The Bears' Den
Chase Martin’s life has settled into a fairly normal routine as he approaches his thirties – a wife, three kids, and parents he can actually love. All that is about to change. First his dying mother drops a bombshell on him from her deathbed. Then his step father has more dramatic news. But the biggest unexpected news comes from his sister and his wife – about Chase, himself – and it will fundamentally change his life forever.
Casey Price-Howard’s entire life has been about changes to make it better. Being rejected by his birth family, he found a loving home with his new dads, Frankie and Josh. But the biggest changes of all, transforming his body into what his basic identity tells him it should be, is an on-going one. Despite all of these positive changes, seventeen-year old Casey still feels that something is missing from his life.
Welcome to the third installment of K G Follett’s “The Bears’ Den” series. This time we follow the lives of Chase Martin, a thirty-something man who is finding all sorts of surprises that are uprooting what he thought was his comfortable life. We also meet Casey Price-Howard, a late teenage FTM transsexual who is still trying to figure out his way in life.
A couple of chance meetings at The Bears’ Den Bed & Breakfast put these two on a path to an unlikely pairing that neither one is sure he is ready for. Will their growing feelings for one another be enough to kindle the passion they need to be together as a couple?
Coming out later in life with a family to consider, as well as the everyday struggles of trying to change one’s physical being to match what their brain is telling them they should be, are both addressed in this latest “The Bears’ Den” book. It is a roller coaster ride that ultimately ends in a HEA for both leading men and the new version of the families they already had.
* * PROLOGUE * *
“Come on! Come on!” Chase Martin implored as he pushed the elevator up arrow button for the fourth, fifth and sixth times. “Why do hospital elevators always take so long?” he grumbled. As he contemplated finding the stairway and climbing the seven flights of steps to the Oncology Unit, the elevator doors finally opened. Several people exited the car before Chase could enter, after which he began punching the “seven” button on the panel. The doors finally closed, and the car began its ascent.READ MORE
When the doors opened on the seventh floor, Chase bolted out of the elevator and headed for his mother’s room. As he approached her room down the long hall, he saw his sister, Fiona, and stepfather, LaMont, standing outside the room. He greeted Fiona with a hug, his lanky six-foot frame towering over her diminutive stature of barely over five feet. He looked over her head at LaMont.
“What’s going on? You said on the phone that her condition is much worse.” Chase’s voice was heavily laced with concern.
“The doctor said that the chemo isn’t working anymore. Her tumors are out of control,” LaMont explained. Worry and concern etched his face as well after months of vigil over his ailing wife.
“Isn’t there anything else they can do?” Chase questioned almost desperately, still clinging to his sister.
“I already asked,” LaMont responded with resignation. “They said she’s too far gone. All they can do now is try to keep her comfortable.” He reached over and put his hand on Chase’s shoulder trying to console him. “It’s what she wants, too,” he added.
Chase looked at LaMont as tears began to find his cheeks. He looked at Fiona and realized she had been crying as well. They were only two years apart, but he always looked after her as if she were his own daughter. He kissed his sister on top of her head and hugged her more tightly, as he looked back at LaMont.
“You said on the phone she was asking for me?”
“Yeah, she’s been fixated on talking to you since the doctor gave her the news earlier today,” Fiona related.
“Did she say what it’s about?”
“Not really. Just something that she feels you need to know before she dies.”
“Can I see her now?”
“The nurses are in there getting her comfortable, at the moment,” LaMont reported. “I’m sure you can when they’re done.”
A few minutes later, a nurse and an aid came out of the room and let them know she was ready for visitors. Chase reluctantly let go of Fiona and slowly entered the room. Even though he had seen his mother in her debilitated state many times in recent months, it was always a shock to him to see how pale and frail her disease riddled body looked. Her hair was mostly gone, and her eyes were sunken and dark. He gently took her bony hand in his.
“Mom? I’m here. It’s Chase.”
Rebecca Martin opened her eyes and looked up at her son. A faint smile passed by her lips, followed by a brief grimace of pain. Her smile returned as he looked at her son. “Hi, baby,” she said softly.
“Hey, mom. LaMont said you’ve been asking for me today.”
She smiled at her son. “I’ve been a bad mother,” she began. Her voice was barely over a whisper and her words came out slow, between labored breaths. “There’s something that I need to tell you. Something that I probably should have told you years ago … but I was too afraid to … because I thought it might hurt you. But now, it may change your life … hopefully for the better.”
“You’re a fantastic mother,” Chase assured her. “I know the early years weren’t so good, but we were all victims of that evil man. The things he did to me and to Fiona and to you were horrible. LaMont will always be my ‘father’. That man was just a sperm donor as far as I’m concerned.”
Rebecca sighed as she gave her son’s fingers a weak squeeze. “That’s what I need to talk to you about,” she began. “Your father.”
“Sam Jardine?” Chase looked confused. “What more do I need to know about the man who beat me and molested me for ten years of my life?” Chase tried hard to keep his emotions in check. But it was always difficult when the subject of his birth father came up. “I hate him, and I hope he rots in Hell …”
“He’s not your father,” Rebecca interrupted.
Chase froze, unable to continue speaking for a few moments. “What did you say?” he finally asked breathlessly.
“Sam Jardine is not your father.” She looked at her son with eyes begging him to believe her.
Chase sat back in his chair, trying to take in the news he had just been handed. He was not sure if he should be angry, relieved, confused, all of the above, or none of the above. Finally, he simply asked, “Why are you telling me this now?”
“Because soon I’m not going to be here for you anymore. And I know you have a wife and three of the most beautiful children in the world. I also know LaMont has done everything he could to be a good father figure for you over the past twelve years.” She took a breath and grimaced again from the pain.
Chase sat forward again, taking his mother’s hand in his. “Are you okay?”
Rebecca nodded yes. Appearing to summon up all the strength she had in her weakened body, she took a deep breath before continuing with a sigh. “You have another family out there. And with any luck, maybe a true father.”
“What’s his name?” Chase’s head was filled with so many questions. He figured knowing his real father’s name would be a good place to start.
“Alan. Alan Fritz.” She looked a bit wistful as the memory of this man swept over her. “I met him on a trip with some friends to Chicago not long after I met Sam. He was stunningly beautiful, an actual model. Reddish blond hair, muscular but not overly so. We were all drinking at the bars on Halstead Street. We were pretty drunk by the time we got back to my hotel room. One thing led to another and … well, here you are.” Rebecca smiled weakly at her son.
“Did Sam know?”
“No, I never told him. When I found out I was pregnant, we had already been dating several months. So, I let him think the baby – you – were his. And when it became obvious how violent he could become, that was the last thing I wanted him to know about you.”
“And Alan. Does he know?”
“He found out through one of our mutual friends. He contacted me and offered to ‘do the right thing’ for me and for you. But I told him no.”
“Why? You mean I could have had a real father who actually loved me all these years?” Chase was trying to control was seemed to be building anger within, not wanting to explode at his dying mother.
“I told him no because he’s gay,” Rebecca replied, looking away from her son.
Chase reeled from yet another bombshell thrown his way. “Wait, my dad is gay?”
Rebecca looked back at Chase and nodded affirmatively.
“So, he just walked away? He didn’t even fight for me?”
“Don’t be too hard on him. He was pretty devastated when I told him no. He tried contacting me several more times, but I remained firm in my decision. I was already engaged to Sam and I didn’t want to upset that apple cart. Especially for a man who couldn’t love me the way I needed to be loved.”
“So, you settled for a man who beat you and molested us instead.” Chase did not mean to sound bitter, but it slipped out by accident. He immediately regretted it.
Rebecca looked away. “I was only trying to do what I thought was right then. By the time I realized what a monster Sam was, I was already pregnant with Fiona.”
“I’m sorry, mom. I didn’t mean it to sound like that. This is just so much to take in.” He raised his mother’s hand and gently kissed it.
“I know,” Rebecca conceded, looking back at her son. “And I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.”
Chase sat back again, rubbing his temples and burying his face in his hands for a few moments. He then looked up at his mother, his chin still resting in his hands. “Have you heard anything from Alan again over the years?”
“He respected my request to let Sam be your father and disappeared from my life. The last I heard, he had moved to New York City to do more modeling.” She looked at her son, studying him for a few moments, a smile growing on her face.
“What?” Chase asked, suddenly self-conscious.
“You’re about the same age he was back then … twenty-six.” A smile came over her face as she observed, “You look just like how I remember him.”
Suddenly Chase’s life made complete sense to him. Why he and Fiona looked so different physically. Why, with his sandy blond hair and tall lanky build, he looked nothing like Sam Jardine. He needed to know more about Alan Fritz. He needed to find his family.
But first he needed to help his mom though these last days of her life. He needed to help Fiona and LaMont as well, as all their lives went through this transformation.COLLAPSE