This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

This story is copyright by Owen Hudson, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.

Dreams Don't Grow on Trees

© 2011 - 2014 Owen Hudson

Chapter Twenty-three

For the sake of their sanity, all were happy when the day arrived for the trail ride. Adam had packed and repacked items from his list. "But, Dad, what if I forgot something?" He asked when Darrell finally told him to leave it alone.

"Adam, we're not going to the moon," Darrell said with a smile.

It was a gorgeous Saturday morning when the families gathered at the Harrington home for a large send-off breakfast. There was a huge skillet of scrambled eggs, biscuits, gravy, sausage, bacon, and pancakes.

Under Jeff's supervision, the pack horses were loaded, but each person was responsible to carry his own sleeping bag and other personal items. And in Adam's case ... extra snacks.

Although not planned, the group rode in small groups toward the camp area. Jeff, Haden, Kyle, and Cody took the lead. Adam, Mark, and Justin filled in the middle while Darrell, Steve, Grant, and Paul brought up the rear. Cody apparently no longer thought of himself as one of the young kids.

Upon arriving at the selected camp site, the first tasks were to unsaddle the horses, unload the supplies from the pack horses, and set up the tents. After the horses were taken to the lake to drink, Jeff showed the others how to tether them for grazing.

"I don't know why we can't ride some more," Adam said, as he tethered Dusty.

"We can ride more tomorrow," Darrell explained. "But for now, we have to give the horses a chance to graze. Remember, we couldn't bring hay and much feed."

"What are we supposed to do while they eat?" Adam asked. "Besides, I'm hungry."

"Adam, it isn't even 11:00 o'clock yet," Darrell said. "You guys can have a snack for now. I don't know how you could be very hungry after that breakfast you ate."

"My mom sent some apple slices and some peanut butter," Jeff said. "I always take some when I go on a trail ride."

"Yeah, that sounds really good," Justin remarked.

"Mom sent enough that we can have this for a snack again tomorrow," Jeff said, after everyone had enjoyed the apple slices with peanut butter.

"We probably should gather some firewood," Paul suggested.

"Yeah, I brought a hatchet and a small saw, if needed," Steve said. "I almost forgot we had these, until Kyle reminded me."

"We need to bring some water from the lake too," Jeff said. "And don't forget to use the purification tablets before drinking it."

"What do we put the water in?" Cody asked.

"I brought some plastic buckets," Jeff said.

"I'll go get the water," Adam quickly offered.

"Haden, go with him," Darrell instructed. "I don't want to be fishing him out of the water."

"The rest of us will gather some firewood while you guys bring the water, then you can help with the firewood." Paul said.

While the wood and water were being brought to the camp, Darrell said, "I suppose we should get a fire started before ... "

"I'm hungry, what's for lunch?" Adam said, after dropping an armload of wood on the pile.

"... that," Darrell said as everyone laughed.

"Well, I am; and I bet everyone else is too," Adam argued.

After getting a campfire going, a pot of water was put on to boil for tomato soup; Darrell and Grant began making grilled cheese sandwich to go with the tomato soup.

"I didn't know anyone made instant tomato soup," Steve said.

"I didn't either, until Jeff and I went to the military surplus store," Darrell admitted. "We decided grilled cheese and tomato soup would be a good first lunch. The instant soup saves a lot of space and weight over the canned variety."

"We didn't bring bowls to put our soup in," Adam said.

"You put it in your cup from your mess kit," Darrell said.

"Who thought to buy mess kits?" Haden asked.

"I got one for everybody," Paul explained.

"Thank you, Paul," Haden said.

"Yeah, thanks, Paul," Steve said. "How much do we owe you for them?"

"You don't owe me anything," Paul said. "I just thought they'd be a good idea."

"We need a dishwasher," Justin proclaimed, after finishing off his sandwich and soup.

"Okay, you're the dishwasher," Grant laughed.

"Whoa, why do I have to wash em?"

"I'm pulling your leg," Grant laughed. "Everyone can wash his own. But I think we're going to need more water."

"I'll get it," Cody offered.

"Come on, Mark and Justin, let's go too," Adam said.

"Would some of you mind helping put up the electric fence?" Jeff asked, after all of the mess kits were washed.

"Sure, we'll help," Kyle offered.

"We'll connect the three fence kits together and make one large corral," Jeff said.

"Why don't we string it across that small stream over there," Haden suggested. "That way, the horses can have access to water."

"I didn't think of that," Jeff admitted. "In fact, I hadn't even noticed the stream."

"When do we put the horses in the corral?" Adam asked.

"We'll put them in it before nightfall," Jeff explained. "We'll move the tether pegs again before then, so they can get plenty of grass. However, we should feed them their alfalfa cubes while they're tethered, that way we can make sure each horse gets their share."

After completing the electric corral, the next task was to move the horses to a new tether location. "We can give them their alfalfa cubes now," Jeff said. "If you guys will start moving the horses, I'll go get the cubes."

"Why did you bring water?" Justin asked, when Jeff returned with the cubes and water.

"We have to moisten the cubes a little, or the horses could choke on them," Jeff explained.

"Dad, where're we riding tomorrow?" Adam asked, after taking care of the horses.

"See that big hill on the other side of the valley?" Darrell asked, then continued without waiting for an answer, "It's called Sutton Mountain; actually, it's more of a hill than a mountain. Anyway, we're riding up to the top of that tomorrow."

"Have you been up there before?" Mark asked.

"Yeah, Ray and I used to ride up there a lot," Darrell said. "Steve, didn't you ride up there with us some?"

"Yeah, two or three times," Steve said. "It's quite a view from up there."

The evening meal was freeze dried beef stroganoff and individual packets of carrots with ranch dip. "This is almost as good as Mom's," Adam proclaimed.

All seemed to agree that the stroganoff wasn't 'bad' at all. All that was required was adding boiling water.

"What's for dessert?" Mark joked, after eating his meal.

"How about some ice cream?" Jeff asked in a serious tone.

"I don't see a Good Humor man out here," Jeremy said.

"Yeah, where would we get ice cream out here?" Mark asked.

"He's pulling your legs?" Adam stated.

"Then I guess I'll have to eat your shares," Jeff teased, as he handed out Astronaut Ice Cream, a freeze dried ice cream bar.

"Hey, this tastes just like real ice cream," Adam proclaimed, after tasting his ice cream bar.

"It is real ice cream," Darrell said.

"Then why isn't it cold?" Mark asked.

"It's a special process where the moister is removed from the ice cream by freeze drying," Darrell said. "I didn't know we could get this either, until Jeff pointed it out to me at the military surplus store. It was developed for the space program."

"Well, I never knew this existed," Paul admitted.

At bedtime, there were two to a tent, except for the three younger boys, who wanted to share the same tent. Haden and Kyle just 'happened' to share a tent. Although it was a chilly night, the sleeping bags kept all warm.

"It's cold," Adam said, as he shivered while trying to warm himself by the morning fire Grant had started.

"Yeah, I'm cold too," Jeremy agreed, as he too joined Adam and Mark next to the fire.

"Where're your jackets?" Grant asked.

"In our tent," Mark said.

"Well, it might be warmer, if you put them on," Paul laughed.

A pot of water was put on to boil for hot drinks and preparing the freeze dried breakfast. After everyone had his hot drink, Darrell added more water to the pot for the freeze dried eggs with ham and peppers. Using a flat griddle, Jeff began making toast.

"Dad, where's the toilet paper?" Adam asked, after breakfast.

"It's right over there in that plastic coffee container," Darrell laughed.

"Dad, are there really bears out there?"

"No, Son," Darrell said, while suppressing a smile. "You're safe. Steve dug a pit behind those bushes. Go in that and we'll cover it all up before we leave to go home."

"I'll go with you," Justin offered.

"I don't want you watching me poop," Adam quickly said.

"I'll stand on this side of the bushes, then I'll go when you finish," Justin explained.

"I'm going too," Mark announced.

Before going on the ride, Darrell suggested the food be stowed, so it wouldn't attract any animals.

Jeff threw a rope over a tree branch to hoist the bag of food up. "If you have any snacks, chewing gum, or even tooth paste, it should go in the bag too," he explained.

The two pack horses were left in the corral, since there was still grass for them. The other horses were saddled, the camp fire extinguished, and they were on their way.

After riding for almost two hour Paul said, "Maybe we should stop for a while and let these boys have a snack."

"What are we having?" Justin asked.

"We still have those apples with peanut butter," Adam pointed out.

"Oops," Jeff said, after removing the apples and peanut butter from his saddle bag.

"What?" Adam asked.

"We forgot to bring something to spread the peanut butter with," Jeff said.

"What now?" Mark asked.

Darrell removed a pocket knife from his pocket and cut a branch from a nearby bush. He then began to whittle it to flatten it. Jeff saw what he was doing and did the same. Soon, there were four somewhat flattened sticks that were used to spread the peanut butter.

After resting a while, the group mounted their horses and continued the ride to the top of Sutton Mountain.

"Wow! Look at that view," Paul said.

"Yeah, it's pretty magnificent," Darrell agreed.

"Dad, is that our house over there?" Haden asked.

"It sure is," Darrell said. "I forgot we could see it from here."

"The church camp sure looks big and spread out from up here, and look at that lake they built," Kyle said.

"That must be the Weiler place over there past your place," Grant said.

"It is," Darrell said.

"It's for sale," Grant said. "I wish I could afford to buy it."

"Isn't your place paid for?" Paul asked.

"Almost," Grant said. "We owe just under $10,000 on it."

"You could probably sell your place and buy it," Paul suggested. "It's a good buy, and there's ten acres with it."

"I doubt we could afford the payments," Grant admitted. "We have a better income now that Betty has a better job working for Darrell, but it's still not great."

"Drop by my office and we'll put some numbers on paper and see if it's feasible," Paul suggested.

"Why are the Weilers selling it?" Grant asked.

"The bank owns it now," Paul explained. "The old couple are both dead now, and their daughter was an only child. She mortgaged the place before becoming seriously involved with drugs, and never paid on the loan. The loan wasn't anywhere near the value of the property; that's why the bank can give you a good deal."

"We may as well eat before we head back down to camp," Darrell said. "We have individual pouches of chicken salad or tuna salad to make sandwiches."

It was a leisure ride back down to the camp, and Adam finally seemed satisfied with the amount of riding for the day.

The horses were watered and tethered to get in some grazing time before being corralled for the night; and preparations were begun for the evening meal. Paul started a fire, and Steve put water on to boil. The freeze dried meal would be goulash and broccoli with a cheese sauce. The dessert would be freeze dried banana cream pie.

Everyone seemed pleased with the meal, since there were no complaints. Just before dark, the horses were moved to the electric corral. After the task was completed, Jeff began popping popcorn using the LED lantern for light.

Steve, Darrell, and Grant talked about how it was growing up in the area as the group enjoyed their popcorn.

"How come you got to do all those things, and you won't let me do anything?" Adam asked.

"It was different when I was growing up," Darrell explained.

"It was the same way growing up in Nebraska," Paul said. "I did things that I would never let my kids do."

"Like what, Dad?" Mark asked.

"Hey, I'm not giving you any ideas," Paul laughed.

Stories were told and enjoyed until Mark began to yawn. "I think we'd better get you to bed," Paul said.

There was no giggling coming from the younger boys' tent this night. They were ready for sleep after the day of riding and evening of fireside stories.

The younger boys enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate the next morning while waiting for their breakfast of oatmeal and toast. After everyone had enjoyed their breakfast and hot drinks, it was time to break camp. It didn't take long for the tents to be taken down and readied to be loaded on the pack horses.

"Jeff, thank you for your help with this experience," Darrell said, as he helped load the pack horses. "Your knowledge sure made it easier for the rest of us."

"Thank you for inviting me," Jeff said. "I've really enjoyed it."

"Dad, someone's coming on an ATV," Adam said.

"It must be Ray," Darrell said.

"Darrell, what in the hell do you think you're doing?" Ray asked, as soon as he'd stopped the ATV.

"We're breaking camp to go home - why, is there something wrong?" Darrell asked, as the others gathered around.

"I didn't ask you to pay me for camping here," Ray said, as he took a check out of his pocket. "This came in the mail Saturday - if I wanted money, I would've said so when you asked me about this."

"This many horses ate a lot your grass."

"It'll grow back. Now take this check."

"If you don't want to keep it, donate it to a charity. Rita and I like to support the Boys and Girls Club, or CASA."

"Alright, I'll do that - Lois sent some homemade cookies for these boys, by the way."

"Thank you, Ray. They just had breakfast, but I'm sure they'll enjoy them later."

"Dad, that was at least an hour ago," Adam protested.

"Alright ... you boys enjoy," Darrell said, as he gave the bag of cookies to Adam.

"Hey, Dad, look, Bonnie had her colt!" Adam exclaimed, when he saw Bonnie with her newborn colt that was just learning to stand on wobbly legs. "Isn't he cute."

"We won't know if it's a he or a she until we get closer," Darrell explained.

"It's a filly," Jeff said, as soon as they were close enough to tell.

"I'm going to name her Monday, since she was born on a Monday," Adam announced.

"Adam, she isn't yours to name," Haden reminded him.

"I bet if I ask Perry, he'll let me name her," Adam countered.

"Let's get these horses unsaddled and turned out to pasture," Darrell said. "We'll feed them at the regular time. You guys come up to the house when we finish, and we'll have lunch."

"The boys and I'll ride our horses on home and put them out to pasture there," Paul said.

"I'm going to load mine up and get on home too," Jeff said. "I really need a shower."

"I think we all do," Paul agreed.

"Dad, could I spend the night with Adam?" Justin asked, after the horses were unsaddled.

"No, you need to go home," Grant said. "Your mom might want to see you - besides, you'll be back tomorrow while we're at work. Darrell, thanks for the invite for lunch, but we'll go on home and get cleaned up."

"I'm going to call Perry and tell him about Monday," Adam said, after greeting Rita and Amy.

"Adam, today's Monday?" Rita noted.

"Bonnie had her colt, and I named her Monday," Adam said.

"Adam, Perry didn't give you permission to name her," Haden said.

"He will," Adam said with confidence.

"Honey, Perry will be on duty at the army base this time of day," Rita reminded Adam. "You guys go shower while I fix lunch."

"Are you saying we stink?" Darrell said, and laughed before giving Rita a quick kiss.

"You've smelled better," Rita said, and laughed back.

"Oh boy, Sloppy Joes!" Adam exclaimed, when he returned from his shower.

"Adam, did you wash your hands?" Amy asked, when Adam sat waiting for his Sloppy Joe.

"Hello, Amy, I just got out of the shower," Adam said.

"Well, I bet you didn't wash them before you ate when you were camping," Amy countered.

"I did too," Adam argued. "Well, I didn't when we rode to the top of Sutton Mountain, but we used those hand wipe thingies."

"Who thought to take those?" Rita asked, as she placed a Sloppy Joe in front of Adam.

"I don't know - I think Jeff had them. Haden, will you take Justin and me riding tomorrow?"

"Kyle and I are going to Covington tomorrow," Haden said. "Didn't you get enough riding for a while?"

"Nope," Adam giggled. "Could I go to Covington with you?"

"You'll have company, remember?" Rita reminded Adam.

"Oh yeah, I forgot," Adam admitted. "Haden, would you take us when you get home?"

"It may be late," Haden said. "I guess I could take you before we go."

"Thank you, Haden."

"Haden, how do you know I don't have plans?" Amy asked.

"What does that have to do with my plans?" Haden responded.

"Someone has to be here with Justin and Adam," Amy said.

"I guess I forgot about that," Haden admitted. "Okay, I'll call Kyle and cancel."

"And I have to go back to work tomorrow," Rita said with a smile.

"Hey, I didn't say anything," Haden said, and laughed.

"No, you didn't; but I saw the look you gave me," Rita said. "But I'd love to help you out, if I could."

"I'm just messing with you," Amy said, then laughed. "But I do want to go to Covington with Tony Wednesday."

"Okay, I'll make sure and be home Wednesday, thanks, Amy," Haden said.

"Perry, Bonnie had her colt today," Adam said, when he called. "I named her Monday, since she was born on a Monday. Is that okay?"

"I guess it is, since you've already named her," Perry said, and laughed. "I'll be out to see her this weekend."

"Can we ride now?" Adam asked as soon as he and Justin finished eating breakfast.

"We need to clean up the kitchen first," Haden said.

"I'll do it," Amy offered. "You cooked breakfast."

"It was a good breakfast too," Kyle said.

"Haden, could we ride over to the Weiler place?" Justin asked, after the horses were saddled. "I'd like to see it."

"I suppose we could," Haden said. "Paul said the house isn't occupied."

"It's a nice house," Kyle said, when they arrived at their destination.

"There's a barn too," Justin noticed right away.

"Justin, we'll be neighbors," Adam pointed out. "When we get to ride by ourselves, we can ride our horses to see each other."

"Dad isn't going to let you ride near the highway, even when you do ride alone," Haden pointed out.

"Well, we could put in a gate and come that way," Adam argued.

"Yeah, that'd be great," Justin agreed.

"Could one of you pick Adam up after school tomorrow?" Rita asked Amy and Haden. "I have a meeting with some state bigwigs, and Darrell has a meeting with a potential contractor."

"I have to be in clinic," Amy said.

"And I'm helping with campus tours for high school seniors," Haden said.

"I could ride the bus home," Adam said.

"I don't think so," Darrell said. "You can go to Boys and Girls Club - Justin will be there."

"I'll pick you up when I get off work," Rita explained.

"Mrs. Holland, you got here fast," Tina, the club director said, when Rita arrived to pick Adam up.

"It's Harrington now - I'm here to pick Adam up," Rita said. "But what did you mean I got here fast."

"We just called your office and left a message about Jared," Tina said. "His dad never picked him up after school, so he was sent here. The police were called to check about his dad ... they called back and asked to have Child Protective Services pick Jared up."

"Did they say why?"

"They found his dad passed out from an apparent overdose. He's in the hospital on life support now."

"Oh my, I don't have any foster homes available right now. I'll have to take him home with me and work on it from there. Do you have any records on Jared?"

"All we have is what the school provided. His name is Jared Holden, and he's eight years old. The school didn't know much about him, except that he and his dad just recently moved here from Texas. His mother is deceased."

"I was going to ask if he might be related to Steve Holden, but if they just moved here, he probably isn't."

"I think his dad's from this area."

"I'll ask Steve if he's related. Do you have his dad's name?"

"It's on the school records. I'll get a copy for you."

"While you do that, I'll give Steve a call."

"Here're the records. Would you like me to go to the gym and get Jared and Adam?"

"Give me a few minutes, if you don't mind."

"Hello, Steve."

"Hi, Rita, how are you?"

"I'm well, and you?"

"I have a feeling this isn't a social call."

"I called to see if you knew a Thomas Holden."

"Yeah, Tom's my cousin. Why do you ask?"

"He's in the hospital on life support from an OD. I'm picking his son up from the Boys and Girls Club."

"Tom lives in Texas ... anyway, he did the last I heard."

"He and Jared recently moved here after Jared's mother died."

"I heard that she died of an OD - and I'm not surprised to hear that Tom overdosed too."

"I need to find an emergency foster home for Jared. Does he have any relatives?"

"His grandparents, my aunt and uncle, are dead. Tom's an only child, so I guess I'm the only one. Well, we have a cousin that lives in Australia."

"Would you be willing to foster Jared? I have no place to put him except for a shelter. As a relative, I can put him with you as an emergency foster home."

"Before I say yes, let me call Linda right quick. I'll call you right back."

"Tina, you can get Adam and Jared now, if you don't mind."

"Hello again, Steve," Rita said, when her phone rang.

"Linda agreed that we can foster Jared. He doesn't know us, and he won't know who you're talking about when you tell him. Linda said she would be getting a bedroom ready for him. Linda also said for you and your family to come for dinner."

"Mom, this is Jared," Adam said.

"Hi, Jared," Rita said. "I'm also with Child Protective Services. Your dad is in the hospital."

"Do I have to go into foster care again?" Jared asked in a quavering voice.

"Yes, but it's your dad's cousin Steve, and his wife Linda. You'll like them."

"Alright," Jared said. It was apparent he'd been through this situation before.

"Yeah, Steve and Linda are really nice ... and so is Kyle," Adam assured Jared.

"Did my dad OD again?" Jared finally asked on the drive to the Holden's.

"Yes, I'm afraid he did," Rita said. "Adam, call your dad, your brother and sister, and tell them we're having dinner with Steve and Linda. Jared, we'll stop by Walmart and get some clothes for you to wear to school."

"Alright," Jared said.

"I think you need some new shoes too," Rita said.

"Amy's having dinner with Tony, but Dad and Haden will be there," Adam said, after making the calls.

"Thank you, Son," Rita said.

"How long will I be with these people?" Jared asked.

"It'll be for a while," Rita said, as she pulled into the Walmart parking lot. "Jared, do you know your clothes sizes?"

"No, I usually got clothes from yard sales," Jared said.

"Don't worry, we'll figure it out," Rita said.

"Okay," Jared said.

Goodness, his clothes are in really bad shape, Rita thought, as they made their way to the boys department. After purchasing a few changes of clothes, new socks, underwear, and shoes, Rita thought it would get Jared by until more could be purchased.

"Let me show you your room," Linda said, after being introduced to Jared.

"I'll show him, you and Dad probably need to talk to Rita," Kyle offered.

"We do need to talk," Rita agreed.

"Let's talk in the kitchen while I finish dinner," Linda said.

"I'm sure he's been through this before," Rita explained. "He seemed a little upset about going into foster care, but he didn't even ask how his dad is."

"I went by the hospital, and he isn't likely going to make it," Steve said.

"What will happen to Jared?" Linda asked.

"He'll be up for adoption," Rita explained.

"Could we adopt him?" Linda asked. "Steve and I have already discussed it."

"That would be wonderful," Rita smiled. "What does Kyle think about it?"

"He's the one that suggested it," Linda said.

"I'm not surprised, he asked me the other day to talk to you about possibly adopting someone," Rita said. "And I planned to do that, just hadn't found the right moment."

"Jared's a cute kid, but he seems sad," Linda said.

"Honey, don't you think he has a right to be?" Steve asked.

"I have a feeling he's been through a lot," Rita said.

"Steve, are you going to get the door?" Linda asked, when the doorbell rang.

"Before we go inside, I need to explain something," Steve said, when he opened the door and stepped outside. "There's Haden now, I may as well wait and explain it to both of you."

"Explain what?" Darrell asked.

"Hi, Haden," Steve said. "Before we go inside, let me explain something."

"I thought something might be up when Rita had Adam call us," Darrell said, after Steve explained the situation.

"How do you like your room?" Rita asked, when Kyle returned with Jared and Adam.

"It's nice," Jared said. "I've never had my own room with a TV before."

"Jared, do you have homework?" Linda asked, after dinner and dessert.

"We did our homework at Boys and Girls Club," Adam answered for Jared.

"We need to look into Boys and Girls Club for you, Jared," Linda said. "You'll be out of school an hour before I get off work. I can pick you up when I get off work, and Steve can take you to school."

"There'll be days when I can do it too," Kyle said.

"He'll need to go see a doctor when we can get an appointment for him - tomorrow would be best," Rita said.

"I'll take tomorrow off and get that done," Linda said. "Jared, are you getting sleepy? I noticed you're yawning."

"I didn't get a lot of sleep last night," Jared admitted. "Dad kept me awake."

"Do you want to shower tonight or in the morning?" Linda asked.

"In the morning, if that's okay," Jared said.

"You can put on your new pajamas that Rita bought for you," Linda said.

"Haden, would you mind taking Adam home and getting him to bed?" Rita asked. "I need to chat with Linda and Steve some more."

"Come on, Squirt, let's go home," Haden said as he ruffled Adam's hair.

"I told you a long time ago - I'm not a squirt," Adam argued, as he put on his jacket.

"Rita, I have some possible good news for you," Steve said, after Haden and Adam left. "Your hearing on adopting Adam is the fifth of next month."

"That certainly is good news," Rita said.

"Dad, this call is for you," Kyle said, as he handed the phone to Steve.

"Tom died," Steve said, after finishing the conversation. "I guess it's my responsibility to make funeral arrangements."

"Will there be anyone to attend?" Linda asked.

"There probably won't," Steve admitted. "We'll omit the funeral services."

"This certainly changes things with Jared," Rita said. "He's now available for adoption. I'll have paperwork for you in the morning. We'll have to do a background check on both of you, as well as Kyle."

"What else?" Linda asked.

"We're required to do a home study," Rita pointed out. "But I know none of this will be a problem. Oh, when you come by the office tomorrow, I'll have a health care card for Jared."

"We can put him on our insurance," Steve said.

"You can't put him on your policy until you adopt him," Rita said. "Anyway, he'll need insurance for his physical. He'll also have dental coverage until he's on your policy."

"What will happen to me now?" Jared asked, when told of his dad's death.

"You'll live here with us," Linda explained.


"Are you going to be okay living with us?" Steve asked.

"I guess so, it seems nice here."

Jared went into counseling, and soon became a normal eight year old, healthy and happy boy. It helped that he became friends with Adam and Justin. In a way, he became their little brother. Kyle finally had a little brother, and he was a great 'big brother' role model.

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