The rest of his week was busy, including a family evening with Cindy and his dad, which surprisingly, had included Marshall. Although nothing was declared, he’d left her place that night with no doubts they were much more than friends, and that made him happy. Marshall was a good guy… and his dad wholeheartedly agreed.
For himself, though, Chase had made little headway in sorting where his life was headed, but he woke up Saturday morning feeling different. Entertaining the idea of going out—and maybe even putting himself out there as a single man—was at the forefront of his brain. It wasn’t the first time he’d considered it, but, as yet, had not followed through. Wiping the sleep from his eyes, he no longer needed to convince himself he was ready. Hmm…maybe he’d sorted some stuff after all.
Sitting up, he stretched. He’d seen Carter twice in the previous couple of days at work and they’d chatted briefly on Friday, but as charming as the guy was, he didn’t feel any real attraction. Okay, that wasn’t exactly true. He could be attracted to him if he let himself, but that avenue didn’t seem like the right one to take, partly because of Dawson. Carter’s invitation to dinner, as ‘friends,’ had been tempting, but Chase gently declined, citing other plans as the reason. As an afterthought, he’d asked for a raincheck, and was rewarded with a dazzling smile from the man.
It was a copout, but the truth was, he didn’t want anything complicated, and saw the fact Carter was Dawson’s ex, however defined, as an impediment. It was possible he would change his mind… the man did keep popping into his head, but for now it didn’t feel quite right. The dust hadn’t even settled over Dawson’s exit from his life. No, Chase needed to be cautious about anything he did.
He also recognized his dependency on Hank during their years together, as pointed out by Dr. Chorney and reinforced by his own new-found sense of self. He was his own man now, and didn’t want or need to jump into something for the sake of convenience.
He certainly did not want to repeat the past. He wanted to love again—and find what he used to have with Hank—but all in due time. For now he was just interested in having fun. That didn’t necessarily mean hopping into bed with anyone right away, but a little dancing and socializing might do him some good. If he met someone in the process, so be it.
Could he go back to “Endings” again? He had his answer before he stood up. He’d made mistakes, big ones, but he’d progressed enough he no longer felt shame. Regrets? Yes, absolutely, but he had no qualms about returning to the place where his life had shattered into pieces.
Avoiding the bar would feed a weakness he had no interest in giving in to. It had great music, on the loud side according to Hank, but he liked that about the place. You didn’t just hear the music, you felt it, and there were also powerful fans over the large dancefloor, something he appreciated when he got into a marathon groove. The fact was, despite that one night, he’d always liked “Endings”… it was a perfectly fine place to leave the past behind… and to begin anew.
He’d just finished getting a haircut and was walking to his car when his phone buzzed.
“Hank? Hi, what’s up?”
“Nothing much… what about you? Where are you?”
“Where am I?” The question had Chase staring at his phone in disbelief. Why would Hank care? He finally put it back to his ear. “Um, I’m outside “Color Me Crazy,” and I’m heading to my car. Why?”
“Just wondering. You get a haircut?”
“Yeah, I was long overdue.”
“I am too. Did Darnell cut it?”
“No, it was spur of the moment. He wasn’t in this afternoon, and I didn’t want to wait.” Chase wondered at the small talk, but decided Hank would get to the point eventually. “Some new girl did it.”
“I see. So, you got plans?”
“Oh, okay… I’ll let you go then.”
Chase heard the sudden flat tone in his voice, and was pretty sure his ex was suppressing some disappointment. “Hey, I don’t have plans right this minute. I’m going dancing later, that’s all. I thought it was time to break up with Dad… he’s getting too clingy,” he said jokingly. Hank laughed a little too sharply, again arousing Chase’s curiosity.
“At least you have a dad to hang out with.”
The words landed with a thud, killing the humor, but Chase knew Hank was likely biting his tongue at that moment.
“Sorry… that was a stupid thing to say.”
Chase stared at his phone for a different reason this time. He wasn’t in the same state of mind he was a few short months ago, over the loss of his mom, but it really was an insensitive thing for the man to say, and a sure sign he was struggling with something. “Don’t worry about it. What’s going on, Hank? Something you want to talk about?”
Chase heard the loud exhalation of air before he answered. “Yeah, but I don’t want to impose. I thought… damn, I don’t know what I was thinking. Sorry—I shouldn’t have bothered you.”
Jesus. The man was rattled. “Hank! Just say it, okay.”
“Yeah… okay.” There was a pause, and Chase waited it out. “I talked to my mom today.”
Chase, fishing for his car keys, almost dropped his phone, but managed to keep his voice reasonably level. “Ah, now I get it. You… you actually talked to her, as in had a conversation?”
“Yeah, we talked.”
“Hey, that’s great. Did she call you?”
“No, I called her.”
“You did? Wow… what brought that on?”
“My therapist’s been pushing me to do it, and… and I saved Mom’s number from her last attempt to reach out to me, that time you tried to push me to talk to her. I did consider it, you know—your advice—but I just couldn’t do it.”
Chase was so surprised, he did drop his keys. “You have a therapist? When the fuck did that happen?”
“Shocker, eh?” Hank said with a hint of humor in his voice. “It, ah…it happened right after the day Charles told us about Christine’s ring, and….”
“And we had that conversation?”
“Exactly. I called Dr. Chorney on the Monday after—”
“He’s your therapist?! That’s not cool, Hank! You should have—”
“No, no, he’s not my therapist. I called to see if he could recommend someone because I know you trust him, and he did. She’s… she’s great… a little pushy, but that’s what I need. Actually, she’s a lot pushy whenever I dig my heels in.”
Chase calmed down, feeling foolish for reacting the way he did. He didn’t know why it bothered him when he thought Hank was seeing his therapist, but it did. “Sorry. I guess it would have been okay if you did see Dr. Chorney.”
“No, you’re right, it wouldn’t have been cool at all, and I never would have.”
“So… you actually have a therapist… and you talked to your mom. That’s great!” Chase let enthusiasm enter his voice because he was sensing Hank was having doubts, at least about the mom part. “Isn’t it?”
“I guess so,” he answered after a few seconds hesitation.
“So it went well then?”
“It was weird, but yeah, I guess. She’s a stranger to me, Chase, but once I heard her voice….”
“You remembered everything about her.”
“How… yeah, exactly. I can even remember her perfume, and her favorite earrings… well, what they used to be.”
“She’s your mom, Hank, that’s never changed, and she’s tried so many times to repair things with you.”
“I know… I know. My head’s all messed up right now. I didn’t think I missed her, but, while we were talking, I kind of did.”
Chase had to hold back one of those ‘strike at any time’ sobs. What he wouldn’t give to talk to his mother one more time. “Are you going to talk again?”
“Tonight? Wow, that’s soon.”
“It is, but if I don’t do it now, I might chicken out. I’m meeting her for coffee at eight, after she finishes work. She manages a boutique in Markham Square.”
“That’s great. I think that’s great.”
“I figured you would. You always said I should hear her out.”
“Moms are worth… well, yeah, I did say that, but for your sake more than hers.”
“I know that… okay, I better go. I’ll, ah… I’ll let you know how it went. Have fun tonight, Chase, and thanks for listening to me.”
“Wait… Hank? Did you call because you wanted me to go with you?”
His question was met with silence.
“Yeah, I’m here. I did, but only if you weren’t busy. I don’t want you to change your plans. Enjoy your date… I can do this on my own. I’ve calmed down about it,” he said, but not very convincingly.
“There’s no date. It was just going to be me venturing out—doing some dancing and maybe having a drink or two.”
“Oh, I thought you had plans with someone.”
“No, that hasn’t happened yet.”
“Yes, I’ll go with you if that’s what you want.”
“I could use some moral support, and you were always great at that, so yeah, I would really appreciate it. Unless it’s too weird for you?”
“It’s not. Who knows? Maybe we can be friends after all.”
Again, his words were met with silence, before Hank finally responded. “I’d like that.”
“Me too. So, where are we meeting her?”
“At our old coffee shop,” Hank answered, a little more life in his voice. “She doesn’t live far from there either.”
“Well, that’s easy. Do you want me to meet you at the coffee shop, or would you rather I met you at your apartment, and walk from there?
“Ah, we can walk, I guess.”
“All right. Seven-thirty?”
“That would be great. I might be in the park with Rex.”
“Trying to stay calm?”
“You know me well.”
Chase pondered those words after he hung up. Did he know Hank as well as he once thought he did? Hank had changed, but so had he. Time would tell whether they could rebuild a piece of what they’d had. Pulling on the door handle of his car, he remembered his keys were still at his feet. As he retrieved them, it sunk in that Hank had called him over all his other friends.
“You’ll never guess who called me just now.”
“Hey, good guess. How are you, Dawson?”
“Busy… real busy, but happier than I’ve ever been.”
“That’s awesome. Did I call at a bad time?”
“Hell no! I was planning on calling you anyway. So, Hank called, and…?”
“And, he wants me to go with him to meet his mother for the first time since he was sixteen… no seventeen, I think.”
“Seventeen? You told me they were estranged, but I didn’t know it was that long.”
“Yeah, she actually left when he was still fourteen, and he refused to go with her… stayed with his dad until he passed away.”
“Yeah, he drank himself to death and Hank blames his mom, so this is a really big deal. Where are you?”
“At the house. I’ve been slowly working on it, and it’s looking good. We hired another employee, so that gives us more time. Oh, and our new heating and cooling system is in… cost almost nine grand for everything, but it was worth the money for what we will save in costs.”
“Dude, I’m impressed, and you sound really happy.”
“That’s because I am. Brent and I, we’re so in sync. It’s like we know what each other’s thinking.”
“Because you were best friends for so long?”
“Yeah, but more than that, we both realize how close we came to not having this. When Brent finally meets you, he’s going to give you a great big kiss.”
“Me? For what?”
“You know what. You pushed me when I needed it. So, what are you going to do about Hank?”
“Do? Oh, you mean am I going?”
“I told him yes.”
“Yes!” Dawson exclaimed, and Chase laughed.
“Why are you so excited?”
“It’s obvious, isn’t it? Hank is finally figuring it out.”
“He’s remembering how great you are, and probably realizing what he lost.”
“Dad just told me the same thing.”
“Your dad and I, we’re smart. So, what do you think?”
“I think it’s not that big a deal, but I do think he might want to be friends again.”
“Okay, well, be prepared. The ball just might end up in your court, so don’t screw it up.”
“Screw what up? We’ll either be friends or we won’t.”
An exasperated sigh let him know what Dawson was thinking, but Chase couldn’t go there.
“Have you dated anyone yet?”
“No… actually, Carter asked me out as friends, but I wasn’t feeling it.”
“Because you still love Hank, right?”
“Yeah,” he admitted, “but it’s getting easier. I was going to go to “Endings” tonight, but then he called, and he sounded like….”
“Sounded like what?”
“I don’t know… a little lost… and I think he was scared. Like I said, this is a big deal.”
“Yes, it is.”
Chase caught the meaning of his words, and he smiled at the man’s persistence. “I meant for Hank.”
“Uh huh. Chase?”
“Yeah, I’m here.”
“Put the work in, okay?”
“You never give up, do you?”
“Nope, I learned that lesson from you, and you shouldn’t either, because you know what?”
“Hank isn’t stupid. He may have done some stupid things, and yeah, so did you, but it was only a matter of time before he came to his senses.”
“We’re not you and Brent, you know.”
“Says who? Look, all I’m saying is keep an open mind. I’ll bet Hank has something to say, and you, my friend, had better fucking listen.”
Chase snorted in amusement. “I didn’t know I was going to get a lecture when I called.”
“Yes, you did. It’s why you called, and we both know it.”
“Whatever,” he responded drily, but he couldn’t deny there might be a kernel of truth in Dawson’s words.
“Whatever back. You know I’m right. When are you guys doing this?”
“In a couple of hours.”
“Okay, so go make yourself pretty to remind him what he’s missing.”
Chase laughed. “We’re just meeting the woman at a coffee shop.”
“So! How’s your hair?”
“Just got it cut earlier.”
“Oh really, that’s interesting.”
Chase could practically hear the smirk through the phone. “I got it cut before he called, smartass.”
“Whatever. And wear something nice—a button down shirt, maybe a white one with rolled up cuffs—it’ll look good with your tan… and your dark jeans, and don’t forget a belt.”
Chase turned and stared at the black jeans, black belt, and white shirt he had laid out on the bed.
“Yes, sir,” he said glibly.
“Atta boy. And no scruff… you’ve got to show off that jawline of yours.”
“Lord, you’re bossy.” He smiled, though, as he stroked his clean-shaven face.
“Gotta put the effort in, man.”
“All right, all right… I’ll take your advice, but I’m not getting any hopes up. I’m not even sure what I want anymore.”
“Yeah, okay… sure you don’t,” Dawson said with sarcasm. “Keep me posted, okay?”
“I will. Oh, why were you going to call me?”
“Nothing big… we took in a stray dog. The vet said he’s about ten months old. He’s in rough shape, but she said he should be fine in a couple of months. It’s great to have a dog again, and he’s a handsome fella.”
“Cool! Rex came from a northern community.”
“I know, and he looks quite a bit like Rex.”
“Awesome… send me pictures!”
“I will… I want him to gain a couple of pounds first, though, and get the rest of his mats out before I send them.”
“Okay, I get it. Have you given him a name yet?”
“Well… what is it?”
“Chaser… but we call him Chase.”
He was a few minutes early, but Hank was already standing on the front steps of his building, without Rex, when he arrived. The man was either eager, or nervous as hell. He looked good, though… as handsome as Chase had ever seen him. As he parked, he continued checking him out in his rear view mirror, noticing they were dressed almost identically, other than the fact Hank’s jeans were a dark indigo and his belt was brown. Damn, he filled out a pair of jeans well.
When he opened his door, Hank was already at the back of his vehicle, a nervous expression quite evident. “Thanks for doing this, Chase.”
“No problem,” he responded as he stepped closer to his ex and smiled. “Relax, okay? You’re looking a little freaked.”
Chase watch Hank’s Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed before taking his hands out of his pockets. It was extremely awkward when he put out his hand in greeting, but Chase reacted by stepping past and drawing his ex into a hug. “I got your back,” he said as he breathed in the man. He heard Hank’s deep intake of breath before he slowly pulled back, and wondered if he’d just done the same.
“I know. It’s just… I still have a lot of anger towards her.”
“A lot? Even after talking to her?”
“Not as much as I used to, but it’s still there. I keep remembering stuff, and….”
“Are you worried about what you might say?”
Hank nodded, resembling a guilty little boy to Chase, and his heart went out to him. “Come on, let’s start walking so you can burn off some of those nerves.”
“We’ll be early, though,” he protested, and Chase heard the reluctance in his voice. Was he thinking of backing out?
“I don’t know if this is a good idea, Chase. Maybe I need more therapy first.”
“Maybe… or maybe it will help you with future therapy.”
“I know a lot about getting past stuff, and therapy gives us tools, but we have to do the work ourselves. Are we going or not?”
“Hank, come on! This afternoon you thought this was the right thing. You’re allowed to change your mind, but don’t let fear be the reason. You understand what I’m saying?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I do.”
“All right, then let’s do this.”
“Okay, but can you come up for a minute? There’s something I want to show you.”
“Sure, we got time.” He smiled, and Hank returned it.
Chase followed his ex through the apartment door, and had to lean down to let Rex have his way with him before the dog settled down.
“What do you think of this?” Hank had opened his laptop, situated on the dining room table they’d purchased together at an estate sale, and Chase walked over to stand behind him. On the screen was a ring, shown in great detail, and obviously designed by Hank. It incorporated the diamonds from his mother’s ring, and it was perfect. He’d set one of the square cuts on an angle, with three of the smaller baguettes trailing from one point, like a kite tail. In fact, the whole thing looked like a kite, set in black titanium. Chase’s breath hitched, and a lump formed in his throat.
“What do you think?” Hank asked again, an anxious edge to his voice.
“It’s beautiful,” he answered, and his voice broke on the last word.
“Does it bring anything to mind?”
Chase nodded. “The last time you and I took Mom out… she wanted to fly kites on the beach.”
“It was a great day, wasn’t it?”
Chase wiped at his eyes. “It was… although pushing that wheelchair through the sand was a challenge.”
Hank chuckled softly, his eyes full of emotion. “It was fun, though, and we figured out carrying it was easier on the way back. I hadn’t heard Christine laugh like that in a long time.”
Chase smiled, but didn’t… couldn’t say anything. He was caught up in the memories of that day, and how happy his mother had been. She’d never left the house again, after that outing.
“I did a few other designs, but they looked too much like engagement rings. This one has the look of a wedding band because of the width, but I think it works as a conventional ring too.”
“I would wear this.”
“Absolutely. It’s not just beautiful… it has meaning.”
“Good… so would I, if you agree we should?”
Chase’s head rose from the screen to see Hank was beaming. “Jeez, Hank, are you proposing?” he asked in a teasing tone.
Hank smiled, but Chase saw the sadness behind it, and it made him regret his ill-timed jest. “No… been there. Don’t worry… I won’t be doing any more asking.”
“Sorry… I wasn’t thinking.”
“Don’t apologize.” Hank pasted on a bigger smile. “So, it might be kind of unusual for a man’s ring, but I think Christine would have loved it.”
Chase straightened up. “She would have… it’s a perfect way to do her gift justice.”
“Then, we get them done?”
“Absolutely. Can you send the design to Dad? He’ll want to be a part of this.”
“For sure, but I want to take the lead with a jeweler if you don’t mind? I want to make sure it gets done exactly right.”
“Of course I don’t mind. You and Dad work it out. Ah, should we get going?”
“Yeah… yeah… okay… let’s get this over with.”
“Just kidding. I want to do this. Again, thanks for coming with me.”
“Thanks for putting so much thought into Mom’s ring.”
Hank didn’t say anything, but his face again shone with pleasure.
Chase sighed to himself. It was such a good face.
They set out at a brisk pace, but there was no need to hurry. He noticed Hank’s hands had found their way back into his pockets. It was another example of how things had changed. There was a time when it would have been automatic to hold hands whenever they walked side by side.
“You look good, Chase.” The man darted a glance his way while they waited for the traffic light to change.
“Thanks… so do you.”
“I’ve lost some weight.”
“Yeah, but it suits you… I hear you’re biking a lot.”
“Every day, if I can.”
“You look heavier, though. In a good way,” he added with a tilted grin. “You look older… I noticed that the last couple of times I saw you."
“Older, huh?” Chase returned the grin.
“Well, you’ve filled out, and I guess that’s made you look more… mature.”
“Thanks, I think.”
“It’s a compliment.”
Conversation lulled for the next few blocks, but it wasn’t uncomfortable.
Chase cleared his throat. “Thanks for what you said to Stacey and the guys.”
“What did I say?”
“That I wasn’t a cheater… that you’d thought about it and you were wrong to think it was anything more than what you’d seen… something along those lines."
“Yeah… well… I overreacted. I heard you guys had a great time.”
“We did. It was nice to spend time with old friends.”
“I’m glad, Chase. I never wanted them to exclude you, and I should have made that clear a lot sooner than I did.”
Chase considered that statement. It’s something that happens when a relationship comes to an end, he knew that, and no one was to blame. Knowing Hank, he might have opened up a little, even ranted and raved, but he wouldn’t have trashed him. What he’d thought Chase had done was enough to have his friends pull away without Hank influencing them, and while his ex had jumped to conclusions, he’d eventually figured it out on his own. And, just like that, some of the tension he’d been carrying for months, dissipated.
“I believe you, Hank, and again, thank you for finally believing me, and for telling the guys that.” He looked sideways as they walked, but Hank didn’t meet his eyes.
The man did, however, say, “You’re welcome.”
They were ten minutes early. Approaching the counter, Hank asked Chase what he wanted.
“I think I’ll have a medium.”
“Black, no sugar?”
Chase nodded, and looked around as a young girl took their order. Julio, the manager and sometimes barista they both knew well, came out from the back and greeted him enthusiastically, clasping his hands as he spoke. “It’s good to see you, Chase. I was so worried about you.”
“Me? Why would you be worried about me?”
“I haven’t seen you in here in months, not since that night, so I didn’t know if—”
“What night?” Chase asked, completely confused.
“The Friday night you were here for hours. Hank and I talked about it, and he told me….” Julio suddenly stopped talking, and there was an awkward silence.
“Told you what?”
“Oh, well, just that you were doing okay, but that you guys weren’t a couple anymore. Has… has that changed?”
Chase turned his attention to Hank, and took in his guilty expression as he paid for their coffee. What the hell?
“You were here that night? I don’t remember seeing you.”
“That’s because I wasn’t working the coffee bar… I was here catching up on office work, right up until one of my staff got you a cab at closing time. You were in that corner booth, facing the wall, and you weren’t paying attention to anyone. I did knock on the washroom door once and ask if you were okay,” he whispered. “You were in there a long time, and my new barista was worried you might be doing drugs.” He rolled his eyes. “I told him that was ridiculous and to treat you with respect.”
“Sorry about that. It… it was a bad night, and I had too much to drink.”
“I could tell… and I could tell you were upset. Sorry, Chase, I should have sat down with you, but I didn’t want to intrude. It wasn’t that busy for a Friday night, so I told my people to let you sit there as long as you wanted, and make sure you left in a cab or an Uber.”
Hank was standing beside him again, holding their coffees. He had a pained look on his face when Chase turned his head towards him. “Thanks for looking out for me, Julio. I’ll make sure that never happens again.”
“Don’t be silly… it was no problem at all. It’s just good to see you again… both of you.”
“You too.” Chase didn’t take the offered coffee from Hank. Turning away from both men, he made his way over to one of the booths lining the wall of large windows.
He remembered very little of that time, but after hearing from Julio, bits came back to him, and he pictured himself sitting on the floor of the washroom after heaving over the toilet. And he did vaguely remember someone knocking on the door, but he hadn’t known who it was. He also recalled staring at his phone, wanting to call Hank, but being too afraid to. And he remembered crying as he laid on a cold floor.
“Here’s your coffee. You all right?” Hank asked after he took a seat across from him.
“When did you talk to Julio?”
“You heard me.”
Hank’s expression turned from wary to sheepish. “A few weeks ago, I ran into him at “Little Caesar’s.”
“A few weeks ago? So you knew all that time I hadn’t lied, and you didn’t tell me? You knew the last time I picked up Rex, when I asked if you saw me as a liar! What the fuck, Hank!” he whispered fiercely. “We were talking about this exact subject and you deliberately held back that information.”
“You didn’t finally believe me on your own, did you? Julio proved it to you.”
“What’s it matter, Chase? You got through to me that night at your dad’s, but yeah, what Julio told me proved it beyond any doubt… and I did tell our friends I’d been wrong.”
“Oh, big deal! So that makes it okay to be cruel? Did you tell them why you knew that?”
“No, why would I? It’s been months since we split up—”
“And for months they all thought the worst of me, but that isn’t the point.”
“What’s the point, then?”
“The point is you should have told me you knew you were wrong. You should have told me about your conversation with Julio as soon as you had it.”
“You’re right, and I’m sorry, Chase. I certainly didn’t mean to be cruel.”
“Well, you were. Sorry? Sorry? Do you know how awful it was for me… that you thought I would have slept with that guy… and yeah, I know what I did was bad, but that… that wasn’t fair, Hank.”
“It was hard to admit I got it so wrong. Remember when I said I was an idiot? Well, that was how I felt… but what was done was done, so—”
“What was done was done?! Seriously?You should have apologized… and you should have fucking believed me in the first place. I know what I did, but you didn’t give me any chance to… to… fuck!”
“I’m sorry, Chase… I really am. I fucked up, in so many ways, but can we not do this now?”
“Yeah sure,” he answered sarcastically. “I get it. You don’t want to talk—it’s the same refrain I’ve heard since that fucking night.”
“No, I want to talk, but I think that’s my mom who just pulled in.”
“Oh… right.” Chase took a couple of deep breaths, trying to quell his anger. It wasn’t easy.
“It’s okay… I don’t blame you if you don’t want to stay, and I get why you’re mad… maybe we both should leave. I’ll tell my mom—”
“You’ll tell her nothing!” he ordered harshly enough Hank’s jaw dropped. “You’re right that our breakup was a long time ago, and there’s nothing to talk about.” He was still fuming, but now was not the time.
“That’s not what I—”
“Hank, just forget it.”
“But I don’t—”
“Stop! I said we’re fine. Is that her?” Chase watched an attractive woman get out of her car and look their way.
“Oh… yeah, that’s her.”
“She looks nervous. Maybe you should go out and greet her?”
Hank’s focus switched to him, and he looked fearful. “You think I should?”
“O… kay.” Hank stood up, glancing at her again before his gaze returned to Chase. “Can we talk later about… about what just happened? I feel terrible for not—”
“Let it go, Hank.” He sighed, trying but unable to give the man a smile. “Go get your mom.”
Oh boy! Hank seems to have stepped in it again. Thanks for reading. I hope you liked this chapter. Please share your thoughts if you can, and maybe leave a recommendation on the front story page for other readers. It would be appreciated. Thanks, as always, to my editor, Timothy M., for his hard work. Cheers!