Normally, when his father was called up by the National Guard, Sammy would spend the time with his Aunt Jen, who lived 30 minutes away, or his mother’s parents. But his maternal grandparents were in Florida, away from the cold of New England. Instead, he was to spend the time with his dad’s father.
“Why do I have to stay with him?” he asked. “He needs mental help—why are you risking me with him?”
“Because you need to stay in school—your grades suck, and you can’t if you stay with Jen or your mom’s parents. Dad has issues but isn’t dangerous. He loves you and you will mind your manners with him, regardless his issues.”
Not to mention his father was the only person he could get to watch Sammy.
Sammy made a growl in his chest. “Yes, Sir,” he said. “I hope you’re home in time for Christmas.”
He wiped at a tear—it would be their first without Mom. He wanted—needed—Dad home to spend it with him, not some mentally ill grandfather!
“That’s four weeks from now,” his father said. “The flooding in Texas shouldn’t be too bad, but I can’t promise.”
He hugged his father, then watched him head for the convenience store. But, as a breath of wind curled around his legs, chilling him, he turned for the mall entrance, adjusting the backpack he wore containing clothes and a laptop.