1. Chapter 1
Jeremiah is 14, Jacob is 10, Joseph is 6 and Judah is 2. All four Cooper BROTHERS were from the same deadbeat dad who was never around. Their mother, Joy Cooper, always worked so that left Jeremiah to look after the little ones. Jeremiah got Jacob and Joseph to school on time and stayed home from school to watch after Judah. He didn't want Jacob and Joseph to end up like him, a school drop out who wouldn't be able to find a good job. Joseph was only in grade 1 and Jacob was in grade 5. Judah was already talking in full sentences.
One day, a Saturday to be exact, Joy was working, and the boys were at home doing chores around the house, when a knock sounded at the door. Jeremiah told Jacob to keep an eye on Joseph while he picked Judah up and answered the door. The people at the door were a police officer and some lady in a suit jacket and skirt.
"Can I help you?" Jeremiah asked as he shifted Judah on his hip. The officer looked nervous and the lady looked sad.
"Son, I'm afraid I have some bad news." The officer started, "your mother, well, she won't be coming home." He said hesitantly, not knowing how to break it to the teen boy.
"What do you mean?" Jeremiah asked not fully understanding, "did she run off with some guy, or did she just abandon us like dad did?" He snapped.
"Jeremiah, your mother passed away this morning." The lady said with a sad look. Jeremiah paled and hugged Judah tighter as the little boy started to cry.
"H-how did she die?" Jeremiah asked still in shock.
"She was killed by a drunk DRIVER on her way to work." The officer said. Just then two small heads peeked out from behind Jeremiah.
"Mom's gone?" Jacob asked. Joseph had tears welling up. The lady looked like she might cry herself.
"Yeah Jacob. Mom won't be coming back." Jeremiah said going down to his brothers height, "what's going to happen to us?" He asked the officer and the lady.
"Your father must be found as he is your legal guardian now. Until then you will be placed in foster homes." The lady said. Jeremiah instantly got defensive.
"No way! You can't separate us." He said desperately. He pushed Jacob and Joseph into the house and tried to close the door. The officer stuck his foot in the way and tried to reason with the teen.
"We can compromise. We had this all talked about so that if you refused we had a solution." The officer explained, "we can have the foster parents move in with you. That way you won't be separated."
Jeremiah looked skeptical but opened the door more so that the officer and the lady could come in. The officer was officer Hartford and the lady was Miss Sutton.
"Jacob, go finish your homework. Joseph will you go get Judah his milk please?" Jeremiah instructed his younger brother as he tried to calm Judah down. The tyke was still crying a bit.
"May I?" Miss Sutton asked as she held out her hands. She adored children. Jeremiah hesitated then handed Judah to her so she could hold him. Judah cried a bit more but stopped as Joseph gave him his bottle.
"Who's going to be staying with us until dad comes?" Jeremiah asked. He didn't want some mean people living with them. He had his brothers to look after.
"Leonard and Marie Richards. Good people, I think you'd like them." Miss Sutton told him as she held Judah while he drank his milk.
"When will they be here?" Jeremiah asked.
"Tomorrow morning. Your father shouldn't be too difficult to find." Officer Hartford said with a small smile. Jeremiah didn't return the smile. He hadn't smiled since their dad left two years ago; right after Judah was born.
"Jeremiah, will we be separated?" Joseph asked as he cuddled up next to his eldest brother. The child didn't understand a lot but he was a bright boy for his age.
"No Joseph. We won't ever be separated." Jeremiah said pulling Joseph onto his lap.
"We had better be going. Papers to sign and people to talk to." Officer Hartford said standing up. Miss Sutton handed Judah back to Jeremiah and followed Officer Hartford out the door with a final wave.
"Alright guys, let's clean this place up for our guests." Jeremiah said and the boys cleaned up for Leonard and Marie Richards. Judah was put in a playpen with toys and his sippie cup.
'I hope they aren't overly nice.' Jeremiah thought as he tidied up the living room.