A week had gone by, and I got up nice and early and made a big breakfast for all my boys. The smell of bacon and sausage and homemade biscuits and gravy soon had almost the whole crew at the dining room table in various stages of alertness, but all practically drooling on themselves. The only one missing from the table was Scooter. He had been really depressed ever since the funeral home had been shut down and very rarely left our bedroom.
"Do you want me to take a tray into your room for him, Dad?" Ephraim asked me.
"Absolutely not. If he wants to eat my cooking he will get up and come in here for it himself," I said as I turned around and walked into the kitchen and then the laundry room. I came back with the fan that I keep in there to help cool that room when both laundry machines are going. I set the fan up just outside the door that led to the master suite, and then set the plate of hot bacon just behind the fan.
"That would sure get me out of bed," Brendan smirked.
As expected, a couple of moments later Scooter appeared in the doorway. He rubbed his face and then frowned at the giggling teenagers at the table. "Really, Cammie?" he growled as he glared from me to the plate of bacon and back again.
"It worked, didn't it?"
"You are an evil, evil man," he grumped but he did pick up the bacon and bring it with him to the table.
"You boys are on your own for a bit today, Scooter and I have to take care of business in town," I told the boys as they all turned into the feeding frenzied eating machines that teenage boys really are under those cute disguises.
"Business?" Scooter asked, blinking at me.
"Nothing major," I assured him. "We're just going to the bank to set you up as joint owner of all my accounts and assets, and then stop by Ray's office to sign my new will."
Scooter choked on his orange juice for a moment. "We're going to... joint... all of it? New will?"
"Dad, are you ok?" Ephraim whispered with tears shining in his eyes.
"I'm perfectly healthy and have no intentions whatsoever of leaving any of you any time soon," I said as I hugged him tight and kissed the top of his head. "But we all know that your Pops didn't plan to leave us either, so we need to be prepared just in case something should happen. This is just me making sure that all my boys get everything I want you to have if something were to happen to me. I do have to ask you something very important though, sweetie."
"You want to know if I am ok with Scooter adopting me so that he won't lose custody of me."
"You are such a smart boy," I grinned proudly.
"Remember what I said a while back, Ephraim," Scooter told him coming over to hug him from the other side. "I am never, ever going to try to replace your Pops, but it would just kill me to lose you if I lost Cam."
"I understand, and I don't want to ever get taken away from my brothers, even the bratty older one," Ephraim said quietly, and then stuck his tongue out at Derek with a giggle. "I just don't know if I can..."
"My name doesn't change, little buddy. I'm still going to be Uncle Scooter."
"No you can't be Uncle Scooter if you're one of my fathers," Ephraim shook his head, but he was clearly getting distressed.
"How about a suggestion from your brat of a big brother, Rimmer?" Derek offered. "Do you think maybe you could call him Papa? I know it's close to Pops, but it's not quite the same. I'm sticking with Scooter though, since you and Dad are going to be my brothers-in-law someday soon instead of my foster parents."
"Papa.... Papa...." Ephraim mumbled. He looked up into Scooter's face to see tears of joy. "Papa?"
"Well, it looks like you're going to be coming with us to Ray's office today, son," I said as I hugged Ephraim as he and Scooter held each other. I looked up to Scooter and smiled. "Congratulations, Scooter, you have three sons."
A little while later, the three of us pulled up at the bank. As we walked in, Ephraim waved at his favorite cashier who always snuck him one of the lollipops they gave to younger children of clients. The young man returned the wave and tossed Ephraim his favorite: a root beer flavored Dum-Dum. While we waited to be called into an office, Ephraim walked over to the play area for little kids and started playing with a boy who looked to be about four years old. The woman sitting nearby smiled at me.
"Your son is really good with little ones," she said still smiling.
"He has two brothers at home younger than yours," Scooter answered.
"You two must have your hands full," she laughed. Seeing the look on our faces, she giggled more. "I'm not blind you know. I can tell a couple when I see one. I learned some of the signs because my brother was gay. He and his partner lived in California and I stayed with them while I was pregnant with Billy. He died of cancer last year though."
"Excuse me," Ephraim interrupted politely. "Billy says he needs to go to the bathroom," he added just as the woman was called to an office by one of the bank employees.
"Oh, dear," she said looking from her son to the bank employee.
"If you don't mind, I can take him and then watch him here at the toys while you take care of your business," Ephraim offered. "I promise I'll take good care of him."
"That is very sweet of you, thank you," the woman said smiling once again. "I won't be in the office long."
"Frim, I gotsta go bad," the little boy whined as he tugged on Ephraim's hand. I smiled as Ephraim scooped him up and hurried across the lobby to the men's room.
"We've got a really great kid there," Scooter smiled as well.
Scooter and I were sitting in the little office with our designated banking official a couple of minutes later when there was an unforgettable sound from the lobby. It was gunfire. "Under the desk and stay there," I ordered Scooter and the young woman. "Do not come out, do not let them see you, do not let them hear you."
"Cam, you be careful. Remember, we haven't been to Ray's office yet," Scooter said as he grabbed the already shaking female and dove under the wooden desk with her. I shut off the light in the room as I walked out of the room to help hide the fact that there were two people in there.
"Everybody over against that wall," one of the masked men yelled waving his gun around the room. Another one grabbed Ephraim's favorite cashier by the neck and ordered him to start filling money bags from the cash drawers, while the third one grabbed the bank manager and headed for the vault. Little Billy began to cry and his mother called out to him and started for him. The first man yelled, "I said that way, bitch," as he shot her twice. One bullet hit her leg, but the other struck her in the abdomen. The other two robbers had run back out to the first one when they heard the shots. Seeing them all three close to one another, I caught Ephraim's eye and nodded. He returned the nod and got a steel hard look to his face. Billy was crying much louder now. "Shut that brat up or I do!" the robber screamed.
"How about I shut you up instead?" Ephraim said calmly.
"You and what army, little shit?" one of the robbers sneered, as they all three closed in my son.
"Me and my dad," Ephraim answered proudly.
Five minutes later all three gunmen were on the ground, two unconscious with multiple bone fractures of arms and legs, and the third, the one that had fired the shots was dead. I hadn't intended to kill him, but my strike to his face had shoved the cartilage of his nose into his brain. Little Billy's mother was still awake but in a lot of pain and was losing a lot of blood. Fortunately, we could already hear the ambulances on their way. The other people in the bank lobby were cheering Ephraim and me, and we were quickly rejoined by Scooter who hugged and kissed us both all over our faces.
"I know... who you are... now," Billy's mom whispered as Scooter and I knelt beside her. Scooter was applying pressure to one wound while I did the same to her other. "You're... ninja dad... from news."
"Don't talk, right now," I told her. "Save your breath for getting better."
"Nobody to take Billy," she wheezed. "You watch him for me. Will sign temp custody. Need paper." One of the bank employees brought over a notepad and the woman scribbled a quick note and signed it, forcing it into my hand before she passed out. The paramedics got there just as she did though.
"Don't worry, she's still got a pretty strong heartbeat," one of them told us.
"I couldn't see too much, but neither bullet seems to have hit any major veins, arteries, or organs," Scooter said as he stepped out of the way and let them take over.
"You got any medical training to back that up?"
"I'm a mortician and former assistant coroner," Scooter answered.
"I guess you do then, sorry about that," the EMT replied sincerely. "Anyone else hurt?"
"No, I don't think so," Scooter replied looking over to me. "Cam, are you and Ephraim ok?"
"We're fine, Poppa," Ephraim called out from where he was holding a still crying four-year-old, but was doing an admirable job of keeping little Billy from seeing his mother's condition.
"How did I know I would find you here, Mr. Ragland?" the Chief of Police asked as he walked up to me.
"Just lucky, I guess?" I shrugged.
"It's all these folks that are the lucky ones," he said as he waved his hand to indicate the bank employees and other people in the building. "You keep doing our jobs for us, and I'll have to put you on the payroll. I hear you had some help this time, though. It's good to see you weren't one of the injured this time, Ephraim."
"Dad has been teaching me everything he knows," Ephraim told him proudly.
"Well, it's a good thing you're starting so young, then," the chief told him with a grin. "If you want to learn all that your dad knows, that's going to take a long time."
It took an hour for Ephraim and me to finish with the interviews with first the police and then the media. When we were finally done with all of that, we looked up to see Scooter talking on his phone. "The family all knows what's happened and that we are all safe and sound. They also know we have a little house guest for a while," he added as he reached over and ruffled little Billy's hair. "Dragon Lady will meet us at Ray's office to make it official that we get to keep this cutie until his mom is released from the hospital. Katherine checked on her and found out that there were complications in the surgery, so the surgeons are still working on her."
"I thought you said the bullets hadn't hit anything major," I questioned.
"Cam, they had to call in Dr. Greenlee." Dr. Ralph Greenlee had been the cancer specialist that Dan Walborn had seen. "Katherine will call us when she knows more and she said she isn't leaving the hospital until she does."
"Let's head over to Ray's then," I mumbled.
We walked into the law offices and I was immediately smacked on the side of the head. "That's for scaring me out of ten years of my life today, Cameron Ragland," Janice snarled. She then grabbed me and hugged me so tight I thought my ribs would crack. "That's for being the superhero Ninja this town needed once again." She stepped back and then smacked the other side of my head. "And that's for turning sweet little Ephraim into your Ninja apprentice." Scooter was no help at all, the cretin. He was laughing his ass off pointing from me rubbing my head to poor Ephraim who was being squeezed to death by Auntie Piper.
"You little angel you," Piper was bawling. "Standing up to those big brutes with your dad like that. You both could have been hurt or killed." Piper suddenly released him when he saw that Janice was done with me, and suddenly I was the one holding the weeping princess.
"I won't get a lick of work done out of him the rest of the day. You know that don't you?" Janice grouched beside me.
"EWW! You make Auntie Piper lick you for work? That's nasty!" Ephraim squealed. "No wonder he calls you Dragon Lady."
Janice stood there sputtering and actually blushing and I would have paid good money to have a camera. She finally turned to me growling. "You just had to have your mini-me, didn't you?"
Ephraim retrieved little Billy from the corner of the room where he had snuck off to watch our craziness from a safe distance. What an intelligent child he was. "Billy this is Aunt Janice and she is really nice to kids. She's only mean and creepy with grownups, so she's ok. This is Auntie Piper who works for Aunt Janice."
"Auntie Piper? Him's a boy," Billy blurted in confusion.
"Well, sort of," Ephraim replied. "But it's ok to call him Auntie because it makes him feel really good when you do."
"Auntie Piper!" Billy exclaimed and hugged Piper around the knees adorably. As expected, Piper turned into a pink puddle of goo with a squeal and snatched Billy up and kissed him all over the face, making the little boy giggle and squirm and grin from ear to ear.
"So, you just had to go and interrupt another day of working on other clients didn't you Cam?" Ray fussed as he walked into the waiting room to join us. To my surprise, he hugged me tightly and whispered into my ear. "Thank God you are all right and the two of you were there to make sure everyone else was as well."
"Why Mr. Banks, I do believe there might be a human hiding inside your lawyer persona," I teased.
"Well, Karen seems convinced there is, at least," he shrugged. "Don't know where she gets these ideas, but I am so glad she does." He grinned and called out to Scooter and Janice to join us adults in the office. Piper started toward us, but Janice stopped him.
"He did say, adults, Piper. You stay out here with the other children," she snapped, but she was smiling as she said it. Once we were in Ray's office, she laughed. "When he first started working for me, I couldn't imagine having him near children. Now I realize that out of everyone in the office, he is the most likely to keep the kids calm and as happy as possible. He relates to them all so well, no matter what age. The only ones that he has trouble with are the little ones that are still in diapers."
We quickly signed the papers she had for us so that she and Piper could get back to their office, and then moved on to legal stuff for giving Scooter equal control and access of everything I owned. He had almost fallen out of his chair when he saw the figures we were talking about. "Holy crap, Cam! I knew you were loaded, but this is.... holy crap."
"I do not own any crap, I'll have you know, religious or otherwise," I smirked. I looked back at Ray and asked, "Any word yet on that other matter I asked you to check into for me?"
"Yes, thankfully my secretary was able to check on that and the party in question was more than happy to sell the building and everything in it. The police investigation is completed now so everything should be free and clear for you to open back up as soon as Scooter is ready."
"Ready for what?" Scooter asked us. I just handed him the file that Ray gave me. His eyes opened wide as he saw what was inside.
"I believe the change in name for the business will counteract the bad publicity lately, and today's events will only further enhance that effect," Ray told us.
"Ragland Scumachi Funeral Home and Crematorium," Scooter whispered as he stared at the papers in front of him. "You bought out the funeral home for me."
"Yes, I did," I confirmed. "You have spent entirely too much time at home, love. It's time for you to get a job again."
"I'm sorry, Cam," he told me quickly. "I didn't mean to become such a bum."
"Nobody accused you of any such thing, big guy," I corrected him just as fast. "The truth is you distract me too much from both my homework and my housework. I can't get a thing done around the place if I'm thinking about you laying around in our bed."
"And that's all the details I need to hear," Ray blurted as he jumped up from his desk chair. "Thank you both for coming in today to upset my whole office routine."
"But we still have to talk about the boys," I told him.
"Now what kind of lawyer would I be if I hadn't already drawn up that paperwork for you?" Ray retorted with a smirk. "You, Scooter, and Ephraim will need to be at the family courts a week from this coming Monday to have a very short meeting in Judge Albright's chambers. You don't have to bring Caine, but I would suggest it only because Albright is a real pushover for the little tykes. He loves being the grandfatherly type almost as much as my Uncle Reynold. Don't worry about him, either. I went to law school with Albright, Jr. and his boyfriend."
As we were walking up the hallway to the waiting room, Ray reached over to grab a large familiar looking jar from a countertop in a small kitchenette type space. He made a face when he opened it, and then growled when we all entered the waiting room to see his receptionist kneeling on the floor beside Billy who had an Oatmeal Scotchie in each hand. "Ms. Zendt, those were my last four cookies," he whined.
"Oo made deez?" Billy asked me with his mouth full of cookie. "YUMMMMMMMMMM"
"He was crying over his mother, Mr. Banks," the receptionist answered wiping a tear from her eye.
"Well, at least I lost them to a good cause," Ray pouted as he walked back toward his office. I promised the receptionist two dozen cookies would be delivered the next day.
"You are only to tell him about one dozen, though," I told her with a wink. "Thank you for helping with Billy."