Author’s note: This chapter comes with a trigger warning due to mentions of assault and drugs. Due to the sensitive nature of these subjects it may make some readers uncomfortable. Please stop reading if you do not wish to continue beyond this point. The title of the chapter comes from a Nickelback song that seemed to fit the chapter.
Cassidy joined her husband on the couch. The worried frown on his handsome face prompted her to ask “is something wrong?”
“I don’t know” he shook his head “it’s more a feeling than anything else.”
“Micah right” she asked taking his hand.
Nodding he sighed. “I wish he’d talk to me.”
She could hear his frustration rising in his voice. “Have you tried going to him” she asked.
He started to nod than stopped. “I was hoping he’d come to me.”
“Honey I love you but that’s a bit naive” she kindly rebuked him. “He’s a teen boy who feels his dad committed the biggest sin there is by marrying someone closer to his age than his dad’s age.”
Running his fingers through his hair Quentin groaned. “I really didn’t think this through.”
Frowning Cassidy pulled away from him. “Are you saying you regret marrying me?”
Reaching for her hand Quentin attempted to apologize. “No sweetie. That’s not what I’m saying.”
Stepping back she crossed her arms. “That’s what it sounds like.”
Going to her he tried to put his arms around her. “Sweetie please understand. I don’t regret marrying you. Not ever. I just wish we did it another way. One that didn’t alienate my kids.”
“That….” she stepped closer. “I understand.”
Leaning forward he wrapped her in his arms. “What I want is a way to go back to the way things were before they felt I betrayed them. I hate feeling like I don’t have any part in their lives.”
“If we give them time I think they’ll come around” Cassidy said.
“How much time” he asked “too much and they’ll think I don’t care. Too little they’ll think I’m pushing them.”
“I don’t know” she tried to swallow her growing frustration. Sometimes she felt he expected her to be an expert in raising kids. She wasn’t even close. It wasn’t until she met Quentin’s sons that she ever had to deal with kids in any way.
“Dad” Dante’s voice interrupted them “Can I talk to you?”
“Son you’re step mother and I are in the middle of something” Quentin said. Looking down when Cassidy squeezed his hand “what” he asked.
“Don’t push him away” she urged “you just got done saying how much you missed them coming to you. Now when they do you tell him to go away.”
“That’s not….fine” turning to his son “what do you want?”
“I’ll come back later” Dante said retreating towards the stairs.
“No” Cassidy said with a smile towards the teenager. “Talk to your dad.” Leaving the room she gave them no choice but to talk to each other.
“What do you need” he asked resigning himself.
“Um” Dante looked around the room “are you sure you want to talk?”
Quentin could hear the uncertainty in his voice making him regret his earlier rebuff. “No we can talk. What’s on your mind?” He was expecting girlfriend troubles not anything of real importance.
“I think Micah needs help” Dante blurted out in one breath “the party’s he’s been going to are known for their drugs…..”
“What” Quentin asked not understanding what his son was telling him.
“You know” he shrugged “a what the media calls a pharm party. Everyone brings some prescription drug and everyone’s contribution is put into a community bowl. Everyone helps themselves to whatever’s in it.”
“Are you saying your brother is doing drugs” his voice rose exploding in the room.
The room was warm, bordering on uncomfortable. The loud music vibrated through her body. Someone’s hand slid up her thigh as they ground against her. “I need to sit down” she shouted above the music.
Nodding Micah led her to a small love seat. “I’ll get you something to drink” he offered.
“No” she tugged on his hand “I want you to stay.”
Her pull on his hand wasn’t great but it was enough to convince him to stay. Sitting on the cushion beside her he grinned. “This is nice” he said clumsily dragging his arm across her shoulders.
His elbow hitting the side of her face almost giving her a black eye. “Hey watch it” she warned rubbing her cheek.
“Sorry” he mumbled.
“You better be” she yawned “I really should go home.”
“But the party’s just getting started” he whined.
“But I’m tired” she yawned again. “I have to get up early tomorrow.”
“But it’s summer” he protested “no one has to get up early in the summer.”
“Thy do if they have a job” she pushed him away from her.
“I know what you need” he said getting up almost knocking her off the love seat in his haste.
Glaring after him she fixed her hair while she waited. She really should leave but she didn’t want to be rude. She was sure no one would notice except Micah and even he wouldn’t care for long.
“Here” he said holding his hand out.
She looked dubiously at the little pills in the palm of his hand. Shaking her head “what are they?”
“They’ll pep you up” he assured her.
“I don’t know” she said doubtfully.
“Come on. Just try it” he begged “I want to party and you never do anything fun.”
Hesitantly she reached for the pills. “Maybe I try one. See how it affects me.”
“What are you worried about” he asked blinking at her his eyes glazing over.
“Well” she remembered all the meds and painkillers her dad was on. All the side effects were bad to awful.
“Take the plunge” he encouraged “no one’s gotten hurt from taking pills. Doctors prescribe them to people all the time.”
Closing her eyes to popped the pills into her mouth. For once she wanted to be like everyone else. Not the girl who couldn’t do anything because she had to hurry home to take care of her dad.
An hour later the room spinning around her. “I need to sit” she yelled but she wasn’t sure who she wanted to hear her. Reaching for the wall she fell forward onto her knees. Her insides felt as if they were on fire. Her stomach heaved spilling all its contents onto the floor but it didn’t make her feel much better. Others around her were moaning and clutching their stomachs. Micah lay on the floor his eyes closed his face a chalky white.
The room tilted and swam before her eyes. Jerkily she pulled her phone out with unsteady fingers she pressed the numbers to summon help. She passed out before she heard the emergency dispatcher speak in her ear.
“What’s up with every teenager tonight” Malcolm demanded as he walked into the break room. Jeremy was already sipping a lukewarm cup of coffee.
Looking up from reading the newspaper spread out in front of him Jeremy said “it feels like every kid is on a death wish tonight.”
“What’s it been? Two fatal car accidents and a suicide so far” Malcolm asked sitting down across the table.
“So far and the nights not over yet” he sighed. “Night’s like this I hate being a doctor.”
“Be thankful you don’t have to work in the ER every weekend” Malcolm said.
“Believe me I am” Jeremy agreed grimacing at the now cold coffee in his cup. “It’s bad enough having to work it once every couple of months.”
A nurse stuck her head inside the room. “Heads up doctors. We’re getting more casualties.”
“Another car accident” Malcolm groaned knocking back his coffee.
“Multiple overdoses” the nurse said “a bunch of kids decided to throw themselves a party.”
“Stupid kids” Jeremy complained getting up and tossing the remnants of his coffee in the trash.
To the nurse Malcolm said “make sure we have a large supply of activated charcoal on hand. We may be needing that tonight.”
“Already done” she said as the emergency doors whisked open and the first victims were rolled inside.
Jeremy turned around shock freezing him in place.
“Daddy” his daughter’s voice breaking him from his trance. “I’m sorry daddy.”
“It’s going to be alright sweetie” he blinked back the hot tears stinging his eyes. Turning to the nurse “go get another doctor in here stat.”
“Right” she left at a near run.
“Sweetie” he pressed down on her abdomen “does this hurt?” His heart shattered when she shrieked in pain. “Do you know what and how much of it you took?”
Shaking her head crying “it really hurts daddy. Please make it stop.”
“We’re going to do everything we can sweetie” he stepped back to allow the other doctor room to work. A tug on his arm caused him to look down at a nurse.
“ Doctor you’re needed in exam room one” she said.
He wanted to scream at her he couldn’t be bothered but he knew there was nothing he could do in here. His little girl was in the best hands possible and he would be better off helping someone else.
Following the nurse to exam room one he took a deep breath forcing the sense of dread filling his stomach away. He looked down at another teenager writhing in pain. “Someone find out what these kids were talking” he shouted at anyone within earshot.
It was going to be a long hard night before things calmed down. He later found out that out of the twenty kids that had been brought in there had been two fatalities. Six in critical condition. The rest were resting comfortably
Jace walked along the quiet beach. Seagulls called at each other occasionally swooping down to inspect the lone figure walking below them. Jace hated their raucous calls and the way it make him feel they were about to attack. It stirred up uncomfortable feelings he was reenacting a scene from an old movie he’d seen once and thoroughly expected a whole flock of birds to swoop down and peck him to death.
Stopping, he turned wishing he weren’t alone. It was his own fault. It was his decision to go for a walk thus separating himself from his friends. The fact that no one had noticed convinced him that he really was invisible. A feeling he’d had more and more lately. Not that he blamed Jason. If anyone deserved to be lost in a world all his own it was him. It was good to see him happy not to mention that Damian was hot!
A soft mewling sound caught his attention. Looking around he tried to make out where the sound was coming from. His first instinct was to run. Anything making that sound couldn’t be good. Taking a deep breath he tried to calm himself as he searched for the source of the sound. “OMG” he muttered recognizing a nearby figure.
The man’s eyes fluttered open, red from tears. He moaned trying to curl into a tight ball as if he were afraid of Jace coming towards him. His arms were wrapped tightly around his middle holding his shirt closed.
“Are you alright” Jace asked reaching out to touch the man’s shoulder.
Flinching at his touch the man attempted to scurry further into the bush behind him.
Raising his hands up holding his palms out “I’m not going hurt you” Jace assured him.
“I want to go home” he whispered in response to Jace’s words.
Frowning Jace knelt beside him. He could tell from the bruises on the man’s face and the lack of buttons and tears in his clothing that something horrible had happened. “Would you like me to call someone to come help you” he offered as he scanned the darkening beach.
Tears running down his cheeks “I want to go home.”
“Where did you park” Jace asked wondering how he’d gotten there.
“The resort” the words were spoken from swollen lips.
“Can you walk” Jace asked. When the man almost fell flat on his face in his attempt to gather his feet beneath him Jace reached out to help him. “Perhaps it’s better if I take you to my place. It’s not too far away. Probably closer than the resort.”
From the blank look on the guy’s face he doubted his words even registered. It was a longer walk than usual as Jace kept having to stop and rest. He wasn’t built to carry someone larger than he was. The whole process was an awkward experience. Upon reaching his little bungalow on the beach Jace helped him to the couch frowning as he curled up on the couch in a catatonic state.
Nibbling on his bottom lip Jace pulled his phone out. He needed help and the only person he knew well enough to call for help was the one he’d left on the beach with his new boyfriend. With trembling fingers he pulled up his contacts and waited for Jason to answer. “Hey I know this is a bad timing but I could really use your help. I found Christopher on the beach and I think he’s been beaten pretty bad….”