Castle Roland


by Kyle Aarons

In Progress

Chapter 4

Posted: N/A

Destiny's Shadow

Copyright © 2011 - 2015 by
Kyle Aarons

Cinder pulled out into traffic, noting the heavy rains of the prior night had washed a get deal of trash into low lying areas. He had to swerve once to avoid a pair of kids digging in one of the washed out areas who were looking for cans or other treasures to sell, but all in all the streets was pretty quiet for a Saturday. For Cinder's mind set, it was perfect. The events of the past eighteen hours where overwhelming him and his only way to sort it out in his own mind was to drive.

There was, first and foremost, Drake. The boy needed to be in school, and there was no way he was going to put Drake back into the public system. This meant private school and until today he never thought about adding private schools into his nationwide search, so, in addition to finding one for Drake he had a great deal of data to gather and new computers to hack.

Did the kids from private schools who took the tour at the museum get invitations to Kansas City? They would have to, if the government really was trying to track all mentalist children. Since he was certain this was the case, then how did the government handle the funding? It couldn't be though normal channels, because there would be the big blow up from separation of church and state idiots about public money going to private, mostly religion oriented schools. Was it possible one of the connections he needed to unravel the whole program was there?

At the same time he realized he had to deal with Braeden as well, the kid was smart and resourceful, but was still a kid. There was no way in hell he was going to let the boy drive himself, let alone Drake in the piece of shit he currently drove. Over time that could be corrected, but in as bad of shape as the station wagon was in, it would take weeks before he would let either boy inside it. This meant he had to get a car for Braeden, and get one fast. This also meant insurance... Did Bray even know how to drive a stick? Not knowing limited his choices to automatic transmission vehicles.

The more he thought about it, the more he realized he could no longer rely on his bike for everything either. There would be times he would have both Drake and Braeden with him. He couldn't take both of them on the bike with him. He realized he could simply get one car for Bray and when needed they could all take it, but the problem was, taking Drake on the bike when it was raining or snowing could prove problematic, especially if he had to drop the boy off at some private school. He didn't have much in the way of social graces, but even Cinder realized it would not go over well to drop an eight year old off at school dripping wet, cold, and shivering because he had come to school on a Harley, no matter how nice the Harley was.

He grumbled as he took a random turn onto a street he didn't think he had ever bothered to check out before. His cash supply was in good shape, but it wasn't going to last long with all the shit he would need to properly care for two kids. The two cars would probably run thirty to fifty grand and he had no idea what a private school would cost, but he guessed it wouldn't be cheap. He mentally ran down a list as he realized he would have to hit a couple of drug houses over the next couple of nights to get his cash levels up to where he had a decent reserve.

Maybe it was the fact he was thinking about the two boys he was responsible for or the fact part of him realized kids were pretty cool little creatures, but for whatever reason he took a second look as he saw a rather nice car hit a kid on a bike then speed up to leave the area. Normally, this was something he would shrug off and file in the category of, 'shit happens' but this time it registered more on the lines of someone being mugged at knife point.

The Harley jumped under his experienced hands and within seconds caught up to the fancy BMW. He tried twice to wave the guy over and even pointed at his gun the second time, but the car just sped up. A bit of a snarl escaped Cinder's lips as the Harley under him leapt forward, easily passing the smug bastard behind the wheel of his dark blue and polished chrome sports car. Getting to the end of the street, he spun his bike sideways blocking a good portion of it, pulled out his Desert Eagle and fired a single shot taking out the left front tire of the car.

The car's driver looked on in terror, at seeing the gun aimed at his car. The shot caused his hands to leave the steering wheel as he used his arms to cover his face. With no one to control it and its left front tire gone, it jerked hard to the left, bounced over the curb, and slammed into a small tree. The few people within earshot in this poor area were quick to seek cover. Realizing a gunshot when they heard one was a simple matter of survival and there was no question this had been a hell of a big gun dong the shooting.

Cinder slammed his pistol into his holster as he made his way up to the car. Before the man' who still had an airbag in his face could recover; Cinder's fist punched through the safety glass, grabbed him by the shirt, and yanked him out through the window. "You just hit a kid, asshole!"

"It was an accident! I swear!"

"You fucking rich idiots with your money, think you can do anything and get away with it, pathetic..." Cinder muttered as he tossed the guy a good five yards so he landed hard on his back then moved over to the BMW. "Well, let's put this into some kind of perspective." He punched out the back window of the car. "How do you feel about me doing this to your ride, dumb-ass!"

The guy's eyes went wide as he saw the small guy move away from the shattered back window and walk around only kick the side panel hard enough to leave a large dent, "Come on!" the man begged. "Stop! What the hell do you want!" He dug into his pants and pulled out a money clip full of cash, offering it to Cinder.

"You really are a stupid prick. I don't want your cash! If you had pulled over and done right by the kid none of this would be happening right now. I gave you two chances too, and for me, two is being really fucking kind.

"Look at me, do I look like I need to roll dumb rich assholes? Hell my bike is worth almost as much of this German piece of crap, and if you don't wise up it will soon be worth more than this imported hunk of metal. Plus, look at my rigging, how many people, even down here, walk around with this kind of hardware showing? I'm licensed to carry, and I have a shoot to protect permit too, so I could have just shot your ass since you hit a kid. But, unfortunately, there is way too much paperwork when I shoot one of you rich pricks, so you have really gotten off easy up to this point. I could still shoot you, and it is very tempting, by the way."

The guy stayed down, too afraid to find out what would happen if he did try to stand. "OK, I'll make it right; just tell me what you want!"

"Do I really need to spell this out for you, jack wad?"

"Come on," the now crying man pleaded, "What do I do to make it right?"

Cinder slapped his forehead. "You really are too stupid to be rich. Fine, I'll spell it out nice and slow so even you can figure it out.

"While I change your tire, you walk your bawling ass back down two blocks, turn left and find the kid you just hit. You see if he is hurt, pay to fix him up if needed, and buy him a new fucking bike. If you really want to get off my shit list, you will take him and his whole family out for a very nice meal and get them enough groceries to feed them all for the next month. If you totally want me to forget I ever saw you, then you will figure out a way to sponsor the kid so he gets the nice kind of childhood I am sure you had. Any questions or do I continue to remodel your car?"

The guy swallowed hard, "You want me to walk in this neighborhood?"

Cinder's head slowly tilted to the right while his left eyebrow lifted. It took him a good five seconds to realize the guy was actually more concerned with walking two blocks in this part of town then doing all the other things Cinder had just strongly recommended. "You have got to be fucking kidding me..."

Shaking his head in near disbelief, he turned and looked around. By now several people had cautiously reappeared and were watching the scene with a great deal of interest. He scanned the braver ones, those who were not peeking out from their doors or hiding behind things. Finally he settled on a lanky early teen, who had a bit of a grin on his face. "You think this is funny or something?"

The kid took a step back and lost the grin, but nodded "Yeah, I kinda do."

A bit of a smirk appeared on Cinder's face and he motioned the kid over, "I bet you could escort mister rich boy down a couple of blocks and get him back here for a few bucks, couldn't you."

The boy nervously came up while responding. "I could, but I don't want to."

Cinder snickered, "Good answer. Still, something tells me this gentleman would be more than happy to pay for your services, and pay well."

Cinder glanced down at the guy who still had not gotten off the ground. "Am I right?"

The guy's expression didn't match his words in the slightest. "Sure, good idea." As he stood his hand was already going to his money clip. He pulled out a fifty. "Here."

The kid's eyes went wide, "Hell yeah! I'll get you there and back for that!"

"Hey kid." Cinder barked, stopping the kid in his tracks. "I saw what house you came out of and I'll be back if you don't get him there and back safely."

"Got it mister."

"And you, rich boy, I'll be gone before you get back, but I'll find out what you did and didn't do for the kid you hit and I already got your information from your registration. You don't want me paying you a visit either so you best make this right. Also, you may want to toss another bill or two to those two boys with the skateboards so they can watch your car till you get back."

This time the guy nodded with a rather resigned look and peeled off two more fifties.

Cinder stared at the two boys as they eagerly took the offered money. "You let one more scratch happen to this car, I will be back for you as well."

The younger of the two didn't flinch as he nodded his understanding. "Do you have any idea what I'd do or let others do to me for this kind of cash?"


"Then you know I ain't lettin' nothin' more happen to this ride, and I'll change the tire if you want me to."

"You know how?"

The other boy nodded, "His dad uses us in his body shop when we ain't at school. We was just getting' back when you made the mess on his lawn. He don't have ta pay us and we has to do what he tells us. We'll get it done right."

Cinder nodded pulled out a pair of twenties and handed one each to the two boys. "This'll cover the tire work and make up for the fact you have to work for free. Don't use it on drugs."

The second boy spoke again. "His old man would kick our asses if he found out we were doing dope. He won't let anyone on dope touch a car in his shop because he says it's a fuckup waitin' to happen and he don't want to pay no extra dime for fucking something up. And if we don't work we don't eat."

Cinder nodded, "You know, the old man may be a bit of an ass, but he is teaching you both a valuable trade and you are both going to be better off for it. It could be way worse."

"That's why I moved in with him." The second boy responded. "It was this or not get food every morning and every night. We work, we eat. Better than some round here go it."

"Yes it is." Cinder agreed as he made his way back to his bike. "Yes it is."

Cinder took one last glance back, somewhat impressed the two kids had the tire already off and were putting on the spare before he had even fired up his bike. The single look back also sent a strong message to others watching on, to leave the car and boys alone and he knew it. Because of this he scanned those out on the street and made sure to stare down one woman who was eyeing both the car and the two boys with a bit too much interest. Once she saw she had been singled out, she made a point to back away and shake her head, indicating she had gotten the unspoken message to leave it all alone.

Satisfied, at least in part, he pulled out of the dingy neighborhood and headed for the business district. His first stop was a Jeep dealership. He pulled in, jumped off his bike, pulled off his saddle bags and put them over his shoulder. He paused to look a Jeep commander than looked around for some help. The first salesman was not terribly interested, probably since Cinder's hair was even more wild than normal after riding his bike for over half an hour than getting into the scuffle with mister BMW. Another sales person, a finely dressed woman with exceptionally large boobs, started to come up, focused on the gun then quickly found something of interest on the ground behind a Jeep Liberty.

Cinder almost turned to leave when an older man glanced at the other two on the sales floor and shook his head with some disgust. "Excuse me sir, but it appears a couple of the employees here seem to have lost focus on what we are here to do. Is there something I can interest you in?"

"Yeah." Cinder stated boldly and loudly enough for the other two to hear while plopping his saddle bags on coffee table, "I want to buy a couple of jeeps and I want them delivered to my place within the next hour."

"Sure, I'll be happy to help you." The man managed to speak in an even friendly voice although Cinder could actually hear the guy's heart speed up to well over one hundred beats a minute. "I gather financing has already been approved?"

"No need. It'll be a cash transaction. Since I am paying in cash, I expect you can give me a bit of a discount."

The other two employees both stood and stared, jaws hanging open. Cinder glanced over to them, "Unless you two are offering me a blowjob, close your mouths and get out of my face. You both could have had this commission, but I was not good enough for you."

The old man couldn't help it. A burst of laughter came out as he watched the younger man turn bright red and next to scamper off the sales floor.

On the other side the woman gasped in horror, "Why I never!"

"And you never will." Cinder fired back. "Real men like real tits."

Color drained out of the woman's face and she quickly made her way over to the sales manager's office.

A man in a very expensive business suit came out, but before he could get a word out, Cinder was ready for him. "Look mister wanna-be manager. Pussy only sells if the pussy has the balls to talk to all perspective customers. Now, if you really do want me to buy two Jeeps with cash right here, right now, you will get your ass back in that office and tell the bitch to find a new job. Otherwise, I'll call your corporate office and tell them what shitty attitudes I got from everyone except your rather distinguished gentleman here and make damn sure you lose your job. What's it going to be pencil dick?"

The guy turned ghost white, turned, shouted, "You're fired!" and quickly disappeared down the hall.

The left side of Cinder's mouth twisted upward, "I thought so." Without missing a beat he turned back to the older man. "So I'd really like the midnight black Wrangler Unlimited and a silver Wrangler Sport your website says you have in stock. The unlimited without the heated seats is just fine, but both need the full security systems."

The man moved over to a computer terminal and within a couple of seconds nodded. "We have both in the back lot."

"Good. How much a discount do I get for paying cash?"

"You don't want to look at them?"

"No. I want them delivered to here." He pulled out a piece of paper from his wallet. It has all the information on there for the warranty. All I want it to know price. I really don't have much time. My..." Cinder paused and gave a fake cough as he found the right words, "My house guest needs the Sport by fifteen forty today."

"Fifteen forty?"

"Three forty, I use a twenty four hour clock, and time is ticking."

The man sat down and crunched some numbers. "I can get the price down to 38,600 for both since you are paying cash, but I'll pull another 600 off my commission if it will seal the deal."

"With tax?"

"Yeah, cash speaks in this business. No credit checks, no finance hassles just cold hard cash straight into the bank. We got great deals for cash customers."

Cinder pulled open the saddle bag and started dropping pre-packaged sets of fifty one hundred dollar bills on the table. As he dropped the eighth one down, he glanced back to where the woman was storming out the door. Once again Cinder spoke loudly so the woman would hear him. "There's forty grand. Keep the rest as a tip." He then lowered his voice, "But you better believe I will be back to take it back if the sport is not in front of my house by fifteen forty."

The man almost gasped, "I was thinking like cashier's check, not actual cash! Is this hot?"

"And if it is?"

The guy put on a nervous grin. "Um then I will spend my tip in different places so it won't get traced back to me as easily."

Cinder chuckled. "Good answer. However, you're good, there are no tracers or anything of the sort on it."

"Fair enough." The man twisted his mustache a few seconds."Do I tell the owner to move it some so we don't report to the IRS?"

"I'd prefer it if you did. But once again, it isn't absolutely necessary."

The man resumed typing. "No problem. I know we have handled this for others in the past. I'll tell him to keep it well buried in the books." After just a couple of minutes, he pulled out a couple of papers. I just need you to sign and they are officially yours. Is there anything else I can get you?"

"Yeah." Cinder pulled a second piece of paper out of his wallet and dropped it on the table. "Find him full coverage on the Sport and have a print out of it in the glove box for him. Cinder pulled out another block of fifty hundreds and yanked out fifteen of them. "See how long this will get him coverage then burn the information. I don't want anyone else having it. It can't be late either."

"Consider it done. Hell, I'll drive it there if I have to."

Cinder nodded and stood. "Great service."

The man offered his hand, but it was too late, Cinder was already moving to his bike. He watched the man leave then quickly hustled the cash up to the front office. Less than ten minutes later, a pair of junior employees were behind the wheels of the jeeps while the owner himself followed to make sure they got to the destination with full gas tanks and no scratches. Seeing that much cash was all it took to make sure the customer service was perfect on the off chance of repeat business.

Cinder once again hit the streets. He had been prepared to pay a bit more so he still had over eight grand in his saddle bags. He thought about getting some more clothing for Drake since he now had the boy's sizes, but quickly dismissed the idea. He figured he would let Braeden take him shopping so he actually got stuff he wanted. Of course as excited as the little guy was to get new clothing to wear, there was a good chance such a trip could take hours, which was exactly why Cinder wanted no part of it.

He almost jumped back on the freeway to head back home, when he spotted a toy store. Cinder shrugged and shot over three lanes causing two cars to honk at him. He flipped them both off as he pulled into the parking lot. "Fuck both of you. I can't have a kid with only a few toy cars." He muttered as he reached into his saddle bags and pulled out the remaining cash, stuffing it all into the inside pockets of his vest.

Pulling open the door to the store was almost enough to make him turn around a leave. The place was like something out of a cartoon nightmare. There were aisles and aisles and aisles of all sorts of crap. Even from the very front of the store he could see stuffed animals almost as big, maybe bigger than he was. Why on this green earth anyone would buy a child a nearly six foot tall pink and purple parrot was almost enough to make him want to find out who made it, go there, and smack the designer.

Grunting in some disgust, he forced himself to move in and take a closer look while trying to think back to his own childhood. The problem was, even though he came from a fairly decent home, toys were not high on the list of things his parents found important. He had a few things, but his parents were big on him playing outside and then, when he was ten he lost his only friend and then nothing mattered any more. He had failed to stay with him in the Philadelphia museum and had not waited for him two days later, the morning he vanished. Cold rain or not, he had gone to school without him, had abandoned their normal meeting spot choosing to get to the warmth of the school... He shook of the memory not wanting to dwell on it when he needed to focus on Drake.

The lead clerk came over, "Sir, this is not a place for guns."

Cinder all but ignored other patrons who had stopped and looked up upon hearing the word gun. Instead, he simply pulled his wallet and flipped in open showing his permits, complete with his picture. "Full open carry, even certified for schools and non-military or police government offices. Get out of my face and go do something important."

A woman frowned deeply, "You can't let him come in here, this is a toy store for god's sake!"

Rolling his eyes, he turned to the woman. "You know a real mother would be pretty happy to have someone certified to open carry around to protect her kid. So you must not be a real mother." He then glanced down the aisle spotting a little girl playing with a pile of toys on the floor and saw a resemblance. "Besides, if you really cared about your brat, you would teach her to not play with things until you paid for them."

The woman turned beat red, moved to the girl and grabbed her arm. "We're leaving Patty. We'll come back later, after the bad man leaves!"

"Next time make your brat put the stuff away. If she acted as badly at my house as she did here, I'd make you beat her butt or I would beat yours for being too stupid to properly raise your brat." Cinder stated while staring the woman down, preventing a response though pure force of his eyes alone.

He then waited for the woman to exit before turning back to the clerk who was still trying to block his entrance. "There, now you have something to do. Go put the toys back on the shelf."

The woman took one last look at the still held out federal firearms permit, let out a huge huff, and finally backed off while directing another employee to put the small mound of toys back where the girl had got them from.

Cinder shook his head and quickly moved into the store. Most of the patrons and employees made it a point to move out of his way and leave him alone, which was exactly how he preferred things. For over fifteen minutes he aimlessly wandered the store. Some things struck him as clearly boy oriented toys, and some were definitely for girls. But beyond the obvious, he quickly found himself lost. Finally, he spotted a boy almost the exact same size as Drake, so he moved back and watched.

The blond haired, brown eyed, lad was hyper as all get out. He moved from one display to another picking up various objects and just as quickly dismissing them. Most ended up on the floor. Still it gave Cinder some ideas. Unfortunately, the GI Joe figures were a bit too doll like for Cinder's tastes, and the last thing he wanted any kid of his to do was to play with dolls. Next on the almost too happy kid's journey through the endless supply of junk were the toy guns. Once again, Cinder flatly vetoed the idea, knowing one of the things Drake would learn and learn quickly was proper gun safety. The idea of a toy gun was just plain stupid. Any boy should know how to shoot and handle a real one, and guns were not toys.

The next thing the boy stopped at clearly caught the boy's eye. "Mom! Look at the werewolf!"

Cinder felt his blood grow cold. He moved forward and took a look. There it was in the boy's hands, one Dark Shadows Werewolf Action Figure. It was ridiculously stupid. It was a figure of a man with some kind of fury face, hair all pulled back, giving it an almost ape look. It was fully dressed in a plaid shirt, black pants, black shoes, and its fury clawed hands stuck out from the long sleeved shirt in an almost comical fashion.

The boy's mom moved up and looked at the price. "Now Jacob, Granny only sent you twenty five for your birthday. This would be the only thing you could get."

"But it is so cool!" the boy basically said in a pleading voice. "Look, it even has claws."

Cinder couldn't help it. He started lightly growling.

The mother turned and looked at the sound. She quickly moved to put herself between the boy and Cinder, eyeing the gun cautiously. "Why are you snarling at my boy?" She asked with some serious concern in her voice.

This got the attention of the young seventeen year old girl who had been tasked with putting up the pile left behind by little Patty. "Sir, is everything OK."

Realizing he had to do something quickly, Cinder purposefully bit his tongue hard enough to draw blood and held a tight closed look on his face and made the look of swallowing something. He then held up his hand, "Sorry I bit my tongue hard. I wasn't trying to threaten you son."

"It sure sounded..."

He let just a bit of blood show, and shook his head, "It hurt, I didn't mean to scare you or the boy."

Seeing the blood the woman winced, "Oh, you're bleeding."

Cinder made his best wincing look and nodded. "Like I said, it hurt. But you know, you're right. Your boy would be way better off with something else. "

"Yeah, but it is his birthday." The woman signed "And I sure can't afford to give him more money for something bigger or better."

Gritting his teeth to fight the urge to growl at the absurd toy again, he glanced up. He took a deep breath and purposefully winced again to distract from the fact he was really having an anger problem with the toy held in the boy's hand. "Look I don't want to sound like a freak or some kind of perv, but can I speak to your son for a second."

"Uh..." She looked at the young employee and realized there was nothing the guy could do in front of both of them. "I guess."

At the same time the employee frowned. "Sir, the boy is trying to get something for his birthday."

Cinder's head turned slowly and his eyes hardened. "Look, I have recently become the guardian of an eight year old I know next to nothing about. His mother is dead, he has no father, and he is at my place right now with a babysitter. I want to get him some toys he would like, and if you take a careful look at me, you'll probably be able to tell I am really not the toy type. So I am really hoping to make this kid's birthday a lot nicer while getting stuff for a very confused little guy. OK?"

"Well, I can certainly help you." The clerk tried to sound caring, but failed miserably.

"Why. I have an expert right there holding onto a... um... plastic... thing."

"It's a werewolf!" The boy cheerfully declared.

Cinder had to fight his very primal urge to not shift into his war from and scream at the top of his lungs, "NO, you little shit! This is a WEREWOLF!" Instead he bit his tongue a second time and glanced away for a few seconds. He spoke again showing a bit more blood around his teeth. "Wow I really got my tongue good. Sorry."

The boy's mother looked at Cinder. "And you would make my boy's birthday better? How?"

Thankful to have an opening to clam himself he dug into his wallet and pulled out a fifty. "If your boy agrees to buy something better than a junk plastic thing and will help me pick out some really cool stuff for Drake I will add this to his birthday fund. If he does a really good job I will even let him pick out any piece of electronics in here and buy whatever it is as well, no matter the cost."

"But I want the werewolf."

Cinder displayed the fifty for the boy to see while curing his toes, allowing a partial change to come to his feet to relieve the longing to rip the damned toy out of the kid's hand. "It's junk and this will help you get something way better. Your choice."

The woman looked over at Cinder, "No matter the cost, any electronics..."

Cinder dug into his vest and pulled at a handful of hundreds. "Any electronics, I came with plenty of cash. I have every intention of making Drake a very happy boy today."

She let out a light whistle, "But he can't get the wolf thing? Why?"

"Call it a gut feeling." Cinder responded as he forced his feet to return to normal before he shredded the insides of his shoes.

Clearly confused, she finally shrugged, "OK." She then looked down at the boy knowing she had a sure fire way of having him forget all about the toy. "You realize, you could get a Play Station and have enough to buy a couple of games if you forget the toy and help this man, right?"

The toy fell from the boy's grasp and hit the floor as his eyes lit up. He looked up at Cinder with pure awe inn his eyes. "You'd get me a Play Station?"

Seeing the toy fall relieved so much tension it was almost orgasmic to Cinder. He knelt and ruffled the boy's hair. "You really help me find good stuff, not stuff like this, but really good stuff, I'll even give your mom enough money so you can have a party some place. Call it an extra birthday present for being nice enough to help a boy right about your age. I really need to make Drake happy. He lost his mom last night and I have next to nothing for him to play with at my house."

The next thirty minutes were spent all but chasing the very soon to be nine year old all over the store as he was only too happy to show Cinder everything he thought a kid his ages should have. For his part, Cinder fond the boy's enthusiasm rather refreshing and calming after nearly having to walk out back and shift so he could take his anger about a stupid toy out on a dumpster or something.

Finally, he moved up to the counter with a decent stack of toys he knew would fit into his saddle bags and then pointed to the locked display case with the Play Stations and games. "OK, finally I need two of those, one for this guy and one for Drake. I also need this guy to pick out ten games he would really like and double them up too."

The clerk seventeen year old clerk looked shocked, "Sir some of those games are almost sixty bucks each!"

"So, at the very most I'm going to spend an extra twelve hundred? Do I really look like I care?"

As he produced a total of $2300 counted it out, he held up a finger. He then knelt again and ruffled the little boy's hair. "Now if I buy all this for you, you have to promise no werewolf toys, not now, not ever. OK?"

The boy shook his head, "Never! I promise!"

Cinder nodded to the clerk to finish the checkout and helped carry the stuff to the woman's car and carefully loaded the game box and games into the back. He paused and handed a pair of hundreds over to the totally speechless mother. "This is for his birthday party. Make it a good one."

The woman looked at Cinder with tears of joy in her eyes, "I will... Is there any way... I mean I could come get your boy and bring him back if you'll let him attend the party. It sure sounds like he needs a friend..."

"A friend..." Cinder swallowed hard as the memory of his friend's face flashed in his mind's eye. "Drake will need to have friends..."

"A boy needs friends." The woman stated, clearly seeing this was not something the man had thought over. "Maybe my son can be one. At the very least your boy could have some fun with other kids. It's mostly your money after all."

Cinder took a deep breath, "Can I get your phone number. I'll have to think about it and see what Drake thinks. If he goes, there will be a sixteen year old with him. Right now he is the only other one Drake knows and trusts. Also there can be no mention of his mother. He still hasn't got it in his head she is gone."

"You could come." The boy stated with big smile. "You could play the Play Station with us!"

Cinder cringed, as if he had been punched. "Sorry buddy, but there are things I need time to adjust to, and if he comes, Drake needs to be able to deal with the whole friend thing on his own terms."

The boy clearly didn't understand half of what Cinder said so he shrugged and gave the man a big hug, "Thank you mister!"

Cinder took the woman's number and slid it into his wallet. "Take good care of him. He is a hell of a boy."

"I do and always will." The woman stated softly, "But I really hope you let your Drake come over. None of this would be possible without your help and it sure sounds like a party would do him some good.

"I'll let you know one way or the other. But if he comes, Braeden does to."

"Will this Braeden be OK with being around a bunch of eight and nine year olds?"

"To be honest, he'll love it. Without him, I have no idea how I would be able to take care of Drake."

"OK, then, I'm fine with it." She climbed in and suddenly stopped and looked at her son and back to Cinder. "He never gave you the gift card!"

Cinder waved it off. "It's a gift from Granny. He should be able to find something so he can tell her what she bought him... just no..."

The boy looked up with a gleam in his eyes, "I know! No werewolf stuff!"


The woman watched Cinder go back to his bike and load the side bags to the point there were toys sticking out of them before she started the car. "Why in world anyone spend twenty five hundred dollars to prevent anyone from buying a twenty dollar werewolf?"

"I don't care mom. No more werewolves for me!"

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