Although Brody didn't earn a starting position, he did see significant playing time on the Sparks basketball team. Coach pointed out that with several returning players from the state championship team starting positions were very competitive. This team was actually better than the championship team from the previous year. They again won the state championship. As a plus for Sparks the girls' team also won the state championship. Coach, when we went to play Millwood I noticed the town had a sign about their past state championship," Brody said after a post-season practice. "I don't believe the school district has the funds to pay for it," Coach explained. "When my high school won a state championship the Chamber of Commerce put up signs. I think the town merchants paid for signs."
"Hey, Adam, Dad's a Chamber member," Brody said. "Let's ask him."
"Good idea," Adam agreed.
"My dad is too," Josh Hendrix said. "I'll ask him."
"Adam, let's go by the store and talk to Dad about the sign," Brody suggested on the way home.
"We can talk to him at home," Adam pointed out.
"I know, but he can start calling other Chamber members before they go home," Brody said. "I wonder who's president of the Chamber."
"I think it's Paul," Adam said.
"What are you guys doing here?" Darrell asked when the two entered his office.
"We need a sign on the highway at the edge of town about our state championship," Brody said.
"It's championships, Brody," Adam pointed out.
"Boys, that's an excellent idea," Darrell agreed after the boys explained the signs. "What should we put on them?"
"It could just say 'Welcome to Sparks - Home of the Basketball State Champions' and then list the years for the boys and girls teams," Adam said.
"Alright, I'll call Paul and get it started," Darrell said.
"It needs to be a sign that's easy to add championships," Brody said. "I think we'll win more."
The Chamber of Commerce members enthusiastically agreed to purchase the four signs. Paul and his bank agreed to match any funds provided by other chamber members. The boys felt a sense of pride when they entered town and saw the signs.
"I can legally drive with someone else as passenger other than my brother," Adam when his probationary driving period ended.
"Hey, what's wrong with your brother riding with you?" Brody asked and gave Adam a playful punch.
"Well for one thing I can now drive myself and Tiffaney on a date," Adam said.
"And we could double date if I ask Kendra on a date," Brody proposed.
"Maybe some, but I don't want you tagging along on every date I go on," Adam said.
"Your dad or I can always drive you," Rita offered. "We sometimes drove Adam before he was licensed to drive."
"Thanks, Mom," Brody said.
"Let's check online and see what movies are playing here," Adam said.
"We've already seen what they're showing," Brody said. "Remember this theater here only has two screens."
"Mom, Dad, could we go to Covington to see a movie?" Adam asked.
"I don't know about that, Adam," Rita said. "I'm not sure you're experienced enough to drive to Covington."
"But Mom, I've driven there several times," Adam contended.
"Yes, but one of us or Haden was in the car with you," Rita said. "What do you think, Honey?"
"Haden drove there when he was around Adam's age," Darrell said. "Adam, if we agree to let you drive there there'll be rules."
"I know," Adam said. "I'm not to use my phone, drive over the speed limit, make sure everyone has a seatbelt on, and all that other stuff."
"Yes, that and other stuff," Darrell said with a chuckle. "You're to go only to the theater."
"But Dad, what if we want to get something to eat?" Adam asked.
"We don't want you driving there at night," Rita said. "If you can eat and get back to Sparks before nightfall you may eat there."
"You can come back to Sparks and get something to eat if it's close to dark," Darrell said.
"But what's the difference in driving in Covington and Sparks?" Adam questioned.
"Adam, Covington is a much larger town," Rita said.
"You don't know Covington as well as Sparks," Darrell added.
"Well shoot," Adam said.
"These are the rules, agree to them or don't go," Darrell said.
"I guess I have no choice," Adam said.
"No, you don't," Rita said with a smile.
The double date was the first of several the brothers went on. However, there were times when Adam went on a date without his little brother.
"Mom, is it okay if Tiffany comes to our Easter Dinner?" Adam asked.
"Of course it's okay," Rita said. "You may invite her family too. They may want to attend church services with us."
"Alright, I'll invite them," Adam said.
It was a beautiful Easter Sunday. The weather was perfect for the little girls to wear their pretty dresses without covering them with a coat. Tiffany and her family arrived and occupied the last remaining seats in the church. The church was packed and a few folding chairs had to be brought in to accommodate everyone.
"Rita, thank you for inviting us to church and dinner," Leah Lancaster said after arriving at the Reed center.
"You're more than welcome, but it was Adam's idea," Rita said. "He wanted to invite Tiffany and I suggested he invite the entire family."
"The Easter service was beautiful and we genuinely enjoyed it," Leah said.
"We sure did," Harley agreed.
"Oh, Mary, I didn't realize you're part of this family," Leah said when she saw Mary.
"My husband is Adam's biological great-uncle," Mary explained.
"I'd heard you were married again, congratulations," Leah said. "Are you still selling real estate?"
"I am for now, but I don't know how much longer," Mary said. "I've heard the owners are retiring and shutting down the business."
"It's true," Harley said. "I talked to Dave and he mentioned that they were. They plan to announce it in a few days. He asked if we'd take over their listings."
"Mary, would you be interested in becoming one of our agents?" Leah asked.
"I would, but I'm not really working fulltime now," Mary said.
"You wouldn't have to be fulltime," Harley said.
"Then I'll accept the offer," Mary agreed. "I'll talk to Dave about it tomorrow."
"Your little nephew Dustin is so cute and really smart," Tiffany said to Adam.
"Yeah, he is," Adam agreed.
"The food is ready," Grace announced.
Dustin chose to sit next to Tiffany during the meal. All waited to begin eating until after Walter said the blessing. As usual the food was plentiful and delicious.
"Dustin, how old are you?" Tiffany asked as they ate.
"I'm almost five," Dustin said.
"Oh, you'll start school this fall," Tiffany said.
"I already go to school," Dustin said with authority.
"Dustin, you're in pre-kindergarten," Adam clarified.
"No, I'm in school," Dustin objected. "I can write my name, I know my ABCs, and I can count to 100."
"My, you are smart," Tiffany said.
"Yeah, I am," Dustin agreed. "Are you going to hunt Easter eggs? Grandma Grace said we had to eat first though."
"I'll go out and watch you hunt for them," Tiffany offered.
"Okay," Dustin said as he continued eating. "Did you know I have a horse?"
"No, I didn't," Tiffany said. "What's your horse's name?"
"Her name is Monday," Dustin said. "My dad said that Adam named her."
"Adam, that's a different name," Tiffany said with a snicker. "Why did you name her that?"
"Because she was born on a Monday," Adam explained, as he was somewhat embarrassed at the name.
"Well, I like her name," Dustin said. "I can write her name too."
"My horse's name is Socks," Tiffany said.
"That's a weird name," Dustin said with a giggle.
"He has white feet that look like socks," Tiffany explained.
"I guess that's okay," Dustin said.
While the children were eating, Scott, Perry, and Tony snuck outside to hide the Easter Eggs. There were dozens of plastic eggs filled with some candy, but mostly filled with small trinkets, money, movie passes, and such.
"Where did my dad go?" Dustin asked when he noticed Perry was absent.
"He may be in the restroom," Adam said, knowing he was hiding eggs.
"I'll go see," Dustin said.
"You sit right there and finish eating, Young Man," Lacey ordered when she overheard Dustin.
"But Mom, I'm finished," Dustin protested.
"It isn't nice to leave while others at your table are still eating," Lacey said in order to delay until Perry returned.
"We're almost finished," Adam said. "Besides, there's cake."
"There is? What kind?"
"I saw a chocolate cake," Adam said, knowing it was Dustin's favorite.
"I'll bring you a slice," Rita said.
"Thank you, Grandma," Dustin said.
"Who wants ice cream?" Haden asked, holding a gallon of ice cream and an ice cream scoop.
"I do," most of the youngsters yelled. Several adults also asked for ice cream.
"Just one scoop," Grace cautioned. "They'll be on a sugar high for sure."
"I'm ready to hunt Easter Eggs," Dustin announced as soon as he finished his cake and ice cream.
"Hold on, you have to wait until the others finish," Perry said.
Dustin turned to Tiffney and whispered, "Tell them to hurry."
"Girls are just slow," Tiffney said while not suppressing a laugh.
The kids enjoyed the egg hunt, but it seemed the adults enjoyed watching even more. The toddlers had a separate egg hunt so not to have to compete against the older children. Following the hunt the kids of all ages played a game of croquet. The younger ones were given help by an adult. Some opted to take advantage of the wonderful weather and play on the playground equipment.
"Who wants a snack?" Grace later asked. That ended the games.
"Rita, thank you for inviting us," Leah said before they departed. "This has been an incredible day. I don't know when I've enjoyed myself so much."
"Adam, I think you've lost your girlfriend," Darrell said when Dustin gave Tiffney a big hug before she left.
"It looks that way," Adam said with a smile.
"Mom, could we have an end of school party?" Brody asked.
"That's not until the end of May," Rita said. "But I don't see why not. Do you want it here or at the swimming hole?"
"Swimming hole, of course," Brady said.
"You need a backup plan in case the weather doesn't cooperate," Grace suggested.
"You're right," Rita agreed.
"I'll make reservations for the Reed Center, just in case," Grace offered.
"It'll be a big one since Amy will earn her Master's Degree," Rita said.
"That didn't take her long," Betty said.
"She worked hard to get it done," Rita said.
"I couldn't have done it without Tony's support," Amy pointed out. "It helped that I could take most of the classes online."
"Then you'll take some time off from school?" Betty asked.
"I wish I could, but I've been offered a faculty position in the nursing program at the university," Amy said. "I have to be in a Ph.D. program to be on the faculty. That's why I need to start this summer. Fortunately the Ph.D. is online and I can work on that from home."
"We're sorry to see you leave the hospital, but we're happy for your new position," Linda said.
The Saturday following Easter was very warm so Adam and his friends decided to go swimming. "Adam, it's too early," Rita said when he made the announcement about going.
"Mom, have you been out today?" Adam asked. "It's almost hot."
"Maybe so, but the water will still be cold," Rita pointed out.
"At least it will cool us off," Adam countered.
"Go on then and freeze your you know what's off," Rita said.
"Mom, I can't believe you just said that," Brody said with a laugh.
"And I assume you're going to freeze yours off too," Rita said.
"Alright, go on," Rita relented. "You may want a fire in the fire pit," Rita said.
"Good idea, Mom," Brody said.
"When Jon and Justin get here tell them we're already down there," Adam said.
"Take a towel," Rita said as the boys headed out the door. "You'll stay warmer if you're dry."
"Alright," Brody agreed.
Justin arrived just as Jon drove up. Neither had remembered to bring a towel so Brody rushed inside to get a couple more.
"Mom said we should start a fire in the fire pit," Brody said.
"There's kindling and dry wood in the barn," Adam said. "You can help me get the fire started."
"How do you plan to get the fire started?" Justin asked.
"There's a lighter and lighter fluid on that shelf," Adam said
"I'll get it," Jon offered.
As soon as the fire was going Brody quickly stripped down to his swimsuit, ran and jumped into the water. "Crap, that's cold," he yelled out.
"Well, Mom warned us," Adam said as he joined Brody in the cold water.
Soon Justin and Jon were also in the water. After a few minutes, the boys' bodies seem to adjust to the cold water and they were actually enjoying the swim. Haden and Kyle heard the swimmers and decided to join them.
"What are you guys doing this summer?" Adam asked Haden and Kyle as they huddled around the fire to warm up.
"We're going to be working on our Master's degrees," Kyle said. "Did you know that Haden will graduate this summer?"
"I thought you said you had one more semester after this summer," Adam said.
"I thought so too, but it was discovered that if I take an extra class this summer I can graduate," Haden said. "I'll be on overload this summer, but it'll be good to get it over with."
"I couldn't take as many classes as Haden did," Kyle said.
"Why is that?" Justin asked.
"Football took up too much time," Kyle explained.
"Where's your car?" Haden asked when he didn't see Adam's car.
"It's in the garage," Adam said. "Dad said for me to start parking it in the garage. His is a company vehicle and can be depreciated on taxes."
"I don't see his SUV," Kyle said.
"He went into work today," Brody said. "It was something about working up a quote for a big order."
"Hello," Adam said when he answered his phone. "Yeah, I can do it. I'll be right there. He's here with us. Haden, Mom wants to talk to you."
"Hi Mom, Haden said. "Sure I'd be happy to help with it. I'll be there in a little while."
"What's going on?" Kyle asked.
"Dad's trying to get a contract with that builder who's building houses in that new subdivision on the south side of town, and she wants me to help make dinner. She wants me to make my braised chicken with artichokes and olives."
"I have to go to the store for mom," Adam said. "Brody, do you want to go?"
"No, I want to learn how to make that braised chicken," Brody said.
"I need to get home and help Dad with the chores," Jon said.
"What's going on?" Haden asked when he went to help Rita with dinner.
"Haden, this could be big for your dad," Rita said. "I don't know the details, but it has something to do with that big new housing addition on the south side of town.