Sierra Inn

By Mark The Goodpen

The following story is a work of fiction. If you find material like this offensive, then that's your problem I didn't make you read this. If you're under age, get out!! You're still there aren't you? Oh well I tried.

Seriously though, to read this story you need to be able to separate fantasy from reality and know when to keep it zipped. There is a large difference between words on a page and real actions. Remember that. The characters in this story are fictional and not in anyway meant to depict any real person living or dead.

This is my story and my own words, if you want to post, or make a profit on a story create your own! Thank you.

Thank you to everyone who has e-mailed their feedback on this story. You're e-mails let me know I should keep the Sierra Inn in business.

Feedback is always welcome, whether it be positive comments, constructive criticism or even a suggestion. Simply e-mail me at Please put Sierra Inn in the subject of your e-mail. I will try my hardest to reply to all e-mails.


Sierra Inn
Chapter 5

I wake up the next morning not fully comprehending where I am.  I know I am sleeping on a couch so my brain assumes, in its still semi-conscious state that I'm in my office.  But when my eyes open and I see a television across the room and a mess on the floor I feel confused.  Quickly the events from yesterday come back to me, and I remember that I left Brian sleeping in my bedroom.  I sit up on the couch and see that the sun is just starting to rise.  Groggily I get off the couch and go to check on my pint sized house guest.

The door to the bedroom is still open and I carefully peak in, Brian is still laying there but he is awake now just staring at the ceiling.  

"Good morning kiddo," I say, stepping into the doorway of the bedroom.
"Hi," he says, propping himself up on his elbows.
"Did you sleep well?" I ask, with a slight yawn.
"Yeah," he says.  "You're bed's more comfortable than the one at the motel," he says.
"Thanks, I think," I say, not sure if I should take that as a compliment or not.  "I'm going to take a shower, unless you want to go first."
"You can go first," Brian says.
"OK, I'll be out in a few," I say.
"Kevin," Brian says before I can even turn for the bathroom.
"Yeah," I say, looking at his blue eyes that are peering through the still darkened room at me.
"Thanks," he says.  "For keeping your promise."
"Well when I promise something I mean it," I say, a small smile coming to my face.
"Just like me," Brian says, and I can tell even in the mostly dark room that he is smiling too.
"Exactly," I say.  "Well I'll be out in a few."

I go into the bathroom and turn on the shower, as I get undressed I feel a slight sense of relief.  I can tell that however long my journey with Brian lasts, it is going to be a roller coaster but at least for now things seem to be OK.  He seems to be much more relaxed than he was last night when we got to my apartment.  And maybe by not doing anything at all but sleeping I have gained more of Brian's ever precious trust.  Just as suddenly as I begin to feel relaxed my mind starts spinning again.  I realize Brian is missing days of school, and being the son of two teachers I feel like it is important to get him back into school as quickly as possible.  Of coarse I can't do that now, not with him being on the run from CPS, and not without an at least somewhat permanent place to call home.  The district my Mom knows people in is too far away from my apartment and the Sierra Inn.  Even if I do get a two bedroom apartment it will have to be in this area so I can be close to my motel.  The only way I can get Brian enrolled in school, is if I have custody of him, and the only way to get custody of him is to call CPS.  But at this point I've been sitting on him for over a day, which won't make me look too good to any social worker.  Then again if they didn't know how long it's been since Brian showed up at my motel's door, they wouldn't have anything on me.  As I let the water run down over my head I decide to contact CPS.

The idea of calling CPS, makes me nervous in so many ways.  How will Brian react?  This is going to mean breaking a promise I made to him.  I can only hope he understands that I am doing it because I want to keep him around and this is the only I can do it legally.  There is also the detail about them letting me become Brian's foster parent.  I'm single, I own my own business which consumes a large percentage of my day and I have never had anything to do with kids, since I was a kid myself.  

After I get out of the shower, I wrap my towel around my waist and go out into the hall, expecting Brian to still be in the bedroom.  I figure I can slip into the living room and wait until he is in the bathroom incase seeing me in just a towel would in some way scare or embarrass him.

"I'm done kiddo," I say, loudly enough so he can hear as I quickly pass by the bedroom without even looking in.

My plan would have been perfect, had Brian actually still been in bed.  Instead he's sitting on the couch watching television and when he sees me, those blue eyes grow large.  Now it's not because of my chiseled torso, it can't be, my torso is anything but chiseled.  I'm sure it's just that he was expecting me to be dressed and my not being so catches him by surprise.

"Sorry," I say nervously, afraid that I will scare him back into being the scared little boy he was when we got here last night.  "I thought you'd still be in bed."
"That's OK," Brian says, his tone of voice not sounding as much surprised as his facial expression had looked.  "So I can use the bathroom now?" he asks, like nothing is different.
"Yeah, sure," I say.

Brian gets off the couch and goes back into the bathroom.  I breath a small sigh of relief that my being in a towel didn't mean as much to him as I thought it would.  I quickly go into the bedroom, grab fresh clothes out of my closet and get dressed.  As I'm getting dressed I realize Brian will be stuck wearing the same clothes he has for God knows how long.  Up to this point I haven't seen in him in anything other than a black hoody and blue jeans.  I don't even know if he has a shirt to wear underneath the sweatshirt.  I know he'll need more clothes but I can't afford a trip to the mall, not if I'm going to upgrade to a 2 bedroom apartment.  As I make my way into the kitchen to make myself a cup of instant coffee I mentally scold myself for buying him the skateboard yesterday.  When I thought he was only going to be here temporarily I thought I could afford it, but now that I have a new plan cooking my financial outlook has changed considerably.  As I stir my instant coffee I make a mental note to look for the location of the nearest Goodwill.

I take my cup of coffee and sit on the couch, Brian's left the television on VH1, and there is some kind of music video playing.  I don't know who the hell they are playing but I shake my head.

"Definitely not Pearl Jam," I say to myself, as I watch a series of semi-coordinated dance moves, performed by oversexed under dressed women play out on the screen in front of me.

Just as the music video ends , I hear the door to the bathroom open and Brian comes out, still wearing the black hoody with the blue jeans.  His short hair is wet and his bangs are once again sticking to his forehead.  When his brown hair is wet it looks black, which only set his eyes off even more.  There was no brush in the bathroom for him but I can tell he has done his best to get it combed using his hands.  He takes a seat next to me on the couch and sinks into watching the music video that I can only hope is almost over.

"You like this stuff?" I ask.
"Eh, it's OK," Brian says.  "I like rock better."
"Me too," I say, as I take another sip of coffee.
"Are we taking another field trip today?" Brian asks.
"Well, maybe," I say.  "I was just curious how long have you been wearing those clothes for?"  I know it may seem like a random question but Brian said he ran away a month ago, and he wasn't carrying any bags, yet he doesn't smell.
"Since Monday," Brian says.  "A guy that paid for me, ripped my old clothes so that kid I told you about made him buy me these.  He told the guy if he didn't we'd call the cops on him and give them his plate number.  I didn't have any other clothes because my backpack got stolen last week."
"That was the same day that kid disappeared?" I ask.
"Yeah," Brian says.  "It was that afternoon."
"Well we need to get you some more clothes," I say.
"I don't want to go to the mall," Brian says.  "It's boring there."
"Whoa Mr. Moneybags who said anything about the mall?" I ask.  "No my Mom is a total packrat.  She kept like all of my old clothes in boxes she keeps in the garage.  We'll go up to my parents house later and get the box."
"Hand me downs?" Brian asks.
"Well it's the best I can do for now," I say.  "I promise we'll get you some new clothes before you go back to school."

Brian falls silent when I mention school, if he's anything like I was he has probably been hoping he wouldn't have to go back.  But he's already been truant for over a month so I need to figure out a way to get him back into school.

"Brian, you have to go to school," I say.
"I know," Brian says.  "But does this mean, I'm going to live with from now on?"
"Would you want to?" I ask.
"I think so," Brian says.  "But, I wouldn't have to call you Dad or anything like that, would I?"

I realize Brian isn't trying to insult me, and for me to have expected him to want to call me Dad when we've known each other less than 48 hours would have been absurd.  I know, simply, he still feels like he only has one Dad that could never be replaced.  And to be totally honest, I don't think I have any business trying to replace him.

"Brian, you can call me anything you want," I say.  "Well almost anything."
"Thanks, Kevin," Brian says, a smile coming to his face.

I finish my coffee, put the cup in the sink and we head out to my car.  The ride to the motel is silent but comfortable.  When we get to the motel Laura is busy at the front desk and the lobby is bustling with guests eating breakfast and checking out.  Brian, without any prompting, goes over to the breakfast counter grabs two donuts then joins me in my office.

"Is there somewhere I can ride my board?" Brian asks, after about fifteen minutes.

I think for a minute, this neighborhood isn't exactly one where you would think it safe for kids to be out by themselves.  But the back of the motel, where our dumpsters and storage shed are, is hidden from street view by the building itself and nobody can gain access to it without a key as it is fenced off.  And I have a few phone calls to make, that I do not want Brian present for.  So I agree, after a stop at room 120 so Brian can grab his skateboard and helmet, which were the only posessions he had left in the room, I lead him to the back of the building and unlock the gate for him.  The gate can be opened from the inside, just not the outside, so I essentially cage him in from the rest of the world, giving him explicit instructions not to leave this area for the street no matter what.

When I get back to the lobby, Laura is standing behind the desk typing away on the computer, but not dealing with any guests so it is our first chance to say good morning.

"Did Brian sleep at your place last night?" Laura asks.
"Yeah," I say.  "The motel room scared him," I say in a whisper, not wanting any of the guests to hear that last part.  "I guess it's kind of surprising."
"Actually I'm more surprised that you spent the night at your apartment," Laura says with a smile.
"Yeah, yeah whatever," I say, shaking my head.  "I have a couple of phone calls to make, if Brian comes back can you keep him occupied till I'm done."
"Sure," Laura says.

When I get back to my office, I call an apartment complex I've been eying for the last couple of months.  It's one of those "luxury" ones, there really isn't anything luxurious about it but it's a lot newer than mine and I think living there would make me look better.  I call to ask if they have any two bedroom apartments available and they do.

"How soon can I move in?" I ask.
"Well we have one, two bedroom available for immediate move in," the lady says.  "If you want I can fax you the application."
"Sight unseen?" I ask, out loud though the question is really rhetorical.
"Sir, I can assure you all of our units are in pristine condition," she says.  "There is no risk to this at all for you."
"Fine," I say, before giving her my fax number and in a matter of moments I am filling out the application for a two bedroom apartment.

After faxing back the application to the apartment complex, I contemplate making the phone call to CPS.  I need to get Brian enrolled in school, and I need to start getting moving on getting some type of custody of him.  But going to CPS would mean breaking a promise I've made to Brian over and over.  So before I do it, I go out to where he is skateboarding behind the motel.  As I open the gate he sees me and rides his board over to me.

"He Kevin," he says, as he stops the board only feet from where I am standing, making me even more nervous.
"Brian I need to talk to you about something, and you're not going to like it," I say, honestly.
"What is it?" he asks, nervously.
"Well you see," I start slowly.  "To get you enrolled in school I need stuff, like your birth certificate and immunization papers and you need a guardian to sign the papers.  Well I don't have any of that so there's only one way I can get you into school."
"Lie?" Brian asks.
"No, I'm pretty sure I would get arrested for that," I say, although at the moment Brian's idea doesn't sound that bad.  "No, Brian we're going to have to go see your social worker."
"What?" Brian asks, angrily.  "You lied to me, you said that you wouldn't call them!"
"Brian, listen to me," I say, getting down on one knee, so I can look him straight in the eyes, and gently placing my hand on his shoulder.  "I want to be your new foster parent, that way I can enroll you in school. And I've already called another apartment complex where we can get a bigger apartment and you'd have your own room and everything.  Nothing's changed, I'm not going let you go anywhere I promise!"
"But what if they don't let me live with you?" Brian asks.  "What if they try to make me live with another family?"
"Don't worry about that, it wouldn't happen," I say, honestly believing the words as they are coming out of my mouth.  "Brian if I had a choice, believe me I wouldn't do this, and I never meant to break a promise to you, but I just didn't think everything out enough.  That's my fault I'm sorry."
"You promise they won't send me anywhere else?" Brian asks, not sounding angry this time just worried.
"Brian, I promise you that I am going to fight my ass off to keep you with me," I say.  "And when I fight for something, I get it.  I had to fight to get this motel, and I did it, if I can persuade a bank I can persuade a state agency."

Brian doesn't say anything, he just stares at his feet.  Finally he slowly bends down and picks up his skateboard.  For a second I become afraid he is going to hit me with it.

"OK," he says.  "Let's go."

I decide actually going to CPS, would make me look better to them and hopefully gain me some much needed brownie points with Brian's social worker.  We go into the lobby of the motel and Brian drops his skateboard off in my office.  While he is using the bathroom I tell Laura about my plan.

"You're doing the right thing, Kevin," Laura says as we stand behind the front desk.
"That's what I keep telling myself," I say.  "They'll let me keep him.  Won't they?"
"I have no doubt," Laura says confidently.

I wish her confidence was contagious, but even if it is I don't think I will catch it.  Even as I stand at the front desk waiting for Brian I can feel my heart pounding and my knees shaking.

The long car ride to downtown Phoenix, is absolutely silent and it is anything but comfortable.  Brian doesn't seem angry with me, he just seems nervous and I'm right there with him.  We pull into the parking garage outside the office building that is the Arizona Department of Children and Family Services.  I park the car and take a deep breath, something is preventing me from getting out of the car.  I look at Brian and he appears to be feeling the exact same restraint.

"It's going to be OK," I say, trying to sound like I actually have a shred of confidence.

Brian just nods, but doesn't say anything slowly we both get out of the car.  We make our way into the office, which is old and drafty.  There is a large desk in the front where a receptionist is sitting behind her are lines of cubicles.  The noise of phones ringing, and people talking loudly makes the place sound utterly chaotic.  I lead Brian up to the receptionist's desk where a woman is sitting utterly lost in whatever is on her computer screen.

"Excuse me," I say getting the woman's attention.
"Yes," she says, looking up from her computer screen and right at me.
"Yes, I need to see a social worker," I say.
"Do you have an appointment?" she asks.
"No, I just..."

"Brian!!" a woman's voice sounds, from behind the desk.  There had been a woman passing behind the receptionist as I was asking my question but I hadn't paid much attention to her.  "Oh my goodness, I can't believe it!" the woman says coming around the desk and giving Brian a huge hug.  Instead of returning the hug Brian stiffens up, with his hands at his sides.  "I didn't think I would see you again."

Still Brian doesn't say anything, even as this woman releases him from her hug and just stands there for a second just looking him over.  Finally the woman remembers that I am standing there, and looks over to me.

"I'm sorry, you'll have to excuse me," she tells me.  "I'm his social worker, Julie Harden," she says, extending her hand.

To say I am surprised would be a gross understatement, considering Brian told me yesterday that his social worker had all but forgotten about him after dropping him off with is last set of foster parents.  Still I don't say anything, no matter how much I want to lay into her about why she didn't do her job. I know if there is one person I don't want to anger right now it would be Julie.

"Kevin Wasdin," I say.  "Brian showed up at my motel the other night."
"Well thanks for bringing him in," Julie says.  "That was very nice of you."
"Well, actually I'd like to become his foster parent," I say.  "We came here so I could fill out whatever paperwork I need to fill out."
"Mr. Wasdin, you can't just magically become a foster parent," Julie says.
"I realize that," I say.  "But I was hoping since these were kind of unique circumstances we could move things along a little faster."
"Why don't you two come back to the conference room, and we can talk," Julie says.

We follow Julie back to a small conference room that is along one of the long walls that surrounds the maze of cubicles and desks.  The conference room is small with a table that's just big enough for four people to fit around it.  Brian and I sit next to each other on one side of the table and Julie takes a seat on the other.

"OK, Brian what happened?" she asks.  "Why did you run away from the Smith's?"
"They were mean," Brian says.  "They would hit me."
"Brian, that is a very serious thing you're saying," Julie says.  "Are you sure you just didn't get angry at them about something."
"They hit me," Brian insists.

The tone Brian uses when he speaks to Julie is different than any I've heard him talk in so far.  It's not quite an angry tone, but it is filled with contempt.  When he speaks he doesn't make eye contact with Julie, he has his hands folded and resting in his lap and that is where his eyes are focused.

"OK," Julie says with a sigh.  "So where have you been all this time?"

Brian looks at me, his blue eyes are wet again the look he gives me is almost like a puppy begging for food.

"Can you tell her?" Brian asks me, in a soft voice.
"Are you sure you want me to?" I ask him.
"Yeah," he says.
"Is it OK if I talk for him about this?" I ask Julie, uncertain of the proper thing to do.
"As long as he confirms what you say, I guess it would be alright," Julie says, looking back and forth between me and Brian.
"Well the first night Brian ran away, he found this sixteen year old who said he would take care of him.  The sixteen year old said he had a job for Brian, so Brian agreed to go with him.  Brian was forced into prostitution, until the other night when that sixteen year old suddenly disappeared.  Brian started walking down the street and ended up in front of the motel I own, near Interstate 10 and Twelfth Street."
"Brian is what Mr. Wasdin said true?" Julie asks.
"Yeah," Brian says, once again looking down at his hands which are still resting in his lap.

Julie takes a deep breath, but doesn't say anything for the longest time.  Finally she picks up the phone that is sitting on the middle of the table.

"Brian, can you go out and see Betty the receptionist?" Julie asks him.  "She has some candy, Mr. Wasdin and I have to talk privately."
"OK," Brian says.

I worry about Brian going anywhere on his own, incase he would try to run, but apparently Julie's thought of that because she grabs somebody who is passing the conference room and has them lead Brian up to the receptionists desk.  As Julie comes back into the conference room she shuts the door behind her.

"Mr. Wasdin, do you realize what you are getting yourself into by taking Brian in?" Julie asks.  "What I mean is do you know about what that child has been through?"
"Yes, he's told me," I say.
"He has?" Julie asks.  "About what happened to his family?  He's told you about that?"
"Yes," I say.  "I don't know what else to say, but that he trusts me."

Suddenly there is a knock on the window of the door behind me and Julie signals whoever it is to come in.

"Mr. Wasdin," Julie says, standing up once again.  "This is Bill Lofton," she says as this short man with a bald head comes into the room holding a thick manila folder.
"Nice to meet you, Kevin Wasdin," I say standing up and shaking Bill Lofton's hand as he makes his way into the room.
"Same here," he says, in a very business like tone as he takes a seat in the chair next to Laura.  "Mr. Wasdin I understand you want to become a foster parent for...." he stops talking and pulls a piece of paper out of the manila folder, seemingly desperately searching the page for a name.  "Ah here it is, Brian Landers."
"Yes, that's right," I say, retaking my seat.
"Well, before we can do anything we have to do an initial screening interview," Mr. Lofton says, still looking over the paper in his hands.  "If that is OK with you."
"Yes it is," I say.  "But I'm confused I thought Julie was Brian's social worker."
"We always have two social workers interview prospective parents," Julie says.  "We feel it's a better screening process that way."
"Oh, I understand," I say.
"OK, so lets get started," Mr. Lofton says, taking out two blank pieces of paper and handing one to Julie and placing the other in front of himself.  He then reaches to the inside pocket of the suit jacket he is wearing and pulls out two pens, handing one to Julie.

The beginning of the interview is pretty basic stuff, name, age, what I do for a living, how many relatives I have in the area stuff like that.  I think I impress them when I say that I opened up my own motel and still operate it.  Then the interview turns, and I start getting nervous.

"Mr. Wasdin what is your marital status?" Julie asks.
"I'm single," I say.
"Have you ever been married?" Mr. Lofton asks.
"No," I say shaking my head.
"Any prior convictions?" Mr. Lofton asks.
"No," I say again.
"Mr. Wasdin why do you want to become the foster parent of a child that just showed up in front of your business after spending a month being a prostitute?" Julie asks, totally taking me by surprise.

I get a little angry at the way she described Brian, like he wouldn't be worth my time but I chose to ignore that.  My mind races as I try to think of the best way to answer the question.  I can't exactly tell Julie and Mr. Lofton everything I've been feeling the past couple of days.  That would not do me any good, instead I have to think of something that's true but still makes me look good.

"Well," I say, trying not to gulp too loudly.  "To be honest, Brian has really impressed me the last couple of days.  His manner, how polite he is, his level of thoughtfulness.  They all seem to belong to somebody much older than eleven.  He seems to me to be a very special person.  Yesterday when he told me his story I felt so sorry for him, I can't describe the aching in my heart.  It was more than just sympathy or what you feel when you hear a sad story on the news or Dateline.  I could actually feel my heart ache for him, I can't really explain why but since I found him sitting outside my motel I've just had this overwhelming desire to help him, but yesterday when I heard his story I knew that it runs deeper than just wanting to help him.  I care about him, and I want to make sure he has a happy and safe life.  I think he deserves that."

The entire time I am talking Julie and Mr. Lofton are furiously taking notes.  I can only hope that what I have said comes across as being sincere, because I meant every single word of it.  I sit there waiting for the next question, just hoping I can prove my sincerity and my affection for Brian.

"That is all very touching," Mr. Lofton says, and I think for a second that I hear a hint of sarcasm in his voice, but that could just be my paranoia.  "But what makes you think you would be a good parent?"
"I would be a good parent, because I remember what it's like to be a kid," I say.  "Not only that, Brian trusts me he told me his story without my even asking him.  Trust is the most important thing in any relationship between a parent and child and we already have that just in knowing each other for a little while.  I can't imagine what it would be like if he can stay with me for a number of months, or even years."

Again Julie and Mr. Lofton are writing on those sheets of paper like their lives depend on it.  The line of questioning gets slightly easier, and I continue to gain confidence, though the entire time I still feel like I'm getting the third degree from a couple of FBI interrogators.  After another series of questions I am asked to wait out in the hall.  The questioning doesn't end before they ask me about my living arrangements and I cringe a little, but I assure them that I will be moving into a two bedroom apartment, hopefully by the end of the week.

I wait nervously in the hall, just leaning against the wall staring up at the ceiling and praying I get the answer I want.  Suddenly my crash prayer session is interrupted as the receptionist passes by, with Brian not two feet behind her.  As Brian passes he looks at me with a worried look on his face, before disappearing into the conference room.  My time standing outside that room seems like it goes on for an eternity.  I know they are asking Brian what he thinks about me.  After yesterday I know the he trusts me, and I know he likes me but I don't know if he wants me as a parent.  Just as I am beginning to get really worried, the door of the conference room opens, and Julie asks me to come in, just as I am entering the room Brian is escorted out by Mr. Lofton.

"Mr. Wasdin," she says as I take a seat across the table form her.  "I must say we are very impressed, by you."
"Thank you," I say, feeling a sudden rush of hopefulness.
"Still we do have some concerns," she says, sucking my hopefulness right out of the galaxy.  "First is that you own your own business.  How many hours a week exactly do you work?"
"Well it depends on how busy we are," I say honestly.  "But, I mean I can break away for periods of time if I needed to."
"What if Brian was to become ill at school?" Julie asks.  "What would you do?"
"Well I could really do a lot of my work from home," I say.  "As long as it was only for a day or two, I mean there are times when I have to be at the motel but I have a very trustworthy staff and if I had to hire more people, I would."
"And then there's the issue of your personal life," Julie says.  "Do you date often?"
"No," I say, honestly.
"Do you have any hopes of getting married?" she asks.
"I'm sorry but I don't really see the relevance of that question," I say.  "What exactly are you getting at?"
"Mr. Wasdin," Julie says.  "I am just trying to paint a full picture of your life, so I know that I will be putting Brian in a safe environment if I placed him with you."
"No, I don't really want to get married," I say, figuring that I should just answer the question and not get too argumentative.
"OK," Julie says.  "Mr. Wasdin I will place Brian with you on an emergency basis provided that you do move into that larger apartment by the end of the week.  Until then you must ensure that Brian has his own room, even if that means you continuing to sleep on the couch."
"Thank you!" I say, as I feel the weight of the world lift off of my shoulders.  All I want to do is go and tell Brian the good news that I had guessed right earlier this morning.  But there are an endless amount of papers to sign, and while I am doing that they run a computerized background check on me.  I am given twenty four hours to get three references together and finally about two hours after receiving the best news I have in a very long time I am finally able to see Brian.

I almost trip over my self when I am told I can see Brian who is now in a waiting room type area, with a television and a bunch of magazines.  When I first go into the room he is watching television, but quickly comes over to me, the second he sees me.

"What did they say?" he asks.  "Can I live with you?"
"I'm sorry kiddo," I say, and I see his head drop so I quickly continue.  "You're stuck with me."
"Really?" he asks his face lighting up with the biggest smile I've seen from him yet.
"Really," I say.

What happens next takes me by complete surprise.  He suddenly throws his arms around my waist, and digs his face into my stomach.

"Thank you," I hear him say, though it is slightly muffled by stomach.  "Thank you for keeping your promise," he says again, this time looking up at me with his arms still around my waist.
"You're welcome," I say as for the first time I get to put my arms around him.  I'm sure I squeeze him to within an inch of his life but he doesn't seem to mind, and I just don't want to let go.  "Come on buddy, we really have to get you some clothes now."

Brian releases me from his hug and I release him from the near death grip I had him in.  I look down at him and right into his eyes, and for the first time since we met when I look into those blue eyes I see a look of contentment.  I hope that now, Brian feels truly safe, that he knows that at least for the immediate future he won't have to worry about being transferred to another house, being sent back out onto the streets or doing things for me that he doesn't want to do.

Maybe Brian won't be with me forever, I have no way of knowing now, what the future holds but I do know that I want to be a part of his life for a long time to come and today we've taken a huge step towards making that a reality.  Suddenly the guy that does everything for himself, has an eleven year old angel to look after, to take care of (OK maybe I had him for the last couple of days but now it's legal) and I couldn't be more excited about this new chapter of my life.

"Kevin," Brian says when we get back into the car.
"Yeah," I say as I start the engine.
"Now that you're my foster parent, how long can I stay with you?" he asks, his blue eyes starring right into my soul.

To Be Continued...

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Part 6 Coming Soon!