William took a moment to recover from the suggestions.
The important person James referred to was probably his aunt Victoria Quinn. How did James know he felt like throwing up at the thought of telling her that he was gay?
Aunt Victoria was Eliza's mother and his father's sister. She was his only relation left on his father's side and despite now being an adult, he was still a little scared of her. If he managed to come out to her successfully, he would feel like he had conquered the world and could tell anyone.
It was a valid suggestion from James and would likely change all his self-esteem issues.
As for the second...
He didn't know if he was ready for that.
William was fully aware that something wasn't right about his parents' death. They had died the day before his eleventh birthday and he'd been too young to understand much about it at the time. All he knew was that he couldn't go home anymore and they weren't in his life anymore. They were just a grave in the cemetery.
The death of his parents had been a banned subject matter in Victoria Quinn's household and he had remained ignorant until he was much older and looked up the case on the internet.
Knowing that had happened to his parents might give him some closure and he accepted the suggestion. But if investigators from the time had failed to find anything, what could he do now?
"You think I should come out to Aunt Victoria?" he asked to make sure they were on the same page first.
"She was an important figure in your childhood and is your father's only living relation. I think if she accepted your orientation you would feel much less self-conscious."
There was a large problem with that suggestion and he knew James was aware of it as well.
"You're assuming that she would accept me being gay."
Aunt Victoria was very strict and old fashioned. Eliza had learnt her empathy and warmth from her father and certainly not her mother. Uncle Brian was the opposite of his wife and had doted on William when her back was turned.
"I am aware of that issue," James admitted. "However, you have left her household and are outside of her influence now. If she doesn't like it, you can at least feel a little freer about it and know you had the courage to come out to her."
James was right. He needed to give it a try. If he never told her, he would never know what she would say.
"I will consider it," he promised. "About the other suggestion..."
"It's too much?" James guessed.
"No, I think it's impossible," William corrected. "It's been twelve years."
"I didn't mean it quite like that. You won't be able to solve a twelve year old case that was closed at the time for insufficient evidence. I just want you to understand that they didn't commit suicide and leave you alone."
One of his fears growing up had been that they hadn't loved him anymore and had killed themselves to leave him behind alone. He hadn't told anyone this in case they told him he was right. He wouldn't have been able to cope with that. It appeared that James knew him better than he had thought.
"Let me tell you now, they didn't kill themselves," his butler promised him.
"How can you be so sure?"
William felt like he had reverted to his younger self when he asked that question. He had always been too afraid to ask anyone if they thought his parents had committed suicide. He wouldn't have been able to cope if the answer had been an affirmative.
"They had planned a lavish birthday party for your birthday the following day and they were perfectly content with life. They had lots of holidays and special events coming up. The company was certainly not in trouble and they were planning that merger with Charles Confectionery. Suicide doesn't fit with all that."
He hadn't known about all of that and it allayed some of his fears. He should have talked to James about this before, he had been too scared to before. He was now regretting a lot of things.
"Where was I that day?"
He had no memories from around that time apart from knowing he didn't have parents anymore. It had been a surprise to him that he had been able to eventually remember meeting Noah.
"You were with me," James said immediately. "They told me to take you out for ice cream so they could set up the decorations for your birthday party the next day. When we came down the drive in the evening, I saw smoke…"
William tried to remember that and completely failed. Maybe it was better he didn't remember seeing his house on fire.
"I know you don't remember anything and I want you to know you don't have to. It's for the best. It was a harrowing time," James said and his eyes were distant. "It upset me as well."
That was something he had never considered. James had always been an imperturbable butler to him. He had also lost his employers twelve years ago. William realised he had been a little selfish assuming that he was the only one that had been traumatised by it.
"Why do you think they died?" he asked after giving James time to recover from the reminiscence.
"It should have been an accident. The manor was in urgent need of repairs," his butler told him. "The place was full of fire hazards and we were planning to have some things updated."
"So, you don't think it can be murder?"
As much as he didn't like to think of someone hating his parents enough to murder them, he had to admit it was a possibility.
James was very quick to veto that suggestion.
"They were on good terms with everyone. There weren't any threats against them. The police went through a lot of people in the investigation including Mr and Mrs Charles. They couldn't find anyone with a strong enough motive."
William understood why Noah's parents had come up as suspects. They had technically been his parents' business rivals and it wasn't unheard for business rivals to get vengeful.
"There wasn't anything in that route of investigation," James continued on. The manor was in ruins so they couldn't tell if it was an accident either. No one knows what it was for sure."
"What did you talk about with James? You were a while," Noah said when William finally made his arrival.
William had been so long that his laptop had gone to sleep. He noticed how pale William was and began to get worried. William was usually very pale, but right he looked a little green and faint. What had James said to him?
William sat down on the sofa and rolled his head back.
"I'm fine. I just need to relax," he said with a sigh. "I don't want to talk about it for now."
Noah took the hint and dug around in his bag for something he had prepared at the pâtisserie before William invited him.
"I made you some macarons earlier."
William's eyes fell on his neatly wrapped bag of pink macarons. He perked up and Noah inwardly breathed a sigh of relief. He opened the bag and took out one of the heart shaped macarons.
"Here you go. Just make sure to brush your teeth properly."
"Thank you for looking after me."
That wasn't something that William normally said. Maybe James didn't want them living together and that was why William was off with him.
"Does James not want to me to live here?"
William looked confused for a moment and then he shook his head.
"No. He doesn't mind. In fact, he says he wants to retire when we're settled and I'm better."
Noah was relieved to hear that. If James didn't want him in the house then he would have to follow that wish. He owed James for looking after William and supporting him. As for the retirement, he wasn't surprised as he had guessed that from his own conversation with James the night before.
"I'm glad to know that. Should we get started so we can go to bed at a decent time?"
The next hour passed by in contentment for Noah as William snuggled up next to him and seemed to be doing better the more they watched.
"When am I officially moving in?" Noah enquired when the episode had finished.
"Whenever is convenient for you," William grinned. "I'll let you have a day off from work."
"You are too generous," Noah teased. "I'm need my boyfriend to take a day off to help me as well."
Would William agree to take a day off?
"I don't have many important things coming up. I have a suitable day next week," was the reply.
Noah looked carefully at his boyfriend. His face was completely calm and he appeared to be happy with his answer.
"Are you okay with taking a day off?"
"If you keep asking me, I won't be."
That was enough of a confirmation for Noah. He was going a good job with William. The William Quinn of two weeks ago would have never agreed to that. He knew that his previous week's holiday had been enforced by James otherwise William would have dragged himself to the office and then they wouldn't be dating now.
He bent down and gave him a kiss on the lips. Their relationship was still in an innocent era and he was taking it slow. His kiss was well received and it became a make out session.
"Are you staying the night?" William asked when they were finished. "It's late."
"Am I?" Noah teased.
"You are," his boyfriend confirmed. "The guest bedroom is still set up for you."
William awoke to the shrill sound of his alarm clock and hastily turned it off. He had slept better than he'd expected after the revelations of the previous day. In fact, his sleep had been dreamless. He had been expecting a few nightmares at least.
Maybe the happy time with Noah had outweighed his conversation with James.
He sat up in bed and began to plan his next steps.
Aunt Victoria was Eliza's mother. He could ask his cousin if her mother was okay with gays and hope she said yes. If she said her mother was a flaming homophobe... he wasn't sure what his next step would be.
Victoria Quinn had never aired any opinions on gayness when he had lived with her. However, it wasn't a well discussed subject at that time and she would have probably declared it an unsuitable topic for the dinner table like most things were.
He wondered yet again how someone like Eliza could come from her. They were the complete opposite of each other.
Eliza had already known he was gay so her reaction had been non-existent when he had let it slip. What would her mother be like?
He felt extremely nervous at the thought of telling his aunt, but he knew he needed to take the next step so he could live his life without feeling guilty and worthless.
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