Three Finger Cove: Matthew ~ Book Five

Chapter Eight

At the end of school, Matthew met up with his 'brothers' at the Bus Stop. As they loaded into the bus, the older boys explained they took the same bus number each day to and from school. That it was easier to learn one number than a bunch and get confused. Matthew thanked them for telling him that.

As they rode the bus back to The Cove, the twins asked Matthew about his day and if anyone teased him about what Kevin spilled last week. Matthew told them that no one had said anything to him about his back, but that it was his first day and many didn't get the chance to talk to him.

When the five Cover lads arrived back home, they immediately walked into the Kitchen Nook so Momma Maria could serve them their after school snack. Matthew was surprised at what the woman had ready for them. He never knew about after school snacks since his mom never served them to him. Now, here was the woman, who cooks their meals, making three different types of cookies and serving them with very cold white or chocolate milk.

When the five boys finished their snacks, they all hugged Momma Maria. When it came time for Matthew to hug the woman, he held it longer than the others. When he let go of the hug, the lad looked up to Momma and thanked her, not only for the cookies and milk, but for the hugs as well. They both smiled at one another.

The five lads then headed to the Study to talk to their 'dad'.

"There's my growing brood of boys," teased Mr. Ken, as the boys came into the Study to talk to 'dad' Ken.

"So, Matthew, let me start with you first. How did your day go?" asked Mr. Ken.

"Well, I made a new friend. His name is Noah, Noah Allenbee. His older brother is Dylan and he knows Charles. They've both been here before with their family when they came to the Labor Day Picnic. Dang, after hearing everything about that picnic, I wish I had been here for that. I also made another friend. Her name is Bailey Bracen. Her brother is Tyler and is another one of Charles' friends," revealed Matthew.

"Oh, a girl for a friend. That's a first for any of my 'boys'. So, tell us how you met her?" asked 'dad' Ken.

"Yuk," voiced Kevin. "We don't like NO girls!"

"Kevin, I told you once before that the way you say that means that you DO like girls," spoke up Robert.

"Well, you know what we mean," replied Kevin, who then stuck his tongue out. That caused everyone to laugh out loud.

After everyone stopped laughing, Matthew continued to tell how he met Bailey.

"Well, after the lunch bell rang, she came over to me out in the hallway and introduced herself to me. She seems like a nice girl. She sat with me, Noah, Brant and Ryan at lunch. We talked about the Labor Day Picnic some, but then the guys started talking about the skateboard ramps and how well we do. It was then she left us.

"She wasn't pushy as some girls like to be by taking over the conversation and wanting to be the center of attention. She did try to get me to tell her where I lived, but I didn't at first. I didn't have to. She guessed it just before the after lunch bell rang. She agreed not to talk to anyone about where I live though.

"It was Noah who first guessed that I lived here. I think he figured it out from what Brant, Ryan and I were talking about because he asked me if I was living here. The same goes for Bailey. Her older brother knew about me and when I told her that and I asked her if she would keep my secret she asked me if I lived here. Both of them agreed not to talk to anyone about my living here until everyone else finds out," replied Matthew.

"Well, 'son', it isn't that big of a secret you're living here, but I am glad you are trying to protect that information. The kids will eventually find out and don't be surprised when they come up to you and ask you. If Noah and Bailey can figure it out from what you were talking to them about the rest will eventually, too.

"Now, Matthew ... have you thought of what you're going to tell them when they figure out you are the Matthew Kevin and Kyle were talking about? And, have you thought about what you are going to tell them when they ask about your back?" asked Mr. Ken.

"Well ... if they ask I won't lie to them. I'll tell them up front that I am the boy Kevin and Kyle talk about last week. As for them asking me about my back, I'll just tell them that my back was hurt and they are putting some gel on it and it is healing. I might even ask them if they want to see my back. NOT!" laughed Matthew.

"That's good 'son', you at least won't be caught off guard if and when someone asks you either of those two questions. I'm proud of you and the way you're handling all of this. Now, what about your school work? Did Ms. Jacobs give you lots of make-up school work to do?" Mr. Ken wanted to know.

"Yes, sir, she did. I have my regular homework to do plus she gave me stuff they worked on at the beginning of school. She told me to get as much done as possible and not to stress myself over it. She told me that with me doing both sets of homework I should be caught up by Christmas. Boy, I sure hope so. I don't want to repeat 5th grade," said the smiling ten year old.

Mr. Ken talked to his other lads to find out how their school day went and after hearing what they had to say he shooed them off to get their homework done.

The Covers had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. Momma Maria told her boss that the meal is comfort food for young boys and she wanted to make Matthew as comfortable as possible since he came to The Cove unlike his other 'sons' did.

For desert, Momma Maria had made a fruit salad consisting of blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, red grapes and cool-whip all mixed into a big bowl. She made something like that once before and it was a big hit with everyone. She hoped Matthew would like it just as well as the others had.

"Thank you Momma Maria," started Matthew, "How'd you know I liked spaghetti and meatballs and a thick meat sauce? And that desert, I don't ever remember eating something like that. I love all those fruits and you made it into a nice desert. Thank you!" said smiling Matthew, who then hugged the woman for all his worth.

The other lads voice their thanks to Momma Maria for what she cooked for them that night and they all hugged her as their way of personally thanking her. Even Mr. Ken gave Momma a hug and a whispered 'Thank you' as well.

After dinner, the youngest Cover want back up to his room to continue to work on his assigned homework. Kyle stopped by to ask him if he needed any help with any of it and then stayed to talk with his friend while the youngster worked in his books.

At eight o'clock, Mr. Ken went up to Matthew's bedroom to talk to the lad and to tell him he worked enough on his school work and he needed to relax some before bedtime. Matthew smiled at hearing that and got out of his chair and hugged the man. The two then sat on the boy's bed and talked some more. Mr. Ken used that time to get to know his newest foster son better.

It was almost 9 PM when the owner of The Cove sent his boys to bed. They had talked about which boy had what appointment that week and he gave Kyle some good news. He told the younger twin that Doctor Rick said he'd take the cast off that Thursday and for the boy to take it easy for the next two weeks and not break it again. Everyone laughed at hearing that.

Mr. Ken also told Matthew that he'd meet Doctor Doug Wednesday night just before dinner. The owner of the Cove told the youngster that he wanted them to meet on familiar grounds before the lad begins going to the doctor's office for his weekly appointments.

Robert added that Doctor Doug likes getting a home-cooked dinner, since he's still single and the only time he gets one is when his dad invites him over. The rest of the boys chimed in with their own stories of meeting the man. In the end, they all had good things to tell Matthew so he wouldn't be afraid to meet him.

When the five boys went up to bed, Matthew asked Kyle to put the gel on his back. Kyle was happy to do that for him and the two talked. That night, only Chief slept in the same room as the newest Cover.

The following morning, Mr. Ken got out of bed at his regular time. Well, regular for when the boys had to get up and go to school. He put on his lounging shorts and t-shirt before putting on his crocks to cover his feet. That morning he also added a light jacket as in that now in early November the mornings the air is much cooler than in October.

Momma Maria was arriving at the same time as the owner of The Cove went outside to retrieve his morning newspaper. They each waved at one another and Mr. Ken hurried back into the warmth of the house.

The man hung up his jacket and then got his first cup of coffee out of the machine that was set to automatically make it that morning. The man set his paper and the coffee cup down at this favorite seat and then sat down. As soon as he took his seat, he took his first sip of the very hot coffee then proceeded to slide the paper out of its protective sleeve. He wasn't prepared to see what the headline was that morning.


Disgraced Judge
Commits Suicide

Mr. Ken immediately put down his coffee cup and anxiously read the article. He discovered the disgraced judge, Randolph Terryman, an Adult Trial Court Judge, who was arrested in his own chambers back in the spring, had committed suicide late Sunday night. Mr. Ken read they didn't discover the judge had taken his own life until the housekeeper entered his home late Monday afternoon. The newspaper reported that sources close to the investigation revealed the judge had left a suicide note before he placed a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

As Mr. Ken read the article, he also learned the disgraced judge had admitted he was involved with a number of young boys and was involved with the group of men who were just recently arrested in an adjoining county. The article went on to say their sources told the reporter of the judges confession to molesting the boys and that he also named the masterminds who established the local and the adjoining county's young male prostitution and pornography ring.

Mr. Ken continued to quickly examine the article looking for names of the men involved and if any of the boys' names had been released or printed in the newspaper. By the time he finished reading the reporter's piece, he was very happy to see that none of the adults nor boys names had been released or at least hadn't been printed as of that morning's edition.

Mr. Ken sat back and gave a sigh of relief that his lads were at least safe for now. He hoped the suicide note would be good enough to convict the men whose names were identified in the judge's message. He knew all he could do was wait until late that morning before he could call his friend Dan Fischer to see if he could find out any additional information.

The owner of The Cove heard the boys coming towards the Kitchen Nook as Chief's paws were clicking on the tile. Mr. Ken decided to hide the article from the boys and if they wanted to know where his morning paper was he decided he'd lie to them.

"Good morning, dad!" said Robert, as he went over to his new dad and hugged him.

"Good morning 'dad'," also said Charles, as he too hugged the man.

The twins each called out to him either 'dad' or 'Dad Ken', but they both went over to the man and hugged him.

Matthew was the unknown that morning. The lad had watched what his 'brothers' had done and knowing he liked the hugs he'd freely gotten ever since arriving at The Cove, he rushed over to Mr. Ken and hugged him close. "Thank you for taking me in, Mr. Ken. I don't know where I'd be if it weren't for you and Kyle helping me. I hope I can stay here."

"Matthew ... you are welcome to stay here ... as long as you want or until a relative appears and decides he or she wants to raise you until your mom is allowed to do that again. But, in the meantime you are still a Cover with all the rights and privileges earned by that tile," said Mr. Ken, to reassure the lad he was wanted and loved. Matthew broke out into tears and hugged the man as tight as he could.

The other boys, as well as Momma Maria, heard what the owner of The Cove said to the boy and when the lad broke out of the hug they all applauded. That put a big smile on the tear-streaked face and all Matthew could do was continue to smile.

"OK, mi ninos ... what's dos youse wants to eats thees mornings. Wees don'ts haves lots of times sos quiklies tells Momma," announced Momma Maria.

The boys all agreed to let her choose what to cook and they'd eat it. Momma always gets to The Cove early in order to get breakfast started, so all she has to do it quickly put in on the stove and cook it. Today, she had pancake batter and cooked bacon ready. She quickly began to cook the pancakes as she also reheated the bacon strips. She then asked Robert to get his 'brothers' something to drink and they would be eating in no time.

The boys ate heartily that morning and it would be their own fault if they left the kitchen table hungry. Momma did a simple breakfast that morning and the boys thoroughly enjoyed it. Even Mr. Ken dug in and ate more than he usually would because the pancakes were so good. When he asked Momma what she did to them to make them so delicious, she told him she added some vanilla and honey to the batter.

As the boys got ready to head up to the Bus Stop, Mr. Ken called Robert aside.

"Robert ... in this morning's paper ... it was reported that Judge Terryman ... that he committed suicide. They also reported he named the names of the men who ran the local and the adjoining county's young male prostitution and pornography rings. Robert, I want to reassure you that they never printed any of the adults or young boy's names.

"Son, when I get the chance, I'll call Dan later this morning to see if he can give me more information. I wanted to tell you in case there is some talk at school, so you'll know how to act. OK?" said the teen's dad, as he hugged the boy close.

Robert thanked him for telling him that and he said he'd just play it cool if anyone talked about it at school. The other boys had called to him as they went out the Foyer door, so Robert knew he needed to hurry up to catch the bus.

Wayne Mitchell arrived at The Cove about the same time Chris Dominions did that Tuesday morning. The two men each grabbed a hot cup of coffee and headed to the Study where they knew their employer was.

"Good morning men, please come in," said Mr. Ken, as the men arrived outside the Study.

"I suspect you heard about this morning's big story, that Judge Terryman killed himself. What you both probably don't know is that information can possibly have ramifications here at The Cove," announced Ken Thomas.

Both men looked at one another not knowing what Mr. Ken meant by his statement. Mr. Chris, being curious, asked him to further explain.

"Guys ... what I am about to tell you both has to stay within these walls. Can I trust both of you to keep what I am about to reveal to you close to your vest and not discuss it with anyone. And that mean spouses or significant others. Will you agree with my request?" finished their boss.

Both men verbally agreed to their employer's request. It was then Mr. Ken told his two employees his story.

"Chris, Wayne ... I think you need to know how Judge Terryman's death could affect us here at The Cove. ... ... Guys ... I paused there to get my thoughts together. Judge Terryman ... he had some contact with Robert back when the boy was around ten to eleven years old. Their contact ... was not in Robert's best interest. But the boy ... he had no choice, but to do what they did together.

"Robert's dad ... he used his son ... to make money. That was so he and his wife's lives could be better than ever. The judge was one of the men who used and abused Robert," announced Mr. Ken, who then showed tears dropping from his eyes.

Chris and Wayne were flabbergasted at hearing what they were just told. They had no idea why Robert was in the foster care system, and now here they were being given the major reason for it. The two men had questions, but decided to let Mr. Ken compose himself before asking them.

But Mr. Ken wasn't finished with his story.

"Guys ... that is not the half of it. The twins ... their dad was also one of the men ... who used and abused Robert. But it doesn't end there. Mr. Parchsons also ... he also used Kevin for the same purpose that Robert's dad used him. It seems that Parker Parchsons ... he was a client of Robert's dad and when Frank Harrison, Robert's dad, was arrested, it seems he took over the franchise.

"Robert's dad, and his wife, were both arrested and instead of making Robert testify in court against them, they both agreed to plea bargains. Angela Harrison accepted a plea bargain and was given a sentence of 7 to 10 years, in prison, with the possibility of parole after 5 years, with good behavior. She also relinquished her claim on Robert.

"As for Frank Harrison, he was given a sentence of 20 to 25 years in prison, which he also accepted, in exchange for his testimony against the men he made Robert go with. As I mentioned, Judge Terryman was one of those men. Frank Harrison also relinquished his claim to his son, Robert. When none of Robert's relatives wanted to take care of the lad, that was when I had my lawyer, Bill Jackson, file with the courts for me to adopt the teen.

"I'm sure you have tons of questions but, please, let me finish. The twins know that their dad was arrested for doing that what he did with Kevin and a bunch of other boys was against the law. They also know what happened to Robert, but I'm not too sure if they suspect their dad's involvement with my son.

"The twin's mom is now being investigated for being an accomplice with her husband. The twins don't know that, yet, but ... but it is just a matter of time before Vivian Parchsons is either arrested or released, but either way, the twins will probably remain here until at least the end of the school year."

When the Cover's arrived at their school, their friends gathered around them and they all headed off to their own 'corner' of the schoolyard.

When Matthew and his three new friends arrived at their small section of the schoolyard, Bailey came over, too. Matthew smiled when she arrived and when his male friends saw his smile they nudged one another and chuckled.

"Hi, Bailey, did you and your brother talk about me last night?" asked the smiling Cover.

"No, we didn't. Why would you think that?" asked a somewhat irritated Bailey.

"Chill, Bailey," spoke up Brant. "He was teasing you. Didn't you hear it in his voice? I know I sure did," defended Matthew's new friend.

"Ohh, sorry Matthew. I ... I'm just upset ... about something," said Bailey.

"Well, if you can't fix it ... maybe we can help?" offered Matthew.

"Naw, I bet you can't fix this," said Bailey.

"Well, let's talk about it, then. That way you can at least get a few ideas from us, so you know what you could do," proposed Matthew.

It was then that a bunch of 5th-grade girls passed by the small group and one of the girls said to Bailey, "We see you're now hanging out with this bunch of prepubescent boys instead of hanging out with us women. Yeah, we saw you yesterday eating with the new kid and these other boys," said Brooklyn. "Maybe you're turning out to be a butch instead of a woman!" That said, the girls walked away with smiles and laughs on their faces.

"Is that what you are upset about?" asked Matthew. "Are they forcing you, bullying you, to be like them? I bet my 'brothers' can help us, I mean you. Come on, let's go looking for them."

The five 5th graders went first looking for Charles. When they found him, Matthew told him what he heard was said to Bailey. Charles and his friends listened intently and they knew exactly about what they were telling them. It was Tyler, though, Bailey's older brother, who decided he was going to try to help his sister out. The 7th graders then talked about Charles' and Richard's run in with Leah and how she had a number of girl followers.

Charles then suggested they talk with his older 'brother' Robert, saying he had his own run-ins with a bunch of girl cliques and may have a better perspective as to what Bailey can expect. So, they went and found the teen.

The group explained to Robert what was happening to Bailey. Robert told the younger students how a clique of girls tried to bully him and then told them he was surprised at what was happening to Bailey, but only in reverse. Tyler spoke up and asked the teen for some ideas to help his sister. But before Robert and his friends could answer the 7th grader, the first bell rang and they all had to head inside the school.

While the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders talked, the girl who verbally accosted Bailey, and her followers, were all watching them. Brooklyn Sippelle wished she could have listened in to what the boys were talking about, but she was too far away to make anything out. The girl knew about what happened to Robert as she'd heard about it from her sister's girlfriends. She also knew that Leah Hoalmes had wanted Charles to be her friend, but had turned against him when he rejected her.

Brooklyn loved hearing the stories about what her sister's friends did and how they told her they ruled the school. Brooklyn thought she could do as good as or even better than 8th grader Joanna Schwimminger and 7th grader Leah Hoalmes and could rule the 5th grade with her friends. She just needed to figure out how she could get all the girls to follow her. When the first bell rang she headed into the school like everyone else.

Over at The Cove, the three men were in deep discussion. Momma Maria knew they had been in the Study for quite some time, so she made a hot pot of coffee and gathered some of her sweet cakes and wheeled them to the Study door. She saw it was closed, so she lightly knocked.

Wayne answered the knock and seeing it was Momma Maria looked over to Mr. Ken and told him Momma had coffee and sweet cakes for them. Mr. Ken smiled and told his new employee to have Momma bring them in.

"Iss knows youse ares bussies, buts Momma tinks youse alls needs a brakes, soss Momma brings tyou some refrigerios, ahh refreshments, no? Anysways, I made freshes coffrees and brings youse some ofs Mommas reals buenos sweets cakes," said Momma Maria.

Mr. Ken thanked the woman for thinking about them and told her that he, Chris and Wayne really appreciated how she took care of them all. The owner of The Cove went up and got himself a cup of coffee and a sweet cake and then gave a shoulder hug to the woman for what she did. Momma Maria left the room with a huge smile on her face.

As the men drank their coffee and ate part of their sweet cakes, Mr. Chris spoke up and asked, "Mr. Ken ... what you just told us is horrifying to say at the least, but ... well, what is it that you want us to do for you? We have no direct interaction with the boys so ..."

Mr. Ken stopped Chris there. "Chris ... I wanted you to know all of this because ... well, if this ever hits the fan we may have to increase our security posture around here. ... Wayne ... the boys know you are my right-hand man and they may want to talk to you about all this when and if the need arises. I am hoping that all of this won't make the light of day, but I don't know how much the news reporters know and if what they know, or suspect, whether they will print it or not.

"Guys ... for the time being we need to act as if nothing is going on behind the scenes. I did tell Robert about Terryman's suicide, but I kept it from the other boys. My son knew Terryman, so I thought he needed to hear what the man did.

"And speaking of Judge Terryman, the newspaper reported he left a suicide note and named names. They didn't report out any of those names, but if Frank Harrison or Parker Parchsons names appear we may need to go into a pro-active mode. I plan to call Dan later to see if he can find out what was in the note and let me know what I may have to do to protect Robert and the twins.

"Oh, and by the way, Judy Turner already knows about Robert and Kevin's situation, so if she says or mentions anything about it to you please don't be surprised. She probably won't, but if I am not here and she can't get a hold of me she may talk to you and most likely you Wayne.

"I'm sorry to dump all this on you but ... I think you both understand that if the boy's names get out their lives could become very miserable and this place will be crawling with reporters. All we can do for now is... is hope and pray their names never appear in print. I'll let you guys get back to your work and I'm going to call Dan,"

Chris got up from his chair and walked out of the Study. Wayne just sat there. Mr. Ken looked over to his new hire and asked him why he was still there. Wayne chuckled and then told him his only responsibility was to take care of the boys and since they weren't there he had nothing to do.

Mr. Ken sat there for a few moments and then laughed out loud. Then, he told his new employee that he could be checking the school calendar and making some phone calls to decide where he got the better deal for the Holiday Trip. The two men had a good laugh over that. Then the owner of The Cove started to make his phone calls.

"Hello, Dan?"

... ...

"Yeah, I called to ask you for some information. Do you have the time to talk?" asked Mr. Ken.

Wayne couldn't hear Dan's reply, but figured the lieutenant had some time to talk as Mr. Ken picked up the conversation.

"Dan, with the judge's suicide and his supposedly naming names I'm wondering ... well, I was wondering if Robert's and the twins' dads names are on the list. I just talked to Chris and Wayne about the boys' situations concerning their dads and what could potentially happen if the two names get out into the public domain. So, Dan ... can you help me out here? Can you tell me if either or both of those names are on the list?" finished Mr. Ken.

Mr. Ken listened to his friend's reply. Mr. Wayne heard a lot of "Uh huh's" and "Ok's" coming from his employer's mouth, but still had no idea of what the two men, and good friends, were talking about.

The conversation got a bit heated with Mr. Ken trying to get Dan to tell him what he wanted to know, but Wayne figured Dan was reluctant or didn't know the answer to Mr. Ken's questions. When the phone call was terminated, it sounded to Mr. Wayne that the two men were still on speaking terms.

"Well, I guess you heard my end of the conversation. The bottom line, though, is Dan doesn't really know since he isn't in the investigation division. He told me he'd call Lt. Matthias to see if he could find out anything about the suicide note. Dan told me that since it just happened they would hold their cards close to their vest for a while. You heard me ask him to try to get them NOT to release the names of the men involved.

"Dan said he couldn't promise anything, but would talk to Matthias and Barnes and see if they'd listen. But you do understand that there are a few other people who have access to the information and they could leak it to the press for money," explained Mr. Ken.

Mr. Wayne then exited the Study to go to a computer to check the school calendar and then make a few phone calls himself.

When the lads came home from school, Matthew ran to the Study to tell Mr. Ken about what happened in the schoolyard today. The other boys quickly followed and tried to get the youngest Cover to get his snack first and not upset Momma Maria before bothering 'dad' Ken. But, Matthew would have no part in that and walked into the Study.

"Mr. Ken, Mr. Ken ... remember me tell, oh, hi Mr. Wayne, ahh, remember me telling you about my new friend, Bailey. Well, out in the schoolyard today some older girls ... they came over to her and spoke real mean to her. They were upset she was hanging out with me, the new kid, instead of them. I think they also called her a B-I-T-C-H instead of a woman. I didn't understand that part.

"Well, when I found out Bailey was upset over it, we all went over to Charles and his friends. Bailey's older brother, Tyler, was there and he said he'd protect his sister. I thought that was great that he'd do that for her as Robert and Charles said they'd do for me.

"Then Charles had us walk over to Robert and his friends because Charles said he had some experience with girls that said those things. Robert told us what the girls in his class did to him and Logan and suggested that was happening to Bailey, but only in reverse. We talked about what to do, but the after lunch bell rang and we didn't get to decide anything.

"Mr. Ken ... you said something about things happens to the kids who live here at Three Finger Cove. But, but this time it happened to one of my friends, and not directly to me. 'Dad' ... what can I do to help her?" asked Matthew.

Mr. Ken thought about what Matthew just told him, but he figured the boys had come directly to the Study and hadn't had their after-school snacks. So, he sent them to see Momma Maria for their snack and told them he'd think about it. That wasn't what Matthew wanted to hear, but he knew the man was right so, begrudgingly, he went with his 'brothers' to the Kitchen Nook to get their snack.

"Wayne, I'm not sure you know this or not but when Collin lived here he was attacked at school and at the waterpark. Robert was also attacked in school and at the same waterpark. Charles has this one girl causing trouble for him now and his friend Richard who was attacked at school by one of the girl's older male friends.

"The twins haven't had anything major happen to them, other than almost being kidnapped, and now it seems that a friend of Matthew is being singled out because she now hangs with Matthew and he's only been to school two days. Also, my bet is those girls called Bailey, a butch, not a bitch, because she was hanging with the boys and not the girls. Welcome to Three Finger Cove and the trials and tribulations of its boys. Are you still wanting to be a part of this ... this sort of madhouse?" chuckled Mr. Ken.

Mr. Wayne smiled and said he was intrigued by all the things he's learned that have happened to the boys. He added that, if and when he gets to work with Children's Protective Services, being exposed to these 'trials and tribulations', as his boss called them, he'd have a much better perspective when dealing with the boys and girls in the CPS system. Mr. Wayne told his employer, Mr. Ken, that he wasn't going anywhere unless his boss said he didn't need him anymore.

When the boys finished their snacks, they hugged Momma Maria as they usually do. And, again, Matthew held the hug longer than his 'brothers' did. He relished the feeling of warmth and love emanating from the woman, since he hadn't received many hugs from his own mother.

When the boys left the Kitchen nook they headed to the Study to talk to Mr. Ken about the issue Matthew brought up to him, but Mr. Ken had other ideas. The owner of The Cove told the boys to head up to their rooms and get their homework done and they'd talk about Bailey and how to help her after dinner.

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