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 25

"Dear God, I really don't know where to start; my heart is so heavy with sorrow for the love of my life that is so much missed right now Not only by me, but also his sons that miss him dearly, and all the others who also miss him and of course our dear friend, Richard. I know in my heart, that they are safe, and that they are now with God, and our angels, but we still miss them so very much. I guess all I can say is please watch over JC and Richard, keep them safe in your loving arms. Thank you for this wonderful bounty of food that Julie has prepared with her loving hands. Thank you also for allowing all of us to be here today safe and sound and enjoying each other's company. Thank you for the love we all share, and the partners we share it with. And most of all, thank you for helping us to heal our hearts from the loss of our dearest loved ones. Lastly, thank you for our guardian angels, Charlie and James, for they are the ones that keep us from loosing it, with the help of their tender and loving thoughts and the energy the give us to help us get through the pain. Amen!" Mike was openly crying, and sniffling at this time, but he wasn't the only one around the table doing that.

Even James and I had tears in our eyes, as we saw the love that was being shared among the family members who were now seated around the dining room table, ready to share the feelings that they all felt.

Everyone else said, "Amen!" then there was a silence that was deafening for a long minute, while everyone gave their own silent prayer. That was a shock to James and me, really, for the first time I think, we realized just how much JC and Richard were missed and loved by the others. Of course we knew already, how much they were missed and loved by their immediate family, but it showed all to well how much they had touched the lives of almost everyone around them. They were great men, both of them, and they were indeed loved very much.

Mike then continued, after the silence ended, by saying, "Now, everyone, before we start eating all this marvelous food that Julie has prepared. I want to remind everyone that it's a tradition of ours, here at the Lazy L, and with the Andersen family, that each person who is seated around the table after we finish eating dinner, openly tells everyone else, and the almighty, what he or she is thankful for this past year. I know it's going to be very difficult this year, but, I really feel it is a good way to start remembering the good times, and to help us forget the bad ones. We do have a lot to be thankful for, if we just take the time to think about it. That is why we always have the reminder at the beginning of the meal, so we can be thinking of what we will say when it is our turn, once it is over. Enough said, everyone, let's eat, and thank you, Julie, for once again bringing us what looks to be a most wonderful meal." He smiled broadly at her, as he finished wiping the tears from his eyes.

Everyone else chorused, "Yes, thank you Julie."

After everyone had feasted to a point where they all looked like stuffed porkers, lounging around in their chairs, making strange sounds of contentment, Mike spoke up and said, "Okay, Everyone, before we have dessert, it's time for our traditional part of the meal. We can do this any one of several different ways, one we can just start with me, and work around clockwise, or we can each go as we wish. But I will make sure each and every one of you tells his or her story. Is that clear? I know you can do it. Don't be shy." He was grinning with that cute gleam in his eyes.

It was soon agreed upon, that each person would speak in turn going clockwise around the table starting with Mike.

Mike simply stood up and began, "I know this is going to sound strange, considering what has happened so recently, but I have a lot to be thankful for, first, of all I am thankful for having loved a man that I will never ever forget, for as long as I live and probably longer if such is permitted, next, for having two wonderful sons who love me so very deeply, as I do them, and a great home and ranch to call my own. Lastly, for having found someone to love, me deeply, who has been such a help to me in my time of need. I know it's hard to think about someone new, so quickly after losing the love of your life, but life goes on, so, I am thankful for having Andrew now in my life. I'm also thankful for a truly wonderful fulfilled life. No man has had such a blessed life as I have, and I plan on many more years with my loving family, and friends." Everyone just looked on, with warmth in their hearts for Mike, knowing how difficult it was for him to speak the way he had.

They were sitting around the table in order clockwise starting with Mike, followed by Earl, then Kevin, next was Joel, then Matt, Colt, Julie, Aaron, Jerry, Jack, and last but certainly not least, would be Andrew, who was of course sitting on the other side of Mike. My word, there were eleven members of the extended family, now all seated around the large dining room table waiting on each other to finish the family tradition.

Earl was next, so he stood up and began, "I guess what I am most thankful for was that Jack and I were hired by the Andersen family. For if it weren't for them, I don't really know if Jack and I would still be together. I am also thankful for the fact that we not only have good jobs, now, but we are part of this wonderful family as well." He was blushing a bit, then he sat down.

Kevin looked around and was kind of shy, but he stood up and started, "Well where do I start? God, I guess I'm just thankful for finding a good job with the guys at the lodge, I have always wanted to work in a place like that, and now my dreams have finally come true. I thank the lord that Andrew invited us to come here, and that JC and the rest of you, gave us the chance to prove ourselves. Oh, and of course, I almost forgot, I am so very thankful for finding the love of my life in Jerry." He blew his nose into his handkerchief, and then sat back down.

Joel, nervously stood up and said, "Well, I'm not used to this custom, but here goes. I guess what I am most thankful for is having Aaron, over there, the one who is grinning at me, as my life partner. God how I do love him, he has been my rock during the time we were unsure of a job or not when the lodge went up for sale. Then of course, finding someone like JC, and his wonderful sons to come in and purchase the place was in itself a miracle for both Aaron and me. Plus of course, being invited to be part of this grand family was something very much out of this world. Last but by far not the least was this wonderful meal, and thank you very much, Julie, it was truly grand in the scale of things. Thank you all for having me as part of your family, on this wonderful day, thank you." Believe it or not he had tears in his eyes as he sat back down.

Matt stood up and looked at Colt. He began speaking, as his eyes locked with Colt's, "My love, I am so very thankful that you are here with me. I am also thankful that I had the love of JC and the encouragement and love of Richard, who gave me the chance to learn to fly. Of course I am thankful for all the rest of our wonderful family and especially Poppa Mike. I am also thankful to our Guardian Angels for helping us make it through the last few weeks, and keep us sane. Julie, you are sent by God, to help keep the family together and the love you have shown us is worth more than you will ever know, not to mention your wonderful cooking." He reached for a Kleenex and blew his nose, then he leaned over and kissed his brother. "I love you so much." he said, as Colt stood up and they embraced each other, lovingly.

Colt kissed Matt and they hugged each other for several minutes, then he looked at Mike, "Poppa Mike, I love you more than you could possibly know, and I thank you so very much for being there for us. I love you and JC more than anyone other then Matt. This family is the best thing that ever happened to us and we are so thankful for everyone's love. I miss Pop and Richard, and I always will, but I am very glad that we still have each other, and will be here for each other. Like everyone else, I am thankful for our angels, and the way they have helped us get through our time of sadness. In addition, Julie, you are indeed a real live angel yourself. You are the glue that has kept us together through this painful time. Thank you so very much. And I hope you know that we all love you very much.

Colt sat down again and Matt reached out and hugged his brother, and they kissed each other gently.

Julie stood up, pushing her chair back, smiled her genuine loving smile, and brushed her apron, saying, "Well, all I can say is, I am so very thankful for my new wonderful home. The family here, that has become my family, in so many ways, I can't began to count them. I am thankful for having two wonderful grandsons in Colt and Matt, and for the others that I consider to be my grandkids too, yes, that is Earl and Jack, and of course, now Kevin and Jerry. Now, my life has been enriched further. I now have two more to think about, in Joel and Aaron. But I guess one other thing is my good health. Lastly, but now at all least, is that I am thankful for Mike and Andrew finding each other in their hour of need, God bless both of you, for you have truly earned his blessing. Oh, yes, thanks for all the wonderful comments about my cookin'." She grinned her cutest little grin and sat down between Colt and Aaron.

Aaron stood up, looking at Joel with a huge grin, then he began, "I am also new at this, but I will do my best to try and say what I feel. First, let me say I am grateful for the love of my life, yes the one sitting over there with that gorgeous smile on his face. Also, I feel so lucky to have a dream job, in an even more dreamful location. But most of all, finding a real family that has opened, not only their home to us, but their hearts as well, thank you all from the bottom of my heart." He was so cute, he bowed toward Mike as he sat back down.

Jerry hesitated for too long, and Kevin looked at him with love, and concern, then Kevin said, "Come on now, Honey, it's your turn now, don't be afraid, my love."

So Jerry got to his feet, he was quite nervous, you could tell, and he said, "Thanks for everything, and thanks for a wonderful meal, and a wonderful job, for Kevin and me." He blushed a pretty pink, as he sat back down.

Everyone said almost at the same time, "That was fine, Jerry. Don't worry, you did great."

Jack smiled as he patted Jerry on the shoulder, and began, "That was great Jerry, don't feel bad. Well, I am most thankful for my love, Earl, sitting across the table from me, for his wonderful love." looking at Mike, "and you Mike," looking at Colt and Matt, "and both of you, for what your family did for Earl and me, it was something that saved us from ourselves. Yes, it would have cost us our love, to have stayed working where we were. I wanted so much to have thanked JC, tonight," he broke down in tears, as he said that, "JC, wherever you are, I thank you for everything you did for me. I also want to thank you, Andrew for what your parents did for me over the years, and for you, acting like a brother to me, over the years. And thank you Julie, for being there for me too, when I needed it most. Thank you all, my honored family." He wiped the tears from his eyes, as he sat back down.

Lastly was Andrew, "After losing my parents last year, and now losing the love of my life, one might ask themselves, what is there to be thankful for? Well, I guess I would have to say, for Mike, Colt, Matt, and Julie the four most wonderful people in the world to me. Colt and Matt, for treating me as a member of their family, Julie for being a stand in mom for me, now that my folks are gone. For Mike, for taking me as his partner, and loving me, we all have a long ways to go, after what we have all been through. Oh yes, that's for sure, and one other thing, that of having a wonderful home and friends like you, all sitting here tonight." He looked at Colt and Matt giving them a warm tender smile, then he turned and leaned over and kissed Mike on the lips, and continued, "I love you Mike, and thanks for having me in your life and making me your partner." He then sat down holding Mikes right hand in his left.

James and I watched the exchange of thanks among the extended family and we both had tears of sorrow, love and happiness on our faces. Nevertheless, we knew all was well and things were looking better for them all.

Mike stood up and said, "That was very nice, and no one needs to be embarrassed for you all did a great job of telling your feelings. Moreover, I am so happy we all have something to be thankful for, it would have been too easy to just have skipped over our tradition this year. Now I think we are ready for dessert, if Julie is ready." He looked at first Julie, then at Colt and Jack, for they seemed to be the ones that were her helpers, and of course they were so cute too.

Colt said, "Come on Jack, let's take care of that for Julie; Julie, you just sit still and let us get the dessert for you." He gave her a big smile and she just nodded okay, for she knew the boys had it under control.

Colt and Jack rolled the cart that Julie had already prepared, into the dining room, with a snicker for all the work had already been done. The only thing they needed to do was to get the whipped cream out of the refrigerator and place it on the cart. There on the cart were two large pumpkin pies, and two large mincemeat pies, both were long time family traditions of the Lambert/Andersen families. Colt rolled the cart around the table and Jack served the pie to order. Everyone including Colt and Jack were thoroughly stuffed by the time dinner was over. As they got up from the table, Jack looked out the window and said, "Look at that, it's snowing, that came in fast, didn't it?"

Mike said, "That's not unusual for Wyoming; storms blow in fast on the prairies." He smiled and headed on into the living room where they turned on the huge LCD TV to one of the college football games; where everyone gathered round, each pair finding their own little spot to watch the game from. Well, watch may not have been the best term to use, unless you consider watching each other making out. But it was clean making out. And everyone enjoyed the rest of that Thanksgiving Day, with there partners and dearest friends.

Later that night, after Colt and Matt had been talking about what they wanted to do for the rest of the year, since their birthdays were soon coming, and then Christmas and New Years. So the two of them made a decision that would affect the guys from the lodge. Therefore, Colt brought Joel, Aaron, Kevin, and Jerry into the dining room for some coffee and a friendly loving chat.

Once they were alone in the dining room, Matt said, "Colt and I have made a decision about you guys." He paused then, looking at four worried young men sitting at the table, you could tell that, from the expressions on their faces.

Joel simply asked, "What did we do wrong?" being the boss of the lodge, he took it on himself to ask such a question of the Andersen boys.

Colt smiled and said, "Nothing! We just want you all to stay here at the ranch, until after the New Year. I know this wasn't planned, and you all may have other plans. If you do, we will be more then happy to fly you back tomorrow." He paused for a minute, waiting for some indication of their feelings. No one seemed to want to say anything, so he continued, "So both Matt and I wish you all would stay, and spend not only the holidays with us, but the sixth of December is both Matt's and my birthday. We would love for you all to be here. We're planning to rent the Corral, for dinner that night, and then have a get together afterwards, here at the ranch, for all our other friends, and our extended family which of course, you four are now part of, so, what do you guys say? By the way I have already called the lodge, and talked to Justin who you left in charge, and he said he would be more than happy to keep the place running, and call you if he needed anything." He had a wicked grin on his face, as Joel just looked on in disbelief at what the boys were asking.

Joel shaking his head, said, "Well, that's fine with me, seeing you have already put Justin in charge, for a longer period of time, I don't have anything more pressing than running the lodge, and you seem to think I need a vacation. So hell yes, I'd be happy to spend a month here on the Lazy L." He was also now grinning at the Andersen boys.

Kevin said, "Jerry and I are at the mercy of you guys, we are just the new guys on the block so to speak." He looked over at Jerry with a warm smile and Jerry just grinned back.

Matt said, "Nonsense, you all have a right to speak your mind around us. Don't ever think you can't speak your thoughts about anything at all, to either Colt or me." He walked over to Kevin and patted him on the back. Then he opened the door into the living room and said, "Okay, it's a done deal, you all will be our guests until after the first of the year. Now, enjoy your well-earned vacation. If there is anything that you guys want or need, don't hesitate to ask anyone on the ranch for it. That includes all of us, not just the hired folks. Oh yes, and if you need a vehicle to go to town, just yell, I'm sure we can provide one in short order." Then he headed back into the living room with Colt by is side.

The rest of the night was loads of fun, everyone was chatting about all sorts of things, but most of all, they were all together just enjoying each other's company and friendship.

All but the Andersen family headed off to there respective rooms for the night of relaxation, and whatever each pair had on there minds.

Mike and Andrew were sitting on one of the two love seats, and Colt and Matt were sitting on the other one, both pairs were cuddled close and paying a lot of attention to their partner, when Colt said, "Well, Matt and I have decided on holding our birthday dinner at the Corral. Then we thought we'd come back here, with all our guests for the birthday cake. We just thought it would be kind of different, and fun. I called them today and reserved the entire place for dinner. What time do you think we should start?"

"I would say around five then, so you would have enough time for everyone to come out to the ranch afterward." Mike simply stated, with a nod from Andrew in agreement.

Matt shook his head in the affirmative and said, "Good, that's what time we'll start then." He stood up, pulled Colt with him, and continued, "I'm tired, and I think my bro here, and I are going to hit the sack."

Colt got up, pulling Matt up. Matt started toward the bedroom while Colt started around the house, locking up the place, which seemed to be one of his nightly chores, as long as he was home. Andrew got up and pulled Mike up, and the pair headed off in the direction of the bedroom, stopping in the kitchen for quick check of what might be good to snack on. Finding some scraps of turkey still remaining, a miracle in itself. They took a hand full and continued on into the bedroom, where they found Matt filling the Jacuzzi. Matt looked at the pair, and said, "Still hungry, I see," smiling at the pair and then noticing Colt appear behind them, already undressed and ready for the gathering. Mike turned to Matt, poked a slice of turkey into his mouth, and said, "Shut up and eat!" Andrew, seeing that, turned around and did the same to Colt, saying, "You look like you could use some too." This brought out huge laughs from them all.

James and I watched, as the entire house became quiet, and everyone was fast asleep. We both were so happy, for the day had been one of great healing for the family, and their friends. We cuddled up with Mike, Andrew, Colt, and Matt, for a wonderful peaceful night of well-earned rest, on our part anyway.

Over the next few days, many things happened, and most of all was the encounter in the barn the next morning with Lady. Everyone, after a wonderful breakfast, headed out to the barn to feed the horses and groom them. When Lady nickered, "Colt, I feel something is wrong, where is JC, I miss him. He always came out and talked to me and brushed me?" This shocked not only Colt, but also Matt, Earl, and Jack, for they all understood Lady. The four of them began to cry, almost as soon as Lady finished nickering. Colt turned away from Lady and told the others what she had said. This brought more tears from everyone else, as well. Andrew was standing beside Colt, when Colt began to speak.

"Well, ole girl, I have to tell you some bad news, JC won't be coming back, he has joined Charlie and James, love." Lady seemed to understand, and moved over toward Andrew not toward Colt as everyone had thought, and nuzzled him on the chest, and said, "I like you too, a lot; will you take care of me, please. I will always miss my JC, you know." Colt said through many tears now, "My God, she just asked Andrew to take care of her, and that she would always miss JC." The entire barn broke down in tears at the showing of the understanding of what one horse had said. It was so moving.

Andrew stood there in front of Lady and leaned in and kissed her on the nose. "I know, sweetheart, that I can't understand what you say, but I do know that you loved JC. He was a wonderful man, and I miss him too. I feel doubly sad, because I was just beginning to get to know him better. I know he loved you very much. I also know that you can understand me. I want you to know that I know I can't replace him. I will never try to take JC's place. I will do my best, however, to take good care of you, and I will love you and make sure that you will be as happy as possible. I am going to brush you now, and I will be as gentle as I can. You have the most beautiful coat, my precious Lady, and it is so silky soft, I love to run my fingers through it. I know we will be the best of friends. I really wish I had the gift that the boys share, in being able to understand you, but you do still have ways of letting me know when you are happy or sad, and I will do my best to understand your feelings. Remember, if there is anything you want me to know, just tell one of the boys, and they will pass it along to me. I will be here for you and I will take good care of you."

Everyone had left Andrew and Lady alone in the barn so they could get better acquainted and could start the bonding process that was needed to help heal both of them; the rest of the family all headed back into the house, where Matt filled in Julie on what had just happened.

"Oh my God," Julie remarked, "I always knew horses were smart, now I know it for sure." she murmured, with glassy eyes. However, she didn't openly cry. She just hugged Mike, Colt, and Matt, drying their tears with her apron.

Neither James or I had that one figured out, how a simple animal could raise such emotions in humans was in itself a miracle.

Over the rest of the time, up until the boys' birthday went pretty much uneventfully. Everyone enjoyed the ranch, they brought in more snowmobiles, and there were several days of everyone just having fun on them. The mood was finally getting much happier than it had been in days.

James and I knew what was about to happen tomorrow, on Colt's and Matt's birthday, but we couldn't send even a hint of it, for we were under orders from the almighty himself.

To be continued...

Author's Note:

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:

Darn, and I had planned to tell you all about it too, but I am under the same orders, so I guess you will just have to wait till the next chapter. Seriously, I think this chapter went very well. Everyone is slowly becoming more attuned to how life goes. There will be good things and bad. All we can do is keep hope in our hearts that the good will out weigh the bad. I know there is still a lot more surprises coming and I think most of them are, for the most part quite good things. Please join us for the next chapter of this story. We will bring you lots of interesting reading I promise.

AKA The Radio Rancher