The Ten of Them: Chapter 19

Post time2-02-2021, 17:00

In our last chapter, JJ did help Ron and Reese to become multimillionaires, they just needed to complete the sale. Misty and Marshall are going to take over the classes with Kathryn helping, on the day JJ return to school as an assistant teacher. He did this to continue giving the self-defense classes. JJ felt compelled to continue the self-defense classes after hearing the stories Ms. Clark told him. Also JJ helps his father-in-law coach the football team. The universe seems set against him retiring.

My first day at school probably was more nerve-racking for me than any other day I had in school. Today my students’ success depends on me; beforehand all I had to worry about was me. The self-defense classes were the one exception to that. I didn’t grade the students before. Now everything depended on me, they say assistant teacher, but when I looked around I was the only teacher for each class I had.

We started each class for the physical education course with a BMI or body mass index. It is to give each student an idea of how fit they were. I began explaining to them that physical fitness isn’t about a grade it’s about a lifestyle. I said, “If you choose to be physically fit, you will have fewer health issues such as adult onset diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and impotence.” That really got most of the young men’s attention.

A couple of my freshman classes were nerdy young men, out of shape couch potatoes. They spent more time in front of a video console than anything else. Their exercise was walking to the kitchen for another snack.

After my little speech, I could tell they were a little depressed realizing they had made the wrong choices so far. I felt it was a teacher’s job to inspire their student, not to depress them. So I begin a second speech. “Young men I want to help you overcome any problems you have with physical fitness. This class is a required class. I know you’re smart enough to realize that women are more attracted to a physical fit man.” If nerds are one thing they’re into women, they may not like sports but they are all male. Having their full attention I continue, “There is no one in this class who cannot become physically fit. Beforehand your classes favored those who were already physically fit. It’s true it will still be easier for them. I’ll not make it easy for anyone, but by the end of this year you will be on your way to physically fitness with the knowledge of how to maintain your body. I’ll ensure that it’s fair for everyone.”

It seemed like in each one of the classes a young man would blurt out with, “Yeah right like that’s going to happen I’m a nerd, there’s no way I’ll ever look like a jock.”

At that point I decided to challenge their beliefs in what a jock and nerd were. I asked if anyone knew me. Of course someone in the class would say, “You were the quarterback last year for the varsity team, he took us to state and won.”

I ask the class, “Does that make me a jock?” In the class a lot of them shake their head yes and few say yes.

I ask the class a second question, “If someone was the co-valedictorian, 4.0 grade average, and three college Associates degrees before they are thirteen. Would that make them a nerd?”

The class responded the same until I say, “That would also be me. You don’t have to fall into a category if you do not choose to. You are who you make yourself. I will give you the tools to make yourself physically fit. If you are wise you will use those tools for your best advantage. I know this class is physical fitness, but I will also give you some instructions on nutrition, and health because they go along with physical fitness. A poor diet will sabotage any attempt at exercise. They go hand-in-hand, so this class is a little longer than you expected your homework is all day, it’s at each meal. It’s on how much you do after or before school. I’m teaching you a lifestyle change, I’m not going to say that you need to discontinue your video games, merely take a break once in a while to walk, run, climb, swim, or do something that is physically active.

After we finished with the BMIs and getting to know each other, I began teaching them how to do some stretches.

At lunchtime I ran into Kara, she’s a senior now and we went to lunch together. Of course a few students saw us returning and how I gave her a peck on her cheek. Kara was in my last class of the day the advanced self-defense course. By the time the rumors were already flying that Kara and I were having an affair.

During the period before one of my friends, Bobby’s daughter Debs a freshman this year gave me the heads up what was happening. I spoke to Kara at the beginning of the class. I let her know of the rumors and we both laughed at them. During the class I had to ask if anyone would be offended that I was instructing my sister-in-law. I then introduced Kara as my sister-in-law.

One of the rumors instigators blushed heavily realized her mistake, although she never said a word I knew she saw us when we return. Tomorrow I’ll make sure Kathryn meets me for lunch. I had asked the freshman what was she doing in the advanced self-defense course, she hasn’t even taken the self-defense course previously.

The young lady in question simply told me she had transferred from New York State where she had been taking jujitsu and had a green belt. Her name was Janet. I read the letter placing her in the advanced classes, considering some of the girls would be an equal or better.

Kara on the other hand had also been training with me through the summer for the last two years. She could easily be a black belt. I paired up Kara and Janet with the instructions to Kara, “Don’t kill her, and please don’t even put her in the hospital.” Kara laughed but agreed.

Janet asks Kara what belt level she was at to which Kara shrugged her shoulders. When Janet tried a rather sophisticated move Kara easily countered it and had Janet on the floor in a second. Janet has to quickly reappraise Kara’s skills and approaches much more cautiously on the next round. Another fancy move from Janet and a quick counter Kara again landed Janet on the floor. Two falls into the match between the two, and I set them down. Most of the girls, had the classes before and I let them go through their matches, then made them stretch before hitting the showers and that ended my normal day.

I gave Kathryn a quick call before football practice, and she told me her and Sam would be coming by. We had moved the meeting with Jeremy and his son to this evening. The two of them have been working on their proposal for the nonprofit the last two days. The Judge, two of the clergy from our wedding, Parson Jenkins and Rev. Akins have agreed to set on the oversight committee. We contacted Father McCoy and he graciously declined, citing he had too much already on his plate. Considering he did the toys for tots drive almost solo, I can see that.

Football practice was pretty easy. I was working with the junior varsity quarterback and center. The practice just seems to flyby, I did catch Sam and Kathryn watching from the bleachers. After practice I tell Kathryn about the rumor that happened to get started today. Kathryn laughs knowing how well I can be trusted.

Kathryn tells me, “Kara had already told her about it, just after she got home.”

I ask Kathryn, “Honey could you come and pick me up for lunch tomorrow?”

Kathryn reminds me, “Remember I only have a farm license. The school is not on the way to the farmers market.”

I ask, “How did you get here now?”

Kathryn replies, “Your Mom dropped us off.”

We leave to meet Jeremy and his son and the oversight committee for the give a gift of giving nonprofit organization’s first meeting. Which seems to go very well Jeremy and his son Jeremy Junior have the Corporation completely outlined, with its main goals set. With my donation we have exceeded the forecasted donations for this year by several million. When the oversight committee agree to hiring Jeremy as the CEO and Jeremy Junior as the CFO I hand them with the signing bonus checks I have prepared. I also present Jeremy with the bonus for his outstanding work so far. Jeremy nearly falls over, when he sees the bonus check I hand him his for half a million dollars. The sign on bonus checks were for each two hundred thousand. I knew Jeremy Junior certainly can use the money it would be an excellent payment for a new home.

When they suggested the salaries, the oversight committee had a short discussion and quickly increased their salaries but want their salaries to me based on a scale of all their employees. This raise the amount of money we were going to pay out for our annual employment cost, but the four of us knowing it would be the sole support for many families wanted to make it a living wage. Jeremy tries to say that the nonprofit really couldn’t afford to pay out so much money.

Sam stands up and asks me, “Daddy you said I can help. Can I pay it?”

Jeremy looks at Sam before he says, “Sam with the raises the salaries will be more than a million dollars every year. That’s a lot of money for a little girl.” Jeremy statements caused Kathryn to giggle. Kathryn knew that Sam had made the same amount of money I made yesterday.

Sam in a firm voice says, “That’s okay, I made more than that yesterday so I can afford it.”

Jeremy Junior looks a little stunned before he turns towards me and asks, “Did your daughter really make more than a million dollars in a day?”

Kathryn interrupts by saying, “Actually Sam made over fifteen million dollars yesterday.”

Sam still speaking in a firm voice says, “That’s right and I want to help. Daddy did say it was my idea that started it. I wanted to show my family that I love them, so I got to give my birthday present as gifts to them.”

Despite ourselves we chuckle at Sam is just so cute seeing her do that. I am so proud of her. I take Sam into my arms giving her a kiss I tell her, “If you want to help my big girl you certainly can.”

The Judge pulled us over to the side and asks, “Are you trading under Sam’s trust?”

I answer, “Yes Uncle George, we moved fifty million into a trading account for Sam. Her trust fund is being managed like most of the families.”

Uncle George shakes his head, “You know Marshall helped with my trading yesterday and I made fifty million.”

I smile saying, “I knew he was helping you, I’m glad it worked out so well.”

Uncle George reaches for Sam. Sam goes into uncle George is embrace. Uncle George begins, “Sam I know it was your idea in a really good one at that. Could you let me help with the salary?”

Sam surprises Uncle George, like I said she’s a little more intuitive than any four-year-old I know. Sam says, “Of course Uncle George, as long as I get to help too. You don’t get to have all the fun.”

Uncle George chuckles and gives Sam a kiss before he sets her down. He says, “I see you’re like Elizabeth, your great Grandma. No one is going to pull the wool over your eyes.”

Sam jumps up back into my arms smiling she says, “Of course not, I’m a part of this family and we’re all very smart.”

We go back to the others, and Sam slips in my lap as we finished discussing how we want the salary set up. The Judge and Sam share the expense of the salaries as their donation to the nonprofit which is a good tax write off for both of them.

The first thing they need to do is to rent some office space, and begin hiring employees to start managing this year’s program. Where a little late in the game, but will give our best attempt to give away as much is possible. We really only have a couple months. I know Jeremy would like to see this statewide, but with the limited time in our lack of experience maybe a smaller scale to work out the problems would be in order.

I ask a question our two clergy, “How much help and we get from churches in seeing that the program gets to the people who really need it? I’m not just talking about the very poor, will do that for sure but even the people a little better off should be covered with this program. We can provide a little extra help for the families that truly would have nothing.”

Both are thoughtful for a moment, and then Reverend Akins says, “Let me make a few calls.”

Parson Jenkins says, “I’ll do the same, I’m sure we can come up with a few volunteers, and even a few qualified people that Jeremy should look into hiring.”

Jeremy response, “Make it soon, the sooner we get off the ground the more children we can help this Christmas. Jeremy located some space downtown that we can rent is nineteen hundred square feet but should do for this year. With your okay, I’ll rent it for the next six months.”

I looked around at my fellow oversight members seeing no disagreement I nodded my head yes and they followed suit. With that the creation of The Give a Gift of Giving Organization completed. By the weekend Jeremy had phone lines installed, a website up and running.

Jeremy Junior knew of a web page designer in need of work, and had her already working on a page for the organization. An interim page was up on Friday, with only a few items and email. The designer was going to make a much more detailed website for us given the time. Jeremy hired four full-time workers by that Friday as well. Jeremy Junior had brought on board six accountants that would be working mostly from home.

The rest of my week at school was pretty much the same as the first day, teaching the Phys. Ed. Students the basics, both nutrition and exercise. I could tell that most of them were getting this information for the first time. When they commented that they had no books containing this information, I decided that night I would produce handouts with the information for them.

One thing I did enjoy was the homecoming each day. Met at the door by Kathryn and Sam, both gave me lots of kisses saying they missed me. That also was the worst thing about working was being away from Kathryn and Sam. If I hadn’t been busy most of the day I wouldn’t be able to stand the separation. As it is I feel badly every morning when I leave. Like something is missing from me. I tell Kathryn of this and she confessed she felt the same way.

The next week is the same, but on Friday since I’m working with the Junior varsity team, and they had no game tonight or practice I’m off early and I had straight home. I could feel Kathryn’s sadness from nearly a mile away. Sam seemed very sad, she still greeted me warmly but I could tell she had been crying. Looking into Kathryn’s face I also knew she had been crying. I take them into my arms and hold them tightly before I ask, “What’s wrong?”

Sam in a shaking voice says, “Ron gave me the letters today.”

Again with concern I ask, “Sam are you okay?”

Sam puts her face into my chest and begins to cry again, obviously she’s not. Kathryn says, “The letter was beautiful Sam’s Angel Mom wrote to her. She truly loved Sam. It’s no wonder Sam is missing her.”

In the most calming voice I can manage I tell Sam, “Sam we know you still love your Angel Mommy and Daddy, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We love you too Sam.”

Sam with a sniffle says, “I love you and Mommy, but I still miss Angel Mommy and Daddy. Daddy, will that ever change?”

In the same calm voice I say, “Sam I still miss your Grandpa Joseph. Sam I have you and your Mommy, all your aunts and uncles, your grandmas in your grandpa having them in my life helps, and having them around us helps too. You missing them Sam means you truly never lose them. They will always be a part of you.”

Sam sniffles again wiping her eyes she says, “You’re right Daddy. Having our family does help, having you and Mommy helps a lot. With everybody back in school I miss them. Daddy, could I come to school on Monday?”

With a glance at Kathryn who gives me a shake of her head I say, “I’ll ask Mom to bring you guys to school at lunchtime. I’ll have it checked out by then if I can let you stay for the rest of the afternoon. If not we’ll still have lunch together.”

Sam smiles and says, “That sounds like fun Daddy.”

That was the start of the weekend of Alyssa’s wedding, and it will be a lovely ceremony. Mom and Helen arranged everything for Alyssa, and Uncle George would fly them off for two weeks in Hawaii. The next weekend will be the last that Ron and Reese had with us until they separated from the service. I have an interesting part of the ceremony; no one else is available to give Alyssa away. Considering my involvement with her they choose me to walk Alyssa down the aisle and give her away. Before we begin Alyssa says, “I so wish your father was here to do this.”

I smile back tapping my chest as I say, “He’s right here. I carry him with me all the time. He is who makes me want to do better. I try to live by the example he is given.”

Alyssa blinks holding back the tears she says, “Your father would be proud of you.”

The music begins at I say to her, “Let me go give you to George, so you two can start your life together.”

We stand and wait as Mom, Helen Misty and then Kathryn proceed down the aisle. Michael senior is the best man in takes Mom’s arm as they proceed down the aisle. Jeremy also a friend of the Judge takes Helen’s arm and falls in step. Marshall and Misty are next, Kathryn proceeds by herself followed by Sam spreading flowers, Alyssa and I then begin the walk down the aisle. Reaching the end I lift Alyssa’s veil, it’s only then that I believe George begins to breathe again.

Rev. Akins asks, “Who gives this woman.”

I say my reply, “I give this woman.” I then place Alyssa’s hand into George’s hand both their hands shake with excitement. When each hand touches the other I can feel their connection and both smiled broadly. Releasing their hands I take my position opposite Kathryn. The vowels are spoken and answered by I do from each. When it comes for the time for Reverend Akins to say you may kiss the bride, he steps back as father McCoy steps up to the podium and begins a second ceremony. Reaching the same point he too pauses, and then replaced by Parson Jenkins and he too begins the ceremony. In turn he replaced by the governor who reads the civilian ceremony to George and Alyssa. Upon his conclusion the three ministers step forward and simultaneously say you may now kiss the bride. George and Alyssa kiss each other to cheers from the congregation. They hadn’t known about the other three ceremonies and it was a surprise to them. The governor showing up was a very big surprise for George. George never realized how well respected by so many people he was.

When they leave the chapel the bride and groom chauffeured slowly through town to pack streets on their way to the marina. Marshal, Misty, Joan, Johnny, Kathryn, Sam and I have taken a back way and reach the marina before them. We have decorated with flowers for the wedding a large pontoon boat, we very slowly cross the lake and proceed up the river to our dock. The rest of the family is at the dock awaiting us. After tying off, we help the bride and groom step onto the dock together, and this begins their wedding reception. The meadow is completely covered in people just as many are here today as on the Fourth of July.

Grandma Elisabeth is the first to greet the happy couple on the docks and grandma gives both a hug and a kiss wishing them a happy and long marriage. Jeremy, Jerry Junior his wife and daughter Janet are next, followed by the entire town, and most of the County and a good part of the state’s judges and politicians. This near to the elections the politicians takes the opportunity to work the crowd. I remind them that they here for a wedding reception and not a political rally.

Uncle George chuckles at me, after I reminded the governor himself of this. He said, “You know they really can’t help it. Whenever there are more than five people around them, the politician in them comes out.”

The governor overhearing us says, “George my friend you’re so right. I’ll try to remind myself why I’m here.”

It came time for Alyssa to throw the bouquet and couple hundred eligible girls gathered for a chance at catching it, with her back to the crowd Alyssa tosses her bouquet overhead and it sails straight to Kara, who catches it with a surprised expression.

Rest of the evening went by quickly, George and Alyssa danced often. Around six we ran out of food and the crowd seemed to start dispersing shortly after. The happy couple has a chartered flight waiting for them and they leave at 7 o’clock to catch it.

While George and Alyssa are away, we had it planned down to the last minute. Across the river will be building them a cottage for the two of them. Daniel of course was the architect we hired to design it. Shortly after the two of them became a couple, the family came together with an idea for the wedding present of the cottage. Daniel and Marshall scouted the land and decided on an area across the river. We had it surveyed and all the permits already attained. Even before the wedding some of the work accomplished off-site.

Early that Monday morning the heavy equipment rolled in and the major work would begin. We hired everyone available to work on it. We were going to do our own version of extreme home-building.

With all the research we’ve done we felt pretty sure Alyssa would love it. Joan and Johnny had given a lot of input on the design and what her mother’s taste was. Joan had taken the opportunity to ask her mother a lot of questions, as if going into her own home. Daniel had even asked Alyssa a few questions, when Joan wasn’t available. Hopefully we got it right. The house was a simple cottage with only two bedrooms, perfect for George and Alyssa to spend time together on the weekends. George of course still has his large home in town.

Even before I left for school Monday morning, the driveway opposite the fence extends down to the river. Several tractor-trailers are at the end of the driveway, most hold the heavy equipment needed for the construction of the bridge. One tractor-trailer carries the forms needed for the peers to the bridge. By this evening the bridge should be well underway and completed by Wednesday. A barge would move some of the heavy equipment across the river where the work can begin there today also. By tomorrow afternoon a barge and Crane will navigate of the River with a prefabricated bridge.

A company that makes bridge parts sold us a prefabricated kit for a two-lane bridge that was actually cheaper than designing a single lane bridge. The bridge is high enough above the river that it wouldn’t interfere with boat traffic. This side we had a boating ramp and install a dock for MC, Joan, and Marshall. A second dock will mirror this one on the opposite shore for George and Alyssa. It’s a good thing to my dock is a little overcrowded.

Monday at lunch Kathryn and Sam showed up driven by MC, the office hadn’t even gotten back with me to let me know if they could stay. So we ate our lunch, and I try to give the office another call. Not getting an answer I chose to take their silence as a yes. They failed to tell me no after all. There’s nothing in the code of conduct about that.

I had a free period, after lunch and before the beginners’ self-defense course. Not having my own office Kathryn and I took Sam to the library. Sam’s eyes lit up seeing all the books. I had to tell Sam that she’s in a public library and to keep her voice soft, as not to disturb the other readers.

Sam enjoyed her hour in the library. She is really enjoying the book she started so I checked it out for her. Sam’s love of reading is something I hope she never loses. Sam set in Kathryn’s lap as they watch me give the self-defense classes. At the end of the day, they stayed through football practice. Sam had nearly completed a fourth of the book by the end of the day.

I had arranged for a charter flight, first we were going to Sam’s grandmother’s house to pick up some of the personal items still there. Ron actually had a key, and we finally got a letter addressed to the guardians of Samantha Sheridan. The letter basically informed us of the property transfer to Sam. Sam’s property taxes were overdue. Kathryn quickly paid the late taxes, to keep the property for Samantha. We would hire someone as a caretaker for the property at a later date. We basically fly there for a day then on back to Texas to drop off Ron and Reese before returning home later Sunday.

The Coach likes to have me at the games, but understood the need so he allowed me to leave that Friday after school. We leave from the airport a half hour after the end of the school day. I’m beginning to love chartered flights, they’re very expensive compared to normal tickets but so much more convenient. On this flight we have a female pilot, after we are at cruising altitude she comes back and seen Sam looking out the window and how excited she is. The pilot invites her up to the cockpit to look out the front for a few moments of course Daddy has to carry her. Our pilot giggles at Sam’s excitement, Sam loves to fly and getting to see from the cockpit is a big thrill for her.

Sam’s moment ends far too soon, and she’s a little disappointed having to return to our seats. I tell her, “Sam when you’re sixteen you can learn to fly your own airplane. You could be my pilot if you want to.”

Sam giggles and says, “Daddy you know I won’t forget.”

With a chuckle I say, “And neither will I. You may change your mind by then.” Sam giggles and then started looking out the window again. The rest of the flight goes by quickly as the light fades and Sam can’t see anything else she comes to my lap and falls asleep. Kathryn is beside us resting on my shoulder she falls asleep shortly after Sam.

The flight attendant woke us before we started our approach to land. We fasten our seatbelts with Sam between Kathryn and I. Ron and Reese set opposite to us and when no one else is around they take each other’s hand.

When we exit the plane our luggage waits for us. We head off to the rent a car to pick up the vehicle we will use. There are a number of things we need to do while we’re here. Because of the time difference is only 6 o’clock local. Sam’s grandmother’s house is a good hour away, and we have two hotel suites reserved fifteen minutes from here. Very early tomorrow morning we’ll go to Sam’s grandmother’s house, to pick up photos and any personal items Sam wants. We also had to hire a caretaker for the property, and I had arranged for several applicants to meet me tonight at the hotel.

A man in his late-50s accompanied by his minister arrives early for his interview. After speaking with a man for a short time, and then his minister I learned he had been homeless for a number of years. He was underemployed most of his life, but he has not become bitter by his experiences. He is friendly and outgoing. Even Sam and Kathryn like him, Ron is a little reserved on his opinion until he finds out the man is a Vietnam vet having served near the end of the war. The minister is his contact; he doesn’t have a phone or local address.

One other man is in the running for the job is a young man near my age. He is physically able to do any of the work needed around the place, but lacks the experience and knowledge to do it. At the end of the interview I asked if he would be willing to work with the older gentleman. I say to him, “I have another candidate who is older and more experienced. He may not be physically able to do all the work. Would you be willing to work with him? He has the knowledge and experience of a lifetime doing work like this.”

The young man has a bright smile until he asks, “Who will I be working with.”

Giving him his name the young man’s bright smile returns as he says, “That’s my uncle Steve, he knows about everything when it comes to repairing a house. I can learn a lot from him.”

Feeling good about the two I say, “If you and your uncle Steve could be at the house tomorrow at noon. We’ll get you a key, and I have the paperwork set up to hire you.”

The next morning we got up as early as we could, a little earlier than Sam might like. She fell back asleep on my lap during breakfast. Ron chuckled at her. He pointed out, “That’s the third or fourth time I caught her asleep in your lap. You say she doesn’t do that very often.”

Chuckling myself I say, “She hasn’t in the past. She probably was very excited and got up very early yesterday.”

Reese says, “I know she didn’t have a nap yesterday too. She was very excited about flying again.”

Still chuckling Ron says, “It really doesn’t matter. Obviously Sam is very comfortable with you.”

Chuckling in return I say, “Obviously.”

We arrive at Sam’s house a little after eight. Sam slept most of the way here having fallen asleep shortly after leaving the hotel. The cottage we arrive at is in poor condition, and is definitely need of many repairs. Without someone working on it the house would probably fall down in a number of years, far short of a decade.

Sam seems to wake up the instant I turn off the SUV we rented. When Sam recognizes where we are at, she jumps out running around the edge of the house. Not understanding why or where Sam is going I follow first at a walk but losing sight of her on the second corner I break into a run following her. Once around the corner I can’t see Sam anywhere, a playhouse is in the backyard with the door open. Kathryn rounding the corner, she calls out for Sam. We barely hear Sam’s reply, but it lets us know she is in the play house. My heart rate begins returning to normal. Ron and Reese are right behind Kathryn.

The doorway is a little more than four foot tall, and I have to bend over to look in. Sam is in what looks like a comfortable chair but she holds her knees to her chest. The playhouse holds a daybed, and table and three chairs, stuffed animals set at two of the chairs. A tea set is on the table, undisturbed since Sam was last here.

I ask, “Princess, are you okay?”

Sam looks up scared and small again. I see Sam’s pain deep down to her soul. Gone is the self-assured little girl, unsure of our love. I’m looking at a loss and terrified girl who probably hidden in here. My heart breaks like seeing her for the first time again. I moved through the doorway and Kathryn follows quickly. There’s not enough room for me to fully stand, so I go to my knees and shuffle across to Sam. Kathryn and I take her into our arms and Sam begins to cry. After a long time she finally stops, looking into our faces she asks, “Did you bring me here to leave me?”

Kathryn and I say in unison, “No, Sam we didn’t.”

Shaking Sam asks again, “Mommy and Daddy you’re not going to leave me here?”

With a comforting voice I say, “I can’t see my life without you my Princess. I would miss you too much to leave you for more than I do now. Every morning when I go to work leaving you and your Mommy is the hardest thing I ever do.”

Kathryn saying in a comforting voice, “Sam I couldn’t leave you with your aunt the afternoon I went to school. How can I stand to leave you here? You are my daughter, and I don’t have to go and be a soldier like Angel Mommy, or Angel Daddy. All I have to do is be your Mommy.”

Sam holds us tightly for a long time. Sam finally asks, “If you didn’t bring me here to leave me, why are we here?”

I’m trying to ensure Sam of our intentions. I say, “Sam I’m so sorry we didn’t tell you. We came to get your pictures, toys and anything else you want to bring back home. We never meant to scare you my Princess.”

Sam reinsured of our love says, “We came just so I can get my pictures and toys.”

Smiling Kathryn replies, “Yes my beautiful little Sam that’s the only reason you had to come. You have to tell us what you want to bring home.”

With a giggle Sam says, “Can I bring my playhouse.”

Looking around for a moment I think of how exactly to explain to Sam. I say, “I think it’s a little too big to fit on the airplane. It’s an awful long way to have it shipped on the back of a truck. We can bring all your toys from inside back with us.”

Sam giggling says, “It would look really funny on top of the car.” That starts Kathryn giggling, and I finally begin to chuckle as well.

Sam begins to pick up her two stuffed animals. She looks longingly at the tea set. Seeing her expression I say, “We’ll figure out a way to bring those, Sam.”

Sam takes a deep breath before she says, “Daddy those were Angel Mommy’s, this playhouse was hers too. These are my teddy bears. I used to play like there were my little sisters.”

Kathryn giggles and says, “Sam you’re not going have to pretend you have little sisters very soon.”

Sam moves to her Mommy giving Kathryn a hug. Tears were rolling down Sam’s face, but they are happy tears. As I pick her up into my arms Kathryn and I both kiss one of Sam’s cheeks and her tears away. Giggling Sam kisses us both back and then hugs us tightly around the neck. Once Sam releases us in a very happy voice she says, “I keep getting my wishes to come true. I wished I had a little sister and I’m going to. I wished you would be my Mommy and Daddy and you are.”

Chuckling I say, “Making your wishes come true Princess Sam makes us happy. Sam you’re being our daughter makes us happy.”

Kathryn kisses Sam’s cheek again before she says, “My beautiful little Sam you are my daughter and that makes me happy.”

Ron and Reese had moved away from the door letting us and Sam have our time. After a few more moments Sam gives me a kiss and the cheek that signals she wants me to let her down. She takes her two teddy bears, and then looks around the room one last time. Coming over to Kathryn she takes her hand and says, “There some pictures in the house Mommy.”

I follow the two out on my knees. At the door I transition and step out. Ron and Reese are a little ways away. Ron has her up in his arms spinning her around like a small child. Reese is giggling merrily. Reese finally begins to slap his shoulder and says loudly, “Stop or I’m going to be sick.”

Chuckling Ron sets her down and hugs her because she is very wobbly. Ron seeing us approach, smiles brightly before he says, “JJ, Kathryn and Sam I would like to present my fiancée and the mother of my child.”

Reese giggles and says, “I’m making the captain make an honest woman of me.”

Kathryn and I congratulate the two of them. Sam gives Reese a hug and asks, “Reese since Ron is my Godfather will this make you my Godmother?”

Reese kisses Sam quickly then gives Kathryn and me a look that says oh please. I have my hand interlaced with Kathryn’s, with this physical connection our bond allows us to get the impression of what the other is feeling and I feel agreement from Kathryn. With a chuckle I say, “I was going to ask if you would. Now that you’re engaged to Ron, Reese up on your wedding would you agree to be Sam’s Godmother?”

Giggling Reese says, “Only if I get to play with the Princess once in a while too.”

Giggling Sam says, “Well I get to read to the baby?”

Kathryn and Reese both dropped their hands to their bellies and say in unison, “yes.” They look at each other and crack up laughing. That starts the rest of us laughing as well.

It takes most of the morning but we managed to pack up most of everything, including the tea set. We had to go to a shipping store to have most of it shipped home for us. Sam had quite a bit of stuff for a four-year-old. Kathryn and Reese went through Sam’s closet and found several outfits that would be good for Amanda. A lot of the other stuff went to Goodwill. We managed to go to the grocery store and pick up some fresh groceries before noon.

At noon Steve and his nephew arrived, we set at the kitchen table and I talk about what I need for them to do. I hand them to prepaid credit cards as they fill out the paperwork for their employment. The young man has a truck they will use as transportation and to get building supplies.

When Steve’s nephew asks about how much I’m going to pay them. I say, “I was thinking about sixty thousand a year, plus room. I’ll allow you to stay here as you take care of the place. This place will need a lot of work, if there’s anything the two of you can’t do give me a call. We will arrange for either specialist or additional help for you.”

The two of them set there open mouth at my statement. Steve asks, “You mean thirty thousand a year for each of us?”

Chuckling I say, “No I mean sixty thousand for each of you. It looks like at least two years’ worth of work to get this place in shape.”

The two of them looked like someone just said you won the lottery. They are ecstatic at hearing what I’m willing to pay them. I know I’m paying high above the average for most people doing work like this but Steve had a hard life, and his nephew looks like he would be destined for the same type of life. I decided I will change as much of that as possible.

I tell them, “The two prepaid cards there are your sign-on bonus. There’s five thousand each. Here is another, this is your petty cash use it for gasoline, hardware and any other thing you need for the house. Send me the receipts and I’ll reload it. This one is for major purchases, like if you need a new refrigerator, roofing or other expensive items again send me the receipt and I’ll reload it.”

We are nearly finished with getting Sam’s personal items. My two new employees have finished their paperwork and don’t wait to get started on the house. Removing the last of Sam’s items from the house the back of the SUV is nearly completely full.

Steve shows me a short punch list of items of repairs to the house that need immediate attention. I point to the second prepaid card still on the kitchen table, I tell them they need any help have them fill out employment paperwork and I’ll be glad to pay them. I lay six copies of the unfilled out paperwork on the kitchen table.

Sam’s personal items are finally gathered, packed or shipped headed home. As I leave I tell them, “I’ll see you too fairly soon, get a phone line put in all want to hear how everything is going at least once a week.” With that I start the SUV ready to leave, the two men think us and tell us goodbye as we leave.

Sam is quite happy to be on her way away from her property, and when the place is in better shape we may just sell it. We stopped by another packing store. We arrange the shipping for about fifty percent of what’s in the SUV. Sam keeps her teddy bears with her, that’s the first thing that reminds me that she’s actually a little girl.

That night Sam sleeps with her teddy bears. Kathryn and I take advantage of the bed to ourselves, well at least until Sam got up in the middle of the night and crawled on my chest. As Sam relaxes on my chest I’m actually thankful no teddy bear replaces me.

In the morning we fly back to Texas dropping Ron and Reese off for them to go back and start their military separation. We’ll see Reese in two weeks, and I hand her a set of first-class tickets telling her will be there at the airport. Kathryn and Sam give Reese a hug, as I shake Ron’s hand as we tell them goodbye. I tell Ron, “When you have a date for your separation make sure we know. I’ll have tickets ready for you.”

As we depart and they began to walk away I can’t help but notice they go back into the habit of hiding their relationship. They’re good arm’s-length apart as they walk away. We board the airplane after a quick stop at the magazine vendor for a couple magazines and some drinks. We wait a few minutes as the plane refuels. Once again airborne Sam loves looking out the windows and she is constantly moving from one side of the plane to the other to see something new.

By the end of the flight, Sam is pretty tired and sleeping on my lap after dark. Kathryn giggles watching Sam has one of her teddy bears in her lap and she snuggles into my chest holding her teddy bear close. Sam has a very contented smile on her face as she sleeps.

In a whisper after we land Kathryn says, “You’re such a good Daddy and a great husband. Sam and I are lucky to have you.”

I whisper back, “I’m lucky to have you two also. My life would not be worth living without you.”

It’s late Sunday, and we put Sam to bed. We just shower and we chase each other back to our bed only to find someone bouncing and wide awake. Considering all she slept on the plane it’s no wonder she’s awake. Kathryn and I just kind of groan realizing were not going to have any fun right now. Sam giggles at us being nude. Kathryn gives me a kiss and says, “Next time we will make sure she stays up longer.”

Kathryn slips on a T-shirt and pair of panties, boxers and a T-shirt for me. Sam still bounces on the bed giggling. I catch her and we throw her down playfully on the bed and begin to tickle our Princess. Kathryn Sam and I laugh then hug cuddle enjoying each other’s company.

We play a quick game of hide and seek. Of course I get to be it. I have to find both Kathryn and Sam to win. My bond with Kathryn makes it easy for me to find her. I find the two of them watching TV with Mom and slide in beside them.

Kathryn squeezes my hand just to let me know. I recognize the video there watching it’s about my Dad. A reporter is doing interviews with the people he saved. From the quality of the video it’s about five or six years old. The last person they interview is Alyssa and they show the footage of Dad throwing her to the firemen. Alyssa talks about how that saved her and her unborn daughter.

They have the Jersey raisin ceremony from the tenth anniversary. They even have my first kiss on video. Sam giggles, but Kathryn gives me an evil stare seeing the kiss. I chuckle at Kathryn’s expression and tell her, “That was the one and only time I ever kissed Joan, and I didn’t ask her to do it then. Besides I hadn’t even met you yet.”

Kathryn turns back to the video, but I can tell she is just trying to keep from laughing. She knew that Joan did that. I told her about my first kiss how Joan practically tackled me. Kathryn seeing it is one thing very different. They didn’t show her running or me nearly knocked over by catching her, or they edited that out what they showed was Joan kissing me and me kissing back. Fortunately it wasn’t a very long kiss. But they did show Joan holding onto me for dear life, and me allowing her to stay.

I thought this was about Dad, but it goes on it talks about how Mom and me moved from LA. It has interviews of some of the teachers I had as a freshman, even the Coach. They asked him a lot of questions, and about Kathryn and me, how we started to date. They interview Michelle and she gives her version of the bear story, and the interviewer reads the transcript from the court where Judge Thurgood had question Kathryn about the story. They even found one of the park rangers and interviewed him about the bear.

They speak to several of the clergy, and how I always help out especially for Christmas. They have a few photos from our wedding. They speak to several of the townspeople who I am silent partnered with. Many of these credit our small town’s recovery to my efforts.

The final person they’re interviewing is Jeremy senior, and he talks about the organization and what it stands for. They talk about The Give a Gift of Giving organization how it came into being. He gives out our email for the organization and request nominations for children. He indicates the website has the applications to apply for the give a gift of giving. With that the program ends.

Our phone immediately begins to ring, before I answer it I ask, “What was that really about?”

Giggling Mom says, “The governor wants to make you the man of the year for the state.”

Kathryn giggles, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

To my surprise it was Janet on the phone, Janet began by shyly asking, “Mister Meyer are you the same JJ Meyer from the program that was just on?”

For a second I consider denying it but jokingly I say, “I didn’t realize how much I’ve gotten done this year for the governor to recognize and nominate me for man of the year.”

From the sound of it Janet dropped the phone and it took her a second or two to come back to speak again, “Mister Meyer I’m so sorry about the mix-up with Kara. I just asked a new friend from my freshman class who the two of you were. She didn’t know, so when we ask other people before we knew it, your kiss on Kara’s cheek had moved to her lips and it got worse from there.”

I chuckle and say, “That’s high school for you. Kathryn, Kara and I just laugh about it. We know how high school is.”

Janet asked another question, “You’re really not upset about the rumor.”

I confess, “I really don’t like the rumor, I’m glad it’s going away especially because it’s not true. Three fourths of the high school definitely knows how much I love Kathryn and that I would never cheat on her. The freshman class on the other hand doesn’t know Kathryn, and few of them have ever seen us together.”

Janet says, “I’m really sorry I didn’t mean for this to happen.”

I smile into the phone as I say, “Your apologies accepted I know you didn’t mean for it to happen. Would you mind asking your parents if they could come over say Wednesday night for dinner? I’m sure Kathryn would like to welcome them to the community.”

Joan voice is a quite a bit more relaxed as she says, “I’ll ask Dad if he would like to. Can I’ll let you know tomorrow at school.”

With a chuckle I say, “Just be sure it doesn’t start another rumor.”

Giggling Janet says, “You’re right it’s high school, I’ll call you tomorrow after school to let you know.”

Once off the phone I inform Kathryn and Mom that I invited Jeremy Junior, his wife and daughter over on Wednesday for dinner. Kathryn gives me a look that has Mom giggling and I quickly say, “Okay I’ll never do that again without asking you first.”

Sam asked me, “Is that the girl that started the rumor?”

Answering Sam I say, “Yes it was, and that was her on the phone apologizing. It started innocently with her asking who Kara and I was. I have made the mistake of giving Kara a kiss on the cheek, as she asked who I was she described the event. Before long the description changed and the rumor started.”

Kathryn begins to laugh and then says, “That’s high school for you. One innocent little event is told and retold and before long Kara is expecting JJ’s baby.”

Sam is a little confused and looks at her Mom and asks, “Daddy and Aunt Kara don’t make funny noises together how can they make a baby.” I knew Sam referred to sex has making funny noises, but I didn’t know that she knew that sex is how you make a baby.

Kathryn explains, “Sam rumors aren’t normally true. Your Daddy and Kara are not going to have a baby, but the kids in high school have got the wrong idea.”

Sam giggles and says, “I know Daddy loves Aunt Kara and she loves him too, but not the type of love where you make funny noises together.” I’m more than a little impressed at Sam’s grasp of the difference in types of love.

Kathryn scoping Sam up into her arms says, “That’s right my beautiful little Sam.” The two of them giggle as they hug.

I stretch and look at the time before I say, “It’s been a very long day that started very far away from here.”

Kathryn still holding Sam rubs her shoulder against me and says, “You still have to get up early tomorrow and go off to work. Sam and I can sleep in.”

Sam stretches like I did. She is beginning to look tired and quite sleepy as she lays her head on Kathryn’s shoulder. I rub her chin before I ask, “Are you ready to go to bed now Sam?”

Sam sleepily answers, “Yes Daddy, if I can sleep with you.”

Since Sam’s scare about as leaving her she has been a little clingy to Kathryn and me. I’m sure that will pass in a few more days, but with Sam’s history I can see where it would frighten her. If you really think about it the two people Sam loved and trusted most leave her, third person that she loved and trusted most get sick and dies. That put her with Nicole and Lester, people she feared. If I was only four years old I think I would be very clingy too.

We climb into bed together and Sam kisses Kathryn before saying, “I love you Mommy.”

She slides up and gives me a kiss good night and says, “I love you Daddy.” Sam slides back into place on my chest I caress her back as she falls quickly to sleep.

Kathryn tells me, “I think Sam is very happy to be home again.” Sam nods her head. Kathryn giggles seeing Sam answer even in her sleep.

I whisper, “I’m really happy to be home. I love you and Sam.” Sam still in her sleep has a broad smile that I can feel through my T-shirt.

When Kathryn falls asleep I feel myself drifting away. I awake to the alarm clock as it buzzes. Sam jumps up with a giggle she runs to the bathroom. Kathryn gives me a kiss before she follows Sam. I stretch and turn off the alarm I’ll take my time getting to the bathroom that will give them the opportunity to finish so I can relieve myself when I get there. I hear the two of them talking and giggling before they return.

On their way back I get up and passed them in the hallway giving Kathryn a kiss. I relieve myself and then start my morning routine. Today is an in-service day, a day of us teachers had to go to work but no students. Since this is the first one I’ve ever gone to it should be a new experience for me.

It seems the morning was all briefings. Everything from audiovisual equipment to sexual harassment covered in a series of briefings. One briefing is about rumor control, and the recent rumor about me and Kara brought to the forefront. Coach Edwards, being Kara’s father and my father-in-law defend us both. Not that any direct accusation has been made of any wrongdoing. I explained the events, and how I was just telling my sister-in-law to have a good fifth period class and gave her a peck on the cheek to say goodbye. A couple of students, who didn’t know who we were, asked others before you know it the description of the events had changed and that started the rumor. Most of the teachers there are very understanding although a few look at me very suspiciously.

The person given the briefing points out, that although my actions were innocent in nature they were still on the verge of breaking the codes of conduct. I am given a letter of warning. I realize that that’s more to protect the principal than to discipline me. One good thing is we do get off early.

I return home followed by the Coach, he follows me to my driveway and we speak once we park. He calls me over and we begin to look over the progress the construction crews have made so far. I know he is doing that just so he can have me out of the house to speak to me privately. After some small talk and as we begin the walk across the bridge he asks, “What did they do to you?”

I say, “It was a letter of warning, hopefully it won’t affect Kara. I have gotten in the habit of giving them a peck on the cheek whenever I say hello or goodbye to them. I’ll have to remember not to do that at school.”

The coach chuckles, “I know it must seem like I was cold to them a lot of the time. But I know how rumors get started and I didn’t normally show affection outside of my home. JJ the first time I met you I had the feeling you were going to be a son to me. It really didn’t take long for Kathryn to claim you. What I thought was a crush turned out to be full-blown love. I’m really happy that your part of my family. But don’t kiss my daughters at school again.”

Chuckling I say, “Sure Dad.”

The bridge is complete, but concrete is dry and hard and we walk across the lane on the opposite side is finished and we walk a good distance to the cottage. It’s a hive of activity as Carpenters finish installing windows and the roofing is nearly complete. The coach smiles as we walk through the open door. Inside electricians and plumbers are busily installing the fixtures for the house. One of the bedrooms has drywall already up on the inner wall and electrician still work behind it.

We find Daniel and the construction supervisors busily talking about the next step that needs to be completed. Daniel smiles and waves and when he’s free he walks over to us. He’s getting nervous and fidgeting with something in his pocket as he looks into the Coach’s face. He takes a deep breath then looks into the Coach’s face again he asks, “Mister Edwards I want to ask your permission to ask Kara if she would marry me.”

The Coach breaks out into a large smile as he pulls Daniel into a hug slapping him on the back. Finally releasing Daniel he says, “Let me see the ring you got in your pocket.”

Daniel pulls out the box, opening it as he hands it to the Coach. My father-in-law examines the ring of my future brother-in-law looking at it he gives a low whistle. Michael says, “That’s a pretty good piece of ice you got there. I’m pretty sure Kara will love it.” I get a good look at the ring myself and I give Daniel an assuring smile. It looks like about a two carat round diamond, very high quality what I can see.

Daniel looking at his father-in-law to be says, “If Kara says yes I want to do something like this for her. I already have a piece of land that would be great for the house. It’s borders your property and I was thinking of putting the house just a few hundred yards down the road from you.”

Giving Daniel a bright smile I say, “Since you have the land and designed the home, I’ll pay for the materials, as your wedding present.”

Coach chuckles and says, “I’ll pay for the labor, as your wedding present.” Daniel is a little shocked at our offer. He gives both of us a hug before he returns back to work.

Daniel had just gotten the ring box back in his pocket when Kathryn, Joan, Kara, Mom, and Helen walk in. They had tape measures and begin measuring things like windows for curtains, the length of the wall for a sofa.

Daniel goes to get a set of blueprints that have all that information already, the coach just shakes his head and says, “Let them do it their way.”

I chuckled tell Daniel, “Listen to Dad he’s been married longer than anyone else here.” A couple of the workers that have overheard chuckle, but shake their head yes.

Helen asks Daniel, “You have any idea when we can start bringing in furniture?”

Daniel says, “Wednesday night or Thursday morning at the latest.”

No sooner had he said that when Marshall and Misty come in out of breath. Misty says, “We have less time than we thought, they’re coming home early.”

Joan asks, “Why?”

Misty giggles, “According to Alyssa, George would prefer to go fishing, but she admits she’s missing everybody. It’s the first time she’s been away from both Joan and Johnny in her life.”

Marshall adds, “Dad says he misses Saturday morning breakfast and he expects everyone to be there including him this Saturday.”

Michael senior chuckles, “That might be my fault I told him we didn’t have it last Saturday. Try to explain to him JJ, Kathryn and Sam was gone too, so it wasn’t his fault we didn’t have breakfast.”

Mom says, “He called wanting to talk to everybody and nobody was there but Joan and Johnny and I.”

Joan giggles, “Johnny was sleeping in too.”

Looking around I ask, “Where is Sam, I expected her to be glued to your hip Kathryn.”

Kathryn with a giggle says, “MC read her the first few chapters of The Orphaned Princess. The two are taking a nap together now.” Kathryn seeing our confusion continues, “The Orphaned Princess is Sam’s story, MC is writing it as a fantasy. I had to laugh when she made Lester a troll who uses magic to look human. She hasn’t gotten to us yet, but she asked Sam what should make JJ and me.”

Chuckling I ask, “What did Sam make us?”

Kathryn now laughs heartily before she says, “Apparently I’m a mage, and you’re the most courageous knight Prince in the land. The bear became an evil Dragon and you killed it with one mighty blow of your magical sword.”

Still chuckling I say, “I guess MC thinks that’s more believable than the truth.”

The rest of the family begins to laugh hard and then Marshall says, “Some of the things I’ve seen you do makes it, sound more believable as fantasy.” I roll my eyes to more laughter from not only the family but the crew.

Given this new information about George and Alyssa’s return we find out there due back on Friday which means Saturday morning we won’t have the opportunity to hide their new cottage. It needs to be finished by then a day earlier than we had thought. Fortunately cell phones work at the job site.

We arrange for the furniture delivered on Saturday morning, but now needed Thursday afternoon. I call the furniture store where we purchased the furniture nearly two weeks ago. I explained what I need and when they person I’m talking to simply says we can’t sorry and hangs up on me. I call back and ask to speak to the manager of the store, same story. To make a long story short, I finally talking to the vice president for East Coast sales, he asked how the hell I got his number and why was a sell of a few rooms of furniture his concern. I asked him if he had Sept.’s Forbes magazine where you can get to it. I heard him shouting at his secretary who dropped the magazines on his desk. I asked him to take a look at the cover, he says, “Yeah so what.”

With extremely irritated voice I say, “You see the young man on the cover. You just happen to be talking to him. I already own eight percent of your corporation I only need two more percent to be on your board. That’s why you need to be concerned.”

A little sarcastically he says, “Well sir if I can place you on hold for a moment.”

It takes about two minutes before he comes back when he does he has a totally different attitude. He starts by apologizing, both for himself and a rude behavior of so many of their employees. He then assures me that I’ll have the furniture delivered even if they have to build and ship it overnight. I think him and hang up.

Most of the family starts chuckling at overhearing most of the conversation before Marshall reminds me, “We all have stock in that company too. All we have to do to give you the voting rights and you have more than ten percent easily.”

We move out of the way, as carpenters continue to work as electricians are finished the drywall those up. Installation of solar cells over the completed roof begins as soon as the roofers vacate the south side of the house. The house has a basement that holds a room for the batteries and inverters needed for the power system. The house will be finish Wednesday, paint Wednesday night and by Thursday morning ready for carpeting and the two rooms where it’s needed. At that point the house would be finished and ready for furniture.

The family basically stays out of the way of the crews as they work. We watch from a distance and marvel at how quickly the work is actually accomplished, Tuesday I ranged for lunch to be delivered so the crews could have hot food, that seem to improve their attitude considering we had been working even longer than we had planned. Wednesday afternoon and house was finished, painted a carpeted the tiles drying in the bathroom. Only a few minor things he cleaned up, and furniture delivered and placed and it would be ready for presenting to George and Alyssa.

At school everything seemed to be going to normal, Kathryn and Sam came on Wednesday Sam returning the library book. Librarian was a little surprised as a four-year-old handed her the book saying it was very good. It was actually Huckleberry Finn. I had to explain to Sam about some of the language used in the 1800s was no longer acceptable today. Sam giggles and says, “Daddy I think I know that. I pointed out to MC a couple words and she explained it to me.”

Kathryn grins and says, “You need to congratulate your daughter on finishing the second grade. I let her start when you started teaching.”

Picking Sam up I give her a kiss and say, “Sam you’re constantly making me very proud. Congratulations on finishing the second grade.”

Looking at a couple the students that see us I explained to them, “This is my daughter Sam. She’s only four years old and she’s finished the second grade.”

The two are freshmen girls, and you giggle merrily at Sam before they say, “Congratulations Sam.”

I call them over and introduced them to Kathryn saying, “This is my wife Kathryn, coach Edwards is her father as well as Kara’s.” The two turn red slightly knowing the rumor. I chuckle at them as they show their discomfort. I say, “We know that rumor that was going around, which is definitely not true. I do love my sister-in-law, but as a sister. I would never cheat on my beautiful wife.”

The two giggle looking at Kathryn. One of finally getting up the nerve asks, “You got married on the Fourth of July right?”

Kathryn and I shook our heads yes and the young lady continues with another question, “How did you guys do that with the clouds?”

Kathryn says, “We didn’t, no one can control the sky yet.” The two girls eyes widen as they think of whom possibly could control the sky.

Sam finds the Prince and the pauper also by Mark Twain and checks it out under my name. Sam begins to happily read, I think she would love coming to school more often just to visit the library. While they watch my beginning self-defense classes Sam can’t help but notice one of the girls is doing the move wrong, and she goes and tries to explain it to her. When the girl laughs saying, “You’re such a little girl how could you know how to do this?”

Sam demonstrates the throw on her, and then Sam sets down on her chest. Grinning in her face Sam says, “Because my Daddy is your teacher, and he already taught me.”

I am afraid the young lady was going to get angry especially being thrown, but as many of the other students begin to laugh she joins in. Sam even tries to help her up, but that ends with Sam in a hug from the young lady. She sets Sam down and offers Sam her hand saying, “Ms. Meyer my name is Crystal, I’m very happy to meet you.”

Sam’s face has a bright smile as she is shaking her hand and says, “Hello Crystal, you can call me Sam.”

Sam really doesn’t disrupt the class, but as the girls are released from matches they seem to migrate to her as Sam sets in the stands. Sam sets beside Kathryn and a lot of the girls, talk to both when they’re not required to be on the floor. At the end of the class I bring everyone down to stretch before I send them off to the showers.

At the beginning of next class Kara spot Sam in the bleachers and goes and gives her a hug before the class begins. A few of the girls from the last class after finishing the showers go to Sam to say goodbye before going to the last class of the day.

After a short practice that afternoon I drive Kathryn and Sam home. We are met Jeremy Junior his wife Martha and Janet on our arrival home. Mom has dinner ready and calls us all in. A few of the other members of the family are there Joan, who is also a senior, Johnny a freshman this year and who I will usually work with a lot as he is a Junior varsity quarterback. Kara has joined us this evening. She wants a little help with some of her homework. Kathryn finished last year Kara was going to get a little help from her little sister.

Jeremy Junior, who prefers to be called Jerry, and his wife Martha are very cool. We find a lot to laugh and joke about during dinner. Of course both of them are taken aback learning my age and then even further taken aback by learning Kathryn’s age. I think Martha’s and Janet’s chins actually hit the table when Kathryn said she was only fourteen.

Kara giggles and said, “And my youngest sister. Who has already graduated high school gotten married and is a mother and is pregnant. Sometimes it makes me a little jealous, but we are always sisters and I love her.”

Kathryn smiles brightly and says, “I love you too Kara.”

Sam says, “I love you too Aunt Kara.”

By the end of the evening their shock is gone, or at least they learn to see us as individuals not just the stereotype. Janet seeing the pool asks, “Do you guys swim often?”

Sam giggling says, “Daddy says I am part mermaid because I get in the pool every chance I get.”

I asked Sam, “Did you do your laps this morning?”

Sam giggles saying, “Yes Daddy, I did all thirty laps like we do.” I think that shocked Janet.

The next day Janet asks before class, “Did Sam make $15 million in just one day?”

Smiling I returned, “I was going to play it a little safe, and only invest half as much but Sam insisted that we should double or more our investment. I did double the investment, and Sam, Kathryn and I made fifteen million each. Her uncle Marshall invested more for him and his father and made fifty million on the same day.”

Janet just a little shocked again asks, “You actually listen to a four-year-old when it comes to investing money?”

I say to her, “Janet, I made half a billion by the time I was fourteen. Don’t let people say you can’t do something because of your age.” Janet smiles but shakes her head as she walks away to get ready for class.

Friday right after school George and Alyssa arrive and most of the family is there to meet them. The Coach couldn’t get away his duties required him to stay with the team. We’re taking them back to the ball game with us. It’s one way for us to keep them away from the cottage a little longer. During halftime some of the family will slip away to put the finishing touches on the cottage. By the end of the game everything should be perfect.

Sam helps distract George and Alyssa by telling them of her adventures the weekend before. Sam even tales about the part where she was scared to death that we were going to leave her at her old grandma’s house, and how we promise to never leave her.

Alyssa and George hug Sam and tell her, “Sam you have a very large family that love you. We’re never going to give you up, give you away or leave you our Princess.”

Sam hugs them back and tells them, “I love you too, Aunt Alyssa and Uncle George.”

The next morning a couple of semi-trucks block the view of the bridge from the driveway. I have to meet them in the driveway to keep them looking towards the house, if they didn’t they might get a good look at the bridge and wonder what’s there too early. Breakfast is really good, and it feels great to have everyone here. Kara seats in Daniel’s lap as she feeds him, a few of the family members joke about it. Daniel seems to fit right in, and he merrily jokes back.

At the end the breakfast we tell Alyssa and George we have a surprise for you. First you need to put on these blindfolds so we’ll take you to where the surprise is. A little reluctantly after some coaching both of them wear the blindfolds. We lead them to the dock, placing them into the pontoon boat with Kathryn at the wheel, we float down the river a little and then back up past their docks, Kathryn slows the motor allows the pontoon boat to float into their dock and we tie off. All the floating and so forth took a good 15 to 20 minutes and they were good sports about setting there are not trying to peek.

The two trucks were removed once we were far enough away that the engines wouldn’t give their location away. Michael senior and junior is at the docks and helps us lead the blindfolded couple of the stairs and into a car to drive into the cottage.

The whole family awaits them, be placed them on the driveway and moved the car before moving them together. Spinning them around a couple times just for the fun of it, Johnny and Marshall hold their parents when they have them pointed at the house they bring them to a stop. We asked the ready for the surprise. They both say, yes. I think they want to get the blindfolds off.

Johnny and Marshall removed the blindfolds at the same time, the couple blink in the sunny midday light. As soon as their eyes adjust they both have a surprise expression on their faces, the family stands around in the semicircle allowing the couple to see the cottage. A large red bow is on the door. Marshall hands the keys to Alyssa. He says, “Here’s your weekend getaway cottage.”

Alyssa begins jumping up and down, and George joins her. The two act like excited teenagers. Alyssa runs to the door and quickly uses her keys to open it. Alyssa and George step inside, she practically squeals with joy and George chuckles. Looking around she constantly shouts I love it.

George finally steps back to the door and invites everyone in. He stands at the door shaking everyone’s hand; Alyssa hugs everyone especially Marshall, Joan and Johnny. We explained that everyone put in an equal share to pay for everything. We all had a little time we put into it as well. Downstairs, is a pool table and a wet bar in the large game room. Home theater almost as large as mine and the utility room completes the basement. An overly large master bedroom with huge master bath tub big enough to fit four people, as shower equally as large, a sitting area with a writing desk and loveseat in a comfortable chair and coffee table, a California King Master, and night stand bed furnish the master bedroom suite.

Very comfortable living room with a wide fireplace, and one of Misty’s paintings, a very comfortable sofa loveseat and a pair chairs along with end tables, and a large coffee table in the living room, a large picture window looks out over the river and Valley without actually seeing another house. A large kitchen and dining area, even larger than mine or any other of the houses near here, a very large dining table we had specially made which will fit more than the whole family at the moment. Marshal and I both know that this family is definitely going to grow. The secondary bedroom is a little smaller and has a three-quarter bath off of it. We call it a cottage, but it’s a little more than two thousand square feet in living area with a double garage, and unfinished bonus room above it. There is a bath halfway up the stairs to the bonus room.

George and Alyssa are definitely overwhelmed; both have tears of joy at our gift. Jokingly we tell them guess where next Saturday’s breakfast is going to be held.

George says, “I love it, the only problem is it so far away from everyone else.”

Alyssa agrees, “It’s great, but I wish you could’ve put it close to everyone too.”

Everyone begins chuckling, which confuses the couple until we bring them out onto their patio and point across the River. Chuckling Marshall says, “Look you have a nice big wide bridge so the grandkids can come and visit easily.”

Alyssa giggling says, “You did that just so you charge me the toll of the meatloaf a month.”

Marshall chuckles and says, “Now that you mention it” Cut off by an elbow to his ribs from Misty. Turning he looks at her face before he says, “No, don’t need one. My wife makes a great one too.”

Alyssa and George giggle at the two.

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