L. Anne Carrington - Author
Donovan Klass is in the fight of his life.
Donovan Klass is in the fight of his life. A probation officer, he is the son of a seven-time cruiserweight wrestling champion. He has seen his daughter’s mother and his best friend climb to the very top of the pro wrestling world. Should he switch careers and become a wrestler? If he does, can he still be a good father to the daughter he adores and hold on to the beautiful ballet dancer who loves him?
A tiny finger poked the mound of bed covers. “Daddy.”
Donovan loudly groaned under the covers in response. It is Saturday morning, for Christ’s sake. Weekends are the only time I can sleep…oh, wait. Avadon is visiting.
Another poke. “Daddy.”
“Nobody here named Daddy,” he sleepily replied from under the covers.
“Uh, huh! You’re Daddy.”
He peeked out and grinned at Avadon, who stood beside his bed. “Says who?”
Donovan yawned and sat up. “If she says so, I guess I am.” He glanced at his bedside clock and saw the time was eight-thirty. “Why are you awake so early, baby?”
Avadon made a face. “Not a baby.”
“Oops, Daddy forgot you’re now a big girl.”
“Already? You ate before I put you to bed last night,” Donovan kidded.
“That’s a long time!”
“Yes it is, kiddo.” He put Avadon on his shoulders and headed to the kitchen. “Good thing I went to the store and loaded up on good stuff. What does my princess want to eat?”
“You’re in luck. I have a variety waiting for you.” He opened a cupboard door. “Pick a box, any box.”
Avadon pulled out one and handed it to Donovan. “This.”
“Good choice.” He gently lifted Avadon from his shoulders and placed her on the floor. “Go sit at the table and Daddy will bring you some.”
She scurried to the table while Donovan prepared her breakfast. He just set the bowl of cereal and a glass of juice in front of her when the phone rang. He felt slightly annoyed as he glanced in its direction.
Who the hell is calling this time of morning? “Yeah?”
“Rise and shine!” Peter cheerfully said from the other end.
“Morning to you too, Dad!”
“I’m surprised you’re already awake. When you lived with me and Kathy after you came back to Florida, someone practically needed to throw a grenade before you got your ass out of bed.”
“You can thank a hungry four-year-old this morning.”
“I thought the Hassans had Avadon this weekend?”
“They were booked at the last minute for a wrestling convention in Calgary. Ava’s doing shows with Southeast Wrestling all weekend in Daytona, and I didn’t want Avy at your place since Kathy and Peta have colds.”
“Yeah, I think I may be getting their damn bug. Talk about love spreading germs.”
“How’s life in our old hometown?”
“Florida spoiled me, boy. I forgot Allentown has some cold winters. Nice place, but I don’t think I’ll be back to live anytime soon.”
Donovan chuckled. “Now you know why I finished college in Florida. How did the graduates of your wrestling school alma mater like your speech?”
“Better than expected. I never considered myself as a public speaker, but when Ali Junior asked if I would come and say a few words to the graduates, I couldn’t say no. After all, it was his father who gave me my start.”
“Senior helped lot of old-time guys get into the wrestling business.”
“He certainly did, may he rest in peace. Not many people would’ve taken a chance and trained a skinny eighteen-year-old kid in my day.”
“Been a long time since you were skinny, Dad.”
“Always the smart ass, just like your stepmother. You’re not so little yourself nowadays, boy.”
“I’ve been filling out the last three years. Needed to spend more time at the gym if I was going to work at the juvenile probation office. Never know when I would need to defend myself.”
“How are things at work?”
“There’s days I think helping raise Avy is easier. I don’t know what some of those kids are thinking when they don’t obey their judges’ orders.”
“Donovan, hard as it may be, you need to keep in mind the majority of your caseload never had the advantages you did at their ages. You came from a two-parent home – at least until your mother died – both parents took care of you and made sure you wanted for nothing. You grew up in nice neighborhoods, traveled the world with me every summer, and went to college.”
“I know. A lot of my cases never finished high school. You’d be surprised how many don’t want to bother to get GED’s. How will they function in the world without decent educations, outside of going back to the streets and committing more crimes?”
“Some kids may think surviving on the streets may be an easier option. I went to high school with a few who were practically raised on the streets. They knew nothing else. Those kids eventually ended up wards of Lehigh Valley County. The point is, some youngsters never have chances to better their lives, and if they do get those chances, have no idea how to take advantage.”
“Three days in the detention center scared the shit out of me; yet I’m the bad guy when kids get sent back there for probation violations? If I had a dollar for everyone who comes in the office and do everything from scream holy hell to threaten my life, I could take an early retirement.”
“Every job has its risks and down sides,” Peter said, “but you know Brett’s and my wrestling training offers remain open should you ever get sick of trying to save the world’s wayward youth.”
“Thanks, Dad, but I don’t have any more interest now to follow your legacy than when I was a kid and you taught me moves.”
Avadon appeared at Donovan’s side, her dark eyes wide and hopeful. “Grandpa Pete?”
“Yes, Avy. I’m talking.”
She jumped up and down. “Can I, Daddy? Pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaase?”
“Let me say ‘hi’ to my little grasshopper,” Peter said from the other end.
“Did you finish your breakfast?” Donovan asked Avadon.
“Okay, you may talk to Grandpa Pete for a few minutes, and then we have to get dressed.”
Avadon gleefully took the phone receiver. “Daddy’s taking me to the beach!”
Donovan kept an ear in the direction of his daughter’s voice while she excitedly chatted with Peter. “When are you coming home?” he heard her ask at one point.
“Avy, come on; quit playing Twenty Questions with your grandfather and say bye. We have to get ready to go before the beach is too crowded.”
“Bye, Grandpa Pete,” Avadon said. “Daddy says I have to hang up. I’ll tell him you’ll be home Monday. Okay?”
She hung up the phone. “Guess what, Daddy?”
“Grandpa Pete said it’s snowing where he is.”
“So I heard. Glad I don’t have to put a snow suit on you instead of a bathing suit.” He picked up Avadon. “You and I are lucky people to live where we do.”
“What’s a snow suit?”
“Something I hope you’ll never have the misfortune of wearing.” Donovan crouched and put her on the floor. “Come on; let’s go put on your suit and get your water wings.”
She leaped out of his arms and ran to her room. “You have to go in the water with me, Daddy!”
“Of course I do. What’s the point of otherwise going to the beach?”
“Some people take a nap there.”
“Daddy can take a nap right here at home. Come on, kiddo; we need to get moving.”