Written by J.P.G.

{"Jacob Finding His Way" is partly fictional. As I am writing this story, I am above the age of 21. If you want a story with lots of sex, look elsewhere. This is a love story. Seeing as it is a love story, sex is in there, but it's in realistic balance in the characters' lives.

Any similarity to any real events, names, or life events is purely accidental. If you are underage, (according to your state laws, a minor), if this literature is offensive to you or to anyone around your viewing area, or it is illegal for you to view such content where you are reading it,  stop reading the story.

This story can't be distributed in any way, shape or form without the author's expressed written consent.}

Story Written by: J.P.G.

Love Scenes Written By: Daddy Rick

Edited By: Daddy Rick

Chapter 64

Andy Sr. opened the store for the first time on his own. Ana informed him yesterday that she has appointments to take care of she won't be able to open up with him. At first Andy didn't want to open alone, but Ana told him that he has nothing to worry about. Out of all the managers in this store, he is the most capable. When Andy heard that, he felt a bit more at ease and ready to take on his new responsibilities.

As Andy drove up to the store, his opening crew was standing in the parking lot waiting for him. They saw him and walked to the back door. Andy greeted his staff as he opened the door and turned off the alarm. While securing the back door, the staff went on as normal with their assigned area's allowing Andy to do what he needs to do without worrying about his crew. Although it took him a little longer than Ana, Andy did everything in the office before checking out the store. While doing his rounds, he found that the evening crew didn't clean the bathrooms when they closed the night before. He made a note of it and continued.

When he walked back to the counter, he asked his opening cashier to clean the bathrooms for him before the store opens. Not questioning Andy, she went to the supply closet and grabbed what she needed to do what she was asked to do.

It surprised Andy that he finished everything that he needed to do before opening the store with ten minutes to spare. So he went to grab himself a cup of coffee before he asked the crew if they were ready. The crew member opening the kitchen needed help getting things from the walk-in, so Andy helped him out.

After getting everything in place, Andy went and unlocked the door for the waiting customers to come in. Right off the bat they asked where Ana was as they headed to place their orders. Since they get the same thing every day, the opening cashier knew exactly what they wanted before they said it. As far as their question where Ana was, Andy simply replied that she is off.

Since this is now Andy's store, he knew that he needed to get to know the regular customers like Ana. Instead of going back to the office, Andy decided to spend time with some of the regulars. While talking with them, he learned a lot more about the store, the employees and the old ownership.

It actually surprised Andy how much these people knew about the store. If Andy didn't know better, he would have thought that they actually worked for the main office. Since his son is the owner, he knows they don't. Still he is making mental note of everything the customers are saying so he can learn from them, from the customer's point of view.

After talking with the customers for almost a half hour, the morning rush started. Andy thanked them and headed back to help out wherever he could. By the time he reached the kitchen several more employees had clocked in leaving Andy to go between the kitchen and the front counter like Ana always does. This is something that he needs to get used to. Ana kept telling him all week that he is no longer a line employee.

Chase started to get nervous when he saw Ethan walking out with Jacob. Right now he isn't ready to come out to anyone because he doesn't know where he stands. Now he sees Ethan and Jacob alone talking and his mind is just getting away from him. The main worry is that Ethan is telling Jacob about their agreement.

Instead of sitting there wondering, Chase got up and walked toward Jacob and Ethan. Just as he caught up to them, Jacob took off running. At first Chase had no idea why he is running and then Ethan took off. He looked over where the guys are running to and saw what got their attention. Not thinking twice, he ran after the guys to make sure no harm came to either of them.

As he reached the dugout, Jacob had already pulled several guys off of David. When one of the guys went at Jacob Chase grabbed hold of his shoulders and threw him to the ground. The others that were beating on David just stood there looking at Jacob. It looked to Chase as if they are actually sizing them up.

The guy that looked like the leader of this bunch looked Jacob squarely in the face. "Why don't you guys just leave this devil worshiper to us? There is no place for people like him at this school or in this city. If he wants to believe in satin, we are ready to give him a one way ticket to meet the devil!"

"I will tell you why! He is my friend and no friends of mine get beaten up by cowards like you guys." The guys took several steps toward Jacob as he talked. "What, there are five of you? It shouldn't take five guys to beat one guy up, unless the five guys are weak. Are you guy's weak? If you have a problem with him, you have a problem with me."

Chase and Ethan jumped in and backed up Jacob. "There are only three of you, and six of us." Another guy walked around from the side of the dugout. "That devil worshiper can't help you; look at him. We knocked the living shit out him. Just walk away and let us finish the job. If you choose not to, well, you will join him on the ground."

Just then the guys walked up. Tom called the guy that was talking by his name. "Benny you don't want to choose this fight, trust me." Tom looked around at the other guys that were standing at Benny's side. "If you guys choose this fight, you will lose because you will have to fight all of us. Leave David alone! Do I make myself clear? If I ever hear that you are giving him problems, well let me just say you will look like the way he looks right now. You know I don't just say things to just to say them."

Benny knew he was out numbered. He tried to use his six to three against Jacob, but now the odds have turned. He didn't say anything to Tom. Benny walked away with his friends following him. As they walked away, Jacob had a feeling that this is not the last they will see of Benny and his friends; not as long as David is part of their group.

Jacob turned his attention back to David and pulled him up from the ground. The rest of the group surrounded him so no one else would see him. While David used his t-shirt to clean his face, Jacob tried to talk him into seeing the nurse, but David refused. So Jacob let it go. Instead he took off his jacket and shirt to get to his t-shirt. Once he took his t-shirt off, he handed it to David so he could finish cleaning his face.

After getting the mud and blood off his face, arms and wherever else anyone could see, David handed Jacob back his t-shirt. Not to look mean, Jacob took his t-shirt back and as they walked back to the building, Jacob tossed the t-shirt in the trash when David wasn't looking. None of them asked David what had happened. They figured if he wanted them to know, he would have spoken up.

Although Tom made it clear to Benny and his friends to leave David alone, Jacob fears that they are going to try again. The look in their eyes told him everything. They wanted to kill David for being a devil worshipper. The only other time Jacob has seen that look is when people that don't like his lifestyle have come after him. It seems that David and he are two peas in a pod; neither of them are accepted.

Now that the commotion was over, Chase went back to wondering what Jacob and Ethan were talking about before he got to them. He knows that it couldn't be about school or work. So that leaves only one thing in Chase's mind. Since his mind has a tendency to get away from him, Chase knows he needs to find out if Ethan told Jacob anything about him or about the discussion that he and Ethan had at the beginning of the week.

While the other guys headed down separate halls to their lockers, Chase followed Jacob. Since both of their lockers are almost side by side, he can talk with Jacob before first period. Chase needs to know if Ethan has told Jacob anything.

When Jacob finished getting what he need from his locker, he noticed Chase just leaning against the wall. He knew that Chase wanted to tell him something, but he's not a hundred percent sure what it is. As he closed the locker and spins the lock dial, Jacob looked over at Chase and asked him what was on his mind.

"Jacob I know you won't tell me what you and Ethan talked about, but I am going to ask anyways. Keep in mind that you and I have been friends since our freshman year and we have told each other everything. Can you please tell me what you and Ethan talked about before you jumped into that fight with members of the baseball team?"

"You're right, we have been friends since our freshman year, but you are wrong on the other thing. I know you Chaser-man, as well as I can know anyone that isn't my boyfriend. I know when you are hurting, bothered or just thinking. There has been something going on with you and either you are afraid of telling me or you just don't trust me."

That got Chase thinking. More now then ever he needs to know what those two talked about before he got there. It seems that Jacob knows something, but Chase has no idea what it is. He also doesn't know who told him, if anyone told him anything. To make matters worse for Chase, he goes and floats out a question like he just did.

"I know it was wrong of me to ask you to tell me about a conversation you had in private. I am just hitting my head against the wall with so many things right now. Then you being sick, I couldn't go to you as I have in the past and put my problems on your shoulders. Come on, you have enough problems on your shoulders already.

There is something really bothering me and I have spoken with Andy Jr. about it. He gave me really good advice. I guess what I am trying to say is that I am sorry for asking you that question. Give me a little time and I will bend your ear on what is going on with me. For now just ignore me whenever I get this way."

"Look Chase I have never asked you to tell me something when you weren't ready. If you went to my brother instead of me, I'm fine with that. I thought our friendship was to the point that we could tell each other anything no matter how bad we think it may be. Now I can see that you have a line in your mind that you can't cross when it comes to telling me things.

With that said, you figure out whatever you need to figure out, but don't be coming to me like you just did. I will never tell anyone about a private conversation I had with any of my friends and you know that. So do what you need to do and when you are ready to confide in me as your best friend, let me know."

Before Chase could respond to Jacob, the warning bell rang. Jacob walked into the classroom leaving Chase just standing in the hall. He stood there thinking what he just did. Not only he just asked Jacob to betray a trust, he pretty much told Jacob that he isn't his best friend anymore. That is something he didn't mean to do. Of all his friends, Jacob has always been there no matter what.

Chase walked in and sat down at his desk, not paying attention to the teacher. He tried to figure out a way to show Jacob that he still considers him his best friend without telling him what he is going through. The more he thought, the more he saw there is only one way out of this and that is telling Jacob the truth.

With Andy Jr., Patricia and Ethan knowing what they know is enough for Chase. The more people that find out what he is feeling about Ethan, the more chances are it will get around school. Chase has seen the way people look at Jacob and the others that are gay and that is a look he doesn't want others to be giving him behind his back.

As Ethan made his way to lunch he heard Chris calling for him. He turned and waited for Chris to catch up to him. Once Chris did, he tried to grab Ethan's hand, but Ethan pulled away from Chris. He turned and gave Chris an ugly look as he walked into the cafeteria.

When Chris walked up behind Ethan, he turned and whispered. "I told you that I am not out and I don't want you to force me to be out when I am not ready. If you need someone that is, you better look elsewhere. You already let the cat out of the bag when you talked to Chase. It took a lot of back peddling for me to correct that one. If another person finds out I really don't think I will be able to wiggle my way out of it again."

"I am sorry Ethan! It was just an automatic move. I'm not trying to make you come out when you aren't ready to. Please don't be mad with me, I won't do it again." Chris's voice started to crack as he got out the last words.

Ethan had no idea how to respond to Chris. The very thing he has been worrying about is right here in front of him, Chris falling for him. There is no doubt now in Ethan's mind that Chris is already in love with him. It looks like the heart doesn't listen to the head because Ethan did ask and was promised by Chris not to fall for him. They aren't even going out as a couple yet, but here they are one of them falling for the other.

Ethan got his lunch and walked to a corner, followed by Chris. "You know where I stand Chris. I never once lied to you when we first talked about the possibilities of going out. Right now I am not out to anyone except Jacob. Because of that I am not looking for a boyfriend. You need to find a way to slow down."

"Ethan, are you telling me that there is not even a chance in the future that you and I will become boyfriends?" Chris looked at Ethan with a hurt look.

"No, I am telling you that right now I am not looking for a boyfriend. I don't know what the future holds for me. As I told you before, if we click, I will tell my family and friends. If we don't, I would like it if we can stay friends. The only way that is going to happen is if you get control of your emotions."

Chris stood there looking at Ethan's chest, not able to make eye contact with him. Ethan did tell him from the beginning not to think there is going to be more than just a friendship between them. It's just that he thought things were changing between them. Now he knows that nothing has changed. In fact it looks like Ethan is backing away from him.

"Okay I hear you loud and clear Ethan. I will step back and let you figure out what you want to do. When you are ready to deal with what you are feeling, don't be surprised if I have moved on. I am not afraid of being who I am, unlike you. One day you will realize it isn't worth hiding what you are from everyone around you. That is no way to live and I am speaking from experience!"

Ethan's own thoughts and words are now being thrown back at him. Just days before he said almost the same thing to Chase! Now he is hearing the words from Chris and boy do they slice right to the bone. He knows he needs to make the decision to come out, but he doesn't like being forced into it.

"Chris you are a great guy and I would be blind not to see that. You are where I want to be, but I am just not ready. I can sit here all day explaining why, but you don't want to hear my reasons. Just believe me, if you and I keep getting to know each other and we both fall in love, I will tell the world about myself.

Another thing I think you are missing is the fact people like to get to know each other Chris. I don't know if, in your past, you just jumped into being a couple. I am not like that. I like to get to know a person before dating. Once we date for a while we can then decide if we are going to be a couple. By the looks of it you want to skip over all that. Maybe that's why you haven't been able to stay in a relationship."

That statement hit home for Chris. He thought back to Josh, and Ethan is right. They really didn't date before becoming a couple. Then he and Rusty didn't date that much before becoming a couple either. He blamed that breakup on two things; rebound and comparing Rusty to Josh all the time, but maybe he was wrong about that.

Before their food got any colder, they nodded hands and headed to their separate group of friends. As Ethan sat down, he looked over to Chase and saw how he is with Patricia. Just as he looked back down to his tray, Patricia looked at him and smiled. Ethan decided that he didn't want anyone else to get hurt like Chris just did. He needs to let go of the fancy of dating Chase when it is oblivious he likes women.

As the day wore on, Jacob got a surprise visit from Steve. He really doesn't know much about him except that he was with Alex in the detention facility. Other than that, Steve is pretty much a stranger to Jacob. So when Steve walked up and asked to speak with him, Jacob was surprised and confused at the same time.

Then Steve explained why he needed to speak with him and that really threw Jacob off his feet. Trying his best not to come across irritated, Jacob told Steve that he is always welcome at his house. They never tried to keep away from him or Robert at their get togethers the last couple weeks.

When Jacob reminded Steve that they talked about these parties in front of him, he could see that Steve realized that there wasn't anything bad going on.  Even so Jacob reminded Steve about tomorrow and he made it clear he wanted to see Robert and him there. When Jacob said that, it looked like it took care of Steve's hurt feelings.

As he walked to his final period of the day, Jacob couldn't help thinking how weird this day has turned out. First Chase came up and said some weird things that might have made sense to him, but not to Jacob. Before that Ethan did the same thing. While they were talking they had to deal with the David issue. And finally there's the conversation that he just had with Steve. The only thing Jacob thought could be causing everyone to act strange is that there is something in the water.

Instead of going home after school, Jacob decided to go in the office for a couple of hours. He knows that his grandfather isn't going to approve, but he feels that he has to earn the pay checks he is getting. So he will deal with what ever backlash he gets from Al, but when it is all said and done Jacob will put in some time in the office.

The minute he walked into the doors, just like he thought, Al wasn't happy seeing him. Jacob stood there and let Al tell him the same thing he has been telling him for weeks. Simply put Al keeps saying over and over again that he needs to be a teenager because there is plenty of time for him to grow up after high school.

"Grandpa I honesty see where you are coming from, but you need to see where I am coming from too. You are putting so much pressure on yourself and not giving me any of it. At the same time I am getting paychecks for work I haven't done. I love you grandpa, but if you keep pushing yourself as much as you are, I am afraid you are going to get sick. This family has had enough of that.

So I need you to give me some responsibilities; not a lot, but some. I need enough to keep me in the loop, but not take more than a couple of days of the week. After all grandpa, I am a teenager that needs to be doing what teenagers do. I can promise you that most teenagers do not run huge companies while they are still in high school."

Al started laughing as he leaned back in his chair. "Okay Jacob, thank you I really needed that today. What I am going to do is let you take over the running of the McDonalds part of our company since Ana is now in place. As soon as I put the other parts of the company together and there are no hiccups, I will bring you into that part as well. Right now McDonalds won't take a lot of your time since Ana will be handling most of it."

Jacob accepted what his grandpa is willing to give him and started to walk out, but Al called him back in. He handed Jacob several files and explained to him what needs to be done. On top of that pile of records is his father's promotion, the firing of the supervisor and Ana's promotion. There was also a suggestions file that Ana put together.

As soon as he walked into his office, he picked up the phone to see if Ana was in. When he found that she was, Jacob asked the secretary to let her know that he'd like to see her as soon as possible. Before hanging up the phone the secretary asked if Jacob needed anything else and Jacob said `no'. He only needs to see Ana when she gets a chance.

Jacob started to sort through the files when he heard a knock on the door. He looked up to see Ana smiling back at him. Right away Jacob got up and walked over to give Ana a hug before getting down to business. As they sat down, they talked about the differences between McDonalds and Taco Bell.

After a few minutes of small talk, Jacob got down to business. "Ana the reason you haven't seen me around a lot since you came on board is because I wasn't feeling good. Now that I am back up and healthy again, you and I are going to be working together closely as we did at Taco Bell.

My grandfather has a lot on his plate and has handed this part of the company to me since we now have you in place. To some it may not seem fair, but you are going to be the one that everyone will see as the main boss. The only time I will ever get involved is if you feel it needs to be brought to me. Other than that I will trust your decisions."

"Jacob, thank you for your trust and I promise that I won't change a thing without going over it with you or Al. There are going to be changes, but again I will let you guys know before I make them. We need to make sure first it's legal and second if we all agree it is for the best. I have already started by letting go one of the supervisors."

"Yes I see that." Jacob held up the termination paperwork. "You are out there and see what is going on and again, I trust your judgment. I will be doing a lot more spot checks in the evenings, during my lunch and the weekends, but you are down in the trenches with these stores. If you feel that one or more of the managers aren't working out, take care of it. That is one of the things that my grandfather and I have been dealing with since we bought the franchises from the other owners."

Jacob signed off on the termination and handed it to Ana. "Now the promotion of my father, are you sure that he is the right person to run your old store?"

"Yes I already explained it to Al. I am standing behind him one hundred percent. He has already opened the store on his own and run a shift without me present. When I went in during shift change, there were no complaints. That was after only with four days of training. Yes, he is the right one for the job."

Jacob signed off on the promotion of his father. "Okay he is now the Mesa store manager. I just don't want people going around saying that he is getting special treatment because he is my father. He has to earn everything he is getting. If others see that he has earned it, they will respect him when he is in charge."

"I agree with the second half of what you just said. The crew will respect him even more since they saw that he worked his way up, but I don't agree with the first half. You are the owners and you do what is right for this company. Don't ever think twice about a decision you make because you want it to look good for the employees. If they don't like the decisions you make, they can go and find employment elsewhere."

"That is why you are in your position in this company. You do what is right no matter what it looks like to the employees. I hope to learn a lot from you as we work together with the stores. For now I just wanted to let you know I am back and that we are going to work a lot closer from now on."

Before Ana left, they went over some of the changes that she wants to make as soon as possible. Most Jacob approved and the ones that he wasn't sure about he promised to have her answer by mid  next week. He wants to talk them over with his grandfather and check to see if all the stores will benefit from the changes.

After Ana left, Jacob started going through the files that his grandfather gave him. He can't believe the amount of work that he fell behind on. Before signing off on some of the files, Jacob needed more information. The rest of the files he signed off on because the information he needed was in the files already.

When the secretary made her final rounds of the evening, Jacob handed her the files he was done with and asked her to get the information he needed on the other files. At first she thought that Jacob wanted the information now, but Jacob stopped her. He cleared up the miscommunication and told her Monday is fine.

Jacob continued working even after the secretary and his grandfather left. He called it a night when Dewayne and Tony walked in. Dewayne ran into Al as he and Tony walked in from checking on some of their stores. Al asked Dewayne to get Jacob out at a decent hour. Of course Dewayne agreed because he doesn't want to see Jacob work long hours either.

As soon as they got home, they went into the TV room and plopped themselves down in front of the TV. When Franseca yelled out that dinner was ready, Jacob or Dewayne didn't want to get up. After the second time Franseca called out, Dewayne got up and then pulled Jacob up. When they walked into the kitchen, Jacob was surprised to see Gloria and Andy Sr. sitting at the table.

Although Gloria didn't eat, she stayed at the table getting into the various conversations. She wants to get used to being around a house full of teenagers. She also wants to get back in her children's lives. The only way she could see that happening is to get to know their friends. With Jacob she has to get to know Dewayne along with the other friends.

Whenever she had a chance to say something, she did. That really surprised everyone at the table. None of them has seen this side of Jacob's mother. They only know the side of the wicked witch, but Jacob wasn't a stranger to this side of Gloria. In fact this is the side he has been fighting so hard to get back; the mother he grew up with. The one that gave up so much so her kids could have what they needed!

At one point in the conversation Gloria poked fun at herself when Alex dropped a pitcher of water. As the water dropped to the floor, Gloria jumped up and onto her chair laughing as she spoke that she will melt if the water hits her. Referencing the "Wizard of Oz" and everyone got it because the table cracked up laughing.

Dewayne laughed so hard he started choking on a piece of chicken he was chewing at the time. Immediately Jacob started hitting Dewayne on the back to get the piece of chicken out one way or another. After drinking some water, Dewayne started laughing again. He looked over at Jacob and then leaned in to kiss him on the lips.

"I see what you have been fighting so hard for. This is a mother I would have loved to grown up with." Dewayne kissed Jacob once more before he started eating again.

As the night wore on, the boys hung out in the kitchen with the adults until ten or so. Normally right after dinner they separate and the boys head to the TV room to watch a movie or something. Tonight was different. Everyone saw Gloria in a different light and the other adults got into the humor of the moment. The entire evening was nonstop laughter.

After Andy Sr. and Gloria went to bed, the boys headed to the TV room to watch a movie until bed time. Alex mentioned to Jacob that he can help out in the morning this time since the shop will be closed. Jacob didn't know that Alex and Matt decided to close the shop. Then Alex explained the reason was that the work that was being done tomorrow couldn't be done by those under the age of eighteen. Jacob lost interest when Alex went into detail about taking apart the machines and cleaning them.

"Trust me if you are here I will put you to work. There are a lot of things we need to do before everyone shows up." Jacob slapped Alex on the shoulder as he joined Dewayne on the couch. Alex rubbed his back as he headed to join Matt.

The next morning Jacob got up before anyone. He got dressed, but before leaving the room he kissed his sleeping beauty goodbye. As quietly as he could, Jacob walked out of the house trying to make sure he didn't wake up anyone.

He needed to see for himself if the report Ana filed was right. One of their northeast stores has been coming up short every week on their food count, mainly the meat. Ana thinks that one of the managers are going into the store before it opens, right after the delivery, and stealing the meat because the shortage happens after the truck comes in and when the shift changes happens that day.

When Jacob arrived at the store, he parked across the street in the Auto Zone parking lot. He shut off his engine and looked around. Where he is parked he can see all entrances, including the freezer door. So if anyone is going in after the truck delivers, but before the morning shift, he will catch them.

Just as Jacob was about to give up and head home he saw a hooded person walking up to the freezer door. At first Jacob couldn't figure why this person is trying to get in the store by this door because it can only be opened from the inside. Then his question was answered when he saw the hooded figure removing a stick from where the door latches closed. Jacob knows for sure it is someone that had unloaded the truck.

Not getting out of his car just yet, Jacob waited until the person crawled into the freezer door. He wants to catch the person red handed in the store stealing. When he did, Jacob got out, but he stopped when he saw a car back right up to the freezer door. He turned around and walked over to the pay phones and dialed 911. After reporting what was going on, Jacob hung up the phone and waited for the police to show up.

Seven minutes later, two police cruisers drove up with their lights flashing and blocked the car in so it couldn't drive off. The officers made the driver of the car hit the ground and then asked the person in the store come out with his hands up. When the officers went over and placed the person on his knees, they took off the hood and it surprised Jacob, it wasn't a he, but a she.

She started to tell the police that she is a manager here at the store and that she is picking up some items for the owner. Jacob caught everything she was saying when he walked up to her. She looked over at him and didn't even recognize him. She wouldn't because this is one of the stores that Jacob hasn't visited yet.

"Officer's I am one of the owners. I am also the one that placed the 911 call." Jacob presented the officer with his driver's licenses as he talked. "Neither me or my grandfather asked this employee to get anything for us from this store, more so meat."

"Mr. Hernandez, how do we know that you are telling us the truth? As far as we know you could be part of this group robbing this place. To be completely honest with you, you are way too young to be the owner of a company like this; maybe a candy stand or some thing like that, but not a million dollar company!"

What the officer just said angered Jacob. This has been going on ever since he and his grandfather bought the franchises. He has gotten used to having this problem from the employees, but not being questioned by the officer that he called for help.

"I can see that it does look strange when a teenage kid walks up and claims to own a company like this, but I am telling you the truth. All we have to do is walk in to the store and I can prove it to you. In the office there is a file that has pictures of me and my grandfather that we sent out when we bought the franchise. We sent this file out to all store managers in case of something like this."

The officer agreed to go into the store with Jacob, but warned him if he is lying, he will be arrested. Jacob didn't worry about that as he went back to his car to get his keys to the store. Once he found the right key, Jacob turned off the alarm when they got in. The officers followed Jacob to the office and he pulled out the file he was talking about. The officers looked it over and handed it back to Jacob.

As they made their way back to the freezer door, the opening crew showed up. The store manager walked up to see what was going on. When he saw Jacob and then one of his assistant managers in handcuffs, he knew. Before letting the opening crew in, he confirmed who Jacob is.

"Mr. Hernandez what do you want us to do with her? After all, she is an employee of your store and a manager to boot. Aren't managers allowed in the stores at anytime? Also, she never left the property with the merchandise. You should have taken pictures and let her take off with the stuff."

"I don't care that she never left the property. She didn't have permission to be in the store when she was. It is obvious she is stealing from the company and I want her arrested. This isn't the first time we've had losses. You can confirm that by calling your precinct and you will see that we have filed several reports of stolen merchandise. The police didn't do a thing about it. Are you refusing to do something about it now?"

The store manager walked up to Jacob and asked to speak with him in private. They walked to the gate of the playground, away from the officers. When they stopped, Jacob waited to for the store manager to say something. After all he was the one that asked to speak in private.

"Mr. Hernandez I know I have no right to ask you this, but I am going to ask you anyway. Could you please just fire the assistant manager and let me deal with her? She is my sister and she isn't all there at times. Her husband takes advantage of her handicap and I know it was him that made her do this."

Jacob looked at the manager trying to figure out what his gimmick is. "As you know this shortage in your meat count has been going on for over a month now. Did you know it was your sister doing this the whole time? Also, how in world did your sister get promoted to assistant manager if she isn't "all there" as you put it?"

"I had my suspicions, but couldn't prove it. Just like you did, I was planning to do the same thing. I wanted to know once and for all who was stealing from my store. Except every time I planned to come down here to catch the thief, something always came up."

"Let me make this as clear as possible; your sister is fired and is no longer allowed on this property or any property my family owns. Do I make myself clear on this?" The store manager nodded his head. "Don't think that is all, sir. By you not doing anything when you thought it was your sister, you are as much to blame for all this. Come Monday I want you at the main office to meet with Ana, the Vice President of Operations. I will let her know what happened here this morning. It will be her decision what to do."

"Are you going to ask her to fire me as well sir?"

"Right now I really don't know what I am going to recommend to her. The reason for that is I don't know if you would have ever turned in your sister if you were the one that caught her. You suspected her to be the thief, but yet you didn't remove her from her position. That should have been the least you should have done. Also I question why your sister was working for you when we have a strict policy regarding nepotism. I will check into that further."

As they walked back to the officers, the store manager tried to explain to Jacob that she never had keys to the store or an alarm code. Still Jacob requested him to report to the main office first thing Monday. He told the officers to make a report, but he isn't going have her arrested. The officers did what Jacob wanted and left.

On his way home, Jacob felt bad for the store manager. He can see where he is coming from as far as his sister. If this was Jeremy he would do everything he could to make sure no harm was to come to his older brother. At the same time though Jacob wouldn't have ever let Jeremy work at his store as a manager. Simply put the store manager should have known what his sister could handle and what she couldn't.

Dewayne and Al greeted Jacob when he walked into the house. They looked worried, but after Jacob explained where he was, they settled down. Al made it clear to Jacob that in the future if he needs to do something like this, take Dewayne or him along. He went on to explain to Jacob that he was very lucky that he didn't get beaten up or worse had they had a gun.

Dewayne on the other hand wasn't ready to let Jacob off the hook that easily. After what he has been through with his stores, he knows first hand how crazy it is out there. That is what Dewayne explained to Jacob, and Jacob promised him that he will follow his grandfather's advice in the future.

"Jacob it isn't advice, you need to take me, Al or Ana along when ever you do something like this again. In fact don't take Ana! Either I or Al should be the ones to go with you. Like grandpa said what happened if these people had a gun. I can't lose you! I won't lose you! So don't do anything like this again."

"Okay I promise if I go out to deal with my stores I will take you along. Please let's move on, I don't want to fight with you this morning. It is the weekend and we are about to have friends over." Jacob leaned in and kissed Dewayne before heading up to their room.

Reluctantly Dewayne dropped the subject and followed Jacob. When they got to their room, they lay down and went to sleep. When Jacob woke up again, it was a little after eight in the morning. He jumped out of bed and headed down to get the things ready for the get together. Shortly after he walked outside, David and Tom joined him.

They cleaned up the yard, which wasn't much since it was enclosed and neither the windows nor roof was opened through the week. Once they collected the trash that wasn't picked up from last weekend, Jacob flipped the switch and the floor started to part. Then Jacob turned on the heater so the water in the pool would warm up.

Tom and David started to talk with Jacob about what they should do as far as food when Alex walked out. Alex volunteered to help out, but most of the work was done except the grill. Without asking Alex volunteered to clean the grill. Before Jacob or the guys could say anything, Alex walked over to the grill and started taking it apart.

Before Alex could get into the cleaning of the grill, Franseca came out to let them know that breakfast was ready. After breakfast, Al let Jacob know that he was too tired to cook out this weekend. All he wants to do is kick his shoes off and just relax in front of the television. Understanding where his grandfather is coming from, Jacob told Al not worry about anything; he will take care of the cooking.

Leaving his grandfather in the den, Jacob walked over to the TV room to speak with Tom and David. He explained to them what his grandfather just said. When Jacob finished he asked the guys who knows how to cook. They just looked at each other before letting Jacob know the bad news.

"Since none of us really knows how to cook, why don't we just order pizza? That way your grandfather can relax and everyone will eat food that is not burnt. Trust me if you put any of us in charge of grilling, all we will have on our plates are pieces of charcoal."

"Okay I have no problem ordering pizza this weekend." Jacob looked over at Tom before he continued. "Since it was your idea to order pizza, you take care of that. And you David go out and give Alex the bad news that we decided not to cookout." Jacob started to walk out of the room when he turned around with a grin on his face. "I really don't want to be in your shoes when you go out there to tell Alex he cleaned that grill for nothing, David. If you don't come back in fifteen minutes, we'll call the paramedics."

Everyone started laughing as David ran past Jacob and slapped him on the butt. It didn't take long before they heard the commotion in the back yard. Jacob and the others went running out to see if David needs any help. When they got out to the back yard, they found Alex throwing David into the pool.

Tom went to grab Alex to have him join David in the pool, but Matt got Tom into the pool before he could get his arms around Alex. Since he went at Tom so fast, Matt lost his balance at the edge of the pool and fell in. Tony then tried where Tom failed, but he landed in the pool as well. Before it was all over, the only ones not wet were Alex and Jacob, but not for the lack of trying!

As soon as everyone dried off and changed into dry clothes, they headed out to get those that live too far from the house. Jacob volunteered to get Ethan. Since no one objected, Jacob jumped into his truck and headed off. When he reached Ethan's house, instead of honking like he normally does, Jacob got out and walked to the door.

After knocking a couple of times, one of Ethan's brothers answered the door. There would be no mistaking any of the males in this family being related. They all look almost the same, with a few differences. Still Ethan is the hottest of all the guys and it looks like Ethan's brothers know that.

Not saying a word, Ethan's brother opened the door to let Jacob in. Just as Jacob stepped in, Ethan came running down the hall surprising Jacob. Before he could take five steps into the house, Ethan pushed him back out. Not rudely, but Jacob could tell that Ethan didn't want Jacob to see how they are living.

They were walking to the truck when Ethan's father called out for him. Ethan turned around and walked back over to his father. They talked a few minutes before Ethan came running over to Jacob. Trying to catch his breath, Ethan spoke.

"My father was wondering if he could speak with you." Jacob looked at Ethan and nodded his head. "Don't worry it isn't anything bad, he just needs to ask you for a favor. You can say no of course and I will understand. After all we have only known each other for a few weeks. This kind of favor shouldn't be asked of someone that we have known all our lives, much less those that we barley met."

Jacob closed his door and walked over to Ethan's father. "Mr. Hernandez thank you for everything you have done for me and my family. Sad to say it is rare to find good hearted individuals like you and your family these days."

"Not a problem sir, but please call me Jacob. I am just a kid and you don't have to call me mister." Jacob nodded Adam's hand.

"Jacob, let me start by telling you before I even thought of you, I went to all my friends and the bank. They all turned me down, which put me in a bad spot. I can understand why my friends said no. For too many months now I have been leaning on them too much and now they feel they need to cut ties with me and my family."

Jacob stopped Adam before he could go any further. At first the older gentleman thought he crossed the line with Jacob. But it wasn't that, it was that Jacob didn't want the man to finish the sentence in front of his family. This has to be hurting Adam more than Jacob could ever imagine. He is a proud man and now he is here about to ask Jacob for help; a teen age kid. Jacob didn't want this family man to lose what dignity he has left, more so in front of his family.

"Why don't you come and see me at the main office on Monday? I will get you approved for a company loan. After all, you, Ethan and two of your other sons work one way or another for the company. So don't worry about it, you guys are family. Family members help each other when one of them is hurting."

That put a smile on Ethan's father's face. "Before we leave, I was wondering sir if you would allow Ethan to stay the night at my house like last weekend. More than likely we are going to swim late into the evening. After we get tired there we will make our way to the TV and watch a movie or three."

"Yes Ethan can stay as long as it isn't putting any of you out." Adam looked at Jacob as Jacob nodded his head. "Ethan, go in and pack an over night bag this time. I know sleeping in your clothes has to be uncomfortable."

Ethan ran into the house and a few minutes later he came running out with some clothes in a shopping bag. Jacob thanked Ethan's father, nodded his hand and walked off to his truck. Not a word was spoken on the way to Jacob's house about what just happened at Ethan's. As far as Jacob is concerned it is company business and he doesn't talk company business with anyone that isn't part of the higher ups.

Jacob and Ethan were the last to arrive and found everyone in the TV room when they walked in. Some of them made their way to the game room, but they mainly stayed in the TV room. There were a few faces Jacob hasn't seen before, but he didn't care. As long as everyone came down to have fun is all that matters to Jacob.

It didn't take long for everyone to make their way to the backyard. At first everyone stood around talking in their little groups. All of the sudden Jacob saw his brother running from the house. He thought that Andy was going to stop once he made it outside, but Jacob was wrong. Andy ran straight to the pool and jumped in.

Soon after Andy Jr. jumped into the pool, everyone else, one way or another got in. That did it, they started having fun. Jacob made his way to a lawn chair, still a little scared to get into the water. Although his stitches are out, he fears that his wound is going to open up if he gets into the pool. Jacob knows that's stupid, but he can't help himself.

He sat there watching Alex try to get David for splashing him, but Tom got to the ball before Alex. Once Tom got the ball, Alex knew he couldn't get David back so he made his way to over to Jacob. They sat there on the lawn chairs watching the others play volleyball. Both of the boys really wanted to join in.

It didn't take long before Dewayne and Matt to get out of the pool and join their boyfriends. Dewayne sat behind Jacob, letting Jacob rest against his chest. As they sat there watching the others, Jacob kept rubbing Dewayne's legs. Although Jacob wanted to rub more than Dewayne's legs, he settled for what is appropriate.

When anyone got tired, they would get out and trade places with Dewayne, Matt or who ever was relaxing out side of the pool. This time Tony got out, which meant Dewayne got tagged to go in. As he walked over to pool, he remembered that Jacob had his stitches removed earlier that week. He turned around and before Jacob could get away he picked him up and threw him in the pool.

Everyone just watched as this unfolded in shock. Dewayne wished that he had a camera so he could take pictures of everyone's faces. When Jacob came up laughing, everyone knew something was up. No one in Jacob's shoes would be laughing after being tossed in the pool with stitches, no matter who did it.

With the help from Dewayne, Jacob got out of the pool. They explained to the guys that he had his stitches removed on Wednesday and there is nothing to worry about. Once they heard that, they calmed down. Now they understand why Jacob wasn't mad with Dewayne. There was nothing to be mad about.

As he took off his wet shirt, Alex caught Jacob's eye. At first Jacob thought that Alex had tripped and fell, but when he reached Alex he found out that he was wrong. Alex wouldn't let Jacob pick him up from the ground. Alex couldn't get his eyes off of Jacob's chest and stomach. This is the first time he as seen Jacob without a shirt and that caused reality to come crashing down on Alex.

Since he has moved back with his family, Alex has heard the others talk about the wounds on Jacob's body, but this is the first time he is seeing them for himself. These wounds will stay with Jacob for the rest of his life he caused. Alex realized in that instant the amount of horror he put Jacob through.

By this point everyone had climbed out of the pool and made their way over to Alex. When Matt reached Alex, he was on all fours crying so loud, he didn't know what to do. He tried to pick Alex up, but Alex pushed him away. Now Matt is really worried even more about Alex. He has never seen Alex like this; never!

No one knew why Alex had broken down like this until they followed his eyes. They saw that Alex was looking at Jacob's stomach and chest area. It still didn't dawn on them until they saw the scars. Dewayne quickly grabbed a towel and wrapped it around Jacob's chest, to cover the scars.

That didn't do anything to help Alex. In fact it made it worse. Alex started shaking as he cried. Through his sobs, he started mumbling Jacob's name followed by sorry over and over again. Jacob fell to his knees telling Alex there is no need for him to be sorry as he pulled Alex into his arms. This time Alex didn't push Jacob away. He wrapped his arms around Jacob and held him as tight as he could.

Lorenzo went running to get his mother. At the same time Dewayne pulled everyone away so that Alex could collect himself. As they made their way back to the house, Franseca ran past them. The only ones that stayed in the back yard were Alex, Jacob and Matt, joined shortly by Franseca.

When they made their way to the TV room, they started talking on what just happened. To everyone's surprise, Gloria stopped them from gossiping. "You guys aren't old women that have nothing better to do than to gossip about a friend. He is hurting and instead of talking about him, you guys need to figure out what you can do to help him. This gossiping and saying what a wimp he is or what  caused Alex to breakdown isn't doing any good, so stop it! Be a friend to him and be here if he needs you."

They were still surprised to hear that coming from Gloria, but they knew she was right. So they stopped talking about why Alex fell apart and started talking on what they can do to help him. It took Gloria again to explain to them they shouldn't do anything unless Alex asks them for help. She went on to explain to them that if they would go up to him and ask him what they could do for him, it would make matters worse. They should just drop it unless Alex brings it up to them. If he does that, Gloria went on, just support him.

Al walked into the TV room about thirty minutes later. "Hey you guys can go back to the pool, but do me a favor and do not go and bother Alex. When he is ready to come out, he will." Al went to walk out, but remembered something else. "And if any of you talk about what just happened at school, another friend or anyone else that isn't here, you will no longer be welcome in this house. We respect everyone in this house and that means that we don't go around talking about each other."

Everyone nodded their head in agreement as they walked out to the pool. It took time before things got back to normal, but they did. They picked up where they were before all the commotion started. Around one, Tom went inside and placed the pizza order after asking what they like and don't like.

Just as he hung up the phone, the door bell rang. Tom went over to find Patricia and her friends standing there. With a smile, Tom invited them in and told them to go to the pool area to join the party. The girls giggled as they made their way down the hall.

Tom looked himself up and down to see if they were laughing at him. After seeing that there was nothing wrong with him, he made his way back to the pool. He couldn't help thinking how lucky he is that David or any of the guys don't laugh like those girls. That laughing would get on his nerves to the point he might end up killing one of them.

The next time the door bell rang, it was the pizzas. Tom went looking for Jacob, but Dewayne stopped him. Dewayne ran up stairs and got the money to pay for the pizzas. After giving the delivery guy a hefty tip, he and Tom took the pizzas to the back yard. Before they could set the pizzas down, the guys charged at the boxes.

"Step away from the pizza if you value your lives!" Andy Sr. waved a cooking spoon in front of the guys to back them off. "There is plenty of pizza for everyone so wait for the plates. Plus you guys are all wet. I don't know about you, I don't like to eat soggy pizza that tastes like it was dipped in the pool!"

Not objecting, they waited for the plates. Once they got their pizza, they inhaled it as if they have never eaten pizza. When the guys went up for second and some for their third time, Alex, Jacob, Matt and Franseca walked out and joined them.

Dewayne had saved several pieces for Jacob. Matt went over and got Alex and him their pizza before they joined the group. No one asked Alex on what happened and Alex didn't talk about it. Although Alex tried to act normal, everyone can see that he is still shaken. But again everyone stayed out of it as Gloria recommended.

They talked for almost an hour in order to let the pizza to digest, but once they passed the magic number fortyfive. They started jumping into the pool. Out of respect to Alex, Jacob kept his shirt on and didn't go swimming. He doesn't want Alex to end up like he was hours ago. He is barely holding on as it is.

As Jacob sat there watching the guys swim, Dewayne walked up. "Jacob I went up and got money from the drawer to pay for the pizza. I don't understand why you order pizza from Pizza Hut; where there are a lot of other places you can get cheaper pizza. When the delivery guy said the amount we owed, I almost told him we didn't order the pizza."

"You know what I think about the other pizza places out there. Yeah I could have gotten cheaper pizza, but you get what you pay for. Those other places pizza honestly suck and I can't eat their pizza. They add way too much sauce, the sauce isn't good, not enough toppings or just the crust sucks. However you look at it, I rather get pizza I enjoy and pay a little more for a better pizza."

Dewayne let it go since he knew he was not going to win, but Jacob didn't pay just a little more for the better pizza. Instead of talking about the food they just ate, Dewayne went back to the subject of this morning. Once again Jacob asked him to leave it alone. The promise he made him and his grandfather should be enough.

At that point Dewayne decided to jump back into the pool. He doesn't want to end up in a fight and he can see Jacob doesn't as well. What was done is done and it can't be undone. There is no need in Dewayne's mind to keep bringing it up. Plus he and Al got Jacob to promise to not do it again.

The only other time they got out of the pool is when Franseca called them in for dinner. Once they ate, everyone returned to the pool and swam until eleven. Before then, Jacob took several of the guys home since they had a curfew set up by the state. For the others that went home after they got out of the pool, Jacob played the taxi for them as well.

By the time Jacob got back home form taking the girl's home, those that are staying the night had already started watching a movie. He went and sat down next to Dewayne and looked around the room that is filled with his family and friends. Jacob thought how lucky he is having so many close friends and family that are willing to back each other up.  Jacob knows that he will never be left without someone having his back.

Pretty much all day Sunday the guys just bummed around the house. The only time Jacob dealt with company business is when he called Ana to let her know what he had found. She asked Jacob what she should do with the store manager, but Jacob left it up to her. He still isn't in the right state of mind to make that decision. He is angry that the store manager that let his sister, who was slow, not only work at the store but be a manager. He still wants to let the manager go, but not on the basis of the theft but on the basis of being stupid.

Before letting Jacob go, she asked to speak with his father. He gave Ana his father's number so she could speak with him in private. She thanked Jacob and hung up the phone. Right after hanging up with Jacob, Ana called Andy Sr. She informed him that he will be opening on his own again in the morning, but not to worry, she will stop in through the day and to make sure everything is running smoothly.

As it started to get dark, Jacob took Ethan home. Jacob was surprised that Chase tagged along. What surprised him even more is that they sat together in the back seat. Jacob already knows what is going on, but he isn't going to let on. When either Chase or Ethan is ready to say something, he will act surprised.

When they drove up to Ethan's house, Chase got out with Ethan and walked him to his door. Jacob tried not looking their direction and they tried to hide from him and anyone that might be looking out from the house, but Jacob could swear he saw them kiss. When Chase got back in the car, Jacob didn't say anything. In fact the entire ride home they didn't talk at all.

The next morning when everyone sat down to eat breakfast. Jacob saw Alex's aunts and grandmother for the first time. He and his grandfather spoke with Alex last night about them staying, but they didn't meet them. He couldn't believe how mush Franseca looks like her mother. The only difference between her and her mother is her mother is a darker, like she worked the fields all her life. There is nothing wrong with that.

When everyone finished eating they introduced themselves to Alex's family and headed out. On the ride to school, Jacob noticed that Ethan almost sat in Chase's lap. Instead of getting in the back passenger door like he always does, Ethan went around to Chase's side. Chase actually got out and let Ethan in. That got everyone to look their direction for a few seconds, but they went back to their conversations when Jacob drove off.

It appears to Jacob that Chase is moving more toward Ethan than Patricia. If that is true, Jacob hopes that Chase lets Patricia know soon. He saw how Patricia was acting on Saturday. Anyone can tell that she is really in love with Chase. The question is if this love is school girl crush or true love. If it is just a crush, she will be able to handle the news if Chase tells her that he wants to go out with Ethan instead.

Then Ethan is going to have to be true to himself and his family. Chase has to do the same thing. Jacob stopped his mind from getting to out of control. All he knows is they are becoming good friends. All this thinking what Chase, Ethan and Patricia need  to do or will feel may be for nothing if all that is going on is two guys becoming stronger friends.

After breakfast, Jacob headed to the ROTC building. When he walked in, Colonel Pigeon called him over. He isn't happy and everyone in the room can tell. As soon as Jacob walked into the office, Colonel Pigeon let him know that there is only a week left before they have to go to state and the teams aren't ready. The way Colonel Pigeon is bouncing off the walls Jacob can tell this is the first time he has been to state.

He promised the colonel that everything will be ready and not to worry. But that didn't settle the colonel down. Jacob noticed as he walked out of the office that Colonel Pigeon is still worried. He couldn't help but laugh to himself. Colonel Pigeon is acting like he was when he took his first trip with the teams at the beginning of the year.

When Jacob left Colonel Pigeons office, he walked out to see what the teams needed to be ready. He can't do a lot to help them except get them to drill better. After talking to each of the commanders, he went back to the office to get working on their requests. Jacob left the commanders to only worry about one thing, getting the members to know the drills.

As he sat at the desk, Jacob couldn't help but think back to when he and Joey planned to be together on this trip. They were going to ask to have their own room and stay up all night long being with each other. Then Dewayne's face popped into Jacob's mind, replacing Joey's, and Jacob smiled.  He doesn't miss Joey anymore, in fact he doesn't think of Joey to any significant extent. He has Dewayne at his side.



{Welcome back to another filled chapter in Jacob's life. There were alot of ups and downs in this chapter, but is like real life. The question that should be asked is will the people in this chapter be able to deal with what they are going through or take the easy way out. Many people take the easy way out, but I don't think the characters in this chapter will ever take that route.

I know I left the last chapter in a cliff hanger and didn't lead this chapter with the conclusion of that cliffhanger. Sorry, but I love to make you wonder about plots as long as I can. I know that is mean, but that's just me.

Andy Sr. is pretty much on his own at work. He not only ran his first shift in this chapter, but he opened and ran the store on his own. Ana really believes in Andy and you can see that when she fought for him with Al in the chapter before and with Jacob in this chapter. Now that it is official, I wonder if Andy Sr. will prove Ana right. If he does, he will move on up.

Now back to the cliff hanger. You guys should have known what was up there. I left several clues throughout the last chapter. David isn't going to make many friends at this school so he better take those that are willing to be his friends. Although he might think he can be a loner,   he will see if he goes that route it is a mistake. He got the crap knocked out of him and by the looks of it the guys aren't done with him.

We all know what is going on between Chase, Ethan, Chris and Patricia, but the characters in the story don't. Poor Jacob is being put in the middle of something and he has no idea what is going on. Ethan went to him first and talked with him in a round-about way. Then Chase did the same thing. They need to be forthcoming with Jacob or quit going to him.

Then, at the end of chapter, they behave as though they made up their minds. Have Ethan and Chase decided to be a couple or is it Jacob's reading too much into things? If they aren't going to be a couple, they surely are acting as if they are from what Jacob saw on Sunday night to Chase getting out and letting Ethan in when that's never happened before.

We are also seeing for the first time people getting hurt with this issue. Chris can't stop his heart from falling for someone, no one can. Either Dewayne needs to decide to let Chris go or Chase go and soon. Chris doesn't deserve the hurt he is feeling right now. No matter that Ethan warned him not to fall in love. That is something again someone can't control. If Ethan only wants a friendship, he needs to tell Chris that.

It looks like Jacob is returning back to work again. Although his grandfather doesn't like the idea, Al has accepted it. Now Jacob will be in charge of the McDonalds part of the company. I really think Al will always keep an eye on his grandson. His concern is not that he is worried that Jacob is going to screw things up, but rather, he wants to protect Jacob.

It seems there are still a lot of problems   with their stores. Ana is seeing them and letting Jacob and Al know what she sees, but it looks like both she and Jacob have their hands full. After being told by Ana about the theft in one of the northeast stores, Jacob reacted like he always does. He went down to see what was going on and found out. What do you guys think, should Jacob have fired both the managers on the spot and had the young lady arrested? Or did Jacob do the right thing and only fire the one that was doing the stealing and leaving the fate of the store manager in Ana's hands?

I hope you all didn't forget about state ROTC. I had to throw that in at the end in order to remind you that the competition is coming up. It is going to be fun and a chapter you don't want to miss. Anyone on a team in high school knows what I am talking about.

Now let me talk about what happened at the pool. I touched a little on it in this chapter, but the detail is in chapter thirty-three and thirty-four of "Beneath the Mask". So if you want more detail about what happened after the guys went inside the house, you will need to tune into those two chapters.

What happened in this chapter shouldn't surprise anyone. Alex came into Jacob's life and hurt Jacob a lot for several years. Then Jacob went and helped him out of the bed he made for himself. Alex never once saw what he actually did to Jacob. As he said, he heard about it, but he never actually saw the scars that he left Jacob.

The tuff, gangster Alex just fell apart when he saw those scars. He being a gangster doesn't have as many scars as Jacob. Yes Alex has tried to pay Jacob back, but that didn't cross his mind when he saw Jacob take of his shirt. All he saw is the destruction he did to Jacob's life. Now that Alex finally dealt with that, I wonder if he is going to change even more. Did this realization help Alex or hurt him? Will this once and for all put away the gangster Alex and leave the Alex that Matt fell in love with? Those answers will be revealed in upcoming chapters of "Beneath the Mask".

I opened so many plots in this chapter I think I skipped some of them in this summation. Don't worry if I did that, they will continue in the chapters to come. My editor will let me know either when we talk or by his Editor's Corner. Talking about my editor, I would like to send out thanks to him. Daddy Rick has been my editor and friend now for over a year. Thank you Rick for coming aboard, working as hard as you do and putting up with my hard headiness. I truly hope we have many more years of working together on these stories. This last year has been lots of fun and thank you for that.

As always I can go on and on about the open plots in the story! If I do that, I can actually write several more chapters. There are so many plots that can take a turn at anytime. You might think it is going to go one way, but is lands up going another. Do not miss out on anything, or you will be kicking yourself for it.

There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Stick around and keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacobmillertex@aol.com, Thanks!}


I have to jump on this situation between Chris and Ethan.  Ethan has a good head on his shoulders and has been absolutely forthright with Chris.  Ethan is not responsible for Chris' falling prematurely for him.  Ethan has somewhat old fashioned ideas, but his way of getting to know someone as a friend first is tried and true. Getting intimately involved too quickly will, in most cases, end up with a relationship built on a shaky foundation.

To underscore my point, Chris himself reflected on his two failed relationships and analyzed them momentarily. He had to admit that Ethan made a good point.  Then, in the next moment, he again chided Ethan and went so far as to challenge Ethan's resolve by threatening to move on rather than bide his time.  I'm glad Ethan stood his ground. Nobody should ever be pressured to come out until they are as ready as anyone can be.

The majority of gays can attest to this.

I got a sore neck in that short exchange the way it went back and forth like a tennis ball in play!  Remember I predicted this love-quadrangle was going to get messy. I suspect it's going to get even messier before there's a resolution.

I think Jacob handled the theft situation at the store with maturity and wisdom beyond his years. He is placing the responsibility of sorting it all out where it should be; with Ana.

Alex had the ultimate in a cathartic moment; one of those moments that comes out of nowhere and is profoundly life altering.  It became obvious that Alex has been toting around a huge load of emotional baggage that even he was unaware of. Alex has been `programmed' his whole life to be emotionally detached. I don't know that Matt, his mom and his close friends will be all that he needs to really process through all that emotional baggage that he harbors.  What we are seeing is that what Alex has kept deeply buried is working to the surface. By whatever means necessary, Alex needs to deal with all the issues once and for all. Should he do that, he will feel a liberation that will be beyond incredible. I speak from experience.

So, just what is going on with Gloria? I tend to be very guarded when it comes to thinking she might change for the better. She has a shining moment here and there, then, usually, does something quite unfeeling. I'm going to play `wait and see'.

Yes, Jacob and I have been working together for over a year now. It was amazing to me when I realized it. I didn't realize just how long we'd been collaborating and the huge volume of work that has been posted. He mentioned above that he is hard-headed. Well, that may be true, but so am I.  You would probably buy tickets to some of our more `lively' collaboration sessions!
Jacob and I have become close friends even though we have never met in person. We do our `meetings' by video-chat, so we both have a pretty good sense of the other person.

I am not a "professional" when it comes to editing. I realize that, even with my best efforts, things slip through. Jacob and I are brainstorming to see if we can get things cranked up to the next level in quality.

Once again, let us hear from you. Your thoughts and ideas do make an impact. Reader's comments and suggestions have moved plots many times. Will your thought or suggestion be the next one to do that?

Until next time,

"Daddy" Rick

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