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  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
    Headstall
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Exes and Ohs - 11. Chapter 11 Missing Pieces

Self-flagellation.

                                                                                                                                                                  ***

 

 

The coolness of evening was creeping in, making the west-facing balcony a more comfortable place to be. A glass of red wine sat on the table beside him, missing only a few sips. Drake couldn’t remember the drive home… couldn’t even recall if traffic was light or heavy or somewhere in between.

But, he sure could remember his last words to Jimmy. Did he regret them? Yes… no… maybe… it depended on the minute. All of a sudden they’d been there, impossible to keep from leaving his mouth. As the distance between them increased, it had hit him that it might be his last… his only chance to say them… and it was the truth.

We can still be friends, Jimmy had said. The fact was, despite Drake considering him his best friend, they were really only work friends. Today had been his first time to the man’s apartment since their disastrous fourth date. Nor had Jimmy been to his place after the fact.

So, in a week, maybe two, depending on the notice he gave, their friendship was over. If Jimmy didn’t want to see him now, Drake couldn’t see it changing in the future. No more coffee and tea biscuits in the morning, or shared lunches at their desks… nor in one of the local restaurants or cafes. No more sitting on the outside benches on breaks, enjoying the sun while they chatted easily about anything and everything… well, except them, of course.

And certainly no more weekends at his mother’s house. He thought wistfully about what it might have been like if they really had been a couple—if Richard hadn’t hovered over his head like a dark cloud. Too late now, but he should have gone alone. Yeah, his family might still be in the same place, but Jimmy wouldn’t have seen him at his worst. Maybe Drake would have been smart enough to know what the man meant to him when he got back. Who was he kidding? If not for their shared, eye-opening weekend, he probably still would have been an idiot.

Drake took another sip of wine, savoring the dry bitterness. It suited his mood, and encouraged the numbness he wanted to set in. Yes, there’d been tears, for the second time in as many days, but they had ended for the time being.

Fuck! He’d really blown it. The perfect guy had been right under his nose for a year, and he’d dropped the ball. The most maddening thing was he’d known it for a while, and that Jimmy cared for him, but fear—stupid fucking fear—had held him back. Jimmy had chipped away at his walls, but could only get so far because Drake had stuck to his preconceived notions at all costs… and now he was paying those costs.

Maybe the man was right. Maybe he would have let doubts creep in, but, sitting here all alone, it didn’t feel that way, and now he would never know. What a fool he’d been. He deserved what he got; Jimmy deserved better. The urge to call Callie was strong, but he didn’t want sympathy. He wanted punishment—he needed it—and there was no way his sister would give him that. Self-flagellation would have to do.

The sun was setting, but instead of seeing the beauty of it, he saw mockery. He’d let his own sun slip away. God, he was getting maudlin. Sighing, he downed the last of his wine and stood. One more glass—then he’d go to bed and hope for sleep.

Sliding open the balcony door, he stepped into the air conditioned coolness. His condo phone was ringing, which meant he had a visitor.

He had no right to be excited, and probably no reason, yet he was as he scrambled to pick it up. “Hello.”

“I was just about to give up. Can I come up?”

“Jimmy?” The sudden thrumming in his ears made it difficult to hear his own voice.

“Yeah, it’s me.”

Rather than attempt speech, or thought, Drake pushed seven twice to unlock the condo entry door. He heard the buzz as it released, and then hung up. Numbly, he continued on to the kitchen.

By the time he took his wine glass to the sink and rinsed it out, a soft knock sounded. His heartrate jumped and he steeled himself for whatever was to come. Was Jimmy going to tell Drake he was never returning to their workplace? He did have two weeks of vacation days owed to him. Did going there today push him farther away? Had his declaration? He was driving himself crazy while the man with the answers stood out in his hallway. Realizing his hands were damp, he wiped them on the worn jeans he didn’t remember changing into. Struggling for calmness, he took a deep breath and opened the door.

“Hey.”

“You could have led with that.”

“What?”

“What you said when you were leaving. You could have said that at the beginning.”

“Oh.”

“Oh?”

Drake stared at the man, trying to think a coherent thought. “Ah, by the time I found an opening, what was the point?”

“Isn’t love always the point?”

“Sorry, I’m not following, Jimmy. You made yourself pretty clear earlier.”

“I did, yeah. So?”

“So, why are you here?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“You’re talking to an idiot, so no, it’s not.”

“I’m giving you a chance to convince me.”

“Convince you? I thought you said—”

“Never mind what I said… what happened to you?” His hand reached towards Drake’s forehead.

Drake let cool fingers gently prod the bump he’d forgotten about. “Your apartment building door attacked me.”

“Damn! I forgot. It almost did that to Vic too. It’s been propped open now, and they promised it’ll be fixed by tomorrow. Does it hurt?”

“I don’t think… no, it’s fine, except when someone touches it.”

“Oh, my bad,” Jimmy said, but his fingers continued to explore. “Did you put some ice on it?”

“No, and can we stop talking about my head and your door?” Drake stepped back from the nearness of the man’s face. His lips were distracting. The man was distracting, period. “What’s going on here?”

“Are you going to make me stay out here?”

“Sorry… sorry. Come in. Do you want… did you drive here, or cab it?”

“Neither. I walked.”

“Walked? Why would you do that?”

“It only took forty-five minutes, and I needed to think.”

“I know that feeling. It’s all I’ve been doing since… let’s go sit... uh, do you want wine?”

“Sure.”

Drake headed for the kitchen. “Red okay?”

“Preferred. I forgot how nice this place is.”

“Looks more like a showroom than someone’s home,” Drake muttered to himself. He turned to see his guest standing in the doorway of the kitchen.

“Was it all right that I came here?”

“Yeah… I’m surprised… but yeah.”

“You look stressed.”

“What do you expect? Your words was pretty final. I know I deserved them, but they were hard to hear.” He went to hand Jimmy his wine, but froze at the perusal he was getting.

The seconds felt like minutes before Jimmy spoke. “Did you mean it?”

Drake knew what he was asking, and looked him in the eye. “I meant it. But….”

“But what?”

“Is it enough? I don’t even know if you feel—”

“I do, Drake. It’s why I needed space.”

“Do you still need it?”

“That’s up to you.”

“You mean convince you?”

“No… I was being flippant. Tell me why you’re convinced, if you really are? You just asked if it was enough.”

“I don’t want to make a mistake.”

Jimmy frowned, and Drake was quick to continue.

“I meant for your sake as much as mine. Maybe even more.”

“Okay. You said we want the same thing. What changed?”

“Do you want to go out on the balcony?” He finally handed the man his wine. The touch of their fingers made him miss holding his hand. It had been so easy for those two days.

“Wherever you want. I’m feeling tired. Sitting would be good.”

“Not surprising after that walk,” Drake said as he slid the balcony door open.

“And two nights of little sleep.”

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“For not considering your feelings Saturday night. For lashing out at you because I was jealous.”

“You were jealous?”

Drake groaned as he sat down. Jimmy followed suit, their knees touching as they faced one another in the light coming from inside. “Yes. I was definitely in the grips of the green-eyed monster. Here I was pushing you away, and yet I hated seeing you with Bindy. I was an ass.”

“You were, kind of,” Jimmy agreed, but Drake heard no chastisement in his tone. “But, I attributed it to Richard, not jealousy. His kiss freaked you out, and that backed up why you were afraid of giving us another shot.”

“I was messed up, but no… I hated seeing you with someone else.”

“A woman, you mean.”

“At that particular moment, yeah. Like I said. I was an ass.”

They sat sipping their wine, Drake afraid to feel the hope that had been lurking since he’d opened his door. This conversation was like walking a tightrope. Jimmy was giving him a chance, and he could very well fuck it up.

“So, what’s different now?”

He took another sip to stall for time. “Everything, I suppose.”

“You suppose?” Jimmy asked, a grin appearing.

“Sorry… guess I’m thinking again.” He didn’t smile, but he felt lighter. “I talked to Callie last night, and she set me straight.”

She convinced you?”

“No, it’s more like she… she’s my sister, and she knows me better than I know myself sometimes.”

Jimmy said nothing… just stared at him, wine glass in hand, and he knew whatever he said next would be important.

“She knew I was in love with you, and she may have called me an idiot a time or two.”

Again, no response.

“She asked me about believing you, and I realized something. I trust you more than I trust myself.”

“What does that mean, Drake?”

“That I’m capable of lying to myself… have been lying to myself, but you never would.”

“You’re certain of that?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because I know you. For a year, I’ve seen who you are. You’re… you, and I know who that is.”

“Are you trying to butter me up?”

“Maybe. Is it working?”

“Can’t lie… I’d have to say yes.” His lopsided grin got one in return. “So, you’re over Richard’s kiss?”

“I’ve been thinking about that.”

“Oh?” Jimmy’s eyebrows raised up, but there was a twinkle in his eye.

“Not like that. I think I get why he did it, and I don’t think it had anything to do with orientation. For sure he got carried away, but he’d been trying so hard to convince me he did love me at one time, and I think it hurt that I didn’t believe it… so, I don’t know, he went too far… it was understandable, I guess.”

“Well, I wanted to punch him when you told me.”

“Jealousy?”

“No, not that I liked the idea of it. It was for selfish reasons, I have to admit. His kiss reinforced what you already thought about him… and me, and I was hoping for the opposite.”

“Yeah, I actually figured that out, and the truth is, it pissed me off.”

“No kidding,” Jimmy said, but there was no rancor.

“You were right, though. I was seeing Richard when I looked at you. I understand now, at least better than I did, what happened with him, but if I’m completely honest, I’m still confused about you. I believe you, I really do, when you say you’re gay, but…?”

“Why did a gay man suddenly start sleeping with a woman?”

“I know you were hurt… by Travis especially.”

“Yeah, I was, but it goes deeper than that, Drake. I didn’t want to be gay anymore. I was sick to death of feeling used and betrayed… like I didn’t matter. I was letting men control me, and I felt empty. I was attracting all the wrong guys, and I had no clue why.”

“I’m sorry—”

“Thanks, but I have to get this out. It’s important for you to hear, okay?”

Drake nodded.

“My memories of my first girlfriend, before I figured out who I was, were good ones. If only she’d been a guy—I really thought the world of her, and we got along so well—but, she wasn’t, so that was that,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Anyway, I wanted something like that again. It was like this perfect storm for Vic and me, with how unhappy we were with our lives, and… it happened one night, after a few drinks. I’m not saying we didn’t know what we were doing, because we did.” He stopped to take a quick sip of wine.

“And each time I slept with her, I hoped that time the switch would flip, you know? The one that would make me straight. But it never did, and when I met you, I didn’t feel the same way anymore. Vic and I were already on our way back to being friends—it didn’t come close to working—and you were like this lightning bolt that made me want to be me again. I didn’t want to not be gay anymore.”

“Wow.”

“I know. I sound pretty dramatic, don’t I? But it’s the truth.”

“No, that’s not what I meant. I said ‘wow’ because we should have had this conversation a year ago.”

“I wanted to—”

“But I wouldn’t listen.”

“No.”

“So you were never in love with Victoria.” Drake wasn’t asking a question. He was finally understanding.

“I wanted to be, but no. She and I have talked about this a lot… actually, it’s more like we laugh about it now. I know it might sound like I used her… when I really thought about what I’d been doing, I felt like I had, but she never saw it that way. She has no regrets because she says it helped her get back on track.

“She’s an amazing person, Drake, and outside of you, she’s my best friend.”

Drake couldn’t help but flush with pleasure at Jimmy saying he was his best friend, but he didn’t interrupt.

“She knew exactly what was going on with me—and what we were really about. She’s my Callie… she knows me better than I do, and she knew all along that switch would never flip.”

“I didn’t think you were in love with her. I shouldn’t have said that. It’s just that you’ve made things clearer for me.”

“No, that’s okay. I get it. There are pieces you’ve been missing.”

“Yes, but even without those pieces, I still had faith in you. I know you and Vic are just friends because you told me that. And yes, I had some doubts when I met her earlier—hell, I even wondered if you two lived together when she said she wasn’t company. Only for a few seconds, though, and then I thought about what kind of person you are. I knew you would never lie to me. I swear, Jimmy.”

“Hey, I believe you. Tonight, when I mentioned Vic, and how the door had almost hit her too when she pulled on it, you didn’t have that look on your face.”

“What look?”

“Okay, maybe it’s more of a reaction, where you look away, or you change the subject, or you frown for a second. It’s why I stopped saying her name when we had lunch, or sat outside on the benches.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. It was a double-edged sword, because it meant you still cared, and that gave me the tiniest bit of hope.”

“Why did you wait so long, Jimmy?”

“What do you mean?”

“You told me at the pool you’d been waiting, although you tried to take it back.” He allowed a grin to appear briefly. “What was it about me?”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, seriously. You’re this amazingly hot man with a huge heart, a good job… and did I mention you were hot?” Drake smiled fully this time, and so did Jimmy. “You could have any guy you wanted.”

“You just described yourself, and I only want one guy.”

“Careful. You’re talking in the present tense.”

“I meant to. You know, you’re the only one I’ve dated who didn’t want to jump into bed first thing. I still remember what you said… if you’re looking to get laid, don’t waste your time… that’s what you said when I asked you out.”

“I remember. I sure changed my tune by the third date, though.”

“Hey, your virtue was still intact. Frotting isn’t getting laid.”

“It sure felt like it.”

“Yeah, it did. Best not-quite-sex I’ve ever had.”

Drake snorted, and then laughed. “We made a hell of a mess.”

“Yeah, we did, but the best thing was you let me hold you for hours afterward. You didn’t jump up right after, saying you had to get home. That was pretty special to me.”

“It was to me too. To be honest, I hated going home that night, and the next morning I was ready to be all in for the first time since Richard.”

“And then I told you about Vic on our next date.”

“And I bolted. I’m sorry, Jimmy. I wish I could do it over again… sit and listen and try to get past it.”

“You weren’t ready, and I didn’t understand how deep the damage was.”

“And when I finally got there, you said it wouldn’t work.”

“I was hurting, Drake. I’m sorry.”

“I don’t want you to be sorry—I just want to know what’s happening here. Are you convinced yet?”

“I was convinced back in my hallway, Drake. Those three words… they floored me. I’ve been waiting a long time to hear them.”

“Well, that’s great, but I’m still waiting.”

“You know how I feel,” Jimmy teased.

“I think so, but—”

“I love you, Drake. Is that what you wanted to hear?”

“God in heaven, yes!” he exclaimed, but his next question came out soft and low. “Do you really think it’s enough?”

“Do you?”

“I do.”

“Then that’s all I needed to hear. I do too.”

“Now what?” Drake asked with a huge grin.

“I guess getting laid is out of the question?”

“Not necessarily.”

 

Twenty minutes later, they were lying side by side on Drake’s bed, panting in semi-unison.

“Oh, God. We didn’t get any farther than last time.”

Drake chuckled, still out of breath. “Was that a complaint?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Good, cause that was amazing.”

“It was… even better than the first time, and that’s saying something. I just want you to know, despite the evidence to the contrary, I can last longer… a lot longer.”

Drake began to laugh so hard the bed shook. He raised their joined hands and kissed Jimmy’s knuckles. “So can I,” he managed to get out through the laughter. “Next time, maybe we should just shoot for getting all our clothes off before we start.”

“Deal,” Jimmy answered, his own laughter slowly petering out. “Is it too soon for next time?”

Drake snorted. “Are you trying to prove something?”

“Maybe.”

“No need, and besides, you have an interview to rest up for.”

“Are you kicking me out?”

“Not a chance, Jimmy. I was just going to suggest you sleep here, and I’ll take you home before I go to work, so you can get ready.”

“Or… I could go into work with you?”

Drake sat partway up. “What are you saying?”

“That I’m not going to any interview. I’m staying right where I am.”

“Are you sure that’s the best thing for you?”

“I thought you’d be pleased.”

“I am, but only if it’s the best thing for your career.”

“It’s the best thing for what’s important to me, and that’s my time with you. Career? I’m never going to be one of those guys. I promise you our relationship will be my priority. That’s one thing I learned from my dad.”

“I like the sound of that. Me too. Okay, if you’re sure… now I can be happy.” Drake sighed in contentment.

“We need a towel.”

“How about a shower instead, and you can finally take your shoes and shorts off?”

Jimmy started laughing again. “Good idea, and you can pull that tee shirt the rest of the way over your head, and get rid of those jeans. You look great in those, by the way.”

“Yeah?”

“Heck yeah.”

“Thanks.” Drake said, flushing with pleasure. “Hey, we’ll finally get to see each other completely naked, and who knows… maybe we can go for next time when we’re done.”

Drake laughed as Jimmy leapt up, almost falling before he kicked his running shoes and shorts off with a double flourish.

“Your turn,” he said, standing in glorious nakedness, the light from the hallway shining on his perfection.

Drake, swallowing at the sight, was quick to join him, and his shirt and jeans joined Jimmy’s stuff across the room. He shivered when Jimmy stepped closer and wrapped his arms around him. Maybe the air conditioning was set too low… or maybe the man would always make him shiver with his touch. He was determined to find out, because he was never going to let him go.

“I love you, Drake,” was murmured into his ear.

“I love you too, James Dean Calloway. Thank you for being so patient with me.”

“You’re worth it… I never had any doubts about that. We’re wasting time… let’s go get clean so we can get dirty again.”

“I’m right with you… I’ll just grab some… oh, mentioning your father earlier reminds me—my dad texted me after I got home from your place. He wanted to know when we can do the golf weekend.”

“I’m game if you are.”

“Sure. I’d like to.”

“And we’d be there as a real couple this time.”

“I like golf, but that’s what I was really thinking. And no more pretending you’re Dean.”

Jimmy laughed and then groaned. “I really hate that guy.”

Drake smirked. “I know—you sucked at hiding it.”

“Yeah, well, he had what I wanted, but not anymore. Okay, so I’ll talk to my dad tomorrow. Now, come on,” he insisted, tugging on Drake’s hand.

“So much for being patient.”

“I’ve been waiting a long time, and we have a lot to make up for. There’s no backing out now, right?”

“Promise. I have no intention of ever backing out. So, you didn’t answer me. Are you staying the night?”

“Every night you want me.”

Drake, following him into the bathroom, had to wait for the sudden lump in his throat to subside. “Hey, this means we don’t have to go through that dreaded breakup.”

“That’s exactly what this means, and it also means we didn’t lie… not really.” A sly grin slid across his face as his arms wrapped around Drake once more. “Poor Preston is stuck with me for the rest of his life.”

Drake laughed—he had a feeling he’d be doing a lot more of it with Jimmy firmly in his life—and his heart felt like it had grown to twice its normal size. “Fuck Preston… you are all mine.”

The man chuckled just before he kissed him. When he drew back, his eyes were shining as he locked them with Drake's and murmured, “It’s about time, Drake—it’s about damn time.”

"I couldn't agree more, Jimmy." He sighed as their lips met again.

 

 

*

Thank you to Timothy M., Robin to my Batman.

 

And thank you to all the wonderful readers who were so engaged in this little story from the very beginning. In case you didn't guess, this is the final chapter of the initial story ... but there is still a lengthy epilogue to come. So, one more Exes and Ohs Monday to go. :)  Please leave a comment if you can, and let me know what you thought about this one. Was it what you'd hoped for? Cheers... Gary.... 

Copyright © 2018 Headstall; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments



3 minutes ago, Bucket1 said:

:) Awesome

Thank you, B. :D  I'm happy you think so. It's been a fun journey... one more to go... Cheers, my friend... Gary....

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After the last chapter, I was having trouble seeing how Drake & Jimmy would progress from their stalemate. All hope seemed lost. There didn’t seem to be any way for them to get out of their mutual stagnation.

 

But you get them together in a manner that made sense for the two of them. It didn’t seem forced or unnatural. You managed to pull the rabbit out of the hat!  ;–)

 

 

So what’s next for ‘Drimmy’? A wedding? Kids?  ;–)

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6 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

After the last chapter, I was having trouble seeing how Drake & Jimmy would progress from their stalemate. All hope seemed lost. There didn’t seem to be any way for them to get out of their mutual stagnation.

 

But you get them together in a manner that made sense for the two of them. It didn’t seem forced or unnatural. You managed to pull the rabbit out of the hat!  ;–)

 

 

So what’s next for ‘Drimmy’? A wedding? Kids?  ;–)

Aww... thank you, buddy! This is exactly what I wanted to hear... that it all made sense. The Jimmy I know wouldn't have waited. I know many of you thought the same... that it would take supreme effort to get these two on the same page, if at all, but this is the rabbit I saw. :D  Thank you so much for this, drought! What's next... you'll have to read the epilogue. ;)  Cheers... see you Monday... Gary....

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8 minutes ago, Sweetlion said:

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

:D  I take you are pleased. Thank you, Sweet Leo! Don't forget there's an epilogue coming. I'm working on it now... I really appreciate the support, my friend... cheers... Gary....

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9 minutes ago, Parker Owens said:

Oh, I love how this ended. You wrote an awesome final chapter. Wonderful that Jimmy walked all that way, because he had to. Thank you for this story. 

Yay! Thank you, Parker! I really pleased you liked it. Yeah, I saw Jimmy as a guy who wouldn't wait... he heard the words he needed to hear, and any risks are ones he's willing to take. Thanks for your support, dear friend... remember there is an epilogue that should be ready for Monday... cheers... Gary....

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10 minutes ago, Wesley8890 said:

No you can't end it! My mondays won't be exciting anymore! What will I have to look forward to then?!?! No!!!

Maybe there could be updates from Wesley’s Journal?  ;–)

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11 minutes ago, Wesley8890 said:

No you can't end it! My mondays won't be exciting anymore! What will I have to look forward to then?!?! No!!! Ooh maybe more cards then hurry up and end this story!!!

LOL... you are so fickle, Wes. :P  Thank you so much for your support, week after week, and for sticking with me. I had a lot of fun with this story and the readers. One more Exes and Ohs Monday... see you then, buddy... cheers... Gary....

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4 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

Maybe there could be updates from Wesley’s Journal?  ;–)

I'm working on the final chapter of Wesley&Seamus. It's title is what you suggested. About the Hyphen

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17 minutes ago, Sweetlion said:

They finally talked! Drake understood that other people have their ghosts and fears too, and that they have to trust each other. It all the lost time, i don't know if they will survive having 2 apartments for long, it seems that they do need each other close, Drake loved sleeping together even before they were real, his parents house.

Yes they did. They had the talk they should have had a year ago, and all the missing pieces were filled in. They know where each is coming from now, and Drake has stopped looked inward and back.  As for what's ahead... :X   See you Monday... geez... I better get it finished in time. :) 

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19 minutes ago, Sweetlion said:

Drimmy? JaKe (good noun for a future kid also :gikkle:)

 

 

WEDDING!!!! Imagine Preston's face 😁

Hey, I like that! J-ake... catchy. :P  Wedding? What wedding... :huh: :) 

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20 minutes ago, Drew Espinosa said:

Woohoo!!! :D 

I love making my Drewbear happy. :hug:  :kiss:  :glomp:   Thanks for all the support, and the great comments, buddy... cheers... Gary....

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12 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

Maybe there could be updates from Wesley’s Journal?  ;–)

Oh good... that takes the pressure off me, right? :) 

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11 minutes ago, jaysalmn said:

Great chapter! I was gonna suggest an epilogue, so happy to see there will be one. Hope karma bites assholes Richard and Preston where it hurts!

Thanks, jaysalmn! I'm so pleased you liked this one. Yeah, I figured out there had to be an epilogue... and Drake and Jimmy couldn't care less about those two. ;)  Your support has been much appreciated, buddy... see you Monday... cheers... Gary....

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