{The Shadow of My Father is pure fiction. 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 as 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 anyway, shape or form without my expressed consent.}

Written by J.P.G.

Chapter 36

Jonathan decided to call Josh's guard detail together while Josh and his family were eating dinner. He knew after the meeting, that he had earlier with Governor Lopez, he couldn't afford to have any more mistakes regarding Josh. No matter how small the mistake might be, he would be out the door if there was even one.

The issue weighing on Jonathan's mind was to either keep the guard detail and give them another chance or just bring in a whole new detail for Josh. The detail knew their jobs, that was what was confusing Jonathan. Since they knew their jobs, why weren't they performing it like they should? The mistakes that were being made should never have happened.

He walked into the guard room to find the detail waiting for him. "Good evening, thank you all for sticking around after I had already released you. I know that all the other details have been told that they can't leave since the Governor is here, but since you guys already had a full shift. I went ahead and released you anyway.

I really don't know where to start. One thing is for sure, you guys think the fact that you have this detail is crap. Who goes through the kind of training we do and ends up babysitting a kid? We are trained to protect people like the Governor, a senator and on up; not their kids, who really don't want us around.

Let me clear all this up here and now. All of you were selected for this job, including myself, because of how young we look. We can blend in as if we belonged at high school. That is the bottom line. Our bosses give us the jobs that best suit us. That means for now, we have to take this assignment, no matter what our personal feelings are about it!"

"I have no problem guarding the kids of our politicians, but not this one." Jonathan couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Don't take what I am saying here wrong. Before we came on the scene, it seems that this kid had already created enemies. I won't walk between him and a girl and get slapped; a slap that was meant for him for screwing with her emotions! Damn, it's part of growing up!"

The rest of the guard detail nodded in agreement. "Okay, I agree with what you're saying to a point, but let's take the last time this girl came up to Josh. She didn't come up to slap him; she came up to torch him! If we go by what you believe and sat back, the Governor would be at the hospital at the least.

We can't pick and choose who we want to keep away from the one we are in charge of protecting. No matter if it is part of growing up or whatever, we need to protect the person we are assigned to. If someone is on the list or someone just looks like they are coming to hurt Josh, we have no other choice but to stop them."

Jonathan went over the new rules that the Governor put out dealing with Josh. Not one of the security detail likes the new rules. They can see too many ways that things can go wrong with this new set up. Standing in the hallway for over six hours every day is a waste of a security detail's time and the pay.

"Jonathan I know I'm speaking on behalf of everyone here, when I say this won't work. Look, Josh is an open target as it is because he is gay. Then you put on top of that, the enemies he has made before we came on the scene. Any kid sitting in that classroom could potentially harm him, no matter what we take out of that room. You can use anything as a weapon to hurt someone."

"For now Arturo, we will need to go by these new rules that the Governor has set. When the dust settles, and if nothing else goes wrong, I can approach the Governor and ask him to let us do things our way."

"We need to be doing things our way no matter what. If we do things the way the Governor wants us to, his son will get harmed, if not killed, for sure. You need to go back to the Governor and stress that to him. I won't look bad because the Governor refuses to let us do the job that we were trained for and know how to do."

"If I do that Arturo, he will throw right back at me, all the stupid mistakes we made in such a short period of time." Arturo sat down, knowing that Jonathan was right. "He gave us plenty of chances to do it our way, and we failed. Now he is taking it out of our hands and is doing it, his way. We need to prove to the Governor that we know what we are doing, before we ask him, to let us do the job the way we were trained to do it."

No one said another word after that to Jonathan. They listened to the rest of the new set up, which included letting Josh out more. Once again, not one of them liked the idea of Josh being allowed to do more than he has been allowed to do more recently. His brothers were a different story and lot easier to keep safe. The same core issue kept coming up with them, Josh being gay makes him a lot harder to protect.

After dismissing the detail, Jonathan headed back to the house. He felt worse walking back to the house than he did walking to meet with his detail. It seemed that they couldn't understand that they have no choice but to do it the governor's way. They needed to stop hiding behind the fact the Josh is gay and do their jobs.

The next morning, Josh seemed to have woken up in a chipper mood. When he and Cesar joined the others in the cafeteria, they all noticed it. Although it looked like Josh was putting the screw up his security detail did, behind him, he still wouldn't give more than one worded answers to anything that Bernice and Eric said or asked. Josh was talking to the rest of the group as if nothing had happened.

Just as they got up to head out of the cafeteria, Emma tried to walk up to the table, but the security detail stopped her. She couldn't get within ten feet of Josh. As the security detail asked her to leave, she asked Josh if he had spoken with his father about what they spoke about the day before.

"Emma, I have spoken with my father, but not on what we spoke about. I already told you that I won't ask him to talk with the principal about Elizabeth! She had been given a lot of chances and she threw them all away. I don't wish her bad, but she does deserve what she got. She couldn't put the past where it belonged, in the past."

"She wasn't after you the other day, she was after that bitch! Emma pointed to Bernice as the security detail held her back. "That bitch is the one that jumped her in the hallway. All Elizabeth wanted to do was to get her revenge."

"If what you are saying is true, why didn't she tell the principal it was Bernice that did it? Knowing Elizabeth the way I do, she was using that as a, `cop out'. She was attempting to get out of trouble for trying to burn me. No, I won't go out on the limb for her again, like I have in the past."

The security detail warned Emma that if she didn't stop what she was doing and walk away; she would be joining her friend. Emma gave the security detail a dirty look, realizing that she had lost. She now knew there was no way that she could get her friend back into school. Her last hope was Josh and Elizabeth, and she didn't just burn that bridge, she nuked it.

As Josh and the others walked to the library, he started to think about what Emma said. If Bernice did what Emma said, he didn't know her like he thought he did. One part of him couldn't blame Bernice for doing it, if it was her, and the other part of him was telling him that no one deserved what Elizabeth got. No matter what that person did, they didn't deserve to be embarrassed like Elizabeth had been.

Eric pulled Bernice to the side when they walked into the library. "Please tell me that what Emma just said was another lie. Are they lying and trying to sell it to get Elizabeth back into school? Because if it's not, then you've got an enemy for life! She won't stop until she gets her paybacks. No matter if she is in this school or not."

"Someone needed to put her back into her place. She has been getting away with everything. If I didn't stand up to her, she would have continued doing what she was doing to Josh and the rest of us. I just wanted to embarrass her the way she kept embarrassing us. What happened to her hair wasn't planned, none of it was planned."

Eric pulled Bernice into him and held her tight. No matter what, it's done, and now they have to move on, Eric thought. He promised Bernice right there and then that he would protect her. If Elizabeth came after her, he would be there to make sure that Elizabeth didn't harm her. That's what a boyfriend is supposed to do, at least in Eric's mind that is.

As the day wore on, Bernice tried to talk with Josh about what Emma said earlier in the morning. Every time Bernice approached Josh about it, he just nodded his head or just said one worded answers to her. Between second and third period, Josh had had enough of Bernice bringing it up.

"Look Bernice, if you did it, you will have to live with yourself for what you did. I really don't care if you did it or not. In fact I don't want to hear about it if you did. I'm fine with the knowledge that you didn't do it. Elizabeth is no longer here, or my problem. So would you please just drop it? I'm tried of hearing about it!"

"You know Josh, one day you will have to forgive us for what we did. We screwed up and there is nothing we can do about that now. This game you are playing is childish and frankly it's getting pretty old. We have been through a lot together in such a short period of time. To give up our friendship now is stupid and I am not going to."

"Bernice, I have forgiven you and Eric for what you guys did this time and the last time. What you are seeing now is a complete lack of trust. And to be completely honest with you, I don't think I will ever have the trust that I once had in you guys again. I tried once before, to not only forgive but forget, and look at what you did.

It doesn't bother me that much anymore, that you guys talked behind my back. Hell, I know what's going on and I really don't care. But what bothered me the most was Eric telling me about it. It was as if he punched me several times in the gut when he said it. I think he said it out of frustration or anger, but he needs to learn to filter his thoughts.

I am man enough to stop kicking this horse. We'll move on, but like I said, I don't trust you guys anymore. Maybe in time, but I doubt it." Josh started to walk off, but turned back around. "Like you said, we have a friendship that you are not willing to give up on, nor am I. But just don't think that we can rebuild it over night."

Bernice stood there watching Josh walk off to his third period. She turned and headed off to her class thinking that it looked like Josh was willing to try again, as far as their friendships were concerned. She would talk to Eric about it, and let him know about the conversation and what she took away from it. They needed to give Josh space, and in time, their friendship would be rebuilt once again.

Cesar started to get a little worried when the warning bell rang and Josh still hadn't walked into class. Just seconds before the final bell rang, Josh stepped in. He walked over and took his seat. He leaned over to Cesar with a smile.

"I would like to think I could ditch class, but there is no way. Please don't worry about me the way you do. It's written all over your face and that is one of the things I love about you. You worry all the time about me and keep me on my toes." The teacher started to take the roll as Josh continued talking.

"Because I love you, I talked with Bernice and that's why I'm late. I told her that I've forgiven her and Eric, but I won't forget what they did. Not in those words, but that's basically what I told her. Maybe one day we could rebuild our friendship again."

Cesar sat back feeling good that the old Josh was returning. He didn't like the grumpy, mean Josh that had been around the last couple of days. That Josh was not the Josh that he had fallen in love with, but because of the love he had for Josh. Cesar would stand by him, no matter what mood Josh woke up with that morning.

Governor Lopez flew back into Austin and into a hail storm of issues. He got his first victory yesterday when his budget passed the state houses with plenty of votes to spare. Now that his staff sent down the next bill he wanted to pass, both sides were holding the line. They were gearing up for a battle and took the gloves off.

Both sides grabbed whoever was willing to listen to them, and basically stated it would be a cold day in hell before they passed a bill like the one the Governor put before them. Not one of them gave the details of the bill or released the bill. In fact they side stepped around the bill with one liners on how an inexperienced person like Daniel could hurt this State.

On the ride back to his office, Governor Lopez asked Rich to call for a staff meeting. He knew if he allowed the state representatives of both houses control the press, he would loose this battle before it had begun. There was no way he was willing to lose the very first bill that started to bring the old watch dogs back to the level of the voters.

Trying to dodge the reporters that were camped out in front of his office, the Governor used the back entrance. Rich greeted the Governor at the back door and started to explain the battle that lies before them as they walked over to the conference room.

"Governor Lopez, you can do a lot of things, but we need one side to get our bills passed. Right now Governor, with this bill, we don't have the backing of either side. It's dead on arrival and we need to pull it. It doesn't mean that it's dead, we just need to choose a better time to get the bill on the floor in order to pass it."

"Rich, I respect your opinion and you know that, but I won't pull the bill. If I do that, they will pull this every time I send them a bill that they don't like. No Rich, this is the best time to do it. There's no way they're going to continue standing their ground once they see I'm not going to fold whenever they cry wolf. They have to know that I won't be bullied"

Rich and the Governor walked into the conference room. The Governor's staff stood up and remained standing until the Governor sat down. He looked around the room trying to read each one of his staff. If he saw the fear of defeat in their eyes, he planned to ask them to leave the room. He couldn't have anyone on his team, that didn't have the stomach for the many battles that they had before them.

"I leave town less than a day and things fall apart. You are my staff and you need to run your areas without me micro managing them. If I need to do that, then I will let each and everyone of you go. That way I can save the tax payers of this state the money not paying people that can't or won't do their job.

Not once did I tell you guys that this was going to be easy. In fact I told each of you when you came aboard to be prepared for a stormy four years. I won't pull back or get pushed around by anyone. We are here to do the job for the voters of this state, even if they didn't elect me to do so. So let's stop looking like we don't know what we're doing and let's start doing the jobs which you were hired to do!"

"Governor Lopez, sorry that I couldn't get back up there, but I am here ready to roll up my sleeves to get this done." The Governor looked down at the speaker phone in the middle of the conference table. "This bill is very important and must get passed, as is. That is the only way they know that you are not going to fold when they come out screaming `foul'."

"I agree with you Al, all of us here agree. The only problem we are having, is how do we approach this when both sides of the political parties are joining forces against this bill? We need to have one or the other to pass a bill. Just like the budget, we got it done with the backing of the Democrats."

"They are trying to use the press against us Rich. They are going back to the plays they know how to play and that's to scare the people into believing them; believing that what they are doing is right and Governor Lopez is wrong. That won't work because the people of this state are fed up with them playing political games like this.

Let them talk to the press and look like fools. All we do is release the bill they are trying to kill before it sees the light of day. We don't talk to the press at all. Let the press and media use their experts to take their readers and viewers through the bill. When they do that, the voters will know that Governor Lopez is right. At the same time we don't lower them into the mudslinging fight that they are trying to pull us into. Let's stay above all that."

"Okay, let's say we go your way Al, how do we pass the bill? By the looks of it, the bill was dead on arrival. Somehow the details of the bill got leaked before the bill even got put on the floor for them to debate."

"I leaked the details of the bill. The reason I did that is because I knew they would react the way they are reacting. Now if you are listening to their comments, they have no idea what the entire bill looks like. The only thing they know is they are going to get a pay reduction and less time off. When it comes out where the money is going to go that we are saving on this bill, they will throw the dirt on themselves from the hole they dug themselves into with their speeches."

Every person at the conference table nodded their heads in agreement as Al continued explaining how they would get the bill passed. Governor Lopez knew that the decision to bring Al on board was really paying off. He was only as strong as the people he surrounded himself with on his staff.

"Let them try to explain to the voters that they want higher pay by taking away from the children of this state. Every cent that is being saved here will be sent back into education of our youth. It will bring the pay for teachers to where it should be. The schools that are falling apart will be fixed. We'll hire more teachers, so the classrooms are smaller and the teachers can spend more time with each of the students in their classes. Basically this will good teachers and make it worth their while to keep teaching."

"I agree with you Al, and that is why I inserted that in this bill. Ladies and gentlemen, I may be new at this whole political arena, but I do know what I need, to get my bills passed. I made a promise to the voters that I would fix the education problems in this state without adding one more penny to their taxes.

By taking the money from one part of our government that is getting way too much then handing it over to another that needs it more will ensure a victory on any bill that is put down for the houses to pass! There is too much money being spent on high wages and way to many positions that are not needed. It is time to cut the fat here, just like the citizens are doing in their own budgets.

What we need to do is release the entire bill. Let the press use their experts explain it to the public like Al explained. It's a well written bill and it will pass on its own." The Governor got up to leave the conference room. "After we do that, I will sign the budget that we won. It's the first of many that we will win."

The Governor walked out of the conference and over to his office. He picked up the phone and called Al back. He wanted Al's input on the other pieces of legislation he wanted to put before the houses in his first year. He wanted Al's thoughts on which ones should go first and which ones he should save until the end?

"Hey guys, it's been a while since I've given you a riddle to figure out." Josh smiled at everyone as he sat down at the table. "So let me give you a riddle and let's see how long it takes you guys to figure out. Don't let the newbie here figure it out before the rest of you!"

"Come on Josh, those mind twisters are way too hard for us." Eric looked over at Josh, swallowing his food as he talked. "What about a joke; don't you know any jokes? I think we would all like to hear a joke more than a riddle."

"Sorry pal, you're out of luck as far as jokes are concerned. I don't know any so you're stuck with the riddle. So if you don't want to hear it, or try to figure it out, then don't listen." Eric gazed at Josh with a stunned look. "Please don't take any offense to what I just said Eric. You have known me for years and I have never told a joke in the entire time that we have known each other."

"Go ahead, we all want to try and figure it out, even if Eric doesn't." Rusty seemed really excited about the riddle. "I know that I will figure it out before lunch is over. More than likely you will repeat a riddle that my dad has used on his show."

Everyone at the table noticed the same thing that Josh did. He seemed to be way into wanting to figure out whatever riddle that Josh was ready to throw out at them. Eric looked over at Bernice and back over to Rusty asking him to wager on the riddle. They bet each other that they would figure out the riddle before the other.

"Okay, let me start out saying good luck and I do believe the riddle I have, has not yet been told by your father Rusty. You can't call him up for the answer. So if you disappear and we find you at the pay phones, you lose the bet. I really don't care if you guys work together, but you can't call your father.

Now the riddle I have for you guys is a doozie, so good luck. I am the start of war and end of sorrow. You can't express wisdom without me, but I am at the heart of dimwits. You may find me in waves, but never in oceans. So who am I?"

Both Eric and Rusty looked at each other trying to figure out if the other had the answer. Neither of them jumped out of their seats with the answer, so they assumed that neither of them had it. Almost at the same time, they asked Josh to repeat the riddle one more time. He repeated it once more as he headed out of the cafeteria.

Even Josh's security detail got into the riddle. As they kept an eye on Josh, they tried to figure out the riddle among themselves. While they talked out in the stadium, Eric and Rusty asked Josh for a hint, but Josh refused. He just repeated the riddle and told them to listen to the key words in the riddle and they would figure it out.

When the bell rang signaling the end of lunch, Josh still wouldn't give them the answer to the riddle. He walked with Cesar to their locker to get the books they needed for their afternoon classes. Throughout the afternoon, Eric, Rusty and the others threw answers at Jacob, but they were all wrong.

After school, the cheerleaders decided not to practice, but to meet up with Daniel. If any of the Lopez brothers would see reason regarding Elizabeth's plight it would be Daniel, they believed. Although none of the junior and senior cheerleaders liked Elizabeth, they agreed the freshman squad was better with her on it rather than not.

They waited for Daniel outside the weight room in the hall. Although the season was over, they knew the coach of the football team still made them lift weights. They looked at the players as they walked toward the weight room. None of them even looked at the cheerleaders as they walked past. Emma was the first one to see Daniel coming down the hall towards them and told the others.

"Daniel, we need to talk with you." One of the senior cheerleaders spoke as he reached them. "It's very important and you need to hear us out. We didn't want to come to you with this, but your little brother Josh. Well let's just say that little fa..."

"Don't you dare finish that sentence! If you need my help, this is not the right way to start out asking for it. I can see why Josh refused to help you if you talked with him that way." Daniel leaned against the wall not able to understand these ladies.

"Sorry, but he just gets under our skin. Emma here tried to speak with your brother to help out our cheerleading squad. Josh flatly shut her down without even trying to help us out. You can see that he has no school pride like you do. Maybe he hates the school because he got kicked off the swim team."

"Look ladies, I won't stand here and listen to you guys disrespect Josh. He's my little brother and I love him no matter what. Your facts are wrong as far as the swim team; he walked away from it. At the time I was angry with him for doing so, but after I heard what his teammates did, I didn't blame him at all. Whatever he said no to I will more than likely say no to as well."

Daniel started to walk off when Emma grabbed hold of his arm. He pulled his arm free from her grasp. He looked at her with daggers in his eyes. Thinking to himself, if Emma wasn't a girl, he would kick the living daylights out of her.

"Sorry Daniel, but you need to listen to us. This is very important and you need to help us out or our season is over. We want to win as much as you do in football. I know for a fact that you guys would do anything to keep your first string on your team. That's what we are trying to do here."

"The next time you touch me, my security detail will have you and anyone with you in handcuffs. Don't test them on this. If you don't believe me, just look around and see for yourselves just how badly they want to come in and take you down right now."

Emma and the other girls stepped back from Daniel. The security detail had their tasers out and pointed at them. Daniel's security detail wouldn't take any chances like Josh's does. They had a job to do and if that meant they had to taze some teenage girls then so be it. They would do it without a second thought.

"None of us want any trouble. I promise you that none of us will step up to you again. Just hear us out and we will leave it alone. That's all, we're asking for you to hear us out, unlike your brother." Daniel nodded his head as he leaned against the wall again.

"We all know that your dad has a lot of pull because of who he is. Elizabeth got expelled this time for something she didn't do. She wasn't after your brother, but one of his friends. He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time, that's all. We're asking you to talk with your father to get him to pull strings to get Elizabeth back in school."

"You know something ladies, you need to grow the fuck up! You guys are playing childish games here with everyone. My dad has a lot more important work to do than calling the school on your behalf to get Elizabeth back in here. This is sad, truly very sad and I never thought you guys would all have gotten sucked into this.

I'm glad that Elizabeth was finally expelled. At least I don't have to worry about her trying to hurt my brother anymore. And for you guys to come to me with this pitifully lame excuse to back up Elizabeth's actions, well, it just makes you as dumb as she is. I know most of you and you guys are not dumb.

If she meant to harm one of Josh's friends, she should have done it when that friend was not around Josh. Our security details will put down any threat they see coming at us. No matter if that threat is not aimed at us. So if you guys are still questioning if I am willing to talk with my dad on your behalf, let me put it as simple as I can, not just NO, but HELL NO!"

Daniel walked in to the weight room, followed by his security detail. They holstered their tazers as they walked in. The head of Daniel's security detail stopped short at the door of the weight room. He held the girls up to talk with them.

"Let me be as clear as I can be with you young ladies. The next time you even look at Daniel the wrong way, I will shoot you will a stun gun and ask questions later. None of you will ever get near any of the Governor's sons again. So stop asking them to talk with their father on your friend's behalf. It won't happen and I will let the Governor know to what extent you guys are willing to go to, to get your friend back. Don't be surprised if the Governor reaches out to the principal on your behalf, but it may be to have you guys join Elizabeth."

The cheerleaders walked away feeling like they just shit their pants. Several of them actually did pee themselves a bit while the head of Daniel's security detail told them what they didn't expect to hear. Due to Emma getting Daniel's security detail to notice them, this talk will reach Heather for sure. And when it did, they all knew they wouldn't hear the last of it from her. In fact, some of them might even lose their spot on the squad.

After school, Eric and Bernice caught up with Josh and Cesar as they walked home. Josh looked at them as if they were crazy. He couldn't believe they were actually thinking that things were back to normal already. Josh really wanted to tell them what was on his mind, but he bit his tongue. Plain and simple, he didn't want to embarrass Cesar.

When they walked in, Rose couldn't believe her eyes, but like Josh, she bit her tongue, stifling what she really wanted to tell those two. She didn't like what they did to her grandson. In her mind, no one deserved to be treated the way they treated Josh. They abandoned him when they should have been there for him.

"So how long are we expecting you two to stick around this time?" Rose couldn't help herself. She needed to let them know that she didn't respect them anymore.

Eric and Bernice just looked at Rose. They got the message loud and clear. They got up to leave, but Rose stopped them. Josh looked at his grandmother as she held them back. He feared what she just said was only the beginning. One thing Josh knew for sure about his grandma, was that she says what's on her mind.

"No need for you two to leave on my account. If Josh trusts you again, I'll respect his judgment on this matter." Rose started to walk out of the kitchen, but she stopped at the door and turned back. "Still, don't think of everyone in this house as being as forgiving as Josh is. The one that you really have to be worried about is not me, but Josh's father."

She walked out of the kitchen not even looking back. Eric and Bernice retook their seats, not saying a word at first. Bernice looked over at Josh trying to figure out if he went crying to his dad the minute things fell apart. Feeling someone burning a hole in his skull, Josh looked up to see Bernice starring him down.

"Whatever you're thinking, you're wrong. I didn't tell my father what you guys did. He has way too much going on; I didn't want to bother him with these childish games. More than likely, Jonathan put it in his report that he hands in everyday. They have to report everything that happened through out the day."

"Well, if your grandmother and the rest of your family feels this way about us, maybe it's best that we leave. Eric and I don't deserve being talked down to, like your grandmother just did. No matter if we were right or wrong, we didn't deserve that."

"You know what Bernice; you two joined us without asking. If you would have asked to come down this evening I could have warned you what you were walking into. My grandmother didn't talk down to you or Eric. She respected you both, no matter what amount of disrespect you've shown me.

I told you guys things were not going to go back to normal over night. It took less than five minutes to tear down our friendship, but it will take a lot longer than that to rebuild it. If you want to hightail it out of here, go for it. No one is keeping you here. If you want to try and begin to fix the friendship, then stay."

Josh got up from the table and made his way to his room followed by Cesar. Bernice and Eric didn't move at first, but did get up from the table a few seconds after Cesar. They followed them into their room and sat down on the bed that Cesar sleeps in. Josh and Cesar sat on the floor resting their backs against the bed.

None of them said a word, as they started their homework. It didn't take them long to complete it, which left them a lot of time before Bernice's father was scheduled to come and pick her up. So they started to talk about everything under the sky except what had happened earlier, ignoring the two thousand pound elephant in the room.

After Bernice and Eric left, Josh and Cesar sat up in their room after dinner cuddling. They didn't say a word to each other, they just cuddled. Josh had his back against the wall, with Cesar sitting between his legs, resting his back against Josh's chest. They held one another's hand using their free hand to rub up and down each others legs!

Both of them wanted to go further than that, but decided not to. They didn't want to be in the middle of making love and have Jonathan or someone from the security detail walk in on them. Although they were told that they had to wait to be asked in, they would know that something funky was going on in the room.

Governor Lopez had back to back meetings with members of his staff and state legislators into the late hours of the night. When he woke up, he bareley had time to eat breakfast before he got thrown back into the meetings. The only good thing about his morning meetings was the fact that they were with his own staff.

Rich walked into the Governor's office, right at seven, with the leadership of the state houses. They were the Governor's first meeting that wasn't with a member of his staff. Out of respect, they did their normal greetings walking in. The Governor offered them something to drink or eat before he took a seat in the chair in the middle of the room.

"Governor Lopez, out of respect for you and knowing that you are unfamiliar with how things are done here, I have asked for this meeting. There is a way to do things up here and there is a way not to do things. Every Governor that has taken that seat understood this. You don't want the houses to come at you full steam. You won't survive it if we do."

"One of the few times I agree with my fellow senator on this point. You had the democrats with you the last time. None of your own party backed you on your first bill and here we are again. I won't have our party back you on this legislation. By the looks of it, you don't have the other side behind you either.

Your own party is trying to figure you out Governor. You need us to get things done because this Governorship is more like a cheerleader position than anything else. You really have no real power when it comes down to it."

"Senator Westrick, you are the republican leader in the senate, you should know better than to play these games. I don't care if you agree with Senator Mixson or not, I will do what I was elected to do. I know my place and that is what the voters of this state told me when they elected me as their Governor.

I agree with you as far as the power this position holds right now, but I plan to fix that. I will be calling for a special election to propose a change in the duties of the Governor of their state to the voters. It will give the Governor more power like the President of the United States has. Once they vote and pass this amendment, there is nothing you or anyone else can do about it.

At the same time, I'll be putting this bill before the voters. If you hold this bill in committee or kill it straight out, I will have the voters vote on it in the special election. Seven days before the special election, I will decide to pull it from your houses and put it on the ballot. I know without a doubt, I will get everything passed by the voters I put before them. Simply put, they are tired of you guys and want a change."

"And you think that change is you Governor? You got to be joking if you think you'll get the registered democrats to vote your way on anything. All we have to do is go out to our voters and tell them to vote no on everything on the ballot and they will. Your own party will do the same thing the way I see it."

"You guys can do whatever you think you need to do. Just remember when you are thrown out on your butts when it is your time to go before the voters, don't forget this day. What you guys do here will decide what happens to you when it comes time for re-election. That's one thing you guys always have on your mind, retaining your seat.

So please do go out and tell your voters to vote no, they will surprise you. They're not dancing monkeys that do what ever you want them to do. Years of you taking and taking from them has caused them to finally wake up. They're wide awake and they're waiting for you to make another mistake, to throw you out in the street. I won't even have to lift a finger, make one speech or go out on the campaign trail. You will do it for me."

Both senators sat back in their seats. Before walking into the office, they read their internal polls. They saw that if the election is held today, every single senator and congressman would be replaced with someone else. The poll shows them polling in the mid teens and the Governor in the high eighty percent. He had the backing of the people and they would follow him on what he said.

"Governor Lopez, let's find other places to cut the fat. None of us are opposed to doing what you want to do in the education arena, but not the way you want to do it. We can work together and find another way to get what we both want." Senator Westrick leaned forward as his voice got louder.

"No, we are not going to cut in other places because you guys have already done that. You have cut so much in the other programs to get you guys what you have. I'm part of the bill to get a pay reduction and cutting my staff. So don't think I am only asking your guys to do this.

If we don't educate our youth right, we've failed. The youth of today will be leading our states and nation tomorrow. If they can't even spell or get further in math than one plus one, we will fail as a country. I can't have that happen while I am Governor. This bill is the first of many that I will be sending down to fix our education in our state."

"Governor, by the looks of it, you're not willing to work with us to get it done. We have the experience and the know how to get things done whereas you have barely started in the political arena! When all this gets out, who do you think the voters will eventually believe and back up? I'll give you a hint; not you!"

"You asked me a question earlier Senator Mixson and I didn't answer it. You answered what I said by joking. I can't remember the exact words, but you believe it is not me that the voters were looking at, to be the one to change things here in Austin. I can tell you that you're wrong and it is me that they chose to do that.

Just like you said, I have no political experience, but yet I got the office. I beat your party who was favored to win this seat back. I didn't even have a primary, I just jumped in and the voters chose me. In other words, yes it `is' me that the voters sent up here to do their bidding. When it comes down to it, they will listen to the truth, not who's saying it. Once they hear the truth, they will back the one that is saying it."

Governor Lopez got up and walked over to his desk. He opened his desk draw and pulled out several books. The two senators just looked at the Governor as he walked back to them and handed them each one of the books he pulled out of his drawer. The Governor grabbed himself a soda before sitting back down.

"What I handed you is my education bill. It is huge because it covers everything in our education programs and is paid for completely with the bill that is before you guys today. I am giving you a look at the bill a couple days before I release it to the press. Once I do that, I'd not want to be in your shoes.

The press already has started ripping into you guys for lying to them on this bill. Now when they get this bill in their hands and sees how the money is spent, you've lost. You feel I don't know what I am doing, as you can see, you're are wrong. There is no way any of you can come out of this with the respect from your voters if you choose to hold the line that you're holding right now.

So take this bill back, read it and share it with the others. Once you get through the two bills, you will see it is over before it begins. I do thank you gentlemen for stopping by and I hope that next time we meet, is when you gentlemen are bringing me the passed bill to sign."

The senators got up from their seats at the same time the Governor did. They shook the Governor's hand and walked out of his office. As they walked out, the leaders of the state congress walked in. They looked at the senators and saw defeat in their faces as they passed each other.

The Governor geared up for his second fight of the day and knew that they wouldn't win either. He would let them thump their chests and tell him that they knew more than he did. Just like the senators, they would be told the same thing. When they walked out of the Governor's office, they would have the same look of defeat on their faces.

Throughout breakfast, neither Eric or Bernice brought up what had happened yesterday at Josh's house. In fact, it looked like they had forgotten all about it. Everyone talked as if the last week or so didn't even happen. Even Josh gave more than, 'one-worded' answers to whatever Eric and Bernice said or asked.

"Josh I believe I have the answer to the riddle that you told us yesterday." Everyone looked at Rusty when he said that. "I can see in each of your faces, that you think that I cheated, but I didn't. I went home and wrote down the riddle and looked at it very hard. You kept giving us the clue that we needed, but without writing it down, you really won't get the answer to the riddle."

All you heard after that was everyone pulling their notebooks out of their backpacks. They tried to write it down from memory, but couldn't remember it completely. They asked Josh to repeat it once more and he did. At the same time, Josh asked Rusty to write his answer down on a sheet of paper and hand it to him.

After a few minutes, everyone took turns throwing out answers to Josh. Not one of them was right, including Rusty. Josh laughed a little and told them to look closely to what they wrote and the answer was staring then in the face.

"Josh you're right, I'm wrong as well. The answer to your riddle is the letter W."

"You got it Rusty that is the answer to the riddle." Josh got up and shook Rusty's hand and sat back down. "These riddles are mind tricks and if you think too much about them you will never figure them out. I like it when I get to tell you riddles because you guys keep hitting your heads against the walls trying to come up with the answers."

Just then, Coach Montoya tapped Josh on the shoulder. He looked back to see who was trying to get his attention. At the same time, Chris stood up and walked over to the Coach to see what was going on. Josh looked over to his security detail trying to figure out why they let the Coach come up to him without warning.

Josh got up and walked over to Jonathan. He looked at him, really wanting to tell him what was on his mind. Instead, Josh walked over to the Coach to see what he needed from him. In Josh's mind, there should be no reason the Coach was there to talk with him about anything. They haven't spoken a word to each other ever since he and Chris broke up.

"Sorry for interrupting you and your friend's conversation Josh. I've been talking to Chris in the last couple of days about this issue. Now I would like to talk with you if you care to walk with me." Coach Montoya looked over to the security detail, because they all stood up when the coach asked Josh to walk with him.

"There should be nothing we need to talk about sir. I am no longer part of your team or involved with Chris." Josh walked over to take his seat at the table.

"You're right on all fronts, but that's why I'm asking to speak with you Josh. I am putting together next years swim team. I want to win and in order to do so, I need to have the best this school has on the team. You know as well as I do, you're one of the best I have seen come through this school in a very long time."

"There's no way I will ever get on that team again, not the way my so called teammates reacted when Elizabeth walked in that day. Not only did they abandon me instead of standing behind me like they should have, but they stood up and told you to kick me off the team or they would walk themselves. No I can't and won't deal with back stabbers like that."

"Josh, if you are going to bring up the past, you shouldn't stop halfway. My dad told them to take the hike Josh. As a result, he had his first loosing season as the head coach of the swim team. The Coach stood up for you in the past and he will stand up for you in the future." Chris walked over to Josh and looked him in the eye as he spoke.

"Yes, Coach Montoya did do that, but again, I won't be part of a team that won't accept me so that I need protection from the coach from my own teammates! Teammates that won't respect me or even look at me! No Chris, you too are wasting your breath trying to talk me into rejoining the swim team."

Coach Montoya whispered something in Chris's ear and walked away. He thanked Josh for giving him some time as he left. As Chris took his seat, Josh gave him an evil look. Chris should have known not to ask him to rejoin the swim team.

Jonathan knew what Josh wanted to say to him when he walked up. Although the Coach is on the approved list, he should have not let him walk up behind Josh without stopping him and letting Josh know that he was there. Another screw up that would more than likely get to the Governor. Maybe not by Josh, but other members of his detail!

As soon as the bell rang and first period started, Jonathan met up with the head of Daniel's security detail. Ever since they got this detail, they talked with each other about what was going on with the person they were responsible for keeping safe. He hadn't run into as much trouble with Josh's older brother as he has with Josh.

"Hey, I think I screwed up again. The swim coach approached Josh during breakfast and I allowed him through without warning Josh. He's on the approved list of people, but it didn't look like Josh was happy about it. I'm already on thin ice with the Governor as it is, and now this. I really don't know if I will make it another month. One of my detail will file this in their report."

"What you did wrong when you took this detail was to allow those that report to you to submit their own reports to the Governor. There should be only one report going to the Governor and that is yours. Not to keep things away from him, but to make sure that reports are not being filed that puts you in a bad light with the Governor.

As far as the swim coach, you deal with things as they come. If you looked at the coach and he didn't look like he was going to do harm, there was no need to stop him. He already got approved and like you said, he was on the approved list. So when you file your report at the end of the day, say just that."

"I agree with you and I plan to put it in my report and that way the Governor sees it coming from me and no one else. Just the way Josh walked up to me before speaking with the coach, it looked like he wasn't too happy with what I did. He can always go to his father and request that I be removed from his detail."

"I wouldn't want to be in your shoes. The problems you have with Josh are a hell of a lot, aside from everything that was going on when you walked on the scene. And the fact Josh is openly gay to the world. His father is the Governor of Texas and because of that. People don't like the idea that their Governor or any Governor has a gay son. In return you always have to plan ahead to keep those crazies away from Josh as well."

Both of them stood there talking in the hall. Jonathan decided that he would no longer allow any other report to be filed except his. Also, if Josh had a problem with what he did this morning, he needs to come out and say it. He knew he did his job and he couldn't keep second-guessing himself every time Josh looked at him.

To Josh's surprises, the entire swim team walked up to Josh and the others during lunch. Just like they do every lunch hour, after they finish eating, they walk out to the stadium to fool around. That's where the swim team met up with Josh. Before they were able to get near Josh, his guard detail stopped them and checked them out.

"Josh, um, I really don't know where to start. What happened during the season should have never happened. There's no excuse for what we did and I won't even try to make one up. We should have stood behind you and backed you up. For that, on behalf of the entire swim team, we're very sorry." The swim team captain extended his hand for Josh to shake.

"The sad thing is, this year was supposed to be our year to go all the way. I was the swim team captain; captain of the swim team that would have brought our school a winning season. Instead, I'll be remembered as the swim team captain that asked his team to walk because of something stupid and childish.

This is my senior year. This was my last chance to get a scholarship and I screwed that up. I 'm gone, but before I leave I would like to fix what I fucked up. You still have three years ahead of you in this school. You're a damn good swimmer that could bring three winning years to this school.

What I am trying to say is that our swim team needs you back on the team. Everyone that is standing behind me will be the returning to the swim team next year. They asked me to speak on their behalf to try and get you to return with them next year. Trust me when I say it will be totally different on the team than you had this year."

Josh looked behind the swim team captain at the other guys. Not one of them had the same look on their face that they had the day that Elizabeth walked into their practice. Their look today was a look of them wanting to be friends.

"Let me think about it and I'll let you know in the next couple of days. Even if I decide to return to the team, I'll need to get permission from my father to do so. With him up in Austin, it makes it a little harder to talk with him about things. Who is going to be the new swim team captain next year by the way?"

"I have not yet chosen the junior to take my spot. Since this season was cut short, I'll have to base my decision on the meets we did have. One of those juniors will become the swim team captain and I might not pick the right one. To tell you the truth, I won't be looking for the strongest swimmer, but a swimmer that can keep this team together; a true leader."

Josh nodded his head in agreement, as the other members of the swim team walked up and shook his hand. For the rest of the lunch period, they sat there talking about what ifs. If the season didn't end the way it did, how far would they have really gone. After seeing how the year turned out, they all agreed that there were some schools they might have been beaten them. Schools they never thought were a threat them.

The rest of the afternoon, Josh could only think of one thing, which was the swim team. If he did return next year, things would have to be different. He would need to be treated like the rest of the guys. No dirty looks or them, refusing to be in the locker room with him. Things like that would be the reason Josh wouldn't return to the swim team.

Between periods, Chris tried to seal the deal with Josh returning to the swim team. Josh kept changing the subject with Chris, but somehow Chris got it back to the swim team. Finally, between fifth and sixth period, Josh had had enough.

"I'm trying to be nice and tactful with my friends, but you guys don't seem to get the hint when I don't want to talk about a subject. No matter what I say or do, you keep asking me about the swim team Chris. Please don't take what I am saying the wrong way, but please stop asking me. When I decide, I'll tell you first before anyone else."

Chris didn't say another word, which bothered Josh. That wasn't what he wanted as an outcome. He didn't want Chris to stop talking all together; he just wanted him to stop asking about the swim team. Josh quickly moved on to another subject before the bell rang.

"Now, you haven't told me anything about you and Rusty. The last couple of days I've seen you two together and it looks like you guys are getting closer. Don't leave me in the dark when I was the one that helped you guys get together. You owe me and now I'm collecting. Tell me what was going on with you and Rusty."

"We both agreed to take it slow. We decided to get to know each other first and move on from there. He has been in a relationship like me and it ended badly for him. I won't give you anymore information about that because it's Rusty's choice to tell you about his past, not mine.

It's kind of good and bad that we both have been in relationships before we met each other. The good is that we have experience with being in a relationship. The bad is that we will always compare the past relationship to this one. No matter how hard we try not to, we will do it."

"Look Chris, take baby steps on this with Rusty. Don't rush it; it will unfold if you guys are meant to be with each other. The one thing I do know about you Chris is that you won't make that mistake by comparing him to me. We're friends and that's something. By the looks of it, Rusty didn't get that when he and his ex broke up."

Before Chris could say another word, the bell rang. Josh and Chris took their seats before their teacher started to take roll call. Even if they were in the classroom, their teacher would count them absent if they were not sitting in their assigned seats. The conversation Josh and Chris were having would have to wait until after class.

The minute that Josh and Cesar walked into the house, they got called over to the living room. Both of them set their backpacks down at the side of the front door before walking over to the living room. As they walked down the hall, they looked at each other trying to figure out what was going on.

Normally, Rose only called Josh over, not both of them. After Josh spoke with his grandmother, he told Cesar what was going on. That's why this time it was so confusing to both of them. The only thing that popped in both of their minds, was that Josh's grandmother needed to talk with them both about what had happened yesterday after school.

Rose looked over at the boys as they walked into the living room. She saw the confused looks on their faces. Not saying a word, Rose pointed to the couch for them to take a seat. Almost immediately, the confused looks on the boy's faces changed to being scared. After taking their seats, Rose broke the silence.

"Josh your father wanted to be the one to talk with you boys about this, but he can't even get to a phone right now. You know your father; he wants to be the one to tell whomever, what the news was first, before they heard it from an outside source. If he knew what was going on he wanted to prepare those that were involved before getting blindsided.

Since your father is the Governor, everything that happens in his family is looked at under a microscope. After going public on your father Cesar, the state took a special interest in your case. Basically, it's politics at its worst if you really look at it. Those that want power will do whatever it takes to pull the one that has the power down. Sad thing is that you are getting the bad end of the stick right now Cesar.

Let me just get to the point of why I need to talk with you two. As you know, Jonathan filed the paperwork to adopt you Cesar. We just heard that he got denied. They gave us a whole list of reasons why, but it is all bull in my opinion. Still, Jonathan can't adopt you and that is causing a whole new set of problems."

Cesar just sat there trying to take everything in about what Rose was saying. If Jonathan couldn't adopt him, that meant he would be going into the system; he knew kids his age never got adopted because they were too old. He will be stuck in the system until he turned eighteen years old. A lot could happen in three years.

"The state is reaching out now and asking Daniel to turn you over. Daniel can't stop them from doing their job. Legally Daniel has no parental rights over you Cesar and therefore he has no other choice but to comply with their request. He doesn't want to, but he can't break the law. The position he holds right now doesn't even give him the power to stop this from happening. It is the law on the books and he must follow it."

"So when are they asking Josh's dad to turn me over?" Cesar stuttered as he spoke in a low monotone voice. "I already moved all my stuff here. It will take me a little while to pack my stuff back up again."

"They want you at Juvenile Court Monday morning. From there, they will take you to a group home for teens. The only thing you can take with you is two suitcases. The rest of your stuff must stay here." Rose handed Cesar a list with the state seal on top. "This is a list of stuff you are allowed to take with you.

Now I am giving you what has been given to Daniel, but that doesn't mean you are going Cesar. Daniel is not giving up that easily. He knows this is a political game that is being played, and they don't care who they hurt. Right now, those that want to pull Daniel down are willing to sacrifice you at their cause. That's wrong and there is no way Daniel is going to stand for it."

"Grandma, how is my dad going to stop it from happening? You said it yourself, Jonathan didn't get approved and dad is not going to break the law that is on the books right now. That leaves him with only one choice and that is obeying the request the state is demanding."

"That is where you are wrong Josh. Your dad hoped that Jonathan could adopt Cesar so you two could be close together. Now as you can see that didn't happen, but he always had a backup plan that will work! He is now turning to that back up plan and as we speak, it is being implemented.

One of his friends that just retired from the military is approved by the state to be an adoptive parent of a child in the system. His friend and wife wanted a baby of course, but will help your dad out. This friend of your dad's feels that he owes your dad for saving his life. Of course, your dad never felt that anyone owed him for doing his job and that is why he never called in this favor.

Daniel still isn't asking his friend to do what he is doing because of what his friend thinks he owes your father. When they talked earlier today, your dad made it clear that nothing was owed to him for anything. They needed to be doing this because they want to be doing it.

They filed the paperwork and a judge is signing it right now. Since they are already approved to adopt by the state, they can't be denied this adoption. So you are not going anywhere Cesar. What I mean by that is you won't be going into foster care, but since you are being adopted by someone other than Jonathan, you won't be living here."

"So where will I be living at since Jonathan is not going to adopt me?"

"They have a home on this side of town, but further west. You will be going to Coronado High School, not El Paso. That's the only other change that will happen besides moving into another house. You will still be close enough to visit with Josh on the weekends and maybe some weekdays in the evening."

Both of the boys just looked at each other. Josh grabbed a hold of Cesar's hand and held it tight. Without saying a word, Josh wanted to comfort Cesar. He wanted to make it clear that he would be there for him and that nothing would change. They got up from the couch, but Rose asked them to hold on for a second.

"These changes are not written in stone yet Cesar. Your moving into their house is, but as far as schools are concern, well let's say that Daniel can do something there. Nothing that would look bad on his part when he did it! The school district allows students to attend other schools under certain circumstances. Daniel has already made the request and the school board will approve it once the adoption is finalized."

Josh and Cesar thanked Rose and left the living room. Neither of them said another word to Rose as they left. They held each other's hands as they grabbed their backpacks and went up stairs to their room. Cesar let go of Josh's hand and walked over to his bed. He sat down thinking about what had just happened.

Cesar was glad that he was not going into foster care, but his life was still being up rooted. In his mind, he felt that there was no way that Josh and he would stay together. Not with him living in another house and going to another high school. Plus the thing he pushed away will more than likely come back to haunt him, namely Chris.

Chris was back into the group and he was getting very close to Josh. If there were any feelings still there, they might be acted upon when he was not around. It could be something as simple as Josh needing a shoulder to lean on and Chris being there, to be that shoulder. If that happened, there wasn't a thing he could do to stop it.



{Boy-o-boy did a lot happened in this chapter. From beginning to end, there was no break in the action in this chapter. In this chapter I dealt with some open plots from the last chapter and ended it with a plot that hasn't been written about for a while.

Let me start with the political scene. I got away from it the last couple of chapters, but I went back to it in this chapter. We all know there are games that are played behind closed doors of those we elect. Sad thing is that we have allowed our political leaders to get to this point. We need to start calling them on their games and stop listening to their lies when they come out to tell us they know best.

Daniel is pretty smart, with the help of Al. He got his first bill past is has signed it into law. Now he put his second bill down on the floor and this got the old guard all up in arms. I took this plot out of the news on what is going on today. I am tried of us regular tax paying Americans holding the burden of what they are doing. We have to keep paying higher taxes while politicians like our speaker of the house can go out and rent a office at the tax payer expense of over one hundred thousand dollars; wasteful spending.

Like the Governor said, it is time to cut the fat. All these extras need to be taken away and force them to live like we are living. What is up with these huge monetary breaks our leaders get? We pay them a salary and they don't work as many days as we do and get pay a hell a lot more than we do. It is high time to bring them back to earth!

Still the old guard is standing up to the Governor, but they can't win. The Governor knows how to get his agenda passed. They know it and they see it in their polls. If they want to live to fight another day, the old guard is going to have to adapt to the Governor's way of doing things. Do you all think that is going to happen?

It looks like Josh and his friends are just leaving what happened in the past. Josh loves Cesar so much he is willing to swallow his pride. If Cesar wants these friendships, Josh is willing to try and give him what Cesar wants. I just hope that Eric and Bernice don't think this is a weakness in Josh's armor. If they do one thing, no matter how big or small it is, the friendship is dead.

The swim team seems to have come around. This plot I got from a reader. He told me about this and I think it is a good plot to have back in the story. You know who you are and thank you for this idea. Make the swim team come around and show Josh how sorry they are for doing what they did. It took the Coach and the swim team to get Josh to even think about going back to rejoin the team. Do you think Josh is going to rejoin the team?

What is this thing about Emma trying to get Elizabeth back into school? Is Emma going to take over where Elizabeth left off? If so, is she going to be smarter than Elizabeth was? She has to realize there is no way Josh or his brothers are going to talk with their father about getting Elizabeth back in. So how is she going to react after that sinks in?

Eric and Bernice still feel they were right on what they did. If they don't at least drop that perspective, they have no chance of ever earning Josh's trust back again. They have screwed up a couple times majorly in the last month or so. Do you all think they are going to see the error of their way? Do you think that Josh is over reacting on what happened? Let me know what you think about this plot.

Jonathan doesn't know if he is coming or going. Poor guy is thinking too much on what he is doing. Do you guys think that Daniel is going to eventually get rid of Jonathan? Or do you think Jonathan is going to get his act together and re-earn Daniels respect? Any security detail job is hard, more so with teenagers.

Finally the last plot of the story! Things are falling apart around Cesar and all he wants is to be with Josh. Same thing with Josh, he just wants to have Cesar at his side. We know now Cesar is going to move out, but we don't know how that is going to unfold. From the school to living in a new house, so much can happen. This is something that came out of nowhere and I know it surprised you guys. But we all know there would have been no way that Jonathan would have been able to adopt Cesar.

So many open plots and so many more plots to come in this story. I love the political scenes a lot and I hope I am not offending anyone with them. Keep in mind it is only a story and I am trying my best not to preach my beliefs. Please stay tuned and I promise that you guys won't regret opening every new chapter.

I could stay here all day long, with all the open plots already in this story, but I won't. I warn you though! Don't skip a chapter, or you will be lost. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacobmillertex@aol.com, Thanks!}


The Governor is wasting no time upsetting the status quo in Austin! He's doing what I'd like to see done; breaking the chokehold that the old guard in government has on the entire country. The electorate as a whole has let the country down allowing all the graft and corruption to go unchecked.

It is going to be interesting to see how Josh deals with the appeals from the swim team and Coach. I could see it going either direction. I feel the swim team's apology was sincere. I hope I'm not wrong and that there is some `phobe hanging in the background.

Cesar's situation is scary right now. If I were in his shoes I'd be totally freaking out not knowing my future. I'm going to be stewing over this until I get the next chapter to see how it resolves. I had a plot suggestion for Jacob, but with this development I'm going to have to rethink my plot strategy!

Eric and Bernice seem need their heads extracted from their...well, you get the point. They just can't fathom why Josh is so deeply upset with them. I totally resonate with Josh's feelings and his reactions. I don't know if I could be as forgiving as Josh is being under the circumstances.

I was totally charged with brother Daniel's response to Emma and the cheerleaders regarding the situation with Elizabeth. I have been concerned about Josh's older brothers true feelings toward Josh. I guess I have nothing to be concerned about. I wonder if Daniel's talk with the girls got them to wake up to the real adult world. Will the drama ever stop with that group short of graduation?

It sounds like Chris and Rusty are taking their time, allowing what might be to come about in a natural time frame. It is going to be interesting to see how this pairing evolves and develops. If things progress and the spark happens, Chris will be truly over Josh. Both Chris and Josh deserve happiness and love. Let's see how it plays out.

I wonder what is going on with Brandon these days. He and Josh are so close, yet we've not heard from him in awhile.

Hey, thanks to all that have written e-mails and included me. It means a lot!

Until next time,

"Daddy" Rick