2:4 Birthday Girl

03-24-18_6-16-37 PM

It was Hope’s birthday. He knew what he wanted to get her, but knew that if he managed to find one in his price range, he would be very lucky.

He headed to the tech shop and sighed when he saw all the people there. It wasn’t the amount of people that bothered him. It was the fact that Raelynn and her brother were both there. He had forgotten that he worked at the shop. It was also the fact that Anne was there with her mother and little brother. This could get pretty bad. Especially if they saw him there.

He snuck around the store to the back where the tablets were. That was what he was there for.

03-24-18_6-20-32 PM

Zaiden looked at the different tablet options in front of him. He wanted to get Hope one for her birthday. The problem was that they all cost a lot more than the amount he had budgeted for.

He knew that Hope could really use one of these tablets. She could use it to do homework and play games.

He knew that he could use the money in his dad’s account, but he was still hesitant to use that. Knowing where the money came from still bothered him. He had decided not to use it unless it was an emergency. Getting Hope a birthday gift was not an emergency.

He looked around and saw that nobody was watching. He picked up one of the tablets and looked around again. It would be so easy to just walk out with it.

He put the tablet back down and left. He would find something for his sister. Something he didn’t have to steal.

03-24-18_11-40-54 PM

Zaiden had made Hope a cake. He had also gotten her an outfit at the second hand store. The shirt was missing a few buttons, but he was certain he could fix that.

03-25-18_2-57-30 PM

He looked at his little sister when she came into the room.

“There’s the birthday girl. I was starting to think you had forgotten what day it was.”

03-25-18_3-01-43 PM

Hope rolled her eyes then looked at her brother. “Thank you for making me a cake. It has strawberries on it like I wanted, right?”

Zaiden nodded. “It sure does. I had to go all around the camp ground to find a strawberry bush that the birds hadn’t pecked all the strawberries off of.”

03-25-18_3-03-35 PM

Hope gave Zaiden a hug. “You are a great big brother.”

That made Zaiden happy to hear. He knew that they didn’t have much, but they at least had each other. That was what mattered. He would always make sure they had each other.

03-25-18_3-03-51 PM

He listened to Hope while she told him a story about a bear and a chipmunk being best friends.

2:3 Beggin For Thread

Zaiden looked at the hospital bills and knew that there was no way he could pay them on the little amount he was making at the camp ground. He was going to have to find another job.

He wanted something that would allow him to still work at the campground. He he quit that job, they would lose the cabin. He could not afford an apartment or house for all three of them.

03-23-18_11-33-47 PM

Zaiden remembered his dad’s friend, Tony. His dad had done some work for Tony from time to time. He had no clue what the work was, but maybe it was something that Zaiden could help with.

03-22-18_7-21-47 PM

“Hi, Zaiden. We miss you at school.”

Zaiden looked at Raelynn. She was the reason that Anne had broken up with him. Well, she was, yet she wasn’t. It was Anne’s irrational jealously about a school project that Zaiden had been assigned to work with Raelynn on that had caused it. But that was another life. Zaiden had bigger things to worry about now.

He followed Tony inside where they could talk.

03-22-18_7-43-46 PM

Zaiden checked the text he got from Emma and was glad it wasn’t any emergency. It was just her letting him know that she had fixed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for herself and Hope for lunch.

03-22-18_7-44-16 PM

Tony waited for him to send a message back to whoever it was that had texted him.

“Please set down, Zaiden.”

03-23-18_11-26-05 PM

Tony sat looking across the desk at Zaiden. “You know, I had helped your father in his search for you?”

Zaiden nodded. “Thank you for that. I am glad that I was able to have time with him before…” He couldn’t finish. He missed his father and talking about him still hurt.

Tony looked at Zaiden. He knew the kid did not know the truth about what happened. He knew that the kid needed to know. It was too dangerous for him not to know.

“Zaiden, have you read your mother’s diaries?”

03-23-18_11-26-54 PM

“The ones that dad published?” He shook his head. “Dad said that there were things written in them that a person should never know about their mother.”

Tony nodded. “I agree with your father about that. However, in this case, I think you should read them. Your parents died because of what was written in them.”

Zaiden knew about his mother’s death. Not all of the details, but enough. What Tony said caught him off guard.”

“The cops said that Dad was killed during a mugging.”

03-23-18_11-33-12 PM

Tony shook  his head. “It wasn’t a mugging. It was made to look like one.”

Zaiden looked at Tony a bit confused. “What do you mean? Someone wanted to kill my dad?”

Tony nodded. “It was a planned hit. Your father knew about it months before it happened.”

“Why would somebody want to kill my dad?”

“For the same reason they had your mother killed. They knew too much.”

“Knew too much?” Zaiden was trying to process everything that Tony had told him.

03-23-18_11-33-29 PM

“Read the diaries, Zaiden. Protect yourself and your sisters.”

Zaiden looked at Tony a bit worried. “Do you think someone would go after the girls?”

Tony nodded. “If they think that you know too much, they could go after the girls to get to you. I won’t let that happen. Your father was a dear friend of mine. I owe it to him to ensure his children are safe.”

Zaiden wasn’t too sure about that. Tony didn’t protect his father.

03-23-18_11-28-03 PM

“If you call the hospital, you will find that your sister’s medical expenses have been taken care of. I owed your father for some work he had done for me.”

Tony slid something across the desk to Zaiden. “That will give you access to your father’s bank account.”

Zaiden took the envelope, but wasn’t sure about using it. From the way the conversation had gone, the money in that account was only there because of something that killed his parents. He didn’t want anything to do with that.

2:2 Angel

03-18-18_4-53-50 PM

Emma woke up not feeling well. Her stomach was hurting.

Zaiden could tell that something was really wrong with his sister. He knew that taking her to the hospital meant they could be separated. He also knew that not taking her could be bad.

He knew he didn’t have a choice. He had to do what was best for Emma.

He took her to the hospital.

03-18-18_6-39-27 PM

Zaiden looked at the paperwork they gave him to fill out. There were many questions that he did not know the answers to.

“Drug allergies? Previous hospital stays?”


03-18-18_6-48-01 PM

Zaiden felt overwhelmed. He thought about calling his Uncle Collin or his Aunt Diana. He knew they would know what to do.

He looked through his phone contacts until he found the number he was looking for.

03-18-18_7-43-16 PM

Callie handed the clipboard to the nurse then sat down beside Zaiden.

“She’s going to be alright, Zaiden. Doctors remove hundreds of appendixes every day.”

03-18-18_7-52-38 PM

Zaiden nodded and sighed. “Thank you for coming. I didn’t know how else to call.”

Callie gave him a hug. “You can call me any time. Despite everything that happened, I still think of you as a son.”

03-18-18_8-35-18 PM

Zaiden was happy to hear that. “You are still the only mother I have ever known.

“Callie squeezed his hand. “Are you and the girls okay? Is there anything you need?”

03-18-18_8-47-43 PM

Zander had told her that Zaiden had quit school. She had gone to the apartment and found out they had moved out.

Zaiden wasn’t sure how much to tell her. “We are fine. We have a place to live and I have a job.”

03-18-18_8-48-33 PM

Callie could see that she was no going to get any details out of him. “If you or the girls ever need anything, I am just a phone call away.”

03-18-18_8-49-39 PM

Zaiden nodded and gave Callie a hug. “Thank you. It is great knowing someone is there.”

2.1 American Honky-Tonk Bar Association

03-17-18_3-20-26 PM

Zaiden knew that he would not be allowed to raise the girls himself. He was only 16. If Children Services came, they would all be taken somewhere. Probably to that horrible orphanage. He refused to go back there. He wasn’t going to let Emma and Hope be taken there either.

03-17-18_3-26-04 PM

He packed up what they would need for themselves and the two cats. He put Catastrophy and Sprig into pet carriers.  He walked around the house making sure they would have everything they would need. Everything else would stay here and he would get it when he could.

03-17-18_3-27-10 PM

He looked at the picture of his parents that still hung over his bed. He really wished they were both still here. He took the picture down and put it in one of the bags to go with them.

03-17-18_3-29-21 PM

As soon as the car was loaded, he got the girls and cats into the car and they all left.

Zaiden would find a part time job. Since he wasn’t going to be able to return to school without Children Services finding him, he may even be able to find full time work.

He could teach the girls at home until he was old enough to be their guardian. Emma could watch Hope while he was at work.

They had their dad’s old tent. Maybe they could find a campground or something where they could stay. If not, they had the car. They could live in the car if they had to. He had heard that some homeless people do that. They were homeless now, weren’t they?

03-17-18_5-23-46 PM

Zaiden got them checked in to the campground. He had seen a flier on the board. The camp ground was looking for someone to help keep the grass mowed and other minor maintenance things. They offered one of the cabins as partial payment.

03-17-18_5-27-11 PM

Zaiden helped get the girls and cats settled in. The cabin was much better than the car or a tent. The job did not pay much, but it gave them a place to live and a little money for food. And it got them away from the bear that seemed to want to eat Catastrophy.

It wasn’t the large expensive home that they were used to, but they were together and they would make it work.

1:34 All Of The Above

03-16-18_6-48-01 PM

Zaiden looked at Anne and smiled. He had missed her at school that day. She had caught a cold and had stayed home. Zaiden had stopped by to give her the homework that he had collected for her.

“How are you feeling?”

03-16-18_6-44-46 PM

“Pissed. Hurt. Betrayed. All of the above.”

Now that Zaiden looked closer at her, he could see the feelings in her eyes. “What happened? Who upset you?”


Zaiden was confused. “Me? What did I do?”

03-16-18_7-18-07 PM

“You cheated on me with Raelyn. Were you just waiting for me not to be at school before making your move?”

Zaiden’s confusion was growing. “What are you talking about?”

03-16-18_6-48-14 PM

“You and Raelyn getting cozy together during class today. Liberty sent me pictures, so don’t try to deny it.”

Zaiden wanted to laugh at the mix up, but he knew that would upset Anne even more. “We weren’t getting cozy. I swear. Mr. Kinney had us working on a project together. That is all.”

03-16-18_6-01-24 PM

“You kissed her, Zaiden!”

“On the cheek. We had to act out a scene from the play we are reading.” He pulled out the book to show her the scene.

03-16-18_7-18-28 PM

“You should have refused to do it. You were my boyfriend, Zaiden.”

“I can’t refuse to do someth…” Zaiden stopped when he realized what she had said. “What do you mean were? I am still your boyfriend.”

Anne shook her head. “I can’t be dating someone who goes around kissing other girls when I am sick at home. Thank you for bringing my homework, Zaiden. You can leave now.”

03-16-18_6-47-21 PM

Zaiden was in shock and couldn’t argue back. He drove home still trying to figure out what just happened.

1:33 Happy Birthday To You

03-14-18_5-18-23 PM

Izaiah looked at his son and sighed. It was his birthday, and Izaiah could not believe how much the boy had grown. He was 16 years old now. A high school student. He sure hoped that time would go slower for the girls. He was not ready for them to grow up yet.

03-14-18_5-18-31 PM

“Dad, can I invite a few friends over for a small party.”

“Only a few. I don’t want a lot of kids here.””

“Just the usual group. I promise.

Izaiah was alright with that. Zaiden had a good group of friends.

03-14-18_5-18-41 PM

“There is something we need to talk about first though.” Izaiah knew it was time for this chat with Zaiden. He had been expecting it for awhile now, but was not looking forward to it. “I know you’ve been dating Anne for a few months now.”

Zaiden covered his face. “Are you really wanting to have THAT talk?”

“Set down, Zaiden.”

03-14-18_5-20-42 PM

Zaiden went along with what his father asked, even though he really did not need to have this talk.

“We can start by you telling me what you already know.”

“Dad, they have this class at school. I learned all about sex two years ago.”

03-14-18_5-21-07 PM

“Two years ago you did not have a girlfriend. Things are different now.”

“I’m pretty sure things are still done the same way, Dad.”

“That’s what I mean, Zaiden. I want you to know that I trust you to make the right decisions. I was your age once also. I was dating your mother then. I know the feelings you may be having when you are with Anne. I understand.”

03-14-18_5-22-05 PM

“Dad! I really do not want to hear about you and Mom. Not your sex life at least. That’s just…eww.”

Zaiden couldn’t help but laugh a little at that. “I just want to make sure that you are staying safe. I can’t stop you from having sex, but I do want to know that you are protecting yourself and your partner.”

03-14-18_5-23-10 PM

Zaiden understood where his father was coming from with all of this talk now. “Dad, I promise that Anne and I are not having sex. If it gets to that point, I will make sure we use protection. I know the risks of unprotected sex.”

Izaiah was happy to hear that.

“Dad, if it will ease you mind any, I have heard of something called Vasalgel. I would be willing to try it.”

That was something that Izaiah had never heard of before. “I will do some research on it and see what it is about, then we can talk about it again and make a decision.”

Zaiden nodded and stood up. “I’m going to Skype the gang and invite them to come over.”

03-14-18_5-19-43 PM

Izaiah nodded and got up. “Your brother should be here in a few minutes. You don’t need to send him the message. He called this morning.”

03-14-18_5-56-16 PM

Izaiah was happy to see Zander. Only seeing him on the weekends really sucked.

He let the boy get changed for swimming then sat and talked to him a bit to catch up on his week.

03-14-18_5-55-22 PM

Zaiden found Anne on the basketball court and smiled.

“Hi, Beautiful.”

She blushed but kissed his cheek. “Happy Birthday, Zaiden.”

“It is a very happy one now that you are here.”

03-14-18_5-54-53 PM

“You are such a big flirt.” She giggled and pulled her hands away from him. “Where is everybody?”

“Liberty is grounded and can’t come. The twins are upstairs in the pool. Zander is changing then will be joining us.”

“I’m going to change, then I’ll be up. You go up and keep the twins company.”

03-14-18_5-51-21 PM03-14-18_5-51-00 PM

The one thing that Zaiden will remember about his sixteenth birthday was hanging out with his best friends. He hoped that the gang would always stay close like this.

1:32 Supermarket Flowers

03-12-18_7-00-27 PM

Izaiah was helping Zaiden and Emma with a school project when his brother called.

“Are you with anybody right now?”

“Just the kids. We are building a volcano.”

03-12-18_7-11-04 PM

“Diana is on her way to your hosue. I am leaving here now and will probably get there about the same time. Send the kids to their rooms or something when we get there.”

“Okay. I can do that. Do you mind cluing me in on why you both are coming over? Did I forget my birthday again?”

“We’ll talk when I get there.” Collin hung up before Izaiah could question him more.

03-12-18_7-11-35 PM

Izaiah looked at the kids. “Your Uncle Collin and Aunt Diana are coming over for a bit. I need you all to be in your rooms playing. Zaiden, you may play in the girls’ room with them if you want.”

Zaiden shook his head. “I have a book report due Friday. I am almost finished with the book. I bet I could finish it tonight.”

Izaiah nodded then looked at the girls. “Emma, could you please keep Hope in your room for me? I will give her a bath after your aunt and uncle leave.”

Emma nodded. “Okay, Daddy. We will play with the doll house.”

Izaiah smiled at the kids. They were all great kids.

03-12-18_8-14-21 PM

Once Collin and Diana arrived, Izaiah let them inside. Nelson had driven his father over, but was not staying.

“Let’s go set down somewhere. Someplace where the kids won’t be able to listen.”

Izaiah was really curious what this was about. Collin wasn’t acting like his normal self and that was worrying Izaiah a bit.

03-12-18_8-24-40 PM

“We can go upstairs to the family room. The kids are in their rooms right now. They won’t be able to hear anything up there.”

Izaiah led his brother and sister upstairs. “Make yourselves comfortable.”

03-12-18_8-25-56 PM

Once they were all seated on the sofa, Collin let them know why he wanted to talk to them both.

“We lost Mom today.”

Izaiah wasn’t sure he had heard correctly. Diana was surprised.

“She laid down for a nap and never woke up.”

Of all of the things that Izaiah had expected Collin to want to talk about, the death of their mother was not on the list.

When they got word that their father had died in prison, Izaiah felt almost nothing. After what that bastard had done to Colleen, Izaiah had lost all love for the man.

His mother…his feelings for his mother were strong. He loved her, and now Collin was telling them that she was gone.

03-12-18_8-26-27 PM

“Are you alright, Izaiah?”

For the first time in their lives, Collin was showing concern for Izaiah. He knew that his brother had recently had another loss in his life with Erika and the twins deaths, and with Callie leaving with Zander. He was actually worried about his brother.

Izaiah nodded even though he wasn’t sure if he would ever truly be alright again.

1:31 Achy Breaky Heart

Callie left. She took Zander with her. She hasn’t asked for a divorce which is good. She just says that she wants to think about everything then decide what she wants to do.

Izaiah was left to care for three kids by himself. He was managing the best that he was able, but he would be the first to admit that it was not easy.

Emma and Hope both missed their mother. It tore Izaiah up to see his girls always looking so sad.

Zaiden missed Callie and Zander. The boys had grown close and now that they were separated, it was hard for them both.

Callie had promised to let Zander spend the weekends. It would give him time with his brother and sisters.

Zaiden was spending most of his time in his bedroom. One of the cats was usually in there with him. The girls’ cat really seemed to enjoy hanging out in Zaiden’s bedroom with him.

Hope has been spending most of her time on the balcony. She seemed to occupy her time with the toddler tunnel that the boys never showed any interest in. It was about time someone used the damn thing.

All of this seemed to hit Emma the hardest. She wandered around the loft crying and sad all of the time. Being older than Hope, she had more memories of her mother so was taking losing her harder than the toddler was.

Thankfully, Zaiden was willing to talk to Emma and support her. He was even able to get a few goofy moments out of her which was great. It showed that the silly little girl that Izaiah loved and missed was still around somewhere. He just hoped that she would be back soon.

1:30 Dirty Dawg

03-06-18_5-41-02 PM

“I know your secret.”

Izaiah knew this guy. He was one of the neighbors in a downstairs apartment. He knew he had also seen him in Newcrest several times. SHIT! That means, he could very well know.

He took off without telling Callie he was leaving. He had a problem that he needed to find a way to fix and fast. I big problem if anybody else ever found out about it. He could lose everything. EVERYTHING!

03-11-18_10-42-22 AM

He hurried to the house and was happy to see that things were normal there. Nothing seemed out of place. Nothing looked broken or like someone had been angry and threw things. That did help relieve some of his anxiety.

He went into the bedroom and found Erika sleeping. He climbed in beside her so he wouldn’t disturb her. It didn’t work.

03-11-18_10-57-20 AM

She woke up and smiled when she saw he was there. “You are home. I wasn’t expecting you back from your trip until tomorrow.”

He watched her get out of the bed and he followed. He made the bed so she wouldn’t have to. He knew it was getting to be more of a chore for her lately.

03-11-18_10-58-25 AM

“Your texts worried me. You said you weren’t feeling very well. With the problems you had before, I worried. Especially since these two are so close now.”

He put his hands on her stomach and frowned. “They are pretty still.”

“They are probably sleeping right now. They need to save all their energy for their big day.”

03-11-18_10-58-58 AM

He softly caressed her cheek. “I don’t know what I would do without you.”

“You would work and never have any joy in your life.”

He smiled and kissed her cheek. “You are probably right, my dear.”

“Go see the girls. They have been missing you.”

03-11-18_11-01-36 AM

Hope ran into the room as he was walking out of it. He grinned and scooped her up for a big kiss before putting her back down.

He found Emma setting on the sofa watching some cartoon. “Hi, Princess.”

“Daddy! You are home!” Emma tackled him in a big hug just as they heard a yell from the bedroom that had sent Hope running out of the room.

03-11-18_11-03-39 AM

“Daddy! Mommy! Babies! Help!”

Izaiah untangled himself from Emma and ran to the bedroom. He saw Erika holding her stomach and could see the pain on her face.

He rushed to her side and helped her up. “Let’s get you to the hospital. We’ll drop the girls off at the neighbors on the way.”

03-11-18_11-09-51 AM

Once at the hospital, Izaiah rushed inside to get someone to help Erika. She waited outside for them to bring the wheelchair out to her. She was in too much pain to walk to the door herself.

03-11-18_11-13-50 AM

Once inside, Erika was taken to a room. Izaiah was told to wait until they had her settled then he could go in. He kept looking at his watch wondering why it was taking so long. Finally he saw the doctor come out looking for him.

“Mr. Maynard?”

He jumped up ready to go be with Erika while she brought their babies into the world.

“Mr. Maynard, I’m very sorry. Your daughters did not make it. There were some complications during delivery. We did everything we could to save them.”

Izaiah felt his stomach hit the ground. “And my wife? Can I see her?”

The doctor looked down at the ground. “I’m sorry, Mr. Maynard. Your wife did not make it.”

03-11-18_11-28-51 AM

Izaiah left the hospital in shock. Erika and their two little girls were gone.

He thought of the two young girls at home who now had no mother. He wasn’t going to leave them without their father.

03-11-18_12-12-02 PM

Now he had to figure out how to explain all of this to Callie.