The Gifted Realm: Academy - Volume 1

Chapter 73 - The Impression of a Shield

A deep yawn contorted Dan’s face. He eased out from under Fionna. He hadn’t been sleeping all that well with his wife in a hospital bed anyway. Halia was making quiet grunts from her bassinet. 

“Shh, baby girl.” Dan lifted her into his arms. She was soaking wet. “Okay, let me change you and then I’ll feed you, but let’s let mommy sleep,” he coaxed. Before Dan could clean her up and dry her off, she was sobbing loudly. 

Fionna eased from the bed and carefully padded towards them. “I’ll feed her.” She heated a bottle in her hands. 

“You go back to sleep. I’ve got this figured out now.” 

“Are you sure?” 

Dan knew she was exhausted. Her body had not only given birth but had lost a tremendous amount of blood and had been pushed through a series of intensive casts. 

“I’m sure.”

She brushed a sweet kiss on Halia’s head and then one on Dan’s jaw line as he seated himself back in the rocker. She was asleep again a moment later. 

Dan glanced at his watch as he gently rocked his little girl. Her soft suckles on the bottle were the only sounds in the darkened room. It was just after three. He let the past twenty-four-hours reel through his mind. Suddenly, a little hand latched onto his. Bracing the bottle with his chin, he placed his index finger in her grasp, soothing her. 

“I’m right here, baby girl. Daddy’s right here.”

When she’d finished, he patted her back. She was asleep long before she’d burped. Hoping that was all right, he eased her back into the cradle and rejoined Fionna in the bed. She sought him immediately curling up on his chest. She was moving with more ease, which gave him a great deal of solace. 

The next time he awoke, he rubbed his eyes and sat up in the bed shocked that he’d slept for a few hours. This time Fionna was seated in the rocking chair with Halia. She was singing a Hawaiian lullaby, and her soft illuminating cast was covering their precious little girl. The image touched the deepest wells of Dan’s soul. When tears began to leak down Fionna’s cheeks, he moved to them softly. 

“I just wish she could meet her,” came out in a sobbed plea. 

“I know, baby.” Dan knelt down before them and rubbed Halia’s head.

“She’s a Scholera predilect, just like my mom.”

 Smiling up at her, Dan brushed her hair away from her face not certain what to say or what Halia’s predilect would mean for her life. 

“I need her. I don’t know how to do this,” Fionna pled suddenly. 

“That isn’t true,” Dan vowed. “And you know what,” he reached his hand up to caress Fionna’s beautiful face, “Every time you hold her and rock her. When you sing to her the same lullabies your mom sang to you. When she feels how much you love her, baby, she is meeting your mom. Because I know that so much of what makes you the incredible woman that you are came from her.” 

That brought on sobs that awoke Halia. Dan tried to comfort his wife and his baby girl at the same time. 

Adeline chuckled as she whisked into the room after a slight knock. “You have no idea how many times I’ve walked in on this same scenario.” 

Dan kept Halia with him as he handed Fionna tissues and kissed the top of her head. She was no longer attached to her mother’s energy though. He recalled how she would kick her disapproval whenever Fionna was upset when she was pregnant. But Halia was not a Receiver, and she couldn’t pick up on the emotions of Fionna’s energy the way Aida was able to. 

“We okay?” Adeline directed Fionna back to the bed.

“I’m okay. Just missing my mom.” 

Adeline gave her a sorrowful look. “Totally understandable. Having a baby makes emotions run a little higher than normal anyway. Why don’t you lie down, and we’ll see Dan’s work.” She tried teasing Fionna and did elicit a quick giggle from her.

Dan had kept his cooled hand over Fionna’s mound and lower lips for nearly an hour the night before. He’d worked her body through the tender swelling. When she was able to move her legs and abdomen without pain, he’d brought it back to the correct temperature and then soothed her to sleep. 

“He’s always done amazing things with my va-jay-jay,” Fionna informed Adeline, making both of them giggle. Dan shook his head at his wife and wondered when the roller coaster ride of her emotions might come to an end. 

“Well, from a medical perspective, you did do a very good job. Everything looks much better,” Adeline informed him. 

“Naturally,” Dan scoffed just to hear Fionna’s laughter again. 

“We’ll be casting you a few additional times today, and remember that feeling some erratic emotional highs and lows is completely normal. We need to keep Miss Halia gaining weight, which she is doing nicely. Maybe by tomorrow evening, we can send you home. But if I’m going to let you go home, you must promise me a few things,” Adeline gave them a wry grin. 

“Okay?” Dan took the bait. 

“You must promise me that you will not engage in intercourse for at least two weeks, and that when you do decide to initiate that portion of your relationship again that you will work slowly and take it easy for the first few times. The way that I’m able to heal you tightens everything back up, so lots of foreplay and lubricants are good. It might be a little painful the first time, similar to your first sexual encounter,” she explained but moved on not awaiting a reply. “You must also swear that you will use the cast for at least a year, so we can make certain that your uterus has completely healed this time before we put it to task yet again.”

         “We promise,” Fionna agreed. 

“I solemnly swear,” Dan agreed bouncing Halia who’d worked her left hand to Dan’s mouth and had taken hold of his bottom lip.

         By the next evening, Fionna had been casted repeatedly until her body had dispensed with the excess blood and birthing fluids. She was elated to switch from what she’d referred to as her own diapers to the pads Kara provided her. 

Dan balanced their bags along with the Hawaiian floral bouquet, sent to Fionna from Tutu and Papa. There was a box of preemie diapers, the hospital had provided them, along with a box of enhanced formula in one arm. He was bombarded as soon as he made his appearance. 

         “Chief Vindico, will your wife and little girl be headed home today? Can you confirm that the baby is in fact yours?” 

Dan rolled his eyes and elbowed through the throngs of press. He wasn’t the chief anymore. Didn’t these people ever watch their own news shows?

“What’s her name, Dan? Are you getting ready to take her home? Has the Crown Governor seen her? Is he demanding an energy scan?” called another reporter. 

As Dan had been asked about Halia’s paternity each time he’d left the hospital in the last forty eight hours, most of the time to acquire Fionna non-hospital grade food and coffee, he wasn’t surprised. He was sick to death of the questions, but knew better than saying anything at all. After loading up the Mercedes, he wondered how badly they were going to be swarmed when Fionna made her exit. 

He backed out quickly, making reporters and cameramen leap out of his way as he drove to the hospital exit. Racing back inside, he smiled as Fionna was fitting blankets around Halia inside of her car seat. “I don’t want her to get cold,” she fussed. 

“The wind’s picked up we need to get her home.”

Adeline appeared with a wheelchair for Fionna. Dan draped an additional blanket over the carseat, blocking Halia from the chilling November winds and reporters. As soon as Fionna was seated, they were rolling. 

He swore the press had increased in number by at least a dozen in the five minutes it had taken him to get his girl. He ordered them away as he helped Fionna up into the car and then locked Halia’s carseat into the base before sprinting to the driver’s seat.

He drove with a great deal of care, studying the clouds and wondering if they were going to get an early snow storm. “I’m gonna get you inside, and then pick up a few more boxes of diapers and some more formula. I don’t like the look of those storm clouds.” 

“Oh,” Fionna nodded, “okay.” Panic tensed in her rhythms.

“What’s wrong?” 

“What if I do something wrong while you’re not there? She’s so tiny and helpless, and there were lots of people to tell me how to do everything at the hospital and now....” 

“Fi, baby, you’re going to be great. We’ll figure everything out. And if we can’t figure something out, there are a bunch of people that will gladly help us,” he assured her again. 

The Stylers were at the house, which smelled heavenly. Mr. Styler had been baking most of the day, and Dan was so tired of eating fast food his mouth watered as he took in the dinner spread on their kitchen table. 

“Thank you.” Fionna hugged her parents tightly.

“I will bring you a plate, Maylea. You rest,” her father commanded. 

She grabbed Aida’s hand and pulled her onto the couch beside her. Aida was delighted to have her mother’s undivided attention for a little while. 

Dan handed Halia off to the Stylers to make his quick run to the store to pick up anything they might need should they be snowed in for any length of time. 

When he returned, Fionna was sipping the tea Tutu prescribed to ward off depression and to rebalance hormones. It seemed Gretta had insisted she drink, per Tutu’s orders. 

Dan quickly built a fire and watched Fionna help Aida give Halia her bottle. They laid Halia in the wicker bassinet that they’d placed in the living room. He was overcome with the peace and serenity that welled inside of him. He had everything he would ever need. Fionna was right beside him. Aida was laying in his lap watching TV and telling them all about her days while they were away. Halia slept soundly in her bassinet as lightly falling snow began to etch the window panes outside. 

“Look, Aida,” Fionna whispered as she pointed out the windows. “Have you ever seen snow before?” 

Aida shook her head and crawled up on her knees into a chair near the window. 

“What is it?” She gasped her expression a mix of wonder and fear. Dan and Fionna moved to her. 

“It’s like rain baby, only it’s so cold outside the water droplets are frozen. When they fall and then they stick to the frozen ground.” Dan tried to explain.

“I didn’t know what it was either until I moved here.” Fionna explained as she wrapped her arms around Aida. “It doesn’t snow in Hawaii except on the very, very highest volcanos, and we don’t go up there. If it keeps snowing and it sticks, then tomorrow maybe daddy can take you out to play in it.”

“Of course,” Dan vowed. “But it’s really cold so you have to bundle up.”

 She would be the only kid on the block that had Iodex grade heat syncs powered by the temporal energies of the earth in her winter coat and mittens, but Dan had no issue with that. 

“I will.” She stared out into the darkened night, watching the swirling snowflakes perform their rhythmic dance to the ground. 

Halia began grunting in her bassinet that Dan had moved away from the window worried that she might be cold. 

“Why don’t you and I go get your bath and put your warmest jammies on and then we can read mommy’s books that Pops brought for you? Daddy can give Halia her bottle and put on her jammies,” Fionna explained. She’d sensed Aida’s desperation for a little time with her. Aida loved her grandparents and certainly she loved Dan, but she wanted Fionna all to herself for just a little while. Fionna’s father had discovered several Hawaiian children’s story books in a box he’d been unpacking. He’d brought them over for Aida to read. 

“Okay!” Aida seemed thrilled with the idea. “Come on, Mommy,” she grasped Fionna’s hand and yanked her towards the steps. 

“Whoa,” Dan scrubbed Aida’s hair with his hand. “Be careful with Mommy, okay? 

“I’m sorry.” Aida’s face fell. 

“I’m okay. Just give me a few days to get back to normal. She cupped her hand under Aida’s chin and leaned down to give her an Eskimo kiss. 

Dan chuckled as he scooped Halia up out of her bassinet. She was working her way into quite a temper. 

“She’s hungry,” Fionna kissed Halia’s cheek on her way up the stairs. 

Dan wasn’t certain how other people dealt with newborns, but he knew being married to a powerful Receiver was extremely helpful. According to his phenomenal wife, babies spoke in emotions. Since that was Fionna’s strength, there was very little guessing as to what Halia might need at any given moment. 

Dan wrapped a blanket around her and carried her to the kitchen. She was sobbing and curling herself up into a tiny ball as he quickly heated her bottle. 

“I’m hurrying. I promise,” Dan tried to soothe her. A moment later he reclined her in his arm and placed the bottle to her tiny rosebud lips. 

Fionna swore to him in the hospital that Halia was happiest in his arms. The thought delighted Dan, but he’d pointed out that she adored her mother as well. 

When she returned downstairs yawning and hunched forward slightly, Dan summoned from his waining energy. “I think I better put all of my baby girls to bed.” 

“I’m just still so tired. I want to have energy. I want to bond with my little girls, and spend time with you, and do stuff,” she fussed. 

“How old is Halia?” he asked incredulously. 

“Three days.” She knew perfectly well where this was headed. 

“Actually she’s not even quite that yet. And that means that you need to take it easy and rest. You’ll be back to normal, but it’s going to take a few weeks.” 

“I know, but you don’t understand. I haven’t really felt like myself in months. And now I can see my feet and my stomach doesn’t arrive in rooms five minutes before the rest of me. It seems like getting back to normal is just out of reach, and I want to be just me again. I really, really want that.”

“I know you do.” 

“You do not know,” she huffed.

“Okay, I don’t know, but I can imagine,” he tried again. “Why don’t we put our tiniest baby girl in her crib, as I have successfully fed and burped her and been spit up upon which I have decided is a way that she professes love, and that generally means that she will probably sleep for a couple of hours at least. Then we could take a bath, and I will put you to bed just before miss Halia decides that she would like another bottle.” 

“You’re the best husband ever.” She kissed his cheek. “But my boobs still feel like flaming bowling balls.” 

“Well,” Dan tried not to laugh, “I will selflessly volunteer to cool them with my hands just like I did last night while the rest of you relaxes in the bath water.” 

“So far, me birthing our child has gotten your hands on several of your favorite things.” 

Dan waggled his eyebrows. “It’s my job to soothe any pain you may have, sweetheart, and then when you’re feeling all better I’ll see if I can soothe anything else that you might like.”

Fionna shuddered. “That makes my brain happy but my va-jay-jay terrified.”

“Not for a while, baby. Let’s go take a bath. You’re supposed to use those oils Tutu sent. You know that will help.” 

“As if she doesn’t remind me enough that she’s always right, now, she has you doing it, too.”

They carried Halia up to her nursery. Fionna removed the decorative pillows that had been placed in the ornate crib before Halia’s birth. She summoned a heat cast and ran her hand over the mattress. Dan laid Halia tenderly in the crib, but as Fionna covered her waist and legs with a blanket, they both stared at her uncomfortably.

She was so tiny, and the crib suddenly looked gargantuan. 

Fionna shook her head and reached for Halia. “She’s scared. We can’t just leave her in here all alone. She needs us.” Halia was beginning to stir. Her face contorted towards a terrified peal. Lifting their little girl out of her bed and cradling her, Fionna’s cast soothed Halia back to sleep.

“Okay, hang on,” Dan rushed from the room.

He grabbed the bassinet that had been in their living room. Halia would be bigger by the time he returned to work for the two weeks before he would be off for Christmas vacation. Perhaps by then, she could sleep in her crib he hoped. 

Forgoing the nursery all together, Dan set the bassinet up in the corner of their bedroom. He heat casted the mattress and the basket itself. 

Relief eased Fionna’s entire body as she tenderly laid Halia back in her bassinet and covered her. She kept her soothing cast pulsing from her hands as their little girl settled into the tiny bed and entered a restful sleep. 

After Halia was settled, he moved on to his wife. Guiding her into their bathroom, he turned on the bath water, extracted a wooden crate from the closet containing the essential oils, rubs, and other things Tutu had prescribed for Maylea after giving birth, and handed them over.

Fionna took over. She pulled out something that looked a little like the large bed pads she’d sat on in the hospital. “Tutu fills these full of oatmeal, and salts, and yarrow, and shea butter, and stuff. Then you sit on them in the bath, and it makes everything feel better.” 

“You still hurting that bad, baby?” 

“I’m better but yeah, I’m still uncomfortable.”

After adding olive oil and witch hazel and two other oils Fionna said would tighten her skin back up, Dan guided her into the tub as she seated herself on the bath pad. 

“You sure you want me in there? Why don’t you just relax?” 

“No, I want to sit with you. It’s important. I don’t want to get all caught up in the girls and forget about us.” She sounded like that fear had been bothering her for a while. 

“Fi.” Dan climbed in the tub behind her and settled her back against him. “We will not let that happen. I’ll be home for the next four weeks. Then I’ll go back just long enough to get the kids ready for their exams, and then I’ll be home for another four weeks. All in all, I’d say our little girl has impeccable timing in terms of getting me out of work. We’re going to figure this all out.”

Fionna sighed contentedly. Her rhythms eased and she melted back against him. “I never thought I’d hear you so excited about missing work.”

“If that’s not a sign that I’m not meant to be at Venton, then nothing is,” he lamented. He wanted to do a good job. He’d made a commitment. He couldn’t let his desire to be on a farm in Kauai with his girls override his promises to the students that needed him. 

As it turned out their bath was cut short in light of Halia’s fussing. “You stay and soak. I’ll get her,” Dan commanded. 

“She’s not hungry, just lonely. Just pat her.”

Light was pouring in the bedroom windows when Dan awoke. He’d gotten up to feed Halia at eleven thirty and then again at three. Fi had gotten up with her at one and then just before six. She’d taken her downstairs to let Dan sleep. As it was nearing ten o’clock, it wasn’t a horrible sleep schedule. He pulled back the blinds on the windows to discover almost a foot of snow covering the ground. Pulling on a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt, he went off in search of his girls. 

Fionna had relit the fire and was holding both of the girls in her lap. 

“Look outside,” Aida urged. “It’s like magic!” 

Dan nodded though he thought the sight before him on his own sofa was far more magical than the snowfall. 

After carrying Halia’s bassinet back down to the living room so she could nap under her mother’s watchful eye, Dan bundled Aida up for playing in the snow. He filled the heat syncs with his hand and arranged them in Aida’s winter coat and boots before he donned his old Iodex snow jacket and set the heat syncs to keep his warm as well. Fionna helped Aida with her knit cap and gloves and waved to them as Dan helped Aida down the front porch steps. 

Dan showed Aida how to pack a snowball, and she let the still falling snowflakes land on her tongue. She joined some neighbors as they constructed a snowman with Dan’s help. 

“Hey, I’m Chris Leslie,” the children’s father extended his gloved hand to Dan. 

“Dan Vindico.”

“I’m sorry we haven’t met before now. I guess we kind of keep to ourselves,” Chris tried to explain. 

Dan grinned. “No apologies. We have the same thing going.” 

“I have a new baby sister named Halia,” Aida informed Chris’s daughter who appeared to be a year or two older than her. 

Chris smiled. “How new?”

“Very new,” Dan chuckled. “She was born Thursday morning.” 

“Your wife doing okay?” Chris seemed to understand that it was Fionna that had done all of the hard work. 

“She’s doing well. A little sore, really tired, and all that.” Truthfully, he wanted some reassurances. He’d seen the Leslies kids playing in the backyard and knew they had a house full.

“It always takes Carrie a little while to get her equilibrium back. We have five so you really can’t shock me. But can I ask you something?” 

“Sure,” Dan was wary. He kept one eye trained on Aida.

“Not to get into your business or anything, but have you met those people who bought the Adams old house?” He pointed to Fred Scheckles new home across the street from Dan and Fionna.

“Yes,” Dan sighed with an eye roll. 

Chris laughed heartily. “Okay, good. I thought you seemed completely normal, but he keeps telling everyone that you’re some kind of spy or something, and that you have weapons in your basement, and that you’re going to be starting some kind of neighborhood watch.”

Dan laughed. “I used to be the head of an Elite Force that worked out of the CIA,” he explained. “Not that I advertise that too often, but Fred showed up at my house and tried to detain one of my former officers.” He bent the truth even further. “And I don’t even have a basement. The back door leads to a single storage room that’s not tall enough to hold anything but lawn equipment which you are welcome to check out if you’re worried. I understand you want your kids and wife safe. I got out of the CIA last year. It’s not exactly the kind of job I wanted once I got married and started having kids. We adopted Aida back in April, and like I said, Halia was born a couple of days ago,” he explained. Whatever Fred Scheckles had told Chris it had him very concerned. 

         “Thank God,” Chris gasped his relief. “I didn’t know what to think. Carrie said she’d met your wife a few months back at the market and that she seemed like a perfectly normal, kind person. I’d seen Aida playing at the park and get off of the bus in the afternoons. But you hear about people everyone thought were normal going crazy and they have some kind of an arsenal in their home.” 

“I’m really sorry.” Dan wondered what could be done to shut Fred Scheckles up. “I swear to you unless you can build some kind of weapon of mass destruction out of dozens of preemie diapers, gallons of formula, and my wife’s extensive shoe collection, I can’t help you.” 

“That Fred guy is nuts. A few days after he announced that he was gonna join your neighborhood army, I caught him leering over the fence at my wife while she was raking leaves for the kids to jump in.”

Dan could tell that it had infuriated Chris, but he didn’t want Dan to think he was overbearing or overly protective. Since Dan was all about being overprotective, the guy had nothing to worry about.

“Now that I think of it, if he doesn’t stop getting our mail out of the box just to hand deliver it to Fi while he tries not to drool over her, I might just come up with that arsenal.” 

“That’s a cause I could get behind. He rang our doorbell at six Saturday morning to inform us that there was a Land Rover he hadn’t seen before parked in your driveway and to deliver our paper to us in his bathrobe. We have five kids. If they’re all asleep at one time, we throw a party, and here this guy is ringing my doorbell at six on a Saturday morning.”

“I do now understand how precious sleep is,” Dan assured him. 

“I thought my wife was gonna strangle him. She told him your wife probably had the baby. But why does he care which cars are in your driveway?” 

Something was going to have to be done about their neighbor. “That was my parents’ car. They kept Aida while Fi and I were in the hospital.” He was immensely thankful that Chris had decided to approach Dan instead of just going along with whatever Fred Scheckles was telling all of their neighbors. 

“Hey, you said preemie diapers,” Chris recalled. “She okay?” 

“Yeah, she was four weeks early. Weighed less than five pounds so we’re keeping a close watch on her, but she’s doing really well. We probably won’t have her out too much for a while.” He hoped to ward off any rumors as to why the Vindicos stuck close to home and weren’t especially social. 

“Hey, I get it. Annabelle was six weeks early.” He gestured his head to his youngest little girl. She was about three, if Dan was guess, and she was trying desperately to keep up with her older sisters and brothers. “She had to stay in the NICU for a week. Then Carrie and I wouldn’t let her out of our sight for the first six months. I had to convince Carrie to go out on the weekends and have a little fun. I was worried she would forget the world outside of our house.” 

Thinking that he really liked Chris Leslie, Dan offered him a kind smile. 

“She looks like she’s gotten it all figured out now.” Dan watched Aida pack a snowball for Annabelle and place it in her gloved hands. 

“You kidding me? Now, she wears us all out. I can’t keep up with her,” Chris chuckled as Annabelle toddled over to him showing him the snowball Aida made for her. 

“Did you tell Aida thank you?” Chris reminded her. 

“Dan tu,” Annabelle gushed making Aida giggle. 

Annabelle began exploring the front yard and picking up tiny sticks that had fallen from trees under the weight of the snow.

The older children followed after her, and Dan and Chris relocated to keep an eye on them. 

The squeal of car tires split the frigid air. Brakes screeched as the driver spun a hotrod in the cul-de-sac where the kids were playing. 

Dan grabbed Annabelle, and threw his shield cast shoving Aida and the Leslie’s youngest son away from the car. It careened where Annabelle had been standing not two seconds before and was forced away by Dan’s cast. 

He held Annabelle against his chest as he heard laughter spilling from the open windows of Buick from the early seventies. 

As he studied the passengers, he noted six or seven young men from Venton Academy. Seated in the middle of the backseat was none other than Clarence Pendergrath. 

“Oh my God. Thank you,” Chris choked as he made his way to Dan and Annabelle. 

The little girl was sobbing, and Dan handed her to her father. 

“Wow, you’re really strong,” the Leslie’s son admired. Dan sincerely hoped his cast hadn’t hurt the little boy. Evidence of it had dented the car’s fender. 

Fionna appeared on the front stoop bouncing Halia who was crying. Chris’s wife, Carrie, raced out of her house at the same moment. “What was that?” 

“Dan!” Fionna gasped over Halia’s wailing. 

“I’m coming, baby. Stay right there,” Dan didn’t want her carrying Halia down their snow covered steps when she still wasn’t all that steady on her feet. “I’ll call the police,” Dan offered Chris who was nodding as he fought back tears. He and Carrie held Annabelle between them along with their other children in an odd congregated hug. 

“Thank you so much,” Carrie broke away and threw her arms around Dan. When she felt the heat syncs in Dan’s jacket, her brow furrowed. 

“No problem.” He stepped back and lifted Aida into his arms as if that was the reason he’d fended Carrie off. 

As Dan carried Aida back through the snow towards their own from door, he heard Chris explain. “Oh yeah, it’s probably that thermo tech gear stuff. hHe used to be CIA. I told you that Fred guy was a moron.” 

Fionna was trembling from fear and cold as Dan bustled all of his girls back into the house. 

“Why did the car do that?” Aida’s chin shook as she clung to Dan. 

“The driver wasn’t being careful.” He helped her off with her coat and returned the heat syncs to the charging station hidden in their coat closet. He lifted Halia from Fionna’s embrace setting a heat cast through his hands and calming her from the freezing cold she’d been exposed to. Fionna was still shaking as she helped Aida change into warm clothes and settled her on the couch with her blanket and Sophie. 

“Do you know who that was?” Fionna whispred as she and Dan headed to the kitchen with Halia. She already knew that he did. She always knew.

“Yeah. I’m calling Dad and then Portwood.” 

“Are you freaking kidding me? I have to send guys out in this on Sunday because of that little prick,” Portwood spat angrily. 

“For the record, I told all of you letting him out was a huge mistake.”

“And I agreed with you, but when the Crown Governor says, ‘Landon, this is what we’re doing,’ I say yes, sir,” Portwood lamented. “Did he see you?” 

“Oh he sure as hell saw me.” 

“And is the house going on the market or are we okay with that?” was Portwood next question. 

“The house was going on the market anyway, but not for another few months. I just brought my baby girl home, remember?” 

“I’m on it. I’ll find Junior and his little gang of idiots,” Portwood spat furiously. 

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