Somewhere Only We Know Part 1 by Nichelle Wellesly
Summary:

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Seasons 1& 2 Hybrid with emphasis on the bashing and the recovery from it as I think it could have/ should have happened. 

Initial Plot Bunny from Deb Tanner: What if Michael had tried to stop Brian from going into the prom and had witnessed the attack?


Categories: QAF US Characters: Ben Bruckner, Blake Wyzecki, Brian Kinney, Carl Horvath, Claire Kinney, Craig Taylor, Cynthia, Daphne Chanders, David Cameron, Debbie Novotny, Emmett Honeycutt, Ethan Gold, Father Tom Butterfield, Gardner Vance, George Shickel, Gus Marcus-Peterson, James 'Hunter' Montgomery, James Stockwell, Jennifer Taylor, Joan Kinney, Justin Taylor, Kenneth Reichart, Leda, Lindsay Peterson, Melanie Marcus, Michael Novotny, Molly Taylor, Original Character, Ted Schmidt, Vic Grassi
Tags: Abuse/Child Abuse, Anti-Lindsay, Anti-Michael, Bashing, Bottom Brian, Brian/Other, Drug Use - Recreational, Hatred, Homophobia, Justin/Other, Language, Mental Health Issues, Minor Character Death, Non-Consent, Non-Monogamous Pairings, Orgy (plays well w/others), Out of Character, Prostitution, PTSD, Rape, Real Life Issues, Self-Harm, Threesomes, Toppy Justin, Torture, Voyeurism
Genres: Alternate Canon, Angst, Angst w/ Happy Ending, Could be Canon, Drama, Hurt/Comfort, Romance, Tragedy
Pairings: Brian/Justin, Brian/Justin/Other, Emmett/George, Justin/Other, Michael/David
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 47 Completed: No Word count: 261475 Read: 157963 Published: May 05, 2016 Updated: May 15, 2021
CHAPTER 31: THE NEED TO GET A FEW THINGS ...STRAIGHT: PITTSBURGH EDITION by Nichelle Wellesly

 

 

 

CHAPTER 31: THE NEED TO GET A FEW THINGS ...STRAIGHT: PITTSBURGH EDITION


SUNDAY


BELLAIRE ESTATES

CAHILL COURT


In preparation for her first day at her new job, Lindsay looked over the meager belongings she was able to recoup from the auction she attended yesterday afternoon at Classe Not Passe Moving and Storage. There were no words she could utter to ever describe the shame and humiliation she felt at having to actually bid on her own things in front of everyone. Unfortunately, she’d had to make conversation with two of the biggest gossip queens within elite society, Mathilde Nordstrom and Beth Henley, who were all too happy to regale her with tales of the current Hobbs situation, featuring none other than Brian Kinney and Justin Taylor. Okay, so not so long ago, she’d used her association with them to plant some rather damning innuendos about Jennifer being a neglectful mother in reference to her fucking son. But she never expected to be in this type of situation at the time!


Even now, as she thought about her very obvious downfall, all she wanted to do was crawl under a rock and hide. What was worse though was the fact that those two bitches had outbid her for some of her more choice pieces of clothing- items that represented status and gave the illusion of being well-heeled. Lindsay wanted to scream at the unfairness of it all, even as Mathilde and Beth crowed at their fabulous fortune in obtaining the additions to their own wardrobes. If she didn’t know better, she would have thought someone who knew her personally had put them up to thwarting her at every turn. After all, what were the odds that both of those women would be hunting for bargains at an auction that didn’t involve antiques?


She rolled her eyes in remembrance, while still picking over her, now meager belongings. The sad thing was that most of the items she was able to recover were the same type of things she wore while employed as an Assistant Professor at CMU. They only served to remind her of two things: how far outside of her upbringing she’d fallen, and how far she needed to climb to restore herself to her former glory. If only Gardner would cough up the cash, or at least treat her as the mistress she would be all too eager to be to him, only then would she have a chance without having to start all over… and on her own dime this time. It was so fucking unfair!


The one thing she noticed was missing was the expensive lingerie she’d accumulated over the last two years. She would have to confront Melanie about that whenever she deemed to show herself. And just where was she anyway? In retrospect, she hadn’t seen or heard from Melanie in days. Surely, by now she and Brian would have been trying to contact Lindsay, if for no other reason than to berate her for being so careless with Gus’ welfare. 


Which brought up the next question of where was Gus? Although she did not miss all that being a full-time mother entailed, she did miss him somewhat. He was often her gateway to Brian, especially when he was doing something cute. She hated the fact that without Gus in her care, and with no way to get in touch with anyone, she was vastly out of the loop with all the goings-on via the Liberty Avenue gossip mill. It was a situation she would have to rectify immediately.


Making that decision, she decided to go and see Gardner. She’d noticed that he had a three-car garage attached to the main house. So it would stand to reason that it housed more than one car, which she might be able to use to get around. She had close to a million errands to run, beginning with stopping over at her parents' house to inform her mother of what’s been going on. She had to admit to being a little surprised that neither she nor Gardner had heard from Nancy as of yet; it was so unlike her mother to be out of touch.


Entering through the kitchen entrance, Lindsay called out. “Gardner? Gardner, are you here?” 


The space really was magnificent- a true chef’s kitchen. Although Lindsay would have preferred to have her meals prepared for her, she couldn’t help but feel envious of the furnishings. She wasn’t able to look at it all before, being preoccupied with the conversation she and her host were having which led to sealing the deal between them with his tongue between her legs, among other things. But now that she had the time, she couldn’t help but be in awe of her surroundings. As she caressed the rich marble countertop, she took note of the cherrywood cabinets. If there was one thing she would change about the space, it would be the butternut color on the wall. She supposed that was his wife’s doing. After all, it was a color that just didn’t suit Gardner’s personality. If she had her way, she would have picked a sage color, which represented what she and Gardner coveted most… money.


“Lindsay… what are you doing here? I thought I made my wishes clear,” Gardner said, leaning over the rail she hadn’t noticed when entering the kitchen. 


From her vantage point, she didn’t even realize that there was a mezzanine area above the main area. She could just imagine how it would feel to live in a place like this, with its hidden gems. She wanted to see it! Her curiosity about what it looked like was getting the best of her. “I wanted to talk to you. I’ll come up.”


“No. Stay there. I’ll be right down,” Gardner stated as he turned off his computer. 


The last thing he needed was her entering the space he used as his unofficial study. It was the one area of the house that Constance preferred he use as something akin to a man cave; one of her only concessions when having the place decorated. Even though the length of the room was wide-open, there was only one entrance in and out which was denoted with a hidden pocket door which led to the long hallway on the top floor. He instinctively knew that should Lindsay be made aware of it, he would have no place within his own house to hide from her. And even as he thought about it further, he found himself even more troubled by her presence in his kitchen at the moment.


My God; my man cave just became my panic room!


He shook himself of the morbid thought, even while taking care to press the small button discreetly placed in between the seams on the tapestried wall. That he even had to take such measures in case Lindsay decided to traverse the second floor was very telling in and of itself. He wouldn’t put it past her to go exploring in his home at the very first opportunity she had. To that end, Gardner vowed to himself to make sure ALL of the doors to his home were locked from now on, especially the ones leading from the back of the house. And that included all of the windows as well. 


As he reached the bottom of the stairs and headed towards the kitchen, he tried to think of all the benefits to having Lindsay close in order to plot and plan. He was quickly discovering that there were very few. The undeniable truth, which was revealed in that small space of time, was that he simply didn’t trust Lindsay. If she would betray the man whom she considered her best friend, what would she do to me? And that was the question he’d refused to entertain when he’d acquiesced to Nancy’s veiled plea to rescue her daughter. 


Why hadn’t he acknowledged it before he agreed to do so? Was his desire to bring Brian’s willfulness under subjection really worth aligning himself with Lindsay’s lofty ideals? One thing was for certain: he would certainly be keeping a close eye on her ass, as well as his assets in the coming days. He had no illusions about Lindsay’s avaricious nature, but he’d be damned if he was ever going to become a victim of it, as Brian Kinney and Melanie Marcus had so obviously become. No, instead he’d use it for his own benefit, all the while denying her what he felt was unnecessary to achieving their goals.


Arriving in the kitchen, he noticed that she was still looking up at the mezzanine area. Fortunately, there was no way to see what was up there from her vantage point or any other. Despite the mezzanine being an open space, the opposite side was a solid wall. He could feel the frustration coming off of her in waves, but he didn’t care. Gardner decided that the easiest and fastest way to get rid of the scowling woman would be to start the conversation immediately. 


“So what was it that you needed to speak with me about, Lindsay? I would imagine it was something of some import?”


She reluctantly pulled her eyes from the top of the kitchen area, to view the man who refused her entry into his upstairs sanctuary. Although Lindsay would have loved to berate him about his secrecy, she knew she couldn’t do that. The bottom line was that she was there on his benevolence. She mentally shrugged, thinking Well I’ll just have to go up there when he isn’t around. Hiding her glee at the thought of her coming subterfuge, she looked at him squarely. “I would like to borrow your car for a little while.”


Gardner raised his eyebrow at the haughtiness of her tone but decided to hear her out. “Oh? What for?”


“I need to go get some of the personals I was unable to retrieve yesterday. Also, I need to go to my parents' house this afternoon. Since my cellphone has been turned off by my bitchy ex, there’s no way for them to reach me at the moment. I would like to rectify that immediately.”


Gardner eyed her skeptically. He had a feeling that there was more to her wanting to visit her parents than what she was saying but had no way to dispute her words. He shrugged. “You can borrow a car, but it won’t be mine. I have my own plans. However, you can borrow one of the cars in the garage. Bear in mind though that there are three of them off-limits: the Jaguar; the Maserati, and the Lotus Esprit. You may not under ANY circumstances use any of those.”  


At Lindsay’s puzzled look, Gardner chuckled knowing that Lindsay was going to have a fit at what was left of the cars she had to choose from. Again, he didn’t care. It was either she accepted what he was willing to offer, or the nearest bus stop was five city blocks away. It was her choice. It was going to be interesting to him to see which option her ego would go with.


Ushering her through the door, he only had to wait a few moments for Lindsay to go from stunned silence to impotently irate. “What the hell is the meaning of this, Gardner?!”


“I’m sure that I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”


“Yes, you do! These cars that you are offering me…”


“Are perfectly working vehicles.”


“But they don’t represent status!”


“Oh, I’m sorry. But do you really have any?” Gardner said, letting the innuendo hang for a very tense moment before continuing. “Lindsay, you seem to be under a misapprehension here; the one where you are in a position to live above your own means. Nevermind that I am allowing you to stay in the guesthouse of MY estate and that I am offering you use of one of the vehicles here without making you pay a renter’s fee. But then again, perhaps you should have to pay for the use of one of these cars since there are perfectly good buses that the City of Pittsburgh offers for a minimal fee which will drop you off downtown.”


Lindsay gasped at his suggestion. “Are you saying that I should take a bus?”


“Well, that’s what people who don’t own vehicles do. Many also take taxis but considering your own recent run-in with one of the most notable companies in this city, I doubt word of your antics has not spread around by now. So how you get around is your choice; NOT your entitlement. Are we clear?”


Lindsay gritted out her answer, “Crystal, Gardner.”


“Good. The keys are in each of the cars…” He saw her eyes light up, and a calculating gleam enter eyes at the mention of where the keys were located. Better to disabuse her of that notion right now! “And don’t even think to try using one of the more expensive cars, Lindsay. Although they are here within the garage, the alarms are still on them, plus, if you don’t have a code, you won’t be able to start them at all. Now you will be expected to put gas into the vehicle you will be using, and as a renter’s fee, I’m only going to ask that you pay the insurance on that vehicle for however long you’re going to be using it.”


“Gardner…”


“Of course, taking the bus would be more cost-effective since the fare is only two dollars, and walking is free.” Again, he let the innuendo of Lindsay’s options hang in the air. He could see that she was getting even more frustrated by the knowledge that he wasn’t going to bend to her will and whims. She was clearly waging a war of power that she was ill-equipped to win.


“Fine. I’ll pay for the insurance. Will that also be automatically deducted from my pay?” She asked in her most haughty tone.


He chuckled in response. “Of course. However, unlike whatever other ongoing expenses you should incur, this will only be taken out of the second check each month. So choose wisely.”


Lindsay rolled her eyes, before looking over the vehicles that she hated on sight. They all reminded her of the first cars a college student would have or her life with Melanie. Each was nondescript and bespoke of a person living hand-to-mouth. She was NOT happy! Making a decision to choose the car which was more likely to break down, in the hopes that it would, and as an apology, Gardner would let her use one of the newer cars, she opted for the white Subaru Outback sitting alone in the corner. Gardner smiled at her selection.


“Excellent choice, Lindsay. I’d just had the engine and transmission redone, so it will be good for another ten years or so. I was almost afraid that you would choose the Ford, since I know the maintenance for it is coming due soon. It would have only been another expense you would have needlessly incurred. However, the Subaru is also great on gas.”


“Wonderful,” Lindsay said through gritted teeth.


“Yes, I think so, too. So when you come back from your errands, be sure to park it around where the guesthouse is.”


“Why not back into the garage? I mean, it is where I’m picking it up from and all.”


Gardner smiled at her seeming naivete when he knew her question was anything but innocent. “Because, Lindsay, as soon as you pull out of here, I’m going to change the alarm code on the garage. Needless to say that I don’t trust you to adhere to our agreement about the cars.”


“You mean your agreement…”


“Indeed, I do. Now drive safely. There’s a good chance I’ll be out when you return, so I’ll wish you a good evening now.”


Lindsay huffed and stomped off towards her new vehicle, wondering why she ever thought aligning herself with Gardner was a good idea. Well, no matter. As soon as I talk to Mother, some things will certainly be changing, especially this fucking hunk of junk! Lindsay smiled tightly, as Gardner stood at the garage door entrance waiting for her to leave. This arrangement really had to be reevaluated. As of right now, Gardner held all the power. She really needed to change that!


With that thought in mind, she decided that her first order of business would be going to see the one person she knew she could count on to help her reinvent the rules to this game she was playing. She was going to see Nancy before she made another stop she was loathe to make. But with any luck, her mother would understand just what she needed to make her first appearance as a trusted employee within Vanguard a resounding success. If anyone could help assure Lindsay’s status there and within high society again, it was her mother.  


HONEYGRASS ELEGANT CREATIONS 

TREMONT STREET


George and Vic entered the building only to stop short. “Em, what’s wrong?” Vic asked, concerned. In all the years he’d known Emmett Honeycutt, he could count on any of his fingers and toes when he’d seen the man in a neat-catatonic state.


“Let’s sit him down first, Vic,” George suggested, already moving towards the unresponsive man, who was still clutching his phone in the palm of his hand.


Vic set about laying out the fresh-baked teacakes he’d made that morning, before moving over to the brewer. He didn’t waste any time gathering coffee for him and George, while brewing a hot cup of the premixed orange and lemon-flavored tea Em often favored when he was feeling more than a little stressed out. Taking the trays over to the table where George was gently caressing Em’s hand, Vic placed the platters down before taking Em’s other hand into his own. He couldn’t help but feel worried that the man had received another bit of news which had the potential to rock their worlds once again. All he could do was pray that wasn’t the case.


“Should we call Ted?” George asked Vic.


“No. I think we should try to get to the bottom of this first before worrying everyone else,” Vic said, shaking his head before looking at Emmett again. “Now, son, we need you to come out from wherever you are within your mind and talk to us. What’s happened now?”


At the semi-panicked tone emitting from Vic, Em looked at the man. “That was… that was…”


“Don’t stop now, Em,” George encouraged. “Just get it all out, and we’ll deal with it, okay?”


Emmett nodded back at the two men with tears in his eyes. At first, neither Vic nor George thought Emmett was going to say anything. However, what came out of the tall man’s mouth was assuredly the last thing they thought to hear. Emmett cleared his throat, dislodging each of their hands in order to shakily grab ahold of the teacup. Taking a small but fortifying sip, Emmett could feel his nerves calming down marginally. He took another, and then closed his eyes again briefly, before finally feeling enough control over himself to actually speak coherently.


Placing his cup back onto the saucer, he said, “That was the hospital. Heather is… she’s in labor. Oh fuck! I’m about to be a father! I’m… I… I have to go.” He began to get up, looking around as if the hounds of hell were about to begin running after him.


George laughed, even as Vic looked at the panicked man with concern again. George placed a hand on Em’s arm just as he was about to bolt out of the door. “Em, calm down.”


“I am calm!”


“No, you aren’t. And believe it or not, I know just how you’re feeling right now,” he said, as he ushered Emmett back to the table to seat him again. “Now, did the hospital say when the labor started?”


“They said it began about an hour ago,” Emmett answered, voiced edged in fear and disbelief.


“Okay. And is this her first child?”


“Yes. It was a surprise to both of us. But she doesn’t want the baby. She said that I have to be there for her to sign over her rights to me. Oh shit! I have to call Melanie… I mean Harry. That’s who she left in charge to take care of the custody thing. I have to…”


“Em, calm down,” Vic said to the man, almost amused at the speed with which Emmett’s mind seemed to be racing. From his experience with Emmett, the man’s thoughts always ran rampant, but it was always in an organized chaotic sort of way. The fact that Emmett was bordering on hysteria was a bit disconcerting, but also funny as hell. “I’ll call Ted and have him reach out to Mel so she can alert Harry. In the meantime, you need to be calm and fully engaged by the time you get to the hospital. So you are going to sit here for a little while. Have some cake and tea, and then we’ll calmly drive you to the hospital. If memory serves me correctly, Heather will be in labor for quite a few hours barring any complications.”


“Complications? What complications?!”


“Women stuff,” George quickly reassured the man, while shooting a look between laughter and mild annoyance at Vic. It was clear that although Vic may have been there to help Debbie out regarding Michael, this experience was going to be just as new to him as it was going to be to Emmett. Gathering his own thoughts, George picked up his coffee cup, silently encouraging the other two to do the same. After taking a healthy sip, he said, “So as soon as we’re finished here, we’ll get started on all our tasks. That does NOT mean to gulp the tea Emmett unless of course, you want to end up in the ER from third-degree burns?”


Emmett immediately looked contrite, as that was precisely what he intended to do. He heard George chuckle again, and somehow instead of angering him or making him feel like a fool, it comforted him. “The baby is coming a few weeks earlier than I expected.”


“Okay. What have you done so far? What were you planning to do?”


“Find a new place, buy some supplies… I haven’t had time to do any of that. What with the court cases, and then this situation with Michael and Lindsay… oh my God, I’m already failing in my parental duties,” Em wailed despairingly. 


‘“No you aren’t. If anything, you are guilty of being a man in this instance,” George said. “We weren’t born with the nesting instinct."


Vic laughed. “Apparently, Deb wasn’t either. Sure she had been saving all her tips and she had a place to live when Michael was born. But as for that other stuff… yeah, he was sleeping inside of one of her dresser drawers until a week after he was born and we could get across town to look at cribs. Some new parents are like that though. You have the ones who will run out and buy everything they think a baby needs from the time they find out there’s going to be one. However, there are also those that wait until the baby is just about here and begin scrambling when they realize the baby is actually going to be their reality from now on. So you see… it doesn’t make you a bad parent; just a human being.”


George nodded. “Besides contacting Mel, and of course Ted, I also think we should reach out to Jennifer regarding your imminent change of address. I take it your current apartment isn’t an appropriate environment to raise a young one?”


“No. It’s been perfect for single people of the LGBT community, but as an appropriate place for a baby, it’s not. Besides, if I’m honest, I need to be away from anywhere Michael can just bypass at will. No matter how many times he’s told I don’t want anything to do with him right now, it’s as if his ears do not work! I don’t want my new darling exposed to the constant screech and whine of Michael Novotny. Sorry, Vic.”


Vic shook his head. “No need to apologize on my behalf, Em. I completely understand. Although, maybe the only way to gain some peace at this point would be to let him have his say and be done with it?”


“As far as I’m concerned, he already has. The last thing I want to hear is him excuse his inexcusable behavior towards any of us, especially Brian and Baby. Besides, we all know that if I speak to him now, he’ll think that he’s automatically forgiven. The truth is that I don’t forgive him, and I certainly don’t trust him. I don’t want my child around a person I can’t trust. Lord only knows what he might do to my baby when my back is turned...”


“You don’t honestly think he’ll hurt the baby, do you?” George asked.


“Honestly, after this, I don’t know just how far Michael would be willing to go to have everything return to his definition of normal. His obsession with Brian alone has been bordering on dangerous for a long time, beginning with the birth of Gus, and Justin’s arrival into our lives but... Well, I can’t take that chance; not with myself, and definitely not with my kid.”


“We understand, Em,” Vic said, kindly. Sadly, he couldn’t disagree with the younger man’s assessment. “You have to do what you think is best, not only for your child but your own sanity as well.”


“And what about Debbie?”


“What about her?”


“I just… I just don’t want my decision to not have anything to do with her son to incur the wrath of Mama Bear,” Em stated matter-of-factly. It was well known that if one wanted to stay on Deb’s good side, one had better not offend Michael.


“Yes, well… Deb’s choices are going to have to be her own. And you’ll just have to let the chips fall where they may from that quarter. In the meantime, concentrate on living your life as YOU see fit; it’s all you can do,” George advised, having listened to the conversation closely. Perhaps it’s because of the divisiveness going on within his own family, where he and Frankie were dead-set against Virginia and Hammond, that he could understand Emmett’s apprehension. 


Vic interjected, “George is absolutely right. My sister has to make her own life choices and be able to handle the rewards or consequences of them. Believe it or not, she’s in the same situation as Michael, only to a lesser degree since she hasn’t fully committed an unforgivable offense and an outright breach of trust. So she’s walking a fine line while growing up. The problem for her is that she’s being forced to allow you all to do the same. I think having Horvath there is going to assist her in letting you all go, but it’s a process, just as everything else in this life is. Meanwhile, you’ve never been one to be a crowd-pleaser, Emmett, so don’t start being a chronic people-pleaser now.”


“Okay. Message received loud and clear you two.” 


George and Vic nodded, assured that Em would finally learn to think of himself first, regardless of whose feelings he might hurt along the way. It wasn’t that he was malicious; in fact, it was the opposite. Em would self-harm before actually defending himself to anyone in the group other than Brian, which was something Vic had been noticing for a long time. He never could figure out what made Brian so different than the rest of them. But it was clear that because of it, Brian and Emmett had developed a healthy and mutual respect for each other.  


As for his sister, Deb kept asking him what she should do about Michael. Unfortunately, there weren’t any right or wrong answers in reference to the situation from a mother’s point of view. But from the point of guidance of an adult offspring as opposed to that of the discipline Michael should have learned long since, there was only one way to go with the recalcitrant man. Michael had to be forced to learn that his actions indeed have severe consequences. And in this case, the experience of having to stand on his own to deal with them, instead of having his mother’s apron strings to hide behind, was going to give Michael an education that was long overdue.


Vic smiled at the other two gentlemen at the table. “So first things first, George will you do the honors of calling Jennifer?”


“It will be my pleasure. Emmett, would you allow me and my niece to pick a new place for you? All you would need to do is give me your specifications, and current price range. I’m sure that Jennifer will be able to find you what you need for you and our latest family member.”


“That’s really generous of you, George. And believe me when I say, I know I can trust Jennifer. I mean, hell, if Brian is trusting her with the next Chez Kinney, she must possess some awesome superpowers, especially patience!”


All three men laughed. Brian’s high-maintenance attitude was very well known. But with Justin’s opinion being added into the mix, the tantrums could reach a whole other level of legendary. “So now that we have the housing situation just about covered, Em are you ready to begin your sojourn into the greatest adventure of your life?” George asked, still smiling.


“It certainly isn’t a question of readiness. In fact, after watching Brian this past year, I don’t think parenthood is something one can really prepare for at all.”


“You’re correct in that statement, but a word of advice…”


“Yes?”


“Don’t doubt that you know what you’re doing. Remember the splendid renditions of epic fails you’ve seen throughout your own life, and do the complete opposite. Looking back on my life as a father, I can see the exact differences in styles I used when parenting Hammond and Francesca.”


“How so?” Vic asked.


“With Hammond, of course, Virginia was a major bitch where her boy was concerned. But I was guilty of trying to instill in him all that my father taught me. Yet, my dad wasn’t ever known to be the best example of a successful parent. Sure, he was a great provider, but he was lacking everything else that could have made me view him as a man really worth knowing. So Hammond’s upbringing was all business and discipline all the time, with a healthy dose of getting-away-with-murder, care of Virginia’s constant coddling.


“But with Frankie, I allowed her to just be and grow into the person she is today all her own. Sure, I cultivated whatever talent she displayed, but it wasn’t forcefully done. She actually wanted to learn. She can be willful, but she isn’t spoiled; determined but not an emotional dictator when she doesn’t get her way. Now, that doesn’t mean that she and I haven’t had our ups and downs, because we have. But she was also willing to take the lessons I was teaching her and apply them where appropriate. It’s that one fundamental difference between her and her brother that made me leave the company to Frankie and Justin. I know that my empire would continue to thrive under their collective leadership.”


“He’s right, Em. Besides the way your family treated you, Deb has set a clear example of what NOT to do. You don’t want to be in her position later on when your child is an adult. Set some ground rules, lead by example, and remember that your son or daughter is an individual, not your clone. And if all else fails, remember you have a large support network, especially on those days where life just seems to get a little too hectic. You’re not in this by yourself.”


Emmett smiled at the two men, feeling a lot less frazzled for the moment. He determined right then and there that, although his last name was Honeycutt, he wasn’t going to bring up his child as he had been reared at their hands. The only one who never counted it robbery to show him love and respect for the person he was growing to be was his Aunt Lula. He found himself just a little bummed that he would have to miss his weekly call with her this evening because he was going to be at the hospital at least until he could hold his child for the first time. He mentally shrugged thinking, she’ll forgive me, especially for this reason! He smiled wide again, already anticipating the squeals and rapid-fire questions she’ll shoot his way when she hears the news.


After cleaning up the table and putting the dishes in the dishwasher, all three men were on their way to Allegheny General Hospital to await the birth of the newest little Honeycutt. Whatever nervousness Emmett was feeling prior to George and Vic’s arrival at HEC had now turned into a solid glow of excitement within him. He was going to be a father! And he couldn’t wait!


SHELBOURNE STREET

SEWICKLEY, PA

 

Ron watched from his vantage point as Lindsay began to throw a tantrum at the front door not being answered right away. Remembering Nancy’s tendencies to engage these same unseemly displays on occasion, it wasn’t difficult to understand just how much Lindsay was her mother’s daughter. What was hard was keeping his silence from the loud guffaw threatening to escape him while Lindsay hopped around on one foot after kicking the bottom of the steel-enforced screen door in her fit of pique. Because the area where he lived was notorious for gale force winds at times, Ronald had the forethought to replace the former screen door for with one with more weight just before the prior winter had set in; a fact that Lindsay had clearly forgotten.


“How long do you intend to let her foolishness go on, Daddy?” Lynette asked him.


“Indefinitely?”


Lynette and her husband, Lawrence, snickered before she answered her father. “I’m inclined to agree with you, Daddy, but well… do you really want to have to explain to the neighbors- who I suspect are being thoroughly entertained by Lindsay’s antics- just why you are making her wait?”


“Are you not entertained?!” He responded in his best Leonidas accent from the movie 300, causing all three of them to laugh yet again. He knew she was right, but still, this entire episode was funny to him. Sobering he said, “Oh alright, my beautiful little spoilsport. Let’s go deal with Hurricane Harridan the Sequel so we can get back to having a nice visit. I suspect she’s actually here looking for her predecessor, but she can’t ignore the fact that we are here.”


“You know, perhaps I should answer the door?” Larry suggested. “Being denied the immediate answer she wants will only infuriate her more. Should we tell her where to find Nancy?”


Lynette thought a moment, before responding, “Ordinarily, I would say no since it would give us another day of peace and quiet from both of them, but…”


“You would rather see what they will do next?”


“Exactly. There are only two ways this can go. Lindsay seeking out Nancy is a given, but it’s what happens once they are reunited that’s the issue. Either Nancy will wise up and tell Lindsay to stop whatever foolhardy crap she’s trying, or she’ll begin to advise her.”


“And again, that advice would be open-ended… possibly quite literally,” Ron said and then sighed. “If nothing else, the fact that Gardner Vance is involved in this now, and we know exactly how Lindsay paid him back, it now brings the question of how far he’s willing to go in their alliance.”


“I would hope he has a knack for a bit of self-preservation?” Larry asked.


“He couldn’t have gotten as far as he did with Vanguard if he didn’t. However, in regards to his personal relationships…”


“Ah, you are thinking of what this could all mean in terms of his divorce from Constance, Daddy.” Lynette smiled, knowingly.


“Yes, I am. She still holds quite a bit of weight within the company, you know. So I think that after this impromptu meeting with Lindsay, we should call her to pass along any information we glean from Lindsay’s latest temper tantrum.”


Larry laughed. “Now I fully understand why you two have deliberately kept her waiting. No doubt she’ll be so irate that she’ll also be less inclined to watch her mouth. This conversation should be very interesting indeed.”


He moved off to let the other two continue their planning. If there was one thing he continued to learn about his wife, it was that although she could be incredibly diabolical, it was generally always for a good cause. In this case, it was in defense of two men who shouldn’t have been held up to public scrutiny and denied justice, because it was based solely on who they loved. Larry began to think about what he would do if he was in their place, regarding Lynette. If- God forbid- he woke up as a woman tomorrow, he still would have moved Heaven and earth in an effort to be with her; he suspected the same of Brian in regards to Justin, even if never stated.


And that was the core of Lindsay’s problem.


Smiling as he reached for the doorknob, he greeted Lindsay with a simple, “Hello.”


“Finally! You answered the door! Although I can’t quite understand why you are answering my parents’ door, Lawrence,” Lindsay answered haughtily in response. There was no mistaking the irritation with him in her voice.


Larry chuckled and shrugged. “Perhaps because I am welcomed here, while you are… not. But that’s beside the point, isn’t it? Ronald and MY wife are just finishing up an important call so they’ll be out here shortly.” 


He took great pleasure in the flaring of Lindsay’s nostrils as he placed emphasis on the possessive pronoun of who Lynette was to him. It was an open secret that Lindsay had tried to destroy Lynette and Larry’s marriage before it even began by trying to seduce him. Instead of being blinded by Lindsay’s looks as she thought he would be, he was always wary of the motives behind her false smiles and softly-worded innuendos. The more he got to know Lynette, the more he would hear about just how far she and Nancy were willing to go to see Lynette unhappy. And amazingly it wasn’t from Ron or Lynette themselves, but outside sources who had always categorized Nancy and Lindsay as evil twins born twenty plus years apart.


As a result, he’d learned to say little and observe much whenever the two of them were in the room together. Although to the outside world, it often looked like Nancy would be berating Lindsay, it turned out to be a matter of issuing orders and advice instead. Consequently, whenever he found himself alone with either of them, he’d taken to using the voice recording feature on his phone. It certainly came in handy the evening Lindsay decided to make her move on him at Nancy’s urging. 


The sad thing was that prior to hearing the recording firsthand, Lynette was all set to call off their wedding two days before the actual ceremony, despite the fact that Lindsay’s machinations were happening with a houseful of guests meandering beyond the study where the attempted seduction was taking place. He’d gone in there to retrieve the deed to his beach house, intending to gift it to Lynette in front of everyone as a wedding present after dinner was officially served. Unfortunately for him, he thought he’d entered the room unobserved, only to find Lindsay had slipped in just before the door shut. He didn’t know at the time if she intentionally didn’t lock the door, but it was later discovered that Nancy had told Lynette that Lawrence requested her presence in the study. The party could have ended in disaster, especially when Lynette entered the room to find Lindsay with her paws all over Lawrence, trying to force his hands around her waist as she kissed him. But thankfully she’d given Lawrence a chance to explain the situation before jumping to the wrong conclusion.


Perhaps it was the fact that Lindsay was very vocal about the wrongness in her world that Lynette should be able to marry him, which made Lynette give him the chance to explain exactly what she was seeing. Or maybe it was the fact that Nancy had also been very vocal in her opposition to Lynette marrying him instead of Nathan Mathers so that Nancy would have the judge for a son-in-law and perhaps even further up her twat than he had been previously. Maybe it was both of those things or nothing at all beyond the fact that he and Lynette unequivocally loved each other, but he’d always thank his lucky stars that she’d stayed with him despite their machinations. So yes, Larry would slay whatever dragons Lynette needed him to just for the chance to love her; to breathe with her for the rest of his life. And the first of those dragons was the bitch standing there with her arms folded, demanding to be let into the house.


“Well, aren’t you going to let me pass? I’m sure Mother is anxiously awaiting to visit with me.”


“I’m sure she would be if she were here. But since she isn’t, I can’t really say.” He shrugged again, knowing how much the nonchalant action irritated her, especially when she was in high dudgeon. He was hard-pressed not to laugh as he’d gotten a vision of Lindsay as a caricature with steam coming out of her ears.


“Well, where is she?” Lindsay demanded, once again making a move to enter the house. He again blocked her way.


“Not sure. And not sure I’d tell you if I did.”


“What do you mean that you’re not sure you’d tell me?! Perhaps you would like me to tell Lynette the real reason you married her!”


“And what pray tell was the reason, beyond the fact that I love her?” At Lindsay’s look of embarrassment and anger, he discerned just what she was about to say. “Sorry, Lindsay, but I don’t eat just any old fish. I like mine fresh caught, not halfway dead and stinking. Besides, I also like my dick- the length, girth, and most of all the home its found within my WIFE; I’m not into piranha twats.”


“Piranha twats?” Lindsay gasped, incensed that he would even think to say something so rude to her. But Larry didn’t bat an eyelash.


“Yes. It’s a vagina that has about as much attraction as a meat grinder; the kind that has a vice clamp intended for a hefty wallet attached; the kind that has the ability to suck the life out of all who enter in and not because of its elasticity, but because of its often overused as currency. Need I go on?”


The tittering sound behind him came before he actually saw her. “No need, Darling. I think you’ve made your point to Lindsay. She’d do well to take the lesson and learn from it, but… well, when has Lindsay ever taken a bit of solid advice not given from her mother. Speaking of which, what are you doing here, Lindsay? I would have thought you’d be off with your newly-acquired buddy somewhere repaying a very specific debt.”


“I want to come inside, Lynette, but your idiotic husband wouldn’t let me in.”


“And with the way you just spoke to and about him, I don’t blame him. But besides that, it’s Daddy who doesn’t want to soil his house with your presence. He’s already made sure that one of you would have no need to come here. Does he need to do the same with you?”


“What the hell are you talking about?!”


“Only that Daddy found out the true circumstances surrounding your birth and has opted to file for divorce from Nancy. In my opinion, he should have done so a long time ago, but you know how those ironclad prenups worked back in those days. Oh wait a minute, you don’t. But then again, perhaps you are learning since I heard that Melanie has officially ditched you, too. I always thought she was a smart woman, but I’m just sorry it took her this long to remember that fact.”


“Fuck you, Lynette! When I get back to Gardner’s…”


“Oh, so is that where you’re staying now? If I were you, I wouldn’t count on being there too much longer.”


“And that’s where you’re wrong, Lynette. Gardner and I are friends.”


“Oh really?”


“Yes. And we’ll be working together as well. So all of your innuendos about me leaving him is NOT going to hold weight.”


“If you say so. Anyway, what is it that you want?”


“I want to speak with Daddy about using his attorney.”


“Whatever for? You just implied that you and Gardner are joined at the pelvis. So why not use his? Besides, it’s not like you could afford to pay for Mr. Edmonds’ fee anyway.”


“I was hoping that Daddy would…”


“And that’s where you would be wrong, Lindsay,” Ronald intoned as he came upon the trio still on the doorstep of his home. “I’m not even going to entertain the mere thought of obtaining legal counsel for you, especially not Anthony’s. Besides, I happen to agree with Melanie finally leaving you, and both she and Brian wising up to your ways and keeping little Gus with them. What the hell were you thinking, leaving that poor child in the car?!”


“Daddy?!” Lindsay gritted out, as she began to notice several of the neighbors coming out of their homes to witness the arguments taking place. Lowering her voice to a wheedling tone, she said, “Perhaps we should move this inside to discuss this privately and rationally.”


“No, I don’t want either of the two women who so carelessly endangered a child within my home. Your mother is staying at the Hilton, although I don’t know how much longer she’ll be able to afford to do so.”


“Wh-what do you mean, Daddy?”


“I’ve inkoved the clauses within the prenup she signed, so she’s leaving this marriage with exactly what she came into it with.”


They all could see the wheels and dollar signs turning round and round in Lindsay’s head before she asked. “And how much was that exactly?”


“Why?” Lynette asked.


“I was thinking that perhaps she and I should move in together.”


“Oh really? But you just said that you’re over at Vance’s estate playing Lady of the Manor. Why would you want to give that up to live alongside Nancy again?”


Lindsay huffed before smiling tightly. “You’re correct, Lynette. I was mostly just thinking that if both mine and mother’s name was on the lease she would never be put into this completely unfair position again.” Turning teary eyes to the man she’d known all her life as her father, she pleaded on behalf of Nancy. “Daddy, won’t you reconsider? I mean after all, you have been married for more than thirty years. Surely, you still love each other?”


“No, Lindsay. Your mother and I married simply because it was what was expected of us at the time. There is certainly no love lost here; just time that could have been better spent with someone else.”


“Does that mean you have someone else, Daddy?” Lindsay asked. It wasn’t hard to miss the hope in her voice that the answer would come back in the affirmative. If there was a way for her to get more money out of Ronald during the divorce than surely Nancy would be generous in helping Lindsay out until she could make Brian yield to her plans for him, right?


Ronald chuckled at Lindsay’s eagerness. “No, it doesn’t. But your mother, on the other hand, has had several someones over the years, including your own true father.”


Lynette interjected then. “Oh, and a word of advice in that quarter: the current Judge Mathers is a halfway decent man for all the fact that he followed in his father’s penis-print and was screwing your mother. Consequently, that makes him your half-brother so keep your girly bits to yourself.”


Larry, who couldn’t help but laugh at the way matter-of-fact way Ronald and Lynette were systematically destroying all of Lindsay’s- and therefore Nancy’s- plans figured that it was time to bring the meeting to an end. “Well, you now know where your mother is, Lindsay. So I guess it’s time for you to go. I would say that it’s been nice to see you but… well, you’re you and therefore it’s never a pleasure unless it’s to see you go. So that said, good day, Lindsay.”


All three of them stepped back into the house, leaving the shocked woman standing on the doorstep the way Larry had found her. Only this time, instead of the haughty look Lindsay normally wore, her eyes were a bit glassy with defeat. Not one of them could feel sorry for the way this was going to play out against Lindsay, but they also knew that she was going to regroup fast and set another plan into motion. It was just Lindsay’s way to keep going until she got her way. However, with the way she’d endangered Gus, they all now knew that Lindsay was not above breaking the law to achieve her expected end.


Ronald broke each one of them out of their reveries, stating, “We need to call Constance right now. I have no doubt that Lindsay is going to try to talk Gardner into something else.”


“That’s true, but… wait! Doesn’t Vanguard always make their employees sign a contract?” Lynette asked, narrowing her eyes while seemingly staring at nothing. The two men nodded in her direction before she continued. “What do you want to bet that Gardner will conveniently forget to have Lindsay sign one?”


“Kinda makes you wonder just what she’ll be doing within the Vanguard without one, doesn’t it?” Larry smirked.


“I’ll call Constance, and then we are going out for dinner. My little grandchild has to eat, Lynette,” Ronald smiled rubbing the little pouch that had just really begun to appear. 


“Great! I want pizza!” Lynette declared before practically running to the office to get the call with Constance over with. 


The two men followed her, laughing all the way. They each couldn’t wait to see what other rules Lynette would break during her pregnancy. And despite what was going on with their family- both the one bearing the Peterson name and the one they were becoming a part of- all three of them wouldn’t have changed any of it for the world. They were finally on the right road to happiness at long last.

 

 

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