This story may occasionally include explicit depictions of sexual acts between consenting adult males.  If you are underage or it is illegal to view this for any reason, consider yourself warned.  If you find this material offensive, I have to wonder why you came here in the first place.

 

This story is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to people, living or dead, is entirely a coincidence. As author, I retain all rights to this story, and it cannot be reproduced or published without explicit consent from me.  This work is copyright Fitz, 2013.

 

I love to hear any feedback you have, be it positive or negative.  Send me an email with any comments or questions at movingonstory@gmail.com

 

My wonderful husband gets a shout out for being so supportive and allowing me to bounce ideas off of him. I would also like to thank my editor, David. All errors that remain are mine, and mine alone.

 

I also now have a mailing list. You can sign up for it at my website, www.movingonstory.weebly.com, or by emailing me.

 

I apologize for the delay. My email client decided not to forward an important message from David to me while I was working on cleaning up the conversation towards the end of the chapter. My original attempt was much more... direct.

 

*NOTE* I strongly recommend having tissues handy, as this chapter gets a little emotional.

~Fitz

 

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Chapter 5

 

Like usual, I ate lunch at my desk. For the past few days, I had been unable to avoid getting lost in my thoughts about the past. I fought the urge to do it again, my thoughts filled with the memories of Mia's pending birth, and the ordeals that followed.

Instead, I multitasked as I ate, responding to emails, and looking over reports. For a small company, we seemed to generate an endless stream of reports. I was sure much of it was redundant, but Tom wanted a paper trail for everything we did, so that's what we created. Once I finished eating, I made my daily rounds of the office. Usually I walked around and just focused on seeing if there were any major issues that needed to be ironed out. However, since I had been unable to focus during the day, I took a more hands-on approach, and asked lots of questions and looked at everything I could. I got more than one look of annoyance, and I'm sure several of my employees thought I had lost my confidence in their work.

Unfortunately, even that didn't fill my work day. I called Tommy's mom, Amy, and asked if he could come over after school to play with Zach. Apparently Zach had already asked Tommy, who had found a chance to text home for permission. Amy laughed when I complained that now Zach would start demanding his own cell phone. I cursed when I remembered I couldn't bring them both home in the Porsche, but before I could even ask, Amy offered to drop the boys off, and even offered to come back to pick Tommy up before dinner. I thanked her profusely before we hung up.

The conversation was brief, but longer than most of our recent ones. It made me think about what might have been. Before Mia was born, Amy and her husband, Paul, were quickly becoming close friends. We quickly bonded with them, since Amy was only a few weeks behind our surrogate in having a daughter of her own. However, with the birth of our daughters, none of us found ourselves with much time to socialize. It didn't help that Scott and I also found ourselves mildly resentful of those lucky enough to be blessed with healthy children, which made the idea of spending time around people bragging about milestones a painful ordeal.

I decided to head back home for the day. I said goodbye to Tom, and promised to be at his place for dinner, before instructing Heather to forward my calls to my cell. I went to the garage, hopped in the Porsche and sped off the few blocks to home. I pulled into the garage, and walked around to the front of the house to gather the mail.

As soon as I opened the door, I expected the burglar alarm to go off, but was instead only greeted by the barking dog. I checked the panel, and discovered it wasn't armed. I went through my morning in my mind, and was certain I had set the alarm before we left for the day. I quickly raced around the house, but couldn't find anything out of place. It wouldn't be the first time over the past several months where I came home and discovered that, despite being positive I had set the alarm, I apparently had not. I decided I must have once again forgotten, and decided to let it go.

I slumped down on the couch and thought back to the day we finally brought Mia home from the hospital, and everything that had happened since then.


*** *** *** ***

We tried to keep Mia's homecoming from being a big deal, but our friends and family wouldn't allow it. After all, it had been nearly a week after she was born before Scott and I were allowed to hold our girl. Mary had carried her to term, but she was so small and frail. She had immediately been put in the neonatal intensive care unit, where we could only look at our baby through a plexiglass box. Sure, we could stick our hands through the holes, and we both were thrilled when she would instinctively grab onto our fingers, but it wasn't the same thing as holding our baby girl.

At two days old, she had her first surgery this one to repair her diaphragm. It was the first in a series of four surgeries she was to endure before she was finally discharged the first time. If her diaphragm wasn't properly repaired immediately after birth, it was doubtful she would survive her first month.

For that first month, neither Scott nor I left the hospital. We stank and looked like hobos, but neither of us gave a damn. I don't know what we would have done if it weren't for our family. Mike and Fey came down and spent a few days at our house, followed by Emma and Ethan. No one ever said anything, but I was positive they had coordinated their visits in advance. It was never spoken, but everyone sensed it might be best not to burn vacation time too soon, in case we needed them for support. Lydia practically moved back in with Tom what had been weekly visits had eventually tapered off to every other month or so. Together, our family took care of Zach before school and in the evenings, and brought him to spend time with us and Mia. It wasn't perfect, but Scott and I were so grateful for everything they did for us.

Any disagreements about our future disappeared when Mia was born. Scott had continued to be a bit snippy about my decision to 'drop out' of school up until Mary went into labor. For me, the bigger problem was that even though he continued to pick up more and more clients as I freed up his time, it wasn't challenging enough for me, and I quickly found myself bored. By mid-June, just six weeks after graduation, and only a couple weeks before Mia's birth, I decided to pick up a few offers to work on some minor advertisements. I could have treated it like a side project, which was actually Scott's suggestion, but it was far easier to expand the services of Hudgins Design than try to deal with the logistics of creating a new company, at least in my mind. We never argued over the decision, and the results of doing it my way were immediately evident. Although it would take us a little more than six months to officially expand the company and open an official office, by the end of our first extended stay in the NICU, we had decided it would be a prudent business investment.

Mia was born on July 8, 2014, a date which always caused a knot in my stomach. When Mary called us at eleven the night before to tell us she was in labor, I was already digging in for what I knew would be a hard day; it was the third anniversary of Steve's death. Knowing how sick Mia would be, I took the date to be an omen that no good would happen. I'm not a superstitious man, but I couldn't escape the sense of foreboding. Ironically, it was Scott who took it as a good sign.

"Yeah, it's the same date Steve died, but who knows? Maybe this is God's sign that everything is going to be ok with Mia. I mean shit happens, and I'm not the most religious man in the world, but I can't believe He would allow two of the people I love most in the world to be taken from me on the same date three years apart."

"I don't know, Scott. I just can't shake this bad feeling," I replied hesitatingly.

"I know you're scared. Hell, I'm fucking terrified. But we need to stay positive; for us, for Zach, and for Mia. Now c'mon! We have to get Zach over to Tom's and get over to the hospital now! We're going to have a baby!"

You would have thought I was bringing the pregnant woman to the hospital. We had even done trial runs, had bags packed, and everything. Scott had thought everything through and had a contingency plan for every contingency. I grabbed Zach's pre-packed overnight bag and scooped our son out of bed while Scott grabbed our bag and called Tom. Living only a block away from our friend had its perks, and Tom was already waiting in our driveway by the time we had gotten to the garage. I passed off the boy, who was too tired to actually comprehend what was going on, and we hopped in the Porsche. While I didn't break a land-speed record or anything, I'm still surprised I didn't get pulled over on the way to the hospital. I think at one point, I was doing close to ninety in a thirty-five. We actually beat Mary, who came via an ambulance, to the hospital by about ninety seconds.

Mary had an uncomplicated, yet long, labor. Amelia Felicia Hudgins entered the world at 3:24pm. We had hoped to hear her give her first healthy wail when the doctor cleared her airway, but instead, she let out a feeble gasp. Dr. Winslow had warned us about that, a clear sign of problems to her diaphragm. Within moments, our new baby was whisked off to the NICU, where she would spend her next six months of her life when she wasn't in the operating room, that is.

Unfortunately, we had planned for this. When Dr. Winslow informed us she was stable and we could see her, we grabbed our bags, entered the NICU, and settled in for the long stay. When we left Mary in her room, that was the last we ever saw her. Once we found out about Mia's condition, Mary made it very clear she did not want to have any further contact or know what happened to the baby.

Two weeks after the surgery to repair her diaphragm, Mia had surgery to strengthen a wall of her heart. It was not until a week after that surgery we finally got to hold our little girl. Both Scott and I had tears streaming down our faces as we held our little angel for the first time. That single moment was worth all the money we had spent, all the sleep we lost, and all the arguments. Three days later, Zach was able to hold his baby sister for the first time. It would have been sooner, but Zach was sniffly when Emma and Ethan brought him, so the nurses wouldn't let him in until he was better. The look on the boy's face was worth the wait.

We knew full well Mia would have developmental delays. Still, we were constantly bombarded with reminders of the so-called 'milestones'. Even at a month old, it was obvious our girl was behind schedule. Her eyes didn't quite focus on objects, and she had trouble moving her limbs. Dr. Winslow tried to encourage us that it was normal for her condition, but when even the most basic milestones weren't met, it was a bit disheartening to say the least. She didn't even offer us her first smile until shortly before the hospital finally decided she was healthy enough to go home.

When we finally pulled up to the house with our baby for the first time, I knew we were in for a big gathering. Scott and I were exhausted, and ready to try to settle into a routine as best we could. After the first month, we stayed at the hospital in shifts except during surgeries and recoveries. However, when we found out she was coming home, neither of us could pull ourselves away from her for the last three days. We just wanted to put her in a crib and watch her sleep free from a plastic box for the first time in her short life. Everyone else in our life had other plans.

We hadn't even planned on telling anyone when we were coming home. We scheduled to have the whole house steam cleaned the day before we arrived, but I made the mistake of asking Tom to make sure everything looked ready for our homecoming. I don't know if it was intentional on his part or not, but apparently he told his mother, who told Fey. The whole thing quickly snowballed, and all I know is when we pulled up, there was a massive sign over the door that read 'Welcome Home, Mia!'. Fortunately, that was the biggest thing they did. Despite the fact it seemed like everyone we knew was there, no one hounded us, and people were very respectful about not overwhelming Mia. The person who seemed conspicuously absent was Will. When I asked Jason, he told me Will had coughed about an hour before they were coming over, so Jason made him stay home. We tried to be social and mingle, but fortunately, Fey was on hostess duty. She quickly shooed us away to go look after our little girl. Instead, we quickly fell asleep in bed, our little angel only a few feet from us. After months of uncertainty, it was the most peaceful two hours of sleep I remember ever having. After a bottle, the next two hours were just as peaceful. It took Mia several more months before she would sleep through the night, but never once did either of us begrudge her. After six months of sleeping in chairs in the NICU, a series of powernaps from the comfort of our bed felt like a luxury.

The next day, I finally got to keep my promise to Zach. A few days before Mia was born, I promised him I would take him to the zoo the day after we brought his sister home from the hospital. I warned him it might be a few months before Mia came home, but we had no idea it would be half a year. I had expected it to be closer to his seventh birthday in August, instead of early 2015. He had been as good of a trooper as could be expected. Whichever of us was at home when we were taking shifts with Mia tried to dote on Zach as much as we could, but we were exhausted, both mentally and physically. He got lots of ice cream and toys, and regularly got to play in the park, but all we really wanted was to relax when we were at home. Now that we were home for good, we needed to divert our attention back to him whenever possible.

Fortunately, keeping my promise made him feel extra special, since it required pulling him out of school for the day. We were watching the pandas, still Zach's favorite animal, when he suddenly asked me, "Dad, Mia's always gonna be really sick, isn't she?"

I'll never know for sure if it was merely a result of Zach growing up, or if it had to do with resentment over our lack of attention, but that period was when Zach stopped calling me 'daddy' almost exclusively.

I sighed before responding, "Yeah, she will, buddy. Did you see her try to push herself up earlier this morning?"

Zach nodded.

"Well most babies her age can do that just fine. They can also roll over from their tummies and onto their back. Other than when she cries have you heard her make any noises?"

He thought for a second before shaking his head.

"I've only heard her babble a couple times. Normally, someone her age would be constantly making noises, but she just can't yet."

"Will she ever?"

That right there was the million dollar question. "Honestly, I don't know, Zach. I really wish I did." I had to fight back a tear when I told him that. For the most part, Scott and I had avoided talking about her development whenever possible, and simply relished any minor milestone that occurred, no matter how far 'behind schedule' it was.

"I'm sorry, Dad."

I laughed in spite of myself. "Why in the world are you sorry?"

"I was beginning to think you and Papa didn't love me as much now the baby was here. You spent all your time with her, and I felt left out, but I was watching her when she was in her crib, and I can tell she needs you more than I do."

I knelt down and looked Zach square in the eyes. "Zacharias Hudgins, there is not a single thing that could ever happen that would make me love you less than I ever have. Yes, Mia needs a lot of attention, but you need me, too. Whenever you need me, for any reason, you just tell me, and I'll be there for you in a heartbeat. The same goes for Papa. Just say the word, and we'll be there."

"No matter what?"

"No matter what."

"You can help out with Mia, too. She needs a big brother to look after her. You can help change her and play with her some, but you have to be really gentle with her. The best thing we can do right now for her is hold her, and talk to her, and make her happy."

"Ok, but do I hafta change her? Her diapers are stinky!"

"You're stinky," I responded and ruffled his hair. He'd hit all he could handle for serious conversation, and I was ready for some childlike abandon. "Now let's go check out the kangaroos. I bet you can't beat me there!"

He beat me, but in all fairness, I let him win.

That weekend, Scott did his best to keep his promise to Zach, but unfortunately, he had promised a trip to the amusement park, which was now closed for the season. Luckily, there was a minigolf place complete with go-karts that was open. Scott felt horrible for not being able to keep his end of the bargain, but from everything I gathered, Zach didn't care as long as he got to spend time with his dads again.

* * *

Mia's first stay at home only lasted three months before she ended up back in the hospital. She caught a cold that her body couldn't handle, and it nearly killed her. From then on, we were much more careful about our health around her. Tom was a lifesaver, and offered to watch her the few times Zach caught something, which he was quick to share with us. I hated asking Tom to help out, since he had just married Tina, but he insisted.

Over time, she finally began to show some signs of progress. At about eighteen months, she crawled for the first time. It was only for a few feet, and I don't think she ever made it even across a room on her own. A few weeks after that, Scott swore he heard her say 'dada', but it was hard to tell, since she still didn't babble much. Unfortunately, her progress didn't last long.

A week before her second birthday she was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. It started with a light cough that didn't want to go away. After a couple visits to the doctor with no progress, they decided to admit her. However, her condition continued to deteriorate. She held on for nearly a month, but just weeks after our baby girl turned two, she died. We knew it was coming, and Scott and I were there, holding our angel, as she drew her final gasp of breath.

I was so proud of Scott that last month. We knew it was coming, and he never once showed fear. All that changed the next morning. I was sleeping fitfully when Scott's dad knocked on the door. He and Fey had practically moved into the guest house when it became clear that the end was near.

"Hey, champ, how you doing?" he asked quietly

I mumbled something incoherent.

"Yeah, that's about what I expected. I just wanted to tell you that Fey made some breakfast if you want some."

"I'm not hungry."

"I know, but you need to eat. Fey's really throwing herself into cooking right now. We should make sure it doesn't go to waste, since I think she's about to start a four-course lunch in a minute. None of us know how to deal with this. Remember, Zach just lost his sister. He's scared and hurting right now and really needs his dad to be there for him."

"Yeah, I guess you're right," I conceded.

As Mike left the room, I got out of bed, and threw on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, before turning my attention to Scott. He was lying on his back, staring at the ceiling.

"Scott? Did you hear your dad?"

There was no answer, so I gave him a gentle shake.

"Scott?"

He blinked a few times and mumbled something, but otherwise didn't move.

"Scott. We need to go downstairs and spend some time with Zach. He needs us. Babe, I know you're hurting, but we all are. Please, I need you right now."

He blinked a few more times, before shaking his head and sitting up.

"Yeah, I guess you're right."

He was so deep in his depression I had to help him get dressed. It was frustrating, but I was not surprised. I had expected this reaction from him, and knew I would have to be strong to help him get through it.

We walked downstairs and joined Scott's parents and Zach at the table. Scott practically collapsed into his chair. Mike hadn't been exaggerating; Fey had prepared just about everything under the sun for breakfast, and it would have been more than five people could expect to eat in a day, let alone a single meal. That's assuming anyone had much of an appetite, which was also not the case. Instead, we all picked at the food as best we could except Scott, who just stared at it blankly.

After we gave up on the meal, Scott quickly retreated to the bedroom. Zach looked completely lost, so I ushered him upstairs. The three of us spent the entire day curled up in bed together. We all needed each other, but none of us knew what to do.

Two days later, we held the funeral. We decided to have a simple graveside ceremony, and only invited a few friends and family members. The only benefit of knowing that the end is coming for a loved one is you can make the plans in advance. Neither of us would have been up for making decisions in the days that followed Mia's death. No matter how hard I prodded, I could not get Scott out of bed that morning. I even dressed him while he lay there, but no amount of pleading could get him to move. Having witnessed his bouts of depression a number of times, I should feel guilty that I still harbor resentment over having to bury our daughter alone. I know he was not acting that way because he was lazy, or because he didn't care. When he was in a funk, it was something he couldn't control, and it was just a part of him I learned to deal with. But he made me bury our daughter alone. And I still resent him for that, as much as I try not to.

Over the next few days, we did our best to try to return to a sense of normalcy. I spent my time focusing on trying to keep Zach in a good mood, constantly telling any bad joke I could think of. Even Scott was doing better. Both of us had delegated most of our workload to our employees, but Scott started taking more on himself again. He was much more withdrawn than usual, and it was all but impossible to get more than a word out of him, but he seemed to be coming around. Seeing that we were doing better, family and friends began to disperse, leaving us to our lives. We were all just going through the motions, but it seemed to be working.

In early mid-September, I had to go into the office for a meeting. Scott was still in bed when I left, so I kissed his forehead on my way out the door. The meeting ran long, and I realized it was about to pick Zach up from school, so I figured I'd do it myself. I called the woman running the carpool and told her I would get Zach, so she wouldn't wonder where he was. I was shocked when I opened the garage and the SUV was gone.

"Huh. Scott hasn't gone out by himself in over a month," I said out loud. Zach and I went inside. I looked for a note, but didn't see one.

"Where's Pops?" Zach asked.

"I don't know kiddo." I tried his phone, but it went straight to voicemail.

"His phone's off. He probably just forgot to charge it. Let's get you a snack."

I helped Zach with his homework, and then we played in the backyard with the dog for a bit. It was nearing dinnertime, and there was still no sign of my husband. I tried his phone again. This time, it rang twice before going to voicemail. Realizing his phone was on; I called again, but got the same results. The third time, it went straight to voicemail again. I sent him a text asking him to call me immediately, and that Zach wanted to know where he was. I never got a response.

I ended up ordering a pizza, and Zach and I ate in silence. I tried Scott's phone several times, but it never rang. After eating, I called Tom.

"Hey, Noah, what's up?" he answered. I could hear Stevie fussing in the background. Outside of work, Scott and I had practically avoided Tom and Tina ever since they had a perfectly-healthy son. Stevie was born a few months before Mia took her turn for the worse, and it was too painful to be happy for them, as much as I wanted to be. Still, Tom was Scott's best friend and the person most likely to know where he was.

"It's probably nothing, but have you heard from Scott?"

"No... why?"

"Like I said, it's probably nothing. He went out sometime today, and isn't answering his phone. He'll probably be back soon, and I'm getting worried about nothing. Just let me know if you hear anything."

"Alright, will do."

By ten at night, I was beginning to panic. I called the police precincts and hospitals, but that was a dead end. The police informed me I would have to wait twenty-four hours before being able to file a missing persons report, since Scott had just stepped out for a bit as far as I knew. I hadn't even inquired about it, but that's the first time I considered the possibility Scott had actually left. After I finished my calls, I went upstairs to investigate.

What I found shook me to my core. Scott's closet had been emptied out, hangers strewn everywhere. Our suitcases were missing, and he hadn't even bothered to close the drawers to his dresser. I collapsed on the floor, sobbing at the realization that my husband was gone.

I must have cried myself to sleep, since the next thing I knew, daylight was streaming into the room. I decided to make it my mission to track Scott down. I wasn't going to let him just walk away and break the promise he made to me. Not without him telling me to my face why he left.

I called his parents, figuring that was where he went. I spoke with Fey, who was shocked to hear Scott wasn't at home. Apparently he called her the day before while I was at my meeting, and told her everything seemed to be getting back to normal. She promised me she would let me know if she or Mike heard anything. After I talked to her, I called every single person I could think of that Scott might try to stay with. Not a single person had heard from him, and all of them promised to call me if they did. More than one expressed a few choice words for Scott, which I readily agreed with.

Deciding it was time to use some technology, I pulled up our credit card account, and was surprised that it took only seconds to actually track him down. He had used our card to rent a room at a nearby hotel. I called Will and asked for his advice.

"You want to go over there, bang on the door, and demand answers, don't you?" he asked.

"Well, yeah!" I snarled into the phone.

"I don't blame you. What good would it do, though? Maybe he just needs a couple days of space to collect his thoughts. Last time he got so overwhelmed, he fled town. At least he's staying close by. Just keep tabs on his purchases, and try to figure out what he's doing. If you storm over there angry, he's just going to shut down, and it'll be worse for both of you. Besides, you probably won't be able to get his room information from the front desk. The best you can hope for is to wait outside and confront him when he leaves the building, and that's not exactly going to go over well either."

I sighed. I was really hoping for different advice, but I had to admit he was right. At least I knew where he was.

I did my best to keep a routine, but between Mia's death and Scott leaving, I was broken inside. For two weeks, I did the bare minimum required to take care of Zach and me. The only reason Zach attended school on the days he did was because of his carpool. He was hurting as bad as I was, but I was so unable to deal with my loss that I struggled to be much of a father to him during that period. People tried to help us, but I generally refused.

Over the next several months, I proceeded to essentially cyber-stalk my husband. After the initial anger wore off, I was too hurt to actually confront him, but he never made any attempt to hide his movements, although it wasn't long before he switched from using his credit cards to the checking account. A week after he checked into the hotel, he rented an apartment a few miles away. Tom instructed me to keep very close tabs on our accounts and look for any signs that Scott was siphoning money away, but the only thing I saw were the usual purchases of someone moving into a new home. I did follow Tom's other advice, though, and began to slowly transfer funds into another account Scott didn't have access to. Just in case Scott tried to empty the account, he wouldn't be able to take everything. Tom diverted my paychecks to that account, and we decided to freeze Scott's paychecks, since he wasn't showing up at the office.

I'm still not sure I made the right decision in not confronting Scott, especially since I knew full well where he lived. I even drove by his apartment a few times, and saw his car parked outside. It was always parked in the same location, but I wasn't sure if he was using it or not. Other than the most basic necessities, he wasn't buying anything, but I was beginning to wonder if he had opened new accounts I didn't know about.

*** *** *** *** ***

The sound of the front door opening pulled me from my thoughts. Zach and Tommy barreled into the house, sending Beso into a frenzy of excitement, unsure who he should greet first. I wiped the tears from my eyes, and greeted my son and his friend, before stepping outside to talk to Amy.

"You ok, Noah? You look like you've been crying," she said when I walked up to her car door.

"Same old, same old," I responded, "I don't know what it is, but the past few days, I just can't seem to stop reliving everything that's happened recently. Between Mia and Scott... it's all just a bit much."

"Yeah... that's quite a hand you've been dealt recently. Zach seems to be doing well; actually, much better than I would expect, considering everything."

"Talk about someone who's been dealt a bad hand, that's Zach. He's stronger inside than I could ever hope to be. Do you want to come in for some coffee? I can tell you what he's been through if you haven't already heard the story."

"Sure, why not. I was just going to a few stores and try to find ways to justify a few new purchases."

Over coffee, I filled her in on what Zach went through his first four years of life. It wasn't exactly a pleasant topic, but she must have sensed I just needed someone to talk to.

Once I finished, Amy looked me square in the eyes and smiled. "You're wrong, you know."

"What do you mean?" I asked, confused.

"Out at the car, you said Zach's stronger than you emotionally. I realized when you were telling me about his bitch of a mother that he must get his strength from you. I can see it in your eyes right now."

"I don't feel strong right now."

"Of course not. You're too close to everything. You're entire world flipped upside down over the span of a few months, and you're still trying to recover. It's easier when you're young. Kids measure their lifespan in months, while we barely care past the first digit of our age. You're doing everything right, Noah, and I just know everything will work out for you."

"Then why can't I seem to let go of these past few months in my mind? I keep reliving them, and it's been getting worse."

"If I had to guess, it's because you're trying to decide what happens next, and it seems like you're close to making a decision, even if it's just subconscious right now."

"Surprisingly, that makes sense."

"Hah...'surprisingly'," Amy replied with a laugh, "You don't think I've been married to a self-described super-shrink for the past decade without picking up some of his skills, do you? You're going to be just fine."

We continued to chat, mostly making small talk, while the boys played. After a couple hours, Amy decided it was time to round up Tommy and take him home. Before she left, she offered me one last thing to consider.

"You know, I have an idea, and if you're not interested, you can just pretend I never ever brought it up."

"What are you thinking?" I asked hesitantly.

"Well, remember how I said something about you seeming like you're trying to come to terms with everything that's happened and move on? Have you thought at all about getting back into the dating scene?"

I started to respond, but she cut me off.

"I know what you're going to say, you're still married. If he wanted to get back together with you, he would have come out of hiding by now. I'm not talking about anything serious, either, just casually meeting new people and seeing what happens. If you're interested, there's this cute guy I go to the gym with. I've talked to him a few times, and I think you two might hit it off. Think about it, and let me know if you want me to arrange for the two of you to meet."

I politely told her I wasn't interested, but as I watched her car back out of the driveway, I realized that the idea didn't upset me nearly as much as it would have only a few days before. If nothing else, it definitely gave me something to think about.

 

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I am still trying to post a new chapter every two weeks. It's a bit harder with my new position at work. I used to write whenever I had the chance at work, but with my new position, I cannot do that. Most of the time, when I come home, I want to focus on mindless tasks, and writing is decidedly anything but! Word of warning, the next chapter might very well end up delayed between traveling for the holidays and the fact that karaoke scenes take more time for me to prepare. Yes, that's right. The next chapter is a return to karaoke.

 

Let me know where you're from! I have a map of readers from around the globe. I currently have readers in 33 states, and 12 countries on 4 continents. I'd love to fill the map in some more!! I really want some Latin America, South America, and mainland Asia (but I'm not picky, I'll take anything!)

 

My story is also hosted at http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/story/fitz/moving_on, http://saberpeak.com/st_fitz.php and on my story website, http://movingonstory.weebly.com. The map of readers and the signup form for the mailing list are on the website for all who are interested.

 

The story's Facebook group, 'Moving On' is a good place to communicate with me and fellow readers. It is a 'closed group', meaning nothing posted in the group is visible to nonmembers, and the group does not show up on your timeline for others to see.  The downside is that you receive a message that you joined a 'closed group', and have to wait until I approve adding you, which I do as soon as I am able. Several times, by the time I get the chance to add someone (even immediately after getting the notification), the person has removed their request. I have not, nor will I deny someone from joining the group, although I reserve the right to remove someone if necessary (spammers or people who are rude). All content will be kept at a PG-13 level.  All are welcome to join by clicking on this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/226097850809679/.

 

Don't forget to send me any questions or comments to movingonstory@gmail.com.