Another Chance - Book Three

Chapter Fifteen: A Sad Time

by Zarek Dragon

 

Jim was hugging Jake, "Just so you know, I love all of you guys, but I don't know if I can stay in here. I need to step out for some air."

Jim stepped out to get some air and saw Joe walking towards him. Seeing Jim, Joe started feeling some pain himself. "Bro, you look like shit, I mean, if you look that bad, how is Patrick handling this?"

Jim hugged Joe and cried, "He's bad, and I wanted to be strong for him, but I couldn't handle it."

Joe gave Jim one of the best hugs he could. Then he whispered in his ear, "I'm sure Patrick understands. At least he's been warned how rough it would be on you."

"That doesn't make me feel any better. I feel like I failed him, here," Jim cried.

Jim didn't see a young face staring out the door worried about him. "You didn't fail me, Dad. You went in with me, you hugged me and made me feel better, knowing that I am loved. Yes, you came out here when it got too hard for you, but you were there when I needed you. Dusty told me that when you get to this point to let you cry in my shoulder while I cry in yours."

"Come here so I can hug you," Jim asked. "I can't tell you enough of how proud I am of you. I know you're hurting but you care enough about me to come out here when I needed you."

Patrick gave Jim a hug and spoke caringly to him, "At least I got to say goodbye, I will miss them, but I have you and Papa to help me."

Joe patted Patrick on the back, "Hey Champ, if you need any more arms wrapping around you, I'm here for you. And I brought someone with me."

"Who did you bring?" Patrick asked. Judge Buchanan started walking towards Joe.

"Patrick, this is Judge Joshua Buchanan. Joshua, this is Zac's and my other son, Patrick," Jim stated.

"I'm Jake's biological grandfather," Joshua held his hand out to Patrick. "Your dads have been kind enough to let me be a part of Jake's life. I told them that I would accept any child they added to their lives as my grandchild as well."

Patrick shook Joshua's hand, "Pleased to meet you, sir."

"I was coming to see about spending the day with Jake when Joe told me where you were," Joshua said softly, "I'm sorry to hear about your loss. Is the funeral home providing you with a limo?"

"Not that I am aware of," Jim answered.

Joshua put his hand on Jim's shoulder, "Then my limo will pick your family up. Just let me know what time."

Jim replied, "The funeral service will start at nine in the morning. We need to be here a few minutes before."

Patrick waited until they were done talking and then asked, "Sir, if you're accepting me as your grandson, do I call you grandpa, grandfather or what?"

Joshua smiled at the boy, "That's entirely up to you. You can call me Grandpa, Grandpa Joshua, or just Joshua. Or, if you have another name you would like, maybe you can go with that."

Patrick hugged the man he just met, "I like Grandpa Joshua, I think."

Joshua hugged Patrick back, "That's what Jake calls me as well."

Patrick turned to Joe, "Would you like to meet my parents? Well, not really meet them, but see them, anyhow."

"Are you sure you're ready to go back in there?" Joe seemed concerned.

Patrick slowly nodded his head, "I think the initial shock of seeing them for the first time after the accident has worn off. I may start crying again, but I don't think it'll hurt as bad."

Patrick led Joe and Joshua into the room. Jim stayed sitting on the bench, wanting to go be with his sons but feeling paralyzed by grief. "You can do this," he kept telling himself. "Patrick needs you to be strong for him."

As Jim sat there trying to convince himself to go back in, he heard someone calling his name. "Jim, are you alright?" the familiar voice asked. Jim knew he recognized the voice, but it couldn't possibly be her, not yet anyway.

Jim looked up and saw that it was her, "Mom, what are you doing here? You still have three days left of your honeymoon."

"Nick and I talked. We don't need to be away from the family for so long and when you told us about Patrick, Nick started searching for when the viewing and funeral would be. Knowing what happened to your dad, he thought you could use the emotional support."

"Thanks Nick," Jim offered. "I admit; I am an emotional wreck right now. I need to be in there with Patrick, but I don't know if I can."

"It's no problem, I have the rest of my life to be with your mom. Besides, I told you that I would be here when you need me," Nick responded. "How about you getting up and taking us to see our new grandson?"

Jim smiled at Nick and got up to hug the man, "But you didn't have to make this sacrifice for me." Jim walked back into the room, leading Heather and Nick to Patrick. "Patrick, I have some people who would like to meet you."

Zac looked surprised when he saw Heather and Nick, but deep down, it didn't really surprise him at all. Patrick ran back to Jim and hugged him, "You came back in the room."

"You must be Patrick," Heather chuckled. "I'm Jim's mom, making me your grandma. This handsome man is my husband Nick."

Patrick hugged Heather, "Did you come back early just for me? Dad and Papa said that you wouldn't be back until Saturday."

Heather returned Patrick's hug, "To be honest, we did come back to see you, but we were also worried about this one."

"I can understand that," Patrick said with tears trickling down his face, "Dad's been a total wreck. I'm a mess, but he may be a lost cause."

Jim hugged Patrick, "I wish I had your strength, Bud."

"I have strength because of you and Papa sharing yours, Dad," Patrick confessed.

Heather admired how loving Patrick was towards her son. "You know when Jim told me about you over the phone, I had concerns. I am pleased to see that what Jim said about you seems true."

Patrick gave her a weak smile, "Thank you, Grandma. Papa said that as much as I liked talking to you over the phone, when I finally met you, I would love you. I'm glad that he was right, too."

Jake came over to see his grandma, "I missed you."

"We missed you, too. Those are cool shirts," Heather admired the look of the two boys together.

"Some guy named Jake at the trading post gave them to us because Jackson got a bunch of saddles. I got to help open the crates the saddles came in, too," Patrick rambled.

"And I helped carry the bridle and reins," Jake added.

Heather picked Jake up and he kissed her cheek, "So, is the ranch rebuilt?"

Jim replied, "The barns are done, but the house has just under two weeks before Jackson, Colt and Ryan can move back in."

"And Dad's teaching me how to ride. Uncle Matt is envious because I get to ride Gold," Patrick chimed.

"Gold lets you ride him?" Heather questioned.

Patrick got a big grin, "Dad told me I can only ride him while Dad's around. He doesn't know what would happen if Dad weren't, and he'd rather not find out."

Heather looked at Jim, "That's very wise of him."

"You wanna see Patrick's parents? I thought they were sleeping, but Papa said they were in heaven now with my mommy," Jake asked Heather. Patrick's smile disappeared and he clung on to Jim.

Heather hugged Jake. As Heather went to view the bodies, Jim looked at Patrick, "You know Jake doesn't understand any of this don't you?"

Patrick nodded his head, "I hope it's a long time before he experiences anything like this for himself."

"So do I," Jim stated, thinking "especially since it would probably be Zac or me in that casket, if not both."

Patrick asked, "How long do we have to stay?"

Jim grimaced because he was ready to get out, himself, "As much as it pains us, most people coming will not only want to pay their respects to your parents, but also want to see you. Some people may not be able to make it until close to three."

"Do we have to stay the whole time? Won't they understand that my eyes hurt from crying so much?" Patrick was almost begging.

Zac walked over, "As much as I hate being here, I'm thinking we should stay until two. That gives most people a chance to see Patrick, and I'm sure Jake isn't having any fun."

Jim gave Zac a peck on the cheek, "Patrick and I are ready to leave whenever, but I told him that we should stay for his guests."

"OK, we'll leave at two then," Zac confirmed. "Anyone that comes after will just have to wait until tomorrow to see Patrick."

"Can't they all wait until tomorrow? I probably won't know most of them," Patrick questioned.

An elderly man walked up to Zac, "Patrick, your dad has told me so much about you, but you seem taller than I expected."

"I'm not Patrick, sir," Zac replied, "Patrick is right here."

"Oh, I'm sorry, I've yet to meet him, and you look a lot like how Paul described him, only taller," the man apologized.

Patrick asked the man, "How did you know my dad?"

The man looked at Patrick, "His office is, or rather was, next to mine. In over eleven years, not a day went by without me hearing him say, 'Patrick said his first word,' or 'Patrick took his first step.' 'Patrick started school.' 'Patrick brought home another A.' On and on, and I enjoyed every bit of seeing him being a proud daddy."

Patrick started to cry, "Dad always said that he was proud of me, but I always thought he was just saying that. Thank you for telling me."

Jim commented to Patrick, "And that's one of the reasons we need to stay until two. You'll probably hear other people talk about how much your daddy loved you, even if you don't know them."

"I guess I see your point," Patrick stated.

Many people showed up and as Patrick guessed, he didn't know most of them, but they all talked about how Paul or Patricia told them about him. Patrick thanked everyone of them for sharing. Most of the guests stayed for about twenty to thirty minutes after arriving. Jake fell asleep on a chair so Zac picked him up and carried him.

At fifteen minutes before two, Heather came over to Zac and Jim, "Nick and I are leaving, you boys should be going soon, too. Patrick has been here long enough. And supper at the house, alright?"

Zac gave Heather a hug, "We were planning to stay until two, but Jake's asleep and I know Patrick and Jim are ready to leave."

"I love you, Grandma," Patrick chimed. He was more than ready to get out of there.

As Patrick got in the truck, Jim looked at him, "Your eyes are really red. Would you like for us to get you some eye drops?"

"Please," Patrick answered, "They really hurt from crying so much."

Jim looked sad, "I'm sorry that we made you stay so long, but you needed to hear your parents' friends."

Patrick smiled, "I know, Dad. And hearing them did help soften the pain a little. Thank you for making me stay."

After getting the drops, Jim had Patrick tilt his head back and applied two drops per eye. Then, he told Patrick to blink a few times so the fluid covered the eyes more evenly. Patrick looked at Jim, "Now it's your turn."

"What?" Jim asked.

"It's your turn," Patrick repeated. "You have red eyes too."

"That doesn't surprise me any," Jim said, handing the bottle to Patrick. "Don't let the tip touch my eyelashes." Patrick smiled, feeling the trust of Jim to apply the eye drops.

Once they got home, Patrick went to his room and took a nap. He was out as soon as his head hit the pillow. "That was a nice viewing. Seeing our friends tell you things we said to them was really nice."

"Mom?" Patrick asked.

"Yes Patrick, I am here. Your new papa cares a lot about you to introduce your new family to us like he did," Patricia Roberts stated. "It's a shame that your new dad was in so much pain. I know he loves you, and you make him proud worrying about him as much as he does you."

"Daddy met Dad's dad," Patrick chuckled in his sleep after saying that. "He was killed by a drunk driver, too."

Patricia nodded her head, "I know, I've met him too. I sense that you have a strong love for your new family, and I am happy that they will make you happy for a very long time. Remember, there will be times when you may think they don't love you anymore, but trust me, they will always love you."

"You mean like when they punish me," Patrick grimaced.

"Yes, among other things," Patricia clarified.

Patrick was puzzled, "What other things?"

"I can't tell you right now, just remember what I said. Daddy and I will always love you and while we may not have bodies anymore, we will always be with you." And like that Patricia was gone.

Patrick woke up when his mom left and he went downstairs to grab something to drink. Jim looked at the haggard-looking boy, "You don't look like you had a nice nap?"

Patrick explained, "Mom visited me and said that you and Papa may do something to cause me to doubt you love me. I woke up right after."

Jim got up and gave Patrick a hug, "Only thing I can think of off the top of my head would be maybe to correct you, but we would do that because we do love you."

Patrick couldn't believe what he just heard, "That's what I said to Mom, well not word for word, but still. Mom said punishing me would be among other things and didn't explain what."

Jim knelt down so he could look Patrick in the eye, "I'm not sure what else it could be, but whatever comes up, I promise, if you ever feel like we don't love you, we will talk about it. You are Papa's and my son now and we will always love you. There may be times when we will get upset with you, like if you disobey, but that doesn't mean we don't love you. In fact, the reason we will get upset is because we do. Now why don't you and Jake get ready to go to Grandma's for supper?"

"I know Dad," Patrick gave a heart-melting smile. "I'm not perfect and I will make mistakes, but Mom and Dad always told me, they correct me or punish me because they love me and want me to grow up right."

Jim hugged Patrick, "I'm so glad that you understand that. We're heading to Grandma's in a few minutes, so go get ready and make sure Jake is too."

Patrick ran to find Jake. Zac looked at Jim, "That was a nice talk, and I can't think of any other reason for him to think we don't love him either, unless…"

"Unless what?" Jim was worried.

Zac had a thoughtful look on his face, "I doubt it would happen."

Jim was more than curious, "What?"

Zac shook his head, "I'm just messing with you, I can't think of anything either."

"You're a brat, do you know that?" Jim stood up and walked to where Zac was sitting.

Zac started to laugh, "You must have rubbed off on me, I was never a brat until I fell in love with you."

"Then I'll take the brat you, any day," Jim said as he sat on Zac's lap and started kissing.

"Get a room," they heard a voice coming from the stairs. Then a little lower the voice said, "You're supposed to say that whenever two people are kissing."

"Yeah Daddy and Papa, get a room," Jake squealed.

Jim gave Patrick a funny look. Zac asked, "Who told you that?"

"A kid in my class last year said that his older brother told him that," Patrick confessed.

"Do you even know what it means?" Jim questioned.

Patrick shook his head, "No, but I hear people laugh when others say it. I'm guessing they mean to kiss in private."

Jim got off Zac's lap and walked over to Patrick and Jake, "That's part of it, and yes it can be funny if said once in a while, but not every time. I suggest that you wait until you know what it means before you use it."

"I'm sorry, Dad," Patrick sighed.

Jim hugged Patrick, "Nothing to be sorry about, you didn't know. To be honest, I thought it was funny the first time you said it, and I wouldn't get too upset if you said it once in a while, but you really should know what you're saying when you talk."

Patrick acknowledged, "That would make sense. Then people can't tell me that I don't know what I'm talking about."

"OK, let's head to Grandma's," Zac stated. Patrick headed for the front door while everyone else headed towards the back door.

"Come on Patrick, Grandma is this way," Jake told his brother.

"Aren't we driving there? It seemed pretty far when we drove from there to here," Patrick questioned.

Jim chuckled. He called Patrick to the back door, "See that house? That's grandma's house. There's maybe seventy-five yards between the two back doors"

"Looks like only two yards to me, Grandma's and ours," Patrick teased.

Jim and Zac laughed. "You are cute; do you know that?" Jim asked.

"Am I cute?" Jake asked.

Patrick was first to answer, "You are the cutest."

Jim whispered in Patrick's ear, "Thank you, but you are just as cute as him."

"You're just saying that because you love me," Patrick tearfully noted.

Jim gave Patrick a kiss on the cheek. "I do love you, but I could ask anyone and they would agree. Zac, do you think this boy is cute?"

"He doesn't count," Patrick laughed, "He's my papa."

"You say that like you're proud," Zac commented.

"I am proud," Patrick responded. "Three days ago, you just met me and in that time you have shown me so much love. I truly believe I belong with you guys."

Jim started tearing up, "You do belong with us."

"That is because," Zac said, "this guy has so much love to give. Ask Joe how quick Dad was to accept him as his brother."

"Me?" Jim questioned, "You can't convince me that you don't have just as much love. You accepted everyone that I love just as fast as I did."

"I don't need to ask Uncle Joe," Patrick stated, "I saw how fast you accepted me, you both did. All three counting my brother."

Zac added, "And you accepted us."

Patrick looked at Zac, a tear was running down his face, "And I do. When my parents died, I thought my life was over, I'd go from foster home to foster home, never finding parents who love me like mine did. I am glad that you proved that theory wrong."

"I know that feeling," Jim stated. "Only in my case, I never thought I could find another dad. It's called a broken heart. Sure, that heart can be repaired, but there will always be scars on it from each time it gets broken."

They walked into the house and Heather hugged Patrick. "You look better than you did earlier," she proclaimed.

"Thank you Grandma, Dad put drops in my eyes to make them feel better. And I took a nap, but it wasn't very restful," Patrick explained.

Heather advised, "Well I hope he takes the drops with him to the funeral. I think you'll both need them."

Patrick got excited, "After Dad put drops in my eyes, he let me put them in his."

Heather smiled at Jim. "He always did have trouble putting drops in his own eyes. If he ever needs glasses, he won't be able to wear contacts. His eyes are too sensitive."

Patrick chimed, "But he asked me instead of Papa. It made me feel good."

Jim gave Heather a hug, "Are you giving away secrets?"

"I didn't tell him that you slept with a teddy bear after your dad died," Heather smirked.

Patrick laughed, "Did the teddy bear make you feel any better?"

"Maybe a little. We could have Jake put on his bear outfit so you can find out," Jim kidded.

"What do you think, Jake? You want to wear your bear outfit and sleep in my bed with me?" Patrick asked.

Zac chuckled at the idea. Jim mused, "I was kidding, but if you really want to try it."

"Cool," Jake cooed. "I get to be Patrick's teddy bear." Everyone laughed.

Heather remarked, "We have forty minutes until supper is ready. I would like to take that time to get to know my new grandson."

"Not much to tell, Grandma," Patrick insisted, "after all, I'm only eleven,"

Heather looked lovingly at the boy, not sure whose heart was melting the fastest, "When's your birthday?"

"May the fourteenth," Patrick answered.

"That's three days after Jim's, or I mean your dad's," Heather announced. Patrick started smiling.

"And Papa's was the day I came here. When is Jake's?" Patrick asked.

Jim loved how much Patrick loves Jake, you would think they were born into the same family. "You've taken to Jake just like Jim took to Joe when I brought him home," Heather stated. "Jake's birthday is the second of January."

"Brothers, what can I tell you?" Patrick quipped.

Heather continued talking to Patrick, finding out his favorite color and favorite food, among other things. Patrick enjoyed getting to know her as well until Nick said that supper was ready. "What are we having?" Patrick asked.

"Well, knowing how much Jake likes liver and onions," Nick started. Jake made a face causing everyone to laugh. "I fixed a roast with carrots, potatoes and onions."

"Darn, I was hoping for the liver and onions," Patrick said pretending to pout.

Nick looked surprised, "You don't like roast?"

Patrick gave Nick a smile, "I love roast, Grandpa, but when you mentioned liver and onions, that sounded good, too."

Heather lightly squeezed Patrick's shoulder, "Some night, I'll have to invite you over for some."

"OH, did I mention, Dad and Papa ate green beans yesterday," Patrick chortled. "Papa said that if Dad ate two bites, he'd buy me a hat. Then Dad said if Papa ate three bites, he'd buy me boots."

"But I got him back," Zac howled. "He said he'd throw in a kiss if I ate the three bites. I slipped that third bite into his mouth."

"We didn't need to know that last part," Heather scolded.

"Dad stuck his tongue into Papa's mouth," Patrick grimaced, wrinkling his nose.

Heather gave Patrick a look saying, "What did I just say?" to which Patrick apologized. The rest of the night, everyone had fun until Zac said they needed to head home.

"Grandpa Joshua is sending his limo to take us to the funeral so neither Dad nor Papa need to drive," Patrick solemnly stated.

"I saw him at the funeral home, that was nice of him," Heather declared. Looking at Jim, Heather cackled, "I can't believe you ate green beans."

"I did it for Patrick," Jim chimed. "And they still taste gross."

"Jim used to love green beans," Heather claimed, "but one time, Jon was down in El Paso looking at some horses and I was taking a friend to a doctor's appointment. His wife didn't drive so she agreed to watch Jim along with their six kids. Jim was four at the time. Anyway, she served green beans for lunch and made Jim eat them, even though he said they tasted funny. When I brought her husband back, Jim was still at the table. Stella complained because he wouldn't eat his green beans. She canned her own and when I saw the mason jar with white foam coming out of it, I got upset. Jim was sick for two days and hasn't liked green beans since."

Patrick looked at Jim, "I'm sorry I talked you into eating them."

"For you, I'd eat a whole can of them. I may get sick after, but I would do it for you," Jim averred with a tear running down his cheek.

Patrick got up from the table and gave Jim a hug. "I would never ask you to eat them, now that I know why you don't like them." He planted a kiss on Jim's cheek.

The rest of the night was a fun evening, distracting Patrick from the funeral to come. When they played Uno, Chris wanted to help Jake play. Then as the boys began getting sleepy, Jim and Zac agreed it was time to head home.

Jake went up to his room and put on his bear outfit. Patrick was surprised when he saw him, and exclaimed, "OH WOW! You really do look like a teddy bear."

"Give him a hug," Zac instructed. And Patrick did.

Smiling, Patrick joked, "I have a live teddy bear to sleep with."

An hour after the boys went to bed, Jim went up to check on them. Patrick was on his left side with Jake lying on his left arm. Patrick had his right arm draped over Jake. Jim HAD to snap a picture with his phone.

He went back downstairs where Zac was busy writing. Jim smirked, "I have something you should see, and then you should go up and actually see it." When Jim showed Zac the image, Zac grabbed his cell phone and went upstairs.

In the morning, everyone dressed in black suits and red shirts. The limousine arrived at eight to take them to the funeral home. Patrick couldn't believe how spacious it was. Mr. Buchanan was waiting inside as they climbed in. Patrick thanked him for the use of the limo. "Young man, I feel for your loss. When my wife died and then my daughter, I had no desire to drive myself at either funeral. I realize that you wouldn't have been driving, but I'm sure your dads appreciate the gesture just as much."

"You are correct, there," Zac stated. "Driving would have been hard for me today, and I can't even comprehend how Jim or Patrick are feeling."

"To change the subject so they don't get too emotional before the funeral starts," Joshua began, "Monday before school starts, I was wondering if I could take the boys for a few hours, maybe go to the park so they can play, we can chat to get to know each other, and throw in a trip to McDonald's for lunch. You both are welcome to join us."

"I'll be at the ranch all day," Zac stated, "but if Jim's alright with it, you have my permission."

"What do you boys say, do you want to spend time with Grandpa Joshua on Monday?" Jim asked.

"Yeah!" Jake was excited.

Patrick looked at Jim, "Will you be going?"

Jim responded, "No, I think I'm going to let Grandpa Joshua have a chance to know his grandsons. And the ranch will probably be busy, so I can make some extra money."

"Do I have to go?" Patrick asked, "No offense, Grandpa, but I just met you yesterday. I appreciate everything you've done for us already, but I'd like to know you better before going without my dad or papa."

Joshua had a tear running down his face, "You are a smart young man. While I can assure you that you'd be just as safe, I can understand not trusting someone you've barely even met. I'm not offended and totally understand. I will try to spend time with you and Jake as much as possible so the next outing you can be comfortable going."

Jim asked, "If I go, would you like to so you can get to know him better?"

"Yes, I would like that," Patrick admitted.

Joshua suggested to Jim, "What if I picked you up at say ten and we finish up around one. Would that give you enough time at the ranch?"

Jim smiled and placed his arm around Patrick, "That would work for me."

Patrick smiled. It made him feel good knowing Jim and Zac were willing to do anything, or at least in his mind anything, to make him happy. "That being the case, I would love a chance to get to know you a little better, too."

Joshua looked at Jim, "When I tell the Bateses about Patrick, they may wish to join us."

"Who are the Bateses?" Patrick asked.

Jim explained, "They are the parents of Jake's birth father. They've agreed to treat all of our children as their grandchildren also."

"So I have four sets of grandparents? Would be six but all four of my birth grandparents passed away before I was born," Patrick tried comprehending it.

Zac responded, "That sounds about right, then."

The limousine pulled into the funeral home lot and Patrick's smile faded. The director led them to their seats and allowed Patrick time with his parents before the service started. "Mom, Daddy, I just wanted to say how much I love you. I know that I was never the perfect son, but you always treated me like I was. Last time I actually spoke to you, I said I hated you for leaving me. Had I known that you were leaving me for good, I would never have said that. I know you've forgiven me, but it just proves I wasn't as perfect as you treated me. You loved me beyond any words I can ever utter. Thank you for all that you've taught me. I know that your guidance will always be a part of my life. I'll miss you both," Patrick became choked up and turned towards Jim. He ran and hugged his Dad, crying harder than he had as of yet.

At a quarter until nine, the guests started filing into the room. Patrick was clinging to Jim like his life depended on it, but Jim didn't care. He actually enjoyed it. Part of him did wonder if he was being selfish with Patrick like he was when Jake first entered their lives, so he made a mental note to talk with Zac and get his opinion.

As the service began, the director said that no one was asked to give a eulogy, but instead would like for volunteers to say something nice about the couple. It amazed Patrick with not only how many people showed but also how many had something to say about his mother and father. Even their elderly neighbor, Miss Columbus who owned two cats named Jay and Miles, came to pay her respects. "I remember when Paul and Patricia moved in next door. They were the nicest couple. Paul always mowed my grass for me when he did his own. When Patricia had their son, she still made time to visit. And they taught Patrick some good manners. That boy always treated me with respect. When my eyesight started failing, they would let Patrick come over and read the paper to me. I could tell he wasn't a cat person, but he always played with mine and complimented me on them. I will miss Paul and Patricia, but I think I will miss Patrick's joy even more."

Jim looked down at his son, "If you ever want to go visit her, we can make arrangements." Patrick smiled, weakly, but he smiled.

After everyone that volunteered were done, the director asked if there was anyone else. Zac stood up and walked to the podium. Jim noticed the paper that Zac had been writing on just last night. "I never met Paul and Patricia Roberts, but I feel like I know them through their son, Patrick. Patrick came to live with my husband and me on the day after their accident. He felt like his world had just crashed, and that would be because it did. But one of the first things I noticed about Patrick was how polite he was. Yes, he was angry, and rightfully so, but he remained polite. That reflects on how Paul and Patricia taught him. I also noticed how Patrick gravitated towards love. He not only was pulled towards it, but he dished out as much love as he received, possibly more. That tells me how much Paul and Patricia loved him. And then when Patrick found out that my husband's father was also killed by a drunk driver, Patrick become more concerned about Jim than himself. That tells me that Paul and Patricia were caring parents. Hearing these stories yesterday and today confirm what I have come to believe about Paul Andrew and Patricia Ann Roberts. They will truly be missed by everyone their lives have touched."

As Zac went to take his seat, Jim kissed his hand. "You are truly an amazing man, and I am so lucky to have you in my life."

The director concluded the service there and pall bearers carried the caskets out to the hearses. The hearses led the motorcade to the cemetery, the limousine with Patrick was behind the second hearse. While heading there, Zac looked at Jim. "How are you holding up?" he asked.

"Aside from being emotionally drained and exhausted, surprisingly well," Jim answered. "I think I did all of my crying yesterday and now I can be a rock for this guy."

"I think you're fooling yourself, but if it's working for Patrick's sake, I won't stop you until we get home," Zac smirked.

"Good, because when we get home, I may just soak your shirt again," Jim confessed. Zac smiled knowingly.

The limousine pulled over and everyone piled out. Though Patrick had his own chair, he wanted to sit on Jim's lap. A preacher gave a short sermon about the dead rising first when Christ returns and everyone having glorified bodies that would never die. Then a prayer was said and the funeral service was concluded. Patrick sat for several minutes not ready to get up. Judge Buchanan went to the limousine but told the boys to take their time. If they were there for hours, all that mattered was Patrick being ready to leave.

Patrick finally got off Jim's lap, looked at the caskets and said his final goodbye. Then he walked slowly to the limousine. Zac, watching Jim, wasn't sure he would make it home before his dam broke again. He placed his right arm around Jim and held Jake's hand with his left. They slowly walked to the vehicle.

Buckling his seatbelt, Patrick looked at Jim and with a hoarse voice said, "Dad, I know you're hurting and being strong for me. Thank you, but it's your turn to cry." That was all it took and Jim pressed his head into Zac's shoulder. Zac mouthed a "thank you" to Patrick, who smiled at Zac.

As he was dropping them off, Joshua reminded Jim that he would see him on Monday. As the boys walked into their home, they started sniffing. "What smells so good?" Patrick asked.

"I can smell teriyaki," Jim said, starting to smile again.

Zac led the way to the dining area and the table was set. A meatloaf was in the center and a note. "Jim and Zac, I thought you wouldn't be in the mood to fix lunch, so I made this for you, following Jim's Aunt Brenda's 'mistake.' Dessert is sitting on the kitchen counter. Yes, Jim, it is one. Love Momma Marilyn."

Jim looked at Patrick, "Wait until you taste dessert. And if you don't like it, I'll be happy to eat your share."

"What was Aunt Brenda's mistake?" Patrick asked.

Jim chuckled, "She made a meatloaf one night and used teriyaki instead of Worcestershire sauce. She was so upset, but I thought it was the best meatloaf I ever had. We've been making them like that ever since."

As they were sitting down to eat lunch, Jim's phone rang. Jim saw that it was Harvey Cox so he put it on speaker. "Mr. Bolt, I'm glad that I caught you. I would like to read Paul's and Patricia's wills tomorrow at noon. If that is not a good time, I can schedule it whenever is convenient for Patrick since he is the only one mentioned in the will."

Jim looked at Zac who just nodded his head. "Yes, that time works for us," Jim confirmed. After Jim concluded the call, he turned his cell phone off and they started to eat. Jim got to thinking, "I wonder how a meatloaf would taste with teriyaki and pineapple. We love the teriyaki burgers."

"We may have to try it sometime," Zac laughed.

After they ate lunch, Zac put a pot of water on the stove. Then he grabbed two pounds of stew meat and started cutting it into smaller pieces. Patrick came in and asked if he could help. "You can open the bags of mixed vegetables. They're in the freezer."

Patrick pulled two bags out and started to open them. "Papa," he warned, "these have green beans in them."

"I know," Zac answered, "but Dad bought them for the stew. He and I don't mind them in stuff. We just don't like them plain. The taste is different."

Patrick thought for a bit, "I guess the other foods could change the flavor a little." Patrick opened the bags and Zac finished cutting the meat.

Zac chuckled, "If Dad were cutting this meat, I think only half would make it into the pot."

"He eats it raw?" Patrick was surprised, "Is he a vampire?"

Zac laughed, "He does dress as one for Halloween." Jim walked in and grabbed the last piece of meat before Zac could cut it. "Patrick discovered your secret, Babe."

Jim looked puzzled, "What secret is that?"

"That you're a freakin' vampire," Patrick howled.

"Now I vant to dlink your blood," Jim kidded, doing his best vampire imitation. Patrick took off laughing and Jim gave chase. Jim caught him just before Patrick got to his room, and carried him to the bed. Instead of biting his neck, Jim started tickling him.

"Help me, Jake!" Patrick yelled between his giggles, "A vampire's got me."

Jake came running into the room and yelled, "Let my brother go, vampire."

Jim stopped tickling Patrick and suggested, "Now that you're a vampire, let's get Jake."

Patrick didn't care that he couldn't have become a vampire by just being tickled, he was having fun and thought tickling Jake sounded even more fun. He grinned and replied, "Okay." Jake took off screaming.

Jim went through the hall and Patrick through the bathroom. They got Jake on his bed and started tickling him. After several minutes, Jim claimed to be out of breath and just lay there breathing heavily. Patrick panted, "What, are you getting old?"

That was all it took; Jim straddled the boy and started tickling him. "I'm not too old to tickle you and you were panting, too," Jim pointed out.

"Uncle," Patrick called out.

"No, I'm Dad," Jim teased and then let the boy up.

"That was fun. I like getting tickled, to a point, that is," Patrick beamed.

All three walked back downstairs, Jim's arm was draped over Patrick's shoulders and he carried Jake with the other. Zac tried giving them a stern look but ended up laughing, "Are you three children done roughhousing?"

"I think so, Papa," Jim giggled.

"We could tickle Papa," Patrick suggested.

"Except, he's not ticklish," Jim informed him. Patrick pretended to pout.

That night after the boys went to bed, Jim teased Zac, "Do you want to spank me for roughhousing today, Papa?"

"I'll spank you alright, but not for the roughhousing. I think Patrick needed it," Zac replied before kissing Jim. Once they separated, he started unbuttoning Jim's shirt.

Jim didn't wake up as early as he usually did, Zac wore him out. Instead, he woke up at six. When he tried getting up, he discovered that Zac used their belts and tied him to the frame. "Zac!" Jim yelled.

Zac came out of the bathroom, "Shhhh, you'll wake up the boys."

"Would you untie me, please?" Jim asked.

"What? And not be able to do this whenever I want?" Zac started playing with Jim.

Jim started laughing, "You know what's mine is yours, so you don't need to tie me up to do that whenever you want."

Zac started removing the restraints from his love, "And when you're willing it's always more fun. You go get a shower and I'll start breakfast."

"Yes, Papa," Jim giggled.

Zac asked, "What is it with you calling me Papa all the time?"

"I think it's cute, and you have to admit, you've sorta taken charge since we moved out of Mom's," Jim explained.

Zac thought for a minute, "I have, haven't I? I'm sorry."

Jim gave Zac a kiss, "I'm not complaining, and it doesn't surprise me. You've always been the more dominate one in our relationship."

"That is true," Zac admitted, "but when it comes to the family, we should be a team. Neither one of us being dominant."

Jim inquired, "Does that mean I have to quit calling you Papa?"

Zac requested, "Other than when talking about me to the boys, please do. It was cute the first couple times, but now it'll make me feel bad."

"While we are talking," Jim said, "I have a question for you. Have I been selfish with Patrick like I was with Jake?"

"Babe, you and Patrick need each other right now, so you are not being selfish. Yes, you are spending more time with Patrick than I get to, but I've only been hurting for the two of you. You both are grieving. Maybe now that the funeral is over with, you'll not need each other so much and you'll not feel like you're hogging him."

"Thank you, I needed to hear that. I'm going to take that shower, if you're wanting to make breakfast. Or you can join me," Jim flirted.

"Breakfast? We can fix it after the shower,"

After the shower, Jim and Zac went downstairs to make breakfast. When they walked into the kitchen, they couldn't believe their eyes.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY SAW?

Horse Runner

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