On Saturday morning, Diane couldn't get Daniel to the Greers fast enough. She, Quentin and Kathleen smiled as they watched the boy make a beeline for one of the many shelves and pull down several books. He made himself comfortable in one of the overstuffed chairs and got busy reading.
The adults went into the kitchen.
"I'd say that he'll be busy for quite some time," Quentin remarked with a chuckle.
"Thank you for the invitation," Diane said. "He's been so excited about it. I've never seen a child who loves to read as much as Daniel does."
"Reading is good. Too many kids these days are glued to the TV. I sometimes wish they'd never invented the thing."
Kathleen smiled. "Ah, but then how would you watch your football games, honey?"
Quentin paused. "Well, there is that."
Diane left, the teacher telling her that he'd take Daniel home when the boy was ready to leave.
Since their guest was thoroughly ensconced in the library, both Quentin and Kathleen decided to join him, choosing to leave their chores for another day. Selecting books of their own, they made themselves comfortable.
Throughout the morning, the two adults found themselves occasionally glancing at Daniel to see how he was doing. The boy was usually engrossed in whatever he was reading, unaware of their eyes on him.
Lunch consisted of sandwiches eaten right there in the library, and Kathleen had to prompt Daniel several times to eat since he kept forgetting. She and Quentin exchanged more than one amused glance.
And that's pretty much how the day went. It was not the kind of day that would appeal to the average eight-year-old, but Daniel seemed to be perfectly happy. He'd asked for a pad of paper and wrote something down every once in a while. When Kathleen finally managed to drag the boy away from his books for some cookies and milk, Daniel gave the pad of paper to Quentin. It was a list of words.
"Those are the ones I don't know," the child explained.
The teacher smiled. The list wasn't very long. "Would you like me to tell you what they mean?" He got a nod.
As they ate their cookies, Quentin told Daniel what each word was and gave the definition when necessary.
Daniel ended up staying through dinner. Kathleen put her foot down and insisted that the meal be eaten in the dining room. They shared a nice conversation over their food. Afterwards, though Daniel would have happily stayed longer, Quentin decided that he should probably be taken home.
"Thank you for having me," Daniel said to Kathleen with the upmost politeness.
The woman smiled. "You are very welcome, Daniel. It was a pleasure. I'll be looking forward to your next visit. It's great to have you here."
A moment later, much to Kathleen's surprise, Daniel stepped up to her and wrapped his arms around her waist. She hugged him back, feeling her heart melt into a gooey puddle inside her chest.
"You're always welcome here, Daniel," she murmured. "Always."
Being the week of Thanksgiving, it was no surprise that all the kids in school were excited about the holiday and, more importantly, the four days of no school.
Thanksgiving was a big deal in the Carter household, and they were expecting more than one relative to be coming for a visit, including Jacob's sister, Ellen, with her brood of kids and Laura's big brother, Aaron. It was going to be a full house. Even so, they invited Daniel to have Thanksgiving dinner with them. Since the Underwoods usually ate out for Thanksgiving, and nothing special was planned, Diane said it was all right.
School let out early on Wednesday. Saying goodbye to his friends in his class, Daniel went up to his teacher.
"Hey, Daniel," the man said. "You know, Kathleen and I were going to invite you to have Thanksgiving dinner with us, but I understand that you've already got plans."
"I'm going to Sam's house. They have relatives visiting. There will be other kids there."
"Well, that sounds like fun. How about if you come have dinner with us Friday night instead? We'll have lots of leftover turkey, which Kathleen usually puts in this fantastic casserole with mashed potatoes, carrots and peas. I can't get enough of it. And there might just possibly be some pumpkin pie left over, too. So, what do you say?"
"I'd like that, Mister Greer. Thanks."
The usual Thanksgiving routine was for Jacob to get the kids out of the house – and out of Laura's hair – while she worked on the stuff for dinner. That plan was changed by a certain little boy, who was dropped off by Diane at eleven o'clock.
Daniel took a look at all the fixings for dinner covering the counters and said, "It looks like it's a lot of work. Won't it take a long time?"
"Yes," Laura replied. "That's why I get started on it early. The turkey will take several hours to cook, and it needs to be stuffed before I put it in the oven."
"Can I help?"
"Oh, it's very sweet of you to offer, honey, but I manage all right on my own."
"But that's not fair. You shouldn't do all the work all by yourself, not when we're all going to be eating the food."
Laura smiled at the very grown-up and thoughtful comment.
"I want to help," Daniel insisted.
"Are you sure? Jacob's going to take the kids to see a movie."
Daniel nodded. "I can see a movie any time. I never helped make a turkey dinner before. We celebrated Thanksgiving, but we never had turkey. We usually had chicken instead. And we didn't have pumpkin pie, either, or cranberry sauce or any of that other stuff. But I always helped Mom fix the food, or at least once I got big enough to help."
Laura smiled and hugged the boy, amazed at his generosity and selflessness. "Okay. Thank you. It will be lovely to have your help."
Just then, Jacob, Sam and Mark came in.
"Come on, Daniel," the girl said. "If it's open, Daddy's going to take us to lunch at the hot dog place before we go to the movie."
"I'm not going. I'm staying here and helping make the turkey dinner."
Jacob's eyebrows rose. "When was this decision made?"
"Just now," Laura replied. "It was all Daniel's idea. He insisted that it was only right that he help since he's going to be eating the end results."
That made Sam feel guilty. She'd never offered to help her mom make Thanksgiving dinner. She was usually too busy playing or off somewhere with her father and brother.
"Then I'll help, too," she declared. She looked up at her father. "We should all help."
Laura laughed. "As much as four extra pairs of hands would come in handy sometimes, sweetheart, that would be far too many people in the kitchen. We'd just end up getting in each other's way."
Sam pouted, having set her mind on being like a grown-up and helping in the kitchen. "But I want to help."
"All right." Laura looked at her husband. "You and Mark go on and have lunch and see that movie. We three will take care of everything here."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure. We'll be fine."
"Well, okay." Jacob gave her a kiss. "See you in a few hours."
Daniel and Sam did do their very best to be helpful to Laura, and they did come in handy when it came to beating eggs and mixing things, though, not surprisingly, the counters got a lot messier than they did when Laura was doing it all on her own. But the extra mess was worth it to Laura, who truly enjoyed the hours with the two children. She learned a few more things about Daniel, like the fact that he loved walnuts. He'd been set to the task of measuring out the nuts for one of the dishes Laura was fixing and apparently couldn't resist eating some while he was at it.
"Fresh ones are better," he said. "I like cracking the shells open and taking the meat out."
Sam frowned in confusion. "Meat? There's meat in walnuts?"
Daniel held up a piece of walnut. "This is called the meat, the stuff that's inside the shell."
"Well, we'll have to get some fresh walnuts one of these days," Laura said.
Daniel's expression turned dreamy. "Once a long time ago, I had chocolate walnut cookies. They were really good."
"Hmm. Chocolate walnut cookies, eh? I'll have to look for a recipe."
Considering that her helpers were only eight years old and needed a lot of instructions, they didn't really save Laura all that much time, but she told them that they'd been a big help anyway, which pleased them immensely.
The first guests arrived at four o'clock. Jacob hugged his sister, who returned the embrace lightly.
"Jacob. It's lovely to see you again," Ellen Yarborough said.
"Likewise." Jacob looked down at her three kids. "Hey, guys. Boy, you sure have grown since we saw you last."
"It's been a whole year," responded the oldest, Priscilla, a girl of thirteen. "We're supposed to be bigger."
Ellen frowned at her tone. "Priscilla, mind your manners. You should not talk to your elders that way."
The girl shrugged. "Whatever."
Ellen sighed and looked at her brother. "Teenagers. What can you do?"
At that moment, Daniel, Sam and Laura came out of the kitchen.
"Hello, Ellen," Laura greeted in a slightly restrained tone. She was never all that fond of Jacob's sister, who was a bit stuck up.
"Laura." Ellen's gaze went to Sam. "My, my, Samantha. You're growing into quite a lovely young lady." She then looked at Daniel. "But who is this?"
"He's Daniel," Sam replied. "My best friend."
Ellen's eyebrows rose marginally. "Best friend? Oh, but my dear, a girl's best friend is always another girl. That's just the way it is."
Daniel's gaze fell to the floor at the same time as Sam's lips turned downward in a severe frown. She took Daniel's hand.
"I don't care," she declared defiantly. "Daniel is my best friend, my best friend ever."
Ellen made an airy gesture with her hand. "Whatever you say, dear."
Before things could get any worse, Jacob led his sister to the sofa. He remembered a time when she hadn't been such a snob, before she married into money. She had since divorced, but had walked away with a pretty tidy sum and a monthly alimony check that kept her from having to work. He often wished for a return of the sister who used to climb trees and play baseball with him. This present incarnation would probably be horrified at the thought of playing a game of baseball and possibly breaking a nail.
Seven-year-old Timmy, Ellen's youngest child, looked at Daniel and Sam.
"Is he your boyfriend?" he asked his cousin innocently.
Sam and Daniel's faced flamed.
"Timothy! What a thing to say!" Ellen chastised. "Of course he's not her boyfriend. Young ladies of eight do not have boyfriends. Now, come here and sit with me."
As Timmy walked over to the couch, Ellen's middle child, Olivia, snickered, apparently thinking that her brother's comment was funny.
Just then, Mark came out of his room, and Olivia's entire manner changed.
"Hi, Mark," she said, smiling at him.
Mark frowned at the greeting. "Hi." He wasn't all that thrilled about them being there. Last year, Olivia had followed him around everywhere, refusing to leave him alone. She was the same age as him, but he didn't understand her at all. To be honest, he didn't want to understand her. He just wanted her to leave him alone this Thanksgiving.
The doorbell rang, and Laura went to it rather quickly, knowing who it would be.
A tall man with flaming red hair grinned broadly. "Little sis!" he exclaimed, scooping Laura up in a big hug.
Laura laughed. "Aaron! Put me down!"
"Put you down where, sis?" he asked, pretending not to notice that he'd lifted her clear off the floor. He did put her down, though, only to lift another female up into the air, that female being Sam, who'd come running over to him.
"Hey, little squirt," Aaron said, hugging the girl tightly.
"I'm glad you came, Uncle Aaron," Sam said. "We missed you last year."
"I missed you, too, sweetie pie." He set Sam down.
Jacob came over and shook the man's hand. "Aaron. It's great to see you."
"Jacob. You still watching out for my little sis? That promise I made is still valid, you know."
Jacob smiled. The "promise" was that if Jacob ever hurt Laura, Aaron would beat him to a pulp, which the man could probably do quite easily. He'd been on the boxing and the wrestling teams in college and outweighed the captain by a good fifty pounds.
"I'm doing my best," Jacob replied.
Daniel was standing off to the side, feeling more than a little uncomfortable. Everyone here was family. He was the only one who wasn't. His only family was thousands of miles away in another country and didn't care about having Thanksgiving with him.
The boy was starting to feel pretty down when Sam came over and took his hand. She led him to her uncle.
"Uncle Aaron, this is my best friend, Daniel. He's having Thanksgiving dinner with us."
Aaron smiled down at the boy. "Nice to meet you, Daniel. Any friend of my little squirt is a friend of mine."
They all went into the living room. Aaron's demeanor, which had been open and friendly before, very noticeably chilled upon seeing Ellen.
"Ellen," he said coolly.
"Aaron," she responded with the same tone.
Daniel looked back and forth between them, thinking that no two people could be more different. Ellen was smartly dressed in a tailored pantsuit, her pale blond hair done up perfectly, hands adorned with diamond rings. Aaron, by contrast, was dressed in worn jeans and a sweatshirt, his red hair a bit on the long side and tousled by the wind. The only thing they had in common was that Aaron was also wearing jewelry, a carved amulet that Daniel abruptly recognized.
"That's an Elder Futhark rune!" he exclaimed. "It means 'luck'. It's also the letter 'P'."
Aaron's mouth fell open. "Uhhh . . . you're exactly right. How do you know that?"
Jacob chuckled. "Daniel, you didn't tell us that Elder . . . whatever it is was another language you knew."
"I don't really know how to read it, I just know what all the runes are."
"What's Elder Foothark?" Priscilla asked.
"Futhark," Daniel corrected. "It's probably the oldest version of the Runic alphabet. It was used in the parts of Europe where the Germanic peoples lived, like Scandinavia. All the runes are letters, but they're also symbols for words or phrases."
All the newcomers gaped at Daniel like fish, which the Carters thought was quite amusing. What happened next was not amusing, however.
"What planet are you from?" Priscilla asked.
The comment upset Daniel and made his head drop.
"He's not from another planet," Sam responded angrily. "He's a genius. He can speak six languages, and can read and write a bunch of dead languages, and he knows lots and lots of history and mythology. He's a whole lot smarter than you are."
"Sam, that's enough," Jacob ordered.
"He's not smarter than me," Priscilla declared, lifting her nose in the air. "I'm going to Oxford when I grow up. It's the best school in England."
"So what?" Sam said, even angrier. "How many languages do you know?"
"I don't need to know a bunch of stupid languages to go to Oxford."
"Okay, that's enough," Jacob commanded. "No more fighting. This is supposed to be Thanksgiving."
Daniel's gaze hadn't left the floor. He didn't like that they were fighting because of him, and he was wishing that he hadn't come here for Thanksgiving. He wanted to go home.
Jacob noticed that Daniel was hugging himself and silently cursed. This was not how things were supposed to go. He was starting to wish that his sister and her kids hadn't come.
Aaron noticed the boy's demeanor as well. He squatted before the boy.
"Six languages, eh? Well, that's pretty darn impressive," he said. "I'm kind of into languages, too, but I only know two others besides English."
Daniel lifted his head shyly. "You do? Which ones?"
"French and Mandarin Chinese."
"I know French. I don't know Chinese, but I want to learn it someday."
Aaron smiled. He asked Daniel a question in French, and the boy replied in the same language. They chatted in that tongue for a solid minute. Sam thought it was really neat. She looked over at Priscilla and saw that the teen was frowning. Sam smiled smugly, then stuck her tongue out at the girl. Priscilla flushed and turned away angrily.
The evening was not the most harmonious of Thanksgivings and, at times, was quite challenging to the patience of more than one person. Ellen prattled on about herself and her children, and Aaron made no secret of the fact that the conversation bored him. He pretended to fall asleep more than once, which didn't endear him to Jacob's sister but made Sam and Mark laugh and Daniel smile.
Sadly, Ellen's children appeared to be turning into carbon copies of her, snobbish and self-centered. Olivia seemed to be the best of the three, although poor Mark likely wouldn't agree. Just like last year, the girl was glued to his side, always wanting to sit next to him and go everywhere he did. At one point, his patience finally snapped, and he yelled at her to leave him alone. She ran off crying to her mother.
"Jacob, tell your son to apologize," Ellen said.
Jacob turned to Mark. "Apologize for yelling at Olivia, Mark."
"But she wouldn't leave me alone! She keeps following me all over the place."
Jacob suspected that he knew the reason for the girl's behavior. It seemed pretty obvious that she had a crush on Mark even though he was her cousin. Of course, he wasn't going to let his son know that. That would make things ten times worse.
"Nevertheless, you shouldn't have yelled at her," he said. "Now say you're sorry."
Mark glowered, crossing his arms over is chest. "Sorry," he muttered.
It wasn't a genuine apology, but Jacob figured that it was as good as it was going to get.
Unfortunately, Ellen wasn't satisfied with it. "Well, that's not a proper apology at all. Jacob?"
The captain sighed. "Just leave it be, Ellen. And I think it would be best if Olivia stays away from Mark from now on."
Adopting a disapproving air, Ellen turned away, murmuring soothing comments to her second-born.
"How about some pie, everyone?" Laura asked, hoping to lighten the mood.
The pie was served in the living room, the kids eating theirs while watching TV. The adults took theirs into the dining room to chat.
After the pie was gone, Aaron helped Laura gather the empty plates and take them into the kitchen.
"You know, you could at least try to be civil to Ellen," Laura said to him as she rinsed the dishes.
"She's a stuck up, prissy little bi—" He broke off as Laura raised a warning finger. "If Jacob was anything like her, there's no way I'd have let you marry him."
Laura turned to him with a cocked eyebrow. "Oh? And how would you have stopped me?"
Aaron grinned. "By threatening him with dismemberment if he didn't take a hike, of course."
Laura laughed, shaking her head. "You never change, Aaron."
Aaron grinned charmingly. "No, and you wouldn't want me to. You love me just the way I am."
Laura gave a theatrical sigh. "Too true, although I still wish you wouldn't antagonize Ellen. She's hard enough to deal with as it is sometimes."
"So, why do you invite her?"
"Because she's family, the only family Jacob has left now that his father is gone."
"I was sorry to hear about that. Tom was a good sort." Aaron leaned back against the counter. "So, what's the story with Daniel? The kid's really something else."
"He lost both of his parents a few months ago. They were archeologists and were killed in a terrible accident at a museum in New York City."
Aaron stared at her in surprise. "Are you talking about the Jacksons?"
Now, it was Laura's turn to be surprised. "Yes, I am. How did you know?"
"I read about it in the papers. Damn. So, he's their kid?"
"Yes. He's having a very hard time dealing with it. He saw the accident, and it really traumatized him. I witnessed him having a flashback, Aaron. It was one of the most horrible things I've ever seen."
"Jeez. The poor kid. So, is he living with relatives or in foster care?"
"Foster care. His only living relative is his grandfather, who apparently has little interest in him."
"What a tough break. He seems like a good kid, even if he is freaky smart."
"He's a wonderful child. Jacob and I have been trying to help him all we can, give him lots of love. Sam adores him."
"Yes, I noticed how protective she is of him." Aaron grinned. "I was cheering her on when she told off Ellen's brat."
Laura frowned at him. "She shouldn't have said that, Aaron, and you know it. But you're right. She is protective of Daniel. He was very fragile when they first met. He's gotten a lot better since then, but he still has a long way to go."
"Well, with you, Jacob and the little squirt in his corner, I'm sure he'll be right as rain in no time."
When they returned to the living room, the TV had been turned off. Ellen's kids were now on the sofa with her. Jacob was in the recliner, and the other three kids were on the dining room chairs that had been brought into the living room.
"We were just discussing what we were going to do," Jacob said, "perhaps some sort of game."
"Let's play Scrabble," Priscilla piped up.
Ellen smiled at her daughter fondly. "Oh, but you're so smart with words, darling, that the rest of us wouldn't stand a chance."
Looking pleased, the girl turned back to the others, chin in the air. "I'm the spelling bee champ. I can spell anything."
The claim irked, Jacob, who was not a fan of people bragging about themselves. That's when an idea came to him.
"You know, perhaps a Scrabble game wouldn't be a bad idea. But let's play it differently than usual. The last one we played allowed people and place names, and it was . . . quite interesting."
The surprised eyes of his wife, his children and Daniel were turned upon him. And then Sam started to smile.
"Yeah, that's a great idea," she said.
Mark picked up on what was going on and also smiled. "Yeah."
Daniel spoke up. "But I thought you said that next time—"
"Yes, I know, Daniel," Jacob interrupted. "We'll play it that way again this one time."
Laura stared at her husband, knowing exactly why he was doing this.
Aaron could sense that something was going on, but didn't ask any questions.
Priscilla was frowning. "Allowing people and place names isn't a proper way to play Scrabble."
"Well, if that would make it too hard for you. . . ." Sam's voice trailed off with a shrug.
Anger sparked in the older girl's eyes. "Nothing's too hard for me."
Jacob smiled. "Well, then let's get the game."
As Jacob got the game and the others moved into the dining room, Aaron pulled his sister aside.
"Okay, what's the story?" he asked in a low voice. "I know that something's going on."
Laura smiled. "All I'll say is that if you don't want to get creamed in Scrabble by an eight-year-old, don't play."
"What?" Aaron's eyes went to Daniel. And then he smiled. "Ahhh. Oh, this is gonna be fun."
Aaron chose not to participate, wanting to devote his entire attention to the show that was about to play out. Mark also didn't play, knowing what the outcome would be. Timmy was too young, Olivia had no interest in the game, and Ellen was not the sort to play Scrabble, so that left Sam, Laura, Jacob, Daniel and Priscilla. Sam was playing with her mother this time, though she didn't entertain the hope that they'd win. In fact, all the Carters were pretty sure they knew what the outcome of this game was going to be.
It soon became apparent that Priscilla was, indeed, very good with words. But then Daniel put down his first place name.
"What's that?" Priscilla asked. "That's not a real word."
"Yes, it is," Daniel responded. "It's the name of a city in ancient Greece."
Hearing that, Aaron suddenly understood why Jacob had said they should allow people and place names. Oh, this really was going to be good.
"Well, I don't think it should be allowed," Priscilla stated. "I've never heard of it."
"Just because you've never heard of it doesn't mean it can't be used," Sam said. "It's a place name, and place names are allowed."
The teenager pouted sourly, but said nothing more. Half an hour later, however, she was no longer remaining silent. In fact, she was really starting to whine. Though she was a very good speller, many of the words she'd learned for the spelling bees were quite large, and she seldom had the right letters to spell them. Daniel, on the other hand, knew unusual words both large and small, some nearly unpronounceable, a few looking like long strings of consonants. Priscilla got madder and madder, not at all happy that she was being beaten by an eight-year-old. When Daniel put down the word "Ajtzak", which, he explained, was one of the thirteen gods who created humans in Mayan mythology – a fact he learned from his grandfather – Priscilla decided that she'd had enough. She jumped up from the table.
"It's not fair!" She turned to her mother. "Mom, it's not fair. He's using all these words that aren't even English."
"I beg to differ," Aaron said. "Ajtzak might be a Mayan name, but it's not the same as spelling something in a foreign language."
"Well, he should only be allowed to use the names of people and places in America."
"That's stupid," Sam responded. "You're just mad because he's beating you."
"Now, you have to admit that the child does have an unfair advantage," Ellen said, displeased by the whole thing. "He has knowledge about locations, mythology and history that the rest of us don't."
Jacob looked at her. "Sorry, Ellen, but aren't you the one who was saying that your daughter had an advantage over the rest of us because of her large vocabulary? I don't see the difference. Daniel is using words he knows, just like Priscilla and the rest of us are using words we know. Okay, so Daniel has an extensive knowledge of cultures and history that we don't. That's just the way it is."
"Well, I don't want to play anymore," Priscilla said, storming off. Her mother went after her.
Daniel was upset about what was happening. When he played with the Carters and beat them, they weren't mad, and they didn't say that it was unfair. Was it unfair? Maybe he should have just used regular words.
Both Laura and Jacob noticed how Daniel was sitting in dejected silence. The captain leaned down.
"Hey. Don't let what Priscilla and her mother said upset you," he murmured. "Priscilla's just a sore loser. You didn't do anything wrong. You played a great game."
"Boy, did he ever!" Aaron agreed, laughing. "I enjoyed every minute of that. You really cleaned her clock, Daniel."
The boy still wasn't happy about how the game turned out. "Can I go home now?"
"But I don't want you to leave," Sam said. "Priscilla's just being a jerk. Please don't leave because of her."
"Sam, if he wants to go home, you need to let him," Jacob told her. He turned back to Daniel. "I'll take you home if that's what you really want."
Daniel looked at Sam, whose eyes were pleading with him to stay.
"Sam's right," Mark said. "You should stay."
There was a moment of silence, then Daniel said, "I . . . I guess I can stay a little while longer."
Sam got out of her chair and gave him a hug.
As it turned out, it was Ellen and her kids who chose to leave, the woman claiming that the children were tired and needed to get to bed.
"So, we'll see you in the morning before you leave for Florida?" Jacob asked. The rest of his sister's holiday was going to be spent on warm, white sand beaches.
"Our flight leaves at 9:30. We could have an early breakfast, I suppose. The hotel has a restaurant."
"All right. I'll call you in the morning."
As much as Jacob hated to admit it, the remainder of the evening was a lot more pleasant without his sister and her kids there. Aaron, who was now quite fascinated with Daniel, asked him about the places he'd been, the cultures he'd seen. The man had done a fair bit of traveling for his job and had been to a few of the same places.
It was well past Daniel's bedtime when Jacob finally took him home. The boy was half-asleep when they arrived. Guiding the dopey child to the door, Jacob placed him into the keeping of his foster mother.
"Did he have fun?" Diane asked after Daniel staggered off to bed.
"Well, let's just say that the night had its ups and downs. Relatives can sometimes be a pain. But we enjoyed having him. Thanks for letting him join us."
Understandably, Daniel was a little leery of having dinner with the Greers the next day, though he figured that, because it wasn't Thanksgiving dinner, it might be okay. That changed when Kathleen told him that her cousin was in town and would be joining them.
"Actually, he's my second cousin," she explained. "We don't get to see him very often, so it's great that he could come."
"Is he nice?" Daniel asked nervously.
"Nice? Well, yes, I think he's nice. Quentin might have a thing or two to say about him since he tends to be a little irresponsible at times, but he is a good person. I think you'll like him."
Kathleen's words didn't really allay Daniel's misgivings, so he was still nervous when the doorbell rang an hour later. Kathleen was the one to answer it as Daniel watched from just inside the hallway. He couldn't see who was at the door from that location . . . and neither could they see him.
"Hey there, Kitty Kat!" said a cheerful male voice.
"John. How many times have I told you not to call me that?" Kathleen responded in a mild tone of exasperation.
"Oh, about a million times. But you'll always be Kitty Kat to me."
Kathleen hugged the person, then stepped back. "Come on in, you goof."
A tall, lanky man in his early twenties stepped into the house, a duffel bag slung over his shoulder. His gaze immediately landed upon Daniel.
"Well, hello there. Who might you be?" he asked with a warm, friendly smile.
"This is Daniel," Kathleen replied. "He's one of Quentin's students. He'll be having dinner with us. Daniel, this is my cousin John."
The man frowned at her. "John? Why do you keep calling me John? You know I hate that name." He strolled over to Daniel and stuck out his hand. "The name's Jack, Jack O'Neill."
Daniel hesitantly shook his hand. "I'm Daniel Jackson."
"Pleased to meet you, Mister Jackson."