Rescue Four, Five

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Melissa was worn out and very, very frustrated. She'd been job hunting in and around Houston for over six weeks now, and every time she put in an application somewhere, she wondered why she had spent all her energy in the bone dry field of business administration.

Valentine's Day would be tomorrow, and she would still be out there roaming the streets looking for a job, just like every day until now.

It wasn't that her job with the company in LA was bad; Pegasus Unicorn Fae Festive was a great little company to work at, they were small enough that people knew each other within a week or two of being hired. The workers were mostly energetic, rambunctious young folks who loved to put that special spark in the eyes of children whenever possible, so the company specialized in children's birthdays and special occasions where they could put the skills learned in drama classes at college or university into play through their costumes and skits.

The problem had been on Melissa's end of things, she had never been into that drama stuff herself, her skill set was the business admin stuff. The company had been in need of someone to sort out their bookkeeping and had hired her a month after she finished her last degree. The truth of the matter was that, as much as she liked doing business admin, on its own, it had been boring her half to death.

They'd accepted her explanation as to why she was quitting her job there, and many had wished her good luck in finding a new job. The owner of the company had informed her that she was watching several business admin prospects at SDSU, she might hire one in a few months.

The spark she had been missing had been found when she rescued Lara, even more so when they found Tabitha in The Woodlands. She knew now that she wanted, no NEEDED, to be around children on a regular basis, perhaps even work with or around children?

After she had spoken with the Judge a few hours after the now famous car seat catch, he had told her of a woman who lived down the street from him in the Woodlands. This woman liked to babysit children, and had a degree in early child education which she hadn't used much recently due to the fact that she had been in a major accident several months before and still had trouble walking, even with two canes.

Valencia Alyssa Jeffers was a tall, not quite slender chocolate skinned black woman, just short of thirty years of age. Even though she needed the canes to move around on her own, she had no difficulty in keeping young children in line, even the trouble makers liked her. She had worked for a few years in the kindergarten classes at Kaufman Elementary over in Spring until the accident happened the previous summer.

Lara and Tabitha had been doing quite well, Valencia Jeffers proved to be an excellent teacher, she even had little Bobby learning his letters. Melissa dropped them off each morning, Monday to Saturday, at Valencia's house, and picked them up in the late afternoons. The only break each week had been on Sundays, when Melissa would relax with the children in the short term house rental she'd found January 3rd.

The house wasn't big, a modest three bedroom with two full bathrooms, Lara and Tabitha each had their own room. Bobby, for all that he was four, almost five years old, was quite small, closer to the size of a three year old, and he was still quite unsteady when on his own feet. Just to make sure he didn't injure himself, Melissa had bought a large crib and had Bobby sleep in it with the bars raised each night.

Melissa had him checked out within 48 hours of catching the car seat; the diagnosis came back three days later, it was multiple sclerosis. The doctors involved informed her that Bobby should be able to live a fairly good life, discovering it this early gave more options for treatment.

Bobby would need to be tested every two to three months to modify treatment plans as needed, and undergo regular physiotherapy.

Arrangements were made for Bobby to have physio three times a week at the hospital, Melissa would drop off the children at Valencia's house later on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and pick them up at 6:30 PM instead of her usual time of 4:30 to 5 PM. On the days where Bobby had physio, Melissa would often bring some sort of take-out to Valencia's house and they would all enjoy the meal as a group.

So now she had two transgendered children in her care and a young boy with MS. Was life throwing curve balls just to complicate things? She had no idea if that were true; after another day of fruitless job hunting, she returned to the small house and found a letter in the mailbox.

A letter for her? Yes, it had her name on it, the return address was a company called Ramsay Enterprises up north. She'd heard occasional comments about the company from people in her line of work, it seems that Ramsay was making profits when many were losing money.

She wandered into the house, closed the door, then dropped onto the couch in the living room and opened the letter. She spent the next several minutes reading it, then read it a second time, and a third. The new CEO of Ramsay Enterprises was offering her a job? She shook her head, then read it again; the job would be in their new day care division at the head office, and she could work with and around kids.

She sat there and thought about it for a good half an hour. If she took this job, she could still use her business admin skills, and she would be able to work with kids whenever she wanted to do so. There was even mention of her possibly getting a degree in child care.

Maybe, just maybe, life was looking up. She giggled as she thought about how depressed she had been just an hour earlier.

**********

She stopped at a Thai restaurant on the way to Valencia's house and picked up an assortment of items, some normal, some mild, some spicy, then drove the rest of the way to Valencia's house. She'd called Valencia from the restaurant, explaining why she was running late.

When she arrived at the house, she exited the car, locked it and rang the door bell. A moment later, Lara opened the door. Valencia had drilled Lara and Tabitha about checking to see who was at the door before opening it, not everyone was nice like herself or Melissa or the Judge.

Melissa walked into the house, dropped the bags with food on an open part of the coffee table, then hugged the three children. Over the last month or so, Bobby had improved a fair bit, the physio had helped him to exercise his muscles and gain some stability when he moved.

They quickly moved the food to the dining room, Lara and Tabitha grabbed plates, glasses and silverware, then set the table. Lara wandered around the table, filling the glasses at each seat with fresh milk, then the five of them sat down to enjoy the meal.

**********

When the meal was finished, Lara and Tabitha quickly washed and dried the dishes, then joined the others in the living room. They walked in just as Melissa was informing Valencia about the job offer from Ramsay Enterprises she had received in the mail that day.

The two adults, Lara and Tabitha discussed it for the next hour or so, the group opinion was that she should take the offer. Not only would she be able to use the skills she already had, but she would have the opportunity to work around children and earn another degree.

At 8:30 PM, Melissa called it a night when she noticed little Bobby snoring softly in the corner of the large couch.

Melissa said that she wanted to talk with Judge Thibideau before she made a decision about it. She would call him tonight.

**********

Once they were home, Melissa put Bobby to bed, he was now using a small cot in her room where she could help him if needed. About a week earlier Melissa had packed up the crib, exchanging it for the sturdy cot, which Bobby seemed to find comfortable enough for sleeping.

While Lara and Tabitha relaxed for a little while before they would have to go to bed, Melissa called Judge Thibideau. They talked for about half an hour; the Judge knew of the new CEO there through his friend up in that area, in his opinion, the job offer was well worth taking. "As you say you were told earlier, you already have skills needed for part of the job, the chance to learn new skills and you'll be around kids, too."

Melissa shook her head, realized he couldn't see that, then asked, "Is this company really that good?"

The Judge nodded, "From what I've heard from some friends in the northeast, over the last six years, they've grown quite a bit; six years ago, the company's net worth was not quite $600 million US, they've boosted it by about $180 million in spite of the recent fraud issue."

Melissa grinned, "Well, that's good to know, I guess. I saw a news piece about that fraud case a few weeks ago, the detective in charge of the case and the District Attorney there consider the case a slam dunk, the DA might be using it to boost his chances for reelection in the fall."

"Yes, that happens from time to time when a case is that big an item; from the info given, the case is open and shut, no doubt about it. My Judge friend up there is friends with the Judge handling that case, that CEO you'll work for was actually in the court that day."

"Isn't that new CEO related to the people charged in the fraud case? Doesn't that have an effect on the business?"

"She is, her mother came from the original boss' second marriage, the first marriage resulted in the seven presently in the court system."

"So the seven are actually the new CEO's step aunts and uncles? Not a good example of how to treat family and the family business."

"Indeed, if they actually go to trial, they'll be facing the maximum sentences allowed upon any convictions."

"Hmmm... the patriarch's second marriage seems to have resulted in a decent, stable family environment."

"Yes, indeed. One more thing you might want to know, that new CEO, Seanna Ramsay, is like you."

"Like me? What in the heck do you mean?"

Judge Thibideau chuckled, "She's a post-operative transsexual, she had her surgery when she was eighteen, paid for by her mother."

"You're serious? And the company has no issue with her being placed at the top of the heap, so to speak?"

"Yes, Melissa, I'm serious. As far as I know, there haven't been any problems so far, and they have a solid LGBTQI policy in place now."

"Judge, it's really weird how this seems to have happened. I was doing my usual job searches today, getting really depressed at not finding anything that actually interested me, then I went home and found this letter sitting in the mailbox. Now I find out this company wants to hire me, will pay me nearly twice what I earned last year with my old company, and they have a policy to protect people like me."

"Maybe it was fate. Who knows? The fact is that you now have a chance to turn your life around. Will you take it or throw it away?"

Melissa giggled, "Of course I'm going to take it, I'd be insane to throw it away, especially with my recent desires to be around kids. There really isn't anything holding me here in Texas, and I didn't have much in California beyond the job, although I'll miss the people I knew there."

***********

The call had ended shortly after that, Melissa promised to keep in touch with him after the move.

As it was now almost 9 PM, Melissa hugged both girls, then sent Lara and Tabitha to their rooms to prepare for bed.

Melissa stayed up for another hour or so listening to music, then made her own way to bed just before 10:30 PM.

**********

Melissa woke up just before 8 AM; for once she hadn't bothered to set the alarm, yet she was still up at this time. She relaxed in the bed for a bit, there was no need to be up right away, she was planning to call Valencia this morning to pass on her decision.

She finally pulled herself out of the bed, and wandered into the bathroom, deciding that she wanted a bath this morning. She started to fill the tub, added a bit of the lavender bubble bath she liked, then tested the temperature and waited as the tub continued to fill with water.

She eventually turned off the taps, then slowly settled into the bath, just relaxing and soaking in the lovely warm water. The water felt so good that she actually dozed for about ten minutes in the tub, waking just as the water started to turn chilly.

She pulled the plug, then stood up and spent the next ten minutes showering, including washing her shoulder length hair.

**********

She had finished her shower and was drying her hair when someone knocked on the bathroom door.

"Melissa, it's Lara, I need to use the washroom, please, Bobby is in the other one having a bath, Tabby's helping him."

Melissa turned and unlocked the door, then moved out of the way as Lara practically threw herself at the toilet. Lara breathed an audible sigh of relief, Melissa giggled softly at the look on Lara's face, then finished drying herself, wrapped up in a towel and exited the bathroom.

Lara came out of Melissa's bathroom a few minutes later, then wandered into the kitchen. "I'll start making a hot breakfast."

Melissa nodded, one of the things she had been teaching the girls was how to cook various simple meals and several breakfast items. She knew that Lara would be careful, so she wandered into the second bathroom to check on the other two children.

They were both in the bath, Tabby washing little Bobby; now and then one of them would splash water on the other, both giggled each time.

Melissa was proud of the three children; the three had bonded as if they had always been siblings, it was such a nice thing to see.

**********

Eventually, they all wound up in the dining room, just in time as Lara was placing food on four plates on the table. Lara had made a very good effort this morning, the bacon looked crispy,, the eggs were as each person liked them, and pancakes and home fries rounded out the meal.

Lara had placed glasses by each plate, then filled them with milk and apple juice, the orange juice had been used up the day before. Melissa noted that there was a coffee cup by her seat, she tasted it before she sat down, black with a teaspoon of sugar, just as she liked it.

She nodded her approval of the food, then the four sat down and ate their last meal in the house they had called home for almost six weeks.

**********

After breakfast, Melissa called Valencia, informed her that she had decided to take the job up north, and apologized for the abrupt notice. Valencia responded that she figured Melissa would take it and that she would be fine, then told Melissa to take care of the kids.

Once the breakfast dishes had been cleaned, Melissa, Lara and Tabby started in on the packing. There wasn't a heck of a lot to be packed, the furniture and dishes had come with the house when Melissa rented it, so they only needed to pack clothing and personal items.

By 11:30 AM, everything was packed and in the trunk of the car and the kids were dressed including lightweight coats. Melissa locked the house, then called the agency that provided the rental, telling them she would be dropping off the keys, as she was leaving the city.

Melissa unlocked the car, the kids climbed in, Lara securing Bobby in the car seat before sitting in the front passenger seat, Tabby sat in the back next to Bobby and behind Lara. Melissa sat down in the driver's seat, started the car, then made a phone call to her landlady in California; she informed the landlady that she would be terminating the lease, was quite willing to pay any penalties involved, and would be arranging for a storage company to pick up everything in the apartment and keep it in a storage locker until she found a place to live up north.

She then called a reputable storage company, arranged for her items to be moved and promised full payment either later in the day or some time the following day, including a one month rental of a storage locker at the storage company's location in her area of the city.

A brief third call was to her phone and internet provider, to terminate the service at the house she was leaving behind today.

It was now 11:55 AM, there was nothing left but to start driving. "Ready, kids?"

The quick affirmative responses from the three children settled her mind, and she pulled out into the street; she had to drive a mile or so to get to the office of the rental provider she'd used, where she returned the keys, then headed for the nearest freeway.

**********

Several minutes after leaving the rental place, she turned onto Interstate 69 and started following it north out of the city; on the other side of Cleveland, Texas, the Interstate ended and it became state highway 59. It seemed to be going the right direction, so she stayed on it.

They made a brief stop at a donut and coffee shop in Livingston for a washroom break and to pick up some munchables. While they were there, Melissa bought a large coffee, she could put it in the cup holder she had placed between the front seats a few years back.

They were back on the road again within fifteen minutes. There was another stop in Marshall, Texas where they stopped to have lunch at Barbeque Express just after 3 PM, and were back on the road about 45 minutes later, heading toward Texarkana While they were having their lunch, Melissa called Seanna at her office to inform them they would likely be arriving Thursday afternoon or early evening.

The third stop of the day was in Prescott, Arkansas, for a washroom break, fresh coffee and some more munchables.

The fourth and final stop for the day was at the Econo Lodge Inn and Suites just off Interstate 30 in Little Rock just before 8 PM. There were a few vacancies, Melissa managed to be able to get a room with two queen size beds, then they headed out to find something for dinner.

They returned to the hotel at 9:00 PM; within fifteen minutes, everyone was in bed and the kids were all asleep.

It took Melissa a bit longer to fall asleep, she was bemused at the thought that she was sleeping next to a young boy; he'd been sleeping in the same room with her ever since she caught the car seat, so it wasn't anything new, but she had never before slept quite this close to him.

**********

Melissa and the kids were all awake by 7:45 AM; after a quick round of showers and a bath where she washed Bobby, they all were dressed and ready to go out by 8:45 AM. Melissa had checked out the area and decided they would have breakfast at the Waffle House. The only issue was that the restaurant was on the other side of the interstate, they'd have to go over to Chicot Rd. to get to the other side.

Once the kids were in the car and the cases were back in the trunk, she set off, following Mabelvale Pike north and east until it met N Chicot Rd., then turned south and crossed over the interstate. A few minutes after that, they arrived at the Waffle House.

They enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of a variety of waffles, then headed back out to the car to continue the journey just after 10 AM.

**********

They were on Interstate 30, then 40, shortly after Melissa started driving, heading toward Memphis and the wilds of Tennessee.

Their first stop of the day was in Forrest City, Arkansas, for a bathroom break. They passed through Memphis a little over half an hour after they set off again, their next stop was in Arlington, Tennessee. While they used the washrooms there, Melissa bought a coffee and changed her plans. She couldn't explain it, but something told her that she needed to be on or near State Highway 64, and it needed to be fairly soon.

Once everyone was back in the car, she told them she would be using the state highways for a bit instead of the interstate. She drove off again, taking 269 until it met state highway 64, then she turned onto the highway following it east.

Just after they passed through Whiteville, Tennessee, Melissa turned from state highway 64 onto highway 100, and soon spotted what looked like a little girl sitting on the side of the roadway. She pulled over about fifty feet from the girl, then got out and slowly walked over to her.

As she came within fifteen feet of the girl, she heard her crying; Melissa quickly crossed the last few feet and knelt by the girl, hugging her.

A few minutes later, the girl's crying wound down, turning to occasional tears, she held on to Melissa like she was a life preserver on a sinking ship. Slowly the story was told, like Tabby, she'd told her parents that morning she was transgendered, they'd kicked her out as she was.

Being that this seemed to be back country Tennessee, where beliefs and thoughts were far too similar to what she had grown up with in northwest Texas, Melissa was upset that people could abandon a child so casually, but not all that surprised, honestly.

She continued to hug the child, offering whatever solace she could. "So, child, what are you going to do? Are there any relatives that would take you in and help raise you, or are they all like your parents seem to have been, willing to dump you as soon as you seem different?"

"Like my parents, miss, although some would have been much worse, they just threw me out and told me to bugger off. Their farm is half a mile or so that way," she pointed behind her, where a rough two lane road led off to the north.

"Come with me, child, I'm going to go and speak with your parents. Hop in the back and put your seatbelt on, please."

**********

That road proved to be rough, indeed, it had only the thinnest layer of tarmac, and there were ruts and holes everywhere.

The girl pointed out the farm on the east side of the road; there was a short laneway leading to the house, Melissa pulled in and stopped. The car parking by the house attracted attention, two adult men and a women approached her, all around 35 years old.

The one man, looking slightly older than the other but similar enough they could be brothers or close cousins, hissed in anger, then shook his fist at Melissa. "Who the hell are you to bring that spawn of Satan to my house? Take it and your damn car off my farm now!"

"Spawn of Satan? Why? Because she wants to be her true self?"

The two men looked at this crazy woman; if she wasn't so damn big, they might have tried to hurt her, but they didn't like the odds.

"There ain't no way in hell that child is a girl! He was born male, he can stay male or get the hell off my property!"

"Are you saying you would give up all claims on the child? Do you want the child gone so badly that you would sign her over to me?"

"If it removes that child from my sight, then hell, yes, you can have the little shit!"

"Fine. Is there a lawyer in the town who can come out here and act as a notary public, with you as signor and these two as witnesses?"

"Yeah, there is. Betsy," he spoke to the woman, "Call Phil Jacobs in town, have him hustle his arse out here pronto!"

**********

Melissa leaned against the front grille of the car, waiting for the lawyer to arrive. The children sat in the car, all of them were quiet.

The lawyer finally appeared at 1:35 PM, he didn't seem pleased to have been called out here. The next several minutes passed as Melissa listened to the farmer ranting at the lawyer about how he didn't want that despicable spawn of Satan anywhere near him.

"Oooookay, you're saying you want nothing to do with the boy Robert, is that right?"

"Right, this bitch here showed up with that little shit in her car almost an hour ago, acting as if the child were perfectly decent."

The lawyer, Phil Jacobs, turned to her. "And just who might you be, Miss?"

"My name, sir, is Melissa Johannson, I'm of the mind that this child should live his life as he, or in this case she, pleases."

"Please excuse my bad manners, I haven't introduced myself, I'm Phil Jacobs, a lawyer in Whiteville."

"Thank you, Mr. Jacobs. Would you be able to draft a letter or note stating that these people are giving the child into my care?"

"I can do that easily enough, but why is this so important to you?"

"Because I know all too well what the child is going through, Mr. Jacobs, and I want her to be able to live her life without fear of harm."

The farmer freaked out, swearing at the top of his lungs, then headed into the house yelling, "I'm going to shoot that filthy bitch!"

Mr. Jacobs turned and snapped, " Pat Millar, if you so much as touch a gun right now, I'll make sure you get ten years in the state prison!"

The farmer blanched as he turned back, "You wouldn't?" He looked closer at the lawyer, then mumbled, "You're defending this bitch?"

"I wouldn't say I'm defending her, but the right of the child to be able to live their own life, as she said just now, without fear of harm."

"Make that damned paper, I want this bitch and that devil's spawn off my land as soon as possible."

Twenty minutes later, the paper was signed, witnessed and notarized, giving Robert Paul Millar into the care of Melissa Alessia Johannson. The lawyer quickly produced two copies of the document, everyone signed them, one went to the farmer, the lawyer kept the last one.

Melissa checked her watch, 2:15 PM, as she climbed into the car, then backed out of the drive and headed back to highway 100. Once she reached the highway, she turned west, figuring it might be a good time to hit that Subway she'd seen off the highway in Whiteville.

**********

They arrived at the Subway, and all five headed up to the counter, where they spent a few minutes picking what they wanted to eat. Melissa had each child tell the cashier what they wanted, then added her own choice and paid the bill, then waited as the subs were made.

They all crowded around a table, then chowed down, the subs vanishing all too soon under the onslaught of four hungry children. Once they had all eaten, they used the washrooms. Melissa pulled the new child aside for a moment.

"I know you would prefer otherwise, but could you help little Bobby here in the washroom, please?"

The child nodded, replying, "Yes, miss," then reached for little Bobby's hand and walked into the men's washroom. He knew he was female in his heart, but if this woman wanted to trust him with the younger boy's safety, he'd do it, even though it hurt him.

Maybe five minutes later, the small group reassembled and left the Subway, they would be heading east once again.

**********

They'd followed Highway 100 for about 30 miles east before Melissa felt the need to turn north just as they approached highway 22 at Jacks Creek. She turned left and started along the new road, a few minutes later, a sign appeared, "Constitution, Tennessee, pop. 11517".

She continued driving, turning as the need to do so made itself known, then parked in a lot next to what looked like a skate park. There was a sign near the entry, proclaiming it to be "Heather's Heavenly Heathen Hideaway Snack Bar and Skating Emporium".

Melissa laughed, whoever this Heather woman was, she sure had a high opinion of herself and her business. Interestingly, it looked like business here was pretty good; there were about a dozen kids, boys and girls, using the Skate Park, some were doing pretty nifty stunts.

Melissa got out of the car, then decided to lean on the front grill of the car, where she could watch and wait.

**********

She'd only been leaning on the car for maybe five or ten minutes when two young men walked into the Skate Park. They stopped and talked to the woman in the snack shack, then circled around the skate area to sit down next to a young woman with long copper blonde hair.

When the boys walked by, she realized that they were the reason she was there, something would happen to one or both of them, and it would be soon. She told the children, "Stay in the car and lock the doors, don't open a door for anyone but me, unless I tell you to do so."

She watched as Lara quickly locked both doors, then she moved around the skate area to be close enough to help the two boys.

It was just before 4 PM when she noticed a big man entering the Skate Park, he looked around, saw the boys and started moving around the skate area. It didn't take long before he reached them; he grabbed the older boy, hauled him to his feet, then pulled his hand back to hit him.

It was all too obvious what he intended to do to the boy, Melissa moved in, but wasn't quite fast enough to do anything about the first punch. The boy sagged in the big man's arms, then the man turned partway around as he felt someone tapping on his shoulder from behind him.

'Sweet Mother of Mary', he breathed as he saw Melissa, who promptly said, "Perhaps you might prefer to pick on someone your own size?"

Melissa heard at least two people talking on phones near her, she clearly heard both say "Police, please," as she stood next to the male.

He let go of the boy, who backed away, one hand up to his face which was already beginning to show signs of bruising. The big man laughed, "You're a woman! Even as big as you are, you're just a nuisance I need to shove out of my way," as he threw a right cross at her face.

Melissa grinned as she grabbed the big man's hand, then squeezed it hard. "I'm no weakling, buster. I won state in California for wrestling in my 2nd, 5th and 6th years of university, I also took judo and karate in my 4th, 5th and 6th years. I have a blue belt in judo, and a green belt in karate. I may not be an expert in either one, but I can handle an arsewipe like you easily enough," as she tightened her grip again.

The big guy winced, this girl was strong. He backed up a half-step, then tried to kick her behind the knees; she sidestepped it, barely even looking down, then she turned and flipped the idiotic male over her shoulder, dropping him flat on the cold, hard ground.

He grunted as he slowly stood up, then threw a combination of a right cross and a left hook, which she avoided by ducking low. When she was low to the ground, she dropped into a sideways roll, coming up standing about five feet away from the now seriously pissed off male.

She was turned so that she wasn't quite facing him. He lunged, throwing a punch at her kidneys which glanced off her left side. Now she was starting to get annoyed, she laughed at him, "This is how you throw a rabbit punch, jerkoff," as she nailed him hard in the left kidney.

He dropped instantly, rolling back and forth on the ground, shrieking in pain.

Melissa hadn't been paying attention around her, but she did see the first cop reach down and grab the guy, roll him over and snap on the cuffs. The man was still screaming even as the cops lifted him up, Mirandized him and half-dragged him to the nearest police car. The nicest things that could be understood were screams about "filthy tranny faggots", "perverted scum", and "goddamn interfering faggot loving bitch".

Melissa looked around, then sat on the bench closest to where the young girl and the two boys had been sitting. She absentmindedly rubbed her side where she had been hit, it didn't actually hurt all that much, but she figured there'd be a lovely bruise there fairly soon.

She turned and looked behind her, the boy who had been punched was being examined by a paramedic, she hoped he would be okay.

She was still sitting there several minutes later when a female voice behind her asked, "Miss?"

She turned and saw the girl that had been sitting with the two boys she had protected. "Hi, what's up?"

"Paul wants to talk with you, miss. Would you come with me, please?" Melissa shrugged, stood up and followed the girl.

The girl walked over to the back of the ambulance, where the paramedics were just finishing with the boy. "Okay, Paul, right? It looks like you were lucky, you were hit pretty hard, but your jaw isn't cracked or broken, the most you'll have is a big bruise. Use ordinary painkillers if you need them; if the pain gets really bad, you should go into the hospital and get it checked out more thoroughly, okay?"

The boy nodded and turned away from the paramedic, only to find himself looking up at the woman standing a few feet away from him.

Melissa smiled, "Hi, Paul, I'm Melissa, this girl said you wanted to talk with me about something."

He blushed, his cheeks turning a lovely shade of pink as he quietly replied, "I wanted to say thank you for saving me. That guy was my father, he'd been threatening for several days to lay a beating on me and/or my brother. You heard his comments as they dragged him off?"

"I did hear them, yes; I can't say that there was much to be said for them, what with all the swearing he was doing."

"Well," Paul lowered his voice until he was almost whispering, "The tranny faggot comments were aimed at my brother and myself. My father recently found out that either James or myself was identifying as transsexual, and was angry enough that he intended to deal with us. Here Paul related the events that had happened in their lives recently, https://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/fiction/66358/step-step-chapt... .

"So you and your brother have been living with this Tanisha for the last two weeks or so?"

"Yeah, she had us go into court on the 2nd, we told the judge what had happened and a restraining order was placed on our father. Obviously, he didn't care about obeying the order, or he wouldn't have attacked me here. I've seen him near Tanisha's house a few times, too."

"What's done is done, you can't change it. Your father, though, will likely be looking at a prison sentence for assault, and that doesn't even take into consideration the repeated violations of the restraining order you mentioned."

"Well, thanks again for stepping in when you did. I thought I was going to get the crap beaten out of me," he replied, rubbing his cheek.

Melissa smiled, he was a nice kid, then leaned forward and whispered in his ear, "I'm a post-operative transsexual myself, girl."

He looked up at her with a stunned expression, this tall, strong, yet utterly feminine woman was like him? It threw him for a loop.

Melissa laughed, then grinned at him. "Perhaps you could give me a phone number or email, so I can contact you. I'd give you a phone number, but both numbers I had were disconnected today, I won't have a new one until after I start my new job up north."

He spoke briefly to the girl that had brought Melissa over, she handed him a small notepad and a pen. He quickly wrote down the phone number for Tanisha's house, then added two emails, one for himself and a second for his brother, tore the sheet out and handed it to Melissa.

Melissa smiled, slipped the piece of paper into the back pocket of her men's cut jeans and started walking toward her car.

Paul and the girl watched the tall, confident woman as she walked away. Paul whispered in the girl's ear, she looked absolutely stunned.

As Melissa was walking away, she heard the girl squeak, "She's like you and Jamie, but post? Holy shit! That's some woman!"

**********

Melissa knocked on the driver's side window of the car. Lara looked up, saw Melissa nodding, and unlocked the driver's door.

Melissa opened the door, sat down in the driver's seat, then shook her head, closed the door and rested there for several minutes.

She was surprised when someone tapped on the window beside her and looked up to see two police officers standing there. Melissa rolled down the window, and the one officer asked if she could come inside the snack shack while they asked her about what happened.

Melissa nodded, rolled up the window, stepped out of the car, closed the car door and followed the officers into the snack shack. Heather was standing there, she flipped the sign to show closed before exiting the building, leaving Melissa facing the two officers.

The taller one, a female, spoke up, "Look, Miss, you're not in any trouble, there are over a dozen witnesses here who all said that you only stepped in as he threw the first shot at the boy, you definitely didn't start it, although you did finish it."

The other officer added his two cents, "All we need from you is a statement, and a way to contact you if you're needed for his trial."

"All right, then." She then went on to describe what she had seen and done since she entered the Skate Park; she told them she was heading to a new job, and since she didn't have a current address or phone number, she gave them the number to Seanna's office at Ramsay Enterprises headquarters. The two officers were both busily scribbling in their notebooks, apparently taking notes of her statement.

"Do you need me for anything else, officers?" she asked when they had finished writing.

"No, that should be enough, thanks. We'll contact you if you're needed for anything else later on, Miss Johannson."

"Then I hope you have a good day, officers. Goodbye." She then stalked back to the car, dropping into the seat again, and closed the door. Once again, she rested there for a few minutes as she thought about what had just happened in the Skate Park.

The kids let her be, she'd been driving and then in a bit of a fight here, it wouldn't hurt them at all to wait a little while.

**********

Melissa eventually came out of her near fugue state, started the car, and was about to pull away when there was another tap on the window. She looked up this time to see the owner of the place looking in at her. Melissa shrugged and rolled down the window again.

"Hi, if you didn't know it already, I'm Heather, also known as Heathen and I own this place. Would you and the kids like to get some snacks?"

Heather had barely finished speaking before four different voices all yelled out, "Yes!" Melissa giggled and said "Sure, why not?"

Heather led them over to the Snack Shack and the kids looked at the menu, then picked out what they wanted. Most of what was offered was the usual variety of snack items, although Heather did say at one point that big events here usually also had burgers, hot dogs, fries, etc.

Once the kids had what they wanted, and Melissa had added a bag of a new flavour twist on nacho chips, Melissa tried to pay for the items, but Heather wouldn't accept her money at all. "You stepped in to protect those boys, miss, you're what we call "good folks" around here."

Melissa laughed, shrugged her shoulders, put her wallet away and led the kids back to the car, all were carrying their snack of choice.

**********

Once they were all in the car in their various seats, Melissa rolled up the window, then let the heat circulate around the inside of the car for a moment. A couple of minutes later, she carefully backed out, then headed west and north, she would pick up I40 at Jackson, Tennessee.

It was not quite twenty miles to the southern edge of Jackson and a few more through Jackson before they could join the eastbound I40.

Nashville was about 75 miles away, and another 135 beyond that if they wanted to reach Knoxville tonight. She'd manage.

They stopped on the outskirts of Nashville for a bathroom break, Melissa bought herself a large coffee and small plastic bottles of pop for the kids, then headed back to the car for the next stage of the journey. The next stop would be Knoxville.

She was back on the Interstate, following other cars as they all headed east and slightly south. The sound of the wheels humming under the car was almost enough to make her want to sleep, it had been an eventful day for sure, but the coffee kept her going through the evening.

Bobby and the new child had both dozed off shortly after they left Nashville, and didn't wake up again until they were almost to Knoxville.

It was almost 9 PM before the lights of Knoxville began to cast their glow over the large car speeding into the city. She pulled off the interstate at the cloverleaf connecting I40, I140 and Highway 162, then did a bit of fancy driving to get across I140 to reach Calhoun's.

Melissa and the four kids had a great time in the restaurant; each of them ordered something different, then when the orders arrived at the table, they sampled the various items. By the time they finished eating, all five were stuffed and ready for a good night's sleep.

Melissa had done some planning, and had decided, if they stopped in Knoxville, to get a large room at the Red Roof Inn Knoxville. As she approached the hotel, she grinned, they still had a vacancy. She pulled into the lot and soon they were all settling into a nice, big room.

Minutes after the two youngest laid down on one of the beds, they were asleep. The other children were not far behind them. There were only two beds again, both queens like the night before. Melissa giggled, 'now I can sleep with the girls,' she thought as she drifted off.

**********

Young Bobby woke up just after 6:30 AM complaining of pain in his legs. Melissa got up and massaged them for fifteen or twenty minutes, at which point the boy giggled and leaned up to give her a hug. Melissa smiled back at the boy and returned the hug.

Just after 7 AM, the three other children finally roused from their slumbers. All five had showers, Robert helping little Bobby, then dressed, placed their dirty clothing into bags and then in their suitcases, well, everyone but Robert, who had no clean clothes to wear.

With everything that had happened the day before, Melissa had completely forgotten about that, and told him that he could do one of two things this morning: wear the clothes from the day before, or wear something that belonged to Tabby, as they were fairly close in size.

Melissa wasn't surprised by his response, he picked the option to wear one of Tabby's outfits, then whispered, "My name's Rebecca."

Melissa giggled, "It's about time that you told us your female name, you silly goose! Now get dressed. Once we've all had something to eat, the hotel here offers a hot breakfast, we'll find a mall after that and pick you up some clothes and a suitcase for them, okay?"

**********

They finished eating their breakfasts just before 8:30 AM, a quick chat with the waitress informed her that there were two Walmarts within a few miles of their present location, a supercenter to the west and a store to the east.

Melissa figured the store to the east might be slightly out of their way, but it was in the same direction as they were going.

Just over ten minutes after they left the hotel, Melissa was parking in the lot of the Walmart on University Commons Way. They spent about half an hour in the store, getting a few outfits for Rebecca plus a reasonably priced well made suitcase. As they were leaving the store, Melissa bought some small bottles of pop and a couple of bags of munchables, then they returned to the car.

**********

Maybe twenty miles out of Knoxville, Interstate 40 turned south for a while before heading east again. Melissa wanted to continue driving north, so she headed up Interstate 81 at that point, she figured they might make it to Wytheville before they needed to stop.

The four children were happily chattering away, Melissa found it hard to believe she had only had three children just one day earlier.

The three youngest were all squirming a bit as she turned off I81 in Wytheville just before noon and then parked in the Bojangles' restaurant lot. They headed in and the kids rushed off to the washrooms as Melissa walked up to the counter. She waited a few minutes in the short line.

"What would you like to order, Miss?" the girl behind the counter asked.

Melissa smiled, replying, "A super tailgate, an order of bo-tato rounds and two orders of fries, please."

The girl told her the total cost, Melissa quickly paid, then had to wait for several minutes while the order was being prepared.

By the time she had the food in hand, the children were standing several steps behind her, she led them to a table where they all sat down. Using the tray she had been given as a common dispensing point, she spread out the food and laughed, saying, "Dig in, kids!"

At 12:40 PM, they exited the restaurant, climbed into the car and were soon on their way once again.

**********

Melissa was smiling as they travelled along the interstate; they would likely arrive in the city where the Ramsay headquarters was located in the late afternoon or very early evening. She decided to buy a cheap throwaway cell phone to call Seanna before they arrived.

Just after 2:30 PM, they stopped in Lexington for washroom breaks at the McDonald's. All five of them used the washrooms; when they were finished, Melissa bought each of them a pie and a small drink to keep them going as they continued travelling.

Their last stop before they arrived at the city where the company was located was in Winchester, Virginia. Melissa had decided to go to the Apple Blossom Mall, as it was fairly close to the interstate and they wouldn't have to backtrack afterward.

They arrived in Winchester about 4:15 PM, they stopped only long enough to use washrooms and for Melissa to buy a cheap prepaid cell phone from an outlet in the mall. They were back on the road just before 4:30; a few minutes later, Melissa turned onto Highway 7.

Melissa had passed the new cell phone to Lara as they returned to the car; once they were moving, Lara called Seanna using the number Melissa had given her and informed Seanna that they would most likely arrive around 6 PM. Did Seanna want to wait for them at the head office as they had initially planned, or should they meet her somewhere closer to her home?

Seanna laughed and replied that they could meet her at her home; she gave Lara the address, then made sure that Lara had the address information correct before she said goodbye, as she needed to finish her work for the day in the next twenty minutes.

Once the call ended, Lara held on to the cell phone, the journey was almost finished.

**********

They made fairly good progress, they'd gone a bit over twenty miles down the highway and had just passed through Purcellville when Melissa saw something she'd never expected to see in her life, a tiny baby carrier on the side of the road, the baby bawling at the top of its lungs.

The noise was loud enough that it could heard from over a hundred feet away, even in the car with the windows closed.

There were no buildings nearby as far as she could tell, yet someone had deliberately dropped the baby here.

Melissa pulled over to the side of the road, then she exited the car and picked up the carrier. The baby looked to be a few days old at most, maybe a week. Melissa shook her head, carried the little one to the car and handed the baby and carrier to Tabby.

"Lara, call Seanna, tell her we just found a baby in the middle of nowhere and that we'll meet her in about an hour."

Lara made the call, passing on the information. At first, Seanna didn't believe her, then she heard the baby crying as Tabby held on to the carrier. Seanna then said she would contact some people she knew who would broadcast the baby's discovery without giving any names.

They were back on the road only a few minutes after Melissa had spotted the baby. It was 4:57 PM.

**********

Melissa had followed the directions to Seanna's house, and they pulled into the driveway at 5:50 PM.

Seanna heard the car as it arrived, and stood in the doorway of the house, watching as Melissa carried the baby, the children following her. The kids had grabbed the suitcases and were hauling them into the house; with five spare bedrooms, there should be plenty of room.

The cases were dropped in the room, then everyone met in the large living room, there was plenty of seating with two large sofas, a love seat and two easy chairs scattered in an arc in front of the 60" plasma TV. There were coffee tables in front of the two large sofas.

Seanna turned on the TV, then switched it to the channel she wanted, just in time to catch the start of the early evening newscast.

There was a big story about a robbery in the downtown core, another about a car accident involving seven different cars on the edge of the city, then the piece they wanted to watch came on. All nine people, two adults and seven children, were watching intently.

"I'm Bob Parvis, one of our lead stories tonight is the discovery of a newborn girl about an hour ago. The baby was found on the side of the road between Purcellville and Paeonian Springs, VA. We're asking anyone who may have info relating to this baby to call us at 555-1717."

Note: Thanks to Edeyn for her story Sk8r Grrls, I used Heather and the Skate Park from that story in this one. The major difference is that this story is in current time, and thus would be about nine or ten years after the Sk8r Grrls era.



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