Josiah's Boys

Chapter Ten: Things Learned

by Freespirit

Previous Chapters

Chris and Buck are doing just fine. Buck is getting around much better since his physical therapy. When Mr. Heckart said he and his Father could lay the floor of pallets in the basement, and it didn't even cost them a thing in money, only labor, to say the least, Chris and Buck were happy.

Ezra was asked to join the debate team. I hope the debate team knows what they're getting themselves into. Ezra and Abigail are getting quite close. I'm a little bit more than intrigued to see what happens for the two of them in the future.

Vin's cold is lingering longer than I like. Dr. Morningstar said He should bundle up a bit more before going outside. He said, according to Vin's medical records, Vin is highly susceptible to upper respiratory infections due to being born a preemie. I'll have to keep a close watch on him.

I talked to John Dunn the other day when JD was in school. He asked what his son was in to. I told him computer stuff. He wants to send JD something for Christmas. I told him JD wouldn't care what it was as long as it came from him.

Josiah finished his report and sent it off.

Josiah came out of his office and headed for the coffee pot to pour himself a cup of coffee. Buck was at the dining room table with Jim looking over the floor pattern he and Chris decided on. Jim thought it would look great with all the different types of wood pallets they had to work with.

"Do you think we could get this done before Charismas?" Buck asked.

"Chris said he was going to ask his super about the pallets the store has stored in their shed slash ware house. If we get those, maybe. Charismas is only three weeks away. We would have to get started right away."

"How's the cement slab coming along for your trailer?" Josiah asked as he joined them at the table.

"You'll be happy to know, it's ready for the trailer to be moved on to it. I called the dealer, and the trailer will be here tomorrow."

"That's great. It sure took long enough," Buck said and smiled over at Jim. "You can leave Abby here."

Jim and Josiah laughed. They knew why Buck wanted Abby to stay.

"I'm sure if you ask her, she'll leave you with some of her recipes and tips on cooking."

Buck smiled over at Josiah. "She already has. I know how to make brownies and pancakes from a cake mix. She gave me her chicken Alfredo with parmesan cheese recipe. I am going to try and make that. She said it's so easy to make. We'll see. I learned to make garlic toast, didn't I?"

Josiah shook his head. "Yes you did."

"You know, Buck," Jim started, "you start learning to cook and you'll even be more irresistible to the ladies," Jim teased.

"You think so?"

"We," Josiah indicated him and Jim, "know so."

Jim nodded his head. "A man that can cook, pick up after himself and know how to please a woman? Oh he's got it made."

Buck smiled. "It's a good thing I can do two out of the three. I just need to learn to cook."

Chris came in the back door to Buck, Jim and Josiah laughing.

"Hey, got good news. We can have all the pallets we want. Mr. Baker said he was just storing them because he didn't know what to do with them. I told him what I needed them for and he just laughed and said go ahead and take them. He does, however want to see the floor when it's done. If he likes it, he just may do his dad's old fishing cabin floor with them," Chris said as he walked over to the coffee pot and mug tree and got himself a cup of coffee, then sat down at the dining room table.

"Hey, that's great. When can we pick 'em up?" Buck asked.

"It'll have to be on a weekend," Jim said. "I don't get off work till after dark now."

"Okay. How about this weekend?" Buck asked.

"Sure, why not," Jim said shaking his head.

"When we get done with the basement, it'll look so sweet," Buck said and leaned back in the dining chair he was in.

"Yeah it will, but where are we going to store the pallets so they stay dry?" Chris asked after he took a swallow of coffee.

Josiah leaned on the table and thought for a bit. "Why not keep them in the shed with the others. The roof is still pretty good and all the other pallets stay dry in there."

"Yeah we could. There's a lot of pallets though. We may run out of room for all of them."

"How about we cross that bridge when we get to it," Buck said.

A couple of days later, Josiah, Chris, Buck and Nathan helped Jim and the girls get their trailer on it's slab and moved in.

+ + + + + + +

Soon it was Saturday morning and Buck was up with the sun getting the chores done so he didn't have to do them after they got back from getting the pallets. Chris on the other hand took his time. He knew what it was doing to Buck and was enjoying every minute of it.

"Come on Chris, pick up the speed. I want to get this over with. Jim'll be here any minute and you ain't ready to go."

Chris looked down at his watch. "Buck, Jim isn't going to be here for another hour. Take a chill pill."

Buck looked up at the clock on the wall and moaned. "Time is going way to slow," then dropped down on the sofa.

"Come in, the door isn't locked," Chris called out a few minutes later when someone knocked on the door.

Vin entered the basement.

"What's up Vin?" Buck asked.

Vin sighed, "Some kids at school was going tobogganing this weekend."

"Sounds like fun," Chris said. "You need a ride?"


"To go tobogganing with them." Buck shook his head.

"Oh, no. I wasn't invited. I was wondering what tobogganing was."

"It's like sledding but with out the skis," Chris answered.

"Why didn't they just say they were going sledding. I know what that is," Vin said and sat down beside Buck.

Buck looked down at Vin. "Because you can get more than one person on a toboggan. I saw one that held five kids on it. I swear, Vin, it's like you never saw winter before." Then Buck ruffled Vin's hair.

"Stop that. I hate it when people do that." Vin swatted at Buck then crossed his arms in front of him and slouched back against the couch. "I ain't," Vin whispered.

Buck was sitting next to Vin and all he could hear was a mumble. "Speak up, Jr. I didn't hear ya."

"I ain't never seen snow before the day we got snowed in. Heck, I never even left Texas before."

Buck looked over at Chris, then back at Vin. "Well then, I guess you need the winter experience."

"And all the fun that comes with it," Chris agreed.

Chris and Buck went on and on about all the fun you can have in the snow. Vin had to admit, he did enjoy the snowball fight they had in the back yard. Buck said after they were done with the pallets, they could build snow people in the back yard later. Vin thought that sounded like fun. The more things he learned, the more Vin was glad he ran away and joined up with Ezra and JD.

Talking about winter and all that you could do helped to make time go faster and before Buck knew it, Jim had arrived to go get the pallets. Vin tagged along so he could help with the loading and then unloading of the pallets. All the while, he asked questions about what winter was like. Jim told him he would teach him how to snowmobile someday. He also told the three teens his daughters were snowmobiling before they could walk.

"How they do that?" Vin asked.

"I have a sled for my snowmobile. I took an old side car for a motorcycle and turned it into a sled for my snowmobile. So, instead of being on the side of my snowmobile, it's hooked up behind it. When the girls were little, sometimes it was the only way we could go and get supplies so I would hook up the sled and we would go. Abby started driving the snowmobile when she was eight or nine. Boy was Amber peeved about that one. I was with her of course. I wasn't about to let her drive on her own."

"She's only fourteen," Vin said, astounded that Abby was driving.

Jim laughed. "It's not like driving a car, Vin. More like ATV driving."

"Aren't they classified as ATVs" Buck asked.

"I think so, but I'm not for certain. All I know is Abby enjoys riding them. She wants to race them some day like my brother. There's the winter festival in two weeks. Just before Christmas. My brother will be racing in the race and there's an ice sculptor contest."

"Will there be fair type rides?" Vin asked.

"Yes. They'll be indoors where it's warmer along with games. There will be games outside as well. But the races are the biggest draw."

"There's more than one?" Vin asked.

"Yep. There are races for the adults and the teens."

+ + + + + + +

They were unloading the last truck load of pallets when they heard the sound of what Vin thought was a motorcycle. He knew motorcycles didn't run cross country, let alone in the snow cross country.

"That sounds like Abigail now," Jim said.

Sure enough, Abigail came up from behind the building with the sled in tow. She stopped right in from of her dad and took off her helmet and then shut off the machine.

"Before you say anything, Violet and Vickie are fine. I left them with a plate of chicken fingers and French fries. I wanted to bring you a thermos of coffee and sandwiches."

"We have those here, Abby," Buck said, looking over the snowmobile.

"I know. But I wanted to see how much you guys got done," Abby smiled.

Josiah and the other three teens joined them when they heard the snowmobile.

"What are you wearing?" Ezra asked upon seeing Abby in bright yellow snow pants and her winter coat with black gloves and snow boots.

Abby looked down at her snow pants then grinned back at Ezra. "They're my snow pants, snow boots and gloves. You need them when you're snowmobiling."

"Nice snowmobile, Abby. I got to ride an Arctic Cat when I was little," JD said, admiring the snowmobile. "That looks like a racer."

"Thank you JD and it is a racer."

Ezra looked over at Jim. "You race?"

Jim shook his head. "Not me, my brother does. I bought his old snowmobile."

"Yeah, I can't wait to see Uncle Dick race in a couple of weeks," Abby said with excitement. "You all have got to come and watch. It'll be a lot of fun. Other than the racing, I like seeing the ice sculptures."

"Isn't that dangerous?" Ezra asked.

"Snowmobiles don't have the speed like cars, but yes it can be very dangerous. It's a lot like motorcycle racing," Jim answered.

Josiah patted Ezra on the shoulder. "We would love to go and see your Uncle race."

"I have to get back," Abby said then picked up her helmet from the seat of the snowmobile and turned toward Ezra and smiled. "I'll see you Monday morning."

Ezra watched Abby leave and sighed.

"What's wrong Ez?" Josiah asked.

"As much as I would like to watch the race and see the ice sculptures, I do not relish being in the cold."

Jim laughed. "There's a lot of indoor activities too. Abby likes winter because she doesn't suffer from a lot of her allergies, especially her hay fever. We can't have a real Christmas tree because she gets real sick around them."

"Oh, I remember all to well how sick she can get," Josiah said. "I can remember one holiday in particular when we had you and Amber over. We didn't have a tree up but Becky was burning her pine forest incense made from pure pine extract." Josiah shook his head. "Becky felt so bad."

"What happened?" Chris asked.

Josiah looked to Jim and sighed. "They were there I think maybe twenty, thirty minutes when Abby started sneezing."

Jim nodded his head. "Sounds about right."

"Within about ten to fifteen minutes later, she had a hard time breathing and her eyes were swelling shut."

"Yeah. Needless to say, we had to leave. Amber took her to the emergency room while I stayed with Vi and Vickie. Mind you, Vickie was only three months old at the time."

Ezra looked over at Chris and Buck with pleading eyes. Both teens smiled and nodded their heads which Ezra sighed and smiled back at them.

Josiah looked around at his boys. "What's up?"

"We wanted to get a Christmas tree from Mr. Snyder's tree farm and decorate it for a surprise for ya," Buck shrugged.

"That would have been nice, but I have a seven foot fake one that I'd put up every year. Becky insisted on buying it."

"I remember that tree," Nathan said. "It's tall and big."

Josiah laughed. "It is at that. I have some of the decorations Becky bought for it." Josiah cocked his head to one side. "Huh, you know what? I haven't put that tree up since Becky passed a few years ago."

"Why did you keep it all these years if you wasn't going to put it up?" Jim asked.

"I have no idea. I've tried to a couple of times to get rid of it, but for some odd reason, I couldn't part with it."

"Now you have a reason to put it up my friend," Jim said.

Josiah laughed. "Yep and I'll need to buy more ornaments and lights."

"I am going back inside where it is warm and perhaps practice some new card tricks," Ezra smiled and walked away.

Vin sneezed a couple of times.

Jim looked up at Vin, "Gesundheit."

"Thanks," Vin said and wiped his nose on his coat sleeve.

"Come on, jump down out of there and let's all go inside," Josiah said.

"But we ain't done unloadin' the pallets," Vin complained.

"Come on Vin," Chris said, "it's lunch time anyway."

"Fine," Vin huffed and jumped out of the truck bed.

Josiah and Jim followed the boys inside. "Josiah? Buck and Chris were telling me this is Vin's and Ezra's first winter."

"Yep. Vin's loving it, but Ezra," Josiah smiled up at his friend. "Not so much."

"I can tell," Jim laughed.

Inside, Josiah got out the left over chili and put it on the stove to reheat it. He then took out the corn bread and sat it on the table.

"This isn't your usual chili, Josiah," Jim commented when he looked in the pot.

"Nope, it isn't. I got the recipe from old man Bishop and the corn bread is his too."

"I think I'll have what you're having for lunch," Jim said and put the lunch Abby brought him in the fridge.

Vin sneezed again. Josiah reached over and put a hand to Vin's forehead checking to see if he had a fever, he didn't.

It seemed to Josiah that Vin's cold was getting worse, not better and this worried him.

After lunch, Vin, Buck, Chris and Jim went back outside to finish unloading the truck. After they were done, Buck, Chris and Jim went back inside. Vin wanted to stay and play out in the snow. After a little while, Josiah went out to get Vin. He smiled at Vin's attempt at making a snowman.

Vin looked up at Josiah and sighed. "What I's doing wrong?"

"Nothing. How about we go in for the night and start over tomorrow?"

Vin reluctantly followed Josiah inside. After removing their outer wear, Vin and Josiah joined Ezra, JD and Nathan in the living room to watch Jim Carey in the Grinch.

True to his word, Josiah bought some ornaments and lights for his tree. JD, Vin and Ezra went with him. The three teens talked Josiah into buying an angel tree topper with fiber optic wings. When they got home, Josiah went to find the tree while the six teens discussed what to name the angel. They hadn't decided yet when Josiah came back with the tree and ornaments and lights that he was able to save when his wife was alive. Josiah sat the tree up in front of the bay window in the living room.

"It's a good thing we have a large living room," Ezra said.

"Yeah it is," Josiah chuckled.

"When can we start decorating it?" JD asked as he looked at the tree.

Josiah stood back before he answered. "Now if you want to."

Josiah decided to let the boys do the decorating while he caught up his book keeping. He smiled at the camaraderie that was taking place in the living room.

"There is a way to settle this little dilemma," Ezra said as he took out an ornament.

"Oh yeah? How?" Chris asked as he untangled a string of lights.

Ezra handed his ornament off to JD. "By each of us writing down a name on a piece of paper and place it into a bowl or a hat and what ever is pulled out is what the angel's name will be."

The others thought it over and agreed that, that would be the best way to settle it.

"You got a name in mind Ez?" Vin asked.

"Yes I have."

Chris asked Josiah for some stick it notes so they could write down the names. Nathan went to the kitchen and got a bowl to put the names in it. The bowl with the six pieces of paper with the names was handed to Chris. He held the bowl up and since Ezra was the one who came up with the solution to the situation, he got to pick the piece of paper out of the bowl. When he had picked the paper out of the bowl, Ezra handed it to Chris and went back to the ornaments.

Chris sat the bowl down on the coffee table and looked at the name and smiled. "Hey Ez? Why this name?" Chris asked as he handed the paper to Buck.

Ezra stopped what he was doing and looked up at Chris. "My name was chosen?"

"Yeah, we all chose our mom's names," Buck said and handed the paper to Nathan.

Nathan nodded his head. "The angel even kinda looks like her." He then handed the paper to Vin.

"Well, my mother is still alive, while all of yours are not, therefore, she isn't among the angels like yours are. And with what happened not long ago, she doesn't deserve the honor to sit a top our tree."

Vin handed the paper to JD as he listened to Ezra tell why he chose the name that he did.

"And if she were alive today, she would be a second mother to me, therefore, she was the only name that I could come up with that deserved to be among all of your mothers and to sit a top of our tree," Ezra finished and went back to the ornaments.

"Good choice," Vin nodded.

"Yeah, Ez. In a way, she'd be all our second mom," JD said and handed the paper back to Chris.

The rest of the teens agreed with Vin and JD and thought the name was perfect. When it came time to put the angel on top of the tree, Chris went and got Josiah to do it.

"Why me?" Josiah asked.

"Because you're the father and it's tradition for the father to put the tree topper on the tree," Vin said.

Josiah smiled. "So what name did you all decide on for our angel?" Josiah asked as he reached up and put the angel on top of the tree and stepped back from the tree.

"Rebecca," Nathan answered.

Josiah looked to his boys. "Really? May I ask why?"

"We wanted to give her a name of one of our moms who is with the angels, but Ez's mom is still alive," Vin answered.

"Yeah, so he said Rebecca, cause if she was still alive, she'd be his second mom," JD said and smiled up at Josiah.

"You are our Foster Father are you Not?" Ezra asked. Josiah nodded he was. "Well, then that would make her our Foster Mother, therefore our second mother."

"We all agreed with him," Chris smiled.

"Thank you, all of you." It touched Josiah that they thought of his Rebecca as a second mother to them. He knew if she were alive, she would be proud to call them her sons, just as he is.

Nathan held up the Christmas wreath. "We don't use the front door, so where are we gong to put this?"

Josiah looked to see what Nathan was referring to. "The back door I guess."

Buck took the wreath and hanger. "It looks old and home made."

"It is," Josiah answered. "Rebecca made it."

Buck hung the wreath on the back door.

Since Buck was the tallest, he was given the job of hanging the mistletoe. It was hung in the archway of the living room. The bells were hung in the front door window.

JD stood back with everyone else and looked their place over after they got done with the decorating and sighed. "You know what were missing?"

The rest couldn't think what else was missing as they looked around at their work.

"Okay, JD, I give up," Buck said and threw his hands in the air. "What's missing?"

JD smiled at everyone. "Stockings hanging by the fireplace."

Everyone laughed.

"Only you would come up with that," Ezra said and shook his head.

A thought had just occurred to Josiah. "She knew," Josiah whispered and went to his bedroom.

The boys followed him. "Josiah? Is something wrong?" Chris asked.

Josiah pulled out a long, narrow storage container from under his bed and sat it on his bed and opened it. "I had forgotten about these. When Rebecca and I bought the tree, she insisted we buy these. She wrote our names on ours and left the others for when we had kids. Their all the same color, red. She said that way, no matter if we have boys or girls, there wouldn't be any arguing on what color they got." Josiah then pick up the red faux fur stockings with white felt trim around the top for writing names and tossed each teen one. There was exactly six without names.

Buck grabbed the red permanent marker from the side table next to the sofa bed and wrote his name then handed it off to the next teen. The marker was passed from one teen to the next until all the stockings had their names on them. Chris was the last one to use the maker, so he put the marker back where Buck had gotten it. They hung the stockings from the wood mantle of the fireplace from the oldest to the youngest. JD took Josiah's and Rebecca's from Josiah and hung them above the others on the stone chimney. Each teen wrote his full first name on his stocking. JD went as far as to write John David on his.

"Now it looks complete, Boys. Rebecca would be pleased," Josiah smiled.

They had garland on the banister of the stairs, strung up in front of the windows and archway with the mistletoe and bells. The place looked like something you would see in a home decorating magazine. It was a mix of old and new decorations. Where ever he looked, Josiah could see a little bit of his Becky's decorations.

There's still some daylight outside, Can I go out and play?" Vin asked.

Josiah sighed. "Your cold sounds like it's worse, so don't be out to long."

"How about I come out and teach you how to make a snowman?" Buck asked and put an arm around Vin's shoulder and lead him to the back door.

Except for Ezra, the other boys followed Vin and Buck outside.

"Why aren't you going outside to play?" Josiah asked Ezra.

"I have some reading to get done before Wednesday," Ezra said as he opened his back pack and took out a yellow plastic folder.

Josiah sat down next to Ezra. "What have you got there?"

"This is a short story, a Christmas short story written by Abigail Heckart. Mr. Moore asked her to write it for the Christmas program to be read out loud.

"She's that good is she?"

"Oh, you have no idea," Ezra said and reached in the back pack and took out another yellow folder and handed it to Josiah. "Here, read this and you tell me."

Josiah took the folder and flipped it open and read the title. "A Murder Mystery? It just so happens, I like a good mystery." Josiah leaned back against the sofa, with his left ankle resting across his right knee.

Ezra looked over at Josiah and smiled. He knew Josiah was getting into the story just like he had when he first read it.

Ezra finished reading the story about the same time Josiah did. "Well, what did you think of it? I liked it myself."

Josiah looked over at Ezra. "This is from a fourteen year old?" Josiah shook his head. "Remind never to get on her bad side. The crap she did to the step-mother, no, I don't ever want to be on her bad side."

Ezra laughed. "I know right?"

"Does Jim know about this?"

"I have no idea. Abby said writing her anger out helps her to deal with stuff. You could say, it's therapeutic."

"At the very least, we know what she thinks of her," Josiah said and handed the folder back to Ezra and got up. "I have got to talk to Jim."

"Josiah? I don't think she would do any of this to her in real life," Ezra said, worried about what he might tell Abby's dad.

Josiah smiled down at Ezra. "I know she wouldn't. There's justice in the end for the victims. I need to tell Jim of her talent. She can write this good at fourteen, there is no telling how far she can go as an adult. It's no wonder why she raised the bar for the rest of you."

When night fell, the tree was plugged in, everyone had taken showers and popcorn was popped and everyone sat down to watch the Christmas specials on television. Vin started to cough some, but he wasn't running a fever so Josiah let it go for now.

+ + + + + + +

Monday and Tuesday went by way to quickly for Vin and Ezra. For Vin, it was getting up in front of the of all the parents and the students of the elementary, Jr. and Sr. high schools as well as the teachers and principals. Vi told him it will be okay, and that she was scared too. They could do this together. For Ezra, performing in front of a large crowd wasn't a problem for him, in fact, he was use to it thanks to his mother. His fear was reciting a short story written by his best friend and messing it up. Abby had faith in him. He didn't want to let her down.

When it came to Vin and Vi's performance, Josiah and Jim were smiling and popping their buttons with pride.

Nettie whispered to them. "I didn't know they were so talented."

This only made their heads swell even more.

Then came Ezra's reciting of Abby's short story. Needless to say, Josiah and Jim were just as proud. Ezra's southern drawl was thick which gave the short story the little added bonus, like Vin's Texas twang did for his and Vi's song they sang. At the end of the evening, all four youths were given high praises from family, friends and even the school's faculty.

At the end of the program, the performing students were to take a poinsettia home with them. Vin chose a red one, and Ezra chose a white one.

After the Christmas program was over, Josiah and Jim took their group to the Triple D for a celebration dinner. The Well's, the Travis's, and the St. Clairs joined them. Velma Patten showed up with her two daughters, Robyn and Carrie. Josiah made the introductions.

Jim leaned over toward Josiah. "I think Ms. Patten likes you."

Josiah just smiled at his old friend.

A good time was held by all that night.

At home, Josiah sat in his recliner and listened to his sons as he sipped a cup of tea. Chris and Buck were camping out in the living and dining rooms for a few days while the basement floor dried after it got a good scrubbing to prepare it for the flooring that was going to be laid this coming weekend. The furniture that was in the basement was now in the garage. Chris was making up the couch for himself. With the Christmas tree in the living room, there wasn't enough room to pull the hide a bed out. Josiah got out the air mattress for Buck, which was sat up in the dining area.

Chris sat on the couch and shook his head. "Why do they have to make so much noise getting ready for bed?"

Buck joined Chris on the couch and handed him a can of soda. "I know what you mean."

Josiah chuckled.

"What's so funny?" Chris asked.

"That noise as you call it, is music to my ears."

Chris and Buck gave Josiah a look that said he was nuts.

"It tells me everything is as it should be."

+ + + + + + +

Jim showed Buck and Chris how to lay the floor on Saturday. On Sunday Chris and Buck chose a clear stain to stain the floor because of the different colors and types of wood that was used. It was a quick drying stain. Since Monday started Christmas break, Buck didn't have classes or job corp. That meant he and Chris could put the sealant on the wood floor. Jim told them to let it dry at least twenty four to forty eight hours before they put the furniture back down in the basement.

With school out, Josiah had his hands full keeping an eye on Vin and not letting him spend to much time outside at a time. He knew if he let him, Vin would stay outside all day and only come in to use the bathroom and eat. By the time the winter festival came, Josiah and Vin were at odds with one another.

The festival started Friday afternoon, but Josiah took his crew on Saturday since that was the day the races were held.

Vin watched the people carve the ice for a little bit then made his way over to where the races were going to be held. He was doing his best to avoid Josiah because he didn't want to go inside the building.

Chris noticed Vin was avoiding Josiah and he knew why. "Hey Vin? Why don't you go inside for a bit and warm up. You've been out here since we got here."

"I'm fine Chris," Vin said, annoyed.

Chris thought he heard a hoarseness to Vin's voice but knew Vin would only deny it if he said anything. "Promise me if you get cold, you'll go inside. I don't want you getting sick."

Vin sighed, "I promise."

Chris nodded. "Okay. Have fun, but don't over do it," Chris warned.

As soon as Chris was out of ear shot, Vin let loose the cough he was holding and moaned at the pain it caused his throat. He walked over to where they were handing out cups of hot coco and coffee for the adults. The coco felt good going down his sore throat. He wasn't feeling cold at all. Being all bundled up, he was actually sweating and felt like taking off the scarf and stocking cap Josiah made him wear. Vin was having to much fun outside to go inside the building. This being his first winter, Vin wanted to experience all of it. His favorite thing about winter is the sledding.

Ezra was hanging out with Abby. The races were a bit too loud for Ezra's taste, but Abby loved them. So, with his gloved hands over his ears to muffle the noise, Ezra watched the races with her. They enjoyed the ice sculptors on display and some of the outdoor activities before heading inside where it was warmer.

Ezra and Abby came across Vin on their way to the building. He was standing in the sledding line to go down the hill.

"Hey there Vin, you having fun?" Abby asked.

Vin nodded. "Yeah."

Ezra heard the scratchiness in Vin's voice. "Are you feeling okay, Vin?" Ezra asked, concerned.

Vin sighed, "I's fine, Ez."

Ezra laid a hand on Vin's shoulder when Vin started to leave. "Excuse me for saying so, but you do not sound fine." Ezra furrowed his brow when he felt heat coming off of Vin's coat, then noticed Vin sweating profusely. He laid his hand on Vin's forehead but felt the fever before Vin pulled away from him.

"You're burning up Vin," Ezra said, concerned for his best friend and brother.

"I'll be fine," Vin snapped."

While Ezra and Vin argued, Abby went to find Josiah. She found him over by the ice sculptors talking to the sculptors.

Josiah felt a tug on his coat sleeve and turned to see who it was. "Abby?"

"I'm sorry to bother you, Mr. Sanchez, but Ezra is in need of your help with Vin. He's really sick and giving Ezra problems about it," Abby said, worriedly wringing her hands and fingers together.

"Take me to them," Josiah said.

Abby took Josiah to where Ezra and Vin were. They were still going at one another. Josiah could tell Vin was sick by the sweating and losing his voice and listening to Ezra's words.

"Vin, you're trying to cough up a lung, you barely have a voice left to argue with, and you have a fever that's so high, you're sweating in sub zero weather. You are not fine," Ezra yelled the last part.

Josiah laid a hand on Ezra's shoulder. Ezra looked up at Josiah. "Ez, go tell the others I'm taking Vin to the emergency and I'll be back later to get them."

"I want to go with you and I know JD will too."

"Then hurry it up because I won't wait long."

Vin started to argue but was told he didn't have a say on the subject. He was going rather he wanted to or not.

Ezra was at the van in ten minutes as well as the rest of the teens.

At the hospital, Vin drops down in one of the hard plastic chairs, crosses his arms in front of him and glares at Ezra. Josiah had a clipboard and was filling out the forms when a young doctor came into the waiting room and stopped at the vending machines. Dr. Morningstar came out into the waiting area and sighed but then noticed Josiah filling out forms.

"Josiah?" Dr. Morningstar asked as he came over to stand in front of him.

Josiah looked up. "Scott."

"Which one of the boys this time?"

"Vin," Josiah sighed.

"Come on back," Dr. Morningstar said and guided Vin back to the examining rooms.

Josiah sat in on the examination. When Dr Morningstar was done he sighed, "It's his tonsils, Josiah."

"He has tonsillitis?" Josiah asked.

"Yes, and according to his medical history, Vin has had tonsillitis before, many times before as well as strep and as red and swollen as they are, I feel like a tonsillectomy is in order. It's up to you."

"Scott, if you think it's the best coarse of action, then go ahead and do it. I want what is best for Vin."

"Okay then, we'll get him prep for surgery. He'll spend the night but if everything goes right, he'll be able to go home tomorrow."

Josiah nodded and looked over at Vin. "We'll be waiting for you when it's over."

"But what about Christmas? I won't be able to eat any ham or turkey," Vin said just above a whisper.

Josiah smiled down at Vin. "Even if you didn't have the surgery, Vin, it would hurt to swallow the ham or turkey. Just think of all the ice cream and pudding you can have."

"I do like ice cream," Vin said.

Josiah followed the gurney as far as he was able then went back to the waiting room.

Ezra looked around for Vin when Josiah came back to the waiting room. "Where's Vin?"

Josiah dropped down in one of the chairs and sighed, "Going into surgery."

"Surgery? What for?" Chris asked, alarmed.

"He's having his tonsils removed. They're badly inflamed and needed to be removed."

The head nurse came over to them. "You can wait in the surgical waiting room. There's vending machines right across the hall from it and there's a flat screen TV for them to watch and the chairs are more comfortable."

The surgical waiting room was much more comfortable for the group to wait for the over two hour surgery.

Josiah stood when the doctor came in. "How did it go?"

Dr. Morningstar held up his hand. "It went real well, Josiah. He's in recovery now and soon he'll be taken to his room. A nurse will come and tell you when you can see him. He'll need to drink a lot of fluids and his throat will be sore for awhile. I recommend popsicles for awhile as well as ice cream and jell-o. Stay away from any citrus drinks with a high acid content like orange and grapefruit juices. I'll make sure you have a list of the things Vin can and can not have when you take him home tomorrow."

"Thanks Scott," Josiah said.

When the guys were able to see Vin, Vin was still out of it and didn't remember much of what was said but was happy to see everyone.

Josiah patted Vin on the arm. "We'll leave so you can get your rest."

Vin smiled and let his eyes drift closed.

+ + + + + + +

Vin got to go home the next day. He was happy he didn't miss Christmas with his family and friends three days later. There was a huge dinner with all their friends. Each one of the boys got a hand made quilt from the Ladies Quilting Bee that Nettie belongs to. Jim's three girls each got a quilt as well.

Ezra received a book and DVD on magic from Abby.

Abby smiled. "I thought the DVD would help you learn the harder tricks seeing it's from the Masked Magician."

"I am most surely going to enjoy watching it and reading my book. Thank you."

Josiah smiled at Ezra when he started to leaf through the book. "Ezra, you have other gifts to unwrap."

Ezra looked up at Josiah. "Huh?"

Buck reached over and took the book and gave Ezra a gift to unwrap. The look on Ezra's face made Vin laugh, which in turn cause some pain in Vin's throat and made him tear up.

Josiah looked at the time and saw it was time for Vin's pain meds, but before he could get up out of his recliner, Nathan had already gotten the meds and a glass of milk because they were to be taken with food.

Vin looked over at Ezra. Ezra showed him the sign for thank you. Vin copied the sign to Nathan. Nathan said you're welcome.

"I didn't know you knew sign language, Ezra," Jim said, amazed.

"He knows five other languages as well, other than English," Josiah grinned with pride.

Chris glared over at Ezra. "He can stop teaching Vin and JD. Just the other day JD said something to me and it wasn't in Spanish, because that I know. Neither of those three will tell me what it was."

"Do you remember what he said?" Asked Evie Travis, Judge Orin Travis's wife.

Chris thought for a few minutes and then repeated what he thought JD said but wasn't sure he pronounced the words right.

Ezra laughed as did JD. Evie sighed, Oh my Lord. Was it more like this?" Evie asked and said exactly what JD said.

"Yeah, that's exactly what he said. What does it mean in English" Chris said.

Evie smiled. "The reason you didn't know what kind of language it was, is it's spoken in only one country that I know of, Ireland, it's Gaelic. The only reason I know it, is because my Great Grandfather didn't know any English and only spoke Gaelic."

"So what did he say to me?" Chris really wanted to know.

Evie thought for a moment. "First, what did you say to him for him to say what he did?"

"We were doing chores..." Chris started to explain.

"He was being bossy and treating me like I didn't know what I was doing."

"Ah, thought it was something like that." Evie looked over at Chris. "The jist of it, he was calling you a tyrant."

JD was turning a beet red with every word Evie said and so was Vin and Ezra.

"A tyrant? I know what a tyrant is and I am not a tyrant." Chris glared at JD.

JD smiled up at Chris and said something in another language Chris didn't understand.

Orin raised a brow. "Josiah? What do you conceder curse words?"

Vin croaked something out and immediately covered his mouth and his eyes got huge.

Orin snapped his head towards Vin. "That was a curse word, in any language."

Josiah sat in his chair and nodded his head. "I have the feeling the swear jar should be a lot more fuller than it is." Josiah looked to Ezra, then Vin and lastly, JD when he said "New rule, English will be the only language spoken in this house. Ezra raised his hand, but Josiah just smiled and looked directly at Ezra. "American English only."

This caused a burst of laughter from the others in the room.

+ + + + + + +

Josiah turned on the lights and sat in his recliner with his tea and sighed. He looked up at the angel a top the tree with her fiber optic wings and it was as if she was smiling down at him. She looked like his Rebecca and in his head he heard her say "They are ours, my love. You need them as much as they need you. You can show the love and stability that they didn't have in their young lives.

Josiah nodded. "You're talking about Ezra, Vin and JD."

"Tonight only proved how much they still depend on each other for survival. Listen to them not only with your ears. Listen with your eyes as well as your heart. If you want them to come around, use your eyes not your ears."

"I will, Becky. I promise."

Continues in:
Chapter Eleven: Secrets

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