Part of the Inches of Trust universe
February seems like the perfect time for architect Brian Townsend to give notice at the big firm he’s been working for and get his own business off the ground. But February of 2020 is dropping hints that the future is neither bright nor rosy in New York City, or the rest the world.
As the spring develops into a disaster of unimaginable proportions, Brian’s husband Tristan Blake is on the front lines. As an NYPD detective, his job suddenly involves risks it never had before. Can he keep himself safe, and Brian too? What happens when the universe drops a very small gift into their lives in the middle of all the chaos?
At least hot water and a sponge took care of the majority of the blue goo of the detergent. The dent in the washer appeared to be cosmetic damage. God, the last thing they needed was a non-functional washing machine because he’d lost his temper. In the pocket of his sweats, his phone buzzed. When he pulled it out, the display said “Althea Blake.” He almost let it go to voicemail, but since she’d already left four cryptic messages this week, he decided he should answer it.
“Tristan! You’ve been impossible to get hold of.”
“People are dying in droves. The NYPD is overwhelmed. So frankly, I’ve been busy.”
His mother made a non-committal noise before launching into “Jason came to brunch on Saturday. It’s so irritating that we can’t go to the place I like so much on Fifth Avenue. This lockdown thing is just awful.”
“The goal is to control the spread of the virus and maybe have less people die.”
“Yes, well, it’s very annoying. Luciana made brunch for us here. She said it was very difficult to find smoked salmon.”
Luciana had been the cook for his parents for nearly five years. He liked her and sometimes wondered how she managed to put up with his parents. He suspected the reason was money. His father never shirked on paying top dollar for good help. “Are your employees taking precautions?”
“They are reputable and clean.”
“But are they wearing masks and doing the social distancing thing?”
“We pay them to do their jobs well.”
Tristan wanted to throw his phone. It was highly likely that his mother paid no attention whatsoever to recommendations to avoid catching Covid. “Was there a reason you called?”
“I want you to come to brunch this coming Saturday.”
“With Brian,” Tristan said, even though he had no intention of going.
“No, I meant just you. Jason said he would come. Although he’s been feeling a little under the weather for a few days. He said he was sure he’d be fine in another day or two.”
“I have to work. And I wouldn’t come without my husband.”
“You know an annulment is really pretty simple. You did have him sign a pre-nup didn’t you?”
Tristan wanted to scream obscenities. He choked down his anger and switched topics. “You said Jason was feeling ill, has he been tested? Does he have Covid symptoms?”
“How should I know? He doesn’t live here anymore. He has that new apartment off of 75th. Personally, I think it’s kind of small, but he says he likes the location. You’re not coming.”
“I. Have. To. Work.” He ground out in measured syllables.
“We haven’t seen you at all since the late fall.”
“After you tried to convince me to cancel my wedding? No, you haven’t. Someday maybe you’ll figure that one out. And two, I’m now happily married.” He thumbed off the phone call, set the phone on top of dryer and bent over to bang his head on the washer lid.
“I heard part of that,” Brian said.
Tristan turned to see Brian at the foot of stairs. “It was my mother.”
“I kind of guessed it had to be her or your father.”
“She wanted me to come to brunch on Saturday.”
Tristan made a face, clenching his teeth. “Yes. Hence one small part of the ongoing infuriating problem. I think she has some twisted belief that if she ignores the fact you and I are married that I’ll ... I don’t know, lose interest and turn straight?”