For the following few days Callie and Rus were cordial to each other, if nothing else. It seemed as though
they had reached a silent impasse. Callie was content with that for the time being. But eventually they would have to move
on to the next level, whatever that might be.
Ricky had returned back to school on a much lighter note. Rus was glad for that. He had seemed much happier
and a little less intimidating. Rus was sure that Callie had everything to do with his son’s change in behavior.
He’d been stewing over it every night for the last few nights. He’d prayed about it, but he hadn’t
been able to really commit the problem over to God. That troubled him a bit this morning as he prepared to go to work.
He was not yet ready to confront Callie about his son. He only knew he would have to sooner or later. Ricky
was his son. He didn’t need someone else running interference. He could handle Ricky and all the problems that
went along with him.
At that point in his thinking, Rus let out a staggering laugh. Who was he kidding. If he could handle Ricky,
why had he spent so much time lately praying about it.
Rus was beginning to think he was a failure as a father, that he didn’t know a thing about raising
kids. Yet there Callie sat, day after day, relating to one adolescent after another with skill, and intellect, compassion
and understanding. Her methods were effective, Rus had to admit.
He admired her work. She was even becoming a pleasure to work with. But that’s as far as he was willing
to take his thoughts. He would never let her know exactly how he felt. That would be a big mistake. One he was not willing
to make. Not in this lifetime.
Callie was having a slow day at the office. Only five teens had been brought in before lunch, each with their
own set of problems. Colby West was the one who had made the greatest impact on her.
He was a sixteen year old runaway. He was being placed in a foster home until his family could be found.
Colby had been living on the streets for almost six months and had done a pretty good job of taking care of himself.
He had claimed that both of his parents had died in a car wreck and that he had been shipped off to live
with his uncle. According to Colby his Uncle Mat was unfit to raise a child. Colby claimed that his uncle drank constantly
and that he beat the child on a regular basis.
Callie knew the uncle would be thoroughly investigated by social workers in the area where he lived. If Colby’s
allegations proved to be right, he would be placed in a foster home permanently or until an adoption could be arranged.
Callie’s heart cried out for the young boy. He was handsome and reminded Callie a lot of her son before
he had died. His hair was a light shade of brown, his eyes were a cobalt blue. He was tall and wiry, his gait carefree. With
talking to Colby, Callie knew he wasn’t a bad kid. He was just suffering a bad set of circumstances.
She hated the thought of this particular young boy to be placed in a foster home. She didn’t really
have anything against foster care under the right conditions. But sometimes, even foster homes could create their own set
of problems for an adolescent.
Instead of filing his information in her drawer, Callie set the folder on the corner of her desk, out of
the way. She was not through with Colby yet. She would pay him a visit tomorrow at the foster home they had placed him in.
She knew it was not professionally ethical to get emotionally involved with one’s patients. But Colby
West struck a cord in Callie that could not be ignored. It was the shadow of hopelessness that beckoned across his face. Like
it or not, she was already to deeply involved. In just one day, a boy swept into her life and she was breaking all the rules.
Disturbed by her thoughts, Callie stood straight from her chair with a large stack of papers in her arms.
When she turned to head to the photocopier, someone rushed by her, haphazardly brushing against her arm and jostling her roughly.
The pile of paperwork scattered across the floor.
When Callie glanced up at him, all she could see was the back of his head. She gleaned nothing but the color
of his hair and the clothes that he was wearing. He had sandy blond hair. It was cut straight across the back of his collar.
His shirt and pants looked like standard police attire.
She wanted to go after the man and tell him how rude he’d been not to apologize for running into her.
But she ignored it and let it go.
As she was stooped over picking up the papers, someone came to her side and began to help her. It was Ricky,
she noted when she glanced up from her task. They smiled a silent greeting to one other and before she knew it Rus was kneeling
down beside her as well picking up sheets of paper.
Their eyes met briefly. Each of them knew the importance of remaining aloof with one another. They were learning
to accept each other’s presence in their lives though they weren’t ready to move beyond that point. Callie could
accept that, and frankly, was glad for it.
It made her job a lot easier.
At last all the paper’s had been picked up from the floor, but they were all in a disorganized jumble.
This frustrated Callie to no end. She would have to spend the rest of her afternoon reorganizing everything.
As Rus handed her the last stack of papers he had extracted from the floor, his hand had accidentally brushed
Callie’s. A slight tingle forced its way up his arm. Quickly he pulled his hand back, shoving it deep in the pocket
of his slacks.
Callie didn’t miss anything. She eyed him questioningly, then turned away from him and began her tasks
of rearranging the stack of papers.
Rus could see her hands were shaking. He turned away from her trying to ignore Callie. But it was of no use.
Just the scent of her remained with him, but it was a scent he found intoxicating. It was a fresh scent that smelled of wild
strawberries basking in the sun.
Rus now hovered behind Callie as he usually did. Ricky was beside her and she was giving him some instructions
for a task she needed completed. He noted how compatible they were together. Even today he noticed that Ricky was not wearing
his standard clothing. His black leather jacket was gone. He still wore his biker boots, but instead of the chains and black
jeans, he was wearing just a regular pair of blue jeans. Even his hair was neatly combed back off his forehead. He looked
respectable for once and Rus’s gaze lingered longer than he would have wanted it to.
He was slowly coming to accept the fact that Callie was now an integral part of his son’s life. He
was grateful for it. He no longer had to pray about it. But that didn’t mean he was ready to run out and buy a wedding
No, he was far from that. To him, Callie was nothing more than a business associate, a friend, a companion.
He was willing to give her that much. He no longer blamed her for this crummy desk job. But even that was now growing on him.
It wasn’t as bad as he had originally thought it would be.
It seemed to hold its own challenges. Rus, also had to admit, he was learning a lot from Callie. She was
teaching him to have patience and understanding. Those were the things he’d forgotten how to do. Those were the first
things you were taught in the academy. And those were the first things he’d pushed out of his mind when he’d been
told he would no longer be out on the streets tracking down criminals.
Instead he’d been filled with a silent rage. He’d overacted, that much he knew. And even though
he now accepted fate as it was, his mind still lingered over the events that had led him to where he was right now.
It was only yesterday that the Captain had brought Rus into his office to discuss the shooting. The lab results
were finally ready and Captain Lee had informed him of the worst. The gun that had been used to shoot Rus was the same gun
that had been seized in a raid only a few months earlier.
The two police officers that had made the arrest were being investigated.
This put Rus on edge. It made him nervous. He knew both Joe Hines and David Parker like they were his own
brothers. Of all the men on the force, the two of them had been his closest friends. Rus hated the fact that either one of
them could have been responsible for his injuries.
Rus was solemn. Callie watch the play of emotions cross the creases of his face. His eyes darkened and a
frown appeared at the edges of his mouth.
Callie stared at Rus intently, trying to gauge his reactions. And Ricky watched her. He glanced from his
father to Callie and from Callie to his father. He was astute. He knew what was going on immediately. And he liked it. For
the first time in his life, he liked what he saw. It was the first thing to give him hope, not only for himself, but for his
He grinned mischievously. "Um . . . Ms. Martin," Ricky began, looking away for a moment, as a slight blush
crept over his features. Suddenly he was shy. "Ms. Martin," he said again. "I would like to invite you over for dinner on
Callie wasn’t sure what to say. Her first thoughts were of Rus. She knew he would not be estatic about
sharing the evening with her. "Ricky, I think you might want to discuss this with your dad first. He may have other plans."
Ricky merely blew her off. "Na, my dad never makes plans. He just sits at home doing nothing. I will do the
cooking and everything so he won’t have to do anything."
Callie smiled. "Do you always do the cooking?"
Ricky was ashamed and embarrassed. "No. To be honest with you, I’ve never helped my dad much. I’ve
been too busy trying to make his life miserable."
"Have you succeeded?"
Callie held her breath waiting for Ricky’s reply. "I would have to say yes."
"Why was it so important to make your dad’s life miserable?" Callie asked the question with just the
Ricky shot her a glance but it was tender. "I hated him," he admitted. "I felt he was responsible for sending
my mother away."
"And now?" Callie asked.
"Now I realize my mother left because she wanted to. It had nothing to do with my old man. She just didn’t
care about us anymore."
Callie could relate all to well to what Ricky was saying. Hadn’t the exact same thing happened to her
and to Johnathan. It was a painful experience. It had taken a lot of praying about it before Callie could finally come to
terms with it. Sometimes she wasn’t sure that she were fully recovered from the encounter.
Suddenly she wondered about Ricky. She wondered if he were a Christian and if he had been saved. She didn’t
really understand why the thought had suddenly flitted into her mind. Since it had, though, she took the time to pray about
it. When she was done, Ricky was staring at her. There was a bleak look in his eyes. It disturbed her.
"Ricky," she exclaimed promptly, "is anything wrong?"
At first there was fear, then shame that crossed
his features. "What were you doing? Why did you have your eyes closed while I was talking to you. Sometimes I find my dad
doing the same thing. He’ll be kneeling beside the bed . . ." Ricky spoke with an air of bewilderment as if none of
this made any sense to him.
Callie was taken aback. "I was praying," she said simply. "Hasn’t your father ever taught you to pray?"
Ricky had to admit that he’d never given his father the opportunity. It was all his fault for not trying
Suddenly Callie was overwhelmed with emotions. She had a good feeling about Ricky. She had a good feeling
about Rus too. More than anything she wanted to have dinner with Ricky and his father. Without hesitation she agreed to meet
the two of them at eight on Friday night. Already she was planning what to wear. The evening was bound to be special. She
wanted to look her best. For Ricky and his dad.