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-four

"Why, is Mom adopting me today?" Adam asked, when Darrell came into his room and asked him to dress nicely and wear a tie.

"What makes you think it's today?" Darrell asked.

"Well, when you adopted me, I had to wear a tie," Adam said. "You can't fool me again."

"You're too smart for me, this time."

"It doesn't take brains to figure this one out, Dad. Do I not go to school today?"

"This is one of the few times you get to miss school, but it's a special day."

"Who's going to be there?"

"All of the family, except Perry and Lacey, will be there. It's difficult for Perry to get away. And of course, Steve will be there as our attorney."

"Hey, Amy, aren't you riding with us?" Adam asked, as the family prepared to leave for the court house.

"No, I have to leave as soon as your adoption is over," Amy explained. "I have to be in clinic."

"Well, I see some familiar faces this morning," Judge Rose Spencer said, as she began Adam's adoption case. "Mrs. Harrington, this is certainly different, seeing you on this side of an adoption."

"Yes, it is, Your Honor," Rita said.

"Adam, you look very handsome this morning," Judge Spencer said.

"Thank you, ma'am," Adam said, then added, "Your Honor."

Following the standard questions of Rita concerning the responsibilities of adoption, and of Adam, if he wanted the adoption, Judge Spencer quickly approved the adoption.

"Amy, would you mind dropping Adam and Haden off at the house?" Rita asked as they left the court room. "I need to visit with Steve."

"I can do that," Amy agreed.

"Come on ..." Haden began to say.

"Haden, don't say it," Adam quickly said.

"Say what?" Haden asked with an innocent grin.

"You were about to call me squirt again," Adam said.

"Haden, he doesn't like to be called that," Darrell said. "It's time to stop."

"I wasn't going to say that," Haden denied with a smile.

"You're going to make Amy late for her clinical," Rita cautioned. "Go on home; we'll be there shortly."

"Yes, Mom," Haden said, without a thought. "Come on, little brother."

"Steve, I just got a text that your home study report came today," Rita said, as the Harrington siblings entered the elevator.

"Was it good?" Steve asked.

"Of course, it was," Rita assured him. "Now, we can proceed with the adoption. How's Jared doing, by the way?"

"He's doing okay, but still adjusting," Steve said. "He has periods of insecurity ... he idolizes Kyle, though."

"And Kyle's always bragging on his little brother," Darrell said.

"Did you see the place where Tom and Jared were living?" Rita asked.

"No, but I heard it was bad," Steve said.

"It was absolutely appalling. It was that rundown boarding house on Johnson Street. They had to share a bathroom with several other residents. There were roaches everywhere. And there were several fire and safety violations too. I called the health department; and they're condemning it. None of Jared's clothes were worth salvaging. But there were some pictures, including baby pictures of Jared. I'll turn those over to you."

"That explains a lot," Steve said. "I found out that Tom was drawing social security disability and survivor's benefits for Jared on his mother."

"Then they should've had enough money to live in a better place than that rooming house," Darrell said.

"Most of the income went to support Tom's drug habit," Steve explained.

"Haden, will you take me riding?" Adam asked, as soon as they arrived home.

"Adam, didn't you notice? It's starting to rain."

"I don't care."

"Well, I do."

"But I'm bored."

"Mom picked up your school assignments that you're missing today, and ...."

"Hey, you just called her mom again."

"Yeah, I guess I did. Since she's legally your mom, and you're my brother, that makes her my mom too."


"Now, go start working on your homework. Let me know if you need help ... and don't turn on your TV until you finish."

"You sure are a bossy big brother," Adam said, once he was out Haden's reach and avoided getting his hair ruffled.

"Where's Adam?" Rita asked, when she and Darrell arrived home.

"I sent him to do his homework," Haden said. "He was bugging me to take him riding."

"But it's raining," Darrell pointed out.

"Adam doesn't care when it comes to riding," Haden said with a chuckle.

"I'm glad you did," Rita said. "I forgot to ask you to do that."

"What're you reading?" Darrell asked.

"A Political Science assignment," Haden said. "It sure isn't something I'd read for pleasure."

"If you guys will excuse me, I'll go fix some sandwiches before Adam complains that he's hungry," Rita said with a laugh. "Give me about fifteen minutes and bring Adam down for lunch."

"I'm surprised he hasn't come down already saying he's hungry," Haden said.

"That's for sure," Darrell agreed. "I believe his stomach has a built in clock."

Haden was surprised to find Adam curled up on his bed napping with papers scattered around on his bed. He picked up a paper and began to read.


By Adam Harrington

Every season has its good points. Winter brings Christmas and presents. But it's cold in the winter, and I have to be inside. In the summer, there's no school. However, it gets really hot in the summer. The autumn is nice with its beautiful colors. The problem with autumn is that cold weather is on the way.

Spring is my favorite season. Spring is like the rebirth of life. The grass begins to turn green, trees begin to push their leaves out for the sun to bathe them with warmth and energy. There are newborn colts just learning to stand on their wobbly legs; newborn calves in the pasture playing calf tag, while their mothers enjoy the new growth of green grass; and flowers take a chance on one last cold spell, and burst forth with color and a promise of warm weather.

These are just a few of the reasons my favorite season is spring.

"Adam, this is really good," Haden said, after waking him up for lunch. "What was your assignment?"

"We were told to write approximately three paragraphs about our favorite season."

"I'd give you an A for this assignment, if I were your teacher."

"Would you really?" Adam asked with a broad smile.

"I sure would. You should show it to Mom and Dad. Mom has lunch ready."

"Good, I'm hungry ... and shut up, Haden"

"Hey, I didn't say anything."

"No, but you were about to say that I'm always hungry."

"Let's go eat."

"Mom, would you check my homework?" Adam asked, as he handed his essay to Rita. "Haden said it was good."

"I'm sure it is, if Haden said it is," Rita said, as she placed a ham and cheese sandwich with some carrot sticks in front of Adam.

"You and Dad both should read it," Haden pointed out.

"Haden, you're right," Rita said, after reading the essay. "It's really good. Darrell, you need to read this."

"Son, this is good," Darrell agreed, after he read the essay. "It's really good."

"Haden, it stopped raining," Adam said.

"Adam, you don't have time to go riding," Rita said.

"Why not?"

"Perry and Lacey asked us to dinner, since they couldn't be there for your adoption. Amy will meet us there."

"Haden, how come Amy had school and you didn't?" Adam asked.

"I'm on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday schedule," Haden explained. "I don't have classes on Tuesday and Thursday."

"How do I get that schedule?"

"You don't - until you're in college."

"I didn't know you'd be here," Justin said, when the family arrived at Perry's and Lacey's apartment.

"Well, I didn't know you'd be here either," Adam said.

"I didn't know why you missed school, then Mom said you got adopted again," Justin said.

"We didn't tell him because we thought he might blab," Betty said.

"Mom ..." Justin protested.

"We'll eat as soon as Joe and Lisa get here," Lacey said. "Everything's ready."

"It sure smells good," Rita said. "What is it?"

"It's Moroccan chicken," Lacey said. "I made the rub and Perry grilled it."

"Joe's here!" Justin remarked, before rushing to greet his big brother and sister-in-law.

"I hope some of you don't mind, if I put you at the card table," Lacey said. "Justin and Adam can eat at the counter."

"Lacey, this chicken is wonderful," Betty said, as she ate. "I didn't know you could cook like this."

"Perry and I are learning together," Lacey said, as she beamed. "Someday, we'll have a larger place for dinner parties."

"Honey, tell them your news," Perry said with a big smile.

"I got a teaching position at Rock Creek," Lacey said, and smiled big.

"That's great news," Grant said, and the others agreed.

"It's hard to believe I graduate in three weeks ... and will soon be a mother," Lacey said.

"We'll have a party for you at our new place," Grant said with pride.

"You got the Weiler place?" Darrell asked.

"We sure did," Grant said. "We signed the contract yesterday. We got the asking price for our house too."

"Yay, we'll be neighbors!" Adam said. as he high-fived Justin.

"Maybe we shouldn't plan a party until after we have the baby," Lacey pointed out. "I hope he doesn't come until after my graduation."

"Where's Rock Creek?" Lisa asked.

"It's between here and Sparks. You turn right on highway 20, then it's about three miles," Lacey explained. "There's just the school, a small grocery store, and a couple of churches."

"Will you be moving?" Rita asked.

"We talked about that, but decided to stay here until I'm discharged next year. We're saving what we can for a down payment toward a house," Perry explained.

"Lisa has a good job, but while I'm in school, we're not going to think about buying," Joe said.

"Lisa, what's your occupation?" Rita asked.

"I'm a dental hygienist," Lisa said.

"Oh, that's a great occupation," Rita said.

"Lacey, I'll help with the dishes, then we need to get home," Betty said. "Justin has school tomorrow."

"Yeah, we need to get Adam to bed soon too," Rita said. "But I'll give you a hand before we go.

"Don't worry about it," Lacey said. "We have a dishwasher, and there isn't much to do."

"I'm off tomorrow," Lisa said. "I'll stay and help. And you all still have to drive back home."

"Adam, we have to turn in an essay tomorrow," Justin said. "I wrote mine in Boys and Girls Club."

"I did mine today," Adam said, wanting to brag about his, but chose not to.

"Do you really think I'll get an A on my essay?" Adam asked Haden, as they drove to school the next morning.

"Well, as I said, I'd give you an A," Haden assured his brother. "But I can't say what your teacher will do."

"Haden, stop by my office after your class," Mr. Box, the principal, said as Haden headed to his English class at the high school.

"Alright," a puzzled Haden said.

"Don't worry, you're not in trouble," Mr. Box assured him.

"Remember, your senior paper is due next Wednesday," Mrs. Fuller, Haden's English teacher, said as the class ended. "This is one-third of your final grade. There will be a ten percent deduction of your grade for each day it's turned in past the due date. And so far, only five of you have turned in your papers. I have papers from Haden, Liz, Jason, Megan, and Callie."

"Have a seat, and don't be so nervous," Mr. Box said, when Haden entered his office.

"I'm sorry, Sir, but I can't help it," Haden said.

"Well, to put your mind at ease," Mr. Box said, then paused before continuing. "We've been calculating grades this past week, and you're valedictorian of your class."

"I am?" Haden asked in surprise.

"Yes, you are," Mr. Box assured him with a smile. "You and Callie Morgan are both 4.0 students, but you had more honors classes than she had. There'll be an article in the paper Sunday with your picture."

"What picture?"

"We'll use your senior picture. I wrote down what I knew about you, but I need a little more information.

"I have your parents listed as Darrell and Brenda Harrington."

"It's Darrell and Rita."

"I also have that your brother Perry, and your sister Amy, are both Sparks High School graduates."

"That's right, and my little brother Adam is in the fifth grade."

"I wasn't aware that you had a younger brother. He'd be upset if we didn't mention him. Have you decided your career path?"

"I haven't told my family yet, but I've been seriously thinking of becoming an elementary school teacher. I think it's important that students get a good start in elementary school."

"You're right, but with your grades, I expected you to go into medicine, research, or something like that."

"Well, if we give children a good education, there'll be plenty to fill those shoes."

"That's a good point."

"Adam, when you finish your breakfast, would you go out and get the paper?" Rita asked Sunday morning. "Betty called and said that we should see it."

"Alright," Adam said, as he put a bite of pancake in his mouth and prepared to leave the table.

"Finish your breakfast first," Darrell said.

"Look who's picture's in the paper," Adam said, as he gave the paper to Rita.

"Haden, you didn't tell us about this," Rita remarked.

"What?" Darrell asked, as he sat down with a cup of coffee.

"Read this, Haden's the class valedictorian," Rita said, as she handed the paper to Darrell.

"Let me see too," Adam said, as he moved next to Darrell to read with him. "Hey, my name's in the paper too."

"Son, I'm proud of you," Darrell said.

"We all are," Rita added.

"You beat me," Amy said. "I only made salutatorian."

"You're both smart," Rita said. "And it looks like Adam's a scholar too."

"What does valedictorian mean?" Adam asked.

"It means that he has the highest grade point of his class," Rita said.

"You're the man," Adam said, as he high-fived Haden.

"Son, that shirt is all faded, you can't wear it to church," Rita said. "I just bought you a new one last week, go put that one on."

"Well, you said to wear my blue shirt, but I couldn't find it," Adam admitted.

"Did you put it in your hamper?" Rita asked. "I'm sure Heidi washed it, if you did."

"I think so."

"Did you look in your closet?"

"It's not there."

"Haden, would you mind helping him find it?"

"I'll do it," Amy offered. "I need to get my sweater, anyway."

"You couldn't find his blue shirt?" Rita asked, when Amy and Adam came back downstairs, and Adam still wasn't wearing his blue shirt.

"Oh we found it alright," Amy laughed. "Tell her where it was, Adam."

"It was in my backpack," Adam admitted.

"And what was it doing in your backpack?" Darrell asked.

"I got warm at Boys and Girls Club, so I took it off and just wore my t-shirt," Adam said. "And I forgot it was in there."

"Well, you know Heidi can't wash it, if she can't find it," Rita said.

"Let's eat at the Southern Table today," Debbie suggested after church. "They're now open Sundays, and we can either eat from the buffet or order from the menu."

"It's about time we got another place to eat on Sundays," Linda said.

"Haden, congratulations on being valedictorian," Debbie said, as the group ate. "I wasn't aware, until Father Jensen announced it this morning."

"It was in the paper with his picture," Adam proudly announced. "They even mentioned me too."

"Haden when did you decide you wanted to be an elementary teacher?" Linda asked.

"Yeah, I wondered the same thing," Kyle said.

"I've been thinking about it for a while," Haden admitted.

"Are we going riding today?" Justin asked - he wasn't interested in the conversation.

"I suppose so," Grant said. "It's a beautiful day."

"I need to look into getting a horse for Jared," Steve said.

"Really?" Jared asked.

"Wouldn't you like to have one?"

"Sure," Jared said with a big grin.

"You should call Jeff," Haden suggested. "He does a great job of training them."

"I'll call as soon as we finish eating," Steve said. "Oh, Darrell, I should ask you about boarding it with you first. Your pasture is becoming full."

"We'll be moving ours next week," Grant proudly announced. "We can also keep Bonnie and Monday."

"We'll use one of the store's trucks to move you," Darrell offered. If we all pitch in, it shouldn't take long. And, Steve, it's no problem to board another horse."

"Jeff said for us to come by and see what he has," Steve said, after calling Jeff. "He thinks he may have one that would be just right for Jared. Would anyone like to go?"

Of course, when it came to horses, all of the guys wanted to go - the ladies decided to help Betty pack for the move.

"This is the one I have in mind for Jared," Jeff said, as he showed them a bay horse that was already saddled. "He's a mustang that I trained myself. My niece and nephew often ride him. He has the perfect temperament for a kid. Jared, do you want to ride him?"

"Sure," Jared quickly agreed, while showing no fear.

"Do you know how to ride a horse?" Kyle asked, as he boosted Jared up on the horse.

"No, but I've seen it on TV," Jared said.

"Let me show you a few things, then you can ride him around the corral a few times," Jeff said.

"That was fun," Jared said with a wide grin, as Kyle helped him dismount.

"How much do you want for him?" Steve asked, as Jared walked up to the horse without apprehension and began to pet him.

"I was asking $600, but for Jared, I'll take $500," Jeff said.

"I'll take him," Steve said.

"What's his name?" Jared asked.

"I call him Ace," Jeff said.

"I assume you'll deliver him to Darrell's place," Steve said, as he handed the check to Jeff.

"Sure," Jeff said. "I can deliver him today."

"Cool, Jared, now you can ride him with us today," Adam said.

"We have to get a saddle for Jared first," Steve stated. "The saddle shop won't be open until tomorrow."

"This is the saddle my niece and nephew use," Jeff said. "I'll let you borrow it until tomorrow."

"Jeff, why don't you go riding with us, then you can bring the saddle back with you when we finish?" Darrell asked.

"Alright, I'll saddle another horse and be there shortly," Jeff agreed.

By the time the horses were rounded up and saddled, and Paul and his boys went home and got their horses, Jeff arrived with Ace and his mount. Jared immediately rode like a pro.

"There's Mr. Reed," Adam pointed out, after the group rode for a while.

"Where?" Darrell asked.

"Over there," Adam said, as he pointed toward Ray Reed, who was busy mending a fence.

"Do you need help?" Darrell asked, when they rode up to Ray.

"You have great timing," Ray joked. "I'm almost finished. Some fool ran off the road and through my fence. Fortunately, the cattle were in another pasture."

"Ray, would you be willing to sell a few acres of your land?" Steve asked, after visiting for a few minutes. "As you can see, we now have three horses, and I'd like to get out into the country."

"I'd hate to start splitting up my land," Ray said. "But I understand the Weiler place is for sale."

"I already bought it," Grant said.

"Say, I do have twenty acres on the other side of the Weiler place," Ray said. "It's isolated from the rest of my land. So I might consider selling that. There's an old house on the property that would be a nice building spot. The land's fenced and has a nice pond. I don't know why I bought that place, in the first place."

"I didn't know you owned that property," Steve said. "I've seen it from the highway, and it looks like a nice piece of property. Do you mind if I look at it today?"

"You know where it is," Ray said. "Just make sure the gate's closed. I have a few heifers that were too young to breed. I wanted to keep them away from the bull until next year."

"Jared, we'll be neighbors," Justin said, as the group rode away.

"Yeah, it'll be great," Jared agreed.

"Well, I haven't purchased it yet," Steve pointed out.

"You'd better," Adam said.

"Or what?" Steve asked with a laugh.

"I'll think of something," Adam said with a mischievous grin.

"My, that sounds like a threat," Steve continued the bantering.

"So, sue me," Adam countered.

"Did you forget that I'm a lawyer?"

"Yeah, and I'm a kid. What do I have?"

"He has you there," Paul said, while laughing.

"Could we ride over with Steve and look at his land?" Adam asked, when the group arrived back at the barn.

"I'd like to see it too," Paul admitted.

"But it isn't my land yet," Steve said.

"Yeah, but it will be," Adam argued.

"Steve, this is a really nice piece of property," Paul said, when they rode to the property.

"It sure is," Darrell agreed. "The Newtons lived here when I was growing up. Their grandson John used to spend the summers with them. We became friends, but I haven't heard from him in years."

"I like it too," Steve said. "Kyle, what do you think?"

"It would be a great place for Jared to grow up," Kyle said. "Do you think Mom would agree to it?"

"I don't know," Steve admitted. "I'll bring her out here to see it - I think she'll like it."

"Jared, would you like to live here?" Kyle asked.

"Yeah, if there was a house," Jared said in a serious tone.

"We'd build a house," Steve said with a smile.

"That was Rita," Darrell said, after putting his cell phone back in his pocket. "It seems that the ladies have decided that I'm grilling burgers, and you're all eating at our house tonight. They're picking up everything we need."

"Could we eat down by the creek?" Adam asked.

"Adam, the water's still too cold for you to swim," Darrell said.

"I know, but it's nice today," Adam said. "We could still enjoy eating there."

"We usually have Perry haul the grill there with his truck," Darrell said.

"Dad, the church group had a bar-b-que pit built," Haden reminded his dad.

"You're right, I completely forgot about that," Darrell admitted. "You'll need to drive into town and get a bag of charcoal. Jeff, you're invited to stay and eat with us too."

"Thanks, I'd like that," Jeff said.

"This was a great idea," Rita said, as she enjoyed her hamburger. "Who thought of it?"

"I did," Adam proudly proclaimed.

"Well, you had a great idea," Rita said.

"When are we going to ride our horses and camp out again?" Adam asked as he finished his hamburger, and before tackling a hot dog.

"Why don't you go on the annual trail ride in June? Jeff asked. "I always go."

"Where is this?" Darrell asked.

"It's a two day ride through the state park," Jeff explained. "The starting point is just three miles from here. You wouldn't even need to haul the horses there. At the end of the first day, we exit the park and spend the night on the property of a man who owns a stable. We can take our own feed or just pay the owner of the stable for feed. I always just pay him."

"Do we camp out there?" Kyle asked.

"Yeah, Dad meets me there with the camping gear," Jeff explained. "It would be no problem for him to haul yours too. And there are showers available for a small fee."

"Could we go, Dad?" Adam asked.

"Sure," Darrell agreed.

"There's a $50 fee that goes to the Saddle Club," Jeff said. "It helps support their project of providing therapeutic horseback riding for autistic children."

"That sounds like a great project," Rita said.

"Darrell, could you get the phone number of the contractor who did your house expansion?" Steve asked.

"Whoa, whoa," Linda said. "Why do you need a contractor?"

"Ray Reed said he'd sell the 20 acres next to Grant and Betty," Steve said with a guilty smile.

"And you were going to do this without talking it over with me?" Linda wanted to know.

"Honey, it's just an investigation at this stage," Steve said. "I think it would be good for Jared to grow up in the country. But if you're against it, we won't do it."

"I didn't say I was against it," Linda confessed. "You just caught me by surprise is all. It might be nice to live in the country again. I enjoyed growing up on the farm."

"We'll stop by there on the way home and let you look at the property," Steve proposed.


"What're you grinning about?" Haden asked, when he picked Adam up at school.

"I got an A+ on my essay," Adam said with pride, and waved his paper.

"Congratulations, I knew you would."

"Don't tell Mom and Dad ... I want to tell them."

"Adam, what're you hiding?" Rita asked, when Adam sat down to eat dinner. "This," Adam said, and handed his paper to Rita.

"Well, good for you," Rita said. "Darrell, look at this."

"I'm proud of you, Son," Darrell said, and gave Adam a hug.

"Adam, you've come a long way since that day you found your way here," Amy said, as she gave her brother a hug.

"I was really lucky, huh?" Adam stated.

"Son, I think this family was the lucky ones," Darrell said.

"Justin got an A-," Adam said. "I didn't tell him mine was an A+. Oh, Justin asked if I was going to church camp this summer. I told him I didn't know. Am I going?"

"You'll be going while Amy and Haden are in classes this summer," Darrell said.

"Amy, I thought you said you wouldn't have nursing classes this summer," Adam said.

"I'm not taking nursing classes," Amy said. "I'll be taking classes toward my BS degree."

"I don't understand," Adam said.

"Okay, I'll graduate from nursing next spring with an associate degree in nursing," Amy explained. "Then I'll be taking additional classes to get my bachelor degree in nursing."

"I didn't understand that either," Darrell admitted. "What will you be able to do with a bachelor degree that you can't do with an associate degree?"

"Well, there're more opportunities for advancements," Amy explained. "And I'd like to eventually get my master degree and teach nursing. Dr. Landers said I should consider it too."

"Who's Dr. Landers?" Rita asked.

"She's dean of nursing," Amy explained.

"We'll pay your tuition as long as it takes," Rita said.

"I have to work at least two years for the hospital, to pay back the scholarship," Amy explained. "But I probably should work longer than that and gain more experience. I can take many of the courses online."

"It sounds like you have it all planned out," Darrell said.

"I hope so."

"What classes are you taking this summer?" Haden asked Kyle, as they rode home from class.

"I may not go this summer."

"Why would you not go?"

"Mom hasn't found a babysitter for Jared yet."

"Adam and Justin are going to church camp when Amy and I are in class."

"Is this at our church?"

"Yes, Adam didn't want to go last summer, but he ended up liking it."

"I'll tell Mom about it. I want to get my degree as quickly as possible."

"Are you still wanting to become a coach?"

"That's my plan."

"Won't it be difficult to become a coach, since you didn't play college ball?"

"I plan to try again this fall."

"Is that wise, after that knee injury kept you out last season?"

"Well, the doctor said my knee was well enough to play. And if Jared goes to church camp, I can do football practice."

"It looks like someone has already picked Adam up," Haden said, when he saw Adam sitting on the front step with both dogs. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow when we help Grant move to their new house."

"Right, tomorrow's their big day."

"Adam, what's in the box?" Haden asked.

"Kittens," Adam said. "I found them in this box by the mail box. I'm teaching Lucky and Brandy to be nice to them. Mom called Dad and asked him to bring kitten food for them. He said they could live in the barn."

"We used to have cats living in the barn. They kept the mouse population down. I'll get the crate we use for transporting the dogs to the vet. Then they'll be able to see the world, and they can stay in there until we get them settled. How many are there?"

"I couldn't tell. But I only peaked in - I was afraid they'd run away."

"There're four," Haden said, as he looked inside the box and placed the kittens in the crate. "We'll take them to the vet next week for their shots, and arrange to have them neutered."

"How old do you think they are?"

"I'd say about two months, but we'll ask when they go to the vet."

"Dad's home."

"More strays?" Darrell stated, as he delivered the food and other supplies.

"Hey, Dad, I was a stray," Adam said.

"Well, you have a point," Darrell said with a laugh. "We had to keep you too."

"What did you bring?" Adam asked.

"Some kitten toys, a bed, food and water dishes, and of course, kitten food. Now, who's going to be responsible to feed and care for them?"

"Dad, you know it'll be me. Don't I take good care of Brandy and Lucky?"

"I must admit you do, Son," Darrell said, as he gave Adam a hug.

"Why do they have to live in the barn?"

"Amy's allergic to cats."

"They could live in the garage, then."

"Adam, we could accidently run over them there," Haden mentioned.

"Alright, I guess they would be better off living in the barn," Adam admitted.

"Did you guys get the kittens taken care of?" Rita asked, when Haden and Adam returned from the barn.

"Yeah, they were hungry too," Adam said.

"Poor things," Rita said. "I don't know how a person could just dump them like that."

"I wish Amy wasn't allergic to cats, then they could live in the house," Adam said.

"Four cats in the house would be a little much," Rita said. "They'll be happy in the barn."

"Lucky and Brand will protect them," Adam said. "They liked them. I hope the horses don't step on them."

"They're smart enough not to be near the horses," Darrell said.

"Are we going riding tomorrow?" Adam asked.

"Probably not, remember we're helping Grant and Betty move," Darrell said. "But I had the guys come out and install the gate you and Justin have been begging for."

"Thanks, Dad," Adam said.

"Remember, there'll be some rules when they get moved in," Rita said. "First, you're not to go there without permission."

"And when you do go, use the gate and stay away from the highway," Darrell added.

"Oh, I almost forgot, Kyle said Steve bought the twenty acres from Ray,"

"I knew he would," Adam proclaimed.

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