© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 58

After the fiasco with JC, Brian decided to spend as much time at home as he could. He got everyone to agree to letting him record the final touches of the new album in the recording studio at the house he shared with Leighanne. It had taken some fast talking but it was finally agreed upon. He wasn't leaving Lexington for a while. Whatever Skyler needed he was damned sure going to get. Brian would see to it.

He was a little disappointed to see Jeff Timmons at the house when he'd come back from putting in a little time in the studio. He and Skyler were sitting on the back patio talking quietly and Jeff was holding Preston. If Brian hadn't known better he'd have sworn they were a family. He was shocked at the pang of jealousy he felt while he watched them. It wasn't until that moment that he admitted to himself that he'd never stopped loving Skyler Thomas.

Leighanne. That was one thing that worried him constantly. Did she suspect? Would she suspect? There was so much riding on his keeping his feelings to himself. He loved Leighanne but she just couldn't compare to Skyler. Oh how he loved Skyler. He'd tried to convince himself that he didn't but there was no getting around it. He just had to be careful. He and Skyler were only just becoming friends again. If he told Skyler how he felt things could change in a way he didn't want.

The problem was the more time he spent around Skyler the more he loved him. It was starting to effect his marriage. Leighanne was now complaining that even with him off the road he was rarely ever home. He'd taken to spending at least two to three nights per week at his parents' house. They were now arguing about the time he spent with Skyler. He was sure that she was starting to at least suspect that he was spending his time at the house because Skyler was there and not because he was concerned for his friend. She knew that Skyler was getting better. He was even taking a few steps at a time without assistance. Leighanne talked with his mother almost daily so she had to know of Skyler's progress.

The more time he spent with Skyler the less time he had for his wife. As his relationship with his wife continued to suffer, Skyler's friendship with Jeff continued to thrive. Jeff made sure that he was always available when Skyler needed someone, and he'd all but camped out on the Littrell lawn just to be able to be there for Skyler every morning. This was a fact that Brian noticed miserably every day. It actually hurt to see them together. That was why he was now standing in Skyler's room watching him sleep. Skyler had been suffering a bad headache all day long and finally the doctor had to be called. He'd been given a powerful injection to stop the pain and it had knocked him out. Brian hated to see him suffer.

"Oh Skyler," sighed Brian through his tears as he watched him sleep. He was so happy that Skyler had accepted the offer to recover in Lexington, but he hadn't counted on how hard it would be to see him struggle. "I'm so sorry I ever hurt you."

"Brian Thomas Littrell," said the voice of his mother from the doorway. "You come out of there right now."

She didn't wait for him to follow as she walked down the hall. He got to the top of the stairs just in time to see her going down them. He didn't know what she was upset about. He'd only been checking on Skyler. He wiped his tears as he walked down the stairs only to find his mother waiting for him in the kitchen.

"Sit," she ordered as she got herself a cup of coffee.

"Mom . . ."

"Just stop, Brian," she said, turning to face him. "You have a wife. I know that she has accepted your sexual orientation just as much as the rest of your family but you can't do this to her. You can't do this to Skyler either."

"I wasn't doing anything to either of them," he protested.

"I know that look, Brian," she said, sitting down across from him at the breakfast table.

"I really do love him, Mom," said Brian as he looked at the table sadly. There was no reason to hide it from her. He knew that she knew him better than anyone else in the world.

"Well you should have realized that when you had him," she replied coldly. "Now you have a wife who you also claim to love. Tell me, Brian, since Skyler has been here how much time have you spent with Leighanne?"

"I've been here for my friend, Mom," he protested. "Leighanne and I fight so much now . . ."

"Don't you dare do it, Brian," said Jackie with venom in her voice. "It's not often that I can stomach being ashamed of my own son. I've had to feel that way about you once already. That was the first time you broke someone's heart. Now you go home to your wife."

He didn't argue he just got up and left. It wasn't that he didn't understand but what he didn't know was why she couldn't understand his feelings. He'd hurt Skyler before because he was afraid of his feelings. Now he wasn't afraid anymore. The last few weeks all he could think about was Skyler and now he knew that loving him wasn't wrong. Loving Skyler Thomas wasn't only not wrong it was the only thing completely right in his life. He had to tell him how he felt but he just didn't know how.

He found himself at his brother's house instead of his own. He stood on the lawn for a few minutes to try and collect his thoughts. When a few minutes didn't do the trick he sat down in the grass and sighed. He was so stuck in his own thoughts that he didn't even notice that Harold had come out of the house and sat down beside him until he spoke.

"Mom called," informed Harold. "I figured you'd show up here before long."

"So you know what we fought about?" Brian asked without looking at his brother.

"Yeah," sighed Harold. "Skyler."

"Don't say it like that," Brian said, snapping his head around to look at his brother hard. "It isn't dirty."

"I can't say that I blame you, bro," said Harold, holding up his hands in surrender. "I'm completely straight and I get hard watching the guy dance."

"It isn't lust, Harry," said Brian miserably. "I really love him."

"I can see that when you look at him," replied Harold. "Look Mom may be upset about this but I do understand, Brian. I feel sorry for you for this but Mom's right. You have to stick it out with Leighanne. You're married, man."

"But how can I stay with her if I know I'm in love with someone else?" Brian asked as he put his head in his hands. "I don't know what to do."

"You just have to ask yourself one question," said Harold after a moment. "Is loving Skyler going to make you happy? It sure didn't the last time you two were together. I mean you were way excited when you first got together but underneath that excitement were you truly happy?"

"I was happy when we were talking every night on the phone," he said slowly. "I loved having him in my arms when we finally got to see each other. It was just the God thing, Harry. I didn't want to go to hell for loving him."

Harold saw the anguish on his brother's face and his heart went out to him. He wasn't as devout as Brian when it came to religion so he didn't think homosexuals would go to hell for loving each other. He just didn't think that's what Brian needed to hear. The objective was to keep him with Leighanne but if that was going to tear him up like this Harold was inclined to encourage him to be with Skyler. Heaven knew that Harold wouldn't mind having Skyler around more. What stopped him from voicing those thoughts was the memory of what his mother had said. She'd told him that Leighanne was a mess worrying about her marriage. Harold loved Leighanne like a sister. He couldn't stand to be the one to kill her heart the way he knew Brian's leaving her would.

"Look," he said finally. "I can't speak for God. All I know is that you made a commitment to him once before and then you married Leighanne. Now you're married and I think you should ask yourself if you love your wife."

Brian didn't have an instant answer for that one. He sat there and thought about how he felt about his wife. He loved her but did he love her the way she deserved to be loved? He wasn't sure. Could he love her the way she deserved to be loved? That was the question. What he needed to do was look inside himself and see if he had it in him to love her that way before he made any decisions that would change things between them. He did know that he didn't like arguing with her. He groaned as he saw his cousin Tim pull his car to a stop in front of them.

"Evening boys," said Tim as he walked around his car to stand in front of them. "Brian I talked to Aunt Jackie."

"Don't, Tim," warned Harold. "This isn't the time for a sermon."

"I wasn't going to preach, Harry, calm down," said Tim. "I just wanted to see if Brian was all right."

"How did you know I was here?" Brian asked. He hadn't told his mother that he was going to be there.

"Where do you go every time you have a problem?" Tim asked with a smile. "It would make me happy if you came to see me from time to time, Bri."

Brian didn't respond to that one. It wasn't really directed at him and he knew it. Tim had always been a bit jealous of the way that both Jerald and Kevin had always gone to Harry for advice when they had a problem. It wasn't that they didn't love Tim. It was just that Harry didn't preach he just listened when they talked and gave them the advice that came from his heart. He never quoted scripture.

"It's good to see you, Tim," said Harold. "How've you been?"

"I've been fine, which you well know," he replied. "I came to see if there was anything I could do for Brian."

"I don't think so, Tim," sighed Brian, trying to keep his brother and cousin from arguing. "I've just got some real thinking to do."

"Well don't shut out the Lord, Brian," counseled Tim. "Prayer can be very helpful when you're thinking about affairs of the heart."

"I would never shut out the Lord," replied Brian, being careful to keep his tone neutral. He didn't want to start a theological argument with his cousin.

"That's good to know, Brian," said Tim as he walked back around his car to the drive's side. "Harry, it was nice to see you. You should come to church more often."

"Well I'll see what I can do, Tim," said Harold, smiling. "Nice to see you too."

"Yeah," said Tim as he got into his car. They watched him drive away in silence.

Brian didn't know what to think now. He still had some soul searching to do and he didn't need Tim involved in that. He loved God and prayed every single day of his life but there were some things that God wasn't going to directly help with. He knew that even if Tim didn't. This was his own problem. He'd have to figure this out on his own.

"You're being quiet," said Harold as he looked at his younger brother.

"I guess I've figured out that there isn't an easy answer to this," he replied. "I have to figure this one out on my own."

"And they say you're nothing but a silly pop singer," laughed Harold.

"Thanks Harry," he said, getting up from the ground and dusting off his back side.

"I hope I helped at least a little," said Harold as he too stood up.

"You always help me," replied Brian before hugging his brother.

"How long will you be home?" Harold asked.

"I'm not sure," admitted Brian. "I guess as long as management will allow it. They're pretty upset with us for canceling tour dates when Skyler was hurt. The album is nearly finished but they could want me to leave any time I guess."

"Well you just make sure that you get your butt back here to see me before you leave," instructed Harold.

"Will do," said Brian with a smile. "You know you could fly out to spend time with me too."

"Yeah," said Harold as the brothers hugged one more time.

When he finally got back to his own house Leighanne was waiting for him. He walked in the back door and there she was at the table in the kitchen. He put his keys on the counter and went to the refrigerator to get a bottle of juice before he sat down. This wasn't a conversation he was looking forward to. He could tell from the look on her face that she had a lot to say. The problem was that he didn't know what he had to say to her.

"How's Skyler?" she asked when he sat down at the table.

"He had a hard day but he's all right," he replied. "How was your day?"

"Difficult," she sighed. "I've been wondering if I should pack."

"Pack?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.

"Yes pack," she said evenly. "Brian, I don't know where we stand anymore. I know that you and Skyler are trying to be friends again but is that all that's going on?"

"Leigh, you know that Skyler is trying to learn to walk again," he said, evading the real question. "What would possibly be going on between us at this point?"

"I'm not sure," she replied. "All I know is I never see my husband anymore. You're over there with your ex-lover day in and day out while I sit here playing the little wife. What am I supposed to think?"

"Nothing is going on between me and Skyler," he said. In his mind it was the truth because he was sure that Skyler didn't even know how he felt about him. He'd shown no indication that he knew.

"I'd like to believe that, Brian," she said with tears in her eyes. "But your track record isn't spotless. How am I supposed to believe that you haven't just changed your mind again? I mean you were with Skyler when we met. You said that you were over him and I believed you. Now that he's in Lexington it's all different. I don't know what to believe anymore."

"Leighanne, nothing is going on between me and Skyler," he said. "Nothing is going to go on between us. Even if I was wanting him back he's already moved on. We're just friends."

He waited after he said that. It sounded like a lie to his own ears. The part about Skyler moving on was true as was the part about nothing going on between them. Skyler was only being a friend. He'd given no indications that anything more was on his mind or in his heart. Brian wasn't sure if he didn't want to at least try to get him back though. From the look on Leighanne's face she wasn't sure about that either.

"And if he hasn't moved on? I know that he and JC are over," she said and continued when he started to say something. "I know that you told me that nothing was ever going on between Skyler and JC. Seriously, Brian, I don't know what you were trying to prove. Why lie to me about someone else's relationship. I've heard it from Skyler's own mouth that he and JC broke up. If they were never together how could they break up?"

"Leigh . . ."

"Don't," she said, raising a hand to silence him. "Don't lie to me, Brian. I can't take it. If you don't love me anymore just tell me. I'll go. I won't make trouble I swear."

"Leighanne, don't talk like that," said Brian, shocked to find that he was terrified that she really would leave him. "I love you. You're my wife."

"Is that going to be enough to keep us together? Are you going to promise only to be a friend to Skyler?" she asked as tears rolled down her cheeks. "Brian, I love you with all of my heart. I don't want to lose you but I can't say for sure that I believe that you aren't in love with Skyler."

"I'm not in love with Skyler," he said flatly. A lie for sure but he knew now that he didn't want to lose his wife. Admitting that he loved Skyler would surely end his marriage. He couldn't have that. God would have to forgive the lie. "I love you, Leighanne. I want this marriage to work and I'll do anything to make sure that it does."

"I love you too," she said with tear streaked cheeks. "Brian, if you only knew how scared I've been about how you feel about Skyler. I understand that he's been hurt and that he's rehabilitating at your parents' house. I understand that the two of you are trying to be friends again but you have to understand that I can't forget about what you were to each other before we got together."

"Leighanne, I promise you that Skyler and I will never be more than friends again," he said. He was fairly sure that he could keep that promise because he didn't think that Skyler would ever love him again. If he was wrong he'd deal with that when the time came. "I am not turning my back on this marriage."

"Will you spend more time at home?" she asked, looking at him hard. "I'm not asking you to have nothing to do with Skyler Thomas. I just want to be able to spend time with my husband when he's in town."

"I can do that," he said, hoping that he actually could.

Two days later Kevin and AJ arrived in Lexington. The album was nearly finished and the pair wanted to touch base with Brian as well as check in on Skyler. Brian was happy to see his cousin but having them arrive also gave him an excuse to spend a little more time at his parents' house and around Skyler. This time he brought Leighanne along as well.

Jeff Timmons was joined by Drew Lachey the day after Kevin and AJ arrived. Brian was secretly thrilled that Drew had arrived because he was usually with Skyler and Jeff and that meant they were rarely, if ever, alone together. He couldn't stop the jealousy from filling his heart when he saw them together. Seeing Jeff with Preston in his arms was almost enough to rip his heart in two. He couldn't help thinking that if he hadn't been stupid and scared Skyler and Preston would be his family. Seeing Jeff in the place where he wished that he was took so much out of him. It was getting harder and harder for him to keep his feelings in check and keep everyone from figuring out that he was in love with Skyler. He had his marriage to think about and he'd almost convinced himself that he wasn't so wrong to cling to Leighanne so tightly. He knew that if there was a chance for him and Skyler things would be different but there wasn't. That was getting more and more clear every day.

Harold began to spend a lot of time at their parents' house around the time that Brian began to cut his time shorter. Brian wasn't sure why this was happening be he was trying very hard not to get jealous of his own brother. The comment that Harold had made about the effect Skyler's dancing had on him was firmly in Brian's mind as he watched the two laugh and talk with each other. This was getting serious and Brian knew that he had to at least try to make himself accept that he and Skyler had no future other than friendship.

The night before Kevin and AJ were to leave for Orlando Leighanne cooked dinner for the two. She surprised Brian by inviting Jeff, Drew and Harold to dinner that night. The group sat around Brian's dining room table talking and eating. Brian was only uncomfortable with Jeff being there for a few minutes. After the initial jealous feelings he calmed down and actually listened to what Jeff had to say. It had been days since Brian had been to his parents' house so what Jeff was reporting was new to him.

"He's finally walking on his own but he gets tired pretty fast," Jeff was saying to Leighanne when she'd asked how Skyler was doing. Brian had kept silent and waited for someone to bring Skyler's name up. He was surprised that it was Leighanne however.

"I'm sure he's very happy to be up and about again though," she said with a smile.

"His headaches are what scare me," said Kevin, adding another voice to the Skyler conversation. "I'm worried about him to be honest. I don't like these headaches."

"He has them less and less though," said Jeff. "He didn't have one at all today or yesterday."

"Has he been able to take over the care of Preston?" asked Leighanne, and Brian still remained silent.

"As much as possible," said Drew. "He gets tired faster when he's taking care of Preston but Cassie is always around to help him."

"Preston is a precious baby," said Kevin while AJ nodded. "I love holding him."

"I took the time to stop in yesterday and hold him for a while," admitted Leighanne, shocking Brian. "He's so tiny and cute."

"He won't be tiny long," laughed Jeff. "Believe me they grow super fast!"

"Don't I know," laughed Harold. "But it's so great to watch them grow and discover the world around them."

"Spending time with Skyler and Preston reminds me what I gave up because of my fears," said Kevin, making Brian choke on his milk.

"Excuse me?" Brian gasped as he stared at his cousin.

"Yes," said Kevin, looking around the table. "Skyler and I were in a relationship for a short time. I fell in love with him and it scared the hell out of me. We ended things mutually and remained friends. It was right before he started seeing JC."

"You and Skyler?" Brian asked, staring still.

"Brian, it had nothing to do with you," said Kevin, looking at his cousin with pleading eyes. "You were already engaged to Leighanne when this began."

"Oh but I bet you didn't wait even a full day before moving in on him," spat Brian hatefully as he glared at his cousin. "Tell me, did you secretly rejoice when I began to doubt myself and move into Leighanne's arms? Did you just revel in the fact that I was out of the way? How long did you wait before you decided you had to have Skyler for yourself?"

Everyone was silent as they stared at Brian. Leighanne was silently crying as she saw her worst fear become reality. Her husband was in love with Skyler. Of course she'd suspected this but knowing it, having it thrown in her face was so cruel. She didn't think she could stand this. Yet it was Kevin who replied.

"Brian, it wasn't . . ."

"Shut up, Kevin," spat Brian. "And get the hell out of my house!"

The next chapter will be posted soon.