When I got up for work Marcus was already gone. I found a note in the kitchen that just said Thank You. I smiled imagining Marcus standing there thinking of what to write to me but just scribbling out something quick. I got ready for work then drove over to the center.
The morning was spent just like any other, at my desk doing paperwork and whatever else was needed. I suddenly found myself thinking that maybe I needed a change. I loved the center and the kids but the work itself was so routine and boring. That and I really didn't like living so far away from Carson. If I had a different kind of job I could just up and go but the center and everyone with it needs me. After that line of thinking my day was shot. I felt awful thinking of missing Carson and having the thought of leaving this place behind me. I made the center what was, there was a committee, yes but it was my center. But it was also my ball and chain as well. It wasn't always easy to just leave for vacation or something like that. But maybe that is all I really needed, vacation a real one this time. I did take time off when I was having trouble with the break up with James yes, but I was more focused on the pain and guilt from the breakup to enjoy the time off.
Around eleven Marcus came by. "Hey, sorry I left like I did," he told me.
"It's okay I figured you had to be up and going early anyway."
"Yeah I did and always do, so I uh left you a note." He said shyly
"Yes, I saw that you're a man of few words in the morning." I smiled at him.
"Yea well I just didn't know what to say and I had to go."
"Don't worry about it I understand, so how are you doing today dad?"
I winked when I called him dad.
He grinned and said "Pretty good, those talks we had really helped me clear things up. I want to thank you for all you have done."
"It's been my pleasure."
"That's good to know. I kinda felt guilty dumping everything on you like I did."
"Don't be guilty Marcus I am always willing to help whenever I can. I know it's not always easy to find someone to talk things out with either. Anything else you needed to talk about?"
"No, not at the moment. I pretty much got everything out I had spent up in me."
"That's great, I'm glad I was able to help you."
"I have a question though," he said with hesitation.
"Can you make sure you don't tell anyone about what I said?"
I got up, walked around my desk to be close to him. "My office or my home are safe places. Nothing is repeated, I tell Carson very little that goes on between myself and others. I'd tell him you came by my place and we talked, and you ended up staying the night, nothing more. I promise you."
"Uh thank you," he said shyly. I don't know why but maybe it was instinct I gave Marcus a hug. That seemed to relax him some.
"I know none of this can be easy for you. I know you only came to the apartment last night because you had more to get out of your system. I want you to know that it was brave of you to be willing to talk it out with me. It couldn't have been easy admitting all you did. Sometimes it becomes too much for us then we can't handle it alone. I talked things out a lot with Carson and he opened up to me as well. We don't really know just how bad things are bothering us until we actually face them and talk it all out." I sat down, and he joined me. "Like with Matt just listen to him to what he has to say, you never know just how bad needs someone to listen to him. I'm sure you want to get know him, that is the best way. Ask him questions, tell him things about yourself as well. Before you know you two will be like old friends. Or I should say, Father and Son."
He thanked me again after staying a little bit longer, he had to get back to work. I felt better after he left, I didn't feel so awful like was earlier. I wondered if maybe I could do counseling when the time came to leave the center? It would mean going back to school though but that wouldn't be a problem. Of course, that was just an idea of what I could do. Going back to school isn't a bad idea though, it would certainly be the kind of change I could use.
Over the next few weeks, Marcus and Matt spent a lot of time getting to know each other. Anne also spent time with them as well. Matt later told me that his mom and dad spent a lot of time talking and his mom was in better spirits as well. I wondered if something was going on with them, but I wouldn't say anything. On Christmas day we went to be with Carson's family since a few days before we went to my families huge holiday party. Carson loved what I gave. I got a few extra things to add to what I had saved from when I shopped for his birthday. Since Anne had to work Marcus brought Matt with him. That was when Matt was able to meet his aunt uncles and of course his cousins. He had met the grandparents before Christmas.
One night just after Christmas Carson and I were cuddling on the couch he confessed that he wanted to come live with me. I told him I would love that but what about his schooling, he just shrugged his shoulders in response. That sweet boy was so lovesick but to be honest I was too.
"I know how you feel sweetie I really do," I told him and kissed his head.
"Then you wouldn't be made if I quit school?" he said sounding hopeful.
"I didn't say that and you know it. However, I had a thought, just a thought mind you of leaving the center."
"What about the kids?" he asked with concern.
"Yes, well that is part of the dilemma," I paused a moment. "Carson, I love my kids and I am proud of what the center has become but I feel I need a change. Part of that change is being with a gorgeous college boy." I said kissing his head again.
"Really? You want to leave the Center for me?"
"No, not just for you but yes I do want to be with you more. You need to stay in school and I can't just up and leave the center, it's not that easy."
"We both know it would be easier for me to leave school than for you to leave the Center," he said matter of fact like.
"And we both know that I would look bad if you left school to come live with me or if I left the Center," I told him bluntly.
"Why would you look bad if I left school?"
"Because anyone with a brain would know your leaving school would be because of you wanting to be with me."
"We just wouldn't tell them."
"We wouldn't have too, they would just know. A lovesick boy is easy to understand."
"Who says I'm lovesick?" he asked with a fake shock.
"Everyone knows you are, how do you think people suspected we were together?" I could feel him roll his eyes out of frustration because he knows I'm right.
As he laid there in my arms I really wanted to be able to do this every night. It was so hard for us living so far apart. But that is part of why I had thoughts of leaving the center, so I could be with him and because I was needing a change. Even if I did move down to be with him I wasn't quite sure what I would do there. I knew I could go back to school for sure but what to do after?
I must have gone really quiet because he said, "Kirk are you okay?" then he sat up and turned to look at me. "Are you mad at me because of what I said? About leaving school?"
"Oh no, of course, I'm not mad at you."
"Why did you go so quiet then?" He asked worriedly
"I was thinking about some stuff." he laid back down but not with his back to me. He laid his head on my shoulder and wrapped his arms around me. I wrapped my arms around him holding him to me. This whole thing was bothering me, but I don't know just what part was the worst. What I did know is that I was bored with my work and I wanted to be with the one I loved. We needed each other, I knew he wasn't happy down there by himself and I wasn't too happy myself either.
We laid there a long time holding each other wanting it to last forever. I wished the easy answers would come to me so I knew what I should do. I was afraid I would lose Carson with him gone away from me for so long but I couldn't just leave and see what happens to the Center while I'm gone either. I decided I would talk to my dad to find out what he thinks about the situation.
Instead of just lying on the couch we locked up and went to bed early. The only thing I wanted to do on such a cold night was be cuddled up with my handsome boy in our bed. We did have the whole week to ourselves since the center was always closed between Christmas and New Year's. We spent making up for a lot of lost time that week. He nearly wore me out, but I was very happy as was he.
The next day while Carson went to visit with his parents I went to have a talk with my dad. He was at his clinic as expected, I told his secretary I would wait for him in his office. She said she would let him know I was in there waiting for him. Sitting in his office I thought of the many times I visited him there when I was growing up. I always sat in his huge chair, well it was huge to me at the time. I made myself think of what I wanted to say to him about the center for when he came in.
There were others I could talk to about this but since he was the one that helped me with the center for so many years I felt it best to go to him. Carson had invited me to go to his parents with him but I told him I had to see Dad about a few things.
I got a text from Carson while I was waiting for Dad. Why did you have to talk to ur dad?
I have some questions to ask him. I replied.
like wht? I will tell you later I promise. Okay, hugs he replied.
Dad came in after Carson sent his last text. "Penny told me you were waiting for me," he said when he came in. I stood and gave him a quick hug. "What brings you in?" he asked.
"There was something I wanted to talk to you about if you have time that is."
"Penny said I was free for about thirty minutes I hope that is enough time."
"It's a start dad," told him then added. "I have been thinking of leaving the center."
He was quiet for a few moments then he said: "You want to be with your boy, is that it?" I couldn't believe he knew.
"That's not the only reason Dad but yes Carson and I want to live together."
He chuckled and said, "I know son, I just had to give you a hard time." he smiled at me.
"Yes, I would like to be with Carson more, but I don't feel it's right to just leave the center and all that comes with it behind." I took a deep breath. "I love the center you know I do but I am also bored with the work that goes with it. If I was out with the kids it would be different, but I hide in an office away from them."
Dad was sitting in his chair on the other side of his desk. He was thinking of what I was telling him I know he was. "Son what is it you want to do?" he asked me.
"I don't know just yet. But I know I am missing out on a lot with Carson so far away. I also want a change, do something different, live somewhere else. But I don't know if I want these things for the right reasons."
"I understand what you are telling me. If you want me to make this decision for you, I can't, you know that. But I'll tell you that love is usually a good reason to do things. I know how much you love that boy of yours and I also know how much you love those kids and what your center does for them."
"Deciding what to do isn't the hardest part, okay yes I want to be with Carson, no I don't know what to do when I am there nor, do I know how to leave but not let the center close."
After several minutes he said "First think of what you need to do to make sure the center doesn't close. Once you do that I bet everything will fall into place. I am willing to help you with that part, but you may need more help."
"That's true dad, but I kinda want to find a way to save the place under the radar for now. I don't too many people to know what's going on until I know for sure I will be leaving."
"I get that, let's get together sometime and we can work things out together." He told me. After about ten minutes he left to see his next patient and I headed home.
I felt better after talking this idea out some. I would need more time to know if I really would be leaving the center or not. I did know that I needed to be with Carson more than we were. When Carson came home from visiting his parents I wrapped him into a hug burying my face in his neck inhaling his scent. It always felt good and relaxing having him in my arms.
"Hello to you too," he said. I just kissed his neck in response. He held me and rubbed my back. I don't usually get like this, but I was really needing him right then. After a few minutes, he led me to the couch to sit, I never let go of him. "What's going, Kirk? Is something wrong?"
I looked into his beautiful green eyes. "I told dad about my idea of leaving the center and moving away."
"Really, what did he say?"
"He was supportive, and he even knew why I was thinking about it."
"What? How could he know?"
I kissed him softly "Because it's not hard to see that I need you." I told him. "Baby that place and those kids mean a lot to me, but you mean way more to me and I need you in my life for good, I know you need me just as much."
"But I thought you couldn't leave the center behind."
"Carson, it's better than losing you. And it's not just you, I don't want to lose me either. I really feel I need a change, something new but most importantly is having you with me all the time." I kissed him deeply holding him.
When we released I said, "That right there is what I need every day."
He grinned and said, "Yeah me too."
"I can't up and go or I would have already. Having you around makes me feel so good and so refreshed but sometimes isn't enough. I want to do something different as well like I said."
"Like what?" he asked
Well, I don't know yet but that's something I can worry about later." I paused a moment "We didn't get together to be apart, we did it to be with each other."
"I know what you mean. Being at school is hard as it is for everyone but I long to be with you. Like when you came for my birthday I loved laying on that huge bed with you even though I was doing homework. Just being with you made the studying not so bad."
"Yeah that was nice, wasn't it? But it was odd only having one hand the whole time though."
He looked at me like I was insane then he grinned at me "Yeah but you loved it."
"Damn right I did, my handsome college boy." Again, another mind-blowing kiss.
Over the next several months I looked for someone to replace me at the center without too many people knowing. It wasn't easy, and I knew it wouldn't be. Finding someone to do so much but for not a lot of a pay never is. But all we really needed was someone to do the paperwork and things like that. The center was a place I used to keep myself busy while also being there for any of the kids. That was one thing I did have worries about. They would still need someone they could trust when it was needed.
By the time the school year ended my replacement was found and I announced I would be leaving. I told the committee and those at the center it was time that I move on. I would remain a committee member of course. Carson and Matt helped me pack up my office. I would leave any furniture there in case it was needed. Matt felt bad that I was leaving but he understood why I was doing it. Since he had both his parents in his life it wouldn't be so hard on him that I was leaving. We had grown close since he came to me in my office seeking help. I'm sure he loved the idea of me being his uncle at least that way he would get to see me.
When school ended for Carson in early May he moved in with me. Marcus stayed with his parents for few months until things settled down after the divorce. He found a nice apartment for himself and sometimes Matt. Anne was much better as well, she cleaned herself even more over those several months and even started school online.
Debbie got a job offer down in the same city at Carson's school, so we helped her pack up her stuff for the move. I told her I would see her when I got down there myself. The closer it got to my own move I felt better and that I did the right thing. I would miss being near my parents and the friends I had there in town, but I would always come back.
Everyone asked what I would be doing with myself after leaving the center, all I could say was we'll see. I talked more about going to school myself again and see where that takes me. All that really mattered was that I was with the love of my life and that we were happy.
A big thank you to Max and Mason.
Comments always appreciated at C. J. Gibb