The five boys were up at their usual school day time. They took their showers and then got dressed for school before going down to the Kitchen Nook for breakfast.
They all said good morning to their 'dad' and Momma Maria before sitting down to the breakfast that Momma made for them.
"I'm going to start my homework when I get home today. I want to have my after school snack when Billy gets home," announced Matthew.
The twins smiled at one another and Robert and Charles just ignored what their youngest 'brother' had said.
It was quiet for a bit, when Charles suddenly spoke up and asked, "'Dad', did you ... did you tell Matthew ... that you would adopt him?"
The question caught 'dad' Ken off guard. But he knew that question would eventually be asked, again. He was surprised it hadn't yet been asked in an open forum, such as at dinner the night before. Only Kyle asked him before the twins went to bed the previous night.
"Charles, boys ... Matthew ... he was concerned about what would happen to him if we found his dad and ... and his dad didn't want him. So, I told him I would adopt him if his dad, or any other family member, decided not to take him and raise him. By the way, boys, that goes for all of you. Keep in mind that it will not happen overnight.
"Charles, we are still trying to get your mom to release you for adoption. Until that happens, we can't move forward. Kevin, Kyle ... until there is a final decision on your parents' case, we can't even begin to discuss what will happen to you. And, you both know there are family members out there who could take you in after all is said and done.
"Matthew, the same goes for you and your mom. We have to wait until there is a decision on her case and then we have to try to find your dad. That might take some time. Mr. Diamond is good at what he does, but, if your mom doesn't cooperate in helping us find him, it could take even longer.
"I hope that answers any of the questions you all may have had. We can talk about this again once some of the pieces of your individual puzzles begin to take shape. Now, I think it is time you boys finished up your breakfast, and got a move on to meet the school bus," finished 'dad' Ken.
Just after the five boys left to meet their school bus, Billy was getting his shower. The older teen enjoyed the big shower room when it was just him using it. He loved that he had the privacy he had at The Cove. He had his own bedroom and, since his 'brothers' left for school, so early in the morning, he had the large boys' bathroom all to himself.
"Good morning Mr. Ken and you too Momma Maria," announced Billy, as he entered the Kitchen Nook. He also told Chief good morning before he went to get the resident pet fresh water and kibble. When he sat down after washing his hands, Momma Maria placed his breakfast in front of him. The teen eagerly tucked in.
"Ahh, Bill ... this morning ... your 'brothers' ... they asked me about adopting them someday. Yesterday, when Matthew got all teary eyed, he was very concerned about what would happen to him if I were to get married.
"Anyway, I told him if we find his dad and he doesn't want him I would adopt him. The other boys' ... they sort of asked the unasked question. So, I told them we would discuss that once all of the issues their parents were dealing with were resolved.
"Now, as for you ... you've only been here about three weeks, and it might be a bit premature to even start thinking about your status. So, for now, I have no idea what will happen to you. It could take up until you're eighteen years old before your situation is resolved enough for you to be considered for adoption.
"But, until then, I want you to know that there is no reason why you can't stay here until you go off to college. What I just told you might not be what you wanted to hear, but ... well at least you have some idea of what your future looks like," advised Mr. Ken.
Billy sat there not knowing what to say. He knew Charles wanted very badly to be adopted by the man, but here the man was telling him about himself. He had never thought about what his future might hold. He lived his life, for what it was, day-by-day, hoping he would do well in school and hopefully get a scholarship to college. He knew college was his only way out of what 'Greaser' and his mom had put him through.
"Mr. Ken ... I ... I don't know what to say. I ... I know Charles wants you to adopt him, but I ... I never thought or knew how my other 'brothers' felt about being adopted. I never even thought about being adopted, myself. I ... I just hoped I'd get through high school with good enough grades that I could get some sort of scholarship, you know ... in order to go off to college and earn a good degree. All I want is something that would take me away from what my mom and 'Greaser' put me through," offered Billy.
Mr. Ken saw tears begin to fall from the teenager's eye. They started as a few drops, but before long the teen sat there trying hard to hold back his tears, but was losing. Mr. Ken got out of his chair and went to the boy and pulled him up into a hug. It was then that Billy broke down and cried hard.
Momma Maria watched what was happening, and she was happy her employer was trying to calm down the boy who had no relationship to him, other than him being his foster dad. The teenager eventually did calm down and as he pulled away from Mr. Ken, the boy thanked his foster dad for doing that for him. What almost caused the owner of The Cove to also cry was when Billy told him that ever since he arrived, he enjoyed his manly hugs, which was something he never got from his stepdad.
Billy was almost late for the school bus. He arrived at the Main Gate just as the bus began to pull away. Todd told the bus driver there was a student hurrying, so the driver stopped and waited for Billy to get on board. Todd asked Billy why he was late and all the Cover could say was that it was a 'family' thing.
As soon as Billy arrived at Alvin York High School, students who watched the altercation the previous week were there with their hand written and signed testaments to what they saw. Billy eagerly collected them and thanked each and every one of the students for their support.
Brett and Lonnie helped collect the written statements. When the three teens were finally able to settle down and talk, the boys had collected almost 40 witness accounts of what they saw. Billy asked his two friends where Kaden was and, just as Lonnie was going to answer, the errant teen showed up.
"Hey, guys," offered Kaden. "I had to meet up with a few other friends, first. Did I miss anything?"
"Yea, look at all the written eye witness accounts we collected," enthusiastically said Lonnie.
"Look, there are almost 40 descriptions of what people saw when those bullies attacked Billy," added Brett.
"I'm sorry I wasn't here to help collect them. Some of my friends wanted me to tell them what it was like at The Cove over the weekend," replied Kaden.
The four friends talked some more about the weekend, and Billy reminded the other three that, as a foster kid, he is like a guest at The Cove, and he has to do what his foster parents wanted him to do.
Kaden sarcastically said Billy only had one foster parent. But Billy told him Mr. Wayne was like the second one especially when his foster dad was gone, like what happened last week.
Kaden laughed at what Billy said, and then added his friend was probably the only foster kid who had two foster 'dads'. Billy walked away from what he took as being a slap in his and Mr. Ken's face.
When the first bell rang, Kaden hurried to catch up to his friend. He knew he screwed up and needed to apologize for his insensitive comment about his friend having two foster 'dads'. Billy heard from behind him Kaden's expression of regret for saying what he did.
Billy stopped and turned to face Kaden. He blasted his friend at what he said and that it was totally uncalled for. The Cover continued and castigated the teen for it and his attitude over the weekend. Billy added that what he said then was not what Mr. Ken would have wanted to hear, and that he better change his attitude.
Billy then reminded Kaden that he was a guest at The Cove, and there was only so many things to do there, especially until they got their Texas Boater Safety Course certificate and the weather turned warmer. The two freshmen were almost late for class.
When Mr. Chris arrived at The Cove, Mr. Ken let him get his first cup of coffee. The boss even allowed him to get his second cup and a Momma sweet cake before asking the man to follow him to his Study.
After the two men took their seats, Mr. Ken said, "Chris ... Bill's birthday is this Thursday and I asked him what he wanted. He told me he'd like a computer, like his 'brothers'. So, you need to see how fast you can get him a matching computer, like his 'brothers' have, and we'll set it up in his bedroom."
"Can do, easy, Mr. Ken. I have the contact information at my desk. I will call them right away and hopefully the computer will be here by Thursday," replied Mr. Chris.
"Chris, you also know I want to have a Grand Opening of the Cove Skate Park when it is finished. Get with Wayne and see if the Memorial Weekend is still the projected finish date. It is only two days ahead of the actual contract finish date, so I am hoping it will be done by then," stated Mr. Ken.
Just then Wayne Mitchell arrived at the Study, with a hot cup of coffee in his hands. He took a seat and asked the men what was the topic of the day. The two men looked at one another and then laughed. Mr. Chris told the Estate Master, "Bill."
"Oh, do tell," laughed Mr. Wayne, as he sat down. "What did he do wrong this time?"
"He's having a birthday this Thursday," replied Mr. Ken. Who then laughed some, as well.
The three men talked about the teen's birthday, the completion date for the Cove Skate Park and the summer trip to the four amusement parks. As the men were talking the phone rang at Mr. Ken's desk, since Chris Dominions hadn't transferred the phones to his office yet.
When Mr. Ken answered the phone, he was surprised at who was at the other end. The two men made some small talk as the two men in the Study listened to one side of the telephone conversation. It was when the conversation became serious, that Mr. Chris and Mr. Wayne took notice. A few moments later, when their employer hung up the phone they learned who the person on the other end of the phone call was.
"Gentlemen that was the School Board President, John Henry Ostrowski. He asked if he could stop by later today to discuss Bill's request for a full School Board hearing. I agreed and it will only be him. And, since he is going to talk to me, and not to Wayne here, it would be considered a 'chance' meeting to discuss the upcoming School Board election.
"John Henry will be here about noon. We'll have lunch and I want you two there. When we retire back to the Study, I also want you two to follow along. As my Estate's Manager and Master you both need to know what is happening around The Cove.
"And, Chris, when I was back east ... I talked to some politician's ... where my new Crystal Lake Amusement Park is located. Four of the seven Commissioners want to spread the matching money they set aside for a much-needed road project in their own districts to help them be reelected. That would mean the five-lane divided highway they promised the people that would go out past the amusement park and to the lake would not be built. It would seriously affect the amusement park.
"So, I talked to the other three men and told them I would fund their part of the road project, but would want 125% of my investment back in reduced taxes on all my properties until that amount was recovered.
"And that reminds me. I had better call Judge Barnneby, since I gave them his phone number. I hope the Judge can explain what my local investments meant for the expansion of Four Corners and the projected development out towards the Lakeside Water Park," added Mr. Ken.
"How does that affect me?" asked Mr. Chris.
"You'll have to watch over the recovery of the tax money, Chris," chuckled Mr. Ken. "So, the county won't be without a major portion of taxes, they will reduce all of my properties in their county by 50% until all the investments and interest have been repaid."
"When will that all begin?" asked Chris.
"Well, we haven't signed a deal yet, but that is what I am hoping will happen. I will undoubtedly have to appear at a meeting, or two, so the people can hear the proposal. In the end, I hope they will recognize it is a Win-Win for both of our interests," explained Mr. Ken.
Chris left the Study to go and do his work for Mr. Ken and The Cove. Wayne usually hung around the Study, and thus his boss, so he could understand what was happening. He needed the information, so he could make an informed decision if he ever had to do that when his employer was away.
Mr. Ken picked up the phone and called Judge Joseph Barnneby. The owner of The Cove told the Judge why he was calling and how he wanted the man to help him. The Judge then surprised his caller by telling him he'd already had one phone call about his proposal. The two men had a good laugh over that.
Judge Barnneby told his friend he was happy to give his fellow Commissioner the full story on how Mr. Thomas had spent his own money to enhance the county. Then, the Judge added he told the man about the Lakeside Water Park, the Lake Water Safety and Rescue Team Headquarters and how the Four Corners development brought expansion to an underappreciated part of the county.
Judge Barnneby told Mr. Ken he mentioned the hotel and office building going up along the way to the water park, and finally about the first 400-unit apartment complex with about 150 of the dwellings being set aside for seniors. The two men talked for a few more minutes before Mr. Ken thanked the Judge for all his help.
During lunch at the high school, Billy and his three friends sat together and talked about the previous weekend. Billy's friends then wondered when he thought it would be warm enough to swim in the lake. Billy told them he had no idea, but figured the lake water would stay cold through the end of June.
Then, the three friends asked if Billy had found anything out about the Texas Boater Safety Course. All Billy could say was he asked for a computer for his room and would hopefully have it by the weekend, but wasn't going to hold his breath. He also told his friends that they had Sunday night to check the safety course schedule and why hadn't they checked it out. The three teens just looked back and forth at one another and didn't have anything to say.
The three bullies who attacked Billy the previous week were talking together along with a good majority of the boys and girls who accompanied them when they went after Billy. Billy saw the group as he had last week and wondered if they were going to come back for more. He got part of his answer when the large group began approaching him and his friends.
"So ... you petitioned the School Board for a hearing. You're going to lose, so why don't you rescind your appeal and take the suspension," said the bully, with his arm in a sling.
"How'd you figure I'd lose? The YouTube videos show how you and your lackey's came at me, grabbed my arms and you rearing up to hit me," argued back Billy.
"Yes, but I never hit you, dumbass. You hit me first," laughed the large bully.
"Oh, is that what you are going to say. I suggest you had better watch the YouTube videos again, dumbass! They show you had hit me in my stomach, before you told your two fellow bullies to grab me and hold my arms behind my back. So ... I guess we'll see what happens at the School Board Meeting, then ... won't we," Billy teased back, with a smile on his face.
"You don't have a prayer," spoke up one of the boys who held his arms. "That video shows me defending myself against your fists. I never hit you until you hit me. So, why don't you just save yourself from the humiliation ... of being sent to the alternative school?" laughed the teen.
"Well, it sounds to me as if you all got your stories straight," chuckled Billy. "I wonder if you also have an ace in the hole, such as a School Board member on your team, as well," countered Billy. "But, I'll take my chances with the other School Board members.
"There was no reason in hell that three bullies should approach a new kid at the school, and then cause him to be held, so he couldn't move. Then, a big goof forms a fist and starts bringing a roundhouse hit to the face, as I protected myself. You better watch the videos better!" added Billy.
It was then the after-lunch bell rang. It essentially told the students it was time for their afternoon classes to begin. As Billy and his friends walked into the building, Brett told the Cover that he used his iPhone to capture the confrontation between him and the three bullies. The four had a good laugh over that.
School Board President John Henry Ostrowski arrived for lunch at The Cove at the appointed time. Mr. Ken met the man at the Foyer Door and invited him into the home. The two men gave one another a simple greeting and then they walked to the Kitchen Nook for lunch.
"John Henry, you already know Momma Maria, but I want you to meet my Estate Manager, Chris Dominions, and my Estate Master, Wayne Mitchell. Chris takes care of the contracts and happenings around The Cove. And, Wayne helps me corral the boys," said Mr. Ken, as a way of introducing the men to the Board President.
"How many boys do you have Ken?" asked John Henry.
"I have five boys, in fifth through eighth grade, over at the school with Abigail Chadwick, and Bill, of course, over at the high school," answered Mr. Ken.
"I knew you were fostering a number of lads, Ken, but six? How do you find all the time they need?" asked a curious Henry Ostrowski.
"Well, I adopted Robert back at the end of October, so I am only fostering five boys," laughed Ken Thomas.
The men talked as they ate, but they avoided talking about Bill Dirketson and his problem. When lunch was over, Mr. Ostrowski thanked Momma for making such a wonderful lunch and the men then walked over to the Study.
"Ken, I wanted to talk to you about the upcoming School Board and Hospital Board elections. Have you considered who you are going to support?" started John Henry Ostrowski.
"Well, to be honest with you, John Henry, I haven't looked at the races at all. I've been very busy as of late with some new projects, and the other ones that will soon come to a close, and of course the boys. The hotel is due to open on the first of May, so I better make plans to be there for the ribbon cutting," was how Mr. Ken answered the question.
"I had hoped you were more up to date on the School Board election," offered John Henry. "There is one current board member who has been a pain. He is good friends of the two board members who once sat on the Board back when Collin was in school. The man wants to rewrite the Student/Teacher Handbook and almost offers a Point-of-Order every meeting. After two years I would like to see him gone."
"Do you have an opponent you're supporting?" asked Ken Thomas.
The School Board President said he had and the two men discussed their options. When that discussion was over, Mr. Ken asked John Henry if he was ready to discuss the fight that included Bill. Mr. Ostrowski asked Mr. Ken if he was sure that he and the teen could win. Mr. Ken smiled and pointed to Mr. Wayne and told the School Board President that Wayne Mitchell would be ramrodding the appeal.
That information surprised John Henry, so he asked how that could be. Mr. Wayne spoke up and said he was representing Mr. Ken, while he was out of town, and was the one who initiated the appeal for Bill.
All the time the discussion was going on, Mr. Chris sat back and watched and listened to the whole conversation. It gave him a better grasp of how his employer operated and dealt with people.
Mr. Wayne asked John Henry if he'd seen all of the video. Mr. Ostrowski said he saw what the principal, Mark Stanley showed him. Hearing that, Mr. Wayne asked Mr. Ken if he could use his computer to show the School Board President the videos he had.
After John Henry saw the three different angles of the videos taken off YouTube, he was astonished. He mumbled to himself and asked why the principal hadn't showed him that. Wayne heard him and told John Henry how he tried to get the principal to give him the schools CCTV footage, but had been rebuffed.
"John Henry, Mark Stanley isn't the only problem you have in your schools. Jane Andrews, Ms. Chadwick's secretary, has repeatedly rebuffed my Estate Master and me as we try to take the boys to their doctor appointments.
"The secretary won't let me talk or see the principal without an appointment. It is time to retire her and find a better replacement. And, if I may suggest, Abigail Chadwick would be a good replacement for Mr. Stanley," spoke Ken Thomas.
"Ken, I know you've had repeated challenges with Ms. Andrews and we've discussed her at the Board meetings, but let's wait on talking about her for now. I want to go into the meeting with all the facts and it appears Principal Stanley is not giving me all of them. Can I get a copy of those videos?" asked John Henry. "I'll go the school right after I leave here and ask him for a copy of all of the CCTV camera footage."
Wayne Mitchell made a copy of the videos and gave them to the School Board President. Mr. Ken took the opportunity to remind John Henry, how Mark Stanley had caused Collin and him some serious problems when the teen was attacked. Then, the owner of The Cove brought up how the principal allowed an ADA to attempt to question his foster son without an attorney and him being present.
Mr. Ken also mentioned how Mark Stanley allowed two detectives to talk to Ryan Taylor without his mom present. He added that when the teen insisted on having her there, and a lawyer present, they arrested him and put him in with hardened criminals.
The owner of The Cove speculated that the high school was lucky they too weren't sued. He continued and told the School Board President that Ryan's settlement from the police force was paying for his college education and the two detectives were now walking a beat.
The conversation took most of the afternoon and when John Henry Ostrowski left The Cove, he was impressed with what he had been told. He went directly to the high school to talk with Principal Stanley. When he asked the principal to see all of the CCTV footage of the fight, the principal stated what he sent him was all there was.
It was then that Stewart Russell came to the high school to serve a court order to obtain the four CCTV's cameras' footage of the fight. Mark Stanley told the attorney there was nothing more than what he showed him last week. Mr. Russell asked the principal to call the Internet Technology (IT) Administrator to come to the office. The principal refused.
The School Board President didn't like what he heard and went out into the main office and had the secretary call the IT Administrator to come there. A few minutes later, the IT Administrator came to the main office and was confused when she arrived to see the School Board President there. She then asked Principal Stanley what he wanted.
John Henry Ostrowski spoke up and said for the principal, "This lawyer has a court order for a copy of all the footage from the CCTV cameras that caught the fight the other day before the start of school. He wants the footage that begins ten minutes before the fight up until ten minutes after it. Can you retrieve that for him?"
The IT woman looked over to Mr. Stanley to see what she should do. Mr. Ostrowski told the woman if she wanted to continue in her present position, she would comply with the court order, or she would face a disciplinary hearing in front of the full Board.
The School Board President continued and told her she could possibly be required to explain herself in front of a judge for refusing the order. The woman went back to her office to retrieve the wanted footage.
As the IT Administrator went for the CCTV footage, Stewart Russell presented a second court order to Principal Stanley. This court order told the high school principal to provide a list of all the names of the students who were observed in the camera footage. Mark Stanley was now very afraid for his job.
The IT Administrator returned with copies from all four CCTVs pointed out front of the high school. Billy's lawyer thanked the woman for the DVDs and it was then that Mr. Ostrowski asked for a copy for the School Board. The School Board's President told the woman she had better plan to be at the School Board Hearing that Thursday night.
Mr. Wayne picked Robert up from the school and took him over to visit with Doctor Doug. Along the way, Robert asked the Estate Master what he thought about Matthew asking his dad to adopt him. That was the first the man had heard of that, and he told the Cover teen his dad never mentioned it to him. Robert took the rest of the drive to tell the Estate Master all about it.
Late that afternoon, Mr. Ken went to Chris' office to talk to him about the Texas Boater Safety Course. The owner of The Cove had finally remembered he needed to get Mr. Chris to find out the information, so Billy and Charles could attend before school was out. Mr. Ken also asked Mr. Chris to find out about what Matthew would need to take sailing lessons.
Both requests caught Mr. Chris off guard, so he asked his employer about them. Mr. Ken explained the older boys needed to pass the course before they could drive the personal watercraft, that summer, without an older person going with them.
Then, the man's employer explained that Matthew asked if he could take sailing lessons and he needed to know what safety courses, if any, the youngster needed. Mr. Ken also asked Chris to find sailboat instructors and then do a background check on his top three candidates.
On his bus ride home, Billy began reading what some of the students gave him about what they saw during the fight. Some were very descriptive, whereas some were just general observations with one that said they wished he'd kicked their collective asses harder. Billy had to laugh over that one.
When Billy arrived at the Kitchen Nook, Momma asked him to get Matthew as his 'brother' wanted to have his snack with his older 'brother'. Billy smiled at hearing that, so he and Chief went up to Matthew's room.
"Hey there, sport, you ready for your afterschool snack?" asked Billy when he knocked on the doorframe.
"Yea, what are we waiting for?" replied Matthew, as he got out of his desk chair and ran out of the room.
Billy quickly followed behind the youngster, as the two headed for the Nook and their snack.
Momma Maria had their snack ready and waiting for the two Covers as they entered the Kitchen Nook. The woman then asked the boys what they wanted to drink and they both chose vanilla milk. The two boys talked and laughed while they ate their snack.
Momma loved to hear that sound of the two boys talking and laughing, as if they knew one another since they were born. She was again glad that Matthew waited for his older 'brother' to eat his afterschool snack.
Snack finished; the two Cover lads went to the Study to say hello to Mr. Ken. When they got there Mr. Ken asked them to have a seat. The man then directed his talk towards Billy.
"Bill ... I want you to know the School Board President was here today. And, we did talk about your situation. He thought you should rescind your appeal," was all Mr. Ken got out before Billy spoke up.
"NO! NO, I won't take the suspension. Those same three boys came to me today to try to talk me into doing that, too. It sounded like they had an ace up their sleeve when they talked to me. I wonder if that president is on their side.
"So, NO, I won't stop the meeting. Brett made a video of them talking to me. Maybe I can have him send it to me and we can look at it and then show Mr. Russell," reasoned Billy.
"Well, I was going to tell you we weren't going to stop the proceedings and that we would take our chances at the meeting. But now ... you might have some more damning information that we can use at the Board meeting. Yes, ask Brett to send it to you and we can look at it after dinner," replied Mr. Ken.
Billy texted Brett and asked him to send the video. The Cover explained that his foster dad wanted to see if there was something in it, they can use at the hearing. The video was there within minutes. Billy was going to show it to Mr. Ken, but he was on the phone with someone and he knew not to disturb him until he was off the phone.
Billy didn't know was that on the other end of the phone call was Stewart Russell who was telling Mr. Ken what transpired at the high school late that afternoon. Stewart wanted to stop by after dinner, as they hadn't much time. The lawyer reasoned they could talk about what they wanted to do and watch the CCTV footage together.
The two men agreed to meet at 7 p.m.
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