“Okay wait… what?” I asked.
“Yeah okay so let me explain!” Rory began, “Someone involved with the Gang that broke into the boys’ house, has been arrested. He has admitted to having knowledge about the home invasion that left Gabriel Murphy dead alongside the boy’s parents.”
“Okay?” I asked still somewhat confused.
“We are going to petition the following idea to a judge… So the guy was arrested for the distribution of illegal drugs. We want to strike a plea bargain, but a judge needs to approve. Any information that he gives which can help us will help him.”
“Okay? I’m still a little confused.”
“About what?” Asked Berry.
“First, this isn’t a guarantee. He doesn’t have to help us, ya know.”
“Given the opportunity… we believe he will.”
“Okay but still not a guarantee. Second, how can we trust this guy? I mean was he there that night?”
“We aren’t sure. We haven’t had the opportunity to question him.”
“When will you have the opportunity?”
“When? Well, we are sending our request to the judge as soon as possible,” Rory stated. “However, we might not hear back until Monday.”
“Is it possible for me to join?”
“I’m not sure,” Berry stated.
“I want in on that conversation… make it happen,” I said.
“No promises, but we will see what we can do.”
“Excellent, anything else?”
“Yeah, we are going to obtain phone records, but we also need a judge to approve.”
“The boy’s parents, Gabriel Murphy, and the landline to the home.”
“Why does a judge need to approve of that?”
“Legal reasons and also to protect our asses just in case,” stated Berry.
“Just in case of what?”
“What I meant to say is to cover our asses on the legal side just in case we find something and then we can use it in court. Without legal permission, we might not be able to pursue a lead, if something is found.”
“Alright well keep me updated.”
“We will,” Berry stated. “Enjoy your day Mr. Hamel.”
“Likewise,” I replied, “you too Rory.”
“Thank you,” Rory said and hung up. I’m not gonna lie, I was expecting something different when they said we caught the break we needed. I’m not sure what I thought the big break was gonna be, but I guess I couldn’t dwell on the issue too long. I decided to pocket the information right now and go pick up Clayton. On my way there I decided to call Jordan and my legal team to update them on the recent news about Thomas failing the home inspection. After a 10 minute discussion, we agreed that it would be best to reschedule the phone call till at least tomorrow. Jordan figured he likely wouldn’t answer and decided it would be a good idea to let the news float around Thomas’s head to see if we could stir up a reaction. I agreed with her assumptions which meant nothing interesting would be happening today. Anyhow, I arrived at the school and walked in, to sign Clayton out. Before we left, I checked with the secretary to figure out the time of game night for Ryker and Rita. After talking, I found out it was next Friday at 6pm.
Once we reached home, Clayton did his routine of homework, then a quick nap. Around 2, I decided to call my niece, Ashely.
“Hey Uncle G, what’s up?” She answered.
“Hey girly girl, how are you?”
“I’m good, just finished the school day and now I’m getting ready for volleyball practice. What about you?”
“I’m good, but I’ll make this quick since you’re getting ready. Are you free Saturday night, want to earn some cash?”
“Umm, I think so. Why?”
“I have dinner plans with a few friends, and I need a babysitter for a few hours. You’d be paid too if you’re interested.”
“I’d love too, Uncle G! What time you thinking?”
“Could you be here at my house by 4?”
“Awesome, you can bring Christian too… actually he can spend the night if he wants to, I’ll bring him back the next day.”
“Okay, I’ll just have to tell my mom.”
“I’ll talk to her too, but thanks, Ashley!”
“Well I’m looking forward to spending time with my cousins,” Ashley laughed.
“I’m sure the boys will be excited too.”
“Alright, I have to go, Uncle G, talk later.”
“Have a good practice,” I said and hung up. The rest of the afternoon flew by, I cuddled with Clayton as he woke up from his nap. We then played a few games of table tennis in the basement. He wasn’t the greatest, but he tried his best, and I let him win a few points. After our last game, I had to go pick up the remaining three boys from school.
I arrived a bit earlier than I usually do so I parked the car and stood outside enjoying the warmth of the sun. I saw Todd parked across the parking lot and gave him a friendly wave. After a few minutes, I was approached by a heavier set woman with black hair.
“By chance, would you be Garret Hamel?” She’d asked
“That would be me,” I chuckled.
“Wonderful,” she smiled, “I’m Barbara Molner, I’m Devin’s mother.”
“Ohhh, a pleasure to meet you,” I said and shook her hand.
“Devin has been so excited for the sleepover tomorrow, and I just wanted to thank you personally. This is his first one, so he is nervous and excited!”
“We will make him feel right at home!” I assured her. “Want to bring him over around 5ish tomorrow?”
“That’d be perfect,” Barbara stated. “Does he need to bring anything?”
“Just a pair of pajamas if he uses them and swim trunks for the hot tub which the boys like to use when they have friends!”
“So I’ve heard,” laughed Barbara, “Devin hasn’t stopped talking about Lincoln and your house.”
“Oh boy,” I chuckled. “Anything I need to know about Devin? Like allergy wise?”
“Nope! Just don’t let him annoy you!”
“I doubt that will happen, but I know Lincoln is excited to have them over!” I said as the school doors opened.
“Well It was a pleasure to meet you, Garret, I’ll cya tomorrow,” Barbara said as she extended her hand.
“Nice meeting you,” I replied and shook her hand. Barbara proceeded to walk back to her car and then I saw Lincoln running towards me as he was the first one out.
“Hey, bud!” I said as I got a big hug.
“Hey Dad, umm… I mean Garret,” Lincoln said as he blushed. “Sorry.”
“I like the sound of dad too,” I said reassuring him, “but not yet!”
“Hopefully soon,” Lincoln said as he looked up at me.
“Still a few months to go before you can call me Dad,” I chuckled and released his hug.
“Can we get the boat from storage for my sleepover?”
“What?” I laughed, “we are still a couple weeks away from even considering the boat. Plus the boat wouldn’t be ready anyway,”
“Oh… well that’s okay,” Lincoln replied as he hopped in the truck. Next to walk out was Ryker, and as usual, he was with his friend Hannah. They said their byes, and Ryker made his way to me.
“Hey Ryker,” I said.
“Hi Garret,” he responded with a hug.
“I don’t know, he was talking to his teacher I think.”
“Ok? How was school?”
“It was boring,” he said as he placed his backpack in the backseat. “Do we have ice skating lessons today?”
“And I think you start soccer this Tuesday. I have to look at the email again to find out your coach.”
“Really?” Ryker asked.
“Yup, we are heading to the sporting goods store and get you a few things.”
“Okay! Can we go this weekend?”
“Sounds like a plan,” I said as I lightly patted his bum as he climbed in.
“Hey no pushing the moneymaker,” he giggled.
“The moneymaker? You dork,” I joked as I shut the door. I could hear Ryker giggling as he found himself hilarious. We were in the parking lot for another 5 minutes and had no sign of Jacob. All the buses had left, and there weren’t many parents left waiting to pick their kids up. I started to become concerned that something was wrong, and started walking to the doors when I saw him appear. He was carrying a piece of paper in his hand as he made his way to the car. I decided to meet him halfway as I was curious about what was happening.
“Hi kiddo,” I said and gave him a hug, “what’s this?”
“It’s for you.” He replied handing me the paper.
“I think I’m in trouble,” Jacob snickered.
“Bad grades or something… I don’t know, you need to read the note. Mrs. Hector said I needed to give it to you right away.”
I was worried especially since Jacob was more reserved and not the one to get into trouble. I opened the note to find it read, “for excellence in the classroom, thank you, Jacob, for being a friendly kid and achieving good grades.”
“Did… did you just prank me?” I asked as I looked at him
“Maybe,” he giggled.
“I expected a prank like this from Clayton or Ryker… not you!”
“You better get your butt in that car,” I joked as I started to chase him. Jacob took off running, and I finally caught him a few footsteps from the car and wrapped him in a big hug. “I’m so proud of you buddy! Love you kiddo, you’re doing awesome!”
“Thanks! Love you too!” Jacob spoke, “oh and Mrs. Hector told me I’m one of her favorite students… like ever!”
“I can see why!” I said as I kissed his cheek and lowered him to the ground. “This is going on the fridge when we get back.”
“Yup,” I said.
“Cool!” Jacob spoke as he proudly stepped into the truck. I shut his door and made my way to the driver’s seat. Before I could start the vehicle, Lincoln was already talking to me.
“I asked Cameron again.”
“Oh?” I asked, “how’d that go?”
“Umm… I don’t know, he was weird.”
“Weird, how so?” I asked.
“Like… it’s hard to describe. It looked like he wanted to cry, but then told me to stop asking him. I asked him why, and Cameron said he wants to but can’t.”
“Okay… well I’m proud of you for asking him.”
“I sorta want him to hang out though… no one really talks to him, and he doesn’t have any friends.”
“Garret!” Ryker said interrupting our conversation.
“Ryker… we were having a conversation, it’s not polite to interrupt people.”
“Umm sorry, but umm Jacob and I wanted to know if George can come sleepover.”
“I don’t see why not, but we have to ask Uncle Calvin. And oh, by the way, Christian is staying over Saturday. So let’s have George stay with us Saturday as well.”
“Wait… Christian is really coming over?” Asked Lincoln.
“Yup and so is Ashley, she’ll be watching you guys for a few hours.”
“Yes, Ashley!” Ryker said, “she’s hot.”
“Eww gross! She’s our cousin,” Lincoln said which caused a smirk on my face.
“I don’t wanna kiss her or nothing. Just think she is pretty,” Ryker shot back.
“Boys enough,” I said stopping the conversation, “let’s call Uncle Calvin and ask if George can spend the night. Who wants to do the talking?”
Ryker spoke first, “Jacob should.”
“I agree,” giggled Lincoln
“But… uhh fine, I guess I will,” Jacob said as he nervously shifted in his seat.
“It’ll be fine,” I reassured Jacob as I dialed the number on the car’s Bluetooth. “Jacob you’ll have to speak a little louder than you usually do because the car microphone is up front near me.”
“Okay,” Jacob said as the dial tone rang through the speakers. After 3 or 4 rings, my brother answered.
“Hey Calvin, I have somebody here who wants to ask you a question,” I said.
“Oh… okay, I’m all ears,” Calvin responded.
“H hi… hi Uncle Calvin, it’s Jacob.”
“Hey Jacob, how are you?”
“I’m…I’m good. Umm, I was… we were wondering if umm…. George could stay at our house Saturday.”
“Oh, this Saturday? Umm, I think he is free, but I will have to ask George when I see him, okay?”
“Umm yeah… yeah that’s okay,”
“Alright Jacob, I’ll give you a call back later.” Chuckled my brother.
“Bye Uncle Calvin.”
“Cya Calvin,” I said.
“Talk later guys,” he responded and hung up.
“You did good Jacob,” I said.
“Thanks,” he responded. The rest of the car ride was talking about the sleepover. Lincoln wanted pizzas and was planning on moving his Xbox downstairs. One thing was a must that all three agreed on which was a knee hockey tournament. In total we had 8 boys spending the night, including my 4 so dividing up the teams into 4 would be easy.
Once we pulled into the garage, the boys all sprinted inside to say hi to Rita and to see if she had made any snacks. Jacob was proudly showing Rita the award he received, and before I got there, it was already on the fridge. I walked in shortly after and reminded the boys to do homework because we had skating lessons.
After they had their snack, they started homework. I checked it over, and everyone was free to do what they wanted for an hour. Before long it was time for skating lessons, and the boys loaded into the car. On our way to the rink, my phone rang, and it was from my brother Calvin. I suspected it was him calling to give Jacob an answer, so I put the phone call through to the car speaker.
“Hello?” I answered.
A high pitch squeaky voice answered back, “Uncle G?”
“George! Hey buddy!”
“Is umm… is Jacob there?”
“Yup you’re on speaker so he can hear you.”
“Oh… hi,” George said.
“Hi George,” Jacob spoke, “can you sleep over on Saturday?”
“At your house?”
“Umm I think so,” George commented, and we heard my brother in the background shout “you can if you want to.”
“You want to?” Jacob eagerly asked
“YES!” George spoke
“Really? Cool, we can play video games and go in the hot tub. Christian will be here too,” Jacob said.
“Wait… what’s happening,” Clayton asked. “Why is Christian coming?”
“To see you!” I joked.
“Oh boy!” Clayton said as he bounced in his seat, “this is gonna be so much fun!”
“We can play knee hockey too,” Ryker said to everyone.
“What’s that?” Asked George.
“You’ll see, it’s fun,” Ryker commented.
“Alright George,” I said, “the boys and I have to go, but we will see you this Saturday, okay? Make sure to bring a pair of swim trunks just in case you go in the hot tub.”
“But-but he is our cousin, I thought we could swim nakey,” Clayton said.
“Just bring a pair of swim trunks,” I said again.
“Okay,” George giggled, “bye!”
“Bye,” everyone said as we arrived at the ice rink.
“Clayton!” I spoke, “he is family, but you need to remember that some people aren’t comfortable being naked like you all. And that reminds me boys, everyone must have a swimsuit on this Friday!”
“We know!” They all sarcastically said.
“You better know,” I joked, “come on go let’s inside!”
We were greeted by Eric as we walked in and Lincoln’s face lit up. His boy crush was strong for Eric, which was comical to see. One by one we were helping the boys put their skates on, and I finally reached Lincoln to help him.
“Want me to tie your skates, or you want ERIC to?” I joked.
“So you want Eric?”
“No! please, can you?” Lincoln asked.
“Of course I will,” I said as I bent down chuckling at Lincoln.
“Thanks,” Lincoln replied as he released a breath of relief.
“Alright,” I stated.
“Hey Lincoln, meet us on the ice when your skates are tied,” Eric hollered as he opened up the doors to the rink.
“O… okay!” Lincoln replied.
“Alright bud, give me the other skate,” I said, and Lincoln shifted his feet.
“How many more skating lessons do we have?”
“Umm I’m not sure, depends how much longer each of you want to do it.”
“If I don’t want to do anymore, does everyone else have to stop?”
“No not at all, I know Clayton will want to continue and maybe Jacob, but Ryker starts soccer Tuesday. Actually, you are all signed up.”
“I don’t really want to play soccer.”
“Yeah that’s okay, we will find something you like!”
“Yeah!” Lincoln said. “So Christian and George are staying the night Saturday and then I have my friends staying over Friday?”
“You got it.”
“This is gonna be awesome!”
“I’m glad you’re excited!”
“Alright buddy, go have fun. Don’t trip over your laces looking at Eric either,” I said as I finished his last skate.
“Or looking at you!” Lincoln giggled as he stood up.
“Get going!” I replied as I lightly smacked his butt.
“Love you!” Lincoln stated as he walked through the doors!
“Love you too,” I said. Lincoln took the ice to catch up with his brothers, and I went to the stands to watch them skate and check my email. I remembered I have lunch with Jordan tomorrow, so Friday was going to be eventful, to say the least. I had the lunch with Jordan, the possible phone call to Thomas, and the boy’s sleepover. However, I wasn’t sure if we were going to call Thomas tomorrow or not, but I was leaving the decision to my legal team.
I also realized that I needed to call Keith and give him my thoughts on how many rooms and the dimensions of each room. In my head, I was thinking of 30 rooms on the second and third floor. Each room would be 18×18 while some of that space being occupied by an 8×5 bathroom. We are also providing each room with a full XL mattress, desk, desk chair, a dresser, and a small closet/wardrobe. With all that added, we still expected to have ample room for children to do what they wanted with their space. I also had to talk to Keith about the first fundraising trip, and with Jacob being with me for the next 30 days I had no other option but to go. I’m sure Keith would be thrilled when I told him.
Soon enough, my attention turned back to the boys and their skating lesson, Clayton was flying around, and Jacob wasn’t far behind him now. Ryker was good but not on the level of Jacob or Clayton. Then poor Lincoln couldn’t really seem to get the hang of it, he could skate, turn, and stop but it wasn’t very graceful. He was improving since the first lesson, and I loved seeing him put his best foot forward but I don’t think the lessons were improving him like they were helping the other 3.
After a couple of hours, the lesson finally ended, and the boys went to the water fountain. Eric came over to me to give me the usual progress update.
“Hey Garret, I would buy Clayton and Jacob a pair of skates, sticks, helmet, and gloves. Both are doing extremely well.”
“What about Ryker and Lincoln? And what about the rest of the padding?”
“Ryker said he is starting soccer next week, so I don’t know what that means and unfortunately I think Lincoln is losing interest in the lessons.”
“Well umm… yeah I will look into it.”
“Oh, and for the pads, hockey season doesn’t start for a while so we can train without the pads for now.”
“And if Ryker and Lincoln still want to continue?”
“I’d be more than happy to help them as well!” Eric commented.
“Well, I’ll talk to Lincoln and Ryker about it and get back to you!” I said.
“Sounds good,” Eric said as we reached the boys.
“Here Clayton,” I said as I bent down, “let me help get the skates off.”
“Thanks, these are tough.”
“I know they are,” I chuckled.
“You need help with your skates?” Eric asked Lincoln.
“Your skates, need help getting them off?”
“Umm no… no, umm Garret can help me.”
“Yeah,” Lincoln quickly blurted.
“Okay, Ryker you need help with yours?” Eric said as he walked to him. After a minute or two, I finished helping Clayton take off his skates and moved to Lincoln next.
“What was that all about?” I asked as I bent down and started to untie his laces.
“What?” Lincoln responded.
“You know what.”
“You were all flustered when Eric asked to help.”
“Oh that, umm… don’t be mad,” Lincoln said as he moved to whisper in my hear, “I was afraid of getting an umm… a umm.. what’s it called again?”
“I’m sorta lost here bud,” I said.
“You know!” Lincoln said and pointed to his crouch.
“Oh… An erection?” I asked.
“Yeah, I almost got one when he asked to help me,” Lincoln whispered.
“Oh,” I chuckled as I patted his outside thigh, “it’s okay kiddo. Happens to everyone!”
“Everyone includes me!”
“How do you control it?”
“Bud,” I chuckled, “we will talk about this later.”
“How about next week, on umm Thursday…. after homework?” I sarcastically suggested as I moved to untie his next skate.
“Okay!” He said and wrapped his arms around my neck for a half hug. “Love you!”
“Love you too!” I said, and I didn’t think he understood my sarcasm. I got the last lace untied and then kissed his forehead. “Eww you smell, you need a shower immediately!”
“I know!” He laughed. After helping Lincoln, we were ready to head home. I told the boys to thank Eric, and we loaded into the car.
Once home, the boys immediately stripped down and went to wash up. Ryker, Jacob, and Clayton all wanted to have a bath in the master bathroom. I got the water ready, and the three naked boys went zooming by and into the tub.
“You guys have fun with Eric?” I asked as I started shampooing Clayton’s hair.
“Yeah!” They all countered.
“Good! You guys looked so good out there!”
“Can you pass the hair wash?” Ryker asked.
“Yup, here you go.”
“Thanks, umm did you find out about game night?”
“Yeah, its next Friday at 6pm,” I said as I moved to washing Jacob’s hair. “Go ahead Clayton, you can dunk your head under water.”
“Okay,” he giggled.
“What’s game night?” Jacob asked.
“Well, it’s for third graders! It’s a mother-son event, and Rita is going with Ryker!”
“You think Rita will go with me when I’m in third grade?”
“You kidding?” I said as I stopped rubbing his hair. “She will love too!”
“I know,” I said and kissed his forehead. “You’re good to dunk your head! Alright Clay, stand up so I can wash your body.”
“Okay,” he giggled. I finished washing Clayton then moved to Jacob. Ryker seemed to have himself under control, but I watched to make sure he didn’t miss any spots. After the bath, I wrapped each boy in a towel, and they went to their rooms. As a surprise to the boys, when I tucked them in, I gave the boys their robes that Rita had purchased. I wasn’t sure if they would use them, but they seemed pretty excited about the robes. After tucking in Ryker, I went to Lincoln’s room, where he was still dressed in his sweaty clothes.
“Lincoln, why aren’t you showered?”
“I got distracted by YouTube.”
“Come on, you stink!” I said as I pulled his shirt over his head.
“Can you sit and talk to me while I shower?”
“Umm yeah sure.”
“Yes!” Lincoln said as he stripped his shorts and underwear off. “What’s that?”
“It’s a robe, you all have one now. You can wear this instead of underwear in the mornings or after bathing.”
“Alright bud,” I said as we walked to the bathroom, “what are we talking about tonight?”
“Umm, I don’t know,” he giggled as he entered the shower.
“Well this is gonna be fun,” I joked.
“Does my willy look bigger?” Lincoln said as he pushed the curtain to the side exposing himself and his hard cock
Somewhat caught off guard, I responded, “wait.. what? Your willy look bigger? First off, use proper terminology… it’s penis, okay?”
“Yeah okay, but does it look different?”
I took a closer look and chuckled, “no not bigger or smaller.”
“I think it’s small.”
“Lincoln, you have a perfectly good looking penis. Not too small at all, now pull the curtain back and wash up!” I spoke.
“Okay,” Lincoln said. “So umm why can’t we call you dad?”
Talk about a complete change in conversation, but I responded, “as much as I would love to hear you call me dad, and as much as I can’t wait to call you my son. We have to wait till you are officially adopted by me.”
“But… but you’re basically my dad, and I’m basically your son.”
“Yes, I think of you and your brothers as my sons.”
“Then why can’t we call you dad?” Lincoln asked as he poked his head around the shower curtain.
“Call it crazy, but I’m superstitious. Don’t want to ruin anything.”
“Oh,” he said as he ducked behind the curtain again. “What’s super…. supersti… superstitious mean?”
“Basically I don’t want to jinx anything. I don’t want you boys to start calling me dad and then have something go wrong.”
“What could go wrong?” Lincoln asked.
“I don’t know, but I just don’t want to jinx anything!”
“You’re silly,” Lincoln giggled.
“Says the 11-year-old who needs a talking buddy in the shower,” I said as a joke.
Lincoln didn’t respond for a few seconds but spoke, “sorry, I… I didn’t know it was weird. I just like talking to you… and you’ve already like seen everything on me, so I… I didn’t think it was weird.”
“Lincoln. I was joking bud. I enjoy every minute of our shower talks,” I said. “Cause I know when you turn 13 or 14 you won’t ever want to do this, you’ll want your privacy, and that’s okay!”
“I don’t care about privacy!” Lincoln giggled, “we won’t ever stop these!”
“Whatever you say!” I replied knowing it likely wouldn’t be.
“You sure it’s not my hot bod you enjoy most!” Lincoln said as he shut off the water and threw open the shower curtain.
“You’re a dork,” I laughed as I threw him a towel.
“Just like you!” Lincoln said as he wrapped the towel around him and walked over to sit on my lap.
“Let’s get you dry!” I stated
“Love you, Garret,” Lincoln commented, and he leaned his head against my shoulder as I used the towel to dry his chest.
“Love you too bud!” I replied and kissed his wet hair. After getting him dried, Lincoln threw the towel off and hopped straight into bed.
“Can you scratch?” Lincoln asked.
“Umm… yeah for a few minutes,” I stated and sat down on top of his blanket.
“Kay,” Lincoln said and rolled to his stomach. I pulled the covers down to the top of his butt cheeks and started.
“So you excited for Friday and Saturday?”
“Yeah,” Lincoln replied, “could… could you go a bit lower?”
“You and your brother,” I chuckled as I moved the covers to his mid-butt.
“Nothing,” I commented, “so what do you want to do with your friends?”
“Umm,” Lincoln began. He went on to list all sorts of activities, but the big one was a knee hockey tournament. He also asked if we could take the Ferrari for a ride or at least pull it out of the garage to show his friends. Then we got on the topic of Christian and George. Lincoln wanted to use the hot tub, play video games, and go someplace, but he wasn’t sure where. After a few minutes of talking, I finally thought Lincoln was asleep until he asked,
“You… you ever thought you were gay?”
This caught me off guard, and I had to think before I answered, “umm why you asking?”
“I don’t know,” Lincoln said as he rolled onto his back. “I… I’m just confused.”
“What do you mean?” I asked as I pulled the cover up to his stomach and started rubbing his bare chest.
“I mean… I know I like boys, but… but… I don’t know what I’m saying… I guess I sorta hope it’s a stage or I really don’t like boys.”
“Well buddy, as a matter of fact, I was gay for some time or at least thought I was.”
“Really?” Lincoln replied with a shocked expression.
“Yup, when I was around 13 or 14 I had a boyfriend for a year and a half maybe even 2 years.”
“You did? Seriously? Wha… what happened? Did grandma and grandpa know? Like… Like what changed?”
“Easy buddy,” I chuckled as I now ran my fingers through his hair. “I told you I will always be open with you and you can ask me anything, and I will answer it truthfully. I did have a boyfriend and… yeah he was my best friend, his name was Jonah. We started out just being friends, but it advanced to more. Unfortunately, after two years, I had to move away, and we went on our separate paths.”
“I’m sorry,” Lincoln said.
“Its okay,” I responded, “it was a long time ago.”
“Did grandma and grandpa know? What about uncle Lucas or uhh…”
“My parents and siblings knew,” I said cutting him off.
“They didn’t care?”
“Nope everyone was very supportive except for my brother Calvin. Growing up he didn’t really understand it and made fun of me. For a long time, his and mine relationship was not good.”
“Are you guys better now? Has he ever apologized?”
“As a matter of fact… no, he hasn’t apologized for acting like he did. However, our relationship started to rebuild when my brother had Derrick 14 years ago.”
“Do… do you think Uncle Calvin made you not want to be gay?”
“You know, that’s a very good question kiddo. I never really thought of it that way… umm it may have impacted me slightly, but he wasn’t what made me not be gay anymore.”
“What was it?”
“Well after I moved, I started noticing girls more, and my attraction to boys started to fade away.”
“You… you think that could happen to me?”
“Umm it’s a possibility buddy, but you have to promise me that you won’t try to change it yourself. What I mean is don’t force yourself to like girls because you won’t ever be truly happy.”
“Yeah but I’m afraid what happened to Christian will happen to me.”
“Lincoln,” I said. “You’re thinking too far into the future. Just enjoy being a kid right now, okay? Don’t worry about being gay or straight… you’re too young for it. You gotta promise me another thing, okay?”
“Enjoy right now! Enjoy being a kid, and don’t worry about what gender you like! Just have fun with friends, and be you!”
Lincoln thought before he spoke, “okay, I’ll try!”
“You better do more than try,” I responded, “just be a kid for right now!”
“Okay,” Lincoln giggled, “did you ever tell your friends or did like… like people in school know?”
“Well my best friend was my boyfriend, so I did tell him,” I laughed, “but no, I never went through the experience of fully coming out of the closet. Only my family knew.”
“You said coming out of the closet before, what does it actually mean?”
“Well to me, it means fully accepting yourself and being open with your friends and family. Basically, you aren’t hiding your sexuality and true feelings you have.”
“Am… am I out of the closet?”
“What did I just say?” I chuckled.
“Worry about being a kid, don’t worry about this kind of stuff yet! You’re 11 years old, just enjoy being 11!”
“Okay, okay!” Lincoln replied, “also umm… did you uhh ever do anything with Jonah? Like kiss and stuff?”
“That’s a story for another time.”
“Lincoln… it’s a story for another time, okay?”
“Fine, but I wanna know.”
“And you will, but not till later. Now get to sleep, you have a busy few days ahead of you.”
“Okay,” Lincoln said as he pulled the covers up to his chest. “Garret? Umm thanks for telling me this stuff.”
“That’s why I’m here,” I said and kissed his forehead. “Love you goodnight.”
“Love you, night,” Lincoln responded with a kiss on my cheek. After leaving Lincoln’s room, I went to check on the rest of the boys. Everyone was down for the count which let me go to my room and get ready for bed.
As I was getting into my sleeping clothes, I began thinking about Lincoln’s questions, and I started to reminisce about Jonah and I’s relationship. We were best friends, and we did everything together. It made me think about how different my life would be if I didn’t move away. I’m not saying I would be with Jonah right now, but maybe I wouldn’t be straight… who knows, it’s an interesting thought. Then again perhaps it was a blessing in disguise for my parents to move me back, because I most likely wouldn’t have had my current financial success and have 4 amazing foster sons. I weighed my options, and I’m sorry Jonah, the 4 boys outrank you by a mile! Once I was finally ready for bed, my head hit the pillow and I was out in a matter of minutes.
“Everything okay Ryker?” I asked half asleep.
“I… I had a bad dream.”
“It’s okay,” I said as I gave him a kiss on his head and started rubbing his back. Within a few minutes, he and I were both back to sleep.
Two paths in front of me, one that is apparently better than the other. One seemed darker, less favorable while the other drew me in with bright, colorful lights. The shining path just looked so fun, but there was a piercing sound that took my attention to the dark side. I couldn’t quite comprehend what the noise was, but the level kept increasing and increasing. The sound was laughter mixed with fear and screams. I was intrigued by it; I wanted to know what the noise was, so I took one step forward, my heart beating like a drum as sweat filled my palms. I took another step forward and another step. I started to notice someone sitting in front of me, I took another step, and the person looked at me.
I took another step down the path, and bags of money were burning as they zoomed by my head. Images of drugs, blood, and sounds of cries echoed around me. I took another step, and he was staring me right in the eyes. It was Lincoln, definitely Lincoln and he looked in pain. I began running, as objects flew by my head. Sounds of crying and crashing noises rang throughout my ear. I was 10 feet to reaching Lincoln, and I was stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn’t move forward, and I saw some other figure heading his way. I couldn’t tell who it was, but it looked to be an adult. The person started sprinting towards Lincoln. I took another step, trying to move forward. I took another one, and extended out my hand as the figure was closing in on us. Lincoln managed to grab my fingertips, and he started screaming. A deafening scream, which caused me to wake.
As I woke, the deafening scream didn’t stop, and it took me a few seconds to understand what was happening, but I quickly realized Lincoln was going through another PTSD attack. I maneuvered my body from under Ryker’s and took off to his room. I reached his bedside, to see him slumped over the edge. I quickly placed him in my lap and began comforting him till he snapped out of it. It must have been a severe attack because Lincoln didn’t stop crying for 15 minutes. All he kept doing was apologizing to me and saying he hurt.
I couldn’t do much, but I continued to speak to him and used my voice to calm him. After another 5 minutes, he was still worked up, so I wrapped a blanket around Lincoln to cover him up. I picked him up and then we went to my bedroom where I laid down with him. I had Lincoln to my left and Ryker to my right. Thankfully this PTSD attack didn’t wake the rest of the boys, as it was 5:30am. After a few more minutes of comforting Lincoln, he dozed off with his head resting on my upper chest. Then after my emotions settled down, I was able to fall back asleep.
Thankfully we made it through the rest of the morning. I woke up at 7 and climbed over my two sleeping beauties without waking them. I greeted Rita in the kitchen, and the morning routine began.
Around 7:45, Ryker showed up. He was wearing his new robe, that every once in a while flashed a glimpse of his boyhood. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than wearing nothing. He jumped up in my lap and burrowed into me.
“Morning bud,” I said as I was receiving morning cuddles. “Aww, you’re so warm!”
“Yup, you’re like a blanket.”
“Oh,” Ryker said. “Want me to get off then?”
“What? Absolutely not!” I replied as I hugged him tighter.
“Good cause you’re comfy.”
I chuckled at his response, “well thanks.”
“Morning sugar,” Rita said as she walked in from the laundry room. “How do you like your new robe?”
“A lot, thanks.”
“You’re welcome sugar.”
“You know our game night is next Friday?” Ryker asked.
“Already marked on my calendar!”
“Cool, thanks for going.”
“Aww sugar, it’s my pleasure. I’m so excited!” Rita said as she went to the fridge, “so what are we drinking today?”
“Water please,” Ryker said.
“Okay,” Rita replied. Just then we had Jacob and Clayton enter the kitchen. Jacob was in his robe too but still had a shirt on, and Clayton had his pajamas on with no robe.
“Morning boys,” I sad.
“Hi Garret,” Jacob said as he gave me a hug.
“Can I sit on your lap too?” Clayton asked as he was already trying to climb on top of his brother.
“Clay can you get off, I was here first.” Ryker harshly responded.
“But I just wanna sit with Garret.”
“So do I, and I’m already here,” Ryker said as he started pushing him away. I was just about to speak up, but Rita jumped in first.
“Hey Mister Clay, I need help with breakfast.”
“Huh?” He said turning his head around, “okay!”
“Good,” Ryker commented as he bundled into a ball on my lap and rested his head on my chest. Ryker was so lovable, and he enjoyed every bit of attention he could get.
“We making pancakes?” Clayton asked Rita.
“Nope,” Rita commented as she pulled a chair for Clayton to stand on. “We are making scrambled eggs, so start cracking the eggs into this bowls please.”
“Rita, are you gonna be here for the sleepover?” Jacob curiously asked.
“No, I’m sorry sugar. I have plans with a few church friends tonight.”
“You go to church?” Jacob asked.
“Yup, every Sunday morning! You want to come with me?”
“I’ve never been to church before.”
“Neither have I,” Ryker said.
“All you have to do is ask me to go, and I can swing by to pick you boys up.”
“Okay,” Jacob responded. You could tell he was thinking about it, but let it be.
“Where’s Lincoln?” Rita asked. “It’s almost 8.”
“Still sleeping,” I replied, ” I will go get him.”
“Aww,” I heard Ryker mumble because he had to get off my lap. I made my way upstairs, I stopped in Lincoln’s room to grab his robe, then went to my room. He was still sleeping, so I walked over and started brushing his hair to the side of his face.
“Morning buddy. Time to get up.”
“A few more minutes,” he mumbled.
“It’s already 8, I’ve let you sleep in longer than usual.”
“Okay,” Lincoln said as he opened his eyes some more and began to stretch. I wanted to tickle under his arms as he left himself wholly exposed, but I decided to hold off.
“Come on, here’s your robe. Breakfast is almost ready. Rita and Clayton are making scrambled eggs.”
“Okay,” Lincoln replied again. After a few minutes, he was up and moving. I figured his PTSD attack was the reason for the slow start this morning. Anyhow, everyone enjoyed breakfast and was ready for school. Lincoln was unusually quiet especially since he had friends staying the night. Regularly, he would be asking a million questions a minute, but he wasn’t. As we arrived at school, I tapped him on the thigh and told him to stay in the car to talk. As the other three got out, I asked Lincoln,
“Everything okay bud?”
“Yeah… I’m just tired.”
“Alright well your friends come over at 5, so maybe you can take a nap when you get home.”
“Maybe,” he said.
“Okay,” I stated and leaned over to kiss his head. “Love you, have fun at school.”
“Love you,” Lincoln replied as he stepped out. I wasn’t sure what it was, but he wasn’t himself today. As I left the school, I called Keith and informed him of my ideas for the building. He had the same general plans and told me an official blueprint would be made and sent to me by Sunday, I also informed Keith that I am able to attend our fundraising campaign at the end of the month. He was thrilled and said he would start looking for plane tickets.
After my call with Keith, I made it home and went to workout for an hour before my lunch. After my workout, I talked to Rita for a little, and she confirmed she would be able to pick up Clayton. She had her usual Friday shopping trip planned, so Clayton could go along with her. I went upstairs and got a quick shower before I went to my lunch with Jordan. We were meeting at a local sushi restaurant about 10 minutes away. I hopped in my truck and took off. On my way to the restaurant, I received a call from Carter’s mother just confirming the sleepover. She basically told me the same thing Devin’s mother said. It’s Carter’s first sleepover, what should he bring, and blah blah blah… after our short conversation, we said our goodbyes and I hung up.
I arrived at the restaurant the same time Jordan did, and we walked in together.
“Hey Jordan,” I said shaking her hand, “good to see ya!”
“Nice to see you again, how are things?”
“Been good, I’ve been able to calm down a bit more and relax since finding out about Thomas.”
“Well that’s good, how do you feel about calling him?”
“I think it’s a good idea,” I said as we reached our table. “Nothing bad can come of it, at least I hope not.”
“No, as long as we have the right strategy,” Jordan laughed as we sat down, “but let me look at this menu before we talk any further. I’m starved.”
“So am I,” I chuckled. “I haven’t had sushi in ages.”
“Oh really?” She asked, “I love sushi. However, American sushi doesn’t compare to the real thing.”
“The real thing?”
“Oh yeah, not even close. I studied abroad for a semester in college.”
“How was it?” I asked.
“Japan is amazing! I wish I could go back, but work doesn’t let me.”
“Yeah sorry about that,” I laughed.
“Oh no, I didn’t mean you,” Jordan quickly replied. “Oh gosh, that sounded terrible.”
“It’s okay,” I laughed again, “I understand. I was in a similar situation with my business before I sold it.”
“So I’ve heard,” Jordan commented.
“Well as a client of ours, I know a good bit of your background.”
“Were you on my legal team from the start?”
“No I wasn’t, I was brought on to your case just as I wrapped up another one.”
“Was it similar to mine?” I asked.
“Oh no, you’re in a unique situation. One I’ve never seen before,” she laughed. “It’s a challenge, but I like a challenge.”
“What makes my case so challenging?”
“What doesn’t make it challenging… you have some many moving pieces and unanswered questions. We have one goal, and that’s to keep Jacob with you, but getting to the goals is difficult. We’re lucky the home inspection failed, it gives us some time to develop a plan.”
“And have we developed a plan?”
“I think so,” Jordan countered, “this phone call is definitely step 1.”
“Well I trust you guys,” I commented, “we just need to make sure Jacob stays with me.”
“And we will,” Jordan said, “if you don’t mind me asking, how did the boys end up in your care? I know their parents died but how do you come into the equation.”
“Well, I found the oldest boy in the streets. He was almost dead, I mean literally almost dead. He was frozen, had blood all over him, and he couldn’t speak,” I stated.
“And that’s Lincoln, right?” Jordan said cutting me off.
“Yup! Lincoln is the oldest. After I took care of him, he informed me of his brothers, and long story short… I have 4 foster sons I never intended on having,” I answered, “but they mean everything to me now. I can’t believe the impact they’ve had on my life. They’re honestly amazing.”
“Well it’s an amazing story, I don’t think the boys could have found a better home and better foster father… the way you speak about them, it’s adorable.”
“Well thanks,” I blushed. “But it’s true, they’re great kids. They were just stuck in a terrible home situation, but all they needed was someone to love and trust.”
“That’s awesome,” Jordan spoke. “It’s so amazing too.”
“Yeah I’m lucky,” I commented, “anyway, enough of me! Did you always want to work in the legal environment?”
“No not at all,” Jordan commented. We had to stop our conversation for a brief moment as we placed our orders, but after she continued, “where was I? Oh legal environment…. umm no, my parents wanted me to follow this career path. I wanted to go into humanitarian aid, but there was no money involved. My parents weren’t a rich family, but they paid for my schooling, and they wanted what was best for me, so law school it was. However, I’m glad about doing what I do. I specialized in family law, so I’m still helping people.”
“You could still do humanitarian efforts on the side.”
“Yeah I could, but like I said, work takes up all of my life.”
“Well if you’re looking for more, let me know. I’m starting an organization to help children.”
“I heard about that,” Jordan commented. “Although I don’t know what it is.”
“Easiest way to describe it would be an orphanage for children without a home, who are runaways, or jeopardized. However, we are much more than your average orphanage. Each child will have their own room and bathroom, they are provided an opportunity to further their education. Plus if they are not adopted by 18, we will pay for the schooling. Basically, I want to provide children that were kicked to the curb or haven’t felt the true feeling of being wanted and give them the opportunity to succeed. A second chance basically. That’s all my 4 boys needed, and they are doing well now.”
“That’s incredible, what can I do to help?”
“We are always taking donations, but if you’re looking to do more than that, we have a mentor program. So every child in our care will have a mentor to talk to. It’s basically there to show the children that someone outside of the walls of that building, care about them.”
“Wow,” Jordan said with a smile. “You’re gonna start something great. I would love to be involved. Just let me know what I need to do.”
“I will, we just bought our first building and renovations are starting soon. I’ll let you know more details when we get closer to opening the doors.” I replied as I looked at her, “you know? You have a beautiful smile.”
“I do?” Jordan blushed.
“Yeah!” I commented.
“Thank you!” Jordan spoke.
There was an awkward silence before I spoke, “Okay, so should we start discussing the phone call with Thomas?”
“Yeah,” Jordan laughed, “would probably be a good idea!”
“I agree,” I said laughing with her.
“Okay so, strategy! Here’s what we need to avoid,” Jordan spoke, but all the sudden was cut off by my phone ringing. I wasn’t expecting a call but looked at the caller ID. It was Christian, which was unusual since he was in school.
“I’m sorry Jordan,” I said, “this is my nephew, he shouldn’t be calling me… he’s in school.”
“Go! Take it!” Jordan encouraged me. “I understand.”
“Thanks,” I said as I stood up and hastily walked for the front doors. I made it to the doors and answered his call, “Hello?”
“Uncle G? I… I wanna quit.” Christian said sobbing through the phone. “I wanna quit soccer, I wanna quit ev, ev, everything. I… I… I don’t want to be alive anymore.”
“Whoa whoa whoa,” I replied. “It’s okay, what’s happening? What’s wrong?”
“My… everyone ha… ha… hates me,”
“You know that’s not true.”
“It feels that way!”
“I’m sorry buddy,” I said.
Christian tried to reply, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. He was too worked up and emotional.
“Christian, listen to my voice kiddo,” I said trying to get him to calm down. “I’m here bud, just talk to me. Let me know what’s going on.”
He tried to talk again, but he couldn’t form a sentence.
“Okay, umm… forget about school or whatever happened. Just umm talk to me,” I commented trying to change the topic and get him to calm down. “You know you’re coming over on Saturday, right?”
“I…. I am?” He managed to say through his crying.
“No one told you yet?” I chuckled trying to bring some light to the conversation. “Ashley is watching everyone while I go out to dinner, and she is bringing you to sleepover. George is staying the night too.”
“George?” Christian replied, “he is gonna be crazy!”
“Hey be nice,” I chuckled again, “he is pretty excited I think.”
I heard a few sniffles before Christian spoke, “well I… I guess that’s something to look forward to.”
“Yeah! I think a knee hockey tournament is in the works for the weekend.”
“Oh,” Christian said as he was finally gaining a grip, “sounds like… like it will be fun.”
“I know, just be ready for my hip checks… they’re lethal,” I joked.
“I’ll be watching for them, but I’m surprised you’re playing old man,” Christian laughed.
“Old man… I’ll remember those comments!”
“Uh huh,” I said. “So you ready to tell me what this phone call was about?”
“Come on bud, it’ll make you feel better.”
“It’s… it’s just everybody hates me. In class, like 10 minutes ago, I found a note left on my desk with a bunch of drawn dicks on it and someone wrote, ‘for the queer who sits here, enjoy the dicks faggot.’ And-and nobody ever talks to me anymore, people are putting gay porn pictures in my locker and writing ‘die faggot,’ and the worst part is my teammates haven’t talked to me and… and every time the 8th-grade soccer players see me, they push or shove me. It’s like… like no one cares about me.”
“You know that’s not true,” I quickly replied.
“I know but like I mean no one in my school.”
“Have you talked to your coach?”
“No… I’m scared to see what he says.”
“Have you gone to the principal or any teachers?”
“No, it… it would only make it worse.”
I somewhat agreed with him, “wait where are you now?”
“In the bathroom, I ran here after I found the note.”
“Does anyone know you’re there?”
“I have the bathroom pass, I should be going back soon.”
“I think that would be a wise idea,” I said.
“What? Can’t you like come pick me up, Uncle G?”
“If you really want me to, I will. But you have to hear me out first.”
“So if you run from this bullying, it will only show them that it’s working. They will think they’re winning and it will get worse. I know this is easier said than done, but try to forget it about it. Take everything with a grain of salt and move forward.”
“Uncle G, you don’t understand. You have no idea.”
“I know I don’t understand kiddo. I wish I could understand what you’re going through but you need to trust me. You’ve done so awesome, and need to keep pushing forward. Don’t let these ass-hats get to you, you’re stronger than they are in every way.”
“But… but, I don’t know.”
“Listen kiddo, go back to class, ignore the haters, and keep rocking you. Go kick ass in soccer, let your play do the talking. Don’t quit, no one in our family quits. It’s not in our blood, we just prove people wrong and make others jealous.”
“What?” Christian giggled.
“Yeah I don’t know, I got a little carried away there,” I laughed.
“I’m passionate about my pep talks!” I joked.
“What was that stuff about ‘keep rocking you?'”
“Like I said, I’m not quite sure!”
“You’re funny,” Christian giggled.
“Well thanks!” I said before getting serious again, ” Look bud, what I’m trying to say is don’t give up. You’ve been so strong, don’t fall to the bullies now.”
Christian didn’t say anything for a few seconds, but then spoke, “I won’t.”
“Thanks, Uncle G.”
“You’re welcome, but are you okay now?”
“No, but I’m better than I was.”
“Call me again if you need to be picked up, okay?”
“I will… Love you, Uncle G,” Christian spoke.
“Love ya bud,” I replied and hung up. Before I went back for lunch, I regained my focus and walked back in.
Luckily, our food hadn’t been delivered to our table. I sat back down, and Jordan asked, “Is everything alright?”
“Umm,” I said questioning if I should tell her or not, “umm difficult question.”
“Well I mean he is better now than when I answered. My nephew, who is 13, was recently forced out of the closet by someone he thought he could trust.”
“Yeah, it hasn’t been fun for him. Especially with social media, stuff spreads like wildfire and the whole school knew he was gay.”
“Is he being bullied?”
“Unfortunately yes, it’s been very hard for him. His friends that he thought he had, have vanished. His soccer mates don’t talk to him, and other kids are leaving unpleasant notes and photos in his locker.”
“That poor poor child,” Jordan said. “You ahh…. you okay to continue? If you need to leave, I understand.”
“Umm no, I’m good. Thank you though, I think he is okay at the moment.”
“Yeah,” I said. “What were we talking about before the phone call?”
“Umm… we were just about to talk strategy during the phone call with Thomas later.”
“Okay so, first things first, you can’t mention or even hint to the bribe. He has to be the one to initiate it.”
“Okay,” I responded.
“And we also need a message of him saying there is an offer or a bribe. We can’t beat around the bush, it needs to be a clear message from him.”
“Okay,” I’m responded again, “so how do you think I should initiate the call?”
“You’ve met him more than anyone, so I was going to leave that up to you.”
“Uh huh,” I said. “What if I called to give an update on Jacob since he CARES SO MUCH! I can avoid mentioning the bribe, while probably angering him.”
“Like I said, you just need to avoid any talks of money unless he brings it up first.”
“Yes, I understand.”
“Good,” Jordan said. “Now if the talks aren’t getting the results we want, you can’t get angry. Just remember, he could be recording his calls too.”
“I never thought of that, but I will be careful.”
“Okay, you sure? Because if you mistakenly bring up the offer or initiate talks about the bribe, it’ll look like you’re buying Jacob and I promise that it won’t look good in court.”
“And what if he doesn’t answer?” Or what if he calls back when I’m not in your office.”
“Do not, I repeat… do not take a call from Thomas without us around. If he doesn’t answer today, then we push it back until Monday. We have 29 days to try and get this recording, it’s okay if it doesn’t work the first time.”
“Yep,” I said in agreement.
“Good, now do you have any questions?” Jordan asked.
“Hope you’re hungry,” I laughed, “foods here!”
“Oh,” chuckled Jordan, the waitress brought us our orders. I went with a spicy tuna roll and a California roll. I regretted those decisions as Jordan made fun of me the whole time because she didn’t consider it real sushi. Which in her defense, it wasn’t the most authentic sushi roll I could have got. Anyway, our conversation switched from Thomas to our personal lives again. I found out she went to Temple for her undergraduate and went to Cornell for law school. I also learned that her family and youngest brother live in Philadelphia, PA and she, unfortunately, doesn’t go home often due to work. The last piece of information I received was she was too busy to date, so she has not had a boyfriend/girlfriend in a while. It was a good piece of info to save, but I also realized it wasn’t worth pursuing as we are both too busy. Plus, I had 4 boys to take care of, and they needed all of my attention at the moment. However, she was a lovely woman with a great personality to match her looks.
After sushi, I followed Jordan back to her office. There the rest of my legal team was waiting in the conference room. Before I made the call, Jordan went over what she and I had discussed and our plan to talk to Thomas. Once everyone was updated, I sat down and connected to the audio listening device. I wasn’t nervous until now, I was fully confident leading up to this moment. I was afraid of me messing up, but I couldn’t back away now.
I dialed his number, and the dial tone started to ring. After a few seconds, the dial tone stopped, and we heard, “Hello, you’ve reached Thomas Giradi’s answering machine. I’m not available at the moment, leave your name and number. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”
I hung up immediately, I don’t know if I was relieved or disappointed. It could have been a combination of both, but then a guy on my legal team spoke up.
“I’d say try again.”
“I agree, but wait 10 or 15 minutes,” Jordan spoke. “Can you wait?”
“What time is it? 1?” I asked
“1:08 to be exact,” commented another guy on my legal team.
“Yeah, I can wait a little while.”
“Good, can we get you water or anything to drink?”
“Whiskey?” I joked. “but umm no I’ll be fine, thanks though.”
“So how are your boys doing?” Asked another man on my team.
“They are good, my oldest has a big sleepover at my house tonight. He’s pretty excited about that.”
“Oh, that’s fun, how many kids?”
“Umm 3 friends of my oldest and then 1 friend of my second oldest. So 4 then 8 in total including my boys.”
“I will say a prayer for you,” joked one guy. “The most I’ve had at my house was for my son’s 13 birthday. We had 10 kids in total… it was chaotic.”
“It should be interesting, that’s for sure,” I commented. The rest of the 10 minutes, we chatted about sports, specifically the blue jackets. We were close to playoffs, and I for sure wanted to take the boys to a few more games. Maybe even a playoff one, because the hockey atmosphere during playoffs is crazy. Anyways, the 10 minutes was up, and I reached for the phone and dialed his number. As the phone rang, the same wave of nervousness hit me. We heard the click of someone answering and heard.
“Hello, you’ve reached Thomas Giradi’s answ…” I hung up before we even had a chance to listen to his full message. Now I wasn’t happy, I just wanted to get this phone call out of the way and go about my day.
“Another 10 minutes?” Asked Jordan.
“Umm… alright,” I said. “I’ll take that water now.”
Just then the phone rang, my heart skipped a beat until I looked at the caller ID. It was Berry Rodgers, so I disconnected from the listening device and stepped outside.
“Hello?” I answered.
“You got a minute?” Berry asked.
“Make it a quick one!”
“Okay so the judge approved of a plea bargain for any useful information, but we don’t question him till Wednesday. The police want to question him first.”
“That’s great news! Can I come?”
“No, you can be outside watching, but you can’t be sitting in the room with Rory and I. The judge feels that tempers could get heated, and it would be best for you not to be in the room.”
“Okay, but I will be there. At least watching outside of the room.”
“I suspected that,” Berry stated. “Questioning starts at 10:30 at the county jail. You’ll need clearance but leave that to Rory.”
“Where is Rory?”
“Working a shift right now,” Berry said.
“Oh, okay…. what about the phone records?”
“We haven’t received word.”
“Well, I’ll take small chunks of good news… looking forward to Wednesday. I have to run!”
“So do I, take care,” Berry said and hung up. It was a quick conversation that killed about 2 of the 10 minutes. I went back into the conference room and reconnected to the listening device. Chatter between everyone was kept pretty light, and before long, the time was up. We even allowed for an extra 5 minutes.
I redialed his number, and the phone started ringing. However, we didn’t make it to the full dial tone. Actually, we barely made it past 3 dial tones before we were cut off and received his voicemail. I immediately dialed back, but now we didn’t even hear the dial tone, it went straight to his answering machine. It was disappointing, I was ready to go and give it a shot. Now I had to wait because I wasn’t calling back another time. Thomas was clearly by his phone, he just didn’t answer it.
“Should we try my phone?” Jordan asked.
“No, not today. I’m done, we can try on Monday.”
“I’ve taken enough of y’all’s time. He can wait until Monday, but it’d be a good idea to use someone else’s phone.”
“I agree,” stated a man on my legal team.
“Alright, Monday it is, we will see you around when?”
Umm,” I said. “Let shoot for earlier in the morning, like 10:30.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“Alright, cya you all Monday,” I said and stood up and walked to my car. On my way to the parking lot, I just couldn’t help to think what Thomas was doing. I mean I understand that he is probably pissed off, more than pissed off. However, taking the phone call was unlike him. To me, Thomas liked to hear himself talk and I thought he would seize on this opportunity. Who knows, maybe he lawyered up like I did and has been told to avoid contact. Yet, I had to put it past me and look forward towards the boy’s sleepover and the weekend.
It was now 2:00 pm and I had two hours to kill before I went to pick up the boys. I decided to go to the Mercedes dealership and check up with them. As soon as I walked into the dealer, I saw the car I’ve wanted for years. I mean minus the Ferrari of course. I couldn’t resist though, within minutes I was in the salesman’s office, and I was negotiating prices. After 45 minutes, I was walking away with a brand new S63 AMG. It might have been a pick me up buy, and I may regret the decision, but this car is fantastic. It can basically drive itself on the highway, massages your back in all seats, minus the back middle. It’s exterior is white, similar to the Ferrari but the new car had a cream white interior. I was able to trade my truck in and get $28,000, and another 45 minutes later, I was driving off the lot in my new car.
Since it was 3:30, I decided to head straight to the school. It took me a while to get used to driving this vehicle, but it was terrific. So comfortable, yet so fast when needed. I arrived at the school right on time and stood outside the S63 so the boys would recognize it.
First out was Ryker, and he didn’t notice the car until I opened the door for him. His mouth literally dropped, he was so amazed and baffled. I mean he had a miniature tv attached to the front seat, and he was messing around with all the seat functions. Lincoln was next to arrive, and he had the same reaction except he was in the front seat, and began playing around with the seat massage. Last was Jacob, and he took the back right seat which also had a miniature tv attached to the front. To say the boys liked the new car, would be an understatement. As soon as we got on the road, I turned on all four massaging seats, and the boys were in heaven. It was quite comical to see them so quiet.
Anyway, we made it home, and Lincoln went upstairs to take his nap. I showed Clayton and Rita the car while Ryker went upstairs and Jacob went to the family room to watch TV.
With about 15 minutes before his friends arrived, I went upstairs to wake Lincoln.
“Hey bud,” I said as I pulled back his covers and started rubbing his back. “You’ve got 15 minutes till your friends get here.”
“Are you feeling better with extra rest?”
“I don’t know I’m still waking up,” Lincoln said as he stretched his arms.
“Big mistake!” I said as I attacked his underarms. I’ve never seen a boy squirm and laugh so hard as Lincoln did. He tried to close his arms, but I moved to his neck and tummy. The secret to Lincoln is he’s ticklish anywhere, so he was always easy to pounce on. After a minute or two, I ceased my attack and collapse next to Lincoln. He was still trying to regain his breath.
“Why,” Lincoln said as he let out a big breath, “did you do that?”
“Cause you’re too darn cute, and I passed on an opportunity earlier today.”
“Oh my gosh, my tummy hurts from laughing.”
“Love ya,” I said and kissed his cheek. “Get moving, you’ve got company coming, and I don’t think they want to be greeted by a naked Lincoln!”
“I think that’s a pretty good greeting,” Lincoln giggled as he kicked off the sheets.
“Or a scary one!”
“I know I’m teasing,” I stated as I stood up from his bed. “Get moving! Take your Xbox downstairs if you want to.”
“Okay,” Lincoln replied. I walked out of his room and went downstairs. Since Rita took care of Clayton for most of the day, I decided to let her go early. She was still gonna stay for 30 minutes and leave around 5:30, but it was earlier than usual.
After a short wait, our doorbell rang, and Lincoln came flying down the steps to open the door.
“Hey Max, hey Dylan!” Lincoln said. “Hi, Mrs. Brumm.”
“Hey!” Both boys echoed.
“What’s up fellas,” I said as I walked over. “How are you, Joanne?”
“Hi Garret,” both boys said as they walked by me.
“I’m good, excited for our dinner tomorrow!”
“So am I! Haven’t been out for an adult dinner in ages.”
“Tell me about it,” Joanne said. “We’ve been so busy with the kids, and then Dylan starts soccer Tuesday. It’s just gonna add to the chaos.”
“Ryker starts soccer too! Well, all the boys do, but I don’t think Lincoln will play.”
“Well, maybe we are lucky and have our kids on the same team. Carpools are the easiest thing. In the fall league, we had a system with another family who lived in the neighborhood. I think he is on Dylan’s team again, I’ll have to check.”
“Who’s his coach?” I asked.
“Ohhh umm I’m not sure, Todd knows more than me.”
“Well, maybe we will get lucky and be on the same team!” I said.
“That would be lovely!” Joanne said as another car pulled into our driveway. “Well, it looks like you’re gonna be busy. I’ll let you go!”
“Cya tomorrow,” I commented and hollered for Lincoln to come to the door. I could literally hear his footsteps down the hall as he sprinted to the front door and ducked under my arm to see who it was.
“Hey Devin!” Lincoln said.
“Dude! This house is ginormous. I didn’t even know houses like this existed. This must be like a billion dollars?”
“Devin,” Barbara said, “be respectful, that’s not an appropriate question.”
“Sorry,” Devin said as he walked to the front door.
“Come on, Max is here. We are in the family room,” Lincoln said as the two ran by me.
“I’m so sorry for my sons non-existent manners!” Barbara stated as she was visibly embarrassed.
“It’s okay.” I chuckled, “they are just excited!”
“Doesn’t mean he can’t use his manners!” Barbara commented as she handed me Devin’s bag.
“Would you like to come in for a coffee or something?”
“Oh no thank you. I’m running late for a dinner date with my husband. Any certain time he needs to be picked up?”
“Anytime before 4 would be good!”
“Okay well thank you!” Barbara said as she shook my hand. Not long after Devins mother left, did Carter and his mother arrive. Carter’s reaction was very similar to Devins as they were both amazed by the house. After speaking to Carter’s mother for a short while, she left, and I walked into the family room. I hollered for Jacob and Clayton to join the others, and soon all 8 boys were sitting in the family room.
“Alright, so you guys can call me Garret! I don’t like any of that Mr. Hamel stuff,” I started. “So I was thinking around 7ish we order some pizza and wings for dinner, which allows you guys to play video games and use the game room. Unfortunately, I think it’s supposed to rain later tonight, so if you want to use the hot tub, I would suggest using it sooner than later.”
“Can we see the Ferrari?” Carter asked.
I chuckled at his question, “of course, follow me to the garage!”
“Yes,” Carter said. As we were walking to the Ferrari, I shared that the boys could drink anything from the fridge and that Rita had bought snacks for everyone. Speaking of Rita, she was leaving as we walked into the garage.
As soon as the boys saw the white Ferrari, I heard a gasp from Devin and Carter. The others have all seen it, so it wasn’t that big of a shock. I actually think Lincoln and Ryker liked the new S63 better than the Ferrari because they were showing Max and Dylan all the features of the new car. After a few photos, I think for their Instagram or SnapChat account, Carter and Devin had enough.
The boys all went inside and went there separate ways with the four older ones going downstairs and the younger ones heading upstairs to Ryker’s room. I took this opportunity of peace and quietness to call my sister.
“Hey bro,” she answered.
“Hey, how are you?”
“He’s okay…. he umm told me about today. Thanks for taking his call and everything. You are really helping him through this.”
“I love the kid, of course, I would help him through anything.”
“Oh I know, I just appreciate it,” Kelly spoke.
“He can call me anytime.”
“I know… so what’s up?”
“Just updating you, I’m traveling out the last weekend in March for fundraising. Keith and I are heading to Chicago.”
“End of March?” Kelly said, “Garret… that’s Easter weekend.”
“What? Is not.”
“Is too… Easter is March 27.”
“Oh my gosh, completely forgot about Easter. Who’s turn is it to host?”
“Mom and dad’s turn, I just talked about it with mom today. She’s so excited.”
“Why didn’t she tell me when she was up here.”
“I don’t know.”
“I’ll deal with it later,” I said
“Well, she’s expecting everyone to be there, especially since it’s your boys first holiday with us as a family.”
“I’ll figure something out!”
“I know you will.”
“So I’m assuming you won’t be able to make the trip?”
“To Chicago?” Kelly asked. “Absolutely not, plus I don’t have any of those children placed.”
“How’s that coming along?”
“I think I have a potential home for the girls, but I haven’t found the right match for the boy. I thought I had someone lined up, but they didn’t want to.”
“Are you talking about me?” I questioned.
“Partly, but there was another two parent home that I thought would suit him good. However, they already have 3 foster kids and didn’t want another at this point.”
“Oh, so I’m not the only one to reject a child?”
“Well, they are not financially set like you nor do they have space in their home. You were literally the perfect match. You already have experience with abused boys, and you’re so loving and kind.”
“I’m sorry it’s just too much.”
“I don’t want to take another boy in.”
“What’s one more?”
“It’s a lot… I just don’t want another kid to look after.”
“Oh, okay… so if something happened to Tom and I, you wouldn’t take in our kids?”
“That’s a completely different scenario,” I said. “Of course I would take them in, they’re family Kelly. But integrating another child in with my 4 boys is too much. I’m still trying to figure out Lincoln’s PTSD and Jacob’s grandparents. I mean maybe he becomes the first kid in our building and organization.”
“I can’t wait that long,” Kelly shot back. “You would be the perfect match for him. He is such a cutie and sweetheart too.”
“You’re killing me, Kelly, do you not think I want to help him? I would love to, by I’m still trying to help my 4 boys become adapted to life without their parents. It’s…. it’s just not possible right now. I’m sorry, I just don’t want to take on another boy. You don’t have to make me feel like shit about my decision either.”
“I wasn’t trying to make you feel like shit, I just was saying he would be a good match. That’s all, now let’s move on.”
“Good,” I said. “Look I think I have to go!”
“Alright, I’ll uhh…. I’ll talk to you later,” Kelly stated.
“Bye sis,” I replied and hung up. I pondered what I just said to Kelly. Maybe I was selfish, perhaps I should take this kid. Yet would it be too much? My focus would now be divided among 5 kids if I took the extra child that Kelly was trying to place. Realistically, it’s not a good time or setting to bring in another child, especially with Lincoln and his PTSD. After a few more minutes of going back and forth in my head, I came to the conclusion that what I told Kelly was the right decision. I left my office and hollered to both groups of boys.
They all met me in the kitchen and about the hot tub. Since I told the boys it was likely to rain and storm later tonight, they all hopped in the suits. I went outside and opened the hot tub for them, and minutes later, boys were flying out the door and into the warm water. One by one they all jumped in, and I turned on the jets. Meanwhile, I walked back inside to get my phone to keep myself entertained.
After 45 minutes in the hot tub, they were ready to get out. It was perfect timing since we still had to order pizza. So as I handed them towels, they each took off to different locations to change. I picked up my phone and ordered 7 pizzas from dominos, which should be plenty.
After everyone was changed out of their wet swimsuits, I threw all wet clothes in the dryer. Soon enough the pizza came, and the boys plus me devoured all 7 pizzas. Then once again they were off into separate groups. The rest of the night flew by, and I was in my bed by 11:30. I knew Clayton and Jacob were sleeping as I tucked them in, but I wasn’t sure if Ryker and Dylan had fallen asleep. I was confident the boys in the basement weren’t sleeping as I heard laughter every once in a while. Although, around 11:45, I dozed off and was sleeping like a baby.
Saturday morning I woke around 7 am and went to the kitchen for coffee. I was trying to figure out what I could do for breakfast, but I decided to leave for donuts… yes I know, I left the boys all alone… but hear me out, the Dunkin’ Donuts is a 5-minute drive from my house. I left a note explaining what I was doing, and I would be back. I hopped in the GLS and left at 7:05 and was back in my house at 7:18 with two dozen donuts, without anyone even noticing I was gone. Yeah, might not have been my greatest decision, but I was gone for 13 minutes… no harm no foul.
Anyway, I put the donuts out on the table and went to turn on some tv. Around 8, I was greeted by Clayton as he came over and jumped on my lap.
“Hi,” Clayton responded as he nuzzled his body into mine.
“How’d you sleep?”
“You look tired still,” I chuckled as I kissed the top of his head.
“Well, there are donuts on the table if,”
“Donuts!” Clayton said cutting me off as he perked his head up.
“Yeah,” I laughed. “I was gonna say there are donuts on the table if you’re hungry.”
“Okay!” He said as Clayton hopped off my lap and ran to the kitchen. He came back with two donuts. One already half eaten and had the icing on his nose and cheeks. He walked back over and plopped a squat on my lap again. “I love donuts!”
“I can tell,” I said as I laughed at him. He was just too darn adorable, and anything he did was just funny to me. “Did you leave any donuts for others?”
“Duh… there’s like a hundred over there!”
“Okay,” I chuckled. “Here, let me go get you a napkin… you have icing everywhere.”
“I know, I’m saving it for later,” Clayton giggled.
“Yeah okay,” I replied and placed him beside me. I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a few paper towels. After he finished his donuts, he got a glass of milk, and we cuddled together on the couch. I always love the one on one affection time for each of the boys.
We were soon joined by Jacob, and he had two donuts as well. Since no one else was awake, Jacob watched tv with us. I had Jacob to the right of me with his legs on my lap and Clayton’s to the left with him resting his head near my thigh with a pillow. As we watched tv, I scratched Jacob’s legs and lower thighs while I rubbed Clayton’s head. I’m pretty sure both of them fell asleep again. However, they weren’t asleep for too long because Ryker and Dylan came downstairs at 9. Now it was a guessing game when the older bunch of boys would be awake. Anyhow, the group that was awake, we went outside since it was nice and played tag around the house.
Around 10:30 I heard Lincoln holler out the door for me, so I went back inside.
“What’s up bud?” I said as I got closer to him. “You okay?”
“No,” he said as a tear rolled down his face. “I didn’t know where you were. I went upstairs and didn’t find you. It was scary, I thought something happened.”
“Aww buddy,” I replied as I crouched and gave him a hug. “Everything’s okay!”
“I… I know that now.”
“Good,” I stated as I released his hug and wiped the tears away from his face. “So what time did you guys stay up till?”
“Umm, I don’t know… I think like, 2 or 3.”
“2 or 3? Geez, this is the last sleepover for you,” I sarcastically said.
“We weren’t loud or nothing. We just watched Netflix.”
“How’d you get Netflix?”
“I used your account.”
“Oh okay.. forgot I gave that to you,” I said. “Donuts are on the table if you’re hungry… where’s everyone else?”
“I think Max is brushing his teeth. Carter was still sleeping, and Devin was getting changed.”
“Oh okay, well I think you should get everyone ready for the knee hockey game.”
“I almost forgot about that,” Lincoln stated. “Thanks for reminding me!”
“No problem,” I replied. Lincoln grabbed a donut and hollered for his friends to come get breakfast. He then went outside to round up the smaller boys. After a few minutes, everyone was in the kitchen talking and laughing. Only 5 donuts remained when everything was said and done.
They were all back in the basement and playing hockey. After everything was the game was complete, they were all back upstairs. By the time the clock hit 2, we were an empty house again. Well minus my 4 and me. Lincoln had a blast with his friends as did Ryker. Their friends were very friendly and appreciated everything while they stayed with me, so they are welcome back anytime.
With everyone gone, my attention quickly shifted to cleaning up the kitchen. The boys helped me which was nice of them and then went on their separate ways for the time being. After cleaning, I sent a quick text to the Brumms to confirm our dinner time at 6 and the location. I offered to pick them up as well, but they rejected as they had to go someplace afterward.
At 3:30 my doorbell rang, and it was Calvin and George!
“Hey guys,” I said as George ran into my arms.
“Hi Uncle G! You… you know this is my first time staying at your house without mom and dad?”
“It is? No way?” I enthusiastically said.
“Well it’s gonna be tons of fun,” I remarked. “Hey Calvin, how are you?”
“I’m good, been a rough day with Derrick. He’s been sick, and all our attention has been on him.”
“Oh man, what’s he sick with?” I asked.
“Hey George,” Jacob said as he ran down the steps. “Hi, Uncle Calvin.”
“Jacob!” George replied as the two cousins gave each other a hug. “What are we gonna do?”
“Let’s go find Ryker!” Jacob stated as the two took off.
I had to ask again as we were cut off by the two boys, “So what is he sick with?”
“We aren’t sure, but he is running a fever of 100.8, so we are just keeping an eye on him.”
“Keep me updated!”
“I will, and uhh thanks for taking George. He is so excited, and you’re helping us out!”
“Don’t mention it,” I said as I shook my brother’s hand goodbye.
My doorbell rang again at 4:45, and before I could get to the door, Ryker was answering it.
“Hey cutie,” Ashley replied as she walked in and gave him a hug.
Ryker was blushing so visibly. “Are… are you staying the night too?”
“No… only Christian.”
“Speaking of Christian, where is he?” I asked as I made it to the front door.
“Hey Uncle G,” Ashley replied as she gave me a hug. “He’s on his way in, he just had to get his bag.”
“Oh alright,” I said and then hollered for Lincoln.
“Hey guys,” Christian said as he made it to the door.
“Hi Christian,” Ryker said as he gave him a hug.
“Christian, come up here!” Lincoln shouted from the top of the stairs.
“No no… you get down here,” I said correcting him.
“No, come on.”
“Fine,” Lincoln said as he went back to his room to do something then came back down. “Hi, Ashley.”
“What’s happening?” Ashley asked as she gave him a hug.
“Was watching YouTube.”
“Oh, sounds fun.”
“Alright, I have to go get ready,” I said as I gave Christian a quick hug. “You guys need anything?”
“Where’s Clay?” Asked Ashley.
“I would say with George and Jacob. I think they are up in Jacob’s room.”
“I’m gonna go say hi,” Ashely said as she walked upstairs. Ryker followed Ashely, while Christian and Lincoln went to the basement.
I went upstairs and hopped in the shower. Afterward, I got dressed, said my goodbye to the boys, and gave Ashley 100 bucks for food. I also gave her the keys to the GLS if she was brave enough to take the boys out for a meal.
I hopped in my new S63 and was on my way to the restaurant. We were meeting at a steakhouse, and I swore by this place. They had the freshest meat, and the best side dishes I’ve ever had. I arrived right on time and met the Brumms at our table.
It was an enjoyable evening, as we discussed many topics. One of the main points of conversation was my organization, as Todd told Joanne about my career presentation in Lincoln’s class. They were very inquisitive about the mission and goals, which I very happily answered. By the end of the night, I had two more mentors willing to sign up, and I also had 5,000 dollar check being donated by the Brumms. We didn’t just talk about my organization, we also covered soccer and it just so happens that Dylan and Ryker are going to be playing on the same team as well as the other kid Dylan played with in the fall. This meant I could set up a carpool schedule if need be. I also learned more about Todd and Joanne, but their last name was never brought up. I was curious about it but figured they would tell me when they were comfortable enough… if ever. Anyways dinner was delicious, and I had great company to enjoy my meal. I was honestly surprised it took us this long to connect, but then again we never had anything in common until I got the foster boys. Needless to say, I hoped this was the start of a good friendship as I know our sons have already formed a strong bond.
I arrived home at 8 and was engulfed in hugs from Lincoln, Ryker, and Christian. The rest of the boys were too busy in their rooms to even notice I was home yet. Those three took off to the basement and left Ashley and me to talk.
“So how were they?” I asked as I sat down at the kitchen island.
“Excellent! We went out to eat well not out,” chuckled Ashley. “We went to Chick-Fil-A for a quick bite.”
“George was a bit of a handful, but otherwise everyone was good. Clayton is just so adorable, if you ever give him up, I’ll take him!” Joked Ashely.
“Yeah… there’s about a 0 percent chance of that happening, I think Rita would kill me first,” I laughed.
“I’m just saying and Ryker… that’s kids gorgeous. Get him into modeling, acting, or something… he needs to be on a screen.”
“Trust me I know! The kid still has a faint tan line from the summer.”
“He’ll be breaking girls’ hearts left and right. I just warning ya!”
“We will see!” I said, “so how’s Christian been?”
“Umm, I saw him smile on our drive over here for the first time in a week. Then when he is around Lincoln, it’s like he is his old self… it’s uhh it’s been hard for him at home and school.”
“I’ve heard, has he talked to you about it?”
“Not much, I still think he is embarrassed.”
“Well, you should try talking to him. He could use all the support he needs. Ya know, maybe do a movie night with him. I know he’s told me he doesn’t have many friends anymore.”
“Besides soccer and school, he doesn’t leave the house.”
“Maybe you could help!”
“I never really thought of it,” Ashley commented.
“I’m just offering some words of wisdom… he could use someone to talk to and do stuff with.”
“Yeah,” Ashley said.
Sensing that I had made her feel bad, I quickly changed the topic, “so you ready to graduate or have any summer plans?”
“Oh my gosh I can’t wait to be done… high school is just dragging on and on!”
“I bet,” I chucked. “Any summer plans?”
“Actually yeah! I’m going on vacation with my friend and her family. Heading down to the outer banks for a week.”
“Oh, that should be fun! When do you go?”
“I think I leave June 24th and come back the 1st of July.”
“Well lucky you, that’s gonna be awesome!”
“Hey Garret,” Jacob said as he came into the kitchen and gave me a hug. “can we go in the hot tub?”
“Yeah, just give me a few minutes… I’m still talking with Ashley.”
“I actually have to get going,” Ashley said.
“Oh well…. nevermind. Go tell people to get ready,” I said to Jacob. As Jacob went upstairs, I went to my wallet and handed Ashley 100 bucks for babysitting. “Here ya go.”
“100? You don’t owe me that much.”
“Don’t argue with me!” I commented, “take the 100!”
“Love ya Uncle G,” she said.
“Love ya too,” I replied as I walked her to the door. As soon as I shut the door, 4 boys went running by me to the back patio. I followed them and opened the hot tub. Ryker, Jacob, Clayton, and George were the first to get in. Christian and Lincoln arrived shortly after and hopped in to join everyone.
Midway through, as we were all chatting, Clayton asked out loud, “Can we swim nakey now?”
“Yeah!” Ryker said.
“It’s so much better,” added Lincoln.
“It’s up to everyone else. If one person says no then nobody can but if everyone says yes, then I don’t see an issue,” I said. “But we only vote once!”
“I vote no clothes!” Clayton blurted out.
“We haven’t voted yet,” I said as I tussled his hair. “Just remember if you’re not comfortable, you can vote no!”
“I don’t really care,” Christian said. “We are all boys, and we are cousins, so it like doesn’t matter to me.”
“Okay… anyone else want to say anything?” I chuckled.
“I never swam naked,” George spoke, “I want to!”
“Alright well, I already know my 4 don’t mind, so if George and Christian are okay with it… I guess you can go for it.”
“Yes!” I heard Clayton yell as he stripped down and threw his swim trunks off.
“How’d you do that so quick?” I said as I bent down and collect his suit.
“They were already by my feet,” giggled Clayton, which sent the rest of the boys laughing. Soon one by one, each boy tossed me their suits, and I set them down beside the hot tub.
“It feels funny when the jets hit my bum,” George said.
“I know!” Giggled Ryker, “I like it though, it’s like a massage.”
“Alright,” I said. “While you all enjoy your nude parade, I’m going to go get everyone towels. Christian and Lincoln, you’re in charge until I get back!”
“Okay,” both boys said as I walked away with all their wet trunks in my hand. I quickly threw the suits in the dryer and went for towels.
As I returned I heard all sorts of laughter and giggles and as I approached, I asked, “what’s so funny?”
“George keeps switching seats,” Lincoln said.
“I wanna see if the jets are different,” George stated.
“So every minute we are switching seats,” laughed Christian.
“You guys are goofballs,” I commented. “I don’t think the jets are different.”
“Yeah huh!” Ryker said, “some spin while others go back and forth.”
“We been debating this since you left,” Lincoln stated.
“I don’t think there is any difference,” I chuckled.
“Yes, there is,” George said as they all switched seats.
“Alright, this is a pointless argument!” I laughed. “You boys have about 10 minutes left before it’s time to head in.
“Can I get out now?” Jacob asked. “I have to go pee.”
“Pee in the hot tub,” I joked.
I’m not kidding, when I say I’ve never seen 5 boys react so quickly to a statement before. I think they almost jumped out of the tub.
“I was kidding boys,” I said as I grabbed a towel and opened it for Jacob to walk into.
“I wasn’t gonna anyway,” Jacob laughed as he stepped out.
“What’s the thingy on your leg?” George asked as he saw Jacob’s naked body for the first time
“It’s… it’s nothing,” Jacob replied and walked to me as I wrapped the towel around his body.
“”Oh… I gotta go pee as well,” George stated as he stood up.
“Step on out,” I instructed. This was my first time seeing him naked since he was a baby. He has an above average circumcised penis, unless he was erect, but I didn’t think he was. His light Italian skin tone covered his body, and he too was a good looking kid. I wrapped the towel around him as I said, “here ya go.”
“Thanks, Uncle G.”
“Hey boys,” I shouted, just remember to put clothes on… at least underwear.”
“I’m gonna get out too,” Ryker said as he stepped out. I did notice Christian watching Ryker as he walked across the tub to get out and I saw Christian squirm a little.
“Here’s your towel,” I said holding it open for him.
“Thanks, love ya,” Ryker said and gave me a quick hug before heading into the house.
“I guess I’ll get out too,” Clayton said and followed his brother’s footsteps.
I turned to the two remaining and asked, “Y’all staying in?”
“For a little, is that okay?” Lincoln asked.
“Wanna stay out and talk with us?” Christian asked.
“Alright, about what?”
“I don’t know,” he giggled.
“Can we sleep naked again?” Lincoln asked.
“If you guys are comfortable with that, you can.”
“I don’t get to sleep naked at my house so yeah!”
“Maybe we just spend the rest of the night naked,” Lincoln suggested.
“I don’t know about that.”
“But it’s almost 9:30, the little ones will be going to bed soon, and we will be in the basement.”
“What if Ryker wants to stay up?” I asked
“He doesn’t mind if he is naked!”
“We will see,” I said as I took a look at Christian who was blushing at the thought.
“Okay,” Lincoln replied.
“So Christian, how was the last bit of school on Friday?”
“Oh… umm it.. it was okay.”
“Yeah, any more people mess with you?”
“N… no just the people before.”
“What did they do?” Lincoln asked.
“It’s nothing. I don’t really want to talk about it.”
“Come on Christian! Tell me, please.”
“Just kids bullyin’ me… it sucks,” Christian said as he began to cry,
“I’m sorry,” Lincoln said and scooted over to give Christian a hug.
“And I think I’m gonna quit soccer.”
“Don’t quit,” Lincoln commented as he released the hug and went over to his seat.
“I agree with Lincoln,” I said.
“But no one on the team likes me.”
“Have you talked to the coach?”
“Well before you quit… I would talk to your coach,” I said as I heard loud laughter from inside the house. “Are you two boys okay out here? I need to go make sure those 4 aren’t running around in the buck!”
“Yeah,” they both said.
“Alright… sorry for leaving so quickly,” I chuckled. “Don’t stay in there too long.”
“Okay, we won’t,” Lincoln commented as I walked away, when I made it to the house I saw four towels left at the door and multiple sets of wet footprints throughout the house. I went to the bathroom on the main level first where just as I reached the door, Ryker stepped out.
“Geez Garret!” Ryker jumped.
“Sorry bud,” I laughed. “Where are your clothes and where is everyone else?”
“I don’t know… I just left my towel at the door, and I had to go pee. I was gonna go put underwear on now.”
“Oh… well sorry for scaring you,” I said.
“It’s okay,” Ryker giggled.
“Go put underwear on,” I commanded and lightly tapped his bare butt to get a move on. I followed Ryker up the stairs to see what was going on. I went to Jacob room and saw all three boys dressed in underwear and playing Minecraft.
“Surprised you guys are in underwear,” I said as I walked in. “You boys need anything?”
“Okay, well not to long. You guys need to get to bed soon.”
“Okay,” they commented, and soon Ryker joined them. I went back downstairs to collect the towels and put them in the dryer with the boy’s swimsuits. Lincoln and Christian soon walked in and headed for the basement.
Around 11 o’clock, I did my rounds starting with the boys upstairs. Ryker was sleeping in his bedroom. Jacob was sharing his bed with George, and Clayton was in his room. I tucked them all in and kissed their foreheads goodnight. I made my way downstairs to see Lincoln on one couch and Christian on the other couch.
“Y’all enjoy your naked night?” I chuckled.
“Very much,” Lincoln laughed as he exposed himself. “See!”
“Put it away killer,” I commented. “Alright, I just came down to check in on ya boys. Don’t stay up too late and if you need anything, I’ll be in my room.”
“Night love you,” Lincoln said.
“Love you, Uncle G,” Christian stated. “Good night.”
“Love you boys, sleep good,” I replied and walked to my room.
I was greeted by Ryker in my bed, and I already knew I would be sharing it with him tonight. I did my usual routine of scratching his back, butt, and upper thighs too which he fell asleep rather quickly.
I followed him and was out by 11:30.
Sunday was a rapid day. I dropped Christian and George off at their homes, then the boys and I went to lunch. Then we went to our local sporting goods store and bought Ryker, Jacob, and Clayton soccer shoes, shin pads, slider shorts, which go underneath the soccer shorts, and a few shirts. After our little expenditure, it was basically doing any school work the boys needed to complete and relaxing. Through the day I did receive two phone calls from Thomas which I thought was weird considering he didn’t answer mine. So I let them go to voicemail. After relaxing most of the day, the boys were still trying to recover from their wild, fun-packed weekend, so they were all asleep pretty early. After they were asleep, I checked my email and received the official blueprints of the building. To be honest, I fell in love with the concept building, it has 30 rooms on the second and third floor, just like I imagined. We have a big back patio that was very customizable and large hangout area for all the kids to interact. After viewing the blueprints, I grabbed a quick shower and collapsed on my bed.
Our typical day began with me greeting Rita in the kitchen and me filling her in on what she missed. Although I never really had to because when the boys woke up they always told Rita what they did and she would hear it a second time. The best part was Rita would act shocked or surprised even if it was her second time listening to it.
After breakfast, I dropped the boys off and headed for my legal team’s office. I walked back into the same conference room, except this time I was using someone’s phone to call instead of mine. After everyone was in position, I dialed the number, and we heard the dial tone.
About 4 seconds in, I heard “hello?”
“Yes… who’s calling?”
“It’s Garret Hamel.”
“What? I thought I had your number blocked.”
“I got a new number,” I returned.
“What do you want?” He quickly fired back.
“Umm well since you want to be a big part of Jacob’s life or so you say so. I wanted to know if you would like to keep updated on his well being… ya know since you can’t see him for 30 days.”
“Is this why you called?”
“Well, are you interested?”
“NO,” He shouted.
“Don’t you want to know how he is doing?”
“The only thing I know is that Jacob will end up with me and you’ll lose.”
“What are you getting angry about?” I asked. “I’m just trying to keep you updated on your grandson.”
“No, no, no… you’re up to something.” Thomas spoke, “yeah,… you’re scared. You’re scared that I will win, aren’t you?”
“No, not at all, I’m just trying to be friendly. In fact, I think it’s a bit irresponsible to block your grandchild’s foster parent. What if I needed to reach you.”
“No don’t try to flip the script here… I know you’re scared… I can tell.”
“I am not, I’ve faced bigger bullies than you… I am just asking if you would like to know how Jacob is doing.”
“No… why do you keep asking?”
“Well if your so interested in Jacob’s life that you want to take him away from a great opportunity to succeed, I would at least think you would like to know how he is doing… ya know, since you can’t see him for 30 days.”
“I don’t give a fuck… all I care about is,” Thomas yelled before his wife yelled in the background to be quiet.
“What was that?” I asked trying to get him to finish his last statement.
“You know, I thought you be more interested.”
“You’re really starting to piss me off.”
“Oh, correction… I’ve been pissing you off, but now I’m trying to be friendly.”
“I don’t want to be friendly… look I don’t give a fuck about his well being when he is with you… Just know you will lose and Jacob will be mine.”
“The only way it’s doubtful is if I die before the 30 days is up and that ain’t happening. I’m as healthy as a horse.”
“Uh huh,” I stated. “Well, you still need to fix your house… I mean you failed the home inspection.”
“Don’t worry about me or my house. Just enjoy your time with Jacob.”
“Alright well it’s your last chance… you wanna know how Jacob is doing?”
“For the last fucking time… no I don’t,” Thomas said and hung up.
“Damnit!” I yelled as I set the phone down. “We were so close!”
“I know!” Jordan said, “but that was awesome!”
“What do you mean, we didn’t get anything.”
“It’s our first attempt. I think it went well. We are just going to try again.”
“How about Thursday?” Jordan asked.
“Umm, I’ll have to get back to you,” I said.
“Should we try again right now?” Asked another guy. “I agree it went well, you almost had him… but I think he is irritated now. Maybe if we call back, he just loses and it, and we get what we need.”
“He likely won’t answer,” said another man on my legal team.
“It’s worth a shot, we have nothing to lose.”
“No I agree, we should wait,” I said. “This was a good first… well I guess the second attempt.”
“Alright then, it’s settled.. we will try again,” Jordan said, and everyone began to pack up there stuff. As everyone was leaving the conference room, Jordan stayed back and asked, “you alright?”
“Yeah,” I quickly returned. “Just thinking about what I could have done differently.”
“I think you did great! I would try the same exact method you just did,”
“Do we have plan b? If this fails?”
“Pray for a miracle,” Jordan joked.
“Yeah,” I chuckled.
“Don’t worry, we will win. I don’t like to lose.”
“Well, I would start working on plan B.”
“I’ll set up a meeting with the team to brainstorm ideas.”
“Thanks,” I said.
“So everything alright with your nephew?”
“Oh umm yeah, well no but he’s getting through it. Thanks for asking.”
“Well let me know if I can help, I know a few people in the LGBTQ community.”
“Well thanks,” I said standing up. “I had fun at lunch, we should do it again sometime.”
“Oh, umm,” Jordan replied which made me instantly regret saying that. “So did I! I uhh… would love too.”
“Really?” I asked as I wasn’t expecting that answer.
“Yeah, how about Friday?”
“Umm… oh that’s gonna be tough. I need to watch my boys, I mean you welcome to join me at my house and I can cook for you, but I don’t know if that would be the most relaxing place,” I laughed.
“You know… that would actually be awesome! If your boys are anything like Jacob, I would love to come meet the rest of them.”
“Oh okay… well uhh 6 then?”
“Yeah that works,” Jordan stated.
“Great!” I replied, “I’ll let you know if Thursday works for the phone call too.”
“Sounds good,” Jordan commented. “Enjoy your day.”
“Bye,” I said as I was leaving the conference room. As I walked to my car, I had mixed emotions. Happy about Jordan and also frustrated about Thomas, let’s just say it was a weird feeling. Anyway, I made it to my car and checked my messages. I had a message from Ruth that stated:
Garret, due to a family emergency. I have to cancel our meeting today. I’m sorry for the inconvenience, however, if you would like to work with Lincoln on relaxation methods or get him to open up more about his feelings, I wouldn’t be opposed. Just write down the progress and email me. As for our meeting on Wednesday, we still have it, but I will let you know if anything that changes. Once again, sorry for the inconvenience. Look forward to seeing you on Wednesday.
This wasn’t the end of the world. However, I was disappointed. I thought we were making good progress with Lincoln and I hoped that it wouldn’t be a setback. Anyway, I started my car and called Rita to tell her I would pick Clayton up.
I arrived and signed him out. We stopped for some food before we went home and then Clayton did his usual routine. I was able to enjoy my extra time with Clayton as I didn’t have to go pick up the boys earlier or so I thought.
Around 3:20 I got a call from the elementary school.
“Mr. Hamel, we need you to come pick Lincoln up early.”
“Is everything alright?”
“He is in the office crying, and we can’t get him to stop.”
“What?” I replied. “Can I speak to him.”
“One moment,” the receptionist said.
“Hello,” a Lincoln said with a shaky voice.
“What’s wrong kiddo?”
“I… I thought something happened to you.”
“Because… because you haven’t picked Jacob and me up. We have our appointment today.”
“Aww, buddy… everything’s fine! Ruth canceled today, so we don’t have anything. I’m picking you up at the normal time.”
“Oh,” Lincoln said.
“You must feel pretty silly,” I chuckled.
“I thought something happened to you… it’s, it’s not funny.”
“Okay sorry bud, but everything is fine. I should have notified the school. I’m sorry.”
“Good,” Lincoln replied and gave the phone back to the receptionist. I guess I was in some trouble with Lincoln, he didn’t sound too happy on the phone.
“Is he okay?” I asked.
“Well he stopped crying, so I guess that’s good.”
“Alright, umm thank you. Bye-bye,” I said and hung up. It was about time for me to start getting ready to go pick up the boys anyway, so I hopped in my car and left to get them.
The rest of Monday, I was in the doghouse with Lincoln. He wasn’t disrespectful, but he wasn’t happy with me either. I had them do there homework, and then Lincoln and I tried to work on some relaxation methods. However he still wasn’t that happy with me, so our activity was short lived. We had dinner, and then we watched the blue jackets game. Rita left around 7:30 and the boys were asleep in bed by 9:45. I could barely get Ryker to go down to bed as he was so excited for tomorrow’s soccer practice but after I laid down and scratched he fell asleep.
The majority of the day flew by, and before I knew it, I was loading Ryker, Jacob, and Clayton into the car. I was leaving Lincoln home with Rita since he didn’t want to go. However, before they got into the SUV, I snapped a quick picture of them as they just looked too cute.
We arrived and parked next to the Brumm’s Porsche. The soccer facility was massive, they had at least 25 fields of all sizes. Lucky for me, the boys were all practicing on the same three fields in a row which meant I wouldn’t have to walk around much. As we walked over to Ryker’s field, Dylan saw us and ran over to talk.
“Ryker!” Dylan said, “come on, I want you to meet my 2nd best friend.”
“Who’s the first?” Ryker nervously asked.
“You are! Now come on before practice starts.”
“Okay… umm bye Garret,” Ryker said as they went running away together. “What’s his name?”
“Logan,” I heard Dylan say as they ran. “He lives near us!”
“What field am I on?” Clayton asked as he broke my concentration from the Dylan and Ryker conversation.
“Well this is field 5 which Ryker is on,” I said looking at the map on my phone that they sent me in my email. “and you’re on field 3… Jacob, you’re on field 4, so come on this way troops!”
“What’s my coaches name?” Jacob asked.
“Umm, I believe you have coach Steve and Clayton you have coach Melissa.”
“I have a girl coach?” Clayton asked in disgust.
“What’s wrong with that?”
“She’s a girl.”
“So, I’m sure she is very nice and knows a lot about soccer!”
“I don’t know,” Clayton said which made me laugh. We walked to Jacob’s field, and I introduced him to coach Steve. Steve was an older gentleman and turned out he had a son on the team who Jacob was introduced to. After that, I went to drop Clayton off. Clayton was all talk for sure because as soon as he met coach Melissa, he was asking a million questions per minute. I slowly backed out of the situation and made rounds at each of the boys’ practices.
An hour had passed, and Clayton had finished his first practice. With him being so young, they worked on the basics which meant going over rules. Next to finish was Jacob and they concentrated on regulations but went over some passing techniques.
We worked our way over to Ryker’s practice was he was just finishing up. Soon my sweaty 8-year-old smoke show came running over to give me a hug.
“That was so much fun!” Ryker said, “guess what!”
“What?” I replied.
“I made a new friend, come on,” Ryker stated and released my hug. He then grabbed my hand and led his brothers and me to Dylan and his new friend. “Hey Logan, this is Garret.”
“Hi,” the boy shyly said.
“How’s it going? You guys have fun at practice?”
“We ran a lot,” Dylan said.
“I didn’t think we did,” Logan said.
“Garret, Logan lives close to us like Dylan does.”
“Oh is that so? Where is that?”
“Umm,” Logan said. He was a good looking boy, he had a soccer players body for sure. Logan stood a few inches taller than Ryker but had similar skin color and hair color. However, Logan had longer hair that he pushed to the side and had light green eyes. “I’m the first house on the left when you enter the neighborhood… where do you guys live again?”
“We are maybe 7-8 house down on the lakeside. I don’t think you’d be able to see our house. We are around the bend and away from the road.”
“Do you guys live in that ginormous house where the guy drives a Ferrari?”
“Yeah,” I laughed. “That’s me.”
“No way,” Logan said.
“Dude, it’s so cool,” Dylan added, “like the coolest car I’ve sat in.”
“How did you sit in it?” Logan asked.
“Cause he’s been over my house,” Ryker said.
“Ryker, don’t be rude… introduce your brothers.”
“Oh yeah, sorry… these are my younger brothers Clayton and Jacob.”
“It’s Clay!” Clayton corrected Ryker.
“I like Clayton better,” Dylan said poking Clay on his ribs.
“Stop it,” Clay giggled.
“Nope,” and Dylan did it again which caused Clayton to start chasing Dylan around the soccer field. Jacob joined in, but you think he would be helping Clayton… he wasn’t. It quickly turned into a playful tackle party while Logan and Ryker stayed back to talk.
“Do you go to Ryker’s school?” I asked.
“Where do you go,” Ryker questioned.
“I go to a private school… I have to wear a stupid uniform, I hate it.”
“Oh,” Ryker said. “Well, you should come over to my house sometime.”
“Yeah! Dylan can come too.”
“Dylan, stop tormenting Clay,” Todd said as he walked over and joined our conversation. “Garret, I would like you to meet Gina Bale.”
“Hi,” I said extending my hand.
“You look familiar, have we met?” Gina replied as she shook my hand,
“I’m guessing you’re Logan’s mother?” I said, “in which we live in the same neighborhood. You’ve probably seen me walking or driving around.”
“Oh, well it’s a pleasure. And yes I am Logan’s mother. Hope he wasn’t causing you any trouble.”
“Mom,” Logan said.
“Oh no, he is fine.”
“Yeah mom, uhh Ryker asked if I could come over.”
“Not tonight sweetie, but I’m sure we can set something up.”
“Yeah,” I said stepping in. “We only live a few houses away, I’m sure you guys can hang out.”
“Okay cool,” Logan spoke.
“Dylan Ryan Brumm… don’t make me call you over here again,” Todd yelled.
“He is fine, they’re just playing around.”
“I know, but we have to leave.”
“Yeah so do we,” Gina said. “Logan say your goodbyes.”
“Bye, cya Ryker!”
“What?” We heard Dylan yell from across the field.
“Bring over Jacob and Clayton… we have to get going. Moms gonna kill us if we are late for dinner,” Todd hollered.
“Come on boys, we gotta get home too,” I said as the three came running over. They reached us, and we all walked to the cars together.
My three hopped in the GLS, and we were on our way back home. Rita already had dinner made and on the table when we pulled into the garage. You can bet that food didn’t stand a chance with three hungry boys who just ran around for 2 hours. After dinner, it was shower time because they smelled horrid. Jacob and Clayton hopped in the bath while Ryker got a shower in my room, I guess he wanted to use the multiple shower heads, so I let him have his fun. After they were all cleaned, I sent the boys to do homework, which Lincoln already finished. So he and I cuddled on the couch and watched some tv. I guess he wasn’t mad at me anymore, or maybe he missed not being part of the group fun, but he wasn’t letting me out of his site.
All in all, it was a good day. I had the boys in bed by 9, well the three younger ones at least. Lincoln stayed up till 10, and we watched some Netflix in the family room. After he went to bed, I hit the sack and was dead to the world.