by Jason Finigan

This story is completely fictional. Any similarities to any persons or events, past or present are purely coincidental.

This story may contain scenes which involve sexual situations between males. If this type of material is offensive to you, or it is illegal for you to be reading this type of material, please do not read any further.

This story is copyright © 2008 by Jason Finigan, all rights reserved.

Distribution for commercial gain, including, but not limited, posting on sites or newsgroups, distribution as parts or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation) with or without a fee, or distribution on CD, DVD, or any other electronic media; with or without a fee, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent. You may download one (1) copy of this story for personal use; and all commercial use excepting educational institutions requires the author's written consent. The author may be contacted at:

Chapter 1

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth. God, how many times do I need to hear that song? Its bad enough that the person singing it tries to sound like a kid, but when they start playing it in November, a whole month before Christmas, well it just drives me crazy. And to think that in my job I get to listen to that song over and over again seeing as how they only have a couple Christmas music CDs in the player. The customers can only be so lucky that they don't have to listen to the same song time and again while they shop.

Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas music. I have quite the collection at home where I live with my husband, Mark. We've been married for the last two years, and it seems that every year we're together just keeps getting better. Then again, why wouldn't it, when I'm in love with the most gorgeous man alive.

My name is Dale Carpenter, and I'm a security guard working at the Mapleview center here in Burlington, Ontario. I'm not a young man, though I'm no where near old enough to be considered old. I guess it would depend on who you are talking to. I'm thirty-four, which according to my sister's kids, is as they put it, "way old". Then again, some of the senior citizens that come to the mall early in the mornings for their Mall Walk, usually great me by calling me "young pup". Like I said. It all depends on who you talk to. In my opinion, I'm the age I'm supposed to be, and my husband certainly agrees with this.

It's funny to watch all the shoppers hustling about trying to get their Christmas shopping done as if they have only minutes to spare before that one gift will be sold out. What makes it even funnier to me is that it's only November. There's still a whole month left before Christmas really begins. Try telling that to the people shopping here. Then again, they help pay for my paycheck, so who am I to complain?

In the years I've been working here, I think I've pretty much seen it all. Old ladies stealing the silliest things, kids trying to run up the escalators which are going down, teenagers obviously in love making out in the food court, oblivious to anyone else around them, and yes, I've seen my share of gay couples too, proudly holding hands as they make their way through the mall. During the summer, we had an emergency with one of the escalators, where a young girl, who was about nine or ten and who was wearing sandals on her feet, got her toes caught in the teeth at the top of the escalator. The ambulance had to be called and she needed stitches to close several large cuts on her toes. I was one of the guards who comforted her and her mother that day while the EMS personnel did their jobs patching the girl up before taking her away to the hospital. They both came back to the mall a few days later, to thank me for all I did for them. I know I blushed, as I've never been one to accept such praise gracefully. All I could tell them was that I was just doing my job, and that I was glad to see that everything was okay. I didn't have to, but I did it anyways, and handed the young girl a ten dollar gift certificate that she could use any shop in the mall. The look on her face was priceless, but that was nothing compared to the hug she gave me, thanking me before both she and her mother went off to a store that the girl was excitedly leading her mother towards, dragging her by the hand.

It's times like that that make my job so rewarding. Most people think of a security guard as nothing but a boring job where people pretend to do the jobs of police officers but on a smaller scale. We're often referred to as "rent-a-cops"; affectionately I'm sure. Honestly, I enjoy my work. For the most time it's tedious, and boring, but sometimes you get to do something that helps someone, and that to me is worth all the money in the world. Don't get me wrong. I like the money. How else would I be able to buy Mark that new notebook he's been wanting so bad.

It's a Friday night. There's only an hour left to close, and the store is practically packed with people shopping. One thing about Fridays, it's always busy. Probably because it has something to do with it being a pay day as well. Fridays and Saturdays at the mall are the two busiest days. Even a month before Christmas, the mall is wall to wall packed; especially near the Food Court. Bags of every shape, size, and colour, as well as boxes that have been already gift wrapped by those taking advantage of the free gift wrapping service donated by one of the local churches, were in people's hands. They scurried about like little lemmings, totally oblivious to anyone around them, unless it was their spouse or child. Kids were crying from all the walking they were forced to endure, with their parents pulling them forward for even more shopping. I felt sorry for these kids, as I knew all too well what they're going through. After all, I was a kid once myself way back when. As nine o'clock rolled around, the closing time for the mall, the crowds began to thin out. A number of people were rushing about, trying to reach that last store before it closed its doors.

Making my way back to the food court, I noticed a young boy, maybe about seven or eight years of age sitting alone at a table. He was still wearing his winter coat, and the table before him was empty. I thought it odd that a child that age would be left alone in a mall, but as there were still some people at several of the food venues in the food court, I guessed that his parents weren't too far away. Still, something about him made me take more of a notice than I normally would. It wasn't that he was dirty, at least, not that I could tell from where I was standing, but rather, it was just a feeling I had inside. A gut feeling if you will. I still had things to do to get the mall ready to close, but I knew I was going to come back to check on him later.

I ended up going to the other end of the mall, watching as several of the shops began to shut off their lights and close their gates. A couple customers just missed one store closing, and turned around with a disappointed look on their faces. I don't think I'll ever understand the mentality of some people. They obviously know what time the mall closes at, so why they were disappointed that they didn't make it before the shop closed is beyond me. Shrugging my shoulders, I made my way to the bathrooms. I needed to check to make sure no one was still using them. Nothing worse than getting locked in the mall at night just because you had to make use of the facilities and just couldn't wait. After making sure they were all clear, I locked the doors, and started to make my way back towards the food court. I figured that by now the child and whoever was looking after him had long since left, but still I felt uneasy about something.

My hopes at not finding the boy there were dashed immediately when I saw him sitting in the exact same spot as he was before. He was still alone, and looking around desperately. No one seemed to be paying him any attention, and my heart broke immediately. Who would leave a child like this alone in a mall?

The child had his head bowed down low now, and so was unable to see me approaching his table, until I sat down in front of him. He looked up at me suddenly, and saw my uniform.

"Are you a police officer?" he asked me in the sweetest angelic voice I had ever heard.

"No, I'm a security guard. My name's Dale," I told him, giving him a reassuring smile. "Where's your mommy or Daddy?" I asked him.

"I don't know," the boy said. "Are you going to arrest me?"

"Why would I arrest you?" I asked him, shocked to hear the question he asked me. This child thought he was in trouble for some reason.

"Mommy said I was bad, and told me that I had to stay here until she got back, and then she left. I'm really hungry. Can I get something to eat now?" the boy asked.

"How long have you been here?" I asked him, suddenly concerned for this child. It was becoming increasingly obvious to me that he had been abandoned, but I needed more information.

"I dunno," the boy said, shrugging his shoulders. "I had to sleep here last night." Oh my God, this child had been abandoned, not today, but yesterday, and no one had noticed that this angel was here. My mind was racing, I didn't know what to do, but I knew that this boy needed help. Looking around, I saw one of the food venues still open, so I decided that the first thing I needed to do was find this little one something to eat.

"Will you do me a favor, little one?" I asked him. "I want you to sit right here for a few minutes. I'll be right back. Okay?"

"Are you going to leave me too, like my mommy did?" he asked, fear of being left alone suddenly evident in his eyes.

"No, I'm not, little buddy. You see that place over there?" I asked him, pointing to the still open A&W a few feet from the table we were sitting at. He turned to look at where I was pointing then turned back to look at me and nodded his head. "Well, I'm just going to go there and get you some food and then I'll be right back. I promise."

"You promise?" he asked, hope filling his eyes at last.

"Cross my heart," I said, smiling at him.

"And hope to die?" he asked.

"And hope to die," I replied, finishing the little game. Slowly I got up from my chair, and made my way over to the restaurant. One of the guys attending the counter saw me coming towards him, and went to his register.

"Is there something I can get for you, Dale?" he asked. What can I say? I'm a regular.

"I need two cheeseburgers, the largest coke you have, and a large fry, Brad," I told him.

"I saw you talking to that little boy over there, do you know him?" he asked me.

"No, but it's looking like he's been abandoned by his mother and hasn't eaten in at least two days. This is for him."

"Oh my God!" the guy exclaimed. "Hey, Charlie! Make that quick will you?" he called back into the kitchen. I took out my wallet and started to pull out a twenty when Brad stopped me.

"No, this one is on us," Brad said.

"Thanks, Brad. I really can't understand some people. How can they just abandon a child like that?" I said, tears beginning to fill my eyes.

"I don't know. Some people are just sick," Brad said. "Are you going to be okay?"

"I will once I know that that little tyke is taken care of," I said, wiping the tears from my eyes with the back of my hand.

"It's getting late you know," Brad told me.

"I know. And I need to contact the police still about this."

"I hope his mother gets what she deserves," Brad said, filling my tray with the food that I had asked for.

"If I have anything to say about it, she will," I told him. Then lifted the tray and made my way back to the table. The little boy was still sitting in the chair, watching me. I swear I could see the drool coming out of his mouth.

Sitting the tray down in front of him, I took my seat on the other side of the table, and watched as he started to tear into the food. In short order the fries were decimated, as was one of the burgers. He was well into half of his drink, when he suddenly let out a very loud belch. He covered his mouth with both hands, dropping the burger he just piked up, and looked up at me with fear is his eyes.

"Wow, that was a big one!" I said, smiling at him to try and let him know I wasn't upset. "You must be really hungry."

"'Scuse me," he said timidly.

"You just eat, little one. Don't worry about it," I reassured him.

After watching me for a few seconds, he once again picked up the remaining burger. In short order, that one too was gone, and pretty soon so was the drink. All that was left was the ice at the bottom of the cup, and even that he was trying to suck up through the straw.

"Was good was it?" I asked him, once he had placed the cup back down onto the table.

"Uh huh," was his reply.

"So what's your name?" I asked him. "I can't very well keep calling you 'little one'. Especially since if you eat like that any more, you're going to grow to be taller than me." This caused him to smile and giggle slightly.

"Tim," he said, answering my question. "But everyone calls me Timmy."

"I like that name," I said. "Can I call you Timmy?"

"Uh huh," he replied.

"Do you know your last name?" I asked him.

"Uh huh, it's Wolfe," he answered.

"Thanks, buddy. Listen. I need to make a couple phone calls, okay?"

"You going to try and find my mommy?" he asked me, and I could see the hope in his eyes. I could tell that this little guy missed his mom a great deal. My heart was definitely falling for this little guy. I just knew that I had to do whatever I could to help him.

"I'll do what I can. I promise," I said, even though I knew that if we did find his mother, he wouldn't be able to stay with her, since she would probably go to jail.

Taking out my cell phone, I opened up my contacts list, and selected my home phone number. After a couple rings, Mark picked up the phone and said, "Hey, Love."

"Hi, Babe," I replied. I always love hearing his voice, even over the phone.

"How was your night? Ready to come home?" he asked.

"For the most part it was business as usual. Just the usual shoppers bumping into one another, and me having to dodge people."

"Sounds pretty normal to me," Mark said, laughing.

"Yeah. Listen, Mark. I won't be home for a little while," I told him.

"Oh? What's wrong?" he asked.

"Well today I ran into a little boy who looks to have been abandoned by his mother."

"Oh you've got to be joking!" Mark exclaimed.

"I wish I was. I just wanted to let you know that I might be a little while. I need to contact the police and report this."

"I understand, Babe. How old is he?" Mark asked.

"He's about eight years old I'd say."

"Damn. How some people can call themselves parents is beyond me," Mark sighed.

"I know. So I'll see you soon okay, my love?"

"Okay, Dale. I'll see you soon. Love you," Mark said.

"Love you too, Babe," I replied, and closed the connection. The little boy was just sitting there, staring at me.

"Who was that?" he asked me.

"That was my husband," I answered.

"That's silly," he said, giggling again. "You're a boy."

"Yep, you're right, I am. And so is my husband," I said.

"Oh, but I thought guys were supposed to get married to girls when they grow up," he said.

"Most do," I told him honestly. "But some boys marry other boys."

"Oh. Why?" he asked me innocently.

"Your mommy, she married a man didn't she?" I asked him in return.

"No. At least I don't think so. There were different men in our house, but none of them was my daddy," he replied. This simple comment was beginning to make me very upset with his mother. The only reasons I could think of for why his mother would be having so many guys over at their house would be because of drugs, or she was a prostitute. Definitely not the kind of environment suitable for raising a child. Especially not one as sweet as this little boy.

"Well, Timmy. When boys grow up, they usually find a girl that they fall in love with, and eventually get married to. Just like sometimes a boy will grow up and fall in love with another man, and they get married."

"Oh, so you fell in love with another man and married him?" Timmy asked, working things out in his head as best as any eight year old can.

"Yep. That's it," I said, smiling at him. "That doesn't bother you does it?"

"No, silly," he said, giggling again. "I hope when I grow up, I get married to a boy too."

"Well, you're a little young to know that, buddy. Give it some time," I said, smiling at him.

"Girls are so icky," Timmy replied, which caused me to laugh.

"Now they are. But you're only eight years old..." I started.

"I'm nine," he said suddenly.

"Pardon me?" I asked, taking another hard look at him. He certainly didn't look like he was nine years old. In fact, I wasn't even sure he could pass for an eight year old. He couldn't have been more than four feet tall, and probably didn't weigh more than sixty pounds.

"I'm nine years old. My birthday was last month," he said.

"Well, you've still got a lot of growing up to do. Right now I bet you just like playing with your friends, and having fun, right?"

"I don't have many friends," he said sadly.

"I'm sorry to hear that, Timmy. I'm sure you will though."

"Mommy never let me have any though. She said I was supposed to do my chores and stuff at home."

"Well, that's not fair. What about the other boys in your class at school? Didn't you have any friends from school?" I asked him.

"I guess. There was another boy in my class that I used to play with. His name was Kyle. But he left, and never came back."

"Can you tell me what else your mommy made you do?" I asked him. Knowing the kind of environment he lived in, I was almost afraid of the answer. Unfortunately, I wasn't to be disappointed.

"Sometimes she'd come home, and she'd have this funny smell on her breath, and she'd tell me that I had to sleep with her."

"Now this is really important, Timmy, okay?" When he nodded his head, I continued. "When you were with your mommy in her bed, did she ever touch you?"

"Yeah, but I'm not supposed to tell anyone about that. She said she'd get really mad and punish me if I did."

"Timmy, I want you to listen to me, okay?"

"Okay," he replied meekly.

"I'm not going to let anyone hurt you, and I want to help you. But in order to do that, I need you to tell me what you and your mommy did when you slept with her. I promise you you won't get into any trouble."

"Okay," Timmy said.

"Did she make you take off your clothes?" I asked him.

"Uh huh. She didn't even let me wear my undies. She always took her clothes off too and lay down beside me."

"And she touched you. Where did she touch you?" I asked him gently, knowing full well that this little boy in front of me was scared out of his mind.

"On my pee pee," he answered. "Sometimes she would even put her mouth on it and I'd get this funny feeling in my tummy. Why did she do that?"

"I don't know, Timmy. What she did was wrong. Mommies aren't supposed to touch their children like that."

"Oh. But she said I was supposed to let her," he replied.

"I know, little one. But you're far too young to be doing things like that. And your mommy should have known better. The only time anyone should touch you down there is when you want them too, or if you have to go to the doctors and he has to touch you there to make sure you are okay. Did you want your mommy touching you there?" I asked him.

"No. But she said I had to let her," Timmy replied, and I could tell he was really close to tears now. I couldn't begin to imagine how confused he must be feeling right now. A person who he had lived with all his life telling him he had to do all these things, and now hearing that what she had told him was wrong.

"Your mommy did some bad things with you, and she needs to get help. We're going to try and see if we can help her, okay?" I told him.

"Okay. Does that mean you're going to find her for me?"

"Yes I am, little one," I answered. And I knew with all my heart that I was going to do everything I could to see that that happened. "but I have to be honest with you. Your mommy is going to need to get some help, and she won't be able to live with you any more."

"But where am I going to live then?" he said, beginning to cry now. Getting up from the table, I walked over to him, and squatted down before him.

"I don't know, little buddy. But we're going to find you a place where you can grow up and be happy, and with people who'll love you."

"I wish I could live with you," he cried, getting up off his seat, and putting his arms around me in a tight hug. All I could do was put my arms around him, and let him cry into my chest. This boy needed to be loved. Every fiber in my being was screaming out in pain for this child. It was as if I could feel the love that he craved, and my heart was responding to his cries.

"I wish that too, Timmy," I whispered to him. And I meant it. I knew in my heart that I did. Mark and I had talked for a long time about adopting a child, and here was this sweet little boy who yearned to be loved. I just didn't know how I could make happen or even if it was possible.

"You do?" Timmy whispered.

"I do. You're a very special young boy, you know that?" I said, letting him go, and looking into his face.

"No. I didn't do anything," he replied.

"Yes you did. You showed me that you have a lot of love in your heart. Even though your mommy did those things with you, you still love her. And I think that makes you a really special person. We'll make sure that she gets some help. But right now I need to call the police. That way they know that you're okay," I told him.

"Okay," he replied, wiping away some of the tears from his eyes.

Standing back up, I got out my cell phone again, and dialed the three numbers I hoped I never had to dial again.

"Nine-One-One Emergency, do you require, police, ambulance, or fire?" the voice on the other end answered when the phone picked up.

"Police and ambulance, please," I replied.

"What's the nature of your emergency?" she asked.

"I am a security guard at the Mapleview Mall, in Burlington. My name is Dale Carpenter, and I am currently with a nine year old boy who has apparently been abandoned by his mother."

"Thank you sir, I have dispatched a police officer and an ambulance to your location. Can you tell me the condition of the child in question?" she asked.

"The child's name is Tim Wolfe, he's nine years of age, approximately four feet in height, and weighs about sixty pounds. He appears to be in good health, however slightly malnourished. He has also indicated to me that he has been sexually abused," I told her, giving her all the pertinent information I could think of.

"Thank you, sir. The police and ambulance should be arriving momentarily," she said. "Please stay on the line until they arrive."

"Thank you. I will have someone meet them at the entrance by Starbucks," I told her. I then grabbed Brad's attention, who had been finishing up closing the gate to the A&W, and waved him over. When he approached me, I told him what I needed him to do for me, and he was only too happy to help out as I saw him jog up the stairs to go meet the emergency personnel. Charlie, the person who made the food for Timmy, was standing beside me now as well.

"Charlie, I need to borrow your cell phone, do you mind?" I asked him.

"Not a problem, Dale," he answered, getting out his cell phone, and handing it to me. I handed him my cell phone which was still connected to the Nine-One-One operator.

Punching in a number into Charlie's phone, I waited for the person I was trying to get in contact with to pick up. It wasn't too late, and I knew she would be up at this time. On the third ring, the phone was answered, and a woman's voice spoke.


"Aunt Anna? It's me, Dale," I said.

"Dale! How are you? What are you doing calling me at this time of night?" she asked me.

"I have a situation here at the mall, and I really could use your help," I told her.

"What's wrong?"

"I don't have time to explain it over the phone, but I need you to come to the mall as soon as you can. It's really important. All I can tell you is that it involves a child," I told her.

"I'll be right over," she replied after a slight pause. The phone went dead, and I handed the phone back to Charlie.

"Who was that?" he asked me.

"Someone who I hope will be able to help me with this little guy here," I said, looking down at a very clingy Timmy. He was practically attached to me, his arms wrapped around my waist. I put my hand on his shoulder reassuringly, hoping that I could make him understand that things were going to be all right.

Movement caught my eye, and I looked over to see Brad walking back down the stairs, and he was followed by two ambulance attendants and a police officer. They quickly made their way over to us, which I think scared Timmy a bit, since he began to hold onto me even more tightly.

"It's okay, Timmy," I said. These people are going to help you. Brad said something into my phone, then hung it up, handing it back to me.

"Are you Dale Carpenter?" the police officer asked me.

"Yes I am," I answered, and shook his hand.

"My name is Constable O'Brien," the officer said while the two ambulance attendants began to set up their equipment. Timmy's eyes were wide with awe at everything they were setting up.

"Hi, are you Timmy?" one of the attendants asked the little cling-on I had wrapped around me.

"Uh huh," Timmy answered. "how do you know my name?" he asked.

"Your friend Dale told us over the phone," he replied, smiling at the little boy.

"Do you know what we're here for?" the attendant asked.

"To see if I'm okay?" Timmy asked.

"Yes, that's right. We want to make sure you're healthy, so we're going to listen to your heart, and breathing and stuff like that," the attendant said. I was very pleased to see how gently he was treating Timmy. I could tell that this wasn't just a job to the attendant, but that he enjoyed what he did a lot.

"Okay," Timmy said.

"You're going to have to let go of your friend though. I promise he won't leave you. He'll be right here." Timmy looked at the attendant, and then back up at me. I smiled at him reassuring him that it was okay, and he reluctantly let me go. The attendant had Timmy sit back down on the seat at the table, and began to go over Timmy's vitals.

The officer at that moment cleared his throat, trying to get my attention. "I need you to tell me how you discovered this boy."

"Oh, right," I said, returning my attention to the officer. "Well, I was making my normal rounds. The mall was pretty packed, and it was close to closing time. I noticed Timmy here sitting alone in the food court. At first I thought he was just sitting there waiting for one of his parents to get back with some food, so I continued on my rounds. When I came back to the food court, which must have been about ten or fifteen minutes later, I saw that he was still sitting alone. I knew something was wrong then, and approached him. I found out that he'd actually been left here alone since yesterday. Apparently his mother dropped him off and told him to stay here.

"I ordered some food for him, since I could tell that he was really hungry, and started talking to him. I found out that his mother was raising him in a very unsuitable environment, and I am guessing that she is either a drug addict or a prostitute just by some of the things that Timmy has told me.

"I also found out that his mother may have been sexually abusing him. How far she had gone, I do not know. I didn't want to ask, since Timmy was scared enough as it was. That's when I called Nine-One-One.

"He told me his name was Tim Wolfe, and that he was nine years old. Beyond that I haven't asked him for any other information, since I didn't want to frighten him any more than he already is," I finished.

"Thank you. Unbelievable," the officer commented. "How could a mother do that to a child?"

"Believe me, I asked myself the same question, officer," I said.

"The CAS will have to get involved," Constable O'Brien stated.

"The CAS is already involved, Officer," a woman's voice said, walking towards us.

"Hi, Aunt Anna," I said, giving her a hug when she came up to me.

"I've missed you, Dale," she said, returning my hug. "Now what is it that you've gotten yourself into this time?"

"Aunt Anna, I'd like you to meet Timmy," I said, pointing over to Timmy who was at that moment trying out the ambulance attendants stethoscope on the attendant.

"Excuse me, you are..." Constable O'Brien inquired.

"Anna Jacobs, Director of the Halton Children's Aid Society," Anna answred.

"Oh, nice to meet you," Constable O'Brien said, shaking her hand.

"Likewise. I take it you have taken a statement from my nephew?" she asked.

"You mean Dale here? Yes I have. He just gave it to me."

"Do you have a business card on you?" she asked him.

"Yes I do," he replied, and reached into his jacket pocket, and pulled out a business card, handing it to her. She then handed him one of her own cards.

"Thank you. I presume you are going to be starting an investigation on this matter," Anna continued.

"Yes. I will need to talk to Timmy, though."

"Do me a favor. Could you wait for a couple days before you interview him? I know this must be a lot for a little boy to handle all at once, and we need to get him someplace settled where he'll feel safe," Anna said.

"Of course. I understand completely," Constable O'Brien said. "We have some information to go on at least, but we'll need more if we're to have any hope in locating his mother."

"Yes. Well, as of this moment, I'm going to make him a ward of the CAS," Anna said. "When I've made my report, I'll see to it that you get a copy for your investigation."

"Thank you, that will be most helpful. I don't believe there is much more for me to do here tonight then," Constable O'Brien said, and shook both my hand and Anna's before leaving us. The attendants had finished with their evaluations of Timmy, and were packing up their things. Timmy slipped off the chair, and made his way to my side again, putting his arms around my waist.

"Looks like he's grown quite attached to you," Anna said, smiling over at me.

"Yeah. He's become a regular cling-on," I said, laughing slightly.

"I'm no Klingon, I'm a boy," Timmy protested innocently, which made me laugh even more.

"We're finished here, though he will need to be taken to the hospital for a rape kit," one of the attendants told us.

"Don't worry, he will be," Anna said. "As the Director of the Halton CAS, I'm personally taking charge of this boy's case."

"Okay then. It was nice to see you, Timmy. You be good, okay?" the attendant said, looking back at Timmy.

"Okay," Timmy said, and waved them good bye as they turned to leave.

"So now, little one. We need to find you a place to sleep tonight," Anna said.

"I want to stay with Dale," Timmy said, holding onto me even tighter as if he was afraid that Anna would take him away from me.

"You like Dale, do you?" Anna asked.

"Yeah. He's pretty neat. And he's got a husband too!" Timmy said, excitedly.

"Dale, what have you been telling him?" Anna asked, looking up at me.

"Oh, he heard me talking to Mark on the phone, and asked me who he was. I couldn't very well lie to Timmy," I said.

"No of course not," she said, knowing full well how curious nine year old boys can be. She then turned her attention back to Timmy. "Well Timmy. It looks like you want to go with Dale to his place. Is that right?" Anna asked.

"Uh huh," Timmy said, nodding his head in agreement.

"What about you, Dale? Think you're up to having a nine year old in your home?"

"Aunt Anna, you know full well that Mark and I have been talking about adopting a child. We're more ready to have Timmy stay with us," I told her.

"Dale, why did you call her 'Aunt' Anna?" he asked me.

"That's because, Timmy, Dale is my nephew," she told him.

"Does that mean you're my Aunt too?" Timmy asked.

"I would love to be," Anna said, her face taking on a look of both surprise and happiness.

"Then that'd mean he's my new Daddy, right?"

"Little buddy, I would love to be your Daddy," I told him, which caused him to hug me even more tightly, if that was even possible.

"I luv you, Daddy," he said, crying quietly.

"I love you too, Timmy," I said. I knew just how he felt, and honestly was close to crying myself. Anna simply looked at us, and smiled knowingly. She took out a kleenex from her purse, and handed it to me, which I accepted and used to help dry the tears that were forming in my eyes.

"I think you're going to need to call Mark about this," Anna said.

"Yeah, I know," I said, sniffling slightly. Getting out my phone again, I dialed my home phone which was answered by Mark after several rings.

"Hi, Babe. You still at the mall?" he asked me.

"Yeah, hon. Aunt Anna is here with me as well," I said.

"I thought you'd call her. So what's up?"

"Mark, I've got a question for you," I started.

"Oh oh," he said, realizing that whatever I wanted to ask him, was going to be very serious.

"How would you like to be the foster father to a nine year old boy?" I asked him.

"What?!" Mark exclaimed, loud enough that Anna and everyone else could hear. I heard Brad and Charlie chuckling slightly, and Anna was doing everything possible to not laugh out loud.

"Well?" I asked him.

"Dale, you know we've been wanting to adopt a child. Of course the answer's yes, but how? When?"

"Maybe I should let Aunt Anna answer that," I said, and held out the phone to her. She rolled her eyes at me for a second then took the phone.

"Hi Mark," she said.

"Hi Aunt Anna. What's this about Dale and I getting to foster this boy?"

"Mark, all I can tell you is that little Timmy, that's the boy's name, has really become attached to your husband. And I don't just mean that figuratively either," Anna said. "I'm prepared to start the paperwork to name you Timmy's foster parents. I can have an emergency order made up first thing tomorrow morning, and have it official before lunch. The only thing I need to know is whether or not this is what you want to do."

"Aunt Anna, yes, I would love to. And if Timmy is as attached to Dale as you say he is, then there's no way I could say otherwise."

"Excellent. We should be over shortly then. Just one thing. First thing tomorrow, I'm going to have to take Timmy to the hospital to get a rape kit done," Anna said.

"Oh God, no! You can't be serious. Who'd do that to a little boy?" Mark asked.

"Not a human being, that is for sure," Anna said.

"Well, you bring that little one over, Aunt Anna. Dale and I will make sure that Timmy is loved and cared for like he was our own son," Mark said.

"I never had a doubt, Mark. We will see you soon. Bye," she said.

"Bye," Mark answered and hung up the phone.

"Well, are you ready to go to your new home, Timmy?" Anna asked him.

"You mean I get to go home with my new Daddy?" Timmy asked.

"That's right, little buddy," I told him.

"YES!" Timmy exclaimed happily.

Gathering Timmy up in my arms, together we all made our way up the stairs and headed for the exit. Charlie took the keys from me and made sure the doors were locked, then handed them back to me. Outside, Charlie and Brad said their goodbyes to us, especially to Timmy then headed off to their cars. With Timmy in my arms, as happy as any nine year old could be, I headed for my car. Anna had already climbed into hers and had started it up.

Unlocking the car doors, I helped Timmy get into the back seat, making sure his seat belt was secured properly, then got in myself and started the car. Slowly I pulled out of the parking lot, with Anna following closely behind me. Together we drove to my home, where Mark was waiting for us, and where Timmy was going to start his new life.

Editor's Notes:

It looks like things are going to work out well for everyone concerned, with the possible exception of Timmy's mother, She might just have some serious problems ahead of her. It looks to me as if Anna might just have a few things to say to her when ever they are able to talk, and I don't think that mommy dearest is going to be too happy when she hears what is going to happen to her. I have a feeling that things will be better for Timmy, though.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher