Jeremy wasn’t absolutely sure what Annie had in mind when she instructed him to drop by when he first arrived back in Tahlequah, but he had a notion that it had something to do with the new house. ‘I’d may as well get it over with,’ he though as he pulled into the parking lot of the condo.
“Come on in, I’ve been expecting you,” Annie said when she answered the door. “I’m having a cup of tea. Would you like a cup, or maybe a Coke?”
“Tea would be great,” Jeremy said as he followed Annie into the kitchen. “How does she do this?” He asked himself when he saw two cups on the table and the kettle on the stove already heating. “You seem to be recovering very well.”
“Oh, I am. I’m a tough old Cherokee woman. I always enjoy a cup of tea on these cold winter days,” Annie said as she handed Jeremy his cup of tea and then sat across the table from him. “Now to get down to business, I know you think I’m pushing you into start building a house. Yes, I am. You will be graduating from college soon and will be coming back home. You would always be welcome back in your parent’s home, but I know from experience that you would always fell like a welcomed guest. It’s that way once you leave home. Now is the time to think about starting your new house.”
“I know you’re right about going back home to live, but I could always rent until I could build.”
“Why pay rent when you could have your own house?”
“I don’t want to use your money to build my house.”
“It’s your money, Jeremy. I thought I explained to you that I may not live like it, but I’m a wealthy woman. I want to see you enjoy living on the land that we both love while I’m still alive.”
“Alright, I’ll build the house.” Jeremy knew there was no need to argue with Annie once she made up her mind about something.
“That’s good because I’ve asked Keith McBride to stop by and visit with you about a log house. He is one of the best log home builders in this part of the country.”
The two chatted for a while when the conversation was interrupted by the doorbell. “That is Keith now,” Annie said as she went to answer the door.
After introductions and fresh cups of tea for each of them, they got down to business of looking at house plans. “Do you like that one?” Annie asked when she noticed Jeremy spending more time looking at a picture and plans of a house.
“It’s beautiful, but much more house than I would ever need,” Jeremy said.
“Nonsense,” Annie said. “If it is a house you like, then it isn’t too much house.”
“I’ve looked at the property, and that house would take full advantage of the view,” Keith said.
“Four bedrooms would too much for just one person,” Jeremy argued.
“You won’t always be single,” Annie said with a wink. “Build the house that you like regardless of the size, or the cost.”
“That particular house would be in the neighborhood of $400, 000,” Keith said. “The property already has water, gas, and electricity. That would save you a lot of money. I’m just finishing up on that same house plan up on Grand Lake if you would care to go see it tomorrow.”
“I guess it wouldn’t hurt to look,” Jeremy agreed as he was beginning to mentally picture the house sitting on the bluff with the river view. “Would you like to go too, Annie?”
“You know me better than that,” Annie laughed. “I’d kick your butt if you didn’t invite me.”
“I’ll pick you up around l0:00 tomorrow morning,” Keith said.
“Maybe I should just drive my SUV and meet you up there,” Jeremy said. “I have a feeling that the whole family will want to go.”
“How many would that be?” Keith asked.
“Let me see,” Jeremy began to mentally count. “There would be seven of us.”
“I have a nine passenger van,” Keith laughed. “I use it to haul my crew around.”
The house was everything that Jeremy expected and more. “It has smart windows,” Keith explained as he flipped a switch and the windows changed from transparent to opaque.
“What will they think of next?” Dorothy asked while not expecting an answer.
“Well Jeremy, what do you think of this house?” Annie asked.
“I love it,” Jeremy said.
“If it is what you like go ahead and have a contract drawn up,” Annie said.
“I can have a contract by next week and start in about a month when this house is finished,” Keith said.
Jeremy was becoming excited about the house, and wished for the day when he would be graduating from college and moving back home. He had mixed feelings about accepting the money from Annie. He knew he would inherit it upon her death, but accepting it while she was still alive was to him the same as accepting the fact that she would someday be gone.
Final plans for the new house were approved by Jeremy with the addition of a basement game room that exited off to a pool. Molly, the youngest member of the family had convinced Jeremy that it was okay to accept his inheritance from Annie while she was still alive. “Can you think of anything Annie has ever been wrong about?” She had asked. “She gave you a reason why you should build the house. Now go for it and both of you will be happy.”
The house was completed six months before Jeremy’s graduation. “This will give Molly and me time to furnish and decorate it for you,” Nancy said.
“All I ask is that you two don’t girly it up,” Jeremy said.
“Don’t worry, it will be so macho that you’ll look straight,” Molly teased.
Jeremy wasn’t sure how Nancy and Molly did it, but the furnishings for the house were perfect. There was a just the right rustic look without being gaudy. After graduation and moving from the apartment, the house seemed to swallow him. He had been used to living in the small one bedroom apartment.
Jeremy interviewed for and was offered a teaching position at Sequoyah Elementary school. He then occupied himself by doing some lawn work. While Jeremy was mowing the lawn one day a car stopped and a nice looking driver exited and said, “Hi I’m Todd, my partner and I are your neighbors across the road.”
“I’m Jeremy. It is good to meet you.”
“Bryan and I have been admiring your house as it was being constructed.”
“Would you like to come inside for a drink and look around?”
“Wow, this is magnificent,” Todd said when they entered the house. “Bryan is going to be jealous that he missed out on seeing this.”
“Why don’t you come for dinner and he can see it.”
“We would love to.”
“Would tomorrow evening work for you?”
“I’ll check with Bryan, but for now I’ll say yes.”
“Grandma Dorothy, I have a big favor to ask of you,” Jeremy said when he placed the call after Todd left.
“Honey you know I’ll do anything for you as long as it is legal.”
“I’m not sure your sweet potato pie is legal, but I’ve invited my neighbors over for dinner tomorrow and I’d love to serve them one of your pies.”
“I’ll have it ready by noon. Do you want me to bring it out to you?”
“That won’t be necessary. I need to go into town grocery shopping anyway.”
Bryan, who was every bit as handsome as Todd, handed Jeremy a bottle of zinfandel wine at their greeting. “If this doesn’t go with what you’re serving you can enjoy it later,” he said.
“It’s perfect, we’re having steaks,” Jeremy said.
Over dinner Jeremy learned that Todd was a teacher at the high school and that Bryan was a certified auto technician at the Ford dealer. The two had been partners for just over two years. Jeremy liked both and hoped they could become friends. He admitted to them that he was also gay and told them about his loss of Blake.
“We need to find you a good man,” Todd said.
“My family has been encouraging me to date again, but I haven’t found anyone I’ve been interested in,” Jeremy said.
“You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a good man,” Bryan said. “You’re hot as all get out, and you can cook too. This sweet potato pie is to die for.”
“I can’t take credit for the pie,” Jeremy admitted. “Grandma Dorothy made it for me. Actually she isn’t my grandma. She was Blake’s foster mother.” Jeremy went on to explain how his family had expanded from his immediate family to Annie, Dorothy, Molly and Scott. “We’ll have a cookout soon and you can meet them.”
Todd and Bryan soon became part of the extended family. Annie and Dorothy saw them as two additional grandsons. Scott and Molly saw them as two older brothers.
Jeremy stepped out of the house one late July day to a blast of Oklahoma heat. “I’m glad I have the pool now,” he said to himself as he walked up the long driveway to the mailbox. He was checking the mail when a 1990s model Ford Mustang pulled off the highway near his drive with a spewing out steam from under the hood. A young man about Jeremy’s age got out and opened the hood allowing even more steam to spew out.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Jeremy asked as he walked over to the car.
“It’s the water pump,” the young man answered.
‘Your car may be hot, but not nearly as hot as you are,’ Jeremy thought when he saw how handsome the young man was. “Do you want to use my phone to call somebody?
“I don’t have anybody to call,” he said. “I’ve been to Stillwell to interview for a teaching position. I graduated from Northeastern State in May and I’m staying with friends in Tulsa until I can find a job and a place to live. My friends are out of town for a few days.”
“We’ll push your car down my driveway and get it off the highway. It’s downhill and should be easy to push. Then you can come inside where it is cool. By the way, I’m Jeremy Morgan.”
“I’m David Wells. I don’t want to put you to any trouble.”
“It’s no trouble. It’s too hot for you to be on foot. I have a mechanic friend across the road and we’ll call him to see if he can fix your car.”
“I hope it doesn’t cost too much. I pretty short on cash.”
“Bryan will fix it at the lowest cost possible.”
“This is really a nice place you have here,” David said when they entered the coolness of the house.
“Thank you; what could I get you to drink?
“Water would be perfect.”
“Make yourself comfortable and I’ll get your water.”
“Now tell me what model Mustang you have and I’ll give Bryan a call.”
After placing the call Jeremy said, “Bryan will call me right back with the estimate.”
“I’m sure it will be more than I can afford. Do you mind if I use your bathroom?”
“There’s one just off the kitchen. That’s probably Bryan on the phone now.”
“Jeremy, it’s not going to be cheap to replace that water pump,” Bryan said.
“$189 plus labor, and there isn’t a single one in town. I can have one delivered from Tulsa tomorrow.”
“He is short on money. Go ahead and order it and I’ll pay for it myself.”
“Oh is he that good looking?” Bryan teased.
“He’s very good looking, but he also seems like a nice guy that could use some help.”
“In that case the labor is free, but I’ll have to do the repairs there after I get home from work tomorrow. Todd and I will be over for dinner and to check out the new guy. I’ll take the old water pump off then.”
“How much will it be?” David asked when he returned from the bathroom.
“It’s taken care of.”
“I can’t let you do that.”
“Too late, Bryan has already ordered the water pump. He had to order one from Tulsa, and it won’t be here until tomorrow. He and his partner will be here for dinner and he will take your old one off then. As you can see I have plenty of room and you can stay here until the repair is made.”
“Partner, is he gay?”
“Yes and so am I. Would that be a problem?”
“No, I’m gay too. But, I still can’t let you pay for my water pump.”
“What would be the alternative?
“I’ll hitchhike back to Tulsa and try to get the money to get the car fix.”
“Wouldn’t it make more sense to get your car running, and then if you insist you can come back and pay me later?
“Yes, but you don’t know me.”
“You’re right, but your protesting tells me that you’ll do what you say.”
Todd and Bryan arrived with Bryan’s tool box and following introduction Bryan went right to work removing the water pump. “He is hot,” Bryan said to Jeremy when to David to release the hood.
Jeremy smiled an agreement as David returned.
After dinner Jeremy asked, “Anybody care to go for a swim?”
“Hey you’re the one with the pool,” Todd laughed. “Why do you think we became your friends?”
“David, there are extra swimsuits in the game room downstairs,” Jeremy said.
They couldn’t believe their eyes when David came to the pool in the swimsuit. He had a well defined body without being the bodybuilder type. David began to relax and it was soon evident that he had a good sense of humor. He even opened up about his personal life and told how his parents had cut all ties with him when they discovered that he was gay.
“I think you’ll be comfortable in here,” Jeremy said when he showed David one of the bedrooms for him to use. “Each bedroom has its own bathroom. My mom and sister stocked each bathroom with toiletries. I’ll get you some of my clothes to wear tomorrow. I’m a little taller than you, but shorts wouldn’t matter that much.”
“Thank you. You and your friends have been very kind.”
“I’m sure you would do the same for me. Good night, and make yourself at home. If you feel like a midnight snack, feel free to raid the refrigerator.”
“I couldn’t think about food after that big dinner. Good night.”
Jeremy was in the process of mixing pancake batter when David came into the kitchen. He said, “Good morning, help yourself to a cup of coffee. There’s also juice in the refrigerator.”
“Good morning, just coffee for now, thank you.”
Just as Jeremy was ready to start cooking the pancakes the doorbell rang. He returned with Scott in tow. “David, this is my brother Scott. He has an uncanny ability to know when breakfast is ready.”
“Hi David,” Scott said as he helped himself to a cup of coffee. “Is that your hot Mustang out front?”
“High Scott,” David said. “That’s my Mustang, but if you think it is hot now you should have seen it yesterday.” David went on to explain how the water pump had gone out and Jeremy had rescued him.
Scott and David chatted like old friends. Scott explained how he had and Molly had become Jeremy’s adopted brother and sister.
“Jeremy, I almost forgot to tell you that Cody and Allison got married,” Scott said. “Cody is my fucked up biological brother,” Scott explained to David. “He was Jeremy’s first boyfriend.”
“He was Jeremy’s boyfriend and he is getting married?” David questioned.
“Yeah, I told you he was fucked up,” Scott said. “He went to work as a staff pharmacist at Walgreens.”
“Walgreens here in Tahlequah?” Jeremy asked.
“No in Tulsa,” Scott said.
“How did you find this out?” Jeremy asked.
“Allison’s friend, Lindsay Murphy, told Molly,” Scott said. “I’d better go. I have football practice. It was nice to have met you, David.”
“It was nice to meet you,” David said.
“Scott will be a freshman at NSU this fall, and is on a football scholarship,” Jeremy explained.
“Everyone here seems to be very nice. You don’t know what it means to me that you and your friends helped me out.”
“I’m glad to have been able to help. What are your plans after your car is running again?”
“I’ll go back to Tulsa and try to find a job to get me by until school starts. I think the position is mine in Stillwell, and I also have an offer in Fort Gibson. I just have to earn enough money to get a place to live when school begins.”
“Look, as you can see, I have plenty of room here. You’re welcome to the room where you slept last night.”
“You don’t really know me. Why would you do that for me?”
“You’re a nice guy that could use a helping hand.”
“I’ll try to find a job and pay you rent.”
“School will be starting soon, and it is unlikely that you’ll find anything either here or in Tulsa before then. As you can see I have a lot of work to do around here. You could help me cleanup that old barn that has fallen down.”
“I’ll agree mainly because I have few options. When Bryan gets my car running I’ll drive to Tulsa to get my things.”
“There’s no need to wait for that. I can drive you there now.”
They arrived at the small one bedroom apartment that David had shared with his high school friend, Avery and Avery’s wife Abby. David had been grateful to have the couch to sleep on. He had earned a little money by working temporary jobs. He gave most of this money to his friends for allowing him to sleep on the couch. Since Avery and Abby both worked, David gladly did most of the cooking and housework.
After loading his possessions in the SUV, David said, “I’ll leave them a note letting them know that I’ve found a place to stay in Tahlequah, and that I’ll call them when they get back.”
David placed the note on the TV. Before they left Jeremy slipped $100 under the note without David’s knowledge. After stopping for a sandwich they drove back to Tahlequah. After helping David put his things away in his room, Jeremy received a phone call from Nancy. “Bring your new friend over for dinner tonight,” she said.
“We can’t,” Jeremy said. “Bryan is installing the water pump on David’s car when he gets home.”
“Bring Todd and Bryan with you when he finishes,” Nancy said. “You know we always have plenty of food. I’ll call Todd now and invite them.”
“It looks like we’re going to my parents’ for dinner after Bryan finishes your water pump,” Jeremy said after he hung up. “You’ll get to meet the rest of my family.”
“Are you by any chance related to Dr. Morgan a professor at NSU?”
“Both of my parents are professors at NSU.”
“I had a class under your dad. I loved his class because he made everything interesting.”
“They sent the wrong water pump,” Bryan said when he and Todd arrived. “I sent it back and the right one will be here tomorrow.”
“Then I guess we go on over to see what mom has cooked up.”
“Well David, it’s good to see you again,” Allen said when he saw David. “I assume you’ve graduated.”
“I have,” David said. “And, it’s good to see you again too.”
“I like your new boyfriend,” Annie said when she got Jeremy alone.
“He’s only somebody that needed my help,” Jeremy said.
“He may not be your boyfriend now, but he will be,” Annie said. “He has Cherokee blood too.”
“No, I don’t believe David has any,” Jeremy said.
“You don’t believe I have what?” David asked as he walked by.
“Annie said that you had Cherokee blood,” Jeremy said. “I told her that I didn’t think you did.”
“Actually I’m one eighth Cherokee,” David said. “How did you know?”
“Annie has an uncanny ability to just know things,” Jeremy said.
“Some think I’m like a witch, but I think of it as a gift,” Annie said. “Jeremy has the gift if he will learn to realize his intuition is telling him things.”
“Dinner is ready,” Nancy called out interrupting their conversation.
Dinner conversation was lively and ended with coffee and generous servings of Dorothy’s sweet potato pie. David was eagerly accepted as a member of the Morgan extended family.
The remainder of the summer was occupied by several family gatherings. All too soon it was time for David and Jeremy to begin their teaching jobs. As with most first time teachers, they were nervous about being totally responsible for their own classroom. Both met the challenge and discovered that they enjoyed their work.
One Saturday morning after breakfast David said, “I guess I should start looking for my own place.”
“Is something wrong?” Jeremy asked. “I thought you were happy here.”
“I’m very happy here. That’s just part of the problem. I love being with you and the family.”
“Why is that a problem?”
“I don’t know how to say this, except to just say it. I’ve developed feelings for you that I’m not sure I should.”
Jeremy moved next to David, took him in his arms, and kissed him. I’ve wanted to do that for weeks. And, Annie may have been right.”
“Annie may have been right about what?” David asked between kisses.
“Annie predicted that you would be my boyfriend. Was her prediction correct?”
“Nothing would make me happier.”
Jeremy woke the next morning with David sleeping next to him. He admired the body that he had explored the previous night. “How lucky I am,” he said to himself.
David woke with a smile and despite their morning breath gave Jeremy a passionate kiss.
Jeremy and David were still in a “newly wed” bliss as the Christmas break from school began. “I’m going into town and will be right back,” David said as he grabbed his keys.
“Do you want me to go with you?”
“Hell no, I’m going Christmas shopping.”
Jeremy was busy doing laundry when the doorbell rang. “Cody,” he said when he opened the door.
“I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
“No not at all, come on in. Could I offer you anything to drink?”
“I’m fine, thank you. This is a beautiful house you have here.”
“Thank you. What brings you to Tahlequah?”
“I’m putting the house up for sale. Allison is pregnant and we need to buy a house.”
“Congratulations, I’ll bet you’re happy.”
“Jeremy, I haven’t been happy since I stopped seeing you.”
“Do you think I could see you again?”
“Cody, I can always be your friend, but if you’re asking what I think the answer is no.”
“I’m sorry; I made a mistake even asking.”
“Cody, your mistake is what you’ve done to yourself and your brother and sister. You cut them out of your life trying to please Mitch. Now look what it got you. You married Allison because you can’t admit that you’re gay.”
“You can deny all you want, but you just asked me to have sex with you. You have a child on the way. Try to be the kind of father yours wasn’t. I’m going to tell you something not to hurt you, but I’m telling you so that you can understand what you’re doing to yourself. Mitch was gay.”
“Dad wasn’t gay. He hated gays.”
“Trust me he was gay. Annie has a love letter that your grandmother gave her for safe keeping. That love letter was to Mitch from his male lover.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Believe me or not, but it’s true. Ask Annie to let you see the letter.”
“What have I done? What am I to do?”
“First you need to make amends with your brother and sister. You also need to see a counselor. I did and it helped me. Promise that you’ll do that.”
“I hear David returning now.”
“Who is David?”
“David is my partner.”
“Hi Hon,” David said as he kissed Jeremy.
“David, I’d like for you to meet Cody,” Jeremy said.
“Pleased to meet you, Cody,” David said.
“You too,” Cody said. “I should be going. I have an appointment with a realtor.”
“What did he want?” David asked after they saw Cody out, and said goodbye.
“He wanted me to have sex with him?”
“Don’t worry, Babe. You’re the only man I’ll be having sex with. But, you know I feel sorry for him. He’s a good example what a fucked up religious bigotry can do.”
“Believe me, I can understand that.”
“The difference is that you were strong enough to rise above them. Cody wasn’t.”
“Cody was your first lover and is a brother to Molly and Scott. We will do what we can to help him.”
“You’re a good man. That’s why I love you. You have made me so very happy.”