Early on Tuesday evening Richard and I were preparing dinner while Steven was doing his homework. I chopped vegetables as Richard stirred the gravy. Richard’s cell phone rang. I took over the stirring duty while Richard answered the phone. Mr. Sawyer, Richard’s Lawyer, called to inform us Lawrence’s bail hearing had been scheduled for the following afternoon at three o’clock. He asked if it were possible for the three of us to attend. Richard assured him we would be there.
At two o’clock I picked Steven up at school. I had his dark gray suit, tie, dress shirt and shoes in the car with me. He changed out of his school clothes and into his suit on the way to the courthouse. Steven was a cute young man in his suit. He may be only seven years old but one day he will be a handsome young man, that people will swoon over.
We were at the courthouse in no time. Steven and I walked up to Richard and Mr. Sawyer, who were in the lobby discussing the case. Mr. Sawyer quietly went over the courtroom procedure with us. The three of us would sit behind Mr. Sawyer. He would do his best to convince the judge Lawrence should not be released on bail as he demonstrated irrational behavior and is a danger to the community and us. Looking at his watch, he suggested we enter the courtroom and take our seats. We entered the relatively modern but drab gray courtroom and sat in the front row behind Mr. Sawyer, as he said to do.
Soon the bailiff entered the courtroom. “Washoe County Second Judicial Court, Department Three is now in session. The honorable Judge, Harold J. Ashworth, presiding. All stand.”
There were few people in the courtroom and everyone followed the bailiff’s direction.
Judge . Ashworth hammered his gavel once. “Be seated.”
Everyone in the courtroom sat and Judge Ashworth opened a manila folder, looking through the documents as the County Clerk read aloud. “Case number WA-2663, People vs. Lawrence Robert Baker.”
Steven leaned forward in his seat, listening intently as the judge spoke. “Mr. Baker has been charged with one count of forcible entry and two counts of attempted murder. This is merely a hearing to determine the amount of bail, if any, Mr. Baker shall be required to pay for his release. This is not a trial to determine guilt or innocence. Mr. Baker, it is my understanding you are not able to afford and attorney and have elected to have a deputy public defender, Mr. Carr represent you. Mr. Carr, you may proceed.”
A lanky young man wearing plastic-rimmed glasses, dressed in an ill-fitting gray suit stood next to Lawrence. “Your Honor, in view of Mr. Baker’s incident-free past, we as for the mercy of the court that the bail amount be minimal. Mr. Baker is of no flight risk, promises to not leave the area and will return for his pre-trial and trial.”
Mr. Carr sat and Judge Ashworth looked at Mr. Sawyer. “Counselor, do you have any objections?”
Mr. Sawyer stood. “Yes, Your Honor. Mr. Baker has had a contentious history with my clients, who were the victims of Mr. Baker’s alleged attacks. He has caused this family to lead a stressful lifestyle based on fear the defendant will return to finish his job of murdering my clients. Your Honor, we ask the defendant be held without bail.”
Lawrence abruptly stood and shouted. “That’s a lie. They stole my life from me. They made me do this. I never hurt anyone. They should be in jail, not me.”
Judge . Ashworth pounded his gavel. “Mr. Baker, sit down and be quiet. Mr. Carr, you will instruct your client there will be no more outbursts in this courtroom. Do you understand?”
An embarrassed public defender answered meekly. “Yes, Your Honor. There will be no further outbursts.” Mr. Carr whispered something in Lawrence’s ear. Lawrence gave him an obstinate expression, folded his arms in defiance and slouched in his chair.
Steven quietly whispered in my ear, “He’s asking for it, isn’t he?” I quietly nodded.
As judge Ashworth put on his reading glasses and studied the documents in the folder in front of him, he glanced over his glasses at Lawrence’s defiant body language and expression. Lawrence began jiggling his leg, demonstrating his impatience. Judge Ashworth looked at Lawrence again, this time staring into his eyes with an authoritative expression, until Lawrence stopped jiggling his leg, unfolded his arms, and sat up in his chair.
Judge Ashworth removed his reading glasses and stated his decision. “I have taken into account several factors including the gravity of the charges against the defendant, the risk of flight, and the fear with which this family is now living,” He pointed to us. “Furthermore, in consideration of the defendant’s disregard for courtroom etiquette and disrespect of authority, it is the decision of this court the defendant, Lawrence, Robert Baker, shall remain in the county jail without bail until the end of his trial, at which time his freedom or further incarceration will be dependent on the verdict at that time. This bail hearing is concluded. Bailiff, please escort Mr. Baker to his cell. This hearing is closed.”
Judge Ashworth banged his gavel and the bailiff called “All rise.” The judge left the courtroom. The bailiff handcuffed Lawrence, who had a frightened and yet defiant expression, and escorted him out of the courtroom through a side door. Mr. Carr quickly gathered his papers, stuffed them into his briefcase, and hurriedly left the courtroom. Mr. Sawyer motioned for us to exit the courtroom as well. In the lobby, Mr. Sawyer told us he would notify us of further developments and let us know when Lawrence’s trial will be. He had already filed the restraining order, so we were at least legally protected from Lawrence.
Three days later Mr. Sawyer called to inform us Lawrence signed a plea bargain agreement. In the agreement the District Attorney dropped the forcible entry charge. Lawrence’s sentencing hearing was expedited. He was given a ten-year sentence with possible parole on good behavior after seven years. We were happy just to have him out of our lives but we never stopped living cautiously with more situational awareness.
The next few weeks went by quickly. Steven was doing very well in school, bringing home nearly perfect report cards. Richard’s and my tutoring was paying off. Steven often gave us lots of hugs to show how much he appreciated the help.
For weekend projects, the three of us worked on the old Ford Truck. One Saturday morning we pulled the cover off the truck and climbed in. Richard turned the key and the old truck started right away. The engine purred. Richard put the truck in gear and drove out of the garage, down the driveway and into the street. I don’t know which of us was happier to finally be driving around in the beautiful truck. In a few minutes we pulled into the parking lot of a drive-in restaurant, where a few dozen antique and collectible cars were parked. We ordered old-fashioned cheeseburgers, fries and malteds. We ate our delicious lunches while hearing rock and roll music from the late 1950s playing over the drive-in speakers. Many of the owners of the other vehicles stopped to admire the truck and to chat about cars. When we finished our meals we walked around, looking at the other cars and chatting with their owners. A few of the car owners asked if we were going to Hot August Nights, a huge weekend-long party centered around antique and collectible cars, held every year in Reno. We were excited at the idea to participate in the largest annual event in Reno. I offered to get information about the event so we could enjoy the festivities with the truck.
That evening Richard made an announcement. “Tomorrow night I have a surprise for us. We need to dress nicely in jackets and ties and be ready at five o’clock.” Steven’s eyes got big when he realized this would be a big night out for us and he would be able to again wear his suit Richard had bought him on the day Steven came into our lives.
The next day Steven wanted to know all about the surprise Richard had in store for us that night. He asked Richard many questions but Richard gave no hints and told Steven he would have to wait until the evening. For Steven the wait was an eternity but finally Five o’clock arrived. Steven and I stood on the porch while Richard brought the Oldsmobile around. We climbed in and Richard drove to the undisclosed destination. Twenty minutes later we parked in front of The Left Bank, the restaurant where Richard and I met on Valentines Day. I squeezed Richard’s hand I was holding. He leaned over and gently kissed me.
In the back seat, Steven watched and giggled. “I hope one day I’ll have a great handsome boyfriend like you guys.”
Richard smirked. “Steven, you are such a charmer. Keep that up and the boys will be stumbling over each other to get your attention.”
We walked to the restaurant entrance and Richard held the door open for Steven and me. Unlike Valentine’s evening, when Richard and I met, a hostess greeted us. Richard gave his name. She walked us to our table and gave us our menus, telling us our server would be with us momentarily.
Our waiter soon arrived at our table, carrying in a relish tray and a pitcher of water. He introduced himself as Jeremy, set the relish tray on the table, poured water in our glasses and took our drink orders. Jeremy returned a few minutes later with Steven’s apple juice and Richards and iced teas. He read the evening specials from a note pad and asked if we had any questions about the menu. Richard selected the salmon, I chose the filet, and Steven asked for the chicken breast.
While we waited for our food, Richard explained to Steven this was the place where he and I met on Valentines evening.
Steven looked around the dining room. “This is a really special place then.”
Richard and I agreed with him. I told Steven about he mix up in reservations and how Richard saved me from having to eat a boring hamburger at Burger Depot that night, paid for my dinner, showed me the stars in the sky and caused me fall in love with him.
Steven was emotionally moved by the story. Tears formed in his eyes.
Richard noticed and gently wiped his tears. “What’s wrong, Buddy?”
Steven snuffed. “Nothing is wrong. It’s just that because of what happened that night, I’m the luckiest boy in the world, cause I have the two best uncles in the world.”
I felt tears form in my eyes, reached over and gave Steven a loving hug.
Richard wiped his eyes. “Steven, we are lucky to have you as our nephew too. But I think we can do even better than that.”
Steven and I were confused with what Richard meant and looked at Him.
Richard reached in his pocket and pulled out a small blue velvet covered box, opened it. Inside was a beautiful white gold band with a thin line of sapphires. I covered my mouth, as I suddenly realized what he was doing.
Richard looked at me with tears in his eyes. “Chris, since the evening we met my life has been filled with more joy and love than I have ever known. I cherish you and I cherish our family. Would you please do me and Steven honor of becoming my husband and father of Steven with me?”
With tears streaming down my cheeks, I nodded. “Yes, yes I will. I can’t think of anything I would want more. Yes!”
Richard stood and came to me. I stood, hugged him and we kissed. Steven rose and we all hugged. After we returned to our chairs, Richard made another announcement. “Steven, I asked Mr. Sawyer to prepare documents to submit to the court for your adoption. If you want, Chris and I will become your dads. Would that be something you would like to happen?”
Steven’s eyes once again filled with tears. “You guys want me to be your son, really?”
Richard and I answered together. “Yes!”
Steven stood wiped his tears of joy and gave us both tight hugs. We all shed tears of joy. We wiped our eyes, recovering from our emotions, and sat in our chairs before our waiter brought us our delicious dinners. While we ate our special meals, we talked about a date for the wedding. It would be best to be held before the adoption papers were filed and neither Richard nor I wanted an elaborate ritual. We agreed to a small private ceremony that would include Grandma so it could be held soon. We agreed on the third Saturday of June. Steven would be out of school for the summer and Richard and I could become husbands in time for the adoption hearing.
We finished dinner with bowls of vanilla gelato with drizzles of lingonberries. We paid the waiter, giving him a generous tip and were on our way out, when Richard excused himself to use the washroom. Steven and I waited in the lobby. After a couple minutes, Richard returned giving me a little grin.
“Excuse me, sir. You seem to like this spot a lot. Wouldn’t you rather be more comfortable coming home with your fiancé and future son?”
I realized I was standing in the exact place I first saw Richard that Valentines evening a few months ago and chuckled. “I’m not sure. This seems to be a pretty lucky place. I met the man of my dreams the last time I stood here. Then again, maybe I should quit while I’m ahead. Okay, take me home, handsome and dashing men of mine.”
The next few weeks sped by in a blur. The third Saturday in June arrived in no time. Richard arranged for an ordained minister to conduct the ceremony. Grandma traveled to Reno to stand with us as our maid of honor. Steven was proud to accept our invitation to be our best man. We wanted a small ceremony so we limited the guest list. Mr. Lester, Hank and Earl drove to Incline Village from the ranch. Grandma stopped in Carson City and picked up Mrs. Conyers and Freddie. Mama Angelina and her husband were also in attendance.
We chose to hold the ceremony at a beautiful mountain resort in Incline Village, on the north side of Lake Tahoe. Love was in the air that afternoon. The weather was perfect and everything went as planned. After the ceremony we all ate a delicious early dinner in the resort’s gourmet dining room. In addition to typical motel-style rooms, the resort had individual cabins. Grandma and Steven shared one of the motel rooms with Mrs. Conyers and Freddie while Richard and I had an unforgettable night in the honeymooners cabin.
Grandma and Mrs. Conyers enjoyed the mountain scenery for the weekend. Steven and Freddie hit it off and it was clear they would be inseparable friends for life.
Three days later Steven’s adoption hearing was held. The judge was almost overwhelmed seeing the amount of love we had for each other and wasted no time approving the adoption, making Steven our son, Steven Goodwin-Davis. Grandma said she was the happiest great grandma in the world.
We traveled in our plane several times that summer. Steven asked if he could invite Freddie on our travels. To his delight, Mrs. Conyers and we gave permission for that to happen. We travelled to wonderful places including San Diego, Anaheim, San Francisco, Seattle, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and a ranch near a quaint little town called Chaparral, where another adventure began for us.