Starting Anew Part 1


Amy Lee looked over her classroom with jealousy. She was considered by all of classmates to be as one person pointed out, “a bitch.” Her classmates shied away from her, giggling and pointing whenever she walked by. Amy was an outcast. She didn't want to be but she was the victim of her own creation., one that she created to keep her darkest secret safe from others.

Her mother had high hopes for Amy. She believed that she would grow up to be a famous model, actress, singer, and dancer with the right guidance. From an early age Amy was forced to take singing, dancing, and acting lessons, often multiple times in a week and one after another. She had little if any free time to herself and when not doing anything she was under constant vigil by her mother, making her practice and stretch.

Amy was constantly in beauty pageants, spending most of her weekends on the road in one pageant or another across the region. She won many of them, with much of the proceeds supposedly going towards her expenses. Little was actually put towards their intended purpose, that of college. She knew that just enough was put away so that it looked like she was making an effort to provide for her future but really little was. Whatever was left over was spent by her mother on keeping herself looking pretty while Amy received nothing for her troubles.

Amy got along well with the girls at the pageants and enjoyed talking with them and became friendly with several of them. They were like her in many ways but they were there by choice, Amy wasn't. She hated that her mother forced her to do whatever she wanted whenever she wanted and left her with nothing for troubles. She hated the pageants and tried hard to get out of them but her complaints never worked.

Her mother's obsession with beauty pageants and Amy's looks carried over to school. Her mother wouldn't accept that she wanted to befriend the girls in her class let alone people she felt were “below” her. Amy had to refuse invitations to hang out after school from girls who wanted to befriend her and had to refuse an invitation to go to the first dance of the year from several of the boys, including her secret crush Oscar Pierce. He asked another girl and was refused on the spot.

Eventually the girls stopped trying to get to know her. There was no point, Amy never reciprocated their offers of friendship. The kids interacted with her but slowly but surely one by one they just gave up trying to speak to her at all.

She became isolated and if not for the other two outcasts, Al Samuels and Stephanie Rodriguez, she would have nobody to talk to. Stephanie was the daughter of the principal of the other middle school while Al is considered to be a transsexual even if she never actually wanted be a girl. Both were nice girls and felt that there was something going on with Amy that people didn't know about and Amy wasn't willing to share and neither knew how to broach the subject.

Donald Lee, Amy's older brother, tried his hardest to keep Amy out of trouble but he could only do so much. In early April Amy had finally reached her breaking point and rather than go with her mother the next day to yet another hated beauty pageant she ran off, running away in the predawn hours to a place she knew to be empty for two months. She made sure to leave Donald a discrete note, telling him she would be alright and had saved up enough pocket money to buy a bus ticket and survive on her own.

Donald knew otherwise. She was going to wait until their parents had calmed down and run away completely. He knew that she had a hiding place but didn't tell her that he knew.

He decided to keep the secret to himself, but during school on Monday he was clearly not right. Ben Herman, his biology teacher and his girlfriend's father, confronted him about it. He was tight-lipped and wouldn't talk and despite his girlfriend Francesca trying to get it out of him he still remained silent.

That lunch period he broke the news to Francesca that they had to break up. He didn't offer any reason, only telling her that it was best that she find someone else and to quickly forget about him. The others in their small group were stunned into silence but Donald got up and walked away. Rebecca Lopez, the de-facto leader of their group of frehshmen, bluntly said “something is going on with him and he didn't break up with Francesca on his own accord. Someone is making him do it. Keep an eye on him, don't break off friendship until we know why he is doing this. And above all do not let on that you suspect something is wrong.”

Ben kept a close eye on Donald all week. By Wednesday Donald started to appear with bruises on his arms that he tried to hide and by Friday he had a broken arm that wasn't fully set. Ben couldn't hold off any longer and called in support, first to his friend Mark Sylvester then to the principal Jake Bollinger.

Jake was deeply concerned. Donald was normally quiet but this was different. Donald refused to talk about what happened or why. Mark sensed that he was hiding something big but couldn't get him to tell them anything either. Donald was forced to talk with the school's psychologist for an hour before being allowed to return to class, but was kept a close eye on throughout the day.

Over lunch Thomas Samuels, Al's older brother, mentioned that Al and Stephanie were upset over something in school. His friends' interests piqued as he told them about the girls thinking something happened to their friend. The others asked question after question getting concerned looks, something was going on and they didn't like it. Thomas admitted that they didn't say who it was but they were concerned about her.

Donald immediately excused himself which caught both Thomas and Reed Pena's interest. Reed texted his dad and asked him to check out Donald's family. They made the connection immediately, but wanted confirmation. Francesca uttered something that none of them noticed, she said “Amy's run away.”

After school Reed's father Willie gave Donald a ride home with Reed and his girlfriend Jessie Lawrence. They were met by Mark who knocked on the door and asked to speak with the family. Mr. and Mrs. Lee were outraged at the intrusion and refused to talk with Mark who kept insisting that they speak with him.

Donald slipped away in the confusion while Willie tried to calm the situation. Jessie and Reed though saw him and followed. Both watched from afar as he carried a bag filled with food taken from the kitchen to a house both knew well. They waited and watched as he left the food in the back by the upstairs door, slipping away without anyone inside noticing.

Reed texted his father and told him “ask about their daughter. Al said she is missing.” Jessie texted Al and Stephanie to tell them that they knew where their friend was and to not worry as she was going to get help.

Both walked back to the Lee home in time to listen to the Lees try to explain Donald's broken arm to Mark. Mr. Lee was adamant that he broke it roughhousing while Mrs. Lee claimed that he broke it falling down the stairs. Willie and Mark looked at one another and saw that they were the cause without saying it.

Mark asked about the bruises on Donald to which both claimed to know nothing about marks on his arms and legs. Mark looked to Willie with a nod, then told them “I never mentioned where they were, I only asked about them. But seeing as you just mentioned two places one of which we know about him having bruises and the other that we don't I am going to have to have to investigate this matter further.”

The Lees told them to leave but Willie grinned and freely told them “you guys must really have no clue about your son's friends. You know that our children are friends with him and that we asked to talk to you about him due to his change in behavior but you really don't know what our jobs are, do you?”

Willie showed his badge while Mark showed his Department of Children and Families identification. Both stated “we aren't going anywhere.” Mark added “but Donald is. He is hereby placed into protective custody until such time as our investigation into possible abuse by both of you is completed. Further he will be given a medical examination under the watch of a guardian.”

Mr. Lee tried to grab at Mark but was pulled to the ground by Reed as Willie told him “and now you are hereby placed under arrest for assault on a public official.” Mrs. Lee smacked Willie telling him “I'll have your badge! Do you have any idea who you are messing with?” Willie grinned and told her bluntly “someone who is hereby placed under arrest for assault on a police officer.”

Mark then told the duo “I don't know where your daughter is but I can guarantee that we will talk with her about your actions towards her. Her absence in school did not go unnoticed was was about to be reported to authorities and we know that your son is aware of where she is staying. Additional charges will be filed against you for neglect in additional to the abuse against your son.”

Willie called in for a cruiser, getting two to show up with a third patrolling close by in case it was needed. Officer Ian Bailey was the first to respond and seeing his chief with a red mark immediately took out his camera and told him to stand still while he documented it. Jessie added that she had the assaults on video to which she copied and then sent one to Willie on his phone to have it downloaded.

Ian looked over at Donald and gave a look of disgust towards the Lees. He wasn't too light with his handling of them but didn't cross the line into hurting them or doing something that would harm his career. Inside the cruiser he informed Mr. Lee “out of all of the people you could have pissed off, Chief Pena is the last one to do so to. Enjoy your stay at Nashua Street Jail, I am sure they are going to enjoy having both of you as guests until Monday.”

Mark called his office and notified them about the investigation into the Lees. He then asked for the list of people who could host two children. The list was short and unfortunately none were able to host right away.

Jessie saw the look in Mark's eyes and called her mother for help. Gabby Lawrence had never considered being a foster mother before but Mark was desperate to keep Donald away from the group homes especially given his broken arm. Gabby looked over at her daughter Courtney who was listening closely and giving her a pleading look, she asked her mom through tears “you know how to deal with boys and we have the room.” Gabby reluctantly agreed, telling them she would get their rooms ready.

Jessie asked about his sister getting a soft “she's asleep. She won't come out until well past nightfall and the people downstairs are asleep.” Mark asked where she was staying getting a quick “above grandma and grandpa” from Reed.”

Donald looked at both of them in shock. Reed told him “we followed you.” Mark called Victoria and Jorge Castillo and told them what was going on and why. He also told them “I'm calling in Al to help. She and Stephanie should be able to get her to go with us.”

Al's father Richard answered for her. Mark explained the situation and after waiting for him to stop talking told Mark warmly “oh thank goodness. She will go and I'll go with you to the hospital for the examinations. I don't trust them to give them after what happened to Al. They'd give her a quick onceover and ignore a serious problem right in front of their faces.”

20 minutes later the two groups merged as Victoria unlocked the door while Al went in alone. After 15 tense minutes Al came out with a visibly crying Amy, telling her father and Mark “what the hell did they do to her? She's skin and bones under her jacket! Geeze she was always skinny but this is ridiculous!”

Amy didn't say anything, she was frightened of what was going to happen to her. Mark asked the others to give her some privacy while telling Al to stay put. Mark led the girls inside and sat them down on a couch, letting Al hold Amy's hand to comfort her.

Mark asked softly “did you run away Saturday morning?” Amy nodded, saying “Friday night after mom an dad went to bed.” Mark turned to Al who whispered “he won't let anything happen to you, you can tell him everything.”

Amy shed another tear, telling him “I couldn't take it anymore. Mom kept telling me that I had to win the next pageant or she was cutting off my allowance. She told me she was taking me to easier pickings up in Maine and Vermont, she didn't care that it took hours to get there or how early I had to wake up so long as I won.”

Mark asked about her slim body. Amy softly mumbled “she said I was getting fat. She put me on a restricted diet and told me not to eat anything in school. She said it was fine because she talked with my doctor. I know she didn't do that but she said I was getting too fat for my own good and I had to do what she said or she'd make me.”

Mark asked about why she chose this building. She sighed and admitted “I'd walk past here coming to and from school and never saw anyone come in or out. I climbed the back stairs and went in through the window and unlocked the door then relocked it so nobody would notice it was open.”

Al asked her to tell him more. Mark gave her an odd look but Amy continued “I left after the first night but kept having to duck away when cruisers drove by. I didn't want to get stopped so I went back. I found a blanket and pillows on the floor near the heater in the living room. The next night I tried to get away I came back and there was some food one the floor.”

Al smirked as she told Mark “they knew all along. They didn't say anything.” Mark nodded and told Amy warmly “Jorge and Victoria had to have heard you, any footsteps up the back stairs are heard. They must have seen you asleep and waited for you to leave before leaving you those things. You may be skinny and light but you were heard.”

Mark finally sighed and informed her “due to your parents' actions towards Willie and myself they will be held in jail until Monday. I am starting an immediate investigation into them and until such time as I am satisfied that you are both safe I am not allowing either of you to return to their care.”

Amy started to cry but Al added “you are going home with Jessie. Her mom is going to take care of you. She is smart and knows how to handle boys and girls, you will like it there.”

Mark led them out and drove the duo to the hospital after dropping off Al. Jessie went home with Willie and Reed to ensure that they had a room each before heading back to the Lee home to get clothing for both. Willie phoned ahead and had help waiting as Jake stood outside with Willie's wife Kennedy holding several bags and boxes, ready to get everything they would need for at least three weeks.

Kennedy felt terrible over the entire situation. She hated families who would put their own kids at risk for no reason except their own vanity. Jake felt disgusted with himself that he and Ben hadn't stepped in sooner. Both were told that the kids were now safe and their parents locked up which was more important than feeling self pity over the situation.

Kennedy looked over Amy's things and immediately saw that the poor girl was not happy in any of the pictures plastered across the living room. In her room it was even worse, she didn't have much of anything personal on the walls and the trinkets scattered throughout the room were haphazardly placed as if to appease someone rather than placement with care.

There was no TV, no radio, and nothing that could be viewed as entertainment. She found Amy's schoolbooks and looking inside she got a picture of a girl who had little passion and gave the least amount of effort. She took clear notes but her writing assignments were barely passing with notes of consistent “you can do better” scattered throughout.

Her diary was found hidden under her mattress and in it she is clearly depressed to the point that Kennedy was honestly scared for her. Kennedy texted Mark to inform him that she needed counseling for depression ASAP if Gabby didn't notice her improving over the weekend. Mark sent back an acknowledgment saying he'd talk it over with her lawyer in the morning.

Kennedy left with multiple bags of clothes and underwear. She was shocked to not find any sort of bras especially for a 12 year old girl, but realized it must have been due to being malnourished. This was another thing to add to the list of issues against the parents, the poor girl was being kept from becoming a young woman by her mistreatment.

Kennedy peeked into what was clearly Donald's room and found Jake trying hard not to punch a wall. He showed a journal that Donald kept and in it Donald had chronicled the months of harassment and attempts to break up Donald and Francesca. Kennedy had to console him, it was the first time that he had directly experienced such abuse against a student of his and it was worse as he was close to one of their own. Even when Reed was found abandoned over a year before he hadn't had this kind of reaction.

Willie was shown the diary and Journal and agreed that they should be held onto by Mark. The two grabbed last minute items inside the house then locked up, with Willie handing the keys over to Mark when he met him at the hospital. As he left Willie boldly told Mark “the way Jake was acting if those two get away with what they did to their children we might be looking at a double homicide. He is beyond pissed and I honestly can't blame him.” Mark nodded his head in agreement, silently agreeing with Willie about wanting to kill them himself if they got off.

As Willie, Jake, and Kennedy were getting their clothes and personal items Mark and Richard were with Donald and Amy at the hospital. Richard gave the lowdown to the resident on duty and got the utmost care for the two kids. Mark ensured that everything was documented as well as ensured that Richard received copies for safekeeping.

Amy was examined by the resident with a female nurse standing by observing as required by policy. He saw that she was both malnourished and underweight by at least 20 pounds. He saw that she had breasts developing but the fat deposits weren't what the amount that they should be, almost as it they weren't there at all.

Amy was a tall girl with a lankly build like her brother. Even though her mother and father were skinny she was still underweight for someone her age, height, and build. There was no excuse for her being so gaunt, the only reason for her being that way was lack of food which her family could easily afford and her brother clearly had been receiving a proper amount of.

He checked out her feet and from the look of them he grew angered as she had clearly been overworking to the point of her toes and metatarsals showing signs of stress fractures that had improperly healed. He ordered X-rays of both feet and asked the nurse to immediately show him the results.

The initial examination over the doctor asked about her period which got a tear and terse “I had one once, mom said I had to lose weight to make sure I didn't have another one. She was pissed that I had one so young, dad said I was getting too old too fast and she had to do something about it.” The doctor sighed and told her “they don't deserve to call themselves parents, that's something to celebrate not get angry about.”

The doctor had to steel himself then told her “my daughter competed against you once in a pageant so I know you dance, that's why I checked out your feet. It's remarkable that you have lived with the pain in your feet for so long. I believe that you may have grown accustomed to the pain but it's not right. I am ordering X-rays so we can have proof that you were denied proper medical care and they ignored injuries that could potentially disable you.”

He paused then continued “developing breasts and having had your first monthly it's clear that you are in the throes of puberty and it is being hampered by your parents' actions. You are well behind where you should be, in fact I dare say that their starving of you was almost at the point of becoming dangerous. If this had gone for much longer you may have been made infertile or even suffered serious medical problems if not outright died from their actions.”

The doctor sighed and told her warmly “I am going to tell Dr. Samuels to prescribe a special diet to get you up to proper weight. You are precluded from physical education for at least a month. You are also prevented from taking any of the dance classes that your mother had you taking until your feet heal completely and even then you are limited to one, maybe two classes per week at the most.”

Amy grinned at him, happy to finally be done with dancing for a while. She enjoyed it but it was just too much pressure on her by her mother and she always hurt after classes. She left with the nurse heading off to the X-ray room and returned within minutes. He was right and there were some cracks that needed to heal but thankfully no breaks.

The doctor informed Richard who received a nod from Mark. Mark then added “we are hitting pay dirt this evening. We have confirmation that she is both neglectful and abusive in her care.”

Donald was then examined and it took the doctor all of 10 minutes to inform Mark “he needs an x-ray and even without seeing the break I can tell that he needs immediate surgery, the break is clear and unfortunately is complete. Whomever fixed his arm did it poorly, he should be in a cast not just a sling. He is just like his sister, he has a high pain tolerance but eventually this break was going to cause him serious blood and muscle problems.”

Mark asked about the bruises. The doctor grinned and proudly stated “the bruises are consistent with physical abuse, the person who did it had a firm grip and big hands. The ones on his legs are consistent with being dragged, I believe the person who did it is the same person. I would hazard a guess but it had to have been his father, his mother's hands simply aren't big enough to cause those size bruises.”

Mark looked at the pictures of the bruises and agreed. Mark made notes of everything then copied everything he had to a secure server before printing off two copies of the report. Mark followed through and made a call to Ricardo Ramirez and asked that he take on Donald as his client.

Once Ricardo agreed Mark then called Valerie Finn and asked her to be Amy's lawyer as Ricardo was too close to Amy due to Stephanie being his niece. Valerie knew this was coming and agreed, but added that her parents would be better fits due to her relationship to him. A quick call to Joseph Johnson got them rolling as Joseph planned to investigate fully Amy's circumstances but Valerie having only an indirect relationship was still Donald's lawyer despite knowing him through Francesca. Mark grinned, the Lees were now toast in his eyes.

Mark was handed the paperwork for the surgery but delayed it to wait for Gabby Lawrence to arrive. When she came in she was with both of her daughters, both of whom demanded an update. Mark handed Gabby the paperwork to sign giving her temporary custody of Donald and Amy then had her sign the hospital's paperwork to allow Donald to undergo surgery. She did so quickly as both girls gasped in shock.

Donald was wheeled up to an operating room while Gabby waited in a family room for him to come out. She sent Jessie and Courtney home with Amy, informing both of them to ensure that she ate and drank what Richard told her to eat and drink. Both complied with Amy silently following them out with Mark in close proximity.

At their home the girls helped get Amy situated in her new room. Al came over to check in on her and was quickly embraced, with Amy thanking her profusely as she cried into Al's shoulder. Al hugged her back, telling her “we kids need to stick together.”

Courtney left to pick up food leaving Jessie in charge. Jake stopped by to do his own checkup dragging his son Will with him. Amy didn't know how to react, until Jessie told her “don't worry about him, he's housebroken. I'd say we get him fixed but Claire wouldn't allow that.”

Amy started giggling as Will gave her a glare, adding “you know you love me. Who else would you get to do all of your dirtywork? Michael is too smart and you only ever make out with Reed.”

Al groaned and told her “ignore my cousin, we think he was dropped on his head when he was a baby.” Amy quietly asked “what do you mean your cousin? Are you related to him?” Al nodded, teling her “he is mom's nephew, his mom is my mom's sister. His dad is Courtney and Jessie's uncle. We are both related to him but not directly related to each other.”

Al led her to her room and sat her down on the bed. She closed the door and told her “Stephanie is worried about you as well. Her mom was going to call Uncle Mark to check on you but Donald canceled all of that. Despite what you might think we like you, you never made fun of us and you were a good partner in school. Your foster mother is going to ensure you are alright and won't let you slack off in school.”

Amy was nearly in tears but Al added “Principal Vega knows what happened to you already. If you aren't up to going to school on Monday she won't hold it against you.” Amy asked how she knew, Al smirked and blurted out “your lawyer told her. Aunt Valerie lives directly behind her. Plus her nephew is married to Principal Vega's daughter so things get around to her one way or another..”

Courtney knocked on the door and announced it was dinnertime. Amy was told to sit and eat everything as well as drink her milkshake. Amy looked over the cheeseburgers and french fries and couldn't believe she was supposed to eat them.

Courtney shook her head and informed her “Uncle Richard told us to get you that. It's supposed to help you gain weight. I know your mom wouldn't let you touch this food but it is important that you eat what you are told to eat so you can get some weight on you.”

Amy reluctantly dug into the food. Almost as soon as the cheeseburger hit her mouth she was devouring it. She was told to slow down several times but eventually she ate everything and was full. Will tried to crack a joke but Al told him if he said one word she'd shove the shake cup down his throat and ensure he ate through a straw for a year. He immediately told her “remind me never to piss you off.” Amy looked up in shock but Al just grinned as Will backed away from them.

Looking at the time Al called her mom to pick her up. Olivia Samuels came inside and taking one look at Amy asked Courtney to make sure she ate everything for breakfast. She then sat Amy down and told her authoritatively “these girls are going to ensure that you eat everything. Don't fight them on this, and don't think you have to do it because they force you to. They are following my husband's orders and would be in serious trouble with their mother if they didn't make you do what he ordered.”

Amy solemnly told her she'd do as she was asked. Al hugged her goodbye, telling her “we will be over tomorrow, we have work to do for school and you know how Ms. Shriner is.” Amy smiled as she left, Olivia silently mouthing “keep an eye on her” to Jessie and Courtney.

Over at the hospital, Donald's x-ray results showed that the break required a plate and several screws to be inserted. The surgery took two hours but thankfully for Donald he would be alright in six to eight weeks and would have full mobility in about two weeks. Gabby spent the night with him as he recovered, informing Jake who opted to stay at her house to keep an eye on the girls.

In the morning Donald wasn't too happy to be wearing a cast and even less happy to know that he would have a scar on his arm. Luckily for him they were able to hide the scar on the underside of his arm so it wasn't readily visible. The nurses kept a close eye on him and ensured that he ate his breakfast while Gabby finished signing his discharge papers, with the nurses assuring him that he was going to be alright after the traumatic afternoon and evening.

Gabby finally showed herself to Donald. He knew her from his double dates with Jessie and Reed but never had the chance to talk to her. She sat down beside him and told him warmly“I'm your new foster mother. Yes Francesca and the others know about what happened and no they will not do anything about it. There are too many of us who have lived through this before, like Reed. They are the best people to help you through this and won't let you go through this alone.”

Donald solemnly asked “what will happen to us?” Gabby smiled and proudly told him “you are going to live with Courtney, Jessie, and myself. I can't guarantee that it will feel like home for you but we will try to make the both of you comfortable. Most of your clothes and personal items are already waiting for you as is your sister. She spent last night with the girls and my brother Jake. Later today you will meet your lawyer, don't worry about what he is charging as this is a special case to him. He is vicious when it comes to abuse especially against children.”

Gabby silently waited with Donald for the doctor to check him over and give his all clear. The nurse told him about proper care for his cast as well as showed him how to put on the plastic sleeve so he could wash himself. Donald felt embarrassed to have to talk about that in front of Gabby but she showed not emotion, instead watching closely and ensuring that he understood what to do. She softly told him that she would help him, getting a deep blush from him but understanding that she meant well.

After finally getting the discharge papers and the onceover from the doctor the two went to Ricardo's apartment where Ricardo introduced himself to Donald and started to ask about Donald's parents and what they did to him. Gabby encouraged him to tell him everything he could, the boy saw that she was concerned about him so he complied.

Donald explained “ever since Francesca agreed to go out with me dad has been trying to split us up. He keeps saying that I am not good enough for her and that she needs a real man. He keeps trying to ruin my homework to get my grades lowered or get me to react so that I'd get punished and have to cancel the dates. Mr. Finn, Mr. Beretta, and Mr. Herman told him to stop trying to ruin my homework but he ignored them so they let me email it to them instead of writing it out.”

Ricardo looked over towards Gabby who nodded, adding “Jake has told them that if they continued to try to interfere with his work that he would take action against them.” Donald nodded, adding “dad said he would make sure that someone showed me just how much of a man I wasn't. The guy who tried to do that ended up with a broke arm from Eric Vincent flipping him onto his side when he was punching me.”

Ricardo smirked, telling him “Eric is my fiance's son and I remember that incident well. He was twice your size and he started saying that your father was behind the incident as soon as it was clear that Eric was going to protect you. Your father threatened to sue his family for slander but they showed that your dad had actually given money to your assailant to assault you, he barely got away from prosecution for criminal conspiracy as the boy's family recanted. We suspect they were paid off by your dad.”

Donald sighed and started to confess “dad has been disappointed in me for years. We moved away from my old home because I was getting hurt every day because the other boys said I was gay or a girl because I was so slim and weak. Dad tried to toughen me up but I could never put on weight nor gain any muscle mass. He finally stopped when the doctors started to look into why my arms and legs had marks from where the weight sets fell on me from his forced weightlifting.”

Ricardo seized on this and asked for the name of the doctor and where he was located. He grinned and proudly told him “your dad made a mistake, rushing you away like that won't make the concerns go away especially as it was documented that you had those injuries. I'll call him and ask for copies of your medical records and get a statement regarding his concerns, it is starting to appear that a pattern of abuse developed and until yesterday it went unstopped.”

Ricardo then asked about the current injuries, that of the bruises and broken arm. Donald sighed and told him “when Amy ran off mom and dad blamed me for not stopping her. Dad dragged me out of bed by my legs then grabbed my arms flinging me around. He did it all week until Thursday night when my arm snapped. Dad blamed me for it and told me that if I told anyone what happened he would beam me until I couldn't speak again.”

Gabby's anger was steadily rising but she kept her cool. Ricardo asked him sharply “why did you keep your sister's secret?” Donald looked him in the eyes and told him “she is being hurt much worse than I am, she is starving and they won't stop thinking that they know what they are doing. We were taught in school about undernourishment and she is like the kids in the books and websites. Mom thought she was getting fat but it was bloating that we saw online of kids starving. She needed to get away, even if it meant going to another city. I had to protect her from them until I knew she was safe.”

Gabby looked at Ricardo who indicated he was done. Ricardo sighed and told the two “they are getting nailed for their crimes and I am going to ensure that Donald never has to see them again. You know why I can't represent Amy but she is in better hands than if I represented her. Valerie and her parents won't rest until your parents are in prison and even then they will ensure that they have nothing left to their name.”

Gabby thanked him for his time and led Donald away. Donald asked “I thought Eric only had a dad?” Gabby stopped him and told him warmly “he does, he and Ricardo are gay and they are getting married this summer once the family comes back from England. Is that going to be a problem for you?” Donald had a big smile as he announced “dad is a big homophobe. Ricardo is the perfect person to take him down. I just hope that he can handle the homophobes that they will hire to represent them in court.”

Gabby grinned and assured him “Ricardo has dealt with worse. He won't be alone either, your sister's lawyer is tough as nails and will not let anyone bully Ricardo and if they try to make an issue of his being gay they will find themselves before the state bar association on ethics charges not to mention a civil suit.”

Donald looked down and asked “why isn't Ricardo representing Amy?” Gabby was honest in admitting “he is Stephanie Rodriguez's uncle. We felt that it might be a better idea to have Valerie Finn and her parents represent her instead just in case an issue was made over Stephanie being related to him.”

Donald mumbled softly “she isn't friends with anyone named Stephanie.” Gabby shook her head and proclaimed “she may think that's true but it isn't. She is friendly with them and Stephanie won't let her ignore her nor Al Samuels anymore. They care about her even if she didn't see it. And before you say otherwise that came directly from the girls themselves.”

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