Blake doesn’t know it, but a boy his age was kidnapped from the streets. Unknown to the police, there is someone on the inside at City Center Shelter who targets the kids. The creep has managed to evade the staff at the center as they go about handpicking the kids. Law enforcement doesn’t have a clue, but things are beginning to stack up at the shelter. Files on all the kids who have been kidnapped have come up missing. There have been documented phone calls, all of which are now about to be handed over to the cops. What Blake, Mr. Hansen, Trace, and Ian don’t know is that someone has marked Blake for vanishing into the night. It’s someone who Blake and many other kids have put their trust in over the past year. This someone is preparing to move to another shelter in the city… after they see to one more disappearance.
Everything was just about ready to give Blake a new life overseas when a cop and a teacher had to get in the way. He’s lost the position that gave him access to the kids, but that’s okay, because he can still run the show. Now, how to get this kid before anyone begins to drag in the lines of his web? This bad guy has left a trail of missing teens across the entire state and now he’s about to lose a mark. Too bad for him, the FBI is about to burst his bubble. He doesn’t think he’ll ever be caught. Law enforcement only needs a week to close in on this guy.
Across town, Trace’s sixth sense is bugging him. Something doesn’t feel right. He gets into his car and drives to City Center Shelter. There isn’t an exact reason, but he feels that he needs to be at the center. Trace speeds off to the center while Mark searches for Blake. Mark knows being seen with the kid could be risky, but the risk is worth the money. Lee could dismiss him from the shelter altogether. Even worse, Mark knows that being seen with the kid could lead to red flags being raised… and to his arrest.
Finally, Mark finds Blake sitting in the dining room.
“Hey Blake, I’ve got some bad news kiddo.”
Blake’s mind begins to envision all sorts of horrid situations.
Blake was worried about this; something must have gone wrong. He’s trying to stay calm. Mark knows from prior kids that kids who are scared make easy targets. Blake may be a lost cause already. Mark hopes that Blake buys into his story.
“Mr. Hansen wanted me to talk to you about something. Understand that I’m just the messenger. Please don’t get upset with me.”
Mark is making every attempt to keep Blake scared and in his power.
“The cop, Trace, came in about an hour ago and said that they couldn’t adopt you.”
Blake’s heart died. He knows that this adoption was his last chance of making it off the streets. He trusted those guys and now he just feels completely lost. His tears are barely being held inside. What is he going to do now? Meanwhile, Trace has just arrived at the center.
Trace gets inside and tells the person manning the metal detector that something is wrong; he needs to see Mr. Hansen now. The guy at the metal detector doesn’t completely know why, but he believes Trace.
“How can I help you?”
“Just get Mr. Hansen or Sally! Just tell them that Trace Andrews is here, tell them it’s important.”
The cop in Trace would have busted through with search warrant in hand. He can’t do that here though. The security guard pushes a button on his phone turning it into an intercom mic.
“Mr. Hansen, Sally, please report to the front security desk you have a code 3.”
The code 3 was a special code known only to the security workers, the front desk, and Mr. Hansen. In a heartbeat, Mr. Hansen and Sally show up at the desk. They seem shocked to see Trace again.
Trace looks at them and asks, “Do you know where Blake is?”
“No, but he spends a lot of time in the dining room. Why?” Sally asks with a bit of worry behind her voice. Maybe it’s her motherly instincts, but she can sense something from Trace’s voice.
“Look, I can’t explain this, but something is wrong. Please find him!”
Sensing something in his words, Mr. Hansen and Sally both go to find Blake. In fact, they take off running to find him. Sally runs off to check the rec room and his assigned room. Mr. Hansen goes off to look in the dining room.
When he arrives there, Mr. Hansen sees Mark apparently counseling Blake. Instantly, Mr. Hansen grabs his radio.
“Blake is with Mark. I need a Code Omega now!”
All the codes have been secretly reassigned when all the trouble with the kids was detected. Mark has no idea that the codes have been changed. It’s hoped this will catch him off guard.
The guy at the front security desk picks up his phone and announces, “This is Code Omega, I repeat Code Omega. This is not a drill. All managers please close all exits. Security, this is not a drill.”
Mr. Hansen stands just out of sight and scans the room around Mark. He spots one of the color coded folders next to Mark. Without being close enough to know for sure, he assumes that it’s Blake’s confidential folder.
“I want a police officer now. Escort them to the dining room upon arrival. If Mark tries to leave the building, detain him… if need be, by force! If he is with a kid, make all attempts to stop him and protect the boy.”
All around Mark and Blake there seems to be some sort of commotion. They seem to be ignorant of the situation. It takes mere minutes before the cops arrive. The anxious father-to-be has a heart rate like you would not believe.
As he sits there across from Blake, Mark has convinced Blake that no one but Mark has any interest in him. They get up and head towards the exit of the dining room. As they approach the exit a welcoming crew enters through the doors to greet Mark and to save Blake.
“Mark, did you honestly think that we wouldn’t catch on to your game?” Lee says, standing at the exit of the dining room along with four police officers. Blake doesn’t understand what’s going on. He looks at Mark and then at Mr. Hansen for some reassurance. Lee approaches Blake as the officers approach and cuff Mark. The director pats Blake on the back.
Just before Mark disappears from sight, he says, “You may have saved this one, but you can’t save them all.”
Lee looks at him and says, “Don’t count on it!”
The young man at his side is shaken, but alright. Lee grabs his radio and calls downstairs.
“Escort Mr. Andrews upstairs please.”
“Ten-Four” echoes from the radio.
Lee puts his radio back in its waist holder and waits.
It’s just Lee and Blake sitting at one of the dining room tables. Lee looks at Blake.
“Blake, everything that Mark said to you is a lie. He’s been kidnapping kids off the streets and sending them off to wherever. If it wasn’t for Trace, he might have gotten you.”
There is silence as Blake tries to wrap his head around what Mark and Lee have told him. Is there any truth to what Mark told him? He doesn’t want to believe it, but he can’t escape the doubt. Doubt can be a very dangerous weapon, especially when it comes from someone like Mark, a guy who uses doubt to cause kids to trip up. As Trace enters the dining room, Blake’s doubts evaporate. He can’t explain it, but he is happier when the guys are around. Can you blame Blake for feeling better around them?
Trace goes straight to Blake and they ignore Lee for now. They exchange hugs and hold each other for just a few seconds. Trace looks into Blake’s eyes and wonders why anyone would want to hurt him… or any kid, for that matter.
“Are you okay, Blake?” Trace asks as they break the hug. Blake looks at Trace and he can’t believe that he would ask such a question. Of course he’s not okay, he was lied to, all in the name of a being tricked, and then he came to find out that all Mark wanted was to kidnap him. Now, he has to overcome his doubts about Trace and Ian before he’s okay.
“Honestly, no, I’m not okay. The guy that the cops just took out of here was trying to kidnap me so he could do whatever he wanted with me.”
Trace knew this, but hearing it from his future son scared him to death. Something in Blake’s eyes scared him to death.
“Blake, what aren’t you telling me?”
Who knows if Lee could see it or not? Trace should be happy just to have Blake safe from harm, but there is something going on inside Blake’s mind and that’s what has him worried. All he can do is hope that it passes. He doesn’t want to push too hard right now.
Without warning, Blake burst into tears. Once again Trace pulls Blake into a hug. Blake sobs a little bit and then stops. He looks up into Trace’s eyes and says, “Trace, do you and Ian still love me?”
“Yes! We are always going to love you,” Trace answers, as he looks into Blake’s eyes.
Blake still has a bit of doubt inside of him, but given time, it will melt away.
Mr. Hansen watched the scene unfold in front of him and he knows this kid and his parents are going to be okay. He has a special gift for Blake. He runs back to his office and comes back with some papers. By expediting the adoption process, he is now able to place him with his family. He looks at Blake as he hands the papers to Trace.
“I have news for you Blake. Trace you might want to pay attention to what I’m about to say. Blake, I know the day has been a rough one, but hopefully this will make up for it. This morning just before Trace called me, I received the official okay for Trace and Ian to call you their son.”
Trace and Blake are both stunned. Although, it’s what they wanted, there are still some lingering fears. Will Trace and Ian really be good dads? Will they find out that being dads isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? More importantly, Blake doesn’t want them to get discouraged and kick him back onto the streets. Despite his fears, he runs up to Mr. Hansen and hugs him and then, he turns and walks over to Trace. He looks him in the eye and just stands there for a second. He then wraps his arms around Trace and starts to shed happy years. Trace whispers into his ear, “I’m so happy that I, that we, can finally bring you home.”
Trace grabs his cell phone and calls Ian, who is busy with some classroom stuff at home. The minute Ian answers the call Trace starts talking.
“I have great news!”
Ian knows it must be something big for his man to be this excited.
Trace doesn’t know if he can finish this conversation without laughing or crying.
“We’ve got a son!”
Ian can’t believe it. Now he is excited. He wants to be with his husband and his son.
“So where are you guys?”
“We are up at the City Center Shelter. Can you take a break and come up here?”
“What a silly question; of course I can. I’ll be there as quickly as I can.”
He grabs his keys, tears through the house and out to the car. He knows that if he goes over the speed limit and gets caught that he’ll never hear the end of it. Still, he can’t wait to meet his hubby and his son. It has to feel weird to Trace and Ian to know that they are now responsible for Blake’s welfare.
Someone else is also making plans to come and see Trace, Ian, and Blake. This someone is from CPS. Her name is Kelly Conrad. She is Blake’s newly-assigned social worker. Her caseload is unique in that she looks after only the LGBT youth and the shelter kids who are parentless and homeless. It just so happens that Blake is both. It’s not often that her kids get a second chance. Sure, sometimes they pull themselves up out of the streets, but she can count on one hand the few teens who have been adopted. This visit isn’t an official visit, but for her it’s a chance to see a kid leaving the streets and entering a loving home. Also, she’s hoping to meet the parents. She has heard through the grapevine that Blake’s adopted parents are gay, which makes this adoption even more special. Even though some of her co-workers disagree with this adoption, she has been smiling ever since she heard about it.
Ian and Kelly enter the building at the same time without acknowledging one another. Neither one knows the other. Besides, all they can think about are their reasons for visiting the center today. As the pair approaches the front desk, each of them is dying to see Blake. Ian wants to hug his new son and Mr. Hansen, too. Kelly just wants to see the kid and his dads. They get through to the front desk and now as they talk to Sally, Kelly realizes that this handsome man to her left is one of the Blake’s dads. She keeps quiet. She would rather give her congratulations to the whole family. Ian gets his pass and heads off to find Trace and Blake. The caseworker waits till he is out of earshot before talking to Sally. Sally hands her the pass. Kelly starts off to follow Ian. As Kelly leaves the area, Sally gets on her radio and calls Mr. Hansen.
“Mr. Hansen, Mrs. Conrad is headed in your direction.”
Mr. Hansen knows that this could mean trouble. He’ll need to pat Sally on the back for this one.
Finally, Ian finds his husband and his son. Ian walks up to Blake and embraces him. Ian doesn’t usually get emotional, but he’s standing there with tears in his eyes. Blake finds himself completely overjoyed. When he arrived at his great aunt’s burned out house, he sank into despair. Now he has a home and a family.
Kelly watches as she walks up. Her eyes are damp, too, and now she feels obliged to introduce herself. Initially, no one likes her because they’re a bit fearful. It seems she has a bit of reputation. Her attitude only comes when one of her kids is messed with or when she has to face an abusive adult. Today her claws are retracted. She reaches out her hand to Trace and Ian.
“I’m Kelly Conrad, Blake’s CPS caseworker. I wanted to say thank you for taking him in.”
The guys are speechless for a moment.
“Thank you!” the guys say at the same time. She feels something when she looks at them. She gets this feeling anytime that her path crosses by people who would make good parents or who are good parents. With every fiber of her body, she wants Blake to love these guys. The last thing she wants is for him to have to be removed from their home.
Trace hands the papers that Mr. Hansen gave to him to Ian. He smiles at Blake and says, “Let’s go home!”
Home. That’s a place that Blake has been dreaming of since arriving here, even if it’s not his mom and dad’s house.
“Go up and your get your stuff. We’ll meet you in here,” Trace tells Blake in preparation for leaving.
Blake takes off running to his room. He grabs his belonging as he walks around the room. Although, he’s been taken care of here, he never wants to come back to this place. He makes the long walk to the dining room with misty eyes. Ian and Trace stand up and motion for him to follow. They head out from the dining room. Their feet are moving a little slower. The guys want Blake to have a chance to say good bye. The boy just wants to go to their house.
Blake pauses to say goodbye to Mr. Hansen, who hands him a card. He turns to Sally who gives him a hug, says goodbye and places a goodbye kiss on his forehead. His new life begins the minute that he walks out of this building. A bit of apprehension stirs in his gut. Blake is ready to begin his life anew. As he and his dads step out of the building, the cold air hits Blake in the face. He hopes he’ll never have to face the elements head on again.
“Do you want to ride with me or Ian?” Trace asks Blake. “I seem to be hogging you today.”
Blake looks at Trace and then at Ian, then replies, “Ian.”
“Okay then, first stop is home.”
Blake follows Ian to the car. He is more than ready to go home.
* * *When the car came to a stop, Blake woke up to the most wonderful thing he’s seen since arriving here in Tylerville. A large two story house with a big yard sits in front of him…