A Second Chance, Part III -- Life Must Go On
(Copyrighted by the author)
Co-Author & Editor: Radio Rancher

This is a story of love between men. As such, there is some sex but it is really more about their relationship. If you're into romance, I hope this story pleases you. There are also some minor children in this story but there is no graphic sex between them and no sex between children and adults.

The following story has to do with graphically explicit sexual descriptions of sexuality between consenting adults. It is intended for the entertainment of mature adults, is entirely fictitious, and is only intended to be a fantasy. The names are fictitious as well. Any similarities to actual persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. If you are not, at least 18 years old, please do not read any further down in this story.

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at dinggrey@gmail.com

Chapter 23

"Richard, are you there? Hello! JC are you there, come on dad, answer me! Little Colt, come in please?! Come on Richard, are you there? God pop, answer me please?!" Colt said hurriedly with a worried look that was evident to Matt. "Shit, Matt this is serious, I'm getting scared."

Matt looked at Colt with a worried but shocked expression, and said, "What happened? Did we loose radio contact?"

"Yeah, it seems we have, I'm going to check with air traffic control and see if they have them on radar." Colt said to Matt.

Matt keyed his microphone, saying, "Little Colt, this is Buckaroo, come in, please. Awww, Damn it, Come on dad answer us! Richard are you there? Please God, let them answer us!" Matt pulled out his cell phone, saying, "Let me try calling them on this thing! Maybe their radio is out or something." He first dialed JC's cell number and got his voice mail, then he tried Richard's cell number and got his voice mail as well. So then he tried calling the ranch; the phone rang a couple of times then Julie answered it.

"Hello, this is the Lazy L, Julie speaking."

"Hi Julie, this is Matt, and I was just checking the cell phone, to make sure we are getting out." He was worried and Julie noticed.

"What's wrong son? You sound worried?" Julie questioned in her soft warm voice.

"Yeah, we sure are, Julie. We lost radio contact with Little Colt, and Colt and I are both worried. I need to get off the phone right now, hon. I'm sorry I had to get you worried too. Just let Mike know we should be home within the next couple hours, and we will fill you all in then." Matt ended the call, closing the cell phone. About this time, Bill came into the cockpit and saw the worried looks on the boys' faces.

"What's wrong, guys?" Bill said, with a nervous tone in his voice.

Matt looked over his shoulder and said, "Well, we were just on the radio talking to Richard and Pop, in Little Colt, and we lost contact with them, and we are getting closer to them, not farther away, and that's got both of us very worried."

"Richard is flying him, right?" Bill asked, looking worried himself, now.

"Yes he is!" Colt snapped back, "Sorry about that, Bill, I'm just really on tinder hooks here; something has gone wrong, I just know it."

Colt switched frequencies to the air traffic controllers' call channel, and requested information on Little Colt. He gave them their last known location and asked if they still had them on radar. He was not at all pleased with the answer he received. They came back, sounding grim, giving him the time that Little Colt dropped off radar, which was about the same time that the boys lost radio contact with Little Colt. Now Colt was really getting upset, but his concentration was that of a well-seasoned pilot; he had his job to do and he was doing it well even through his worry and fear.

James and I knew what had just happened, of course, but all we could do for the boys was send our strength to them and guide them through the trying times that would follow. Both of us were doing just that, and sending our love and our most comforting thoughts to them as well.

Colt turned to Bill and said, "Air traffic control, just told me they dropped off radar at the same time we lost radio contact. God, I hope they are okay, the FAA is sending out some coast guard ships and some planes to see if they can find any trace of them, as soon as the weather permits." Colt had teary eyes, but was not crying, he had a plane to fly right now, after all, and others were depending on him to get them home safely.

Matt broke down more than Colt, saying, "Oh God Colt, I'm scared something really bad has happened to them, please God, keep Richard and dad safe." He wanted so bad to be with his pop right then.

Colt stayed on the radio with the FAA and the Coast Guard as much as he could. However, he had his own aircraft to fly and get back to the ranch. The remainder of the flight back home was a worrisome time, to say the least. The weather was so bad in fact, that they could not land back at the ranch. There was no way to see the runway and make it visible, so they had to fly into Casper airport, which of course was equipped for foul weather landing, since it was a commercial airport. Matt had called Larry on the cell phone, to make sure that he would have a vehicle waiting for them as soon as they landed. Then he called Mike, to tell him what had happened. He told Mike, that as soon as they got home they would fill them in completely on everything they knew. Of course, Mike was worried as much as the boys were, to say the least.

After landing, Larry had the vehicle waiting at the stairs of Buckaroo, waiting for everyone to deplane and climb in, out of the nasty weather. Larry said, "This is a very bad storm, guys! This is only going to get worse." He was smiling until he saw the worried looks on both Colt and Matt's faces. Then he said, "What's wrong boys?"

Matt spoke up first, saying, "We're scared to death, Larry, that something terribly bad has happened to JC and Richard. Their plane dropped off radar over Lake Superior, while we were on the radio with them. And no one has heard from them since." He was holding Colt so tight that Colt had a hard time breathing.

"Oh my God! I didn't know anything about that; I'm so sorry boys!" Larry said, with a shaking voice.

Colt said, "Larry, could you please drop us off at the ranch first, then take everyone else home. We want to be the ones to tell Mike, and Andrew, for that matter, what is going on. The boys were both fighting hard to hold back their tears.

As soon as they arrived at the ranch, both Colt and Matt jumped out of the vehicle and ran as fast as was humanly possible into the house, yelling, "Mike oh God! Poppa Mike! Where are you?" as they entered the living room, they saw Mike, Andrew and Julie all standing, around, waiting for them. As soon as they saw their Poppa Mike, they both broke down and the tears began to flood down their faces, running to him and throwing their arms around him, hugging him tightly.

Needless to say, everyone feared the worst. Words cannot express how bad James and I felt about what they were facing. Even though we already knew the outcome, we really couldn't do much more than send them comforting, loving energy, and try to calm them, as best we could. Weather conditions remained treacherous for quite some time, making rescue attempts almost impossible. That lake is huge. Talk about looking for a needle in a haystack. You couldn't even see the haystack. Many things would be learned from this, one of which is; never take weather for granted. Lives are more important than any schedule.

Julie had a great meal ready for everyone, including Richard and JC, whom she wished were there, right then, she had said many prayers for them, and she was still hoping they were okay and would soon be found.

Mike, Andrew, Colt, Matt, and Julie sat down at the dining room table to eat dinner. It was strange, she had already set the table earlier in the day, and there were two empty places at the table, which only emphasized the absence of JC and Richard. However, no one said a word about it, but there were many glances at the two empty plates. No one felt like eating, they all, including Julie just poked at their food, nibbling on a tidbit here and there, as they chatted about the current situation and no one wanted to admit to what they all were thinking. Finally, the boys got up and helped Julie clear the table and clean up the kitchen. This in a small way helped them push the thoughts of two missing members of the family out of their heads for a short time. Nevertheless, any time free of the haunting thoughts were a relief to them.

As the family gathered to await the results of the search, many words were spoken and people who were not in the least guilty of causing the tragedy, absorbed much guilt. If there were any good things that could be said to come from this terrible thing, they would be the wonderful family ties that were being forged, and that the family grew much closer together.

That night was absolutely horrible. Mike, Colt, Matt and of course Andrew were being comforted by Julie, who was trying very hard to control her own emotions with only limited success, but by bedtime, Mike looked at his boys and said, "Would you two mind if Andrew joined us, in bed tonight? I don't think he could take a night alone." He had tears still showing in his worried eyes.

Julie looked at her two boys and realized that they were not boys any longer, but were two fine young men, loving each other with all their hearts, and wanting to help Andrew endure the pain of his loss, said, "I think that would be a wonderful idea. You all need each other more then ever right now." She had a worried but tender expression on her grandmotherly face.

Colt and Matt said almost in unison, "Sure he can!" They both were a bundle of frayed nerves right then, but they needed each other for sure, just like Julie had said.

Once in the bedroom the two boys got out of their uniforms and helped Mike and Andrew out of their clothes. They all headed into the shower and let the relaxing stream of the hot water drench them of the outward pain of their inner thoughts. There wasn't a thought among them all, of doing anything other than crawling into bed, cuddling up with each other, and trying not to dream bad dreams.

James and I made sure they slept as well as they could, which was not easy even for us to do considering the circumstances, but we were able to keep their dreams confined, for the most part, to ones of the fun that they all enjoyed as a family. We had to work very hard at keeping the bad dreams out of the boys minds. For they were truly missing their dad, and of course Andrew was missing Richard terribly, as well.

The next day the storm continued almost unabated, with still no word from the FAA or the US Coast Guard. Everyone was still beside themselves with worry. Colt and Matt wanted to take Buckaroo and fly back up to St. Paul to be closer to the searchers, but Mike, Andrew, and Julie advised against it. After all, the weather was bad at home, as well as around the lodge, and there would be nothing they could do but worry and get in the way.

The bigger planes would be useless in a search and they didn't have a small plane to help with. This of course didn't set well with the boys, but they also knew their poppa Mike was right.

They did go out and get Buckaroo, and fly him back to the ranch, during a break in the storm. They wanted him home, and ready to go in a moments notice if JC and Richard were found. Colt talked with Matt, and they both had made a decision that there would be a new runway built at the lodge. They blamed the fact they had to use Little Colt for too long of flights. On the short runway there. Moreover, the small plane couldn't handle the weather like Cowboy or Buckaroo could have. They had called the lodge and told Joel about JC and Richard. Everyone at the lodge was devastated at the news. Both Kevin and Jerry were now blaming themselves for causing Little Colt's loss, but Mike convinced them that what had happened would have happened no matter whether they would have been with them or not.

Joel was okay with the idea of extending the runway, and increasing its capability to handle the 737's, also adding the needed fuel tanks and all the other requirements of the Canadian Government. Therefore, the work would start as soon as the weather at the lodge would permit it, which wouldn't be until spring time now, with the ground frozen solid, and concrete wouldn't set properly at those temperatures.

Colt had called, over the next couple days, about getting a replacement plane for Little Colt, it was hard for him to do, and poor Matt was just a bundle of nerves, His pain was deep, and he wasn't able to function very well at all. The boys were now running the company quite well, and of course, without JC's help. It wasn't very hard actually, for they were trained well by their dad. However, it was difficult, not having him there to bounce ideas off of like they used to do. They had always been able to use him as their sounding board. It was dawning on the boys that they were very capable young men, even as the enormity of the task was thrust upon them. Bill being home, and Janet, along with Earl and Jack, being in England, made running the company a little less stressful for the boys. Nevertheless, they wanted their dear friends home with them again, right now.

Earl and Jack were having their own issues with the news of JC and Richard being lost. They wanted so bad to be home with their dearest friends, Colt and Matt, in fact, they were going to leave very soon and would be back at the ranch tomorrow.

The sound of Cowboy was soon heard the next day just after lunch, landing at the ranch. Earl and Jack made a bee line for the house to find Colt and Matt sitting in the living room kind of down in the dumps, still with no word on there dad or Richard.

Earl just said as he ran up to Colt grabbing him in a hug saying, "I'm so so sorry brother, I miss them too!" he had glassy eyes where he had been crying.

Jack ran to Matt and hugged him saying, "Oh God, I'm sorry brother of mine. We both have been a complete wreck since we heard." He was also glassy eyed. It wasn't hard to tell they were very upset, and missed not only their adopted dad, but their mentor as well.

Just at that moment the phone began to ring; Julie answered it, then came into the living room and told Mike, "There is a call from the US Coast Guard for you."

Mike took the call in the office, of course he had Andrew, Colt, Matt, Earl and Jack all standing in the middle of the office as he spoke to the person on the other end of that call. Julie was standing in the doorway, trying not to cry, for the men folks sake, she knew she was going to have to be the strong one for them.

"Hello, this is Mike Andersen speaking." He said, with a head full of worried thoughts, but he was still hopeful for good news. At the same time he saw everyone standing in the office with him, so he said, "You don't mind if I put you on a speaker phone do you, sir?" as he said it he pushed the button and the speaker came to life.

"This is Lt. Summers, no that's okay with me sir, but I am afraid we don't have good news. We have found wreckage of what seems to be a small plane. There were no identification markings on the small fragment we have found. All we know is the color was white with gold and black stripes on it. Also we found a white western hat that was floating near the wreckage."

"My god, that's all you found?" Mike stammered, trying to hold back the anguish he felt in his heart at that moment.

Both Colt and Matt let out a gasp, saying almost at the same time. "NO! God, No!" They were holding each other so tight.

Earl and Jack just put their heads in their hands, and began to cry.

"Yes sir, the wreckage wasn't very big either, about 2.5 feet by 3 feet, with the edge of a window frame as part of it. The hat was floating near by, was anyone aboard the aircraft wearing a white cowboy hat, sir?" He asked, knowing how hard it was going to be on the people he was talking to.

Colt spoke up saying, "Yes sir, that was my dad's favorite hat, if it has a gold diamond shaped leather band, with a gold buckle on it?" He was now in tears, as he spoke.

"Well this hat seems to match your description, sir. We'll get it to you as soon as we possibly can." Lt. Summers said, with deep sorrow in his voice.

"I want you to keep looking for more of the plane and possibly a life raft, will you do that for us. The cost is no problem for us, sir, the company will pay for any additional expenses you might incur." Mike said without even looking at the boys, let alone asking if the company would do that, for he knew they would.

Colt said, "Yes, by all means, please keep looking."

James and I knew all too well that they would never find more of the plane, or any trace of JC or Richard. We both sent strong thoughts to them all, telling them what we knew to be the truth. We continued to push hard at sending those thoughts to them, along with our deepest love and support, for the next few minutes.

Earl must have felt our thoughts, for he went to Colt and Matt and said, "I don't know how to tell you this my brothers, but I just had a strange feeling pass through me, and it tells me you all should stop looking." He continued bawling, in deep racking sobs, now.

Colt shivered with a very cold chill, and said, "Earl, I just got that same feeling, and it's so hard to s... s... stop l... looking." He too couldn't hold his composure any longer, and began to sob.

Mike began to weep, and said, "Lt Summers, I somehow know it is not going to do any good but I just can't help it; I need for you to keep looking, and please, send us anything more you do find. But I am afraid my partner and Richard are gone, and nothing more you can do will bring them back. But I will always have hope in my heart, sir." He then broke down completely, to a point where the boys had to help him to the couch. There wasn't a dry eye in the crowd.

"Well we will keep looking for anything we can find. All I can say is I am so very sorry for your loss. You have the condolences of our unit and all the volunteer searchers. I will call again if there is anything else we find or hear. Again, please know that I am so sorry for your loss." Lt Summers said, as he hung up the phone, breaking the connection. Pretty soon there was the sound of the phone not being hung up because no one pushed the button. Julie finally walked over and hung up the office phone, with tears streaming down her face.

There were no words spoken by anyone there, for a long time. People were holding each other in each others arms, trying to understand how such a terrible thing could happen.

Mike and Andrew were sitting together holding each other in a loving embrace, with tears flowing like a river, James and I squeezed down beside Mike and Andrew and, one of us on each side of them, and began to enfold them in our loving embrace. Although we couldn't take corporal form, at that time, we knew they were feeling our presence, from the way they slowly began to calm down and breathe more evenly. Once they were more calm, we released them. I don't know for sure, why James and I went to Mike and Andrew first, but, maybe it was because they each had lost a partner, and that especially Andrew had no one he could hold or be held by, except for Mike. Matt and Colt still had their Poppa Mike, and each other, even though it was a great loss for both of them, it seemed to us, that Mike and Andrew may have needed our help first.

While everyone's eyes were filled with tears, they all seemed to be finding it a little easier to breathe. James and I separated, we each headed to one end of the room, and slowly made our way to each person in the room, holding them lovingly, and trying to ease the pain of their loss, as best we could. James moved over to Colt and Matt next. They were in each other's arms in much the same way as Mike and Andrew had been.

He kissed each of them gently and sent them his love. I was at the other end of the room giving comfort in a similar manner, to Earl and Jack. Julie was amazing. She was crying too, but she kept moving slowly around to each of the family members in much the same way that James and I were doing, giving comfort wherever she could. Finally, I managed to notice her standing alone, leaning against the wall. I moved in close, and gave her a loving hug, and kissed her gently, as I sent her my thanks for all her help and love that she gave so freely, to the family that she had become such an important member of. James and I knew that with our help and Julie's incredible love and strength, our wonderful family would continue to prosper.

Later that night Joel, accompanied by Aaron, Kevin, and Jerry all got on a speakerphone and called the ranch, wanting to talk to the Andersen family. Wanting ever so much to know what had happened to JC and Richard, they were still in the dark about the whole situation, and hadn't been told anything up to now, other then both men were still missing. Colt and Matt were the ones to answer the call, and they filled them all in on the latest news. The fellas at the lodge were all totally devastated at today's news. Colt and Matt could hear the crying on the other end of the conversation, along with their own sorrow, it didn't make for a very pleasant conversation.

Colt, before ending the call, said, over the phone, "I would like for all of you, yes Joel you, Aaron, Kevin and Jerry, to come down here very soon. Please think about it, and we will let you know when. A lot will depend on what happens here in the next week or so. But please prepare for a trip down to the Lazy L." Colt was looking a Matt for his approval, which came in the way of an approving nod, and a smile, something that had not happened at all since they first lost radio contact with Little Colt.

Over the next several days, things at the ranch were slowly, ever so slowly, starting to calm down a bit. Julie's cottage was going to be finished within the next week, just in time for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was arriving quickly; neither Colt nor Matt wanted to celebrate the holiday. Mike and Andrew were beginning to get closer each day and they felt they actually had something to be thankful for. Julie was kind of the middle man so to speak.

Julie, at dinner one night, just flatly said, "Well, seeing you guys can't make up your minds, I am going to fix a grand Thanksgiving dinner and you all can eat it or not, that will be your own decision, Okay?" She was so damn cute about it that everyone just smiled a little and said, one by one, "Okay!" that included in the order they accepted, Mike, Andrew, Earl, Colt, Matt, and Jack. Julie just grinned, knowing she had broken through the ice, and started the healing process.

Colt said, "I think we should invite the lodge bunch to come down for Thanksgiving, too." He dried his eyes and looked at his dad, with a small uncertain smile, then took Matt into a hug and kissed him, saying, "God, I love you so much! Don't ever leave me bro."

Earl said, "Now that's the brothers we know and love." He pulled Jack into a hug and they too exchanged kisses.

Mike and Andrew lovingly hugged each other and, for the first time since JC and Richard left, they kissed each other sweetly. Mike said, "I know this looks kind of weird, but, Andrew and I love each other very much, and right now, we need each other. That's not saying I don't need my sons right now either. God, how I love you both," pulling Colt and Matt into a four way embrace.

Andrew was now part of the Andersen family, in every way but one, for there was no sharing of sex between anyone, since they had lost the two senior members of the family. Andrew had, for all practical purposes, move into the master bedroom with the blessing of Mike, Colt, and Matt. The nights were still strained and the dreams were not always pleasant ones. Nevertheless, they were coming to terms with the loss.

The next day brought back painful memories when JC's hat arrived by UPS. Colt was the one to be handed it by the driver, he signed for it and brought it into the living room with tears again flowing. Matt came up and took the box knowing what it was, and opened it. He took out the hat that really didn't look that bad, and began fondling it, and shaping it again. Mike walked in and saw it, then chocked up, saying, as he caught his breath, "What are you going to do with it, Matt?" Mike joined by Andrew walked over toward Colt and Matt, and were soon joined by Earl and Jack. They all just stared at Matt who was holding the hat with reverence.

Matt just sighed and said, "I'm going to place it right up there on those horns!" He was pointing with the hat in his hand at the long horns, that were mounted over the fireplace. He then walked up to the fireplace, joined by Colt, and both of them put the hat on the right horn, as you looked at them.

They both stepped back, looking at the hat and horns, and said, almost at the same time, "There you go, pop, you will be part of this home forever!"

Everyone standing in the living room looked up at the somewhat white hat, that looked like it had been through more than its share of torment, hanging there on the mounted Longhorn horns over the huge fireplace. They all bowed their heads and said a little prayer for JC and Richard.

Mike said, "I really think that is a fitting place for it," as he stood there looking at the love of his life's hat. Then he continued, saying, "JC my love, I will always love you, no matter what." He then turned to face Andrew, and pulled him into a deep loving hug, then he spoke again, saying, "And you, Andrew, if you will have me, I will try to share with you as much love as I have to give." He then broke down again into tears.

Andrew took a deep breath and said, "Richard, my love, I will miss you very much; I know however, that you are in good hands, if you are with our guardian angels, Charlie and James, which I am sure you and JC are right now. I will always love you my dearest most loving man." He sighed with another deep breath and continued, "Mike, God, if I'll have you? My god, yes I will love you!, but will you be happy with me? All I know is that I will give you all the love I have!" He too was crying, along with everyone else in the living room right then.

In answer to Andrew's reply, Mike stepped over, pulled Andrew into a deep hug, once again, and kissed him on the lips, not a passionate kiss, but a kiss on the lips nevertheless. Colt and Matt looked on, with love in their eyes, along with the tears they both were shedding at the moment. Earl and Jack smiled through their own tears at the sight. While Julie just let out a long sigh at the sight of what was transpiring right in front of her own eyes. She knew, in her heart, as well as James and I did, that the healing was now well underway for the Andersen family.

To be continued...

Author's Note:

I would like just to say this chapter was not easy to write, and my characters were telling me step by tearful step how to write it. Yes some of you might think it's strange to say they are telling their own story, but they really are. Also my wonderful editor and co-author was holding my hand and guiding me as well.

I want to let all my fans know that my stories also appear on http://storylover.us/ just look for Tickie under Hosted Authors. I also have a Yahoo Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Tickiestories where I not only post my stories but photos of my characters and other items of interest.
You can also find my stories on my website: http://www.citlink.net/~tickiestories/

Editor's note:

What a ride that chapter has brought us. I had tears in my eyes all through it. This was a very hard chapter for me to edit, and I will remember it for a long time to come. Tickie and I talked long and hard about what was going to happen in this and the previous chapter. Like Charlie and James, we knew what was going to happen, or at least some of what was going to happen, but Colt, Matt, Mike and Andrew, as well as Julie and the other family members, all had a hand in the process. You may find it hard to believe, but they all are alive in our minds and they give us direction on how the story will turn out. JC put our minds at ease though, when he told us that his time at the helm of the ranch was nearing a close. He was ready to turn over the day-to-day duties to the two best sons he could possibly ever have. He knew that everyone would miss him and Richard too, but it was their time, and there was no way to change it. I am sure that just like Charlie and James, they will be around, watching over the family and helping them get past the pain and loss. Things are looking up. Aaron, Joel, Kevin, and Jerry will be coming down to the ranch very soon, and they too will help everyone begin to heal the broken hearts of the family that loved, and still does love, each other, extremely deeply. I am as sure as I can be, that we have not by any means, seen the last of them, if Charlie, James and the boys' teachers are any example. Things have a way of working out despite adversities.

I am planning on buying stock in the company that makes Kleenex. Or should I buy into Puffs? Maybe I will diversify and invest in both companies. Once again, I want to thank Tickie for allowing me to be a part of bringing this terrific story to you. I have no intention of giving up on this wonderful loving family. They will find a way to make it through the rough times that lie ahead because there is so much love among all of them, including Julie and the newer members of the family as well.

Enough of my ramblings.

Oh yes there is one more thing that I wanted to bring to your attention. I know this story is fiction, but I once heard a theory that, oddly enough makes a lot of sense to me. I would like to pass it on to you. Here goes. It has been said that if a story and its characters are written well enough, the characters are endowed with souls and will be in heaven once we get there, so we will probably meet Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple as surely as we will probably our parents or one of our favorite aunts. I know we will also meet Charlie, James, JC, Richard, and many others as well. These are fully flesh and blood people Tickie has given us. They will live on, and we will, I really believe, meet them someday. Am I weird or what?

Don't worry, it's just an idiosyncrasy. That means I'm kind of a loony, so sue me.

AKA The Radio Rancher.

May god be with the Andersen family.