Chapter Fifteen

After that, I promptly dropped out of school and started the G.E.D. program. I got a job at the Whataburger and the Movie Gallery in town, but I was constantly on the search for a higher paying job. Richard and I both gave up our apartments and we got one of the large apartments from Joan with my real license this time. I didn't tell Child Protective Services that I was gay and Richard was just a roommate as far as they knew. We were good friends, to which Joan would testify along with all of Richard's friends and my own, and we had started to live together only because I was going to take in my little sister which meant that I had the support of another to care for the baby, an extra income, and we had enough room for all three of us to have a bedroom, small though they were.

Mickey, who revealed that he wasn't as poor as he made others believe, having a bank account that he barely used though it was filled with money, gave Richard and I some money to buy baby furniture, after all, it wasn't like I was going to be having a baby shower. It was interesting going shopping for baby clothes, changing table, crib, bottles, baby wipes, and toys, even buying a couple of baby books because I was totally lost. We even went ahead and got a high chair, knowing that we would need it pretty quickly and we had the money then. Before long we had made a very nice nursery for my little sister. Nothing was terribly expensive so the crib wasn't especially beautiful, but she wouldn't be able to stick her head through the bars and it was plenty sturdy and the bedding was comfortable. I even went about baby proofing the apartment as best I could, to the approval of the case worker.

My life was inspected thoroughly, luckily though I had never been arrested for anything and so they didn't know about my prostitution, my drinking, my drugging, and smoking wasn't illegal and I started to go outside to smoke. I had decided that I wouldn't drink anymore and I wouldn't do drugs anymore, after all, my life was greatly improved, stressful, but improved. To Richard's disappointment though, I didn't stop smoking though, he didn't nag me on it though, after all, I was changing a lot about myself. I guess he figured he would deal with that problem later.

I wrote back to my mother and told her that I was going to take the baby and keep her. I also told her that if she ever got out of prison, that I wasn't going to give back custody. If we were going to do this, I wasn't going to let her have control, after all, I couldn't trust her so easily.

She wrote back saying she understood and it was probably best that way. Whether I could believe her or not, I don't know, but either way I wasn't stopping and if it came down to it, I would fight for custody or flee with my little sister, whatever it came down to.

The call from CPS came that my mother had gone into labor and Richard and I got into his car and drove as fast as we could to Dallas again. We had already packed a bag so that we could spend a couple of days in Dallas if needed, knowing that my mom was going to give birth soon and had already strapped a car seat in the back of the vehicle. When we got to the hospital, my mother was in the middle of delivering her baby and so we were forced to wait in the waiting room.

For hours we waited and it drove me crazy. Richard sat, patiently with a book and I did my best to sit beside him and doodle in a little sketchbook that he had gotten me, but I often abandoned it in the seat to stand and pace. I walked around, getting drinks out of the soda machine and obsessively sipped on them, resulting in me needing to go to the bathroom constantly. I must have washed my hands forty times that night and I would stand at the sink for an extra long time, just to take up a couple more minutes. We had arrived about seven o'clock in the evening and we were still waiting at five o'clock in the morning and at five twenty seven, a doctor finally came and told me that my mother had just given birth to a little baby girl and allowed me to see my mother and little sister.

My mother was holding the little bundle of pink in her arms, gently cooing and smiling as she stared at the delicate fragile creature in her arms. She looked tired and her hair had plastered around her face as she had been sweating quite a lot. Despite that though, she seemed very happy to have the little baby out of her, I could tell. She looked up at me and smiled. "Hey little girl, don't you want to meet your big brother?" she asked as she tilted the baby outwards for me to look at. "See, this is Joshua, your big brother, he's going to be taking care of you," she said, smiling at the little girl.

My little sister was a tiny thing that had a light amount of blonde peach fuzz on her head. Her eyes were closed and she was very quiet as she laid there. Her skin was a rosy and warm color and she was probably the cutest little baby I had ever seen.

"Do you want to hold her?" my mom asked me.

I stared at the little girl for a moment longer. "Y-Yeah…um sure," I said, hesitant to take her, but knowing that I would have to get used it. With my mother's guidance I held the little baby, taking her into my arms and being mindful of her head. She was so damn breakable and small and I was worried I'd kill her seconds after birth.

"What are you going to name her?" I asked.

"I don't really know. What do you think? After all you're going to be the one taking care of her," she said.

I thought of naming her Rebecca, but I quickly thought against it. I didn't want to give my little sister any reason to aspire to be like her mother. "How about Summer Amy Ford?" I asked.

She blinked. "That sounds good. Where'd you get that?"

"I just like the name Summer and Amy is a friend of mine. She's got a real good head on her shoulders," I said.

My mother smiled. "Sounds wonderful," she said.

A while later, as my mother was resting up, Summer was taken to the nursery where I and Richard were standing by the window watching her.

"She's beautiful," Richard said.

"Yeah…we named her Summer Amy Ford," I said.

"That's a great name too. It suits her, I think," he said, looking to me and smiling. "Oh looked she has her eyes opened!" he said excitedly, waving at the little girl.

I looked at her and smiled as I saw that she had the same eyes as my mother, they were the same eyes that I had, a bright blue that I knew would darken over time. I waved at her with Joshua and she simply closed her eyes again, bored of us already.

"She's adorable," I said smiling as I looked down at her. "She's really going to go places. I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure she grows up happy, healthy, and smart. She's going to do a lot of good in the world," I said, looking up at Richard.

Richard's face was a mirror of mine, gazing in happy wonder at the little girl. "Yeah, she is, she's going to be a great person. I'll do everything that I can to help you make sure of that Joshua," he said.

"We'll make great parents. No boys until you're thirty-five" I said to her, chuckling, my cheeks starting to hurt as I had smiled and laughed far too much since meeting my little sister. I then looked around, making sure that there were no watching eyes and leaned up to kiss Richard on the lips.

After we finally took Rachel back to West Town we were visited by CPS. For about six months Richard and I played roommates for them, knowing that they wouldn't let me keep her if I was gay, whether Richard was my lover or not.

I had never been so stressed as in that time. I was working two jobs, going to G.E.D. classes at the junior college in town, and taking care of Summer. You don't know disgusting until you've dealt with dirty diapers and projectile vomiting all in the same day. Joan was an amazing help as she had raised two of her own children and was happy to babysit for us. The woman was a crotchety old saint and she could keep up better with Summer than I could and she was on a cane! I guess there was no substitute for experience and Summer absolutely loved her and when she started to talk she called her gramma.

Life got even more hectic as Summer grew. She started to crawl and then to walk and Richard and I were constantly chasing after her. She hated to take baths but loved to get dirty. She always seemed upset and fussy whenever it rained and she was usually happiest whenever she was outside on a bright and warm day.

Whenever I got my G.E.D., which only took me a month as I finally started to actually apply myself to my work and found that I was actually kind of smart, I quickly started going to school at the junior college using financial aid. When I first started I realized that I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do, but I found that I was actually considered a good artist whenever I took an art class, so I decided to pursue that. I worried though for a while about it, after all being an art major is more expensive as you have to buy all the materials for it and it didn't necessarily end in a job. I often asked Richard if I should choose something else, but he said no, that we would find the money for it and that he had faith that I would find a good paying job.

I went every semester, spring, summer, and fall, and worked my tail off. I got a lot of B's, a couple of C's for in subjects like science, but I also got several A's. By the time that I had finished at the junior college and got my associate's degree, Richard was just shy of getting his bachelor's. He was majoring in computer sciences and ended up with a great job as a technician for a local computer store in town and he was rather happy working there.

I, in the meantime, got myself accepted to the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa which was about two hours away. Luckily we had gained internet by that point and so it wasn't a lot of trouble for me to start going there, taking a lot of classes online.

Around this time Richard and I had our wedding. No, we couldn't get legally married, Texas was against us, but it didn't really matter. I didn't need a piece of paper that said we were married, a lot of people had that piece of paper and it didn't seem to do them any good. I was just happy to do it. We bought matching silver wedding rings and their only decoration inside was that they both said "I love you."

I ended up getting my Bachelor's in art and got a job at an advertising agency and it paid rather well. Richard had stayed with the little store, but still got decent pay. We moved out of the apartment building, and into a small, but nice house, but kept visiting Joan and having her come and visit on various holidays, birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, after all, she was gramma. Summer didn't lose her gramma until she was twenty-three years old, that was when Joan was ninety-six years old and was forced to give into her age and she died in her sleep.

I started to reconcile with my father soon after Summer was born and I would go to see him and Lisa now and again. I asked Scott and his wife to help take care of her sometimes. I wrestled with whether or not I should have Summer call Scott dad, and I ended up deciding that she could just call him Scott, otherwise it would get rather confusing for her when she got older.

My mother got out of prison for good behavior after seven years. I had never kept it a secret from Summer where her mother was, though of course I didn't tell her what for until she was a lot older, and I even drove her up to see her mother whenever we had the spare time. Whenever my mom got out she had to stay at a halfway house for a while before she finally came back to West Town. I had gone up to get her and whenever she came back to the house, Summer was waiting in the entry hall.

My mother smiled at her little girl a little hesitantly.

"Hey Summer. Mommy's home," she said.

"Hi mommy," Summer said, a little afraid and shy, after all this was the first time that she had ever seen her mother free and not in an orange jumpsuit.

"I'm going to be staying here for a while. Is that okay?" my mom said and it was true. I agreed to let my mother stay for at least six months as long as she made the effort of finding a job . I told her though that I didn't want her actually living at the house, that Richard and I had made a good life with Summer and that I wasn't going to trust her for a long time so she needed to be on the lookout for a house of her own. My mom was upset about it, but she never said anything, she knew she didn't call the shots.

"Joshua already said you was going to," she said rocking on her feet, staring at the floor.

"Well if you want, I can leave," my mother said.

"No…you can stay. But don't make my big brother sad!" she said, looking up at our mother. "I won't let you, okay?" she said.

"Yes, of course Summer. I never want to make Joshua sad again," my mother said.

Summer smiled brightly. "Then you can stay," she said giving mom a hug and then running out the back door to go play.

"Why don't you go into the kitchen, it's just down hall, and I'll put your stuff up in your room," I said.

My mom nodded and I went to put her things away. Whenever I came back downstairs I found my mother standing at the window and looking outside at Summer playing outside. She was smiling gently.

I let her stay in her own little world and made some coffee. I poured out two cups and came over, handing her one. She took it, smiling and sipping on it.

"God, I forgot how good coffee could actually be," she said.

"We have real food here too," I said smiling.

She smiled back and then looked out the window. "You've done a really good job with her Joshua. I knew I was doing the right thing when I asked you to take care of her," she said.

"I did what I could. She gets teased a lot that I'm the one who raises her and it's also kind of hard on her that I'm gay, after all, it's rather well known that Richard and I are a couple, at least now," I said.

"She's still happy though," my mother said, taking another sip of coffee. "Thank you for bringing me here," she said.

"Well I figured it would be good for you and for Summer, and I know I sound like a broken record, but you fall into your old ways, and your gone," I said.

"I know. I know, I don't intend to ever let myself to go back to that. I'm too old and you two…well you don't need me, but I need you and at this point, I couldn't dare to think of my life without you or Summer," she said, pausing. "I'm sorry Joshua. I…I really am. I don't know what the hell I was thinking whenever I left you with Bill, I just…" tears were threatening to burn her eyes.

I placed a hand on her shoulder. "It's alright, mom. I…I won't say that I'm not still a little sore about it, but I'm happy now, what happened then, doesn't matter anymore. What matters is that we do what's best for Summer," I said.

She paused again, but nodded. "You're right," she said wiping her eyes.

The next day she went out job hunting. My mother stayed with us for nearly a year until she could afford her own place. While Summer was sad to see her go, we promised her that she would see her mother often. For me it was rather bittersweet to not have my mom around again, but I was glad that she was out of the house as it had been even harder to have a sex life.

Mickey during all this time had gotten married, as he said he would. The woman he married was a fairly nice girl named Christie and somehow they ended up having a little girl named Arabella. After five years of marriage though, Mickey's father Luke, died of a heart attack. Mickey and Christie filed for divorce the day after the funeral. They had parted amiably, Christie and he deciding to share custody, after all, they both loved the little girl and they didn't see any reason to keep the other from the child.

Mickey took over Luke's business and he had actually made it flourish, doubling it's income in a few short years. It was amazing how good he was at business.

Mickey later met a young man named Lucas, another wealthy son, who was a few years Mickey's junior. They got married happily, once again they simply had the ceremony, not the actual license, and adopted three children, two of them twins, and they were all boys. I'm not exactly sure how they did it, after all, they were never shy about the fact that they were gay, but I guess if you have the money, you can do just about anything. After Christie got married, Arabella was proud to say that she had three daddies.

Amy and Danny never got married, as I knew they wouldn't. Danny couldn't ever give up the memory of Milo, he knew that he would never be as happy as he had been with the little blonde and that Amy could never replace that special place in his heart, so he pretty much avoided dating, love, and marriage all together. Amy understood and said nothing about it, just happy to have Danny help her take care of the baby.

Amy had a little boy and they named him Milo Beloved Pierce. The "beloved" was Amy's idea. Danny was a very good father and took care of Milo as often as he could. He got a better paying job as, believe it or not, a police officer, and helped out as much as he could. He used some of his money to fix up his house and make it safe for his little boy, but he never moved out of the house where Milo was buried. He even went out and bought a real tombstone for the grave that said "Milo Pierce" and underneath that it said "The Angel that walked on the Earth." Eventually, long into the future, he would be buried right next to Milo which was his last wish in his will.

Amy got married to a man named Jacob and they had a little girl named Maria. The relationship didn't last long though as he was rather jealous of Amy's relationship with Danny, believing that Amy still had feelings for him, which was probably true. Amy divorced him and three years after that, got married again to a black man named Mitchell and they had two more children together, Rachel and Hailey.

We kept up with each other, spending holidays together and things like that. None of us ever made the big time or anything, but we all did well for ourselves and the various children in our lives got along great.

"Joshua," my little sister said as I looked up from my work at the canvas. Since my days in college I had started to pursue my talent for art not just in my work, but in my spare time and found that I liked to paint and draw and in my spare time I would actually start drawing comics for fun.

I smiled at my little sister. "Yeah, Summer, what is it that you want?" I asked.

Summer was fifteen years old. She was a couple inches shorter than I was and had fair skin. She was a blonde girl with dark blue eyes, just like me. I couldn't believe that it had already been fifteen years since she had been in my arms at the hospital.

When Summer had turned ten and my mother had been clean and sober for three years, I had started to let her go over to stay with my mother. The first thing that Summer did was help my mother in decorating the bedroom that our mom had set aside for Summer's visits. Three years may sound like a long time and I was probably being a little over protective, but I had seen how easy it was to fall into one's old bad habits and I wasn't going to let that affect Summer. I just wanted to be cautious, despite my little sister's impatience.

Summer, unfortunately, was getting interested in boys. Richard and I had gone back and forth fighting over whether Summer should be allowed to date at fifteen. I was against it, but Richard had said that it was natural. Richard finally won out and in the end, I let Summer go, but only after I had had a very long and in depth talk about sex, boys, and abstinence…hinting at celibacy from time to time. I had even told Summer, that both her mother and I had been prostitutes.

She had been completely shocked and for a while I was worried that I might have told her too much or at least too soon, but she came to accept it. I told her how horrible it was and I told her that she didn't need to let herself fall into that. She had known that her father was unknown for a few years now and I finally explained why. It hurt Summer to hear that her father didn't even know she existed but she had told me that I was a better dad anyways and she had hugged me.

"Well, you see," she said, coming into the room, "I was wondering about going to a party on Friday, with Milo," she said.

The only good thing about her dating was that she was dating Milo. Milo was a lot like his dad, though didn't have near as many of his bad habits, save for the temper. I knew at least that Danny had told Milo of the dangers of sex, told him what had happened to him and Amy and how hard that had been on Amy. I knew that Danny had imparted on Milo the knowledge of how to treat a girl. I also knew that Danny would probably castrate his own son if he had made the same mistake that Danny had, especially when they were both so young.

I frowned heavily either way. "I don't know Summer," I sighed.

I was starting to feel old. I was thirty-three and this little girl was driving me up the walls. She had started to ask me about sex, love, marriage, condoms, and the meaning of the universe and each time I thought I might have a fucking heart attack.

"Please Joshua! I'll be good, I promise! I'll be home by twelve!"

I gave her a withering look.

"Alright eleven," she said.

I frowned still, rubbing my chin. "Ten thirty and you've got yourself a deal."

She squealed a little and wrapped her arms around me. "Thank you Joshua, and I promise, no drinking, drugs, or sex," she said proudly and I knew that I could trust her.

Her relationship with Milo would be on and off, on and off, for several years until she was twenty-two and she finally tied the knot with him. It was a beautiful ceremony and she and Milo, I knew, were going to have many beautiful children together. My little sister was now, Summer Amy Pierce.

As I walked back into my house after the long, but loving ceremony of my little sister and her husband, I kicked off my shoes and fell onto the couch, putting my feet up on the coffee table. I was forty. Whenever I was a teenager, even in my wildest dreams, I never thought that I would reach forty. I smiled as Richard walked into the room, his own shoes already kicked off and his tie undone and in his hands were two cups of coffee.

We sat down together on the couch and I snuggled up to his side, sipping on my coffee.

"How many times do I have to tell you not to put your feet on the coffee table?" he asked, frowning a little.

"It's not that you have to keep asking, it's that I'm not listening," I chuckled.

He laughed at me and kissed me on the lips, petting my hair.

"God you're insufferable," he said.

"I love you, Richard."

"I love you, Joshua."

The End.