He’d given Roy two hours to get his things together for a week’s stay and when he realized Roy was still walking around as if in dreams, he forced him back down on the seat for the half an hour it took Teri to organize the tickets before assigning the secretary to go with him and make sure he was packed properly. He stayed in his office for another hour, concentrating on work and trying to get things in order before he took off to pack his own things.
It didn’t hit him before he was sitting in his car behind traffic light how anxious and jealous he was. Over Roy. He kept imagining him together with Tomas and it made his chest boil how his stupid brother was tossing it all out just to get a petty revenge when he refused to do his bitting.
His own packing went smoothly. He hadn’t really unpacked since he’d got back and all he really did was replace the things with the same things he had in the bag before checking the time and ordering a taxi to get to the airport, where Roy and Teri were already waiting. Roy looked calmer now that things were in action and he used him to focus on something other than…
His eyes wavered past his teacher and towards where Teri was staring at, terrified.
He should have known. The entire Bradenton clan was standing in the other end of the waiting hall – his parents and the triplets. The triplets were actually a all born in different years, but they were still way younger and closer to each other, which made them talk, act and even look the same – all sporting the latest fashion in manhood that in his opinion had the opposite effect.
His mood went down the drain as he watched them noses stuck in their phones while mom was counting over their tickets. While they seemed busy, he made his way to oblivious Roy, whose calm had began to crack as he must have felt the odd group behind him locking their eyes on his back. He didn’t care.
“Your tickets.” Teri’s voice trembled as she gave him his papers. “I swear, I didn’t hint them!”
“I know.” He nodded. He wouldn’t have believed it form her anyway. He read the information she’d scribbled on separate paper about the trip. “Mom called me and told me they’re coming. I didn’t know they are on the same flight though.”
If Roy had seemed even slightly oblivious of the group behind them before, then now his paling face was direct indicator that he finally recognized them.
“Ten years and you don’t know what my family looks like?” He scolded him, exasperated.
“I-I-I never had to hide as th-th-they didn’t know, who I was…” he whispered, clutching his bag.
“Well, I-” can’t protect you, he wanted to say, but saw his mom walk over leaving the menfolk fighting over the window seat.
“Reed?” She began politely, acknowledging that they had company.
“Hi, mom.” He leaned in and kissed the older blond woman on her cheek. While his height took after their father, his looks were from his mom with her bright blond hair and gray eyes. “Are we traveling together?”
“Yes, honey, it seems we are.” He didn’t have to ask if they were in business class, for he knew dad wouldn’t let them travel any other way and Teri knew his likes to follow his family’s.
“Ah, yes,” he turned his attention back to the older man. “This is Roy Hadfield. He’s joining us on this trip. And you know my secretary, Teri.”
“How do you do?” she smiled politely as her mobile let out a loud cat cry and she had an excuse to run, which she immediately did, saying she would return to the office after that.
“So,” she drawled, turning her attention on Roy, “you’re my son’s boyfriend?”
“Husband, actually.” Reed said calmly, enjoying the flushed expression he had on the statement.
He watched as her mom opened and closed her mouth several times without saying anything. She glanced over her shoulder quickly to where dad was, then turned to look back at Roy and waved with her hand as if to searching for words that wouldn’t come.
“I can’t handle this right now.” She said finally and shook her head. “Make sure your dad doesn’t find out before you clear this shit out, alright?” she patted Reed’s hand. “It was nice to meet you, Mr. Hadfield.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Reed nodded.
She turned around and walked back to the group while they glared at them.
“Why would you-?” Roy gasped as the voices of his brothers reached their ears.
“Why is Mr. Hadfield traveling with us?” Sebastian demanded.
“Who?” His father asked, confused.
“He’s our science teacher!” the youngest of the trio repeated.
Reed watched how Roy looked away, trying to make himself as small as possible while his family kept loudly discussing the issue. He wanted to make him feel better, but wasn’t sure how he could do it without making it worse. He could guess what connections started to form in his mother’s head on where the two met. Despite her spirited support to all kinds of love, he doubted she was willing to forgive a teacher seducing his eldest son.
He took a deep breath and patted him on his shoulder to follow him as he went to greet the rest of his family.
“Roy is friend of your brother’s.” Reed said loud enough for the three youngest to hear. He’d ever been their hero, but the way he’d had to be the negotiator between Tomas and them, they at least took his word seriously and he knew they wouldn’t push it further. He made a mental note to corner Sebastian later to make sure he wouldn’t give Roy hard time for it at school afterwords. “So he joins us on our way there.”
His eyes traveled on his mom, who looked away immediately, avoiding them completely. He saw Roy’s posture waver, but there was little he could do to ease the man. The silence that followed after Roy’s quick hi was painful to his ears.
An hour later they were seated and both him and Roy breathed easier as they realized they were separated from the group.
“Your mom looks nice.” Roy said after a while he kept stealing glances few seats ahead, where the group was seated.
“They only want what’s best for their children.” Reed said without thinking.
Roy frowned and dropped his gaze on the glass of water he’d asked for.
In a way, that was true, but he hadn’t met any other family, where father treated them good only if they were doing good. He’d hated that part of him for a very long time to the point, when it didn’t matter anymore. His mother was made of different wood and pined after each of her children as they were her only ones. Which in deeper level meant that they were left on their own most of the time and had to deal with each other way more than most kids they knew around.
“If my brothers ask, you ARE his friend, nothing more.” He added after awhile. “They are glued to their phones and any program that has “insta” as part of the app name. So unless you want your business be prod-casted all over the world in less than a minute, you keep your cool.”
“This would be the place, where we’d make demands in big sums, hm?”
Their heads snapped to the pair of jeans standing next to them.
“Joshua.” Reed breathed easier. The eldest had proved some level of discretion and being the first out of three to be near finishing university, was beginning to understand the subtleties of human interaction.
“How much trouble is Tomas in exactly?” He leaned against the empty seat in front of them and lowered himself so their conversation wouldn’t be heard elsewhere. His phone was tangling from his hand as if planted there, but Reed knew he was displaying the piece of plastic only to show it was turned off. As if asked to demonstrate, his thumb knocked on the only button the modern machine had and displayed locked screen with nothing on except the background. Click, and it was gone again.
His eyes fell on Roy, who had pressed back into his seat, eyes wide as he took in the looming youth of several silver chains tangling from his neck, the fuzzy striped hair and just as cold eyes as Reed carried around.
“Nothing major.” Reed flipped the newspaper he was holding open, but he didn’t let Joshua out of his sight.
“Did he steel your girlfriend?” Joshua asked, leering while eyes peered into their teacher and the mockery in his voice was menacingly ugly.
“No.” Reed answered for him, his bass low as he deliberately changed the page again and concentrated on the news he wasn’t interested in. “He stole mine.”