She sighed.

"Go on, Angel, say it."

"It's all been said, baby. I just hate to see you leave."

"Well, I may not take the job. What if I don't like Tyrese James, or the job doesn't feel right to me?"

"Oh, honey, I know you want to leave home. If you don't go to work for Tyrese, you'll keep on looking for another job somewhere else."

He put down his coffee cup, reached across the table, and put his hand over hers. "You know I love you and Dad. But I can't live at home forever."

"You lived in Kent for four years when you were at the University. And you were in Ann Arbor in law school. I understand that you're fully . . . what is the word?"

Cedric grinned. "Fledged?"

Her smile warmed him. "Yes, that's it. You're a man, you've got a law degree, you've passed the bar exam. But you're still my boy."

"Even if I take the job, Colby's not that far. I can come home on weekends sometimes."

She stood, so he stood, too.

She picked up their cups and saucers and turned toward the kitchen.

"You'd better be on your way. You don't want to be late for your interview, and you'll need to allow for traffic."

"Uh huh. I know how long it takes to get to Colby. I drove past there often enough on my way to and from Ann Arbor."

"You will be back this evening, won't you?"

"Nothing was said about my staying over. If he wants me to stay around for supper, it could be latish before I get back. But I'll call you and let you know how the interview went."

"Give your Mama a hug."

Cedric giggled. "Don't go all Aunt Jemima on me."

As they hugged, she kissed him on the cheek.

"Drive carefully, Cedric."

"I will, Angel."

* * *

Cedric did indeed know the way to Colby. He drove down the hill, got onto Chester, and followed it to the Innerbelt, which he took to I-90 and thence to the Ohio Turnpike.

He drove westward on autopilot, thinking about the change he was contemplating.

Angel didn't want him to leave. Like most mothers she'd have been happy for her only son to go on living in his apartment over the big garage behind their house. His father had told him he was welcome to stay there, too, working in the Jones law firm for as long as he wanted. But Cedric didn't really like the work. Jake was using him as a gopher/law clerk. He had no opportunity to interact with clients, to really practice law. Some day, of course, there might be that possibility. But who knew how long?

Besides, he didn't really know anyone his age in Cleveland any more. His university friends had long since moved on. Trey and Chaz were in Richmond. Markie was in Cincinnati, also a lawyer. And had married his housemate, a redheaded cellist with the Cincinnati Symphony. A male cellist! Whoever would have thought? The one of them who was resolutely straight! Apparently the apple didn't fall so far from the tree after all. Maybe Mark in college had been determined to resist what he saw as his heritage from his "Pops."

Another reason for leaving Cleveland was that the Jones' house in Shaker was only an hour away from the campus where Tim still taught. Still lived -- happily according to Trey and Chaz -- with the Rev. Max. No reason why they should ever have to see each other. He had not, in fact, seen Tim or Max, since his return to Shaker Heights from Ann Arbor. But he'd feel more comfortable if there were more space between them. Cleveland wasn't that big a city. And he and Tim tended to frequent the same events, the same spots. He didn't know how he'd react to seeing Tim . . . to seeing Tim with Max. He didn't want to bump into them at a concert or a restaurant and find out by accident.

Alone in the car, Cedric sighed audibly. Tim! He only waited five months . . .

* * *

The man behind the desk, Tyrese James, was black. Not just "African-American" but definitely black. As contrasted, for example, with Cedric's own golden brown color.

He was well over six feet tall, handsome, broad-shouldered with a narrow waist. His shaved head glistened. In his ears were small studs that Cedric was sure were diamonds. By looking carefully he saw other small indentations elsewhere in the ear that had to be piercings, though at the moment they were empty of bling.

Today he was wearing a tailor-made suit of charcoal with a muted lighter gray pinstripe, a dove gray shirt, and a gold tie with tiny blue dots.

"I admire your father. Jake and I have worked together on several Ohio Bar Association and National Bar Association committees. He's a fine lawyer and a fine man."

"Yes, sir, he is. But thanks for saying so."

"According to your CV you've been working for him since you graduated from Michigan Law."

"Yes, sir."

"Must I call you Mr. Jones?"

"No, sir. That's Dad. I'm Cedric. As you know."

"If you take this job, we'll be working closely together. You may as well start calling me Tyrese."


Tyrese gave him a look, and Cedric grinned.

"Why are you thinking of leaving your father's employment?"

"No disrespect to my father. I love him. He's always been a great dad. But I need to be away from Cleveland. And from what Dad told me, this job would allow me to work more directly with clients, maybe even get some courtroom experience."

"It would that. I'm not sure how much I told Jake or how much he told you. But although I live in Colby my office is here in Toledo. Sorry, I suppose that's pretty obvious. But the point is a while back I opened an office in Colby. I have a paralegal there, and she's good. I've been trying to spend some days there and some here, but that's not working." He smiled. "The Colby office is busier than I anticipated."

He set down the folder that contained Cedric's CV.

"I realize I need an attorney in the Colby office full-time."

"That's pretty much what Dad said."

Tyrese looked at the folder on the desk but didn't pick it up.

"You made Law Review, huh?"

"Yes, sir. Uh, yes."

"You're gonna have to start calling me Tyrese sooner or later."

"Right. Tyrese." Cedric grinned.

"There's an unexplained hiatus in your schooling. You graduated with your bachelor's in May and didn't start to Michigan until the following January. May I ask what you were doing?"

"I was recuperating from an accident. Not long after commencement I was a victim of a hit and run. There was some physical damage, which healed fairly quickly. But I was left with what turned out to be retrograde amnesia. When I woke up in the hospital, I knew who I was, but there was a gap in my memory. I couldn't remember anything that had happened to me in recent months. I still hadn't regained that part of my memory when I was supposed to start law school in the fall, so the doctors suggested I stay home. My memory came back in October, and I was able to enter in January. I've always been grateful to U of M for holding my spot."

"With your record, they were smart to keep a place open for you. But I have a follow-up question."


"What do your doctors say about the amnesia? Is there any possibility it'll return?"

Cedric took a deep breath and expelled it. "They won't rule out the possibility. But every indicator they have says the damage is gone and they assure me that it's highly unlikely to recur."

"Have they put it in terms of percentage of risk?"

"Only reluctantly, after Dad and I pushed them. They say the chances are about 90% against recurrence."

Tyrese smiled. "I can live with those odds." He looked at his watch. "What say we take a trip out to Colby?"

"Fine by me."

"We'll have some lunch and then I want to show you the Colby office and introduce you to Marty." He stood. "If you bring your car, you can leave from Colby and won't have to backtrack. Do you have a GPS unit?"

"Yes, sir."

Tyrese cocked an eyebrow at him. "That's good. Here's the address of Adrian's restaurant in downtown Colby. If you use your GPS, you won't have to tailgate me all the way."

They walked out of the office and took the elevator to the underground parking garage.

"I'll see you in about half an hour. Use the valet parking."

* * *

Cedric was surprised that Colby had a place like Adrian's, since it was a smaller city than Ann Arbor. The interior was quiet and elegant. White napery shone on the tables. The maitre d' was wearing a dark suit, the wait staff in black trousers, white shirts, and black four-in-hand rather than bow ties.

They were shown to a corner table chosen, Cedric assumed, so they could talk without being overheard.

Once they were seated and given their menus, the waiter asked for their drink orders. Tyrese asked for water, Cedric for iced tea. The waiter disappeared with a promise to be right back.

"Albert (he pronounced it the French way) is the chef here, and he's amazing. I think you'll be pleased with anything you order."

When the waiter came back with their drinks, they both asked for the salade niçoise.

"Would you tell me more about the kind of things I'd be doing if I took the job?"

"You'd deal with whatever comes in the door. Wills, conveyances, DUI's, divorces . . . As I said, just about anything. You'll find all kinds of people, but mostly they'll be either black or gay."

"How did that happen?"

Tyrese scowled. "You have a problem with that, Mr. Jones?"

Cedric chuckled. "No, Mr. James, I definitely don't."

The older man seemed to relax. "That's good. To answer your question, I live here in Colby, and I have a lot of friends. Word gets around."

Cedric thought for a minute. Word wouldn't have to "get around" that Tyrese was black. So, that must mean . . . . And the lightbulb went on. Cedric's gaydar was usually pretty good, but it hadn't pinged while he'd been with Tyrese.

The dawning of the truth must have shown on his face, because Tyrese grinned. "You understand what I'm saying?"

Cedric nodded.

"I may as well tell you. A few years back I very publicly dated a gorgeous tranny. So, as I said . . ." After a pause, he continued, "I assume Jake's practice has a mixed clientele."

"Well, I don't know about gays, but we serve mostly whites, though the proportion of black people seems to be growing."

"Will working with gay people present any problems for you?"

Cedric grinned. "Not unless they're bitchy queens."

Tyrese smothered a guffaw. "I can't promise some of them won't be. But it will be your job to serve their legal needs."

"You've figured out, haven't you, that I'm gay?"

"No need. Your father told me that. He said you'd been out for years. It's not a prerequisite for this job, but it's not a hindrance either."

The waiter brought their salads, a warm baguette, and butter. The two men turned their attention to the food. The tuna was perfect, and Cedric loved the crunch of the haricots verts.

"I'm sure there's a lot for a young guy your age to do in Cleveland," Tyrese said, buttering a piece of bread. "But since Colby's a university town, you could probably keep yourself amused here. I mean we have music, both classical and jazz. Theater, of course. Sports of every variety. A better-than average gay bar just down the street. And, I'm just guessing here, this is the most gay-friendly campus this side of Oberlin. But CSU is bigger and the gay population is bigger."

"Sounds good. How's the police force?"


"That's great. And unusual."

"Maybe if you take the job I can introduce you to a young sergeant I know on the Colby Force."

"Are you going to be matchmaking, Tyrese?"

"No. Ray's taken. His partner's a former fashion model. But he's a nice guy, and you'd enjoy getting to know both of them. And speaking of cops, the former chief of the Colby Police is now a Criminal Justice professor. He and his partner, also a professor, live here in town. Or just outside, actually."

"Sounds as if Colby is unusual as far as gay life is concerned."

"That it is."

Which was great, but Cedric wasn't sure whether he even wanted an active social life. If he got this job, he'd try to immerse himself in the work. Being social could lead to relationships, and he wasn't sure he wanted to negotiate that minefield again.

Just then a tall figure in a dark suit came up to their table. A stunning man in his thirties, he looked as if he could be a fashion model. Surely this wasn't the cop's partner.

"I hope you're enjoying your salads, gentlemen?"

"Adrian," Tyrese said, shaking hands without getting up, "it's good to see you. Let me introduce this young man. Adrian Lynch, meet Cedric Jones."

Cedric started to stand, but Adrian gestured for him to remain seated. But he did offer his hand.

"Cedric, welcome. I hope this is the first of many visits you'll make to our humble establishment."

This guy's smooth , Cedric thought. And there's nothing fucking humble about this restaurant.

Adrian released Cedric's hand and looked at Tyrese. "Would Mr. Jones be here to interview for the position you have open?"

Tyrese grinned. "Damn, Lynch! There really aren't any secrets in this town."

Adrian chuckled. "Not in the gay community, anyway. At least not many. But you can blame your partner for this security leak, if that's what it is."

"It's not a secret that I'm looking for someone to staff the Colby office full time. And, yes, Cedric's here so we can talk about the job. But I'm still gonna ream Digs a new one tonight. He has trouble knowing when to keep his mouth shut."

Adrian smiled and said, very softly, "So long as he knows when to open it." He put a hand on Cedric's shoulder. "Again welcome, Mr. Jones. Good luck with the rest of your interview."

A bemused Cedric said, "Thanks, Mr. Lynch. It's been a pleasure to meet you."

"You gentlemen should have the strawberry shortcake for dessert. The berries are exceptional this season, and Albert always has a special touch with les fraises."

Adrian didn't lie. The shortcake was the best Cedric had ever tasted, even better than Angel's. He suspected the chef had put a touch of liqueur in the berry mixture, perhaps Framboise.

When they had finished their lunch, Tyrese said, "You can follow me to the office. It's not far."

The two met again in a parking lot behind a three-story building on the edge of the Colby business district. The ground floor was occupied by an antique store. There was a separate lobby for the elevator to the upper floors. Everything looked clean and Cedric suspected it had been recently refurbished. The office of Tyrese James, Esq., Attorney-at-Law occupied the front half of the second floor. An insurance company had the rear office space.

When Tyrese opened the door, he stepped back and gestured for Cedric to go in first. Behind a desk facing the door was a tiny woman. When she stood, he guessed she was about five feet tall and couldn't have weighed 100 pounds. Her red hair was in an old-fashioned looking page boy. She wore glasses with black plastic frames and small rectangular lenses, a gray suit, and flat leather shoes. And, though her skin was good for someone who had to be in her forties, she didn't seem to be wearing makeup.

"Cedric Jones, this is Ms. Bott."

She came around the desk, gave him a quick and surprisingly firm handshake, and said, "How do you do, Mr. Jones." It was clearly not a question.

"It's nice to meet you, Ms. Bott."

"Anything urgent for me?" Tyrese asked.

"If there had been, I would have called your cell."

Not seeming to mind the brusqueness, Tyrese ushered Cedric to his office. Once they were inside, he shut the door. He gestured Cedric to a comfortable-looking chair facing his desk. He sat behind the desk.

"So, Cedric, what do you think of what you've seen and learned so far?"

"I'm intrigued with what you've told me. I admit I'm not familiar with Colby, but I'm happy in college towns, so I'd probably like it here. I'm just afraid I'd spend all my income at Adrian's."

Tyrese chuckled. Then he took a gold Cross pen from his jacket pocket, grabbed a sheet of paper from a drawer, and wrote on it. He handed the paper to Cedric.

"Would this be an enticement?"

Cedric looked at the figure written on the paper. "Yes," he said slowly, "it would. I shouldn't tell you this, but it's a bit more than I'd hoped for."

"Your record at Michigan was stellar, Cedric, as you know. And I don't think I could go wrong with Jacob Jones' son. Besides, I have a feeling you're gonna earn it."

"Just to be clear, does that mean you're offering me the job?"

"I knew that ten minutes after you walked into my office in Toledo."


"Does that mean you're accepting my offer?"

"Yes, sir. That is, Tyrese. Or should I call you boss?"

The older man grinned. "Tyrese is good. Boss sounds servile. I promise not to treat you like Step'n'fetchit."

Cedric chuckled. "Am I here at your pleasure, or shall we put something in writing?"

"Ah, spoken like the attorney you are. What about a year's contract for starters?"

"Sounds good to me."

Tyrese touched a button on his phone. "Marty, would you bring in that form I asked you to draw up, please?"

The door opened almost immediately. Ms. Bott laid the contract on the desk of her boss, who gave it a quick look, signed it, and handed it to Cedric. After he'd read it through, Cedric asked a couple of questions about health insurance and other benefits. Satisfied with the answers, he took a pen from his own coat pocket and signed it. He returned it to Ms. Bott.

"Will you notarize this for us, please?" Tyrese asked the woman.

"Yes, I'll do that at my desk," she said. She turned to Cedric. "I don't fetch coffee." Then she turned and left the room.

Cedric tensed up. What had he done to prompt that?

Tyrese chuckled. "Don't mind her. She's run this place pretty much on her own since we opened it, and I think she's feeling shoved aside."

"Any suggestions on how I should approach her?"

"She's a jewel. She should have been a lawyer, and there's not much she doesn't know about running an office like this. So just be patient. She seems crusty, but she's good with clients, and she'll accept you eventually. Just never refer to her as a secretary."

"Good advice. Thanks."

"Now," Tyrese said, looking at his watch, "here is the number of a realtor I've asked to help you find a place to live. I imagine you'll want to hit the road back to Cleveland. But when you are ready to go looking, give him a call."

"How soon do you want me to start?"

"Yesterday." He kept his face straight for a moment before he grinned. "And when you come back to go apartment hunting, my partner and I want you to have supper with us."

"That's generous. I'll look forward to meeting him."

"Oh, you'll love Digby. Everybody does. He's . . . , well, you'll see."

* * *

Cedric went home that evening to tell his parents about Tyrese and the new job. And he remembered to say "Thanks, Dad" to Jacob for passing along the information about it, information he'd received when he'd last talked with the Toledo attorney.

He knew his father loved him, but he suspected Jake was less unhappy about his moving away than Angel was. Or perhaps he just understood better why his son needed to be out on his own.

The next morning he called the realtor whose card Tyrese had given him and set up an appointment for that afternoon. No sense in putting things off.

He told Angel he planned to stay overnight. Then he got a reservation at the Colby Inn for that night. From a service area on the Turnpike he called Tyrese James and told him he'd be in town that evening.

"Good! Glad you're not wasting any time. Call me when you're finished with Sam Crockett, and I'll tell you how to get to Digby's. He's fixing dinner. And wear shorts if you brought any along. We're going to a baseball game. You must like baseball. Didn't you play varsity ball at Kent?"

"Yes, I did. Um, thank you. I'm looking forward to dinner and the game." He wondered just how thoroughly Tyrese had checked him out. No, it was probably just something Jacob had mentioned.

Sam Crockett was a thin, forty-something guy with gray hair and a receding hairline. But Cedric liked him immediately. There was nothing of snake oil about the man. He was soft-spoken, knowledgeable, not given to a hard sell, and seemed to have a quiet sense of humor.

At first, however, he wanted to show Cedric houses.

"No, sir, I don't want to shovel walks or cut grass or tend a garden. I'm thinking an apartment or a condo. My contract is only for a year, and I don't know what'll happen after that. So I'm not interested in buying anything just yet."

"Well, I have a lovely condo that's available on a non-renewable one-year lease. Its owner is a Colby State faculty member who's going to be a visiting professor in Europe. She wants to rent her place to someone responsible." His eyes crinkled at Cedric. "I think you're a responsible person. At least Tyrese James vouches for you."

"Well, let's go see it."

It turned out to be a spacious two-bedroom condo in a fairly new building. It was on the edge of town, a short drive or a healthy walk from the law office. It should have been perfect.

"So, Mr. Jones, you won't even have to buy any furniture. It's completely furnished," Crockett said, smiling benignly.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Crockett, but no way! I couldn't live here."

"What's wrong?"

Cedric waved an arm, indicating their surroundings. "This woman's a collecting freak." There were shelves full of Doulton and Lladro figurines. Figurines covered the surfaces of the coffee table and end tables. There were, they discovered, figurines in both bedrooms. On the walls were ceramic souvenir tiles from touristy places all over the country.

"All these tchotchkes! I'd smother. Besides, I'd worry all the time that I might break something. What does this woman teach?"

"I don't really know, but I can, uh, see your difficulty. I just thought if the place appealed to you, you'd have a lot of space at a great monthly rate."

Cedric grinned at him. He couldn't blame the guy for trying. "Got anything else?"

"Sure do."

Three hours later Cedric was beginning to flag. He'd told Crockett he didn't want to be in any building that could be considered student housing, which ruled out several of the places the agent had had in mind. They'd been through some condos with two bedrooms, places that ranged from the grungy to the pristine, but nothing was quite right.

"Don't you have anything else?" a discouraged Cedric asked.

Crocket looked thoughtfully at Cedric. Then he smiled. "You don't plan to have noisy parties do you?"

"Nope. That's not my style."

"You wouldn't want to sublet, would you?"

"No. Can't see why I'd do that. Certainly not if I could get a one-year lease."

"Hang on a sec." Crockett took out his cell phone and scrolled until he found a number. A moment later he said, "Mr. Nielsen?" Pause. "This is Sam Crockett. I think I may have found just the person for that vacant unit in your building. He's a young attorney who's going to be running Tyrese James' Colby office, and he's looking for a two-bedroom unit." Pause. "Yes, we could come over now." Pause. "Yes, I have the key. Shall I bring him up if he likes it?" Pause. "Great. We'll see you in a while. Thanks."

Crockett drove Cedric to a new-looking multi-story building which had underground parking. The back units faced an area of the CSU campus which had lots of trees.

The unit in question was spacious, with an en suite master bath and another off the bedroom hallway. There was a large living-dining area, plus a kitchen with its own smaller eating area. A balcony was accessible through sliders on the campus side of the building. Since the apartment was on the third floor, there was a nice view of the campus through the sliders.

The walls were what Crockett described as "builder's magnolia," and the carpet throughout was decorator beige, but Cedric figured he could live with that. He'd had fun furnishing and decorating his apartment at home, and he knew he'd enjoy starting fresh with this one.

"This is perfect, Mr. Crockett, but I don't imagine I can afford it."

"If the price was right, you'd take it?"

"In a heartbeat.

Crockett whipped out his cell and pressed a button.

"Mr. Nielsen, he likes it." Pause. "Yes, we'll be right up." He pocketed the phone and turned to Cedric. "He lives on the top floor. There's just one thing I need to tell you about him."

Cedric waited.

"He's gay. He's half owner of the building. His partner lives in the other penthouse and is the co-owner."

"I'm surprised you thought you needed to mention his sexuality."

Crockett shrugged. "Well, I just didn't want you to be surprised."

As it turned out, Tom Nielsen wasn't a flamer and Cedric probably wouldn't have known he was gay. In his mid-thirties, he had lost most of his hair, but he was in great physical condition. His handshake was firm, and nothing about his appearance or the look of his condo suggested that he was gay. Except perhaps for the understated opulence of the place.

"I'm happy to meet you, Mr. Jones."

"Call me Cedric, please, sir."

"It's just Tom. Now, you like the unit Sam showed you, I hear."

"Yeah, it's great. Just what I had hoped for. But in this building with this location, I don't think I'll be able to afford it. Mr. James is paying me generously, but still . . . ."

"Where did you go to law school?"

"Ann Arbor."

Nielsen grinned. "Wolverines aren't too popular around here, but it's a fine law school. What have you been doing since you graduated?"

"Working in my father's law firm in Cleveland. I've been living at home."

"You don't look like the kind to throw wild parties."

"I'm not."

"I had a chat with Tyrese James while you gentlemen were driving over here. He tells me he has a lot of faith in you. If he does, then so do I. You see, we try to be selective about whom we allow to live here." He winked at Cedric. "Selective within the law, of course, counselor."

"Are you saying you do discriminate in some way?"

"Not the way you're thinking. We just want tenants who won't trash the place and won't bother their neighbors."

Cedric relaxed. "I can promise you I won't do either."

Nielsen smiled. "Then how about . . ." He mentioned a figure that was at the upper limit of what Cedric had been prepared to pay.

"Great! Would you mind if I changed the wall colors?"

"Not a problem. And we can work out something about the cost."

"How about you pay for the paint and I supply the labor?"

Nielsen looked thoughtful. "You know what you're doing?"

"I do."

"Okay, deal."

They talked about security deposits and related matters. Nielsen produced a lease agreement, which they signed, and Cedric had his apartment for a year.

* * *

Afterward he went to his room at the Colby Inn where he showered and changed into a polo shirt and long khaki shorts. He called his new boss's cell number to say that he'd found a place and was ready to come for supper. Tyrese had given him his partner's address, which he found easily using the GPS unit in his car. The house was a large brick two-story that looked as if it had been built in the 1940's.

Both men were also wearing polos and shorts. Tyrese had on sneakers, but his partner, whom he introduced as Digby Gautier, was wearing huaraches. Gautier had a couple of gold chains around his neck. Tyrese had added two gold studs to each ear since Cedric had seen him at their interview. In contrast to Tyrese's shiny dome, Digby wore cornrows.

The smell of ribs permeated the house.

"Cedric," Digby said, "we drinkin' beer. Dat okay with you?"

"Forget the ghetto talk, professor," Tyrese said, grinning, "Cedric ain't from the hood and he speaks perfectly good English."

Digby pretended to pout. "Oh, very well, I can be prissy if you insist."

Cedric laughed and sensed that he was going to enjoy the evening.

Which he did.

His host, he learned, was a professor in the University's music department and a jazz musician as well. Tyrese complained good-naturedly that he never got enough time with his partner because Digby's group had so many gigs.

"Not all of us can keep lawyers' hours," Digby retorted.

Cedric also learned that Tyrese had a condo somewhere in Colby so each could have privacy when he wanted it.

Digby asked Cedric about himself, but not in a prying sort of way. The subject of Cedric's amnesia never came up.

"Are you seeing anyone special?" Digby asked, almost too casually.

Cedric thought of Tim. And of Rick. And of the one or two casual affairs he'd had in Ann Arbor. Men who weren't Tim, and he sighed. "No."

"Well, Cedric, there are a lot of beautiful boys in this town. I'm sure you can find one . . . or several, if that's what you want." Cedric saw the glint in Digby's eye.

And he wondered whether his self-imposed monasticism had gone on long enough. Maybe he could find a nice guy. At least someone to hang with. But then that familiar voice warned him not to give his heart away again.

* * *

The baseball game was between a team from Colby and one from Higgins, a smaller town not far away. Cedric commented that amateur softball leagues were common, but that he didn't know of any other amateur baseball leagues. Tyrese said so far as he knew they were fairly rare.

It was a clear, warm evening, and the game was surprisingly well attended. Many of the people on the bleachers were relatives of the players, but there seemed to be a fair number of folk who'd just come to see the game, obviously enjoying the weather, the friendly rivalry between supporters of the two teams, watching the great American pastime.

Tyrese and Digby seemed to know a lot of the people in the stands, and Digby mentioned that several of the players on the Higgins team were "family."

"But don't get your hopes up, Cedric. They've all got significant others. Don't worry, though. You'll find somebody."

Although the game was close, the Higgins team won, much to the pleasure of the sizeable contingent of fans who'd made the short trip to the game.

"You up for a beer?" Tyrese asked as they left the park.

"Thanks for asking, but I should call my folks and let them know I've found a place to live."

"Yes, you should do that. I'm sure they'll be waiting to hear from you. When are you coming back?"

"Mr. Nielsen said he'd take care of setting up the utilities at the condo, but I have to find furniture for it. So I think I'll go home tomorrow and pack up all my clothes and some other stuff and then come back the next day to start furniture shopping."

"Call us after you get settled," Digby said. "There's a Colby institution we want to introduce you to."

"What's that?" Cedric asked.

"Yeah, what's that?" Tyrese asked.

Digby slapped Tyrese gently on the back of the head. "Nellie's, fool! What you thinkin'?"

* * *

With everything that had happened, Cedric found sleep elusive that night. But it was time to get out of his comfortable rut. Time to move on. And Colby seemed as good a place as any.

Thanks to Drew, Tinn, Mickey, and Tracy.