tagNovels and NovellasBrains & Brawn

Brains & Brawn


Edited by Michael-Leonard



It was a beautiful warm sunny day in the Valley of the Sun, just perfect for a Sunday drive with the family. Mike Stevens sat behind the wheel of his vintage Mustang convertible. Beside him, his beautiful, eight month pregnant wife Jennifer, leaned back in the bucket seat; eyes closed absorbing the warmth from the late October sun. In the back, their one year old daughter, tucked into her car seat, slept quietly as she usually did moments after beginning their drive.

'It doesn't get any better than this,' thought Mike as he approached the intersection up ahead. A truck was in the left turn lane, waiting for the oncoming traffic to pass. The light was green and the road was clear. As Mike began to pass the truck he glanced over at Jennifer. He never saw the pickup truck that ran the light and hit the car broadside, killing him instantly. Jennifer, because of her condition, had chosen not to wear her lap belt, was thrown hard against the door and window of the car and nearly out of the vehicle. In the back, the car seat preformed its function flawlessly, protecting the baby, who began to scream.

The pickup forced the Mustang sideways, until they both ended up on the sidewalk, sandwiched between a utility pole and the traffic light pole. After the sounds of the crash, the crunching of glass and metal, the screeching of the tires, all that could be heard was the constant sound of the trucks' horn as the driver lay face first against the steering wheel.

The trucker who had been waiting to make his turn jumped down from his truck and ran to the pickup, trying to force the drivers' door open. After a few minutes, several other drivers stopped and cautiously approach the vehicles. They looked into what was left of the Mustang, horrified at the sight. No one paid any attention to the woman holding a baby trying to calm it as she walked down the street away from the scene of the accident. The sound of a police siren and an ambulance racing to the scene could be heard in the distance as she turned from the street into her apartment complex.

Moments later EMT personnel were doing their job, assessing the situation and providing emergency aid. They could tell that the man driving the car was already dead; the pregnant woman was in extremely critical condition and probably would not survive. The police were taking care of the man in the pickup truck, who was clearly drunk and appeared to have no life threatening injuries. As they lifted the woman out of the car placing her on a stretcher, she momentarily regained consciousness.

"Please take care of my baby."

"We'll do everything we can," they assured her as they placed an oxygen mask over her face and started an IV. She slipped back into the darkness, never to wake again. The ambulance raced to the hospital, where after several hours of intensive care, it was decided that the only course of action was to free the unborn baby from the womb. Although she would never know it, Jennifer Stevens gave birth to a healthy six pound, one ounce baby boy.

Back at the scene of the accident, the police were taking pictures of the scene and the vehicles involved, and taking statements from any eye witnesses. A criminal case was surely going to be pressed against the drunk driver. As two of the officers stood, admiring what was once a beautifully restored vehicle, one stated almost as an afterthought.

"Why would they have a car seat in the back; the baby was even born yet?"

It wasn't until the following day, during a routine search of the Stevens home, that they realized that they had another child, a baby girl, and that she was missing.

Chapter 1

Margaret O'Hara couldn't believe what she had done. She had never so much as had a parking ticket and now she had committed a felony. Margaret had gone to church that morning and prayed, asking God for a family of her own. She wanted a baby and, at thirty two years of age, felt that she would never meet a man who would give her one. She knew she wasn't the most beautiful woman in the world, but she felt that at six feet tall and one hundred thirty five pounds, even her relatively plain features would be attractive to someone. She was physically fit, had a good job as an administrator in the local hospital and everyone said she was fun to be around. She just never seemed to meet the right type of guy.

That day she had decided to walk the several miles to and from church and had been approaching the intersection around the corner from her apartment when the accident occurred. She was the first to reach the vehicles and, although she wasn't a trained medical professional, she knew in her heart that there was nothing that could be done for either of the adults in the car. She looked in the back seat, and seeing that the little baby was safe, had reached into the car and removed her from her car seat. She didn't know why she did it, but instead of waiting at the scene, she held the baby, gently rocking her back to sleep as she walked away to the safety of her apartment. She had picked up the bag that had been thrown out of the vehicle on impact; and upon examining its contents found a couple of disposable diapers, a bottle of milk, a bottle of water, and an extra set of clothes.

Margaret called in sick the following day. She arranged for the older woman who lived next door to baby sit for her while she shopped for all the things she would need to care for her 'new baby from God.' She told the woman that she was taking in a foster child and would probably need her to baby sit for her for several months, during the day while she worked. Margaret set up a nursery in her spare bedroom.

The next morning she went to work and found out that the parents had died from injuries sustained in the crash, but that the baby had been taken before the mother had died. She went up to the maternity ward during her lunch hour and looked through the glass at the newly born baby.

"Such a shame."


I said, "Such a shame about the baby's parents dying like that," said the charge nurse that had come up behind her.

"I heard that the police are looking for the parents' other child. They think that someone took the child from the scene of the accident. I can't imagine who would do such a thing. I asked the detective that had stopped in to see him -- it's a boy you know -- if they were able to find any next of kin. Apparently there's no one that they can find. It seems that both parents were only children with no living relatives. Poor little guy, he's an orphan and so is his sister if they ever find her."

"What will happen to him?"

"Social services will take him, put him into the system, and hope he gets adopted. I don't think they will have any problems, he's healthy, a newborn, and there's no one to come back to challenge an adoption. I just hope they find the sister soon, who knows what kind of pervert took her."

"Yeah, me too."

"I have to get back to my office; you'll send me the paperwork for his birth certificate?"

"Don't I always?"

When she got back to her office, Margaret put together her paperwork for submitting the new births for the last several days for submission to the State Bureau of Statistics. She held the paperwork waiting for one last document, that of a baby boy named John Stevens. Later that afternoon, she received his paperwork, completed what she had to do, and sent out her paperwork. She prayed that no one would notice the additional form that was included; the one for Kathryn O'Hara, born October 24, weight eight pounds two ounces, twenty two inches, Mother -- Margaret O'Hara, Father -- Unknown.

Three weeks later she received a package in the mail; her daughter's birth certificate and social security number and various pamphlets about taking care of a new born baby and discounts for baby products.

"Well Katie; it seems that you are officially mine."

Chapter 2

In the meantime, the Department of Social Services was hard at work screening several likely candidates for the adoption of John Stevens. After an extensive background check, one couple stood out as the perfect couple for the adoption. Robert and Joan Strong were in their early thirties, both had good jobs, and the potential mother worked out of the house, therefore there would be no need for day care. They appeared to be model citizens and were extremely desirous of adopting a child. It seemed that the husband could not provide them with children because of a childhood disease that caused him to be sterile.

For once the wheels of bureaucracy turned quickly, and within two months of his birth John Stevens became John Stevens Strong. At the time of the adoption the social worker, seeing that it would serve no purpose to hide the child's ancestry from his new parents, provided them with the limited information that she had.

After a brief discussion, the parents decided that they would provide this information to their new son if he ever requested it. They agreed that they would be completely honest with him as to his adoption and who his birth parents were.

One of Robert's pastimes was investigating his and his wife's ancestry; he had built an elaborate family tree going back some ten generations. He wanted to include their son's background as well, so he started his search into the parents' history. He was shocked to learn that John had a lost sister; they had not been given that information. So, along with the other documents that they had received, he placed an abbreviated version of John's family tree, noting that Mary Stevens, his sister, had been one year old at the time of his birth. They also included a copy of the newspaper article that had been written about the accident, noting that Mary had apparently been abducted by someone and was missing.

"I don't know why he would ever need this information or what possible use it could be to him, since in all likelihood she will never be found again, but I'll include it anyway."

Chapter 3

Years went by. Margaret decided that the apartment was just too small for her growing child. The neighbors were also a problem. Not that they were bad neighbors; on the contrary, most of them fawned over the child as if she were their own grandchild. That was the problem; most of the other tenants in the complex were senior citizens or young adults living together or alone with no kids. Margaret wanted her daughter to live in a house, in a family-oriented neighborhood with good schools, close to a park so she could play with other kids.

She found such an area in the next town over, Peoria, Arizona. It was a small, but well kept house, and best of all, in an area with a community pool nearby as well as a large park with lots of grass and a playground and a ball field. It added about twenty minutes to her commute, but it was well worth it; nothing but the best for her "Katie."

As Katie got older she grew into a pretty girl, tall for her age, everyone assumed she took after her mother. They had similar features and could be seen jogging around the park in the evenings and on the weekends. No one ever brought up the fact that there wasn't a father in the picture. Everyone just assumed that Katie was just one of countless other children that came from a single parent home.

Katie was a real tom-boy. She loved to play sports, especially baseball. On the weekends, or when school was not in session, it was normal to see her playing alongside the neighborhood boys. She was always one of the best players and wasn't afraid to stand up for herself or her team if needed. Much to her mother's dismay, it was not uncommon for her to come home with a fat lip or a bloody nose after an altercation with a boy who thought of her as 'just a girl'.

"Katie, what am I going to do with you; you can't keep getting into fights with the neighbors, it's not lady like. Besides, one of these days you're really going to get hurt."

"Mom, don't worry about me, I can take care of myself; besides, you should see what *he* looks like," she said with a smile on her face. "I'll bet he comes to school on Monday with a black eye."

"Oh dear, please try to behave yourself; we can't afford to have you get in any trouble."

"Don't worry Mom; I only finish the fights, I never start them."

As the years passed, Katie was able to channel her competitiveness into sports; baseball, her first love, then volleyball and basketball. She was a fierce competitor and was not a good loser. In her mind, you would never achieve your goals if you accepted defeat. She always gave one hundred percent and expected nothing less from her teammates. It was this attitude that led to more than a few confrontations with her teammates; but they learned that if they followed her example they usually ended up as winners.

When Katie wasn't playing sports she was conditioning her body. By the time she was a sophomore in high school, she had convinced her mom that she needed a place to work out. Margaret got her a membership at the local gym. At the gym they showed her how to use the various pieces of circuit training equipment. Katie would complete her workout every evening, and then would walk over to the weight room and observe how the serious members of the gym would work their bodies.

One evening she stood in the doorway admiring the chiseled body of one of off-duty instructors. After completing her set, the woman called her over.

"You've been watching me for the last couple of weeks; do you want to join me? You look to be in great shape, how tall are you?"

"I'm five feet ten."

"How much do you weigh?"

"About one hundred thirty five pounds."

"If you want to, you can work out with me. I'll show you how you can add about fifteen pounds of muscle to your body, become a lot stronger than you are now, and get more definition in your abs."

"I don't want to disrupt your workout routine."

"You won't; if I'm not mistaken, you are a lot stronger than you realize, all you need is a little guidance and someone to push you to the next level. Besides it gets rather boring working out alone all the time. What do you say; we can start tomorrow evening."

"OK, what time do you want me to be here?"

"7:00 would be good. By the way, my name is Joan."

"I'm Katie. Thank you for letting me do this."

"Katie, don't thank me yet. You'll find me a tough task master, but I will get results, you'll see."

Katie ran home that evening and told her mother about her new workout partner and her plans for the following evening.

"Just remember that school work comes first. I want you to get a good education, that means getting into college and you'll need good grades to get in."

"I know, Mom; I'll make sure my school work is done after school or before I go to the gym. I promise."

The next evening after dinner and after completing her homework, Katie ran the mile and a half to the gym. At 7:00 sharp she met Joan in the weight room.

"You ready?"

"I'm ready, Coach."

"Coach, I like that."

Joan put her through a series of exercises in order to determine her strength levels. She kept a notebook listing Katie's level on each and was impressed by her overall development.

"Katie, how old are you?"

"I just turned sixteen."

"Wow, you have amazing muscle development for someone so young. I don't think I reached your levels until I was a freshman in college."

Katie watched as Joan went through her arm and chest routine, noting the technique used in each exercise. As Joan finished her final set of bench presses, Katie exclaimed:

"Joan, that was amazing; you just did three sets at one hundred and seventy five pounds."

"Thanks, I've been lifting for about ten years now, not bad for an old lady of twenty-four; but I'll have you at this level by the time you graduate from high school, as long as you stick with me. Come over to the mirrors, I want to show you something."

They walked over to the mirrors and at Joan's request, Katie removed her Tee-shirt. They both stood there dressed in their gym shorts and sports bra.

Joan said, "Watch this."

She stood there and tightened her abs. The muscles seemed to almost pop out of her skin. Katie stared at Joan's body. It looked like she was wearing a suit of armor. She had not just a six pack, but an eight pack.

"OK, you try."

Katie tensed her abs. Although she had virtually no body fat around her middle, her abs did not appear to be half as defined as Joan's. There was the beginning of a six pack visible, but nowhere nearly as defined. Then Joan released her abs and brought her arms up into a double bicep pose. The muscles in her arms and shoulders seem to explode into full view. Her arms appeared to be thick normally, now they looked truly awesome.

"Sixteen inch guns; your turn."

Katie struck the same pose, almost embarrassed at her lack of definition.

Sensing her discomfort, Joan said, "Don't worry, it's only your first day, give it time. It took a lot of hard work to get to my level. You'll get there and maybe beyond; it's all up to you. I just wanted to show you what I believe you are capable of. When I'm done with you, you will be stronger -- physically, and more importantly, mentally as well. Your confidence and self esteem will be evident to everyone you meet. There will be nothing that you can't do. That's it for tonight; get home and get some sleep. I'll review what we learned tonight and come up with a workout routine just for you."

"Joan, thank you so much for all that you're doing for me. But can I ask you a question?"

"You don't have to ask it. First of all, I'm doing this because I want to do it; I get the satisfaction of seeing you progress. I see a lot of me in you and I wish I had someone working with me when I was your age. Finally, I may want to do this for a living, be a personal trainer, and if I do, I'll need you to show what all our hard work can accomplish. That's why I'm doing it; there's no other hidden agenda. Besides, like I told you, it's more fun working out with someone."

Katie ran home that night, and dreamt of Joan's body and how she was going to make hers even better.

True to her word, the following day, Joan had a complete workout regimen set up for Katie. The first day was for her arms and shoulders. The exercises included push-ups, pull-ups, and chin-ups. They would move to the free weights for one- and two-arm curls, military presses and the bench press. The next day would be their legs and glutes day, starting with squats, lunges and ending on the leg press and the leg extension machines. The third day of the cycle would be for the body's core, concentrating on sit-ups, leg lifts, and crunches. On the fourth day, they would start the cycle again.

This went on for over two years. For Katie, going to the gym, working out with Joan became as normal as breathing. By the middle of her junior year, after their arms day workout, Joan asked her to come over to the mirrors. They stood side by side and tensed their abs. If you just looked at their abs you could not tell them apart; each displayed a prominent eight pack. Next was the double bicep pose, and here all the hard work that Katie had put in was even more apparent. Her shoulders were wider and thicker, and her biceps were more defined. Joan pulled a cloth tape measure from her bag and measured Katie's bicep.

With a wry smile, Joan said, "Young grasshopper, it appears that you have caught up to and passed your instructor; seventeen and a quarter inches."

With a squeal of joy Katie reach around Joan and lifted her off the ground in bear hug and spun around.

When she finally stopped, Katie looked into Joan's eyes, and seeing something that she didn't truly understand, she put her down and turned away.

"I'm sorry Joan, I don't ...."

"Katie, forget it, don't say anything more, I will always consider you a good friend and I understand; you're still young and you aren't ready yet, maybe you never will be. I'm OK with that. Really. I'll see you tomorrow."

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