Derek couldn’t contain his grin as Grandpa pinned the shield on his chest. Grandpa grinned back, and whispered. “Very proud of you, Ric. Very proud.”
With that, the ceremony was over. It had been a quick one, and one that Derek wanted to remember his entire life. It had taken him longer than he anticipated to get into the academy. Before he graduated high school, Derek figured he was a shoe-in for a spot. After his first rejection, he ran to his grandfather. He was Chief of Police after all.
“Derek,” Grandpa said. “Stop. Listen. This is exactly why you’re not getting in. You’re not mature enough or ready. I had nothing to do with this. And I am not going to use my position to get you in. That wouldn’t be fair to someone that is ready. It’s not the end of the world. You can reapply, and hope that the next round you’ll get in.”
“No buts. Derek, if you want this, you need to work for it.”
“You really won’t help me?”
Derek didn’t talk to his grandfather for a few months after that. He almost wanted to give up. He could not believe he didn’t get in. He found himself back to being the failure he always knew he was. He didn’t succeed in school. He struggled, in fact. And now this?
Dad though convinced him to reapply. “You can’t give up. This has been your dream since you were about three. I remember the first time Grandpa bought you a wooden police car. You were so happy.”
Derek nodded. He had heard the story before. He even knew that his parents kept the toy. “I’ve heard the story.”
“I know, I know. But what you didn’t know at the time was that I was still pretty much dead set on hating the police. So, to see you so excited with a police car? It practically killed me.”
Derek balked. “You hated the police?”
Dad snorted. “Please, I was a punk-ass kid when I was your age. The police were out to get me.”
Derek laughed. “I guess you’re right. I mean, Grandpa sure did chase you down.”
“Brat.” Dad laughed and shook his head. He grinned at Derek. “You know, you’re the whole reason that my relationship with your grandfather changed. The more you wanted to be him, the more I wanted to respect him. I saw a future for you that didn’t have prison bars. It’s all I ever wanted for my kids. And as a new father, that was my biggest fear for you.”
Dad patted Derek on the back. “That’s why I have always supported this, because I wanted you to have dreams that were bigger than me. I much rather see you arrest a thousand guys like me, than be like me for one day.”
“So, you really want this for me?”
“Always have, son. Always.”
Derek reapplied, and reapplied again. It took almost two years after graduation, but he finally got in. Then, for six months he trained through the hardest line of education he ever imagined, and he thrived. He succeeded. He was the top of his class at the academy.
Now, here he was, a San Myshuno police officer.
The party after the graduation ceremony was set at a sports bar and grill place. Brandt and Derek sat together in their matching blue uniforms.
That was another added plus to this whole thing. When Derek was about to completely give up after several more rejections, Brandt stepped up and convince Derek to keep applying.
“I’m just done with it. I’m never going to get in.” he told Brandt when they were at the gym. Derek had been working out since the first rejection letter that came in, and Brandt joined him most days when he wasn’t working at the SimPlus Gas Station.
“Dude, stop. You can’t give up. This has been like your whole life, yo. Look, how about we both apply?”
Derek tiled he head. “You want to be a cop?”
“Babes do love a man in uniform, you know? I could be the babe magnet. They can’t say no to this in uniform right?” Brandt motioned down his body.
Derek rolled his eyes. “You’re a freak, dude.”
“So, is that a yes?”
“Fine. I’ll apply again. But you have to take this seriously, Brandt. If you get in, you take the opportunity even if I don’t make it.”
“Same goes for you.”
They shook on the deal, and a few months later they got their acceptance letters, and once they got to the academy discovered they were in the same class. As Brandt said, “it’s totally destiny, man.”
Kody teased his brother across the table. “Hey, I thought you hated being a twin, B.”
Brandt stuck his tongue out. “Shut up. Jock.”
Kody grinned. “That’s Mr. Freshman MVP. Thank you very much.”
Dad shook his head. “I still do not know how the hell you did that, Kody. I mean, we all have seen you play, but damn, first time out on the court. First string too. USM picked a hell of a player. March Madness was just that, madness.”
Kody nodded. “I know, right? I didn’t think I was that good last season, but hey, I’ll take the attention. On and off the courts.” He waggled his brows.
“Kody,” Mrs. Lamb sighed. “Your mother is sitting right here.”
Dad and Mom both laughed.
Grandpa even chimed in. “The side-effects of your kids growing up, they become adults with actual sex lives. I learned that the hard-way.” He glared at Dad, and Derek laughed. “Still can’t believe you, Sam, sleeping with a criminal.”
“But he’s a cute criminal,” Mom said leaned across the table to kiss Dad.
Dad shook his head and laughed. “I am not cute, Sam.”
Derek woke in the morning excited. First day. He had to keep himself from climbing out of the bed before his alarm on his cell went off, but when it did he practically flew out of the bed. He pulled out his pristine ironed uniform that Mom made sure was wrinkle free the night before.
Once dressed he headed out to the kitchen where he found Bailee and Dad arguing. “Come on, Dad. I’m sixteen!”
“Ugh, this isn’t fair!”
“What’s going on?” Derek asked as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
Bailee scowled. “Dad’s being a jerk, that’s what.”
Dad shook his head. “Bailee, you’re pushing it. I gave the same exact deal to Derek when he was your age.”
“Yeah, and he almost got shot!”
Derek arched a brow. “Huh?”
“Dad won’t buy me a car.”
Now Derek understood. “So? I had to earn money for mine. And I still worked at Marv’s even after the robbery.”
Dakota interrupted everyone. “Could you all just please! I’m trying to sleep.”
Dad tilted his head toward her. “You should have been up twenty minutes ago, Dakota. I told you that twice already. Now, get dress and ready for school. And don’t even think about trying to play hookie like you did last week.”
Derek finished his coffee and grabbed his keys. “Well, it’s been fun, but I am out.”
“Good luck,” Dad called out.
Derek arrived at the precinct twenty-minutes early. It really wasn’t planned that way. He just got lucky with the traffic on the 45 Freeway. Oh, who was he kidding? He knew he was going to be super early. He had been living for this moment since he could remember.
He headed inside, and checked his email on his cell. It gave him all the details on where to check-in and where to go.
“Hey, Greenie,” someone called out. “Yo, new guy.”
Derek popped his head up, and saw a middle aged female officer behind a desk. He went to her since she was motioning him forward.
“What’s your name, Officer?”
She tapped some stuff on the keyboard and grinned. “Well, aren’t you something special. It says you’re to report to the Chief of Police first thing.”
He rolled his eyes. “Figures.”
She showed a small interior map of the giant precinct, and pointed to where his grandfather’s office was, not like he didn’t know. He’d been there a ton of times. “I know how to get there,” he said.
“Oh. Okay. Well, go in. And good luck.”
Derek headed through the precinct, and stood proud wearing his uniform. He headed up to the top floor and weaved through several departments until he found Grandpa’s office. His secretary smiled. “He’s right inside, Derek.”
“Thanks.” Derek headed inside and stood tall. “Officer Der—”
“Stop.” Grandpa laughed. “Relax, kiddo. Sit. I wanted to talk to you before word got around.”
Derek sat, confused to why Grandpa wanted to talk to him even more now. “What’s going on, Grandpa?”
“I’m retiring, officially, next week.”
Derek jumped out of his seat. The hell? “What!”
Grandpa held his hands up. “Settle down, kiddo. I know it’s a shock, but I’m ready. I’ve been on the force since I was a little older than you. I’m tired. I turn seventy in a few months. It’s time, Ric.”
“But…but, I just got here.”
“And that’s why I waited to retire.” Grandpa grinned. “I wanted to be here when you finally wore the badge that meant everything to me for the past forty-five years. You get to take on my legacy, sport.”
“I…I don’t know what to say.” Derek frowned. “I was hoping to work here for a while with you as chief, sir. Have…have you told Mom?”
“Told your parents before the ceremony, but also made them promise not to tell you. I made the official announcement this morning via memo to all the departments, so that’s why I made sure you came up here first thing. I didn’t want you to hear it from anyone but me.”
Derek didn’t care about protocols or how it would look if someone walked in, he gave his grandfather the biggest hug right there. “I’m gonna miss you, Grandpa.”
Grandpa laughed. “Just because I won’t be here, doesn’t mean I won’t expect visits at the house, young man.”
Derek smirked. “I’ll always visit.”
They parted and Grandpa opened the office door. “Good. Now, let’s get you settled into the department. I think you’ll be happy with the unit I put you in.”
“You placed me in a specific department? I thought I was just going to be with all the other beat cops?”
“Yeah, well, I think you’ll like this a lot better.”