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The next morning was a flurry of activity as the family was stretched thin across multiple locations as one large group went up to Endicott as guests of the governor, the youngest kids went to Boston to enjoy the family-friendly activities there, and another group went to the baseball game then on to view the fireworks on the Charles River from Miguel's condo. Ricardo and Alex kept themselves apart from the others as they entertained the Hays family and got the girls reacquainted with their sister and used to their new parents making for some awkward planning with Valerie, Melanie, Leslie, and Sarah but they made it work.
Despite the trickery and humiliation of being told by the girls where they were going Kyle and Oscar were saved from going by their parents as Gabby and Olivia finally told them that they were joking about going. The two were going to help with the younger kids as Oscar's parents were given the day off by Valerie for helping with the Shaw mess. Oscar was simply there to be the big brother to Virgil and the three preschool boys while Kyle was there because his sister was going along with Nancy and Kylie making Oscar feel better than Kyle about being there and enduring his complaints about getting off easy.
The teens naturally were split up among those who had to work, those who were off, and those who were dateless. Reyna and Rachel were going to the game and Miguel's condo for the fireworks and that meant Iris and Sam were going too. Rick, Will, Eric, George, Scott, Courtney, Jenna and Jessica were stuck working while Miles, Michael, Jaimie, and Stacy were stuck helping corral the six youngest kids for their moms while Mike helped pack up Sydney and Eve's belongings and their dads were out on patrol supplementing the regular officers as they played "fireworks or gunshots" all day and night.
Karen had to get Ethan and Nichole up early since they would do their best to drag their feet. Nigel Jr. thankfully was cooperative and happy to go with his aunts and uncle to Boston leaving her free to get the older kids ready. Nigel quietly commented, "sometimes I think he's the kid and they are the toddler" causing Karen to snort and Ethan and Nichole to glare.
The two were told that they would be going to the pool at the governor's home so get a bag of clothes together which only caused them to gripe again leading to laughter from their parents. Nigel Jr. tried his hardest not to laugh, but when he started they complained loudly followed by shoving clothes into their bags and making a big scene. Karen just grinned, telling Nigel warmly "I just love it when they get all huffy over doing the simplest tasks, makes me feel like I'm really the boss."
Over at the Peterson home, Lilly had the same trouble only it was Claire that was grumpy. Daisy rolled her eyes and complained about her always waiting for the last minute to get things together leading Lilly to ask if she had her bag packed causing her to run off. Lilly just shook her head in disbelief, muttering "these girls are definitely Hannah's cousins. Lord help the boy dumb enough to upset Daisy."
Lilly knew as soon as they both came out of their rooms she had to say "you forgot your swimsuits" sending both rushing back to get them. She smiled at the two being so alike and so different, they would, of course, deny it but there are times when their sisterly bond is just too strong too strong and both think alike without realizing it. As they both come out at the same time she looked them over and added "good, now eat" followed by the two grumbling and more smiles from Lilly.
And finally over at Patrick and David's home the two couples were in no hurry to get things together as the two guys prepared a proper breakfast for their loved ones and waited for them to wake up normally. Deborah wasn't sure if she should be impressed or insulted that they could do so well without her usual prodding. Emma felt refreshed and let Deborah do the needling of the guys to burn off her own nervous energy before thinking about herself being on display.
David sat next to her and assured her that she was among people who are family to her, with all members of Smith family except Nigel Jr. there and all seven Peterson family members being there for her. Then there were the four tween girls, the four James girls, and Raul and his mother Alice. That was not including Ian as well as Sheila and Avery's mother Ruth, and Sela, Zoe, and Isobel's mother Alexandra and father Paul.
Patrick then added "the big boss is there with his wife Heather. Those two won't let a fly hurt you let alone anyone saying one bad thing about you. You are like a niece to him, dad and our uncle were on good terms with him and Paul was practically brothers to them. Sheila is their goddaughter, with Ruth adopting her out of respect for them."
David showed the ladies something that he was taking with him. Deborah snorted while Patrick boldly told him "you are jumping the gun here." David just grinned and proclaimed "as much as it pains me to say it but Donald had it right. Ian's going to ask her today in front of all of us. It's the only time we are all together and he can get Christian and Paul's approval along with mom's and Ruth's. It just makes sense. It's too bad Uncle John isn't there but he would have deferred to Paul anyway. Besides, he isn't going to steal Hannah and Paige's thunder by asking at the wedding."
Emma gladly told him "it's romantic. Asking permission before asking her to marry her is just so gentlemanly." Deborah grinned and added "better than asking without thinking" causing Patrick to groan and add "you didn't say no, and you were the one that said it was a proposal when it was just a simple talk with Aunt Valerie and Aunt Victoria that you walked in on."
David just shook his head as the two started to kiss which then prompted him to hug and kiss Emma so she didn't feel left out and calming her nerves a bit in case she felt like she accidentally caused a fight. The other two were so busy making out that Emma had to help David clean up then get dressed. Seeing him get into his uniform sent a spike of affection through her, he always looked handsome in it and she hugged him tight as he finished putting his equipment belt on.
Deborah snorted, telling them they had better get moving which David shot back "who are you to complain, you were just on the verge of sex on the kitchen table!" Patrick grinned at that which David told him firmly "you had better not have or I'm sending you packing to mom's house." Deborah and Emma both laughed as David realized he was set up, prompting him to grumble that they needed to get a move on.
Ian was already up in Endicott and eagerly greeted Lilly and the others as they arrived. He directed them inside and asked David for the "item" getting a nod from David and sigh of relief from Ian. Christian and Heather were already seated as he entered, with Ian telling them "we need to wait for Ms. James before we can start."
Sheila drove in with her mother and Avery. She sensed something was up but none of them would say anything about it. Avery was unusually jittery as they arrived, with her instantly going for her cousins' rooms as soon as the car stopped. Sheila was told to go after her and ensure she didn't get into any trouble which Sheila reluctantly listened to, denoting a tone of annoyance but feeling like it was more meant for Avery than her.
Ruth slipped inside her father's study where the others were already gathered. Ian let in a deep breath and stated "I have been dating Sheila since February and can't get enough of her. She's the first person who has ever come close to being my best friend and who enjoys all of the things that I do. She understands me and overlooks my flaws and sees me for what I am not what I appear to be. I can't fight the feelings that I have towards her any longer."
The others felt they knew what he was getting at but kept it to themselves, putting on blank faces especially the normally rambunctious Daisy. Ian turned to Paul and stated, "as Sheila's father is no longer with us and you are her godfather I feel it is my duty to ask your permission to marry her." Paul directed him to Ruth to which Ian cringed and apologized, asking again "I am sorry Ms. James, I should have asked you as well."
Ian composed himself before he totally lost it, asking "I love your daughter with all my heart, will you give me your blessing to marry your daughter Sheila?" Ruth grinned, looked at the others for a second, then told him "while I appreciate your sentiment Sheila is an adult and can make her own decisions, be that good ones or mistakes. You never needed my permission nor my blessing but seeing as you went through all of this trouble, you shall have it. Make us proud."
David handed over the ring, with Patrick adding "this will be a first." Claire snorted and told him "we can't all have accidental proposals" getting a sneer from Patrick and laugh from Daisy. Lilly calmly told them "we should get out of here before she thinks something bad happened" to which they all got up and left the room.
Paul held Ian back, sitting him down and asking "are you ready for the scrutiny that this will bring?" Ian nodded, adding "we are under the scrutiny no matter what we do, too many want to snipe at us, both literally and figuratively. I love Sheila and who her family is does not matter to me, only that I have her in my life and hopefully as the mother of our children."
Outside the five James women finally noticed the others emerging from the study. Sheila expected the worst as she saw Ian emerge last. Avery just shook her head and told her to stop thinking bad things and just enjoy herself.
Zoe and the others led them to the patio and in-ground pool to lounge and swim while they awaited the others to come. Gabby arrived with Amy, Al, and Trina while Alice arrived with Stephanie and Raul. The girls were happy to get out of the van once they saw that the older James girls were already at the poolside and already in their swimsuits only to be told to slow down and act civilized getting grumbles from all.
Raul felt out of place as the only boy there but Deborah pointed out that Ethan, Bryan, and Pete were coming so he wasn't going to be alone for long. Plus Ian, Patrick, and David were just overgrown children so he wasn't the only one of the same age mentally there. Both complained but Daisy said it was true getting laughs from all of them except Patrick and David.
Bradford and Ophelia arrived next, quickly followed by Nigel and Karen, then Bryan and Pete's car with Hannah and Paige inside with them. Hannah and Paige got out and immediately went for their friends while Ethan and Nichole went for the four girls. Bryan and Pete weren't happy being there in full uniform but Christian insisted that they wear it as they were there as special guests and it was a semi-formal event, it was also explained why Ian was there in his uniform as was David although both were on duty later in the day.
Bradford asked about Ian being there, getting a big grin and "later" from Karen and Nigel. Ophelia noticed that he kept well away from Sheila who was with the other ladies and Emma and suspected something big was going to happen. She kindly informed her husband "don't think too much about what's going on, there are some things that are about to happen that matter more." As she fiddled with her wedding ring he understood immediately what she meant, feeling a bit of guilt for thinking the worst.
Soon after the Smiths arrived other guests arrived. Christian and Heather greeted them and ensured that each had a chance to get some time with him before he moved on to someone else. The kids were all but ignored, with some of the guests complaining about them being there at all.
Heather grinned and proudly told them "I am sorry that my granddaughters' youth, friendships, and family bond offend you. Perhaps if you would prefer you could solve this by leaving while they enjoy themselves as children and young adults should." This firm "shut the hell up" and near angry sneer was enough to shut up most, but a couple of hearty and haughty people did complain to Christian directly about his wife allowing the youngsters to ruining their quiet afternoon.
Christian was always one step ahead and expected this kind of stupid reaction and asked what offended them about the children playing in the pool, one that they were entitled to use as his granddaughters, as guests of his son and daughter, and who were also the guests of honor at the event. The color immediately drained from their faces to which Christian then added "I am sorry that the age-old belief of being seen and not heard hasn't fully died out but then again you are trying to keep alive a mistaken belief that anyone can get close to me with the right money. Now if you will excuse me I need to speak with a gentleman about a matter of actual importance to me."
Christian walked away and asked to speak with David alone, getting a nod from Patrick, Emma, and Deborah. He then walked inside with David and discussed Emma and David's situation. He grinned at the immediate proposal, knowing the details already but wanting to hear it from David himself. David obliged and got a grin as well as a "good man, she is a fine catch and you are a gentleman for doing the right thing."
David reappearing with Christian caused a stir to which Christian ignored, knowing that no matter what he said the gossipers would say something else. Heather though immediately set one person straight, informing the man "Trooper Peterson was discussing his upcoming wedding plans with my husband, as my husband is acting as one of the references for him for his fiance's immigration as well as acting as the host for the ceremony and reception. He is my eldest granddaughter's first cousin and his fiance is also a friend of our granddaughters and who is someone we are proud to call a friend and family so a private talk with him is one that was always going to happen and until this point hadn't happened due to your own insistence on trying to talk with my husband as part of the mistaken belief that being here entitles you to talk with him openly and freely."
The kids eventually tired of the pool and went inside to get showered and dressed. Raul wasn't too pleased that he was the last to go inside but understood why as the girls took their time and Avery wanted to spend more time with him. Again the kids annoyed a few but a few little careful words from Zoe to the guests about leaving if they didn't like the kids being there shut them up.
To the worst offenders, Zoe added "I think you've complained enough to get removed from future invites, at least that is how mom and grandma see it. My cousin sure as hell doesn't want anyone who complains about her boyfriend's sister, her friends, or herself here and neither do I. Seeing as the next events will be personal to our grandfather will allow you to attend and when he does hold another gathering you will have been away for so long you will have been forgotten about and of no importance to anyone anymore so enjoy the festivities while you can because you won't be back."
The girls came out wearing similar dresses to the ones Sheila, Emma, Hannah, Paige, and Deborah wore which caused them to groan as they realized their mothers had coordinated behind their backs. Even Avery wore a matching dress, as did Nichole and Daisy. Ethan and Raul were spared, they were wearing slacks and a light shirt but still matching. They fought back a laugh as the girls glared at them getting off easy with Avery getting Raul to apologize for even thinking about laughing while Nichole asked Al if she still had her itching powder getting an apology from Ethan.
As they all exited the adults turned their heads to them and didn't say a word as Heather greeted them with warm hugs and mentioned how handsome and pretty they looked. Christian smiled and led them to a table set up for them while the adults ate at a separate table. They knew not to complain about being at a separate table, it was explained inside that they were going to spend some more time next door at Sheila's former home relaxing so they could burn off their energy while the older teens and adults talked with the other guests after the big surprise.
Avery was forced to sit with her grandparents as the James family sat at the head of the large table that sat two dozen easily. Ian was a bit apprehensive about being with them but Christian assured him that he was fine being with them and he belonged there as the future husband of his eldest granddaughter. Some whispers began about why he was there to which Sela angrily told the person adjacent to her "he is neither the bastard son nor anything else. You will have to wait and see his connection to Grandpa and why he is entitled to sit with us as part of the family."
The meal was eaten mostly in silence as eyes drifted to the newcomers to the James family especially David, Patrick, Emma, and Deborah. Sheila was spared the odd looks as she was known already to most of them through seeing pictures of her but her presence was a bit unnerving to some. The only one who didn't get any second looks were Bryan, Hannah, Pete, Paige, Bradford, and Ophelia who were just outright ignored and to their relief, so were Karen and Nigel.
As the meal wound down and dessert was eaten Christian called for everyone's attention. He glanced over to Ian and announced that Ian had something to say. All attention turned to the scared Ian as his large frame towered over the other seated guests by several inches and 100 pounds.
He got up, walked over to Sheila, got on one knee, and asked her painfully "Sheila Ruth Patterson I have never cared for another so much in my life. Every time I am with you I feel my heart beating faster and every time we part I feel my heart breaking. I love you deeply and after obtaining permission and the blessing of your mother, grandfather, aunt, and uncle I have to ask this important question: will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
Sheila had tears in her eyes as she recognized the Peterson family ring showing that he had really asked her aunt and cousins to do this honor. He waited with one fist clenched tight and the other gripping the box to the point of almost leaving permanent impressions in the metallic frame. She tearfully blurted out "yes! 1,000 times yes!"
She kissed him and hugged him tightly, crying into his shoulder. Ian placed the ring on her finger and sat down next to her again, letting her adjust the ring so the gemstone was out and showing just how expensive it was. Heather grinned and quickly told her "your grandparents really knew something, we might have to borrow that idea for your sister and cousins."
Avery looked over at Raul who gulped his water a bit too fast as he realized she was looking at him with a thought of marriage in her mind. Ethan wisely told him "that's not for another five or six years." Nichole added, "she was teasing you." Avery was laughing at the reaction, her mother Ruth was shaking her head telling her "that was dirty and mean, you almost caused him to choke. He's a good man, you are lucky to have him so don't do anything to jeopardize your relationship like making him choke."
The meal broke up and Christian mingled with the assembled guests. Bryan and Pete were off on the side alone trying to act inconspicuous but were cornered by the one person they did not want to get the attention of- the Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard. They had managed to avoid him all afternoon thanks to the meal and keeping close to their fiances but it was inevitable that he was going to say something to them thanks to the looks he had been giving them since he arrived.
The man was an imposing figure who demanded high standards for training and often caused friction among the troops below him with his attitude and lack of actual experience in the field that many officers had. He was a notorious "armchair general" who rubbed his subordinates the wrong way and who had been close friends with previous governors thanks to his family being a longtime powerful political family. He rose up through the ranks thanks to his connections and was forced on Christian by the legislature whom he had the backing of through the former Lt. Governor.
That wasn't the only issue that they had with him. The man was a raging homophobe and carefully made things miserable for anyone in either the Air or Army National Guard units suspected of being gay. It didn't matter if they were or not, he wanted them gone from "his" state and would do whatever it took to get rid of them both administratively and through back channels.
The two expected the worst. They could hear him talking to his chief of staff about the two soldiers being there, suspecting them to be gay for no apparent reason. His chief of staff didn't correct him or incite him further, he could tell that this was not going to end well and had set in motion a specific plan in case the man went too far.
Pete and Bryan didn't have to wait long before they could hear him walking over, getting ready to say something to them. They looked around and saw that Christian and Paul were making their way over but wouldn't reach them before the inevitable blowup. David and Ian were ready as well, getting the attention of Christian's state police protection officers for backup.
The general wasted little time and demanded to know why two private first classes were at the governor's home. Pete knew that no matter what was said he was in deep trouble so he admitted the truth "Private First Class Smith and I are here to celebrate our upcoming wedding. We are invited guests, here at the behest of Governor James and his family."
The general looked at them oddly then boldly proclaimed "wedding? Are you two a couple of fags getting married to each other? I see matching rings on your fingers, how dare you disgrace that uniform by proclaiming such a vile abomination! You should be locked up for what you are doing to one another. No disgraceful fag deserves to wear the uniform of a soldier in my state let alone in my Army!"
Bryan could barely control his rage. He was about to say something when Christian loudly proclaimed "pardon me colonel, but you have made a huge mistake this day. Those two soldiers are guests of my wife and I and are here to celebrate their upcoming nuptials to their fiances. The rings they wear are not engagement rings, they are signet rings. You must never have seen one before but they each carry the Smith family crest and were given them as gifts from the Smith Family. The two gentlemen are the grandson and future grandson of two guests whom I have the highest respect for and unlike you, these two men happen to be two of the finest young soldiers I have ever encountered."
Pete and Bryan boldly showed the rings, thrusting their fists out close to the general's face so he could clearly see the crests embedded in them. Christian grinned and added "now colonel, and that is what you are now that you have been removed from office, why don't you go inside and have your chief of staff take over the running of the National Guard until I can appoint your replacement because you are hereby removed from office for violating MGL Chapter 33 Section 12, the anti-discrimination statute for all members of the Massachusetts National Guard. I knew of your bigoted actions but nobody thus far had any hard evidence to prove your actions. When that formal handing over is completed get the hell off my property."
The general tried to proclaim that he had no right to do that. Pete and Bryan grinned as they both read the state statute regarding the appointment particularly "at the discretion of the commander-in-chief" to which Paul added, "dad is within his constitutional rights to exercise the removal of you from office". David stepped forward and told the general "you have been asked to leave, you can go willingly or you can go the hard way. Either way, you are leaving."
Ian stepped forward and stood by the general's side, towering over him by a good 10 inches. The governor protection detail entered with grins on their faces over seeing some action and joined David in removing the general, who was told that he would expect a visit from the attorney general and the state's inspector general the next day. David added "if you try to lie to the press and make the governor look bad by claiming this was political or a reprisal for refusing to follow an order the truth will come out and you will be lucky if the Department of Defense doesn't end up bringing charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman against you. Your family can't save you from your own mess this time, not without it harming them and they value their own jobs over their family as they have shown time and again."
With the general driving away in anger Christian saw an opportunity and made a big announcement "with that bit of unpleasantness gone I would like to formally introduce all of you to my special guests, Lord Bradford and Lady Ophelia Smith, the Marquess and Marchioness of Lincoln. They are here with their son Nigel and daughter-in-law Karen, the Earl and Countess of Boston. They have been joined by their daughter Lady Nichole Smith and their younger son Lord Ethan Smith, The Earl of Frampton. I am also proud to introduce their newest granddaughter, Lady Emma Walker and her fiance Trooper David Peterson who are awaiting the Smiths' first great-grandchild."
Grinning to the two soldiers Christian announced "it is also my happy honor to announce the upcoming nuptials of two of the finest soldiers in service to the Massachusetts Army National Guard. Mr. Peter Orleans is due to wed Lady Hannah Smith and upon their wedding in England will become the heir to the title of The Baron of Gosfield. Conversely, Lord Bryan Smith is due to wed Ms. Paige Connors and is to become the heir to the title of The Viscount of Braintree. As if a fairy tale, both young men and young women are marrying the other one's best friend."
There was a loud round of applause as each bowed and curtsied before the assembled guests. Pete put his arm around Hannah and Bryan had his arm around Paige showing that the harsh words by the general were all a load of hot air. Avery herself grabbed and kissed Raul on the cheek, followed by David kissing Emma on the lips. Daisy was surprisingly quiet and not gagging at the kisses, she knew that this was something that had to be done and it was best that she shut up and let her cousins have their moment. Claire wisely told her "it's acting like this that makes mom think you may actually be mature enough for a puppy. Just don't overdo it, you are making me look bad.."
The group disbursed soon after with the four couples getting congratulations. David didn't even notice the colonel of the state police there, getting a handshake and slap on the back from him. He grinned as he asked, "at the rate you are going you are going to be more famous than the all of us."
David blushed and added "I'm just doing my job and nothing more. Governor James being friends with my family is entirely coincidental as is all the 'fun' that happens around us. I only want to do my job and protect the people of the Commonwealth. I have a vested interest now with my fiance having our first child."
The colonel nodded silently, knowing full well that David was humble and one of the troopers who could be counted on by the state to properly represent them. This was why David was being groomed for a detective position in the future, once he had a full year on the job and could be sent to train. He had more experience in forensics than most up for promotion which was why he was being sought after.
Once David was out of hearing range Christian admitted "two months and he's out for training. Six months and he should be ready for field work. Just think, in seven years we can have a top financial analyst, a top forensic accountant, a top computer analyst, a top prosecutor, and a top detective. All from the same family and all experienced at bringing down criminals." The colonel grinned and added, "woe be to whoever pisses them off."
After everyone had left and it was just the James family, Lilly, Gabby, Claire, and the girls they sat down and discussed what happened. Christian was furious and immediately had his press secretary prepare a press release. He made sure that it stated clearly that the man was caught berating two soldiers who were innocently standing around and were special guests of his and the assumption that they were homosexual. The fact that it was because they wore a ring that was handed down to them by family is atrocious as was his belief that he could treat people the way he did.
Lilly, Gabby, Ruth, and Alexandra smiled at him getting angry and on the hunt for the former general's head. Lilly suggested "why not let William Kelly do the initial story and you can confirm it heading him off at the pass and make his supporters come out of the woodwork and try to defend him. You know the general is going to paint you as being the one in the wrong. William is trustworthy and you know him to be not one to fiddle with the truth."
Lilly's suggestion was brilliant. Christian's press secretary called William directly and gave him the story with Lilly confirming to him that it was 100% true and not spin. William, in turn, said he'd call his editor and get the story approved and if his editor refused he'd leak it to some trusted friends at the television stations and have them go with it with his editor having to explain how they lost a verified scoop. Lilly just grinned and added, "the story will get out but you at least get the credit."
With that Lilly and the rest left. The girls were getting anxious and wanted to get home so they could enjoy the evening with Claire having a date with Will and Daisy wanting to play with Faith. Stephanie, Al, Amy, and Trina just wanted to go home and watch a movie while Raul kept silent knowing he was going to be stuck with whatever the girls wanted to do.
In the car, Patrick asked what the talk with the colonel was all about. David just shrugged, but Deborah grinned and blurted out "they are grooming him for a promotion. We have heard about it for months, but Christian and the colonel are intent on getting you working on something other than directing lost airline passengers."
Emma asked if it was true to which Patrick nodded, adding "he does a lot of things his way and looks outside the system and knows who are to be groomed for the right reasons. He said he has a job lined up for me when I get my masters, he is getting Bryan and Pete jobs when they graduate, and he has tried to hire Jaimie as an adviser for him for years even though she has said no dozens of times."
The thought of Jaimie brought a grin to her face as she realized this teenage girl had won over a powerful man enough to get him to ask for her help. She looked at Deborah who had the same reaction and added "she is having her surgery next summer and said she can't do the work for him with school. Plus she doesn't like politics and she would gladly talk with him about anything just not politics."
Back in Winnisimmet, the news had already broken about the adjutant general being fired and the real reason was touted with multiple witnesses from the party confirming that the event happened. Lilly was pleased that William's story was the one that was retweeted, cited, and reported on by the newscasts and Christian's people were well prepared for the onslaught of questions. The poor former major general, now permanently reduced in rank to a mere colonel, was ripped to shreds online and little sympathy was found for him.
The girls and Raul were greeted by the eager faces of Kyle, Oscar, and the younger kids. Kyle freely admitted that he was glad he wasn't there, with Junior adding "grandpa said he would have kicked the general's butt." All eyes turned to the usually meek Junior who shrugged and admitted "it's true, grandpa said that man didn't deserve to wear the uniform and deserved a but kicking and if he was there he would have shown him what a real soldier would react to such actions by an officer insulting his family like he did."
Gabby quickly changed the subject and asked about what they had done all day, getting a groan and "walked around Boston with the babies" from Oscar. Nancy added a soft "he's mad that he had to perform on stage in front of a couple of hundred people because he was dumb enough to get noticed by the band playing kids music." Faith grinned and said "he was funny" which caused him to blush and move his face away from Amy's sight causing the others to laugh harder.
Over in Boston things at the Red Sox game were different. Reyna reluctantly had to introduce Rachel as her girlfriend, much to the amusement of Lupe and Miguel. After Lupe left the girls settled in and tried to hold back laughs as Reyna had to endure the players joking about her taking so long to find a significant other and finding one that was so unique in her style especially with her now green streaked hair.
Seeing a bunch of teen girls flirting and having fun with the players caused a couple of college age guys to take an interest in the girls. At first, they kept to themselves but kept observing the girls closely, almost leering at them. Reyna sensed something was up and told the others not to get up without someone with them, she didn't trust the guys nearby.
After the third inning, Rachel had to use the restroom so Reyna went with her. They were soon followed by four guys looking for some fun with the girls. They were quick to close the gap and follow the girls, waiting outside the restroom while the girls did their business then expected to turn on their charm.
Sam and Iris remained and endured two more bold guys trying to get a chance with the girls. No matter how many times they said they weren't interested the boys kept up the unwanted attention. Finally having enough the girls got up to leave, being followed closely behind by the guys.
The girls headed directly towards the restroom where the other two were and told them they needed to leave. There was no argument and Reyna immediately called her mother to explain the situation. Lupe sighed and told them firmly "don't let them corner you and if need to yell out for help."
Lupe immediately phoned the Red Sox head of security and alerted her to the trouble going on and got her to take action. The girls waited while Rachel and Sam scouted for the guys, seeing them just off the restroom looking directly at it. They decided to make a break for it out of the entrance, hoping that they could get some distance before the guys saw them leaving.
The plan failed from the start as the guys split up to cover the entrance. The girls were herded together and were being led to a darker part of the grandstand, away from people and muffled by the sounds of the cheering. The girls screamed for help and tried to fight back and got in some kicks and elbows but with it being six on four they were overpowered.
The guys told them "what are you, a bunch of lezzies? Why don't you get with real men." Sam spat back "I don't see real men, I see a bunch of overgrown little boys. My little brother is more of a man than any of you." Reyna added, "the real men for us are women, we don't want men and we don't need them so leave us alone!"
The guys were all over the girls, groping them all over. They were about to pull them into a closed food stand when they were grabbed by the team security people, accompanied by several police officers and an angry Lupe. The officers told the six that they were under arrest for sexual assault and kidnapping and were lucky that they were caught before raping of a child under 16 was added to their charges. The guys tried to struggle and claim the girls enticed them but they were caught on video loitering around the restroom and cornering the girls, there was no escaping the video nor the fact that they were witnessed by the security people and officers groping the girls as they called out for help.
It was traumatic and the girls just wanted to leave but they gave their statements and left quietly, not wanting to stay in Boston any longer than they had to. At the Toro home, the four sat down and let themselves finally relax, getting a sympathetic "you didn't do anything wrong, those six would have hurt another girl if they didn't go after you. Never feel bad for someone doing something horrible to you."
Reyna felt horrible anyway, telling her "we are going to make Uncle Miguel look bad. He paid for the box, he invited us there, his teammates will know about what happened when they see us gone. With my luck it was probably caught on camera and the press will be harassing him about it by the end of the game."
Lupe countered with "he knew about it immediately, the head of security informed him about what happened personally. He doesn't blame you nor will he ever be angry with you over something that wasn't your fault. He loves you unconditionally and will stand up for you no matter what happens to you. The team will stand by you or they will be in trouble for letting a potential rape happen in their ballpark. They will be forced to make changes to ensure this doesn't happen again."
Miguel called them after the game to ask where they were. Lupe explained about the girls being in no mood to stay in Boston to watch the fireworks to which Miguel reluctantly agreed. The girls just sat around the TV and watched movies, joining Al, Stephanie, Trina, and Amy next door at the Samuels home while the adults gave them space. Both sets of girls had a long day and their closeness to one another gave them a bit of comfort as they enjoyed a nice evening enjoying a Star Wars marathon on TV while fireworks were sets off around the neighborhood.
Lupe and Olivia were joined by Leslie, Margo, and Alice. Richard Samuels went out back with Mark, Zeke, and Zachary. The guys fired up the grill while the ladies just talked away inside. Thomas and Rebecca stopped in and ended up being stuck watching the movies with the girls while the adults were busy making a late dinner for all of them.
What started out as the girls needing a break turned into a semi-formal gathering with Miguel finding his way over after the game. He was followed by James, Virgil, and Tanya. Donald and Gabby were the last to arrive with Gabby bringing drinks for the kids and adults.
It didn't take long for Donald to get razzed about winning the pool with the girls jealous that he correctly guessed what Ian would do after only knowing him for a few minutes. Olivia was pleased that he considered their personalities and other factors, with Lupe adding that he was the only one to figure out that he would want it to be big and mean something to Sheila without being over the top. The money didn't matter, the fact that he was thoughtful was.
The girls complained that they had plans on spending the money. Donald grinned and pointed out "I was going to give it to charity but you called my bluff so I guess I have to spend it on you." The adults laughed as the girls all turned red in embarrassment while the teens snickered at him getting their joking turned around on them.
Al reluctantly told him "fine, you win" to which Donald grinned and added "I knew you would see it my way, plus Uncle John already set it up so it was spent that way anyway. I didn't want it, someone else could use it for the greater good. And did you really expect him to let you spend it on yourself? He had no intention of letting anyone do that, everyone got conned into giving to charity by default."
The evening passed all too quickly as the girls tired themselves out, the adults ate a nice dinner around the grille, and the teens settled in for some peace and comfort. Even Marcus was quiet, having slept through the evening after getting his sisters to give him some attention and drinking his evening bottle of formula. The day had been a bit rough for the family but it ended with them feeling good despite the troubles of others.
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