Alright, I’m still looking for suggestions for a new name for this story! So far only 1 person has made a suggestion.
Kate fed the dogs, cats and her household on Tuesday morning. After she dropped by the library and the grocery store, she headed for the shelter. Opening the door, she saw a few people standing around the desk. It looked like someone was trying the computer again. It hadn’t worked in months. Someone had virused it and not even Zach had been able to make it work.
She was almost in the door when someone small tackled her around the knees. Looking down she saw the little Cole girl.
“Well, good morning. You’re Jamie, right?” she asked with a light tone to her voice.
“Yes. And your name is Kate and you make really good peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And I ate mine faster than Mark ate his. And…” Jamie prattled on so fast that Kate was having trouble keeping up.
“Whoa there dear! Slow down a bit.” Kate smiled. Looking down at Jamie, she realized that she looked a lot like her father. Turning around, she realized that it was Eric at the computer. He was deep in conversation with Suzanne and figured that she’d catch up on the latest gossip in a bit.
“Now, where is your brother?” Kate said as she moved down the hall.
“He’s in the room, reading a book.”
“Alright. Do you need to stay with your dad?”
“Maybe. Can I go with you?”
“Not right now dear. I have some stuff to do,” Kate hugged Jamie. She sent her back towards her dad and turned down the hall to her office.
Opening the door, she took a look at her office. It was topsy-turvy and all the heavy stuff was pushed away from the walls. Kate was just about to head out and complain when there was a knock on the door frame. She turned to find Eric standing there with a computer cable in his hands.
“I’m sorry about the mess. I’ve been trying to get your computer system online. Suzanne said it’s been down for a couple of months. Your office had the phone connection I needed.” He was apologetically.
“I was wondering what had happened to my space.” Kate was shaking her head at the disarray.
“I’ll have it all back in place soon. Then you can do your paperwork on the computers again. I’m really sorry about the mess.”
“That would be nice,” Kate turned to find her jobs list for the day. It would be so nice to have the computers working.
A few hours later, Kate was sipping a cup of tea when Suzanne came in. Her office was still a mess, but her computer worked.
“Where did Eric come from?”
“What do you mean?” Kate was puzzled.
“Yesterday I came in and there was this quiet little family. The next thing I know, Eric had volunteered to fix half a dozen things, and actually got them done. He tackled the computers this morning and had them up and running before anyone could say boo.”
“Oh. They showed up on the back stairs just as I was getting ready to close up for the night. They’re from Virginia I think,” she went on vaguely.
“Well, I am so happy that he was able to do something with the computers. He seems a nice man. Does he plan to move on, or stay locally?”
“He said that they were heading North when their car broke down. I haven’t talked to the sheriff’s office to see what happened. All I really know is what was said the other night.”
“Okay. I just wondered if you knew anything more that I did.” Suzanne turned and left the office.
Eric was working hard to make a good impression on those around him. He was also looking for work. It had been over a month, and the best prospect he had had been fast food counter service. Eric hadn’t declined the job, but he wasn’t too eager to take it either. The odd jobs on computers had given him a bit of leeway, but not much.
The sheriff that had picked them up that night helped him get the remains of his car towed into the local junk yard. It was a hopeless mess. Too many miles and a blown radiator hose was just more than the little engine could take. Realizing that there was no way to head North, he started to change his priorities. Eric needed housing, work and to get Jamie and Mark into school. School might be the hardest part as there were no records to hand over. Living up on the ranch had been good and bad. Mostly bad. Now he had to start all over. Sweeping up the kitchen, he was lost in thought and didn’t hear Kate come up behind him.
“Geeze!” he exclaimed as dropping the broom.
“Oh! I’m sorry Eric. I thought you heard me come into the kitchen.”
“No, I didn’t hear you. You startled the hell out of me.” He picked up the broom, and tried to take a deep breath. “What can I do for you?”
“Well, I was wondering if you’d like to come over for dinner. The boys are all home and I know you don’t know many people,” she trailed off.
Eric looked at her, and then around at the kitchen. “Give me five minutes to finish up this job and we will be ready to go.”
“Oh good. I’ll get Jamie and Mark.”
“Okay. Thanks.” He went back to sweeping. He worked fast and was upstairs to change almost before she had gotten the children ready to go.
“My that was fast.”
“Well, the idea of something besides PB J’s was just too enticing.” Eric smiled.
“Good. I hope you like barbecue. Andy, Zach and his buddies have the grill fired up and are sacrificing chicken and beef to the charcoal gods.” It was Kate’s turn to smile.
“Are there going to be hot dogs?” Jamie asked.
“Yes dear. Hot dogs, root beer, potato salad, and lots of chips.”
“Oh goodie! Goodie! Goodie!” Jamie danced.
Behind her Mark smiled, but it was like it just grazed the surface. Kate didn’t know what to make of him. Jamie was so like Eric, it was almost as if Mark wasn’t even his child. She wondered if he took after his mom.
“Well, my car is out back. A white Subaru, and it’s unlocked. Off you go.” She turned them towards the door. Eric followed her out and made sure that the back door closed tight.