Parting of the Ways Part 9- Byrne Bright

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Alice Porter had to hide her glee as Stephanie told her about Rosalind having a date with Ashley. The two helped set it up while Rosalind watched helplessly from the side of the room. Stephanie's girlfriend Trina Phillips was eager to agree to it, her parents insisted that Stephanie and Rosalind's brother Raul and his girlfriend Avery James accompany the couples in order to keep the girls in order. It wasn't meant to mean Rosalind was going to be out of order, it was aimed at Trina and Stephanie.

Rosalind wasn't given a say in the matter, but she was alright in going with them to their favorite movie theater. The hitch was getting Ashley to agree, he wasn't sure about it and knew his grandfather would never let him go. Alice tried to dissuade his feelings but Ashley knew his grandfather best. In his eyes, Ashley was a worthless human being who didn't deserve a girl like Rosalind.

The next day, Alice spoke with Stanley Eagleson about his grandson's date. Stanley refused to believe that they had a date and when told where and when it was occurring he swore at her over allowing his "sissy fagot" grandson near her daughter. The bile coming from his mouth fell on deaf ears, Alice had heard it all before and wouldn't let his anger hurt the kids' blossoming love. She would, however, keep an eye on Ashley in case of retaliation.

When Ashley got home from work Stanley grabbed him and smacked him hard across the face, breaking his lip open and leaving a large red mark and bruise on his chin. His only words were "dump her or die." He didn't have to say anything else, Ashley knew what he meant and would ensure it was complied with.

After dinner Ashley went next door and told Rosalind that the date was off and that for her own safety she needed to find someone else. Alice looked him over and shook her head, Stanley had finally made his intentions known and had actually hurt his grandson in a way that required her to act. He may have terrified his wife into not telling others about abuse but she wasn't under his thumb and didn't fear him, she called in the cavalry to help Ashley, his brother, and his grandmother.

A half hour later Chloe Daniels arrived with Ian Bailey and Sebastian and Fabian Perez and asked to speak with Alice. After she was told what happened and why Chloe made her way next door to the Eagleson/Byrne home and asked to speak with Ashley while Stanley was kept away. Chloe immediately spotted his swollen lip as well as the bruised chin and still-fading hand print on Ashley's face and agreed that it was clearly from his grandfather and not roughhousing with boys or being assaulted by boys as she knew Stanley would claim.

She gave the nod to Ian then asked to speak with Stanley. She had him explain how Ashley ended up with a laceration on his lip, bruised chin, and large hand print on his face. She let him try to wiggle out of that while Ian and the twins readied themselves behind him.

Stanley was blunt, saying loudly and harshly "that little runt got himself beat up again. He won't fight back and he always gets hurt. He has had multiple broken fingers and sprained wrists because of the boys. I'm sick of him getting hurt, he deserves it for being a fat slob and if he gets hurt because he can't fight back then it's his own damn fault."

She asked him when he received the injuries, being told harshly "they happened after he finished work. He always walks the long way home taking him through the rough neighborhood which gets himself beat up. The dumbass always goes looking for fights knowing he is going to get hurt."

Chloe had him there. He lied to them about the origins of Ashley's injuries as the hand print was too fresh to have been from more than two hours ago. From the look of it, there would be a lasting bruise on his chin and cheek making it hard to deny that it was a random assault and not from the heavy slap. She also knew from Alice and Rosalind the exact route he took home with the two going directly home and not passing through the area he claimed as it was six blocks in the other direction from their street.

Ian and the twins arrested Stanley for assault and child abuse. Looking at the entering Cynthia and little Liam she knew she would be back there as she didn't think he'd stay held in detention for long before Cynthia was forced to bail him out. She made note to come back the next day, this time with a removal order...that is if she wasn't called out that night.

Ian had no trouble getting Stanley out of the house but his look was enough to have Cynthia think things over seriously about their relationship. Now that Chloe was involved she risked losing the kids to foster care because she couldn't stand up to Stanley. She knew he was going to be back with a vengeance and things would get very ugly.

Shedding a tear, she told Chloe "he will be back and he's coming for Ashley. Please take good care of the boys if something happens to me." Chloe looked on in shock but she was telling her that she fully expected to be seriously hurt or worse by Stanley very shortly, as she herself had just felt.

Chloe left and felt the need to look into the kids' reasons for being with Cynthia and Stanley. Something wasn't adding up, where were their parents and why were they put into the care of a man who has shown he is a terrible influence on them. Her own son, TJ Daniels, was impacted by Liam's attitude towards transgender and gay people which she now understood to be Stanley's words not his.

Back at her office she spoke with her supervisor, Mark Sylvester, about the case. Mark listened closely then added a somber "we know their mother. Or rather we know their father. He's the man Ricardo hired to take Juan Perez's place in the financial law area."

Chloe's eyes lit up in shock. He was a sharp looking man who was quick with his wit and even quicker to shoot down your arguments. Ricardo loved his style, he was a great counter to Ricardo's hot-headedness and their other colleague's brash and boisterous style.

She asked how he knew her family's connection. Mark clammed up but since she was the potential next-of-kin for the kids he had to explain "he had an unguarded moment. He accidentally let slip that he had two sons and lost them to his parents four years ago when he started to transition. Liam never knew him as his dad, he was put in daycare as soon as Stanley achieved custody. The kids were stripped away from their parent simply because he couldn't live a lie anymore."

Stanley getting custody was a travesty. Mark nodded, adding an angry "the judge that they had was the same one that screwed over Shea Porter and let Tanya York's mother get custody of her kids. He was as rotten as they come and it's a huge reason why he's sitting in prison now after getting removed form the bench for his antics against Tanya and her husband James. He refused to abide by the laws if he didn't believe in them and used his power to rip apart families. James fought back thanks to Ricardo but it took a lot of overwhelming firepower to do so."

Chloe sighed, it was going to be a messy situation. Their next-of-kin is barred from seeing the kids despite not having any reason to be barred from them. She didn't think that Ashley would survive being placed into a group home and Liam would get hurt or worse by this whole situation. They needed help.

Mark saw the despair and told her firmly "we will get Ricardo and Valerie onto the case. She can act on the kids' behalf while their father seeks custody again. If he is lucky, he will get Judge Perez to hear the case. Valerie will fight tooth and nail for their rights and will ensure they are reunited as a family."

At home, Ashley was starting to get anxious about what happened. Cynthia tried to calm him but he knew that his grandfather was going to come after him and force him to recant his story. He hadn't said anything to Chloe but it didn't matter to his grandfather- he was still at fault for causing him to smack him in the first place and that was enough to warrant further punishment for the embarrassment of being arrested and putting up with DCF intervention.

Cynthia sighed and told the boys "I know who called Chloe in to check on you and she won't let your grandfather get away with harming you anymore. She was required by law to call them in to protect you two. He hurt you before but never around me, if he had he knew I'd have to call DCF and turn him in. This Chloe woman is working for a man and woman who know where to get help and is probably talking with the right people to ensure that you are finally reunited with your dad. You should never have been here, you belong with him. I love you two dearly but your place is with him, not here."

She was crying now. The worst moment of her life was when she showed she was too week to stand up to her husband over their daughter becoming their son. He was a good person, nothing like his father. Yet his violent past and connections to shady people were ignored by the judge who didn't agree with him becoming who he had to be on the outside. Her son lost his kids for no valid reason.

Stanley got full custody of the boys, with Cynthia being just a parent on paper. He made all of the decisions for the boys, he told them what to do and how to do it. She could never stand up to him and his domineering ways, she hated how he acted toward the boys but couldn't stand up to him. Until that day that is.

Across the city, Mark asked to speak with Ricardo Vincent and his associates. Sitting all three down, Mark sadly stated "this afternoon Stanley Eagleson assaulted his grandson Ashley. He has been taken into custody but we don't believe that he will stay there for long. Ashley is in danger, we will be removing him and his brother from their home tomorrow if he doesn't strike before then. I know that you have lost all custody of the boys but there was no reason whatsoever to have done that. I am overstepping my authority as a DCF employee here but I must ask that you seek custody of the boys, it has to be done tomorrow morning or they will go into a foster home or a group home. If that happens, I fear Ashley won't survive long."

Ricardo shook his head and asked "is it because of Rosalind?" Mark nodded, getting a curious "who is Rosalind?" from the junior associate to his right. Ricardo smirked as he confessed "my new niece."

The associate to his left tried to hide his face, knowing that this was going to get messy if not bloody. He sighed with defeat, adding "I don't have a choice, do I? You put me on the spot. If I don't file they are going to get hurt or lost inside the system, if I do I get a target put back on my back by the judges."

Ricardo shook his head before adding "that piece of garbage sorry excuse for a judge was removed from the bench and put in prison for his abusive actions. Simply filing should get you your kids back. I'll file it for you, with luck Judge Perez will hear the case and given her affinity for me she will give you an actual fair hearing. She runs a tight ship as the chief judge, she will not let any antics occur."

Cameron Byrne understood what Ricardo was saying but had to fight old memories about his parents. He loved his mother but despised his father. He transitioned late, he tried to be the woman that his father wanted him to be but he couldn't stand it anymore once Liam was born.

He attended college as an androgynous student, with his long hair and stocky build he could have been either a male or female. He kept to himself and rarely dated, most girls thought of him as a butch lesbian but he only looked the part rather than acting it. He graduated with a degree in finance and worked at a bank for a decade before being forced to quit due to his transition.

He sued the bank for discrimination and won a hefty settlement that went towards his further education and transition. He was a man, he had to be a man. He may have been a mother and a woman on the outside but he was always a man on the inside.

He gave birth to Ashley after a drunken one-night-stand then used donor sperm to have Liam in a last ditch effort to stop his masculine feelings. Ashley and he were close as he grew up, with Cameron being fine with him being sensitive and timid of others. He understood his mother being his father inside, he supported his transition as Cameron was everything he wanted in a parent.

After Liam was born and he was fired from the bank he told his parents that he couldn't live a lie anymore and had to transition. Stanley went on a warpath and physically assaulted him then got a restraining order and custody of the boys while Cameron was recovering in the hospital. He never had a chance to fight for their custody, the judge summarily granted custody and blocked all attempts to get them back from Stanley.

Cameron suffered severe postpartum depression that Stanley used as an excuse to keep him locked up until the custody battle was finished. With no children and no job, Cameron spent the next three years working hard to earn his law degree before passing the bar exam. Ricardo offered him a position with him as an associate, splitting profits 50/25/25 with his new coworker. He was specifically sought out by Ricardo, with a son who was transitioning to male and having a familiarity with an area he lacked Cameron was the perfect hire especially as every firm he applied to told Cameron a sold "no" with no reason for rejection except his transition.

Ricardo had Cameron deep in thought. They had only been working together for two months but the man knew when Cameron was away with the pixies and going to need a while to gather his thoughts before striking out. Cameron was fighting a losing battle, he knew that he had to fight for kids' rights.

Ricardo recognized the sign immediately, Cameron had made his decision. Mark sighed and announced "DCF had no involvement last time, we are going to recommend that the boys be placed with you as you are their biological parent and you should never have lost them in the first place and seeing as we had no involvement and your father was convicted of assaulting you we are going to refuse to allow him custody based solely on the interests of the boys. You however have no reason to be denied, you have a solid job and despite being transgender you have a stellar reputation and have shown to us that you are the right person to care for them."

Cameron added a somber "I didn't want to have it come to this but it should have been appealed. I was too numb to fight back then. It's my fault, now mom and the kids are going to get hurt because I didn't have the strength to stand up to dad."

Mark left them to hammer out the custody claim as well as prepare for counterattacks from Stanley and his stooges. He had at least one shady lawyer willing to help him out, plus a few guys who were known to perform violence on people for a price. Those men alone were going to bite him in the rear as Mark wasn't going to let the kids anywhere near Stanley due to those goons for hire. They were a clear danger to the kids, while their father was around people he would leave his own toddler son with.

Later that evening Stanley was bailed out by his lawyer friend. He made his way right for home and tossed Cynthia aside as she tried to stand in his way attempting to calm him down, causing her to break her scapula and clavicle bones, several of her ribs, as well as hitting her head causing her to receive a severe concussion. Liam tried to protect her as well and ended up being knocked down hard, landing on his coccyx bruising it and causing him to sprain his wrist.

Ashley heard Stanley's screaming and climbed out of his window, jumping onto a nearby tree branch. It took all of his strength to grab it but his adrenaline was flowing and despite his chubby exterior he had a lot of strength in his muscles. He used it smartly as he swung himself up and onto a solid branch then climbed down onto the grass before climbing over a neighbor's fence and safety beyond. It took just 10 seconds to do all of that, far faster than it took Stanley to rush upstairs to his bedroom.

He ran for help from the nearest police cruiser, which just happened to be Ian's. Ian took one look at Ashley and called in the assault, not needing to be asked what happened. Ashley was taken into protective custody in the back of the cruiser while Sebastian and Fabian drove to the house to apprehend Stanley but couldn't find him, only finding the unconscious Cynthia and crying Liam on the floor forcing them to call for an ambulance for the two while putting out a BOLO(be on the look out) for Stanley for the two new assaults.

Stanley fled the house as soon as Ashley hopped the neighbor's fence. He was no fool, the boy was going to ensure he was sent to jail. He had hurt Cynthia and Liam, without Ashley to claim that he didn't hurt either of them he was going to prison. He had to lay low until he got at Ashley to recant.

Chloe was called in to take Ashley to a temporary home. Cynthia was in no condition to care for him and likely would need surgery on her shoulder. Liam's coccyx wasn't broken but he was going to need a few days to recover fully and would need help doing a lot of things due to the pain.

The boys needed a place to stay, with the legal case brewing it was felt that someone new to them but who wasn't new to their situation would be best. Chloe looked over the list of foster parents and none could house two of them especially one who needed some help. She needed to call in a favor from one of her friends, one that hopefully worked in their favor.

Valerie and John Finn were able to help out, especially as they had the space for two and Liam had their nephew DJ Lopez close by for support. Ashley was reluctant to go, the Finns were everything his grandfather hated and were the reason his mother transitioned to become his father. He respected them, but he feared that it was going to be a big problem for them especially when his grandfather found out that he was staying with them.

John sat Ashley down and explained "your grandfather can try to come after us. He clearly didn't know that your neighbors were related to a bunch of cops and that we take abuse seriously. Alice's brother-in-law is a federal agent. Her other brother is the chief of police. And her first cousin, that's myself, is a reserve officer. He can't get you here, not without having a dozen cruisers here in a matter of seconds."

He showed his badge to Ashley, something that shocked him as he hadn't known anything about the Finns outside of the rumors and that most of them had his grandmother as a teacher. John continued "I care deeply about your grandmother and understand why she has kept quiet about her husband for so long, but your grandfather went too far. Alice saw you and Rosalind hug before you went inside, then when you broke it off with her you had a hand print and busted lip. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that he hit you. You are safe here, he can't get at you without having Dan, Willie, James, and I on him. He is going to prison now, he broke his bail and intended to hurt you. That won't get swept under the rug. Not with your father's new partners working against your grandfather."

Ashley was led to his room while his and Liam's things were brought in by Valerie. She then went to the hospital to check on Cynthia and Liam, finding them doing better but Cynthia still not well. Liam left with her, not enjoying the ride but trying hard to show he was a strong boy and not a baby.

Liam entered and was hugged by a scared DJ. He didn't know how to react, Valerie had to explain "he knows you aren't here for a visit and is trying to show he cares. It's alright, why don't you go next door and play with his toys while I get dinner ready. Be careful though."

The boys left with Valerie immediately getting a phone call from her sister Melanie Lopez. Melanie was not fishing for information so much as she was concerned by the way Liam was wincing in pain. After Valerie explained everything, Melanie had to fight the urge to lead a mod to go after Stanley.

Ashley fielded a few questions from Logan and Ella Finn when they returned from playing with their friends. Logan was sizing him up, trying to compare himself to Ashley after hearing so much about him from the family grapevine. Ella groaned and led her brother away, whispering to Ashley "he has a crush on your girlfriend. He is trying to see if you are better than him. He is jealous of you."

Ashley shook his head at hearing that, he didn't want to compete for girls. If he was older, Logan would have won Rosalind's heart with his personality and looks. Logan was a good looking boy, he was going to break hearts and have girls all over him and that was even before his personality wooed them.

Logan gave him an odd look as he was thinking. Logan demanded to know what was wrong, getting a mumbled "just my luck that another good looking boy likes Rosalind." Logan sat down on the bed and had to think about what he said, it made him feel odd but prideful.

He asked what Ashley meant. Ashley sighed, then explained "you are already good looking, and will be one of the best looking boys in school. You have the pick of the ladies. You don't have to act like you are looking for a girlfriend, they will come to you. You already act like a good guy, Rosalind said so when she was staying with you. If you were older she would have dated you."

That made Logan feel better. He mumbled "she said something like that before. I like her but she is too old for me. She likes you. Everyone said she likes you a lot. You aren't like other boys, you are nice to her and she likes that more than anything else. She said you may be big but you are not like any boy she has ever met. She likes you a lot."

Logan left him with that to think about. It was odd to talk about a girl like that with another guy but it felt good. His older brothers were good to him but they were a bit too old to talk with. He hoped that the two stayed together as Ashley was what he needed in an older boy- a mentor.

Logan stuck close to Ashley, while Logan's brother JD stuck close to Liam. JD has had a strong hated for Liam's grandfather due to Liam making others think that JD was trying to become a girl because his cousins were so girly and Jaimie Finn is transgender. Liam wasn't so bad when he wasn't acting like a doofus and seeing him hurt made sense to JD, Liam was simply like other boys who were abused.

Logan and Ashley got along well, even if Logan's crush was awkward for him the two didn't have any real bad blood. To John and Valerie, it was the first time they were seeing Logan maturing into a young man instead of the kid he was. The two were doing great things for one another as Ashley hadn't had a thought in a while about the fact he was staying with the one family that his grandfather hated with a passion and who was also his grandmother's friend and colleague.

Ashley had to wait until Logan had gone off to do something with their brothers to talk with Rosalind and tell her what happened. He was fearful that he might say something that upset the younger boy even if Logan was accepting of him dating his crush. Rosalind listened and felt horrible that they had caused a family to dissolve but was glad that Liam and Ashley were safe especially as the Finns were a family that you didn't want to cross.

The two talked for an hour before Alice had them call it a night, with Stephanie trying her hardest to be coy but still showed a smile as she listened to them talk. Valerie told Alice what was happening and had to keep Alice from rushing to beat the snot out of Stanley over hurting his wife and grandchildren. Hearing Alice seething in the background caused Ashley and Rosalind a lot of fear, they didn't want trouble but knew it would come to them.

The kids were prophetic as Stanley's lawyer got him released to his care then had him "cool off" at the bar, which was in reality him plotting his revenge against Ashley and the nosy DCF employee who was "responsible for his issues". His lawyer pretended not to know what he was planning and made no attempt to dissuade his "client" but offered a few hints about who he should go after first.

Out of all of them, Chloe was the most vulnerable. He had no idea that Chloe wasn't as vulnerable as thought as even though she was eight months pregnant she was never allowed to be alone and her husband and elder son were always with her to help her going so far as to have her husband drive her to and from work. They were trying to get her to start her maternity leave early and allow one of her trusted colleagues to take over until little Allan Daniels was born.

Chloe often spent lunch with her husband in downtown Boston near their offices. Being a federal agent, Mike Daniels was keenly aware of those around him and caught three people eyeing his wife a little too closely. They were lingering too long on her, constantly darting back to her and at him. He whispered to Chloe "I need to have a chat with those three behind us. Call for help, they are going to need it."

Mike didn't mince words. Chloe called 911 to report three men trying to assault her and her husband. When she mentioned that he was armed and that he was a federal agent it got a quick response from all available police officers, deputy sheriffs, and state troopers in the area. Being that they were in downtown Boston that resulted in at least four agencies sending every available body to help Mike out and keep the peace should he have to protect himself.

Mike walked over to the men, flashed his badge, then demanded to know why they were stalking his wife. The first officers arrived and listened to Mike question them, then caught on that something was up and took over. One officer recognized them from an hour earlier and told the others that they had been following the couple for far too long to have been a "misunderstanding" leading to the three men being detained for questioning while Mike filed a report with intent to press charges on Chloe's behalf.

Chloe drove home with a pair of state troopers escorting her car. At the Boston Police District A1 station the trio of stalkers were not holding up well under scrutiny from the Boston Police officers. The fact that they had tried to go after the wife of a fed wasn't sitting well with them and led to all three of them confessing that they were sent to assault and kidnap Chloe to make her rescind the charges against Stanley so he could clear his name and get his give his grandson payback for trying to ruin his life.

Mike made a phone call to Mark regarding Stanley's actions prompting Mark to ask the ADA handling the assault case to up the charges to include criminal conspiracy and multiple other felonies. Stanley now had a warrant for his arrest on serious charges, they weren't going to be swept away and his lawyer was not going to sweet talk a judge into letting him go free again. As he was out on bail for at least three separate crimes he was going to now be remanded to the Nashua Street Jail until trial.

Stanley got the news through his grapevine. A few family members of officers had managed to get the information that the cops had against him and it wasn't pretty. Stanley had nothing left to lose, he was gong to go after his grandson and ensure that the boy didn't talk no matter what the DA offered him.

That morning while Chloe and the others were unaware, Stanley made an appearance in court for the charges against him regarding the three assaults against his family. Judge Matthews was made aware of the charges against him but was limited to as to what he could do to prevent Stanley from going after Ashley and Liam beyond the normal abuse prevention orders. Ashley was granted a restraining order at the request of his new lawyer, Valerie, while Ricardo served him with the intent to seek custody on behalf of Cameron.

Judge Matthews set bail at $100,000 and ordered Stanley to keep away from all others involved in the case especially Ashley. That was ignored by Stanley while his lawyer pretended not to know that he was about to have his buddies go after Chloe, Ashley, Liam, and Cynthia as was planned the night before. Liam and Cynthia were safe due to Alice and Melanie keeping them company but Ashley was vulnerable at times. Chloe was the most vulnerable but she wasn't actually vulnerable due to her husband being by her side.

Judge Matthews asked to speak with Valerie, this time dragging Ricardo in with him. The custody situation was brought up leading to Ricardo explaining and Judge Matthews shaking his head in anger at his colleague's actions four years before. Valerie explained the rest of the story which only led to Judge Matthews to have the ADA made aware that attempts against those associated with the criminal cases being targeted by Stanley and to be ready for additional charges to be filed against him.

Valerie had to fight a grin while Ricardo groaned and added "he is going to make a huge mistake, Chloe Daniels is never alone and her husband Mike is off the next few days thanks to his recent case. If he makes a move on her then he is going to have half the BPD, MSP, and every agent in New England on him before he realizes what he had just done. That's if Mike doesn't stop them first."

The ADA who entered cringed at hearing that. It didn't need to be repeated, the name "Daniels" was known among the DA's office for all the right reasons and that was before he joined the ATF. He gave a solemn "we will be waiting for the defendant's actions and will take action accordingly."

Outside, Chloe called Valerie to alert her about the attempt on her. It only cause her to shake her head in disappointment, he had clearly planned it the night before and the whole showing up for the arraignment is just a smokescreen for the attempts. Valerie called Alice who told her that security already got two men trying to get at Cynthia but were stopped by hospital police.

Melanie called to tell her that her husband Dan had arrested another two but they were in serious trouble as they had grabbed the wrong kid- her son DJ! DJ fought them as much as possible including kicking them in the crotch as hard as he could and biting their hands while Dan rushed over to stop them. Both were writhing in pain as DJ had bitten open all four of their arms and broken one of their shins while causing one to suffer ruptured testicles in the process.

Dan's call to 911 got several cruisers to respond with officers calling EMS to treat the bites as well as ensure that DJ didn't need anything to counteract any diseases that were in their blood. It was a scary sight but DJ stood tall and proud as he had taken down two kidnappers, with Dan trying hard not to smile at his son's heroism. The officers just nodded at his reactions, he was his father's son.

Stanley's lawyer told him to lay low until things blew over. He was in serious trouble due to the three abductions failing so miserably. The fact that two involved police families was a tough thing to recover from and if he tried anything further he was going to get in further trouble that he couldn't save him from.

Stanley didn't really care that Liam's, Cynthia's, and Chloe's abductions failed, he wanted Ashley more than anyone else. It didn't matter what happened to the other three, Ashley was the key to his freedom. It didn't matter that Ashley was no longer needed as a witness as Stanley's assault on Liam and Cynthia ensured that he was going to be in prison for at least five years if not longer, he had to "clear his name" by getting at Ashley. He was the key.

Ashley went to work that morning with Riley Pierce giving him a lift to the rallying point for the street cleaners. He didn't notice that he was being watched throughout the morning by onlookers just down the street. Rosalind did see them though, they were hard to miss if you were used to keeping an eye out for people trying to harm you.

Thanks to Rosalind's previous behavior she had gotten used to having to watch out for all potential dangers from others. More than one girl tried to take her frustrations out on her for Rosalind's antics as a jerk under her sister Monica's guidance. This time though she could tell they weren't focused on her, they were clearly looking at Ashley and whatever he did. No matter where they went they were followed by the people watching Ashley.

Rosalind sensed trouble and texted her mother that something was about to happen to her and Ashley. She didn't have to wait long as the guys saw their opportunity and went after him as he dragged their barrel full of shovels and brooms along the street as their coworkers walked ahead of them. They were quick to grab Ashley but Rosalind jumped on them, knocking them down and breaking Ashley free.

The two ran as fast as they could from there, leaving the barrel behind. Rosalind's phone was still on to which Alice heard the whole altercation as well as the two being threatened by Stanley's friends while Rosalind got behind them to pounce. Alice called the police while the couple tried to hide, ending up on a bus that was just turning the corner onto the street and giving them cover and enough time to get away.

Aboard and out of sight, the two headed to Boston and perceived safety. This was problematic, they couldn't go back without getting nabbed by Stanley's goons who knew where to get them as they got off the bus. Their only option was to find a place to hide and hope that Ricardo could get at Stanley before Stanley got at them.

The trouble was they kept their phones on allowing Alice and Valerie to call them. They refused to say where they were going and after they had talked with Valerie and Alice refused all phone calls even form Stephanie and Raul. The duo didn't turn off their phones though, which was a big mistake that they didn't realize at the time.

Ashley knew of a place where they could go in Roxbury. It was isolated but safe. They could get out of there easily and blend into the neighborhood if it came down to it. It wasn't exactly the nicest of neighborhoods but he had walked through it enough times with his father when he was younger to know every backstreet and alley and which houses were alright to hide from people chasing after you and which ones were a danger due to the owners not liking people lurking on their property.

The only issue was avoiding the police officers and state troopers who patrolled the area. The duo would be sought after by Stanley and he had a lot of connections, both legal and illicit, to key officers and troopers to make his life into a living hell. Even with Rosalind's family helping him those police would ensure he paid the price and wasn't turned over to Valerie and John before Stanley had gotten to him. Getting caught by the troopers and officers was essentially a death sentence for him.

Rosalind and he got an Orange Line train heading towards Forest Hills, getting off at Ruggles then boarded a 22 bus to Franklin Park. The huge park had exactly what they needed: shelter and plenty of hiding spots while being close to very frequent T bus routes and food. It helped that the parts Ashley knew best were cloistered from view of most of the park with not even druggies and drunks visiting due to the danger of falling into a hidden hole or chased by an angry squirrel.

Ashley saw one of his favorite restaurants and bought some food for the two of them. Rosalind wanted to pay but it was Ashley's fault that they were there so he insisted on paying. She smiled at this, he was trying to be chivalrous but he didn't have to do that as he won her over already.

It was funny to her, they were having what amounted to their first date together, even if it was deadly serious. She kissed his cheek as they sat on a bench to eat, telling him affectionately "you are giving me what I always wanted, a memorable first date. I like you a lot, I think I love you. You are Mr. Right."

She kissed him full on the lips, giving him another shock but he kissed back. It was what he had envisioned his first kiss to be, even if it was technically his second with her. She, in turn, felt on top of the world. He was the nicest guy she ever met and this was all a big adventure that she needed to have.

After eating their meal and purchasing a couple of water bottles for later, the two walked over to the bear dens and other century old structures of the abandoned part of the park in Long Crouch Woods. The place was riddled with hiding places and overgrown with vines and tress but was worth the chance. It offered cool air while also having water available from one of the newer kiddie parks south and west of them.

The only people who ever visited the abandoned structures were locals and urban explorers. The cops tended to not bother as the drug dealers and drunks didn't want to encounter troopers who patrolled part of the park including the only access points to where they were staying. The others simply avoided it due to the amount of time it took to get back to their cruiser when they needed to respond elsewhere.

The two hunkered down once the light started to fade. The dens were intriguing but once the light started to fade it wasn't worth the chance of falling into some unseen hole to continue exploring them. Ashley and Rosalind talked for several hours before they fell asleep in one another's arms, smiling as they felt the warmth of their bodies.

Several hours later the two were awoken to the sounds of someone speaking nearby. Both of them knew the voices, it was Stanley and his friends. He had traced Ashley's cellphone through his "find my phone "app. The two got up and ran, rushing as fast as they could out of the pens towards the park exit.

Rosalind tripped over one of the pits, breaking her ankle and causing her to scream in pain. This alerted Stanley to where they were, causing Ashley to drag them along as fast as they could. Thankfully for them they weren't far from the Walnut Ave. exit but it was tough to rush with Rosalind being all but dead weight in his arms and Stanley finally seeing them out in the open, running at full speed for them.

Ashley's awareness of the neighborhood was now coming into play. He knew how to avoid Stanley and how to make it seem like he had gone down a side street but actually hid until they could double back towards a better street. They were a block ahead of Stanley, with Rosalind telling him fervently to leave her there so he could get free and find help.

He had no choice, he had to flee without her. She was left on the doorstep of one of the better houses while he rushed down a side street. He knew to get help fast, she needed to get to the hospital to treat her broken ankle even if it meant he was risking getting caught by the enraged and irrational Stanley.

He ran past a parked ambulance causing the medic in the driver's seat to do a double take at seeing him. Astrid Flynn thought she recognized Ashley and seeing Stanley and his goons mentioning that they had seen him go down the side street made her immediately call for police help. She hoped the police got there before Stanley got to Ashley and did as he threatened- shutting him up for good.

Finally realizing the seriousness of the situation, Astrid got her partner to get inside then drove past Ashley, grabbed him from behind and pulling him inside before he could say a word. She shushed him, telling him firmly "you two are in trouble but you did what you needed to do. Where's Rosalind?"

Ashley mumbled that she was hurt and he had to leave her so she wasn't hurt by Stanley. Astrid called in the call that they were responding to an injured person then drove to the house Rosalind was hiding at. Rosalind popped up to see what was going on as she saw the flashing red lights then heard Astrid calling her name from the ambulance, telling her to stay put and let them help her.

Rosalind called back, trying hard to mask her pain. She recognized the woman's voice as someone she had met before but didn't fully recognize her. Astrid and her colleague brought a stretcher over, helped her onto it, then had police meet them at the location for support.

Seconds later two cruisers arrived and were apprised of the situation. The tired and forlorn Ashley was asked about what was going on and with a verification of the arrest warrant for Stanley the officers decided to have Ashley help them apprehend Stanley and his goons. He just wanted his grandfather put away for good, the officers were more than willing to do so especially as Rosalind was "one of theirs."

Ashley quietly walked along Walnut Ave. back towards the park. Stanley drove by with his goons and stopped a block down the street. The officers who were placed nearby noticed this motion and got him ready for the attempted abduction, with more units in the area to help should things get ugly.

Stanley and three men walked around Ashley, cutting off his escape and preventing him from moving in either direction. Stanley moved forward, motioned for his goons to grab Ashley and drag him towards their car. As Ashley resisted Stanley took out a tire iron and swung at him. It missed as it was only intended as a warning shot, but it was all that was needed to have Stanley brought in for a more serious charge of assault in addition to attempted kidnapping and the other existing serious charges.

Stanley's goons fought against the officers prompting them to be pepper sprayed, this required a serious call for help in subduing them as the four were stronger than the six officers holding them down. One of the thugs managed to break loose and stab Ashley in the stomach causing him to double over in shock as blood pooled out.

Astrid and her partner were on him quickly and contained the blood but had to rush to the nearest hospital to take care of the wound, hoping that it wasn't too late. It was nastier than it appeared as it would require a lot of surgery to repair the damage while also leaving a scar. The thug had managed to slice his stomach in two, barely missing his intestines and liver but doing enough damage to require the surgeons to perform what amounted to a pseudo "gastric sleeve" surgery on him.

Rosalind stayed with him after she was treated for her broken ankle. Astrid reluctantly called Valerie and John then Alice and Shea. The four were off to the hospital as fast as possible, leaving the five kids in the care of Raul, Stephanie, Dan, and Melanie.

Ashley was out cold due to the extent of his injury while Rosalind was in pain but feeling horrible that she had let Ashley get hurt. Astrid tried to comfort her but it was not happening, she couldn't feel better until Ashley was awake.

Alice and Valerie had to calm her while Shea signed off on everything that Rosalind needed to have done to fix her ankle. Due to the break's location, she had to have surgery on her ankle to install screws. It was painful to see her laying in the bed but he steeled himself and ensured that she was given the best care, even if Astrid assured him she would.

Rosalind cried as her parents hugged her tight. She expected the worst but the two were more concerned with her health than punishing her. She did what she felt she had to do, she kept Ashley safe and prevented him from being harmed by Stanley. It was what set her apart from her past, she had done what neither her older sister nor her birth mother had ever done: be selfless.



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