Daniel and Sam took advantage of the boy's new ability to swim and went to the public swimming pool several times during the remainder of July, sometimes joined by Mark and, on a couple of occasions, by one or more of their friends from school.
The first Friday of August was quite hot. Paul, who'd gotten home early from work, decided to join Daniel and Sam at the pool with Adam and Caleb, whom he was planning on teaching how to swim. Not long after they'd left, Diane was surprised when the doorbell rang and she saw that it was Laura and Kathleen.
"Hi. We're not disturbing you, are we?" Laura asked.
"No, not at all. In fact, except for Susy, who's in her room, I have the place to myself. Paul decided to take Caleb and Adam to the city pool."
Kathleen handed the woman some index cards. "Those are the recipes I promised you. Laura and I were out shopping together, and since I knew that we'd be passing near here on the way back, I brought them with me."
"Thank you. Come on in."
The two women entered the house. Diane asked if they'd like some iced tea or lemonade. Once everyone had a cool beverage to drink, they took seats in the living room.
"Daniel has certainly been using his newly acquired swimming abilities," Laura said with a smile. "Between him and Sam going off swimming, or bike-riding, or playing in the park, it seems like I've barely seen my daughter since summer began."
Kathleen smiled as well. "And when Daniel's not with Sam, he's with me and Quentin. Quentin was even talking about getting a swing set to put in the backyard for him. Instead, he got a rope swing to put in the tree. Daniel tried it out for the first time yesterday and loved it. I really do enjoy having him over. He is such a great kid."
Laura nodded. "Yes, he is. He's been a blessing to Sam, that's for sure." She looked over at Diane and was surprised and dismayed to see that the woman was silently crying. "Diane, what's wrong?"
Apparently, the question broke the woman's control, because she started crying even harder. Kathleen, wondering what was wrong, had a sudden, horrible thought.
"Oh, Diane, it . . . it isn't a problem with the baby, is it?"
The woman shook her head. "No, the baby's fine." She pulled some tissues out of her purse and dabbed at her eyes and nose. "I talked to Social Services yesterday. I'd been holding off on telling them about the pregnancy, because . . . because I was afraid. You see, there is a limit to how many children Paul and I can foster, and we're at that limit now. I was afraid that, because I'm going to be having one of my own, they would say that I had to give up one of the kids."
Laura's heart was sinking. "And did they?"
Diane nodded. "They feel that taking care of a baby plus four children under ten would be too much for me, that the kids wouldn't get the care and attention they need. I begged them to reconsider, but then they asked me if I honestly thought I could handle it, and I had to admit that they're right. Even with Daniel being so helpful and mature for his age, I don't know how I'd be able to cope sometimes. Caleb will be starting school this year, and I'll be putting Adam in kindergarten as well, which will help for part of the day, but when they're not is school, it would be very difficult with five to take care of. The new baby will take up a lot of my time, and Susy needs so much of my time as well. It just wouldn't be fair to the boys. Oh, but it just breaks my heart that I'm going to have to give one of them up. I love them all like they're my own."
Diane started crying again, and the two other women moved to sit beside her, each of them putting an arm around her.
"Paul and I have been talking," Diane said through her tears, "trying to decide who to give up. After all the psychological problems Caleb had before, plus losing his mother like he did, I'm afraid that he'd regress if he was uprooted. And Paul has gotten so fond of him. Adam and Caleb are so close, like brothers. To separate them would just devastate me. But Daniel is such a wonderful boy, and he's already suffered so much loss." She took a deep, shaky breath. "But we knew that we had no choice but to pick one. Daniel is the most mature. I-I think . . . I pray that he'll be able to handle it the best." Tears began flowing down her cheeks in earnest. "We're going to tell him tonight, and I just don't know how I'm going to look into that darling boy's eyes and tell him that he has to go to a new home."
Laura was horrified by the news. After losing so much in his life, Daniel was now going to lose yet another set of parents and get uprooted from another home. What if he ended up going to a foster home in another part of the state. Then he really would lose everything. And Sam would lose her best friend.
"When does this have to happen?" Laura asked with a lump in her throat.
"Not for a while. His caseworker is going to start looking for a really good placement, people who will be able to handle the special circumstances of taking care of a gifted child. She also wants to give him plenty of time to accept and come to terms with the move. Perhaps a couple of months, three at the most."
An hour later, Laura was home. She tried to do some housework, but it was useless. Her mind kept going to Daniel. She thought back to that time months ago when the idea of adopting him came to her. Even though she'd given up on that dream, she still thought about it from time to time, how wonderful it would be to have him as a part of their family. If only there was some way they could do it.
When Sam and Mark came home, Laura managed to keep her feelings hidden from them, but she couldn't from her husband. It was after the kids were in bed that he approached her.
"Okay, so what's wrong?" he asked. "You were trying really hard to hide it, but I know that something's bothering you."
Laura sighed and sat down, Jacob settling beside her on the couch.
"I got some bad news today. Because Diane is going to be having a baby, she has to give up one of the foster children." Laura looked at the man beside her. "They're giving up, Daniel, Jacob."
Jacob uttered a low curse. "When?"
"Not right away. The caseworker has begun looking for a family that will be a good match for him." Laura's voice trembled. "Diane and Paul were going to tell him tonight, Jacob. I think about what he must be feeling right now, and it breaks my heart."
Jacob gathered her into his arms, understanding what she was feeling. He was feeling the same thing. That poor kid. He loses his parents and his life in Egypt and, now, when he'd finally reached the point where he was happy and well-adjusted, he was going to lose yet another family and another home.
"I wish that. . . ." Laura began.
Jacob looked down at his wife. "You wish what?"
She shook her head and drew away from him, wiping her face. "Nothing, just a silly wish for something I know can't be."
The captain turned his wife to him. "Tell me, Laura," he requested gently.
"I just wish we could adopt him. I know it's not possible. I thought about it months ago, but there's simply no way that we could afford it. We couldn't possibly save up enough money for yet another college education, and Daniel should go to a really good school, one that will give him the best education possible. I know that he might get a scholarship. So might Sam. But we couldn't count on that."
Jacob shook his head. "Oh, Laura. You and I are a real pair."
She looked at him. "What do you mean?"
"I mean that I've thought along the same lines as you for months now. I even did some numbers crunching to figure out how we could manage to do it."
Laura was stunned by the admission. "Why didn't you ever tell me?"
"Because I knew that you'd love the idea, and I didn't want to get your hopes up." Jacob took her hands. "Laura, you have no idea how much I would love to make Daniel our son, but I'm afraid that it probably wouldn't be possible, and not because of the money. I talked to some people on base about it, and they said that it can be darn near impossible for military families with our history to adopt."
Laura started getting even more upset. "But why?"
"Because of the frequent moves from state to state. There's a brand new law that's been enacted that enables some kids to be adopted across state lines, but many agencies are still leery of letting a family that will be moving out of state adopt. On top of that, there are a lot of adoption rules and criteria that most military families can't meet. I don't how it is with adopting a foster child, whether it's easier or harder. It's not impossible for military families to adopt. Some have succeeded, but it was usually after a long and difficult battle."
The news made Laura's heart sink. Even if they could manage to afford it, chances were that they wouldn't be able to adopt Daniel anyway.
She went back into her husband's arms. "It's just not fair, Jacob."
He let out a deep sigh. "I know, honey. I know."
Quentin sat staring at nothing. The news Kathleen gave him a few hours ago had torn him apart. Since then, all he'd done was think about Daniel. By now, the boy had probably been told as well. Thinking about what he must be going through made the teacher want to take Daniel in his arms and just hold him. It simply wasn't fair. Daniel deserved so much. He deserved a happy, stable life with a family that would always be his. What if they couldn't find a new foster home for him here in Rome? Even though Quentin had made that deal with Daniel's caseworker regarding the boy's education, it didn't mean that, if there was no other option, Daniel wouldn't be moved out of the area. If that happened, he'd lose all the people he'd come to love. And they'd all lose him as well.
The thought of losing Daniel, of never seeing him again, hurt so much that Quentin felt like his heart was quite literally going to explode inside his chest.
The teacher stood and walked over to his desk. He picked up one of the photos that sat there. It had been taken at Daniel's birthday party on the beach. Lots of photos were taken on that vacation, rolls and rolls of them, but, out of them all, this was his favorite. It was just the three of them, him, Kathleen and Daniel. Daniel was perched on his shoulders, and Kathleen was standing in front of him, Quentin's arms around her, all of them grinning and happy. They looked like a family.
Kathleen quietly came in. "How are you doing?"
Quentin sighed. "Not so well."
"I know. I feel so awful for him. I felt like crying when Diane told us."
Quentin went to the fireplace and stared at the unlit logs. "He deserves better than this, Kat. He deserves . . . he deserves the world, the best life any child could have." His gaze returned to the photo.
Kathleen walked up to him and saw what he was looking at. "You really do love him, don't you," she said gently.
Quentin lifted his eyes to hers. "Is it that obvious?"
"Only about as obvious as you standing in a crowd of midgets. I've seen how you are with your students, Quentin, and I know that you care about all of them, but I've never seen you like you are with Daniel. Whenever he's around, your face goes all soft and mushy."
The teacher barked out a laugh. "Soft and mushy? That sounds quite disgusting, like my face is a bowl of cereal that's soaked too long in the milk."
"Well, maybe a bowl of Wheaties."
"I guess that's better than a bowl of corn flakes." Quentin became serious. "I didn't intend for it to happen, you know."
"I know, but he's a very special little boy."
"Yes, he is, and he deserves so much more than he has. I wish. . . ."
Kat studied her husband's face, knowing what he'd kept himself from saying. "You wish he was ours."
Quentin looked into her eyes. He knew how much anguish her inability to conceive caused her. They'd never talked about alternatives. "I know how much you want us to have a baby of our own, Kat, but we could give Daniel a good home. With my academic connections, I could make sure that his gifts are developed to their fullest. I've already mentioned him to Walt Branson at UCLA, as well as some others, and they're all very intrigued. UCLA has an excellent linguistics program. Daniel has so much potential, and I want to see that he gets the best education possible."
"And you want to see him loved," Kat added softly.
Quentin sighed. "Yes. I want him to be loved. I want him to have a real family." He met his wife's eyes again. "I do love him, Kat, more than I could have imagined. I want him to be my son. I want him to be our son. I know it's not the same thing as having a baby of our own, but I think that he could make us happy."
Kat walked to the window. She lifted the curtain and looked out at the street and houses in the light of the setting sun. For over six years, they'd tried for a baby, six years of bitter disappointments. With every year that passed, her hopes of having a child had grown dimmer and dimmer. She was now in her thirties, and her window for having a baby was gradually closing. She didn't want to die never having had the joy of being a mother.
Daniel was a wonderful little boy. Just his presence here seemed to make the place happier and brighter. The sound of childish laughter in the house had been so sweet. They could have that every day. And if she was really honest with herself, she'd admit that she had come to love him dearly, too. Every time he was here, she didn't want him to leave.
Quentin came up behind his wife and wrapped his arms around her waist. "I know that the idea of adoption can be scary, Kat, but please say you'll consider it. It doesn't mean that we have to give up on having a baby of our own."
Kat was silent for several seconds longer, then she left her husband's arms and went to the phone. She picked up the address book and opened it.
"Who are you calling?" Quentin asked.
"Daniel's caseworker. I figured that we should talk to her about what would be involved in an adoption."
Quentin stared at her in surprise, then a huge grin split his face. He covered the distance between them and lifted her clear off the floor, spinning her around as he laughed. He kissed her soundly.
"Thank you," he whispered.
When Sam's parents told her the news about Daniel the next morning, she was horrified and deeply upset, knowing how heartbroken Daniel must be. What if he was sent to a foster home far away? She might never see him again.
She wanted to go over to his house and see him, to hug him and squeeze him so tight that his eyes almost popped out. But when she called the Underwoods, Diane told her that Daniel was not up to visitors. The woman had sounded all stuffed up, like she had been crying a lot.
Sam was right about that. Diane had cried buckets since she and Paul told Daniel the news last night. The look in his eyes had speared right through her. She had told him repeatedly that it was not because they didn't love him. She'd said that, if she could, she'd keep him forever. But all he'd done was nod and then go off to his room. They hadn't seen him since then. She'd knocked on his door this morning, asking if he wanted breakfast, but he said no. She got the same answer when she asked if he'd like to see Sam. Terribly worried about him, she'd checked on him a little while ago, asking if he'd changed his mind about having something to eat. He'd just shaken his head from his place on the bed, his arms wrapped tightly about his waist, eyes on the floor.
She didn't know what to do. He was withdrawing back into his shell, and she didn't know how to stop it.
Diane looked over at the phone. Perhaps Quentin could do something. He and Daniel had developed a special bond. Surely if anyone could give Daniel comfort it would be him.
She called the number for the Greers, but got no answer. Sighing, she hung up, but her hand did not leave the receiver. Instead, she picked it up again and dialed another number.
"Captain Carter? It's Diane."
"Hello, Diane." There was a long pause. "How is Daniel doing?"
"Not well, I'm afraid. He took the news really hard. He won't talk to us, Jacob. He hasn't left his room. I know he doesn't want to see anyone, but he and Sam are so close, and I thought that maybe being with her would help."
"Say no more. I'll bring her right over."
Sam and her father arrived ten minutes later.
"You go on in there, Sammie," Jacob told his daughter.
Sam went to Daniel's room and tentatively knocked on the door. When she didn't get an answer, she peeked inside. Daniel was sitting on the floor, his back against the bed. He was hugging his knees and staring at them.
Sam came up to him and sat down next to him.
"I have to go to another foster home," he whispered.
"I know. Mom and Dad told me this morning."
"I thought I was going to get to stay here. Mrs. Underwood told me a long time ago that even if I someday had to go to another foster home, I'd get to stay here in Rome because of the agreement Mister Greer made, but what if the foster care people change their minds?" He started crying. "I might have to m-move far away. Then I'll n-never s-see anybody again."
Sam threw her arms around Daniel and began crying as well.
'He can't go away,' Sam thought. 'He just can't!'
It was a couple of minutes later that Jacob looked in the room and saw the two crying children locked in a tight embrace. He felt his heart crack wide open.
He headed outside and just stood on the lawn. He felt so helpless and frustrated. He wanted to do something, but he didn't know what. How could he make this better?
The captain thought about what he and Laura had discussed. It wouldn't be easy. It would be an uphill battle, probably with a lot of disappointments, but if they won, if they could get past all the things standing in the way, Daniel would be theirs, and he would never have to go through this pain again. Yes, it would mean they'd have to really struggle to save enough for three college educations, but it would be worth it. And there was one thing to consider. If Sam was really serious about being an astronaut, she would have to join the Air Force. She could attend the Academy, meaning that there would be no worries about paying her college tuition. Of course, it wasn't a sure thing that she'd get in. The Academy didn't take all applicants. But as brilliant as she was, they'd be crazy not to snatch her up.
Deciding that it would be good for Sam and Daniel to have some time together, Jacob told Diane that he'd be back in an hour. He then went for a drive around town, running through everything in his head. By the time he returned, he'd made up his mind that he'd talk to Laura about trying to adopt Daniel.
Sam wanted to stay with Daniel, and the boy was all right with it, so Jacob left for home, intending to return later that afternoon.
Mark was watching some program on TV with a friend when Jacob got home, so he didn't feel comfortable talking to Laura about what he'd decided.
"How's Daniel doing?" she asked.
"Better, I think. Having Sam there seems to be doing him a lot of good."
An hour later, Mark and his friend headed outside. As soon as he was sure they were really gone, Jacob turned to his wife.
"Laura, I've been thinking about it, and I think we should try to adopt Daniel. It might take a long time, and I know it won't be easy on any of us, but I think it's worth fighting for."
"And the money?"
Jacob told her about what he'd been thinking.
"But there's no guarantee that she won't change her mind, Jacob," Laura pointed out. "I wanted to be a bareback rider in the circus when I was her age."
"Yes, and I wanted to be a fireman, just like several million other boys. I know that we can't be sure of anything, and it might end up putting a real strain on our budget, but I really think it would be worth it."
Laura studied his face for a long moment. And then she smiled.
"Okay, let's go for it. We'll call Mrs. Merrick on Monday."
Jacob and Laura didn't say a word to the kids about their decision. Before they said anything at all, they needed to talk to Daniel's caseworker.
The next day, Sam wanted to go back over to Daniel's, so her parents gave her permission to ride over there on her bike. Mark was off with his friends, so it was just Laura and Jacob at home when they received a surprise visit from the Greers. Jacob knew that something was up the second he laid eyes on them. They were nearly bursting with excitement, and Quentin's eyes were bright with happiness.
"We just had to tell you!" Kathleen exclaimed once they were in the house.
"Tell us what?" Laura asked, smiling at the woman's excitement.
It was Quentin who answered. "We went to see Daniel's caseworker yesterday." A big grin spread across his face and, at the same time as his wife, said, "We're going to adopt Daniel."
Surprised, Jacob and Laura just gaped at them, their minds thrown off course by the announcement.
"We decided Friday night," Quentin continued, unaware of how the news had affected the Carters. "We called Lucy Merrick at home, and she was so delighted that she asked us to make the trip over to her office yesterday even though she doesn't normally work there on Saturdays. Kat and I spent half of Friday night gathering all the records and other paperwork she said they'd need. Of course, it's not a done deal yet, but Lucy seems to think that we'll have no trouble at all adopting him. She says that, what with my job as an educator and the huge advantages it could give to Daniel in his academic future, we're a perfect match."
As Jacob looked over at his wife, the thought that went through his mind wasn't one of disappointment. Instead, it was the realization that this was how it should be, the future Daniel was meant to have. And it was perfect. He would have two parents who adored him and would give him a bright future, and, in return, he'd give them the joy of having a child, a joy that they'd been unable to have before now. Laura had told him about Kathleen's inability to conceive. Yes, Jacob did feel a touch of sadness that he and Laura wouldn't be making Daniel a member of their family, but that was all right. Daniel would have a happy life with the Greers, and that's what was most important.
Looking into his wife's eyes, Jacob saw that she was thinking the same thing. Smiling, they both turned back to the other couple.
"Congratulations," the captain said, truly meaning it.
The two women hugged, and the men shared a hearty handshake, Jacob giving Quentin a pat on the shoulder. They all went into the living room and took seats.
"We told Diane and Paul last night," Kathleen said. She smiled. "Diane was so happy that she started crying. She's going to let us tell Daniel."
"Will you be doing that today?" Jacob asked, thinking that he'd love to see the joy he knew that news was going to put on the boy's face.
"We'd really love to, but we don't know if we should. Like Quentin said, it's not a done deal yet. If we told him, and, for some reason, the whole thing fell through, we know that it would just crush him."
"But we have to talk to him about it to make sure that he's okay with it," Quentin added.
Jacob laughed. "Are you crazy? He'll be on the moon. Quentin, that kid just about idolizes you. The way he goes on about you, I'd almost think that you already are his father."
The teacher smiled, pleased by the comment. He very much wanted Daniel to think of him as a father. He knew that, in some ways, he could never replace Melburn Jackson, but he hoped that Daniel would come to love and accept him as a second father.
Quentin and Kathleen didn't talk to Daniel that day, deciding that it would be best to wait until they'd talked to his caseworker again, who was supposed to get back to them later in the week.
Upon hearing from Diane the next day that Daniel was still very depressed, Quentin invited him over, hoping to cheer him up, though the teacher still had no plans to tell his student about the adoption. When Quentin first laid eyes on the sad little boy, he had to bite his tongue not to blurt out the good news. It took a monumental effort not to say a word about it during Daniel's time at the house, especially since the child's mood lifted only marginally.
The next day, Quentin stopped by the Underwoods to check up on Daniel. As soon as he saw the boy, he knew that not much had changed. Daniel was trying to put on a brave face, but the sorrow and worry were still in his eyes.
Less than five minutes after returning home, Quentin suddenly shouted, "I can't take it anymore!"
Kathleen started violently, then stared at him.
"Kat, we have to tell him. I know we'd be taking a chance, but I look in those sad eyes of his, and I swear that I'm going to explode if I don't tell him."
His wife smiled. "Why do you think I made myself scarce while he was here yesterday? I knew that if I looked at him for more than ten minutes at a time, I was going to spill the beans."
Quentin laughed. "Then we'll tell him tomorrow?"
Kat nodded. "Tomorrow."
Daniel let out a silent sigh as he waited in the living room for Mister Greer to pick him up for another day spent at his teacher's house. He was trying not to feel so sad, to accept that he'd be losing another home and a life with a man and woman whom he had come to care about a lot, though he had never been able to think of them as real parents. Where would he go now? Who would he have to accept as his new "family"? Would they be nice? How long would he stay with them before something happened and he'd have to go to yet another home? Would he ever have a real home, someplace he could stay forever?
And what if he had to move far away? He'd never see Sam and her family again. He'd never see the Greers again. That hurt so much that he had to fight not to start crying again.
After his parents died, he'd believed that if he never let himself love anyone, then he'd never get hurt again when they went away. He'd already had to say goodbye to Kenny. He was now going to have to say goodbye to the Underwoods, and he might have to say goodbye to everyone. And then he'd be all alone again.
Maybe he'd been right before. If he hadn't let himself love anybody, this wouldn't hurt so much.
Mister Greer gave him a big smile when he arrived, and Daniel tried to smile back, but he couldn't. The drive to his tutor's house was made in silence, Daniel staring out the side window. Once they'd arrived, his teacher asked him to go into the study, saying that he'd be back in a moment. When the man entered the study a couple of minutes later, Kathleen was with him.
"Daniel, Kathleen and I need to talk to you about something," Quentin said. "Come sit down with us." He and his wife settled on the love seat, leaving room between them for him.
Daniel stared at their faces, which looked so serious. Getting worried, he sat between them. He was afraid that Mister Greer was going to tell him that he couldn't be his tutor anymore. Or what if they were moving away? Was he already going to lose them?
Quentin looked down and saw that Daniel seemed to be on the verge of tears. "Hey, why are you getting sad?"
Daniel sniffled. "Because you're going to tell me that you can't be my tutor anymore or that you're moving away."
"What gave you that idea?"
"Because Kenny moved away, and now I have to move to a new home, and . . . and. . . ."
Quentin sighed. "And you thought that you were now going to lose something else." He gave the child a hug. "You're not going to lose us, too, Daniel. In fact, we have a very important question to ask you."
"How would you like to come live with us?"
Surprised, Daniel looked up at him. "You mean all the time?"
"You'd be my new foster family?"
"No, Daniel, not your foster family. Kat and I want to adopt you."
Daniel's eyes grew huge. "A-adopt me?"
Quentin smiled down at him. "Yes. You'd be our son, Daniel, and we'd be your parents."
"I'd never be taken away, and you'd never leave?"
"We can't live forever, Daniel, but for as long as we live, we'd be your family."
Daniel blue eyes met Quentin's, eyes filled with aching need. "And I'd never be alone?"
A big lump formed in Quentin's throat, and he pulled the boy close. "You'd never be alone," he said in an emotion-filled voice.
Daniel buried his face against his tutor's shirt, hugging him tightly around the waist. They were going to be his new family, a real family, not just a foster family.
Just then, Daniel had a thought. If they were going to be his new mother and father, what about his real parents? What did this mean in regards to them?
He lifted his head to look at Quentin. "If you become my parents, what about my real mom and dad?"
"The adoption wouldn't change what your mom and dad were to you, Daniel," Kathleen replied. "They will always be the parents who gave you life and loved you for the first eight years of your life. We'd be your second set of parents."
"Would Nick still be my grandpa?"
Quentin and Kathleen exchanged a glance over the child's head.
"Yes, he'd still be your grandfather, Daniel," the teacher replied. "On top of that, you'd gain three new grandparents. There's my mother, and both of Kathleen's parents are still living. As you know, my mother lives in New York City, so you'd probably see her quite a bit. Kat's mom and dad live in Maine, but they come to visit sometimes, and we go to visit them."
Daniel couldn't imagine what it would be like to have four grandparents. Nick was the only grandparent he'd ever known, all the others having died either when he was too young to remember them or before he was born.
"And you'd have other relatives, too," Kathleen said with a smile.
Quentin laughed. "Yep, including Jack. He'd be your second cousin once removed, which is probably as close a relationship as you'd want to him."
Kathleen swatted his arm. "Quentin! What a thing to say!"
Daniel began playing with one if his shirt buttons, his eye lowered. "After you adopt me, would I still call you Mister and Mrs. Greer?"
Quentin paused, sharing a look with his wife. Instead of answering Daniel's question, he asked one of his own. "What would you like to call us?"
Daniel's voice dropped to a whisper. "Could I . . . could I call you Mom and Dad?"
Kathleen started crying, and Quentin was right on the verge of doing the same. He enfolded the child back into his arms.
"Yes, Danny," he answered in a voice that trembled. "Yes, you can call us Mom and Dad. There's nothing in the world that we'd like more."
After another long hug, Quentin cleared the lump from his throat and put on a big smile. "Hey, how about if we go do something together? I'm in the mood to celebrate."
Daniel smiled brightly. "Can we go to the Carters so I can tell Sam?"
"Sure, we can. But let's wait until after Captain Carter is home. I bet he'll want to be there to see you tell her. He and Laura already know, but have been keeping it a secret."
After calling Diane and letting her know their plans, Quentin and Kathleen took Daniel out to lunch. After that, they got some ice cream and went to the park, where the teacher spun Daniel around on the merry-go-round so fast that the boy thought for sure it would go flying right up into the air.
Once they were certain that Jacob would be home, they went to the base. Jacob smiled when he saw them, the bright, happy look on Daniel's face telling him that the boy had been given the good news.
"Daniel has something he wants to tell Sam," Quentin said, also smiling.
Laura called to the girl, who came running out of her bedroom. She was surprised to see the Greers and her best friend and wondered what was going on, especially when she noticed the way that Daniel was all but bouncing with excitement.
"Go on and tell her, Daniel," Quentin said in amusement.
"They're going to adopt me!" Daniel exclaimed.
Sam's eyes flew open wide. Then she started bouncing up and down.
"Oh, wow, oh, wow, oh, wow!"
The two kids leapt into each other's arms and bounced together, all of the adults laughing at the sight. Once the vertical motion had halted and they'd let each other go, Sam ran up to the Greers and hugged each of them.
They all decided to have dinner together. They invited the Underwoods, who stopped to get Kentucky Fried Chicken on the way over.
After the meal, the kids played while the adults chatted.
Diane looked over at Daniel and smiled. "I just can't tell you how wonderful this is," she said. "He's like a different boy from yesterday. This was an answer to my prayers." She looked at the boy's future parents. "God bless you for doing this."
"Daniel is the one who will be blessing us, Diane," Quentin responded. "I can't express how wonderful it will be to have him as our son." He laughed. "If we could, we'd have him move in tomorrow. However long it is that we have to wait before he can come live with us, it'll be too long." His expression dimmed. "I just hope that there won't be any problems."
The comment worried Diane. "You mean there's some chance that . . ." she glanced at Daniel and lowered her voice, "that Social Services will decide against it?"
"Daniel's caseworker is pretty confident that everything will be fine, but we can't be a hundred percent certain yet."
"Don't you guys worry," Jacob said. "There's no way they could say no. I'd bet anyone on the street a hundred dollars that everything will go through just fine."
"Well, I, for one, wouldn't be stupid enough to take that bet," remarked Paul, confident that everything would work out just fine.