Chapter 18

Cass’s sleep was restless to say the least last night.  First she had fallen asleep on the swing and dreamed of the night her daughter was conceived.  Kevin had woke her from the nightmare as she called it.  Running upstairs, she fell on her bed and cried herself to sleep.  This day was a complete bust as far as she was concerned too.  She and Gary had spent the entire morning trying to get the tractor running.  Beyond buying a new tractor, which she couldn’t afford, she was more than upset.  A subsequent argument that afternoon between her and Gary hadn’t helped.  He was urging her to go to Kevin for help.

Gary watched her storm off to one of the stalls as she began to give him a speech about self-sufficiency, not needing a man.

Cass had saddled the horse and was ready to ride.  She pushed her mount closer to Gary.  “I will never ask that man for anything.  The minute I do, he will own me.  Nobody has or ever will.”  Smacking the horse on the flanks she rode out of the barn with her red hair flying behind her.

Gary stood shaking his head.  Sighing loudly, he turned to the opposite barn door.  “You sure are nosey Kevin.  Abe told me you like to hide and eavesdrop.”

Kevin came from behind the door with his hands jammed in his back pockets.  He rocked back and forth on his feet.  “I was just coming to tell her that the doctor called.  They put a rush on Annie’s molds and they’re ready.  I was wondering if Cass wanted to keep Annie out of school tomorrow and go get them.”

Gary began to laugh at him.  “Oh I see.  Then why didn’t you just step out of the shadows there and ask her yourself?”

Okay, I’m busted and he isn’t going to let it go.  “It’s that bad, isn’t it?”  Kevin crossed the space between them.

“No Kevin, it’s worse.  The damn bank called again today for a mortgage payment.  I didn’t have the heart to slap that on her after fighting with this piece of crap all day."  A wrench was tossed on the seat of the beat up piece of equipment.

“How the hell did you guys make it before?”  Kevin peered at the machine almost as to will it to work once again.

Gary could see now why Cass was so angry with Kevin.  Kevin was incredibly naive about how others lived.  “Because Kevin we weren’t under a mountain of medical debt.  Abe was alive and he helped out too.”

A grim expression settled on Kevin’s face.  Gary found it hard to read, was it regret or responsibility that he saw there.

“I paid the hospital bill off,” Kevin murmured.

Gary shook his head, “Part of it Kevin, part of it.  I have never asked about what went down between you and my sister and I never will.”  Gary’s anger towards Kevin increased at the remark.  He had paid a pittance as compared to what Cass had paid.  The piddly amount that he had paid could never make up for all of the missed birthdays, father’s days, and Christmases that had been missed.  Yes his sister was responsible for that but only because she was trying to protect Annie from further hurt.  “Cass has you nailed to a T Richardson.  I’m leaving tomorrow, I would suggest that you and your friends do the same thing.  By staying here you are hurting Cass and Annie even more.”

Grabbing Gary quickly he yelled, “YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO JUDGE ME!”

The horses kicked up a fuss in the barn and even the bull came to the paddock door to check out the loud noise.

Gary grabbed onto Kevin wrists and yanked them off of his shirt.  “Then get off your sympathy, whoa is me act, I’ve been denied my daughter and do something about it.” 

“I tried dammit, she won’t let me.  I asked her about the bills and what else she owes.  She won’t tell me a damn thing!”  Kevin glared back at him.

“You’re good at eavesdropping, why don’t you try snooping?  I’m going to take a shower and go to town.”  Gary strolled out of the barn, hoping that Kevin was at least intelligent enough to take a hint.  “Sorry Cass,” he whispered as he looked up at the well-worn path she had rode out on.  The path that she always took when she was upset and needed to think her thoughts out and talk to someone.  “I need a life, I don’t want this life anymore.  You need help if you want to stay here.  Annie needs him too, you just don’t want to deal with it.”

Gary did as he said he would.  Showering quickly, he came down the stairs to kitchen full of people. 

“Hey, where are you going?”  Nick asked.

“I’m going in town, I’m going to get an early dinner and grab a few beers.  Do you want to join me?”  Gary figured Nick would be some company and maybe he could learn a little more about Kevin too.  What kind of man he really was.

“Can I go?”  Howie chimed in, sick of being stuck on the ranch.

“Anybody can go if they want to,” Gary answered and issued his invitation.  Turning slightly to Kevin to see what the reaction would be.  “Kevin?”

“No thanks, Annie will be home in a few.  I’d like to spend some time with her.”  Kevin glanced to his bandmates.  The look was recognized after many years of them being together.  Kevin wanted and needed some privacy.

“I think I’ll go too,” Brian walked out of the kitchen.

Gary saw that Alex wasn’t budging, “Alex?”  

“I think I’ll stay here,” he casually glanced at Kevin.  Kevin’s expression was nondescript. 

Chill Kev, he kept saying to himself.  He just thinks that I might do something stupid with Annie.  He doesn’t suspect or know a thing.

“Okay we’re off,” Gary shook his head as he left the kitchen.

A.J. sat looking at Kevin.  The man hadn’t budge and was not showing one iota of emotion.  “What the hell are you up too?”

“I’m not going to drink J,” Kevin flipped the page of the magazine.

“I know that, I told you, you aren’t a drunk,” A.J. watched Kevin’s head turn as he listened for the sound of the engine to disappear.

Kevin could see A.J. would be watching him like a hawk if he felt he had the need to.  “I’m going to go take a snooze.”  Kevin slid the chair out.  Rolling up the magazine, he tucked it under his arm. 

“What are you reading?”  A.J. glanced to the discreetly rolled magazine.

“Oh this,” he unrolled and held it up.

“Oh, can I read it since you’re going to go lay down?”  Alex liked the cover.  Rods and Chicks scrawled on the cover.

Kevin laughed in his head, show him a picture of a chick with a set jugs and he’s all over it.  “Sure J,” Kevin handed over the magazine.  Looking back over his shoulder as he exited the room; satisfied that Alex would be busy for a while.

Making his way upstairs, he walked a little softer than normal down the hall to Cass’s office.  It had been some time since he had been in here, just over five years to be exact.  Nothing had really changed except the addition of a computer.  He looked at it, searched for the button to turn it on.  He waited for it to come to life as he began pulling drawers open on the desk. 

Yanking on the bottom drawer, it was locked.  “Knowing you, you haven’t changed one bit.”  Kevin spoke to himself as he searched for something to jimmy the drawer open.  Pulling open the center drawer, he searched and came up with a key.  “I hope so,” he whispered as he slipped the key in the lock and turned it.  The drawer pulled open.  “Oh well,” he grinned.

Rifling through the folders everything was neatly labeled and in alphabetical order.  “Very nice filing system Cass.”  Grabbing the folder marked Annie, he placed in front of him.  He heard the computer chime.  Glancing to it, he saw that it had barely nothing on the screen.

Flipping open the folder he began reading it.  His face soured at the turn of each page.  Then his heart began to flutter.  The amount of money that Cass had paid would have been astronomical for any normal working-man.  “Jesus!” as he leaned back in the chair.  Grabbing a pencil and paper he began writing figures and trying to formulate a plan.  He then remembered that Gary had said the bank had called. 

Going back to the desk, he pulled every file out and wrote the numbers down.  By now he was getting a headache and wasn’t very aware of much but the mind boggling numbers.

“What the fuck are you doing?” A.J. stood just inside the office.

Kevin glanced up to Alex.  “Mind your own business Bone.”

A.J. walked to the desk and pulled the tablet from the center of the desk.

Kevin’s hand shot out and made a grab for it.  “Bone, I mean it.  Give me that back and go downstairs.”

“Holy shit Kev, she’s in debt up to her ass,” Alex whispered as he looked at Kevin’s notes.

“No shit Sherlock,” Kevin sighed as he placed his head in his hand.  Rubbing his forehead, he again requested the table back.  “A.J. I don’t have a lot of time to get this done.  Please…”

A.J. handed the pad of paper back to him.  “What are you going to do?”  Coming around the desk to join Kevin.  He checked out Cass’s computer.  It wasn’t state of the art but it was functional.

“I’m going to pick up the phone and have some money transferred into her account.  Then I’m going to pick up the phone again, and again, until I can pay these off or get caught doing this.”  Kevin almost groaned as he checked his watch.  He had less than two hours before Annie came home.  When Annie came home, Cass would be back.

“Phone huh?”  A.J. began to muscle his way to the front of the computer.

“Bone I don’t have time for you to play games now,” Kevin whined becoming increasingly annoyed with him.

“Not games, bills dude,” A.J. poked the keyboard a couple of times and they watched.

“Shit!”  Kevin grinned as they watched Cass’s checking account pop up on the screen.  “How the hell did you do that?”  Kevin was chuckling at the information.

“Piece of cake, where’s your bank and what’s your e mail?”  A.J. began pushing Kevin out of the chair.

Kevin’s face puckered at the request. 

A.J. laughed, “I’ll keep it a secret.”

“Why?”  Kevin prompted.

“If your bank is online we can wire the money directly into her account.  She won’t know where it came from.”  A.J. tapped the paper that held Kevin’s figures.  “We can pay these too.”

“You can do that?”  Kevin dug into his wallet for his e mail address.  He didn’t use it much so he had to write it down.  Handing the piece of paper to A.J. he smirked, “Don’t be stealing my money J.”

“Yeah right Kev, like you have any left after the divorce anyway,” A.J. did not like distrust more than anything.

“Sorry,” Kevin mumbled.  He watched A.J. click a few keys and his balance dropped dramatically. 

A.J. chuckled as Kevin winced.  “Kids are expensive.”

“I see that,” Kevin frowned.

Quickly they moved down the list once the money was in Cass’s account.  They hastily made electronic fund transfers to anyone that would take it.  Hitting a few snags along the way that A.J. managed to fix.  The bills that wouldn’t take the transfer were put on a credit card that Kevin had been holding onto.  Lucky for him he wasn’t carrying a balance.

A.J. shut the computer down as Kevin put everything in it’s proper place.  Smiling as he locked the drawer.  “An hour to spare to Bone.”

“Cass doesn’t know that you did that so I want to see how you’re going to explain this to her.”  A.J. was grinning his ass off.

“You my friend can have a front row seat, tomorrow.  We are going to get Annie’s hearing aids and do some shopping for my little girl.” Kevin hugged him tightly.  “Thanks Bone, I couldn’t have done it without you.”

“You’re welcome Kevin,” A.J. returned.  A.J. sniffled and waited.

“Ah dude, don’t make me cry,” Kevin began to fight back the tears.

Kevin pushed A.J. away.  Grabbing him by the shoulders he looked him in the eyes.  A.J.’s laughter was heard next.

“You really suck Bone,” Kevin stomped out of the office.

The laughter became louder as A.J. tormented the retreating figure down the hall a little more with a mock sob.  “I’ll keep an eye on Annie.  I don’t think it’s wise to wait until to- morrow to tell Cass.  You had better tell her now!  Go find her, it’s not nice to fight around children.”






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