Castle Roland

Three Finger Cove - Robert
Book II

by Chowhound


Chapter 12

Posted: 23 Jul 15

Three Finger Cove – Robert

Copyright © 2012 - 2015
by Chowhound
All rights reserved

Ms. Judy didn't like the idea of Eric going over on a 'school night' so she suggested the coming weekend. On Saturday, bright and early, Eric came over to Three Finger Cove. His mom brought him over and the two then joined Mr. Ken and Robert in an early Momma Maria breakfast.

"So, how are you and Mr. Ken getting along?" asked Ms. Judy, not wanting to waste an opportunity to see how things were going in case she needed to find another home for the lad.

"I like Mr. Ken but I can't say the same thing for Ms. Johnston," answered Robert.

"Ohhh," remarked Judy Turner.

"Yea … she doesn't like me much. Does she, Mr. Ken?" responded Robert.

"Do tell, Mr. Ken," chided Ms. Judy.

"There's nothing to tell, Ms. Judy. Robert's unannounced arrival sort of threw Millie for a loop there and she says she didn't have an opportunity to get ready for him. There was a little misunderstanding in the beginning, but I think, over time, things will work out between them," noted Mr. Ken.

The eat-in-kitchen got awfully quiet after the man's remark as no one spoke a word of rebuttal over it. Everyone just sat there enjoying Momma Maria's wonderful breakfast fare.

"May we be excused?" asked Eric, for Robert and himself.

"What have you two planned for the day?" asked Ms. Judy.

Robert quickly responded, "Eric is going to first help me get my homework started. I don't know how my teacher wants things done, you know, how things are turned in to her. Then, Eric is going to tell me all about Three Finger Cove and show me all the good hiding spots," kidded the lad, as he looked to Mr. Ken.

"Okay, you two, if Eric doesn't know the truth about the shooting, then you come and get me. You hear me, Eric?" Mr. Ken stated matter-of-factly.

"Yes, sir, I hear you," replied Eric, as the two boys left the kitchen.

"Are you okay with Eric being with Robert, Judy?" seriously asked Mr. Ken. "You know more about the lad than I do and … well, aren't you afraid he could … naww, what was I thinking. Robert was concerned that you told Eric all about him and he would tell all the kids at school about him. That was why I called the other night and Eric assured me you didn't tell him anything even though he tried," laughed Mr. Ken.

"I wondered what the call was all about and now that you mention it … well, Eric knows not to ask me about the kids we help. He knows I won't tell him anything and that what the kids want to tell him is up to them. I take it Robert hasn't said anything to Eric then?" finished Judy Turner.

"Not that I am aware of, but again, they've only known each other since lunch time at school on Monday. I don't think they've had much time to get to know one another as of yet. It does seem they have hit it off, as friends, almost like Collin and Ryan did," offered Ken Thomas. Then the man asked, "Can you tell me anything about those women who worked Robert's case?"

"I'm not too worried about Eric and Robert being friends. Eric seemed excited when he told me he had met someone who said he was living with Mr. Ken. That's when he started to badger me to tell him about the lad. As for those so-called women, things at work are a mess and it's all due to those two who worked Bobby, I mean Robert's case. Maybe we could go into your Study and talk. That way no prying ears can hear what I am telling you."

As Judy and Ken sat in Ken's Study, Robert and Eric sat in Robert's bedroom talking and starting Robert's homework assignments.

"So, Eric, tell me what's so real good about Mr. Ken," Robert wanted to know.

"Robert, Mr. Ken doesn't yell … at anyone. At least that I know of. He has what people would call an even disposition. Also, he's taken me all over the place and he's treated me just as good as he did both of my 'big brothers'."

"Mr. Ken mentioned something about you guys calling each other 'big' and 'little' brothers. Last weekend, I met Ryan and he tried to explain it to me. Can you tell me how you see it," asked Robert.

For the next twenty minutes, Eric tried to explain how he saw what Mr. Ken meant about the lads calling each other 'brother'. He also told Robert about the trips the man took them on and how he made sure they all felt welcome and 'loved'.

Robert had already made up his mind that he was going to stay at Three Finger Cove, but he still had questions about the way the man acted around the boys.

"You mean he never came into your shower or bathroom when you were in there?" asked a skeptical Robert, trying to confirm what he initially thought about the man.

"No, why … why would he do a thing like that?" now asked a hesitant Eric.

"Doesn't it seem strange that a man …, an unmarried man … has all these young boys and teens around him?" asked a suspicious Robert.

"Hey … I don't know why you think the way you do and I don't know where you are coming from but believe me when I say that Mr. Ken did not do anything to any of us, if that's what you mean," argued Eric.

"Ryan and Collin could tell you more about him, since they did more things with him that I ever did, but any time I was with him he never tried to do anything with or to me. One time, when he took us out to California … Ryan and Collin … well, they were in the shower together and I tried to shower with Mr. Ken but he wouldn't let me. He said something about that … that people wouldn't understand or wouldn't like it if an older guy, him, and an unrelated younger boy, me, showered together.

"When I told him I wouldn't tell anyone, he told me that he still wasn't going to let me shower with him, because 'we weren't even brothers which would have sorta made it okay'. So, he made me go back to the guys and tell them to hurry up and let me use the shower" Eric tried to clarify.

The two boys just sat and stared at one another after their little exchange about what Mr. Ken did or did not do with any of the boys. Eric had never thought about any of what Robert might possibley be accusing Mr. Ken of doing to him or his 'big' brothers.

Then Eric thought about it a bit more and asked, "Hey … what's this all about? Are you saying you are afraid Mr. Ken is gonna do something to you?"

Robert felt somewhat better after hearing what Eric had to say about his foster dad and it helped prove what Mr. Ken told HIM about never ever wanting to ever do that sort of thing with him.

So to answer Eric's question, Robert said, "I was just curious, you know, as why your mom brought me to a house, you know, that only has a single guy in it. I thought that I'd have both a foster dad and foster mom. And you know what they tell us at school about 'stranger danger' and that sort of stuff, so I … I thought … I'd … ask you."

Eric took a few moments to think about what Robert just told him and then responded by saying, "OK … I sort of understand why you would wonder about that, but … you're gonna find that Mr. Ken is all what I said he is and more. You're really gonna love living here because I know he's gonna want to take care of you as he did Collin. And, I bet he'll treat you like you are his 'little brother' or even maybe … as his 'son', kinda. Has he, Mr. Ken, showed you around the whole place yet?"

"No, he started to but we … he and I went to his Study to talk. Then, that Friday, I met Ryan and he showed me around some and then Mr. Ken came out and joined us and told me more about the place. But, I'm not sure if I really finished the tour, as he called it," confessed Robert.

"Okay, then, let me finish the tour for you. I know my way around the entire house and I bet after you see everything this place has to offer you'll be glad that you got to live here. And in the meantime, my bet is that you'll see nothing will ever happen between you and Mr. Ken and you'll be happy you got to stay here. Come on now. Let's get a move on and let me show you around," assured Eric.

The two boys, and one dog, exited Robert's room and they began a tour of the entire upstairs. After they'd seen the six sibling's bedrooms, the separate boys' and girls' bathrooms as well as the guest suites, Eric took Robert downstairs and showed him the large indoor pool and locker area even though Robert had seen that already.

Eric told the newest member of The Cove about what he, Eric, said about all the boys having the 'same equipment' after one Holiday party. The two had a good laugh about that and then Eric told Robert how the teens explained about changing in the locker room. He told Robert how the younger boys got to see how big the teens 'equipment' was but that they all did a 'turn-around' before they got their suits on.

The laughs they had together and the stories that brought on all those laughs were just the thing that brought Robert out of his gloom over Mr. Ken and what he might and might not do.

Eric continued to show Robert around the house and while he did that he showed and explained, what he knew, about what happened during the shooting to the newbie. They then got their coats on and went outside to look at things out back and down at the docks.

Up in the Study, Ms. Judy finished telling Ken Thomas all she knew about the things that happened to his new foster son, Robert.

"Judy, have the parents said anything as to why they did what they did to their only son?" asked an unbelieving Mr. Ken.

"Well … the mother said she didn't know anything about what her husband was doing to the boy … but when pressed and asked how they got all that money they now had and where did it came from she broke down, Dan Fischer told her," explained Judy Turner.

"What was the first foster dad's excuse for do what he did to Robert?" Mr. Ken wanted to know.

"His excuse … was that Robert came on to him and wanted him to do those things since he liked what the other guys did to him. We don't buy that and neither do Sheriff Barnes and Dan Fischer," answered Judy. "They are still doing their investigation about him."

"I suppose those teenagers at that last house thought the same thing when he was sent there? And how was it that he was ever sent to a place with so many foster kids already?" demanded Ken Thomas.

"That's where the problems with our case worker's lie. We're all over worked with too many cases and they just dropped the ball when it came to Robert."

"That's NO excuse, Judy and YOU know IT!" a very loud Ken Thomas said, letting some steam off from the abuse he now knew happened to Robert A. Harrison.

The two adults sat there, in silence, with their own thoughts.

Then, in a minute or two, Mr. Ken spoke up and said, "I'm sorry for my outbreak, there, Judy. I know you are doing the best you can do and … well; I shouldn't have taken it out on you, personally. Those other women … they are the ones to blame and they should be punished for all their wrongdoings. … They WILL be punished won't they, Judy?" a hopeful Ken Thomas asked.

Judy Turner took a few moments to compose and to think through her answer. She knew Ken Thomas could make BIG trouble for her and her department if he 'wanted to' because of his connections with the governor and other well-known movers and shakers in the area. But she knew Ken Thomas, for quite some time now, and felt she could give him a truthful answer and he'll accept it as long as it is the Truth.

"Ken, all I can and will say is that … at this time," began Judy Turner, Director of Child Protective Services, "an investigation is ongoing into those two caseworkers and what they knew and when they knew it and, of course, why they did what they did and or didn't do. For right now, they have been placed on administrative duty verses being sent home on suspension with pay."

"At least they aren't destroying any other child's life," remarked a somber Mr. Ken.

"Ken … Ken I know it's been almost ten days or so, but … are you and Robert … are you two having any problems? Has he mentioned anything about wanting to stay here?" asked Ms. Judy.

"There were some, let me call them growing pains," began Ken Thomas, "He is still trying to get settled and into a routine here in this big house. Why do you ask?" finished up Mr. Ken.

"Well, I guess from what Robert said at the breakfast table I …. I take it there are some problems going on," replied Judy.

"Yes, there were a few problems but they weren't between me and the lad but were … are between Mildred and Robert. You heard how she talked to him that first night. Well, the next morning she slapped him, but hard … and would have done it again if I hadn't stopped her. I've had two discussions with her about her actions and treatment of Robert and all I can hope is that I nipped it in the bud," explained the owner of Three Finger Cove.

"What was her excuse for slapping the boy?" asked a curious Ms. Judy.

"She said she was defending herself against what Robert had said about her. Then, the two almost got into a shouting match and that's when she tried to hit him again and I stopped it. … You know … Robert gave as good as he got against Mildred. From his actions and refusal to back down, I think he is going to begin defending himself against anyone who mistreats him from now on. He's had so much done to him, without anyone defending him, that … well, that's what I feel," fully explained Mr. Ken.

"But what about you and him," asked Ms. Judy?

"Well, we've gotten along fairly well since his arrival. Sure, there have been moments during the first few days that we didn't see eye-to-eye but … well, we've sat down and talked a number of times and I believe things will work out after his two weeks are up. We've gone to the Go-Karts and Miniature Golf place and DQ and even the Four Corner's Diner and restaurant for a few meals, last weekend. He thoroughly enjoyed shopping for clothes as I let him pick what he wanted to wear. He also had some bad preconceptions that I hope we've gotten through," explained Ken Thomas.

"Oh … he had some preconceived ideas? Do tell!" requested Judy Turner.

Ken wondered if he should tell the woman about the incident in the shower and then figured she didn't have a 'need to know' that since it was a 'non' event, he decided to tell her about Roberts questions about his being single and how they didn't explain it very well to the lad about his situation.

The two adults apologized to each other about the quick hand-off of the lad and chalked it up to not thinking things through and being in such a hurry to get Robert a place to live. Ms. Judy accepted the major part of that blunder and promised she would not let that ever happen again with any other boy or girl. In the end, the two adults were satisfied that Robert was acclimating well to Mr. Ken and Three Finger Cove.

Outside, the boys, along with their constant companion, Chief, walked around the grounds and Eric showed Robert all the pertinent places he needed to know about. The two also went down to the docks and Eric tried to explained why the call the property Three Finger Cove but Robert told him that he'd already met Ryan and that he explained it to him already.

Then Eric began to describe the type of boats docked there and what they, he and Ryan and Mr. Ken did during the summers on the lake but when Robert began to say something, Eric finished it by saying, 'that Ryan had told him some about it'. The two boys laughed at what just happened and walked back up to the house.

Robert came away from their exploration and talks more impressed with Three Finger Cove but especially with its owner, Mr. Ken Thomas. The preteen had gotten information he knew he'd never had gotten from the man himself and was grateful Eric had been there to fill him in on those things which gave him a better perspective on the place and his new 'dad'.

It was near noon time when the boys entered the Study and were greeted by their respective parent with a big hug. Eric was a little embarrassed to get a hug in front of his new friend while Robert enjoyed his hug since he hadn't really had any in all the time he'd been in foster care. Well, except for those Mr. Ken gave him.

"Well, Eric, what do you say we leave these two alone so they can use the weekend to get to know one another better?" asked Judy out of the blue.

Eric hadn't figured he'd be leaving so soon since they hadn't been there all that long and said so.

"Listen up young man, you may be close to being a teenager but you ain't there yet and if you don't listen you may not live to get there," teased Judy, as she hugged her son, again.

"Moooom," complained Eric. "Not in front of … well, you know."

He no sooner got that out when Mr. Ken went over to him and hugged him as well.

Robert just stood and laughed at Eric for acting the way he did about getting hugs. Then, in a spur of the moment, and not thinking of what he was going to say he opened his mouth and said, "I don't know what you're complaining about Eric. I should be so lucky. I haven't had my mom hug me for over a year or more."

That said, it got awfully quiet in the Study. Eric recognized the quiet and began looking around and as he did he noticed that tears began to leak down his new friend's checks. It didn't take long for Mr. Ken to see them also and he grabbed the boy and hugged him close to himself. It may have still been quiet in that room, but for Robert, he felt safe and wanted.

"We'll see ourselves out Ken. Come on Eric," said Ms. Judy. The two then walked out of the room while the man and boy stood together in their hug.

Although he was enjoying the hug, his nose was running and he needed a tissue so Robert pulled out of the hug and said, "Thanks. That felt nice. Now, where are some tissues?" sniffled the preteen.

The two laughed at what Robert just said and Ken pulled a box of tissues out of his desk and offered them to the lad.

"Here … use these instead of my shirt, thank you," teased Mr. Ken.

When the lad was finished cleaning his nose, Mr. Ken asked the lad, "You want to maybe … talk about what happened there?"

The lad and Mr. Ken sat down in the Study and talked for about 40 minutes. The boy didn't pour his heart out to Mr. Ken but he did reveal how difficult it was for him ever since he was taken away from his parents. He came to know that what his parents did to him was wrong, but he stated that it had been much better living with them than in all those different houses.

Ken decided that their talk was more useful than not and looking at the time asked the newest member of Three Finger Cove what he would like for lunch. He explained he gave Maria the weekend off, after breakfast, and they had to 'fend' for themselves.

"Again?" asked a smiling Robert. "Well, anyway, I don't know where we could go. I'm still not familiar with this area," continued the still smiling Robert.

"Hmmm," began Mr. Ken, "I'm sure there are lots of the same places to eat around here as there was where you lived before plus we can go to the places we did last weekend."

"There may have been but I never got to go any of them. When I asked about going out to eat, they told me that I'd eat what they gave me or not eat at all," answered Robert.

"Dang, that wasn't very nice was it? … Well, if you had a chance to pick one where would you like to go? If they don't have one nearby I'll tell you and you can choose another," said Mr. Ken.

"How about In N Out®, I heard they have real good hamburgers?" suggested the preteen.

"Sorry, son, that's a California hamburger place and they haven't gotten to our part of Texas yet. Pick another one."

"How about Hardee's®?"

"Never heard of them … at least this far south."

How about Five Guys® or Checkers® or A&W® even," suggested the lad?

"I've never heard of those first two places here in Texas, but I know they have the joint A&W and Long John Silver's® fast food restaurants around here. But tell me Robert, where did you ever hear of those other places like Hardee's, Checker's and Five Guys and have you Ever eaten at any of them?" inquired Mr. Ken.

"Sure, I've eaten at all of them," proudly answered Robert. Then he got this sick feeling in his stomach as if he had said something he shouldn't have.

"Did your parents take you to California and that's why you know about those places?" asked the man.

Robert didn't know what or even IF he should tell the man. A few of the men, who paid his parents to do things with him, were the ones who took him out to California and it was out there they ate at those and many other different fast food restaurants. They also told the boy NOT to tell anyone not only what they did together but threatened him with grave consequences if he ever told what they did or where they had gone

Ken saw some hesitancy in Robert's face, so he put his hands on the boy's shoulders and looked into the boy's eyes and said, "Hey, Robert, there is no need for you to be afraid to tell me how it is that you ate there. If it's because you're afraid to tell, because the men who did all those things with you threatened you, I want you to know that I am NOT going to let anyone do anything to hurt you, ever! I mean that. I'll do whatever I need to do and spend any amount of money to make sure you are safe!"

Robert was listening to Mr. Ken and let his mind run away faster than he could hear and when Mr. Thomas was finished the lad forced out, "Like you did with Collin?" When he heard himself say those words, Robert became ashamed of himself and said softly, "I really didn't mean to say that Mr. Ken. It … it just came out. … I … I'm sorry." And the boy's eyes began to leak, again.

Ken pulled the boy to himself and hugged him and let the boy work out his decision. In a few minutes, Robert pulled out of the hug and said, "Mr. Ken … I truly am sorry for what I said. My mouth sometimes works faster than my mind and I say things I didn't mean to say, but … but by then it is too late to do anything about them. I really am sorry."

Robert, "I am not mad at you for what you just said. These last few months have been hard on you and every time you are sent to live someplace else things didn't seem to go all that well. But, you're now here at Three Finger Cove and I intend to help you through this tough time in your life and to help get you back on a steady and even footing and see to it that you become the person I know you can be. … But you know, don't you," began Mr. Ken.

"Know, what," asked Robert?

"That Collin never got hurt here … at Three Finger Cove. Remember, it was me … I was the one who got shot, not Collin. And Robert … if I have to do the same thing to ensure you have a better life and a good home … I'd do the same for you!"

Hearing those last few words 'I'd do the same for you', Robert saw in the man's eyes that he meant it and Robert leaped into the man's arms and began to cry.

"Oh, Mr. Ken … why weren't you my real father from the beginning?" cried the boy, into the man's shoulder. Mr. Ken held the boy tight and rubbed the lad's back as a way of trying to calm Robert down.

It took Robert a few minutes to calm himself down and it was during those few minutes of being held and comforted that Robert decided to trust the man and to tell him the full story about the places he had eaten out in California.

Taking his seat and indicating to Mr. Ken to take his seat, Robert began to tell his story.

"Mr. Ken, yes … I didn't want to tell you about how I knew about all those places out in California because … well, those men took me there to do stuff to me because they weren't known out there and when we had to eat they took to me different places every time. That's why I know so much about the burger places out there. … And I am still very sorry about what I said about you and Collin. I really didn't mean that. I hope you won't send me away. I'll TRY harder; I will," a somber Robert said.

"Okay, Robert, I believe you, I really do and I also know it took lots of courage to tell me what you just did, being under the stress of knowing those men will want to hurt you in some way if they found out you told. Thank you for trusting me.

"As Collin began to heal and we became more like 'Big Brother – Little Brother' he would tell me things. I think I told you that it was down in the Theater that the two of us would watch movies and he would reveal stuff to me. He too was under a lot of stress knowing those men DID try to kill him, not only the night of that huge storm but the day after Thanksgiving. Over time, Collin did trust me more and more and the more he revealed to me the easier it was for him to talk to Doctor Doug and the police as well.

"You see Robert … he became to understand that if he didn't tell, what he knew to the right people, those men would get off scott free and he didn't want that to happen. I also know that over time he was able to heal mentally because he talked about what happened to him openly and he came to know that he was NOT at fault for anything that happened to him. I hope that over time you, too, may come to that same realization after your talks with Doctor Doug and will make sure none of those men, who abused you, will ever go scott free."

Robert sat in his soft and comfortable leather chair thinking through what Mr. Ken just said to him. He knew he had to tell what happened to him, but he also felt scared at the thought of what people would think about him and also what they would say about him behind his back afterwards. He had already talked to the police a few times and he mentioned almost the same things to Mr. Ken, when they talked that first time, but he also knew there was much, much more he could tell but he was scared and didn't know what to do.

"Mr. Ken … did Collin … did he ever have to go to court and … you know … tell what had happened to him," asked Robert.

"No, Robert, he never had to actually say anything in court. In the end, the men knew they were guilty and took a plea bargain. That meant they got a lighter but still lengthy sentence, rather than take their chances and get a much longer sentence from a trial," explained Mr. Ken.

"Do you think that could … well, could that happen with me, too?" asked a hopeful Robert.

"I really can't say at this time, Robert. I don't know everything about your situation and … well, I don't want to say something and get your hopes up and then you still have to go to court.

"All I will say is … is that you need to talk to people so you get everything off your chest and get comfortable hearing yourself saying those things out loud. People like Doctor Doug, over time, can help you talk about what happened to you so you can get comfortable with then talking and telling more of your story to the detectives and even possibly me.

"I know from observing Collin and seeing how his talking to others helped him to stop blaming himself and that he was no longer afraid of the men, and what they could do to him, or of what other people would say or believe. It didn't happen overnight, mind you, but it did work over the long term. Do you think you understand what I am trying to tell you, Robert?" sincerely asked Mr. Ken.

"Yes … I know what you're saying but … I'm still scared of what people will think when they find out and … and that those men … they could come and try to kill me too like those men tried to kill Collin," remarked the lad.

Upon hearing what Robert just said, Ken went to the lad and pulled him into a hug trying to make the boy feel secure and that he could trust him and to know that he, Mr. Ken, would help all along the way.

"So, now … what do you say we go out and have lunch? My treat!" teased the man.

Robert heard the teasing in the man's voice so he said, "Okay ... I'll let you pay."

Ken ruffled the boy's hair, and smiled at his antics, and then told the lad to go do what might be needed to be done and to wash his face and hands, which Robert then added, "up to their elbows." The two laughed at that and then the two went their separate ways after agreeing to meet in the Foyer in about ten minutes.

The boy took off, like a flash, to go to his room and as he was moving fast, he faintly heard, "And don't RUN!"

The two hungry members of The Cove wound up at McDonald's. It was agreed that it had the best selection of what each wanted so that's why they stopped there. Mr. Ken got a side salad and McDouble, hold the cheese, and coffee while Robert got the 10 piece chicken McNuggets with honey mustard, fries, and a large soda.

The two found an open booth in the back corner and then sat opposite of one another as they ate their meals. Mr. Ken felt it was up to him to start a conversation with the lad, but he didn't want to focus on anything they talked about that morning.

"So, Robert … it appears that you and Eric are fast becoming friends," stated Mr. Ken, without requiring a response from the preteen.

"Yea, I kinda like him. He was the only one who sat with me at lunch, that first day, and he talked with me on the bus that day, too," said Robert with his mouth half full.

Ken smiled at the boy and replied, "Don't speak with your mouth full, young man." He then had to laugh when the boy came right back at him and said "Well … you did."

"Okay … you're right, I shouldn't have either. … So … let me ask you … have any of the kids at school asked you where you live yet?" inquired the man.

"Actually, no, no one has, but yesterday; when I got off the bus I saw a few of them looking at me and the direction I was going. I know eventually someone will ask me but … well, I'll just tell them what you said I could and leave it at that. Anyways, Eric told me he has 'my back' at school and if anyone gives me a hard time to let him know."

"Well, it looks like Eric is going to be a good friend to you, that is, if you want him as a good friend," said Ken Thomas.

"Yeah … as I said I kinda like Eric. He's easy to talk with and he knows a lot about Three Finger Cove and he sort of filled me in," answered Robert in reply.

"He sort of filled you in, huh? How'd he do that, if I may ask?" said Mr. Ken.

"I won't get him into trouble, will I, if I tell you what he said?" asked the lad.

"No, not unless he told you the combination to the wine cellar, which I don't think he knows anyway," teased back Mr. Ken.

"Oh, okay then … Eric told me about the day he met Collin and what he knew about the shooting. He then told me about some of the parties you had here. Damn, ahh sorry, I meant to say darn … well, anyway those must have been some awesome parties with all that food and the bands and everything. He even told me about the swim parties and what he said about, well you know, about what guys all have … you know the same equipment," smiled Robert, as he said the last part.

Ken smiled back at the boy and said, "Oh, yes, you should have seen how red in the face he went when he felt he had said something wrong. You have to know that there were about a dozen adults there along with about sixteen kids in age from ten to sixteen. We all had a good laugh at Eric's expense. Did he tell you about the Christmas parties?"

"Yea, those must have been something special, especially the New Year's Eve parties, with all those fireworks. I sure wish I could have seen them," the excited lad responded.

"Well, since it sounds as if you want to remain here at Three Finger Cove, you'll not only get to see them you'll also be a part of the committee who gets to work on those parties and not just the Holiday ones. We also do a 4th of July Picnic and an Easter Egg Hunt here on the grounds. There will be smaller parties that you'll invite your friends over to swim and maybe to use the lake side beach.

"One thing we'll also do is sail the lake and you'll get the opportunity to steer the boat. And then there are the WaveRunner's. You'll have to take the Boating Safety Class before you can drive one of those. Just ask Eric about them. He had a blast with his 'big brothers' out on the lake while using them. He knows how to drive them very well," explained the man to the boy.

"He even gets to drive them?" asked an unbelieving Robert.

"Oh, yes, he does. You'll get to see this spring, actually, but only after you take and pass the Boating Safety Course," reminded the man.

The two talked and ate and soon finished their lunch and as they drove off Mr. Ken asked Robert, if he liked DQ. The smile on the lad's face got to be a 'mile' wide upon hearing they were going to Dairy Queen. Even though they had just eaten a fairly large lunch, Robert knew he still had room for ice cream.

Lunch, ice cream and just driving around to acquaint the youth with the area brought the duo home well after 4 PM. Ken asked the youngster if he and Eric got all the homework finished and learning they hadn't finished everything, Mr. Ken asked the lad to get to it since they didn't have any more plans for the rest of the day.

Later that evening, as the two ate a makeshift dinner creation by Mr. Ken, since Mr. Thomas let Maria go home right after breakfast, their discussion hovered around school and the lad's homework assignments. Robert readily agreed that it would be best to continue the habit of accomplishing that task, as soon as possible, after he arrived home from school.

Robert quickly explained that his real dad made sure he did it before any of his 'friends' came over to the house to take him some place. He also said he'd do that at his other foster homes since it kept him out of the way.

Ken was still trying to figure out how he could get the boy to open up even more so he recommended they both go down to the Theater and watch a movie. When they got down there Ken gave Robert the choice of movies and then showed him how to set up the projector and sound system so he would know how when it was just he and his friends.

As they settled to watch the movie, Mr. Ken went to his own 'special' recliner and this time Robert took one of the other loungers. Ken was a bit disappointed the lad didn't come and sit with him but he knew everything was so new to the lad he didn't need to upset him with the offer to watch the movie from the man's better viewing area.

Half way through the film, Ken asked the boy if he wanted any popcorn. Getting a positive response, the man toggled the remote to pause the film and he then invited the lad to learn how to do that little chore. It didn't take long for the boy to learn to operate the popcorn machine and before long the two of them had their own bucket of warm and buttered popcorn.

Then, not too long after, Robert asked if he could sit with his new foster dad for the rest of the movie. Mr. Ken didn't say a word but he did move to the side to make room for the newest member of The Cove.

"Thanks!" said Robert, as he got settled in.

It was 10 PM when Ken Thomas opened his eyes to see the movie was over and he and Robert had fallen asleep. The man smiled as he looked down at his new charge and wished he could let the lad continue to sleep but was afraid the lad wasn't too familiar with the home yet to allow him to do that.

"Robert," lightly called Mr. Ken as he slightly shook the twelve year old.

"Oh, hi, Mr. Ken, did I fall asleep?" asked the yawning youngster.

"Well, we both fell asleep and missed the ending," smiled the man, as he answered the lad's question.

"What time is it?" asked Robert.

It's after 11 PM. Do you want to finish watching the movie or do you want to go up to your room and go to bed?" inquired the man.

"If you don't mind … I'd like to go up to bed. I must really need my sleep since I've been sleeping so good lately," asked Robert.

"Sure, no problem," teased the foster dad. "What say you try to sleep in tomorrow and get caught up on your sleep as you have another full week of school coming up!"

Robert knew the man was teasing so all he did was hug the man and as he got out of the man's special Theater chair and then said, "Thank you for everything, Mr. Ken. Eric told me some things today that helped me make up my mind about staying."

"Oh," was all Mr. Ken said.

"Yes, and if you don't mind … can we talk about it tomorrow?" asked the yawning lad.

"Sure … now get to bed. And thank you, too," replied The Cove's owner.

"You're thanking me?" asked Robert, "for what?"

"For that hug … and for you being you," smiled the still lying down man.

Robert smiled at what he just heard and then called Chief to go with him.

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