Ethan worked very hard to restore his relationship with Scotty to the level it had been before spring break and was sure it was within reach. Scotty agreed. Scotty was very frank in stating that he was struggling with Ethan's devotion to his unborn child, but he was struggling. "I'm going to make this work, Ethan," he said often. Their love-making certainly left nothing to be desired and his courtship of Ethan was, Ethan told him, unnecessary, but damn enjoyable. "I love it too," Scotty replied.
The second Sunday in May, Jamie got a call from Kathryn right after noon asking him to come over and pick her up. "We need to talk," she said. When he pulled up to Kathryn's house, she ran out to meet him, gave him a quick kiss and said, "Let's go to our place." 'Our place' was the site for Jamie had selected for his house.
When they had reached their place, Jamie spread a blanket and they sat down. "Jamie, Eugenia was rushed to the hospital this morning. She woke up in a pool of blood. I suspected she had miscarried, but I was wrong. She has a blood condition and was warned never to take birth control pills. Well, that bitch had substituted something for my birth control pills and was taking them. Fortunately, she didn't do permanent damage to herself and they got the bleeding stopped. Unfortunately, I have been taking aspirin or some such thinking I was on birth control. We have always used a condom, but ..."
"Prom night one broke."
"Yeah, and I missed the beginning of my period. I was usually pretty regular, but have missed my period from time to time, so I thought nothing of it. When I missed my second period, I got a home pregnancy test it was positive. I am pregnant. I went to an ob/gyn and she confirmed I was pregnant."
"So we become mommy and daddy before we planned. We made a baby in love and it will be loved. Worse things could happen. We wanted kids, just not now. Well, we're having one now. To tell the truth, Kathryn, my beloved, I'm excited."
"You're not angry?"
"Why would I be angry? I mean I'm pissed at the bitch sister of yours because she dared treat us the way she has, but I'm not angry that we're having a baby. I think it does mean we get busy building our house."
The two lovers talked about how a child would change their plans and how he or she would never, ever, think he or she was unwanted. They talked about the house and Jamie said he'd spend more of the reward money than he planned to build the house, "I planned to use income from the plantation, but I have reward money left. We will have our house and our child."
The two decided to wait to tell Ethan and Kathryn's parents. Like Kathy, Kathryn was blessed with the absence of morning sickness and in fact, no-one would have suspected she was pregnant when she entered the second trimester. When she went for her next checkup, her ob/gyn ordered her first ultrasound. The technician told her she would have to start talking about her children; she was pregnant with twins.
She hadn't planned on telling her parents just yet, but Eugenia had a friend who worked in the school office who passed on the information that Kathryn left school for a doctor's appointment. "You goody-goody sister's appointment was at with the o-b-g-y-n clinic. Bet she's p-g." the office aide told Eugenia and she was only too happy to announce it at the dinner table.
"And just why were you at the clinic, Kathryn?
"For an ultrasound," Kathryn answered, shaking with anger at Eugenia. "I'm pregnant."
Her mother started berating her. "If your Jamie can't keep it in his pants he could at least cover it up. How dare you have sex without a condom! And why weren't you on birth control?" Her dad just glared at her.
"I'll have you know Jamie and I have never had sex without a condom. Looking very pointedly at her mother, she said, "As you very well know, they sometimes break." Kathryn had overheard her mother telling an aunt she hadn't planned on having a second child until Kathryn was two or three, but the condom broke. "I thought I was on birth control, but that bitch sister of mine was taking my pills and substituting aspirin for them. She ended up in the hospital because she was taking my pills. So if you want to pitch a fit at someone because I'm pregnant pitch it at her. You're just lucky she stole my pills because otherwise you'd be trying to figure out which of the twenty or thirty boys she's fucked in the past six months got her pregnant. I know the father of my children and I love him and he loves me and we will love our children."
"'Our children?' What do you mean?"
"I mean our children. We're having twins."
"You're doing no such thing! You'll get rid of them!" Mrs. Heffner screamed.
"Now, Mother, calm down," Mr. Heffner said. "Of course she'll get rid of them. She's too young to have a baby, much less two. And what of Jamie? He's a nice enough boy, but support a family? He's a sharecropper and always will be. Of course you'll have an abortion."
"I most certainly will not! Jamie and I are getting married and we'll move into our house on his plantation."
"Dear, we'll discuss this later when you have calmed down," Kathryn's mother said.
"There is nothing to discuss," Kathryn replied and went to her room.
It was late Sunday night when Ethan got home from a conference he had attended over the weekend. Jamie was waiting up for him.
"Ethan, you too tired to talk? If you are it can wait," Jamie said as soon as he had taken Ethan's bag to his room and got them a coke.
"No, I'm fine. Let's go to my office."
As soon as they were settled in the office, Jamie asked, "Ethan, how much thought have you given to being an uncle?"
"Actually, very little. It's a thought I generally try to avoid. Should I be thinking about it?"
"I guess. See Kathryn is kinda pregnant."
"Jamie," Ethan actually grinned, "I don't think pregnant comes in kinda. I think it's strictly you is or you ain't. Are you telling me you are about to become a father?"
"Yeah, Big Bro. Times two. Kathryn is pregnant with twins."
"I don't suppose this was planned."
"Hardly, but we're excited about it." Jamie then told his brother the whole story.
"Jamie, I'm sure you, as I, would like your becoming a father to be a few years from now, but that's not the way it worked out. Know that I love Kathryn and, of course, I have always loved you. Anyway, I can support the two of you, I will. We'll have to make some changes in plans for Arkadelphia and Pleasant Grove---and Philos---but I'm sure Kathryn and your children will be welcomed with open arms. I'll let you in on a secret. You're becoming an uncle too."
"You got Scotty pregnant?"
"Not for lack of trying, but no, either Kathy's or Ash's child is mine. They wanted to have children and asked me and Scotty to donate sperm which we did. They know whose sperm each was impregnated with, but we don't. I'm sure it will be obvious when they are born, but the mothers are not telling."
"Are you excited about becoming a dad?"
"Yeah, I am. I made sure I can be a dad. There's all sorts of legal documents assuring me that I can be a part of my son's---both are having boys---life."
"It's kinda sad. He was willing to donate sperm, but was not the least bit interested in being a dad."
The next morning at breakfast, Jamie told Scotty and Sally Ann about Kathryn being pregnant. "Not the way we planned it, but the way it is." The reaction of the two was interesting.
Sally Ann said, "Someone ought to strangle Eugenia. She is a perfect bitch and a slut and Kathryn is the one who ends up pregnant. Well, the good news is her kids have good parents. Had it been Eugenia it would have taken a DNA test to determine which dumb jock did it. I'm excited."
Scotty said practically nothing, but Ethan did hear him mutter something about the 'whole damn house acting like old folks.'
Scotty and Ethan completed their spring semester courses and were debating whether or not to take courses during summer school. Recalling how busy the past summer had been they had just about decided to wait until the fall semester before enrolling in further courses. Before they could make a final decision any plans they might have had got knocked into a cocked hat.
The week after the semester ended, Sally Ann and Kathryn decided to have a dinner party to celebrate the end of the school year. They had just served dessert and coffee when the phone rang. Sally Ann answered it and called to Scotty telling him it was for him. Half an hour later, Scotty came into the living room with a strange look on his face.
"That was my father, my biological father, on the phone. I hadn't seen or talked to him since I was eight, over ten years ago. He has just been diagnosed with cancer and while the prognosis is very good, he said he had been thinking about dying without really knowing his son. Apparently, his wife left him for another man and took their son with her. He doesn't know where they are. He wants me to fly out for a long visit so we can get to know each other and maybe establish a father–son relationship. I told him I would think about it."
Later, Scotty asked Ethan, "Ethan, what should I do? I hate to leave you when we've just got our relationship back on a good basis. Add to that the fact that we're approaching the busy time here on the plantation and are probably pretty much losing Jamie and Andy. At the same time, I think about the relationship you had with your father and how much I have envied that. I see how Jeff and Davis have overcome a painful separation and are closer than they had been before and how great it would be to have something like that with my father. I really don't know what to do."
"I think you do, Scotty. Look, Arkadelphia will be here long after you and I are gone whether you are here this summer or not. I certainly don't relish being separated, but I'll still be here when you have accomplished what you can accomplish with your father. As much as I hate to admit it, maybe being separated for a while might do our relationship good. Again, I think you know what you want to do, need to do, must do. But talk with Randy and Davis before you make a hard and fast decision."
There was no doubt in Ethan's mind; Scotty was going to California. A week later Ethan and Scotty drove to Atlanta, spent the night in a fine hotel and Ethan saw his lover off on a 9:00 flight to Long Beach where his father would meet him.
It was almost eleven when Scotty called. "Ethan, we got to Dad's place an hour ago and had supper out on the patio overlooking the ocean. I think he was in the dot-com thing, made a shit pot full of money, got out when it was at the top and retired. He has a wonderful beachfront house with piles of space. I have my own suite with bedroom, bath and sitting room. The bedroom opens onto a deck with a pool and spa and overlooks the ocean. Sheer luxury. There is a guest house which is occupied by a man dad worked with and his son.
"Jake, the son, is less than a year older than I am and, man, is he hot! He and his dad had dinner with us and I learned he is much into surfing, beach volleyball, skiing and all sorts of things and says he'll teach me. He's taking me to a club tomorrow night after he takes me to get a fake ID.
"I checked with Audubon State and I can do online courses from here or if I'm here long enough there's a very good small college down the road. Dad has a car for me although he offered to have the Triumph shipped out here."
"So how long are you planning on staying?" Ethan asked.
"Dad's first series of treatments will take three months. By the time they are complete, we should have a very good idea of what the future holds."
"So you'll be there for three months."
"Right, at least three months. Maybe you can come out later for a long weekend or something."
"Maybe. By the way, Ash and Kathy had a second ultrasound. They didn't want to know the babies' gender, but both babies had a hardon. You can see it clear as day."
"Ethan, I know you are excited about the babies, but I wasn't interested in them in the beginning and I'm even less interested in them now. Right now I'm interested in Dad and his treatment and having fun." Scotty giggled, "Not necessarily in that order."
A week later when Ethan called him Scotty said, "It looks like Dad's treatment is going to take longer than planned. Sorry, but I think I'll be here awhile." The two talked awhile longer and when he hung up, Ethan had a vague sense of loss.
Kathryn's parents, especially her father, continued to rag her about Jamie and his delusions of grandeur. "The very idea his claiming to be half owner of a plantation," her father said. Her mother and sister were constantly haranguing her about getting rid of the babies, her sister in the grossest of terms. With the stress of school, the pregnancy and the harassment, Kathryn was at her wit's end, but she was determined to shield Jamie from it all. He had enough to worry about. He and Andy, along with all the Arkadelphia family, were again working flat out and he and Andy spent any free minute they might have working at Philos. He was kept in the dark until Eugenia cornered him one afternoon demanding he take Kathryn for an abortion to get rid of her 'growth.' As a result, he asked Kathryn about her situation and refused to accept an 'I'm fine.' She broke down in tears.
Jamie was furious. He was ready to go to Braggton and clean house. Fortunately, he talked with Ethan first. "Little Bro, you know what you own and that you are good people. You intend to marry Kathryn I assume." Jamie nodded. "And you'll provide for her and your children, right?" Jamie nodded again. "Okay. You and Kathryn talk with Fr. Mason and make arrangements to get married. Haul the three Heffners over the plantation and show them the partnership papers, the deed and the house site. Rub their nose in it. Remind Mr. Heffner that even having purchased Philos, you could still write a check for more than he is worth. As to your house, how's the lumber drying going?"
"Joe is amazed. While it has made work for us keeping the irrigation for the groves and pastures going, the dry weather has been a blessing so far as lumber drying is concerned. Some could be used right now, but all should be ready, Joe says, by midsummer."
"You've get your art project back?"
"Sure, got an A. Andy got an A+."
"Did you talk to Kathryn when you were doing it?"
"Then you have some idea what the two of you want. You want to do it right, so talk to her some more, then see if you can find an architect to work with you. Don't rush. You and Kathryn are welcome to live here as long as you want and need to. And that's married or unmarried."
"Don't think Kathryn will live with me unmarried."
Jamie told Kathryn what Ethan had said and she said what he expected, that as soon as they were married, she would move in with him while their house was being built. The two made an appointment with Fr. Mason, made arrangements for premarital counseling and set the date for their wedding. It would be very simple, but at St. Matthew's. As soon as Miss Mattie heard of the wedding, she insisted on holding the reception at her place.
Ethan insisted Jamie and Kathryn build their house right and the two spent time with Joe talking about what they wanted and liked and what they didn't like and didn't want. Jamie's art project was proving a great help. Joe contacted a classmate, Henry Austin, a professor in the school of architecture at the university and asked him to look over a house site with him. They drove to Philos and took an ATV to the house site Jamie had selected. Henry was captivated by the site. After the spent an hour walking over it, Joe showed him the art project. "Jamie consulted Kathryn while he worked on the project. Should tell you something about what Jamie and Kathryn want," Joe said.
When Dr. Austin met with the two later in the afternoon, he said, "Jamie, Kathryn, I will be absolutely delighted to design a house for your beautiful site." When Jamie asked for a ballpark figure for his fee, he quoted a figure, about half what they expected. He spent hours working with the two and the plan, making sure the house was what they wanted.
The huge house's exterior would make use of native stone taken from the river, pine drying in the building in the Compound and glass. Downstairs it would have a great room, family room, master and guest suites, nursery, formal dining room, and eat-in kitchen. Both the family room and great room would have cathedral ceilings and the wall facing the river, which would be mostly glass. Both opened onto a large deck, which was cantilevered over the river. The master and guest suites both opened onto a deck overlooking the forest surrounding the house.
Upstairs the playroom extended out into the trees and had glass on three sides of the extension giving the appearance of it being a tree house. In addition to the playroom, there were four bedrooms with connecting baths. The two over the family room shared its glass wall overlooking the river. The other two bedrooms shared a balcony. The great room was open through the second floor giving it a twenty plus foot ceiling. Level with the second floor was a balcony allowing observation of activity in the great room.
Preparation for the house began with extending the road from Pleasant Grove to Philos and cutting a road from the compound area to the house sites. Midway to Jamie's place, the road forked with one fork going to Jamie's place and the other to Andy's.
As soon as the road was cut, Jamie invited the Heffners to a picnic at Philos. When they arrived, he took them to the office, spread out the deed to his house site, the deed and documents for Philos Plantation LLP on the desk. "While I understand you have some doubts about my partnership with Andrew and ownership of a house site, as you can see, your doubts are unfounded. Here is the deed to my house site. It's ten acres where we will be having our lunch. Here is the deed to the remaining thousand and eighty acres made out to me and Andy. Finally, here is the partnership documents establishing me and Andy as the only partners in a limited liability partnership known as Philos. You have any questions?" Eugenia was staring into space, Mrs. Heffner just looked puzzled and Mr. Heffner looked as if he didn't believe a thing he was witnessing. "We'll have a look at the house plans at the house site," Jamie said after several minutes of silence.
Jamie's truck was perfectly capable of traveling on the new road---even Molly's Lincoln would have found the graveled road acceptable, nevertheless, Kathryn had requested and Jamie agreed that they travel by ATV. "We have two ATVs," Kathryn said. Jamie and I will take Mom and Dad in and Jamie will come back for you Eugenia. Mom, you ride with me and, Dad, you go with Jamie." Kathryn climbed on the ATV and gunned the motor. Her mother protested, but Kathryn told her the alternative was to walk the mile or so to the house site. "Walk or climb on." Her mother reluctantly climbed on. "Hold on," Kathryn said, gunned the motor again and took off. She did not pick the smoothest route.
When Jamie came back to pick up Eugenia, he took the opportunity to tell her to back off Kathryn. "Let me put it to you plain, Eugenia, either you treat Kathryn with respect or your life is going to become very miserable and you better not doubt I can make that happen. You have done enough to make our lives difficult and you have really made Kathryn's miserable. Girl, I want you to know that payback will be a bitch especially for a bitch." With that, he picked her up, sat her butt on the ATV and took off.
When he got back to the house site, Mrs. Heffner was grousing about Kathryn being taken from a lovely home and dumped into a shack in the wilderness. "Let me show you about the shack," Kathryn replied and spread Jamie's art project drawing and blueprints out for the three Heffners to examine.
When she looked at the plans, Mrs. Heffner asked, "Jamie, who are you trying to impress?
Mr. Heffner added, "And why are you trying to persuade my daughter to marry someone who owes his soul to the bank."
"And why do you need a nursery and four bedrooms upstairs?" Mrs. Hefner queried.
"Mrs. Heffner, I'm not out to impress anyone. Kathryn and I have spent many hours talking with Mr. Joe Maddox and Dr. Henry Austin, our architect, about what we like and dislike and what we want in our house. The house is simply what we want. Frankly, I don't give a gray rat's ass what anyone else thinks about it."
"As to the nursery and bedrooms," Kathryn said. "First of all, the nursery is downstairs because when babies are young, they need to be near the parents' bedroom, but it is a nursery. As Ethan says, it's like pecans. When trees are very young, they are in a nursery, but when they grow a bit, they are transplanted to a grove. When the twins are old enough, they will be transplanted upstairs. Why four bedrooms? I asked Dr. James about twins and if was it likely to happen again. He said the possibility was greater than if I wasn't having twins. Seems some twins don't like to be separated, others do. In any event, we have room for four---sets of twins or singles."
"You're talking maybe having eight children!" Mrs. Heffner was red in the face.
"Or more," Kathryn said with a grin.
Kathryn said after the picnic she expected the harassment to decrease and it did, but not much. Her mother kept on about all the money being wasted on 'that house' and her dad let it be known Jamie was a sharecropper, trash, regardless of the money he claimed to have.
With his job at the cattle station, watching over the construction of the house and his and Andy's work on the plantation, Jamie was a very busy young man. He realized the week the house's foundation was being dug that he had barely seen Ethan. He was only half aware of the fact that Scotty almost never called Ethan, but was not aware of the fact that when Ethan called he got him only every couple or three weeks.
Ethan kept what was going on with Scotty and his feeling about it to himself, but was becoming more and more depressed. When he tried to call Scotty, his father made excuses at first, but as time moved on, he generally said, "Scotty's at a party," or "Scotty's clubbing." Increasingly he mentioned Jake, the fellow Scotty's age who lived in the guest house. One morning at breakfast, Jamie looked up and saw Ethan's face and was shocked. He had obviously lost weight, had dark circles under his eyes and looked 'out of it'.
Jamie wasn't the only one of the Arkadelphia family who noticed Ethan's downward spiral. Sally Ann noticed he was eating less and less so was losing weight. The dark circles under his eyes revealed the fact that he wasn't sleeping well and he would have worked twenty-four/seven if he got the chance. Even Ginger commented on Ethan's condition to Randy.
By the first of August Molly told Davis something had to be done. "What's going on?" she asked.
"Jamie is of the opinion Scotty has more or less dumped Ethan. Randy thinks he's gone to California and gotten in the fast lane and likes it. Sally Ann says Scotty never calls and when Ethan calls him, he's seldom available."
"Do something," Molly said.
Davis called Ethan into the office and asked him when Scotty was getting back. Ethan replied he didn't know. "What's up with him?"
"I don't know that either," Ethan answered. "He never calls and is seldom around when I call."
"Is he breaking up with you?"
"I don't know. Davis, I don't know." Tears started streaming down Ethan's gaunt face.
"Ethan you're taking off a week and flying to California. Let me make it abundantly clear, it is not optional."
"Davis, we are more than busy and short-handed already."
"We've used temporaries before and we can again."
When Ethan called Scotty to find out a good time to come, Scotty's dad told him Scotty hadn't come home yet and it would probably be mid-afternoon before he was back. He called at 8:00 the next evening Ethan's time.
"Sorry I wasn't in when you called," Scotty said. "Jake and I were in Long Beach at a party and neither was in any condition to drive, so we slept over. I just got home. What's on your mind?"
"Davis is insisting I take off a week and fly out. When would be a good time? I told him you'd be coming back in a couple or three weeks, but he insists I need the time with you and I do need to know where we stand."
"We do need to talk about my coming back. That's looking less and less likely to be anytime soon. I'm not sure when it would be best for you to come out. Let me check on some things and get back to you. Now I need to get dressed to go out. I'll call in a day or two." Scotty then hung up. He had asked no questions about what was going on at Arkadelphia or the family. No 'I love you,' nothing. Ethan was hurt and angry and had a sinking feeling that Scotty had just walked out of his life for good.
The next day Ethan had a long talk with Davis. Davis was pretty blunt asking Ethan what he thought Scotty was doing and not allowing him to create excuses for Scotty's behavior. He did acknowledge that his idea of what was going on was conjecture, but insisted Ethan talk straight to Scotty.
When Scotty didn't call, Ethan called him. His dad said he had gone to Lake Tahoe for a week with Jake and two other couples. "Other couples?" Ethan asked, a knot in the pit of his stomach.
"Yeah, they have been doing a lot of things with two couples they met at a gay couples' weekend in early July. Four really great guys who also like to surf, hike and party. Scotty's having a grand time. He's actually got a tan---pretty much all over." Ethan hung up the phone without saying goodbye.
A week later Scotty did call. He had, he said, been with Jake. "Nothing really serious. You know, we're just fuck buddies. You shouldn't expect me to do without sex when we had been fucking like bunnies," he laughed.
"Well, I guess I was a fool, but I did expect you to do without sex. I thought we'd settled that after spring break. I thought we were a couple and that meant we were monogamous. Sex was a way to express our love, not just a way to get our rocks off. I don't understand you, Scotty."
"Ethan, the problem is you are so old-fashioned. You're stuck in backwoods south Georgia; I'm where the action is. You worry about crops and bugs and all when people our age are supposed to be having a good time. A couple of beers, a glass of wine and you think you're partying. I bet you've never smoked a joint and experienced a high. I'm positive you've never felt how wonderful life is after you've snorted a line of coke. Well, I have and I love it. I enjoy group sex. I like being fucked silly by several young studs. I ..." Ethan hung up the phone as a flood of tears ran down his face. He finally collapsed on the floor and curled into a fetal position. That is the way Jamie found him. When he found him, Ethan was totally unresponsive; he called 911, then Davis and Randy.
Davis and Randy were, of course, at the Taylors' in minutes, but neither had any idea what to do and felt utterly helpless. When the ambulance arrived, two of the EMT crew very gently got Ethan on a stretcher while the third got what information Randy, Davis and Jamie could provide. "Obviously he was on the phone before he collapsed," Jamie observed, "and I suspect he was talking to Scotty, his boyfriend. Scotty must have dumped him. Ethan has been sinking deeper and deeper into depression for the last month over Scotty's never contacting him."
"I ordered Ethan to take a week and fly out to talk to the boyfriend Scotty, but Scotty could never seem to find a time to talk about arrangements with him," Davis said. "The main thing now is to get Ethan well, but I'm going to find out what gives with Scotty. Randy, maybe you are the one to talk to him since you know him best."
"I did know him," Randy said, "but I don't think I know the California Dude he apparently has become. When I talked to him earlier it was like talking to a perfect stranger."
Ethan was rushed to the psychiatric unit at the Audubon hospital where he would be for at least four weeks. For the first week, he was allowed no visitors and essentially sat staring at the wall except for the hour session morning and afternoon he spent with Dr. Kiegle, a psychologist, and an occasional appointment with Dr. Hornaski, a psychiatrist. Dr. Kiegle told Jamie his brother was suffering severe and deep depression, kinda like post-traumatic stress syndrome. "He is in a battle with his confusion about his lover and what he needs to do in that situation. I guess you can say he's suffering from acute stress-induced trauma. Hell, they're all labels. Somehow or other your brother got the shit kicked out of him emotionally and it was/is too damn painful to deal with. Our problem is to help him find the strength and will to face the pain and move on. I wish I knew what brought this on."
"We're trying to find out, but I think we know enough to pretty much guess. It's conjecture, but I'd bet money on it," Jamie told the doctor.
"Hey, I'll take any help I can get," Jamie told him what he suspected had happened. Later Randy had managed to get in touch with Scotty and confirmed most of it.