Derek bit his lip and looked at Mom. “What if he says no?”
“He won’t, but you need to ask him.” Sam patted his head. “Go ask.”
“But what if—”
“Derek, Dad loves you, and he’d do anything for you. Now go.” She gave him a slight push down the hall.
Dad was carving a pumpkin with Bailee and Dakota. “Eww, gross, Daddy. What is that?” Bailee asked.
“It’s the pumpkin’s guts!” He poked her nose with the stuff. “Muwhahaha.”
“Ewwwwww! Daddy! No!”
Dad laughed. “What, you don’t like pumpkin guts?”
“Okay then. How about I carve you a pumpkin? Want me to carve out a smiling, happy one? Not a scary one?”
Bailee nodded her head. “I want a princess one.”
“Okay, you got it, Princess.” Dad grabbed the carving knife and Derek hesitated to go and break up the fun. He was sure that Dad would say no.
Mom gave Derek another small push. “Eli, Derek has a question for you.”
“Mom,” he hissed.
“Come on over, Son. We’re making jack-o-lanterns! Right, Bailee?” Dad called out.
“I get a Princess one.”
Derek nodded, and sat at the table with Bailee and Dad. He watched as his baby-sister, Dakota play with some of the goop. Yuck. “That’s cool.”
“What do you want to ask?” Dad asked him.
Derek glanced over to Mom. She encouraged him in the way she moved her head and gave her that motherly-smile. Here it goes. “I was…well, you know how we’re going trick-or-treating at Grandpa’s?”
“Well, I want you to come with us, and Mom said you would, and I was…” he paused. He couldn’t ask. Dad was going to say no.
“And you were, what? Come on, bud, spill it.”
Derek hesitated. He could do this. There was no backing out. “Well, I got this cool Halloween costume from Grandpa, and I was wondering if you can dress-up with me?”
“And what are you dressing up as?” Dad asked. Derek tilted his head and saw that Dad was smiling at him. “I know Bailee’s going as a Princess, and Dakota’s going as a little fairy. So, what are you dressing up as?”
“A, um, a police officer.”
Dad laughed. “I should have figured as much, and Grandpa got you the good stuff for the costume, huh?”
Derek nodded. “He even gave me a badge like his! And I got fake handcuffs, and a squirt gun, and everything. Well, almost everything.”
“What are you missing?”
“Abadguy,” Derek mumbled.
“A bad guy, huh? What kind of bad guy?” Dad was teasing him, Derek could tell by the way he smiled. “Not one in striped pajamas?”
Dad laughed. “I already got the costume, buddy. So, you can’t take away my stripe pajamas. No way. I am going as a fugitive and you can be the cop that stops me.”
“You can be Grandpa,” Mom added to Derek as she lifted Dakota out of her chair.
Derek’s eyes widen. “I can!”
“Yup,” Dad said and laughed a little. “The only guy to really catch me was Grandpa. Now, let us finish this pumpkin carving ritual!”
Derek laughed in the car. Dad looked funny in white and black stripes. Mom dressed as a vampire. That was cool too. They pulled up to Grandpa’s house, and Derek hopped out. He loved his costume. He wore the police shield his grandpa gave him just like Grandpa did when he wore a suit. Mom said he looked like Grandpa the way he was dressed.
Derek held up his plastic handcuffs. “Now can you wear them, Dad?”
“Hold on. Let me get Dakota out of her car seat first.” He lifted Dakota out and placed her on the ground. “Go follow Mommy.”
Dad turned and held out his hands. “Okay, now you can put the fake handcuffs on.”
“But they go in the back…don’t they?”
“Yes, but I need to be able to hold your sister’s hand. Hurry up before Grandpa spots your surprise.”
Derek placed the plastic handcuffs on Dad, and said, “You’re under arrest.”
“Oh no!” Dad played up the shock, but he was laughing. Derek was definitely having fun. He loved his Dad even more for doing this with him. Dad motioned with his head to the rest of the family. “Okay, officer, let’s go see Grandpa.”
The two headed up to the the front of the house. Mom, Bailee, and Dakota were waiting for them. Mom promised that Derek could ring the doorbell and surprise Grandpa with the change in the costume. Though it looked like Dakota was trying really hard to press the doorbell.
“Hurry up, Derek,” Bailee said, and jumped a little.
Derek rushed to ring the doorbell and held his candy bucket.
The door opened and Grandpa laughed. “Well, well, what do we got here?”
“Trick or Treat!” Bailee and Derek said together, and Derek added, “Grandpa, I’m you!”
Derek nodded, and pointed to Dad. “And I caught a bad guy escaping!”
“Well, you certainly did a better job than me. Come on in.” Grandpa laughed. “Eli, you’ve never looked so good.”
“Har, har. The things I do for my kids.”
Derek pointed to the cuffs. “And look, Grandpa, I cuffed him…but he has to hold Dakota’s hand when we go trick-or-treating, so I can’t handcuff them in the back like I wanted.”
“Ah. Well, sometimes we put handcuffs on like this. Right, Eli?”
“Yup, I’ve worn them plenty of times like this.”
“For real?” Derek’s mind was exploding. Wow. So cool! He really was loving tonight more and more. “When?”
“Well, at the station when I first got arrested; when I got transported to the prison; and sometimes, even at the prison when I’ve been escorted to and from different areas.”
“That’s so cool.”
“Grandpa,” Bailee butted in. Ugh. She was so annoying sometimes. “I’m a Princess.”
“You are? Well, I think you make the most beautiful princess ever.”
“Are you going to join us, Dad?” Mom asked Grandpa. “Where’s Rebecca?”
“Ah, she’s feeling under the weather, so she’s at her place. I was actually going to head over there after I saw you guys. But I figured we can do some photos, and I’ll walk with you lot until we get to her house.”
“Wait? You’re still dating the neighbor?” Dad asked. “Man, I thought you’d have moved on by now…or married her.”
Mom slapped Dad’s arm. “Don’t give him ideas.”
Mom didn’t like Grandpa’s girlfriend, even Derek knew that. Mom tried being nice, but it was like when Derek was forced to be nice to Bailee. It showed!
Grandpa laughed though. “Oh, sweetie, those thoughts have already been in my head. I just haven’t got the ring yet.”
“You are hopeless, Dad. Can’t you just try and date other people?”
“Like you did with Eli? Nah.”
Dad laughed and Derek joined in, though he wasn’t sure why it was funny, but Mom’s face was funny, so it had to have been funny. Bailee joined in too, then Dakota.
Soon, Derek was getting restless. He wanted to go get candy! “Dad, can we go now?”
“Okay, okay. Let’s get some pictures with Grandpa, first, and then we can all head out. Okay?”
The rest of the night was a blur, as Derek went door to door yelling “trick-or-treat.” By the time they got home, Derek had a bucket full of candy. Dad tucked him in that night and smiled down at him. “Did you have a fun night?”
“The best,” Derek said through a yawn.
“Good. Sleep dreams. Catch them bad guys for me.”
“Okay.” Derek yawned again. He was asleep before Dad even left the bed.