Rory stood to the side watching Eddie as he flew around the room in a flurry of activity. Chuckling softly he walked up to the blond “relax they’re coming to see you not the house.”
Closing his eyes for a moment Eddie took several deep breaths. “I know it’s just that I want everything to be perfect.”
“It will be,” Rory assured him reaching up to caress Eddie’s face “honey I’m the one who should be nervous. I’m meeting your parents for the first time.”
Snorting softly Eddie looked into Rory’s kind gentle eyes “why aren’t you nervous?”
“Because you’re nervous enough for the both of us,” Rory leaned in close bringing his lips to Eddies.
Moaning Eddie could feel his insides melting under his boyfriends touch. As unbelievable as it was he had fallen hopelessly in love with this man devouring his mouth. Pulling away breath ragged “we don’t have time for this,” he muttered batting away Rory’s hands that had strayed across his body.
Dropping his hands to his side Rory’s eyes danced with delight. “One day baby the time will be right.”
Sucking on his bottom lip a worried almost frightened look on his face Eddie asked “will you be able to wait?”
“I’ll wait forever if I have to,” Rory told him giving him a brief kiss on the forehead. He wanted to erase the troubled lines etched into Eddie’s face. As much as he wanted to move their relationship onto the next stage he wanted to be sure that Eddie was ready. The last thing he wanted to do was move too fast or do something that caused Eddie to run. “Our first time will be worth waiting for.”
“Thank you,” Eddie laid his head on Rory’s shoulder relaxing into his embrace “you don’t know how much I appreciate that.” It was something he worried about constantly. Was he moving too slow. Would he push Rory away by his inability to move to the next stage? He just hoped that Rory was being honest with him. Not just telling him what he wanted to hear.
A few hours later Rory was determined to win the staring contest with two stubborn toddlers. As soon as they walked into the house Rory couldn’t take his eyes off them. He had known of their existence but the reality of it left his head spinning.
“They’re not going to bite,” Lynn said having grown tired of the show down.
“They might,” Casey amended enjoying the boy’s discomfiture “there was that incident at their pre-school.”
“Don’t scare the boy,” Lynn chided patting Rory’s shoulder as she went to check on Eddie’s progress with dinner.
Rory looked down at the kids frowning. The little girl blinked up at him the picture of sweet innocence. “Toad was making Henny cry.”
“Toad?” Rory asked looking up at Casey who had his hand’s over his mouth obviously trying not to laugh.
“She means Todd. A little boy at pre-school” Casey explained “she bit him for picking on her brother.”
“Toad’s mean,” she announced looking up at Rory.
Smirking at her “he must be if you bit him.” He earned himself a delighted toothy grin from the girl and a nod from the silent boy. Rory looked around the room wondering if he had somehow passed some unspecified test as the kids wandered off to play and the adults breathed a sigh of relief.
“They like you,” Casey smiled with satisfaction “kids are good judges of character.”
“So when are you two going to get married?” Lynn asked looking to Rory for an answer.
“Mom we …. um” Eddie stammered nearly dropping the dish he was holding.
“Mrs Bennett,” Rory said his voice pleasant but with an edge to it “when we decide the time is right we’ll let you know.”
Casey nodded “Lynn leave the kids alone. They’ve only been dating for a few months. Stop pestering them about getting married, there’s plenty of time for that.”
“I just want to see the twins settled…”
“They are settled,” Casey told her his tone and manner clearly showing his annoyance “I wish you would stop harping on this.”
“They should be with their parents,” looking at Eddie she amended “at least one of them.”
“Lynn I will not discuss this in front of the kids or Rory” Casey told her moving towards Eddie he asked “is there anything I can do to help?”
“Um…” Eddie stopped to think before suggesting “I could use some help chopping veggies for the salad.” He handed his dad a knife careful to keep his eyes down avoiding eye contact.
He could feel both Rory and his Mom staring at him observing his actions.
“Mrs Bennett how about you and I go in the living room? You can tell me embarrassing stories about Eddie while he was growing up.” He smiled over at Eddie as he glanced over his shoulder. Winking at him Rory added “did you bring any naked baby pictures?”
“She better not have,” Eddie called over his shoulder feeling his cheeks start to burn.
When they were alone and the TV was on in the other room Casey set his knife down. “I’m sorry son. I can’t seem to get Lynn on the same page with me about the twins.”
“I understand dad,” Eddie sighed “I wish I could take them. I really do. I don’t see how. This place is too small. When I settled on it I wasn’t thinking about them.”
“I know son,” Casey nodded picking up the knife again “I’m not pressuring you to change your mind. As far as I’m concerned the decision has already been made. If your sister hadn’t gotten into trouble I doubt this would ever have become an issue.”
“What did she do?” Eddie asked.
“Something stupid,” Casey mumbled “she was dared to break into her professor’s office and take his favorite pen. She got caught. It was her bad luck that the professor decided to press charges.”
“Over a pen” Eddie shook his head.
“I know. Ridiculous.” Casey shrugged “the stealing charge was dismissed but not the breaking and entering. She’ll have to do community service,” they continued to chop in silence until Casey continued “she also quit college and moved in with her deadbeat boyfriend. Your mother blames me. She’s under the impression I could have done something if I wasn’t catering to you.”
“Is that why mom thinks I should take the twins full time?” Eddie asked.
“It’s part of it,” Casey agreed “she thinks I’m being unfair. I simply don’t see what I can do for your sister. She has to learn from her mistakes. She’s an adult and capable of making her own decisions. Your mother just refuses to see the difference in situations. Plus she’s disappointed that our travel plans have been postponed.”
“If you want to travel I don’t mind watching the twins. I just don’t know how Rory would feel about it,” Eddie looked down at his hands as if they held the answers to the universe”Rory isn’t….I mean I’m not sure if he wants or likes kids.”
Casey chopped in silence for a moment before saying “I’m sorry to hear that. Hopefully that will change with time. I wouldn’t let it concern you that much right now. He seemed ok with the twins.”
“Yeah he did but…” he left the word hanging in the air.
“But what son?”
“I don’t know it’s just…he doesn’t talk about his family much. I know he has a sister and parents…” he wrung his hands together as his thoughts became jumbled.
Reaching over Casey put a firm hand over Eddie’s to still their futile attempt to wring more juice from the already pulverized mangled tomato. “not everyone has a good or close knit family like we do. Everyone has it troubles….even ours.”
“I know but what if that’s the reason he doesn’t want kids?”
“I think your making a lot of assumptions,” he squeezed Eddie’s shoulders giving him one last piece of advise “talk to him.”
Rory had insisted on doing the dishes while Eddie said goodbye to his parents. He was putting the last dish away when Eddie came up and wrapped his arms around him. “Thank you,” he said kissing the back of Rory’s neck sending shivers of delight down Rory’s spine to his toes.
Turning he caught Eddie before he could step back and pulled him close. Molding his mouth over Eddie’s kissing him deeply. He felt Eddie melt into him for a moment before tensing as his hands traveled to far south. Sighing he stepped back giving the blond some space. To his surprise Eddie stepped forward and resumed the kiss until they were both breathless. Then he heard the words that washed over him like an ice cold shower. “I think I love you.” Pushing Eddie from him Rory turned his back on the astonished young man. “Ddddid I dddo something wrong?”
“No no I’m just tired,” he muttered turning from the sink. He could see the hurt and confusion shining bright in Eddie’s dark brown eyes. “Thanks for inviting me. It was fun. Um I have a lot of things to do before I leave tomorrow.”
“When are we leaving?” Eddie asked leaning against the counter as if his legs could no longer support his weight.
“Um about that,” Rory took his hat off to run his hands through his hair “I was thinking that maybe this trip I’d go by myself.”
Eddie felt the room closing in around him making it difficult to breathe. “I ttthought you wantttted mmme to cccome.” He could feel the tears building behind his eyes. He had done something. Something so awful that Rory didn’t want anything to do with anymore.
Internally Rory winced hearing the blond stutter. It had been weeks since Eddie had been so worked up that he stuttered. His stomach churned with guilt. There was nothing he could do about it. He had no choice. He wasn’t ready to make that commitment. Hearing Eddie say he loved him he knew what he had to do. He couldn’t deny he cared deeply for the quiet, sensitive blond. But love? He couldn’t…he just couldn’t. If it was one thing he learned from his parents it was that he could never love anyone. There was no such thing as love. If there was he wouldn’t have a sister he didn’t want, didn’t need. His parent’s wouldn’t have lied about her existence. “I’m sorry I can’t. I just can’t.”
Nodding Eddie took a deep breath, straightened his shoulders, glared at Rory “fine go,” he nearly shouted “what difference does it make that I took time off to be with you. Time that I didn’t want to take off but you insisted telling me you’d show me a good time.” He turned to walk away.
“Eddie don’t be like that,” Rory pleaded putting his hands on Eddie’s shoulders “when I get back I’ll make it up to you. I promise.”
“Just go,” Eddie said with as much force and firmness he could muster. He was tired of being everyone’s doormat. Everyone assumed that he’d be here when they got around to wanting him. He felt Rory’s hands on his shoulders like heavy weights. He also felt the thrill and tingling sensation that always swept through him whenever the man touched him. He hadn’t felt this way about anyone since that night in the pool house with Graham.
Sighing Eddie shoved those feelings away letting it fuel his anger at his current predicament. He stepped away feeling Rory’s hands slip from his shoulders as he repeated “just go.” He walked blindly to his room slamming the door shut behind him.
Jumping at the sudden and distinct sound of the slamming door Rory was tempted to burst through the door and go after the blond. He took a step forward, stopped shaking his head thinking that maybe this was for the best. Even as he said it his heart skipped a beat. He knew it was a lie. There were a million things he wanted to say. A hundred things he should say. But only three words that would make any difference at all and those were the words he couldn’t say.