Trevor became anxious the second the police officer had left his home. He did not know what he could do, but he knew he had to do something. He could not do it alone, so he went to the first person he could think of who he thought could help. Heather was not home that night, so he rushed to her apartment early the next day. He completely forgot about his daily workout; he had barely attended to his appearance. All of his focus was on Liam. He had no idea what he was supposed to do, but he knew he had to do something, and the first person he could think to consult was Heather.
“Trevor?” she said in surprise upon opening the door. She frowned. “Are you alright?”
“No!” Trevor gasped. “They took him!”
Heather blinked. “Who took who?”
“The police took Liam!” He shivered from the cold. “Can I come in?”
“Of course.” Heather opened the door wider to let him step inside. Then she closed the door and followed him into the apartment. She looked at him in concern. “Why did the police arrest Liam? What happened?”
Trevor still had a panicked look on his face; his heartbeat was irregular. He looked at her with wide eyes. “Texas wants him back for some reason. They think he’s a threat and don’t want him to hide out in Minnesota.”
Heather looked at him sadly. “Is there anything we can do?”
Trevor shook his head. “I don’t know. It’s the Texas authorities that are at fault, not Minnesota. I don’t know if there’s anything we can do here. I came to you because I don’t know what else to do. I can’t let them take him back…” He looked at the ground helplessly. He felt useless, and he did not like it.
Heather appeared thoughtful. “Have you called his mom? Maybe she can explain to the police that it’s ok for him to be here with you.”
Trevor shrugged. “It’s worth a try, but I don’t think they’ll be very reasonable if they think a 10-year-old boy is a dangerous sex offender.”
Heather smiled grimly. “You’re probably right. His parents should still know what’s going on, if someone has not contacted them already.”
Trevor nodded. He should have thought about that earlier. His mind was so disorganized. He pulled out his phone and dialed Janet Day’s number. It rang four times before a woman answered:
“Trevor? Thank goodness it’s you!”
“Liam’s gone,” Trevor said quickly.
“I know. I got a call from the police. They’re returning him here.” She hesitated. “They’re going to charge him with a felony for failing to register as a sex offender. He might not even get probation this time. He’ll go to prison.” There was a choked back sob.
Trevor’s eyes were wide with horror. His brain could not even tell him what to say.
“What did she say?” Heather whispered.
Trevor pulled his phone away from his ear and put his hand over the receiver. “Liam’s is going to go to prison for failing to register as a sex offender.”
Heather gasped, her hands flying to her mouth. “What?!”
“Who was that?” said the vice from the phone.
Trevor returned the phone to his ear. “That was my friend. She’s Liam’s babysitter. This is ridiculous, Mrs. Day. This can’t seriously be the law. It’s messed up.”
“I know,” Janet said. Her voice sounded weary and worn. “Where is the justice in our criminal justice system? My poor boy… I was sure Minnesota would fix the problem. I never dreamed it would make everything worse.”
Trevor closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. When he opened them again, they were filled with hard determination. Cold, steady anger was filling him. “Don’t worry,” he said firmly. “I will fix this. I will go down to the station and try to talk to them.”
“I don’t think it would make a difference,” Janet said sadly. “They wouldn’t listen to me.”
“Then I’ll go to Texas and talk to them. There has to be one person with common sense in the system.”
“I hope so. Let me know if anything changes.”
“Right. I won’t let anything bad happen to Liam. Goodbye, Mrs. Day.” He put his phone away and turned to Heather. “Ready to go to the station?” He was anxious to get something down; talking to Liam’s mother had not made him feel a whole lot better.
Heather sighed. “I guess so. At the least, it would be good to talk to Liam. Let him know that we’re behind him.”
Trevor nodded. “And that we’re going to get him out.” Someway, somehow.
The jailhouse was a large one located in St. Paul. There were several cells that extended the length of the building. “Liam!” Trevor exclaimed when he saw the kid in one of the jail cells alone. At least there were not any dangerous criminals in there with him. The hockey player glared at the officer standing guard. “Let him go!” Heather stood beside him looking worried.
“Trevor! Heather! Get me out!” Liam wailed.
“Who are you?” the officer asked gruffly.
“I’m his caretaker,” Trevor growled. “His mother put me in charge of him.”
“This kid has to register as a sec offender, which he can’t do in Minnesota, so he has broken court orders and must return to Texas,” the officer said calmly.
“He’s a kid!” Heather said. “He shouldn’t have to register. That’s why he came to Minnesota.”
“You can’t just switch states based on which laws you like better.”
“That’s exactly what the states are for!” shouted Trevor. “This can’t be Constitutional! We’ll take this to the Supreme Court!”
The man balked. “You think the Supreme Court would rule in favor of a sex offender? The public would never have it.”
“But he’s a kid,” Heather said.
The officer shrugged. “That’s not my problem. Take it up with Texas lawmakers. There’s nothing I can do. I don’t want my state to get sued. We don’t need that kind of trouble.”
Trevor crossed his arms and glared at him. “I’d have thought you’d want to start something with Texas considering it stole your hockey team.”
The policeman blinked in surprise. “What?”
Heather rolled her eyes. “He plays for the Wild. Ignore him.”
The man frowned as he looked over Trevor. “That doesn’t change anything. Go to Texas. My hands are tied here.”
“Let my mom come get me!” Liam cried. “I don’t want to be here anymore!” A tear slipped down his cheek.
Sadness temporarily washed away Trevor’s anger as he looked at the kid. He walked over to the jail cell. “I’m sorry, Liam,” he murmured. “They have to follow protocol, no matter how stupid it is. But I’ll come for you in Texas.”
“I don’t think you’ll find much success,” the officer said. “Texas has a pretty rigid and harsh justice system.” He shrugged. “They might make an exception, but I wouldn’t count on it. It wouldn’t be good for the state’s image.”
Trevor looked at him with dark eyes. “I don’t give a crap about the state’s image.” His anger was more controlled now. He could see the enemy, and it was no longer himself. There was real evil in the world, but perhaps a lot of it was possible because of ignorance.
“When are you sending him back?” Heather asked gently.
“He’ll be on a flight tomorrow morning,” said the officer.
“Thank you.” She turned to Trevor. “We should go.”
“Trevor,” Liam murmured.
“I’m sorry, buddy,” Trevor said softly, not knowing what else to say; he felt helpless, his anger waning. He cast the kid one last regretfully gaze before turning and following Heather out of the station.
Trevor stared at the coffee in his hands. The heat from its contents warmed his body and made him feel good, but it could not erase the anger and sorrow deep in his heart. Heather sat across from him with her own coffee at her Caribou. The two had been silent for awhile. Neither knew what to say. Finally, Heather broke the silence,
“Do you want to go to Texas?” Her voice was calm and soft.
Trevor lifted his shoulders and dropped them again. “I don’t see what good it would do. If Texas is stupid enough to ruin the life of a child, I don’t think anyone there will listen to reason.”
“But we can try, right?” Her eyes were pleading with him.
He sighed and shook his head. “Try in order to only fail? It’s no use. His parents can talk to the authorities in Dallas. We don’t need to be involved with him anymore. He’s not our responsibility.”
“But we care about him,” Heather said. “You said you would not let anything happen to him.”
Trevor let go of his cup and slammed his palms down on the table, his teeth grit in anger. “I’m just one person! I’m not even a citizen of Texas! I want to do something to help Liam, but I can’t! I told you there were a lot of wicked people in the world, even if they don’t know what they’re doing. Yes, I’ve realized that people can change themselves, but they can’t change anyone else. I have to focus on myself. Nothing I do will make a difference for anyone else. I can’t stop this insanity.” His eyes were welling up with tears. He tried to hold onto his anger to keep them from showing, but he was losing control.
Heather was staring at him in shock. “Trevor,” she murmured. “Every little thing can make a difference. Can’t you at least try? For Liam?”
Trevor stood up, grabbed his coffee, and turned away. Part of him wanted to, but… “I don’t need to raise his hopes only to have him see them crushed to the ground,” he murmured. He shook his head. “I should have never agreed to take him to Minnesota. His parents should have found a way to move with him here. Then everything would have probably been fine, or at least it would have been their problem and not mine.” He never should have let himself be put in this situation. It hurt too much.
“But then you would never have had a reason to be around me,” Heather said softly.
Trevor turned his head to look at her wearily. “I thought you no longer wanted to be with me.”
Heather hesitated. “I do, but I said I’m not sure if it’s a good idea. Even so, that does not mean I regret the time I spent with you. And with Liam. You’ve added something to my life that I’ve been missing since my fiancé died. I finally feel like I’m living again. Please, let me help you save Liam.”
Deep frown lines appeared on Trevor’s forehead. He had never thought that he had ever done anything for Heather. Amazing. His heart twisted; he did not want to let her down, but what could he do? He let out a heavy sigh. “The Wild is playing the Stars in Dallas on Friday. You can come with me. If we can figure something out by then…” He trailed off and closed his mouth.
There was a hopeful look in Heather’s eyes. “Thank you,” she nearly whispered. She stood up and walked over to him. “Whatever happens, it’s not good for you to be alone.”
Trevor nodded. That was something he had recently discovered. He was surprised when Heather wrapped his arms around him, but he hugged her back gratefully, holding his coffee out so that it was not in the way. He sighed deeply. Her warmth and closeness almost made him believe that she was right and that everything would be okay.