The Covers fought to stay in bed for as long as they could. They all lost.
Mr. Ken did get up later than usual, but it was still 8:35. He'd only gotten about 6 ½ hours of sleep after his mind finally shut down and allowed him to sleep. When he did awaken, he did his usual bathroom visit to relieve the pressure in his bladder, brush his teeth and then put on his running shorts and nylon shirt. Today, he put on the new things his 'sons' gave him for Christmas.
Mr. Wayne slept in until 9 a.m. He cleaned himself up before going down to the Kitchen Nook. When he arrived he got out a clean coffee cup, filled it up from the pot of fresh coffee his boss had made with his automatic coffee maker and then sat down.
"Morning, Wayne," offered Mr. Ken, who was reading over his morning newspaper. It had been a slow night and all the paper was talking about was what the New Year should bring to the area in jobs and new businesses.
"Good morning, Mr. Ken. That sure was one hell of a Party last night. But you know what? I am grateful it is all over. These last two weeks have been a ball buster, that's for sure. I'm sure glad I'm young. Not sure how someone who is much older could deal with all that hustle and bustle," said Wayne Mitchell.
Mr. Ken smiled behind his newspaper. He inwardly agreed with the man and told himself he'd likely do it a lot differently next year. If he lives that long. Then, he laughed at himself.
The Cover boys were also up at 9 a.m. Although they remained in their beds until their bladders won out, they hurried to the bathroom to relieve the pressure and then brushed their teeth. They discussed getting their showers and hoping they could go out for breakfast or just going down to see what they could get from the freezer. Showers won out.
It was 9:30 when the boys went downstairs. When they entered the Kitchen Nook they saw their 'dad' was still in his morning lounge around clothes, but Mr. Wayne was clean and dressed.
"Dad, will you take us out for breakfast?" asked the man's son
"Our friends aren't coming over until one, so we have lots of time to go, eat and return," added Charles.
"So, 'dad', will you?" simply asked Matthew.
Mr. Ken didn't respond, so Mr. Wayne said he was ready and he'd take them. The boys were all smiles. They each got a light jacket and met Mr. Wayne in the garage where they filed into the van and before long they were off for breakfast.
"Boy, it sure is different without 'dad' here," said Matthew.
"Yea, sort of," spoke up Charles. "I went out to breakfast a few times with Mr. Dan when he stayed with me while Robert and Eric went with 'dad' to visit the amusement parks. It was nice doing something different with someone else. Not that I'd want to do that all the time, but I think it adds to the experience. Like now. How often do we get to go places with just Mr. Wayne? It gives everything a new perspective."
The boys just sat there looking at Charles and what he just said. Robert knew what it was like, but he didn't have as many experiences as his pre-teen 'brother' had.
The Covers talked about last night's New Year's Eve Party as they ate. They talked about the Lt. Governor coming, and them not even knowing it until the last minute. They also changed subject a few times as they ate, going from Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Holiday vacation to the sleepover and back again. Mr. Wayne just sat and listened gaining a better perspective on the boys and how they looked at things.
Mr. Ken enjoyed the peace and quiet with the boys all out for breakfast. He remembered back to when Collin was ripped away and how awfully quiet the house was. He and Chief would roam the big house looking at all the things Collin left behind or touched.
It was then Chief came over to her first master and nudged his arm, so she could get her front paws up on his lap. When the man let her up she gave him a couple of doggie kisses to get him out of his thinking back to when there were no kids in the house. It was as it Chief knew Mr. Ken was reminiscing about the 'bad times' and she wanted him to think about today and how five boys have brought life back to The Cove.
"Thanks, Chief ... you knew I was thinking back to when the house felt so empty after Collin was taken away from us. It sure is lively around here now, isn't it? Those boys have kept us busy and there rarely is a dull moment around here now. Right?" asked Mr. Ken.
"Woof, woof, woof," replied Chief, who then gave her man a few more of her kisses.
When he'd finished reading the major portions of the newspaper, Mr. Ken decided to go back to his space and get ready for the day. It was going on 11 a.m., and he needed to get his ass in gear because in two hours he would have another house full of people.
The Cover boys had a great breakfast. Charles especially loved going out to eat as it changed everything for him. His mom, after she got herself messed up with Smokey, rarely had enough money for them to have something to eat let, alone go out to eat.
Matthew's young life was somewhat similar to Charles'. His mom did what Lincoln told her. The man used drugs and wasn't stable afterwards, which was when he usually beat him. The younger Cover ate out a few times, when they were traveling from place to place, but they never went out to eat after they'd move. What he loved about eating out now was he was with people who he knew loved him and money was not a problem.
The Covers returned home just as 'dad' Ken came out of his personal space. Chief met the boys as they came through the garage entrance door into the back pots and pans storage room. Her tail wagged a mile a minute showing them she was happy they were home.
"So, how was breakfast," asked 'dad' Ken.
"We all had steak and eggs, 'dad'. That credit card you gave Mr. Wayne ... he really knows how to use it to treat us right," smiled Charles.
The boys all laughed at Charles' quip, except Kevin.
Mr. Ken saw the troubled face on Kevin, so he asked him what that was all about. Kevin told him he didn't know how the other boys were able to tease him back, or say something that was funny.
'Dad' Ken told him he thought it was because he was too serious about things. And that he stayed in the background most of the time. The last thing 'dad' Ken told the older twin was that until he relaxed and didn't worry about things he wouldn't feel what he needed to say at the right time and make it funny.
Kevin walked away still somewhat confused, but he knew what 'dad' Ken said was mostly true. He always took the lead with his brother. He cared a lot about his twin and was very protective of Kyle. He knew he stayed back and wasn't one to be the center of attention. It just wasn't in him to do that. He figured he'd have to learn a way to act just like his older 'brothers' do.
The caterer arrived at 12:30. They had left their tent setup during the night, and all that was needed to be done now was set up their buffet and await the guests.
The day's guests began arriving at 12:50. The Main Gate guard knew about the New Year's Day Swim Party and was told to allow the people to park their cars inside the estate. As the families arrived, their sons walked them to the Foyer Door where Mr. Ken was waiting for them.
The Cove's owner wished them all a Happy New Year and invited them into his home. The boys caught up with their friends over at the ramps and their younger siblings followed along to their chagrin. Of course the younger children had to try out the ramps, so that kept the bigger boys from even being able to ride their skateboard in fear they would hurt a little one.
The adults were served cold soft drinks or beer that was left over from last night's Party. The Cove's owner told them to drink up, but not so they couldn't drive home. Everyone had a laugh.
Mr. Ken did have the artist's rendition of the new skate park down in the Great Room for the parents to look over. He did have a sign attached to it that said, 'Look, But Don't Touch'. The parents laughed when they saw that figuring he had that sign so their sons wouldn't manhandle it.
Today, Mr. Ken had three lifeguards to watch over the indoor pool: Russell, Jordan, and Audrey. He also had the high school students from last night's party helping to keep the Great Room and Patio straightened out and cleaned up if someone left their empty plate or drink lying around.
By 1:30 that afternoon all the families had arrived. They talked amongst themselves, as they ate the great foods off the buffet and drank Mr. Ken's beer or cold sodas. Then, when everyone seemed to be full, Mr. Ken asked the parents to come back inside, so he could, talk to them.
As Mr. Ken got the parents attention, the boys were becoming tired of skating and wanted to know if they could go swimming. The Cover boys didn't have a problem with that, but they said they'd usually eat then and if they wanted they could attack the buffet and then go swimming. That's what he boys did.
Charlotte Allenbee and Bailey Bracen were the only two young girls there that that day. They sort of felt out of place, but none of the Cover's friends had any younger sisters. Logan had two older sisters, but they weren't anywhere close to their age, and even though they did talk to them they had nothing in common.
The boys attacked the buffet as if they had never eaten before. They loaded their plates down with the brisket or pulled pork, and some beans, potato salad and cornbread. They found the tables from last night still set up, so they all had a nice place to eat.
Inside the Great Room, Mr. Ken got everyone's attention and told them all the reasons for his asking them all over for the day. First, he told them he figured this was a great way for the parents to get together to better know one another, share stories, and catch up on what their boys were up to. And that since there was a varied number of ages playing together they'd want to make sure everything was going well between the boys.
The second and main reason Mr. Ken wanted the parents to get together would soon become apparent.
"Ladies and gentlemen, if I may have your attention. Have any of your sons told you about this coin my 'boys' have?" asked Mr. Ken, as he and Mr. Wayne passed out a few of the special coins for the parents to look over.
"These coins are a special product of my electronics manufacturing plant. They were made to look like a commemorative coin, so if anyone saw it they would think the person won it, bought it or were given it. They are a little bigger than a silver dollar, but that's because of what's inside of them," explained Mr. Ken.
That last part of there being something special inside of the coin got the parents talking to someone next to them. Mr. Ken let them talk about what he just told them and when the murmur died down he started to talk some more.
"I made these coins specifically for my 'boys'. As you know ... a few of my 'boys' have had problems with ... ahh, what I call a few bad actors. The most recent was just a few weeks ago. ... Yes, a few weeks ago. It didn't make the headlines as the attempted kidnapping of ten boys had, because only the sheriff's deputies and I knew about it.
"I ask you to keep what I am about to tell you to yourselves. It may very well help your son, if he is ever in a situation, where he feels ... threatened. When I received the first batch of the coins, I gave one to each of my 'sons'. After they proved themselves, I got more made and delivered in order to offer them to your sons for their safety," said Mr. Ken.
"But why ... why would our sons need them?" asked Reed Hartgarian.
"Well, the hope would be ... that they would never need them, but ... if there was ever the chance they found themselves in a situation, like Matthew or Kyle found themselves in, a few weeks ago ... they would have something they can use to call for help with. The idea behind the coin is that it is probably something a bad actor would not take away like they would their cell phones."
"So, tell us how the coin helped your two boys!" spoke up Kelley Wilks.
"OK. First off, Matthew ... he's my newest foster son, who came to me about two months ago. Those of you who have 5th grade sons probably know who he is, and may have met him up at the Main Gate. Anyway, he was visiting his doctor when his mom, who had been released out on bail, followed him there from his school.
"Then, when the boy went to the restroom his mom grabbed him and took him to a secluded female restroom. His mom wanted to get control of her son, because she thought he knew something that ... that he would tell someone and cause her a world of hurt. She eventually assaulted him and while she was doing that he squeezed his coin.
"The coin, when squeezed very hard, will start a chemical reaction to activate a battery ... that causes a signal to be sent to an orbiting satellite. When my control office received the signal they contacted me and I, in turn, contacted the sheriff's office. The result was that they found Matthew, with his mom's handover his mouth and she was ... ahh ... she was squeezing his ahh ... his boy parts.
"It is believed if we hadn't found him in time his mom ... would have taken him some place where we would never have found him. I say that because ... the four men arrested on Christmas Eve were known associates of his mom," finished Mr. Ken.
"So, it's true ... your son ... he was the one who helped the police in capturing those men who tried to rob that armored truck," stated John Farrmers
"Yes, it is very possible ... that what Matthew told the sheriff's office ... helped them to focus their suspicions on those four men. Matthew knew of the four men, but not personally. His mom knew them and they occasionally stopped by their place to talk to her. There's more, but that is it in a nutshell.
"His name wasn't supposed to get out, but someone, who had heard that it was Matthew who helped the police told Rene Vaughn and that started the news cycle. Lucky, for now, the media hasn't asked me about Matthew and if they do I can't release his name as he is in the CPS system and it would take a court order for that to happen.
"So, I ask all of you to please not talk about it amongst your friends. Matthew doesn't need the hassle and the attention. He's only eleven. Anyway, when the trials begin he very well may have to testify. So, let the boy have some quiet time until then. OK?" finished Mr. Ken.
There was some discussion between the parents, but before long they all agreed to keep it under their collective hats. Mr. Ken thanked them for their understanding. The owner of The Cove then continued to finish his story as to how the coins were used.
"So ... what was the second time they worked," asked Claire Duggans.
"The second time was when Kyle ... when he was at his doctor's appointment and those men thought it was going to be Matthew. Kyle also went to the restroom, after his appointment was over, but Mr. Wayne was the one attacked and Kyle pressed his coin. The sheriff's deputies were there in minutes because the first coin activation proved they worked.
"The coin's signal is so strong ... we can pinpoint the place within a few feet verses being in the ballpark. And ... well, I want to provide one of those coins to each of my 'sons' friends. That's so if they ever get into a situation, like my 'boys' did, they have something they can use to notify someone," continued Mr. Ken.
"And why do you need to talk to us? Why not just give our boys the coins and be done with it?" asked Hazel Winnhuas.
"Well, I need to register the boys into the database, and since it is a controlled registry I need the parents or guardians written permission to do so. If I kept that here at The Cove there wouldn't be all this intrigue. But when the coin is activated it goes to my factory control room and those operators see the information.
"So ... is this something you would like your sons to have? If you do ... then you can sign the papers here and I'll explain the coins to them tomorrow, while they are here, and then give each of them one. I'll then register it and they will be covered. The chance of them needing to activate the coin is practically nil. But it is better to be safe than sorry," finished Mr. Ken.
While the adults talked, the boys and those few girls decided to go swimming. Matthew told his friends they had to either use the Men's Locker Room or go up to his bedroom to change. They asked him why and he told them they had girls there today and they would use their locker room. Everyone laughed.
Matthew said he was going to change with the big boys. He told his friends that if they did, they would get to see how 'big' the big boys really were. They all laughed and headed in the same direction as their Cover friend.
The younger boys did get to see how 'big' the big boys were and they also got to see what the other boys equipment looked like, as well. The thing that a few of them didn't like was they had to show their boy parts, as well.
The boys swam and played their games. Bailey hung out with Charlotte. But she kept looking over at Matthew. Eventually, the two friends did talk some. Matthew told her about the airplane inflight emergency, their Holiday vacation, and how he danced with the high school girls at last night's New Year's Eve Party. They had some good laughs.
Matthew also told Bailey about the Cove's Skate Park and how their 'dad' revealed it to them. He even told her how each time Mr. Ken wanted to show them the picture, of what it was to look like, the phone kept ringing. Matthew then told her what he remembered about the pavilion his 'dad' was also going to build, so they wouldn't have to come down to the house to have their barbeques.
In the Great Room, the parents all signed up to let their sons have a coin. A few of them held out, at first, not seeing any benefit, but after the majority said it didn't cost them a thing, and for all Mr. Ken had done for their boys this was a no-brainer.
It took a while for all thirty-six parents to sign the permission slips even with Mr. Wayne helping. Then, after they had signed, many of the men, who had brought their swimsuits, headed to the Men's Locker Room to change and have some fun with their kid.
All of the women, and the men who didn't want to swim, declined the offer and stayed in the Great Room getting to know one another. They talked about what Mr. Ken had done for their sons, and what it meant to them to know they were in a safe environment where they had their friends and a wonderful place to hang out and play.
The men and women, now that there weren't so many, took a better look at the skate park rendition and tried to imagine what the elements would allow their sons to do. Mr. Ken saw them looking very closely at the proposed skate park, so he went over there to talk to them. He explained what the different elements of the park were and told them that in addition he was also building a pavilion right next door to the park. He then told them what it would have.
As the adults talked, Mr. Ken told them that since he was building a state-of-the-art skate park with many more elements than what the boys now had, that before their son, or any other boy or girl, would be allowed to use the park, he would ask the parents to sign a waiver.
The owner of The Cove told them his insurance company was requiring it and he wasn't going to self-insure. Mr. Ken told them besides a few cuts and skinned knees the only major injury from the ramps, so far, was when Kyle used his bike on them and crashed and burned.
The pool got very lively once the men joined the boys. The boys got them to play a few of the games they usually played. The lifeguards explained the walking backwards game to the men and they eagerly wanted to play. After that, they dove for some of the dive toys, but they had to do it blindfolded.
The girls used the pool floats out on the water to watch the games the men and boys were playing. A few times their brothers would dunk them into the water and they'd come up laughing. Then, they all had to do was jump off the rock ledge.
They played the 'biggest splash' game and the adults were all for it. Some of the men had swum in the pool back at the Labor Day Picnic, so they knew what to expect as they jumped off. The guards were the judges, but after a few jumps the men decided they just wanted to jump and challenge their sons.
What they did was have their boy jump and then their dads jumped to see if there was much of a difference in the splash. They had a good time doing that and the lighthearted arguments over whose was best made it funny to everyone.
The lifeguards earned their money that day. They had well over 60 guests swimming and with all the games going on and then the rock ledge jumping they had to be very vigilant.
When the boys and men began to wear down, some of them went and changed. Those boys who changed first got out to the buffet first, as well. They were able to eat before the rest of the men and boys came out to join them.
Evelyn Staffans waited as she looked for a good time to talk to Mr. Ken, alone. When she did, she thanked him for setting up that interview for her and told him she was offered the position. She couldn't say enough that would tell him how much she really appreciated what he had done for her. She told him she would be making a whole lot more now and that would ensure she and her son would have a much better life. All Mr. Ken could do was smile and accept her thanks.
As the day wore on, the guests talked, ate and drank their way through it. Lucky for many of the families, one person was the dedicated driver, so the others could enjoy the adult beverages that were readily available.
The Cover boys told their friends about the New Year's Eve Parties and how they met the Lt. Governor and then danced with the high school girls. They told which Toy Soldier won the 1st Place prize and each student on the team received a $1000.00 scholarship to the vocational school of their choice and a nice trophy for the school's Trophy Case.
They told them what the fireworks looked like from out there on the Patio. Some of their friends said they watched the fireworks from the shoreline, so they compared what they saw from different perspectives.
The Swim Party began to wind down about 7 p.m. The women were the ones who said they had to get home. If it had been up to the men they would have stayed there a few more hours. And the boys, they were ready to spend the night, but that invitation had never come.
As the guests left The Cove, Mr. Ken told the parents that Sunday would be a family day for him and his 'boys'. He teased them that they would have to find something to keep their sons busy that day.
The Covers didn't know that until they heard their 'dad' announce it to their friend's families. They were just as surprised as their friends were, and told them they'd talk to them later tonight and tomorrow.
As the guests were leaving, the caterer was consolidating the leftovers and then asked Mr. Ken if he wanted some or all of it placed in his refrigerators. The Cove's owner knew he would have at least forty boys there tomorrow. So, he told her to leave enough for 50 to 60 people. The caterer left all that was leftover, which she said would feed close to 70 or 80. Mr. Ken just smiled as the woman fit the leftovers in his industrial sized refrigerators. He knew they could probably finish it on Sunday, if need be.
When all the guests were gone, the Covers met in the Study to talk about the rest of the weekend. The boys told their 'dad' they were surprised at his announcement that Sunday was going to be a family day. 'Dad' Ken told the boys that even though they had their vacation together, Robert reminded him they never did something together as 'dad' and 'sons'.
'Dad' Ken told them about the coins and that all the parents signed the waiver and he would be giving all their friends a coin tomorrow. He told the boys not to mention the coin to them, so as not to give away the surprise. Mr. Ken figured that while they were talking, he needed to tell the boys about the waivers he will need from all of their friends, boy or girl, before they can use the new skate park after it is built.
That was another surprise their 'dad' had just sprang on them. So, they had to ask why since he didn't ask their friends before they rode the ramps out in the Parking Corral. Mr. Ken told them his insurance company was requiring it, because of the added liability he was taking on by having a kid magnet built. And, that even though it was locked behind walls and gates and had armed guards on the property, it still posed a risk for major injuries.
Then, speaking of injuries, Mr. Ken pulled up Kyle's 'crash and burn' video. 'Dad' Ken told the twin he hadn't wanted to show it to him so close to his getting injured, but figured now was as good a time as any.
The boys all gathered behind Mr. Ken's chair. 'Dad' Ken went into his computer and selected the video showing Kyle's bike crash video. When the boys saw how Kyle slipped off the edge of the ramp, lost control of the bike and fell over, they all cringed.
"So, that's what happened," said Kyle. "I wondered how I fell off the edge of the half-pipe. Now, I see the edge is almost 4 inches high and when the wheel slipped off I lost control. That's kind of cool, 'dad'. Thanks for showing that to me. Maybe I can show the guys tomorrow."
Then, before sending the boys back to their seats, he pulled up another video or two. The boys were shocked at first and then they giggled, and before long they were laughing. What 'dad' Ken showed then was their dance moves from the previous night. He showed them dancing from different angles and the boys even began to move a little to the music, as they watched the videos.
'Dad' Ken sent the boys back to their seats, telling them he had one more surprise, but it was mainly for Robert. He then got up from his chair and went to a locked cabinet and then to a locked gun safe. When he was finished opening them both, he pulled out a Glock 26 Gen 3 9 mm pistol.
"Wow," said the boys.
"Why is it so small?" asked Matthew.
"Boys, this is the gun we found in the locked fireproof box at Robert's house when we visited it a while back. The DA had the gun for the longest time, but once they found it was never used in a crime my lawyer, Bill Jackson, was able to get it back for Robert. So this gun is Robert's," explained the teen's dad.
"But ... why is it so small?" again asked Matthew.
"'Son', the gun was designed for concealed carry. It was made to easily hide it anywhere on the body while packing the punch of 10+1 rounds of 9 mm ammunition. That's 10 rounds, or bullets, in the magazine and one in the chamber," explained 'dad' Ken.
"Will we get to shoot it?" asked Kyle.
"No! The gun is Robert's and it is NOT a play toy," sternly replied 'dad' Ken.
"I, and Mr. Dan, will be the ones who will take your older 'brother' to the range," stated 'dad' Ken. "We will instruct him on how to shoot and take care of the weapon. I will keep it locked up and he will only get to it when we are going to the gun range.
"Boys ... do not ask me to bring it out to show any of your friends. This, again, is not a play toy ... and when used wrongly can cause serious injury or death. Any Questions?" finished 'dad' Ken.
"Can we hold it?" tentatively asked Kevin, the one person you would never have thought would ask that question.
Mr. Ken checked the weapon over, took the magazine out, checked it again and then asked Robert to come to him. Then, before he handed it to his son, the man installed a trigger lock. He then asked the teen if he wanted to hold it and to feel what it is like to hold a weapon, which could kill someone.
Robert was a bit apprehensive to take the gun, but took it eventually. He held it, hefted it to get a feel for its weight. He then looked it over, and when he was satisfied he passed it back to his dad. The teen's dad explained to him the trigger lock added weight to the feel of the weapon and he would keep it on until they were at the gun range.
'Dad' Ken allowed all of the boys to hold the gun. He just wanted to knock down their curiosity before locking it back up until he and Robert were ready to go to the range. The boys were satisfied they were able to touch and hold the gun. Even Matthew was happy he got the chance to look the gun over and feel how heavy it was.
Before long it was time for the boys to go up to their rooms and relax some before going to bed. They've had an exciting two days now and their 'dad' wanted them to sort of transition to going to bed early because in three days they would be going back to school and getting up very early in the morning.
Mr. Ken and Mr. Wayne did go up to say Goodnight to the boys and then headed to their own bedrooms to relax and get to sleep sooner than they had the previous day.
All of the Covers slept well that night. Even Matthew, with all the things that transpired with him the past two weeks slept soundly, as he was no longer worried about Lincoln and the other three men.
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