{"Beneath the Mask" is pure fiction. As I am writing this story, I am above the age of 21. If you want a story with lots of sex, look elsewhere. This is a love story. Seeing, as it is a love story, sex is in there, but it is in realistic balance in the characters' lives.

Any similarity to any real events, names, or life events is purely accidental. If you are underage, (according to your state laws, a minor), if this literature is offensive to you or to anyone around your viewing area, or it is illegal for you to view such content where you are reading it, stop reading the story.

This story cannot be distributed in any way, shape or form without author's express written consent.}

Story Written by: J.P.G.

Editor: "Daddy" Rick

Editor: Trevor

I have a home page for you to see what the characters look like or what the places look like. If you want to walk in their shoes, please go to: http://jacobmillertex.com/

Chapter 54


Monday morning, Falster woke up more tired than he was when he went to bed three short hours before. The last forty eight hours have been the busiest of his adult life. He can't remember a time that he was as busy as he has been in the last couple days. From the moment he got the phone call from the mayor to come down to take on the position of chief of police of a city force that was so corrupt it has been nonstop. Adding to the stress, he doesn't know who can trust.

As he got up to get ready, he started to go over in his mind who he would be able to put in leadership positions in the police force that are vacant now because of his dismissal of the prior command staff. He was one hundred percent certain that he can't go to the veteran officers still on the force to fill those spots; not after what he's seen since he has been here. The moment he arrives he has four officers taking the law into their own hands and trying to kill a wanted fugitive and two innocent civilians as well! There's no doubt the city will be paying through the nose in lawsuits.

Putting all that in the back of his mind, Falster got out of the shower, dried himself off and got dressed. Before leaving for his office, he made a call home to check in on his family and see how they were doing. He knew what he was doing here in El Paso has them being hounded by the press back home since he has been unavailable for comment.

The voice of his youngest son coming over the line brought him out of his thoughts. He loved hearing his kids' voices, more so after the last couple of days and what he has been through. Hearing their voices, talking to them gives him the strength to continue. It is for them he is doing what he is doing. He's making his little corner of the world a little for safer so he doesn't have to worry about his kids whenever they are out with friends.

"Orlando, it's good to hear your voice!" Falster finally spoke after his son said hello several times. "Isn't it nearly time for you to leave for school?" Orlando said "yes."

"I don't want to make you late, but I do want to talk with you and your brother about what I am doing down here before you leave. Can you go and get Vicente and put him on the other phone for me?"

Orlando dropped the phone and less than a minute later, he returned. Just as he picked up the phone he was talking on, his older brother's voice came over the line. James greeted his oldest and made sure they had a few minutes to talk. He wants to prepare his kids for what they are about to hear at school, but he doesn't want to end up making them late by doing so.

"Okay boys, I am pretty sure you mother has told you where I am and what I am doing. If you haven't heard it from her, you have gotten some of it off the television." Both of the boys said "yes."

"When you go to school today, some of the kids are going to look at you differently and they might even try and make problems for you. Not for any good reason but just to do so. I need you guys to be the bigger person if that happens and walk away. If things go as planned, you and your mother should be up here with me in a week or so."

"Dad don't worry about us, we can take care of ourselves." Vicente's voice came over the line. "Orlando and I talked last night and we know what to do. It's pretty much the same as the last move. We'll take care of things here. You just take care of things down there. Mom is very worried and we're not going to do anything to make things worse for her. We also don't want you to worry about us because you have enough to worry about already."

James loved what he was hearing from his oldest and at the same time couldn't believe what he was hearing. Vicente is talking, as if he is the man of the house. That is making James feel proud that he and his wife have done a good job with their boys. Also, they are not blinded by what is in front of them. They are seeing what he is doing is worrying their mother and they don't want to add to her worries.

"Vicente you make sure you take care of Orlando at school. If the press tries to talk with you guys, which I think they will, ignore them. You guys are high school students, be high school students. When you are at home, try and help out a little more around the house. I know I don't have to say that because you guys see how worried your mother is."

Vicente promised his father that he and his brother will do what they can to help out. They talked a few more minutes, but the boys had to get off to get to school. Before hanging up, the boys asked their father to be careful and told him that they loved him. That choked James up so much he was barely able to say goodbye.

Orlando handed his phone to his mother as he ran out to meet his brother at the door, to head to school. When James heard her voice, he felt better. He was worried about her since he left, and then when his son told him that she was worried, he is now even more concerned. He never wanted to put his wife through a second of worry, let alone many days.

To make matters worse, he is now tight for time. The officer that was appointed as his driver has already arrived and is now waiting for him downstairs according to the message he just got. He didn't want the press that was standing outside to see an officer standing around waiting for him on the taxpayer's dime. That isn't the kind of press he wants or can afford.

Hating to rush the conversation with his wife, James let her voice her concerns and tried to answer them all. When she was done, they talked about what she needed for the move. It wasn't much since they hadn't really settled into their current home. After getting through that, they talked about when to pull the boys out of school. Going back and forth on the day, they agreed on Thursday so they could help out getting things packed and loaded on the truck.

"Sweety, I know you need to get going, but please make sure you eat and take care of yourself while you are alone up there. I know you; you have a tendency to eat fast food and sometimes not eat at all whenever I am not there making sure you are eating right." Catherine spoke in her low, but motherly concerned voice.

"I will honey, I will." James heard a knock on the door. "There is someone at the door; I'd better let you go. Give the kids a hug and kiss from me and make sure they are helping you out packing up the house. If they give you any backtalk on that, let me know. I don't think they will, not after what they told me this morning."

Catherine agreed with her husband before sending her love and goodbyes over the line. As soon as they hung up, James walked over to the door, grabbing his coat along the way. It was no surprise when he opened it to find his driver standing there. He apologized to the officer as he made sure his hotel door was locked.

On the way down to the lobby, they didn't say a word to each other. The officer was not a new officer, but he wasn't a long term veteran either. He wasn't totally accustomed to the way things were being done, which made it easier for him to go along with the changes that have already taken place. He, like the others, thought all the changes have been done already. If only they knew how wrong they were. James has only just begun restructuring the El Paso Police Force.

Once they were in the car, they struck up a conversation, but stayed away from what was going on with the department. Their conversation was general. It stayed around topics like the crime in the city, how hard it was to get around, the crime that comes over the border and other things similar to those topics. It kept them with enough to talk about all the way from the hotel to James' office. When they got to the building, the officer dropped James off in the front before he pulled away to park the car in the back.

James didn't wait for the officer since he already knew the way to his office. When he entered into the building, the officers at the front standing guard went to attention. James bid them good morning as he passed them going to the elevator. Every officer he passed on his way to his office stopped whatever they were doing and did the same thing the officers did when he first walked into the building. James didn't mind, but he also wanted them to continue doing their job, not stop what they were doing whenever he walks by.

When he got to his office, he was greeted by a very friendly woman with a cup of coffee in her hand. "Sir, I wish I knew you were coming in over the weekend because I would have been here for whatever you needed. I found out about you like everyone else here in El Paso, through the news." The lady handed James the cup. "I don't know how you like your coffee, so I made it like I like to drink it. If you don't like it, I will go and get you another cup."

Taking a sip, James shook his head. "I have no problem with the way you made this cup." James looked over the secretary's shoulder and saw several officers sitting in his outer office. He turned his attention back to the woman standing before him. "I am sorry that no one notified you about me coming in. Everything was done at the last minute because of what was going on at the time." James waved her to follow him.

They walked into his office, and once they were in, he closed the door. "I am James Falster, as I'm sure you know. Seeing as I reviewed personnel files, I know you are Arleen Simmons. It is a pleasure to meet you, Arlene;" James said with a friendly smile with his hand extended for a friendly handshake. Arlene responded with a `pleased to meet you' and returned the handshake. James continued; "I know you are probably wondering if I am going to keep you on as my secretary." The smile across Arlene's face went away as she nodded her head. "What happened in this office under the old chief of police went out the door when he went out the door, but good workers won't. As I said a moment ago, I have read your file and by what I have read, you've had no part in what he was doing. In fact, you were one of the few that voiced concerns on what he was doing way before he was caught. I need staff like you to stay here and help me clean this place up."

That put the smile back on Arlene's face. "I am new here and I will need your experience to get me through the first couple of weeks. I know you know the ins and outs of this place. Who is good, who is bad and who is trying to lie to me. In other words, I'm asking you in an around about way, will you please stay on as my secretary."

"I was hoping that you would ask me that. The answer is yes!" Arlene walked over to James and handed him several files. "I'm sure you saw the four officers sitting in the waiting area. They created a huge scene at the hospital last night with the family members of the young kid that was taken hostage and nearly killed. Since there are no precinct commanders right now, they were sent here for you to deal with."

James looked through the folders that were handed to him as he walked around his desk and sat down. They were the officers' personnel files, which looked pretty good. There were no complaints on any of them, which told James one of two things; either complaints weren't logged or these officers were actually good at their jobs. James believed the former rather than the latter was going on. In his mind there is no way officers could get through several years without at least one complaint lodged against him or her.

"Is there anything else you know and have not told me?" James looked up from the files over to his secretary. "I mean they do need to be dealt with, but not the first thing when I walk in the door. It could have waited until I had a chance to settle in."

"Normally I would have tried to push this kind of thing to later on in the day, but there was press around and they caught what they did on video. On top of that, those that were in the waiting room who witnessed the whole thing are starting to speak out. I figured that you would want to nip this in the bud before it gets out of control, There is way too much work to be done to be side tracked with this one thing."

James not only understood where his secretary was coming from, but agreed with her. He asked her to give him a few minutes to settle in before sending them in. She agreed and left the office. Ten minutes after she left, she informed James that she was going to send in the first officer, but James stopped her and asked her instead to send them all in.

Less than a minute later, the door opened, and the four officers walked in with their reps. James got up from his desk and pointed every one over to the conference table in his office. He was the last to sit, and when he did, he looked around the table, but didn't talk. He wanted to measure the situation and see where to go with the conversation.

"Gentlemen you all know why you are here in my office this morning." The four officers and their reps looked James directly in the eyes as they nodded their heads. "I have seen the complaint and seen the video of what you guys did last night. There was no excuse for what you guys did to that family, and I know you four know that."

"Sir with all due respect, you have never worked in this field before. Your experience is dealing with criminals after they have been taken off the streets and convicted. Now you are on the other side of the whole thing, the front line. Whenever an officer goes down, they are treated first when they are taken into ER, not last. That sends a clear message to those that want to take a shot at us that their lives are less than those that keep this community safe.

Not only were our fellow officers left to bleed out on that floor yesterday because a criminal was put ahead of them and sent out in the first ambulance, but they weren't treated with the respect they deserved when they got to the ER. The staff in the ER was not really in a rush or seemed to care who was on the table. They took their own sweet time. On top of that, they kicked us out of the back area. That has never happened in the past."

The other officers nodded their heads in agreement at what one of their fellow officers said. The reps just sat there, not trying to control their clients, which surprised James. He thought they were there to keep their clients quiet so they didn't say anything that might come back and kick them in the ass.

"Gentlemen you are sitting here calling the wrong person a criminal. Those men that you are saying deserve special treatment because they were wearing the blue uniform were actually the criminals. They are worse than criminals and let me tell you why." James got up from his seat and walked over to the wall where a picture frame was hanging with the oath that every officer has to take when they are sworn in and given their badge.

"You are right; I have not worked the front lines like you have all your careers. However, I do know what it means to take an oath and fulfill that oath. Every one of you when your graduated the academy took the oath that is hanging on the wall here." James pointed to the picture frame he was looking at. "Show me where in this oath it says those that are wearing the uniform can take a wanted fugitive and two innocent civilians out to an area and kill them. Where in this oath does it give them or anyone else for that matter who wears the uniform that kind of power over the citizens of this city." James looked back at blank faces.

"The reason you don't have an answer to my question is because there isn't an answer. Nowhere in this oath does it give anyone that power. So what we have here is simple. The officers in question took the oath of office didn't do that. They took the law into their own hands. By doing that, they became worse than the criminals. They were entrusted with the welfare and safety of the citizens. Instead of doing their jobs, they put every person in this city in danger."

James walked back over to the conference table, but he didn't sit back down. "By you four attacking a citizen of this city that wasn't doing anything wrong, you broke that very oath I was pointing to." The officers just stared at their new police chief. They couldn't say anything because what they were being told was right on the money.

"Because you broke your oath by attacking innocent civilians, you can no longer wear that badge." The officer's facial expressions changed from blank to stunned. They thought the worst they were going to get is a slap on the hand, not what is about to happen. "I need you four to place your badges, issued weapons and back up weapons on the table. If the backup weapon is yours, it will be returned to you along with the personal items you have in your lockers at your precinct. When you leave here, do not go back to your precinct and try to get to your lockers. If you do, you will be arrested on the spot."

The officers looked at their reps for help, but they just sat there. "You can appeal this termination. That is within your rights but for now, you are no longer officers in this city. Don't represent yourselves as such, because you will be breaking the law." James walked over to his door and opened it. "I hope whatever happens in your life from this point forward, you take from this at least this one thing. No one is more important than another in this world. Yes, those that wear the blue put their lives on the line every day, but that doesn't make them any more special than the person that bags your groceries."

James said nothing further; he just stood there at his office door staring at the officers that he just fired. They didn't move at first, they just sat there looking at each other as if one of them would be able to come up with something to save their jobs. After a few minutes of just staring, not moving, the one that spoke up reached down to his holster and took his gun out. The others watched as he laid it on the table, and then his badge.

When he got up and lifted his pant leg and pulled out his back up weapon, they knew they had lost. At the same time, they got up, took off their badges, laid them on the table, then their weapons. Once they had done what they were asked, they all walked to the door and out of the office with their heads down. The last to walk out were the reps.

"Chief Falster, the way you are firing your officers, you won't have a police force to protect this city in a week." The rep that was assigned to the one officer that spoke up spoke for the first time. "These guys are human and deserve the benefit of the doubt, not immediate termination like you did here today. I really hope the old saying doesn't come true for you, what goes around, comes around. You don't deserve to be without a job, but neither do these officers. Everyone is trying to do their job under very difficult circumstances."

"I agree right now things are very difficult in this city when it comes to the police force. However, the reason for that is because of the officers on the police force right now. The citizens of this fine city just don't trust those that are wearing the uniform. Because of that, it is going to take a lot of work to regain trust in the police force again and what these four did isn't helping that cause. They broke their oath and the law, leaving me no other choice but to terminate them. If I didn't, I wouldn't be doing my job."

All the rep could do was nod his head in agreement to what James said. That is why he and the other reps didn't say a word. They knew when they were assigned this case, they had no leg to stand on to keep them from getting fired and that is what they told the officers when they first met them. The officers didn't believe them and thought they were going to get away with a slap on the wrist. Now they see and hopefully others will see that things are changing the rep thought to himself as he shook James' hand.

James didn't linger watching the officers and their reps leave. He walked back into his office with his secretary right behind him. They started to go over the daily schedule, but every now and then, James mind would wander off to the faces of the four officers. He felt for them, but he knew he had to do what he did.

While James and his secretary were starting their scheduled day, Lorenzo, Ismail and their two cousins were making their way to the hospital. They wanted to see their brother since they had no idea what was going on. The little that they know they got from the television or from those that got back to the hotel, which wasn't much. So they decided not to go to school but rather to go the hospital.

It was Lorenzo who was the first to mention it, the other boys wanted to go, but were afraid about what their mother and aunt would say when they walked in. Lorenzo was able to talk them into ditching school. In his mind it wasn't ditching. He knew that when the school found out why they weren't there, they would understand. At least that is what he told his younger brother and cousins in order for them to go along with him.

Once he was able to talk Ismail and his cousins into joining him to go and see their brother, instead of them walking into school when they were dropped off, they walked around it and over to the city bus stop! When the first bus stopped, they got on, used their lunch money to pay for the fare. All the way to the hospital, Ismail or one of their cousins needed to be talked to in order to calm them down.

When they got to their stop, Lorenzo got up, rang the bell and pulled his brother up. Their cousins stood up when the bus stopped and followed Alex's brothers out of the bus. As they walked up the street, towards the hospital, they were getting their story straight on what to say to Franseca when she started asking questions. However, they never got a chance to put their plan into action.

As soon as they walked in, their mother saw them and ran over. The minute they saw her face, they started to shake even more than they already were. They were scared and nervous already, but seeing the anger in Franseca's face turned their stomachs upside down. There was no doubt in their minds that they were in a lot of hot water.

"What are you boys doing here?" Franseca whispered in an angry voice, trying not to make a scene. "You are supposed to be in school where you are safe and I don't have to worry a lot about you; not here!" She looked into their faces and saw how scared they were. "Come here!" The boys hesitantly walked over to Franseca. When they reached her, she fell to her knees and wrapped her arms around them.

"I love you boys with all my heart but I don't want anything to happen to you. With you running the streets all on your own, with no adult with you, anything can happen." She broke the hug and looked at Lorenzo. "Whenever your older brother isn't around, it is up to you to make sure Ismail and your cousins are safe, not put them in danger."

"Mom I know and I will never do anything to get them into trouble. We just wanted to be here for Alex, like you and Matt because he is our brother." Lorenzo looked at his mother, holding back tears and she saw that.

"I am sorry for what you boys have had to go through the last couple of days and me not being there had to make things even worse." Franseca got up and walked her over to her chair with the four young boys right behind her. "You must have been going crazy over there in the big hotel all by yourselves after I left. I should have never left you guys all alone for as long as I did. There is no excuse for that."

"Mom we're not asking you to make up an excuse for why you weren't there because we know and understand. All we want is to be here with you and Matt and see our brother." Lorenzo looked around the waiting room, a little confused seeing Matt sitting there, and not with Alex. "Where is Alex mom, where is our brother?"

Franseca wanted to answer her son. She wanted to put his worries at ease, but she couldn't because she didn't have answers herself. They have been on pins and needles ever since they arrived at the hospital. No one has come out to tell them a thing. All they know at this moment is that Alex is in surgery. How good or bad the surgery is going, they don't know.

Earl on the other hand has already been seen by the doctors in the ER and cleared. He wasn't injured anywhere nearly as bad as Alex. He had just few cuts and bruises, mainly around the area where the handcuffs were. That is the only place the ER staff was concerned about because the metal of the handcuffs cut deep into his skin when he was running from the officers, climbing the tree or just trying to get free to get Alex out of there.

Franseca could see the worry in her sons' faces, but she couldn't do a thing to help them. At this moment she is more worried about her oldest son than probably anyone else in the waiting area looking for news about their loved ones. She wouldn't be any good trying to calm down her kids when she isn't calm herself.

Looking over at her youngest, she knew she had to be the mother, the adult. Putting her thoughts about what she was thinking to the back of her mind, she tried to explain to them what was going on. The more she tried, the more she made things worse. Finally after the second time trying to go over the events and reassuring her sons that their older brother was going to be okay, Matt jumped into the conversation. He saw that Lorenzo and the other three young boys didn't understand what their mother was saying.

"I know what your mother is saying is a little confusing and scary, so let me try and clear things up a little." Matt knelt down in front of the little guys. "You know your brother..." He looked over to Alex's cousins. "And you know your cousin. "...is a very strong guy. He has been through a lot so far in his life and each time when people thought he was out for the count, he came back and surprised them. There is no doubt in my mind that he is going to do the same thing here. So there's nothing to worry about."

The door that led to the surgery hall opened, grabbing everyone's attention, but it was just a janitor walking out. Matt turned his attention back to the young boys. "What you guys don't need to be thinking about is how bad Alex is, because he isn't. Instead you guys need to be thinking what kind of party you want to throw him when he gets out of here. After all he is a hero again and this time, like the last time, deserves to at least have a party."

Lorenzo looked at his little brother and cousins with a smile on his face. "So why don't you guys sit down there and pull out your notebooks. Start writing down what you want me to get for you to throw him a party. Once you guys have the list ready, give it to me, but don't tell your brother when we go in and see him because it's supposed to be a surprise."

The young boys nodded their heads as they pulled out their notebooks. Before Matt could make it back to his seat, the boys were already in a circle throwing ideas back and forth. Franseca sat there looking at them for a few seconds and then turned her attention to Matt. She grabbed his hand, held it tight as she whispered several times `thank you'.

Matt didn't want thanks because he loved the little guys as much as Alex and his mother. He was hurting as much as their mother when he saw them confused and hurt on what Franseca was trying to say. So he felt it was his job, in a way, to try and settle them down and get them to stop worrying about something that worrying won't make better.

Both Matt and Franseca were brought out of their thoughts when they saw a man and a lady at the information desk pointing at them. They have never seen them before, so were wondering who they were and what they wanted. Then when they nodded their heads to the nurses at the information desk and started to walk towards them, they began to get worried. They didn't looked threatening, but after what had happened in the last couple of days, they are very watchful and untrusting with everyone that comes up to them.

"I am sorry to bother you at this moment, but we heard that Alex, um..." The guy looked over at the lady for help. She gave Alex's last name. "Yes, Alex Garcia was brought in and you all are his family." Neither Matt nor Franseca said a word or moved, which confused the couple standing before them. They looked back and forth at each other and realized why they were getting the kind of greeting they were getting. They hadn't introduced themselves.

"I am very sorry ma'am, my name is Chad and this young lady standing beside me is my lovely wife Teresa, Tom's parents." When they heard Tom's name, Matt and Franseca breathed a little more easily. "We wanted to meet the young man that helped save our son and thank him for what he did. If he and the other young man Jacob didn't react as quickly as they did, we wouldn't be planning how to help our son to walk again. We would be arranging a funeral; something no parent should have to do."

Chad extended his hand and Matt shook it followed by Franseca. After they shook Chad's hand, they shook Teresa's as well and then just stood there. No one said a word. They just looked at each other, measuring each other up. Not because they thought they were danger from one another. They were doing it because they wanted to make sure they didn't say something they might regret or can't take back.

"As I was saying, we heard that Alex was brought in for a checkup and wanted to see him. Is there any chance we can before we head back up to our son?" Chad could tell that he said something wrong by the looks on Matt and Franseca's faces. "If he needs his rest, we can come back another time, just tell us when."

"I'm sorry sir, we're happy that you came down to thank Alex for what he did, and I'm sure Alex would be thankful as well. It's just what you heard about Alex coming in for a checkup was the wrong information. He's in surgery right now and we're waiting to see what is going on with him. If you want, you can come back and talk with him after he gets out of surgery. I'm sure he would love meeting you guys as much as Franseca and I did."

Chad looked over at his wife, feeling like crap. He had no idea that the young man that helped save his boys life was somehow hurt to the point he needed surgery. He and his wife have been sitting at their son's bedside since they got to the hospital. This was the first time they left the floor and had contact with other people except the hospital staff.

"We had no idea that Alex was hurt! Please forgive us for sounding like we don't care about anyone except ourselves." Matt looked at Chad with a confused look on his face. He never thought of them that way. "Please let us know when your son is out and in his room. We'll make a trip down to see him." Matt asked Lorenzo for a piece of paper so he could write down the information Chad was giving him.

Once he got Tom's room number and how to call it, he folded the paper up and put it in his pocket. He then explained to Chad and Teresa what Alex was in the hospital for, which seemed like the hundredth time to him in the last day. As he went through the accounts of what happened, Tom's parents couldn't believe what they were hearing. They heard about their police chief. Everyone that is alive in Texas has heard about their dirty police chief, but they had no idea that the entire police force was so corrupt.

"Please call up to Tom's room once Alex is out of surgery. We want to pay our respects and thank him for what he did." Teresa looked away, trying to hide her tears. "He might not have been here if he didn't do what he did for our son. Because he was, he got hurt, just like Jacob, something we never wanted for anyone that did a good deed."

Franseca walked up to Teresa and pulled her to the side. They walked to the restroom, and when they returned, they were talking as if they were old friends. Matt and Chad just stared at them wondering what they did in the restroom to come out talking like they were. While they were gone, Matt and Chad did talk to each other, but it was small talk. It wasn't anything that was going to bond them for life.

"Okay ladies you need to let us in to what you spoke about in there." Chad smiled as he pointed to the women's restroom. "Not really, I am just glad to see you smiling Teresa." He leaned in and kissed his wife on the forehead before turning his attention back to Matt. "You guys make sure to call us when Alex is out of surgery. We want to visit him to make sure he is okay and to thank him for everything. Plus I know my son would want us to deliver him some kind of message as well." Chad chuckled as he extended his hand.

After promising that they were going to call Tom's parents once they had news about Alex, Matt and Franseca sat down as Chad and Teresa walked to the elevator. Once they disappeared onto the elevator and the door closed. Both of them got lost in their thoughts again. They were left alone to think the worst, and that is what they were thinking when Matt saw his cousin running in.

He couldn't believe what he was seeing. Noah looked scared and worried as he ran to the information desk. To make matters worse for him, the nurses were busy on the phone or checking in a patient, so Noah had to wait his turn. Matt knew he was there for him, so he got up and walked over to see how he knew he was here at the hospital.

Just as he walked up, his cousin turned around. With a sigh of relief, Noah went running up to Matt and pulled him into hug, patting him on the back. "Don't you ever scare the shit out of me like that again! When I heard you were here in the hospital, all I could think about is that some son of a bitch gay hater got ahold of you and tried to hurt you."

Noah broke the hug and looked Matt up and down. He couldn't figure out why his cousin was in the hospital. He didn't look hurt at all. When he looked Matt over in the front, he turned him around and looked to see if he was hurt in the back, but again he didn't see a thing. More confused than he was when he walked in, he turned his cousin back around to look him in the face. They just stood there for a few seconds in silence before Noah spoke again.

"I am confused here, I thought you were rushed in because you were hurt, but by the looks of it, you're doing just fine. What gives?" Noah looked at his cousin with a confused look, which got worse by the minute because Matt wasn't saying a word. He just stood there with a blank look on his face, staring off into the distance. Noah knew something was up and he didn't want to get into it right there in front of the information desk.

He led Matt outside and over to the side of the building where they had privacy. Still Matt didn't say a word as he just stood there staring at his cousin. He hadn't got any sleep since Friday night, or what you would call quality sleep. On top of that, there is the worry he and Franseca have been going through from the hostage situation and now the wait and see how Alex will come out of surgery. He believed what he told Lorenzo and the others, but he also knew things could get a lot worse before they get better. The last couple of days are proof of that to anyone that would think that isn't possible.

"Matt, come on man you're scaring me. Tell me what is going on." Noah started to shake his cousin, trying to knock him out of his trance. "Come on man, snap out of it and tell me what is going on so I can try and help you. I know a little about what happened, but I don't know it all. You have to fill me in on exactly what is going on."

As quickly as Matt fell into the trance, he snapped out of it. He looked around and didn't know right away where he was. The last thing he remembered was going up to Noah, after that, it was a blank. Once he figured out that he was outside the hospital, he started to get worried. He didn't want to leave the ER waiting room for a second just in case Alex came out of surgery. However somehow here he is, outside, far enough away that he wouldn't know what was going on inside until it was too late.

He turned to walk back in when his cousin stopped him. "What in the hell is wrong with you man? First you come up to me and look like you're losing it. Then you look like you know what you are doing, but still won't talk to me. I want to help, but the only way I can do that is by knowing what is going on here."

Matt really didn't want to explain what happened again, but he didn't want to keep his cousin in the dark, not when he can lean on him if needed. So, again, for the second time in less than thirty minutes he went through the accounts of the last forty eight hours. Just like Tom's parents, Noah stood there stunned by what he was hearing. If it wasn't that he stopped by the hotel and heard some of the story from Jacob and Dewayne, he would have been looking for cameras thinking it was a prank being pulled on him.

"Look man I don't really know what to say about what you guys went through except you shouldn't have gone through it. Since you have, that's not even worth discussing. I just wish you would have called me when all this mess started with Alex. I love you Matt and I love Alex because he makes you happier than I have ever seen you." Noah finally saw a half smile on his cousin's face. He felt he was getting somewhere with him finally.

"Let's go on back in and sit there with the rest of Alex's family." Noah pulled Matt over to him as he started walking back towards the entrance to the ER. "I know when the doctors come out that they will have nothing but good news. Alex is strong by what you have told me and what I've seen the couple of times I visited."

"Talking about visiting, you haven't come around for a while." Matt jabbed his cousin in his side playfully. "I started to think my parents or yours got to you like they did in the past and somehow got you to stop talking to me." Matt stopped and looked his cousin in the eyes. "You're the only family I have now, besides Alex and his family. I don't want to lose the one and only family member out there on my side that is willing to talk to me."

Noah chuckled, confusing Matt. "You are going to be surprised when I tell you what I found out when I went home last week for a family dinner." That grabbed Matt's attention. He was waiting for Noah to tell him that his parents were bad mouthing him and now Noah is no longer part of the family like him since he disobeyed them by talking to the gay son slash cousin.

"Your parents were there and like always somehow the conversation came around to you. But this time, the family wasn't supporting your parents like they have in the past. Grandpa and Grandma were the first that shot back at them by telling them the way they handled everything was just wrong. Your parents didn't like that at all.

They fought back, and that is when the others jumped in like my mom and dad. I just sat there watching the fireworks at the table wondering what they would have thought if they knew I started talking to you again. No matter how much I wanted to tell them, I didn't. I kept my mouth shut and watched as my parents and the rest of the family got on to your parents for abandoning you the way they did."

Matt asked his cousin to go into more detail on what was said that night. He wanted to hear everything because it was the first time anyone in his family actually stood up for him. Ever since he came out, he thought his entire family was gay haters. Now he is hearing that not only was he wrong, but there might actually be family that have no problems with gays.

"Where do I even begin?" Noah laughed as he patted Matt on the shoulder. "Your parents started off the same way, you know, their son is dead to them because of the lifestyle he chose to live. Then they went on as they always do how all you're going to get in life is bad luck and once you die, you're going to hell. When they started to go on a rampage that is when grandpa actually stepped in and shut them up.

He surprised everyone at the table when he told your parents that they were the ones going to hell when they die by throwing their son into the streets like they did. No parent should ever do that to their kid no matter what the reason. He went on telling them how much he missed you and if you would ever come knocking on the door to see them, you would be welcome in their home with open arms." That put tears in Matt's eyes.

"Let me tell you, that didn't make you parents happy at all. They tried to fight back by telling grandpa that if they did let you in, they would never step foot back in their house. When your mother said that, grandpa stood up and started in on her saying that he never brought her up this way. He never brought her up to run away when things didn't go her way or give up on someone because the person isn't what she envisioned that person to be.

Before your mother was able to come back, my parents jumped in and told her that they were wrong on how they were with you and wished they could fix it now. That stunned your folks, but not as much as when they followed that up by telling them that they also would welcome you with open arms if you ever come knocking. Once they said that, the rest of the family agreed and said they would do the same thing.

When everyone agreed with grandpa, your parents had no footing. They knew they lost the fight and just sat there in silence. To their discomfort, the rest of dinner all that was talked about is how they would go about finding you. By the time everyone got up from the table, they were determined to do whatever it takes to reach out and start over with you again."

Tears started to roll down Matt's cheeks, he couldn't hold them back anymore. He never thought he'd see the day that his family would actually want to talk with him. According to his parents, the entire family agreed about not wanting anything to do with him and he believed it. Whenever the family was at the house, he was forced to stay upstairs. None of them came up to see him. Then when he got in trouble with the law, no one from his family reached out and tried to help him through it.

"I don't want you thinking that I told them where you are, because I didn't. They thought you were still over in the kid jail. So the next day they everyone except your parents they met back at our grandparents house and called the detention facility to talk with you. I went along to see if it was just talk the night before, or if they really meant what they said. And let me tell you, they meant every word they said the night before by doing what they said they were going to do.

When they found out that you were released, they were stunned and happy at the same time. Grandpa kept saying over and over again how his grandson was a good kid and the proof was you getting out a lot earlier than you were supposed to. Then when they were unable to get any more information out of whomever they were talking to, grandpa got a little down.

But he didn't stay down for long. They started making plans to find out where you went. They were able to get out of the detention facility that you were put on that thing around your ankle; they knew you were still in town. All they had to find out is which of your old friends took you in. That is when they turned to me for help.

They wanted me to call and talk with all of our old friends and find out which of them you moved in with. I told them I would, but of course I haven't called any of them since I know exactly where you are." The two boys stopped a couple of rows before the one Franseca, Lorenzo and the rest of the family were sitting. "I need you to tell me where you want me to go from here. Do you want me to tell them that I called all our old friends and they have no idea where you are? Or do you want me to tell them something else?"

Matt looked over at Franseca and felt bad for her. He knew this wasn't the time to be happy with any good news with Alex, the love of his life, still in surgery. However he couldn't help feeling a little happy. Never in his wildest dreams did he think the day would come that he would hear that his family wasn't what he thought they were. They were actually good, caring loving people, happy to accept the person he is...well, excepting his parents.

Although he feels bad for feeling a little good, he wanted to see his grandparents again since they are getting old and he has already lost one set of them. When his other grandparents passed away, it hit him really bad. He knows that he doesn't want to lose any more time to spend with his only living grandparents. Things will never be like they were when he was a little kid with them, but he's okay with that. All he wants is a chance to have his own family there for the rough times like he is going through right now.

Before he was able to answer, the double doors to the surgical wing opened, but this time it was Drs. Whitmore and Mitchell. Matt quickly walked over to Franseca, with Noah right behind him. She stood up, followed by Lorenzo, Ismail and their cousins, who walked behind Matt and Franseca. They were hoping for good news, but were prepared for bad news if it came.

They stood there frozen, watching the doctors walking to them in slow motion. What were only seconds, seemed like hours to them. When Dr. Whitmore and Mitchel got to them, so many thoughts flew through Franseca and Matt's minds. It was like everything they ever did with Alex, flashed before them, and they wanted to hide in those memories.

"Please take a seat," Dr. Whitmore guided Franseca back to her seat and waited until she sat down. Her two boys walked around the seat and stood behind her with their hands on her shoulder protecting her. "I'm sorry that I wasn't to come out until now to tell you what is going on with Alex. It just that we wanted to complete the surgery so we didn't have to put Alex through another one."

Dr. Whitmore looked at each of the family members faces and saw the same look in each of them. They didn't want to hear what he was saying. No, the looks on their faces was telling him that they wanted to know how Alex was.

"Your son came out of the surgery with flying colors. Things looked a lot worse than they really were. Once we were able to get through all the dry and wet blood, we were able to see what we were going to be working on, which again was far less than what we thought when we first took Alex into surgery.

His legs were broken due to falling out of the tree, or should we say having been pulled out of the tree. The breaks looked bad because the bones broke through the skin and all the blood around the wound. However, the biggest problem wasn't the bones that were out; it was the bleeding, which was so severe because the bone actually went through some veins. Lucky for Alex, the bones didn't completely rip the veins. If that would have happened, he would have bled out on the floor and would never have made it to the hospital."

Dr. Whitmore saw he was scaring Alex's family, not putting them at ease. "I'm sorry; I'm not saying all this to scare you. I'm telling you how lucky Alex was. Dr. Michael and I were able to go in and sew the veins back together, and then reset the bones. Both legs have casts on them, but knowing Alex the way I do, he should be out of those casts by the time baseball season comes around." That put a smile on everyone's faces.

"I know he loves playing sports and as long as he stays off the legs and does what we ask him to do, the casts will be removed in about a month. Then he can return to doing what he loves, playing baseball, basketball and chasing you, young man, all over the house." Everyone started to laugh when Dr. Whitmore pointed to Matt.

"He is in recovery right now and will be moved up to his own room in the next ten to fifteen minutes. If nothing bad happens overnight, he will be released tomorrow with strict rules to follow. If he doesn't follow the rules, he will be back in here again. I don't want to see that happen, so please make sure he follows all the rules we set out for him and that he takes his meds."

Everyone nodded their heads or answered `yes' at the same time. Once they all got over the initial surprise that Alex was okay, they took turns asking all sorts of questions. By the time they all had their chance to ask a question, any and all questions that anyone could think of were thought of and asked. Neither Dr. Whitmore nor Mitchell left Alex's family until they were all done with their questions. When they did, Alex was already being moved to his room. That is what made everyone leave the doctors alone and to go and be with Alex.

Meantime, Federico Guerrero walked through the doors of the prison with his captain of the guards, Christian Parsons. The minute Falster informed his bosses that he was quitting, they called Warden Guerrero and ordered him to take over Falster's prison immediately. When he was told that there was no captain of the guards, he immediately went to the guy he trusted, his captain of the guards and asked him to be at his side while they took over the new prison.

They heard what happened to the last warden and promised each other that won't happen to them. Before walking in the doors of the prison they were going to run, they laid out a plan on how things were going to be done. The only problem with their plan was that they had no idea of the changes that Falster put in place in his short time running the prison. If they knew that, they would have put together a different plan.

The very first thing they planned was a meeting with the guards. After they talked with them and let them know how things were going to be run from this point on, they asked to speak with the sergeants and officers in the conference room. They were confident going into this meeting, but it didn't take long for them to be knocked off of their feet.

"There is no need to take up any more time going over the same thing I just said out there with the entire staff, except to clarify one thing. I mean what I said. If any employee of this prison is caught on the take, it doesn't matter who they are, they will be fired on the spot and arrested at the same time. Those that are employed here can't be like the prisoners they are guarding, breaking the law."

Warden Guerrero looked around the room and waved everyone to take their seats. "With that said, let me now get down to why I asked you here. You are the ones that need to be setting the example out there for the other guards. If they see you breaking the rules, or on the take, they will see no problem in doing the same thing, so don't do it. I know the former warden tried to clean this place up, but by the looks of it made it worse."

The warden opened one of the folders he was carrying. "I understand this prison has a lot of prisoners that are gang affiliated. That is your major problem by looks of it. Is this list the updated list of all those that are in a gang?" The warden held up the folder with paper after sheet of papers falling out of it onto the table. "I want you guys to round them all up and put them in the cafeteria so Captain Parsons and I can make it clear to them the way things were run won't be run like that anymore."

Everyone just sat there. They thought the new warden was pulling their leg by asking them to gather all the gang members on his list and take them to the cafeteria. Then when he asked a second time and the look on his face told them that he had no idea that the gang members were moved out of population and into their own wings, away from the other prisoners.

"Sir, Warden Falster made a few good changes while he was warden here. One of the changes was the removal of all gang members from population. He had them put into their own wings so they wouldn't be making trouble for the other prisoners. Since he did that, the violence here has decreased substantially. It has pretty much disappeared."

Warden Guerrero looked at Parsons a little confused by what he just heard. Trying to keep face, he didn't let on that he didn't know about the change, but it was too late. By him asking his staff to gather up all the gang members told them he wasn't as prepared as he presented himself as, which didn't hold good for him. Some of them lost a little of the respect they had for the man.

"I didn't ask about the level of violence here. No, I asked to speak with all the gang members on this list and any that might not be on the list. If they are in their own wings, it will be a lot easier for you to gather them up, so get out there and get them out of their racks and over to the cafeteria. I want them sitting down, quiet in twenty minutes. If you can't get that done, don't bother to stay at work. Just pick up your paychecks."

The warden got up from his seat and walked to his office with Parsons right behind him. The other guards got up and headed to the wings where the gang members were locked up. Along the way they talked about how it is looking to be with their new warden. The one thing they all agreed on is that they don't like the guy.

While the guards were doing what they were asked to do, Warden Guerrero and Captain Parsons were in the warden's office unhappy with how the meeting unfolded. They thought they knew everything about the prison and how it was being run. Now finding out they didn't know about one huge change, they felt like fools. On top of that, they knew they looked like fools in front of the officers and sergeants; something they didn't want to happen.

"Damn it, how in the hell did we miss this?" Warden Guerrero yelled as he threw the folders on his desk. "I thought we knew the ins and outs of how things were being done here. How did we miss the change Captain Falster made with the gang members?" Parsons just shrugged his shoulders because he knew better not to try and answer Federico when he is mad.

"I don't know about keeping the gang members separate from the rest of the prison population. I would think it would be harder to guard them all in one place than having them in population, but separate from each other?" Parsons spoke in a concerned voice. "They can be more organized being together the way they are, and that is something we don't want. Correct, sir?"

"I agree with you on that. Having them all in one wing, together, is a recipe for failure. You know I don't fail on what I do. However, if Falster made the change that means he got the approval for the governor's office to do that since he was appointed by the Governor himself. I don't know if I want to take on the Governor at this point."

"Trust me I don't want to take on the Governor either, but he has no say on how you run your prison. If the shit hits the fan, he isn't going to take the hit. No sir, it is going to be you, and I know having them all locked up in one place, something bad will happen. We need to put them back into population with the other prisoners but do it the way we did at our last prison. It worked there and there is no reason why it won't work here."

The warden sat back in his seat to think about where he stands and which road he is going to take at this junction. If he keeps things the way they are, there is no doubt in his mind things will get bad. However, if he goes back and uses what has worked for him in the past, he is certain things won't go wrong. At least nothing to the degree that could go wrong if he leaves things the way they are right now.

"Okay, let's get them moved back into the population and set it up like we had it at the last prison. Since they are all locked up right now away from the rest of the population, take your time and get it right. I don't want this decision to blow up in my face. You know what the board of wardens told me to get done here and I am going to deliver on that."

Before going to the cafeteria, the warden and his captain of the guards went over how they plan to integrate the gang members back into the regular population of the prison. By the time they had their plan in place, they saw it was going to be a lot of work. However when it was all said and done, they knew it would work and be worth every man hour they put into it.

Back in El Paso, Alex was waking up from surgery. Little by little things were coming into focus. The first one he saw was his mother, who was sitting in the chair to the right of the bed, asleep. Next to her were his brothers and cousins. Not seeing Matt right away, got Alex worried. He started to scan the room. When he looked to his left, he saw Matt looking right at him with a big smile on his face.

Neither of them said a word, they just stared at each other. All Matt wanted to do was to wrap his arms around Alex and hug him, but he held back because he didn't want to hurt him. What Matt didn't know was that Alex was thinking the same thing, and he was not about to hold back. He reached out, and with the little strength he had, he wrapped his arms around Matt and pulled him into him. When their bodies touched, they both started to shake.

"I know you are "Mr. Don't Fuck With Me", but I don't want you to ever put me through what I went through these last couple of days." Matt whispered in Alex's ear as he kept brushing his hand through Alex's hair. "You know I can't be without you for a single minute. I just can't, so don't you ever leave me. Don't you ever do anything that will take you from me. Promise me that! Promise me that you won't do anything that will take you away?"

Alex placed his hands on the side of Matt's head and pulled it up. He saw his handsome boyfriend looking down at him with tears rolling out of his eyes in a steady stream. With his thumbs, he gently placed them at the edge of Matt's eyes and started to brush away the tears.

"I love you Matt and I will never do anything that will bring you to tears like you are now. I promise never to do anything to make that happen again." Alex kissed Matt on the forehead. "You are my dream come true. I never thought I would fall so madly in love with anyone as much as I have fallen in love with you. I love you Matt and I will do anything to keep you happy."

Matt didn't say anything. He just looked down at his boyfriend and thanked the man above for keeping him safe and bringing him back to him. They were brought out of their own little world when Alex's little brothers jumped on the bed. Matt didn't want them to see him crying, because he didn't want the little ones to worry.

So he got off the bed and walked over to the bathroom to splash some water on his face to get rid of the signs that he'd been crying. Once he felt that no one could tell, he walked back into the room to find all four of the young boys on the bed talking at once with Franseca on the right hand side talking as well. He looked over at Alex and saw that somehow he was able to keep up with all five conversations. How he was able to do that, Matt couldn't figure out.

Just as Matt was heading over to the bed, there was a knock on the door. He turned and looked at the door and then back at everyone in the room to see if there was someone missing. The only one he didn't see there was his cousin. So he thought it was him since he left earlier to get everyone something to eat at the Taco Bell across the street.

Matt turned and walked over to the door to let his cousin in, but when he opened the door he got a surprise. It wasn't Noah on the other side of the door with their food; it was Principal Michaels standing there. Stunned to see his high school principal outside of the school, Matt didn't react immediately. It took him a minute or so to recover, but he did.

He invited Michaels in with a smile and escorted him over to Alex. Alex was still involved in the conversations he was having with his family, he didn't see Michaels at first. It took Matt to call his attention over to him for Alex to see he had another guest in the room besides his family. Just like Matt, Alex was surprised to see Michaels there.

"I just stop by to see how you were doing." Principal Michaels broke the silence. He walked over to Franseca and introduced himself and then to Alex's brothers. "I was at home this weekend watching television when it was interrupted with breaking news, I couldn't believe what I was seeing unfolding there before my very eyes.

My sister thought I was going crazy at first when she saw me yelling at the police on the television. I couldn't believe that they were just standing there, doing nothing, while kids from my high school were risking their lives to save the lives of their friends. I can't put it into words then or now how proud I was to see that happening.

When I saw you guys drive away, all alive, I settled back and thanked the man above that you guys got out of that okay. Then I woke up on Sunday to find out about you and your head of security being taken hostage by the police." Principal Michaels sat down on the bed. "Man when it rains, it pours." At first, only Michaels laughed, but after a few seconds, everyone joined in. Some understood the joke, and some just laughed to be polite.

Calming down, Principal Michaels patted lightly on one of Alex's cast. "I have been working with the school board and the mayor to get you an award for what you did that day at the school to bring to an end of the shooting rampage. As I told you that day, I have been telling the mayor and anyone else that would listen that it was because of you that no one else died that day. You should be awarded for putting your life on the line to save everyone else."

"Principal Michaels, no one would have been in danger if I wasn't for me. Ashton walked into our school with only one thing on his mind and that was to get me. He wasn't going to let anyone stand in his way getting what he wanted. There was no other option for me but to do what I did, or Ashton wouldn't have stopped, or at least until he was gunned down."

"I wish they had gunned that kid down. At least if that happened, everything that followed once he was arrested wouldn't have happened." Principal Michaels looked at Franseca. "I don't know if Alex told you what I told him that day after they got that kid into custody." Franseca looked at her son and then back at Michaels with a confused look on her face.

"By the look on your face, he might not have. I told Alex that he needed to hire an attorney and sue the police department and the city for putting his life into danger. Screw it, even the school district since it happened on school property. No student, no matter what the circumstances should be put in danger as Alex was that day. Yes, they put a bullet proof vest on him that only protected his chest but not his head. I don't even want to think about what would have happened if that kid took a shot at Alex's head."

Franseca looked down at her son with an angry look. She knew that Alex helped out, but she had no idea he actually was in a life threatening position, at least not the way her son told the story. Unable to stay angry with her son, Franseca turned her attention back to the Principal and promised him that she will look into suing those he listed.

"Good, please don't let much more time go on this. The longer you wait, the less chances the courts will take the case." Principal Michaels looked at Alex. "You have completely surprised me young man. The day I found out I was going to have you attending my school; I thought I was going to expel you within a month. That didn't that happen and you have become one of my favorite and most promising students.

I'm very proud of you young man. Not only have you proven all the naysayers wrong, but you are now the only one on the top of your graduating class. That is a feat that many people wouldn't believe was possible for a young man like you, but again you proved them wrong."

Principal Michaels got up from the bed and walked over to the head of the bed so he could make direct eye contact with Alex. "Put aside all the things you have done in the last month, you made this principal a very proud one with the things you have accomplished at school. You then added to that with your selfless acts these last couple of weeks. I will do everything in my power to make sure that you are recognized for what you have done. If I can't get through the mayor, I will try and get to the Governor. But one way or another, you will be recognized for all your selfless acts, without regard for your own life."

Alex was lost for words. All he could do is shake the Principal's hand when Principal Michaels offered it to him. When they broke their handshake, Michaels turned and shook Alex's little brothers and cousin's hands before leaning in and kissing Franseca on the forehead. She brought out feelings that he hadn't felt since he lost his wife several years ago.

"Ma'am you did a great job with this young man. I can't wait until I have the younger ones in my school to see what they are going to do. It wouldn't surprise me if they are as smart as their older brother and as good at sports as he is." Michaels looked at the young boys, winked at them and then turned his attention back to Franseca. "Is it possible I can speak with you for a moment in the hallway before I go?"

Franseca nodded her head. Together they walked out, with the boys looking on, wondering why Michaels needed to speak with her in private. When they walked out, Noah walked in with the food everyone was waiting for. The younger boys quickly ran up to Noah and took the bags, while he made his way to Alex to say hello.

Out in the hall, Michaels and Franseca made their way to the waiting area. "I know I am out of place for asking this, but I am going to ask it anyways. So please don't be offended." Michaels talked in a low voice that only Franseca could hear. "I lost my wife a couple years ago and I thought my life was over. We had two kids, but they live with my parents because they blame me for their mother's death." Franseca looked confused by the last part, and Michaels saw the confusion in her face.

"I worked long hours at school, wanting the next promotion, so I was never home. One night our kids were out with their friends playing when a guy walked into the house thinking no one was home. When he ran into my wife in the kitchen cooking supper, he was surprised. He shot her in the back and then ran out of the house, leaving everything he was going to steal.

My wife didn't even know he was there. The coward shot my defenseless wife as she was cooking her kids and husband dinner. When the kids got home, they found their mother slumped over on the stove, with half of her face burned. No kid should ever see that." Michaels was barely able to hold it together as he went over what happened that day.

"I was about to walk out of my office when the phone rang. At first, I wasn't going to even answer it, but something told me I should. I slowly walked over to the phone with a weird feeling in my gut. Then when I picked it up and heard my oldest crying and yelling for me to come home, I knew my worst nightmare was coming true.

I quickly hung up the phone and raced home as fast as I could. When I drove up, the police and ambulance were already there. They weren't going to let me through, even after I showed them proof I lived in the house. It took my kids yelling out for me for the officers that were standing guard at the yellow tape to let me go in.

When I got to my kids, I consoled them, but at the same time I wanted to know what happened. I yelled out for my wife, but didn't get any answer. I yelled out again, but the more and more I yelled for her, my kids screamed and yelled. Seeing their reaction to her name, I knew whatever happened in my house that night had something to do with my wife.

It took awhile, but I got my kids up to their rooms and into their beds. Once they were asleep, I went back down to see them take my wife out in a body bag. I couldn't believe it. When I saw her lifeless body roll by me, I wanted to join her. The only thing that kept me from doing that, were our kids. Then when I lost them, I gave up.

It took my family and my closest friends to get me through those dark days. When I came out the other end, I made a promise to myself to always help others whenever I can. I also swore I will do what I took to get my kids back. Now the last promise has been difficult, but the first, I have been able to accomplish a few times.

My proudest accomplishment is giving your son the benefit of the doubt. When I met him for the first time, I saw in him a kid that has never been given a chance. I swore that day I will do what I can to help him succeed, which it didn't take much on my part. Everything he has, he has worked for and achieved on his own. I am just honored to see Alex accomplish what he has set out to achieve in the short period of time he has been in my school."

Wiping his eyes, trying to make sure no tears came running down his cheeks, Michaels continued. "This isn't the reason I asked to speak with you in private. Now after the story I just told, I don't think it will be right to ask you what I wanted to ask you." Franseca smiled at Michaels and persuaded him to ask what he wanted to ask.

"There is something about you I can't put my finger on. When I walked into the room and saw you this afternoon, I felt something I never thought I would feel again. I tried to push it to the back of my mind, but I just can't. I was wondering when things settle down with Alex, if you would do me the honor to have dinner with me. I know this sounds weird, and it is okay if you say no, I just needed to ask you."

"I would be honored to have dinner with you when things settle down with Alex." Franseca gently took Michaels's hand. "Let me get Alex home and back on his feet. When you see him back at school, call me and we will have dinner okay?" Michaels agreed with a big smile.

Franseca gave Michaels the number to her room at the hotel before they walked together to the elevator. They talked while they waited, but once the door opened, they said their goodbyes albeit reluctantly. Franseca didn't head back to her son until the elevator doors closed. Even then, she stood there for a moment. She thought, just like Michaels, no other person would ever find interest in her again, but now she sees how wrong she might have been.



{Welcome back one and all to another filled chapter of "Beneath the Mask". So many old plots came back in this chapter, and some new plots opened up. There were a few cliffhangers throughout the story as I'm sure you noted. You guys already know the only way you will find out the conclusion to those cliffhangers is by coming back to the next chapter in this saga.

Let's get to the summation of this chapter. We got to learn a little more about Falster's family, from his wife to his kids. Many of you thought Falster's kids were grown up, but now you see otherwise. They are high school students. I wonder with them being high school students, where they are going to attend high school. If they end up at El Paso High School, which of the groups are they going to befriend, if any of them? That is one of the new plots opened in this chapter that you are going to have to tune in to see develop.

I liked the way Falster dealt with the officers that caused problems at the hospital the night before. He needs to be tough or he will never get control of the police department that is way out of control right now. I really hope it isn't going to take him firing most of the police in order to clean up the place, but who knows. I don't right now. So we all have to wait and see.

Alex's brothers seem to love to ditch school a lot. I know this time was for a real reason, but it is becoming a thing for them to ditch. I truly hope when Alex is well enough, he sits down and tells them that they need to stop going down that road. He doesn't want them to get anywhere near his old life. If they keep doing what they are doing, they might fall in with the wrong crowd. Maybe not the gang Alex was in, but still the wrong crowd.

Those that read the last chapter of "Jacob Finding His Way" knew that Noah was going to appear in this chapter. What you didn't know was the news he came with. It looks like Matt's family might be coming into the story. Everyone in the family has had second thoughts on how they dealt with Matt and want to fix their relationship with him. Only time will tell on what is going to happen there.

What the hell is going on with the new warden? If he does what he plans to do, he is going to lose control of his prison really fast. That is why Falster did what he did. Falster knew that the only way to keep control of the prison is by taking the gang members out of population and isolating them. However, the new warden believes differently. Let's see in the chapters to come which of the wardens is right, and which of them was wrong. I hope it is Falster, and no one gets hurt at the prison in order for the new warden to see that.

Alex is doing well, thanks to the man above. He came through surgery in flying colors, which is very good. Now all there is left is for him to recover completely. I hope he listens to Drs. Whitmore and Mitchell so we can see his cute butt in the baseball uniform come baseball season. If you haven't seen how cute Alex and Matt look in their uniforms, go on over to that photo album and take a look at the pictures there because when you see the pictures, you will see how hot they look! LOL!

Finally the ending of the chapter was a surprise, wasn't it? Not only Michaels visiting one of his students at the hospital, telling them to sue everyone including his school and then the end, asking Franseca out. We learned a little about the guy's private life. It brought tears to my eyes as I wrote it, and I hope you felt the same emotions. I really hope these two get together. However, if they do, what do you think the boys' reactions might be?

There are a lot of open plots still dangling out there in the air that will come back and as well a whole lot of new ones. So please stick around as I have said and keep on reading. I hope that you all enjoyed what you have read and will keep coming back week after week to this saga and the other three I write.

I don't want to say too much more and spoil the future chapters to come, so I won't. I warn you though! Don't skip a chapter, or you will be lost. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacob@jacobmillertex.com, Thanks!}


I'm going to start at the end because Principal Michael's asking Franseca for a date. Wow that came out of the blue. Jacob kept asking me if I'd read the end of the chapter yet, not letting anything slip. After reading the end I know why he kept asking.

Chief Falster is running himself ragged working all hours, not getting much sleep and worrying about his wife and kids. I don't think he needs to worry too much in that direction because we discovered in this chapter that he has two sensible kids who attend high school and a wife who will go to the ends of the earth and back for her husband.

I felt that he had no option but to fire those four officers who created a scene at the hospital if only to show the public he means business. Right now Chief Falster looks to be out there on his own but if you read the last chapter of "Rebirth", which is about six days ahead of "Beneath the Mask" you will know that he has recruited two fine young men as his assistants. Having a hard working dedicated secretary on your side will also be a big help.

I can see the prison going back to what it was in the past and maybe some trouble brewing. The gangs will be jumping for joy when they find out they are going back into general population.

Finally it was good to see Alex come out of surgery in a not too bad a shape. I must admit every now and then I go in to take a look at the guys in those baseball outfits. They are HOT.

Matt also came to the front a bit more in this chapter with some great and surprising news from Noah. I hope Matt is eventually re-united with his family and has the opportunity to introduce Alex to them.

Jacob mentioned he had tears when writing the end of this chapter and I agree with him my eyes also got misty as well.

Don't forget to let us all know how we're going.





Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when Principal Michaels revealed his feelings for Franseca! I love the idea of this potential romance and the wonderful plot lines that can evolve from it. Now, JPG has his hands full. Here we have two very Alpha personalities. Both of these people are strong personalities and are accustomed to managing things in their respective realms. Can these two partner up and not step on each other's toes in the day to day happenings of life? I suspect we shall see.

I'm glad that Alex's surgery went well and the prognosis is totally positive. Drs. Whitmore and Mitchell have once again totally patched up a member of the extended Jacob family.

Chief Falster isn't going to have any relief from job pressures anytime in the reasonably foreseeable future. He did the exact right thing terminating the four officers. The message has to be loud and crystal clear to those on the force and to the community at large. He has to prove without any room for doubt that he is going to restore the credibility of the police department. That means that he can't give any member of the force the benefit of the doubt or give second chances; not this early on.

I'm glad he has his secretary Arlene at his side. She has the experience of the inner workings of the department and will be able to advise the Chief to avoid problems as situations are encountered.

I'm intrigued to learn more about Falster's wife and offspring. I hope that James locates his family home in El Paso in a place where his sons can attend El Paso High. If they are of the character they seem to be, they will fit right in with the groups of good kids at the school they should happen to ally with.

The prison plot; all I can say on that is I am sure things are going to get very messy. If I were the new warden, I'd have walked in more quietly to see how things operate. I'd be sure not to be trying to fix what isn't broken!

Noah delivered some totally unexpected news to Matt; that his family members, all but his parents it seems, have reevaluated their feelings toward him. His parents are seemingly holding their stance. They still see his sexuality as a choice. I would love to be the one to grill them on the issue. I'd be the cat and they, the mice. I have had encounters on behalf of others and have had some remarkable successes, although my track record is not 100%.

I hope that Matt will allow his family to get in contact, yet be careful to protect himself should all not be what it seems on the surface. I hope that he will NOT get in touch with his parents. They need to come to their senses on their own and make amends. It should not be Matt's responsibility whatsoever.

Speaking of Noah...I'd like to know a lot more about him. How about you?

Until Next Time,

"Daddy" Rick