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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Ranger - 11. The Caretaker

August 2021

 

“I don’t know, CJ.” Brad scratched the top of his head and realized his hair was getting long. He needed a haircut

“It’s a win win, Red.” CJ handed Brad a steaming mug of coffee and sat next to him on a stool at the kitchen island. “We have no idea how long we’ll be out of the country, and we’d prefer not to leave Everhope in the care of strangers.”

Earlier, CJ had learned his first posting for the State Department would be at the embassy in Mexico City. He and Owen told Brad they had struggled with what to do with their home until the idea of having him move in as caretaker came up.

“If we come back before you get done with school, we’ll still have room for you.” Across from the two men, Owen used his hand to sweep Cheerios his daughter tossed from her high chair.

“I’m not sure I want to sleep on the same bed the two of you go at it on. I might get gay cooties.” Brad had returned to Washington, after screening A Home for Warriors for Air Force Academy cadets in Colorado Springs, focused on his college education. He swore he was done with being in the public eye. Relaxed after feeling pressured to be on his best behavior, teasing CJ felt like being home. It was comfortable. He would miss his two best friends when they moved.

CJ swatted at Brad’s shoulder. “Asshole!”

“Ashhole,” Liebe parroted. The three men surrounding her reacted with stares and dropped jaws. She giggled and spread more Cheerios over the graphite, polished concrete surface.

“Crap! See what you did, CJ?” Owen shook his head while returning spilled cereal to Liebe’s bowl. “You’ve been using that word too darn much around her.”

“Sorry, Oz. I’ll try harder. As for you, Red, gay cooties my butt. If you don’t want to sleep on an infected bed, you can have any of the other four. There’ll be two empty bedrooms in each of the middle floors when Aba returns to Miami. Your pick.”

Olga Santos, CJ’s grandmother, had moved to the District the previous year to help care for her great-granddaughter. She made it clear she had no desire to accompany them to Mexico, so she would be moving back to Miami. At the moment, she was in church and would return home after brunch with the same group of people she did most Sundays.

“Look at it this way, Brad. You get your own house rent-free. We pay all utilities too. We made all doorways extra wide when we remodeled, and we have an elevator. If you want to unstrap the legs and use your wheelchair, you won’t have a problem moving around.” Liebe apparently had no desire to eat, so Owen removed the bowl with the remaining cereal and placed it out of her reach.

“What happens if you get fired and return in six months?” Brad leaned towards accepting the offer. Living with his fathers was okay, but sometimes he wished he had his own space.

“Which part of we have plenty of space did you not understand?” CJ’s expression bordered on frustration.

The only time Brad had lived on his own was the six months or so he resided at Heroes Haven. His level of comfort with the prostheses and his agility had improved since then. Moving to Everhope, even for a short time, would afford an opportunity to function in the real world in a safe space.

“And I doubt CJ’s gonna get fired.” Owen lifted Liebe out of her high chair and sat her on the end of the island with her feet dangling over the edge. “If he does, and you don’t want to be around us all the time, we could at last remodel the apartment, and you could move there.”

Built on a platform over half the carriage house, what had been a rental property for the previous owner now sat unused—empty except for a few odd pieces of furniture and several boxes of CJ’s memorabilia and t-shirts. His dressing style had evolved and he did not wear them as much as he used to.

“You should turn that space into a man cave. Something like your dads’ basement.” Brad had spent considerable time playing pool at his neighbors’ house. Even though CJ and Owen no longer lived there, he would occasionally stop by, alone or with his own fathers, to play a game or catch a sporting event on the gigantic television.

“Nah… Once Owen stops popping out kids, we’ll figure out space requirements.”

Owen covered his daughters ears and whispered, “Asshole.” His voice’s volume returned to normal when he focused his attention on Brad. “If we decide we need a man cave to escape the kids, we’ve talked about doing it in the space below the apartment. We’ve also—”

A chirp on CJ and Owen’s phones accompanied the musical notes of the doorbell. CJ tapped the screen of his device a couple of times. “WE’RE IN THE KITCHEN. It’s Gray.”

“What, too lazy to get up and come to the front door? Gray Young worked for CJ’s fathers at Third Line Development. A general contractor, he had supervised Everhope’s rehab.

CJ smirked and nodded. “Something like that. Want a cup of coffee? We’re hanging until Aba gets back, and we can dump the rugrat on her.”

“Yes on the coffee. Cream and sugar.” Tall and lanky, Gray bent at the waist to stare Liebe in the eyes. “If your dads don’t want you, I’ll take you. Pres and I would take good care of you.”

“Not a chance, mate. We’re keeping her.” As Owen spoke, Liebe raised her arms towards Gray, the universal sign to be picked up.

“Speaking of Pres”Dr. Prescott Harding was Gray’s longtime partner“did he give you grief about coming with us today?” CJ smiled when his daughter ran her hand over Gray’s beard and tried to grab the short hairs. Brad, CJ, and Owen were all clean-shaven at the moment.

“Nope. He’s not big on football, and he knows this is somewhat related to work.”

Riley Knight and Phil Martinez, the football players they had met at the Kennedy Center premiere of A Home for Warriors, had stopped by Everhope the week after the screening and fallen in love with the place. They met with CJ’s dads who introduced them to Gray. A video call with CJ’s cousins in Chicago led to the two athletes hiring them to work on their own place. Considering the amount of money they made, they did not even blink when cost came up.

“It’s good he lets you be alone around those two monsters. Does he know they’re gay?” Brad’s snickering earned him a middle finger from Gray.

“Yes, he does. And I resent the insinuation I can’t be trusted.” Gray stuck his tongue out at CJ, and Liebe mimicked him. “Pres would only get mad if I ended up getting pounded by two football players, and he wasn’t there to record it.”

“TMI, TMI….” Brad covered his ears while shaking his head.

“You’ve heard worse, Bradley.” Gray bounced in place, eliciting happy giggles from Liebe. “Anyway, when I told him Riley had offered us tickets to a Redskins pre-season game, he told me to enjoy myself. I think he knows I won’t get into too much trouble with the three of you around.”

Riley and Phil had quickly become friends with the guys, made generous contributions to Heroes Haven, and had promised Brad tickets to any Redskins or Ravens games he was interested in attending. CJ and Owen declined a similar offer since they were moving out of the country.

 

 

“Man, this is like GOAT!” Gray sounded like an excited five-year-old with a new toy. His eyes flittered all over the place as he tried to absorb the atmosphere. He stroked the pass hanging from a lanyard around his neck as if it was the most precious thing he had ever received. “Great parking spot, incredible seats, and we get to hang out on the sidelines. Shit, I hope Riley still likes me enough after we finish his house, so I can come back.”

“It probably wouldn’t be like this, bud. Remember this is a preseason game, and the reason we get to hang with the team’s because of the documentary.” His comment aside, CJ seemed just as excited. He stared upwards and pointed at the area where the upper and lower decks sandwiched the luxury seating section. “That’s where I’ve sat most times I’ve come to a game. This is quite a difference.”

“The nose bleed seats?”

“No, you jerk. That’s more or less where the private suites are.”

“Oh, excuse me for not scoring us seats with the rich people. You’re gonna have to slum with us today.” Brad suspected a head slap was coming his way and moved in time for CJ’s hand to whiff the air.

“You’re an ass, Brad. This is better than those damn air-conditioned rooms. Half the time, the people up there don’t even pay attention to the game.”

As soon as CJ’s grandmother had returned and taken charge of Liebe, the four men piled into CJ and Owen’s Tesla for the twenty-minute ride to the stadium in Landover, Maryland. The package Riley had delivered contained a preferred parking tag for the rearview mirror, four seats on the forty-yard line on the home team side, and the special pass allowing them access to the playing field. As they approached the entrance, Gray documented their progress with his phone.

The guys had their tickets out for the attendant to scan when they reached the appropriate stadium gate. The elderly man glanced at the passes hanging from their necks and asked them to wait just inside the entrance. “A team rep will come over in a few minutes to escort you inside.” Brad could hear someone he assumed was a supervisor say into a hand held radio they had VIPs waiting.

“I’ve never been a VIP anywhere!” Gray frowned, staring at the piece of plastic hanging against his chest.

CJ draped an arm around him and gave their friend a gentle shake. “You’re a VIP with us all the time, bud.”

“Ohhh, that’s so sweet. Maybe” Brad’s sarcastic remark died on his lips when a pretty, young woman wearing a Redskins polo shirt and khaki pants stood next to them and captured his attention. He smiled at her and ran a hand over his short hair, hoping he looked okay. He might be off the market, but he was not blind. The woman was hot.

“Hi, I’m Daphne. On behalf of Riley Knight and the Washington Redskins, welcome to FedEx Field.” The dazzling white smile did not waver when she appraised the four men; her sight lingered on Brad’s artificial legs for a moment. All four wore shorts, and the prostheses were clearly visible.

“If you’ll follow me, we need to stop at one of the stadium stores before I escort you to our destination.”

Brad shrugged when the others gave him questioning looks. “Don’t look at me. I have no idea what’s going on.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Sergeant Kennedy,” Daphne said. “I figured either Riley or the PR person you spoke with had told you. The organization would like all of you to wear a team shirt when you’re on the sidelines. Would that be a problem?”

CJ was quick to reply. “Only for Sergeant Kennedy here. He’s a rabid Patriots fan.”

“Shut up, CJ. The Pats may be my main team, but I root for the Skins in the NFC.” The New England Patriots played in the American Conference of the National Football League, while the Washington Redskins belonged to the Eastern Division of the National Conference.

“Ummm, I’m not part of whatever it is you have planned,” Gray said. Riley had told them the Redskins wanted to recognize the efforts of Heroes Haven and plug their documentary before kickoff.

Daphne looked at her phone for a moment. “You’re Mr. Young?” The woman apparently had their names in it.

“Yeah…”

“You’re part of the group, sir. Even if you’re not in the ceremony, you’ll still be able to roam the sidelines. My instructions are to outfit all four of you.”

Brad was not the only one to shrug. He had no idea what ceremony the woman referred to. As far as he knew, there would be an announcement, but he assumed they would be on the sidelines or their seats when it was made.

They followed Daphne as she guided them inside the store selling clothing and memorabilia, maneuvered through display racks, and stopped in the area dedicated to team shirts and jerseys.

“You can pick anything you want.”

“I’d love one of those.” CJ pointed at a jersey with Knight and the number 22 on its back. “I can get Riley to sign it.”

“Me too!” Owen reached upwards and looked at the jerseys’ tags until he found his and CJ’s size. “Pretty cool Riley wears our daughter’s birthday as his number.”

“Same for me.” Brad took the garment Owen handed him and immediately slipped it over his head. He was not accustomed to getting free stuff like this, and he was not about to turn down an official NFL jersey.

“We might as well make it four. Get one for me too, Ozzie.” Gray resembled a kid in a candy store; he barely settled his eyes on an item before shifting elsewhere. “I could spend a fortune in here.”

“Is there anything else you’d like to get, Mr. Young? I’m sure the organization won’t have a problem with it.”

“Nah, thanks, Daphne. The jersey will be enough. Thank you so much.” He stopped for a moment, scanning the store’s contents. “Maybe a hat? I’ve been wearing the same one for years. It’s all dirty and frayed.”

Daphne pointed at the ball caps’ display. “Help yourself.”

She waited until Gray had found one he liked, curved the brim, and stuck it on his head. “Let’s stop by the register for a moment so I can sign for the items you picked. I’ll lead you to the locker room then. Riley wants you four to visit for a few minutes before you head to the field.”

Walking through the tunnels in the stadium’s bowels was a new experience for all of them. Daphne scanned her employee ID and pushed open a door marked Redskins Personnel Only. She knocked on the locker room entrance and spoke with the young man who opened it for a moment, before returning her attention to her charges. “It’s been a pleasure meeting you gentlemen. Barry will show you the way. I’ll be back in a bit to collect you.”

The attendant guided them inside and pointed at where Riley sat in front of a locker with his name on it. “Guys! You made it! You look good wearing my jersey.”

“Thanks for all this, bud.” Brad was the first to bump fists with the football player.

“Not a problem, boys.” Riley bent over, adjusted his right shoe, and tied the laces. “When I mentioned I’d met you guys to one of our PR people, she felt it would be great to highlight your project at a game. They may have a little surprise for you.”

“I’m getting troublemaker vibes from you, Riley. What’s up?” CJ grabbed the roll of tape on the floor next to Riley and took a step away from the player. “Spill, or you don’t get to tape your shoes. I’d hate for you to lose one in the middle of the game.”

Riley reached for the tape, and CJ relinquished it after playing keep-away for a few moments. “Has anyone ever told you you’re a pain?” The football player grinned apparently in a good mood.

“Yes!”

“Often!”

“Daily!”

Riley spoke again before CJ could reply. “Phil’s not allowed in here, so he’ll meet you outside. He texted me he tried to sneak by the guard after telling him there was a fight at the end of the tunnel. It didn’t work.”

Brad confronted their host. “Rileeey… Don’t change the subject. What’s going on?”

“Oh, okay. You’re no fun. Instead of just recognizing Heroes Haven and your movie, you guys are running on the field with me. The team wants to acknowledge you for your work on behalf of veterans.”

“For real?”

“Are you serious?

“Dope!” Brad’s excitement quickly gave in to suspicion. “Sidelines or midfield?”

Riley shrugged, smirked, and ignored the question. “The woman who brought you here, Daphne, will meet you outside the locker room and show you where to go. Sorry to cut the visit short, but I have to finish getting ready.”

When the team ran onto the field a little while later, Daphne, Brad, CJ, and Owen trailed them to the sidelines before being guided to the fifty-yard line where a handful of people stood. Gray had not been part of the documentary and did not want to be part of the presentation.

“Ladies and gentlemen.” The announcer’s voice boomed through the stadium. “Please direct your attention to midfield where our very own Riley Knight, the NFL’s 2020 Rookie of the Year, is joined by three guests, and representatives of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.”

Brad had spent abundant time in locker rooms and playing fields while in high school, but the magnitude of his current location eclipsed memories of those experiences. FedEx Field was truly a field of dreams. He felt like every little boy who ever watched a football game, dreaming of one day walking out in front of thousands.

He tried to pay attention, but the crowd in the stands and the players on the sidelines were distracting. If anyone had told him while he recovered in a hospital bed he would one day be introduced before the start of an NFL game, he would have suspected them of being under the influence of something or other.

“Retired Army Ranger, Sergeant Bradley Kennedy, CJ Abelló, and Owen Liston are the men behind A Home for Warriors. The documentary released earlier this summer, chronicles Sergeant Kennedy’s time at Heroes Haven. A community providing housing to homeless military veterans.”

One of the individuals on the field retrieved an oversized facsimile check from the ground and held it up in front of the cameras documenting the ceremony. “In the spirit of community and in support of our country’s returning military members, the foundation would like to present a check for twenty-five thousand dollars to Heroes Haven.”

CJ and Owen flanked Brad as the three held the large piece of cardboard and waved. Brad was gratified by the audience reaction to the surprise donation. He would later discover the Redskins had approached Haven’s director and conspired to keep their plans from the men on the field.

 

 

Brad, CJ, and Owen watched the first quarter from the sidelines but went in search of their seats before the second one began. “I was surprised to hear you were joining us,” Brad said to Phil when the football player and Gray scooted over to make room for the new arrivals.

“Riley and I looked at the schedules when they came out. This is one of two weeks we’ll be able to catch each other’s games live. Both our teams are home and playing on different days. He came to Baltimore Thursday night to watch ours.”

“Are you commuting?” Following A Home for Heroes’ premiere, Riley and Phil sought out Brad and invited him to dinner. They each handed him a check made out to Heroes Haven and promised more in the future. Afterwards, they had hung out with CJ and Owen a couple of times while the athletes went through training camp over the summer.

“Not entirely. We still have the apartments we rented after we were drafted last year. Once Gray here”—Phil nudged the general contractor with his shoulder—“finishes fixing our house, Riley will move. We’re gonna keep the place in Baltimore for whenever I can’t drive back home to Washington.”

“It’s a major project, Phil. CJ’s cousins are flying in from Chicago next weekend to say goodbye to him and Ozzie. We’ll get to review the plans then.” Gray hesitated momentarily. “Don’t hold me to it, but we may be able to finish before Christmas.”

“Fucking A! If you do, we’ll throw a New Year’s Eve party. Unless one of our teams makes the playoffs, and we have a game that weekend.” Phil threw an arm around Brad’s shoulders. “And we’ll expect you to be there, Brad. After all, I hear you’re moving near us. We’ll be neighbors.”

“Ummm, I haven’t agreed to anything yet. Did you put him up to this?” Brad glared at CJ and Owen.

“We may have mentioned something…” CJ’s smirk made Brad shake his head. “Look at it this way, Red; you won’t be alone in the hood.”

“Yeah, man. I’d feel better knowing Riley has a friend nearby. Particularly a straight one who’s not gonna try to get in his pants.” Phil winked at Brad. “I’m the only one allowed in there.”

“That’s me! The straight man with mostly homos as friends.” He was so used to being surrounded by gay men; Brad did not think two more would be a problem. Plus, he honestly liked Riley and Phil.

“Dude, think about it. Did you know we’re putting in a gym in the basement? You can come work out with us. And we’ll get you tickets for our home games whenever you want them.”

“Are you gonna stick to the crazy training schedule your boyfriend mentioned?” Riley had complained about Phil being a slave driver when it came to conditioning.

“What’s he talking about?” Gray looked at Phil while tilting his head in Brad’s direction.

“I follow the Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Butler approach.” The late Kobe Bryant had played his entire twenty-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Jimmy Butler was a star with the Miami HEAT. “Wake up at 4:00 a.m. to work out.”

“On and off season?”

“Yeah. During the season, I lift weights early in the morning before practice. Offseason, we’ll be doing it at least twice a day. Weight and aerobics. We have a trainer lined up who’ll come to our place five days a week.”

“What time do you guys go to bed?”

“Around nine during the week. Friday and Saturday we stay up a bit later. But we’re usually asleep no later than midnight.”

Sitting next to the football player, Owen clasped his shoulder and shook it. “Mate, that’s insane. CJ doesn’t need as much sleep, but I do. I’m finally getting close to eight a night since the baby doesn’t wake up every hour.”

“Your daughter’s cute. I can’t wait ’til we have kids.”

“Are you and Riley planning on them?”

“Yeah, but not for a few years. Once one of us stops playing. What about you guys?” Phil looked at Gray and Brad.

“Not for me. Pres and I discussed it and decided we weren’t cut out to be parents.”

No sooner had Gray finished, CJ jumped in. “Brad already has one! His girlfriend has a daughter a bit older than ours, and little Carolina all but calls him daddy already.”

“Asshole!”

Copyright © 2020 Carlos Hazday; All Rights Reserved.
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Thank you for reading. Your feedback in reactions and comments is welcome and appreciated.

And thanks to @dughlas and @Mann Ramblings for their help in making my scribbles make sense. Any errors remain mine.

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Story Discussion Topic

US Army Rangers Sergeant Bradley Thomas Kennedy lost his legs when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. Ranger chronicles the first couple of years following the IED incident. Will he recover sufficiently from his physical and  mental wounds to lead a fulfilling live? Will he get the girl in the end? Here's a little look at the story.    
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I love the positivity that is the basis of your stories.  Brad is so very fortunate to have the friends he has for support, encouragement, challenges, and respect,  but most importantly, love!    I would hope your stories, and this one especially, inspires more to do what they can for homeless vets!

Tony

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As always, good chapter.    It all seems to be working out.  Brad will watch the house and stay there while CJ and family are in Mexico  All good.  

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Nice job!  It does make sense for Brad to live at CJ's place while they are in Mexico, but I get the feeling Brad gets tired of being manipulated....

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7 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Awesome chapter. Everything seems to be going great for Brad. I like that he's going to be looking after CJ's house whilst he's in Mexico. The ballgame scene was perfect, great to see Brad front and centre with CJ and Owen and not complaining. 

It's been a couple of years since he lost his legs and he's ready to take control of his life.

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5 hours ago, pvtguy said:

I love the positivity that is the basis of your stories.  Brad is so very fortunate to have the friends he has for support, encouragement, challenges, and respect,  but most importantly, love!    I would hope your stories, and this one especially, inspires more to do what they can for homeless vets!

Tony, I write the type of stuff I like to read. Characters facing challenges I don't mind, but I like them to strive to overcome whatever obstacles they face. If I want miserable, suffering ones, I can watch the nightly news.

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5 hours ago, avidreadr said:

As always, good chapter.    It all seems to be working out.  Brad will watch the house and stay there while CJ and family are in Mexico  All good.  

Thank you! One more chapter, but Brad will show up in futre spinoffs and definitely in the next official series story. Brad needs to continue working on his mind and body and at least he'll have two new friends to enrich his life.

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3 hours ago, Kitt said:

I love the idea of Carolina being part of a conspiracy to make Brad happy!

You did again ashhole. Super chapter.❤

Kids have a way of influencing adults without us always recognizing it. She liking Brad makes it so much easier for Cristina to work on a relationship with him.

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2 hours ago, Daddydavek said:

Nice job!  It does make sense for Brad to live at CJ's place while they are in Mexico, but I get the feeling Brad gets tired of being manipulated....

I think Brad expects CJ to pull this type of stuff. The fact he gets a nice place to live in for free doesn't hurt. And since he's helping out his 'brothers' I'm sure he'll be fine with it.

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1 hour ago, Wesley8890 said:

Ok so my question is, when are my boys getting the tattoo?

We'll see. Bet you didn't expect to see them again this soon.

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Was there ever any doubt that Liebe would have as strong a personality as her father? It's kinda funny now, give it 15-16 years and we'll see. I have no doubt that she'll be as well behaved as CJ and as naughty. 

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1 hour ago, dughlas said:

Was there ever any doubt that Liebe would have as strong a personality as her father? It's kinda funny now, give it 15-16 years and we'll see. I have no doubt that she'll be as well behaved as CJ and as naughty. 

 @Kitt referenced a certain word that will be part of Liebe's vocabulary no matter how hard they try not to corrupt her. I mentioned somewhere Liebe will be a hellion. Just wait until CJ starts taking her to martial arts classes; I pity the fool that crosses her. Re-read Hail to the Chief, and between her dialogue and Brad's comments, we get an idea of how she turns out.

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Thanks for another great chapter, Carlos. I'd like to see more of Riley and Phil and get to know them better.  It's really nice to have another committed gay couple in the CJverse.

I'm a little concerned about Brad living alone in Everhope. Brad probably still has some demons to deal with, along with the stresses of being a student again. I hope he doesn't isolate in that huge house.

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6 hours ago, frosenblum said:

Thanks for another great chapter, Carlos. I'd like to see more of Riley and Phil and get to know them better.  It's really nice to have another committed gay couple in the CJverse.

I'm a little concerned about Brad living alone in Everhope. Brad probably still has some demons to deal with, along with the stresses of being a student again. I hope he doesn't isolate in that huge house.

Phil and Riley's story was a throwaway. Something I wrote to start off 2020 on a happy note. I didn't imagine then how much we would need lighthearted tales to help us cope with a pandemic. I did like them enough to spin them in for Ranger. I have nother story with them as the main characters, but I'm uncertain when I'll get to it. Before it sees the light of day, I have five others planned. ANd one of them's a long one.

As for Brad, he won't be alone at Everhope. Wingnut will still live there. I very much doubt the Squad members remaining in Washington would allow him to close himself off, and Cristina and Carolina will also be around.

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9 hours ago, Carlos Hazday said:

As for Brad, he won't be alone at Everhope. Wingnut will still live there. I very much doubt the Squad members remaining in Washington would allow him to close himself off, and Cristina and Carolina will also be around.

Oh, yes, how silly of me to forget Wingnut!

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1 hour ago, frosenblum said:

Oh, yes, how silly of me to forget Wingnut!

LOL

I had left that detail out and planned to mention it at a later time, but what the heck.

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Thanks for sharing more of Brad's story. I am so happy to see him grow and take charge of his life! I am a bit sad to see this story end. I love the cameos you include of past character in all your stories. In a few sentences or a couple of paragraphs, you get us caught up with their lives. In this chapter it was nice to catch up with Brad's mom and stepdad. Thanks. 

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On 5/10/2020 at 7:09 PM, JeffreyL said:

Thanks for sharing more of Brad's story. I am so happy to see him grow and take charge of his life! I am a bit sad to see this story end. I love the cameos you include of past character in all your stories. In a few sentences or a couple of paragraphs, you get us caught up with their lives. In this chapter it was nice to catch up with Brad's mom and stepdad. Thanks. 

I'm so glad you've enjoyed Ranger, Jeff. Next up is an entry for the GA Spring Anthology followed by Malibu. Starring Brett and Cesar, it'll be the first spinoff of members of The Elite. I'm so happy you like the cameos and snippets of other characters; I do the same in Malibu and will continue the practice in future books. As an aside, I thought of you a lot when I wrote a section of Malibu. Political commentary from the main characters. I may surprise you. LOL

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“I’m not sure I want to sleep on the same bed the two of you go at it on. I might get gay cooties.” -- Ask Patrick or Chipper or your dads, there are worse things in life.

“Nah… Once Owen stops popping out kids, we’ll figure out space requirements.” -- That will happen only when CJ stops getting him pregnant.

“Pretty cool Riley wears our daughter’s birthday as his number.” -- An AMAZING coincidence! OTOH, you only need 25 people to have a better than even chance that 2 people will have the same birthday; weird, yes?

CJ has, again, manipulated the situation with the skill of a Romulan. Between getting to care for Wingnut, having Phil/Riley's gym and trainer a couple blocks away, and his own accessible luxury living space, Brad can have a sweet life at Everhope. OTOH, the commute to AU is going to be a pain without his own vehicle (or a lot of Uber credits).

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