Castle Roland

Devon's Choice

by Eric Aune


Chapter 2

Published: 8 Apr 14

Devon's Choice

Copyright © 2007, 2014 by Eric Aune
All Rights Reserved

Andrew Shepherd is sitting at his desk looking at a folder. He is about 40, black hair, blue eyes about 6' and 175 pounds. In the folder is the description and picture of a preteen boy who is missing. He puts it down to the side and pulls a stack of folders over to him. He shuffles through them and opens them and looks through each one. On the front page of each one is a picture of a boy. All of them are preteens. He is trying to see if there is a pattern. The only thing that he could find so far was that all of them were either foster kids or they had been living in a group home. None of them had any parents or the parents were out of the picture. The missing kids have been going missing over the last few months. All of them disappeared in the afternoon. There is no evidence of foul play yet. Any or all of them could have run away. Something that is not unknown in the foster and group homes. Andrew has interviewed everyone at the homes and no one knows anything about the boys. After looking through them again, he puts them in his briefcase to take home. As he is closing the case someone comes up behind him and drops another folder on his desk. Andrew looks up at the Lieutenant.

"Andy, we may have another one. Disappeared a couple of days ago, didn't come home after school. Foster parents reported it right away. We waited for 24 hours and then started looking into it. The address is in the folder."

"Okay Bill. I'm going to take them all home and take a look at them. I'll go out there tomorrow and see what I can find out."

"Good enough. Have a nice evening. Talk to you tomorrow. Let me know what you find out."

"Sure, see you Bill."

He puts the last folder with the others, closes the case, picks it up and leaves. He waves to a couple of the other detectives as he leaves. When he gets home he takes his case into his office. He sits down and puts his case on the desk. He looks up at the sound of a young voice. He looks up and sees his fifteen-year-old son. Randy is about 5'8", 135lbs. He has black hair and blue eyes like his dad.

"Hi Dad."

"Hey son. How was school today?"

"Same as always, good."

"Would you tell me if it wasn't?"

"Maybe, maybe not. That depends."

"On what?"

"On whether it was good or not."

"Yeah, I'm sure. Do you know when dinner will be ready?

"Probably in a little while."

Andrew nods and starts taking the folders out of the case. He puts them on his desk. He takes his laptop out of the case and puts it on the desk. He hooks it up to the power to recharge it. He turns his desktop computer on. His son walks over.

"What are you working on, Dad?"

"It's a case from work."

"What's it about?"

"A bunch of missing kids."

"Kids? Were they kidnapped?"

"We don't know. They are just missing. All of them are foster kids and they could have just run away. It happens all too often."

"Can I help?"

He looks at his son and nods.

"Sure let's wait till after dinner."

Randy nods and leaves the room. Andrew arranges the folders, and then leaves the room. He goes to his room and gets out of his suit and into some comfortable clothes. He goes into the kitchen and gives Mary a quick kiss and gives her pregnant belly a rub, and a quick kiss, and then grabs a dish for the table. They all sit down and enjoy the meal. Afterwards Andrew goes into his study to get to work. Randy comes in behind him.

"Randy have you done your homework?"

"Yeah. I finished it earlier."

"Okay come on in."

Randy comes in and sits across from his dad.

"Here is what we know. Over the last few months, several preteen boys have gone missing. All of them are orphans or have parents that will never regain custody of them. Some of the parents have died and there was no one to take custody of the boys, so they became wards of the state. All of them live in foster homes or group homes. None of the kids were troublemakers. They all had some sort of abandonment issues, but being stuck in the system does that to a lot of kids. There is no evidence of foul play. They each just disappeared one afternoon. Sometimes they disappeared on the way home from school, sometimes just walking in the neighborhood near their homes. We have no idea of their whereabouts, no clues. We think that there is a link, but we can't figure it out, other than that they are all 10-12 year old boys in foster care."

"Not much info Dad."

"Yeah I know. I have to go interview people on the last one."

Randy has been looking at the files of the other boys, while Andrew opens the last one. He reads it silently. Devon Carter, twelve years old. Lives in a group home in Valencia. Disappeared four days ago on the way home from school. Parents and little brother were killed in a traffic accident two years ago. No sign of him since then.

He helps his dad scan the pictures and enter the personal information of each boy into the desktop. His fingers fly over the keys, quickly entering each boy's information. Andrew hands him that last folder and he enters the information it in. They print out the scanned pages and then on a large bulletin board they attach each of the pages in the order that the boys were reported missing. There are seven boys. All range in age from 10-12 years old. They both look at the board. 2 of the boys are hispanic, the rest are white. Different hair and eye colors, no link that can be seen other than that they are all preteen boys, who are foster kids in the system. Father and son stand and look at the boy's pictures for a time. Occasionally coming up close to look at the information, and then stepping back to look at all of them again.

"I don't know dad. I don't see anything. There's nothing similar except the age range."

"Me neither son. I don't see anything. Maybe something will turn up tomorrow when I go out to Valencia to interview the people at the home."



"Can I come with you for the interviews, tomorrow?"

"You've got school don't you?"

"Yeah,'s early in the school year, and I can easily catch up. I'll get any assignments I missed the next day. I don't know why, but I want to be there. I want to help find these kids. I don't know but it's like they are all my little brothers and they need my help. I know I have a little brother or sister on the way, but I really want to help."

"What do you mean Randy?"

"I don't know Dad, I just have a feeling that I can help some how. It's a feeling. I know it feels weird to me too. But I'd really like to go tomorrow if you'll let me."

"I don't know...tell you what, I'll call my boss in the morning, if he says its okay, then fine, you can go."

"Great Dad, thanks. I can't wait."

"Remember, only if my boss says its okay."

"Right. I'll see you in the morning Dad."

Randy leaves the room. Andrew looks at the pictures on the board for a while longer. He picks up a folder from time to time and goes through it, hoping to find some clue. He can't find anything else. He turns everything off and puts the folders away. It's late, so he goes to bed. He looks in on Randy before going to his bedroom. Mary is already asleep. He undresses and slips in behind her. He puts his arm around her and she snuggles up against him. He kisses her and cuddles up and going to sleep.

Next morning Andrew is having breakfast, and Randy comes in and joins him, getting a bowl of cereal. He looks at his dad expectantly. Andrew looks at Randy over his newspaper and sees the question on his face. He nods and puts down the newspaper. He goes over to the phone and looks back at Randy as he dials the number of the lieutenant. Randy is watching him anxiously.

"Morning Lieutenant. problem, just a request. My son Randy wants to go with me today for the interview. No it's not a part of an assignment for the Explorer Post. I think he wants to observe procedures. No I don't think he would be in the way. I will just be asking the people at the home a few questions. It might be good for him to see how boring investigations can be. (He laughs and smiles at Randy, who smiles back) Yeah, maybe this way I can convince him to get a real career where people don't want to take potshots at him. (Randy is smiling at his Dad and shaking his head) Alright Bill, thanks. Sure, I'll let you know if I find anything else. Yeah, talk to ya later."

He hangs up and looks at Randy and smiles.

"Okay son, you can go."


"But...remember you are there to observe, okay?"

"Sure Dad. Thanks for letting me go."

"Okay, finish your breakfast, we've got to get going, will you pour some coffee in my travel mug? Oh and put on your sport coat, it'll look better and there won't be as many questions"

"Sure Dad."

Andrew nods and goes into his room to get his gun and badge then goes to his office to grab his laptop. He meets Randy at the door and they go out to the car. They leave for the drive to Valencia. The drive is not too bad since most of the traffic is going into LA rather than out.

They get to Valencia and find the group home with no problem. The area where the house is located is a nice area. They pull up in front of the house and get out. Andrew looks at the house; it appears well kept, first impression is that it is a nice home. It is a good-sized two-story house set a large lot with a big yard. They walk up the driveway to the door, Randy behind his dad. Andrew rings the bell and someone quickly comes to the door. A lady in her late 40's opens the door and smiles.

"Good morning. May I help you?"

"Good morning ma'am. I'm Detective Andrew Shepherd from the Sheriff's Department. I'm here to ask you some questions about Devon Carter, the missing boy. This is my son, Randy. He is a Sheriff's Explorer and he's here to observe an investigation...that is if you don't mind."

"No I don't mind at all. It's nice to meet you both, come on in. I'm Pat Jeffries, my husband, Rick and I are in charge of the home."

They follow her into the house to the living room. She motions for them to have a seat. Andrew takes out a notepad from his inside jacket pocket.

"Can I offer you anything to drink?"

"No thank you, Mrs. Jeffries. Can I ask you a few questions about Devon."

"Of course, but please call me Pat."

"Okay Pat. When was the last time that you saw Devon?"

"It was the morning he disappeared when he left for school."

Her eyes get a little misty, and she grabs for a tissue from the table nearby.

"He is a real nice boy. He is a little quiet, but that could be because like many children in his situation, they take a while to trust people. But he did not cause any problems and he seemed to be starting to open up and seemed to get along with everyone. He was very polite and had good manners, saying thank you and please."

"So, as far as you know, he had no problems with any of the other residents here?"

"No, none at all. We are very lucky that we have a group of boys who all seem to get along pretty well. There are the usual minor spats, but nothing important."

"How many boys do you have here?"

We have 3 bedrooms for the boys, with 2 boys in each room, so we have 6 right now...well 5 with Devon missing."

"What are the age ranges?"

"The youngest is 9 and the oldest is 13 right now."

"Would it be possible to talk to the other boys, just to see if we can find out about anything which they may have noticed, like if he was unhappy or having problems in school that you didn't know about, or that he didn't want to tell you about or even if they noticed anything or anyone unusual in the neighborhood?"

"They are all in school right now and I'd like to call Social Services and see if they have some issue with it, but if not I don't see why not."

"That would be fine. Give them a call. In the meantime may I look at Devon's room?"

"I'd like to be there while you do, because remember it is also another boy's room."

"No a problem."

"Okay. Come along upstairs and I will show you his room. He shares it with a boy named Kyle."

They all go upstairs. Behind them in the living room, a boy quietly sits on the arm of a chair, wiping away a tear from his cheek. He is sad only because Mrs. Jeffries seemed to miss him. He knew that she was nice, but didn't know that she cared that much. Devon will miss her. He gets up and follows them upstairs to his old room. When he gets there the man, Andrew, Devon vowed to use his name, he didn't want to associate The Man with this man, who seemed to be nice so far, is standing in the middle of the room looking around.

There are the two twin beds, two dressers, and two small desks. There is a night table between the beds with a lamp on it. There are two small picture frames on the table. One of them shows Devon with his family, everyone is smiling. The other shows the other boy Kyle with his Mom.

"Pat, which dresser and desk is Devon's?"

"These here."

She moves toward the furniture she is pointing to as she speaks. Andrew nods and goes to the dresser. Randy stands quietly near the door staying out of the way. He looks around the room at some posters and things a boy would decorate his room with scattered around. Andrew opens each drawer and looks through them carefully, them closes them. There is not a lot of stuff, since he has only been here a short time. He moves over to the desk and looks through the one drawer in it, nothing really there. The desk is neat, nothing unusual. Andrew looks under the bed and mattress, finding nothing. He next goes to the closet and looks through the boys clothes and jackets that are there. Nothing really on the floor or the shelf above. He turns away and shakes his head.

"Well, there is certainly nothing here that I can see. Maybe I can find something out at his school. Pat, we're going to go through the neighborhood, maybe ask any people that are here if they might have seen anything. Also I'm going to go to his school and see if they know anything. I'll be back after school lets out, to talk to the other boys."

He reaches into his coat and takes out a card and hands it to her.

"If you think of anything, please let me know. Give me a call when you hear from Social Services about me wanting to talk to the other boys."

"I would be happy to Detective Shepard. I hope you can find out where he is. I just don't think he would have run away, the alternative is what makes me so worried."

"Well we'll do our best to find him. Thank you once again for you help."

They once again go back downstairs, with Devon following behind them. He follows them out to the front. The detective and his son go to the car. Devon looks at Mrs. Jeffries, and then quickly gives her a hug. She starts, then looks down and around, with a puzzled expression, feeling around her waist. Then shaking her head she goes back inside to call Social Services. Devon lets go and hurries to the Detective's car he jumps into the back seat and sits down. They drive away.

"Well what do you think Son."

"Nothing new really Dad. He is neat, polite, Mrs. Jeffries seemed to like him. Maybe we'll find something out at the school or talking to the other boys."

"I think we'll head to the school now and try to talk to his teachers."

They drive to the school. The two talk about Randy's classes, the Explorer's and other unimportant stuff. Joking with each other as they go. Devon sits quietly in the back watching and listening. He smiles from time to time at some of the joking. He starts to like these two. He thinks Randy would be a cool as a big brother.

They get to the school and get out with Devon following. At the office Andrew introduces himself and asks to speak to the principal. They are shown to the principal's office. The principal shakes hands with Andrew and Randy.

"Good morning Detective Shepherd. I'm Phil Gage, the principal here. What can I do for you?"

He motions for them to have a seat and they sit in chairs that are in front of the desk.

"Thank you Mr. Gage, this is my son Randy, he is along as an observer to the investigation I am conducting as part of his Explorer's training. I am investigating the disappearance of Devon Carter. He disappeared a few days ago on his way home from school."

"I read about that in the paper, bad business. Nice to see a young person like yourself Randy, interested in serving his community"

"Thank you, sir."

"Yes it is bad business. Do you know if there were any problems here at school for him?"

"Not off hand, let me get his file in here."

He picks up a phone and punches a button.

"Ms. Hastings, could you bring me the file on Devon Carter? Yes, thank you."

He hangs it up and smiles to them.

"It should be here in a moment. Can I interest you in some coffee or a soda?"

"No thank you, sir."

The secretary comes in with a file in her hand, she hands it to Mr. Gage.

"Thank you, Ms. Hastings."

He looks in the file quickly, and then hands it to Andrew who opens it and looks through it. Randy leans over and looks at the folder in his Dad's hand. Devon is seated on the arm of Andrew's chair looking over Andrew's shoulder at the file. Andrew quickly finishes with it and hands it back.

"As you can see, Detective, nothing much in there. No problems, but then we have not been back at school for very long. Is there anything else that I can help you with?"

"Would it be possible to talk to his teacher?"

The principal looks in the folder, and then consults a sheet of paper on his desk.

"His homeroom teacher has a free period right now, she would probably be the best one to talk to since Devon's other teachers would let her know if there were any problems with him in their classes. I'll have Ms. Hastings call her here."

"That'll be fine, thank you."

He picks up the phone again.

"Ms. Hastings, could you call Emily Brown to my office? Thank you."

He hangs up and turns back to them.

"She should be here in a little bit. You can talk to her here, if you don't mind my staying, otherwise we'll make other arrangements."

"No, that should be fine."

"So Randy, you are in the Explorer's program? Do you like it?"

"Yes sir. I want to work in Law Enforcement when I finish school."

"Good for you, how old are you?"

"Fifteen, sir."

"You planning on going to college first or just going into the Academy?"

"I'm planning on a degree first, then applying to the Academy..."

They are interrupted by the door opening.

"Mr. Gage, Ms. Brown is here."

"Thank you. Emily, this gentleman has a few questions for you if you don't mind."

Andrew and Randy stand up and shake hands with her.

"Ms. Brown, I'm Detective Andrew Shepherd from the LA Sheriffs Department, this is my son Randy. I'm investigating the disappearance of Devon Carter."

"Oh yes, that poor boy. I hope you can find him. He is good boy and it would be a shame if anything happened to him."

"I agree. I am doing everything I can to find out what happened."

They all sit down.

"I just wanted to ask you if you or any of the other teachers had observed any problems with Devon. Problems in his schoolwork or with any of the other kids, anything at all?"

"No none at all. He did his work on time, none of his other teachers have told me of anything and if there were a problem, I would have heard since as his homeroom teacher I would get notes telling me of them. He seemed to get along fine with everyone in class. So, no, no problems that I know of."

'How about friends?

"He seems to have some of the other students that he talks to. He doesn't appear to be a loner or anything like that. He appears to have normal interaction with the others, so everything looks fine as far as I have observed.

"Okay, thank you Ms. Brown."

"Sorry I couldn't be more helpful. Good luck, I hope you find him soon."

"We do too."

They stand as she leaves. Andrew turns back to the principal and holds out his hand. Both he and Randy shake hands with the principal.

"Mr. Gage, thank you for your help. I appreciate it. I don't think we can find out anything more here, but here's my card. Call me if you hear anything."

He takes the card and glances at it.

"Of course Detective, have a nice day. You too, young man. Good luck with your career."

Randy smiles shyly, and nods as they leave. He and his Dad walk back to the car with Devon following close behind.

"How about we go get us some lunch?"

"Sure Dad, sounds good, I was starting to get a little hungry."

"Knowing you, a little hungry isn't what you are."

"Hey, I'm a growing boy. How else can I get to be a big strong Sheriff like you."

Andrew smiles and puts his arm across his son's shoulder. Randy leans into his Dad's embrace. Devon goes up on the other side of Andrew and puts his arm around him. These guys are neat he thinks. Andrew looks down, shrugs and continues walking. They get into the car and drive back toward the group home. They spy a Wendy's. Andrew nods his head toward it and Randy smiles and nods back. They pull in and go into the place. They order their hamburgers and drinks and sit at a table near the window. Devon sits next to Andrew. They eat in silence for a little while, Devon watching them.

"I wish we could catch a break on this case. So far there is nothing anywhere that leads me to believe he has run away. He seems to be adjusting well to the school and the home life seems pretty good. I hope that Social Services will let me talk to the other boys in the house. On the way back there we'll drive from the school toward his home, and try and retrace his path. Maybe one of the other boys, like his room mate Kyle, will know which direction he took from home to school."

"I guess that is the best we could do. I don't think he is a runaway either. Mrs. Jeffries liked him and there didn't seem to be any problems. I really hope that we can find him. I hope he's all right."

"Yeah, me too. I really hate bad things to happen to good kids, and he seems to be one of the good kids. Well we'll just keep plugging away. Remember there are six others missing too. Maybe they're all together."

Devon is startled when he hears that there are other kids missing. When he does the table shakes slightly.

"Careful son, don't knock the table over."

Randy looks at his Dad quizzically.

"Me, I thought you did it."

"No. Maybe it was just a big truck rumbling by."

"I guess."

Devon looks at them.

[Did I do that? Make the table shake like that? How...what...I'm a ghost. How can I do anything like that? If I can do something like that, maybe I can somehow help them find The Man.]

Devon sits through the rest of the meal thinking about this, trying to do it again. Andrew and Randy finish and start gathering the trash together, when Andrew's cell phone rings. He takes it out and opens it.

"Shepherd. Yes, thank you Pat, we will be there at about three. That won't be necessary, we just finished lunch. Yes, thank you, see you then"

He closes the phone and turns to Randy.

"We're going back to talk to the other boys. We still have a little while, so we'll take that drive along a likely route."

"I hope one of them knows something Dad."

"Me too. I hate to think what might have happened to the kid."

They return to the car and drive back to the school. Andrew orients himself and starts in the direction of the house. He slowly drives down the street. The streets are mostly deserted except for the occasional older person. As they pass a narrow alley, they see a little girl about four years old running around in her front yard nearby, followed by someone who must be her mom, both of them laughing. Suddenly a tear starts down Devon's cheek as they pass the alley. He quickly looks back and sees a dark van sitting there. He sucks in his breath to yell, then he looks again and the van is gone. He falls back into the seat and curls up crying. They continue driving to the home and arrive there about three. They walk up to door and Pat opens it, inviting them in. They follow her in.

"Right on time. Did you enjoy you're lunch."

"Yes, thank you. How much longer before the boys get home."

"It should be any minute now, why don't we sit out back on the deck. It is such a nice day today."

They all go out back and sit down. Pat brings out some lemonade. Soon the boys start to get home. Pat excuses herself and goes inside. Soon she comes back out with 5 boys and introduces them.

"Mr. Shepherd here are the boys. George Hanson, Richard Scott, Mario Ruiz, Eric Ross, and Kyle Johnson. Boys this is Mr. Shepherd. He is a detective with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. He is here to ask you about Devon."

"Hi boys. I've been assigned to look into what happened with Devon...a..."

He is interrupted by all the boys talking to him at once.

"Is Devon okay? Have you found where he is? Wh..."

Andrew holds his hands up.

"Boys, calm down."

He waits until everyone is quiet.

"That's better. Okay, we don't know where Devon is. But I promise you that I am going to do everything that I can to find out what happened. If you don't mind, I would like to talk to each of you one at a time."

He gets nods from everyone. He nods in return.

"Okay, first I'd like to talk to...Kyle, right?"

He points at Kyle Johnson. Kyle nods.

"Yes sir."

"Okay let's go inside right there to the dining room and sit at the table."

Kyle follows Andrew and Randy inside. They sit down right where they can see to the outside.

"Okay Kyle. The reason that I wanted to talk to you first is because you are Devon's roommate."

"Yes sir."

"All right. Do you know how Devon felt about being here?"

"Like most of us, I guess. It's hard not having your mom or dad or your own family, but Mr. and Mrs. Jeffries are real nice people. Mr. Jeffries plays catch with us and if we on a team, he helps us practice and get to games and comes and watches as much as he can. Mrs. Jeffries treats us real good and she's a great cook. He seemed to like it here."

"How old are you Kyle?"


"So do you go to the same school at Devon?"

"Yes sir. We even have some of the same classes."

"So do you know if there was anything bothering him?"

"No sir. I don't think so, at least nothing that I noticed."

"Was there anyone either here or at school that he was having a problem with. Mr. and Mrs. Jeffries, of any of the other boys here?"

"No. There all pretty cool. I like them and I think the Devon did too. He really liked Mario. One time he said it was like having a little brother again. So he liked to do things with him, like play catch or play games, you know things like that."

"So no problems here or at school? How about on the way home, did anybody bother him on the way home from school? Or anyone in the neighborhood?"

"No sir. We usually walked home together."

"So were you with him that afternoon on the way home?"

"No sir. I was sick that day and stayed home with a stomach ache."

"So he was walking home alone that day?"

"Yes sir. I saw him in the morning before he went to school, but he never came home."

"Could you show me on a map which way you guys walk home?"

"Yes sir, I think so."

"Randy, go out to the car, and get my Thomas Brothers Guide."

"Sure Dad."

Randy quickly leaves.

"Kyle, Randy is going to bring my map book back in and I want you to show me on the map which way you guys walk home. Okay?"


Randy returns and hands the book to his dad.


Andrew turns the pages until he gets to the page that he wants. He opens it and folds it back and moves it so that he and Kyle can both look at it. Randy looks over his dad's shoulder. Andrew studies if for a moment and puts his finger on a spot and another finger on another spot.

"Okay Kyle. Here is the school and here is about where you live."

Kyle studies it for a bit and turns his head sideways as he reads some street names.

"Okay, I think I know the way sir."

Andrew gives him a pencil and Kyle marks a line on the map. Andrew watches him as he stops to get his bearings from time to time then continues.

"That's it sir. That's the way we walk home."

"Great. That will help a lot."

"I hope you find him, I miss him, he's fun to be with. He's my best friend. We always had a good time walking home and at school."

"I know. We're trying hard to find him, Kyle. Maybe with this map we can find anyone who saw him that day. Can you remember if you have seen anything or anyone that you didn't recognize or looked suspicious when you and Devon walked home."

"No sir, not that I can remember."

"Okay thank you Kyle, for your help. Could you send Mario in here?"

"Yes sir."

They wait as Kyle goes outside and gets a glass of lemonade and tells Mario to go in. Devon watches him go with tears on his cheeks and a smile. The boys crowd around Kyle asking him about what Andrew had asked him. Mario makes his way inside and sits down.

"Hello Mario. I'm just going to ask you some questions about Devon and that's it. I want you to tell me the truth, okay? You do understand what the truth is, right?"

"Yes sir."

"Okay, Kyle told me that you and Devon were good friends, is that right?"

"Yeah he always called me his little brother. He played games with me and was helping me learn how to catch good."

"I'd say that's how a big brother would act. So everyone here is nice, right?"

Mario nods

"Did Devon get along with everyone here too?"

"Yes sir. Everyone liked him. He could be pretty funny sometimes. We all had good times playing together."

"That's good. So everything is fine here huh?"

"Yes sir. Are you going to bring Devon back here? I miss him."

Mario gets some tears in his eyes. Andrew reaches over and puts his hand on the boy's shoulder and gently squeezes it.

"I know you do, bud. I'm sorry he's not here. I promise that I will do everything I can to find out where he is."

"Good, I can't wait to see him again."

"Okay, Mario, I think that's it. It wasn't too bad was it?"

"No sir, it was nice."

"Mario will you send Eric in please?"

"Okay sir. Hurry up and find Devon will ya?"

"I will try my best."

Mario leaves and Eric comes in. The questioning runs along the same lines again to no avail. Andrew learns the same from each of the other boys. He goes outside with the last boy, Richard.

"Well, Pat. Thank you for your hospitality and all your help. You've been very helpful."

"I'm glad to do what I can, if it will help Devon. We all miss him."

"Well I'll leave you now, but remember if you hear of anything or hear from Devon, please call me, night or day. My card has my cell phone on it, and just call for whatever reason. Thank you boys and Pat. You have my promise to do everything I can to find Devon."

While the boys are being questioned Devon is sitting there with a feeling of wonder that all the boys really miss him. A tear or two rolls down his cheek when Mario talks about him. He runs over behind Mario and gives him a hug. When all the interviews are done he follows Andrew and Randy outside. When they leave, he follows them to their car and gets in the back again. He is determined to stay with Andrew, since he is trying to find Devon. Devon also hopes that he can do something like the table again. Maybe he will be able to use that, to help find The Man. When they drive back by the alley, he shudders again and sees the little girl sitting on the ground playing with some toys. She looks up as the car goes by and looks right at Devon and waves. Randy sees her and smiles and waves back. Devon is kind of stunned since the girl looked like she was looking at him. They continue the drive home into the usual traffic. Andrew is talking on his cell phone, reporting into his boss, about what he found.

"...Yeah Bill. I don't think this is a runaway case. The home is real nice and all the boys seem to get along real well. The Jeffries seem to be good people and take good care of the boys. Nothing at school. So I think we've got a kidnapping of some kind. I'm going to dig some more, but right now we are at a dead end, unless something else comes up. No, he was fine. Of course he'll make a great detective some day. Look who his father is, he can't help it, it's in the blood. (Haha) Sure. Yeah see you in the morning. Bye."

He hangs up.

"Bill says to say Hi."

Randy smiles as they continue home in the afternoon LA traffic. They eventually get home. They get out and Devon follows them into the house. Andrew goes to the kitchen where his wife is making dinner and greets her with a kiss.

"Hi honey.'

"Hi Andy. How was you're guys day?"

"Not much accomplished. The boy is still missing and we have no real clues."

"That's too bad. Do you think he ran away?"

"No...I don't think so. I have no proof, but I think he may have been taken."

"Oh dear. That poor boy. You said you don't know anything?"

"Nothing new. I'm going to go write up my notes, so I can make my report in the morning."

"I'll go change and come back and help with dinner, mom."

Devon watches the family. He also notices something that he had not really paid attention to before, he can see a glow that seems to come from them. It is only a faint one, but it is there all the same. What made it more evident is that in the lady, he can see two glows, one is in her belly. He does not know what to make of it. He moves closer to them and reaches out to the lady and touches her belly. She quickly gives a sharp intake of breath and puts her hand down to where Devon has touched her. Andrew and Randy turn back with looks of concern. Devon jumps back a bit and looks at the lady.

"Honey, are you okay?"

"Yes I'm fine. This is the kind of pain a mother likes, he just kicked me."

"He? How do you know he's a he?"

"A mother just knows."

"Sure. Maybe you could lend me some of that just knowing, so I can find that boy."

"If I could, I would. Okay get out of here and let me finish up."

"Okay mom."

"Yes mother. I'll be in my office, if you need me."

There is barking at the sliding glass door. Devon looks over and sees a German Shepherd dancing back and forth. Randy goes to the door and opens it up. He pets the dog.

"Hey Gus, did you miss me?"

Gus loves the attention. When Randy stands up, Gus walks over to where Devon is standing and looks at him expectantly. Devon just stands looking down at Gus. Gus whines a little and lifts his paw and kind of waves it at Devon. They all stare at the dog puzzled at his antics. Randy goes up to him.

"What are you doing boy?"

Randy looks in the direction Gus is looking but of course sees nothing.

"What is it? There's nothing there you silly dog?"

Devon looks around in a little bit of a panic. Then he looks at Gus and puts his finger to his lips.

[Shhhh! Go back.]

Gus looks at him, puts his paw down and whines a little, then walks away. Randy looks at his dad, they both shrug. Andrew goes to his office to put his things away. Devon follows Andrew to his office. Andrew turns on the computer and sets it up to look at the file information on the screen. On the bulletin board are the seven boys. He also takes the folders out of his case and piles them on the desk. Devon looks at the boys on the board. A tear runs down his face as he sees his picture. Then he stops and stares at the first picture on the board, it is Justin, the young angel. He looks around, and then runs outside. He starts running back in the direction they came from this afternoon and sees the park that he saw earlier. He runs to a secluded area, with tears running down his face. He starts yelling.

"Justin, Michael, Justin can you hear me, can anyone hear me? Please answer"

"Yes Devon, I can hear you."

Devon turns around and sees Justin standing before him enveloped with a warm glow. He runs toward Justin and throw his arms around him, crying.

"I didn't know. You were the first, I saw you're picture, weren't you?"

Justin holds Devon strokes his back in comfort.

"Yes and no. I was the first of this group. The Man as you call him, has done this before, two other times before. So far you are the first to choose not to go forward. I cannot tell you everything but I can tell you that there have been others in other places. I can't tell you where, that is up to you to find out."

"But can't you stop him. You're an Angel."

"No, I chose to move ahead, that was my choice. You chose to stay and that is you're choice. Besides I'm not an Angel yet."

"But how can I stop him? What about Michael, he could stop him."

"No, Michael cannot do it either. He is not allowed to intervene directly unless he has been given permission. As to how you will do it? Think about it, the solution will come to you."

Devon looks at Justin as he thinks. His eyes widen a little as he realizes something.

"The things that have happened, bumping the table, them feeling me when I touched them, Gus the dog seeing me. But how can I do it more without really freaking them out?"

"Yes, the things that have happened. How you can do it without freaking them out, I think that no matter what, they will be freaked out. How you do more things though, I can't tell you how, you have to discover it yourself. You're on the right path, keep it up and it will come to you."

"You can't help me?"

"No, this was your choice you have to do it all yourself, without any help from us. You can only get the help of anyone whose attention you can attract. I'm not allowed to assist you."

"Can I call on you, whenever, when I need to talk to you?"

"Not really. I am limited as to when I can appear to you. Only when the need is really important, like right now because you saw that I was one of the victims and it was decided to let me talk to you. Other than that reason, you will not be able to talk to me, until everything is finished, then we can talk for eternity.

"Okay, if that's the way it is. I'll keep working at it. Will they ever be able to see me? Ya know, as a ghost or something?"

"I don't have an answer to that. I don't know."

Devon hugs Justin again.

"Okay. Thanks Justin and I'm sorry that you were one of his victims."

"That's okay. I'm glad I could help a little bit, but I have to get going now. I'll see you again."

Devon releases Justin and steps back.

"Bye Justin."

Justin waves and fades away. Devon starts walking back to the house. He gets there just as Mary calls them for dinner and Andrew walks out of the study. Devon follows him. They have a nice dinner and Andrew goes back to his study. Devon watches Andrew as he looks through the files. Andrew looks through a file, then at his computer and types some stuff, then up at the board, then back to a file. Devon watches him for a couple of hours, he sees that the man seems to really care. Devon wishes that he could talk to him. So he does the only thing he can think of, Devon goes to him and puts his arms around Andrew's neck and gives him a kiss on the cheek. Andrew has his head down looking through a file, but with the kiss, his head jerks up and he puts his hand to his cheek and looks around in surprise.

"Okay that was strange. I could have sworn that someone just kissed me on the cheek. This case is getting to me, now I'm talking to myself."

He gets up and goes to the door of his study and looks outside. No one is near. He goes back in the room and sits down again looking at the pictures on the board. Devon stands back and watches as Andrew looks around and outside the room, with his mouth is wide open in surprise.

[Okay that kind of worked and I think Andrew felt it when I put my arm around him earlier when we walked to the car. I think the lady felt me touch her belly. And the dog walked right up to me and acted like it wanted me to pet it. And now Andrew says he felt my kiss. HELLO! ANDREW! DETECTIVE SHEPHERD!]

Devon's yell doesn't reach Andrew at all, but Gus comes trotting in and goes over where Devon is standing and sits next to him. Andrew looks up.

"What do you want Gus?"

Gus just sits there, Andrew goes back to work. Devon's pets Gus. If Andrew had looked closely he would have seen Gus's fur press down like someone was petting him. Randy's voice is heard from the kitchen.

"Gus, c'mon boy, time for you to go outside."

Gus looks up at Devon and almost smiles. Devon smiles back, kneels down and hugs Gus. Gus trots off, but looks back at the door. Devon shoos him. Andrew has looked up at Gus leaving and notices him stop and look back at the room, but not at him. He looks toward where Gus is looking and seeing nothing shakes his head and goes back to work.

Every so often Andrew rubs his cheek where Devon kissed him and looks around again. Devon can't believe it. He is sure now that Andrew felt his kiss. He goes over to Andrew and does it again, but there is no reaction this time. Devon is frustrated and frowns. Andrew lets out a sigh and prints something up, then starts turning things off and putting things away. Devon watches him.

"This sucks! I wish I had more to go on. Maybe something will come up. I've got to find this kid. He doesn't deserve anything bad happening to him, he's had enough bad events in his life."

He walks out the door. Devon follows him and sees him go into his bedroom. Devon stops and goes outside and sits petting Gus for a little while. He sits there and thinks.

[If they felt me, how can I do it again? I've got to figure it out. Wait a minute, if Andrew felt my kiss, maybe Randy will too. Look at Gus, he sees me and feels me petting him. Well it couldn't hurt. I might as well try it. If it doesn't work, it won't be any different than now.]

Devon gets up and walks around the house and in a short time finds Randy's room. The light is off as Devon walks through the door. He walks over to the bed and looks down at Randy who is sleeping. Devon slowly gets on the bed and lays down facing Randy. He looks at Randy sleeping. Randy doesn't move. Devon just looks at him and smiles. Then he moves forward and gives Randy a hug, then kisses him. Randy smiles and puts his arms around Devon. Devon is shocked. It feels like Randy is hugging him, but not hugging him. It's weird and hard to describe, but it feels great. Devon smiles then turns around with his back against Randy. Randy's arm falls around him like he would if Devon was really there. Devon burrows back and hugs Randy's arm closer to his body. Devon doesn't really need to sleep, but he closes his eyes and just relishes the feeling of Randy holding him close, like he is protecting him, just like a big brother would. Devon lies like that through the night.

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