Castle Roland


by Eric Aune


Chapter 11

Published: 8 Apr 14

"….Doctor Carpenter would have been a great asset to the medical facility and school. I regret that I did not have a chance to get to know her better. The times that we had gotten a chance to talk, I believed that we would become friends as well as colleagues. She seemed to be a good and loving person. She talked much about her son Jamie and how she knew that the both of them would have had a good life here. She will be missed by those who knew her and those who would have gotten to know her I'm sure."

With that, Doctor Moore stepped away from the small podium he walked over to Jamie and shook his hand. They were standing outside at the columbarium at San Jacinto Valley Cemetery. There were few people there. Other than the Wood family, there was only a preacher, a couple of representatives of the cemetery and Doctor Moore from Loma Linda University Medical Center. Jamie was only just able to hold back the tears. He had to bite his lip to keep it from quivering. He knew that he would start bawling if he didn't work hard not to and he did not want to do that right now. The preacher stepped up next and said a few words. When he was finished, the representative from the cemetery placed a small box inside the columbarium. It was sealed and a bronze plate was affixed to the front of the niche:

Christine Carpenter, MD

Beloved Mother

Born May 15, 1972

Died Aug 15, 2012

The preacher came over and held Jamie's hands in both of his own.

"I'm sorry for your loss son."

Jamie nodded.

"Th…thank….you, si…sir."

The preacher gave a sympathetic smile and placed his hand on Jamie's shoulder giving it a gentle squeeze before walking away. Maggie placed her hand on his shoulder.

"Ready to go home, Jamie?"

He looked at them for a moment.

"Can I stay for a minute?"

"Of course, dear. Take all the time you need, we'll wait by the car."


The groundskeepers had removed the podium and Jamie was now alone. He walked over to the niche. For several moments he just looked at the inscription. He reached out and traced the inscription with his finger. "What do I do now? I'm all alone now and I miss you Mom. Why did you have to leave me?"

At that point he trailed off and the tears that had been threatening dripped down his cheeks. His chin quivered a little as he laid his hand flat upon the plate. He stood there with his head bowed for a few more moments before stepping back and wiping the tears from his eyes. He looked at his mother's final resting place. "I'll make you proud Mom and I'll come by and visit you when I can. Goodbye for now Mom."

Jamie turned and walked away. The Woods waited outside the car. When he got there, he slid in the back seat. Shane and Mark sat on either side of him. Tom pulled away. A short time later, Jamie felt a smaller hand slip into his. He looked to his left and saw Mark give him a shy smile. He gave him an answering smile of thanks. He then felt another hand slip into his right side and he smiled at Shane as well. The two boys were giving him what comfort that they could and he was grateful to them for it. He gently squeezed each of their hands to let them know that he was grateful.

The next few days were a little hectic as Maggie was busy taking Shane and Mark back to school shopping. Shane was starting 5th grade and Mark was going into 3rd. A few days later Jamie was on his way outside to play with the two younger boys. He stopped in the living room where Tom and Maggie were watching TV. He came over to them and asked Tom and Maggie about if they knew if he would be able to get anything else from his home.

"We can ask about that. Is there anything in particular that you want to get?"

"My bike, my bed, my TV, and some of my other things from my room."

Tom nodded.

"I'll see what I can do about that. I think it's a good idea for you to be having some of your own things around you. I'll contact Miz Geddes tomorrow and see what can be arranged."

"Thanks, a lot."

The day finally arrived, the first day of school. He walked to where the bus would pick him up to take him to Rancho Viejo Middle School where he was starting 8th grade. Even though where he lived now, was a little closer to Acacia Middle School, his foster parents decided to leave him at Rancho Viejo because his mom had already enrolled him there. At least there was a bus available to take him to school. It was about four miles from the house to the school.

He was a little nervous about it, because he wouldn't be with the guys he had grown up with and he'd be starting over. It didn't really bother him that much about not being with the friends he grew up with. When his mom had talked about moving here, something about it sounded good to him and he readily agreed. He was new here, and of course most of the other kids had been here the year before, so they knew each other. He knew no one. He knew that they would probably have sorted themselves into their own groups of friends. He knew it would be a little hard, but he thought he might find a friend or two eventually, although he wasn't really feeling much like making friends right now. All of this would be easier if his mom was here, but he knew he'd have to do the best he could. He would wait and see what the other kids were like and try to find where he could fit in. Right now he didn't feel like he fit in anywhere. His foster home seemed okay. He liked Shane and Mark, they were pretty cool. Maggie and Tom were okay too, but of course they weren't his mom. Without her, he felt like something was missing. Well, he was here now, so he was going to try to make the best of it.

When he got off the bus, he looked at the entrance of the school. He saw friends reconnecting with their other friends as they got off the buses or rode up on their bikes and wished he had some friends to connect with as well. His foster parents had received a letter that said that he would pick up his schedule in his home room. As he stood there he pulled a paper out of his pocket that had the room number and teacher's name written on it, Miz McGowan in Room 205. He looked around and couldn't see anything that gave him any information about where the room might be located. He saw a boy who looked to be about his age with blond hair, standing nearby and seemed to be waiting for someone. Jamie walked towards him.

"Excuse me?"

The blond turned around. "Yes?"

"Uh, I'm new here and I need to find room 205."

"205? Is that your homeroom?"


"I think that's my homeroom too. I'd show you, but I'm waiting for a friend to get here, but it's pretty easy to find it. Just go through there and turn left. It's the last of the classroom buildings. The building across from it is the 100 building, the rest of the buildings go from the 200 building up to the 500 building. You should be able to find the room when you get there."

"Thanks, uh.."



"Nice to meet you Jamie, I'll see you in class."


Jamie turned and walked into the school. Dylan watched him until he was swallowed up in the crowds. Jamie followed Dylan's directions and soon found himself in front of the 200 building. He went inside and found 205 fairly quickly. There were a few of the students already there. Jamie took a seat in the back and waited for class to begin.

Within a couple of minutes more kids started to file into the room. Jamie watched them as they entered. One of the last guys to enter was Dylan. He was talking to a guy with brown hair. They were smiling and laughing about something. He watched as they found a pair of seats around the middle of the classroom. He was a little surprised that he felt a little bit of hurt, because when he had talked briefly to Dylan out front he had seemed to be a nice guy. For a moment he had even thought that maybe Dylan might be a possible friend since he'd seemed so friendly before. Miz McGowan was sitting at her desk at the front of the class. She looked to be in her early thirties. Her hair was reddish brown, shoulder length and held back from her face by a hair band.

Jamie figured that since he was the new kid anyway and he guessed he wasn't very memorable to Dylan, Jamie thought Dylan had probably forgotten about him within moments after he walked away. The bell rang causing the last few kids to hurry into the classroom. Miz McGowan started calling the roll. Jamie listened to the roll and watched as each person's name was called to see who answered.

"James Carpenter?"

Jamie raised his hand and answered.


She gave him quick smile of acknowledgment before she continued calling names. There was a few of the boys in the class that he noticed when their names were called. There was Dakota Hawkins, Ethan Johnson, Sean McClendon, Logan Rhoades, and Ian Rowan. Dakota looked like an Indian, or he guessed he should say Native American; some of those guys were a little touchy about being called Indian as he remembered from Idaho. He wore his black hair long, well below his shoulders. Ethan had black hair too, but it was shorter. Sean had brown hair that was short on the sides and longer on top. Logan had blond streaks in his brown hair, and it was wavy and parted in the middle. Ian had curly red hair. That was all Jamie could see since he was in the back of the class.

"Dylan Robinson?"

Jamie watched as Dylan raised his hand and answered. A couple of more names were called and then…"

"Joshua Stuart?"

Jamie saw Dylan's friend raise his hand and answer her. After answering he looked over at Dylan and smiled. Jamie smiled when he looked at Joshua's profile. He was cute. Saying that he was cute did not bother Jamie of course, because he liked cute boys. That was one thing he had not yet told his mom. He knew he was gay. That was part of the reason that he hadn't minded the move to Hemet. In fact he had been watching the boys as they answered the roll, because they were cute. The seven boys whose names he had taken note of for some reason sounded about the same as his voice, right there on the edge of breaking into a lower register, except Dakota, his was a little deeper than the others and Sean who still had a higher voice. Dakota also looked to be the biggest of the seven boys, taller and more muscular as well. He looked like a jock.

The move to Hemet was good because he knew that back where he had grown up in Idaho Falls, admitting he was gay would have caused him a lot of grief because there was a strong Mormon presence in the area that he lived. He'd heard enough bigoted talk by the Mormon kids at school to know that he never wanted any of them to find out his secret. He hoped that maybe in California, things might be different for him. Well, at least there were some cute boys to look at in his class. He wondered how many other classes he would have with them. He was interrupted by the speaker in the room.

"Good morning students. This is Mister Huber your school's principal. To returning students and new students, welcome to another great year at Rancho Viejo Middle School. Eighth graders, this is your last year with us before moving onto high school. Make the most of it. Welcome to a new school year."

After the announcement, Miz McGowan introduced herself and talked about what they would be covering in class. She also handed out a student handbook to everyone and urged them to read them that evening when they got home. Along with the handbook she gave them their class and locker assignments. She then started them on their first assignment. She asked them to write about themselves. Jamie opened his notebook and started writing until the end of the period. No one talked to him because no one knew him. He was the new kid after all.

His next class was Algebra. Again no one seemed to notice him other than the fact that he was taking up a seat. The teacher Mister Luna started the class and called the roll. Jamie sort of listened until he started hearing some of the same names. He looked up and saw that all of the cute boys from his homeroom were in the same class as him. That was pretty cool. He hoped it would continue, especially next period, since it was PE.

In PE they were gathered in the gym where Coach Jorgenson introduced himself. Jamie looked around at the others in the class and he saw that yep, the boys were in that one as well. He looked at them but the one that kept drawing his attention the most was Joshua Stuart. He was staring and had to make a mental effort to stop. He couldn't quite make out his eye color, but it was light, not something like brown. Eyes were his favorite, especially blue or green. The coach explained to them about what was expected of everyone. He reminded them that they had to have their PE clothes by Monday to dress out. Jamie was separated a little from the others, since he was the new kid and no one knew him. After he had watched the other boys entering the gym, he listened to the coach, since no one was sitting near to him. None were talking to him. As he listened he didn't notice when Dylan kind of looked around with a small frown. He was looking at the others in the gym and something caused him to look over at Jamie. Dylan thought that there was something familiar about him, like he thought he should know him, but he wasn't sure. Dylan shook his head and turned back to whisper with Josh.

Jamie had first lunch, so he went to get something to eat after class and took it outside where the large lunch shelters were located. He found the end of a table where no one else was sitting. As he ate, he looked around at the other kids eating lunch. Some of the kids came and sat at the table he was at, but didn't say anything to him. They had their own friends to sit and talk with and they didn't know him. He saw the cute boys from his classes walk outside from the cafeteria. He especially watched for Joshua. He and Dylan came outside and walked over to a table at the other end of one of the shelters and disappeared from his sight, hidden among the others.

Over at their table, Dylan had been looking around a little when he paused for a moment. "Josh, I just thought of something. Do you remember that kid that we saw over on Cornflower the other day?"

Josh thought about it for a moment and then comprehension came on his face as he remembered who Dylan was talking about. "Yeah. He was getting in the car with his mom or someone?"

"Yeah, him. I was just wondering if he's here somewhere. Remember we rode by there a couple of days later and no one was home?"

Josh just nodded because he had a mouthful of sandwich.

"He looked like he was our age, so I guess he could be here somewhere. Do you remember what he looked like?"

"No, I only saw him for a short time before he got in the car and they drove off."

"I think his hair was kind of blond, you know kind of gold colored, not like mine."

Josh looked around and turned back to Dylan with a smirk.

"Well that narrows it down a lot."

Dylan giggled a little. "Yeah, I guess."

He went back to eating and then he felt something weird and the feeling made him look around. It was like someone was watching him, but not. He couldn't describe it. Josh noticed the curious look on his face.

"What, Dylan?"

Dylan shook his head and turned back to Josh. "I don't know. I just got a funny feeling like someone was looking at me or something. It just felt weird."

Josh shrugged and the two of them finished eating. When they were done, they got up and left the area. At his table Jamie watched them walk away. He wondered where they were going. He watched the two of them until they disappeared from sight. He finished and decided he would go find his next class because there was nothing else to do. He walked around for a bit just checking out the school until it was time for the next class.

When the bell rang he was near his next class which was Physical Science. He found a place in the back again and sat down. As he had in the other classes, he watched the people coming in the room. This time he watched and sure enough the cute boys were in this class as well. The teacher, Mister Elsmore told them that they wouldn't be focusing on just one part of science, but would be touching on a few different types such as physics, chemistry, and geology.

Jamie's next class was Computers. The teacher was Mister Gage. Once again he watched as the parade of cute boys came in. For some reason he felt a little happier that he was sharing his classes with those he was starting to call "the cute boys". The teacher explained that they would be learning to use different applications that would be useful as they went forward into high school, like word processing, spreadsheets, databases, things like that. Maybe even a little bit of programming.

The final class of the day was Social Studies with Mrs. Croskey as the teacher. She was the oldest teacher he had. He thought she might be about fifty. She had some gray in her black hair. The class would be studying US History. Again all of the cute boys were in the room. For the sixth time that day when he heard the name Dakota he thought it was a pretty cool name. No one talked to him, but at least he had lots of eye candy to look at. He just needed to be careful so he wouldn't be caught ogling any of them. Especially Joshua, he thought that was a pretty cool name too and the boy that wore the name looked pretty cool too.

The final bell of the day rang signaling the end of the school day. It was still pretty hot outside and he was glad he had worn a pair of his cargo shorts. Looking around he saw that the majority of kids had the same idea. He went to his locker to put a couple of things inside since he didn't need them at home. When he got outside, he tried to see if he could find Dylan and his friend Josh, but he had no such luck. He let his head droop a little as he walked over to where he was supposed to catch his bus back "home". Part of it was that he was tired and it was hot, but a lot was that he was just feeling a bit lonely.

Dylan and Josh had gotten their bikes and were riding away, when Dylan stopped his bike for a moment and looked around with a puzzled expression on his face.

Josh had stopped once he realized Dylan had stopped. He turned and looked at Dylan and watched him look around for a few moments. "What?"

"I…..I don't know…..I just felt bad for a moment, kinda….unhappy or something like that. It was weird. It's gone now, let's go."

Josh shrugged and joined him. Dylan led the way across Cawston and through Oltman Park.

"Dylan, where are you going?"

"I just want to check something out."

Josh shrugged and followed along.

They went through Oltman Park and were soon on Cornflower Drive. He led the way and stopped in front of one house. Josh saw that it was the house where they had seen that kid.

Dylan looked at the house for a few moments before turning to Josh. "It looks and feels empty, like no one lives here."

"It is empty."


He turned to look at Josh and saw him pointing to a For Sale sign on the front yard.

"Oh. I wonder what happened?"

"Don't know, maybe they decided they didn't like the neighborhood."

Dylan sighed and turned south to head towards home. He headed back through the park and down Cawston until he could turn into his neighborhood. Josh stopped at Dylan's house for an hour before he continued on to his home at the condominium complex nearby.

Jamie's ride home was pretty much a repeat of the ride to school. No one talked to him. He leaned his head against the window and looked out at the houses and businesses. He looked in the direction of the neighborhood that he was supposed to have been living in. When he thought about that, his eyes got a little damp and he quickly wiped his eyes before anyone could see him. Twenty minutes later, the bus stopped and Jamie got out and started walking to his foster home.

When he got home, he saw that Shane and Mark were already home, they went to Whittier Elementary, which was much closer than his school. They greeted him when he came in the door.

"Hi Jamie."

"Hi guys."

Maggie was there as well and looked up when he came in, "Hi Jamie. Would you like a snack or something? There are some drinks in the fridge."

He nodded his thanks to Maggie and went into the kitchen to grab a coke and sat down with the boys to watch afternoon television.

Nothing much changed for Jamie over the next couple of weeks. He went to school, he did his homework, and he went home. No one really talked to him outside of a school assignment. What he usually did was go to the library after eating lunch. He had gone out to the sports fields and watched some of the guys play soccer or flag football. No one asked him to join, because they didn't know him. Sometimes he saw Josh and some of the other cute boys playing. Dakota was real athletic, he was better than anyone out there. Eventually he decided to spend time in the library after he had eaten. He used the time to do his homework. When he didn't have homework he would read a book that he checked out from the library. One bright point in all this was that one day when he got home from school Maggie brought him out to the garage to show him something. When she opened the door, he saw his bike parked inside.

He went over to it and ran his hand along the handlebars before turning to Maggie. "How did you get it?"

"A very nice man from CPS came by today. Mister Jackson was his name. There was a delivery van that pulled up behind him. The man had the men from the delivery van carry several boxes and other things into your room. He also said that your cell phone was paid up for the year and that someone would be here in the next couple of days to set up the cable for the house and the internet connection for your computer. He said it was all paid for the year as well."

"Wow, thanks Maggie, I'm going to go check my room."


Jamie went into his room. He saw all the stuff in the room. His small entertainment center was against one wall, with his TV, Playstation 3 and stereo set up in it. His desktop computer and printer were sitting on his desk. He then noticed it was his desk from his room. He started going through the boxes and found the rest of his clothes. As he opened the other boxes he found more of his things; CD's, DVD's, video and computer games, and books. It looked like everything from his room was in the boxes. He saw that the pictures and posters were there as well. He felt a little better with his things around him. He immediately started unpacking the boxes and putting things away. Shane and Mark soon came in and asked if they could help. He smiled at them and nodded. With the two boys helping, he soon had most everything arranged the way he wanted it. The cable wasn't hooked up yet, but he set up his Playstation and the three boys started to play a game.

They were interrupted by Maggie, "Go wash up boys, dinner will be ready soon."

The boys put the controllers up and Jamie turned off the game and put everything away. When Jamie got to the table he thanked Tom, "Thanks for getting my stuff for me."

"I'm glad they delivered it. Your case worker said she didn't know when or if she could arrange to get it here. So I'm pleasantly surprised that she delivered."

"I'm going to start riding my bike to school instead of taking the bus, if that's okay. It's just a few miles, so it won't take me long to get there."

"Okay, if that's what you want, but what about when it rains?"

"I guess I can take the bus then."

After dinner, Jamie went back to his room and picked up all the boxes from his room, collapsed them and put them out in the garage. After dinner Maggie and Tom made sure everyone got to work on their homework. Once homework was done the three boys played some video games. Tom sent the two younger boys to bed when it was nine o'clock. Since Jamie was older, he was allowed to stay up a little while later. By ten he had everything turned off and went to bed as well. He had a smile on his face when he went to sleep that night.

The next day, Jamie got his bike out and headed to school. He made sure that he left with plenty of time so that he could get an idea about how long it would take to get to school. It took him about twenty minutes taking his time, so he knew if he wanted to hurry he thought he could get there in about fifteen minutes if he had to. At school he locked up his bike in the bike cage and headed to his homeroom. Just as he left the cage, a large Hispanic kid, slammed into him from behind causing him to hit the fence of the cage and drop his backpack.

"Watch where you're goin', maricon." He glared at Jamie for a moment before walking away and joining his friends, who all laughed at the smaller white boy as they slapped hands.

Jamie had been feeling good from the morning bike ride to school until then. He picked up his dropped backpack and went to his locker to get some books before going to his homeroom. He sat in his normal seat and waited for class to start. He watched Dylan and Joshua enter class and sit down. He watched the two of them, especially Joshua. There was something about Joshua that interested Jamie, besides he was cute, but of course he didn't know if Joshua was like him or not. He gave a little sigh and turned his attention to the teacher.

On his way to PE, he was at his locker putting his backpack and books away, since he wouldn't need it until after lunch. He was pushed into his locker and his cheek hit the door. From behind he heard a familiar hateful voice.

"What did I say, maricon? Watch where you goin', gringo." The voice was followed by laughter.

Jamie looked and saw the same big kid from this morning walking backwards and smiling at him for a few moments before turning away to join his friends. He put his hand up to his cheek and rubbed it. He gritted his teeth and muttered under his breath, "Asshole."

In the PE locker room he changed quickly and went outside for roll call before they split everyone up for flag football. Dylan and Josh came in the locker room and started changing. Dylan felt something that caused him to pause and look around. He looked toward the door and saw a boy with golden hair leaving the room. He frowned a little, there was something about him. He scratched his head puzzled by what he was feeling. The feeling went away a few moments later and he finished dressing.

When he got outside, he looked around for the boy he had seen leaving the locker room. He saw him near the front of the class. The coach quickly checked everyone that was there off on his roll. He split the class in half and led them out to the field to play. Dylan found himself on the same team as the golden haired boy he'd seen leaving the locker room earlier. As they headed to the field Dylan moved closer to the boy.


Jamie didn't say anything because no one had ever said anything to him in the class, so he was caught unaware for a moment. "Um…Hi."

"I'm Dylan."

"Yeah…I know."

"Do I know you?"

"I guess not."

Dylan heard and thought he could feel the disappointment in the boy's voice. It gave him goose bumps, "So what's your name?"

He muttered something that Dylan could barely hear. "I told you before."


"I said Jamie. My name is Jamie."


Something clicked in Dylan, he put together the boy's voice, what he had barely heard Jamie about telling him before and his name. He remembered Jamie from the first day at school asking him for directions. He felt a little bit of shame, when he realized he had actually said that he would see him in class and he realized he had completely forgotten about Jamie. He reached out and gently grabbed Jamie's shoulder causing Jamie to stop and look at him suspiciously.

"I'm sorry Jamie."

"For what?"

"For the first day of school, I forgot about you after we met."

Jamie felt a little hope that he hadn't been completely forgotten. "S'alright."

"No it's not. I feel really bad about it. When do you have lunch?

"After this class."

"Do you mind if my friend and I sit with you?"

"Uh, I guess that would be okay."


"Robinson, Carpenter! Do you plan on joining us?"

The boys looked at the coach who was standing at the edge of the field scowling at them. The boys hurried up to join their teammates as the game started. At the end of class, Jamie showered quickly and went looking for Dylan. He couldn't find him and his shoulders slumped a little in disappointment. He headed towards the exit to go to lunch, although he didn't think he felt like eating much. He, in fact, decided to go to the library instead, so he wouldn't happen to see Dylan. He was probably laughing with his friend Joshua about how he had set Jamie up. He had just left the locker room when he was startled by a hand on his shoulder.

"Hey, Jamie, what took you so long? We're hungry."

Jamie looked around and stopped for a moment. On one side was Dylan and on the other was his friend Joshua. When Jamie turned to look at Joshua, he found he couldn't breathe for a moment as he was caught by Joshua's green eyes. They were bright friendly eyes.

"Uh, Jamie? Earth to Jamie."

"Huh, what."

Jamie looked over at Dylan who was smiling at him. "I said are you going to get something from the cafeteria or did you bring your lunch?"

"Oh, I'm getting something from inside."

"Cool, let's go before the best stuff is gone."

"There's best stuff?"

Dylan laughed, "Okay, the less objectionable stuff then."

The three boys giggled and went to the cafeteria. Dylan felt something different right then, it was a spike of happiness, but it wasn't like he was happy. The feeling puzzled him but he shrugged it off as the boys entered the cafeteria. They got their lunches and found a place to sit.

"So Jamie, again, I want to apologize. I feel bad about ignoring you all this time."

"Don't worry about it. You didn't know me."

"Maybe, but still it wasn't right. So, I'm sorry."

Jamie nodded his acceptance of the apology.

"So Jamie, you're new here?"

"Yeah, my mom and I moved here from Idaho, just after my birthday." Jamie stopped talking and lowered his head. He had just said that about him and his mom as if everything was fine until he realized what he had said.

Dylan felt his eyes water up because he suddenly felt sad for no reason. He reached out to put his hand on Jamie's shoulder and he felt him trembling. He looked over at Josh, "Josh, let's get Jamie out of here."

"What's wrong?"

"Trust me. You lead Jamie out to the field, I'll bring the food."

Josh looked at Jamie and saw that he hadn't moved during all this. He was still looking down. When Josh put his hand under his arm he felt Jamie trembling. He got really concerned for him. Jamie allowed himself to be led away. They were at the edge of the pavilion so they were able to leave without a lot of people looking at them. They got to the fields. There were some other kids out there, so they moved until they were far enough away from everyone else. Josh could feel Jamie's shoulder's heaving and he could hear whimpers coming from him. They kept going until they were in a far corner of the field. When they got there, Josh helped Jamie sit down against the fence.

Dylan put the food down and came to sit on Jamie's other side. They could both see that Jamie's shoulders were shaking now. Josh put his hand on Jamie's back and started rubbing up and down. "What's the matter Jamie? Did we do something wrong?"

Jamie tried to speak but couldn't over the tightness in his throat. He swallowed a couple of times and looked up. Both boys could see the tears on his face.

"I'm sorry for being a crybaby."

"No, no, but what's wrong."

"I…l…lost my m…mom a few weeks ago."

Dylan looked at Josh. Josh nodded and put his arm around Jamie and pulled him closer, "I know what you're feeling."

Jamie looked at him, "H….how could you?"

"My mom died of cancer last year."

Jamie looked into Josh's eyes and saw the pain of loss in them. He just stared for a few moments and once again getting lost in his green eyes. Josh stared back in Jamie's amber eyes. Without thinking about it the two boys moved closer and hugged. Dylan's back was against the fence and he watched them with a little smile on his face. He felt something at that moment; it was like something felt right. The two boys eventually let go of each other and sat back smiling shyly at each other.


"I'm not."

"You're not?"

"Nope. I'm sorry to hear about your mom. What happened?"

"We were coming home from shopping just down the street from here, when someone ran a red light and hit my mom's car on the driver's side. We…we both went to the hospital. I was lucky and only had a few scrapes and bruises. My mom wasn't so lucky and she died at the hospital."

"So you live around here?"

"No. We were going to live right over in the neighborhood across the street on Cornflower, but I live in a foster home on Harvard about four or five miles from here."

Dylan made a connection, "Hey, wait a minute. I remember you. Josh, remember when we saw the kid and his mom getting in their car?"

"Oh, yeah," he looked at Jamie and nodded after a moment.

"Yeah, now that you mention it, it must have been Jamie here."

"I think so too. Jamie, we rode by on our bikes that day and we came back a few days later but no one was there. I guess this is fate, we wanted to meet you then and now we have."

Jamie smiled and wiped the tears from his face. He reached down and picked up his food. He was suddenly hungry. The two other boys joined him and they spent the rest of the lunch period getting to know each other better. A couple of times, Jamie reached out and placed his hand on Josh's arm when he laughed about something that Josh said. Dylan noticed and smiled a little. When the bell rang they hurried to their lockers to get their books. The three of them had Science next period, so they walked together to class. In class Dylan told Mister Elsmore that he, Josh and Jamie wanted to sit together, Mister Elsmore made the changes to his seating chart and Jamie moved up to sit next to Dylan.

When class was over they made plans to meet at the bike cage so that they could ride home together, since Dylan and Josh's homes were on the way home for Jamie. That afternoon when they got to Dylan's house, he asked Jamie if he wanted to come in, but Jamie shook his head.

"Nah, I've gotta get home. Thanks for today. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Why don't you stop by on the way to school and we can ride to school together."


The three boys bumped fists and Jamie rode off. Dylan turned around and headed inside.

Josh stood there and watched until Jamie was out of sight. He only turned around when he couldn't see him. He saw Dylan leaning against the door with a smirk on his face. Josh colored a little, "What?"

"Nothing, nothing at all," he turned around giggling. Josh growled and chased after him.

Jamie rode home in a good mood. He had made a couple of friends today and one of them was Josh. When he got home, he put his bike away and came in the back door.

Maggie was at the dining room table paying some bills. She looked up when he came in, "Hi Jamie. How was school?"

Jamie smiled, "Great."

He went to his room and flopped down on the bed thinking about those green eyes.

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