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August 1, 2016 Port Regal The Cline Residence Waiting had been the hardest part. The cancer, slowly eating away at the elderly Bryant Haliday, occasional moments of lucidity amid pain and fatigue. For the decades they'd spent apart, this last gasp of mortality had swept all the Clines together for the last few months of Bryant Haliday's life. Even Anna Cline, who'd spent fifty years angry at the man who had impregnated her, abandoned her, and then escaped into madness, had reconciled with Bryant at the end. She was with him on the last night, a night when Richard, Paige, and Will were home in bed with their memories. When the house phone rang, Richard and Paige woke up almost simultaneously. Richard rolled over and picked it up, guessing correctly who was on the line - and why she was calling. He reached over and squeezed Paige's hand as he heard his mother's voice - but she felt confusion from him like a backwash of the growing wave of grief, the two emotions mixing together. "He...what? Ma, you're not making sense, what-" He hung up the phone, blinking back sleep, and rolled out of bed for his clothes. "Something happened there, with Bryant. I gotta go."
Thanksgiving 2015 Freedom City Things were changing in the Cline household. Will was dating a nice girl out in California, a very pretty UCLA cheerleader and aspiring athletic trainer named Stormy Allen. The Clines had met the Allens, a lovely couple who worked in the back office of the Los Angeles Clippers, a few weeks earlier and it had been a very pleasant conversation. Stormy came from a big family, with three older brothers and two younger sisters, and so she'd invited Will to her traditional family Thanksgiving. He'd said yes - a big moment for Will and his relationship with this girl! This meant it was the first Thanksgiving for the Clines without the company of their oldest son. It was hard - but one thing about having a lot of hero friends was that they never had to be entirely without company. Richard was up first, as usual, especially thanks to all the work Paige had been doing the night before. His morning run took him around eastern New Jersey and almost to Baltimore before he came jogging back with coffee and doughnuts, about the time he saw the light coming on in Holly's room from outside. Holly had been getting up earlier too lately - just like her dad.