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Matt and Robbie sit on their beds in their room. Matt working on homework and Robbie reading a book. Ruthie walks in carrying the mobile phone.
"Robbie, it's for you," Ruthie says walking to his bed and handing him the phone. Robbie thanks her and says hello into the receiver. Ruthie hops up on Matt's bed and asks what he's doing.
"Calculus," Matt replies.
"What's calculus?" Ruthie asks.
"Really advanced math that's really, really hard that most people don't like doing," he informs her.
"You want to go get ice cream?" she asks him. "It'll give you a break from all that hard homework." Robbie hangs up the phone.
"Give me an hour," Matt tells her then looks at Robbie. "You want to come?" No response. "Robbie?" No response. Matt wads up a piece of paper and bounces it off Robbie's head. Robbie finally turns to look at them. What?" Robbie asks.
"Would you like to go get ice cream with us in an hour?" Ruthie repeats the question.
"No thanks," Robbie replies reopening his book. Ruthie shrugs and hops down, grabs the phone, and leaves the room, closing the door behind her. Matt eyes Robbie suspiciously.
"What's the book about?" Matt asks but gets no response. Matt puts his homework down and leans over and grabs the book out of Robbie's hands. Robbie looks at Matt in surprise.
"Do you want to read it?" he asks.
"Who was on the phone?" Matt asks.
"My mom," Robbie replies taking his book back.
"What'd she want?" Matt asks.
"Um, nothing," Robbie replies giving it careful thought. He closes his book and sets it down.
"Come on, something she said must have bothered you," Matt tells him.
"It's nothing," Robbie tells him as he stands up and walks out. Matt shakes his head and gets back to his homework. He walks into the bathroom and shuts the door behind him. He walks to the window and stares out at the overcast sky and begins crying silently.
TWO DAYS LATER - TUESDAY
Ruthie walks in the front door of the house and looks around at the empty rooms. She wipes tears from her eyes and quietly heads upstairs. Lucy and Simon walk in through the kitchen door to greet Annie with the twins.
"Hi, where's Ruthie?" Annie asks.
"She went to the front door," Simon tells her. "Did I get any mail?"
"No, but how was your guys' day?" she asks them.
"Okay," Simon shrugs, grabs a peach, and heads upstairs.
"And you?" Annie asks Lucy.
"Fine," Lucy replies and heads upstairs after Simon as Eric walks in the door.
"How was your day?" Annie asks with a slight smile.
"Boring," Eric replies. "I didn't do a whole lot other than work on my sermon." He sits down with her. "How was your day?"
"Well thank you for asking," Annie replies with a smile. "It was....boring," she lowers her head in humor over the situation then looks back up at him. "I feel like soaking in the tub."
"I feel like playing my guitar," he tells her. "Maybe I can serenade you as you soak."
"Don't press your luck," Annie warns him. They both stand and grab a twin and head upstairs. As they reach the top of the stairs they see Lucy come down from her room.
"Hey, do you guys mind if I go meet some friends at the pool hall?" she asks. "We were going to do a group study thing for a test tomorrow and it's a really hard test so we wanted to start studying early."
"Um, that's fine," Annie replies. "Is Ruthie upstairs?"
"Ya, she's doing homework," Lucy tells her and goes on downstairs, passing Robbie on the way up.
"Hey, do you work or have class tonight?" Eric asks him and he shakes his head no. "Good, would you mind watching the boys for awhile?" They hand Sam and Dave off to Robbie.
"Robbie!" Sam cries out and he smiles slightly as he takes them down to his room. Eric and Annie both head to their room.
Eric is sitting on his bed playing his guitar and singing when Ruthie walks in. He looks up at her and smiles as he's singing. She walks around and sits on the bed next to him, leaning against the headboard. Her eyes drift from him down to the bed as Eric continues to sing and play.
"Something wrong?" he asks her as he stops playing but she doesn't answer. "Ruthie?" again no answer. Eric takes his guitar off and sets it down on the floor beside him. As soon as he turns back around, Ruthie leans over and hugs him, resting her head on his chest. Eric smiles as he returns the hug. "I love you too," he tells her. After a few seconds pass he says, "Ruthie?" No reply. He puts his hands on her arms and pushes her away from him to look at her face and sees her face stained with tears. "Ruthie, what's the matter?" She leans back in again, hugging him as she rests her head on his chest. Confused, Eric simply continues to hold her, rubbing her back. "It's okay," he gently whispers to her in a soothing voice.
Annie comes out of their bathroom wearing her robe and sees the two of them. She gives him a questioning look and Eric gives her an 'I don't know' look. Annie sits on the bed next to them and rubs Ruthie's upper arm.
"Ruthie, honey," Annie says, "are you alright?" Ruthie looks across the room for a couple more seconds then jumps up and runs out of the room.
"What was that all about?" Annie asks.
"I don't know," Eric replies, "but I intend to find out." Just then the phone rings and Annie picks up.
"Eric, it's for you," she hands him the phone and gets up to get changed.
Robbie walks into the living room to see Ruthie sitting on the couch staring at the turned off TV.
"You know, the TV is usually more interesting when it's on," he informs her but she doesn't reply. He nods quietly and walks over and sits beside her. "Bad day?" he asks. Ruthie nods her head to say she is. "Me too. Been a bad week in general?" Ruthie nods again. "Me too. Feeling kinda down and depressed?" Ruthie nods again. "Me too. You want to go get ice cream so we can drown our sorrows in sugar together?" Ruthie nods and they stand up and head for the front door. He thinks, and walks over to the desk and writes a quick note saying, "Taking Ruthie out, be back soon. - Robbie" The two walk out of the house.
Simon hears a knock on his door and sees Eric walk in.
"Hey Simon," he says as he sits down on Simon's bed where he's reading a magazine. "How are you?"
"Fine," Simon replies. "Did you want something?"
"Ya, actually," Eric replies. "Do you know what's bugging Ruthie?"
"No, but she did seem unusually quiet in the car," Simon tells him. "I guess I didn't think too much about it. I can go talk to her if you like."
"No, Robbie took her out," Eric explains. "I just wanted to see if you knew what her problem might be."
"I guess I don't talk to her as much as I use to," Simon replies. "Actually, I don't talk much with anyone in this family anymore."
"Why is that?" Eric asks.
"I don't know," Simon replies. "Too busy I guess." (long pause) "I love you dad," Simon finally says and sits up to give Eric a hug.
"Love you too son," Eric replies giving him a hug. Matt walks in.
"Hey, you two wanna go shoot some pool?" Matt asks and Eric and Simon look up at him and agree.
"Lucy, what are your dad and brothers doing here?" Lisa asks from a table they're sitting at. Lucy turns around to see them walk in the door.
"I don't know," Lucy replies turning back around. "I don't usually worry to much what my family members do."
"That's kinda cold," Amy tells her.
"No," Lucy replies, "it's not that I don't care about them. But I don't concern myself with their every movement. So if they want to show up at the pool hall together, so what? Come on, we need to study."
"Hi Simon," a red haired girl says as she walks past Simon.
"Hi Abby," Simon replies with a smile.
"Looks like the pool tables are all being used," Matt says. "We could find a table and wait." They all agree and sit down at a table. A waitress walks over and takes orders for drinks from all of them and leaves to go get them.
"So Matt," Eric says. "How are your classes?"
"Killers mostly," Matt informs him. "A lot of hard material." The red haired girl walks past again and smiles at Simon. Simon smiles back.
"Cute girl," Eric elbows Simon and Simon gives him a 'whatever' roll of the eyes. "So how's school going?"
"Oh, same old, same old," Simon replies. "Not much happens there. But that's the story of my life, boring. I can't wait till I can get old enough to move away from Glen Oak and experience some adventure in my life."
"Life can be an adventure anywhere you are," Eric tells him and Simon shakes his head as the waitress returns with their drinks.
Eric, Matt, Simon, and Lucy return home together.
"That's a real bummer that we never got a table," Simon tells everyone. "But nice that we had some time together." Eric smiles and agrees as the kids all head upstairs. Eric spies Robbie sitting in the living room watching TV and walks in.
"Where'd you guys go?" Eric asks standing next to where Robbie is sitting, but Robbie doesn't hear him. "Robbie? Hello, Robbie!" Eric reaches down and turns off the TV and still gets no response. He sits down beside him and shakes his shoulder. Robbie jumps as he finally notices Eric sitting beside him.
"Huh?" Robbie asks. "What did you say?"
"I asked where you and Ruthie went," Eric replies. "But maybe you'd like to tell me what's on your mind?"
"We went to get ice cream," Robbie informs him. "Sorry I didn't specify in my note."
"That's okay," Eric tells him. "I trust you. Did Ruthie talk to you?"
"Not a whole lot," Robbie replies. "She kept to herself mostly."
"You didn't try to pry it out of her?" Eric questions.
"No, why, should I have?" Robbie asks. "I guess I really didn't feel that whatever she didn't want to talk about was any of my business."
"So what's wrong with you?" Eric asks.
"Who says anything's wrong with me?" Robbie asks.
"I did, now are you going to tell me or not?"
"I'm fine Mr. Camden, really."
"No, you're not, and I've noticed that over the past couple of days," Eric tells him. "You're distant like in some dream world, you isolate yourself, you just don't seem happy. I want to help, but I can't until you tell me what's been bothering you."
"I think you should be more concerned about Ruthie," Robbie says looking down. "Your family should be your first priority."
"Hey, you are a part of my family," Eric tells him and Robbie just shrugs. "We'll talk again later." Eric stands up and walks out. He greets Annie in the entry area as she comes down the stairs. "Have you talked to Ruthie?" he asks her.
"Yes, but no luck," Annie tells him. "She just won't talk. Maybe she'll talk to you since you were the one she seemed to initially reach out to."
"I give it a shot," Eric replies and heads upstairs. "Maybe you can talk to Robbie."
"What's wrong with Robbie?" Annie asks.
"I have no idea," he replies. He walks upstairs as Annie heads towards living room
Eric knocks on the girls door and walks in.
"Lucy, do you mind if I talk with Ruthie alone?" Eric asks. Lucy agrees and walks out as Eric walks over and sits on Lucy's bed and looks over at Ruthie who's laying on hers. "Are you going to tell me what's bothering you?" Ruthie stays quiet. "We'll sit here together for as long as it takes until you talk to me."
"You wouldn't understand," Ruthie informs him.
"Why is that?" Eric asks.
"Because you're not a girl and never have been," Ruthie replies and turns on her side, facing away from Eric.
"You're right," Eric tells her. "I'm not a girl. But I've counseled with all sorts of girls with all sorts of problems big and small. But if you like, I can go get your mother and you can talk to her."
"I don't want to talk to anyone!" Ruthie shouts. "Leave me alone."
"I can't, I'm your dad, it's my job. Come on sweetheart, tell me what's bugging you." Ruthie stands up on the side of the bed furthest from Eric and faces him.
"Fine, you want to know what's bothering me?!" Ruthie shouts. "Then here it is! Someone told me at school that I'm ugly and fat and one of my friends told me that her dad comes into her room at night and touches her where he's not suppose to! There, welcome to my world! I bet you'd have never guessed that!!" Ruthie turns to storm out, but Eric quickly jumps up to catch her. He looks at her on her eye level.
"Ruthie, you're not ugly, you're actually very beautiful," Eric tells her. "You're not fat, you're really very thin."
"You're just saying that because you're my dad," Ruthie tells him.
"Ruthie, God says not to lie and I wouldn't lie to anyone, Eric informs her. "You have a lot more going for you than you realize. And if some kid at school said all that, it's because she's jealous of you."
"You think?" Ruthie asks.
"I know," Eric replies. "But she'll never admit to it. In fact, if you said that to her she'd blatantly deny it. But you know it's true."
"Thanks dad," Ruthie tells him. "I love you."
"I love you to," he replies as they hug each other. "Now tell me about this friend of yours."
Annie walks into the living room and sits down beside Robbie with some milk and cookies.
"You know I'm not six years old," Robbie tells her.
"Good think," Annie says setting them on a table, "you'd make a very funny looking six year old. What's bothering you Robbie? You just haven't been yourself lately."
"Look, Mrs. Camden," Robbie says standing up. "I don't want to talk about it. Please, just leave me alone." He starts to walk towards the door into the entryway but Annie stands up and grabs his arm and turns him around to face her.
"I don't care if you don't want to talk about it," Annie tells him. "And I'm not going to just leave you alone because you are just as much a part of this family as everyone else who lives in this house. Eric and I have come to think of you as our son and we treat you as such. And when one of our children is hurting emotionally, we don't give up on them, no matter what. You're obviously hurting very, very deeply and it's affecting the rest of this family. We all love you, we all care for you, and we care enough not to let you go through whatever you're going through all on your own. We love you, Robbie, and nothing you can do can change how we think of you." Robbie, with tears welding up in his eyes, gives Annie a hug. LATER
Annie walks up to the second floor and meets Eric walking out of their room.
"Any luck with Ruthie?" Annie asks as they stop in the hall.
"Ya," Eric informs her. "She was lacking some self-confidence in what her appearance based off what some girl at school said to her and has a friend in desperate need of professional help and I just finished making some calls to social service who are immediately going to investigate the case."
"What case?" Annie asks, figuring he wouldn't say, but deciding to see if he'll tell.
"Ruthie has a friend who told Ruthie that her dad was molesting her," Eric tells her. "Ruthie's friend didn't say it in so few words, but that's basically it."
"Ugh," Annie gives a sound as though her heart is sick at the thought. "How, can any parent, do such a thing to their child?"
"I don't know," Eric replies putting an arm around his wife. "I can't even imagine what would go through a man's head to do such a terrible thing. It makes me sick to try and even think about it."
"Then lets not think about it," Annie offers. "It's done, you've done what you needed to do, let's leave it at that."
"Alright," Eric agrees. "Did you have any luck with Robbie?"
"Oh, not much," Annie says taking her head off Eric's shoulder. "He got teary eyed and we hugged, but he wouldn't talk about it. It doesn't seem like Robbie. He's usually one to talk about what's on his mind."
"I know," Eric replies. "Maybe I'll try talking to him in a little bit. Right now, I want to go up and talk with Ruthie."
"Mind if I join you?" Annie asks.
"I'd be delighted," Eric replies. "You are so beautiful, you know that?"
"And you are dashingly handsome," Annie replies. They give each other a kiss and head upstairs. Simon, who'd been standing in his doorway walks out and stares after them. Matt walks out of his room and sees Simon staring off into space.
"Something wrong?" Matt asks. Simon jolts back into reality and looks at his older brother.
"No," Simon replies. "In fact, everything's great." Lucy walks down from the attic. "You wanna go catch a burger?" Simon asks Matt. "And we can see if Robbie wants to come? After all, mom hasn't fixed dinner and seems a bit preoccupied tonight."
"Sure," Matt tells him.
"Can I come too?" Lucy asks walking over towards them. "This is the second time tonight that dad has kicked me out of my room to talk with Ruthie."
"Um, actually, I was just wanting to go out with the guys tonight," Simon tells her.
"Oh," Lucy replies half-heartedly. "Never-mind then." Lucy heads downstairs.
"That wasn't very nice, Simon," Matt tells him. "Lucy should come with us."
"Then it wouldn't be just us guys," Simon tells him.
"Ya, but Lucy's all alone tonight, and if mom and dad are preoccupied with Ruthie, I don't want Lucy to feel left out."
"But nothing Simon," Matt replies. "Either Lucy goes with us, or I'm not going. And if you were a good, loving brother, you'd feel the same way."
"You're right," Simon gives in. "Let's ask Lucy to come too."
"Ya, but change your attitude before asking so that she doesn't feel like you really don't want her to come," Matt warns him.
The four of them are sitting in a booth in a fast food restaurant eating dinner, Simon sitting next to Robbie and Matt sitting next to Lucy.
"So what's going on with you?" Simon suddenly asks Robbie.
"What are you talking about?" Robbie asks.
"I mean I overheard mom saying that she'd tried talking to you and that you wouldn't talk with her, you want to tell us so you can deal with it and move on?" Simon asks. Robbie eyes Simon who stares at him with a questioning look. Robbie looks over at Matt and Lucy who look at him as though they have no clue what Simon is talking about. Robbie looks back next to Simon.
"Get up," Robbie tells him.
"What?" Simon asks.
"I said, get up," Robbie says again. Simon stands scoots out of the booth and stands up. Robbie then scoots over and stands up.
"You want to talk outside or something?" Simon asks.
"No," Robbie tells him. "I wanted you to get up so I could get out. I'll meet up with everyone at home." With that Robbie walks out of the restaurant.
"Should I go talk to him?" Simon asks.
"No," Matt and Lucy say in unison.
"Simon, you made him feel trapped," Matt tells him. "He probably thinks that the only reason you asked him to go out tonight was to question him."
"Well, that was the general idea," Simon tells him.
"Oh, Simon!" Matt exclaims. "I can't believe you! You're worse than dad."
"Simon, you have to be a friend first," Lucy informs him. "Unless you're a professional and people seek you out for help and advice, people won't confide in you until you've earned their trust."
"You don't think I've earned Robbie's trust? He's been living with us for quite some time now," Simon tells him.
"Yes he has, Simon, but I also haven't noticed you two hanging out together very much," Matt replies. "Just hang out with him more. Go to the gym together and work out, go shoot hoops at the park or in the driveway, work on a car together, but don't just expect him to lay all his burdens down for you." Simon sinks back into the booth.
"Should one of you go after him?" Simon asks.
"He's old enough to take care of himself," Matt tells him. "He's not a child."
"Dad wouldn't let me go out like that," Simon replies.
"That's because your not 18 yet," Matt replies. "But with mom and dad it wouldn't matter since they got that parental instinct about them. But you, Lucy, and I don't have that yet in our lives. So we're just going to let him go for now."
Simon walks out of his room to see Ruthie standing next to the bathroom.
"What are you doing?" Simon asks.
"Lucy's hogging our bathroom, dad's using his, and Robbie's currently in here, and my bet's on Robbie finishing first," Ruthie explains. "Where are you headed?"
"Well, to the bathroom, but I can use dad's when he's done," Simon tells him.
"Oh," Ruthie replies. "Okay."
"So, got any plans for school today?" Simon asks her.
"No, not really," Ruthie replies. "You?"
"No," Simon replies. "I love you Ruthie," he tells her and gives her a hug.
"Love you too," she replies giving him a hug back.
"You're a great little sister and I just wanted to let you know that," Simon gives her a smile. Ruthie just shrugs. "Don't shrug, believe it!" He tickles her and she giggles. Simon sees Eric walk out of his room. "See, you lost your bet, dad was done before Robbie. I win." He gives his sister a kiss on the forehead and heads down towards Eric. "Dad, you don't mind if I use your bathroom do you? I mean, nine people and three bathrooms, gets just a little bit crowded if you know what I mean."
"It's okay Simon, just put everything back where you found it," Eric informs him.
"No problem," he replies and heads on in. Eric walks to Ruthie with a confused look on his face. "He seems a bit.....chipper, doesn't he?"
"You're telling me," Ruthie tells him. "He kissed my forehead. He never kisses my forehead, at least not usually."
"What are you doing?"
"Waiting for Robbie to come out so I can use the restroom."
"Why don't you use yours upstairs?"
"Because Lucy's hogging it and I figured I'd get in her faster," Ruthie replies.
"You feeling okay?" Eric asks her.
"No! I gotta go real, real bad!" Ruthie says with a panicked look on her face. Eric smiles.
"Hang in there, I'm sure he'll be out soon." Just as Eric said that, Robbie emerges with a towel wrapped around his waist. Ruthie rushes past him and slams the door, not noticing she snagged Robbie's towel by accident and caused it to fall to the floor. Robbie, embarrassed, quickly picks it back up and puts it back on.
"Boy, am I glad you're not Mrs. Camden, Lucy, or Ruthie," Robbie tells him.
"You'd be a little more embarrassed?" Eric asks and Robbie nods his head yes.
"Say, do you have any open slots today that I could drop by your office at church and talk with you?" Robbie asks. "I have the day off and figured it would be as good of a time as any."
"Actually," Eric replies. "I don't have any appointments this morning. Why don't you go get dressed and then we can sit down and talk here. I'll just call my secretary and tell her I won't be in until later."
"You can do that?" Robbie asks.
"Ya, I can do that," Eric tells him. "Go on, get dressed." Robbie nods and goes to his room as Eric heads downstairs. He makes his way back to the kitchen and finds Annie making a huge breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, and toast. "Has anyone ever told you that you look positively gorgeous when you cook?"
"What's got you in such a good mood?" Annie asks.
"This morning, everything just seems right with the world," Eric tells her. "Ruthie's doing great, Simon's just strangely happy, and Robbie asked if he could talk to me."
"Oh good," Annie replies taking some bacon of the stove and onto a plate. "Maybe he'll finally get whatever's bothering him out."
"You don't mind that it's not you he wants to talk to?" Eric asks.
"Eric, you've been more of a parent to him than me," Annie tells him as she moves over to scramble the eggs some more. "You took him in when I was against it, you believed in him when I didn't, you loved him when I couldn't. I'm not surprised that he wants to talk to you. You're a very easy man to talk to, you're a great listener, which is one of the qualities that attracted me to you in the first place. In fact, I always wondered what you saw in me, with all my imperfections and flaws. I was never a beauty queen, I was never on the A list, I was never in the popular groups, and I've made my share of mistakes in life. I mean, it was just a few years ago I finally told you I'd smoked pot. I can have such a short temper at times. I've doubted you and your sincerity on several occasions. I've been terrible to you during my pregnancies. I don't deserve you and I've never fully understood why you love me as much as you do." Eric, who stood there speechless through Annie's speech, finally walks over to her, puts his arms around her waist, pulls her away from the stove, and kisses her deeply for a few moments. Lucy walks down the kitchen stairs for breakfast, sees them and stops at the base of the stairs and smiles at her parents.
"Annie Camden, how can you think that?" Eric asks. "If anyone has flaws in them, it's me. I haven't been the best father to our kids, I yelled at you when you told me your secret about your past, I've doubted you and your sincerity on many occasions, I was the skinny, awkward boy who didn't seem to fit or belong anywhere. I always though you were out of my league. I wake up, every morning and look over next to me to see you and my heart leaps with excitement because I'm lying next to the most beautiful woman in all the world. How fortunate am I to have found the most beautiful woman in the world, a beauty that starts on the inside and works it's way out and you just radiate. I see you and I want to write a million love songs for you. I want to build a monument for you to express the love I have for you. I want to cherish you forever, for as long as we both shall live. You are my beloved, my wife, my best friend, my best companion," Simon and Ruthie join Lucy on the stairs, "my sweetheart, my sweetie, my partner in life, the mother of my children, the future grandmother of our future grandchildren, you light up my life, you give a sparkle to my eye, and you are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on. Annie Camden, if I had to do it all over again, the only thing I'd have done different was I wouldn't have waited so long to ask you to marry me." Matt and Robbie have been standing in the door leading into the kitchen from the hallway.
"If I had it all to do over again," Annie replies, "I'd marry you all over again. I love you Eric Camden."
"And I you, Annie Camden." They kiss deeply once again. Lucy puts her hand on her heart and sighs at the romanticness of it all. Lucy and Simon eye each other and smile because of their parents. Robbie puts a hand on Matt's shoulder and whispers, "You've got to be one of the luckiest people on earth to have such a wonderful family."
"Thanks," Matt whispers back. "Thanks for giving me your perspective of not having this kind of home to help me to realize that." Robbie nods. "Oh, what the heck," Matt says and opens his arms. They give each other a hug.
"Can we eat now?!" Ruthie calls out and Eric and Annie turn to realize they have a large audience. Annie blushes as she goes back to her eggs. Lucy jogs over to her dad to give him a hug as Simon walks next to his mom and puts an arm around her.
"Mom, I'm so glad you're my mom," Simon tells her. Annie looks over at him with a proud smile.
"Thanks Simon, I love you," she tells him and kisses his cheek. Ruthie comes over and jumps in Eric's arms.
"Daddy," Ruthie tells him. "Thanks for making me know I can always trust you and depend on you and love you. Thanks for being such a good dad that I never have a reason to be scared of you ever. Don't ever change." Eric smiles and hugs her tightly. Matt walks over to Eric and puts an arm around his shoulder.
"Love you dad," Matt tells him.
"And I love you," Eric says and kisses his cheek.
"Hey, do you think we could get out of school today?" Simon asks looking over at Eric. "Not because we want to get out of anything, but I'm really in the mood to just spend time with my family today."
"Ya, me too," Ruthie replies as Eric sets her back on the ground.
"Ya, I agree as well," Lucy tells him. "I only have a month and a half left of school before I graduate, then who knows what exactly I'll do for college. I'd like to have a memorable day."
"I'm up for it," Matt says. "I've been looking to take a day off from class and it just so happens, today is my day off from work."
"I think we can arrange it," Annie tells them. "What do you think dad?"
"Okay," Eric replies and his kids all cheer as Robbie silently slips out back down the hall. "Annie, you want to call the schools? I just need to call my secretary and ask her to reschedule my appointments."
"Sure," Annie replies, "but it can wait until after breakfast."
"What about Robbie?" Ruthie asks. "Can he spend it with us?"
"Of course," Matt replies. "He's as much a part of this family now as any of us."
"Where is Robbie?" Lucy asks looking around. "Wasn't he just here? I saw him give Matt a hug just a few moments ago."
"You guys hugged?" Eric asked surprised.
"So I've decided to give the guy a break," Matt tells him. "Guess I'm starting to think of him more like a brother now."
"I believe I saw him head down that way," Annie says pointing with her head towards the hall.
"I'll go get him," Matt says.
"No, no," Eric tells him. "I'll go get him." Matt eyes Eric suspiciously as he walks away.
"Does dad know something we don't?" Matt asks Annie after the rest of the kids make their way to the table.
"No," Annie replies. "Robbie hasn't been talking to any of us."
"Robbie?" Eric asks walking into the living room where he sees Robbie sitting, looking out a window. He pulls up a chair and sits next to Robbie. "What's going on?" he sees the tears on Robbie's face. Robbie notices Eric and quickly wipes them away.
"I just didn't want to interrupt in your family plans," Robbie tells him.
"Robbie, you know that any family plans we make includes you," Eric tells him.
"But I'm not one of you," Robbie tells him. "I wasn't born into this family. I'll never be one of you."
"You already are one of us," Eric tells him. "Your last name doesn't have to be Camden to be in this family." Robbie turns away from him. "Robbie, what's going on? What's been bugging you the past few days?"
A few moments pass before Robbie finally speaks. "My mom called on Sunday. She had news to tell me. My dad, took my youngest brother without my mom's permission, took him out of Florida and all the way to Georgia as they were driving around for who knows what reason...." he trails off.
"Go on," Eric encourages him.
"My dad got drunk at a bar, he got my underage brother drunk there too somehow," Robbie says fighting the tears that come anyway. "He got in his car, he was intoxicated way over the legal limit. They found no human remains from the accident. My dad drove right in front of a train and was hit, the car was totally destroyed, my dad and brother are dead!" Robbie falls out of his chair and onto the floor next to the wall. Eric gets up and moves the chairs away to get to Robbie. He gets down beside Robbie and holds him as a father would hold his young child who was crying. The sobs reach all the way to the kitchen and Annie, who's finished fixing breakfast, leaves to go to them. She finds them on the floor and walks over to them to help comfort Robbie. Eric whispers in Annie's ear what has happened. The kids make their way in, leaving the twins in their high chairs. They stand in the doorway holding each other.
"What can we do for Robbie?" Ruthie asks her siblings.
"There's not much we can do," Simon replies. "Mom and dad are taking care of him right now."
"We can be the brothers and sisters he's always needed," Matt tells them.
"And right now we can pray for him," Lucy tells them and they huddle together to pray.
As Eric and Annie hold and comfort Robbie and the kids move from their huddle to surround them, the song "You Are So Beautiful" begins to play as we fade out.
THE SONG THAT FADES OUT THE SHOW
You are so beautiful to me
You are so beautiful to me
Can't you see?
You're everything that I hoped for
You're everything that I need
You are so beautiful to me