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Thread: Brad's Search

  1. #1
    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Brad's Search

    Hey guys!

    There are several pretty awesome stories here, and I feel lucky to have come across them. I figured I would try my hand at writing my own and seeing where the adventure takes me.

    My story is loosely based on a screenplay I wrote while going to college. Without giving too many details away out the gate, there is not a big focus on sex or erotica, but I feel growing the characters and having them explore the choices given to them is a higher priority. I hope you'll agree.

    Plus, lately I seem to get in a good writing mood when I've had a few glasses of wine, so this just gives me another excuse!

    Enjoy!

    ---

    Part 1

    "Wow. Look at her legs!"

    "They are pretty impressive."

    "Why don’t you go ask her out?"

    "Come on guys; you know how shy I am."

    There we were again for the thousandth or so time. Gary, Harry, and I usually found ourselves spending time with each other at Cooters, the local straight guy hangout. Well, mostly. Even though Gary and Harry are two of the friendliest and most accepting straight guys I have ever met, they are still straight, and while they do enjoy occasionally going to the variety of gay bars we have here in Seattle, we seem to hang out at Cooters more often than not. I don't seem to mind it, because every time we go, Gary and I inevitably try to set Harry up with one of the busty waitresses or one of the few single female customers. It never seems to work. We should vary our strategy.

    "If you keep using your shyness as an excuse, you're never going to get laid. Dying lonely and a virgin is no way to go, Harry."

    "Maybe once I've had one more beer."

    "It's always just one more beer."

    "How's work going, Brad?" Harry is apparently through with our attempts to set him up for the night.

    "It's work. The pay is OK, but I know I could do better."

    "Why don't you go looking for another job?"

    "I would, but my boss and coworkers are actually pretty good. Plus, I can't really take the time off to interview for other jobs, with Stan running into some financial difficulty."

    Our waitress comes by and refills our drinks. She asks Harry if he wants one more beer, and Harry shakes his head to indicate that he is OK for the night. I see his cheeks turn a bright shade of red as the waitress walks away.

    "What's wrong with Stan? I thought he had enough money to finish his degree."

    "He did, until his parents found out he was living in sin up in Seattle with me. They just pulled all of his tuition money. He's supposed to finish in two more semesters, but it looks like that won't be happening any time soon. We're still trying to figure something out."

    "See, that's why you need to just break up with him. He depends on you way too much. He needs to learn how to depend on himself."

    "But I've helped him out this far. As much as I agree with you, I can't pull out now."

    "Well just pretend you're one of us straight guys who really doesn't want to get his girlfriend pregnant. You've got to pull out, dude!"

    "I really can't do something like that to him."

    "You’re way too nice, Brad."

    We are nearly done, and it is getting pretty late, anyway. We swig down the rest of our drinks, pay our waitress, and leave Cooters, sure to return soon. Gary drives us home, since he usually offers to be our designated driver whenever there is alcohol involved.

    I walk into my apartment with all the lights off. Stan is usually at home on a weekday working on assignments or studying, but lately he hasn't been home after his classes until really late at night. I do sometimes wonder where he is, but I try not to be jealous or untrusting. He hasn't come home bloody or with clothes torn, so I guess I shouldn't worry, right?

    He has been out late for three nights in a row, and he always gets home long after I've been asleep. I can't wait up for him, and I also can't ignore the growing sexual frustration inside me, either. I peel off all my clothes and take a quick shower to relax. I dry myself off and lie on top of my bedsheets.

    My hands start rubbing my chest and head lower and lower toward my torso. I start rubbing one out, getting closer and closer to climax, but I cannot stop thinking about Stan and how frustrated I am with his whole situation. Why can't his parents accept him for who he is? How is he going to pay for school? Is he going to drop out even with two semesters left?

    I look down at myself. I've gone limp. Great. I decide to call it a night, crawl under the sheets, and go to sleep.
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  2. #2
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Great beginning,AG. I like the threesome of two to one and the fact that the two aren't afraid to check out the gay establishments. Even straight guys can be shy...and with the excuse of "one more beer" gives Harry an out but does no damage to his masculinity. I wonder why Stan doesn't join and make it a foursome at Cooters, but then again, he has a lot on his plate it seems. That reminds me, you seem to know Seattle well....What is that story? Look forward to Part 2.

    Craiger

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    Re: Brad's Search

    I admired you when you shared your pictures with us and now I am admiring you still more as you tell this fine story. A great start, you have us hooked - have another glass or two of wine and continue to enthrall us.



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    Re: Brad's Search

    Thanks Craiger and Autolycus! I do have the basic storyline mapped out, but I am enjoying writing it all out in narrative form. It gives me a chance to reinvent the characters a bit and change a few things here and there. Those are some good suggestions - I'll try to be a bit more open-minded and flexible in seeing where this story goes.

    I've got one more bottle of wine in the fridge and I hope to bang out Part 2 tomorrow night!
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

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    Re: Brad's Search

    No wine tonight, guys. Lemon drops instead! (Interesting backstory about how lemon drops tie in to the old screenplay, but I'll spare you the details. PM if you're interested. )

    Part 2

    I'm back at Cooters with Gary and Harry. Instead of the usual busty blonde, the most incredibly attractive man is our server. I check my wallet to make sure I have enough cash for an extra-large tip, and decide to pull out an old receipt and write my number on it. Wait, where is Stan? Why am I trying to get in my incredibly hot server's pants? I don't seem to care.

    * BANG *

    I shot awake. How pathetic. I can't even get any sex in my dreams.

    Stan isn't next to me in bed, either. Perhaps he's still out.

    "God damn it!"

    Perhaps not.

    "Stan? Is that you?"

    "I stubbed by fuckin' toe!"

    I get up and head to the living room. I turn on a lamp and shine some light on an ironically dim situation. He is sitting on the couch, foot in hand. He appears to be breathing, which is sadly all I'm really concerned with at the moment.

    "Where the hell have you been all night?!"

    "Calm down. I just had a couple of drinks at R Place with some friends."

    "And you're coming back at this time of the morning?"

    "I would have been home sooner if we lived in Capitol Hill."

    I cross my arms. "Smells like you've been smoking some pot, too."

    "So what? Cops don't care."

    "Stan, how are you going to pay for college? Your parents just took away the only financial support you really had. You have to get your own job. I can't make enough for the both of us."

    "Give me a break, Brad; that only happened a week ago."

    I could feel my blood beginning to boil.

    "One week should be enough time for you to just start looking for jobs. But what have you done for the past four nights? Go out drinking and smoking pot with friends. Meanwhile, I'm working my ass off putting a roof over both of our heads."

    "All right, all right. I'll go out tomorrow after classes and try to find something. Can we just get to bed already?"

    "I'll go to bed, but as long as you're smelling like that, you'll be sleeping on the couch."

    I didn't even wait for his response. I turned around and walked back to the bedroom. Looks like I won't get any sex in my dreams or real life tonight.

    * * * * *

    Today was a pretty uneventful day at work. I work for this technology company testing software and writing documentation. It's OK work, but I would much rather have a job where I'm up on my feet and moving around. Gary, Harry, and I sometimes jog or play racquetball together to stay active, but we haven't been able to get to the gym lately. Anyway, I finished all of my work early, so I was able to leave a few hours earlier than I normally do. Flex time is great!

    As I leave the building, I pull out my phone and call Gary.

    "Hey Brad, what's going on?"

    "I just got off work early. Any chance you and Harry are up for some racquetball? I need to release my frustration on some blue balls, and I'm not talking about mine. Those are frustrated enough as it is."

    I almost went deaf from the guffaw on the other end.

    "Sure thing! Where do you want to meet?"

    "I still have to head home to get my gym clothes. How about we just meet at the gym in about an hour?"

    "That's cool with me. I'll let Harry know, and we'll see you there!"

    I hang up and hop on the monorail. I usually take the #3 or 4 bus, but today I feel like riding above the streets.

    I unlock the door and head inside. I notice Stan's cell phone on the coffee table, which is odd because he's not normally home this early. I call out for him, take a look around, and notice he is, in fact, not home at all. He must have forgotten his phone on his way to class this morning. I head to the bedroom to change into my gym clothes, when I hear the phone ring. I walk back to the coffee table and pick up the phone. It reads "Sophie Baxter", who I recognize as one of his classmates he used to visit to study together. I decide to answer.

    "Hey Sophie? It's Brad."

    "Oh hey, Brad. Is Stan around?"

    "No, he's not here. He must have left his phone at home."

    "Oh. I was just calling because I'm a little concerned. We haven't seen him for the past three days."

    "Wait, you mean he wasn't in class today?"

    "No. He's just disappeared. Do you have any idea where he is? We're really worried about him."

    There goes my blood beginning to boil again. I could heat the entire city of Seattle. I tried to remain calm, though. Sophie isn't the one I should be angry with.

    "I'm sorry, Sophie. I have no idea where Stan is. He's been coming home really late at night this whole week. He told me he was going to look for a job after class today, but if he wasn't even in class, who knows what he's up to now."

    "Do you think it has something to do with his parents?"

    "Most definitely. I guess he's told you what he's told me. Truth is, I'm really not sure what to do about it or where to go from here."

    "I'm sure you'll figure it out, Brad. Hopefully he shows up to class on Monday, but if not, if you see him, just tell him we're concerned about him and to call us and tell us what's going on."

    "I'll be sure to give him the message, Sophie. Thanks for calling."

    "You're welcome, Brad. Have a good weekend."

    "You too!"

    * * * * *

    "That mother fucker!" Gary exclaimed as he hurled a blue rubber ball toward the far end of the court. When it flew toward me, I smacked it as hard as I could, aiming at an imaginary Stan on the wall.

    "I told you he was nothing but trouble. I've been telling you that since the beginning." Harry slammed the ball as hard as he could.

    "Why didn't you guys say anything before?"

    "Oh, come on. You know it's not our job to interfere with your love life." Gary pounded the ball once more. "If you've found someone who makes you happy, who are we to break that apart?"

    "I'd much rather have not wasted the time and effort. But why couldn't I sense it before?"

    The ball struck me hard. I wasn't even looking.

    Gary offered one of his many pieces of wisdom. "Reality is a lot like that blue ball. Sometimes you're not aware of it until it smacks you right in the head."

    "Thanks." I don't think I could've been any more sarcastic if I tried. "You guys hungry? I skipped lunch and my stomach is growling louder than a sleazy porn star in a free porn video."

    * * * * *

    Gary, Harry, and I stopped at the corner Starbucks for a quick bite to eat since it was nearly dinnertime.

    "You really need to drop Stan. I mean, going out and partying is acceptable for getting over something as serious as your parents basically telling you that you're living in sin, but Stan has to grow his own pair, find himself a job, and get himself through college. He can't depend on you for everything."

    "Especially after he lied to you about going to class."

    "You know, guys, the more and more I think about it, the more I agree with you."

    "Then all is right with the universe."

    We all laugh together. I have never met anyone as great, no, perfect, as Gary and Harry. The three of us all lean on each other from time to time. We know each other better than anyone else. And we're always there for each other. You truly could not ask for better friends. They simply don't exist. This is as good as they get.

    "We definitely need to do something tomorrow night. You game?"

    "Gina and I have a special date night tonight, but I should be free tomorrow."

    "You know I'm always free on the weekend. Never had a girl come home with me yet; I don't see how tomorrow will be any different."

    "Oh, come on, Harry; ask out that barista. She looks like she could get her hands on more than that espresso machine."

    Harry and I both roll our eyes.

    "You going to talk to Stan tonight?"

    "Not likely. He'll probably be getting in late again, stoned and drunk."

    "Well, promise us you'll talk to him tomorrow them. Set him straight. Then tell us how it went tomorrow?"

    "I'll try." I let out a very heavy sigh. "I just wish it didn't have to be this hard."

    Gary grabs my shoulder with his right hand. "It never should be. When you find the right match, things will just flow. You'll know when it happens."

    "Thanks guys. I don't know what I would do without you."

    "You'd wind up like Harry; single and a virgin for your entire life."

    Harry smiles. Harry can be particularly vulnerable to all sorts of criticism, but he always knows where Gary and I come from. We all know where each other comes from. While we know our own situation is not ideal, we still find a way to bring humor to it. Because really, you can't change the way the wind blows, but you can adjust your sails. In other words, you may not have much control over your situation, but you can change how you react to it.

    Gary pulls me into a tight hug, then lets go. Harry grips me tightly against his body and then releases as well. I say goodbye to Gary and Harry and head home, unsure of where tonight will go, but sure of what I want the rest of the future to look like.
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  6. #6
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    I don't envy Brad. Even if things aren't right in paradise it's awfully hard to have one of those talks. Hopefully without any undue anger. On the other hand, maybe Brad should try to find out what is really happening with Stan and make his judgments afterwards.
    There are always two sides to a story and this situation, particularly after being rejected by his parents, may have a reasonable explanation. But, we will find out soon enough..... Thanks, AG. And, I would like to hear this "Lemon drop" bit......

    Craiger

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    Re: Brad's Search

    Another very interesting episode - thanks for sharing it with us.



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    Re: Brad's Search

    Hey all - sorry for kind of falling off the radar for a bit. Life gets busy sometimes - however I got back into the writing and wrote a lot more than I expected, so I'm posting the next part as 2 parts. Enjoy!

    Part 3

    As soon as I got home, I was glued to my TV.

    The President's re-election is old news by this point. I, and a bunch of other Washingtonians, impatiently await some kind of announcement on the certification of Referendum 74 - the voter referendum that decides whether same-sex couples can marry in the state of Washington.

    Just then, my phone rings. It's Gary. I pick up.

    "Brad! Quick! Turn to channel 5."

    I do as I am told. Sure enough, the channel 5 news is on with a news story about Referendum 74. I could see the news anchor try hard to contain her excitement.

    "The Governor and Secretary of State of Washington certified the election results for Referendum 74 earlier today. This means that all couples can request a marriage license tomorrow and perform their ceremonies as early as this Sunday."

    I am in disbelief. "Gary, did we just win?"

    "Yes, we did! I was pretty sure we were going to, but nothing was official until the certification happened today."

    "I'm just glad things finally went in our favor. I was almost certain it was going to be another uphill battle that we would not win."

    "Oh ye of little faith..."

    I hear my door unlock. "Hey Gary, Stan's just getting home. I'll see you later tonight."

    We exchange goodbyes and I hang up. Stan walks into the living room. "What's on the news?"

    "The governor just certified the results on 74, so gay couples will be able to get married soon."

    "So when are we going to?"

    I chuckle at his question. He doesn't chuckle back. "Are you serious?"

    "Well, yes, I am. I've actually been thinking about it for the past few months while this whole thing has been up for a vote."

    "And this is the first I hear about it?"

    "Brad, you know I've had a lot going on lately."

    "You're right, Stan. You do have a lot going on. But I wouldn't want a husband of mine dealing with stress the way you do. A husband shouldn't just run away and come home late at night."

    "You wouldn't even give me a chance?"

    "Not with the way things are now. I'm sorry Stan; I need more stability than this."

    "I can't believe you're saying this. After all we've been though."

    "I'm just trying to be honest, Stan."

    "Well, honesty is not what I need right now."

    Stan spun around and walks toward the door.

    "When will you be back?"

    Stan doesn't answer. Instead, he just opens the door, storms out, and slams it shut.

    I'm pretty sure I knew the answer myself; Stan was never coming back.

    I don't have any time to care. Gary, Harry, and I have a date with a bowling ball.

    * * * * *

    There's nothing quite as satisfying as hurtling a heavy bowling ball toward 10 very unlucky pins.

    Gary, Harry, and I meet each other at the bowling alley and begin our first game. Harry goes first, as usual; he says that the first player is the luckiest one. I haven't noticed a difference so far. As Harry gets ready to bowl, Gary asks me about Stan. "So what did you guys talk about after we got off the phone?"

    "He asked what was on the news, and I told him how the results of 74 were certified."

    Harry gets ready to throw his second shot.

    "Stan said he wanted to marry me."

    Harry, just about to release the ball, gasps at what I just say and inadvertently launches the ball into the next lane, knocking down all of the pins. The player in the group next to us thanks us for the strike. Gary marks a strike into the computer's scoring system for Harry. We figure anyone who accidentally gets a strike in an adjacent lane deserves it. Harry just chalks it up to luck since he's the first player.

    In any event, Harry sits next to me as Gary gets ready for his turn. "What brought that on all of a sudden? Stan's asking you to marry him?"

    "He didn't really ask me to marry him. He just mentioned that he was thinking about it."

    Gary came back from knocking down seven pins on his first go and waits for the all to return. "Please tell me you said 'no'."

    "Of course I said 'no'. I told him I needed much more stability, and a husband of mine shouldn't be staying out and coming home late like he has been."

    Gary bowls and knocks down the remaining three pins. "I think you just spared yourself a lot of misery just now."

    I got up and ready for my turn. "Cheesy puns don't give you a higher score, Gary."

    "Not in bowling, anyway."

    "Touché."

    I stared down the far end of the lane. It was hard not to imagine Stan's head on each of the ten pins. As much as I like to think of myself as a compassionate and caring person, I'm still human and react and get angry at times - especially when someone close to me, like Stan, completely violates my trust of him. I hurl the ball toward the imaginary Stans and knock all ten down.

    Harry stands up and gets ready earlier than he was expecting. "Damn, that's the hardest I've ever seen you throw a ball."

    "It helps when you imagine someone else at the other end of the lane."

    "I'd hate to see you at a shooting range."

    We continue rotating and knocking more pins down, and notice I'm scoring much better than usual - but, as Gary would say, only in bowling. At the end, our scores were 142 for Harry, 135 for Gary, and 214 for me.

    "Blame it on Stan," was all I had to say.

    We play one more game, and I win yet again. I promise to the guys that this is highly unusual, and that my luck would rub off sooner or later. We decide to head to one of my favorite gay bars for a few drinks, and we all hop into Gary's car and are on our way.
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

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    Re: Brad's Search

    Part 4

    It's more crowded than usual at the bar, probably due to lots of people celebrating that all couples are now allowed to marry in Washington. I guess you can count us among them.

    We find a table near a window, and I offer to buy the first round on account of my domination at the bowling alley. I grab the three beers and return to the table, where Gary and Harry are already scoping out a potential match for me.

    "Don't even bother, guys. I just broke up with Stan. I need some time to myself."

    Gary takes a swig of his beer. "You mean you weren't by yourself enough when Stan was staying out late at night?"

    Harry nods his head in agreement. "That's right. Plus, there's no time like the present. If we find you another guy, he will make forgetting Stan a lot easier."

    "I don't know, guys. I've had relationship after relationship fail. Maybe I just need to be single and figure some things out on my own for a while. You know, lay off guys for the time being."

    "As opposed to laying on them..."

    Just then, all three of us spot, not a guy, but this beautiful, slender woman wearing a black cocktail dress. She apparently spotted us, too, because she stats walking toward our table.

    Gary leans his head in, as if he's about to share the nuclear arming codes. "Harry, that is one smoking lady!"

    "You're right; she's almost too smoking!"

    The smoking woman, who is luckily not literally on fire, makes it to our table. "I consider myself a pretty smart girl, but what I cannot figure out is: Why are three straight guys hanging out at a gay bar?"

    Gary, suave as always, smiles. "Probably for the same reason you are - supporting our gay friends and family who just gained the right to marry."

    She raises her cocktail up. "I'll drink to that!"

    We join her in toasting to this historic occasion. "Thanks, guys, and congratulations." And with that, she walks away.

    Gary grabs Harry's arms a little tightly. "You need to go talk to that girl."

    "I don't know, Gary. She seems kind of intimidating. Plus I think she is a bit out of my league."

    "Are you sure?"

    "Yeah, I'm way too nervous to talk to her. Just not tonight. There's probably someone else here that she has her eyes on."

    "At a gay bar?"

    Gary and Harry's eyes both light up at the same time, and they slowly turn to face me.

    "What are you guys concocting in your heterosexual brains?"

    Gary, always the voice of reason, starts grilling me. "How many so-called failed relationships have you had?"

    Harry chuckled. "You'd need about two or three more hands to count them all."

    "Shut up, Harry. I don't know; five or six?"

    "And they have all been with other men, yes?"

    "Yes..."

    Gary and Harry both made insidiously-evil grins.

    "What the hell is going on, here?"

    Gary was the first to chime in. "Well, Brad, you just said yourself that you've had way too many failed relationships..."

    "...And all of those failed relationships were with other guys..."

    "So maybe this means it's time to start dating women."

    I glance at Gary, then Harry, and back to Gary. They seem completely serious, but I have to ask just to make sure. "You're not kidding, are you?"

    "It'll just be a little fun- almost like an experiment. Just go on a few dates and get to know her. What could possibly be the harm in that?"

    "Perhaps the fact that I'm not at all romantically or sexually interested in her at all?"

    "Just give it a shot, Brad. Gary and I are pretty open minded; you should try to be, too. Who knows where it will end up?"

    "You should talk, Harry. You won't even go out with her and you're straight."

    "I'll make you a deal; you ask her out tonight, and I'll ask out someone else the next time we go out for drinks. Deal?"

    "Deal."

    I down the rest of my beer and take in a big gasp of air. "I can't believe you guys are making me do this." All they could do is put on the cheesiest grins I've ever seen. Wisconsinites would be put to shame.

    I stand up and walk toward the beautiful, slender woman in the black cocktail dress. My heart is racing, just like it did when I approached a guy for the first time and asked him out. He turned me down; I ironically hope for the same reaction tonight.

    She notices me as I get closer. "Well, hello there!"

    "Hi; are you with anyone tonight?"

    "I am! These are my friends, Shawn, Jeremy, and Linda." She points all of them out, and I shake hands with them. "Shawn and Jeremy are going to the courthouse at midnight tonight to get their license."

    "Congratulations, guys! I'm so happy that all of us now have the chance to get married."

    "Of course! And my name is Kelly."

    "It's great to meet you, Kelly. My name is Brad."

    "Well, Brad, it's great to have you as a supporter. How about I return the favor? Would you like to meet me sometime for dinner, perhaps?"

    I am caught off guard and don't say anything.

    Kelly chimes back in. "Is that a yes, or did you just go into a coma?"

    "Uh, sure, that would be great!"

    I pull out my phone and enter her number as she says it to me.

    "Don't wait too long to call, now."

    "I won't. It was nice to meet all of you."
    "Nice to meet you too, Brad."

    I put away my phone and turn around to try to get as far away as I can. I run into one of the other bar patrons and apologize. I make my way back to the table as quickly as possible without running into anyone else.

    Gary is the first to congratulate me. "That was beautiful, Brad! You looked just as nervous as a middle-schooler asking someone to the homecoming dance for the first time."

    "So did you ask her out?"

    "No; she asked me out."

    "Wow. Well, I guess that counts, too."

    "I guess that means it's your turn next time, Harry."

    "Guess so."

    "You better not break your promise, Harry, or I'll kick your ass in every bowling game after tonight."

    Gary and Harry finish their beers and we stick around for another hour basking in the celebratory ambiance. When the alcohol has all worn off, we pile into Gary's car and he drives us home.

    * * * * *

    I unlock my door and head inside. I sent a text to Kelly: It was great meeting you tonight. Are you free this weekend? Dinner would be great!

    I walk into my bedroom and start taking my clothes off for a quick shower before I go to bed. My phone buzzes, and it's a text back from Kelly: This weekend sounds great. How about Saturday around 7? I text back: Saturday around 7 works for me. Let me know where you have in mind, and I'll see you then!

    I hop into the shower and wash off my bowling victory scent. The shower is quite relaxing; I don't have to worry about when, or if, Stan will be coming home. It's not really any of my concern anymore. And that feels great. Maybe I am ready for another relationship. And like Harry said, maybe I should be more open-minded. My relationships with other guys haven't been so successful. Maybe getting to know a woman will give me a different perspective.

    I finish up my shower and dry myself off. I crawl into bed, trying to quiet my mind from all the buzz and excitement that happened today, and eventually fall asleep.
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  10. #10
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    I don't think I will go bowling with Brad...or Harry or Gary. I may do like Harry and toss the ball in the other lane, but end up in the gutter. No strike for me. I tried bowling once and I think the Grandmother's League, with their walkers, had higher scores than me.

    Now on to the troubling news of Brad vs Stan. My curiosity is really piqued as to what Stan has been doing all this time. I think Brad should at least try to find out what is happening and give Stan a chance to explain. I realize there is a frustration between the two, but they need to communicate with each other before dissolving what seems to have been a long term relationship. Gary and Harry are truly looking out for their best bud, but they don't know what the other side of the story is either. I have a feeling that Stan has a greater part in the story than what we have seen so far. Just a feeling......lol

    Good to have an update, AG.

    Craiger

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    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Part 5

    This December is turning out much different than I expected. I thought that I would finally have the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with a special someone. I know I, as well as Gary and Harry, could see my relationship with Stan falling apart a long time ago, but it all seemed to happen so abruptly. Despite all that, though, I am about to go into very uncharted territory. Needless to say, I'm nervous as hell about my date with Kelly tomorrow night. It will definitely be interesting to see how that plays out.

    But being alone for the holidays yet again just makes me feel so lonely. I decide to pull out some old home videos.

    * * * * *

    There I was, back in my childhood home. It was my birthday party, and I had just turned 5 years old. I was surrounded by a few of the friends I made in kindergarten at the time. My mother was there, as always, but this was one of the few times my father was home. He was enlisted in the Air Force and was always stationed elsewhere during most of my childhood.

    Everyone was gathered around the table. Atop the table was the biggest birthday cake ever - isn't everything bigger when you're little? And I hadn't realized this until now, but the candlelight put a really nice glow on my face. That didn't last long as I blew out the candles and everyone erupted in cheers.

    Then came the gifts. A few were pretty obvious - action figures and GI Joes. I guess people were trying to condition me to enter into the armed forces; too bad that didn't happen. I was much more interested in things that lit up and made noise: flashlights, radios, phones. Could you imagine if I came across a vibrator at that young age?

    Then it came time for musical chairs. My mother put on Michael Jackson's Thriller - leave it to me to have a birthday in October. We played for a few rounds before I made the demand to keep the music playing and then we kids just had fun dancing. I noticed my buddy Freddie dancing by himself; I felt bad for him and asked if he wanted to dance with me. The other parents there gave each other inquisitive looks, but didn't say anything; instead, another girl (whom I grew to dislike as I got older) said, very righteously, "Boys don't dance with other boys!"

    I still cringe when I remember that. And like so many other times, I used to let people determine how I should live my life; that all changed the day I decided to break up with Stan. I had never paid attention to my own needs and always put others before me, but now it's different. It sounds almost selfish, but I really need to take care of myself before I can take care of anyone else.

    * * * * *

    I realize I hadn't called Mom in quite a few weeks. I pick up the phone and dial her number.

    "Brad, it's so good to hear from you! I was just thinking about you."

    "Wow, what a coincidence. I just watched the old video of my 5th birthday party. I feel so bad for waiting so long to call you."

    "Oh, you hush. You're a busy boy up there in Seattle, and I can do just fine here by myself. But, I wanted to ask you how the weather is up there."

    "The usual for December; constantly chilly and drizzly. But otherwise, we're keeping warm. How about yourself?"

    "We got a hell of a lot of snow here in Denver. Skiers all over the place. But I wanted to come up there to visit you. It's been too long since I visited Seattle; I can feel the Emerald City calling my name."

    "That would be great! What time were you thinking of coming?"

    "How does next weekend sound? Are you busy?"

    "I think next weekend will be OK."

    "Great! That would be so wonderful, Brad. I hear Mount Rainier is so beautiful in the winter. I've always wanted to stay at one of those lodges nearby."

    "I can definitely arrange that. I love admiring the outdoors, too, and yes, it is very beautiful in the wintertime. I'm going into work later tonight so I'll reserve the airline tickets and accommodations and forward everything to your email."

    "Oh, Brad, that makes me so happy. It will be so nice to be surrounded by some family around the holidays."

    "You still think about Dad?"

    "Of course, Brad, how could I not? Especially during this time of year. I know it's been five years since, but he was such a selfless and sacrificing man. I think about him every day; even though he wasn't around much, he was such a big part of our lives - more than you can imagine. I still miss him."

    I can feel myself tearing up.

    "I miss him too, Mom."

    There are a few seconds of silence.

    "Oh, before I forget - How are you and Stan doing?"

    "We're not doing. We broke up yesterday."

    "Oh, Brad, I'm so sorry to hear that. What happened?"

    I explain to her how his parents pulled their money and how he began coming home late at night, or not at all. "So he just left yesterday, and I knew I wouldn't see him again."

    "That is disappointing to hear; I'm sure he's a nice gentleman, and I'm sorry I didn't get to meet him, but I'm sure you will find someone you are much happier with."

    "Thanks Mom; I know I will."

    "Well if I'm going to be running away next weekend, I better start packing."

    "Mom, your flight won't be until a week from now."

    "You know me, Brad; I want to make sure I don't forget anything."

    "Yes; just make sure you actually put the suitcase in the trunk this time."

    "Oh, don't remind me. Of course I wouldn't realize I had forgotten the suitcase until I parked at the airport - and in a really nice parking spot, at that! I about had a heart attack rushing back home and then back to the airport."

    "But you still caught the plane!"

    "You can thank the short skirt I was wearing that day. That's the fastest I've ever gotten through TSA."

    We both chuckled.

    "Alright, Mom, I'll let you get to your early packing. Watch your email tonight for the tickets and reservations."

    "OK sweetie. It was so great talking with you. Love you."

    "I love you, too."

    * * * * *

    As promised, I go online at work to book the accommodations at the lodge and reserve my mother's airline tickets. I forward all of the information to Mom. Her flight arrives Friday afternoon, and we will leave from the airport and head straight to the lodge. But that is a week away. I have a much bigger time ahead of me tomorrow at my date with Kelly.
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  12. #12
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Funny how, when we reach back into the recesses of our minds, we recognize certain patterns that began in childhood and continue into adulthood. They seem so clear, yet so hidden. So many times we worry as to what others think and arrange our lives to please them. Brad obviously has done that, but now, aware of this situation is trying another path. His date with Kelly will be extremely interesting. Although she sounds like an understanding person, will she be able to supply the needs that Brad is searching for? Look forward to finding out those answers, AstareGod. Good to have your back writing.

    Craiger

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    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Part 6

    My team at work ran across an unexpected issue that hit some of our customers last night, so I didn't even get home until well past midnight. I woke up to very bright sunlight and the sound of my phone buzzing. I check my phone; I had just gotten a text from Kelly: I have the perfect place for dinner tonight. Meet me at First and Union. I let out the biggest yawn ever, then text back: Sounds exciting! I'll see you there.

    I glance out the window; Seattle has gladly decided to call off the rain and give us a beautiful, sunny day - too beautiful to pass up a good morning jog - and I may as well since I'm awake. I pull on my running gear and head out the door. It's still a bit chilly, but the warm sun feels great.

    I live just south of Lake Union, so Volunteer Park is very close by. That's my favorite place to jog. I turn onto Prospect and then head into the park to run a few laps. As I'm finishing my last lap, a flying Frisbee, and the man running to catch it, grab my attention. The man leaps into the air, catches the Frisbee, but lands pretty hard on the grass.

    I run over to help him. I reach my hand out, and he takes it to hoist himself back onto his feet.

    "Nice catch."

    "Thanks."

    He flashes the most beautiful smile I've ever seen.

    "Are you all right?"

    "Oh yeah, I'll be fine," he says as he brushes the blades of grass off his pants. "I don't think I'm bleeding or anything; I had a soft landing."

    One of his friends calls out in the distance. "Hey James, stop flirting; let's get back to the game!"

    "Well I'm glad you're OK; take it easy."

    "You too!"

    I jog out of the park and head back home. I take a quick shower and hop on the computer to check my email. Looks like Mom got my email with the travel details. She sent me an email telling me how excited she was about her upcoming trip; I'm just as excited, but I guess I have a subtle way of showing it.

    I decide to give Gary a call and update him.

    "Hey Brad; what's up?"

    "Hey Gary. I wanted to let you know that my mom is coming in town for a visit next weekend."

    "Sharon's coming in? That's fantastic! Harry and I had a great time with her when we stopped in Denver on our way to St Louis. She said she missed you back then."

    "She still feels the same way. She can't wait to get here."

    "When is she getting in?"

    "Her flight lands Friday afternoon. I'm picking her up, then we're heading to the lodge near Mount Rainier for the weekend."

    "You're kidding."

    "Come again?"

    "Gina and I are going there this weekend, too! It'll be like a big Palovich family reunion! It's been what, two years since you last saw your mom?"

    "I guess it has been that long."

    "How is she doing, Brad?"

    "She's doing much better after I went down to help her move. I mean, for her to live three years in the same house where Dad died - I couldn't imagine doing that."

    "Neither could I. She did seem to be doing better when I visited her last. That's great to hear she'll be coming in to town. We'll need to plan to all have lunch or dinner together."

    "I wouldn't have it any other way!"

    "Oh, Brad, by the way - your date with Kelly is tonight, right?"

    "Yes, it is. I'm nervous as hell."

    "Damn. It'll be hard for you to get an erection - no pun intended."

    "Gary, I don't think the fact that I'm nervous is the only reason it'll be difficult for me to get an erection."

    "True, true. Where are you going?"

    "She wants me to meet her at First and Union. We're supposed to get together around 7."

    "I'm sure you have a lot of preparing to do - get your mani-pedi, hair cut, brows waxed, and so on and so forth."

    "Very funny, Gary. You and Harry doing anything tonight?"

    "We'll probably head out to Cooters or something. But your night will be much more exciting. You'll do just fine, Brad. I'll let you go now, but make sure to call me or Harry tomorrow and let us know all about it."

    "You know I will. Take care, Gary."

    "You, too."

    After I hang up, I chuckle a bit at what Gary said. "Mani-Pedi, hair cut, brows waxed?" What kind of a person does he think I am?

    * * * * *

    "Thanks Vicki! See you in about a week or so!" I look down at my hand. Wow! These nails sure do sparkle in the sun. I run over to the salon to get my haircut and brows waxed. I'm not delusional. Gary knows exactly what kind of person I am. And so do I. And I'm OK with that.

    The time creeps closer and closer to 7, so I race back home to change into what I'm going to wear for my date. I decide to keep it a bit dressy, but a bit casual. I head out the door and hail a cab to head to First and Union.

    I get there just in the nick of time. I don't see any sign of Kelly, so I wait outside for a few minutes. The song playing in the background is pretty catchy, so I don't mind waiting. I discover it's Love Tonight by The Disco Boys - and the words are so appropriate for this situation.

    I see a car pull up, and notice Kelly in the passenger seat. She gives the driver a hug, opens the door, and steps out of the car.

    Now let me just take a moment to say that I've been gay my entire life. I've always enjoyed the sight, touch, smell, and taste of a man. But I am also able to notice and appreciate the beauty of a woman. And this woman is pretty damned beautiful. But - that's about as far as my appreciation goes. And now I'm just beginning to feel so evil and nasty for leading her on. What the hell am I getting myself into?

    Kelly walks up to me, takes one step back, and eyes me from head to toe and back up again. "Now that is the man I've been waiting to lay my eyes on."

    All I could think of is, I hope that's the only body part you plan to lay on me.

    -------

    Here's the music video for Love Tonight by The Disco Boys

    Last edited by AstareGod; January 31st, 2013 at 01:35 PM. Reason: Added music video
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  14. #14
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    OK, looking forward to Brad's new adventure. He's going to be like the couple in the Love Tonight video. Except he may be home before the sun starts rising, but, who knows....................... I wonder if Sharon will get the opportunity to meet Kelly. What a surprise that would be. Fun chapter, AstareGod.

    Craiger

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    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Part 7

    Thank God it is December; any warmer and I'd be sweating like a menopausal whore in church.

    I break the uncomfortable silence. "Kelly, may I say, you look extremely ravishing."

    "Why, yes, you may."

    She flashes an award-winning smile. I take a deep breath. I hope all those theater classes I took in college pay off.

    I take her hand and we walk to the restaurant on the corner. "How did you know I like Japanese?"

    "Just a lucky guess."

    The maître d' leads us to our table and we sit. "Can I get you anything to drink? Ma'am?"

    "A vodka and cranberry, please."

    "And for you, sir?"

    "A lemon drop. And make it strong. Actually, bring two. Thank you."

    He steps away; the only things keeping me company now are the most beautiful woman in the world and all the guilt and nervousness in the entire universe.

    "Brad, I'm so glad we met, and that we were able to meet again so soon."

    "Me too, Kelly. You seem like such a nice person. I was really looking forward to our date tonight."

    "The guys you were hanging out with, what were their names again?"

    "Gary and Harry?"

    "Yes, that's them. They seem nice, too. Maybe I could set them up with some of my friends - the straight ones, I mean. Hah. Could you imagine if I set them up with my gay friends?"

    I hope she doesn't pick up on the nervousness in my laugh.

    Our server arrives with the drinks we ordered. I take mine from him and down nearly half of it before he even has a chance to set it on the table.

    "So, Brad, do you have any plans this upcoming weekend?"

    "Actually yes; I'm spending the weekend at a lodge near Mount Rainier. It looks so majestic this time of year - plus it's been a while since I've put my snowboard to good use."

    "That sounds like so much fun! Believe it or not, I've never visited Mount Rainier. It's so close by, but I've never had anyone to go with. Most of my friends would rather spend their time in a warm steam room, if you know what I mean."

    Before I could stop myself, before I even realize what I am doing, I ask the question. "Would you like to join me?"

    "I would love to!"

    Oh shit.

    "Excuse me, Kelly; I'll be right back."

    I finish off the rest of my first lemon drop and make my way to the restroom. Oh God, Gary, please, please, please pick up.

    "Brad! How's your date going?"

    "Just fine, until I asked her to join me this weekend."

    "The same weekend with me and your mother?"

    I could barely get "Yes" out. I sounded worse than an 84-year-old frog with a tracheotomy hole.

    "It's OK, Brad. Calm down. Everything's going to be OK. Take a few deep breaths. We have a whole week to figure things out. For now, just go back out there and act cool."

    "OK. Thanks, Gary."

    "No problem, man. Let me know how things went tomorrow."

    I hang up and start heading out before I realize I actually do have to pee. Boy, that lemon drop moves fast.

    * * * * *

    The rest of the dinner goes pretty smoothly, compared to how it began. I have the lemon drops to thank for that. Well, except for the fact that the two I had in the beginning, and the third midway through, are also doing a good job of impairing my judgment - and balance. I can barely walk out of the restaurant when we get up to leave. I wrap my arm around Kelly - less because I want to, and more because I actually need her for stability.

    We walk to the corner and Kelly hails a cab. "How about we head back to my place, Brad?" My head is swimming in such a swirl of alcoholic bliss and intense nervousness that all I can muster is, "That's cool with me." A cab screeches to a halt right in front of us, so fast it catches me by surprise. Kelly wastes no time in opening the door. We get in and are on our way to a destination unknown - at least to me.

    Luckily I'm sober enough to pay attention to where the cab is going, and I realize we are going into Capitol Hill. "Kelly, you live in Capitol Hill?"

    "Yep. I love being close to my friends - and of course, when most of them are gay, that means you live in Capitol Hill."

    "Do you live with anyone?"

    "Honey, I know I said I love being close to them, but not that close."

    Just as fast as the cab picked us up - * SCREECH * - we pull in front of Kelly's apartment building. I'm amazed the cab fare wasn't higher, considering how many tires they must have to go through.

    "How many floors do we need to climb?"

    "None. I live on the first floor."

    Thank God. There would be no way I'd be able to do any stairs. I thought I was going to have to hail another magical screeching cab to take me home.

    Kelly unlocks her door and we step inside. There's a faint smell of lavender, which, along with the alcohol, helps to calm my nerves - almost to the point where I'm not nervous at all anymore. Kelly is genuinely a nice woman, just like any of my other female friends I've had in the past.

    Then, Kelly all of a sudden grabs the sides of my face and plants a kiss right on my lips.

    Yeah, just like any of my other female friends - except for that.

    "Come on; let's go to my bedroom."

    At this point, fuck it.

    We go to her bedroom. The lavender smell almost puts me in a trance.

    She leads me to the bedroom and we lie on the bed. Have you ever been with someone and you can't tell whose hands are yours and whose hands are theirs? Right now I can't even tell I'm with a woman. The hands, the touch, the sensation; it all feels so good. It feels so good, I make a cat-like purring sound.

    "Is that a lion in the jungle, I hear?"

    I chuckle. "I guess so."

    She immediately rams her hand into my pants. I'm so relaxed I don't even mind.

    "Looks like that lion's got some big meat!"

    "He sure does!"

    "Come on, lion, attack me!"

    And then everything went black.
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  16. #16
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Oh oh! Big cliffhanger........... Oh no, it must be those Lemon Drops........... happens all the time. I'm not sure what Brad is doing, but I'll play along with him just for fun. Maybe he is going to see that sunrise after all. But what's in between????

    Craiger

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    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Part 8

    Whose hand was that rubbing my torso?

    "Good morning, sleepyhead."

    I open my eyes and shoot up. It takes me a moment to realize where I am - and to realize that quickly sitting straight up wasn't such a good idea. My head starts pounding pretty badly.

    "How did the king of my jungle sleep?"

    "I'm not sure; the last thing I remember is you calling me a lion last night."

    "You don't remember anything from last night?"

    "To be totally honest, no, I don't. I'm sorry."

    "Oh, that's OK. I taped the whole thing just in case."

    My gasp probably woke up the rest of the people in Capitol Hill who were still sleeping.

    "Just kidding. I do have to say, though, you were quite the performer in bed."

    "Almost as good as Cirque du Soleil?" Wow. If that didn't give me away, nothing will.

    "Not quite as good, but at least the tickets to your show were free." I chuckle. "You don't look so hot. Can I get you some painkillers?"

    "How about some Irish coffee?"

    "That I can do."

    If sitting straight up was a bad idea, attempting to get out of bed was the worst mistake ever. Alcohol can be so unforgiving. Nevertheless, I make my way to the kitchen and sit at one of Kelly's barstools.

    "Here you go; I made it extra strong, just the way you like it."

    "Kelly, you will be the death of me."

    She smirks and lets out a quiet, but sadistic laugh. "Are you going to be OK to make it home on your own?"

    "Oh sure; I've been through worse than this before."

    "Good. I was hoping I wouldn't have to get my assistant to see you home."

    "Assistant?"

    "Yes; I'm the executive director for Marriage Equality Washington. Linda, whom you met at the bar Thursday night? She's my assistant. She'll be dropping by - actually, she should be here any minute now."

    "Do you mind if I use your shower? I at least want to be presentable when Linda arrives."

    "Sure thing, hon. Go ahead. Towels are in the cabinet under the sink."

    I gulp down the rest of my Irish coffee and head to her shower. I get a good look at the nether regions: no unusual burning sensations or odd textures. That's a good sign. I finish up my shower and get dressed, just in time.

    "Hey, Linda, remember Brad from the bar?"

    I catch Linda giving me a very suspicious look for a split second; Kelly seems to have missed it.

    "I do remember Brad from the bar. How was your date?"

    "Hi, Linda. Kelly and I had a wonderful time. We ate at this really great restaurant-"

    "I told you he liked Japanese," Linda said quietly to Kelly.

    "-and we ended up here after that."

    "And then?"

    There were a few uncomfortable seconds of silence, which Kelly saved us all from. "The drinks were strong."

    Linda gave Kelly a very understanding glance. "I see. You'll have to tell me more about that, Kelly."

    "Anyway, ladies, I've got some, er, things for work to do before tomorrow, so I should probably get going. I'll call you, Kelly. Thanks for letting me spend the night. It was a pleasure seeing you again, Linda."

    "Pleasure's all mine, dear."

    "I'll chat with you soon, Brad. I can't wait for next weekend!"

    I gather my wallet and phone and head out. As I close the door, I barely hear Linda say, "Next weekend?"

    * * * * *

    I feel my phone buzzing in my pocket. Gary's calling.

    "Hey Gary; what's going on?"

    "Not much, loverboy. I'm surprised to see you up on your feet this early."

    "See me?"

    I turn around and see Gary and Harry a half-block behind me. They walk a little faster to catch up.

    "You look like you could use some coffee, Brad. Let's hop into this Starbucks."

    "I hope they also have Baileys."

    We all duck inside. Gary and I find a table while Harry offers to grab our coffees.

    "How did it go after dinner?"

    "I wish I could remember."

    "Wel- wait, what? You don't remember how the rest of the night went?"

    "The drinks were strong." I didn't have any better of an excuse.

    "You really don't remember anything?"

    "The last thing I can remember was her shoving her hands in my pants."

    "Oh my god!" Gary was trying very hard to keep his laughter inside. Harry arrives with our coffees.

    "So guys, what have I missed?"

    "Harry, you're not gonna believe it. I think our loverboy just made it with a woman last night."

    "I had drunk so much, she suggested we go back to her place and I just went along with it. We go inside and she straight-up open-mouth kisses me. Then we go into her bedroom, she shoves her hands in my pants, and I can't remember anything past that."

    Gary saw the confused look on Harry's face. "The drinks were strong." Harry's confused look went away.

    "Well, you're not the only one who had an exciting evening."

    "Oh?"

    "Tell him, Harry."

    Harry's cheeks turned bright red. "Gary and I were at Cooters, minding our own business, when Julia shows up with a big group of girls."

    "Wait - the Julia you had a crush on in college years ago?"

    "Yeah, that Julia."

    "Why were a big group of girls at Cooters?"

    "It was Julia's friends birthday. Her friend is a lesbian."

    "Oh."

    "Anyway, she sees me and runs over to our table. We both realize how long it's been since we last saw each other. She lives in Portland now, but her friend is having this week-long birthday celebration, and Julia will be in town this whole week."

    "Are you going to make plans to see her again before she leaves."

    Gary chimed in. "Even better. Julia told us that she and her friends are avid skiers. They'll be going to Mount Rainier this weekend. And Harry decided to tag along with us."

    "So that's me, Kelly, my mom, you, Gina, and now Harry."

    "Right. We'll have to take separate cars. I can take Harry, Gina, and myself. When does Sharon fly in?"

    "Her flight should get here by Friday evening, but not too late. I'm planning on picking her up and then heading straight to the lodge."

    "She's not bringing a surprise boyfriend with her, is she?"

    "No, unless she's been keeping secrets."

    "Does she know about Kelly?"

    "Of course I haven't, and you two keep it on the down low. I already know it's going to be an awkward situation. I just need to figure out a way to get past next weekend."

    "Well, do what you will, but you know Gary and I believe that honesty is the best policy."

    "You two are the whole reason I went on that date last night in the first place!"

    "But we didn't suggest you go as far as sinking your submarine."

    "Brad, what's done is done. There's no point in regretting it, but we'll help to make this weekend run as smoothly as possible."

    "Thanks, Harry. I'm sorry guys; I didn't mean to get angry. It's not your fault that things got way out of hand last night. I'm just really nervous for the weekend."

    "Don't worry about it, Brad. We've got your back."

    "Thanks. I need to be running anyway. There are some files and things I need to get organized before work tomorrow."

    We all stand up. I give great, big hugs to both Gary and Harry. They reassure me that things are going to be OK. But I need more convincing than that.
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  18. #18
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Sounds like a full reunion on Mount Rainier. Where is Kelly going to sleep???? Will Brad ever find out exactly what happened that night... that's a mystery yet to be solved. Will the submarine sink again over the next weekend???? Another mystery to solve. Love it, AstareGod.

    Craiger

  19. #19
    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Sorry for the brief hiatus - things get busy. But I've been writing like a madman. I'm getting back into the writing and hope to have lots more material for you, and much more regularly.

    Part 9

    It's the night before my big weekend. What started as a small weekend retreat with my mom turned into a huge, unexpected gathering. I'm glad we legalized pot here in Washington; I may need some to calm myself down!

    I chat with Gary on the phone and pack most of what I needed for the weekend. "So, Gary, what's the plan?"

    "Harry, Gina, and I will probably head out before noon and grab lunch before we hit the freeway. 167, 164, and 410 seems to be the best way to go. What about you, Sharon, and Kelly?"

    "Mom called me earlier today. She told me she was moved to an earlier flight."

    "She must be happy to be able to spend more time with you."

    "Oh, she is. I have a meeting at work tomorrow morning. After I'm done, Kelly and I will head to the airport to pick her up and then meet up with you."

    "How are you going to deal with having both of them together?"

    "Kelly and I aren't technically together, so I don't have to pretend we're boyfriend-girlfriend or anything. I think I can play it off for the hour or so we'll be in the car."

    "And what about after you get there?"

    "...I'll figure it out."

    "You always were good at thinking quickly on your feet."

    "Especially that time at the strip club."

    "All righty, Brad, I'll let you finish up your packing."

    * * * * *

    Is it possible to both look forward to and dread the upcoming morning?

    * BEEP BEEP BEEP * Alarm clocks can be so unforgiving. I didn't quite get the best night's sleep. I kept replaying disaster scenarios of the car ride to Mount Rainier. Hopefully none of them will come true.

    I have time to get in a quick jog and an even quicker shower. I grab my suitcases and snowboard and head down to the car; I'll be driving in to work since it's on the way to the airport.

    I get to my building's parking garage and find a spot close to the elevator. I head up to our floor. I've worked there a while, but never realized how great of a view of the mountains we have. I guess I've had my head stuck in front of a computer screen too much.

    I walk into the conference room; my boss, Rick, and one of the other project managers are already there, and both stand up to greet me.

    "Good morning, Brad. Please, take a seat."

    "Good morning, guys," I say as I sit down.

    Rick continued, "I'm so glad you were able to meet with us on short notice. You may recognize Eric here. He has been managing a lot of the projects coming from one of our biggest clients."

    "Yes, I've worked with some of them in a limited capacity."

    Eric spoke up. "I've seen some of the work you've done; you've helped my team find some pretty serious bugs, and made some great suggestions in making our code more efficient and reliable."

    "Well, thank you."

    "It's you we should be thanking, Brad. Anyway, this client of ours has presented us with a really intense project. I spoke with Eric and he thinks it'll be a bit too much for his team."

    "So you'd like me to join his team and help out?"

    "Actually, we were thinking of hiring some additional programmers and testers and having you oversee them."

    I... didn't know what to say. I didn't even know what to think.

    Eric broke the silence. "Rick and I have been talking about this for a couple of weeks. You've done great work so far, and we think you have what it takes to head your own team."

    "This sounds wonderful, guys! I'm so delighted you considered me for this."

    "Great; we knew you'd be on board. We've been taking a look at some new applicants. On Monday, how about going over to Eric's office and being part of the selection committee?"

    "I'll be there!"

    "Fantastic. Well, that's all we needed to discuss right now. I'm sure you're anxious to get your weekend started. Any plans?"

    "Right after this I'm heading to Mount Rainier with a new friend and my mom who's flying in from Denver."

    "A new friend?"

    "Yeah - Kelly."

    Rick gave Eric an inquisitive look. "Kelly?"

    Eric shrugged. "Kelly can be a guy's name."

    I confessed. "Actually, Kelly is a woman."

    Now they both looked at me with an inquisitive look.

    "Don't worry, fellas; the only switching of teams I'm doing is at work."

    "That's refreshing to hear. Well, don't let us keep you."

    I get up and shake hands with both of the guys. I leave the conference room and head towards the elevator, giving Mount Rainier one more look out of the window.

    * * * * *

    I drive to Capitol Hill to pick up Kelly, and then head south on I-5 toward the airport. We park and head inside to greet Mom at baggage claim. We get there right as her flight is scheduled to land. I check the monitors and, sure enough, it's on the ground all in one piece. We sit tight for a few minutes, until I hear a very familiar and unmistakable shriek.

    "Brad!!!"

    Mom comes running toward me. She would certainly put the Running of the Bulls to shame.

    She grabs me and plants a big smooch on my right cheek. "Oh Brad, I've missed you so much!"

    "I've missed you too, Mom. There's someone I want you to meet. This is Kelly. Kelly, this is Sharon."

    They exchange greetings and get to know each other a bit while we wait for the bags. "So Kelly, what do you do?"

    "I work for Marriage Equality Washington. I'm sure you heard about our big victory in getting Referendum 74 passed."

    "I sure have. I keep a very close eye on those kinds of things. They are so important to my baby boy."

    "Of course; they should be important to anyone concerned about equal rights."

    "Well, yes, but especially because he's-"

    All of a sudden the buzzer sounds, signaling the bags are on the way. Phew, that was close.

    "Oh my heavens! I forgot to tell you what bags to look for. I have a big blue one with lime-green accents, a smaller pink one, two yellow ones-"

    "Gosh, Mom, how many did you bring?"

    "Well, you sometimes never know what outfit will work best given the occasion until right before. You of all people should know that, Brad," Mom says with a light shove on my shoulder.

    "You do know how much extra all of this baggage is, right?"

    "It helps if you know the person working the counter." Mom gave me a wink.

    "Great, but what about your return trip?"

    "His best friend works at this airport."

    That's my mother for you - utilizing her resources to the best of her ability.

    I realize one of her bags passed us by a few seconds ago and run to grab it and make it just in time. One down, seven to go.

    * * * * *

    We gather the rest of Mom's bags and head to the car. It's a good thing Kelly is tagging along, or else Mom and I would've had to make two trips.

    We pile into the car, Kelly in the front seat, and Mom in the back. I text Gary to tell him we're on the way. He let me know that he, Harry, and Gina got there a few minutes before and were getting settled in. The plan is for all of us to grab dinner when we get there and unpack. The clock reads 15:30. We head onto the freeway, past I-5 and onto 167.

    "Sharon, have you ever been to Mount Rainier in the winter?"

    "I haven't been at all. But I hear it's very nice in the winter. How about you, Kelly?"

    "Same here. I've always wanted to go, but I've never had anyone to go with."

    "Well, I'm sure Brad will show you a good time."

    Kelly chuckles and looks my way. "He already has." She gives my knee a squeeze.

    "Oh, before I forget, I have some great news to tell you. One of my company's clients came to us with a project that's too big for our current team, so they've asked me to be a project manager for it."

    Mom congratulated me with a "Brad, that's wonderful!" And Kelly let out an "Awesome!"

    "It's a big responsibility, but my boss and another of the project managers thinks I have what it takes to do it."

    "You always were a good leader, Brad. I have no doubt you would be great in that position. I'm glad your colleagues see that, too."

    It's only a short way until we reach the exit for 164. The mountains creep closer and closer. The rest of the drive goes by without incident, much to my imagination's disappointment.

    * * * * *

    We finally reach the parking lot of the lodge. I give Harry a quick call to ask him to help with all of the bags. He and Gary head downstairs, exit the lobby, and get to the car just as Mom and Kelly gather a few bags.

    Mom does a perfect repeat of her airport shriek. "Harry! Gary! It's so good to see you two!" She gives them both a big hug.

    "It's great to see you, Sharon. Hello, Kelly. Good to see you again. Don't worry about the rest of the bags; Harry and I will take them up." Mom and Kelly begin to head inside.

    Gary and Harry stand close to me and speak quietly. "How'd the drive go?"

    "Pretty well, actually. I think both of them are pretty clueless as to what's really going on."

    "Good, good. What can we help you bring up?"

    I pop open the trunk and watch as both Gary and Harry's mouths open wide.

    "How much extra did that cost?"

    "Nothing. She knew the guy at the ticket counter."

    "Your mom is fucking awesome."

    We each take a couple of bags in each hand. "Thanks for the help, guys. Without you it would be next year before I got all of this in."

    "No problem, Brad; we're happy to help."

    "How did your ride go?"

    "Nothing to complain about. Traffic was pretty light on the way here. We all got settled in pretty quickly."

    "Harry, is Julia here yet?"

    "She gets here with her group tomorrow. I'm going to see about making dinner plans."

    "Well, Brad, there is one other person here you should probably know about."

    "Oh, come on. Who else under the sun could possibly be here?"

    Gary gives Harry a look, and then a quick nod.

    Harry then says the last possible thing I could have ever expected.

    "Stan."
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  20. #20
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Oh oh! The intrigue builds. Not only will Brad have to watch Sharon and Kelly, but now Stan. How will Sharon react when she sees Stan and meets him for the first time? I don't know if I would be having a very pleasant time on this retreat. Maybe the best thing to do is throw caution to the wind and let whatever happens happen... Great update, AstareGod. I can tell it's going to be a wild ride.

    Craiger

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    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Craiger - I probably wouldn't be having a fun time, either. Don't vacations sometimes tend to be just as stressful as being at home? Let's see how it plays out...

    Part 10

    "I hope you guys are playing a sick joke on me."

    "I wish we were. We saw him in the lobby when we got here."

    "Is he with anyone?"

    "We can't tell, but I doubt he's here by himself."

    "Well, there's not much we can do. Let's steer clear as best we can." I took a deep breath. "As if this weekend couldn't get any more awkward."

    Gary, Harry, and I take the rest of the bags up to the rooms. Mom's room is right across the hall from mine and Kelly's. Gary and Gina are staying down the hall, and Harry is next-door to them all by himself, though we presume Julia will join him tomorrow.

    * * * * *

    All of us are pretty hungry - me especially, since I only had a tiny breakfast sandwich at Starbucks just before my meeting this morning. We all head downstairs to the lodge's restaurant. Most of us have already met, but it was Mom and Kelly's first time meeting Gina. The three get introduced and acquainted quickly. All I really care about is that the restaurant has a bar.

    Dinner goes smoothly. As we leave the restaurant, Mom remarks that she's had a rather long day with her flight and that she's turning in early. The rest of us bid her a good night and sit in the lobby, where the lodge staff has built a rather impressive fire.

    I ask the group, "What are our plans for tomorrow?"

    Harry chimes in. "Julia told me that she's getting here with her group a little before noon. She's bringing her skis. Gary and I have mine; what about you, Brad?"

    "I have my snowboard. I'm a bit rusty, but I should pick it right back up. Just like riding a bicycle."

    "Or sex," Harry quips. I give him the evil eye. He turns his attention to Kelly. "Do you ski or snowboard?"

    "I've never even been this close to a mountain. I'd certainly like to try, though."

    "I'm sure Brad won't mind showing you the ropes."

    "That sounds fun. I guess I could go for that."

    "Don't worry; I'll go easy on you, Kelly."

    "Go easy? You think I can't handle it, big boy?"

    Harry starts chuckling, but Gary slaps his shoulder to stop him.

    "Gina, what about you?"

    "No, thanks. I'm only here as eye candy for Gary," she jokes. "I'm not a big fan of the cold. I've tried skiing and snowboarding, but my whole body tenses up when it gets below freezing. Plus, I'm sure Sharon would appreciate some extra company."

    "That would be nice, and yes, she would definitely appreciate it."

    I stretch out my arms. "It sounds like we have a long day ahead of us. Kelly, are you ready to head up?"

    "Yeah, that sounds like a good idea."

    We go over to the fire to warm up one last time before turning in for the evening.

    * * * * *

    Kelly and I step inside our room. She goes into the bathroom while I open my suitcase and pick out some warm pajamas. I pull off my jeans and put on the pajamas.

    "Sharon seems really nice."

    "Nice? She's fantastic."

    I crawl under the covers when Kelly emerges, wearing barely anything at all.

    "I hope you don't turn into an ice cube in the middle of the night."

    "Not if you keep me warm, my big grizzly bear."

    "Grizzly bear?"

    "All right, you're more like an otter, but still."

    Kelly gets under the covers, and I wrap my arm around her shoulder. It all seems completely natural.

    "I don't think you ever mentioned your father."

    "Wow, where to begin? He was a great guy."

    "Was?"

    "Yeah; he died about five years ago."

    "Oh, Brad, I'm sorry."

    I take a deep breath.

    "I didn't really know him that well. He was in the Air Force and spent most of the time stationed away from home. He enlisted before I was born, and he stayed with Mom and I until I was about 3 or 4. After that, he was mostly away."

    I could feel a tear rolling down my cheek. I wipe it away.

    "It's OK if you don't want to talk about it."

    "No, it's fine. I'm just not used to telling other people about him. Anyway, he came from a rich family. He didn't have to worry about money at all; he could've gone to school and gotten any degree he wanted. But that all seemed superficial to him. He wouldn't have felt like he was making a contribution, so he joined the Air Force instead."

    "What did he do in the Air Force?"

    "He flew helicopters. Even during wartime. Most of his work was going into enemy territory and doing medical evacuations. It was pretty dangerous stuff."

    "He sounds really brave."

    "He was."

    There are a few seconds of silence.

    "When was the last time you saw him?"

    "About five years ago. He was able to get leave and came to visit my mom and me when I was still going to college in Colorado. He was at my graduation and had to go back the day after. The last thing he told me was how proud he was of me."

    I take another deep breath.

    "That's the last time both my mom and I saw him."

    Kelly leans in and gives me a kiss. A kiss unlike one I've ever had before. This kiss wasn't romantic or sexual - it was pure sympathy. Something to make me feel that I was not alone, and that everything would be OK. I return the kiss, and Kelly and I spend the next few seconds staring into each other's eyes. She then places her hand on my cheek. "Thank you for sharing that with me."

    All I could muster is a half-smile. "We have a lot of fun in store tomorrow, so let's get some sleep, OK?"

    "Sounds good." Kelly gives me one more peck on the lips, and we settle in and drift off to sleep.
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  22. #22
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Grizzly bear? OK, Otter..... all Kelly has to do is check JUB's Otter thread and she may see her Grizzly bear's pic. Well the awkwardness hasn't become un'bear'able yet. At least Sharon hasn't spilled the beans on Brad, but what will happen when they meet up with Stan? The tenderness Kelly displayed shows she has a nice sense of compassion. This weekend may be better than expected. I can hardly wait to find out, AstareGod.

    Craiger

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    ********* JUB Moderator Autolycus's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Thanks for the update - nice chapter!



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    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Thanks Craiger and Auto! Let's see where the adventure goes next:

    Part 11

    I open my eyes as the sun peeks through the curtains. I look to my left - no ice cube. I guess my warmth was enough for her.

    I hear a knock at the door.

    Apparently my warmth was enough for both of us. As I get out of bed to answer the door, I glance down; I'm not wearing any underwear.

    I notice Kelly has stirred awake from the knock. "Kelly, what happened to my underwear?"

    Kelly looks down at me and tries to stifle her laughter. "I have no idea. You must have taken them off during the night."

    From behind the door, I hear "Open up, lovebirds." It was Gary.

    I look down and see my pajamas and underwear on the floor. I grab my underwear, pull it on frantically, then scamper to the door. I open the door to Gary with a huge grin on his face.

    He looks me up and down. "I hope I'm interrupting something."

    "Good morning to you, too," I say sarcastically. "And you weren't."

    "I brought you coffee."

    Gary hands me two piping hot coffees. "I hope you like cream and sugar, Kelly."

    "I sure do. Thanks, Gary."

    I walk to the bed and hand Kelly her coffee. "Gary, you can come in." I sit at the foot of the bed and take a few quick sips of my coffee. It's a bit too hot to drink.

    "Harry talked with Julia earlier this morning. She and her pack are on the way here and should be here in an hour or so. And good news, Kelly. Julia mentioned that she's bringing an extra snowboard that you can borrow."

    I noticed Kelly's nervous expression. I reassured her, "Don't worry. I'm a bit rusty so we'll both go easy."

    "Anyway, there's great breakfast downstairs. You two lovebirds hurry up and get dressed. We'll meet you downstairs in about twenty."

    "Sounds good; we'll be right down."

    Gary turns around and leaves the room.

    "Kelly, do you want to shower first, or-"

    "-Just go ahead. I want to check on a few things first."

    * * * * *

    I wrap up my shower and free up the bathroom for Kelly. Unlike her, I don't have much to check up on. Everyone important to me is all under the same roof - well, everyone important to me that's still living. I open up the curtains a bit and look outside. We have a great view of Crystal Mountain, where we'll be skiing and snowboarding. I sit and just take it all in.

    Kelly emerges from the bathroom with a "Ready to go?" I hop up, open the door for her, and we head downstairs.

    Everyone else is downstairs waiting for us. I notice a new member in our group.

    "Brad, I want you to meet Julia."

    "Julia, hi, nice to meet you. I've heard lots of great things about you from Harry."

    "Likewise. It's great to meet you, too, Brad."

    "And this is Kelly. She's my, er-"

    Everyone looks at me and it's silent for a few seconds.

    "-Girlfriend."

    Kelly and Julia shake hands and exchange greetings. We stand around for a few seconds until Gary breaks the silence. "We should grab something to eat. Julia, would you like to join us?"

    "The girls and I ate before driving here, so I'm going to go up and unpack with them. But we should be ready to go when you're done. How about we meet you downstairs then?"

    "Sure, we'll see you then."

    Gary, Harry, Gina, Kelly, Mom, and myself head inside the restaurant for breakfast. They have a pretty big selection: the usual eggs, bacon, pancakes, and waffles. But they also have something I'm surprised I had never seen before for breakfast, given how much I like it: salmon.

    We all fill up our plates and go to sit down. I place my plate on the table, but Harry stops me. He whispers so quietly I could hardly hear him. "I don't think you should sit there." I glance up and see Stan sitting at a nearby table. "I don't think I should sit there, either. Thanks for the warning."

    "Well, at least now we know he's not alone."

    "I don't really care if he's alone or not; I don't want him here period."

    Sharon interrupts our private conversation. "What are you boys talking about?"

    Harry nonchalantly covers for me. "What we're going to do after breakfast. Gary and I are skiing with Julia, and Brad's going to go snowboarding with Kelly."

    "What about you, Mom?"

    "I was chatting with the concierge this morning; he is such a doll. He told me that there is a nearby gondola that goes up Mount Rainier. I told Gina about it and she wants to go do that with me."

    "I'm also a freelance photographer, and I want to see what kind of shots I can get of the mountain."

    Gary wraps his arm around his girlfriend and snuggles her tightly. "Are you sure you're going to be OK, baby? I don't want you to freeze out there."

    "You can borrow Brad; he kept me pretty warm through the night."

    I tried hard not to either spit out or choke on my salmon.

    * * * * *

    The rest of breakfast goes without much more incident. As we get up to leave, I notice Stan's gone - that's a relief. We meet with Julia in the lobby and figure out driving arrangements. Julia will meet Gary, Harry, Kelly, and myself at Crystal Mountain. Gina and Mom will ride with one of Julia's friends to Rainier. We head upstairs to gather all of the equipment and then drive off.

    Kelly and I are in the back seat. Gary's driving, and Harry sits next to him. Harry turns and looks at Kelly. "You sure you're not nervous about snowboarding?"

    "I think I'll be fine. Is there anything I should be worried about?"

    "Where we're going, it won't be too crazy. You may fall a few times until you get the hang of it, but you have a great instructor. He'll do everything he can to make sure you don't bruise those kissable lips."

    Gary gives Harry a slap on the knee. "Hush."

    We pull into the parking lot and gather all of our gear. Julia gets there with a couple of her friends a few minutes later, and we all head up the lift.

    I sit next to Kelly; she's shivering a bit, but I think it's more from the cold than the nervousness. I wrap my arms around her to keep her warm.

    "Thanks, my grizzly otter."

    We reach the point where Kelly and I disembark. "Have fun, lovebirds. We'll meet in the parking lot in around an hour?"

    "Sounds good, guys. Stay safe."

    "You too."

    I don my snowboard and show Kelly the basics: getting going, making turns, and stopping. She puts hers on and follows my lead. "You're picking this up really quickly."

    "Thanks."

    I teach her a few more tricks, and then we really get going down the mountain.
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  25. #25
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    I'm certainly glad Brad knows how to snowboard...he sounds very much the expert. But now we have to solve the mystery of the lack of underwear and pajamas so early in the morning... You never know about these grizzly otters. Also, who could be accompanying Stan???? I know the two will have to meet sooner or later and it's going to be interesting.

    Craiger

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    ********* JUB Moderator Autolycus's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    PJ's on the floor? Many moons ago I worked with a guy who went out and bought a smart pair of PJ's for his honeymoon. He reckoned they would be a waste of money as they would spend the night on the floor - a couple of days later he called off the wedding, so they were a waste of money for whatever reason.



  27. #27
    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Craiger - Brad does seem to know his way around on a snowboard. As for the PJs, one has to wonder - he didn't drink that much the night before. Perhaps he did just take them off in his sleep. Same thing happened to a guy I was sleeping next to one time years past.

    Auto - "Smart" PJs? Were they intelligent, or just really good-looking? But yes, they did seem to be a waste and got no good use. But luckily he avoided a potentially bad situation getting into a marriage which can be hell trying to get out of.
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  28. #28
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Now I've heard it all, AstareGod. You're trying to make me believe you didn't take those PJ's off your friend! I think this is a story all of JUB would love to hear.....

    Craiger

  29. #29
    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Craiger - my story will have to go into another thread!

    Part 12

    The group with Sharon and Gina arrive at Mount Rainier. Sharon and Gina go to the gondola while everyone else gathers their skiing and snowboarding equipment and head to the lift.

    Sharon and Gina pay the admission and wait for the gondola to arrive. Gina fiddles with her camera while Sharon reads some nearby information about Mount Rainier. A family with a small boy and girl join them. When the gondola arrives, they all enter and choose seats. The gondola begins its ascent.

    Gina snaps a few pictures. "Sharon, I wanted to ask you something about Brad."

    "Sure, dear; what would you like to know?"

    "Has he always been gay?"

    "Well, he has been for as long as I can remember."

    "How did you take it when he came out to you?"

    "Oh, my. Well, I kind of already knew when he told me officially. Mother's intuition. I could have told you he was gay years before he told me."

    "What made you think so?"

    "My, my. I remember it like it was yesterday. He had just turned five years old, and he wanted to dance with one of his buddies at his birthday party. That was my first hint. I would've been just fine with it - he was five - but one of his other friends laid down the law and said 'boys don't dance with other boys,' like it was her party and not Brad's."

    "She actually said that?"

    "Well, you have to remember that this was over twenty years ago, and Brad and I were living in Colorado at the time."

    "That's right; that's right."

    "You know, dear, I'm happy to tell you about my personal life, but I'm curious; why do you ask?"

    "Well, how long have you known Kelly?"

    "Hardly a day - Brad never mentioned her before I planned to come up here."

    "So don't you find it a bit interesting when he called her his girlfriend?"

    "Not really. I mean, gay men have their girlfriends like I have my girlfriends."

    Sharon and Gina look at each other for a moment.

    "Wait, you mean you're telling me you think Brad and Kelly are dating?"

    Gina nods.

    "Oh Gina, you can't be serious."

    "They have said some things to each other, and it really does seem like they are together."

    "Come on, that's absurd."

    Gina breaks eye contact and takes a few more pictures of the beautiful scene outside. There are a few more seconds of tense silence. Sharon continues, "Gina, I'm sorry; I didn't mean to offend you, but I've known my baby boy so long, and I think being with a woman is the last thing he'd want."

    Sharon looks over at the other family. The boy and girl are unfearfully peering out of the glass at the ground hundreds of feet below. Sharon turns back to Gina. "Has Gary mentioned anything about Kelly?"

    "No, and I haven't told him, either. You're the only person I've told my suspicions to."

    "Well, no offense to you, but I'm sure the truth will become apparent soon."

    "I hope it does, too. And no offense taken."

    The gondola gets to the top and everyone disembarks.

    "Sharon, would you mind being in some of my pictures? I don't get to do portraits or headshots often, and would love to get in some practice."

    "Oh, I'd be delighted, dear!"

    Gina takes a few pictures of Sharon, getting her and the mountain at various angles. They then head inside the restaurant for a hot chocolate.

    "Sharon, I'm glad I finally got to meet you. Gary talks about the trip he and Harry made to go see you. He always had such glowing things to say about you."

    "I'm so happy to hear that. Gary is a great guy. You hold on tight and don't let go. Men like him don't come around often. I should know - I found a great one myself and lost him way too early."

    "I'm sorry, Sharon."

    "Don't be; things happen and we all have to move on. I'll see him again in heaven someday."

    They share comforting smiles.

    "So when are you and Gary getting married?"

    Gina's cheeks turn bright red. "Oh, he hasn't asked me yet, but we have been dating for two years. What's taking him so long?"

    Sharon places her hand on Gina's shoulder. "It'll happen when the time is right. Just be patient."

    Gina nods. Sharon takes her hand away. "Of course, he might be thinking, 'Fuck chivalry,' and is waiting for you to ask him. What do you think?"

    Gina smiles and shrugs, and then the ground shakes beneath them.

    They look at each other with very frightened expressions. Sharon then looks upward and says, "I promise I'll never say 'fuck' again."
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  30. #30
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    I see others have suspicions besides me... Sharon's right, even if the guy upstairs doesn't like her language. Maybe Gina should take the initiative and pin Gary down. But this mystery of Brad and Kelly gets deeper by the minute. Something has to break soon.....

    Craiger

  31. #31
    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Thanks for the feedback, Craiger and ytsnjt1! Hope you enjoy this next part!

    Part 13

    Gary, Harry, Kelly, and I pull into the lodge's parking lot. Julia follows behind us. We see Gina and Sharon there along with Julia's friend and the rest of her group. It looks like they had just gotten there. As soon as Gary parks, he opens the door and runs toward Gina. I run to Mom.

    Gary and Gina embrace. "I'm so glad you and Sharon are safe."

    We all head inside. Mom goes to the concierge for more information about the earthquake, and the rest of us sit by the fire and try to calm down. Everyone was pretty quiet until Gina spoke up. "Did you feel the ground shake, too?" Everyone nodded in agreement.

    Mom came back. "The concierge says that there was an earthquake. It was pretty minor, but strong enough to where the National Park Service wants to evaluate the risk for avalanche, so there probably won't be any more mountain recreation allowed until then."

    Everyone looks pretty bummed, even Mom. I try to cheer everyone up. "At least we got some mountain time in. And all of us are alive and safe. And we're at this fabulous lodge."

    Mom chimes in again. "And don't forget about me! I'm here!"

    "We would never forget about you, Sharon," Harry remarks. "It's been absolutely great having you here."

    "So the plan is to still leave tomorrow?" Gary asks.

    I answer his question, "Can't think of a reason not to. Unless, of course, an avalanche does occur and we're stuck here."

    Everyone looks nervously at one another, and then Julia breaks the silence. "Why do I feel like this is the beginning of The Shining?" Everyone chuckles at her comment and seems cheered up. Mission accomplished.

    We head into the restaurant to grab a quick bite to eat.

    Gina turns her attention to Kelly. "How did your snowboarding lesson with Brad go?"

    "Quite well, actually. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. What about you and Sharon?"

    "The gondola ride was great! So scenic. I got some great shots of the mountain, and I took some of Sharon, too. I'm going to go up to my room to load them onto my laptop. I'm anxious to get a bigger look at them." Gina then asks Julia, "How did you, Gary, and Harry fare?"

    Julia grabs Harry all of a sudden. "This man is purely amazing. He was swooping up and down, side to side, and all crazy." Julia made all these hand gestures to go along with her recounting. She then looks Harry in the eyes. "I've never seen a more impressive skier."

    Wow. I think we know where Julia's sleeping tonight.

    * * * * *

    Everyone finishes up what they were eating as the sun sets. Mom had gone up to bed earlier.

    Julia stretches her arms out. "Wow, all that snowboarding wore me out. I'm going to go upstairs and rest."

    Julia followed suit. "Good idea; Harry, can I borrow your key?" Harry hands his key to Julia.

    Gary looks at Gina. "What about you?"

    "I want to go up and get those pictures off my camera."

    "OK; we'll probably sit and chat for a bit and then we'll be up."

    With that, the three ladies go upstairs.

    I ask the guys, "So, it looks like it's just us boys. What are we going to do now?"

    "I went poking around and noticed this lodge has a Jacuzzi," Harry suggests.

    "That sounds wonderful! I haven't been snowboarding in a while, and I can feel soreness setting in already. Oh wait, that won't work."

    "Why not?" Gary asks.

    "I didn't bring a swimsuit."

    Gary gives me a devilish grin. "Neither did we."

    * * * * *

    Harry leads us to the Jacuzzi. No one is there. In fact, the whole lodge seemed dead. The people who were here probably checked out early due to the earthquake, and everyone else planning to arrive canceled their plans. Oh well; it was great having the place to ourselves.

    Gary, Harry, and I walk to a nearby table and take off our shoes, socks, pants, and shirts, leaving only our underwear.

    I look at the guys. "Are you sure about this?"

    "Don't worry; there's nobody here. We won't get caught," Gary reassures me.

    I shrug. All three of us take off our underwear.

    This wasn't the first time we've seen each other nude. We work out together a lot, and sometimes when we all get extra sweaty we'll pop into the locker room and shower. All three of us are really comfortable with each other. Chalk it up to how long we've known each other, I guess.

    Harry walks over to the controls and starts up the jets. We all get in and sit down. Boy, these jets feel great against naked skin. I lie my head back and relax for a few minutes.

    Gary breaks the silence. "So, did you and Kelly roll around in the snow earlier today?"

    "No; we haven't even had sex since last weekend."

    "That you can remember, at least."

    I give Gary an evil look. Harry continued, "So you haven't converted to the dark side yet?"

    "I don't think I ever will. I just need to find a way to get rid of Kelly. I can't keep this going forever."

    We sit there for a few seconds until Gary changes the subject. "So, Harry, Julia's in your room now."

    "What about it?"

    "Nothing, really; I just wanted to ask you where you think that's going."

    "Yeah, Harry, she seemed really excited at the restaurant."

    Gary looks at me. "Oh, you should've seen her while we were skiing. She might play it up that she's a great skier, but it's only her friends who are the real experts. She was falling all over the place, but Harry, being the gentleman he is, was always on hand to help her up."

    I am a bit confused. "What's so special about that?"

    Harry takes care of explaining. "Well, the last time I helped her up, she stood up and her face came right up to mine. We stood there for a few seconds..."

    I'm desperate. "And?"

    "We kissed."

    I splash water all over the floor squealing and bringing my hands up to applaud. "That's great, Harry! So you two are an item now?"

    "Not exactly, but the prospects are looking good."

    "That's so good to hear."

    Someone opens the door. It looks like a member of the lodge staff.

    "Oh, excuse me, gentleman. I was nearby cleaning and I heard a strange noise. Is everything OK?"

    Gary and Harry look at me and chuckle. Gary turns around to address the staff member. "Yeah, everything's fine."

    The staff member glances over at the table and sees all of our clothes, and then glances back at us and smiles. "Enjoy the rest of your weekend, gentleman." And with that, he leaves.

    We all look at each other. It takes tremendous might to not burst out laughing.

    "How long have we been soaking?"

    "Not long enough."

    "Well, we should probably head back up to the rooms before our women get suspicious and come looking for us."

    "Yeah, I guess we should."

    We step out and walk to the table. Gary hands Harry and me a towel and we dry off. We pull on our underwear, and then put on the rest of our clothes. We head upstairs and to our respective rooms.

    I step inside and see that Kelly's already sleeping. She must have been really exhausted. I walk to the bathroom and brush my teeth, then walk to the bed, take off my shirt and pants, and crawl under the covers.
    Last edited by AstareGod; March 18th, 2013 at 12:50 PM.
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  32. #32
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Oh oh! Brad is in trouble..... no PJ's tonight. All he will find on the floor in the morning is his underwear.

    So, Harry now has Julia, good for him, and Gary has Gina, good for him.....and Brad wants to get rid of Kelly.... Oh, but is Stan still there???????? Mystery still prevails.

    Craiger

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    ForeverSingle+Unloveable 72-Jay's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Good chapter..deff looking forward to reading more

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    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Thanks 72-Jay and Craiger - as always. 72, you're in Colorado? I'll have to have Brad make a visit!

    Part 14

    I wake up to a familiar torso-rubbing. That must mean I'm in bed with Kelly.

    "Good morning, sleepyhead."

    I look over at Kelly and try to give her my best smile. "Morning."

    "You must have come in pretty late last night. Did you find another hot babe here?"

    I laugh - and I'm pretty sure Kelly doesn't know the real reason why.

    Kelly and I get ready, pack up everything, and head down to meet the rest of the group at the restaurant for breakfast. We all find a table and go up to grab food. I just had to try more of that salmon.

    Gary expresses his condolences to Kelly. "I'm sorry you didn't get more of a chance to try out snowboarding or skiing."

    "Oh, that's all right; I'm sure I'll have more chances." Kelly gives my arm a quick squeeze. Mom just tilts her head to the side and smiles.

    Gary turns to Gina. "How did your pictures come out, babe?"

    "Actually pretty well. I'm thinking of sending some to a friend of mine. She works at an imaging company."

    Sharon squeals in excitement. "We could be looking at the next Dorothea Lange!"

    Gary nudges me and whispers in my ear, "Or Bruce Weber."

    I whisper back, "She's taken pictures of you?" Gary just smiles at me knowingly with that evil grin.

    We wrap up breakfast and get up to move the bags to the cars. We start walking to the elevators. Harry asks me, "Are you all packed up?"

    I turn to answer him as we round the corner. "Yeah, how ab-" I accidentally run into someone. "Oh, sorry, excuse me, sir."

    I look up and notice it's Stan.

    Crap. And I almost made it out of there undetected.

    "Good to see you, Brad." He doesn't sound happy.

    "Er, good to see you too, Stan."

    "You here with anyone?"

    "Well, I-"

    Mom steps in. "Brad! Is this the man you were dating?"

    "Mom, don’t-"

    Kelly looks utterly confused. "What are you two talking about? I'm his girlfriend."

    Stan quips back, "Brad dating a girl? That's news to me. I happen to be his ex-boyfriend, and the greatest thing he'll never have."

    Kelly turns her attention to me. "So what, you're bisexual?"

    I can hardly muster a, "Well-"

    Stan laughs. "Hardly."

    Mom looks at me with a sadness in her eyes. "Brad? Is this true?"

    A few very tense seconds pass. I take a deep breath. "Yes, it's true. Kelly, meet Stan, my ex-boyfriend. Stan, meet Kelly, my-"

    Kelly interrupts. "His ex-girlfriend."

    Kelly shakes Stan's hand rather vigorously, then storms away. I look up at Gary and Harry. They're both speechless.

    Stan just looks at me, says, "See you 'round, Brad," and walks away.

    Mom yells after Stan, "Nice meeting you!"

    Harry turns to me. "So, Brad, you're all packed up?"

    I am so angry from how this situation turned out that I can't help but yell at Harry. "Yeah, didn't we cover all of that before I ran into Stan?"

    "Sorry, Brad, we must've; I just forgot."

    Gary suggests, "You stay here; Harry and I will go upstairs to pack and will text you when Kelly's gone."

    "All right."

    Gary and Harry go upstairs while Mom sits on a couch in the lobby. I can't blame them. No one really wants to be near someone when they've fucked up really badly.

    Minutes later, my phone vibrates and it's a text from Gary. I head upstairs and meet them at my room. We go in and I grab the bags.

    "We saw Kelly as she was leaving. She said she arranged a ride with Julia and her friends back to Seattle."

    "Is that all?"

    "Well, she also scathingly said, 'Give my regards to that filthy, lying snake.'"

    "I guess we can call that relationship over."

    "Was it ever official to begin with?"

    I sigh. "I guess not. But I'm telling you guys one thing." I point at both of them. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever let you guys talk me into doing."

    Harry quips, "We may have done the talking, but you did all the rest."

    I had to give him that one.

    Gary turns his attention to me. "I agree; the whole thing was pretty stupid. Gina's not too happy about it, but I'll try to do my best and calm her down. Are we still good, though?"

    "Are you crazy? You guys stood right there during the whole thing. Where am I going to find two other people who stick by me through thick and thin?"

    "That's what I was hoping for."

    I hug each of them, then we all bring the bags downstairs and load the cars up.

    Mom and I get in my car while Gary, Harry, and Gina get in Gary's. I roll my window down. "Drive safely."

    "You too. Have a safe flight, Sharon. And come and see us again."

    "You know I will!"

    I pull out of the parking lot and head onto 410.

    The drive back to the airport is fairly silent. Mom, one of the most accepting and loving people I've ever known, won't even speak to me. It takes all my effort to keep from crying on the way to the airport.

    We pull into the parking lot fairly close to the entrance. I walk up and flag down a skycap to help with the bags. We get everything inside and up to the counter. I go to the kiosk to print out Mom's boarding pass while Mom attempts to locate her Denver buddy's best friend.

    I return with her boarding pass. "Got everything taken care of?"

    "Yep. He is so charming. When I get back to Denver, I'll have to arrange to take them out to dinner."

    "I'll walk you to security."

    We walk, still silent. We arrive at the entrance to security and we face each other.

    Mom looks at me with those sad eyes again. "Brad, you know I love you no matter what."

    "Yes, Mom, I know."

    "Did you love her?"

    "You know, I don't think I could have ever felt the way about a woman like I did with Kelly. I didn't know I was capable of it."

    "Brad, your love knows no boundaries. I'm happy that your heart was open to receiving it, and also to returning it."

    I could feel myself tearing up. She continued, "This doesn't change anything between you and me. You'll always be my baby boy - gay, straight, bi, whatever."

    "Thanks, Mom, but after sampling the buffet, I think I'll stick with men."

    "Oh, you hush!"

    She pulls me into a tight hug, and I don't think she wants to let go. She eventually pulls away.

    "You have so much going for you, Brad - living in a fabulous city, a new job - you have so much ahead of you. Just keep living and loving."

    "I will."

    "OK, one more for the flight."

    We hug tightly again.

    "Call me when your flight lands."

    "I will, baby boy. I love you."

    "I love you too, Mom."

    And with that, she walks to security. She turns to me and waves. I wave back, and then turn around and leave the airport.
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  35. #35
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Airport goodbyes are so sad.....particularly if it's your mom. Wow! Stan stepped into the picture and quickly stepped out. I'm not sure whether it was a good thing, however it did bring about the departure of Kelly. At least Brad doesn't have to worry about that now. I'm going to miss the fun little nickname, grizzly otter. But, who knows, it may just stick with Brad...........

    Craiger

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    ForeverSingle+Unloveable 72-Jay's Avatar
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    Poor Brad but I think we all knew that relationship would come crashing down eventually...



    Quote Originally Posted by AstareGod
    Thanks 72-Jay and Craiger - as always. 72, you're in Colorado? I'll have to have Brad make a visit!
    Welcome, have really enjoyed the story so far
    Yep I'm in Colorado...cool a future chapter where he visits my home state

  37. #37
    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Great to have your feedback, guys! I'm glad you're liking the story so far. Writing it has been an absolute pleasure so I hope you'll stick around.

    Enjoy this next part!

    Part 15

    The alarm clock rings especially early today. It's my first day as project manager - at least I have something to look forward to.

    First, a quick recap: Mom's plane landed safely in Denver. Gary, Harry, and Gina made it back safely, too. Now Kelly on the other hand - no response to my texts, calls, or voicemails. Oh well.

    I put on some running shorts. Hopefully a quick run will clear my mind.

    It's another gorgeous day - we don't get many of these in December. I head to Volunteer Park to run a few laps, all the while unable to shut my mind up. I finish up and head back home, take a quick shower, then it's off to work.

    I run into the nearby Starbucks for a coffee and wrap, then head into the building and head to Eric's office.

    "Morning, Eric."

    "Good morning! How did your weekend go?"

    I just look at him, with a you-so-did-not-just-ask-that-question expression.

    His cheerfulness faded away. "Oh, that bad, huh? I'm sorry."

    "It was awful."

    "I guess that's the last time you take a girl to the mountains for a weekend."

    "You can say that again."

    "Well, try to take it easy, I guess. Keep an optimistic attitude. You have this new job and all."

    "Yeah, I'm trying to focus on that."

    "Good, good. Well, let's get started, then."

    * * * * *

    Eric and I spend the next five days going over applicant upon applicant. There's lots of great talent in this area, so it doesn't look like it'll be a problem filling in the developer and testing openings we have. We've been pretty much joined at the hip this whole week getting prepared for hiring, so on Friday we run to a place downtown for lunch together.

    "Eric, mind if I ask you something personal?"

    "I never do mind."

    "I know you're married with kids and all, but is that always how you imagined life?"

    "I suppose; I never really thought about it. Getting married and having kids is sort of what society expects you to do, if you're straight, that is."

    "Well, I guess what I mean to ask is, did you ever think about it going differently?"

    "Differently than what? If I were gay?"

    "Yeah."

    Eric sits, silently contemplating for the next few seconds. "Well, this is obviously the first time I've entertained even the thought of such a possibility."

    "I'm sorry."

    "No, Brad, it's fine. I can't say I've ever imagined myself living as a gay man."

    "Never been attracted to any men at all?"

    "Nope, I can safely say I haven't. Wait, does this have something to do with last weekend?"

    I can feel the guilt all over my face.

    "It does, doesn't it? You looked way too suspicious last week for Kelly to have been just a friend."

    "OK, you caught me."

    "So now that that's on the table, how did it go?"

    "You know, I'm surprised how far it actually went. It was only supposed to be just a dare from my best friends to see if I would go ask a girl out."

    "It always starts as only a dare, doesn't it?"

    "Well, I could feel part of me falling in love, or at the very least, caring for her. Here I am, big gay Brad, falling in love with a woman. Do you think that's possible?"

    "I guess if you're open to the possibility, anything's possible. As for me, I guess I just grew up in a different time. Sex wasn't as much of an open subject as it is now, so I probably would have laughed if one of my guy friends came on to me and not given it a second thought. But who am I to judge? As long as you walk away from an experience with more help than hurt, I don't see it as a bad thing."

    "I think it's too early for me to tell."

    Eric pats me on the shoulder. "Give it time; you'll figure it out."

    * * * * *

    If there ever was a need for alcohol, it is now.

    I decide to give Gary a call. "Hey, do you and Harry want to hang out tonight?"

    "Sorry, Brad; Gina and I are staying in tonight."

    "What, I can't drop by? She's never minded me coming over before."

    "Well, she kind of wants to steer clear of you for a while because of what happened last weekend."

    "Seriously? And she's not mad at you?"

    "Oh, she's mad at me, too. She has every right to be. I'm trying to fix things, though. Just give it time."

    "Yeah, people keep telling me that."

    "Harry's busy with Julia, too. Sorry. I'd love to hang out, you know that, but I already made plans to stay in with Gina."

    "It's OK, Gary. I'll deal."

    "How about we grab some Starbucks tomorrow morning? We can sit and talk then."

    "That's a good idea. Thanks, Gary."

    We say our goodbyes and hang up. Best friends are preferred when going out, but not necessary.

    * * * * *

    I arrive outside of one of the many gay bars Seattle has to offer. I don't frequent them much, but the situation calls for desperate measures.

    I head inside and find a seat at the bar.

    "Whatcha havin'?"

    "Lemon drop, please." How predictable.

    At least the music they have playing is pretty upbeat. The bartender hands me my concoction, and I take an oh-so-very-satisfying sip.

    I look across the bar and see a man leaning against the wall - a man who is very attractive, and, for some reason, also faintly familiar. Looks to be in his late 20s or early 30s, perhaps. I glance up at the TVs on the wall, not really paying attention to what is on them. I glance back at the man. He gives me a quick nod, as if to say, "What's up?" I nod back. I down the rest of my lemon drop as he makes his way over and sits next to me.

    "Can I get you another one of those? You look like you could use it."

    "Thanks; that would be awesome."

    He gets the bartender's attention and orders another lemon drop. He looks back at me. "So, what in the world could be bringing down such a sexy guy like yourself? And don't give me a shitty excuse like, 'the world is ending,' because that actually was supposed to happen today and didn't."

    I chuckle at his comment. "Why does it matter?"

    "Because I care. That's why it matters."

    "You just met me."

    "I just know that everyone needs someone to talk to every now and then. And who better than someone who doesn't know you, hasn't formed their own opinions, and comes to you with an open mind?"

    The bartender returns with my drink, and I take a sip. "Fair enough. I'm Brad Palovich."

    "James. James Briscoe." He flashes the most beautiful smile I've ever seen.

    I shake his hand, and instantly recognize whom I'm speaking to.

    I glance down at his knees. "Looks like you got those grass stains out."

    -------

    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  38. #38
    ForeverSingle+Unloveable 72-Jay's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Another good chapter
    A possible new friend for Brad? Maybe someone he does know afterall?
    I'll have to wait til my other computer is on to watch that YouTube vid...

  39. #39
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Brad is not having a good week. Even his best friends are unresponsive due to their entanglement with their girlfriends. Hopefully James Briscoe will be a good sounding board for him. I'm really curious as to how Brad knows him. They must have wrestled on some grass to get those stains.... More lemon drops can help as well. Keep up to the good work, AG.

    Craiger
    Last edited by Craiger; March 22nd, 2013 at 08:31 PM.

  40. #40
    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    I think all your questions about the new guy will be answered in the next part, which I'll post tomorrow!

    72, have you watched the YouTube video yet? It's a remix of the song "Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)" by Kylie Minogue. That's what I envision is playing at the bar when James approaches Brad. Perhaps that's foreshadowing a bit. If I were to ever make this a movie, that would be the song I'd want playing.

    Thanks as always for the comments. Look here tomorrow for Part 16!
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  41. #41
    ForeverSingle+Unloveable 72-Jay's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Yep just watched it ... I've got YouTube up on the other computer while checking JUB on my main one
    I might have to find a download for that song LOL

    Sounds like part 16 should be good when we find out more about the new guy

  42. #42
    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    The wait is over! Part 16 is below. Next part gets posted on Wednesday. Enjoy!

    Part 16

    James looks like he just had an epiphany. "That's why you look so familiar! You helped me up after I took a fall trying to catch that damned Frisbee."

    "Yep, that would be me."

    "So if I can make an ass of myself and not feel embarrassed, you should have nothing to worry about with me."

    I give him a look and tilt my head to the side. "I guess we'll see."

    He takes a swig of his beer. "So, do you go running in Volunteer Park often?"

    "I go occasionally. I was there Monday for a quick run, but I don't think I saw you."

    "No, I haven't been this week. My Frisbee guys have been a bit flaky."

    "They all have their own boyfriends?"

    "Yes - well, all except one, but he's straight, so he doesn't count."

    "So that makes two of you without boyfriends, including yourself?"

    There's that smile again. "Yes, I guess you could say that."

    "And why would that be?" I take a sip of my lemon drop.

    "I take the time to get to know someone - really get to know them. My friends have a tendency to jump into relationships way too quickly. And just as fast as they jump in, they crawl out."

    "So you haven't found anyone suitable in a while?"

    "Right. I'm hoping to change that tonight."

    I can feel myself start to blush. "Me too." I then start thinking about Stan and all of my other boyfriends, but I really focus on Kelly. That memory is far too fresh.

    James must have caught the sad expression on my face. "Is that why you're looking so down? Some callous fucker broke your heart?"

    "You guessed it."

    "Sacrilege! What's his name?"

    Oh boy - er, girl. "Kelly."

    He gives me the same look that Eric and Rick did when I told them about my weekend jaunt.

    "Kelly? Well, I guess that can be a guy's name." James looks deeper into my eyes, and a few seconds later, says, "It isn't a guy, is it?"

    All I can do is down the rest of my drink.

    "To tell you the truth, I wasn't quite expecting that."

    "So why aren't you running away?"

    "Running away would be extremely hypocritical of a gay man, don't you think? Here we are, demanding that mainstream society accept us for who and what we are. It wouldn't be right of me to not give someone else the acceptance they deserve after demanding it for myself."

    I just sit there and admire him for a few seconds. "Wanna get out of here?"

    "I'd love to."

    He drinks the last of his beer and we walk to the door. He opens it and waves me through. Such a gentleman.

    We walk down Madison St for half a block before he says, "So, you're gonna have to tell me more about this Kelly."

    "What would you like to know?"

    "How did you meet her?"

    "At another gay bar, actually. My two best friends and I went out to celebrate R-74 passing. And this woman just came up to us."

    "Why would she assume you were straight if you three were at a gay bar?"

    "Well, my two friends are straight, so she must have thought I was, too."

    "Ah. Guilt by association."

    "So she comes up and flirts a little with us, then she walks away. Next thing I know, my friends have evil, sadistic expressions on their faces. I ask them what's up, and they remind me of all my past relationships with guys that failed. They make a deal with me to ask her out. I do, and then I feel bad about the whole thing, so I feel obligated to actually go out with her."

    "Wow, with the amount of digging you did, you should be in China. Where did you end up going?"

    "This Japanese restaurant downtown. It turned out to be really good. And then we went back to her place, one thing led to another, and she shoved her hand in my pants."

    "And then what?"

    "That's the last thing I remember."

    He glances at me as we keep walking. I give him the best excuse I had come up with so far. "The drinks were strong."

    He chuckles. "Well, if that's all it takes to get you into bed, then I should have no problem!" I just roll my eyes.

    We turn the corner and walk to a small park. We find a bench and sit down. He continues, "So, obviously, something must have gone awry."

    "Yeah. That same night - completely by accident - I invited her to a weekend trip I planned. My mom was coming to visit, one of my friends made plans to go the same weekend, and the other friend joined at the last second. And both of my friends brought dates."

    "Wow, that's a hell of a lot of people."

    "And add one more - the last person on Earth I'd want to be there."

    "Mitt Romney?"

    I snort. "My ex-boyfriend, actually, who I didn't know would be there until I got there and my friends told me."

    "That's a recipe for disaster fit for a Paula Deen cookbook!"

    "Tell me about it. Everything goes pretty smoothly and I'm almost out of there until I accidentally run into my ex-boyfriend just as we are on the way out. And of course, he makes a big scene and the truth spills out."

    "Well, you had to know it was going to happen eventually."

    "In the back of my mind, yes, I knew. I guess I was just trying to delay the inevitable."

    James takes a very deep breath. "And I really can't fault you for that. I've had moments when little white lies get out of hand. I've learned my lesson though: best to live life with everything out in the open."

    I yawn and stretch out my hands. "I think you're right. Much simpler that way."

    "Did your mom at least take it well?"

    "You know, I was worried for a while. She had always been cool about my being gay for pretty much my entire life, but she was very silent after that incident. But she reassured me that she loves me and that the incident hadn't changed anything between us."

    "That's great to hear." I yawn again. James continues, "How'd you get here?"

    "We walked from the bar; don't you remember?"

    "No, smartass; how did you get to the bar?"

    "I rode the bus."

    "Well, you look tired. You've certainly been through a lot. Come on, let me take you home."

    "No, James, that's OK, really."

    "Come on. If I was in your position, I wouldn't want to ride a bus home late at night and alone." He tilts his head and gives me puppy dog eyes.

    I give in. "Fine."

    He gives me a big smile. "Great; let's go."

    We stand up and start walking toward his car.

    "So, where do you live, Brad?"

    "Near Lake Union."

    "Oh good; you're on the way."

    "How about yourself?"

    "I'm in Fremont."

    "Nice; I don't get up there too often."

    "Well, when you get the chance, perhaps you can come up to visit me."

    We reach his car; he unlocks it and we get inside. "Really? You want me to come visit?"

    He fires up the car and we drive off. "Sure, why not? You seem like a pretty nice guy, and your lips look so kissable."

    "I’m not sure you'd want to kiss these lips. They might still have pussy juice on them."

    He chuckles. "I've tasted worse." I chuckle, too. He adds, "So, where were your friends tonight when you were going through all of this?"

    "They already had dates planned with their girlfriends."

    "And they neglected you in your time of need? I'm sure they're all right, but if I were them I would have stuck by your side tonight."

    "Well, I'm glad we ran into each other then."

    He looks at me and smiles. "So am I. You can tell them you had a date, too - or rather, somewhat of a date."

    I give him directions to my place as we get closer. We eventually pull up outside the entrance.

    "Brad, I'd like to go out again - on a real date this time. Here's my card. Give me a call sometime."

    "That sounds good, James."

    He reaches across and we hug for a few seconds. I say into his ear, "Thanks for rescuing me tonight."

    We pull away, and he flashes that smile again. "You didn't need rescuing - a boogie board, perhaps, but not rescuing."

    I open the door and step out. "I appreciate it anyway. I'll give you a call."

    "Take care, Brad."

    "You too." I close the door and walk to my front door. I unlock it and open the door to head inside. I look behind me and he's still waiting to make sure I get inside OK. I wave to thank him for the gesture, and he waves back and drives off.

    I head inside, lock the door, and turn on a nearby lamp. I glance at his card. It reads: James Briscoe - Law Offices of Briscoe & Feldman.

    -------

    Also I'm getting a bit carried away with the YouTube music videos but they do a really good job of setting the mood of the story.



    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  43. #43
    ForeverSingle+Unloveable 72-Jay's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Sounds like Brad might have just met a really nice guy

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    Re: Brad's Search

    I'm liking James Briscoe and I think Brad may be as well. Calm, collected, just all around nice guy. Brad needs and deserves it right about now. He best not wait too long to make that phone call...

    Craiger

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    Re: Brad's Search

    Thanks as always for the comments, guys. Other readers - feel free to comment! I want to know people are enjoying the story!

    Sorry for the small delay in getting this next part posted. I've been working on some other stuff today and made a few last-minute edits to this part. It's all ready to go, so here you go!

    Part 17

    I walk into the Starbucks where Gary and I had planned to meet. He waves me over to his table. I set my coat onto the chair and go up to order my coffee. As soon as it's ready, I grab it, walk back to the table, and sit down.

    "Where's Harry?"

    "I'm not sure. I tried contacting him this morning, but I think he and Julia are sleeping in or something."

    I take a sip of my mocha.

    "What did you end up doing last night?"

    "Just went out to the bar."

    There are a few seconds of silence.

    "Brad, I'm so sorry. I really wanted to be there with you. I did. It's just - things are really delicate with Gina because of how everything went down with Kelly."

    "It's all right, Gary. Don't worry about it."

    "Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?"

    "Well, you could - I don't know - meet someone who could very well become a boyfriend."

    Gary gives me a wide-eyed expression. "You met someone last night?"

    "Kind of. I actually met him very quickly for the first time when I was out running. But I saw him again last night and we sat and talked and he sounds really interested in me."

    "Brad, that's fantastic!"

    "I bet you feel a lot less guilty now, right?"

    "Yes! So what's his name?"

    I start blushing when I say his name. "James."

    "Oh, I can see you falling in love already!"

    "Hush. I am not."

    Gary snickers. "What does he do?"

    "He's an attorney."

    "Whoa there, mister gold-digger!"

    A few people look our way. I shush Gary. "Sorry," he whispers.

    "At least I think he's an attorney. He gave me his card last night and it's for a law firm."

    "Why don't you call and find out?"

    "Call a law firm? On a Saturday?"

    "Some are open on Saturdays. And so what if voicemail picks up?"

    I shrug and pull out my phone. I dial the number on the card, and someone picks up. "Good afternoon. Law Offices of Briscoe and Feldman. This is James speaking."

    "James, hi, it's Brad."

    "Brad! Good to hear from you! How are you?"

    "Erm, I was wondering if…"

    "…Yes?"

    "…Is there any legal recourse for an ex-boyfriend who single-handedly wrecked a relationship of mine and quite possibly also the ones of his two best friends?"

    I hear James chuckling. "I wouldn't think so, but I'd have to check with the expert just to make sure."

    "Expert? Don't you own the law firm?"

    "Me? A lawyer? Hell no. My dad's the lawyer; I just help out around the office."

    "Oh, I just looked at your business card and-"

    "Yeah, sorry. I guess I should have explained."

    "That's all right."

    "So, is there anything else you wanted to ask? Preferably something not law-related?"

    "Well, I've been thinking, and I'd like to take you up on your offer. A date with you sounds wonderful."

    "Awesome! Give me a second to look at my calendar. We've been pretty slammed with gay couples wanting to come in and square things away before they get married."

    I look at Gary and give him a cheesy grin. He gives me one back.

    James comes back on the line. "All right. Looks like I'll be free Tuesday evening, and I don't have to go in until late Wednesday morning. How does dinner on Tuesday sound?"

    "Tuesday should work just fine."

    "It's a date, then! How about I pick you up around 6? I'll make the reservations - all you have to do is dress up and look cute, which I'm sure will be absolutely no problem for you."

    "Erm, all right."

    "Heh. Don't worry, Brad; you and I will have a great time. I promise."

    "OK. 6 on Tuesday. I'll see you then."

    "Sounds good. Take it easy."

    We both hang up. Gary looks at me and snickers.

    "What?"

    "If you two hook up, I totally know who's bottoming."

    I reach across the table and slap Gary on the arm.

    * * * * *

    The rest of the weekend is relaxing and goes on without a hitch. Monday morning rolls around and I head off to work. Today we're doing a few group interviews to select developers and testers for our client's big project.

    I step off the elevator to the sight and smell of donuts and coffee. Eric is walking around setting down packets of papers in front of each chair at our central meeting table.

    "Oh, Eric, you sure know how to make me happy." I reach for a donut.

    Eric slaps my hand away. "Don't touch those. Wait 'til the interviewees get here."

    "It's Monday. You know I can't wait that long."

    Eric laughs. "Give me a moment and then we'll run down and grab something together." He finishes with the packets and quickly checks something on the laptop. We head to the elevator and run to the Starbucks on the corner. We place our orders, grab everything when it's ready, and sit at a nearby table.

    "Anything exciting happen this weekend, Eric?"

    "Nothing too out of the ordinary. My wife's parents are staying with us through Christmas day tomorrow."

    "Oh, I completely forgot about Christmas. Did any of our applicants cancel because of the holidays?"

    "I made sure to ask on the application if they would be in town and wouldn't mind coming in on Christmas Eve. No one had any objections so we're in the clear."

    "That's good to hear. It must be nice to have family around."

    "It is. Everyone seems to complain about in-laws, but mine are just fine. Go figure. Anyway, how was your weekend? Better than the last, I hope?"

    "Yes. By leaps and bounds. I ran into someone at random a couple of weeks ago, and I met him again Friday night. He gave me his card and we have a date planned tomorrow night."

    "Hey! That's awesome! You excited?"

    "Very."

    "Well, one piece of advice: don't screw this up by trying to date another woman."

    "Don't worry; I'll leave that to you and all the other straight and bi guys in the world."

    Eric gives me a smirk. We finish up and head back to the office.

    * * * * *

    The group interviews go fantastically. Everyone impressed us with their skills and talents so much that Eric and I decide to hire all of them. We plan to call them tomorrow morning and start everyone on the 3rd. We close up everything and head to the elevator.

    "What do we do until the 3rd, Eric?"

    "We talk to the client and get all of their project details squared away. That way we can figure out a game plan before everyone shows up to work after the New Year."

    "That's it? This project manager thing doesn't sound as hard as I thought it was."

    "It's pretty easy, as long as we keep the client happy. Anyway, you did some great work today. We definitely waited too long in promoting you to this position. We should've done it much sooner."

    "I'll take that as a compliment."

    "I hoped you would. Anyway, let's meet up tomorrow around the same time and we'll do a conference call with the client and get started on that. What time is your date with James?"

    "At 6."

    The elevator reaches the ground floor and we step off.

    "OK, no worries. We'll be done way before that. Everything sound good?"

    "Yep. See you tomorrow."

    "Bye, Brad."

    Eric and I part ways and I head home.
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  46. #46
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Brad heads home on cloud nine...... What's with working on Christmas Day? Shame on Eric, he should have given Brad the day off....
    James is a nice breath of fresh air. Good thing Gary goaded Brad into making that phone call. Let the romance begin..................

    Craiger

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    Re: Brad's Search

    I get the feeling neither Brad nor Eric are very religious, if at all. Christmas isn't a very special day for them. However, the company they work for would never be heartless as to make them work on New Year's Eve or Day, which we'll see below...

    Also, I'll be out of town next week, and I'm running out of written material (haven't written in a while), so I plan to post the next parts on Monday & Thursday next week. Happy reading!

    Part 18

    Eric and I sit in our company's conference room. We've been having a video conference call with our client. They are a lesser-known casino based in Las Vegas, Nevada, and they think an overhaul of their technology will boost their customer base and profits. They want us to build an all-in-one customer relations management system that also handles their players' club, hotel reservations, and dining reservations. We don't know if that will actually help them increase their profits - that's not our area of expertise - but we sure as hell can build what they want.

    Eric closes the call with the client. "I think that's all the information we need right now. If you think of anything else, feel free to call anytime." Eric then terminates the call.

    "So, how long do you think something like this will take?"

    Eric takes a deep breath and thinks for a few seconds. "Our company has never worked on something quite this big before. It's hard to tell, but they need it in three months, so we're gonna do it in three months."

    "Wow. Way to put the pressure on."

    Eric laughs. "Sometimes we work best under pressure. Going forward, though, I think it would be a good idea if we stick together as co-managers for this team."

    "You think that's a good idea with all of your other projects?"

    "Sure; I can handle it. I'll stick close by on this project with you to make sure everything goes smoothly. Trust me, I wouldn't want to be alone on this project either."

    "Thanks, Eric."

    "No problem. Well, mister, you have a date to get ready for. I won't keep you any longer."

    "OK. I'll let you know how it goes."

    "Later, mister."

    * * * * *

    I rush home and head inside. It's been a long time since I've been on a date - a date that I'm actually excited about, that is. I head to the bedroom and dress up just as James instructed.

    My phone buzzes. I check it, and it's a text from Gary: Good luck on your date tonight! I text back: Thanks! I hope I don't screw this one up, too. A few seconds later, Gary texts back: Don't worry. You won't.

    I hear a car pull up on the street. I look outside of my window and see it's James. He steps out and starts to walk up to the door. Damn, he looks sexy. He reaches the door and rings the bell.

    I open the door.

    "Good evening, Mr Palovich. Care to join me for dinner?"

    I snort. "What's with the manners? What happened to the James I knew before who was cursing up a storm left and right?"

    "I don't know - I've always wanted to open a date like that. There can be something really sexy about a polite gentleman."

    I step outside and lock the door. "Oh, don't get me wrong; it was sexy. I was just worried you became a Puritan on the way here."

    He laughs pretty loudly. "Fuck no."

    "Now that's the James I recognize."

    He reaches his hand out to me and I take it. We walk to his car and he opens the door for me. I thank him as I sit inside. He gets in the driver's seat, fires up the car, and we're off.

    "So, where are we going?"

    "Only the best restaurant in the whole world - in my humble opinion, that is."

    We head south on Aurora Ave and turn onto Roy St. We make a few more turns, and then we turn into the parking lot of a restaurant called The Melting Pot.

    "Here we are!"

    We get out and enter the restaurant. James walks up to the host. "Good evening. I have a reservation under Briscoe."

    "Sure; right this way."

    James and I follow the host to our table. We sit and take a look over the menus, and I notice an electric burner in the middle of the table. "Oh, it's a fondue restaurant."

    "Yep. It's an interesting concept for a restaurant, but it works really well. You'll see."

    Our server approaches our table. "Good evening, gentleman. My name is Steve, and I'll be taking care of you tonight. Have you ever been to The Melting Pot before?"

    James speaks up. "I have a few times, but it's his first time."

    "Well, I'm glad you chose to come here. May I get you something to drink?"

    I quickly glance at the drink menu, and then turn to the server. "What's this Yin & Yang like?"

    "It's made with white chocolate liqueur and vodka, mixed with some ice cream, and topped with chocolate shavings."

    I look at James. He says to me, with the most serious expression, "It's like an orgasm in your mouth." I look back at the server, who just nods and smiles.

    "I guess I'll get that, then."

    The server winks at me. "Good choice." He turns to James. "And for you, sir?"

    "An orgasm sounds really good right about now. I'll get one too, Steve."

    "Excellent. I'll give you a chance to look over the menu and I'll be right back." Our server walks away.

    "So what do you usually get here?"

    "I spring for the four course - cheese, salad, entrée, and dessert."

    "Oh, God, that sounds like a lot!"

    "You watching your figure? Because you totally don't need to, Mister Sexy."

    * * * * *

    Four courses and two Yin & Yang martinis each later, our check arrives.

    "I've got it."

    "James, you don't have to."

    "Nonsense. Plus, I need some way to guarantee a second date. You can cover the next dinner." He slips some cash into the folder. He looks up at me and smiles, and I give him a smirk.

    "Fair enough. Thanks, James."

    We both get up and head for the exit.

    I grab James's arm. "So, where to now? Somewhere around the city?"

    "Nooo. Not yet, anyway. Let's wait for these drinks to wear off."

    We step outside and see the top of the Space Needle peeking over the buildings across the street. James looks at me. "You thinking what I'm thinking?"

    I nod. "Let's go."

    We walk the few blocks to the Space Needle, purchase tickets, and head up the elevator. The staff member rattles off a few facts about the Space Needle and surrounding area that I knew and no doubt James also knew, simply because we had lived here and ridden to the top so many times already. The elevator reaches the top and we step off and head outside.

    Wow! It's certainly a bit nippy when you're 520 feet up in the air on a December night. I cross my arms to keep warm. James takes off his jacket and wraps it around my shoulders, then wraps his arm around me. I look at him. "Do you bring all your dates here?"

    "Only the really cute ones."

    I chuckle. "So, tell me more about your dad's law firm."

    "Oh, boy. Let's see… He was going to law school when I was about 4 or 5. He bounced around a few different law firms. He had huge ambitions; he wanted to work on cases much larger than his firms could handle. Eventually another attorney here took him under his wing and they opened up a firm together. They became Reynolds and Briscoe."

    "So who's Feldman?"

    "You're getting ahead of me."

    "Oh, sorry."

    "Don't be; it's OK. Anyway, I was going to college when Feldman showed up. Remember how I said my dad had huge ambitions?"

    "Yeah."

    "Well I mean huge. Like, Erin Brockovich huge. He got involved in a case so big that the firm sought out another attorney, who turned out to be Marcus Feldman. Dad even asked me right after my junior year of college to take a year off and help with the case. One year turned into another, and that year turned into another..."

    "Did you ever go back and finish?"

    "Not yet, but I still plan to. At any rate, that case is now over - has been for a few years - but Dad keeps taking on more and more. He's great at what he does - he's just a bit of a workaholic. So the Reynolds guy retired after that big case, and now we're known as Briscoe and Feldman."

    "Wow. That's quite the history lesson."

    "Sure is. How about you give me yours?"

    "Well, I'm now a project manager for a technology company. Got promoted about a week ago."

    "Congratulations!"

    "Thanks."

    "So what do you do as a project manager?"

    "We were contacted by this casino in Vegas. They want us to build them this huge system that interconnects all the various aspects of their business."

    "Seems complicated."

    "It's not too bad. It's the reason I was promoted though. I'm working with another coworker who's been a project manager for a while, and we start on everything right after the New Year."

    "Sounds almost like what happened with my dad and the Reynolds guy. Except with computers."

    "Yeah, I guess so."

    "Speaking of which, what does your dad do? I don't remember you mentioning him when you told me about the weekend your mom came to visit."

    "He's, er, passed away."

    James tilts his head to the side and pulls me in closer. I continue, "He died about five years ago. He was in the Air Force - flew helicopters."

    There are a few seconds of silence. James continues, "I'd like to hear more about what he did. Perhaps some other time."

    "Sure."

    "Well your mom sounds pretty awesome from what you told me Friday night. I'd love to have the chance to meet her."

    "Were your parents accepting of you when you came out?"

    "Not at first. Surprising, I know, especially for parents who grew up and live in the Pacific Northwest. But they eventually came around."

    "That's good that they eventually did, though."

    A big gust of wind suddenly blows. I shiver, and James rubs my back and torso vigorously to keep me warm. "Come on; let's head inside. Don't want you turning into a rainbow popsicle."

    We head inside and down the elevator. We make our way to James's car.

    He turns to me as we walk. "Do you have any plans for New Year's?"

    "Not at the moment. If I was still talking to Kelly, I would probably be spending it with her. But I'd much rather spend it with you, if you're up for it, that is."

    "Of course I'm up for it. I was planning to catch the fireworks at the Space Needle. I can't think of a better way to celebrate, or a better person to celebrate with."

    "Oh, come now, James."

    "I mean it. I'm being honest here. You're so unashamedly yourself. You have no problem being out in the open and saying, 'This is who I am. Take it or leave it.' I admire that."

    "I'm just glad you haven't run away yet."

    "I wouldn't. Finding someone like you is pretty rare."

    We reach his car and get inside. We head back to my place, and he pulls up along the curb when we arrive.

    "Well, James, thank you so much for an amazing night."

    "No, Brad, I have you to thank. It's been a while since I had a good time like I had tonight. And I'm looking forward to New Year's with you."

    "Same here."

    I reach across and give him a hug, and he gives me a kiss on my cheek.

    "Take care, Brad."

    "You too."

    I step out, walk to my door, and unlock it. I look back and wave goodbye. James waves back and drives off.
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

  48. #48
    ForeverSingle+Unloveable 72-Jay's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    James seems like a great guy so far.
    Things are going good for Brad right now

  49. #49
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Nice! A lovely dinner with a server that winks at his customer and a dinner companion whose sexy and down to earth. Nothing nicer than a gallant gentleman that offers his coat on a chilly December night atop the Space Needle. One who's quick kiss on the cheek reassures that he is in willing to take things slowly. And one that is gentleman enough to wait for his date to safely enter their apartment. Boy, do I need someone like James in my life. Brad better make to most of this sweet guy.

    Hope your out of town plans are conducive for a bit of writing, but if not we'll still be here waiting. Thanks AG.

    Craiger

  50. #50
    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Dec 2005
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    Biloxi, MS
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Yikes! Got caught up with lots of good stuff last night and today. But I have just under 1.5 hours til midnight, so at least I'm not posting late!

    Seems like good things are happening to both me and Brad. Perhaps I should keep writing, then.

    Part 19

    The rest of the week goes smoothly. Eric and I have a roadmap all planned out for getting our project done by mid-March.

    "Enjoy the extra-long weekend, Brad. See you on Thursday."

    "You too. Happy New Year."

    Gary and Harry feel a little guilty for abandoning me last weekend, so we all head to Cooters on Saturday.

    We all grab a table, and Gary and Harry lean in. Gary starts. "I am dying to hear how your date went, Brad. You've been so evasive every time I ask you about it."

    "I know, I know. I just don't want to get my hopes up."

    Harry frowns. "Why not?"

    "It's just unbelievable how well things are working out so far."

    "No, Brad. It's unbelievable how well things worked with Kelly. Neither Harry nor I know how you pulled that off."

    "Me either."

    "So what has you so worried about James?"

    "He just seems cool with everything. Almost too cool."

    "How so?"

    "Well, I told him about the weekend with Kelly, and he didn't run away."

    "And that has you worried that things won't work out?"

    "It just seems too perfect. Like I'll get my hopes up and all of a sudden everything will come crashing down because I'm expecting too much."

    "Whoa, Brad, slow down. You're not marrying the guy tomorrow. Just take it slowly and see where things go one day at a time."

    I take a deep breath. "All right, I guess I can do that."

    "Do you and James have any plans for New Year's?"

    "He wants to watch the fireworks at the Space Needle."

    "That's a great idea! Gina mentioned wanting to do that too."

    "I think I can get Julia to tag along. Want to make it a triple date?"

    "I don't see why not."

    We catch up on other things while we wrap up dinner. We pay the check and get up to leave.

    "I'll call you when James and I get to the Space Needle and then we'll meet up from there."

    "Sounds good. See you then."

    I head home and relax the rest of the night. The next morning is all about cleaning house and getting everything in order. No better way to start the New Year than a fresh, clean beginning.

    I take a break in the middle of everything to give James a call.

    "Hey Brad! How's your day going?"

    "OK. Been cleaning up mostly and taking care of other things. You?"

    "Just taking it easy this weekend. Dad wanted us at the firm to get all these client details in order before the year ended. We were there till the late hours of the night, but we got it all done."

    "That's good to hear. Well, I wanted to ask you if it's all right if Gary, Harry, and their girlfriends join us for New Year's tomorrow."

    "Yeah, that's fine. I'd be delighted to meet them."

    "OK. I said I'd call them when we get there, and then we'll meet up."

    "Did you want me to pick you up, and then we'll just take one car to get there?"

    "That sounds good."

    "All right, Brad. Anything else?"

    "No, I guess that's it. I'm really excited about tomorrow."

    "Me too. It'll be a great time. I promise."

    "I know it will."

    "I'll call when I'm on my way."

    "OK. I'll see you then."

    We hang up.

    * * * * *

    I had a pretty fitful night of sleep. The same thing always happens when I first meet someone really nice and cute. And when I start falling in love. So I do what I always do when that happens: pop in every romantic comedy I own.

    I fall asleep in the middle of Serendipity and wake up around 10 in the morning. I have nothing better to do, so I rewind it to the last scene I remember, finish it out, and start watching another one.

    I lose track of time, and don't realize what time it is until my phone rings. It's James.

    "Hey Brad. I'm going to start heading your way in about half an hour. Is that OK?"

    I look at the time. "Wow, that's a bit early."

    "I can come later."

    "No, that's OK. But can you make it 45 minutes? I still have to shower."

    "How about I make it 15 and we can shower together?"

    I chuckle. "Nice try, Mr Briscoe."

    "Hey, no harm in trying. I'll leave in 45 then."

    "Sounds good. See you when you get here."

    I hop in the shower and wash up. I get out and dress as I watch the last few minutes of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Right on cue, James pulls up and rings the doorbell. I shut off the TV, get up, and open the door.

    "Hey, come on in."

    James steps inside, and I close the door. "Nice place you got here."

    "Thank you. Been having it for almost a year now. My lease is up in February."

    "Are you going to renew?"

    "I haven't decided yet."

    James taps his chin with his finger a few times.

    "Can I get you anything?"

    "Oh, no thanks. I'm fine."

    James walks to a shelf where I have a few framed photos. "Hey, this is a really nice picture. Is that your mom?"

    "Yeah. Gina took that picture of her when we went to Mount Rainier a few weekends ago."

    "Who's Gina again?"

    "She's Gary's girlfriend. You'll meet her tonight. And you'll meet Harry and his girlfriend, Julia."

    "Wow, I hope I can remember everyone's names."

    "I'm sure if you were Erin Brockovich, you wouldn't have any problem."

    James laughs. "And Gary and Harry's names rhyme. That's going to be really confusing."

    "I promise, once you meet them, you'll be able to tell them apart easily."

    "I hope so."

    James turns, walks to the couch, and sits. I follow suit.

    We sit there in silence for a few seconds. James stares into my eyes, then finally speaks up. "Brad, I just want you to know how happy I am that we ran into each other again."

    I smile. "I am, too."

    James leans forward and places his hand on my knee. "You look nervous."

    I take a deep breath. "I am."

    James leans back into the couch. "Why?"

    I take another deep breath. "You really want to know?"

    "Yeah."

    "All right. I guess I've just been through a lot emotionally recently."

    "With Kelly?"

    "Well, yes, but also with my ex-boyfriend."

    "How long ago did you two break up?"

    "Let's see... It was just earlier this month. It seems like it was further back."

    "...And?"

    I look at James. "You want the whole story?" He looks at me and shrugs. I turn and look out the window.

    "Brad, you don't have to worry about me judging you. I'm not that kind of person."

    I look back at him. "How can I be sure?"

    "I'm still sitting here."

    I look into his eyes for a few seconds. "Good point. OK, here goes. He came home one day and asked to marry me."

    "And you said 'no'."

    "Right. We had been dating for about ten months before that."

    "So why'd you say 'no'?"

    I sigh. "His parents found out about us living together, and they don't really approve of him being gay. Once they found out, they stopped paying his tuition and he couldn't afford to finish his degree."

    "Wow, that sucks."

    "Yeah. He started going out and staying out late at night. I never knew where he went. He even stopped going to class, but didn't tell me. I found out from one of his classmates. Who knows? He may have been cheating on me. He always came home after I had gone to bed, drunk most of the time. He just stopped caring. I don't want to marry someone who just doesn't care anymore. He just walked out after I told him I didn't want to marry him."

    James just sits, pensive. He eventually speaks up. "Can I ask you something?"

    "Sure."

    "Well, let me first say that I think your decision not to marry him was sound. It's disappointing that he walked out of the relationship because of that, but that's a decision he made."

    "Right."

    "So my question for you is: How much did you want him to stay?"

    I take a deep breath. "Well, I didn't want him to leave. I wanted to work through it, I guess."

    "You guess?"

    "What was I supposed to do, James? I couldn't support both of us financially. He couldn't get a job because of his class schedule. It just wasn't working without his parents' financial support."

    "What about your emotional support? Were you there for him emotionally?"

    "I tried to be. I mean, I have my own job, my own friends, and my own life. I can't be there for him all the time."

    "Not even when he needed you during that difficult time in his life?"

    "It was just hard to be around him when all that was happening. Nothing seemed to be going right."

    "And so you gave up on him."

    "No, I didn't give up. I just didn't want to be around him like that. He brought me down."

    "So is that the same reason why your best friends weren't with you the night I found you in the bar?"

    I sit there, stunned. A light bulb turns on in my head.

    "Wait a minute. You think they intentionally avoided me?"

    "Hey, I didn't say that. I just know they weren't with you when you needed them most. And it seems like you three are inseparable from what you've told me. I just find it surprising that you weren't their first priority after all the shit went down with Kelly."

    "So you think I did the same thing with Stan?"

    "I can't answer that question. What do you think?"

    I just sit in silence for a few seconds. "You're right. Maybe I wasn't around him as much as I should have been. Oh God, James, I was such a horrible boyfriend to him."

    "Whoa, whoa, whoa, Brad. I wouldn't go so far as to say 'horrible'. Don't beat yourself up. We've all made mistakes in the past."

    I look up at him. "God damn it, James, why aren't you running away from me?"

    He looks at me with a very serious expression. "Because I ran away from a boyfriend of mine once. It was probably the one thing I most regret doing. But you know what? No matter how hard we try, it's impossible to go back and change the past. The only thing we can do is make different decisions. Better decisions. And hopefully someone else will give us a second chance. That's why I'm not running away."

    We sit there in thoughtful silence for a few seconds. Had I really been that bad of a boyfriend? Did Gary and Harry hurt any chances of Stan and I staying together? Did they make the same mistake I did when they chose to spend Friday night with their girlfriends instead of with me? I don't have all the answers, but James has helped me become aware of the questions.

    James leans forward and shakes my knee. "Come on. We should get going."

    I scoot closer to him on the couch, wrap my arms around him, and we embrace for a few seconds.

    "Thank you, James, for listening."

    "Anytime."

    "What am I going to do about Gary and Harry? How will I know if they were intentionally avoiding me? If they are my true friends?"

    James puts his hand on my shoulder. "I'm sure you'll find a way to get your answer soon."

    I let out a sigh. "OK, let's go."
    Brad's Search - 70,000 words and counting!

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