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            The Guardian

Installment 1

by Erastes
Copyright 2015 by Erastes
Chapter 1 - A Very Long Night. 

I was sound asleep when my cell phone rang, but it immediately roused me from my slumber.  I always kept my cell phone on the nightstand where it would be easy to reach and groggily picked it up.  After glancing at the display, I quickly recognized the name on the caller ID, but I also knew who it was by the special ringtone I'd assigned to his home phone number.  I was, however, somewhat leery about the reason he was calling at this time of night.  Curious, I answered the call. 

"This better be good, Matt" I stated, somewhat perturbed.  It was also my way of warning him that I didn't like having my sleep disturbed unless it was important. 

"I'm truly sorry to bother you at this hour," a strange masculine voice responded, "but am I speaking with Blake Hunter?" 

"Yes, you are, but who are you and why are you calling me from my best friend's house?" I snapped back, confused.  As I was saying this, I threw my legs out from under the covers, sat up on the edge of the mattress and placed my feet on the floor.   

"I'm Officer Davies of the Lawrenceville Police Department and I need your assistance," the voice responded, only partially answering my question.  "I'm calling in regards to Matthew Weaver.  We discovered your business card in his wallet and it was marked 'emergency contact.'   I just wanted to make certain I had the correct person."

"Yes, you do.  We've been friends since college and he helped me get a job with the company he works for," I responded, still slightly baffled about the purpose of this call.  "I would still like to know what sort of help you think you need from me, why you have Matt's wallet and what you're doing at his house?" 

"It's all part of the reason I'm calling," he replied, and I thought I detected a bit of hesitation in his voice.  "I regret to inform you that Mr. Weaver and his wife were involved in a vehicular accident earlier this evening and have been transported to the hospital." 

"What about the kids?" I nearly screamed, since I wasn't certain if they were all together when this happened. 

"They're fine.  They were at the house with a babysitter," he clarified.  "It's also the main reason for this call.  The babysitter says she needs to go home now and can't stay with the boys any longer.  Since you were the only name we could find, I was wondering if you'd be willing to come to the Weaver's house and stay with the boys." 

"Certainly," I agreed, without hesitation.  "I'm godfather to their oldest son, but I'm close to all of the boys and they all call me Uncle Blake.  Just give me a chance to get dressed and I'll be there shortly." 

"Thank you!  I'll stay with them until you get here, since the babysitter is anxious to leave," he offered, and then we ended the call. 

I know I probably should have asked more questions, but I figured I could do that once I got to the house.  He'll still be there when I arrive and this way I can ask him face-to-face, so I can see his reaction to each of my questions as well. 

I got dressed as rapidly as I could, while trying to shake the thought that this shouldn't be happening.  It seemed difficult to believe that my best friend and his wife had been involved in an accident and taken to the hospital or that I was being called upon to stay with their sons.  Gradually, my brain began to clear and I finally realized why they had been out so late.  Today, well actually yesterday now, was Matt and Kelly's 15th wedding anniversary. 

They had gotten married at the end of January fifteen years ago and I had served as Matt's best man.  Kelly had chosen Jan. 24th because it was her grandparents' anniversary and she wanted to honor them by getting married on the same day.  She told us that her grandparents had done a lot for her when she was little, and since we lived in Georgia, we didn't have to worry about road conditions as much.  She felt it would be all right to have the wedding then and it wouldn't be too cold, so it shouldn't keep anyone they invited from attending.  A little over two years later, she gave birth to their first child, my godson. 

I, along with some of their other friends, had thrown them a surprise anniversary party this past weekend, but yesterday was their actual anniversary date, so it was most likely their plan to celebrate alone.  They must have gone out for a quiet dinner and then were somehow involved in an accident on the way home.  It was then that a horrible thought popped into my mind and I desperately hoped Matt hadn't been driving under the influence at the time. 

As I drove from my apartment to their house, I wondered if the boys were aware of what was going on.  They were 6, 9 and 12, so I was sure they would be very scared and upset if they knew their parents had been injured and taken to the hospital.  I had always maintained a good relationship with each of them, so I hoped I might be able to help calm them down, if that was the case.  As I pulled into the driveway of my best friend's house, I saw a patrol car parked out in front, along the curb.  Since the babysitter had most likely already left, Officer Davies would be the only one waiting for me to show up. 

"Thank you for coming so quickly," he greeted me, as I walked into the house.  He looked to be slightly younger than I am, which meant he was probably in his late 20s or early 30s.  "Since the babysitter had to leave, I assured her that I would stay here until you arrived." 

"Thank you for doing that," I confirmed.  "Now, can you tell me what happened?" 

"I can share some of the information with you, but I might not be able to tell you everything you want to know," he stated.  "From what I've been told, several police officers and sheriff's deputies were in a high-speed pursuit of a vehicle containing a suspect involved in a homicide.  The chase had gone on for quite some time and had passed through several jurisdictions before the suspect tried to run a red light locally to get away.  When he did, he ended up slamming into the car driven by your friend.  I was informed the collision drove your friend's vehicle in front of an 18-wheeler, so they were impacted on two sides."     

"How badly are Matt and Kelly hurt?" I followed, even more deeply concerned after hearing the details.  I found my mind was suddenly filled with horrific images, as I subconsciously envisioned the worst. 

"That I can't tell you," Officer Davies replied.  "You'll have to call Gwinnett Medical Center to get that information.  I wasn't at the scene, so I didn't actually see what had happened.  I only heard the radio transmissions before I was directed to see if anyone else was at this address." 

As he finished speaking, his face was scrunched up in a pained expression.  This let me know he felt badly that he was unable to provide me with better information. 

"You mean you didn't hear anything that would give you a clue about how badly they're injured or how long they might have to stay in the hospital?" I pressed, since I felt that might have been discussed over the radio. 

"No, I'm afraid not," he reiterated.  "Look, if you're unable to provide temporary care for the children until their parents are better and return home, then I can always call Child Protective Services and get them involved." 

Obviously, he got the wrong impression about why I'd asked the previous question. 

"That won't be necessary.  I'll stay with the boys and handle things from here," I assured him, since I didn't want the kids to placed in the system.  If they were, then it might be difficult to get them out again. 

"Have the boys been told any of this?" I followed, since I was concerned about how they were taking the news. 

"No, they were sleeping when I got here, so I decided not to wake them," he respond, as his face took on a somber look.  "I didn't feel they needed their sleep interrupted just to receive such terrible news.  I felt telling them about it could wait until morning." 

"I agree and I'm glad you let them sleep," I offered, as sincerely as I could.  "I'll stay here and make sure the boys get to school in the morning.  As soon as they're in class, I'll run over to the hospital to check on their parents, but I also plan on calling there in a few minutes, to see if I can find out anything more." 

"I understand, so I'll be going now," Officer Davies agreed, as he placed a hand upon my shoulder.  "I wish you and the boys the very best." 

I thanked Officer Davies as he went out the front door.  Then, I quickly found the number and dialed the hospital. 

"Gwinnett Medical Center.  How may I direct your call?" the receptionist answered. 

"I'm calling to check on Kelly and Matt Weaver," I began, once again struggling to control my emotions.  "I was told by the police that they were brought there after being involved in an accident." 

"Just one second and I'll connect you with that department," the receptionist replied, after looking up their names. 

"Emergency room, Alisha Newman speaking," the voice answered.  "How may I assist you?" 

I repeated my story. 

"Are you related to either of the patients?" she followed, so I realized this meant I probably wasn't going to find out anything. 

"Matt is my best friend and I'm their son's godfather," I stated, hoping that might be enough.  "I'm also watching their three sons until they're released, because they don't have any relatives in the area."

"Mr. Hunter, I understand your involvement, but I'm afraid I can't give you the information you want," she replied.  "The hospital's policy is that I can only release the information to the patent's parents, spouse, siblings. children or a designated legal representative." 

I pleaded with her for a couple of minutes more, but quickly came to the conclusion it was an exercise in futility.  "Fine, I'll contact their attorney as soon as his office opens," I spat out exasperated, before finally ending the call. 

I was still fuming about this a half-hour later when the Weaver's land line began to ring.  I was hoping it was either Matt or Kelly calling to check on the boys, so I hurriedly picked it up. 

"Hello," I answered, not yet sure to whom I was speaking. 

"Is this Mr. Hunter?" the feminine voice asked.  That immediately told me it was no one I knew. 

"Yes, it is," I confirmed. 

"This is Alisha Newman from the Gwinnett Medical Center Emergency Room calling back," she announced, much to my surprise.  "After we spoke earlier, I did some research in the medical database and discovered that both Mr. and Mrs. Weaver had filed a Georgia Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.  After examining the documents, I saw that each of them had listed you as their health care proxy, in case they were unable to make decisions for themselves.  Therefore, since you are their legal representative, I can now give you the information you requested earlier." 

This news shocked me, because I only vaguely recalled Kelly asking if I'd agree to doing this for her.  It happened shortly before my godson was born, since Kelly was worried that something might happen when Matt wasn't around.  I'd basically forgotten all about it until now and just realized that Matt must have done the same thing later, as I attempted to focus in on what the woman was saying to me now.

"I'm sorry to inform you that Mr. Weaver didn't survive his injuries and passed away before reaching the hospital," she informed me.  "Mrs. Weaver is currently in surgery, but she was listed in critical condition when brought in." 

"Do you know if the impact occurred directly where they were sitting or if it happened in front or behind of where they were?" I pressed, still unable to completely fathom the severity of this event. 

"I don't have any idea.  All we were told was that their injuries were the result of a traffic mishap," she explained, which immediately raised the hackles on the back of my neck. 

Mishap?  My best friend was dead and his wife was in surgery and this woman had the nerve to call it the result of a traffic mishap?  I understood she probably just said it this way to help keep me calm, but a mishap?  Saying it that way made it sound as if Matt and Kelly had merely bumped shoulders with someone while going to their car, not that another car had plowed into their vehicle. 

"Would you please call and inform me when she gets out of surgery?  I need to know how she is doing," I insisted, still slightly agitated, but deeply concerned. 

The woman agreed to do that for me, so I gave her my cell phone number too.  Then I went up to the master bedroom to see if I could get a little more sleep.  It was a futile effort though, since my mind was spinning.  This was all so surreal that it hadn't fully sunk in yet that I'd never be seeing my best friend again, even though I was praying Kelly would be all right.

I was still awake when the phone rang nearly an hour later.  That's when I realized I was actually glad that I hadn't dozed off, as I reached over and picked it up. 

"Am I speaking with Mr. Hunter again?" the caller asked, and I recognized it was the woman from the hospital calling back.   I could also tell by the tone and unevenness of her voice that the news wasn't going to be good. 

"Yes, it is," I confirmed, before holding my breath. 

"This is Alisha Newman," she informed me.  "I promised to call you back and let you know about Mrs. Weaver's condition, but I'm afraid I have bad news.  I'm sorry to inform you that Mrs. Weaver passed away from her injuries while in surgery." 

After hearing this, I immediately broke down and began to cry.  Not only had I lost my best friend and his wife, but her sons had lost both of their parents.  What were any of us going to do now? 

After calming down a few seconds later, I thanked her for being kind enough to call me back and for doing her best to delicately deliver the news.  Then, I numbly laid back on the bed and closed my eyes.  My mind was reeling from everything I'd been told, but it was also racing over various scenarios of what was going to happen next.  How was I suppose to break this horrible news to the kids and how were any of us going to survive this terrible calamity? 

Kelly's parents were no longer living and she had no other relatives that I was aware of, except for her sons, so there was no one else I would have to inform about this tragic news.  I remembered her mother had passed away from breast cancer shortly after Kelly and Matt's second son had been born.  Then, her father suffered a massive heart attack at work a couple of years ago and died shortly thereafter.  As far as I knew, Kelly and her sons were the only ones left on that side of the family. 

Matt's parents, however, were still alive, although they lived in another state and weren't in very good health.  Matt had told me that his mother suffered from MS, was confined to a wheelchair and only managed a few good days intermixed with the bad.  He also informed me that his father suffered from emphysema, due to many years of smoking, and was now constantly connected to an oxygen tank.  His father was also going blind and had lost a leg due to diabetes, so neither of them were able to get around very well.  It also meant that neither one was able to take care of himself or herself, much less do much to help the other, so they were currently residing in an assisted living facility.  They had chosen one that was close to where they lived and where Matt had grown up, because they wanted their friends to be able to visit them from time to time. 

Thinking of Matt's parents presented me with another dilemma.  I wondered if I should call them and deliver the awful news or if it would be better if I just let the police or hospital take care of doing it?  I was very confused and didn't know if anyone else even had their information.  Even if they did, I wondered which course of action would be best for them, as I continued to mentally debate this point. 

When I looked at the clock again, I noticed it was a few minutes after 7:00.  Since I'd been pondering this for quite some time, I finally made my decision.  I figured Matt's parents might take the news better coming from me, since I'd spoken to them on the phone before, rather than hearing about it from a doctor, nurse or a police officer they didn't know.  Finally, I went downstairs and located Matt and Kelly's personal phone directory, in which they kept all of their important contact info, and looked up the number.  I then took it back to the master bedroom with me and dialed the number carefully, since I was both tired and upset.  I certainly didn't want to reach a wrong number and then have the person on the other end go off on me for calling so early.  After a few seconds, the call went through and was answered on the fourth ring. 

"Hello," the masculine voice answered. 

"Mr. Weaver, this is Matt's friend, Blake Hunter," I began, my voice cracking slightly.  "Has anyone contacted you yet?" 

"About what?" he replied, so I immediately knew they hadn't. 

"I'm really sorry that I have to tell you this, but Matt and Kelly were involved in a serious automobile accident while returning home last night," I stated, while attempting not to break down completely.  "I don't have all of the details about what happened, but I have been in contact with the hospital since I learned about this situation from the police.  It is my unfortunate task to tell you that both Matt and Kelly have passed away as a result of the injuries they sustained." 

"Oh my God!" was his immediate and honest reaction, but then there was complete silence.  After a lengthy pause, he finally spoke again.  "What about the boys?" 

"They were home with a babysitter at the time, so they're fine," I assured him.  "I'm at the house now, although they're still sleeping, but I'm not going to send them to school today.  I'm just not sure how I'll be able to break the news to them." 

"I certainly don't envy you that job," Mr. Weaver stated and I knew he sincerely meant this.  I could also sense the relief in his voice before he spoke again.  "Do you know if Matt or Kelly suffered?"

"That I can't tell you with any certainty," I confessed.  "I was just told that their car was struck by a vehicle involved in a high-speed chase and the impact pushed them in front of an 18-wheeler.  Matt died before reaching the hospital and Kelly passed away later, during surgery." 

Again there was another slight pause, but I remained silent.  I knew a lot was going through his mind, so I didn't rush him. 

"I don't know how I'm going to break this news to mother, because I'm afraid it might kill her," he finally uttered, his voice choked with emotion.  "She hasn't been doing well and I'm afraid that hearing this might be too much for her." 

"I'm sorry to hear that and I'm willing to do whatever I can to help," I offered.

"Would you be willing to handle the funeral arrangements for us?" he asked in response.  "Neither of us is in very good health and we're unable to travel, but I don't know how we'd be able to take care of things from here." 

"I would be happy to handle things for you," I agreed.  "So you won't be coming for the funeral?" 

"I'm afraid mother and I won't be able to do that," he stated, as I once again heard a slight tremor in his voice.  "Although I thought my wife and I would go well before Matt and Kelly, Matt told me that he planned on being buried where he was living now, along with his wife.  They might have even made some sort of arrangements already." 

I didn't know this, but I realized the information might come in handy. 

"In that case, I'll see if I can find out anything about it and I promise to take care of everything for you," I assured him. 

"Would you like me to hire a professional videographer to record the events, so you and your wife can view it later?" 

"That would be very kind of you and greatly appreciated," he agreed.  "I am deeply troubled that mother and I wouldn't be there to say a final goodbye, so that would definitely help make us feel better.  It might also relieve some of our guilt about not being there, if we could at least view the service." 

After discovering they had access to a computer, I agreed to send them a flash drive with everything on it.  I also gave him my cell phone number, in case he thought of anything else or came up with more questions.  Then, we ended the call. 

A short time after I got off the phone with Matt's father, I called in to work and explained the situation to my boss.  Since Matt and I both worked there and seeing I was responsible for planning the funerals, as well as taking care of the boys, my boss told me not to worry about anything.  He said he would see to it that I was granted the standard three bereavement days, even though Matt wasn't technically a relative, and he'd also make sure everything else was handled on that end. 

After he told me this, I asked if I could also use some of my vacation time after I'd used up the bereavement days, since I wasn't sure how things were going to go with the boys.  He agreed to work with me on this, so I thanked him before ending the call. 

Once I had finished speaking with my boss, I called Kelly's place of employment next and explained the bad news to them.  After offering her condolences, Kelly's boss thanked me for calling and asked if I'd let her know about the funeral arrangements.  She said she was sure that many of Kelly's coworkers would want to attend and pay their respects, so I assured her I would do that before I hung up. 

I had gotten back in bed in the master bedroom while trying to decide what to do next, when there was a knock on the bedroom door.  It opened after I said, "Come in," and I quickly saw it was Matt and Kelly's oldest son, Tyler, my godchild.  

"Hi, Uncle Blake.  What are you doing here?" he wondered, while staring at me.  "Where's my mom and dad?  It's late and no one woke us up, so aren't we going to school today?" 

Tyler had fairly long auburn hair, similar to Kelly's, but it was currently unruly and sticking out in all directions.  He was also quite handsome, at least in my humble opinion, standing about 5' 4" (163 cm) tall and weighing around 100 lbs. (47 kg).  In fact, except for the bad case of 'bedhead', he looked a lot like his mother.  He also appeared fairly cheerful, but I knew that wasn't going to last for much longer. 

"That's a toughie, so why don't you come over here and sit down beside me, so I can explain," I replied, hoping he wouldn't panic. 

He looked slightly confused, but did as I requested.  I had no idea about how I was going to break the news to him, but I wanted to do it gently.  On the other hand, I wondered if there actually was a good way to inform him that his parents were dead. 

"Tyler, I got a call last night to come over here and stay with you and your brothers," I began.  "The babysitter said she needed to go home and your parents weren't here yet, so I agreed.  I don't know how to tell you this, but your parents aren't going to be coming home." 

"What do you mean?  Where are they?" he demanded, as his eyes grew wide.  I could see the fear in his expression. 

"There was an accident last night and your mom and dad are both in heaven now," I offered, as gently as I knew how. 

His face immediately began to contort into an unrecognizable grimace, as he started to cry.  Seeing this broke my heart, so I reached out and pulled him toward me, so I could hug him with all my might.  As I held him against my chest, I allowed him to release his emotions and get it out of his system.  He continued doing this for several minutes, but then he eventually looked up at me and spoke. 

"What's going to happen to me and my brothers now?" he wanted to know, as I gazed into his moist, hazel-colored eyes.  I could read the confusion that was currently registering there, along with the grief. 

"I'll take care of everything and I promise the three of you will be fine," I assured him, as best I could.  "I won't let anything happen to any of you." 

This seemed to calm him down slightly, until his next oldest brother entered the room through the open doorway.  Marcus had come there to find out what was going on, since he hadn't been awakened to go to school either.  I reacted and looked up when I saw him.  He quickly noticed that I was hugging Tyler and his brother turned to see what I was looking at.  This allowed Marcus to see Tyler's tear streaked face and that's when Marcus began to panic as well. 

"What's wrong?  Why are you crying and why is Uncle Blake here in mommy and daddy's bedroom?" he rattled off.  He strung his words together as if it was all one long run-on sentence.  At the same time, his big, brown eyes shifted erratically between his brother and me. 

Marcus had mousy brown hair, which wasn't quite as long as Tyler's, and he looked more like his father.  He was quite a bit smaller than his brother too, at only 4' 6" (137 cm) and about 70 lbs. (31 kg), but at the moment he was just a scared, little boy. 

"Mom and Dad are dead," Tyler blurted out, before I had a chance to tone down the cruel reality of the situation. 

Marcus' face went completely ashen, just before he collapsed on the floor.  I immediately jumped up from the mattress and rushed to his side.  Tenderly, I lifted him from the floor and carried him over to the bed.  I then sat down and cradled him across my lap, where I held him until he eventually came to.  Tyler had followed me to the bed and sat down beside us.  Once Marcus was lucid again, I hugged him against my chest, while at the same time placing my right arm around Tyler's shoulder.  As I was comforting them in this fashion, each one went through a very emotional and painful release. 

When I eventually got those two calmed down a few minutes later, I answered all of Marcus' questions as best I could.  I then decided I should go check on Ethan, their youngest brother, next.  He was still asleep in his room, at least as far as I knew, and I would have to share the bad news with him too.  I wanted to do it alone, but Tyler and Marcus were insistent that they wanted to be there when I told him.  After getting both boys to promise to let me tell their brother what happened, we all got up and walked to Ethan's room. 

Ethan was still sound asleep when we got there, so I sat down on the bed beside him.  I looked at Ethan lying there, with his plentiful dirty blond hair splayed across the pillow, and noticed how angelic he appeared.  Gently, I began to shake his shoulder, as Marcus and Tyler stood beside me, with their eyes peeled on their brother.  When he finally began to stir, he spotted the three of us there and immediately realized something was wrong. 

"Why are you guys crying and why is Uncle Blake here?" he demanded, as he looked at his brothers and me.  He then bolted upright in bed.  "What's wrong?  What's going on?" 

"Ethan I have some bad news to share with you," I began, as I pulled him toward me.  "Last night there was a very bad accident and God took your parents to live with him in heaven." 

Ethan's gorgeous green eyes, dotted with subtle brown flecks,  immediately locked on to my face, as my words slowly sank into his brain.  Then he looked over at his brothers, as his face screwed up in a horrific expression of grief and a torrent of tears sprang from his eyes.  I hurriedly pulled him against me, as he dealt with his emotions, but eventually I lifted him up and placed in on my lap.  He seemed so tiny and fragile at this point, since he was only 3' 8" (112 cm) and approximately 40 lbs. (19 kg), as I sought to comfort him. 

At the same time, I signaled his brothers to join us, so they wouldn't feel left out.  Marcus quickly sat down on my left and Tyler on my right.  As soon as they were in place, they both instinctively reached out and touched Ethan.  I suspected they did this to let him know they were there for him too. 

We must have spent the next thirty minutes like that, as they collectively released their sorrow and I answered the occasional questions they asked.  After wading through this minefield for a while, I urged them to go downstairs with me, so I could fix them something to eat. 


            The Guardian

by Erastes
Copyright 2015 by Erastes
Chapter 2 - Picking Up the Pieces. 

While the boys were choking down their breakfast, I asked Tyler to tell me about their schools.   As soon as I had the requested information, I called the offices and explained the situation to them.  After that had been taken care of and the boys had finished eating, I suggested we go to the family room for a while.  Once there, we all sat down on the sofa and I did my best to reassure them that they were going to be all right. 

When I felt the boys no longer needed my direct attention, I left them alone for a brief time and made my way to the master bedroom again.  Once there, I retrieved Matt and Kelly's personal phone directory from earlier and began thumbing through it again.  This time I was looking for their next door neighbor's name and phone number.  I had met the Riordans the previous summer at a barbeque Matt and Kelly held at the house and they seemed really nice.  I was hoping Brenda Riordan would be home and willing to lend me a hand, since I had a great deal to do and didn't want to leave the boys alone or have to drag them along with me. 

I dialed the number and breathed a sigh of relief when she answered the phone.  I quickly told her about Matt and Kelly, before explaining the current situation to her.   

"Oh my god!  I can't believe they're gone!" she exclaimed, once the information had sunk in.  "I will be happy to do what I can to help?" 

"Matt's father has asked me to make the funeral arrangements for them and I have several other errands to run, but I didn't want to leave the boys alone," I explained.  "This has been tough enough on them, without having to be bogged down with what I have to do next, so I was wondering if you would mind coming over and keeping them company for a while?" 

"Certainly," she agreed, without hesitation.  "The kids are in school, so just let me slip into something more appropriate and then I'll come over.  You can take all the time you need and I'll be happy to stay with them." 

"Thank you and I really appreciate your help.  No need to hurry though, because I have a few other things to do before I leave," I told her, before ending the call. 

While I was waiting for her to arrive, I explained to the boys what was going to happen next.  Then, I hurriedly cleaned up and put on a pair of slacks and a dress shirt, so I was ready to go out.  Once I'd finished, I discovered Brenda was already there, but I still had to make a few more phone calls first, before I set out on my errands. 

The first of these calls was to Kelly and Matt's attorney, Mr. Adam Sheffield, Esq.  I'd also located his name and number in their personal directory and was hoping he might have some information that would fill in a few of the blanks for me.  Shortly after his secretary transferred my call to his extension, Mr. Sheffield suggested that I make an appointment to see him later, so he could share what he knew.  I told him I would do that before I left to make the funeral arrangements.  After hearing this, he assured me that Matt and Kelly had more than enough life insurance to cover their final expenses, so I didn't need to worry about that.  Then, he transferred me back to his secretary, so she could squeeze me into his schedule.

Once that had been taken care of, I went back up to the master bedroom and selected a formal dress, appropriate under garments and an assortment of jewelry for Kelly, along with a suit, dress shirt, tie, underwear and socks for Matt.  I also grabbed a recent photo of the two of them off the dresser, so the funeral director would have it to go by.  Once I had everything, I set out for the morgue first, so I could see how badly damaged Matt and Kelly's corpses were.  I wanted to see for myself if it was still possible to have an open casket service for them. 

After explaining that I had been contacted by the police the previous evening after they discovered I was listed as Matt's emergency contact, the mortician allowed me to view the bodies.  He explained that most of the damage had been done to the torsos and internal organs, but he believed the funeral home could use various techniques to disguise the cuts and bruises on their faces.  I thanked him for that information and headed over to the funeral home next. 

I had chosen to use the same place that had handled both of Kelly's parents' funerals, which I had attended.  I did this because I felt it was something Matt and Kelly would have wanted.  After explaining the situation to the funeral director, he agreed to take care of everything.  Then, I followed him to the 'casket room', so I could select Matt and Kelly's coffins.  After choosing matching bronze metallic caskets for them, I told the funeral director I'd call him back with the other information he'd requested for the obituaries, since he'd offered to take care of that for me as well. 

From there, I drove to the florist shop and picked out several floral arrangements.  I selected two floral bouquets from me, one for Kelly and the other for Matt.  Then, I ordered two casket sprays that would be placed on the lower half of each casket, but those would be from the boys.  Once I finished up there, it was time for me to head over to the lawyer's office. 

Mr. Sheffield's secretary was very sweet and consoling when she greeted me, and then I sat down and waited in the reception area briefly.  When her boss was ready, I was guided into his office and he offered his condolences as well.  Then, Mr. Sheffield asked me to sit down. 

"I've pulled out Matt and Kelly's wills and read them over," he began.  "They're both in order and this is basically what they state.  Other than a small bequest for Matt's parents, if they are still living, everything else has been left to you.  You are listed as their primary beneficiary and the guardian of their minor children." 

"What?" I responded, totally shocked.  "They'd never said anything about that!" 

"It's all in their wills," Mr. Sheffield explained, while attempting to calm me down.   "Kelly's parents had originally been listed in that role, but once her mother died, it went from the two of them to just her father.  When he passed away, I remember Matt and Kelly saying that they didn't feel Matt's parents would be up to the task, because of their medical problems, so they changed everything over to you.  I was told you were very close to them and godfather to the boys, so I assumed they were planning to inform you about this." 

"They never said a word about anything like this," I mumbled, while still trying to comprehend what it meant. 

"Well seeing they were both young and healthy, they may have thought you'd never be needed to assume this responsibility, so they chose not to apprise you about it," he offered in return, after noting my reaction.  "Unfortunately, life has a strange way of springing unwanted surprises on us and this is one of them.  Am I correct in assuming you are willing to honor their wishes and will take over custodial responsibility for the boys?" 

"Of course I will do that, even if I wasn't planning on it," I answered.  "I just had no idea that I was Matt and Kelly's backup plan if anything were to happen to them." 

"They obviously trusted you or they wouldn't have given you such a great responsibility," Mr. Sheffield assured me, while trying to sound comforting. 

"Even though I'm single and wasn't planning on it, I promise to take care of the boys and won't let their parents down," I replied.   

"I'm willing to do anything I can to assist you in making the transition as easy as possible," Mr. Sheffield offered.  "I'll see to it that the deed to the house is transferred into your name and I'm fairly confident Matt had taken out mortgage insurance as well, so the balance would be paid off if anything happened to him.  I'll also prepare the legal documents necessary for you to take custody of the boys and ensure that the proceeds of the insurance policies, as well as any other personal financial accounts they might have had, are turned over to you as well.  Just in case you weren't aware of this, Kelly and Matt had previously purchased vaults at the local cemetery."  

"Matt's father had mentioned something about that when I spoke to him earlier, but he didn't know the details," I stated, relieved that this was one thing I wouldn't need to be involved in. 

"If you'd like, I'll contact the funeral home and give them the information for you," Mr. Sheffield offered. 

I agreed that would be helpful, but he shared the details with me as well, just so I'd know. 

"I wish you the best of luck and please contact me if there is anything else I can do to assist you," he added, once our business was concluded. 

I thanked him for his help and assured him that I would let him know if I needed anything further.  After I left Mr. Sheffield's office, I contacted the church that Kelly and Matt had belonged to and advised the minister about the situation.  He encouraged me to come directly to the church so I could plan the service with him and I agreed. 

Reverend Kirk turned out to be an elderly, gray-haired man with a very down to earth and easy going demeanor.  In his humble and soothing way, he guided me through the process of finding out if I wanted anyone to read scripture passages or make any personal comments during the service.  After explaining that there was no extended family, other than their sons, and I didn't want to leave the boys to do this, we agreed upon a very simple service. 

He then helped me select the hymns I wanted incorporated and in what order.  Once that had been agreed to, he asked for my personal thoughts about Kelly and Matt, but he also wanted to know if I had any anecdotal information that I might be willing to share about them.  After I told him what he wanted to know, I thanked Reverend Kirk for his assistance and left to perform my final task. 

I swung by my apartment next, so I could pick up a few things before I headed back to spend time with the boys.  First, I tossed a bunch of my clothes into a duffel bag, along with my toiletries and a few other items.  Then, I grabbed three of my suits, a handful of dress shirts and several ties and slid them into a couple of different garment  bags.  Once everything was ready, I carried the items outside and loaded them into the car, so I could return to my new home.

When I arrived at the house, I thanked Brenda for her help and she assured me that she was happy to do it.  Before leaving, she also encouraged me to call on her or her husband, if I needed anything else.  After telling her that I appreciated her offer and she'd most likely be hearing from me again, we said goodbye and she returned home.  As soon as she was gone, I headed outside and began carrying my belongings into the house.  After I took it all up to the master bedroom, I came back downstairs and called the boys together.  I wanted to let them know some of the things I'd done. 

"Hey, guys, I have some information I'd like to share with you," I began, as three sets of wide eyes stared in my direction.  "First of all, this morning I arranged for your parents' funerals and discovered some very interesting news.  Although I didn't know this before I met with your parents' lawyer, your mom and dad had named me to be your guardian, in case anything happened to them." 

"What's that mean?" Tyler, the oldest, wanted to know, since he didn't quite comprehend what I was telling him. 

"It means your mom and dad named me to take care of and look after you if something happened to them, which it did," I explained. 

"Does that mean you're going to be our daddy now?" Marcus, the 9-year-old asked, looking confused. 

"I'll be doing many of the same things your dad would have done for you boys, as well some things your mother did for you too, but I'm never going to try to take their place," I offered, hoping this would clear things up for them.  "Your dad was my best friend and I loved your mom like a sister, so I don't want to replace them and never want you to forget them.  I promise to take care of you the best I can, but I'm still just your 'Uncle Blake', except now I'll be living here and taking care of you." 

"Are you gonna be sleeping in mommy and daddy's bed too?" Ethan, the youngest, wondered. 

"Yes, I'll be using the master bedroom and sleeping in their bed," I confirmed.  "I'll also be setting the rules and ensuring you boys all get along.  My biggest job will be to make sure you don't go hungry, that you have clean clothes to wear and that you're washed and loved.  I'll also be checking to make sure your homework is done."

"You can forget about that last part if you want," Marcus added, while making a face. 

"Oh, no!  That's just as important as the other stuff," I replied, while giving him a knowing wink and a grin.  "I'm also responsible for making sure you get a good education and that you do well in school."

"You gonna be tucking us in bed and kissing us goodnight?" Ethan asked, while flashing me a quizzical expression.  I could tell he was trying to work all of this out in his mind. 

"I'd love to do that, if you don't mind or feel you're too old for such things," I offered, while hoping my expression reinforced what I was saying. 

"No, that would be good," Ethan responded, as a look of approval showed on his face.  The other two merely giggled and rolled their eyes at their little brother. 

Since those issues had been cleared up and agreed to, I explained to the boys that nothing more would be happening today.  Tomorrow, however, would be the calling hours at the funeral home and the following day would be the funeral service and burial.  I was surprised to learn that each of them had a suit, so I went with each boy to his bedroom to make sure the suits were clean, pressed and there was a shirt and tie to go with it.  I also checked to see that they had a pair of dress shoes to wear. 

Once I felt everything had been taken care of, I led them downstairs again.  I figured we'd watch television for a while and get to know each other better.  As soon as I sat in the center of the sofa, Tyler plopped down next to me on one side and Marcus on the other, so Ethan crawled onto my lap.  I didn't tell any of them to do this, but they each seemed to want to be close to me right now and I didn't have a problem with it.  I was now their surrogate parent and all three seemed to need a little attention and reassurance that I was going to be there for them and everything was going to be fine.  After all, since waking up this morning most of their world had crashed and burned, so now they were struggling to rise from the ashes. 

We had an enjoyable time with each other, considering the circumstances, and the boys were beginning to feel comfortable with me being around.  Throughout the late afternoon and early evening, however, the doorbell seemed to ring constantly, as many of the neighbors dropped by to offer their condolences and leave food for us.  By dinnertime, we had a nice collection of salads, lunch meats, various types of breads and a number of desserts, but then Brenda Riordan dropped by with a roast she had just taken out of the oven. 

After thanking her and making certain her family wasn't going without, the boys and I sat down to eat our first real meal together.  I put the lunchmeats and some of the other items in the refrigerator, while Tyler and Marcus set the table.  Then, I sliced the roast and added some to their plates, while they decided which salads they wanted.  While I was helping the younger pair with that, Tyler poured each of them a glass of milk, as I waited for the coffee to finish brewing. 

After dinner, I sat down with the boys again and attempted to answer the questions they were asking about what to expect over the next couple of days.  I tried to explain it to them as best I could, but seeing they had never been to calling hours or a funeral before, it was hard for them to visualize.  Their parents had felt they were too young to attend their grandparents' funerals and had left them with a babysitter during that time, but now I wished Kelly and Matt hadn't been so protective of them.  It might have made this a little easier for me now. 

As the hour grew late and it got closer to bedtime, I told the boys it was time to take their baths and asked how they wanted to do it.  Ethan said he wanted to take his bath with Marcus, so I turned toward his brother, since I wasn't sure how he felt about doing this.  After flashing him a quizzical look, he finally responded. 

"It's ok.  I don't mind.  I'll do it with him this time, but we don't usually take our baths together anymore," he stated.  "We did it that way when we were younger, but once in a while he still likes me to take my bath with him.  I think it's because Mommy isn't here to do it tonight," he added, in a whispered tone. 

"You might be right and I'm glad you're willing to do this for him," I replied, while mildly praising him for his understanding. 

The boys went to their rooms to get undressed and then Ethan came running back down the hallway, completely naked.  This mildly surprised me, because I expected he would leave his underwear on until he was ready to get into the tub. 

"Uncle Blake, you gotta fill the tub for us, so the water's not too hot or cold," he informed me, after entering the bathroom.  Then, he looked at me as if I should have already known this.  "You gotta wash me too!" 

While I was filling the tub, Marcus arrived clad in his tighty whities and then both boys started to brush their teeth.  I wasn't sure how Marcus was going to respond to Ethan's request, so I approached the subject delicately, before they were ready to get in the tub. 

"Ethan wants me to bathe him, so I'll understand if you want to change your mind," I offered, as soothingly as I could. 

"Nah, it's no big deal," he quipped, while shrugging it off more easily than I was expecting. 

"That means I'll be in here once you're both naked," I pointed out, since I felt possibly he didn't understand what I was telling him. 

"I know and it's not a big deal," Marcus assured me.  "If you're going to be living here and taking care of us, I'm sure you will see me naked sooner or later anyway.  Mommy and daddy did." 

I was surprised by how casually he dismissed this, but I wasn't about to argue with him.  Nonchalantly, he shed his briefs and stepped into the tub with his brother.  I began washing Ethan and shampooing his hair, while Marcus merely sat there and watched us.  When I finished with Ethan, he looked at me and spoke. 

"You might as well wash me too," he stated, in a very matter-of-fact manner.  "I asked Mommy to stop giving me baths when I was about a year older than Ethan, but it was because she was a girl and I was getting too old for her to still see me without any clothes on.  You're a guy though, so I don't mind if you do it, but we just won't do this all the time.  Only when Ethan wants me to take my bath with him."  

I had no problem doing it, as long as he didn't mind.  I may be a gay man, but I don't get turned on by little boys' bodies, so I had no trouble helping them.  They even had me clean their cute little boy penises and scrotums, as well as their butts, and didn't make any comments about the intimate nature of the act. 

As soon as they were both squeaky clean, I dried them off and sent them back to their rooms to get ready for bed.  I followed Ethan to his room to make sure he didn't require any further assistance.  I watched as he went over to his dresser and pulled out a pair of underpants, which had images of SpongeBob SquarePants imprinted on them. 

"Do you sleep in your underwear or pajamas?" I asked, since I wasn't sure. 

"Both," he answered, as he pulled on his underpants.  I was merely surprised that he didn't just wear one or the other. 

Once he finished putting on his Spiderman pajamas, I tucked him into bed and kissed him on the forehead.  Ethan looked up and smiled as I pulled away. 

"Thank you for taking care of me tonight," he almost whispered as I stood up. 

"You're welcome, kiddo," I replied.  "Now try to get some sleep." 

He merely smiled at me and closed his eyes, as I turned off the light and shut the door.  I went directly from there to Marcus' room.  He was already in his pajamas by the time I arrived, so I merely tucked him in and kissed him on the forehead as well. 

"I hope that doesn't bother you," I murmured, once I'd realized he might feel he was too old for such things. 

"Nah.  It's kinda nice," he responded, while flashing me a cockeyed grin. 

"I'm glad you approve, sport," I teased, while tickling him briefly through the covers.  "I'll see you in the morning." 

"Goodnight, Uncle Blake," he added, as I turned off the light and closed his door. 

I then walked down the hall toward Tyler's room, which was across from mine.  As I walked past the bathroom, I heard the shower still running, so it appeared he hadn't finished yet.  For that reason, I went into the master suite and started unpacking a few of my things. 

A couple of minutes later, I saw Tyler go into his room, with a towel wrapped around his waist.  I gave him a few minutes to get dressed first, before I walked across the hallway and knocked on his open door. 

"Come in," he said, so I entered his room.  He was now clad in a pair of tighty whities too.

"I just wanted to say goodnight before you went to sleep," I said as I walked toward him.  "I imagine you're too big for me to tuck in, like I did with your brothers." 

"Yeah, I am, but I don't mind you coming in to say goodnight," he assured me, with a cocky grin.  "I appreciate that you're not treating me like a little kid and trying to do everything for me, like you are with my brothers." 

I gave him a puzzled look, since I wasn't sure how he knew about any of that. 

"I was waiting to take my shower and the bathroom door was open, so I peeked in and saw what was going on," he explained, as he blushed slightly. 

"It's not a big deal and I only did it with Ethan because he asked me too.  Since Marcus had let Ethan talk him into taking their baths together, he let me do the same for him," I explained, to clarify the situation.  "I would never have forced them to do anything like that, if they didn't want my help." 

"I'm glad you feel that way," Tyler responded.  "I was kind of surprised to see Marcus taking a bath with Ethan, but I was even more surprised that he was letting you wash him.  He wouldn't let Mom do that any longer." 

"I think he agreed to do it more for Ethan's sake than for mine, but I wasn't about to say anything about it.  I was merely willing to do whatever they wanted," I assured him.  "I remember from my own childhood that there comes a point when a boy feels he's old enough to do things for himself, so I'll try to give you some leeway where that is concerned.  Just don't be afraid to ask for my help, if you need it." 

"I won't and thanks, Uncle Blake," he stated, as he walked over and gave me a hug.  When he did, I kissed him on the top of his head, since I'm 5' 11" (181 cm) and a full head taller than he is. 

"Thanks for that too," he added, as he released me. 

"You're welcome, champ, and I think this is going to work out fine," I commented, as I watched him hop into bed.  "I'll see you in the morning." 

I then turned off the light and closed his door behind me, before walking back to the master bedroom.  Once there, I finished what I had been doing and then slid into bed myself.  We had finally come to the end of the first day of my new life with the boys. 

As I lie in bed, I had trouble falling asleep.  I wasn't sure if it had anything to do with being in a different place and in a strange bed, or if the reality of the day's events were finally starting to hit home.  It might have even been due to my concerns about whether I was up to this task, but it could also have been the result of a combination of all those things.  Whatever caused it, I didn't fall asleep for over an hour before drifting into a very uneasy slumber.  I certainly hoped the boys had made out better than I did. 


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I wish to extend my thanks to Donny for editing these chapters for me and offering his suggestions. 

E-mail responses to the stories, story suggestions, or other ‘constructive’ comments or advice may be sent to: ErastesTouch@aol.com  - but please put the story title in the subject line, so it doesn’t get deleted as junk mail.  

My other stories:




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Although the boys in these stories sometimes have unprotected sex, I strongly urge all of you out there to be smart and protect yourselves from various sexually transmitted diseases by using taking appropriate precautions before engaging in sex.