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Chapter 12

The Unexpected Visitor

Michael and Ian were driving home from visiting Emerson at the B & B when Michael told Ian to stop the truck. Ian asked, "Why, what's wrong?"

"I thought I saw an arm hanging out of the ditch back there. "Hold on while I go take a look." Suddenly Michael shouted, "Ian get out here quick there's a kid lying in the ditch he appears to be badly injured. Michael felt for his pulse, it was weak but he was still alive. Help me put him in the truck, we'll run him up to the ranch and see if we can do anything for him. If he's too badly hurt we'll have to drive him to the village."

Ian asked, "Michael do you think he conscious?"

"No he isn't Ian, but Quinn might be able to help him, he's patched up a lot of ranch hands let's see what he thinks."

Martin and Peter were on the front veranda when we pulled in; Ian jumped out of the truck and asked if Quinn was here, "We found an injured boy lying by the road." Peter went in to find Quinn as Martin, Ian, and Michael carried the boy in and laid him on one of the sofas.

Peter brought Quinn in and when he saw the kid, he said, "My God, what's happened to him, he's not even conscious. Martin, bring in the emergency medicine kit and Peter get some warm water and a wash cloth and towels, we need to get some of this dirt off of him so I can get a better look at his injuries."

Quinn patted the boy's face lightly before waving smelling salts briefly under his nose, which seemed to work, there was a moan and his eyelids fluttered a little. Michael said, "It looks like he starting to come around Quinn.

Peter and Martin were carefully rinsing off as much dirt as they could without causing anymore pain or further complicating his injuries. Martin asked if Quinn thought he had been hit but a car. "No, I don't think so Martin; there are some deep cuts and severe bruising on this face that appears to be more likely from being hit by a fist. Peter, open his shirt so we can see if there's damage to his chest and ribs."

Quinn found at least three broken or cracked ribs, "Michael, if the rest of him looks like this we may have to get this young man to hospital." Just then the boy's eyes opened slightly and he weakly whispered, "Please, don't hit me again."

Quinn calmed him enough to make him understand that he was safe and no one was going to hurt him. "You've been badly injured; can tell us your name and what happened to you?"

"I'm Jonathon, and my dad...I mean... some men grabbed me and just started hitting me." Quinn said, "Okay Jonathan, that's enough for now, do you think if we draw you a warm bath that you could manage to soak in some bath salts for a bit."

Jonathan said he thought so. Peter had already run a warm bath; getting the kid's clothing off without hurting him wasn't easy. He was is such pain that he pants had to be cut off, he wasn't wearing underwear which in this case was a good thing, the guys were horrified at what damage had been done to his groin area. After removing his socks and shoes Quinn and Martin carefully lowered him into the tub of warm water.

Ian asked if Jonathan thought he could drink some warm tea or soup. Jonathan's reaction to Ian's suggestion of soup let them know he was really hungry which probably accounted for the fact that there was very little meat on the poor kid's bones. Quinn managed to get two cups of soup in him before Jonathan started to drift off. Quinn said, "I'm hoping that's some badly needed sleep he's drifting off into and not unconsciousness."

Quinn carefully lifted him out of the water while Martin and Peter patted him dry with towels, Quinn carried him into one of the bedrooms and laid Jonathan down and covered him up. Quinn said, "Someone needs to stay with him I don't know how he'll react when he wakes up in a strange place."

Michael volunteered for the first watch. The others went into the kitchen and discussed what they thought might have happened to Jonathan. Peter said, "My first guess is that his father had something to do with his beating. The way Jonathan changed his story mid-sentence means he was afraid to tell us the truth."

Quinn said, "Whatever the case is we need to get to the bottom of it, anyone who would do this to a child needs to be made to pay a price and I don't mean a chat with the local constable."

Martin said, "The way his groin had been repeatedly kicked and stomped makes me think his father may have been responsible." Peter and Quinn both said they agreed. That beating might be more likely the result of a very hateful and bigoted father than strangers, but we shouldn't make any judgments without knowing all the facts.

Ian called the B & B and told Eve about what had happened and asked if she would mind keeping Guy there for a few days or until we figure out what happened to Jonathan. She of course agreed and said to please tell Quinn she'll miss him but understands that he needs to stay close to make sure the young man doesn't take a turn for the worse.

Sometime in the night Jonathan woke up confused and frightened. Martin had taken Michael's place sitting in the room watching over Jonathan. There was a dim light on so Jonathan could see him. Martin went over and sat on the edge of the bed. He said, "Jonathan you're safe here with us, no one will hurt you. Jonathan's eyes looked wild with fear; Martin carefully took Jonathan's hand and held it. He asked if Jonathan was in a lot of pain.

He replied yes, but it was okay. Martin said, "There is no reason to suffer I have a pain pill right here that'll help. He handed Jonathan the pill and a glass of water and watched to make sure he took the pill. Jonathan seemed to relax a little; he asked Martin why everyone was being so nice. "Jonathan you're hurt and needed help anyone would help you under the circumstances."

Jonathan looked at Martin as he said, "Not everyone would."

Martin ran his hand over Jonathan's thin arm as he said, "You look like you could use a few good meals." Jonathan turned his head away to hide the tears that were forming. Martin decided to take a chance and asked, "Jonathan was it your dad who did this to you?" When Jonathan looked back at Martin his eyes were filled with terror. Martin leaned over and gently hugged him, "Jonathan its okay, I promise we'll never let anyone hurt you again."

Jonathan cried for a while before he said, "You don't know him, he said the next time he would kill me and bury me behind the barn."

Martin kept gently probing, "Jonathan, you said the next time, what were you referring to?" Jonathan turned away, "If I tell you you'll hate me too."

Martin said, "Let me tell you something about me okay? You know there are four other men here, there's Quinn, he's my father, then there's Peter, he's my partner, and there are two others, Michael and Ian, they are also partners. My father Quinn is married to a lovely woman named Eve and they have a young son named Ian Michael that we all call Guy.

I could see the wheels started turning when Jonathan heard me say Peter is my partner; I'm not sure if he even heard the rest of what I said.

There was a pause before Jonathan asked what I meant when I said Peter was my partner.

"Peter is my partner, my mate, I love him with all my heart, do you understand?" For the first time I actually saw some color come back into Jonathan's face and the fear in his eyes began to recede as we continued our conversation.

Jonathan asked, "Do you mean you are lovers and you even have sex together."

Martin looked at Jonathan with a smile on his face as he said, "Yes, I mean to say Peter and I are lovers and yes of course we have sex together, that is part of a loving relationship."

It appeared that the door had been opened as questions came rushing out of Jonathan. Are Michael and Ian lovers too? My dad say's that people like you are evil and should all be killed. Do people hate you because you love another man?

Martin slowed down Jonathan's questions long enough to ask him if his dad caught him with another boy?

Jonathan went silent for a while before he said, "Yes, dad came into the barn and caught James and I naked in the hayloft, we were having sex. He grabbed me and threw me off the hayloft against the side of the barn and told me to get my clothes back on. James ran for his life. Dad just kept hitting me with his fist and when I fell to the floor he started kicking me, I thought for sure he was going to kill me. That's the last thing I remember before waking up in your house."

"How old are you Jonathan?"

"I'm going to be fourteen in a couple of months."

Michael cleared his throat letting Martin know he had come in the room. "Is it okay if I come in?"

"Of course Michael, how long have you been standing in the door?"

"Long enough Martin."

Martin said, "Jonathan do you remember who this is?"

"Well sort of, I heard you call him Michael so I guess that means he's Ian's partner."

Michael walked over with a big smile on that handsome face of his and kissed Jonathan on the forehead before he said "Well there isn't anything wrong with your memory."

Jonathan said, "No sir, I have a good memory, and he actually managed a weak smile."

Michael asked Martin if he'd like some coffee, Quinn has some brewing fresh if you're interested.

Martin asked Jonathan if he'd like to chat with Michael for a while.

Jonathan said, "That would be fine and thanks Martin for telling me about Peter and you being lovers."

Martin said, "Hey, that's what friends do for each other."

That comment got Martin a big smile from Jonathan."

Michael said, "Well Jonathan you sure look better than you did last evening when Ian and I found you lying in the ditch not far from here."

Jonathan said, "You found me in a ditch by the road? My dad must have thrown me there; he must have thought I was dead." At that point Jonathan started to cry.

Michael sat on the bed beside Jonathan and held him for several minutes. "Jonathan, we'll make sure neither your dad nor anyone else ever hurts you again, that's a promise I'll make for all of us."

Ian and Quinn were both standing just inside the door as Ian said, "And that's a promise we intend to keep."

Quinn added, "I hope you don't mind living here with a bunch of old guys Jonathan but we want you to stay here with us if you will."

Jonathan actually managed a laugh as he said, "You are not old guys at all. Do you really mean I can live here with you?"

Quinn said, "Well finders keepers, and we found you so I guess that means we can keep you that is if you would like to stay with us." Jonathan started to cry again, but this time we believed it was from relief not the pain he was in.

Quinn found some of Martin's clothes from years ago, they were too big for Jonathan, but they would do until they fitted him out with the right sizes. After he had enough breakfast to fill a couple of grown men Martin asked Jonathan what his last name was and if his mother was at home.

Jonathan said, his last name was Renfield, but he didn't know where his mother was, he guessed that she had run off when he was about two, at least that's what his dad told him, He said he didn't really remember her much.

A few days later Eve came out to meet Jonathan and see if there was anything she could do to help. She was mortified at Jonathan's physical condition. Quinn said, "If you think he looks bad now you should have seen him when Michael and Ian brought him into the house."

Eve went out on the veranda where Michael, Ian, and Jonathan were and sat next to Jonathan. She said, "Jonathan I've sure heard a lot about you, how are you feeling? I hope these guys are taking good care of you."

Jonathan smiled up at Eve and said, "Miss Eve, they are wonderful, I've never known such nice people and yes they are taking good care of me."

"That's good to know Jonathan, and please just call me Eve okay. It looks like the next time I come out I need to bring you some clothes that actually fit you."

Jonathan said, "These clothes are wonderful, I don't need new ones."

Michael, Ian and Eve started laughing as Ian said, "Jonathan you are such a good guy, but honestly we really need to get you some things that fit you properly."

Eve said it might not be a good idea to take Jonathan into the village to shop until he was healed up more than he is now. Quinn came out and kissed Eve before saying, "I've taken all of Jonathan's measurements for clothing and made a drawing of his feet so you can pick up some shoes and a pair of boots for him. I don't think he needs to makes any trips until we put some meat on his bones."

What Quinn was thinking was he didn't want to take any chances on anyone recognizing Jonathan and telling his father they'd seen him. I'm going to give that man some of his own medicine so he knows what it feels like to be beaten to a bloody pulp.

A couple of weeks passed and Jonathan was looking pretty good and had already gained weight. The clothing Eve brought home fit him perfectly and he was turning into a rather handsome lad. His birthday was coming the next week and Eve and the guys were planning a surprise party. Jonathan had been going with Quinn up to the B & B occasionally and helping out by working in the gardens and wherever he was needed. Guy thought it was great having a big brother to play with and followed Jonathan around like a puppy.

That evening when Quinn, Eve, Guy, and Jonathan walked in there was a big cake with fourteen candles lit. Everyone yelled happy birthday, Jonathan just stood there dumb struck. Quinn put his arm around Jonathan's shoulder and asked if he was alright.

Jonathan asked how they knew it was his birthday. Eve told him she had checked the birth records at the courthouse and got a copy of his birth certificate with that information on it.

Guy was clapping his hands and telling Jonathan to make a wish and blow out the candles.

Jonathan still looked like he was in shock, but Guy took his hand and said, "Come on Jonathan, I'll help you blow out the candles." That seemed to bring Jonathan back to reality, he smiled down at Guy, and said, "Okay let's go and see if we can blow them all out together."

Jonathan couldn't believe all of the gifts that everyone brought especially the new bike which he said he didn't know how to ride. Martin said, "I'll teach you Jon it'll take you about five minutes to get the hang of it."

What Jonathan didn't know was that the guys had also gotten him a motor scooter that was hidden away in the back of one of the storage sheds until he had grown a little and put on some weight. It was a happy time for Jonathan and he couldn't thank everyone enough for their kindness.

Something else that no one knew about until the next day's paper arrived with a story about Franklin Renfield having been found lying behind a bar in the village beaten to an inch of his life.

Michael took the paper and walked into the kitchen and said, "

Quinn do you know anything about this?"

Quinn didn't bother to turn and look at Michael as he said, "Nope."

"Quinn, you don't even know what I'm asking about."

"It doesn't matter I don't know anything about it."

Michael took the paper and stuffed it in the bottom of the garbage can so no one else would see it. Obviously Quinn wasn't going to admit to anything even though Michael noticed his knuckles were bruised pretty badly. He had to laugh to himself as he thought; Jon's dad just found out pay back can be a real bitch.

Christmas was rolling around again; Jonathan must have grown six inches and put on at least twenty pounds. His muscles and chest have filled out nicely from working around the ranch and the B & B. It was doubtful anyone from the village would recognize him as Jonathan Renfield.

Everyone had and taken to calling him Jon, and Peter asked him if he would mind changing his last name to Holbrook, it wouldn't be the same as adopting him which couldn't be done since his father was still living, but at least most people would think he was related to Peter and not question the fact that he lived at the ranch.

Jon agreed and said he was more than happy to have Peter's name, it was almost like having a real dad who loved him. He added "I feel all of you are my dad's, I hope that doesn't sound silly."

Ian said, "Not at all, it makes us proud that you think of us in that way Jon."

The legal name change was taken care of in Sydney with the help of the English ambassador and Cardinal Whittinger. It never hurts to have some powerful folks on your side to move things along without too many questions being asked.

Jon's dad will never know about it, and we imagine he's scared to death thinking he may have beaten his son to death and someone will find out and he'll hang for his crime.

A week before Christmas all the guys including Guy went out and cut two beautiful Trees down, one for the B & B and one for their house. They first set the tree up at the B & B and they all spent the rest of the day decorating it. It was over eight feet tall and Jon was on the ladder hanging ornaments and icicles as guy handed them to him. A few of the guests were also helping with the decorations. When finished the tree was gorgeous.

The next day after breakfast Jon asked how they could possibly get their tree in the house, he said, "Our tree must be close to fifteen feet tall, will it fit inside?"

Peter said, "It'll fit with room to spare Jon, it goes right in the center where the two winding staircases come down around it on each side." It was fun having someone so young there; his excitement was at an entirely different level.

Speaking of different levels when Jon first arrived at thirteen he barely stood five feet three, if that. Now about four months away from his fifteenth birthday he was pushing six feet one or two, although Jon appeared completely unaware of it.

We just kept buying bigger clothes as we noticed his pants and shirts didn't fit right. Jon was a hard worker and had become an important part of running the ranch. We didn't think he noticed the changes in his body. We were wondering when he would notice that he was standing eye to eye with most of us. Eve was home schooling him along with Guy and couldn't believe how intelligent he is.

He had not only become a handsome young man, but also a very intellectual one as well.

Jon helped put the stand on the trunk of the spruce that we'd chosen for our tree which was wrapped in tarps pulling the limbs tight to the center of the tree before we pulled it through the double doors using another tarp to drag it along.

Quinn braced the stand as the rest of us tilted it up; Peter was up on the first landing tugging on a rope attached to the top of the tree. It took us about fifteen minutes before the weight shifted and the tree settled in place.

Jon said, "If I hadn't been a part of this I would never have believed you could have gotten the tree in here without damaging anything."

It took all of them working together to get it trimmed before Eve and Guy came home from the B & B. They waited until Eve opened the door and hit the switch lighting the tree. Guy threw his hands in the air and yelled WOW! Before running over and hugging Quinn.

Guy started to say it has to be the biggest tree in the world before he stopped and just looked up at Jon. Jon smiled as he knelt down and put his arm around Guy and said, "It's beautiful isn't it Guy?" Guy said, "Jon, how did you get so tall and why am I still so small?"

Everyone laughed, as Jon said, "I'm not so tall."

Eve said, "Yes you are Jon, when you came here I was taller than you, now you stand a head taller than me." All the guys were laughing, Jon said, "What's so funny?"

Quinn said, "Jon we've been wondering when you would realize that you're over six foot tall."

"I am?"

Michael said, "Indeed you are, come over here and stand toe to toe with me, Jon did as he was told, now if you notice we're looking directly into each other's eyes and I'm six foot three."

Jon started laughing, "I wonder why I never noticed that before." Michael said, I think you were too busy growing." The evening was fun as some of the gifts were placed under the tree much to Guy's delight. Eve helped Quinn wrap garland around the curved banisters on either side of the tree before it was time to put Guy in his room. He had fallen asleep peeking at the gifts beneath the tree.

Peter, Martin, Michael, Ian, and Jon retired to the front veranda, a glass of wine in hand as they watched the darkening sky fill with stars.


Chapter 13 will follow: