Chapter 15 - Welcome

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The last sixteen months of Joe's life had been horrible and he had no one to blame, but himself. He could still remember the stinging on his face as a reminder. He knew she hated him, that message had come through from Owen. He also knew that she had a boyfriend although Natalie wasn't convinced.

"How can she like him if she cries every time you're mentioned," Natalie had commented.

Joe didn't want to make her cry. That was the last thing he ever wanted, but it was now the only thing he did. He had just wanted to see her and talk to her. He hated for Owen to do his dirty work, but maybe Owen could talk to her when school started. If it wasn't for the fact that he knew the man must hate him, he would go and see Tim. Would Julie be sympathetic? No, he didn't think so, nor would Ava.

Meanwhile, his own brother was angry with him because he forced him to move. Part of his awful year and almost a half was because of the trouble that Caleb got himself into. Joe felt guilty because he was so into his own problems that he hadn't watched the kid well enough which was great since he was an educator of teens.

Currently, Caleb was pissed because he wanted Joe to take him to the lake that he had heard about.

"Sorry no can do, bud," he replied.

"Why not?" Caleb asked angrily. He was always angry.

"Because I'm not welcome there anymore... Maybe Owen will take you one day, but summer's almost over. I'll take you to the ocean it's like ten minutes away."

"Whatever..." he walked away and slammed the door to his bedroom in the crappy apartment that Joe had just rented.

Was he crazy to move back to Maine? He had to get Caleb away from the kids he was hanging out with. If it wasn't for Tommy the kid would be in juvie and have a record. Joe only knew about the drinking and if Caleb told anyone the extent of what he was up to it would have been Leah. Joe wasn't going to drop the ball this time; the kid would be going to the high school where Joe was going to be teaching. Their apartment was in a huge complex called Pineledge and was close enough to walk to school so if Joe had a late meeting Caleb could walk home.

"Listen," he called through the closed door. "If you don't want to check out the beach then I'm going to bring my stuff to school and start setting up my classroom. Do you want to come with?"

"Go to school in the summer? Fuck no!" Caleb called.

"Fine, then stay here and mope... Maybe if you're in a better mood later we can go check out the beach and get clams or ice cream or something..."

Joe spent half his time when he wasn't with Caleb tracking his phone to make certain the kid was where he should be. He wasn't concerned about him getting into trouble yet since he had no friends, but he did worry about him trying to return to Massachusetts on his own. Joe was too young to be the parent of a moody seventeen-year-old. The truth was after the year that Caleb had, Joe really couldn't blame him. Caleb took their mother's death hard and he hated Whitney with more passion than Romeo loved Juliet or was it Joe loved Ella.

Joe drove barely two minutes to his new school and found his classroom. He started with the same routine he had been following now for his sixth time. He wiped down his desk and arranged the students' desks which were always loud as they screeched across the floor.

"Hey I heard you down the hall," called out a voice.

Joe turned to see Karen who he had met in his interview. She was the English department's lead teacher and was assigned to be his mentor. A new school meant starting over with first-year probation and observations and all sorts of things that if he had never gone back home he would have been done with by now. Instead, he was in his third school in five years.

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