As the boys and Chief went up the stairs, the three adults talked about what just transpired. Doctor Doug spoke first and said he liked the interaction in the 'family' group setting with everyone taking part. The doctor told Mr. Ken he always wondered how the mix of the different ages, plus them all being from different backgrounds would work at The Cove.
The doctor finished up by saying he was pleasantly surprised at what he saw and that by seeing this he knew his job would be much easier. He told the men he felt the boys accepted their place in the home and wouldn't have to talk about their new home problems, because there didn't seem to be any, and thus they would focus on their main individual problems.
Wayne Mitchell smiled as he told his employer he was really gaining a better perspective of how the boys interacted with one another. He mentioned he saw the potential for a major uprising between the boys and Matthew and added he was happy Mr. Ken put the onus of finding a solution on them and not making him out as the bad guy in all that.
With the boys upstairs, Mr. Ken took the time to brief Doctor Doug on how Judge Terryman's suicide could affect Robert and the twins in the end. The owner of The Cove explained that Wayne and Chris were briefed fully on the situation, and would do their part to protect the boys if their dads' names were ever released to the public. Mr. Ken wanted his friend, Doctor Doug, to be prepared for some much-stressed out lads if their names ever get out into the community.
As the adults talked downstairs, Robert had all of his 'brothers' meet him in his bedroom to talk about the potential for a sleepover that coming weekend. When everyone had settled, the teenager led the meeting.
"OK, dad said we could have a sleepover with all our friends only ...only if we can figure out a place for everyone to sleep. We have our Sea World friends visiting this weekend and that could pose a problem for logistics, but right now, we need to figure out where everyone would sleep. Does anyone have any ideas?" finished the teen.
Charles tried to remember back when they had about 30 friends spend the night and where they all slept. Robert told his 'brothers' that he and his friends slept in the Theater while Charles' and the twins' friends all slept out in the Great Room. The two oldest Covers then discussed how they could add another 10 kids to the mix. Then Matthew spoke up and said for them not to forget about Bailey.
Mathew's bringing up Bailey's name caused the meeting to dissolve into a free-for-all yell-fest.
"Why do you have to invite a girl?" asked Kevin. "We've never had a girl stay here before and if she does then we all will have to wear pajamas, so we don't offend her sensitivities," sarcastically spoke Kevin.
"So ...maybe it's about time you all had girls for friends, too, instead of only boys," shot back Matthew.
"We're too young to have girlfriends!" yelled Kyle. "And besides, how would we handle where she would sleep? Since you've never been here for a sleepover you don't know what goes into setting it up and what happens. Like Kevin said we'd all have to wear pajamas and I don't know any of our friends who use them."
"So, they can all go out and buy some," quickly answered Matthew.
"That's not the point," replied Charles. "When we finish our midnight swim, we all change into our briefs and t-shirts and get our midnight snack before going to bed. We'd have to change our routine for just one person. That's not fair to the other 40 kids just so one person can be included. I'd rather not have a sleep over if we have to have this girl spoil it for the rest for us!"
When Charles finished telling everyone how he saw it, Matthew stood up ran out of the room. Chief quickly followed. The remaining boys looked at one another not knowing what to make of Matthew's running out. They thought he would want to give his side of the argument to try to convince them; not run away.
When Matthew ran out of Robert's bedroom he headed to the front stairs and ran down them heading directly to the Study. When he didn't find Mr. Ken there he started yelling, "'Dad', 'dad', 'dad'" as he ran out crying as he went.
"I'm down in the Great Room, Matthew," called out Mr. Ken,
A crying Matthew ran down the stairs even though 'Dad Ken' was telling him to slow down and not run down the stairs. When the ten year old got to the bottom he ran directly to Mr. Ken, jumped into his open lap and cried. The two other adults just watched.
"Now, what seems to be the problem, Matthew?" asked Mr. Ken.
"They don't like me. They don't want my friend Bailey to be a part of the sleepover. They say everyone will have to buy pajamas and they all will have to change their routine because of one girl. It isn't fair 'dad'," cried Matthew.
Mr. Ken did his back rub thing while letting Matthew calm down enough so they could have a composed conversation.
The boys upstairs figured Matthew went looking for Mr. Ken, so they continued to talk some more, and hopefully, about their sleepover. They talked about not only where everyone would sleep but also what the addition of the three new visitors meant for the sleepover. They discussed how many kids they thought could sleep in the Theater and out in the Great Room.
Robert and Charles asked the twins if they remembered their first sleepover. Kevin and Kyle both said they remembered all the fun they had. But, they said they didn't remember where everyone slept. Robert again reminded them that all of his friends were in the Theater and Charles's friends were under the stairs.
Kyle spoke up and said he remembered how Mr. Ken told them both to help them and their friends to get their sleeping bags set up. The younger twin added they all spread out in the Great Room, but there were 12 of them and it felt somewhat crowded. That got all four Cover lads to look again at where everyone could spread out to sleep.
As Matthew calmed down, Mr. Ken pulled the boy away from him, so he could look at him as the two talked.
"Matthew ...now ...tell me what you were all talking about and how the idea of everyone having to buy pajamas came about," asked Mr. Ken.
"Well ...first ...they wanted to know why I had to invite a girl. Then, they said they never had a girl stay here before and that if she did spend the night everyone would have to wear pajamas, so they didn't offend her. So, I told them it was time for them to have girls for friends, too. They didn't like that I said that.
"It was then they argued about everyone getting pajamas and that it wasn't fair that 40 kids had to change for just one girl. It was then that Charles said he'd rather not have a sleepover if it meant that Bailey got to be invited and have to spoil it for the rest of them," finished answering Matthew.
"Hmmm, OK, I think I know what your 'brothers' are saying," began 'dad' Ken. "So ...Matthew ...let me ask you this. Do you think one person's needs or desires should decide what everyone else does? ...Do you think it is fair to all your 'brothers' that you want to invite Bailey, even though she won't have another girl to pal around with, confide in and even sleep near, that's so she doesn't feel too out of place?"
"But, but she's my friend and ...and if they get to invite all of their friends why...why can't I invite all of mine?" argued a still sniffling Matthew.
"Yes, on the surface that sounds fair, but remember ...none of your 'brothers' have a girl for a good friend that they hang out with, even though they know girls in their class. And, Matthew, even you don't hang out with Bailey. She is a girl that you are friends with at school, but you don't hang around with her, now, do you?" said Mr. Ken, as he tried to get Matthew to see the other boys' perspectives when it came to girls.
While 'dad' Ken continued to talk with the Cove's youngest member, the other Cover lads had come down from the bedroom floor. They stopped at the top of the stairs that led down to the Great Room when they saw Mr. Ken and Matthew talking. Robert told his 'brothers' they should wait there, and stay quiet, so they didn't interrupt their 'dad's' talk with Matthew.
Matthew thought about what Mr. Ken had said. He realized he really didn't hang out with Bailey, but neither did he hang out with Brant, Ryan and Noah all that much, either. However, he then understood that he did hang around his three male friends more than with Bailey who was more of an acquaintance than a good friend. Nevertheless, he knew inside of him that he still wanted to invite Bailey
Now, after thinking about what 'dad' Ken just said, he figured he understood what Mr. Ken meant. So, Matthew looked to the man and said, "I think I know what you're saying, 'dad'. I do know Bailey, but only at school and ...and we really don't hang around together all that much. When she is with us it's because ...well, she usually comes over after talking to her other girlfriends.
"'Dad' ...I think that ...well, I think that maybe because the other girls are picking on her ...I, I feel sorry for her and ...and I want to do something for her. Was I ...was I wrong to do that?" finished Matthew, who then wiped his nose with the back of his hand.
"No, Matthew, this is not wrong at all. In fact, to me, it says you are a good and caring soul and want to do what you can to make others feel better. So ...you've decided to leave Bailey off your invite list; is that what you're telling me?" asked Mr. Ken.
Matthew looked into Mr. Ken's eyes and saw the man was focused only on him and not looking over at Doctor Doug or Mr. Wayne. That observation told the youngster the man was interested and concerned only about him and that he cared about him.
"'Dad', ahhh, Mr. Ken ...yes, I am not going to invite Bailey. But, I can still invite Brant, Ryan and Noah, right?"
"Yes, you can, that is ...if you and your 'brothers' have decided how all 41 of you will be able to sleep comfortably. If all of you can't agree on a workable solution, I'm sorry to say there will be no sleepover for all of your friends," replied Mr. Ken.
"Dad, I think we have a solution," called out Robert, from the top of the stairs just off the Foyer.
Mr. Ken looked up to see the other four of his 'sons' and called them all to come down and talk to him. When the boys arrived, they each took a seat with some sitting with Mr. Wayne on one of the sofas.
"OK, let me hear your solution," directly asked Mr. Ken.
The boys looked at one another and chose Robert to speak for them.
"Dad, well, we figured that me, my friends and Jayden could all sleep in the Theater. That makes ten of us. Then Charles and his friends, and Ryder, can spread out under the stairs as they did once before. That is another twelve. As for Kevin and Kyle, they and their friends will sleep where they all did the last time in front of the fireplace and all around it. That is another fourteen.
"Then, all we have to do then is find a space for Matthew and his three friends and Chase. That is another five. Dad, if you look along the pool wall we can use that open space for the five of them. It does give everyone their own space and other than me, Jayden and my friends, the majority are out in the open," explained Robert, on how they could accommodate all forty kids for one night.
"So, what's that ...41 kids?" asked Robert's dad.
"Yea, I think your math is correct, dad," laughed Robert. The other boys joined in the laughter.
It was then that Doug Jennings got up and thanked Mr. Ken for that wonderful dinner and then told him he thought it was time for him to go. The two shook hands and together they walked up the stairs. When the Foyer door closed, the owner of The Cove came back down to the Great Room to discuss the boys' big sleepover plans.
The boys and Mr. Ken, and Chief, of course, walked around the great Room to determine if there was enough room for a 41-boy sleepover. Mr. Ken already knew there was enough room as he knew the dimensions, and even with the stairs and elevator taking up some space, the boys should be comfortable.
"OK," started 'dad' Ken, "I think there will be enough room for Charles, Kevin, Kyle and Matthew and their friends and weekend guests to sleep out here and have enough room without being too crowded. So, now ...what you all will have to do is ...is figure out what you are going to feed all of these boys.
"You'll want to decide on what to serve as a snack before you swim and a snack for after your midnight swim. But, I see your biggest decisions will be what you're going to serve them for dinner Saturday night and then for breakfast the next morning."
"But we don't know how to do all that," quickly spoke up Kevin. "We've only had one sleepover and that was already figured out for us."
"Well, boys, it is getting late and you all need to get ready for bed, relax some and then get into your beds. You five can figure it all out between tomorrow and Saturday when your friends are here for the sleepover. You need to let me know what time they will be here, or if they are coming over at noon and staying until the next morning. Now, shoo, get up to bed," laughed 'dad' Ken.
The five lads all hugged Mr. Ken and headed up to bed. Even Chief got up on her hind legs and gave her first master a few doggie kisses before heading outside to do her business and then heading up to Mathew's bedroom to keep him company for the night.
"Well, Wayne ...this is not what usually happens when the boys want to have their friends sleep over. I wish the boys had asked me about a sleepover before tonight. It would have been much easier to plan and come up with some snacks and decide how to feed them Saturday night and Sunday morning.
"To be honest, I'm not too sure Momma Maria is going to be willing to cook for 40 plus people, though. That will be a daunting task for just one person," offered the owner of The Cove.
Wayne talked to Mr. Ken some more about the sleepover before leaving. They did agree he would take Charles to his doctor's appointment for 3 PM, the next day, and Mr. Ken would collect Kyle and take him to get his cast removed. Wayne then left The Cove for home.
The next morning, when Mr. Ken retrieved his newspaper, he immediately looked for further articles about Judge Terryman's suicide. Not finding anything, he relaxed and then got his first cup of coffee.
Mr. Ken called Momma Maria over to the kitchen table. He then told her they were having company that weekend. He told her there would be two adults and three kids ages 13, 12 and 10 and would be arriving for dinner Friday night and were leaving after lunch and a lake cruise on Sunday.
The owner of The Cove also told the woman, who makes and cooks all their meals, that the boys were going to have a sleepover Saturday night. He told her he wanted to warn her just in case the lads asked her if she could help them out. When he told her there would be 41 boys, she immediately sat down in a chair and exclaimed, "Madre de Dios!" (Mother of God!)
After a few moments of thinking about the upcoming weekend, and what it would mean to her, the woman got up from the table and went over to fix breakfast for the Covers.
When the boys came down for breakfast, they said 'Hi' to Momma Maria before saying 'Good morning' to Mr. Ken. The five lads all sat down and Momma Maria served them a warm breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast with either cold milk or orange juice.
The boys ate quietly for a while, then Kevin said, "Momma Maria ...we're planning a sleepover ahh for Saturday night and I ...well, we were wondering ...if you could fix us some snacks for before and after we swim?"
"Yesses, masters Kevins, Isss cans doos thats fors yous. Hows manys friendses doos Isss hases to makes snacks fors?" asked Momma Maria.
Kevin looked to his older 'brothers' for help in answering the woman. It was Charles who urged him on to tell her how many there would be.
"Ahh ...ahh ...we think there will be something like ahh ...41 ...boys and ...and maybe four adults," tentatively replied Kevin.
"Madre de Dios," again exclaimed Momma Maria. "Doeses that's includes yourses guestis for deese weekends?"
"I smell a rat," said Robert. "Dad, did you already tell Momma Maria about our sleepover?"
"Yes, I did. I wanted to prepare her for your request, so she can think about how, or, better still, will she want to accept the task. She would have today and tomorrow to fix all the snacks, but I have already warned you that, besides making breakfast for us and our guests on Saturday morning, cooking for 40 plus people for dinner Saturday night and breakfast on Sunday will be a very daunting task for just one person.
"So ...if she thinks cooking for that many people on Saturday and Sunday is way too much for her then ...then we'll have to come up with a Plan B, or ...or the sleepover will have to be reduced, or called off" counseled Mr. Ken.
When it was time for the lads to head up to catch the school bus, Mr. Ken told his 'boys' to let him and Momma talk over the sleepover. He also asked the boys not to mention the sleepover, just yet. He told them he wanted to make sure the Saturday night dinner and Sunday breakfast could happen, first. As he said that, he saw his new son look down as if he was caught with his hands in the cookie jar.
"Robert ...did you already make a few phone calls?" asked a smiling dad.
"Yes, sir, I did. I didn't know we weren't supposed to mention it to our friends, but all I did tell them was we were trying to figure out a way to have a super huge sleepover for Saturday night," replied Robert.
"OK, that isn't a bad thing. I guess you can ask your friends to talk to their parents and get their tentative approval. But tell them ...we won't have a decision until tonight and you can tell your friends at school tomorrow if it is a Go or NO-GO," said Mr. Ken.
"We can?" asked the twins simultaneously.
The man then told the boys that the sleepover will be over by 1 PM Sunday and they had to make sure their friends knew that. He reminded the boys he was going to take their guest's out on the lake after lunch and they would be going along.
Matthew asked if he could still tell his three friends, and when he got the go-ahead it put a great big smile on his face.
As soon as the boys arrived at their school, they each headed to meet up with their friends. The first thing they told them was they might have a big sleepover Saturday night. As Robert, Charles and the twins talked to their friends they also told them that Jayden, Ryder and Chase, and their dads, would be spending the weekend, too.
The Cover lads did remember to tell their friends that is was not set in stone, yet, but they should know later that night or by school tomorrow. They also told their friends they had to plan to leave by 1 PM on Sunday, since their dad had made plans for them and their guests for Sunday afternoon.
Matthew, never having a sleepover before, quickly told his three buddies that they might have a sleepover that Saturday night and there might be 41 kids there and they were invited, too. The four lads then talked excitedly about the possibility of a big sleepover.
Matthew told his friends he never had a sleepover, let alone one at Three Finger Cove. Matthew started to tell his friends where they would be sleeping, but then the bell rang and they had to go into the school.
Back at The Cove, Mr. Ken and Momma Maria talked about cooking dinner Friday night for nine people including him, his sons, and three guests. They then talked about Saturday breakfast for 11 people and then 45 people for dinner Saturday night and breakfast on Sunday morning. Momma told her employer that she could make it happen if she could hire two more lady friends to help with the cooking and the cleaning up.
Mr. Ken knew how much the boys wanted a sleepover and with that compromise, he felt it could make it happen. So, Mr. Ken told Momma to go ahead and hire the two woman she needed and, if need be, to have them come over on Friday to help make the two or three different kinds of snacks and possibly get things ready for Saturday morning and then dinner that night and lastly Sunday breakfast, if they could.
Mr. Ken then asked Momma Maria to make sure there was enough sodas, burgers, dogs, the buns, and plastic knives, forks, spoons and plates available for the weekend, since they are having so many people staying for the weekend.
As he finished talking to Momma Maria, he called Mr. Chris to his Study to tell him he was going over to the construction projects to check on them. He also told his Estate Manager he would be going to the school afterwards to pick up Kyle and take him to get his cast removed. Then, on his way out the door, he told Chris that Wayne was taking Charles to his doctor appointment.
When Matthew's class took their fifteen-minute morning break outside, Matthew and his three friends all headed to a quiet place to talk. Matthew told them some more about the planning for the sleepover. He told them how Mr. Ken made them figure out where everyone would sleep before he would even give them his full approval.
Matthew then made sure he told his friends that the sleepover was not fully decided yet but if it were a GO they would have to leave by 1 PM on Sunday. The Cover added his 'dad', Mr. Ken, had made plans for them and their weekend guests to go out on the lake.
The three 5th grade boys were amazed that there would be a total of 41 boys, including them, spending the night and wondered why Mr. Ken would allow that many to stay over. Matthew told them his older 'brothers' explained to him how they once had 30 kids spend the night and they had lots of fun. Hearing that story astounded the three 5th grade students.
While the four friends talked about spending the night and speculated about and what they would do, Mathew tried to explain to his friends how his foster dad told him and his 'brothers' they had to figure out what they would serve for snacks and for dinner Saturday night and for breakfast Sunday morning for about 45 people.
Matthew told Brant, Ryan and Noah he should know later that night or by school tomorrow if the sleepover was a go. He asked them to talk to their parents to find out if they could be there. The youngest Cover's three new friends said they figured that if their brothers can spend the night they should be able to, too. They all laughed as the bell rang, calling them back into the school,
At lunch, the talk, all around the school, was about the big sleepover Mr. Ken was having at The Cove that coming weekend. Many of the kids now wished they had gotten to know Mr. Ken's foster sons thinking that maybe they might have been invited, too.
The biggest talk was amongst the 5th graders. With the word getting around about the sleepover, and Matthew inviting three of his classmates, the 5th-grade class now knew where Matthew lived. Then, some of them also speculated that the new Cover might be the kid that was said to have been beaten and his back looked really bad.
Brooklyn Sippelle, Bailey Bracen's nemeses, also heard the rumors about Matthew. She knew she could cause some more havoc by directing her ire at him expecting she could also get back at Robert, for her sister Skyler, at the same time.
Brooklyn called her girlfriends together and they talked about what they could say to Matthew to get him to respond. This time Natalie approached the newest Cover to start her harassment. Brooklyn and the other followers watched
"Well, if it isn't the boy who just looovesss to be beaten!" laughed Natalie. "How does it feel now that you're not getting beaten anymore, Matty? Maybe Mr. Ken can beat you, so you don't miss it anymore!" continued a laughing Natalie, while the other girls laughed right along with her.
Then Alice spoke up and said, "At least now you won't need to get a tattoo as your back will have the real thing." The five 5th grade girls all laughed as they walked away.
Word of Matthew's harassment got back to both Robert and Charles. Lunch was not yet over, so the two Covers, along with their friends, went looking for their newest 'brother'.
"Matthew, are you OK?" asked Robert, as he and his friends came up to the ten-year-old. "We heard that some of the girls were saying things to you about your back and being beaten."
Charles and his friends, came over just then, and asked him the same question.
"Yes, I'm OK," replied the 5th grader. "Why?"
"I just heard that one of the girls in Brooklyn's circle of girlfriends came over to you and said something to you about you loving to be beaten. We don't want anyone to harass you about your back and being beaten. If they do, we want to do something to get them to stop," replied Charles.
"Well, there were two girls who did say something to me. But, but I ignored both of them. I knew ...I knew they were trying to get me mad and to say something back to them. So, I didn't react to what either of them said about my back or react to their friend's laughs. Their laughs ...that's what told me it was just their way to try to get me mad. But ...well, what can we do to stop them?" finished Matthew.
"Well, right now since it wasn't someone who's been known to harass people we can't really do anything but ...hey, hey let's go talk to Mr. Chassen and see what he says," answered Robert.
Dan Chassen was watching the schoolyard at lunchtime, as he always did, when he saw a very large group of 5th through 8th-grade boys coming his way. He knew something had to be up for that many kids to come directly to him.
"Mr. Dan, you remember my newest 'brother', Matthew. The reason we came over to you is that Natalie and Alice, two of Brooklyn's followers ...well, they just said some mean things to him about his being beaten and about his back. This is bullying as far as we're concerned and it's not right, especially after what Brooklyn's been saying to Bailey. We hope you can help us," offered Robert.
The lunch bell rang just as Mr. Chassen was going to answer the boys. So, as the boys walked away to go to their classrooms, the man told them he'd go talk to Principal Chadwick.
Later that afternoon, Mr. Ken and Mr. Wayne came to the school to retrieve their charges and take them to their doctor appointment. Again, Ms. Andrews tried to block them because they hadn't made an appointment to pick the boys up. She told them they should make the boys appointments for after school, or on the weekends. Her reasoning was so the child doesn't miss any instruction that is necessary for them to succeed in life.
Mr. Ken told Wayne he had had enough of Ms. Andrews and her penchant to thwart anyone from seeing the principal, or take their child out of school for a doctor appointment. He called Ms. Chadwick's personal phone number asking her to meet him out in the office. When she appeared, the secretary, Ms. Andrews, told the principal they hadn't made an appointment and she wouldn't let them see her.
It was then Mr. Thomas spoke up and told Ms. Chadwick, they were both there to take his boys to their doctor appointments. Principal Chadwick told Ms. Andrews to call for both boys and sign them out to the men
As Ms. Andrews reluctantly called the classrooms for the boys to come to the office, Mr. Ken called the School Board President and told Mr. Ostrowski how the secretary had again put up her roadblock to him having access to his foster sons and demanding he makes their doctor arrangements for his boys on weekends.
He told the man that was the second time in the same week that the school's secretary had caused mayhem at the school by exercising authority she did not have. The School Board President apologized to Mr. Thomas and told the man he would look into the situation and report his findings to the entire Board after the Thanksgiving Holiday.
Mr. Thomas told him that would not be acceptable and demanded they get in gear and have that meeting he was promised from the other day and he wanted it at the beginning of next week.
Mr. Ken told the Board President that he felt the secretary's actions were not in good order. Then he recapped for Mr. Ostrowski how she admitted she was the main source of the rumors that one teacher was going to be fired and a number of children would be expelled. Mr. Ken also reminded him that she had the community in an uproar, was acting like a tyrant at the school and wielded authority she did not have and needed to be replaced.
Reluctantly, John Ostrowski said he'd do what he could, but he could not guarantee the other school board members would agree to such a meeting during the Holiday week. Mr. Thomas told him he had better do something about that woman or he'd make sure the school board looked very differently next November. That said the owner of The Cove hung up.
Wayne Mitchell could not believe he heard his employer threaten the School Board President as he did. He knew the man to be a soft-spoken, focused man who always tried to keep things on an even keel and work out compromises. However, the man did not seem to want to compromise this time.
Mr. Ken saw the look on his new employee after hearing what he just said. He told Mr. Wayne he would talk to him later back at The Cove.
Just then, Charles and Kyle walked into the office. Ms. Andrews then made their signing out of the school a drawn-out chore and was deliberately doing it to make them late for their appointments.
The Owner of The Cove asked the Principal to take over the simple task, so he and his employee could take the boys to their doctor appointments. As Mr. Thomas departed the office, he told Principal Abigail Chadwick she needed to talk to her secretary and get her under control or she would be looking for a new secretary, and soon.
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