On December, 22nd
“I got the Invoice and Packing list now, dad. There is still enough time before the closing hour tonight,” said Jensen to his father on the phone. He was ready to go home after emailing the completed documents to the shipping company to get it processed for the shipment tonight.
“Forget about it! You must go to the port now, Jensen. There’s a problem with the goods. Something about the Phytosanitary–”
“What!” shouted Jensen a bit louder into the phone. Cold and heavy feeling settled in his stomach. “But I have the Phytosanitary letter sent ahead yesterday!”
He was talking on the phone with his father about the latest shipment. It was three days before Christmas and that meant the closing date was tonight and would not be open again until the holiday was over.
“I don’t know Jensen! We’re held up at the gate right now. The ship is departing tonight with or without our goods and we’ve ten containers on stand by without clearance because some fucked up shit failed to do their job right. That means a breach of contract with Matsukichi.”
“I know that. I’ve read the L/C too, dad. Why me then?” Jensen asked, snorting loudly. “We have men for field jobs like this.”
“Do you see anyone right now? Wilson is sick and Gonzales is probably forty thousand feet above us right now. Their family left this morning for Madrid.”
“Who signed his damn leave…” muttered Jensen with a sigh.
“Don’t be like that Jensen. How would I know this would happen? Besides, that guy hasn’t seen his family for two years. Have a heart will you?”
Oh, that was so low. As if Jensen did not have a plan of his own and his father knew that. He had told his father yesterday that he was going to visit Jared’s parents tomorrow. That was why he prepared the documents needed for the latest shipment earlier in the week so that he could save enough time to be with his family tonight and help Jared with preparation before leaving for San Antonio tomorrow morning.
“I don’t have time to call Allen back, who knows where he is right now. You’re the only one available in office and you know the details of the contract. And like you said, there is still enough time before the closing hour. If you’re hurry you’ll be home before midnight.”
Jensen put his elbows on the table, rubbing his forehead tiredly. “I don’t want to be home before midnight, dad,” Jensen sighed wearily. “Jared and I have a plan to go shopping with the kids. Tomorrow we’re going to visit Jared’s parents, remember?”
“You choose visiting them before Christmas instead of your own parents?”
“Come on, dad. We’ve been at this before.” Jensen sat back on his high backed plush chair, looking at the pristine white ceiling above while shaking his head in disbelieve. His father was acting like a jealous teenager. He swore that the old man took everything Jensen did with the Padaleckis as something that he had to compete with. “We’ve been celebrating Christmas at your house the last two years, right?” said Jensen wearily while rubbing his face. “We’ll be at your house at the twenty-eight until new years. I’ve promised the kids tonight. Would you please call Allen? This is his responsibility, anyway. He is probably at some bar drinking right now.”
“I will not send a drunken man to the port Jensen! You have to do it!”
“Look, your kids can go ahead with Jared. You can meet with them later at the shopping mall or wherever you guys decide to meet. No big deal. The sooner you go to the port now, the sooner you’ll be with them.”
Jensen sighed tiredly. “Damn it!”
Jensen ran his hand through his short hair. He did not miss the way his father said ‘your kids’. What did his father think of Jared? His babysitter? It’s been six years but Jonathan Ackles still did not have a place in his heart for Jared. For him, Jared was not more than Jensen’s fling despite the fact that they had been married for six years now and had three children together.
“Alright,” sighed Jensen reluctantly, “I’ll call Jared and ask him to meet me at the café in front of the shopping mall.”
“Make it quick! The clock is ticking. Those ten containers must aboard the ship tonight or the penalty will be on you.”
Jensen threw away the phone right after his father hanged up. Breathing hard with repressed anger, Jensen thought it would be nice to punch someone right now. He had a sneaking suspicion that his father did this on purpose. There should have been no problem at all. Jensen had made sure to complete the documents needed before the stuffing date today. Moreover, everybody who usually handled this kind of thing had suddenly disappeared.
Jensen did not understand what made his father hate Jared’s gut with gusto. Jared was the sweetest person Jensen had ever had the pleasure to meet his whole life. He was kind and generous and had a heart made of gold. He loved to help people unconditionally, which made him a great nurse.
Jensen closed his eyes and took a couple of deep breath to calm himself down. He had to call Jared to tell him that he would not be home in time. Jared would be understanding, if not a little upset, but the children would be disappointed and Jensen hated to disappoint their children. He gathered his documents, packing up his laptop before leaving his office.
He dialed Jared’s number on his phone while descending the stairs to the basement. He remembered the first time he met Jared seven and a half years ago at a hospital in Houston where he had landed himself there due to a car accident. When Jensen woke up, he found himself alone in a sterile hospital bed and the first thing he saw besides the white ceiling of his room was Jared’s dimpled smile. Jensen would say that Jared had nursed him to health back then, despite Jared’s insistence that he was only doing his job. What could Jensen say? He was head over heels in love with his male nurse. He asked him out a week after he got his release papers from the hospital and refused to let Jared out of his sight ever since. Jensen decided that he had to have this guy before anybody else realized what a wonderful guy Jared was and snatched him away. If only his father could see the same thing as Jensen.
He was on his way to his car when the phone was picked up and Jensen heard laughter on the other end of the line followed by a little girl’s shriek. He smiled knowing that Jared must be playing with the children while waiting for him. It made his stomach churn with guilt.
“Hi!” greeted Jared, “We’re ready! Debbie is helping Janet getting into her Angel outfit right now but don’t worry, we’ll be ready when you get home.”
“Janet is dressing as an angel?” asked Jensen amused and shortly distracted by their four year old’s antics.
“She won’t be dissuaded. I’ve tried. She says … Andy, stop teasing your sister! … says every family needs an angel for Christmas shopping.”
And Jensen laughed, “God, I love my little girl. Give her kisses from me, would you?”
“Sure but you’re coming home now, right? You’ll see her soon.”
“Well, about that, I know you will hate me for this but I think I won’t be able to come home right now. Things came up and I have to be at the dock to clear up some problem before closing time.”
“But … what about the kids? We promised them, Jen. What should I tell the kids?” asked Jared frantic.
“You can go ahead to the shopping mall. I’ll finish here as soon as I can and we still can meet at the café in front of the mall. You know the one with the rainbow paintings on the window?”
“It’s not that Jen,” exclaimed Jared, clearly upset. When he realized that his upset tone might worry their children, he lowered his voice and went into their bedroom.
“It’s okay if you made the promise with me, I can understand, but Janet had asked for you about ten times today. She wants to go with her papa, not meeting him at some place later. She wants us to go together like family. You’ll break her heart,” Jared pleaded.
“I know and I am very sorry. Can I talk to her?”
Jensen waited a few seconds for Jared to get their youngest to the phone. There was a Christmas song playing in the background. It must be coming from the CD player in the living room. Jensen heard Jared telling their little girl that he was on the phone. There was a shriek of giddiness before the phone changed hands.
“Papa! You coming? I wear my angel dress,” said a cute exuberant little voice on the other line.
“Oh, really? You wearing it for me?”
“Nooo… I wear them for family. We goes shoppin as family,” said the determined four year old.
“Right, silly me,” Jensen rolled his eyes and smiled. “Well, we will go together as family but papa will be just a tiny bit late, so … can you, your brothers and daddy go ahead and meet me at the rainbow café?” asked Jensen carefully, not wanting his little girl to be upset.
“Why late papa? You still on road?” Janet’s voice was subdued now.
“Yes honey, um … papa must do something first here and it may take a little while so I am afraid that you’ll be late for shopping if you wait for me-”
“But I want to wait for you! Papa please we go together, please please…” the little girl sounded close to tears.
Jensen winced. His heart breaking a little more listening to his daughter’s pleads. “We will honey, I promise but you go ahead with daddy, okay? It will be the same. You can wait for me there then we’ll go shopping together as family.”
The line was silent for a full minute and Jensen was worried that he had broken his little Janet’s heart. Jensen realized that trust was important in family. That was the first thing he and Jared had agreed upon when they were starting a family together. Children, though they forgive easily, they are also hurt easily. They needed stability from their parents and that meant no empty promises. They needed to be able to always trust their parents’ promises. Until now, Jensen had never broken any promise he had made to their children and he knew neither Jared had not either. He opted not to make any promises when he was not sure he could keep it. It was better to explain it to them up front than disappointing them later.
Then, Janet’s cute voice was heard again, “you promise?”
“Yes, honey. I promise,” said Jensen. In his heart, he kept saying prayers for things to go smoothly tonight without anymore hassle. He would hate to be the first one to break a promise.
“Okay, I love you sweetheart.”
“Love you too, papa.”
“Where are your brothers?”
“Andy! Zekey! Papa wants to talk to you!”
Janet screamed for her brothers right next to the phone’s mic and Jensen had to put away his cell phone from his ears. There was a scuffle and Jared’s voice was heard in the distance telling the boys to take turn.
“Hello, papa?” synchronized twin voices were heard over the phone line. Jensen’s six years olds twin boys’ formal greeting.
“You boys good?” asked Jensen in a fake stern voice.
“Yes papa,” they answered in stereo.
“Daddy told us to get ready. He said we’re gonna meet you at the mall?”
That was Zeke, always the curious one.
“Yes, I have to take care of a problem at the dock. Can I trust you two to be on your best behavior? Not straying away from your Daddy and always keeping your sister in your sight?”
“Andy, no teasing your sister.”
“Don’t worry, papa, I’ll keep him in line,” said Zeke snickering at his twin.
There was a shuffle followed by a clatter of metal objects hitting the floor, then there was the sound of Jared’s yelling at the boys.
“Hello? J, what’s goin on?” Jensen called when he heard Jared’s voice getting louder.
“… or we won’t go anywhere tonight!”
“Daaaaaad …” There was a chorus of whiny boys and a couple of stern words from Jared which made Jensen chuckled in mirth.
“Hello? Jensen, you still there?”
“Yes, what happenned?” Jensen asked with an amused smirk. He could already guess what had happened just then.
“The usual. Roughhousing each other and dropping my phone on the floor,” grumbled Jared, “Look, Jen, I’ll go with the kids now but please finish up whatever you have to do and meet us as soon as you can. Do you know what’ll happen at the mall tonight? A nightmare!”
“Yeah,” Jensen winced, “Sorry baby, I’ll do as best I can. I am sorry, J.”
“It’s okay,” Jared muttered quietly, “Just, … you take care, yeah?”
“You guys too and hey, … I love you,” said Jensen in a soft voice, coaxing a smile on Jared’s lips to bloom.
“I love you too, Jen.”
Jared bundled the children in the car and drove Debbie, their babysitter, to her apartment.
“I’ll call when I am back from my parents’ house,” called Debbie from the side road where Jared had dropped her off in front of her apartment building.
“No, don’t you worry about us. I’ve been slaving myself this last year just to get a week more for extended holiday. I have two weeks of instead one,” Jared told her, “Enjoy your holiday Debbie.”
“Merry Christmas, Debbie!” called the children from the back seat.
“Merry Christmas kids!” Debbie waved looking in through the window. “Have a nice holiday too, Jared.”
Jared waved and restarted the car. The kids stayed waving to their babysitter until the car turned at the corner of the street.
“Daddy can Debbie cele … ceb … have Christmas with us?” asked Janet with an annoyed huff after her embarrassing failure to say the correct word much to the fun of her brothers.
“It’s celebrating, you twerp!” Andy snickered teasingly.
“Shut up!” shouted Janet seriously embarrassed of her lack of vocabulary.
Janet was competitive. She always wanted to know everything there was to know. She was a bit like Zeke in that department, actually, except Janet had a competitive streak unrivaled even by either of her brothers. Jensen thought that was a good thing because every time any of her brothers teased her for something she did not know, she made it her goal to learn it. Jensen adored her while Jared just worried that her competitive tendency would hinder her social development. He was worried that Janet would be a sore loser. It was bad enough to compete with twin obnoxious older brothers. But Jensen assured him that Janet was just a kid, barely four years old. She still had a lot of growing up to do. They cannot expect their children to be perfect, after all.
“She is celebrating Christmas with her family darling,” Jared told her.
“But we family too,” said Janet, genuinely confused.
“Of course she is baby and she’ll be delighted to hear that but she has a daddy and a mommy too. They’d want her to celebrate Christmas with them,” Jared explained to her.
“Yes, baby,” Jared smiled at her from the rear view mirror. “And that’s why we are going to see Grandpa Shane and Jake tomorrow. Aren’t you guys excited?”
“Yay!” Janet yelled out her excitement with both arms raised above her head.
Jared saw Andy’s hand creeping behind his sister’s back and pulled at her curly dark hair. She turned to glare at him while Andy grinned innocently.
“Gramps cool,” said Zeke with a smirk on his plump lips, courtesy of Jensen’s generous DNA.
Jared did not really mind that their boys favored Jensen in the looks department since he personally thought of Jensen as the most beautiful man on the planet. He might be biased but he was always filled with these warm and mushy feelings inside whenever he saw Andy’s adorable freckles or Zeke’s expressive green eyes complete with the longish eyelashes. His only contribution was on the boys’ dark hair, which was only a tone lighter than his own hair. He always joked that they needed to have more children in order to balance out the favor; an idea with which Jensen agreed wholeheartedly if only to get Jared with child.
Jensen loved children and he loved having lots of them. Three years after the twins were born Jensen started talking about trying for a girl. Jared suggested that they wait for one more year until the boys were at least four years old. Then they met Janet. Actually, Jensen found her. A year old baby, barely able to walk, crawled out of her parents’ overturned car bawling her eyes out. Jensen was on his way home that night and he was the first one to find them and called 911. They brought her and her parents to the hospital where Jared worked. The parents died on the way to the hospital and Janet, being orphaned had nowhere to go and no living family to claim. Jared then volunteered to provide shelter for the poor baby and the rest was history. Not even once they thought of Janet as not their own, even they boys adored her in their own quirky way.
The road was packed, especially around the business centre where people were running around collecting goods for the holiday. Jared was driving around the block looking for an empty slot to park his car. So far, nada. It was getting difficult to concentrate with three over excited children jumping up and down screaming and talking at the same time grating on his nerve and shortening his patience. The only available slot was a block away at the corner of an office building that was closed for holiday. There were three cars parked in front of the dark building. Jared parked his car between a red Buick and a black van. The location was closer to the café where they were supposed to meet with Jensen. Jared wasted no time unbuckling his children’s seatbelts and herding them to the appointed destination after locking his car.
Reaching the café, he was once again faced with another predicament. The café was full; in fact, everywhere else was full. It was a small unremarkable café. On an ordinary day, the café was never even half-full. The reason Jared and Jensen loved that café, beside its extraordinary blend of coffee, was its quiet atmosphere. Most people that frequented the café were regulars but now the place was filled to the brim with people of all ages. Children were running around between tables and a couple of men who had nowhere to sit opted to stand behind their wifes’ chairs.
They stood in front of the establishment for a couple of minutes when Janet said, “Daddy, we goin there?” Her face scrunched up in distaste.
“Of course not, silly. Don’t you see it’s full?” said Andy.
“Let’s just go to store, dad. I wanna play car,” Zeke suggested.
“Okay. I’ll call your papa,” Jared agreed. He pulled out his phone and dialed Jensen’s number. It took another two minutes of waiting before Jensen answered.
“Jen, we can’t go in to the café. It was packed and the kids are restless. How about I take them to shop for few things while waiting for you?”
“Alright, I just need a few more minutes before I wrap things up here and meet you guys. I’ll call when I get there,” said Jensen. His voice was almost swallowed by the ambient noise around Jared. They ended the call and Jared started to guide the children to the big, bright and colorful building across the street. He held Janet’s hand and put a hand on Andy’s shoulder while Zeke was walking in front of them.
Jared took them to the kids store first and his face gone pale at the door. He imagined if one of his kids were lost in there, he would never find them again. Jensen and he had shopped in turn for their children’s Christmas presents a week before and he recalled the place was not half as crowded as it was now. How would Jensen be able to find them later, he did not know. The Twins were begging him to let loose the reins.
“Alright kids, remember, we are looking for presents for your cousins. No buying toys for yourself,” Jared reminded them.
“Santa gets me presents, daddy,” informed Janet. Clearly, she thought her daddy was silly for not knowing that.
“I know sweetheart,” Jared smiled at her before addressing his twin, “Andy, Zeke don’t go outside the store!” but the boys dashed away even before Jared finished his sentence, “and don’t leave the shop until I find you!” he shouted at them.
“Jensen, you are so owing me big time,” Jared said looking around the chaotic place with a wince and noticeable discomfort on his face.
Jensen was mad. He was incensed and furious and all around upset since he arrived at the dock and talked to his people there. They informed him of the new regulation that was executed two days before the stuffing date today. Local authorities ordered every shipment out to Japan to be thoroughly re-checked before departure. Something about the smuggling of questionable goods was suspected to happen at the dock. Jensen was told that his office had been notified yesterday and the person in charge of it failed to respond back to the dock to give clearance for the dock personnel to perform thorough checking on the containers’ contents.
Wilson was the person in charge of it and even if he failed to acknowledge the notice, Gonzales would have known. Now his goods were detained and he had to contact local authorities as well as the dock personnel to release his goods and assist in the re-checking process that should have been done that afternoon. Jensen had cleared off five containers and they were being loaded onto the vessel right now. There were five more to go before he was able to sign the damn paper and send off his goods.
“How much longer will the rest of the checking take?” asked Jensen to the dock personnel in attendance. Currently there were two of them. Each person was inspecting one container with the help of Jensen’s employee.
“Shouldn’t be long, sir,” replied the short man coming out of the container holding a sheet of paper on a wooden pad. He brought the paper to Jensen to have it signed and the container secured and loaded off to the ship. It was the seventh container, three more to go.
“I just wished not to be here tonight,” Jensen complained.
“Don’t we all,” said the man, “It’s the last day before the holiday. I just have bad luck to get a shift tonight.”
“I mean I should be with my family shopping tonight, instead my husband has to handle our three children alone in the shopping mall.”
“Ouch!” said the man, winching in sympathy. “You know, I have two daughters. I happened to take them for shopping few months ago and, man, if I never have to do it again I would be forever grateful,” the man groaned pitifully.
Jensen laughed alongside him while they walked side by side to inspect the next container.
“You know, we men are not made for things like that. I don’t know if I have to say that you’re lucky to have a husband instead of a wife but I guess there are plusses and minuses for everything,” he said.
“Yeah, Jared is actually a wonderful guy. He handles our kids way better than I ever would. Perhaps considering that he gave birth to them,” Jensen confided, leaving out the fact about Janet’s adoption. Jared and he had already thought of her as theirs anyway.
“He’s one of them isn’t he? The one who can get pregnant…uh… what would they’re called… Maternity Male?”
Jensen did not hear any prejudice or hostile tone from the other man’s voice, only genuine curiosity, but he knew that there were people out there who looked down upon a man like Jared.
“Yeah,” Jensen said.
He could never be too cautious but Jensen was not a coward either. He loved Jared with all his heart. Why should anyone make it their problem if they did not hurt anybody? Jared was born for a reason. Jensen would proudly and maybe a bit pompously say that Jared was born for him. He would be deliriously happy even if Jared was just an ordinary guy. Yet, the fact that Jared bore him his children had made Jensen’s world so much brighter and happier.
The thought made him miss his family even more. He was inclined to kick the joint goodbye and drove his car away to see them but responsibility was another form of commitment. Let no one say that Jensen Ackles was a man to break commitment.
Jared was tired. He had been wandering around the shop for only an hour when extreme fatigue sneaked on him like eel. He reasoned that this tiredness of the past weeks was due to the stress caused by the coming holiday. Add to it the fact that he had not seen his parents for close to two years, making the stress level higher. Oh, they spoke on the phone as often as they could but there was something different between talking on the phone and seeing them. Therefore, he was more than excited about it.
Jared rested his rump heavily on an overturned plastic box of toys and took a deep breath. He knew that Janet was playing in the ball pit at the next aisle and Zeke was playing with a toy car at the car track and Andy … he did not know where Andy was now but he knew that the boy would not dare wandering outside of the shop without him. He already got the presents. He just wanted to rest for a bit under the disguise of waiting for his kids to finish their play.
Jared’s phone vibrated in his pocket. He took it out thinking Jensen called. “Hello?”
“Jared?” asked a heavily accented voice. Jared recognized his voice immediately.
“Yes, Fred. What’s up?”
“I got your special bean ready,” informed Fred, “half a pound of original green beans of Kopi Luwak, freshly imported from Sumatra. What time will you pick it up?”
“Wow! I thought you wouldn’t get it until tomorrow, at least. You know, I’m actually in town now. I’ll stop by to your place after finishing up here.”
“Where are you?”
“Toy store,” Jared sighed.
The heavily accented voice laughed heartily, “Oh man, I feel ya.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll see you in fifteen minutes, Fred.”
Jared dialed Jensen’s number after ending Fred’s call but the phone line was busy. He sent him a text instead telling him that he was going for a short trip to Fred’s to pick up the beans and if he was free now to meet him and the children there. Then he heaved himself up and started looking for his children. He got hold of Zeke first, told him to look for his twin and go to the cash register while he fetched Janet.
The kids were protesting that Jared cut short their playing time but he could not leave them there at the toy store while he went to the next block to Fred’s office. In truth, Jared was glad for the interruption. Really, he felt like a bad father who could not keep up for a couple of hours play with his children. He wondered how on earth those other mothers did it? Did they drink some kind of supplement that made them become super mom? Was it because Jared was a man? He did not know many guys like him other than his father Shane and the men from Male Maternity Community in San Antonio. It was not so bad when Jensen was there to share the workload.
The family was walking out of the toy store to their car. Fred’s office was located among the rows of office buildings next block, near the place where they parked the car. So, Jared thought he had better store the presents in the car since they would pass by their car on way to Fred’s.
“Can we go back after we visit Uncle Fred?” asked Andy.
“Let’s see after we get there,” said Jared inwardly hoping that they would never go back there.
“We see papa there?” asked little Janet.
“Well, I’ve sent your papa a message just now. Let’s hope he finishes his work at the dock and meets us there.”
“Why are we visiting Uncle Fred, anyway?” asked Zeke with a cute frown on his forehead.
“To get a present for Grandpa Shane and Grandpa Jake,” answered Jared.
“What present?” asked little Janet just for the sake of asking question.
“A very special one.”
Jared’s parents owned a coffee lounge in San Antonio. His birth father Shane was an adventurous coffee addict, which meant he collected all kinds of coffee beans around the world. It was Shane Padalecki’s long time dream to be able to taste the rarest, most exotic and definitely most expensive coffee in the world. Jensen, being an awesome son-in-law, introduced him to his trading buddy Fred Lehne who was dealing with imported rare goods.
They turned at the corner to where their car was parked. Since most offices there were closed for the holiday, the road was quiet except for the row of cars that were parked at the side. The boisterous noise of the crowd was noticeably diminished when they turned the corner.
The boys were squabbling with each other in front of Jared. Each one of them held a plastic bag and they swung them at each other. Then Zeke was running ahead of them to the car with Andy followed after him. A man suddenly appeared from the rows of cars in front of Zeke and the poor boy crashed into him.
“Zeke!” Jared quickened his step dragging Janet at his side. “I’m so sorry! Please forgive my son. He’s –”
Unexpectedly, the man snatched the plastic bag from Zeke and pushed the shaken boy down on the floor.
“What the … hey!” Jared shouted in outrage. “What the hell did you do that for? He’s just a kid.”
Jared could not see the man’s face clearly under his cap but he reckoned that he was young. Not more than twenty-five and very skittish. He looked around the quiet street for a second before jamming his hand inside his jacket. Jared did not pay him any attention because he was helping a shocked looking Zeke off the floor. Thus, he missed it when the man drew a gun at Andy who stood still not three feet away from him.
“Give me that!” snapped the man while pointing his gun at the scared boy.
Andy froze in place; eyes round and wide in fright and his freckles stood out on his rapidly paling face.
“Oh God!” Jared gasped and the man pointed the gun at him instead.
“H…hey man just … just take it easy, okay? Just don’t shoot, please,” pleaded Jared with what he thought was a soothing voice. His raised his hands out in a placating way, and trying hard to reason with this mad man.
“Give me your wallet!”
“Okay, okay. Just calm down. I’ll …” Jared pushed Zeke and Janet behind him and reached slowly for his wallet for fear of aggravating the robber.
“Your phone too! Put them here!” the robber thrust Zeke’s plastic bag forward with his left hand.
Jared threw his wallet and his cell phone into the plastic bag and reached out his hand to the still frozen Andy. “Andy, come here!” called Jared in a low unthreatening tone.
“Give me your bag you dimwit!”
Jared saw that the hand holding the gun tremble along with his labored breathing; the robber was getting more anxious. Jared frowned. Something was not right and he was afraid this situation would get worse no matter how he handled it. Drug addicts were the worst kind of people to deal with and the most unreasonable especially when they were in a state like this. Jared hoped he could still reason with him to let them go alive before things got out of hand.
“Andy, give him the bag,” coaxed Jared. “It’s okay honey. Give your bag to the man and come here.”
Then, everything happened in a blur. The robber lost his patience and snatched Andy’s bag but Andy, who had been frozen in fear, clutched the bag in his tight grip. The robber was mad and pointed his gun at Andy’s head. In a split second Jared’s heartbeat stopped. He did not even realize he was rushing toward his son with a shouted “No!” before his body was thrown back with a bang. On his way down, he glimpsed a small figure dash forward, and another shot was heard reverberating through the night.