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Jonas sat in the office and waited for the doctor to finish up with Hailey. He was glad that he’d asked Rogen for help in finding him a good psychiatrist for the child. At only ten, Hailey was having more difficulty than the other kids. Her lack of trust was beyond anything he’d ever seen in his life. Even his brothers, who were both doctors, were worried for her. The door opened, and Hailey came out, with the doctor right behind her. “He said I’m insane.” Jonas looked at the doctor, who was laughing while shaking his head. “Well, he might as well have said it. He thinks I’m not telling him everything.” “Are you?” She shook her head and turned to look at the doctor before looking at Jonas. “That’s all right, honey. Whatever you need to do, I’m right here for you.” “You say that, but then you bring me here. Why?” He told her, deciding that lying to the kids was going to hurt them all in the long run.
“I have my reasons. Why do I have to share them with a stranger?” “Will you tell me?” She looked back at the doctor, then at him again. “Hailey, have I given you any reason not to trust me? At all? If I have, then you have to tell me what it is. I can’t fix what I don’t understand.” “That’s what Ms. Tru said. That she can’t fix what she doesn’t understand that is broken. Do you think I’m broken, Mr. Jonas?” He said he didn’t know, that he didn’t want her to be afraid of everything. “I’ll have to think about it.” When she walked back to the doctor, he got down on her level. Dr. Miser was supposed to be the best child psychiatrist in the world. He hoped so. Jonas really was afraid for his children and their mental well-being.
“I’ll come to see you. But I don’t trust you.” Dr. Miser told her that he was well aware of that. “I know you are. But I’m not going to give you that until I’m sure. I’m not insane—you know that, don’t you?” “I do. More than you do, I think. You have some trauma that you’re not dealing with well, but I think with time, the two of us can get to some sort of conclusion. I’m not going to make you trust me, Hailey, but I am happy that you’re at least willing to have an open mind about it.” She told him point blank not to put his horses before the cart just yet. “I promise you I won’t. But I do see a lovely little girl that has had more than her share of things happening to her that never should have. Also, you might find this hard to believe right now, but you couldn’t be with a better group of people than the ones you are right now.
They wanted only the best for you and your brothers and sister, and they hopefully found that in me.” As she returned to him, Jonas was so happy when she took his hand into hers. She would do that on occasion, but not often enough for his heart. As they were making their way to the car, he saw that Rogen was there waiting on them. Rogen was large enough with child that he worried about her just walking around. But like the rest of the men in his family, he didn’t say a word to her. She asked Hailey how the appointment went.
All four of the children were coming to see the doctor now. Even Sarah, the youngest of the children, seemed to be coming along better with his help. The only holdout was Hailey. Tru had told Jonas that he should search her mind for the issues, but frankly, he was afraid of what he might find there. “It was all right. If you’re here to drop that kid, then I’ll help you. I helped my momma deliver Sarah. I’m not one to faint with blood all over me.” Neither of them said anything to her, but Hailey seemed to realize she might have said too much. “Mr. Jonas said he’d take me to lunch if I didn’t murder the doctor like I wanted to. Are you going to join us?” “I’d like that. Are you really going to murder the doctor? I have to tell you, he’s a good friend of mine, and while I can understand wanting to murder a doctor, he’s been a good man so far.” Hailey said that for now, she wasn’t going to.
For some reason, Jonas wasn’t reassured by her comment, but she got into the car and strapped in. “She’s going to be a lot to handle when she does spill out what she’s holding to her heart. I thought you’d like to know that I’ve talked to Sissy Whitman and her father. There is a sister, Ginger, that is around, but she’s out of contact with most of the world. I’m trying my best to narrow down what it is she does, but she’s off the grid most of the time. How are you doing?” “Great now that they’re all not sick. I’ve hired a nanny—thanks for the suggestion. Sarah is coming along nicely now that she has her diaper rash under control. Thomas and—” She told him she’d asked about him. “They are mine, Rogen. I find that I can’t function without them around me. I know they’re more than likely going to be adopted by their aunt, but I love them with all my heart right now, and I don’t know what I’m going to do without them.”
“Benny Whitman is in jail. He hit his wife, Sissy, in the face and did some pretty painful wounds to her head. That was only the second time he’d hit her, but it was enough for her to call in her father. You know Heath Morgan, don’t you?” Jonas said he did. “I thought so. Thatcher said you’d done some work for him a few years ago. Sissy is his daughter.” “I wonder how that will affect whether she is interested in bringing the children home with her. They’re a great deal to handle. I’m sure she can afford the help she’ll need.” Jonas had to turn away. Thinking about the kids leaving him was almost too much for him. “I really love them, Rogen.” “I know you do. We all do.” He nodded and opened the front passenger door for her to get into his car. “I can’t ride with you—I have my car over there. However, I’d love to join you. I have some things on the burner at home that I need to care for. I’ll meet you wherever you’re headed.” He laughed as he was getting into the car. If she said burner, he knew for sure it wasn’t on the stove. Rogen had about a dozen computer monitors going at any given time that she worked with. Jonas was happy that she was willing to meet him. People looked at him oddly when he was out alone with one or all of the kids like he was some sort of pervert.
Hailey was getting better about going out to lunch with him. So long as she didn’t drink anything but bottled water, which he brought with them all the time, she was able to eat things that were hot. Pizza, so far, was her favorite meal. Tru had told her that if there were any poisons in the pizza or anything associated with it, it would be cooked out in the oven. It had taken her three times to be able to eat an entire slice. Now, however, she wanted her own personal pizza. He’d never seen a kid like her food to be so spicy that even he couldn’t get close to it because the smell burned his nose. Tru and Hailey would have contests about how hot they could handle it. They were waiting on their food when Rogen turned to Hailey. “I found out what made the four of you sick that day at the apartment. It wasn’t anything you could have avoided.
What I mean is, it wasn’t poison like we thought, but the vitamins that Cindy was giving you each day. For some reason, they were sold expired. They should have been tossed out about a year ago. Not her fault either. The store they were gotten from should have caught that too.” Hailey asked what she’d done about it. “What do you mean?” “Did you kill them? The people that work at the pharmacy?” Rogen said she’d not thought about it, but if it would make Hailey feel better, she could have them shut down for a while. “No. I don’t want that. But someone should have to pay for making us all sick, don’t you think?
Mr. Jonas was freaking out, and then he had to call in his mom. Who I like, by the way. She doesn’t understand me, but she is a nice person.” “My mom loves you very much, Hailey. All of you.” She nodded but didn’t comment. Jonas asked about the stash. “I was just curious if there was any word on how it was stored where it was.” Thomas and Bobby had moved nearly five-thousand pounds of drugs from the back of a semi-truck trailer to one that had been sitting on the lot their parents had at one time rented. Having it right there under their noses had been the perfect place to keep it from their father, as his plan had been to sell it all and get himself “better children.”
Garry, the kids’ biological father, had stolen it from some very bad people and the kids, worried that it would kill children like them, had moved it, over a period of three weeks, into the trailer sitting abandoned on the land behind their home. “It’s been stored away. We did it on our own, so there is no trace of it on any books. The thing is, no one has said a word on the streets about it being missing. That’s what we’re hoping for. Some idiot comes along and starts spouting off about how he’s been robbed.” Jonas asked if that had happened before. “Sure. For the most part, bad guys are stupider than fuck.” “Packer. That’s his name.” They both looked at Hailey when she spoke. “What? Did you think we’d be out of touch with what was going on in our home? Never that. If we didn’t pay attention, we’d be hurt for sure. I don’t know anything more about him, but that’s what his street name was. He would come around the house when Mom was away at some jail, and Dad would tell this Packer guy that he didn’t know shit about it.”
“Do you happen to have any idea what he might look like?” Hailey said he had tats on his face. One of them was an ugly unicorn or some kind of horse. Rogen pulled up her phone and fiddled with it as their food was brought to them. “Is this him?” The whispered way that Rogen was talking to Hailey worried him a great deal. He didn’t want the kids involved in this. However, he also knew that Rogen and the rest of the family needed help in getting this taken care of before someone else came for them. Also, that even now, they were being guarded with the utmost care. No one would get by anyone in his family to get to the kids. Hailey took the phone from Rogen and looked at the picture. When she asked if there were more of him, Rogen told her to just flip through the photos there and see what she could find. It was perhaps three or four moments before Hailey handed her back the phone and picked up a slice of her food. “The man you showed me first is Packer. The second and fourth men in those pictures are always with him. I don’t have their names.
He usually just nods at what he wants, and they get it for him. I think he might be some kind of shifter person. One time I saw him get all furry like Mr. Jonas does when he’s all upset about something.” Hailey looked at Rogen as she chewed her food. As soon as she was finished with that, she spoke again. “They carried guns when they were at the house. I helped them move those when we found them. I can’t tell you where they are until I talk to my brothers. We made a pinky promise not to tell without all of us agreeing.” “Is there anything else the four of you stashed around? I mean, things that Packer or one of the others with him might have mentioned?” Hailey nodded and continued to eat her food. Jonas was honestly too afraid to eat. He didn’t know if he’d be able to keep it down the way that— “Wait. Did you say Packer got all furry like I do? Or were you just using me as an example?” Hailey told him he was a tiger, just like he was. “Christ. Thatcher can summon him to him if he’s not already told him he is in the area. In fact, he can call him to him anytime he wants. Will that be something you can do?” “I can.”
Rogen kissed Hailey on the head and got up to leave them. “I’m so thankful for you, Hailey, that if there is a reward for this, I’m going to make sure you get it.” “You can give it to little kids that need it more than we do now.” Hailey eyed him. “Unless you want to take it for yourself, Mr. Jonas.” “You four earned it. Whatever it is, you should take it for yourselves and use it for college or something. I wouldn’t dream of taking your money from you after all the hard work you’ve done.” Rogen left them there after waving at the waitress and staff. Not too long ago, he and his family had gotten someone out of this place that was being abused. It was a small world, he thought. “Mr. Jonas, I have a question for you.” Jonas told Hailey that she should just ask him. “We’ve been around you and your family for two weeks now. You’ve never once hit any of us or lost your temper. And when we need something, even if it’s just an extra blanket, you give it to us. Are you really this nice all the time?”
“I’d like to think I’m that nice. However, as you know, I do have bad days.” She said he’d never taken it out on them. “That wouldn’t serve anyone if I were to do that, now would it? But in answer to your question, what do you think my mom would do to me if I were a mean person and didn’t allow you an extra blanket?” “She’d beat your head in with a wet noodle.” His mom had said that to him on more than one occasion when he’d been younger. “I’m sort of afraid of her. Not that she’s hurt me or anything, but she could, I think.” “Mom would die before hurting anyone. Unless they were planning to harm any of her babies. To her, you are all her babies.” She shoved away her pizza, and he was happy she’d been able to eat all but one slice. “If you’re ready, we can head back to the house. I’m to understand that Bobby is going to have my brother come and visit him today.” “Why do you care?” That gave him pause, and he asked her what she meant. “Why are you so caring, Mr. Jonas? No one else gave a fiddle about us. You’re nothing but a stranger, and you’ve done more for us than anyone ever has before. Why?” “I have an answer for that, I think. I love you guys. I know you’ve heard me say that to you before.” She nodded. “All right. I tried to get your mom in a place where she could take care of you if she wanted, but I have since changed my mind about that.
I don’t think she’d be any better to you than your father was. And I want you four as safe as I can make you. Is that a good answer for you? I can go deeper if you want. But I know how much you hate when I get mushy.” They were both laughing as they went out to the car. This time when he looked around, Jonas could see the men following them—their guards. He’d never been one for people hanging out with him or around him, but he felt a good deal better knowing they were there. Driving home, he decided he was going to take his mom up on her offer to get him a staff. Having people helping with the kids was nice, but he had a feeling that if staff were there, he’d have a lot less stress in keeping up with things. ~*~ Sissy was just getting home from the grocery store when there was a knock at her back door. The only person that used it was family, and when she opened the door, thinking it’d be her father, she was so happy to see her sister. “Dad called and left me a message that you were in trouble. Christ, that prick really changed his tune about being around you, didn’t he?” They hugged several times before Sissy saw that her sister was hurt.
“It’s nothing. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking and tripped up on a log. Fell against a boulder and broke my arm. How is your face? You look like shit if you don’t mind me saying that.” “I know. People have been pointing that out to me for the last several days. But I decided that getting back to my life is more important than caring about people pointing and staring at me. How are you?” Telling Ginger to sit down, Sissy made them both a cup of tea. Knowing that her sister didn’t care for anything but black tea, she made her a cup. Sissy had a cup of Earl Gray, her favorite.
“Great, but for this arm. I would have been home sooner, but I had to finish up the pictures I was assigned to take. Dad told me you were with him, and I knew you’d be all right. Have you pressed charges yet? That little fucker needs to pay for what he’s done to you.” Sissy loved her sister so much and was thrilled to have her with her. She told it like it was, and that was just what Sissy needed. “If you’d go with me to take the pictures to the company that asked for them, you and I can get going on whatever it is you’ve been keeping from Dad.” “How did you know?” Ginger just laughed and said she’d not known. “You’ve done that to me before, and I can’t believe I still fall for it. Yes, I am keeping something from Dad. And I want you to help me with it. Benny’s sister? Margo is her name. She is out of jail just recently and wants her children back. That’s what caused this last thing with Benny. He didn’t want to go get them because one of them might be black. What a fucked up reason not to want them close by. Anyway, I want to go and get them and bring them back here.”
“You know I’ll do anything for you, but what the hell are you going to do raising a couple of kids?” Sissy corrected her. “Okay, four of them. I’m not saying you can’t do it, but Sissy, that’s a lot of work. What do you know about them? Much at all?” “Are you asking me if they’re black too?” Sissy knew she’d hurt her sister, and when Ginger stood up, so did she. “I’m sorry for saying that. I know what you’re asking me. I honestly don’t know what I can do or not. I’ve never been around children much before. I’m simply stressing over everything I have going on. Please forgive me, Ginger. Please?” “Don’t say things like that to me. All right? You know as well as I do that I could care less about things like skin color and their sexual preference.” She hugged her again, and they both sat down. “Do you know where the kids are?” “I do.
They’re in Ohio with a family there. It’s not a long flight, but we can drive from here if you’d like. Pittsburg isn’t a long trip but still too much to do in one day. I think you might be familiar with the Robinsons.” She knew that her sister knew the Robinsons and asked her what she knew that wasn’t in the background check Dad had done on them a long time ago when she’d gone to college with one of them. “I think you went to school with one of them, correct?” “Yes. Dawson. He’s the youngest. A doctor.” She could tell that Ginger was thinking about them. “Can I tell you my opinion about the kids being with them without upsetting you?” Sissy said she wanted her to tell her. “They might be better off with them than you trying to raise them on your own. I love you, Sissy, but as you’ve said, you don’t know a great deal about children.
Especially ones that have been around Margo. I can make a call to Dawson, but the last I heard about them, they were taking in children that had been abandoned for a while now.” “All right. Will you call him? Then if he tells us that they’re better off with them, I’ll believe him. But I’d really like to go and see them. They’re my nephews and nieces, and I know nothing about them other than they’ve been born.” Ginger pulled out her cell phone. “I can’t thank you enough for this. You don’t know how much I’ve been worrying about them.”
“I’d like to speak to Dawson Robinson, please. My name is Ginger Morgan. He and I went to school together.” Sissy couldn’t hear what was being said on the other end, but when Dawson must have come onto the line, Ginger spoke again. “How the hell are you, dumbass?
I didn’t think I’d get through to you. I figured you’d be out on the golf course or some other equally stupid shit I’ve heard about doctors.” Ginger told him she was putting him on speaker phone. “I’ve not thought of you in…well, I’m not going to say how long it’s been. Busy with life. But I do reminisce about some of the antics we were up to. No, not on the course. I don’t have time for that now that I’m working for myself. Holy Christ, Gin. I miss you. Where are you now? Still taking pictures of weddings and grads?” “No. Wildlife. I just got home and was told that my sister’s soon-to-be exhusband has some relatives that might be in your care. I don’t know a great deal about them, but the Feds were supposed to have called Benson a few weeks ago to come and get them. I was hoping that my sister and I could come out and see what we can do about this.” Sissy heard the background sounds cut off when a door was shut. “Something wrong, Dawson?” “I’d say that’s an understatement. How much do you know about why we have them?”
Sissy spoke up then and told them she knew nothing more than what someone had told her husband, brother to Margo. “Hello, Sissy. Your sister spoke highly of you while we were friends in college. About the kids…I’m not sure what I can tell you over the phone. If you’d like to come out here, I can arrange that for you, but you’d not be able to tell anyone where you’re headed or why.” “Is it that bad?” Ginger watched Sissy’s face as Dawson said it was about as bad as he’d ever seen it. “All right. You make the arrangements, and we’ll head that way. Should Dad come with us? I don’t want him left behind if we can help it.” “You give me your addresses, and I’ll make sure your homes are watched over.” Sissy was starting to get very nervous about this now that it seemed the kids might be trouble.
“Bring Mr. Morgan with you too. I’d like to see him again. But just be careful, guys. There is a great deal at stake, and a lot of lives involved that could be endangered should there be any kind of leak out there.” “Call me when you find out anything. In the meantime, we’ll get going here. Nothing packed, so there is no reason to think we’re leaving. No mail stopped. Nothing.” Dawson said he’d take care of it. “Good. Thanks. I’ll wait to hear from you.” Twenty minutes after her sister hung up the phone, an officer came by the house. He said he was there to inspect the windows and doors as he’d been asked to do. As soon as he was in the house, the man went through the house and opened the back door, letting several men in with not just guns on their person, but also armor and other very scary equipment. Ginger was handed a cell phone, as well as a bag. When they were told to stand in the hallway, three men went over the house with equipment, telling them they were to search for bugs and other devices. A camera was set up in the dining room, and they were asked to have a seat. First, however, Sissy was asked to call their dad over for lunch.
Dad was happy to join them. She wasn’t to tell him that Ginger was at her house, nor about the people in her home. Sissy was beginning to see that the kids were in deeper shit than even she thought anyone could handle. As soon as their dad joined them, they were asked to go to the computer monitor and have a seat. Someone appeared there almost as soon as they were surrounded by the men that came with them. “Hello. My name is Rogen Robinson. I work for the Federal Government. My family and I are protecting the children and want to make sure that when you arrive, you’re as safe as they are.” Dad asked what was going on. “I can’t tell you anything right now, Mr. Morgan. Only that the children are safe and that we’ll make all the arrangements to have you brought to them. As you’ve been informed, you’re just to leave your home the way you entered. Ginger, you’re not on the radar just yet, so when you leave, I’d like for you to go out the back the way you entered and into the woods. The car you drove is no longer parked where you left it, but someone is there you can trust with your life.” “Since you’re not giving us anything to work with here, you tell me why I should trust you with my family, Ms. Robinson.
They’re all I have in this world.” Someone entered the picture with them, and Dad asked Dawson what was going on. “They’re treating us like we’ve done something wrong here, Dawson. You know us. We’d never harm a fly.” “Mr. Morgan, had you been even the least bit suspicious that the men in the home with you now were there to kill you?” Sissy asked Rogen if that was necessary to tell them. “It is. I won’t lie to you about any of this. I will tell you that the kids are heroes and have been working with us since we brought them here. Once you arrive, you’ll stay with my husband and I, and we’ll explain everything. For now, you’ll do as I asked. The phone that Ginger has is secure. If anything goes wrong on your end, even if one of you are even remotely worried about something, call. The men with you are going to be at your beck and call until you arrive. Trust them as you would each other.”
“And if we don’t?” One of the armed men came into the room then and put the gun to her father’s head. “Are you trying to scare me, Ms. Robinson? I’m made of sterner stuff than having an empty gun to my head.” The gun was fired at the wall and blew a hole large enough that she could see her side yard. Sissy started crying when Ginger stood up and punched the man that had fired in the face. Then while he was falling, Ginger kicked him in the crotch. He went down much harder than Sissy had thought, but Ginger had always been strong. Ginger then stood in front of the monitor. “You fuck with my family like this again, and I don’t care who the fuck you’re working for. I’ll hunt you down for the rest of my life to kill you. Understand?” The woman laughed and said she did. “Good. My dad isn’t healthy, and doing shit like that will hurt him. I will not hesitate to pull the gun from your downed man and kill the rest of them here, even if it means my own death.” “I like you, Ginger. No, I won’t pull any more tricks on you.”
After Rogen told them again how to leave the house, they did so without any more incidents. They were on the plane in short order and served not just drinks but lunch as well. It freaked Sissy out a little when they not only had her favorite meal for her but a cup of hot Earl Gray as well. Sissy was even more terrified, thinking of what they did know about her and wondered how much more they knew about her and her family.