Lincoln, The Family I Never Expected

Lincoln-19, Persistence

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Don't forget to read the author notes at the end of this installment!!

Just to help readers remember who is who

Main Characters
Garret Hamel (Age 30)-- foster parent of the 4 boys. 
Lincoln Barnard (Age 11)-- The oldest out of Garret's foster children
Ryker Barnard (Age 8)-- The second oldest out of Garret's foster children
Jacob Barnard (Age 7)-- The second youngest out of Garret's foster children
Clayton Barnard (Age 5)-- The youngest out of Garret's foster children
Supporting Characters
Rita Álvarez (Age early 60s)-- Housekeeper, but essential part of family
Gordon Hamel (Age 64)-- Father to Garret, Kelly, Calvin, & Lucas
Linda Hamel (Age 64)-- Mother to Garret, Kelly, Calvin, & Lucas
Kelly Schafer  (Age 42)-- Garret's older sister and oldest sibling, 3 kids
Tom Schafer (Age 43)-- Kelly's Husband, not around much because of work
Ashley Schafer (Age 17)-- Kelly and Tom's oldest child
Kimberly Schafer (Age 15)-- Kelly and Tom's middle child 
Christian Schafer (Age 13)-- Kelly and Tom's youngest child
Calvin Hamel (Age 39)-- Garret's oldest brother & 2nd oldest sibling, 4 kids
Charlotte Hamel (Age 41)-- Calvin's Wife
Giovanna Hamel (Age 16)-- Calvin and Charolette's oldest child
Derrick Hamel (Age 14)-- Calvin and Charolette's second oldest child
Savanna Hamel (Age 11)-- Calvin and Charolette's second youngest child
George Hamel (Age 8)-- Calvin and Charolette's youngest child 
Lucas Hamel (Age 34)-- Garret's older brother and 3rd oldest sibling, 3 kids
Katherine Hamel (Age 34)-- Lucas's Wife
(LJ) Lucas Jr. Hamel (Age 10)-- Lucas and Katherine's oldest child 
Ashton Hamel (Age 8)--  Lucas and Katherine's middle child 
Jackson Hamel (Age 6)--  Lucas and Katherine's youngest child 
More Supporting Cast
Laura Deon (Age 53)-- Kelly's supervisor and current caseworker assigned to the boys
Keith Watson (Age 58)-- Co-founder of the HLRJC organization
Rory King (Age 29)-- Police Officer, Helping with the Private Investigation 
Jordan O'Grady (Age 27)-- Part of Garret's Legal team
Ruth Ainsworth-- Lincoln's & Jacob's therapist 
Thomas & Debra Giradi-- Jacob's birth grandparents
Berry Rodgers-- Leading the Private Investigation


Installment 19 (Persistence)

Part – 1

Sunday, March 6th, 2016: 7:45 am
My eyes adjusted to the morning light peeking through the window shades. Thanks to my parents, I was able to sleep in, and oh man It felt good to sleep in for once… yes I know, 7:45 is now sleeping in for me, but it felt amazing. My mother and father took the responsibility of getting the boys fed and entertained. This allowed me to enjoy a somewhat long shower without the worry of the boys.

Around 8:10 I made my first appearance downstairs. The boys were watching some cartoons with grandma and grandpa. They were so invested in the show that I managed to grab my first cup of coffee and sit down at the kitchen table without being noticed. However, my cover was blown when Clayton walked into the kitchen.

“Garret! Morning,” Clayton spoke.

“Hey buddy,” I replied as I wrapped my left arm around his waist and pulled him in for a hug. “How was breakfast?”

“It was good. I got to help!”

“You did?”


“Well, you’re the best helper around,” I stated and kissed his cheek.

“Hi, Garret!” Lincoln said interrupting Clayton and me.

“Morning Lincoln.”

“Did you like the extra sleep?” Lincoln asked, and he came over and sat on my lap.

“Oh yeah!” I joked as I tickled both boys ribs, “I didn’t need to feed 4 hungery hooligans.”

“We aren’t hooligans,” giggled Lincoln.

“Whats a hoo…. a hooli… a hooligun?” Asked Clayton.

“A hooligan is a troublemaker.”

“We aren’t troublemakers,” Clayton fired back.

“I know, I was just teasing. But let’s go to the family room.”

“I have to pee,” Lincoln said.

“You have to pee?” I asked as I poked him in the ribs.


“What?” I said as I played stupid and started tickling.

His laughter was infectious, and soon I had Clayton teaming up on him.

“Stop… stop… stop… I’m… I’m gonna pee my…. pants,” Lincoln managed to say.

“Alright… alright, let him go,” I laughed.

“Not funny guys,” Lincoln stated as he was running to the bathroom.

“Come on Clay, let’s see what everyone is up to.”

“Ok,” Clayton responded, and we walked to the family room. We entered to see Ryker and Jacob sitting on the couch with my parents. Ryker got up to give me a hug and said good morning before retaking a seat. Jacob sat on the end of the couch, so I tousled his hair and spoke,

“In about 2 and a half hours, we have to get ready for lunch, okay?”

“Okay,” Jacob returned and didn’t bat an eye.

“Alright,” I replied and kissed the top of his head. “Alright I’m going to go call Laura, you guys are free to do what you want.” I received a synchronized okay from the boys, and I left for my office. Once in my office, I went through my regular routine of checking email then I started making calls. I dialed Laura first.

“Garret was just about to call you. How are you?” She answered

“I’m doing well… but not looking forward to the next couple of hours.”

“I don’t blame you, but let’s try to look at the positive side.”

“Yeah… I don’t see one.”

“Moving on… so I contacted your legal team. They are sending over Jordan O’Grady to oversee the conversation and help out.”

“Jordan O’Grady? I didn’t think I had a person named Jordan on my team.”

“I’m not sure, but they suggested that you and Jacob arrive 45 minutes to an hour earlier than everyone else.”

“Are you going to be there?”

“Yes, but I won’t be arriving 45 minutes early.”

“Okay, and where is the meeting location?”

“Just north of the city limits… its a nice little restaurant. I will email you the address.”

“It’s not a McDonald’s, right?” I asked

“A McDonald’s? Gosh no. That’s no place to conduct a meeting.”

“Tell me about it,” I replied.

“Alright, I will see you at 12 but remember Jordan is meeting you at 11:15.”

“Sounds good, cya at 12,” I stated and hung up the phone. My next call was to Keith to confirm a lunch meeting. He answered, and we set up a time for 11am on Tuesday. On Tuesday, we would be signing the contract to own the building, which meant we could start renovations as soon as Monday. We still needed to draw up specific plans like room sizes and what not, but that could be done another time. After the phone calls, the time was 9am, which meant Jacob and I had around an hour before we had to leave.

I went back to the family room and joined everyone. I sat down on the couch, and as usual, Ryker jumped on my lap. We watched tv for 30 minutes and soon it was time for us to get ready.

“Jacob, come on bud, let’s head upstairs,” I said as moved Ryker off my lap and stood up.

“Do you guys have to go, can’t you stay here?” Asked Lincoln.

“Afraid not,” I responded.

“Then can we come?”

“Afraid not,” I responded again.

“I wish they could come,” Jacob stated as he now stood up.

“I know you do,” I returned. “We will be back before you know it.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Jacob replied.

“Come on bud,” I said and wrapped my arm around his shoulder as we went for the steps.

“What’s gonna happen today?”

“Well, we are going to meet this person named Jordan, who is going to help us. Then we’re meeting your grandfather, and I think he just wants to talk to you.”

“What about after?”

“We don’t have anything planned… you have something in mind?

“Umm…” Jacob said as we reached the top of the steps. “I don’t know, maybe go to the movies?”

“That’s not a bad idea, we will see if your brothers want to go.”

“Oh well, maybe we could play Minecraft instead.”

“Either one works,” I replied. “Now go get a quick shower. We have to leave in 30 minutes.”

“Okay,” Jacob said and went to his bathroom. I went to my room to get ready as I didn’t need a shower but I combed my hair and dressed a bit nicer than I usually do. After I was finished, I went to Jacob’s room where he was just putting on underwear. I laid out a pair of jeans and a pull-over sweater since it wasn’t the nicest of days as it was raining and in the low 40s. After Jacob was dressed, he grabbed Riley, and we went downstairs to say bye, then left for the car. The ride to the restaurant was about an hour away. The drive there was quiet as Jacob had fallen asleep as soon as we hit the highway. About an hour later, we arrived at a parking lot of an Italian restaurant. I’ve never heard of it, but it looked good from the outside. I woke Jacob up, and we went inside to see if Jordan was there. Jacob and I got there 10 minutes before 11:15 so we were early, and since Jordan wasn’t here yet, we decided to grab a table and wait.

After 5 minutes of waiting, we were approached by this beautiful woman, as she asked,

“Are you Garret Hamel?”

“I’m… I’m sorry what?” I stuttered.

“Are you Garret Hamel?”

“Umm yes… uhh yes that is me.”

“Pleasure to meet you, I’m Jordan O’Grady.”

“Oh!” I said, “hi! Garret Hamel.”

“And this must be Jacob,” Jordan spoke as she kneeled to be eye to eye with Jacob. “I’m Jordan, I’ve heard great things about you!”

“Hi,” Jacob shyly responded.

“Who’s this?” Jordan asked while pointing to the stuffed animal.

“This is Riley.”

“Well, Riley is very very cute, just like you!”

“Thanks,” Jacob giggled.

After her introduction to Jacob, she took a seat across from me.

“So Mr. Hamel, what can you tell me that already hasn’t been discussed.”

“Unfortunately nothing new,” I replied, “and please call me Garret.”

“Okay, and any advice you can give me about this Thomas guy?”

“Umm yeah, I guess. I mean I’ve only met him once, but he is high tempered, likes to think he is right, and stuck in his ways.”

“Stuck in his ways? You mean old fashioned?”

“That’s putting it lightly,” I joked. “But yes, old-fashioned is a way to describe him.”

“Okay, and what do we expect to get out of this meeting today?”

“Honestly, I have no idea. Thomas wanted to see Jacob again, and I don’t have much power to say no.”

“Okay… and Jacob are you worried about anything today?” Jordan asked.

“Umm no… not really, I just want to go home with Garret.”

Jordan chuckled before answering, “well rest easy Jacob, I know that will happen for sure.” Jordan was very good with Jacob, from the moment she introduced herself, she had put him at ease.

“You know, you’re very good with children,” I remarked.

“Thanks,” Jordan laughed, “I’ve had my experience… I’m the oldest of 4. Two brothers and one sister.”

“I have 3 brothers,” Jacob commented. “Two older and one younger.”

“Isn’t that cool! We have the same amount of siblings!”

“How old are your brothers and sister?” Jacob inquired.

“Well my sister is 24, my one brother is 21, and my baby brother is 17.”

“Oh… so none my age?”

“Afraid not,” chuckled Jordan. We spent the next 30 minutes getting to know each other more. Jordan had Jacob talking and laughing which was nice to see. Before long Laura arrived and sat with us. She introduced herself, and then gave Jordan guidelines and details to facilitate the conversation. Around 12, Thomas finally showed up, and we split into groups. Thomas, Jacob, and Jordan went to one table while Laura and I went to another table around the corner but still within visible site of Jacob.

I wasn’t feeling very comfortable with the situation, especially since I couldn’t hear what was going on. However, I didn’t have much of a choice.

“Are you okay?” Laura asked

“No, not at all. I’m freaking out, I don’t trust him at all.”

“It’s noticeable.”

“Shouldn’t we be sitting closer?” I nervously asked Laura as I took a seat.

“Calm down Garret. Thomas can’t do anything with Jordan sitting next to Jacob. He just wants to talk to Jacob.”

“This is your first time meeting Thomas…. you don’t understand. He’s not a nice guy, and I’m almost positive, he and his wife are only in it for the money.”

“Well I don’t know that for sure…. but if a statement like that is heard, Jordan will be able to handle it.”

“But shouldn’t you be there too… you know to like facilitate and help Jordan guide the conversation?” I asked.

“Well usually, yes I would. However, I think this is a little win in Thomas’s head. Yes, a person from your legal team is there to represent you, but I think Thomas is satisfied you’re not at the table.”

“I do not fully understand what you mean.”

“Really? It’s a small victory for Thomas to make him feel good and make it seem like he has some power… it’s to keep him happy without giving too much.”

“Yeah, but doesn’t it seem like we are giving him too much power?”

“No, not at all. This is perfect, he got his main wish of not having you involved in the talks, but you somewhat are with Jordan.”

“But still, don’t you think we should be sitting closer. You know, just in case.”

“Garret,” Laura spoke. “Everything will be okay.”

A minute or two passed before I questioned, “I’m just curious… does he not have his own legal team?”

“I don’t believe so,” Laura returned. “I haven’t heard from anyone on his side, only himself.”

“Any idea why the wife didn’t come?”

“I have no idea.” Laura laughed.

“What’s so funny?”

“You’re so nervous, which is understandable, but I think it’s kind of funny you are asking me these questions, that I have no way of knowing.”

“I’m glad I can entertain you,” I replied.

“Oh lighten up. They are going to be fine.”

“I hope so… now have you been here before?” I asked trying to get my mind off Jacob for a few moments.

“Oh yes. Their vodka sauce is to die for. I mean, I would actually kill for it.” Chuckled Laura.

“Anything else you would recommend?”

“Umm… if you like shrimp and pasta, it’s delicious here.”

“Hmm, alright,” I said and looked at the menu.

“Now if the waitress comes to take our order, just get me angel hair pasta with vodka sauce… I have to run to the restroom.”

“Will do Laura,” I said as she stood up and walked away from the table. My attention turned back to the menu to see what I would order but then overheard Thomas raise his voice. I didn’t catch what he was saying, but I stood up and made my way to the table.

I’m sorry sir, but what?” I heard Jordan yell. “What do you take Mr. Hamel as… a”

“A fucking queer? Thomas yelled cutting Jordan. “Maybe even a fucking pedophile… Look at Jacob, he is trying to turn him into one too. I mean look! He is carrying around a stuffed animal for comfort. He’s going to be a pussy when he’s older.”

“Excuse me?” Jordan spoke. “I would be wiser with your words Mr. Giradi.”

“Shut it gorgeous. I wasn’t expecting an attractive woman like you to be here, but you know they have you here just for your looks…. oh here’s the queer now.”

“Jordan… don’t listen to this bigot,” I spoke.

“Yeah… I’m the bigot?”

“I’ve had enough of you Thomas…You can insult me all you want. I know who I am and what I stand for, but you don’t EVER insult Jacob again. You know why he brings that stuffed animal? Because he is scared of you… he doesn’t want to live with you or your complete lack of empathy. This was the final straw, chance after chance, I hoped meetings would go better. But this meeting is finished… Go ahead take me to court… I. WILL. WIN.” I replied and took Jacob’s hand and started to walk away.

“You can’t take him away from me yet, I’m not finished.”

“Watch me,” I said and turned around to look him dead in the eyes. “Get a good look at Jacob. This is the last time you will ever see him.”

“You’re not going to win Garret. He’s got my blood in his veins, he is my property.”

“You know… I feel bad for you. Your parents must have been jackasses to raise someone like you, and you will never have the ability to push your hateful beliefs on a child again.”

“Go ahead, keep talking the talk,” Thomas fired back.

“And you can bet your ass I’ll walk the walk… try me, I encourage it,” I shouted as we left the room and passed Laura.

“What in the world is happening? What’s with all this yelling going on?” Laura said as she exited the bathroom.

“I’ll explain, just meet me outside,” I replied as I walked out of the restaurant with Jacob and Jordan. Laura was very confused, but she had to rush to the table to grab her belongings.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t think he would respond like that,” Jordan stated.

“It’s okay,” I said as we walked to the Benz. “Jacob? How you doing?”

“Okay,” he softly responded, and I saw him wipe his face.

“Okay, wait in the car. I have to talk to Jordan and Laura,” I commanded as I opened his door for him then watched as he climbed in. I shut his door, then walked over to the driver side and started the car. Just to be safe, I locked the car and took a few steps away from the vehicle so Jacob wouldn’t overhear.

“What just happened?” Laura asked as she was throwing on her coat.

“After you went to the bathroom… I overheard Thomas saying something loudly. I made my way over to the table to investigate when Thomas freaked out on Jordan then lost it on me too. I responded, and the rest is history.”

“Okay, so Jordan… what actually happened?”

“So it started really well. The conversation was kept pretty light but Jacob never really got comfortable. He was checking over his shoulder every few minutes to make sure you and Garret were still there. At first, I think Thomas was irritated but could handle Jacob’s curiosity about Garret’s location. However, when Jacob didn’t stop, Thomas called Jacob’s name and began asking him questions about the relationship between him and Garret.”

“Okay, and?” Laura said.

“Well, he asked, ‘does Garret ever make you feel uncomfortable?’ That question caught me off guard, but Thomas then stated another question ‘does Garret ever touch you?’ And that’s when I spoke up, then Garret walked over, and Thomas began to lose it on him. It was a stupid decision on Thomas’s part, and I know more than ever that Jacob wouldn’t be a good fit.”

“Alright, umm.” Laura spoke, “I will put this incident on record, and we move from there.”

“How do we move forward?” I asked.

“Well, we have a home inspection Thursday. We have to wait and see how that goes.”

“So we just going to act like today never happened?”

“No, not at all. I said I will document what happened today. If this goes to court, then I will present my findings and experiences of Thomas to the judge in support of you.”

“But what about weekend visits?”

“Let me worry about that,” Laura stated.

“And Mr. Hamel, I think we should meet Friday to discuss future plans to move forward. We need to draw up different scenarios, so we have a plan. You free Friday?”

“Could you do Friday for lunch?”

“Perfect!” Jordan spoke, “I will shoot you a text on Monday.”

“Awesome sounds good,” I responded. I shook Laura and Jordan’s hand, then walked to the driver side door. I peered across the parking lot to see Thomas talking on the phone as he profusely wrote something down and ever so often looked in my direction. I hopped in the Benz and took off out of the parking lot.

As I was driving away, I decided to break the ice with Jacob, “so bud, you okay?”

“Yeah…. but what’s a faggot? I think… I think I know what it means, but I’m not sure.” Jacob asked.

“What do you think it is?”

“When two boys like each other and kiss and stuff?”

“Umm… sort of. The word faggot can be an offensive term to describe homosexuals. Homosexuals are someone who is attracted to the same gender. So what you described as two boys liking each other is considered homosexual or more commonly known as being gay.”

“I like Adam, does that make me gay?”

“No,” I chuckled, “Adam is your friend… oh boy this is hard to explain… okay so Adam is your friend… umm nevermind, just forget what I was about to say. But, liking Adam does not make you gay.”


“And the word faggot can be very offensive to people, so using proper terminology is a good idea.”

“Ohhh,” Jacob said, “I… I always heard that word.”

“Where did you hear it from?”

“From my… my dad,” Jacob said, “my dad use to call me a faggot when he would do stuff to me.”

“I’m sorry bud, I should have thought before asking my question.”

“It’s… it’s okay. I don’t think I like boys or girls yet.”

I chuckled before I answered, “and that’s perfectly okay. Whether you like boys or girls when you’re older… it doesn’t matter to me. Just know I am always open to chat if you have questions.”

“I… I know…. thanks,” Jacob said.

“Anytime bud… I just want to say I’m sorry if I scared you when I started yelling at Thomas. I just couldn’t stand the rude comments anymore, and I wanted to stick up for you.”

“I wasn’t scared of you yelling I just didn’t want anything bad to happen… like I didn’t want to see you get into a fight over me.”

“Aww buddy, you’re worth fighting for but don’t worry about me, nothing bad is going to happen.”

“I know… so what are we doing now?”

“Well I figured we would go home to see what your brothers are up to and then decide to do something together, how’s that sound?”

“Good, I guess.”

“You guess?” I asked.

“Yeah, I wanted to do something with you!”

“Hmm… how about this… we stop for an ice cream cone and after we can go get your brothers.”


“It’s gotta be our secret though.”

“Okay,” Jacob said as he zipped his mouth shut and threw the key away. We drove for another 35 minutes before we stopped at our local Dairy Queen restaurant. Since it was raining, we decided to park the car and head inside to sit down. Jacob wasn’t sure about getting an ice cream cone. Instead, he ordered a cookie dough, Blizzard. I skipped the cone as well and went peanut-butter-cookie Blizzard. Dairy Queen is known for their Blizzards, it’s basically thick, soft serve ice cream. Their signature move is to turn the Blizzard upside down to show customers that nothing will fall out. Jacob almost had a heart attack when they did this as his mouth dropped wide open. He thought they were dumping his dessert all over the floor only to find the soft serve still in the cup. I’m glad Jacob suggested some one on one time as we bonded and laughed over our treat. It was nice to hear him giggle and have fun.

After the ice cream stop, we hurried home which took about 15 minutes, to be greeted by a stampede of boys charging the kitchen garage door. Jacob managed to escape the path as he took off to my parents.

“Garret!” Lincoln said as he launched his body at me. “I… I had another attack.”

“What? When?” I asked as I bent down to be eye level with him.

“A little bit ago.”

“Are you okay?”

“I am now… since you’re back,” Lincoln stated as he wrapped his arms around me.

“We are going to talk about it later,” I replied as I patted his back. With my free hand, I ran it through Ryker’s hair and asked, “Did you have fun with grandma and grandpa?”

“Yeah we were downstairs in the game room playing ping pong, but Lincoln started screaming and stuff.”

“Sorry, didn’t mean to ruin the fun,” Lincoln stated.

“You didn’t, I was just scared.”

“Yeah me too,” Clayton spoke as he was patiently waiting for a hug. “Can you move Lincoln?”

“Clay,” I chuckled. “I can still give you a hug.”

“I know,” Clayton giggled. “But I wanted a full one.”

“Get your little butt over here and give me a hug,” I joked.

“Fine,” Clayton laughed as I gave him a half hug. Lincoln still didn’t want to leave my arms, so after I finished hugging Clayton, I picked Lincoln up and carried him to the family room. We sat on the couch and discussed plans for the night. We somehow agreed to head to the movie theaters, and I sent the boys upstairs to go get ready. This also gave me a chance to talk to my parents about Lincoln’s PTSD attack, so as soon as the boys were out of listening distance, I asked, “So what happened today?”

“That poor boy, you know, my heart is aching for him. You’ve described these attacks to us,” spoke my mother, “but to see him go through an attack in front of you…. is rough.”

“We were downstairs playing a few games with the boys and next thing we know, Lincoln is on the floor screaming… I took Ryker and Clayton upstairs while your mom tended to Lincoln…. but it was so intense son. I can’t believe he fights through those attacks. I’m… I’m just heartbroken for the kid,” spoke my father.

“Yeah I know dad, it sucks. Trust me… I know. Mom, how long was he screaming for?”

“I don’t know, 30 seconds to a minute.”

“You guys could have called me.”

“We thought about it, but we also thought you were very busy with Jacob.”

“I was, but I am never too busy to answer the phone if there is a problem with one of the boys,” I stated.

“We know son, but we had it under control,” my father said. “Your mother did a terrific job, and 20 minutes after the PTSD attack… Lincoln was basically back to normal.”

“Well thank you.”

“You don’t need to thank us,” chuckled my mom, “everything’s good.”

“How did lunch go?” My father asked.

“Umm… not well, not well at all. Thomas lost his cool, and well let’s just say lunch ended early.”

“You didn’t do anything stupid, right?” Asked my mom.

“I wanted to… but no. I just walked Jacob out, and we left,”I responded as I heard footsteps running through the hallway. Soon Lincoln appeared as he came and wrapped his arms around my waist. I don’t know why, but Lincoln was extra clingy. It’s like he didn’t want to stop being near me, so I asked, “You okay bud?”

“Yeah I’m just happy you’re here and home safe,” Lincoln responded as he looked up at me with a smile.

“Told ya I would be back,” I chucked. “So where are your brothers?” l

“I don’t know, I think Ryker wanted to change into nicer clothes, and Jacob and Clay were laughing at something.”

“Alright well, you go with grandma and grandpa to the SUV… I’ll holler down for them.”

“Okay… come on grandma and grandpa,” Lincoln said and released my waist from his grip. He leads both my parents to the garage while I went to the top of the steps and hollered for them to come down. Within a minute, the three boys were racing down the steps, and I asked, “What took you guys so long?”

“I got changed,” Ryker said.

Clayton giggled, “I struggled with my shoes.”

“It was funny,” commented Jacob.

“No it wasn’t… it was tough. I almost tripped and died.”

“I know, that’s what’s funny.”

“Clay? Are you wearing two different shoes?”

“Ya! You like it? I couldn’t pick just one pair.”

“Alright,” I laughed. “Ryker… Jacob… go to the SUV. I need to get Clay matching shoes.”

“I told you Garret wouldn’t like them,” Jacob said as he walked past Clayton. I picked up Clayton and hurried him to his room. I found the other mismatched shoe and slid it on his foot. After that, I carried him to the car and loaded him into his seat. This was a packed car for sure, we had my father up front with me. Clayton, my mom, and Jacob in the middle row. Then Ryker and Lincoln in the third row. After everyone was buckled, I backed out of the garage, and we were on our way to the movies. We were on our way to see the new film, Zootopia. Ever since the boys saw a trailer for the film, they’ve been begging to see it!

The movie was actually hilarious, as my father and I were cracking up at this animated film. We may have been laughing more than the boys, but I must say, Zootopia was a great film. After the movie, we went home and had dinner. The rest of the night was relaxing as it was spent with family. Around 9, I started the bedtime routine, and the boys were sleeping by 10. With the boys being down for the count, I was able to go downstairs to chat with my parent for an hour or two before we all called it a night and went upstairs to bed.

Part – 2

Monday morning, 6:45 am
I woke up and jumped in the shower. 15 minutes later I was downstairs drinking my morning coffee when Rita walked in. I caught her up to speed with everything going on, then she started to prep breakfast. Before long, my parents were downstairs and chatting with Rita as well. Around 7:20, I heard more footsteps coming down the steps as I saw Clayton round the corner.

“Morning!” Clayton said running into the kitchen.

“Mornin bud,” I replied as I opened my arms for a hug. Clayton went around the table and gave everyone a hug then went to Rita and spoke,

“Morning Rita, I missed you!”

“Aww well thank you Mister Clay,” Rita responded as she bent down to give him a hug, “I missed you too.”

“What’s for breakfast? My tummy needs food,” Clayton said releasing the hug from and walking to me.

“Nothing too crazy just some fresh fruit, toast, and scrambled eggs,” Rita replied.

“Yummy!” Giggled Clayton as he hopped on my lap.

“Ohhh you’re getting too heavy.”

“No, I’m not!”

“I know, just teasing,” I joked as I kissed his cheek. “Love you, buddy.”

“Love you too,” Clayton responded as he leaned against my chest. I know I’ve said this before, but receiving the affection from these boys is amazing. They are so loving, and I enjoyed every bit of it. Soon we were joined by the other 3 boys, and as usual, breakfast was filled with laughter. Just before the boys went upstairs to get ready, Lincoln asked, “Can I have a sleepover on Friday?”

“Umm maybe, but with who?”

“Carter, Devin, and Max.”

“What about that one boy… Cameron?”

“I’m not really friends with him though.”

“Lincoln, that’s not nice.”

“But I already know he is gonna say no.”

“Well, you need to ask him.”

“Wait if Lincoln can have friends stay over, can I?”

“Who are you going to invite, Hannah?” Asked Lincoln.

“Shut it Lincoln.”

“Oh, and who is Hannah?” Jokingly asked my dad.

“Gordon, don’t help antagonize,” my mother said.

“Nobod….” Ryker attempted to say, but was cut off by Lincoln’s statement, “its Ryker’s girlfriend.”

“LINCOLN… you’re so annoying.”

“Okay boys enough,” I said. “But yes you can too.”

“Cool, I’m gonna ask Dylan,” Ryker commented. Which reminded me that the Brumm’s want to have dinner together so I would have to call them to set something up. Anyhow, the boys took off to their rooms to get changed. Around 8:30, the boys said their goodbyes to my parents and Rita, as they walked out the door. At 8:50 I dropped them off and was on my way home when the phone rang. If you all remember, I placed a call to a contractor to have the boys’ bedrooms redone and adding heated hardwood flooring installed. It was him returning my phone call and stated he would be out to my house around 10:30 to check the rooms and get a price. I obviously already had plans to meet Keith but assured the contractor that someone would be home. I also decided to call Todd, and we set up dinner for Saturday night.

I finally arrived back home and guess what, I had more calls to make. So I went directly to my office after I greeted everyone and called Laura.

“What can I do for you today?” Laura answered.

“Just calling my favorite person,” I sarcastically said.

“Funny, so what’s up? I don’t have all day here.”

“I just want to verify that the incident with Thomas was reported and I want to know the plan for the weekend.”

“We don’t have a plan,” Laura commented.

“Come again?”

“Yeah, we don’t have a plan. Depending on the home inspection this Thursday, we either have extra time to figure something out, or Thomas gets Jacob.”

“And how often do home inspections come back negative?”

“Umm, it all depends.”

“Well, I was hoping for more of a clear-cut answer.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay…Umm, I also wanted to tell you that if Thomas and Debra pass the home inspection, I will fight for custody.”

“I know I can’t stop you from doing that, but off the record. I would strongly advise paying him if you want to keep Jacob. I know it’s not ideal, but a legal battle will cost you just as much money, and you likely won’t win.”

“You don’t think I’d win?”

“No, I don’t. It’d be tough to get a judge to agree to give a child to someone that isn’t blood-related.”

“Even after all the hateful comments?” I asked.

“It’s sucks that Thomas has a negative look on life, but it’s his views. Which means he has that right.”

“Yeah, I know. But I also know that I can’t let Jacob live with people like that. They’re money hungry.”

“Well let’s just take this day by day. The inspection is early Thursday, so you should hear from me by lunchtime.”

“Okay, anything you would recommend?”

“Talk with your team.”

“I am, I’m calling them next.”

“Well, I’ll let you get to it, try to enjoy the day and relax.”

“Alright will do, thank you, Laura,” I said and hung up. And immediately dialed my legal advisors.

“Mr. Hamel,” stated a man, “Jordan was just updating us on the lunch meeting. We’re terribly sorry it didn’t go well.”

“I expected it,” I replied. “So I just got off the phone with CPS. The home inspection is Thursday, and that outcome affects the plan of action we take.”

“Okay, either way, we should have two plans of attack.”

“Plans of attack?”

“Well yes,” Spoke Jordan, “amongst all of us here, we need to get proof that Thomas is only in it for the money. Maybe we try to coax it from him, but it would need to be heard by people or recorded.”

“What are you suggesting?” I asked.

“Another meeting with Thomas,” spoke a guy.

“Well yes there’s that option,” Jordan stated, “but more importantly is the evidence against Thomas. So maybe not a direct face to face meeting, but a phone meeting instead.”

“The less I see of him… the better,” I commented. “However, would we be violating any privacy laws?”

“No we wouldn’t… we could use the One-Party consent law, which allows you to record conversations as long as you are a party member. So we would be allowed.”

“Uh huh,” I said. “Do we think Thomas would be foolish enough to make a mistake like this?”

“He did it once before,” commented Jordan.

“Alright, well it’s worth a shot. When should we do this?”

“I would say Thursday,” commented a man, “we could send someone to your house, or you could come to our offices.”

“I will come to your office,” I said.

“We think that’s a better idea as well.”

“Alright, uh… I’m glad we have some kind of plan,” I stated.

“Well it’s not much, but it is something.”

“Something is better than nothing,” I replied.

“We agree,” stated Jordan.

“Well then, I will let you guys go. Keep me updated on anything new, and I will do the same for you guys.”

“Will do Mr. Hamel, have a good day,” they stated.

After the phone calls, the day went by quick. My parents picked Clayton up from school then took him to lunch, I worked out for an hour, and talked to My brother Lucas. Then before long, it was time for Lincoln and Jacob’s appointment with Ruth. It’s going to be an interesting one, I’m supposed to be sitting in with Lincoln to give him more comfort which means hopefully he will open up to Ruth. So, I jumped in the truck and began driving to the school to pick up the two boys.

I arrived to sign them out, and within a few minutes, we were walking back to the car.

“Garret! I asked my friends if they wanted to sleepover!”


“They said they have to ask their parents.”

“Did you ask Cameron?”

“No…. not yet.”

“Why not?” I asked as we reached the car.

“I don’t know.”

“Lincoln if you do not ask that boy to a sleepover, you can kiss the whole sleepover goodbye.”

“Okay okay, I’ll ask tomorrow.”


“Yes,” Lincoln stated.

“Why can’t I have a sleepover?” Jacob asked.

“Umm,” I paused to think, “well with the whole grandparent issue, I don’t think planning a sleepover is a good idea.”

“But why?” Lincoln asked.

“Because our weekends with Jacob can change quick.”

“This is stupid,” Jacob pouted.

“I know it’s not fair bud,” I stated as I gave him a quick hug.

“You can hang out with my friends if they sleepover,” Lincoln insisted.


“Yeah!” Lincoln said and gave him a hug, “that’d be cool.”

“Love you Lincoln.”

“Love you too Jacob.”

“Alright get in the truck before you two make me cry,” I joked.

“Love you too Garret,” Lincoln said and gave me a huge hug as Jacob climbed in.

“Love you bud, proud of you,” I replied and kissed the top of his head. Lincoln hopped in the front seat, and I walked over to the driver side. I started the truck, and we were on the way to Ruth’s office. The ride to Ruth’s was fun, as the boys talked about their day in school. As usual, we arrived on time and walked into Ruth’s sitting area, where she was waiting for us.

“Hey guys,” Ruth began. “We are going to switch up the order, Lincoln you’re up first today, and Garret is coming in to help.”

“Okay?” Lincoln asked.

“Don’t worry kiddo, I’m just going to be there for support,” I said and then turned my attention to Jacob, “you gonna be okay out here by yourself?”

“Can other people get in?” Jacob asked

“Oh don’t worry, the doors are locked. A guest needs to be rung in by me,” Ruth commented.

“And you can take my phone to play games.”


“Didn’t take much persuasion,” I chuckled.

“Okay, let’s head in,” Ruth commented, and I followed Lincoln in. “Lincoln where do you want to sit this time?”

“Umm, can we sit on the couch?”

“Does the couch work for you Garret?” Asked Ruth

“Yup couch is perfect,” I replied as I walked over and took a seat. Lincoln followed my actions, but instead of sitting, he was laying down using my thigh as a pillow.

“Comfortable?” I asked.

“Always!” Lincoln said as he looked at me with his precious blue eyes.

“You look comfortable,” joked Ruth. “So Lincoln, how has your day been so far? Any homework you have to do?”

“I’ve been okay, don’t really feel like being here,” Lincoln stated.

“How come?” Ruth asked.

“Rather be at home.”

“So do I,” laughed Ruth. “How are your PTSD attacks? Getting worse, better, or the same?”


“And what is the same?”

“Just… I don’t know. Like, I just see and hear things.”

“Okay… You ready to tell me what happens during an attack?”

“Don’t you already know?” Lincoln commented.

“Well Garret and I have an idea of what happens, but I want you to try to look past all the painful things… what do you see or hear when you have a flashback.”

“I don’t wanna talk about this,” Lincoln fired back.

“Hey bud,” I said as I started running my hand through his hair. “We aren’t going to force you to tell us anything you don’t want to, but remember what we talked about a few weeks ago. Maybe if you opened up, we could get to the root of the problem.”

“That’s true,” added Ruth. “Look Lincoln, we aren’t here to hurt you. We want to help you, so your PTSD attacks do not occur or at least not as often.”

“It’s okay buddy, the best way to get through this is by talking.”

“Yes,” Ruth began, “that’s why Garret is with us today Lincoln so you can feel more comfortable. Now bear with me, I have some technical terms I’m going to throw your way, but I’ll try my best to explain it. So we are going to try something called Trauma-focused psychotherapy, which means we are focusing on the memory of that night and its meaning. I want you to picture and voice your thoughts on that night. Another technical term here, but the best method for us is a Brief Eclectic Psychotherapy which is a form of trauma-focused psychotherapy. I want you to start using relaxation methods and talking about details from that night. Then hopefully we can stop with the negative thoughts and focus on the good ones. After a few sessions, we are going to write something down on paper and hold a farewell meeting to leave that night in your past forever! It sounds like a crazy idea, but it’s worth a shot if you’re okay with it.”

“Is… is this all going to happen today?”

“No no no, it will take a few sessions, but I need you to start communicating with me,” spoke Ruth.

“Can Garret be here?”

“If you want him to be.”

“I do,” Lincoln quickly fired back.

“And I will be bud, I promise. But I need you to promise that you will try to open up to Ruth,” I said.

“I just don’t…. don’t really wanna talk about it.”


“Because it brings up bad thoughts and memories.”

“Like?” Ruth continued

“I don’t know.”

“Okay… so like bad memories from that night or bad memories from before that night?”

Lincoln took a second to think before he answered, “I don’t know… both.”

“Both? Okay, so these memories deal with your father?”

“Yeah,” Lincoln said and I started to see his eyes water.

“You’re doing good kiddo,” I said as I rubbed his chest.

“How do you remember your father?” Ruth asked.

“I try not to. But with him always being mean and yelling… and what he did to Jacob….. I hate him, I don’t ever want to think about him again.”

“Uh huh, I see… so, how does what happened to Jacob make you feel?”

“Like… like I didn’t protect my brother.”

“What?” I asked in disbelief.

“Yeah, I didn’t know stuff like that happened to him. I just thought my dad only hated me.”

“Lincoln, what happened to Jacob is none of your responsibility.”

“But it doesn’t feel that way,” Lincoln shot back. “Its just confusing to me.”

“What is?” Asked Ruth.

“Why… why my father didn’t care about my brothers or me. Or why my mom didn’t care what my father did,” Lincoln cried. “He didn’t accept me… and-and all I ever wanted to hear, was him say he loves me or something. But… but I always did stuff wrong.”

“I see,” Ruth said as she wrote stuff down.

“And… and I have my stupid PTSD attacks because of my parents… how can I not hate my parents. Esp… esp… especially my dad.”

“It’s okay buddy,” I said trying to calm him down as Lincoln was getting worked up.

“No, it’s not… I hate him, I… I… I,” Lincoln stuttered as he struggled to get words out.

“Okay Lincoln,” I said as I rubbed his chest. “Listen to me and listen to my voice. Take a deep breath and let it out. Focus on me and not your father.”

Lincoln was on the brink of going into an attack, and Ruth started to speak, “Lincoln relax… Garret, keep on comforting him, you’re doing good.”

“It’s okay buddy, I love you. Nothing can happen to you, I am here for you,” I said as I continued to rub his chest. “You’re doing amazing buddy.”

“There ya go!” Ruth said as Lincoln started to control his breathing, “you’re doing great.”

“Try to focus on me,” I spoke.

“Big deep breaths, Lincoln, you’re doing good,” Ruth stated

“I’m so proud of you buddy. I really am,” I said as I continued to talk to him.

After a close call, Lincoln gained his composure and asked, “But… but why?”

“Because you’re expressing yourself. Something you haven’t been able to do with Ruth yet.”

“I agree with Garret.” Stated Ruth, “how about we take a 5-minute break. Then for the last 30 minutes, we talk about relaxation methods and maybe more about your father.”

“O… okay,” Lincoln stuttered as he wiped his eyes and Ruth stood up to go use the restroom.

“Hey buddy, you need to sit up, I’m gonna go check on Jacob. I’ll be right back.”

“Okay,” Lincoln said as he sat up, “Garret?”

“Yeah, kiddo?”

“Umm…. thanks for ya know, being here for me. I… I like having someone to trust.”

“You don’t have to thank me! I love being here for you,” I replied and kissed the top of his head. “I am proud of you.”

“Thanks,” he smiled at me.

“Alright be back,” I said and went to the waiting area. As soon as I walked out of the door, I heard Jacob’s laughter and asked, “what’s so funny?”

“I’m watching YouTube videos!”

“Oh yeah? Like what?” I asked and took a seat beside him.

“Here watch,” Jacob stated as he took a seat on my lap. “It’s cat videos!” Jacob was watching a compilation of videos, and I will say they were funny. Although the video was 10 minutes long and I couldn’t view the whole thing.

“Hey bud, I still need to go sit with Lincoln, I just came out to check on you,” I said and gave him a tight squeeze. “You need anything?”

“No, but can we get a cat? Or better a dog?”

“I don’t know buddy, we will see,” I replied and stood up.

“You know,” Ruth said as she exited the bathroom, “a service dog wouldn’t be a bad idea for Lincoln.”

“I’m not a big pet person,” I replied as we walked back in.

“These aren’t your usual pets… I would recommend you do some research. Some dogs are specifically trained for PTSD.”

“Well don’t mention anything, because I don’t want anyone getting their hopes up.”

“About what?” Lincoln asked.

“Grown-up talk!” I said.

“Was it about me?”


“Tell me then!”

“Maybe later,” I replied as I took a seat beside him again.


“Lincoln,” I firmly said.


“Okay so start talking about relaxation methods,” Ruth said changing the subject. “What makes you feel happy and relaxed Lincoln?”

“Umm… this is gonna sound stupid,” he began, “but when I’m with Garret I’m relaxed, and I am happy when I’m with him and my brothers.”

“Okay branching away from personal connections, what do you like to do in your spare time? Maybe write in a journal, play any sport, play video games?”

“I don’t really like to play sports, except maybe with my brothers outside. Umm, I’m excited to go wakeboarding… is that what it’s called, Garret?”

“Yup! Wakeboarding, water skiing, wakesurfing, and all that fun stuff.”

“Yeah, that! I’m excited about the boat” Cheered Lincoln. “I also love to play video games and hang out with my friends and my cousin Christian.”

“I’ve heard you mention Christian in the past.”

“Yeah, he is like my best friend.”

“Uh huh,” Ruth said as she wrote in her notebook. “Anything else you like doing?”

“I write in my notebook sometimes.”

“You do?” I asked.

“Yeah but please don’t look at it, it’s private.”

“I won’t,” I chuckled.

“What do you usually write about?”

“Anything really.”

“Okay… and anything else you do for fun?”

“Nope, not really!”

“Okay, so I have an idea for when you have your next PTSD attack.”

“Okay?” Lincoln asked.

“Can you usually sense when you’re about to have one?”

“Umm not when I’m sleeping, but when I’m awake…. sometimes.”

“Awesome, so what runs through your head right before an attack.”

“Umm… nothing really. I just start to see and hear stuff. Well actually that’s not true, I guess I think about how much I hate my dad and blame him for these attacks.”

“And you’re attacks are started when you think of your father?”

“Yeah, umm well like when I do something now that he wouldn’t have liked, it makes me angry.”

“Why?” Asked Ruth.

“Because it was always something stupid.”

“Like?” Ruth added.

“Like… like my dad never hugged me. And when I think of that, it just makes me angry.”

“Understandable, so I wanna go back to the relaxation methods. You said Garret, your brothers, your friends, and your cousin,” Ruth commented.

“Add Rita too,” Lincoln said which put a smile on my face.


“Yeah, Rita! She’s awesome.”

“Okay, adding Rita to.. the.. list. Anyway, before you enter a PTSD attack, instead of thinking about your father, think about one of those people. Think about how you feel when you’re around them.”

“But what if I am around them and I start to have an attack?” Lincoln asked.

“Tell them! Give Garret a warning.”

“But it happens really quick.”

“Yes, I’m sure it does. But before attacks happen, you said you usually think about your father. So instead of getting angry to the point of pushing on another PTSD attack, think about Garret and the comfort he brings, or Rita and how awesome she is.”

Lincoln thought for a second before responding, “I… I never really thought of doing that.”

“It’s not going to work the first few times, but if you get in the habit of thinking about positive thoughts, you could prevent an attack.”

“Yeah,” I said adding on to Ruth’s comments, “you know you can always come to me. I feel that you’re embarrassed that you have an attack. You’re always apologizing to me, and it’s nothing to be sorry or embarrassed about. I am always here for you, no matter what.”

Lincoln looked down to the ground and back to me before speaking, “I know. I just don’t want you to hate me like my dad did.”

I chuckled at his response, “that won’t ever happen!” Then wrapped my right arm around his shoulder and pulled him closer to me.

“Well, I think we have accomplished a lot today. We’ve been very productive, and good job today Lincoln. Would you mind waiting with your brother, I want to talk to Garret alone.”

“Yeah sure,” Lincoln said as he got up and walked out the door.

“We still have a ways to go, our next appointment will be talking about the same stuff and seeing if he can elaborate more.”

“Okay,” I returned.

“You did really good, this was the most open I’ve seen Lincoln.”

“That’s good, umm do you have any information on the PTSD dogs?”

“Yes!” Ruth responded as she took a piece of paper out and began writing something down, “type in this link. It will tell you pretty much everything you need to know.”

“Okay thank you,” I said and took the paper. “Am I in here for Jacob’s appointment too?”

“Umm no that won’t be needed, Jacob has been pretty open with me.”

“Excellent, I will send him in.”

“Thanks,” Ruth said, and I walked out. As I went out, I told Jacob he was next, and he handed me my phone. Man did he drain the battery, I was at 95%, but now my phone was 45%, still had enough to use, but he must have watched a lot of videos. I took a seat in one of the chairs, and Lincoln came over and sat on my lap. He sat on my left thigh, with his legs curled on the chair beside us, and his head resting on my upper chest.

“I’m tired,” he stated as he nuzzled his body into me more.

“Yeah?” I said as I put my arm around his back to support him. “Wanna watch some Youtube?”

“I guess so,” he replied with his eyes shut.

“You gonna fall asleep?”

“I don’t know, maybe.”

“Well, I don’t remember saying you could use me as a bed,” I joked!

“But you’re the comfortablest bed ever,” giggled Lincoln.

“I beg to differ,” I replied and tickled his sides.

“Garret, but I’m so comfortable!”

“Alright alright,” I said as my tickles turned to scratching. Lincoln must have been tired because he fell asleep with 5 minutes of sitting on my lap. Luckily I still had one hand available and started checking email. I saw one from the boy’s school, which reminded parents that spring break was coming out soon. The boys had a week off of school from April 2nd to the 10th. I was glad the school sent an email, as it gave me time to plan some activities. Anyhow, the session with Jacob seemed to fly by, and before long, we were back home being greeted by Ryker and Clayton.

The rest of the day went by quick as well. Since it was my parents last night staying with us, the boys wanted to spend some extra time with them. So after dinner, the boys completed their homework and then watched a movie with everyone.

Around 9:30, I had the boys bathed and ready for bed. Then at 10:30 I was in my room and collapsed for the night.

Part – 3

 Tuesday morning, was our typical morning except we had a few sad faces. Since this was my parents last day, Jacob was extra attached to my father, and all the boys were in a gloomy mood. We had breakfast, they went to get ready, and then as a final treat, my parents took them to school in the morning. Which actually helped me since I had to talk with Keith about lunch. We were going to meet at the building site to sign the contract. After my phone call with Keith, I had to call my financial advisor, which I was putting off for some time. However, the phone call didn’t go as bad as I expected. I did get an ear full from Heather, but at the end of our conversation, she understood and agreed to let me take out that much money. I’m also happy because Heather and her financial partners decided to contribute $100,000…. bringing our total to $1,100,000 raised.

Anyhow, my parents returned and started packing their car, and before long it was time for them to leave.

“How were the boys?” I asked as I gave them a hug.

“Upset,” spoke my dad, “they each gave us double hugs, and I think Jacob and Clayton had some water in their eyes.”

“Aww,” I said, “shows ya how much you mean to them!”

“So when are we going to see you next? Or better yet, when are you coming to us. We would love to have them down.”

“We are a bit busy!” I laughed, “but I know Lucas’s boys are begging to do something soon. So maybe it’s only fair that I come down.”

“Yeah maybe for a few days or something,” agreed my mother.

“We will set something up. Drive back safe, love ya guys.”

“We love you too honey, stay strong.”

“Yeah,” said my dad, “I can still take care of your problem….all I need to do is make a quick phone call.”

“Dad,” I laughed, “we can’t be making jokes like that.”

“I know I know…. love ya son. I’m proud of you!”

“Thanks pops, love you too,” I said and gave him a hug. I watched as they hopped in their car, then drove down the driveway. I walked back into my house and chatted with Rita for a bit. She was going to talk to the contractor and give him my wants, which were heated hardwood floors for the upstairs and customized rooms for the boys.

Since I had the meeting with Keith at 11, and the building was 30 minutes away, that meant I would be leaving as the contractor was arriving. So I appreciated Rita being here. I still had an hour before I had to go, so I went downstairs for a quick workout, then got a quick shower. At 10:30 I jumped in the Ferrari and was on my way to meet Keith.

As I was driving, I decided to call Kelly.

“Hello,” she answered.

“Hey Sis, how are you?”

“I’m good, yourself?”

“Same old same old,” I responded. “How’s Christian?”

“Talks about coming to see you every day,” Kelly responded.

“I meant with school, like the bullying.”

“He is still getting it. Kids are just pricks, nowadays.”

“Damn poor kid,” I said.

“Yeah, he also wants to leave the soccer team.”

“No way.”

“I know… I don’t know what to do. Tom says we shouldn’t let him walk off, but he is getting bullied by some of the players.”

“Has Christian talked to the coach at all?”

“No, he doesn’t know if the coach knows yet.”

“Well, maybe I’ll give Christian a call and see what’s up.”

“He would like that, or maybe a call from Lincoln would be good.”

I laughed, “yeah I don’t think I would need to tell Lincoln that twice. Those two have bonded so well together.”

“I know… they’re inseparable when together.”

“Well, it’s good. Reminds me of the relationship I had with Lucas. We were always close.”

“Yeah, you two were so cute as kids. Don’t know what happened to ya!”

“Funny,” I commented, “anyway let’s get to the real purpose of the call! So I’m on my way to meet Keith, and we’re going to sign the contract and buy the property. I already consulted with my financial advisor, and everything is set up to buy.”

“Congratulations! I’m so excited!”

“So am I! Any idea on when you can start working?”

“Well since I handed your case to Laura, I’ve been able to focus on placing my remaining children. I need to place three more kids. Two girls and one boy, the two girls are sisters so finding them a foster home together will be difficult. Then the boy is a single child with a similar background to your boys!”

“Uh huh,” I said.

“Any interest in adding another?”

“I would love to help, but my hands are full. Plus I think I have the perfect number right now. Adding any more would be complete chaos.”

“Just thought I would ask,” chuckled Kelly. “He is an adorable boy. I bet he’d fit in well with the boys.”

“You’re breaking my heart here, ya know that? I just can’t take on any more challenges.”

“I know, it would be a good match. That’s all I’m trying to say.”

“I’m sure he will be good in another home too…. so anyhow,” I said trying to change the topic. “you have a timeline on when you can begin work?”

“Well, I’ve been in talks with Laura. She knows I plan on leaving soon, but I’m giving my 2-week notice tomorrow. If I don’t place the remaining children, then I will leave once they are placed. Although, I should be able to find them homes by then.”

“Awesome, I can’t wait to have you on our team!”

“I’m looking forward to it! It’s going to be a challenge, but I can’t wait.”

“You’re gonna do awesome,” I said.

“Well, thanks for giving me this opportunity!”

“You deserve it,” I replied.

“Yeah but other people deserve it more. Like Laura, she would absolutely rock this job.”

“You want me to give her the position instead?”

“No no, I was just stating my opinion.”

“Alright, well I gotta go. I’m about 10-15 minutes out. Talk later,” I said.

“Okay, talk soon,” Kelly stated.

I arrived at the building before anyone else did, so I parked and began exploring the outside facility. It was going to be beautiful, we had so much space to host activities and build a playground for them. We also had room for a sports arena type deal, which would combine a basketball court and a mini hockey arena. I was probably strolling around the property for 5 to 10 minutes when I saw Keith’s car pull in.

I made my way back to the parking lot, and Keith stepped out from his car and spoke, “oh look at you… driving up in a Ferrari.”

“Pleasure to see you too,” I chuckled as I shook his hand.

“Man what a beauty, gorgeous car.”

“I would say it’s a waste of money…. but I can’t,” I laughed, “this puts a smile on my face every time I drive it.”

“Oh, I bet,” Keith replied. “So, Amanda is on her way with the contract. Once we sign, the building is ours. We start renovations Monday, which consists of modifying the first floor. So we have our front office who will greet people, then we have offices to the left and right. For security reasons, access past the front office will be forbidden unless a person has a key.”

“Yeah… I’m gonna need to see this on paper to fully understand this.”

“Alright,” laughed Keith. “I can have my construction team draw something up.”

“Good,” I said. “So we are going to start first floor renovations first? I mean that will require the most modification right?”

“Yeah, we need to add a cafeteria, study areas and much more. The second floor and third is all rooms, so once we have our designated room size, it will be quick and easy.”

“Okay, you think we have a start date?”

“I was actually thinking about that on my way here.”

“Please tell,” I joked.

“So its March 8th and if we start renovations the following week. Umm… our doors could be open as soon as July 15th and as late as September 15th.”

“I would much rather open in July.”

“So would I, but we can’t push it. Our renovations need to be done correctly. If we need to start in August or September, that’s just the way it will have to be.”

“Yeah, I know! I’m just excited.”

“So am I, but that brings me to our next topic,” spoke Keith.

“I already I know what it is.”


“Yup,” I said.

“We need to start. In fact, I already have a potential meeting for us to attend at the end of the month.”


“Yeah, it’s in Chicago.”

“I don’t know if I can attend.”

“You need to,” Keith said.

“Why didn’t you consult me before talking with people?”

“We have talked about this, but every time I bring it up, you say you can’t.”

“Because I can’t!” I said.

“Look we need to start raising money…. or this building we are about to buy, will not be operational in 3 years.”

“I know!”

“Okay then, so are you on board?”

“I can’t commit yet. I will know more Thursday.”

“Come on Garret! It’s two nights away from home.”

“Just give me till Thursday. I will have your answer by then.”

“I’m holding you to it,” Keith said as another car pulled in. “Amanda!”

“Amanda,” I said as she stepped out of her car, “nice to see you again.”

“Garret. Keith. You guys ready to own this building?”

“Absolutely!” I said.

“Alright, just to restate the deal. You are buying the building and the 5 acres of land the building sits on for $2,449,000?”

“Correct,” Keith said.

“And the sellers only have one condition, which is to not demolish the building.”

“Alright! Where do I sign,” I said.

“Well, you guys agree to those terms?”

“Yes,” we both said.

“Okay then, I need a signature here from the both of you,” Amanda said as she pointed out where we need to sign. “Another one right here…… okay and this one right here…. and the last one right here.”

“Alright finished!” I said.

“Well,” Amanda spoke as she went through the document one last time. “Congratulations guys! You’re proud owners of this property!”

“Wow… feels good. Can’t believe it, if I’m honest,” I said.

“It’s finally starting to come together. What is this, like 3-4 years in the making?”

I laughed at his statement, “on the home stretch now.”

“You’re right… it does feel good… pretty damn good,” Keith spoke.

“You know what would be better…. food?” I joked.

“Yeah, I agree. Amanda, you’re welcome to join us for lunch,” Keith suggested.

“Oh thank you, but I have to get these documents back. Congratulations again,” Amanda said.

“Alright then, there is this Mexican restaurant a few miles down. Want to go there, Garret?”

“Sounds like a plan, wanna get in the Ferrari.”

“Thought you’d never ask,” laughed Keith. We jumped in the Ferrari and were off the restaurant. It was definitely an authentic Mexican restaurant but was very delicious. I had steak fajitas, which was cooked to perfection. During lunch, I updated Keith on Kelly’s position and when we should expect her help. He also told me about his choices of a CFO which were narrowed down to 2 people. In general, it was a very productive day. I drove him back to our building, and then I was heading back home.

When I arrived and parked in the garage, the clock read 1:30. Which meant Clayton was home. I entered the kitchen to see Rita and Clayton working on desserts.

“Hey, guys!” I said

“Garret!” Clayton replied as he jumped off the stool and ran to give me a hug.

“Look how messy you are,” I laughed as I picked him up. “What’s all over your face?”

“Chocolate icing… it’s on my arm too.”

“And your leg…. somehow.”

“Yeah!” Giggled Clayton.

“I think you’re going to need a bath after this.”

“That would be wise,” commented Rita.

“How was the contractor?” I asked.

“He was good, said he would have a price for you in the next few days.”

“Did he give a potential start date?”

“Umm… oops, forgot to ask him that.”

“It’s okay, no big deal. Thanks for being here.”

“No problem…. alright Mister Clay, I’ll finish up the icing. You need to go get clean.”

“Okay,” Clayton said, “let’s go, Garret!”

“Alrighty,” I replied, “so what were you making?”

“We made a chocolate cake for later.”

“You did?” I asked as we reached the steps, and made our way up.

“Yeah,” Clayton said resting his head on my shoulder. “When are we gonna see grandma and grandpa again?”

“I’m not sure buddy, did you have fun the last couple of days?”


“Well,” I said as we reached the bathroom and started pulling his shirt over his head. “I’m sure we will see them soon.”

“Good, I miss them already.”

“Maybe you can call them later,” I said as I started the water.


“Of course! They’d love that,” I stated as I removed his pants and underwear. “Alright kiddo, in ya go.”

“Okay,” Clayton responded and stepped in.

“How did you manage to get icing in your hair?”

“I don’t know,” giggled Clayton.

“Oh boy, we might need to chop all this hair off,” I joked.

Clayton almost had a heart attack as his eyes widened and he said, “NO… YOU CAN’T!”

“I’m joking buddy,” to which Clayton splashed some water in my direction.

“Not funny.”

“I thought it was!” I replied. After getting all the icing off Clayton, I dried him off and slipped a pair of underwear on him. Usually, Clayton takes a nap, so I put him in his bed and laid down with him. Clayton had curled his body against mine and had his hand on my chest. I put my arm around his back, and he used my bicep as a pillow. I kissed the top of his head, and before I knew it, we had both fallen asleep. I had no intentions of taking a nap, but I couldn’t resist cuddling with my little Clay.

After an hour nap, the clock read 3:20, which meant I need to pick up the boys soon. I woke Clayton up from his nap and sent him downstairs to hang out with Rita while I went to get the boys.

I arrived just as the boys were walking out of the school, they saw the Mercedes and walked over. One by one they hopped in, and we were on our way home.

“How was school, boys?”

“It was good,” Lincoln said. “Devin Carter and Max can sleepover!”

“What about Cameron?”

“He said his dad wouldn’t let him. But it made him smile!”

“Well that’s good, try asking one more time.”

“Okay…. umm Devin’s and Carter’s parents need your number.”

“Alright,” I chuckled. “Ryker & Jacob, how was your days?”

“Okay,” Ryker quietly stated.

“Good!” Jacob said.

“You okay Ryker?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he quickly replied. I wasn’t sure what was up with him, but he wasn’t his usual self. I decided to let it go for the moment, and drive home. Once home, we did our usual routine of homework and then dinner. Rita prepared a delicious meal of steak, mashed potatoes, roasted beets with a garlic glaze, and green beans for anyone who didn’t like beets.

Within 30 minutes, our plates were empty, and our stomachs were full. I decided to send Rita home early, and the boys were free to do what they wanted. I took this as an opportunity to call Christian.

“Hey Uncle G!”

“Hey bud, how ya been?”

“Sad… but I’m doing okay?”

“You sure?”

Christian took a few seconds to answer, “no.”

“It’s okay! Whats been going on at school?”

“I’m still getting bullied, but not as much. It’s just all the friends I thought I had, don’t talk to me anymore.”

“I’m sorry Christian.”

“And the soccer players basically want me to quit.”

“What do you mean?”

“They haven’t said one word to me…. at all. And I received a note that said just quit.”

“Are you going to?”

“I… I think so.”

“Christian,” I firmly said.

“What? You don’t know what it’s like.”

“I know you’re not a quitter.”

“What am I suppose to do? Play on a team that hates me?”

“I don’t know bud, but if you do quit, you’d be letting the bullies win.”

“I don’t know… I don’t wanna talk about it,” Christian said. “Is Lincoln around?”

“I think he is upstairs in his room.”

“Can I talk to him?”

“Umm yeah sure, just give me a few seconds… I gotta take the phone up to him.”

“Okay,” Christian responded, and I left my office for Lincoln’s room.

“Hey bud,” I said as I entered, “the phones for you.”


“No, the ghost behind you… of course I mean you.”

“Okay,” giggled Lincoln, “who is it?”


“Oh… gimme the phone!”

“Alright,” I said and handed him the phone. While upstairs, I went and checked on the other boys. Jacob and Clayton were playing some game together, and I was surprised to find Ryker laying under his covers.

“Hey buddy,” I said as I sat down on the side of his bed.

“Hey,” he replied.

“You okay?” I asked as I ran my hand through his hair.


“You sure, because you don’t seem okay.”

“I’m fine,” he shot back.

“Alright, if you need me. You know where I’m at.”

“Okay,” he replied, and I stood up to leave.

“I might watch a movie if you’re interested,” I said as I stopped in the doorway.

“I’m okay.”

“Alright,” I said and turned to leave. I went to tell the other boys my plan, but everyone was occupied doing something else, so I went downstairs. As I turned the TV on, I’d forgot there was a Blue Jackets game, so I tuned into that instead of watching a movie. About an hour later, I was joined by Lincoln, but he only brought my phone back to me before taking off to his room.

I was quite flustered by today as all the boys weren’t social. That was until I heard a scream come from upstairs. My initial thoughts were Lincoln, but as I raced up the steps I heard Clayton yell, “GARRET!”

“Clayton?” I shouted, “where are you?”

“My bathroom hurry!”

“What is it?” I asked as I entered his room and reached the bathroom.

“My pee pee,” he said while holding it in one hand.

“What about it?” I asked as I went over to take a look.

“It’s bleeding!”

“What? I don’t see anything,” I said as I inspected his member.

“Noooo, when I pee, it’s red!”

“Wait… what?” I asked.

“Look,” Clayton said as he relieved his bladder. “It’s red, it’s bleeding!”

“Oh dear heavens,” I laughed. “Clayton everything is okay.”

“No it isn’t,” he said as Lincoln and Jacob were now standing in the doorway.

“Yes, it is. I promise! When you eat beets, it makes your pee turn red.”

“What? No way!” I heard Jacob say.

“That’s so cool,” Lincoln commented. “I’m gonna go pee!”

“Can I watch?” Jacob asked.

“Wait I’m not bleeding then?” Question Clayton.

“Go pee yourself,” Lincoln replied to Jacob.

“Okay okay… too many conversations occurring,” I said. “No, you’re not bleeding, Clayton.”

“Phew!” Clayton said as he relieved the rest of his bladder, “this is kinda funny.”

“Let me see,” Jacob and Lincoln both said as they crowded the toilet.

“Oh my lord, what am I gonna do with you guys,” I laughed as I was basically pushed out of the way.

“I gotta go,” Lincoln said as he took off for his room.

“I gotta go too,” Jacob laughed and went to his room.

“Alright… well then, no serious issue… I’m heading back downstairs to watch the hockey game.”

“Can I come?” Clayton asked as the waistband of his pants clapped against his skin.

“Yeah,” I chuckled, “let’s go!”

After my heartbeat returned to normal, the rest of the night flew by. I had all the boys showered and tucked in. I made one last stop in each of the boy’s room to kiss them goodnight, then made a final attempt to see what was wrong with Ryker.

“Hey kiddo, just coming in to say goodnight and I love you.”

“Love you too,” he quickly replied.

“So you wanna talk about today?” I asked.


“Okay,” I said, “umm, is it about Hannah?”

“What? No, and she’s not my girlfriend.”

“I never said that she was.”


“So what is it then?”

“Garret, its nothing.”

“Ryker…. come on bud. You’ve been so depressed today.”

“Fine!” He yelled. “I… I miss my mom.”

I was a bit shocked by his commented, I carefully returned, “that’s okay!”

“Next week is mom and son game night,” Ryker said as he began to cry.

“Oh,” I said as the issue became clear to me.

“It’s not fair,” Ryker said.

“I didn’t know they did these events bud.”

“It’s stupid,” Ryker cried, “you can’t go cause you’re not a girl.”

I laughed, “well that is true, but I think I know someone who would go.”



“Come on… tell me,” he cried.


“Would…. would she do that?”

“Not only would love to take you, but I bet she would be honored to be asked by you.”

“Can you ask for me?” Spoke Ryker as the tears started to stop.

“Oh no… it’ll mean more coming from you.”

“I hope she doesn’t say no,” Ryker said as he wiped his eyes.

“Oh buddy,” I laughed, “Rita isn’t saying no! She’ll move heaven on earth to be there, but you have to ask her.”

“Okay,” Ryker said.

“Now can I see a smile and get a hug?”

“Okay!” Ryker said and sat up and gave me a hug.

“There’s the Ryker I know,” I stated as I tickled his bare ribs.

“Garret,” he giggled. “Stop!”

“Alright kiddo,” I said and kissed his forehead, “get to sleep.”

“Can you lay down and scratch?”‘

“Only for a few minutes.”

“Yes!” Ryker cheered and scooted over to make room for me.

“Where you want to be scratched?” I asked as I laid down next to him.

“Back and butt again!”

“You and your butt scratches,” I laughed.

“You don’t understand, it feels just as good as my back.”

“Whatever you say,” I replied and started on his upper back. I scratched his back for the majority of the time, but every so often, I ran down his cheek to his thigh then back up. Ever since he embraced the nude sleep lifestyle, I don’t think he’s kept clothes on, which was okay with me. Whatever they were comfortable in and got them to sleep was good with me.

After 5-10 minutes, Ryker was asleep. I kissed the back of his head and crept out of bed. I went to my room, and proceeded to hop in the shower then went straight to bed.

Part – 4

Wednesday, March 8th

 I was up by 6:50 and downstairs where Rita already had the first pot of coffee brewing.

“Morning,” I said.

“Good morning,” Rita replied.

“You know… you should really consider moving in.”

“We’ve been over this before,” Rita laughed. “I like my little apartment!”

“I know I know, but it never hurts to ask.”

“That is true… so anyway, I was thinking about making crepes.”

“The boys would love that.”

“Good, that’s what I wanted to hear,” Rita said as she began prepping everything.

Surprisingly, I heard footsteps coming down the stairs.

“Who is up?” I asked.

“I wonder who,” Rita said.

“Hey, Ryker!” I said as I saw a naked boy walk around the corner and running his eyes.

“Morning,” he replied as he came over and sat on my lap.

“You uh… forgot underwear bud.”

“Okay… I’ll… I’ll go put some on,” he said as he was still half asleep.

“Alright,” I laughed as I watched him walk back upstairs.

“You’re so mean,” Rita joked.

“I should buy them robes.”

“That’s a wonderful idea. I can put that on my list.”

“Could you? That would be awesome.”

“Yeah no problem, I have to run to the store today.”

“You’re the best,” I said as I heard the footsteps coming back down the steps.

“Better?” He smartly asked as Ryker entered the kitchen.

“Much,” I said and patted my lap. “You’re still tired huh?”

“A little,” he replied as he sat on my lap. He then put his hand up to his mouth and whispered, “can I ask Rita now?”

“Yeah bud,” I said and kissed his cheek.


“Yes, sugar?” Rita said as she dropped what she doing and turned to Ryker.

“Umm… could you, uh… nevermind.”

“Ryker, you got it!” I encouraged.

“Would… would you go with me to Mom and son game night at my school?”

Rita’s face immediately lit up, as she responded, “of course I will sugar!”


“I wouldn’t miss it!”

“Yes!” Ryker said as he jumped off my lap and ran to give Rita a hug, “thanks Rita, love you.”

“Aww, I love you too, Ryker.”

“See buddy. I told you, she wouldn’t say no!”

“I know, I don’t know why I was nervous,” Ryker said as he let go of Rita and made his way to me.

“How about you go lay down on the couch and try to fall asleep for a little.”

“I’m not really tired.”

“You sure?” I asked.

“Yeah, but can I watch some cartoons?”

“Yup! Go for it.”

“Okay,” he said and went to the family room.

“He was afraid you would say no,” I laughed.

“I couldn’t say no to the boys.”

“Tell me about it,” I said.

“When is it?”

“I’m not sure, I’ll get back to you.”‘

“Okay thanks,” Rita said as she turned her attention back to prepping crepes. The rest of the morning went by smoothly, the boys went to school. The whole day actually went by quick, I talked to the contractor and found out it would cost $15,000 to install heated hardwood floors throughout the hallways and bedrooms. Then another $750-$1000 each room to paint the boy’s bedroom depending on what they wanted.

The boys returned from school, and Lincoln had his meeting with Ruth. It was similar to Monday’s, but we didn’t advance further in the process. We just covered the same material such as his feelings towards his dad and the relaxation methods. I think Ruth wanted Lincoln to have a good grasp on relaxation methods because she spent the majority of the time talking to him about breathing techniques and comfort items.

After the meeting with Ruth, Lincoln and I went home to an active house. Apparently, the boys hit a sugar rush, because as soon as we got inside, we were flooded with questions. They wanted to use their new wetsuits, so I said after dinner the boys could jump off the dock into the shallow end a few times. It was still pretty chilly, but every day the water was warming.

The boys and I ate dinner, then immediately went upstairs to get their wetsuits on. It’s was comical to see because each of the boys jumped in their suits naked. After everyone was ready, we went downstairs, got a quick picture, and everyone was running down to the lake.

One by one they took turns jumping in the lake, they were having a great time, but quickly realized how cold the water was. After 5 minutes of playing. The boys were stripping their wetsuits as they ran for the hot tub. Luckily I was smart enough to open the cover before we went down to the lake, so the boys were able to jump right in.

After the hot tub, it was shower time, and then some family time. All in all, it was a good day and kept Jacob’s and my mind off of Thursday’s home inspection visit.

After family time, I was putting the boys to bed and stopped in Lincoln’s room, to say goodnight,

“Hey, time for bed.”

“I know,” he responded as he pulled the covers down from his bed and stripped to the buck.

“Alright, get some sleep,” I stated as I walked over and kissed his forehead.


“Yeah, bud?”

“On Monday, what were you and Ruth talking about?”

“What do you mean?”

“When you said it was grown up talk.”

“Ohhh,” I laughed, “I thought you forgot about that.”

“Well I didn’t, so could you tell me?”

“If I tell you…. you can’t get excited or anything, because it’s not likely at this point.”

“Okay, what?”

“I’m gonna regret this,” I chuckled, “but she mentioned the idea of getting a service dog for you.”

“A service dog?”

“Yeah, so you would have a dog that helps you with your PTSD attacks. I haven’t done much research yet, so I don’t know much either.”

“But it’s a real dog, right?”

“Yes,” I laughed.

“YES!! Can we get one, I’ve never had a dog before.”

“Lincoln, what did I say before this.”

“Oh yeah… sorry, but please?”

“I don’t know bud, we will have to wait and see. I need to do some research before I agree to anything.”

“I would call her Bella,” Lincoln said.

“How do you know it would be a girl?”

“I don’t know, I just like the name Bella,” giggled Lincoln.

“Alright bud, you need to get to sleep, okay?”

“Okay, love you, Garret,” Lincoln said.

“Love you too bud, goodnight,” I said and gave him one last goodnight kiss.

After my stop in Lincoln’s room, I checked on the remaining boys, and they were down all for the count. I was soon to follow as I went to my bedroom and fell asleep.

Part – 5

 Thursday morning, Rita had shown up with a robe for each of the boys. We weren’t going to give them out yet, but I was happy she found one for everyone. I woke everyone up around 7:30 then the boys ate and were off to school, leaving me anxious about the next few hours. I swear I was looking at my phone every 10 minutes, waiting for this phone call. It was so pathetic that Rita had to take my phone away for a little, so I went downstairs to workout. After my workout, I received the call I’ve been waiting for.

“Hello,” I answered.

“Hi Garret,” Laura said.

“Please tell me you’ve got good news.”

“Umm… I don’t have good news.”


“It’s great news!” Laura laughed.


“We’ve got a major victory today Garret!”

“Let me repeat… what?”

“Okay okay… so let me explain. He failed the home inspection, and he has 30 days to fix his home before Jacob can stay there.”

“Okay! So what went wrong.”

“They didn’t have a designated room for him with his own bed. They have space, but it wasn’t considered a bedroom by code.”

“Oh my gosh! This is great!”

“It gets better,” Laura commented.

“Oh please tell,” I chuckled.

“His next home inspection is in 30 days, so, that means even if he fixes the issue today. We can’t approve for another 30 days. Also with his past incidents and blowouts, I’ve blocked his access to Jacob for those 30 days. Which… means he can not have any control or contact with him.”

“Oh, my gosh are you serious?”


“I’m sorry if I’m only thinking of the negatives, but could he reverse your block?”

“Yes, but he would have to go to court, and I don’t think he wants to do that.”

“This is amazing!”

“Hey, it isn’t over. But this is a big step, you now have 30 days to develop a plan, I would suggest using your time wisely because he won’t make this mistake twice.”

“I’m thrilled, honestly, thank you!” I said.

“You’re welcome! But it isn’t over, enjoy the small victory. However, you better have a plan of action. I’ll be in contact Garret.”

“I owe you, Laura, you just bought me so much extra time.”

“You deserve it. You’ve done great work so far.”

“Well keep me updated please,” I said.

“Same, let me know the direction you and your legal team want to go.”

“I will, thanks again, Laura,” I said and hung up. As soon as I hung up, I stood out of my chair and did a quick happy dance before running into the kitchen and telling Rita.

This news honestly was a shock to me, I wasn’t expecting any good information today, but it turned out great. After I told Rita, I called my parents, Kelly, and my brothers. I was just so excited that for 30 days, I didn’t need to worry about losing Jacob. I couldn’t wait to tell him the news.

Just as I was getting ready to pick up Clayton from school, my cell phone rang again.

“Hello?” I answered

“Garret? It’s Berry Rodgers, how are you today?”

“I’m… I’m actually doing pretty good. You?”

“Oh, I’m doing pretty good as well!”

“So whats going on?” I nervously asked.

“Well I’m going to let Rory tell you the news, he is conferenced in.”

“Oh… alright, how’s it going Rory?”

“I’m doing good, thanks for asking.”

“So what’s up?”

“We’ve hit some luck here… I think we might have caught the break we needed.”

To be continued…

Author Notes:

Thank you for reading and following the story! Always enjoy hearing from readers!
Third and final, the destinations, streets, events, and locations are made up. I use Columbus as a nearby city, but I'm unaware if the addresses listed are real or not. All scores and games are made up in my head. However, most teams are real.