Castle Roland

Three Finger Cove - Charles
Book III

by Chowhound

In Progress

Chapter 5

Posted: 22 Sep 16

Three Finger Cove - Charles

Copyright © 2016 by Chowhound
All Rights Reserved

From Previous Chapter:

It was while Larry 'Smokey' Masson was responding to Dan Fischer's latest question that Chief choose to attack. Her movement caught Smokey off guard and his being startled by the sudden attack by Chief gave Charles the chance to swing the man's arm away and down and away from his throat. Regrettably, the knife lightly struck Chief and she let out a whelp. All those unanticipated motions were enough to have the knife wrenched out of his hand leaving Smokey unarmed against three armed and capable Sheriff Deputies.

Knowing he no longer had the upper hand, Larry Masson quickly ran around the fence and headed to a moored boat he had already staked out. Larry Masson started the boat's engine and went full power out onto the still crowded lake from the fireworks show. The man known as Smokey was no longer there.

As soon as Smokey ran around the fence, Charles dropped down to check on Chief. He saw she was bleeding so he took off his shirt and wrapped the wound. While he did that, the three deputies arrived and tried to chase after the boys abductor but they were too late.

When he got to the hiding place, Dan Fischer saw that Chief was injured so he called Mr. Ken and told him about Chief's injuries and that he would need a veterinarian. Dan then directed his attention to Charles and saw the lad looked to be okay. Seeing the boy was focused on taking care of Chief, he decided to wait until Mr. Ken got there, and took over Chief's care, before getting the boy away from there.

Ken Thomas called the Vet who'd taken care of Chief, back when The Cove as being built, and explained the situation and the urgency. The man recognized who Mr. Ken was and told him he'd be there directly. Mr. Ken then headed to the culvert to check on Chief and Charles. When he got there the 'Cover' boys, and their friends, had already arrived, but Dan wouldn't let them near as it was considered a crime scene.

"Dan, let Collin in to help with Chief and I'll help you with Charles," offered Mr. Ken.

Sheriff Deputy Dan Fischer agreed to that and Collin quickly went to Chief to hold the make-shift bandage in place. Charles was then led away from the scene by the deputy and his foster dad.

While all that was happening, the other deputies called in the resolution to headquarters and all the notifications were now being made. Before long, Three Finger Cove would be crawling with additional Sheriff Deputies, investigators, photographers, and forensics technicians along with Sheriff Matthew Barnes and District Attorney George Morris.

Up in the house, foster dad Ken got Charles settled in his Study. He then sent Robert to get Charles another shirt while he went to get a drink of cold water for his new 'son'. That taken care of, the man sat in one of the large plush leather chairs and pulled his foster son into a great big hug. It was then the lad broke down and cried – hard. Soon after, Robert entered the Study, with the shirt for his new 'brother', that he heard how hard his friend was crying. He knew that whatever had happened to his new 'brother' it couldn't have been good and that caused him to burst out crying, too. Ken Thomas heard Robert's crying and motioned for him to join him on the chair.

Dan Fischer watched on as Charles, and now Robert, cried on. His primary responsibly right now was to keep an eye on the kidnapped child and keep him safe. He knew the long night would get a lot longer.

Within a half hour of the headquarter notifications going out, Sheriff Barnes and his two primary detectives and DA Morris arrived at The Cove. They attempted to talk to the distraught lad but he just wasn't responding so DA Morris directed they call for an ambulance to take him to the hospital. Mr. Ken wasn't happy with that decision, believing the boy needed to sleep first and answer questions later.

By then the 'Cover' boys had gathered outside the Study and heard what was happening to Charles. Collin asked his mentor what he could do and was asked to take care of all the lads and have them call their parents and let them know what happened. Mr. Ken told him he could have the lads spend the night, if the parents were okay with that. He also told him that under no circumstance to come or bring any of the boys to the hospital.

At the hospital, the doctors in the Emergency Room checked Charles out with foster dad Ken looking on. The doctors decided the trauma of being held at knife point, coupled with the extra-long day the lad just put in, was just too much for the lad and he needed to rest. After hearing that, Mr. Ken was ready to go ballistic, but he knew he needed to stay calm. The doctors called for an orderly to take Charles to a private room. Ken Thomas followed his foster son to the room.

As the small group entered the private room, DA Morris and Sheriff Barnes, along with Sheriff Detective Sergeant Brandt Matthias and Sheriff Detective William Roberts were waiting. It was then that Ken Thomas went ballistic.

"What are all you men doing here?" demanded Mr. Ken. "The ER docs said the boy needs bed rest, the same thing I told you back at The Cove."

"We need to question the boy before this Larry Masson gets too far away," replied DA Morris.

"I don't think so, Mr. Morris," sarcastically said Mr. Ken.

"Listen … we have a job to do and that is to apprehend the man that abducted Charlie …" started DA Morris, before Mr. Ken spoke up and said, "His name is Charles!"

"Whatever …" the DA began, and a still pissed off Ken Thomas blurted out, "His name is Charles and he will not be answering any of your questions tonight and not without his lawyer present!"

"Oh, yes, I heard about your demands that the kid be given total immunity. Like that's going to happen after the way you're acting," smirked DA George Morris.

"Then the boy will never answer any of your questions!" Mr. Ken retorted back.

"Then, we'll take him into protective custody and …" began George Morris.

"And treat him like a common criminal without access to counsel or his appointed guardian beside him? That sounds like gestapo tactics!" sneered Ken Thomas.

"And, I'll have you arrested for obstruction," smiled DA Morris.

While the verbal confrontation between the District Attorney and one of the County's most influential and wealthy men continued, Sheriff Barnes and his Deputies just watched on waiting to see who would blink first. Sheriff Barnes had his money on DA Morris.

Then, DA George Morris turned towards to Sheriff Barnes and said, "I want you to arrest Mr. Thomas for obstruction and interfering with an official investigation and public officials."

Sheriff Barnes looked at the DA like he didn't actually hear what the man said. He knew that arresting Mr. Thomas would not be in either man's future political interests so he pulled the DA aside to talk to him about what he wanted him to do.

Unbeknownst to anyone in the private room, Judge Adam Richards, the Presiding County Juvenile Court Judge, was standing just outside the room's ajar door. He decided at that time to enter the room and announced that, "No one was being arrested."

"No, you listen here, Judge," began George Morris.

"George, don't let you mouth say something you will later regret," offered Judge Richards. "Now, I'd like to know why you are all arguing in front of the boy, here. The doctors tell me the lad needs sleep and plenty of it before he'll be fit enough to answer any of your questions. Now, gentlemen, may I suggest we all leave the lad, so he can get that sleep, while we continue a civil conversation elsewhere?"

"Judge, there is a very dangerous man out there tonight that threatened to cut this lads throat. And, because of that we need to ask the boy a few questions that could possibly lead to that man's arrest before he has the opportunity to harm someone else," loudly argued DA George Morris.

"Sheriff Barnes … do you feel the same way as DA Morris does?" Judge Richards directly asked. "Also, can you trust the incoherent answers this distraught and overly tired boy will give you tonight? I understand the wanted man seized a local man's boat and took off across the lake. It would seem to me that the area of coverage you have to search would over extend your available manpower and leave the county unprotected. So, wouldn't it be prudent to finish up your gathering of evidence at the scene and after your talk to the lad tomorrow you begin an extensive search using ALL the fresh information you'll then have?"

Sheriff Barnes began to think over what the Judge just asked when Ms. Judy Turner arrived at the hospital room.

"Why wasn't Child Protective Services notified that one of its children was involved in a dispute that could have resulted in his bodily harm?" demanded an irate Judy Turner, who was now acting in 'angry mother' mode. … "Well … I'm waiting!"

"I'm not sure why …" began Sheriff Barnes,

"I don't want excuses, I demand answers!" charged a still pissed-off Judy. "The protocol calls for my organization to be called immediately when a CPS intake child is involved in any altercation. I think the child's throat almost being cut warrants my organization being called. But NO, I want you all to know I had to be advised of what happened to Charlie, I mean Charles, by my own son."

It got awfully quiet in the room as the adults looked at one another hoping someone else would offer a course of action that could get them all home at a decent hour. That was until Charles spoke up and asked Mr. Ken if he could use the bathroom.

"Sure, Charles … let me help you down and show you where it is," replied foster dad Ken.

"Sheriff, when that boy comes out of the bathroom, I want you to take him into protective custody and then I want that man (pointing at MR. Ken) arrested, as I asked earlier," huffed DA George Morris.

"George … no one is being arrested tonight and surely that boy is NOT going into protective custody," spoke up Judge Richards.

"Now listen here, Judge, you have no jurisdiction here," loudly said DA Morris.

"I most certainly do, George, and you know it. I am the Presiding County Juvenile Court Judge and that lad comes under my jurisdiction. I order that the boy get a good night's sleep and be available for questions at noon tomorrow. Will that work for you Mr. Thomas? (The man nodded.) Sheriff Barnes? (The Sheriff nodded.) Ms. Turner? (The lady nodded.) … And you DA Morris? Are you ready to stop running for reelection and put the safety and well-being of the child ahead of that?"

District Attorney George Morris pulled Sheriff Barnes aside and asked him why he readily agreed to the Judge's order. The Sheriff told the DA that it didn't matter if they talked to the lad this late at night or at noon tomorrow. But, what did matter was whether or not they piss off a man who could turn the voters of the county out in mass against us. The Sheriff advised the man to drop his attitude and stop trying to get back at Mr. Thomas for what happened almost three years ago. George Morris really did want to give Ken Thomas the 'treatment' but he knew what Barnes said about the county voters was still true even almost four years after that huge storm. The DA then told the Judge he'd go along with his order.

"So, Judge … do you think I could take my son back to The Cove and let him be with his 'brothers' and feel safe amongst them?" asked Mr. Ken.

The doctor hastily spoke up and said that it would be okay with him but that he advised the lad should talk to another doctor, of sorts, to help him deal with the trauma he experienced tonight. Ken Thomas said he had just the right doctor in mind.

Charles had finished his business in the bathroom and was standing just outside its door listening as the adults continue to argue. But, when he heard the doctor say he could go home, to The Cove, he ran to his foster dad and jumped into his arms and hugged him hard.

Everyone agreed to meet at The Cove at twelve noon the next day, and then began to leave the hospital room. When everyone but the Judge, Ms. Judy, Mr. Ken and Charles had left, Mr. Ken asked Judge Richards how he knew to come to the hospital.

The man smiled and said, "I received a phone call from a very concerned teenager who explained what happened at the carnival tonight and that the DA and the Sheriff were both involved with the aftermath. I knew, with those two involved together, the potential for things not going well were very high. And, I was right. … So … I see you have another new foster son. Care to introduce me, Mr. Ken?"

"Yes, Judge Adam, I want you to meet my newest foster son, Charles James Lewis. He only came to me two days ago and he's already caused havoc around the place," now teased Mr. Ken, as he hugged the pre-teen boy.

"It is good to meet you, Charlie …" started Judge Adam.

"It's Charles, Mr. Judge," corrected the newest foster son.

"So … I take it Mr. Ken wants you to start anew while you're living with him? Thus Charles instead of Charlie. Son … you couldn't have been assigned to a better person than Mr. Ken, here. I've seen how well he helped Collin, and now Robert, so believe me when I say this man will do for you whatever he needs to do to help you be a better person," offered Judge Adam

"Thank you for saying that, Judge. Everyone I've met so far has said practically the same thing," replied Charles, who then went over and shook the man's hand.

It was well after midnight when Charles walked through the Front Door of The Cove. As he walked through the door, he was greeted by ten teens who gave him a 'hero's' welcome. They patted him on the back and they all wanted to ask him questions

Mr. Ken saw the boys had their questions ready, so he told the lads, "Guys … Charles has been through something I believe only Collin would have any sort of idea of what it was like. He's extremely tired and the doctors said he needed a good night sleep. Also … the big guns will be here tomorrow, at noon, to ask him their own questions so they can go after the bastard who took him. So, guys, let's let Charles get to bed. That way he'll be rested and ready for the Sheriff and DA at twelve noon tomorrow. Will you do that for him and me?"

"Charles, you're gonna sleep in my room tonight," announced Robert. "Your roommate is spending the night at the Vet's office. And, by-the-way, she's doing good because you wrapped your shirt around her and stopped the flow of blood. The Vet says that was the right thing to do. Didn't he Collin?"

"Oh, thanks for telling me, Robert. After they took me to the hospital, I found myself so tired that I totally forgot about her," slurred Charles.

"Guys … you can hear how tired he is. Let him get to bed and you can talk to him tomorrow," announced Mr. Ken.

The boys were all disappointed they couldn't hear Charles' story but they knew it was well past midnight and they saw and heard how tired their 'brother' and new friend was. They all then patted him on his back one last time and they told him to have a good night's sleep.

As Charles, Robert and Eric started up the stairs Mr. Ken turned to Collin and thanked him for calling Judge Adam. When Charles heard Judge Adam's name mentioned he stopped going up the stairs, turned, and asked, "Who is that guy, Judge Adam?"

"He's one of the good-guys, Charles," replied Collin. "He's one of the good guys!"

"Well, I sure am glad he is, because if he hadn't come into my hospital room I would have been put into something called protective custody and dad, err I mean Mr. Ken, would have been arrested and taken to jail," explained Charles.

That revelation caused all the boys to turn towards their mentor and put a big question mark on their faces.

Mr. Ken saw the question on their faces, but he knew it was getting late and he wanted Charles to go to bed so he said, "Guys … it's a long story and Charles needs to GET TO BED! I'll explain it all in the morning, if there's time. Now … I want Charles to go pee and get into bed. And, Robert and Eric … no talking to him and asking him questions. Do you two hear me?"

Eric looked at Robert who returned the look, and then they both looked down to Mr. Ken and they both said in unison, "Yes, sir … we hear you."

As the three lads finished walking up the stairs, Mr. Ken turned to the remaining teens, all standing around the landing. He then asked, "Where are all you guys sleeping tonight?'

Collin took the question and said that he and Ryan were sleeping up in the guest bedroom, like they had been, but the other kids were sleeping down in the Theater.

"Will that work for you boys?" asked Mr. Ken, of the six remaining teens.

The six friends all shook their heads up and down in reply. Satisfied they were all okay with their sleeping arrangements, the owner of The Cove bid all the boys a "Good night" and went on to his own bedroom.

Upstairs, three 'brothers' finished using the bathroom and went to Robert's bedroom. Charles sat down on the freshly made bed and kicked his sneakers off. He gave a big yawn then stood up to take his shirt and pants off. Robert and Eric did the same. Charles saw that Robert and Eric were standing there in boxer briefs and he said to them, "I see you guys like the boxer briefs. My mom would never buy me those and living in the foster homes they wouldn't either."

"Guys, I would like to talk to you tonight but I'm really tired and I need to lay down." Charles was so tired that as soon as his head hit the pillow he was out like a light.

Robert and Eric both climbed into Robert's bed and talked a little bit about today's activities but before long the two fell right to sleep, as well.

About 4 o'clock that morning, Charles began to thrash in bed and yelled out loud, "No don't kill me, NO, NO don't kill me." That screaming woke up Robert and Eric and Robert quickly ran to his new brother Charles and tried to calm him down.

"Charles, Charles you're having a bad dream … wake up Charles, you're having a bad dream," yelled Robert.

Charles kept thrashing, so Eric came over to help hold him down while Robert continued to try to wake Charles. Finally, Charles looked up in a start and saw and Robert trying to comfort him and he burst out crying. Robert quickly pulled his new brother to him and again tried to calm him down.

"He, he, he was going to kill me I … I couldn't do anything about it," cried Charles. "He had the knife, he had the knife to my throat and told me … and, and told me he'd cut my throat if I tried to get away. I didn't mean to hurt Chief I really … I really, I didn't mean to hurt Chief. Please believe me," sobbed Charles, as he was reliving what happened to him earlier that evening.

Robert kept trying to soothe Charles down, like Mr. Ken did for him, by rubbing the lad's back and telling him everything would be okay. Eric just sat there looking on wondering what this was all about.

After about 15 minutes, Charles had stopped crying and he looked in Robert's eyes and said, "Thank you for taking care of me. I … I better go use the bathroom."

Robert and Eric followed Charles to the bathroom to make sure that he would be okay and that nothing else happened to him. After all three lads used the 'porcelain urns', they headed back to Robert's bedroom. Once there, Charles sat down on his bed and looked over to Robert and Eric and told them about what happened to Chief. "I really didn't mean to hurt Chief, but … but, when she jumped at Smokey … that gave me the opportunity to push his arm away from my throat but … but the knife, the knife was still in his hand and when I pushed his arm down it caught chief. That's how she got cut. Please believe me Robert, I didn't do it on purpose." With that said, Charles began to cry again.

Robert saw the tears come to Charles' eyes and quickly went over to him and put his arm around him and pulled the lad to him. Eric went and sat on the other side and began to rub the lad's back. The three lads sat that way for about 10 minutes, when Charles asked Robert, "You do believe me …don't you?"

"Yes, Charles, I do believe you," said Robert. "I know you didn't hurt chief on purpose and the vet said she'll be okay. He took her to the veterinary hospital and said that she should be back here, hopefully, tomorrow. Now, go back to sleep. My bet is you'll have a long day tomorrow."

"Will you stay with me, Robert?" somberly asked Charles.

"Sure. Move over and make room for me," replied Robert.

Eric went over to Robert's bed and got in and under the covers, just as Robert and Charles did the same. After the three lads settled down, they fell right back to sleep.

Like clockwork, Mr. Ken awoke at 8 o'clock. He laid there for about ten minutes and then decided to get up and get his day started. He knew, with DA Morris wanting to talk to Charles, the day would be a very long one. He got rid of his excess fluids, brushed his teeth, took a quick shower, and combed his hair before putting his basketball like shorts on and heading towards the front door.

After retrieving his morning paper, Ken Thomas went directly to the Kitchen Nook for his first cup of coffee. The coffee maker had been set to turn itself on and the coffee was waiting for Mr. Ken. The man got his favorite coffee cup and sat down to read his paper. The time was now 8:40 AM.

Opening up the newspaper, the man saw the morning headline:

Attempted Kidnapping Mars Carnival

The owner of The Cove immediately turned on the radio to try to hear what the local news radio was saying about what happened last night at The Cove and his annual carnival.

"… details are still a bit sketchy, this morning, about what really happened at Mr. Ken's Annual 4th of July Neighborhood Carnival last night. First reports say a group of bikers tried to crash the carnival but were not only rebuffed but were subsequently arrested for trespassing, and disturbing the peace and interfering with a police officer. Ultimately, two of them were also charged with possession of a deadly weapon. But that wasn't all that occurred at this year's Annual Carnival.

"Unnamed sources told radio station KBLY that late last night a young boy was brought into the local hospital emergency room after he reportedly was the kidnap victim from the carnival. Furthermore, other unnamed sources said the man had eluded detection by taking the boy to a darkened corner of the Three Finger Cove estate. Additionally, this station has learned that Mr. Ken's dog, who goes by the name of Chief, was injured when she attacked the kidnapper trying to distract the man so the lad could get away. We understand that her injury was non-life threatening and she was taken to the veterinarian hospital last night for stitches and observation.

"We further learned that the boy, who was involved in the alleged kidnapping, may have known his kidnapper. It is unsure this morning if the lad actually did know the person who has been identified as Larry 'Smokey' Mason by a Sheriff Barnes' spokesman. The spokesman continued to warn the public that the man is to be considered armed and dangerous and to call authorities if they see him. Also, the spokesperson for Sheriff Barnes told this radio station that an all-points bulletin has been released to all County police agencies about the man. Stay tuned to this radio station, KBLY, for further developments. This is Josh White reporting."

Mr. Ken was beside himself after hearing the reports of not only the biker incident but also of Charles almost being kidnapped. Mr. Ken was further amazed at the amount of detail that was in this morning's newspaper about what happened when the bikers tried to enter the carnival last night. As Mr. Ken continued to read the article about last night's incidents, at the 3rd Annual Three Finger Cove 4th of July Carnival, Collin and Ryan both entered the kitchen nook.

"Good morning Mr. Ken," said Collin. Morning Bro," said Ryan. "I hope you slept well last night."

"Morning boys. What are you two doing up so early, it's only 9 o'clock? And, no, I kind of tossed and turned all night thinking about what might've happened to Charles and, of course, knowing that Sheriff Barnes and DA Morris will be here at noon to question him. Now, on top of all that, the radio stations are reporting about the biker incident and the alleged kidnapping of Charles. At least they didn't use his name. Then, to add insult to injury, the newspaper this morning has an extensive article about what happened with the bikers and what they surmise happened in the alleged kidnapping of Charles last night. Boys … I believe we're in for a long day," offered Mr. Ken.

The two older teenagers stood there dumbfounded after hearing what Mr. Ken had to say to them about the radio station and newspapers' reports of the biker incident and the alleged kidnapping of their 'brother' Charles. They shook their heads at the unfairness of what was being reported, but their stomachs got the best of them and they began looking for something to eat.

About ten minutes later, the six additional house guests came walking into the Kitchen Nook, all looking hungry.

"Good morning, Mr. Ken," said Brad. That was followed by five additional 'Good Mornings' to the man.

The owner of The Cove greeted all six lads and then explained to them what was being said on the radio and what he had read in the newspaper. He then turned the radio on and all nine people in the Kitchen Nook sat and listened to radio station KBLY. The radio personality, Josh White, went through the same information he reported earlier, about the attempted biker crash of the carnival. He explained what happened and how and then he mentioned all of the biker names and nicknames.

On top of that, radio announcer Josh White surprised the entire group when he reported that his radio station just learned that the attempted kidnapping victim was reported to be a twelve year old boy. The man went on to explain where the kidnapper took the boy in the estate grounds in order to avoid detection but was ultimately found by Three Finger Cove's dog, Chief, who was injured in trying to rescue the boy herself. The nine people all looked shocked at the amount of detail he had.

Mr. Ken knew he needed to get the boys fed, cleaned up and out the door before the 'cavalry' arrived at noon. "Boys … today is Momma Maria's day off, so you'll have to fend for yourselves, I'm afraid," announced The Cove's owner.

"That's OK, Mr. Ken, I know where she keeps the frozen breakfast tacos," replied a laughing Brad.

"Oh, so you know where she keeps them?" asked Ryan. "I've been coming here for more than three years and I never found out where she keeps those awesome things. Will you show me so I know?" asked Ryan.

Collin laughed at his best friend and said, "I don't need to know where Momma Maria hides those things. I'm going to be away at college and so will you Ry. So, you don't need to know either."

Ken Thomas just smiled at the conversation between the younger teen and the two older ones. Then, he told the group, "Guys, I'd offer to take you out to the Diner but I'm having a lot of company later this morning and I definitely need to be here. Sorry!"

While the man was talking, Brad was busy going to the freezer in the pantry where Momma Maria always kept the spare breakfast tacos and other leftovers for use by the residents of The Cove when she wasn't there. Like today. The new teenager and his best friend, Gordon, were already getting the breakfast foods out.

"Who wants Bacon and Egg?" asked Brad. He got eight takers.

"Who wants Egg and Cheese?" asked Brad. He got five takers.

Brad asked the same question for Bean and Cheese, he got four takers; Potato and Cheese, he got four takers; and Bacon, Egg and Cheese, he got six takers. Now, he had to decide what he wanted for breakfast. He took one of each of the Egg, bacon and Cheese, Bean and Cheese, and Potato and Cheese combinations for himself. He handed half of the requests to Gordon and he picked up the rest and they headed over to the microwave.

"Ah … Mr. Ken … there are way too many breakfast tacos for us to heat them all at one time in the microwave. Can you help us get the convection oven setup so we can do all these tacos at one time?" asked Brad. Then, as Mr. Ken got the oven ready, Brad had the rest of the guys, wash their hands, then help unwrap the tacos and place them on a cookie sheet.

"Hey," called out Collin, "what about Robert, Eric and Charles. Aren't they gonna want something to eat when they get up?"

"Brad," said Mr. Ken, "would you please get three more Potato and Egg, three Bacon, Egg and Cheese and three more Bean and Cheese tacos out for those guys. With having to reheat 36 tacos, even with using the convection oven, it is going to take about 20 minutes. It's now going on 9:40 AM. Let's say we'll eat at 10. By then, if the boys aren't up, I'll go up and wake them and get them down here. Will that work for all you guys?"

"Bro, I'll go upstairs and start waking them up," said Collin. "I think they'll appreciate that I did it rather than, ahh, you. They may not want to get out of bed because of ahh … well, ahh, Robert told me something about their, ahh … their walking to the shower in the mornings when they were on the cruise ship." Collin then laughed, at the private joke only he, Bro, and Eric would only understand.

"Yes, Collin, go ahead … and tell them they can get their showers after they eat. That way we can all sit and eat and talk about what is going to happen today," agreed Mr. Ken.

Ryan wanted to go with his friend to wake the boys, but Collin asked him to hang back. The teenager didn't want to make a big deal out of getting them up and dressed for breakfast. Ryan said he understood and went back to the Kitchen Nook.

Collin saw that Charles' room was empty so he figured he slept in Robert's room. The teen did the Three Knock Rule but the lads were sleeping so sound he wound up walking into the bedroom after the third set of knocks. There, he found Robert sleeping with Charles, and with Eric sleeping alone.

Collin decided to wake Eric up first. "Hey, Eric … it's time to wake up, little brother." The teen then lightly shook the younger teen.

"Huh … whaa … why are you waking us up Col?" sleepily asked Eric, when he saw who was getting him up from his deep sleep. "Where's Chief … oh, yea … sorry," realized Eric.

"Hey little brother… Mr. Ken wants you guys up and dressed for breakfast and then you guys can take your showers," explained Collin. "How about you head to the bathroom and I'll get your roommates up."

Collin then turned to Robert and Charles. He saw that Robert had his arm around Charles in a protective like hug. He hated to wake them but knew Charles had an important meeting at noon and Mr. Ken wanted them down for breakfast.

"Hey, Robert … it's time to wake up," lightly announced the boy's new Big brother. "Ahh, Charles … it's time to get up my newest little 'brother'," said the teenager, while he lightly shook the twelve year old.

Robert began to stir and as he pulled his arm off his newest 'brother' and began to stretch, Charles began to stir, too, but he never really got out of his slumber. Charles just pulled the blanket up over his shoulder and went back to sleep.

Robert finished waking up and saw Collin looking down and over him. "Collin … did my 'dad' send you up to wake us?" asked Robert.

"Yes, little bro … he wants you three down for breakfast and he wants to talk about what's going to happen today. He said after that you guys can take your showers," explained Collin. "Eric is already using the bathroom and you should head there while I try to wake Charles up."

Robert got out from under the covers and headed to the boy's bathroom. Collin then sat down on the bed and turned Charles so the lad faced him.

"Charles … hey, my newest little 'brother' … it's time to wake up. Come on Charles … start waking up," encouraged Collin.

Charles stirred some then opened his eyes. When the pre-teen saw it was Collin who sitting on the edge of the bed he smiled. "Hi," said Charles. "What time is it?"

"Well … it's going on 10 o'clock," began the eighteen year old, "and Mr. Ken wants you three down for breakfast. He wants us all to eat together and then talk about what's going to happen today. You ready to get up?"

"NO … I'm not really ready to get up, but … I know I have to talk to the Sheriff and District Attorney guy," answered Charles. "What about me taking a shower before I go down there?"

"Naw … Bro wants you to take your shower after we all eat," replied Collin. "The breakfast tacos are in the oven, as we speak, and we need to hurry to get down there so the other guys don't eat everything. So … come on now … let's get you up and you visit the bathroom and get rid of your extra fluid."

As the older teen finished his reply, both Robert and Eric came back into the bedroom and began to get dressed in what they had worn the night before. Charles saw his new 'brothers' were getting ready to go downstairs, so he threw off the coves and headed to the bathroom. The twelve year old finished in record time and returned to his own bedroom and got dressed. The four lads headed downstairs together.

As Charles entered the Kitchen Nook, the other lads all stood up an applauded him. He didn't know what to do so he ran to his new foster dad and hugged him tight. Mr. Ken whispered something into his ear that calmed the boy down and then got him to release his hug.

"Thank you … ahh for doing that for me but … I'm no hero. Chief is the one who is the real hero. If it wasn't for her actions it is possible I could now be in the hospital myself, or… or dead," said Charles, as tears quickly slid from his eyes.

The group was very quiet right after Charles little speech. It was Robert who went up his new 'brother' and hugged him and patted him on his back. It was then the oven timer went off and Brad and Gordon sprang into action to get the tacos out before they burned.

"HEY!" yelled Brad. "Does anyone remember which tacos are which? I bet they're all mixed up, now, so if you bite into it … it's yours. So … if you don't like Bean and Cheese you'll want to cut it in half and trade with someone."

Gordon brought over two large trivets for the cookie sheet to rest on. He'd already passed out plates and silverware and he told everyone they had to get their own drink.

With that many hungry boys sitting around a table waiting for their food, you'd have thought they would all have grabbed at something when the food was placed down in front of them. That was not the case, that morning. They all sat there waiting for someone to make the first move. It was Logan who spoke up and suggested that Charles take the tacos he wanted. He then explained the five different available tacos and he'd be playing 'Russian roulette' in picking three that he may or may not like. That last part made everyone laugh. Charles took three off the cookie sheet and after that it was like a free-for-all with everyone reaching and grabbing their own three breakfast tacos.

Chuck was so hungry he didn't care what he got. He just wanted something in his stomach. Josh cut his three in half and then asked if anyone wanted a bean and cheese taco. Hearing no takers, he ate that taco, and his other two, as he was almost as hungry as Chuck. No one else was interested in trading off their tacos, including Mr. Ken, and other than twelve people eating there was practically no noise to speak of.

As The Cove's owner watched the boys eat their breakfast, he decided to wait until they were almost finished before he'd talk to them about all the people who would be at The Cove that day. Just as the boys were finishing up, the front door bell rang.

"I'll get it," called out Collin, who then got up and went towards the front door.

Two minutes later, Collin and Chief and the veterinarian came back to the Kitchen Nook.

"Chief," yelled Charles, when he saw the dog and then ran to her. "I didn't mean to hurt you … you gotta believe me, Chief. I'm so sorry you got hurt!" cried out the distraught lad.

Chief smiled when she saw Charles, knowing now that he wasn't hurt due to her actions. Her shoulder area was bandaged, from the previous evening's knife wound, and was too sore for her to jump up on her 'new' boy, so she sat. Charles got down to her level and gingerly hugged the dog. Chief showed how much she forgave him by all the doggie kisses she gave him.

The vet and Mr. Ken walked out of the Kitchen Nook and discussed Chief's injury and the care she needed to fully heal. While the adults were out of the room, the lads all got up and went to Chief and patted her on her back and thanked her for protecting their new friend and brother. Chief just sat there smiling from all the attention. When Mr. Ken came back, he asked all the lads to sit back down so he could talk to them.

"Guys, I want to thank all of you for the support you showed Charles this morning and all of your help in searching for him last night. No one could have ever fathomed something like that could have ever happened but … well, indeed it did.

"What Charles said last night, when he got home, was just a highlight of what happened at the hospital. The District Attorney wanted Charles to tell him everything he knew about his abductor and was actually going to hold him as a material witness. What you all don't know is that the man, Larry 'Smokey' Masson, was actually his mom's old boyfriend. That is why I think Smokey Masson tried to kidnap Charles here.

"Guys, last night, it was Judge Adam Richards who made it possible that Charles and I could come home, but … we had to agree to talk to all the principals later today. At noon, actually. Guys, I want you all to know that your names will more than likely come up when they question Charles, so you need to know that the Sheriff's office may stop by your homes and talk to you, at some time, too.

"You have nothing to be afraid of, or ashamed of, because you were with Charles at some time during the day. You did nothing wrong, but you need to let your parents know what may happen, later today, or, at least, within the next few days. If they do talk to you, just tell them what you guys did all day long and what happened when Charles went missing. And, please, let me know if the Sheriff's Deputies do talk to you.

"Now, guys, Charles and I need to get cleaned up and ready for our twelve noon meeting with the Sheriff and the DA and whomever else they bring along. If you need a ride home, Collin, or Ryan, will take you. Guys … I want you to know that I honestly do appreciate the friendship you showed not only Robert but how … but how you all accepted Charles as his new 'brother'.

"Fellas … it is this sort of friendship that can bloom and wind up lasting your lifetime. … I'm sure I'll see you all over here again, soon. Now, I don't want to make it seem like I'm kicking you out of here … but in reality … I am," laughed Mr. Ken, as he stood up and began to shake the hands of each of the lads.

Collin took Brad, Gordon, Chuck and Trevor, home, while Ryan took Cody, Logan and Eric home. While the two older teens were driving the younger lads home, Mr. Ken talked to Robert and Charles and explained what he thought would happen at twelve noon. He told Robert he probably would not be talked to today but may be asked questions later on. He also asked Charles to pick something nice to wear from the clothes he had. Then, Mr. Ken ruffled the boy's hair and said he was still committed to take him clothes shopping later that day. He then sent the boys up to shower and get dressed while he retired to his own en suite to finish getting ready himself.

Jules Diamond's men were on duty when Sheriff Barnes and DA Morris arrived to interview Charles, at ten minutes to noon. It didn't matter to the man at the gate who the two men in the county car were, he would not allow them into the estate grounds without approval of Mr. Thomas. Sheriff Detective Sergeant Brandt Matthias and Sheriff Detective William Roberts were also treated in the same manner. But Bill Jackson, Stewart Russell and Doctor Doug Jennings didn't have to wait for approval as Mr. Ken realized he should have already made those arrangements and did so after the second group appeared. All the principals were present and the noon meeting would soon begin.

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