Richie's Surprise - Chapter 19

Duncan stretched as he watched his son go off to bed. God, but he was tired. He looked forward to some alone time with Tessa. He sauntered into their room and just watched for a moment. He drank in how lovely she looked, even in the t-shirt and sweats she was wearing. Tessa looked up at him and smiled.

"Hi luv, everything ok?" she questioned.

"Yeah, all seems right with the world. The kids are in bed, the house is locked up. Conner is here. And you my lovely are right here." he said as he came up behind her on the bed and put his arms around her. They rocked a little, just enjoying each other.

Little did Duncan know, not all his children were in bed. Richie had gone into the other bathroom to take a shower. He heard them talking. He wasn't sure if his dad knew you could here every word through the vent in the bathroom. Mostly it was stuff Richie didn't want to hear. He would usually think, "OMG - that is so gross, hearing your parents have sex or talk about it." Ugh, it was the last thing he would want to hear. He would usually take care of his needs or turn the shower on and beat feet out of there. But tonight, he was hoping to hear is dad's plan for Sonnier. He wasn't stupid, he knew his dad had a plan.

"You have a plan?" asked Tessa.

Duncan nodded his head. "I'm going to take the kids to school tomorrow. While they're in school, Conner and I are going to issue a challenge to Sonnier for tomorrow at the fountain in Bartlett Park. It's a little used place, no one will know and the kids will be in school. I know Richie wants to be there, but I just want to make sure he's safe. Sonnier is a slippery eel, he would use Richie against us if he could."

Richie smiled to himself. "So, that's how it's going to be, huh." he thought to himself. He knew he could ditch school and wait at the park. The park wasn't too far from the school. He relaxed and turned on the water for the shower. He was going to be there come hell or high water and he knew it was going to be hell. Once his father found him at the park, he knew he'd be in for the whipping of his life. But, he thought it was worth it to part of Sonnier's demise. Richie turned off the water and he heard those sounds, the sounds of his parents that no kid wants to hear or know about. He quickly dried off and headed downstairs to his room.

The next morning, Tessa was up making pancakes. The kids really loved them and since it was AJ's first day of school, she wanted to make it special. The first one to arrive for breakfast was Conner.

"Morning, me lass. Coffee?" he questioned, almost begging.

Tessa laughed, "Of course I have coffee for you. I know you don't become human until you've had a least two cups. Just like Duncan, must run in the family."

Conner just growled as he gratefully accepted a mug of coffee from her. "Smart ass…."

Tessa laughed again, she shook her finger at him, "Language! This early in the morning? The children will hear you." she admonished with her eyes sparkling.

Conner just grumbled under his breath.

Duncan was the next to appear. Tessa just held out a mug of coffee for him. "Morning." she said.

"Aye, morning. You are a goddess." he said as he kissed her and took the coffee all at once.

Tessa laughed. "Oh you, sit down for breakfast." she said playfully pushing him away.

They all looked up as AJ came in the room.

"Baby, why aren't you dressed?" asked Tessa concerned.

"Mama, my tummy hurts, I don't think I can go to school." AJ whined.

Tessa smiled as she pulled AJ into a hug. She ran her hand down the back of AJ's head. "You are just nervous, ma petite. It will be fine, go put on your uniform."

AJ looked down. She didn't budge.

Tessa took her chin, "Please, obey. You will be fine. If you still feel very sick at school, you will go to the nurse and have them call me, Yes?"

"Mama, please don't make me go." she almost whispered.

Tessa hugged her and looked over AJ's head at Duncan. "Say something," she mouthed.

Duncan nodded his head. "Allyson Joy?" he questioned.

AJ turned right away, "Yes, Papi?" she asked.

"Obey your mother darlin'. Go get ready for school." he said sternly.

"But Papi," she started.

Duncan motioned for Tessa to release her. He quickly pulled her so she was standing between his legs facing him. He had his hands on her arms. "Darlin' everything is going to be fine. You must go get ready for school or we're going to be late."

"Please Papi," she started again.

Duncan blew out an exasperated breath,"Allyson, you are going to be a very unhappy little girl if you do not do as I say right this minute. Do you understand, me?"

AJ realized immediately what Duncan was talking about and she didn't want to sit at school with a sore bottom. "Yes, Papi."

Duncan drew her into a hug, "That's my good girl. Go on now." he said as he turned her around and gave her a soft swat to her bottom.

AJ reluctantly left the arms of her papi and went to get dressed. She passed Richie in the hallway.

"Hi AJ," he said cheerfully.

"Mornin'" she said sadly.

Richie frowned. "What's up? Why are you sad?"

"I don't want to go, but Papi is going to spank me if I don't get dressed."

Richie grinned. "Listen girl, been there, done that and got the t-shirt. It sucks sitting in school with a sore ass, just do what he says."

AJ eyed her brother, "I know, I know, I'm going."

Richie smiled and shook his head. He was in a great mood. He knew the plan and nobody knew that he knew the plan. He was a happy camper.

"Morning, mom, dad, Uncle Conner." he said cheerfully as he took his seat at the table.

"Richie," Tessa started.

"Ma'am?" he asked.

Tessa stopped for a moment. Richie never said "ma'am" unless he was in trouble and he still had to be reminded. That was really weird. "Honey, do you want pancakes or cereal?" she asked.

"Oh wow mom, what's the special occasion? We don't usually get pancakes during the week?" he asked.

"AJ's first day, honey, just trying to make it a little better."

"Awesome!" he said accepting the plate from her.

Tessa handed him the plate and looked at Duncan over his head. She and Duncan exchanged worried glances.

AJ came back in the room dressed in her uniform.

"My you look lovely," said Tessa.

"I look stupid. I hate this uniform." grumbled AJ.

Tessa sighed, where was her sweet little girl?

"Allyson, your about to hit 2 on a 3 count." Duncan warned.

Allyson looked at her father quickly, she was just so scared and frustrated. She was about to lose it. She looked at Tessa, "Sorry mama, thank you for the compliment."

Tessa looked at her and smiled, "All forgiven luv. Do you want pancakes or cereal?"

AJ sighed, "May I be excused, I don't think I can eat."

Duncan broke in. He'd had enough. "Allyson sit down in that chair, tell your mother what your going to eat and then eat what is put in front of you. Understand?"

AJ sighed again, "Yes sir," she whispered. She looked at Tessa, "Pancakes, please."

Tessa smiled and kissed the top of her head, "It's going to fine." she said.

A few minutes later, Richie looked at the clock. "Da, we're going to be late if we don't leave."

Duncan looked up surprised, Richie didn't usually call him "Da" unless he wanted something or was feeling especially affectionate. Something was definitely up, but what? "True, true, we need to leave. Come on AJ, let's finish up, lass."

AJ let out a breath. She knew she wasn't in trouble anymore, Papi was back to calling her AJ.

AJ finished quickly. Duncan excused her so she could go grab her backpack and brush her teeth. "Richie, teeth brushed?" he asked.

"Yes sir."

Duncan's eyebrows went up. "Yes sir?" what was up with his son. He glanced at the clock, they had 20 minutes to get to school and they were going to need every one of them. "AJ, let's go!" he bellowed.

"Coming Papi," she called. AJ flew into the kitchen and gave her mama and her uncle a hug and a kiss before she flew out the door.

"It will be good." Tessa called after her.

Conner excused himself, "Gotta go with the lad." he said as he hurried out the door.

"Be safe!" called Tessa biting her lip. She had a niggling feeling something wasn't right. She wasn't worried about Duncan and Conner, she felt in her heart they would be alright. However, something wasn't quite right, but she couldn't put her finger on it. She sighed to herself as she busied herself cleaning up the kitchen and headed down to her studio to sculpt. She soon lost herself in her most recent work of art.

Richie chatted non-stop on the way to school. Duncan grinned, he usually only got grunts from Richie this early in the morning. Duncan dropped Richie off first, "Be here as soon as school's out son. I don't wanna be waiting on ya."

"Sure dad," Richie said as he grabbed his backpack and slammed the car door.

Duncan growled, "Stop slamming the door."

Richie grinned sheepishly, "Sorry dad," he said as he turned to run into the building.

Duncan then pulled across the street to AJ's school. "Come darlin'" he said as he held his hand out for her.

AJ put her very small hand in his large one and headed for school. She thought for sure she was going to throw up. She was so nervous. She held his hand tightly and looked up at him, "Please Papi, I don't feel good."

Duncan sighed, he stopped in front of the school and knelt down. "AJ, baby, everyone is nervous in a new place. Your foster father can't get to you here. Make sure you aren't alone. Even at recess, stay near the teacher until I tell you different."

AJ layed her head on his shoulder. "It's not HIM, I'm scared of. What if the other kids don't like me?"

Duncan laughed, "Oh is that, now? Well, your family loves you and so will everyone else. Try for me? Ok?"

AJ nodded as Duncan walked into the school and handed her off to her teacher. He walked back to the car and Conner.

"Nervous a bit?" asked Conner.

"Yeah, she's nervous. Poor thing, she's had so much go on in her life in the last few days, it must be overwhelming for a little lass."

Conner smiled, "I noticed you were non too easy on her lad. Ease up a bit now and again."

Duncan snorted, "As if my Da ever did with me or you for that matter."

"Don't be sassing me boy. I still have the right to take you in hand if need be."

Duncan grinned, "I'd like to see that old man."

"Enough you young pup, let's get on with it." Conner retorted.

The two got into Duncan's car and headed toward Sonnier's house. The mood had gone from jolly to quite tense. Duncan was planning the moves out in his head. He had no thought that his son was headed to the park at that exact moment. Duncan and Conner arrived at the Sonnier house.

Duncan approached the door and announced himself, "I am Duncan MacCloud of the Clan MacCloud and I challenge you. There can only be one."

Sonnier opened the door, as if he'd been expecting Duncan. "Where and when MacCloud?"

"Fountain. Bartlett Park. One hour." said Duncan as he turned away, he heard.

"Ah, there can only be one, mon amie and it shall not be you."

Duncan smiled to himself, "It may not be me, but neither shall it be you." he thought.