by Tim Mead
Joe, who looked like a long-ball hitter, wasn't. In high school his batting average had been excellent because he could place balls where the fielders weren't. Now, in Higgins, he had become an asset to the Hammers because he was doing the same thing for them. In the home half of the 9th inning of this particular game, he managed a double, scoring Justin Quinn from second and ending the game. Justin, who had slid into home plate, came up, his usual cocky grin gone, grimacing in pain. The catcher from the visiting team, who was angered by something Justin had said when he was at bat, ignored the boy's pain and strode toward his team's bench. Thus it was Bailey Stone who got to the plate first. Joe arrived a minute later, having cut across the infield once it was clear that Justin had been called safe and the game was over.
"What'd you do, babe?" Bailey asked.
"Hurt my fuckin' leg, that's what I did!"
"Can you put any weight on it?"
Justin tried and winced. "A little bit. I think it's only a sprain. Just let me lean on you."
By this time Dave Cromer was there. "Maybe you'd better let Bailey take you to the ER and have it checked out," he said.
Justin objected, but Dave and Bailey persuaded him it was the smart thing to do. Brody helped Bailey get Justin and their equipment to Justin's car.
After the three of them left, Dave turned to Joe. "He's obviously not going to be able to work tomorrow. How will that affect things?"
"Well, Dave, with all the rain we've been having everything's growin' like a jungle. If Stone goes out by himself, he won't be able to get everything done. And since it's Friday, somebody would have to go out on Saturday to do the rest."
"Okay, how about this? You go with Bailey." Dave grinned. "You haven't forgotten how to do the grunt work, have you?"
"'Course not! But what about the shop?"
"Brody's got a class tomorrow, but between us, he and I can cover the shop. Becky can hold down the fort at the main office as needed."
Becky had been with Cromer Landscaping as long as Joe had. He was sure she could do anything necessary except perhaps draw up blueprints or run a backhoe, and he wouldn't have been surprised to learn she could manage a backhoe in a pinch.
Joe grinned. "Well, boss man, Bailey and I'll hang around until you get there. Just in case you can't make it by 7:30."
Dave laughed. "Well, Brody's still on Marine time. He can't sleep much after 6:00, so I'll be awake in plenty of time to open up."
"Great. See ya tomorrow."
* * *
Dave was at the shop, grinning, when Joe pulled in at 7:25. Joe wondered if Brody had helped Dave get the day off to a good start, but he didn't say anything about that. "Just had to get here before I did to show me up, huh, boss?"
"Absolutely. And you know you don't have to call me `boss'."
"Yeah, I know. But I was always told to respect my elders." Joe couldn't believe he'd said that. There was just something about Dave. He did respect Dave. Yet there was always a comfort factor in their relationship for which Joe was grateful.
"Elders? How old are you, anyway? About 24?"
"Only a year younger than Brody. And four years younger than me. Not enough to make any difference."
Just then Bailey pulled up in Justin's car. He got out, carrying his bag lunch, and walked over to where Dave and Joe were standing.
"How's our boy?" Dave asked.
Bailey smiled. "Full of piss and vinegar, as usual. He's fit to be tied that he can't come to work."
"What's the word about his leg?"
"It's just a sprain. They taped it up and told him to stay off of it. The doc said he might be able to come to work on Tuesday, but not to if he still had a lot of pain. Told him to take Tylenol." He smiled again. "Wish they'd given him something to calm him down. He's gonna be climbing the walls, even if it's with two hands and only one leg. So what's gonna happen today? I suppose I'll be working alone?"
"Nope. Joe's going to be your partner today. Brody and I will cover the shop. But I've just had an idea. Bring Justin with you Monday if he's up to it. Maybe he can help answer phones and deal with walk-ins."
"I'm sure he'd rather do that than sit at home," Bailey agreed.
It was a hot July day with, fortunately, no sign of rain. Joe enjoyed being outside, using his body, working up a sweat. Bailey was, from Joe's point of view, a perfect co-worker. He jumped to do things instead of waiting for Joe to do them. And he tended to be quiet, so there wasn't much talk even when the machines were shut down and they could hear each other.
Joe hadn't brought a lunch, so between jobs at mid-day they pulled into the drive-up window of the nearest burger place. Joe ordered a double cheeseburger for himself, fries and colas for himself and for Bailey. They thought they were too sweaty and covered with grass clippings to eat inside, plus Bailey had brought a sandwich, so Joe drove to a shady spot and parked.
He felt good. He didn't even mind the smell of two sweaty men in the cab of the truck.
"You really care for Quinn, don't you?" he asked.
Bailey turned and looked at him. "I love him, Joe."
"As in, like, love him?"
Bailey smiled. It was a great smile. Joe had never noticed what nice dark brown eyes Bailey had.
"Yep. I really do love the little bastard."
That made Joe laugh. "I'll bet he's a handful sometimes."
"Oh, yeah." Bailey was quiet for a minute. He seemed to be concentrating. Then he continued, "I have the impression that you don't like Justin much."
"Well, he gets under people's skin once in a while. He's got a big mouth."
Bailey nodded. "Uh huh. But you have to understand that he's really, well, good-hearted. He's full of fun. Loves life. Loves people. But he gets in trouble because he lacks discretion. It's in the mind and out the mouth with Jus. He never means any harm. But he does rub people the wrong way sometimes."
Joe chuckled. "Yep."
"Did you know that Brody really didn't like him when they first met?"
Joe thought for a moment. "When did they meet?"
"The beginning of last summer. Brody was just home from the Marines and they both worked at Petal Pushers."
"I can see how Justin could make a bad first impression. But I thought he and Cox have a kind of special relationship."
"They do. They claim it's like being brothers. But Jus says it didn't start that way. And that it was all his fault."
"Oh, I think he was too mouthy for Brody. You've gotta remember that Brody was just out of the Marines. He'd seen action in Iraq, even lost some buddies, from what I hear. And he was the son of the owners of the shop where Justin worked. I suspect Justin's general cockiness pissed Brody off a little. And then when he accused Brody of being gay, that didn't help."
"Brody wasn't out at that point, huh?"
Bailey grinned. "Apparently not. And Jus admits he had a real Johnson for Brody back then. Now, though, they're just really good friends. I know Jus still loves the hunk, but it's more a brotherly thing."
"Now that he's got you for his lover, huh?" Joe asked, giving Bailey a nudge.
Bailey looked embarrassed. "Yeah, something like that."
They finished their food, threw the waste paper in a nearby receptacle, and went on to their next job.
On the way back to the shop later that afternoon, Joe asked, "When did you first know you were gay?"
If Bailey was startled or offended by the question, he didn't let on. "Last fall, when I realized I was in love with Jus."
"No shit! I'd been cruising along happily thinking I was straight. Had lots of girlfriends, though no long-term relationships. Never spent any time looking at guys or fantasizing about them. Until I realized that, not only did I feel about Justin differently, but that I was jacking off thinking about getting him naked and doing things with him."
Joe was still processing that when Bailey returned the question. "How about you, Joe?"
"Oh, I guess I knew when I was a kid. My cousin introduced me to gay sex. But I kept it quiet, never let on, suppressed all those urges."
"Until just recently, right?"
"Yeah, I'd been living a sexless existence except for jerkin' off until the beginning of this summer."
"I thought I'd heard something like that. What made you come out?"
Joe glanced briefly at Bailey before returning his gaze to the highway ahead. "I think it was your boyfriend that more or less outed me."
Bailey sighed. "I'm sorry. Especially if that's created any problems for you."
Joe thought about that and chuckled. "It hasn't really. I've been havin' a lot of fun now that I'm out and not tryin' to hide anything."
"Go you!" Bailey said, giving him the thumbs up sign.
"Yeah, it's great. Now, I've got another question."
"I'm not much of a reader, but I've heard that gay relationships don't usually last very long. Aren't you worried about you and Justin?"
"I know what the stats say. And I know the odds are stacked against a couple of gay college kids. But right now I can't imagine life without Jus in it, and he says he feels the same way. So I'm just hoping and occasionally praying that he keeps loving me."
"I hope he does, too. Seems to me he's got a pretty good man."
* * *
Joe's mother called on Monday and invited him to come home for Sunday dinner that weekend, saying it was time he and Kevin met.
As he drove to Bryant on Sunday morning he was a little tense. He was having trouble reconciling contradictory feelings. He wanted his mother to be happy. She'd worked hard all her life, and she deserved that. No reason why she should be alone if she had found a good man. On the other hand, Joe couldn't help being suspicious. Being honest with himself, he admitted he was prepared to dislike this Kevin he was about to meet.
His mother was about 5'5" and what was sometimes called petite. She had green eyes and light brown hair. He suspected she had it colored to cover up the gray, but he'd never asked and she'd never said. But obviously Joe got his size and coloring from the long-absent father. Perhaps it was because of the size difference that he felt so protective. Or perhaps because he knew she'd sacrificed to give him a decent life as he was growing up.
Kevin wasn't at all as Joe had imagined him. About 5'9", balding, with red hair, what there was of it, a mustache and a little goatee, he had blue eyes. The sight of the mustache made Joe remember Marcus. He clenched his buttocks together and forced his mind back to the present. Kevin was on the thin side. Obviously he and Betsy had gone to church that morning because he was wearing dress slacks and a white shirt with a necktie.
He had a good, firm handshake. In fact, the shaking of hands almost turned into a contest until Joe remembered he had nothing to prove to this guy.
"You two sit here in the living room and get to know each other while I get dinner on the table." She turned to Joe. "Honey, since I went to church I didn't do anything very elaborate. I'm frying chicken, and we'll have mashed potatoes and green beans. I hope that's okay."
"Sounds great to me, Mom," Joe said.
"Elizabeth, can I help in the kitchen?" Kevin asked.
She put a hand on his shoulder. "No, I could do all this with my eyes shut. You boys just visit and I'll call."
"Mom, would you like me to set the table?"
"No, dear. Kevin's already done that. Just sit." She said that last firmly. "I'll bring you both some iced tea."
Joe was about to offer to get the tea, but he realized that would be a mistake. So he had to try to make conversation with Kevin.
But it was the older man who started things off. "Joe, your mother talks about you all the time. I'm glad to get to meet you, finally."
"Well, she more or less has to brag on me since I'm all she's got."
"She's very proud of you."
"I don't know why."
Kevin smiled. "You aren't fishing for compliments, are you?"
"No, sir. I've just never done much to make her proud as far as I can tell."
"Okay. You never got into trouble in high school. You were a star of the baseball team. You turned out to be a good, decent man even though you never had the guidance of a father. And you've worked hard to make a life for yourself since you left home. Recently you got a promotion at work and your boss tells you you're doing a good job. Isn't all that true?"
"Well, I suppose so, but . . ." Joe was impressed. Dr. Miller, to use his title, had obviously been paying attention when Betsy talked of her son.
"So, if all those things are true, as your mother claims and you admit, then I'd say she has every reason to be proud of you. And I'd like it if you could call me Kevin. Or, as people around here call me, `Doc,' and you could do that if it's easier for you."
"Thanks, Doc." Maybe this guy was going to be okay. "Mom hasn't told me much about you. Mostly because I'm not home much. Where are you from? You haven't been in Bryant very long, have you?"
"I was born and grew up in Erie. Went to Penn State, all the way from freshman year to my DVM. I worked in a veterinary clinic near Butler for about a dozen years. Then a few years back I had the chance to buy out Doc Clevenger's practice when he was ready to retire, and here I am!"
"Are most of your, um, patients pets or do you take care of farm animals, too?"
"In a town this size, I do everything from spaying kittens to artificially inseminating cows," Kevin said.
"Cool!" was all Joe could think to say.
"Look, Joe," Doc said, "I want to say this while your mother's in the kitchen." He looked Joe in the eye and leaned forward, putting his forearms on his knees. "I can imagine you're pretty suspicious of me." Joe started to say something, but Doc put his hand up and continued. "I just want you to know that I love your mother. I would never hurt her. I'll even go so far as to tell you that I've asked her to marry me. She's still `thinking about it'. But whatever happens, you can be sure I want her to be happy."
Just then Betsy came from the kitchen. "Let's go into the dining room, boys. Dinner's ready."
On their way to the table, Joe said quietly, "Thanks, Doc, for telling me that."
The meal passed much more pleasantly than Joe had thought it might. He quickly lost the reserve he'd felt about meeting his mother's boyfriend. Though that word bothered him a bit.
As they were finishing Betsy's homemade peach pie, Kevin asked, "Have you told Joe about Labor Day?"
"Oh, no, I haven't. Thanks for reminding me." She seemed to be blushing.
"What about Labor Day?"
"Well, dear, there are two things I wanted to tell you. First of all," she glanced across the table, "Kevin has asked me to spend the weekend with him in Erie. He wants me to meet his parents."
Joe thought that seemed very old fashioned, but it was sort of, well, sweet, too.
"So you're gonna go?"
"Yes. You don't mind, do you?"
"No, I can find something to do." Roger would be getting ready to leave for Pittsburgh that weekend and probably wouldn't be available. Then he remembered that his cousin Bill had said something about Labor Day. "Has Aunt Sue said anything about Bill coming home for the holiday?"
"No, she hasn't, but I don't think he will be. That was the other thing I was going to tell you. Sue and Will are going to that place in the woods with their friends Gary and Ellen for the whole week. They've had the cabin reserved for months."
"Oh." He was bummed. Well, maybe he could check with Karensky and see what he was doing for Labor Day. "It's just like any other weekend only a day longer. I hope you guys have a good time in Erie."
They sat around after dinner in the living room for a while, but Joe felt as if he was keeping his mother and Kevin from doing whatever it was they would otherwise be doing. And he didn't even want to think about what that was. So he stood, told Kevin he was glad to have met him, hugged and kissed his mother, thanked her for dinner, and left.
* * *
The next evening when he got home from work he had a letter from his cousin. This time it wasn't handwritten: Bill had apparently typed it on his word processor, printed it out, signed it, and put it in the mail.
Mom and Dad are going to be away for a week in September, including the Labor Day weekend, so I thought I'd ask if I could spend the weekend with you and Aunt Betsy.
She tells me that she's going to be away that weekend, too. She was rather evasive about where she was going to be, but she was also very apologetic. She said she knew you'd be disappointed if we didn't get to see each other "after all this time," as she said.
Here's the thing. I'd already made my airline reservations. So I'm wondering . . . What say I come see you? I could drive to Higgins or else to Bryant. We could spend a day and a night together. Then I'd drive back to Mansfield and see my high school bud Tom Newman.
If this sounds good to you, let me know. In fact, why don't you call me? Once I know what works for you, I can arrange things with Tom. You have my number. BTW, why don't you have a computer????
Joe immediately called the number he had for his cousin, but he got the voice mail asking him to leave a number. He guessed his cousin was either not home from work yet or had gone out for supper. So he showered.
Justin, who had come in with Bailey that morning, insisted on hanging around the office while Joe went out once again with Justin's crew partner. It had been a hot day and he'd enjoyed the physical activity, working up a sweat alongside the agreeable Bailey. When they got back to the shop, Justin was there alone. He seemed pleased that Dave had come in but had decided to go back to the main office, leaving Justin "in charge." The boy insisted that he would be fine to work with Bailey the next day.
He grinned. "I'll use the rider and my slave here can do the grunt work."
Bailey smiled, cuffed him affectionately, and said, "Slave, huh? Wait till tonight and we'll see who's a slave!"
Later that evening Joe's phone rang. It was Bill returning his call. He seemed delighted when Joe said he could come whenever he wanted and stay as long as he was able. Joe was a little embarrassed for his lawyer cousin to see his shabby apartment and suggested that they might want to meet at his mother's house. Bill had said he'd rather see where Joe lived. And, he'd added, there'd be more to do in the Colby area than there would be in Bryant.
* * *
The rest of July and all of August seemed to pass quickly. There was his work to keep him busy on weekdays. The Hammers continued to play a couple of evenings a week.
The first time he and Roger got together after the three-way, Joe pretended to be angry that Roger and Marcus had set him up.
Roger laughed. "You didn't seem to mind at the time. In fact, once you saw what was goin' down, you were a willing participant." He adjusted his crotch. "Man, that was some night."
Joe had to agree that it was.
Joe and Roger managed to hook up occasionally, but Roger's schedule required him to work from late afternoon until Dillard's closed at 9:00, which meant they had trouble meshing their schedules. On the occasions when they did get together, however, they'd always had a hot time. Joe told himself he'd miss Roger once he left for graduate school.
Jeff Karensky, however, he saw frequently. Not only were there furtive gropings and the occasional blow job at work, but the two often had athletic sex either at Joe's place or in Jeff's larger apartment in Colby. Jeff was a good-natured and always-randy guy. They never found much to talk about, and there was never any display of affection, but, wherever they took place, their sexual bouts seemed to leave them both happily sated.
After four years of being celibate, of being to all intents and purposes asocial, Joe realized that he'd not just come out of the closet but had indeed erupted from it. Not that he was sashaying around with a lisp and a limp wrist, but he had been having frequent, lusty sex ever since that night early in the summer when Roger had, as Joe thought of it, picked him up at Gridley's. Sex with Jeff. Sex with Roger. And that one unforgettable time with Roger and Marcus.
But. He saw how Bailey Stone looked at Justin Quinn, watched over him, occasionally restraining him or chiding him but also obviously loving him. He saw his boss and Brody Cox together, saw how they seemed to read each other's minds sometimes, how they were . . . connected. He saw. And he hoped. Maybe someday . . . .
* * *
Bill called in mid-August to say that he would be flying into Cleveland Hopkins International on the Friday of Labor Day weekend. He'd reserved a car and planned to drive to Higgins that evening. Depending on whether or not the plane was on time, he thought he might arrive at Joe's about 10:00. Joe offered directions, but Bill said he'd get directions online and that he'd probably have a car with a navigation system.
That weekend Joe went to Penney's and bought new sheets and towels. Then he stopped at a chain furniture store and bought a new coffee table. The one he'd bought from Brody was too embarrassing; he couldn't let his lawyer cousin see that. He was a bit worried about Bill seeing his apartment at all, but rationalized that Bill had invited himself and would just have to put up with what Joe could offer.
Then there was the problem with sleeping arrangements. He'd have to offer Bill the bed. But the couch in the living room wasn't quite long enough for Joe's frame. He usually slept soundly, but he knew there was a good chance he'd wake up with a stiff neck or sore back if he slept on it. Thinking back to the times he and Billy had been together in the past, he couldn't help hoping that Bill would suggest they sleep together. He adjusted his dick.
* * *
The Friday evening of the Labor Day weekend Joe was nervous. He'd made sure there was plenty of beer in the fridge, and he'd even bought a bottle of Seagram's 7. He had eggs and sausage and bacon, a half gallon of orange juice, and had even picked up some expensive coffee to have instead of the supermarket brand he usually bought. He figured they'd have lunch out on Saturday, but he had a couple of steaks, salad makings, and deli potato salad for Saturday dinner. Which, of course, he could save for later in the week if he and Bill decided to eat out.
There was a knock on his door about 10:15. For some reason he was surprised when he opened it and didn't find his visitor there in a three-piece suit. That was always the way he'd pictured the lawyer cousin he hadn't seen in years. But Bill was wearing a tee, baggy shorts, white socks and sneakers, looking just like a slightly older version of most of the guys Joe saw when he was near the CSU campus.
"God! You're gorgeous!" Bill said. He dropped the bag he was carrying and put his arms around Joe, kissing him on the cheek. Then he stepped back. "Yeah. Gorgeous! You sure grew up into a stud. Where are the glasses?"
"I, uh, um, got some contacts. And thanks."
A couple of inches shorter than Joe, Bill had his father's longish face, dirty blond hair which looked as if he'd paid a lot of money to have it messed up, and, just as Joe remembered, hazel eyes. He was good looking if not handsome, and he obviously took care of himself, his shoulders broad, his stomach flat, and his calves muscular. He had great guns, too, Joe noted.
"I can't get over you," Bill said, looking Joe up and down.
Embarrassed, as always when people told him how good he looked, Joe changed the subject. "Um, did you get some supper?"
"Yeah, I'm good, thanks. Stopped at a place before I got on the Turnpike."
"How `bout a beer? Or something stronger?"
Bill smiled. "A beer would be great, thanks. But can I use your john? The coffee I had has gone through me."
Joe showed him where the bathroom was and then got two beers from the fridge.
Bill wanted to know all about Joe's life. It didn't take Joe long to bring him up to date since he felt his life had been uneventful between his graduation from high school and getting his promotion earlier that summer.
Then Joe asked Bill about his life. Bill explained that after graduating from law school he'd gotten a job with a smallish law firm in Morristown, New Jersey. He'd passed the New Jersey bar exam and was now in the kind of job he'd always dreamed of having.
"Uh, that's great, Bill. But I've gotta ask something?"
"What about guys? Anybody special in your life?"
Bill shook his head. "Not any more. I had a guy my first year in law school, but he eventually decided he could do better and dumped me. He's now making half again as much as I am in his new lover's father's law firm in New Rochelle. So now I'm working my ass off, trying to keep my bosses happy, make enough to live on and still pay off my student loans." He gave Joe a rueful smile and set down his empty beer bottle.
They continued to talk, just catching up. After a while Joe went to the kitchen and returned with two more beers. As he sat down again facing his cousin, he couldn't help thinking one more time about how different their lives were. Bill was smart, educated – a lawyer, yet – living near New York, making good money. He couldn't help wondering why his cousin even wanted to make this trip to Ohio to see him. Oh, right, he'd already bought the tickets when he found out his folks would be away. Still, Joe couldn't help wondering how much they'd find to talk about while Bill was there.
Bill kicked off his sneakers and leaned back in the old recliner. Joe followed suit, toeing off his shoes and putting his feet on the brand new coffee table.
"You know, I've never forgotten that time when I babysat you. At first you really resented having me there, didn't you?"
"Well, uh . . ."
Bill had a really nice smile. "Come on, Joe. Admit it."
"Okay, I guess I did. But then, uh . . ."
"Then we got into sex, and that changed things, didn't it?"
`It changed everything,' Joe thought. He chuckled. "It sure as fuck did."
They reminisced about their teen years, both regretting that they'd been able to get together so infrequently.
"You taught me a lot," Joe said, raising his beer bottle in salute.
"My pleasure," Bill said. The beginnings of a smile twitched at the corners of his mouth. "Speaking of which, are you going to share your bed with me tonight or am I sleeping on that couch?"
Joe set down his bottle and took a deep breath. He'd anticipated this moment. "I thought I'd sleep on the couch and let you have my bed." He studied his cousin's face and decided Bill would be a good poker player. But that probably came with being a lawyer. "Unless you meant it about sharing the bed."
Bill grinned and in a campy manner asked, "Honey, why do you think I'm here?"
"I suppose you're tired, what with the plane flight and driving out here and all."
Raising a seductive eyebrow, Bill said, "I'd happily go to bed. But I may be a little keyed up from my long journey. Think you could help me relax?"
Now it was Joe who grinned. "Cousin Billy, a guy's gotta do what he can to help out somebody who's family, right?"
As it turned out, Bill wasn't nearly as tired as he'd let on.
They talked until after midnight. When they finally decided to go to bed, Joe felt a moment of awkwardness, especially about starting to take off his clothes. He and Bill had done about everything two males can do with each other, but it had been years. He'd had frequent sex involving three different men in the last three months, but that was different, too. In the years during which they hadn't seen each other, Bill had graduated from college, gone to graduate school, become a lawyer. He lived in a world totally different from Joe's. His mind told him none of that mattered, that this was still his sexy cousin. But he couldn't help feeling shy, didn't know how to make the first move.
"Earth to Joe? What's going on in there, cuz?"
"Um, sorry. I, uh, usually don't wear anything to bed, but I'll wear shorts and a tee shirt if you'd rather."
Bill licked his lips, intentionally seductive. "They'd just be in the way, big boy."
Joe took a deep breath and said, "So that's the way it is, huh? Okay then, mister, let's get rid of them."
"Slow down. It's more fun when you take time to enjoy it." He peeled off his polo shirt and laid it on the chair. "Now, just the shirt. Let me enjoy the unveiling."
Embarrassed and excited, feeling almost as he had when he and Bill had first gotten naked together, Joe took off the shirt, putting it on top of Bill's.
"Now, come here," Bill said softly.
As Joe had guessed, Bill had a nicely chiseled torso. His pecs, obviously developed by hours in the gym, were covered with golden fuzz which then narrowed on its way to his navel and out of sight into the shorts that were hanging low on his hips.
He took two rapid steps and reached for Bill.
"Whoa, dude. Slower is better. Let me show you." He put his arms around Joe and began to stroke his back very lightly with both hands. At the same time he nuzzled the side of Joe's neck.
Joe whimpered. Then he reached around Bill, sinking his fingers down into the shorts so he could squeeze Bill's buns. They were covered with soft fuzz.
"Gently," Bill whispered in his ear.
Joe heard himself whimper again. `He's right. This is good. If I just don't explode before we get into bed.'
To Be Continued
Big hugs to Drew, Tinn, and Mickey for all kinds of editorial advice and encouragement.
Emails encouraged at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you email me, please put the story title in the subject line so I'll know it isn't spam. Thanks. --Tim