Author's Note: Okay, first, thank you to everyone reading, reviewing, favoriting and alerting our stories. We truly appreciate your comments.
Second, we want to offer you a quick rundown of activities and threads that are ongoing at the forum:
First, we have opened our next challenge to participants. "The Future Fic Challenge" thread is open on Chit Chat on Author's Corner forum. Rules and explanation of the challenge are there as well. In short, choose one character and get assigned a random secondary character to tell a story set in the year 2022. It looks like a lot of fun.
We've also introduced a "Help Wanted" thread to the forum for authors that are looking for assistance with various writing complications that come up. Perhaps you want someone to bounce ideas with, or maybe you need a beta….this is the place to post an ad for what you are looking for. We've also reopened the "Chat Chat Among the Authors" thread to discuss spoilers or ask questions. The "Getting to Know YOU…Tell us about yourself" thread is open. Swing by there to introduce yourself whether you are a reader or an author. We'd love to meet you.
And lastly don't forget our "Pay It forward Review Incentive Program" From now until the end of April, anyone that reviews a Hotch related story is eligible to win an gift card. Details found on thread at forum.
This week's author of the week is the talented RockHotch31. Please swing by that thread to ask questions about their writing and/or stories. In addition, there are several other threads open for comment. We hope to see each of you there.
This story was written for Leila Grant. Happy Birthday, Leila!
The Story of the Thunderstorm
Stiffening as a clap of thunder shook the two story house, Henry LaMontagne Jareau bit his lip worriedly, cracking his eyelids to peek out from beneath the covers on the bottom bunk of the bed he had claimed as his own. Sniffling as the sky lit up outside, he tried to make out the familiar shape of the tree outside the window. Instead, all he spotted were scary looking shadows looking like creepy arms flowing across the hardwood floors reaching out to him.
"Henry?" Jack Hotchner yawned sleepily, hanging his head over the top bunk and peering down at the huddled mass in the center of the bed, "You okay? I heard you flippin' and floppin like a fish down there."
"Don't like thunderstorms," Henry whispered back, burrowing under the covers as another clap of thunder rocked the house.
Climbing over the railing and down the wooden ladder until his bare feet touched the floor, Jack replied, "It's okay, it's just a storm. Just a little light show and noise, Henry. I promise," he vowed solemnly.
"Don't like 'em," Henry declared, his reply muffled by the covers he'd pulled over his face. Man, he'd never noticed how creepy Jack's room was before. How had he missed that?
"Want me to go get Daddy?" Jack offered, his soft voice kind in the blackness of the bedroom. "Sometimes when I can't sleep he makes me cocoa. I bet he'd make you some, too," he suggested, sitting on the edge of the bed.
Shaking his head, Henry burrowed into the mattress as lightening flashed across the sky again. "Nah, I'm s'posed to be a big boy," he whispered, blinking back huge crocodile tears. "Like you."
"You are a big boy," Jack consoled the younger boy gently. "Daddy told you so when he tucked us in. I heard 'im say it," he murmured, tucking the blanket around Henry's small shoulders.
"My real dad used to call me a wimp," Henry confided huskily, his eyes burning and bottom lip quivering. "He'd get mad when I came to get in bed with him and Mommy," he whispered nervously. "He always said that big boys didn't act like sissy cry babies."
Your real dad was a jerk, Jack thought to himself as he watched Henry's face clench. He'd never say it out loud, especially to Henry, but he couldn't help thinking that Henry was lucky to find him and his dad. He needed them. "My dad won't get mad at you," Jack said confidently, completely secure in his faith for his dad. "He says that it takes a brave person to admit that they're scared of something."
"I love your dad," Henry whispered as he nodded, wiping his nose as rain pelted heavily against the window, remembering the bear hug and kiss goodnight he'd received earlier from the tall man his mom had married.
"He's your dad now, too, silly," Jack said as he grinned, poking Henry in the ribs and earning a giggle. "We're brothers now, 'member?" he reminded the younger boy, silently seething at Henry's real dad. "Your mom is my new mom and my dad is your new dad."
"Yeah." Henry nodded, wincing as thunder boomed outside. "I like Uncle Aaron being my daddy," he whispered. "He don't yell."
"Nope," Jack agreed. "You don't hafta be scared to go to him, Henry. He's not like your real daddy," he assured the shivering boy beside him.
"Still," Henry added as he shook his head. "I don't wanna be a wussy."
"Okay." Jack nodded, the ways of boys ingrained in him. "Want me to sleep with you?" he offered, tilting his head to look at his new little brother. "I can tell you a story."
Nodding quickly, Henry scooted to one side of the twin bunk as Jack slid beneath the Toy Story comforter. Whimpering as a branch hit the window, he buried his face against Jack's shoulder.
"It's okay," Jack soothed, wrapping one short arm around the cowering boy. "Hey, you wanna know what my angel Mommy told me 'bout storms b'fore she went up to Heaven?"
"Yeah," Henry whispered as he nodded against his brother's warm arm. "Tell me."
"Well, she said that I shouldn't be afraid of storms because that sound we hear when the thunder booms? That's just two dragons rough-housin' in the heavens. The rain, well, that's just drops of their sweat."
"And the lightening? What's that, Jack?" Henry asked eagerly, his little voice curious.
"Their breath of fire, silly." Jack grinned. "It looks like lightening down here on Earth. Up in the heavens, though….pure fire. Cool, huh?"
"Soooo coooool," Henry breathed, his eyes rounded in amazement. "My mommy never tells neat stories like that! Is it all true?" he asked, turning toward Jack in the bed, his wide eyes shining with wonder.
"It's what my angel Mommy told me." Jack shrugged, turning his head to stare at Jack. "Do you feel better now?" he asked as the storm began to lighten up outside.
"Uh huh." Henry nodded, his little body relaxing as he heard Jack breathing beside him. Sharing a room wasn't so bad, he thought. He had company when the scaries crept into the room now.
"Good." Jack grinned in the darkness. "It's our job to keep each other safe, Henry. It's what brothers do," he said with the arrogance only a seven year old could perfect. "It's what family does."
Yawning, Henry's eyes drifted closed, safe in the knowledge that his new big brother would look out for him. "I like being in this family," he said sleepily.
"Me, too." Jack nodded, curling around the smaller boy protectively.
Outside the partially open bedroom door, Aaron Hotchner smiled as Jack and Henry drifted off to sleep, exceedingly proud of both his boys. Offering a silent thank you to Haley for bringing both his children peace, he padded back to the master bedroom, content that one very special angel watched over them tonight.