Lincoln, The Family I Never Expected

Lincoln-7, Resilience

Any and all feedback is welcomed! Please don't be hesitant to contact me through my email, which is located at the end of the chapter.
 
DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT ABUSING CHILDREN. IT IS WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS. IT HAS AN EVERLASTING EFFECT ON PEOPLE.
 
Also, don't forget to read the author notes at the end of this installment!!

LINCOLN, THE FAMILY I NEVER EXPECTED

Installment 7 (Resilience)

Part - 1

Two paths in front of me, one that is apparently better than the other. One seemed darker, less favorable while the other drew me in with bright and colorful lights. The shining path just looked so fun, but there was a piercing sound that took my attention to the dark side. I couldn't quite comprehend what the sound was, but its noise level kept increasing and increasing. The sound was laughter mixed with fear and screams. I was intrigued by it; I wanted to know what the sound was, so I took one step forward, my heart beating like a drum as sweat filled my palms. I took another step forward and another step. I started to notice someone sitting in front of me, I took another step, and the person looked at me. I couldn't figure out who the person was, but as I got closer to the figure, the noise kept getting louder. I took another step, and the path became lighter, but the sound pierced my ears. I took another step, 
 
"Fuck," I shouted as I jumped up from my sleep. I looked at the clock, and it read 7:30am. I wanted to fall back asleep and see if I could go further inside that dream but realized the boys would be waking soon, and I better start my day. I hopped in the shower and started washing my body and rinsing the shampoo out of my head when I heard a godly scream. It was unbelievably loud that I threw on my robe and raced towards the sound.
 
The screams were coming from Lincoln's room, when I barged into the door, I saw him curdled in a ball sitting in the corner.
 
"Lincoln," I shouted.
 
He looked up at me, and I saw tears running down his face as he had trouble speaking, "I... I... I"
 
"Lincoln, it's okay. I am here buddy," I said as I went to the corner and picked him up and we went to bed.
 
"I swear.... I, I swear this one was so real. I could feel and smell everything happening. I felt the guy hit me, I could feel how warm the blood was... I could even smell it. I... I," he cried 
 
"Shhhhh, I am here, and it was a dream, it's okay," I replied. This was the worst I've seen Lincoln after one of these flashbacks or dreams. He was shaking in my arms, almost uncontrollably. It was really concerning because he could barely talk.
 
"Is he okay?" Asked Ryker. Ryker was standing in the doorway, as were the other two brothers. This was their first time seeing their brother like this, and all three had worried expressions on their faces.
 
"Yes boys, he is okay. It was just a bad dream," I stated, as I cradled Lincoln in my arms. 
 
"why is he shaking so much?" Jacob commented. 
 
"He is just scared. Boys get going to your rooms and get ready for the day." I command. The 3 boys slowly left for there rooms as I heard whispers between them.
 
I had just noticed that Lincoln had peed the bed during this nightmare, as the middle of his bed was soaked. This wasn't the issue though. It dawned on me that these flashbacks and dreams were happening more and more frequently. Each time they increased in intensity. I looked at Lincoln, and he was still crying in my arms, so I spoke to him,
 
"It is okay Lincoln, I am here for you bud. I love you and here to listen." 
 
"Why am I a freak?" He asked.
 
"We've been over this Lincoln. Now stop thinking like that," I insisted.
 
"I... I don't know."
 
"You want to tell me what happened?" I questioned.
 
"It was the same as last time, just really real. I could feel everything and the smells were terr te te te terrible," Lincoln stuttered. 
 
"Oh buddy, I wish I could replace you with me. I hate seeing you like this, and It kills me, not being able to understand what you are going through. However, I just want to say I love you and I am here for you whenever you need it." 
 
"I just want these to stop," he replied.
 
"So do I buddy, so do I...." I responded as I kissed the top of his head. We sat for a minute because I did not want to overload him with questions. Every time this happens, I say the same stuff, I feel like I am a broken record on repeat, but until we know more from the doctor, I don't know how to treat it.
 
Trying to get his mind off the flashback, I tried some humor, "You gonna be okay? I heard your scream and ran out of the shower, you're a pretty good blanket, and if I must say, you've been keeping me warm.... but this robe is letting too much air hit certain parts if you know what I mean."
 
Lincoln chuckled through his tears and just clung to me tighter, "thanks for being here." 
 
"Your welcome," I replied as he released his grip on me.  He unwrapped his body from me and stood up out of bed. I followed his lead and proceeded to strip his bed of the soaked sheets.
 
"Sorry," he chimed.
 
"Lincoln, it's fine buddy, but go get cleaned up in the shower," I said. I grabbed the sheets and walked out the door as Lincoln stepped into his bathroom. I threw the sheets down the stairs and noted to picked them up on my way to the kitchen.
 
I walked into my room only to be greeted by another crying boy on my bed. 
 
"What's the matter Clay?"
 
"Is... Is Lincoln gonna be okay," he asked.
 
"Yes buddy, he just had a scary nightmare," I replied as I walked over to Clayton and picked him up for a hug.
 
"Are you sure?" He questioned.
 
"Positive little buddy," I said.
 
"He looked really really scared," commented Clayton.
 
"Yeah," I simply said, "he was scared, but now he is okay."
 
"Can I go give him a hug?" 
 
"He is in the shower right now, in fact, you haven't had a shower since Thursday night, want to hop in the shower with me really quick?"
 
"Yeah sure," Clayton responded excitedly. 
 
I set Clayton down and removed his underwear. We walked to the shower and jumped in. Clayton wanted to clean his hair which was quite funny to see as he used an excessive amount of shampoo and it took forever to rinse out. I cleaned the rest of him and washed the rest of my body.  I let Clayton play in the shower for a minute or two as I stepped out and dried myself and put my robe back on. Clayton wanted to be wrapped in a towel cocoon, so we played our game we created on the first night. After successfully capturing Clayton in a towel, he went back to his room as I checked on Ryker and Jacob. To my surprise, both of them were back asleep in Ryker's room. It was still early in the morning, but it stumped me to why they were in the same bed.
 
I decided to take Clayton down for some early morning cartoons, but before we went down, I checked on Lincoln and told him we were heading downstairs. Walking down the steps, I picked up the dirty sheets and tossed them in the laundry room. We walked into the family room and sat on the couch. Clayton took his usual position on my lap, and we turned on the TV. Much to my surprise, the cartoon Tom and Jerry was on. 
 
"You watch this show?" I asked Clayton.
 
"No, I don't know what this even is. They don't even say words.... This is stupid." 
 
"This was one of the best TV shows around, you got to give it a chance," I insisted. 
 
"But they don't say nothing, just noises." 
 
"Come on Clay, give it a chance," I said.
 
"Finnnee," he replied. 
 
We watched TV for around 5 minutes, and then Lincoln came downstairs. Clayton leaped off my lap, and ran towards his brother and gave him a hug.
 
"I don't like scary dreams either," he said to Lincoln.
 
"Thanks Clay, I don't either," Lincoln returned as he kissed his brother's head. Both boys returned to the couch as Clayton took my lap, and Lincoln laid down with his head on my unoccupied left thigh. We turned our attention to the TV when Lincoln spoke,
 
"Why don't they talk?" 
 
"I give up," I yelled with sarcasm. "You boys pick the show." 
 
"Yesss finally," chimed Clayton. We put another cartoon show on, and the boys became immersed in the program. I was scratching Lincoln's head, and Clayton was dozing in and out of sleep. 
 
We watched one and a half episodes, and I noted it was time to start prepping breakfast. Rita never works weekends, I always gave her time off because she does so much for me. However, when I host parties and get-togethers, she usually stays over and oversees everything. I might have to reconsider having her come work on weekends, when school and extracurricular activities start, it may become chaotic around here. 
 
I was off to the kitchen as Lincoln and Clayton stayed behind. I wanted something simple, so cereal was the plan. As I was getting the bowls ready, I received a text from Lucas confirming they'd be coming up on Friday and leaving Sunday. I still had to tell the boys about this party but was going to wait until later in the day. 

Part - 2

I woke the sleeping beauties from Ryker's room and told them to join me and the other two for breakfast. Breakfast went by, and the boys went off to do their own thing, they played in the basement for the first time using the game room. I decided to give Kelly a call, 
 
"Hey Sis," I began 
 
"Hey, what's up?"
 
"Did you ever find out about Jacob and the father," I questioned.
 
"To my knowledge, his father is the same as the rest of the boys. The blood test was done on the boys, and the evidence showed that the father and Jacob are related," returned Kelly.
 
"What blood tests?"
 
"When the boys were taken for doctor visits, Lincoln and Jacob had blood work to check for any diseases."
 
"Diseases? You mean STDs or Aids. Why didn't you tell me this?" I asked.
 
"Well it's nothing to get worked up about, DNA test came back, but the other tests will take a while. Don't worry about it, it's highly unlikely," she responded.
 
"I would still like to be informed next time," I demanded. 
 
"You will be, I promise," spoke Kelly. "Have you looked into any schools for the boys to start next Monday?"
 
"I was waiting for your list, but I looked into this private school. It may be hard to enroll them since the semester already started." 
 
"Well, Northbury School district is a phenomenal public school district."
 
"So I have heard. By the way, what grades are the boys in?" I asked.
 
"Ummm, let me see. Lincoln just turned 11, so he is in 5th grade. Ryker is in 3rd grade. Jacob should be in 1st grade, and little Clayton is in Kindergarten," stated Kelly.
 
"Well, that should be easier for all of us, all in one elementary school."
 
"Yeah should be. Oh before I forget, I'll send you the morgues number to claim the bodies. I believe they are open until noon today," remembered Kelly. "Also, tomorrow someone from the police department will meet you at the Barnard's house. They will let you in and will stay throughout the process. You can tell the officer to wait in the car or do what you want. You are supposed to be there at 11:30."
 
"I better get to claiming the bodies, I will talk to you later sis and thank you for the information," I said and hung up the phone. I dialed the morgues number and claimed the body. Since none of the boys wanted to talk about it, I decided to go against the parent's wishes and not have them cremated. I called a funeral home to come get the bodies. I wanted an open casket and told the funeral director to not save a penny, as the parents needed to look as good as possible for the boys. The viewing was planned for Wednesday and the funeral on Thursday, I didn't want to make it a quick process, however, the faster we got it done, the better off the boys would be, especially Jacob. I tried to talk to Jacob in private, so I called him upstairs.
 
"Am I in trouble?" Asked Jacob.
 
"What, no, of course not." I said, "so next Wednesday and Thursday we are going to have a funeral for your parents. I wanted to tell you in private, so if you had any questions, you could ask them."
 
Jacob looked like he was about to puke, and quietly whisper, "do I have to?"
 
"I am not forcing you, but I think it will be good to get closure."
 
"No, I don't wanna," he said and started to cry. 
 
"Listen buddy, I am not going to force you. But I want you to think about it, maybe you could go and just support your brothers, they're going to need you," I spoke.
 
"Really?"
 
"Yeah, just take some time to think about it," 
 
"Can I go," he questioned, as he wiped the tears away from his face.
 
"Not before I get a hug," I smiled. That seemed to put a smile on Jacob's face as he ran over and leaped into my lap. "Thanks bud, you're good to go," I said. "Wait actually, go get your brothers and bring them back up."
 
"Okay," Jacob said with a confused tone. He returned soon with the rest of the boys, and we sat down in the family room. I started the conversation,
 
"So a few things I want to mention to you all. First, tomorrow morning around 10 we are leaving for Columbus, to go grab any belongings you want from your house. Second, next Wednesday and Thursday, we are holding a service for your parents. It will be a small gathering of people, but it is mainly for you boys to reflect and have some closure." Everyone was silent, as they were taking in the information. I was questioning whether or not this was a good time to tell them about the family party but decided to anyway. "Lastly, next Saturday we are hosting a party. My family is coming in to celebrate."
 
"Celebrate what?" Asked Ryker.
 
"You guys becoming my foster kids, they can't wait to meet you all," I stated.
 
"REALLY?" Echoed the boys.
 
"Absolutely. My Mom and Dad are coming in Thursday and staying till Sunday. My brother Lucas, his wife Katherine, and their 3 boys are coming on Friday and staying with us until Sunday." 
 
"It'll be like a sleepover, we never had one of those," stated Lincoln with excitement. 
 
"Yeah exactly, some of you might have to share a bed or two with each other, but it will be tons of fun, I promise," I said. 
 
"Are they close to our age?" Ryker enthusiastically asked.
 
"Yup, LJ is 10. Ashton is 8 and Jackson is 6," I stated. "Also Kelly is bringing her family, but won't be staying the night. However, her son Christian who is 13 might stay the weekend with us. Calvin my oldest brother is bringing his family to the party as well. He has 4 kids."
 
"This is gonna be awesome!" Chimed Clayton. All the boys were talking about who will give up their beds and so on but Jacob wasn't conversating. I don't know if that was because of the news of his parents or if it would be overwhelming to meet everyone. I decided to let it go for the moment and move on. 
 
"Anyone have any questions?" 
 
"Where is Rita," asked Ryker.
 
"Wasn't a question I was expecting, but she does not work on weekends. Those are her days off," I replied.
 
"Oh okay," Ryker commented. 
 
"No more questions, you boys can go play," I insisted. All the boys tore off for the basement expect Jacob, I figured he wanted to speak to me.
 
"What's the matter bud?" 
 
"Umm. What.... What if I don't want to share a bed?"
 
"Well," I thought for a second. "When I was saying share, I meant to share with one of your brothers, but if you didn't want to do that, then you could share my bed with me."
 
"Oh okay," he replied and went downstairs to play with his brothers. He was acting strange, more reserved than usual, but I figured it was him still deciding on the funeral information.
 
The rest of Saturday flew by, we watched the second Harry Potter Movie. After the film, I went downstairs and showed the boys who own's the bubble hockey table. However, I did get my butt beat pretty bad at table tennis. Before we knew it, the time was 9:30pm, and I started the boys on their bedtime routine. This time Jacob and Ryker wanted to have a bath, so I put them in my bathtub for a rinse. Clayton and Lincoln showered together in Lincoln's room.
 
The bedtime routine was the same for each boy. I went into their rooms and kissed their heads to tell them goodnight. I went back to my room and grabbed a quick shower and began to ponder about tomorrow. It was going to be an emotional day, and I wasn't sure how the boys were going to react. To be honest, I did not want to put the boys through it, I would much rather buy them new things. However, this was an essential step to recovery and moving forward. I stepped out of the shower, threw on some underwear and jumped in my bed. 
 
No later then 5 minutes after laying down, my door cracked open, and a boy stuck his head through. 
 
"Lincoln?" I asked.
 
"Yeah," he returned.
 
"What's the matter?"
 
"Umm," he paused looking down at the ground. "Never mind."
 
"No, come in here bud, tell me what's up."
 
Lincoln entered my room as he walked over to the side of my bed and leaned against it.
 
"I am afraid to fall asleep," he quickly stated.
 
I took a second before I sat up from the laying position and thought through how to handle this.
 
"Well, looks like we are pulling an all-nighter," I stated, lightly poking him in the stomach. "Hop in bed, come on."
 
"Really?" 
 
"Of course! We can watch a few movies and see how the night goes," I replied.
 
Lincoln didn't even know what to say, he just jumped on me and gave me a hug before crawling to the other side. He was naked, but he quickly climbed under the covers and cuddled against me. We scrolled through a few movies until we landed on one of the greatest films ever, "Batman, The Dark Knight."  Lincoln never saw it, so it was perfect, and we started the movie at 10:15. My thoughts were that Lincoln would fall asleep through the film, and to try to help him fall asleep, I was scratching his back, as he laid on his side with his head on my chest. 
 
The movie ended close to 1:00am, but Lincoln wasn't showing any signs of falling asleep, but this whole time he didn't leave my chest. 
 
"What's the next movie?" I asked.
 
"I don't know," he stated as he rotated his body to look at me. Every time I looked at Lincoln, he blew me away with his striking looks, especially those gorgeous blue eyes. 
 
"Well we can watch another movie, or we can talk and try to fall asleep," I suggested. 
 
"Umm, I don't know." He pondered for a few seconds, "I have a question I've wanted to ask."
 
"Let me hear it."
 
"Why do you want to help my brothers and me?"
 
"Hmm that's a good question," I began. "When I first saw you in the parking lot, I had no intentions of helping besides getting you cleaned and fed. However, I quickly realized, that I didn't want that. I saw the hurt in your eyes, and it made me angry that I couldn't change it. Then when we started talking, and I cleaned you up I noticed I didn't want to see you hurt like that ever again. When we got your brothers, it was just an added bonus. So for the first 15-20 minutes of meeting you, I didn't really think of helping beyond cleaning and feeding you.  However, you changed my perception rather quickly, and I am so happy that you did. You boys have been the greatest thing to happen to me, and it's only been a short time. Every day I am learning new things, and it is remarkable. I love you, and I love all your brothers, but the reason I want to help you out, is because I can't picture my life without you boys anymore. I am so excited for the challenges and accomplishments in the future, and to be able to spend it with you all is an added bonus."
 
"Thanks," he said as he was smiling at me.
 
"I just want you to know that I am always here for you and your brothers. You all mean so much to me," I said.
 
"Love you," he replied.
 
"Love you to Lincoln. So we down for another movie or do we want to talk more," I asked.
 
"Yeah another movie," Lincoln returned. 
 
We were searching Netflix when he came across the movie Avatar. We were watching all the excellent films tonight, but before we started, I shifted my body to lay on my side, and Lincoln shaped his body to mine.  We started the movie around 1:20 am, and luckily for me, Lincoln fell asleep about 40 minutes into the film with his head resting on my arm. I looked at my sleeping angel, he was adorable, so I gave him a kiss on the cheek, and I fell into a deep sleep shortly after he did.

Part - 3

I woke up on Sunday morning around 7:30 am, only to see Lincoln still sleeping like a beautiful angel. I got out of bed to wash my face and brush my teeth. Since we had no incident of a flashback or bed wetting, I decided to wake him up and start the day early for him. 
 
"Good morning bud, time to wake up."
 
"What time is it?" He mumbled.
 
"7:40, I know it is early but guess what?"
 
"Huh?" 
 
"You slept through the night without a flashback or accident!" 
 
Lincoln giggled, "I guess I did!" 
 
"Yeah, so go get a shower, and I will start breakfast. Meet ya downstairs," I stated and kissed him on the forehead. I went downstairs and began cooking scrambled eggs and toast. It didn't take long to prep, so I wrapped foil over the prepared food and went upstairs to get the boys. I went to Lincoln's room first to tell him to get clothes on and head downstairs. I went to Ryker's room next, too see him naked and picking his outfit for the day.
 
"Good morning, surprised to see you up buddy," I stated.
 
"Yeah.... I'm nervous."
 
"Yeah so am I," I said, and stepped into his room. 
 
"What's it gonna be like?" he said referring to returning to his old house. 
 
"Honestly Ryker, I don't know," I said as I wrapped him in a hug and kissed the top of his head. "But I know we will do it together."
 
"Love you."
 
"Love you too kid. Now go get some clothes on, breakfast is ready," I said and lightly gave him a pat on his butt.
 
I woke up the other two boys, and everyone was downstairs eating. There was a sense of uneasiness around the table, this would be there first time stepping foot inside the house since the accident. After breakfast, we had about 45 minutes to kill before loading into the Mercedes. As we were waiting, Jacob came up to me and asked to talk in private.
 
"So what's up?" I questioned.
 
"Umm, I don't want to see my dad, but-but I will go for my brothers," he stated
 
"Jacob, that is very brave and very thoughtful, I am beyond proud of you bud," I returned and gave a hug.
 
"Thanks," was all Jacob replied. 
 
We loaded into the car and were on our way to their old house. The car ride was silent, it wasn't an awkward silence, just a nervous one. To me, this was the first step of the healing process for the kids. Going home, and stepping into the house for the final time was going to be difficult for them, but it was very much needed in my eyes. 
 
As we pulled up to the house, we were greeted by the officer who would be letting us into the home. He was a good-looking man, maybe late 20s or earlier 30s, and as we jumped out of the car he introduced himself,
 
"Hi, I am Officer Rory King. I've heard a lot about this case, and I was actually one of the first people on the scene." 
 
"Hi officer King, I'm Garret Hamel, nice to meet you. These guys are Lincoln, Ryker, Jacob, and Clayton," I responded.
 
"Clay," Clayton corrected me.
 
"Sorry, this is Clay," I returned.
 
"Well, it's nice to meet you all, wish it could be under better circumstances." Officer King spoke as he gave the keys to me, "now I am here to let you all into the house, take as long as you all want, and if you need any help moving anything just give me a call, I'll be waiting inside my patrol car." 
 
"Thanks," I said and grabbed the keys. We walked to the front door, and I unlocked it. We took our first steps inside and saw the family room where the mother had been killed. 
 
"It looks like nothing happen," stated Lincoln with a surprised look. 
 
"Yeah bud, they cleaned everything up." 
 
"Oh," he returned in a frozen state.
 
"You okay?" I whispered to Lincoln "not having a flashback are you?"
 
"No no, I'm good, this is just weird," Lincoln returned. 
 
"Okay, I am here if you need anything," I responded as I rubbed his back.
 
I began to tell the boys, "Alright, everyone go to their rooms and start gathering things you would like to take back to our home. I'll be up to check on you all in a few minutes. Take as much time as you want." 
 
The four boys all went upstairs, and I strolled around the ground floor giving them some personal time. As I walked around, I noticed how severe the conditions in which these boys use to live in. The had a broken window, which let a chilly breeze into the bathroom. The old tile flooring was disgusting and cracked, probably leaking chemicals into the home. There was a noticeable blood stain in the kitchen, and I'm assuming that's where the father was killed. In the hallway leading to the back door, they had holes in the walls and water spots that appeared to have mold on them. I was down there for about 5 minutes when I decided I had enough. I made my way upstairs, only to see the conditions worsen.
 
The only bathroom facility this house had, was the one on the ground floor. The upstairs was divided up into 3 rooms: the parents, Lincoln and Ryker's roo,, and Jacob and Clayton's room. No one was in the parent's room, so I stepped inside Jacob and Clayton's room first.
 
"Hey boys, how's everything going."
 
Clayton, not fully understanding the issue said, "Garret, look at my bedroom. This is my bed." 
 
"Oh wow! it is nice buddy," I said trying not to bring his mood down. For some odd reason, his bed was larger than Jacobs. This father must have had it out for Jacob since day one. All these things that Jacob had were lesser. For example, his bed was smaller than his younger brothers. Jacobs clothes weren't as new and looked like hand-downs from Lincoln. It was just an extraordinary feeling that I couldn't grasp or explain. I went over and sat on the bed to talk with Jacob.
 
"How you doing, find anything you want to take?" I asked as I patted his thigh. 
 
"No, I just wanna leave," he responded as he gripped onto a stuffed animal puppy dog.
 
"Whose this?" I questioned pointing to his stuffed animal. 
 
"Her name is Riley," he returned and hugged the stuffed dog tighter.
 
"Well, I hope you are bringing Riley home with you."
 
"I am," Jacob said. He was reserved about the stuffed animal and wasn't saying much so I let him go and went to check what Clayton was bringing. 
 
"What is this?" I asked picking up a toy in Clayton's pile.
 
"That is my rock," he replied.
 
"Why do you have a rock?" 
 
"I don't know? To play with," he stated. 
 
"Alright," I chuckled. "What's this one?"
 
"That's my favorite book."
 
"Ohh okay, maybe we will have to read it together," I mentioned 
 
"Really?" 
 
"Yah, for sure buddy." 
 
I decided that it was time to check on Ryker and Lincoln as walked into their room. I was utterly blown away by the terrible living conditions. The tarp that covered the roof was fully visible from the boy's room. There was a large metal pole in the middle of the room, supporting the tarp so it wouldn't cave in. Holes in the tarp allowed water to accumulate on the floor, and everything reeked of an old musty smell.
 
The boys seemed to noticed by shock and asked me, "you okay?"
 
"Yeah, I just can't believe how you guys use to live," I stated. Trying to turn the attention away from me I asked them what they wanted to bring.
 
Ryker started first, "I am taking some of my clothes and books." 
 
Lincoln began, "I am taking this book and a few photos. You already bought us a lot of stuff anyway."
 
"Well take your guys time, we are in no rush to leave," I assured them.
 
The boys were in their rooms for another 30 minutes and decided that they had everything they wanted. I was loading Jacob and Clayton's stuff into the car when I heard Ryker yell for my name.
 
I ran off inside to see Lincoln collapsed on the floor with all his belongings scattered.
 
"Ryker go outside and wait with your brothers," I commanded.
 
"But but," he stuttered. 
 
"Now," I raised my voice. 
 
Lincoln was just shaking on the floor, I knew it was another flashback, but he wasn't coming out of it this time. 
 
"Lincoln, Lincoln, come on buddy. It's okay, I am here," I whispered into his ear, as I brought his upper body into my arms to cradle. This was my biggest fear about bringing him back here, I knew something would set him off, but I thought it would have been when we entered the house, not when we left. 
 
"Lincoln," I said another time. It was becoming concerning, and I was about to go get the police officer, but he finally woke up from his hell.
 
"Garret," Lincoln said. "I can't do this anymore."
 
"It's okay," I said.
 
"No it's not," he bawled.
 
"What happened this time," I asked.
 
"Sa sa same thing as last time, but I saw mommy die."
 
I didn't have a response to him, I didn't know how to respond. It wasn't something I knew how to handle, but I just wanted to show him support, so I hugged him tighter. 
 
"I'm sorry Lincoln." 
 
"Can we just leave?" he cried.
 
"Yeah, sure thing. I'll pick up your stuff, and you go to the car," I suggested. Lincoln walked out, and I started picking up the items he wanted to bring. I noticed the book he mentioned was not a book, but a journal. I desperately wanted to open it but thought he wouldn't appreciate an invasion of privacy. I walked to the Mercedes and loaded the items into the trunk. I saw the three boys comforting Lincoln, and it warmed my heart. I returned the keys to Officer King.
 
"Thanks," I said.
 
"My pleasure," he stated. "Mr. Hamel, I think you are doing a terrific thing for them. Being so involved in this case, I have kept up with where the boys have been going. If you ever need anything, please give me a call. Here is my number."
 
"Call me Garret, and thank you. But they are the ones I should be thanking for improving my life." I returned and walked back to my vehicle. 
 
The car ride home was dull, but it didn't matter because all  I was concerned with was Lincoln's well being. I had to wake up early and see if a therapist would be willing to look at the boys on such short notice. 
 
We pulled into the garage, and the boys all went to their separate rooms to put away their stuff. 
 
The snow was melting, and we only had about another inch or two on the ground. I was hoping for warmer weather for the boy's party and partly because I wanted to drive the Ferrari. That beast just teases me every day.
 
I walked inside only to have my cell phone go off.
 
"Hey, mom, what's up?" 
 
"Hey honey, just checking in. We are still good to come up Thursday afternoon?" 
 
"Mom, you guys might have to come in late Thursday. The boy's parents funeral is that day, but they also have a viewing on Wednesday."
 
"Oh," she said and paused for a moment. "Well, I guess we are coming on Wednesday morning."
 
"Wait... what?" 
 
"Yeah," she said. "You want us to be active in their life, and this is an important moment in which family comes together. We want to support them. Plus we will get to be there an extra day and meet them."
 
"Whoa, I mean that would be wonderful mom. I didn't even think about that. Thank you," I replied.
 
"That's what family is for honey," she replied. "Now how they doing?"
 
"We had a rough morning, had to go back to their old house and pick up belongings. Lincoln had a flashback, and it wasn't the greatest. However, we are making progress I believe. I am trying to get a therapy appointment set up for Monday."
 
"Yeah, that would be an important step, having Lincoln talk with someone is a crucial part of his recovery." My mom stated, "oh off topic, do you have clothes for the boys to wear to the funeral and viewing?"
 
"Oh my gosh, I haven't even thought of that yet. I will have to take them to get fitted for some clothes tomorrow as well," I noted. 
 
"What would you do without me," she chuckled. 
 
"Thanks mom, love you, I can't wait to see dad and you," I remarked. 
 
"See you soon honey, bye."
 
My mother hung up the phone, and I walked upstairs to check on the boys. I was quickly questioned by Ryker and Jacob.
 
"Can we go in the hot tub again." 
 
"Hmm, I don't see why not, just have to make sure everyone wants to do that." 
 
"Can we go naked?" Jacob shyly asked.
 
"Well we haven't bought you swimsuits yet, so I guess that's the only way," I joked as I tussled his hair. "Go tell Lincoln and I'll tell Clayton."
 
The boys came barging downstairs in the stark, it was quite hilarious to see. I noted that buying swimsuits was a good idea since we didn't have any yet. I opened the hot tub up, and they all jumped in. I was taking a pass on this time but told them if we go later tonight that I would join them. I stayed outside and sat on a bench near the hot tub to watch over them, but I also had some work to do. I promised Keith, the guy I was starting my foundation with, I would have a name and a reason to start our organization.
 
I pondered many names: GH Foundation (Garret Hamel Foundation), FTSC (Foundation for Trauma/Stressed Children), HCN foundation (Homes for Children in Need Foundation). Nothing was sounding good to me, and I became frustrated because it was taking me so long. It was around 45 minutes, and I looked over to check on the boys, and then it clicked. 
 
I called Keith, "hey buddy, how ya doing?"
 
"Hey Garret, I'm good. Been waiting for this call all day," he replied.
 
"I know, I know. Been wrapped up with a few things. Although I have a name, and somewhat of reason, but we will definitely need to elaborate and build ideas from it."
 
"Sounds great," Keith replied. "Lay it on me!"
 
"Alright, so the name is going to be "Home for the Lacking, Runaways, Jeopardized Children Organization" or HLRJC Organization for short. Our objective will be to provide a stable environment for children in these categories that don't have a home." I explained, "It sounds like foster care, but it isn't. Foster care places children with other families, most of the time it works out, but they do run into problems. Instead of placing kids with other families, we place children in a facility that we own. Now it is starting to sound like an orphanage, but it isn't. Inside our facility will be rooms to sleep and areas to learn and do school work. There will be state of the art technology for these kids to have and they will be supervised and have opportunities that other children in orphanages wouldn't. Each child will have there own room and bathroom area. Once they are in our system, if they are not adopted before college, then we, the organization, will pay for the education. Look I know this is a lot of information, and we will have to go detail into detail to sort it out. However, you asked for a general idea and a name, so I gave you one."
 
"Well, you did not disappoint Garret. This is something I can begin to dig my teeth into. I'll get back to you in a few weeks, as I am sure you have your hands full," returned Keith.
 
"Oh I do, I don't know if I told you, but I did get the boys. It's been chaotic, but I am loving every second of it." 
 
"That is terrific, I am happy for you." Keith asked, "so how did you come up with the name?"
 
I chuckled, "well the boys are enjoying themselves in the hot tub, and I looked over and realized that using their initials would be a great idea." I began to break down the name, "H stands for my last name and Home. L stands for Lincoln and Lacking. R stands for Ryker and Runaways, J is for Jacob and Jeopardized, and finally, C is for Clayton and Children."
 
"That is awesome, we will have a backstory to the organization. That's amazing Garret!" 
 
"Thanks Keith."
 
We talked on the phone for another 5 minutes before he hung up. I was greeted by a naked 5-year old that hopped onto my lap.
 
"You're soaking wet," I joked as I tickled the boy. His laughter was music to my ears. I grabbed a towel I had set down beside me and dropped it over his head. I picked his small frame body of my lap and wrapped the towel to cover all of him before placing him back on my lap.
 
"I am hungry," Clayton spoke.
 
"So am I," I said. "It's almost dinner time, so how about we go have a small snack."
 
"Yes," he cheered and ran off to the inside. 
 
I went over and told the other three about the snack idea, and they were racing to get out. Lincoln stepped out first with a full-on erection.
 
"Hey, I can do that too," Ryker said and began messing with his penis.
 
It took me a second to realize what he was referring to with Lincoln, and spoke, "we believe you bud, don't need." 
 
It was too late, he now had a full on erection and was giggling his butt off. It started a chain reaction because Jacob now stood at full mast and the three boys paraded to their towels with pride. I just shook my head and laughed, no need to make them feel embarrassed about their bodies, especially with how amazing they look. 
 
We made snacks, and then I started cooking dinner, and they watched TV. I made my famous meatloaf recipe with sides of corn, mashed potatoes, and green beans. It was an excellent choice, the boys loved every bit of the meal. Now I said I wasn't a good chef, and trust me I am not. I just learned how to make 3 or 4 tasty meals that I keep ready in situations like this.
 
We were back in the hot tub as I promised the boys I would join them. It turned into a competition of who could hold their breath the longest. We spent about 45 minutes doing that, and I told the boys to go get a shower as it was getting late. 
 
I was putting the boys to bed and then came to Lincoln's room. 
 
"Can I sleep with you again?" he asked.
 
"How about I sleep in your bed tonight?" 
 
"Yeah that works!" He said excitedly.
 
"Before bed, we should put more cream on the cut." 
 
Lincoln was already in the buck from his shower, so he just turned around to lay on his stomach and spread his legs apart. I went to his bathroom and grabbed the cream. I kneed on his bed between his open legs, and with my left hand, I parted his cheeks and then with my right I put the cream on and rubbed it in.
 
"Mhmm," I heard Lincoln say.
 
"Huh?" I asked.
 
"Nothing, it just feels really really good," he returned. 
 
"It's a sensitive area," I said and withdrew my hand as his comment made me somewhat uncomfortable.
 
It woke Lincoln out of the pleasurable state and he turned over sporting an erection. I laid down next to him, and he crawled into his spot which was draped over me. I could feel his erection on my thigh.
 
As we talked for 5 minutes, his erection wasn't going away, and it was becoming a distraction for me. I didn't want to talk to him about masturbation yet because I felt he was somewhat too young. So I instead told him, 
 
"Lincoln, put some underwear on if you want to cuddle tonight," 
 
"But," he said and quickly realized what happened last time we had an argument about this. Much to my pleasure he got out of bed and stepped into his underwear. He crawled back Into his position. I could still feel his erection, but it wasn't so distracting anymore. I rubbed and scratched his bare back to try and get him to go to sleep. It was around 11:00 and he finally nodded off. 
 
I stepped out of his room and into mine as I was greeted by Ryker sleeping in my bed. He must have not been able to fall asleep, so I just left him on my bed and went to take a quick shower and then threw underwear on and jumped into bed.
 
Ryker in his sleepy state found his way to cuddle next to me and was out before I even had a chance to kiss the top of his head goodnight. I still did though, I loved these boys so much that any chance I had to kiss them goodnight, I would.
 
I fell asleep shortly after.

Part - 4 

I woke up around 7:30 in the morning on Monday and the first thing I did was call a therapist. Her name is Ruth Ainsworth, she is highly recommended for child therapists, I called her office and was lucky enough to convince them to stay open an extra hour late. I told Ruth about the boys past and the flashback Lincoln was having as well as the issues with Jacob and the father. She noticed the urgency in my voice and agreed to stay open an extra hour because all her appointments were taken. I told her, thank you, and we will see you around 5.
 
Before she hung up, she told me that this first meeting was a chance to get to know the boys and she wasn't going to discuss the issues. She also said to me that she likes to do all appointments in privacy and anything the boys tell her in privacy, she couldn't tell me unless she thought they would harm themselves.
 
I completed agree with her tactics and told her I was looking forward to meeting her. 
 
Rita came in around 8 and started to make breakfast for the boys. She was making French toast with fresh apple slices for a side. The boys would be thrilled to have Rita back since I lack in the cooking environment. I told her about the plans for the funeral, viewing, and the party which included when everyone was coming in, and how many were staying with us. I also asked if Rita could watch Ryker and Clayton tonight for a little, while I take the other two boys to the therapist. 
 
Rita gladly accepted the offer to stay with the boys and also stated that she would be glad to attend both the funeral and viewing to show support. She also told me about the menu she was prepping and said how excited she was to have the family coming back to the home. Rita was second family to us, she loved everyone and is always more cheerful when they are close to them arriving.
 
I woke the boys up around 8:15 and told them to get showers and come eat. 
 
They all were excited to see Rita again, and they chowed down on her French toast. 
 
At 9 in the morning, we were out the door and on our way to the suit shop. 
 
"So boys, we are heading to this place to get suits for your parents funeral. They will be taking measurements of your body, such as your waist and arm size, it might be a bit uncomfortable, but it won't last long. Then we are off to the mall to get you all swimsuits and a few more clothes," I stated.
 
The boys understood, and before I knew it, we arrived at the tailor's shop. It took around 2 hours to get all the boys fitted, and shirts picked to their liking. The tailor told me everything would be ready for me to pick up tomorrow around 4. I thanked him, and we were on our way to the mall.
 
"Why do we need swimsuits?" asked Ryker.
 
"You guys can't swim naked forever, especially during the summer time around the lake. Also when we have company and guest staying with us, like this weekend we can't have 4 boys running around in the buck," I replied.
 
"Makes sense," remarked Ryker.
 
All boys picked out their favorite swimsuits which included 5 for each. Most of them were board-shorts; however, Lincoln and Ryker were spontaneous and grabbed a pair of speedos to wear around. Our next stop was Nordstroms where we ran into our favorite sales lady, she gladly helped the boys pick more clothes. 
 
As we were leaving, we passed the electronic store, and I noticed we didn't have any gaming systems for the game room.
 
"What are we doing in here?" questioned Lincoln.
 
"About to buy stuff for my boys," I responded. 
 
"Garret, you don't have to, you spent so much money on us," returned Lincoln.
 
"Yeah," echoed the other three.
 
"Boys listen, you guys deserve these items more than you know, and I don't NEED to spend this money. I WANT to spend my money on you all. You are so important to me, and I want you to pick out a game system and a laptop. The laptop will help you with your schoolwork and homework, it is not a toy to play with, you understand."
 
"Thanks," all the boys said and wrapped me in a hug before running through the store.
 
I didn't think a laptop for Clayton was needed, so I pulled him aside and told him to take an iPad instead of the laptop, and he didn't seem to care.
 
When we were checking out, the boys as a group had two Xbox Ones, Two PlayStation 4s, and I saw a Virtual Reality system for the computer that I thought would be interesting. Each of the boys picked out laptops and went with the MacBook Pro 13 inch screen, as Clayton picked his IPad. They were delighted until they heard the price of everything, and became nervous of how we would pay for it. The total for everything was around 13 grand, and I swiped my card. It was a massive purchase, but instead all of buying each item over a period of time I just bought everything at once which caused the bill to be high.
 
It was around 3 when we pulled into the garage. The boys went springing past Rita with their gaming systems and clothes.
 
I walked into the kitchen and Rita said, "geez Garret, you're spoiling these kids already." 
 
"They deserve it," I laughed. "Plus, when we have all the kids here this weekend, they will be distracted."
 
"That's true, but why didn't you just buy one game system and not 4?" She asked.
 
"I didn't want to deal with the arguing between who plays first and what not," I remarked.
 
"Well, I guess that was a good idea." 
 
"I'll be in my office if you need anything," I spoke.
 
I had to reserve tickets for the hockey game this weekend. We had so many people going that I looked into buying box tickets for it. We would be able to accommodate around 15-20 people, and food would be included so it was a no-brainer and I pulled the trigger. 
 
The boys were hooking up their game systems and running back and forth between each other's rooms to see what games they were playing. For once I wasn't worried about Lincoln having a flashback, as I heard laughter from everyone. 
 
It was 4:30, so we had to get moving for the therapist. I loaded Lincoln and Jacob into the truck, it felt odd to drive the truck again. We usually had a full load, so I was used to only driving the SUV, but it was nice to get behind the wheel of the truck. 
 
We arrived at the office precisely at 5 and was greeted by Ruth. She told the boys to go play in the waiting room while she and I talked.
 
"Mr. Hamel, a pleasure to meet you," she started.
 
"Call me Garret," I returned. "Pleasure is all mine."
 
Ruth is on the heavier side, but not a fat woman, and in her late 40s, her voice was warm and comforting. She is tall standing around 5'11 and has very nice facial features. 
 
"Garret, I just want to inform you about the process I take. This first meeting is a chance for me to get to know the boys, normally it will be the light conversation. I will talk one on one with each of them, as I find the best way to gain their trust, is to be open. Like I mentioned on the phone anything they tell me in private in which they state not to tell you, I won't inform you unless they have a chance of harming themselves. Normally at the end of the meetings, I will call you into the room to discuss progress and changes I see. However, since this is our first meeting, once I am finished with the last boy, you'll be free to go! Also, when you and I chat, this will be your chance to open up and tell me if you see improvements or not."
 
"I understand, I just want to thank you for seeing us on such short notice. Lincoln has been dealing with a lot of emotional distress, but I want him to be the one to tell you and not me," I replied.
 
"Garret one last thing, therapy is not a quick solution. It could take me months to form a bond with these kids. I just want to state that improvement will not come quickly, and do not give up on them. Coming from experience, the parent or role model is the one who has the biggest impact on a child's life. You'll need to be strong and supportive because I am only here for them to talk to and understand problems, that require more thinking. You are there to help guide them through life and understand everyday problems they face." 
 
"I understand, I just want to repeat my thanks." 
 
I left her room, and Jacob went in first. He was in their for 30 minutes, and then Lincoln went in next.
 
I turned to Jacob and asked, "do you like Ruth?"
 
"Yeah she is nice," Jacob responded.
 
We sat in silence for a few minutes until Jacob asked me,
 
"Remember when you said I could sleep with you?"
 
"Yeah?"
 
"Can I? I don't want to share a bed with anyone else."
 
"Of course bud," I said and wrapped my arm around his shoulder. "Couldn't think of a better roommate for the weekend."
 
Jacob looked at me with a smile and leaned into my body, "thanks."
 
Lincoln came out after his 30 minutes, and we were loaded into the car, our next appointment was scheduled for 2 weeks. 
 
The rest of the day wasn't fascinating, the boys were all engrossed in their new game systems and Rita cooked us a fantastic meal. 
 
For the first time in a while, I actually slept in my own bed without any of the boys.
 
Tuesday came and went. I picked up the boys suits, and we just had a beautiful and relaxing day. 
 
Wednesday morning:
 
I woke up to screams and instantly took off to Lincoln's room. He was in the middle of a flashback, as he was shaking with fear.
 
To be continued.......

Author's Notes

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I hope you all enjoyed the 7th installment! If you want to tell me your reactions or thoughts of installment 7 (Resilience) email me! 
 
Once again, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT ABUSING CHILDREN. IT IS WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS. IT HAS AN EVERLASTING EFFECT ON PEOPLE.
 
Third and final, the destinations, streets, events, and locations are made up. I use Columbus as a nearby city, but I'm unaware if the addresses listed are real or not. All scores and games are made up in my head. However, most teams are real.