Glancing at the time Prisha made a point to glare at her husband. Ajay stared at the TV a few feet in front of him appearing to be engrossed in the inane antics of the people in some comedy sitcom. The crease between his eyes implied his mind was elsewhere. Much like his wife he was worried about their daughter who had not come straight home from school.
Switching the TV off “I’m going to look for her.”
Relief flooded her her entire body. “I’ll come with you” she said grabbing her bag.
“Someone has to stay here with Neel” he reminded her of their young son.
“He can come with us” she said determined not to be left behind.
Shaking his head he placed his hands on her shoulders. Leaning forward his forehead resting on hers “you know Neel will scream the minute you put him in his car seat. He hates it.”
“I know” she looked away. “I want to come.”
“Kaia” is a good girl” he emphasized the word good. “I’ll find her.”
“We thought London was a good girl too” she pointed out “look what she got involved in.”
“True” she mumbled glancing towards the door that slowly opened revealing their teenaged daughter. Moving away from her husband “where have you been? We’ve been worried half to death.” She shrugged her husband’s hand placed on her shoulder to caution her “well? What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I um” Kaia stared at her shoes “Aubrey and I went to the beach.”
“Your father checked the beach” Prisha crossed her arms glaring at her daughter “try again.”
“Honey maybe we should….”
“I will not calm down” she shouted “I want some answers. I want to know where our daughter was for the last several hours.”
“Mom please” Kaia stomped here foot “I’m not a child.”
“Wrong answer” she cried.
Glaring at her mother she turned and fled up the stairs to her room.
“Get back here young lady” Prisha yelled after her.
“I have homework to do” she yelled back before slamming her bedroom door.
“You better get used to being in your room” Prisha yelled as she stomped up the stairs. “You’re going to be spending a lot of time in there. You’re grounded.”
“That’s not fair” Kaia protested as her mom threw her bedroom door open. “I’m home before curfew.”
“That’s besides the point” her mother scoffed “you didn’t tell anyone where you were going or when you’d be home.”
“What does it matter” she demanded “none of my friends have to check in every hour on the hour. Their parents trust them.”
Prisha opened her mouth but shut it a moment later when Ajay stuck his head inside the room. “Prisha I think you should calm down before this goes any further.”
“I will not” she huffed “our daughter needs to be taught a lesson in showing her parents respect.”
“Respect” Kaia cried “how about you show me some respect.”
“That’s enough” Ajay snapped “you’re grounded as your mother said. You know the rules. You let us know where you’re going. It’s a simple 30 second text. It’s not unreasonable or intrusive.”
“Fine” she rolled her eyes but remained silent.
Prisha walked to the door looking as if she wanted to say something. Instead she joined her husband in the hall. “Satisfied” she challenged.
“Yes” he said simply happy that he’d accomplished his objective of separating his wife and daughter before things became anymore heated between them.
Raven heard the click before the door opened. He had just enough time to close out of the pictures Aaron had sent him. His parents might be understanding of his relationship but he doubted they’d appreciate the type of pictures they exchanged of each other.
“Son” his father’s voice reaching his ears before he scrambled to his feet. He knew by mere tone that it was going to be a serious discussion. The expression on his mom’s face confirmed it. Shifting his position like he’d been caught in the act he waited for them to say something.
“We need to talk” his mom said indicating he should sit down.
Raven glanced between his parents. He couldn’t help but wonder if they had heard him and Aaron the other night. He thought they’d been quiet. From their expressions they weren’t as quiet as they thought they were. “About what” he managed to ask hoping that it wasn’t another boring sex talk.
“Your mother and I are concerned about you” his dad said causing Raven to smile a little. If it were just his dad this would be over in half the time but the loud rapid tapping of his mother’s toes on the wood floor told him this wasn’t going to be over anytime soon.
“Were you at that party” she fumed.
Frowning Raven glanced at his dad who was watching his wife in resigned fascination. “What party” he asked confused.
“You know what party” she snapped not fooled by his appearance of innocence. “The one where several kid’s overdosed and died.”
“Oh” his face as blank as his monosyllabic response.
“What do you mean by that” she demanded “were you there or not?”
“Nope” he shrugged “I’m not into that stuff.”
“You might not be but that boy, Aaron might be” Hazel snapped. “I know what it’s like to date that bad boy. They can talk you into doing anything.”
“Mom” he protested “Aaron’s not like that.”
Trey walked towards the door “I think we’ve gotten our answer.”
Hazel didn’t follow instead she asked “where were you the night of the party.”
Mind racing he tried to think of something. “We um” he stammered “I was at Aaron’s house. Watching a movie.”
Shaking her head finger wagging in front of his face. “No I don’t believe you. I called over there. His mom said you were out.”
“I don’t know. Maybe we went to the theater. I don’t remember” he shrugged nonchalantly “it was over a week ago.” There was no way he was going to tell her what they were actually doing that night.
“Where were you and I want the truth this time” she had the air of someone willing to wait until she got the answer she wanted.
“What does it matter? I wasn’t at the party and neither was Aaron.”
“Stop lying to me.”
“Hell” he muttered “of course I’m lying. I’d rather lie than listen to another one of your sex talks.”
“What’s that supposed to mean” she cried.
“Whatever you want it to mean” he tossed himself onto the bed putting his headphones on and turning up the speakers. He could see his mother’s mouth flapping but thankfully he couldn’t make out what she was saying. The last thing he was going to do was tell her the truth and say he and Aaron were in the backseat of his car steaming up the windows.
Once he was alone he got up to retrieve his phone. He listened to the messages he received from Aaron. The last one caught his attention. With an anticipatory smile he locked his bedroom door. Rumpled his blankets enough to look like he’d slept there. The he slipped out the balcony window and down trestle on the side of the house. He made sure to move noiselessly so as not to cause suspicion with his parents.
Ten minutes later he walked up to the Aaron’s parked car. “Ugh” he groaned slamming the door shut.
“What’s wrong” Aaron asked watching him curiously.
“My parents” he groaned “well more my mom. She wanted to know what I was doing the night of that big party. Like why couldn’t she just accept that I wasn’t there? Why does she validation?”
“You didn’t tell her did you” he asked cheeks flushing beneath the dome light.
“What do you think” he retorted.
Shaking his head he turned the engine on. “I hope you didn’t say you were bang’in your boyfriend in the backseat of his car.”
“I may as well have” he sighed “I told her I’d rather have them give me another talk about the birds and the bees than be interrogated any more.”
That brought a smirk to Aaron’s face. “What’d she say to that?”
“Oh she wanted me to explain myself” rolling his eyes he stared out the window “like I’m dumb enough to attempt that.”
“It might have been worth it to see her face” he chucked. “Where to” he asked after driving aimlessly around the island for twenty minutes.
“I’m hungry” Raven volunteered.
“We could go to my house. Mom made meat loaf.”
“I love her meat loaf” Raven grinned “but we better not. Mom might call if they noticed I snuck out.”
“Ok” he drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. “We could go to the resort. It’s all you can eat at the buffet tonight.”
“You have enough money to cover both of us” Raven asked “I’m not in the mood to wash dishes.”
“What kind of boyfriend do you think I am? Of course I have money.”
“Good” he leaned back in his seat “I kind of left my wallet at home”
“No problem” Aaron reached over patting his knee “I’ve got you covered.”
Erika knocked on her youngest son’s door. The low murmur of assent had her pushing the door open. The meticulous room was in stark contrast to the mess Aaron’s room was always in. “We need to talk” she said sitting on his bed where he lay flipping through a comic book, head bobbing to the beat inside his head phones.
Looking up his eyes saying more than his silence. “I’m not sorry” he said obstinately.
“That’s not what I wanted to talk about” she said trying to keep her voice neutral to the subject.
His sullen face lifted an inch or two from the comic book. His hands moved lifting the headset from his ears. “Then what” he asked.
“You like that girl” she nodded towards the little wallet sized picture he had on his nightstand.
Blinking rapidly he nodded. Lifting the picture of Unity he said “it’s not fair. She has her entire life ahead of her.”
Squeezing his free hand she inhaled deeply. “No it’s not fair” she agreed. “Is that why you helped your friends leave the island?”
“Yeah” he rubbed a finger across the smiling girls face. “I wanted to be her knight” looking up sniffing a little “I knew it would be dangerous but I thought it’d be worth the risk. I just had to see her.”
“You could have asked” she said.
“Yeah right” he scoffed “you’re always working and Will’s mom’s the same. Even Temperance’s parents were too busy to take her to visit. What else were we supposed to do?”
“That’s no excuse and you know it. You’re old enough to know things aren’t black and white.” Glancing out the window “we agree that it was a dangerous thing to do, right?”
“I guess” he mumbled.
“Alright” she turned her gaze back to him. “That’s why you’re grounded not because you went to cheer up a sick girl who needed you. I admire that even though it scared me to death.”
“You do” his head jerked up surprised.
“I do” she pulled him into a hug. “Don’t ever do that again. I might die from fear if you do.”
“I won’t. I promise.” When his mom got up to leave he asked “do you think it’s weird I still like her? I mean my friends at school all think I’m hopeless.”
“I think it’s beautiful” she gave him a smile. “It takes courage to continue to love someone you know might not be here tomorrow.”
“Is it alright to be scared” he asked as tears ran down his cheeks. “I really like her mom. It hurts to see her in so much pain and not be able to do anything about it.”
“Oh baby I know” she pushed his hair back kissing his forehead like she did when he was little waking from a nightmare. “I promise that we’ll go visit her together.”
“Thanks mom” he murmured against her shoulder. “I love you. I’m sorry I made you worry.”
“I know baby I know” she hugged him tight wishing she could take all his fears away.