Class Reunion Part 4

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Sorry for the length but I couldn't break it up without sacrificing the impact each segment had
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Due to them being central guests and key members of the reunion, the group were placed near the front as John, Valerie, Jaimie, Jake, Rachel, Paul, Melanie, and Dan were seated together with Katie, Alison, Lindsay, Juan, Willie, and Kennedy were seated with the reunion committee's vice chairman and her husband. The seating plan was carefully choreographed as Melanie knew that there were several malcontents in the class who still had issues with Katie, John, and Willie. John and Willie flanked the tables with Katie being seated next to Dan with Juan's back to her.

Jaimie was sensing a lot of tension and could see and hear a lot of criticism over the group as they were seated. Several recognized Jaimie with nobody recognizing Katie nor Lindsay. Alison got a lot of stares as she was out of place among the group but seemed to know all of those sitting with her as she made small talk to keep Katie calm.

Melanie had to fight off talking with people as she got situated and arranged her notes for the evening while John and Jake talked about something school related. Dan and Paul visually scanned the incoming people and watched as the known gossipers shared that the infamous Jaimie Finn was there but nobody seemed to believe that she was the young woman at the table with Melanie. Dan had to smile at that, she was already causing a lot of people to doubt themselves and their beliefs without saying a single word yet.

Juan, Willie, Paul, Melanie, and Dan got up to talk to people while Rachel, Kennedy, and the others decompressed further. John spotted two people he wished hadn't come, Jacques and Nadia Orleans. Katie asked why John had a glum face, quietly explaining "they are Pete's parents. The two have hated me since little league. He has 30 years of hatred to go along with her 25 years."

Katie grinned and finally snickered at hearing that. John shot her a glare but she explained "really? 30 years? Just because you couldn't hit my slider? Yikes. I know you were bad and I even lobbed it to you to give up a hit and get yanked out of the game but if I had known this would happen I'd have just plunked you on the butt and saved a lot of trouble for you."

Lindsay heard them and sat down, adding a snicker and quick "it didn't help that I was on deck ready to hit a home run, I took you deep twice that game already thanks to John walking both times." Katie shook her head at not remembering that day with Valerie staring at the three both shocked and amazed that they had actually played against one another as kids. Jaimie tried to hide her smile but added a hearty "he still can't hit the ball, JD already hits better than him and he only just learned how to swing the bat."

Jake snorted at that with Valerie trying to hide her smirk as John turned red in embarrassment as the sisters reminisced about John's youth beyond what he had previously told the others. Alison simply listened and gave John a sympathetic smile but reveled in him accidentally causing the sisters to bond over something that they had completely forgotten about but had been a fun memory for them.

Jaimie noticed the smile on Katie's face as she talked about that time. Katie happily admitted "this was the last time I felt good about myself. After that my dad started to think I was going to be the next Nolan Ryan or Roger Clemens and kept pushing me to play harder and for more teams. It's also about the time I started to fight my feelings which led to more fighting and me becoming miserable."

Lindsay just smiled at her and added "you really were a great player, but dad got him to back off of you before you snapped. That summer when we were 12 he tried to run me out of the league so I didn't take a spot away from a boy he ended up almost getting banned for life from all city parks for hurting you for refusing to hurt me. If he hadn't been a police captain he would have been arrested but of course, he sweet talked the DA into getting out of charges."

John shook his head and added "that was Victoria Williams. She paid off the ADA and the charges never appeared. If they had been on his record he would never have been appointed chief let alone terrorized you further. I only found that out because dad was going to testify against him but the ADA pretended not to know what he was talking about and finally had the ADA fired for what he did when he told the DA once another caught him lying to dad. He never did get paid by Victoria, she simply had him beaten up and move away in disgrace."

Kennedy and Rachel quietly talked as the others reminisced about the far distant past. Rachel knew this was something that only John, Katie, and Lindsay were involved in based on how they were talking with Rachel smiling at the reactions of Valerie, Alison, Jaimie, and Jake. The expressions on John's face were priceless with Rachel taking a picture and sending it to John's sister Karen to get her take on what they were talking about.

She sent back a picture of two teams of kids with arrows to John, Katie, and Lindsay. The two looked at one another and smiled at the second and third pictures, one of John and Lindsay then of Katie and John facing off against one another. Katie looked so different, very focused and competitive while John looked like he was terrified and didn't want to be there. Katie had longer than normal hair which made her appear feminine despite trying to act masculine, something Kennedy knew was her feelings of being a girl starting to fully emerge.

Rachel sighed and asked Kennedy if she ever played sports like that as a kid. Kennedy shook her head, then softly admitted "growing up I was either doing schoolwork or housework. My parents didn't bother with having me play sports as I was too small and weak to do anything other than run. My dad thought running was for sissies and openly mocked our track team despite being one of the best in the state. He thought if you didn't play football, basketball, or baseball you weren't a real man despite having great soccer, track, cross country, and wrestling teams in our school. A bunch of those ‘sissy sport' players earned scholarships and got out of that hellhole town."

Kennedy felt a lot of relief over admitting that. She regretted not being allowed to participate in a sport especially ones that she was actually great at. She had offers from the school to be part of the track and cross country teams but she wasn't allowed by her father. Her mother had to side with her father, she heard the arguments they had and it showed on her mother's face that she clearly didn't believe in his refusal especially as it hurt so many others but his word was law then.

Rachel kept her own opinions to herself as she knew the same argument only she had fought her parents over her participation. Being a girl they didn't think she should take part in sports and despite it being a private school and her being offered a full scholarship if she participated in a sport she was denied with her father choosing to pay. The school tried to reason with her father but he outright refused and threatened to withdraw her if they kept insisting, ending all discussions further.

His reason was more sinister, it was his way of controlling his daughter and keeping her under his thumb until she was old enough to marry. He intended on her marrying a colleague so he'd get a promotion and part of the business while she played the good wife and gave the man kids. That fell through when the company was sold from under the two and he was forced to seek another suitor for his daughter.

Rachel had the last laugh, she graduated with honors and went to a great college where she met Paul. Paul was fresh off his 3 year stint in the Navy and happy to enjoy some freedom for the first time. He and Rachel dated all four years and finally married after graduation with Paul earning a high civil service exam score getting a coveted spot with the Winnisimmet Fire Department.

They spent years trying to conceive a child but it wasn't until 12 years before that they succeeded with Margaret being born as the result. It wasn't likely that they would be able to have another child as Paul's sperm count was low and Rachel had a lot of issues with her pregnancy to the point that her health was at risk if they tried again. Kennedy saw the distant look in Rachel's eyes and knew she was thinking about her own past, offering a soft "he was always your son even when he was your nephew" causing Rachel to nod and smile back at her friend knowing her so well.

Across the gym Paul watched Rachel and Kennedy talking and knew their past was running through Rachel's mind. She always had the same sad look whenever she thought about their conception troubles. Kennedy's words helped her but Paul felt terrible about not being "man enough" to have another kid and then enduring the constant teasing from the others when he and Rachel struggled with issue after issue for two years.

It didn't help one bit that his colleagues had multiple kids with his buddy Kevin Clarence having three before Rachel reached her last in-vitro fertilization attempt. Kevin loved to tout his sons' manliness especially Vincent and Albert. Little Reed was barely acknowledged but Paul knew the kid was special and showed that he was going to be a great person one day even if his father didn't see it, which years later would prove true as Albert and Vincent sat in prison while Reed had a great job and beautiful girlfriend.

Willie watched the ladies as well and knew that Kennedy was going to think up something special to say to the wavering Rachel. This whole night was a test of patience and empathy for Kennedy as she was getting to see the real people that Willie grew up with. He was glad that Kevin was from Kensington or this would have been a lot worse than it could have been, from his friends in the Kensington Police Department he knew that Kevin was hated with a passion for what he had done to his kids and many were glad that he was unable to attend as there would have been issues especially among the few who were gay or had transgender relatives.

Juan made his rounds of the few people he wanted to seek out and happily caught up with a half dozen who moved out west and who were visiting for vacation. They congratulated him on his marriage and happily told him that it was long overdue. Lindsay was seen as a great woman to them and those who actually knew her were surprised that her ex-husband had been stupid enough to not see just what he had lost out on in her.

Juan's news that he was expecting his first child brought hugs and slaps on the back. The group was excited to know that the man most likely to remain a bachelor among the class had settled down and married let alone started a family with two older kids in the mix. Juan shared pictures of his new son and daughter and got a big smile as they all laughed at Tyler being so much like his grandfather while Willow looked so much like her mother with Juan getting a strong feeling that he was going to have a son or daughter that also strongly resembled the Reagan family, something that made him proud.

Across the room, Melanie had made the rounds alongside Dan and listened as people gossiped about the people they didn't know being there. Nobody outside the committee or the people who talked with Melanie on a regular basis had pegged Katie as being the "girly-boy freak" that they had graduated with nor did they realize that Kennedy was married to Willie. There was speculation about Alison being a hired prostitute who was there with Jake but that only led to more speculations about who Alison was and why she was there.

Melanie held her tongue and didn't bother with the gossipers. She sought out the few she wanted to see personally and happily hugged and kissed them. Dan did the same, getting handshakes from the husbands and congratulations on his newest son as he beamed with pride at the idea despite it being two months after the adoption.

Dan just happily showed pictures of Julio earning a lot of stares over how strongly he resembled Dan while Melanie happily announced that he was Dan's twin brother's son therefore extremely similar genetically to Dan so it's almost like he is his father even if he didn't conceive him. The look on their faces was priceless as all but one were shocked but the one who wasn't happily added: "I'm glad you remembered what I told you last November."

The others looked over at their classmate, a man by the name of Solomon Grande, who explained "I helped Melanie's friends with a DNA test on their son and conducted the quick test for Melanie's son myself. It's no joke about him being the little boy's father in so many ways as they are simply identical with only a small fraction of their DNA being different. You'd have to do an extremely thorough test to get the exact match, and even then it's a crapshoot to find the right sequence differences to prove one over the other. The little man will never have to explain why he doesn't look like his mother because he looks so much like both his biological and adoptive fathers."

Melanie hugged Solomon who added, "It's not often that I get to show off." Melanie grinned and added a happy "Ricardo will be happy that you got something out of his test beyond a payment. He and his son gave your company a nice grant for further research, thanks to your quick work."

Solomon got some attention as Melanie moved on. Dan had a big smile on his face as Solomon had just shut down any talk about little Julio for the evening. He didn't think it was anyone's place to talk about the boy especially given the circumstances of his being with them as people ignored why he was placed with them in the first place in favor of gossip about him being their son overall.

Willie finally made his way around the gym and was confronted by just who he didn't want to talk with. Victor Russo, Wally Jackson, and Boyd Queen were three former officers who were fired for their roles in enforcing Chief Benson's edicts on the police force. They escaped prison by pleading to misdemeanor perjury charges but were terminated for their actions and blacklisted from being hired by any police department in Massachusetts and across the United States.

It had been a rough five years for the men. They had been unable to find jobs with any kind of police agency. Not even the military would accept them, they didn't have felonies but their probation prevented them from reenlisting in any of the branches.

The trio was stuck with menial security jobs. They were glorified greeters and receptionists with nobody respecting them. For three men who had once been highly respected and feared in the city, they were reduced to overnight shifts at office buildings working alongside college students who ignored them.

Boyd was the unofficial leader of the group with Victor and Wally as his enforcers. They thought they would get a shot at Willie with nobody daring to stop them. They thought wrong, John and Dan showing up in full uniform caused them to back away from their initial plan and rethink their confrontation. The two would ensure they went to jail and it wasn't a "he said/she said" situation.

Boyd finally got the nerve to strike and was quick to demand to know why he brought the "freak" there. Willie just grinned and happily told them "she was invited alongside the rest of her classmates and is the guest of honor tonight. Funny thing is, I don't recall you three getting invites."

Boyd sneered at him, telling him "we don't need invitations. We belong here, that freak doesn't. Neither does that piece of trash sitting next to it. I ought to rip that badge off his chest and beat the crap out of him to show him what a real cop is."

Dan stood firm over them and asked "and just what would that be? One who gets paid to beat down witnesses to keep them from talking to internal affairs? One who pays off addicts to attack innocent kids to make it look like there are crimes happening in certain neighborhoods just to make it look like you are needed there instead of where real crimes are occurring so you don't have to respond to as many calls and interrupt your beauty sleep? Or maybe that the only way to advance is to follow the illegal orders of people who are being paid by drug lords, queenpins, and corrupt council members who only want to advance their own agendas not the needs of their constituents?"

Victor and Wally tried to intimidate Dan but he just smirked as John strode over thanks to Kennedy's signal. John happily told them "you three weren't invited for the same reason your buddies weren't invited. We don't want criminals here, you besmirched our class and were bullies to everyone who was different in school and outside of it. You haven't changed one bit and aren't worth remembering."

The three were going to go after Willie but Jake stood behind the trio. He wasn't alone, alongside him was Officer Ian Bailey and two other police officers. Ian firmly asked, "did I hear you right, did you threaten to assault an officer of the law?" Willie happily stated "that you did. Book them all on criminal threats, trespassing, and disorderly conduct."

The trio punched Ian and the two officers leading John, Willie, and Dan to perform quick take-downs of the three. Willie read them their rights then added "additional charges of assaulting police officers and resisting arrest will be added to your charges. And if you even think that you will get out of this by taking another deal think again, this whole incident was witnessed by my wife who will happily tell the DA that you three are in violation of your probation and are going to be prosecuted for breaking the terms of your plea deal in addition to your new charges."

Their classmates were shocked that Dan and John had taken down the three larger men but Willie happily told them "those three were too lazy to learn anything new once they left the academy. Standard training for all officers nowadays is the quick take-down and simple but effective holds. They may be reserve officers but they are fully trained and qualified and have more arrests in their three years working only 70 days with the department than those three have had in their previous 10 with the department."

John and Dan tried to look humble but they knew it was Willie touting them for effect. Their classmates had to see John as more than just money, he was somebody who actually wanted to make a difference. Dan too was being shown to be more than just Melanie's husband, he was a true Inferno like them.

Paul beamed with pride over his friends taking action so quickly. Two classmates asked what that was all about, getting a hearty "they were having issues with Katie Eliza being here. They didn't like that their former boss' cast out daughter was welcomed tonight but they weren't invited. They didn't like that Willie got them fired when their crimes were exposed and they were forced to rat out their fellow officers including three of our classmates to save their own skins."

Paul knew he had accidentally said too much. One asked "who is Katie Eliza? I don't remember anyone named Katie."

Paul steeled himself and proclaimed "you knew her originally as Kurtis Benson. Late junior year she became legally Katie Benson. Last August she got married to a lovely woman named Alison Eliza. The two adopted a beautiful little girl and Alison recently gave birth to their twins."

There were several gasps as people started to realize who Katie really was and put 2 and 2 together. Looking at Paul one asked "who is the father? Some sperm donor>"

Paul glared at the person and happily stated "Katie is the ‘father'. Her adoptive father, Louis Reagan the man standing behind you ready to set you straight about her, had her bank sperm for such an occasion. She and her wife were successful in their attempt at conceiving so she is, in fact, the father of her son and daughter. And before you ask, their daughter was adopted because of being orphaned and Katie and her wife were the only ones who were willing to take her in as foster parents before adopting her outright as their daughter."

Louis took over for Paul, getting a nod at him circumventing many of the upcoming questions. Louis added a firm "she is Katie. You knew her as Katie for over a year. You chose to continue to call her Kurtis despite her being legally Katie. She is a wife, mother, lawyer, teacher, aunt, and mentor to so many. Her sister, and yes she is my daughter despite what that animal who sired her claims, owes her husband and her children's well-being to her."

He waited for the proclamation to impact them. He smirked as he added "she had a huge hand in saving the lives of several children including two who she had no idea were related to her through my cousin. She has done all of that without any recognition. She doesn't have to work a day in her life anymore yet she chose to teach children and took in a troubled little girl who needed a home and loving parents when she had nobody. So before you go off and make insulting remarks and spread rumors about my daughter look into the mirror and think about what you are really doing as I know for a fact that none of you have done much beyond work minimum wage jobs and live off welfare."

Louis' biting words hit their mark and he left them to ponder his speech. He made it a point to hug both Katie and Alison before returning to his seat alongside other dignitaries for a quick breather. His fellow city councilors gave him a happy ribbing over his golden tongue being wasted on those who wouldn't heed his words for long but to him, it was worth it as others heard it and would see things as they really were.

Juan managed to get cornered by two teammates from the baseball team who wanted to know what he had been up to lately. Juan didn't answer, only showing a picture to them. Both looked at him in shock, Juan was hanging out with several members of the Red Sox the previous weekend at a player's house with Miguel Toro taking the picture of them.

Others started to take an interest in Juan as he started to talk about the guys on the team. Juan didn't mind talking about them, he liked the guys that Miguel hung around with a lot. Miguel was picky about who he was friends with among his teammates so those who were around him were ones that Juan found to be great people and who had the same ideals as Juan regarding setting up post-playing careers and saving money.

Juan happily told them that he was hired by two of the players to rework their contracts so they would stick with Boston for longer instead of risking their careers on the free agent market or with terrible teams. They had actually gotten more money than anyone would have offered and even got a larger signing bonus thanks to taking the "hometown discount" and freeing up some money to retain other players. He kept that little fact away from everyone except Lindsay and Louis, with Miguel being the one to break it to the family after the deals were signed.

The way Juan talked about Miguel they thought that he was having sex with Miguel and was coming out to them and saying Miguel was gay as well. His teammates joked that he should have brought his boyfriend the way he was talking so affectionately about Miguel. This was meant to be playful banter but Juan didn't accept it, he never liked it but he didn't say anything about it because it would have imploded their team.

Juan angrily told them "this is why I never bothered to talk with you after we graduated. I'm not gay. I worked my ass off to earn my business degree then worked for Louis Reagan as his youth coordinator. I have worked hard and long for the same organization that got several of you decent jobs and ensured kids had a future in our city. I got lucky a couple of times and earned the confidence of a couple of up-and-coming ballplayers to get them their big break in the game by encouraging them to sign great development contracts with some powerful teams. This is common knowledge, in fact, I have several awards from the city and state to show that my hard work paid off."

He took a breath and stated "that was what I did for years. Then two and a half years ago I was asked to help out some friends with a tricky situation and ended up getting a job as Miguel Toro's agent. He is the best friend I ever had and I am proud to call him my brother. I am sorry that being close to him equates to being gay but that is your assumption, not mine. I am not gay. I have a beautiful wife who is pregnant with our child and am adopting her son and daughter as my own children. She won my heart and I was lucky enough to win hers and we don't have to explain it to anyone except ourselves. She encouraged my relationship with Miguel as the man has good reasons for being reclusive and opening up to only a select few, of which I am happy to be among that small number. So no, I'm not gay and no he isn't gay either. He's a great person who I proudly call my brother and who is acting as my best man when my wife and I have a full wedding this summer."

Juan walked away then sat down to Lindsay's loving kiss. She knew he needed that right then and there and was happy to show the idiots who made a huge assumption about him wrong. Juan calmed down and just talked with the ladies while Lindsay kept her arm over Juan's shoulders, staking her claim to her husband for all to see.

Louis happily told the assembled group who were chastised by Juan "the man speaks the truth. My daughter is head over heels in love with Juan and he has been the brother that Miguel Toro has been missing for years. The man has been a constant funk for years until Juan got him to start focusing on things outside of baseball including his family. He probably saved Miguel's life but won't ever say that to anyone. He cares deeply about him and has been the ears for Miguel to vent his frustrations over people trying to take advantage of him or harm his niece and sister.

Louis shook his head in disgrace at saying that but the point needed to be made. He added "Juan is also the brother to Miguel's sister, giving her daughter the positive male influence that she needs at times and pointing her in the right direction just as he has done for years with hundreds of kids. He loves them like family and broke Reyna's heart by not dating her mother. You really are terrible people in thinking that just because a person doesn't sleep with every woman he sees and actually tries to work hard for a living leaving little personal time that the person is gay. Hell if that were true half of you would be accused of the same thing."

Louis was on fire, he hadn't had to flex his muscles in this way for years. These were people that he knew from infancy and who he had seen grow up to be who they are today and loved every minute of it. Juan was special to him, and the more he thought about Juan the more he was happy to call him "son" as he was the son Louis hadn't had. John was close but Juan took over from where John left off once he had flourished with Jaimie, Michael, and Valerie out in Missouri six years before.

Paul had avoided the spotlight so far but that ended as he was confronted by his ex-girlfriend. He really hated to see her, she had cheated on him dozens of times in high school and it took the intervention of Juan and Willie to get him to finally dump her for someone else. He did it before prom no less, with Paul saving a lot of money that he didn't have which went towards paying for college.

She brushed it off and showed up with the man she was really dating- Roland Finn! Roland touted that he had snagged a hot senior but he was actually trying to get Lindsay jealous and show off to John that he could land girls while John was too pathetic to get one to talk to him. Celeste just wanted to make Paul jealous but it backfired badly on her as Roland stood her up and left her with a bill for their prom tickets.

Celeste Campbell had had a hard life ever since she graduated. She got hooked on multiple drugs thanks to Roland and ended up in and out of rehab more times than she could count. Paul was "the one that got away" but she always had her eye on other guys despite having a soft spot for him.

Paul knew Celeste would be tough to get away from so he hoped that his wife was close by and would send the right message to Celeste to back off. It wasn't likely to work, only infuse her with more drive but it would show others what kind of person she was. Rachel caught on that Paul needed her and made her way over but let Celeste make the move so it would be all the worse for Celeste as she casually informed her that she was trying to hit on a married man who didn't want her advances.

Celeste made the move and flirted "you are looking rather dashing tonight, Paul. Trying to ignite the flames of youth while seeing some familiar faces?" Paul cringed at her words, they were terrible but Rachel's coy smile showed she was enjoying the free show especially Paul's cringes.

Paul steeled himself and shot back "you are looking much better than the last time I saw you. Do you have Narcan on hand or should I have the engine company on standby?" That hit home to Celeste as she glared at him while trying to figure out what to say next.

Celeste asked about the kids, adding a terse "what's with adopting a kid? What's the matter- can't get it up anymore so you have to resort to taking in a cheap slut's cast-offs?" Paul was going to say something but Rachel intervened, harshly complaining "he's just fine in bed, but you'd never know as he never let you anywhere near it….well, not without his crew needing to put two doses of Narcan into you to counteract your latest overdose. By the way, how was your recent rehab stint? It was down at the state's facility under guard since you robbed a bank to buy your hit?"

The war of words caused a mini-scene as Rachel waited for Celeste to reply. She saw she wasn't going to win and resorting to cheap shots wasn't going to work. She waved off the couple and walked away in shame, getting sympathetic and angry looks from others.

Paul sighed and saw his wife ready to fight. He had never seen her so upset, not since his brother dumped Kyle on them for a month when he was only 5-years-old so he and his wife could take a cruise around the Mediterranean Ocean without the hassles of caring for the boy. Rachel calmed down but Paul had to smooth things over with classmates who blamed him for the distraction.

It didn't take long before Paul's rival August Unity to say something. The son of former new age hippies had hated Paul with a passion for years and fought against him throughout school. Paul had even beat out August for a job with the fire department as August's score was fundamentally higher than Paul's but Paul's naval service gave him several additional points putting him ahead of August causing August to have to get a job in another town in the state.

August was quick to jump on the fact that Kyle was adopted, joking "guess you finally failed at something- can't knock up your wife! I feel bad for the kid, he would have been better off in a group home than that dump you live in! I hope he is smart enough to flee while he still has a chance."

Paul knew he was trying to rile him up and calmly retorted "you just insulted my son and my wife. Neither have ever said anything to you to deserve your insults nor do you have any right to make such horrid comments about them. My poor wife is heartbroken that she can't have another kid, my son never asked to be born and he sure as hell never asked to be adopted by a man who doesn't deserve to call himself a man. I took him in because I loved him and wanted to give him a home, he loves it with us and has enjoyed a stable home with a caring sister and dozens of friends and family and won the heart of a beautiful, smart, funny, and intelligent young woman."

He got right in front of August and announced "you don't have a wife or kids. You don't have a home. You were fired from your department for incompetence and causing a crash because you were drunk at the wheel. You don't have any right to say one word about me because you are nothing but a pathetic excuse for a human being. You are simply jealous that I worked my ass off to study for my civil service exam and spent three amazing years in the military while you wallowed away at a menial job. I worked hard to earn a promotion then additional training then certifications while you just sat around the table shooting the breeze. You haven't changed a bit, you blame everyone else for your troubles then complain when others move on without you."

He turned and walked away, with Rachel adding "Paul turned down a job as chief of the department you were with simply because he didn't want to deal with you. You wonder why nobody in your department wants anything to do with you? He's why. They wanted him and his experience and they missed out on him because you were fighting your termination. Even with you gone your stink still lingers and nobody wants the job until you are gone from that town."

August was laughed at as people started to search online for the story about August's crash. Laughs were heard as photos and articles were shared with a few announcing that he was still on probation for what he did. Paul simply sat down and grinned, it was the last event he expected and the night would go smoother for him from now on.

Kennedy finally got up to stretch and get a drink alongside Willie. The two had gotten a lot of notice from Willie's classmates especially as rumors had been spread about Kennedy being a man in drag. Kennedy could hear people talking about her and not liking what she heard, she couldn't help but also see the subtle glances that checked her out to see if her breasts were real or falsies and if she had an Adam's Apple on her neck or hairy knuckles- the stereotypical signs of a man in drag to ignorant people.

Willie subtly told her to let them talk, they didn't actually care and were more curious than malicious. Katie opened a lot of eyes but Kennedy was a mystery to them. They wouldn't know the truth and given how Kennedy looked they would not believe the rumors anyway.

Of course, not all could settle on rumors and innuendos. The duo endured an awkward encounter with the class gossip queen, Amber Turner. She was catty, vindictive, and would tear into anyone to get entertainment and exert her status among their classmates.

Amber zeroed in on Kennedy and tried to separate her from Willie, intending to get Kennedy to slip-up and react. Kennedy gave Willie a crooked smile and got him to get their drinks and sit down while Kennedy dealt with the woman. She wanted to enjoy her handiwork for once, it had been a few months since she had gone toe to toe with someone who needed to be chopped down to size especially a fool that didn't know who she was dealing with.

Amber noticed Kennedy's grin and suspected something was amiss but it was the wrong line of thought. She put on the charm and tried to flirt with Kennedy, intending to make her interested in her while getting the dirt on Willie. Kennedy turned it around and was going to use the dirt she had on Amber, dirt that was much bigger and in-depth than anything Amber could ever get.

Amber introduced herself with Kennedy proudly saying "nice to meet you. I'm Kennedy Pena, Willie Pena's wife." Amber was taken aback by the statement but decided to go with it, asking "wife? Does he know about your past?"

Kennedy had her. She casually told her "Willie knows enough. He doesn't know everything and there are some things nobody will ever get to know, not even my uncle and therapist."

Amber thought she had something on Kennedy but the wording Kennedy had used was carefully selected. Willie didn't know everything about her past as she never told him about her time in law school or elementary school. He knew all about college and after law school, as he was right beside her and knew about the hell she endured in high school and at home throughout her life. However, elementary/middle school and law school never come up for discussion.

Kylie, her daughter, knew about those times as she specifically asked about them during their frequent mother/daughter bonding sessions. Being so much like her mother Kylie wanted to know everything about her life thus the talks. Her son Reed simply didn't care about her past as she didn't need to tell him everything and he respected her past as being the past, with Willie sharing that view and knowing that Reed himself didn't want her to relive terrible memories simply because he was curious.

Amber casually asked "so he doesn't know the truth about you? How could you withhold such important information? Surely he must know that his tranny wife is going to ruin his life!"

Kennedy had her hooked and ready for a take-down. She countered with a sly "what he doesn't know won't hurt him. Besides, he doesn't think it matters as he has told me that himself."

Kennedy spoke the truth and set up Amber for her downfall. Amber would start to spread rumors and at some point would get herself into a tough situation as Kennedy countered with her full force against her. The woman doesn't fool around, she was going for Amber's throat and going to make her regret what she was trying to do to Willie.

Willie heard much of the exchange and had to fight saying something then had to fight off a smile. The woman had no clue just what she was getting herself into and had no idea what Kennedy was capable of let alone how she could retaliate without retaliating. Amber was in over her head and swimming with a shark who ate little fish like her for a snack.

Willie sat at the table and immediately his smile was noticed by Katie. Willie happily told her "Amber Turner is talking to Kennedy in the hopes of getting dirt on me to use against me. She has been eyeing me all night and wants to ensnare me, hoping to become the queen of the city once I dump Kennedy but the poor woman just fell into Kennedy's trap!"

Katie let out a laugh that Lindsay shook her head at. Jaimie and Jake looked at Willie who had to explain "she's the gossip queen of our class who thinks she is better than everyone else. She is simply lazy and thinks her good looks gives her the right to pass judgment on everyone. She thought she could use Kennedy's past against me, she has no clue that she got talked into a corner by Kennedy telling the truth. She thinks Kennedy withheld her past and is lying to me and that I don't know who Kennedy was born as, all Kennedy said was that she didn't tell me everything and that is true. I already know what Amber thinks I don't know and what she didn't tell me is known to me already through Kylie."

Katie had a big smile on her face. Kennedy had outfoxed the queen and, in turn, made her out to be the fool she truly was. Lindsay had to shake head at the turn of events, casually telling both "remind me never to get into a war of wits with you three. Although a debate between Valerie, Kennedy, and Katie would be something worth paying to see."

As the others were talking and watching the show Amber kept poking into Kennedy's story. Kennedy happily told her "I'm employed by the Attorney General's Office and have met a lot of politicians and high profile government officials. Willie and I have been to some interesting places and met people like ambassadors and nobility. We actually had dinner the other night with some visiting nobles."

She had to stifle a laugh as she said that last part. She was once again telling the truth, with Amber thinking that she was lying and starting to think that Kennedy was making things up. Kennedy had to fight a smile but added: "we have had to fight to balance our lives thanks to rubbing elbows with so many different people of influence."

Paul had to be shooed away by Rachel who caught on immediately to what Kennedy was doing and why. Out of earshot, she explained "Kennedy is telling her the truth. It's not her fault that the vain skank can't accept it. It's common knowledge and online, if she can't be bothered to research it then it's her own fault." Paul reluctantly agreed and seeing Kennedy's shark grin he shuddered at the looming encounter.

With Paul out of hearing range, Amber didn't hold back anymore. She opened up on Kennedy with "you are really a piece of work. You lie to your husband about being a tranny freak then make up bullshit stories about knowing powerful people. All this from someone who works for the Attorney General? Get real! You are just some cheap skank hired for the night to make him look like he isn't gay. We all know he's gay, going with you just proves it!"

Kennedy had her finally where she wanted her. She stepped over the line and drew a crowd. She was ripe for the plucking and Kennedy had the perfect ax to chop her down to size.

Calming herself she casually explained "yes I am transgender. I had my surgery after graduating college and before law school. I was actually a classmate of Katie Eliza in law school, beating her out for the top spot in our class. Willie knows all of this, what he doesn't know is simply what he never asked about and he has no interest in. That is he never asked about what I did in law school as it was boring to him as he isn't into interested in financial law. I didn't tell him but I told our daughter who then told him anyway. She wants no secrets between any of us so she told him everything with my blessing. I never lied to you about any of that, I told you the truth. Just because it was misconstrued as lying is no my fault as you were looking for a lie. It's merely and omission of fact, and I omitted it because it was irrelevant as he didn't want to know it and told me himself he didn't want to know that."

She pauses and grinned, adding "not only do I work for the Attorney General's Office, I am the Deputy Attorney General. That is, I'm second only to the Attorney General in this state. I worked my way up from researcher to investigator to prosecutor to head of the financial crimes division to my current position. My boss knows all about my life, she and I have no secrets and speak freely. We may not share the same politics but she knows I don't care for politics at all. The governor knows as well, it's hard not to know as his grandson-in-law is one of Willie's top officers and our nephew is dating his granddaughter and his other four granddaughters are close friends with Willie's cousin's daughter and son."

Kennedy slammed her hard with the next part. She happily added "as for rubbing elbows with important people, well that's easy. I already said I know the governor personally, along with my boss the Attorney General. Then you have the Ambassador to the Court of St. James' who happens to have been friends with my uncle back in their Army days. Add to that Willie's cousin is married to an honest to goodness English lord and as such has the title of the Countess of Boston. Her sons and daughters are all lords and ladies with her sons being the Earl of Frampton, Viscount of Braintree, and future Marquess of Lincoln, and future Earl of Boston. Her son-in-law and daughter are the Baron and Baroness of Gosfield and daughter-in-law is the Viscountess of Braintree. Her father and mother-in-law are the Marquess and Marchioness of Lincoln, two amazing people who hosted us at their estate for their grandchildren's wedding."

She wasn't done, adding "their youngest son and my younger son happen to be best friends and my daughter is best friends and classmates with their daughter and we did actually host the family for dinner a few nights ago so yes we did entertain visiting nobles as they are in fact titled nobles. So no, I have not lied. I told you the truth and the whole truth and it is not my fault that you choose not to believe any of it."

She waited for Amber to say something. Amber caught on a few things that Kennedy expected and shot back "Willie doesn't have any other family! You are again making up stuff."

Kennedy smiled and shot back "that's where you are wrong. Jorge and Victoria Castillo, who just happens to by John Finn's aunt and uncle, adopted him as their own son. That made Willie John's cousin. John's sister Karen happens to be the woman I was talking about. She is married to Lord Nigel Smith Sr., the Earl of Boston. That is Boston, Lincolnshire, England not Boston, Massachusetts as you are going to claim. The ambassador has known the Finns, Reagans, Kellys, and Raymonds, for decades. You can verify everything with the man behind you and looking incredibly angry at your attempts to try to extort me and use my husband. It won't work. You never had a shot. You had no idea who you were dealing with and what we actually know. All of this was freely available online which could have taken you all of a minute to search but your lust and greed only saw a quick buck from Willie so I am not surprised that you couldn't be bothered with research."

Kennedy walked away and let Louis handle Amber. Louis was blunt and to the point, saying "that woman never lied to you. You were looking for one to use against her and her husband and she simply told the truth. Just because your assumptions were wrong does not mean she lied. She has three amazing children that they adopted including two that were extremely abused by your best friend Penelope. Funny, you did exactly as she did only yours is worse!"

Louis looked at the onlookers and explained "you all remember Penelope Castillo, her friend? Kennedy and Willie Pena adopted Penelope's three youngest children after she was arrested for malicious child abuse of two of them including allowing the second youngest to be sexually assaulted by her teacher. And yes, she is a girl no matter what you try to claim. That girl has done more in her short time as a girl than you have done in your entire life and recently helped save the life of another girl like her. Her big brother is a model student and enamored with a beautiful young woman and has had a great job for the past two years and even earned international acclaim for his work."

He then smiled and added "Willie is madly in love with that woman and knew from the start just what she was born as. She wasn't entirely successful at hiding her past and Willie's family knew about her secret and encouraged him to stick by her if only to help her. They fell in love and despite not being able to have children they still found a way of being parents. She earned her job with the state and has saved victims from thousands of financial and legal predators and ensured hundreds were sent to prison and put out of business. She could run the state if she wanted to but she hates politics. She turned down being a judge just so she could be a mother to those three amazing children and be the wife of that amazing husband of hers."

Louis then added a terse "you are the laziest woman I have ever met, and I have met some horribly lazy people. You act like you are a big shot but you are nothing but a leech. You have no shot of landing Willie or John or any other successful man. Your little love child you had with one of your one-night-stands is in great hands and I hope he never learns the truth. Oh yeah, I know who he is. In fact, I helped ensure that he ended up with a great family even if it wasn't direct."

He then added "you have some nerve calling Willie gay. He is a great judge of character and what he saw in you was clear: trouble. Your reputation is nothing but sex and usage and he didn't want any part of you. He rejected your advances on purpose. Not because he was gay, but because he didn't like you. He has never had eyes for men and never will. You can insinuate that he is because his wife is transgender but the man didn't see her as anything but a woman and has never seen what she had in her pants until they were married. So marrying a woman who was born in the wrong body is gay? Well, then you really have no clue what you are talking about and are only making yourself into a homophobic, transphobic, vain slut that will never be satisfied until someone finally shows you that you are just a pathetic excuse for a human being. By all means, try to ruin his life. You will see just how nasty his friends and family can be especially his parents. And yes, they are his parents. I know for a fact that his father and mother asked the Castillos to look after Willie before they passed away, I took Jorge there myself! Say hello to Penelope when you make your monthly visit to Framingham, I am sure she will be thrilled to know that her kids are in the care of someone who can and does show love and affection that those three never received before."

There were gasps heard as Amber's face drained of all color. She rushed away in shame as Louis had gone for the throat. Little Miss Queen had been found out to be just another floozy and gave up a kid to live off of others and had the nerve to break up a solid marriage for her own gain.

Louis nodded to the others and moved on. He had gotten his message across and done so twofold. Willie was under his protection as well as Jorge's protection. Every rumor about Kennedy was true but the slander was ripped away revealing the truth and it was even better than the lies. She was someone who was not to be trifled with and had the backing of people who were known to fight back hard.

John had kept to himself most of the night but needed to get up and stretch his legs. Valerie stayed with Jaimie who herself had barely moved. She knew John was the last to take his lumps among the crowd as he had the most to endure due to his life changing so much in the past five years.

John moved off and said hello to a few people he knew through their children and were glad that they were kind enough to not say much. There wasn't anything to really say, he encountered them as parents and as their children's teacher so small talk wasn't needed. Their only questions were about Ella and Logan which John was more than happy to sing praises of.

Listening in as John talked with their classmates were the Orleans. Jacques and Nadia Orleans hated John with a passion but it was nothing more than pure jealousy. The couple had become parents at an early age thanks to Jacques being too lazy to use one of the free condoms the school had available to students and had endured a lot of shame and humiliation as a result.

Jacques was forced to get a job right away and barely finished high school while Nadia had to make due with the alternative school until Pete was old enough to go to daycare. Nadia had dreams of being a powerful businesswoman but being a teenage mother crushed those plans. Jacques being too lazy to hold down a real job didn't help matters either, the two fought constantly over money and Jacques spending his time with friends when he should have been with Pete allowing her time to study.

Once they graduated life came at them fast as they were forced to get public assistance and housing. The two lived in a rented house until both sets of parents died leaving them with just enough money to buy a house but not enough to actually live on. Pete got them a check from the government but they were stuck together and resented one another.

The Orleans family had hated John for years before Pete came along but that unplanned pregnancy and forced marriage only made things worse. John became an uncle around the same time and enjoyed being an uncle to the kids which only served to infuriate them as they struggled. Pete was a good kid and actually befriended the Smith twins, John's niece and nephew, but the bitterness towards John spoiled any chance of them being close.

John struggled mentally while the Orleans family struggled financially. Unlike them, he had his family to help him and proved to be a great father figure to his niece and nephew. Pete envied John but respected that he was not the twins' father and kept his distance. He stupidly got in with the Clarence family and got away from the Smith Twins but thanks to Pete's foul-up as a freshman that John set straight he got away from them and started to see the bitterness as foolishness.

Pete had had a crush on Hannah for years and until he was a sophomore he never had a chance to show his true feelings for her. Bryan gave his blessing for him to date Hannah which caused an uproar at home which Pete ignored. He had no intentions of giving up the love of his life for petty jealousy and anger and for that he paid the price- being tossed out on his 18th birthday and forced to finish the rest of high school as a roommate of John's nephews David and Patrick Peterson.

The Orleans heard about John adopting again and saw their chance to get revenge on him. Jacques strolled over and pointed out to John "do you always pick and choose who joins your little cult or were those kids forced to call you ‘dad' or ‘master' or whatever else you force them to call you?" John ignored him and continued on, not wanting to lose his cool with them.

Nadia walked over and added "what's it, now five kids you brought in? You can't get it up so you compensate by making that slut of a wife feel better by having a fully grown brat? Poor things must be sleeping in hammocks in the basement."

John had enough and turned to face them. He carefully thought about what he would say and smiled. He knew that no matter what he said they'd shove it back to him. He didn't bother pulling punches and went right for a low blow to get them to react.

John shot back a harsh "there's plenty of space, in fact, I bought the dream house you two used to boast that you would one day own. I added onto it and made it more modern but kept the faux-Victorian look of the front. I only regret that I couldn't add a pool but then again there's one in the city already and a huge beach not far away so it's pointless to buy one."

John had a sly grin. They bit the bait with Nadia firing back "you bastard! I hope that place burns down. I ought to do the arson myself! Those bastard kids deserve to be put with real families, not some pathetic rich snob."

John grinned and finally stopped toying with them. He somberly told them "I adopted five of the kids. One I adopted after fostering her and helping her overcome a mental hell that I hope nobody ever has to endure. One I adopted because I married his mother and who is the woman of my dreams. One I adopted because he won our hearts and needed a family to help him be the amazing young man he was inside. The last two I adopted at the request of their mother who was murdered because people thought she knew things that she didn't know. I couldn't deny her final request, and I am proud that both have seen me as their father. The last two are my biological son and daughter, and I am damn proud of the man and woman both are becoming."

John waited for them to say something. He turned away and didn't bother addressing them anymore, he said what he had to say and was not going to give them any more satisfaction. Valerie though wasn't going to leave well enough alone and happily added "your son, the Baron of Gosfield, gives his regards. He and his wife are enjoying their new home overlooking the park. He tells me that it was another house you both claimed you would one day own."

Valerie dared them to say something more. Valerie turned to the people John was talking with and showed pictures of Logan and Ella while adding commentary about Cat and JD. She loved playing the loving wife to John's happy father and was doing more for John's reputation among the crowd than words could have done simply by doing something so ordinary as showing pictures of their kids.

The Orleans were about to retaliate but Willie firmly told them that they had better leave. Their words about the kids were out of line and their threat of burning down the house was a serious threat. Jacques tried to look tougher than Willie but backed down as Paul stood by him, adding a firm "I think your home should have a little inspection. I don't think you two have kept it up to code and we have been working hard to remove dangers like undermaintained homes from our city. We damn near lost two kids due to that, I sure as hell don't want to have to yank you two out because you are too busy fuming over an idiotic at-bat by an eight-year-old kid 30 years ago to maintain your house properly."

Dan escorted them out, adding a firm "he really is an English lord now. The man who was his great-uncle-in-law died after their wedding in England and by Her Majesty's decree, he inherited his title. Your son is worth £100 million not counting the small trust fund John started for him. His wife is also worth a tidy $10 million as well not counting her own trust fund. Your grandchildren will be well off, but you will never see them. I'll personally take Pete and Hannah down to the courthouse to ensure that they get a restraining order against you to prevent you from doing anything to them and Valerie will ensure that you are unable to harass them legally now that you know they have money."

After sitting down for an hour Alison reluctantly got up with Jaimie to go to the restroom with Jaimie stopping off at her locker to get her notes for the speech. Alison snickered as she saw the mess inside which Jaimie tried to pass off as being mostly her boyfriend Rick's mess but Alison could tell it was a little white lie. It was funny to see the normally in-control Jaimie having a bit of a wild side in the mess but Alison always knew she hid her true self at times for the sake of others.

The two were unlucky to encounter a wallowing Celeste and infuriated Amber. They saw the two walking by and confronted them, knowing they were connected to Paul and Willie and their mutual embarrassments. Jaimie steeled herself, knew to let them make a scene, then respond accordingly while Alison was ready to counter everything they threw at her as only a psychiatrist protecting her patients could.

Celeste struck first, teasing "looks like we have a couple of unwanted guests. You two don't belong here. This is a private event."

Amber added "we get kicked out and they let these two in? This kid doesn't belong here and this tramp sure as hell doesn't belong either. They have some nerve tossing us out, we actually went to school here!"

Jaimie looked at Alison who nodded, explaining "I know you graduated. I also know you were kicked out of here for rude and insulting behavior towards others as well as vile words about Uncle Paul's son. Aunt Alison is married to a graduate, the woman who happens to be the guest of honor. I'm here on behalf of the graduating class and after seeing the behavior of you tonight I am glad that none of the other seniors were here as you would not have left here without one of them ensuring you could never show your face in Winnisimmet again. My brothers and cousins alone would not have held back, I doubt either my boyfriend or cousin Scott would have left you without a twisted arm and foot in your rear end."

Alison grinned at that, knowing it was exactly what Rick and Scott would have done. Alison added "I know you feel insignificant to everyone else here. You have never bothered to try to better yourself and survived solely on your looks and the generosity of others. Sadly tonight you didn't find either among your classmates. Perhaps if you tried to actually better yourself and give up your vain ways you might turn your lives around and see things as being better for you."

Alison hit them hard and with irrefutable logic. Jaimie added a solemn "we will keep your secret but we can't guarantee that Uncle Paul doesn't find out that you are his son's mother. It's bad enough he had to endure a set of parents who didn't treat him like a son, but to find out his birth mother is just a lazy, vain sleaze might shatter him."

They walked away as Celeste and Amber were fighting for words. Jake told both to leave, they were trespassing and he would prosecute if they didn't leave. Ian backed him up, smiling as he added: "I never thought I would get the chance to arrest a relative but I have no problem arresting you Aunt Amber."

Amber rushed off followed by Celeste. Alison stopped Jaimie and asked what she meant before, getting a solemn "Uncle Louis let slip that she was Kyle's real mother. He doesn't need the pain of knowing that, he already has enough trouble." Alison hugged her for that, adding a happy "he would rather know the truth and not bother with finding her later. He will bounce back, he's a great young man."

Jake explained what happened to the others as they sat around the tables. Paul nodded to Rachel, explaining to everyone "I'll talk with him soon. He will understand why I am telling him and it'll be up to him if he amends his records to show he doesn't want contact. He's mature enough to make this choice for himself."



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