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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2233850-Skeletons-in-the-Attic---Chapter-Eleven
Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Dark · #2233850
Catrina helps the boys settle into their new life. (Catrina's POV - 1904)
Chapter Seven
One week until Christmas
Catrina’s POV.
1904




The following morning after breakfast, Catrina found herself gathered with the children in the solar room for their afternoon school lessons.

The boys, with the exception of Theodore, sprawled out on the ornate garden sofa, while the snow piled up and around the glass dome surrounding them. Placing another bundle of branches into the stove, Catrina felt she was back in the one room schoolhouse in Cannon, teaching on a cold winter’s morning.

“You have an indoor garden!” Millen squealed and clapped his hands, as he glanced around the large room, his wide eyes taking in the vast assortment of cactus, herbs and small trees.

Grasping a hold of the iron stove door, Catrina gave it a tug and slammed it shut. She placed her hand on her hip and swirled around, her long skirts swishing around her ankles.

“This is an outdoor room made special to store plants in the winter time that will freeze,” she explained. “When it rains, this room is almost magical. Frank likes to take his naps on the sofa you three are laying on, while the rain splatters on the glass ceiling.”

Theodore, who had taken a seat on one of the chairs, crossed his legs and stared hard at Catrina as Millen kept chattering.

“What does the room look like in the summer?” He asked.

“Well,” Catrina paused to remove several pieces of paper from her satchel. “In the summer, the roses are growing outside, so they crawl up, and curl around the trellises. Inside, there is still cactus and herbs. It’s hotter, so the windows are open to let in cool breezes.”

“Like the rooftop gardens in Brooklyn,” Dylan piped up beside his twin brother. “Our apartment didn’t have one. Mr. Minchie owned the top floor and he didn’t like people playing on his roof.”

“But, we did anyway,” Francis interrupted, causing all three of the boys to giggle.

Catrina caught sight of Theodore rolling his eyes at his brothers. She was hoping the conversation her husband had with Francis and Theodore last night would help the boy. He was still melancholy and difficult to read. When he walked down the stairs that morning, she greeted him and wrapped her arms around for a hug. The boy instantly froze. There was something about his soft body that tugged on her mind. All of them were gaining weight and fast. After their lunchtime nap, Catrina planned on taking another trip to Felix’s Department Store for more clothes. At the rate they were growing, all four of them would need yet another shopping trip after the holidays.

“Boys, we’re going to play a game today,” she announced, handing all of them a piece of paper, an envelope, pen and a slate. “I want the four of you to dig deep inside of you and write down twenty things you want to do when you’re older.”

Catrina raised an eyebrow, as four expressionless faces looked back at her. This would be harder than she expected. Back, when she first taught the farm children at the rickety old schoolhouse in Cannon, she played the same game. At recess time, Catrina read their lists: I don’t wanna be a sharecropper like papa, I wanna marry rich man so I can go to college, Papa wants me to marry at 14 and I don’t want too, I want to buy a house in town, I would like a new dress, I want plenty of coal in my house when I am an adult, … The lists were sad to read. While honeymooning with Frank, she asked him to write a list. He laughed, until he realized she was serious. With a sly smile, he wrote his list. His first goal, Marry the most beautiful, intelligent woman in Texas, was marked off.

“I don’t understand,” Francis tugged at his hair, which Catrina realized was a nervous habit. “We’re going back to Mr. Woodrow after Christmas and we will be living with his sons.”

Oh, that horrid man! Catrina felt like kicking the stove, which would be quite foolish. Taking a deep breath of frustration, she slowly exhaled. Her fingers shook in anger. Glancing back up at the boys, an idea formed in her head, an absolutely perfect idea. With a smile, Catrina collapsed into the empty chair between the sofa and Theodore.

“Boys,” she began, ignoring their looks of pure confusion. “You do realize that Mr. Woodrow’s sons can legally have you until you’re eighteen. You’re not their servants; you’re legally the old man’s children.”

Crossing her legs in a most un-lady-like fashion, Catrina leaned back in her chair. Technically, that is true. That evil man adopted them; therefore they’re his children, not his servants. They can legally leave when they turn eighteen.

Beside her on the sofa, Millen scrunched his face up.

“I’m confused,” he whispered.

The bewildered look on his angelic face told Catrina the boy hadn’t understood what she had said.

“She’s saying,” Theodore announced with a loud sigh, “that once we turn eighteen, we will be adults and can legally leave Mr. Woodrow. I’ll be turning eighteen first, but don’t worry. I’ll stay until all of us are of age.”

Catrina grinned. The older boy was falling right into her plan.

“And, what will you do once Millen and Dylan turn eighteen?”

The boy raised his eyebrows, and said in the most sarcastic tone Catrina had ever heard,

“I guess we will be leaving wherever it is that Mr. Woodrow’s sons live and returning to Brooklyn to find jobs.”

“What kind of jobs?” Catrina asked. She loved where this conversation was headed.

Theodore shook his head and rolled his eyes in disbelief.

“Factory, what else?”

“Is that what you want? Or, is that what you expect?” She challenged.

Before Theodore could spit out another retort, Millen squealed and clapped his hands, “I wanna own a candy story, like Mr. Tuscano in Brooklyn!”

“Write it down on that piece of paper I gave you,” Catrina gestured toward the slate Millen was holding in his hand, as Theodore promptly replied with, “That man betrayed us!”

“His wife fetched the police on us, not him,” Francis shot his brother an annoyed look.

Theodore slapped the palms of his hands on the arm rest of his chair.

“He could have stopped it!”

“Who’s Mr. Tuscano?” Catrina asked, as she stared at the boys.

Theodore met her eye, gave a growl and slumped back in the chair.

“He helped us when we had nowhere to go,” Francis murmured.

“Then he betrayed us,” Theodore shot back and shook his head.

Catrina seemed to remember their first breakfast at the house, where Theodore gave a short speech about their life. He mentioned a man named, Mr. Tuscano and how he helped them, and then the wife fetched the police.

“I seem to recall you mentioning him,” she cautiously asked. “How did he help the four of you?”

In answer to her question, Theodore crossed his arms, narrowed his eyes and stared down at his boots.

After a few seconds of silence, Catrina thought she wouldn’t get a response, when Millen whispered.
“We were living under the bridge by mama’s cemetery. He found us and took us to the room above the candy store.”

“You were living under a bridge?” Catrina’s eyes instantly widened in disbelief. “Who was with you? Was this before your mama passed?”
She had visions of the four of them and their mama living in a make-shift tent, cooking by a homemade fire. This must have been after their papa passed and before the Polish couple took them in.

Dylan continued the story. Obviously Theodore was going to remain silent.

“After the undertaker buried mama, we had nowhere to go and no money. We took what we had, and Theo decided to live under the bridge by the cemetery. Mr. Tuscano appeared one night, woke us up and told us to come with him.”

Catrina felt her mouth drop, as Francis took over the storytelling. Theodore continued to slump in his chair.

“At the attic above the candy store, Mr. Tuscano told us to keep quiet. His apartment was one below ours and his wife could hear everything. Theodore and I took turns working, while the other stayed to teach the twins.”

Francis trailed off, casting a strange look at Millen, who sat eerily silent. When he continued to speak, Catrina couldn’t help but notice the small crack in his voice.

“It was Saturday morning, the last week in September,” he began, as he picked up his pencil and began drawing figures on the piece of paper she had handed him moments ago.

“Theodore had brought home money from the factory job. We slept until noon because we were excited. In the entire month that we had lived in Mr. Tuscano’s attic, we had saved five dollars. It was enough to rent a one room on the street where mama is buried. But, I made the mistake of getting breakfast. I forgot about Mr. Tuscano warning us that his wife heard everything in the mornings-“

“I slipped from the attic window, crawled down the fire escape stairs, dropped onto to pavement below. His wife must have heard me. When I returned from the bakery, we just had enough time to eat our donuts before the police arrived to escort us to the orphanage. It was not Mr. Tuscano’s fault.” Francis paused to stare at his brother, who glared back at him. “There was nothing that man could have done and you know it.”

The two older boys seemed to be having a conversation with their eyes. Catrina glanced back and forth at them. Whatever it was, the twins were unaware. They kept coloring on their paper. Theodore tossed his head, ending their “feud.”

“Boys, how long were the four of you living on the streets?” Catrina asked. It still broke her heart that the four of them were once curled up under a bridge, behind a cemetery!

“Two weeks, maybe less.” Theodore sighed with a shrug. “It really wasn’t that bad. It was better than the orphanage.”

“Seriously?” Catrina snapped back.

“How on earth is living on the streets better than living at the orphanage?” She fumed, taking in the shocked looks on the boy’s faces. “At least at the orphanage you have heat, clean clothes and three meals to eat everyday!”

All four of the brothers turned to look at one another, and to Catrina’s disbelief, they burst out laughing.

“You forgot the beatings we got,” Francis laughed.

“Mr. Schweighofer would take our food and dump it on our head if we were caught talking at supper time,” Millen squealed.

“We woke up every morning with bed bug bites,” Dylan chimed in, as he bounced up and down next to his twin brother. “Rats! Large ones ran across our beds at night!”

Catrina stood staring at the boys as the continued to giggle and announce the hardships of the orphanage. Theodore kept silent the entire time. She noted he sat ramrod still, hands neatly in his lap, as he listened to his siblings talk about life at the orphanage.

“Roaches in the food!”

“Lice in the tub!”

“Getting pinched by the older boys!”

“Our clothes were washed once a month, so Theodore came up with the idea of bathing with them on, so they would at least get sort-a clean!”

At the last remark, Catrina caught Theodore casting a sly smirk at his brothers.

“I always took a bath with my under clothes on,” he announced, causing the other three to once again burst into uncontrollable giggling.

Something was going on here, she could feel it. The boys were obviously keeping her from knowing more about Mr. Tuscano, the orphanage and living on the streets. The two older ones seemed to know more than the twins. The strange candy store owner intrigued her. She wanted to know more about him. Why did the man allow his wife to fetch the police on the boys? Why was she so horrid as to refuse to allow them to stay with them? If this man was friends with the O’Connor family, why didn’t Molly move in with them after her husband passed away? There were so many unanswered questions.

Mr. Woodrow obviously knew nothing about the boys except their names, ages and the fact that both parents were dead. His sons were in town. Thank goodness for that. Perhaps the two could talk some sense into the old man? Her blood boiled still thinking about how she caught him yelling at the boys two weeks ago. The threadbare clothing they wore, and the way their faces were red from the cold. When she picked Millen up and placed him in her lap, his head slumped onto her fur coat. His body felt like the rag dolls the country girls up in Cannon had.
What on earth was that man thinking?

Looking over at the boys, as they laughed and talked about their horrible encounters, Catrina had an idea. Why hadn’t she thought of it before? It was perfect and made sense. It was also very legal. Mr. Woodrow, nor his two sons, would have zero power over the boys once they turned eighteen. Where would they go then? She doubted they would be getting paid for their “services” since they were legally adopted and not servants.

Catrina took her own slate and chalk from the table in front of them.

“Boys, I have an idea,” she gathered Francis to her and gestured toward Theodore to move his chair closer.
The older boy blinked, but did as he was told.

“You know, Frank and I have this huge house all to ourselves,” she trailed off, searching the boy’s faces for any kind of emotion. Finding none, she continued.

“Mr. Woodrow did a wicked thing, he also did a smart thing - he just hasn’t figured it out yet.”

Catrina paused, and felt Millen settling down beside her. The twins had gained Catrina’s trust, while the older two still looked at her as if she had a hidden agenda. Hopefully, what she said next would calm their fears.

“Mr. Woodrow legally adopted the four of you to be servants for his two college-bound sons,” she continued. “By doing this, he has made himself your legal guardian and father. Therefore, when you go to live with his sons, you will be their siblings, not their servants. By law, the four of you have the right to leave them once you turn eighteen. These men will not be paying you in the years you will be living and working for them. Why would he pay his own children to “help” his children? When you turn eighteen, you will be free to leave, but you will have no money. Am I correct?”

“I-I,” Theodore gasped.

Catrina felt Millen’s fingers wrap tightly around her own, as she watched the oldest boy’s face slowly turn red in anger. It finally dawned on him what Mr. Woodrow’s hidden agenda was. She and Frank figured it out the first night the boys stayed with them. They were up in their room talking, while the children slept off all the heavy medicine Dr. Alexander slipped in their soup before they brought it up.

“But, I have an idea,” Catrina whispered, her voice calm and sweet.

Theodore still sat beside Francis, his fingers visibly shaking in anger.

“You can come live with us when you turn eighteen.”

Instantly all eyes were on her, and she felt elated.

“This morning, I read in the newspaper gossip column that Mr. Woodrow’s sons are actually attending college here in Sherwood, instead of Harvard up north. That means that the four of you will be living with them, possibly here on the opposite end of Crockett Street where the older, grander, homes are. Frank and I will see you often-“

“Theodore, you will be turning eighteen first. You’re most welcome to come live with me and my husband until all three of your brothers reach eighteen. Once all four of you are of age, ya’ll are still welcome to live with us until you find jobs, your own house and money saved up. You won’t owe us anything. We wish for you four to be safe out there in the real world. Now, how does that sound?”

A great pause filled the room. Catrina started to worry that the boys didn’t understand her offering. How could she make them realize that her and Frank wanted them to be safe?

“You mean it?”

Looking down, she saw Millen snuggling up beside her, his eyes sparkling with excitement.

“We can live with you when we get older and not be your servants?”

It took great control for Catrina not to scream. The boys actually believed that’s what they were here on this earth for. Servitude? The days and hours of Bible lessons and they still believed it? The drilling over and over into their heads that, “you are what you believe.”They still believed it. Incredible. Staring deep into the boy’s eyes, she wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into her lap.

“You and your brothers are always welcome in my house.” Catrina rested her chin on the top of the boy’s head, her mouth gasping at how soft, and silky his hair felt. “The four of you will never be servants in my house. Do you understand? Frank and I will treat and continue to treat you all with respect.”

Francis let out a squeal, followed by Dylan. The boys crawled across the sofa toward her, chattering excitedly. The energy in the air changed. The feeling of dread was replaced with rejoicing.

“We can really move in with you?”

“I can have any job I want and not to have to pay you and Frank anything?”

“Can I go to school?”

Catrina reached out to pat Francis on the head.

“Of course, darling, any college you want.”

Theodore, who had been sitting in silence, absorbing the scene, finally spoke.

“What about our parents in Brooklyn? What about Mr. Tuscano? Don’t you think he needs to know where we are, Francis?”

“Huh?”The color drained from the boy’s face.

“Our parent’s back in that cemetery in Brooklyn,” Theodore continued. Catrina noticed the cat-like look of satisfaction on his face.

“We made a promise the night before boarding the train that we would return to Brooklyn someday to rent a house on the street near the cemetery. Oh, and don’t forget Mr. Tuscano. He should know what happened to us. Don’t you think?”

{i]What was so important about that man? Catrina fumed, as she watched Francis blink repeatedly in disbelief.

“I-I, I think that the two of us will have enough money saved up to move to Brooklyn once the twins reach eighteen.” He said.

“Yes!” The twins squealed together, as they bounced on the sofa.

Catrina pulled them both closer to her and noticed how darker Millen’s complexion was towards Dylan. They must not be identical twins.

“What about Mr. Tuscano?” Theodore continued, his eyes gleaming like a cat cornering a rat. “If there was only a way to communicate with him? That poor man must be scared to death wondering what happened to us.”

“I’m not running away,” Francis whispered back, his eyes glaring at his brother.

Theodore’s face reeled like he had been hit. His eyes narrowed, his mouth set in a firm line.

Catrina knew she had to say something. Were the boys planning on running away? Oh, god, she hoped not. They were scared about Mr. Woodrow and his sons. For the past two weeks her and Frank tried to convince the four of them that everything would be already. It wasn’t working! She had to think of something.

“Why don’t the four of you write him a letter telling him where you’re at?” She took a spare piece of paper from the table.

“You can even use Frank’s expensive stationary. Just dictate to me what you want to say, and I will write it down. If he is a good friend of your parents, then he should know what happened. I don’t want that poor man sick with worry.”

Millen placed his thumb in his mouth and bit down on the nail.

“We don’t know his address.”

“Oh,” Catrina tossed her head. “It shouldn’t be that difficult. Do you know what street you lived on in Brooklyn?”

“Twenty-third and Vine!” Dylan piped up. “Mr. Tuscano’s candy shop was across the way!”

“Was he the only candy shop in the area?” Catrina answered back. She was thrilled they were getting back to the original topic.

“Yes,” Millen giggled.

“Well, then,” Catrina placed the paper on the slate and wrote Mr. Tuscano’s address on top. “Why don’t you boys tell me what I should say to him? Then I’ll copy it onto a nicer piece of stationary.”

“Yes,” Theodore crossed his legs. “Tell the man the whole truth,” he spat sarcastically. “He’ll be so thrilled that we were adopted for slave labor.”

Casting a look of annoyance at the older sibling, Catrina began to write down sentences.

“Tell him I miss his fudge!”

“Tell him I arrived in Sherwood sick, but the doctor made me better!”

“Tell him we have new clothes and boots!”

“Tell him that we’re learning to read and write and Bible study!”

Catrina swiftly wrote down the sentences that the three boys shouted at her, while Theodore sat oddly still. She would have to talk to her husband tonight about nailing the windows shut. She hoped to God they didn’t plan on running away on Christmas Eve!


**


After lunch and a short nap, the boys bundled up and followed Catrina downtown. Tucked away in her dressing table were four sealed envelopes from the boys detailing what they wanted when they turned eighteen. It took a lot of coaxing from Theodore, but the boy scribbled a few lines on the paper, folded it up and sealed it into an envelope. The look on his face told her that he believed she would open the letter that night. Catrina would not. The letters were going to be kept a secret until each child turned eighteen.

“When will Mr. Tuscano get the letter?” Millen bounced up in the snow, as he watched Catrina remove the letter from her coat pocket and slide it into the mailbox across from the courthouse.

“Probably after Christmas.” She nodded and hoped. The address read:

Joseph Tuscano
Candy Store Owner
Near 23rd and Vine
Brooklyn, New York

She had used Frank’s floral shop as the return address in case the letter didn’t reach the man, or worse, his wife wrote Return to Sender, on the envelope. She didn’t wish to disappoint the boys.

After placing an order at Hanson’s Bakery for sweet bread,, Catrina took the boys to Felix's Department Store and spent a few hours trying on new clothes. Benjamin Felix took the clothing to the back stockroom to be wrapped up, and later he would deliver them to their door. To Catrina’s annoyance, Theodore kept himself locked in a private dressing room, while the other three boys shared one. She still couldn’t figure out what the boy’s problem was? Her husband had spoken to the older boys the night before and Theodore still acted unusual.

As the afternoon sun began its descent, Catrina led the boys on their short walk home. Gazing around, she noticed her cheery little town was officially decorated for Christmas. Colorful velvet bows, fresh garlands and ornaments decorated the lamp posts and windows. Even the carriages sported exquisite bells and fresh colors of paint. She couldn’t help but notice Theodore’s eyes traveling over the holiday advertisements on the sides of the buildings. The summer prices had been scrubbed off with turpentine, and just last week, a painter went around touching up the buildings with the current seasonal prices. Up on the horizon, she spotted her husband sitting on one of the wicker chairs on their front porch, completely oblivious to the chilly air surrounding him.

“Is he crazy?” Catrina reached down to take a hold of each of the twin’s hands. “He’s going to catch pneumonia!”

The five of them swiftly crossed the street, their boots crunching on the ice and snow.

“What is wrong with you?” She called out with a laugh, as the twins squealed in amusement. “I don’t want you in the hospital on Christmas morning!”

Racing up the steps, she noticed the unusual look on Frank’s face. The half smile he threw in their direction.

“I haven’t been waiting long.”

He stood up and brushed out his coat and faced the children. Catrina noticed his unusual posture and puffy eyes. Oh, dear God! It’s that horrid man!

“Boys,” his lips pressed down in a tight smile, as he folded his arms behind him. “The cook is preparing potato soup, bean casserole, and bread from Hanson’s Bakery. It was dropped off a few minutes before you arrived. Why don’t the four of you head upstairs, take your baths and dress for dinner? Catrina and I need to head back to town. I promise, we will not be gone over an hour.”

Four nervous children stared back. Catrina felt herself placing her hands upon her hips. A deep hatred for Mr. Woodrow filled her body and soul. She just knew he was behind this.

“Darlings, would ya’ll, please?”

With a forced smile, Catrina reached out to open the front door. The warmth of the multiple downstairs fireplaces and aroma of soup and casserole filled the air.

“Please take your baths. We will be home before you know it.”

The twins cautiously stepped inside, removed their boots, and then took off up the carpeted steps. Francis wouldn’t make eye contact as he nervously crossed the threshold to do the same. Theo met Catrina’s eyes. The boy threw a fake smile, shook his head in an arrogant matter and slipped inside.

Once the door was shut tightly behind them, Catrina turned to her husband.

“Are you positive you talked to Theo last night?” She huffed, as they made their way over to the barn. She noticed that the stable owner had their carriage waiting. Her favorite horse, Midnight, tossed his black mane and gave a snort upon seeing them.

“Of course, I did,” Frank nodded to their driver and opened the carriage door for his wife.

“Theodore and Francis are coming of age, and I was once like them. They need guidance and a real father in their life, unlike…”

“Personal servants to…” Catrina interrupted.

“My point exactly.”Frank finished.

Once they were comfortable in the carriage, the driver softly slapped Midnight’s reigns, and the carriage began its journey,

“I’m positive you’ve figured out where we’re headed,” her husband called out, as they crossed the trolley tracks.

Catrina gave a shudder. She felt Frank pat her arm in reassurance.

“I believe Theodore figured it out as well.”

Her husband let out a sigh, and turned toward the window.

“I’m nervous as to what his children will say.”

Catrina rolled her eyes.

“You know damn well,” she shot him an ugly look.

“Well, this is it, darling,” he let out another sigh. “Edward and Arthur have either accepted them, or rejected their father’s…gift.”

A shudder of disgust ran through Catrina’s petite body at the word, “gift.”

“I’m going to kill every single one of them,” she hissed.

The carriage came to a slow stop in front of Mr. Woodrow’s office. Like the other night, she could see all three of them through the small window.

“Wait,” Catrina reached for her husband’s hand, and pointed out the carriage window to another carriage that pulled up beside them. “Is that who I think it is?”

Tossing her hair, Catrina opened the carriage door, and stepped down into the ankle deep snow. Her husband followed swiftly behind.

“Good afternoon,” the tall man nodded his head and smoothed down his fur coat. “Mr. Woodrow has sent for me.”

“Judge Carson,” Catrina reached out to shake the man’s hand. The world seemed to race around her in a haze of Christmas colors from the shop windows. The judge! This man had been summoned to sign the paperwork! Mr. Woodrow was allowing Edward and Arthur to legally adopt the boys. Her knees felt weak.

“Darling, are you ill?” She felt her husband’s arms on her shoulders.

Giving a small shake of her head, she allowed the men to escort her to the building. It was done. Edward and Arthur were going to legally adopt the boys! The judge was here to sign the paperwork. Frank and Catrina had only been summoned so they could hear the news. There was no other explanation.


**


An hour later, Catrina sat in the backseat of the carriage as it began its descent back to their house. She leaned against her husband, her lace handkerchief wadded in her gloved hands, streams of tears racing down her cold face.

“Darling, don’t let the boys see you cry,” Frank whispered, as their house appeared. “They’ll believe something is wrong.”

With a few sniffles, Catrina brushed her face and composed herself.

“Are we informing them on Christmas Eve?”

“When I return from New York,” Frank turned, and gave a half-smile, “I don’t think we have a choice.”

The first half of the hour was spent with a flurry of signing paperwork. Mr. Woodrow stiffly signed his name and left. Catrina couldn’t even speak to the man, her husband, or Edward and Andrew. When it hit her what had happened, she excused herself, went into the secretary’s office, threw herself down on the ornate couch and sobbed hysterically. It took the last part of the hour to compose herself. By then, Judge Carson and the brothers had left.

“Am I dreaming?” Catrina asked aloud, as the carriage pulled into the stable. “This has to be a dream?”

Frank kissed her on the side of her face.

“Darling, it’s not a dream,” he sighed, and opened his door. “And, now I have to go to New York for the next few days.”

“It’s going to be lonely without you,” she followed him from the carriage.

The stable was located behind the house. She could see Mrs. Coffey and the boys helping through the kitchen window. They looked so carefree, as they helped place the silverware on the table.

“I can’t even stay for dinner,” Frank whispered. “I’ll eat on the train.”

Catrina took a hold of her husband’s hand, as they walked across the manicured lawn to the kitchen door.

“I’ll prepare a basket of food while you pack.”

They approached the back door, and waved to the boys through the windows. Behind the glass, they watched Millen give a squeal, as he hurried to let them in. The other boys stood stiff in the background.

Frank turned toward his wife.

“Throw some of those cookies in there. The ones the boys made yesterday.”

Catrina sniffled at the sound of the key inserting the lock. She reached for her handkerchief and pressed it to her face. Frank reached out to squeeze her hand.

“The cookies will remind me of why I’m going to New York in the first place.”


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