Chase wasn’t sad as he left the condo… not in the usual sense of the word, but he was flooded with emotion. Placing one foot in front of the other, as he walked down the many flights of stairs, was almost like meditating—emptying his mind while he concentrated on the simple mechanics. Stepping out the side door of his dad’s building and onto green space, he took a deep breath. Birdsong erupted suddenly, startling him as he looked up into the bushy pines above him.
Searching the trees, his confused heart and fluctuating emotions fine-tuned, and in that instant he felt surrounded by his mother’s presence, so real his arms moved upwards in response. The bird chatter quieted enough he imagined hearing her soft, tinkling laugh within it. As he stood there staring up through the leafy canopy to the blue beyond, the mother he remembered soared in his mind, and she was not the one who’d spent the last part of her life confined to a hospital bed.
What had just happened up in the condo had somehow turned him around the last corner, allowing him to picture her the way she would wish him to—as a vibrant, talented, healthy, and accomplished woman who loved her family. It let him release the pain he’d worn like a blanket, and feel the peace she would want him to have. The birdsong quieted, until only a few notes broke the silence.
Meandering off the shaded, paved walkway and onto the sunlit grass, he paused, picturing his father’s earlier, poorly-hidden distress. He understood his dilemma, but he really had done the right thing in presenting her gestures. The promise of a future wedding had given his mother happy purpose, and he was better off for receiving this final message of hers. It was astonishing how she could paint something as beautiful as that little scene of him and Hank when she could hardly lift her arms or work her fingers. It was the proof of her great joy.
And while Chase had apologized for giving Hank a hard time, he didn’t feel any regret… not really. It was the ending of their relationship they’d been talking about, and he’d deserved some pushback from Chase. Whether or not his anger had fallen on deaf ears, it had given Chase something positive. He really wasn’t that guy anymore, the one who’d hid away when reality got too difficult.
Dawson was spot on that fucking Kevin had been a weak move, and he’d had every right to express what it invoked in him. And yes, while it hurt to hear the truth from his ex’s mouth, he’d been given some of the previously elusive closure.
It hadn’t been fair, though, to expect Hank to have insisted on an earlier proposal for his mother’s sake, and he knew that, but it still rankled a bit. He couldn’t help thinking his ex should have come to him at the time so they could have decided together on what the right thing was. An early evening breeze swirled around him as he replayed that part of the conversation, and he could hear his mother’s voice gently chastising him.
He knew exactly what she’d have said, and she would have been right. Hank had done nothing wrong by respecting Christine Leeman’s wishes. And the fact was, the timing hadn’t been right for a wedding, because she, and Chase, wouldn’t have had the strength to handle it. Hank had been right to keep it from him… the man had always had his best interests at heart back then. He knew that too.
Sighing into the breeze, he let it go, proud and relieved he hadn’t felt the slightest urge to slip back into a dark headspace. His slow walk had taken him to the benches near the deserted tennis courts, and he plunked himself down. Closing his eyes, he turned his face to the sun, and let this new contentment wash over him.
He had his mom back. Thinking about her wasn’t painful anymore, and that had begun with the family visit to the old house… or maybe even earlier, when Cindy had brought him the comfort of his mother’s mac and cheese.
Hank was upstairs with his dad, and that too was a good thing. They’d clicked from the first time they’d been introduced, and while Hank’s and his relationship was over, he hoped today meant those two, at least, would get back on track.
For the first time since that awful night, it felt like there was a possibility he could forge a reasonable friendship with his ex. Not so close that he would want to talk with him about Kevin… not yet anyway. He did wonder, though, what had happened between the two, and whether it was truly over. He pushed those questions from his mind because they did him no good. He had a life to get on with, and things were finally falling into place.
His outlook was becoming positive, and it was long overdue. His family was healing, and so was he. He had a good job, one he enjoyed, and he had a great friend in Dawson. He no longer wanted to dwell on all the endings in his life, but rather, what could begin.
The thought of Dawson had him reaching into his pocket and pulling out his phone. He hadn’t spoken to him all day, and yesterday his friend had only texted to say he was too busy to go biking. A breathless Dawson picked up.
“Dude, did I interrupt sex or working out?”
“Funny man. No, neither… I’ve been running up and down the stairs. I was just going to call you.”
“Yeah? Well, I beat you to it. Man, you wouldn’t believe my day.”
“Tough day at work?”
“Nah, it was crazy hectic with meetings, but it went fast. No, I’m talking about after. Guess who I just had pizza with.”
“Oh, you met someone? Who?”
“No, no. You’re on the wrong track. I came home to find my dad and Hank sitting at the dining room table. I sat with them because my dad wanted to talk to us both.”
“Wow. That’s good, right? How did it go… with Hank?”
“Well… it was good, bad, and good….”
“We’re over, Dawson, just like I figured, and it wasn’t me giving up. I thought about what you said, and I even got my hopes up for a bit, but he was sleeping with Kevin… he admitted it, and made it clear I had no right to ask about his life.”
“That’s what he said… sounds like they had a spat or something… but he wouldn’t say anything more.”
“Was he a dick about it?”
“No, not really. I think he thought I was, though, but he got over it.”
“I’m sorry, Chase, I really am.”
“No worries. I already knew from the way he acted before, so it wasn’t a big surprise. Now that it’s all been said, maybe I can get on with my life. So, enough about that… how was your day? Feel like a quick bike ride?”
“Oh shit, no, I can’t. I have so much to do.”
“Pack?! What’s going on?”
“Too much to get into over the phone. Where are you?”
“Back beside the tennis courts. Hank is still upstairs with Dad.”
“Can you come over?”
“Sure, I’ll be there in two minutes.”
Dawson looked flushed and sweaty when he opened his door. “Hi.”
“Hey. So, you going on a trip somewhere? Heading home for the weekend?”
“No, nothing like that. Come on in, and I’ll grab us a beer.”
Chase followed him to the kitchen, passing a small stack of sealed up cardboard boxes in the hallway. “What the fuck, man? Are you moving?”
Dawson closed the fridge door and handed him a can of Coors Light. “Yeah, I am as a matter of fact. Dave is going to move upstairs and take over this place, and my lease. And he has a friend who wants to move into his apartment. I talked to the owner and he’s good with it, so I won’t lose any money.”
“Holy shit. You’re serious?” He took a quick swig of beer and almost missed his mouth, dumbfounded by what he was hearing.
Dawson nodded, looking sheepish as he did. “That’s why I was going to call you. I ended up doing what you said I should.” His smile was sheepish too.
“What the fuck are you talking about? What did I tell you to do? I know I never told you to move! Wait! Does this have anything to do with Brent?”
He nodded again. “It has everything to do with Brent.”
“Holy shit! You called him? What did he say? Did he marry that guy?”
Dawson shook his head before taking a sip of his own beer. “Perry is out of the picture. Let’s sit down. I’ve been running around all day trying to get everything done.”
“What does that mean, he’s out… wait… you didn’t work today? Jeez, man, why didn’t you tell me?”
“Chase, calm down… I’m freaking out enough as it is.”
“Right… sorry, it’s just I didn’t know anything about this, and… it’s been a really weird day.”
“I get it, seeing Hank and all, and it’s been a weird couple of days for me too. I want to hear all about what happened, though, so spill.”
“Are you nuts? You drop this bomb on me and you want to change the subject? No fucking way—you’re the one moving away, so you spill.”
“Okay okay… good point. I’m not only moving, I’m moving to the fucking Yukon! Now that is something I never thought I would say.”
He was grinning, and Chase tried to match it, but his stomach had dropped to somewhere around his feet. “I… ah… that’s… that’s one heck of a big move. When did you—”
“I’ve been thinking about it ever since we talked on Sunday, and this morning—like at three in the morning— I finally decided fuck it—I’m going!”
“So, you talked to Brent and he asked you to come up there?”
“Not exactly. Yesterday, he actually told me not to. That’s why I had to make a decision, because if he had asked, I wouldn’t have had to think about it at all.”
“What the fuck?!Shouldn’t you think about—”
“I know, Chase. I know I sound crazy, but I can hear it in his voice—he’s as down as I’ve ever heard him. He’s too proud to say it, but he needs me.”
“No, seriously, I know what I’m doing. I’m taking a leap of faith and it’s the right thing to do.”
“All right, if you say so. Did he tell you he loved you?”
“Not this time, no… we didn’t talk about him and me like that, because—”
“Hold on, dude. I’m not following. Don’t you think this needs to be figured out before you make a big change like moving to the Great White North?”
“Probably,” he said, sheepish once more, “but I’m making it anyway.”
“What about your job, for God’s sake? You have a good career started, and what the hell are you going to do in a place like that?” He had lots more to say, but he stopped dead when he saw the hurt look on his friend’s face.
“I thought you’d be happy for me,” he uttered softly as his gaze flickered back and forth between Chase and his can of beer.
Shit. “I am, Dawson, I am, but I’m worried about you too. Why doesn’t Brent come down here? Did they buy that airport?”
Dawson met his gaze again. “That deal fell through because Perry was full of shit and didn’t have the money he said he did. He thought the bank would approve the mortgage with Brent as part of the deal, along with Brent’s part of the down payment, but no dice.”
“Oh, that’s so not cool.”
“No, it wasn’t. He turned out to be a real douche.”
“Sounds it… so then Brent dumped his ass?”
“No… he didn’t dump him. Perry somehow convinced him to go in with him on some rundown motel, but again, he didn’t have his share of the down payment. He promised to sell his plane, but when it came down to the crunch, he said he couldn’t find a buyer… some bullshit about he wasn’t selling until he got the ‘right price.’
“That meant Brent had to ask his dad for a thirty-five thousand dollar loan to satisfy the bank. His family’s well-off, but from what I understand, Gerald—that’s his dad—flew up there, and after meeting and talking to Perry, he refused to loan the money if the douche’s name was on the title.”
“That says a lot, doesn’t it?”
“What happened after that?”
“Brent agreed, and bought the hotel with his dad as a silent partner. The deal was, once the loan was paid back, Gerald would come off the deed, and then Perry could go on.”
“Sounds pretty smart to me.”
“It was, and Perry agreed, but after it was all signed and sealed, he decided he didn’t like not being the owner, so they had some big blow up and he up and disappeared, along with his plane. Brent didn’t know where he was for about three weeks, until the police finally tracked him down through his plane registration. Brent filed a missing person report because he was worried he might have crashed somewhere, so the cops got involved. Turns out he was shacked up with a woman and her kid, and apparently the kid is his.”
“No way! What a bastard! Brent didn’t know about the kid?”
“Nope. And now he’s stuck with a motel he bought because of that asshole, and he’s got almost no help because it was family owned and run. Perry was supposed to help with renovations and running it, and it’s apparently near capacity for most of the year.
“The only good thing is that Brent has a business degree, and his dad looked over the books with him. They both still think it’s a good deal—well, his dad had some reservations about how much work there was to do, but the price was good, and he thinks the place has excellent potential once it’s fixed up. The problem is, his dad couldn’t stay and help him because he has his own business to run, so Brent’s completely on his own.”
“And that’s where you come in?”
“That’s the plan… my plan. Brent and I both worked construction every summer during high school, and we both know a lot about building and renovating….” He swallowed nervously, and Chase’s heart went out to him. He might be excited, but he was scared too.
“You do seem like exactly what he needs.”
Dawson brightened immediately at the encouraging words. “I am, even if he doesn’t know it yet. It could work out well because I know his goal was to always own his own business. Hid dad used to say you were spinning your wheels if you worked for someone else, and Brent has the same philosophy. But, he really needs someone there… in his corner.”
Chase nodded, trying not to show how worried he was. He couldn’t help but caution him, as much as he hated to. “It’s not Brent’s plan, though, is it?”
“No, I offered, and said I would buy into the business if he wanted, but he told me to stay here and continue my career… that I didn’t get a degree to work at a motel in Buttfuck, Nowhere. He said he’s made his own bed and he’s going to lie in it. He’s proud and he’s embarrassed, Chase, I can tell.”
“About the hotel?”
“No, not that. He said Perry made him look like a fool in front of his parents, and he’s probably feeling stupid for loving the guy.”
“Do you think Brent still loves him?”
“I honestly don’t know.”
“Don’t you think—”
“No, Chase. Look, I know you mean well, but I’m not playing it safe. If he tries to send me away, he’ll have a fight on his hands. I know he loves me. Maybe it’s not enough right now, but that’s okay. The only way I’ll leave is if he and Perry get back together.”
“Is that a possibility?”
“The Brent I know can be forgiving, but he doesn’t put up with bullshit, and hates liars, so no, I don’t think that will happen. But, I guess I’ll find out. It’s a chance I’m willing to take. It’s one I need to take.”
“Well, I guess it’s a good sign he opened up to you like he did. That’s a start.”
Dawson’s earnest expression changed to a rueful one. “He didn’t exactly open up. I found out most of this from my mom, and she found it out from his mom when she called to get Brent’s phone number for me on Monday. Turns out too, Marlene had no idea her son was gay. He said he was going to tell his parents, the night we ran into each other, but I guess he put it off.” He rubbed his face, and Chase saw how tired he was.
“Have you had any sleep?”
“I’m fine. Anyway, Marlene thought Perry was just a business partner and my mom says she didn’t handle it well when she found out the truth. She’s apparently been driving Brent crazy, which is the last thing he fucking needs. That’s my mother’s take on it, not Brent’s. Marlene’s confiding in her because of the gay son thing, so everything his dad told her, she told my mom.
“They normally don’t talk much—my mom doesn’t care for some of her views—but they’ve had, like, three long phone calls since my mom called her. She probably opened up to her because she doesn’t want anyone in her social circle to know Brent isn’t her idea of perfect.”
“Oh crap, that sucks. So, I’m assuming she’s the reason he put off telling them he was gay?”
“To put it the way my mom does, that woman has a steel stick up her ass, and needs a good talking to. In other words, she’s always been a closeted bigot, so yeah, that’s why. His dad, on the other hand, is perfectly fine with it—he took it in stride—which doesn’t surprise me at all. Marlene was pissed because it didn’t faze him, though. Stupid bitch… can you believe she said that to my mom?”
“Some people need to be hit over the head before they actually get a clue. So, if you learned all this from your mom, what did Brent actually tell you?”
“At first he said it was nice to hear my voice, but then his tone changed and he got… I don’t know… defensive, I guess? Said he didn’t get married and that he and Perry were having trouble—and weren’t together at the moment. He was silent for a while after that, but then he told me instead of buying an airport, he bought a motel—that he might be over his head, but he’d made his bed and had to lie in it. That’s when I made my offer, which he immediately refused.”
“That’s not exactly coming clean.”
“Well, like I said, he’s embarrassed. Even worse, he’s ashamed, Chase, and I expect, knowing him, he’s determined to prove his parents wrong. I wanted him to know I was aware of more than he was telling me, so I told him my mom had been talking to his mom, and I knew things were tough… he got really quiet again… didn’t respond at all, but I bet he was imagining all sorts of things about what Marlene might have said.”
“Well, maybe doing that made it easier for him… not having to go into detail, I mean.”
“Yeah, and I didn’t feel right letting him think I didn’t know the full extent of his situation. We were always straight up with one another. I understand why he kept stuff back, though. He gave up everything for that piece of shit, and now he’s getting it from all sides.”
He was about to ask why Dawson hadn’t been straight up with him about what he’d been considering, but pushed the urge aside. He saw right away it was a childish thought, and could see his friend was running on fumes. The last three days must have been an incredibly stressful. “Ah… what do you mean, all sides?”
“I don’t know… my brain is on overload, but I know how hard he can be on himself. As much as I’m glad we might have a chance, I’m sorry for what he’s gone through, and for what he’s facing. Like, it wasn’t just one thing. It’s bad enough for Perry to lie about his finances and turn out to be a flake, but a girlfriend and a kid? That’s fucking brutal.”
“I see your point. Is Brent sure it’s his kid?”
“It’s what his dad says. Gerald’s a no-nonsense guy, and he hired a plane to fly him out to talk to the jerk once the police got back to them that he was safe in some little town eighty miles away. Anyway, when the woman opened the door with the little boy at her side, he took one look and knew. He told Brent—and Marlene—he was the dead spitting image of Perry. When the asshole came to the door and saw Gerald, he told him to fuck off and slammed the door in his face.”
“See what I mean? This is the guy Brent was going to marry. Imagine how he felt hearing that from his father. It’s been one thing after another, and he’s been dealing with shit since I last saw him. Not to mention, his dad didn’t really want to invest, and Brent’s mother is pissed he did. She thinks Brent should come home and get away from the douche completely, but Gerald’s loan enabled him to stick around… that would bother Brent a lot.
“Geez. That’s like saying he can’t make his own decisions.”
“Exactly, and he’s very independent as a rule—always has been—so owing his dad is bad enough, and you can bet there was no way Perry was ever going to sell his plane to pay Gerald back, and everyone knows that. And now his Dad is back home, so Brent’s all alone in a strange place—he has possession of the motel now—and that bastard is living with his baby mama. Sorry, I’m all over the place because I’m just so sad for him.” He laid his head back on his seat and stared at the ceiling, and Chase suspected he was close to tears.
“You’re making perfect sense… and I get it. You want to rescue him.”
Dawson’s head shot forward. “No, that’s not it at all!” he exclaimed with enough emphasis it startled Chase. “Brent can handle it, and he doesn’t need rescuing. He’ll hire some people and… I… I want to help him, and if I don’t force the issue, he’ll keep telling me not to come. I have about twenty-five grand left over from my education fund—I did three instead of the five years I planned for—to invest, or just to loan him if that’s what he wants, and my parents promised they would back me for any more I might need, within reason, but I’ll leave that to him.”
The way Dawson came to Brent’s defense had Chase holding back a grin. “I get it, but why did it bother you that I said ‘rescue?’
“Because that makes it sound like I want to ride in like a hero and take advantage of the situation… but that’s not what I’m doing. Yes, I love him, but I’m not expecting anything.”
“Yeah, just hoping. Like I said, he’s proud to a fault.”
Chase laid his head back on the comfy chair, absorbing all he’d heard. Without looking, he spoke. “I admire your courage, buddy, and as much as I hate the idea of losing my best friend, I’m hoping right along with you.”
He heard the man sigh. “Thank you. I knew you would support me in this. And you’re not losing me.”
Chase smiled… he really was losing his friend, though, but he would deal with that later because he was happy for the man… worried, but happy. They both stayed quiet for a long minute.
“When are you leaving?”
“I have to be at the airport at nine tomorrow evening. Flight leaves just after eleven and should take eight and a half hours.”
Chase sat up quickly. “You’re not serious! What about your job? You have to give some notice.”
“I talked to Alan this morning and it’s all good. I offered him a week, if he insisted, but he said he had a surplus of good interns, and thinks one of them can step into my job right away. He’s even going to give me a good recommendation. I know it’s fast, but I don’t want to wait.”
Chase heard the trepidation in his voice… he was determined, but the fear was real. “I understand… if you’re going to do it, why put it off?”
Dawson’s defensive expression turned into a relieved one. “Right? He needs me, whether he knows it or not.”
Chase grinned at Dawson’s repeated words, and then laughed. “Brent doesn’t stand a chance, and something tells me he won’t mind at all once you’re there.”
“Thanks for saying that. I hope you’re right.”
“I do too. He’d be a fool not to want you around. So, Alan wasn’t pissed at all?”
“No, and I must admit I was really nervous when I called, but I told him the truth and he couldn’t have been more understanding.”
“He can be pretty cool when he wants to be. What about your furniture? Your TV and—”
“Sold it all to Dave for fifteen hundred dollars… he’s happy and I’m happy.”
“Good deal for him. And your car?”
“Carter’s going to sell it for me. I ran out and got one of those used car packets from the DMV today, and I’m taking it and the car to him tomorrow. I’ll buy one there once I get my bearings.”
“Oh, shit… Carter. I almost forgot about him. He must be upset.”
“If he is, he’s hiding it well. After you and I had that conversation on the weekend, I called him Sunday night and told him I was thinking of getting in touch with Brent. He asked a lot of questions, like why, and what if, so I was really honest with my answers… about how I still had these strong feelings for him, and that was why I wasn’t able to move forward on what we had. He’s been supportive, but… I don’t know. What can I do, Chase?”
“Exactly what you did. You handled it right, and you guys weren’t too deep in yet, right?”
“If you’re talking sex, no, that never happened.”
“You were wise to hold back. It could have been a lot messier.”
“I know, and I’m thankful it turned out this way. He’s an awesome guy… he really is.”
“If he’s handling this well, then he obviously is. So what else do you have to do? What can I do?”
“Nothing really. Oh, there is something… can you keep my bike for me, and maybe send it to me once I get settled? I’m shipping some boxes to the Whitehorse post office, but I don’t want to ship my bike just yet. UPS is probably the best bet for it, but I think I’ll need to be there to accept it… I’d want to be there anyway.”
“Whatever. We’ll figure it out when the time comes. What about packing? You need help?”
“Nah, I got all day tomorrow, and all I’m packing in boxes is my personal items, like my bedding, books, and sports stuff, which is already done, and the kitchen stuff. I’m storing the boxes in the garage—Dave agreed I could—and my Dad is picking them up next week with his SUV. I have to make sure it all will fit in one trip, so it’s good I don’t have to worry about my bike.”
“Okay, well, I can drive you to the airport at least.”
“Already arranged for the airport limo to pick me up, and a car rental when I get to Whitehorse.”
Chase stared at him open-mouthed. “And you just decided at three in the morning? Dude! You’ve accomplished a lot.”
Dawson laughed. “I know. I’m going on adrenalin.”
“And it shows. You look exhausted, and you hardly touched your beer.”
“Not feeling it, tonight. I haven’t been sleeping well since our talk, and just so you know, I did want to confide in you before today but I was too on edge, you know?”
“I know. Make sure you get some decent sleep, okay? You want to look your best when you see Brent, right?”
“That’s for sure. Oh crap, I need a haircut… I’ll have to fit that in tomorrow.”
Chase snorted. “Your hair looks good. You don’t need one and you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard.”
“Uh huh. So take that off your list.”
“I will. Listen… I really am sorry I didn’t tell you about this sooner, Chase.”
Chase gave Dawson a warm smile. “Hey, you had a lot to figure out, buddy… so no worries, okay? Seriously, I totally understand. So, Whitehorse, eh? What’s that like? I don’t know much about the Yukon.”
Dawson, after searching his face, became more animated again. “I didn’t either but I googled it, and it sounds appealing to me. Its population is only about thirty thousand, but tourism is huge there, and they have weather like us right now. It ranges from thirty degrees in summer to minus thirty in winter, so it can get damn cold.”
“Not so bad, I guess.”
“It’ll be a change for sure, but I like the outdoors, and I’ve never minded winter before.”
“Is the hotel right in Whitehorse?”
“Not quite, but it’s right on the edge of the power grid. It’s a motel, and it’s about fifteen minutes outside of the city proper, close to a hamlet called Ibex Valley, which has about four hundred and fifty people. Supposed to have an incredible view of the river and mountains behind it, although most of the windows apparently face the highway, and Brent wants to change that.”
Dawson’s excitement told Chase he had totally bought in, and as much as that scared him, he admired him for taking the chance.
“It’s right on the Alaska Highway, so it’s easily accessible.”
“Sounds awesome… you said it’s rundown? Can’t be that bad if it’s busy.”
“Brent did say it’s structurally sound, and there are sixteen decent-sized, double rooms to rent out, but everything’s out-of-date, from the curtains to the carpets to the bedding, and every single bathroom needs gutting. All the windows and doors are inefficient, and the heating system is propane so the leaks waste a lot of money. It has a separate cabin for the living quarters, and he says it is even worse… like it’s been caught in a time warp.”
“So Brent did talk about it in detail then.”
“Yeah, just what I told you now. Oh, and both buildings are a cedar Pan-abode log system… do you know what that is?”
“Yeah, they’re like a kit, right? Those flat-faced logs that interlock?”
“Yeah, that’s them. Our neighbors had one that was beautiful.”
“I like them too… they’re cool.”
“That part is good, but Brent painted a not so appealing picture, and I think that was to discourage me, but, there was something else in his voice.” Dawson bit at his lip and looked down at his hands. “I’m pretty sure he wanted to say something else, but… it’s so like him to hold back, and so like him not to ask for help. All those years and he never told me he loved me, and I never told him until it was too late. We were both too damn scared, and I’m not letting that happen again. ” His voice had softened so much Chase had to strain to hear him.
Resolute eyes turned back to him, and Chase swallowed down all his doubts and fears… his friend needed him. “You’re doing the right thing, Dawson.”
“Do you really think so?”
“I do. Nothing ventured….”
“Yup, now let’s get your kitchen stuff packed up, and those boxes moved out to the garage. Have you eaten?”
“Nah, I wasn’t hungry.”
“Well, you’re going to eat, no argument. How about a combo dinner from China Palace.”
“Oh, that would hit the spot.”
“Okay, I’ll order it. I’d take you out for a farewell dinner, but you look exhausted.”
“I am. I’m starting to feel it. Thanks, Chase.”
“No, I mean thank you for everything. Outside of Brent, I’ve never had a better friend, seriously.” He stood up, and so did Chase. “Can I have a hug?”
It hit him like a ton of bricks, how little time they had left. He stepped into the man’s arms and held on. “Outside of Hank, I’ve never had a better friend either.” He had to wipe away tears when the hug ended. So did Dawson.
Here's another double chapter as promised. Did anyone see this little detour coming? Thanks to the readers for your incredible engagement, and thanks to my editor, Timothy M., for his valuable assistance. If you are enjoying the journey please take advantage of the new recommendation feature on the front story/chapter page of Endings. New readers make me happy. Cheers!