Dragon Heart Ink

Subtitle

Sam noticed the quiet first. While he had been enjoying the chance to work on his homework from the university, he had been listening to the children through the open window in the kitchen. Worried, Sam shook the lingering thoughts about the Revolutionary War from his mind and stood up. The large window in the kitchen afforded him a perfect view of the backyard sandbox where he had last seen the two children.

He could clearly see his son, Jack, playing with the dump truck he had gotten for his birthday that year. His partner’s fair-haired daughter Julie, however, was nowhere in sight. Frowning, Sam headed for the back door. Julie, at the glorious age of five, had all of her mother’s instinct for trouble and none of her father’s common sense to avoid it.

By the time he had reached the sliding door, Julie was back in sight, carrying a bucket and clearly trying to keep Jack from noticing her as she slipped around behind him. Sam sighed, because there were rules, like no water in the sandbox, and no using the hose without permission, and don’t fight with your step brother, and with Michael off being the benevolent dictator at the shop, he was going to have to be the tyrant at home.

"Julie Erin Bryant!" Sam called as he stalked into the back yard, "Stop that right now. You know the rules."

Julie looked up, bucket of water half tilted, "But Papa," she protested, "he started it."

Sam sighed as he trotted down the steps; it was going to be one of those conversations where he would have to track down every aspect of the story and shake it loose before figuring out whom to punish first. Especially since Julie calling him Papa instead of Mister Sam always made him want to break down and let her get away with things. "What happened?"

"J.J. took Pearl and he shot her!" Julie said as she put the bucket down.

Sam looked down as he approached the sandbox. Jack looked up at him with the same solemn expression that had captured his heart from day one. Sam noted that Jack did indeed have one of Julie’s dolls in his dump truck, with an odd-looking red stain on her white dress. "What do you have to say for yourself, Jack?" Sam asked finally.

Jack pointed a chubby finger at Julie accusingly, "She took my action figure last night; I was questioning Pearl as to where she put him because the US doesn't deal with terrorists."

Sam bit his lip, because laughing now, even smiling, would only make everything worse in the long run. “All right,” he said finally, promising himself that he would have a word with Michael later about letting his five-year-old watch those kinds of action movies. Again.

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