Sara pulled her white minivan up to the pick-up line of her daughters’ school and put the vehicle into park. She glanced back to four year old Jacob and smiled at the mini-version of her husband concentrating on the ‘Fun with Phonics’ DVD playing behind his mother’s seat back. She had just turned around to face the school when a sudden tap at her left caused her to jump. She turned to see Claire standing next to her window with one finger pressed against the glass giggling. Rolling down the window Sara laughed along with her sister-in-law.
“Thanks for the heart attack.”
Claire smiled, “No problem.”
Sara turned to her son in the backseat, “Jakey, I’m going to step outside and talk to Aunt Claire okay?”
“Mmkay momma.” He replied without turning away from his DVD.
Sara walked around to the other side of the van and slid open the back door so she could keep an eye on her young son. She then joined Claire on the nearby sidewalk as the two mothers waited for their children.
“Is Riley feeling better today?” Sara asked knowing that her nephew had missed school the day before with a stomach ache.
“He was back to his old self this morning, bouncing around the kitchen like a frog and asking to eat flies for breakfast.”
Sara laughed, “That sounds yummy.”
“When does Michael come back from his business trip?”
“He flies back from New York on Friday.”
Claire grinned, “Enjoying being a single mom this week?”
“Not at all! I don’t know how single parents do it, I’m going crazy!”
The blonde chuckled, “How are the girls doing?”
“Good... Oh! Wait until you see what Erin is wearing today.”
“Uh oh, another Erin Scofield Original outfit?”
Sara nodded, “Mike and I have given up on trying to convince her to dress like other kids. She marches to the beat of her own drum.”
“She’s artistic like her dad.”
“She’s like him in a lot more ways than that. She’s imaginative and introspective and so smart sometimes that she makes my head spin.”
Claire smiled, “Sounds like Michael alright.”
The school bell rang and the elementary school children began to file out of the big double doors. Riley was the first of the Scofield-Burrows clan to come out of the doors. He leapt down the school’s three steps in one big hop then ran over to his mother and aunt. After quickly greeting them both the six year old climbed into Sara’s backseat to talk to his little cousin. Izzie came out a few minutes later with Erin at her heels. Claire giggled when she caught sight of Erin’s outfit. She was wearing a short sleeve blue polo shirt over a long sleeve grey t-shirt; green leggings stuck out from under a ruffled pink skirt and on her feet she had a pair of shiny red flats.
Wide-eyed, Claire looked over to Sara and mouthed, “Wow!” And Sara nodded in response.
Izzie got to the two moms first, greeting them each with a hug before hopping into the front seat of the van. Erin shuffled along behind her big sister with her head hanging down.
“Hi Erin, you look pretty today.” Claire said as she passed.
“Thanks,” The little girl mumbled as she walked straight over to Sara and wrapped her arms tightly around her mom’s waist.
Claire’s eyes moved down to the little girl where she noticed a dark grey smudge of dirt standing out against the pink fabric, “You have some dirt on the back of your skirt sweetie.” She moved forward and swiped her hand over the fabric knocking the loose dirt to the ground, “Did you fall?”
Erin nodded without speaking, her arms tightening further around her mother.
Sara stroked her younger daughter’s auburn hair, “What’s wrong honey?”
“Nothing.” Erin loosened her arms and looked up to her mother’s face, “Can we go home?”
“Sure, go buckle in.”
Claire and Sara exchanged confused looks before they said their goodbyes and climbed into their respective vehicles. Once buckled into her seat Sara turned around to see Erin staring out the window, her eyes glassy with unshed tears.
The concerned mother looked over to her other daughter sitting next to her, “What’s going on with your sister?”
“She... Uh...” Izzie looked back at Erin who was now watching her big sister with pleading eyes. She turned back to her mom and shrugged, “I don’t know.”
Sara grumbled under her breath then began her drive home glancing occasionally at Erin through the rearview mirror. She was used to her younger daughter being quiet but not like this. As she continued down the road she heard increasingly frequent sniffles and then Jacob’s small voice confirmed her suspicions.
“Mommy, Erin’s crying.”
“Honey...” Sara leaned forward to better see Erin in the rearview, “Please tell me what’s wrong. Do you feel okay?”
Bringing her hands up to cover her tear-streaked face Erin answered in a squeaky voice, “I just want to go home.”
Sara gave Izzie another questioning glance and once again got a non-convincing shrug in response.
Once the group got inside the house Erin walked over to the stairs and stepped onto the bottom step looking back at her mom.
“Can I go lay down? I have a headache.”
Sara sighed, they needed to talk but it could wait until later, “Yeah Erin, go ahead.”
After watching her younger daughter ascend the stairs Sara turned to Izzie with her hands on her hips, “I’m only asking you one more time Izzie, what’s going on?”
“Mommmm... She asked me not to tell you.”
“Isabella Rose Scofield.” Sara warned.
Izzie slumped her shoulders and let out a huff of breath, “Some kids were picking on her on the playground.”
“I don’t know.”
“Don’t you two have the same recess time?”
Izzie nodded, “I was playing with my friend Rachel and I saw Erin standing behind a tree crying so I went over.”
“She just said that someone was calling her names but she wouldn’t tell me who, she just kept crying.”
Sara frowned, “Did you tell her teacher?”
“She didn’t want me to tell anyone mom... Not even you.”
“Well thank you for telling me anyway honey.” Sara pulled her into a hug then kissed the top of her head, “Do you have homework?”
“Yeah, stupid math and dad’s not here to help me.”
“Why don’t you go start it and I’ll come help you after I talk to your sister?”
While Izzie picked up her back pack and walked into the living room to do her homework Sara grabbed Jacob’s hand and walked up the stairs with him. After dropping the four year old off in his room to play she stopped in the bathroom to rummage through the medicine cabinet before continuing down the hall. She reached Erin’s closed bedroom door and knocked lightly, waiting until she heard a squeaky ‘come in’ before turning the knob. She swung the door open to find Erin lying on her stomach on top of her covers with her forehead resting on her crossed arms. The little girl had already changed into her pajamas and the random clothing she was previously wearing was strewn around on the floor.
Sara walked over and sat on the side of Erin’s bed rubbing her hand over the nine year old’s back to get her attention.
She sniffled a few times before turning her face towards her mother, “Yeah?”
Sara held out her hands revealing two tiny orange pills and a cup of water, “I got these for your headache.”
Erin half sat up giving her mom a guilty look, “I don’t really have a headache momma, I just didn’t want to talk about it. I’m sorry I lied.”
She set the pills and water down on the nearby table, “That’s okay. Do you want to tell me why you’re so upset now?”
Erin put her head back to her pillow with a slight shrug of her shoulders.
Sara stroked her daughter’s hair, “Izzie said you had some problems on the playground...”
Erin sat up quickly, “She wasn’t supposed to tell!”
“Don’t be mad at your sister. I made her tell me and you shouldn’t be keeping secrets from me anyway.”
Erin nodded making her tears once again run down her cheeks, “I’m sorry mom.”
Sara opened her arms to her teary child, “Come here.”
Erin crawled closer and snuggled into her mom’s arms. Sara pressed a kiss into her hair and couldn’t help but be reminded again of how much like Michael that Erin truly was. Yes, she was intelligent and creative but she was also very receptive of other’s feelings and hated to think that she might have disappointed anyone, especially her parents.
After a few silent minutes of snuggling Erin pulled away and whispered, “They said I was weird.”
“Some kids on the playground. I don’t know their names but I think they’re in Izzie’s grade.” Erin swiped her forearm across her nose before continuing, “They kept picking on me, said my clothes were ugly and that I looked stupid.”
Sara cupped her daughter’s cheek in her hand, “Well that’s just not true. They’re probably jealous because their parents don’t let them dress how they want.”
Erin didn’t quite meet her eyes, “They called me names too.”
“Weirdo and nerd and teacher’s pet... Then I started crying and they called me a baby.”
“You’re not a baby, you’re just sensitive.” Sara reached out to take Erin’s hands but the little girl hissed in pain, instantly pulling them away. “What’s wrong with your hands?”
Erin tucked them behind her back, “Nothing.”
Sara raised an eyebrow, “Let me see.”
The little girl reluctantly held out her hands to reveal several deep red scrapes on her palms, “What happened?” Erin shrugged. “Did you fall?” When the little girl shook her head a flash of realization lit up in Sara’s eyes, “Did they push you down?”
Erin’s shoulders fell as she quietly spoke, “Yes.”
“Did you tell the teacher?”
She shook her head, “No.”
Erin buried her face back in her pillow and began crying again, “I dunno.”
Sara leaned down and pressed her lips into her little girl’s auburn hair then rubbed her back, “I’m going to get something to clean those scrapes. I’ll be right back.”
Erin nodded against her pillow and Sara stepped out into the hall almost running right into Izzie who had been listening to the conversation from the hallway.
“Izzie, you scared me.”
The eleven year old peeked curiously into the room before following her mom towards the bathroom, “Did she say who it was?”
“She doesn’t know their names but she thinks they’re in your grade.”
From the bathroom doorway Izzie watched her mom gather a bottle of peroxide, cotton balls and gauze, “Are the scrapes bad?”
Sara looked at Izzie’s worried expression in the reflection of the mirror, “I think they’ll look better once I’ve cleaned them.”
“I wish I knew who did it.” She said through clenched teeth, “I’d make sure they never did it again.”
“Izzie... I don’t like that tone.”
“But mom it’s not fair. They’re picking on her because she dresses different and she’s smarter than them. That’s just stupid.”
Sara turned around to face her, “I agree but that doesn’t mean getting angry is the answer.”
Izzie bowed her head, “I’m sorry I didn’t look after her better mom.”
“That’s not your job honey. A teacher should have seen what was happening and stopped it.”
“But it is my job!” Izzie persisted, “I’m her big sister! I’m supposed to protect her...”
Sara stepped closer and wrapped her arms around her older daughter’s shoulders, “Don’t worry Izzie, you’re a good big sister and Erin knows it.”
“But still… I should be playing with her more often.”
Sara looked at her daughter curiously, “What does Erin do at recess?”
Izzie shrugged, “She usually draws on the sidewalk or sits by herself on one of the swings. Sometimes she sits at the teachers’ table and does the crossword puzzles that her teacher makes the bad kids do... but she does it for fun.”
“She doesn’t play with her friends?”
The little brunette bit her lip, “I don’t know if she has any friends.”
Sara’s eyes saddened at this, “And you don’t play with her?”
“Sometimes I do but she tells me that I don’t have to. She says that she knows I want to go play so she tells me to leave her by herself.”
“Oh...” Sara could feel tears prickling at her eyes but she managed to push them away, “Um... Let’s go clean up Erin’s cuts okay?”
Izzie nodded and followed her mother out of the bathroom and down the hall to her sister’s room.
Shortly after eight that night the phone rang and Sara answered knowing it was her husband calling for another daily report. Michael listened attentively as she filled him in on the day’s excitement. His heart broke as he realized his youngest daughter was going through the same type of teasing he went through as a kid.
“Is she okay now?”
“I don’t know Michael.” Sara said quietly, “I can’t remember the last time I saw her so upset.”
“Is she around? I want to talk to her.”
“Yeah, one second.”
Sara walked upstairs and found her daughters sitting on top of Izzie’s bed playing Uno. They turned to her as she entered the room and smiled. She held the cordless phone out for Erin who looked at her questioningly.
“It’s your dad sweetie, he wants to talk to you.”
“Did you tell him?” She watched her mom nod then drooped her shoulders as she brought the phone up to her ear, “Hi daddy.”
“Hi baby, mom told me what happened. Are you alright?”
Erin checked to see that her mom had left the room before answering, “It wasn’t that bad dad. The scrapes are really tiny and mom’s just making a big deal out of nothing.”
From her spot on the bed Izzie was giving her sister a disapproving look, “Erin…”
The little redhead put her finger up to her lips to silence her sister as she listened to her dad speak again.
“Honey, I don’t think your mom is overreacting in this case.”
“But daddy – ”
“Uh uh,” Michael dismissed, “I’m serious Erin. If this happens again you need to go to a teacher.” He paused a few seconds waiting for her reply, “Erin?”
“I will dad.” She finally conceded.
“Good… Is your sister around?”
Erin looked towards Izzie, “She’s right here.”
“Okay I’ll talk to you tomorrow Erin. I love you.”
“Love you too daddy, bye.”
Izzie took the offered phone from her little sister, “Hello daddy.”
“Hey Izzie, you doing okay?”
Michael frowned, “Worried about your sister?”
“Me too.” He admitted solemnly.
“Don’t worry dad, I’ll look after her tomorrow.”
“And if it happens again, promise me you’ll go to the teacher if she doesn’t?”
Izzie rolled her eyes, thankful that her dad couldn’t see her cross her fingers as she spoke, “I promise.”
“Do you need any help with your homework?”
“Nah, Erin helped me.”
Michael smiled into his cell phone, “That’s good.”
Sara came into the room, smiled at Izzie, and tapped on her watch.
“Mom is giving me the time’s up signal.”
Michael checked his own watch, “She’s right. You need to start getting ready for bed.”
“Okay, love you daddy.”
“Love you too sweetheart, goodnight.”
Sara finished smoothing peanut butter on the other half of Jacob’s sandwich then pressed it against the grape jelly side before cutting it into triangles and placing it on a paper plate in front of him.
Across the kitchen Claire was staring into her fridge, “I need to go shopping but I do have some apple juice.”
Sara nodded, “That’ll be fine.”
The petite blonde walked over to the small round table and poured the amber colored juice into her nephew’s sippy cup.
“Was Erin nervous about going back today?”
Sara sat back in her chair and crossed one leg over the other, “She kept asking Izzie if the clothes she was wearing were normal enough.”
Claire frowned, “Poor baby.”
The front door opened and closed then Lincoln’s voice echoed from the front hall, “I’m home!” He entered the kitchen a minute later giving his wife a quick kiss then greeting Sara and Jake.
“Home for the day?” Sara questioned.
He nodded, “I took a half day so I can work on a couple things around the house.”
Claire grinned, “Which is code for sitting around and doing nothing.”
The three adults chuckled as they began to eat their lunch of homemade chicken pot pie. Halfway through their meal Sara’s phone began to ring from within her purse. After retrieving it she checked the caller ID and frowned.
“It’s the girls’ school,” She pulled the phone up to her ear to answer, “Hello? … Yes, this is she… She did what!?” Sara groaned, “Thank you, I’ll be there soon.”
She hung up the phone and looked to Lincoln and Claire, “Do you mind watching Jake for a little while? I need to go up to the school.”
“We don’t mind at all,” Claire answered, “What happened?”
“Izzie got in a fight.”
Sara pulled into the visitor’s parking space at the school and let out a deep breath. From next to her Lincoln reached out and patted her back reassuringly.
“Thanks for coming with me Linc.”
The two adults walked through the heavy double doors of the school and straight into the main office where they approached the waist high counter. The older woman behind the receptionist desk looked up at them and flashed a polite smile.
“Hello Mrs. Scofield, we’ve been expecting you.” The secretary picked up her phone and dialed the principal’s extension speaking softly into the receiver, “Sara Scofield is here… Alright… Okay.” She hung up the phone and turned to Sara and Lincoln, “She’ll be with you shortly if you want to take a seat over there.”
Lincoln sat down with a light chuckle, “This takes me back.”
Sara raised an eyebrow at her brother-in-law, “I’m guessing you spent a lot of time in the principal’s office?”
He scoffed, “I was in my principal’s office more than the classroom when I was in elementary school.”
They both laughed quietly until they were interrupted by someone clearing their throat nearby. They glanced up to see Principal Rivers looking at them expectantly. Sara stood to her feet and extended her hand for a quick handshake.
“Hello Principal Rivers,” Sara motioned towards Lincoln, “I believe you know my brother-in-law…”
The other woman nodded, “Hello Mr. Burrows.”
“Hey,” Lincoln said before awkwardly shaking her hand.
“If you two will just follow me…” The principal said as she trailed off down the hall towards her office.
Lincoln and Sara walked a few steps behind her suddenly feeling as if they were the ones in trouble. As they entered the principal’s office they saw Izzie sitting off to the side with her arms crossed in front of her. She looked up into their faces with a smile that quickly faded when she realized how much trouble she must be in for her mom and uncle to come up to the school. Principal Rivers sat behind her desk waiting until the two sat down in the high-back leather chairs opposite her.
“Izzie,” The woman turned to the fifth grader in the room, “Would you like to tell your mom what happened on the playground?”
“Um… Well… They were picking on Erin again.”
Sara frowned, “The same kids from yesterday?”
Izzie nodded before continuing, “So I told them to stop and they didn’t and then one of them called me a name so I yelled at him and he said it again so I pushed him.”
“The ‘him’ in question is Trevor Rooney,” Principal Rivers added, “Izzie pushed him forward and he hit his mouth on the ground causing a cut on his bottom lip.”
Sara gave her daughter a disapproving look, “Isabella… What did dad and I tell you to do yesterday if it happened again?”
Izzie’s eyes fell to her lap, “Tell a teacher.”
“Did you tell a teacher?”
“No ma’am.” She mumbled.
Sara turned back to the principal, “Is Trevor okay?”
The other woman nodded, “He’ll be fine. The nurse cleaned him up and put a small bandage on his lip. We did have to file an accident report, a copy of which will go to his parents explaining what happened.”
Lincoln shifted forward in his seat, “Can we see the accident report?”
Principal Rivers opened a manila folder on her desk and handed a single sheet of paper to Lincoln who read over it quickly.
“This doesn’t say anything about the kid picking on Erin.”
“That wasn’t relevant.” She answered curtly.
“Yes, it was,” Lincoln said in a raised voice, “Izzie was standing up for her little sister. If this Trevor kid hadn’t started it in the first place none of it would have happened. Are you going to call his parents up here to tell them what their kid did wrong?”
“Mr. Burrows, that’s hardly the point. Izzie was the one to get physical so she will be the one to get punished.”
“Punished?” Lincoln’s tone went up again, “What kind of punishment are we talking about? You said yourself that the boy is fine.”
Principal Rivers pushed a small handbook forward, its pages opened and one section highlighted. Lincoln read over the highlighted area silently, his eyes shooting up to the principal when he was finished.
Sara’s eyes grew wide, “She’s going to be suspended?”
Principal Rivers nodded, “It’s all there in the Code of Conduct. Any fight leading to the injury of another student results in a minimum five day suspension.”
Lincoln made a move to stand up but Sara’s arm came up to hold him down, “She pushed the kid down for Pete’s sake. He did the same thing to Erin yesterday, why isn’t he getting suspended!?”
Sara put her hand on Lincoln’s arm in an attempt to calm him, “Linc…”
“No, Sara! This is ridiculous!”
“Mr. Burrows,” The principal said in an earnest tone, “Maybe you should wait out in the hall with your niece so I can continue to discuss this with Mrs. Scofield.”
Lincoln sat back in his chair and crossed his arms in front of him, “I’m not going anywhere.”
The principal looked to Sara in hopes that she’d encourage her infuriated brother-in-law to leave but was met with an equally annoyed glare from the mother.
“Izzie is an excellent student,” Sara said as calmly as possible, “She’s been on the A-B honor roll every year and before today has never gotten into any trouble. I could see if the boy was seriously injured but in this case I feel like the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.”
Sara raised her voice to interrupt, “What happens to the school work she misses out on? Will she be able to make up any tests she misses?”
“No,” The principal responded, “Any tests or assignments she misses while she is on suspension will be counted against her.”
Sara vehemently shook her head, “That is not right.”
“Those are the rules Mrs. Scofield. You received a copy of the Code of Conduct at the beginning of the year which you and your husband both signed and returned. By signing the book you have agreed to abide by the consequences set forth in the Code.”
Sara leaned forward in her chair and brought her hands up to her face. She was sure that if Izzie wasn’t in the room she would have broken down into tears by now. Moving her hands down to her lap she intertwined her fingers and looked seriously at the woman sitting across from her.
“How many days will Izzie be suspended?”
Principal Rivers’ looked back and forth between the two adults both staring heatedly in her direction, “Given the circumstances and the fact that Izzie has always been an exceptional student, I do agree that five days is extreme.”
Lincoln and Sara both exhaled out a relieved breath before the woman continued.
“However… Izzie needs to understand that violence is not an adequate solution and I cannot let her actions go without reprimand.” The principal checked her watch to see that it was half past noon, “I think that it would be best if Izzie’s suspension begins immediately and includes tomorrow as well.”
“But her teacher always gives a spelling test on Fridays.” Sara disputed.
The principal sighed, “You can talk to Izzie’s teacher and find out if she’d be willing to let her make it up on Monday but whatever she decides is final. If she says that she can’t make it up it will count as a zero.”
Sara nodded in understanding, “I’ll talk to her.”
“Mrs. Scofield I hope I don’t regret giving Izzie this break. I think that you and Mr. Scofield need to have a long talk with her about this incident. If it were to happen again I promise you I will not be lenient.”
“I completely understand and believe me when my husband gets back into town we will all sit down and discuss this.”
The principal stood to her feet and Lincoln and Sara followed suit. Sara extended out her hand to the woman, thanking her. Lincoln shook her hand as well but only muttered out a ‘thanks’ before turning from the office. Izzie grabbed onto his hand on the way out following him as they walked out of the main office and into the hallway.
“I’m going to go check with Izzie’s teacher about making up that test.” Sara said as she dug her keys out of her purse and handed them to Lincoln, “You two can go out to the car if you want.”
Lincoln nodded then walked with Izzie out to the parking lot. After a few minutes Sara joined them in the minivan with an accomplished smile on her face.
“She says you’ll be able to make up the test first thing Monday morning and she gave me some homework for you to do over your long weekend.”
Izzie took the worksheets from her mom and stuffed them into her backpack, “So I don’t have to go to school for the rest of today or tomorrow?”
Lincoln turned around in his seat to look back at her, “Nope!”
“This is not a vacation Izzie.” Sara said as she buckled up, “You’re still in trouble.”
Izzie looked at Lincoln and rolled her eyes causing him to laugh. Sara gave him a puzzled glare and he shrugged his shoulders in response before turning back to Izzie.
“What does this Trevor look like? Is he a big kid?”
Izzie shrugged, “He’s taller than me and he’s kind of chunky.”
A grin spread across Lincoln’s face, “So he’s bigger than you and you pushed him to the ground?”
“That’s my girl!”
“Lincoln…” Sara warned shooting him a sideways glance.
“What?” He said innocently before stretching his hand back towards Izzie for a high five.
Izzie giggled, “You know what else Uncle Linc? When they took him off to the nurse’s office he was crying.”
“You made him cry?” He asked elatedly, “That’s awesome!”
“Linc!” Sara said with a laugh, “Stop encouraging her!”
“He’s a bully Sara! Someone had to stand up to him!”
“And if she pushes him around what does that make her?”
Lincoln’s smile faded, “Oh yeah…”
“Oh yeah…” Sara said mockingly, “No more pushing anyone Izzie, do you understand me?”
“And later you’re going to call dad to tell him what you did.”
Izzie frowned, “But mommmm…”
“Sorry honey, you brought this on yourself.”
Letting out a deep sigh the eleven year old crossed her arms in front of her and stared straight ahead.
Lincoln turned around in his seat and winked his eye in her direction whispering, “I’ll talk to him first and tell him to take it easy on you.”
Izzie grinned and nodded.
“What was that Linc?”
He turned around in his seat flashing his sister-in-law his most charming smile, “Nothing.”
She eyed him then glanced back to her daughter questioningly through the rearview mirror and saw her giggling quietly but Sara could only shake her head at the two co-conspirators in the car with her.
Izzie trudged miserably up the stairs and into her room slamming her door closed behind her then ran over and plopped down on top of her bed. The phone call with her dad was just as awful as she’d been imagining it would be all day and now she had moved on to sulking in her room. She was just about to begin the first phase of her at-home punishment – cleaning her room – when a knock sounded at the door.
Erin peeked her head through the door and gave her sister an honest smile, “What’d daddy say?”
“He said he had to think about my punishment but that he wanted my room spotless by the time he gets home tomorrow.”
The younger sister shrugged, “That’s not bad, right?”
Izzie waved her arms around her heavily cluttered room, “Are you kidding? Look at this mess!”
“I’ll help you.”
“Dad says I have to do it myself.”
Erin walked over to Izzie’s bedroom door and closed it securely then turned around to smile at her big sister, “He won’t know.”
In his hotel room in New York Michael was busily packing up his suitcase while talking to his brother on his Bluetooth headset.
“No Linc, I can’t go easy on her about this. What if she would have really hurt that kid?”
Standing on his back porch Lincoln threw his arms up to the air in frustration before pulling the phone back to his ear, “But she didn’t Mike and she won’t do it again. She promised me that she wouldn’t.”
“Last night she promised me she’d tell a teacher if she saw those kids picking on Erin and she didn’t do that…”
Lincoln’s laughter interrupted his brother’s argument, “Yeah, she said she was crossing her fingers when she made that promise.”
Michael stood dumbstruck for a couple seconds before chuckling lightly, “This is entirely your fault you know? These are your genes coming back to haunt us.”
The brothers continued to laugh for another minute before Lincoln spoke up, “Hey Mike, do you remember the time that Ricky Johnson pulled your pants down in the middle of the playground?”
Michael groaned, “How could I forget?”
“And do you remember what I did to him the next day?”
“You gave him a black eye.”
“Right… And what did mom say?”
“Okay, okay… I know where this is going.”
“I stood up for my little brother because that’s what she wanted me to do. Izzie stood up for her little sister for the same reason. You and Sara have always told them to look out for each other just like mom told us.”
“I know.” Michael sat down on the edge of his hotel bed with a heavy sigh, “Alright, so how do you think she should be punished?”
“That’s your decision Mike.”
“But I’m asking for your advice Linc. This is the first time I've ever had to really discipline her for anything.” He hesitated before adding, “Please?”
Lincoln grinned into the phone, “Well, the easiest thing to do is take away what she likes the most…”
“But daddy! That’s not fair!!”
Michael stood over his older daughter with the sternest look he could muster as he tried to ignore her impending tears, “Sorry Izzie but this is my final decision – you’re grounded for two weeks, no TV and no computer unless it has to do with school.”
Izzie pulled her hands up to her face and began to cry into her palms. From next to him, Sara gripped Michael’s arm tighter knowing how hard it was for him not to sit down and comfort her.
Michael looked to the doorway where Erin was standing having obviously overheard Izzie’s sentence.
“What is it Erin?”
“If Izzie does extra good for a whole week can her punishment end sooner?”
Michael brought his fingers up to the bridge of his nose to rub at the headache beginning to form there, “What are you talking about honey?”
“Well…” The nine year old started as she walked over to the couch to sit next to her sniffling sister, “If Izzie is good in school all week and keeps her room clean and does all her other chores… Can the punishment end early?”
Sara had to bite her lip to keep from laughing as she turned to Michael, “I think she’s asking if Izzie can get her sentence cut short for good behavior.”
“Yeah!” Erin said excitedly, “Can she have that?”
“I don’t know honey…”
“But dad she was only protecting me! She shouldn’t get in trouble for doing that…”
The little girl stood to her feet putting her hands together in a pleading motion and stared at her dad with her bright blue eyes, “Please daddy?”
Michael hid his grin well as he stared down at his younger daughter, in truth Erin was suggesting what he was already planning to do. He let out a heavy sigh then spoke in a reluctant tone, “Okay.”
Izzie’s eyes grew wide, “Really?”
“But,” He stressed, “I want your room to be as clean as it is right now all week long and if I hear any bad reports from school you’re right back to two weeks.”
Izzie hopped up from the couch and wrapped her arms around Michael’s midsection, “Thanks dad.”
“You better thank your sister too. She just might have a career in the legal system with those bargaining techniques.”
Izzie turned back to her sister and hugged her neck tightly, “Thank you Erin.”
The younger girl smiled shyly, “Thanks for looking out for me yesterday Izzie.”
Izzie grinned, “That’s what big sisters are for.”
Author's Chapter Notes:
If you're new to the Izzie universe I'd recommend at least reading the first chapter of the original which can be found HERE just so you can understand some of the backstory.
This story begins two years after the last chapter of Izzie's Dad.
This story begins two years after the last chapter of Izzie's Dad.
Chapter End Notes:
A/N: For those who don't read my livejournal I just wanna say a big THANK YOU to everyone who nominated me & my stories for the fic awards. It really means a lot to me.