Saturday, about 11 o'clock in the morning, Collin and Ryan finally came down for breakfast. As typical teenagers do, they fed their mouths first then used their now fed mouths to communicate.
"So, boys, you two ready for final exams and the start of your summer?" asked their Big Bro.
"Yeah," replied Collin, "most of our teachers have already given us our final exams and the rest will happen Monday. Since next Thursday is a half-day, the last day the teachers have to turn in our final grades into the office is Tuesday. After Monday, we'll be bored to death, sitting around those classrooms with nothing to do."
"Hey Bro, maybe you could talk to mom and get her to let us, you know, to skip those last days, as they will be boring as sin," asked Ryan.
"Oh, so you two know about 'sin' now, do you?" teased Ken Thomas.
The door bell rang and Chief and Collin went to answer it and then brought his 'little brother' Eric back with him.
"Hi there, Eric. You hungry?" ask Mr. Ken.
"Naw … mom made me eat breakfast. She said she didn't want me eating and then swimming, but thanks anyway," responded Eric.
"Swimming … what did I miss? I thought we were going to use the Waverunner's today?" inquisitively asked Ryan.
"Well, ahhhh yeah, that is, IF we can get our Big Bro to ride with us, otherwise … Eric can't do anything but swim and … it wouldn't be fair for us to ride and for him to sit and watch us. So, what do you say, Bro? Will you ride with us for a little while, so Eric can have some fun, too?" asked Collin very politely.
By one o'clock, the four males were riding their hearts out on the lake. Eric was really having a blast as Mr. Ken let the younger boy do the majority of the driving as that was what his 'older brothers' wanted, anyway.
Collin waved everyone over and when they shut down their runner's he asked, "What say we get those towing tubes out and have some fun with those for a while?"
Everyone agreed and the four went to the Cove's beach to get the tubes.
"Okay, guys, you know the rules for using these … or have you forgotten," teased the boys Big Bro.
Eric quickly put up his hand and began to answer, "The towing vehicle has to have enough space on it for the driver, observer and the rider. Also, the driver MUST be at least 13, which I ain't. That means I can't drive unless Mr. Ken is the observer and one of you guys is the rider. That leaves Ryan to drive his own 'Runner' as we have fun." Eric then giggled, which got him tackled by Ryan and put onto the sand and tickled.
The two boys laughed as they romped in the sand. The other two 'boys' laughed as the sand began to cover them both as they were still wet from their romp on the lake.
It was agreed that Collin would be the first 'victim' since this was their first time ever using the towed tube. Ryan and Eric teased him by saying 'it was nice to know ya' and 'where should we send the flowers?" as the driver, Mr. Ken, towed Collin out onto the lake along with Eric as the observer.
They agreed to use the standard signals and then Mr. Ken began running slowly back and forth in front of the Cove. After five minutes of that 'boring fun', Collin yelled to Eric he wanted to go faster. Eric tapped Mr. Ken on the shoulder and told him Collin wanted to go faster.
"Faster IS it? I'll show him faster!" and, with that, Mr. Ken poured it on.
As soon as the watercraft put on speed, speed that Collin wasn't expecting, he was unceremoniously 'dumped' into the cold lake waters. Lucky for him, he had his wetsuit on.
"Hey, what'd you do that for?" yelled Collin, as his Bro and Eric came around to reset the tube for another try.
"Well … you wanted to go faster, and that is what I gave you. It's NOT my problem you weren't ready," laughed Mr. Ken, and Eric, as Collin pulled himself back into the tube shaped as a rounded corner triangle.
The next ride was more successful and as the afternoon wore on, everyone got the opportunity to ride and get dumped into the cold lake waters.
Maria had a wonderful early dinner ready for the 'boys', when they appeared later in the kitchen, after their hot showers to get themselves warmed up.
"Mom … mom … did you see me go flying when Collin went too fast, as he made that turn? That was soooo muuuucchh fun," laughed the ten year old, soon to be eleven in two weeks.
Ken asked Momma Maria earlier, to invite Judy and Mary over for dinner. The six had a wonderful time sitting and talking about the day's fun and what the summer would bring for the boys' enjoyment.
"Mom … ahh … do you ahh think we could, you know … ah … use our passes to, you know, go to see Shamu, soon?" cautiously asked Eric, knowing his mother had been very busy running CPS.
Judy Turner sat there in thought before answering, "Eric, my son … I think that is EXACTLY what we are going to do, this summer! Judge Adam talked to me last week and told me I HAD TO USE those Season Passes, and spend some quality time with you."
"Yeaaaa!" yelled Eric, who quickly ran to his mother and gave her a great big kiss.
While they were talking about the day's fun, Collin's cell phone rang so he took the call outside of the kitchen, so it wouldn't bother anyone. When he got back to the group Ryan was ever ready for him.
"So, did Shelley give you hell, err sorry mom, I mean heck for not calling her earlier?" teased Ryan. "We needed to call the girls and make arrangements for a date this weekend, and for what we're going to do when school is over for the summer," added Ryan.
Collin's answer didn't have the enthusiasm it normally would have, after talking to his girlfriend so Ryan asked was wrong.
"That was Grammy. She wants to come over to talk to me. I guess we won't be going out with the girls," lamented Collin.
"Well, ah you may not be going out with Shelley tonight, but Grammy isn't my grandmother, so I don't have to be here," teased Ryan, which got him a couple of hard knuckle taps to his head from his mother, who said, "Now, is that anyway to talk to your BEST Friend?"
"Owwww, mom … that hurt," complained Ryan, as he rubbed the top of his head.
That brought Collin's spirits up as he laughed at his Best Friend and said, "Serves you RIGHT for not waiting for me to finish!"
"Okay, okay finish why don't cha," said Ryan.
"Anyway, that was Grammy … she wants to come over TOMORROW, smarty, so we can talk some more. She says we have lots to talk about. Bro … ah, I told her I'd call her back and let her know if the timing was okay. I knew you and her agreed for her to come here again, so ,… ah, what should I tell her?" explained Collin.
"Well, Collin … she is your grandmother, and she does want to reconnect with you. Are you going to be okay talking to her this soon … after, you know, what happened last weekend?" offered Collin's Big Bro.
"Yeah, I'll be okay, Bro it's … well, I don't know what she wants to talk about?" replied Collin.
"Hmmm … alright, she asked if tomorrow would be okay and you said you'd call her and let he know, so, when you do call her, ask her what she wants to focus on tomorrow. Let her know you want to go at it slow, in the beginning, so you can grasp what she has in mind. She may be surprised at that, but she does want you to 'take control' and this will be one way to control what can and can not be brought up at your meeting. Also, ask her if she would like to be here for lunch and dinner. Give her options, but be firm, in what you want to accomplish with her. Do you want me to explain that to you again 'lil' bro?" asked Mr. Ken.
Collin smiled at his Big Bro and said he didn't and that he'd call his Grammy and set up their meeting for tomorrow, and then he'd call Shelley to see if she and he wanted to go out alone tonight; all alone. That last part brought Ryan up and out of his seat and proceeded to tackle his best friend, Collin. The two teens wrestled and laughed and kidded each other about going out separately tonight.
The others just sat there watching the two teens on the floor, when Judy looked over at her son and said, "Eric, I sure hope you're NOT going to act that way when you're their age!" That brought a red blush to Eric's face and a round of laugher by the adults.
Soon, Collin and Ryan finished their foolishness and left the kitchen and made plans for tomorrow, with Grammy, and the girls, for later that evening.
"Mr. Ken," began Eric, "is Collin going to be moving away?"
"Eric … I really have no idea if he will or won't, at this time," replied Ken.
"Does his grandmother want him more than you do?" continued Eric.
Motioning for Eric to come to him, Ken put the younger boy on his lap and explained, "Eric, Collin's grandmother … she was named in his parents' Wills, you know pieces of paper that explain what they want to happen when they die, and she was named as the person they wanted to raise their son, if anything ever happened to them. I love Collin as much as you do. He has brought pure joy to The Cove and life as well. I want him to stay, more than anything … probably more than you do, but … well, there are the courts and they could say that Collin, because of what his parents wanted, was to be with 'family', and Collin's Grammy IS his family … NOT me."
The two sat together for a few moments, when Eric sat up straight and gave Mr. Ken a peck on the cheek and said, "Thank you for explaining that to me. I do love Collin, and …I … well, I sure don't want to see him leave here, either. He and Ryan are the bestest thing that has ever happened to me … well, next to mom. If he has to go away, I know Ryan will still be here … but it won't be the same." Then Eric's shoulders and eyes pointed down.
Eric slid off Ken's lap and, with tears in his eyes, he walked to his mom for some comfort as he felt the sadness of what he just said, sink in. The kitchen was quiet for some time afterward.
Mary dropped the boys off at The Mall, and they met their girlfriends at the ice cream store.
"So … when do we get to play on your 'hot rods' … on the lake?" asked Megan.
Ryan and Collin almost spit out the contents of their mouths when Megan said what she did. The two teens looked at one another and began to smile and some of their drinks dribbled out that they had to wipe their faces.
"So, what was that all about?' asked Shelley.
Looking at Ryan with a smile he responded, "Oh … oh nothing."
"Nothing is it" reiterated Shelley, as she grabbed her boyfriend and tried to tickle him. That then caused Megan to do the same to her boyfriend, Ryan.
The lads filled in their girls on what their day was like up until then and when the girls asked if they could come over tomorrow, Collin had to tell them that his Grammy was coming over, to talk to him. He also told them that his grandmother was named as the person his parents wanted to raise him, if anything happened to them. That little bit of information sort of put a damper on the rest of the evening.
Later that evening, in Collin's room, Ryan never asked, up until then, the 'unasked' question, "Collin … do you think you'll, you know, you'll have to go and live with your grandmother?"
Collin only sat there and didn't respond to his best friend's question.
Ryan got off the bed, the one he usually used when he spent the night, and went over to his friend and put his arm around the other teen's shoulder. Collin leaned into him and began to cry. Chief saw what his master was doing and she got up, yawned, and went downstairs and went directly to the Study.
"Woof! … Woof, woof!" barked Chief, at her 'original' master.
"Hi there, girl … come on over here and I'll scratch behind your ears," responded Mr. Ken.
Chief went over to the man and had her ears scratched and enjoyed it so much she actually forgot what she came down to the Study for. It took Mr. Ken's stopping to scratch her that made her 'remember' that her master was upstairs crying.
Chief then went to the doorway and barked some and ran back and forth as if to say she wanted the man to follow. Mr. Ken recognized Chief's signal and followed his dog upstairs to Collin's room.
In Collin's room, he could hear Ryan talking and someone sort of crying. Ken hesitated to walk in, but Chief nudged him from behind and so he knocked on the door frame and walked into the bedroom.
"Hi, guys," said Ken Thomas, as he walked into the room.
"Hi, Bro," responded Ryan and an unenthusiastic "Oh, hi," came from a teary eyed Collin.
Ken could see that Collin had been crying and he looked to Ryan for some help, so he could gauge how serious it was. But Chief had another idea and she again nudged Mr. Ken towards Collin.
"Collin … what's wrong, Little Bro?" lightly asked Mr. Ken.
Collin just sat there with tears streaming down his face.
Mr. Ken sat on the other side of the teenager and put his arm around his shoulder and the teen leaned into the man and began to cry his heart out. Chief came over and began to lick the tears away to show her concern, but Collin only cried that much harder.
It took over ten minutes for Collin to get himself under control, and to slow down his tears. He sniffled a lot as he was crying, and as he began to get a hold of himself, he got up without saying a word and went to the bathroom.
"Ryan, what happened here? Do you know what caused this crying spell?" inquired the older man.
"Bro … well, I ah … ah, I guess it was me. Tonight, you know, when we were with the girls, they ah … ah, asked when they would get the chance to come over and … and have some fun on the Waverunner's. Collin explained his grandmother was coming over tomorrow, and he mentioned to them he might have to go live with her. …
"Tonight, when we got back, I ah … I … asked him, I guess directly … if he thought he would have to go live with his grandmother. … I wasn't thinking, Bro. I probably shouldn't have asked that question, knowing what his parents' Wills say but … we ALL want to know what is going to happen, Bro, and … after what he told the girls, and how he said it … I … I'm sorry, Bro … I guess I should have waited for you to ask that."
It was then Ryan's turn to start crying. He felt as if it was all his fault that Collin was feeling the way he was.
When Collin came back to his bedroom, he sat down on his bed right next to his Big Bro. He then leaned into the man who immediately placed his arm around the teenager.
"Collin … Ryan here tells me he asked you a question … that he now wishes he could take back. He also told me you talked to the girls tonight, about going to live with your grandmother. Do these two things … have anything to do with why you were crying tonight?" asked Mr. Ken.
Collin remained leaning on the man's shoulder, but his crying had stopped. It was evident the teen was thinking about something. Then in a few moments, Collin rose up and said, "Yeah, Bro … I've been thinking about me having to go back home … and live with Grammy. Ever since her phone call, today … it has been on my mind. … Bro, I know what my parents Wills say, but … do you know if there is a way that I can stop them, you know, … from making me go live with her?"
Ken Thomas wasn't ready for that straight shot of a question from the 16 year old teen. Ken was acutely aware of everything associated with the James and Charlotte's Last Wills and Testaments, and also how the courts were apt to rule, seeing there was a minor child, namely Collin, involved. Collin's Big Bro took a few moments to gather his thoughts before answering the lad.
"Collin … I can't say for sure what will or can happen. Your grandmother told us all that she would allow you to make the decision of where you will live, but even that can be changed by the courts, if they feel your parents Wills are being ignored," answered Ken Thomas.
"But, how could they, if we all agree where I should live? Don't I get a say at all?" a now frustrated Collin asked.
"Collin, did your grandmother say anything today about your having to go live with her when she talked to you earlier today?" inquired Mr. Ken.
"Not exactly, Bro. When I asked her what she wanted to talk about, when she came over tomorrow, she said one of the things we should begin to talk about was me going back to visit my house. Ever since she said that, the only thing going through my mind was … was having to go back to, to … to where … everything … happened," responded Collin, as tears began sliding down his face.
"Collin … hear me out, please. Your grandmother … well, she could just want you to confront your fears and attack them head-on, the things that happened to you. I'll bet Doc Doug talked to you about going back, to certain places, and facing them head-on, so you could go on with your life. Your Grammy may want the same things for you, too, by asking you to confront that place where you were kidnapped and … well, and where you parents fought over you.
"Collin … going back to any of these 'bad' places is going to be difficult for you, but 'lil' bro … you need to face them … you're too young to allow them to be a hindrance to your future. Collin … up until now … none of us wanted to push you … to go back and retrace any of the things that happened to you. Maybe it IS time … for you to begin to put your past into perspective and move forward. I'm sure all your grandmother wants for you is too begin to heal, and move forward. She just wants the best for you ... just the same as all as of us do," Mr. Ken tried to explain.
"Bro … I'm, I'm scared … of going back. … In my mind, I can still see my mom and dad, lying there with … with blood all around them. I … I'm afraid that … that the blood and everything will still be there. I … I don't want to have to see that ever again," explained Collin, as tears began to quickly run down his cheeks.
Ken pulled the lad to him and tried to reassure him while saying, "Yes, Collin, I can totally understand your fears. I know it will be difficult … but for you to get over this episode in your life, you'll have to meet it head on … so it isn't going to rule the rest of your life. What say we give your grandmother the opportunity to talk to you tomorrow? Let's see what she has to say, about your going back home? Maybe she'll only want it to be just for a visit, so you can begin to heal, from this terrible tragedy."
Collin remained in his mentors embrace while he thought out what he just heard. First, with a slight nod and then by agreeing to see what his Grammy had in mind, he hugged his Bro and then got up, stepped back and smiled.
"Thank you!" was all Collin said before lying down on his bed.
Ken went over to the teen and ruffled his hair and then did the same to Ryan before he left the room. Chief began to follow the man at first, but all of a sudden it was as if she remembered that Collin was her 'master' now and she went back to the boy and got her front paws up on his bed and licked his face a few times. Then, she got down and went to the foot of his bed and did a few turns before lying down.
The room remained quiet, for the next few minutes, with the two teenagers left to their own thoughts.
"Col …I'm sorry if I …"began Ryan before being cut off by Collin.
"Ry, don't worry about it. I knew sooner or later … I'd have to face this one day … and … I guess Grammy's the one whose gonna make it happen. But … Bro is right. Doc Doug did talk with me … about facing my fears and said that the sooner I do it, the sooner I can begin to heal. It's just … that, I'm not sure how I'll feel or what I'll think when I see … that place again where my mom and dad were killed. At times … I've laid here in bed … thinking back to that night and … and, playing the scene over and over in my mind and seeing the fear in my parents' faces," spoke Collin, without looking at his best friend.
Then, sitting straight up and looking at Ryan, Collin said, "Ry … am … am I going to see those same images in my mind, when I go back there? Do you think that's what going to happen?"
Ryan quickly got up and went over to Collin and hugged him close. He tried to calm his best friend, as best he could, but he knew he had nothing he could say to Collin's question. Ryan had never experienced anything even close to what Collin had, almost a year ago, now, that he felt it best just to be there holding him and letting the teen work through it himself.
Before long, the two lay back together on the bed and were soon fast asleep. Chief got up once to go out to do her business and then came back to her position of protection for the rest of the night.