A Case of You:Suncoast Society(7)

By: Tymber Dalton

He opted to take the wiser path to approach the topic. “Honey, you know Grace is right.”

“I know,” Emma mumbled. “But it’s not like I have to decide right this minute.”

“That’s true,” Brandon said. “Except if you wait too long to start applying for scholarships and grants and entrance, you might not be able to get what you really want.”

She hunkered even farther down in her chair. “I know.”

Grace leaned in and reached across the table to pat her hand. “Even if we don’t go to the same school, we can still FaceTime and stuff. You might be sick of me by the end of next school year. Hopefully not, but Pop is right, and you and I both know it.”

Those were three words he never grew tired of hearing: Pop is right.

“I didn’t get to go to college when I was your age,” Brandon said. “I went to work. I had to earn my degree part-time and in the evenings after I married your mom, while working full-time and then raising you. I would have preferred to go to college right after high school. Learn from my mistakes.”

Stuart joined them in the kitchen. “He’s still asleep. I was careful getting out of bed.” He leaned in for a kiss from Brandon. “Thanks for pulling rank on him.”

“Kinda what I do.” He let out a yawn and pulled out his phone to check the time. “Holy cow, I didn’t realize it was that late.”

“I was thinking we sleep in my room tonight so we don’t jostle him,” Stuart said. Usually, most nights, they all slept in the master bedroom. But Jeff and Stuart each had a room of their own, because they needed a place for their clothes and belongings. The fifth bedroom wasn’t a guest room, but more a multi-purpose room with a day bed that Grace used when she slept over.

Considering how many clothes, toiletries, and other items the girl stored in there, it might as well be Grace’s room.

“You read my mind.” Brandon draped an arm around Stuart’s shoulders. “You two don’t stay up too late, okay?”

“We won’t,” Emma said. “We’re almost done.”

The men headed to the bedroom, closing the door behind them. Brandon stretched out on the bed after undressing. “So how bad is he? Really?”

Stuart didn’t need sock puppets. He shrugged. “He was mumbling about he how should look for a job and go back to work. Both Nate and I shut him down and told him he needed to stop thinking about work and focus on healing. Jeff said something about maybe going to work part-time for Brooke.”

“Yeah, that’s not going to happen, at this rate. Besides, if the doctor wants to put him back on a PICC line, he won’t be able to work doing something like that.”

Stuart stripped and climbed into bed with him. “Do you want me to call in tomorrow and take him to the doctor?”

Brandon reached up and cupped his cheek. “No, I already told them I wouldn’t be there. Besides, he’ll steamroll you, buddy. You know he will. I have a feeling I’m going to have to get more than a little Dommy on his ass to take it easy.”

“That’s true. I think he was trying to prove he could go back to work.”

Jeff had been pushing the envelope lately. Brandon suspected the crash Jeff had wasn’t so much due to one particular day as it was him stressing himself repeatedly over the past couple of weeks, with housework, yard work, and more. Jeff had also off-handedly mentioned maybe going back to work about a month earlier, and Stuart and Brandon had immediately shut down that talk. After reminding Jeff that he wasn’t in any shape to return to work, it seemed like Jeff had done his level best to try to prove he was.

Which had now backfired on him.

“He’s not going back to work,” Brandon said. “I mean, short of physically restraining him, I can’t force him to not go back to work if he decides to disobey me, but I hope he won’t do that.”

“Me, too, Master.”

* * * *

At some point in the night, Jeff awoke and realized he was alone in bed. After lifting his head to check the time on the cable box, he saw it was nearly two in the morning.

Even moving that little bit hurt, both the good kind of pain from Nate’s cupping session, and the bad kind of pain from the Lyme disease.