The next several weeks would be some of the happiest in Tammy Orson’s life. Not only did she have her Channel to begin her training, but she also enrolled in the Masonic School of Science, Mathematics, and Sorcery. The Masons had several branches across the country, but Tammy was particularly excited to be attending the Atlanta school, located underneath Stone Mountain. This meant she got to spend much of her free time with Dave and Maddie, the latter of whom she had dubbed her Big Sister. Best of all, the Masons had helped Latonya find a condo to rent, a new job as a scheduler at one of the biggest hospitals in Atlanta, and a successful charter school to enroll her son in.
Every night, Tammy would come home excited and invigorated by her studies. One night, she might be telling her mom how they learned about combustion, while another night, she would go on and on about gravity and the levitation spells they had started working on. She wasn’t allowed to demonstrate anything, as sorcery was only allowed in school for children, but the school did hold several meet-and-greets with the teachers where the parents could watch their children demonstrate their skills.
As happy as Tammy had become, her brother, Jabar, continued to struggle. His grades had improved a bit in his new school, but he still had an attitude and was developing a reputation as a bully toward the smart kids in his classes. With Tammy becoming the center of attention at home, Latonya could only reason that he was taking out his frustrations on his classmates. She worked hard every day to show both of her children equal amounts of love and support, showering praise on Jabar whenever he did something well, but nothing seemed to be working. She took the next chance she could to ask Patricia for advice.
“I just don’t know what to do with him…”
“This is actually pretty common,” said Patricia. “Jabar is feeling left behind, not only in that Tammy has powers that he doesn’t have, but also just in general attention.”
“So, what do I do?”
“My advice is to take a vacation, just you and Jabar. Maybe a long weekend, something to remind him that he’s still your son and you love him just as much as you love Tammy. Is there somewhere you’ve always wanted to go but never had the chance?”
Latonya thought for a moment. “Hmm… well, I’ve always dreamed of seeing the Grand Canyon. But if I take Jabar there, won’t Tammy resent us leaving her behind?”
“If you explain why you two are going, I doubt it,” Patricia smirked. “She’s a smart girl; she’ll understand. And as it so happens, we have a few cabins along the Grand Canyon. I’d be happy to let you use one for the weekend, free of charge. Nice and quiet, it’s not even in Grand Canyon National Park, which means no tourists to bug ya. Hell, I’ll even teleport y’all there and back, save you the airfare.”
“Oh, you don’t have to do that!” Latonya protested.
“Nope, but I want to. Besides, it’ll do your son a lot of good.”
After confirming that Dave and Maddie would be happy to take care of Tammy for the weekend, Latonya and Jabar were set for their trip. Latonya had almost not asked the Brightons to babysit, since they were newlyweds, but they enjoyed having Tammy around so much that it was just too perfect. True to form, Tammy understood perfectly why she wasn’t invited on this trip; she was worried about Jabar, too. Thankfully, the young man was excited about going to see the Grand Canyon. He had never been outside of Detroit, save for the last three weeks in Atlanta, so the chance to see something so huge was an experience he was looking forward to.
“So cool, Mom!”
“Yep, it definitely is,” Latonya agreed, following behind her son as they walked the trail back to their cabin.
“I mean, that thing is… HUGE!” Jabar continued, clearly on sensory overload from their first day at the Grand Canyon. “This is the best day ever…”
“And know what could make it even better? Mac and cheese with hotdogs for dinner.”
“FOR REAL?! YEAH!!!”
“Come on, you little fireball. Let’s eat.”
Latonya smiled as she took Jabar’s hand. She had never seen him so exuberant and full of life. He was always excitable, but this was completely different. He finally got a chance to see the great big world outside his own little world, and he liked what he saw. Jabar had even thanked Patricia when she dropped them off at the cabin, recognizing that she was the one who made it possible. The pair walked up the steps of the cabin, laughing all the way, and closed the door behind them.
“Ok, Maddie’s guess was wrong. Just you and me, Tammy,” said Dave. “What do you want to do?”
“Um… I’m gonna solve.”
“Ok. What’s your final accusation?”
“Mr. Green… in the study… with… the wrench!”
Tammy reached for the secret envelope and slid the cards out to check them, tossing them face-up on the game board when she saw the results.
“I won! I won! I wooooooon!” Tammy crowed, prancing around the living room.
“Beginner’s luck,” Dave chuckled.
“Need I remind you that I’m the one who came in last!” Maddie chimed in.
“I won! I won!” Tammy continued, until a moment later, she froze in place. “Mama? Jabar?” she asked to nobody in particular, her voice barely a whisper.
“Tammy? Is something wrong?” Maddie replied.
“No… no, Mama! Don’t go in there!” Tammy shouted.
“Tammy, what’s going on?” Dave asked, alarmed by her behavior.
Before they knew what was happening, Tammy let out a prolonged scream loud and high-pitched enough to wake the dead. Dave attempted to get to her to calm her down, but the noise was so loud that it felt like his ears were bleeding. By the time he and Maddie had their ears plugged tightly enough that they could focus, both were shocked to see that Tammy was floating in midair, her aura shimmering around her body. They both lunged forward to grab her, but Tammy disappeared before they could get to her.
“She’s gone!” Maddie gasped.
“What the hell?!” Dave cursed. “How did she teleport?! Tammy hasn’t even learned about her aura yet!”
“I don’t know, but she could be in great danger. Do you think you could track her?”
Dave quieted his mind and focused his aura energy, attempting to sense Tammy’s unique magical signature. As familiar as he had become with her over the last three weeks, this didn’t take him much time at all. After a few more seconds, he had pinpointed her exact location.
“She’s in Arizona!”
“Arizona? Isn’t that where Latonya and Jabar are vacationing?” Maddie asked.
“Yeah, and the way she was talking, it sounded like Tammy thinks they’re in trouble.”
“What are we waiting for? Let’s go!”
“No, we need to be smart,” said Dave. “I’ll go after Tammy, you stay here and contact Patricia. Maybe she’ll have some clue of what’s going on.”
“All right, but be careful, my love,” Maddie replied, kissing her husband on the cheek.
Tammy stood in front of the remains of the cabin her mom and brother had been staying in. Debris littered the ground and the smoke from the fire burned her nostrils. Looking at the windows, every one of them was broken with the glass lying several feet away on the ground. It was clear what had happened. The house had exploded, killing Latonya and Jabar in an instant.
Knowing her family could not have survived, Tammy fell to her knees. Soon, the tears began to stream down her face in a torrent that she could not have stopped if she had wanted to. Heartbroken, she wept and wept, not only for her family, but for the fact that she was now alone in the world. There was nobody left to love her, nobody that cared about her. Her mom’s parents were dead and her dad had never been in their lives. As her sorrow began to grow, she heard footsteps approaching behind her.
“Such a tragic sight,” came a soothing female voice.
Tammy spun around and saw a person standing about five yards away. She couldn’t tell who it was due to the long black hooded robe that covered the figure’s entire body. All she could see was the lower half of a feminine-looking face, primarily the full lips curled into a tiny smile.
“Who are you?” Tammy asked, her voice shaky.
“A friend, dear child,” the mysterious woman replied. “I sense that you are desperately in need of one right now.”
“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”
“A wise policy, but I am no stranger. In fact, I am a sorceress, just like you, Tammy.”
“So, you’re with the Masons!” Tammy said.
The woman shook her head. “No, I am no Mason, and that is something you should be thankful for.”
“What do you mean?”
Gesturing to the cabin, she continued, “Your mother and sibling, they were brought here by the Masons, yes?”
“This means that the Masons told them it would be safe for them here. Clearly, this was a lie. My dear girl, your family died because Masons failed to protect them. Doesn’t that make you sad? Doesn’t that make you… angry?”
Even though she wasn’t sure she believed this person, Tammy had to admit she was upset, so she nodded.
“I thought so,” said the woman. “I am sure you have been told that the Masons are the only sorcerers in America, but this is a falsehood. You may have even been told that the Masons are the ‘good guys’, but this is also a lie. No matter how righteous they pretend to be, the Masons will never be able to prevent something like this from happening. It will happen over and over again to other people… to other children’s mothers.”
“No! It can’t!”
“It will. It is part of the world we live in.”
Choking back her tears, Tammy replied, “No Mama should die like that. I won’t let them.”
The woman smiled at this. “You are saying you wish to make sure this happens to nobody else? How noble! But to do this, you will have to be a powerful sorceress. Tell me, Tammy, have you learned any powerful spells yet?”
“Well, we learned about gravity and levitating… and we’ve made water…”
“I see. Anything else?”
“No,” Tammy admitted.
“Oh, that simply will not do. A young sorceress with your power and potential should be learning as much as she can, as fast as she can. Tammy, the Masons are not your friends. They wish to hold you back, so that you never become too strong for them to be able to control. But we, the Illuminati, wish for you to become as strong as you are able. If you will come with me, I can make sure that happens. You will be strong enough to make sure no child’s mother has to die a senseless death ever again.”
Tammy hesitated, seeing the woman’s outstretched hand. She wasn’t sure what to believe, especially with this woman telling her that the Masons weren’t the good guys at all. There was no way of knowing what the truth was, but Tammy knew she couldn’t sit by and let this happen to anyone else. She wanted to become strong enough to stop it, and these Illuminati promised they could make it happen. Just as she was about to step forward and take the woman’s hand, she heard a voice from behind her.
She jerked her head around and saw Dave walking up. “Mr. Dave?”
“Tammy, what’s going on?” Dave asked.
She sniffled. “Mama and Jabar are dead. The cabin exploded. They’re gone…”
“I’m so sorry, Tammy,” said Dave. “Who is this?” he continued, gesturing to the hooded figure.
“Do not listen to him, my friend,” the woman said, her voice dripping with seduction and sweetness. “He is one of them.”
Tammy looked back and forth between the two for several seconds, still unsure of what to believe.
Seeing where this was going, Dave said, “Tammy, I don’t know who this person is, but if they’re telling you not to listen to someone they don’t even know, I don’t think that’s a person you should trust.”
“But… she said… it’s the Masons’ fault my family died. That they failed, and this will keep happening. She said… I can only be strong enough to stop that if I go with her, that the Masons will hold me back.”
Dave nodded. “She’s trying to make you think that there’s nobody else in the world who loves you and cares for you, and she couldn’t be more wrong.”
“You would do well to still your tongue, young man,” the woman hissed.
Without batting an eye, Dave continued, “You know how I know she’s wrong, Tammy? Because I love you. I care about you, and so does Maddie. What you’ve just lost is terrible, the worst thing a kid can go through, but you’re not alone. We’ll always be here for you.”
“He lies!” the woman snarled.
At this, Tammy glared at the mystery woman, her eyes aflame with intensity and resolve. Something clicked in her mind, allowing her to finally see the situation at hand for what it was. There were many things she didn’t know for sure, certainly about the Masons, but there was one thing she knew for absolute certain.
“Mr. Dave… is NOT a LIAR!” Tammy screamed. “Mr. Dave is a good guy! Mr. Dave would never hurt me, and Mr. Dave would never let anyone else hurt me! I don’t wanna go with you! GO AWAY!”
“Sounds like you have your answer,” Dave smirked, opening his arms as Tammy ran towards him.
The woman shook her head. “Foolish girl… you are coming with me, whether you want to or not.”
In an instant, the woman summoned up her aura and began to form a black mist that swirled around her body. Soon, the mist began to take the shape of an arm, which reached out and grabbed Tammy by the waist. The girl struggled, but it was no use, and a moment later, the arm started to drag her towards the hooded woman and a portal she had summoned behind her.
The woman snarled in pain as Dave winged her in the shoulder with an aura arrow. Her arm halted its movements at this, but still kept a firm grip on Tammy. Before the mystery woman could retaliate, Dave was on her, assailing her with his aura-enhanced fists. Her defenses held firm, however, allowing her to resuming pulling Tammy towards her. In desperation, Dave began pounding on the black arm trying to kidnap Tammy, but he could barely even scratch its surface. This was some form of sorcery he had never encountered before, even in his battle against a possessed Morgan le Fay. But just as all seemed hopeless and Tammy was pulled within reach of the woman, the unthinkable happened.
“No… no… NOOOOOOOO!!!”
Tammy shrieked at the top of her lungs, splitting the night air and forcing both Dave and her would-be captor to cover their ears. At the same time, Tammy’s aura flared up once again. As before, her power was fueled by uncontrollable grief and anguish; her aura was so strong that it began to burn the shadowy hand, forcing it to loosen its grip. Dave couldn’t believe how much power he was sensing from Tammy in that moment, but he soon regained his wits and made his move.
In one swift motion, Dave drew the katana hilt that Sato had given him and poured his favored element of wind into the weapon. Though the shadowy arm still had a hold on Tammy, it was clear that her sudden burst of power had weakened it significantly. He took a firm grip on his sword and swung with all his might, slicing the arm in two and causing the mysterious woman to recoil in pain. Dave took notice of this; whatever she was doing to summon this sort of sorcery, it seemed to put a different kind of strain on her body, especially when interrupted. Sensing an opportunity, he charged for her, intending to capture her alive, but the woman recovered in short order. She again defended with incredible skill, jumping away from Dave in an amazing display of agility and flexibility. Dave thought in the moment to reach for her cloak and at least unmask her before she escaped, but the woman vanished from sight the instant before he could lay a hand on her. When the dust settled, he and Tammy were alone.
“It’s ok, Tammy. She’s gone,” Dave said, wrapping the crying girl in his arms.
Dave turned to see his wife running up with Patricia in tow. He allowed Maddie to continue comforting Tammy while he stepped aside with Patricia to fill her in.
“The house exploded. Latonya and Jabar are dead,” Dave said quietly.
Patricia’s jaw dropped. “How… how did this happen?”
“No idea. One minute, we’re all playing Clue at home, the next, Tammy is mumbling about her mother and lets out a massive scream. Here’s the crazy part: somehow, Tammy teleported herself out here. I had to track her down.”
“My god… she must be stronger than we ever realized. For her to sense her mother being in danger and being able to teleport to that location? That’s unheard of for someone so young.”
“There’s more,” said Dave. “Someone tried to kidnap her. When I got here, Tammy was standing with a woman. I couldn’t see who it was; she wore a cloak and a hood. But this woman, whoever she is, was trying to convince Tammy that the Masons were the bad guys in all this and that she couldn’t trust anyone. It was only when the woman called me specifically a liar that Tammy refused to believe her.”
“Damn, that girl must really trust you,” Patricia replied. “So, what happened to this mystery woman?”
“When Tammy refused to go with her, the woman attacked and tried to take Tammy by force. I fought back against her, but she was using some kind of sorcery I’ve never seen before. I couldn’t make a dent in her defenses. Hell, I couldn’t even sense her powers; the only way I knew she was using sorcery was that I saw it with my own eyes. It was only due to Tammy that I managed to drive her off. Tammy got mad when she was being kidnapped and rocked this woman with a massive blast of aura energy. That weakened her enough that I managed to cut Tammy loose. I tried to capture this woman, but she got away.”
“That’s ok, Dave. You did good,” Patricia assured him. “I’ll get the MBI out here right away. These events have to be connected.”
A few minutes later, the scene was swarmed by Masonic investigators. They inspected the scene from top to bottom, using their sorcery to ensure they didn’t miss even the smallest bit of evidence. Leading it all was a muscular black man named Henry Ironside. Dave had seen him working the scene of the unicorn attack, but hadn’t had a chance to really watch him in action with Eyota taking the lead in that investigation. But here, Henry was in command of the situation. He strode up to Dave, scratching his bald head in frustration.
“No magic,” he said to Dave. “Not a single trace of sorcery.”
“How is that possible?” Dave asked. “Whoever this woman was, I fought against her for several minutes.”
“Oh, we found residue from what you described of Tammy’s actions over there, so don’t worry about that. I was referring to the cabin. No sorcery to speak of, but we did find several remote charges in the crawlspace.”
“Remote charges? What does that mean?”
Henry sighed. “It means Latonya and Jabar Orson were killed through non-magical means, which moves the case out of our jurisdiction.”
“Out of our jurisdiction?! What about the attempted kidnapping of a sorceress in training?!” Dave demanded.
“Clearly our case, but unless we can tie the two together, we’re gonna have to let go of the double homicide. In any case, my men are still processing the cabin. Would now be a good time for me to speak with Tammy?”
Though he was still upset about the jurisdiction issue, Dave nodded and led the way to a nearby rock where Maddie sat with Tammy on her lap. She had finally stopped crying, but the poor girl was still in emotional turmoil from the evening’s events. Dave knelt down on the ground to make sure he was eye-to-eye with Tammy.
“Tammy, this is Mr. Ironside. He needs to ask you a few questions about what you saw tonight. Would that be ok?”
She nodded, but still clung to Maddie. Henry followed Dave’s lead and knelt down in front of Tammy.
“Young lady, I am so sorry for what you’ve been through tonight,” he said. “Could you tell me what happened when you first got here?”
Tammy took a deep breath and took Henry through the events one-by-one. He was amazed that she had so much power to not only sense that her mother was in danger, but also to teleport directly to her. Still, he didn’t dwell on that, remembering the age-old advice of Joe Friday: just the facts. He took detailed notes on the woman that had spoken to Tammy, though there wasn’t much to go on, since nobody saw her face. But it was Dave’s additions that proved most intriguing, namely that he was unable to sense her use of sorcery at all during their skirmish.
“You’re saying she completely hid her power from you?” Henry asked.
“That’s right,” said Dave. “If I hadn’t seen it firsthand, I’d have never known she was using sorcery.”
“That’s bad,” Henry sighed. “I’ll check with Command-One to see if they picked up anything, but if not, this is the second use of top-tier sorcery in a month that we’ve been unable to detect. That’s the cornerstone of how we keep the peace between magical and non-magical folks here in the U.S. A dead unicorn is bad enough, but now these rogues are going after our own. We need to respond.” He then turned again to Tammy and asked, “Tammy, do you know of anybody that might want to hurt your mom and brother?”
She shook her head. “No, Mama’s a good person. Everybody liked her.”
“Hmm… is there anyone who would want to try and take you away from her? Could this woman you met have been someone you know?” Henry wondered.
Tammy thought for a second. “I don’t think so. She didn’t sound familiar. All she said was the Masons weren’t the good guys and that I needed to come with her to see the Illuminati.”
Henry breathed in sharply at hearing this. “Could you say that last part again, please?”
“She said I needed to come with her? To see the Illuminati? I don’t know who they are, but…”
“Thank you, Tammy. You’ve been very helpful,” Henry said with a smile.
Dave stood and motioned for Henry to join him off to the side. “You heard it, too?”
“I did,” Henry replied. “Illuminati. No way a child could make that up.”
“Patricia told me about them,” said Dave. “She said they’ve been extinct for over a century.”
“I suppose there’s a tiny chance that they’re back, but more likely it’s a group of copycats,” Henry mused. “We won’t know for sure until we investigate further, but regardless, I need to get the Security Council out here pronto. They’ll want to be involved in this one. I’ll let you know if they want to speak with you.”
“Thanks. I’d be more than willing to help.”
“Mr. Brighton? A word, please.”
Dave turned to see Patricia motioning to him, so he walked over to join her. She was clearly distraught and upset at the events of that evening, which Dave completely understood. Patricia was the one who recommended they come here, after all.
“How’re you holding up?” Dave asked her.
“I’ll manage,” Patricia replied. “Anyway, we need to talk about Tammy. Masonic Family Services will be here soon.”
Dave’s ears perked up at this. “Family Services?”
“Yes,” Patricia nodded. “They’ll be taking Tammy to a foster home.”
Dave first glanced behind him to ensure Maddie and Tammy couldn’t hear. “You can’t do that!” he hissed. “She just lost her entire family and-”
“And that’s exactly my point,” said Patricia. “She has lost her entire family. There aren’t any grandparents, no extended family, nobody. And while I encouraged her to do so, Latonya never made a will. As far as Family Services can see, Tammy is now a ward of the state and will be placed with an approved Masonic family.”
“Patricia, Tammy is on razor’s edge,” Dave pleaded. “When she lost it earlier tonight, her power was massive and uncontrolled. If you put her in some foster home with people she doesn’t know and doesn’t trust, it’ll only be a matter of time before that happens again. When it does, she might hurt somebody… maybe even herself.”
Patricia sighed. “My hands are tied, Dave. I’d volunteer to take her myself; Family Services would likely listen to me in that regard. But it’s not possible… with three adolescent sons, I’m stretched thin as it is. There’d be no way I could provide for Tammy on top of them.”
Dave’s stomach churned at the thought of what would happen to Tammy in foster care. Even if she was with sorcerers, they hadn’t developed any true connections with the girl beforehand, and doing so now would be next to impossible. Dave again glanced back, seeing his wife telling Tammy a story from her childhood while the poor girl still clung to Maddie.
Maddie, can you hear me?
Dave? You’re interrupting my story! It’s hard to concentrate on you while still speaking to Tammy.
Sorry, but it’s important. Family Services is on their way… they want to put Tammy into foster care.
WHAT?! They can’t! She’ll fall to pieces!
I know, but she has no family and Latonya didn’t leave a will. Patricia can’t even take her; she’s couldn’t make it work financially.
Then there’s only one thing to do, Dave.
For her? Absolutely.
“Dave? You ok?” Patricia asked, seeing him space out.
Shaking himself back to reality, Dave answered, “We’ll take her.”
Patricia blinked twice. “Come again?”
“Let us take her,” Dave repeated. “We’ve developed a good relationship with Tammy, Latonya trusted us with her, and Tammy even calls Maddie her Big Sister. We have savings built up, plus a spare bedroom. Please, let her stay with us. It’s her best chance to recover from all this, and I think you know that.”
Patricia was flabbergasted. She knew she liked Dave and Maddie, but she had never pegged them as selfless enough to want to take an orphan into their home on the fly like this. Still, she couldn’t deny Dave’s logic; Tammy’s only chance to thrive would be with someone she trusted.
“Wow… don’t you need to discuss this with your wife?” Patricia asked.
“Already did, and she’s in complete agreement. Long story, tell you later.”
“So, you’d be willing to let her stay with you? For how long?”
“I don’t recall giving a time limit,” Dave said simply.
“Dave, I’m speechless, but I don’t know that Family Services will go along with it. You and Maddie aren’t approved foster parents, after all.”
“We’ll jump through any and all hoops we have to if it means Tammy doesn’t have to sleep in a house with a bunch of people she doesn’t know.”
Seeing the fire in Dave’s eyes, Patricia nodded. “Ok, I’ll put in my recommendation for her to stay with you. I’m stickin’ my neck out for you two, so-”
“Thank you, Patricia. We won’t let you down,” Dave finished.
“All right, Masonic Family Services will be here in about five minutes. Go talk to Tammy, make sure this is what she wants, and we’ll go from there.”
Dave nodded and returned to where Maddie sat with Tammy. She seemed to be doing a bit better, but Dave knew her mind was still fragile. As Maddie continued to comfort her, Dave again knelt down to be face-to-face with Tammy.
“Tammy, there’s something really important I need to ask you, ok?”
“Do you want to continue staying with me and Maddie at our apartment?” Dave asked.
Tammy looked confused by the question. “Of course, I would! Why wouldn’t I?”
Dave nodded. “We just had to be sure it’s what you would want. You see, there aren’t any of your mother’s relatives still alive. If there were, you would go to live with them. But since there aren’t, the Masons have to decide where would be best for you to go, and Maddie and I think the best place for you to be is with us.”
“Thank you,” Tammy whispered. She was happy for a moment, but a big worry soon crept into her mind. “Um… how long can I stay?”
Maddie replied, “As far as Dave and I are concerned, forever. Tammy, there are many different kinds of families in this world. Yes, there is the family you are born to, but there is also the family you choose. In such families, people come to love each other through the time they spend together, even if they aren’t related. Dave and I want to be your family. We know we could never replace your mother, but we want to give you a home where you will be safe and loved.
“Believe me, Tammy, I know all about losing your family. My father was also killed in a terrible crime. I was so distraught after I lost him that I feared I might not recover. But I did recover, thanks to the right person being there for me at the right time. Do you know who that person was? It was Dave. He was there for me, comforting me, being a friend to me, and it was thanks to him that I’ve become the woman I am today. Now, we want the chance to do the same for you. If we do this, Tammy, we are in this for keeps. We will never grow tired of you or wish we hadn’t brought you into our home. In our home, you will always be safe, you will always be loved. That is our promise to you.”
At this, Tammy latched her arms around Maddie’s neck and squeezed her as tightly as she could. Both of their faces were soon wet with fresh tears, though these were not the mournful tears from before. Tammy eventually loosened her grip on Maddie and looked her in the eyes with one question burning in her mind.
“I know some things are gonna change, but… can I still call you Big Sis?”
“Of course!” Maddie replied, nearly choking up in the process. “You can call me Big Sis, Sissy, whatever you wish.”
“Thanks, Sissy. I like that one,” Tammy grinned. She then looked over her shoulder at Dave and said, “Mr. Dave, I’ve never had… a dad. Mama said he left before I was born. So, would it be ok if I call you… my dad?”
Dave leaned forward and planted a kiss on the child’s forehead. “If that’s what you want, I’d be honored to be your dad, Tammy.”
With a swiftness that surprised everyone, Tammy leapt from Maddie’s lap and wrapped her arms and legs around Dave. “Thanks… Daddy Dave.”