The Cover lads were up and ready by 9:15 Saturday Morning. 'Dad' Ken was also ready, and they all loaded up into the F-150 then headed out for breakfast.
"Ok, guys, where are we going to eat?" asked Mr. Ken.
Kevin suggested either IHOP or Denny's. He told his 'dad' that's where Mr. Wayne took them the weekend he was gone, and that both places had great breakfasts. The rest of the boys agreed with Kyle's assessment, but Mr. Ken still didn't know which one they were going to.
"Guys ... which one do you want to go to, then?" asked 'dad' Ken.
"Dad, why don't you pick which one we go to? We like either one, and if you've never been to them, then you should pick. And besides, you're driving," laughed Robert.
"Ok, then, we're going to ............... IHOP. I've eaten at those restaurants before and they have lots of space and are bright and airy and I like the décor," was Mr. Ken's answer.
The IHOP restaurant wasn't too busy when the Cover's arrived. They were seated right away at a large corner table. The twins went in first and slid to the back, then Charles took one side, Robert the other and Mr. Ken sat next to his new son. Then they spread out so each had about the same space to relax in the booth.
"Ok, lads, do you know what you want to eat? Or, do you need to look over the menu some more?" asked Mr. Ken.
After looking over the menu for a few moments, Kyle asked, "'Dad', what's a Double BLT?"
"Well, Kyle it looks like from its description, and the picture, that it is a double-decker sandwich with six strips of crispy hickory-smoked bacon, fresh lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on three pieces of white toast and it comes with either French fries, onion rings, hash browns or mixed fruit. You've never had one of these before?" explained and then asked 'dad' Ken.
"Well, I don't remember having anything called that, but it sounds good, so I think I'll order that, and get the hash browns since it is breakfast," replied a giggling Kyle.
Kevin decided he'd have the Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity Pancakes that came with four thick pancakes. He chose glazed strawberries as his topping. He also added hash browns to his order, and orange juice for his drink.
Robert and Charles both ordered the Create Your Best Combo Pancakes that came with two pancakes, two eggs, two bacon strips and golden hash browns. For their pancake topping, Charles chose strawberries and Robert chose the blueberries. They both added orange juice to their order.
Mr. Ken decided he'd have the Split Decision Breakfast. That combination included two eggs, two crispy strips of hickory-smoked bacon, two pork sausage links, two French toast triangles and two buttermilk pancakes. The owner of The Cove added fresh coffee to his order.
While the Covers waited for their food, they talked some more about the adoption ceremony. Kyle wanted to know if every adoption was that wild. 'Dad' Ken had to laugh and told the younger twin, that no they didn't all go that 'wild'. Mr. Ken explained that Mr. Bill had gotten the releases of all the aunts and uncles and there should have been no drama at the courthouse. The owner of The Cove continued and added that it seemed that Uncle Johnathan had learned about the large amount of money Robert would get and he may have figured he'd get control of it being Robert's guardian.
Kevin then wanted to know what would happen to all that money. 'Dad Ken' told him and the other lads that the money would first go to pay Robert's parents' legal bills, then to pay off any bills that were still outstanding, like the mortgage, electric, water and gas bills. Mr. Ken continued and told them that the money would also pay the real estate agent, the estate sale company and Robert's legal representatives, Mr. Bill and Mr. Stewart.
"Geez, it sounds like my 'brother' won't have any money left after all those bills are paid," complained Kevin.
"But there probably will be some money left," began Robert, "and I will just add it to my college fund and, maybe, just maybe, my dad will let me keep some of it, so ... so maybe I can buy a car in three years. What do you think, dad?" finished Robert.
Mr. Ken laughed and told his son that they'll talk about it when the money finally came down, but, up until then, he can continue to dream about all those riches he'll get. The other boys laughed at what 'dad' Ken had said.
While they were talking, their breakfasts finally were delivered, and the Covers dug into their meals. The table got very quiet while everyone was enjoying their food. The waitress came by and refilled the milk, the O.J. and Mr. Ken's coffee and they all used them to help wash down the great food they had in front of them.
As they finished their meal, Mr. Ken reminded the boys they would be gone all day tomorrow, and they needed to tell their friends there would be no skating on Sunday. He then asked them if they'd tried on the clothes he asked them to. When he didn't get a response from any of the boys, he told them they would do that when they got home after breakfast. He told them their friends could skate without them for a few minutes if they weren't finished.
The Covers arrived home around 11:45 and Mr. Ken immediately sent them up to their rooms to try on the clothes he asked them to do the previous day.
The twins didn't have all that much to try on, so they were finished pretty quickly. They set aside a few pieces of clothing they could no longer fit into and saw they were mostly the items they brought back from their home. They went down to the Study to ask 'Dad Ken' what they should do with them.
Charles didn't find too many pieces of clothing that didn't fit all that well. He took them over to the twin's bedroom, but they were already gone. Charles wondered where they went, so he went down to the Study to talk to his 'dad'. When the pre-teen walked into the room, he found the twins talking with Mr. Ken.
"'Dad', what do I do with the clothes that don't fit so well? I went to the twin's bedroom to see if they could wear them for after school and they weren't there, and now I find them down here talking to you," said Charles.
"They had the same question, Charles. And, I think your suggestion the twins could wear your too tight clothes after school is a good idea. Kevin, Kyle, why don't you go upstairs and try on the clothes that Charles says don't fit him. If they fit you, add them to your wardrobe of after school things. If nothing fits, then bring everything down here and we'll make a box of clothes we can donate to a worthy cause. And, Charles, I want you to try on the things that are too tight for Robert and that don't fit him anymore. Now, go!" replied 'dad' Ken.
Robert had set aside a fairly large pile of clothes that were too small for him. When Charles knocked on his door, he explained what 'dad' Ken wanted him to do.
While the boys tried on clothes, their friends had begun to arrive at The Cove. The guards knew to allow the boys into the estate's grounds, so the boys headed down to the ramps to skate. When Eric arrived, he told everyone that Robert called to tell him what they were doing, so the lads just continued to skate with four fewer boys vying for a place on the ramps.
It was close to 12:15 when all four Cover boys came down to the Study. They carried a bunch of clothes and asked Mr. Ken where he wanted them. 'Dad' Ken laughed as he hadn't thought that far in advance, so he told them to just drop them over in the corner. He asked them if they were able to add some of their 'brothers'' clothes to their closet and Charles and the twins said they did add some stuff, but they were also looking to getting some new clothes tomorrow. That said, the boys quickly exited the Study and headed out to their friends.
While the Covers' friends were waiting for them to come outside, the boys who weren't at the courthouse the previous day all wanted to know what happened. When they heard Robert's uncle tried to stop the adoption, they were surprised someone could do that. Then, when they heard the uncle told everyone that Robert's parents were in jail, they all got quiet.
After a few very silent moments, it was Eric who spoke up and said, "It was his PARENTS who are in jail ... NOT Robert. Sheesh, you think that because Robert's parents are in jail he should be there, too? Get real! Look ... many of us have known Robert ever since January when he started to live here at The Cove. The rest of you have known him since Charles arrived, and then since Kevin and Kyle came here.
"Let me ask you. Has Robert done or said anything ... that makes you believe he should be in jail, too? ... Look ... kids are in the foster care system because of what they did, or what their parents did, or what happened to either one. Look at Kevin and Kyle's parents. They were in a traffic accident that has them hospitalized, so Kevin and Kyle have to live somewhere. Why should it matter why the kid, and in this instance, Robert, is in the system? ... Huh?
"Let me also ask you this? Do you think Mr. Ken would adopt Robert to be his son if Robert was involved in something that says he should be in Juvie or someplace else? I don't think so!
"The ramps, the water rafts, the picnics, the cookouts, the trips on the Commander, the personal water craft, the Lakeside Water Park and SeaWorld were all because Robert, Charles, Kevin and Kyle live here. Without them, our lives would still be as mundane as they were before they came here.
"To me the bottom line is, if you think Robert should not be here, then you shouldn't be here either! It is because of Robert, Charles, Kevin and Kyle that all of us are here and have been allowed to do everything we've done with them and Mr. Ken."
Eric was hot under the collar after his speech, so he started to walk away. It was then that the Cover lads came around the corner and they all looked pissed. Robert stopped Eric from walking away and he and his 'brothers', along with Eric, walked up to the group of kids, kids Robert thought were his friends.
"I heard what Eric said, but I don't know why he had to say it?" an angry Robert said to the assembled boys. "None of you EVER questioned why I was here, but you sure continued to enjoy what we've all done here. I agree with Eric. If you don't think I should be here, and be Mr. Ken's son, then you should leave! NOW!"
The large group of boys all mumbled amongst themselves talking about what Eric had said and what Robert added. All the while Robert, Charles, Kevin and Kyle looked on. Charles sort of understood why his older 'brother' was mad. He then wondered what they would say when they learned about his mom being in prison, too.
As for the twins, they were never in the foster care system before, so they didn't totally understand why Robert's friends, or theirs for that matter, would care that it was Robert's parents who did wrong, not their older 'brother'. Then, Kevin realized his dad would soon be in the same situation, and he began to get teary-eyed thinking about his dad. Then, before Kyle knew it his older twin ran off into the house.
"Robert ... Kevin just ran back towards the house. He was crying," called out Kyle.
Robert turned to look only to see Kevin as he turned the corner of the parking corral. Then, he saw Kyle was racing to catch up with him. Charles stayed with Robert. He wanted to know what Mr. Ken's new son was going to do.
"Guys, I have NO IDEA why my younger 'brother' found it necessary to start crying and run back into the house. I'm going to go inside and find out why. As for me, I think you all need to make up your mind about me. If you think I should be where my parents are, then leave. I'll be right back," announced Robert, and then he turned to walk back into the house.
Charles decided to stay out there to learn what everyone was talking about and how they thought about Robert's parents being in prison. He wanted to know for his own satisfaction because he figured eventually they will learn about his mom and he wanted to know their thinking.
The mumbling and murmuring continued after Robert left, but it was Logan who took center stage.
"Guys, I agree with what Eric said. I also want you to know that I SUPPORT my friend Robert. I don't care why he is, well was, in the foster care system. What matters to me is his character and his honesty, while being my friend. I was going through a rough time, last year, after Kaelyn hit me with that apple. It was Robert who helped me deal with the aftermath. He knew exactly what I was going through, because he had experienced the same thing from being in foster care.
"Robert has proven to me that he is a true friend, and I will do whatever is necessary to help him. I don't know why any of you would have a problem knowing his parents are in jail and not want him to be your friend, but ... if you think or feel you can no longer be around him, then you do NEED to leave. Even if Charles, Kevin or Kyle are your friends, just remember, Robert will always be here. He is now Mr. Ken's son ... and understand, the man will support him before he supports any of you. Does anyone want to say something?" finished Logan.
Cooper stepped forward and then stopped. Everyone looked at him and anxiously waited for him to say something. "Why are we even discussing this? Huh? Robert was never convicted of anything. It was HIS parents. But even if Robert had been to Juvie, I'd still be his friend. It is because of who Robert IS not what his family did to him. Now, let's get back to skating."
Cooper took his skateboard and began skating on the ramps. Brad, Gordon, Chuck and others got on the ramps as well. Before long, the rest of the boys started to ride on the ramps,
Robert went looking for Kevin and Kyle. He found them in the twin's bedroom with Kyle trying to calm his twin down. Robert sat down on the bed and asked Kevin what he was so upset about. Kevin told him he was afraid his friends would find out about his dad and then about him. All Robert did then was to hug his younger 'brother'.
Chief saw the twins hurry in and then go up to their bedroom. She followed and watched as Kevin cried, but to her, it was a normal cry the boys had done and was well known to her. She stayed with the twins and then she saw Robert come in and try to calm the boy down. She heard what Robert said, and she decided to go get Mr. Ken.
Chief went into the Study and instead of barking she went over to the man and pulled on his pant leg. Mr. Ken knew that something had to be up, so he asked if she wanted him to follow. All Chief did was bark out a low gruff sound as her answer, and then she raced towards the stairs. Mr. Ken followed.
When 'Dad Ken' got to the twin's bedroom he saw what was going on. He heard Robert try to get Kevin to sit up and talk to him. It was then Chief barked and the three lads looked to see Mr. Ken standing there. Robert explained what happened out in the parking corral as Kevin got up and went to Mr. Ken and wrapped his arms around him.
"Kevin, you just can't judge how some people treat others and expect they'll treat you the same way. If these boys are your friends when and if, and that is a BIG if, they hear about your dad they will either support you or they won't. If they don't support you, then you knew they were never your friends to begin with. From then on, you just go out and find other friends. In the meantime, if they hear about your dad, we'll cross that bridge when it happens. Now, let's dry those eyes and get you back outside," counseled 'Dad Ken'.
As Mr. Ken was talking to Kevin, Robert's cell phone rang. It was Charles who told him what was happening outside at the ramps. He told him essentially what Logan said and then what Cooper said and did. Charles told his older 'brother' that no one had left and they were wanting him to come in and get him and the twins. Robert thanked him for the call and said he'd be right out.
Robert told his dad and the twins what Charles just told him and that he was going to go out there and see what happens. The teen encouraged the twins to go with him. Dad Ken asked if he should go out there, too, but Robert told him they needed to handle it themselves and show the kids they didn't need an adult to fight for them. Mr. Ken agreed, but also told them he'd be there if they needed someone to referee. He laughed after saying that.
Kevin dried his eyes and then he went to pee and wash his face. When he was ready, the three 'brothers' walked down the stairs, out the door and headed over to the ramps. Chief was right there beside them.
When the boys saw Robert and the twins walk around the corner of the house, they all ran to them. They all tried to tell Robert they were sorry for making him think they would abandon him. They all said they were his friend and would stand by him. The younger lads went to Kevin and told him they were his friend, as well, and whatever made him think otherwise was foolish.
Robert thanked the lads for saying what they did. He then asked if they had any questions. He told them if it was too personal he would tell them and ask for another question. Charles and the twins stood there and watched on.
The boys had questions, but they were afraid to be the first one to ask. Eric saw their hesitation, so he asked the first question. "Now that you've been adopted, what is the best thing about it?"
Robert smiled at Eric's question and told everyone that now that he was adopted, he didn't have to worry about being moved to another foster home.
Cooper asked about his inheritance or whatever money he was to get. Robert told him that after all the bills were paid he'd be lucky to see much, if any, of it. He told them the house has to sell and everything and everyone get paid before he'll know how much he'll get.
Another lad asked Robert if he was going to save some to buy a car. Robert laughed at the question and told them they talked about that and all his dad would tell him was 'we'll see'.
Then, someone asked if they could see the key chain his new dad had given him.
Robert pulled out the key chain and the lads all oohed and aahed over it. The teen showed them the fob was a ring about 5/8ths inches wide made of polished nickel that had the words Three Finger Cove etched on the face of it. In the middle was a carved profile representing the Three Finger Cove estate and its shoreline. Attached to the fob was a two-inch long nickel link chain and a split ring where his house key was already slipped onto it.
All the lads had to touch it, feel it, and hold it. They all wanted to know where his dad got it. All Robert could tell them was that Mr. Chris had picked it up for his dad and that his dad was going to ask him on Monday about it. Robert said he'd let them know as soon as he knew. That satisfied the boys.
As the boys rode their skateboards, some of the ones who weren't skating came over to Robert and talked to him about what happened earlier. They all said they were shocked to learn about his parents and didn't know what to say, or even how to react. Some told him that they learned a lot from what Eric and Logan said and after thinking about it, they knew they were right.
Kevin's friends figured he ran away crying because of the way he thought they were treating his older 'brother'. Kevin didn't correct them. He figured the less they knew about him, his brother, and his dad, the better it was for him and his twin.
The day turned out to be almost exactly like every other day at The Cove. The lads skated, and when it was almost 3 PM, the boys decided to cook. They split up into groups and everyone did their part. The cooks that day would be David and Camm with Kevin and Kyle watching. That was so the twins could begin learning what to do when they are twelve. When it came time to cook the burgers and hot dogs, Kyle went in to ask his 'dad' what he wanted to eat.
Just before the burgers were done, Mr. Ken came out to the patio. He walked around and talked to the boys, but didn't mention anything about what transpired out in the parking corral earlier. The boys all told him how much they liked the key chain and fob he got Robert. They all hoped they could get one as well. Mr. Ken told the lads he'd ask Mr. Chris on Monday where he got it, and would tell Robert, so he could let them all know.
They ate leisurely and talked some more to Robert and his dad about the adoption ceremony. They also asked Charles how it affected him, and he just told them that nothing had changed for him or the twins. The preteen told them they were still foster kids, and as long as they don't move them they will be happy.
It was 4 PM when they finished putting everything away. The lads voted whether to skate or swim. Swimming won out. Then, just before the boys went to the Locker Room, Mr. Ken asked Robert if he told them about tomorrow. Robert had to apologize that he hadn't, but said he would after they are all changed and on the pool deck. The teen's dad said he was okay with that and walked back into the house.
Some of the boys asked Robert what his dad meant, and the teen told them he'd tell everyone at the same time, once they were inside and changed. All the lads hurried to change and then they waited out on the pool deck for Robert to tell them what his dad wanted him to say.
"Guys, dad asked me to tell you that tomorrow ... tomorrow is going to be a family day for us. We won't be back until late tomorrow night. We're going shopping for new clothes and whatever my new dad feels we need. That means that you will have to stay home with your parents, brothers and sisters, tomorrow," laughed Robert.
A few 'bummer's' and some 'that sucks' were heard, but the boys understood and they appreciated that they had it real good there and that Mr. Ken allowed them to hang there and have fun. They knew there would be other times like tomorrow, so they knew they would have to deal with it when the Covers had to go somewhere.
The lads played their usual games and the eleven-year-old lads appreciated that the bigger kids didn't pick on them, but let them play on their teams. Kyle still had his cast on so he couldn't swim. After a while, he went up to the Study to see what his 'dad' was doing.
"Hello, 'son', you can't swim, so you're bored I take it?" asked 'dad' Ken.
"Yeah, this broken arm sucks," replied the younger twin.
It was then the phone rang and when Mr. Ken answered it he learned Joel Carrier and Jose Cortez were up at the Main Gate. The owner of The Cove told the guard to let them in and he'd meet them at the Foyer door. Mr. Ken then asked Kyle to go and ask Kevin to change into dry clothes and meet him in the Study.
Joel and Jose shook hands with Mr. Ken and the three went into the Study. Mr. Ken had totally forgotten that Detective Carrier and his partner wanted to stop by that Saturday to see Kevin. The two Bandera County Detectives wanted to ask the lad if he could identify some of the men he and his dad met on Sundays.
"Kevin, Kev ... 'dad' wants you to change and meet him in his Study. There are two men up there with him and he wants you to hurry," said Kyle. Some of the other boys heard what Kyle said, and they were curious, so they asked Robert if he knew why some men would want to talk to Kevin.
Robert thought fast and said that maybe they were there to talk to the twins to see if they wanted to adopt them. Charles heard what his older 'brother' said and inwardly laughed. When the boys were far enough away from Robert, Charles went over to talk to him. They both had a good laugh over what Robert told the other boys.
Kevin finally got up to the Study and when he saw who was there, he knew it had to do with his dad. Mr. Ken reintroduced the men to Kevin and Kyle and asked Kevin to try to help the men out. Kevin said he would do his best.
Mr. Ken closed his Study door so no one would inadvertently enter, while Kevin was looking at the pictures the detectives brought with them. They all got settled in the leather chairs and then Joel presented a group of eight pictures for the older twin to look through. Kyle got behind his twin to look at them as well.
Jose was curious as to why the other twin was looking so he asked. Mr. Ken said he just wants to see who they are in case he'd seen them somewhere. Jose accepted the explanation and let the boys look through the pictures.
When Kevin was finished with the first group, he had set aside four of the pictures. Joel Carrier thanked him for doing that and he gave the twin another packet of eight pictures. Kevin looked through them and pulled out five pictures. Joel thanked the lad and then gave him another group of pictures to look through. This time Kevin only picked out two of the men.
Joel had one more stack of pictures for Kevin to look through. This grouping was full of young boy's faces. The detective asked Kevin to look through them to see if any of the boys were involved with the Sunday get-togethers. Kevin looked through the stack and identified ten of the faces. He gave the detective the names, he knew them by, and Jose took down the information.
Joel then put the pictures together that Kevin hadn't selected, without him knowing he'd done that, and asked the twin to look at one more grouping. When Kevin was finished, he told the detective that he'd already looked at those faces and none of them were any of the men he knew from their Sunday meetings.
Then, Jose asked Kevin if he would look at one picture at a time and tell them everything he knew about the man. Kevin started with the first group of four. It took him about three minutes per picture including Jose and Joel asking him questions about the man. When the twin was finished with the men, the detectives asked Kevin to tell them what he knew about the boys.
It was almost 6 PM when the detectives were satisfied with everything Kevin had told them about the men and boys. They thanked him for his cooperation and further they told him that every man he identified had been interviewed by them. They explained to Kevin they felt very strongly those men were involved and now they knew for sure with his identification. Joel Carrier further told the Covers that now they had Kevin's identification they would talk to their DA and they would probably make some arrests this coming week.
Kevin asked about the boys and what would happen to them. Detective Carrier told him that they would show them the same pictures to see if they could identify any of the men. Joel told the twin that the more the kids identify the men the better the case they would have.
Mr. Ken then asked about the potential for Kevin having to testify. Detective Carrier told the man honestly that depending on how strong a case they build, with all the kid's identifications, the DA might just offer them a plea deal. Joel said he already talked to the DA about trying to keep the boys' names out of the newspapers and the courts and the man agreed.
Mr. Ken thanked the men for that last piece of information and then he walked them to the Foyer door. As the men walked outside, the kids were beginning to walk up to the Main Gate to wait for their parents or ride their bikes home.
Robert saw his dad standing there with the men, so he went over to him and whispered to him what he told the kids who asked why Kevin had to talk to the men he was with. Mr. Ken laughed and then hugged the teen who went to catch up with his friends.
"Mr. Ken ... can I ask what that was all about?" asked Joel Carrier.
The first thing Mr. Ken told them was that he had adopted Robert yesterday. The men congratulated him for that. Then, he told them what Robert told their friends when they heard Kevin had to talk to two guys. That made the men laugh right along with Mr. Ken and the twins.
As the men went to their car, the twins went up to the gate to talk to their friends before they all left. They were asked if those men were going to adopt them, but Kyle told them the men said they were too young, and that they wanted older kids like Robert. Each twin had to hold back their laughter, and so did Robert after hearing what they said. Charles was in the dark about it but would learn about the joke when they went out to dinner later.
At dinner, Charles finally learned what everyone was laughing about. He then joined in on the joke. Mr. Ken talked to the boys about what transpired out in the parking corral. He told the boys that as long as they were satisfied with what their friends said he'd leave it alone. 'Dad' did warn the boys that at school on Monday there may be some ribbing or some downright hurtful things said. The man asked them to keep their cool and go to the Principal if the harassment goes too far. The boys told their 'dad' they'd have each other's back.
The Covers did stop at Dairy Queen for ice cream sundaes instead of banana splits. 'Dad' Ken told the boys they were eating way too much ice cream, as of late, and they needed to cut down on the sugar.
When they returned home, Mr. Ken only had a small dish of ice cream for Chief. As she ate the smaller amount, Mr. Ken told her he'd already told the boys they have to cut down on their sugar and since she was a Cover, like the rest of them, she had to do it too. Chief barked out a few Woofs and then gave her first master a few doggie kisses.
Everyone slept pretty well that night.
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