Josiah's Boys

Chapter Seven: Home is Where the Heart Is

by Freespirit


The Halloween party was a success. Jim Heckart told me his girls are not allowed to date until they're sixteen.
Buck's birthday is the first of November. So we'll have cake and ice cream like we did for Ezra's last month.
Still no word from Maude. That has me concerned. I know she knows where Ezra is. What I want to know is, why hasn't she contacted me or even Ezra? Ezra has been in my care for nearly four months now.
Other than the usual, nothing has happened.

Josiah sent his report off to Nettie. Josiah sighed. It had been six months since Nathan came to live with him. Five months for Buck and Chris. Four, for Ezra, Vin and JD. Josiah shook his head, grabbed his coffee mug and left his office. He rinsed out his mug and sat in the sink then turned to head into his bedroom but was caught off guard when he saw Nathan standing at the bottom of the stairs.

"You're supposed to be in bed."

"I know, but Ezra woke me. He's having another nightmare."

Josiah nodded, then followed Nathan back upstairs. As before, Vin and JD were outside their rooms when Josiah came up the stairs

Josiah looked to the two boys. "Go back to bed. I'll take care of Ez."

Vin yawned and nodded before he went back inside his room. JD just sighed as he closed the door and went back to bed. Josiah quietly opened the door to Ezra's room. He let his eyes become used to the darkness then went over to Ezra's bed. Ezra was thrashing like he was trying to get away from someone or something. Josiah gently shook Ezra awake. Josiah was prepared for what came next. Ezra woke with a start and swung his right fist and connected with Josiah's nose. Ezra hit him hard enough to make Josiah's nose bleed. He didn't break it. Josiah barely ducked the next swing.

"Ezra! It's me, Josiah," Josiah said, holding his nose with one hand while trying to wake up Ezra with the other.

Ezra looked at Josiah with what Josiah could only think was the fear of God in Ezra's eyes. "Josiah?" Ezra whispered.

"Yes, it's me. Josiah." Josiah breathed a sigh of relief.

Ezra squinted up at Josiah. "You nose is bleeding."

Josiah smiled. "Yes, yes it is. Mind telling me what you were dreaming of?"

Ezra sat up in bed. "I would rather not."

Josiah sighed. "Okay. I'm not going to push you, but if you ever want to talk about them, I'm here for you."

Ezra nodded. "Thank you."

Josiah patted Ezra on the shoulder then stood and left, shutting the door behind him.

Ezra flopped back down onto the mattress and sighed before the tears he knew he would be shedding soon as the memory of the torment of the upper classmen from the St. Matthew School for Boys in Virginia. His step-father's (at the time) Alma Mater. Maybe the man still is, for all he knew.

+ + + + + + +

Josiah made his way to the bathroom down stairs, pinching the nostrils of his nose closed. Josiah grabbed a wash cloth from the linen closet, wet it under the bathroom sink faucet and cleaned up his face and hands. He then took the hand towel that was hanging on the towel rack next to the sink. When he was finished, he looked at himself in the medicine cabinet's mirror and sighed at his reflection. His nose didn't look too bad.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra sat next to Abby as he had every morning since he'd met her.

Abby looked over at Ezra. "You look tired, Ez. Had a rough night?"

Ezra nodded. "I had another bad dream last night."

Abby sighed. "You have got to tell Josiah. I'm sure whatever they're about, he can help."

"I know he is concerned, but it's my problem," Ezra sighed. He was just too tired to argue with Abby.

Abby told Ezra to take a cat nap and she would wake him when they got to school. Ezra didn't think he could with all the noise that is on the bus. He was surprised when Abby woke him.

"Maybe you should go home, Ez. You’re not going to be able to do a thing in your classes," Abby told him.

"Maybe you're right. I'll go and see Josiah and perhaps he could take me home," Ezra said through a yawn.

"I'll call you tonight," Abby smiled.

Ezra smiled. "I will be looking forward to it."

Ezra made his way to Josiah's office.

+ + + + + + +

Josiah arrived at the school at a quarter to eight. He said good morning to Velma when he entered the outer office where the reception area was, then headed for his office. Josiah unlocked his office door. He no sooner entered the office, the phone rang. He sat his brief case down beside his desk and picked up the phone.

"Josiah Sanchez," he answered. “Donald Kingston ? The name sounds familiar, but I can't put a face to it...Sure, put him through," Josiah told Velma.

"Mr. Sanchez?"

"Yes. Do I know you?" Josiah said as he sat down in his chair.

"No, we have never met. I have been told that, Bucklin Wilmington, is in your care?"

"Yes he is," Josiah answered. Then it occurred to him where he knew the name from. "You are not to go anywhere near him, or call him. I don't want you to have anything to with him. You hear me, Kingston? No contact what so ever. None!" Josiah yelled then hung up the phone.

Ezra was about to knock on the door when he heard Josiah yell at someone on the phone and then slammed the phone down. Ezra sighed, turned around and went to home room.

Josiah phoned Judge Orin Travis. "Orin, we need to talk," Josiah said when Judge Travis answered his phone. "Nettie needs to be in on this chat as well. It concerns Buck, and Mr. Kingston."

"Damn. I'll inform Nettie. You need to tell Buck."

"I'm going to pull him out of class and have a talk with him. I can't believe Kingston had the gall to call here."

"He called you?"

"Yeah, Orin, he did. Why is it I get the feeling you know something I don't?" Josiah asked.

Orin sighed. "He's been asking around town about Buck."

Josiah couldn't believe what he was hearing. "You knew he's been in town and hadn't informed me of this? How long has he been in town?"

"Kingston was told he was not to go near Buck. As for how long he's been in town, he got here three nights ago. He said he only wants to talk with him. To tell Buck he didn't kill his mother. But he may know who did. He won't tell me until he talks to Buck."

Josiah was seeing red. "Why wasn't I told he was in town? I had the right to know Orin. You should have told me. Now I have to tell Buck that the man is not only in town, but has requested a meeting with him."

"I'm sorry, Josiah. I wanted to handle it myself. You have your hands full with Maude and the situation there. And before you ask, no, I have no idea where she is."

"I'll let you go so I can get Buck out of class."

"I'll see you in a little bit."

Josiah hung up the phone, then asked Velma to have Buck come to his office.

Five minutes later, Buck was knocking on Josiah's office door. "Come in Buck." Buck entered. Josiah sighed. "Have a seat. I have something I need to tell you."

Buck cautiously sat down in one of two chairs in front of Josiah's desk. "I'm not going to like it, am I?"

Josiah sighed. "Afraid not, Son." Josiah looked Buck in the eye. "Donald Kingston is in town and he wants to see you and to talk."

"What? I'm not sure, but I thought I heard you say Kingston was in town. He's supposed to be in prison for the murder of my mother," Buck said, confused.

Josiah shook his head. "I didn't want to have to tell you this, but he was let go because he was forced, at gun point, into confessing."

Buck hung his head. Buck had unshed tears when he lifted his head and looked at Josiah. "I messed up didn't I?"

It was Josiah turn to look confused. "How did you mess up?"

"By not letting the law handle things. I was so angry, I jumped to a conclusion when I seen Kingston leave my mom's work place. I didn't see him kill her. Mom and Don had a really big fight the night before mom was killed. I thought he loved my mom ‘cause he asked her to marry him." Buck shrugged his shoulders. "A part of me still thinks he did it, but another part's not so sure."

"Maybe you should sit down and talk to him. Tell him why you thought it was him." Josiah was sure when he told Buck about Kingston, Buck would go off halfcocked and do something stupid. "Judge Travis is willing to set up a meeting between the two of you in his office with Nettie and myself there if you want to."

Buck nodded his head. "Yeah. I'd like that. Thanks."

"I'll call Orin back and let him set it up. You can go back to class and I'll let you know what time it will be."

Buck got up and hobbled out of the office and back to class. Josiah called Orin and told him Buck was willing to meet with Kingston. Orin told Josiah Nettie could be there any time after two thirty. Josiah said two thirty would be fine. Buck would just have to skip Job Corps today. After hanging up with Orin, Josiah sent a note to Buck.

+ + + + + + +

Two o-clock rolled around, Josiah and Buck left to go to their meeting with Kingston. Neither one of them noticed the black Lincoln in the parking lot.

Josiah and Buck arrived early. Donald Kingston was waiting outside of Judge Travis's office when Josiah and Buck entered the building. Buck stiffened when he saw Kingston. Kingston looked to his left, then stood to face the two men coming toward him. Kingston was as tall as Josiah with a few more pounds on him. Josiah could tell the man worked out. Kingston's medium brown hair had some grey and his brown eyes were not as dark as they use to be, Buck noticed, but all in all, the man didn't look much different from when he held a gun to the man and forced him to confess to killing his mom.

"You must be Josiah Sanchez. I'm Donald Kingston." Kingston stuck his hand out for Josiah to shake.

"I am." Josiah shook the man's hand.

Kingston looked at Buck and took in the fact that Buck was on crutches. "What happened to you, Buck?"

Buck shrugged his shoulders. "Football. So, what have you been doing?"

Kingston looked Buck straight in the eye. "Trying to clear my name and find the SOB who set me up." Kingston held up his hand. "Before you say anything, I don't blame you for what happened. Hell, Kid, if I were in your shoes, I would have blown my head off instead of making me confess."

Buck smiled. "I thought about it."

"What stopped you?" Kingston asked. He really wanted to know.

Buck thought about it. "Honestly, I don't know."

Nettie Wells chose that moment to appear. "I see there isn't any blood on the floor. Shall we go in?"

"Don, this is my case worker, Nettie Wells. I wanted her here to, just in case."

Don smiled at the woman. "Don Kingston, nice to meet you."

The three of them entered Judge Travis's office. Buck introduced Don to the Judge. They all sat down and talked things out.

+ + + + + + +

"I can't believe my grade," Abby said, excitedly.

Ezra laughed. "I can. If it's anything like the story you told on the bus last week. You deserved that A+."

"I don't think that Royal boy agrees with that. Did you see the look he gave me?"

Ezra nodded his head. "Unfortunately, yes I did."

"We had better hurry or we'll miss the bus and have to wait for Josiah or Chris."

Abby and Ezra rush through the front doors and head for the buses. About half way there, a man stepped in their way and Abby doesn't have time to stop so she ran right into him.

"Sorry Mister, I didn't mean..."

They shoved Abby which made her stumble backwards and fall and land on her butt. When she fell, she had her hands out behind her to help break her fall.

"Hey! That was not called for. She apologized," Ezra said as he bent down to help Abby up.

The man reached down and grabbed Ezra by the arm and jerked him back and started to drag Ezra with him. "Let go of my arm."

"You are coming with me," the man said.

Ezra dug his heals in and fought to free his arm. "No I am not. Now unhand me this instant."

Abby stood up and went to help Ezra. From out of nowhere, a second man had taken Abby and pushed her to the side. This time she was pushed hard enough that she fell against the brick wall of the building. She got up and started yelling for help and pointed to the two men and Ezra.

Nathan was on the bus when he heard someone yell for help and kidnappers. He was shocked to see it was Ezra who was being kidnapped. Nathan ran after the men who had Ezra. One man had Ezra's legs and the other had Ezra by his under arms and the two men were headed to the Lincoln that now was pulling up behind the buses. Nathan took out his cell phone and started snapping pictures of the two men kidnapping Ezra and of the Lincoln. When the Lincoln drove around the buses, Nathan took a snap shot of the license plate. And he wasn't the only one taking pictures with his cell phone. Nathan ran to Abby as he dialed Josiah's cell.

+ + + + + + +

Josiah smiled, he liked Don. Don told Judge Travis and Josiah what he had found out. Buck agreed with Don, about how bad his mom's boss's temper was. There were a few times Buck wanted to hit the man but his mom told him violence was not the answer.

When Josiah's phone rang, he looked to see who it was.

"Who is it, Josiah?" Buck asked.

"Nathan. He probably wants to know what time we'll be done here."

Buck nodded then looked to Don when Josiah answered the phone.

"Hey Nathan. We won’t be much..."

"Ezra has been kidnapped!" Nathan interrupted.

It was a good thing Josiah was already sitting down. "When?' Josiah asked, shaking.

Nettie noticed Josiah turn white as a ghost. "Josiah?"

Buck turned back to see Josiah shaking. "What's wrong, Josiah?" Buck asked, alarmed.

Josiah heard Nathan tell him tem minutes ago and the police have been notified. He looked up into Buck's worried face. "Ezra was kidnapped ten minutes ago from in front of the high school."

"That...that can't be! Who would do that! We have to get back there," Buck said, shocked.

"I'll take the two of you to the high school and arrange to have JD and Vin taken to the high school," Nettie said as she dialed the Jr. High school.

Buck took his cell and speed dialed Chris. The call went directly to voice mail. He then called the store. He knew Chris's boss didn't like the employees receive personal phone calls at work, but this was an emergency. He was sure if he explained to the man, he would let him talk to Chris.

"Mr. Baker, this is Buck," Buck said when the man answered the phone. "I need to talk to Chris. Yes it is or I wouldn't have called. Thank you," Buck said as he and Josiah followed Nettie out to her car.

Ten minutes later, Chris was on the line. "What's up Buck?"

Buck took a deep breath and let it out. "Ezra has been kidnapped. Josiah and me are on our way back to the school with Nettie Wells."

"I'm on my way," Chris said then hung up the phone.

"What's wrong, Chris?" Mr. Baker asked, concerned.

"My brother, Ezra, was kidnapped from the high school

"Oh Lord. Just go and be with your family. I'll punch you out."

"Thanks Mr. Baker." Chris ran out the back door to his Ford Ranger and left the parking lot squealing tires on his way out.

+ + + + + + +

Principal Stockman called Abby's father and told him what happened and that Abby needed him.

By the time Josiah, Buck, Chris, Vin, JD and Nettie had gotten to the school, the cops were already there. Nathan was sitting with Abby when they all got there. Abby had drawn the two men's pictures and was showing them to the cops. The snapshots Nathan got were a bit fuzzy and of the two men's side and too far for the police to make out who they were. The license plate came out pretty clear, so they had that they could use. Abby knew what the two men looked like since they shoved and pushed her down and was able to give the police detailed drawings of them. She told them she didn't see who was driving but she heard the woman tell the men to hurry it up and she had the same accent as Ezra.

Josiah sat down next to Abby. "Are you sure, Abby?"

"Yes, Mr. Sanchez," Abby answered. "I tried to stop them, I swear I did."

"She did too, Josiah," Nathan confirmed.

Josiah looked down at Abby's hands and noticed they were scraped up. "Did the kidnappers do this to you?"

Abby nodded. "Yeah, when the first man shoved me out of the way to grab Ezra." She then lifted her shirt just enough to show Josiah the scrap on her right side. "This happened when the other pulled me away from the first man and pushed hard and I fell against the school building."

Buck knelt down in front of her. "Thank you for trying to stop them."

"That looks like it really hurts," Chris stated.

Abby nodded. "Yeah, it does." She then looked up at Chris. "And I would do it again, in a heartbeat."

Jim Heckart entered the school and found his daughter.

Nettie tapped Josiah on the shoulder to let him know Jim was there. Josiah looked over his shoulder and saw Jim heading their way. Nathan stood up so Jim could sit next to his daughter. Buck stood and stepped back.

"You have a brave girl, Mr. Heckart," the female Officer told him.

"Brave?" Jim asked, confused. Then looked to Abby. "What did you do, Sweetheart?"

"I tried to stop the two men from taking Ezra. What else was I supposed to do? He's my best friend, Dad. I couldn't just let them take him, could I?"

Jim smiled and rubbed her back. "No, you couldn’t. I would have done the same thing."

Nettie took the female officer to the side. "What exactly is being done to get the boy back?"

The Officer knew who Nettie was. "Well, thanks to the drawings from the young lady, we were able to get the two men’s pictures out on the wire for other law enforcement agencies to keep a look out for them and we put an APB out on the black Lincoln. From what Miss Heckart told us of the female driver, we're assuming the mother is involved so we have added a photograph of her to the search. Other than that, there isn't much more we can do."

"Thanks Linda. Please keep me in formed."

"Sure thing, Nettie." Linda looked over at Abby. "She's lucky she didn't get more hurt then she did."

Nettie nodded in agreement.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra shoved into the back seat of the black Lincoln. He tried to open the back door but it was locked. He then kicked the man the slid in beside him and got the man in the ribs. The man grabbed his legs and told Ezra if he ever kicked him again, he would brake Ezra's legs. The other man slid into the passenger seat in the front. The driver took off just as the man was closing the door.

"Stop this car and let me out," Ezra demanded. "If you do not, my foster dad knows a Judge and he can have you arrested."

"I do not think so, Ezra. I'm your mother and I have every right to take you," Maude said.

Ezra glared at the back of Maude's head. "Be that as it may, Mother. Josiah will come after you. And I dare say, Chris and Buck will be with him."

Maude sighed. "I do not know these people, therefore, I don't care who they are. You are my son."

"Then why did you leave me with Uncle Philip? Do you know what he did to me? Do you even care?" Ezra asked, angrily. "Stop this car, Mother! NOW!"

The man sitting next to Ezra back-handed him. "You don't speak to your Mother like that."

Ezra glared at the man as he rubbed his cheek where the man hit him. "Go to hell."

"Ezra, Darling, please reframe from using such language."

Ezra didn't say a word to any of them, just glared out the window, Just wait, Mother, I will run away from you and go back home. Ezra thought to himself.

Maude drove to a restaurant that looked like it had decent food. Ezra looked up to see where they were to have dinner and smiled. The Triple D. Ezra looked to the employee parking, hoping to see a familiar car. The car was there.

Maude looked to the two men. "My son is not to be left alone. Not even if he says he needs to use the facilities. Understand?" Both men nodded their understanding. "Good, now let’s go eat, I'm famished."

Ezra was already thinking on how to get Kathy, (a waitress that he and the others know quite well), to call Josiah and let him know where he is. The problem would be the two body guards. He had to shake them long enough to get a note to Kathy. They walked into the Triple D. Maude ordered four buffets then found a seat in the non-smoking area.

"We have two hours before our plane leaves," Maude stated. "We'll have a..."

"Plane? Where are you taking me, Maude?" Ezra interrupted.

"Ezra, that was very rude to interrupt me. You were not raised to be rude. Now go and fetch your food."

"Where are you taking me, Mother? Virginia? To that Boys School? I still have nightmares about that place."

Maude looked around the restaurant. "Lower your voice. You're making a scene."

"Oh, oh, this isn't a scene, yet. I can make one, if you wish."

The man  that sat in back with Ezra grabbed Ezra's arm and spun him around to face him. "Listen hear you little shit, you will do as you are told. I'm not about to put up with a spoiled brat like you."

Ezra glared at the man. When the man moved to the side to take him to the buffet tables, Ezra caught the sight of one of Monty St. Clare's business partners. The man smiled over his shoulder at Ezra then held up his cell phone. Ezra sighed with relief.

Chris's cell phone rang. He looked down to see who it was and sighed. "Hey Charlie. I can't talk..."

"Do you know where your brother, Ezra, is?"

"No, why do you ask?" Chris was more than a little puzzled about the question.

"Because I do."

A dumbfounded and confused Chris turned to Josiah and the others. "You do? Where?"

"The Triple D. Ezra's making a fuss about having to take a plane to Virginia."

"Damn. The Triple D?"

"Yep. Monty, Ted and I are almost done with our dinner, but if you need us to stick around and delay them until you all get here, I'm sure we could do that."

"That would be great. Thanks."

"No problem. Maybe later you can tell me why Ezra had to have two mean looking body guards following him around and who is the woman who's calling the shots."

"Count on it." Chris hung up the phone and smiled.

"What was that all about?" Vin asked.

Chris smiled at the group. "We got our miracle. Maude does have him. She stopped for dinner at the Triple D. Charlie, Ted and Monty are there. Charlie said they would delay them till we get there. Maude was taking him back to Virginia."

The FBI Agent looked to Josiah. "You must have a guardian angel or something. I'll have a car there in less than ten minutes."

Josiah nodded. "Tell your man we'll meet him there."

The FBI guy waved him off as he spoke into his cell to send a car to the Triple D.

Chris and Buck climbed into Chris's Ford Ranger. The others climbed into Nettie's car. She dropped them off at Judge Travis's so they could get the bus. Chris and Buck didn't wait for the others to catch up to them.

+ + + + + + +

Monty St. Clare left the rest room and headed for his table. On his way back he noticed Ezra.

"Hey there, Ez. Where are the others?" Monty asked, looking around.

The man standing next to Ezra put his plate down and whirled around to face Monty. "You know this young man?"

"Yeah, him and his brothers take care of my partner's and my horses out at their farm. What’s it to you?"

Ezra hung his head and felt like crying.

Maude came up to them. "Grab my son, we're leaving."

Charlie and Ted got up to intervene but Monty stepped up in front of the man who grabbed Ezra and held out his hand to stop them. The other man came up and turned Monty toward him and slugged him across the chin, sending him to the floor. Kathy had her cell phone out and dialing 911. Maude saw her do it, but before Kathy could say a word, Maude took it, threw it down on the floor and stomped it to pieces. Monty made to get up, but the man that hit him, hit him again, harder this time. He then followed Maude and the other man who was carrying a screaming and kicking Ezra.

The man had to set Ezra down on his feet to open the back door. Ezra took this moment to do a round house like Vin showed him. Ezra's right foot connected with the side of the man's face and sent him reeling to the pavement. Ezra then started to run but he only made it to the end of the parking lot before he was tackled by the other man. Ezra rolled onto his back and kick up into the man’s groin.

The first man was on him. He grabbed Ezra by the shirt and hauled Ezra to his feet. "Where do you think you're going?"

"HOME!"

The man picked Ezra up and threw him over his shoulder and stalked back to the Lincoln. He tossed Ezra in the back as he heard sirens heading in their direction. Maude sat in back with Ezra. The two men got in the front and drove off in the opposite direction of the sirens.

"Get us to the airport. We can get lost in the crowd," Maude told the driver.

"Yes Ma'am."

"I don't want to go to Virginia, Mother. Please, let me stay with Josiah and my brothers."

Maude sighed. "Ezra, Darling, you have no brothers."

"Not of blood, Mother. But in my heart, I have five of them. They are Chris, he's the oldest, then there's Buck, Nathan, Vin and JD, he's the youngest. I have a life with them and Josiah. Josiah's been more of a parent then you'll ever be. I want to be with them, not you."

Maude glared at her son. "You don't always get what you want, Ezra. So just sit there and behave like a fourteen your old young man should, not some child," Maude sighed. "You are giving me a headache."

+ + + + + + +

Charlie called Chris and told him what happened. Chris asked if Monty was okay. Charlie told him he was. He'd have a sore jaw for a few days but other than that he would be fine. Chris thanked Charlie for trying.

"I'm going straight to the airport," Chris said to Buck.

"Heading them off at the pass are we?" Buck smiled.

"Damn straight."

"I'll call Josiah and let him know."

Four Corners had a modest size airport. Nothing like the big cities. It was big enough for small jets like commuters. Still, it did have a few gates.

The gas gauge read empty, so Chris stopped to get gas. Buck went inside to pay for the gas and to get some sodas for him, Chris and Ezra. Buck knew in his heart, that he and Chris were not going to let Maude take Ezra to Virginia. They were going to get their brother back come hell or high waters.

Chris just put the pump back and was screwing the gas cap back in when Buck came out of the store, just as the black Lincoln past the gas station.

Buck looked up to see the Lincoln pass them. He saw Ezra pop his head up in the back window to see them. "CHRIS! THERE THEY GO!" Buck yelled and hobbled as fast as he could go to the Ranger.

Chris looked over to the highway and then jumped into the Ranger with Buck. He started the Ranger and tore out of there like the devil was after him.

There were two cars between Chris and the Lincoln. Chris and Buck couldn't see what was going on inside the Lincoln, but by the way the car was acting, something or someone was distracting the driver. Then all of a sudden the cars in front of them were swerving and hitting their brakes.

Buck looked out his side window and turned white as a ghost. "Oh my God, Chris, stop! It's Ezra!"

Chris slammed on the brakes, and shoved the Ranger into park. Buck was already halfway out of the Ranger by the time Chris put the Ranger into park. Chris ran over to where Ezra was lying on the side of the highway. Buck hobbled over and dialing Josiah as he went. Both teens ignored the horn blowing by the other drivers passing them.

Nathan answered Josiah's phone. "What now, Buck?"

Buck was standing over an unconscious Ezra. "Chris and I have Ezra."

"Yes! They have Ezra," Nathan said to everyone in the bus.

Buck could hear the others in the back ground cheering. Buck didn't want to tell them the next part.

Chris felt for a pulse and was relieved to find one. He then tried to get Ezra to respond, but with no success. Ezra's head rolled to the side. It was then, Chris noticed the blood and looked up into Buck's worried face. "We need an ambulance."

Nathan thought he heard Chris say they needed an ambulance. "Hey, guys, quiet down. I can't hear what's going on," Nathan told the others. "Buck? Did I hear Chris ask for an ambulance?"

"Yes, Nate you did. Ezra was thrown from a moving car. He's not responding to Chris or me. Chris felt a pulse, so he's alive but he's bleeding from his head."

"We'll meet you at the hospital," Nathan said, then hung up. "Josiah?"

"The hospital," Josiah said, then turned the bus toward the hospital.

Nathan told them what happened.

Buck called 911 and requested an ambulance and was informed a motorist had called it in and one was on the way. He was also told not to move their brother. Buck told the lady they hadn't.

It took ten minutes for the ambulance to get there. To Buck and Chris it felt more like an hour. They watched the EMT's take vitals and hook up IV's. They placed a neck brace on Ezra's neck then placed him on a back board. Chris and Buck went to the Ranger when they were loading Ezra into the ambulance and followed the ambulance to the hospital where Josiah, Nathan, Vin and JD were waiting. Josiah had called Nettie and the Heckarts. Jim told Josiah Abby wanted to come and be there to. Josiah said it was getting late, he would leave it up to Jim. Jim said it might better if she could be there in the morning. Josiah said that was fine.

Dr. Parker was at the hospital when the ambulance came in. She was surprised to see it was Ezra. "Is his family here?" She asked a nurse.

"Yes. They're in the waiting room."

"I'll take him in exam room four," Madison said then led the way to the room.

A couple of hours later, Madison entered the waiting room. "Josiah?"

Josiah stood when he heard his name. "Madison? How is he?"

Madison shook her head and indicated for Josiah to sit. "Ezra has three broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder, and a cracked collar bone. It's his head injury that has me the most concerned. He has a severe concussion. He hasn't woken yet from the accident. The x-rays show no fracture to his skull, so we have that going for us. He'll be in ICU. I'll have a nurse come and tell you when you can go up to see him."

"Thanks Madison," Josiah said.

Madison stood and left. Chris followed her. "Dr. Parker?"

Madison turned toward Chris. "Yes?"

"Um, I know it's not allowed, but could you arrange it so I could stay the night in Ezra's room?" Chris asked.

Madison smiled. "I'll see what I can do. You do understand, he may not wake up."

Chris nodded his head. Chris watched Madison turn back and walk to the nurse’s station. Chris sighed, 'That's what I'm afraid of' Chris thought to himself before he turned and joined the rest of his family in the waiting room.

About thirty minutes later, a nurse came and told them they could go up and see Ezra. Vin and JD were the first two to go and see Ezra. While they were seeing him, a nurse came and told Chris that it was okay for him to stay as long as he didn't disturb any of the other patients.

"What was that about?" Buck asked.

"I asked Dr. Parker to okay it for me to stay the night here in Ezra's room. I wanted one of us to be there in case he wakes up during the night."

Josiah nodded. "Good idea."

After Vin and JD, Buck and Nathan went in. Then Josiah and Chris.

Josiah went to the head of the bed and brushed a stray lock of hair from Ezra's eyes. "You need a haircut, son. We'll get that done when you come home. Abby'll be here in the morning."

Chris sat in one of the two chairs that were in the room and listened to Josiah talk to Ezra like he would open his eyes and answer him. After Josiah left, Chris moved his chair closer to the side of the bed.

"Hey, I'm staying right here, Ez. You have a good friend in Abby."

Madison checked on Ezra one last time. Chris looked over at her when she was writing something in Ezra chart and smiled. "Congratulations."

Madison looked down at her left ring finger then down at Chris. "Thank you."

"The Detective?"

Madison smiled. "Yes."

"Have you set a date?"

"Not yet. I'll have a nurse bring you a blanket and pillow. You do know that gerry chair reclines?" Madison indicated the chair in the corner.

"If I didn't before, I do now."

Madison patted Chris's shoulder. "I'll see you in the morning."

+ + + + + + +

Vin, JD, Nathan and Buck were excused from school as was Chris. Ezra had not woken up during the night. It was around ten o-clock in the morning when Jim Heckart and Abby showed up. Buck took Abby into see Ezra.

Jim sat down next to Josiah. "Sorry for getting here so late. We got a phone call early this morning, like at two in the morning. The police had Maude and those two men in jail and wanted Abby to come down and identify them. I told the officer they had Abby's drawings of the guys. Abby over heard me tell the officer this," Jim sighed and looked at Josiah. "Abby said she had to go and do it. Ezra's her best friend. Then she said the one thing I couldn't argue her about."

"What was that?" Josiah asked.

"She said, if it was me who got kidnapped, wouldn't you want the person who saw it to go and identify the person or people who took me?" Jim shook his head. "I'd like to know where she gets her bravery from."

"How did it go?" Chris asked.

"When we got there, Maude was having a fit. We didn't see her, but we sure could hear her. Abby told the officer at the front desk that that was the woman who helped to kidnap Ezra. The officer asked if she was sure, she put her hands on her hips and said, and I quote, 'Hell yes I am. She has the same accent as Ezra.' Jim laughed. "Then, as we were going to the room so Abby could identify the two men through a one way mirror, she spotted the two men in the lineup in the hall way. She walked right up to that line up and looked those two men in the face and said, this jackass is the first guy. He shoved me and I fell down and scraped my hands. This is the other jackass that showed up. He shoved me into the school building when I tried to get Ezra away from the other jackass. The two men were taken away. We signed some papers and left to come here. She is so much like her mother."

Josiah patted Jim on the shoulder. "I'm glad I have boys."

"Yeah, well. I may have wanted a son, but there is no way I would trade any of my girls for one."

Abby came running into the waiting room. "He's awake!" Then ran back to Ezra's room with the rest of them following her.

Dr. Madison was there checking Ezra over.

"How are ya feeling?" JD asked.

"Other than this dreadful headache, pain in my left shoulder and collar bone, and the difficulty in breathing, I'm fine."

"I'll keep him here another couple of nights just to be sure," Madison told them.

"Great. He'll be coming home on my birthday," Buck said.

"What about Halloween?" Abby asked.

"Don't worry. We'll have a Halloween," Buck answered.

"Oh good lord. I have an inclination, I'm not going to like what you have in mind."

"Perhaps not, Ez, but you are going trick or treating." Buck wagged his eye brows.

Halloween night found the group trick or treating the hospital staff. It was the first time Ezra had ever participated in the ritual. He would always remember it. He was always told, 'home is where the heart is.' That being so, then his home was with his brothers and foster father.

Continues in:
Chapter Eight: Snowed In

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