Shortly after Dan’s heartfelt declaration that he felt Brenna was his daughter, George, Phillip and the Chief left to spend the remainder of Sunday with their families. It had been decided that George would contact the Charles’ family attorney and verify the family and financial situations. Honey would contact Beth’s friends in an attempt to identify any other potential fathers. Everyone else would go about their normal days in an attempt to keep busy while waiting for the test results.
As he was leaving, Chief Molinson turned to Dan and announced, “I talked it over with human resources and got the Mayor’s approval to put you on family leave for the next week or two.” Grinning as he heard the exclamations of joy from the women, he added, “We’ll start with a week and then decide about the second one.”
“Thank you, sir,” Dan replied, sounding gruff from the emotions he felt. “I really appreciate you doing that for me.”
“Well, I think you need to get some things settled before you return,” the Chief answered. “You take good care of that precious baby and mind Helen. She’ll teach you to care for Brenna.”
“Yes, she will,” Dan agreed. “Thanks again,” he called as the Chief waved and went out the door.
The remainder of the evening passed with the extended family enjoying their cookout and discussing little Brenna’s needs.
The next two days were long for Dan and everyone else, as they waited for the DNA and Beth’s toxicology results to come back. Dan spent the time with Helen learning how to care for baby Brenna’s needs, but by Tuesday afternoon he was past ready to hear some concrete news.
Around three o’clock, the phone rang a loud and sharp sound that woke Brenna from her nap. By silent agreement, Helen moved to the phone as Dan went to calm the baby.
“Hello,” Helen answered. She stood listening quietly to the caller. Her hand gripped the handset tightly and her eyes flicked up to Dan’s as he stood in the doorway swaying with the baby in his arms. “That would be fine, Matt,” she paused to listen some more. “Certainly, I can get everyone here by seven. Are you sure you can’t share the results?” she asked, a slight smile appearing on her lips. “Alright, we’ll see you this evening. Bye.”
Carefully cradling the baby, Dan entered the room. “Was that Mr. Wheeler?”
Helen hung up the phone handset and took a seat at the table. “Yes, Dan,” she replied. “He says that he just received word that the lab is couriering the results here tonight,” she explained. “The lab told him that they should be here around seven. He asked me to get Wendell and the Bob-White families all here.” She reached out to pat the back of his hand. “We all believe your Bob-White saying of one for all and all for one.”
“Oh!” Dan exclaimed quietly. “Now that it’s time, I’m not sure I want to hear that she’s not mine,” he said, cuddling Brenna to his strong chest. “I already love her, Mrs. B. I couldn’t stand it if she’s not mine.”
Running a finger under her eye, Helen picked up the tear that had escaped. “Dan, we all love you and Brenna,” she said firmly. “If she isn’t your biological child, then we’ll still take care of her. We’ll find a way to remain a part of her life,” she added. Standing, she patted his shoulder before picking the phone up again. “I’ll call Wendell and the families while you send out some texts. We need everyone here by seven at the latest. Promise them cake and ice cream. I just have a feeling that everything will be alright.”
By six-forty-five, everyone had arrived at Crabapple Farm except for Wendell Molinson and the results.
“I apologize if this seems rude but Helen and I need to talk with our children for a few minutes in the den,” Peter announced to his friends and family. “You all know where everything is, so please make yourselves at home.”
“What’s going on?” Trixie asked, handing Brenna back to Dan before standing to follow her brothers down the hall.
“Please just go to the den,” Helen requested, urging her daughter down the hall ahead of her and Peter.
The three boys sat on the couch and Trixie perched on the arm by Mart as their father shut the door to the room.
“What is going on?” Brian asked the question again.
“Kids, your dad and I want to know how you feel about something and this is the first chance we’ve had to ask you,” Helen began, taking a seat on the arm of Peter’s easy chair. “Dad and I feel that Dan is going to need all of us around him and we want to offer him additional support,” she said softly. Seeing the concern in her children’s faces, she hurried on. “We want to offer Dan and Brenna a place to live for the next year as they get settled. We know that each of you will end up being aunt or uncle to the baby, but we don’t know how you’d feel if we were more like Grandmoms and Grandpa for her as well.”
Trixie, Brian, Mart and Bobby all looked from one parent to the other with similar stunned looks.
“Wow! I never thought about that,” Brian admitted, rubbing his hand around the back of his neck and looking at the carpet in front of him. Raising his head, he glanced at his siblings to determine what emotions were passing across their faces.
Mart’s husky voice softly said, “I’ll be honest and say it is not anything I ever considered. I always thought the first Bob-White grandbaby would hopefully be mine but…”
“No, it was going to be mine,” Brian and Trixie said simultaneously before sticking their tongues out at each other.
“It sure as heck ain’t gonna be mine,” Bobby snickered, garnering a Gibbs slap from Brian.
“Anyway,” Mart continued. “I’m OK with it. It’s not like you’re going to have Ben and Sally’s kid call you that,” he paused to shudder. “If everyone else is OK with it, it is OK by me.”
“Aye,” the remaining three Belden children agreed, nodding.
Helen grabbed a tissue from the box and wiped at her streaming eyes, as Peter gently rubbed her back. “You’ve given us numerous gray hairs over the years but we are exceptionally blessed to have you as our children,” Helen said with a sniffle.
“That we are,” Peter agreed, hiding a sniff behind clearing his throat. “So you don’t mind Dan staying here?” he added.
“Works for me,” chimed Mart, grinning. “So, where’s the cake?”
As the last Belden resumed their seat in the living room, the doorbell rang. Honey was closest, so she hurried to answer it. When she returned, Wendell Molinson was following in her wake carrying a folder and two envelopes.
“Evening, folks,” the chief said, removing his SPD ball cap and placing it on the entry table as he looked at all the anxious faces. “I met up with a WGen delivery man in the drive so I took the liberty of signing for the results envelope. I also have the tox screen and envelope from the state lab in White Plains. I’m guessing you’re all about ready to jump out of your skin, so let’s see what they say.”
Dan nervously shifted in his chair as he gave Brenna a bottle. Trixie and Jim sat on the floor on one side of him, with Honey and Brian on the other. The girls each reached up a hand to lay it on Dan’s arms, as they took their respective boyfriend’s hand and squeezed it reassuringly. Di and Mart sat on the other side of Brian and Di grabbed Mart’s hand, too.
Bobby, Larry and Terry sat by the fireplace watching the suspense in the room build.
Molinson sat in the chair that had been vacated by Honey. “OK,” he said, opening the folder. “The coroner’s preliminary tox labs indicate that Miss Charles had no drugs in her system,” he began. “She died from a cerebral edema that was an end result of the, er…” he said. Glancing up, he requested, “Help me here, Brian.”
“Glioblastoma,” he replied. “It’s a tough one to say.”
“Yeah, it is,” the Chief answered, flipping through the file. “That’s all the new information in this file,” he informed them, setting it aside. “Now for the DNA results.”
“This is like an episode of Jerry Springer or Maury,” Bobby said with a snicker.
The tension eased in the room a tiny bit as the occupants laughed at his comment and Peter tapped him on the top of his head.
“I wish I had his money,” Molinson said under his breath. “On to the DNA results,” he announced with a grin at Bobby while pulling the papers out of the first envelope. “These are the results from the state lab,” he explained solemnly, flicking through several pages. A slight smile appeared on his face as he looked around the room before focusing on Dan. The smile grew as he said, “Martin Belden, you are not the father of minor female child, Porsche Belden.” Grimacing as he said the legal name, “We’ll just refer to her as Brenna for now. Anyway, Brian Belden and James Frayne, neither of you is the father either.”
“What? Why?” Dan asked, looking at his extended family. “Why would you guys do that?” he asked again.
Jim smiled as Trixie pressed a kiss to his cheek before passing the tissue box around. “Because, Dan, we didn’t want you and Mart to have to go through the testing alone …” his voice faded away as he watched Diana throw herself into Mart’s arms; peppering his face with kisses.
“But all of you,” Dan said softly, in awe of the gesture.
“Yeah, son,” Nathaniel Maypenny answered for them all. “That’s right. What is it you kids say? One for all…”
“And all for one,” the room responded with a laugh.
“OK, people, let’s focus,” the Chief ordered loudly with a hint of a smile. “The last two names in the packet are Daniel Mangan and John Palmer,” he paused for a second. “John Palmer is also not the father, but according to the state lab, Daniel Mangan is Brenna’s father,” he finished, clapping his hands as everyone else in the room clapped or hooted their approval.
“Congratulations, Daddy,” Trixie said, grinning broadly before rising up to kiss him on the cheek.
“She’s my daughter,” Dan murmured, eyes shimmering with tears. He stared at his daughter. His beautiful baby girl.
A whistle cut across the din of celebration. Maddie stood with her fingers in the corners of her mouth and a sly look on her face. “Your attention, please. Please pick up your drink,” she requested, watching as everyone complied.
Matt stepped forward. “Congratulations, Dan. Here’s to you and your lovely daughter, Brenna. Welcome to the family, baby girl.”
As everyone sipped from their glass, Peter and Helen stepped forward next. “Peter and I also want to welcome you, sweet Brenna,” she paused as the Lynch parents stood and joined their group. “Dan, Peter and I would like to have you two continue to live with us as you learn a few parenting skills and adjust to being a father. We’d be honored to babysit the first Bob-White grandchild,” she added, wiping away a few tears.
“Mr. and Mrs. B!” Dan exclaimed, startling Brenna enough to whimper. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Well, son,” Peter smiled kindly at Dan. “The first thing you need to do is call us Moms and Peter and, if Brenna wants to, she can call us Grandmoms and Granddad.”
“And we’ll be Granny and Pawpaw,” Caroline said, tears streaming down her face.
“Don’t forget we’re Grandma and Grandpa,” chimed Maddie, wiping her nose with a tissue as tears overflowed her eyes.
Nathaniel Maypenny stood to join their ranks. “And I will be Gramps to the little angel.”
Regan walked forward and placing a hand on Dan’s shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze. Rubbing at his eyes, he growled, “Damn allergies.”
Bobby, Larry and Terry looked at each other and shrugged.
“Springer or Maury never ended like this,” Bobby grumbled. “How boring, not a single cat fight, punch or cuss word.”
Larry grinned, as Terry jumped on Bobby and started to throw fake punches. “Now that’s what I’m talking about,” he said with a laugh.
“Boys!” Tess said to Bess, rolling her eyes as Larry joined in the faux fight.
Across the room, as everyone celebrated and congratulated Dan, Wendell Molinson opened the envelope from WGen. Pulling out the papers he verified the test results were the same.
“Everything OK, Wen?” Peter asked, clamping him on his shoulder.
“Yeah, Pete, all the documents are in agreement. Honey, Rainsford and Reynolds will need to file the paperwork to get her name changed but that shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll get these entered into the case file which will help out.”
“Then why the long face?” Peter inquired.
“I’m just glad it’s over. I don’t like it when problems and claims hit too close to home,” Wendell replied. “I just worry what will happen next,” he sighed, rubbing his hands over his face.
Peter chuckled heartily. “Oh, nothing but a wedding in a couple of weeks. I have a feeling that will be more than enough excitement for us for a while,” he explained.
Our lovely editors of Joycey, Kelly and Mylee make our stories sooooooo much better with their edits and suggestions. If there are boo-boos left in this story, they belong to us, Jenny and Jo.
Jerry Springer and Maury Povich are American television talk show hosts of the tabloid talk show variety.
Background is from allfreebackgrounds.com
Header and dividers created using MS Clipart manipulated by Jo
Word count – 2264