Billy scurried along in Josh's wake as the big black man went around the building, prying nails from the plywood covering the windows and giving them to the boy to hold. Hope paused to watch him, amused at the seriousness of her son's concentration. He took two more nails from Josh, and put the handful in the carpenter's apron wrapped around his waist. Then he wiped his hands off on the seat of his jeans and waited patiently as Josh pulled more nails out. Her oldest foster-brother paused in lowering another sheet of plywood from the windows, met her gaze, nodded to her, then toward her son. He said something to Billy, making the boy look up. He waved and dug into the apron, proudly showing her the handful of nails. Hope smiled and nodded to him.
"That boy of mine needs to be a father in the worst way," Iris said, startling Hope as she came up behind her. She set a stack of sturdy, plain white plates and bowls down on the table. Tessa stepped up next to her and put down double handfuls of cutlery. "You're doing him a favor, letting him practice on Billy."
"Josh would make an incredible father." Hope forced a smile, despite the ache of an impending sob in her throat. "He's doing me a favor." She pressed her lips together, refusing to say anything disparaging about Ricky with Tessa standing there, her eyes wide, and her ears probably twice as wide open and eager to hear.