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
With everybody pitching in, the move for the Fergusons was accomplished in short order. Before noon, all the furniture was moved and in place. The boxes were unpacked, and the contents were put away. The beds were made, and the house looked comfortable and lived in.
"It already feels like home," Betty proclaimed.
"I'm anxious to be your neighbor," Linda said.
"I noticed they've started work on the foundation for your new house," Perry said.
"Yes, the basement is almost dug, and they hope to start the concrete work sometime next week," Steve explained. "Darrell, I never expected you to sell me the building supplies at your cost. I would've appreciated just a modest discount."
"It's the least I could do, after all the free legal work you've done for our family," Darrell said.
"Have you placed your house on the market yet?" Debbie asked.
"No, we decided to wait until the house is finished," Steve said.
"Yes, we didn't want to move twice, if it sold before our new house was finished," Linda said.
"I'm hungry," Jared said.
"Who does that sound like?" Rita joked.
"Mom ..." Adam protested.
"I'd forgotten just how much young boys can eat," Linda said, as she gave Jared a hug.
"There're sandwiches in the refrigerator," Lacey said.
"And I made a potato salad," Rita said.
"Mom, you didn't bring a potato salad," Haden pointed out.
"Goodness, what's wrong with me?" Rita said with an embarrassing laugh. "Haden, would you go get it for me?"
"I'll go get it," Adam quickly volunteered.
"I'll go with you," Justin offered.
"Me too," Jared said.
In spite of the slight differences in their ages, Jared had been accepted as a peer by the older boys. On the other hand, Mark began spending more time with his brothers Cody and Tony, as well as Haden and Kyle.
"Use the gate, and go through the pasture," Darrell ordered.
"We will," Adam agreed.
"Haden, did you mow the path over here, and the lawn?" Betty asked.
"Actually, Adam mowed," Haden said, as he smiled proudly at his brother. "I ran the weed eater."
"Thank you, guys," Grant said.
"That was cool," Justin said, when the boys returned with the potato salad.
"What was cool?" Betty asked.
"Walking to my friend's house," Justin said. "Dad, when are we bringing our horses over here?"
"We'll do it later today," Grant said. "Perry, you can bring Bonny and Monday over here too."
"I'll have plenty of pasture for them now," Darrell said. "I have ten more acres than you, so they'll be fine in our pasture.
"And we'll be moving our three soon too," Steve pointed out.
"Could we go riding this afternoon?" Adam asked.
"We're working in the garden this afternoon," Darrell reminded him.
"Shoot," Adam said.
"Would it be too late for us to plant a garden?" Betty asked.
"It would be too late for cool weather plants, but there're lots of things that you could still plant," Darrell said.
"I'll bring the tiller over and till it for you," Haden offered.
"I can bring my dad's tractor and do it," Jeff proposed. "It wouldn't take nearly as long."
"Thank you, Jeff," Grant said. "I suppose I need to look into buying a tiller."
"Can we afford a new tiller?" Betty questioned.
"I sold a new tiller yesterday to a customer that has his old one for sale, and he's only asking $75.00 for it," Jeff said. "I checked his old one out; all it needs is a tune-up."
"Do you happen to have his phone number?" Grant asked.
"No, but I delivered his new one and know where he lives," Jeff said.
"I'll follow you there and pick it up," Grant said.
"Could we go riding?" Adam asked Haden, when Haden picked him and Justin up at school.
"I need to finish my valedictorian address," Haden said. "But I'll take you, if I get it finished early enough."
"Alright," Adam reluctantly agreed.
"I made a fruit salad for your snack," Haden said, when they arrived home. "It's in the refrigerator - I'm going to work on my speech."
"Haven't you finished yet?" Adam asked, when he and Justin went to Haden's room ready to ride.
"No, I'm still working on it," Haden answered.
"Good grief, how long is that speech anyway?" Adam asked, when he saw the stack of papers that Haden had been editing. "You'll bore everyone to death."
"What would you know about giving a speech?"
"Well, in our history class we learned that one of the best speeches ever given was Lincoln's Gettysburg Address; it was only 272 words, and delivered in less than 3 minutes."
"Yeah, we just learned that," Justin agreed.
"Alright, let's go riding," Haden agreed. "I'm getting a headache over this speech, anyway."
After a short ride and taking care of the horses, Haden returned to the kitchen to finish dinner. He'd cooked Ranch chicken in the crock pot to be served over rice. He'd also planned seasoned vegetables and garlic bread. There would be lemon meringue pie for dessert.
"Haden, this is a delicious dinner," Rita said during dinner. "What's this chicken called?"
"Ranch chicken, I found the recipe online," Haden explained.
"Could you print it out for me?" Rita asked. "I may want to make it sometime."
"I cooked the rice," Adam bragged.
"And you did a good job," Amy said, then gave her brother a hug.
"Haden, do you have your speech ready?" Rita asked.
"I was working on it, but Adam convinced me that it was too long," Haden admitted.
"How long is it?" Darrell asked.
"Really looong," Adam said.
"Twelve pages," Haden confessed.
"Adam's correct," Amy said. "Remember my graduation when Carmen Lancaster gave hers? She just went on and on; I thought she'd never quit."
"I'm going to cut it way down," Haden said.
"Haden, did you send an invitation to your grandparents and the rest of the family?" Darrell asked.
"Yes, and Grandma called and said they'll all be here," Haden said. "I invited them to dinner. I guess that's okay ... I can cook dinner."
"No, Haden, it's your special day," Rita said. "If the weather's nice, we could cookout."
"Yeah, that'd be fun," Adam said.
"Haden, who do you want to invite?" Rita asked.
"Would it be too many, if we invite the regular families?"
"If you want them, we'll invite them," Darrell agreed. "It's your day. What time do you have to be at the football stadium for your graduation?"
"Graduation is at 7:00, but we graduates have to be there by 6:15," Haden said.
"We'll eat at 5:00, then," Darrell said. "I'll have to cook a lot of hamburgers, so I guess I'll take the day off."
"Honey, why don't we just hire a caterer," Rita suggested. "We'll be on a tight schedule; and I think we can afford it. That way, they'd be responsible for cleaning up afterward too."
"That would probably be best," Darrell agreed.
"Then we'll invite everyone back here for refreshments after the ceremony - or as Hyacinth Bucket would say tea and light refreshments," Rita said.
"Haden and Amy, when do you go to school this summer?" Adam asked.
"We'll have about a month off, then go Monday through Thursday with Fridays off," Amy explained. "And we should be home by 3:00 the days we go."
"Cool, we can go riding every day, then," Adam said.
"Remember, we have the garden to take care of, as well as the mowing," Haden mentioned.
Haden's graduation day finally arrived. He and Adam were both excited --- it was Adam's last day of school. Haden reflected on his first day of high school when his nerves caused him to nearly lose his breakfast. The four years had come and gone so quickly --- yet so much had occurred. Brenda was gone; but he had a new brother and step-mother. While far from wealthy, the family was much better off financially. Rita had brought happiness to his dad, as well as the entire family.
The caterers arrived mid-afternoon and began the setup for the cookout. "They even brought tables and chairs," Adam said, as he observed the two men working.
"Don't get in their way," Haden cautioned.
"Haden, give me some credit," Adam countered. "I'm not even close."
Each family brought refreshments for the after graduation gathering. "Who thought of this?" Amy asked, as refreshments were deposited in the kitchen.
"Your grandma did," Rita said. "She organized the entire thing to make sure there were no duplicates."
"This is a lovely spot," Grace observed, as the group enjoyed the food.
"The lake has made the setting even nicer than it was," Rita said.
After eating, Haden excused himself to get ready for his graduation.
"Haden, aren't you wearing a suit?" Adam questioned him, when Haden came to let everyone know he was going on to the football stadium.
"No, I'll be wearing a gown," Haden explained.
"A gown --- girls wear gowns," Adam said laughing, with Jared and Justin joining in.
"It's a graduation gown, you goofball," Haden said, as he walked away laughing.
Haden wasn't nervous about giving his speech until he was introduced and stood at the lectern and the microphone. So he stood a few seconds collecting himself before he began.
"I had a long speech prepared, but my little brother Adam said I would bore you to death with it. So, in an effort to avoid a lot of deaths, I'll try to be brief."
"It's difficult for us to believe that nearly four years have come and gone since we first set foot on a high school campus --- where has the time all gone?"
"We come here tonight to celebrate an ending -- and a beginning of a new phase of our lives. This new phase will lead us into new privileges and responsibilities, and the joys and sorrows of adulthood. With our graduation, each of us will experience these privileges and responsibilities in our own way. But none of this would have been possible without the support of our teachers, family, and community. We were fortunate to have some wonderful teachers here at Sparks High School. There will be many successes; and even a few failures. So, we need to remember that if we occasionally fail; we must get up, dust ourselves off, and try again."
"We now look forward to the path that lies before us -- the path of our own choosing. Some of us will begin our careers immediately; while others of us will go on to college to further our education in order to become doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs, and whatnot. Whatever our goals, we can reach them, if we work as hard as we can -- for as long as we have to. And if we persevere through the times when circumstances do not fall our way; the times when we feel like giving up; when the strain seems too great; when we feel like we are chasing after the wind --- just remember, it's never to late to see the fulfillment of our greatest aspirations in life."
"And in so doing, we must consider the needs of our fellow men. We must help them when they need it, we must listen to them when their hearts and minds are burdened and they just need someone to talk to. We will find that the more we do to make others happy, the happier we ourselves will be. And it's thus that we, individually and collectively, can make the world a better place in which to live."
"I believe my little brother is getting bored, so all I have left to say is ... thank you."
There was a loud round of applause as all the graduates and most of the people in the stands stood. Haden looked to where Kyle was sitting, and he was giving him a thumbs up.
"Haden, that was a wonderful speech, and I'm very proud of you," Grace said, as she hugged her grandson, after he arrived home from his graduation. All agreed, as each took turns hugging and congratulating him.
There were gifts and money presented to the new graduate. A big surprise was a five-day condo rental on the Gulf Shores from Kyle. But to Haden, maybe an even bigger surprise was the almost $2,000 in cash.
The families were enjoying an after church cookout at the Harringtons' picnic area when Betty yelled in excitement, "It's a text from Perry. Lacey's in labor at the Army Hospital."
"I just got one too," Rita said.
"Grant, let's help clean up and then go," Betty said in excitement.
"Betty, don't you think Darrell and Rita will want to go too?" Grant asked, and laughed at his excited wife.
"Who else is going?" Darrell asked.
"Dad, I had a clinical assignment at the Army Hospital," Amy said. "And they're strict about visitors. So, they're not going to let us all in. Just you and Mom go, as well as Grant and Betty."
"I hate to ask, but could Justin stay here?" Betty asked.
"Of course he can," Amy said.
"He'll be fine with us," Haden promised.
"You may be there all night," Amy pointed out. "You probably should take a change of clothes and some comfort items."
"That's a good idea," Betty said. "Haden, here's a key; I'm sure you'll need to go over and get a change of clothes for Justin."
"Do you want to ride with us?" Darrell asked.
"Thanks, we might as well take only one vehicle," Grant agreed.
"Let's get everything cleaned up and be on our way," Betty said.
"Don't worry about this," Linda said. "There're plenty of us to clean up."
"Call and keep us posted," Amy said, as the four prepared to leave.
"We're going to be uncles," Adam said, as he high fived Justin.
"So will Joe and I," Haden pointed out.
"And I'll be an aunt," Amy said with a smile.
"Yeah, but the uncles outnumber the aunts," Adam argued.
"In that case, Adam, it's quality, not quantity," Amy countered.
"Huh...?" Adam responded.
"Never mind," Amy said, as she gave Adam and Justin items to carry to the house.
"I can take something," Jared said.
"Can you manage this?" Amy asked, as she gave Jared the condiments to carry.
"I sure can," Jared said.
"Have you made a reservation to the Gulf Shores yet?" Kyle asked Haden, as they helped carry items to the house.
"I thought about going in two weeks. What do you think?"
"Oh, you want me to go too?"
"Why wouldn't I?"
"It was a gift to you, to do as you please."
"And I'd be pleased, if you went."
"In two weeks would be fine, then."
"Kyle, I've been thinking. Let's take the younger ones camping again this summer. I think Jared would have fun too."
"That would be fun. Oh, next week, Jared will officially become my brother."
"That's great news."
"Haden. will you and Kyle take us riding?" Adam asked, as soon as they entered the house.
"Let's not go today, remember we're about to become uncles," Haden reminded his brother. "We'll want to know when the baby is born."
"Jared, we need to go home now," Linda said.
"Could I spend the night too?" Jared begged.
"Not tonight, dear," Linda said. "Adam and Justin are about to become uncles, and may be going to see their new nephew."
"Mom, I'll still be here a while," Kyle said. "I can bring him home when I go."
"Alright, but don't be too late," Linda agreed.
"Come on, guys, let's go outside and play with the dogs," Adam suggested.
"Don't go out of the yard," Amy ordered.
"Justin, maybe we should go to your house and get you a change of clothes first," Haden suggested.
"You don't have to go with me," Justin said.
"I'd better go," Haden said. "There's no one there, and if anything happened, I'd be responsible."
"Could Adam and Jared go too?"
"Sure, they can."
"I really like living here," Justin said, as Haden unlocked the door.
"And we'll be living right over there," Jared said, and pointed toward the construction site.
"Yeah, then we'll all be neighbors," Justin said.
"Is that everything?" Haden asked, when Justin placed jeans and a shirt on his bed.
"Yeah," Justin said.
"Are you forgetting your pajamas, plus clean underwear and socks?"
"Oh yeah, but what should I put them in?"
"Do you have a backpack?"
"Yeah," Justin said, before taking a backpack out of his closet.
"I'll fold your clothes for you, so they don't get wrinkled. And while I do that, go get your toothbrush."
"Kyle, why don't you and Jared stay for dinner?" Amy suggested. "The boys are having a good time out there."
"I'd better call Mom, before I say yes," Kyle said.
"I can cook dinner," Haden offered.
"No, you have company," Amy said. "I think I'll make fried chicken. I know the boys will all like that."
"Mom said it was good that I called," Kyle said, after completing the call. "She was about to start dinner."
"Let's go ahead and make reservations for the Gulf Shores," Haden suggested.
"Good idea," Kyle agreed.
"Hey, according to their website, we'll have an oceanfront view. Wow, look at these pictures. This is nice."
"That's why I chose it."
"We're hungry," Adam said, when the three boys came in all sweaty.
"Go up to your room and wash up," Haden said. "Amy will have dinner ready soon."
"Lacey's still in early labor," Amy came into the room to announce.
"I just got the same text," Haden said.
"It could be a while," Amy said. "Anyway, would you tell the boys to come in and wash up for dinner?"
"I just sent them up to Adam's room to do that," Haden said.
"Oh boy, fried chicken," Adam said, when he saw the platter of chicken on the table.
"You still have to eat your vegetables too," Amy said.
"I know, I know," Adam said. "Amy's fried chicken is as good as Grandma's."
"It's because Grandma taught me," Amy confessed.
"I really like fried chicken," Jared said.
"Me too," Justin said.
"Adam, you're right, this is really good chicken," Kyle said.
"Yeah, I told you so," Adam said. "I wonder if the baby was born yet."
"Not yet," Amy said. "It may be a while."
"Can we go riding tomorrow?" Adam asked.
"Okay, but we're working in the garden first," Haden said.
"Mom bought some plants for the garden, and we were going to plant them, but now I don't know when," Justin said.
"We'll go over tomorrow and do it for her," Haden said.
"Could we come and help?" Jared asked.
"Sure, if Mom says you can," Kyle agreed.
"Well, when are we going to see the baby?" Adam asked.
"We have to wait until he's born," Amy said and laughed.
"Maybe we should wait until he goes home," Haden suggested.
"You're probably right," Amy agreed.
"Amy, that was good," Adam said, as he began to clear the table and load the dishwasher.
"Thank you," Amy said. "There's banana pudding, if anyone wants it."
"I do," all three boys said.
"Are we uncles yet?" Adam asked, when he and Justin came downstairs for breakfast the next morning.
"Well, I'm an aunt," Amy said. "So, I guess that makes you uncles."
"Awesome," Adam said, as he high fived Justin.
"His name's going to be Justin," Justin said.
"No, it's going to be Adam," Adam argued.
"I have news for both of you," Amy said with a smile. "His name is Dustin."
"How do you know?" Adam asked.
"I just got a text message from Perry," Amy said.
"So did I," Haden said, as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
"I wonder if anyone's told Grandma and Grandpa yet," Amy said.
"Maybe we should call them," Haden said.
"I'll call them after breakfast," Amy said.
"I wonder what he looks like," Justin said.
"This," Haden said, and showed him the picture that was on his phone.
"Let me see," Adam said, as he moved in to see.
"That's Dustin," Haden said.
"Why is his face red and his eyes all puffy?" Adam asked.
"All newborns look like that," Amy said, without explaining how the baby has to go through the birth canal.
"What's for breakfast?" Adam asked, not interested in hearing anymore about the birth.
"Scrambled eggs and sausage," Amy said. "Adam, will you make the toast, while I scramble the eggs?"
"Could we go see Dustin today?" Adam asked, as he placed the bread in the toaster.
"Yeah, could we?" Justin asked.
"We don't know if he'll be going home today yet," Amy said. "Haden, would you mind if I offer to go help Lacey for a few days?"
"Why would I mind?"
"Because you'd be stuck with these two."
"Hey, what do you mean, stuck with us?" Adam protested.
"No, I don't mind," Haden said, before Amy could respond to Adam.
"Good, because Betty was going to take off work," Amy explained. "And she was worried about missing hours at work. She wants to buy a few things for her new house."
"I'll get it," Adam said, when the phone rang as they ate.
"Finish your breakfast ... I'll get it," Amy said.
"Well, do we get to go see Dustin?" Adam asked, when Amy returned to the table.
"Not today," Amy explained. "Lacey and Dustin will be going home later today. But Perry suggested that we wait until tomorrow. Justin, I talked to your mom, and she and your dad will be home this evening. I suggested that she let you spend another night here, since she'll be tired and has to work tomorrow."
"What about Mom and Dad?" Adam asked.
"They'll be home this evening too," Amy said. "And I'll be going to Covington this afternoon. Haden, I'm sorry, but that means you'll be in charge of these two."
"I think I can manage," Haden said. "If they give me any trouble, I'll just tie them to a tree."
"Don't listen to him," Adam said. "He knows he'd be in big trouble, if he did that."
"I'll get it," Adam said, when the doorbell rang. "It's Kyle and Jared."
"Kyle and Haden are taking us camping," Jared immediately announced.
"Today?" Adam asked.
"No, not today," Kyle said.
"Are we going up on the mountain again?" Justin asked.
"No, we're going to the lake to camp this time," Haden said.
"Why can't we ride the horses?" Adam asked.
"When it's warm, we need to take an ice chest, and that's difficult with horses," Haden explained. "We'll camp out with the horses when we go on the trail ride."
"Who'll be going when we camp out?" Justin asked.
"The same ones who went the first time, plus Jared this time," Kyle said.
"We had fun, didn't we, Justin?" Adam said.
"Yeah, it was a lot of fun, except for that mean man," Justin agreed.
"What mean man?" Amy asked.
"Remember, a drunk pulled a gun on us," Haden said.
"Oh, I forgot about that," Amy said. "It's scary to even think about."
"Do we have a baby yet?" Kyle asked.
"Yeah, and they named him Dustin," Adam quickly announced.
"Kyle, did you and Jared have breakfast?" Amy asked.
"We had waffles," Jared answered. "We're going to help plant Justin's garden."
"Justin, take your backpack, and we'll get clean clothes when we go to work in your garden," Haden said.
"That won't be necessary," Amy said. "I'll wash what he wore yesterday."
"But we'll be working in the dirt," Haden mentioned. "So, he may still need another change."
Amy had chicken salad sandwiches and a vegetable tray ready for lunch, when the group returned from their gardening task. "I thought you were going to help take care of Dustin," Adam said, as he sat to eat his lunch.
"Lacey hasn't been discharged yet," Amy said. "So, I'll be going later today."
"Will Lacey have to be in bed?" Justin asked.
"Oh no," Amy said. "I'll just be there to give a hand. Lacey can pretty much take care of herself and the baby. I'll just help with the meals and housework for a while."
"How long will that be?" Adam questioned.
"Not long, Perry will get his discharge in three weeks," Amy said.
"When did you hear this?" Haden asked in surprise.
"Today, when I talked to him," Amy said. "He'll be working for Uncle Scott in his insurance office and taking college classes."
"On the day of my graduation, I was thinking about how much things have changed over the past four years," Haden said.
"Yeah, I became a member of this family," Adam chimed in.
"That's just one of the changes," Haden said.
"Yeah, remember your first day of high school?" Amy asked with a giggle.
"Yeah, and you thought it was funny," Haden said.
"Well, I kind of thought it was," Amy said. "But I did feel sorry for you. At least, I didn't let you get on the wrong bus like Perry did me. He was awful, back then.
"He was?" Justin asked. "He's always nice to me."
"He was a different person, back then," Haden explained. "Our birth mom was miserable and therefore, made the entire family miserable."
"Well, you have a good mom now," Adam added.
"Yeah, we do," Amy agreed. "And we've got a mischievous little brother also."
"Yeah, but you love me," Adam said, with his mischievous smile.
"I guess we do," Amy agreed, as she hugged her brother.
"What time are we going to see Dustin?" Adam asked at breakfast the next morning.
"Your dad and I have to work," Rita said. "We'll go after we get home from work."
"Haden could take me," Adam proposed.
"Adam, your mother said we'd go when we get home from work," Darrell said.
"But, Dad ...," Adam moaned.
"No buts, we'll go when we get home from work," Darrell restated.
"I'll have dinner ready, so we can eat early," Haden offered.
"That's a good idea," Rita said. "Would you mind preparing enough, so Betty and Grant can eat with us? They'll be going too."
"It would be no problem," Haden agreed.
"I'll let Betty know at work," Darrell said.
Haden, there're pork chops in the refrigerator that need to be used," Rita said. "Maybe you can figure something to do with them."
"I'll think of something," Haden said.
"Haden, will you take us riding?" Adam asked, after Darrell and Rita left for work.
"We'll go for a short ride, but I have to go to the store before I cook dinner,"
After Scout, Dusty, Dusty, and Barney were saddled, Haden reminded the boys, "Now remember, it's a short ride."
"Are we riding on Mr. Reed's land?" Adam asked.
"Not today," Haden said. "Now, we have our 20 acres, Justin's 10, and Steve's 20 to ride on."
"Yeah, Steve had a gate put in between our land and his," Justin said.
After riding for nearly two hours, Haden said, "We need to go back to the house. I still have to go to the store and get a few things for dinner."
"Could we ride while you go?" Adam begged.
"You know the answer to that," Haden said.
"The answer is yes," Adam giggled.
"I'd be in big trouble, if I did that," Haden said.
After unsaddling and tending to the horses, Haden said, "Alright, we need to go into town now."
"Couldn't we just stay here and play with the dogs?" Adam asked.
"No, you're going with me," Haden said.
"But we're hungry," Adam said.
"We'll get a burger in town," Haden offered.
"I'll get it," Rita said, which surprised the boys; they weren't aware of her standing behind them when they were ordering.
"Mom, I didn't see you come in," Adam said, as he hugged Rita.
"Three cheese burgers with fries, and three medium drinks," Rita said, after the boys had ordered.
"Mom, are you that hungry?" Adam asked with a giggle.
"Your dad and Betty are on their way here," Rita said. "Oh, there they are now."
"What a nice surprise," Betty said, as she sat next to Justin and gave him a hug.
"Mom, Haden took us riding this morning," Justin said.
"Did you thank him?" Betty asked.
"Thank you, Haden," Justin said.
"What time are we going to see Dustin?" Adam asked.
"After we eat dinner," Rita said.
"Oops, I forgot," Darrell said. "Betty, you and your family are invited to dinner."
"Thank you, that's awfully nice of you," Betty said. "I forgot to take anything out of the freezer."
"And you can ride with us to Covington, if you like," Rita said.
"Do you have room?" Betty asked.
"Sure, it'll seat nine," Darrell said.
"Haden, this is delicious," Betty said as they ate. "What's it called?"
"Apple-cranberry stuffed pork chops," Haden said.
"I'd love to have the recipe," Betty said.
"I'll e-mail it to you," Haden offered.
"He's really cute," Adam said, when he took his turn holding his nephew.
"Yes, he has all of his toes," Perry said with a laugh, when Adam checked Dustin's feet. "I used to have all my toes too, before I went to Iraq."
"Why did you name him after Adam's horse?" Justin asked.
"Oh my God, I didn't even think of that," Lacey said. "I just liked the name."
"What's his other name?" Adam asked, as Justin took his turn holding Dustin.
"Harrington, the same as yours," Lacey said.
"No, I mean what's his middle name?" Adam asked.
"It's Paul," Lacey said.
"I like it," Adam admitted.
"He's so tiny," Haden said, as he held Dustin for the first time.
"It didn't feel like it to me when I was in labor," Lacey said, and everyone laughed.
"When is he getting a horse?" Adam asked.
"He already has one," Perry said. "Monday will be his."
"Dustin, did you hear that?" Adam bent down to the baby and asked. "You already have a horse."
"Adam, all you ever think about is horses," Amy said.
"So?" Adam asked, thinking there was nothing wrong with liking horses.
The birth of Dustin Paul Harrington completed the union of the two families. And he was immediately welcomed and loved by both.