Time Management Issues

Co-written by: Teri and LJ


Kyler sat back on the sofa, nursing another beer and consciously ignoring the books spread out on the coffee table. Actually, truth be known, it was his sixth or seventh beer but who was counting. He certainly wasn’t, and no one else was around to take note. If either Hugh or Patrick had been home, Kyler would not be neglecting his studies in favour of holding a private pity-party. His mood was partly a result of having to celebrate on his own.

Although concentration was becoming more difficult as the evening progressed, Kyler still sat pondering over events of the past two or three months and trying to figure out when things had begun going down hill. Okay, so they’d been living together for several months now, but that didn’t mean they had gotten into a rut like some old married couples, did it?

“Shit, maybe it did,” Kyler grumbled and guzzled down the rest of his drink. He set the empty bottle beside the others and reached for a new one. “It’s a darn good thing I brought you all in here and don’t have to get up, cause I’m not too sure I can without falling down,” he muttered to himself and finding the situation funny, began to giggle.

“All righty, where were we?” he somewhat seriously questioned the brown bottle he held in his hand. “Oh yeah, I ‘member now; talking about this relationship I’m in that’s falling apart. I think it started a couple of months ago, just before the holidays. I’ll tell ya all the sordid details,” he slurred before taking another long swallow.

“December has always been the most exciting month of the year for me, but this year things didn’t quite work out like I’d hoped. What was most disappointing is it was our first Christmas together. Of course unplanned stuff happened, so maybe we were all somewhat disenchantment.

You see, I grew up in a family with a lot of traditions and I had looked forward to introducing my new partners to each and every one of them. And although Hugh had willingly participated in most of the yearly events, Patrick had missed more than a few.

Granted, the good doctor made an honest effort to be there for me, but it was hard to accept his numerous commitments in the mature manner Hugh expected. I didn’t always meet with success in that quarter.” Kyler groaned at the memory.

“Truth is, with each disappointment my attitude spiralled downwards. In spite of receiving a number of warnings and being chastised a couple of times, I eventually found myself face down over Hugh’s lap. Okay, I got it; storming out in the middle of a conversation and slamming doors constitutes a temper tantrum and such behaviour is totally unacceptable to those Tops of mine. Bloody hell, Hugh all but burned a trail of fire over my bare butt.” Kyler actually shuddered as he took another mouthful of beer.

“There were some good times though and I’ll be the first to admit it. Yeah, like that bang-up successful fund-raising party on Christmas Eve and spending the big day with Patrick’s family wasn’t too bad. Probably because Santa was so good to us and I had a lot of fun teasing my partners by insisting I must have been well-behaved all year to warrant so many presents. Course, I kinda found spending Boxing Day instead of Christmas Day with my family a bit of an anti-climax, but I guess everyone enjoyed themselves.” Kyler laid his head back and closed his eyes.

“I think it was just about this time when things sort of took a turn for the worse,” Kyler softly murmured. “Due to his parents’ getting older, Patrick began visiting more often than he had been. With his tight schedule and all, he was hardly ever home. Hugh, more often than not, accompanied him, but I have a tendency to shy away from most visits ‘cause I find them really boring. So aside from the New Year’s Eve party held by Kipper and Chad at the lounge … which was a blast by the way … the three of us have been spending less and less time together and it’s really beginning to piss me off.” He paused in his narrative to take another swig.

“Things haven’t improved any over the last few weeks.” Kyler continued verbalizing his list of grievances as coherently as possible, determined to get everything off his chest. “Seems like more often then not, I come home to the friggin’ house being empty and only the red light blinking on the phone to let me know they’ve even thought about me. Usually it’s a message from Patrick telling me they’ve been held up but will try not to be too late. I’m starting to lose count of how many evenings I’ve had to spend alone … just like tonight. Only tonight, I decided to have ‘barley sandwiches’ for supper rather than soup and crackers. So glad you could join me.” He lifted the bottle in a salute, before draining it. He had no idea that his partners were on their way home.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Patrick closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the leather head-rest while Hugh drove. The night was quiet and there were not many people out. The powerful car drove swiftly through the stillness, smoothly heading south towards home where Kyler was.

Hugh glanced over at Patrick once or twice but did not speak, willing his partner to get as much rest and solace as he could from the few minutes of shut-eye. He could see how tired Patrick was. It had been a feverish couple months… for all of them. Year-end festivities and meeting new family members for the first time had taxed everyone’s energies. This was followed almost immediately with the start of school, which meant a busy time for both Hugh and Kyler.

But Patrick had taken the worst hit. For all the wrong reasons, the ER was busiest during festive seasons and Patrick had readily given up a number of social events and family gatherings in the call of duty. Apart from his busy hospital schedule, Patrick had also been ‘loaned out’ a couple of days each week. In January, the Kelowna General Hospital was horribly short of surgeons and they had desperately cried out for help. So kind-hearted Patrick, who found it difficult to turn down even a brown sparrow; had found himself commuting between the two hospitals the last few weeks. All of which resulted in a surplus of patients and spending even less time with his partners.

To crown it all off, Patrick’s parents had also reached a critical point in their lives where certain hard decisions had to be made regarding where they lived. It was obvious the house they were staying in… the same one where Patrick had grown up… was too large for them. The three-bedroom, double-storey house was just too much for the old couple to manage. Patrick visited as often as he could, helping out with the yard work and whatever repairs were needed, but it was beginning to be clear that would not be enough. Bette and Douglas Dean just could not do it on their own any longer. They found it hard to even climb the stairs every night to get to bed.

This realization could not have come at a worse time for Patrick. But it did and Patrick had inherited yet another set of problems on his already overloaded mind. So began the upsetting task of persuading his parents to put their home up on the market and move.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Quite drunk by this time, Kyler was giving free rein to his temper. “Yep,” he addressed no one in particular; “things have been totally shitty over the last few weeks and it’s gonna get worse I think before it gets better….that is, if it does get better.”

He tilted his head back to down another gulp of beer and then remembered the bottle was empty. “Oh well, I’ve probably had too many already,” he grinned, proud of being so philosophical about running out. “I had to work today when I would have preferred spending it with Hugh and Patrick, even if it meant going to Bette and Doug’s place. I hate working Saturdays, but with the scheduling mess up due to the recent re-opening of the mine, it couldn’t be helped. I was hoping my guys would be back when I got home, because I had some exciting news to share with them. But they weren’t here and as usual, the only thing to greet me was the fucking red light flashing on the phone.” He complained loudly, hoping his voice would fill the house and make it less lonely.

The ‘fucking red light’ was indeed a message from Patrick once again saying he and Hugh would be leaving as soon as possible. There was an additional message from Hugh telling Kyler to eat dinner and then hit the books!

“Dinner…yeah, right! Hell, if I wasn’t feeling so damn good right now, I’d really get pissed off. Although, come to think of it,” Kyler griped to his inanimate companion, “when they are home, they just wanna veg-out in front of the boob-tube.” He stared at the empty bottle he was slowly peeling the label off of. “Talk about boooorrrr-ing.”

It suddenly hit Kyler just how tired he was, even though it was only eight o’clock. “Seeing as I got no beer left, guess I may as well turn in,” he muttered. It took several minutes and more than one attempt for him to finally push up off the sofa, only to stand unsteadily on his feet. His head was spinning and his legs felt like rubber. “But it was a good party,” he giggled.

Turning off the light, he stumbled through the darkened house and up the stairs; his footsteps echoing eerily behind him. He really should have been studying for his upcoming exam, but he’d chosen instead to spend the evening drinking himself into a stupor as an alternative. He was fortunate in being able to make it upstairs without causing himself bodily harm. He barely managed to crawl into the middle of the large empty bed in the master bedroom before falling asleep fully clothed.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“We’re home, honey.” Hugh touched Patrick’s arm lightly as he pulled into their driveway.

Patrick forced open his eyes and stretched as far as he could within the confined space. “Already? Umm... I had a good nap.”

Hugh unbuckled himself and leaned over for a quick kiss. “Good! I know you were drained. But you did good today.”

Patrick’s lips curled into a lop-sided smile. “I hope you are right. It’s difficult convincing old people they have to sell their house. Damnit! It’s hard even for me. I grew up there!”

“I know.” Hugh got out and waited for Patrick to walk over. With his arm flung over Patrick’s shoulders, they walked up the porch steps and let themselves into the house. “I’m sorry about that, but I think this is the best decision. You did the right thing.”

“Wonder if Kyler got our messages,” Patrick mused as he began to shrug off his jacket. “We should have called to make sure he’s all right.”

“He’s a grown man. He knows how to call us if he needs us.”

“Where is he?” Patrick looked around and called out. “Kyler!”

“Not so loud. He could be asleep; the lights are all off,” Hugh warned.

“Eh, what’s this?” Patrick had walked into the living room and stumbled over a stray beer bottle.
Hugh came in after him and flipped the light switch on. Both Tops stood still for a moment, taking in the state of the living room. There were several empty bottles lined up along side the coffee table which had a number of books and paper strewn across it. A crumpled bag of potato chips lay on the floor and an open box of cookies were on the sofa. Kyler’s Celtic hand-held drum was leaning against a chair.

“What the ...” Patrick’s voice trailed off.

“Hmm ...” Hugh’s face was grim. “It looks like someone has been having a private party in here.”

Patrick was silently counting the number of empty bottles and shaking his head. “I make that out to be five ... no wait, one more here. Six; seven actually, counting that one! Seven bottles of beer? What could have possessed him?”

“Obviously indulging in another fit of his black moods, which translated into Brat language simply means temper tantrum,” Hugh replied dryly.

“I’ll tidy up,” Patrick offered.

“Leave it, Patrick. He’ll do it tomorrow when he is sober; very likely with a smarting bottom!”

There would have been a time when Patrick would have felt a jolt of anxiety at that pronouncement, but they had been together for a while now and he had accepted that as part and parcel of their discipline relationship. He raised his eyebrows in silence and headed towards the stairs instead. “Okay. I’ll go see if he is still up.”

He padded softly to the master bedroom and pushed open the door. Lying on top of the covers was their partner, head buried under a pillow and his feet sticking out over the end of the bed. Patrick sat down slowly next to Kyler and removed the pillow.

“Honey,” he called softly.

Kyler didn’t wake up. In a semi-conscious state, he shoved the offending hand away, burrowed deeper under another pillow, rolled into a ball and moaned out what sounded suspiciously like a disgruntled ‘fuck-off’.

Patrick resisted an urge to swat the exposed thigh but decided it was not honourable to smack a sleeping, and likely drunken, Brat. A reluctant grin pulled at the corner of his mouth as he stood at the end of the bed, regarding Kyler’s still form with equal parts of frustration and fondness.

Hugh walked in and stood next to Patrick. He heaved a sigh before speaking in a decidedly annoyed tone. “I thought I had straightened him out with that last spanking. Looks like it’s time for another talk with our young partner here. Shall I handle it?”

Patrick leaned against Hugh and closed his eyes for a while. “Yes, please. I am so tired I don’t think I can discipline anyone!”

Hugh gave a low laugh and shoved Patrick gently away. “Go get ready for bed then! And I want you to sleep in tomorrow morning. I will handle this young man here first thing tomorrow and when we are done, I will come get you. Until then, you are to stay in bed and rest. Do you hear me?”

Patrick was only too glad to comply. Sleep sounded good and sleeping in sounded even better.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Man, last night was some party!” Kyler smirked blurry-eyed at himself in the bathroom mirror. “Luckily, I don’t feel or look any the worse for wear. Of course, that’s likely to change when Hugh gets a hold of me.” He made a face and giggle at his comical reflection. “God, my mouth feels like there’s moss growing in it,” he groused and reached for his toothbrush.

It had been his bladder demanding relief that had him up before either the sun or his partners. Kyler had a vague memory of the mess he had left behind and an even vaguer hope that Hugh and Patrick had missed it when they got home. He knew he ought to go clean it up, but now that his most pressing personal needs had been met, he decided he’d rather go back to bed.

Tip-toeing into the master bedroom, he smiled down at his sleeping lovers for a moment or two before carefully crawling in between them and falling back to sleep.

About an hour later, Hugh’s internal clock kicked in and he opened one eye. He peered at the clock and then at his two partners. Both were sound asleep face to face. Hugh watched them for a moment, enjoying the feeling of warmth that coursed through him as he mentally possessed them. It was a good feeling.

With a regretful sigh, Hugh swung his legs off the side of the bed and leaned down to shake Kyler awake.

“Whaaat?” Kyler moaned at having been startled out of a sound sleep.

“Shh .... don’t wake Patrick,” Hugh whispered in Kyler’s ear.

“Oh, ‘k…sorry,” Kyler lowered his voice as he sat up and rubbed the grit from his eyes.

“Come downstairs,” Hugh said, pulling Kyler gently but firmly out of bed. “Put this on,” he said, handing Kyler a robe.

Not fully awake, Kyler half-consciously followed the older man’s instructions.

Hugh took Kyler’s hand and led him down the stairs, straight to the living room. They both stood there for a moment.

Kyler grimaced at the disarray that greeted them. The room looked so much worse in the light of day.

“Would you like to tell me what happened?” Hugh asked.

‘Not really,’ Kyler thought, but wisely refrained from voicing his thoughts out loud. “Ah, I kinda threw myself a party last night; a mixture of celebration and maybe a bit of feeling a little hard done by. I’ll clean it up, Hugh; I planned to all along….honest. I just wasn’t in any condition to do it last night.”

“You will, but later.” Hugh once again took Kyler’s hand and this time pushed him towards the study situated near the back of the house. It was a very pleasant room, with a view to the backyard. Hugh closed the door and said curtly, “Sit down, Kyler.”

Kyler perched himself on the arm of the leather sofa and nervously began toying with the ties of his bathrobe.

Hugh planted himself on the edge of the desk and folded his arms across his chest. It was his favourite pose when he was in lecture mode, and Kyler knew well the body language.

‘Man, I must really be in deep shit,’ Kyler sighed. ‘Wonder what spin Hugh is gonna put on last night?’

“Kyler, you know Patrick’s situation well. Don’t you?”

“Yes, I know how busy he is and that he has a lot on his mind.”

Hugh nodded. “The hospital is taking up so much of his time and on top of that, you know how concerned he is about his parents. It’s been hard trying to convince them to sell their house and move into a senior’s complex, but yesterday they finally agreed. That was why we were so late back. This is a stressful time for him and he really does not need to have to worry about whether he is spending enough time with you or whether he has hurt your feelings.”

“He hasn’t hurt my feelings, Hugh, and I never said he had. I just wish we could spend more time together like we used to.”

“You don’t have to say it. When you get into one of your tantrums because you feel neglected when we haven’t been able to spend time with you; that makes him think you are mad with him. Don’t you see that?”

“I guess, but I wasn’t throwing a tantrum last night. Okay, so I was disappointed in you not being here to hear my news but I just kinda celebrated on my own. That’s all,” Kyler insisted.

“What was last night’s ‘party’ about?” The word party was said with a little emphasis. When Kyler did not respond, Hugh raised one eyebrow and asked, “Feeling sorry for yourself?”

“NO!” Kyler loudly declared before the look on the older man’s face had him backing down and taking more care in how he spoke to him. “Well, not exactly….ah…. maybe a bit though. I had something really neat to tell you guys and I had hoped you’d be here when I got home from work. But you were running late and I decided to have a couple of beers while I waited.”

“You know, Kyler; that sounds very much like a temper tantrum to me. Hmm?”

Kyler sighed out his exasperation as his shoulders slumped but refrain from saying anything. He didn’t think it would do any good trying to change the older man’s take on things.

“A couple of beers? Was it really just that?”

“Mostly,” Kyler mumbled and shifted uncomfortably. “I just hate it when the house is empty and it’s getting dark outside.”

Hugh sighed and shook his head. “If you really had not wanted to be alone, you could have called us and come to join us. Bette and Doug love you like their son. But you repeatedly refuse to accompany us when we visit with them. Why?”

“I don’t know. Guess I’m just kinda uncomfortable around people so much older than me.”

“I am not buying that, Kyler. You can do better!”

Kyler glanced out the window and wished he was anywhere but here. He was unable to put his negative feelings into words, fearing they’d make him out to be a big baby. “I don’t know what to tell you, Hugh.” He looked up beseechingly at his partner.

“Do you know Patrick and I sometimes do not know what to tell Bette and Doug? They keep asking about you. They are beginning to think you are trying to stay away from them. How do you think that makes Patrick feel?”

Hugh’s voice had gone rather stern and Kyler hung his head. “Kyler?”

“I’m sorry if I’ve put you guys in a tough spot. I didn’t mean to do that. It’s not like I was just hanging around doing nothing. I have school and work to take care of.” Kyler was getting frustrated but made an honest attempt at keeping that frustration out of his voice.

Hugh didn’t say anything for a long while. He just sat and looked at Kyler. “I know, honey; but we’re all busy. And I know you understand that. So this is not really what it’s about, is it? What is the matter, Kyler? You’ve been disgruntled lately. Anything you want to tell me?”

“Not really,” Kyler murmured and shrugged his shoulders. He just wasn’t in a frame of mind to put into words something he didn’t quite understand himself.

“All right, now let’s come back to last night. Did you check our voicemails?”

“Yes. You said you were held up and would be home as soon as possible; to eat something and hit the books. But I was too tired to study and I wasn’t hungry.” Kyler grimaced, already knowing his excuses were not going to fly.

“Since when has it been acceptable to drink yourself into a stupor? I don’t care if it was in our own home. Would we have let you get so stoned drunk if we were here? And if not, what makes you think it is okay to do it when you’re alone?”

“I hadn’t planned on having more than two, but they went down so smoothly……and, well….guess I over did it a bit.” Kyler placed his head in his hands. ‘So much for drinking on an empty stomach,’ he groaned to himself.

The previous evening, he had fetched his Bodhran and tipper along with the beer. But the music that usually soothed him, had failed to do so last night and had left him rather keyed up instead. Now that uptight feeling was returning as he resigned himself to his partner’s displeasure and his own inability to explain his fears regarding Patrick’s parents.

Sensing his unrest, Hugh decided he would take care of the easy part of the business first. Kyler obviously was harbouring something which he was not sharing, but also knew he was in trouble about the previous night’s drinking. Hugh wanted to get that out of the way before he addressed the other, seemingly more serious, issue.

He got up and moved to the sofa, tugging Kyler down with him. Putting an arm around his Brat’s shoulder, he gave the younger man a hug and kissed him on the head. “You know why you are getting spanked for last night, don’t you?”

Kyler cringed. He wasn’t surprised by the question but he still squirmed with embarrassment. As much as he was dreading the upcoming punishment, he also just wanted the whole ordeal over with. “For drinking on my own with no good reason and for drinking too much,” he quietly admitted.

“Right; then let’s get this done.” That said, Hugh pulled Kyler over his lap.

“I’m really sorry, Hugh. Please don’t,” Kyler pleadingly whimpered even as he wriggled in an attempt to find a comfortable position.

Hugh simply pushed the robe out of the way and pulled Kyler’s shorts down. Then with his bare hand, he landed a series of spanks on his Brat’s butt; each spank resulted in a loud yelp.

Kyler yelped and jerked slightly at the sharpness of the first swat. He felt Hugh’s arm tightening around his waist before delivering the next one. A couple of minutes later, it felt like his backside had been set on fire and Kyler was almost hoarse from crying. Hugh spanked hard, always. When the hand finally came to rest on his extremely sore bottom, he remained where he was over his Top’s knees for a few long moments while Hugh soothingly rubbed his back.

Hugh didn’t say anything. He usually never said much right after a spanking. His hand would have done all the talking necessary during the chastisement and Hugh rarely thought it needed any more words or explanation at this stage. It would have been made clear by this time why the punishment had been needed and it was at all times a taciturn understanding that the slate had been wiped clean.

Slowly pushing himself up, Kyler crawled onto Hugh’s lap and wrapped his arms tightly around the other man’s neck. In the aftermath of the spanking, he felt closer to his partner than he had for several days. With his defenses at their lowest, he was now able to talk openly.

“I’d like to see more of Patrick’s parents, Hugh,” he whispered, a slight hitch in his voice. “But it’s always kinda at the back of my mind that ... well…. sad things do happen to old people, you know, and Bette and Doug are really getting up there.” He didn’t need to say it out loud; Hugh understood immediately.

Hugh did a quick mental review and decided this was as good a time as ever to prepare his young partner for exactly what life had to offer. He was somewhat surprised that Kyler could be so na├»ve about some tings, so unprepared for reality, but then he remembered Kyler had led a rather sheltered life. In Hugh’s opinion, his Brat’s Mom and Uncle Kipper had often over-protected him.

“Sometimes, you can’t think too far ahead of such things, baby,” Hugh said with a lot of gentleness. “I would advise you to go with what your heart feels. If you like Bette and Doug, then you should spend as much time with them as possible and just enjoy being in their company. More importantly, since they are old and frail, you should consider what pleasure you give them when you visit. That, to me, is what you should focus on; not what’s going to happen to them.”

Kyler found comfort in his partner’s suggestions. “Yeah, you’re right, and I can do that. I’d like to help with the move if I can…you know, packing and stuff.”

“Of course you can!” Hugh leaned down to kiss his Brat. “You are more than welcome.”

They snuggled for a bit before Hugh asked, “Did you say you had something to tell us last night?”

“Yeah I do, but I’d rather tell you both at the same time.” Kyler sat up and used the sleeve of his robe to wipe the last of the tears from his face. He smiled brightly at Hugh. “Maybe if we get the coffee on, Patrick will smell it and join us for breakfast. Whatdaya think?”

“Damn good idea!” Hugh gently patted Kyler’s hip. “Up you get, babe; let’s get at it.”

Kyler got up and grimaced ever so slightly as he adjusted his clothing. Now that the spanking was over, the day loomed sunny and clear. Indeed, Kyler had learned that the sting more often than not went away rather more quickly than he had at first thought when he had embarked on this relationship, together with whatever guilt that had clouded his mind earlier. And while his bottom was still tender, it was nowhere unbearable and he certainly felt more comfortable with his conscience cleared.

While Hugh headed to the kitchen, the younger man began putting the living room to rights. It took him less than five minutes to return items to their proper places, put his books in a neat pile and gather up the remaining debris.

The coffee pot was on and Hugh was frying bacon when Kyler walked through the kitchen on his way to the back porch, his arms full of empty bottles and a small amount of trash.

“Our recycle bin is really filling up, Hugh,” he informed his partner before offering, “I’ll start on some toast right after I put this partial bag of cookies back in the pantry.”

Reaching into an opened box of Honey Nut Cherrios, Kyler grabbed a handful and shoved most of them into his mouth. He grinned mischievously when he saw Hugh had his back to him and giggling as he bounced a small circle of cereal off the older man’s head.

He may have gotten away with faking innocence had it not been for Patrick standing in the doorway and catching him in the act. He blushed guiltily as their eyes met for a moment, then Patrick winked and Kyler grinned back at him.

“What’s this I smell?” Patrick asked, strolling into the kitchen and depositing himself at the kitchen table. “Is that bacon, Hugh; and coffee?” He breathed deeply in appreciation.

“Bacon and eggs are coming right up!” Hugh announced as he deftly transferred the bacon onto plates and reached for some eggs. “How’s the toast coming along, Kyler?”

“I’m getting to it.” Kyler was elated at having both his Tops home. “I sure hope you guys are planning to hang around all day and just chill out.” He made his wishes known as he put four slices of whole wheat bread into the slots of the toaster and turned it on. He fetched butter from the fridge and got a knife out of the cutlery drawer, then sat down at the counter and waited for the toast to pop up. Looking back and forth between his partners, he let them know he expected an answer. “Well?”

Hugh turned and replied. “We are planning to spend the day together; all three of us.” He exchanged a quick look with Patrick and continued. “But we need to head on over to Bette and Doug’s place to assist them in filling out the application for Senior Housing. We’ve already got the forms; it’s just a matter of filling them in. And we also were planning to help out with some chores around the house. They won’t be moving for some time yet and there are some repairs that can’t wait. Since you don’t have to work today, we were hoping you would come along. You did offer to help?”

“I guess things are going to start moving pretty fast, huh?” Kyler pulled the slices of toast from the toaster and dropped them onto the counter. “Man, those are hot,” he mumbled as he blew on his fingers before setting about buttering the slices of bread while still warm. He put four more slices in to toast. “I know once a decision is made, you guys get right to it.”

“Ky, I would like you to come with us today, and I know Mom and Dad would too.” Patrick looked up at Kyler, a hesitant smile in his eyes. “They keep asking why you don’t visit.” And then very softly, “please ...?”

“Yeah, I can go with you. I’d like to see the old folks again It’s been a while.” Kyler blushed when he thought of all the times he’d missed visiting with them. “But I kinda have to study a bit more for that exam I have tomorrow; just a final review, sort of.” This was true and he hoped his partners wouldn’t think it was another excuse.

Hugh frowned. “Didn’t you get any studying done last night? What time exactly did you start your little party, young man?” he demanded somewhat sternly.

“Ah, I didn’t get any done,” Kyler quietly admitted. “And I started drinking shortly after I got home and went to bed early.” He concentrated on buttering the last of the toast, hoping nothing more would be made of the issue.

“Well,” Patrick cut in before Hugh could respond. “Since it’s already been discussed and taken care of, we won’t mention it again. But you know we won’t be happy if this happens again?”

“I get the message, Patrick.” Kyler rubbed his backside tentatively to let his partners know he understood the expectations; on both sides.

“So; what’s the big news you have for us, Kyler?” Hugh asked, bringing the food over to the table.

“Well, with my graduation coming up in a couple of months, Uncle Kipper had an idea he thought I might be interested in.” Kyler’s grin spread from ear to ear and his dimples deepened. “I’m going to start my own business. It will start up slow but there will be plenty of room for expansion when I finish school.”

Hugh and Patrick both sat up straighter and stared at Kyler. “Aha ...” they said in unison, clearly wary.

“I am going to be doing the books for several small businesses. You may or may not know that Uncle Kipper already keeps the books not only for the mine and the lounge, but also for a couple of smaller companies here in Jade Heights. The idea came to him the other day when the new owners of the DQ asked if he would do theirs. He feels he will be spreading himself too thin at a time when he really wants to be slowing down some. He thinks it would work out well if I could start off with at least three of the businesses that require the least amount of work. Then this spring, he will teach me to take over the books for the lounge. Whatcha think?” Kyler was almost bouncing in his seat.

Patrick was grinning broadly by the time Kyler finished, and Hugh immediately exclaimed, “I think that is a fantastic idea! Congratulations, babe. You owe Uncle Kipper one; this is a great opportunity for you.”

Patrick leaned over and kissed Kyler. “I know you will be wonderful at doing this. But I can’t imagine Uncle Kipper slowing down. He’s what – hardly past forty-five?”

“Yeah, he turned forty-five on his last birthday. But the reason he wants to slow down is to spend more time with Gaetane.” Kyler answered when he’d swallowed the egg in his mouth. “Seems like Gaetane wants to set up a workshop where he can make wooden toys and the like. Uncle Kipper wants to be able to work with him as he is bit worried about Gaetane hurting himself; what with his Parkinson’s and all.”

“You know,” Hugh said with a shake of his head. “I don’t know if this is a wise decision. I can’t help thinking Gaetane shouldn’t be working with tools; it may be courting trouble.”

“I think for the most part, his PD is controlled fairly well by his meds. It is just the heavier electrical devices that Uncle Kipper is a little concerned about,” Kyler informed his older partner in an attempt to ease his mind.

“We’ll have to trust Uncle Kipper to know what he’s doing,” Patrick calmly offered his two-cents worth. “On my part, I think it says a lot for Uncle Kipper and tells us what kind of a man he is. Not many people would be willing to go through with a relationship if it involved constant health-care.”

“That’s true.” Hugh put a piece of toast on Kyler’s plate. “So what do you need to set up your business? Patrick and I will be more than happy to help out with the initial investment to get you started.”

“Of course!” Patrick immediately agreed. “Just let us know what you need.”

“I won’t need a lot of equipment to set up because the books are done at the offices of each company. Two use Quick Books and one uses Simply Accounting. I don’t want to buy two different programs or be dragging a bunch of paperwork back and forth.”

“Okay,” Hugh said. “But the offer is open and available indefinitely.”

“Thanks, guys. I figure by the end of summer, I will have a full slate of clients. Best thing, I won’t be working nights anymore. It will be strictly Monday to Friday, day time only.” Kyler glanced from one partner to another. He was literally beaming.

Patrick jumped up from his chair and yanked Kyler out of his as well. “Now that calls for a celebration!” he said, as he started to twirl Kyler around in a dance. “Best news I’ve had all week!”

“Once I finish my security job at the mine, do you think there’s a better chance of us seeing more of each other?” Kyler asked with a mischievous gleam in his eye. “Cause I already handed in my notice,” he joyfully announced.

Patrick stopped and stared upon hearing the announcement. “Really?”

“About time too!” Hugh exclaimed as he got up and came over to the two of them. He threw his arms around them and pulled them close. “I am very glad to hear this, Kyler.”

“Me too, Hugh, me too,” Kyler murmured contentedly as he tightened his hold on his two lovers and melted into their embrace.

The End

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