Staring at all the accusing faces Don knew they’d never believe him. It was always Dana they believed. Her ability to lie and cry at the drop of a hat always convinced the adults that she was the innocent one. Which left him being the one in the wrong. Hurting her instead of the other way around. He knew it was only a matter of time before she started doing it again. Making his life miserable but why now? What did he do? He thought they had a deal. He promised. What made today different from yesterday?
He hadn’t realized he was going to run until he was. It was like his feet had a mind of their own. He thought he heard someone call after him but he didn’t care. Breathing hard as he slipped and fell to the ground. Rubbing his ankle he knew he twisted it when he fell. He couldn’t go back. Couldn’t face them again. Evelyn and Shon had been so nice. Now they’d hate him. Never trust him. He had started to relax, to believe it would be different here.
Why’d she hate him so much? She promised she wouldn’t do this to him again. She said they’d stick together. Just the two of them. She’d be his best friend. Of course there were conditions he had to agree to like not getting close to their new parents. She said she’d do the same but she hadn’t. It was only meant for him to feel like an outsider. He had kept his end of the bargain. He always kept his promises even when she didn’t. Reviewing the past few months trying to see where it had went wrong. Maybe he had gotten too close to Evelyn but he thought that was ok. Dana had too or so he thought. He should have seen it coming. He had all the warning signs. He had watched her wrap Evelyn around her little finger and then she started in on Shon. He knew that party was more than her desire to welcome Shon home. When he met Shon that night and he called him son it brought up all kinds of feelings he wasn’t ready to confront. He wanted so badly to have a dad again and Dana was making sure that wasn’t ever going to happen Yes all the signs were there.
Wiping his eyes he limped over to a clump of bushes to hide. Sitting on the ground he rubbed his ankle. Only his dad believed him about Dana. He knew she couldn’t be trusted. There was something not quite right about her but mom wouldn’t listen. Dana was her little angel. He let out an involuntary sob. Slapping a hand to his mouth to muffle the sound as he saw Shon approach.
Shon took off after Don, running faster than he had in months. He was so out of shape from his months in a coma but his desire to find Don out weighed his physical discomfort. Breathing heavily he bent over to catch his breath. He feared if he wasn’t the one to find Don that he would lose him forever. There was something about the boy that was calling out to him. He felt it for a while now but didn’t know what to do about it. He could trust Adam to get the other kids home. He didn’t have to worry about that. His biggest concern was finding Don. Then figuring out what Dana’s problem was and getting her the help she needed. What possessed her to hurt herself? To blame her brother in the hopes of getting him in trouble. He didn’t understand the logic. He should have known he was being played. Dana had warmed up to him way too fast and too soon. Don had reacted the way he expected but there were times he had caught Don looking at him wistfully but as soon he caught him looking Don would look away. At times like that he felt the boy was crying out for help but was afraid to ask. Don was so good with Robbie and Terrell. Dana hardly noticed they existed anymore.
Catching his breath Shon thought he heard a muffled sob. Walking towards a clump of bushes where he thought it came from he saw the top of a dark head. “Don I know you didn’t hurt Dana. Heath told me you didn’t.” A moment later a tear streaked face peered out from the bushes. Holding his hand out Shon smiled at him “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you.”
Don limped out of the bushes reaching for Shon’s out stretched hand. “I thought you’d hate me. Never trust me again around Robbie or Terrell.”
Shrugging Don looked down and away “I didn’t know I was going to until I was. All I could think was that you’d never believe me and it was starting all over again.”
“What do you mean all over again?” Shon asked concerned.
“Dana used to do this all the time. She likes to get me in trouble. She promised that she wouldn’t when we came to live with you. She said that she’d be my best friend as long as I didn’t try to get close to you. She lied. I kept my promise but she still did it.”
“I liked you just fine. I didn’t want Dana making me look bad.” convulsively Don grabbed Shon gripping him tight “please don’t lock me in the closest. I promise I’ll be good. I’ll do anything just don’t lock me in the closet.”
His pleas broke Shon’s heart. He couldn’t believe anyone would lock their child in a closet. Ok he could believe it as memories of the past bubbled up from where he had locked them away. He remembered being the child begging not to be locked away where it was dark, cold and the only sounds were those of his own sobs. Helpless rage surged through him at the injustice that Don must have endured. Hugging Don close he said firmly “No one is going to lock you in a closet ever again. They’ll have to go through me first.”
“Really? Are you sure? My dad always said that but it never stopped mom.” Don pulled away looking up at Shon hoping he could believe him. “You’re not just saying that so’s I’ll go back with you?”
“I’m not lying,” Shon said keeping his voice even and firm. He kneeled in front of Don looking him in the eye. “I’m going to share a secret with you. When I was little my dad used to lock me in a closet too. I’d cry myself to sleep. I didn’t understand why he hated me so much that he’d do that. I remember thinking that if I ever had children of my own that I’d never lock them in a closet no matter what they did. I know what it feels like so I couldn’t inflict that kind of punishment on anyone.”
“You know what it feels like,” Don’s voice held a mix of horror and astonishment as he realized that Shon understood. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly.
“So am I,” Shon said his voice tight with strain. “So tell me what happened to your ankle?”
“I twisted it when I fell,” Don told him. “It doesn’t hurt. I can walk on it. See.” He took a few steps trying to hide the pain.
Covering his mouth Shon frowned at his son “how about I give you a piggy back ride instead. Unless you think you’re too old for one.”
Scrunching his face up Don considered the suggestion “no I’m not too old.”
Later that evening once the kids were settled in bed. The adults gathered to discuss what happened at the park. As they sat around the kitchen there was a knock on the door. Looking at each other Shon moved to answer the door.
“I need to talk to Adam Van Winkle. Is he here?” the man asked shivering uncontrollably in the entry way.
Eyeing the man in concern Shon asked “Are you ill or something?” It was a warm evening and yet the man was shivering like he was freezing. Shon called over his shoulder “Adam can you come here?”
Relieved Shon nodded. He disliked strangers showing up at his house late at night. “Would you like to come in?”
The man shuffled into the living the room. Adam motioned towards the couch “would you like to have a seat.” In Adam’s opinion it looked like he was about to fall over.
Shon looked at Adam unsure if he should trust the man. Adam shrugged “I don’t see why not.” With that Shon took the girls upstairs to talk.
“Adam something terrible has happened,” grunting in pain “please you need to take me to Barnacle Bay.”
“Why what’s wrong?” Adam was instantly alert and concerned.
Holding his arms rigid across his body he grunted in pain. “You remember the time on the ship you spent with William?” Adam nodded wondering how he could forget. “During that time I mated with William. It was the only way to ensure my DNA would be passed on.”
Standing up Adam paced around the room “I knew something happened between you two. William always refused to talk about it. Why the hell would I take you to Barnacle Bay to see him?” Adam continued to pace feeling anger vibrating along his nerves like a live wire.
“I’m sorry and I have no right. At the time I thought that was the only way. I’ve done many things that I’ve regretted but none more than that. It was the only way to accomplish what was needed to release the cure. To end this nightmare. ” Gasping for breath as another wave of pain went through him. He could feel Adam staring at him.
“Maybe we should get you to a hospital or something,” Adam suggested.
Laughing a little “they can’t do anything for me. What ails me can’t be fixed by your medicine. Among my people the mating process bonds you to that individual for life. I didn’t think it would happen between two different species no matter how compatible. I don’t know maybe the DNA changes that have been made to me to blend in with your kind and the biological changes made to William made it possible.”
“You’re saying your bonded to William. So this is some sort of love sickness.” Adam was appalled and that much more determined not to take him to Barnacle Bay.
“No you don’t understand. When my people bond it’s for life even when they’re separated they stay bonded.” He gritted his teeth as another wave of intense pain swept through his body. It was like his insides were being ripped apart. “This pain isn’t mine it’s William’s. He’s dying. I have to go to him. I might be able to save him. I’m not really sure it will work. It has been documented on my planet of instances where the healthy mate’s blood was able to help the other to heal. It might not work. It was rare even on my planet. If it doesn’t we both die. It’s impossible for one to live without the other. If our son dies too all I’ve worked for, what you worked for will be for nothing.” Looking towards Adam he pleaded “will you help me?”
Shaking his head “absolutely not. How do I know what you’re telling me is for real?”
Struggling to his feet “I know you have no reason to believe me.” He looked pleadingly towards Adam “if I can help him, isn’t that a good enough reason to let me try?”
Looking up Adam said “Beverly what’s wrong? Is it your Dad?”
Nodding as she come over to him. Shon just received a call that dad, Bryan and Greg were in hospital. I was just coming to tell you.” Looking at the man then back to Adam “can we trust him?”
Sighing as she fought to hold back tears “then I say we let him try.” She let Adam gather her into his arms before she gave way to tears.