As the younger lads enjoyed the skateboard ramps, Mr. Ken returned to his Study to finish his discussion with Jules Diamond about the security arrangements for The Cove and his 'sons'. It was then that Collin stopped by to say Goodbye to his mentor and Big Brother.
"Mr. Ken, I'm ready to start back to my house and Grammy. I want to thank you for everything this week. I just wish my new brother didn't have to experience what he did," said Collin, as he walked up to shake the man's hand.
But the lad's Big Bro was having nothing to do with a handshake and he pulled the teenager into a big hug!
As Jules Diamond watched the two interact, he finally saw, firsthand, the love that emanated between the man and the teen whose grandmother he unexpectedly found while looking for the mysterious person who had Three Finger Cove watched a few years back. In that moment, he came to understand the love behind the man's zeal for finding the older woman and trying to help the lad move on with his life. Knowing he was watching a private moment, he knew to just sit there and wait for their exchange to end.
As Mr. Ken and Collin finished their hug, Mr. Ken remembered Jules was in the room, so he decided to introduce the man to the teen.
"Jules … I want you to meet Collin Wilkinson. He's the lad whose grandmother you unexpectedly found a few years back. Collin … this is Mr. Jules Diamond. He's the man who ultimately found Grammy for us," explained the owner of The Cove.
"So … you're the guy who found my grandmother. I'm not so sure if I should thank you or curse you," smiled Collin.
Mr. Ken saw some confusion on Jules' face, so he explained, "What Collin means is … that if you hadn't found his grandmother he may not have had to go live with her. So, he's not sure if it was a good thing … but, after all this time, I think he knows it would have happened anyway since Grammy had already put her actions in place to get her grandson back with her."
"Oh, yes, sorry Mr. Diamond," began Collin. "Your finding Grammy only put the inevitable on the front burner for me."
Then, thinking about the name, he added, "Okay, now I remember who you are and what else you did for me. It was you who hired the twins – George and Gene – to watch over Ryan and me when we didn't know who the person was who was watching The Cove. Those two guys were really good, too. … Hey, Mr. Diamond, Mr. Ken says my 'little brothers' are going to need people to watch over them. You know, bodyguards, until this whole thing with Smokey and his motorcycle gang is resolved. Would you know if George and Gene might be available to be their security until this is all over?"
Mr. Ken just stood back and watched the teen and security mogul interact. He was happy that Collin didn't hold any grudges against the man who found Grammy and was pleasantly surprised when the soon-to-be-college student recommended the twin security men to watch over Robert and Charles.
"Yes, Jules," spoke up Ken Thomas, "those two men would be the right size to protect my two new foster sons." Then, a few seconds later the three had a big laugh over the thought of George and Gene being paired up with Robert and Charles.
"Hey, Mr. Ken, are my 'brother's' over at the skateboard ramps? I want to say Goodbye to them before I leave," said Collin.
"Let me call them and I'll have them come up here," replied Mr. Ken.
"No, that's okay, I'll let you and Mr. Diamond discuss George and Gene and anything else you need to about the security arrangements for The Cove," countered Collin, just before he exited the Study.
Collin walked over to the Parking Coral and he could hear the boys laughing and encouraging the others as they skated. The teenager stopped and watched the lads skate before he was noticed by Sam who told Robert he was there.
"Collin … come and join us," called out Robert.
"No, I can't this time," answered Collin. "I need to leave so I can get back to my home before it gets too late. I came out here to tell you guys Goodbye!"
"Ohhh, do you really have to go?" lamented Robert. "I wanted to talk to you more about stuff. And what about Charles? He just met you and you already going."
"Yea, I know … but I've been here for a week now and I do need to get back and get my things ready to go off to college in a month, or so," countered Collin.
That said, both Robert and Charles walked over to their 'big brother' and gave him a big hug. The three 'brothers' stayed that way for a good 30 seconds before they broke out of their brotherly hug. All three had a few tears raining down their cheeks.
All the other lads just stood and watched, knowing that what they saw was something important and had great meaning to the three boys before them. Then, as Collin gave each of his 'little brothers' a quick shoulder hug, he began to walk back towards the front of the house. Soon, thereafter, the teenager's new 'brothers' watched as he drove out of The Cove.
When Robert and Charles turned around to face their friends, they both had streaks of tears liberally running down their faces. It was then the lads' friends came to them and began to hug them knowing the sorrow they were feeling just then. Terran and Sam weren't sure if they should join the older lads in the group hug as they knew they weren't as good a friend to Robert and Charles as the older boys were. But, when Trevor and Chuck, the boys' older brothers, waved them over to join them, they eagerly joined in the group hug.
When the group's hug broke up, Robert and Charles used their t-shirts to wipe the tears out of their eyes. They then thanked their friends for supporting them as they did. The Covers also gave a special thanks to Terran and Sam for joining in. Terran and Sam looked at one another after hearing that and gave each other a big smile.
The lads slowly got back on their skateboards and continued to enjoy the ramps Mr. Ken had arranged to be built for them. The boys took special care of the skateboard ramps because they not only helped build them, but understood the ramps would only last for as long as they took great care of them. They all knew they had something special there and they didn't want to ruin it.
Jules Diamond called George and Gene and found they were available to work and they were eager to meet the people they would be working for as security/bodyguards. Jules arranged for them to arrive by five o'clock that afternoon to begin their assignment. After that phone call, both Jules and Mr. Ken had big smiles on their faces anticipating how the young boys would react to the oversized men.
As the afternoon wore on, the teen skaters began getting phone calls from home telling them the Sheriff's office wanted to speak with them later that evening. After three of the lads received the same sort of phone call, the twelve lads all walked to the Foyer door and they all went inside to talk to Mr. Ken.
Charles led the gaggle of boys into the Study and blurted out, "'Dad', oh, sorry Mr. Ken, some of the guys have something they need to tell you."
"Ok, 'son', thank you. Okay, boys, what do I owe this big meeting to?" teased The Cove's owner.
Logan was the first to speak up to tell the man that his mom had called and said they were to meet with the Sheriff's investigators that evening about six. Then, both Brad and Gordon spoke up and told the man essentially the same thing, but they mentioned different times. Ken Thomas thanked the lads for coming up to him to let him know the Sheriff would be gathering more information about what happened at the Carnival. The owner of The Cove then told the boys not to be nervous about the interview, and to tell the investigators what they saw.
As Mr. Ken was talking to the lads, he noticed it was going on four o'clock so he told all the lads that he was glad they had stopped by to talk to him. He then told the group that he and Robert and Charles were going out for an early dinner and would not be back until late that evening. He told the boys they could come back tomorrow, after twelve noon, and for them to also bring their swim suits. It was then that Terran spoke up and asked if that meant him and his friend Sam. Then, hearing that it did include them both, the younger boys got great big smiles on their faces and they received a few pats on the back from the older boys.
After the ten visiting friends filed out the Foyer door to head on home, Mr. Ken asked Robert and Charles to go upstairs and get cleaned up to go out to Four Corners.
Upon hearing that they were going out to eat, and for them to get cleaned up, Robert got a big grin on his face and then asked, "'Dad' … do we … are we supposed to wash, you know … up to our elbows, too?"
Then, knowing he better get away quick, for saying what he did, Robert began to turn to run up the stairs, but he was too slow. Mr. Ken grabbed the new teenager and pulled him into a hug and gave the boy a noogy. Charles just stood back and watched the play between his friend and his new foster dad.
"What did I do? What did I say?" called out Robert, as his 'dad' rubbed his knuckles over the top of his head and wrestled with him.
"You know what you said. You were teasing me about me always saying to wash your hands up to your elbows. That's what you said," teased 'dad' Ken.
"I'm sorry, 'dad', I'm sorry and I won't ever say it again," laughed Robert, as he was being hugged and wrestled with at the same time.
A few moments later the 'dad' and 'son' stopped their playing around and faced Charles. Then with a smile on his face, Mr. Ken said to his newest foster son, "And let that be a lesson to you." He then grabbed the youngster into the same type hug but this time he only wrestled with the boy some and didn't give him a noogy.
Charles was beginning to enjoy the closeness he was getting from his new foster father. Ever since he had arrived at Three Finger Cove, he saw how his new 'brothers' relished in receiving hugs from the man. He had also been on the receiving end of those same types of hugs since he arrived and he had even initiated some of them himself. The boy was coming to enjoy the safe feeling he felt in the man's arms, and it made him feel as if he was a part of a new 'family' and a part of The Cove, thus making him a Cover, too.
The light tussling didn't last any longer than what Robert received, but Charles didn't care. He knew from just the few days he been at The Cove that he wouldn't be treated any better or worse than his other 'brothers' there at three Finger Cove. He already knew that, unless the sky came falling in, he would decide to remain at The Cove when his two weeks were up.
With the hugs and wrestling over, Mr. Ken shooed the boys up the stairs to get cleaned up and changed into nice school type clothes so they could eat on the restaurant side of the diner.
"Robert', began Charles, "does Mr. Ken do that kind of fun stuff with you a lot?"
Robert looked at his friend and new 'brother' and replied, "Naw, he does that when he gets into one of his moods or when I tease him like I did. Why do you ask?"
"Well … I never had a dad and I was wondering … if I would continue to receive hugs like we did just now," started Charles. "At first, I didn't know what to say or do about all the hugs I got but then … after seeing all you guys getting them and … enjoying them, I began to relax about it. You know … I even found myself jumping into his arms for him to hold me after what Smokey tried that first time to take me away. I even cried in his arms some after I had to talk to those detectives. … You … you don't mind that he gives me, you know, all those hugs, do you, Robert?"
Robert went over to his friend and new 'brother' and looked him into his eyes and said, "Charles … Mr. Ken is our 'dad' … and if he didn't treat you the same as me, then I would go to him and say something to him about it. I've come to know that Mr. Ken cares about me and I know he cares about you. He is going to make sure you have a good home life and good clothes but especially he's going to make sure you get to talk to Doctor Doug so you can begin to work through all the problems you've had to go through ever since your mom got you involved with that Smokey guy. …
"Charles … 'dad' has helped me begin to see through what my parents made me do and has given me a chance at a better life. I know he will do the same for you, but you've got to give him the chance. And, as for sharing him, I already share him with Collin and Ryan and Eric. They were all here before me and I've never felt like I was being short changed. Now, come on … we need to wash our hands, up to our elbows, and put on some nice clothes."
As the two boys washed up, Robert had to explain to Charles what 'washing your hands all the way up to your elbows' was all about. After hearing the explanation, Charles had to laugh at it and then he laughed even more when he replayed in his mind what Robert said downstairs to his new foster dad. The two boys then quickly changed into nice clothes and met Mr. Ken in the Study.
It was when the lads entered the Study that they immediately stopped in their tracks as seated, before them, in the soft leather loungers, were two larger than life men. The boys looked back and forth at one another and then looked to their 'dad' for some sort of introduction.
"Boys, I want you to meet your new security detail, or bodyguards. I did mention to you that until this thing with Smokey and his crowd is settled, and done away with, that you both would have someone to watch over you. I want you to meet George and Gene."
Robert and Charles looked back and forth at one another, again, before stepping forward to meet the twins. It was Charles who then asked, "Are you guys as … as big as you look sitting there?"
It was George and Gene's turn to look back and forth to one another and then with a knowing nod they both stood up at the same time. As the men rose out of their chairs, it was Charles who gasped at seeing how big the men actually were compared to him and his 'brother' Robert.
"Yes, I guess we are," quipped Gene, who then laughed along with his twin brother George.
"Compared to me … you're huge!" simply stated Charles. "And you guys are going to be our bodyguards? Sheesh, I pity the people who get on your bad side."
"Yes, if anyone tries to harm either one of you we will take corrective action to convince them that it would not be in their best interest. It also will not be in your best interest to try to fool us or try to avoid being with us when we are supposed to be protecting you. Do you both know what I am saying? You do understand, don't you?" asked George.
It was Robert who replied to George's question. "Yes, sir, we understand. We'd be crazy not to. You could beat us to a pulp just using your little finger, I bet!"
Gene and George looked back and forth to one another and then laughed. It was Gene who now offered, "I think we're going to get along fine with you two. You two should be a lot easier than Collin and Ryan were with all their going to The Mall and meeting with their dates." The twins then laughed.
"So, you guys watched over our 'brothers'? When did you have to do that and why?" asked a surprised Robert.
"That was quite some time ago, Robert" began Mr. Ken. "It is a long story and we don't have time for that now. What say we head off to Four Corners for dinner, first?"
"George and Gene will be our drivers and security team for the foreseeable future when we depart The Cove's grounds. So … are you two ready to go eat and then head off to The Mall to get Charles some new clothes?" smiled Mr. Ken, as he asked those questions.
"Yeah," exclaimed Charles. "What are we waiting for?"
Robert didn't say anything, but he really did want to hear the story behind why George and Gene had to watch over Collin and Ryan. But, he knew that his 'dad' wanted to get Charles some new clothes and he did say the story could wait until they got home. With that, he went along with the idea of going out to eat and then to The Mall.
The three Covers arrived at the Four Corners restaurant just before the evening crowd. As they entered the building, the waitress immediately seated them at Mr. Ken's special reserved table. Charles had never eaten on that side of the building and was impressed by the simple décor but especially the view they had over the entire restaurant being seated where they were. George and Gene remained outside and took up defensive positions in order to protect their employer and his two boys eating inside.
"What are you boys going to order tonight?" asked Mr. Ken.
"I've never been here, so I don't know what they have," spoke up Charles.
Just then their waitress came by with Mr. Ken's and Robert's usual drinks and some dinner menus and then asked Charles what he'd like to drink. Charles was at a loss when he was asked what he wanted to drink, so he looked at Mr. Ken for some advice. All the man told the twelve year old was to take a quick look at the drink list and to tell the lady what he wanted. The boy quickly looked over the available drinks and settled on a coke.
"Phew … that was hard," said Charles, with a smile that only Mr. Ken saw.
"What do you mean hard?" an incredulous Robert said. "It was just a drink menu, and you knew what sodas you like and all."
It was then Robert saw the smile on Mr. Ken's face, and when he looked at Charles he saw that same shit-eating grin. "I smell a rat here. What are you two up to?" said Robert.
"I'd been here and ate on the Diner side, but didn't know which drinks they offered here," started Charles. "Then, when I saw the drink menu I knew what I'd get which was why I sarcastically said that it was hard. I guess you didn't see the smile I had on my face when I said that. Sorry!"
Right then Robert knew he'd said the wrong thing and he apologized to his new 'brother' about the way he acted. The two boys shook hands over the table which got them the 'look' from their 'dad'.
"Okay, guys … check over the menu and choose what you want to eat. The waitress will be back very soon to get our selections to take them to the chef in the kitchen. … What are you looking to get Robert; your standard burger and mix?"
Robert continued to look over the menu after his 'dad' asked him the question about what the lad was going to get. The new teenager knew he needed to either reply or say what he was going to get. Then, with a big smile on his face, Robert said, "The pressure … I can't stand the pressure. I don't know what to get. Why do they have so many things to choose from?"
Charles had been looking at his friend and 'brother' when Mr. Ken asked Robert what he was going to get. That way he would know how much he could spend and thus what he could get. But when he heard Robert say what he did about the 'pressure', he began to laugh. 'Dad' Ken saw the antics going on at his table and thought, "So, this is what it is like to have two boys, close in age, out to dinner." He just smiled at them and went back to his own menu.
"Sheesh, 'dad' you're no fun," teased Robert. "Why didn't you say something about what I said?"
"Well, because I saw that cheeky grin on your face and then I heard Charles laugh at what you said, so … I chose to ignore you. How's that for an answer?" smiled 'dad' Ken.
"Like I said …. You're NO fun!" came back Robert, with a great big smile on his face.
"Okay, you two. You sure are in a real mood today for some reason. What say we take a good hard look at the menu and decide what we want for dinner, huh? Charles, just pick whatever you want, and don't worry about the prices," added Mr. Ken.
"Is that because you own the place?" directly asked the youngster.
Robert got a big surprised look on his face when he heard Charles say he knew his 'dad' owned the Four Corners diner and restaurant. So, he asked his 'dad', "How did Charles learn that you owned this place? He's only been here a few days. It took me months to learn that."
"Now, Robert, settle down. We happened to be here to eat after he talked to the investigators and our waitress, on the other side, gave him a show and she kept calling me 'Boss'. He put two and two together and asked, and she told him. That's how he learned. It was all by dumb luck. So, don't be getting your shorts in an uproar. Okay, 'son'?" replied 'dad' Ken.
"It's just that he learned about the hidey-hole and now this. Sheesh, he learned stuff long before I ever did. It's NOT fair, 'dad'," sulked Robert.
"The 'hidey-hole', where did you ever get that name, 'son'?" laughed 'dad' Ken.
"I heard it on the TV. One of the shows I was watching called the place that when this man was hiding in a room underground. I didn't know what you called that room you have so I just said that. You aren't mad at me are you?" a now cautious Robert asked.
"No, no," replied Ken Thomas. "Now guys … can I get you both to look through the menu and get you to please choose what you want to eat for dinner?"
Charles looked at Robert and the two broke out laughing. It was then their waitress came by to ask if they knew what they wanted to order and hearing the laughter just told them she'd be back in a few minutes. All Mr. Ken did was shake his head and smile at the antics of his 'sons'.
Both boys finally chose chicken-fried steak with fries and corn, while 'dad' Ken ordered bacon crusted meatloaf with mashed and green beans. The three Covers then talked while waiting for their dinners.
"'Dad' could you tell Charles and me more about why George and Gene had to be security guards for our older 'brothers'," asked Robert.
"It's a long story, Robert. I told you that back in my Study, and I also told you that I would when we returned later tonight," replied Mr. Ken.
"Ahh, 'dad', can't you at least tell us a little bit about it? Please!" wined Robert.
Ken shook his head and tried to think of a way to get out of beginning the long story and then having to repeat himself later that evening because the boys didn't remember what he told them at dinner.
"Guys, what say we talk about George and Gene first and what they were hired to do to make sure you are safe. I think that is more important than hearing an old tale about your 'brothers', don't you think?" countered Mr. Ken.
Charles and Robert looked back and forth at one another and then Robert said, "Yeah, you're right. But, anyway, as soon as you begin to tell us what you want us to hear our food will be here and you'll have to start all over again, later." The three of them had a good laugh over how true that would probably be.
"So, while we wait for our food, what do you think we should do with all your friends tomorrow?" asked 'dad' Ken.
"Don't ask me," began Charles, "I barely know most of the guys and I have no idea what there is to do at the house. We could take a ride on that big boat you have, and maybe swim in the lake; or, maybe drive those little boats you have tied up on the beach."
"Not bad ideas, Charles," said Mr. Ken. "What do you think we could do, Robert?"
"I don't know, 'dad'. And Charles, those little boats, docked on the beach, are called Personal Water Craft, and otherwise known as the Jet Ski or WaveRunners. They would be a lot of fun but … with so many guys … it would take forever for everyone to have any real fun. We could all use the pool. There's enough space for at least fifty people in there. Yeah … if we decide to do that, then we could have a cookout and if you'll let us we … we could have a sleep over and that would be lots of fun. Then 'dad' since Charles is so new he could see how we do these things and learn how to do them for when he gets to know the kids in his grade. What do you say about that, 'dad'?"
Ken Thomas was beginning to regret asking the lad's friends to stop over tomorrow, but knew he needed to keep his boys active and their minds off what happened the other night to Charles. He still didn't know what he was going to do with the boys, but the idea of a sleepover did sound good as it would be a Sunday night and there would be no reason for the lads not to be able to stay over. That is other than the attempted kidnapping and the arrest of the bike gang hours before that. He just had to hope the parents would understand and, if necessary, he would explain the estate would be fully secure with security guards working 24/7 for the time being.
Then, there was his promise to take Robert and Eric to some of the amusement parks he told them he bought. He didn't know how he was going to make that happen now that Charles has come to live at The Cove. He knew it took at least a month, to get the paperwork, just to take Robert within the state, and it took him almost three months to get to take Collin and Robert out of the state. He knew he had to try to call in some favors in order to make a trip happen just before school started in August. He just hoped he could pull that off otherwise he'd have two very disappointed teenagers on his hands.
The boys could tell that their 'dad' was thinking about something and was thinking about it really hard. They watched as the man just stared out into 'space' and every once in a while they heard him mumble to himself. The two boys even exchanged a few whispers between them about what they thought Mr. Ken was doing and it never bothered him. When their dinners finally arrived, Robert had to shake his 'dad' some to get his attention so he could eat.
"Dad' your dinner is here … and it's getting cold," said Robert, as he shook the man's arm.
"Ohh, thank you, Robert, I guess I got caught up in my thoughts and … and I lost track of the time. Okay, then, let's dig in," recovered the man.
The three talked about what clothes Charles should get when they finally got to The Mall. Mr. Ken had to remind the boys that the summer clothes will probably be well picked over by then and the fall/winter clothes may already be out on the racks. Then 'dad' Ken told the boys he would probably only get Charles enough clothes to last him through the summer; then, he'd take both boys out just before school started and outfit them for the fall. That explanation was well received by the boys, and that in itself was a relief to The Cove's owner.
When their waitress saw the restaurant's owner and his guests were finished with their dinner, she began to clear the table and then asked them if they were ready for dessert. The man looked at his boys for any indication if they wanted to get dessert, or get going on their appointed rounds. Robert suggested they head to DQ after they finish shopping. The huge smile on Charles's face told Mr. Ken what to decide.
When the waitress came back to take their dessert orders, Mr. Ken told her that they needed to get going and would take a rain-check. The woman thanked them for joining them there tonight and hoped they would return, soon. Mr. Ken paid the bill and left a very generous tip, and before they left their table he called George and Gene to tell them they were ready to go.
The special vehicle that George and Gene selected to use for their assignment was waiting for Mr. Thomas and his boys when they exited the restaurant. They already knew where they were headed so the men immediately headed in that direction. It wasn't too long before the vehicle arrived at The Mall, and Gene got out and checked the area before he allowed Mr. Ken, Robert, and Charles to exit the vehicle.
Ken Thomas had already coordinated with the security team as to which stores they would visit in order to buy Charles some new clothes. Then, while George took the vehicle and parked it, Gene led the man and boys to The Mall entrance, all the while keeping a watch for any potential attacks or interventions. Once inside the building, Gene would direct his charges to follow the most direct route to the stores knowing his twin, George, would join them very soon.
The shopper's first stop was the boys' section of JC Penny's. As they walked to the available clothes, Charles' eyes opened wide and he got a huge smile on his face. Then, before Mr. Ken knew it, and without even buying the boy one piece of clothes, he had his arms full of a crying Charles who was overwhelmed with the thought of getting brand new clothes. The boy's mother had never bought brand new clothes for him before, and with the possibility of doing so, now, was just too much for him. All Mr. Ken could do now was to try to calm his new foster son down and help him deal with the flood of emotions he was experiencing. It wasn't long before Robert joined in to help out his new 'brother' Charles.