“Camp Forrester.” Byron was sitting at his desk waiting for Eddie’s call. He was wearing his workout clothes but he knew better than to leave without dealing with the aftermath of last night’s little incident.
“Oh good,” Eddie’s voice was dripping with sarcasm, “see I thought you were dead. Because I knew my friend and partner wouldn’t have just taken off in the middle of the most important night of the year unless he was at death’s door!”
That smarted and Byron knew he had no good retort. “I’m sorry man. I just lost my head.”
“What the hell happened?!? Believe me buddy, if the reason ain’t good you better start thinking of a damned good lie!”
“Look Eddie, I know you want me to be just as happy as you and Roger are but you have to stop trying to fix me up!”
There was a pause on the other end of the line. “What did you do?”
Why did he automatically assume it was Byron’s fault? Byron related the incident to his friend. Even as the words were leaving his lips he began to feel foolish. He had definitely over reacted. But rejection was hard to take, even after all these years. He just hadn’t been up to it. Not from someone so attractive, so perfect.
“So let me get this straight, you stormed out because my cousin called you ‘normal’? You had better be glad I’m not there or you’d be prying that phone out of your idiotic ass!”
Byron knew he deserved this. “I know I overreacted! I didn’t even know she was your cousin.” Who’d have thought Eddie could have a cousin that gorgeous! “Look, tell her… I don’t know. Eddie, women like that never go for cripples! It’s best to just drop it anyway. She’ll probably be relieved to not have to think up excuses not to get involved.”
“Ah yes, that’s a good strategy, shut her out before she shuts you out! That’ll keep you from ever getting hurt. But it’ll also keep you lonely!” Eddie sighed, “You are my friend and she is my family and I care about you both. But I’m not going to try to make you love each other. I won’t try to set you up again.”
The statement wasn’t nearly as comforting as Byron thought it would be but Eddie’s voice interrupted his thoughts “But we do have a foundation to run. The donations last night were through the roof despite your little tantrum. We really need to keep the momentum going so we can get started on purchasing and renovating another group home. I was thinking maybe a bit of publicity may bring in a bit more money.”
Byron didn’t like the sound of this but he knew he owed his friend and whatever it was he would do his best not to refuse. It didn’t make his reply any more enthusiastic. “What do I need to do?”
“Don’t take that tone with me! You owe me big time!”
“I know, I know. Just tell me what I have to do.”
“I was thinking of bringing in the press to write an article about what you do there at the camp. Maybe have a reporter spend the week up there. You could show the place off and really talk it up!”
It was exactly the sort of “great idea” that Byron would hate the most and Eddie knew it. It was also very hard to argue with the logic and they did need the money to expand as demand was growing for their services. “Alright, if you can find someone interested in doing this type of piece.” Byron was vainly hoping he wouldn’t.
“You don’t worry about that. I’ll make the arrangements. You just be ready to actually be charming this time. And Byron, if you pull another stunt like you did last night, I’ll quit and I swear it!”
Byron hung up. He didn’t think Eddie was serious but he was certainly not going to find out. He was going to give this reporter the best camping trip of his life!
“Hey, Ed.” Katrina had read his name on the caller ID and she tried to put some enthusiasm in her voice. He was the last person she wanted to talk to after last night’s disaster but it wasn’t his fault so he didn’t deserve sour grapes. Truth be told she just wanted to sit home with her head buried in the sand for a while and forget the whole thing.
“Hey sweetie, I heard you had a rough time last night.” His voice was dripping with sympathy. He must have talked to Byron. She wondered what he’d said. She wasn’t even sure what had happened and she’d been tossing it around in her brain all night. It certainly couldn’t have been the “normal” comment, although obviously he hadn’t realized she’d known he was in a chair all along. He must have simply been turned off by her scarred face.
“No need to sound like that cousin. I‘m sorry your friend didn‘t like me too but that‘s just the way it goes sometimes.” She had enough experience with rejection. She hadn’t dated since her boyfriend left her a year after the accident. He stuck around long enough for her to get out of the hospital. As soon as it became clear that her career was over he was off trying to attach himself to a new pretty face. She had expected it and she’d never really loved him in the first place. If she had to be brutally honest, she probably never even liked him. Even though she’d only known Byron for a couple of hours, the rejection stung more. It was probably because she was already vulnerable at the time and also because… she had really liked him!
“I can’t help but feel at least somewhat responsible though. I did sit you at the table with the great lummox! I swear if he weren’t my partner I’d never speak to him again!”
Katrina had to laugh. Ed always did have a flare for the dramatic. “I don’t think it’s that serious. He just wasn’t interested and didn’t care to stick around to tell me so. It’s okay, perfect guys like that don’t tend to go for women like me anyway.”
Ed mumbled under his breath “Lord save me from fools and relatives!”
“I’m sorry Ed. Did you say something?”
“No sweetie, I was just trying to get up the nerve to ask you for one more tiny favor. Well actually it’s a rather big favor but if you love me you’ll do it anyway. It’s for the foundation.”
She could almost hear his pleading facial expression through the phone. “What is it this time? I don’t think I’m up for any more social events right now.”
“Oh no, I wouldn’t ask! No I was hoping to enlist your professional services. Do you think you could get anyone interested in an article about the unique camp we run? The publicity would bring in some much needed expansion money.”
“Hmm…” a mountain retreat did sound very nice actually. It might be just the getaway she was looking for. “I think I could sell that. Let me just check my calendar and we can set up a date.”
Edward hung up the phone and smiled. It just had to work this time around! A faint electric whir signaled the arrival of his beloved.
Edward turned and planted a kiss on Roger’s head. Roger wasn’t capable of facial expression but Edward had gotten used to reading his eyes. The electric voice simulator spoke Roger’s thoughts, “I know that expression. Have you been meddling again?”
Edward snorted. “Now would I do a thing like that? No I was just on the phone discussing foundation business.” Roger’s hand reached for his keypad but Edward interrupted. “Oh come on now. It’s the weekend and I’d much rather spend it with you, not discussing silly business matters.” Roger’s eyes showed that he was clearly unconvinced but another wordless glance from Edward had both men’s minds on other matters. Edward lowered himself into Roger’s lap and the two men rolled off to their bedroom.
To be continued...