a solid relationship, he was determined. Reid hadn’t known how much he wanted that, until he’d seen him again.

He’d promised himself he would take it slowly with Luke, give him time, but Reid was an impatience man. If it were up to him, the blond would move in with him sooner rather than later. He always wanted to have the blond around, for the rest of his life.

Closing the file on his desk, Reid looked up to find Luke standing in the doorway with a faint smile on his lips and he found himself returning the smile. “Hi.”

“Hello doctor. I thought you might like to have real dinner for a change.” Luke stepped further into the room and put the bag he carried on the desk. With a quick laugh, Luke looked around the office. “It’s kind of weird to see you like this, you know like a real doctor.”

“I can take off my lab coat, if that helps.” Reid quipped as he walked around the desk to the blond.

“Don’t you dare. I like it. It looks kinda hot.” Luke leaned in for a quick kiss but somehow it didn’t turn out quick.

Their lips opened and tongues met while Reid’s arms slipped around the younger man, pulling him tight against him. It seems like years since he had been able to hold Luke against him. They were both panting when they broke the kiss.

“Here I thought we were just going to be having lunch.” Luke said softly trying to ease some of the amped up tension in the air. Reid slipped his hand through Luke’s silky hair and pulled the blonde’s forehead to meet his.

“I’ve missed you.” Reid whispered softly. Luke felt his heart melt and goose bumps erupted across his body. Luke wondered if Reid meant the last few days or was he talking about the years he had been living away from Oakdale. Luke locked eyes with Reid saw a devilish glint shine in his baby blues.

Reid gently slid a hand under Luke’s shirt, lightly letting it rest on his heart. “Your heart is beating pretty fast. I think I’ll have to check on that.”

Luke didn’t protest when the older man started to unbutton his shirt. He caught his lower lip between his teeth to keep himself from smiling and stood still as Reid listened to his heartbeat through his stethoscope. “And?”

“Yeah your heart is definitely racing.” Reid took the blonde’s hand, placing it on his own chest. “I think its catching too.”

“Is that so?” Slowly, Luke roamed his face with kisses, until their lips met into a passionate kiss. “God you taste so good.” He whispered, nibbling at Reid’s earlobe.

“You’re asking for trouble.”

Luke gasped in surprise when Reid lifted him up onto the desk, files scattering to the floor in progress. Reid stood between Luke parted knees and needed to be as close to Luke as he could. Their lips crashed together and the blond pulled him even closer, tangling a hand through the older man’s curled strands of hair and pulling as his hip. They clung to each other, once again indulging in their passion for one another. They didn’t say much else during Reid “lunch” break; neither wanting to burst the bubble. They were taking things slow, but you couldn’t tell by the sounds coming from Dr. Oliver’s office.

But reality did break in. After Reid yelled at another incompetent intern, they decided a change in venue was appropriate.

***

An hour and half later they were at Luke’s mother’s house, sprawled across Luke’s bed, finished eating the lunch, now dinner, that the blond had brought for the older man earlier.

With a satisfied sigh, Reid leaned back against the pillow, rubbing his stomach. “I won’t complain if you decide to bring me dinner every day from now on. Just so you know.”

Chuckling, Luke shifted closer to Reid, resting his head on his shoulder. “I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you too.” Reid said, wrapping an arm around Luke’s shoulder. “I’m sorry this week has been so messed up.”

“No. I understand. It’s your job Reid.”

Reid leaned down to place a kiss on his temple. “I’m glad you do.”

Luke cupped his cheek. “You must be tired.”

“I was before I saw you.” Reid grinned and gave Luke a little eyebrow wiggle. “By the way, did you get a postcard too?”

“Yes, I got one today.” Luke replied. “It seems like your dad and my mom are having a great time in Paris.”

“Yeah, I’d like to switch places with them when they are back in Oakdale.”

“Switch places?”

Reid shifted around so that he could look into Luke’s eyes. “I want to go away with you somewhere. We can go wherever you want. I want to be alone with you.”

Luke swallowed. “We’re alone now.”

Sighing, Reid took Luke’s hand in his own. “You know, I realized something in the past few days. I realized that I can’t live without you anymore. I know I sound like a broken record, but seeing you only a couple of times a week isn’t enough for me anymore. I want you to move in with me. I want us to be partners Luke; to build a life together. I love you. I always have and will love you for the rest of my life.”

“Reid. I can’t. It’s too soon.” Luke pressed a hand to his chest. “We’ve known each other almost our whole lives but in some ways it’s like we’ve only met a few weeks ago.” He paused for just a moment, searching for the right words. “I thought if I ever saw you again that it wouldn’t matter, that I wouldn’t feel it again. But it turns out that I do feel it and that makes it even more difficult. I can’t be with you that way Reid. I can’t give you what you want. Not until I know what I really want in my life.”

“My feelings aren’t going to change, Luke.” Reid gently cupped the other man’s cheek; pulling Luke’s gaze to his. “I’m not letting you go this time. I’ll come after you if I have too. We belong to each other. Sooner or later you’re going to realize that.”

When Reid’s mouth came to his, Luke tasted his hunger and the need and when his arms went around his middle he wished that this could be enough but he knew it wasn’t enough.

In the morning when he woke up alone, Luke was afraid it would never be.

***

“Bye Mr. Grimaldi.” Flashing a final grin, the young girl walked out the front door.

“See you next week, Amanda.” Luke called after his student with a contented smile on his face. He was starting to enjoy tutoring and there was also the bonus of keeping his mind of Reid for at least a few hours a day.

The blond went back into the living room to prepare his next lesson when he heard the front screen slam and walked back into the hallway. “Hi Kayla.”

“Hey.” She greeted cheerfully, shifting Tyler to her other hip.

The baby immediately reached his arms out to Luke, who took him from his best friend . “Hey there little man. Did you miss me?” He tickled the baby, making him giggle.

Kayla grinned. “I just ran into Amanda. Just how many students do you have now?”

“Eight.” Luke replied, cuddling the baby. “That’s my absolute limit though. Can I get you anything to drink?”

“No, thanks. I only have a couple of minutes. Don’t you have another student coming?”

“Not until tomorrow.” He explained. “What’s your hurry?”

“I just stopped by to see if you have time to watch your godson for a couple of hours? Dad and Lily will be back in a few hours and I want to see them but I’ve got like a dozen errands to run before that.” Kayla said. “I’d save me a lot of time and trouble if I didn’t have to carry this little monster around.”

“Are you kidding me? I’d love to spend some time with him.” Luke pressed a kiss to Tyler’s cheek. “We’re going to have a great time together, right buddy?”

“You’re the best friend ever!” Kayla cheeped, kissing her friend on the cheek before engaging him into a bear hug. “I nursed him before I left home and there is a bottle of apple juice in the diaper bag. And you really don’t have anything else you have to do?”

“I was going to prepare the lesson for my next student tomorrow but it can wait.” Luke replied.

“All right.” Kayla said. “I guess Reid will be coming by.”

“Um I don’t know.” He replied with a shrug of his shoulder.

“I noticed the tension between you two in the last few days. The couple of times I’ve seen Reid, he hasn’t been in a really good mood.” Kayla had been hopeful that her best friend and her brother would finally get back together. “So what’s going on?”

Luke sighed. “He told me that he wants me to move in with him.” There he said it, out loud, to another person. He had been holding it in for so long.

“Wow! That’s wonderful!” Kayla clapped her hands in excitement and jumped in place.

“I said no.”

“What? You said no?” She tried not to show her disappointment. “Why?”

“It’s too soon Kayla. I’ve only been back a few weeks now and so much happened.” Luke ran his fingers through his hair. “When I got here, I wasn’t even sure how long I would stay and now I’m considering to whether to continue my writing career.”

“That doesn’t mean you can’t have a personal life, Luke.” Kayla said. “You love him don’t you?”

“Yes, I think I do.” The blond said without hesitation. “I just need more time to figure out what I really want and if we both want the same things.”

“You’d better figure fast. Knowing my brother, he won’t give you a lot of time.”

“I’ll take as much time as I need.” Luke said, shifting Tyler to his other hip. “You’d better go if you want to get back before my mom and Frank come home.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. I’ll go get the diaper bag.” She touched his arm and squeezed it. “I know you’re already my stepbrother, but I’m still hoping you’ll be brother-in-law one day.”

***

During the past week, Reid had tried to keep his distance from Luke. While he knew he might have taken the younger man by surprise when he told him that he wanted a future with him, it still hurt to be turned down by the man you loved. He wanted to believe that Luke might have changed his mind now that he gave him some time to think things through but he didn’t want to give his hopes up. Either way, Reid needed to see him today.

When he knocked on the front there was no answer. Not surprising, Reid thought, then he heard the banging and crashing from inside the house. He opened the door and walked down the hall to the living room. Whatever he’d been expecting, it hadn’t been his nephew banging pots and cans with a wooden spoon while Luke sat on the couch massaging his temples.

Reid cleared his throat. “Hi.”

Luke’s head jolted up. “Hey. I didn’t hear you come in.”

“That’s hardly surprising.” The older man reached down to pick up Tyler and gave him a kiss on the forehead, before turning his attention back to the blond. “He’s a handful, isn’t he?”

Luke shrugged his shoulder. “I don’t mind. Kayla had some errands to run and asked me if I could watch him for a few hours.”

Reid set the baby down to let him play with the “toys” again and walked over to the couch to sit down next to the blond. Immediately he reached out a hand to tucked a strand of hair behind Luke’s ear. “Headache?”

“A little.” Luke admitted, forcing a small smile. “Nothing a pill and some sleep won’t cure.”

“Maybe this will help make you feel better...” Reid leaned in to kiss the younger man on the mouth, but Luke turned his head away in the last moment. “Don’t.”

Reid let out a sigh. “I take it you didn’t change your mind?”

“What did you expect?” Luke snapped. He didn’t want to yell in front of the baby and took a calming breath. “As much as I care for you I don’t know if I can give up my career nor if I want to.”

“I never asked you to give up anything for me, Luke.” Reid said gently.

“No, but what happens when I’m gone for weeks at time to promote a new book, when I have to devote many hours to writing? What kind of relationship would that be Reid?”

“I don’t know.” He looked down at his Tyler, who was still gleefully playing with the pots and cans. “So you’re seriously considering going back to the life you lived in the past few years?”

“I have to consider it.” Luke replied. “I’m a writer, Reid. What I do doesn’t save lives, but apparently it’s what I do best.”

Reid took Luke’s hand in his own. “I want to be with you. I want us to have a home together and maybe even have a child of our own one day. We can do that here in Oakdale, where we both belong.”

Luke looked down on their joined hands for a moment before he let his hand slip away. “Reid. I leave for New York next week.”

“New York?” Reid had the sudden urge to stand and then he started pacing.

“Yeah. My assistant called me a while ago and I’ve agreed to do some readings and autograph sessions that had been planned for a while.” Luke had only agreed to go to New York if he didn’t have to give any interviews right now, not wanting to be questioned about the death of his father or anything regarding his career.

“I see.” Reid ran a hand through his curls. “Why didn’t you mention anything?”

Luke wiped his hands on his thighs. “I guess with everything that happened between us, I wasn’t sure how you would react. Besides, however selfish it sounds, it was something I needed to decide for myself.”

Reid snorted. “So were you going to wait until you were leaving for the airport or did you plan on giving me a call when you’re already in New York?” He clenched his fists. “I’m starting to think that everything that happened between us in the past weeks didn’t mean anything to you.”

“I think you know better.” Luke said firmly.

“All I know is that you’re leaving next week.”

“It’s only for a couple of days, maybe a week tops.”

“And then?” Reid asked.

“I don’t know.” Luke sighed. “Peter, my manager, wants to fill me in about everything that has been going on since I took a time out and I’ll take it from there.”

“You’ve told me that you’re not even sure that it’s really what you want to do. That it was your father who pushed your career on you and now you’re talking about going back all of a sudden?”

“All I want is the chance to decide what I really want to do. I can’t do that when I’m here and I realize it’s unfair for me to ask you to wait, so I won’t.” Luke fought the urge to take Reid’s hand. “Whatever happens, I want you to know that the past weeks with you meant everything to me.”

“So you say.” Reid said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “If you really leave like this, I won’t spend the rest of my life wishing for you Luke. Not again.”

As they sat close, their eyes locked on each other’s, Kayla walked into the room.

“Hey, I’m back. Sorry it took so long.” She lifted Tyler up and gave him a kiss before she took in the mess on the living room floor. “It looks like my little monster made quite a mess.”

“It’s all right.” Luke managed, shifting away from the older man. “I’m glad I got to spend some time with him.”

“Well I’ll keep that in mind when we need a babysitter the next time.” She smiled. “By the way seems like both of you have a good timing. Look who I ran into outside.” Kayla turned just as Frank and Lily walked in, arm in arm. “Don’t they look great?”

“Welcome back.” Luke said, rising from the couch. “Did you have a good time?”

“It was absolutely wonderful.” Lily replied with a big smile. “It’s true what they say, Paris really is the city of love.”

“What did you do? I hope you guys saw something other than your suite.” Kayla asked while tried to pry wooden spoons from her son’s hands.

“Kayla!” Her father chastised, but couldn’t help but laugh. “We toured the Louvre; there was a river cruise down the Seine; we took long walks and saw some amazing sunsets. It just felt good walking up with this woman every morning.” Frank was literally glowing as he relayed their trip to Kayla. Luke looked up and saw Reid clench his jaw. Luke knew that Reid was happy for his father and his new wife, but Luke could see that there was jealousy simmering under his skin.

“Frank! I don’t think they need to know everything. I was just glad to have your undivided attention for more than a half hour at a time. And as much as loved Paris, I am so glad to be home.” She said and slipped her arms around Frank’s middle. Her new husband reveled in the closeness and pulled her deep into his chest.

“I’ll be back in a minute.” Luke hurried out and made his way to his bedroom. After pacing back and forth for a while, he sat on the bed, burying his head in his hands when he heard a knock on the door.

“May I come in?” Lily asked, peeking into the room.

“Yeah.” Luke let out a sigh. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to ruin your homecoming.”

“I know that and you haven’t ruined anything.” Closing the door, Lily walked over to sit on the bed beside her son. “I could tell you were upset when we came in. Do you want to talk about it?”

Luke hesitated for a moment. “Reid wants me to move in with him. He wants us to build a life together but I can’t do that right now. He even talked about the possibility of having a child together and I just... I guess I feel pressured by what Reid wants. I mean it sounds too good to be true but---”

“But you grew up with parents who were anything but a happy couple.” Lily finished, taking her son’s hand. “I think it’s time that I finally explain something to you.”

“You don’t have to---”

“Yes, I think I do.” She took a deep breath and to gather her courage. “I was nineteen when I married your father. He was almost twenty-eight then and had just moved here to extend his company. I was a very simple girl, with a very simple life, maybe that’s why I was so impressed by him, flattered actually. He swept me off his feet!” Lily got up, walking over to the window. “I got pregnant and... we made a mistake.”

It took Luke a moment to grasp what his mother was trying to say. “Are you saying that you two married because of me?”

“We married because we believed that we loved each other and wanted to be a real family. I didn’t realize until much later that it was more like affection, caring and need.”

“So you felt like you didn’t have a choice but stay with him?” Luke asked quietly.

“There always is a choice.” Lily stepped forward, sitting back down. “You were not a mistake Luke, I don’t want you to think that, ever. You were the best parts of us and we both knew it.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“You were the best thing that ever happened to us. The tragedy was that we were not happy together as much as we tried.”

“Why did you stay together?”

“I’m not really sure. Maybe, we somehow hoped we would find out that we really did love each other.” Lily replied. “Your father and I barely talked to each anymore and if we did we were fighting. I know you used to run from the house to get away from the arguing when you got older. There is no excuse for that. We failed you.” She found the courage to look at her son. “I thought about divorce, but I was a coward. I looked for an escape and I found it with another man.”

“You were lonely.” Luke said, trying to understand.

“Yes, I was.” Lily whispered, taking her son’s hand again. “It was wrong for your father and I to rush things but it doesn’t mean that it won’t be different for you. You and Reid have known each other for a long time and holding back something that is right for you is as foolish as rushing into something that’s wrong.”

“But how do I know the difference?”

“You will.” She smiled a little, squeezing her son’s hand. “There wasn’t a day that I didn’t think of you, that I didn’t miss you. If I could turn back the time---”

Luke shook his head. “It’s in the past. I think it’s time that we start over.”


----> Part 6

 
 
CasaLuna
11 November 2012 @ 10:02 pm
For the next two weeks Luke and Kayla were busy sending out invitations and planning the wedding of their parents. They ordered flowers, hired a photographer and a caterer, and planned the reception. The weather forecasts were good, so Lily and Frank decided to have the reception in the backyard of their new home instead of the Lakeview.

Luke also went out with Reid almost every night. To the movies, to dinner or sometimes they’d just walk around and talk for hours. Each night, when the older man walked him to the door, Reid would kiss him on the cheek. He realized that he really was giving him time to think things through. He finally felt completely relaxed around him, getting to know each other again.

The night before the wedding, the blond decided to stay at home because he knew how nervous his mom was and he didn’t want her to be alone.

“I hope it doesn’t rain.” Lily said, fiddling around with her bracelet.

“The forecast says sunny and in the low 80s. Don’t worry.”

Lily managed a smile. “You’ve already told me that, haven’t you?”

“Only a couple of dozen times.” Luke teased, biting his lip to keep himself from smiling. Unable to resist, he continued. “It’s too bad you can’t go on your honeymoon right away.”

“Oh well, at least we’ll have more time to plan everything. Frank just couldn’t clear his schedule at such short notice.” Lily replied with a shrug of her shoulder, not wanting to show her disappointment. “Is that rain? Do I hear rain?”

“Mom, for god’s sake! There isn’t going to be any rain!” Luke sighed, when he saw that Lily’s eyes filled with tears. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you.”

“You called me Mom,” Lily said, her voice thick with emotion. “I wasn’t sure if you’d ever do that again.”

Luke remained silent, trying to figure out the right things to say but what could he possibly say in a moment like this? Instead he fished a kleenix out of his pocket and handed it to his mom. “Here.”

“Thank you.” Lily brushed a tear away with the tissue. “I guess I’m a bit emotional tonight.”

Luke gave her a small smile. “Would you like to be alone?”

“No.” Lily replied without hesitation, taking her son’s hand in her own. “You know, for as long as I can remember, I wanted to have children. When I had you, it was the happiest day of my life.”

“I know you loved me.” Luke said, looking down at their joined hands. “Maybe this isn’t the right time to talk about it though.”

“I just want you to know, that I understand that you’re trying to forgive me and that it means so, so much to me. I guess it’s not easy for you to see me getting married to another man and I’m so grateful that you’re trying to accept my relationship with Frank.” Lily squeezed her son’s hand. “I love you, Luke. No matter where you go or what you do, I’ll always love you.”

“I love you too.” Luke replied, pulling his mom into a quick, somewhat awkward hug. “How about you go and take a hot bath before you go to bed?”

“Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.” Lily rose from the couch. “Good night, Luke.”

“Good night.” He said softly and watched her walk upstairs. Her entire life was changing tomorrow and Luke couldn’t help but be a little jealous. She knew what and who she wanted and Luke was still treading water. He just knew that when he finally did decide, it would be what was right for him and no one else.

***

While the bride dressed for her wedding day, Luke was getting more nervous with every passing minute. He checked and re-checked the bottle of champagne that had been set aside for the first family toast, paced back and forth in the livingroom, and looked out in the backyard where her husband-to-be and the wedding guests waited for them.

When Lily finally did come downstairs, Luke stopped dead in tracks when he saw her. His mom had decided on a simple but at the same time elegant white lace halter dress. She was glowing. “You look so beautiful.”

“You really like it?” Lily asked. “I mean it’s just a small, informal wedding...”

“It’s perfect.” Luke assured, smiling at his mom.

“Thank you. I’m so happy.” Lily took a shaky breath, trying to collect herself. “I don’t want to cry.”

“You won’t cry,” Luke said firmly. “Are you ready?”

Lily took another deep breath. “Yes.” She grabbed Luke’s hand and together they stepped out in the backyard and they crossed the lawn. Her son released her hand as they stopped in front of the minister and she gave him a thankful smile.

Luke stepped back and took his place next to Reid, silently sliding his hand into his, and watched his mother marry the man she loved.

A cheer went up and the camera clicked after the minister spoke the words “you may kiss the bride” and the newlywed couple kissed each other deeply.

“Congratulations,” Reid said as he gave his father a hug.

Luke put his confused emotions on hold for a moment and hugged his mother. “Congratulations Mrs. Oliver.”

“Oh, Luke.”

“No crying.” Luke reminded her. “We’ve still got a lot of pictures to take.”

Kayla launched herself at both of them, giving the two of them each a kiss on the cheek. “I’m so happy for you! Congratulations!”

“Let’s go pour the champagne!”

***

One hour later, the wedding reception was in full swing. People lingered in the backyard and the house, some of them sitting at the round tables, others on the grass and a few were dancing to the music that poured from the rear corner of the yard.

It was almost like old times when their families often had BBQ parties in the very same yard, Luke thought but this time it was a wedding. Faces had aged, babies were born, people had died, but the mood was the same. There was the smell of good food, the sounds of laughter and chattering. It seemed like everybody was having a good time.

Luke was sitting on the grass, rocking a sleepy Tyler in his arms when Reid sat down next to him.

“There you are. I’ve been looking for you.” Luke lifted his head to smile at him, before he turned his attention back to their godson. Reid cupped Luke’s chin and gently lifted his head to make the younger man look at him. “How do you feel?”

“Overwhelmed.” Luke replied, brushing a strand of hair out of Tyler’s face. “I guess I feel a little weird about the wedding reception being here at the backyard of your father’s house where we used to have so many BBQ’s and birthday parties with both our family’s. So much changed over the years and I’ve missed---” His voice trailed off when he lifted his head to look at Reid, forgetting his train of thought when he saw the mustard in the corner of the older man’s mouth. He grinned.

“What?”

“Well it seems like your eating habits definitely haven’t changed.” Luke chuckled. “You’ve got a little mustard on your mouth. Here let me.” Without thinking twice he cupped Reid’s cheek and wiped away the mustard with his thumb. His hand stilled for a moment, his thumb lightly caressing the soft skin of Reid’s lips. When he saw the longing look in the older man eyes, Luke hastily dropped his hand and leaned back in his chair. He cleared his throat to ease the tension a bit, which didn’t help.

“Luke.” Reid took a long, steadying breath and took the younger man’s hand in his. “I know I said that I wanted to give you time to think things through but you’re killing me here. Maybe this isn’t the right time nor the right place, but I want you to know that I’m still in love with you.”

Luke started. He couldn’t move at all. “Reid, I---”

“There you are.” Kayla interrupted. She immediately noticed the tension between the two men. “Sorry, I guess I have a bad timing.”

“Go away, Kayla.” Reid grumbled.

“Very nice brother but the limo is here.” Kayla explained. “I think it’s time to see the newlyweds off.”

“You’re right.” Luke scrambled to his feet; moving Tyler to his side. “We don’t want them to miss their plane.” He turned his head to look at Reid. “You’ve got the tickets?”

“Yeah, I have them.” Reid grabbed Luke’s wrist before he could skirt him. “We still have to talk about this Luke.”

“I know. Like Kayla said, it’s bad timing.” Luke replied, almost grateful for the interruption. With Tyler on his hip, he hurried past Reid to find his mother.

“What’s all this about?” Frank Oliver asked as they gathered in front of the house.

“A limo?” Lily asked, just as surprised.

“You and your husband are going on a little trip.” Luke said with a grin.

“A trip?” Lily repeated.

“When newlyweds take a trip, it’s called a honeymoon.” Kayla explained with a giggle.

“Your plane leaves in one hour, so you better hurry up.” Reid took an envelope out of his pocket and handed it to his father. “Paris. Two weeks.”

“But I’ve got patients all next week.” The baffled groom said. “My schedule---”

“Is cleared. Same goes for you Lily.” Reid finished with a smile. “See you in a couple of weeks.”

“Oh my god. We are really going to Paris?” Lily’s eyes widened as did her smile. “But we don’t have any luggage.”

“You luggage is in the trunk already. We took care of everything.” Kayla kissed both his father and his new wife on each cheek. “Have a good time.”

“You all did this.” Lily’s voice cracked and she began to cry. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Well, I guess we’re going on our honeymoon.” Frank said as he pulled his wife closer to place a kiss on her cheek.

“Not if you miss your plane.” Luke said, starting to push them toward the limo. He hugged his mother wishing her a great time.

With shouts and waves from their wedding guests, the limo started to drive down the street, followed by the clang and thump of cans tied to the rear bumper.

“There they go.” Kayla mumbled, burying her face in her husband’s shoulder, who kissed her on the hair and led her and their sleeping son back into the yard.

Luke cleared his throat, realizing that suddenly he was alone with Reid again. “I’m glad that it all worked out like we’ve planned it.”

Reid sighed; he wished Luke wasn’t trying to push him away so much. They were going to deal with this now. “Luke I want to talk to you. We can go somewhere else if you want.”

“But what about the party? You have guests.”

“Nobody will even notice that we’re gone.” Reid placed a hand on Luke’s arm and led him to the car when suddenly a teenage girl came racing around the corner of the house.

“Dr. Oliver!” She shouted. “Come quick! Something is wrong with my grandma!” Reid took off in a full run and Luke followed close behind.

By the time Luke reached the backyard, Reid was already kneeling beside the elderly woman while Kayla called the ambulance. Luke recognized the woman from the time she had worked at the Lakeview before she retired the same year he moved to Europe. Feeling helpless, he put an arm around the teenage girl and tried to calm her down by telling her that Reid was a very good doctor who would take good care of her grandmother.

Soon the wail of the ambulance was heard and a minute later the paramedics came hurrying into the backyard with a gurney. Reid spoke to them briskly, giving instructions.

When Reid started after the gurney Luke rushed after him. “Reid.” When the older man turned, he saw the concern and the impatience in his eyes. “Please let me know if she’s alright.”

Reid nodded and then climbed in the rear of the ambulance with his patient.

***

It was after midnight when Reid pulled up in front of the house. Every bone in his tired body ached. All he wanted now was to take a hot shower to try to ease the pain a bit before climbing into bed to sleep for at least ten hours straight.

On his way home he had driven by Luke’s place but his lights had been out and Reid thought that it probably was for the best. He was way too tired and not in the mood for a sensible talk.

Reid walked up to the house, thinking about the hot shower he was about to take, when the front door opened and Luke stood in the doorway. He stopped dead in tracks and stared at the younger man. What was he doing here?

“Hey. Kayla dropped me off.” Luke explained, leaning against the doorframe. “I hope you don’t mind.”

“No.” Reid said, as he brushed past the blond into the house.

“I brought some leftovers from the reception. I thought you might be hungry when you got back.” Luke said, following the older man into the living room. “How is Mrs. Green?”

“Stabilized. It was shaky for a while, but it looks like she’ll be fine.”

“I’m glad.” Luke stuck his hand into his pockets. “You must be exhausted and hungry. There is plenty of food in the fridge.”

“Why are you here Luke?” Reid asked, coming straight to the point.

“It’s been a long day and I had a lot of time to think....” The blond shifted from one foot to the other “...you know about what you said this afternoon.”

“That I’m in love with you.”

Luke nodded. “The thing is, I’m not sure how I feel and I’m not sure how you feel, either.” He held up his hand when he saw that Reid wanted to say something. “Please let me finish. I just think that it’s possible that you think you feel that way because it’s familiar and---”

“I know how I feel Luke.” Reid interrupted with a calm voice.

“But I’ve changed Reid and no matter how attracted we are to each other, it could be a mistake to take this any further.”

Reid stepped closer to the younger man, until they were eye-to-eye. “Is that what you’ve wanted to tell me?”

“Part of it.” Luke nervously bit his bottom lip. “I’ve never stopped caring about you Reid and I’ve never been able to get you out of my mind completely. Before we were able to grow up enough to become lovers I had to move away with my father, after he interfered in both of our lives. I realized that I want what was taken away from us.” He stepped closer, wrapping his arms around the older man’s waist, kissing him gently. “Make love to me Reid. I’ve always wanted you to be my first.”

Reid swallowed and simply nodded in response. He lightly cupped Luke’s cheek and leaned in for another kiss. He could feel Luke relax against him. He felt Luke sigh against him lips and then pulled away.

Linking their hands, they walked upstairs together.

***

Luke lazily opened his eyes the next morning as he lay tangled in Reid’s sheets. The older man’s face was barely an inch from his and he had to pull back a little to be able to really look at him. Reid’s breathing was slow and even, fast asleep with a small smile on his lips. Very gently, Luke traced his thumb over Reid’s bottom lip, unable to resist.

If there was one thing that he was sure of in that moment, it was that he was happy. Last night he had lost his innocence in an almost painlessly, but very delightful way. It was everything he ever hoped for and so much more. Whatever happened tomorrow or a month from now, he would never forget what they had shared.

In order to wake the older man, he touched his lips to Reid’s, satisfied when he stirred right away. Luke trailed his fingers over his shoulders, to the back of his neck, deepening the kiss. “Good morning.”

“What a nice way to wake up.” Reid mumbled, combing his fingers through Luke’s messy morning hair. “How do you feel? You sore?”

Luke blushed, remembering the events from the previous night. “Maybe a little.” He paused, but only for a moment. “I’m fine though, don’t worry.”

“Okay.” He kissed him again. “Do you have any plans for today?”

“Nothing much. I was just going to plan some lessons since it looks like I have four students now.”

“Four?” Reid raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah, it seems like everybody at the wedding knew that I was starting English tutoring and a few people questioned me about it, asking me to help their son or daughter.” Luke explained with a shrug of his shoulder.

“Does that mean you’re planning to stay in Oakdale?” Reid asked, daring to hope.

“At least for the summer.” Luke replied. “I haven’t decided yet what I’ll do about my career.”

I have the summer to convince him to stay, Reid thought. “Will you have dinner with me tonight? We could have a picnic with the leftovers from the wedding. Just you and me.”

“I’d like that.” Luke smiled, playing with Reid’s curls.

“Good. Now why don’t we start off the day with a nice hot bath?”

Luke’s smile grew even wider. “Sounds perfect.”

Reid pressed a kiss to Luke’s lips before pulling him out of bed. “Let’s go.”

***

After Reid dropped him off, Luke changed into a fresh pair of boxers and slipped into something a little more comfortable. He wanted to spend the day planning lessons but also wanted to give into his urge to write again. Some ideas had been on the back of his mind for a long time, but he never got around to writing them down. There always seemed to be more important things he needed to focus on. Writing books for the common run of mankind, how Damian used to call it.

Even if a few hours a week would be taken up by lessons and planning them, maybe he could finally devote himself into his first love again. He didn’t want to think about tomorrow, about whether his possible new book could be another bestseller or not. Right now he wanted to enjoy today and more importantly enjoy writing again.

When the phone rang a few hours later, Luke debated whether to answer it or not. On the sixth ring he gave in. He was surprised when he heard the voice of his father’s assistant on the other end of the line. After a little bit of small talk the man, his name was Peter, told him the reason that he called was to ask him to reconsider his decision to cancel all of his readings, interviews and autograph sessions that had been planned for the next month. While he knew that Luke needed some time for himself, he said that people were beginning to wonder if he was ever coming back.

Luke put him off by telling him that he’d consider it and hung up. The truth was he always liked that part of his job the most. Talking one on one to very people that made his success possible, by buying his books, and he had to admit that he missed that. He knew he couldn’t put off a decision about his career for much longer and hoped that it would be the right one.

***

Luke sat cross-legged on his bed, intently typing away on his laptop when Reid returned. He didn’t see him at first and wondered how long he had been there, leaning against the doorframe when he looked up from his screen.

“Hi.” The blond smiled at him warmly and Reid returned his smile. “How long have you been standing there?” Luke asked, closing his laptop.

“A while.” The older man admitted, grinning. “I didn’t want to disturb you. You have been writing again, haven’t you?”

“What makes you think that?”

Reid pushed himself away from the door, walked over to the blond and sat down next to him on the bed. He took Luke’s hand in his, playing with his fingers. “You just had that look on your face, the one you always used to get when you were writing. I remember seeing it many times when you were younger. It’s like you’re in your own little world. I can tell that you’re still very passionate about it and I love seeing you like this.”

“It felt really good.” Luke admitted, looking down at their hands for a moment. “For the first time in a long while I wrote without thinking about what other people might think about it. I didn’t even realize it had gotten so late.”

“Then why haven’t you made a decision about your career? You obviously still love writing.” Reid slipped out of his shoes, mirroring Luke’s position on the bed. “Talk to me, Luke. What has been going on in the last few years?”

The blond sighed. “My father, he always wanted what was best for me and I own everything to him.”

“But?” Reid asked gently when Luke didn’t continue.

“But he made all my decisions for me.” Luke pulled away to rise and pace the room. “When Damian read my first story, he told me that it was great. He said he was really proud of me and that he wanted to help me to publish it, but even though he loved me for who I am, he insisted that I would change the main couple into a straight one. ‘Nobody wants to read about a gay couple, son’. Those were his words. I was so young and I just wanted to please him so I did what he wanted.”

“Damn, he had no right.” Reid muttered under his breath. He rose, gently grabbing Luke’s wrist to stop him from pacing and pulled him close. “Is that why you didn’t make it public that you’re gay until three years ago? Did he make you hide who you really are?”

“Yes.” Luke admitted, he voice was barely above a whisper; he couldn’t even look Reid in the eye. “We had a big fight about it because I didn’t want to hide it anymore. My father even agreed to let me have a gay couple in a minor part of my next book as long as I kept my being gay as a secret. I agreed to it. I know now that it was wrong but he was all I had left and I didn’t want to lose him.”

A few months later as he was interviewed about his new book, Luke finally couldn’t hold back any longer when he was asked about what made him decide to include a gay couple in his book. Even though he had seen the fear in Damian’s eyes, he had told the entire world that he was gay that day and that he had been planning on including a gay couple into his series for a while. In reply to the question why he wasn’t writing LGBT books, Luke defended himself by saying that there are many straight authors who wrote LGBT books and that and that doesn’t seem to bother anybody. Nobody needed to know what had really been going on between him and his father. What mattered to him was that he finally didn’t have to hide who he was anymore and he received mainly positive feedback from his loyal readers after his coming out.

Reid hated the idea of Luke going through all of it alone, year after year. He lifted his hands to Luke’s face, gently stroking his cheeks with his thumbs and the blond leaned into his touch, taking in comfort. “What do you intend to do now?”

“I don’t know Reid.” Luke wrapped his arms around the older man’s waist. “I didn’t want to become involved with you, but when I woke up in your bed this morning, I was happy. I don’t want to lose that. Please let me work through this and just be with me.”

Reid pressed a kiss to Luke’s forehead and then pulled Luke close to his chest. “I’m not going anywhere.” Closed his eyes and reveled in the warmth of Reid’s body, this he could get used to.


-----> Part 5

 
 
 
CasaLuna
11 November 2012 @ 07:03 pm
Luke lay in Reid’s bed tangled in Reid’s sheets, inhaling the familiar scent of the older man. He was trying to sleep, but the frustration that the other man seemed to understand him better than he understood himself, kept him awake. Letting out a sigh, he turned restlessly in his bed.

Somehow he was glad that Reid had refused to let anything happen between them tonight, because if things stayed like there were, he should be able to leave to pick up his career painlessly when the time came. But if he became his lover, his first and only lover, it might not be as easy. Maybe even impossible. Plus no matter what had happened in the past, he didn’t want to hurt Reid, like Reid had hurt him all those years ago. That’s why he wanted to make sure they’d keep a reasonable distance between them.

His eyes finally grew heavy and slipped close. He let himself be lulled to sleep by the sound of an owl in the woods.

Luke awoke early in the morning to the patter of rain on the roof. Memories of the previous day came back to him as he slowly blinked his eyes open. He sat up, resting his back against the headboard for a moment while rubbing his tired eyes.

Ten minutes later, after grabbing a quick shower, he quietly made his way downstairs. He couldn’t help but smile when he found Reid on the couch in the living room, lying flat on his stomach with his face buried into a couch cushion.

Suddenly Buster came trotting from the kitchen, letting out two sharp barks when saw him.

Luke chuckled when Reid awoke with a start, swearing at the dog. Luke reached down to ruffle Buster’s head, who happily wagged its tail. When he looked back up, Reid was sitting up on the couch, a thin blanket around his waist. He swallowed. Reid’s naked chest looked rock-firm, like he had been working out pretty regularly and Luke had a hard time tearing his eyes away from it.

“I used your shower. I hope that’s okay.” Luke mumbled nervously, not knowing what else to say.

“Yeah, of course.” Reid got up from the couch and slipped into his jeans, too tired to notice the effect it had on the younger man. “Did you sleep all right?”

Luke nodded as Reid started toward him, pulling up the zipper. “Um I’m really sorry about all this.” He stuffed his hands into his pockets to keep himself from running his hands over Reid’s naked upper body. “You should have told me to go home.”

“You know I’d never do that. You needed a friend.” You needed me, Reid thought but didn’t say it. He lifted his hand to cup Luke’s cheek but hastily dropped it after a moment. Buster barked again and Reid walked to the door and opened it to let him outside.

“I guess I should go.”

Reid lifted his arm to block his way. “Are you sure you did sleep well? Because you sure as hell don’t look like it.”

“I’d say that makes two of us.” Luke crossed his arms above his chest.

Reid snorted. “I want you to do something for me. Go home, pull the covers over your head and sleep until you really feel rested. If those shadows under your eyes aren’t gone the next time I see you, I might have to tell my dad about it and you know what that means.”

Luke rolled his eyes. “Whatever. I have to go.”

The older man leaned closer until their chests met. “I want to see you tonight.”

“I don’t know.”

“Then think about it.” Reid leaned forward, pressing a brief kiss to Luke’s lips, using all his control to pull back after a moment. “Call me when you make up your mind.”

Without another word Luke stormed passed Reid and ran out into the morning air that still smelled like rain.

***

Luke ran until he was out of breath and his legs were shaking. He slowed down then walked leisurely along until he reached a tree by the roadside, leaning against it to support himself. Going back to bed sounded like a wonderful idea, the blond thought; still breathless. Maybe he could even avoid his mother a little longer if he crawled back into bed, finally relaxing for a little while. He sighed, knowing that it wasn’t going to happen because even if he could push the thoughts about his mom away, it wouldn’t stop him from thinking about the feelings he might still have for Reid. The feelings that he just didn’t want to deal with or think about.

Just when he was about to pull out his cell phone to call a cab, a vehicle came to a stop a few feet away from him. His smile came naturally when he noticed that it was his former English teacher Mrs. Dawson and when she asked him if he needed a ride, Luke couldn’t say no to the offer even though he really wasn’t in the mood for any small talk.

The elderly lady talked a mile a minute during their ride back into town, while the blond mostly listened to her stories about her grandson. She mentioned how Luke had always been one of her best students and that Harry, her grandson, could benefit from it if he was willing to give him some private tutoring. And even though Luke pointed out that while he’d love to help, but had never done such a thing Mrs. Dawson didn’t let it go until he eventually agreed to do it.

English lessons, Luke thought later as he walked into his mother’s house. How had it happened?

The house was empty and quiet, but he had already given up the idea of going back to bed since he was supposed to give his first lesson tomorrow already. So he’d better prepare for it. At least it would keep his mind occupied.

Luke remembered how Lily mentioned that some of his old things were still in the attic and wondered if some of his old school books might be up there as well.

After a change of clothes, he climbed the attic access ladder, and was greeted by the sight of a couple of dozen boxes. A scrapbook that lay in one of the boxes immediately grabbed his attention and he picked it up to have a closer look. When he opened the first page, he remembered that it was the same scrapbook his mother started before he left. There wasn’t much dust on it and Luke inferred that it hadn’t been at the attic for a long time yet.

The first few pictures showed him at his high school graduation and he had to smile. When he turned the page he was surprised to find an article from New York Times, written almost two years after he had left Oakdale. He paged through hundreds of pictures, snippets of news and magazine articles. It seemed like everything that had ever printed about him was here, a lot he had never seen himself.

The mother he had believed had forgotten him, but in fact had sent him letters, had followed every step of his career. It still didn’t explain why Lily had let him go. What was he supposed to think? He had to know now, suddenly not wanting to wait any longer.

Though it was only a ten minutes walk, Luke drove to the Lakeview to get there as fast as possible. Plus he figured he’d walked enough the past couple days. Not like I remembered it, he thought, as he walked through the entrance hall of the hotel. He found his mother at the reception desk, where she was talking to a customer and half listened to the exchange until she was free to talk to him.

“Luke. What a nice surprise.” Lily smiled when her son approached the desk.

“Hey.” Luke greeted. “This place looks nothing like I remembered it.”

“Yeah, the entire hotel was remodeled a few years back. We’re trying to move with the times.” Lily explained. “Would you like me to show you around?”

“Yes, I’d like that.”

The hotel was built in the early 1960’s and had not had an update in quite some time. The entire lobby and nearly every room on the first floor had been wall to wall carpet when Luke was little; he remembered playing with his matchbox cars on that carpet when he was in kindergarten, but now the floors was a soft marble. The wood paneling was gone and the walls were painted a light cream. The windows on the whole front floor had been replaced and natural light filled every room. They had added on and put a new pool in with atrium windows all around and above the water. Luke could see pride on his mom’s face as she showed him around.

As they made their way back into the foyer, they found Dr. Oliver leaning against the tall counter of the reception desk.

Luke saw out of the corner of his eye that his mother hesitated for a moment, before she went to greet him with a brief kiss on the lips.

“Hello Luke. It’s nice to see you again.” Frank Oliver said, sliding an arm around Lily’s shoulders. “Getting a look at your mother at work?”

“Yes.” Luke forced a smile. He definitely still needed some time to get used to see them like this. “I really like what they did with the hotel. It looks really nice.”

“Of course, your mother is working here after all. And it’s just the right place for our---”

“Frank!”

“Don’t tell me you haven’t told him yet.” He sighed when she didn’t respond, but only shrugged apologetic. “Lily, you’ve had all morning to tell him.”

“Tell me what?” Luke asked, raising an eyebrow.

“I’ve asked your mother to become my wife and she said yes.” Frank pressed a kiss to Lily’s temple. “We’re getting married.”

“Oh.” Luke’s jaw dropped. “Oh wow.”

“Is that all?” He demanded with a smirk. “Why don’t you say congratulations and give me a hug?”

“Congratulations,” the blond said mechanically and walked over to give him a brief hug. “I really hope you’ll be happy, both of you,” Luke said, surprised that he actually meant it. “So when is the big day?”

“We haven’t set a date yet.” Lily replied who finally seemed to find her voice again. “Kayla is fixing a dinner for all of us tonight, to celebrate.”

“Okay. Well, I’ll be there.” Luke promised. This wasn’t the right time for questions. “Well I guess I’ll get going. I have some things to take care of.”

“But I thought we’d have lunch together.” Lily said, trying to stop his exit.

“It’s all right. We can do it another time.” Luke turned his head to look at the other man. “I’ll see you at Kayla’s, Dr. Oliver.”

“I think you should finally start calling me Frank.” He replied. “We’re family now.” Luke heard Frank say to his back and swallowed deeply as he made his way to the parking lot.

***

Family, Luke thought later back at his mother’s house. He hadn’t really had that. A real family. Truth be told, not since his parents broke up years ago. Now that his mom was getting married to the man he admired, for as long as he could remember, he might finally get what he had secretly longed for in awhile. Being part of a family again.

Maybe this was still his home; the place where he belonged. His friends were still his friends. Reid was still Reid but Luke was afraid, afraid of being hurt again, of making a mistake, of losing. It just wasn’t possible for him to just pick up where they left off.

He took his time showering and getting dressed for the family dinner. Wondering if this new situation would make things awkward between him and Reid, but he reminded himself that they were going to be nothing more than friends. Yes, he was still attracted to the older man but he wouldn’t risk his heart on anything more. Not again.

After checking his watch, Luke started downstairs. He stopped dead in tracks when saw Reid leaning against the banister at the base of the steps. Did he have to look so gorgeous?

Reid whistled at the sight of the blond. “You look awfully good.”

“What are you doing here?” Luke asked as he stopped a step above him, ignoring Reid’s comment.

“I’m here to take you to Kayla’s.” Reid said casually; Luke huffed and started in.
“You don’t have to---”

“Shut up.” Reid grabbed onto the back of Luke’s neck and hauled the blonde against him for a kiss.

Luke half-heartedly pushed the other man away. “Reid, you have to stop kissing me!”

“Why? I don’t want to stop.” He kissed him again, lingering over his lips this time; ghosting breaths across Luke’s face. Reid was grinning when he finally drew back. “Brother.”

Luke snorted. “You’re not acting very brotherly.”

“How do you feel about it?” Reid asked, taking the younger man’s hand. “Our parents getting married I mean.”

“I don’t know really.” Luke shrugged his shoulder. “You know I always loved your dad and I guess both of them deserve to be happy.”

“That’ll do for now.” Reid gave Luke’s hand a gentle squeeze. “Come on, we should get going.”

Fifteen minutes later, Kayla was bursting through her front door to greet them. “Isn’t it great?” She grabbed Luke and pulled him into a bear hug. “You’ll be my brother. We’re going to be siblings! I’m so excited!”

“Hey, what about me? Are you forgetting that you already have a brother?” Reid asked playfully.

Kayla laughed. “Don’t be silly big brother.” She pressed a kiss to Reid’s cheek. “Well don’t just stand out here, come on in.”

Luke was not surprised to see the party in full swing already. Frank and his mom had a lot of friends and it made sense that the celebrating started earlier than advertised. He was little uneasy at first, he wasn’t sure where he fit in. Luke knew the faces, but he didn’t know the people anymore. Kayla helped him with that. She slipped her arm through and pulled him away from Reid, reluctant to let him go. She took the blonde around the room and re-introduced him to the people that had been a big part of his childhood.

There were about 15 people milling about the living room and dining room. The party had been set up buffet style, allowing people to mingle as they ate. Kayla had gone out and knowing Reid’s appetite, it was probably a good call that she did. Name it and this table had; turkey, ham, salads of few varieties, couple different breads, potatoes, and there were about dozen different kinds of sweet treats. He watched Reid load up a plate and slip into conversation with a fellow guest.

Luke heard his mother laughing and looked in her direction. He realized that she looked truly happy; smiling at her fiancé. In all his memories, he couldn’t think of a moment that he had seen her this happy before.

As the dinner wore on, he nibbled lightly, hoping that nobody would notice his lack of appetite. But when his eyes found Reid’s, Luke knew that he had been watching him and forced himself to take another bite.

Reid clinked his fork against his glass and waited for the room to grow quiet. “I think it’s time for a toast.” He cleared his throat. “To my father, who was lucky enough to find a woman like Lily. And to his beautiful bride-to-be, who used to look the other way when I’d sneak into her backyard to make out with her son.” Over the following laughter, glasses were clinked and conversations were continued.

Luke sipped from his sparkling water and put his glass down on the table. He made his way to the back door, but was stopped by Reid.

“Where are you going?” Reid asked, worried that Luke was upset about the toast.

“Nowhere. I, ah, just need some air.”

“Okay. Well, I’d really like to take a walk with you, Luke.” Reid said with a soft voice, holding out a hand to him.

***

The evening was hot and humid. They took the back ways and were quickly surrounded by fields and away from people. Reid had his arm draped around Luke’s shoulders and for a while they walked down the street in silence, surrounded by the sound of chattering crickets. Luke’s arm was lightly draped across Reid’s lower back.

“I like Thomas.” Luke said to break the discomforting silence.

“So do I.” Reid replied. “Don’t tell him I said that though.”

Luke chuckled. “It seems like Kayla is happy here, in her own place, with her own little family. I often wondered what had become of her.”

Reid stopped walking and awkwardly stuffed his hands in his pockets. “Did you ever think about me while you were traveling around the world?”

“Of course I did.” Luke admitted with a low voice, looking out over a field thick with hay.

The auburn haired man sighed. “Somehow, I kept imagining I’d come home to find a letter from you in my mailbox.”

“I guess at first I was too angry and hurt. A long time had to pass.” Luke smiled at the older man and tried to lighten the mood when he added “I took me years to forgive you for dumping me the night of the prom.”

“But I didn’t!” Reid yelled, startling the younger man. “It was a long time ago Luke, but I’m tired of taking the blame for something that isn’t really my fault.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t you get it? I didn’t dump you that night, damn it.” Reid let out a breath of air, his voice softer when he continued. “I was probably more excited about that night than you were. I even planned something really special for us, knowing how important the night was for you, but I got arrested the night before I was about to pick you up.”

“What?” Luke’s jaw dropped. “What were you arrested for?”

“Statutory rape.” At the blonde’s astonished look, Reid let out a sigh and explained “I was over eighteen and you weren’t.”

Luke snorted. “That’s ridiculous Reid. We never even did anything except make out.”

“Yeah, I know that, you know that...” His voice trailed off, filled with sadness and regret. Luke quickly stepped forward to reassure Reid.

“Even if we had made love, it wouldn’t have had anything to do with rape. You were only a few years older than I was and we were boyfriends.” Luke said, running his hand through his hair. “God, I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. You and your parents must have been miserable. But who would have had you arrested? Who in the world would have---” He stopped mid-sentence as it suddenly it dawned on him. “It was my father, wasn’t it? Damian was the one who got you arrested.” Luke said in almost a growl.

“He was dead sure that I would hurt you and that I was trying to take advantage of you.” Reid explained.

“For once in my life, he could have asked me what I wanted.” Luke whispered. He closed his eyes for a moment, feeling tears building up. “I’m so sorry Reid. I don’t know what to say. I mean there is nothing that I can say to make up for what he did.”

“You don’t have to say anything Luke. It’s not your fault.” He reached out to take Luke’s hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. “You were as innocent as I was.” Luke squeezed his hand back.

“You must have been terrified.”

“A bit, yes.” Reid admitted. “I mean I was young and I had never been arrested before so yeah that was kind of terrifying, but I was only held for questioning.”

“I can’t believe my father did that to you.” Luke said. “He knew how much you meant to me. All my life I---” He broke off on a muffled gasp of pain. He instinctively reached for his stomach.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing. I just---” But the second wave came too sharp, making him bend forward from the pain.

“All right, that’s it we’re going back to the Kayla’s.”

“Ok, but really it’s nothing.” Luke tried to assuage Reid, but another wave of pain coursed through Luke. Reid quickly slipped his arm around Luke’s back and they walked back to Kayla’s. Luke leaned heavily on the older man and it felt good to have Reid there. Whether Luke would admit it or not, he was a little scared about his present condition. Reid breathed a huge sigh of relief when they finally made it back to his sister’s house. The walk had started out as a short stroll in the country, but they seemed to take forever to return. Nobody seemed to notice them as they entered the house through the back door and Reid helped the younger man upstairs into the guest room, making him lay down on the bed.

“I’m feeling better already.” Luke said. “This really isn’t necessary Reid.”

“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that.” He lifted Luke’s shirt and gently examined the blond; lightly pressing against Luke’s abdomen. “Have you been taking your anti-rejection meds every day?”

“You’re making a case out of nothing.”

“Answer the question Luke!”

“Maybe I forgot to take my pills once or twice.” The blond admitted sheepishly. “So much happened since I arrived here and I---”

“Damn Luke. You need to take better care of yourself.” Reid swore. “Did you forget what happened the last time you had a kidney infection all of a sudden?”

Luke remained silent, pressing his lips together into a thin line. He couldn’t remember the last time he had seen Reid this angry. Of course he had not forgotten that he almost died of a kidney infection when he was a teenager and how everybody had been worried sick about him. He should know better and felt ashamed for not having taken better care of himself and his remaining kidney.

“Do you have your anti-rejection pills with you?” Reid asked, trying to keep his fear in check.

“No, they’re back at my mom’s house.” Luke wanted to cry out but fought his tears back.

“Come on. I’ll drive you back then.”

Luke stiffly rose from the bed, knowing that it would be pointless to protest. They made a silent escape through the back door and the blond was thankful for that. Every now and then he looked at Reid out of the corner of his eye during their silent ride back and he knew that the older man was still angry, probably even disappointed in him.

At the curb in front of his mother’s house, Reid parked and then walked around the car to open the door for him. The blond climbed out and let himself be led inside the house. They made their way upstairs to Luke’s old room and once again he didn’t protest when the older man told him to lay down on the bed, even though it’s on the tip of his tongue to say that it won’t be necessary. Truth to be told, he was exhausted and the lack of sleep in the past few days finally seemed to have caught up to him.

“Where are you keeping your pills?” Reid asked; his voice much softer this time.

“They’re on the sink in the bathroom.”

Reid moved to the bathroom, filled a glass with water, and snatched the bottle of medication from the sink. He handed the glass of water to Luke and shook out two of the pills. “Here. Swallow.”

Luke took a moment to scowl at him and swallowed his medicine, before he put his glass down on the bedside cabinet. “I’m sorry. I’ll make sure that it won’t happen again.”

“Damn right you will.” Reid grumbled. He was angry at himself for not realizing sooner that the only man he ever loved wasn’t feeling well, even though he had seen how tired the younger man looked ever since he arrived. “Take your normal dose tomorrow and you should be fine. Now take off your clothes.”

“Excuse me?” Luke asked with a bit of gleam in his eye. Reid blushed slightly when he realized what he said.

“You need to rest Luke.” Reid replied. “Don’t worry, you’ll know when I’m making a move on you. Now take them off or do you want me to do it?”

Luke rolled his eyes at the older man. He slipped out of his shoes and undressed except for his boxers and climbed into bed, pulling the blanket up to his chin. “Are you satisfied now, Doctor?”

With a sigh, Reid sat down on the edge of the bed. “Do you need anything?”

“No.” Luke took Reid’s hand, linking their fingers. For a moment their eyes locked in wordless communication. “I was never supposed to let you come up here when we were teenagers.”

The corner of Reid’s mouth twitched into a smile. “Yet I managed to climb through your window more than a few times without getting caught.”

Luke chuckled before turning serious. “If you had known about my dad’s plans to take me to Malta, would you have asked me to stay?” Luke had played this question in the head over and over for years. He needed to know now.

“Yes.” Reid said without hesitation. “Maybe you wouldn’t be what you are and I wouldn’t be what I am, but I know we would have been together.”

“Yeah, maybe.” The blond closed his eyes, drifting. “I’m so tired.”

Reid leaned down to press a kiss to Luke’s temple. “Go to sleep.” Luke was asleep before Reid had pulled fully away.

***

The morning suited his mood; thick gray clouds, thick sheets of rain. Luke thought that it was a perfect day to stay in bed all day long to do nothing. He hadn’t left the house, let alone barely left his room, since the night of Kayla’s dinner two days ago and yet he had barely any time to be alone.

His mother had decided to take a few days off work, checking on him every few hours, no matter how much he tried to protest. Kayla came by once a day, bringing him chicken soup and sitting at the edge of his bed to keep him company. Even Dr. Oliver had checked on him the day before. He tried to tell himself that he didn’t care that Reid was the only one who hadn’t visited him. It was probably because he was still mad at him. Luke tried to tell himself that he didn’t miss him one bit.

At least he felt better; he had finally slept like a baby for two nights straight. Another month or two of Oakdale’s peace and quiet and he should be ready to make some important career decisions.

Luke stretched his body out before he finally forced himself to get out of bed and go downstairs. He shuffled barefoot down the hallway to the kitchen, opened the fridge and poured himself a glass of milk. It was only when he was about to put the bottle of milk back into the refrigerator that he noticed that his mom had pinned a note for him onto the fridge. It said that one of her colleagues had heard that Luke was going to do some English tutoring and had asked her if he would be willing to help their daughter as well. Below was a phone number. He groaned. His mom knew that he wouldn’t be able to say no now.

He put the bottle of milk back into the fridge, trying to decide what else he wanted for breakfast but was interrupted by the sound of a knock at the door. When Luke went to open the door, he tried to tell himself that he didn’t want it to be Reid. But it was Reid who stood outside grinning at him while rain streamed down on him.

“Well aren’t you going to ask me inside?” Reid asked, gratified by the lack of the shadows under the younger man’s eyes. He didn’t wait for Luke’s invitation to come inside and pushed passed him to enter the house. “I love the rain.”

Luke raised an eyebrow at the older man. “Right.” He turned on his heel and walked back to the kitchen, aware that Reid was following him. Not a word from him in two days, Luke thought, and now he shows up all of the sudden, not even asking him how he was feeling, like nothing ever happened. Reid was quite happy to follow Luke into the kitchen; thoroughly enjoying the view. He pulled his jacket off and hung it up before he turned back to Luke. He watched as the blonde slowly eased himself into a chair at the small kitchen table. Reid was still mad at himself for not noticing that Luke had been getting sick, but at least he had been there to help when Luke needed him.

“I wanted to talk to you about the wedding.” Reid said as he grabbed a few cookies from the cookie jar on the counter and then sat down opposite of Luke at the kitchen table.

“What about the wedding?”

“Dad thinks he’s got Lily convinced not to wait any longer to tie the knot.” Reid shrugged. “It looks like they might be getting married in two weeks already.”

“I see.” It was so soon, Luke thought but reminded himself that it wasn’t his decision. “I suppose they’ll want to move in together.”

“Yeah, I think the plan is that they move to my dad’s house. They’ve been thinking about the idea of renting this one eventually.” Reid explained. “Does that bother you?”

Luke shrugged. “I guess not. I mean they can hardly live in two houses. I often wondered why she kept the house in the first place.”

“It’s been in your family for years. I can’t see her selling this place.” Reid said while he started to munch on the oatmeal cookies in his hand.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Luke confessed and accepted a cookie that Reid offered him.

“Well, what I really wanted to talk to you about was a wedding present. I’ve already talked to Kayla about it and we agreed that all three of us could pool some money and give them a honeymoon. We were thinking two weeks in Paris? Neither one of them has ever been to Europe.”

Luke couldn’t help but smile, deciding that it was a lovely idea. “As a surprise?” Reid reached across the table and started dunking his cookies into Luke’s glass. Luke followed suit and soon they were sharing the tall glass.

“Yep. I think we can pull it off. I can cover for my dad at the work. I mean everybody will probably have to work twice as much in the two weeks that he’s gone but I already talked to the entire team and they’re in. I also talked to your mom’s partner and he says it won’t be a problem. Getting the tickets and making the reservations should be the easy part. Then all we have to do is pack their bags without them noticing.” Reid laid out the plan and licked milk from his fingertips; Luke couldn’t help but notice.

Warming to the idea, Luke smiled. “I think we can manage that. We could give them the tickets at the reception. How about we hire a limo service? I think it could be nice if a limo took them right to the airport.”

“I hadn’t thought of that, but I like it.” Reid pulled his phone out to make a note.

“Get them a bridal suite,” Luke said. When Reid looked up, raising an eyebrow at him, he shrugged. “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right.” Reid popped a bit of cookie into his mouth and made note of it.

“I like it. Limo, bridal suite, first-class tickets. Anything else you can think off?” Reid said through full mouth.

“Champagne. A bottle in the limo and another in the room when they arrive.”

“Excellent.” Reid smiled and then slipped the cell phone back into his jeans pocket. “Now that we’ve cleared that, tell me how you’re feeling.” Reid tone changed and he dead serious.

It was on the tip of Luke’s tongue to ask why he hadn’t come by in the past few days to ask him how he felt but he didn’t. He rose to take their now empty glass to the sink. “I’m fine.”

“You look better.” Reid was standing right behind Luke; when he turned back around they were almost chest to chest. “Have you been eating? Besides the cookie I managed to get you to eat.”

“I’m eating enough. And would you move?” Luke asked; slightly annoyed and mostly intrigued.

Reid shook his head and before the blond could respond, he pressed his lips to Luke’s. The blond’s hands went up to Reid’s chest to push him away, but that didn’t help. Murmuring his name, Reid deepened the kiss, wrapping his arms around the younger man. Their thighs tight against each other, his hands roamed across Luke’s back and he groaned when Luke’s fingers found his way into his locks. He pulled his lips away to come up for air, but kept their bodies close. His gaze stayed locked on Luke’s; getting lost into those hazelnut eyes. Gently now, he touched his lips to Luke’s again.

Luke’s arms tightened around Reid, getting lost into their kiss for a moment. When he pulled back he pressed a kiss to Reid’s jaw before he hid his face in the older man’s neck and just held on. He could feel Reid’s heart beating against his chest as the other man pressed a kiss to his head. “I don’t know what to do Reid,” Luke said eventually. “I haven’t been able to think straight since I came back.”

Reid’s hands moved up to Luke’s shoulders, gently pushing him back. “I want you Luke. You want me. What’s the freakin’ problem?” Both of them laughed lightly at Reid’s attempt to lighten the mood.

The blond stepped back as far as Reid’s hands on his shoulders would allow. “It’s not that easy for me. I mean I can’t pretend that I don’t want to be with you. At the same time, I want to run the other was as fast as I can.” Luke let out a shaky breath of air. “I’m sorry if I’ve been giving you mixed signals since I’ve come home. I just don’t know how much of what I feel for you is just a memory and how much is real for me now. When I was seventeen I imagined us together forever and now...”

“And now?” Reid asked carefully while he lightly played the hair at the nape of Luke’s neck.

“Now we both know things aren’t that easy. We are different people, we have different lives.” Luke replied. “I just think that it’s a good idea to start a relationship with you, especially a physical relationship, when I haven’t even figured out what I want to do with my life.”

“You know that it’s always been more than physical, Luke.”

The blond nodded, taking a moment to choose his next words. “Having an affair will only make it much more difficult for both of us when I leave again.”

Reid felt panic rise within him. He wasn’t sure if he’d survive it a second time if Luke left. “What do you want from me Luke?”

“I want you to let me sort through this.” Luke replied, moving away. “Give me some time to figure out what I really want. Don’t try to pressure me or seduce me. Believe me, it’s been tried before and it won’t work.”

Reid snorted. “I’m not one of your admirers who wants to shout with the triumph of being your lover.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t tell you, just to see you squirm, but I’ll tell you anyway. I’ll tell you the truth.” Luke crossed his arms above his chest. “There haven’t been any lovers, because I haven’t wanted there to be. All my life decisions have been made for me, but now, I decide what I want and right now, I just can’t be with you.”

No one. There has been no one, Reid thought, as he took a step toward the blond but managed to stop himself. He knew he wouldn’t be able to keep himself from touching Luke if he took another step. That didn’t mean that he was about to give up so easily though. “Do you want to have dinner with me tonight?”

“What?” Luke asked, taken aback.

“Do you want to go or not?” Reid snapped.

“Yes.”

“Fine. I’ll pick you up at seven.” Turning on his heel, Reid marched to the front door, slamming it shut behind him.


----> Part 4

 
 
CasaLuna
11 November 2012 @ 03:29 pm
Luke barely slept that night, tossing and turning in bed. Twice he had walked down the hall to his mother’s room, but had only gotten as far as the door, with his hand raised to knock, before returning to his own room. He knew he had no right to hold the fact that she had a relationship with another man against her, but didn’t understand why he hadn’t told him about it. Surely she must know that he’d find out about it anyway.

When he made his way downstairs the next morning Luke caught the scent of coffee and found his mom in the kitchen, standing by the sink with a steaming coffee mug in her hands.

“You’re up.” Lily smiled when she saw her son. She opened the cupboard, grabbing another mug to pour a cup of coffee for him. “I wasn’t sure if I’d see you this morning before I had to leave.”

“Leave?” Luke asked, taking the coffee mug out of her hands.

“I have to go to work. I’m a manager at the Lakeview hotel, you remember?” Lily explained. “I took a couple of days off, but I’ve got to go back in today. If you like, you can come by later and visit me later.”

“Maybe. We’ll see.” Luke shrugged his shoulders, avoiding looking his mom in the eyes.

“Are you gonna be all right here alone?” Lily asked.

“I’ve been all right alone for a long time.” He said in a soft voice.

Lily’s smile dropped. She turned around to put her coffee mug in the sink. “Yes, of course you have.” Taking a deep breath, she bit her lip to stop herself from crying and turned to face her son again. “I know, I have years to make up for Luke, but I hope you’ll give me a chance.”

“I want to. Just give it some time.” Luke replied and when he said it he knew that it was true. “I’ll see you in the evening.” He turned quickly and left.

***

After three hours of morning appointments, Reid spent his lunch hour driving to the hospital in the neighboring city to check out a few patients. An apple and a banana was all that needed to get him through the afternoon. During the day more than one of his patients mentioned him of the fact that Luke Grimaldi was back home and he tried his best to change to subject without letting on that he was affected every time it happened.

One of the drawbacks of living in a small town like Oakdale, Reid thought. Everyone knew everything about the people in a town like this. Luke and he had only been together briefly eight years ago and yet it seemed everybody remembered it.

Reid had tried to forget Luke but it seemed like it was impossible. He would see his name or picture in the paper or buy his new book even if he swore to himself that he wouldn’t do again; that he didn’t care anymore. Sometimes he even thought he saw a man that looked similar to Luke, but at second glance he’d always realize that the guy looked nothing like him. What happened between Luke and him never went past slow long kisses and gentle groping. He knew that the blond hadn’t been ready to go any further.

Thinking of him now, shouldn’t make his heart ache like it did. He had never been so in love as he had been with Luke even though their relationship hadn’t even lasted a year, even though they had never made love.

It would be difficult to try to be friends now, but he tried to assure himself that it was all that he wanted. Luke was a beautiful man who had once been his, but he couldn’t get his heart broken by Luke Grimaldi a second time.

“Dr. Oliver.” Nurse Gretchen poked a head in the door, waking him from his thoughts. “Your next patient is here.”

“I’ll be right there. Thanks.” Reid closed his eyes for a moment, briefly wondering if he’d find Luke in the backyard of his mom’s house again if he decided to stop by that evening. He smiled at that thought before heading for the examining room.

***

Luke knocked on the door of the Oliver house and waited. As a young boy he had spent so many hours at that house, that it held so many memories and it was a strange but at the same time a good feeling to be back. But what could he say to Dr. Oliver? The man who had comforted him more than once when he’d run away from home after his parents fought. The man that had become almost like a second father to him at the time. The man who was now in a relationship with his mom.

Frank Oliver opened the door and stood studying him for a moment, just like Luke studied him. His hair had turned gray, but other than that Luke couldn’t make out any difference. He offered him a hand but Dr. Oliver chuckled as he shook his head and engaged him into a hug.

“It’s so good to have you home.” Frank said over his shoulder as he squeezed him.

“It’s good to see you again.” Luke said, as he pulled back with tears in his eyes. “I’m so sorry about what happened to your wife.”

“We all are.” He gave him a small smile, stuffing his hands into his jeans pocket. “She always kept track of your career, bought all your books, you know. More than once she said that you’d come back one day.”

Luke smiled at him. “I guess she was right.”

Frank nodded, stepping back to let him enter. “Come on in son. I’ll pour us some iced tea and I’m sure there is a piece of pie waiting for you in the fridge.”

Luke sat at the couch in the living room while Dr. Oliver served. The new couch was the only thing that he saw that had changed when he looked around, everything else seemed the same.

“I guess I don’t have to tell you how proud I am of you.” Frank Oliver said, as he sat down across from him.

“Thank you.” Luke scratched himself behind the ear. “I wish I could have gotten back sooner. I feel like I missed so much. I mean Kayla is married and she has a baby. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes...” His voice trailed off. “I hope to see a lot of them while I’m here. Of all of you. And I can’t wait to meet her husband.”

“I’m really proud of my daughter, of both of my kids.” Frank replied. “We’re all hoping that you’ll stay for a long time.”

Luke looked down at the glass of iced tea in his hands. “I haven’t really thought about it yet.”

“I know you lost your father a few months ago. That must have been hard for you.”

“Yeah, he had cancer. It was very difficult for him too.” Luke looked up again. “I mean he wouldn’t even admit that he was ill. There was little I could do. He refused to go to a hospital.” He sighed, blinking away the tears that were building in his eyes. “Dr. Oliver are you in love with my mom?”

“Yes, I am.” Frank replied without hesitation. “Does it bother you?”

“I don’t know. I guess it’s just really hard to imagine the two of you together.” Luke took a sip from the iced tea before putting the glass down. “For as long as I can remember you and Mrs. Oliver always were so happy together, you were like a constant, while my parents were more like the opposite.”

“Life is unfair sometimes Luke. I think I know that better than anybody else. I had twenty-six wonderful years with Mary and had planned to spend the rest of my life with her, but it wasn’t meant to be. Your mother was Mary’s closest friend and that’s how I continued to look at her for several years until she became my friend and later I fell in love with her. At first I felt like I’d betrayed Mary but I know she’d want me to be happy.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Luke replied, suddenly feeling stupid for bringing it up in the first place.

“Lily mentioned that you aren’t eating well.” Frank said, pointing at Luke’s untouched plate with pie. “Or sleeping well.”

“The last couple of years have been pretty hectic but I’m fine Dr. Oliver. Don’t worry.” Luke assured him. In that moment Reid came through the connecting door. It annoyed him to see him here, but he guessed he should have expected it.

“Mr. Grimaldi.” Reid grinned at him, then glanced down at the pie. “Were you going to leave any for me?”

“You can have my piece.” Luke replied, folding his arms above his chest.

Reid took that plate, shoving the first bite into his mouth before turning his attention to his dad. “You wanted to see me before I left?”

“Yeah that file you wanted me to look over, it’s on my desk.” Frank replied, getting up from the couch. “I made some notes.”

“Okay. Thanks.” Reid replied, shoving more pie into his mouth.

“Well I’ve got to go back to work.” Frank walked around the coffee table to give Luke a hug. “I hope you’ll come back soon.”

“I will.” Luke promised. Frank stepped back and turned back to face Reid.

Frank Oliver squeezed his son’s shoulder, giving him a knowing smile before he left.

“I’m glad you stopped by see my father.” Reid said, as the door closed.

“Of course. I really missed him.” Luke said, watching Reid for a moment as he scarfed down the pie. “I see your appetite is as healthy as ever.”

“Yep.” He sat down on the couch and pointed for Luke to do the same.

Luke knew he should leave but he sat down anyway. “Where is Buster?”

“I left him at home.” Reid shoved put the now empty plate down on the table, rubbing his stomach.

“You don’t live here anymore?”

“No. I bought a house a little outside of town about a year ago.” Reid explained. “I’ll drive you out some time so you can see it. As a matter of fact how about right now?”

“Um, I don’t know.” Luke stuttered. “You probably have plenty of stuff to do.”

“Nope. I have the rest of the day off.” Reid took his arm and pulled him up from the couch.

“Fine. I’ll follow you with my car though. That way you won’t have to drive me back home.”

***

Four miles out of town Luke came to halt behind Reid in front of a small two-story place in the middle of nowhere. The only building that was within eyesight was an old farm that had already been uninhabited when Luke still lived in Oakdale.

The design of Reid’s house was kind of like a box shape with shingled siding painted a creamy-white color. There was a small front porch and four square windows on the front - two on the bottom floor and two on the top. And he even had a white picket fence around the front and extending around the back. Not what I expected but I like it, Luke thought as he climbed out of his car. Reid walked through a small gate in front and Luke followed him.

Buster came racing toward them, barking, and Reid quickly caught his collar before he could leap on Luke.

“It’s okay.” The blond chuckled, bending down to pet the dog. “This place looks fabulous Reid. I’m sure Buster appreciates the amount of space he has to run around. I can understand why you’d move out here.”

Reid smiled and took his hand, linking their fingers. “I’ll give you the tour.”

Luke let himself be led inside right into the main room: the large living space that held a fire place. The attached kitchen featured a large stainless steel refrigerator and white cupboards, while the walls were painted light green. A small table with four chairs was in the middle of the comfortable room. Reid, who hadn’t let go of his hand the entire time, showed him a nice sized bathroom on the first floor before he led him upstairs. There were three about equal rooms on the second floor. One of them was empty, another room held Reid’s office and the last room of course his bedroom which had a master bathroom.

“It’s a really beautiful place.” Luke commented as he looked out of the bedroom window into the woods. He had always dreamed of having a place like this himself one day.

“I know. I love it too.” Reid stepped next to the blond, shoulders brushing.

“I could live right here.” Luke said before he could stop himself and quickly added. “Anyway, thanks for taking me here to show me your house Reid.”

An impulse from within made Reid lift his hand to cup Luke’s face and he felt the blond shudder.

“Don’t.” Luke whispered, backing away from his touch.

“I have to...” Reid touched his lips to Luke’s, lingering. Again he lifted his hand to cup his face and then he felt the other man kissing him back, moaning into the kiss.

Luke pulled the older man closer, greedy for it. Like countless times before his hands found his way into thick curls. He was no longer kissing a boy and it had been so long since the last time, but when their lips parted he knew what he would taste like. It was all that he remembered and so much more. Panting, he pulled back and looked into Reid’s darkened eyes. Damn him. “We shouldn’t have done that.” He said, stepping back. “This was over a long time ago.”

“Yeah. Maybe we just needed to get it out of our systems.” Reid said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

“I’m being serious Reid. I’m not interested in starting anything with you again.” Luke said. He turned away to leave, but Reid took him by the arm.

“You know what? After that kiss I don’t believe you.” Reid said, slowly pulling him closer. “And neither do you.”

Luke snorted. “Is that so?”

“Yes. I’ll take the time and make the effort to show you that I’m right.” He planted a kiss on Luke’s slightly swollen lips. “I still want you Luke and this time I’m won’t let you go again.”

“Go to hell.” Luke jerked away, rushing down the stairs. He could feel Reid’s eyes on him as he made his way to his car, but what Luke couldn’t see was the grin on his face.

***

Luke pulled himself out of his car and slammed the door shut behind him before walking into his mother’s house. He paced back and forth in the living room, trying to calm himself down. He was angry with himself that the guy, who had only been nothing more than Kayla’s older brother for a long time, but slowly became more during the time he struggled with his sexuality, could still make his blood boil.

Reid had no right to kiss him again. No right to force him to face feelings and memories he wanted to forget.

For a moment he touched his fingertips to his lips, could still feel Reid’s on them and regretted that he had made the decision to let the older man show him his house. ‘We won’t be anything more than friends, I can’t let him hurt me again’, Luke thought as he sat down on the couch. ‘He can turn on his charm all he wants, I’m not going to fall for it again.’

“Luke?”

He turned his head to see his mom standing a few feet away from the couch and cleared his throat before he spoke. “Hey. I didn’t know you were home.”

“I got back from work a while ago.” Lily replied, stepping further into the room. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” Luke forced a smile.

“I... um... I just talked to Frank on the phone.” She said. “He told me that you stopped by at his place this morning.”

Luke nodded. “It was good to see him again. He almost looks the same.” He took a bracing breath. “Is there a reason why you didn’t tell me that you and Dr. Oliver are involved?”

Lily lowered his head for a moment before lifting it again to look at her son. “I swear didn’t try to hide it from you. I guess I just didn’t know how to bring it up.”

“If you say so.” The blond crossed his arms above his chest. “But maybe you didn’t want me to know because you think it’s none of my business.”

“No, that’s not true Luke.” Lily shook her head. She knew she didn’t have to explain herself or her relationship to Frank Oliver but wanted her son to understand. “I’ve been alone for a long time after you and your father left Oakdale. Frank and I slowly grew closer after Mary died and even though I felt odd about starting something with him because Mary had been my best friend for a long time, I don’t feel guilty about it anymore. We’re adults and both of us are free to do what we want.”

Luke remained silent for a long moment, letting his mother’s words sink in. He chose his next words carefully. “To be honest, I still don’t know what to think about your relationship with Dr. Oliver, but it’s safe to say that it surprised me. I mean when I came back into town, I thought that nothing had changed, but I’m starting to see that I was wrong and it’s difficult to accept that you moved on.”

Lily let out a sigh as she sat down on the armrest of the couch. “It wasn’t easy for me to move on Luke.”

“Not as easy as letting me go?”

Lily tried to fight back the tears that were building in her eyes. “Back then I tried to believe it was what was best for you and that it was what you wanted.”

“What I wanted?” Luke snorted. “Neither you or dad ever ask me what I wanted!”

“I tried. I called Damien close to a thousand times, begging him to let me talk to you but he always told me that you don’t want to talk to me. I didn’t want to believe him so I started writing you letters asking you if you were happy, if living with your father was what you really wanted but when you sent them back unopened, I finally gave up.”

“What?” Luke’s voice was barely above a whisper, his hands clenching. “Dad never told me about those calls and there were no letters either. I thought...” His voice drifted off. “Why would he do something like that? Why didn’t he want me to see your letters or would let me talk to you on the phone?”

“I guess in a way he was protecting you and punishing me.”

“Punishing you? For what?”

Lily took a deep breath to brace herself, her voice was strong when she spoke. “For betraying him with another man.”

Luke’s jaw dropped. “You had an affair?”

“Yes.” She admitted. “I was involved with somebody for a few months before you and your father left. I broke my vows and I’ve been paying for it ever since.”

The blond rose from the couch, pacing back and for in silence for a while until he stopped to face his mom. “I need some time to think. I’m going for a walk.” Without another word he rushed passed her, slamming the front door shut on his way out.

***

Luke wandered around aimlessly for hours, trying to clear his head. He was oblivious to anything around him, but kept putting one foot in front of the other, automatically, slowly making his way out of town without even noticing it.

Dusk was already approaching when Luke realized that he was miles away from his mother’s house but only minutes away from Reid’s place. Sometime during the past few hours he must have unknowingly made the decision to come back here. He paused for a moment, debating whether he should walk all the way back or not. He didn’t know why he’d come here, come to Reid of all people, but he knew now that he was so close that he could not just turn around and leave and soon found himself walking into the older man’s yard.

The dog was barking when he neared the front door and Reid opened the door before Luke even got the chance to knock, almost like he had been waiting for him to come back.

“Hi.” Luke stuffed his hands into his pockets, shifting from one foot to the other. “I wanted to take a walk, needed some time to clear my mind and somehow ended up here.”

“You walked out here all the way from your mother’s house?” Reid raised an eyebrow.

The blond sheepishly shrugged his shoulder, feeling completely stupid all of a sudden. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come. I’ll just---” Luke turned away to make a quick retreat.

“No. Come on in.” Reid interrupted, taking Luke’s hand. “It’s getting dark outside and I’m not letting you walk back alone at this hour.” He said as he led the younger man into the kitchen. “Do you want something to drink?”

“No, I’m fine.” Luke managed a smile.

Reid opened the fridge to pull out a bottle of water and held it out to the blond. “Here.”

Luke rolled his eyes, but took the water bottle anyway. He opened it and took a long, refreshing drink washing down the dust in his throat. “Thanks.”

“So are you not mad at me anymore?” The older man asked, leaning against the kitchen counter.

“I don’t know what I feel about anything.” Luke replied, hugging his arms.

“Why don’t you tell me what happened?” Reid asked, feeling pity for the blonde.

Luke needed somebody to listen and he knew Reid would listen. Just like he always had. “I don’t know Reid,” he said with a sigh. “It would be like reverting back into an old habit.”

“I don’t see why that would be such a bad thing and we did say that we’re gonna try to be friends.” Reid said, encouraging the younger man. “Look, how about we sit down?”

Luke shook his head. He walked to the nearby window, staring into the dark night. “My mother told me she had an affair before Damian took me to Malta.”

“I know.” Reid admitted with a low voice. When Luke turned to look at him, he saw the bewilderment on his face and quickly crossed to him, taking his hand. “I didn’t know about it back then. It came out a few months after you were gone. One of the disadvantages of living in a small town.”

“In all those years my father said nothing about it, but my mother said he knew.” Luke said. “And now I don’t know what to say to her.”

“Did you ask her why?” Luke shook his head in response. “I’ve known your mother a good while now and I think she must have had some very strong reasons for what she did. I think once you get over the shock and the anger, you should ask her about the details.”

“You’re probably right.” Luke felt the tears rise to burn the backs of his eyes.

“No leaking.” Reid joked, earning a smile from the younger man. He spread his arms and Luke gratefully went into them, letting himself be held by him. His arms were tight around him; his head nestled against his shoulder, still a perfect fit. He knew that this was what the blonde needed right now, that he needed him to be friend first and foremost.

Closing his eyes, Luke wondered how Reid still knew him so well that he was giving him, without even having asked, exactly what he needed. He pulled back just enough to look into Reid’s ocean blue eyes, realizing how terrifyingly easy it would be to fall in love with him all over again.

Reid thought if Luke looked at him that way for ten more seconds, he’d probably forget Luke had come here looking for a friend. It took all his strength of will to pull away from the blond. “I think you should go home. Get some sleep before you try to straighten things out with your mom. I’ll drive you home, all right?”

“I don’t want to go home tonight.” Luke stepped forward, taking Reid’s hand. “I want to stay here with you.”

Reid groaned. “I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”

“A few hours ago it seemed like you thought it was a pretty good idea.” Luke spit back, trying to pull his hand free, but the older man tightened his grip.

“You know I want you. I always have.” He finally said the words out loud, none of the tip-toeing anymore. Desire seared through him as he looked at the blond. He’d spent hours trying not to imagine what it would be like to finally really be with him, but right now the timing sucked. “But I’m not going to risk you hating me in the morning because I took advantage of you when you were upset and confused. So if you really do want to stay you can take the bed and I’ll stay down here and sleep on the couch.”

Luke looked down at their joined hands, knowing that Reid was right. “Okay. I’m sorry that I snapped at you. Thank you for just... thank you.”

“Well you know the way to my bedroom.” Reid said, dropping his hands. “Go.”

With a nod, Luke started toward the stairs. At the base he stopped and turned. “Good night.”

“Night.” Reid watched him go upstairs, fighting the urge to follow the blond. He probably wouldn’t get much sleep tonight, knowing that Luke was sleeping in his bed. With a sigh he turned to open the fridge, pulling out a can of beer. Couple of these will make not sleeping a little more bearable.

----> Part 3
 
 
CasaLuna
10 November 2012 @ 08:55 pm
Luke gripped the steering wheel a bit tighter; his knuckles turning white. He closed his eyes for just a moment as he passed the city limits sign of Oakdale, Illinois. While he drove through the sleepy town, the blond realized pretty quickly that Oakdale had changed very little in eight years. At first view it was almost like he had never left, but he knew that he was a fool to think that this was really the case.

Some people looked up, probably surprised and at the same time interested as they saw an unfamiliar car drive by. He rolled his window down halfway, inhaling the scent of fresh air mixed with the smell of freshly cut grass that he missed so much in the past few years; spending most of his time in big cities all around the world.

What am I doing here? He thought for what felt like the thousandth time.

Unlike Oakdale, Luke had changed in the past few years. He wasn’t sure if he really made the right decision by coming back and had no idea if this could ever be his home again nor if he wanted it to be.

He had barely been seventeen years old when his father took him from this quiet small town to Malta and later from country to country. It had been an exciting journey and by the age of twenty, through his father’s drive and his talent, Luke had become one of the youngest bestselling authors in the world. He missed this home at first but his life got exciting fast and he stopped looking back. Now, at the age of twenty-five, he was coming back to the home of his childhood and to a mother he hadn’t seen in eight years.

His heart beat a little faster as he pulled up the familiar driveway and for a moment it felt almost like he never left. For a while Luke sat still, hands clutching to the steering wheel, fighting the urge to put the car in reverse and drive away. Coming here probably meant awakening old memories and he wasn’t sure if he was ready to do that. Yet he knew if he ran away now, he might never find the answers to his questions.

Taking one last deep breath, Luke grabbed his bag from the back seat and got out of the car. He reminded himself that he didn’t have to stay, that he was an adult with no ties since his father’s death three months ago.

Even though he told himself that there was no need to be nervous, he felt his heart hammering against his chest as he made his way to the front door. He was only a few steps away when the door opened and he stopped dead in tracks as he saw his mother standing in the doorway. For a while they just looked at each other and Luke could see tears forming in her eyes. A little to his surprise Lily looked just like he remembered, apart from the very few lines that were barely visible on her face.

The blond walked up to her until they were only a foot apart; she then took him completely by surprise as she pulled him into a hug. He felt himself go stiff for a moment but somehow found himself awkwardly patting her back before quickly pulling away from the embrace. “Thank you for letting me come stay with you.” Luke said, surprised by the sound of his own voice.

“Of course.” Lily replied with a shaky voice. “You’re always welcome here Luke. Never doubt that.”

“Thank you.” He gave her a small smile and they fell into silence.

Lily cleared her throat. “Come on in. You must be exhausted after driving for hours.”

Luke followed his mother inside. The rooms looked nothing like he remembered, they are lighter with new modern furniture but still somewhat cozy. Family portraits that used to decorate the walls were gone or replaced by other pictures. The only thing he recognized was the abstract painting above the fireplace that had been there for as long as he could remember.

“Are you hungry?” His mom’s voice interrupted his thoughts. “I can make you anything you want.”

“Thanks, but I’m not hungry.” Luke replied. “Actually I’d like to unpack first and maybe take shower?” It had been hot and humid all day and right now there was nothing he wanted more than a cold shower and to get some fresh clothes on.

“Yes, of course.” Lily started up the stairs. “I thought you’d like your old room. I remodeled it a bit, it’s actually a guest room now.”

“I’m sure it’s fine.” The blond said, knowing that he couldn’t expect that his mother left his room exactly the way it was when he left eight years ago.

Luke followed Lily into the room and took a look around the room that had once been his. The green walls had been replaced by a beige color. There was a big bed in the middle of the room and a small TV on a dresser on the opposite of the bed. He threw his bag onto the bed and walked over to the window that had a view out into the backyard. “My tree house. It’s still there.”

“I couldn’t bring myself to remove it. I know how much that tree house meant to you Luke.” She nervously twisted her hands and gave her son a wary smile when he turned around to look at her. “A while after you left I packed all your things that you didn’t take with you into boxes. They’re still in the attic if you’d like to look through them some time.”

Luke had to swallow down the instant lump in his throat before he could answer and even then he only managed a faint ‘Thank you’ because no words in the world could describe how much this meant to him anyway.

“Well I’ll be downstairs if you need anything.” Lily gave her son’s shoulder a squeeze before quickly walking away, closing the door behind her.

Alone, Luke let out a breath of air and sat down on the edge of the bed, studying the room that had once been his own little piece of the world. Everything in this house that he had once called his home was so different and even though this town seemed so unchanged at first view, the people that lived in it were probably strangers to him.

Luke got up and walked into the attached bathroom, looking at himself in the mirror. He hadn’t bothered to get a haircut ever since Damian died so that his blond hair had gotten quite long and he kind of liked it. There was some tiredness around his eyes, but that wasn’t surprising since he hadn’t been sleeping well lately.

With a sigh, he turned away to unpack and take the shower that he wanted so desperately.

***

After he finished showering and unpacking his clothes, Luke decided to go downstairs to look for his mother. He hadn’t come back to Oakdale to sit alone in his room and ponder about his life after all and wanted to make an effort, trying to bond with his mom.

Luke found her in the kitchen, putting together what seemed like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He cleared his throat to get her attention and when Lily turned around, the blond immediately noticed her watery eyes.

“Hey, I made you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Lily said. “I know you said you weren’t hungry, but I suddenly remembered how much you liked them as a kid and I guess, I just couldn’t help myself. You can eat it later if you want.”

“Thank you.” Luke managed a small smile, taking the plate out of her hands before he sat down on the kitchen table. He still didn’t feel really hungry but took a small bite anyway. “I like what you did with the house.”

“I needed a change.” Lily told him. “Too many memories.”

Luke gave her an understanding nod. “It seems like Oakdale didn’t change all that much while I have been away.”

“Probably not.” Lily replied with a shrug of her shoulder and a soft laugh. “Mrs. Parker from across the street died a couple of years ago. The Brady’s moved away last year, as did many young people over time. Kayla is still here though.”

“Kayla Oliver?”

“It’s Kayla Williams now.” Lily told her son. “She got married two years ago and she has a beautiful baby boy.”

“Wow.” Luke murmured. Kayla had been his best friend since his earliest memory, but they hadn’t managed to stay in touch when he moved away. “I can’t believe she is a mother now.”

“I’m sure she’d want to see you again.”

“Yeah, I’d like that too.” Luke smiled. “How are her parents?”

“Mary died almost four years ago.” Lily replied sadly. As Kayla had always been her son’s closest friend, so had Mary Oliver been hers.

Luke reached out to touch his mother’s hand. “I’m so sorry.”

“I still miss her so much.” Lily admitted, her eyes filling with tears.

“She was one of the kindest women I’ve ever known.” Luke said, fighting back his own tears. “What about Dr. Oliver? Is he all right?”

“Frank is fine. He grieved hard when Mary died but he is doing better now. He’ll be so delighted to see you again.” Lily said, wiping away a tear. “You’re not eating. Would you like something else?” She started to get up to find Luke something else, but her son stopped her.

“No, it’s fine.” Luke ate another bite from the sandwich.

“You don’t want to know about Reid?”

Luke shrugged his shoulders, taking another bite. “Not really.”

Lily smiled knowingly. “He followed in his father’s footsteps just like he always said he would.”

The blond swallowed, his voice scarcely audible when he spoke. “I never doubted it.”

“He’s a good man even if he’d like people to think otherwise sometimes.” Lily pointed out. “He always looked out for his sister and he was taken with you.”

Luke snorted, shoving the plate with a half eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich away from him. “That was a long time ago.” He got up from the table, dismissing the subject.

Lily placed her hand on her son’s shoulder, giving it a squeeze. “Luke, I know we don’t really know each other anymore and I want you to know that I’m really proud of everything that you’ve accomplished but I can see that you’re not happy.”

“I’m happy enough.” Luke gave her a small smile before he turned away and walked out of the kitchen.

Without even thinking about it, Luke walked down the hall into the living room and went out into the backyard through the sliding door. He stopped at the bottom of the treehouse, but only hesitated for a moment before he climbed up the small ladder. When he reached the top, he had to remove spider webs from the entrance before he could crawl inside.

He sat cross-legged, thinking that the tree house seemed smaller than he remembered. The corners of his mouth twitched into a smile as he saw that the etching he and his best friend had once carved into the wood was still fairly legible. L + K = BFF

Luke let out a content sigh, closing his eyes. He had spent many hours in his younger years in this tree house, sitting in silence just like he was right now, forgetting everything around him whenever he felt the need to escape his life for a while. Luke could almost hear the fights his parents use to have echo through his memories and into the tree house. There were times he would crawl inside with a book, a flashlight, and several PB & J sandwiches to wait out their fights. There were even nights that he slept in the treehouse; more nights than he cared to admit.

If his room was his own piece of the world, than the treehouse was his hideaway. He not only escaped from his parents' fights, but this place was where he finally came to terms with sexuality. He remembered sitting in the treehouse and saying out loud to himself that he was gay. Hearing the words come out of his mouth helped him finally say them out others. Kayla was the first one that he actually came out to; in the treehouse of course.

The blond had no idea how much time had passed before he opened his eyes again. It could have been twenty minutes or maybe an hour. He carefully climbed back down the ladder in order to go back inside the house but he stopped dead in tracks when he saw a man leaning against the fence. Though the sun was in his eyes and eight years had passed, he recognized him.

Reid Oliver pushed himself away from the fence and crossed to him, while Luke tried to ignore the fact that he felt his heart beating a bit faster in his chest. “Welcome home Mr. Grimaldi.”

“What the hell are you doing here?” He crossed his arms over his chest, trying not to look into those fabulous blue eyes and on a face that had aged much too well.

“Your mother told me that you’re back and I wanted to see it with my own eyes.” Reid replied. “I didn’t want to disturb you while you were up there.”

His voice was the same, Luke thought, still as seductive as he remembered. “I didn’t think that you’d still live in Oakdale. I always thought you’d move away and have your own hospital somewhere.”

“I moved back after I finished medical school. Decided to work at my dad’s practice until he retires and I can take over.” Reid explained with shrug of his shoulder. “You look great by the way. A little pale maybe.”

“Is that your medical opinion, Doctor?” Luke asked, a smile playing on his lips.

“Actually, yes.” The older man replied, noticing that Luke still had the same blinding smile. He wished that at least that much could have changed. Though they were standing so close, he knew the blond was as distant as he had been when there had been thousands of miles between them.

“You look good too by the way.” Luke said, wishing it wasn’t so true. His curls was still rich, maybe a bit longer and he felt the urge to run his fingers through them. He was even more attractive than he was eight years ago if that was even possible.

“Of course.”

Luke rolled his eyes at him. “Somehow it’s difficult for me to picture you as a doctor, even more as a doctor with patients.” Reid was wearing black jeans and an worn Oakdale U t-shirt. “You don’t look like a doctor.”

“Want to see my degree?” Reid teased and played to pull it from his back pocket.

“No.” Luke rubbed his sweaty palms on his jeans. “So I heard Kayla is married now.”

“Yeah to Thomas Williams of all people.” Reid sighed. “Remember him? He was in my english class in high school.”

“No, I don’t think I remember him.”

“Well, he isn’t very memorable.” He grinned at him and Luke smiled back at him. “She can’t wait to see you again Luke.”

“I want to see her, too.” Luke replied honestly before they fell silent for a moment, taking each other in.

“I have to get back to work but I should be done at five thirty. How about I pick you up at six thirty and we have dinner together?” Reid asked.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Why not?”

“Maybe because last time I was supposed to have dinner with you, you stood me up.” Luke snapped.

“Here we go.” Reid muttered under his breath and let out a sigh. “I was young Luke and I had my reasons.”

“It doesn’t matter, not anymore.” Luke could feel a headache coming on. “The point is that I don’t want to pick up where we left off. We have our separate lives now and we should keep it that way.”

Eight years before Reid had known exactly how to handle him, or he thought he did, but now he only nodded at Luke before he watched him leave. What hadn’t changed was that one smile from Luke could still turn him inside out.

***

For the second time that week, Luke felt nervous while he drove through the quiet streets in Oakdale, but his explanation was a different one this time. He knew that it was probably foolish to feel nervous, but he couldn’t shake it. In a few minutes he’d come face to face with his oldest friend, who knew him better than anybody else in the world. At least that’s how it used to be when they were kids, until their friendship had been severed so quickly when Luke left town.

When he made his way to the front porch of a small house in the quiet neighborhood, the blond thought that this was the perfect neck of the woods for a small child to grow up.

The door swung open before Luke got the chance to knock. The woman who stepped out looked almost the same as when he last saw her eight years ago. Kayla still wore her hair shoulder-length but the color of it, which had always been the same as her brother’s hair color, had changed to light blonde.

Luke searched for something to say when Kayla’s arms suddenly clasped tightly around him, tears spilling from her eyes.

“I can’t believe it. You’re really here.” Kayla pulled back, wiping her cheek with the back of her hand. “It’s so good to see you Luke. I’ve missed you. ”

“I missed you too.” Luke replied, wiping away his own tears. “Honestly, I was so nervous about meeting you again after all these years.”

“Why?” Kayla asked.

“I thought that it might be awkward between us and that we would have no idea what we should talk about.”

Kayla chuckled. “Well I was worried that you might have turned into a smug ass who thinks he’s better than everybody else.”

“Yeah, right.” Luke laughed; feeling as if his tension had been washed away.

“Come on, let’s go inside.” Kayla grabbed his hand, pulling him through the door and led him into the living room.

They sat down next to each other on the old faded couch that Luke remembered seeing in the Oliver household when he was a child. He picked up a stuffed bear that sat in the middle of the coach and begun to fidget with it. “Mom told me you have a son.”

“Tyler.” Kayla beamed. “He’s the best thing that has ever happened to me.”

“It’s really hard to imagine that you’re a mother now.” Luke said, putting the stuffed bear down in his lap.

“I’m almost used to it.” Kayla replied, a big smile on her face. “I still can’t believe that you’re really here. In my house. I mean the entire town is so proud of what you’ve accomplished Luke. There was something about you in the local newspaper at least two or three times a month. And then there’s me, I never even made it to New York. I just stayed here.”

“This is so much better.” Luke took Kayla’s hand. “You have your own little family now and you’re living in this beautiful house. To me it seems like your life is pretty amazing.”

“I love my life. I really do. It’s just, not how I thought my life would be.” Kayla assured him. “Do you remember Thomas?”

“No and I can’t remember you ever talking about somebody called Thomas.”

“Well I didn’t really know him back then. I remember seeing him in the halls in senior high every now and then but it wasn’t until a few years later that I talked to him for the first time.” Kayla settled back against the couch cushions, getting comfortable. “I was giving dad a hand in the office one day and Thomas was one of his patients that day. We somehow got talking and he asked me if I’d like to have coffee with him sometime. Before I knew it he was asking me to marry him and nine months later I was pregnant.” She let out a satisfied sigh. “But tell me about your life. I’m sure it’s much more exciting than mine.”

Luke laughed. “It really isn’t as exciting as you think. Staying at a different hotel room every night when I promote a new book or having so many people suddenly be interested in your private life is a big downside that comes with the job.”

Kayla remained silent for a moment. “You’re bursting my bubble. I always thought you had this amazing life, traveling around the world, meeting so many great people.”

“I’m not saying that my life hasn’t been good.” He shrugged.

“Have you been taking care of yourself Luke?” Kayla asked, suddenly sounding worried. “You look thin. I think it would do you good to gain a few pounds.”

Luke rolled his eyes. “Now you almost sound like your brother.”

“You saw Reid? The bastard didn’t tell me about it!” She grumbled. “How did it go?”

“Good until he asked me to have dinner with him and I told him no.” Luke put the stuffed bear back down on the couch, crossing his arms above his chest.

“Why?”

“Because he stood me up at the prom!” He got up from the sofa, starting to pace back and forth. “I don’t care how stupid it sounds. You know how important that night was for me and Reid knew it too. I’d been looking forward to that night for weeks.”

“Luke---”

“I have never felt so embarrassed and hurt in my life like in that moment when I realized that he wasn’t coming to pick me up. My parents had big ugly fight that night and the next morning my father took me to Malta, and that was that.”

Kayla bit her lip before she let out a sigh. “Look, I know this is between the two of you, but there might be more to it than you think and I think you should really give him a chance to explain himself.”

“No. It doesn’t matter. It was a long time ago and I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

In that moment the intercom of the baby monitor on the coffee table crackled, followed by a whimper that quickly turned into crying. “Sounds like somebody woke up.” Kayla rose from the couch. ”I’ll be back in a minute.”

Alone, Luke walked over to the piano that stood in one corner of the room, looking at the framed pictures that were placed on it. Next to a few baby pictures was a wedding picture of Kayla and Thomas and Luke had to admit that her husband looked quite handsome. It seemed like they were a perfect little family, like something out of a book.

“Luke?”

He turned to see Kayla standing in the doorway, a brown-haired baby on her hip. “Aww, he is so adorable.” Luke said. “Can I hold him?”

“Of course you can.” Kayla crossed the room, handing the baby over to Luke.

“Hey there little man.” Luke placed a peck on the baby’s head. Tyler eyed him suspiciously with his big brown eyes but when he tickled the baby, he started to giggle and kick his little feet. “You’re so cute.”

“Seems like he likes you.” Kayla noticed with satisfaction. “I’m so glad that he is finally meeting his godfather.”

Luke’s head shot up from the baby to look at Kayla. “Godfather?”

Kayla nodded. “I sent you a note after Tyler was born. I guess you couldn’t make it to the christening but I always wanted you and Reid to be his godparents.”

“I didn’t get a note.” Luke replied, settling the baby on his hip. “I didn’t even know that you were married until my mother told me about it.”

“Does this mean you didn’t get my wedding invitation either?” Kayla asked and Luke shook his head in response. “Oh. I guess it could have gotten lost.”

“Believe me, if I’d know, I would have found a way to be here.” Luke gave her a small smile, hoping that she believed him.

“Well you’re here now.” Kayla said. “Tell you what, you watch Tyler for a few minutes and I’ll go fix us something to eat and some lemonade. Then we can chat some more about the good old days.” Luke nodded to his friend and turned his attention back to baby Tyler.

***

Dusk was approaching when Luke strolled around the house into the backyard, climbing up the small ladder to his old treehouse. There was so much to think about. He needed to think about his life and what he wanted to do with it.

For the past eight years he had done what his father wanted. He hadn’t wanted to disappoint him, worked hard to make him proud, not having dared to contradict him once. He owed Damian everything. He had managed his career even when he had become deathly ill.

Now he was on the verge of turning his back on everything his father had wanted for him. He knew his dad would have never been able to understand why he wanted to end his career even if he tried to explain it to him. Maybe he just needed a time-out. A few weeks or even a few months and then he could go back to the life he left behind. Right now all he wanted was to sit in his treehouse a little longer to enjoy the quiet.

A while later Luke heard a car pull up in the driveway, followed by the sound of a door closing and guessed that it was his mom who was returning home. They had lunch together early that day and it became clear that things between them were still tense. Deciding to go inside to talk to her again, somehow hoping to close the gap between just a little more, Luke climbed back down.

He turned at the sound of a dog barking, his eyes widening when he saw a Labrador retriever jumping over the fence into the backyard. Tongue lolling, it lunged at him. Before Luke could decide whether to run away or be amused, it plopped both front paws at him, almost knocking him over in progress.

“Wow.” Luke bend down to ruffle the dogs fur. “Hello there. Who are you?”

“His name is Buster.” Panting, Reid stepped out of the shadows. “I guess taking off the leash was a mistake ‘cause he obviously decided to take a hike.”

Luke tried to hide a grin, continuing to pet the dog. “He is beautiful.”

“Don’t flatter him. He’s already got a big enough ego.”

“Well, they say people and their pets develop similarities.” Luke commented, straightening himself.

“Ha. Funny Mr. Grimaldi.” Reid said, quickly bending down to leash Buster before he could take off again. “So Kayla told me you visited her today.”

“Yeah, it was great to see her again.” Luke replied as he strolled over to a nearby wooden bench and sat down. “I’m glad that she seems so happy.”

“She is happy.” Reid declared, dropping down next to the blond. He sighed when he noticed that Luke shifted away from him and remained silent for a moment, staring up in the night sky.

“We were sitting right here when I kissed you for the first time, remember?” Reid asked, turning his head to look at the younger man.

“I remember.” Luke turned to look at him in the shadowy light.

“I remember that day like it was yesterday. We had just gotten back from Chicago. We had gone to that Cubs game and that, ah, used bookstore. I swear you were more excited about the bookstore than the game.” Reid laughed at that. “Anyway, we got back from Chicago and I was too anxious to go home, so you suggested we hang out back here and talk. You told me that you didn’t want to work for dad and I told you that I was scared to go to med school. And the way you looked in the moonlight, I couldn’t help it.” Reid turned to face Luke, sitting sideways on the bench. “I just had to kiss you. And you kissed me back.”

“That’s quite a memory you’ve got.” The younger man folded his arms across his chest.

“It was a great night and a memorable first kiss.” Reid sighed at the memory.

Yeah, it really was, Luke thought. “We were so young and everything seemed so uncomplicated back then.”

Reid nodded thoughtfully. “Do you think, we could try to be friends again?”

“I guess.” Luke shrugged, giving the other man a small smile.

“How long are you staying in Oakdale?”

“I haven’t decided yet.” The blond replied. Buster came to him and he reached down to pet him. “I’ve taken a few months.”

Reid surprised them both by picking up Luke’s hand to play with his fingers. His eyes remained on the hazel eyes of the younger man as he intertwined their fingers, thinking that he was more beautiful than his memory of him, before hastily dropping the hand. Friends was what he had asked for, nothing more. He cleared his throat before he spoke. “You look tired. Are you sleeping all right?”

Luke rolled his eyes. “Don’t start playing doctor with me. I’m just a little tired, which is part of the reason I’m taking a break.”

But Reid wasn’t satisfied. “Why don’t you come into the office for a checkup? Dad can take a look at you if you don’t want me to do it.”

“I’m fine Reid. I don’t need a doctor!”

“Fine.” Reid threw up his hands in resignation. “Dad would still like to see you though.” The auburn haired man let out a breath of air. “Sometimes I still can’t believe that he and your mom have hooked up.”

“What?” Luke asked loudly, taken aback. “Hooked up? Our parents?”

“Yep.” Reid chuckled. “I have to say, I haven’t seen my dad so happy in a long time.”

Luke rose from the bench. “I’m going in.”

Reid sighed. “Can’t you at least try to be happy for your mom? I think she has been through enough in the past.”

“You don’t know anything about it.” Luke replied; his voice filled with bitterness. He turned and walked into the house.


----> Part 2