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Because many of you asked for it, from A Love for Micah I’ve created Jerry’s HEA. It starts a year before the Micah’s epilogue in chapter 7 and ends at the same time, 10 years after Randall’s passing.
It’s relatively shorter (only five chapters) and sweeter: no monkey wrenches, twists and turns, trigger warnings or heart pounding anticipation of what comes next. Just two people falling in love and trying to navigate what that means after losing their one true love. A feel good love story. There might be some tears, but good ones! Micah and Jo show up sporadically the same way Randy and Jerry showed up in Micah’s story.
It’s a slow burn, love story first with sexual scenes in between. I hope you enjoy it! As usual, let me know your thoughts!
~~~Part 1~~~ Jerry and Marshall meet at a grief support group.
The first thing Jerry noticed when he came into the meeting room at the local community center that first week in September was the brown skinned man with the green eyes. His hair was short cropped, at least an inch of curly black hair at the top with a fade along the sides, and onyx earring studs in both ears. He wore a wedding ring, a simple white gold band. The man stood against the wall with a styrofoam coffee cup like he didn’t want to be there.
Jerry thought to approach him but he knew better. He was a scared rabbit and if you approach the scared rabbits first, they run off and never come back. So instead he went to talk to Patricia.
“Hi, Pat. How are you feeling today?” he asked her. “I know last week was rough with the anniversary and all.”
She smiled at him. “Thanks, Jerry. Yeah it was rough, but having his family around to share that grief with, it meant everything. You were right. I’m so glad I accepted the invite and went over to their home. I’m so grateful for this group.”
He put his arm around her. “And we’re grateful for you, Pat. You’ve been a wonderful support.”
Jerry felt a hand on his back and turned around. “Hey Cody! Back so soon?” They hugged tightly.
“Yeah, man,” Cody said happily. “It was awesome. It was like… a breath of fresh air. The Philippines is beautiful. I’m definitely going back. Especially since…” He winked.
“Uh-oh,” Jerry said playfully. “What’s her name?”
“Tia,” Cody admitted. “But it’s not like the last time. She’s an amazing girl who is here as an au pair, and she’s not looking for a green card. Her family is well established and comes from money.”
Jerry looked skeptical but kept his comments to himself. Cody had become one of his best friends and he knows how sensitive he can get. “Tell me about her after the meeting. You’re leading tonight. Let’s begin.”
Jerry looked around the room. It was about ten people all together, outside of himself and Cory, which was a nice size. But he knew it was because of the holidays coming up, people tend to seek out support more. He clapped his hands. “Can everyone come to the circle please? It’s time to begin.”
The participants sauntered over, the scared rabbit being the last one. He sat down and kind of slouched, avoiding eye contact. Cody sat next to him opposite of Jerry. They gave each other the nod. Cody began.
“My name is Cody Stoltzfus, across from me is Jerod Perchinsky, and this is BASE: Bereavement And Support Ensemble. I see we have some new faces in the crowd…” Cody smiled at the new guy who did not smile back, “… so let’s introduce ourselves first, and then whoever wants to start can start.”
Cody took a deep breath, ran his hand through his blond hair and said, “My wife, Ruth Stoltzfus died six years ago in a car accident. We grew up Amish and were together all the time. We fell in love as children, married by 18, and she was dead by 21. I have one daughter, Hannah, who is my whole world and the only reason I didn’t try to follow my wife into the grave, because I sure as fuck would have. I left the Amish and my family because they didn’t understand my grief. Now I have a Masters in Social Service and I help people full time understand their own grief and trauma as a therapist.”
He looked around the room as he finished, then turned to the left of him instead of toward the rabbit on his right. This was planned, so that he would go last. Mark and Kimberly were next. Mark, as usual, spoke for her.
“Hi, I’m Mark and this is my wife Kimberly. We lost our daughter to the opioid crisis last year. She had been battling with addiction since she was 14 years old and it finally took her at 24. We’re raising her three children, Rebecca, Allen and Christopher. They keep us going, you know? Kim, do you want to say anything?” he asked his wife. Kim shook her head and looked at the person next to her.
But Jerry spoke first, “Mark? What’s your daughter’s name? Say her name.”
Mark looked at him for a moment as his wife’s eyes started welling illegal bahis up in tears. Jerry sat in the silence with them. Finally he said, “Jamie. Jamie Callahan.”
Jerry nodded at him, then spoke to the next participant. “Sorry Pat, you can go now.”
“I’m Patricia and I lost my husband Dale Baker to a heart attack two years and three days ago. We didn’t have any children.” She looked over at Sophie.
“I’m Sophie Cuberlo and my husband Isaac Curbelo committed suicide 19 months ago.” She said it matter of factly.
It was Jerry’s turn. “I’m Jerry Perchinsky and my husband, Randall Blake, died nine years ago this past August.” Jerry saw the rabbit’s face snap up and look at him in disbelief. Since he got his attention, instead of looking around the room, Jerry spoke to him.
“One of the first things he told me when I met him on the other side of the world was that he was a cancer survivor but one day it was going to come back and take him, and he said it would be up to me if I wanted to be a part of that. I fell in love with him in three days, left Chicago to follow him back to his hometown of Harrisburg and became a part of that. His death wasn’t shocking, but still painful. We were together for nine years, married for eight and had a son and a daughter together, eleven-year-old Oliver and eight-year-old Randall.”
The rabbit wasn’t looking so scared anymore. He was looking at him intently and Jerry noticed he sat up a little straighter. Jerry realized he was staring into his green eyes longer than what he intended and turned to his left. “Jacob?”
Jacob sighed with his arms folded. “Jacob Green and I’m not a twin anymore. My brother Jeremiah Green was shot and killed in front of me six months ago. I’m not past the anger stage.” He too looked over to the blonde woman on his left.
“I’m Jessica Byrne and this is Aaron Byrne,” she said. “Our oldest son died in a prison fight four weeks ago.”
Aaron spoke, “Honestly, we hadn’t seen him in so long this group is a little pointless for us, but our marriage counselor recommended it, so here we are.” Jessica glared at him but Aaron was nonplussed.
Everyone looked over at the raven haired woman. She spoke hesitantly. “I’m Rachel. I just lost my husband and three year old daughter in a car accident 36 days ago.” Her eyes immediately welled with tears. Patrica got up and handed her the box of tissues that was next to her. “Thank you,” she said gratefully.
“What were their names, Rachel?” Cody said gently.
“Scott and Alfrida Rhodes. We called her Alie.” Rachel broke into sobs. The rabbit looked over with disdain and slouched again.
Louise, the gray haired woman who was sitting next to her, rubbed her shoulders as she spoke about herself. “Louise Sutton. My Charles died seven months ago from lung cancer. He had just retired from the police force a year before. It was sudden and aggressive, but we were able to say goodbye. I have four adult daughters, three married and one in a domestic partnership, and all with families of their own.” She turned to the rabbit. “Your turn, sweetheart.”
He sighed and sat up straight again, moving his hands around as he spoke. “I’m Marshall Harrison. My husband and partner died two years ago from prostate cancer. Also sudden, also aggressive. His name was Brenden Fuller. He had a son when we met years ago from a previous marriage and when we got married I adopted him, so Memphis is my son now. He’s eleven, turns twelve in December. Together we have a daughter, Freya. She’s six.”
He leaned his elbows on his knees and clapped his hands together once. “What else do you want to know?”
“What brings you to us now?” Jerry asked.
He rolled his eyes. “Because my sister dragged me up here from Baltimore after I lost my job and made me, Breezy and Boogie — that’s what we called Freya and Memphis — made us move up here with her. And when I got here she told me I wasn’t okay and I need to talk to someone. I’m not going to therapy, fuck that shit. So a grief counseling group was what we agreed on.”
“Well we’re glad you’re here, man,” said Cody sincerely. “Just so you know, we don’t force people to speak, we only do introductions when someone new joins the group. Say as little or as much as you want. Say nothing at all. Sometimes sitting in the silence with our thoughts and feelings is healing, so we meditate once in a while and practice deep breathing in pairs. You’re part of our ensemble now, so if you need us, we’ll be right here for you, every Wednesday night from 7pm to 8:30pm.”
“Yeah, thanks man,” Marshall mumbled.
Cody turned to the group. “Who wants to start?”
Patrica spoke about going to her husband’s memorial service and how welcomed they all made her feel after she disappeared on them for the last year. Jessica and Aaron discussed marriage counseling which was not going well. Louise illegal bahis siteleri talked about attending a baking class to keep busy and the women started a conversation around the best recipes which took up a lot of time. But Jerry and Cody let them, especially since Rachel was engaged, the first time she hadn’t cried through the group since she began three weeks ago and although Kimberly didn’t speak, she was definitely listening and nodding along.
Jerry kept an eye on Marshall, partly because it was his role as group facilitator but also because he couldn’t help it. Marshall was very attractive. He was slightly darker than his late husband, more milk chocolate than creamed mocha latte, and appeared biracial. While Randy’s hair was kinky-curly, Marshall’s hair loosely coiled.
His eyes were wide so from across the room Jerry could see the green sparkle in them. He had a heart shaped face with a thin beard along his jaw line that didn’t connect to the thin mustache above his full lips. He looked to be in his early to mid 30’s.
He was distant but not completely disengaged. Guarded. He listened to everyone else respectfully, and smiled when something funny came up, like when Sophie was hit on at her son’s parent-teacher conference by a single dad who approached her and said, “Well, I’m here! What are your other two wishes?”
Marshall had mumbled with a smile, “God that’s awful,” making them all laugh again.
At 8:30pm Cody called it. They stood up and held hands and together said the words written across the wall of the small room, “May we have the grace to live in the questions, knowing we don’t have all the answers.” Some others, including Jerry, continued by saying, “Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”
Some turned to each other and hugged. Patrica, Louise, Rachel and Jessica huddled again to discuss recipes. Aaron and Mark gravitated toward each other and began talking. Kim walked out silently to wait for her husband in the car. Cody, who had taken a liking to Jacob, started a conversation with him before he ran out like he typically does.
Marshall stood up, looked around and lost. He picked his cup off the floor and went to get some more, but grabbed a cover on it to close it up. Before he could run out Jerry walked over to him and met him by the table. “Hi, Marshall. I just wanted to introduce myself to you personally. I’m Jerry.”
Marshall looked up and gave him a small smile. “Nice to meet you, Jerry. And I should confess, I kind of know who you are.”
Jerry was surprised. “Really? From where?”
“Well, indirectly. My older sister is a nurse at Lancaster General, where you work as an administrator. They all speak highly of you over there. She’s the one that told me you run this group and to check it out. She didn’t tell me you were gay, though. She thinks she’s so smart.” He chuckled to himself.
“That’s flattering to hear that the nurses speak highly of me. But the only time I get involved with doctors or nurses is if there is some kind of issue or grievance against them. I hope our paths didn’t cross in that way,” Jerry said, concerned.
“Oh, I don’t think so. I think she just knows of you, sees you around and thinks that you’re genuinely a nice person. She says you greet everyone when you walk in, treat everyone as equals, no matter if you’re talking to a doctor or an orderly.”
“That’s nice. What’s her name?”
“Winifred Harrison. They call her Nurse Winnie. She’s on the 5th floor, red wing.”
Jerry nodded. “Nurse Winnie. I’ll have to go thank her for promoting my group. Well, I hope you come back next week, Marshall. And if you ever want or need to talk in between that, he’s my card.” Jerry handed him the small paper like he does with all the new people that come into the group.
Marshall took it but said, “I’m going to be honest here, I don’t think I will. It’s been years since Brenden died and I’m okay. Me, Boogie and Breezy, we’re doing just fine.”
“Okay,” Jerry said gently. “I get it. I just know for me, the first couple of years were the hardest. I went through all the motions, I did the grief therapy thing and I thought I was fine too. And then I wasn’t. I needed something to ground me so I started attending a grief counseling group two years after he died.
“But I’m also a bit of a control freak and I didn’t like the way it was run. It was fine for what it was, but it was too therapeutic and counseling-like, and didn’t give people the space they needed to just grieve. So two years ago Cody and I decided to start our own group and here we are. We actually wanted to tailor it to men but we find that women are more inclined to seek grief support. So anyone can join, men, women, couples, anyone.”
Marshall nodded in understanding. “Yeah, you have a ragtag group of people here. But they’re all good people, I can see that.” canlı bahis siteleri He sighed. “Right now I need to focus on finding a job and a place to live. I love Winnie but I can’t stay at her place. She’s ten years older and more like a mother to me than my sister so I need to have my own space.”
Jerry nodded back. “What kind of work do you do?”
“I’m an aeronautical engineer.”
“Wow, that sounds like a really important job.” Jerry smiled at him.
Marshall smiled back. “It just means I draw and tinkle with plane parts a lot.”
Jerry laughed and Marshall found himself laughing too. He noticed how handsome Jerry was, thick, dark brown hair with strands of gray in them, strong jaw covered in the beginnings of a five o’clock shadow, a sultry, deep voice and green eyes similar to his own. He was tall, 6’1 at least, and muscular, he could tell through his button down shirt. Marshall had always been attracted to older men, and Jerry was no different. He had to be in his 40’s, a good 10 years older than him possibly. He was different than his late Irish partner, the only other White man he had been with, but had the same aura about him: mature, interesting and confident. And hot.
Marshall surprised himself with these thoughts. He hadn’t thought about seriously being with another man since Brenden died and it was beginning to trouble him. Random hookups were one thing, but actually being interested in someone else was not what he wanted, maybe not ever again.
“I have to get going. It was really nice to meet you, Jerry.” He held his hand out to shake.
“Nice to meet you too, Marshall.” He shook his hand back.
They stared at each other and Jerry felt the instant attraction between them but as he has done for the last nine years with anyone he felt an attraction to he brushed it off. Jerry let go first. Marshall looked at him a bit longer then turned to go. Jerry couldn’t help it. He watched him walk away in his slim fit jeans molded around his peach shaped bottom, and noticed he was slightly bowlegged, giving him a sexy gait. Jerry watched him walk through the double doors.
“Hmm?” Jerry’s eyes snapped up abruptly and turned to Cody who he just noticed had approached him. Cody looked at him and gave him a closed mouth smile. “What?” His friend began to giggle, then laugh openly. “What?” Jerry asked with a smile.
“I don’t have to be gay to know what that look meant.” Cody laughed.
Jerry shook his head with a smile. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Uh-huh,” Cody said, unconvinced. “Let’s lock up the room and grab dinner. The kids are with Cass and Eric?”
“No, it’s a Jewish holiday tomorrow and they’re with Randy’s parents so I’m a free man. Be my dinner date?”
Cody put his arm around his friend. “Always.”
Shut up, Bren.
But he is… You know it. St. Peter knows it too.
You’re not with St. Peter. You’re in my head.
Sorry. But you’re not real. We both know it.
Doesn’t make what I’m saying untrue.
Marshall smiled in his sleep. Okay. He’s hot.
And you have a lot in common. Both gay widowers. Raising children, one boy and one girl. Brilliantly beautiful green eyes.
I don’t date green eyed men.
Dream Brenden scoffed. You don’t date at all, Marcy.
I date here and there.
You fuck here and there.
Well that’s dating to me. That’s how we dated, or did you forget?
Hmmmm, how could I? We dated for three days and three nights straight when we first met.
Marshall smiled again. You wouldn’t leave my grandmother’s house.
You wouldn’t let me leave. We barely made it downstairs to the kitchen to eat.
God, I miss you, Bren.
I miss you too, Marcy. But back to Mr. Handsome. It’s Wednesday. You going back tonight?
Marshall audibly groaned with his eyes closed. Do I have to?
Yes. You’re not okay.
Yes, I am. It’s been two years. I’ve accepted your death and I’ve moved on. I don’t need therapy or grief counseling or a group to talk about my feelings.
Did the Good Lord tell you that? Dream Brenden asked with his eyebrow raised.
I don’t know what you all want from me. I’m showing up every day for Boogie and Breezy. I took them to school, went to work, made meals and kept our family going for two years. I had one incident at work and all of a sudden I’m not okay?
Marshall, you assaulted your supervisor, Dream Brenden scolded him.
Eh. It was a little push.
Okay, I lost my cool. I know. But he just…ugh. I don’t want to talk about this right now.
Then go to group and talk about it there.
Do I have to?
Yes. They seem like good people. They will understand what you’re going through. And it helps to have a little eye candy there too.
Marshall shook his head in his dream but agreed. Okay. I’ll go. He sighed. Time to get up now.
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