Trevor was called to the Dallas jailhouse the next day. He took Heather and Justin with him. His mind was spinning with possibilities. He did not know if the call was a good or bad sign. It could have been anything. But at least he would get to see Liam one last time before going back to Minnesota. Perhaps he could give the kid a word of hope. Liam would be alright. He was a strong kid. He could make it through a lot.
An officer met them inside the station, which was small and neat. “Mr. Clifton?” he said in a steady voice. He appeared to be in his late 40s, and there was nothing pleasant about his face.
“Trevor!” Liam cried from the cell behind the policeman. He looked worn and beaten down. It seemed like he had not slept in awhile.
“Yes,” Trevor said to the officer gruffly. “What do you want?” He crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes at him.
The man seemed hesitant. He looked from Justin to Heather, but no one offered an explanation as to their presence. “A lot of people watched the game last night. More than usual for Texas. Your speech made it onto the news. A lot of people are outraged. We’ve received numerous calls and emails. The state has decided to drop the charges against Liam Day and grant you legal authority over him. You may take him back to Minnesota.”
Trevor knew he should have felt relieved and even elated, but deep anger was bubbling to the surface. “Is that all?” he snarled. “No apology? No promise to try to change the laws?”
“You got what you wanted,” the man said thickly. “Don’t push it.”
“Are you afraid of them?” Trevor said, ignoring him. “Are you afraid of what the people of this state can do? I lived her for a few years, you know. I know what Texans are like. Once they’re riled up, they can be pretty fierce.”
Justin placed a hand on his shoulder. “Maybe we should just go,” he said gently, but Trevor shrugged him off.
The officer balked. “We are not afraid of anyone. We are here to secure justice, which is irrelevant to what the people want.”
Trevor scoffed. “If that was true, you would have gotten rid of these stupid sex offender laws years ago.”
“We are trying to do what is right!”
“How is this right?!” Trevor exclaimed. He clenched his teeth together rightly. Why could those in power not understand what seemed so simple to the average person.
“Trevor, it’s ok,” Liam whimpered. “We’re going home.”
Heather touched his arm. “Liam needs you,” she said softly.
Her voice and touch finally got through to Trevor. He relaxed his muscled and softened his expression. His friends were right. There was nothing more he could do here. “Fine,” he muttered.
The policeman snorted before walking over to the cell. As soon as the door was opened, Liam raced out and clamped his arms around Trevor’s legs. Trevor picked up the boy and held him closely to his chest.
“I missed you,” Liam whispered.
Trevor allowed a slight smile to appear on his face. “I missed you too, little brother.”
“It’s good to have you back,” Heather said.
“Now we can have more fun,” Justin said lightly.
The officer was looking at Trevor suspiciously. “Well, get out of here now,” he said.
Trevor narrowed his eyes at him. “This is not over,” he growled threateningly. Then he turned and marched out the door with Liam in his arms. The people of Texas had shown him that real change was possible when people worked together to fight for what was right. He did not know what the future held, but he was sure of his duty.
The score was tied three to three. The seconds were ticking down. Trevor zoomed down the ice with the puck in front of his stick, his eyes on the goal. An opposing player slammed him into the wall, causing him to lose possession of the puck. Instead of fighting with him, Trevor shrugged it off and skated on.
He nodded in approval when Justin won the puck back. Trevor kept in line with him as he skated for the goal. He got their first, and no one was protecting him yet. Justin quickly passed the puck to him, and in one swift motion, Trevor shot the puck into the goal. The horn rang out. Almost at the same time, the buzzer went off.
It was over. They had won.
The Wild players were suddenly piling around Trevor, cheering him on. Trevor grinned as he congratulated him as well. “Nice pass,” he said to Justin.
His friend nodded. “Nice shot.”
“Trevor,” Ethan said, skating over to him with David by his side. “Great game.”
David nodded. “You played well.”
Trevor smiled at them. “Thanks. Same to you two.”
“We’ll see you later,” Ethan said. The two of them skated away.
Trevor turned and skated to the edge where Heather and Liam were sitting in front near the ice. They appeared just as excited as the team. “Great job!” Heather called through the glass.
“That was awesome!” Liam exclaimed.
Trevor grinned. “Want to go back to my place to celebrate?”
“Sure,” Heather agreed. “Bring Justin!”
So he did. The four of them had a great time laughing and playing games at Trevor’s apartment. Trevor felt much happier and lighter than he had in a long time. Everything in his life was not figured out, but it was going in the right direction. Liam was safe. He had found a home in Minnesota. His eyes lingered on Heather, who sat on the couch talking with Liam and Justin. There was just one thing he needed to know.
“Heather, can I talk to you alone?” he asked.
Heather looked up at him and blinked. “Sure, Trevor.”
The two of them walked out to the balcony together. It was nearing March, but it was still cold with a blanket of snow covering the grass; Trevor did not care. He loved the feeling of the cold. It reminded him that he was alive. He and Heather leaned against the railing, facing each other. Trevor knew he had to speak first. He just wished he could figure out the best way to start.
“You look beautiful,” he said softly.
Heather smiled at him. “Thank you.”
“I take it you do want to give me another chance after all.” The thought made him happy. He still wanted to be with her more than anything else in the world.
Heather chuckled lightly. “Of course. How could I not? After all you did for Liam...” She shook her head. “That was amazing, Trevor.”
He shrugged his shoulders. “I was just doing what I thought I was right.” He hesitated. “I love him.”
Heather smiled. “I thought so. He loves you too.”
Trevor stepped closer to her. He slowly lifted his hands to cup her cheeks and gazed into her eyes. “And I love you.”
Heather’s eyes brightly smiled at him. “Will you finally let me love you too?”
“Yes,” Trevor said without hesitation. “I need your help. I’m trying to love myself, but it’s hard.” He was getting better, though.
Heather wrapped her arms around his neck. “I will always be here for you. You don’t need to be afraid.”
“Marry me,” Trevor whispered.
Heather smiled. “I can’t.”
Trevor felt agitated. He had not expected much else, but how could she say it like that? “Why not?”
“Because it’s too soon,” she said softly. “We’ve just gotten everything straightened out. We need time to develop our relationship. It will take time. Ask again later. And give me a real proposal next time.” Her eyes sparkled mischievously.
Trevor could not help but smile. “Someday then.” He hoped it would come soon. For now, he would enjoy the present. He leaned down and kissed her. He felt the familiar emotions take control of him. He could get used to this.
When Heather pulled away after awhile, she was smirking at him. “Besides, I have to figure out how to tell my friends and family that I’m with a White Sox fan.” She backed away, grinning.
Trevor rolled his eyes. “Is that so?”
Heather laughed and dashed inside, making a run for Justin and Liam. Trevor chuckled and chased after her. This was how life was supposed to be. He knew what he wanted now. This was his future. Chicago was behind him.
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