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Reid and Five Women

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Monday – Lucinda

Reid was at his desk perusing Mr. Anderson’s medical records and eating a peanut butter, banana and marshmallow cream sandwich. The trick was to slice the bananas lengthwise instead of across. Suddenly, La Walsh grandly swept into the room. The light scent of Eau de Money enriched the air [enriched, ha!]. Luke’s grandmother, Lucinda Esteban Guest Walsh Dixon Jingle Heimer Schmidt etc., etc., exuded the kind of wealth and privilege that had always raised Reid’s hackles. But coming from Luke’s devoted grandmother? It was sort of amusing and charming.

Reid rose to greet Lucinda. She kissed him lightly on the cheek.

“Darling, I’m so glad I caught you in your office,” purred Lucinda.

“Glad I was caught,” said Reid. “Whatcha got there?” Reid asked referring to the garment bag and shoebox that Lucinda carried.

“It’s a tuxedo and a pair of dress shoes for you,” replied Lucinda.

“Are we giving each other random and unnecessary things now?” asked a puzzled Reid. “Would you like my stapler remover?”

“So amusing,” cooed Lucinda “I need you to be my escort to the Illinois Committee for the Arts dinner tonight in Chicago. We’re having a fund raiser for arts programs for public schools across the state.”

“I would rather stab out my eyes,” muttered Reid. “If you’re desperate for a Plus One, make your boyfriend take you. Dixon likes all that frou frou crap. He’d probably go with you even without you promising debauched sexual favors.”

“John has a consultation in Miami,” advised Lucinda. “I’ll just have to make do with you as my arm candy. I assumed you wouldn’t have time for a fitting by tonight so I’m afraid you’ll have to settle for off-the-rack. Such a shame. I would love to see you in something well-tailored.”

As Lucinda’s appraising eyes swept over Reid’s body, he fought the urge to cover his junk with his hands.

“But you should see Luke’s tailor and get it fitted for events in the future,” advised Lucinda.

“Can’t do it,” said Reid shaking his head in mock regret. “Too much work to do. Guess you’ll just have to hang out in front of the Men’s Room at the Lakeview and troll for a date like the good ol’ days.”

Lucinda smirked. “I checked with your admin. You were in at six a.m. this morning to perform some sort of surgical miracle. If I pick you up at seven that’s a thirteen-hour day you’re working. If you need to work more than that then obviously you’re not competent enough to be Chief of Staff.”

“Hey!”

“Oh, don’t be a bore, darling. Things really run so much more smoothly when people just do what I tell them to do.”

Reid managed to look completely unimpressed by Lucinda’s dream of having a world where everyone bent to her whims. Instead of the reality where only 99% of the world bent to her whims.

Lucinda sighed at having to actually explain to Reid why he needed to accept that he needed to do what she asked [demanded]. “One, many of the art patrons that you’ll be schmoozing with this evening are also philanthropists who donate money to things like, oh, I don’t know . . . hospitals. Two, a couple of the committee’s members are well-known doctors who you might want to recruit to the hospital. Three, the event is being catered by a caterer that makes the best crab puffs in the world. Four---”

“Stop. You had me at crab puffs.”

Lucinda sniffed daintily and smoothed Reid’s collar. “We’ll have a marvelous time. Plus, I won’t have to tell me darling grandson that his very handsome boyfriend is an utter monster who won’t do me one little, tiny favor. I’ve never tried it, but I’m pretty sure I could cry on command.”

Reid narrowed his eyes at Lucinda. “I seriously doubt that you’d ever let anyone see you cry. Unless Al’s Diner stopped selling milk shakes.”

“They do have good milk shakes,” agreed Lucinda. “I figured that you could shower here. I’ll pick you up here in your office at seven o’clock on the dot. Shave and wear that after-shave that Luke bought you. Your old after-shave smells middle class.”

Lucinda swept out of the room. Reid unzipped the garment bag to get a peak at his brand spanking new tuxedo. Reid wasn’t exactly a slave to fashion so it looked like every other tuxedo he’d ever seen. Black. But he suspected that Lucinda had gone for something that the other tuxedo-wearing men he’d meet tonight would instantly recognize as unbearably classy and elegant. They’d suffer horribly from the fashion envy. Reid always liked to cause feelings of inadequacy in others.

Since Reid was an incredibly important man, he put the la-di-da party out of his mind and went back to work. Reid performed a handful of consults where he once again demonstrated his unparalleled diagnostician skills. He had a couple of staff meetings where he demonstrated his brilliance and insight. He only made one person cry all day. Luke would be so proud.

Before he knew it, it was time to gussy himself up for his big night on the town. Reid had showered and dressed and had about fifteen minutes before Lucinda showed up. He decided that since Luke was an early riser, it was probably late enough to call him.

Luke picked up on the first ring.

“Miss me?” Luke asked cheerfully.

“Huh, I was trying to reach the pizza place and must have hit your number by mistake,” lied Reid.

“You missed me,” said Luke knowingly. “I miss you, too.”

“So, how’s it going at the Meeting of the Unstoppable and Omnipotent Juggernaut that’s trying to control the world?” asked Reid while trying to check out how his butt looked in the tuxedo via his reflection in the glass cabinet in his office.

“You mean the American Medical Association?” asked Luke pretending to be confused.

“Hey! Just because the AMA expects health care disciplines to follow rigorous testing and protocols instead of recognizing voodoo practicing quacks as real medicine---”

“But I’ve been hearing some really good things about how yak hair and eagle talon shakes can really boost your immune system,” said Luke

Reid huffed. “You’re not as funny as you think you are.”

“I’m a laugh riot,” replied Luke. “Hey, Reid?”

“What?”

“Do you think that someday you’ll love me as much as you do the AMA?” asked Luke coyly. Reid could hear the smile in Luke’s voice. He loved that.

“Fishing for compliments, Luciano?”

“Naw. Don’t need to. You missed me so much that you called me before I was even gone 24 hours. You big gooey marshmallow.”

“I’m telling you I really thought I was calling the pizza place,” grinned Reid. “So, how is the Money Fest going? Are you still being ridiculous about feeling out of place?”

“It’s not ridiculous to realize that I’m out of my league here at the World Economic Forum. Everyone here is successful and powerful and smart and about three decades older than I am. I don’t belong here.”

“You’re running an international shipping company which has its metaphorical oars in dozens of countries. You belong there with the rest of the power-mad cabals soullessly deciding the economic fate of the future.”

“It’s more about networking than it is about soullessly controlling fates,” explained Luke. “And Grimaldi Shipping should be represented here as it does have a global economic impact. But everyone knows that I just fell into running it. And everyone knows that I have a bunch of advisors helping me make the decisions that need to be made.”

“Which is what you high-powered executive types are supposed to do. Lucinda said that you’re doing a good job of surrounding yourself with smart, capable people and that you’re doing great at making the right decisions.”

“My grandmother isn’t going to go around telling people that I’m a big idiot when it comes to business and that I’m going to run Grimaldi Shipping into the ground,” said Luke.

Reid decided not to mention to Luke that Lucinda hadn’t had any compunction in telling him that Lily was a big idiot when it came to business and that she had been running Worldwide Industries into the ground before the most recent coup at Worldwide Industries.

“If you were in over your head, Lucinda loves you enough to be honest with you. She thinks you’re doing extremely well even if some of your decisions have been more conservative ones than she would have made in your shoes. But she’s putting that down to you not wanting to make big changes until you know everything about the business.”

“Well, if anyone gives me a hard time, I’ll just tell them that my grandmother thinks I’m a very smart boy,” said Luke ruefully.

“Everyone there probably knows your grandmother personally and probably owe her a couple dozen favors anyway. You should throw her name around and bludgeon people with it if anyone treats you disrespectfully,” advised Reid.

“I’m not going to hang onto my grandmother’s apron strings,” said Luke who then let out a laugh.

“What’s so funny?”

“Well, I’m actually about to meet Cal and some of his oilmen buddies for breakfast. So I guess I’ll be hanging onto my great grandfather’s apron strings this morning.”

“I didn’t realize Cowboy Cal was gonna be there. See, you have someone there to make sure you’re not a big wallflower,” said Reid. “Plus, Ambrose III is representing Worldwide Industries at the Moolah Summit so you’re probably already better connected than a lot of people there.”

“I’m not really worried about not having anyone to talk to.” sighed Luke. “I just wish I had the experience and education to have really earned being here. And I know that experience is gonna come in time. And that I should just stop being a big whining cry-baby about it.”

“You’re doing fine at the Big Shot CEO thing,” assured Reid. “Being underestimated is one of your best weapons right now.”

“Huh. You know, it really is,” said Luke. “Hey, instead of getting pizza, why don’t you try that new Middle Eastern place on Delaware Street. You can be the guinea pig to see if it’s any good.”

“Can’t tonight,” said Reid. “I have a big date tonight with a sexy blonde.”

“Are you referring to your right hand as a sexy blonde?” asked Luke.

“Nope. Your granny somehow managed to convince me to go to some big fancy art fundraiser deal in Chicago with her tonight. I think she might have hypnotized me. Did I cluck like a hen during our conversation at all?”

“Wait a sec. Grandmother invited you to the Illinois Committee for the Arts fundraiser? I’ve been going to that with her for the last few years,” huffed Luke.

“Are you jealous that your granny asked me to be her arm-candy?” asked Reid.

“I’m pretty sure that arm-candy doesn’t glare as much as you do,” muttered Luke.

“Ha,” crowed Reid. “You are jealous! Don’t worry. I’m sure that Granny still loves her little peanut. It’s not like you could have gone anyway since you’re out of the country.”

“It’s not like I expect her to be devastated that I wasn’t available to take her or anything but she didn’t even mention the event to me the last time I saw her,” mumbled Luke.

“It’s not you. It’s her. Your grandmother just feels like she needs to be free to platonically see other men right now.”

Luke laughed. “Okay. Maybe I’m being a little childish to be jealous that my grandmother is seeing other men.”

“Maybe?” asked Reid.

“Hush,” admonished Luke. “It’s weird that the two of you like each other so much.”

“Why’s it weird? We’re both amazing.”

“I meant that it’s wonderful that the two of you are such buddies,” corrected Luke. “Wonderful not weird. Fortunately it’s not as though each of you is a huge force of nature who happens to be a control freak. Because people like that don’t usually get along.”

“It is a good thing that Lucinda and I are such easy-going charmers,” said Reid. “I have about 10 minutes before your Grandmother picks me up. Want to have really dirty phone sex?” asked Reid.

“I’m in the lobby of the hotel waiting to meet Cal,” said Luke.

“Is that a no?”

“It’s an ‘Ew, no,’” answered Luke.

“Ah, the honeymoon is over,” said Reid. “So, is your great-great-great-great granddad going to take you out for ice-cream and a pony ride after breakfast?”

“No, we both have pretty full schedules. The men we’ll be having breakfast with are all guys that Cal started out with as wildcatters so they’ll probably have some pretty adventurous stories. Maybe I’ll try to impress them with the story about the time that I camped out in the den. I don’t want to brag but I didn’t even use a nightlight.”

“You probably don’t want to boast about your courageous adventure. It’s unseemly and will make them jealous,” smiled Reid.

“You’re probably right,” agreed Luke. “Hey, Cal’s here. Gotta go. You know I love you, right?”

“Yeah. Love you too.”

Lucinda arrived a mere moment after Luke and Reid hung up. Reid was relieved that Luke had turned down the opportunity for phone sex.

Reid and Lucinda headed off to the Chi Town. Reid wanted to drive because of his deep interest in automotive engineering. Not because he was a rigid control freak. However, Lucinda insisted on having her driver take them. Reid stopped complaining when Lucinda opened up the bottle of champagne and unpacked the lobster rolls.

During the drive, Reid and Lucinda entertained themselves and each other with their acerbic observations of the many ridiculous people that they knew. Reid couldn’t wait for the chance to torment Hank with his newfound knowledge about Hank’s recurring transvestitism.

Reid had a much better time at the fundraiser than he had anticipated. There were the normal amount of idiots that appeared at all social gatherings but Lucinda was merely amused instead of appalled by Reid’s discussions with the various vacuous cretins who were foolish enough to say stupid things to Reid.
Most of the cretins attending the event argued back instead of running away crying, he didn’t have to apologize to anyone, which was the greatest gift of all.

At one point, Reid and Lucinda were speaking with one blue-blooded, blue-haired socialite who looked like she was going to punch Reid. But she didn’t, so he counted it as a win. For some reason, she had taken offense when Reid had explained to her that her choice to spend vast amounts of her fortune to preserve Georgian architecture was selfish. He explained to her that true philanthropy was about saving or enriching lives. He explained that when Luke decided on projects for his foundation, he carefully weighed how much good could come out of a particular project versus it’s costs. He gave her several examples. He tried to explain to the woman that Georgian architecture had never saved anyone’s life and that her giving money to things that only interested her and twelve other people was completely masturbatory.

“I bet that you’re the type of person who’s bequeathing most of your fortune to your Pekinese,” sneered Reid.

The woman’s facial expression switched from anger to amusement. “It’s actually my Chihuahua, Mr. Hugs. Lucinda, I’m pretty sure I despise your young escort but I can’t say that he wasn’t interesting. Call me next week for lunch.”

After the woman walked away, Lucinda slid one of her arms through one of Reid’s.

“I must say that it was just adorable listening to you brag about your boyfriend,” smiled Lucinda.

“I wasn’t bragging about my boyfriend,” muttered Reid. “I was using him and his foundation as an example to prove to someone that their complete idiocy. Adorable. Pfft.”

“Adorable,” argued Lucinda. “Your being utterly besotted by my sweet grandson is adorable. As is his complete adoration of you. Look, there’s Marvin Clutter. He’s dreadful. Let’s go make him uncomfortable.”

Not long after making Marvin Clutter uncomfortable, Reid and Lucinda decided to call it an evening.

Since Reid had an early surgery in the morning, Lucinda had him back home by the stroke of midnight. It was like a fairy tale where Cinderella was a cranky but brilliant neurosurgeon and the Fairy Godmother was an incredibly wealthy and domineering businesswoman. The only glitch was that Prince Charming wasn’t even at the ball. Reid fell asleep smiling over the thought of Luke dressed up as fairy tale prince.

 

Tuesday – Emma

Reid was enjoying his peanut butter, marshmallow cream and Captain Crunch cereal sandwich [he was out of bananas], when there was a gentle knock on his open door. He looked up to see Luke’s grandma Emma at the door. He got up to greet the smiling woman. When Emma entered the room, she enveloped him in a gentle hug. Even though he wasn’t really comfortable with this sort of thing, he hugged her back cautiously. He then gestured for her to take a seat and he sat down across from her.

“Is this a bad time?” asked Emma.

“Not at all,” Reid assured her. “What can I do for you?”

Emma tapped the fingers of one hand against her knee. “You and I haven’t had a chance to really get to know one another.”

Reid nodded. Even though Reid felt that he had gotten to know Lucinda pretty well since the time he and Luke had started dating, he and Luke’s other grandmother hadn’t spent a lot of time together. It seemed like she was always visiting one of her children out of state. If one of them was no longer healing from a broken leg, then another one was suffering a complete psychotic break that necessitated institutionalization. It was always something with Emma’s sons and daughters. Well, maybe not Seth. So far Reid hadn’t heard of any recent dramas concerning Emma’s eldest son but he wasn’t going to bet any money on Seth not someday contracting some mysterious virus that hadn’t been seen since the middle ages or being kidnapped by Albanians. ‘Cause Snyders equal drama.

“Is this where you ask me what my intentions are towards your grandson?” asked Reid with a raised brow. “’Cause I gotta tell you that not even Holden’s given me one of those lectures.”

Emma smiled gently at Reid. “No one has to ask about your intentions about Luke.”

Reid was puzzled. “Why not?”

“When you think no one’s looking, you gaze at my grandson like he’s a miracle.”

Reid was resolutely not blushing. “Er, uh, he’s okay I guess.”

Emma nodded knowingly. “Yes, he is. You’re probably wondering why I’m here in the middle of the day.”

“I figured you were going to get to it sooner later,” said Reid.

“Well, Luke previously mentioned that he wished that you had some kind of relaxing hobby because your job’s so high-pressured. This morning it occurred to me that I know of a hobby that you might like,” said Emma hesitantly.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have Luke around to worry about me. But I really don’t think I need a hobby. But it’s nice of you to think about helping me get one and I’m appreciative of that fact and don’t want to hurt your feelings,” babbled Reid.

Emma tilted her head. “Are you under strict instructions to be nice to me?”

Reid huffed a laugh. “How’d you know?”

“I’ve heard the stories about Dr. Reid Oliver while drying the tears. But you’ve always been so polite with me. But it’s insulting to both of us if you have to pretend to be someone you’re not whenever you and I have a conversation,” instructed Emma.

“Huh. I don’t think anyone’s ever been bothered by me being polite before. I’m pretty sure that Luke’s instructions are only supposed to be insulting to me. I think it’s a sign of you being so special to Luke that I’m not allowed to be mean to you.”

“I’m suddenly a little nervous about asking you to be yourself,” said Emma.

Reid grinned. For the first time, Emma realized Reid was a very handsome man.

“You know, I’ve never seen Luke as happy as he’s been since the two of you started dating. He also seems more confident. You’re good for him,” said Emma.

“I am good for him,” bragged Reid cheerily. Emma smiled.

“Anyway, I’ve thought of a hobby that you’d be really good at. You’re probably going to think that it sounds boring but I think if you give it a chance, you might really enjoy it.”

“What is it?” asked a curious Reid.

“Knitting,” said Emma.

A look of horror crossed Reid’s face. “I don’t think that knitting is really for me.”

“Surgeons are dexterous, You’d probably excel at knitting.”

“I guess I could give it a try if it’s something that you’d like me to try. But I can’t promise that I’m going to like it or anything,”

“I’m so happy you’re willing to try it. Faith and Holden are both staying at Lily’s tonight so I’m having my knitting circle out to the farm tonight. Why don’t you arrive about seven or so?” suggested Emma.

“Tonight? That’s kind of soon. I was thinking maybe sometime in the future,” stammered Reid.

“There’ll be food,” smiled Emma.

“Well. Okay then. See you at seven,” said Reid. Emma and Reid hugged farewell.

Reid decided to forget about the fact that he was going to be forced to knit and went back to work. There were patients to cure and Dr. Susan Stewart to convince that she wanted to be the point person in regards to updating Oakdale Memorial Hospital’s website. The current website was pretty sad. Reid thought it could be a tool to provide people with the information they needed to live healthier lives. It should be interactive and wide-ranging. The website could be invaluable. It would be a lot of work but Reid felt that Dr. Stewart would do an excellent job in amassing the best team possible to work on the project.

Shortly before it was time to head off to the Snyder Farm, Reid called his boyfriend.

“I am so proud of you,” greeted Luke.

“For being able to dial a phone?” asked a puzzled Reid.

“No. For wooing such a big donation from Les Walters,” said Luke.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” said Reid.

“I received an email from Les Walters about how impressed he was by your impassioned speech about the importance of affordable health care. He’s giving the Foundation a six figure donation for use on Oakdale Memorial,” said Luke. “He was just blown away by how brilliant and caring you are.”

“I have no idea who Les Walters is,” said Reid.

“You spent a half an hour last night speaking to him about the immorality of only the rich having access to the best of the newest medical technologies,” explained Luke a little wearily.

“Oh, the guy who smelled like cream cheese,” realized Reid.

“The man is one of the wealthiest industrialists in the United States, Reid. And to you, he’s the guy who smelled like cream cheese?”

“He did smell like cream cheese!” defended Reid.

“I suppose that with your obsession with food, it’s probably a compliment from you if you think people smell like food,” laughed Luke.

“When you get back, we should leg wrestle over how to spend the money,” suggested Reid.

“Sure,” said Luke. “Did you have fun with Grandmother last night?”

“Yep. Lucinda and I are like this,” said Reid. “You can’t see it but I have my fingers crossed tightly in order to provide a visualization for you of how close Lucinda and I have become. You hanging out with Grandpa Stricklyn today at the Wealth Capades?” asked Reid.

“Actually, I’m having breakfast with Manuel Ortez and some of his colleagues,” said Luke. “Then the afternoon and evening are packed with meetings and seminars about taking over the world. I mean, financial matters. Yeah, that’s it. Financial matters..”

“Who’s Manuel Ortez? He’s not cute, is he?” asked Reid. He knew that world domination wasn’t nearly as important as the possibility of Luke having breakfast with somebody cute.

“He’s the finance minister of Montega,” reminded Luke. “You and I met him at Aunt Sierra’s wedding. Remember? He was staying at the royal palace along with the family.”

“I was too freaked out by being on the set of Evita to concentrate on meeting foreign cabinet members,” said Reid. “I kept expecting everyone to break out into song.”

“If you’re comparing my aunt to Evita, make sure you’re picturing Patti Lupone instead of Madonna,” suggested Luke. “Aunt Sierra loves Lupone.”

“Gotcha. By the way, you should know that Grandma Emma is appalled that you expected me to pretend to be nice around her. You’ve hurt her feelings and the only thing that will save you from the doghouse is me having the freedom to be me around her,” said Reid.

“You didn’t do your weird ‘This is my approximation of a friendly smile’ thing to her, did you?” asked Luke. “Because that’s scary.”

“I’ll have you know that we got along delightfully. Also, she seems like a tough bird who wouldn’t be hesitant to smack me down if I had somehow managed to accidentally insult her,” said Reid.

“So what were you doing with Grandma Emma? She’s not sick, is she?” asked Luke worriedly.

“Naw, she just stopped by to invite me to her knitting circle tonight,” said Reid.

Luke laughed. “Puh-lease. If Grandma invited you to her knitting circle, all hell would break loose.”

“Why?” asked a puzzled Reid.

“Oh my god! Were you serious when you said Grandma invited you to her knitting circle?”

“Maybe?” said Reid hesitantly.

Luke huffed. “Grandma’s knitting circle is just for her and her best friends. No family allowed. There was a huge to-do when my Mom and Aunt Carly wanted to join. Dad and Uncle Jack tried to talk Grandma into letting Mom and Aunt Carly join and it just annoyed the heck out of Grandma.”

Reid puffed up. He liked being special. “Are you jealous that you weren’t inviting?”

“I’ve never been interested in learning how to knit so it never crossed my mind to want to join Grandma’s knitting circle,” said Luke snootily.

“But now that I’m invited, it’s all you can think about, isn’t it,” taunted Reid.

“Yes, you big jerk,” laughed Luke. “But I’ll get over it. Eventually. I mean, it’s sweet that Grandma likes you enough to want to include you in her circle of friends.”

“To be honest, I’m not sure it’s because she likes me as it is that you’ve let her think that I’m in desperate need of a hobby and she’s trying to be helpful,” confessed Reid.

“I can’t believe you let my grandma talk you into taking up knitting,” said a puzzled Luke.

“Well, I’m just going to try it out. And even if it does, somehow, manage to be something I want to pick up, there’s no guarantee that Emma’s gonna invite me to any additional knitting circle meetings,” said Reid.

“You might be invited back if you refrain from telling anyone that they smell like cream cheese,” snarked Luke.

“No promises,” said Reid. “So, phone sex . . . ”

“I’m in the lobby of a restaurant waiting for Manuel Ortez. So that would still be a no. But my love for you is still strong.”

“That’s reassuring,” said Reid. “Love you, too. I’ve got to go then because I don’t want to be late to the Top Secret Super Special Knitting Circle that’s only for awesome people.”

Reid smiled at Luke’s laughter and hung up.

Reid stopped at the hospital florist and picked up a shabby, yet still too expensive, bouquet to give to Emma and then drove out to the Snyder Farm.

When Reid arrived at the farm, he was a little surprised to see that Emma was the youngest of her friends. By about two decades. He was even more surprised to discover that they were all just a little bit buzzed on Dorcas O’Reilly’s homemade dandelion wine. He shrugged and sat down between Dorcas and Hazel Moran. While Emma plated up some food for Reid, Hazel insisted on getting him started on his first knitting lesson. Emma had bought Reid some needles and some yarn to start off with.

To his surprise, Reid really enjoyed the evening. First of all, Reid seemed to pick up knitting skills really quickly. Second of all, he didn’t even have to boast about how quickly he was learning because all of his new knitting buddies oohed and aahed over his innate skill. He liked that. A lot.

Reid stopped drinking after one glass of the homemade wine [pesticide?] but found it amusing to watch a gaggle [school? herd?] of elderly women getting drunk off their collective asses. These women had obviously known each other for decades. They had shared each other’s lives, their triumphs, their heartaches. They’d worked hard and had raised families. They’d earn the right to occasionally hang out with their friends to knit, gossip and get drunk.

After a few hours, Reid decided that he had better go. He had an early morning surgery the next day. He didn’t have to pretend to be appreciative when he thanked the women for letting him join them for the evening and for teaching him the basics of knitting. He offered to drive any of the women home who needed a ride but they had all made plans to spend the night at the farm. Emma was gonna make blueberry pancakes for breakfast.

Emma walked Reid to his car. Reid gave her a shy smile. “Thanks for inviting me. I don’t know if I’m going to stick with knitting but I had a great time tonight.”

Emma hugged him. “I’m glad, sweetheart. I loved having you here. You drive carefully.”

When Reid got home, he placed his partially knitted scarf on the bedside table. He fell asleep thinking that Luke was going to look really good in that shade of green.

 

Wednesday – Natalie

Reid had just finished a consult with one of his less whiny patients when he saw Luke’s youngest sister in the hallway looking around excitedly.

“Whatcha doin’ Young Snyder?” asked Reid.

Natalie let out a squeal. “Looking for you!”

“Want me to cut open your skull?” asked Reid as that was always his favorite interaction with people.

“Not today,” replied Natalie. “Maybe for my birthday, though?”

“You amuse me, young one,” said Reid.

Natalie grinned.

“What are you doing at the hospital?” asked Reid.

“It was time for my annual physical,” said Natalie with a slight grimace.

“Not a fan of routine and preventative health care?” asked Reid.

“I’m fine with health care,” said Natalie. “But my doctor was off today for family reasons and I had to see Dr. Chris.”

“Do you have a problem with Chris Hughes? Did you do something to make you feel uncomfortable?” asked a concerned Reid.

“No!” exclaimed a guilty looking Natalie. “He didn’t do anything wrong. I shouldn’t have said anything. I just was thinking about you being Reid not as you being his boss or anything. I wasn’t trying to get him into trouble or anything.”

Reid pulled Natalie into an empty room. “Hey, even if it wasn’t my business to know how my doctors treat their patients, I’d still want to know if you were having a problem with someone. Tell me.”

“It’s stupid,” said Natalie biting her lip. “He didn’t do anything wrong. I just like my doctor better. She doesn’t talk to kids in that phony, jovial way that some grown ups talk to kids.”

“Does Chris talk to his patients that way?” asked Reid. “I thought one of his selling points was that he was good with kids.”

Natalie looked as uncomfortable as anyone had ever looked before. “It’s not Dr. Chris’ fault that I just prefer a different . . .style of doctor.”

Reid didn’t like the fact that he was making Natalie uncomfortable with the idea of ‘tattling’ on her doctor so he decided to let her off the hook. And to figure out later if the ‘pediatrician that kids don’t like’ thing was an issue that he’d have to resolve somehow. He knew that he didn’t always make his patients feel as comfortable as he should but a pediatrician really should be someone that kids could feel comfortable with.

“Okay, I’m not going to keep making you feel uncomfortable by forcing you to list all of the reasons why you so obviously hate Chris---”

“I don’t hate Dr. Chris!”

“But if you do ever feel like talking about it, you can. Any time you want to,” offered Reid.

Natalie beamed. “Wanna hear why I was looking for you?”

“You’re on a treasure hunt and you needed to find the handsomest man in Oakdale?” guessed Reid.

“Yes,” nodded Natalie. “Do you know where Paul Ryan is?”

Natalie giggled while Reid pretended to look offended. Although Reid absolutely knew that he was better looking than Paul.

“Just kidding,” said Natalie. “I don’t know if you know this but I usually try to save most of my allowance until I have enough saved up so that I can do something really cool with it.”

“Seeing as how you’re Lucinda’s grandchild, I assume that when you save up enough, you buy really cool Treasury Bills,” said Reid.

“No,” grinned Natalie. “I’m a kid. I get a kid’s sized allowance.”

“I’m glad that you’re not being raised as one of those rich brats.”

“I won’t be rich until I turn twenty-one. Then I’ll be loaded.”

Reid was amused. “So what really cool thing have you saved up enough for that you wanted to tell me about?”

“Grandma said that Luke’s making you find a hobby,” exclaimed Natalie.

“Luke isn’t making me do anything,” muttered Reid.

Natalie ignored his muttering.

“I have enough money saved so that you and I can go out to Mabel’s for hot dogs, you can have three of them and a large drink, and then we can go to Ceramics Circus and buy mugs to paint,” said Natalie. “Maybe that could be your new hobby.”

Reid looked at Natalie’s excited, happy face. She had Luke’s sweet smile. There was no way in hell that he was going to be able to tell her that painting ceramic mugs wasn’t the most brilliant idea of a hobby ever.

“That sounds like fun,” lied Reid. “But it’ll be my treat, okay?”

“No,” Natalie stated firmly. “It won’t be special unless I treat you.”

“The fact that you want to hang out with me and help me find a hobby is special enough,” assured Reid.

Natalie shook her head. “It has to be my treat.”

Reid bounced his hand against his thigh nervously. He was pretty sure that if he let a kid spend her allowance on him, it would be the final proof that anyone needed that he was a monster of the foulest kind. On the other hand, it seemed really important to Natalie. Maybe she had the same genetic mutation that had turned Luke into a philanthropist.

“Then I would be very appreciative of hanging out with you, you big spender,” said Reid. “Will you be driving too?”

“Only if you’ll let me drive your car.”

“What time should I pick you up?”

“How about seven?”

“Sounds like a plan. So did someone bring you to the hospital for your check up?”

“Mom did. She had to drop me off but she’s meeting me in the lobby in five minutes,” explained Natalie.

Reid’s pager went off. He looked at it. “Gotta go. See you tonight.” Natalie cheerfully waved goodbye to him and headed to the lobby to meet her mom.

Shortly before it was time to go pick up Natalie, Reid called Luke.

“Did you have fun at the knitting circle?” greeted Luke.

“Sure. After we sacrificed the goat, we went skinny dipping,” said Reid.

“That is both really funny and really gross,” said Luke.

“I like to multi-task,” shrugged Reid. “Truthfully, I had a nice time. It felt nice to have Emma take me under her wing, so to speak. How’s the Rich Folk-palooza going?”

“I’m actually having a pretty good time. The people I’m meeting are interesting and I’m learning a lot. I mean, I could do without the fact that everyone’s looking at me like I’m a Little Rascal and that they want to ruffle my hair whenever I talk about global economics and social responsibility but it’s still a valuable experience.”

“Good,” said Reid. “What are you up to for today?”

“I’m going to have breakfast with Beppe Balbi this morning and then---”

“Beppe Balbi? Is that the name of the secret identity of a superhero?”

“Yes. If you consider being the finance minister of Malta as a superhero,” said Luke.

“If I was an accountant, I probably would,” said Reid. “Whatcha gonna do after breakfasting with good ol’ Beppe Balbi?”

“Meetings with the Maritime Trade Association,” replied Luke. “How about you?”

“I had a surgery this morning, and my rounds,” said Reid. “Natalie stopped by before my afternoon consults. Apparently if I don’t allow her to buy me a hot dog tonight and then let her pay for us to paint ceramics, it’ll mean that I hate her. So those are my plans for after work tonight.”

Luke was silent for a moment.

“What?” asked an amused Reid. “Please tell me you’re not jealous of your little sister buying me a hot dog.”

“Not jealous,” muttered Luke. “It’s a good thing that Natalie wants to hang out with you. I like when people like you. Because of it being such a rare thing.”

“You know that she looks at you like you’re the smartest, sweetest big brother in the world, right?” asked Reid.

Luke sighed. “I know. I’m a moron. It’s fine. Really. It really is a good thing. I promise. I’m over my little jealous snit and I apologize for being so immature.”

“It’s not a problem,” said an amused Reid. “You know, it’s pretty cool that I’m collecting some allies within the Snyder Collective.”

“It is,” agreed Luke. “Hey, Beppe’s here. I gotta go. I love you even though my family loves you and we can’t ever be star-crossed lovers.”

“If it makes you feel better, your folks still don’t like me,” said Reid. “And I love you too.”

Reid and Luke hung up. Reid drove to the Lilypad and was relieved when Natalie came to the door herself. He didn’t think he could handle small talk with Luke’s alternately overprotective and self-involved mother without having Luke there as a buffer. Reid felt flustered by the way Natalie grinned at him and took his hand in hers when they walked to his car. The kid just flat out liked him. What was he supposed to do with that?

After Reid parked the car in Mabel’s parking lot, Natalie led him into restaurant. He’d never actually been in Mabel’s before but he didn’t have high hopes for Oakhell being capable of creating a decent dog. Natalie led Reid to a table. When the waitress came along, Natalie asked Reid if it was okay that she ordered for him. He said sure. He’d always admired the take-charge type. Natalie ordered herself a Zeus dog [a frankfurter with sauerkraut and relish] and a ginger ale. She ordered Reid a cola and three different types of dogs so that he could fully experience the possibilities. The Apollo dog was a frankfurter with chili and cheese. The Athena was a frankfurter with coleslaw and pickle. The Aphrodite was a frankfurter with hot peppers, sauteed onions and brown mustard.

“Are you enjoying your new job?” asked Natalie.

“I like bossing people around,” shrugged Reid.

“What’s the thing about the job that’s surprised you the most?” asked Natalie.

Reid thought for a moment. It was a good question and deserved an honest answer. “I think I’m surprised by how much I want to give each of the departments everything they want. I’m getting everything I want to make the neurowing the best in the world so I feel like every other department should be able to get everything they want to.”

“It must be tough to prioritize everything though,” said Natalie.

“It is,” agreed Reid.

“Of course, the neurowing should be the first priority because that’s the most important department,” said Natalie with a solemn expression but twinkling eyes.

“It is,” agreed Reid again. “How’s school going? Are you smoking in the bathroom and using cheat sheets for tests?”

“Yep. I’m a bad girl,” nodded Natalie. “I’m thinking of buying a pink jacket like the bad girls in the movie Grease.”

“Wow, that is bad,” said Reid dryly.

The waitress returned with their orders. Reid discovered that although it was impossible to get decent sushi, dim sum or tandoori in Rube-dale, it was possible to get amazing hot dogs. He grinned around a mouthful of food at Natalie. She blushed at the obvious sign of approval.

While they shared their meal, Natalie told Reid funny stories about her classmates and Reid told Natalie thrilling tales about brain surgery.

After the meal, Natalie proudly paid their bill. She carefully calculated a 20% tip. She must have learned that from her older brother. Luke believed that even bad service deserved 15% and that good service deserved 20%. Reid thanked Natalie for their meal.

Natalie and Reid then went to Ceramics Circus where they picked out mugs to paint. Natalie decided to make a mug for Grandmother Lucinda. Natalie painted butterflies flitting about the mug. Reid was secretly entertained by the idea of the powerful Lucinda Walsh receiving arts and crafts projects from her grandchildren until Natalie casually mentioned that Lucinda’s home office was liberally decorated with dream-catchers and clay vases and Popsicle-stick picture frames that were all made by her various grandchildren. Reid supposed that even Ghengis Khan kept homemade tchotchkes from his grandkids around the hut.

Much to Natalie’s consternation, he wouldn’t let her see what he was painting on his mug until they were finished. Eventually he let her see that he had painted the words, “I have the best boyfriend in the world” on the mug. Natalie sighed and said that it was very romantic. When Reid told her that it was obviously for Luke, she laughed so hard that she had trouble catching her breath.

When their evening was over, Reid drove Natalie home. He walked her to the door and thanked her for the nice evening. He actually initiated their goodbye hug.

“I’m glad you’re Luke’s boyfriend,” Natalie told Reid before she went into the house. Huh.

When Reid got into bed that night, he imagined the expression that Luke was going to make when Reid gave him the mug. Reid grinned.

 

Thursday – Faith

Reid was at his desk eating a peanut butter and peanut butter sandwich [he was out of anything other than peanut butter to put on a sandwich and was really going to hit the grocery store soon]. There was a knock on the door and Luke’s sister Faith strode in without waiting for an answer to her knock. She had already entered Reid’s office and sat her butt down on his desk before he swallowed the mouthful of sandwich in his mouth.

“Shouldn’t you be in school?” asked Reid.

“I have a free period,” said Faith.

“Are you allowed to leave the school grounds during your free periods?” asked Reid with suspicion.

Faith shrugged. “Why don’t we subscribe to ‘Don’t ask. Don’t tell,’ when it comes to my minor behavioral issues, okay?”

“Normally, I’d be okay with ignoring your hoodlum antics, but if Luke was here, he’d probably want to address if skipping school is a cry for help or something,” said Reid.

“You are so whipped,” smirked Faith.

“Am not!” spluttered Reid.

Faith made the universal sound and hand/arm motion indicating that Reid was whipped as if that would prove it.

“What are you doing here, Annoying One?” asked Reid.

“Operation Find Reid a Hobby,” said Faith.

Reid stifled a groan. “Fine. Let me guess, Extreme Origami.”

“How would one make origami extreme?” asked Faith.

Reid shrugged. “Don’t know. Maybe have someone shoot paint pellets at you while you’re trying to dodge and fold the paper into a crane?”

“Um, no. I’m thinking that your new hobby should be trying new restaurants. You and I can try that Korean place over on Amsterdam Avenue,” said Faith.

“I’m allowed to count eating as an official hobby? Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that?” huffed Reid.

Faith rolled her eyes. “Pick me up at seven at Mom’s. It’ll be my treat.”

Reid hesitated. “It’s really nice that you want to spend your allowance on me but---”

“Pfft,” laughed Faith. “Mom’s giving me her credit card to use for tonight.”

“Lily’s letting you use her credit card to take me out?”

“I slammed a few doors,” explained Faith. “Mom basically gives me anything I demand if I slam a door or two. Don’t know how I’m expected to learn any valuable life lessons if I’m actually rewarded for poor behavior.”

Reid tapped his fingers against his leg. “Slamming doors probably scares the munchkins.”

“Oh, I don’t do it around them. But I figure that since drama with a capital D is like oxygen to Mom, that it’s fair game around her.”

“Well . . .I guess if you’re both fine with communicating that way then it’s not my place to try to fix that. It isn’t, is it? I’m not supposed to be an adult and try to resolve your wacky familial relationships, am I?” asked a worried Reid. “Luke will be back in a few days.”

“You can stop panicking, Doc,” smirked Faith. “It’s just the way it works between us. It’s fine. Wear a suit.”

“I didn’t think that the Korean place was fancy,” said a surprised Reid.

“It isn’t but I don’t go out with scruffy looking guys,” said Faith. “I have a reputation to uphold. I’m willing gain a completely different type of reputation if you have an interest in wearing tight, black leather pants.”

“No black leather pants,” said Reid. “Go away now so I can work.”

Faith grinned and strutted out of his office.

Reid buckled down and got quite a lot accomplished before it was time for him to check in with the mister.

“Did you have fun with Nat?” greeted Luke as he answered his phone.

“Sure. It was okay that I explained to her what sodomy was, right?”

“Oh my God!”

Reid laughed. “I can’t believe you fell for that. You’re such a sucker.”

“You are a huge jerk,” laughed Luke.

“I’ve always believed that you should strive to be the best you can so I like to think I’m the world’s best jerk. Anyway, Natalie and I had a great time. She’s a very sweet kid.”

“She is,” agreed Luke enthusiastically. “I’m so lucky to have her as my sister.”

“So did you have a good time yesterday with your seafaring friends?” asked Reid.

“The meetings with the Maritime Trade Association were invaluable,” said Luke. “After the meetings were over, I went out to dinner with some of the protestors. That was probably the most fun I’ve had all week.”

“What protestors?” asked a worried Reid.

“The normal anti-globalization protestors,” said Luke. “They generally show up at the WEF every year. They’re pretty cool. Very politically and socially active.”

“And they know that you’re the Capitalistic Pig enemy?” asked Reid.

“Sure,” said Luke. “It’s not like I go undercover to try to trick people into thinking I’m someone other than who I really am. It’s possible to disagree with people and yet still enjoy them.”

“I’ll have to take your word on that. I rarely enjoy the people I agree with let alone my natural enemies,” said Reid.

“I don’t really see anti-globalization, anti-capitalism folks as my enemies,” huffed Luke. “I think it’s possible to combine capitalism with social awareness and living an ethical life.”

“And these hippies didn’t pelt you with rocks and garbage when they found out that you’re a wealthy tycoon?” asked Reid.

“Even when you disagree with someone’s viewpoint, if you listen to them and treat them with respect, then they’ll listen to you and treat you with respect,” said Luke.

Sometimes, Reid didn’t have a clue what world Luke lived in. But he was completely in love with Luke, so what was he gonna do?

“If that works for you . . . ” shrugged Reid. “Hey, are you gonna get all weirdly jealous if I tell you that I have plans with Faith tonight?”

Reid almost laughed at the sound of Luke’s sigh.

“Have you been playing me all along?” asked Luke. “Do you actually have copious amounts of social skills that you just keep carefully hidden when I’m around?”

“Exactly,” said Reid. “I actually pay random people to just punch me in the face occasionally so that I can keep up appearances.”

“I apologize if I’m coming off as jealous or unappreciative of the fact that you get along with so many of my family,” said Luke. “I think you’re amazing and I’m glad that my family sees you for who you really are underneath all of that stuff you tend to hide behind. And I love my family so I love sharing you with them.”

“Thank you,” said Reid. “I’m not sure why your grandmothers and siblings don’t seem to get upset over the stuff that I say and do that makes most people want to run screaming from the room but I’m glad they don’t. Anyway, enough of the schmaltzy stuff. If you’re not here to sex me up when we’re being all sincere, it just freaks me out.”

Luke laughed. “What are you and Faith doing tonight?”

“We’re going to that Korean place for dinner,” said Reid. “We’re counting eating as a hobby.”

“You could probably go pro.”

“Now isn’t the time to talk about my fellatio techniques, Snyder,” said Reid with mock seriousness.

Luke laughed. “I’ve got to go. I’m meeting some of my fellow philanthropists for breakfast. Have fun tonight. Love you. And I’d love you even if you were lousy at fellatio.”

“Love you, too.”

Reid drove to Lily’s house, hoping that he’d manage to avoid small talk with Lily. He was in luck as Faith answered the door and didn’t even invite him in as she called a quick “I’m out of here” to her mother.

During the ride to the Korean restaurant, Reid listened as Faith spoke about the trauma of being a teenager. Fortunately she didn’t need much feedback.

After they settled into their seats in the restaurant, Faith leaned forward. She had an earnest expression on her face that Reid wasn’t used to with her.

“I just want to say that you’re doing a good job with Luke,” said Faith.

“I know,” bragged Reid. “Let’s talk about how great a boyfriend I am. That could be my new hobby.”

Faith snorted. “I like that you always make Luke feel like you actually like him and want to be around him.”

Reid frowned. “You have really low expectations regarding what makes a man a good boyfriend, don’t you.”

Faith shrugged. “Maybe a little. But I don’t think Luke actually had that with Noah so I’m happy that he has that with you. He deserves to have someone who appreciates him. He’s special.”

Reid nodded. “He is. I’m probably going to be mess up a lot of stuff but I promise to try not to mess up on letting him know that I appreciate him. If we talk about mine and Luke’s relationship, we’re not going to have to talk about that creepfest that’s going on between you and Parker, are we?”

“He’s not my cousin!” frowned Faith. “How many times do I have to explain it to you?”

“I’d be really happy if no one ever tried explaining the Snyder lineage to me ever again. ‘Cause it’s messed up.”

The waiter came by and Faith placed both her and Reid’s order. When Reid raised his brow at her arrogant assumption [which he secretly thought was cool], she shrugged and explained that she had done some research on the Internet the night before.

After the waiter left, Faith explained to Reid that she and Parker were completely unrelated biologically. Reid still didn’t quite get why he seemed to be the only one in the world not disturbed by the Faith/Parker relationship but he liked the moody and sarcastic Faith enough to decide to stop giving her a hard time about it. But he decided that it wouldn’t hurt to quote a few statistics about sexually transmitted diseases. It seemed to be the ‘brotherly’ thing to do.

During their meal, Faith and Reid had a lovely time mocking their fellow Oakdalians. Somehow, Faith seemed to know everybody’s secrets. She loved the fact that Reid encouraged her gossip instead of lecturing her about glass houses and ordering her to go to her room. She also loved the fact that Reid wasn’t averse to casually diagnosing the mental illnesses of people who weren’t his patients. Given that his specialty was neurology, Faith wasn’t sure how much credence to give his diagnoses [although she agreed with his diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder for most of Oakdale’s citizens], but he sure was entertaining. At one point, Faith snorted soda out of her nose, which caused Reid to start laughing like a hyena and the waiter to frown.

At the end of their evening, Reid drove Faith home. He thanked her sincerely for the lovely evening and was surprised that she blushed. She kissed him on the cheek and went inside, no doubt to criticize her mother for some real or imagined offense.

Reid crawled into bed as soon as he got home. He picked up the partially knitted scarf that lay on the bedside table and worked on it a little bit more before he decided to go to sleep.

 

Friday – Lily

Reid had just left the most recent, interminable board meeting when he ran into Lily Walsh. He sighed. No good could come from this.

Lily approached Reid with a cool smile and kissed him lightly on the cheek.

“Reid, it’s just lovely to see you.”

There was no doubt in Reid’s mind that she was lying through her teeth.

“Hi,” said Reid. “What do you want with me?”

“Charming. Just charming,” sighed Lily. “I’m well thank you for asking.”

“The last time we were alone in a room together, you told me not to get my hopes up that things were permanently over between Luke and Noah,” said Reid. “You’re just as rude in your own way as I am.”

“I was trying to show you genuine compassion,” complained Lily. “Luke and Noah have always gotten back together and I didn’t want you to be hurt when it happened.”

“You are about ten different kinds of crazy,” said Reid. “And I’m saying that because I’m trying to show you genuine compassion.”

“Look, we’ve gotten off on the wrong foot. I admit that you and my son appear to be a solid couple and that Noah’s no longer in the picture.”

“That’s big of you,” Reid said sarcastically.

“You and I are going to be in each other’s lives forever,” warned Lily. “We need to force ourselves to warm up to each other somehow.”

“No, we don’t,” said Reid. “There’s no rule saying that we have to like one another.”

“Well, I’m sure that Luke won’t mind that you’ve turned down my offer of an olive branch,” said Lily while gazing at her nails. “I’m sure he’ll understand that although I’m making an effort to spend time with you that you have your own mysterious reasons why you’re refusing my offer of a free dinner.”

“My reasons aren’t so mysterious,” muttered Reid. “I’ve told him that I think you’re dreadful.”

Lily raised her eyebrow at him expectantly.

“Dinner? You paying?” asked Reid.

Lily sighed. She had no idea what her son saw in this man.

“Meet me at the Lakeview at eight,” ordered Lily. “We’ll have dinner and bond over our shared love of my baby.”

“I’m not wearing a tie,” threatened Reid. That’d show her.

Reid went back to work, ignoring his impending doom. Well, not so much doom as sheer boredom and/or aggravation.

After work, Reid returned home. He had just finishing showering and was dressing for his ‘somebody else is paying’ dinner when he called Luke.

“So did you and Faithie have fun?” asked Luke when he picked up the phone.

“Do you ever say ‘Hello’?” asked Reid.

“Hello,” intoned Luke. “Did you and Faith have fun?”

“Yes, we did,” declared Reid. “I’m pretty sure that I’ve decided that trying a new restaurant every week is going to be my official hobby.”

“And when you run out of Oakdale restaurants in three weeks?” asked Luke with fake concern.

“Darn you and your ability to count,” said Reid blandly. “What are you up to, today?”

“I’ve got about five minutes before I have to head out to meet with a prospective client for Grimaldi Shipping,” said Luke. “What about you? It’s Friday night there. Are you gonna party like a rock star?”

“I’m having dinner with your mom so it’s more like partying like Barry Manilow,” said Reid.

“Is this you trying to freak me out?” asked Luke.

“Ha! No, I wish. Apparently, Mama Walsh thinks it’s time for us to bond over our shared love of every atom of the precious Luke Snyder,” said Red.

“I know that she gets on your nerves, Reid,” said Luke. “But she’s my mom. Can you just try to concentrate on that? I don’t expect the two of you to become best friends but if the two of you could manage to be civil to one another, I’d really appreciate it.”

“Appreciate it enough to play Hot Firemen when you get home?” bargained Reid.

“Sure. I’ll even play it with you,” offered Luke. “Hey, I gotta go. I’ll see you in a couple of days.”

“Love you,” sighed Reid.

“Love you, too, Fireman Reid.”

Reid drove the Lakeview for his dinner with the Lily-monster. He was on his best behavior all evening. After all, he really enjoyed playing Hot Firemen.

 

During the appetizers [shrimp remoulade for Reid, oysters poached in absinthe for Lily], Lily burst into tears while recalling the funeral that was held for Holden and Luke when they were believed dead after their kidnapping when Luke was a young boy.

During the soup course [minestrone for Reid, turtle soup for Lily], Lily burst into tears while recalling how Luke almost died after his kidneys had failed.

During the entrees [pecan-crusted trout with roasted vegetables for Reid, salmon cassoulet for Lily], Lily burst into tears while recalling how terrified for Luke she had been when he had come out to her as a gay man.

During the dessert [peach pie with vanilla ice cream for Reid, chocolate cake for Lily], Lily burst into tears while recalling how cute Luke had looked dressed as a fireman for Halloween when he was six.

After dinner, Reid walked Lily to her car. He was absolutely drained. He got it that Lily felt things deeply and loved her kids with all of her heart. But, man, was it exhausting to be around. He wearily let Lily kiss him goodnight and headed home.

Later, Reid crawled into bed. As he lay there, he thought about how much Luke was a product of, and a reaction to, his family.

Although most people never seemed to notice it, Luke definitely had some of Lucinda’s confidence and arrogance. Reid still got excited thinking of the way Luke had blackmailed him or the way he had forced his way onto the hospital board. Fortunately, Luke hadn’t inherited Lucinda’s ‘The end justifies the means’ type of morality.

Luke definitely had some of Emma’s old-fashioned values. Whereas Holden’s inherited Snyder morality often manifested itself into unearned self-righteousness, Luke’s had manifested itself as an actual desire to make the world a better place.

Reid wasn’t positive where Luke’s genuine sweetness came from but Natalie definitely shared that quality with him. Reid was bothered by the idea that it was inevitable that Luke and Natalie would sometimes be heartbroken over the discovery that sometimes people just sucked and that you had to write them off.

Reid felt a certain kinship with Faith due to her hardened [and sarcastic] shell. Trusting people wasn’t any easier for Reid than it was for Faith. Reid imagined that Teenage Luke had reacted to the Snyder family drama much the same way that Faith was doing now. Anger was easier to express than fear and guilt and heartache. Reid could see that Faith was going to blossom once she got some space from her parents’ relationship.

Much to Reid’s consternation, he could see that Luke had inherited Lily’s emotionality. Fortunately, Luke had learned how to deal with his emotions in a way that Lily hadn’t seemed to. Lily’s emotions were just exposed for everyone to see and to deal with. Luke used his emotions for good instead of evil. Or in Lily’s case, for attention.

All in all, Reid had had a good week. He’d missed Luke but he could see that it was probably a valuable thing that he had got to spend some time with Luke’s family and to get to know them a little better. Even Lily.

Luke was a family man. These people really would be in Reid’s life for the rest of his life. And Reid wasn’t scared of that at all.

But he’d definitely use Luke as a human shield at family gatherings.