Lincoln, The Family I Never Expected

Lincoln-25, Patience

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Don't forget to read the author notes at the end of this installment!!
!!Author's Notes!!
I highly recommend reading the books in parts. Read part 1 and take a break. Then read part 2 and take a break... you get what I am saying. The chapter is broken up, to be stopping points. However, if you want to read all the way through, go for it!! Also look for a link at the end of the chapter for my recent author interview by comicality. I was asked 10 brief questions, and it gives some background to the story. The link will be at the end of the chapter. 
!!Author's Notes!!


Installment 25 (Patience)

Part - 1

Saturday morning, April 2nd, 2016.
"Garret! Garret!" I heard a voice call. 
"Huh?" I mumbled and started to wake up.
"Get up! Get up!  We have soccer!"
"Huh?" I asked as my eyes finally adjusted.
"Wake up!" Ryker said as he was bouncing on the bed. "Got my first soccer game today!"
"Soccer! Get up! Get up! It's my first game... come on come on, let's go!"  
I turned my head to look at the clock, "buddy... you do have your first game... but not till 10:30." 
"I know! I'm excited!" 
"I can tell," I said as I grabbed ahold of his wrist. "But it's 6:30 kiddo, come lay down for a little while." 
"But I don't wanna," Ryker replied as he went from standing to sitting on his knees. It was like a few weeks ago, when he started practice, but only much worse this time.
"You don't have to fall back asleep, just lay down. We can talk or something." 
"But I have to finish getting ready? I gotta put my shorts on, and-and I gotta do my hair, and." 
"Ryker," I interrupted him. "You'll have plenty of time for all of that. Now come lay down." 
"I don't wanna  lay down." 
"Ryker..." I said. 
"Fine, but I'm not happy." 
"Oh yeah?" I chuckled as I opened up the blanket and Ryker snuggled his way in. 
"How come?" 
"Because I'm not tired. I just wanna play the first game." 
"And you will... but right now, you're up earlier than you wake up for school, kiddo. Let's just lay down for a little while and relax." 
"No buts," I laughed and kissed his forehead.
"Fine'" Ryker answered in a dull tone. "When do Jacob and Clayton play?" 
"Clayton is at 9:15-,
"SEE! We should be up now," Ryker interrupted. 
"Ryker we will be fine, I promise." 
"But I'm not tired." 
"Well, you may not be tired now," I stated, as I began rubbing Ryker's chest to calm him. "But you've got a busy day planned kiddo.... your friends, the soccer game, and a sleepover. So let's lay down and relax, so if you fall asleep for an extra hour or two... that'll be great. If we talk for two hours, that's fine too." 
"Uhh... yeah fine," Ryker mumbled and paused a few seconds, " can... can you scratch my back and butt instead?" 
"What's wrong with your chest?" 
Knowing I would eventually cave anyway, I decided to save my breath, "Umm sure, I'm gonna need you to roll over." 
"I'm guessing over your underwear wouldn't be good enough?" I inquired as he turned to lay on his stomach.
"Oh, good point!" Ryker added as he stripped off his boxer briefs.
"Surprised you had them on." 
"I started to get ready and didn't hear you up, and I wanted to check on you." 
"Check on me?" I asked as I began scratching in a circular motion that covered his thighs, bum, and lower back. 
"Yeah... to make sure you are okay." 
"You do that a lot?" 
"When I have a bad dream, I make sure you are okay when I come to sleep in here."
"Oh... hmm, well that is sweet of you." 
"Yah! Don't want anything bad happening to you." 
"I appreciate it," I said and kissed the top of his head. 
"Your welcome." 
"Ya know... you're lucky you got a cute little behind, or I wouldn't be touching it," I joked as I lightly patted his bum before scratching again. 
"Nut uh," Ryker giggled, "if it was ugly, you would still do it. You love me too much." 
"Ugly is better than stinky."
"Like this?" 
"Ryker... don't you do it." 
"I'm just kidding," Ryker laughed. 
"Better be!" 
"Can we go in the boat with my friends?" Ryker asked as he turned his head to look at me. 
"Possibly, but we couldn't do any swimming... water would be too cold, and they don't have wetsuits." 
"But we can still go for a boat ride, right?" 
"We could, but let's wait and see what everyone else wants to do. Maybe your friends won't like the water." 
"Oh... okay, didn't think about that." 
"Yeah... but anyway, I've heard someone has a birthday coming up." I said as I changed the topic 
"Who?" Ryker asked. 
"You silly." 
"Oh yeah," Ryker replied in a down tone. 
"What's wrong?" 
"You not like your birthday?" 
"No," Ryker said as he rolled on his back now. "I never had one." 
Took me a second to realize what he was talking about, but I caught on, "so you never had a birthday party?" 
"No," Ryker replied, "I wasn't allowed one." 
"Well you know that's changing this year," I answered and playfully poked his ribs.
"Better believe it!" 
"Are you serious?" 
"Yes," I chuckled. 
"What's it even like?" 
"A birthday party? Well, our family will probably come in, and then you can have your friends over if you want to. Usually a sleepover, and you get to eat cake, open presents, have fun, and hang out with people." 
"This will be epic!" 
"Yup. It'll be all about you!" 
"Can you still scratch?" 
"Umm... My front?" 
"Buddy, that's inappropriate." 
"Oh... not my hooter then." 
"Your hooter? Oh dear lord," I chuckled as I palmed my face. 
"First, let's use proper terminology." 
"Sorry... my penis." 
"That's better," I stated. "And your penis belongs to you, no one should be touching it unless it's an absolute necessity?" 
"What's does ne-necessity mean?" 
"Umm, like a need or a must. Okay, so an example, if you broke both your arms, I would probably need to help you in the bath or help use the bathroom as well as put clothes on. See, you wouldn't have the use of your arms, it would be a necessity for me to help you. And even then, no one should ever touch you there without your permission." 
"But... aren't I giving you permission to scratch it?" 
"I don't even think that would feel good and second... it's not a necessity. You've got two good hands." 
"Fine," Ryker said. "Can... can you at least scratch around it? Like my legs and stomach?" 
"If I do, can we change the topic?" 
"Alright," I laughed as I started making circular motions on his thighs. Before heading to his stomach, then chest, before reaching his other thigh.
"When can we swim in the pool?" 
"All depends on when I get it open, why?" 
"Would be epic to have it for my birthday party," Ryker yawned. 
"That's pretty early to open up the pool, but we will see." 
"It's okay...we can swim in the lake." 
"That is another possibility," I said as I noticed Ryker had closed his eyes. 
"I really liked swimming in the lake." 
"Looked like you had a lot of fun. I didn't know you could do flips and stuff." 
"I can almost do a backflip, like standing up." 
"Where do you learn this?" 
"YouTube," Ryker answered as he moved closer to me. 
"Hmm... maybe we should get you guys a trampoline or something." 
"That would be so epic!" 
"I'll look into it!" 
"Yes," Ryker replied as I was now just scratching his chest. He was beginning to doze off again, and after 10 minutes of talking, he was back to sleep again. Even though Ryker was back down for what I hoped, would be another hour or two, I, on the other hand, was wide awake. I decided to start my day and head downstairs for coffee. Before doing so, I grabbed Ryker's underwear that he discarded and took them back to his room before checking on the other three. At this point the morning flew by, Lincoln was up first and wasn't too happy to be going to the game. He didn't quite grasp the idea, that he wasn't old enough to be left home alone for so long. Plus, I wanted him there at the soccer fields to cheer on his brothers. 
Once all the boys were awake, I fed them breakfast and sent them to their rooms to get ready. They had received their jerseys last practice, but it was adorable seeing them dressed in full gear. Ryker's uniform is red with black soccer shorts, and he picked the number 7. Jacob was wearing number 11, and his jersey is colored black. Last, Clayton went with number 3, and his shirt is colored yellowed. And since it was a bit chilly outside, all the boys had on a skintight thermal long sleeve undershirt to keep them warm. 
With everyone ready, we packed into the SUV and headed to the fields. With Clayton's game being first, I sent him over to his team to get warmed up, while Ryker, Lincoln, Jacob and I sat on the sidelines. 
"Can I sit with you?" Jacob asked as I unfolded my chair. 
"Of course," I answered and sat down. 
Jacob followed my action and jumped into my lap, as Lincoln and Ryker sat on the grass, "thanks." 
"No problem kiddo," I said and wrapped my arms around Jacob. "So boys, remember on Tuesday your rooms are getting painted. That means, by Monday, at the latest, I need to know what you want to have. Clayton is doing a Blue Jackets room, so really we can do anything." 
"Can I do like a sports bedroom?" Ryker inquired. 
"Yup! General sports, or do you want to do a specific sports team?"
"Umm," Ryker said.
"I like my room the way it is," Lincoln stated.
"You sure?" 
"Yeah, I don't really want to change it. Maybe add a few posters or something." 
"We can do that."
Ryker spoke, "I think... I think I wanna do an umm... umm, like all sports." 
"Alright, I'll look into it." 
"Oh! Oh! I see Dylan and Logan... can I go over there?" 
"There," Ryker pointed across the field.
"Umm, yeah sure. But make sure to walk around the field." 
"Okay!" Ryker said and took off running. 
"What about a space room?" Jacob asked turning my attention back to the remodel. 
"Like an outer space theme?"
"Hmm," I answered. "We could do a dark blue room, and put a bunch of glow in the dark stickers around the room. Maybe a poster or two." 
"Yeah!" Jacob said as he perked up.
"That would be cool," added Lincoln. 
"If that's what you want to do, then we can attempt it!"
"Yeah, I want that," Jacob said. 
"And Lincoln, you sure you don't want your room painted a different color?" 
"I'm good," Lincoln answered as Clayton's game was just about to start. "How long are the games?" 
"That's a good question," I replied. "Probably 10-15 minute halves." 
"Are you okay staying afterward with Mr. Brumm to watch Max play?" 
"Yeah I guess, but when are Devin and Carter coming over?" 
"Not till 1 or 2."
"Is Christian coming?" Inquired Jacob.
"Nope, but we can see if he wants to sleep over another time." 
"Okay," Jacob said. "What about George?" 
"I think it's pretty short notice to ask George too."
"Yeah, don't worry buddy," I said as I kissed the back of his head. "We will have a sleepover for you here soon." 
"Okay," Jacob responded as we watched Clayton's game. 
At halftime, it was time for Jacob to meet his team and do pregame drills/warm-ups. On this chilly day, warm-ups were necessary... well maybe not at this age group, but it was good practice to always warm up before jumping into the activity.
As Jacob jogged over to meet his team, he left Lincoln and I sitting together as the 2nd half of Clayton's game began. I kept seeing Lincoln's eyes drift over towards a group of boys kicking the ball around. It was Max and a group of his teammates. 
"Why don't you head over there," I nudged Lincoln. 
"You heard me," I chuckled. "With Max." 
"Max is here?" Lincoln answered playing dumb. 
"Boy! You and I both know you were looking over there." 
"Nut uh." 
"Alright, I was." 
"Why don't you head over there." 
"I... I don't want to." 
"I don't really know anyone besides Max." 
"None of those boys are in your class?" 
"Umm," Lincoln looked as he studied the group. "No!" 
"So, at least go say hi to Max! I'm sure he wouldn't mind introducing you." 
"What if he doesn't want me here." 
"Lincoln," I stated. "You're being silly. Max is one of your best friends!" 
"GO CLAYTON!" I said interrupting Lincoln, as Clayton was dribbling to the net! "You got it, buddy!" I hollered as he ran by the last person. In Clayton's age group, they weren't playing with goalies yet, so he had a clear shot to score his first goal. Then with the kick of his left foot, he placed the ball perfectly between the two posts. "WAY TO GO BUDDY!" 
"Nice job, Clay!" Lincoln encouraged. 
I chuckled as Clayton looked so happy celebrating with his team but turned my attention back to Lincoln, "I'm sorry kiddo, didn't mean to cut you off. Why don't you want to walk over there?" 
"I just don't." 
"Hey, Lincoln!" Hollered a familiar voice, which caused us both to turn around. 
"Hi Max," Lincoln answered as he perked up. 
"Hey, wanna come kick the ball around with a few other people and me?" 
"Garret?" Lincoln said turning back to me. "Can I?" 
I just looked at him, half dumbfounded by his question because he already knew my answer. However, I played along and quickly responded, "absolutely bud." 
"Was that Clayton who scored?" Max inquired. 
"Way to go Clay!" Max yelled before turning his attention back to Lincoln. "Come on Lincoln." 
"Cya, Garret!" 
"Hey, hold up. If I'm not here whenever you are done passing the ball, I'm over by field 4. It's that one right there," I pointed. "That's where Jacob is playing, okay?" 
"Alright, cya."
"Bye, love ya," I said as my attention was now entirely on The game in front of me. Clayton's game went by rather quick at this point. With no goalies in net, the game was high scoring for soccer. I think it was 8-6, and Clayton's team took home their first win of the season. After the coach talked to the team for a quick moment, Clayton came running over to me.
"Garret! Garret!" Clayton joyfully called as I was packing up the two chairs. 
"Hey, little bear! You did so amazingly well for your first game! I'm so proud of you!" I responded, as I kneeled and let Clayton run into me for a hug. 
"Did you see my two goals?" 
"I did!" 
"And-and we won!" 
"Oh I know," I replied as I stood up with Clayton in my one arm. "Now we have to go cheer on Jacob!" 
"Okay," Clayton answered as he now rested his head on my shoulder. "Love you, Garret!" 
"Love you too," I stated and kissed the side of his cheek. Unfortunately, I had to set my little cuddle bug down, as I had to finish packing away the chairs. We had to quickly move to field 4 for Jacobs game, as I didn't want to miss any of it. So we hurried over and promptly found our spot at center field.
Only this time, I set up one chair. I figured Lincoln or Ryker could open up the other if needed. Once Jacobs game started, Clayton didn't last too long. He tried to stay awake to cheer on his brother, but as he sat on my lap and rested his head on my shoulder, Clayton was out. 
Jacobs game continued on, and his half lengths were a bit longer than Clayton's. At 15 minutes a half, Jacob was being substituted in and out to share the playing time and give a break or two. However, once in the game, Jacob was doing pretty well. His team was up 2 to 0. He had no goals or assist, but playing a defensive position, it wasn't unexpected. I found it odd that a two year age difference meant they played with goalies, but I wasn't in charge of rules. 
Approaching half time, Ryker finally made his way back over to me along with Dylan and Logan. 
"Clay did you... oh, he sleeping," Ryker spoke as he sat down next to me. "Did he win?" 
"Yup," I said as I tousled Ryker's hair. 
"Is Jacob winning?" 
"Yeah, 2-0." 
"Cool," Dylan said. 
"Ryker said we are going on the boat," Logan said as he sat down with Ryker. 
"It's a possibility," I chuckled. "But don't worry about it, you all have to focus on your game." 
"I'm just excited to sleepover." 
"So am I," Dylan added. 
"Can we sleep in the basement this time?" Ryker inquired.
"Bud! Don't worry about it!" 
"Sorry, I'm just excited." 
"I know kiddo!" I chuckled. 
"Hey," Lincoln said as he joined us.
"Eww, why you all sweaty," Ryker asked. 
"Shut up Ryker," Lincoln said as he flicked his brothers head. 
"Hey!" Ryker called out. 
"Boys," I said he a deep tone. 
"He flicked me," Ryker tattled. 
"Did not," Lincoln responded. 
"Boys... enough," I said as I turned toward them. "Lincoln did you flick him?" 
"Umm... yeah." 
"Because he is annoying."
"Am not," Ryker called out. 
"All he did was ask why you were sweating?" 
"It's none of his business." 
I looked at Lincoln with another dumbfounded look on my face. "Umm alright? Just apologize, you know we aren't supposed to hit oth-" 
"It was a flick!" Lincoln interrupted me. 
"I don't care if it was a flick, slap, hit, or punch... just apologize, he didn't deserve." 
"Fine, I'm sorry." Lincoln half heartily said. 
"Ryker, Logan, Dylan... come on, let's go," their coach said as he walked by us, trying to round up the players to start warm-ups. It was perfect timing, as it separated the boys. 
"Oh, I gotta go," Ryker quickly announced as he jumped to his feet. 
"We will be over after Jacobs game is done." 
"Okay!" Ryker said as he ran over to me and kissed me check. "Bye Dad! I mean... umm Garret... sorry," he blushed.
"It's alright," I chuckled. "Go get'em, tiger!" 
"Who's winning?" Lincoln asked. 
"Jacobs team!."
"So what's up? Why'd you get mad at Ryker." 
"He just so nosey." 
"I mean I'm not gonna lie. I'm intrigued, why you are so sweaty too." 
"I don't know, was just kicking the ball around and stuff. I guess I ran around a lot." 
"Alright well, it's not a big deal. I'm not sure why you turned it into one. He was just asking a question, bud." 
"Yeah but, like he is always wondering what I'm doing. Like all the time. He always has to know what I'm doing or where I've been. It's annoying, he doesn't need to know everything I'm doing. He's just... just so nosey. He's always been, but it's worse since we started livin' with you." 
"Well," I paused. "I can think of a few reasons why he is always asking and butting in." 
"I think the main reason is that he looks up to you. You're like a role model to him. I've said it before, but when you're the oldest. You need to set good examples so that your brothers will follow." 
"Yeah... but I don't always have to tell him stuff." 
"I agree, but let me finish," I said as I adjusted Clayton who was still sleeping in my lap. "Another reason might be that he's concerned for you kiddo. Y'all been through a lot and believe it or not, it's only been 2-3 months since you've boys have come into my life. So I'm sure Ryker still has some bad and negative memories of that night. Even more, he has sure seen you go through a lot with your PTSD attacks. I mean, you have to take that into account sometimes." 
"I didn't think about that." 
"I know, and it's okay." 
"Has it really been that short?" 
"Us livin' with you." 
"It seems so much longer though." 
"You're telling me," I joked. "I think you boys have grown 4-5 inches and packed on some much-needed weight!" 
"I have not grown 4-5 inches!" Lincoln laughed. 
"I know, I'm just messing around. But getting back to the point about Ryker being nosey. He's your little brother. They're supposed to be annoying sometimes, and you just need to put up with it. Hitting or even a simple flick, isn't necessary." 
"Yeah," I answered and turned my attention back to Jacob's game. 
At this point, the morning flew by. Jacob's team won the game 4-1. He didn't have any points, but he played good defense. On our final game, Ryker's team didn't do as good. They lost 5-2, and unfortunately, Ryker didn't play too well. I mean his team didn't either, but Ryker was directly responsible for a goal against. He made a bad pass that landed right in front of the opposing team's best player. Needless to say, the kid buried one home. On the offensive side, Ryker did have one assist. However, it was towards the end of the game, when it didn't mean much. 
Although, he didn't seem to shaken up by his team's loss. I was expecting worse, especially since he was looking forward to soccer the most. I guess having a sleepover eased his mind a little. So, we quickly met up with Logan's mother to grab his bag and then went out to find Todd and Joanne. 
They were already seated, ready for Max's game to begin. Dylan grabbed his stuff for the sleepover, and I handed Lincoln off to the Brumms. I was surprised to see how well he did. I mean I didn't see any push back or hesitation. He just sat down and quickly started talking with Todd. I was a bit relieved and also proud because I expected Lincoln to fight back. But with no hassle from him, everybody said our goodbye for a few hours and went to the SUV. 
Once everyone was buckled up, we were on our way back. I had Ryker, Jacob, Clayton, Logan, and Dylan in my car. The conversation was amusing as the boys planned out their night. I kept hearing Ryker mention the boat ride, so who's knows what we had in store for later. One thing that was a must, a quick shower for them. We'd only been in the car for a few minutes, and they started stinking it up. 
Once we arrived, I parked the Benz in the garage, and we walked in. 
"This house is even bigger than it looks from the road," Logan said wide-eyed. 
"Yeah I know, happy I get to share it though," I answered. 
"Are we going on the boat?" Chimed Ryker. 
"We will see kiddo!" 
"Wait can I sit in the Ferrari?" Logan inquired. 
"Absolutely! But before we do anything, you boys need a shower! Plenty of showers to pick from, so no need to wait until people are finished. Ryker or Jacob, you can use the big shower, and let Dylan take yours. Logan can use Lincoln's." 
"What's the big shower?" Dylan asked. 
"It's in Garret's room," Ryker answered. "Wait can we all shower in there." 
"Yeah, can we?" Echoed Logan. 
"Umm," I pondered the idea. "Nah, I don't think so guys. it'll probably be quicker if you guys all shower separately, don't ya think?" 
"Yeah probably." 
"I agree," I said as I thought it wasn't a good idea to have 5 naked boys in my bathroom. "Alright, towels should be under the sinks. I'll order us some pizzas when you all get cleaned up." 
"I call the Big shower!" Ryker yelled and took off upstairs with the others following him. 
"Garret," Clayton said as he didn't follow them. "What about me?" 
"What about you?" I chuckled and picked him up to give his cheek a kiss.
"Yeah? Where do I shower?" 
"Think you can be a big boy and do it yourself in your room?" 
"Umm... but what if I get soap in my eyes." 
"Alright, that would be a problem. Umm go ahead upstairs and hop in with Ryker. I'll be up after I order pizza." 
"Okay!" He replied as I set him down. 
"Remember he is in my room. Don't be walking in on a naked Dylan!" I hollered as Clayton took off 
"That'd be funny!" I heard Clayton giggle. 
"Don't get any ideas!" I shouted as I went for my phone. I was going to call this local pizza shop down on the lake and just take the boat. I wanted to get the boat ride out of the way but wouldn't think it would be fair to Lincoln and his friends. Plus, the shop wasn't open anyways. They were shut down for the winter season, which meant I was ordering from dominos. In total, I got 5 pizzas all with different toppings. It should be plenty to feed everyone and possibly have leftovers.
So with the pizza ordered I went upstairs and was on my way to my room. 
"Mr. Garret?" 
"Yeah Lincoln? I mean Logan," I chuckled as I tousled his hair. "Sorry bud, use to Lincoln calling me from that direction. Oh, and please just call me Garret." 
"My momma says it's not polite to call adults by their first name." 
"Well in most cases, yes, but don't think of me as an adult, I'm just your friend. You don't call your friends Mr!" 
"Oh, okay!" Logan smiled as he only had his head peeking around the door
"So what's up?" 
"I don't know how to umm... can you show me how to turn the shower on?" 
"Oh yeah, of course. I always hate figuring that out." 
"It's not like mine," Logan said as he opened the door. He was only wearing white briefs and didn't attempt to cover himself up. 
He was pretty relaxed for just wearing his underwear, and we strolled into the bathroom, "I think they should all be the same." 
"Alright, so this lever starts the water, and the one behind it controls the temperature, okay?" I said as I turned everything on. "Now to get the shower head to turn on, you pull both levers out." 
"Oh! I just have to step on a mine," Logan said. 
"Yeah they are all weird, but you need anything else? Towel?" 
"Alright, enjoy," I said. 
"Thanks," Logan stated and began pulling his underwear down before I could even shut the door entirely. 
"No problem," I answered as I basically got a full view of his backside. Now I'm used to my four boys not caring about being seen, but honestly, I was surprised to see what little level of modesty the boy showed. I don't even think he locked the door after I shut it. Anyone could just prance right in and get a full view on Logan. But to make sure that didn't happen, I closed the door to Lincoln's room as I walked over to my bedroom. 
I guess I was just a bit baffled, but what I wasn't baffled by, was Ryker laying in his birthday suit on my bed watching tv. 
"What are you doing!" I joked as I shut my door. 
"I'm gonna start calling you NB!" 
"Naked boy," I answered. 
"Oh," Ryker giggled. 
"For one, clothes, where are they? Two, why aren't you in the shower yet? Your buddies are getting theirs." 
"Clayton said he had to poop. And I'm not showering when Clayton has to go! He's deadly!" 
"Well, I don't blame you there," I chuckled as I scooted Ryker over to sit next to him.
"Yeah!" He said and leaned into my side as I wrapped my right arm behind him. 
"What are you watching?" I inquired. 
"I don't really know, I just turned it on." 
"Ah, gotcha ya." 
"Yeah," Ryker said and paused, "umm I'm-I'm sorry I didn't score like I said I would." 
"Hey, it's your first game. I thought you played pretty awesome. You just played against a really good team." 
"But I really wanted to score." 
"I sure hope you want to score, means your hungry! But if you don't, it's okay. I'm proud of you no matter what, so don't beat yourself up. You've got plenty of games to score." 
"Did you have fun?" 
"Yes! This whole day has been like so epic!" Ryker said as he looked up at me. 
"Well, we got a long day to go," I replied and kissed his forehead. 
"Yeah... love you, Garret!" 
"Love you too, NB," I said and tickled his ribs. 
"I don't like that nickname," Ryker laughed as he tried to squirm away. 
"Better start wearing clothes then!" 
"Never!" Ryker replied as he broke free while laughing his butt off and started to roll off the bed to escape. 
"I'm done pooping!" Hollered Clayton from the bathroom which caused Ryker and me to start laughing. 
"How bad does it stink?" Yelled Ryker. 
"I don't know!" 
"Alright," I chuckled. "Bud, you actually have to get showered. They are going to be done soon." 
"I know, I'm going." 
"And can you help your brother out? Just doesn't want to get shampoo in his eyes." 
"I will." 
"Thanks, I'll be downstairs." 
"Okay," Ryker said as he walked in towards the bathroom. "Eww Clayton!" 
"Hehehe," I heard Clay mischievously laugh as I went back downstairs.
Around 12:30, the boys started showing up in the family room waiting for one another. Jacob was first to arrive wearing a hoodie and sweatpants. 
"You cold?" I asked as my boy came to sit in my lap. 
"Kinda," he shrugged. "I just don't have a shirt underneath." 
"Well, that's okay, as long as you're comfortable." 
"I am," Jacob responded as his body leaned more into mine. 
"Good, so where is everyone else?" 
"I don't know, I think-"
"Where should I put the wet towel?" Dylan asked which cut Jacob off. 
"You can just set it on the back of a kitchen chair, bud." 
"Okay," Dylan answered as he set the towel down and then joined us on the couch. He was wearing just shorts and a T-shirt. 
"You tired at all?" I asked both boys. 
"No, I'm just cold," Dylan replied. 
"Is it that cold in here?" I questioned. 
"I don't know, I'm getting warmer," Jacob answered. 
"I think you guys just need to adjust after the warm showers. If not, then I don't think we can go for any boat ride today. It's supposed to only reach 52 outside." 
"I'll be warm by then," Dylan quickly added which caused me to laugh. 
"Is the pizza almost here?" Ryker asked as he entered the room with Logan. 
"Should be," I assured him. 
"I'm starving," Ryker announced as he sat down next to me. He was only wearing his athletic shorts and no shirt. I guess he was the only one who wasn't cold.
"Same." Agreed most of the boys. 
"Ryker, where is Clayton?" I asked. 
"Upstairs, why?" 
"What's he doing?" 
"I don't know." 
"Oh boy," I answered. "Alright kiddo, time to get up. I need to see what kind of mess your little brother is causing." 
"Garret, can we go to the basement?"
"Of course." 
"Let's go, guys," Ryker stated, and the four of them stood up. As I went up the steps, they were heading down the other set of stairs to the basement. However, once I reached the top, I heard some video game sounds. After making sure he was okay, I got him ready and went downstairs. Once the pizza arrived, the day kinda flew by. 
Lincoln and max returned just as the boys finished off the first box. Carter and Devin weren't far behind. So once everyone was fed, they went their separate ways for a little while. Lincoln and his group went upstairs to play which allowed Ryker and company to head downstairs. However, I believe they all ended up in the basement for a knee hockey tournament. 
Around 6 o'clock, the boys were getting hungry again, and another pizza wasn't an option. Well, I'm sure the boys would have eaten more pizza, but I didn't want the same thing. I proposed an idea because they were begging me to go in the boat, but also in the hot tub. 
To make things easy, I decided to make dinner and the boat ride together. We were going to this little place called the shack. They served bar food, but it was good. Plus it was about a 15-20 minute boat ride there and back. So I told them all to go out their swimming suits on, sweat pants, and a hoodie. I was bringing some extra blankets too, so no one should be too cold. 
About 5 minutes later, everyone was ready to go, and we went down to the dock. I informed them that they all need life jackets before hopping on, and no one protested. After that, we loaded into the Mastercraft. 
I could easily tell that Jacob still wasn't too sure about the boat and the lake. As all the other boys ran up to the front and took the spot behind me.  The bow of the boat was packed pretty tight, but it was so cute to see. Clayton had jumped in Dylan's lap, and the two shared a blanket. Lincoln and Logan were together under one, while Ryker shared with Devin. Max and Carter got the last one, but I also tossed a big blanket down over everyone too. 
"Jake, we can make room up here," Ryker hollered as the boat began to lower. 
"Yeah come up here," Max answered. 
"I'm okay." 
"You sure kiddo," I asked as I started the boat.
"Alright," I answered as I turned in music and through the boat into reverse. After backing away from the dock, I honestly got a grasp of how chilly it was out in the open. I immediately kicked on the heaters and heated seats knowing the boys wouldn't last up front. Then again, they are all so close and sharing multiple blankets.
As I shifted the throttle into forward, I had Jacob poking my back, "Can I umm, sit with you?" 
"Absolutely! You'll be co-captain." 
"Okay!" Jacob answered. 
"You cold again?" 
"No, not really." 
"Oh, okay." 
"Yeah I just like sitting here," Jacob stated as he nuzzled into me more. "You're comfy." 
"Well, I'm happy I can appease you," I joked and poked his rib which caused him to giggle. 
"Can I tell you a secret?" Jacob said as he looked up at me. 
"Of course." 
"I'm... I'm still scared of the water." He quickly whispered. "Especially when we are in the boat." 
"Hmm, why is that?" I inquired as I turned the music up a notch and picked up a bit of speed. 
"I'm afraid of falling in." 
"Oh, I see... you know your life jacket would save you though, remember we tested it!" 
"But this is a different one than last time, what if it doesn't work." 
" I promise you that it would work. But it's okay to be scared of the lake, however, you know I wouldn't let anything happen to you." 
"I... I know, I just don't like it." 
"Well hopefully that will change over time, but if it doesn't, you'll always be my co-captain here," I replied and kissed his forehead.
"You're not mad?" 
"Nah, not at all. I'm glad you told me! I know we already talked about this the last time we were boating, but we are definitely going to get comfortable in the pool before doing any big transition to the lake again." 
"Yeah! If-if I can like learn to swim, it won't be scary no more." 
"I told ya, we would work on it." 
"I thought you were kidding." 
"No bud!" 
"Only in the shallow end, right?" 
"To start... yes." 
"Okay," Jacob replied and exhaled deeply. "I want to learn." 
 "Well, it looks like we found our spring and summer plans for me and you!" 
"Kay," Jacob answered as he closed his eyes and rested his head against my chest. It was amazing to see how far this boy had come in terms of mine and his relationship. It started out hesitant, timid, and shy, but now we have grown on trust and love. I know I still haven't fully broken through his emotional wall. However, his guard is coming down. I mean he was skittish of touch, but now he is sitting on my lap, and tucked as close to me as possible. A few seconds passed before Jacob said, "love you, Garret."
I took my hands off the wheel and wrapped him in a big hug before kissing the top of his head. "Love you too buddy, so so so so much!" 
"Can we go faster?" Clayton yelled over the music. 
"Yeah," echoed the boys up front. 
"It's gonna be cold," I shouted in return. 
"We wanna go fast!" Dylan shouted. 
"Alright," I answered and dropped the throttle about 3/4 of the way down. It took only a few seconds to shoot up to 25 then 30 and finally cruising speed at 33. The blankets, thankfully, did not fly away as the boys in the front held on to them. Jacob was giggling away as he watched from behind the windshield. 
From this point, the night really flew by. The boys and I ate burgers and hot-dogs as we watched the CBJ game at the Shack. Once everyone ate, we went back to the house where the boys stripped down to their swimsuits and jumped in the hot tub. 
They weren't in there for long, as the idea of knee hockey tournament came up. I don't even believe they even changed out the swimsuits before heading downstairs. After gathering all the clothes and shutting down the outside area, I took a gander downstairs to see how everyone was doing. 
The teams were Lincoln, Devin, Dylan, and Jacob Vs. Max, Carter, Ryker, and Logan. Clayton, well he was on Lincoln's side, didn't really do much as he was too little. Actually, he needed to go to bed before too long, so I let him play one game, and then took him upstairs. 
It was around 10:30 and I thought Clayton would put up a bigger fuss about not being with the boys downstairs, but he didn't. It showed me how tired he was, and to be honest so was I. I wouldn't have mind falling asleep with him, but I couldn't yet. 
Once he was down for the count, I made my way back to the basement and told the boys that it was their final game before they had to settle down. I genuinely don't think they minded as they were quite tired themselves. After they finished the last game, it was time to put on a movie for everyone. 
All the boys went and grabbed their bags and got into their sleeping clothes. Which for some were just underwear, while others had PJ bottoms and t-shirts. Lincoln, Ryker, Carter, Max, and Dylan were among those that appreciated the lesser clothes while sleeping. Either way, they all settled in various spots, with some on the couches and some on the floor. 
They picked a movie called Goosebumps that starred Jack Black. I wasn't totally sure if this was a great idea, but it couldn't have been too scary. Anyway, once it started, I said goodnight to all the boys. Before I entirely making it upstairs, Lincoln ran up and gave me a hug and said he loved me. 
With everyone occupied and under control, I made it to my room where I jumped in the shower before resting my head on the pillow. 
I thought I was in the clear for the night, but around 1 in the morning, I felt a tap on my chest. 
"Garret... Garret," Ryker whispered and tapped my chest again. 
"What up buddy?" I said as I woke up to see him and Dylan standing together. "Is something wrong?" 
"Dylan, umm-Dylan... said he umm... wants to go home." 
"Oh," I said as I was still adjusting to the scenario. "Umm, what's up kiddo." 
"I... I just wanna go home." 
"Why?" I inquired, "did someone say something to you? Or someone being mean?" 
"No," Dylan answered as he twiddled his fingers. "No one else is awake, and-and I don't like to be the last one." 
"Well, Ryker is awake and-." 
"Barely," Ryker chimed as he climbed up into my bed and collapsed on my lap. 
"Well Ryker is somewhat awake and so am I," I said again. 
"I'll tell you what Dylan, you go put on some shorts, and meet Ryker and me in his room," I suggested as I had just dealt with something similar over Easter with Lincoln.
"But why?" 
"I'm gonna put on a movie for you us, and if you aren't asleep by the end of the movie, we will call your mom and dad to pick you up. Sound like a plan?" 
"Are-are you and Ryker saying up too?" Dylan looked with a puzzled face. 
"I don't know about this goof," I replied as I ran my fingers through Ryker's hair. "But I won't fall asleep till you do." 
"We are?" Ryker asked as he picked his head up and gave me a confused look. I was pretty sure he was asleep before coming upstairs, but Dylan probably woke him.
"Yeah," I answered and ruffled his hair. 
"Oh," Ryker said and collapsed his head back into me.
"Okay! I have to go pee!" Dylan stated and went for the bathroom in Ryker's room.
"Are-are- do I really have to stay up?" 
"No," I replied as I put my hands under Ryker's arm to pull towards me. "But we are going to go lay down and put on a movie together," I said as I got my feet on the ground and lifted myself and Ryker up. 
Ryker wrapped his legs behind me, and yawned, "okay." 
"Let's go to your room bud, and you can fall back asleep." 
Ryker just shook his head in agreement. We met Dylan in Ryker's room where I was laying on the outside, Ryker was in the middle, which meant Dylan was to be on the other side of Ryker. He had grabbed his shorts and crawled in under the covers. Ryker was basically sleeping as he curled up next to me, with his head resting on my arm. 
"I think Ryker is sleeping," Dylan mentioned as he got comfortable.
"I'm... I'm... not," Ryker mumbled. 
"It's okay if he does," I chuckled as I scrolled through movies on Netflix. "Alright, let's put on umm... Lego movie?" 
"Yeah, okay," Dylan responded. 
"Uh huh," Ryker said. 
"Lego movie it is," I stated. Ryker was asleep before the opening scene even ended. I was hoping Dylan would too, but he was holding steady. 
Every so often he would look in my direction to see if I was sleeping. It was funny to watch him as I acted like I didn't notice. But every time he saw I was still awake, he seemed more comfortable and started to close his eyes. Luckily around 1:45, Dylan finally drifted off, and I was able to do the same as I went back to my room. 

Part - 2

Sunday Morning started off pretty routinely. I was up around 8:30 and turned on the tv to watch ESPN. I wasn't sure when to expect the boys, but I figured I start prepping breakfast for them. Nothing fancy, or nothing close to a Rita breakfast, but I was preparing scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast for everyone. 
It was around 9 when the first kid arrived. To my surprise, it was Dylan as he entered the kitchen rubbing his eyes. 
"Morning bud," I said as I cracked an egg into a bowl. 
"How'd you sleep?" 
"Good," Dylan replied and walked over to me. "Thanks, for uh... stayin' up with me." 
"Nah don't mention it!" 
"Okay," Dylan said and gave me a quick hug. 
"Well, thanks bud, you interested in making breakfast with me?" 
"Alright grab a chair, and start cracking open some eggs."
"Okay," Dylan answered as he walked over and dragged the chair across the floor. Now if those in the basement weren't awake, I'm sure they were now. It sounded like a freight train as he dragged it across the floor. 
I didn't do anything besides chuckle, as the chair came to a stop at the bowl. "Here you go, and you can put the cracked eggs in this bowl right here." 
"Okay," Dylan said. 
"So! How you liking your new school, you moved here at the beginning of the school year right?" 
"You like it?" 
"Uh huh." 
"Miss anything from where you use to live?" 
"Umm," Dylan thought. "No-no not really." 
"Not even friends." 
"I umm... I didn't have really any friends." 
"Oh," I said and paused for a moment. "Well, I'm sorry bud." 
"It's okay. People sorta made fun of me." 
"For what?" 
"I umm use to have like really really long hair. And people would call me a girl and like older kids in school would always joke that they umm... would like to cut my hair off and stupid stuff. Some people thought I was a girl because I have a twin sister." 
"I'm sorry bud, that's never fun to deal with."
"Yeah... some would even like umm... like pull my pants down to see if I had like umm... you know," Dylan said as he leaned toward me then whispered, "guy parts," and then pointed down to his shorts.
"Which I have."
"Never assumed you didn't," I chuckled. 
"Yeah, people were like stupid."
"Is that why you have short hair now?" 
"Uh huh. I kinda miss it though." 
"Why not grow it back out?" 
"Because I don't want to be made fun of again." 
"Well, I'll give you a piece of advice and then we can move on," I stated. "If you like something, you should do it. Who cares what others think about you. As long as you have people to care, you shouldn't be concerned with those who try to bring you down. If you want to grow your hair out, do it! I know Logan or Jacob wouldn't treat you any different." 
"Yeah but ever since I got here, I've had short hair. And I've made lots of friends." 
"Well, hopefully, it's not the haircut that got your friends," I chuckled. "I just think you're a nice kid and friendly towards others." 
"Hey," Lincoln said as he came up from the basement. 
"Morning," I replied to the sleepy boy who was still rubbing his eyes. "How'd you sleep." 
"Good," Lincoln answered as he made his way over to me. "But I woke up and Logan was using me as a pillow." 
"Better than waking up and seeing his feet in your face." 
"Well yeah, but like I just didn't know it was him at first. Was kind of awkward." 
"I'm sure he didn't mean to. I just think It means you're a comfortable pillow," I joked. 
"You're comfortabler," Lincoln struggled to say as he wrapped his arms around me. 
"Can't argue that," I chuckled and then kiss the top of his head. "Love ya bud." 
"Love you." 
"Now, go put some shorts on. We don't need you running around naked." 
"He's not naked," giggled Dylan. 
"See!" Lincoln added. "I'm dressed fine." 
"I know." 
"And brush your teeth." 
"I will," Lincoln hollered as he made his way upstairs to his room. 
"I'm not allowed to walk around naked either," Dylan spoke. "Mom says I shouldn't." 
"Ehh, it's probably for the best," I remarked as I wanted to move on from the conversation. "How are the eggs coming along?" 
"Good," Dylan answered. From this point the morning moved pretty quick. All the boys were awake and coming up to the kitchen. The topic of conversation was the movie they watched last night. From their comments, it was funny and scary, so it sounded like a good choice. 
After everyone had breakfast, the boys were off to do what they wanted. Parents were picking up their kids at different times throughout the day, so it gave the boys some extra time for video games and knee hockey. They wanted to go in the hot tub again, but I thought it wasn't enough time. So instead we went out for another quick boat ride around the lake. It was definitely chilly, but they didn't care. Jacob was still unsure of the whole boat thing and sat close to me the entire time. 
Once we were finished being out on the water, parents soon started arriving. Carter's mother was the first to pick up her son, but she was quickly followed by Logan's mom. It was hilarious to see Logan chatting his mother's ear off about how much fun he had on the boat. I'm sure he would be back, that is if Ryker wants him back. Although that shouldn't be an issue, they all got along well. After Logan left, Devin's mother came and chatted before leaving with her son.
This left Max and Dylan to be picked up last. They didn't care as they went back downstairs to play video games while they waited for Todd. Around this time, I went over to the family room and relaxed on the couch to watch some TV. I had just pulled a blanket out when I heard the basement door open. Clayton had wandered back up the steps. 
"Hey, lil bear," I said as he walked over. "Why aren't you downstairs?" 
"It's boring, they aren't letting me play anything." 
"What are they playing?" 
"Playing umm... umm Minecraft." 
"Hmm," I said as Clayton climbed his way to sitting in my lap. "Do you want to play?" 
"No, not really." 
"Well, what do you want to do?" 
"I don't know." 
"Not making it easy on me," I joked and poked his belly. 
"That tickles." Clayton giggled as he got comfortable. 
"That's the point! So do you want to head outside? Play catch or something?" 
"Yeah you know... like throw a ball around. Or we could pass a soccer ball back and forth." 
"What about hockey?"
"Hmm, you know what. That's a good idea, but we don't have any of the sticks or nets to shoot in.... so you know what the means." 
"We can't do it?" 
"No," I chuckled. "After Dylan and Max leave, we are heading to the sporting goods store." 
"For what?" Clayton said in his high pitched voice. 
"For some street hockey equipment, like to practice and stuff." 
"Okay! I... I need to go get my shoes!" 
"Well not yet, let's wait till Max and Dylan leave." 
"Can we still go outside?" 
"Of course," I said, but then the doorbell rang. "Well let me answer the door first, but go grab your shoes." 
"Okay!" Clayton responded as we both got up. I went to the door, as he went up the steps. As expected it was Todd, here to pick up his boys. 
"Afternoon Todd," I said as I opened the door.
"Hey, how'd everything go?" 
"It went well! Boys had a lot of fun out on the boat, watched a movie, played some video games. Typical boy stuff, I think the soccer games knocked them out though. Didn't hear much after 11:30 but there is one thing I should mention to you." 
"Yeah," I said as I stepped outside and shut the door. "Last night, Dylan came upstairs with Ryker around 1. He said he wanted to call you to come pick him up because he couldn't fall asleep or something. It wasn't a big deal, and I think he was scared about being the last one awake. So after they woke me up, I gave him a quick option instead of calling you guys. He seemed surprised, but it ended up working out. Ryker, Dylan, and I went to Ryker's room and put on another movie that I hoped would put him to sleep. If he didn't then, I was going to call you guys to pick him up, but he ended up passing out like 30 minutes in." 
"You stayed up with him?"
"Yeah, feeling it this morning," I chuckled. 
"You didn't have to do that, we would have picked him up!" 
"I know! I just thought it would be a good idea to try and get him to fall asleep here." 
"I mean next time would you like to be called? I don't have a problem with either or." 
"No... no, I'm just surprised. A lot of people today, wouldn't want to deal with that."
"What do you mean?" 
"Well this happened to Max before we moved and the parents were pissed. Just utterly pissed that he was scared and woke them up. I mean I honestly wanted to punch the father, he was a fucking prick. It was just a bad experience and Max was never invited back again for another sleepover. So for the better, we stopped associating with the family. When you first started telling me about Dylan, I started to worry.  Thought we were about to end up in the same situation, so I mean, it's kind of mind easing... I mean relieving, knowing that you'll actually help or go the extra step to make my child feel welcomed. It's not a common thing anymore, you know that? Most people would be too afraid to even approach a situation like that. But I appreciate it, it's umm a nice feeling, and thank you."
"Honestly, I didn't really think anything of it." I chuckled, "actually this morning he was in the kitchen helping me cook eggs as the others slept! So he was helpful, glad we could make something work." 
"I'm sure he talked your ear off." 
"Nah he was fine!" I replied as I didn't want to bring up the bullying. I'm sure Todd knew, it just wasn't my place to ask. 
"Garret?" Clayton said as he opened the door and saw Todd, "oh... hi!"
"Hey Clay," Todd began. "Saw you score a few goals yesterday, did you have fun?" 
"Yeah! But... but- I like, I like hockey more." 
"You like being in the cold?" Todd gasped.
"Uh huh," Clayton replied as I picked him up. 
"You crazy!" 
"I'm not!" Clayton giggled. 
"I'm just messing around, you any good?" 
"He actually is," I spoke. "He caught on pretty quick, which isn't too common for someone his age. We are about to head out to grab some street hockey equipment for him to practice." 
"Well, in that case, I'll grab the kids and get out of your hair!" 
"Oh, no rush." 
"Unfortunately I have to be in a little one. Kelsey had her ballet friend stay over at our house, and they have a recital to go to soon. So everybody is tagging along for that." 
"That should be fun," I replied as I opened the door for us. We chatted more about ballet as we went to the basement door where Todd hollered for his kids to come up. It didn't take long for everyone to come rushing up the steps. 
Soon the kids were saying their goodbyes and thanks, which just left my boys and me to pile into the SUV. But before we went to the sporting goods store, we decided to go grab something to eat. It was an early dinner, so we'd probably be due for a snack before bed. Nevertheless, we went to Olive Garden for some food. The boys especially Clayton did not grasp the concept of unlimited salad and breadsticks, as they were shocked every time the waitress brought out new bowls. 
Once our early dinner was made, we went to the store. It was all go good until little Clayton had to speak up to the person behind in the line. We had grabbed sticks, roller blades, hockey nets, and even grabbed some cones to practice both soccer and hockey. So you get the picture...  a lot of items that had to be rung up. Well, they only had one cash register open, and the boys and I beat the gentleman that stood behind us in the line. Oh, how I wished I had let him go first, and I could have avoided the whole situation. 
The boys were all picking out a piece of candy as I was starting to unload the items for the cashier to ring in. Clayton was toward the back, and he pulled on the gentleman's coat. 
"Hey mister," Clayton began which caught my attention as I looked up. "How come you got so many bug bites on your face?" 
"I'm sorry," the man returned. 
Before I could stop Clayton, he spoke again, "you got a lot of bug bites on your face, you go in the woods?" 
"Oh my," I said as Clayton was referring to man's acne covered face. I almost tripped heading to get Clayton before he could say anything else. Meanwhile. Lincoln and Ryker were laughing at me trying to get to Clayton. "I'm-"
"They aren't bug bites," the man replied in a dull tone. 
"They look like bug bites!" Clayton giggled. 
"Clayton," I stated as I reached out for him. 
"If they aren't bug bites what are they?" 
"I'm so sorry," I answered as I lifted Clayton into my arms and away from the man. 
"What did I do?" Clayton asked. 
"Just... just please be quiet for a moment," I said as I turned back to the cashier who was barely holding a straight face. I didn't really know what to say besides nothing at all. So as the cashier finished up, which took about 5 minutes. I quickly said thank you and once again apologized before heading out to the car, where I told Clayton what the so-called bug bites really were.  It took a few attempts to explain, but after our conversation, he understood. 
Once we got home, it was a bit too late to set anything up and practice, so the boys all went their separate ways. For me, I had about an hour conversation with Jordan which was nice. I managed to convince her to come over tomorrow and spend some time together before the crazy week that laid ahead. Then again I still have to talk to Lincoln about his behavior towards her. I can understand him being wary and jealous, for lack of better words. However, that gave him no right to be rude and not participate in the conversation. That being said, if interactions between them don't improve, I do fear I would have to pick one or the other, it wouldn't be fair for Jordan.  Anyway, I'm getting too far ahead. I spent about another hour talking with my mother and then with Lucas. 
I had just got off the phone when Lincoln had entered the family room and sat next to me. 
"I got a question." 
"Okay," I said as I wrapped my arm around him and started scratching his side. 
"Can Christian sleepover tomorrow?" 
"I mean I'm okay with it, as long as Christian doesn't have school and aunt Kelly is okay with it." 
"He doesn't have school." 
"How do you know?" 
"I'm on FaceTime with him on my computer." 
"Hmm," I responded. "You FaceTime each other a lot?" 
"No. like once... once a day, I think." 
"You FaceTime Christian once a day?" I replied somewhat shocked. "When did that start?" 
"Like last week before Easter." 
"So wait you've been on FaceTime with Christian almost every day?" 
"Well not yesterday, but yeah. Why?" 
"I'm just surprised, thought I would have known about that. I mean it's not a big deal, glad you guys talk so much." 
"I try to FaceTime Lucas too, but he doesn't really answer much." 
"Yeah, but can Christian stay over?" 
"Umm sure." 
"Okay! Thanks." 
"Hold on, I need to talk to you," I said as I prevented him from getting up. 
"But Christian is waiting for me to tell him yes." 
"Alright," I said as I looked at my watch. "You get 5 more minutes of FaceTime, then we have to chat." 
"Okay!" Lincoln replied as he raced to get upstairs. "Adrian is coming too." 
"What?" I hollered back but didn't get a response. Instead of chasing down Lincoln and asking what he said, I went straight to Kelly to ask her what was going on. Once she picked up, she told Christian planned on having Adrian stay over, but had no idea about the two sleeping over at my house. Then, I heard Christian yelling for Kelly through the phone, and soon heard him explaining the plan. About a minute later, Kelly was back on the phone confirming what I said to her. As long as Adrian's family was okay with it, so were Kelly and I.
It only took a few short minutes before I heard footsteps coming down the steps. Lincoln had returned and was in a cheerful mood. 
"Christian and Adrian are coming!" Lincoln spoke as he sat down beside me again. 
"So I've heard," I replied. "Just have to make sure Adrian's parents are okay with it." 
"Christian said it was cool, so I think he is coming." 
"Yeah, I'm excited," Lincoln spoke. "What did you wanna talk about with me?" 
"Well, a few things." 
"Am I in trouble," Lincoln said which cut me off. 
"Umm not in trouble," I stated. "Okay, well first. Tomorrow Jordan is coming over too. I think it's supposed to be nice out. So maybe we can do something on the boat with everyone." 
"Why is she coming over?" 
"Because I invited her." 
"Why though?" 
"Because I like to see her and get to know her more." 
"Does she have to come though, can't it just be us?" 
"It can, but it would be rude of me to revoke on the invitation. More importantly, I don't really want that, bud." I said, "why do you not want her to come over?" 
"I don't know, I just don't like her." 
"Any particular reason why?"
"No," Lincoln answered as he lowered his head. 
"Hmm... I'm a little bit confused to why you don't like her." 
"I... I just don't like her." 
I paused before answering, "bud if you don't have a reason to not like her, then I can't see your point of view." 
"I don't want to lose you!" Lincoln quickly said. 
"Bud," I spoke, "you know you don't ever have to worry about that. You and your brothers are my number one priority. We've been over this." 
"I know, but you're... you're still... like, being with her." 
"Do you want me to stop seeing Jordan?" I replied in a half shocked tone. 
"Would... would you be mad at me if I said yes?" 
"Mad? No. Frustrated? A little. I just don't really understand bud. She hasn't been mean to you or anything, and I do get that you'll feel like we spend less time together. But Jordan knows that you guys come first. We've talked about it, and she doesn't have an issue with that." 
"She doesn't?" 
"No," I returned. "She knows that you'll always come first in my life bud."
Lincoln remained silent as he thought, but then asked, "why do you like her?" 
"A few reasons bud! She makes me happy when I'm around her-"
"We don't make you happy?" 
"Really? Come on, Lincoln. You know the answer to that one. Of course, I am happy with you and your brothers!" 
"Then why can you just be happy with us!" 
"It's difficult to describe kiddo. Umm, hmm," I said as I was trying to explain it. "Okay, the easiest way to explain it for me is, if it was just your brother, you, and me for the rest of our lives. I would be 100% okay with that. You boys make me so happy to have you around, but with Jordan, it's a bit different. She makes me happy in other ways that you and your brothers can't yet. For example, I like to have a glass of wine, and I can share that with Jordan or talk about adult topics that at your age, would find boring. I'm... I'm not making any sense am I?" 
"No," Lincoln replied and shook his head. 
"At some point in your life you'll get what I mean, I promise that!" 
"Do you want me to not see her anymore bud?" I asked once more. 
"No," Lincoln quietly said. "I just don't want to lose you." 
"I'm not going anywhere." 
"I know." 
"I hope you do. You mean everything to me!" I stated. "But we still need to discuss a few more things." 
"Like what?" 
"Well, it's about Jordan still, okay?" 
"Fine," Lincoln replied as he now scooted towards the other end of the couch to show his displeasure with me.  
"Last time she was here with us, you know at dinner. You were quite rude bud. Now I know you don't like Jordan at the moment, but it doesn't mean you have to be rude." 
"How was I rude?" 
"When she would ask a question that was directed to you. You would give a short one-word reply with some attitude." 
"Nut uh." 
"I did not Garret!" 
"Bud... listen to me! You're not in trouble, but if you keep it up, you will be. I'm simply stating that you can't be rude to others. You know what I am talking about too, I'm just asking for you to be polite and talk with her. You may end up liking Jordan, but you won't ever know until you give her a chance." 
"Are we done yet?" Lincoln replied in a dull tone. "I want to leave."
"No, we are not done." 
"What else do we need to talk about?" 
I took a deep breath before speaking, "I would like to continue what we are discussing, but it seems you want to move on. So yesterday at the soccer fields yesterday, when you hit your brother-" 
"Fine... Flicked your brother," I said. "You know you can't do that." 
"I know, we talked about it yesterday!" 
"I know we did, I just think it's important to go over it again," I returned. 
"Do we have to garret? I know I'm the oldest and I have to set an example, I just forgot and did it accidentally." 
"Alright," I answered as I sensed he didn't really want to be in my presence. "You can head upstairs." 
"Okay, bye, love you!" Lincoln said as he got up to go upstairs. 
"Love you too," I replied as I turned my attention back to the tv. I was a bit frustrated that Lincoln was giving me some attitude. On the other side, I also felt for him. I knew I was the one who put him into that bad mood. I knew I was the one he was frustrated with, but it's just something he will have to overcome. The rest of the night was ordinary, as we didn't do much family time. The boys were busy doing whatever they were doing, and I was watching some tv. I was joined by Clayton and Ryker who snuggled with me, but they didn't last long as they both fell asleep. 
Around 10, I carried them both to bed and checked on everyone else. Lincoln was still in a mood as he was writing in his journal, and Jacob was laying on his bed waiting to be tucked in.  Before long everyone was asleep and I was too. 

Part - 3

Monday, April 4th, 2016
It was morning, around 9:30 and everybody was up and moving. I had given Rita the day off since the boys didn't have school or any real plans. Even Jacob and Lincoln's therapy appointment were not scheduled. It's supposed to be a total day of relaxation! Or so that's how it's planned, fingers crossed that it does go well. We were piling in the SUV to go pick-up Christian and Adrian. Kelly was supposed to bring them up, but I mentioned meeting halfway for brunch so that she wouldn't miss too much work. As she told me on the phone last night, she is so close to working for the HLRJC foundation as her final child she matched seems to be doing well in their environment.
Anyhow, we packed into the SUV and drove to the restaurant. It was a quick drive as Clayton kept everybody entertained with his unique comments and questions. We even played a few rounds of "I Spy" to pass the time. Once we arrived, we had beaten Kelly and company to our destination. 
It wasn't long until they showed, we first saw Christian enter the room followed by Adrian. Upon first glance, Adrian was a cute boy. He has longer brown hair, which was pushed to the side, which reminded me of an early Justin Bieber style. Adrian's about the same height as Christian... maybe an inch shorter and probably close to the same weight. His eyes are soft with some hazel coloring. 
"Christian!" Clayton yelled and ran over to give his cousin a hug. 
"Hi Clay!" Christian responded and bent down to be level with Clayton. At this point, we all stood up to greet one another. "Everybody, this is my bo... umm this is my friend Adrian. Adrian this is Lincoln! That's Ryker, he is Jacob, and this one is Clayton." 
"Its Clay!" 
"See I'm not the only one to do it," I chuckled. 
"Hi," Adrian shyly acknowledged. 
"And this is my Uncle G." 
"Hi, umm-" 
"You can call me Mr. Hamel," I suggested as I figured he was trying to figure out what to call me. Meanwhile, the boys all looked at me, wondering why I said, Mr. Hamel instead Garret. 
"Okay, umm. Thanks for letting me stay overnight, Mr. Hamel." 
"Oh no problem, it's a pleasure to meet you, Adrian," I replied as I shook his hand in a firm grip. 
"Okay, I have to go to the restroom, before I sit down," Kelly announced. 
"I have to go too!" Clayton said. 
"Let's go then!" Kelly chuckled as she took hold of Clayton's hand.
"We using the girls' restroom." 
"Yup," Kelly answered which caused Clayton to giggle as they left. 
"Alright everyone find a spot," I spoke to the group, and everyone walked back over to the table.
"Dude," I heard Adrian whisper over to Christian. "Your cousins are like... kind of hot." 
"Don't need to remind me," Christian returned as we took our seats. 
"I think we are going out in the boat," Lincoln said. 
"Did you bring a swimsuit, Adrian?" I asked 
"No, I didn't know I was supposed to." 
"Dude, I texted you too!" Christian added
"Oh, my bad." 
"It's okay," I chuckled. "I'm sure we can make something work." 
"You can just use your underwear," Ryker spoke. 
"You don't wanna do that," I laughed. 
"Why?" Jacob inquired. 
"Because you'll end up losing them in the water! Just ask Christian!" 
"Uncle G!" 
"I mean it's true! I'm sure they are floating somewhere at the bottom." 
"What happened?" Lincoln asked. 
"Uhh, I hate this story! It's so embarrassing!" Christian said. "I went tubing last year or maybe the year before with Lucas. I didn't have a swimsuit and Uncle G didn't have one that fit either, so I just used my underwear. I got tossed off and landed in the water. But I sorta fell awkwardly, and the impact pulled my underwear off. It was so embarrassing because I think I like skipped on the water, and everybody saw me." 
"It was quite hilarious," I added. 
"How did you get back on the boat?" Ryker questioned.
"Uncle G threw me a towel, and I had to ride the whole way to shore with a towel wrapped around my waist." 
"In all fairness, you're not the first person I've caused to lose their shorts while tubing." 
"You're just mean when you drive." 
"I bet you can't throw me off," Ryker mocked me. 
"Oh you wait," I laughed. 
"Isn't the water gonna be too cold?" Lincoln inquired.
"Yeah, but wetsuits should work for you. Actually, you could use your underwear, Adrian, if you use a wetsuit." 
"I only brought one pair," responded Adrian, which made Christian smirk. 
"We can figure something out." 
"You can go with no clothes like we do?" Jacob said. 
"Like with nothing on at all?" Adrian worried. 
"I think he means in the wetsuit," Lincoln added. 
"Oh okay..." 
"Do we have a wetsuit that fits.?" Christian asked. 
"We should, I think we have yours and possibly Lucas's. We will figure it out." I said. 
"So, what are we talking about," Kelly said as she and Clayton walked back out. 
"Too many things," commented Ryker which made me laugh. 
"When Christian lost his underwear while tubing," Adrian added, which caused him to receive a gut punch from Christian. 
"Oh that was so funny, his little butt was flying through the air," Kelly remarked which sent the table into laughter. "All we saw was a white flash."
"You went nakey tubing?" Gasped Clayton as he took a seat next to me. 
"Sure did... I rode the tub all way around the lake with nothing on at all," Christian dramatically and sarcastically responded. 
Wide-eyed, Clayton turned to me, "can-can we do that?"
"Bud... he's joking about riding around," I laughed. "He lost his underwear when he fell off the tube!" 
"Oh," Clayton finally caught on and gave Christian a playful mean look and stuck out his tongue! 
"Hey I mean, you can try it," Christian laughed. "Just let me know how it goes." 
"No! You can't try that'" I quickly shot down the idea. 
To which Clayton giggled, "I wasn't!" 
"Give you ten bucks," Christian added. 
"Alright," I chuckled, "no tubing for Clay!" 
"Christian don't egg him on!" Kelly laughed. 
And Christian joking mouthed the words "ten bucks" to Clayton as the table laughed. At this point, brunch went by pretty quick where it was time to leave. The food was average, but it was a good meeting place for us. With Kelly first to get up and leave for work, we were soon following her lead. However, most of the boys went to use the bathroom before driving back. It left Christian and me a quick second to talk. 
"What's up with the Mr. Hamel stuff?" Christian said as he gave me a hug. 
"Mostly I let people call me Garret-"
"I know." 
"Let me finish!" I chuckled and released his hug. "In this case, as would it be for anyone who is dating my boys, nephews, or nieces will call me Mr. Hamel. I don't want to be on a first name basis with them. It's more important they see me as an adult figure and not a friend! I want to be able to protect you." 
"But Adrian isn't like Austin, I promise." 
"Well I never met Austin, but I'll be the judge of his character." 
"Just don't scare him!
"I wouldn't, and you know that." 
"I know. He is just super nervous." 
"Because he thinks, that no one knows he is... like me." 
"So he is scared to make a mistake or be caught." 
"You tell him, that he doesn't have to hide who he is here?" 
"Why not?"
"I don't know!
"Does he know anything about me or the boys?" 
"No not really," Christian said. 
"Then why is he so nervous!" I chuckled. 
"Because he doesn't know that you know he is gay! I just said that." 
"Okay, I get it. But does he think we are homophobic or something?"
"No... I don't know. He is just afraid that you'll like... judge him." 
"Does he know that I know you are gay?" 
"Alright, well I just want to let you know that this isn't a time for you and him to have... you know... some of your, leg-on-leg time," I laughed. 
"Oh my god, UNCLE G!" 
"Hey, I'm serious though." 
"Please don't embarrass me too." 
"Oh, no guarantees," I laughed. 
"Are we leaving?" Jacob asked as he walked back over to the table and jumped into my arms,
"Yup," I replied as I picked him up and met the others by the front door as they were leaving the bathroom. "Everyone ready?"
"Shotgun!" Christian hollered as we exited the building which caused a mad dash from the others. 
"Be careful!" I hollered as I walked to the car with Jacob in my arm and holding Clayton's hand. 
"Did Christian really lose his underwear in the water?" Questioned Jacob. 
"Yeah, bud." 
"Will that happen to me." 
"Not if you tie your swimming trunks or wearing a wetsuit." 
"Okay good," Jacob replied which seemed like a sigh of relief. 
"You thinking about swimming today?" 
"I am," Clayton giggled!
"I don't know." 
"Well just let me know," I replied as we reached the car. 
"Okay," Jacob replied and kissed my cheek before I set him down on the ground. Somehow Lincoln managed to grab the front seat, which was probably for the best. It let Adrian and Christian sit together with Clayton in the middle row then Ryker and Jacob in the third row. 
We started driving, and Lincoln put on some music. However, I wanted to get to know Adrian some more. So I called his name. 
"Yeah?" He responded quickly. I didn't think he was too comfortable being put on the spot. 
"So I've heard you play baseball, what position you play?" 
"Umm, I... umm sorta-kinda play like three positions." 
"You play hockey?" Clayton asked. 
"What positions you play?" I chuckled at Clayton's question. 
"I usually play shortstop, but sometimes I pitch as well. Then if I pitch in a game, I go to the outfield after." 
"What's your favorite?" Asked Lincoln. 
"I don't really have one." 
"You play soccer?" Clayton asked. 
"Umm no." 
"Christian I thought you played soccer," Ryker said. 
"I do." 
"How'd you meet them." 
"What do you mean?" Adrian quickly responded. 
"We go to the same school!" Christian answered. 
"Ohhhh," Ryker said, and I saw Adrian exhale a deep breath. 
"Garret," Jacob hollered from the back. 
"Yeah, bud?" 
"Can we get ice cream?" 
"Yah can we?" Added Clayton. 
"Umm sure, we will go to the DQ close to home," I stated as we were about 15 minutes away. 
"Ok," I heard from multiple voices. As we continued to drive, the boys kept talking amongst each other. However, Adrian never really seemed comfortable. I just think it was a lot for him to take in. 
Anyhow, after ice cream, we made it back home. Adrian was awestruck by the property which made him even more nervous it seemed. Once inside, the boys ran through giving Adrian a quick tour as I went to check the wetsuit situation. I kept extras for this reason. I just didn't have enough to take all the boys from the previous sleepover out. Although I did have an extra one that would work Adrian. 
After the tour, I sent the boys to go get changed into their gear. It didn't take long before I heard two people coming down the stairs. 
"Dude, you didn't tell me your uncle is like fucking Bill fucking Gates!" Adrian said in a hushed tone that still traveled down the hallway. 
"I didn't think it was important!" 
"I mean it's not, just a lot different than what I'm used to." 
"Neither am I!" 
"But you've been here before and dude... I'm sorry... but Lincoln is really really hot." 
"Dude chill," laughed Christian. "I know he is." 
"I mean... like holy shit. 
"I'm not hot?" 
"I didn't mean that." 
"Ahem," I said as I was standing by the kitchen counter as they rounded the corner holding each other's hand. 
"Oh my god," Adrian replied as he eyes widened and quickly released Christian. "I have to go home."
"What?" Christian said as they kept walking.
"Did-did you hear us?" Adrian shyly asked. 
"I mean, I'm not as rich as Bill Gates, but I appreciate the comparison," I answered as Adrian's eyes grew even more extensive. 
"I'm sorry," Adrian said, as Christian was laughing. "What's funny?" 
"Uncle G is cool with it." 
"Wait... what do you mean?" Adrian asked than answered his own question. "He knows about you, wait he knows about me too?"
"I mean if I didn't know before, I'm pretty sure you confirmed it while walking down the steps," I chuckled as they walked in. "But in all honesty Adrian, I'm completely okay with it. I knew from Christian telling me, and if I weren't comfortable with it, then I wouldn't have allowed you to join tonight." 
"What I'm saying is to be yourself, no one is going to judge you here. I promise." 
"You don't care?" 
"Not one bit, like I said you don't need to hide hear. No one cares." 
"Told you he was cool," Christian added. 
"Now with that being said, please do watch your language and try to keep the umm... hmm well the affection for one another down tonight." 
"Uncle G, please stop." 
"Not that I have anything against it!" 
"Uncle G!" 
"Alright alright," I laughed. "You boys want anything to drink? Oh, how's that wetsuit fit?" 
"It's a bit big, but it's okay," Adrian answered. 
"I think he went naked," Christian mocked him. 
"Ehh, that's the one LJ peed in," I joked. 
"Wait really?" 
"No," I laughed. 
"So... did you put underwear on?" Christian inquired as he glanced down at Adrian's lower body. 
"No," Adrian shyly answered. 
"Cool... same, me too," smirked Christian who caused Adrian to take a quick look too. 
"Ahem... anything to drink?" 
"Can I have a water." 
"Yeah, Adrian you want one too?" 
"Umm, no thanks," 
"Alright," I said as I went to the closet for a bottle. 
"Does anyone else know?" 
"Know what?" Christian inquired. 
"That I'm... you're... you know gay." 
"Lincoln does." 
"Shut up." 
"Here you go," I interjected as I handed Christian his water. 
"Dude you look like your going to pass out," Christian said as he grabbed the bottle.
"This is like really weird for me. Like no one at my house has a clue. I-I only thought you knew I was like this and-and now I'm surrounded by people who know my biggest secret." 
"You are surrounded by people that do not care about your biggest secret and the gender you like," I stated.
"Just no one knows, and I want to keep it that way. My parents would kill me." 
"You don't need to worry about that stuff while you are here." 
"It's just weird... or scary. I don't really know." 
"Hey, your secret is safe here. And you already know Christian's situation about being out." 
"Yeah, I would never say anything." 
"Yeah," Adrian said as he heard more footsteps coming down the stairs. 
"Don't worry about it today, just have fun and be yourself," I quickly spoke as Ryker came around the corner with his wetsuit folded down to his waist. 
"I'm ready," Ryker announced. 
"Looks like it, need help getting zipped up?" 
"Yes please." 
"Alright," I answered and went over to help him out. 
"Are we ready to go?" Lincoln asked as he entered the kitchen with Clayton. 
"Almost, we have to wait for Jacob. Jordan should be here soon too." 
"She is?" Lincoln moaned. 
"I get to meet her?" Christian cheerfully asked.
"You should," I replied and gave Lincoln a quick look. 
"Who's Jordan?" 
"Garret's girlfriend!" Clayton said. 
"She your girlfriend now?" Christian asked. 
"No!" I laughed, "we are just talking at the moment." 
"Can't we go out and come back for her," Lincoln said. 
"Maybe, but we need Jacob too. Speaking of Jacob, where is he?" 
"Upstairs," Lincoln replied. 
"Alright, you guys head outside. I'll be out soon. Just don't go by the water, I mean it. Stay within the fence!" 
"Yeah," hollered the boy's as they opened the door and started to file out.
Meanwhile, I went to the steps and was just about to start walking up when Jacob appeared wearing sunglasses, his hoodie, and sweatpants and holding his wetsuit. 
"Was just about to come upstairs for you." I chuckled. 
"Where'd you find the shades?" 
"In your room!" 
"They look familiar! And a bit too big."
"I like them!"
"Alright, just don't lose them," I laughed. "So you aren't swimming?" 
"I don't know. Can we just do what we did last time." 
"Change on the boat?" 
"You wearing anything underneath those sweatpants?" 
"Well, there will be other people on the boat besides your brothers and me." 
"But I don't wanna wear underwear in the wetsuit." 
"Alright, I guess... I guess we can figure something out if it comes down to changing on the boat," I said as he walked down to me. 
"Can I use the same life jacket too?" 
"Okay, I'm ready then," Jacob spoke. "Jordan's here!" 
"Jordan, look!" 
"Oh you're right," I replied as I saw her car coming up the driveway. "Everyone is out back bud, I'll be there in a second, okay?" 
"Uh huh." 
"Okay," I said and then went outside to meet Jordan. She had just parked the car when I came over and opened her door, "look at you playing hooky from work." 
"Would have been here sooner, but we tried making some phone calls to sir asshole." 
"How'd they go?" 
"Didn't answer," Jordan replied as she stepped out. 
"Well, you're looking good today!" 
"Why thank you," Jordan remarked as she took off her sunglasses and gave me a kiss. 
"Did you get my text about a swimsuit this morning?" 
"I did... please tell me it's for the hot tub and not the lake." 
"You'll have to wait and see," I laughed as I grabbed her bag from the trunk. 
"Well I'm ready for whatever, I just prefer some warm water." 
"So do I. But just a heads up, Christian is here with his friend Adrian." 
"Christian? Isn't he the one getting bullied?" 
"Well, that's good that he has a friend now, right?" 
"Yeah, might be more than a friend." 
"I know," I chuckled as we walked towards the front door. "Anyway, we are going out in the boat. The boys are, well I'm not sure what the plan is besides that. They might swim or might do a water sport." 
"Sounds fun." 
"Also got us some wine for later." 
"Sounds even more fun." 
"Yeah, looking forward to spending more time together," I said and gave her another kiss before opening the door. "I'll let you go change, and I'll be down by the dock with the boys." 
"Oh, you have a hoodie I can use. I imagine it's chilly out there." 
"Yeah hoodies are in my closet, just snag one," I stated. For the early spring, it's warm at 64 F (17C) right now, but out on the water, it can be breezy. So it's always a good idea to have extra clothing. As Jordan went up, I went outside to figure out the game plan. 
The boys wanted to do a mix of different activities from just swimming to tubing. So I cut them a deal. We would swim first and then go back to shore and blow up the water tubes. I wanted it this way because if the water were too cold, then it would be pointless to inflate everything. Plus I wanted the boys to get in the water and then go for a boat ride to see if the wind mixed with the cold water was too much to handle. Anyway, with the game plan set, I started loading the boys in. 
I don't know what it is, but everyone flocks to the front. I mean that is everyone besides Jacob, as he took his usual seat behind the captain's chair. 
"Wow... Is... Is that Jordan?" Christian asked as she was making her way down the path. 
"Hey," Adrian playfully punched his arm. 
"Hi, Jordan!" Ryker hollered. 
"Hi," Jordan waved. 
"Uncle G, how'd you pull her?"
"Ha ha," I sarcastically responded. 
"It's so gorgeous out here!" Jordan stated as she finally made it to the dock. She was wearing short jean shorts and my Virginia tech hoodie, and I must say, she looked damn good. "Hi boys." 
"Hi," echoed all them, minus Lincoln.
"Here you go," I said and held out my hand for her to jump in. 
"Hi, Jordan!" Jacob spoke as he immediately went to sit with her when she sat down beside the captain's chair. 
"Hey," she responded and draped her arm over him. "You sitting with me today? I need someone to keep me warm!"
"Can I sit with you too?" Ryker asked. 
"Yeah sure, the more, the better." 
"Careful what you wish for," I laughed as I finally sat down and started lowering the boat.
"Whoa, this is sick." Adrian commented, "you do this a lot?" 
"Not really... well not yet," Lincoln responded. 
"I went last summer a lot," added Christian. 
"Really?" Inquired Lincoln, which confused Adrian. 
"Yeah! LJ and I went a lot. He spent like half the summer here." 
"That gonna happen again?"
"I don't know." 
"Weren't you here," Adrian asked Lincoln. 
"No," Lincoln quickly said as I started the engine. 
"Adrian, I'm not sure how much Christian has told you," I interjected. "But Lincoln, Ryker, Jacob, and Clay are my foster kids. They just joined our family not too long ago." 
"Oh, that makes so much more sense. I was really confused why they are calling you  Garret." 
"That would explain it," I chuckled as I threw the boat in reverse and then listened to the multiple conversations going on. Clayton had made it to the back of the boat and was sitting by Jordan, Ryker, and Jacob. They were trying to convince her to jump in the lake with them. Meanwhile, up front, the rest of the boys were chatting about god knows what. Although they were laughing so, I assumed everything was going well. It was also quite interesting to see Christian and Adrian interact. At times you could sense the nervousness as we drove around then at times they were comfortable with one another. 
Anyway, we got to the swimming location, which was the same place we went a few days ago. This time, there wasn't much hesitation from anyone, minus Jacob who was chatting with Jordan. It's was cute to see them together. One by one I heard splashes and laughter. The process repeated itself until the boys decided to swim around for a little. There was a shallow rocky spot about 40 feet from where we were anchored, so they wanted to go swim and sit down on the rocks. Usually, I wouldn't allow this, but with low wave activity and winds,  it wouldn't be too bad. 
"Clayton you stay here," I said as he was about to join his brothers. 
"But I wanna go." 
"I know, but it's too dangerous for you to be that far from the boat without an adult in the water." 
"No, you stay here with us." 
"Fine." Clayton miserably said as he sat on the swim platform. 
"You coming in, Jacob?" Jordan spoke. 
"Are you?" 
"I'm getting ready, and you said if I jump in. You'll jump in." 
"But you don't got a wetsuit." 
"I know, it'll be okay." She replied as she started to shred her jean shorts. 
"Thank you, Jacob," I thought as I watched her undress to her swimsuit. 
"Hey," she giggled and snapped her fingers in my direction. "You coming too?" 
"Umm... l yah-yeah," I stuttered. "Just let me get Jacob into his wetsuit." 
"You're coming in?" Clayton asked as he popped his head up from the swim platform. 
"Yeah, buddy." 
"Guys!" Clayton hollered. "Garret's coming in!" 
"Alright buddy," I spoke to Jacob. "Ready?" 
"Do you need any help?" Jordan inquired. 
"Do you want a towel up, so no one sees you?" I asked 
"Here you go," I said as I handed the towel to Jordan who unfolded it and held it up. It took no longer than a minute to get him undressed and then suited into a suit. It made it easy. I zipped up the back portion, and he was ready to go. 
"I need my life jacket." 
"Yes you do," I responded and began putting it on him. After that, I stripped to my swim shorts and headed for the swim platform as well. The four other boys were swimming back while Jordan, Jacob, Clayton, and I held each other's hands and counted to three before jumping. 
As soon as my butt hit the water, I was instantly regretting every decision leading up to jumping. The water was so cold, that I knew then and there, that the boys couldn't do any water sports. I don't see how their faces weren't frozen. 
"Oh my gosh," Jordan gasped as we popped up to everyone laughing. 
"Garret!" Lincoln called out as he latched on to me. 
"Yeah buddy," I replied as I started inching my way to the boat already. 
"Can we swim around!" 
"I'm-I'm... sorry kiddo, it's a lot colder than I thought it would be." 
"It's not bad!" 
"You have a wetsuit," I mentioned as Jordan was already back on the swim platform. 
"I just can't be in here," I laughed as I grabbed for the boat. 
"Really?" Christian added
"Yes really," I replied as I was now standing out of the water. "Jacob, you okay?" 
"Yeah! The life jacket works!" 
"So you are done swimming?" Lincoln inquired. 
"Yeah bud, it's just too cold for me right now. If I had a wetsuit, it would be better." 
"Fine," he replied in a hushed tone and turned towards Christian and Adrian. 
"You boys can keep swimming," I replied and walked into the seating area. 
"Oh my god, I'm so cold Garret," Jordan replied. 
"I know, I am too," I answered and went for a blanket and two towels,. "Here take a towel and the blanket." 
"Okay," she shivered. 
"And hold on to this," I said as I reached around and grabbed the heater hose nozzle. 
"What the hell is this?" 
"Just put it under the blanket!" 
"Trust me," I laughed and then flicked on the heated seats as went over to sit with her. 
"Please tell me your warm." 
"I'm not," I answered as I wrapped my arm around Jordan and she leaned in. 
"That-that was such a mistake!" 
"Yeah... I'm regretting that." 
"Is this a heater?" 
"I've never seen this before." 
"It's pretty cool. I'm sure we will have to give up the seats when they are done swimming though." 
"Does this have heated seats too?" 
"What the hell. How much this boat cost?" Jordan laughed. 
"Ehh... good amount," I replied. "But it's worth every penny." 
"For a boat?" 
"I mean... it's bringing me close to you." I slyly remarked. 
"You have the corniest lines." Jordan chuckled. 
"I've been upping my dad comments!" 
"I wonder why." 
"Me too," I laughed as we continued to chat with one another. For about 15 minutes we were under the blankets getting warm and enjoying each others company. From time to time, I would catch Lincoln looking over at us, before jumping back in the water. 
After Jordan and I were finally warm, the boys had enough swimming for the moment, one by one they piled in. Ryker had decided he had enough and got out of his wetsuit. There was only one issue because he didn't bring extra clothes. So he was forced to hang out in a towel and blanket. He didn't care though, he sat on my lap and enjoyed the warmth. Jacob wasn't too crazy about going back either, so he changed back into his hoodie. The others decided that they wanted to go swimming again, but I suggested they go jumping off the dock. Lincoln asked about tubing, but as soon as we started driving to get back to shore, those boys quickly came back to the heated hose.
I had Ryker on my lap, which I'm pretty sure he was content on not moving, he was so bundled up, it was hilarious. Jacob was sitting on Jordan's lap, which left Christian, Adrian, and Clayton to squeeze next to her so they could share the heater. Lincoln, well he would rather be cold than sitting by Jordan. It was quite evident that he had some problems with her. I mean he has told me but just seeing them interact. Everybody noticed it, and I was wondering what Jordan's thoughts were. 
Once we docked, the older group still wanted to go swimming. So I cut them another deal. As long as they wore life jackets, they could go swimming until the food was delivered here. I knew they don't need life jackets, well at least Christian and Adrian don't, but I didn't want to risk it as everyone else was heading up to the house. They didn't seem to care though, as they sprinted off the dock and splashed in the water. 
"Boys," I hollered to the three that were coming up to the house. "When we get up to the house, leave wetsuits out by the door." 
"Can we go in the hot tub to get warm?" Ryker inquired
"You all want to do that?" 
"Yeah," said Jacob and then an echo from Clayton.  
"You sure? You guys are all dry." 
"I just wanna go really quick," Ryker spoke. 
"Alright, once we get up there, I'll open it up. Not too long though boys," I commented as Ryker came over and took ahold of my free hand. We made it to the fence, and from there, the boys turned it into a race. Ryker beat out everyone but lost his towel in the process. So we all received a view of his bare butt running up the field. He didn't care, that boy had no modesty what so ever. Once I finally arrived, Jacob had thrown off his clothes and clay was struggling to get out of the wetsuit. After helping him, I opened the cover, and the three nude boys disappeared under the water. They quickly came up giggling at one another. 
Thankfully Jordan went inside to grab a few extra towels, before heading back inside to check messages. After a few minutes, the boys got out and went upstairs to get changed. 
"Any new messages?" I asked as I entered through the back door. 
"Nothing on your case," Jordan replied as she put her phone down. 
"Glass of wine?" 
"I would love one!" 
"Red or white?" 
"Red, please," Jordan said. "You know, I could get used to all this?" 
"Come again?" 
"Just the environment! It's such a positive, loving, and worry-free vibe here at your house." 
"I'm not so sure about the worry-free," I laughed. 
"Well, not worry-free, but relaxing." 
"Really? You aren't overwhelmed with the physical contact and attention that the boys demand?" 
"No. I actually love it. They are so sweet, Garret. Even Christian and Adrian are such kind boys." 
"You don't feel pressure?" 
"Umm," Jordan thought as I passed her a glass of wine. "No... Ohh, maybe a bit from Lincoln. But I understand his standpoint on me and where it's coming from." 
"How so?" I asked as I wanted to get her take. 
"I don't want to be the type of person to force a relationship on to someone. So when Lincoln is ready to start furthering conversations, I will be too. Although, it does drive me crazy that he's so quiet around me. I naturally want to get to know him because he means so much to you, but I don't want to force it." 
"I don't know, he fascinates me." 
"Well, I think he just needs some time. He is still adjusting to living in a good environment where he feels safe. I assume he doesn't want to mess with that and risk something happening. I just know he constantly needs to be reassured that I'm there for him, I mean they all do.  But it's different with Lincoln." 
"What do you mean?" Jordan inquired. 
"I don't know, it just is. The way we interact, the way he is dependent on positive interaction. It's a different bond than the other three boys. Don't get me wrong all the boys need the positive interaction, but for Lincoln, I feel it's what keeps him going." 
"Yeah, I get it, Garret! But I think you have a special unique bond with every one of them. All different in their own ways! Lincoln, I have noticed needs to know what you're doing and where you are. Like he always wants to make sure you haven't left. Then Ryker is so so soooo attached to your hip, it's hilarious. He even acts like you." 
"How so?" I chuckled as I went over and sat next to her.
"For one, Ryker and you aren't afraid of showing your emotions. You both love physical contact." 
"Oh do I?" 
"Yes you do," Jordan laughed. 
"Keep going."
"he even dresses like you, well more so than the other three. He even kind of looks like you, which is odd." 
"You're not the first person to say that." 
"All the boys somewhat resemble you. Like not a carbon copy, but if I didn't know your situation, you could totally pass as their biological father." 
"I'm hurt and honored." 
"Why are you hurt?" 
"Because that means I would have had Lincoln at 19!" 
"That's not uncommon anymore!" Jordan chuckled as she took a sip. 
"Yeah, but if that's the case, then I most likely wouldn't have had this lifestyle." 
"Which is another odd detail about you. You are a less rich Mark Zuckerberg, how the hell did you do it?" 
"Umm... I got lucky?" I joked. 
"I don't believe that." 
"Nah, I mean well yeah I was fortunate. I also had some help from my parents, as they invested in me. But uhh... I'm not totally sure how I got to this point." 
"I think you do," Jordan replied. 
"Ehh," I stated. "After my first marriage failed, I just really sank myself into my work. Actually, I was engrossed in my business, which was why the marriage failed, but after the divorce, I didn't have a life outside of work." 
"You regret it?" 
"Regret working so hard?" 
"No, the failed marriage. You wish you could turn back time and try to dedicate more time to her?" 
"Hmm, I've uh... never really thought of that." I replied, "umm... looking how things have and are turning out, not one bit." 
"I didn't think so," Jordan laughed as she stood up. "I'm going to change out of these and into comfy clothes." 
"Sounds good," I answered. "I'm going to order food and then get the boys from the lake. BBQ sound good?" 
"What BBQ place delivers food around here?" 
"Don't worry about it!" I said as I now stood up and went to order the food. I ordered wings, ribs, and pulled pork, and the gentleman on the phone told me it would be about 40 minutes until the food was delivered. After calling, my first trip went to the hot tub to gather any leftover clothing or towels that were left from the boys and brought it back in. Upon my second time back outside, I was walking back to close the cover of the hot tub when Lincoln was making his way back up. 
He only had his towel wrapped around his waist as he strolled up the path, and I hollered. "Hey bud, come over here." 
"Come here!" 
"Why?" Lincoln answered as he looked like he ready to be yelled at. "What did I do?" 
"Am I in trouble?" 
"No! I just wanted to give you a hug and tell you I love you!"
Lincoln's face went from concerned to happy as he quickly picked up his walking pace, "oh!" 
"Yeah come here!" I chuckled as I embraced my boy. 
"I thought... nevermind." 
"Whatever you thought was wrong! I just wanted to let you know that I love you." 
"Love you too," Lincoln answered and gave me a massive hug. 
"I know you do!" 
"Mmh hmm." 
"Where's the other two?" 
"Still at the lake." 
"Why you come up then?" 
"I got cold." 
"Ahh... okay, hopefully, I am warming you up a bit!" 
"You are," Lincoln answered and nuzzled his head against my stomach. 
"What's with the towel?" I asked as I let go of him. 
"I thought they were left there so we could use them." 
"Sorry, I meant where's your wetsuit?" 
"Oh, I left it on the dock!" 
"Did you guys go skinny dipping?" 
"No!" Lincoln giggled, "I just got changed because that's where the towels are." 
"Alright, umm you want to jump in the hot tub really quick?" 
"Umm... no, I'm just gonna go get a shower." 
"Okay, I'm closing it up then." 
"I'll be inside in a few moments, I'm going to go clean up the dock." 
"Need help?" 
"No thanks bud," I laughed as I gave him another quick hug. 
"Love you!" 
"Love you too," I said and let go of him. He made his way to the house as I made my way to the cover and closed the hot tub. I didn't really want to offer the hot tub to Adrian and Christian, as they both were commando underneath the wetsuits. I didn't even want to entertain the thought of them in the hot tub together, and I didn't want to make it awkward for Adrian. Not many adults are cool with skinny dipping, so I didn't want to freak him out. 
Anyway, I did make my way down to the lake to clean up and tell the boys that the food was ordered. I tried making some noise, so they heard me coming down, and I wouldn't surprise them. I faked a coughed, sneezed, whistled and even stepped on sticks, so they cracked. However, once I got closer, I heard the boat speakers playing some music, so it was a lost cause to try and warn them of my arrival. 
Once I stepped on the dock, they were over by the boathouse. They weren't doing anything extreme, at least by the looks of it. But Christian had Adrian pushed up along the wall of the house, as their lips were locked. It was a full-blown make-out session going on. The two were oblivious to me as I headed towards the boat to shut off the music. By the looks of it, both were enjoying each other's company. Christian was running his hands all over Adrian's bare chest, as Christian had unzipped the top half of Adrian's wetsuit. Adrian wasn't taking a back seat either as his hands ran through Christians hair and down around his back to hold on to Christian's rear end.  It was apparent that he enjoyed that as he thrust his hips into Adrian's body and the two boys got closer with each other. Both boys were sporting noticeable lumps in the front of their wetsuit, and I saw Christian going lower and lower with his hand. I knew what he had in mind, and  I think that it was for the best, that I was there about to slow their roll.
"Ahem," I cleared my throat as I hit the off button on the music. 
"Uncle G!" Christian yelled as he flew away from Adrain. 
"Oh, their you boys are," I said as I played dumb "what are you doing over there?" 
"Na-na-nothing," Adrian stuttered as he adjusted his package. 
"Yeah? I thought you boys went up with Lincoln. Didn't know I was.. um interrupting anything." 
"You weren't," Adrian answered and pulled the wetsuit over his chest again. 
"Yeah, we umm... just saw some fish over here," Christian stated as he fixed his hair. 
"Oh... I didn't know you could see any water from behind the boathouse." I chuckled. 
"You umm," Christian stuttered as he knew you couldn't see the water. Just the rocks that lined the shore. "Yeah..." 
"Yeah? Usually, those ROCK bass fish are HARD to see over there. Especially without the water coming up that far." 
"Umm yeah," Christian answered. "You... you saw, didn't you?" 
"No," I said but shook my head yes. "Didn't see anything." 
"Sorry," Adrian commented. 
"For what?" I answered as I picked up Lincoln's wetsuit as well as some wet towels. 
"Umm, I don't know," Adrian said as both boys walked out from behind the boathouse. 
"Nothing to be sorry about, bud... just remember what I said earlier!" 
"Yeah, we will," Christian answered and once again adjusted his cock to make it less noticeable. 
"Food should be here soon," I stated as I hopped back in the boat to wipe everything down. 
"Cool, I'm gonna go get changed then," Adrian said. 
"I'd go grab a shower if I were you. It would warm you up. Just ask one of the boys were the spare room is."
"Okay... umm thanks Mr. Hamel for taking us out in the boat," Adrian replied. "Christian, you coming?" 
"I'm gonna help him out." 
"You don't have to." 
"I want to though!" 
"Okay," Adrian stated as he made his way back to the house and Christian hopped in the boat. 
"Bud, it's okay," I laughed. "Just be a bit more aware of your surroundings, and I would have missed all that." 
"How much did you see?" 
"A good amount... Mr. Hands," I joked as I tousled his hair. "Looked like it was getting intense!" 
"Oh my god, it was! I wanted to slip my hands into his wetsuit. I could feel his.. everything through the wetsuit!" 
"Okay, buddy... remember, I don't need a play by play." 
"But I got to tell someone how I'm feeling!" 
"Oh dear lord..." I answered he palmed my face. "Please don't do anything more, at least here at the current moment, just be-
"I know! Just be a kid!" 
"Thank you!" 
"He is just so hot! Don't you think?" 
"Huh? Umm yeah, he is an attractive looking young man." 
"Oh and blame Lincoln!" 
"For Adrian and I kissing!" Christian laughed. 
"How so?" 
"If he hadn't stripped, Adrian wouldn't have gotten, you know excited." 
"What?" I replied to his hilariously ludicrous statement. "How'd that lead  to a full-blown face suck session behind the boathouse." 
"I don't know. Just did! Wanted to get Adrian's attention back on me, so we started kissing." Christian laughed! "Why does Lincoln have to be so good looking." 
"Family curse...  you got it too. Don't worry." 
Christian smirked at my statement, "I hope I do." 
"Don't worry kid... you are a fine looking young man too," I answered as we dried off the seats. 
"Uh huh," I replied. It took us about 5 minutes to clean up the lakefront and gather all the leftover belonging. But after everything was clean, Christian and I made our way up the path. "Hey... please limit yourself to kissing, at least for right now. I don't need Adrian's and yours first, umm sex... umm first... whatever you want to call it, time at my house, on his first visit here." 
"I know it won't! I don't think he is ready yet." 
"I don't... never mind."I stopped myself 
"But what about his second time coming, can he try something new then?" Christian joked. 
"Love you, Uncle G," Christian stated before I could finish my sentence and wrapped his arm around me. 
I chuckled, "love you too," and draped my arm over his shoulder. 
"You're not gonna tell my mom about this, are you?" 
"Only if she asks, but with as little detail if she does." 
"No problem, you getting a shower too?" 
"Yeah probably." 
"You can jump in mine if you want." 
"Okay," Christian replied as we walked. From this point, the day flew by. After the food was delivered, the boys devoured everything, we didn't have a single leftover. So after cleaning up dinner, the boys went to the basement to play video games and hang out with one another. This allowed Jordan and I more free time together which was always excellent. 
Around 8, we finished our first bottle of wine. We considered opening a second one but thought it would be best to call it a night on the drinking. It was for the best anyway, as the boys came up and wanted to watch a movie. So with two bags of popcorn popped, everyone crowded into the family room. 
Christian and Adrian shared the small couch and blanket. It was nice to see the comfort level between them grow. Christian was laying down with his head on a pillow that rested on Adrian's lap. At first, you could sense some of the awkwardness from them, but as the movie went on, Adrian rested his hand on Christians chest. Even looked like he would rub his hands on Christians chest and hair. 
On the bigger couch, laid Lincoln who blocked my access to Jordan. However it was okay, as he kicked his legs over my lap, and then used Jordan's thigh as a pillow. It was surprising to see, and Jordan scratched his head too, so she potentially earned some brownie points with him. Ryker was to my left, and he rested his body against mine, as I had my arm draped over his shoulder for a half hug. Jacob was sitting in between my legs, on the ground with a pillow behind his head. For some reason, he liked to sit there which I always found odd. Last we had Clayton who was sitting in the recliner chair. He didn't last through the movie and fell asleep 20 minutes in as he was all bundled up in a blanket. 
Once the movie ended, it was close to 10. Ryker, Jacob, and Clayton all fell asleep before the film could finish. So they didn't have a chance to say goodbye to Jordan. After walking her to her car, I took the three sleeping boys upstairs to their bedrooms. 
Around 11 I was doing my final check and visited the older group in the basement. They weren't going to be awake much longer either, well at least by the looks of it. Another movie was put on, so I said my goodnights and went up to bed. 

Part - 4

Tuesday morning was here, and I was waking up with Ryker beside me. Before getting out of my bed and starting my day, I gave Ryker a kiss on the forehead and then went to check on Jacob and Clayton. After doing that I hopped in the shower for a quick rinse. 
During this time, I started to run through my day and week. I had Ryker's parent-teacher conference today as well as the contractor starting his work. I was still waiting to hear from Berry about this last weekend to see if they found anything. And to top things off, my mind started to shift towards this Friday and the possible outcome of losing Jacob. I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but I wanted to sit down with him and have a one on one conversation about it. I didn't want to blindside him, and I planned on telling him exactly what I knew, which unfortunately wasn't much. 
Anyhow, once I was finished and dressed, I was downstairs with Rita. She looked fresh and recharged after an extended weekend off! She was going to need it too, because with the contractor coming and me going to the school, Rita was going to have the kids for the majority of the day. I could tell she was excited though, as she planned to take them to the movies in the morning, then go out for lunch, and finish the afternoon doing what the boys wanted. I was happy for her, she looked like she had missed everyone over the weekend. 
As Rita and I caught each other up to speed on the weekend, Christian was first to come up from the basement. A few minutes later Adrian and Lincoln both walked up the steps. The three boys were still groggy, as Rita was bringing them drinks. It didn't take long for the kitchen to be filled with half-naked boys, as everyone was downstairs and awake. 
At this point, the breakfast flew by, and everyone went to get changed to start their day. It was around 10 o'clock when my boys said bye to Adrian and Christian. I was meeting Kelly to drop them off, and Rita started her day with the boys. 
We hopped in the S-Class and backed out of the garage to meet Kelly. Christian decided to be nice and give Adrian the front seat, so it was quite hilarious to see his reaction when the seat started massaging his back. 
"This car is sick!" Adrian commented. 
"I know," Christian giggled. 
"Well thanks, It's been pretty nice so far to drive." 
"And it's fast," Christian spoke. "Show him, Uncle G!" 
"Bud I'm already doing 55 in a 45, I can't go much faster!" 
"At the next stop light?" 
"We will see," I said as I wanted to change topics. "So you two hang out in school?" 
"No," Christian dejectedly responded, and Adrian looked guilty. 
"So," I said as I realized I brought up a stupid question. "Hmm. Sorry fellas, I forgot it was a sore subject." 
"It's okay," Christian replied. 
"I... uh... want to, but I don't want to be made fun of." Adrian commented, "it sucks because you're super chill to talk to." 
"Yeah... can we just not talk about it," Christian returned.
"Okay... umm sorry," Adrian stated which brought on a few seconds of awkward silence.
"So?" I started, "anyone have any plans for the rest of spring break?" 
"I don't know," Adrian answered first. "Hopefully hang out with Christian more." 
"That would be cool, I gotta ask my mom though." 
"Same," Adrian replied. 
"Could Lincoln come over?" 
"I'm sure you could ask him kiddo!" 
"You think he would want to?" 
"Absolutely! I don't see why he wouldn't." 
"I mean like a sleepover." 
"Oh," I answered. "You're more than welcome to ask!" 
"I don't know if he would want to." 
"Why?" Adrian inquired.
"Lincoln just isn't too comfortable away from home," I said. 
"Oh, I used to be like that, I didn't like sleepovers." 
"Really? I always love sleepovers!"
"Because you've been staying over my house since you were seven!" 
"Yeah... when you were actually cool," Joked Christian. 
"Yeah I know... and when you weren't annoying either," I fired back which made Christian laugh. 
"Wasn't that you're apartment I stayed in ?" 
"In the beginning? Yeah, I believe so! When I had no cool cars or hot tubs. Just played video games and hung out." 
"I remember that!" 
"I hope you do! We spent a lot of the summers together." 
"You guys are close, aren't you? That's cool," Adrian interrupted. 
"Pretty close is an understatement... I know too much about him," I laughed. 
"You'd be bored without me," Christian answered, and we continued on talking. The drive was a bit out of my way to drop them off, but it was helpful to my sister. Once we arrived Adrian thanked me, and then Christian gave me a big hug. We said our goodbyes and I was quickly on my way to the boys'elementary school. On my way, I called Jordan and thanked her for coming out yesterday. I had a fantastic time with her, as I always do, but I still liked to thank her. After getting off the phone with her, I called my parents. It was a nice chat as we discussed upcoming plans for Ryker's birthday. I wanted to throw a party in which all the family was around. So my parents were in for sure, and I still had to ask Lucas and company. However, I don't see any issue as Ryker's birthday falls on a Saturday, so everyone should be able to make it in.
As I arrived, I said goodbye to my parents and parked the car. I wasn't totally sure what to expect from meeting the teacher today, but I entered the building and showed my license to the front counter. After I was scanned I'm, I walked to Ryker's classroom and knocked on the door. 
"Mr. Green?" I said. 
"Ahh yes, Mr. Hamel, right?" 
"Garret, please," I said and shook his hand. 
"Please call me Ian then." 
"Will do," I answered as I walked towards an open chair that was by the teacher's desk. "So how are teachers here and students not?" 
"What do you mean?" 
"It's spring break?" I laughed. 
"Oh... so technically spring break doesn't start until tomorrow. However, the district uses Monday and Tuesday as teacher service days. It allows us to catch up on work and use the extra time for stuff like this." 
"Ahh, that makes sense. You have a lot of parent-teacher conferences scheduled?" 
"I do not, I try to schedule them within the first three months of the school year, so I know the parents and set expectations. Then if I need to get in contact with them again, then I at least know what I'm dealing with throughout the school year too." 
"A lot of crazies?" I joked. 
"You have no idea," Ian responded. 
"I don't doubt that." 
"Yeah, it's gotten worse and worse with each passing year." 
"I bet." 
"Yeah," Ian answered. "So, let me first say that Ryker is a really sweet kid. He brings great energy to class and cracks me up with his answers.  All the kids in the class like him and he seems to be doing well in terms of making friends and keeping them. I know he is particularly close to Dylan." 
"Yeah, they are pretty good friends so far. Dylan lives down the street from us, so the boys see each other quite often. They even play on the same soccer team too." 
"Well it shows, a few weeks ago, I let them pick their seats for the first time this school year. Those two instantly found a desk by one another. They are pretty funny together," Ian said. "And then besides that incident with Hannah from earlier in the year... his behavior is top notch! Do you have any concerns so far?" 
"I'm... no not at all." 
"Good, so moving on! I wanted to share this project we recently did in the class. It's an essay, but minus the spelling mistakes, I want to get your take on it. I asked the class to write about what they wanted to be when they grew up and why. And well, I just let you read it." 
"Alright,"' I chuckled as I reached for the paper. It was a short paragraph, probably no less than 5 sentences but it read.
'I want to be like Garret when I grow up. He is epic, big, strong, and he makes me really really happy when I am with Garret. I want to be like Garret because he helps people like my brothers and me. Garret is the best and I really really really really really want him to be my Dad. I want to be like him because I love Garret! Heart heart heart.' 
I smiled as he actually spelled out the word heart and didn't put the symbol. "Kinda missed the objective," I joked. "But thank you for showing me this." 
"I thought you would like to see it." 
"I did, so thank you." 
"You're welcome," Ian stated. "Now umm, there are a few things I want to discuss with you about his academic performance." 
"For starters, Ryker is incredibly intelligent. He can vocally answer questions and speak up extremely well when asked to. However, I have started to notice him make mistakes words while reading aloud and mix up numbers during math. Here, take a look at this math sheet we did in class. See how his answers add up? His answers would be correct if the numbers on the sheet were reversed. He still answers the problems correct if, in fact, the numbers were what he thought." 
"So he is going through his work too quick?" 
"I don't think that's the answer, and I'm still not sure if I'm correct. But I believe Ryker may be dyslexic.""
"What?" I answered. 
"He may be dyslexic." 
"I thought dyslexia only impacted reading." 
"Well Ryker is struggling with reading as well, but dyslexia impacts multiple areas. It's a learning disability, which means with the right steps and guidance Ryker won't fall behind at all." 
"But that essay didn't have many errors," I protested. 
"You're right, but if you reread it. Look at how he writes, it's not consistent in terms of width or height of each letter. Notice how he starts writing In the middle of the line too, but then towards the end of the paper, the words are falling down into the bottom line. I also want to point out that Ryker is using comfort words. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it means his sentence structure and flow are very similar to one another. It is the repetitive sentence structure or see the repetitive use of the word really instead of testing his ability to use different words." 
"Uh huh," I said as I was studying the essay again. 
"Now I know you probably don't think anything is wrong-." 
"I mean I truly don't, I check his homework almost every night. Out of the boys, he is usually the first one done too."
"Well you could be right, but I am trying to tell you that I would like the school to check and run some test for dyslexia. I just think it's better to be safe than sorry. I wouldn't want him to have this condition, and it is left untreated for years. If he is dyslexic, the school can provide him with the correct tools to succeed." 
"What kind of test?" 
"Well, it's more of an evaluation. It's usually more conversational based with a student, the parent if they want to be involved, a teacher or administrator, and our SLP." 
"Sorry, Speech-Language Pathologist." 
"I didn't know the school had someone like a speech pathologist." 
"She's new this year and been really great for our students that have trouble reading and so forth. Just so happens that she can help identify patterns and trends in children to determine if they are dyslexic or many other disabilities. Now we can only start the evaluation with your approval." 
"What if it turns out he is just progressing slower than others at the moment?" 
"Well, then we can help in other areas to... we could be  giving more worksheets for you and him to complete at home and so forth." 
"Yeah," I said as I pondered. "We uhh... I think we should get it done."
"I agree too, Mr. Hamel. It's better to start early with dyslexia." 
"That's if it is that," I corrected him. 
"True that's if it is," he replied. 
"In the meantime, do you have any extra worksheets I could have. I would like to see Ryker complete some over spring break." 
"Absolutely, you can have these math sheets as well as our fill in the blank with the proper word sheets. I would advise having Ryker read the sentence to you so you can identify his struggles." 
"Alright," I said. "Now when will this evaluation of Ryker start?"
"Well, I have to check the times with our SLP's schedule, as well as yours. I'm assuming you want to be a part of this?" 
"I figured you would," Ian stated. "I'm glad to see someone so involved with their child's education. So I will be in contact with you here by the beginning of next week to schedule a time." 
"Sounds good." 
"Yeah, so anything else?" I inquired. 
"On Ryker's end? Nope, like I said. I love having him in my class, he is a great boy! I'm interested in finding out where the evaluation takes us." 
"So am I." 
"I do have one quick question for you," Ian spoke as we were getting out of the chairs to walk towards the door. "I heard about your charity you are starting. When you spoke to Amy Wilson's class on career day, she talked highly about you and the organization. I was wondering how do I get involved." 
"Oh... yeah! Well, we are in the process of renovating our first building. You can get involved in two ways. One by donating or the second option by signing up to be a mentor."
"Do you have a website yet?"
"Almost, it's under development currently. Hope to have it running soon."
"Well please let me know when it is." 
"Yeah yeah... will do," I answered. "Pleasure to meet you and enjoy the start of your vacation." 
"Thank you! You do as well, tell Ryker I said hello." 
"Alright, take care," I replied and made my way to my car. I had to officially sign out which meant stopping in the office one last time. But after that, I was in my vehicle, heading home. I had a lot to process, and I didn't really know what to think. I've heard of dyslexia but, I've never really looked into it. I don't know enough about it to judge how severe it could be or how it could impact Ryker. Before taking any action, I wanted to do research as well as talk to a few others about it. Plus I'm not too sure he even has it, so I have to wait for the evaluation. Just add another thing to my list of stress. 
Anyhow, I went home to check on the process of the boy's room. The gentleman had started in Jacob's bedroom as he determined it would be the most challenging. So far it looks incredible. The bottom of the wall started out in a light blue, almost white looking color, but every few inches the darkness of blue would increase. Midway up the wall, you have navy colored blue transitioned into a dark royal blue. The ceiling was the same shade of royal blue, and you could already make out the stars he had painted. It was coming along great especially in just two hours, he already had the first coat down. He had moved on to Clayton's room next and was laying down the sheets to cover everything. 
Clayton's room was going to be painted pretty simple compared to Jacobs. The contractor had to paint two different colors. The top half blue and the bottom half red for the Columbus blue jackets colors. We had a 4-inch wide white section to divide the colors in half. So technically from bottom up, the color scheme would go red, white, and blue. The door and window trims were to remain white as well, so it was going to be nice. 
I let the contractor get back to his work without any interruptions as I went down to my office to complete some research. At this point, I called Ruth to discuss what she knew about dyslexia as well as Kelly to figure out what she could inform me. Both were helpful, but Ruth had a bit more knowledge than Kelly. However, repeatedly told me not to worry until the evaluations are completed and the results are finalized.
It was around 3 when the contractor left for the day. He had finished the first coat in Clayton's room, and then plastic sheeted Ryker's room. I didn't really want the boys in their bedrooms, minus Lincoln since his wasn't getting painted, so I grabbed some extra clothes for the three. Plus I wanted everything to be finished and a surprise, so their rooms were on lockdown until they could be completed tomorrow.
It was around 5 when Rita and the boys returned. They desperately wanted to see their bedrooms, but couldn't. I spent most of the night trying to keep them entertained. It was difficult, mainly because they want their own space for a bit. They didn't fully understand why, however, the best distraction end up being knee hockey. We played before dinner and then finished another game after. 
It was fun, but extremely exhausting, at least for me. I'm sure the boys could go another 3 games if they wanted to. However, with the night coming to a close, it was time to begin our bedtime routine. Since three of the boys' rooms were shut down, they all wanted to take a bath in the jacuzzi tub. Lincoln, on the other hand, went to take a shower in his room. 
With everyone clean, we decided to end the night in the basement playing video games. It actually ended perfectly as all of the boys fell asleep downstairs. It allowed me to head up to my room and fell asleep around 11ish. 
Wednesday morning, April 6th, 2016.
Similar to Tuesday morning, everybody was up and eating breakfast. Rita had prepared french toast and cut up fruit. It was a favorite among the boys in terms of Rita's breakfast. Now similar to yesterday, it was my turn to keep the boys out of the house for a while since the contractor was coming back to finish his work. Unfortunately, the weather was going to keep us off the lake as it was cold and rainy, but I had some ideas of what we could do. 
Anyhow, we returned back to the house around 5 o'clock. Our day was filled with activities. We started at the mall which included shopping, laser tag, and my unfortunate mistake of stopping at the pet store. Needless to say, I was lucky to escape without buying a golden retriever. I mean the boys were throwing everything at me which included some tears and puppy dog faces. After avoiding that disaster, we went to grab lunch in the food court. Once we left the mall, the boys and I decided to go to an indoor adventure park where they could zip line and climb around through obstacles. It's was pretty cool for them, and I hoped that it would tire them out. Then on the way home, we called grandma and grandpa for a speakerphone conversation. 
All in all, it was a good day, but the boys were anxious to see their rooms. With everything complete, it was finally time to let them look at their finished product. Jacobs was by far the most significant change. He had the solar system on his ceiling with the light fixture being the sun and the planets orbiting the light. It was very nicely done. Clayton's room was excellent as well, we just had to wait for the CBJ bedspreads to come and the room would be complete. Ryker's bedroom was lovely done as well. Most of his room was painted a dark green to mimic a soccer and football field. While other feature would be added over time. However, all the boys were thrilled with their rooms. The only unfortunate part was they couldn't stay in them yet because the paint smell was still too strong. 
Anyway, after dinner, Rita had left for the night which left the boys and me some time to do what we wanted. Lincoln and Ryker were upstairs in Lincoln's room playing some sort of game. Clayton was watching cartoons in the living room, and Jacob was downstairs playing another game. I decided it was time to talk to Jacob about this Friday. I was dreading it, but I was going to tell him exactly what I knew. 
"Hey bud," I said as I sat down beside him. 
"You like your room?" 
"Yes! It's awesome," Jacob replied. 
"I think it looks pretty cool too. We will have to get you some new bed covers though." 
"What game is this?" I asked. 
"I don't know what it is called, Christian showed it to me." 
"Hmm, well do you mind taking a quick break so we can talk?" 
"Yeah," Jacob said as he paused the game and looked at me. 
"Ahem... so umm, this Friday... we found out about your grandparents. So I want to be open and honest with you bud, I'm not totally sure what to expect. I have people trying to help me, but I don't know how much luck they are having." 
"Isn't Jordan helping?" Jacob inquired. 
"Yes Jordan is one of those who are trying to help, but she also has a big team with her. They are all trying to have you stay with me and keep you around your brothers." 
"I like that." 
"So do I," I chuckled. "That's the goal." 
"But I'm not sure if we are going to accomplish that goal." 
"What do you mean?" 
"Umm... it means that I don't really know what's going to happen kiddo. So let me explain. Remember how you were supposed to go stay with them a few weeks ago?" 
"Well, you know how you have to take a test in school to get good grades and earn rewards? Your grandparents had to do something similar, which means they have to pass this test to make sure that their house was equipped... I mean safe for you to stay there. Long story short, they didn't pass this first time around. Which is awesome for us! It's given me some extra time with you, and it's also given our team of helpers a better chance to keep you with me! Following along so far?" 
"Uh huh." 
"Good! So the people who give the test to your grandparents gave them thirty days to fix the issues and prove once again that their house is good for you to live in. This Friday, we find out if they pass or not." 
"What happens if they didn't do good?" 
"To be honest, I'm not entirely sure. That's something that I will address with Laura. But that's a good thing though. It means you get to stay with me longer!" 
"But what if they do good?" 
"Umm... it's difficult to tell bud," I replied. "Most likely you would end up staying with your grandparents for a short amount of time until I could win you back." 
"So... so I might have to leave?" Jacob asked. "What if I don't wanna."
"Unfortunately kiddo, you and I don't have much of a say right now." 
"But they scare me," Jacob replied as he started to cry. 
"I know buddy," I said as I was close to crying too.
"You can't do anything?" 
"I've been trying too." 
"But you promised." 
"I know, and I want to keep my promise. I just... just don't know what's going to happen, buddy. This is something that I truly don't have much control of, and it hurts, me that I can't. I so want to keep you here bud. You mean so much to me, and it drives me insane thinking that I don't know what's going on. If I did, then this wouldn't be happening." 
"I don't wanna go," Jacob said as he was now starting to bawl. 
"I know bud," I answered as I started to cradle Jacob and rub his back. "I'm sorry, but I need to tell you. I don't want you not knowing what's going to happen. Especially when it's something this big." 
"I'm not gonna go." 
"I hope so." 
"I'm stayin, they-they can't make me-me leave," Jacob bawled. 
"Shh, it's okay," I assured him. In reality, they could force him to go, but I didn't have the heart to tell him that. He wept for a few minutes as I sat on the couch with him. I have to give credit to Jacob. Not many could handle or even comprehend the pressure he was under. For a seven-year-old, this boy has been so strong his entire life. He's been a fighter, and I only want to give him a life where he doesn't have to worry about those in charge of him. He's been to hell and back with Frank, and It's been a damn roller coaster of emotional twist and turns with his grandparents. The worst part about this roller coaster was the steepest hill was in front of us. 
With Jacobs tears coming to a near stop, we had another decision to make. It's totally his choice to, so I asked, "so bud, I do have a question for you." 
"Yeah?" He said as I wiped away his tears. 
"I think it's important to tell your brothers what's going on. I know it wouldn't be fair to surprise them, you know if you don't end up staying with me. But this is your decision, would you like to tell your brothers?" 
"Umm," Jacob sniffled. "Umm- yeah but can you tell them." 
"Want to do it together?" 
"Yeah," Jacob replied as he latched his arm around my waist. 
"Alright," I answered and continued to rub his back as the waterworks started to flow again. I couldn't even comprehend the emotions he's going through, and the only thing I could do is comfort, Jacob. After another few minutes of crying, Jacob was able to calm down enough so that we could go upstairs. I shut down his game system and then picked Jacob up to carry him upstairs. 
As I entered the family room, Clayton looked over in our direction and immediately knew something was wrong as Jacob was still lightly crying. As I placed Jacob beside Clayton, Clayton asked, "what's wrong Jacob?" 
"I... I..." 
"I'll tell you in a moment bud," I interrupted Jacob, as I was heading upstairs to get Lincoln and Ryker. I knew this wasn't going to be a fun task, but they deserved to know. I promised, I would tell them any important information. Once I reached the top of the steps, I knocked on Lincoln's door. He was writing in his journal, as Ryker was playing video games. The two were just chatting about random stuff, as they giggled back and forth between each other, that was until I knocked on the door and got their attention. "Hey boys, you have a second or two?" 
"Yeah?" Ryker answered as he tilted his head upward which basically cause him to be looking at me upside down. 
"So, I need ya both downstairs with me. Jacob and I have some information we want to share with you." 
"What's wrong?" Lincoln immediately assumed something was up. 
"Well just come downstairs with me, and we sit down as a family." 
"Okay?" Inquired Ryker as he set down the controller and stood up. "Is everything okay?" 
"Come on," I gestured to the door and then picked Ryker up to carry. 
"Why are you acting so weird," Lincoln said as I followed him out the doorway and down the steps. 
"I just have some information for you, and it's important to know, now let's go," I replied as we made our way to the family room. I sat Ryker down on the couch, and Lincoln took a seat beside Clayton. I made the decision to park it on the coffee table so all the boys could be looking at me. 
"Why are you crying, Jake?" Ryker said. 
"Yeah?" Echoed Lincoln with a concerned look on his face. 
"Umm," I started. "I don't know how much I have told you guys about Jacob's biological grandparents. To be honest, I was hoping that it never had to go this far and I could avoid this whole conversation. But uhh... I think we all deserve to know, that this Friday, Jacob might have to go stay with his grandparents for a little while. I don't know if it for certain or not-" 
"What do you mean stay? And what do you mean a little while?" Lincoln cut me off. 
"I mean that he may have to go live with them until I can win back the custody of Jacob. Right now, the state of Ohio, who is technically responsible for placing you boys in a home, has more control than me. As it stands, they believe that I am the best possible caregiver for you four right now. That's why you have all been living with me. However, the state of Ohio also likes to put family members together when tragic accidents like yours happen. Come Friday, two things can happen. One, the state is going to keep Jacob with us. Two, they will give Jacob to his biological grandparents." 
"That doesn't make sense," Lincoln fired back at me. 
"It doesn't make much sense to me either bud. I've been looking into it, and if the state deems his grandparents the custody rights, then my legal team is going after the state to contest the custody of Jacob." 
"Jacob isn't gonna live with us no more?" Clayton asked as he leaned his head on Jacob' shoulder. 
"I don't know kiddo. I wish I had more answers." 
"How do you not know?" Lincoln started, "you promised to protect us and keep us safe." 
"Yeah," echoed Ryker. 
"I know I promised," I replied as my heart was snapping in two. "And I'm sorry. I truly didn't think it would come down to this." 
"What does come down to this even mean?" Lincoln said as he was starting to get emotional. 
"Friday, people are going to their house to see if it's suitable for Jacob to live there. They are failed one time, but that was thirty days ago. They've had some time to make adjustments. If you remember Laura, I know we have her support, which is huge. However, that only goes so far." 
"You can't let them take Jake," Ryker said. 
"I will do everything in my power to stop it." 
"You're a liar," Lincoln spoke as he stood up and started to walk away. 
"Lincoln..." I called, "Lincoln we aren't finished talking." 
"I am," he fired back and continued to walk to his room. 
Turning my attention to the three boys still on the couch, "please ask me anything, if you have any questions." 
"I got one," Clayton chimed in.
"Yeah lil bear, go ahead." 
"So Jacob can still stay with us, right?" 
"Yes, that's still an option." 
"Well... I don't wanna think about the bad stuff, because-because umm, I think Jacob is going to stay here!" 
I couldn't help but crack a smile at his positive attitude. "That's uhh... not a bad way to look at it, Clay." 
"Yeah! Cause I think he is umm... gonna stay with us." 
"So do I!" Agreed Ryker. 
"Can-can we do something else?" Jacob spoke for the first time since sitting down.
"What do you have in mind?" 
"Anything," Jacob said as he crawled over me. 
"You wanna watch a movie, Jake?" Ryker asked as he started to rub his brothers back. 
"Ye... yeah," Replied Jacob as I held in I'm my lap. 
"Alright," I said and kissed the top of his head. "let's go get our showers or baths, and then we will come back down." 
"Can we use the big shower?" 
"Of course, now come on," I said as I began to stand up. We made our way for the master bathroom where the boys started shredding their clothes off. I turned the water on to warm up and then went to Lincoln's room to see how he was doing. Surprisingly he wasn't writing in his journal, but instead staring at the ceiling. As I made my way over to him, I could hear him sniffle. He had definitely been crying but tried to hide it as he quickly wiped his eyes. We didn't really say much, but I went over and sat on his bed. The moment I made contact with him, he leaped in my lap. 
"It's okay," I said as I rubbed his bare back. 
"Please don't let Jacob go," Lincoln replied. 
"I'm doing everything I can, kiddo, whether you believe me or not, I do not have much control. It sucks." 
"What if he doesn't get to stay?" 
"Then I fight for him." 
"But what if it doesn't work?" Lincoln mumbled as he still had his head buried into my stomach. 
"I... I haven't gotten that far. I'm still trying to take it one step at a time." 
"Do... do we go with Jacob?" Lincoln inquired. 
"Are you asking if Jacob has to go stay with them, then do you have to?" 
"No," I quickly responded as any answer wasn't a good one. I wasn't sure how he was going to respond because it was either separating Jacob from his brother or all of them going to live in a shitty environment. "How do you feel about that?"
"I... I don't know." Lincoln replied. 
"Hey," I began as I dug his head out to look at me. "Let's worry about this on Friday, okay? No sense thinking about what we can't control at the moment. Now umm, I know you probably aren't too happy with me, and I understand it... but I want you to go get a shower really quick. We are all watching a movie together, and I want you downstairs with us." 
"Okay," Lincoln answered and I wiped his tear away. He was hurting, you could tell in his eyes. "Can I shower in your room?" 
"The water is already running." 
"Okay," Lincoln said once again. 
"Come on," I stated as I started to stand up. Lincoln followed my lead but quickly stripped down to his birthday suit before leaving his room. 
Once the boys were showered, everyone got into their PJs or lack of PJs for Ryker and Lincoln. Jacob was wearing a shirt of mine and nothing else. Then Clayton wore PJ bottoms and a top. The movie choice was all up to Jacob. The night quickly turned into a family night, which was much needed. After going back and forth between three movies, and with a little help from Clayton, the selected film was Madagascar. We all gathered in the family room, and the boys grabbed blankets as I went to make popcorn. 
With two bags of popcorn microwaved, I made my way back to the couch. Taking my usual seat in the middle, I already had Lincoln throwing his legs over my lap and backing his bare bum up to my thigh. I already began my usual routine of scratching his legs. Ryker used my thigh as a pillow, and I would use my other hand to rub his chest and stomach. I noticed that Ryker had a tent forming that picked up the edge of the blanket which was supposed to be covering everything. It gave me a somewhat clear view of his boy bits. I also started seeing that Ryker was getting more and more erections. Although, he didn't seem to care... like at all. He didn't fully understand what they meant or what pleasure they could bring. To him, they were just funny things that happened to his body, and he was the one who was usually pointing it out to me. I did, however, move to just scratching the top of his head and hair. 
Jacob's mood was starting to turn around, at least for the moment. He was in between my legs and munching on popcorn as the movie went along. I wish I had another arm to give him some attention, but at the same time, he was laughing and enjoying where we were. Clayton was in his recliner, which has caused him to fall asleep the last two movies we watched. So I wasn't expecting him to make it long, but maybe I could be wrong.
All in all, this was much-needed family time again. However, we made it to the part where all the animals in the movie were starting to enjoy the zebra's homemade shelter on the beach. If you know the film, you know exactly what part I am talking about. As I was saying, we made it to that part of the movie when my cell started ringing. It caught me off guard, actually scared the boys and me as I wasn't expecting a call. I took a peek at the caller ID and saw that it was Berry. I couldn't miss it, so I, unfortunately, had to leave the warmth of the boys and go to the den. 
"Hello?" I answered as I shut the door behind me.  
"Garret, its Berry." 
"Hey... I've been waiting to hear from you man." 
"I know, and I apologize, it's been an interesting few days. But look, I know it's late, and I just want to get straight to it." 
"I'm all ears man." 
"Alright," Berry said. "So I'm going to be completely fucking open with you... I think we lost a lead. A big one too. It's nothing I've seen before... one moment I thought Rory and I were close to solving this fucking mess and next thing I know, suspect one disappeared. No rhyme or reason either. We've spent Monday and Tuesday retracing our steps, but we aren't even getting a cell phone ping anymore. It's like suspect one has gone dark. No voicemail or anything." 
"Whoa hold on wait, who the hell is suspect number one?" 
"We don't have a name or any information about the person. What we know is that this person is a male, elderly, and drives a beat-up chevy cobalt. I couldn't even get a fucking plate number or anything." 
"It's complicated." 
"Alright? Why do you think this is the guy?" I inquired. 
"When we first started scoping out the area, we initially focused our attention to the general store. It was odd, for a country bumpkin general store, this place was fucking busy. They have a constant inflow of people, but one thing was interesting. About 75% of those who had stopped in, did not have any groceries, bags, food, nothing. Rory and I thought it was maybe a coincidence, but day two, which was Sunday. We went back and scouted the general store again. Shit you not, more people were there, and more people didn't have anything to carry out. They left the same way they entered.... empty-handed." Berry continued to speak. "Two days in a row, it was like this. Coincidences don't fucking happen two days in a row. Not out in butt fuck nowhere, and nothing near this level of similarity." 
"Yeah, I'm following," I stated as I was pacing back and forth in my den. "I'm just waiting for such positive news here, ya know?" 
"I still need you to be caught up to speed. But I don't have too much good news for you Garret." 
"Uh huh." 
"Yeah so, Rory and I separately entered the store multiple times throughout the weekend. We claimed to be in construction, working on a project a few miles away. They knew we weren't locals, so we had to come up with something, so it wouldn't look like we were there to investigate. We wanted to see what was going on in the inside, but every fucking time we went to check it out for ourselves, we couldn't find anything. Now we, unfortunately, couldn't check the back room, so we still don't know what's going on, but we have an idea. On Monday morning, we saw a young gentleman walking into the store. He had a black backpack which we believe contains the drugs. He was in the store for over 5 hours, and all we could do was wait. When he finally left, he took the back exit to his car, carrying the backpack. We almost missed it, but thank Jesus, that Rory pointed it out as he pulled out of the parking lot. Here is when Rory and I split up. Hey stayed back to monitor the store as I went and trailed the car. It was about 10 miles down the road when he turned in to a secluded parking lot for a run down business that doesn't exist anymore. The parking lot was covered by fucking trees so I couldn't see much when I parked up the road, but I did notice one other car. That other car was the fucking Chevy Cobalt. Now I couldn't turn in either, or it would have looked obvious, so I had to keep driving and wait for them to leave. Thankfully it wasn't a long wait, our backpack guy was in and out. I decided to take a risk and follow the cobalt, which left about 5 minutes after the first guy. Now the fucking Cobalt driver was heading away from butt fuck nowhere, and towards civilization. I followed him for about 45 minutes, as he drove north and he pulled into another small abandoned looking building. Meanwhile, our black backpack person returned to the General store with no bag in site. He could have left it in his vehicle, but he didn't. He handed the bag off to the gentleman in the Cobalt. I saw the man enter this decrepit building with the bag." 
"You have any photos of this?" I inquired, "you know, of both gentleman?" 
"We have numerous photos of the fucker who enters and leaves the General store. Now suspect 1, who drives the Cobalt, we don't have clear photos of him yet. It was quite hard to snag a few while I was driving. I did, however, take photos of his car... I can send you all of this stuff, but you can't see a license plate. It's either missing entirely or resting on the back window ledge, and it's not coming up." 
"Yeah... please send all," I stated. "Now why do you think the Cobalt driver is our primary suspect? And how'd we lose him?" 
"A few ways, but the most likely case? He probably fucking saw me following and wanted to cease whatever activities he was doing, but you wanna know the odd part?" 
"The kid at the General store has not shown up there. But instead, he has shown up both Tuesday and Today at the abandoned parking lot where I believe he made an exchange with suspect 1. It's like he was waiting for our guy to meet, but he doesn't show." 
"Okay, so what? Like are you done with the search?" 
"Fuck no, like I said, I don't quit." 
"But what's the next step?" I Inquired. 
"Still to find this guy. I'm just giving you an update. Rory is running property searches on the places he stopped. Just have to wait and see what comes up." 
"What are the chances?" 
"I don't got a fucking clue." Berry responded, "but I have to go. Keep your phone by you, I'll let you know what's happening if we find anything out." 
"Alright," I said in a disappointed tone. "Keep me updated." 
"Yeah," Berry answered and hung up. 
"FUCK! I shouted as I threw my phone into the couch and paced back and forth. I feel like everything in my life is a fucking mess right now. Everything is crashing on top of me right now. It just keeps building, and I don't know when half the shit is going to stop. I have the custody battle, this ongoing private investigation, Ryker's bad dreams and possible dyslexia, Lincoln's multiple issues, and of course just general stress from the boys. Before heading back to the family room, I needed to take a moment. A few breathing exercises would do the trick, but just as I was about to start, I heard a knock on the den door. 
"It's me," returned a voice and I was pretty sure it was Lincoln. 
"Doors not locked bud, you can come in." 
"Oh... okay," Lincoln said as he poked his head in then came the rest of him. Thankfully he had the blanket wrapped around to cover his body. 
"What's going on?" 
"Is everything okay?" 
"Like with Jacob? Like.... was that a call for him?" 
"Oh! No, I would tell you if it was," I replied as Lincoln came and sat on my lap. 
"Who was it?" 
"Well," I began as I used my hand to comb his hair to the side. "It was people I have that our investigating your brothers and your case. Just trying to find out the main reason behind whatever happened to you." 
"Oh," Lincoln answered and rested his head on my shoulder. 
"Is Jacob gonna stay?" 
"Bud, I sure hope so." 
"Yeah so do I." Lincoln deeply exhaled. 
"You wanna talk about it?" 
"Umm... not really." 
"Anything you want to talk about in general?" 
"No... I just wanted to make sure everything was okay." 
"For the time being, everything is great," I replied and kissed his forehead. 
"Love you." 
"Love you too bud, now come on. Let's go finish the movie." 
"Okay," Lincoln answered and he began to get up off my lap. Once he was standing, I soon followed. We went back to the family room to watch the rest of the movie. Once it finished, the boys were heading to bed. With their rooms shut down for another night as the paint dried and the fumes left. I opened up my bedroom to everyone. Which ended up with all the boys sharing my bed with me. Nobody lasted too long as everyone was tired. It took me a few extra minutes as my mind started to wonder about everything, but I was able to quickly fall asleep too.

Part -5 

My phone started ringing, as my eyes opened up. I didn't even look at the clock, I instantly reached for my phone. It was berry, but I was confused to why he was calling. It was still dark out and everything, but I decided to answer as quietly as I could, so I didn't wake the boys. 
"Garret! Get the fuck out of your house." 
"They're coming, they found your address." 
"Wait what?" 
"You gotta leave. Get your boys and leave your house immediately!" 
"Berry what the fuck are you talking about?" 
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean for this to happen," Berry stated. "You gotta fucking get up and leave. Get the fucking kids and leave your house. They're coming, they're fucking on their way to your house. LEAVE immediately." 
"Who is?" 
"I'm sorry," Berry said and hung up. 
My heart was beating a hundred miles per hour. I mean fuck, I was barely awake, but I quickly started moving to my feet. The tone in Barry's voice frightened the hell out of me. I just started to wake the boys when I heard a knock on my front door... my heart stopped. My guns were in a safe downstairs, and I didn't have anything to protect the boys. I just knew I couldn't let them go through hell again. I had to defend them, but I wasn't sure how.
The next thing I hear is the glass brake, and numerous voices hollering. I couldn't even comprehend everything, but I made my way to the bedroom door and locked it. It wasn't even ten seconds later, I heard a loud banging on the door. 
They hit so hard that it woke the boys up, "who's that?" Lincoln inquired as they hammered the door again. 
"Boys get up and hide, go to the bathroom." 
"What?" Ryker answered. 
"Go!" I commanded as Lincoln started taking the boys from the bed. The door wasn't going to last much longer. 
"Garret," I heard Jacob cry out. 
"It's going to be alright," I said as I hushed them into the bathroom. 
"Lock the door, and call 911," I said to Lincoln and gave him the phone. 
"What about you?" 
"I love you boys," I replied as I shut the door and went back to the bedroom where the door finally caved in. 
"Where are they?" 
"Fuck you," one guy said as he pulled a gun out and fired at my chest. 
"Whoa!" I said as I shot up from my bed. "Boys..." I said as I was sweating and breathing a million miles per hour. I quickly counted the boys in the bed, to find them all okay and still asleep. I couldn't even comprehend what the fuck just happened. It was honestly the worst dream I've ever had. I couldn't even catch my breath, and I wanted to fucking cry. I couldn't believe that was a dream, but I was so grateful it was. I counted the boys one more time just to see that they were alright before I checked the time. It was 3:30 in the morning and I literally had to change my shirt as it was covered in sweat. I didn't consider laying back down as I didn't want to risk having that dream. It was too much for me to handle. I couldn't calm down either, my heart rate was still high. It felt like I was having a panic attack. I had to leave the room.
I made my way downstairs, and still, this dream shook me. I just sat on the couch and didn't know how to handle myself. Like I know it's was a dream, but it fucking petrified me. I was down on the couch for about ten minutes until I heard a voice. 
"Garret," Ryker called as he stood in the doorway. 
"Hey, buddy." 
"What are you doing?" 
"I... I had a bad dream buddy." 
"Oh," Ryker said as he walked over and sat on my lap. "Was it scary?" 
"Very," I chuckled as I kissed the top of his head. "But uh... why are you up?" 
"I heard you get out of bed," Ryker replied with a yawn as he closed his eyes and rested his head on my chest. 
"Ahh, just making sure I'm okay?" 
"Well I'm better now," I said and wrapped my arms around him to give Ryker a tight squeeze. "Love you so much!" 
"Lov... love you too," he mumbled as he started to drift off to sleep again. 
"Let's head back to bed," I stated and stood up with Ryker in my arms.
"Thanks for checking on me, bud." 
"Uh huh," he replied answered as he was basically sleeping. We went back up to my bedroom, and I tucked him in before crawling over to the middle. I was still a little shook, but I was getting better as Clayton rolled into me and his arm landed on my chest. I chuckled at him and then made sure the boys were all good before falling back asleep. 
I was up again at 8:30 in the morning. The boys were all still sleeping as I jumped in the shower. I still was freaked out by that dream, it just felt all too realistic, and I hoped it was a one-time occurrence. Anyhow, once I was dressed, I let the boys sleep as I went downstairs to chat with Rita. I told her my dream, and she agreed that it was petrifying.
Nevertheless, I put it past me for the moment and wanted to discuss plans with her. We didn't have too busy of a day, well at least the boys didn't. Even their skating lessons were canceled as everyone was taking a break. Meanwhile, my schedule was pretty full. I was meeting with Kelly and Keith to finally sign some paperwork and put Kelly to use. I also wanted to call my legal team to discuss everything they've been doing. At least in terms of formulating a plan if Thomas is approved and if they've made any more contact. 
Anyway, first in the list was to call Laura and just check in. Once I jumped in the S class, I called her over the speaker. She informed me how things would go tomorrow. They planned on sending someone to complete the evaluation at 8:00 am. Now we should get results pretty quick, especially if they failed because CPS is looking to make sure they accommodated Jacob's needs with another room. Now if we don't hear results, in say the first hour, it doesn't mean they passed. Everything has to be rechecked, so Laura assured me not to freak out if we don't hear from them in the morning.
Now I did ask what happens if they are approved, to which I did not like the answer. When Laura last talked to Thomas, if they are accepted, Thomas wants Jacob right away. Thankfully Laura already advised me that Friday wouldn't be the last official day. However, Thomas and Debra could have access to Jacob again which meant they could see him for lunch and what not. So the info she told me, didn't sound too good. The good part was if they failed the home inspection again, it would almost be impossible to get Jacob. Not without CPS backing, which is in my corner. So I guess she did try to keep a positive tone. Anyway, Friday morning was going to be rough.
Once off the phone, I pulled into the site location of our first building for the HLRJC foundation. Keith had arrived before me as we started to see our dream become a reality. Don't get me wrong, we were quite a few months away, but the building was coming to form. It was gutted entirely minus the support beams, the drywall that ran along the walls, and of course the stairways and elevators. We wanted to replace everything and make the building as ecologically friendly and green as we could. Not only would this help the organization grow, but it would also save us money in the long run. So we are replacing everything including the drafty windows and installing LEDs, any chance we get. Now the floors were basically empty, and the marking for each room was laid out. It was interesting to see, as our plans started to unfold in front of me. The water piping was close to completion, and next up was the electrical wiring. We wanted high-speed connection, so our local cable and internet provider were coming to vamp up the network and hopefully expedite the process. 
About midway through touring the building and chatting with some of the workers, Kelly arrived. Now I won't bore you with details, because well they are boring. We discussed a lot of information in regards to obtaining state permission to house children, background checks, and overall duties that Kelly would be responsible. We also toured the building, and I showcase the floor plans. We finished up in here future office where she had to sign a few documents. I mean this was indeed life changing for Kelly. She was finally about to be paid the salary she deserves to be paid, but it would be a tremendous, rewarding, and, hard work. I was happy for my sister, for my family, and most of all happy for all the children who we could potentially help. And to finish off the process, we agreed, and the contract was signed. Kelly was officially the COO of the HLRJC foundation! She instantly began scheduling meetings with those around, which included Keith. I couldn't be part as I had to run, but Kelly wanted a say in picking those around her. Which, I do understand.  She wanted people that she approved and that she trusted, so I liked that Keith and her went off to grab a bite to eat and discuss partners in terms of other executive positions. 
I, on the other hand, was on my way to meet my legal team. I was hoping for good news, but I wasn't sure. It didn't take me too long to arrive and be greeted by Jordan. 
"Hey," I said. 
"Hi," Jordan answered. 
"Any luck?" 
"None," Jordan softly replied as we walked in the building. 
"Yeah... I know it sucks." 
"Damn," I said as we walked in silence to the board room where everybody was waiting. "Hello, all." 
"Mr. Hamel," a few replied. 
"So, Jordan caught me up, which kinda sucks. I was expecting more... so tell me, who got ahold of them?" 
"No one has," stated one of the lawyers. "We've tried calling from different numbers, different times of the day and night, different everything. Thomas nor his wife have answered." 
"We left voicemails?" 
"Multiple," he replied. "He called back once, but hung up as soon as we mentioned you." 
"When was that?" 
"Umm Monday?
"The day doesn't really matter, but we have been able to focus our efforts elsewhere since the phones haven't been working," Jordan interrupted. "We've run numerous scenarios of how tomorrow will go. Obviously, we have prepared the most for Thomas and Debra getting approved and having custody rights. We still think we can win and keep Jacob with you, but it will be tough. Very tough and very dirty." 
"Dirty?" I inquired. 
"Well, I don't think they are going to play nice, especially with CPS backing their support for you. I believe they will take any action or course to win Jacob. They may try to accuse you of something. So why would we take the moral high road, if we know who and what our opponent has done before? Thomas will and already has thrown slanderous sentences out there." 
"I mean I don't know, seems like it could backfire on us." 
"I don't think it could." 
"Do we have evidence of it?" Inquired another man.
"Evidence of what?" Jordan said. 
"That they are in it for the wrong reason?" 
"Well besides the one on one conversation with garret and him? No, but it's something." 
"That's not much." 
"It's better than nothing though," Jordan spoke. "I think we could push the idea that they only want to have Jacob for financial opportunities?" 
"Alright," I said. "I'm a bit disappointed. We have one night to go, and it looks like we have absolutely nothing. Now I know y'all have been working hard and I appreciate it. But come on, what the fuck am I paying you all to do. I thought I was getting the best in the business."
"It's a tough case, Garret." 
"I know it's a tough case," I hollered as I stood up. "But we've had 30 days! 30 fucking days to figure something out besides slandering a name. Come on, for fuck sakes' get it together. We have a 7-year-old boy's future dangling in the air. I just don't understand how we have nothing... nothing at all.
"Garret," Jordan began. 
"He's right," spoke a usually quiet individual. "We have failed, but rest assure we will win this case." 
"How do you plan to do so?" I inquired. "Because I've heard that statement before." 
"Okay listen, I've been doing a lot of work in this field. When parents don’t leave a will which is what we have in this case. At least that's what we know, maybe there is a will, but nothing has been brought to our eyes. So no will... the court decides who a guardian of the child should be, based on the best interest of the child. In most cases, the court will want to move the child with someone that the child knows very well. Family members are usually preferred, but it's not a guarantee. The answer has been right in front of us the whole time. We bank on the idea that Jacob does not know the grandparents at all. We can even put this to a test if it comes down to it. Let Thomas and Debra prove they know more about Jacob than you. I dare them because it won't happen. We've been so caught up trying to sandbag Thomas and prove that he is in it for money that we forgot about the most basic answer." 
"What's your name?" I asked him
"I like it, but what if somehow they prove they know Jacob better than Garret?" Inquired Jordan who was playing devil's advocate.
"Let them try," Brian answered. 
"But they almost always put a child with family, we've seen it time after time," said another member on my team.
"Usually, when they at least know the child. In this case, Thomas and Debra only know Jacob's name and probably know his birthday. That's it, nothing else. I'll bet my life on it." 
"Look, I don't love that idea, but it's better than anything I've heard in the past fucking month. So just come up with something, if somehow your plan backfires here," I stated, "I just need to get out of here. Because if this is one of my last days with Jacob, I should be spending it with him. Not here." 
"Alright," they said as I was on my way to the door. 
"I'll call you all tomorrow with the results," I replied as I closed the door and walked out.  I was quickly followed out by Jordan who didn't look too happy with me. 
"What was that about?" 
"What?" I asked. 
"No need to go off on everybody like you did." 
"I'm just extremely stressed out at the moment, Jordan. I know you all are working hard for me, but it's just frustrating. It's like you said, it's a difficult case. One that you haven't seen before." I said as we stopped, "I just want more results, and no one is getting me any, it sucks." 
"I understand." 
"I... I don't think you really do. Because if we lose, then I am the one who has to face the boys and tell them I failed. I am the one who has to put back the pieces. I mean Jacob's life, which I promised to take care and help, could change tomorrow. He could be torn away from his brothers. You know, it fucking sucks. I... I just need to head home." I said and walked away "I'm sorry." 
"It's okay," I thought I heard her mumbled as I walked on. I could tell she wasn't too happy with me, but right now I didn't care.  I hate that everything is so unknown. I mean, I almost knew for sure that Thomas fixed up his house, but at the same time, there is some doubt. Maybe he fixed it up but didn't do enough to pass a home inspection. 
I had to put it behind me and just go spend time with the boys. Once I arrived home, I was bombarded by hugs that quickly turned to questions. I told them the truth, which everything was in the air still. Lincoln seemed the most distraught by it but put on a happy face for Jacob. I wanted to create a positive environment for everybody. So any negativity the boys threw my way, I deflected and turned towards positivity. 
So just as the movie choice went to Jacob last night, it was going to be his day to pick our activities. It started out playing a game of soccer, well passing around the ball at least. We did this for a few hours before heading back inside, where we caught our breath for a little and ate dinner. After dinner, we decided to go to the basement to play knee hockey and then we finished the night out in the hot tub. It was a fun way to spend the day for us, and the boys went upstairs to get showered and ready for a movie. 
I just walked back inside when I heard the scream of Lincoln. I didn't want to jinx him, but this was the first one in a few days for him. I knew a PTSD attack was coming, so I was ready for it. I shut the door behind me and made my way up to his room. 
When I got there, Lincoln was laying on his bed twitching as he usually did, the screams had stopped, but he still wasn't with it. I scooped him into my arms as I wondered what set the attack off. I assumed it was Jacob, but I noticed that his journal was open. I didn't want to invade his privacy but began reading the first few lines. 
"I made a big mistake, and I think I am in big trouble. Dad hit me so hard, and I wanna cry, but I am afraid he will hear me. I'm so stupid, I shouldn't have done it, I made a big big big mistake." The journal read, and I stopped. There were sentences below, but I didn't want to read it without Lincoln's permission. It wasn't worth losing his trust, so I shut his journal. 
He finally started to come back to his senses, and his eyes immediately darted towards the journal. 
"Hey," I said as I held him in my arms. "You okay?" 
"Umm... yeah, I... I uh, had another PTSD thing," Lincoln answered. 
"I could tell," I said as I combed his hair to the side. "First in a while, like four or five days." 
"I guess it has been a little while." 
"That's good," I chuckled as this PTSD attack was very different from others that he experienced. "You've been doing anything different?" 
"No... I don't know." 
"It's okay... know what triggered this one?" 
"My da... Frank again." 
"Why did you think about him?" 
"I don't know." 
"You know you can tell me bud, I won't judge you." 
"I know, I just... just don't want to think about it, again." 
"Hmm, was it something in your journal?" 
"No!" Lincoln quickly fired back as he started to get out of my arms.
"Alright, umm if you don't want to talk about it," I said. 
"Did you read my journal?" Lincoln questioned. 
"Honest truth? I did, but only the first sentence or two. It was open when I came up here. I shut it so I wouldn't read anymore." 
"Yeah, sorry about that." 
"It's okay," Lincoln replied as he reached for it. "You umm, want to read the rest of it?" 
"Only if you want me to, kiddo. I have a feeling it's what caused you to have another attack, and I would love to help you overcome it. 
"But if you aren't ready or if you aren't sure you want me to know, then it's okay. I will respect that." 
"You can read it... but only that page, okay?" 
"Alright, you want to read it to me?" I asked. 
"Okay," Lincoln said. "This is umm... you can just read it." 
"You sure?" 
"Yeah," Lincoln answered and opened the journal to that page. I could tell that he read through this specific note a lot. The journal seemed to automatically flip to that page. It must have been from him folding the cover behind the book, that it permanently put a crease in it.
"Okay," I said, and my eyes were glued towards the paper.
I made a big mistake, and I think I am in big trouble. Dad hit me so hard, and I wanna cry, but I am afraid he will hear me. I'm so stupid, I shouldn't have done it, I made a big big big mistake. He knows. Dad knows I like boys and I think I'm dead. Maybe it would be better if I was going to die and leave here forever. At least he wouldn't be able to beat me anymore. I hope Ezra is okay. All I did was kiss him, but I don't see what is wrong with it. Why did you have to see it, like why? I already got my butt beat from him, but he said it not over yet, and I would be dealt with later. I don't know what that means, but he is really mad. He called me a faggot, but I don't know what it means, but he kept saying it. I hate him, he doesn't care about me. Dad, you are mean and a piece of shit, I hate you, I FUCKING hate you. You probably wish I was dead. Like why can't you be nice to me, all you do is yell and hit me. I don't do anything wrong, and I don't know why you hate me. Sorry, I kissed a boy, but I like boys. What's wrong with it. I wish I could leave here and not worry about anything. No one would even notice, no one likes me anyway. I just wanna run away from here and never be found. But I can't leave, I'm too scared for my brothers though, what happens to them if I go. Maybe I can take them too. I hear dad coming, I need to hide this.'
After I finished reading it, I tried my best not to get angry at Frank. I mean the dude was straight dog shit, who could treat their own kids this bad. "Why did you have to hide buddy?" I asked as I closed the book and handed it to him. 
"Because Frank would have made fun of me and-and hit me." 
"I'm sorry bud," I stated as I wrapped my arm around Lincoln's shoulder. 
"It's whatever." 
"No, it's not. I'm so sorry you had to experience everything that's happened to you." 
"I just don't like to think about it." 
"If you don't mind me asking, why read it then?" 
"Because-because every time I get like mad at you, I read it, and it makes me think how much better it is here." 
"Mad at me?" 
"Well like with Jacob, it's stupid." 
"I know it is!" 
"Why can't you do anything then?" 
"Because I... I just can't Lincoln." 
"Do you not want Jacob?" 
"What? Why do you think that?" 
"Because Frank always said he was gonna give him away." 
 "Whoa, wait. Who would he say that to?" 
"Mommy didn't say anything back?" 
"No, she would like... laugh, I don't know." 
"Well that's awful kiddo, and I don't have any intentions of giving you boys away. You know, if it makes you feel any better, I yelled at my legal team for not doing enough to help Jacob, I even yelled at Jordan... So I promise you that I want to keep him. I just don't know what is going to happen. So many different things bud, and I wish I could promise that Jacob would stay here." 
"But you promised to keep him safe?" 
"I did, you're right. For the time being, he is safe, and he will be safe." 
"You don't know that, what if they like harm him?" 
I honestly didn't know the right response, but I said, "if they get Jacob, and if they harm him. Then I will promise you this. I will find them and make sure they are locked up in jail forever. But bud, I'm trying to think positively here. Let's think about good outcomes and wait to see what happens, okay?" 
"Okay," Lincoln mumbled as he wasn't satisfied with my response. 
Trying to change the conversation, I decided to flip the topic to him, "so I got a question!" 
"Who's Ezra?" 
"He's" Lincoln responded as his cheeks turned red. "Just someone who lived down the road from me. I umm... use to play with him in school, like during recess we would go to the playground and play tag." 
"Before coming to stay with me, did you see him a lot, you know, after Frank caught him and you?" 
"No... Frank wouldn't let us play together anymore. He would hit me if I did, and Ezra wasn't allowed over." 
"What about in school?" 
"They made us go to different classrooms." 
"Who did?" 
"I don't know, I just wasn't in his class no more, I was moved to a new teacher." 
"I'm sorry buddy, do you miss Ezra?" 
"Kind of." 
"Well, what if we had him come up here to hang out? You could show him your new house!" 
"I'm not allowed to see him anymore?" 
"Says who?" 
"Fra... wait, could he?" Lincoln asked as he started to get excited now. 
"Yeah, I just need to get ahold of Ezra's parents and ask them if it's okay!" 
"Okay!" Lincoln said as he gave me a hug. "That would be cool, Thanks." 
"Your welcome," I stated and gave him a kiss on his head. "Now go get showered kiddo." 
"Can you talk?" Lincoln asked. 
"Sure," I chuckled as Lincoln's underwear slipped off him. 
"Let's go!" He stated as he fiddled with his soft cock. We started our way to his shower, and I sat on the toilet as he jumped in the shower. We didn't talk about anything too serious which was a relief. It took him about 15 minutes from jumping in the shower to being dried off. 
Once he was ready, we met the rest of the boys in the family room for another movie night. It was an excellent way to end the day and wind down. Surprisingly none of the boys made it through the movie as they all fell asleep on the couch. I had too much on my mind and was hesitant because of that damn awful and terrible dream. Anyway, I did finally drift off, but I did not sleep right. I was up and down through the night and periodically checking my phone.

Part - 6

Friday, April 8th, 2016
I woke up super early, and to no surprise, Rita was already in the kitchen. 
"Figured you be up," she chuckled as she was grabbing me a coffee.
"Figured you be here," I quickly responded. 
"Yeah, what can I say. I'm nervous too." 
"Tell me about it," I remarked. 
"Oh, by the way. You need to look at Ryker," Rita laughed.
"Why?" I inquired. 
"Just go take a look," she said and pointed towards the couch. I let them all sleep in the family room as I didn't want to move them last night. 
"Oh dear lord," I laughed as I saw Ryker had fallen off the couch. The blanket fell too, but it landed before he did. So Ryker was laying on top of it, with the blanket wrapped around his chest. However, not all of Ryker had made it to the ground. His feet were still up on the sofa, so it left a pretty exposed boy. 
"I tried to cover him up... but he kicked that blanket off too." 
"Doesn't surprise me," I chuckled as I walked over and began to lift him back onto the couch. He began to wake, but it was for a brief second and fell back asleep. "Can you hand me the blanket?" 
"Sure," Rita replied. 
"Thank you," I remarked and then covered his body with it. 
"That boy is going to be breaking girls heart left, and right, you know that right?" 
"Yeah," I chuckled and then gave him a kiss on his forehead. 
"You know these boys are lucky to have you," Rita commented as I stood up and we walked back to the kitchen area. 
"I think it's the other way around." 
"Maybe a little," Rita laughed as she and I continued to talk. It's was definitely helpful to have her around, especially right now. She was keeping my mind off of Jacobs situation. However, I did bring the mood down again. I brought up Ryker's parent-teacher meeting the other day. Similar to me, Rita didn't quite think he had it but also didn't know enough to judge on it. But in general it was, we kept the conversation light, which helped me out a lot. 
Around 8, when the home inspection was beginning, the boys started to wake up. Thankfully they weren't asking about Jacob yet, but I knew it was coming. 
Around 9, we were still waiting for a phone call, and that's when Lincoln first asked me if I knew again. I think he was more nervous than Jacob. 
Around 10, I still hadn't heard anything, and I started to become worried. 
Around 11, I was in full freak-out mode, at least on the inside. My outside appearance was calm and collected, well at least that's what I wanted to project. Not sure if I was, but it's whatever.
Around Noon, we had no phone call, and I started fearing that they had passed and were doing the paperwork. All the positive thoughts were gone, and my head became filled with negativity. The waiting game was slowly fucking killing me. 
Around 1, that phone finally rang. 
"Hello?" I answered. 
"Hey Garret, a good time to talk?" Laura asked. 
"Been waiting since 8:30 to talk," I replied. 
"I mean you away from the boys?" 
"Okay," Laura said as she took a deep breath. "Things just can't be simple. So, they no-showed. Thomas and Debra were not at their house." 
"What? Are you fucking with me?" 
"What the fuck does that even mean? Like do they fail?" 
"Technically yes, but if they claim to miss the appointment for an emergency reason, that they had to leave their house. Then I would be obligated to give a makeup date." 
"No this is bullshit. You can't let me and the boys go through this any longer." 
"Look. I have no idea what's going on. They haven't picked up their phones, and their vehicle is in the driveway, and we've been out there for 4 hours knocking on the door. Everything is in limbo right now. I have pulled everyone back, and as of right now, I have failed them."
"So what does that mean?" 
"It means you have the custody still." 
"But do I lose them if they call you back?" 
"They better have one damn good reason," Laura remarked. "Oh... I'm getting a call, I need to answer this. It's about your case. I will give you a ring after." 
To Be Continued...

Author Notes:

Hey Everyone, thank you for reading this chapter! Hopefully I can have 26 out quicker than 25, but I'm not making any promises. As always, I enjoy hearing feedback, good or bad! Author credit to Roseman for the short journal entry!

!!!CHECK OUT Imagine Magazine by Comicality. Great person to know and a wonderful idea he has started that is released once a month. Imagine hosts stories, author interviews, cool articles, life tips, and much more that are geared towards the LBGTQ community. I had the opportunity to be interviewed by comicality, which you can check out here --> I am featured in volume 40 addition, and I highly recommend checking out the site!!!
Thank you for reading and following the story! Always enjoy hearing from readers!
Third and final, the destinations, streets, events, and locations are made up. I use Columbus as a nearby city, but I'm unaware if the addresses listed are real or not. All scores and games are made up in my head. However, most teams are real.