Chapter 34 - Answers

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She came in and immediately pleaded with Caleb. "I'm so sorry!"

Then she turned to Joe and said, "Mr. Walch, it was all my fault. I wasn't supposed to be driving anyone else."

Joe wanted to say so many things, but before he could Alexa's father introduced himself as Sean. "My wife and I had gone out last night. We didn't realize Caleb was coming over never mind that she was going to take the car across town to her friend's house. If we had known..."

"I thought he was at your house all night," Joe admitted.

As if on cue, Alexa pulled Caleb's phone out of her pocket and handed it to him. Joe had been duped and he wondered how many nights had he looked at his phone thinking that Caleb was someplace that he wasn't.

Sean seemed to understand Joe's confusion and said, "How about a cup of coffee? I think we can trust them here."

Once settled at a table in the hospital's cafe, Joe said, "I thought he was friends with Gaby. I didn't know about Alexa. I feel like a fool."

"No, she was nervous about facing you. Apparently, it was decided that because she's in your class. I didn't know about the secrets. Caleb started hanging around my stepdaughter, Gaby, but she is a fickle girl and dropped him. Apparently, Alexa befriended him. The girls couldn't be more opposite... Gaby, I fear will be pregnant before she graduates. Meanwhile, Alexa is normally a rule follower. I can't even blame Caleb, because she told me that he tried to talk her out of it.'

"No one told me... were they drinking?" Joe asked.

"No, Alexa runs track. She can't do any of that or she'll be off the team. With practice and meets she really only has time to hang around with friends on Friday and Saturday. She had never had Caleb over on a weeknight before. It isn't my job to chaperone Gaby, but I do Alexa and have enjoyed having Caleb in my house. Alexa's mother left her with me in the divorce and I think the two of them have the lack of mothers and abandonment in common."

"But your daughter has you and I know she's a good student," Joe reassured him.

"Yes, and Caleb has you..." Sean said.

"And he resents me for making him come home at eleven..." Joe said.

"He never complained, besides I have never invited him to stay longer. I think I was remiss in not touching base with you sooner. I didn't know that Caleb was keeping secrets. I should have stepped up after all I've been a parent a lot longer."

Joe laughed and said, "That's the problem. I'm not a parent... I'm a brother trying to muddle through."

Sean sighed and said, "I'm in the insurance business. I will need to give you all my information; unfortunately, my insurance will be responsible for all of Caleb's medical bills."

Joe looked at him and said honestly, "None of that had even crossed my mind." Sean nodded and Joe said, "I'd like to get back upstairs."

Alexa still looked guilty. "Don't worry I know it was Caleb who worked hard keeping me in the dark. No matter what happens, I'm not going to treat you any different in the classroom."

Alexa smiled with relief and turned to Caleb and said, "I told you he was a nice teacher."

Sean said, "Let's go so Caleb can rest."

Joe looked at his brother and said, "I wish you weren't almost killed for me to find out your secrets."

"I wasn't almost killed," Caleb complained.

"Thanks to your seatbelt and some luck."

Caleb didn't protest and they sat quietly for a while. The nurse came in and checked his vitals and asked for his level of pain. Joe could tell that he was being brave when he said it wasn't bad. At lunchtime, he had trouble sitting up.

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