Josiah's Boys

Chapter Nine: Giving Thanks

by Freespirit

Previous Chapters

Ezra's back in school this week.

I have found a new tutor for Vin. Her name is Sarah O'Conner. I hope she works out for Vin. She's a senior at Saint Augusta. She'll be coming here three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

JD's computer teacher came to me yesterday asking if JD had ever had an IQ test done. I told him not as far as I knew. He asked if he could give JD one. I told him I didn't have a problem with it. So that's happening this week, who knows. I also asked if it were possible to test the others, he said there wouldn't be a problem.

It's been almost eight weeks since the game, and he finally gets his cast of this week and starts physical therapy. He'll have to wear a leg brace and use a cane. But other than that, he's doing okay.

We haven't seen much of Ella Gains lately. Chris hasn't mentioned much about her either. I wonder if they're still together. Chris almost lost his job yesterday when he blew up at a customer. Apparently, the customer made a comment about one of the other employees being a bit slow and not being all there in the head.

Josiah made a few more comments and sent his report off to Nettie. He looked up at the calendar on the wall and sighed. Thanks Giving was less than two weeks away. Josiah leaned back in his chair and wondered, not for the first time, where did the time go. Then four weeks after Thanks Giving is Christmas. He hadn't celebrated Christmas since Rebecca died. Now? Now, he had six sons to celebrate it with and found he was looking forward to the holidays.

Josiah nodded to himself and went back to his computer and sent out invites for a Thanks Giving dinner party. "It's about time for me to get back to living."

Josiah heard a ruckus going on outside his home office. He picked up his coffee mug and sighed. They're not home an hour and already they're at one another. Josiah opened the door just as JD rushed by, he stepped out to tell JD no running in the house when Buck came running through. Josiah barely stepped back into his office when Buck came through. Josiah ended up spilling his coffee on himself. All he could think of at the time was he was glad it wasn't hot. He came out of the office just in time to see Vin jump from the stairwell, laughing. Josiah looked up the stairwell to see Chris coming down them at a dead run and yelling at Vin what he was going to do to him when he caught him. Josiah looked over into the kitchen. Ezra and Nathan were sitting on bar stools with what looked like coffee mugs in their hands just watching the goings on like spectators at a sporting event. Josiah joined them.

"What's going on?"

"Apparently, JD and Vin played a practical joke on Chris and Buck," Nathan answered.

"What was the joke?" Josiah asked.

"We haven't a clue, Josiah. Nathan and myself have decided the safest place to be at the moment, was right here where you have found us."

"We couldn't get a thing done upstairs with Buck and Chris chasing JD and Vin up there and through the house down here."

"Buck is doing rather well with that brace on, don't you agree, Nathan?"

Nathan nodded. "Yep. I thought for sure he would end up on his a... uh, butt," Nathan corrected at the look Josiah gave him. "When he went around the corner of the stairwell."

Ezra swallowed the mouth of whatever it was in his coffee mug. "I too thought he would."

Josiah sat down on the last bar stool and looked over at Nathan and Ezra, then back at the coffee pot and noticed it was an almost full pot, then back at Nathan and Ezra. "What are the two of you drinking?"

Ezra and Nathan looked at one another then back at Josiah. "Tea."

"I'm having mint with honey and Ezra has earl grey with lemon," Nathan said then took a sip of his tea.

The three heard a crash from down in the basement and then a string of profanity.

Ezra smiled and Nathan hung his head. "How did you know?" Nathan asked as they got up with Josiah to go and check on Chris. "I thought for sure Buck would be the one to fall on his butt first."

"You forget, I know Vin and JD," Ezra said and patted Nathan's shoulder.

Nathan smiled back at Ezra. "It's a good thing Josiah don't allow gambling."

Josiah smiled at Ezra's sigh.

Down in the basement, Chris is sitting on the floor looking up at Vin and JD. Buck is laid out on the floor next to Chris.

"What happened down here?" Josiah asked.

"They collided," Vin answered.

Nathan leaned toward Ezra. "We were both wrong."

Ezra nodded. "Ah, but, at the same time, we were both correct. We just didn't for see them causing the other to fall on his butt."

Chris looked over at Nathan and Ezra. "What are the two of you going on about?"

Josiah walked over and helped Chris and Buck to stand. "They had a wager going on between them."

"What kind of wager?" Buck asked as he sat down on the couch.

"Which one of you two would end up on his ass first," Josiah answered.

"What were the wages?" Buck asked.

Nathan and Ezra looked to one another then back at the group. "Favors."

Josiah looked at the two boys. "Favors?"

"Yes. We thought, since we are not allowed to gamble for money, money was out of the question," Ezra said.

"We couldn't do chores, because Ezra isn't allowed out in the stables. That left favors."

Josiah shook his head then turned toward Chris, Buck, Vin and JD. "Why were the two of you chasing these two all through the house?"

"They posted pictures of us on the net," Chris glared.

"What pictures?" Josiah asked.

"These," Buck said and brought the pics up for Josiah to see.

Josiah laughed.

Nathan and Ezra had to see these pictures. They quickly went over to the lap top and took a look. They burst out laughing.

"Show 'em the video," Vin smiled.

"Not on your life," and "Not happening," were said from Chris and Buck at the same time.

Josiah looked at Vin and JD as they high fived each other. "There's a video?"

"There sure is," Nathan said as he brought it up.

In the video, Chris and Buck are in the basement with wooden spoons in their hands singing and dancing around wearing nothing but towels.

"Look at the hits that video got," JD said.

Josiah listened to the music the two were singing to, then looked up at Chris and Buck. "Is that the Beach Boys?"

Both Chris and Buck nodded.

"What I want to know," Ezra said, as he watched the video. "Why are the two of you wearing only towels?" He looked up at Chris and Buck.

Chris sighed. "I had taken a shower and since it was late, didn't feel like getting my pajama pants on right away."

"I had just stepped out of the bathroom from taking mine when that song came on the radio."

Josiah turned toward Vin and JD. "Why were the two of you down here? The basement is like their apartment. What they do in their apartment is their business."

Vin sighed. "JD wasn't down here. I wanted to talk to Buck about something and I kinda got side tracked. I showed it to JD."

"I took it to school and my teacher showed me how to post videos on the net," JD shrugged.

Josiah sighed. He was having a hard time trying not to laugh at Chris and Buck's embarrassment. He knew what it was like to have younger siblings. He was just glad they didn't have lap tops and the internet when he was growing up.

"Make them take it off the net, please Josiah," Buck pleaded.

"JD?" Josiah said.

"Ugh, fine. I'll take it off." JD went to the lap top and in a few minutes the video was history.

"Thanks Josiah," Chris said.

"Come on you four. Let them get back to their singing practice. By the sound of it, they need all the practice they can get."

"Josiah!" Both Chris and Buck said at the same time.

Josiah, Vin, JD, Ezra and Nathan could be heard laughing all the way up stairs to the main floor.

Buck looked down at the floor. "We need to think about getting carpet down here on this cold, cement floor."

Chris chuckled. "Yeah, we do. Any particular color?"

"Well..," Buck started.

Chris looked over at Buck. "Not red."

"It ain't goin' ta be black either."

"Or white. With those four, it would get pretty darn dirty fast."

Buck nodded. "How about a brown color? It would hide the dirt better than the other colors."

Chris nodded his head. "But I don't like the idea of having carpet in the kitchen and dining area."

"Or the bathroom and laundry area either."

"We probably should run this by Josiah and then measure out the rooms," Chris said as he got up from the couch.

"Yep. Maybe we should think about getting a door down here at the bottom of the stairs so there won't be any more of those videos of us on line," Buck said as Chris helped him up off the couch.

"Oh, yeah. We are getting one of those. That way we can lock it at night."

Buck laughed. "Amen to that, Pard."

Buck and Chris made their way upstairs. Josiah was at the dining table with his calculator. Buck and Chris sat on either side of him.

"Something on your minds?" Josiah asked, not taking his eyes from his task.

"We were wondering if we could get a door down stairs and some carpeting for the cement floors," Buck asked.

"We don't want another incident like today."

Josiah looked up from what he was doing and smiled. "I was wondering what it would take for the two of you to come and ask about a door to keep the others out of the basement. Of course you can have a door and carpeting. Like I told you from the beginning, you two are responsible for the basement. The only room you are not responsible for is the laundry, slash utility room."

"Door's aren't cheep, though," Chris sighed.

Josiah sat back in the chair he was sitting in and looked at the two on either side of him. "How about a reclaimed door?"

"Reclaimed?" Buck asked, puzzled.

Josiah shook his head and stood up. "Follow me."

Josiah led the way through the back door and down to the landing where the coats and boots were. The trio put their coats and boots on and left the house. Buck and Chris followed Josiah to the green house that looked like a stiff wind would knock it down. Josiah stopped in front of the green house and turned toward Chris and Buck. Buck and Chris still didn't understand what Josiah was trying to tell them.

Josiah sighed. "Why not use the door on the green house? All you have to do is buy a new door knob for it. I'm sure if you measure it, it will fit."

Chris and Buck stared at the door. "We could paint it, Chris."

"A locking door knob, paint and hinges. I think you're right, Josiah." Chris smiled up at Josiah.

"These old buildings out here are falling apart. So if there's anything in them the two of you can use to save you some money fixing up the basement for yourselves, you are more than welcome to use them." Josiah looked around at the old buildings and sighed. "When this place was built, it was a thriving fruit farm. This green house, housed fruit plants so the Fosters could have fresh fruit all year round. I remember coming here with my mom a week before thanks giving and buying fresh off the vine pumpkins for her pumpkin pies. The strawberries were the best in town. So were the blue berries. Oh, and the melons? Mmm, they were good. The best part of it all was, you could buy them fresh all year long. Mr. Foster had a green thumb like you wouldn't believe."

Chris and Buck followed Josiah back inside the house. "How many kids did they have?" Buck asked.

"Five. Four boys and a girl. The girl being the youngest."

"How do you know so much about Four Corners?" Buck asked, after he took off his winter gear and then followed Josiah and Chris up the stairs to the main house.

Josiah, Chris and Buck entered the back door to the main house. "I was born and raised here. So was Nettie. I couldn't wait to grow up and get the hell out of this town. I hated growing up here."

"And now your back, with six teenage boys." Chris shook his head.

Josiah laughed, as he sat back down in the chair he had left. "Yeah, go figure."

"What made you come back if you hated this place so much?" Buck asked as he and Chris sat down on either side of Josiah.

"I was living in an upstairs apartment flat over looking hamburger alley in Denver Colorado when I got a letter from a Lawyer telling me I was named guardian in Obadiah Jackson's will to his son, Nathan Jamal Jackson. I knew I couldn't raise him in that part of town with all the gang activity. Then I was told of this place and took it. Four Corners isn't a bad place to raise a family. I had a strict up bringing."

"I hear that," Chris said. "Try living with the general."

"I didn't have a strict parent. I had the run of a casino in Reno. I did how ever see my fair share of abuse. Mom never hurt me, but a few of her boyfriends did. Then she would dump them so fast. Don never hurt me either, that's why I couldn't figure out why Mom dumped him. He treated her like the queen she was."

"Do you know what their fight was about the night before she was murdered?" Josiah asked.

"No. I wish I did," Buck sighed.

"When I took Don to the airport, he confided in me he wanted to be your father. He said, he knew your mom was a packaged deal. To take her, he had to take you and he was okay with that."

Buck looked over at Josiah. "He wanted to be my dad?"

Josiah smiled. "Yes he did."

"Why wouldn't he, Buck?" Chris asked.

"Because none of Mom's other boyfriends wanted to be."

"That was their loss, not yours or your mother's" Josiah said.

"Come on, Buck. Let's go and get the stuff we need to put the door on. The sooner we get that done, the sooner we'll have our privacy," Chris said as he got up from the table.

"I hear that." Buck got up and followed Chris.

Josiah watched Chris and Buck leave then went back to his bills. Josiah no sooner went back to his bills when he heard a crash up stairs then Ezra yelling.

Nathan ran to the bathroom and saw Ezra laid out on the floor holding his arm, then ran to the railing and was about to yell for Josiah when he saw Josiah taking the stairs three at a time.

Josiah reached the top of the stairs and looked around.

"Bathroom," Nathan said and pointed to the bathroom. Josiah hurried to the bathroom. Ezra was getting up off the floor when Josiah entered. "What happened?" Josiah asked as he checked Ezra over.

"I slipped and fell when I stepped out of the shower," Ezra answered, and wrapped the towel tighter around himself.

Josiah looked Ezra's elbow over when he noticed the redness. "Does it hurt?"

Ezra smiled. "Why do they call it a funny bone, when it's anything but funny when you hit it."

Josiah laughed. "I have been wondering that myself. If you're sure you are okay, I'll leave ya to finish up"

"I am sure," Ezra reassured Josiah.

Ezra shut the bathroom door when Josiah left. Vin and JD were standing in their doorways to their rooms when Josiah came out of the bathroom. Josiah made eye contact with Vin, Vin nodded once to him, letting Josiah know he would keep an eye on Ezra.

Josiah no sooner came down the stairs, the phone rang. He answered it on the second ring. "Josiah Sanchez. Oh, hi Abigail. Yes he is. You want to talk to him? Sure, I'll run ya up to him."

Josiah took the phone upstairs to Ezra and while he did, he chatted with Abby. At the top of the stairs, Josiah motioned to Ezra, who was coming out of the bathroom.

"For me?" Ezra asked and pointed to himself. "Who would be calling..," Ezra started to say, but cut himself off and smiled as he realized who would be. "Thank you Josiah."

Josiah handed the phone to Ezra. "Who indeed," Then he shook his head as Ezra put his hand over the mouth piece and waited for Josiah to leave before he started to talk.

Josiah tapped on Vin's door. Vin told him to come in. Josiah stepped into the room. "How did it go with the meeting with your new tutor?"

"Okay, I guess. She's real pretty and nice," Vin answered.

"Good." Josiah noticed some sheet music laid out in front of Vin on his bed. "What do you have there?"

"My band teacher wanted me to learn it. I ain't never singed in front of people before."

Josiah entered further into the room and looked down at the sheet of music, then back at Vin. "Do you like to sing?"

Vin shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah, kinda. I mean when I'm by myself."

"I see it's a duet. Who is the other singer?"

"Violet," Vin answered, barely above a whisper.

Josiah barely heard him. "Did you say Violet?"

"I'm in band, not choir," Vin complained. "That's what I wanted to talk to Buck about when I got side tracked."

"You went to Buck to ask him about Violet?" Josiah smiled.

"Yeah, well kinda. He don't have a problem with girls, I do. I gotta practice with her."

Meanwhile in Ezra room;

"Hey, Ez," Abby greeted.

"Not that I'm complaining, but isn't it early for you to call me?"

"If you don't want to talk to me..."

"No, no, it's not that. I just know what a stickler you step-mother is about you doing your chores and homework first."

"Yes, well, she thinks I'm out here doing my chores and I am. I just had to tell you the good news."

"What good news?"

"We're getting a new trailer. This one is too old to get insured so Daddy and Connie went to look at trailer's the day we got snowed in. They didn't say anything to anyone because they weren't sure if they could get the one they wanted, but they got the go ahead today and the trailer will be here next week. The best part, I get my own room."

Ezra could hear Abby's excitement through the phone and was happy for her. He knew it was pretty cramped in that bedroom she shared with her sisters. "That's great, Abby."

"I know. It seems ages ago since I had my own room."

When was the last time you had your own room?"

"When I lived at my step-dads place when mom was alive. I know mom hasn't been gone long, but it sure feels that way. Oh, my step dad said he wants to meet you."

Ezra laughed. "Oh, he does, does he?"

"Yes he does. Greg ain't bad, for a step dad. He had four kids by his first wife. Unlike Connie, who hasn't any kids and thinks she knows how to raise them."

Ezra thought he heard Abby quiver a little bit. "Abby? Are you still outside?"

"Yes. How else am I going to get any privacy?"

"It's freezing out. Go inside and we can talk on the bus in the morning."

"I wanted to tell you about the new trailer."

"Please, go inside. I wouldn't want you to get a chest cold and end up sick."

"Okay, I'll go back inside. See you in the morning."

"See you in the morning," Ezra said and hung up. Ezra took the phone down stairs and sat it in its holder.

Josiah was in the kitchen making dinner. Nathan, Vin and JD were at the dining table doing homework. Josiah didn't require the boys to do their homework right after school. As long as they got it done before bedtime, he didn't care when they got it done, as long as it got done. Ezra on the other hand, very seldom had homework. JD only seemed to have problems with Social Studies. Ezra sat down next to JD to help him with his homework.

"The Heckarts are receiving a new trailer next week. Abby will have her own room," Ezra stated with a smile.

"That's great," Josiah said.

The phone rang and Josiah picked it up. "Josiah Sanchez. Yes Vi, he's right here," Josiah said then turned to the four teens at the dining table. "Vin? It's for you."

Vin got up and took the phone from Josiah and went into the living room. "I know," Vin said and laughed as he headed for the living room.

Josiah shook his head. "Ezra? Do the girls have this number on speed dial?"

Ezra smiled at Josiah. "I have no idea, but I'll ask Abby in the morning."

A couple of hours later;

Buck and Chris put up the green house door when they got home. To honor the green house, they painted the door green. Not a bright green, but more like a forest green. Josiah helped them a little bit, but they insisted they do it them selves. Since the green house door had a window in it, Buck used the last of his money and bought a window blind for it. Even Chris had to pat Buck on the back for getting the right size just by guessing the width of the window. When they were done, Chris and Buck were pleased with the results. While they were at the home improvement store, they priced carpets and different types of flooring for the bathroom, kitchen/dining and laundry room. Josiah told them not to worry about the laundry, since it wasn't theirs completely. Nathan and Ezra thought like Josiah, that it was about time there was a door down there, but Vin and JD didn't like the idea of being locked out and having to knock if they wanted to talk to Chris or Buck.

One week later:

Josiah settled down in his chair at work and booted up his computer when he heard a knock on his door.

"Come in," Josiah said.

The door opened and Jim Heckart walked in and sat down in one of two chairs in front of Josiah's desk with a heavy sigh.

"Hey there Jim. What's up?" Josiah asked and leaned back in his chair to look his visitor in the face.

Jim handed Josiah a letter. "Got this in the mail box this morning. I am in need of a favor."

Josiah took the letter from Jim and read it and laughed. "What's the favor, as if I didn't know."

"Haha, laugh it up. That trailer is supposed to be here today. Now what am I going to do? The old one will be out in a couple of hours. I have got to go to the place I bought the trailer and see what the hell their going to do about this. I need some place for my family and I to stay for a couple of nights till I can get this straightened out."

"You know you're welcomed to stay at my place." Josiah smiled at his old friend. "Who knows, maybe they'll give you a better trailer."

"That would be nice, but with my luck? I won't hold my breath. Thank you. I'll arrange it so the girls will be dropped off at your place."

"I had plans to go grocery shopping after school, but Buck will be there," Josiah informed Jim.

"That's fine. I trust your boys. Stuart James's boys on the other hand." Jim shook his head.

This had Josiah alarmed. "Has he been bothering you?"

"A little, but nothing I can't handle. Hey, I handled his ass when we were teenagers, I'm pretty sure I still can."

"Yes you did. What is he up to now?"

"He stopped by the house a couple of weeks ago when I was at work and the girls were at school to talk to Connie. He asked her if Abby could babysit for him and his wife."

Josiah had a shocked look on his face. "You have got to be kidding me. He actually did that?"

"Yep. When Connie told me, I called his ranch and told him Abby wasn't going to babysit for him on Friday or any other day or night, ever." Jim shook his head. "That man has gall. I was so furious when Connie told me."

"Oh, I can imagine it. I know that temper of yours. It may take a lot to get you riled, but when you do get riled, look out," Josiah smiled.

"Yeah, well, he should have remembered that from years ago."

"Maybe he did. That could be the reason he asked Connie and not you."

Jim nodded. "Could be." Jim smiled at Josiah. "One phone call to Amber's brothers, and I'd bet my last dollar, I won't have any trouble with James or the Royals."

Both men laughed. "There is no way I'm betting against that."

Jim stood up to leave. "Thanks again, Josiah. Let the girls know not to worry about their chores."

"Will do and any time you need anything, all you have to do is ask."

Jim nodded and then left.

+ + + + + + +

Buck was surfing the net when Nathan, Ezra, Vin, JD, Abby, Vi and Vickie got off the bus. He was looking for ideas for the basement that would help to keep costs down and still give him and Chris what they want. He found a site called Pintrest that had so many home improvement ideas that he wanted to do for the basement. He was so engrossed in the site, he didn't hear the seven teens enter the house until JD dropped his book bag on the floor next to Buck's chair he was sitting in. The seven teens laughed when Buck jumped and almost fell out of his chair.

"Whatcha lookin' at?" JD asked as he looked at the laptop in front of Buck.

"None of your bee's wax." Buck glared as he sat himself back down in the chair.

"Oh cool. That's a nice floor. You and Chris planning on putting a wood floor down stairs?" Nathan asked when he looked at the screen.

"We want to, but a wood floor would take up most of funds. But look here, this floor is made from wood pallets. We have a lot of pallets out in that old storage shed out back of the green house."

"So, what is the problem?" Ezra asked.

"Chris and me ain't carpenters," Buck sighed.

"Grandpa Heckart is," Vi said as she unpacked her books to do her homework.

"He is?" Buck asked hopefully.

"Yeah," Abby answered. "Grandpa and Dad built our beds and dressers. Grandpa built the house dad grew up in. He was a Mason by trade when he met Grandma."

"Do you think your Dad could help Chris and me?"

"You can ask him when he comes to pick us up," Abby answered.

"Um, Josiah said you were staying for a couple of days."

"What?" Abby asked, "What about our trailer?"

Buck held up his hands. "Hey, I just know what I was told. Don't shoot the messenger."

Abby closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, Buck. It's just that I was looking forward to having my own room tonight."

"You will still have your own room, Abby. It'll just be a little bit longer," Vickie said, trying to sooth her sister.

Abby smiled down at her sister. "I know. Let's get our home work done."

Josiah entered the house a couple of hours later to the aroma of freshly baked chocolate brownies. He heard laughter and a female voice scold Buck for something.

"Something smells good," Josiah said as he came in the back door. "I could use some help with groceries." Josiah set the bags he had on the table.

Nathan, Vin, JD and Vi got up to go get the groceries. Ezra was doing his chores with Abby's help. Vickie was showing Buck how to make garlic toast and was scolding him for doing it wrong after she showed him. Josiah figured Buck was doing it wrong on purpose and had to laugh to himself.

Josiah made his way toward the stove and what ever was cooking in the large pot.

"I hope you don't mind, Mr. Sanchez, but I went ahead and got dinner done," Abby said.

"Why would I mind? It smells great. What is it?"

"Potato soup. You had everything I needed," Abby said.

"I smell chocolate too."

"Yeah, well, Buck all but twisted my arm for brownies," Abby shrugged. "Daddy called and said he'd be here soon and had some good news."

"Buck keeps trying to snitch the brownies, so we hid them," JD said when he and the others came in the back door.

To Josiah's surprise, Chris was with them and had the box of groceries. "I thought you had to work, Chris?"

"I did. It got slow and Mr. Baker asked if anyone wanted to go home early. I said I would since I don't have a family to support, and I'm glad I did by the smell of things."

"Hey, Chris, I got something to show you," Buck said and quickly as he could, Buck hobbled over to the laptop that was sitting on the dining room table and brought up the site.

Chris took a look at what Buck wanted him to see.

"That's a nice floor."

"The best part is it's made with pallets."

Chris looked at Buck like he had gone crazy. "Seriously?"

"Look," Buck pointed to the picture.

Chris read the article and to his amazement, the beautiful wood floor was made from pallets. It even gave instructions on how the couple had done it.

"Huh. We do have the pallets, but, Buck, neither of us know a dang thing about laying a floor. Chris said, then started to help Josiah take care of groceries.

"Well, dinner is done if anyone wants any. It's nothing fancy," Abby said.

The groceries were taken care of then everyone sat down to eat. Half way through the meal, Jimmy and Connie rang the door bell.

"Smells good in here," Jim said when he entered the dining room from the back door. "Abby made brownies didn't she," Jim stated more then asked.

"And potato soup, Daddy. I made the garlic toast with Buck's help," Vickie said with pride in her voice.

"It smells great. Connie and I had dinner in town, or I would have a bowl of soup and some of your toast."

"So, Daddy, what's the good news?" Abby asked.

"I know you didn't know this, but we lost the trailer this morning. Some how it didn't get recorded that another couple had a hold on the trailer when we went to see the trailer dealership."

"How is that good news?" Vi said.

"Well, because we ended up with a newer trailer with an addition that I can make into a fourth bedroom and still have an entryway."

"We can all get our own rooms?" Vickie asked.

"Yes, Sweetheart, you can." Jim smiled down at his youngest.

Josiah leaned back in his chair. "That is good news. What is it going to take to get it moved on your property?"

"First of all," Jim said and sat down on one of the barstools next to his wife. "I've got to clear the snow and lay down a cement slab for the addition with tie downs. From what I could tell, I won't have to move the piping for the sewer and water. Just extend them to accommodate the second bathroom."

Josiah smiled. "Need any help with any of it?"

"I'm not going to turn it down." Jim smiled back. "Why do you ask?"

Josiah looked over at Buck and Chris. "Buck? Chris? Isn't there something you want to ask Jim about?"

Chris didn't know what Josiah was referring to, but apparently, Buck did. Buck got up from the table and ran down to the basement and came back with his laptop and set it down in front of Jim.

"Could you do this for Chris and me? We have the pallets for it but Chris and me don't know how to lay a floor."

Jim looked the site over and nodded his head. "I think I could , but I'd have to ask my dad about it, but yeah, I could do it." Jim looked up at Buck. "What are you going to pay me for it?"

"What would you have to have?"

Josiah cleared his throat. "You could help Jim with his trailer and in return, he could lay the floor."

Chris and Buck looked to Jim who burst out laughing. "That sounds like a deal to me. Like I said, I'll have to show it to my dad, but I'm pretty sure, between the two of us, we can make it happen."

Chris and Buck took Jim out to the storage shed and showed him the pallets. Buck was jumping with excitement. Jim looked the pallets over and said they could possibly use little more than half of them for the floor, but it would take more pallets than they had here. Chris said he would talk to Mr. Baker at the store about all the pallets he has out in the back storage barn.

That night, after all the kids and Connie went to bed, Josiah and Jim stayed up and reminisced in Josiah's office. Josiah chose to sleep on the couch in his office and let Jim and Connie have his room and queen size bed. Abby took the air mattress. That left the sleeper sofa for Violet and Vickie.

"I still have the videos I taped back when Amber and I went to California to see you and then, girlfriend, Rebecca." Jim smiled at Josiah.

"Oh, please, don't show them to my boys. I would never hear the end of it."

"I'm sure of that, my friend," Jim said then sighed. "I am so thankful for our friendship, Josiah. I look around at what you have accomplished since Rebecca died. I thought for sure you wouldn't make it. But you did."

Josiah thought over what Jim said. "There was a time I didn't think I could go on, but I did because my Becky would have wanted me to."

"That she would have." Jim slapped Josiah on the knee. "You're doing what she said you should. Well kind of. Remember?"

Josiah laughed. "Yeah, I do. I'm not teaching, but I do work at the high school."

Both men looked up when the door opened after a soft knock. "Jim, are you coming to bed?" Connie asked.

"In a few. What time is it?" Jim asked his wife.

"It's after one."

Jim looked over at Josiah. "I think I had better go to bed. Good night."

Josiah nodded his head. "Yeah, I should be doing the same thing. Good night."

That night, Josiah dreamt of the days when he was young and surfing the waves in southern California when he met and fell in love with Rebecca. She was the one who taught him that there was more to life than surfing and living the life of a nomad. She saw something in him that no one, except for Hannah, could see. Not even himself. The alarm woke him from his dreams all to early. Josiah would have loved to go back to dreaming of his Becky, but life intervened. Josiah smiled at himself, it had been a long time since he dreamed of Becky. In the dream, they were sitting on the beach. Becky turned to him and said, 'We'll always have California.' It was as if she was telling him to go on and live.

Next week was thanks giving. The boys had full days on Monday and Tuesday, and half day on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday they had off and so did he.

Chris and Buck helped the Heckarts get their place ready for the new trailer along with Josiah and Nathan. Josiah told the younger three to stay home. He didn't need them catching pneumonia. Vin and JD protested the most. Ezra didn't like the idea of not helping with the trailer, but he knew Josiah was right. Besides, the girls were not allowed to help either.

JD was sitting at the table, pouting. Vickie pulled up a chair and sat next to JD. "Hey, would you like to play a game? We have all our board games with us."

JD looked over at Vickie and shrugged. "What board games do you have?"

Violet sighed. "The better question would be, what board game don't we have."

Abby smiled at the four younger ones sitting at the table looking board. "Vi? Get the Clue game. I want to see how well Ezra can play the game, my way.

Ezra smiled. "There is but one way to play the game."

"No there ain't," Vickie said as Vi ran to get the game.

Jim, Connie, Josiah, Chris, Buck and Nathan came in through the back door to the others laughing and Ezra saying no fair.

"What's going on here? Buck asked as he walked over to the table.

"We're playing clue. Abby's way," Vin laughed.

Chris joined Buck. "Abby's way?"

Abby got up from the table and went to the stove. "There's coffee made and hat water in the kettle. I made a pot of chicken noodles soup as well. I thought you all might need it after working so hard out in the cold." Abby then opened the oven door and pulled a 9 x 13 cake pan of corn muffins and set them on the stove top.

"And you were right," Jim said.

Chris poured himself a cup of coffee from one of two coffee pots and held the cup between his cold hands and let the hot coffee in the cup warm his hands.

The game was put up and the table was set. Chris went down stairs and got the card table and chairs so everyone had a place to sit. The girls and Ezra sat at the card table while the rest sat at the dining table.

"I have got to locate the extra leaf for this table before Thursday," Josiah said.

"Why's that Mr. Sanchez?" Vickie asked.

"Because I am have a Thanks giving dinner here and you and your family are invited. So are the Travis', the St Claire's and the Wells. And few others as well."

"We have plans to go to my parents for thanksgiving dinner, Josiah, but thank you for the invitation," Connie said.

Abby's back was to the adults, but Ezra, Vi and Vickie saw the disappointment in Abby's eyes.

"Why can't Abby, Vickie and me come here for thanks giving dinner? That way, Greg won't have so far to drive to come and get us and the two of you won't have to get a second room at the hotel."

"She has a point, Connie. You did say you wanted more time with Dad, alone," Abby added, hopefully.

"Are you sure Josiah could put up with the three of you?" Jim teased.

"I'm sure I can. Besides, I'll have Nettie Wells here as well as the Judge," Josiah said.

"But my mother has a big, huge dinner planed for everyone. I don't want to disappoint her."

"Sweetheart," Jim looked over at Connie, "you and I still can go. The girls don't eat much when ever we go to your parent's house anyway."

Connie looked around the table at the others eating and not trying to listen to what was being said, then back at Jim. "We will discuss this later."

After dinner was over and tables were cleared, Chris took his and Bucks card table and folding chairs back down stairs to their place. Buck asked the other teens if they wanted to come down and play their board game. They did.

Down in the basement, the game was set up, using Abby's rules.

Buck watched and listened. "I've never heard of that rule in the game of clue."

"That's because it does not exist," Ezra informed him.

"Yes it does, I just amended it," Abby said in defense.

Ezra looked to Abby. "Why do you not want to join your father and step-mother to her parents for the holiday?"

Abby looked over at Ezra and sighed. "I get the feeling we're not wanted there as much as Connie thinks we are. Her sister is great, I love her. She actually makes me feel welcomed. As for Connie's parents and brother, not so much."

"Oh, they're nice people," Vickie said. "It's just we feel like we don't belong there."

Ezra nodded his head. "I thought perhaps that was the case. It's like they're being to nice."

"Yes! Oh God, yes," Violet said. "I hate that. I don't like the phony politeness from Connie's brother's wife Janice. I don't hate her, just the way she makes me feel."

"Like a charity case. Something that should be pitied," Ezra nodded. "I have had my fair share of step-fathers, so I know exactly what you are saying."

Chris sat on the couch and listened to the girls as they talked to Ezra, Vin and JD. Buck looked over at Chris and nodded his head in understanding. He may not have had any step parents, but he still could relate.

Chris excused himself saying he had forgotten something upstairs. Chris heard voices coming from Josiah's office. Chris entered when Josiah said for him to come in when he knocked.

"What's up, Chris?" Josiah asked.

"Are the girls behaving themselves?" Jim asked.

"Yeah, the girls are fine. In fact, I wanted to talk to you about them."

"Okay, what's on your mind?" Jim said, concerned.

"I know why the girls don't want to go to Connie's parents place."

"Do tell us," Connie said, sarcastically.

Chris glared at Connie. "They feel like your family pities them."

Connie rolled her eyes. "That's ridiculous."

"Maybe to you, but not to the girls," Chris told her.

"It's okay, Chris. The girls are having thanks giving here," Josiah said.

Chris smiled at Connie. "I'll let them know."

Down stairs, Chris told the girls what Josiah had told him and they were pleased to say the least.


Josiah woke to the smell of sausage, eggs and pancakes frying and the smell of coffee brewing. He looked over at his clock on his bedside table and it read 6:38 am. Why would he be smelling sausage, eggs and pancakes this early in the morning when there wasn't any school. Still smelling the food, Josiah got up to investigate. He found Abby at the stove and Violet and Vickie at the counter bar eating sausage, eggs and pancakes.

"Abigail, it's not even seven o-clock in the morning. Why are you up this early making breakfast?"

"I wanted to show my thanks for having us for dinner."

"I didn't know I had any pancake mix," Josiah said as he grabbed a plate and loaded it with food. "And you didn't have to do this."

"I know, and you didn't have any pancake mix. I used the cake mixes you had."

"Oh yeah? What mixes did I have?" Josiah asked, then took a bite if his pancakes.

"Well, there was red velvet, French vanilla and devil's food. With so many to feed, I used them all. I can get about fifteen pancakes per box, give or take a pancake or two." Abby looked over at Josiah when she heard him moan. "I guess that means you like them."

"These are so good. You are going to make some guy happy in the future."

"She already does Josiah," Jim said coming out of the bedroom with Connie right behind him.

Chris and Buck came in through the back door, stomping their feet.

"We could smell the food when we came in from the morning chores," Buck said.

Nathan came down stairs with Vin and JD behind him. Abby placed the last pancake, devil's food, on the platter with the others.

"I hope there's enough for everybody," Abby said as she sat down at the counter bar.

She told everyone which pancakes were what flavor and what toppings she made. While she was telling everyone what was what, Ezra came down rubbing his eyes. He looked up to see what all the fuss was about and smiled. The he joined them.

About halfway through breakfast, the egg timer goes off. Abby jumped up and ran to the oven and pulled out pies and set them on the counter to cool then put in a long cake pan the Buck recognized immediately.

"What's with all the baking, Sweetheart," Jim asked his daughter.

"It's the only time I'll have the oven because Mr. Sanchez will be needing it for the turkey."

"We're not having turkey," Josiah said. "Your dad told me you didn't like turkey. So, we're having roast chicken and ham."

"Thank you. But you didn't have to change the menu just because I don't like turkey."

Josiah chuckled. "The chicken was cheaper than the turkey."

"You still will need the oven to roast the chicken and ham. So I figured the best time for me to make the deserts was early in the morning. The cheese cake is a no bake and the cream pies are made with pudding so I can do them after breakfast. You did say I could make the pies Mr. Sanchez."

"Yes I did."

Through out the day, Josiah cooked while the boys and the girls cleaned and did chores. It was two o-clock when Nettie and Casey arrived. Nettie saw Josiah had everything well in hand and didn't need her to help with anything. She did bring a green bean casserole. Soon after, the St. Clare's arrived. Chris brought up the card table and Monty and Nash brought up the folding chairs. The leaf for the dining table was found the night before and was put in after breakfast. The table went from seating for eight to seating for ten. When the Travis's came, they had brought a couple of card tables with chairs. They brought the stuffing and yams. Nash bought cranberry sauce, Monty brought a relish trey and Cheyenne brought a fruit bowl that she had made up her self. By the time four o-clock came, everything was done and all the guests were sitting down to dinner. It was then the back door opened and Jim Heckart came in without his wife. Jim had with him a two pound tub of macaroni salad. He sat at the opposite end of the dining table from Josiah. Josiah gave him a strange look, that Jim mouthed, "I'll tell you later."

"Let's say grace," Josiah said.

After grace, Josiah cleared his throat and stood up. "I would like to say something before we eat." Josiah looked around the rooms that had people sitting at tables and the counter. "I wanted you all to know how thankful I am this holiday. When I lost my Becky, I thought my world had come to a stop. It had, but everyone else's didn't. I had lost all hope and even lost faith in God. He took her from and left me with nothing but an empty hole in my heart. For little more than a year and a half, there was no one to help me, then an old woman with a shopping cart full of junk crossed my path. As I sat on the park bench feeling sorry for myself, she sat down and started to tell me her life story. It was then I started to think maybe I didn't have it so bad. I started to volunteer at a church. A year later, a dear friend died and left me his son. Then another friend came to me with an offer I couldn't refuse. Then another friend came to me with a situation that needed my expertise. Then came the Fourth of July and I found myself with three more boys. Now an old friend has came back into my life with a family of his own. I am thankful for all of you, but most of all, I am thankful for my sons and the Lord for bringing them to me this year," Josiah finished his speech and sat back down. One by one everyone said what they were thankful for. By the time everyone was done, the food had cooled down enough to eat.

After dinner and everyone went home and the house settled down for the night, Jim filled Josiah in what had happened and why Connie didn't come back with him.

"Sorry to hear that. You going to file or is she?"

"I will come Monday. You know, I don't feel a great loss like I did when Amber left."

"That could be a good thing," Josiah said. Then with his can of soda, he tipped it toward Jim. "Here's to a new beginning for the both of us."

"Hear, hear," Jim said and the two clinked the pop cans and took a drink.

Continues in:
Chapter Ten: Things Learned

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