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now, at least for the moment, there wasn t any room for anyone else. Even for a man about to
be put six feet under. Joe Stalling had never been an ideal father, even before he knew his
oldest boy was gay, but he d taken care of Gabriel all the same. He d put food on the table
and clothes on his back for seventeen years.
And now he was no more.
If there was sorrow, Gabriel would have to dig deep down to find it. If there was anger,
or regret, even relief, well, he d have to dig for that, too. Tristan s arm brushed against his
own, a silent acknowledgement that he was there, that he was a comforting shoulder to cry
on. But when Gabriel looked at his brother, he saw that his twin was shedding enough silent
tears for the both of him. Gabriel squeezed his arm, reminding Tristan that he was there for
him, too.
Their mother approached, a small figure dressed all in black, being ushered by a small
contingency of well-wishers as if old age and heartache had sapped her strength and she
needed the dozens of hands that flocked around her to remain upright. She carried a single
red rose in her black-gloved hand. Gabriel watched it tremble before she placed it on top of
the coffin. In time, once he d made peace with the way things were between him and his
mother, he knew he d feel sorry for her. Despite all her foibles and God knew Gabriel had a
dozen of his own Samantha had loved their father. Of that, there could be no doubt, and
while the old man was gone, she still had a life to live, albeit a lonely one. Samantha had
severed the ties to her closest blood: Gabriel, because she couldn t understand that not all
matters of love were personal choices, and ultimately Tristan, too, because he could not stay
for the very same reason.
BROKEN Sage Whistler
88
Gabriel didn t have to ask where Tristan would be going in the morning. Knowing his
brother would stick by his side gave Gabriel the peace of mind he d been missing.
Samantha was the last to place her rose on the coffin and say her goodbyes. Before she
turned away she looked up at her boys. Her eyes grew slightly round as she stared from one
face to the other.
 Tristan? she gasped, clearly confused about which one was which, a thing that had
never happened before.
Gabriel was stunned into immobility. Sure, they were dressed in the same black suits
and white shirts as were most of the men in attendance but Gabriel s hair was longer,
pulled back into a ponytail but definitely longer. Yet, in that moment, Samantha failed to
differentiate between the two of them. Perhaps it was her grief that had her confused or the
fact that her eyes were blurry from crying.
 Mom? they both said, in two voices that melded into one.
Samantha took a step back, stepping onto Uncle Bradford s foot. He caught her
shoulders, preventing her from doing more damage with her heel.
 Sam&  Uncle Bradford started. Murmuring something to her, he drew her away from
the coffin.
Gabriel turned to his brother, looking him over as if he expected to find something had
changed. He couldn t see anything physically different with his brother.  Nothing? You?
In that odd moment of understanding, without ever being asked the full question,
Tristan shrugged.  No.
Nothing had changed.
But Gabriel had a sudden revelation of what might have confused their mother. Neither
brother had ever been so in tune with each other. Sure, they had recognised each other s
moods, but Gabriel had always been the wild child and Tristan the steadfast son. Since their
reunion, each brother had absorbed from the other what he lacked. While Gabriel remained
calm and collected in the face of their father s passing, it was Tristan who stood with dried
tears on his cheeks.
Gabriel and Tristan had never been more alike than that moment in time.
* * * *
BROKEN Sage Whistler
89
Tristan knocked and stepped back from the door, tucking his hands deep into his
pockets. He d come alone to the place he d been born to say his goodbyes. Everyone had
agreed that it would be better if Gabriel stayed away. Some problems could be mended but
certainly not the rift between mother and son, not when one party wasn t willing to see
reason.
Tristan was supposed to say the goodbyes for the two of them.
The door creaked open, and Tristan found himself looking into the familiar blue eyes of
his mother. Her lips tilted up in a strained smile, a bit of colour came to her pale cheeks at the
sight of him.  Come in. Come in. Samantha stood aside and held the door for him.
 Tristan? she said carefully, warily.
 Yes, mom. It s me.
Some of the tension in her shoulders seemed to ease, and she shut the door behind him.
 Why don t we go into the kitchen. I ve just put coffee on. Would you like some?
Tristan trailed her into the outdated, yellow-and-green kitchen. Here, old memories [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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