A/N: Welcome readers, both those who've read my work before and the newbies to it! I know I said that it was only going to be In His Arms She Fell for a while, but inspiration struck me and I decided to go with it. Hence, this story. This one's actually different from anything I've ever attempted to do before, in that it deals with strong racial prejudices/stereotypes, etc. That being said, because it deals with characters who come from a background of strong racism, this story will contain STRONG RACIAL EPITHETS in some parts. As a minority myself, of course I don't mean anything derogatory or inflammatory to anyone, I'm just attempting to be as genuine to these imagined characters as possible. If you don't want to read something with this kind of content, then this story probably isn't for you. No flames or inflammatory emails/messages to me, please. You've been warned. Ok, now that that's out of the way, I do hope you enjoy what you read, and if you do, please review :) Keeping in tradition with my other story, I have a Photobucket album for this one with pictures of characters and locations that will appearing throughout. If you're curious feel free to check them out through the link right here (http: / photobucket. com/ InLovingColor) after taking out the spaces in the URL, and in the future, get to chapter pictures through the links at my Profile Page. Happy reading!

"Char, the new girl needs help with doing a butterfly IV on the girl in 202. Char? Char!"

"What? Damn it, what Tia?" Charmayne demanded, groggily rubbing and opening her eyes as she sat up from the cot she was lying on in the dim room.

"Yvette, Evette—you know, that new girl—needs help with doing a butterfly in 202."

"And you're telling me about it, why?"

"Because I'm on my way up to the lab with STAT samples, Heather's holding a bedpan for the boy coughing up blood in 206, Lisa's breaking down the chart for the kid who was discharged a few hours ago and Tracy's getting busy in the maintenance closet with Dr.—"

"Yeah ok, ok, fine, T. Fine, I'm coming." Charmayne cut her off, standing up with a heavy sigh.

"Every supe still has to get her hands dirty once in a while," Tia stated with a smile, holding the door open for Char as they left the lounge.

"What do you mean, 'once in a while'?" Char snorted wryly. "There's a hardly day I don't leave this place without getting covered in one or all of this hospital's 3 biggest exports; throw up, blood and shit."

"Gotta love our job, huh boss lady?" Tia said in parting as they came to the end of the hallway and she went toward the elevator while Char turned the corner.

Overworked, underpaid and unappreciated.

If Charmayne had to describe being a nurse in three words she supposed those would be it. She worked 19, sometimes 20 hour shifts just to be bossed around by doctors and snapped at by patients. Throw up, blood and the stuff that came out of the other end were almost always plastered on some part of her uniform by the time her shifts were over with. And if that wasn't appealing enough for her, her and her fellow employees could always be counted on to be the ones slapped on the chopping block whenever the hospital decided to make budget cuts. Not exactly the most appeasing job in the world.

But (even though sometimes she thought she needed a CAT scan for it) Charmayne still loved it.

Because as overworked, underpaid and unappreciated she was sometimes, she still cared about patients. In her opinion you had to if you were going to be a nurse—a good one, anyway (the rest of them were just hoping to land doctors). It took a patience, tolerance and endurance that you couldn't just pick up like learning to tie shoes. Either you had it or you didn't. Not to say that Charmayne thought she was such a Mother Teresa all the time (sometimes she tossed around the thought of quitting and just getting a real job with a 6 x 8 cubicle like practically every other girl she'd known in college), she was just good at nursing. Had 'the touch' for it, or so her first supervisor had told her. Char didn't know about having any 'touch', but she did know she'd always been good at her job, good enough to even have been made head nurse only 5 years after working at the hospital. Granted, it wasn't that big of a step up; she still had long hours (especially when she had to cover shifts for nurses who called in sick), there was still just as much mess and the patients and doctors still talked down to you. But being able to set her own hours and get a higher pay made the whole thing worth it at the end of the day, she supposed.

Coming to room 202, Char caught the beginning of the conversation going on inside;

"…can't do it, then why don't you just get someone else who can?"

"I can do it, Mrs. Carson, and I'm sorry for the delay, it's just that Alexis has pretty small veins right now so getting an IV in is—"

"What the hell difference does it make if her veins are small, isn't that what you people are trained to do? Jesus Christ, you've been poking at my kid for the past ten minutes now!"

"If you'll just be patient, Mrs. Carson—"

"O-kay," Char interjected as she entered the room. "What seems to be the problem here?"

Turning around to face her, Trina Carson let out a heavy sigh, "Finally, someone who knows what the hell they're doing in this place! Char do you think you can come teach this woman how to put an IV in a kid without making her hand a pin cushion?"

"Be nice, Mrs. Carson, everyone's new at something at some point in their life," Char replied, going over to a glove dispenser on the adjacent wall and pulling out a pair. "It's okay, Yvette, I'll take it from here," She nodded at the other nurse. As she slid on the latex gloves, Char averted her attention to the girl sitting up in bed, exclaiming with a smile, "Well hello there Miss Alexis! Long time no see!"

"Hi Nurse Char," She smiled back lightly.

"Now as happy as you know I am to see you, I thought I'd told you last time I didn't wanna see that pretty face of yours again—not unless I see it on a billboard in a few years when you're a model!" Char said, her expression playfully stern.

"She had a fever this morning. Then she started vomiting at lunch and I brought her in," Trina explained.

"Any blood in the vomit?"

"No, not yet."

"In her urine or feces?"

"Uh-uh. Just the fever and throwing up. You," Crossing her arms with a sigh, she looked down, lowering her voice, "You don't think she's starting to relapse, do you?"

"Hard to tell offhand, but I wouldn't worry too much about it, Mrs. Carson," Char shook her head, motioning for Yvette to hand her the angiocatheter for the IV. "Even after the radiation and the worst of the chemo treatments, patients with leukemia usually experience nausea and vomiting as side effects."

Trina let out a short breath, "So she's ok? Everything's ok?"

"Like I said, we can't know for sure without running some tests. Those will tell you everything you need to know. But in the meantime, how about we give you something that'll take away that tummy ache of yours, huh?" She reached out and wiggled her fingers against Alexis' tummy, making her giggle lightly. "Right or left hand, sweetie?"

"Mmm…left; I got two good ones in that one now."

Lifting up the hand, Charmayne nodded, "Mm-hmm, sure do. Okay then, be done in a flash, hon. Yvette, come a little closer to see what I'm doing." Bending over Alexis' hand, she began to explain the process as she did it faster than usual (Yvette may have had to learn but Alexis' other hand looked like it had gotten acupunctured). "Use one hand to apply counter tension against the skin. And see, what you want this hand to be doing is pulling the skin towards the wrist in the opposite direction the needle's going in. Advance the angiocatheter through the skin over top of the vein or adjacent to the vein—try to be quick to minimize discomfort—then advance the angio catheter well into the vein and look for the dark red flashback of blood—see it?—at the angio catheter hub. That tells you the angio catheter is within the vein. Aaaand, that's it. All done, Miss Ma'am!" She declared with another tickle at Alexis' belly.

"Thanks Char," Trina sighed again. "I don't know what we'd do without you."

"Go to a hospital with better cable, better food and cuter doctors, I'm guessing." Char replied jokingly, peeling off her gloves and throwing them away in the bin by the door. "Yvette, order a CBC for Alexis, then let Dr. Haller know she's here, will you?"

"Sure thing."

"Do you think you could come back and do that too?" Trina asked when she was gone.

"Well I would, but I'm actually off duty in about 20 minutes—"

"Please Char, I don't want that incompetent woman anywhere near Lexi again. Plus, Wade's been calling me for the past 30 minutes and by his texts I think I might have to leave soon."

"Then you should probably tell him this isn't going to be done anytime 'soon', Mrs. Carson; Alexis is going to have to be here for several more hours at least for the doctor to come talk to her and her CBC results to come in, you know."

"Yeah I know, I know," Trina nodded, rubbing her forehead. "It's just that there was this dinner he had with potential clients tonight that we were supposed to go to and I already skipped one a few weeks ago because Lexi wasn't feeling well and—"

"It's ok Mrs. Carson, I understand. Tell you what, I'll…" Char sighed. "I'll just stick around for a little while longer. I have some paperwork I have to catch up on anyway and in between files I'll come in and do the CBC then every now and then check up on Alexis and make sure she's doing all right."

"Oh God…Char, you're a lifesaver. Really, you're the absolute best." Putting on her coat and slipping her purse across her shoulder, she went on, "I should only be gone a few hours, 4 or 5 tops, then I'll come right back here, okay baby?"

"Ok Mommy." Alexis murmured with an expression that made Char wince.

"Oh, you'll be all right, Lexi," Trina soothed, bending over her daughter and smoothing her hair gently. "Nurse Char's gonna be here with you so you're not by yourself, then Mama will be right back, ok? I love you, sweetheart," She said with a final kiss on her forehead. "Thanks again Char, thank you so much."

"Don't mention it, Mrs. Carson," Char nodded. When Trina was gone, she turned back to Alexis, smiling, "Well speaking of dinner, I bet you're pretty hungry too, huh?" When Alexis only shrugged, she went on, "Mm, can't say I don't understand your hesitation; I wouldn't be in too big a hurry to eat the food here either. So how about not taking our chances with the hot stuff at all and just ordering a PB&J and milk?" This time she nodded with a small smile, so Char bent over to pull the blanket on the bed over Alexis, saying, "Ok, sit tight sweetie. Be right back."

When she left the room she went to the nurses' desk a few feet away in the center of the hall. Yvette was sitting there with Tia and Lisa and as Charmayne plopped down on an empty chair, remarked, "Thanks for saving my ass in there. I know I could've put that IV in in a few minutes, but with that woman in my ear I couldn't concentrate on the damn thing."

"That's Trina Carson for you," Char sighed, reaching for a stack of loaded manila folders. Opening one and clicking down a pen, she began shuffling through the contents. "Convinced she knows how to take care of her daughter better than you do, but somehow never seems to stick around very long to do it anymore."

"Oh God, Char don't tell me that woman left that baby here again?" Tia exclaimed incredulously.

"Mmhmm, apparently Mr. Carson had a dinner with important clients tonight."

"And her daughter could have relapsing leukemia," Tia retorted. "You'd think fillet mignon and Moscato over contracting deals wouldn't be considered more important than that!"

"You'd think." Char reached for the phone, dialed three numbers then after 2 rings, asked, "Yeah can I have a PB&J sandwich, a cup of fruit and a small carton of milk taken up to room 202 in Pediatrics? Thanks."

"Contracting huh?" Yvette asked as she hung up. "As in Carson Contractors, that company that's putting up those condos downtown?"

"Yep, that's the one."

"Well damn, why doesn't a guy that rich just have someone else go to his dinner instead of skipping out on his kid being in the hospital with cancer?"

"Because it's not his kid." Char replied, opening another folder. "Trina married Wade 3 years ago, when Alexis first got diagnosed with the leukemia. Back then she was so sick she would be here months at a time, and Carson's company is a big donor to the hospital so he was here doing philanthropic photo ops when he met Trina. One thing led to another, three months later they got married."

"Only problem is now instead of being Bedside Mama 24/7, she's got to be Trophy Wife too." Tia added wryly.

Yvette shook her head, "That's terrible."

"No, what's terrible is how poor Trina was when she first brought Alexis in here," Lisa inserted. "Her insurance was so bad Dr. Haller didn't think we'd be able to even treat her at first. She probably wouldn't have been able to keep bringing Alexis here if she hadn't happened to scoop up Carson."

"Not 'probably'," Tia said. "That woman would sit in that room crying harder than her chemo'ed up baby, those insurance companies were hounding her so bad."

"Sounds like she got lucky, then." Yvette remarked then when none of the other nurses said anything in response to this, asked, "So Alexis' father never comes to see her?"

"Nope, we've never seen him. Probably never will, my guess is he's a deadbeat." Char signed her name at the bottom of the chart she was working on and shut its folder. "Yvette did you get the things for the CBC for me?"

"Mm, not yet. I looked in the closet and we're low on needles so I called up to the ICU to see if we could borrow some. Should be here in a few minutes."

"That's all right, no rush. We should at least let a little girl be able to enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without thinking about whether or not she has cancer again, right?" Standing up, she stretched, letting out a heavy breath then asked, "What about Dr. Haller?"

"He's making rounds right now, but said he'd be in to check on her as soon as he's done."

"All right, sounds good. Thanks Yvette. Things are pretty quiet right now; you can take your break if you want." Stepping out from behind the desk, Charmayne walked back down the hall towards Alexis' room. Just before she reached the room she ran into the food services worker pushing his cart off the elevator. "Hey Randy," She nodded, coming up to him. "Wanna just give me 202's, I'll take it in to her. Thanks," She lifted the tray from off the cart and stepped into the room. Inside the small TV on the wall was on, turned to an episode of the Powerpuff girls that Alexis didn't seem to be very interested in. Lying down again, her face was turned towards the window, looking out of it in silence as the TV blared on.

"Which one's your favorite?" Char asked as she set the tray down on the movable stand and wheeled it over the bed. She came to sit down on the edge and looked up at the TV where the three heroine girls seemed to be in the process of kicking some monkey's ass. "Mine was always Buttercup. Sure, she's not as cute as Blossom or Bubbles, but when it comes to who you'd never wanna take on one-on-one? My girl Buttercup wins hands down." When Alexis still didn't say anything or move, Char reached out and gently poked her in the side, "Hey; can't get better if you don't eat, Miss Ma'am."

"I thought I was better…" Alexis said after a long pause. "Mommy said I was; that I was gonna stay better now."

"And you did, you did get better, Lexi." Char assured. "She just brought you back today because you were feeling a little yucky, that's all."

"Then why do I have to stay here? Why couldn't I go home with Mommy?"

"Well we just wanted to make sure nothing serious is wrong with you."

Alexis looked down for a moment, biting her small, pink lip before asking, "…Am I sick again, Nurse Char? Did It come back?"

Char sighed, reaching up to brush back a tendril of the girl's honey blonde hair, "I don't know, honey…I don't know."

She paused again, fiddling with a loose string on the hospital blanket across her lap then asked, "Do I really gotta have a test? I feel ok now 'cuz of the IV you put in, can't I just wait until Mommy comes back then go home?"

"I'm afraid not hon," Char shook her head. "We've got to make sure you're ok before we let you out of here."

"But what if I'm not? What if It's back and I'm sick all over again?"

"Well, then we'll take care of you, Alexis. Just like before we'll take good care of you."

"When I was sick before I had Mommy."

"Well you still have your Mommy. She's gone now, but she'll be back and she'll be right here with you to take care of you if you are sick again."

But Alexis just shook her head, "Nuh-uh. Not no more."

"What do you mean, why not?"

"Mommy's always gone now. She says she's busy with my new Daddy. If I get sick again like before she'll be too busy to stay with me. I don't wanna be all by myself, Nurse Char."

"You won't. You won't be by yourself Alexis. Your Mommy will be here with you, "Char brushed her hair back soothingly then tapped her nose and smiled, "And so will I."

"Promise?" She smiled back.

Char stuck her pinky out, hooking it with Alexis' tiny one and nodding, "Pinky promise, Miss Ma'am!"

The alarm clock went off, sending a shrill humming sound into Derrick's ear. He started, but didn't raise his head up as he reached out blindly and fumbled around in the darkness for the switch on the clock. Finally finding it, he stayed frozen in his position for a few moments more, savoring the last remnants of his sleep that he could.

Eyes still half shut with grogginess, he slowly sat up and eased himself up from the worn, sheet-less mattress on the carpeted floor, rising to his feet. There was a dull ache in his lower back and Derrick rubbed at it absently.

Gotta to get a better mattress, he thought to himself grimly, Hell, gotta get a real bed, 'stead of that piece of shit…

He picked up the pair of grungy jeans from where they were neatly draped over the back of the fold up chair in the corner and slid into them. He put the faded flannel shirt that always accompanied them on over his white tank, leaving it unbuttoned in the front and pushing the sleeves up to the elbows as usual. The outfit was only one of two that Derrick owned. His other wardrobe, the one that was supposed to be his 'nice' clothes, consisted of some khaki slacks and a dark green button-up that he only wore on the increasingly seldom occasions that he went out for a job interview. Considering the amount of opportunities he was given for such an occasion, Derrick's second outfit was scarcely ever worn.

Ex-convicts eventually just gave up on job interviews. Not because they were lazy or didn't want to work. It was the rejection that wore them down. The constant feeling of utter regret that washed over them as they sat across the table from the same people that over and over again that seemed to exist for the sole purpose of making them pay for mistakes made in the past. But even Derrick wasn't so proud or dejected that he would have let that keep him from continually going out to find work. It wasn't that. He could have handled being an ex-con looking for a job. There was still a sliver of hope in that.

The real hopelessness was in being an ex-con that had never graduated from high school. Being the ex-convict who was by all intents and purposes, basically illiterate; now that was real hopelessness. Having a past in a federal penitentiary was one thing-not having a high school diploma was another. And being illiterate to the point where filling out a simple application was a chore was quite another thing...or so Derrick had found out.

Finished dressing, Derrick combed his fingers through his hair a few times, allowing them to suffice for the comb he didn't have for himself. He traced his hand across his jaw line briefly; it was still short enough to go another day without shaving. Or at least attempting to (the razor he did have had been dull for weeks) and more often than not he ended up taking off more of his flesh than hair with the damn thing.

Outside, the small television set in the living room area was blaring, and there was a smell of sausages cooking in the air. Derrick went over to the refrigerator in the kitchen that was really just a few square feet of tile and countertops in a corner, taking out a half empty jug of orange juice. The iron haired, somewhat heavy set man standing at the stove grunted out a short greeting to him, the Southern accent thickening his voice, "Good mornin'."

"Hey." Derrick replied, his tone flat and listless. He poured himself a glass of juice and leaned against the fridge, looking straight ahead.

"Beautiful sunrise out."

"I guess."

"Breakfast'll be ready in about five or ten, if you're up for it."

"I'm not hungry, Hiram."

"C'mon, now, boy." The man named Hiram said, "I spent money from my good check from the Vets Association on some groceries last night, and I intended to have a damn good meal this morning. I know my cookin's nothin' like Josie's was but it's still-"

"It's not your cooking. I'm just not hungry, is all." Derrick's tone had remained level, but it was firm nonetheless.

Hiram nodded at that, not pressing the matter further. "I bought some cookies last night too; it's your weekend for Alexis this week, ain't it?"

"Yeah. Yeah it is. Thanks for that, Hiram. You didn't have to."

"Yeah I know that. But we both know how much she likes it." He gave a short, wry laugh, "And her momma sure don't let her near nothin' with sugar in it."

"Hey c'mon, Trina's not all wrong about that. Lexi's recovering from leukemia."

"Yeah, yeah I know that."

"Then you know we gotta be careful about what she eats."

"Jesus, Derrick, I'm not sayin' give the kid rat poison! All I'm sayin' is to let her have some fun, give her a chance to be kid. Girl's spent over half her life in that damn hospital, she oughta have somethin' normal happen to her. I remember when you first showed up on Josie and me's doorstep. Social worker dropped you off, and all I could see was some skin and bones rugrat. Josie tried talkin' about givin you some fruits and vegetables shit, but I told her all you needed was some good, old fashioned junk food. We fattened you up right good too. Course when you went away to the pen, you turned all that fat into muscle, you remember that?"

Derrick grimaced. He remembered all right. By the time he'd gotten there at the age of twelve, the Fayettes' home had been the first foster home he'd stayed in for longer than a month. Hiram and Josie had been the closest things to parents he would have ever come close to. He'd never called either one of them 'Mom' or 'Dad', but he supposed that they'd treated him like the son they didn't have. They hadn't kicked him out, even in those first four difficult months when he'd tried to run away, steal or cut up in school. Now that Josie had passed away, Hiram was the closest thing to a family that Derrick had, besides Lexi. He'd always had a home here. He'd always belonged. He owed that to the Fayettes. He owed that to them and more.

"You're up early. They give you extra hours at the school?"

Derrick shook his head. "No. I don't go in there til six, same as usual." He looked down at his hands, hands that always seemed to faintly smell of bleach and disinfectant. Hands that belonged to an elementary school janitor. It was the only official 'job' he'd been able to get since getting out of the can.

Even fast food joints and grocery stores had a basic standard for their employees to have a high school diploma-and Derrick didn't happen to have one of those. He'd dropped out at sixteen. So now he was limited to these kinds of jobs; less than menial labor that paid less than peanuts, making it almost impossible for him to be able to give his ex, Trina, anything at all in child support for Alexis (something she and her wealthy husband never neglected to remind him of). If Hiram hadn't allowed him to live in the tiny apartment with him rent-free, Derrick would have been homeless. His job at the school mopping floors and scrubbing toilets didn't bring in anymore than a few hundred every two weeks.

If he was lucky, he was able to score a job or two on a construction site through his friend Walter, who ran a construction company. Every once in a while, Walt would come through for him and let Derrick put his carpentry and contracting skills to work for a few weeks, letting him do work for a few days at a time, while paying him discreetly under the table. Walt couldn't hire him as an official, regular employee, but he did what he could, when he could for Derrick, and for that Derrick was truly grateful. The money that came from that work was good. Very good. The problem was that it never seemed to come through often enough.

He shrugged shortly in reply to Hiram's question, "Thought I'd go over and see Walt about the new construction project on Biscayne Avenue. He's been saying that I can work on his next job for months now."

"Hmph." Was all Hiram gave in reply.

Derrick raised his eyebrow, re-crossing his arms over his chest, "What? What is that?"

"How come you so sure Walt'll give it to you this time around?"

"Because he said he would."

"And you're takin' his word for sure on that?"

Derrick sighed heavily, sweeping his hands through his hair, "Jesus Hiram, not this again-"

"All I'm sayin'," the older man continued, "Is that he's been promisin' you a job for months now, and he's been backin' out at the last damn minute when it's time to-"

"How many times I gotta go over this with you?" Derrick demanded impatiently, "Those times were different. The unions were on his back, he had to meet the race quotas so he could keep his business running through the summer, the bosses quiet, and the fucking NAACP off his ass. The heat's off him now, he can go back to lettin' more white guys on the sites. He promised me things would be different now, that he'd give me more opportunities to work."

Hiram snorted, shaking his head, "It's nothin' but a goddamn shame. This country's got honest, hard workin' men with families to support in it, but just because some uppity nigger lovin' Jew waves some race quota, affirmative action bullshit in front of its face, it gives good white men's jobs to a bunch of welfare jungle bunnies and border hoppin' spics-"

Derrick shook his head, "C'mon give it a rest will you?"

"Give it a rest." The older man gave a short, harsh laugh, "I don't have to give it a rest. That's what this country's doin'. Givin' a rest to all these foreigners, all these cling-ons that got no right to be here, no right to be livin' off our taxes, and no right to be keepin men like you from earnin' an honest livin. I'll tell you, back in the day when I was your age we knew how to keep those fuckin' liberal Kikes quiet and those goddamn monkeys in their place. And if half of the white men in this country could grow a pair, we'd be able to show every single one of em that this is still our America and we don't have to put up with-"

"Talk, talk, talk. That's all you do about this shit. Talk about it til you're blue in the face. What good did it ever do you, huh? Last I checked they're not givin out medals for people who still think the South shoulda won the war. You ever think there's a reason you still get glares for hanging that Confederate flag outside the door, Hiram?"

"Bullshit!" Hiram suddenly burst out angrily, "You think I give a rat's ass what these peckerwoods think of me? I ain't no fool. The rest of 'em, they think same as I do. They know I'm right, they're just intimidated by a bunch of Jews and Democrats that got 'em thinkin we got to bend over backwards and get fucked by the niggers and the spics. There ain't a real white man or woman alive that don't know exactly what I'm talkin' about-and there ain't a real white man or woman alive that don't agree with me deep down neither, and that includes you."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"C'mon, Derrick. You gonna act like you don't know exactly what I'm talkin' about? You gonna act like every time you see one of them border jumpers take your spot on a construction site it don't make you wanna shoot every one of 'em back to Mexico where they belong? How about when you go to the grocery store and you see one of them nigger welfare sluts with her six bastards and a cart full of porterhouse steaks and lobster tails and booze? You mean to tell me it don't make your blood boil she can buy all that shit on her fuckin' food stamps when we can barely make rent?" he shook his head, "You know damn well what I'm talkin about. And so do every one of these other cowards out here that got the nerve to call themselves white men."

"Look, I don't have time to listen to the Song of the South speech again, alright? I gotta go see Walt." Derrick said impatiently. He grabbed up a jean jacket from where it was thrown over the ratty sofa in front of the television and shrugged into it. "Can I borrow the pick-up?"

Hiram nodded, still obviously flustered from his tirade, "Keys are on the hook by the door." He grumbled.

"See you later."

He grabbed the keys to Hiram's beat up 1982 Ford pickup truck, and went outside to the car. As he drove to the construction site where he knew Walter would be, he tried to push the conversation with Hiram out of his mind, as well as the worrying doubts that were now beginning to creep up on him.

The money he got from the job at the school wasn't enough anymore. Lexi was getting older. He'd been promising her so many things that would take more money for him to actually deliver on; trips to the zoo and movies, toys for Christmas and her birthday, ice cream on the weekends that he had her. Derrick couldn't keep accepting Hiram's money for these indulgences for his daughter; he knew the old man was just barely getting by on the Veteran's check he received monthly from the government. It was already enough that Hiram was still allowing him to live in his house without paying rent, Derrick just couldn't let him help support his daughter too- that was asking too much.

He had to get this job. He just had to.