After thirteen years away, Cal’s returning home to bury his father and sell the family home. What he expects will be a straight-forward process is complicated by an unreasonable family, a dilapidated house in need of some serious TLC, a nosy neighbor, and -- oh, yeah -- his ex-boyfriend, Andy.
Just as things with Andy start to heat up, Cal’s world is thrown into further disarray when he uncovers long-hidden family secrets.
Suddenly forced to rethink everything he’s ever known, Cal has to decide between a second chance with Andy or the safety of his quiet life with no boyfriend, hundred-year-old house, or family complications. Is this a chance for them to start over -- or is it a disaster in the making?
Before anything else, he needed to bring the house into the twenty-first century. Hell, even the nineteen-nineties would be an improvement. Fortunately, his dad had upgraded from dial-up to DSL, but Cal didn’t relish the prospect of sitting in the “office” upstairs researching painters, plumbers, roofers, and whatever else he needed. Wireless would let him use his laptop downstairs, where it was several degrees cooler, and significantly less dusty.
He should probably add a general cleaning service to his list of calls to make.
He headed to the nearest big box store first thing the next morning. The large strip mall near the outskirts of town had most of the same stores Cal frequented at home, something he was surprised to find comforting. He knew exactly what he needed, and didn’t expect the entire trip to take more than an hour or so.
He also didn’t expect to run into the very reason he’d left town all those years ago.
Andy Paulson. Cal had known seeing Andy was a possibility, but had made no attempt to prepare himself. It was much less... affecting than he thought it would be. Andy was looking through the DVD sale bin when Cal walked past. He smiled and waved when he saw Cal staring at him.
Cal swallowed his pride and decided to act like an adult. He changed directions and walked over to Andy. “Hi. Uh, I got the flowers you sent to Dad’s wake. Thanks. They were really nice.”
Andy nodded. “I’m glad you got them. I was surprised to hear about your dad. He was a good guy.”
Cal glanced away. “Yeah. He wasn’t sick for very long, thankfully. He went so fast, I almost didn’t make it back in time,” Cal found himself admitting.
“It’s good he didn’t have to suffer much. How long are you in town for?” Andy looked as awkward as Cal felt.
“I’m not sure. I’ve got about a month with vacation and sick time, so hopefully no longer than that.”
Andy shifted his weight from leg to leg. “That’s good that your boss is understanding.”
“Yeah, he’s a good guy. And he can get apprentices from the tech college to fill in for me. Uh, I’m a diesel mechanic.”
“Yeah? That’s cool. You always liked working with your hands.” Andy’s face turned pink, and Cal refrained from commenting on the double entendre. There was a time when he wouldn’t have hesitated.
“What about you? Did you finish your degree?” Andy had left town midway through his associate’s degree program.
Andy nodded. “Got my master’s. I teach math at the community college.”
Cal grinned. “You always were the brainy one.”
Andy returned his smile. “Don’t sell yourself short.” He cleared his throat, looking awkward again. “I don’t mean to hold you up. You must have a million things to take care of. Are you staying at the house?”
“For now, until I figure out what needs to be done to make it sellable.” Cal took a step backwards, surprised at his reluctance to leave. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”
“Yeah. It was good to see you.” Andy smiled at him again, but looked relieved that their brief encounter was almost over.
Cal summoned up a smile. “You, too.”
Andy looked good, better than he had when they were skinny kids barely out of high school. They’d both filled out and put on muscle over the years, but they weren’t tipping into middle age yet. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, Andy didn’t look like a college professor.
With a sigh, Cal forced the thoughts of Andy out of his head, paid for his wireless router, and started for home. He could at least check one thing off his list.