Steve and Oscar stood outside Rudy’s office waiting for Rudy to come through the door and make the announcement that Steve was a father. He and Janet had waited for what seemed like eternity for this day and it was finally here.
For the fourth time in five minutes Steve glanced at his watch. “How long does it take to have a baby anyway?”
“Well I guess that all depends.” Oscar put a hand on Steve’s shoulder. “It just takes time pal.”
“I guess you’re right. I just figured I’d be a father by now.”
“Just relax Steve. You’ll be a father before you know it…”
Rudy opened the door and motioned Steve to come in. “You have a fine healthy son.” He proclaimed.
“And Janet?” Steve asked.
“She’s resting. Why don’t you go on down to her room, and I’ll bring your son in.”
“That sounds good. What room is she in?” Steve asked.
“Room 601, just down the hall” Rudy pointed.
Steve walked into to Janet’s Room. “Rudy will bring the future president in, in just a minute. How are you feeling?”
“I’m a little tired. It was more work than I thought.” Janet yawned.
“You look tired.” Steve agreed. “In fact you don’t look very good at all. Maybe I’ll tell Rudy to wait for just a bit. You get some sleep. I’ll admire our son from the nursery.”
“I think I would like that. I don’t know why I feel so tired.” Janet was asleep before Steve opened the door only to find Rudy on the other side.
“Say. Where are you headed? I have your son…”
“Janet is really tired. Can I just take him down to your office, that way Jan can get some rest?”
“Of course” Rudy agreed. “Come on. I’m sure you’re anxious to see this little guy?”
“I sure am.” Steve smiled at the blue blanketed bundle in Rudy’s arms.
They headed down to Rudy’s office where Steve sat and admired his new son. “Hey there champ.” Steve whispered “How’s the world been treating you so far.”
The boy merely closed his blue eyes and fell fast asleep in Steve’s arms.
Steve had been sitting for over an hour when Rudy walked up to him. “I hate to break this up, but I think we better feed him. I just checked Janet; she’s still sleeping, so I’ll show you how to give him his bottle.”
“Jan wants to nurse.” Steve reminded.
“That’s great. But right now he’s hungry and needs to eat. It’s better if you give him both worlds anyway. I for one enjoyed feeding my son.” Rudy proclaimed.
“How is Davie doing?” Steve inquired of Rudy’s three year old son.”
“He’s doing great. He’s into everything of course. You just wait till this little guy gives you the run around.”
“I’m ready for it I guess.” Steve smiled as he took the bottle from Rudy.
“Now you need to make sure the nipple has milk. Here Steve just tip the bottle like this.”
“I feel guilty Rudy I mean … “
“I know but she’ll get her chance at the next feeding. It wouldn’t hurt to alternate. That way if Jan goes away for the day, you’ll be able to feed him with no trouble, and he’ll be used to a bottle.”
“That’s right, you had trouble with Davie.”
“I never got a chance to feed him. He hated a bottle.” Rudy sighed.
Later that day Jan woke up and she too agreed that she and Steve should take turns feeding the baby they decided to name Brandon.
Two days later Rudy let Jan and baby Brandon go home. “Now you three take care.” He ordered with a smile. Have him back here in a month and we’ll see how he’s coming along.” Rudy reminded
One Year Later
Steve and Janet were blowing up the last of the balloons when the doorbell rang. “That’s probably Rudy, Jean and Davie. Rudy said he and Jean would stop by early to help us set up.” Steve puffed as he stood to answer the door.
“Well that’s good. We need all the help we can get what with ten one and two year olds invited to this big birthday blowout you have planned.”
“Hey, he’s going to turn one just one time.” Steve chuckled.
“Well answer the door silly.” Janet smiled.” personally I think this party is more for you.”
Laughing Steve walked across the living room and opened the door.
“It’s about time/” Rudy pretended to gripe. “Just leave us on the door step.”
“Sorry Rudy. Come on in I’m glad you and Jean could come and help.”
“We’re happy to.” Rudy’s wife pushed past Steve and made her way to Janet. “What can I do to help?” She asked.
“You can help me ice two dozen cupcakes.” Janet blew up the last balloon.”
“Well let’s get to it then.” Jean and Janet headed for the kitchen, while Rudy and Steve started to decorate the living room with balloons and streamers.
“Say.” Rudy began “Where’s Oscar. He should help too.”
“He said kids make him nervous. He’ll drop by later this evening for coffee and cake after the kids go home.”
“Chicken” Rudy teased.
“That’s what I said.” They were interrupted by the two women again.
“We’re going to the store to get some ice cream I just checked and we’re all out.” Janet gave Steve a quick kiss before she left.
“Davie is playing in the playroom.” Jean told Rudy as she and Janet went out the door.
“I’ll watch him.” Rudy promised.
They finished the decorating and Steve got Brandon ready for his party.
Rudy and Steve sat in the living room and watched Brandon and four year old Davie playing cars on the rug. They didn’t realize how long they had been sitting till the doorbell rang.
“That must be the gals.” Steve stood to answer the door. “Janet always forgets he keys.”
He opened the door and several women pushed their way in. Steve glanced at his watch then turned to Rudy. “They’ve been gone for over an hour.”
“I wonder if they had car trouble.” Rudy speculated as he readied to go look for them.
Their question was answered when the doorbell once again rang and a police officer stood on the front porch. “Col. Austin?” He asked.
“That would be me.” Steve replied
“I’m afraid I have some bad news.” The officer stepped into the living room where the party came to a stop with their appearance.
Steve led them into his study where they could have a private talk. Fearing the worst Rudy followed.
“You said you had some bad news?” Steve questioned.
“I’m afraid so. Your wife and another woman….”
“That would be my wife.” Rudy interrupted
“Well I’m glad you’re both together. Your wives were involved in an accident.
“How bad?” Rudy wondered.
“I’m afraid they were both killed.” The officer face remained serious.
Steve and Rudy walked out of the study and into the living room where no one not even the children made a sound.
“I’m afraid the party is over.” Steve sobbed.
All of the mother’s left but one Karen Rich said she would stay with the children while Steve and Rudy went with the police.”
“I appreciate that Karen.” Steve said as he and Rudy disappeared through the front door to ride with the police to the hospital to claim the bodies of their wives.
One year later
Oscar and Rudy sat in Oscar’s office. “How are you doing Rudy?” Oscar inquired.
“I’m doing pretty good. I never pictured myself as a single father but Davie and I are getting along pretty well.”
“Well that’s good. Have you heard much out of Steve? I gave him several months off and…”
“Yea and he went out and found another wife.” Rudy laughed.
Tell me about it between the other incident and the honeymoon I don’t think I’ve seen him much in the past year….Well speak of the devil.” Oscar exclaimed as Steve walked into the room.”
“I just came to invite the two of you over for dinner tonight. It’s Brandon’s second Birthday. We’re also celebrating; Kris is now Brandon’s legal mother.”
“You let her adopt him?” Oscar queried his voice full of suspicion
“Yes I did. We’re having cake around seven if you want to come.” Steve left Oscar’s office in a huff.
“You don’t think that was a good idea do you?” Rudy asked.
“Not at all but try telling him that.”
Six months later
Steve arrived home from a very rough assignment only to find Kris waiting at the door for him. “I’m telling you this now. I’ve had it with the whole thing.”
“Say what?” Steve was shocked.
“I’ve had it. You’re never home. If I’m going to raise Brandon on my own I might as well go Oregon to be with my mother!” She shouted.
“Kris let’s talk about this.” Steve tried to reason.
“There is no talk. I want a divorce and I want it now!!”
“Well you’re not taking Brandon.” Steve stiffened.
“We’ll see about that. I am his mother.” Kris shouted.
Three days later Steve sat stunned as the judge gave Kris full custody of his son. Steve was allowed one weekend a month with him…
Steve had waited for almost a month now to see Brandon. His lawyer had in motion papers to appeal the judge’s decision. Steve was sure that once the judge learned that he was Brandon’s father and that Kris was only his step mother that she would see the light and grant Steve full custody. He walked up the porch steps and was greeted by Kris at the door.
“Brandon can’t go with you. He has a cold.” Kris snapped. She abruptly turned and slammed the door in Steve’s devastated face.
Steve pounded on the door for several minutes until the police arrived. Steve looked at them. “I want my son. I’m to have custody of him this weekend.” Steve showed the officer the paper.
The officer dismissed the paper. “You are to leave the property now!” He ordered.
“But you don’t understand…” Steve tried to argue.
“If you don’t leave right now I’ll have to place you under arrest for harassment.” The officer warned.
“Yes sir.” A dejected Steve turned and headed down the steps. “All I want is my visit with my son.”
“That’s not our concern you’ll have to go to court for that. The woman who lives…”
“My ex wife” Steve grumbled.
“Who ever she is she called and told us a man was bothering her. We were told to escort you off the property.”
“Well you did.” Steve snapped. Steve got in his car and sped away. As he did Kris stepped out onto the porch.
“Is he gone?” Her voice quivered.
“Yes he is. Just give us a call if he bothers you anymore.” The officer sympathized.
“I’m sure he will. If you don’t mind could you drive by every so often?” Kris pleaded.
“It would be our pleasure.” The officer agreed.
“Thank you. He just won’t stop bothering me.” Kris began to cry. The officer led her into the house.
“Don’t worry Miss. We’ll handle it.” They assured.
“I appreciate that.” Kris continued to ‘cry’ until the police left.
After leaving Kris’ house Steve headed for Oscar’s He stepped up on the porch and rang the bell.
“Steve!” Oscar was shocked to see him. “I thought you’d be off somewhere with Brandon.”
“She wouldn’t let me take him Oscar. As a matter of fact she called the police, they told me if I went near her property again, I’d be arrested.
“I’ll take care if it Steve I have some friends on the force the commissioner for one.”
Thanks Oscar.” Steve sighed.
“No problem.” Oscar started to pick up the phone.”
“I don’t mean for this. Thanks for not saying ‘I told you so.’ I appreciate that.”
“Don’t worry. I’m having Russ checking her background.”
“Well maybe that will give us the answers we need….” Steve stopped as Oscar was speaking with the commissioner of police.
“Yes Tom. It’s Oscar Goldman.” He spoke. “Listen, a friend and employee if you know what that means.”
“He’s an agent?” Tom asked.
“Exactly, he’s having a little trouble with his ex wife. It’s his only weekend this month for a visit his son and she won’t let him.”
“I’ve heard about this from the officers the mother was very upset…” Tom replied.
“Well so is Col. Austin!” Oscar shouted.
“Look Mr. Goldman we try not to get mixed up in custody issues…did you say Col Austin, as in Col. Steve Austin?”
“The one in the same” Oscar exclaimed.
“We can’t really get mixed up, but if he would have had the court papers with him…”
“He did. Your officers refused to even look at them.” Oscar spat.
“Tell him to meet me there” Tom continued. “Tell him to not approach the house till I get there.”
“I’ll be with him in case your officer’s show up again because she’s crying in her soup.”
“I’ll try to get there before you.” Tom assured.
Tom was waiting when Steve and Oscar arrived. “Let me see the custody papers.” Tom took them from Steve. “Yes this says you are to have your son the last weekend of the month. That’s now.”
They started up the steps when Kris and the two officers stepped out. “I already have the police here!!” She screamed. She turned to the officer’s who’s faces were pure white. “Well do something!” She continued to screech.
“We can’t the men with him….”
“What about the men who are with him are you gong to be intimidated…”
“As a matter of fact, yes one of them is the director of the OSI, the other is our boss.”
Tom walked up to Kris. “Mrs. Austin. I’m Commissioner Tom Lund. I’m sorry you have to allow Col. Austin to take his son. He has custodial rights this weekend.”
“He has a cold!” Kris wouldn’t give up.
“I can have the judge here in fine minutes. She can give Col. Austin custody right now because you are the one in violation of a court order.” Tom threatened.
Kris huffed into the house and appeared two minutes with two and a half year old Brandon who was very happy to see his daddy.
“How about some clothes” Steve wondered.
“The order says I have to give you my son for the weekend nothing else!” Kris snapped and slammed the door.
On their way home Steve stopped and bought clothes to keep at his house for his son (who didn’t have a cold at all.)
“Don’t worry there son.” Steve said as he tucked him in that night. “Daddy will get you back.”
He sat with Brandon till the boy finally fell asleep.
As he walked down stairs the phone rang. Steve picked it up. “Hello.”
“Steve it Ted” Ted Mars spoke “Listen I’m afraid I have some bad news. There won’t be an appeal. The judge says she’ll stand by her decision no matter what.”
“You told her that Kris is only Brandon’s Step mother…”
“Not after you allowed her to adopt him. She has just as much of a right to him as you do in the eyes of the law.”
“Well the law is wrong. How can they do this to me?” Steve sobbed.
“I’m sorry Steve. I’m not giving up though.” Ted assured.
“Thanks. You heard about today?” Steve asked.
“Yes I did. Look Steve when you return him Sunday. Don’t be one fraction of a second late.” Tom cautioned.
“I won’t. She could give us problems huh?”
“She’s just waiting for it.” Ted warned.
“I’ll be sure I’m on time.” Steve assured.
“I can’t caution you enough Steve. Be on time even early if you have to.”
“I will.” Steve again assured. “I’ll be five minutes early.”
“That sounds good.” Ted agreed. “Don’t worry Steve we’ll get him back.”
“Thanks Ted. I’ll see you Monday?”
“Try to be in my office around nine. I have another Ave. I want to try.”
“I’ll be there.” Steve hung up and went up to sit with his son some more. “How had he gotten himself into this situation? Why had he ever allowed her to adopt Brandon in the first place?
Steve’s mind went back to that time almost a year ago now…
You’re really having a hard time with this, aren’t you Steve?” Rudy had questioned. It had only been a month since their wives had been killed in that tragic accident.
“I guess I am Rudy.” Steve sighed. “I just don’t know…”
“Look Steve I know how you feel about this sort of thing but maybe you should join a support group. They meet every other Thursday.”
“I don’t know Rudy. Tell my troubles to a bunch of strangers…” Steve scoffed.
“Sometimes it help.” was all Rudy said.
After careful consideration Steve went to Rudy to get the address of the next meeting. He left Brandon with a neighbor and went to the meeting place.
He had been shocked at how many people were there. One in particular caught his eye. She was a new comer as well and introduced herself as Kris Jones. Steve was surprised at the similarities in their two situations
It took two weeks but Steve finally got up the nerve to ask her out for coffee after the meeting. She readily accepted.
Their romance was a whirlwind they dated only a few times Then Steve asked her to marry him. She hadn’t accepted at first but Steve finally won her over. He was so impressed as to how Brandon had taken to her, and she seemed to adore him.
“it had taken much prodding from Kris to get Steve to allow her to adopt Brandon as her son, But she finally convinced him that it would be better in the long run, should anything ever happen to him, Brandon would be protected….
And now he sat beside his son’s bed, the son he was now only allowed to see one weekend a month if Kris so chose to let him do so. Steve curled up on the bed next to Brandon and cried himself to sleep.
The next day Steve and Brandon went everywhere together. Steve took him to wash the car and do some errands. He didn’t want Brandon away from him for one second.
Saturday night Steve had Rudy and Oscar over after he had put Brandon to bed.
“So how did it go?” Rudy asked.
“It went great. If I had my way I would just take off with Brandon tonight to parts unknown. I don’t want to be away from him for another month.” Steve cried.
“Don’t do that. Let the law run its course. If you do you’ll be the one in trouble.” Oscar cautioned
“Yea I know Ted already warned me.” Steve sighed.
“Steve we’re still running that background check I’ve got Russ in Oregon right now following up on what she told you about going to live with her mother.”
“She can’t take him out of state can she?” Steve asked.
“Not without your permission.” Oscar assured. “She can try, but she’ll be breaking the law I think she knows that.”
“Well I wouldn’t put it past her to at least try.” Steve sighed.
The next day Steve hated to return Brandon to Kris. He made sure he was early to drop him off. He didn’t want anything to jeopardize his gaining full custody of Brandon. There had to be a judge somewhere who could see through all of this.”
Steve rang the bell and Kris threw the door open then glanced at her watch. “Good!” She spat “you’re on time.” She grabbed Brandon who was still clinging to his father and dragged him crying into the house.
Steve cried all the way to Oscar’s office. “I tell you Oscar that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
“I’ll bet…” His words were cut off when Russ burst into the room.
Russ, when did you get back?” Oscar questioned.
“Just now, wait till you read what I found out.” He handed a folder to Oscar.
“This can’t be.” Oscar stammered.
“I’m afraid it is. I met him.”
“Met who?” Steve demanded.
“Kris’ husband” Oscar lowered his voice.
“Say what?” Steve almost fell out of his chair.
“She’s married Steve; she’s been married to a man by the name of…” Oscar sifted through the papers in front of him. “Frank Jones.”
“How long have they been married?” Steve wondered.
Again Oscar sifted through the papers “twelve years.” He announced.
“That’s not all Oscar.” Russ broke in. “None of their six children belong to either her or Frank. They all have different fathers and mother, men she married like Steve and then adopted as her own only to gain custody in a divorce.”
“You mean she marries them and then gets custody of the kids in a divorce like mine?” Steve was stunned.
“Exactly Steve” Russ explained.
“That’s it!” Steve shouted. “You get me what ever I need I have to get Brandon away from her!”
“Just go Steve. I’ll back you every step of the way.” Oscar called after him.
Steve arrived at Kris’ house with an OSI task force right behind him. They burst through the door only to find no one there…
Steve called Oscar from his car phone. “Oscar she’s gone and so is Brandon.”
“Don’t give up just yet Steve.” Oscar hollered “I’ll call Dulles. And have the Airport shut down. As well as Union Station. She won’t get out of the City with him.”
Oscar called in every favor ever owed him and soon the entire City was shut down. People could come in, but no one was allowed to leave unless their car was searched by a federal agent.
Steve stayed With Rudy in his office. “Don’t worry Steve. We’ll get him back for you.” Rudy tried to reassure his friend.
“I hope so. I don’t think I could go on without him Rudy.” Steve sobbed.
“You’re not going to have to. Just relax.” Rudy tried to keep him calm without drugging him. He wanted Steve to relax but on the other hand when Brandon was returned to him he would need to be wide awake.
At Dulles Oscar took over the security detail. “No planes have left?” He demanded.
“That’s right sir.” The flight marshal stated as he followed Oscar from area to area.
“Are there any direct flights to Oregon?” Oscar asked.
“Just one, the rest all have stopovers the flight marshal continued. “We’ll do anything for Col, Austin. I don’t care if we have to keep the airport shut down for a week.”
They checked that terminal first, to no avail. "Obviously she's not taking a direct flight." The Flight marshal stated.
“That would be to obvious." Oscar replied back. You realize the order is Just the flights out, flights can still land.” Oscar reminded.
“We figured that.” They continued searching every area of Dulles. Oscar kept in contact with Russ by radio. He was at Union station. Where there was many an unhappy traveler.
Just when Oscar and Russ thought they had exhausted every place there was to look and give up. Oscar hit pay dirt. He found Kris sitting at a gate, the last gate they looked at. This flight was bound for Utah with two stopovers
Oscar grabbed Brandon “Come on son we’re taking you home to your dad.”
“I have custody of him!” Kris screamed.
“That doesn’t entitle you to take him across the country.” Oscar corrected.
Kris was furious. She called for airport security. The security chief came running. “What is it Miss?”
“This man is kidnapping my son.” She screamed.
The security guard looked at Oscar then back to Kris. “You mean this man?”
“Yes of course he’s holding my baby.” She cried.
“I think you’re mistaken this is Oscar Gold…”
“I know very well who he is. My ex husband works for him he’s just angry because I got custody of our son.” Kris added.
“You have your ex husband’s permission to take the boy out of state.” The security asked.
“Of course not he would never allow…”
“Well then you’re the one who’s kidnapping.” The guard explained.
“I take it he has visitation?” the guard continued.
“Then you’re the one in violation of the court order. They have every right to take the child with them. Now do you wish to continue your flight?”
“Not without my baby!” Kris seethed.
“Suit yourself.” The guard turned to Oscar. “You can take him we know what’s going on.”
“Thanks.” Oscar stated He had his own people take Kris into custody, while he headed for Rudy’s office to return Brandon Austin to his rightful parent.
Steve leapt from his seat when he saw Oscar holding the child he feared he would never see again.
“Where was he?” Steve asked taking the boy from Oscar.
“We found them at the airport. The very last gate we checked. She had a plane ticket for Utah. I’m assuming she was going to buy a new ticket to Oregon when she arrived.
“I’m just glad he’s back.” Steve cried holding tightly to Brandon.
“Well it’s not over yet. You still have a court date.”
“Yea well maybe this time the judge will listen to me.” Steve wouldn’t let go of Brandon. “Look Oscar would you give us a ride home?” Steve asked. “I really don’t want to put him down.”
“Sure Steve, no problem. You can relax Kris is in jail for the night anyway. They’re calling it custodial interference. I’m sure once the DA gets wind of all that’s happened she’ll go for longer.”
“I suppose I should talk to Ted.” Steve headed for the phone. “Tell him what’s happened.”
“I suppose that would be a good idea. But why not wait till morning the DA is going to be presenting the case to the grand jury. He’s very interested in everything that’s been going on.”
“Really? well then I'll wait.” Steve said and he and Oscar headed for Oscar’s car so Oscar could give Steve a ride home. Steve chose to sit in the back with Brandon.
“Yea he’s called the DA in Oregon and all of the boys that Frank had in his home have been removed.
“Just boys. What about the girls?” Steve asked, as Oscar made his way toward Steve’s house.
“She never took any girls, just boys.” Oscar explained. “I don’t know I guess girls never appealed to her.”
“I still don’t understand all of it Oscar.” They got out of the car and headed into Steve’s house.
“It’s like this. Anyway this is what Russ found out. Kris and Frank couldn’t have any children so they devised a plan. Kris would marry unsuspecting widowers with boys under the age of four, then she would talk the father in allowing her to adopt…”
“I know that from Russ’ report. I guess I’m glad I’m not the only one?” Steve stated.
“Yea that’s right. You weren’t her first victim.” Oscar replied.
“Will the trial be here or Oregon?” Steve asked.
“Since the crime took place here it will be here.
“What about the other kids?” Steve was concerned.
“They are trying to locate their fathers as we speak. They range in age for five to thirteen. The thirteen year old they have had for ten years. I guess he was the first.”
“Well I’ll be” was all Steve could say.
“Yea I suppose so. Look Steve will you be alright tonight?”
“Of course Oscar” Steve assured.
“The DA will present the case to the grand jury at 9:00 tomorrow.” Oscar told him. “Do you want to ride with me?”
“I suppose only if I can take Brandon with me.” Steve held him close.
“I’m sure that can be arranged.” Oscar smiled. He hadn't seen Steve this happy in a long time.
After Oscar left Steve set up the cot in Brandon’s room. Steve planned to sleep in there with him till the trial was over and Frank and Kris were in prison for good.
“Steve had a tough time sleeping, Brandon was awake several times in the night calling out for him. Steve finally decided they would sleep better in his room in the queen sized bed. Brandon seemed to want to be as close to him as possible.
The next morning Oscar and Russ were in Oscar’s office talking over the case with the DA.
“Will Steve be in the court room?” The DA asked.
“Yes he plans on it only if he’s allowed to bring Brandon with him.”
“I’m sure the judge won’t mind.” The DA replied. “Now you realize this is not the trial this is merely to see if we have enough evidence to go to trial.”
“I understand.” Oscar noted. “You have enough evidence?”
“I feel I do. If not they have enough in Oregon to put them away for life.”
“What about the other states?” Oscar asked.
“They all want a crack at him. I believe each boy came from a different state.”
“We get him first.” Oscar stated.
“Yes we do. Then when they have served their time here, the other states will have their chance.”
“Well that’s good.” Oscar sounded relieved with all the time they would be doing, Brandon would be in his thirties before they got out if they ever got out.
At the house Steve was getting Brandon ready to go with him. Rudy’s nurse Lynda had offered to stay with Brandon, but Steve wouldn’t hear of it. He wasn’t going to let him out of his sight till Frank and Kris were behind bars in federal prison.
They were just finishing breakfast when the doorbell rang. “That must be ‘uncle’ Oscar.” Steve smiled at Brandon. “Come on let’s go open the door for him.”
Steve opened the door and was stunned to see Kris and who he assumed to be Frank standing on his porch.
“I’ve come to take my son. You can have him in a month.” She hissed. “If you don’t hand him over the police will be more than happy to help out. You see this time I have the custody papers stating I have custody but for the last weekend of the month. And now that you are making such a big issue out of this, I’ll tell the judge to revoke that.”
“How did you get out of jail?” Steve stammered.
“Ever hear of bail?” Frank spoke for the first time.
“But the grand jury…” Steve began.
“They don’t want to hear your pathetic case.” Kris screamed. “Now give me my son, and I won’t make your life a living hell.”
Steve tried to slam the door but Frank’s foot was blocking it. Kris bent down and grabbed the now screaming Brandon and ran off the porch with him.
Steve started to chase her when Frank pulled a 34 magnum and shot Steve in the leg. The bullet smashed into a main electric board and Steve fell unconscious….
“What do you mean they escaped?” Oscar thundered into the phone.
Oscar slammed the phone down and turned to Rudy and the DA who were standing in the doorway ready to leave.
“The Jones’ they escaped on the way over to the courthouse.” Oscar slammed the phone down. “I have to call Steve and warn him.”
“I guess I better get to the courthouse.” The DA turned and walked out the door. “I guess I have new charges to add.”
“We’ll meet you there.” Oscar gave him a wave as he picked up the phone to call Steve.
Rudy turned his attention to Oscar who had again slammed the phone down. “He doesn’t answer. Rudy we need to get over there NOW!!”
Rudy and Oscar raced out of the building and down to Oscar’s car. “Do you suppose they got to Steve?” Rudy asked as Oscar made his way through the end of rush hour traffic.
“That’s exactly what I think Rudy.” He was angry traffic wasn’t moving faster. “You would think that the rush hour traffic would have thinned out by now.” Oscar grumbled.
“Oscar just calm down” Rudy tried to remain cool
“I can’t calm down Rudy I’m sure they’ve taken Brandon. And lord only knows what they did to Steve in the process.”
“Well we’ll find out soon enough” Rudy stated as Oscar pulled into Steve’s drive and they headed up the porch steps. The door was partly opened so Oscar and Rudy stepped inside.
“Rudy what is it. What’s wrong?” Oscar asked as Rudy bent over Steve.
“It looks like he took a bullet in the leg. It hit a main circuit board. I’m sure I can repair it within an hour or so.”
“Good in the mean time we’ll search for Frank and Kris.” Oscar shouted as he helped Rudy get Steve into his car.
As Rudy and Oscar raced Steve to the hospital even thought he was driving Oscar got on the car phone and called the police to inform them that their search for Frank and Kris was to now include Brandon Austin.
“We already have them Mr. Goldman.” He was informed by the dispatcher at the police department.
“Good. I’ll be by in ten minutes to pick up Brandon.” Oscar barked into the phone.
“That’s fine sir. We’ll have him ready for you.” The dispatcher assured.
“Thanks.” Oscar set the phone down and turned to Rudy.
“Good news for a change?” Rudy asked.
“Yea they already have Frank and Kris in custody. In fact they are in the grand jury room as we speak.”
“Well that’s good.” Rudy was closely watching Steve’s vitals which were growing weaker as they drove.
“Hurry Oscar” Rudy called out. “I’m not able to find a pulse on him.”
Oscar hit the gas and they arrived at the medical Center in a mater of seconds. Rudy rushed Steve up the bionics section.
“Listen Rudy you take care of him. I’ll go get Brandon.” Oscar called out as he ran down the hall.
Rudy took Steve into the lab. And began to access the damage he removed the bullet and replaced the circuit board with a new one. Steve’s vitals jumped back up to where they belonged and he slowly opened his eyes.
“Rudy?” he asked.
“Yea Steve, just relax.” Rudy cautioned.
“Brandon. I have to…”
Oscar went to get him the police have him.”
“They won’t give him to…” Steve started. Kris told me the grand jury didn’t want to hear the case.
“And since when do you believe anything that that witch has to say?”
Steve gave him a puzzled. “You mean they weren’t out on bail?
“No they weren’t.” Rudy started to explain. “Frank and Kris escaped on their way to the courthouse.’
Steve shot him a look. “You’re telling me the truth? They told me they had gotten out on bail and the grand jury wasn’t even going to hear it.” Steve tried to sit up but Rudy held him down.
“I’m telling you the truth. They were never released and they are before the grand jury now.”
Steve still didn’t believe him till Oscar stepped through the door. “Is he ready for company?”
“If it’s who I think it is the sooner the better.” Rudy smiled as Oscar ushered Brandon into the room.
“Daddy!” Brandon cried as he ran to his father.
“Hey there buddy.” Steve grabbed the boy and held him close. “Daddy missed you.”
“I missed you daddy. Mommy Kris said I was going away with her.” He cried.
“No son. Daddy won’t let you go away with her. You’re staying with me.” Steve continued to cuddle the boy close to him. “Daddy is never letting you go again.” Steve cried tears of joy as he clung to the boy he again feared he would never see again.
“Say Rudy, when can we get out of here?” Steve wondered.
“I suppose anytime you’re ready.” Rudy responded.
The phone rang while they were talking. Oscar picked it up. “Well I don’t know.” He replied. “Just a moment I’ll ask.”
Rudy and Steve turned toward Oscar who held the receiver in his hand. “It’s the DA He wants to know if Steve can testify.”
Rudy thought for a moment. “I guess that’s up to Steve. I mean he was going to before. And you just heard me say he could leave anytime.” He turned to Steve “Do you want to?”
“You dam right I do.” Steve threw the covers off and jumped out of bed. “Let’s go.”
“I think you might want to put some pants on first Steve. If you show up like that it will really impress the grand jury.”
“Oh yea I never thought.” Steve grabbed his trousers from the closet and was ready to go in minutes.
The four of them sat outside the grand jury waiting for their turns to testify. Brandon played on the floor in front of them.
“By the way Rudy, where is Davie?” Steve asked.
“He’s spending the week with Jean’s folks. I’m sure he’ll be spoiled rotten by the time he comes back.” Rudy laughed.
“Yea I suppose he will. You know I’ve been thinking…” They were interrupted when the bailiff came and told Oscar it was his turn to testify.
“You were saying Steve.” Rudy wondered.
“Well I’ve been thinking about this. I need someone to help me out with Brandon. I mean you know Oscar. He calls at all times of the day or night…”
“Tell me about it.” Rudy smiled.
“Anyway since we are both trying to raise these kids on our own, why not pool our resources. “
What do you mean?” Rudy asked. “You mean move in together?”
Steve nodded. “That way there would be two adults in the house. I thought about a house keeper but what with all the things that are talked about in the house she would have to have a security seven clearance.”
“You’re right there. Let me think about it.” Oscar came out and motioned Steve to go inside. “Don’t worry we’ll watch Brandon.” He assured.
Steve stepped into the grand jury room.
Just have a seat Col. Austin.” The DA directed Steve to the witness chair. “I just have a few questions.”
“Sure.” Steve sighed.
“You are a widower correct?”
“Yes, my wife was killed in an automobile accident about a little over a year ago.” Steve explained.
“You met Kris Jones, how?” The DA continued.
“I met her in a support group for widows and widowers. We had similar stories and for some reason hit it off.”
“Is that the only thing about her that impressed you?” The DA pressed.
“No she took to my son. And my son took to her.” Steve went on
“This was important to you.” The DA asked.
“Yes it was. Of course I had no idea I would marry her. I just wanted a friend.” Steve added
“Whose idea was it to get married?” The DA wanted to know
“Excuse me?” Steve wondered.
“Which one of you was the first to suggest marriage?”
“That would be Kris.” Steve answered.
“At that point the idea of marriage was it on your mind at all?”
“No, as a matter of fact it wasn’t.” Steve was now seeing everything.”
Thank you, no more questions.
Steve sat and waited for the public defender to ask his questions. Slowly he stepped toward Steve.
“Isn’t it true that you wanted a babysitter for you son and you proposed marriage for that reason only. Do you not work for the government and are called out at all times? Didn’t it work in your best interest to have Kris in the home?”
Steve’s mind was a whirl wind. He couldn’t’ keep up with the questions, much less answer them.
“Your honor!” the DA rose. “He’s badgering the witness.” He complained
“I agree. Mr. Pike one question at a time please give the witness time to answer one before you go onto another.”
“Very well your honor I apologize to the court.”
“Why did you propose marriage?” Pike asked.
“I didn’t she did.” Steve’s face remained sober.
“I see. Do you work for the OSI?” Pike smirked.
“That question can not be asked. Pike and you know it.” The judge admonished.
“I have no further questions.” Pike stamped back to his seat.
“Can I ask a question?” Steve wondered.
“I suppose.” The judge was wary.
“The public defender asked me why I proposed. I didn’t. But if she was already married why did she ask me to marry her.”
“Well that question is on everyone’s minds. I’m sure we all know the answer.” The judge stated.
Pike leaned over to his clients after much whispering he asked to meet with the judge
The judge called a recess and everyone left the court room.
Steve rejoined Rudy, Oscar and Brandon outside the courtroom.
“What’s going on?” Rudy asked.
“I don’t know. The judge called a ten minute recess.” Steve replied as he lifted Brandon off the floor and held him on his lap.
They hadn’t sat five minutes when the DA appeared. “They plead guilty to all charges.” He announced.
“Well that’s a relief.” Oscar sighed.
“Steve your lawyer is waiting for you in Family Court. It’s just down the hall.” He handed him the transcript from the grand jury. “Just show this to the judge.”
“Thanks.” Steve made his way down the hall.
What’s this all about?” Rudy and Oscar asked when they caught up with Steve.
“I’m having the adoption overturned. Kris will no longer be a part of Brandon’s life.”
Steve joined Ted in the court room The judge was angry at first. She simply glared at Steve and his attorney.
“We want the adoption overturned.” Steve’s lawyer stated.
“Not on your life. A child belongs with his mother.” The judge snapped. “I thought I said I wasn’t going to hear this case again. And I’m not going to hear it now. I want you out of my court room. The ruling stands where it is…”
“You really need to hear us out.” Ted argued.
“There is nothing to argue about!” The judge sneered.
Your Honor there is some new evidence just brought to light.” Ted spoke.
“And that would be?” she snapped
“For starters” Ted began. “Kris and her husband are on their way to jail.”
“Her husband? he’s standing right here.” The judge admonished.
“No. Your honor Steve’s her ex husband. She was already married when she married my client.
“I don’t believe you!” The judge screamed.
“It’s all right here your honor.” Ted held up the transcript from the grand jury proceedings. “In fact they just plead guilty.” Ted continued.
“I doubt that!” The judge snapped. She instructed the bailiff to retrieve the file from the lawyer. “Let me se it!” She ordered
After reading the file the judge closed the file and turned to Steve. “I’m very sorry Col. Austin. I didn’t know about this.” She proclaimed. “What can I do for you to make this right?” Her tone had taken a complete turn around. “Please forgive the court.”
“We want the adoption overturned and Col. Austin granted full and sole custody of his son.” Ted asked.
“Granted” the judge stated. She signed the papers then handed them to Steve. “I doubt that you’ll need them. According to this file, Kris and Frank will spend the rest of their lives in jail in one state and then the other. The DA’s in the other states can’t wait to get their hands on them.”
“Yes your Honor. May I say one thing before we leave?”
“Don’t press it Steve.” His lawyer warned.
“I’m sorry Ted. I have to say it.” Steve tuned to the judge “if you will bear with me for just a moment?”
“After all you’ve been through I suppose I can offer you a few minutes. This case went faster than I thought I have a moment before the next one.
“Thank you, you know you jumped to conclusions in my case. Brandon is my son, my biological son. He was my son before I ever married Kris.”
“I’m aware of that.” The judge was getting irritated again.
“I’m sorry your honor, but Brandon is my life. I don’t know what I would ever do without him. I think I could have accepted it if Kris had been Brandon’s natural mother, but she wasn’t “
“What’s you point mister Austin.” The judge wanted to know.
“I just hope no other father has to go through what I did, he glanced at the transcript from the grand jury trial with the six other men who had also lost their sons to Kris. “Maybe I should say what we went through.”
“I think I understand what you are trying to say.” The judge was much softer now. “I will try to be a little my sympathetic.” She promised.
Steve nodded. “Thanks, that’s all I ask for.” Then he and Ted stepped out into the hall where Rudy, Oscar and Brandon were waiting for him.
“Can we go home daddy?” Brandon asked.
“We sure can. Let’s go.” Steve picked him up and started down the hall
“Steve! Hang on a second.” Rudy called. “About that offer you made. Does it still hold?”
“Of course it does Rudy. Why?”
“Well I think it would be a good idea.”
“We’ll start looking in the morning.” Steve carried Brandon down the hall and out to his car. Meet us at the house say around ten.”
“That sounds good. I’ll be there.” Rudy promised.
“The next day Rudy and Steve set out on their quest to find a home suitable to raise their sons in. Rudy’s son Davie was back from his grandparents so the four of them began the day.
It took some time but they finally found the perfect place.
Two months later Rudy and Steve were all moved into their new house. It was a split level. Rudy and his son Davie took the lower lever while Steve and Brandon claimed the upper level. They shared a kitchen and laundry room.
There was a big play set left by the previous owners that Davie and Brandon both took a liking to.
Rudy and Steve decided to take turns cooking. They thought alternating every other night was a good idea.
How is every thing going?” Oscar asked when he stopped by one night.
“Just great” they both replied.
“I have some news for Steve, that’s why I dropped by.” Oscar began. “The sentencing hearing was today.”
“How much time did they get?” Steve asked.
They both got twenty years…”
“Is that all?” Steve sounded angry.
“You forget other states want their turn at them as well. “That’s twenty years in DC. They still have trials in six other states. If they receive twenty years in all seven including here that’s 120 years.” Oscar pointed out.”
“Still not enough” Steve grumbled.
“Don’t the other states have statute of limitations?” Rudy inquired.
“Yes they do. But the DA’s were all able to convince the courts to hear the cases when the time comes.”
They agreed to it.” Rudy couldn’t believe what he was hearing
“It’s a very unusual case.” Oscar reminded.
“Yea I guess you’re right.” Rudy agreed. “At least they won’t bother Steve and Brandon for some time.”
“She wanted visitation of Brandon. She said as much at the hearing…”
“Say what?” Steve bellowed. “No way am I taking Brandon to see her in …”
“You don’t have to, remember you had the adoption overturned?” Oscar reminded.
“Oh yea what did the courts say?”
“The Family Court Judge sat in on the proceedings she even told them she would never allow such a thing.”
“Well that’s good, maybe some good did come out of this.” Steve sighed.
“I’ll expect you back to work in a week, I think you’ve had a long enough vacation.” Oscar patted Steve’s shoulder.
“What ever you need Oscar.” Steve smiled. “I owe you a lot.”
That night Rudy and Steve sat in the living room watching the boys play when the doorbell rang. They looked at one another as neither was expecting company.
“I’ll get it.” Steve decided. “Maybe it’s Oscar.” Steve headed for the door.
“Wait.” Rudy called after him “I’ll come with you.” They left the boys playing and answered the door.
Several men stood on the front step. “Col. Austin?” The spokesman wondered.
“Yes?” Steve replied.
“You don’t know me, in fact you don’t know any of us, but we all have a common bond. We have all been married at one time or another to Kris Jones.”
Steve and Rudy stood in the doorway wondering what they wanted.
“May we come in?” The spokesman asked.
“Yes, of course” Steve moved out of the way. “Please come in.” Steve offered.
“Thank You.” The spokesman stated as they all stepped inside.
“I don’t mean to sound Rude…” Steve began.
“But what brings us all here, right?”
Steve laughed, “You said it, not me.
“We can only stay a minute we all made arrangements to fly into town at the same time.” The spokesman continued. The hotel has a babysitter and she is watching our kids.”
Steve and Rudy began to set up folding chairs to accommodate their guests.
“You can stay for coffee.” Steve suggested while Rudy went upstairs to fix it.
“Yes I suppose.” The spokesman continued. “My name is Herb Ebb. I guess I was elected spokesman. You see I was Kris’ first victim.
“I see.” Steve pointed to the chairs. “Please everyone have a seat.” He offered.
“Thanks again. We really weren’t sure if we should just show up unannounced.” Herb went on. We just wanted to meet the man responsible for having our children returned to us.”
The rest of the men introduced themselves while Rudy served the coffee.
“I’m glad to meet all of you.” Steve smiled.
“Not half as glad as we are Col. Austin…’
“Please, it’s Steve.” Steve told them
“Ok. Steve. We just wanted to thank you for all you did. You see we all had the same trouble. The family court judge didn’t even consider giving us our children.
“Tell me about it.” Steve sighed.
“Anyway all of us have our sons back. We just wanted to thank you.” Herb finished.
“I’m glad it worked out for everyone else too.” Steve stated “And I’m glad that you all stopped by.” He added.
They sat talking long into the night about their experiences with Kris Jones. They all agreed they were happy she would more than likely spend the rest of her life in prison.
“It was past midnight when the other men left.
“Well that was interesting.” Rudy noted after they had left.
“Yea I hope they have as good an outcome in court when they have their day.
“I’m sure they will. Do you want to leave this mess till morning, or clean up now?” Rudy asked.
“Let’s wait I’m beat.” Steve yawned.
“Same here” Rudy headed down stairs to his area and after checking Davie went to his own room.
Steve did the same thing before retiring to his own bed. He peeked in on Brandon who was fast asleep.
Steve walked over and gave the boy a kiss on the cheek, “Don’t worry partner no one will ever separate us again.”
He went to his own room and soon joined the rest of the house in slumber. He was glad he and Rudy lived together.