This story has sexual content, if this offends you,stop reading now. Sex is not the major topic of this story. If erotic stories are banned where you live, leave this site immediately before you are arrested (you were warned), or if you are deemed to be underage by your government and too young to read this then you should leave now (in either case go look up the names of these people and be sure to vote against them when you are old enough).
This story is fiction. That means I made it up. As the author I may make real life problems disappear with a sentence or two. If you think you recognize yourself or anyone you know it is pure chance, go by a lottery ticket this could be your lucky day.
Copyright 2007: str8mayb –– that means the story is copyrighted by me in 2007. Do not re-post without my written permission.
There is also sexual child abuse in this story. It is not described in detail. It is in no way meant as a turn on but as an explanation and motivation, to the characters. The author is appalled by this type of behavior and in absolutely no way condones it. Where possible the guilty do suffer, one of the perks of fiction, the bad guys lose. Although this is posted in Adult – Youth do not expect hot sex.
I hope you enjoy. E-mail to email@example.com
Keep reading and enjoy.
Tuesday was much more peaceful. The Physical Therapist came by in the morning and did evaluations for Andy and Travis. Both boys were given a sheet with exercises to help rebuild muscles, some cream to help with any tender spots.
The boys took turns on the computer and didn't complain, but it was obvious to Lee that he needed to get at least one more and probably two more. That would tighten the budget quite a bit, but that could be Christmas.
In the afternoon, Aunt Martha began preparing the food for Thursday's feast. She got Andy to help since he had asked to learn to cook and soon Mitch and Travis were helping too. Dinner consisted of hamburgers on the grill and Lee showed Andy the finer points of the gas grill.
After dinner, Andy asked if he could go to Scouts. Lee's back was hurting and he had taken a pain pill and so couldn't drive. Martha offered to take him and the other boys too if they wanted. Travis was disappointed because his feet hurt but he insisted that Mitch go with them.
After they had gone, Lee realized he hadn't brought his drink into the den. “Hey, Travis, would you please do me a favor and go get me my drink. I left it in the kitchen. Thanks, guy.”
Lee watched as Travis got up and carefully made his way out to the kitchen. He returned, presently, placed the glass on the coffee table, grabbed Lee's cane and pushed the glass towards him. This made Lee realize just how traumatized Travis really was. Lee would love to be able to hug this kid and let him know just how much he was loved. Of course, if Lee grabbed him, he would totally freak.
Lee reached for the drink. Of course, as luck would have it, his back decided it was time to spasm. Pain shot through him. (If you have never experienced back pain, imagine the worst pain you have ever had, no the worst pain, got it? Now that is a picnic, multiply it by a factor of ten. Now you're about halfway there.) As the muscles spasmed and the pain racked his body, Lee ended up in a heap on the floor, between his support chair and the coffee table. His cane, which may not have helped anyway, was on the far end of the table where Travis had left it.
Through gritted teeth, because of the pain, Lee said, “Travis, Can you help me...back in...the chair,...please?”
When Lee was finally able to focus, Travis was just standing there. He was absolutely terrified. Lee could tell that he was torn between keeping his distance and helping. Lee really needed the help. Of course, Martha, Andy and Mitch would be back in about two hours.
“I...I...I...” Travis was terrified. Lee knew his physical pain would pass but Travis's mental anguish was an entirely different matter.
Ginger came and whined at Lee or for Lee or whatever; and licked his perspiration covered forehead. It was a strangely soothing gesture. Max was behind Travis watching. Travis was trembling; he had to be torn between protecting himself and helping Lee. Max then, seemingly made a decision for him. He pushed Travis's bottom with his head. Making Travis lose his balance and fall on the floor right with Lee. He was quivering with fear. Lee gently pulled him into a hug and held him, when the tears came.
“I'm sorry, I'm so sorry,” he sobbed. “Please don't hurt me.”
“Travis, there is no way I would ever hurt you. I only want to love you and protect you. With time, I may be able to prove that, if you'll let me. What you have survived, no young child should ever have to deal with. Martha, Mitch and I love you, because that's what we do in this family. You have nothing to be sorry for. You didn't make me fall, my own back did that, weather like this often does that. Even if you had brought the drink to me, my back would have done this when I picked it up to drink. In a few minutes the spasm will pass and I will be able to get up.”
“Really?” Travis whispered, hopefully.
“Yes, really, son.”
They cried together for some time, until the front door burst open and Mitch, Martha and Andy came rushing in. Soon, with their help, Lee was back in his chair. Travis had tried to move away but Lee wouldn't let go of his hand, and then gently pulled him onto his lap. Lee whispered into Travis's ear, “It would make me feel better, if you would just sit here with me for a little while.”
Travis thought about that, and then snuggled into Lee. He whispered back, “Makes me feel better too,” then they grinned at each other.
Martha came into the room carrying a tray with mugs of hot chocolate. “That is the most amazing thing," Martha murmured, "Mitch suddenly yelling about Travis being terrified, and how we had to get home.”
They sat and talked for a while and Travis actually fell asleep in Lee's lap. Mitch noticed, and gave his Dad a thumbs up. Max had gone over to Andy and lay down to be petted and scratched. When it was bedtime, Lee motioned for them to go on, and leave Travis with him.
Lee drifted off after the news. At about four in the morning, Lee snapped awake. He felt like he was being watched. He opened his eyes, and Travis was indeed staring at him. “You aren't going to hurt me, you love me.” It was a statement of fact not even a hint of a question.
“Yes. That's right; I wouldn't hurt you like that, Travis. Yes, I love you. My heart was lost that night when Max found you. I told Linda that I wanted to add you to my family, that night. I didn't know you were really Mitch's brother, but he and I made you his brother right then and there.”
Travis stared for a few moments while all that sank in. “I didn't...I thought that...Oh, can you forgive me?”
“Travis, there is nothing to forgive, son. You have done nothing wrong. You were forced to do wrong things, but those sins belong to those who made you do them, not to you.”
Travis hugged Lee and sobbed himself back to sleep. Lee wondered if he had said the right things. Although he was still in the chair in the den, he felt wonderful and although the pain medication was now out of his system he felt fine. It must be the healing power of love.
Max woke them up in the morning with a big doggy kiss. Travis climbed off Lee and dashed to the bathroom. Max whined and pawed the door. “Okay, boy, I'll let you out, then I get to go.” When Lee returned to the kitchen, after a shave and shower, he put on a pot of coffee. Martha soon joined him and they reviewed tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast. Martha fixed some hot oatmeal with cinnamon, raisins and some homemade applesauce added. The boys appeared like magic and were ready to chow-down.
Cooking was the order of the day; pumpkin pie, mincemeat pie, putting together the green bean casserole, making the stuffing, preparing the twice baked potatoes. The turkey had finished thawing in the refrigerator. The boys were really into the spirit of it all. Travis sat most of the time, to keep his healing feet from getting sore. Andy would stand for awhile, then sit, to rest his stump. Mitch was the general gofer. They cut up the vegetables, scooped out the potatoes; Aunt Martha had baked yesterday after dinner, mixed ingredients, and in general, had a great time and managed to dirty up almost everything in the kitchen.
Lee checked on them several times and once made the mistake of asking where the World Famous Aunt Martha Apple Pie was. He was soon peeling and coring apples for that world famous pie.
By the end of the day everything was ready for tomorrow. The boys were concerned that although there was a double oven, there seemed to be a lot to cook. Aunt Martha explained, “That is why we did so much today. The pies are done, the glazed carrots cook on the stove, the bean casserole, stuffing and yeast rolls cook in one oven. I will cook the turkey overnight and the ham in the morning, and then turn that oven to warm and let the ham and turkey stay in there.”
“How do you cook the turkey overnight?” Andy asked.
“I learned this a while back. I preheat the oven to five hundred degrees and place the turkey in it for one hour, and then I turn off the oven, but do not open the door until morning.” Aunt Martha explained to the boys.
After dinner the phone rang and Lee answered;
“Hello, Harris residence.
“Oh, hi Nick, What can I do for you?”
“Ah, sure, what time?”
Looking over at Martha, Lee covered the phone, “Martha can I invite Nick to dinner tomorrow?”
Martha smiled and replied, “Of course, there is plenty.”
“Nick, why don't you come by about two o'clock, and come hungry and join us for Thanksgiving dinner?”
“That would be nice, we'll see you then, Bye.”
All three boys and Martha were looking at Lee, waiting for him to fill them in. “That was Mr. Regnad.” He got 'the look' from all four of them. “He wanted to talk as soon as possible. He said he was free anytime tomorrow, so I invited him to dinner.”
Martha asked, “What did he want to talk about?”
“He didn't say.”
“And you didn't ask? No pie for you tonight.” Martha teased.
“We'll find out tomorrow. No pie?” Lee tried the puppy eyes thing and everyone laughed at him.
“That was pathetic,” Martha commented, “I'll give you pie if you promise to stop that look.”
Lee perked right up, “Deal!”
Later, after finishing off and entire pumpkin pie, everyone was about to head for bed. Martha told them, “Boys, I have a family tradition that I would like us to follow tomorrow. Before eating, we will go around the table and share what we are thankful for. It doesn't have to be real personal or anything, just something to share with the rest of us.”
Mitch and Travis said in unison, “Kewl, no problem.”
Lee smiled and said, “I can certainly handle that.”
Andy shrugged his shoulders and went to his room.
Lee and Martha got the twins tucked in and Travis grabbed Lee's hand, “Me, too, please.”
Lee bent down and kissed Travis on the forehead, as Travis reached up and pulled Lee into a gentle hug Travis kissed Lee on the cheek and said "Thank you fer being here for me and loving me even after the way I acted. I love you. Can I call you Dad too?”
Fighting back tears, Lee nodded and whispered “That would be perfect, son.” They hugged again, and then Lee left, turning out the light. Max licked Travis approvingly. Mitch cuddled up to his brother and wrapped him in his arms and they quickly drifted off to sleep.
Lee waited for Andy to finish his shower and get into bed. Then he knocked on the door. There was a pause before Andy said, “Come in.”
When lee entered, Andy had a flushed look and was nervously adjusting the covers. There was a bulge in his lap. Lee smiled and ignored that, after all, Andy was a healthy sixteen year old. “Andy, you seemed unhappy with Aunt Martha's request. Do you want to talk about it?”
“No. I mean, yes. Crap, Mr. Harris, what do I have, to be thankful for? I mean, everyone that I love...I kill them.” Andy sobbed and cried.
Lee hugged Andy and let him cry. “Andy, you didn't cause either one of those things to happen. Your Mom died because she was sick, you did not cause her to get sick. It was her time to pass and the words of a ten year old boy do not cause that to happen. And your Dad wanted to give you that motorcycle. In fact, from what I heard, you saved a kid's life. Don't you think that is what your Dad would have wanted you to do?”
Andy started crying again. Lee held him till he cried himself to sleep.
* * * Andy's Dream * * *
Andy is lost. There is nothing in the way of landmarks. Then there was Max running towards him barking and wagging his puppy tail. Then there was a puff of magic and instead of Max, there was a beautiful snow white horse, with intense blue eyes and silver hooves. Riding on his back, in a snow white uniform of some kind, was an adult Travis (or Mitch). In a deep voice, the rider said, “Andrew, I've some people that need to talk to you.”
Ginger appears, her eyes different, like a field of stars. Then a woman appeared, she was about thirty, there was a glow around her. “Andy, baby, my, how you've grown. You're such a handsome young man.”
“Yes, Andy. I love you.”
“I'm sorry, Mommy. I didn't mean it. I didn't really want you taken away.”
“Oh Andy, I know that. Poor baby, You had nothing to do with my getting sick. When Max came, I was already sick. I knew he was too much for you and Daddy to care for, after I was gone...”
Andy looked at his mother with tears clouding his vision, she moved to him, and he felt his mother's arms comfort him.
When he regained his composure, things shifted and his Dad was there, younger than he was when he died, with the glow. “Son, I am so very proud of you. You saved that little boy. He now has a whole future ahead of him, and is destined to do some great things. I was wrong to get on that bike without the safety gear. That was not your fault. You could have tried stopping and not swerved, but I know if you had, you would have killed little Jerry, not me. I am very happy with the outcome, your mother and I are very proud of you and very happy to be together again.”
Then both his parents were together holding hands and they told him, “You are with a very good family. Lee is a good man and we couldn't have picked a better father for you, and now you have two little brothers that we couldn't provide you. You need to learn to be a big brother, for there will be a call for that, soon, but that is another story, that we wont get into at this time. Always remember, we love you.”
Andy woke up with the sun shining in his window. He felt really good this morning. He took a deep breath and looked around the bedroom; he could have sworn he smelled his Mom. Then the dream came back to him. He replayed it a couple of times, then got up and started his day.
After breakfast, Martha got started on the final stages of cooking for their feast. The turkey was beautiful and the little thermometer was popped out, which convinced Lee and the boys that it really was done. The Macy's parade was on the TV and Lee put his favorite Christmas CDs in the player. When the boys weren't helping Martha, Lee had them pulling Christmas decorations out of the attic. With so many people in the house, now, Lee decided that what they didn't use, he would store out in the barn, so the attic would be available for storing the boys' things.
They all stopped to watch Santa in the parade. As always, they had a good one. Then Lee and the boys started the annual "fight to untangle the lights, exercise". As the ball of wire was pulled from the box, Lee commented, “No matter how you put them away, they get all tangled up. It's like they have an orgy in there.”
Andy blushed and laughed. Mitch and Travis looked blank at the other two, and that set Lee off in a fit of laughter. Mitch said to Travis, “They're weird.”
Travis nodded agreement.
With the four of them working, they were soon outside, ready to put them up. Andy would move the ladder, Travis would keep the string of lights untangled, and Mitch went up and down the ladder hanging the lights. Lee watched and was amazed at how well the boys were working together. They had just finished putting the lights up when Nick Regnad arrived.
Lee decided this was a good time to stop, and told the boys to put the ladder away and come inside. Nick went to the kitchen and put two bottles in the refrigerator. Martha said, “My goodness, Nick, two bottles of wine?”
“Oh no, only one is wine, the other is sparkling grape juice for the boys.” Nick explained.
“That was very thoughtful, Nick. You always seem so good with them. You go on into the den; dinner still has about an hour to go.”
Soon Nick, Lee and the boys were all in the den. Lee asked, “Nick, you wanted to talk to us?”
“Yes, sadly, I need for the boys to tell me what they can remember of the fires, and the abuses they endured. Boys, I really am sorry. I know it will be a hard thing for you to do. My idea is that we only do it once. I talked to the various people concerned, and there was no objection from any of them. Well one of them was in a snit, but I couldn't care less about him. You see, there are different people that need to hear this and they might need questions answered. I thought that just having one person for you to talk to would be less of a problem for you.”
Mitch looked at Nick then asked, “Who else?”
Nick smiled, “That's the big question, isn't it? Well, I am looking for some leads into your past, Dr. Billings is looking for background, Lt. Brown is looking for evidence and, lastly, and as far as I'm concerned, least, Special Agent Dukman...”
Nick was cut off by Lee, Travis, Mitch, Andy and Martha (from the kitchen), “NO!” Max and Ginger both growled.
“I've only seen them react like that once before; (He pointed at the dogs.) to Helga.” Lee commented.
“Oh, God, I had the misfortune to bite into one of her cookies. It was the gift that kept on giving, That fishy taste lasted for a week.” Nick said, with a look of genuine horror on his face.
“Yeah, been there done that, Yuk.” Mitch added. Ginger barked then licked Mitch's hand in sympathy.
Nick laughed, “And some people think dogs aren't smart. By the way does Dukman have that effect on everyone?”
“Yes, I think he does. I wonder how long the judge was able to keep him locked up?” Lee responded.
“Actually, his superior talked the judge into releasing him yesterday.” Nick grinned.
“I ain't tellin' that Fff...oops, sorry Aunt Martha, I ain't tellin' him nothin'.” Travis said, vehemently.
Nick met his determined gaze. “I promise he will not be present then. Deal?” Nick held out his hand to shake.
Travis looked at the hand and slowly reached out and grasped it. His eyes widened, “You wouldn't do anything to hurt me or Mitch.”
Nick accepted the statement and smiled. Max then jumped up and gave Nick some very wet doggy kisses. Ginger was scratching his leg for some loving too.
Lee commented, “Nick, you have won the approval of Travis and both dogs. Now, that is impressive.”
The tension was broken and the boys agreed to have the session, as soon as Lt. Brown, Dr. Lisa and, at Lee's request, Linda, could arrange it.
When dinner was ready, they all gathered in the dining room and Aunt Martha said, “I asked last night that everyone think of what they are thankful for, and that we would share, at this time. I'll start. I'm thankful for having Lee and the boys in my life. I had begun to feel useless and now I know I'm really needed.”
Lee went next, “I had thought my life was over and I would never be productive again. Now, I have a family and friends, and a house full of love. Thank you all so very much. I love you.”
Mitch was next, “I'm thankful for Dad. He cared for me and showed me that even though I had lost my family, I had a new one. And he helped me get my brother back, and Ginger and Aunt Martha and Andy...I love you Dad.”
Travis hugged his brother, and just said, “Me too.”
Everyone glanced at Andy, to see if he was going to say anything. He slowly lifted his head; he had been looking down at his plate. As he looked up, his eyes met Lee's and Lee saw the tears in Andy's eyes just at the surface. Andy took a deep breath and blew his nose on the napkin.
Lee said, “You don't have to, if it's too difficult.”
“No, this is something I need to do. See, I had this dream last night. It started out pretty weird. Max became this white horse and a grown up Mitch or Travis, I couldn't tell which, was in this white uniform and then Ginger brought my Mom, and she told me how much she loved me. Then my Dad was there. They told me I wasn't the cause of the bad stuff and they still loved me.
“So, I'm thankful for having Max back, and Ginger. My new brothers and my new Dad, and Aunt Martha and the Scouts.” Andy wiped his eyes again, and then was hugged by the boys, Lee and Martha.
Travis said, “It was me on the horse, only it wasn't a horse...I had the same dream. Weird.”
“Me too.” said Mitch.
“This is weird; I had a dream like that, not to long ago.” Lee remarked.
Travis said, “What do you mean having Max back? He's mine.”
Max whined, from under the table.
“Chill, Travis, I know that, Max told me, too. No, when I was your age I found this puppy, and fell in love with him. My Mom wouldn't let me keep him, because she knew she was dieing. That puppy was Max.”
“Woof,” from under the table.
“Wow, cool. He told me he chose me, when I came home that first weekend.” Travis looked under the table and smiled at Max.
Nick looked around, “Hmm, sounds like Mercedes Lackey to me. I'm thankful to be able to feel like part of a family again. I've been pretty much alone since leaving Los Angeles. Thank you all for making me a part of this family.”
Nick was looking right at Martha, a fact that didn't escape Lee or the boys.
Lee then said grace and began slicing the turkey. Soon everyone was busy eating. Just as they were finishing, the phone rang, and Martha went to answer it.
“Susie, how wonderful to hear from you.”
“Happy Thanksgiving to you too. How are my grandkids?”
“Oh, they are growing up so fast.”
“Oh, sweetheart, I can't leave the boys.”
“Uh. Hold on.”
Martha poked her head through the doorway, “Lee, My daughter in Maryland has asked us to visit them for Christmas. She says there is plenty of room for all of us and the dogs too.”
Lee looked at each of the boys, Mitch nodded, Travis looked at Mitch and nodded too, Andy looked blank, and just shrugged. Lee turned to Martha and said, “Okay, but we are bringing the tree. I have a nice spruce in mind.”
Martha disappeared back into the kitchen; making plans with her daughter. When she returned, she had the pies and desert plates, in hand. “Nick, can you join us on our Christmas trip?”
“Thank you, Martha. I really wish I could, but there is so much stuff here that I have to get done. I'm busy with this case, and now Mr. Richards has me investigating the school board chairman, the middle school principal, and some ditsy secretary at the intermediate school. This is quite a web and I'm trying to untangle it. I'm still trying to find the father of a sweet girl named Pat, and we might actually be close to doing that. On top of that, I'm getting e-mails with more details than anyone should be able to get, without a super computer networked to every police and medical facility in the country.
Be sure to give me the phone number, there, so I can wish my new family a Merry Christmas.”
Martha blushed as Nick looked at her.
When they were finished, Lee told Martha, “You and Nick go on into the den. The boys and I will clean up.” The boys moaned but started clearing the table.
In the kitchen, Lee said to the boys, “We should give Aunt Martha and Nick a little time together. I think there might be something wonderful happening between them, if we give them a chance.”
“That's cool.” Andy said.
“Eeeeeeew,” Mitch and Travis said together.
About twenty minutes later, they joined Martha and Nick in the den. The two budding romantics were sitting next to each other on the couch holding hands. Lee was reminded of his grandparents who had raised him. They would always sit next to each other and hold hands just like that. Lee could see the love that was growing stronger as they looked into each other's eyes.
“Well, if we aren't going to be here for Christmas, then I don't see any reason to do a lot of decorating. Let's just put up a few things, but not go nuts. Boys, lets go find a few things, then we can carry the rest of the boxes out to the barn.” The boys had a great time looking through the boxes of decorations. They decided to take out the single candle sticks, for each window, a wreath for the front door, the plastic crèche, and some other small items to decorate with. After carrying the boxes out to the barn, the boys started setting up the crèche. Travis had very little idea of what it was all about. Andy patiently told him the story, using the figures. Mitch filled in bits and pieces. Lee, Martha and Nick were extremely impressed with how well Andy did. Travis was spellbound and he had lots of questions. The ones Andy couldn't answer, (or was too embarrassed to answer, like about virgins) Lee or Martha answered. By the time Andy was done, the manger and all the characters were in place on the coffee table. The dogs sniffed, but didn't bother the set.
“I kind of like it there. Helps us remember the true meaning of Christmas.” Lee remarked.
They put up the rest of the decorations, Nick and Martha seemed to work together all the time. When they were finished, Martha got out the leftovers and soon they were all having turkey sandwiches.
Nick left, just before Mitch and Travis had to go to bed. Since Andy was older, he got to stay up later if he wanted. Martha walked Nick out to his car and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She was smiling from ear to ear when she returned. “Lee, you and the boys will be on your own Saturday night. Nick has asked me to dinner and a movie.”
“Eeeeeeww!” chorused the twins.
“Way kewl.” said Andy.
“I think we can manage. Hmm, we could have Liver and Brussel Sprouts and Lime Jell-O Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise.” Lee responded.
“Aunt Martha! HELP!” the three boys cried.
“Don't worry boys; I won't let him do that to you.” Martha said laughing.
Andy and Lee returned to the den after putting the boys to bed and Martha went on to bed too.
“So, Andy, you seem much happier today.” Lee said.
Andy thought for a few seconds, “Yes, I think I am. That dream last night, my parents telling me I'm not to blame. I know people have told me that, but somehow for them to tell me made it real.”
“Yes, I imagine it did.”
“Well, there is something else they told me.” Andy paused, and took a deep breath. “They said that they were happy I had you for my Dad now. They said they couldn't have picked a better man to be my Dad.”
Lee and Andy hugged and shared a good cry. Lee finally recovered enough to say, “I feel very honored, Andy.”
“Can I, ah, well, Mr. Harris, would it be okay if, ah, if I, ah, well, could I call you Dad.” Andy managed to get out.
Lee hugged Andy tightly, “Yes, I would love for you to do that, son.”
“I love you, Dad.”
“I love you too, son.”
Thanks for reading another chapter. Looks like Andy is going to be okay and make a good big brother for Mitch and Travis. Martha and Nick seem to be hitting it off well also. Travis is opening up, and beginning to trust. Now we need to figure out who is behind the fires and why. And who is feeding Nick information? And how do I make my voice do that?
If you really want to know what happens next go check out www.paddedroom.us I post chapters there first.
Let me know what you think. firstname.lastname@example.org
While I was editing this chapter, I used three boxes of Kleenex. I hope it has the same effect on you. I'm buying stock this week.
AKA Radio Rancher
Thanks RR My Kleenex stock is doing really, really well. str8mayb
Fort Chief Editor's Notes;
A wonderfully emotional and heartwarming chapter; the scene between Travis and Lee was beautiful. I agree with Str8mayb it is a very nice thing. I am finally catching on to the "Flaming Shingle References" and no I ain't explaining it.