12 Months of Braeden – July

Takes place after the series

He’d made a mistake. It wasn’t one he’d made today or even last week…well, maybe last week. For months, he’d known that the handle for the closet needed to be fixed, but he’d let it go, promising he’d fix it later. Well, later had come and gone, and now he was stuck in his closet with no one home to help him get out.

To top it off, he was naked as the day he was born, save for the lanyard he wore around his neck that carried his cell phone in it. He’d needed his hands free and didn’t have pockets since he wasn’t wearing clothes. The lanyard with the clear plastic pocket he’d gotten at a conference nearly a year ago had seemed like the perfect solution. And it was, for most of the day. But now, he’d wished he had thrown a screwdriver in the pocket instead of his phone. Then maybe he’d have been able to get himself out of his current bind.

On the other hand, at least he could use his phone to call for help. Assuming he got a signal in there. Some of the places around the house were better than others. As he pulled the phone out, he crossed his fingers that the closet was some kind of hotspot and not a dead zone.


Full bars. Braeden hadn’t expected full bars. Now he knew where to go if he had to make an important phone call while he was at home. It would be great for privacy, too, now that he thought about it.

“Okay, who should I call? I don’t want to interrupt Andi’s girl’s trip. That would be the worst possible scenario.”

Andi and the girls had been like giddy school girls counting down the days for their special trip to Washington wine country. They’d been planning the adventure for over a year. He wasn’t about to call her and ask her to drive back over the mountains because he’d done something stupid. But he needed to figure out who the hell he was going to call quickly before he had to go pick up his adorable daughters from their play date with Gabriel and Savannah’s kids.

“Who has a key to the house?” he asked himself as he tried to pace from one side of the closet to the other. The distance was far too short to really do anything for his anxiety.

Oliver might, but he knew Declan did for sure.


He would have to call Declan, who was enjoying a nice quiet day at home while his sons were also over at Gabriel’s. Aside from Andi, her brother was the last person he wanted to call. He had no doubt his brother-in-law would be pissed for the interruption. Especially to help free Braeden from a situation of his own making.

But he didn’t have a choice, which meant he needed to bite the bullet and make the call. Pulling up Declan’s number in his contacts, Braeden took a deep breath, then pressed the call icon.


“Is that any way to answer the phone?” Braeden asked, forgetting for a moment that he needed to sweet-talk Declan into helping him, not piss the man off.

“Why are you bothering me? I’ve got the house to myself for the first time in months.”

“I know, man, and I’m sorry, but I need your help. Before you ask, no, there isn’t anyone else who can help. You’re the only one with a key to the house.”

Declan let out a litany of swear words before finally relenting with a grumbled fine. Braeden knew he would owe his friend big time for interrupting his day.

“What do you need?”

“I tripped and fell into the hall closet, and the door closed behind me, and you know how your sister has been giving me grief about fixing the door handle, well I haven’t, and now it fell off, and I’m stuck in here and I can’t get out, and I have to pick the girls up…”

“For fucks sake, Braeden. I didn’t understand anything you just said. Take a breath and try that again, or I’m hanging up.”

Braeden sighed. He knew Declan had understood everything he said, but he wanted the slow version of Braeden admitting he was wrong and that he’d messed up. If he didn’t know any better, he’d accuse his brother-in-law of recording his confession.

“Fine. I didn’t listen to Andi, and now it’s biting me in the ass. I’m stuck in the hall closet, and there’s no one here to help me. I need you, Declan,” Braeden said in the sweetest voice he could muster. “Are you happy now? Will you please just come over here and let me out?”

Declan laughed a lot harder and longer than Braeden thought necessary, but he couldn’t say he wouldn’t do the same if the situations were reversed. Once he was done, he agreed to come over, then hung up without saying goodbye. It felt like hours went by before he could hear the front door of his house open, but looking at his phone, he knew it was only fifteen minutes. He was finally close to getting out of his prison, and he couldn’t wait to hug his friend for rescuing him.

The door swung open a couple of minutes later, revealing Declan in all his grumpy glory. Braeden took a step toward him, his arms out, ready to grab him and pull him in for the bro hug when Declan’s face contorted, and he took a step back.

“Why the fuck are you naked?”

“Duh, cause it’s Nude Recreation Week, and I was just about to go outside and get some sun, do a little meditation, read a book. I just had to grab one of our outdoor blankets from in here, and I’ve been stuck here ever since.”

“What is wrong with you? Why didn’t you at least put on one of these coats while you were waiting for me? I don’t want to see this shit.”

Braeden laughed. “If I put on a coat, I’d look like one of those flasher perverts. I’m not a pervert. I just enjoy celebrating the finer things in life, like random national holidays. I think the better question is, why weren’t you enjoying Nude Recreation Week at your place.”

“Because I’m not a crazy person.”

“I’m not…”

“I’m out of here. Please give Oliver a key, for fucks sake, so I don’t ever have to see this again. I feel like I need to go bleach my eyes out.”

Before Braeden could respond, Declan was slamming the front door behind him, the picture frames along the hallway wall rattling with the impact. If Declan knew anything about what it was like to enjoy a clothing-free life, then he wouldn’t have dismissed Nude Recreation Week so quickly. Instead, he would’ve taken the free day as an opportunity to let it all hang out. While his brother-in-law had changed a lot since marrying Brooklyn, he was still a giant fuddy-duddy who hated fun. 

Someday Braeden would break him of that mentality.

Someday, Declan would stop being a grumpy old man and enjoy life. Braeden would make sure of it.