Katherine struggles raising her four sons by herself.
ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:
Gabriel motioned to Reggie as he walked to the door. "I need to get home. If you need any help tomorrow, you have my number." He held out his hand. "Give me your phone."
"You have my number on the staff roster, but I'm putting it in here so you have it readily available." He added it. "How do you want me to identify myself?"
"I'm pretty sure you have a few choice names for me."
"Why don't you just put it under Gabriel Hudson? I think I can find it."
He handed her phone back and grinned. "You sure?"
"Yes." She hesitated. "Really, I'm indebted to you. I hate to admit it, but this is one time your pushiness was needed. Thank you."
He cupped her hand in his. "You're welcome and thank you for saying it."
"You're still incorrigible," she teased.
"Like I said, Mom would agree." He opened the door. "Good night."
Chapter 10 part 1
As Gabriel drank his first cup and read the front page of the newspaper, he set it on the table. "Reggie, what are we doing here? Are you worrying about Kate and the boys as much as I am?"
Reggie made a grunting sound.
"I thought so. We're both concerned." He downed another cup. "Let's go and push our way into her life, again." He petted the dog and grinned. "It's part of our charm."
Once parked at Katherine's house, he walked to the door. "You know we're going to hear about it, don't you?"
Reggie lay down.
"What are you worried about? She's never lectured you." Gabriel knocked. No answer. He knocked again and then listened. He heard boys arguing. I have a feeling things aren't going well. He bent over and rubbed Reggie's ears. "Should I just walk in?"
"I take that as a yes." He opened the door and saw Joel standing on the couch holding an action figure out of Jeremy's reach. "What's going on?"
With tears streaming down his cheeks, Jeremy said, "He took my Hulk and won't give him back."
Gabriel took it from Joel. "Did you take his toy?"
Holding up his hand, Gabriel continued, "Is there ever a reason to take somebody else's belongings, especially a brother?"
Joel hung his head. "No, but..."
"Okay, Jeremy, before I give this to you, what did you do?"
Joel crossed his arms and grinned. "Coach just ditched you out. Tell him."
Gabriel gave Joel a warning look. "Jeremy, do you have something to tell me?"
"It wasn't me. The Hulk was saving the world, and the bad guys hid in the Lego fort Joel built, and he destroyed it. I didn't do it, The Hulk did."
Gabriel held out the action figure. "So you're telling me this piece of plastic on its own power smashed a Lego fort. Do I understand correctly?" When Jeremy nodded, he continued, "Show me how he did it." He set the figure on the floor. "Don't touch it. I want it to move on its own."
Jeremy sighed. "It had a little help."
"Thought so. Maybe you owe Joel an apology."
"Okay." With tears running down his cheeks, Jeremy walked up to his brother and gave him a hug. "I'm sorry and so is The Hulk."
Gabriel asked, "Joel, how about you?"
"I accept your apology." Joel sighed. "And The Hulk's too."
Petting Reggie's head, Gabriel muttered, "One emergency solved, but you'd better remain with these two." He scanned the room. "Jeremy, where's everybody?"
"Jordan and Joshua are supposed to put our rooms together, and Mom's yelling at the washing machine."
Gabriel pointed toward the kitchen. "The laundry room's this way, right?"
He nodded. "I think so."
As Gabriel headed that direction, he heard water splashing and a loud, "No!"
Gabriel rushed to the washer and turned off the water source. He turned around, attempting to hide his grin. "Joel, bring your mom a towel." He scanned the large sorted piles of clothes. "Before I left yesterday, why didn't you tell me that you needed the washer and dryer hooked up? I would've done it. You could've gotten an early start."
"It was late, and you'd already done so much." Katherine paused, studied the floor, and the drenched dog. "I couldn't ask one more thing."
He used his finger to raise her chin so their eyes met. "I would've preferred you asked." He used a finger to move a stray strand of hair. "You're pretty cute soaking wet and hair falling out of your pony tail. The look suits you."
Joel handed her the towel. "Mom, what happened?"
"She fought the washer and the washer won."
Huffing, she turned. "I'm going to change."
He called after her. "I already know I pushed my way in and am incorrigible."
When she returned, she noticed he had put the first pile in the washer. "Thank you, but you didn't need to do that."
"Since you helped me again, I hate to say this, but you can't just walk in my house. I thought the new you knocked." She shook her head. "You need to knock and..."
"Stop right there," interrupted Gabriel. "I did knock, but nobody heard me. You were back here, and the two older boys were upstairs, and the two younger ones were fighting. Before I came back here, I solved their fight. I left Reggie with them and gave him instructions to referee." He took her bruised hand and checked it, but didn't comment.
"It's fine." She moved her hand out of his. "I want to thank you, again for everything." With her back against the wall she slid down to the floor. Her knees were chest high and her head in her hands. "I don't know what I was thinking when I thought I could make this move by myself."
Daisy nuzzled in and licked her cheek.
Gabriel knelt to her level. "You're doing fine. Everybody needs a little help once in a while."
"I bet you don't. You're always in control."
"Even me. Why do you think I have a large coaching staff supporting me? They have my back." He offered his hand, helped her up, and scanned the area. "I won't be much help putting all this where it goes. While you were changing, I took the liberty to get help. If it's all right, I'll take the boys fishing on my parents' farm. Bill will come with me. Angie will help you. Ms. Sarah and Mom will be here shortly. I haven't mentioned a word about this to the boys, in case you disapprove."
As she set her jaw, he added, "I know I over stepped, again, but you need help. Accept it, please?" He grinned. "There's a benefit. I'll be out of your hair all day."
She shook her head and laughed. "Okay, that's something positive." She scanned the boxes. "And you're taking the boys with you?"
He nodded. "I told Bill to bring some lunch. After they eat, we'll be out of the way."
"You know I can feed my own kids."
"I know. Matter-of-fact, I happen to know from experience that you're a good cook. Dinner Wednesday evening was very good." Gabriel turned his head as he heard a knock on the door. "It's probably Bill and Angie." He started toward the door. "I'll get it."
Katherine exhaled. "It's my house, but I'll let you answer it." She headed for the door with Daisy by her side. "Is it okay if I follow?"
He paused. "No, it's not." Placing his hand on the small of her back, he added, "It is okay if you walk beside me." He stopped and his eyes met hers. "I never want to give you the impression I think you're less important than me. If I ever give you that impression, please tell me."
After swallowing, she said, "I will."
"I'd never degrade you."
After Katherine nodded, they continued to the door. Gabriel waited until she opened it, and they both greeted Bill and Angie.
Bill shook Gabriel's hand. "I began to think nobody was going to let us in."
Gabriel glanced at Katherine. "I acted like me again and gave an impression I had no intention of giving and had to quickly correct it." He hesitated. "We good?"
Katherine touched his arm. "We're good."
Angie held up a large bag. "I have sub sandwiches and chips for everybody. Anybody hungry?"
Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.
Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador
Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman
Reggie: a very large English Mastiff
Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.
Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.
Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade
Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.
Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.
Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.
Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.
Frank Collins Math teacher.
Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents
Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased
Frank Collins math teacher
Alan Green an Assistant Principal
Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife
Sam Auto repair shop owner
Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.
Thank you google images for the photo of The Hulk. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. This post is a little under 1300 words. I'm sorry about the length. Again, I made changes as I posted. I hope it works.