Christmas is a bittersweet at the group home in our thriller novel and story, Book 1 Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas (only 99 cents Dec 21 – 25 on Amazon). Sure, the kids love getting presents but in our story there was one boy who acts up and realizes something is missing.
The story opens with Detective Tom Stone going with his partner Jake Sharpe to take presents to the kids and when Stone steps inside the group home, he notices a familiar setting:
Inside, there were a dozen or so long tables with a food service area in the back. A few women and men in hairnets were serving up hamburgers, hot dogs, plates of cookies and hot chocolate. It reminded Stone of the prisons he had seen when he had to interrogate inmates, but perhaps it was just a variation on an institutional theme.
He notices a boy who can’t sit still at a table packed with candy and who is creating a disturbance. The staff can’t figure out what to do with him.
“Sit down for Santa, Andy. Come on, man, be good.”
“I don’t want Santa. I want to go home.” Andrew grabbed the candy bar, ripped open the wrapping and stuffed it in his mouth.
A boy sitting across the table spoke matter-of-factly, “This is our home.”
Ivy Acres in the story is a clean place and the staff are friendly. But it’s not home and Stone recognizes this, nor can the boys go home.
Andrew is loosely based on a real life boy that I, Don, know — the oldest brother of my youngest adopted daughter. He grew up in a group home facility and his life after being emancipated has been one of moving in and out of adult group homes, hitting the streets, having a girlfriend and baby, then getting busted for drugs and armed robbery.
He’s gone into county jail, state prison, and now back in county jail but is really wanting to change. The abuse he suffered in his first few years of life and then lack of family has had a permanent impact on the choices he’s made.
He’s impulsive and his path through foster care and into an institutional setting has been his path to incarceration as a man.
The relationship with Andrew deepens in the next two Tom Stone novels and our short story, A Deadly Path.
During Christmas, getting presents from Santa isn’t a substitute for a family. And Detective Tom Stone sees this and makes a decision himself.
We’re currently writing Book 4 so stay tuned for updates.